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Highlight Travel Guide: Machu Picchu

1 Jun

Machu Picchu Peru in CloudsBefore our trip, everyone asked, “Why Peru?” The easy answer: Machu Picchu. And while that wasn’t our whole answer from the time we set out, it’s a good place to start the story of our maiden voyage to South America.

Friday morning, the day before we left Peru, we set out on one of the most anticipated parts of our adventure: we boarded the Belmond Hiram Bingham train and headed for the world wonder. Belmond HIram Bingham Train Machu Picchu Peruvian Dancer

Since we went to Peru in April, during rainy season when no trains run from Cusco to Machu Picchu, we took the Bi-Modal Hiram Bingham service to Aguas Calientes. From our hotel, we headed to Poroy station, where we were greeted by traditional Incan dancers in colorful costume and loaded into a van while being serenaded by very ceremonious live music.

Hiram Bingham Train to Machu PicchuAt the Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado, we transferred to the luxury train. I could not have anticipated what I was about to experience. While their website details live music in the observation car, Pisco Sours in the lounge car, and full lunch in the dining car, those strings of words don’t capture how appropriately grand Belmond makes the journey to the fabled ruins.

Belmond Hiram Bingham Train Machu Picchu Bar Car

No detail was unattended. The first course of lunch included smoked Andean trout and cornbread baked in a husk made from Peruvian corn. Before disembarking, we were given water for the trek. The bus ride up the mountain, admission tickets for the citadel, and an English speaking guide was included in our fare. We stamped our passports and it was official: we made it to Machu Picchu!

Machu_Picchu_PeruI won’t attempt to recite the theories our guide told us about why Machu Picchu exists. I’m not writing this as a history lesson, but in hopes this post inspires or emboldens you to go, and helps you plan your travel.Machu Picchu Peru CloudyI would strongly suggest if you visit Machu Picchu, hire a guide. Our guide did a great job and explaining the significance of what we were looking at when we walked through the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Condor or passed the Intiwatana Stone. I was so impressed to learn the details of the thoughtful construction that I would never have picked up on wandering on my own.

Machu Picchu PeruMachu Picchu Peru in the CloudsTo punctuate our time at Machu Picchu, we enjoyed a very hearty afternoon tea at Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel at the entrance of Machu Picchu (also included in our fare). We wound back down the mountain on a bus and perused the market before boarding or train back toward Cusco. To save on costs without sacrificing experience, we took the Vistadome for our return journey. Our arrival at Ollantaytambo truly added adventure to our trip (more on that here), but I wouldn’t trade the story for a taxi driver with my name on his sign. ____________________________________________________________________________

Knowing what I know now, I would probably stay overnight in Aguas Calientes, go back to Machu Picchu for a morning hike up Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu Mountain, or to Sun Gate, and then return to Cusco. If you do that, keep in mind the trains only allow a small bag, so pack just enough for an overnight trip, leaving the rest of your luggage at your hotel (or a hostel) back in Cusco.

More from my trip to Peru including highlights from Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Lima coming soon.

Have any specific questions about our experience in Machu Picchu or on the Belmond Hiram Bingham? Fire away in the comment section below. Have stories from your own trip to Peru? Do share!

Paradise Found: Kona, Hilo, and Waikiki

26 Jul

I have experienced something magnificent and unique in every place I have ever visited. Throughout my most recent trip, spare maybe the Grand Canyon, I was more moved by nature than I have ever been. For my mom’s fiftieth birthday, my family traveled to the big island (Hawai’i Five-O, get it?).  Where else can you experience the power of the ocean, witness glowing red molten rock sputter out of a crater and be humbled by astronomy?

If you find yourself heading to Oahu or the Big Island, I’ll breeze over some favorites, hoping you find my experiences useful. If you’re not going anywhere for awhile, I hope the pictures provide a quick escape or motivation to start planning your next getaway.

After spending an afternoon at Punalu’u Black Sands Beach, we grabbed lunch at the  Ohelo Cafe on the way to Vocanoes National Park. If you’re short on time, walk through the Thurston Lava Tube and stop at the Jagger Museum overlook where we saw lava sputtering out of Kīlauea crater.

Punaluu Black Sands Beach HawaiiPalm Trees at Punaluu Black Sand Beach Hawaii Big Island

We rounded out the day with a guided night snorkel with manta rays. I hope to add photos of the dive to this post soon, but I used a waterproof disposable film camera, so they are currently being developed. I feel like I time travelled a decade just typing that.

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Magical Places in London

7 Jul

November 2015. Paris is heinously attacked. The U.S. Department of State issues a travel alert for Americans travelling to Europe. We have flights and train tickets and hotel rooms booked to visit five cities with plans to do precisely what the government was advising us to avoid.

Concerned, Anthony and I discuss cancelling the trip we had long been anticipating. We were nervous (and so were our parents). I read horror stories of not being able to cross borders at specific locations we planned on using. The government advised against visiting open air markets; the main reason we chose the cities we did at Christmastime. What if we got stuck in one country or another? Or worse, what if the attacks earlier in the month were just the beginning of the terror?

I definitely did not throw caution to the wind. We enrolled in STEP. I sent my itinerary including hotel contact information to my dad. I printed out multiple copies of the address and phone number for the nearest consulate and/or embassy for each city we were visiting.

If you haven’t already guessed, we went. I was constantly alert and surveying my surroundings, as if I were walking to my car alone at night, but eventually my nerves settled and the trip quickly became one that had the je ne sais quoi of “the trip of a lifetime.”

London was the first of the five cities we visited. It was not originally on the itinerary, but we had to fly through Heathrow and opted to book an overnight layover. I had been once before, but Anthony had never. We arrived with just under 24 hours to cram in the sites he couldn’t miss and a few new experiences for me.

I am sure I have said it before: I almost never choose going to a place I have been over visiting somewhere new. However, there is something magical about return travel. It is like a strange memory game, flipping over cards you know you have seen before, remembering some precisely, and getting others entirely wrong.  It is also curious to see what has changed and what has remained exactly the same, or maybe even how you have changed since you last stood in the same place.

When booking our hotel, I felt compelled to stay at the place I stayed at with my British Literature class in college: The London Guards Hotel. Only, the very plain but conveniently located London Guards Hotel had turned into the very stylish, but reasonably priced Arbor Hyde Park. I couldn’t have hunted down more ideal accommodations: a well designed, central location with easy tube access and relatively inexpensive rates.

After dropping our bags, we headed out to Sketch for lunch. It was on my shortlist. Sketch is Wonderland: I cannot think of another place as full of whimsy. I could feel my imagination expanding as I walked in through the black curtained hopscotch path.

I ordered the souffle and giggled at the phone number seemingly scrawled on my napkin.

Sketch has different dining rooms serving different menus, open at different hours. Peer in all of them and find an excuse to use both restrooms.

Sketch London

Sketch London Pink Dining Room India Mahdavi Interior Design

Sketch London Dining Room

After quieting our gurgling stomachs, we hopped around to a few of the typical sites. If you have not been to London and have only a short time, you cannot miss Buckingham Palace, the House of Parliament/Big Ben, Westminster Abbey where royalty is married and crowned and where many greats are buried, and Tower Bridge which many mistake for London Bridge. Anthony also checked fish and chips off the proverbial list.

Buckingham Palace LondonBuckingham Palace Gates LondonRed Telephone Booth LondonWestminster Abbey LondonWestminster Abbey Courtyard Stained Glass London

A proper high tea was another “must” for me. Anthony obliged my desire to splurge on the Berkeley’s Fashion Tea in the Caramel Room which we reserved well in advance (bookings available 90 days out). These were moments of very meticulous magic. By our 5 o’clock tea time, I was bone-tired. And yet, we stayed up until the morning hours, returning to our hotel with just a few hours to shut our eyes before catching our flight to Salzburg.

Best Tea in London Berkeley

After the surprisingly hardy tea sandwiches, scones, and savory bites, we nibbled on a couple of the stunning sweet treats and they boxed up the remainders in a darling neon purse-shaped box. I should also mention they had my name on a shoe-shaped place card when we were seated. The details were delightful!

Fashion Tea at The Berkeley

Fashion Tea at The Berkeley London

Harrods was a short walk from the Berkeley, so, silly me, I thought we could just pop in.

Harrods London at Night at Christmas

We sampled Charbonnel et Walker chocolates at the counter and ogled at the variety before settling on champagne truffles in a Union Jack box.

Charbannel et Walker Harrods London

I wish I would have captured better photos and videos of the animated window displays: teddy bears popping a holiday cracker to reveal Louboutin shoes, a strong man pressing purses, and background singers dancing in flapper dresses.

The last stop before our late night nap was for a night cap at Savoy Hotel’s Beaufort Bar. We ordered cocktails from their pop-up menu (request if not offered). Jetlagged, we sat in one of the gilded alcoves, relaxed a bit, and relished in the fact that we chose a daring adventure over nothing at all.

On my next trip to London, I refuse to miss Selfridges, Fortnum and Mason,  Victoria and Albert Museum, and Bob Bob Ricard. To see other places I’ve been or want to go in London, check out my custom map.

 

 

 

 

Highlight Travel Guide: Seattle, Washington

19 May

Seattle surprised me. For a city so full of culture, delicious food, fantastic museums, interesting architecture, and rich history, it was easily explored over a long weekend that felt laid-back and entirely unpretentious.

Seattle also shocked me. It was not all pretty pictures. Even coming from Austin, I was taken aback by the extent of their very apparent housing issues.

Travel has a wonderful way of opening our eyes a little bit wider.

IMG_3999.JPG

Pike Place Market Seattle Washington

No exaggeration, I have had some of the best, most memorable food in all my travels at Pike Place Market. We sampled many places, but if you’re looking for the short list of unmissables, I would send you to Ellenno’s Greek YogurtPike Place Chowder, and Piroshky, Piroshky. I cannot stress how good Ellenno’s yogurt and Pike Place Chowder are. I swear I would choose that yogurt above ice cream any given day. We ordered a sampler of chowder, and were not disappointed with a single variety. At Piroshky, Piroshky, go for a beef and cheese, the perfect, warm breakfast (or snack) on a drizzly day.

Piroshky Piroshky Pike Place Market Seattle Washington

While you’re at the market, take a moment to watch them throw fish at Pike Place Fish Market…

Fresh Fish Pike Place Market Seattle WA

…and pick up a flower (or a bouquet of flowers) at one of the stalls.

Pike Place Market Flowers Seattle

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Highlights of Savannah, Georgia

12 Apr

You can say Savannah had me at hello. I feel like every experience I had during my day trip from Charleston last summer was a touch of magic. Savannah filled me with wonder.

Our first stop was SCAD Museum of Art and I was sold. The words that come to mind are multisensory. Rashaad Newsome’s exhibit was auditory while visual while Ling Hongbo’s was visual and tactile. SCAD Museum of Art Colorful Rainbow Paper Guns and Bullets Exhibit

Looking to support some SCAD students? Shop SCAD is a cute boutique with student-filled works.

I am not exaggerating when I say that Chocolate by Adam Turoni is one of my favorite shops in the world.  Each shop is like a room in a fantastical house, the first I visited was a library, a chocolate library. Imagine: glass enclosed bookcases full of chocolate. The staff hands you trays reminiscent of old card catalog drawers. Each truffle or bar variety is labeled, in typewritten font, on library cards.  After visiting the first shop, I knew I had to also visit their second location.The second shop I visited was a dining room, that made you feel as if you had been personally invited to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. The chocolates themselves are no less whimsical. From a George Milies Trip To The Moon chocolate to a made to order creme brulee truffle, each piece is a handmade delight.

Adam Turoni Dining Room

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Highlight Travel Guide: Charleston, South Carolina

21 Jan

Charleston didn’t take hold of me quite the way I expected. Maybe it was the pouring rain and the late bus from the airport to the city, or dragging my suitcase down narrow, crowded, cobblestone sidewalks. Maybe it was the miserable humidity. Maybe it was because I had heard so many tales of people swooning over the city and my expectations were high. Maybe it had something to do with its ties to ugly parts of American history.

Row Houses Charleston.jpg

Or maybe, possibly, it was because I had to submit to the (s)Low Country pace of the city before I could really enjoy it. Sure, I live in Texas, but Charleston was my first visit to the deep South. It has a flavor all its own, and I had to get to know it, before I could love it.

Charleston City Market

Our time in Charleston consisted of lots of long strolls, a fair amount of history, and more than enough food.

Starting with food recommendations, I’ll spare you my criticisms of our first several meals, and instead reaffirm the idea that Charleston is a city full of great food. I think we were eating breakfast at Hominy Grill when Anthony and I had the realization that we had much better luck with Low Country cuisine in Charleston than when we tried to be fancy. You can’t get too much better than the Charleston Nasty Biscuit.

 

Husk started off with a bang. I fell in love with pimento cheese in Charleston, and Husk served simply the best. The rest of our lunch there kind of fizzled out, but I would go again and again for that wonderful cheddar pimento slathered on grilled bread.

I seized another opportunity to eat pimento at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit and again at Artisan Meat Share. Both places served wonderful, casual meals

wp-1453393028479.jpgOn the advice of a friend (who’s recommendations never fail us), Anthony and I went to Edmond’s Oast for happy hour. We ordered lamb sliders, and I fully expected to be served a ground lamb patty on a bun. To my sheer delight, they brought out house-cured lamb. They continued to impress with Japanese style street corn. I also had a cocktail called, “What time does Sean Connery show up to Wimbledon?” Though we only snacked, dining there was a true experience.

Edmond's Oast Charleston

We only ate lightly at Edmond’s Oast due to our late-night dinner reservations at FIGWe probably should have booked a table prior to arriving in South Carolina, but when we called, they squeezed us into a late night spot the next evening.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream graces Austin with its truck for SXSW, so I could not pass up my first opportunity to visit a scoop shop and have a sundae with a conversation cookie and sprinkles. The ice cream is top notch and their caramel sauce makes a wonderful souvenir. The stunning copper store front isn’t so bad either.

 

I stand firmly in the camp of room service is a (usually overpriced and tasteless) treat and breakfast in bed is the best. Charleston is exactly the type of city you can order in in without feeling like you’re missing out. You could even one-up room service by ordering  Caviar & Bananas for delivery. If you do head out, Caviar & Bananas was the perfect stop for an iced coffee, a welcome reprieve from the hellish humidity. It is a darling delicatessen stocked with locally sourced artisianal groceries.

I donut eat many doughnuts at home, but rarely pass up an opportunity to try a fancy local doughnut shop while travelling. Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts was not exempt. I preferred their savory pastries to their sweet ones, regardless, it was a tasty, inexpensive morning meal.

 

Anthony and I do not usually splurge on hotel, but opt to spend our money on other experiences. Had we splurged, I would have opted to stay at the newly opened Spectator Hotel. I still wanted to eye the stunning design in person, so we swung by for drinks one evening. A kind Texan on staff there recommended we go to Poogan’s Porch for brunch. We never made it, so go for me if you’re there!

Spectator Hotel Charleston Lobby

We stayed at the charming and art-filled hotel, The Vendue. I tend to refuse room service on vacation, but how could I when nightly turn down service included chocolate on my pillow? Free coffee in the morning, appetizers and wine in the evening, and cookies at night did not hurt either.

The Vendue Charleston Boutique Art HotelThe Vendue Charleston Hotel Art ViewMaster LOOK

The Vendue is less than a block from Waterfront Park. Somehow we woke up early enough one morning to swing on the dock during the last few minutes of sunrise.

Waterfront Park Charleston

Waterfront Park Dock CharlestonWhile it’d be nearly impossible to miss, you can’t go to Charleston without a stroll down King Street. When we didn’t feel like long walks in the hot hot heat, the free, air-conditioned Trolley saved our feet.

I felt like it was really important to see Fort Sumpter while we were in Charleston, where the first shots of the American Civil War rang out. If you’re looking for more American history, you’ll find plenty in Charleston. I would recommend a visit to the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon.

I also felt compelled to visit one of the many plantation houses while we were there. We opted to visit Magnolia, though if I had a do-over, I may have chosen Middleton Place. After our tour, we took a lengthy stroll through the gardens and I learned I prefer tailored French gardens over their  English counterparts.

Magnolia Plantation House Charleston copy.jpg

On the way back from our day trip to Savannah (post in progress), we stopped to see the Angel Oak Tree, estimated to be over 400 years old with a circumference greater than twenty-five feet!

Angel Oak Tree Charleston Oldest Tree.jpg

As a traveller I am a go-go-goer. I love to see the world! Charleston taught me, that sometimes seeing the world and experiencing a city, means just sitting still in it for a moment.

See more places we went or wanted to go on my Charleston map! Have you been to Charleston? Share your memories in the comments below!

 

Las Vegas Mini Guide, or, So Much More Than I Expected

4 May

After landing in Las Vegas, I remarked to the husband that I was surprised at how beautiful it is. While he had been before, our trip in February was my first time in Sin City. I quickly realized that Vegas would surprise me many times over the next five days.

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign

I kept hearing that three days was the maximum amount of time many visitors would stay, but I could have easily lingered a day or two longer than we did. While many people go for debauchery a la Hangover, I found that Vegas has infinitely more to offer than free casino drinks and wedding chapels.

Floating Street Artist Entertainer Performer The Strip Las Vegas

For us, having family to visit made the trip exceedingly more enjoyable, but I’d recommend a visit to everyone. Fun sites, new experiences, and amazing food: below I’ll list the things I’d hate for you to miss if you found yourself in Vegas.

Bellagio Las Vegass Chihuly Glass Ceiling

Chihuly Glass Bellagio Ceiling Las Vegas

The infamous Strip, lined with enormous casinos, really proved false the maxim, “everything’s bigger in Texas.” Just a couple of casinos could take you days to explore. I soaked up all things over-the-top, elaborate, and exuberant, like a good Vegas traveller would. A favorite of mine was the Bellagio, with the Chihuly glass ceiling, pictured above, and the world’s largest chocolate fountain, pictured below.

World's Largest Chocolate Fountain Bellagio Las Vegas

At the Cosmopolitan I grabbed a fortune from the giant Lucky Cat and a drink in the stunning Chandelier Bar, a three story lounge, draped lavishly in seemingly endless strands of crystals. The Monkey’s Uncle was a sweet concoction of Monkey Shoulder Whiskey, Creme de Banana, Cream, Nutella, House Made Cinnamon-Vanilla Syrup.

Monkeys Uncle Cocktail Chandelier Bar Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

At Caesar’s Palace we enjoyed truffles that freely dispense from the large clock at Payard every fifteen minutes. While we were there, I picked up a Raspberry Pistachio Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich. At Monte Carlo, bundled up in parkas, surrounded by ice sculptures and sitting on benches made of ice and laden with furs and hides, we sipped cocktails out of glasses made of ice at Minus5 Bar. Vegas has plenty of experiences for the books. While, I opted not to take a gondola ride in the Venetian, I loved hearing the gondoliers singing in Italian as we strolled to brunch at Bouchon where we devoured warm beignets. I loved the antique brass card holder, below, so much, that I came home and scoured Etsy for an identical one.

Bouchon Bistro Business Card Holder Las Vegas

While we were there, the casinos were adorned in Chinese New Year decor. The Venetian and Mandalay Bay were most bedecked for the Year of the Goat.

Chinese New Year Year of the Goat Floral Arrangement Firecrackers

Since we rented a car to day trip to the Grand Canyon, we spent a fair amount of time exploring Vegas like a local might. My favorite meals in Vegas were not prepared by the chefs on Las Vegas Boulevard, but instead on Rainbow Boulevard. I had perhaps my favorite foodie experience to date in Vegas. Following a spicy Thai meal at Lotus of Siam of Nam Kao Tod (crispy rice) and duck panang, I indulged in three course dessert at Sweets Raku.

My experience at Sweets Raku was off to a great start with an edible menu, rolled in a cookie ring, and served with dipping sauce. From there, I chose my courses: Pineapple Sorbet with White Wine Jelly, Strawberry Tiramisu, and a chocolate creme puff with raspberries. Anthony skipped the multi-course meal in favor of an indulgent Chocolate Souffle with Banana Pudding.

We loved the area so much, we returned another day to have lunch at the crowded, but wait-worthy Monta Ramen. Having Ramen Tatsu-ya in Austin has really ruined me for ramen, but my Tonkatsu style ramen with black garlic did not disappoint.

For non-gambling fun, we headed north on Las Vegas Boulevard and visited the Neon Museum, a boneyard filled with the neon signs that Vegas is known for, from years past.

Stardust Neon Sign Museum Las Vegas Nevade

Driving from the airport to our hotel, a glimmer of silver glinted in in my eyes and I knew I had seen Gehry. Not far from downtown, we found it: The Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. I know nothing about architecture, but love pretty buildings.

Frank Gehry Architecture Las Vegas Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health

We also spent a little time on Fremont Street downtown, zip-lining on Slotzilla under the LED video canopy and walking through an old casino or two where you could hear all the coins clambering as people won and lost buckets of money, rather than swiping player cards as is common on The Strip.

Slotzilla Freemont Street Experience Las Vegas

I wanted to purchase a day pass to slide through the shark tank at the Golden Nugget, but it closes early and swimming was not allowed when we had the time. I suppose that means I have to visit Las Vegas again.

Shark Tank Slide Golden Nuggest Las Vegas

Have you been to Vegas? Tell me about your trip.

The Glass Skywalk at the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam

19 Mar

I could not have imagined that a large rock formation could be so humbling and so awe-inspiring. If the Grand Canyon is not on your bucket list, it should be.

I did not comprehend it’s vastness or my own smallness until I visited the Grand Canyon. I could not have possibly imagined how large such a small part of one country could be. Helicopters descend into the canyon, and look like ants by comparison.

On our recent trip to Vegas, we took a day trip to visit the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam. Despite the terrible online reviews we opted to go to the Glass Skywalk at Grand Canyon West. It is two hours closer to Vegas than the South Rim and, let’s face it, the National Park doesn’t have a glass structure that allows me to stand 4000 feet above the Canyon floor.

Grand Canyon Glass Skywalk

Photo provided by Hualapai Ranch | Skywalk at Grand Canyon West

Photo provided by Hualapai Ranch | Skywalk at Grand Canyon West

Grand Canyon West Glass Skywalk

If you are planning a trip the the Grand Canyon and choose to go to the Skywalk:

+ DO keep in mind that it will be more expensive than the South Rim

+ DO come to terms with the fact that if you want pictures on the Skywalk, you will have to pay

+ DON’T listen to old reviews: the road to Hualapai Ranch was completed fall of 2014

Jumping Grand Canyon

Coming from Vegas, I think the two hour and twenty minute drive was the right choice for us, but I truly think that you can’t go wrong with any view of the Canyon. I imagine that the South Rim is equally as breathtaking as the West.

Trail Closed

On the way back into Vegas we stopped at the Hoover Dam which was very evidently and charmingly 1930’s.

Hoover Dam

Photos of Las Vegas coming soon!

Thanks for reading,

♥ Dominique

A Weekend Getaway

29 Jul

Lately, I’ve had a bad case of wanderlust which can only be satiated with adventure. With impending plans for a December getaway,  going far simply isn’t in the cards.
Sometimes something as simple as exploring a new part of Austin or going to a new restaurant can sooth the travel itch for a short while, but that wasn’t cutting it this time.
I have been proposing a day trip to Fredericksburg or Gruene to Anthony for a few weeks now, but when some friends invited us to spend the weekend at their family lake house in Burnet, we jumped at the chance to get out of town.
What beats a tree full of hammocks?

Lake Buchanan, Burnett Texas | Weekend Getaway from Austin

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Pizza Week

30 May

Love makes you do crazy things. In my case, it was eating pizza for dinner five nights in a row.

I am fairly confident pizza is my husband’s love language, so what better way to spend date night funds than to explore the pizzerias in Austin-town? We made a point to go to places we had never been before so, while delicious, Winflo, Home Slice, and Salvation Pizza didn’t make the cut. We also avoided chains, so Pizza Hut, Dominos, and Papa Johns were out.

Don’t bother consulting with your doctor before attempting to recreate this adventure, you already know what the M.D. would say.

Day 1: We went to aRoma, a brand new place a few miles from home. We devoured their pizza the second day they were open.

aRoma Pizza Austin

We ordered a pie with four cheeses, including gorgonzola, and added truffle oil (because what pizza doesn’t need more greasy fat?).

aRoma Tiramisu Austin

aRoma’s version of tiramisu was a personal favorite. It had the classic ingredients (which I am a stickler about) and a fun presentation. That is Kaluha granita melting on the side.

aRoma Tiramisu

Day 2: We wandered over to the Eastside and tried VIA 313: Detroit style pizza made in an Austin style eatery.

Via 313 Austin

The thick, meaty, square  pizza was comfort food to the core. Carb. Overload.

VIA 313 Austin PIzza

Day 3: Possibly my favorite of the five, Bufalina used fresh ingredients and baked its pizza in a wood-fired oven in the dining area. We arrived promptly at 5:30, Bufalina’s opening time, and there was a wait within minutes, for good reason.

I should have snapped a few images of the oven, the restaurant interior, and the delectable gnocchi we devoured while our pizza was prepared.

Bufalina Pizza Austin

Day 4: We ventured out to Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza in Dripping Springs.

Stanley's Farmhouse Pizza Pints and Pies Sign

Our Mediterranean pizza pie was topped with spinach, sundried tomatoes, olives, and feta.

Stanley's Farmhouse Pizza

I don’t think the pizza was worth the 45+ minute wait, but the outdoor-only dining allowed us to tote Nola around.  The atmosphere is also great for a large group.  In addition to the pizza, my favorite local brewery, Jester King, is located right next door.

Nola at Stanley's

Day 5: We headed to fabulous Rounders before going to a screening at the Ritz Alamo Drafthouse. The sign has been begging me to come in for months. Who can resist New York style pizza with a Vegas vibe?

Rounders Pizza Sign Austin

We had to go classic and ordered a plain ol’ pepperoni. We ordered the casino (small) size, and still brought home almost half of a pizza. Can I add that the garlic knots were the best of their kind?

Rounders Pizza Austin

Rounders is the place you want to have your birthday party as a kid or the place you might play endless arcade games on a first date.

Rounders Pizza Decor

Day 6: We mulled over the places that remained on our list, Eastside Pies, Pinthouse Pizza, Hoboken Pie, Little Deli and Pieous, and decided to save them for another day…

Thanks for reading,

♥ Dominique

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