(Not so) Monthly Favourites.

We’re still in the Post-Grad editions folks. I swear this will be over soon.

  1. Spotify App. I honestly love this. It’s worth paying £4.00 for, seeing as my mp3 player is actually about 7 years old.
  2. My student card. I’m really gonna miss all my discounts (see above…)
  3. Creations aromatic. As mentioned in a previous post, humans are the only animals to alter the smell of their environment. I do it with Creations. They are supposed to last around 10 hours but mine have all lasted way longer. I like the blueberry one.
  4. LUSH Shampoo bars. This year I have only spent £11.50 on shampoo. Here’s the thing. £5.75 is a lot for a bar of shampoo, I’ll admit. But it lasts about 5 or 6 times longer than regular bottles. And my hair is loooong. It needs a lot of shampoo. I’m just a huge fan. It’s so worth it. I like the one that smells like honey.
  5. Mindfulness colouring books. Colouring books for adults. I’m in the middle of my dissertation and they are so therapeutic and relaxing. I think their perfect for anyone with a stressful lifestyle. It’s a great way to just switch off and not think about anything for 10 minutes.
  6. Kale chips. I know, I’m vile. I have baked leaf as a snack. But trust me. Get a baking sheet and line it grease proof paper. Put loads of kale on it, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then go nuts. I like vinegar, salt and pepper, but you can try lemon or chipotle or whatever. Bake them at 180oC for about ten minutes until they’re about to turn brownish and eat. Delicious.
  7. Dogs. I am a dog walker. Try Holidogs to do a similar things. Earn money to walk cute pooches. Win win!
  8. Snyders Pretzel pieces. Hot buffalo wing flavour will rock your world. You can thank me later.
  9. Moleskin journals. I’ve spent most of my adult life wanting one and now I finally have a glorious red one. I love it.
  10. Planning. I’m finally going on the trip of my dreams and doing the Pacific Coast Highway in a caravan! Anyone who has been following this blog since I first started posting will know what a big deal this is to me, and I’m hugely excited to head off.

As always tag me in your monthly favourites because I love reading them! Peace xx

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The GART – pt 2. CanaMex route.

Route 93 – The CanaMex Highway.

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The standard CanaMex Highway is the major North to South American route. You don’t have to cross the border, starting at Port of Roosevelt in Montana and ending up in Wickenburg, Arizona, or you can really travel the Americas by starting in Jasper, Alberta and cruising over three states to Tucson, Arizona, about 70 miles away from Nogales at the border. The first route is around 1457 miles long (or 2345 kilometres) and would probably take around three weeks. The latter is around 1995 miles/3210 kilometres, and I would suggest taking around 10 weeks to do it.

Now that the logistics of the trip are over we can get along with the Fun Parts; starting up in Jasper, Canada. The only place I have been to in Alberta was Edmonton which, granted, was a riot, but was a bit too north for me to get a look in at Jasper and Banff. However I’ve called upon some sources (Thanks Brad!) and hopefully can give some good enough information about everywhere!

Jasper is found pretty much in the middle of the Canadian Rockies. Depending on the time of year you go there are different things to do there. However, what I would suggest doing is visiting Maligne Lake. There, you can fish (check permits first!), rent kayaks and canoes, and in winter they offer snow-shoeing and Canyon ice-walking.  It’s beautiful camping territory up there as well, if that’s your thing! As for food I would suggest Evil Dave’s Grill. Their Caesers (or Bloody Mary’s for those UK readers) look lethal, as do their Lollipop shrimp and Alberta beef. Yum!

Because Canadian distances are incredibly deceptive, Banff looks close to Jasper, though it is a good 4 hour drive away. But worth it, as there is a wealth of beautiful countryside to go through and indeed see once you are there.

You can hike Sulphur mountain which is pretty much right in the town itself. It’s not terribly difficult at all and has some nice views on your way up. If needs must there is a cable car (I’m such a fan of cable cars) and I’m lead to believe it’s free to take down if you’ve walked up… however you have to pay to ride up. I have also been suggested to go out to Johnston Canyon which is about a 30 – 40 mins drive from the town. It’s a great a hike with some walkways that ends in a beautiful waterfall.

After all that hiking you’re bound to get up an appetite, so I shall give a small list of places to go and things to get there. Courtesy of Brad!

  1. A Barpa Burger from Barpa Bill’s Souvlaki Restaurant.
  2. A ‘Litre o’ Sangria from Magpie and Stump. I’ve been told it’s the best Sangria our of Spain. Ask for a ‘litre o’ to get a litre of your favourite drink!
  3. Head to Eddie’s for a gourmet burger – Aussie style! For drinks try a TrashCan. I just hope it’s tastier than it sounds!
  4. Another good watering hole is the Rose and Crown, with live music at weekends
  5. For those late night munchies head to Aardvark for pizza and sub sandwiches.

So we’re done with Canada! For now…

There’s sadly no Man v Food stop in Montana (Get on it Adam) so if you can face the prospect of a state without food challenges, travel six hours south and you’ll reach Sun River, Montana. The main information I found about this site revolves around fishing and camping. Some companies offer packrafting, which I have sort of down in my own country and would definitely root for – it’s great fun!  Another two hour drive south and you’ll come to Missoula, MT.  Now, if I was going there I’d personally be hitting up the Ghost towns, which may not be for everyone but it looks right up my street. There also a number of breweries and campsites you can visit, and if you just aren’t happy with that you can try the bar where time stands still for two hours a day and head to Finn and Porter’s bar and grill, where happy hour lasts for three hours…

Next on out whistle-stop tour of the United States (and Canada) is Bitterroot National Forest, which borders Montana and Idaho, the next state we’re heading into.  Bitterroot offers a Full Moon Walk, which starts at about 7pm and lasts an hour and a half. There’s so much else you can do during the day, such as hiking, horseback riding, boating, and hunting. Not sure how we all feel about the option but hey. The option is there for us.

Pass through the forest and we end up in Idaho (No, Udaho. Guess whose least favourite joke that is. Hint, it’s everyone I know because I say it all the time) Unfortunately all three of the Man v Food locations are located in Boise, which is near the border of Oregan and far away from Highway 93. About five hours south of the Montana border is Sun Valley, where you can ice skate, snow board and climb up numerous mountains such as Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. There’s an activity there called Snow Tubing, which caught my attention, so after a quick google I found this video. Look at it. How peaceful does that look? Very.

For the more adventurous head down through Idaho to Twin Falls. There you can head to Shoshone Falls aka “The Niagara of the West”. It’s over 200 feet tall and 900 feet wide, and although it’s $3 entry fee it seems to be well worth it.  You can also BASE jump at Perrine Bridge, where there are festivals yearly that are worth a visit.

Let’s move swiftly through “the Loneliest road in America” to yet another state; Nevada – famed for its gambling. To break up the enormous nine hour stoat from Twin Falls to Las Vegas I would suggest a stop off at the Great Basin National Park and take a little trip up Jeff Davis’ mountain. You know, to stretch your legs a bit. After that you can jump back in the car for another four hours to the gambling centre of the world, the epicentre of cash flow, Las Vegas.

There are three spots to eat in Las Vegas, according to Richman. Let’s jump in at the deep end and eat at the challenge restaurant, the NASCAR Cafe. Food won in this 6 pound burrito challenge. If eating something the size of a small baby does not appeal to you our pal Adam can suggest Hot N’ Juicy Crawfish or Hash House a go go  which probably has a different meaning to some, but I can assure you they are talking about hash browns.

For those of you looking for something to do in Las Vegas I suggest you turn your television on and watch any American made sitcom from the 1980s onwards, as they will each have at least one episode where a main character is swept up in the lights and glamour of being in a brightly lit room 24 hours a day gambling away their children’s inheritance money. If that’s not your thing I suggest a trip to the Venetian – the biggest hotel in the world. It’s the size of a small town and has underground chambers to help staff keep the efficiency. If that doesn’t float your boat, Red Rock is a 30 minute drive away, as is Hoover Dam.

Passing through the Grand Canyon National Park at Lake Meade should provide some much needed respite from the built up chaos of Las Vegas. Drive through the Grand Canyon state and hit up a rodeo in Wickenburg before hitting up Phoenix; where our Man v Food fun begins.

Tragically, the challenge establishment Big Earl’s BBQ, where food won in a 12 slider challenge has closed. According to my (minimal) research the wonder has opened up a new place in Scottsdale, but alas. Instead, head on over to Alice Cooper’stown (no, that’s not a typo). This rock star turned golfer turned restaurateur serves up an interesting menu and you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s gonna be a memorable experience there with such a character at the forefront of it all. Acknowledge Arizona’s close links to Mexico by eating at Los Reyes de la Torta  and then heading south to Tucson.

So we’re nearly at the end of our journey. You’ve been driving for about 35 hours in total and covered 3,050km. You’ve crossed one international border and two state lines (the states are long and skinny in the west huh?) You’re so close to Mexico you can almost taste the tequila; however, you gotta make a couple of stops first. Tucson’s Lindy’s on 4th is our challenge restaurant of the city. The OMG burger (now called the OMFG burger…) is nine 1/3 lb. patties (3 lbs.) of meat with cheddar and Swiss, lettuce, tomato, onion & Lindy’s sauce and, astonishingly for the first time in a while on this trip, Man won! If you don’t fancy high blood pressure I’d suggest El Guero Canelo, famed for its hot dogs or the little nest where you can rest before the final leg of our journey, Mi Nidito.

Finally, Head through Green Valley which has some of the most diverse flora and fauna in the United States until you get to Nogales, AZ, where the film Oklahoma! was filmed…. Watch yourself here; a year ago the largest underground drug bust was carried out, resulting in the arrest of three people. Marvel at the immense security measures at the border of Mexico. Nogales, MX is one of the main ports of entry from the USA to Mexico especially for tourists. It consists of bars, strip clubs, hotels, restaurants, and a large number of curio stores, which sell a large variety of artesanias (handicrafts, leather art, handmade flowers, clothes) brought from the deeper central and southern states of Mexico. Local dishes commonly available in restaurants include many types of antojitos (Mexican food) such as enchiladas, tacos, burritos with carne machaca (dried meat), menudo and tamales, but sadly, no Man v Food.

Glasgow at a Glance pt. 2!

_41754302_marditonea416Once again I turn to my friends to help me make the most of my last few months in Glasgow. Today we feature one of the first friends I made at university Leslie, who is 22. He currently works at The Nancy Smillie Shop, located in the heart of Glasgow’s West End.

Best place for a first date?

Would honestly recommend any of the coffee shops around the Byres Road, they all offer something a bit different and have a really nice, relaxed atmosphere. Avenue G is to name but one.

Avenue G just had a wee vamp of their menu as well! They have a good system in which you can buy one of their travel cups and get a free coffee or tea! But you’re right, most of the shops along Byres Road offer a little bit of privacy but aren’t too intimate, though Avenue G does often get quite busy up top!

Best place for a cheap meal?

Black Rabbit, Great Western Road. Why have Two for Tuesdays when you can have Three for Tuesdays? It may not seem like much but it does great food and sides and drinks included you can easily feed three people for under a tenner.

I will say I’ve visited the Black Rabbit (though very late at night) and was underwhelmed! I might have to reconsider things now….

Best place to go all out/best night?

For a night out, The Polo Lounge has always been a great night. A cheap drinks (£1.50 for pretty much a measure of anything) through the week and free entry all weekend if you’re there early enough. Has 2 great dance floors and an adjoining cocktail bar, with some decent entertainment some nights; all in all, a great place for a few (or a lot) of drinks.

I’m a huge fan of Polo’s tea pot cocktails. And prices. And music. And their naked butlers. Ok, I’m just a huge Polo fan.

Best place to go with your S/O’s parents?

The Grosvenor (Ashton Lane). Great refurbished cinema, fully licensed with bar, restaurant, and the novelty of being able to take the bottle of wine you got with dinner into a movie never gets old. It’s a great place to go if even just for dinner, especially if the steak is still anywhere near as good.

I usually take wine into the cinema regardless but it’s nice when it’s legal to do so… Their pulled pork burgers are amazing and if you have the SR app which I mentioned in my last blog you can get cheap cocktails during the week!  Orange Wednesdays also work in the cinema there.

Hidden gems?

Tchai-Ovna, Otago Lane. Idyllic tea house hidden in one of Glasgow’s lanes, Has a huge selection of teas, shisha pipes for those inclined, and hugely tasty vegan friendly nibbles – a relaxing place to go and sit hour for ages with a book or do some work.

Dammit, this was my hidden gem! I almost considered deleting this and forging Leslie’s response as I like it so much here. The teas are fairly expensive, bu the food is very cheap and delicious! There’s a great atmosphere inside as well, perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

A place you couldn’t pay me to go to.

Ashoka. Don’t do it. It has good variety, but there are far better places for curry and the like in Glasgow, such as Shish Mahal on Park Road (Kelvinbridge), had amazing food and is decently priced for the quality. Mother India is also always a safe bet, if a tad on the pricey side.

Ashoka has some good lunchtime deals, but Leslie is right, there are better and more authentic places to go! Like the Shish Mahal, which holds a special place in my heart. Get their Chicken Chasni. It’s divine. I think they know me there actually….

A huge thank you to Leslie for his little guide to Glasgow. Again, if any of you think that your favourite place is not being represented drop me a line answering the questions above and I’ll include your opinions!

Planning the GART (Great American Road Trip) pt. 1

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For a while now I’ve been 100% obsessed with America, particularly the South. Maybe it’s the introduction I’ve had to Netflix, and therefore classic American shows like Man v Food, Modern Family, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, and RuPaul’s Drag Race (there is no hint of sarcasm there, I genuinely adore these shows). A personal goal of mine is to do a Man v Food trip across the states, eating at all the restaurants he goes to. That is the dream.

However I am still just a student, and I do not have the funds for such extravagant travel yet. A friend and I are planning a Route XYZ trip across America in the summer sometime and, man, is it the most complicated thing? Probably. So I’ve decided that (mainly for my own benefit) I’m going to list the Routes and highlights of each trip, featuring Man v Food’s food stops. Websites that have been particularly helpful with this and deserve a huge shout out are Road Trip USA and Road Kill Customs. And of course the classic Trip Advisor for timing advice etc.

Route 101 – Pacific Coast

Starting in Seattle and ending up in San Diego near the Mexican border, the Pacific Coast Route covers a huge variety of lifestyles in America. It passes three states: Washington; Oregon; and California. The trip itself is roughly 1,540 miles (or 2, 478 kilometres) and should take around 22 days, in a rush. You can do it from Vancouver, if you fancy a Canadian addition to your trip (and who wouldn’t, let’s face it).

You can expect to pass through Olympic National Park, providing that there isn’t another government shut down… There are a number of beautiful beaches, as well as tidal rock-pools. I would recommend taking some time to do the Waterfall Trail because this seems to be one of the main highlights of the park, as well as beautiful.

If you have the time you can take a small detour to Cannon beach, which is about a four hour drive from the National Park. Most of the coastal tows of Oregon are based along Route 101, however Cannon beach is not. You can surf, camp, and view many outdoor theatre shows.

Should you choose to by pass Cannon beach about three and a half hours from Olympic Park you find the city of Portland. And of course, here is my first nod to the legend that is Adam Richman. Portland is the city of mancakes from Stepping Stone Pancakes, delicious doughnuts from VooDoo Doughnuts, which can be customised to order and are open 24/7, nearly 365, and finally Richman’s Great Balls of Fire Challenge at Salvador Molly’s. This challenge consisted of eating five habanero cheese fritters. Man won.

Heading on south you’ll find yourself in the Avenue of the Giants, which is a forest of red wood trees which stretches for 31 miles along the highway in Northern California. You can wine taste, if you’re over 21, wander around art galleries, or camp and trek among these ancient beauties.

Around 3 hours south of the Avenue of the Giants we end up in San Francisco, home of the largest celebration of Gay Pride. if you aren’t there during pride, which is June 28th-29th 2014, you can hit up many of the permanent attractions San Francisco has to offer, such as the Exploratorium, aquariums, or the hundreds of art galleries and museums San Fran has to offer. It was also the city of this amazing stunt. And the 2nd stop of our Man v Food tour! This city round Adam visited Taqueria la Cumbre, birthplace of the mission style burritos, Ike’s Place, where any sandwich filling is possible, and the challenge restaurant being the San Francisco Creamery Co. where food sadly won in the Kitchen Sink Challenge.

Heading further south you’ll pass Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay, however these are not en route. The next stop is Hearst Castle which was founded in 1865, and is an important historical site in California. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy try heading down south for another couple of hours before hitting Santa Barbara. There you can visit Lotus Land, the Zoo, or one of the any beautiful beaches Saint B has to offer. You can also visit the Man v Food spot La Super-Rica Taqueria, which does not have it’s own website page, but by the reviews, it probably should.

Next stop: Hollywood. Or should I say Los Angeles, America’s 2nd most populated city. This city is often referred to as the Creative Capital of the World, with one in every six residents being in the creative industry. The obvious things to do would be to visit Hollywood, including Universal Studios and the Walk of Fame. Here is also a list of places where you can get the best view of the famous Hollywood sign. Check out Pasadena for hotels, Santa Monica for hidden gems and the LAX region for world renowned beaches such as Malibu!

For those of you who don’t really care about the perfect beach body (like myself and no one in LA) the Man V Food tour continues here. We have a cultural mix of foods here, unsurprisingly for such a metropolitan city. El Tepeyac, a true sign that we are approaching the border to Mexico, Philipe the Original, home of the French dip sandwich, and a truck stop called the White Rabbit. Finally, the challenge restaurant Orochon Ramen in Little Tokyo, where man was the victor over a bowl of Special #2 ramen noodles (which just means they were extremely hot).

And finally, a twenty minute drive from the border of Mexico we arrive at the end of the Route 101 in San Diego. Famous attractions here include the San Diego Zoo. I would also recommend a tour of the city by gondola, or if you’re feeling more adventurous you could try snorkelling with La Jolla Kayak.

And finally, you can begin to loosen your belts as e come to the end of the Man V Food Pacific Coast Highway tour. Start off at the Lucha Libre Taco Shop: the dining establishment with possibly the best URL on the internet. Move onto Phil’s BBQ, but be sure to check the Queue Cam on their website before you go, because this place can sure as hell get busy. If you can manage one final challenge, Richman hit up the Broken Yolk Cafe, and won the challenge against a 12-egg omelet filled with sautéed onions, mushrooms, chili and so much cheese, also served with 1½ pounds of hash browns and two large pancakes. Be sure to go in the morning as this food joint closes at 3pm.

And so concludes our Man V Food inspired Route 101 tour of the USA. Hopefully this has been of some sort of interest to you guys, I know it does for me!