New Orleans Vacation Prep

My only baby sister [well, my only sibling at all] just graduated college this past month with a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art. She had hinted at us a while back that she did not want any “things” for graduation gifts. So, instead of buying her some token that would sit on her dresser for the next ten years collecting dust, we [meaning my parents, her boyfriend, my boyfriend and myself] decided a nice getaway would be appropriate. After much research and collaboration, plane tickets were bought and hotel rooms booked for a week-long vacation to New Orleans, Louisiana. Originally, my parents were supposed to come along, but scheduling conflicts left my sister, her boyfriend, my boyfriend and myself. None of us have ever been to New Orleans, so we are all very excited. We embark on this fun little trip in July. Yes… We’re all very much aware of just how hot it is going to be. Nevertheless, we are all so ready.

Brainstorming a way to give the gift to my sister was a fun task. In the end, I ended up at the dollar store sifting through the Mardi Gras section in the party aisle. Masks, beaded necklaces, and other Mardi Gras party necessities were wrapped in tissue paper in a gift bag. Her first guess was Venice. Wishful thinking, sis. At the bottom of the bag was a blank, unlabeled map of New Orleans and a blank plane ticket. Eventually, the surprise was revealed.

Amy and Josh decked out for Mardi Gras

Amy and Josh decked out for Mardi Gras

Recently, I have been doing some research on what there is to do in New Orleans. I’m a planner. As much as I enjoy spontaneity, I like to be educated on the place I’m headed and what there is to do there. I recently found a couple great blogs that have prepared me so much in learning about this fun city. Reading these have amped my excitement for this excursion by a million. From what I’ve learned, New Orleans is a city for the foodie in me, as well as the cultural student in me. Come our return in mid-July, I can’t wait to tell you all about our time in New Orleans. I sincerely hope these other blogs inspire you to add this unique place to your bucket list!

Not Derby Pie: Getaways: New Orleans

Georama: What To Do In New Orleans: Design Guide

Advertisements

Travel Eats

I will admit that I am a little behind on my reading these days, and in this crazy world, I’m sure I’m not alone. I recently caught up on Travel & Leisure’s April edition, appropriately named “The Food Issue.” Food plus travel equals my downfall. Of course, food is a vital part of any travel excursion. Not only does is provide a look into the culture of the place, but it tells a story of the people who live there and how their daily routines are structured. The French, for example, traditionally observe a two-hour lunch break. In Greece, dinner time is customarily late, around 9pm or later.

Food can also define a place. For instance, what would Istanbul be without spice markets and baklava? What about France without crepes and croissants? And Greece without sardines and fish markets? For many Americans, learning about culture is limited to the Western world, so cuisine acts as another outlets into these other worlds. What would we associate with India without the presence of Indian food in the United States? Or Japan without sushi?

The outdoor menu of an Indian restaurant in Budapest, Hungary.

The outdoor menu of an Indian restaurant in Budapest, Hungary.

Anywhere we go, from Chicago to Texas, Spain to Thailand and everywhere in between, experiencing the cuisine of a place is always exhilarating.

Indian food. Yum.

Reading Travel & Leisure’s Food Issue got me thinking about some of the best experiences with cuisine I’ve ever had while traveling. There are SO many. Spending four months in Bulgaria, I adapted and eventually fell in love with their food, from the awesome sirene cheese to the traditional shopska salad. There’s nothing like sangria and tapas at a seaside restaurant in Barcelona. Italy’s pasta shops are a wonder. But one of my most memorable experiences took place in Budapest, Hungary on Easter weekend two years ago.

Awesome hummus bar.

Awesome hummus bar.

Adorable confectionary in Budapest.

Adorable confectionary in Budapest.

While only there for three nights, Budapest was quick to make an impression. Everything about the city was welcoming, but the food discoveries my friends and I made were not at all expected but oh so welcomed. Let me entertain your mind for one second. Hungarian spaetzle, Mexican enchiladas, Indian curry bowls, Greek hummus and falafel, French pastries. All in one weekend. Around every corner. Living in Bulgaria, these foods are nowhere to be found. Particularly the Mexican meals. Let’s just say, cravings were satisfied.

Where have you had some of your best food experiences?