Travel Destination | Down in New Orleans

This spring semester has been a complete world-wind and I am so excited that is it finally over. From having multiple papers and discussion posts due each week, I will admit it was difficult to find time to focus on the blog.  However, during spring break, I was able to relax and simply enjoy myself with my family and I had the best time ever!

What began as a somewhat stressful in regards to planning completely vanished once we all huddled ourselves in my Uncle's rental van that was entirely too small to accompany six adults and all of our luggage. I would like to mention the drive was an extremely uncomfortable 12 hours but we slept through most of it. 

We left Orlando 3 am and arrive at our Air B&B around 2:30 pm. We started our trip by exploring the around our new home for the week. Once we walked back to the Air B&B we all completely K.O. until dinner time. Our Air B&B was in a perfect location, we were able to walk everywhere and an Uber ride was never more than 15 minutes from our destination. For dinner, we walked to Parkway Bakery for a Shrimp Po'boy. 

The following morning we started the day with a yoga class at The Calbildo on Jackson Square.

yoga at the cabildo

We roamed around Jackson Square for while as we waited for out Uber to take us back to the Air B&B to get ready for breakfast. It was literally around 9:30am and the city was alive with live music, artists, performers, everyone was about their hustle. 

My cousin Shelby recommended The Ruby Slipper Cafe for breakfast, what happened to be a nearly a two-hour wait was worth it! Let me start by staying the food in New Orleans is absolutely hands-down the best food I ever had in my life (sorry Mom). The food was amazing!!!

There is so much to do in New Orleans, the culture and history are literally in your face. If you know me well, then you know I went to several museums. The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana State Museum Cabildo and a few galleries I stumbled upon just roaming the city.  But I also wanted to include some adventure, I decided to go kayaking out in the St. John Bayou with my cousin, and it turned out to be one of the many highlights. The instructor was so nice and professional, he gave a mini how-to and safety guideline and within minutes we were in the water. 

Kayaking in New Orleans

Also, we couldn't leave without seeing our family friends that we see every year during Christmas in Orlando, so it was special to see them in their city and  spend the day with them. New Orleans isn't complete without a couple of nights spent on Bourbon Street. We bar hopped, clubbed hopped, sang karaoke, danced in the middle of the street and drank

Honestly, New Orleans is literally my favorite city. I am already planning my next trip. If you been to New Orleans before let me know your experience and some of your favorites spot in the comments.

The Silver Lining | Travel Destination, Jamaica

There is always sliver lining even in the gloomiest moments life can offer.  Early February, I went on a family trip to Jamaica. Which was long overdue since the last time I went to Jamaica, I was 13 or 14 years old, and at 26, my first time going back was for a funeral. 

Therefore my intention was set, to meet as much family as I can, take pictures with them, and get their contact information.  I didn't want for the next time we connect to be for another funeral arrangement.  So I did just that!

Though, not the ideal circumstance, it was the best one! For me, this trip was a celebration of life and a family reunion all in one.  I literally met family members for what felt like the first time because so much time had passed. 

During the funeral, I learned of a trait that me and late aunt shared, it was the passion to bring people together and sharing moments. As for me its always been capturing moments through my camera lense. 

I will admit, I have a very immature and inaccurate reality as it relates to death. I am not afraid of death and I am well aware that death is apart of life. But when it comes to family and close relatives it is hard for me to phantom their presence no longer existing. No more conversations and no more memories to be shared. Therefore, I made a promise to myself, to not let so much time pass until I connect with my family that live outside of U.S. and also to connect with my father side of the family. So I am proud to say I already have a second trip to Jamaica planned for the summer, and plans to hangout with my cousin (Father-side) when she visit Florida. 

This short trip reaffirmed the importance of family. Regardless of how often we communicate, the distance that seperate us, family is family and I am beyond blessed to have such a large family. 

Rest In Peace
Maxine "Ann" Graham 

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Travel Destination | Afropunk, Atlanta

A weekend getaway that was much needed! In December of 2016, I decided I would attend Afropunk, Atlanta. Once the tickets went live I bought a ticket and I told myself I would go alone if I had to.  As a new years resolution, I wanted to travel to at least two places in 2017, thankfully I was able to surpass that goal and hit three with Atlanta being the last destination. 

Thankfully, my best friend Persephanie was able to tag along. Months prior we secured our Air B&B  and travel arrangements.  I decided to take the Mega-bus to Atlanta because the airline cost was outrageous, so for $17 and 8 hours I arrived in Atlanta, Georgia at 9:30 am on Friday.  Persephanie drove from South Carolina so I had a couple hours to spare before she picked me up.  I decided to grab breakfast at Atlanta Breakfast Club, slightly overpriced but still great food. Apparently this is a really popular place amongst locals and tourists because the wait was out the door. 

After breakfast, I decided to check out the The Center for Civil and Human Right Museum. I was able to sneak into a group that booked a tour guide, so getting detailed history while observing all the pictures and artifacts was a plus. 

Friday night Persephanie and I decided to go to The Basement for Rock The Boat: Afropunk Edition club night. It was great since we got a chance to hear some of the Dj's that would be performing at Afropunk. 

Saturday &  Sunday at Afropunk
Honestly, the vibe was amazing as soon as we passed security and made our way through the entrance. Initially, we expected to be waiting in a long line for a few minutes, but that wasn't the case at all, we literally walked right in. The first day was kinda gray in regards to the weather, but it was welcome as it kept the heat at bay. While Sunday was HOT for no reason. 

There were two stages, the green stage, and red stage. The green stage seemed to be R&B and Hip-Hop, while the red stage played  Rock music. The artists and Dj's were lined up back to back, which was a bit frustrating since it meant running back and forth between stages. 

There was an underlying theme of celebrating Black Women and Black Women's health, this was very noticeable throughout the vendors, the panels, and the host of the green stage.  The panels were informative, capturing, and entertaining.  The panels were titled "Solutions Session" I especially sat on Freedom on Tap with Melissa Harris-Perry, and Dorian Warren featuring  Yvonne Orji, Molly from HBO's Insecure. I'm honestly even more obsessed with her, she was brilliant, funny and well versed.  I literally recorded the whole segment, I was beyond starstruck. Did I mention I got a selfie with Yvonne Orji and got my whole life!

Everyone we met was so nice and welcoming, like lets take a moment and talk about POSITIVE VIBES.  Genuine compliments, meaningful conversations, making new friends in a matter of seconds. It was beautiful! 

Thanks to google I found some quality photos of some of the artist's sets I attended. Outside of Solange being my favorite performance, I honestly wasn't disappointed with anyone set...actually I lied, Mykki Blanco did nothing for me, given I wasn't familiar with their music beforehand  I still wasn't sold seeing them in person, sorry.  I also saw Flatbush Zombies which was awesome considering I missed them twice when they toured to Orlando, Willow Smith, who brought our her mom Jada Pinkett Smith to perform a rock song together, Danny Brown, Sam Dew, Oshun, The Txlips, Jsport, Martina McFlyy, Decoteau, and  other lit Dj's. 

Overall to end what could be an extremely long post, I had a great time in Atlanta, at the Afropunk Festival. I already have plans to attend next years festival in Brooklyn, New York. Comment below if you've ever been to Afropunk or any other music festival and share your experience. 

Travel Destination | New York

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Some time has passed as I settled back into my normal routine. On September 8th I hopped on a flight to New York City, to attend the Well-Read Black Girl Writers Conference & Book Festival. What was intended to be a weekend trip extended itself, thanks to Hurricane Irma, no really! Thank you, Irma. 

By luck I escaped Hurricane Irma, leaving Orlando 8AM on Friday morning whilst Irma set to land Sunday.   I was hesitant about my return, not knowing what damages would take a toll during Irma's visit having what is my home left in disarray.  Yet, as we know there is nothing I could have done to disturb her wrath. 

As I leave my cares behind, I promised myself just to go with the flow and enjoy the wonders of New York City. I've been to New York many times, yet this was my first time as an adult and was also my first solo trip that didn't encompass anything work-related. Because my trip was extended and I originally only had plans for the weekend, I was clueless as to how to spend my time so I literally went with the flow and said yes to everything. Because I was born in Brooklyn, New York, it was important for me to get around on my own, I didn't want to feel like a tourist in my birthplace (I was raised in Florida).

Upon arrival, I had lunch with my friend Fatima, I was so excited for this lunch because it was the first time we met in person. We met at Mediterranean styles cuisine restaurant and just talked about everything. 

Saturday was the WRBGFest, you can read about my experience here.  The event took place at BIRC House in the heart of Brooklyn Culture District, inside was an amazing gallery. 

Sunday my cousin invited me AfroCode Hip Hop Day Party at Hudson Terrace Sunday needless to say that party was LIT! The music was on point from the start and end of the party. As soon as I walked onto the rooftop with my cousin and her childhood friend we pretty much stole the show. 

Afrocode

Monday, was a pretty chill day I roamed around Downtown Brooklyn aimlessly and met with my friend Adrian for Dinner. We found a small lounge called Eve's which was amazing from the atmosphere, the music and the food. Given Brooklyn, is undergoing massive gentrification the mere fact that we stumbled on this gem was reassuring. 

During the remainder of my stay I went to many different museums and galleries. Tuesday I decided to go to the Modern Museum of Modern Art, which was absolutely amazing. Wednesday I took a trip to grounds zero and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, after that I headed to SoHo and roamed aimlessly into some other galleries and met a few locals. 

I can't end this post without sharing some of the food I ate while in New York. When I left the Museum of Modern Art and ended up in Time Square pondering about what I wanted to eat, I was starving and I couldn't make up my mind. I walked passed a resturant called Burgers & Lobsters. Which is fitting for an indecisive person like myself and $35 for a pound of lobster, a 5oz burger, french fries and a side salad is definitely more than worth it and it was delicious. I will for sure be going back on my next visit to NY. 

On my last day in NY, a few hours before my flight back to Orlando,  I roamed around my dad's neighborhood, East Flatbush, looking for a spot to get a mani-pani and next door was a black-own vegetarian juice and patties shop cleverly called Veggies. I was so impressed that they used real raw fruits and veggies to make the juices, I chose green lemonade made with apple, lemon, ginger, cucumber, pear, and spinach. 

Overall, I had a mini vacation/escape from Hurricane Irma was more than I could have anticipated, and going with the flow proved to be the best way to explore New York.  Whether you been to New York or not, what are some places you are eager to visit? Post a comment and share.

Travel Destination | Washington D.C.

The past couple months have been a whirlwind. From starting a new job, traveling, and moving. None the less, I'm still excited to share my experience while in Washington D.C. I started a new job earlier in the year and with that transition, I also received a trip to Washington D.C. how awesome!  I should also mention this was my first time traveling to Washington D. C. The trip was planned during spring break so I was thrilled to dabble in the chilly weather for a bit and see the cherry blossoms. Unfortunately, the cherry blossoms didn't bloom during the expected dates due to the cold weather and snow storm.

Washington D.C. is such a historical city and it was fascinating seeing it all in person. It's overwhelming, remembering that slaves built a majority of the historical landmarks.  We went to the National of African American History and Culture which was the most memorable and breathtaking museums I have ever been to. If your name is not on the waitlist get it on there ASAP. The NMAAHC is divided into two mega exhibits, the first being the History Galleries. There is history in every crevice and it is a lot to absorb so be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster, of sadness, disgust, hope, pride and revelation.

The second exhibit screams IM BLACK & IM PROUD. Detailing all the contribution made by African American Men and Women from art, television, film, music, fashion education, theater, writing, military services, community organizations. It is all there and it will give you "Life". It took us two days to walk thru the entire museum and both days, we spent 5+ hours inside exploring everything we could.

We traveled around National Mall and visited the various landmarks like the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, World War II Memorial, and the Washington Monument. In addition, we also went to Howard University, District Taco, and the cutest tea shop called Calabash, the owner was so amazing and the atmosphere, I didn't want to leave.

To end what could be a massively long post, I had an amazing time in D.C. From karaoke at Wok & Roll, late night snowball fights at the park across the street from our hotel, museum visits, the nightlife, traveling via metro. It was summed up to be a memorable experience and I excited to visit again soon.