A weekend in Dallas, TX

I spent last weekend I’m Dallas. I had a great time visiting my dad and other family members and being tourist in my old stomping grounds. I lived in DFW for a total of 10 years so it’s always fun to go back and visit. I usually don’t visit Texas in the summer because Texas, but I made an exception because the Dallas Museum of Art had an exhibit I REALLY wanted to see. México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde featuring Frida Kahlo.

I first came to know Frida’s work through an art appreciation class in college and of course the academy award winning movie Frida. I fell in love with her story and her paintings, specifically “The Two Fridas”. That painting both fascinates and kind of creeps me out, but I looooooove it. When I found out it would be on exhibit I knew I had to plan a trip around the dates it would be on display.

Seeing “The Two Fridas” up close and personal was amazing. I was there right as the museum opened so I had a chance to enjoy it by myself and take it all in. Well, me and  the guard who reprimanded me for getting too close to the rope separating the painting from the guests. Hehe.  It was everything I expected and more. Such a special feeling to see something you’ve loved and learned about for years.

Frida was my main draw but I loved seeing Diego, Orozco and the differing paintings of Nahui Olin (who was apparently everyone’s muse). The entire exhibit was wonderful. And if it weren’t ending today, I would tell you to make sure to see it if you’re in the DFW area.

 

I did a lot of eating on this trip. Whataburger is always a must during my visits to Texas as well as Taco Cabana and In and Out. I also ate at some local places, the stand out being Milk and Cream. They are a desert shop that sells donut ice cream sandwiches. Yep. Ice cream between a donut. The process is pretty simple. First pick your bun type (plain or glazed). Then you pick ice cream flavors and lastly you choose one topping.
I got vanilla between a plain donut  with sliced almonds as a topping and it was delicious. The bun was warm and was the perfect accompaniment to the ice cream. Everything I ate in Dallas was delicious, but when I got back home this week I knew a detox was in order. I’m currently on a diet. Not removing anything from my diet, just making smarter choices and making it a habit to visit the gym more regularly.

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Oh, oh, oh! I went shopping at Daiso also known as a Japanese dollar store!! But that’s a whole other post. Hope you enjoyed your weekend!

Birthday Trip to New Orleans

I spent my birthday weekend  in Nola. I needed a fun, but quick getaway and at only a 6 hour drive away New Orleans seemed perfect. And it was.
I spent 4 days and 3 night in that magical town. Exploring the neighborhoods, eating so much amazing food, visiting museums, meeting new people, listening to live jazz and blues, shopping, drinking, and just relaxing and enjoying a new city.
I won’t bore you with every single detail of my trip, but I will give you my top 3!

1.Drinks at the Carousel bar!

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Carousel bar is a located in the lobby of Hotel Monteleone. The bar includes a piano bar in the back with comfy booths and a faux-starlit sky on the ceiling, but the main draw for me was the actual carousel bar where the bar gets its name from.  Yep! This bar has a working vintage carousel with a bar in the center. I was told that it was hard to get a seat at the actual carousel, but I was lucky and got one of those coveted 25 seats! The carousel doesn’t move very fast, only making one full rotation every 15 minutes. I got two of their signature cocktails-a Pimm’s cup and a Vieux Carre. I enjoyed the drinks and the atmosphere of the place. i can see why it was frequented by literary greats Faulkner, Hemingway, and Tennessee Williams.

2.Mardi Gras Indian parade

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The Mardi Gras Indians are a group of black carnival revelers in New Orleans. They perform during Mardi Gras and on Super Sunday/Saint Joseph’s Day. I had no idea who the Mardi Gras Indians were or what Saint Joseph’s Day was, but my Uber drivers, bartenders, store owners all mentioned it as something worth seeing, so I went!
It wasn’t very organized like a proper parade. It felt more like a gathering or a block party, which I enjoyed! Waves of people hanging out, eating, and drinking crowded the street. Every 10 minutes or so, a group(tribe) of Mardi Gras Indians would walk down the street in amazing giant feathered costumes playing drums. The crowd would part to let them do their thing dancing along with them and after that was done, the crowd would go back to hanging out until the next group arrived.

3.Le Pig Mac

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I had the most amazing sandwich from Cochon Butcher. Le Pig Mac-2 all Pork Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Pickle, Onion on Sesame Bun
I mean…do I need to say anything about this sandwich?!
Just looking at that pic makes me want to drive back! I love New Orleans and can’t wait to go back again.

Wizard World Comic Con Philadelphia

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I just got back from a last minute trip to Philadelphia for Wizard World Comic Con Philadelphia with my boyfriend and two other friends. We had a great time exploring Philly, eating, drinking, and nerding out at the con. I saw so much great cosplay. My favorites were the lovely lady dressed as Dee from Rat Queens and Gossamer from Looney Tunes. You know the one! The orangey-red monster with the hair! It was such a creative costume that made me smile every single time I ran into him at the convention. Seeing all of the costumes totally inspired me  to actually complete one for myself. Now to narrow it down to one character.

Gaudi, Gaudi, Gaudi! Barcelona

Day 3

Day 3 is the day that I dedicated to Gaudi. I didn’t want to spend all my time in Barcelona in Gaudi museums so I decided to see the iconic Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia and one museum. Based on reviews and pictures, I chose Casa Batllo. Casa Batllo, a house redesigned by Gaudi, is one of his many masterpieces. It was  commissioned by the well known (in Barcelona) Batllo family and Gaudi was given complete creative freedom.

Casa Batllo facade
The balconies look like skeletal faces!

Before entering the building I spent some time admiring the outside. You probably can’t tell from my photo, but the facade is covered in mosaic of all colors. The facade of the house is so strange to me with all of its windows and oddly shaped balconies. I’ve heard the balconies compared to bats and masks, but I think they look like little skeletal faces. What do you think?

Exploring the inside of Casa Batllo was like exploring an underwater wonderland in some parts and walking through the inside of an animal in others. I know that sounds odd, but that’s what it felt like for me! It was a very fantastical building with surprises at every corner. I was walking through an open room full of windows, turned the corner and SURPRISE! A gorgeous courtyard covered in mosaic and colorful tiled floor. My favorite part of the whole tour was the rooftop.A great open space which gave lovely views of Barcelona and was covered in colorful chimneys and the “dragon spine”.  It took me 2 hours to get through the tour of the house using the audio guide. I’ve read reviews saying not to take the audio and just explore at your own leisure, but I highly recommend the audio if you visit! It gives you a behind the scene history on every inch of the house. And after you take the audio tour, you can take the time to explore the house without it! I definitely recommend this tour to anyone who wants to get an inside look into one of Gaudi’s masterpieces!

Park Guell

After Casa Batllo, I met up with my new friend Nick  to head to Park Guell. Park Guell is one of the most iconic sites from Antoni Gaudi and the one I was looking forward to seeing the most. It’s a very large park and is now a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Works of Antoni Gaudí”. Entrance to the park is free, but to see the main part which include the famous buildings, monuments and mosaics, you have to pay a fee.  Nick and I packed a lunch of bread, cheese, and wine and had a picnic in the park area! It was quite lovely! Be warned, the hike to Park Guell is super steep. I mean, super steep! I had to take a breather about halfway up!  Pack your trainers and leave the nice shoes at home!

Days 4 and 5 

The last 2 days were full of hanging like the locals did and a bit of touristy stuff too. I ate tons of tapas, danced the nights away, visited the beach even though it was far too cold, skate parks, went on a self-guided tour of the Gothic Quarter and took a pay what you can walking tour. I totally recommend these tours. They’re very informative and I was enjoy them. I try to take one in every city I visit.

I had a great time in Barcelona. I already can’t wait to plan my next adventure. Istanbul is really high on my list! What’s on yours?

Barcelona!

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2 weeks ago I went to Barcelona for 5 days. I It was a blast and you get to hear alllllll about it 🙂

*taken from my travel journal*

DAY 1

Hola! Barcelona, Spain! This is my first international trip since Toronto in 2010. I can’t believe I’ve been so stationary for so long. Well, this trip sparked my wanderlust and I’m ready to be an adventurer again!

I decided to go to Barcelona at the spur of the moment. No planning, just booked the flight. I only knew a few things of Barcelona before I arrived and I was super excited to learn more. The first day I was completely exhausted. I usually fall asleep as soon as the plane takes off, but I couldn’t fall asleep on the 7 hour flight. So, I watched movies and played Animal Crossing until I landed in Barcelona. I was so exhausted when I arrived in Barcelona. I took the train to my hostel, checked in and slept until the evening. When I woke up, I met up with 2 Couchsurfing (CS) members for drinks and tapas in the center.  It was a Tuesday night, but the city center was still bustling with activity.

 

 

Day 2

Wednesday! I woke up super early today to go to Els Encants Vells- Barcelona’s largest flea market. Encants Vells is only open Monday, Wednesday and Friday every week. I’m a big fan of vintage and antiques so I was super stoked to get to visit a Spanish market. The market was HUGE and very crowded, but it didn’t have anything that really caught my eye. I was a little disappointed in their selection There were antiques, little souvenirs, but mostly vendors just sold little things you could get from anywhere! Still, I wandered around and had a churro while I explored.

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After Els Encants Vells, I wandered over to La Sagrada Familia. The incomplete, yet beautiful church designed by Antoni Gaudi.  I opted not to go in, but walked around and enjoyed its beauty from outside. It’s truly a wonder with it’s gothic, but modern design, tall spires and beautiful facades. If I’m ever in Barcelona again, I will definitely see the inside. I took a virtual tour when I arrived back home and I kicked myself in the butt for not seeing it. It’s just as beautiful on the inside as it is from the outside.

I spent more time walking around the area exploring and met a traveler from Australia. We just started talking and hit it off and ended up spending the rest of the afternoon together.  We had coffee/churros and shared stories while we wandered around Barcelona. That evening I said farewell to my new friend and headed to Sabadell, Spain, a city about 30 minutes North of Barcelona,to have dinner with my friend Laura and her family. We had  a delicious traditional Catalan dinner and I enjoyed  spending time with her mother, grandmother, and cousin for the evening. Laura’s grandmother kept raiding the fridge and cabinets to find interesting new foods for me to try. It’s amazing I still had an appetite for dinner.

Days 3-5 are a bit picture heavy, so I’ll share them tomorrow.

Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis, Indiana

Last weekend I went to NASCAR’s Brickyard 400.

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NASCAR?! Yep. NASCAR. The bf bought tickets  a couple of months ago. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about going to a Nascar event. I had a few preconceptions about Nascar fans and honestly, watching cars race around a track doesn’t really excite me. However, I never turn down a new experience-so, off I went.  I actually enjoyed it! I really did! Watching the cars race around the track, vying to improve their position on the turns reminded me of skating laps in roller derby. I was fascinated…for the first 50 laps. Haha.  My favorite part of the race was the pit stops. I got so excited every time  a  car pulled into the pit for refueling, tire changes, repairs, etc. Those pit crews are super effective and fast. Can we just watch them compete? I’d totally watch that!

I don’t think I’ll ever go to a race again, but it was fun. If you ever get a chance to see a race at the Speedway, do it for the experience…and the pork tenderloin. Trust me. That pork tenderloin is delicious!

The Sophia quote of the day, around lap 100- “Ok. I’m getting bored. How in the hell am I going to get through 300 more laps?! I WANNA GO HOME! Oh?!  What’s that? You mean the ‘Brickyard 400’ is 400 miles not laps? Oh…ok” >.<

(I posted a couple of videos from the race on my Vine. Here’s one where you can see a pit crew in action and hear how loud the cars were as they zipped by.)

 

A day in New Orleans

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Buskers on Royal St.

My boyfriend and I decided to go on a one day getaway! New Orleans was our pick because it was a quick flight, I hadn’t been there in years and he had never been there at all! Our flight landed around 10AM. We knew we only had a limited amount of time in the city so we headed straight to the French Quarter to start our visit. We are on a tight budget so rather than take a cab as everyone recommended, we took a bus all the way downtown and then walked in the direction of The Quarter. It was a long ride, but I’m so glad we took the bus! Not only was it cheap ($2 to get into the city), but we got to see parts of the city we wouldn’t have seen otherwise since most of our trip was French Quarter centered.  When we arrived in the French Quarter we just walked around. Even before noon the streets were full of people!  Street performers, tourists, and even people drinking already. Wandering up and down the streets, we found a nice little cafe’ ere we had lunch/coffees. After fueling up, we made our way to Jackson Square where we met up with our tour guide and other tourists for a free walking tour of the French Quarter.

The company we went with, Free Tours by Foot, offers a couple of different tours including a cemetery tour that we plan on taking next time! Jackson Square was beautiful in itself.  It was a nice day so there were people sunbathing, picnicking and just hanging out. On the tour, we were guided through alleys and historic streets with beautiful architecture. I was snapping pics the entire time. And listening! Anecdotes were given at every stop. The tour lasted 2 hours and gave us a brief, but detailed history on all things French Quarter. If you head to New Orleans, check it out.

Beignets!

After our tour we headed to get beignets! You can’t go to Nola without eating some beignets. Beignets are deep fried dough covered in powder. They’re the best paired with a cup of coffee and chicory. MMM! We had ours from Cafe du Monde. Probably the most famous beignet place in New Orleans. I’ve only had their beignets so I can’t say if they’re the best, but they sure are freaking delicious.

More walking, shopping, and exploring was done and then we decided to take a ghost tour. We actually didn’t decide this. The bf did. He chose a Haunted History tour. They’re supposed to be the best and are ranked #1 in New Orleans. I was a bit wary of it since their website looks terrible, but on we went!  The tour was centered around the French Quarter. A lot of the same places we heard about earlier apparently had some dark history to them. It was an entertaining tour, for sure. We went to about 7 different sites and heard a ghost story behind each. The highlight of the tour was for me was the visit to the “haunted” bar, Lafitte’s, which is reputed to be oldest structure used as a bar in the United States. I had a delicious Hurricane. If New Orleans had an official drink, this mixture of rum, grenadine and fruit juice would be it.  Though deliciously sweet, those things are strong! The rest of the night was spent on Bourbon. DRINKING! Not for very long. Like I said, those Hurricanes are strong. 😉 We stayed in the India House Hostel  located outside of the French Quarter and right on the Canal streetcar line. It was easily one of the coolest hostels I’ve stayed in. Lively atmosphere, tons of travelers, a huge courtyard and a freaking swimming pool! We booked the day of and stayed in a private room for only $45. Would definitely stay there again.  Short and sweet trip. It definitely sparked a love for New Orleans. I can’t wait to get back and explore more-outside of the quarter and actually eat some gumbo. I didn’t get to eat any gumbo!!!!

made it

I made it! I’m in Memphis. The drive down wasn’t so bad. It’s a 12 hour trip and we made it in 12 hours. Which was good time considering we stopped about 6 times. I like to stop during road trips. If I see a sign that says Scenic Overlook, you better believe I’m pulling over. If I see a sign for some sort of shop or winery I’ll pull over for that too! On the way down we stopped at the New River Gorge Bridge. A huge steel arch bridge in the southern part of West Virginia. It’s the 3rd longest in the world! Every year in October the West Virginia hosts Bridge Day. 80,000+ spectators attend and BASE jumpers come from all over the world come to jump off the bridge. CRAZY!!! I would never do that, but I do want to do the Bridge Walk. A 1.5 mile walk along the catwalk (850 ft above the river) of the bridge.

New River Gorge Bridge by me

 

We also stopped at Tamarack. A huge,interestingly,shaped building in Beckley, WV that sells handmade crafts, arts, and WV wines and other cuisines. We just walked around checking out the place and picked up two bottles of West Virginia wine – dandelion and blackberry.

I wanted those Raggedy Ann/Andy dolls, but couldn’t justify it for $35 a piece!

The bf spent a couple of days here with me and then left. 🙁 I miss him like crazy, but I’m settling into life back in Memphis just fine. I had my first roller derby practice with my new league on Monday. It was an intense practice! I can already tell I’m going to be a much better skater, skating with this league. In my former league, me and a few of the other girls were the longest skaters of the team. Now I’m surrounded by ladies that have been playing 4 times as long as I have. I’m excited to learn from them. I’m a part of the league, but I’m not officially a part of a team yet. They have a draft day in September. When that day comes, the three teams will bid on me and I’ll be a part of  one of the home teams… hopefully!

Classes start on Monday.  But until then I have a lot of free time. Which means lot of quality time with my Kindle! I’ve been sort of a book nerd lately. :/