Food · Trips

Trip to Miami Beach

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For the Labor Day weekend, me and my husband decided to enjoy the last few weeks of summer and hot weather, what better place to go than Miami Beach? For us, it is a sort flight, less than two hours, so we got plenty of time to enjoy there. We stayed at the Pestana Hotel in South Beach, which had a great location and tons of Brazilians working and staying at the hotel!

We were there to enjoy the beach and rest, not really to tourist or to explore the city, but one place that is great and worth the visit is the Wynwood Walls that has great graffiti murals, in fact, there are more than 40 walls and doors that have been painted by several well-known artists around the world like Shepard Fairey, Os Gêmeos, Invader, Kenny Scharf and many others.

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One thing we always like to do in our trips is to discover new restaurants and to taste the flavors of the city. Miami has a lot of Cuban, Mexican and sea food restaurants, so we got the chance to go to some of them and I am going to put a list of my three favorites!

1.DiLIdo Beach Club: located at the Lincoln Road, it has a beautiful view of the ocean. It is great for lunch time, it offers fresh and delicious wraps, we ordered the Ahi Tuna Tartare and the Lemon Chicken and a fruit smoothie. The restaurant also serves salads, sea food and great cocktails.

2.Havana 1957: it is a Cuban restaurant, and they have some locations, we went to the one on the Lincoln Road where is a street with great restaurants and shops. The staff are welcome and the food is great! For appetizer, we ordered the Tostone which was delicious and for main courses, the Lechon Asado that had a lot of flavors and the Pan Con Bistec, that was ok. For drinks we got the traditional and the passion fruit mojito that were amazing! If you are thinking of having diner at Havana 1957, specially during weekends, it is better to do a reservation.

3.Suviche: it is a great ceviche and sushi restaurant and I will do a post just about this restaurant soon!

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Food · Trips

Trip to San Francisco

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This summer I went on a trip to San Francisco with my husband and his family, we stayed there for a week and we got time to visit a lot of places and eat in some great restaurants! We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Hotel which is close to Union Square, it was a great location with lots of shops and restaurants.  Now I am going to put a list and tips of what to do and where to eat in the city.

What to Do

Since we had a week there we did a lot of things but I am going to suggest the top 5 things you can’t miss while visiting San Francisco:

1.Go to Golden Gate Bridge: or you can walk or bike across, it is one of the most famous bridges in the world and the view of the city is just incredible from there, but sometimes the fog is so strong that you cannot see anything, so before you go, check how it is. And wear a jacket, this is the best advice I can give you, it is really windy there.

2.Ride a cable car: OK, few locals ride cable cars, but it is part of a San Francisco experience, everyone should do it at least once. We went during school vacations so the city was really full and it wasn’t that easy to get on a cable car, you need to be very patient, and a tip, don’t count on cable cars to be your main way of transportation, it can be really frustrating.

3.Drive down the Lombard Street: is one of the most unique vertically curvy street and is a great stop to add to any itinerary, you can either walk or ride down the street.  On the top of the Lombard Street is one of the most beautiful views of the city with the sea and the houses there are all so charming (poor people that lives there!).

4.Day trip to Napa Valley: if you are going to be in San Francisco for more than 3 days you should definitely go to a vineyard in Napa, it is 1h40 minutes ride but it is so worth it. We went to the Starling Vineyards, that was a recommendation of our hotel and it was great, we did some wine tasting and a visit to the vineyard and in the end you can enjoy your last wine with the most amazing view of the place.

5.Do the audio tour in Alcatraz: it really is much cooler than you think. Once home to some of America’s most notorious criminals, the federal penitentiary that operated here from 1934 to 1963 brought a dark mystique to “The Rock”, you can do an audio tour through all the prison narrated by ex-guards and ex-prisoners telling you the history of the island and its the most beautiful view of San Francisco.

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Where to Eat

Here is a list of some restaurants that we went that I really like, some in San Francisco and in other close cities:

1.The Franciscan: located at the pier 43, has the most beautiful view of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. It is a restaurant specializing in crab and has great sea food. For appetizer, we ordered the Iron Skillet Rosted with mussels, shrimp and crab, and our main course was the famous crab and clam chowder on the bread bowl.

2.È Tutto Qua!: a real Italian restaurant, the staff are really welcome and the food is great! Everyone on the table ordered pizza, for me the best pizza flavor was the Italiana with prosciutto, arugula, fresh mozzarella and shaved parmesan.

3.Hakkasan: located on the second floor of the iconic One Kearny building in downtown San Francisco, it is one of the best Chinese restaurants in town. All the dishes are to share so everybody on the table can eat a little bit of everything, we ordered hakka organic pork belly, baked lamb chop, spicy prawn and three-style mushroom. The food was delicious and the decor is really cool.

4.The Spinnaker: only a minute’s drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, in Sausalito is The Spinnaker. The restaurant has a floor to ceiling glass walls with a view of San Francisco skyline, Sausalito Waterfront, Alcatraz and the Bay Bridge. There you can appreciate a delicious sea food with an amazing view!

5.Cascal: if you are going to visit Apple and Google you should definitely stop at Mountain View and have lunch at Cascal. The restaurant concept is to mix the traditional Spanish food with the warm hospitality of Latin America. The decor is so pretty and the food is amazing, we ordered fried olives, beef empanadas, braised pork belly, wild mushroom empanadas (one of the best things I ate in my life, really!) and Peruvian ceviche for the whole table.

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Trips

8 things to do in Atlanta

My husband’s family is visiting us in Atlanta for a couple of days so I decided to do a guide about 8 things that you can’t miss while visiting the city.

1. Atlanta Aquarium

Located in downtown Atlanta, it’s the world’s largest aquarium and it is incredible. It features more than 80,000 animals, covering 500 species in seven galleries and exhibits, each corresponds to a specific environment. There you can find penguins, beluga whales, giant octopus, dolphins and a lot more animals. You can also enjoy the dolphins and sea lions shows. The admission is a little pricey but it’s really worthy.

Price: Adult: $39.95,  Senior: $36.95 and Children: $33.95.

Website: http://www.georgiaaquarium.org

2. World of Coca-Cola

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A lot of people know that Atlanta is the city of Coca-Cola and that host a museum dedicated entirely to Coke. Located by the Aquarium on centennial park, you can do both of attractions on the same day. The museum features exhibit on the drink’s historical milestones, the bottling process, the secret formula and a short film about Coke around the world. But the most exciting part of the museum is the Taste It! area, where more than 100 different varieties of Coca-Cola drinks from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America are available for unlimited tasting.

Price: Adults: $17.00, Senior: $15.00 and Children: $13.00.

Website: https://www.worldofcoca-cola.com/

3. CNN Center

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The behind-the-scenes tour at CNN, is a 50-minute tour starts with a ride on the world’s longest freestanding escalator and continues with a look at how each broadcast is produced, including how the teleprompter and the cameras work. If you are lucky, you can even see live broadcast during your visit, the live broadcast normally is on a weekday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Price: Adult: $15.00,  Senior: $14.00 and Children: $12.00.

Website: http://tours.cnn.com/

4. Botanical Garden

Located adjacent to Piedmont Park in Midtown, the Botanical Garden is breathtaking, covers beautiful 30 acres. My favorite spots are the Fuqua Orchid Center, the Canopy Walk, Cascades Garden and the Glade Garden.  Soon I will do a full post about the Botanical Garden.

Price: Adult: $21.95 and Children: $15.95.

Website: http://atlantabg.org/

5. Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site

At the Sweet Auburn neighborhood is located the house of the Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was once a pastor and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center where is the his grave and some exhibits on the Civil Rights movement. To visit Martin Luther King home, you need to book a tour, the tours are filled on a first-come basis, it lasts approximately 30 minutes.

Price: Free, including the home tour.

Website: https://www.nps.gov/malu/index.htm

6. High Museum of Art

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Located in the heart of Midtown, the High Museum of Art has more than 11,000 works of art in its permanent collection and always a temporary art exhibition, when I went was the Vik Muniz exhibition which I really like, the visit was definitely worth it, now they have the Andy Warhol. If you have been to some museums like Louvre, you will not be impressed with their permanent collection, but the temporary exhibitions are worth the visit.

Price: General Admission (ages 6 and above): $14.50.

Website: https://www.high.org/

7. Margaret Mitchell House

If you are a fan of the Gone with The Wind or Margaret Mitchell, you must do the tour on Mitchell’s apartment where she wrote her novel. The tour is about how the Gone with The Wind links directly with Margaret Mitchell’s life story. There are also two exhibitions: Margaret Mitchell: A Passion for Character and The Making of a Movie Legend: Gone with the Wind.

Price: Adult: $13.00,  Senior: $10.00 and Children: $5.50.

Website: http://www.atlantahistorycenter.com/margaret-mitchell-house

8. Piedmont Park

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Atlanta’s bigget park is Piedmont Park. There are paths for biking, walking, and jogging, as well as sports areas for soccer, baseball, tennis and a lot more. You can also find picnic areas, playgrounds and a dog park. On Saturday mornings, me and my husband like to go to the Green Market in the park where you can enjoy local farmers, bakers, jams and some food trucks, and always some live music, the Green Market is normally on from March unil mid-December. The park also hosts some events and festivals, like the Music Midtown which will take place on September 16 and 17.

Price: Free

Website: https://www.piedmontpark.org/

Trips

Road trip to New Orleans

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Last year, the first time I came to Atlanta to visit my husband, he took some days off, so we decided to do a road trip, and the first stop was New Orleans!!! It was a long drive, about 9 hours, we stopped twice breaks and still not that close to Atlanta but it is worth it, if you don’t like the long drive just take a plane over there it is way faster, about 1 hour and a half.

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We arrived in the end of the afternoon, and we checked in our hotel, the French Market Inn, that had an incredible location on the French Quarter but not on the busiest street so during the night wasn’t loud like other streets.  We stayed in a Petit Room of the hotel, we prefer to book this room than the Interior Room because the latter did not have a window, but it was not a good deal, the room we stayed was more expensive than the other one and the window was so tiny, it really didn’t make any difference if we would chosen the Interior Room. But the rest of the hotel was pretty good and we really liked it, was just this detail that we were not happy about.

We were so hungry and tired when we arrived that we wanted to grab some dinner close to our hotel. When we travel we always look at Trip Advisor to see good restaurants in the city, we ended up at Napoleon House and I had the famous shrimp Po-Boy and my husband got the Jambalaya, it was a pretty good dinner in a nice place for a good price.

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When we travel we like to learn about the city and the history of the place we are visiting, for us the best way to do that is in a tour, in Europe, the free walking tour is very common, you pay in the end whatever you decide the tour was worth. Here in US some cities have it, New Orleans is one of them, we found one company, the Free Tours by Foot and booked to do the day after we’d arrived. The tour was great, we learned about the history of the city, visited a lot of places like the Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, Bourbon Street and other places also got some tips on where to go, to eat and explore the city further.

The famous Bourbon Street, had some restaurants, bars and striptease clubs and it is really tourist although not what we were looking for, it is something to see and walk by but not to spend the night. By a tip of our tour guide, he recommended the Frenchmen Street, there are a lot of bars and almost all of them have some Jazz or Blues band playing, it was so nice, that we went back to Frenchmen street every night.

If you like Jazz music, you cannot go to New Orleans and not go to the Preservation Hall, it is music venue in the French Quarter founded in 1961 to protect, preserve, and perpetuate Traditional New Orleans Jazz. It is a small room made entirely of wood, the band plays for about 45 minutes, it is a great atmosphere and a place to you really listen to the authentic jazz.

Another places that I recommend to go and grab something to eat is Cafe Du Monde, to eat their famous beignets and go to the French Market, you should try the fresh crawfish and oysters, and some aligator meat. If you stay longer, you can also go to a swamp tour feed marshmellows to the aligators (as we did!), a steamboat ride and a tour to the Garden District.

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