S2E6: Midwest Is Best

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Flyover country? More like extended layover country! At least that’s what Kathy and Ines argue on this week’s episode about some of the Midwest’s greatest hits. The ladies share their love and travel tips for Milwaukee, St. Louis, Springfield and quaint lake towns, wax poetic over the region’s geographic beauty and cultural diversity, and discuss why it’s misunderstood. Now, more than ever, it is time to rediscover the secrets and treasures of this underrated travel destination.

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Happy Thanksgiving

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Last year was a rough one for my family. On Thanksgiving, my parents and I found ourselves in Minneapolis as my grandmother was recovering from surgery. As we searched for a place to eat lunch, my Dad announced that he would go anywhere that offered turkey and gravy. Some stuffing would be nice, too. This place ended up being Old Country Buffet.

OCB, as it is affectionately known in my family, is a buffet-style restaurant that is often the butt of all-you-can eat jokes, but it holds a special place in my heart. We went here a lot when I was a kid because it was affordable, it was filling, and the inevitable carb-induced food comas would guarantee my parents a peaceful ride home from my brothers and me. We visited the restaurant frequently during my older brother’s teenage “bottomless pit” years and my little brother once received a round of applause from dessert-loving patrons when, at six years old, he miraculously repaired the broken soft serve ice cream machine.

We pulled into the parking lot and the fluorescent lights of the dining room beckoned through the frosted glass windows. Once inside, the dewy iceberg lettuce winked at us from the salad bar and the cubes of red Jell-O quivered in anticipation. But something about this OCB was different, and it wasn’t just the cheerful staff and the immaculate restrooms.

We had walked into the United Nations of Thanksgiving. Women in gold-threaded saris went back for second helpings of sweet potatoes. Somali families conversed over bland mac and cheese. Kids speaking Spanish laughed as they threw bread rolls at each other. Multiple generations sat together discussing how thankful they were to not be in a kitchen on this holiday. It was one of the most effortlessly integrated places that I’ve ever been, so much so that it almost seemed staged, like a brochure for a liberal arts college.

A sense of comfort and ease and community permeated the room, like the steam rising from the warming trays beneath the tubs of mixed veggies. In this space, we were all Americans. After all, what is more American than enormous vats of mashed potatoes, slabs of ham sweating under heat lamps and barrels of all-you-can-eat chocolate pudding? We were in the land of plenty – and that land was covered in cranberry sauce.

In our current political climate, with potential policy decisions based on hate, racism and fear mongering, this memory is especially poignant because at the end of the day, we all just want to sit around a dinner table with our families, whether they’re biological or of our own design. We want them together and we want them safe. And what stuffing has brought together, let no man tear asunder.

Happy Thanksgiving!

– Kathy

S2E5: Insider’s Guide to Chicago: Winter Edition

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Photo courtesy of Ted Sullivan. Used under Creative Commons license.

Visitors to Chicago in the winter will not be disappointed. Your favorite Chicago locals, Ines and Kathy, discuss their tips and tricks for making the most of the Windy (Snowy) City. We’re not going to lie – they’re mostly eating ramen and drinking, but also include our faves in comedy, theatre, and sports. Listen on Podbean or iTunes.

The places and activities we mention in the episode are listed after the jump. 

Want more local recs for Chicago? Check out the past summer episode that inspired this one here

To get all our episodes, subscribe on iTunes (and leave a review if you love us!) or follow us on PodbeanSign up for our newsletter for monthly updates on our latest episodes, news and travel tips.

 

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Coming to America

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My sister and I were very inspired after our visit to the Statue of Liberty

Listeners probably know that I’m from Peru. They probably also know that I had a pretty nomadic upbringing that had me traveling from city to city, country to country and sometimes continent to continent. I don’t know, though, if I’ve ever shared how I came to settle in Chicago and by extension the US.

So here it is: I’m an immigrant. Not my parents, not my grandparents. Me. I am your friendly neighborhood immigrant and I’m going to tell you how I ended up on these shores.

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S2E4: How to Plan a Trip From Scratch: Accommodations

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Resort, hotels, boutique hotels, hostels, AirBnbs, couchsurfing…with so many options, how do you choose the perfect accommodation for your trip? On our latest installment of our “How to Plan a Trip from Scratch” series, we talk where to stay, when to stay and how to book it. Kathy and Ines discuss their preferred accommodations, give you tips on how to find the best one, describe the perfect host or guest, and also share their favorite hotels around the world and the nightmarish ones they’ve encountered.

Listen to our episode here.

Catch up on the rest of our “How to Plan a Trip From Scratch” series:

Getting Airplane Tickets

Budgeting

Choosing a Place

To get all our episodes, subscribe on iTunes (and leave a review if you love us!) or follow us on Podbean.

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Kathy Listens to Podcasts

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Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my own podcasting responsibilities that I miss out on listening to the great audio that other people are creating. So this October I challenged myself to listen to 31 new podcasts in 31 days. My only caveat was that I’d try to focus on podcasts hosted by or featuring women and people of color, since podcasting, like the majority of the world, is dominated by white men.

I’ve listened to 15 different podcasts this month, sometimes listening to multiple episodes of the same one if it grabs my attention, and I now realize that 31 shows was a rather lofty goal. Fortunately, I’ve found some gems that have made their way into my regular rotation, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite discoveries.

(PS: If you know of any great travel podcasts – or just great podcasts – leave them in the comments. Perhaps it’s my own ego, but I just can’t find any travel shows I really love.)

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S2E3: XX Will Travel LIVE! Presents “Out of Place”

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Nothing more out of place than evening gowns in your cozy neighborhood bookstore. 

We recreate our first ever live recording of our episode “Out of Place”. Listen from Kathy, Ines, and friends of the podcast stand-up comedian Sameena Mustafa (co-host and producer of Simmer Brown) and Danette Chavez (Assistant Editor at The A.V. Club). Stories include feminist awakenings during a Spring Break trip, being a “pocha” on a road trip to Mexico, a short-lived love affair with surfing in Brazil and finding oneself and perhaps love in India and Paris.

Listen to our episode here.

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