How to Make the Most of Jackson, Mississippi in less than 8 hours

Less than a full day is crazy short in any city, but still doable. Get a taste of a city you have never been to and call it a short and sweet trip.

My 5 hours in Jackson kicked off like this:

First stop…

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Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

The Museum of Mississippi History.  Park outside of both museums and decide if you have time to see both this museum and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.  For lack of time and because we have previously visited the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, we chose to focus solely on the Museum of Mississippi History.  The artifacts found here go as far back as 1902 and cover the history from Native Americans, Black American, slavery, migration from around the world, the great Mississippi flood in 1927 right through to the current status of Mississippi.  Be curious and notice the innovation they have created to make this museum interactive and intuitive.

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Exhibit in the History Museum

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Old Capital Museum
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Mississippi Governor’s Mansion

Along Capital Street, you will pass by the beautiful Greek revival mansion.  Built in 1842, the architect, William Nichols was going fo plain republican simplicity.  Designated a National Historic Landmark this is the second oldest occupied gubernatorial residence in the USA. It is closed on the weekends, so we didn’t get a chance to tour the property.  If you arrive from Tues-Fri, between 9:30-11, you can tour for 30 minutes for Free.

As you drive around the city you will embark on The Mississippi Freedom Trail Markers.  Each site plays a pivotal role in the Civil Right Movement.  Grab a map or guide and plug in the addresses on your GPS.  We made a stop at Medgar Ever’s House.

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We noticed that Jackson seemed to be quite a depressed city.  We believe it is the city of soul, but it is very obvious that they are left behind in terms of care for the roads and infrastructure. It seems like a city lacking funds to take care of municipal requirements.  Most times, we weren’t sure if we were in a safe neighbourhood, but we took our chances and followed the GPS.

We went to a quaint part of town called The Fondren District.  This historic area is an eclectic mix of shops, cafes, galleries and charming homes.  You might want to stop here to eat or even just have coffee.

Every trip requires a comment about food.  A friend from Jackson, recommended a few places and we decided to go about 15 minutes outside of downtown and also quite a way from the Fondren District.  We wanted a place with the most highly favoured soulful experience, Bully’s Restaurant.  There is only one location for this specific restaurant and they have been serving soul food since 1982.  Driving up to this restaurant had us questioning if we were going the right way. It seemed like we were driving to a dead end.  Just as we thought the GPS was messed up, we pulled up to this little stand alone building with a very small parking lot.

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This dine-in soul food restaurant also completes take-out orders. In fact, we saw more locals coming in for take-out than dining in.  The longtime staff know their customers and greet everyone with the Southern hospitality we were looking for.  The menu includes everything we expected including chitterlings, oxtails, rice and gravy, turkey wings, neckbones, fried okra, mac and cheese, beef ribs, and a whole lot more.

We had the beef ribs, sweet potatoes, cabbage, and cornbread. The owners knew we were tourists, and went out of their way to greet us with joy and check on us more than once.  If you want a down to earth experience and nothing fancy, check out Bully’s.

There’s always more to do, but with so little time, that’s all we got to cover.

Have you been to Jackson?  What did you see and do?

 

 

For Pancake Lovers in Cleveland

Growing up, I would wake up on Saturday or Sunday mornings to the smell of mom’s pancakes, turkey sausage, and occasionally fresh muffins right out of the oven.  Having a flash back to that memory has me salivating and wishing I could relive that moment long enough to finish two servings.

On occasion, I do prepare a breakfast half as good as mom’s.  I prefer to go out for breakfast with Amir and a couple of friends.  On a trip to Cleveland, OH we read excellent reviews on Jack Flaps located at 5th Street Arcade.  I’m always in the mood for either pancakes or waffles and at that time I chose the Original Buttermilk Pancakes.  The pancakes were the right size with the perfect fluff and the taste was an A+.  The cinnamon butter, which I believe is prepared in-house, added a unique flavour to experience.

Food Served In a Sleeve

I love to check out food and artisan markets in cities across the world.  Most of the time, you can get a good feel for the flavor of a city by visiting the local markets and talking to the vendors.  In Madrid, we stopped in the Mercado De San Miguel to check out the food.

This particular merchant served his goods in a sleeve, making it easy to walk and eat your way through the market.

 

Culture and Food in Toronto

It doesn’t matter what city we go to, we always want to know about the food. People love to eat and finding great restaurants is a must for my tummy and I’m sure for yours too. What I love most about Toronto is all the different cultures and being able to experience them at festivals, street parties, community centers and restaurants. I love West Indian food and I’ll devour a roti any day. I first tried this Trinidadian restaurant, Island Foods, back in year 2000 and since then this restaurant has never disappointed me.

Pictured below is the goat meat seasoned in a curry stew with potatoes wrapped in roti (Indian flatbread). Every single bite had me wanting more, even when I was full.  I waited about 25 minutes to place my order and it was worth every minute of the wait. By the way, the lineup of people there was a good reflection of who makes up the population of Toronto and you have not seen diversity until you experience Toronto! We had all ages of people in the line both male and female from Latino to Indian to West Indian to White to Korean to African to Middle Eastern and multicultural peeps all waiting for West Indian Food. I loved it!!!

Now let’s talk about the ambiance of this place.  I’m a little surprised there has not been a round of renovations for 20 years. The ambiance is extremely laid back and it is more of a takeout place than a spot you’d want to host a party in.

The food gets five stars!! If you have never had a roti before, let this be a place of choice when you visit Toronto. Vegetarian options are available.

Have you had anything awesome in Toronto? I’d love to hear about it. Please share!

 

 

How to Enjoy Lima in 2 Days

Another short and sweet trip in South America and this time in Peru! We covered as much as we could in 4 days.  Our ultimate goal was to get up to Machu Picchu, which we did on a Saturday.  I’ll share more about that adventure in another post.

We arrived in Lima on a Sunday and had two days to explore this major city.  I found Lima to be a beautiful city because of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the landscape and its history.  Each neighborhood has its own little story to tell.  I found the streets to be vibrant with mostly locals and very clean.  Before venturing out, always consider what is important to you most and then design how you want to take on the city.  We always tour the area that we are staying in first, to get to know the lay of the land.

Where to Stay

Miraflores – this is a trendier upscale area, which is known as one of the more affluent neighborhoods for living and also offers a ton of shopping.  We stayed at the Radisson Hotel Decapolis Miraflores.  The hotel is ranked as a 4.5 star and that is a fair rating.  The location is prime as you can walk to the beach in just 11 minutes and if you love to surf the waves here are perfect for the thrills of an avid surfer. From here you’re only a 15 minute walk to Larcormar, a high-end fashion mall that overlooks the ocean.  Even if you don’t plan to shop this is a sight to be seen. There are tons of cafes and parks within less than 10 minutes.  You can spend your first day walking this area, people watching, talking to people, and visiting artisans selling their crafts in the Kennedy Park.

Make a stop for a photo at the Love Park (cover image).

There is no shortage of food selections, but on a Sunday, which also happened to be Easter Sunday, quite a few spots were closed.  Without any recommendation, we decided to go to Cafe Cafe to order some authentic Peruvian food.  I ordered the Oporto Drunk Chicken.  I’m surprised I ordered that because I hate anything that has to do with being drunk, even the word irritates me.  The dish was made of corn and chicken and prepared similar to a risotto with a Peruvian yellow sauce.  My husband ordered the Cafe Cafe Style Stir Fried Beef with a side of fries.  By the way you will see meat served with fries often.  The service here was great and if you don’t speak Spanish, this is a restaurant that’s got you covered with an English menu and English speaking staff.  We sat outside as the weather was perfect for hanging out on the patio and people watching.

Cafe Cafe. Calle Mártir José Olaya 250, Miraflores 15074, Peru

Take a Bite of Something Sweet

One of my favorites treats are churros!  We found this place, Manolo, with four varieties: chocolate, dulce de leche, vanilla and original.

 

Manolo. Av. Larco 608, Miraflores – Lima – Perú

Day 2

Hit the Main Square, which is known as the Plaza de Armas.  This name remains consistent in all the major cities in South America that I have been to.  Here you will find all of the historical buildings along with the Presidential Palace and St.Francis Cathedral.

Head to Barranco and Surquillo. Barranco is a pretty cool artsy area with bohemian charm. You will see a ton of wall murals near the Bridge of Sighs.  I had read that people walk across the bridge, hold their breath and make a wish.  We did the same and I am ready for my wish to come alive.

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Walk across the Bridge of Sighs.

 

In Surquillo have ceviche at La Picanteria.

While you can have some of the best ceviche anywhere in Peru, it is noted that chefs in Lima have perfected the dish.  On this note, it was a must to indulge.  I tried the ceviche served with calamari at La Picanteria.  A side of corn nuts was served and I learned that I should add the corn nuts into the dish. I took the photo before I added the corn nuts.

La Picanteria. Surquillo, Sta Rosa 388, Cercado de Lima, Peru

Make Lima more than a city to pass through on your way to Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Traveling with Fruit in Australia and New Zealand

My husband and I travel with only carry on luggage. We rarely purchase any liquids because we want to avoid checking our bag.  We don’t like to check bags because our trips are short and sweet and checking a bag usually adds another 30-60 minutes for check-ins and baggage collections.

While touring Australia, we heard about the honey and thought about bringing some back as a souvenir.  The honey was as good as everyone said and we literally scraped the edges to get every last drop.  The bananas were pretty awesome too.  Would you believe that traveling from Sydney to Cairns, we had our fruit confiscated at the airport.  I know that from country to country this can happen, but I never imagined that within the same country the agriculture restrictions would be so serious.  Apparently, Queensland has the best bananas in the country.  Also, good for you to know, is that Australia does not import bananas due to the plant pest and disease threats that would give way to their local farmers.  I suppose there is fear that even New South Wales grown bananas could carry pests that would harm the banana farms in the North (Queensland).  History tells us that Chinese migrants introduced the first banana to Australia back in the 1800s. Today, the tropical regions of Queensland produce most of Australia’s bananas.

So going back to the honey that we scraped out of the jar…

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Likely the best honey, Tasmanian Leatherwood, we have ever tasted.

We were so glad that we didn’t buy more as even honey was confiscated from state to state.

After Queensland, we flew to New Zealand and upon entry immigration and agriculture must confiscate fruits and honey.  I watched one family lose all their honey that they had in their carry ons.  I was so sad for them.  There is one trick that will likely work out for you if you have go from state to state with honey.  Buy the honey at the Duty Free Shop in the airport, but if you are going to another state after that and you still have that honey, it will be taken from you.  Only get the honey at the duty free shop if your final destination is outside of these regions.  So going from Melbourne straight to Vancouver, should work out for you.

 

Doughnuts in Melbourne

Donut or doughnut oh how are thee doughnut?  I have a love for doughnuts and everywhere I go I typically try to find what I consider a good doughnut shop to satisfy my sweet cravings.  Melbourne is a city with no shortage of character and of course I stumbled upon a popular doughnut shop, but I had to say no as I refused to pay $6.70AUD for a regular glazed doughnut.  I love doughnuts, but not that much.  If you have tried the O.G from Doughnut Time, let me know if I’m missing out.

What’s the most you have ever paid for a doughnut?

 

Coromandel, NZ is Sold Out? Stay in Hamilton.

One of the busiest times to visit Coromandel is in December.  Everyone is holidaying at their beach homes or renting a house.  Hotels get sold out early and you should not expect to find an airbnb to rent.  We traveled from Australia and we had no idea how crazy busy it was going to be after Christmas and before New Years.  Our plan was to drive the north coast and see as much as we could in only 3-4 days.  With no vacancy in resort towns, Coromandel, Rotorua, and Tauranga we discovered Hamilton. We spent our first night in Auckland, two nights in Hamilton, and our final night in Auckland again.  Driving to our desired destinations took an hour or two from where we went to rest our heads each day, but it was worth all of the driving.  In fact, all of the driving is part of the touring.

Hamilton is a quaint little city with a ton of overnight hotel/inns available.  I recommend staying at the award winning Argent Motor Lodge.  The owner, Graeme Hunt, welcomed us when we checked in and made us feel at home.  I didn’t know what to expect before we arrived and I’m please to report that I was blown away with the interior, its upkeep and the staff.

 

Unfortunately, the city shuts down quite early.  We were excited to see what was happening in the town and have a good meal.  We heard about restaurants like, Bluestone Steakhouse, but when we arrived at 9:30 they told us they were closed because they had not received any walk-ins for the last 30 minutes.  There were only about 3 restaurants open at this point, which included Sal’s Pizza, Kebabelicious and some other spot we had no interest in going into.  We loved Kebabelicious for the quality of the food, speed, hospitality and ambiance.

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Lebanese Food in Melbourne

We were craving Middle Eastern Food so we decided to check out Tiba’s Restaurant after hearing people rave about the quality of their food.  Tiba’s is located in Brunswick, the multicultural area of Melbourne with many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean retail shops and restaurants.

Right when we entered we were given the option for take away or dining in.  The grill behind the cash had me salivating for everything from chicken to kebabs to quail. We took a quick look at the menu and got seated quickly at a table.  The food was excellent and well priced.  They do have a variety of options for vegetarians as well.

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One chicken kebab and one shish kebab with rice, hummus and tabouli.

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