Restaurants · travel

Day 20 & 21 of USA Road Trip – Houston, Texas 

The drive from New Orleans to Houston was messy. As I was driving, small splats of what looked like creamy liquid started hitting the windscreen. ‘What IS that?’, I asked Ewan. He told me they were bugs! Gross. When we stopped for petrol, we wiped off all the bug splats, only to have the car covered again 10 minutes later. We stopped at a Sonic Drive-Thru for lunch, and when I rolled down the window to place the order, there they were! Black bugs about the same size as flying ants were everywhere, and trying to get into the car! They were always attached in pairs which made them look so creepy. I freaked and had to park up and hide in the car while Ewan went to place the order. 

As soon as we had wifi, I googled to find out what they were. LOVE BUGS! They are only around twice a year and come in swarms. They can also take the paintwork off your car if you don’t clean them off quick enough! What a pain in the arse. Hoping we don’t get too many now that we’re out of Louisiana. 

When we finally got to Houston, we headed into town for a walk (free parking on Sundays!). It was super quiet everywhere except for Discovery Green, a big space with lots of kids play areas and a water fountain that you could run through. We got some gorgeous views of the city skyline from Tranquility Park (which was more like Tramp-quility Park to be honest) and checked out some huge fish at the aquarium. 


For dinner, we stopped at Pappas BBQ. They have loads of gluten free options, including almost all of their meats and sides, but make sure you tell them not to add bread to your plate! I went for the half chicken with green beans and yams (sweet potato). It was HUGE and the sides were delicious, but the chicken was a little… soggy? It tasted like what I imagine canned chicken to taste like, and that is obviously not a compliment. Ewan’s pork looked good though, so perhaps I just made a bad choice! 


We decided that we didn’t need to head back into Houston the following day, as we’d basically seen everything we’d wanted to see. Instead, we decided to drive to nearby Galveston for a beach day. It was really relaxing and a nice change of pace from the last few action-packed weeks! Once we were bored of the beach, we drove back to the hotel and chilled out by the pool. We tested out our underwater camera and it worked! 


For dinner we headed to the Mexican restaurant next to our hotel, Tampico. It was really random but actually pretty good! They give you the option of corn or flour tortillas so a lot of dishes can be made gluten free on request. I ordered the veggie medley because I definitely haven’t been eating my greens recently, but washed it down with an enormous Mango Margarita #balance. 


Today we only have a 3 hour drive to San Antonio. Looking forward to seeing more of Texas, but hoping not ALL Texas drivers are as crazy as the ones around Houston. It’s no wonder that so many of the cars we’ve seen on the road have dents in them! 

Restaurants · travel

Day 18 & 19 of USA Road Trip – New Orleans 

One things for sure, New Orleans is a very cool city. Definitely not temperature-wise though, it hit 35 degrees this weekend! Our first night in the city was a bit of a bust, and I’m SO glad we had the whole day today to explore the city too, otherwise I wouldn’t have rated it very highly . Our uber dropped us off in the French Quarter, and our first stop was the famous Bourbon Street. The middle of the road was in construction, so you had to walk along two tiny, dirty sidewalks either side of the construction. The locals down this street were really unfriendly; one man even told us to ‘go back to wherever you came from’ as we walked past! Definitely not a great greeting to the city. We turned a corner and a group of old, seedy men were stood there with strings of beads around their necks, shouting at girls and saying that if they flashed them their boobs, they would get some beads. I’d heard about this New Orleans ‘tradition’ before , but didn’t imagine it being quite so gross in real life! I promptly lifted up my top…. JOKE. Never ever.

Then came the fun of finding somewhere to eat for dinner. I wrongly assumed that this would be easy because Southern food tends to be mostly seafood and rice dishes. It was a bloody nightmare – almost nowhere in the area had gluten free options, and the ones that did didn’t have dairy free options for Ewan! We ended up in a random cafe having a plain, boring salad. 


In contrast to last night, today has been amazing and we’ve seen a much better side to the city. We purchased an all day travel pass (very fancily named the ‘Jazzy Pass’) for only $3 which included all trams and buses. We started at the beautiful Louis Armstrong park, and then avoiding Bourbon Street, went back to the French Quarter and wandered the pretty streets, checking out all the praline stores (mainly the ones that advertised free samples..) and soaking up the sun. We did our research last night and found an amazing restaurant called Green Goddess that offers both gluten and dairy free meals. All the seats are outside but the tables have umbrellas so you still get some shade. I went for the grits, eggs, kale and pork dish – my first ever grits experience! I loved it. Ewan’s Indian Pancake filled with a vegan curry was also gluten free and tasted amazing. Would definitely go back! 


After lunch we headed along the Riverfront and wandered around the outlet stores for a bit of air con. In New Orleans, you’re allowed to drink in the streets as long as your alcohol is in a ‘to-go’ cup, so we purchased a couple mango and strawberry frozen daiquiris to drink on the way to the tram stop. We took the tram all the way to Audubon Park with the intention to have a walk around, but sadly the tram didn’t have AC, so by the time we arrived we were sweating horrendously and the idea of walking around a park in the 35 degree heat was not appealing. Instead, we sat like an elderly couple on a bench watching a water fountain for about 15 minutes before getting back on the tram to town. Wild. 


The rest of the day was spent hopping between air conditioned coffee shops until it was time for dinner. We went to Juans Flying Burrito for a tasty, quick, coeliac friendly meal. Tomorrow is another driving day to Houston, Texas! It’s going to be even hotter than New Orleans, so I’d better invest in a handheld fan!!! 

Restaurants · travel

Day 16 & 17 of USA Road Trip – Memphis 

The 5 hour drive flew by thanks to the hilarious podcast ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’, and we were checking into our dodgy motel before we knew it. The room stank of weed and there were a couple suspicious stains on the wall, but we had arrived in Memphis! Time to go and explore. 
The hotel shuttle dropped us off on Beale Street, aka party central. It’s basically a geriatric version of Nashville, or at least it was when we were there – most of the patrons were over 60 and wearing rhinestoned Elvis shirts. To be fair, this could be because it’s the 40th anniversary of Elvis’s death this week! There were also a lot of motorbikes there for no apparent reason. 

We had a short wander around town before heading to dinner at Charles Vergos Rendezvous BBQ restaurant. EVERYTHING on the menu is gluten free except the bread, but make sure you tell your server that you’re gluten free as most of the meats are usually served on top of a slice of bread, even though it doesn’t say that on the menu. I went for the ribs with pork shoulder. The ribs were a little ‘meh’ but the pork shoulder was amazing! 


We went for a post dinner walk along the riverfront and had a drink while watching the sunset. The below bridge locals refer to as the Dolly Parton Bridge. I’ll let you guess why yourselves. 


The next morning, we headed into Memphis again to explore. We made our way to the Peabody Hotel for 11am to watch the ducks. For anyone who didn’t watch my Instagram video earlier, here’s an overview of what went down: 5 ducks come out of an elevator, waddle along a red carpet to an upbeat song, go up a set of red steps and into a fountain, where they spend the rest of the afternoon. It’s weird but I loved it. 


After the Peabody we walked to the Pro Bass Pyramid. For my UK readers, a Pro Bass shop generally sells hunting gear, weather wear, fishing apparatus…. etc. We had no need to go to this store but had been told that it used to be a sports arena so we were intrigued. If we ignored the hunting stuff, it was actually pretty cool. They had a bowling alley, a restaurant, a museum, a fudge shop and various aquariums. 


We stopped for lunch there and I was pleased to find out that they did a coeliac friendly burger with a gluten free bun. However, when it arrived, it was just a burger sandwiched between two freezing cold, rock solid slices of gluten free bread. It’s not going to win any burger awards any time soon, but I was happy to have options! 


After lunch we headed across to Mud Island Park, a very cool space that’s definitely worth checking out. You can walk back to town via the pedestrian bridge, which offers pretty great views of the city. It’s also completely free!


On our way back to town, we walked past a barber shop. Ewan’s been wanting to get his hair cut for a while, so we decided to go in while we had some free time. Ewan explained that he just wanted a 2 on the back and sides and the top trimmed a tiny bit. The barber seemed to understand and got to work. The first red flag was that the barber had Ewan facing away from the mirror, so Ewan had no idea what was happening to his hair. The second red flag was when he started shaving a crap load of hair off the top of Ewan’s head. I adopted the British plan of attack, which is to be very passive aggressive in the hope of controlling the situation. ‘Looks great but that’s probably enough off the top now?’ ‘Ewan, do you think you’d better take a look in the mirror?’ When these were ignored and he was still sheering Ewan like a sheep, I actually went over to the barber like some kind of overbearing pageant-Mom, and stopped him to say that he was taking too much off. Ewan caught sight of himself in the mirror and with a panicked expression, agreed that no more should be cut off. ‘Okay, I’ll just neaten up the front’, says the Barber, a second before he takes another 2 inches off. When he started working on Ewan’s beard, I had to avert my eyes, worried I’d be leaving the store with a 12 year old boy. THANKFULLY Ewan was a great sport about it and I actually think he looks gorgeous with her new surprise hair do! Proof of this below.


We HAD to go for an alcoholic drink after that, before heading home for an early night as we have a long drive to New Orleans tomorrow! Night all. 

Restaurants · travel

Day 15 of USA Road Trip – Atlanta 

I wasn’t expecting big things from Atlanta, but we had one of the best days there! It started with a stop at Stone Mountain Park, which apparently we had planned but I had completely forgotten about… so it was nice to have a ‘surprise’ thrown in to our insanely organized trip. Stone Mountain Park is basically just one ENORMOUS stone that you can climb, take a cable car up or get a railroad all the way around the base. 


We took the cable car up, getting a good view of the carving in the rock during the journey. Once at the top, we found out that there were only about 30 people up there, and as it’s such a huge area, we basically had it to ourselves! Lots of great photo opportunities.


We then headed to our hotel, which was another Motel 6 and we were dreading it after the last experience. Thankfully, this one was SO much better than Charleston and the lovely concierge, Ben, received bonus points for describing us as a ‘very-well mannered and professional couple’. Frankly, we don’t hear that enough. Our next stop was the World of Coca Cola, which as a die-hard fan of Diet Coke, I was so excited for! It was as excellent as I had imagined. The final room at the attraction was a tasting zone, where you could try over 100 different sodas from all over the world. All the fancy flavoured fantas were my favourite, especially the Apple Kiwi Fanta from Thailand. 


Now it was time for the event I had been waiting for all day…. DINNER! We went to my ultimate favourite chain restaurant, Legal Sea Foods. It’s a seafood restaurant that we found on vacation in Washington DC, and make a point to go to it whenever we’re in a city that has one as it’s just SO good for coeliacs. We shared the garlic and pepper calamari to start (I say shared but Ewan found it too garlicky so I basically ate the whole thing myself) and I ordered the spicy fish and chips for main. You’d never know that the batter was gluten free, it’s delish! 


We ended the evening with a walk around Centennial Park and the downtown area before heading back to the hotel. Now, after a long day of driving, we’ve just arrived in Memphis for a 2 night stay! Excited to see what we get up to. 

Restaurants · travel

Day 13 & 14 of USA Road Trip – Savannah 

When I told my friends that the stop I was most excited about on the road trip was Savannah, they all looked at me like I was a little bit odd. But honestly, this place is BEAUTIFUL. I’m not sure I’ve ever been anywhere quite like it before. There are stunning, greenery filled squares littered all over the city, and dozens of cute seafood spots. But yes, Cece, you were right. It’s bloody hot. 35 degrees while we have been here! 

On our drive from Charleston to Savannah, we stopped off twice on the way for breaks. Our first stop was Beaufort, a sleepy little town on the river. We had a little walk along the waterfront then hopped back in the car to drive to Hilton Head Beach. Hilton Head Beach was huge, and very busy on a scorching hot Sunday. We had a couple virgin cocktails on the beach. 


When we finally arrived in Savannah, we checked in to our hotel and were relieved to find it clean and spacious. We even have a chaise lounge! Much better than the last few places. We drove into Savannah as it’s free parking on weekends, and wandered around Forsyth Park. I’ve literally spent hours googling this place, so it was weird to see it in real life! Totally lived up to my expectations.


We found a cute little book themed chocolate shop to have a pre-dinner snack (normal for piggies like us) and then headed to Fire Street Foods for dinner. I had a delicious pad Thai but it was ENORMOUS. This is a negative point for me because I am incapable of not finishing a meal… despite knowing that I was full 20 minutes ago. I ate the whole thing, regretted it immediately and spent the rest of the evening as a comatose zombie. 


Of course, because I am a bottomless pit, I awoke the next morning starving. We had the free breakfast at the hotel (meaning that as a coeliac, my options are a banana and then cream cheese eaten alone with a spoon…) and then went for a swim in the hotel pool. We then got the bus into town and explored the waterfront, stopping for lunch at The Shrimp Factory because we were lured in by their $5 cocktail signs. I had 1lb of crab legs (again an example of excessive eating) that took me over an hour to eat. They were SO good though. Ewan helped me out with a few and enjoyed them – his first ever crab legs! 


After lunch, we headed into downtown to browse some shops, and ended up in the Savannah Bee Company. Again lured in by alcohol, we did some Mead tasting. Mead is essentially a wine made out of honey and it is sadly not as nice as it sounds. We tried 5 different meads and I wasn’t a big fan of any of them. 


We were on our way to check out a church in the southern part of the city when the heavens opened. We rushed for cover under a bus shelter and then it started to thunder. Now, I will say first that I recently read an article about a lady who got hit by lightening and eventually died of her injuries, and it kinda freaked me out a little. I did not, however, expect to react like a 2 year old and completely overreact. We ran for ‘safety’ to a nearby building while I sobbed uncontrollably, screamed at every crack of thunder and almost gave myself a panic attack. Thankfully the only audience to this show was Ewan, and I am happy to say that he has not dumped me yet. Let’s hope we don’t get any more thunder and lightning soon…. 


Off to Atlanta tomorrow morning and we had dinner reservations at my favourite restaurant in the world. Excited is an understatement! 

Restaurants · travel

Day 11 & 12 of USA Road Trip – Charleston

Charleston is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited, full of history and gorgeous views at every turn. We started off our visit to Charleston at Boone Hall Plantation. From the moment we drove down the pecan tree lined entrance, I was entranced. 


The whole place was incredibly interesting and the show about Gullah culture was a highlight. For movie fans, The Notebook was filmed here, and it’s also where Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds got married! 

From there, we checked into our motel. As we we’re going in the front door, a lady approached us. ‘Are you staying here?’.. ‘Yeah’.. ‘Good luck’. She was a wise woman. Our ‘room’ looked like a prison cell and smelt damp. The floor was filthy, there was no wifi and I found dead skin in the bed sheets. URGH. We slept on top of the sheets and now have a very bad relationship with Motel 6. 

The following day we headed into Charleston on the bus and walked around the whole city exploring. Everything was beautiful and they have a great shopping street with everything from Chanel to H&M. The pineapple fountain at the Riverfront is a must see.


We wanted to try some Southern Food for lunch, so headed to Hyman’s Seafood restaurant. They have a dedicated gluten free menu with loads of options, including 6 different ways of preparing your chosen seafood. I went for the Catfish cooked with Cajun spices and Sweet Potato Soufflé and it was SO GOOD. They also had homemade hand scrubs in the restrooms which you could buy… I was close to doing so but refrained as there’s literally no space left in the bloody car. 


In the evening we drove to see Angel Oak Tree, which was HUGE and free to visit, but it started to thunder so we had to rush back to the car after only taking a couple pictures. Definitely not a good idea to be standing underneath that tree when lightning strikes!! 


We’re on our second day in Savannah now – a blog post will come tonight! 

Restaurants · travel

Day 10 of USA Road Trip – Charlotte, North Carolina 

Every single time we eat at a chicken wing restaurant, Ewan orders super hot wings. And EVERY SINGLE TIME, they are too hot and he regrets it. It’s a vicious cycle. However, this evening at Wild Wing Cafe in Charlotte was another level. He was sweating, grunting and crying to such an extent that the waitress came over to offer him a glass of milk. In between sobs and fishing ice cubes out of his drink, Ewan announces that he’s never been in as much pain in his life. I suggest that he just stops eating them… but Ewans paid for these wings so he’s damn well going to eat them. Tomorrow is going to be fun! 

Talking of Wild Wing Cafe, they have a pretty decent gluten free menu. I had wings myself and really enjoyed them! I, unlike Ewan, know my spice limits. 


Other than eating wings, we also walked around Charlotte today and it was okay. The city’s tag line is ‘Charlotte’s got a lot’ and I would disagree with this statement and change it to ‘Charlotte’s got a bit’. We did pop into the free Wells Fargo museum and get our faces printed on money though, so the day wasn’t too short of excitement. ‘The Green’, a literary themed park, was also a highlight. But let’s put it this way – when we went to the visitor centre, the lady told us that the most fun thing to do in town was go to the cinema…. 


SO excited for Charleston tomorrow, thinking we might head straight to Boone Plantation (which also happens to be where The Notebook was filmed) if the weather is good! 

Restaurants · travel

Day 8 & 9 of USA Road Trip – Smoky Mountains/Gatlinburg

We have spent the last two nights in the Smoky Mountains, staying in a cute but very touristy town called Gatlinburg. This has been our favourite stop yet! 

After a 4 hour drive from Nashville, we arrived in Gatlinburg. It was a lovely sunny day so we headed straight to the Smoky Mountains National Park to check out a couple trails. We did the small trail behind the Sugarlands Visitor Centre then the Laurel Falls trail, which had a pretty big waterfall at the end. 

After hiking, we headed into the town to check out some of the wineries and get dinner. Because we are on a budget (or just general tight arses), we chose to go to the winery offering free tastings first, as most others cost $5. The winery was called Tennessee Homemade Wines and they specialize in wines made out of fruits other than grape. We tried their strawberry wine, peach wine and blackberry wine and liked them all, but the real winner was the blueberry wine. We immediately purchased a bottle and I am SO excited to crack it open when we get to Charleston in a few days time. If you ever get the chance, try it! It’s the best. 

The gluten free options in this town are a little sparse, but we found a grill called Blaines that had a gluten free menu so we headed there for dinner. I had a delicious burger with mashed potatoes (they don’t have a separate fryer so fries were not an option) and they happen to be the only place in town that currently offer gluten free burger buns. 


We soaked up the burgers with some moonshine tasting! Sugarlands distillery was our first stop, where we tried 12 different types of moonshine ranging in flavours from maple bacon to butter pecan. The ‘plain’ moonshine tasted like petrol but all the flavoured ones were delish! We were feeling a little tipsy by the end of the tasting session. 


Buzzed from Sugarlands, we headed to Ole Smoky Distillery where we tried ANOTHER 12 shots of moonshine, all in slightly different flavours. They had a cream based, piña colada flavoured moonshine called ‘some beach’ that I could have drank a whole bottle of. 


We waddled home a bit drunk, and slept in later the next morning than we have this whole road trip! However, there’s a sodding clock that chimes on the hour, every hour from 7am just across the road from our motel, which was not appreciated!! Once we were finally awake, we went to Flapjacks Pancake House for breakfast, as I’d heard great things about their gluten free pancakes. I was not disappointed – I had their cinnamon swirl pancakes and they were insanely good! 


We spent the whole day exploring the National Park and drove up to Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the Smoky Mountains. Parking was a bloody nightmare, as was the 20 minute steep hill climb, but the views were totally worth it! 


We’re off to Charlotte in the morning, excited to see a new city! 

Thanks for reading 🙂 

Restaurants · travel

Day 6 of USA Road Trip: Mammoth Caves, Kentucky and Nashville! 

This morning we drove to Mammoth Caves in Kentucky for the Frozen Niagara Tour. I wasn’t afraid at all until the tour guide announced, ‘when you enter the cave, the ceiling will be covered with what look like spiders…’ At this point I’m ready to run back to the car and leave, ‘… but they are just crickets.’ OH GREAT. Cave crickets! Crawling all above my head. He then went on to warn us about the bats, to which ewan whispered in my ear, ‘remember they are bigger and faster in America’. It’s a miracle that I even made it into the cave. I’m glad I did though as we saw some really cool stalignites and rock formations! Plus, it turned out that the bats were the size of chicken nuggets. 


After filling up the tank and finding CHIPOTLE RANCH FLAVOURED CRUNCHY CHEETOS (yes!!!!!) for lunch, we drove on to Nashville. 

I’ll admit that when the Uber first dropped us off on Honky Tonk Highway, I hated it. It was really noisy and there were people screeching everywhere. The elderly lady in me wanted to go home to peace and quiet. However, one Nashville Lemonade down and I started to enjoy it a little more! By the end of the evening, I kind of liked it. 


We had dinner at Martin’s BBQ, which I actually wouldn’t recommend to coeliacs but definitely would to anyone else! Ewan LOVED his brisket, fries and baked beans, and I really enjoyed my wings and baked potato, but the staff were not knowledgeable about gluten allergies which made me feel a little uneasy. The waitress knew exactly what the chicken wings were brined in and how they were cooked, so I felt safe with them, but all the other meats she just said I ‘should be fine’ with, which wasn’t good enough reassurance for me. 


Got another full day in Nashville tomorrow! Please comment if you know anywhere I should go to eat 🙂 

Restaurants · travel

Day 4 & 5 of USA Road Trip – Cedar Point, Columbus and Indianapolis

On Friday we went to Cedar Point theme park. It was loads of fun but the rides weren’t very weather resistant; they closed when it was raining or windy so we didn’t get to ride everything. Good day overall though!

Saturday morning we headed to Indianapolis, stopping on the way in Columbus for a walk along Scioto Mile. It was such a gorgeous area (made even more gorgeous by an adorable old lady waving at me… SO cute) and they have deer statues everywhere which made for fun photo ops. See below of me and my new mate taking in the city view together.

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On the drive to Indianapolis, I attempted to read on my Kobo while Ewan was driving. I was convinced that I’d feel sick and wouldn’t be able to read, but I was wrong! I finished off ‘The Help’ (great book) and now know that I can pass the time on longer drives by reading….. sorry, Ewan.

Exploring Indianapolis has been our trip highlight so far. We walked all along the canal, saw the Indiana State Capitol and Monument Circle. Such a great, walkable city with so much to do.

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We stopped for dinner at P.F. Chang’s in downtown Indy. Ewan had told me before that they did a gluten free menu, but I’d never checked it out. It was SO GOOD. There’s a good variety of gluten free options, including 2 desserts. All gluten free orders come on a special plate so you know they are safe to eat. I went for the Singapore Black Pepper Chicken with brown rice and gave in to temptation and had the Chocolate Bomb for pudding…. will definitely go back to try more dishes soon!

Off to Nashville and Mammoth Cave National Park tomorrow!