Monday, December 31, 2012

The Myans' were wrong.. Hello to 2013



Wow - what a crazy, fast year it has been - too busy to sit here and talk about ALL the crazy things that happened, but crazy enough to get blogging again. I thought the best way to remember the year is to see it in Pictures - and in no particular order, so here are some highlights from my 2012 - I had the best year and ticked off many 'bucket list' wishes !!

 The Saddest part of any year, is when you lose people close to you - and this year was no exception - Easter weekend was dark and gloomy for me - My good friend Bill lost his battle with cancer and is now taking charge with the big guy upstairs - and pain free! I will miss you my friend, but always have a special place in my heart for you and all that you did for me over the many years xoxo

My Amazing Friend Bill and his Fabulous wife Linda - Very special People to me xo

 I Cannot justify living in this amazing place without including a picture of what I deem to be, the essence of Manhattan - when I see this now, I know 2 things - 1 - that I am very Lucky to have such amazing opportunities come my way, and 2 - that I am Home :)


The Fall in North America makes people do crazy things, like drink Pumpkin flavoured coffee, carve scary faces into hollow pumpkins, and decorate their streets with everything that is Pumpkin like...its like the people here are obsessed by all things Pumpkin - what will the poor Dill Pickle think about that??? So this year, when my brother Ashley and his mate Greg arrived for a visit, it was smack bang in the middle of Pumpkin season, so we went to a ridgy didge pumpkin patch to see what all the fuss was about - hay rides, monster trucking, corn field mazes...yup we did it, and actually it was pretty cool!! Who would have thought that within an hour of the biggest city on the earth, you can walk among a corn maze, but home made jam, and sit on a pumpkin that is really too big to be true... Yes it all happens in New Jersey... 


One of the many things I have always wanted to do - even before meeting a true blue Cubano, was to visit Cuba - in fact, when I had originally planned my long service trip for 2011, I was to spend around 6 weeks going through Cuba from bottom to top - for some reason, I knew that I always wanted to visit this place - well by now, we all know that my long service trip didn't happen, and that I ended up jetting across the world to live here instead, but the desire to visit Cuba was still within - so in October this year, and as has become somewhat a bit of tradition, myself, my Brother Ashley, and Greg ventured on a bit of a bucket list trip - first to Niagara falls, then off to Varadero in Cuba for my birthday, and then on to Cancun for a week of bliss !! It was truly a fabulous trip - some expectations were met, and some were not - but overall it was overwhelmingly amazing. The week in Mexico was truly one of the best places I have stayed at in my entire jet setting career - Paradisis  La Perla Resort in Playa Del Carmen - just about as good as you can expect a holiday to be really - great food, amazing service, and culture and history that really make you sit back and go WOW... if you have never been to Mexico - you should really stop what you are doing right now, and get in touch with your travel agent and just go...

Mojitos in Havana

Don't rush people in Cuba....there is no hurry, just relax...




Halloween 2012


Before the storm....

 In late October, we heard of a big storm heading our way - possibly a Hurricane, but if it didn't make the cut, it was at the least going to be a super storm... Sure we thought, just like Hurricane Irene last year we all thought.. fffs - there was really not much panic before Sandy hit, but during and after, we all realized just how devastating she really was - more water than one could ever imagine, no power and heat for at least a week, and unimaginable loss for so many people - New York, and New Jersey were devastated. Where I live in Hoboken, we were unable to get out of our apartment, and had to be evacuated out - there was just too much water - no phone coverage, and no way out..Luckily for me, I had a new family who took me under their wing and give me a place to stay, but for so many, it was a very real case of heading to the shelters for housing. The national guard moved in, and to this day, there are still some businesses not functional again after the devastation....in times like this, you understand just how lucky you are - yes we may have lost a car, but didn't really feel like we could complain too much, seeing as some people had lost everything they owned... Sandy - You were a total Bitch!! The week that followed gave us panic like I have never known before - people queuing up for 5 hours or more just to get gas to fill a generator, or their cars - it really was like a scene from a mad max movie - petrol rationing came into effect and slowly, there was no longer a need to guard the petrol stations with police day and night....


Ghetto style water boots to get us out of the disaster zone the day after Sandy hit.....

Petrol was in short supply during the weeks after Sandy - waiting times upwards of 5 hours just to fill up...Police were on hand to guard every available station dispensing fuel to keep order....

 A Week after Sandy had been and gone, and while we were just getting power back, we got smashed with a blizzard - causing chaos all over again - people without heat and power now faced the extra challenge of trying to keep warm...Mother nature was really pissed at us East coasters this year!!
In September 2012, I ventured home for the first time since leaving - almost 2 years - to see my mate Jo get married - I mean i had to see it to believe it right?? LOL During this trip, I caught up with family for the first time - it was great to know that nothing ever really changes - you just get a few more wrinkles, but everyone is still the same and we had some great laughs along the way - catching up with all those long lost foods that I missed out on was really amazing too - 25kg of lollies from woolies was certainly one of my highlights in coming back to the USA ...

 In my travels in 2012, I got to visit some amazing places - and some of these are fast becoming favorite places to visit - especially in the south - Nashville is a firm favorite of mine and the food and people are truly amazing - if your ever heading that way, and need some tips, just give me a holler - Id be happy to give you suggestions of places to go, stay and eat!!  During the summer, I was lucky enough to experience the joy of driving route 66 - from Vegas to New Jersey - and it was a one in a lifetime experience - if you get the chance this is a great way to see this amazing country - although I would probably recommend you not to do this in just 4 days as we did, but to take your time and enjoy what it has to offer...
Jersey Shore boardwalk - before Sandy hit

Welcome to the Jersey Shore - Seaside...


 One of my new favorite places to visit is Chicago - it is really a great city - with everything that I like - great food ( number one most important thing!!), great hotels and shopping, nightlife, and heaps to do during both summer and winter. It was in May this year, that Tony and I found ourselves hiring bicycles and riding along the shore of Lake Michigan - yes you heard right - bike riding!! who would ever have thought - but it is a great way to build up an appetite for all that great food the Chi Town has to offer - this place is definitely on my radar for places to visit again in 2013!!






Dolphin visit in Cancun Mexico


 And now it is the last day of 2013, and I look back and think about all the amazing people I have come to know in my life, and of all the great experiences I have had - and I feel truly blessed to be able to enjoy my life the way that I have! Bring on the joys for 2013 - I have a lot of hope that it will be bigger and better than ever!! Happy holidays to everyone, and please stay safe, but most importantly - Have fun - because life is just too short to go a day without fun!!


Friday, August 10, 2012

Its a Jersey Thing...

So its been some months since I last found the time to sit down and pen my thoughts - and what a crazy few months it has been!! For the past 90 days or so, I have managed to accomplish many things - ticked off a few 'firsts' and been frustrated on more than one occasion by the mere stupidity and lack of common sense that my new found homeland has set in place... I feel an internal challenge when i decide what to talk about on my first visit back to the blog-o-sphere....Rest assured though, there is absolutely NO WAY that i let the craziness interfere with getting out there and continuing my journey to eat good food, find the Best BBQ in the USA, and share with you all my journey up, down, over and through the US of A... As a side note, the good people of Charlotte North Carolina are now winning the race for my Best BBQ in the USA - but i need a whole blog to tell you all about THAT!! Kiss my Grits - it surely was divine.....


PICKLMANIA!!!!!!





In America - Its all about your pickles.... Really it is!!

Narrowing down the past few months is going to be tricky, so I thought i might let the pictures do the talking for a bit...I am still travelling like Clooney in a blockbuster, and enjoying some fantastic eats, but thought on this return to blogo-sphere, I would share a story about the fascination that my new home country has with everything that is "pickle"... I'm sorry, i just don't get it - WHY??

Before starting my rant, I need to preface that I have been known to enjoy the Sweet tang of a gherkin from time to time adore tartare sauce with my seafood, but when it comes to the salty sourness that is a dill pickle, I'm just not pickling up what they are putting down..lol Not only is the taste somewhat acquired, it seems to be an accompaniment to all kinds of foods - if you order a sandwich, you are asked ( but usually not - its just plopped onto your plate!!) if you want a pickle with that. If you have a Burger, chances are there is a sneaky little dill hiding somewhere under the melted cheese - which is a pain in the groin to remove... If you go out to a steak restaurant, there is sometimes a bowl of coleslaw and a bowl of pickles and peppers put on your table - something to snack on while you wait to be really fed..People of my Blog - i have witnessed a pickle Martini being consumed in a stylish bar, and watched in horror as the lady in question proceeded to dunk her pickle into the martini much like a good french onion dip...  Just so you know i am for real, here are pictures I have been amassing along the way - i will continue to do so, as i am absolutely fascinated by the pickle loving peeps on the eastern seaboard....

Coming up I have a road trip - driving from Vegas to New York - in less than 4 days.. This is going to be a hoot - we are driving through Memphis during the week of Elvis's birthday - somebody pass me that GEE TAR.....
When you go to the South, you have to have Deep Fried Pickles...Uh-Mazing!!!

Until next time - Stay thirsty my friends...


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Forget Route 66 - Ive been everywhere man...

Phew - how time flies when your having fun or on the run...for me its been a little of both over the past few weeks! I can barely remember back to St Pats day - and as for St Pats night - forget it!!!  I finally tracked down an Aussie friend to go on a pub crawl with in Hoboken aka Home. We started off at the pub on the corner - green shot glasses with beads around our necks like we were off to Mardi Gra - alas twas just to the little pub that lets DOGS in the bar!!! I believe during the enjoyment of a pint - where i asked the barman for a pint of something that might taste a bit like Stella - to which he replied - how about a Stella then...O dear blonde alert!! Stella it was. 4 dogs was really too much for 2 Aussie Shiela's, so we proceeded a few blocks down the road to the next one - Nag's Head i believe it was - another Pint of your finest thanks Keep - alas no dogs in this bar - just a couple - sitting at the bar, with a BABY in a hammock around his neck..really, a baby in a bar? I love America - Home of the Brave, and Baby friendly bars! Awesome :) The last pub - well we ended up staying there, made a few friends - scored some free shirts, and don't remember how we got home - so all in all I believe a successful evening full of crazy sights, and good times!
Good times aside, it was now time to get back to the airport and head out on my 2 week journey- this one from East Coast to West coast - Forget Route 66 - this was going to be a hoot! First stop Orlando - home of EVERYTHING Mickey. If not for Mickey, then you really know where you are based on whats playing on the radio when you start your engine.. Can anyone say Pitbull , Flo Rida are the 2 most played peeps on Florida radio - there is really only so much one can take before you have to say ...No, No No - not Low low low lol....and Mr world wide my ASS Pitbull - you are doing my head in already!
Luckily for me, it was a fly in, work and drive out so I did not get a chance to Mingle with the mouse or any of his kiddy friendly peeps - the lines at Disneyworld would do my head in...who am i kidding - the Kids at Disneyworld would do my head in :)
Driving south to Miami is a nice drive - about 3 hours on the highway - and pretty hard to mess it up - its a straight line and even i had no mishaps - life is good. AAAhhh to be in warm weather again - i can actually wear shorts and realize just how pasty pale i have become from living in the North - i felt like a lizard on a rock - just wanting to sit outside and bask in the sun...Miami is cool - I could really see myself living there - its low rise in the part where i stayed (Coral Gables)- where they have the miracle mile shops and restaurant row - amazing food -but where to start!! With me after my work is done, then its all about the food of course - so many restaurants, so little time... Being that every corner has a Cuban Restaurant on it, and knowing of my love for everything Cuban, it was hard not to go that route, but i like to try new things, so first night i went to the Red Koi - chosen mostly because i always wanted a koi garden, and secondly because it was very convenient...and delicious - a Japanese/Thai blend of flavours - amazing! I don't know what i Had but it was everything it should have been and more - Yummo!
Second night, it was time to get a meat and beer fix - back to my heritage and having some German Schnitty and a Stein of lager - delightful and delicious all at the same time! Florida, I will be back every 3 months, don't go changing - You Rock!!
Driving back to the airport, with South beach high rises in the background - looking much like the Gold Coast back home, i vow to return, and stay and play a while to really enjoy what this Heavily Latino town has to offer - the nightlife is to die for - as long as you can drown out Pit and his friend Flo....FML
To the West Side Yo - and waiting is my best friend in the world, with a cold Heiny ready in the lobby of what can only be described as one of the trendiest hotels i have stayed in for a long time - with a resident DJ in the lobby spinning tracks, the W Hollywood is where all the pretty, and freaking RUDE people stay - except us of course - pretentious is only a word we use on other peeps - and when hotels charge $6.50 for a can of coke..Beer it is then..8 Heinys later, we stumble on our way to our posh rooms, and vow to meet up for a RIB BBQ dinner the next evening - after all I have work to do, and they have sights to see - because guess what - that sneaky little mouse Mickey - He has a dopple ganger on the West side too! Very very sneaky...just like Mr Deeds...lol  Again, you know you are in LA and on the WEST SIDE, Because Snoop Dogg is playing on every Single radio staion i turn to...REally _ i love you Dogg, but this is Crazy!!!
Baby Blues BBQ - you are the Target for the Champ and Champ Swine Fest - where my good friend orders a beer in a can - to drink - a Fat Tyre...really - do you want a straw with that CAN of beer my friend - I will have a pint of Blue Moon thanks Keep - and my new friend Kimberley will have a scoop also - out of a glass like a lady :) The Pig was porkalicious and The Beef Rib ridiculous - but I can never be a hater of the Swine meal, so again, we are on a winner! Last supper in Hollywood - and again my theory of crackville vs Popeye's chicken rings true - every time i see a burnt out car, just around the corner..what do you know - there is a Popeye's chicken shop! You have been warned readers lol

The reunion is over, but not before a final meal at -well it was almost at the chicken and waffle house but when we loaded up the car with luggage, paid the porter for the car valet and headed out into the street, we had just gotten one block when Samantha - my Tom Tom tour guide advises that we have reached our destination!! Really - we just loaded up the car to go 1 freaking block!! No - no we wont - we refuse on the principle that it is too ridiculous to fathom what had just happened, so where else does one go when in Hollywood and looking for a status worthy update able eats house? the answer is of course FATBURGER...because none of us need it, but all of us want it - if you get through a XXXL, you get your picture on the wall - screw that - the most we went was an XXL and that proved too much of a beast to tame...crazy crazy America - you love everything super sized...but the soda refills are free!! Yay! To be honest, the girls did better at the Fat Burger than the Staunch one we all know as Champ did - girls v boys and Girls won by far - especially considering he was the one that loaded up the address for the waffle house in the first place..just sayin...
Ever seen 3 people - full of Fat burgers go up a mountain to a hiking trail? Well if you were at said trail longer than 10 minutes, you would have missed it - we went, we saw, well we didn't see because no one sees anything in LA - its all smog - so you learn to imagine....we left - off to LAX and Vegas bound!!
Vegas Baby!! I never get tired of Vegas, until the first night of card playing, then i wish to leave and never go back again - ever - until the next time lol It is somewhat different going to the Happiest place on earth, when you have to get up each day and go to work - tis wrong - very wrong..but still Vegas has a buzz about it - its still one of my fav places to go to - great food - of course, great shows - This time - Hello Rod Stewart - You Did rock the house down, and i believe that i sat next to your Mum and Dad in the audience and we all sang along like a family reunion - it was great!
This trip - best part of Vegas was my rental car - Hello FIAT 500 - and yes, you may call me J-Lo - Everywhere i went, i had peeps stopping me and asking me about this hot rod - what a car - Guys love it too -Its a meat magnet lol  I'm on the hunt to buy one now for sure!!

After 2 weeks though, free beer every night in Vegas, and a restaurant that lets you eat for free if you weigh over 350lbs - Heart Attack Grill - i have had enough - its time to go home - I'm not home for long, then I'm off again...But My Rte 66 was a heck of a ride - I am truly living the dream!

Happy Travels peeps and stay Thirsty my friends!









































Saturday, March 17, 2012

Its a Jersey Thing.....

So When Last we met, I had tackled the Gangland Turf of Detroit and Chicago, and was Headed for the Peace and quiet of my new home state of New Jersey - home of...Big Pickles and Snooki, Teased Hair and Hogies - not in any particular order of course!! Well the first week started off well - nothing out of the ordinary to report - a few misdemeanours I'm sure while driving, but nothing I got pulled over for - I'm yet to have the full driving experience where I am pulled over and forced to produce my Aussie drivers licence...hmm I should really get to the DMV and get my NJ drivers licence soon -I believe my 6 months grace period has long since expired -  but who has the time!  After a slogging good effort, I pulled into Philly for the weekend to spend a couple of days with friends and chill out. Mind you  - I pulled in, but had to get my friend to find a park - which he proceeded to do within 5 minutes of getting into the drivers seat, and something that I had been roaming the streets like a crack dealer for over an hour to no avail...FFS - Have I mentioned that I have a hatred for finding car parks? Perhaps that needs to be its own special blog for another day - I believe it is  Jersey thing not to worry about "tapping" the car in front and behind you when doing a reverse park - its almost mandatory even - just a quick tap each way and OLA - you are snugly parked where no one else would have ever thought a car could have fit - never mind getting out - just tap your way out - Its a Jersey thing...

My Philly Friends - Perhaps they should have warned  me about the turf I was stepping into - a little bit of neighborhood background for a weary traveller - but coming home from Dinner on Friday night, we saw flashing cop lights and like most responsible people, did nothing about it and continued on our way. Next day on the news - - someone was shot at the end of the street - those flashing lights - No Bazinga - it actually happened - not sure if it was a fatality or just a knee capping? Does it matter? Welcome to Philly - home of Cheese steaks, Mob Hits, and Restaurants to die for - the Italian Mob markets just south of Philly are old school and yet draw the new school yuppies, bargain hunters, local foodies and peeps with food stamps to buy their pork - yes that's right - the house of pork has some great cuts of pig - you can even buy a whole, boneless suckling pig with your food stamps - now that is looking after your People right there! God Bless America....
Pork aside - just for a moment anyway,  it was a weekend filled with great things - good friends, great food, gang shootings, a visit to the emergency vet, a trip to the pet store to buy goldfish for an outdoor pond...did i mention we are still on the cusp of winter here people?? But when they sell these cheery looking swimmers for under $3 for 20, then it really seems like an experiment you should do - just to find out how many can live in frigid, arctic like waters - when they are deemed to be tropical dwellers for all intents and purposes..The answer - about half - so far - and that is quite impressive, I actually thought it was not worth naming ANY of them, as by morning, they would all be belly up like the shooting victim the night before, but golly gosh - these "feeders" have some fight in them - most still swimming, and only a couple doing the sideways shuffle...RIP you poor frozen bastards!!

It's been a week since I have been home, so its time to get going, and say good bye to Philly, and Hello Home - currently Hoboken NJ - home of Carlos Bakery, birthplace of Frank Sinatra, and alleged birthplace of baseball. Don't get too cosy home - I leave again tomorrow - so a quick laundry run, download some more trashy shows onto the ipad - current fav is the TV series SHAMELESS - very trashy but hilarious! Monday arrives, and I'm a heading south people - not quite to the Jersey shore - but South of here - through places like Bucks county - where I get lost as the GPS system does not recognize the zip code for this address as it is such a small place - so I spend my mornings roaming the streets until i finally find what i am looking for - Why does this kind of thing always happen to me? Because it can, and so i can entertain you all that's why lol. Wilmington is next on my list - and again, I am lost - because the address i am given is a shopping centre address - no mention that there is a "hidden" staircase a top of a stationery store with a flight or 2 of stairs that will actually deliver me to the place I am headed......these people must think I am a retard - always getting lost - but seriously - some of the places I am going to are very random, and obscure locations and some of them are down right ghetto ganster-ific - and that brings me to my next stop - Richmond, Virginia!


Being a Patricia Cornwall fan, I thought it was a little exciting to be driving past Quantico, FBI headquarters, and home of the "Body Farm" that she discusses in many of her Dr Scarpetta Novels - while that does explain the slight stench I drove past on Highway 95, it does not explain the ghetto grotty Doubletree hotel that I stayed in - nor the smell of fear on my face, when i cross the street in search of cola before settling in to do some work. After 3 blocks of walking, i had been approached by 3 drunks asking for smokes, money or god knows what else - by the 3rd time, i had already decided to get the coke and possible jog back to my room, It was not a surprise to see a fried chicken shop just at the end of the street - I have figured it out now - if the neighborhood is a little dodgy, then i will generally know that by 1 of 2 things - 1 - there will be drunks/hobo's/thugs lurking on corners, or 2 - there will be a Popeye's Chicken store within a 3 block radius of every corner...just saying - This is NOT a Jersey thing - Its a Ghetto Thing, and so far, this theory has proven to be correct every town I have applied it. If you recall my last Ghetto fabulous destination of New Haven - Popeye's chicken right across the road, and thugs 2 blocks down with Walkie talkies...mmm  hmmm - you know it - its gangster for real - just sayin....
The next day, when i get to the office, I am told that the area i stayed in, is on the border of the projects - translation for those not in the know - its crackville pure and simple.... Time to sack my travel agent me thinks... Now just a lazy 7 hour drive in the afternoon and I am home again!

Phew - what a ride - during those 7 hours I proceeded to get given questionable currency by a Pakki guy at the Quik-e-mart - $2 US Bills - which I hadn't seen before, but feared getting shot if I questioned it, so took my change and left without question... I managed to get off the wrong exit when driving through Washington DC - almost made it to Capital Hill - I could see it very clearly - perhaps that may have been why I took the wrong exit - too busy checking out the scenery....











This week I'm home - Hooray!! and In a weeks time, I'm off to Miami, Los Angeles, and Vegas - 2 weeks all up and I'm sure more than 1 blogs worth of content for you all...
Today is St Pats day - I may have to go and get a pint now - its been quite the week!

Happy Travels and Enjoy  :)