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Cities we visit, food we eat, and the fun things we do there. 

Filtering by Tag: roadtrip

6 States in 5 Days.

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

On the 4th of July weekend, my family and I decided to go visit Chicago. But not just Chicago, but also got to see Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, and Oklahoma. As I stated in the previous article, this was the longest roadtrip we've ever done so far. But we loved it!

Highlights of the trip:

Memphis :

  • Central BBQ - try the half and half slab (half wet rub half dry rub ribs)
  • The Pyramid (Bass Pro Shop) - there are a LOT of things to do and see in here including the restaurants, the observation deck, shops, and they also have a giant aquarium which kids absolutely love.

Chicago :

  • Navy Pier - this is the 'Times Square' of Chi-town, very touristy, but you gotta visit it at least once, ride the ferris wheel, and even have dinner on the cruise. It's so worth it! Beautiful scenery, gorgeous weather, don't bother eating on the food court, get some food somewhere else!
  • Uno's Pizza - again touristy, but you just gotta try the deep-dish pizza to cross it off your bucket list
  • Michigan Ave - a lot of fancy shops, kinda like 5th Avenue in NYC, very nice to stroll around
  • Riverwalk - GORGEOUS, oh gosh! So many rooftop restaurants here
  • Firecakes Donuts - try the donut ice cream sandwich!
  • Lincoln Park Zoo - it's FREE so why not? parking is $25 though
  • Chicago Cultural Center - it's also FREE and gorgeous! right across the Cloud Gate
  • The Bean/ Cloud Gate - touristy, but why not?
  • Andy's Thai Kitchen (ATK) - delicious Thai food! Try the Tom Kha
  • Floriole - try the ricotta toast, pastries, and coffee selections

Missouri :

  • Mango - A Peruvian restaurant in downtown St. Louis, the ceviche is bomb!
  • The Arch - take pictures!


We didn't get to stay in Arkansas and Oklahoma, but maybe next time :) Even though summer is not over yet, I feel like my 'vacay mode' is simmering down. Why? Because next week is August already! And that means School is starting very soon! I really hope we'll be ready by then.

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1st Roadtrip of 2015 : Awesome Austin

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Ah, the new year is here. The holidays are over. We are back to the 1st month of the year again, along with new sets of goals and expectation we (or maybe others) usually set for ourselves to be fulfilled in the next 11 months or so. For me, it's the time to improve. And it started with our very refreshing roadtrip to Austin on January 2.


I wrote in my 2015 time capsule (a piece of paper where we write our hopes and wishes for the upcoming year, put in a sealed envelope that is to be opened on thanksgiving day - we just started this tradition thanks to Gateway Church, pretty cool right?) that I am hoping to be a better companion and partner for my husband this year. I even specifically wrote that I wanted to learn to respect him more. However, when the picture above was taken at the 'Greetings from Austin' mural, I was doing completely the opposite.

We were having a huge fight over a misunderstanding caused by my false assumption. We were screaming, J was crying, it was a mess. But then Mr. Man reminded me to not give up on this commitment, and that we can work it out if we really want to try.

So we talked it over, I apologized, he apologized, we hugged, we laughed about it to the point where we realized that we needed to eat. So we went to this famous doughnut truck for a start.

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Having seen it on travel channel and all over the internet, we were blown away by the deliciously fat (yes the doughnuts are big and fat) 'Granny's Pie' (on the left in the picture below) and 'Flying Pig' (on the right in the picture below).


You can't really see the doughnuts cause they are buried somewhere beneath the toppings, but I can tell you that they are GOOD. Seriously. A must-eat when you are in Austin!

Now that the sugar has melted our emotions away, we were in desperate need of some savory delicacy that we immediately found in Elizabeth Street Cafe.


The $8 banh mi was delicious, the Cafe Du Monde-brand Vietnamese coffee was also good (as usual), the place was pretty, perfect for family brunch. Next stop, The Oasis!



Not impressed by the food at all, but the view was pretty awesome. I said pretty awesome, and not really awesome, because it was foggy outside. We couldn't see the lake at all, but I bet it looks beautiful in the summer. Oh well, at least we can cross this one off our list. And at least J had fun with his pal, Benjamin.


Before checking into our hotel, we decided to have some pork ribs at County Line BBQ on the Lake.


Wait till you see the view at the back of the restaurant.

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It was so nice to see hills, a river, a lake and those many trees for a change. Here in Dallas, it's all flat land filled mostly with buildings and cars (not that I'm complaining or anything, I still love the big D).


Yeah my little man loves his pork ribs. I had to bathe him afterwards because the sauce was all over his face and sweater.

With that big of a dinner (or actually, pre-dinner, we ended up eating pasta just 2 hours after), we expected something lighter and healthier for breakfast the next day. Well, since we're traveling with my 'hippie' friend, Karen, we went to the most awesome Wholefoods store I have ever been to.


It's huge with so many different options of food to eat! From pizza, pancakes, tacos, sushi, ramen to fresh-squeezed juice and smoothies! I had pecan pancakes (not a good choice, the texture was weird to me) Mr. Man had pizza topped with some Green Goddess juice. yumm...

Since it's our 1st visit to Austin, we figured that it's best for us to go to the touristy spots, just to, again, cross them off our list. So yes, the picture below was taken in front of the UT tower and a George Washington statue.

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Ah yes, the first group photo with the Martinez. I am so grateful for our friendship with this lovely family. Looking forward to growing together this year (and to visiting Mexico, weekend hangouts, roadtrips, etc of course).

Next stop, the Capitol building!

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Stunning isn't it?

Now the Martinez decided to leave earlier. But we were in no rush. So what did we do? We ate some more good food of course!




You can find just about any food on trucks in Austin, from raviolis, shoarma, frozen hot chocolate (a.k.a iced chocolate). tacos, to thai and indian food. Make sure to check out this list here before you visit the 'weird' capitol of Texas (the motto of the city is literally, "Keep Austin Weird", probably because it is the most un-texan city in Texas - with its nature, arts, and hippie culture and all - I'm not sure).

And for nerds or history-fans like Mr. Man and I, make sure to download the Historic Austin Tours app right here. It's pretty cool, pointing us to the direction of old historic buildings around downtown Austin. Like the Driskill Hotel in the picture below.

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We had some coffee and banana split at the 1886 Driskill Cafe & Bakery, did number 2 (seriously, this is crucial, especially when you're about to go on a 3.5-hour drive), took some pictures and said goodbye to this delightful city.

Short. Refreshing. Inspiring. and Filling - just how a roadtrip should be.

Now bring it on, 2015. We're ready for you.