🐊 The Big E•A•S•Y 🦐

Greetings! I’m back for a blog about my recent trip. For my bday this year, I planned a trip to NOLA. In the planning phases, I tracked flights with Google Flights, which allows you to track flights and tells you if you’re getting the best deal. I was able to snag some pretty sweet non-stop flights. Hotels were a big pricey, but I figured it is my birthday, so treat yoself, right?! We booked the JW Marriott which was 1 block away from Bourbon street. It was super convenient without the raucous of party people on Bourbon. We were able to walk everywhere and luckily the weather was great. In anticipation of our trip, I asked several people if they’ve been to NOLA, and for recs. Basically everyone said to be careful because it can get really dirty on Bourbon street, so I arrived well prepared with a pair of flats that I could throw away if need be. Fortunately, all of our day drinking left us so exhausted that we were in bed by midnight everyday. Definitely not party people!!! Anyways, here’s a breakdown of our trip. I planned everything well in advance and booked tours based on a combination of ratings and reviews from Google, travel blogs, and TripAdvisor.

We have been traveling with our AmEx Platinum card and are really enjoying the benefits! At Logan, we were able to grab some free dinner and free unlimited drinks at the lounge before catching our flight. When we arrived in NOLA, we took an Uber from the airport to the hotel. Our credit card gives us $20 in Uber credit monthly so it works out great. The hotel was nice because it was recently renovated. I was kind of tired from traveling so we kept the night low-key. We went to a place called Mambo’s which I found on Yelp by searching for rooftop bars, lol. It was so cute inside and the service was great. I had crawfish for the for the first time in my life and I really enjoyed it. I got a redfish in a garlic sauce topped with crawfish, with a side of mashed and greens. The greens tasted like saag, so yum!!! Bourbon street was lively, but there were no crowds. It was just right.

 

On the second day it was my bday day and we planned a plethora of fun things to do. We went on a steamboat lunch jazz cruise. It was soooo cute! The buffet had staples from New Orleans cuisine, and the steamboat punches were crazy strong. The live jazz really set the mood. After the cruise we went to Pat O’Briens courtyard for some hurricanes. They were yummy and the atmosphere was adorable. They had dueling pianos in the bar and an outdoor courtyard to just chill at. Back at the hotel hubbz arranged for a surprise wine bottle and tray of chocolate covered strawberries. At dinner he arranged for a bottle of chardonnay and he even managed to get my name printed on the menu. He’s the best! Bourbon street started getting more lively by Thursday night, and it was truly a unique experience to walk through the crowds of different kinds of people, some in costumes, some drunk and high out of their minds, dancing to the live jazz blaring from all the open bars on the street. Definitely memorable.

Friday morning I was so hungover, but forced myself out of bed for this really cool tour I booked. We walked past Bourbon to catch a bus for a plantation and swamp boat tour in the suburbs. The tour was so worth it. It was about 6 hours in total, but some ginger ale and plain carbs helped me go strong. We saw an actual plantation that was built by a slave that was later freed after he successfully built it. It was called Destrehan Plantation. We saw the history of how the slaves lived and were forced to serve the people on the plantation. It was hurtful and important to see and learn all of the history. Afterwards, we hopped on a boat through a private swamp and saw a ton of gators. Our tour guide fed them hot dogs so they kept jumping real high out of the water. It was scary but cool. Also, Adi got to hold a baby gator! Driving through the suburbs was truly a sight. We saw the marshlands and roads were built over them which was a totally different landscape than I’ve ever seen before. At night we grabbed some more Hurricanes and went to Bourbon street. For dinner we went to Oceana Grill, which was recommended by my cousin Angela. It was so yummy!

On Saturday we took it easy and slept in, which was so needed after all the touring and drinking! We got grenades and went to Mahoney’s for Po-Boys. This was a let’s take it easy day so we lazied our way around the French Quarter to explore. The side streets around Bourbon in the French Quarter were so quaint and adorable, they were much quieter than Bourbon. There were several art galleries and cute cafes, still with live jazz at every corner. At night we did a Voodoo tour which wasn’t as scary as I was hoping it to be, but we got to see the house from Coven, AHS. For dinner we got some Willie’s Chicken Shack and got some spiced Cajun tenders. Literally anywhere you go to eat in NOLA is so flavorful! I didn’t have 1 bad meal my whole trip. At night we to the Cats Meow (recommended by Russell!) and watched people do karaoke, lol. It was fun! Late at night we went to Lincoln Square to get some beignets at the famous Cafe Du Monde. It was around 11pm so there was a short line for the take out beignets. They were so hot, fresh and delish!

 

 

On Sunday we had lunch on Bourbon and then headed home. It was a fun trip. I love vaca and getting a break from my busy work week, but I also love my home sweet home!

XoXo

-S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

🌴 Take Me Down to Kokomo 🌴

Greetings! I’m back for a blog about my recent trip to the Florida Keys and Miami Beach. For our 5 year marriage anniversary, Aditya and I wanted to do something different. We created full itineraries and plans for Andalusian Spain, the Algarve region of Portugal, Ireland, and the Florida Keys. We looked at the pros and cons of each of these trips. We have always wanted to go to the Keys, and decided to go with it this time over an international trip for a few reasons. I wanted to have a relaxing beachy vacation, but not a cruise this time, surprisingly! I wanted to grab a short flight, be on land, and be able to get around easily in an English speaking place. After reviewing our pros and cons lists a few times, the #1 seller for both of us was the fresh fish. We looooove locally caught, sustainable, fresh fish. I must mention that Hawaii has the best fish, and is our favorite place on earth, but the flight is just so long (11+ hours from Boston). The fish species found in the keys are mostly the same as the ones found in Hawaii, like grouper, mahi-mahi, snapper, and wahoo to name a few. All these factors considered helped us narrow down to the Florida Keys. I read a lot about the keys online and found that they are not exactly known for their beaches. Also, I was unsure about what to expect after getting mixed reviews from people who have been to Key West. So, in order to get a beachy vibe squeezed in, we added a few nights at our favorite east coast beach, Miami Beach. We are familiar with that area and have regular spots that we love there, so it only made sense to add in a few nights in SoFlo.

Planning this vacation took a bit of time, because I wanted to narrow down which keys were worth staying at overnight. We ended up choosing Key Largo and Key West. We figured we would be able to get a feel of the other keys on our drive down and back up. Initially I had selected simple hotels/motels, but Aditya insisted that we should splurge a bit and get resorts to have a super relaxed and easy feel. That ended up being a great choice, because we found a beautiful resort in Key Largo, with a gorgeous beach, perfectly manicured grounds and palm trees, free roaming iguanas, lazy hammocks, and picturesque sunsets. The other key we stayed at was Key West and it was exciting and quirky, and is chock full of rich history. I was expecting the Overseas Highway (highway that links the keys to Miami) to be much scarier than it actually was. It was a breeze and was a beautiful drive. I think I’ve been on much scarier drives, like up the Santorini hills with no guard rails, eek!

This vacation was a perfectly blended mix of relaxation, tropical vibes, beach, culture, art, socializing, sunsets, ocean views, and culinary experiences. Here was our general itinerary:

  • Fly BOS to FLL, Uber to Miami hotel
  • 1 night in Miami Marriott Biscayne (Hertz rental onsite)
  • Grab car at hotel, drive to Key Largo
  • Stay at Playa Largo, Autograph Resort, Key Largo – 3 nights
    • Highlights: Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, private beach on resort, sunsets
  • Drive Overseas Highway through the keys to Key West
    • Highlights: sweeping ocean views, a taste of the different keys
  • Stay at Southernmost Resort, Key West
    • Highlights: resort is easy walk to Duval St, Hemingway House & Rum Factory, Custom House (history), Duval Street (bar hopping and shops), sunsets at Mallory Square, Southernmost Point of the continental US
  • Drive back up through the keys to Miami Beach
  • Stay at Marriott Stanton, South Beach – 3 nights
    • Highlights: beach, Mangos, Hakkasan, Akash, Jaya at the Setai (dinner and a performance), NaiYaRa, Wynwood Walls
  • Uber to FLL
  • Delta SkyLounge – free drinks & food
  • Fly FLL to BOS
  • Home!

Here are some pics from my trip. By the way, all photos are by me! My phone takes great pics, lol.

Key Largo

I was pleasantly surprised with how beautiful the Playa Largo resort was! We are gold members at Marriott so were able to get a complimentary room upgrade and free breakfast as well. The resort had a private beach, with soft white sands. The water was warm and calm. It was so relaxing to just laze around here.

Key West

I wasn’t aware of all the history here. When you think of Key West you think tropical, but the island is surrounded by the largest coral reef in the continental US and fifth largest in the world, so beaches aren’t exactly great here, and the smell of seaweed can get strong. There is so much history here, from the unfortunate incidents of slaves being “transferred” and dying mid-travel, the haunted Robert the Doll who is locked away in the Fort at the East Martello Tower, and the famous artists/writers/poets Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, and Tennessee Williams residing here for a period in their lifetimes. Hemingway was a super big deal here, and we were able to check out his family’s rum distillery and hit up a few of his favorite bars like Sloppy Joe’s. We had plenty of delicious key lime pies, and each restaurant/cafe had a different take on the original.

The spa girls at the Playa Largo suggested some cool spots in Key West so we checked them out, including a placed called Kino sandals where Cuban women make comfy and great quality handmade leather sandals. There is a heavy Cuban influence since Cuba is just about 330 miles by boat, and the island is known as the Conch Republic. Each morning we would grab some fresh Cuban smoothies and sandwiches at Ana’s Cuban Cafe across from our hotel, so delish! We did a few tours – the trolley and the haunted night tour. Everything was fun and insightful, despite the heat! Sunsets at Mallory Square were surreal! Another adorable fact is that Key West is a bird sanctuary, so the chickens roam freely and cannot be touched or harmed. We caught a family of chickens and their chicks crossing their road near the Southernmost point and waited about 20 minutes for them to pass. It was just so cute!

Miami Beach 

Although we are fish lovers, by the time we got back to Miami we were dying for some curry, because, well, we are brown. We went to Akash for dinner our first night at Miami beach, and I would definitely recommend it. It’s a newer Indian spot here, and the owner was so generous; he chatted with us and gave us some free kulfi!

If you know us, you know we adore Miami Beach. This is our fav spot on the East Coast other than NYC and Boston of course. During our time in Miami, we hit up our usual spots – Mango’s for live entertainment, Hakkassan for some modern Chinese food (and my first time trying dim sum), and NaiYaRa for excellent Thai food.

For our anniversary night, we went to the Jaya at the Setai and had dinner in an outside garden that had live acrobatics and entertainment. I’ve always wanted to check out the Jaya and this was the perfect opportunity. Dinner was good, but not very authentic Indian. The dinner included a live show in the pool which was really awesome. We also hit up a small speakeasy called Repour where I got a gin cocktail and beat Aditya at a game of Mario Cart (although I’m pretty sure he just let me win, lol). In downtown Miami, we had a chance to check out the Wynwood Walls for some cool art.

It was an incredibly relaxing vacation, and was much needed! Now we are back to the grind of things with freshly re-centered and refocused minds. This is why I think some R&R is so essential in life, especially with the busy hustle and bustle of everyday life and our careers.

I’ve been planning on doing some random posts about social and cultural issues, so I will just have to make time to come around to those. I also wanted to do a post on hobbies and how we spend date nights locally when we don’t feel like travelling.

Hope y’all have a great summer and enjoyed this read! 😘

XoXo,

-S

Pink beaches, conch, and southern hospitality!

Hola and happy Friday! Looking back at my blog posts I realized I haven’t posted about the cruises I took last year. In June 2018 Aditya and I took a cruise from NYC to Bermuda. We took the NCL Escape which is a mega ship with awesome features such as broadway shows and even a brewery. It was a really cool ship! It sailed smoothly to Bermuda where it was docked overnight for 3 nights. That was so great so we could go out and explore, stay out late, and come back on the ship to eat, drink (free drinks!), and sleep in our stateroom. Bermuda was beautiful! We went to horseshoe beach which has pink sands due to the red algae, checked out the crystal caves, and took a mini cruise around the triangle and saw some cool shipwrecks. We loved the rum swizzle which was the popular Bermuda drink and we appreciated the British influence on the island because we were able to find chicken tikka masala at bars!

Here are some pics from the Bermuda cruise:

 

In December, Aditya and I took a cruise from NYC (we love NYC!!!) and it went to Florida beaches and the Bahamas. It was my ninth time at Nassau so by now we know where to go – Cable beach!

Here are some pics from the Florida & Bahamas cruise:

 

In February I planned a trip to at Atlanta to bring Aditya on a birthday vacation. We had authentic southern food and checked out the aquarium. We don’t usually travel within the states that much other than going to NYC and Miami repeatedly, so it was a nice change! We explored in the daytime and got to visit our sister Lisa and bro Neil down there as well as puppy Pepper! Nights we low keyed hung out at a bar near our hotel, so we didn’t do anything too crazy. We went to a comedy club that hubbz really enjoyed called the Laughing Skull, which I went to at my good friend Becca’s bachelorette, too! We stayed at the Ritz because I spoil my husband. Also, I must mention that the southern hospitality everywhere was truly outstanding!

Here are some pics from ATL:

 

Alrighty now I caught up on my trips! Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time working, and hanging out locally in my hood or in Boston, which is only 30mins from me so we usually have a nice date night in Boston on weekends. Right now we are planning our 5 year wedding anniversary trip, so more to come soon! Until then…

Xoxo,

-S

The BIG 3-0 in the Big Apple!!!

So far my bday has been great, and I’m definitely milking it as my bday month! This past weekend Aditya and I went to NYC and spent a few nights exploring the city’s endless sights. We got the Millennium Hilton downtown, to get some Hilton Gold perks. We traveled by foot, Uber, lyft, and train throughout the trip. We hopped from bars, hookah lounges, Indian bars/restaurants/clubs, to speakesies. We usually try to hit up something cultured but since we just came in June and saw the Chitra Ganesh exhibit at the Rubin before boarding our anniversary cruise to Bermuda, we decided to just take it easy and be merry for the long weekend.

NYC has so much diversity in every way. Miami and NYC are my fav cities outside of Boston, but we decided on NYC this time so that we could hit up the Bhangra night at Stage48. The energy was amazing!! Another highlight was the variety of craft cocktails with Indian spices. So yummy. We went to the comedy cellar, a skyline cruise, and a cool boozy ice cream shop. Here are some pics from the weekend.

I’m looking forward to tonight and this weekend as celebrations continue!

 

Xoxo,

-S

American

Happy birthday, America! You are the land of the free, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to have been born and raised in such a brave country. As a Pakistani-American, Punjabi-American, American, I’m always questioning what it means to be truly American, while holding on to my home-base culture and allowing myself to feel the benefits and freeness of America. It’s important to me to have a cultural blending, so I don’t entirely miss out on the culture my family came here with, but still having the choice to decide what serves me.

What does it mean to be an American? The beauty of it is that it’s totally up to you. And that power of choice and thought in itself is ultimate freedom.

#americathough #happyfourth #free #culturalblending

Beachy Breezin in the Bahamas

Hello and good evening! Spring is finally here and the sun is shining in full force. Lately I’ve been busy with work, still putting together the house slowly…very slowy…and reconnecting with my cousins on my mom’s side, which has been really fun!

Last weekend hubbz and I took a mini cruise to the Bahamas. We’ve been on the NCL Sky several times, and return due to the great value and convenience. We only have to take Fri and Mon off from work, fly out late Thur night to Miami, and board the cruise Fri morning. On this trip we chose to spend a day at Miami Beach upon disembarking at our favorite hotel there, the Confidante.

Anyways, the cruise took us to the Bahamas – Great Stirrup Cay (cruiseline’s private island) and Nassau. We’ve been to Nassau many times, but this was our first time at Cable Beach and it was a beautiful experience! We also took a glass bottom boat cruise to explore sea life in a coral reef. The cruise was beautiful as usual, just sippin on unlimited drinks on our balcony and watching the horizon.

Some pics from Miami:

Here are some pics whilst cruising:

Hubbz and I love cruising all these years for the simple enjoyment of sitting on the balcony and discussing existential ideals of our origins on this planet. It also helps that it’s a floating hotel that enables you to island hop the world! We love gazing at the stars in the sky and looking down at the whispering waves of the ocean. It’s in those moments that we truly understand the purpose of our existence.

Well that’s about it for this post, until next time.

-XoXo, S

the last one

Hello! I’m digging up some of my old work and some include whimsical spoofs, coinciding with my love for laughter and sarcasm 😂. Here’s my poem to Aditya (my husband) this past winter:

the last one

🍶🍯

i wanted to tell
u something
but couldn’t
bring myself
to tell u

i took the
last mango
yogurt
for myself

i thought about
giving it to u

🌾🍋

but I was
selfish

i kept it
for
myself.

🍂

-sophi ‘kar