Detroit’s Best Breweries & Cafes: Drinking My Way Through the Motor City

Life Style

Detroit’s Best Breweries and Cafes: Drinking My Way Through the Motor City

I don’t know if you’ve heard the news, but Detroit is now a food mecca. Earlier this year, National Geographic listed Detroit as one of the world’s “6 Unexpected Cities for the Food Lover,” and media blew up with stories of the city’s food revival. I’ve been singing the praises of Detroit’s best breweries and coffee shops for years, though, so I was not surprised.

Detroit’s economy has recently been doing better, the crime rate has dropped, and new development is popping up all over the city.  After decades of decline, this really is something to celebrate. And how to do I usually celebrate good news? By visiting Detroit’s best breweries and coffee shops to grab a drink of course! There are no shortages of amazing craft breweries and cafes throughout the Detroit Metro for you to explore and fall in love with.

 

Detroit’s Top 4 Craft Breweries

Starting in the Grosse Pointes you’ll find my absolute favorite brewery in the region (and honestly, maybe in the world): Atwater in the Park. I’m working on trying every beer on their rotating list and can so far highly recommend their Whango Mango Wheat and the Nitro Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale. Atwater in the Park is one of Detroit’s best breweries because it has fabulous outdoor seating, trivia nights, and the most sumptuous giant soft pretzels you will ever come across in your life.  Oh and did I mention it’s in a converted church? Doesn’t get more hip than that! 

Up in the hipster, hippy city of Ferndale, Axle Brewing Company’s new Livernois Tap has a to-die for brunch menu. I couldn’t stop exclaiming out loud in joy when chowing down on their French onion eggs rolls which paired well with a Dual Citizen cream ale. Livernois Tap also has great outdoor seating which obviously is a prerequisite for my favorite breweries. 

Another one of Detroit’s best breweries is in the suburb of St. Clair Shores. Whenever I’m passing through, I like to stop at Baffin Brewing Company. Though they don’t serve food in house, there are often food trucks parked right outside for a quick bite. At the Baffin Brewing Company I usually go for a Backcrossing Baffin Brown and sit right at the window for people watching.

Finally, back in Midtown Detroit, my happy place is Motor City Brewing Works. This place has is all: outdoor seating, good views, piping hot brick over pizza, and an ice-cold pitcher of Ghettoblaster, an English style mild ale. Honestly, what’s not to like?

 

Detroit’s Can’t Miss Coffee Shops

Now on to my other favorite brew: coffee. By far and away, Detroit’s hippest coffee shop is Great Lakes Coffee in Midtown. This cafe has amazing lavender lattes and is a good place to study in the day (In the evening, you can also go for wine or a craft beer. Essentially Great Lakes Coffee hits all my favorite things.)

Also in the neighborhood, Fourteen East is a cute cafe to get delicious chai lattes or French press. 

A few blocks away is Avalon International Breads. This popular coffee shop serves famous (and delicious) sea salt chocolate chip cookies that go great with hot coffee. 

Downtown, my favorite place to go is Urban Bean Co. My favorite aspect of this cafe is the lofted seating, which makes a perfect place to people watch, study, and enjoy a cappuccino.

In Indian Village, a beautiful neighborhood on the east side, The Red Hook is where it’s at. Make sure to check out the murals both within the café and across the street.

Further east in the Grosse Pointe suburbs, Cornwall Bakery and Morning Glory Café are my go to hangout spots. Cornwall features Rendezvous with Tea, a local brand sourced from all over the world and has amazing shortbread. Morning Glory Café has beautifully decorated cupcakes along with great outdoor seating.

 

There you have it, Detroit’s best breweries and cafes. If you are not packing your bags for Motown after reading this post, well, you can’t be saved.  Detroit has to be seen to be believed. Follow your heart (and your stomach) to a region that’s finally experiencing their much deserved renaissance and rebirth, where the brews flow freely and the patios are always packed.

-R

by Sep 18, 2017

What is a South American Suicide Shower?

Life Style

 

Have you ever heard of a suicide shower? I hadn't until I moved to South America this year but now, unfortunately, I can tell you all about them. I've had a lot of experience with these suicide showers in the past few months. So far, I've lived to tell the tale.

 

What is a Suicide Shower?

 

Suicide shower is the nickname given to electrically heated showers. As you can probably guess, the name originates from the fact that combining water and electricity usually doesn't end too well. But, for some reason down here in Peru this is the water heating system of choice, which means Daniel and I have been showering under exposed electric wires for the past 3 months.

Really, I promise I'm not being dramatic here. The term "suicide shower" is a real nickname used for these ridiculous death contraptions, and they have caused multiple deaths around the world. Google it if you don't believe me. (But really don't. It's sad.)

Our suicide shower was especially bad in Cusco, where the wires ran out of the light socket and directly into the shower head, most of them just taped together with electrical tape, sticking out haphazardly (seriously how many wires does it need?!) with no sort of order or arrangement to them at all.

The water gets heated as it runs through the shower head itself, so another fun aspect of a suicide shower is the lower the water pressure is, the hotter the water will be. That means you can have a warmish shower with ok water pressure, or you can have a hot shower a couple drops at a time. When you have a mane like mine, this means spending even longer in the death trap.

After living in Peru for three months I now consider myself an expert in the subject of sketchy shower practices. Without further ado, I present:

 

The Complete Guide to Surviving a Suicide Shower

 

Step 1: Lower your hygiene standards so you are ok with showering as little as possible (never mind the strenuous hikes and climbs you are doing weekly in this part of the world). Once or twice a week is best.

Step 2: Brush your hair and prep everything you need so you can get in and out of there as fast as possible.

Step 3: Turn on the suicide shower and think of anything else except the exposed wires that are running into the shower head, ready and waiting to kill you when you least expect it. Say a prayer.

Step 4: Decide you're not going down in a shower related accident, wimp out, turn off the shower, and heat up a pot of water for the sad and pathetic bucket shower you deserve.

ANYWAY this is usually the method I go for! I am still alive so it has definitely been working well so far! If you come across one of these bad boys on your travels through South America, keep this advice in mind because you surely don't want to be remembered as the guy who was killed by a shower 🙂

Good luck and happy travels!

All my love,

Di

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by Sep 14, 2017

The Ultimate Travel Companion Checklist

Life Style

 

The Ultimate Travel Companion Checklist

Are you planning a trip with a friend? Heading on your first romantic vacation with your significant other? If so, listen up. Traveling together can make or break a relationship. Use our ultimate travel companion checklist to make sure you’re compatible before you book your flights!

 

1.How much time do you like to spend in museums?

Museum compatibility is CRUCIAL for a smooth trip. If your partner want to read every word and spend all day in a museum, while you prefer to pass through quickly and check out the main exhibits, you’re going to have a bad time. Lets be honest, spending an entire precious day of your vacation cooped up in an educational setting can lead to resentment. On the flip side, being rushed and prodded through a museum you may have been dying to visit for years will also definitely piss you off. In an ideal world, you can avoid these problems by ensuring museum compatibility before you take your trip.

MY TIP: if you are not museum compatible, make sure you can at least split up for a day while one person hits the museums and the other does, well, anything else.

 

2. How many bathroom breaks do you need in a day of sightseeing?

Are you prepared to be constantly distracted while your partner hunts for the nearest bathroom? Are you ready to spend half your budget paying for their public toilets? Can you stop every hour while hiking or camping for your pal to find a secluded spot in the woods? Or, on the other hand, are you going to be comfortable bringing up bathroom breaks again and again throughout the day at the cost of potentially annoying your steel bladdered friend?

I get it, whichever side of the coin you fall on, this is something you can’t help. But when you spend all day every day with someone else, you will both have intimate knowledge of each other’s bathroom schedules. Check with them and make sure they match up!

MY TIP: If you are the pee-er in the relationship, go fast when your partner is waiting, don’t dilly-dally checking your hair or outfit. If you’re the non pee-er, try to keep your teasing to a minimum. They already have to spend time in tons of gross public bathrooms, and that’s punishment enough.

3. Are you a doer or a relaxer?

This is one of the most important areas of compatibility to ensure a great trip! Doers wake up with a to do list in hand, ready to check off any and all of the tourist attractions in the city. Relaxers sleep in, believing vacation is a time to enjoy yourself, and generally don’t care if they get to all, or even some, of the tourist attractions. Doers are out and about with their metro maps from sun up to sun down. Relaxers prefer to hit up a cafe for a long breakfast, and maybe spend all day drinking in the sun instead of learning a single thing about the country’s culture or history.

Most people fall in the middle of the scale between the two, and balance the touristy days with the relaxing ones. However, if either of you fall on one extreme, you’re going to resent the other for taking over your vacation days!

MY TIP: If one of you is a major doer or relaxer, try to set up a potential schedule of activities ahead of time, and agree to spend a day or two apart so you can both enjoy your vacation in your own way.

 

4. Do either of you have any specific food preferences?

Picky eaters are the worst. I’m just going to say it, and I’m sorry. But it’s true. If you are traveling with someone who doesn’t want to try anything new, or is afraid of eating in any restaurant that isn’t pristine or has menus in English, you’re going to breed some resentment. Eating is one of the best parts of traveling. If your partner insists on eating at McDonalds for every meal or the overpriced tourist traps, you’re going to miss out on a major, and delicious, cultural insight in every country. Don’t travel with picky eaters!

I’m going to add this, and I know it will be contentious, but vegetarians and vegans can be the same way. Most of them are fine, and know they chose their fate and can find something on the menu. It’s the ones who veto every restaurant after checking out the menu because it doesn’t have exactly what they want at the time that honestly have just got to go. I’m serious about this one… check your partner’s food preferences BEFORE you travel together, or you may end up missing out on some amazing meals!

MY TIP: If you’re traveling with a picky eater, compromise will be key. Make an agreement to each choose the restaurant for every other meal, so you don’t start arguing three times a day about where to eat. Or, just don’t travel with a picky partner 🙂

 

5. How much do you drink?

Even though we may not want to admit it, going out and drinking definitely has consequences. Do your drinking habits match up? Does one of you prefer to club until sunrise, while the other enjoys trying a few new beers in a craft brewery and calling it an early night?

Different drinking habits can affect a lot on a trip. First, if you’re blowing all your money on expensive cocktails in a club, you may have to knock one or two other things off your to do list that you can no longer afford. Also, recovery time is real. You may want to get up for a sunrise hike while your partner was planning to sleep until noon. Someone is going to be unhappy in that situation. What are your priorities for your trip? Make sure you discuss them and make sure they match up ahead of time!

MY TIP: If you have different drinking preferences, compromise with a night of each. Just make sure you don’t have any strenuous activities planned for the next day…

 

Who you travel with can make or break your vacation, and traveling together can even make or break a relationship if you’re not compatible. Forward this to a friend and make sure you match up before you take your trip!

All my love,

Di

Have you ever traveled with someone and found out you weren’t compatible after it was too late? How’d it go down? Comment below to connect, and make sure you sign up for the latest updates straight to your inbox!

 

by Aug 18, 2017

How To Rent an Apartment in a Foreign Country (Without Getting Ripped Off)

Life Style


 

How To Rent an Apartment in a Foreign Country Without Getting Ripped Off

Getting ripped off sucks. Having traveled for the better part of the last three or four years, it’s happened plenty of times. There was the time I got pickpocketed. The time our taxi driver drove off with Di’s phone in the car and never returned. But the worst of them all was getting ripped off by our American landlord in Colombia (around $700 if you’re wondering). However, with that said, I feel like this situation was essentially our fault. If you follow some of these simple tips to rent an apartment in a foreign country, you can avoid that experience.

 

Stay on AirBnB

You want the best deal possible when you’re traveling, and looking to rent an apartment in a foreign country is no different. I get it. Although Airbnb apartments are generally overpriced, the service provides you with a lot of protection that you don’t get if you decide to track down an apartment once you’re in the city.

For example, we had an apartment through AirBnb for our first month in Colombia. Despite the guy’s good reviews, the apartment ended up being a disappointment in several ways. The location wasn’t great, the quality of the apartment wasn’t great, and there were cockroaches.

Upon leaving, the owner of the apartment had a complete meltdown after a small dispute about how many of the Cokes we drank from his fridge. During his existential crisis, he made several outlandish claims and told us that white people weren’t welcome in his country (despite being an immigrant from Colombia to America himself).

Luckily, Airbnb helped us out with the problem. They removed his asinine review from our profile and allowed our review to remain on his profile. In short, that situation probably wouldn’t have been resolved as easily otherwise.

Which takes us to our next mistake.

When we went to rent our nest apartment in the country, we decided that we were going to save some money and get a better deal on a nicer apartment. We found a fellow American (thought we could trust someone from our own country a bit more), paid a hefty deposit, and moved into an apartment that wasn’t furnished nearly to what he said it would be.

Needless to say, the experience was suboptimal. We never saw that deposit money again, and we later found out that our landlord was doing this to several other people who rented from him as well.

From now on, we’ll stay on Airbnb and pay a bit more to save money in the long run.

 

If You Go Off of Airbnb

With that said, I don’t expect that everyone will want to rent an apartment in a foreign country through Airbnb. Sometimes you’re short on money, staying long-term, or just want something a little bit nicer. While you can’t ever be sure of who you can trust in a foreign country, there are a few different things that you can do to minimize your risk.

1. Avoid Paying a Deposit at All Cost.

Although many apartment owners will say that they require you to pay a deposit on the apartment, there are also several owners who are desperate to rent their place out. Find them, and rent from them.

Our landlord promised us several times that he was going to return our deposit to us in cash. He even set up a day and time to meet with us to review the apartment. However, when that day came, he was nowhere to be found.

When it comes down to it, and your visa is about to run out, there’s essentially nothing you can do to recover your money when you rent an apartment in a foreign country if the landlord isn’t paying it out.

2. Research, Research, Research

Going back to our Colombia example, we thought that we were renting from a legitimate company from the United States. Only later on did I find the review on the Better Business Bureau website from a guy saying that our landlord had essentially stolen $23,000 from him.

What’s more is that, when I filed my own claim with the BBB, they emailed me back saying that the company couldn’t even be located in the United States. They lied to us (and on their Facebook page) about having a company in the US. We could have avoided falling for the scam if only we had done this research before we signed the lease.

Lesson learned.

3. Join Expat Groups

One of the best resources that we’ve found while traveling in the past year is the expat group. No matter where you’re traveling in the world, there are always several Facebook groups for expats in the city. Sometimes it’s classifieds, sometimes it’s apartments, and sometimes it’s just general discussion.

Once you find a group, you can ask people anything that you need to know about finding an apartment (what it should cost, the quality of the neighborhood, etc). People are generally very helpful in the groups, and someone can likely point you to a reputable company that doesn’t rip people off. Definitely seek them out and join a few before you rent an apartment in a foreign country.

 

Although we’ve had a few unfortunate experiences with our apartment rentals in the past year, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is out to rip you off. However, in foreign countries, it’s more common than you may think. Be wary of the landlords, no matter how legitimate they may seem at first. Do your research before you rent an apartment in a foreign country. As long as you do your due diligence and are as careful as possible, you’ll be fine.

Do you have any tips to add for renting apartments in a foreign country? Comment below!

 

by Aug 4, 2017

The Truth About Traveling Full Time

Life Style

 

The Truth About Traveling Full Time

I love reading a travel blog as much as the next guy, and scrolling through stunning travel Instagram feeds, but sometimes, it’s just too much. Everything is great out there in travel blogger land. Traveling full time is easy, money is plentiful, and worries are nowhere to be found. I know that’s part of the appeal, and what keeps us coming back to our favorite travel blogs. The inspiration for new destinations, sure, but also the escape from our own reality, with work, stress, and messy apartments.

I’m definitely guilty of this as well. When I write up a a review for a city I choose only my best snaps, edit them to perfection, and then conveniently omit the ugliest parts of my trip. I’ll tell you that I was robbed in Bogota, but not that I also burst into tears when it happened. I’ll definitely mention that our four days in Jardin were amazing, but I’ll probably leave out we were eating street food because we ran out of money, and not because we love fried empanadas and sketchy street meats.

Travel blogging is definitely a fine line between presenting reality, and also making it look more beautiful and just, better, than it actually is. SO. Here is my 100% honest article on anything I’ve omitted in the past in my posts. The harsh truth about traveling full time that no one ever shows…

 

 

I Have No Friends

Seriously. I think you probably take for granted just how often you meet up with your friends and how much time you spend with them. Every weekend, without fail, it’s just me and Daniel out to dinner, or for drinks, or at an event. Sure you can go to meet ups but lets be honest… small talk was invented by the devil, and you’re not going to become very close with someone in a month or two before you move on to the next city. No one can compare to the friends and family you grew up with, and traveling full time and going 10 months without hanging out with anyone except your husband can definitely get old (no matter how much you love each other).

 

I Have No Nice Things… Or Things At All

OMG like it’s sooo adventurous to sell everything you own and travel the world. Right? That’s what all the blogs tell me at least. I don’t own anything, and it’s not that great. Maybe, if I had had some stuff to sell before I left, it would have worked out a little better, but honestly owning nothing can get old fast. Just finding a book in English so I don’t have to spend another night staring at my laptop for entertainment can be a week long affair. Then, I have to finish it fast and find someone to give it away to, cause I don’t have room in my bag to take it on my next move.

Just having comfortable furniture would be so nice. Coming home and collapsing into my own couch or having a throw blanket to wrap up in is like my go to fantasy now. While traveling, my apartment rentals have to be furnished and let me tell you the pickings are slim. They’re always sparsely furnished with a crappy couch (if that) and a TV if I’m lucky. Right now, my apartment has the sketchiest electrical shower of all time and I’ve literally been showering with a bucket instead because I don’t want to die. Man. I just want to own some things. Any things would be nice.

 

 

Speaking Another Language Constantly Isn’t Fun

Ok, it was fun for a few days. But after that it’s just exhausting. Practicing what you’re going to say in your head before every order or interaction, and then still being stared at with a confused look because you totally butchered the accent is frustrating. Better hope you don’t need medicine or to see a doctor! Good luck looking up and preparing that speech for the pharmacist to figure out what you need. Museums and tours are pretty pointless too because I have no clue what’s written on all the signs or being said, rapidly, by my guide. My Spanish has improved immensely, which is great, but sometimes I really, really, just want to speak in English for a bit.

 

Vacations Become Work

This is honestly the worst part. I (obviously) love to travel and do it as often as I can. I love to see new things and try new foods. But when you have a travel blog the best part of traveling (being on vacation) gets taken away. It becomes work. I mean it’s an awesome job, but I can still recount many different times where Daniel was exasperated and rolling his eyes when I stopped him for “just one more picture.” Spoiler alert: it’s never just one more.

Even when I was able to stay in the sponsored luxury stays, I still had to spend the morning waiting for the clouds to clear or the light to be just right to snap a pic, rather than just lounging by the pool doing nothing which I really wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong, traveling full time is still amazing and I wouldn’t trade the amount I get to do for the world. All I’m saying is, a lot of my weekend trips are pretty different and definitely less relaxing than your annual vacation to an all inclusive resort.

 

 

I Can’t Protect Myself

So, our horrible landlord in Colombia stole $700 from us. In the United States, that’s annoying but not really a big deal. You can just file a suit in small claims court and spend an hour in front of a judge to get your money back. In a foreign country, that thought it laughable. No one cares, and no one is going to help us.

On top of that, it’s honestly my greatest irrational fear in life to be locked up abroad. Really, my word here and my rights are so much weaker than they are in the US as a United States citizen. I guess this problem is more of my own mental issue than anything else, but at least in the US if you get arrested you can post bail, have a fair trial, and won’t disappear without a trace. Here, I’m not so sure.

 

I Can’t Have Hobbies

Most hobbies require things, and I don’t have those. I like knitting, but I can’t find a yarn store here or figure out what I need in Spanish. I would love to have a small garden, but we’re constantly moving and living in apartments. I love to cook, and want to learn how to make Indian dishes, but there’s no way I’m investing in all those spices just to leave them behind when I go to the next country. Most of all, I want a doggo. So badly! The dog fever is real here in this household but it will remain uncured because we can’t afford the threat of vet bills or the cost to fly our furry pal along with us on our adventures. If your life includes traveling full time, it’s not going to include much else.

 

 

I Miss My Favorite Foods

You know how you go on vacation for a week, and it’s so fun to try all the new foods the country has to offer? Then 10 days in, you’re already ready to hit up a McDonald’s in the airport on the way home? Yeah, multiply that feeling by about 1,000. I miss American foods. And not just my favorite restaurants. I miss living in a country where groceries are so easily accessible. I’ve wanted tacos for months but I can’t find sour cream or shredded cheese here, and I don’t trust the ground beef in the market by my home. So, I guess it’ll be three more months before my craving is satisfied. In the US, you can pretty much eat any food at any time. I miss it. Tater tots, brats, corn chips that aren’t $8 a bag, craft beer, the list could go on.

 

There it is, the truth about traveling full time. I love what I do, I love seeing the world, and I love blogging about our adventures as I go. However, it’s not all fine and dandy on this side of the laptop, I promise. There are amazing aspects to buying a home, having a steady nine to five job, and living in your home country that I definitely miss out on every day! The grass is always greener right? I guess we just have to choose what makes us the happiest most of the time, and roll with the punches when we’re not. And if you’re reading this in the US, please go enjoy a Chipotle burrito for me. Mmm.

All my love,

Di

 

by Aug 3, 2017

What the Heck is LLaullifest?

Life Style


 

What the Heck is Llaullifest?

First of all, it’s pronounced “Jowjifest”. Second of all, you shouldn’t miss it if you’re in Cusco in the summer! Llaullifest is a small outdoor forest festival held in Llaullipata (Jowjipata), a large forest with hiking trails right outside of Cusco. Every year, a local outdoor company called The Backyard hosts the festival. We went this July and had an amazing time!

 

 

After walking from Plaza de Armas to Sacsayhuaman, we were dismayed to find we still had more to go and finally accepted defeat and hailed a cab. He took us to the entrance to Llaullipata and we walked the rest of the way to Llaullifest from there. Down a road, then a path, then through a forest trail lit with light bulbs. I was starting to wonder where the heck we were when we emerged into the clearing with the festival in full swing.

 

 

It really is a magical place. Upon arrival, we grabbed a free Candelaria pumpkin beer (yum!) and checked out the stalls. There was a food stand with hot dogs, sandwiches, and the usual festival fare. Another dessert booth with brownies and cake also caught our eye. The small food area also sold beer and Chilcano pisco drinks.

 

 

After we grabbed something to eat, we took a seat on the large cozy blankets and pillows strewn out across the clearing. From there, we watched people’s dogs run and play together (to be honest, this was probably my favorite part of Llaullifest. I NEED a dog!). There was also a jiu jitsu area and slack lining to try. The music was great and we spent the day just laying around in the shade and relaxing. A couple hours in, a group got together for a forest clean up walk. Awesome!

 

 

Daniel and I left Llaullifest and went for our own little exploration walk in the sun, and sat in a second clearing with an awesome view of Cusco. Finally, as it got dark, we bought some coffee and returned to the clearing to sit by the much needed bonfires they lit around the camp. It’s so strange to experience chilly fall weather, pumpkin beers, and bonfires in July, but it was an awesome and cozy ambiance.

 

 

At the end, The Backyard, the group that hosted Llaullifest, set up a projector and played a couple of their outdoor Peru movies for us to check out. Some were really well made, and I enjoyed seeing their rock climbing, surfing, and mountain biking exploits. I also enjoyed laying on my back next to the toasty fire, and admiring the view of the gorgeous star scape above us.

We left Llaullifest around 7p.m., but the party was still going strong until midnight. If you’re in Cusco in July, I strongly recommend getting out of the city and up in the the mountain forests for this small, but great, community forest festival. Don’t miss Llaullifest!

All my love,

Di

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by Aug 2, 2017

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