J.R. Tolkien

"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R. Tolkien

Monday, April 18, 2016

Beach Bound for $30+

We’ve decided earlier on in the year to cut down on our international travels this year to save money.  You know…because we are adults and we have bills to pay, LOTS of it.  Between Europe and Asia last year, we needed to replenish.  But my poor unsuspecting husband and I didn’t realize the extent of my wanderlust.  By April, I already have 5 domestic trips planned to make up for the lack of an international trip.  I did compromise, otherwise, it would've been 7 trips :)

I also compromised by looking for the best deals to save us money.  After looking for so many flights, I came across a great way to save money via Allegiant and Frontier airlines.  The trick to saving money with these airlines is simple: be flexible, traveling light and start making new friends in Cincinnati and Lexington!

Frontier and Allegiant have been flying out of Lexington and Cincinnati for a few years now, but in the last few months have really increased the number of flights and expanded their destination cities.  Frontier offers 18 direct flight from Cincinnati to destinations such as San Francisco, Orlando, Las Vegas, etc.  Allegiant established a hub in Cincinnati a few months back offering 15 direct flights from that airport and 7 direct flights from Lexington.  How much cheaper are they? See for yourself below.  For example, you can get tickets to Orlando for as low as $60 round trip!

$30 oneway to Orlando, Fl from Frontier Airlines
Flights as low as $48 one way to Las Vegas from Allegiant Airlines
I recently booked flights to D.C. for $90, round trip.  Want to do the same?  Here’s how to make the most of it.

Make new friends in Cincinnati and Lexington

The downside to living in Louisville is you’ll have to drive to Cincinnati or Lexington for these great rates; the upside, both cities are only 1.5 hours each way.  If you have friends or family there, you can park your car there and take a taxi or Uber to the airport.  If your flight saving is significant, research potential long term parking near the airport.

 
Be flexible with your dates as well as your destination

For some destinations, both airlines only fly on certain days of the week, so being flexible on your travel dates can save you a lot of money.  For example, Allegiant offers flights to Baltimore/Washington D.C. mostly on Sundays and Thursdays, choose to travel on those dates to get the best rates.

These airlines might not fly to the city you want, but If you just want to pack your bags and get out of town for a few days, this is a great way to do it.

I once lived out of that backpack for 3+ weeks
Travel Light  
 
Speaking of bags, this is where they get your money.  But learn to travel light and you can save.  With both Frontier and Allegiant, you’ll have to pay extra for your carry-on luggage, your personal item is still free (purse or a very small bag).  Allegiant charges $18 for carry-on or checked luggage while Frontier's rate starts at around $30.  If there’s two of you traveling together, consolidate into one bag so only one person has to pay for the fee.  Last year we had to wear a few layer of clothes, scarves, and cameras at the Scotland airport because we forgot to read the luggage policy.  Before you go, read the luggage policy very carefully to avoid expensive charges.

Other Charges   

Since these tickets are very cheap, they do charge for everything.  Here are a few additional charges to be aware of.

  • Picking seats.  If you want to choose your seats in advance, there’s an additional fee.  But if you don’t care where you sit, you’ll get your seat assignment at the airport on the day of your flight for free.
  • Service charge.  Allegiant charges a credit card fee, depending on the cost of the ticket, not to exceed $8.  Frontier charges a flat rate of $10 service fee per ticket.   
  • Club fee. Frontier’s best rate are the Discount Den rates.  But in order to get this, you’ll have to pay $49.99 club membership that lasts a year and covers up to 6 passengers, if you're one of the passengers.  These fares are much cheaper and might be worth the investment if you plan to do multiple trips in a year.  

Lastly

I haven’t been on either airlines (that’s later in the year) but have traveled with a few budget airlines abroad.  Consistently, since the airfare is cheap, you’ll have to make some compromises.  Drinks and snacks are not free;  the seats are smaller and leg room is minimal; luggage requirements are strict and expensive.  Prepare yourself by reading the policies and guidelines from each airline so are not caught off guard by unwanted expenses and headaches.

Happy traveling!  I’m seeing a lot short weekend trips in my future and a very unhappy husband.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

$5 All You Can Eat Crawfish!


Crawfish season is back!  For the best craw fish value in Louisville there is only one place to go, University of Louisville Annual Craw fish Boil.   For only $5, you'll get all-you-can-eat crawfish, sausage, corn, rice and beans, and drinks. Hot dogs are also available.  


Here are the details:
  • Date: Friday, April 21, 2017
  • Time: 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. 
  • Location: George J. Howe Red Barn, 2011 S. Brook Street, 40208. 
  • Cost: $5 (cash only)
  • Parking: Park at the lot by the Red Barn or the University Club.  
  • Tip:  If you like your crawfish more spicy, bring your own hot sauce!
If you want to cook your own crawfish at home, check out my previous post for some tips on where to find fresh crawfish in Louisville. Happy eating!

*Updated 3/3/2017

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Preview to Doc's Cantina

*Update 12/27/2016: Restaurant is currently CLOSED*

For a girl who loves to eat, there is no better birthday surprise than winning a free dinner for four to the soft opening at Doc's Cantina, the long anticipated replacement of Tumbleweed down by the River.  I brought my husband and parents along for a nice Saturday treat.  It was my parents' first Mexican food experience and my mom still uses the Vietnamese way to flag down the waiter, with a raised hand and a "woo woo, hey hey" (since she can't speak English :). 

Here's your preview ahead of the restaurant's April 5th opening!

The Building
The old subdued Tumbleweed building is now replaced by a brightly colored building that brings to mind a more tropical setting.


I can't say I'm a big fan of the tacky colors that make this building stand out like a sore thumb, but once I step inside, it makes sense.  The walls are cheerfully decorated with flowery and Mexican themed murals, bright ceilings and sparkling lights.  I immediately like the casual and cheerful atmosphere.





The Menu  
Expect to see soups (corn, chicken or pork), 6 types of sandwiches, an assort of taco choices, traditional Mexican must haves (burrito, fajitas, enchiladas, mole, etc.), seafood entrees, 8 brunch items (think chorizo and eggs), salads and a variety of side dishes.  The menu also boasts an impressive collection that includes bourbon, beer, cocktails, margaritas, and wine.  Most of the items on the menu are reasonably priced around $9 - $12, the more expensive menu items are around $15 - $20, commonly expected of seafood dishes and entrees.  Complete menu here.



The Service
Friendly and attentive staff, but with all new restaurants, expect a few stumbles here and there.  Our food came out quickly.

The Food
The more accurate description of the food should be Modern-Mex rather than the Mex-Mex boldly painted on the building that conjures up images of authentic Mexican food.  The food is a mix of traditional dishes and dishes with a modern American twist.  The salmon and grapefruit, burger on brioche buns, the bacon wrapped hot dog are a few examples of the twist.

Items we ordered:
Freshly made salsa and chips
Shrimp ceviche
Mexi Burger Sliders
Mexi Burger Sliders
Chicken Tinga
Baja Fish Tacos
Lychee Paloma
The complimentary chips and salsa were freshly made and free as a starter at each table.  My husband loved his Mexi Burgers with bacon, cheese, and pico on brioche buns.  A good value for three sliders at $12.  My parents enjoyed their chicken tinga and fish tacos, each got a set of three tacos that came with rice and refried beans.  Both were good but the chicken tinga sauce could benefit from a little more flavor and heat while the fish tacos need more flourish.  The shrimp ceviche (I ordered corvina) lacked the citrus that makes it so distinctive and very pricey at $12 for such a small portion, with no chips or anything to go with it.  The lychee paloma packed a punch, so watch out!

Over all, an enjoyable food experience (thought not spectacular), for now I'll reserve the final verdict until subsequent visits to try other items on the menu.  The great location, decent prices, good sized menu, and drink options will keep me coming back, especially on a warm sunny day after a long walk across the bridge or a leisure bike ride.  It's definitely a step up from Tumbleweed food and a welcomed addition to the Waterfront.

Doc's Catina opens to the public on April 5, 2016.

Doc's Cantina
1201 River Road
Louisville, KY
502-tacos32 (822-6732)
Monday - Thursday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Parking: Street or Waterfront Park.
$3 private parking across River Road.  Bring the receipt and Doc's will take $3 off your final bill.