So take off your shoes, let down you hair, be inspired and make your weekend beautiful xoxo MV © Mostly Victoria – 2014 – Cape St Vincent – Portugal
We’re back with more Travel Treasure and this week it’s one for all my fellow foodies…
Prepare to be inspired and why not share your treasure too?
Cafe du Monde NOLA
by Lara Platten
‘You must go to Cafe Du Monde’ ‘Oh I always go to Cafe Du Monde’ ‘You have to get beignets at Cafe Du Monde’
When the same place gets mentioned by seemingly every guidebook, list or person who’s been to a given city, you know you have to go. I’m covering a lot of cities on my trip across the US, but no eatery has been as consistently recommended as Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans.
On my first full day, a Saturday, the queue is down the street. Now I’ve queued for coffee before (Monmouth Coffee, Borough Market, step forward – it’s well worth it) but this is something else. The outdoor covered terrace area is huge – this is no tiny third wave coffee haunt. Instead, I opt to try the jambalaya at a restaurant opposite and come back another day. I will plan. I will be prepared. I will come early.
On Monday morning I come back, it’s barely 10am. On the walk from my accommodation in the Arts District shops are still closed, New Orleans – as you’d expect from a party town – is still waking up. But there’s a long queue at Cafe Du Monde. After a few minutes, I ask ahead and find out it’s a queue for take-out, so it’s a free-for-all to grab a table, if you can find one. There’s a few lurkers doing the rounds, grabbing tables before they’ve even been cleared, still laden with dirty cups, crumpled serviettes and the remains of beignets that couldn’t be conquered. There’s icing sugar under each and every table.
I settle for one inside and pick the corner by the window for best people watching – an activity you do a lot of, traveling alone. A chirpy waitress takes my order of small black coffee and beignets, but I switch tables and a waitress who’s clearly been here a while (and I don’t mean just her shift) brings my order. She barely even looks at the guys on the next table and gazes out the window vacantly when she takes their order.
My beignets (a type of French dougnut) and coffee arrive, laden with so much icing sugar it forms peaks and resembles a mini-mountain range. I have to tap off the excess not just in a vain attempt to save my thighs but to reduce the risk of choking by inhaling at the wrong moment.
Just warm, soft, sweet with the tiniest hint of a crisp outer, these beignet are delicious. The coffee is not bad at all either (and this comes from a wannabe coffee snob who has a habit of asking US baristas for a custom order). From my window seat I can see New Orleans life pass by, observe the hustle and bustle inside… and all for just $5.30. A great way to pass an hour in NOLA.
So here’s your weekly fix of Travel Treasure; you just gotta do, what you gotta do, to get a dolphin’s attention!
Prepare to be inspired and why not share your treasure too?
A Dizzy Dance with Dolphins
by Emily-Ann Elliott of ‘The Grown Up Gap Year’
Swimming with dolphins in New Zealand.
Jumping into the icy cold, choppy, seawater took my breath away and it took me a few moments to notice that I wasn’t alone. A beady eye was looking at with me with interest and then another one appeared, and another, and another…
Before I knew it I was absolutely surrounded by dolphins, swimming beneath me and back flipping next to me.
My visit to Kaikoura came about as part of my 30b430 trip, where I ticked off 30 things around the world I’d always wanted to do before my 30th birthday. Our morning began at 5.30am and as we sat in the boat bleary eyed, the crew warned us that they couldn’t guarantee that we’d actually see anything. But just 25 minutes later we started to spot some dolphins following us. Now I’ve seen the odd dolphin before, but I’ve never experienced a whole pod and seeing around 400 together was an incredible sight.
We jumped into the water and began to make the silly squeaking sounds we’d been told would attract the dolphins’ attention. My self-consciousness instantly vanished as the dolphins curiously moved closer to check out these strange creatures.
Dusky dolphins are one of the smallest species, but they were still the same length as me and I couldn’t believe the speed at which they swam. To be so close to wild animals was such a fantastic feeling and I kept ending up with mouthfuls of seawater as I was laughing so much.
The crew told us a good way to play with the dolphins is to make eye contact with them before swimming around in a circle, which might encourage them to copy you. I decided to give it a go and caught the attention of one before madly trying to propel myself around. It looked at me quizzically, as if to say: “Okay, so we’re playing this game?”, before swimming around me so quickly that it made me dizzy.
It was one of the most amazing moments of my trip and is something I will treasure forever.
This week’s delightful little travel treasure is about happiness found in a moment of spontaneity.
So prepare to be inspired and why not share your treasure too?
Hitch-Hiking, Happiness & Hair Braiding
by Dariece of Goats On The Road
It was a long journey travelling (and hitch-hiking) all the way from the south of Mozambique to the very northern reaches. We were desperate to reach the untouched Quirimbas Archipelago, a string of 27 or so stunning islands. Once we boarded our boat to take us to Ibo Island, every minute spent in dusty towns, on cramped transportation and stuck on the side of the road with our thumbs out was totally worthwhile.
We wandered through mangroves at low tide from Ibo Island over to Quirimba Island, with nothing more than a small village. The local people who inhabited that village were outstanding. Kids were greeting us with waves and hellos, the tiny market sold a few vegetables and coconuts and the men and women were looking curiously at us with huge smiles.
We spent the whole day just wandering around this village where they rarely (if ever) see foreign faces. We chased kids around and tried to communicate with the adults. Towards the end of the day was when I experienced one of my most treasured travel moments. I was just sitting there minding my own business, totally content, when a woman about my age came out of her house, grabbed my hair and started braiding it! Before I knew it, I had a group of people surrounding me watching my new hair-do come to life. If that wasn’t random and amazing enough, afterwards, her and I started dancing while everyone was making a drum beat!
It was just one of those moments where no words were spoken, but we understood each other perfectly.
For more on this amazing country, have a look at our Budget Guide To Backpacking Mozambique
and our Backpacking Mozambique – A Week In The Life video of a crazy week in Mozambique.
This weeks travel treasure left me with a serious case of wanderlust and made it to my bucket list! Will you be adding it to yours?
Be inspired and why not share your treasure with us too…
Dream Dinner in The Desert
by Kiwi and Koala
You can eat dinner or you can dine. Dinner in a desert, next to one of the most recognizable natural wonders of the world, Uluru (commonly known as Ayer’s Rock) and the dinner is called “The Sounds of Silence“.
The Adventure begins as the bus pulls up out front of in the Hotel about one hour before sunset and it only takes a few minutes to to a large sand dune not too far from Uluru. You stroll up to the top where you are served Champagne and hors d’oeuvres and listen to stories from a local, as the sun gets lower, and the giant red monolith changes color’s of red. A magical start to the evening, listening to the sounds of the didgeridoo reverberating through the desert, you feel very small and yet connected to this magical place.
As the sun dips behind Uluru, you walk to the dining area. A series of white table cloth table’s literally set up in the desert, with an unobstructed view of Uluru disappearing into the darkness. In the darkness you can feel the presence of this incredible monolith, let your eyes adjust you can see the silhouette against the starlight. You get to feast on a BBQ buffet of Australian delicacies, barramundi, kangaroo and crocodile, bush salads and classic desserts, complemented by Australian wines or beers.
The food was as wonderful, and as dinner moves along, the millions of stars come out to join you. Until you have seen the stars in the desert, you haven’t seen stars! Utterly breathtaking… After dinner a startalker, takes you on a tour of the spectacular southern night sky, telling stories of the Aboriginal dreamtime. The evening was about four hours long and has given magical memories for a lifetime.
Kiwi and Koala live in Monteray (California), they can be found; tasting wine, eating food, travelling and writing about it all at Wine Walkabout.
It’s an entry by yours truly this week and the third in our wonderful collection travel treasures – so be inspired and share your treasure too.
Dodging Death in Death Valley
by Mostly Victoria
Drive out of Las Vegas in a north westerly direction for around four hours and you’ll probably find yourself pretty darn close, if not slap bang in the middle of Death Valley National Park. It’s the northernmost part of the Mojave Desert, it’s hot and it’s dry – no surprise there; it’s the lowest point in North America. It’s got salt flats & sand dunes, badlands, moving rocks and hot springs, all entrapped by the mountain ranges that surround the valley.
I often puzzle over what it was about Death Valley that got so far under my skin. Here’s what I have figured…
If you’ve never been, the name of the park is, in itself, enough to set you on edge, with a fairly equal balance of curiosity and caution. The questions of ‘What deathly dangers await?’ and ‘Will I come out alive?’ are melodramatic and you know it, but they persist, and try as you might, you can’t quite silence them.
So you’re alert and ready, you’re braced, you’re on guard and dammit you’re prepared! You have your water, your first aid kit and you have every kind of emergency supply known to man – (not to mention a truck load of candy).
But you’re not prepared at all. And you don’t even know it. Sure – it’s definitely peppered with genuine dangers, but Death Valley is also a place of gobsmacking beauty, it’s like a karate chop coming at you from your blind spot.
As prepared as I thought I was, the last thing I expected was to be enamoured by the incredible natural beauty of the painted rocks and their contrasting colours that change by the millisecond at sunset, or for my breath taken away as I watched the salt crystals of bad water basin twinkling like diamonds in the midday sun.
I may have dodged death, but there’s absolutely no doubt about it – Death Valley definitely got me!
It’s been a great week at MostlyVictoria – The Travel Treasure Collection has been a real hit! So with excitement and anticipation, we have our second entry – be inspired and share your treasure too.
Sleeper Trains, Cockroaches and White Sandy Beaches
by Gabriella Sears
Bright blue seas. Tuk Tuks. Ping Pong shows. Mopeds. Buckets. Tubing. Temples. Elephant riding. Water Buffalo riding. 10 minutes of torrential rain directly followed by 40 degrees of scorching sunshine. I can only be talking about one place. Having spent 6 weeks travelling around Asia (Thailand Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos) I was lucky enough (or unlucky enough?!) to see the good, the bad and the (very) ugly parts of backpacking.
One major revelation was that I now know how much I have taken English Taxi Drivers for granted. Being able to hop in a taxi and know they won’t rip you off for all you have is a definite rarity in Asia. Another rarity? Toilets. Well, when I say toilets, I mean the toilets we are used to. A toilet with a seat that is. Oh and a flush. Asian toilets have neither. They are, in basic terms, a hole in the floor. There, on top of a mountain travelling from Vientiene to Vang Vieng in Laos, having just spent the last 4 hours dodging landslides, a seated (western-style) toilet made that trip worthwhile! It is also the only time when a toilet with a glass floor to ceiling window is acceptable! A loo with a view!
The complications and confusions when trying to organise tickets with very limited English spoken, the near death experiences when crossing roads in Vietnam (moped roulette it should be called) and the culinary delights of dog, cat, turtle, snake and rat being freely available in many road side huts, together with an incredible world wonder, Halong Bay, Tomb Raider temples in Angkor Wat, snorkelling with sharks in Shark bay, Koh Tau and lazing around on the beaches you could only imagine having in paradise, have all contributed to the trip of a lifetime.
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Perito Moreno Glacier by Globetrottergirls
Patagonia…it is just a region on a map with a beginning and an end, but when you actually set out to drive southward through it, there are days upon days where you feel that the rocky, barren landscape might never end. And then suddenly you reach a beautiful area that takes your breath away and is unlike anything you have seen before.
This was the experience we had about 50 miles outside of El Calafate on our trip out to see the Perito Moreno glacier. We had seen photos of it, but no one could have prepared us for how we would feel when we saw the glacier close up.
This is one of the very few glaciers in the world that is not melting away, but still growing, so you don’t feel that regretful sadness you might feel elsewhere. Here, you just feel how majestic this 35km long, 5k wide wall of ice truly is. The highest points are 60 stories high, and as the sun heats up the front each afternoon, cracking noises thunder through the air before massive pieces of ice bigger than your house crash into the water below.
A boat trip brought us almost right up to the towering walls, and the drop in temperature as you near the glacier is humbling, its power and size is overwhelming. The ice cracks and groans, and feels alive and under its spell we spent an afternoon with hundreds of other people just staring at the massive sheet of ice. When you stand on the many walk ways and paths built in front of it, observing it from different angles and vantage points, it looks like the water was rushing right at you, frozen in time now for millions of years as ice.
There is no way to predict the impact that global warming will have on the glaciers in future decades, even the mighty Perito Moreno, which is why we keep this day close to our hearts as one of our dearest travel treasures.
About GlobetrotterGirls: Independent travel experts and digital nomads, Dani and Jess are a German-American LGBT couple traveling the world non-stop since 2010. They have lived in and traveled through over 30 countries while running their travel website GlobetrotterGirls.com. Street food junkies, hotel enthusiasts, street art lovers, vegetarians, and passionate housesitters, the GlobetrotterGirls are also authors of the book Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting.