A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about beer

Last day, back in Chicago

rain 78 °F
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We detrained from the City of New Orleans, back in Chicago for 12 short hours. It was bittersweet, returning to the city where it had all started.

We aimed to get real deep dish pizza as we were mislead the first time around and to get good beer. Seeing as it was still Chicago Craft Beer Week, we figured that wouldn't be too hard to find.

As the forecast called for a pretty rainy day in the Chi-town, we opted for a more relaxed, low-key day as our trip was winding down.

We spent the day in the South Side at the Museum of Science and Industry. We saw some pretty cool exhibits and models, including an exhibits dedicated to transcontinental trains! How appropriate, huh?

Afterwards, we went to Hyde Park to grab lunch at Pizza Capri. We finally got our Chicago deep dish! This time with jalapeños and mushrooms. It was delicious and probably the best pizza I've ever tasted. Our waiter suggested we still try Giodano's and Lou Malnati's before getting too excited.
We got some fantastic brews from Chicago's Half Arc and Revolution brewing companies.


After a break in the downpour, we took a stroll the Hyde Park neighborhood. There's some pretty cool murals and shops in the home of the University of Chicago.

We walked to the south side of Lake Shore Drive to get a view of Lake Michagan to the east as the sun was setting to our west.

It was the perfect backdrop to the ending this trip.

In total, we spent 14 days traveling, over 6,200 miles by train visiting and passing through this beautiful country in all of its grandeur as well as flaws. Thanks for sharing our trip with us, we enjoyed having you along for the ride!

-- Claudia

Posted by baecation2016 22:45 Archived in USA Tagged food beer sunset amtrak Comments (0)

New Orleans!

A little nip from the Mississipp. . .

sunny 86 °F
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After three, nearly-continuous days (that’s 60 hours and 20 minutes, y’all) aboard some trains, it was like being born again to step off of that train in Louisiana! There were many moments when I felt the earth moving beneath me, but it was actually my body remembering the motion of the train. I regained my footing after a few hours though.

Instead of heading straight to our AirBnb, we decided to haul our backpacks on the trolley down to Bourbon Street for a drink.

Bourbon St is closed off to cars after a certain time of night, so people are free to roam the streets with open containers and really do as they please. So naturally, it didn’t smell too great in that neighborhood.

We found a bar that seemed reasonably empty and sat down for a few beers, and to take in the New Orleans atmosphere. There were throwback helmets of different football teams hanging from the ceiling—including the big, bad Buffalo Bills.

The bar itself was really neat. It had very high ceilings and original hardwood everything. It’s attached on one side to an Italian restaurant that we did not try. The beer was really watery and tasted a little funky, but after a few sips it was kinda not so bad!
So, we had a couple beers, got some late night food, and headed to our room.

The next day, we discovered that our AirBnb host had some cruiser bikes available for us to use! We found the closest possible breakfast place and headed out. We ordered breakfast from Buttermilk Drop, a fast-food restaurant/bakery. The food was SO tasty, but the portions were huge! I got the shrimp and rice breakfast, and Claudia got the shrimp and grits breakfast. I did my best, but I hate to admit I could not finish my breakfast plate.

Since we started planning this trip last year, I had been romanticizing the idea of getting matching tattoos to commemorate the experience. Eventually, Claudia agreed that it sounded really fun. So a few months ago, we sat down and came up with a design that we both really loved.
We tried to make reservations at a couple different parlors, but it kept falling through for one reason or another. So instead of stressing about the perfect place and price, we found an area with a few tattoo places in close proximity (the Lower Garden district) and hoped someone would have time for two walk-ins. Our new strategy paid off as we found Shaun Dubin, an extremely talented artist, at Idle Hands Tattoo Parlour NOLA who gave us an excellent deal.


I explained our whole story and Shaun was very sympathetic to our predicament. He did a quick mock-up of our rough sketch and we were under the needle before we knew it. Our new tats summed up our trip perfectly. It was exactly what we wanted!


Since we got our epidermal needle-points done early in the day, we had the rest of the evening to show them off around Jackson Square (and sample the local brews of course). On our way there, we just happened to be directed down St. Ann’s Street—which seemed to be the Gayborhood of NOLA!


The buildings and apartments were so breathtaking throughout the side streets. Fresh flowers and live palm trees adorned balconies all around us. The streets were paved with bricks and the sidewalks with colored slate tiles.

In the French Quarter, we went to Jackson Brewing Company. Here we ate a very rich dinner of leading with fried green tomatoes with a crawfish remoulade followed by fried oyster po’ boys. They were delicious!

Originally, we planned to travel to Avery Island, land of the Tabasco factory and plantation. However, it’s 2 1/2 hours away from New Orleans and we decided to forgo the trip in order to experience more of the city. Instead we visited the Tabasco Country Store. There were several varieties of Tabasco sauces to sample and more souvenirs than imaginable!

We continued to walk around the French Quarter and pick up souvenirs. The sound of the Natchez steamboat horn told us we were right by the Mississippi River. We rushed over and found a set of steps leading into the water. From there we watched the sun set to our left while the riverboats pulled in to our right. I had an amazing day in New Orleans.

The next morning we got up a little late and missed our intended bus into the French Quarter. We bought tickets to a Louisiana cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking. We showed up late and had to sit on opposite sides of the room. However, the class turned out to be very entertaining and delicious! It was a cooking demonstration run by a 75-year-old Louisiana grandmother. We got to eat all the food (corn and crab bisque, shrimp creole, bananas foster, and pecan pralines) and there was unlimited Abita beer. Even though it was 10:30 am, those beers went down very smooth. By the time we left, we mysteriously gained Southern accents and a love of talking to strangers.

The buzz wore off a little quickly on the trolley. What Google had predicted to be a 20 minute ride somehow turned into 35 minutes. However, we got to the train station sweating to board the City of New Orleans with 6 minutes to spare!

Now we’re off to the final stop on our long, long journey around the country. We will spend about 12 hours in Chicago and then get on our last train back to Buffalo and my kitty and turtle who I miss SO much. Here’s to some great views of the Bayou along the way!


Posted by baecation2016 11:39 Archived in USA Tagged food beer mississippi_river new_orleans steamboat french_quarter nola jackson_square pralines Comments (1)

Seattle mornings, Portland nights

A tale of two cites, one crowler and Amtrak Cascades ride away

semi-overcast 48 °F

We seem to love our morning excursions so much better our nights! (Probably because we're well rested and sober, haha).
After our Airbnb host Rose (originally from Negril, Jamaica by way of the UK) gave us a ride, we arrived at Pike Place Market.
It was breathtaking.
Rose dropped us off in front of Beecher's Handmade Cheese! We could see the cheese makers were hard at work and the aromas were great. We ordered the Mariachi Mac and Cheese to tide us over until we found a breakfast spot. Needless to say, it was fantastic.


Strolling through the Farmer's market, we saw an array of fresh produce, seafood, and bakery items. Heidi and I were really looking forward to seeing the fisherman throw some fish around but alas, we didn't see any action.


We ate breakfast at the Sound View cafe (which was an apt descriptor, all the seating provided views of the Puget Sound). I tasted Northwest clam chowder, and it pains me to say this as a native New Englander but it was MORE FLAVORFUL than New England clam chowder. Ugh, okay it's over. Now back to breakfast:

Heidi got the crab cake frittata and I got the salmon and prawn omelette.

The portions were huge, the amount of seafood was generous, and given that the prices were fair. Most of the eateries in the Market were pretty expensive, so Sound View cafe was a great value.

Next we perused the flower shops, artists, and vendors. The flower arrangements were beautiful and pretty cheap considering what was going in them. I understand now why all the local business had such beautiful bouquets.


In a search for good Seattle coffee, we happened upon the world's first Starbucks:

Given our talks with locals, we just couldn't support a coffee purveyor that lead to the demise of local coffee shops and wholesalers (Seattle's Best Coffee was bought out by Starbucks). So we got a pound of coarse ground roasted on site at Local Color.

Overall, Pike Place Market did not disappoint. I could've spent the entire day there if we had the time!

A small hiccup in our travels to Portland turned into another fun adventure. Originally we planned to drive from Seattle to Portland. I made reservations at a car rental agency only to find out that I couldn't take one of their cars one way without more documentation. Heidi, my quick thinking cutie, recalled that with our Amtrak USA Rail Pass we get 8 segments and we only used 7 given our time constraints. So we just scored a "free" train ride to Portland! We had some celebratory craft beers at Old Stove Brewing Company and had a "Crowler" prepared for the trip. They pour 32 oz of your favorite draft into a can and seal it with their canning machine. After taking the underground downtown bus to King St Station, we were on our way!

Amtrak Cascades is an older train that makes several daily trips along the Pacific Northwest from Vancouver, BC to Eugene, OR.
We can never seem to escape large groups of field tripping school children (from Daley and Millennium Parks in Chicago to Pike Place Market) and our trip to Portland almost kicked it up a notch with middle schoolers! Luckily, Amtrak saw the writing on the wall and placed them in their own train car.
The trip was a quick 4 hours (sadly too overcast to catch a glimpse of Mt. Ranier, our Airbnb host jokingly said the best view Seattle folks get of the mountain are from the Internet), enough to drink some craft beers and get in a cat nap.


We made it to Portland! It was raining pretty heavy so Heidi and I protected our packs with rain covers (tucked away in a secret compartment at the bottom). We walked to Deschutes Brewery for dinner and more beers. There were a ton of great stuff on tap. I stuck to IPAs and Heidi pursued her new interest in Saisons. I ate a delicious burger with plums, bleu cheese, and cream cheese with a side salad adorned with IPA dressing. Heidi has never seen me eat meat so it was shocking for her to see how much I enjoyed it! Heidi had an Alaskan King Salmon with spatzel, mushrooms, and peas shoots. She loved it!

Even though we were kind of full, the lure of good ice cream led to a Lyft ride to Salt and Straw. The line was super long (out the door and onto the sidewalk) with eager patrons, but definitely worth the wait. Coming to get ice cream here was singlehandedly one of the best life choices I've made. It's up there with going to medical school and dating Heidi. We seemed to forget or refused to acknowledge how full we just were from dinner and all the beers. The quality of artisan ice cream cannot be captured in words. Heidi captured it in a dance (see my Instagram post @claudsee) and in a cute smile. Thanks SO MUCH to fellow Tufts track alum Megan Sears Caldwell and Jen Morse, my research mentor while at Duke, for the recommendations!


This morning is our last in Portland, we really want to do some biking and eat some delicious local food (". . but is it local?" -- Portlandia) before heading to our next destination by train. . . San Francisco!

Happy [train] travels,

Claudia :O)

Posted by baecation2016 08:08 Archived in USA Tagged beer market ice cream place seattle coffee portland pike cheese Comments (1)


Gray skies and craft beers

overcast 64 °F
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Hi everybody!

It's so good to be back to wifi!

After two super relaxing days on the Empire Builder, we have safely arrived on the West Coast. The rest of the trip was truly beautiful. When we entered the Great Plains of Montana, some guides from the national parks came on to narrate the vistas around us. We learned a lot and surprisingly REALLY enjoyed it! Being in the lounge above the bar car may have enhanced that enjoyment a little.


We made a friend in the lounge car, too! The great majority of our fellow passengers have been retired couples who are traveling to see their adult children, or are just vacationing like us. They've been wonderful (for the most part) but sometimes hard to relate to, for us. So, we were thrilled to meet someone our age from Leavenworth, WA and hang out with her for a while. She even came to dinner with us as we entered Glacier National Park. Nothing will bring people together like snaking through the mountains while dining on Amtrak-grade Pad Thai. The pictures hardly do it justice.


After the park, it was a short trip through Washington before arriving in Seattle! We were so excited to get off the train and get some real food, we had been packed and ready to go about for about 3 hours before that.


From the train station, we walked with our big backpacks right to the Puget Sound to hop on a ferry to Bainbridge Island. From the ferry we were able to see all of Seattle. I was hoping to see a sea lion, but there weren't any around at the time.


The island was so pretty and cute. We stopped for a quick lunch and then ditched our packs behind the counter so we could walk around. Those things are heavy... While exploring, we found the COOLEST community garden that's ever existed behind a church. It really gave me a lot of inspiration for my future gardening projects. They had their own greenhouse, little bee houses, and even a "Little Free Library" (a community book exchange program found all over Seattle) full of organic gardening books. We showed ourselves around inside and no one seemed to mind.


It happens to be craft beer week in Seattle, so we came back to the mainland to check out the local offerings. We stopped by Elysian brewery in Capitol Hill for dinner and fabulous beer. However, the event they putting on included karaoke during dinner hours. Normally, this would have kept me there all night, but this was possibly the worst excuse for karaoke that I've ever heard in my LIFE! And I have heard a lot of bad karaoke. I don't want to be cruel, but I suspect they have never heard a truly talented karaoke singer in this town. We had to get out of there.

Good thing we did, too! While exploring the neighborhood (we saw a huge co-op!) Claudia had to use the bathroom so we went to a place that sounded promising--Chuck's Hop Shop. Little did we know, it was like a beer drinkers paradise! They say they are the house of 1000 beers, and I believe it. They had about 50 beers of ALL kinds on tap, and every beer you could imagine in bottles and six packs. It was like a beer store and a bar at the same time. Claudia and I were like little kids in a foreign candy store. It was so much fun! Most of the selections were from west coast microbreweries so we'd never heard of them. We did find a few home-state brews though. And since people in Seattle bring their dogs everywhere, we even got to hang out with some really chill pups. It was nice since I've been missing my kitty a little bit.


Needless to say, we were ready for bed after leaving that place. Today, we are heading to Pike Place market for lunch and a quick pic of the space needle before we rent a car and drive Portland, OR. I hope I don't get hit with a flying fish!


Posted by baecation2016 07:56 Archived in USA Tagged beer island garden seattle amtrak glacier_national_park rails_and_trails Comments (2)

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