Nice little trip to Austin to visit my sisters and quick road trip to New Orleans to visit Cafe du Monde which have been on my bucket list for so long ever since watching Chef, the movie. Spent a few nights in Austin checking out new cafes/restaurant with sisters and sisters’s friends, Isela and Merari. Such kind and genuine gals. I believe that everything happens for a reason and I know that without a doubt, she will make a full recovery, more aware and awakened than ever after this near death experience. Sending her healing vibes. If not now, when.
Beautiful exterior and interior space of Proud Mary’s coffee shop in Austin. Took some pictures for my sister’s new start-up business! So proud of her for striving for her dreams, however uncomfortable, unknown it is. That’s where changes take place…being outside of our elements. 🙂
Onwards to New Orleans! French Quarter! Such a beautiful, colorful, historic part of New Orleans. First night/dinner in New Orleans. I got jambalaya while my sister got some bean soup.
First breakfast of lameness in French Quarters, lol. Very disappointing meal. Clearly, you can messed up scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage, and omelettes, lol. Should’ve known, the place was really spacious and not a guest in sight. Next time, chose a place with nice atmosphere or view because if the food sucks, at least you have a beautiful view as compensation, lol.
I finally got the coveted beignets from Cafe Du Monde! The first one I had was good, but it wasn’t piping hot because I didn’t eat it right away…probably 30 mins afterwards. The second one I ate 2 hrs later and I would give it a 5/10. The last one, my sister ate it and it was hard and that was 8 hrs later. I guess they don’t have a long lifespan lol. I bought a canister of Cafe du Monde coffee to take home and enjoy. Airport Security in Austin did find it suspicious so they had to do a chemical/drug test on the canister. Good thing I had time or I would’ve been late for my flight home.
Always Mardi Gras here in French Quarter of New Orleans. Sister loves posing in front of unique architecture, while I love having a subject for my photos, lol.
We were looking for the old French courtyard in the postcard that I bought from a stationary store but couldn’t find it…but stumbled upon this private courtyard that had their gates open though! The person, homeowner I presume, was at the window, but was nice enough to not chase us out, lol. So peaceful there with its magnolia tree and fountain.
Check out that horse iron post!
Walked along the riverwalk of Mississippi River. Train in front of Jackson Square.
All in all, a short fun trip to Austin and New Orleans with the sisters! A chance to discover and explore new places and make new friends!
We are finally able to commenced our annual trip tradition and this time it’s Kansas City, Missouri! I can still remember the taste of the Pigwich sandwich at the City Market and the delicious Z-man sandwich at Joe’s KC BbQ, an unsuspecting bbq joint next to the gas station. It is slices of smoked beef brisket, onion ring, and Joe’s bbq sauce sandwich, with fresh pickles on the side and side orders of french fries and the best Mac and Cheese I’ve ate, to date! I would go back to Kansas City for that meal alone, lol.
At the start of our journey! At the airport. 🙂
At the fountain in the center of Kansas City wearing our sterling silvers hammered hoops that we got from a silversmith at the Art Plaza Fair!
Union Station, of Kansas City! Are all Union Station so historic and beautiful?!?
This is probably my most favorite image from the trip, taken by Cas, of course! It was the night we waited at sunset til nightfall at the top of the Ha Ha Tonka National Park, Bridal Cave, to capture the galaxy! It was a beautiful cool night, with the crickets chirping, and view of the Ozark. It was a night shot full of stars, more than I ever seen! And sooo many more with the camera lens that we couldn’t even begin to imagined!
Such a fun trip! I can’t wait to see where we go next! Always an amazing time with the lovely Cas Pham, who will forever be my favorite traveling companion. 🙂
Switzerland, so different than the Youtube videos I watched, even though I told myself not to watch it so I can have a new experience and no expectations. But, my experience there, so memorable nonetheless. We got a 6-day Swiss Pass for $400 that allow us to hop on any trains, buses, and even boats that we wanted. This is not in chronological order, but we spent 2 days in Switzerland, then 1 day in Milan, than back to Switzerland for a few days, then 1 last layover day/night in Copenhagen. We took a 5 hrs train ride to Milan, Italy for a day/night and it was only 7 euro per person I believe. We didn’t know we have to make reservations so I think that cost a bit more. We wanted to see the Last Supper painting but didn’t realize that it has to be reserved a month or more in advance so we unfortunately, we didn’t see it. Instead we walked around Milan and saw one of the castle. We sat down for dinner at one of the outdoor pizzeria and had the most funniest moment to date. As usual we order too much food. Each one of us wanted to try something quinessential Italian cause it was our “last supper” in Milan before we head back to Switzerland. We ordered 2 pizzas, one with hot dogs and potato chips on it and the other I can’t remember, a calzone, and pasta. We asked for to-go boxes cause we didn’t want them to think their food wasn’t good. And to be honest, we weren’t really planning on eating it again, since it wasn’t good and no microwave at our hotel to reheat it. The waiter looked at us, pondering for a couple seconds, how many boxes we needed. We later researched only to find out that Italians usually don’t take food “to go” or leftovers with them. I guess, in Italy, they give the leftovers to the dogs/cats. We ended up leaving it on top of the trash can for the homeless people. Lololol, stupid unaware Americans, lol. Just Milano hotel is a really nice hotel, with wall-to-ceiling concrete tiles which I really like! It is in a good location too! Walking distance to the central train station of Milan! The train station itself is so beautiful with its ornate stone walls and ceilings! Like a museum.
Next day we went to visit Duomo Cathedral. We took the elevator all the way to top! And the rooftop as well as as the rest of the cathedral is breathtakingly beautiful! The intricate carvings/details that went into the construction/design of this sacred place is out of this world. I am so humble to be surrounded and to be able to witness for myself the love/dedication that the artisans put into this work of art.
I have to say my favorite stay in Switzerland is in Täsch and Gruyere. Täsch (or pronounced Teshe) is a little town, 5 minutes train ride from Zermatt (resort town of the Matterhorn) where stayed for 2 nights. It has a patio with a beautiful view of the mountains and trains! The train tracks run past our hotel but it’s so quiet that you can’t even hear the trains! Here in the midst of winter is where we bundle up with our blankets and had the bitterest hot chocolate known to man, lol! Hahaha, ahhh…hot chocolate and fondue, quintessential Swiss experiences which doesn’t live up to expectations, lol. To be fair, we unknowingly bought cacoa powder instead of hot chocolate mix.
Onwards to the Matterhorn!
We were literally on top of the world! Atop the clouds! Such freedom! The liberation and joy of a life well-lived and the excitement of doing the things we love!
View from our train ride across Switzerland. I always love riding on trains. Something so cozy and adventurous about it. Traveling with our suitcases, backpacks, our entire possession, with us, as we embark on our next destinations. Maybe because we don’t really have train tracks/train journey that goes across the states like Europe do. Almost every European countries are reachable by train!
Beautiful Lucerne with its Lion monument carved in rock and its wooden bridge that span across the lake!
Church in Lucerne.
Around Chateau du Gruyere! My little brother atop the castle’s wall! Looks like a profile pic for his Linked in, lol.
Even their fire hydrant is a work of art!
Little brother and I just posing in front of a beautiful ornate frame inside the chateau! Look at that chandelier!
Talk about gay, lol! Little brother and bro-in-law being their usual cute gayness self. Hmm…I’m thinking I should get them a large canvas print?!
Hard to sum up our adventures in Switzerland but it was such a beautiful, wonderful time. Us, trekking up our hotel room in Gruyere with it’s treacherous rocky incline with our rolling suitcases! LOL. Oh man, it almost took my life, or every ounce of strength in me. I mean I guessed we could’ve gotten a taxi or a horse drawn sleigh but it wouldn’t have been memorable otherwise, lol. Here in Gruyere is where we tried fondue (2x) without success. One turned out to be just different type of meat in boiling water with different dipping sauces, lol. For future reference, that’s what they mean by “chinois sauce.” The second and last attempt at fondue was just steamed potatoes dipped in 2 kinds of cheese! Gruyere with its castle and cheese and chocolate factory! So fun and educational! And where I drank from the public fountain in the town square.
Our last night/day of our European tour was in Copenhagen! We walked around the town center and had open-face sandwiches amidst the crowd and heater! It is also where I got my first tattoo on my wrist, which my little brother gifted me!
I forgot to go inside this Christmas store in my excitement to get my tattoo! But I would’ve loved to get one of these “houses” for my Christmas decor.
I felt Fall went by really fast this year with the changing of the leaves then it was on to wet, cold and dreary! First Thanksgiving at my little brother’s new home! Food was plentiful and delicious! Beautiful flower arrangement by my sister.
I’ve been feeling off for weeks now…lingering chest pain and teeth inflammation scare. I finally made an appt and went to the dentist today. As it turns out, it was nothing serious. I just needed that reassurance. And just like that…a sigh of relief. As always a trip to the dentist…means hanging out with my sister afterwards…cause it’s in Midtown. Going to my favorite clothing boutique, Cuffs, and, of course, getting Jasmine or Roasted Oolong milk tea sans boba at Bober Tea is a must-have! Also took the chance to walk around midtown and taking pictures against the fall foliage and autumn harvest.
I also did some product photography for new items in my shop! Woodland Fox Ornaments!
We all need that…just a day to revitalize our spirit and to enjoy life in its simplest moments.
Cancun, Mexico has always been on my dad’s bucket list, but never on mine, since it just reminds me of Spring Break. But, when my little brother asked me if I want to go to Cancun for a week at an all-inclusive resort, flight/room/food included, in the price…I was like why not? I was itching for traveling again. These last two years of COVID (and ongoing) has put a damper on traveling. I didn’t realize my passport expires this year, one month after our trip…but phew, what a relief, because I didn’t check before I bought the non-refundable flight tickets lol. We stayed at the Riu, Palace Peninsula in the Hotel Zone of Cancun. I would definitely recommend this place and would come here again to stay. Lots of restaurants to choose from, clean rooms, spa, and beach and swimming pools right in front! On our first day there, we got off the plane at 6:30 am so we headed to our hotel, which is only a 35 min drive from the airport via taxi. It was about $45 (tips included) and three of us…so the best option. We couldn’t check in til 4 pm so just left our suitcases at the bellhop and lounge around the resort. Lol…in hindsight, if we didn’t have to wait around til our room was ready..we wouldn’t have the chance to use the day beds and hammocks that they have outside the hotel! It was so hot and humid there already in the morning. So, that didn’t exactly entice us to use it for the rest of the stay, lol. And that was the first and last time we used the hammock on our trip. Note: the “wading pool” isn’t exactly the place to rinse your sandy toes…they have a shower area for that. LMAO. It’s purely decorative. So we were told after the second time we went there to wade through. In our defense, there were already sand in there and a path that leads to it. LOLOLOL. That will make me laugh for years to come. Stupid Entitled Americans.
The next day was our 12 hour long tour to the Yucatan Peninsula. To Chichen Itza or “chicken pizza” according to our guide, Marco. Our tour started at 6:45 am and we were picked up in front of our hotel. I booked through Viator, but our travel company was Amigos Tours. It was a 3 in 1 tour…Chichen Itza, Tequila tasting and Cenote Swim at Valladolid.
Chicen Itza – One of the last remaining temples of the Mayan Civilization. But those Mayans…(how do I say this?) are INCREDIBLE. Their temples and infrastructures are made to last for ages. Our tour guide, Marco is amazing and so is our group, which made all the difference. Only he can offer insight and profound wisdom of the Mayans. Sound Reflection, Refraction, Amplification, oh my! If you clap at a certain point around the pyramid, others can hear the sound of birds chirping. They once had a concert here and people for miles could hear the music for free. A sobering place, a sacrificial place, blood was spewed, lives lost. In this space I am grateful to be ALIVE. Grateful to experience the immensity of what it is to be FREE.
Our next stop was a lunch buffet at a local place. They had a gift shop there and a shaman to bless you and your purchases. I’m not really sure if it’s a scam…supposedly everything sold there was handmade by the locals…but they look just like the stuff we saw at the temple, where the guide said it was all made from different countries. The food was alright…I guess could be better if I didn’t forget the hot sauce!
Our next stop is Cenote Saamal…which are natural caves, sinkholes that fills up with rainwater or groundwater over time. We had to jump from a little height to get into the swimming hole…which I never done before but didn’t have time to think about it before I just jumped in. Which I’m glad I did. 🙂 There was a place that you could just go in gradually that I didn’t see til afterwards. Ahhhhmazing there! If only I had a swimming pool like that! And that ended our tour! Back to our hotel for dinner! What restaurant to try next?!
Our last excursion for our Mexico trip was scuba diving in Isla Mujeres! We took a 30 minute ferry ride there. The station was walking distance from our hotel. 🙂 Isla Mujeres is a small island, about 4 miles from end to end that you can rent golf carts for the day to go around. We didn’t have time to do that because we waited for hours to get our covid test at the hotel before we rush here to make our 2pm excursion. We had a little time to walk around the area near our adventure tour. It was so hot out! Colorful businesses/homes dotted the streets! Relaxed at a nearby bar with lemonades on a swing while we wait for our tour.
Scuba diving time! I was nervous but excited! We had a little practice in the “shallow” end of the ocean. I went down to the ocean floor twice with my scuba gear before I panicked and realized I don’t want to do this anymore. LOL. The constant breathing in and out. And what ifs. I know myself. And when I get to that point, my anxiety wins and there is nothing that will change my mind. My instructor, Karla, was amazing though, I have to say. She took it slow and never pushed me beyond my comfort zone. She and I snorkeled while my brothers scuba dive below. It was amazing to see all the fishes and the underwater museum with the statues (from the safe distance above, lol).
It was an amazing experience and I’m proud of myself for trying and for knowing my limits. I also know I will definitely try it again. Now that I know what to expect. The biggest part is overcoming my mind. At that time, I knew I wasn’t ready…that I wasn’t confident in the basics. Scared of panicking, not knowing what to do when/if my mask gets filled with water and if I’m that deep I can’t just rush up. You have to slowly get up or your lungs, ears can be impacted. All that going through my mind.
Til next time. And I hope Karla will be scuba diving instructor, again! 🙂
My last morning swim at the beach and swimming pool! I’m so gonna miss that! We had breakfast at our usual place (only place open really for breakfast, lol). Packed our suitcases, checked out and then had our last “iced” caramel macchiato at the cafe bar in our hotel. “Iced” in quotations because every time we asked for it…it came to us, steaming hot. I guess we could’ve used google translate to find the Spanish word for “iced” but I guess every time we thought..yes..she understood. LOL. Got our usual free croissant sandwiches to go for our flight.
And that ends our trip to Quintana Roo, Cancun! Such an amazing trip filled with culture, adventure, history, relaxation, and indulgence. And connection: Karla, our scuba instructor, who is now our buddy on instagram. Reminding us, that the world is so big, we still have lots to see and marvel. Yet, it’s the people we meet, that make it more meaningful. Where to next, my brothers?!?!
Just some images I took from our little work getaway to SF. My sister rented an airbnb for her new venture into Esthiology, which she just finished at Aveda! So she wanted some spa + wellness photos taken for her website. This place has a beautiful outdoor space with all its succulents! It was a relaxing “work” stay where we sipped on lychee green tea and have delicious vegan food at Golden Era. Woke up the next day to a beautiful warm sunrise in the midst of winter. Got some Boba Guys jasmine milk tea and food at Golden Era again, lol, and met up with our cousin Steph and her fiancé, Hugo for a nice, brisk lunch at Fort Mason. There were lots of people out enjoying the sunshine. Nice view of the Golden Gate Bridge and city skyline from this park!
Sometimes you just need a little breather in your routine to recharge and be grateful for what you have! 🙂