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Football weekend in Austin, TX - Day 3

Saturday

Game Day!

Since we were out late the last two nights, we slept in and took it easy until it was time to head to the stadium for the game. So we got cleaned up and dressed and then proceeded to sweat continually for the next 4 hours in the Texas heat. Awesome!

The stadium was incredible and the Texas fans were LOUD. It was a great game and, luckily, Ole Miss won :-)

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By the time the game ended and we were shuttled back to our hotel, we were STARVING. It was late and hotel room service had ended so there was only one logical choice...Whataburger!!!!!!!! I was so excited. The last Whataburger in Memphis closed years ago so it was a treat to stop there for a midnight snack. Burgers, fries, shakes, and of course their chicken biscuit for dessert...soooo good.

Posted by tammy_b 17:18 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Football weekend in Austin, TX - Day 2

Friday

This morning we stopped off at La Mexicana Bakery for their awesome breakfast tacos (eggs & chorizo for me!) and baked pastries (sweet bread & apple empanadas).

Then we went to the Texas Museum of History to escape the heat for a few hours and later ended up at the Barton Creek swimming pool. This is a spring-fed swimming hole that has been turned into a swimming pool. The bottom is made up of rocks and dirt and there is algae and wildlife in the water so it's not your typical chlorinated concrete pool. The water was sooooo cold...maybe 65 degrees if not cooler. It felt great under that hot sun. Our only complaint was that we didn't have lawn chairs to use so we were laying out on the grass. It wouldn't have been so bad but we must have settled on top of a biting ant colony because they were everywhere. Ouch!

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By this time, we had worked up an appetite so we went to County Line for some Texas barbeque. This place was amazing. There were huge windows overlooking the giant patio and rolling hills beyond. The food was FAN-tastic. Eric and I both had sample platters and tried a little bit of everything...homemade bread with honey butter, Mexican deviled eggs, sausage, lean brisket, 2nd cut brisket, ribs, green beans, mac & cheese, and potato salad. We ended it with blackberry cobbler and homemade vanilla bean icecream. Yummy :-)

Later, that night we attended the Ole Miss kick-off party at the Rattle Inn and afterwards headed back down 6th Street from the other direction. Our first stop was the Driskill Hotel bar because I had to try the Brazos Batini...made with Tito's handmade vodka, hibiscus & ginger infused simple syrup, agave, and sweet-n-sour...this drink was a little spicy.

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We wandered back out to the street again where every bar was playing different kinds of music. You could just stand on the sidewalk, listen awhile, and decide if you wanted to go in or not.

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Somehow, we found ourselves back at Pete's.

At some point, a school cheer contest erupted and before I knew it, Eric was up on stage with another Ole Miss fan.

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This is me sharing a giant rubber duckie drink with some guy we met.

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Posted by tammy_b 17:18 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Football weekend in Austin, TX - Day 1

Thursday

Eric is a HUGE Ole Miss football fan so in addition to attending all the home games in Oxford, we also try to go to one away game each year. I have to admit that when Eric first mentioned Austin as our football trip this year, I wasn't overly excited. However, once I started doing my research, I quickly realized that it's a pretty cool place with a ton of great things to do.

After an early flight, we arrived in Austin, checked into our hotel, and then walked down the street to Zax Restaurant & Bar for a snack and some vacation celebration drinks. Eric tried a couple of the local brews while I tried two different margaritas. One had tequila infused with jalapenos so it was really spicy.

That evening, we had tickets for the comedy show at Esther's Follies so after relaxing a bit at the hotel, we made our way down to 6th Street. We didn't have much time before the show started so we grabbed a couple of slices of "The Godfather" from Roppolo's Pizza and walked down to the theater.

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The show was incredible! I'm not one that really laughs out loud much but it kept me laughing the whole time. It touched on every social and political issue in the news today without delving too deep so it was easy to follow and very funny. The skits were comprised of singing and dancing with some magic segments woven throughout. Behind the stage was a large window overlooking 6th Street so the show regularly made fun of the people on the sidewalk as they looked in and wondered why we were all laughing. It was a very fun time.

After the show, we were back on 6th Street and wandered in and out of several bars until we found ourselves inside Pete's Dueling Piano Bar. That's where we stayed the rest of the night. What a great atmosphere! The musicians really contributed to the fun factor. Everyone was drinking and singing along to every song.

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Before we knew it, it was late and time to head back to the hotel. These pedi-cabs were EVERYWHERE so we decided to give one a try. Initially, we thought the quoted price of $10 per person was a bit steep for just a few blocks but when it's 2am and you're drunk in a strange city, it's actually a pretty good deal.

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Posted by tammy_b 17:18 Archived in USA Tagged austin Comments (0)

Anyone up for Fond Doux?

St. Lucia


View St. Lucia on tammy_b's travel map.

Needing a break from work and winter weather, we escaped to the Fond Doux Resort & Plantation on St. Lucia for a long weekend. Located just outside Soufriere on the southern part of the island, we felt like we had stumbled onto our own bit of Eden.

Fond Doux offers a wonderful alternative to the giant all-inclusive resorts found elsewhere on the island. It is a working cocoa plantation in the jungle with 10 or so cottages spread throughout the property. Trails meander around the grounds among lush plants, herbs, and fruit trees. The jungle is dense so your cottage is secluded from the other guests and feels very tranquil and private. Most of the produce served in the open-air restaurant is grown on the property. There is also a chicken coop on site for fresh eggs each morning.

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Friday

On our first full day, we took the hotel shuttle to Jalousie Beach situated on the Hilton Resort Property between the Gros and Petit Pitons. The beaches on St. Lucia are very rocky but Jalousie has a man-made sand beach that was nice.

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I couldn't resist buying a baby coconut from the Coconut Man walking the beach.

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Saturday

Today, we went ziplining in Dennery and then did a short hike to Errand Falls. At the time we were there, the island was experiencing drought conditions so the water levels at the falls were very low.

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After the hike, our tour guide, Spencer Ambrose, surprised us and took us to his home where his lovely wife, Nemfeh, had cooked a feast for lunch. Chicken, fried fish, macaroni casserole, ground provisions (root vegetables), and rum punch were just some of the offerings. There was so much food! The hospitality of Spencer and his family was incredible.

Later in the day, our new friend, Phillip, gave us an official tour of the Fond Doux plantation. Along the way, we sampled jungle M&M's and hiked the Chateaubelair Trail on the estate grounds for breathtaking views of the Pitons.

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Sunday

Today was a lazy day. Eric napped and I lounged around the cottage and pool just reading and relaxing.

Monday

Today we went on a tour of the rum distillery. It wasn't really a tour but rather a tasting . You could sample any of the rums...as much as you wanted for $3.00 per person. Not a bad deal except that at 10:00 am I couldn't stomach very many shots. There weren't any mixers so we were drinking straight rum.

Our guide, Curtis, was fantastic. In addition to sharing his knowledge of St. Lucia with us, he made several stops so we could sample fresh bananas, salt fish, and cassava bread. He also drove us through the volcano and we stopped for a quick look. There wasn't much to see. Mainly some bubbling pools of water.

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Afterward, we had lunch at Ladera which offered more great views of the Pitons.

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After a couple of adventurous days and a much needed mental break from work, our time on St. Lucia was coming to an end. We were headed back home in the morning.

Posted by tammy_b 23:51 Archived in Saint Lucia Tagged st_lucia fond_doux Comments (0)

Girls cruise to Alaska

Day 1 - Making it to the boat

My best friend, Patti, and I had an early flight from Memphis to Seattle. After a connecting flight in Charlotte and a bus ride to the dock, our long awaited girls trip was about to begin.

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For some reason, whenever I go on a cruise, it always seems so stressful to get to the dock, stand in line with the masses, get checked in, and finally walk up the gangway to the boat.

Maybe it's the anticipation of the adventure that awaits...or maybe the fear of getting left behind.

No matter...we had made it! It was time to celebrate!

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Day 2 - Day at Sea

Today wasn't very exciting. It was too chilly to hang out on the deck so we spent the day exploring the ship and window shopping. Luckily, we found the Martini Bar pretty quickly.

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Day 3 - Ketchikan

There was perfect weather today. It was in the 60's with clear skies in a town that has rain 360 days of the year. We met a retired fishing boat captain who had great information on the town's history and the local wildlife.

After exploring Creek Street, watching for salmon and harbor seals, and shopping, we stopped at the Halibut Hole for lunch. We sat outside on the deck which had great views and ate the crab cakes and fries. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in the crab cakes. Don't get me wrong...they were sufficient. I guess I just expected them to taste better than the ones I've had at home in Memphis since we were at the source.

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Day 4 (AM) - Tracy Arm Fjord

This morning it was freezing cold & raining. We sat under the covered deck bundled up in coats, gloves, and blankets and sipped on hot chocolate while taking in the mountains, waterfalls, and icy water.

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Day 4 (PM) - Juneau

This afternoon, I went on a whale-watching excursion and it was incredible. It's hard to imagine how fast these giant creatures move. They would jump out of the water, with their entire body in the air and my poor little camera wasn't fast enough to capture them. Instead, I got a lot of fin pictures but I was still pretty excited. Time to start thinking about a DSLR...

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The tour also made a stop at Mendenhall Glacier.

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Day 5 - Skagway

Skagway is known as the home of the North Wind. Today it was mid 50's and WINDY.

The tour took us to the Gold Rush Cemetery,

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Lower Reid Falls,

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And White Pass Summit where we crossed into Canada and then came back into Alaska.

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After returning back to town, I met up with Patti and we ended up at the Skagway Brewing Company for lunch and their beer sampler. My favorite was the Spruce Tip Blonde Ale. It's made from Sitka spruce tips and was very good...light colored with a slightly sweet nutty taste.

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Afterwards, we walked along the main strip before returning to the ship.

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And for the people on your list that are hard to shop for...

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Tonight we decided to visit our friends at the Martini Bar and continue our "Sampler" theme. The bartender was amazing. He mixed up each martini separately, stacked them up, and poured them all at one time. So cool!

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Day 6 - Victoria, British Columbia

It was late afternoon when we arrived in Victoria so we just caught glimpses of the Parliament Building & the Empress Hotel on our way to Butchart Gardens. The city is beautiful with hanging baskets of flowers EVERYWHERE.

Butchart Gardens was absolutely stunning. I wish we had more time and daylight to take in its beauty. We arrived at dusk so we saw most of it in the dark illuminated with spotlights and lighted paths. It was a very romantic setting.

I will definitely be back to explore this city when I can spend a few days.

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Day 7 - Back to reality

Today, it was time to catch our flight back home and I have to admit I was ready. It had been a great trip but 7 days on the boat was a little too much for me. Alaska's landscape was beautiful and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to experience it.

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Posted by tammy_b 09:10 Archived in USA Tagged alaska cruise Comments (0)

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