Drew

Washington DC Nightlife Guide

by Drew on August 26, 2016 2 comments

Meet Morgan

Morgan is a DC-based strategy consultant working in the healthcare industry by day, and champagne enthusiast by night. She’s spent the better part of 20 plus years in the DC Metro area scouting out the best brunch spots, riding horses competitively, and believing firmly that rosé season is year round, not just summer.

Feel free to join Morgan on Instagram and Twitter

Washington DC Nightlife Guide – General Info

As our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. rarely gets notoriety for much more than being a hub for politicos and tourists. When there are hard-working people and sightseers by the thousands, though, you can be sure that there are plenty of excellent places to grab a drink or two across the city!

As a DC-Metro native, I’ve had a number of years to explore the city and all it has to offer. I’ve explored every neighborhood in town (and on both sides of the river – Maryland and Virginia) throughout college break visits home and a four year stint as a District resident. D.C. sprawls across over 43,000 acres and is spread into four major “Quadrants:” Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast. Once you know what quadrant you’re in, you can pretty much wander into any neighborhood and find a great cocktail.

There is something for everyone in DC, whether you’re looking for a nice refreshing brew outside, a crazy night out at an EDM show, or something in between.

DC Neighborhood Guide

As I mentioned, DC’s four main quadrants make it exceptionally easy to navigate. Each quadrant is made up of distinct neighborhoods that have their own vibe, and with that, have different local scenes that cater to various patrons. Below is a list of some of the best spots to put on your list if you find yourself in the District in the future:

1) Georgetown:

Georgetown is well known as an affluent neighborhood right off the Potomac. Home to senators, dignitaries, and private-college coeds, the scene in Georgetown ranges from local college hangout to pricey waterfront spots frequented by the 1%-ers. By no means should this reputation cause to you avoid Georgetown, however: some of the oldest bars and pubs can be found in this part of the city, and the Georgetown Waterfront is home to some of the best outdoor happy hour spots in town. Stroll down M St to pop into some cute shops and great local bars.

Places to check out: The Tombs (Georgetown Campus area), Sequoia (posh waterfront spot), or Martin’s Tavern (Where JFK proposed to Jackie)

2) Capitol Hill:

As its name suggests, this neighborhood is home to the US Capitol Building and all of the Hill staffers and politics junkies that come with it. “The Hill,” as locals call it, is home to some awesome bars with history and some well-loved dives that some of us happened to frequent as college interns. History and nostalgia aside, The Hill has some great local haunts if you’re in the market for a cheap happy hour and equally cheap bar food.

Places to check out: Capitol Lounge (dive bar with Hill Staffers galore), Barrel (great whiskey cocktails), Harold Black (speakeasy)

3) Dupont/Adams Morgan:

These two neighborhoods blend together down the DC Metro Red Line. Dupont and Adams Morgan (called “AdMo” by many young 20-somethings) have great bars with a casual vibe, but are home to some great clubs at night too. Many DC locals consider Adam’s Morgan to be one of the most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods of DC! If you’re looking for great daydrinking and an awesome spot to bring a party or bar crawl, look no further: Dupont/AdMo is the place to go.

Places to check out: Sauf House (3 story beer garden), Johnny Pistola’s (more below), or Grand Central (late night partying)

4) Chinatown:

Chinatown, the mecca of DC, falls between the MetroCenter and Union Station part of the downtown neighborhood and is home to many bars and nightlife spots, most notably the Verizon Center at 7th and F. Due to the large crowds that come this way for concerts, shows, and events, there are a TON of bars around the area. Jose Andres has many restaurants in the area that serve delicious craft cocktails, and you can find some well-loved chain spots like Clyde’s and Legal Seafoods right outside of the West entrances of the Verizon Center.

Places to check out: Hill Country Barbeque (live Karaoke and great brew menu), Denson (speakeasy style), Redline (upscale sportsbar with DJs every so often)

5) Downtown:

Unlike other major cities, DC’s “downtown” area isn’t really down town at all – it’s right in the middle of town and runs from the West End corridor down to Capitol Hill. Downtown is notorious as the working neighborhood – very few condos and homes can be found here, and the bars are mainly frequented by 9-to-5-ers and tourists. With that said, downtown is still home to some must-see spots, and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch sight of a Congressman or other high ranking official at a few of these places.

Places to check out: POV at the W for breathtaking views of the White House, Old Ebbitt Grille (one of the best oyster bars in town) or Sax (burlesque club with shows and bottle service)

6) Shaw/U-Street/14th St:

If you ask any Millennial living in DC, the most popular neighborhood for partying right now is the U Street Corridor. U St runs West to East across DC, and this neighborhood falls between 19th street on the West and 8th street on the East. Between these 11 or so blocks are some of the best brunch, day party, and going out spots. U St is known to draw all types – you’ll find the Yuppie type at The Brixton, the DC gay crowd at Nellie’s (DC’s most well known gay bar), and a little bit of both anywhere else. If you’re looking to have fun with a big group any time of day (or night), try U St first and see where the night takes you.

Places to check Out: Local 16 (cheap bottomless brunch!), Masa 14 (late night dancing and a great roof top), El Centro (basement is well known for dancing and techno music)

7) Southwest Waterfront:

Rounding out the top neighborhoods list is the Southwest Waterfront, the ‘youngest’ neighborhood going under a revival and rebuilding. While the SW quadrant has long been home to some of DC’s most lively neighborhoods, only recently have developers and restaurant groups begun to make SW home. The Washington Nationals Ballpark is right at the Ballpark-Navy Yard Metro stop, which is a great place to catch a game, a concert, or even a Food Truck or Beer Festival. Surrounding the Waterfront are a number of great bars and outdoor drinking spots that are perfect for summer happy hours.

Places to check out: Bluejacket Brewery, Cantina Marina (great Mexican food and drinks on the water!), Vida Penthouse (bottle service and a roof top pool).

TOP BARS AND CLUBS IN DC

1) Johnny Pistola’s


The Scoop: A cheap place with no-frills food and drink and a seriously good time at night. Johnny Pistola’s is the spot where you’ll run into everyone you know in DC while drinking a Red Bull and Vodka with all sorts of people.

Cost:
Cheap. Never a cover, and typically you can make it out without breaking the bank after a night out here.

Location:
2333 18th St NW
Washington, DC
Closest Metro: Red Line, Zoo/AdamsMorgan Stop

2) 9:30 Club

The Scoop: DC’s most well-known concert venue: it’s big, it’s loud, and it’s a whole lot of fun. The 9:30 Club hosts tons of great shows and DJs throughout the year, and has multiple bars inside.

Cost:
Ticket prices range based on performer; drinks are an average cost for a concert or party venue

Location:
815 V St NW,
Washington, DC
Closest Metro: Yellow Line/Shaw-Howard Stop

3) Dan’s Cafe

The Scoop: A staple in the AdMo neighborhood, this is the one dive bar that might be worth checking out if dive bars “aren’t your thing.” Dan’s Café has a fun casual vibe made even more casual by their “mixed drinks:” you get a squirt bottle of your liquor of choice along with a can or cup of mixer, some ice, and that’s all…you’re left to make your drinks yourself. Coupled with a regularly sweaty dance floor and some excellent people watching, this place is a well loved staple by district locals.

Cost:
Cheap – those squirt bottle drinks run at only $12 a pop and shots run equally as cheap.

Location:
2315 18th St NW
Washington DC
Closest Metro: Red Line, Zoo/Adams Morgan Stop

4) Cafe St. Ex

The Scoop: Café St-Ex is a great spot in the U Street/14th Street Neighborhood well known for locally sourced food and a casual atmosphere. At night, though, the restaurant is filled to the brim with 20-somethings who come and dance up a storm. St Ex’s downstairs, called Club 54, has DJs almost every night of the week.

Cost:
Affordable; no covers, at least to my knowledge, and drinks are of average DC price ($6-10 for a beer or mixed drink).

Location:
1847 14th St NW
Washington DC
Closest Metro: Green/Yellow Line, U-Street Stop

5) Hawthorne

The Scoop: Hawthorne is a relatively new bar owned by two local restaurateurs well known for creating great party spots for the DC crowd. Hawthorne sits on multiple levels, and while the first two tend to cater more towards the restaurant side of the business, the further up you go, the more “bar” vibe you get. Hawthorne’s roof is one of the best in the area, and their dance floor can get pretty packed. Hawthorne is also well known for a good DC bottomless brunch that serves not just mimosas, but male-friendly libations such as bottomless beers or the “Hawthorne Smash,” a bourbon-based cocktail.

Cost:
Average. Come here for a fun night out with friends and pay no cover, but it’s not the cheapest place in the world.

Location:
1336 U St NW
Washington DC
Closest Metro: Green/Yellow Line, U Street Stop

6) Nellie’s

The Scoop: Yes, Nellie’s is a gay bar, but it makes this list because it is by far one of the most entertaining spots in town. For anyone who is OK getting out of your comfort zone and having a blast on a Saturday, Nellie’s is your spot: Nellie’s has some of the best weekend parties and always has great dance music. During the day, the rooftop is full of daydrinkers, while at night, there are usually DJs spinning house/club music. Nellie’s is also home to a fabulous Drag Brunch, which is loads of fun. Final verdict: whoever you are, Nellie’s will be a blast for you.

Cost:
Drag Brunch runs at around $40/$50 for tickets, but drinks aren’t too over-the-top pricey.

Location:
900 U St NW
Washington DC
Metro Line: Green/Yellow Line, U Street Stop or Shaw Stop

7) La Boum Party Brunch


The Scoop: La Boum is not a bar but rather a weekend party experience that makes all of the “must go” lists in DC. La Boum is French slang for “house party,” and that is absolutely what the creators of La Boum aspire to be. On Saturdays and Sundays in DC, La Boum takes over the space at Capitale nightclub for a wild brunch experience complete with DJ, burlesque dancers, and a few bad decisions. Wait lists for this crazy brunch party can be weeks or months long, but trust me: it’s totally worth it.

Cost:
Expensive: La Boum’s $35 price fixe menu does not include drinks, and bottles at the party can run pretty expensive. Expect your personal tab to easily hit $100, or come prepared after a pre-brunch party spot.

Location:
1301 K St NW
Washington DC
Closest Metro: Blue/Orange Line, McPhereson Square Stop

Where to Stay in Washington, DC Without Spending a Fortune.

If you’re coming to DC to party on the weekend you’re in luck. Hotel rates drop between $50 to $100 as business travel dies down. The nice thing about DC is that getting around without a car is easy via the Metro. There is a handy site dedicated to finding hotels near the Metro, and they have a page dedicated to cheap hotels in Washington, DC organized by rates. If experience over price is more important than prioritize hotels near these stations, Chinatown, Dupont Circle, Clarendon or Ballston is the best bet.

Photo Credit on Flickr Creative Commons:
Sunset Pic – Johnny Silvercloud
Nightscape Pic – Richard Ricciardi
Capitol Hill- BKL
Chinatown- Angela N
9:30 Club – Erin M
Nellie’s – Elvert Barnes 

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DrewWashington DC Nightlife Guide

NYC Nightlife Guide

by Drew on August 26, 2016 1 comment

Meet Tendelle

Tendelle grew up between the US and Taiwan, and has also lived in Sao Paulo, Barcelona, and Amsterdam.

She’s lived and breathed the dance music scene since 2011, even traveling the world in search of the best electronic dance music experiences. She settled down in Amsterdam in 2015, where she works at the social network for nightlife enthusiasts, Party with a Local.

NYC Nightlife – General Info

In my 3 years working in New York City, I partied way too much! At the high (or low) point of my tenure there, I once went clubbing 7 nights in a row, and my Foursquare check-ins indicated that I had a 50-week streak of going to clubs. So yeah, this, plus being part of Party with a Local (app that connects people who want to party), makes me feel pretty qualified to write about NYC nightlife!

New York City is just about the most diverse city in the world, and likewise for nightlife, there is something for everyone, from upscale parties to drag parties. Bars and clubs are most highly concentrated in Meatpacking District, Midtown West (around 11th avenue), and Lower East Side – with Brooklyn being the up-and-coming area – but it being NYC, you can find bars and clubs all over the city.

To go out and back, New Yorkers generally hail one of the famous yellow cabs or take Uber. Bars close around 2am and clubs close at 4am. Bring ID to clubs and bars, as it is a must, and remember that in the US the drinking age is 21.

Most of the crowds you’ll see out are young professionals in their early 20s to late 30s, with the exception of the NYU area (East Village) where college students like to hang out. NYC is wealthy and sometimes materialistic place, so partying usually requires some money. Drinks in NYC are expensive – a cocktail ranges easily from $10-$15 in city bars. In a club, $15 mixed drinks are quite standard.

Here’s the low-down on the best clubs and bars in the City that Never Sleeps.

Best Bars in NYC

Best Dive Bar: Key Bar

Key Bar was my go-to neighborhood bar in the East Village with a nice ambiance.

Not only were the drinks cheap (unusual for NYC), but the happy hour “buy one get one free” deal lasts until 10pm. You get a voucher when you purchase your drink, so it’s awesome that you can redeem your drink even after happy hour or another day if you’d like.

Best Rooftop Bar: The Press Lounge

The Press Lounge is at the top floor of the INK48 Hotel, and has a phenomenal view of New York City skyline.

It has a 360 degrees view from its roof and a pool (but I don’t think people go into it). Cocktails are on the pricier side, though the bar is so busy that if you don’t get a drink, probably no one will hassle you or notice. It’s close to the clubs on Midtown West, like Hudson Terrace and Space, so it’s a nice place to visit before the party starts.

Best Speakeasy Bar: Apotheke

Speakeasies have been all the rage in NYC for awhile now – tucked away cocktail bars literally hidden behind walls or phone booths. Apotheke is in a dark, piss-smelling alley in Chinatown, with a nondescript door. The inside, however is a whole different world, where you can get delicious cocktails made by their expert mixologists. One of Manhattan’s true hidden gems!

Best EDM Clubs in NYC

Best Mega EDM Club: Space Ibiza NYC

Space is the Ibiza mega-club that has been voted top club of the world by DJMag too many times to count.

It opened its NYC location in 2014, filling a much-needed gap in NYC’s EDM scene since Pacha closed its doors. From Trance, to Techno, to House, Space invites the hottest talent in the EDM scene every week and is sometimes open until later than 8am!

Best Upscale EDM Club: Marquee

Marquee was my favorite club to hit up when I lived in the City, especially on Wednesday and Saturday nights.

It’s a gorgeous, Vegas-style club that have been a hot spot in NYC ever since it was renovated in 2013 and started inviting big-name electronic music DJs. Make sure you follow the dress code and dress to impress; as the door can be tough and cover can be expensive. However, the nice thing is that to guarantee entry you can buy a ticket online (usually $20).

Best (Brooklyn)Techno Club: Output

For serious techno heads, Output has been a blessing for the New York metro area in the past couple of years.

Set among in the warehouses of Brooklyn, Output is similar to Berghain in Berlin in concept: it prohibits cell phones on the dance floor and it “welcomes everyone but is not for everyone”. It’s a space with innovative, heavy music for techno partiers to dance all night long.

Alternative Clubbing in NYC

Best Hookah Bar/Club: Le Souk

This was my go-to weeknight spot, with popping parties even on a Tuesday/Wednesday night. The music is on the commercial side. The only thing is that it’s quite small and narrow, so if you are going with a few friends it is nice to get a table with hookah so that you have a place to sit.

Best Alternative Party: Quiet Events Silent Disco

You receive a pair of headphones when you enter, and they always have three live DJs. You listen to the music with your headphones and can switch the channels around according to your taste in music.

Or you can take your headphones off and observe your fellow party animals dance in silence. They throw events in unexpected locations all over the city – subway stops, Bryant Park, pub crawls, and more. Definitely one of the coolest random things to do in the city.

Best Asian Nightclub: Circle NYC

New York City is the melting pot of all cultures around the world, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that different ethnic groups have their own clubs too!

Circle is NYC’s long-standing premier Asian (Korean) club, and it was by far my most-frequented club in my time in the City – because, well, it was so damn fun! If you’ve ever wanted to see a club filled with only Asians in NYC, then Circle is your spot. However, if you’re not Asian, you’re probably not getting in.

Best Party Brunch: Bagatelle

New Yorkers can party any time of the day. One of the most peculiar activities I partook in was brunch clubbing. No, this is not merely a “bottomless mimosa brunch” type event – it’s actually full-blown clubbing with disco balls and skimpy dancers in the middle of the day. It is undoubtedly really fun, but when you stumble out of the club at 5pm, blinking & dazed by the sunlight, trying to give directions to the taxi driver on your way home who is totally judging you for being drunk in the day time… it really makes you ponder your life decisions.

Best Summer Parties: Governor’s Island Parties

There are EDM parties all summer long on Governor’s Island, my favorite outdoor venue in NYC (there aren’t that many outdoor venues to begin with).

You take a free ferry from Battery Park, which takes you to Governor’s Beach Club. Here you can party on their beach, with fantastic music, to the backdrop of the breathtaking NYC skyline. It’s one of these moments that make me love the City.

Best Drunk Food in NYC

1) Chicken and Rice

The Chicken and Rice “Halal Guys” food trucks on 53rd and 6th is a New York must. You can go at any hour of the day, but it’s quite a sight to behold with hundreds of people in the line even at 4am. It’s the staple drunk food of New York City.

2) Korea Town

Many of the restaurants of Korea Town are open throughout the night, catering to inebriated customers. My personal favorite is Kunjip. There’s nothing better than a sizzling pot of Sundubu to satisfy my hunger after a big night out!

So there you have it, nightlife in New York City… Let this article guide you but not restrict you, and most importantly, have fun!

Curious about more things to do in NYC? Check out this helpful website Headout.com for more advice around the Big Apple!

Photo Credits on Flickr Creative Commons:
Featured pic – Alexander Oramas
Press Lounge – Larry 
Space Ibiza – Wikipedia
Output – Wikipedia
Quite Events – quietevents.com

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DrewNYC Nightlife Guide

Party #17: India’s Holi Festival with Chris

by Drew on May 9, 2016 No comments

Welcome to the 17th edition of my series “A Party to Remember!”

In this interview-based web series, you’ll learn about the best parties and nightlife all over the world from other travelers and travel bloggers.

In this week’s episode, I am happy to host Chris, who is going to share about a crazy annual festival in India (which I attended as well in 2015!)

If you want to be the next person featured in this series, then please contact me with your party idea and I will send you the guidelines.  My aim is to cover nightlife all over the globe, so please try to contribute a party that hasn’t already been covered.

Alright, now I’ll let Chris take over!

Meet Chris

Chris originally hails from the United States of America, specifically Michigan. He first discovered his love of travel when he spent a summer in Guatemala doing service while attending University. After studying for a semester in London, and post-grad trips to South Africa and Brazil, while juggling a job as an accountant, Chris determined that the 9-5 cubicle lifestyle was not for him. He resigned from his job in September 2015, and has travelled since then through Africa, Thailand, and India, with many more destinations planned!

To see more of his adventures experiences, check out his blog- “To India and Beyond”, photos on Instagram, or pins on Pinterest.

Question 1: What was the party/event and where was it?

Holi, or “The Festival of Colors” is a Hindu Spring Festival in India that has since spawned smaller versions of the event in other countries. It is a party to celebrate the coming of Spring, but many people know it for the vibrant color war that occurs during the festivities! Whether it be powdered color, colored water in water guns or buckets, or foamed color from aerosol cans, anything goes during Holi. While celebrations occur all over in India, the largest of them all occurs in the two (normally tame) towns of Vrindavan and Mathura, India.

Question 2: How did you hear about this party/event?  Did you randomly stumble upon it, or did you plan to go?

Holi is celebrated all over India, and I had planned to spend the day having fun throwing colors in whichever city I found myself in on March 24th. However, when I was hanging out at my hostel in Agra a few days before the scheduled event, I learned of the special significance of the celebrations in these two joint cities (the birthplace of Lord Krishna), and the many unique events that occur throughout the weeklong festivities, whereas most cities only celebrate on one day. We were able to get a group together for the pinnacle of the celebrations on March 23-24 and made the short journey over to Mathura where it turned out to be an unforgettable time.

Question 3: Did anything funny or ‘out of the ordinary’ happen that night?  Please share the story!

Please see the next question, where I get into some specific anecdotes, but showering after the end of each day was especially entertaining. Our guesthouse did not have a mirror and every one of us underestimated the amount of color on our faces as we scrubbed our bodies clean. Emerging from the bathroom, “clean”, one would be met to a chorus of uproars from the others, at the amount of color and grime still caked on our faces! It took about a week before I was finally “color free”! As for my clothes, I found that they belonged best in the rubbish bin.

Question 4: What were the top 3 highlights from that night?

So many crazy and chaotic things happened over the course of the two days that we were there but a few moments stick out in my mind.

  1. Joining in the dance party with some of the Indian teenagers during the parade in Mathura on the afternoon of the 23rd. Some of the floats had speakers attached to them, and spectators (myself included), joined in the streets for a wild dance party!
  2. Some of the Indian kids were very aggressive. One particular kid tried to wrestle my can of silly foam right out of my hand. I held on tight and tried to spray him as payback, but he darted around a corner and out of sight. I turned to walk away and a few seconds later heard some shouting. I turned around and saw that some of his friends had caught him and held him down to give him a good spraying to teach him a lesson!
  3. Making our way to the epicenter of the celebration in Vrindavan on the morning of the 23rd. Set in the courtyard of the Banke Bihari temple, the crowd gathered there formed a mosh pit, as the priest stood above tossing color into the air. I couldn’t handle being there for more than a few minutes before needing to go somewhere less crowded.

Question 5: What advice can you give for anyone else that wants to attend this event and party like you did?

I have a few tips for anybody interested in attending the Holi Festival in Vrindavan and Mathura. First, be sure to wear clothes that you don’t plan to wear ever again, as they will get destroyed during the festival. I recommend buying cheap clothes once here in India-preferably white, as it will show the colors the best! Also be sure to bring (or buy) a pair of inexpensive sunglasses to protect your eyes, as one shouldn’t expect mercy and cheap shots have been known to happen. Bring a go pro or wrap your camera in plastic to be able to capture the memories. Lastly, prepare to have a blast and to be given a lot of special attention for being a foreigner!

Question 6: I claim Seoul to have the best nightlife in the world, as I have been living here for the last 1.5 years… Which city do you think has the best nightlife?

That’s a tough one. I’m going to have to go with Barcelona. I was able to visit there for a few days when I studied for a semester in London a few years back. The memories (or lack thereof), are a blur of dancing and bright lights in the many discotheques! Spaniards prefer to begin their night out around 1 or 2 am, and often go until the sun comes up the following morning!

Thank you Chris for sharing about Holi! Have you ever been to Holi? Please share your comments below!

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DrewParty #17: India’s Holi Festival with Chris

Meal #16: Halo Halo (Filipino) with Ruben

by Drew on May 9, 2016 2 comments

Thank you for tuning into episode #16 of Monday’s Marvelous Meals!

In this interview-based food series, you’ll learn about the world’s tastiest cuisines from other travelers and travel bloggers.

In today’s episode, I am thrilled to host a fellow travel blogger named Ruben share his favorite Filipino dish!  This is a special one for me, beacuse I have eaten this dish about 20 times in the Philippines — and I am in the Philippines right now as I write this!

If you want to be the next person featured in this series, then please contact me with your favorite meal and I will send you the guidelines.  My aim is to cover all cuisines of the globe, so please try to contribute a meal that hasn’t already been covered.

Okay, now I’ll let Ruben take over!

Meet Ruben

Ruben Arribas is a Spanish traveler who has been to 74+ countries around the world. If you value real cheap travel guides and offbeat destinations, he is your go-to guy.

Read his tips and stories in Gamin Traveler and join the community on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Question 1: Please share the name of this meal, and carefully describe what the magical ingredients are.

Halo-halo is my favorite and one of the most popular desserts in the Philippines. The Filipinos are very fond of their sweet food, and Halo-halo is usually popular during the hot months, however you can easily find it in a lot of places in the country whole year round.

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 10.02.31

Depending on where you are eating it, it can be sophisticated or very simple. Halo-halo’s sweet secret is the right mix of crushed ice, sugar, milk and various fruits and sweet beans. It is made up of coconut, sweet purple yam (the best is their authentic Ube Halaya, another local dessert), colorful jellies, leche flan (another dessert), corn, sweet banana or saba, (or sweet potato), and of course, sugar and sweet condensed milk. Since it can be hot in the country even during the wet season, you can easily enjoy your halo-halo any time of the day, any time of the year.

Question 2: Where did you eat this meal? Did you discover it while you were traveling, or did you previously know about it?

Halo-halo can be found anywhere in the country. I haven’t heard of it before visiting the Philippines, but since my first visit in the country was during the summer season, I can’t help but discover it since it can be found even in local food stores and even sold by small street vendors. You may see other desserts in other parts of Asia that may resemble this one, but halo-halo’s taste is deliciously unique and refreshing.

You should easily find it anywhere. Ask a local, and since they can understand English well, they can easily point you to the nearest place where you can buy one, and will also tell you where the best tasting halo-halo of the area is.

Question 3: How much money did it cost, and where do you recommend to find it?

The best part of the halo-halo is its price. Prices can start from 35 cents (yup, it’s that cheap) when buying in very local places. Most of them are priced around $1 dollar, although the more sophisticated ones, or the ones served in restaurants can cost higher (although nothing significantly higher than than $2-$3). I stayed longer in the food capital of the Philippines – Pampanga, which for me is a recommended place to taste halo-halo. The best place to taste halo-halo is in the most popular dessert and local food chain in Pampanga, Susie’s Cuisine. Their halo-halo is served in its iconic and unique cup (this tall cup is uniquely made in the Philippines for halo-halo) and open from morning to evening.

Question 4: What is your overall favorite cuisine in the world? What makes it so damn tasty?

My favorite cuisine would be Thai food!

I can’t believe I will say this, but when I first visited Thailand (I have been to Thailand a lot of times), it immediately became my favorite, and food tasted even better in my home country, Spain. And you know how good Spanish food is 😉 …

Starting with the fresh fruits like mangoes, coconut, rambutan and fresh fruit juices. They have so much variety and fruits and juices, and you can see that eating fruits is infused in the local culture, because there are so many local street vendors who sell fruits all around Bangkok. I also love soups in Thailand (they have various kinds of soups), the popular Pad Thai, and their spicy dishes cooked with fried rice.

Sweets and desserts are also really good in Thailand. The most popular and my favorite is mango with sticky rice and coconut sauce.

The best thing is that Thai food can be quite cheap, and good cooking can be found everywhere, from small local street vendors to the big restaurants.

Question 5: Eating is my #1 favorite part about traveling. Why do you think it’s so important to eat local foods when you travel abroad?

Like you, trying local food is my favorite thing to do when traveling to a new country. Why? Because food is a big part of everyone’s culture, and traveling to a new country, learning about the culture should be a big part of travel – to learn what’s unique, different and how people live in a certain area of the world. Trying local food with the local people will definitely give you the most authentic experience – you’ll be able to taste and eat the food like how the locals eat it, while you are surrounded by all things local, unlike when you are eating in a fancy restaurant when everything will be served in fancy plates and platters, and sometimes the food’s taste will be changed/adjusted. This is why I really love to meet local people and spend time and eat with them.

I have tried to eat spicy food and curries with my bare hands, or even eat with plastic gloves, like in one local place in Singapore, while eating a local chicken dish. When someone visits me in Spain, I make sure that there is a lot of time to eat and enjoy local food (and beers!), and if possible, definitely home cooked dishes. I also try to cook a Spanish dish, like the Spanish omelette or Paella when visiting locals in another country, while Couchsurfing, or staying with locals so they can taste a little bit of the Spanish cuisine. To me, it is a great way for me to share with the new friends I meet the experience of the Spanish culture.

 

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DrewMeal #16: Halo Halo (Filipino) with Ruben

Meal #15: Ropa Vieja in Cuba with James

by Drew on May 9, 2016 No comments

Thank you for tuning into episode #15 of Monday’s Marvelous Meals!

In this interview-based food series, you’ll learn about the world’s tastiest cuisines from other travelers and travel bloggers.

In today’s episode, I am happy to have fellow travel blogger talk about his favorite Cuban dish!  After reading this post, your mouth might be salivating because it sounds so delicious!

If you want to be the next person featured in this series, then please contact me with your favorite meal and I will send you the guidelines.  My aim is to cover all cuisines of the globe, so please try to contribute a meal that hasn’t already been covered.

Alright, now I’ll let James take over!

Meet James

James recently started exploring his Latin-American heritage backpacking through Latin America. His most recent trips include visits to Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico and most recently, Cuba.

Hoping to connect his love for coffee, culture and travel, James has big dreams of connecting the world one cup of coffee at a time.

Check out his coffee + travel blog, The Global Coffee Counter, and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

Question 1: Please share the name of this meal, and carfeully describe what the magical ingredients are. 

This is ropa vieja. That’s Spanish for old clothes, the origin of this dish. It’s a slow cooked, shredded beef in a sweet and mildly spicy tomato-based sauce. Tossed in, you’ll often find  bell peppers, onions and sometimes a tomato wedge. Accompanying Cuba’s national dish, you’ll usually find yellow rice, black beans, yuca and an entree salad of cucumber, tomato and onion. And don’t forget the post-meal Cuban coffee. 

Question 2: Where Where did you eat this meal? Did you discover it while you were traveling, or did you previously know about it?

first had ropa vieja in a somewhat upscale private restaurant (not run by the Communist State). While it was delicious, I enjoyed ropa vieja much more the second time at our casa particular in Trinidad. Not only are casa particulares more common than hostels and hotels in Cuba, but you can also have bigger and better meals prepared for you at your casa. 

first heard about ropa vieja in Miami, actually. But, like with lots of Cuban food I ate on this trip, I chose to wait until Cuba to try it for the first time. Though I’ll definitely be having it whenever I’m in Miami next. 

Question 3: How much money did it cost, and where do you recommend to find it?

Dinner, like this one, usually cost $8-10 USD at your casa particular. They simply add them to your overall tab for your stay. I highly recommend having most of your meals at your casa. If you’re lucky like we were, you’ll have your host sit with you and tell you stories about life in Cuba. 

Question 4: What is your overall favorite cuisine in the world?  What makes it so damn tasty?

Mexican, hands down. I don’t know if it’s in my blood or what, but exploring flavors of corn and chiles in new and old ways turns me on. Though I’m probably biased having grown up half Mexican in San Diego, which is pretty much known for having some of the best Mexican food in the USA. But when I’m traveling in Mexico, it’s tacos, tacos, tacos. I also really enjoy tamales, mole and tasting salsas from different regions of Mexico. 

Question 5: Eating is my #1 favorite part about traveling.  Why do you think it’s so important to eat local foods when you travel abroad?

Same here. And drinking coffee too, obviously. Food is like teleportation/time travel for me. Think about it, dishes like ropa vieja have been eaten for years. And not just in Cuba, but Spain and other Latin American countries too. That’s one reason why even when I’m home I eat food from around the world. Home, or abroad, it’s quickest way to get an understanding of the culture, people and their history. That’s what traveling is all about.

Thanks for sharing, James! Have you ever tried Cuban food? Comment below!

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DrewMeal #15: Ropa Vieja in Cuba with James

Party #16: A Night in Florence with Kaitlin

by Drew on May 9, 2016 No comments

Welcome to the 16th edition of my series “A Party to Remember!”

In this interview-based web series, you’ll learn about the best parties and nightlife all over the world from other travelers and travel bloggers.

In this week’s episode, I am thrilled to have fellow travel blogger Kaitlin talk about her favorite Italian fiesta!

If you want to be the next person featured in this series, then please contact me with your party idea and I will send you the guidelines.  My aim is to cover nightlife all over the globe, so please try to contribute a party that hasn’t already been covered.

Alright, now I’ll let Kaitlin take over!

Meet Kaitlin

As a recent college graduate, Kait is a newcomer to the travel blogging scene.

When Kait is not dancing, she is researching as much as she can on youth and backpacking travel.

She writes about her experience as a millennial obsessed with travel on her blog Because Life is for Living.

 

Question 1: What was the party/event and where was it?

Partying in Italy is always a blast, but during my semester abroad in Florence, my friends and I were so excited to hear of a night called “La Notte Bianca” that would happen towards the end of the semester. It is a night where all the shops and restaurants, gelaterie and piazzas, stay open all night. They close in the evening and re-open around 10pm and stay open until the morning.

Question 2: How did you hear about this party/event?

There were flyers posted all over the city. It would be kind of easy to miss if you A) didn’t know Italian or B) weren’t an international student to have your professors tell you all about it. But regardless everyone found out somehow since there was so much talk about it the day of!

Question 3: Did anything funny or ‘out of the ordinary’ happen that night? Please share the story!

So much happened that night! I met so many new people, even though that was during my last two weeks in Florence! The craziest thing looking back on the night was the fact that we didnt even get to the clubs for their discounts and specials until after 3:30 in the morning! We spent the whole night and early hours of the morning jumping from piazza to piazza, buying drinks off people with coolers walking down the street, which in retrospect probably wasn’t the best idea…

Question 4: What were the top 3 highlights from that night?

  1. There are so many piazzas in Florence, and that night each and every one had something going on. In one of the lesser known piazzas there were Cirque performers doing silk and trapeze shows and other amazing acts! In Piazza della Signoria, one of the biggest piazzas in Florence, there was a stage with amazing lights and great music going all night into the wee hours of the morning.
  2. It wasn’t just the piazzas that were rocking til the sun came up, even the stores were open very late too! The closed after dinner that evening to prepare and re-open before the festivities that night. The stores had some discounts and even some shop owners would have special music or lights or things going on in their stores.
  3. Not only was this a great excuse to get dressed up and go out that night, it was a great way to remind myself to take in every moment and appreciate what it means to travel and be filled with wanderlust. Who know that in 2014 I would be partying all night long in the beautiful city of Florence, listening to great music with some great people. La Notte Bianca was and always will be one of the greatest highlights of study abroad. And ending the night watching the sun come up on Piazzale Michelangelo was definitely one of THE BEST experiences of my life so far.

Question 5: What advice can you give to anyone who wants to attend this event and party like you did?

Without a doubt I would recommend eating a late lunch and taking a nap through dinner. Since I got back to my apartment after 7am, I definitely wished I had caught a few more Z’s that afternoon. Otherwise, just be prepared for a wild night out in the city.

Question 6: I claim Seoul to have the best nightlife in the world, after living there for a year and a half…which city do you think has the best nightlife?

I definitely am a fan of Chicago’s nightlife since I prefer the casual scene, however the city can get kind of pricey. I definitely love Florence, even though I am a little biased, because there is something for everyone. If you love the raging club vibes you should totally go to Space. But if you want just a few beers with some friends, there is always Kikuya or Red Garter, and of course all the others in between. To me that is what really makes a city shine with nightlife, when there is something for everyone, and you can see the city still bustling into the early (or sometimes late!) hours of the morning.

Thanks for sharing your story, Kait! Have you ever partied in Italy? Comment below!

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DrewParty #16: A Night in Florence with Kaitlin