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Upcoming Trip to Michigan

It is finally summer here in the Midwest and time to do some relaxing and also some much needed travelling. There’s nothing better than a nice summer roadtrip on the open road in beautiful weather. Luckily, I have a nice little trip coming up. Later this week, I will be going on a 3 anda half day vacation to Michigan with some friends to play some golf. I am excited to see a part of Michigan that I have never really experienced before, Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids is the second biggest city in the state behind Detroit, and seems like a nice place to live. I have been there once before but it was for a work trip which ended up being very quick. I do remember the local brewery scene being hailed as being the place to hang out at, and I recall having a few good meals at restaurants (I am since forgetting the name of the places). What I didn’t realize is that there are so many nice golf courses. I just looked up the roster of golf courses we are scheduled to play, and they all look like really quality and renowned courses. Hopefully my game is on point to make it a worthwhile experience to play such nice courses!

Besides Grand Rapids, I have always wanted to spend time visiting Traverse City a little up north in the state. Located on the shores of upper Lake Michigan, Traverse City is well known in being a favorite summertime destination due to its cool weather, and fun food and drink scene. One of these days I will have to plan a relaxing vacation to go up there with a group of friends or my girlfriend, to get away from the never ending bustle of the big city. For noe, West Central Michigan awaits.

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St. Louis

I took a weekend trip down to St. Louis recently with my girlfriend, and have come to realize how under-appreciated the city is by me. Maybe it is because I am such a fan of Kansas City (where my dad’s side is from) that I’ve never had much room in my heart for a rival city in Missouri, but regardless I had a great trip there visiting friends.

We went to St. Louis on a weekend in late April, and even though the weather was a bit below normal for the time of year, it was still very crisp but nice. We spent the majority of Friday checking out the botanical gardens, which were beautiful and very peaceful. At night, we went to a rooftop bar in downtown that overlooked the Cardinals stadium. It was pretty cool as you could see into the stadium and there was a game that was just starting when we were there. We also went to a great Cajun restaurant nearby for dinner.

The reason for the such rave review, however, is due almost wholly to a great sandwich spot that we discovered, that had maybe the tastiest sandwich I have ever had. The place is called Sisters Sandwich Shoppe in the South City neighborhood and it is fairly new. I got the Gabagool sandwich, and to say it was incredible would be an understatement. The Italian style sandwich with diced pepperoncini was simply to die for – I would highly recommend this place to anyone and encourage you to visit.

The City of Miami

I’ve been tp Miami once or twice in my life but never really thought of it as anything besides just another American city (besides of course, it being warm all of the time there). After watching the show Anthony Bourdian’s “Parts Unknown” about the city and its surrounding cultures. It was pretty eye opening to realize that Miami is not just sunshine and hanging out/ partying on South Beach. The city certainly has a lot of culture to offer.

First, I did not realize how new of a city Miani is. Most of southern Florida was largely undeveloped well into the 1800s, and Miami was only incorporated in 1896, with a mere several hundred families living there. Many of the first settlers in the area were either former slaves from the Caribbean or northerners who were looking for a new and different life. Growth was slow, but steady (because who could be against that climate) in the early 1900s, but the population really started taking off in the 1920s and beyond. In the 1940s, in particular, thousands of American soldiers were sent to Miami to live or train during the prep for World War II and the actual war, so the population ballooned at that time. Since then, of course, Miami has grown to become a major US city with a global population.

The global nature and ecclectic food scene in Miami is another fascinating part of the area. The city is a giant hub for migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean, and there are many neighborhoods revolving around these different places, such as Little Havana and Little Haiti. It is a figurative and literal melting pot, with many outdoor cafes cooking up fragnant and spicy meat stews for the masses to to smell. My personal favorite food from the Miami and Caribbean food scene is the Cuban sandwich, made with roast pork, ham, pickle, mustard, and swiss cheese (on whatever delicious bread you so desire).

Living In Greece

When I was in college, I was fortunate enough to get to study abroad in a foreign country. Two places were at the top of my list, Rio De Janeiro and Athens, Greece. I chose to go to Athens, mostly to do with its safety and access to the rest of Europe. I was excited for the warm weather there and also to study the economic environment there, which was in interesting shape in 2012. The experience did not disappoint, at least in terms of constant excitement.

First, the living situation. I was put up in an apartment with 3 other American students in my program, in the Pagrati neighborhood of Athens. Our apartment was just in a complex with Greek families, and we were the random Americans. We were right down the street from our study abroad school, which was nice and convenient. Pagrati itself was a nice little neighborhood. There was a beautiful square in the middle of it, Plateia Varnava, and Pagrati is very close to the old Olympic Stadium. In any case, there’s lots of historical value no matter where in Athens you live.

Second, getting to see all of the historical ancient Greek sites was incredible. We visited and learned the history of all of the main sites in Athens proper, such as the Acropolis (which included the Parthenon and the Theatre of Dionysus), ancient cemetaries, Syntagma Square, and the Greek Parliament. In addition, we went to many sites outside of Athens including the Temple of Poseiden, Mount Olympus, and several Greek islands. It was an incredible experience to get to go out an see these places both as a group and on my own accord.

Third, the food situation was incredible. The trip to Greece nurtured my love for Mediterranean food. There was the street sandwiches (souvlaki) consisting of chicken or pork options wrapped in tomato, tzatziki, and pita. There were fresh vegatables from the farmers market to make my personal favorite, the Greek salad (green peppers, cucumber, tomato, olive oil, feta, and oregano). Then there was the delicious sausages with tomato sauce (I’m forgetting the name of the dish). No matter where I went or what I tried, it was always fresh and delicious, and I will always appreciate this region of the world for that.