NEW MEXICO TO WEST TX

Labor Day weekend was amazing! We had 5 full days to enjoy a wonderful road trip from New Mexico to West Texas. For those that request my itinerary, please see below! I hope this helps 🙂

Day 1:

My husband and I are big fans of the show Breaking Bad! The first thing we did was visited Pollo Hermanos ( really called Twisters)! It was awesome to be where they shot a lot of the scenes!

After we ate (it was an ok place), we headed to KASHA-KATUWE TENT ROCKS NATIONAL MONUMENT (1 hr from Albuquerque)

$5 per person entry into park

The rock formations here were amazing! Make sure you take the slot canyon trail:

The hike took us about an hour(round trip). After a HOT hike, we got into the car for a 45 drive to MEOW WOLF located in Santa Fe, NM.

A worthy $25 general admission fee.

This place was artsy, surprisingly satisfying, and totally one for the gram! Each room has a hidden path to another room. It was like getting sucked into a portal almost!

Day 2:

We started off the morning with a cup of coffee at Prismatic Coffee. I got a delicious Cortado and a nutella stroopwaffel!

After a much needed caffeine boost, we headed to Old Town Albuquerque! The town was filled with so much culture. Every store had so much color, detail, and souvenirs!

If you get thirsty, don’t forget to stop by Old Barrel Tea Company for a sip! The raspberry green tea was so good…we came back for seconds.

Next stop, we drove towards Sky City Cultural Center! Let me just say, the drive there was BEAUTIFUL. We stop a couple times(OK many times) to take photos and to add some color to my photos with the backpack I brought at the Indian Arts Center.

Turns out the cultural center was closed and we got too tired to drive to El Malpais National Monument (which was another hour drive).

So we drove back into town and had dinner at El Cotorro in the Nob Hill area. Freshly made corn tortillas, a salsa bar, elote and OXTAIL tacos?!? Yes..A-MAZ-ING! Afterwards, we headed over to Scalo Northern to enjoy a bottle of wine and the live band!

Day 3:

The drive to West Texas! Wake up super early if you want to make these stops because the drive is LONG!

1st stop: Abo Ruins Salinas National Monument

Beware of rattlesnakes and stay on trails (basically the first sign you’ll see).

2nd Stop:Gran Quivira

this place looks amazing in photos but we sat in the car for 20 mins hoping, the thunderstorm would calm for us to run out and explore. Please check it out and let us know what you think!

3rd Stop: Mcginn’s Pistachio Land

O-M-G get some spicy ranch pistachios if you enjoy some heat! We probably spent an hour here trying all the different flavor of  pistachios, wine tasting (there is a hatch chile wine!), and taking a $2 tour!

4th Stop: White Sands National Monument

~$3 entry fee?

So beautiful and keep driving down for a couple of minutes to beat the crowd!

Day 4:

Good Morning Terlinqua, TX! Completed out first night glamping  at Basecamp Terlingua and boy was that interesting. The lamps in the tent drew the bugs in(yes there’s openings in the tent) so we turned that off pretty quickly. Then, the lights from our cell phones had the bugs hitting our faces, HAH, so definitely slept under the covers. Anywho, it was a gorgeous view in the morning and felt great breathing in the fresh air.

Drove 2 mins to get breakfast at La Posada Milagro. I got the mexican egg burrito, added bacon, with a triple shot espresso cappuccino! Mmm delightful.

Headed to Big Bed afterwards, to explore Santa Elena canyon but it was “rained out” due to the storm we encountered the night before. So we drove out to hike to the balance rock instead! Very easy hike, hour long round trip if even, and an awesome view when you climb up to the top.

Tried a couple of other places afterwards but not too much luck because the aftermath, but totally ok, because it’s just another excuse to come back.

Had an early dinner at Starlight Theater and MAN you must try their chili! Visited the gift shop next door then brought some beer and snacks for the rest of the night in our tent.

Note: The night sky is amazing. Make yourself a campfire, drink a beer, cuddle with someone, and enjoy the sunset!

Day 5:

Last day! We woke up early and made our way to my favorite store: Tiny Target (located in Altuda, TX)…where I found an amazing final sale item of course.

Then Headed to the famous Prada store! You do past by this place on the way to Marfa- it was too dark for a photo so I came back.

Driving back to Marfa, TX we did not have luck on our side because the Chinati Foundation was closed, Ballroom Marfa was closed, Bun N Roses was closed, and a couple of other places because it was a Monday but Hey! At least now you know?

Lastly, we drove into Midland, TX to fly home! Buy took a photo at the replica stone hedge before we flew out of course!

C H I C A G O

Where to stay:

I like to stay on magnificent mile(north Michigan Avenue)

Favorite hotels:

  • Hyatt Centric Magnificent Mile
  • Intercontinental Magnificent Mile

Transportation :

  • When you get to the airport you can take the subway 🚊 there. It’s $20 for a 3 day pass and you’ll be able to go everywhere.. even on the bus

Things to do:

Sky Deck Chicago:

Enjoy the view of the city on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower. Then walk off the glass ledge to see the city below your feet!

360 Chicago:

360 view of Chicago while tilted over the city on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building. Enjoy the adrenaline 😱

Science Museum:

Hands down my favorite museum! You could spend over 3 hours in here and probably won’t finish exploring the place.

Field Museum:

Filled with history and culture! Recommended!

Planetarium: I love the exterior of the place but inside wasn’t as amazing as i thought it would be? I guess because I experienced the Science Museum.

 

Lincoln Zoo:

An awesome zoo within Lincoln Park and guess what makes it even more amazing? ITS FREE!

Garfield Park Conservatory:

Beautiful Garden! Enjoy the smell of the flowers!

Millennium Park:

Home of The Bean(cloud gate) structure and the crown fountain. An artsy park you must check out!

Navy Pier:

The pier is a fun place to visit during the summer! Enjoy treats you would find at the carnivals

 

In the summer, go enjoy Lake Michigan! Unfortunately, I’ve been here a couple times in the winter and have not experienced it.

 

Restaurants to try:

Chinatown:

  • Joy Yee plus :boba, waffles, Shabu Shabu
  • Joy Yee noodles : Boba and Chinese food
  • Ming hin: dim sum
  • Dolo: dim sum
  • Mccb: schezuan. (Chili oil wonton, dan dan noodles, were my fav but people get some huge hot pot thing)

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North Michigan Avenue:

  • Three dots and a dash: cool tiki bar
  • The Flamingo Rum Club: Instagram worthy rum bar!
  • Apogee: Lounge with frozen flowers in their cocktails
  • Leviathan: Beautifully crafted cocktails
  • Eataly: Italian store, stone grill pizza, fresh pasta, nutella bar
  • Purple pig: tapas
  • Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria: Chicago style pizza, must get garlic crust
  • 25 degrees: boozy shakes
  • Wild berry pancakes: breakfast joint known for their pancakes

West Side:

Bodega– churros

Bombobar – best hot chocolate with donuts and other goodies dressed on top

Sawada– military latte is yummy

Aviary- A artsy and modern dining experience! Just get ready to spend some $$ though

Gallery cafe– A place to get a cool photo on your coffee

The Allis: Industrial mid-century Instagram worthy cafe with delicious pastries

Au Cheval– get a single cheeseburger add bacon and egg. For reference, a single burger is a double patty and a double is a triple patty. Their bacon is super think and well seasoned. We got the fries with the garlic aioli and the hash with duck fat… yum!

Carnivale: A fun dining experience with an amazing Latin inspired menu

The Girl and The Goat: This place is always book so still on the list for me!

Little Goat Diner: Great place for brunch but make sure to make a reservation!

B A N F F

Over 5 years ago, I came across a beautiful photo of a turquoise lake on Pinterest. I knew I had to visit this magical place one day, this place called BANFF

We flew into Calgary and drove an hour and 30 minutes into BANFF! We only had 3 full days here and it still was not enough to check mark everything on our list but we squeezed in as much as we could!

What you need to know:

  • You must pay to get into the city of Banff ($20 per day)and must display the pass on your dash. If not, you’re at risk of getting a ticket.
  • Best time to visit: June- August
  • Rent a car! Don’t really need an SUV but 4WD is needed if you’ll be there when it snows
  • Sunset is at 10 PM 🙌
  • To really enjoy Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, get there before 7:30 AM to get parking! Lake Moraine is 15 minutes from Lake Louise but if you get there too late, you would have to pay a shuttle to get you there and back ($25 CAD)
  • This trip could be pretty pricey if you want to do the tours/main attractions but I listed the prices below and if it’s worth it in my opinion.
  • Wildlife: some people advise you to not carry around food and to have a bear bell or spray

Lakes to Visit

The view of the lakes in Banff are breathtaking! The lakes are glacier fed and gives off a turquoise color due to the reflection off of the rock flour accumulated in the lake.

Lake Louise

We went to Lake Louise early in the morning (7 AM) when the sun was not as bright but when 9 AM came around, the water became a brighter turquoise.

Rent a canoe (~$119 CAD for 1 HR)

Go on a hike to Lake Agnes Teahouse (1.5 hour steep incline hike)

You’ll encounter steep hills and beautiful boulders like this:

When you reach Mirror lake, you’re almost there(15-20 mins)

And then you reach Lake Agnes!

Go celebrate with some tea and food at the teahouse . The workers hike the ingredients up daily

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake is 15 minutes from Lake Louise. It has the view of the 10 peaks. To get the best view the spontaneous way, walk on the wood and climb up the boulders! Or you can take the stairs up and get a spectacular view as well.

Other beautiful lakes we did not have time to visit:

  • Peyto Lake
  • Bow Lake
  • Lake Minnewanka
  • Emerald Lake
  • Lake O’Hara
  • Berg Lake

Must do attractions/tours

Glacier Tour:

(~$80 CAD )includes glacier sky walk and tour of Athabaska glaciers

Athabaska Glaciers:

Ride this monster!

Drink the glacier water:

Glacier Sky walk:

BANFF Gondola to Sulfur Mountains (~$65 CAD)

Keep walking and climb those steps for a beautiful view!

Johnston Canyon(free):

Don’t forget when you go towards the upper falls there’s a trail to a secret cave! I was so amazed how beautiful everything was… 😭 we totally missed it!

Food:

Park Distillery Restaurant

Ramen Arashi

Cows ice cream:

Not a great photo but there’s so many wonderful flavors! Highly recommend!

Other restaurants that were recommended but we did not try:

  • Block kitchen
  • Fairmount hotel restaurants
  • The Bison Restaurant
  • Saltlik Banff
  • The Maple Leaf

L O N D O N

London- the land of the double decker bus and the Buckingham Palace! We spent a total of 4 days and I wanted more time!

Tips:

  • Purchase an oyster card to ride the subway and buses.
  • It’s pretty cheap to travel by train in Europe- I recommend going to another city/country
  • We stayed by Covent Garden and LOVED it!
  • Rent a bike and go around!

Things to do:

  • Visit the Buckingham Palace
  • Shop at the Covent Garden
  • Ride the Coca-Cola London Eye
  • Take a photo in front of Big Ben- This was the closest we got to the real thing since it was under construction LOL
  • Visit the world of M&Ms
  • Take a photo in a red phone booth
  • Photo at Tower Bridge- it’s so iconic, how can you not?
  • Visit the Tower of London
  • Scout out where Harry Potter was filmed
  • Shop at Harrod’s- the oldest department store still standing in London
  • Tour the British Musuem- so much history!
  • Visit the Markets: some are only open on a certain day:
    • Borough Market
    • Leadenhall Market
    • Brick Lane Market
    • Old Spitalfields Market

Eat, Drink, Repeat:

  • London has MANY cute cafe’s that are Instagram and tea time
    worthy :
    • Elan Cafe– There’s something about their avocado toast that still has me drooling

    • Aubaine
  • Peggy Porschen
    • Laduree
    • Sketch
    • Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea
    • Diamond Jubilee
    • Dominique Ansel
  • Dishoom: Must I say, Indian food in London should be on your list! I’m not much of a wait in line kind of girl but for this place, I would. The flavors were amazing!
  • Coppa Club: I checked their website everyday and was able to book 2 months in advance for a table in the Igloo. The food was amazing, the Irish Coffee is a must, and the view is gorgeous!
  • Dim Sum: there’s so many Dim Sum places in Chinatown but i will say, it doesn’t compare to Houston’s Dim Sum but if you’re having withdrawals- it’ll do
  • Tsujiri: omg get the sundae and eat it for me please
  • Cahoots: a friend of mine recommended this bar and I loved it! it’s underground and you walk into a train basically. The drinks are like the ones you find at tiki bars.
  • Venchi Chocolate and Gelato
  • Sky Garden: great view from up top- enjoy some drinks and food

B R U S S E LS

Brussels- The land of amazing waffles, beer and the land that discovered Godiva Chocolate!

Tips:

  • You can get around to most places by foot but Uber is available as well.
  • Leave extra room if you want to bring home some amazing chocolates
  • No heels ladies- it’s all cobblestone here
  • you probably only need 3 days max here

Things to do:

  • Visit the first Godiva Store
  • Explore the Grand-Place de Bruxelas
  • Pictures in front of Palace Royale
  • Shop at the Galeries Royales Saint- Hubert
  • Pictures at Mont Des Arts

Eat, Drink, Repeat:

  • Maison Danboy: AMAZING WAFFLES.
  • Nuet Nigenough: great food and lots of beer options
  • Peck 47: breakfast
  • Leon: Mussels and fries for days
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  • Moeder Lambic: get you some beer

P O R T L A N D

This post will be completed soon! Please come back later!

Portland, such a hip and cool city!

Transportation:

I recommend renting a car so you could drive to the west coast and catch waterfalls in the east!

Hotel parking in downtown is pretty pricey(ours was $45/night) so we parked in the streets/other parking lots)

Things to do:

Pioneer Courthouse Square: check out this area!

Go along the coast:

Rowena Crest:

Chase these waterfalls:

Bridal Veil Falls:

O U R S T O R Y

Hello World,

My name is Linda Nguyen, and #BLNADVENTURES is a hashtag I started years ago to track the milestones and adventure photos with my husband, Billy Nguyen.

You see, we have this dream of traveling the world together and to share our experiences and stories with the world. Then it came to me, what if I started a blog?

Granted there are so many blogs today but that’s the beauty of it! Everyone has their own stories, their own way of experiencing it, and here is OURS!

I hope this blog will help your travel plans or inspires you!

Also, check  us out on Instagram: l.n.daa

ENJOY!

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K Y O T O

Kyoto, a beautiful city you must visit in Japan! I would say 3 days at most here would be a good amount of time!

Tips:

  • if you’re coming from Tokyo and you would like to hit up other cities, I recommend purchasing the JR Rail Pass ($300 USD). We used this for our 1.5 weeks in Japan.
  • The JR Pass will allow you to go on almost all of the trains. Be sure to read because there’s some train lines where you’ll need to purchase a separate ticket.
  • AIRBNB was difficult when contacting the host because of the language barrier so i recommend staying in a hotel

Things to do:

  • Visit the Monkey Park: its quite a hike up there but it’ll be worth it- I promise

  • While you’re up there, enjoy the view!

  • Go to the famous Fushimi Inari-taisha: lots of stairs so be prepared

  • Stroll through the Bamboo Forest/Arashiyama Bamboo Grove:

  • Eikando Temple: we didn’t have time to visit but it looks beautiful!
  • Take a trip to Nara
  • Nishiki Market: more fresh seafood

Eat, Drink, Repeat:

  • Fire Ramen at Men Baka Ichidai

Elk: A cafe that offered 3D designs on you coffee and the fluffiest pancakes

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  • AWOMB: sushi
  • Onikunoo Sushi
  • Ohayo Biscuit: sweets
  • Yo-jiya Cafe
  • Yugen: Matcha Latte
  • Cafe Cherish: Cute Cafe

 

O S A K A

MY FAVORITE CITY IN JAPAN!!! Only because there’s literally AMAZING food EVERYWHERE so make sure you come to this city with an empty stomach.

Tips:

  • if you’re coming from Tokyo and you would like to hit up other cities, I recommend purchasing the JR Rail Pass ($300 USD). We used this for our 1.5 weeks in Japan.
  • The JR Pass will allow you to go on almost all of the trains. Be sure to read because there’s some train lines where you’ll need to purchase a separate ticket.
  • AIRBNB was difficult when contacting the host because of the language barrier so i recommend staying in a hotel

Things to do:

  • EAT all the way down Dotonbori. With so many food stands, why not try them all?
  • Check out the Osaka Castle: if you go late March- mid April, you may see cherry Blossoms
  • Visit Kuromon Market for some fresh seafood
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  • Visit the Instant Noodle Museum
  • Visit Universal Studios
  • Visit the Floating Garden Observatory
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Places to Eat:

  • Matsusakabeef M: MUST get the fruit sake flight- BEST-SAKE-EVERRRR! And of course get the Japanese BBQ ($600 for 5 people)
  • Ichiran: Yes, they have this ramen shop here too if you didn’t get to try it in Tokyo!
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  • Tsurutontan Udon
  • Pablo: Delicious cheese tarts
  • 7 Eleven: I know what you’re thinking but it’s actually really good
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  • Uncle Rikuro’s Cheesecake
  • Everything down Dotonbori
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