One St Patrick’s Day in Dublin

Did I ever tell you the story about Jake, myself and comedian Tom Briscoe in Dublin on Saint Patty’s Day? Well if you can imagine two rockers and the king of getting fired from jobs comedy ripping up the secret speakeasies, rocking out at the hidden gems in Temple Bar and drinking a bunch of Guinness and all the Irish coffees Ireland has to offer… You’ve got a great start for the day and be about 1/2 right.

Buy Lonely Planet Ireland Trave Guide
Lonely Planet Ireland Travel Guide is an Excellent Travel Resource

A couple of years ago while we were touring the British Isles, we were fortunate enough to land in Dublin right on the blessed day. What’s funny is in Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day it’s sort of just another day, everyone celebrates but there’s no 10 AM drinking silliness with leprechauns and parades. (Don’t get me wrong we found plenty of tourists in Dublin willing to live up to that side of St. Patty’s Day!)

We started the day on the second floor of Mr. Briscoe’s favorite Dublin pub, O’Neill’s, which happens to be in the heart of Dublin right near to Trinity College. O’Neill’s offers a carvery… It’s like going to Sunday Dinner, Christmas, New Years Eve, American Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl all in one lovely homey pub. They offer am amazing selection of meats and fish for you to choose from along with tons of traditional sides. Trust me, come hungry and plan on leaving extra full.

Buy UNESCO World Heritage Site Guide Book
Excellent Reference for UNESCO World Heritage Sites

After we filled our bellies, we wandered over to the Temple Bar neighborhood. Note: there is an establishment called “Temple Bar Pub” and the name also refers to the neighborhood surrounding the bar. Temple Bar has music pretty much 7 days a week. If you didn’t hear music in the streets, check out the many different bars for local artists performing both traditional Irish music as well as modern pop covers.

 

 

Many famous authors and artists hail from Dublin. It is and was a literary mecca for writers. Some very famous and classic authors hail from the fabulous city on the Liffey River like:

James Joyce, Ulysses

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

Bram Stoker, Dracula

and of course Johnathan Swift, Gullivers Travels

Other artists that also hail from Dublin like U2, Bono, Sinead O’Connor all create a bit of tension when spoken about in the local pubs as people are very opinionate about their outspoken political and religious views.

 

If you get a chance to visit Northern Ireland, near Belfast, you absolutely must take the journey up the Antrim Coast to the Giants Causeway and learn about Finn & all the other folk lore associated with the hexigonical stone way. It’s an amazing sight of wonder and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We’ve written about Ireland a few other times. You can check out those articles here.

Unicorns, Rainbows & Songs with Meaning

The other night I watched a grown man ride and LED lit unicorn through a crowd of screaming fans. Then they proceeded to blow up a giant rainbow on the stage. And the next he was in a giant clear ball singing while crawling across the crowd to a platform set up in the middle of the room.

The Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
The Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Album on Amazon

Wayne Coyne, the lead singer of the flaming lips, has a special spirit about him and a way to control and excite people that is rare in performers today. You know from the minute he takes the stage, sometimes well before showtime or the band is even scheduled to start, that you’re in for a very very fun event.

 Flaming Lips album, Oczy Mlody
The most recent Flaming Lips album, Oczy Mlody for sale on Amazon


Before the show, we sat at the Iron Horse and chatted with a young man from Cincinnati. He didn’t realize that there was so much fun stuff going on in the Detroit area and had never really been to bustling downtown Royal Oak.  Like I said in my earlier article, most people don’t even realize that there’s so much great stuff going on here in the Detroit area. Even with the national coverage from the New York Times, we are still fighting all the stigmas to this day.

I love the fact that there are so many entertainment and dining options in our neighborhood. I think it’s super cool that national and international acts perform right here in town. There are also places where our local talent is featured nightly. Our arts community is vibrant and welcoming. Just like how I feel at a Flaming Lips show, like there’s something bigger, greater, more out there that I am apart of.

Detroit – A Tourist Destination

Can you believe it?

New York Times ranks Detroit as a tourist destination!

Detroit, Michigan
A comeback city set to make good on its promise.

It’s amazing to think that one of my favorite t-shirts & slogans for our fair city throughout most of my life reads, “I’m so BAD I vacation in Detroit”.

When I was growing up, Detroit was notorious for fires, crime, murder, shootings, drugs and violence. Detroit was the murder capitol of the nation. Not exactly something to write home to Mom about. I know that our fair city still has a high murder rate per capita but our local authorities and people are working hard to change this. If you’re coming to town, just be smart, play it safe and keep your whits about.

The Dirty Show Detroit MI
The Dirty Show Detroit Michigan. Where erotica meets art, burlesque and in between.

 

In the 1980’s we used to drive in to the city for a Tigers ballgame in the now gentrified hipster center aka Corktown. We’d park in a secure lot with a guard, watch the game and hightail it out of Dodge afterward. When I permanently moved to the “Metro-Detroit” area in the 1990’s, my family would not even discuss renting an apartment in the city. It didn’t matter that I wanted to be near Wayne State University. I ended up in a small flat in the blue collar neighborhood of Hazel Park. (Which happens to be the home of the Detroit Free Press 2017 Restaurant of the Year, Mable Grey.)  After H.P., I moved around from suburb to suburb, (Troy, Warren, Grosse Pointe Park, Berkley)  before finally landing my permanent residence in Royal Oak.

I know, local “Detroiters” are calling me out right now for not actually living in the city proper. This used to be a big thing around here, suburbanites vs the city. As far as borders go, I don’t really care any longer, as long as we have a prospering economy in our area, that’s the really important thing.

Detroit Michigan Melissa Behring
Detroit’s River Walk, the Rennaisance Center and city skyline.

If you’ve seen Eminem’s 8 Mile film, you know that is the border road of the city vs the suburbs. Downtown Royal Oak is between 10 & 11 mile roads off Woodward. Our location puts me about 25 minutes from downtown Detroit. Perfect for anything I want to do in all of Metro Detroit. Situated at the junctures Woodward Avenue, I-696 and I-75 freeways, Woodward Ave is a popular corridor. It’s one of our cities main traffic spokes running out from the city center on the Detroit River out to Pontiac & beyond. Where I live, I can get anywhere in the Metro-Detroit area in under an hour, give or take the traffic. (Where else in the world can you live in a somewhat urban environment and do that?)

As we’ve traveled around the world peforming for Princess Cruises, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many people who have an opinion on Detroit based on the media coverage, or one brief experience they had a million years ago, or the state of the American auto industry. I started traveling and performing full time for a living in 2011. Just after the auto industry came to a head with the governmental bail out, the actual city of Detoit then went bankrupt in 2013. I listened to so many folks disrespect our city, talk bad about our hard working people. It really bummed me out to hear that people could make a decision without any first hand experience or actual witness facts.

Many people are aware of my obsession with UNESCO & their various heritage sites across the world. I love their compilation book that most recently had an 4th edition update published in 2014. You can check out UNESCO and their other publications online.

” In 2015, Detroit was named a Unesco City of Design. But 2017 may be the year promise becomes reality. The new QLine streetcar is expected to open in April, connecting the central Woodward Avenue corridor some 3.3 miles between downtown and the revived New Center area. It passes through Midtown, home to the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the entertainment-focused District Detroit, where a stadium opening this fall will be shared by the Detroit Red Wings and, in a return from the suburbs, the Detroit Pistons. — ELAINE GLUSAC”

Fisher Building Detroit New Center Area
Beautiful interior of the Fisher Building, site of the Fisher Theater, in the New Center area of Detroit.

I’m excited for the new streetcars. However, I’m equally frustrated by this because we have one short circuit tract downtown already… This one still does not really link the city and it still doesn’t get the suburbanites an easy non-automotive route to the inner parts of our city. Funny that so many of the places we’ve traveled across the globe the public transportation is so easily accessed and obvious to foreigners. Here, Metro Detroiters voted NO in 2016 to an increase in our taxes to help link all of our existing travel systems so that there would be easier public mass transportation. I’m still beside myself.

Yet, here we are, Detroit a top tourist travel destination for 2017.

Coming to Detroit? Want an insiders perspective? Want someone in the know who can show you around? I’m happy to help, just email or facebook me!

 

New Orleans A First Time Tourist

I know there are a million sites to look at for places to visit in New Orleans. NOLA has a charm, a fairy tale, haunted, distinctly unique Southern hospitality meets quasi-Parisian flair meets drunken fool and a Creole Voodoo Queen. What you ask am I talking about? Well, check out some of these places on your first trip to New Orleans to get a handle on the history and the depth of their culture.

First, just orient yourself with the city on a map. It sits on Lake Ponchatrain and Lake Borgne,and also is bordered by the Mississippi River as it flows into the sounds that start the Gulf of Mexico. When you get there you’ll be better oriented if you keep some of these boundry areas in mind.

 

NOLA map New Orleans Louisiana
New Orleans Louisiana

 

I know many of you don’t want to “look like a tourist” and are afraid you stick out like a sore thumb. Well, guess what, you do. Unless you really are from a place, or visit it frequently, you really truly are better off just doing some main tourist things to get a lay of the land in any new city. NOLA is no exception. I think that using the Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing bus is an excellent way to take in the major sights of any city in a short period of time. From our days of traveling, many of our major trips start with the Hop On Hop Off. Once you see what the main sights are offering you can choose to dig deeper at any of their recommended stops or you can just move on and ask the locals for their favorite haunts.

Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus
Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus a great value for seeing all the sights any major tourist area has to offer

The most famous neighborhood is the French Quarter.

It is an absolute must for any first timer. Some folks who visit NOLA for the first time never really leave this area. This is after all the center of all the drinking and debauchery most people find New Orleans famous for. The French Quarter is where the old Spanish architecture with the hanging baskets of ferns are best viewed. The French Quarter is where all the action in the streets happens. Anyone can have a parade in NOLA, just be sure to get a permit.

When you’re in the Quarter, there are some famous places that are must-see, must-eat, must-do’s in the travelers life.

  • Take a photo at Jackson Square – This is one of the most famous views in New Orleans.
Jackson Square New Orleans Louisiana
Jackson Square New Orleans Louisiana
  • Just up the street from Jackson Square you can visit the French Market where folks of all kinds are selling their wares, food, voodoo dolls, hats, leather goods, you name it and I’m sure someone has it for sale at there. Ask about the historical significance of the original French Market in NOLA.
Melissa NOLA French Market
Melissa back in 2011 in NOLA at the French Market
  • Rest your feet after all that walking and have a cup of the famous chickoree coffee and benjiet at the Cafe Du Monde.
Cafe Du Monde Coffee Benjeit
Cafe Du Monde
  • Hit Coops Place for some authentic Cajun Creole Cuisine.

 

Coops Place famous for Cajun Creole Food New Orleans NOLA
Coops Place famous for Cajun Creole Cusine
  • Check out Preservation Hall and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a real sampling of Creole influenced jazz music. I remember seeing this group for the first time with my Mom back in 1995 or 1996 in the hall before the Flood. Since then, I’ve been past the building, but support the group whole heartedly. Jake & I saw the Preservation Hall Jazz Group’s touring show for A Creole Christmas performing at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Their saxophone/vocalist hails originally from Detroit, Charlie Gabriel and his family has stong musical and jazz ties here in Detroit. (All I can say is lucky us, that means they come to my city frequently!)
Preservation Hall Jazz Band Music DSO NOLA
Preservation Hall Jazz Band performing at the DSO

 

  • Listen to the street musicians up and down Burbon and Royal Streets. A variety of styles of music can be heard throughout the city. It’s like every musical ghost has taken up residency in someones body
Just One of the Bands of Street Musicians throughout the French Quarter.
Just One of the Bands of Street Musicians throughout the French Quarter.
  • Check out the concert series at Louis Armstrong Park. (When we were last there were performances on Thursday evenings.)
  • Drink a Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s and sing along at the top of your lungs to the guys in the piano bar.
  • Visit a famous above ground cemetery like the St. Louis Cemetary #1,  #2 or #3. There are guides for hire in the city and online with the appropriate permits to get you in and also show you around. (This is still on my to do list for NOLA.)
  • Take a Haunted History Tour of the French Quarter, there are family friendly tours and ones for people who like bars and want to drink their way around town.

 

But there are some other neighborhoods that are also worth considering while you are in NOLA.

Garden District NOLA
Garden District & Other Neighborhoods in NOLA

First and foremost for me is the Garden District and Magazine Street. This is really where you get a feel for the locals. This area has huge mansions, gardens to die for, also small shotgun shacks with traditional NOLA paint jobs in the Lower Garden District had Jake and I just drooling. As far as how to get there, just hop on a Street Car and ejoy the leisurely paced friendly relaxing ride along St. Charles Ave. Hop off a Napoleon, Jefferson or the Audobon Park. There is so much to see and do in this area.

 

Atchafalaya Restaurant NOLA
Atchafalaya Restaurant NOLA

 

Walk toward the River to hit Magazine Street with all their great restaurants and quirky shopping. Or go the opposite direction and check out the mansions of famous NOLA residents like vampire author, Ann Rice.

 

On the edge of the Lower Garden District near the freeway, is a sweet little brewery in an old refurbished warehouse. They have chairs from 6th grade classrooms and old wire spools for tables. Every night they have a different food truck in the parking lot and loads of great brews on tap.

 

Courtyard Brewery NOLA
Courtyard Brewery Lower Garden District NOLA

We’ve covered New Orleans a few other times on Permanent Workation.