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Barbados Bound 2014

Hello, friends!

I have an amazing announcement that I would like to share with all of you! I’ve been selected as a finalist in Atlantic Impact’s 2014 Blogger Challenge! For those of you who have been around me for longer than three minutes, know that I’ve been obsessed with both domestic and international travel. However, my bank account has always had other plans. As in, a Redbox movie and small cup of popcorn counts as a splurge.

Nonetheless, my lack of monetary wealth and desire to travel is nothing new. In the past, Atlantic Impact has selected veteran travelers. I on the other hand, don’t have a passport, have never been to New York City and have only flown on a plane twice in my 25 years of life. I’ve always wanted to travel because I believe that traveling the world is a way to collapse both the physical and mental barriers we place on ourselves. Traveling makes you realize that no person, country or culture is the same. That we are all made better people by exploring the things that we have in common than recognizing the trivial things that set us apart.

In order to stop myself from writing a “Dear Diary” entry for you, a brief (yet detail filled) overview of the challenge and what I need from all of you.

 

#BloggerChallenge

Atlantic Impact will send two bloggers to Barbados (all expenses paid) to accompany a group of at-risk youth who strive to better understand the state of their communities, which includes community exploration and international travel. The youth in Atlantic Impact never believed they would have the chance to travel abroad. The organization provides them with the avenue to think bigger, think better, and explore the world around them.

I have until June 9th to raise as much money as I possibly can on behalf of Atlantic Impact to get me and my bags to Barbados!!!  As a friend, I politely ask all of you to share my story and of course donate $15 to my fundraiser and Atlantic Impact. I know the struggle is real and would graciously accept any dollar amount that you can spare. My fundraiser account can be on Crowdrise. Here is the link: https://www.crowdrise.com/BarbadosBound2014/fundraiser/jnchang

Thank you, friends for reading my spiel and understanding my interest in participating in this blogger challenge. Cheers! *clinks glasses* Here’s to making me #BarbadosBound this August!

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Photographers WANTED!

Photo (5)

Rookie Rundown is in desperate need of brilliant travel photographers! Beginning in April, Rookie Rundown will launch its new Travel Photos of the Month series.

Photos of the Month will feature photos of gorgeous vacation destinations from all over the world. As a rookie, my bank account won’t allow me to travel the world….yet. Thus, I’m asking for your help. Until, I can travel the world first hand, I would love to see the places you all have visited.

Photos do not need to be of exotic locations. They need only be interesting and aesthetically stunning. Submissions will be accepted by both professional and amateur photographers.

To submit your photo, email it to rookierundown@gmail.com with TRAVEL PHOTOS OF THE MONTH ENTRY as the subject line. With your entry, please include your name and website (if applicable) along with as much info as you can give about where and when the photo was taken.

Questions can be submitted to rookierundown@gmail.com. Don’t forget to connect with me on twitter, @jnchang.

Sincerely,

-Rookie Specialist

NEW ORLEANS

New Orleans Post Card

February 2014

Need to get out of the Houston city limits for a weekend? You’ve come to the right place! Last weekend, I talked three of my friends into taking a trip with me to New Orleans. For those of you going stir crazy thanks to non-stop construction, traffic and the influx of early tourist for the rodeo, I suggest you get in the car immediately and head east on I-10.

Below is a brief list of the things/places I would suggest on your next trip to NOLA.

Irene’s Cuisine
539 St Philip St, New Orleans, LA 70116

MAKE A RESERVATION. I repeat, MAKE A RESERVATION!! My friends and I called to make one, but they were no longer taking reservations for the night. Our party of four arrived at 7:30pm and were quoted an hour wait . We ended up waiting over two hours for a table. Did I mention you should MAKE A RESERVATION? I swear they only sat our party because I tired of waiting and brought up the topic of leaving very loudly. The food was good, but not worth a 2 hour wait. Although, I don’t think any food would be worth a two hour wait. They had a great, but selective menu. Dessert was great! Had I known they’re dessert was so good , I wouldn’t of waited two hours for a table, I would’ve just order dessert to-go and ate it on my way to Bourbon Street.

The Ruby Slipper Café
200 Magazine Street. New Orleans, LA 70130 

Bananas Fosters French Toast at The Ruby Slipper.
Bananas Fosters French Toast at The Ruby Slipper.

This was a lucky find by my friends and I. Our hotel room was literally across the street and our bathroom window over looked the café. On Saturday morning, we heard a lot of commotion downstairs and had no idea why people were gathered downstairs below our window. On our way out, we noticed their menu posted out front (great marketing idea). I laid my eyes on the Bananas Fosters French Toast and my stomach never looked back. The wait for a table was only 30 minutes despite the large crowd already gathered outside. The waiting list moved quickly, they called names off the least at least every five minutes. I had coffee and the Bananas Fosters French Toast (pictured right) all for $11.00. One small side note, I liked how they asked everyone to wait outside as to not crowd the entrance of the café. I appreciate not having eyeballs staring me down for my table. Plus, it was a nice day outside, so I didn’t mind the fresh air.

Royal House Oyster Bar
441 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

I’m not a huge fan of oysters, but you don’t have to be to have a great meal at this place (despite the name). Due to our previous experience at Irene’s, my friends and I arrived at 6:30ish. Despite the crowd out front, there was no wait at the door. Check. They also served Blue Moon (fellow Texans will understand). Check. We had the Garlic Butter Crab Claws as an appetizer. It certainly shut up this seafood critic. Dinner and dessert was amazing check check check. A major plus for this restaurant was that they let you carry your own drinks inside the restaurant. A woman even walked in with her hurricane. On top of a great meal, we had exceptional service from our server and the management staff. The Manager-On-Duty even stopped by the table to see how we were doing. I would definitely recommend this place to a friend.

Bourbon Street
Do go to Bourbon Street, but don’t go out past 2am on a Saturday, according to a friendly gift store clerk. Bourbon Street is the 6th Street of New Orleans. Ever visit to New Orleans must include a trip to Bourbon Street. We went to Pat O Brien’s, Gold Mine, a decent after-hours place for hip-hop music and dancing. There was a cover charge of $5 at Gold Mine.Which isn’t too bad from my past experiences. I did wish I visited Saints and Sinners owned by the one and only Channing Tatum. The website made it look upscale and fancy. However, when I walked by it, it looked like your common 6th Street bar in Austin. There were couches outside featuring two half-naked girls dancing around them. I would’ve liked to see the inside though. Next time.

Frenchman Street
This is the part of town where the locals go to get away from the tourist ravaging Bourbon Street. The vibe on Frenchman Street was very different from Bourbon. I could tell there were a few business professionals unwinding there after a long work week. Frenchman is a great if you’re looking for a live jazz band. We initially wanted to go to Blue Nile, but they were charging a $10 cover. Luckily, there was a place next door that did not charge a cover. I enjoyed it there. People watching here was amazing! Even if you hate jazz, it’ll be worth the music to do some people watching, hours of amusement there.

View of the Mississippi River during lunch.
View of the Mississippi River during lunch.

Manny Randazzo King Cakes
3515 N Hullen St, Metairie, LA 70002

This is the place to go if you want the best king cake in the state of New Orleans. Everyone else is merely an imitation, seriously. When we arrived at around 11am, the line was already out the door. So if you want a Pecan Praline filled King Cake (like I did) you need to be there at 8am when they open (not kidding). They were already out of Pecan Praline when we arrived so I go the apple filled king cake and I was not disappointed. Manny Randazzo is located outside of New Orleans in Metairie. It was about a 15 minute drive from our hotel in downtown New Orleans. Worth the drive and worth the small wait.

Café Du Monde
800 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116

Go. Trust me. Just go. Coffee and Beignets. Plus, our waiter gave us the hats. Love them to death.

Thank you, New Orleans. You were a gracious host.

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