Ole! National Margarita Day

Here’s a photo of a lovely margarita I enjoyed while visiting Isla Mujeres, Mexico. It’s a scenic island just north of the popular tourist destination of Cancun.

National Margarita Day Permanent Workation

Many of you have asked if I feel safe in Mexico. Let me start by saying yes, but… I do not venture too far from the general tourist areas. I am not looking for drugs or other ways to cause trouble. I spend alot of time in the ocean and always travel with friends. I do not drink too much alcohol while I am visiting and am always alert. Sounds like common sense, cause it is.

Stupid things happen to stupid people doing stupid things all the time. That being said, don’t be a stupid person. Always watch your back. Pretend like you have a third eye. Trust your gut, if you think it might be unsafe and your intuition feels that way, it probably is.

Melissa Behring Mexico Margarita Travel

Not just Bull Durham anymore

We spent a quick 48 hours in Durham, North Carolina this past weekend. There’s alot to do in a small space and time.

Here’s a recap of our experiences and our recommendations for your next visit to Durham.

First, make note of RDU. That is the acronym for Raleigh – Durham airport. Delta and Southwest are both main carriers that fly in and out of the Raleigh Durham Triangle area daily. In fact, we had direct flights on smaller planes through Delta at a very affordable rate.




RDU is small and concise airport. It has two terminals and you can easily navigate them quickly and efficiently.  Everyone from TSA to the Starbucks team are friendly, representing true Southern hospitality. No need to run through here. You can see from one end of the terminal to the other. You’d have a hard time missing your gate a RDU.

FordMustangPermanentWorkation

Since we’re from Detroit, and I spent quite a bit of time marketing the Ford Mustang, Avis rental car was more than happy to rent us a bright cherry red new 3.8 Liter. Good thing they didn’t give us a 5.0! We had a hard enough time not putting the pedal down on the smaller engine. Avis is a short seven minute bus ride away from the terminal. The staff was friendly and very easy to deal with. They had us in and out and well on our way before we could say “Ford Mustang”.

Once we were there and settled in the vehicle, waze help direct us out to where our family lives. After a nice light breakfast together, Jake and I hopped back in the car to check out the area. Armed with a great list of things to do, we tried to pack in as much as possible.

Our first stop was the Duke Gardens at Duke University. When I was in Junior High, I was a huge fan of the Duke basketball team and Coach K. (Sorry to hear they lost the game this past Saturday.)

It was great to walk around the Gardens, view the foliage, watch the ducks on the pond.

Once you walk through the gardens, you can easily get to the Quad on campus and also see the Duke University Chapel. Now mind you, I did not find this to be a chapel at all. In my opinion, it was not small or chapel like. In fact, it’s a very European style Gothic cathedral. When you look up at the ceiling, it has large soaring arches down the center aisle above the pews. It also contains absolutely fabulous works of stain glass, adorned with small details including descriptions in the glass that look just like hand writing within the actual glass. Each pane has a description of which biblical verse the artwork is representing.

Also on display, was a great set of more contemporary art work by Sadao Watanabe (1913-1996).  His was a Buddhist, but transitioned to Christianity. His artform was a native Japanese-style stencil art that was formally used to dye kimonos. His goal was to communicate Christian beliefs to Japanese through artwork that they understood and were more familiar with.

Sadao Watanabe Permanent workation art artist duke university chapel

We spent quite a bit of time oogling at the ceiling, artworks and the construction that reminded us a lot of Europe, however needed to wander back to our car.

Along the way, we saw some amazing installations of the human form interpreted through wood and twigs. We took several photographs inside the sculptures to represent the size of the artwork in comparison to a person. (For reference, I’m about 5′ 9″.)

Fantastic, fun and interactive, that’s exactly what sculptures and art should be. Museums of the world, take note, we humans want to participate in art! We want to feel it touch it and be surrounded by it… Not just see it hung on a wall from a distance.

After our wander about the gardens, we hopped in the car and drove over to Ninth Street. It’s a quaint shopping and dining strip near the town. We checked out a small shop called Vintage Home South. The owner has an interesting offering. She collects older furniture and refinishes it. VHS gives the pieces a whole new look and feel. A more modern southern shabby chic with light shades reflecting the current home trends. She has beautiful mirrors made out of former doorways, denim sofas, and lots of other small items for your home. I could have easily brought a few things home. Too bad everything I loved would not fit in my suitcase.

Of course, around the corner, Guitar Jake found High Strung. High Strung specializes in vintage violin, cello, and guitar sales and lessons. We went in to check out the Laravees on display and meet some new musicians. A very friendly bunch over there with lots of talented folks. They’re also offering ukulele lessons these days, just like our friend, Chris Brantley, very popular and fun.

We decided that we would need to move on to Downtown Durham in order to see what’s going on in the small city. We drove by their baseball stadium, that is home to the minor-league team, the Durham Bulls. You may remember the film, Bull Durham from the late 1980’s. This film was indeed shot in Durham, North Carolina, downtown and the surrounding areas. Very fun to see the stadium. Unfortunately, the weather in January was not friendly to a live baseball game.

Just a couple of blocks away from the stadium, we found a great joint serving multiple flavors of ciders. Recently, due to some auto immune complications, Jake has gone gluten-free. I know, you’re all surprised because we have historically loved our micro breweries. Health must come first. We were excited to find a local place that brews only cider.

Bull City Ciderworks has more than 15 flavors of cider on draft incorporating varying degrees of sweetness, dry, savory, vegatable and fruity flavors. I overheard lots of folks say, “Oh, I don’t know if I’m into cider.” Once they tasted a few of the samples, they were hooked.

Jake and I appreciated the affordable flights you could get with either four or five different options of flavors. We tried not to duplicate our flavors so we could share as many as possible. We did end up leaving with a six pack of their Rhize Up and the Orange you a Hippie bottled versions of their cider. We highly recommend Bull City Ciderworks when you’re in Durham.


Then there is Picnic… BBQ Hog Heaven!

I can’t say enough nice things about the food and the people there. Wyatt, the pitmaster, happened to be a lawyer in the past and gave it all up to pursue his hog heaven dreams of having authentic great pork barbecue.

Now what does that mean? Wyatt has had giant smokers built where he can have four full size sides of hogs smoking at the same time in each smoker. Wyatt also sources these hogs through his partner locally. Although he didn’t say they were “happier than pigs in shit”, I did get him when he told us his hogs live on an actual farm with acreage. The hogs get to forage around in the woods like their ancestors of the past. Because of this partnership, his meat is lean and extremely flavorful. Trust me when I say Picnic is well worth the stop if you’re ever in Durham and want some barbecue.

Northerners, take note, they have vinegar based bbq sauce in the Carolinas.

Hope you have the opportunity to visit Durham, NC sometime in the near future.

 

All Roads Lead to Rome

 

 


Food & Drink

La Montecarlo for Pizza ala Romana

Vicolo Savelli 11a-12-13

lamontecarlo.it

These guys treated us like family every night of the week during our stay in Rome. It was down the street from our fantastic apartment and their house wine was just the right flavor and price.

la Motecarlo pizzaria rome italy

Cantina & Cucina Hosteria Pizzaria

Via Del Governo Vecchio 87

cantinaecuccina.it

cucina rome pizza italy sample plate rome

We had drinks here one day and then dinner the night before. Meatballs the size of my head. Gluten free pasta options for Jake. Beautiful ingredients prepared simply beautiful and tasty.

cucina rome italy food

Il Piccolo

Via Del Governo Vecchio 74-75

Great wine bar with seats outside on the street facing all the action. If there isn’t a table available go inside and check out the frescos on the ceiling while you wait. Most tourists only stay for one drink. But the locals that come there hang out for quite a while and are worth the watch.

 

Scampo

Piazza Campo de Fiori 28/29

welcomescampo@gmail.com

Best grilled octopus appetizer in Rome. Located in one corner of the popular Campo de Fiori, they are cooking up a mean lasagna and offer some fantastic olives with your starter cocktail.



scampo rome italy campo de fiori food travel

Norcineria Voila

Piazza Campo de’ Fiori 43

norcineriaviola.it

Ask for Benedict, his family has been running this cured pig house for four generations. Try the prosciutto jerky and grab and slice of borchetta too. This is an authentic Italian cured pork store. He ships internationally too.

voila pig cured meat italy rome campo de fiori melissa behring

Maccheroni

Piazza delle Coppelle 44

ristorantemaccheroni.com

Carbonara is the quintessential Roman pasta dish for me. This place makes it beautifully. Sit inside, and watch the chef-quarium where the chefs are preparing all the dishes for the house fresh and quick on the spot. Giant pots of pasta with steam wafting to the rafters, the walls are lined with beautiful wine selections and the staff is buzzing with an industrial do it yourself vibe. Casual and relaxed environment.

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Piazza & Other Great Locations to People Watch

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona Rome Italy Travel

Called the heart of old Rome, features beautiful fountains and sculptures by Bernini and both ends along with one of the city’s many prized stolen from Egypt obelisk. The surrounding buildings are great examples Baroque Roman architecture.

 

Campo de fiori rome italy travel

Campo de Fiori

Campo de Fiori is worth a look, during the day it is a busy touristy market. But fresh pomegranate juice for 4euro is worth a wander in. This piazza once was the site of public executions. The most famous being the man featured as the statue in the center, looming over all the people. He is philosopher, Giordano Bruno. He was burned alive for heresy and placed on the forbidden book list from the Vatican.

Piazza de Spagna and The Spanish Steps

Scene and be seen here in this location romanticized by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in the popular Roman Holiday film. Grab a gelato, have a seat to watch everyone tourists and locals alike checking each other out.

Recommended special events and sights: 

Vatican City, the Museum and the Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel Vatican City Rome Italy Melissa Behring

Happy hour cocktails, appetizers and music in the garden at the Musei Vatticani

www.museivaticani.va

Sistine Chapel is also a part of this experience once you’ve walked through the Vatican Museum. This is the only way to go to the Vatican. There are limited seats available for this experience and reserved entry times. Plus in the evening, the lighting inside the museum is spectacular. Sculptures and paintings come to life in the night.

Sistine Chapel Vatican City Rome Italy

The oldest museum in the world, Musei Capitolini atop Palatine Hill.

This museum houses the “Lupa Capitolina” which is a bronze sculpture of Romulus and Remus sucking the teat of the Mother Wolf. They were the founders of Rome. The story of the brothers is pretty dramatic, just like Rome.

They also have the Medusa by Bernini, the Venus Peducia, Mars the God of War, the Fawn and so many other famous sculptures, your head will spin for days.

Medusa Capitoline Museum Rome Italy
The Colosseum and the Roman Forum are right around the corner from here.

Roman Forum Travel Rome Italy

Personally I found the Roman Forum more inspirational, but the Colosseum seems to appeal more to men. Purchase a self guided ticket from the booth by the Forum it also includes the Colosseum. Walk through the Forum on the way down Palatine Hill to the Colosseum. (They will also put you in a different entry line.)

It’s all right next to each other. One giant Roman ruin after another.  Also, the white marble building is Altere della Patria, “The Monument to the Fatherland”.

Melissa Behring Roman Forum Travel Italy

 

A walk through the Borghese Gardens in the morning if you have the time. I wish I would have taken a coffee with me although there are plenty of carts and a cafe in the garden.

 

Lastly, be certain to thow a coin in the Trevi fountain to ensure your return to Rome.
Trevi Fountain Travel Rome Italy

 

 


When Friends Move To Austin

A couple months back, two of my dearest friends relocated from Detroit to Austin.

Nathan Montgomery Jen Montgomery Detroit Austin Music Travel Relocation

Along the way, I’ve been sending them tips for weekending fun in the Austin area and I’ve collected them here for you.

Guero’s
1412 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
They have free music in their garden under the live oak tree on Thursdays and weekends. At home, I specialize cooking a runny “Charro-style” pinto bean. The recipe I wrote was inspired by that restaurant. (It also happens to be something I served at the Nate & Jen Learn to Say Howdy Ya’ll party I hosted for their going away.) I really like their enchiladas & margaritas. Guero’s is absolutely not the best place for Mexican food in Austin. But I love the vibe of the patio & the first inside room… so I cut their food some slack. Plus they always have fun friendly servers.

The Oasis on Lake Travis
6550 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732
One of the first times I ever went to Austin with Jake, he took me there on a date. It’s one of the only places I’ve found where you can enjoy some food and the waterfront of beautiful Lake Travis. (If I lived in Austin, I’d miss the Great Lakes here in Michigan.) I believe they also have music, cover bands like 7 Million Jigawatts used to be.

My idea of one sweet Sunday in Downtown Austin’s SoCo neighborhood. ❤️🎶😀

Jo’s Coffee
1300 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Joe’s is my favorite coffee shop in the entire world. The Sunday Morning Jo’s Coffee Brunch Band on South Congress is totally worth getting motivated in the morning and going to listen. After you have a coffee, tea or Lone Star beer there, walk South, away from the river to get some brunch.

South Congress Cafe
1600 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Plan on waiting (unless there are open seats at their tiny bar). If you have calories to burn, eat the carrot cake French toast. If not, there’s loads of other good Southwestern style options there.

Amy’s Ice Creams, they have multiple locations.
(my favorite is 1301 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704)
I always have Mexican Vanilla and/or the Mexican Chocolate. It’s my favorite sweet treat there and one of the best flavors around.

Oh yeah, everyone must drink a Topo Chico for me at any restaurant on any night.

Then, I took a trip to Roma, so I focused on all things that are Italian in Austin…

Spaghetti warehouse- wait we’ve never been there! So, sorry not that one. 😂👎

Whole Foods Market on Lamar and 6th. In their take out section, they have great ethnic sections, including Italian favorites. I think they still have ice skating on the roof, but it’s been years since I’ve been in that place. (I had owned the stock at one point in my portfolio. I did sell it at a profit, but I believe in this company and their mission still today.)

Vespaio
1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 and their Enoteca next door offer rustic Italian. They have a great dinner and offer a nice weekend brunch too. Actually, good authentic inspired Italian food. Enjoyed it and the sister restaurant next door several times.

Botticelli’s
1321 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Once, I had the best most amazing ravioli’s in there. To die for. They have a garden behind the restaurant, so don’t let the tiny interior fool you.They also have live music sometimes on the weekend.

Here’s an Austin related activity you can do from the couch while you’re vegging out 😀.

Watch anyone of the following films with some of Texas’ favorite stars & locations:
✔️Dallas Buyers Club (Mathew Mconahey’s Mom lives in Jake’s Mom’s Dell Webb community 😂)
✔️Chef (Shot in a food truck in & around Austin. One scene is shot in one of my favorite restaurants, Trulucks)
✔️Bernie (Morbidly funny shot around Austin & Georgetown)
✔️Urban Cowboy (just in case you need lessons on how to fit in also shot in Austin)
✔️Dazed & Confused (just in case you miss your stoner friends from high school or home – also starring Matthew Mconahey)
✔️Whip it (Because when you want to make a movie about Roller Derby girls, you should shoot in Austin & Detroit. Makes sense to me.)

Then Hurricane Harvey came to town, so I needed to think of fun things for a rainy weekend in Austin. What’s there to do?

Well, I suppose you could go shopping at The Domain
11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin, TX 78758. It’s a fancy name for a place to shop for things you might or might not need. Referred to on Google as a “sprawling upscale outdoor mall”. (Doesn’t sound that fun to me, especially in the rain 😂.)

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (They also have multiple locations & I don’t have a favorite for this one.) Watch a film, have a snack, dinner and a beer/soda. On Sept 6, they had a “Garlic Festival”. When David Bowie died they had a music video party commemorating his lifes work. If you wanted to get scared, go there and see Stephen King’s IT.

The bad thing about Harvey, the weather was so bad they couldn’t even leave their apartment. So, I suppose when it’s winter, they will check out the inside stuff.

I’ll have more installments as Nate & Jen aclimate to the temperature, lifestyle and location in Austin, Texas.