Thursday, April 17, 2014

PHOTOS: Scenes From The 2014 French Quarter Festival...

The New Orleans French Quarter Festival celebrated its 31st year this year with the first French Quarter Fest happening in 1984 as a way to bring residents back to the Quarter following The World's Fair (we were there!!!) The French Quarter Festival has the distinction of being the largest FREE music festival in the South and the festival has consistently been voted "favorite festival", "favorite food festival" and "favorite event open to the public" by locals.

This was our third year attending and we have an absolute blast every time we go. The food, the people, the music, the charm of The French Quarter, especially when the weather's gorgeous, just being in the midst of that type of "festive feel good" is tough to beat. This year we got to see The Mercy Brothers, The Bucktown All Stars, who, by the way, were serving up some classic Motown REALNESS! We also got to experience The Orleans Brass Band and The Hot 8 in addition to a bit of Cajun Zydeco and traditional jazz. And the food, there's SO much to choose from, but we ended up going for this, this and this, with THIS thrown in a couple times for good measure ;) YUM. ALL of it. If you don't come away from this festival wanting to LIVE OUT THE REST OF YOUR DAYS IN THE FRENCH QUARTER FOREVER, then you're not doing it right... Check out a few more scenes from the 2014 French Quarter Festival below and mark your calendars now for the festival next year, 
April 9-12, 2015! 

Special shout out to photographers Ken McMillian and Ron Ward for these beautiful 2014 French Quarter Festival photos.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

NEW ORLEANS: Jazz in the Park Season 5! And it's FREE!

Jazz in the Park is presented by People United for Armstrong Park 
 April 17-June 5 | Louis Armstrong Park | 4-8pm | 901 N Rampart Street NOLA 70116
and it's FREEEE!!!



April 17th Glen David Andrews | Fifth Ward Weebie | Landry-Walker Marching Band 
April 24th Kermit Ruffins | Big Freedia 
May 1st Christian Scott | Special Guests 
May 8th Rockin Dopsie | James Andrews 
May 15th Soul Rebels | Tank and the Bangas 
May 22nd Bonerama | N’awlins Johnnys 
May 29th To Be Continued Brass Band & Daria | Daria & the Hip Drops 
June 5th Wild Magnolias | The Original Pinettes Brass Band

Friday, March 14, 2014

ROAD TRIPPING: 7 Iconic Road Trips to take in 2014 [LINK]

From the famed Route 66 to the Blue Ridge Parkway, click the pic above to find out about some of the most iconic road trips, then make plans to hit the road this year!

Friday, April 19, 2013

SLIDESHOW: 2013 French Quarter Festival..

*Scroll down for the French Quarter Fest slideshow*

The French Quarter Festival is always a good time. Showcasing New Orleans Culture and Heritage since 1984, the French Quarter Festival has grown to become the largest free music festival in the South with 21 music stages and 250 musical acts throughout the Quarter representing music from just about every genre (R&B, folk, jazz, gospel, brass bands, funk, there's even a music stage for kids!) Most streets in the French Quarter are closed off for festival goers to ensure a safe and enjoyable time and very few events in the city are afforded such a traffic closure. Add to that great New Orleans food from 90+ vendors and great weather, why wouldn't you get out and enjoy yourself? 

We attended the 2013 festival on Friday April 12, to near perfect weather. I can't express in words how enjoyable the city of New Orleans is when the weather's mild and pretty, it's indescribable really. We downloaded and used the FREE French Quarter Festival App to figure out where we wanted to go and who we wanted to see. We confined ourselves to the festivities in and around Woldenburg Riverfront Park and Decatur Street and captured the sights and sounds (and eats!) while we were there. From Big Chief Bo Dollis, Jr. and the Wild Magnolia's featuring Mardi Gras Indians on the Abita Beer Stage, to the New Orleans Night Crawlers and Stooges Brass Band on the Capital One Riverside Legacy Stage to Gina Brown and Anutha Level on the Absolut Louis Pavillion Stage to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band on the Chevron Cajun Zydeco Showcase Stage to random Brass Bands getting in wherever they fit in (until the NOPD shuts them down for playing without a festival permit... boo). We topped all of that off with the Soul Rebels at the Blue Nile (missed their performance at the festival the day before) we experienced a cornucopia of great music and food in a single afternoon and evening. So if you ever need a reason to get out to New Orleans for a springtime weekend getaway, trust, the French Quarter Festival is all the reason you'll need :)

Ron Ward, Photographer, Music "504" by the Soul Rebels

Friday, November 9, 2012

PHOTOS! Fun Fun Fun in Austin...

Austin, Texas is a pretty cool town, a little weird, but still mad cool. This was our 2nd trip there and we got a more authentic sense of the city this go round. We were in Austin (the self proclaimed live music capital of the world) for Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012 to see Run DMC live! on the (orange) Stage. We shopped, we walked, we heard music we love, we ate, we people watched, we photographed... while people watching and we really enjoyed the super chill, hipster neighborhood that is Austin. Below is a tiny pictorial glimpse of our weekend using my trusty iPhone camera along with the photographer's camera while we were in Austin... [all photos taken by ©Ron Ward unless otherwise noted]
Riding around Austin in my Goorin Brothers newsboy that I'm in LOVE with..
Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012. We were there!
Our stay was nice. This place was urban chic done well. We booked last minute using Hotel Tonight. Click the pic for more pics of this place...
We passed a courtyard wedding on our way to the festival at Auditorium Shores and couldn't help but snap a pic...
The sea of music lovers at Fun Fun Fun Fest.  [taken with my iPhone]
The festival really encouraged alternate forms of transportation to the venue. Bikes (and pedi-cabs!) way outnumbered motor vehicles.. [taken with my iPhone]
This was just before Run DMC came on. They sounded exactly like they did in the 80's, they covered It's Tricky, Sucker MC's, Mary Mary, Walk This Way, Peter Piper, My Adidas, 30 Days, Krush Groove Part 2, Rock Box, Beats to the Rhyme plus more and Jam Master Jay's two sons did a DJ set. [pic taken with my iPhone]
The sea of people (after the lights went up) still hanging around after Run DMC's set, we left the festival shortly after to explore Austin nightlife... [pic taken with my iPhone]

The pedi-cab! A great way to see Downtown Austin and a great job if you want to lose a few lbs.
Night time pedi-cab..
Austin Street Food

We actually ate at Frank for lunch the following day, but we parked there during the festival all weekend. 
In the parking lot at Frank... and I promise you I wasn't tired because it was after 10pm. Well.. maybe a little, lol.

Chocolate Whisky Butter Bread Pudding. YUM. We indulged in this (with coffee!) after our hot dog's at Frank's. Taken with my iPhone.
Men in short shorts! Don't act like you don't know. What kicks these guys were for the cameras. Gotta love Downtown Austin

We had a nice last night in Austin at La Condesa. Other Austin hotspots we hit up while we were there? Annie's Cafe, Joe's Bakery and The Elephant Room which was a super cool spot for late night jazz. 
Cheers to a great trip to Austin! [pic taken with my iPhone at La Condesa]

Monday, September 10, 2012

Secrets on How to Travel Fashionably [LINKS]

Click the pic above for more links to tips from Designers and Magazine Editors on how to travel Fashionably...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Amtrak Train Travel Reaches Record Levels...

People are so frustrated with the airlines these days, MYSELF INCLUDED (with their bag fees, delays, horrible customer service, I'll just stop there) that this news is not hard to believe at all.

A decade ago, Delta and US Airways shuttles were the preferred mode of travel between the cities. But high fares, slow airport security and frequent flight delays — along with Amtrak’s high-speed Acela trains, online ticketing and workstation amenities — have eaten away at the airlines’ share of passengers. 

 Between New York and Washington, Amtrak said, 75 percent of travelers go by train, a huge share that has been building steadily since the Acela was introduced in 2000 and airport security was tightened after 2001. Before that, Amtrak had just over a third of the business between New York and Washington. 

In the same period, Amtrak said, its market share between New York and Boston grew to 54 percent from 20 percent. Nationally, Amtrak ridership is at a record 30 million people; the Northeast accounts for more than a third of that and is virtually the only portion of Amtrak’s system that makes money.

Continue reading this story HERE.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

WATCH: Eurolapse. Time Lapse Video Captured From European Summer Traveling

Fabulous. Watch three summer months traveling across Europe, as captured by David Smith above.

Related Stories:
Dream Travel Can Seem Like a Dream To Do... Until You Do It.

Sears is Now Offering Vacations on Layaway.

Click the pic above to go to Sears Vacations
Via CNNMoney: Sears launched last week, a full-service travel web site that allows customers to put everything from cruises to the Bahamas to golf trips in Hawaii on layaway. Through the SearsVacations' layaway plan, customers put down at least 10% for a cruise or a vacation package and pay off the rest in self-determined increments that must be paid in full before the trip. Continue reading about this new development HERE.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Stay at the Hotel Le Marais: A French Quarter Boutique Hotel

We stayed at the Hotel Le Marais in the French Quarter recently (booked via my awesome iPhone app Hotel Tonight) and we left impressed. It's very unassuming from the outside, but don't let that throw you. This is a new boutique hotel in the heart of the French Quarter (less than 2 years old at the time we stayed there) and the best way for me to describe this hotel is "minimal chic" We were so excited about the contemporary look and feel of this property, that we didn't even realize that we had two free drinks on the house for being first time guests (grrrrr) But even though we stayed only one night (BUMMER) we had a great stay here. The staff was accommodating, the pool area was fab and the location (if you're itching to be inches away from the French Quarter) was amazing. Click HERE to see more pretty pics of this property, and book your stay today!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

No Partying While Black at the Fountainebleu Miami Hotel.

If these allegations are true, this is completely unacceptable in 2012. That being said, Hip Trip Advisor is only here to inform, so watch below, and judge for yourself.
 I've seen enough and removed myself from their email list.

Fountainebleu Miami Beach
[Story source]

Monday, April 16, 2012

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2012!

The 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is 
April 27 - May 6, 2012

Click HERE to buy tickets for the 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Need a ROOM for Jazz Fest? Click HERE.

Lauryn Hill at the 2011 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The 2012 French Quarter Festival Kicks Off April 12-15!

*UPDATE* Watch a short clip from The Soul Rebels taking the Capital One Stage at the 2012 French Quarter Festival HERE

Ron and I attended the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans last year for the first time, and we had the best time! The weather was glorious, the food we ate at the festival was OMG! We ate SO much good food... mmmm. And the music! Kermit Ruffins to Rebirth Brass Band to the Soul Rebels and everything in between will hit the stage that weekend. And it's kid friendly! AND there's an iPhone French Quarter Festival App! Now if none of that music and food makes you wanna get yourself out there this weekend (did I mention PRETTY WEATHER is forecast all weekend long too?), I don't know what else to tell you... 
Festival season is in full swing in Louisiana ya'll! So get out there and enjoy :)

Scenes from the 2011 French Quarter Festival - WATCH

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

There's Lots To Do in Kentucky!

Visit Kentucky!
On our recent trip to Louisville, Kentucky (pronounced "Looavul, Luhvul, Loueville, Looaville or Looeyville we learned) I have to be honest, our expectations weren't that high, but wow, were we proved wrong fast! Follow along below won't you? While we recount for you our Kentucky experience...

Our Accommodations
The Galt House Hotel
The website says that the rooms in the Suite Tower are "bigger than your first apartment" and I promise you, I made almost the exact same comment when we unlocked the door to our room. The rooms are beyond spacious, with it's living room area, small kitchenette area, coat closet, hallway, vanity area, large bathroom, and finally the very large bedroom. You could literally invite a group of people over and not feel cramped in these rooms. This hotel celebrates their 40th Anniversary in 2012 and is one of the premier places to stay if you're in town for the Kentucky Derby. The food and the view from Rivue on the 25th floor of The Galt House is also not to be missed.

The Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs
I think it goes without saying how huge an event the Kentucky Derby is in Kentucky. But just in case you didn't get it, it's HUGE. In 2012 the Derby (what the locals call it) will be held on May 5 and this event draws approximately 150,000 people every year. Experience The Derby without breaking the bank for $40 (standing room). Gates open at 8:00am and the first race is at 11:00am. There are twelve races that will be televised live on NBC. We had a chance to visit Churchill Downs (we had yum Mint Juleps!) and it is as grande as you would imagine.

Kentucky Bourbon
One of the many things Kentucky is very proud of is its Bourbon. I mean, Kentucky is "Bourbon Country" as Bourbon originated in the state of Kentucky and 95% of it is produced there. There are distilleries open for tours year round to take a closer look on how it's produced. While we were there we were able to taste the "Old Fashioned" (a little intense for my tastes) Bourbon Balls, and a champagne spritzer made with Kentucky Bourbon, but my favorite tasting had to be the Evan Williams Honey Reserve. Smooth.
Check out the Kentucky Bourbon Trail HERE.

Kentucky Food
The "Not Brown" Fried Green Tomatoes, Shrimp, Crab,
Bacon, Spinach,  Mornay by Chef John Castro
We tasted everything from Benedictine (a cucumber and cream cheese condiment) to Mint Juleps to Derby Pie. We even experienced three local Louisville Chefs after a live food tv taping at Sullivan University, Chef Anthony Lamas - Seviche, Chef John Castro - Winston's Restaurant and Chef Josh Moore - Volare Restaurant. That entire experience was delicious.
Mint Juleps!
Kentucky Adventure
Louisville Mega Cavern Zip Lines are the world's first and only underground zipline adventure tour. We did this and it was awesome. Cool temperatures (you're underground!), five zip lines, three challenge bridges and two hours later, we left wanting more. I can definitely see how adrenaline activities can be addicting.

Other Must See Louisville Attractions...
The Muhammad Ali Center. It's so well done and such a beautiful interactive tribute to him, his accomplishments and his life, (you can even sit and watch some of his fights in their entirety) whether you're a fan or not, you're not going to want to miss a center that won "Best Cultural Attraction in the State of Kentucky" in 2011 when you visit.

"I have dreamed all my life of creating a place to share, teach, and
inspire people to be their best and pursue their dreams." -Muhammad Ali
The Kentucky Show! It was here that we learned about Kentucky's bustling, "Soho" like arts culture. Who knew?

The Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Mint Julep Tours, whether you want a city tour, Bourbon trail or a horse country tour, Mint Julep Tours can take care of you.

And there's so much more to do in Louisville Kentucky that I didn't name here in this post. I said when we were leaving that I'd love to go back and visit again with my family. To Kentucky. Who knew? :)