Yoho and Radium

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On my birthday, I wanted to see the sunrise, so we started driving in the total darkness.

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Weather did not cooperate; since it was so cloudy there really was no sunrise.

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But we did get to check one thing off my list…

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Canoeing at Emerald Lake was $60 CAD (as of Sept 2017), muchhhh cheaper than Lake Louise which charged $105 CAD (per hour).

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I loved the color of this lake – so much more than all the other lakes we saw on this trip. It was also less touristy and not as crowded.

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After hitting up Takakkaw Falls, we decided we still had time to go to Radium…

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Dinner at Old Salzburg Restaurant – Austrian food which means schnitzel, spatzel, strudel!

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It was around $6 CAD to get into the Radium Hot Springs.

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It was pretty awesome soaking in a hot pool while staring off into the mountains.

On this Canadian Rockies trip, we checked off a lot of things on our bucket list! The next time we come back (and I hope we do), I want to:

  • Finally get to Maligne Lake
  • Hike to Lake O’Hara
  • See the Northern Lights
  • See more sunrises and sunsets!

Banff Lakes: Louise, Agnes, Vermilion

We started our hike from Lake Louise. It started snowing in the middle of the hike and at one point, hailing!

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The snow made for interesting pictures though.

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Mirror Lake

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Went into Lake Agnes Tea House to sit out the hail – apparently everyone else had the same idea. It was crowded, dark (no electricity), but we somehow got seats. Cash only! They take CAD and USD but will only give change back in CAD.

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Lake Agnes after the storm.

After the hike, we drove to Vermilion Lakes for sunset.

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Vermilion Lakes are a series of 3 lakes – we drove from one to another to check out the best spot for photographing the sunset. Honestly, all 3 were spectacular. We decided on the last lake since we didn’t want to risk not being able to park and miss the short window.

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The colors shifted right in front of our eyes. One of the most stunning sunsets I’ve ever seen.

Again, we camped out at Tunnel Mountain Village 1 Campground (highly recommended).

Banff in September: Moraine Lake, Larch Valley & Sentinel Pass

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For my birthday last year, I decided to check out the Canadian Rockies. We stayed in Calgary the first night. The drive from Calgary to Banff was only 1.5 hours. I liked Calgary a lot – there were a lot of hip restaurants and bars, and outdoor art installations (free interactive musical see-saws!) at the Riverwalk.

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First thing we did after arriving in Banff: went on a boat and cruised around Lake Minnewanka. Then we walked around the town of Banff. I was unprepared for the cold weather in September, which gave me an excuse to buy a new down jacket (love shopping in Canada, feels like a bargain with the Canadian dollar: 1USD=1.3CAD).

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Lunch at Park Distillery – pretty good meal and extremely friendly service. Highly recommended.

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Did the touristy gondola thing.

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This view though.

We camped out that night at Tunnel Mountain Village 1 Campground – it was perfect, clean, and I highly recommend it. Much better than Lake Louise Campground which we later on discovered.

Breakfast at The Bison – pretty good bison burger!

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We passed by the parking lot leading to Lake Louise and there were long lines of cars outside the entrance waiting to get in. For Moraine Lake, we got lucky. If you wait a bit inside the parking lot, you’ll eventually get a spot – seems like there were fast turnover rates for people visiting the lakes.

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Moraine Lake – where you go to start the hike to Larch Valley. September is the perfect time to see the golden larch trees!

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Sentinel Pass via Larch Valley

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Those larch trees.

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Loved the wide open landscape here.

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Hiking through Larch Valley was easy, but going up to Sentinel Pass was a little more strenuous. Worth it though.

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After this point, turn around and proceed to the top…

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Waiting for sunset at Moraine. There was a huge rock pile for people to scramble up. The higher you go, the bluer the lake looks. It was nice to relax here after the hike.

Cuba: Viñales: Cave, Cigars, Horseback Riding

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I booked a tour through Havana Journeys to check out Viñales. Our driver and tour guide were great! The car was air-conditioned and clearly well taken care of. Highly recommended!

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Coffee with that sugarcane.

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Cave tour. $5.

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Cuba

Tobacco farm.

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Cuba

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Rode a horse. It was sad because the horses looked weak and skinny.

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Great view at this restaurant.

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Ropa Vieja again. Food was okay here; tourist prices.

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Back in Havana, dinner at Castropol:

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Seems like there are always great views at restaurants in Cuba.

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Cuba

Cuba

 

Texas road trip: Dallas & Austin

DALLAS highlights

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  1. Walk around Deep Ellum: a neighborhood that is quirky and has lots of wall murals everywhere.

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2) Get a donut from Glazed Donut Works 

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3) Get BBQ from Pecan LodgeGet here when it opens! Beef rib is where it’s at. One of the best BBQs I’ve ever had. Also got brisket but man, that giant beef rib is SO worth it! We got there at opening time and there was already a congregation of hungry people waiting around.

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BEEF RIB.

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*A little out of the way, but if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by 9 Rabbits Bakery.

On the way to Austin, there is a stop in between that’s called Czech Stop. Open 24/7, they sell kolaches which are these:

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AUSTIN highlights

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1)  Hamilton Pool Preserve such a cool place with a waterfall and places to sit and chill. $15 per car (cash). Plenty of parking. The day we went there, the water had high levels of bacteria so we were not allowed to go in. Would’ve loved to dive right in!

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2) Salt Lick BBQ was one of the highly recommended bbq places but kinda out of the way. We still made it though! They also helped us take pictures in front of the meats that were being smoked.

3) Next, we have LA BARBECUE (Fave of the trip!!!) — I preordered via email and they didn’t have a weight minimum like Franklin’s, so it was pretty easy. We got there at opening time and there was already a huge line wrapped around a few times, but I walked right up to the window to pick up my meats. #winning

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Again, BEEF RIB IS WHERE IT’S AT.

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4) Barton Creek Greenbelt – turns out there’s some hiking in Austin.

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5) Go for sunrise at the Austin 360 Bridge aka Pennybacker Bridge A short 5-10 minute hike up to the overlook.

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6) Check out the graffiti walls at Hope Outdoor Gallery

LA: Santa Anita hiking & eating (Nov 2016)

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Started off the morning with some baked goods from Duke Bakery. Their buns are huge. Look!

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They’re like buns for giants.

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We drove to Santa Anita Canyon.

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Pretty easy hike to the waterfall (note: since there is a drought, there is a very little stream and not as much water as it used to have). Only 1.8 miles to Sturtevant Falls!

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Los Angeles 2016

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Los Angeles 2016

Los Angeles 2016

Los Angeles 2016

After hiking, we went to the Westfield Santa Anita mall nearby for food.

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Side Chick had these Hainanese chicken over rice, but what I really liked was their soy sauce egg… The yolk was golden. I can’t stop thinking about it. I’d come here just to order some eggs.

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Los Angeles 2016

Los Angeles 2016

Los Angeles 2016

Also inside the mall is Sweet Lab, which makes nitro ice cream and cereal balls infused with nitro.

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“Dragon’s breath”

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Travelogue: Bryce Canyon, Utah (Sept 2016)

We camped out at Ruby’s Inn Campground (info in the previous post) so that we could get a head start on hiking at Bryce Canyon National Park the next morning.

The Fairyland Loop is an 8-mile trail that takes you all around many spectacular hoodoos and viewpoints. It was probably my favorite hike of this trip, strenuous but amazing views that I could never even have dreamed of. It takes about 4-5 hours, especially if you stop and take pictures/snack.

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Depending on which part you start at, you go up and down in elevation — going up is always harder for me… I felt like I couldn’t breathe (I know I’m weak).

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So many hoodoos.

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After the Fairyland loop, it started getting really foggy and cold — we decided to drive through the loop to stop at the various viewpoints instead of hiking another trail.

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The Amphitheater

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We drove to the end of the loop to try to get more pictures, but it became so foggy that it was impossible to see beyond two feet. So we gave up and went to the general store to get some food to cook at the campground.

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There are plenty of general stores right outside the park for everything you would possibly need. I bought stamps and postcards to send out to friends. We also bought ramen and spam and cheese.

Side note — I really liked the name of this beer but didn’t buy it:

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Ruby’s Inn Campground
300 So. Main Hwy 63,
Bryce Canyon, Utah. 84764

Travelogue: Puerto Rico (July-Aug 2016)

The streets of Old San Juan.

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The food.

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Mallorca.

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Trifongo at El Jibarito.

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Lavender mules at La Factoría.

And the beauty of nature.

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El Yunque.

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Time standing still.

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Miami: Everglades National Park (January 2015)

 

I’ve already seen the beach, the artsy parts, all the touristy places. What else was there to do? I looked up things to do on a last minute attempt and found the Everglades.

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There are multiple entrances to this national park, so we picked the closest one. About an hour drive from Miami Beach, we entered through Shark Valley Visitors Center.

Directions to Shark Valley Visitor Center
36000 SW 8th Street. Miami, FL 33194

From Miami, Shark Valley Visitor Center is located on Highway 41 (Tamiami Trail / SW 8th St.) 25 miles west of the Florida Turnpike, exit 25A (from the north) and exit 25 (from the south).

There’s a parking fee of $10 and a guided 2-hour tram tour ($23). OR you can rent a bicycle or just walk the 15-mile route.

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Our tour guide was amazing and entertaining, it was such an informative ride.

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She actually stepped out of the tram into the water. She also educated us on the difference between swamps and rivers. This is not a swamp but a river, because swamps are unmoving and the water here indeed flows.

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We reached the observation tower.

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Along the way we discovered alligators, birds, all different types of species.

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Tip: take the last tour at 4PM; it is otherwise known as the sunset tour.

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Look at all those birds! She told us to be silent for a few minutes to listen to them.

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Tram tour was over. As we stepped off and were about to leave…

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The alligators were so swift and got on land really quickly. It was time for us to leave.

I Yelped a place nearby that had pretty good ratings. There isn’t much around the area but we found this gem!

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Finka Table & Tap – AMAZING Korean-Peruvian-Cuban fusion food!

 

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Decor: hip.
Service: friendly.

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Ceviche / Sweet Potato Mash / Red Onions / Cilantro

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Korean Pork Ribs / Garlic & Parsley Truffle Fries

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Grass Fed Oxtail in Merlot ReductionMushroom Risotto

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BEST DISH EVER — Cuban Fried Rice / Shrimp / Maduros / Pineapple / Cilantro Aioli / Fried Egg / Scallions

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Cocktail: Yuzu Me & Izu You

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Dessert: Arroz Con leche (fried into balls!)

Such an amazing meal, definitely pay a visit if you ever happen to be in the area!

Finka Table and Tap
14690 SW 26th St
Miami, FL 33175

Travelogue: New Orleans Day 3

We started off the morning with breakfast at the Ruby Slipper Cafe — one of the highest recommended breakfast/brunch places in NOLA. We didn’t go to the original location for fear of long lines (we had many things to do for the day!) but went to the newer location just a few blocks away.

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Eggs Cochon – basically pulled pork eggs benedict… it was kind of bland and such a disappointment.

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“Southern breakfast” is where it’s at. Eggs your way, bacon, biscuit, grits! Still, for the price you pay, you’re only paying for friendly service and wide booths to sit in.

We walk back to Chartres St and pass by a magical cup floating in the air… works of voodoo, they say. Everyone looks up and takes pictures.

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Of course, the cup is “suspended” in midair held by a thin string across buildings.

We arrive at our next destination, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

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$5 entrance fee and if you go on Friday at noon, you get a guided tour. Why not?

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The tour was wildly entertaining and informative. He went over the history of the museum and told anecdotes about the physician who owned it and lived upstairs, and the alleged crazy experiments he performed on his patients.

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There is a second floor with exhibits.

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Too bad we had an important reservation to tend to. We left before the tour ended to go to Restaurant August for their special Friday lunch prix fixe, recommended by a friend who raved about it endlessly. The $20 special is only available on Fridays. Keep in mind this is another one of John Besh restaurant, a fancy one that normally would cost way more. And wow was it worth it!

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Their extensive beer and cocktail list was unique and fun.

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We start off with an amuse bouche.

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We also ordered a gnocchi dish (outside of the prix fixe menu) and it was the best gnocchi we’ve ever had.

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Crawfish bisque was creamy and had 2 little crawfishies swimming in it.

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Pate de campagne came with lots of pickled sides and mustard and marmalades.

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Beef.

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I loved my shrimp.

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Dark chocolate chiboust with peppermint and feuilletine – amazing!!! The peppermint element was on point.

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Progress buttermilk panna cotta with strawberry consomme and pistachio – one of the best panna cotta I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot…

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Even though the prix fixe was only $20 each, our total came out to be a LOT more due to alcohol and the gnocchi dish. No regrets though, as this restaurant became one of my favorites.

Next, we walk over to the St Charles cable car stop…

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We took the St Charles line uptown.

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To Audubon Park we go!

 

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Many joggers and nature lovers walk along the paths. A great way to spend a lazy afternoon.

 

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Then we walk through the Garden District.

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Creole Creamery. I love unique ice cream flavors like Lavender honey and Sarsaparilla!

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We continued our walk. Beads were everywhere!

We wanted crawfish boil but were tired from our day of walking, so we went across the street to Daisy Dukes.

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More gumbo.

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Lemon pepper wings.

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Crawfish at $10/lb. It was okay but later on we found a better place… (More to come in the next post)

We took a stroll through Bourbon Street at night.

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