Follow:
Browsing Category:

Texas

    10 of the best cat cafes in the world

    I have a confession to make. I have a full blown cat addiction, and, I’m not even sorry. Those soft little ears, twitching tails and indifferent faces cast a spell that have us dashing around the globe and visiting enough cat cafes to have a shortlist of 10 of the best cat cafes in the world. All the while a sleepy little tabby cat snoozes at home in London…

    The Best Places Long Weekend in Budapest Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Once we’ve booked flights and perused hotels, Google searching for a cat cafe is one of the first things I do – and I’ve been accused of carrying out those 3 tasks in a slightly different order. It’s something I can neither confirm nor deny, but we do have a rather high hit rate of booking accommodation close to cat cafes. I’ll just leave that there, shall I?

    Read more

    Share:

    The best US road trip EVER – Texas and Louisiana

    Where do you even start with a road trip through Texas and Louisiana like ours? 

     15 days, 2 US states, 3 cities, 800 miles of driving + 1 internal flight, a serious amount of Texan Bar-B-Que, a swamp tour on a Louisiana bayou with gators and raccoons, music pouring from doorways, a small red car christened Bonnie (just because we could), 7 hotels (definitely a record for us, we usually like to make a single central base), a goat called Max, lasso lessons, 80s TV shows and as much Iced Tea as we could get away with.

    Texas and Louisiana Best Roadtrip Ever Adventures of a London Kiwi

    People keep asking why we chose Texas and Louisiana for a road trip, and it’s mostly down to fascination and the amazing live music scene in both Austin and New Orleans. There are big festivals in Austin, but not knowing the bands we decided that a trip outside the chaos of tourists flocking there would be the most fun – intentionally out of hurricane season – so we booked our direct return flights to Austin and began planning.

    Read more

    Share:

    Becoming a Cowboy at the Beaumont Ranch, Northern Texas

    Do you ever find yourself having a literal ‘pinch me’ moment? At the end of our fortnight we hit the tarmac, rolling out of the gleaming Dallas city centre – on our way back to Austin to sadly fly home – we headed for one last adventure to round out our Southern America roadtrip.

    We cruised along the long, smooth highways tucked in behind a semi-truck or two (how I preferred to drive whilst in the States that is slowly and smoothly) along dusty highway shoulders that definitely had a tumbleweed or two for decoration.

    Where to stay in Texas Beaumont Ranch Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay in Texas Beaumont Ranch Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The longer that I’ve been blogging, the better that I think our travelling choices are getting – and the more fun that the researching
    that we do becomes. However, this revelation flew quite out of the window when totally by chance I discovered that it’s actually possible to stay on a working Texan Ranch as a tourist and set about booking us into an accommodation experience, rather than just another beige hotel.

    But it wasn’t until we turned off Interstate 35 to a teeny tiny little town called Grandview, that the feeling we really were in Texas actually sunk in.

    Where to stay in Texas Beaumont Ranch Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Pulling our scarlet stallion into the Beaumont Ranch driveway I slowed the car, turned to Mr Kiwi, and made him pinch me to check that I wasn’t just dreaming.

    Where to stay in Texas Beaumont Ranch Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The Beaumont Ranch is a resort complete with spa, but first and foremost it’s a working cattle ranch of 800 beautiful North Texas acres, complete with a herd of Texas longhorns, horses, llamas, and other local wildlife. The ponds have otters and beavers playing in the waters and cheeky dogs gambol along the pond banks. We were even luckier than most because as it was an off-season Sunday we had the entire place to ourselves.

    Where to stay in Texas Beaumont Ranch Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay in Texas Beaumont Ranch Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Beaumont Ranch sits on the old Chisolm Trail, used in the post-Civil War era to drive cattle overland, from ranches in Texas to Kansas railheads. The 26 unique suites, rooms, guest cabins and homes are housed in a cute ‘Western Town’ reflecting Texas in the 1880’s when cowboys were driving their herds through the land.

    Unfortunately, I left my camera in the US and with it 98% of my photos of our cute-as-pie cabin, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Our cabin surprised us at the level of luxuriousness it contained – an enormous sleigh bed that we sank into with utter pleasure, plush fittings with an intentionally rustic charm and all of the mod-cons that a Wild West Saloon girl could possibly need.

    Where to stay in Texas Beaumont Ranch Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Checking in, we learned how in 1997 Ron and Linda Beaumont opened their dream, a Texas Guest Ranch, to reflect their love of the culture and the land of North Texas. Now the ranch is run by the children, grandchildren and the extended family of Ron and Linda, along with staff members from the local Grandview area ‘that feel like family’. We were treated so kindly by everyone we met along the way.

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Both of us being animal lovers, we were keen to explore the ranch – after a much needed nap obviously – so we embarked on a pre-dinner bimble around the large pond and stables to meet a few of our neighbors.

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    This, this is Max.

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    This mischievous goat actually thinks he’s a dog, and when the ranch hands realized how miserable he was penned up vs. how happy he was meandering around the farm ‘helping’ [read: hindering] them carrying out chores, they decided to let him roam around freely during the day. 4 years later every night he gets tucked away at twilight with the horses and let out each morning to roam on the range.

    Too cute for words. Also, at this point I was told that Mr Kiwi doesn’t speak Standard Goat, just Pygmy Goat – the things you learn after 8 years of marriage huh? 

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    This bony little catten melted our hearts. Chatting with our ropin’ instruction, a proper grizzly cowboy, he cradled the cat in his arms whilst telling us how they kept kitties in the stables as the best method of keeping the rat and mouse population at bay (their urine makes the horse’s hay grow a toxic mould) and that one of their cats had given birth to an intrigue [genuine collective noun] of kittens.

    One lady decided that the kittens wouldn’t have a good life (even though they are working cats, the soft-hearted, big burly stable guys feed them as well) and made off with the whole litter in her car one afternoon. Two weeks later, this emaciated kitten, identical to the litter came striding back over to the barn and ran straight up to her Momma. They think she used her cat GPS [not a genuine technical term] to make her own way home.

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Being rather lazy, for dinner we popped into town to get a few beers and a pizza – and this was the genuine Grandview High Street. Can’t get more Billy the Kid than that.

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Hauling our dinner back to the cabins, we spotted two seats at the end of the pond pier simply calling our names. Watching the sun break over the horizon as we toasted our trip (me with spiked Iced Tea) we had one of those travel ‘moments’ that we will never forget.

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Waking the next morning, we raced out of bed and over to the barns for breakfast, as we had a roping lesson in the calendar, taught by the ranch lifestock manager. Essentially, the cowboys would individually hook a longhorn beast by twirling a loop of good roper over their heads and snaring the cow’s longhorns. I was terrible at it, Mr Kiwi was a heck of a lot better, but it’s mostly because I got the giggles when we gathered an audience in the barn – the horses in their stable boxes, a couple of the cats and Max (the goat) who kept wanting in on the fun.

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Leaving our little home on the range was tough. Really tough, but us cowpoke have to learn to adjust our Stetsons and ride off into the sunset, right?

    Starry night, campfire light, and the coyote calls where the howlin’ winds will. 

    So I ride out to the ol’ sundown. I am just a cowboy, lonesome on the trail.

    Too right, Thin Lizzy.

     

    Where is the most unique place you’ve stayed on holiday?

    Share:

    US Roadtrip Diary: A serving of Dallas glamour and cowboys

    It really is true. Everything is bigger in Texas, from people’s hair to their pickup trucks.

    Dallas Glamour Texas Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    If we’re being totally honest we made our way across the northern
    section of the Louisiana/Texas border intent on uncovering a slice of JR
    Ewing’s family home city – for you younguns, Dallas was an 80’s TV
    show that even I was too young to watch, charting the wheelings and
    dirty dealings of a mega rich oil family in the world’s first uber soap.

    So, it was totally surreal to somehow find ourselves in our little car
    nimbly dodging school buses and the aforementioned pickup trucks, and
    scooting along the late afternoon traffic that cruised ALONG INTERSTATE-20 INTO THE GLEAMING TOWERS OF DALLAS CITY PROPER. Sorry for the caps, but we just got so darn excited. It’s just a shame we weren’t in the Ewing family chopper…



     
    Ridiculous, no? I still adore JR’s quote “Once you get rid of integrity, the rest is a piece of cake.”

    Dallas Glamour Texas Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Sue Ellen would have approved of our first stop – after dropping the car and our luggage off at our motel (a proper film-style roadside one with parking outside the room window and a surprisingly comfortable set of two Queen-sized beds) I calculated the best side of the city for a sunset cocktail, and we taxied our way over for a proper sun downer.

    Infinity pool + NZ wine + Dallas skyline at sunset. #swoon (and well deserved after navigating our way here from Louisiana and through Downtown traffic!) . . . #Dallas #Texas #nofilter #sunset #luxury #delicious #pastel #luxuryhotel #travelblogger #wineoclock #infinitypool #fun #texasmade #mytravelgram #DallasTX #mytinyatlas #thehappynow #flashesofdelight #TravelwithFathom #fathominstatrip #flashesofdelight #abmtravelbug #cntraveler #reflections #wine #reward #happyplace

    A post shared by Emma (@londonkiwiemma) on

    Following our cab driver’s advice, we followed the music towards an enormous restaurant called The Rustic where we sampled an array of craft beers whilst waiting for their live country music band and discovered the gigantic portions of true Texas hospitality. Ordering a snack, we were incredulous to discover a vat of onion dip and a giganto-family bag sized bowl of crisps which ruined our plans to try their burger.

    Dallas Glamour Texas Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Chatting with our waitress, she absolutely made our day by then bringing over a slice of the worlds biggest Texas-sized peanut butter and chocolate chiffon pie as a ‘Welcome To Dallas’ gift which stole our ever lovin’ honky-tonk hearts.

    Dallas Glamour Texas Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Sadly we only had one full day to explore the city, so early the next morning we arose with brunch plans on our minds.

    Dallas Glamour Texas Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Dallas Glamour Texas Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Well, actually, unbelievably it was Mr Kiwi who suggested
    that we brunch, and he fancied Cindi’s, a New York style Deli full of locals all catching up with their mates of a Saturday morning. Even the menu was enormous (modeled so beautifully by my un-manicured hands…)

    Dallas Glamour Texas Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    It. Was. Good. 

    No muss, no fuss and an everlasting pot of hot coffee that kept topping up our generous mugs.

     Dallas Glamour Texas Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Now, there is much controversy (or kohn-tro-ver-say however you want to say it) about “suffering” Instagram husbands who have to go on fabulous, exotic holidays with their partners, try delicious cuisines and learn to action flatlay in return for the long hours that their wives spend in front of a computer leaving them in peace, so for the sake of a happy husband (ok, and my own curiosity) we made our way to Dealey Plaza, the infamous site where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963.

     Dallas Glamour Texas Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Dallas Glamour Texas Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    To say that the morning we spent around the grassy knoll was surreal is an understatement.

      Dallas Glamour Texas Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    An understatement. Elected in 1960 as the 35th president of the United States, 43-year-old
    John F. Kennedy became the youngest man to
    hold that office. Born into one of America’s wealthiest families
    and parlayed an elite education and a reputation as a military hero into
    a successful run for Congress in 1946 and for the Senate in 1952. As
    president, Kennedy confronted mounting Cold War tensions in Cuba,
    Vietnam and elsewhere. His tenure wasn’t trouble-free but his assassination during a tour of the Southern States elevated him to a larger-than-life heroic figure.

    Dallas Glamour Texas Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Dallas Glamour Texas Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    (Side thought: I’m not the average travel blogger am I?)

    The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza was absolutely fascinating. Documenting the social history. personal relationships and a second by second play of Lee Harvey Oswald’s actions as he lined his gun up from the Texas School Book Depository sixth floor window, just as the President’s well advertised cavalcade swept around the corner. The rest as they say is history (shrouded in conspiracy) centered on a grassy knoll, with ‘x’ marking the spot in the middle of the busy road, annoying the locals who have to dodge excited tourists walking into the street.

    Dallas Glamour Texas Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    To somewhat lighten the mood up, we also had an afternoon coffee date lined up to meet the gorgeous Olya (The Siberian American) and her lovely boyfriend. Three hours later and a brilliant amount of advice later, we ran a few errands before moseying back to The Rustic to finally try their amazing burgers (and the delighted smile of our waitress the night before!)

    Oh, and we answered the question of whether Texan men really do wear their Stetsons with pride. They do. And they wear them on dates. Oh, America.

    (For more installments of our Louisiana road trip adventures click here.)

    Share:

    US Roadtrip Diary: Our Louisiana Plantation Stay

    Leaving behind the zooming traffic of the motorway, we turned from the busy I-110 to a gently curving US Highway 61 shouldered by dark trees and the occasional Mom and Pop business. The late afternoon sun broke over the horizon and our SatNav announced that were almost at our destination, the Butler and Greenwood Plantation.

    Having followed the Mississippi River upstate from New Orleans slightly past the historic town of St. Francisville, we steered Bonnie along the curving driveway arcaded with Spanish Moss draped Live Oak trees, parting to reveal the kind of house that only seems to appear on movies. A deep wraparound porch hugged the timber frame and the late afternoon sunshine dappled the lawn.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: We were excited guests of the Butler and Greenwood Plantation but all of my enthusiasms are very much my own…

    We were greeted by two of the real owners (a tabby and a grey cat respectively) before the porch screen opened and our friendly host for the evening peeped out. Welcoming our grateful selves to sink into her verandah sofa, Anne Butler gave us a map of the St. Francisville area alongside a few recommendations before telling us a short history of her beautiful family home passed through the generations, before arriving at the current iteration of B&B cabins in the grounds.

    Behind the main historic antebellum plantation home, arranged around the pond and pool, the old kitchen (separate from the
    main house due to the dangers of cooking over a real fireplace) and several cabins (some 1 bedroom, a few 2 bedroom) have been transformed into unique cottages complete with private double Jacuzzi, perfect for the hikers who summer in the Louisana and road-tripping tourists.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Visiting on the shoulder season, we could have had our pick of unique accommodation – the two bedroom 1796 Old Kitchen, complete with fireplace and porch swing…

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    …or the the Treehouse with a touch of hunting lodge luxe…

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    …but in the end we chose the simple beauty of the six-sided gazebo.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Overlooking the pond, our cabin featured nine-foot-tall antique stained glass church windows which set my heart a-flutter, a four-poster bed which was ridiculously comfortable and the double Jacuzzi which we sank into with relief. (In fact, I almost fell asleep in the tub, that’s how relaxed we became.)

    The best aspect of our whole stay though? Being prodded awake at sunrise by Mr Kiwi who (thanks to jet-lag) had discovered the golden sun glowing through our windows. Breathtaking.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    As the light gradually filled our room, we threw back the covers, popped our croissants into the oven, flipped the switch on a pot of coffee and poured a glass of orange juice for breakfast on our porch overlooking the still pond.

    Sadly packing up our belongings, we took one last stroll around the gardens and grounds, simply content to absorb the moment.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Oh how I wish we would have had more time to explore. In the fifty acres of landscaped ground Anne told us how the plantings are timed to almost always have something scented draping the air, Cast-iron urns and benches date from the 1850s plus there is a large wildlife and bird population – herons on the pond, white-tailed deer, fox, bobcats, and chipmunks.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Sadly we didn’t have the time for any hiking (bar the urban kind in a maroon Nissan) but we did manage to potter down to the charming Main Street of St. Francisville, unmarred by kitschy tourist “improvements” that run right down onto the banks of the
    Mississippi.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Our evening at the Butler Greenwood Plantation was definitely one of our Louisiana road trip highlights.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Share: