Posts Tagged With: Texas

Art, Music and Mojitos – Part 1


Just Arrived

I had an opportunity to attend the Fort Worth, Texas annual Main Street Arts Festival on Saturday.  Yep, that’s me wearing a sweater.  I know it was at least 70 degrees but it was chilly for me.  I did manage to lose it later on and enjoy the beautiful Spring day in Texas.

It’s been many years since I’ve had the chance to attend this festival and I cannot believe how much it has grown.  What was once a great little festival for many local artists and craftsmen has now become the largest in the Southwest and the best in Texas featuring artists from all over the nation.  By noon on Saturday the crowds were almost impassible in some of the areas.  Here is a look down Main Street.

A Look Down Main

Upper Main

This festival is so much fun!  It is equally as fun for the kids as it is for the retirees.  Did I mention how fun it was?  Just check out these kiddos!

Check out the face paint!

The three stages set at various points through the 9 block area hosted live music with enough variety to capture audiences of all ages.  The performing arts stage even had everything from jazz to Cirque Zuma Zuma.

Great music everywhere we turned!

You can check out a couple of videos here on our Youtube channel.

It was sometimes hard to get motivated into walking back into the crowds to view the artists booth when the bands just played one great song after another.  While standing in the area of this stage, we saw that local restaurants had set up shop all around the plaza area.  The variety of restaurants featured was surprising since they were selling “street food” type servings.

My favorite shot taken at the festival was of this darling family.   As we were walking by them, the mom was trying to share a crawfish (mud bug) with little one.  He had a terrible look on his face that was clearly saying “Unh uh, no way!”  I asked if they minded if I took a picture of them for this post and the second I raised the camera the little one was all smiles and quite the ham!

Cutest Family at the Festival

Did I mention Mojitos in the title?  Of course I did!  My adoring husband said “Look honey, it’s a Mojito booth!”  He would never let me miss out on a yummy, fresh concoction on a warm day.

Mojito Mamma!

All in all, this was a fabulous day trip to the historic city of Fort Worth and I can’t wait to share with you my two new favorite artists.  I had the opportunity to visit with each of them for a while even with the crazy crowds.  Check out Part 2 of this series to meet them yourself.

Happy Travels,

Edwina

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Categories: Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Galveston, Texas – Not Just a Beach Destination


I had the opportunity last week to spend a couple of days on Galveston Island.  It has been many years since I visited and honestly, did not remember much except for the beach.  You know how I like to explore, so I want to share with you what I found while there.

I really only had one full day in Galveston.  My plan was to visit Moody Gardens to see the aquarium and the rain forest and share beautiful photos with you but I fell prey to the history bug.  Moody is a wonderful place to visit and the experience is one I would highly recommend to anyone visiting Galveston.  The Caribbean exhibit in the Aquarium Pyramid is well worth the admission price.  Being able to walk through an underwater tunnel to view the beauty of the ocean is just unbelievable.  On the next trip, I promise to provide photos of the awesomeness of Moody.

Most folks from Texas know that Galveston is a cruise port.  We watched two Carnival ships and one Royal Caribbean in port during our short visit.  The pier area is also home to an abundance of history and things to see and do.

Carnival Triumph

The cruise pier is right next door to Pier 22 where you can find the Fisherman’s Wharf restuarant.  We stopped in the first night there for dinner and the food was far beyond my expectations.  After trying the sampler appetizer platter (the Shrimp Kisses are a must!), I ordered the crab stuffed Tilapia in a lobster cream sauce.  My mouth waters now just thinking about it.  My husband ordered the shrimp combo and was pleasantly surprised with shrimp cooked perfectly and seasoned amazingly well.  Everything we ordered was fresh and incredibly delicious.  If you are ever there be sure to ask for Cody or Ali.  They were loads of fun, very attentive and knew the menu inside out.

Stuffed Tilapia from Fisherman's Wharf

Shrimp Combo Platter - (after a few bites)

Docked near Fisherman’s Wharf is the Texas Seaport Museum which is home to the tall ship Elissa.  You can see her from the dining room at Fisherman’s Wharf.  She is a sailing ship from 1877 and in beautiful condition.  Here is what she would look like in the open ocean.

Elissa courtesy of Texas Seaport Museum

Among the other exhibits, the museum hosts a film about the Elissa which is included in the admission price of $8 for adults, $5 for kids to 16 and free for children under 5.

Just a short walk further down the block is the Offshore Energy Center which contains the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Museum which may not sound very interesting at first but believe me, it is truly a great experience.  We all know that oil is being drilled offshore, right?  We have all heard about the disasters that have caused the moratorium on drilling too, but what I learned through this exhibit was truly, truly fascinating.  Many of the exhibits are interactive but the really cool part is to walk out the door and step onto the offshore drilling rig.  Realizing that men are out in the middle of the Gulf working on these things is pretty mind blowing when you are standing on it.  I really enjoyed the short tour and the information they provided about how drilling is done and what ecological steps they take in doing so.

Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig

After a brisk morning of exploring, we headed over to a local favorite, Mosquito Cafe, for lunch.  We ordered at the counter and stepped onto the patio for dining.  This is a super little bistro right up the street from the Strand area of downtown.  The food was fresh, very tasty and healthy.  Yes, healthy and tasty can be had in the same meal and they do it wonderfully at Mosquito.

Ok, you know I can’t go anywhere without checking out the shopping scene.  I cannot help myself!  My first stop was the beach scene along the seawall where you can find the always present souvenir shops and beach wear.  I have to admit, there were really cute clothing items in some of them including, Hi 5 located at 1320 Seawall Blvd and my new favorite, Wings Beachwear.  Wings had a nice assortment of casual clothing and really good prices too.

After leaving the beach area, we wandered back down to the Strand historic district located downtown.  Strand Street is located just one block from Harborside Drive which is where the cruise port is located.  The entire area here between Strand and Market streets are laden with boutiques, shops, restaurants and bars.  Here are a few pictures of my new favorite spots.

Large shop with beach wear and accessories.

La Rumba is a huge shop with tons of cute clothing items.  Be warned though, the prices in the historic district are slightly higher than the exact same product in the beach stores.  The benefit is that the offerings, while some of the same, are broader with more upscale lines.

My new favorite boutique. "Yaga"

I LOVE the store pictured above.  The name is Yaga – Mo Betta Threads.  This store has the cutest line of women’s clothing.  The store is small but the lines they carry are perfect for cruising, casual yet refined.  Perfect!

All in all, the stores in the Strand area are a great place to browse, especially if you are looking for that little something extra to take on your cruise.  I saw some brands here that I have not seen anywhere else.

If you tire of walking the historic district, you can always take a ride.

Carriage on Strand Street

The other place I want to share with you about Galveston is the Seawolf Park, named after the Seawolf submarine lost in WWII.  The park has several areas for families, but the main attractions are the USS Cavalla SS-244, a WWII submarine and the USS Stewart, only one of two suriving destroyers.

Courtesy of Seawolf Park

USS Stewart

The park offers access to the submarine and destroyer for a nominal donation.  I have to tell you, I have developed a totally new respect for the sailors whose tours of duty were aboard submarines.  I am not in the least bit claustrophobic but I cannot even imagine living in the tiny, cramped surroundings inside of them for a day, much less for weeks or months on end.  There comes a solemnity during the tours of these two vessels when you start to realize these were the homes of many, many soldiers during war time.  Let us not forget that our freedom has a price and those who pay it for us deserve our respect.  Needless to say, if you are in the Galveston area, I highly recommend taking time to visit this park.  Your appreciation of our men and women in the armed forces will amplify after this short excursion.

After our day of exploring, we went to dinner at Gaido’s restaurant which has been in the same place on the seawall since 1911.

Gaido's Seafood

You cannot miss this sign but in case you don’t see it, just look for the giant crab right next to it.

Gaidos Giant Crab

Seriously, please don’t let the exterior of the building keep you from trying this restaurant.  It looks a little run down but once you walk in, the atmosphere is warm and inviting.  Everything we had was wonderful, I ordered the soft shell crab and my husband had the seafood platter.  The wait staff was very knowledgeable about the menu and the fish in particular.  It is definitely a place we will revisit.

As I left Galveston, I made a mental note to visit again soon.  I will be cruising out of Galveston a couple of times next year, so I’m planning to squeeze in another day or two.  If you are cruising or just heading there for a little beach time, let me know.  I’d love to share more with you.

Happy travels,

Edwina

Categories: Beaches, Cuisine, culinary, Destinations, Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Birth of Passion


Merriam-Webster defines “passion” in part as:  intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction.  I believe one’s passion is a gift from God and I believe passion starts deep within one’s heart for some thing, some place or some activity that begins as a small kindle and with nurturing (and sometimes without) grows to a raging fire.  It’s the one thing that drives you or if you have suppressed it, the one thing that keeps rearing it’s head to be seen. That is how my passion for travel began, slowly.

In my early childhood years, I was bitten by the travel bug.  I never recognized it for what it was, only that I loved being on the road, in new places, meeting new people, experiencing new things.  I was often the child who was described as being the one with “ants in her pants” or “restless”.  Some things never change, I guess.  I still get very antsy when I don’t get out on the road for a while.

My mother is a retired school teacher who taught a vocational office education course.  Each summer she was required to spend a week in training. Those trainings took place in cities all over Texas and since she would be gone a week we went with her.  That, of course, meant that Dad would have to keep us entertained for an entire week in a new city each summer while Mom was in class.  You can only spend so much time in the pool at the hotel so every morning we would start out for breakfast and then off we went to explore and have some fun.  I discovered early on, that I had no favorite cities because each was unique and offered experiences worthy of being a favorite.  I’ve come to realize it was the adventure that mattered the most.  Travel and exploration of new places was firmly taking root in my heart.

Once, while in Corpus Christie, we had only been there two days when we were rushed out of town due to an impending hurricane.  That was devastating for me not because I missed out on seeing Corpus (it wasn’t our first time there) but because I spent all year saving up money to buy one of those awesome and often trashy souvenirs.  After much complaining and whining, Dad allowed for a quick stop for us to buy something to commemorate our vacation “that never happened”.  Photography in the 70’s was not what it is today.  As kids, our souvenirs were often the catalyst for recalling the memories we made.

One of our summer sojourns sent us to El Paso.   For those of you who don’t know Texas, from El Paso it is just a short skip over to Juarez, Mexico.  Ah, my first trip to the land I came to love!  Dad took us across the border to shop. Yes, I was a shopper even back then.  I still have the silver ring and leather purse I bought on that trip.  Back at that time, there was dog racing there also.  Mom tried to always take one day off to spend with us while we were there.  The dog races was part of her “fun time” with us.  I don’t remember much about the dog races, I was much more into horses but while sitting in the restaurant/bar area I noticed a lady who had a drink with an olive in it.  Man, did I want one of those!  I practically begged Dad to get one so I could have the olives.  Oh, the innocence of a child!  He finally relented and asked the waiter to bring me some olives.  I didn’t know until much later that I was begging him to order a dirty martini!  El Paso was great but now, Mexico, THAT was the place to be!  The sounds, the people, everything was foreign to a child and yet so very exciting.

For many years, all I knew of Mexico was the border towns but I was fascinated by everything about it.  Border towns back then were not the dangerous meccas they have now become.  It was a safe place for families to cross over and experience another culture.  As a child, I vowed to explore Mexico from border to border.  With that, my passion truly took root in my heart.  I explored in books what I could not explore in person.  I’m still a road-trip kind of girl and love to get in a car and just GO!  One of my dream trips is to load up a Jeep with my husband and dog and travel Mexico from coast to coast.  The coastlines are beautiful but so much culture and adventure awaits throughout the interior.  Just what my “restless” spirit needs!

You might say that travelling by auto does not compare to getting on a plane and saving hours and hours of travel time, but have you ever wondered what you missed by jumping on that plane instead of heading cross country?  I always wonder…. what did I miss?  what’s down there?  where are we now?

Most who know me well, were not surprised when I went into the travel industry.  One girlfriend even asked “what took you so long?”. It was not something I planned.  I found myself with free time after selling our business and the opportunity came up.   Sometimes the best experiences in life are those you do not plan for.  That, my friends, is my passion.  I wish to pass my love for travel onto you and love helping someone’s travel the best it can be.  Please share your passion or comments below.  I would love to hear from you.

Happy travels,

Edwina

Categories: Destinations, Mexico, Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Welcome to Yapa Now Travel!


If you already read the About page, you know I love my job as a travel agent and I absolutely love Mexico.  I fell in love with Mexico on my first visit.  The warm ocean breeze and the beautiful flora and fauna in the Riviera Maya area was breathtaking compared to our little slice of paradise in Texas.  This soon became my dream destination spot.  I vowed to return over and over to explore and discover more of this incredible country.  Long after witnessing a beautiful wedding beach side and experiencing as much as possible, I had an opportunity to become a travel agent and share my knowledge and experience with others. I jumped at the chance.  I now specialize in Mexico and romantic travel including destination weddings, honeymoons and weddingmoons.

There are as many different types of vacations in Mexico as there are the world over.  With everything from beach destinations, Mayan ruins to explore, culinary tours and luxury resorts to destination dream weddings, Mexico has it all.  The Mexico tourism board has created a motto stating “Mexico  The place you thought you knew.”  I always tell my clients what an incredible adventure it is, no matter what the destination or purpose and upon their return they admit, it was not the Mexico they had heard about.

Yapa Now Travel – Because you deserve a little something extra.

Edwina Parker

Categories: Beaches, Destinations, Uncategorized, Weddings, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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