I have had a major case of wanderlust lately, and I never thought I would say this, but I am kind of missing the travelling and being on the road, at least all the good parts. Rewind to when I was working as a Regional Resource Manager and I would be in a new place just about every month. The good parts about travelling of course seeing new things, trying new and/or local foods, sometimes meeting some local people and getting to know more about their city. The bad parts of travelling, the AIRPORTS, being away from the family, cheap hotel rooms, flight delays, living out of a suit case and always being on the run.
I had several different kinds of travelling, one was alone and a quick turn around, usually to California. These trips were kind of nice because I would be home the same night, and I could get a cool lunch somewhere, usually. Then there were the extended trips, where I was travelling alone, which was nice because I could decide exactly where I wanted to go in the evenings and for meals. The bad part was being a female, travelling alone sometimes going around the city looking for off beat places to try new foods, did not always feel safe. Then there was the group travel, where a large group of myself and other managers would travel, usually for at least three days, together. The good part was I felt totally safe, and could usually talk them into being adventurous in dinner options. I had worked with most of these people for a long time and we had the details of traveling together down pat, and we would make the best out of any delays, often laughing until we cried. The bad part, it is hard to get a whole group of people on the same page, and being with a group of work people for a long time can ware on your nerves, no matter how much you like them.
I thought I would write about some of my favorite trips, as a high level overview. I am sorry I do not remember all the restaurants, and/or have pictures for each story, but I will track down as many as I can. I hope someday I can travel again for a combination work/fun under better circumstances.
Denver – I went to Denver, and surrounding cities often. It was where our corporate offices were located. Downtown Denver was always a lot of fun, and from sports to bar hopping, there is never a lack of something to do. It is also a great town to find locally owned restaurants and coffee houses. I avoid major coffee chains as much as possible, unless I cannot find a local one. Not only is it a great way to support the city you are visiting, I find it also a great place for conversation, and to get details about great places to eat. I often stayed in Littleton and within walking distance of the office is a place called Toast. This fast became my favorite lunch and breakfast spot, and also a good place to grab a cup of coffee. They have so many options, but one of my favorites was the Grilled Cheese & Tomato Bisque, it totally hit the spot on those chilly days. The weather is so unpredictable in Denver, I always had to pack a case for any swing in the temps. More than once I went without a jacket and regretted it.
NY/NJ – I often had to go to New Jersey and learned I absolutely love little Italian Deli’s. I love the smells, the people watching, the fighting, the loud ordering, the food! The coffee scene, not so great. I did get to know the ladies at the Dunkin’ Donuts pretty well and they helped create a drink just for me, when they saw me coming they got it going. It turns out the whole family worked at the one right by my hotel and they were very nice people, at 4AM, always in a good mood! The other great part was a bus picked me up right in front of my hotel and went into NYC! I tried to drive once and it was a nightmare, but at least I can officially say I have driven right through the middle of NYC and survived. I am a fan of the baked goods in NYC. Also the Waffle Truck!! I could never live in NYC, but I can walk the streets for hours, watching people, ducking in and out of bars, bakery’s, deli’s, pizzerias, etc. Of all my trips I have never stayed in the city, that is a must do for me at some point. A little frustrating, and scary, trying to make sure you do not miss the last bus back to NJ.
San Francisco, CA – Aside from not always feeling safe, there is so many good things about this place, that I could go on and on for days! I don’t think I have ever had a bad meal here, and the options are endless. Getting coffee from a local place is not an issue, they are everywhere. Almost all of the places I tried only took cash, so that is something to keep in mind. Most places have a sign up front letting you know, but they can be small and out of view. Whenever I visited I would walk down to a bar and the people would just open up and start talking and I would always end up laughing with strangers. (some stranger than others…) All the same things I love about NYC, I also found in San Francisco, but you also have the bay views, fog and really friendly people. (albeit sometimes too friendly!! haha)
San Antonio, TX – I am going to start off by saying what I could not stand about San Antonio, then ease into what I loved. Hate the humidity, every time I was there it was sweaty and hot. I have very curly hair that was just frizzy and unruly the whole time! But aside from that they have one thing I love, STEAK!! Yes there is Steak served everywhere, who would not love that. And it is really, really good. It is also nice to have so many great restaurants and bars all close together, which helps when you are travelling in a large group. Everyone could pair off, get what they liked for dinner, and then meet up at a bar afterwards. The streets and the layout are cool, I could care less about the canal, but some people seemed to enjoy the gondola rides. I did take some time to check out The Alamo, which was very interesting, I only wish I had more time to go check out some of the Missions. The people were generally friendly, and there were a lot of tourists and college party go-ers.
Orlando, FL – I wish I could have gotten out of the tourist area, but it was where I was staying and was using the hotel shuttle to get around. With my busy schedule there really was not much time to go exploring. I stayed at the Peabody which was very nice and within walking distance of a lot of bars and restaurants. I also attended a huge party in Downtown Disney, which was a lot of fun. They had most of the street blocked off for this private event, and there was food and drinks being served outside. The weather was humid, but not nearly as bad as S/E Texas. I did have one really great meal there, from a transplant restaurant, Giordano’s from Chicago. The pizza was fantastic, and for whatever reason the group I was with, was particularly hilarious that night. But the event I was most excited about was an adventure I would have to take myself (for some reason I could not convince any of the guys at work to go with me?? go figure??) The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, was exactly what my nerd heart desired!! It was amazing, I felt like I had flown in on a Nimbus 2001 right into the movie!! The experience at Olivanders wand shop was one of my favorites, and yes, I even got my own wand. As I strolled through the shops, sipping on my Butterbeer, I pretty much forgot I was alone. I still would have loved to have the kids with me, and look forward to taking them one day.
Oahu/Hawaii – When in Oahu I stayed in Honolulu, but my work was in Kapolei. Honolulo was beautiful and chaotic, it reminded me of Las Vegas with better scenery and beach front. I only had one meal on the main strip and it was terrible, one of the worst I had ever been served, and the drink was even worse. Still hungry I went down closer to the water and found a bakery, grabbed a cupcake and a coffee and sat out front to enjoy the ocean breeze. Before too long a retired Canadian couple came up and asked me about my cupcake, which was delicious, and then sat and we chatted over our snacks. They told me all about their vacation and the adventures they had been having, and how they spent an entire day laying by the pool drinking. It sounded like a lot of fun, but I had work to do, so I settled for strolling all along the beach watching the sunset and people watching. I found a few small locally owned places to grab food in Kapolei and it was all awesome and I found the people in that area to be more friendly and chatty with the customers. Soon I would catch a little plane and hop over to Kailua-Kona to visit another office. Upon landing I could not believe the entire airport was outdoors, security, check in desk, waiting area for your flight, ALL outdoors! The airport was beautiful and the weather was fantastic, all I had to do was get my car and travel along the black sand beaches to my hotel. I stayed at the Sheraton, which was older in style, but the grounds were fantastic. I woke up really early and walked around looking at all the flowers and exploring the beach front lava flows and tree growth, when a groundskeeper yelled “Good Morning, I never see anyone out and about this early!” Yep, that’s me, up before anyone else, trying to avoid the crowds. I had a fantastic dinner, overlooking the ocean at the Kona Sea Village. Near here is also where I fell in love with Malasadas, a Portuguese confection, similar to a doughnut. I picked up a few varieties of Malasadas, plain, custard filled and fruit filled. They were fresh, fluffy and delicious!! I brought enough to the office for everyone, which was a big hit! That evening I sat on the beach for hours watching the Manta rays play in the surf and glide in and out of the water with amazement. They were so large and so beautiful and sitting on the beach in the perfect night air with the smell of all the tropical flowers floating on the sea breeze is something I will cherish always, it was a moment of perfection. The trip was over all too soon and I was on a flight back home before I knew it. I must return someday, with friends or family and with nothing on the agenda but exploration.
Well, this is probably enough to talk about for now, I have many more to discuss, Nashville, TN, Jackson Hole, WY, Albuquerque, NM, Chicago, IL, Seattle, WA, McKinney, TX, Salt Lake City, UT, Twin Falls, ID, Portland, OR; I could go on and on for days. The good, the bad and the interesting about all these places, and overall what I miss and don’t miss about being on the road. My best food friend just got back from NYC with a guest post all ready to go, he had some amazing food & drinks worth sharing, so stay tuned, I will get that post up soon.
What is your favorite travel destination in the U.S and why? If you could hop on a plane and take a quick trip, by yourself, anywhere in the U.S. where would it be?