Friendly Advice // Chad

Name: Chad Curtis

Where do you rest your head at night? In the suburbs of the twin cities, MN.

Is that where you’re originally from? Nope, I was born in Michigan (so I’m told), raised in St. Charles, MO, and then moved to Ames, IA for college before I ended up in MN.

Best thing about the city you live? Anybody can find something to do. Whether its food, music, sports, lakes, beer, etc., there are a multitude of options for entertainment. The people up here are pretty great as well, so finding a friend to join you for all of these activities is also an easy task.

If you’re not originally from the city you currently reside, what is the best thing about your hometown? Going to Cardinals baseball games! If you haven’t been, then you’re missing out on one of the best things to do in STL. 😉

What’s one thing that tourists do that you wish they didn’t? Flock to the Mall of America and make traffic a nightmare. I do my best to avoid that area.

Best places to eat? That is a tough question. I’ve only scratched the surface of the MN food scene in my short time here, but from my experience Black Sheep Pizza is an option you can never go wrong with, and the pork banh mi from Lu’s Sandwiches is my current addiction.

Where all have you traveled? I’ve been to just about half of the states, and I’ve also been to Kenya twice and spent a night in Amsterdam. I plan on adding to that list in the near future.

What is your favorite place that you have traveled? Definitely Kenya! I went with Hopeful Africa, a non-profit that was started by a good friend and fraternity brother of mine, and had such an amazing experience the first time, I had to go back for round two.

List five places you want to travel to: It’s hard to pick only five, but here goes nothing– Barcelona, Prague, Australia, Italy and London.

Insert one of your favorite photos you’ve taken on your travels:

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Chad Curtis is a recent graduate at Iowa State University and when he isn’t traveling all around the US with his company, he likes to attend concerts and drink beer. Lots and lots of beer.

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Eats // Nordic Bakery

As I just booked my flights back to jolly ol’ Londontown for the Spring, I feel that it is only necessary to have another “Eats” London edition.

Every Saturday morning, I would wake up a lot earlier than my roommate and walk around the Marylebone High Street, which was very close to my school. I’d walk around, stopping in front of the Aesop store to drench my hands in orange scented lotion and watch the morning stragglers stumble their way home from the night before.

It was about a month in to my study abroad that I turned onto a street that I hadn’t been to on my walk before and smelled cinnamon in the air. I, thankfully, trusted my instincts (and my nose) and discovered what I think is the hidden cinnamon roll secret in London: Nordic Bakery. Which apparently isn’t as big of a secret as I originally thought at the time. While I was screaming it from the rooftops, everyone else already seemed to know about it. Boo.

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I’m going out on a limb and guessing that they put some type of addictive drug into the cinnamon before selling their rolls because I came back for more, every single week. I had to limit myself to once a week since I was terrified I would gain a hundred pounds at the rate I was stuffing those rolls in my mouth.

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If cinnamon rolls aren’t really your thing (are you a human?!), then I highly recommend their Berry Buns. Sweet rolls with blueberry or lingonberry jam? Delicious! Or, how about a Blueberry Upside Down Cake. Yes, you heard that right, Blueberry Upside Down Cake.

These options are, of course, served best with coffee and Nordic Bakery has what Special Agent Dale Cooper would call a “damn fine cup of coffee” and teas. Lots and lots of teas.

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I cannot wait to go back and sink my teeth into all the treats. And, no, I’m not just talking about the food, you should see the men who work there…

Buy their cookbook here.

Friendly Advice // Emma

Before I leave for a new place, I usually check in with friends who either a) live in the location I am traveling or b) have visited said location. A lot of my friends, hell most of them, are far more experienced when it comes to traveling, more than I will ever be. With all this in mind, I have come up with a small list of questions that I have sent to a number of my friends to answer for a monthly post (possibly more than monthly) of “Friendly Advice.” The first set of questions were answered by my best friend, Emma.

Name: Emma DiPasquale

Where do you rest your head at night? Cleveland, Ohio.

Is that where you’re originally from? Nope. I was born and raised in Pittsford, a town right outside of Rochester, New York.

Best thing about the city you live? The best thing about Cleveland is that you’re always discovering new things to do. It’s a very underrated city – we have a lot going on. There’s an awesome food and music scene which is always fun to explore.

If you’re not originally from the city you currently reside, what is the best thing about your hometown? One of my favorite reggae bands, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, originated in Rochester.

What’s one thing that tourists do that you wish they didn’t? I wish they didn’t feel the need to do “touristy” things. Find your own spots to explore and enjoy. That’s what makes traveling fun.

Best places to eat? This is a tough one. Cleveland is known as a “foodie” city so we have awesome spots all over. Some of my favorites are Greenhouse Tavern on East 4th St. and Great Lakes Brewery on Market Ave.

Where all have you traveled? A few states here and there. I’ve lived in London. Over there I traveled to Scotland, Ireland, Italy, France, Switzerland, and The Netherlands. I just recently got back from West Virginia, which was absolutely beautiful.

What is your favorite place that you have traveled? Another tough one. I’d have to go with Switzerland.

List five places you want to travel to: Germany, South Africa, Australia, Colorado and The Pacific Northwest

Insert one of your favorite photos you’ve taken on your travels: Photo taken in Interlaken, Switzerland)

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Emma is an undergrad at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. She is studying English and hopes to hike around in Alaska, similar to Christopher McCandless, whose real life adventures are documented in Emma’s favorite novel “Into the Wild.” 

Eats // The Breakfast Club

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Bright yellow against the dark buildings of D’Arblay St. in Soho London, The Breakfast Club is the place to stop for brunch if you’re ever in London. Don’t let the long (almost hour long) wait deter you because you will be majorly missing out if you don’t. Now with eight locations (including Brighton!), their Bloody Marys, mint tea, and French toast are mouthwatering delicious and the waiters aren’t that bad on the eyes either. One of the best parts about TBC? The signs outside the restaurants created by The Board Dude. Delicious and witty? Sign me up.

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My favorite locations are the ones in Soho and Hoxton. Hoxton is a much larger location with weekly game nights and movie nights set up in their own personal screening room. My friend Emma and I went to see “Right Said Fred,” sat in comfortable couches, and were given popcorn and Red Stripe for the duration of the film.

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My recommendations: banana and bacon French toast with a nice vanilla coffee, served by the gorgeous waiter at the Soho location.

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*Photos all taken with a very temperamental iPhone 4. Apologies for the quality.

The Sunday Tradition: Brunch St. Louis Style

Because my brother and his girlfriend are coming into town fairly soon, I’ve been doing some research on places to eat for breakfast/brunch. And by research, I mean I’ve been eating out a lot, expanding the waistband on my jeans, and discovering new places I have never been before. Below is a very small list of the brunch places that I have really enjoyed trying lately.

Rooster

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Classic, traditional, and oh-so-delicious. Owner Dave Bailey seems to always do it right with his extremely popular creperie, Rooster. Now with a second location on South Grand, Rooster has more drinks (including a wide array of Bloody Marys), more room (including a brand new patio) and even more meals added to the menu. While there is no better way to start your day (or afternoon) with their savory crepes, make sure not to miss out on their Rooster Slinger paired with the Sunburnt White Russian (dark rum, organic cold brewed coffee and coconut milk). Open daily from 8am-3pm. roosterstl.com

Brasserie by Niche

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Thanks to owner Gerard Craft’s love of French-style brasseries, St. Louisans can now experience traditional French cooking without leaving their hometown. With wonderful, classic dishes featuring fresh ingredients, Brasserie is a “must-eat” for brunch. Wonderful quiche with roasted chicken and spinach or the famous brioche French toast with lemon curd, there is no way you can go wrong at Brasserie. Also, make sure to venture outside of that mimosa or bloody mary you typically go for and try a Corpse Reviver. Made with gin, lillet blanc, cointreau, and lemon juice, it is definitely the cure for any hangover you may have. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-2pm. www.brasseriebyniche.com

The Scottish Arms

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While this may be a little outside of the classic brunch menu, The Scottish Arms should be added to your list of places to brunch. If the word haggis is making you run in the other direction, hold tight as there is no sheep stomach on the brunch menu (although, I’m sure they could make you some if you asked). Known for their Biscuit Breakfast made with the owner’s family gravy recipe that dates over 100 years and their sausage-wrapped Scotch egg that will cure any hangover, The Scottish Arms should be considered a new tradition for you on Sunday mornings. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 10am-3pm. www.thescottisharms.com

Half & Half

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While you might have to wait in line for awhile, brunch at Half & Half cannot be missed. The menu features many traditional brunch items, including delicious blueberry pancakes to the traditional-with-a-twist dishes, including pumpkin pancakes served with cinnamon honey butter and crème anglaise. Half & Half serves a variety of classic brunch cocktails like mimosas and Bloody Marys, but it is the coffee that you must try. There are many varieties thanks to Blueprint Coffee and you have the option to choose from espresso, pour-over, the standard drip coffee or cold brew. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 8am-2pm. http://halfandhalfstl.com

Doing New York (on a major budget)

If you’re like me, you probably don’t have tons of money to go travel, but still want to see as much of the world as possible. Now, I don’t have all the answers when it comes to traveling, so this is just what I did and how I saved money on going to a very expensive city.

Getting there:

When buying plane tickets, I tend to go into “incognito” mode and check Skyscanner, Google Flights, and Kayak. The reason for going incognito is that the websites use cookies to track what flights you are looking at, so when you go back to check prices at another time, they tend to bump up prices based on your past searches. When you go incognito, they tend to not be able to track your activity.

I bought my tickets to New York at the start of the year when ticket prices tend to drop (about a week after New Years), and I bought a roundtrip ticket to New York for $200.

Where to Stay:

If you have friends in New York, I highly recommend staying with them, obviously. If you don’t, a great option is Airbnb or Couchsurfing. You meet great people who tend to know the city well and can give you great ideas of where to go, eat, and walk. The best advice I can give for both is to research, research, research. Make sure they have photos, lots of recommendations, and email them to make sure you don’t get a bad vibe from them! Trust your gut and be safe. Remember, if you do agree to do Airbnb or Couchsurf, meet in a public place. You always have the option to say no.

However, if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of staying with a stranger, here is a list of fairly cheap places to rest your head for the night. . .or day:

Hostels

The Bowery House // Average nightly stay is around $55 with free wifi (which is definitely the most important thing to have in your hostel). A bar is located downstairs and a nice rooftop terrace that has incredible views of the city.

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The Local NYC // Average nightly stay is around $45 with free wifi, book exchange, laundry room, and board games. This hostel is very “Brooklyn” with great wood tables, exposed brick, and plaid everywhere.

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Hotels

City Rooms // Average nightly stay is around $120 (much higher than the hostels, but you get your own room!) Centrally located with unique doodles painted on the walls of each room, City Hotels is a nice place to stay if you’re on a budget.

The Jane Hotel // Average nightly stay is around $90. If Wes Anderson’s film “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was real, The Jane would be it. The interior is what I picture hotels used to look like before they became “hip” and modernized. The hotel is located right next to the Hudson and close to subway stops to get you anywhere you need in New York.

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MetroCard

If you’re going to be staying for close to a week, I recommend getting the 7 day MetroCard for $30. The card has unlimited rides for those 7 days on any subway and bus in New York.

Places to Eat

Chelsea Market // Not only does Chelsea Market have great clothing and book stores, but they have an array of foods for you to try (and a lot of the places have samples that you can scour!). I recommend Fat Witch Bakery for their brownies.

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Shake Shack // Oh, how I love me some Shake Shack. You can get a nice double burger and fries for around $10. However, shell out that extra $5 for a shake. You need one.

Murray’s Cheese Bar // My body hated me after eating the largest grilled cheese sandwich at Murray’s, but it’s worth it. I recommend the Murray Melt with a side of tomato soup for $12.

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Convenient Stores

When I was staying with a friend in Red Hook, we were starving and ran down to her local convenient store at the corner of her street. With boxes of cereal and kale chips in hand, we ordered an Everything Bagel with ham, cheese, turkey, lettuce, tomato, onions, and mustard toasted. It was $3! Look out for those kind of deals. They’re usually the best ones.

Free Things

A lot of people don’t talk about the free things that you can do while you’re in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

The High Line // The High Line used to be an old subway track that New York revamped with gardens, flowers, and restaurants. The views along the Line are incredible and worth climbing the steep steps to the top!

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Central Park// This is an obvious one. You can be like me and pretend you’re in “Friends” and do the handclap by the water fountains.

Brooklyn Brewery // Free tours on Saturday and Sunday at Brooklyn Brewery. It’s in such a hip part of Brooklyn that you’ll never want to leave.

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Bronx Zoo // On Wednesdays, entry is “pay what you want” and if you like zoos, it’s supposed to be a good one.

Museum of Modern Art // On Fridays, from 4-8pm, entrance to the museum is free. I highly recommend going early as it is bound to get packed!

Walking Tours // There are also a lot of free walking tours you can take to see the city. I love taking walking tours as they usually have interesting information on the city and I’ve always had a blast meeting people on the tours!

I hope this has been somewhat, if at all, helpful if you’re looking to travel to New York, but don’t have tons of money! I went for four days, and including airfare, food, and transport, spent $600.