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Southern Charm in New Orleans, Louisiana

We’d been hearing a lot about New Orleans, or Nola in short, and what a fun place it is especially during Mardi Gras season.  Although we came in Thanksgiving instead of Mardi Gras, we could still feel a lot of the vibrant energy that makes Nola one of the most exciting cities in the south.

Nola’s history is to thank for its charm – being once a French territory then coming into Spanish control, and then back to France before being bought by the United States.  The European touch can still be strongly felt with the abundance of European architecture and streets.  From houses with beautiful verandas and streets with their earlier Spanish names on placards, and the oldest section of the city being one of the busiest too – the French Quarter.  But nonetheless, Americans and Africans have done a great job integrating their culture with the history of the old city, with the inclusion of jazz, arts, and food.

One of the things I loved the most from the trip was undoubtedly the delicious Creole cuisine.  The city’s history of being a melting pot of French, African and American cultures have concocted delicious dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, po’ boys, shrimp creole, and my favorite – crawfish pie.  


Unpacking Denver with Nigel Barker

When I was just a teen living in Manila, my brother and I loved watching the show America’s Next Top Model.  It was a big hit in the Philippines at the time, which was surprising considering how far it was from the US.  We would catch it on TV every Friday afternoon, and my brother and I would cheer for our own favorite contestants. It was from that show that I first heard about Nigel Barker, one of the permanent judges on the show alongside Jay Alexander and Tyra Banks.

Fast forward 10 or more years later, my husband tells me one evening that there’s an auction through Marriott Hotel’s reward programs, for a chance to get a private tour led by Nigel Barker himself. Before I could even decide if I wanted to go to Denver, my husband starts bidding on the auction, and two days later we found out we were the winners.

Unfortunately, my hubby couldn’t make it.  But luckily one of my friends was down to join me for the trip.  I had a great time “unpacking” Denver, plus the chance to meet and learn a few things from Nigel Barker was priceless. 

Exploring Montreal & Quebec

I finally got a glimpse of some really nice cities in Canada, during my recent visit.  Although I only saw Montreal & Quebec during my trip, both cities were among the most recommended to me by locals, along with Toronto.  Canada has such an interesting history and landscape, the rest of the country deserves another visit, especially the rockies and the countryside.