Black Safe, Dining, Drinks, Further Discussion, Let's get into It

Objectively Black in Louisville, Kentucky

To kick-off 2020, we decided to travel down to Louisville, Kentucky. Birthplace of the G.O.A.T. Muhammed Ali. Home to legendary Churchill Downs Race Track. Creators of the world’s best Bourbon, and last but not least Kentucky Fried Chicken. We spent about 3 days in the bluegrass state and mainly stayed in the Louisville area (pronounced LUH-VULLE? LOOA-VILLE?). Who knows. As far as I can tell, Louisville is covered in strip malls, a haze of cigarette smoke, overcast weather, and rusty rundown old buildings. But hey, it’s all good. No shade here. Traveling gives you perspective. There are many fun and interesting things to do in this southeast corner of the country. Although almost everyone we ran into asked us why we were in Louisville (are y’all allowed to leave?) the Bourbon Trail was our primary reason for visiting. Let’s get into it.

Day 1 

Kickin it at the Mansion

Upon landing, we were picked up by a near toothless Uber Driver who for some reason had it out for college kids and their penchant for experiencing different cultures and cuisines. I’ll say though, that every single Uber or Lyft driver that picked us up was beyond friendly and hospitable (even tho they all smelled of cigarette smoke). People down here really are about the good old positive southern hospitality even if their Uber is covered in NRA stickers.

Toothless Uber Driver: “What neighborhood are y’all staying in during your visit to Louisville?”

F. Dougie: “We actually don’t know, but here’s the address?”

Toothless Uber Driver: “Oh, that’s Old Louisville.”

F. Dougie: “Hopefully not too old, amirite?

Toothless Uber Driver: “………..”

Don’t think he liked that one, but I didn’t think it would be right if I didn’t kick off the trip with an off-color slavery reference. We soon arrived at our lodgings, The “Big Shot Bourbon Mansion.” The place was gigantic! 3 floors and about 20 rooms with multiple kitchens and washer/dryers. It looked like it had been built near WWI and was furnished with your grandmother’s favorite patterns. If you’ve ever seen Clue or Knives Out, it would definitely remind you of one of those old murder mystery mansions. I’m fairly certain that the place was haunted but we didn’t fuck with the ghosts so they didn’t fuck with us. Don’t start none, won’t be none.

Since everyone was arriving, we mainly kicked it at the spot the first night. We were told not to cross 7th street to the West End due to multiple unsolved crimes, as well as various stabbings and shootings… We didn’t want that smoke, so naturally, we ordered in and made the delivery dude risk life and limb to get us some hot wings. 

A night of Beer Pong and Kings capped off the first night before we got ready for our first big day in Louisville.

Day 2 

Bourbon Tours 

Bar Hopping in the Highlands

We started the day with breakfast and coffee delivered to the house before our tour guide picked us up around 9:00 am. If you’re interested in doing a tour of some of the legendary bourbon distilleries in Kentucky, I’d highly recommend a guided bus tour. Many of the distilleries are vastly spread out over hundreds of acres, so getting to and from each can be tough if you don’t have your own transportation. Our plan was to hit 3 different types of distilleries and drink in all of that golden bourbon glory. Our first stop was Stitzer – Weller.

Bourbon Tour – Stitzer-Weller

The Stitzer – Weller distillery is owned by major alcohol distillery Diageo and is home to major brands Bulleit, I.W. Harper, and Blade & Bow. All three are brewed on the property and each has its own unique taste and brand recognition. I won’t get into all the details because the best part of the tours are learning how the product is made along with how much care and hard work go into producing the product, but to be considered bourbon whiskey needs to have 3 basic attributes:

American – Whiskey can only be considered Bourbon if it is Made in America. After all, all Bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.

Birch Wood Barrels – Whiskey can only be casked in White Birch Barrels.

Corn – Bourbon is made with Corn only. No other flavors or colors can be added. 

One common misconception is that Whiskey can only be considered Bourbon if its made in Kentucky. That’s not true. As long is it follows those 3 simple rules, its Bourbon. 

At the end of the tour, we got a chance to sample a tasting of 4 different styles of Whiskey. Bulleit Bourbon, Bulleit Rye, I.W. Harper, and Blade & Bow. All had their own individual profiles, tastes as well as various strengths and weaknesses. After all, everyone’s palate is different. The bourbons can have sweet or spicy undertones. They can be flowery or fruity. They can even be leathery or dry. What you like is up to you.

Bourbon Tour – 3 Boys Distillery

3 Boys Distillery

After stopping for lunch we ventured about an hour downstate to a much smaller distillery called 3 Boys. They made 2 different types of bourbons (a 124 proof and a 134 proof) and also specialized in several flavors of moonshine including pecan and apple pie. This tour was a little quicker and didn’t really dive into the history and manufacturing processes of bourbon so much as the nice lady who ran the place gave us many many many shots of bourbon and moonshine. Think Darlene Snell from Ozark but without the homicidal tendencies and the shotgun. Thank ya, ma’am. Much obliged.

Bourbon Tour – Buffalo Trace

Last on our tour was Buffalo Trace, the oldest continually operating distillery in America. What do I mean by continually operating? Well, during Prohibition, only a few select distilleries were allowed to continue operating. Whiskey and Bourbon were distributed to pharmacies for “medicinal use only”. Every man, woman, and child was allowed a prescription for 1 pint of 100 proof whiskey every 10 days “for ailments only”. As you can gather, many people starting coming down with all kinds of interesting sicknesses to get their fix.

Our tour guide was fairly knowledgeable but a little newer to the operation so I gave her a bit of a hard time. She took us on the grand tour of the facilities and process. 

Tour Guide: “If you see these steel pipes above the buildings, these are actually new and we move steam through them to help with several processes.” 

F. Dougie: “How often would you say that you lay pipe?

Tour Guide: “…..”

Tour Guide: “These barrels actually get harder as they get older.”

F. Dougie: “Just like me.”

Tour Guide: “…..”

Sorry, it was right there. What do you want from me? She was a retired school teacher of 17 years and I wanted to remind her not to go back. To follow her dreams, dammit!

The coolest part of the tour for me was seeing the workers label, bag, and box the facility’s special aged bourbon. There was literally a team of 10 people at 10 different stations manually applying labels (perfectly every time), commemorative tops, hot wax coverings, bags, and then boxing the bourbon. They did it with smiles on their faces while conversing and without missing a beat. All in all, that small crew is able to complete 2,400 bottles per day. It was a wonder to see and it’s a reminder that some of the best-made things are done so with care and can’t always be don’t by machines. I’ll definitely remember their friendly faces the next time I buy a bottle.

RecBar

That night, we went out to a Video Arcade and Bar called RecBar. If you’ve ever been to BarCade on the East or West Coast you know what I’m talking about. Nothing really special about this place but it was chill and we had a good time playing classic videogames like Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, Afterburner, and Time Crisis. Shout out to the Simpsons Arcade game for stealing my quarters. X-Men the Arcade, you’ve never failed me.

Highlands Neighborhood on Bardstown Road

This area was fun. After a day of drinking bourbon, we decided to switch it up to beer and go bar hopping in. As seems to be customary in any area with multiple establishments, most of the bars had a hipster vibe. We hopped back and forth to a few but landed at one with free karaoke. They didn’t have the Pokemon theme song for me, but the crew bought the house down with Backstreet Boys “I want it that way”. Keep your panties ladies. We’re taken. (We’re still calling ’em panties, right?)

Day 3  

Escape the Room

Lola’s Kitchen

Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum

Jack Ruby Steak House 

Match Cigar Bar

Escape the Room

Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum

The third day was a busy one as well. Like I said before, there’s plenty to do in Luh-vulle and we tried to get in as much as possible on our last day of the trip. My homegirl Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t in town but did hit me on the cell to give us a few recommendations. Naturally, after a full day and night of drinking, we thought it was necessary to test our brainpower and ability to work together as a group…. So we decided to hit up Escape the Room. Let me tell you…If you ever want to test your patience with people, lock yourselves in a room together and tell them that they have an hour to work through a problem before they pass or fail. Yeesh. In all seriousness though, for me, this was weirdly some of the most fun that I had during the trip. I love brain games, puzzles, and mazes. I love thrillers, and I love a challenge.

Our group of 9 was given a scenario and placed into a room and given a mission to create a secret antidote and save the world from an evil scientist bent on destruction. Mwaahahahahahaha!

The interactiveness of the game really threw me for a loop. There were secret walls that opened, codes to crack, computers to hack, scientific formulas to make, and a secret giant machine that ultimately helped us towards our final goal. It got hairy for a second but we banded together, worked as a team and completed the mission with 10 minutes to spare. Maybe next time Dr. Evil.

Put the boy in the box like David Blaine

Let the audience watch, it ain’t a thing

– HOV

Lola’s Kitchen

Lola’s was a dope Filipino spot near the escape room. You know I had to get the classic Tosilogg like I always do. Not much more to say here. Filipino is amazing. 

Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum

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Batting 3rd in the order was the Louisville Slugger Museum. The forest that they use for their tree is on the border of PA and NY and it is MASSIVE. On average, every baseball player orders around 100 bats each per year. You can do the math on that one. 

I know what you’re thinking. How terrible for the environment. All those trees cut down for baseball bats? Well LS actually dedicates themselves to plant 2x more trees than they cut down every year. 

Thanks to all the crazy technology bat making process are fairly quick spread around 10 or so steps from cutting and painting to buffing. It was really dope to see bats from such legends as Derek Jeter, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Ken Griffey Jr. Even the newer youngbloods like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were representing. 

The museum caters to families and children of all ages as well as every major league team. I highly recommend it even if you aren’t a baseball fan. Batter up. 

Jeff Ruby Steak House

Jeff Ruby Steakhouse

A Louisville staple, we made our way over to Jeff Ruby’s for our final dinner of the trip. Top rated and easily one of Louisville’s best steakhouses, be prepared to pay top dollar for their amazing cuts of beef. The service is impeccable and if you name it, they’ve got it. Even the tough to find Hatchet cut was available for consumption. 

Match Cigar Bar

I’m not into cigars as much as I was  my younger days, but again, the theme here is if you want it, this place has got it. Just a 10 minute Uber ride from the steak house, this smokehouse is actually across the river in Indiana! Crazy right? The patron was super knowledgeable about all of his smokes and was able to make many recommendations to the members of the group. All in all, a great end to a fun day.

So if you’re looking for a sunny and vibrant destination, Louisville is most likely not the place for you. But if you’re looking to find the best bourbons in the world, they plan your trip asap. No, the locale isn’t super exciting, but the people are genuine and friendly. There’s a ton to do if you think outside the box and if you’re ready to change things up, you just might like it.

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Black Safe, General, Let's get into It

Travel Interview with your boys at Objectively Black – F. Dougie

So I’ve been hearing that you guys, the people, want us to pull back the curtain a bit. You wanna hear more bout your boys Idris Gray and F. Dougie. Sure, we go on crazy adventures and give you the info about whats going on in the world, but you want to know more about US, right?

Well, say less. We’re taking some time out of our very busy lives to give a little of that personal world view we call perspective. More and more our readers have been asking us to give more travel recommendations and to share some of that worldly knowledge we’ve been picking up in our travels. Say no more people. The man, the legend, your mans F. Dougie is giving you a little more about how he likes to live. Listen up. You just might learn something.

Idris Gray: It seems like we’ve been everywhere lately. You gotta tell me though, What’s your all-time favorite travel destination?

F. Dougie: Japan. Easily.

Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are all amazing cities. Tokyo and Osaka are an insomniac’s dream, and Kyoto has so much beauty and history, it’s hard not to get lost in everything they have to offer. Its funny, I find myself day-dreaming of my adventures in Japan quite often and I guarantee that I’ll be flying over there on the next chance that presents itself.

Of the countries you’ve been to, can you tell the people which were the most fun, challenging, or inspiring?

Most Fun – Aruba. Aside from being an island paradise, Aruba has so much to do. You can kick back and do nothing or go swimming in crystal clear water. If you want to get active, I actually recommend an ATV tour of the entire island. Its small and you can see most of it in half a day. Also, definitely go Jet Skiing at least once.

Most Challenging – Paris, France. Paris is incredible but it can be a lot if you don’t have a good grasp on the language. Honestly? My best recommendation? Go on a bike tour and learn as much as you can that way. You’d be surprised how much history you can pick up just riding around with a guide for a few hours.

Most Inspiring – Positano, Italy. Wow. Easily one of the most beautiful locations on earth. All of the food is freshly gown on the island. The people are unrealistically nice, and I’m not even sure that the word “stress” exists here. Taking private boats and swimming to hidden grottos, dipping in the ocean on a moonlit night, grabbing a bottle of wine and just sipping it while the cool Mediterranean breeze blows over you. Heaven.

So where we goin next? What’s on the bucket list? If you could name your top 5, where would you like to go next?

The list is long and it is distinguished, but if I have to do a top 5, lets spread out the love a bit. We’re hitting at least 3 continents, people:

Zimbabwe – Gotta hit Victoria Falls, one of the 7 wonders of the world, right?

Austria – I just bought some new hiking boots that need breaking in.

Switzerland – You ever been hang gliding? Neither have I. We going.

Argentina – All dat meat. Patagonia is cool too I guess.

South Africa – Mandela wen through too much for me to not get over there and acknowledge his contribution to the world.

Ok, I see you. No chillin on these trips. Straight Adventures, huh? Well what’s your typical travel attire?

I’m more chill. Give me some joggers, Nikes, and a long-sleeve t-shirt. Maybe a packable light down depending on where I’m going and my Yankees fitted. When I’m in the airport or on the plane, I wanna feel like I’m at home on the couch. Comfort is key and you wanna make sure to layer as well because these planes be -10 degrees.

Window or Aisle?

I like to stare out of the window and see what’s down there. I’m long, but I’m not really cognizant of what the flight attendants are doing so if I doze off (which is rare), best believe I’m hitting hit with the cart.

What’s the survival kit look like? Name 3 items you NEVER travel without.

Sunglasses – Gotta lay low, you know? Plus I like my destinations sunny.

Watch – I always travel with some sort of diver or sport watch because I typically need something multifunctional that works well if I’m swimming, hiking, or if I wanna look good when I’m out on the town. Not to mention, you never know how long you’ll typically go without a phone charge. If I don’t have a phone on me, I always like to know what time it is.

Noise Cancelling Headphones – Because no. Just. Just, no.

Music is everything when you travel. Name 5 Albums you don’t travel without.

Yeah, I hear you. Music is a big part of travel and getting hype for a new adventure. Not to mention, who knows how long you’ll get stranded in the airport, right? I typically keep the same albums in heavy rotation on a trip:

American Gangster – Jay Z

Illmatic – Nas

Stadium Arcadium – Red Hot Chili Peppers

AM – Arctic Monkeys

The Blueprint – Jay Z

How would you describe your style of travel? Are you a planner or do you like to freestyle?

I plan EVERYTHING in advance. That’s typically because I’m usually travelling with a group and there is nothing worse than a group of grown-ass men standing around with no idea what they want to do after spending thousands of dollars on a vacation.

Dude 1: “Ay man, what’s the move?”

Dude 2: “You asking me?! I booked the flights!”

Dude 1: “I’m sayin, I got that last taxi tho…”

Dude 3: “So, we gon eat or….?”

Dude 4: “……aight, I’mma head out”.

If I’m traveling alone, I’m more apt to go off the cuff. Just wander around and see what’s what, you know? Some of the best adventures come from things that weren’t planned.

Lastly, do you have any advice for first-time travelers abroad?

You really have to get outside of your comfort-zone. Find new things to do and just get out there and get crazy. Bare in mind, you are in a foreign country, so be respectful and keep your head on a swivel, but don’t be afraid to try new things and really shake things up. 

Traveling is always easier with a great international credit card. Those foreign transaction fees add up quickly, and when you’re on a budget, there is nothing worse than shelling out extra money that you didn’t originally account for.

Honestly, be easy on the electronics. Vacation is for relaxation or exploration. Its hard to get inspired and experience new things when you’re plugged in and worried about what @janice_4he_un1corn is doing on IG.

Again, I stress trying new things and having fun, but be safe out there but trust your gut and keep your head on a swivel. Theres a sucker born every minute. Don’t let it be you.

Learn how to tie a Weaver’s knot. It may save your life…

Bring extra cash and don’t fake on the travel insurance! You don’t wanna be out here waiting on transfers from your checkings to your savings, back to your checking….

Try to learn at least some basic language for the country you’re visiting. Theres nothing worse than an arrogant American yelling at the top of their lungs: “CAN YOU TELL ME HOW TO GET TO THE LOUURRRRVVVEEEE?” *makes rocafella sign*

Catch y’all next time!

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Black Safe, General

Objectively Black Does Brazil

We know we know, the summer is winding down. The fun is over right? Wrong! The weather might start cooling down here but it’s nice and warm in Brazil. Vitoria Brazil to be exact. And yes, while my Objectively Black brother was wining and dining in Turks and Caicos, I was partying it up in Brazil of all places. Do yourself a favor and forget everything you heard about Brazil. Allow me to briefly fill you in on how amazing this not so touristy piece of paradise is like. I know you’ve heard of Rio and favelas and the crime and blah blah blah. “Leave that one my friend”.

Ok, so first I need to be completely transparent, I went there for the wedding of an old friend. I was only there for 4 full days but after some quick maths I was able to determine that the fun per day metrics were right up there with my other trips in South America this year. Comment if you need that formula. Anyway, in that short time I was able to hit a few spots downtown in an area called  “Triangulo das Bermudas” where I danced, ate and ate some more. Normally what we like to do is give you a play by play of our time at whatever spot we were lucky enough to travel too. This time I’m gonna try and distill the whole experience down to 7 reasons you need to hit up Vitoria.

1. The People

This is by far the biggest and best reason to go here. And it’s the same reason I almost didn’t come back to NYC. I’m not trying to shit on my fellow New Yorker’s, but we can be a lot sometimes. But I’m not gonna focus on our flaws right now, let’s focus on the beautiful people in this great city. This wasn’t my first time in South America this year but there’s always some nervousness when I land in a new city. But as soon as I landed, I was greeted by friendly faces. Yes one of them was my long time friend, but even strangers seemed to be invested in making me feel as “at home” as possible. Seriously everyone was nice. From the staff at the hotel, the waiters at the various restaurants, and too the several friends I made during my time there. And yes the language barrier was tough to get over, but everyone I met made a strong effort to try and connect with me. I felt like I was in the midst of family after only a few hours there. So in the words of the Terminator I’ll be back y’all.

2. The BBQ

In the 4 nights I spent in Brazil I had Brazilian style BBQ 5 times. The times I didn’t have BBQ for dinner, I had it for lunch. And the other times I just put fruit on it and called it dessert. Remember I told you about the skewers? Yeah so I’ve been back in the states for sometime now and still refuse to eat anything that isn’t served via big metal stick. I’ve lost 15lbs. Let me give you a recommendation. GET THE CHICKEN HEARTS. Don’t argue with me just do it. Matter of fact get everything and anything that they serve on a skewer dammit. The sausage, the “Filet Mignon”. Fuck it if they have humming birds on that damn stick you eat it and you enjoy it. It’s good for your heart and for your soul. I’m pretty sure.

3. The Hotel

Ok… So I can’t speak to the other lodging areas in the city, but I can speak to Hotel Senac Ilha do Boi. Hotel Senac is about 45 minutes away from Vitoria Airport, located on top of a hill that has the most amazing views of the city. More on the views in a moment. Among the hotel amenities are a steam shower, sauna, poolside bar, tennis court etc. The list goes on. And the best part is the hotel is right on the beach. Yes with just a short 5 minute walk down a tree lined staircase you can be on the beach soaking up the sun. If that’s your thing. Personally that poolside bar got more use out of me. But “cada um na sua” (to each their own).

4. Nightlife

If you’re like me and love to dance and party a bit ‘after hours’ then don’t worry, Vitoria has you covered. And you don’t need to worry about whether or not you’ll be safe. I was able to walk the streets at night with a friend in search of bars and clubs to go to on a Sunday night without any trouble. There were plenty of people on the streets and no one bothered us. In fact, most people were friendly. Now you do have a variety of scenes to choose from, you can do quiet bars, bars with live music, and legit clubs for those of you who need a laser show to get it in. I’d suggest Triangulo das Bermudas. It’s the bar district in Vitória. It’s got all those things I’ve just mentioned and also plenty of food spots to fuel your night out. More on that later.

Vitoria Skyline -Credit @dronar.es

5. Views

I can not front. As far as the views of a beachfront city.. This has got to be up there with the best. Lima’s huge shopping famous shopping complex was built right into a cliff overlooking the beach but Vitoria itself sat less than a mile from the beach. It was like being in paradise fam. No wonder everyone there is so happy. They get to see the most amazing sunsets year round. And those aren’t the only natural wonders you’ll see while you’re there…

6. Shopping

Listen, I know. I don’t like malls, you may not either. But Vitoria has several places to shop and I found myself at one of them – “Shopping Vitoria”. Now How did I find myself in a shopping mall? Well, like I said I went for a wedding, and while the fit I brought was dope, I forgot to bring a belt. So I marched down to the mall which wasn’t too far from the hotel and picked one up. I noticed during the walk down that there weren’t many folks on the street minus the runners and dog walkers. But when I entered the mall. It was clear where all those people were. The mall seemed brand new and pretty big even by our standards here in the states. In fact it exceeded the malls I’ve been too in many ways. There you can find several places to eat and relax to refuel you after some heavy shopping. You can also catch a movie if you want. But please note, this place aint exactly cheap.

Tapiocaria Nordeste Capixaba

7. Restaurants

Now it might be overkill to mention restaurants after already mentioning BBQ. But I do think that BBQ and restaurants each deserve their own section. I think my new Brazilian friends would all agree. From fast food to high quality dining, you can find it all here. Trust me, during my time here I ate way more than I slept. But I want to shout out some places that you need to check out. And feel free to drop my name at any of these places for to get a “What the fuck are you talking about” look from the waiter. Tapiocaria Nordeste Capixaba, Bilac Bar E Restaurante and  Figata Pizza & Birra were just a few of the places I was able to hit while I was there. All had great service and even better food. Figata even let me and a friend stick around late to finish our dinner way past closing time. Check them out for sure.

Ok that’s seven reasons. There are several more that I could go into more specifically but this should be enough to get you started. I know the trip is long and I know the flight is expensive. But do yourself a favor and go see Brazil like a local. Eat, dance, go to the beach and have chicken hearts. Sure, you can go to a resort and be hand fed grapes and shit. And while that does sound nice, I’d say you’d have a much better time getting an authentic experience in Vitoria. Like I said, I was only there for a few days, but I certainly intend to go back. 

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Black Safe, Dining, Drinks

Objectively Black in Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Last week, we were in Nashville for business, but we still found many opportunities to eat and drink well in one of America’s fastest growing cities. We mainly stayed around Downtown and Broadway for this entry and when you’re traveling for work, you need to be on your A-game twenty four-seven lest you show up home from work early and have to explain to your wife why you’ve put in an application as an Uber driver…

So, not too many crazy adventures or anecdotes this go-round, but if you’ll allow us some latitude, we’ll drop a couple pearls on where to eat, drink, and party it up. (We’re 2-stepping only tho. Business casual out here, you feel me?)

Dinner

Husk 

Located in Rutledge Hill in the heart of Downtown Nashville resides the new classic, Husk. “A celebration of Southern Cooking”, Husk is headed by Executive Chef Katie Coss who uses fresh and local ingredients from local farms to create amazing dishes. 

Given the central role that African Americans and other Immigrant cooks that lent to traditional Southern cooking, its important to note that when we talk about “traditional” southern cooking, we need to go all the way back to the beginning to pay homage to those that literally slaved in kitchens across the south creating and curating these dishes.

Husk has done a great service to what I deem to be classic traditional southern dishes. With both of my parents being born and raised in South Carolina, my family grew up on southern recipes passed down for generations. You know the classics: Fried Chicken, Mac and Cheese, Collard Greens, Grits, Biscuits, Cornbread, you name it. Just thinking of some of these foods brings back great emotions from my childhood and reminds me of simpler times.

I also heard the Cheeseburger described as “perfect”, but alas, it was not on the menu for the night.

They have a large wine cellar in the basement and the cocktail menu is on point as well. You really can’t miss with anything on the menu. Our table ordered a smorgasborg of menu items and shared a little bit of everything. I won’t review everything individually but I’ll say with certainty that this is the best meal I’ve ever had in Nashville over multiple visits. Here are the standouts:

  • Bear Creek Farm Beef with Smoked Tomatoes, Butterbeans, Embered Beef Fat and Basil
  • Field of Dreams Chicken, Sweeter Days Shishitos, Schmaltz Red Potato, Miso Butter, Benne
  • A Plate of Southern Vegetables 
  • Shrimp and Grits

Again, Husk did an amazing job but in the end, they ain’t got nothin on my Grannie’s home cookin. Guess I’ll need to make sure to get down south for the next family reunion.

Score — 4.7/5

Virago

When we first booked this restaurant, I gotta admit that I was a little skeptical at first. Sushi? In Tennessee? Gotta say, I was pleasantly surprised. They did a really great job. Sushi Chef Himmi continues a sixteen year stand of creating amazing Makimono and Nigirizushi dishes. 

The menu was intelligently split into several different columns: 

Garden

Land

Sea

Temaki (Hand rolled sushi)

Nigiri-Zushi (Slice of fish atop of compacted rice)

Sashimi & Nigiri (Thinly sliced fish)

& Makimono (Sushi rolls)

The restaurant had recently moved to a brand new space and had rebuilt the restaurant from the ground up. The new ambiance really worked for them and evoked a traditional Japanese Sushi restaurant vibe. It was very relaxing. It felt like I was back in Tokyo again and had stumbled on to a ritzy sushi spot in Ginza.

The food and service were both great, but given how popular Japanese Whiskey’s are right now, I’m a little surprised that Nikka was the only one they had on the drink menu. Really my Nikka’s?

Either way, I’d definitely recommend this spot and will likely be back if I’m in Nashville again anytime soon.

Score — 4.3/5

Breakfast

Kitchen Notes

Similar to Husk, Kitchen Notes is a Farm to Table Southern Cooking experience located at the Omni Hotel. The Omni is probably (definitely) the most expensive hotel in all of Nashville. It has a gorgeous lobby and really leans into the the country and blue grass roots of the region. It’s located right across the street from the Nashville Convention Center (Which if seen from above, looks like a giant guitar. Pretty dope).

I ventured over for breakfast one morning and realized that I’d eaten here once before on a previous work trip to Nashville. The food was just as good but the service as a little slow (I’m not gonna name names. We’ll just call dude Frederico for now). The waiter forgot to bring me A1 for my Steak and Eggs a couple of times. Also, I found the seating arrangements and dining room setup a little strange. There were square tables for four flanking either side of the room, but in the middle of the room, were big benched tables with seating for about 6 each. Now, I was there pretty early, so the restaurant wasn’t anywhere close to full yet for breakfast. They sat me dead center of the room at a bench….and then sat an incoming couple right next to me! Come on people,  I know you Tennesseans are super friendly and hospitable, but after a long night and an early morning, sometimes a guys just wants to eat breakfast and catch up on the news on his own.

“Ay Frederico… Where’s the steak sauce, my guy?!”

Score — 4/5

Bars

Thursday Night 8:00pm – 3:00am

Acme Feed & Seed Rooftop – Downtown Broadway

Acme Feed and Seed – (4 Level Bar on Broadway with a Rooftop Bar) 8:00pm – 10:00pm

We had reservations on the rooftop, and it was really nice with the weather being around 75 degrees and breezy. The rooftop bar overlooks the river and has great views of Nissan Stadium and the Walking bridge (if that’s what you’re into. You can actually see down the entirety of broadway on the left side of the bar.

The drinks were all comp’ed, but they seemed to be decently priced with a pretty good selection of local beers and IPAs.

Tin Roof (Live Bar and DJ)10:15pm – 11:15pm

Now, this place is interesting. Its split right down the middle by two different bars with a live band none side and a DJ on the other. The crazy thing is, you aren’t able to hear the other from either side. We kicked it on the DJ side where he spun some current and classic tracks. Had to roll out tho, when the ladies started shotgunning Red Bulls.

“Bartender…A mop over here please?”

Ms. Kelli’s Nashville (Karaoke Saloon)11:30pm – 12:00am

Didn’t stay too long. Ms. Kelli’s was super divey, but the Karaoke was very well organized….That’s all I got, really….

Dirk’s Bentley’s  (4 Level Bar on Broadway)12:15am – 2:15am

Yikes. This place was huge. The DJ on the 2nd floor was doin the damn thing with all the latest Hip-Hop cuts. Don’t think I didn’t notice you played a few songs multiple times tho, my G. You gotta freshen up the MP3s on that MacBook Pro.

I’ve been to Nashville more than a few times now and its always finds ways to surprise me. You’ll find live music of all kinds, good and bad. There are your typical nine-to-fivers in the classic Honky Tonk’s, like Tootsies or Robert’s Western World, and there are some amazing local artists just trying to become “the next Taylor Swift”. The town is growing and with growth comes different perspectives. I’ve never had any issues with rowdy crowds (tho they do get rowdy), fuckery, or redneckery. People in Nashville will really surprise you and that doesn’t seem to be what they are about. People seem to be there just to have a great time. Black or White, Red or Blue, Country or Hip-Hop, people treat each other with respect and that’s the mark of a truly progressive city. 

Sure, there are some areas that could use a little more work. Much like Denver, Colorado, the homeless population has not really been addressed. People don’t harass you at all like they do in NYC but when cities grow this quickly, local businesses and legislators focus on new attractions, hotels, shopping malls, bars, sports arenas, etc. People that need help tend to get the short end of the stick and to me that really keeps a city from reaching its true potential.

The city is growing enormously and with people coming in from all over the world, it seems like Nashville is trying to create more opportunities to cater to people from everywhere. Yes, the country music culture will always be intrinsically tied to Nashville. That will always be their unique identifier and claim to fame.

But there are a lot of other really cool things going on in Nashville right now as well. 

“Scheduled to open in Downtown Nashville in early 2020, the National museum of African American Music will be a 56,000-square-foot facility that will encourage visitors to discover the many connections and influences that composers have had on all genres of music. From classical to country to jazz and hip hop, NMAAM will integrate history and interactive technology to share the untold story of more than 50 music genres and subgenres. It will be an unparalleled institution, not confined by record label, genre or recording artist, but instead will tell a unique narrative through the lens of black music”. – NMAAM

On Broadway in particular, there are a lot of different options in a small area. All the “touristy” bars are on Broadway and can be in a lot of fun, but it really depends on what you’re in the mood for. Many of the bars are multi-level and have something different going on each floor. You could be singing “Friends in Low Places” with a live band on Level 1, Twerking it out to Old Town Road and Cardi B on Level 2, Yee-Hawing to Dierks Bentley and Keith Urban on Level 3, and Vogueing to Madonna and Lizzo on Level 4. Theres a lot going on and you’re anything like me, you’re going to need to buckle down and figure out what you really want to do for the night. 

I will say though, that going out with large groups makes it even more difficult for people because of all the jumping from floor to floor and across the streets from bar to bar. Somehow tho, it all evens out and you have the time of your life. You’ll hit the sack around 3:00am but not before you stop at a local diner to get some Hot Chicken and Biscuits.

Neighborhoods to check out:

Downtown Broadway

Germantown

East Nashville

Belmont

Green Hills

Midtown / Vanderbilt

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Objectively Black in Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos 

Traveling is important. 2019 has been one for the record books for us and we continue our globe-trotting, perspective finding journey.  This year we’ve been to Denver, Philly, Montreal, Peru, Colombia, and now Turks and Caicos (with Brazil up next!). 

We’ve been drinking, hiking, partying and all other imaginable states of being, but a tropical setting was just what we needed to end the summer and truly relax and unwind. My wife and I recently ventured down to the beautiful island of Turks and Caicos in the British Virgin Islands for some clear water and white sand at Grace Bay Beach. 

Using our credit card points (I can’t stress the importance of a great travel credit card and making your purchases work for you enough) we stayed at the beautiful Palm Hotel and Resort on Grace Bay Beach. High on luxury, the Palms has consistently scored in the top 100 hotels in the world. Impressive, right? The 72-suite luxury condo hotel is directly in the heart of Grace Bay (also named one of the top 5 beaches in the world), right on the waterfront.

We flew JetBlue and had no problems getting through checkpoints due to our TSA Pre-Check. Again, if you are traveling often, the “luxury” of not taking off your shoes, rummage through your 3oz or less toiletries and stand in a much longer line saves you some much needed time and stress when you are heading off for a relaxing vacation.

I will however note, that the trip was almost ruined when I got to customs in T&C and realized that I had forgotten my Givenchy slippers. 


Young H-O, Pitch the yea faithful
Even if they patrol, I make payroll
Benz paid for, Friends they roll
Private jets down to Turks and Caicos

JAY Z

The Palms was a short 15-minute car ride from the airport on beautiful Grace Bay Beach. The weather was a perfect 85 degree average everyday with wonderful breezes and no rain. 

Upon recommendations from many friends and co-workers who had been to Grace Bay Beach before, we were told that the Thursday night Fish Fry was a must and also dinner at Coco Bistro would be a great way to end our trip. We planned to do both… but more on that later.

Wifey: “Ugh, its so beautiful here. I never want to leave. I’m so glad they don’t allow kids at this property becau…

Who the fuck allowed these kids in here?!

Me: Babe, I don’t think this is an adults only property…

Wifey: This trip is ruined! I didn’t spend all this money to hear screaming kids!

(I’m mainly kidding. My wife is a teacher and loves children)

Everything was fine. 

Of the properties that allow children, The Palms was still very serene and all the kids and families were very respectful and were there to enjoy their time on the resort as well. After all, if you are paying good money for a vacation, you typically aren’t putting up with your kids bullshit lest you leave them tied up in the hotel closets.  There were a few families with kids of all ages but again, everyone was nice and respectful of each others stay and experience.

Another point of note, is that we walked to Beaches Resort one day and I’ve gotta say that if you are a family bringing children with you to T&C, I don’t think there is a better property for you. They have a fun DJ that engages the kids, live entertainment, water games, Sesame Street characters, and daycare to entertain your kids while you hit the spa or relax at the pool. Not to mention, its all-inclusive.

The Palms property is immaculate. Everything about it is perfectly well kept and well-manicured. The staff only refer to you as Sir or Ma’am and go out of their way to make you feel like you are true royalty.

The hotel had a full-service breakfast included daily from 7am to 10am and the bed in the rooms could only be described as gigantic. A California King maybe? I don’t ever think I’ve slept that well in years. I’ll have to invest in a new mattress at the very least. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful the pool at the hotel was. The water was heated to a perfect 84 degrees. Now, that sounds hot, but when the sun is blazing at 91 degrees, slipping into a perfectly temperature controlled pool is pure heaven. 

Dinner – Parallel23 at The Palms

For our first night, we stayed on the property and had drinks and dinner at Paralell23, which was one of the property’s restaurants. We made a great decision. The service, drinks, and food were all amazing. I had seared Ahi Tuna and it was perfectly cooked. Usually when you order fish, you get a small piece with some bullshit garnish on the side. I’m guessing that the fish they caught that day was as big as a shark because the serving that I had was probably more tuna than I’ve had in my last 5 order s combined. And it was delicious. We ate outside in the hotel’s open courtyard. It was beautiful and romantic to sit amongst the stars in warm breezy weather.

Paralell23

Sidenote: Many of the other travel blogs and forums warn visitors to the island about the terrible mosquito population. I even read some weird things about sand fleas and water bugs in the ocean…

I’m not sure if any of that is true, or maybe it was just the time of year that we went, but we were out all hours of the day and night for 5 nights and didn’t see “not a near nutta” goddamn mosquito! Its propaganda! Zika my ass. 

Dinner- Kalooki’s

We ventured offsite to a local restaurant call Kalooki’s. The taxi driver picked us up and was clearly high as fuck. He even had the Even had the Cheetos ready on the floor for later. We see you, Rasta. 

If you love Caribbean food, T&C is your heaven. Many of the restaurants are either Caribbean or Seafood and given where the island is in the world, you are getting the best of the best most authentic dishes. Dinner was solid and of course I had to get my first taste of Jerk Chicken, Coconut Rice and Plantains.

Turks and Caicos Dream Tours – Snorkeling

Busting five knots, wind whipping out my coat
You can’t stop me, motherfucker, ’cause I’m on a boat.

The Lonely Island

We booked a half-day snorkeling trip with Dream Tours Turks and Caicos. The whole thing was really well planned. Its a 4-hour trip with drinks, food, and tour included for $95.00 each. They take you about an hour offshore into the ocean, give you a life preserver, flippers, and a snorkel and lead you out into the ocean to see sea creatures and coral reef.

This is where I have to be a bit of a downer. If you’ve ever seen what the Coral Reef looked like before mankind destroyed it, you remember seeing creatures and vegetation every color of the rainbow. 

The damage that we’ve done to the ozone, oceans, and planet has burned the reefs and turned them brown and desolate. It’s still a sight to behold and there is still plenty of life out there, but knowing what it used to be like is a little saddening considering what we know and what we could have done to improve the situation.

With that said, the experience was still incredible and a lot of fun. I personally have never snorkeled before and had to learn how fairly quickly with no land around and no real places to rest save for the boat we rode in on. I’m happy to say that I did fairly well. Swimming in the ocean with a mask covering your nose and nothing to breathe out but a plastic tube can be panic-inducing. Especially when the waves get high and fill up the only apparatus you are breathing from. But you adapt quickly and pretty soon you just start to trust your swimming skills and just have fun. I had a blast. 

About halfway through the excursion, they dropped us off on a mini island in the middle of the ocean inhabited by nothing but iguanas. It was beautiful but also crazy. I love adventure and typically read a lot of fun fiction and fantasy stories. Its wild to think about washing up on an uninhabited island with nothing to eat but iguana and coconuts, and nothing but your wits to keep you alive. 

After an hour of exploring the island, we set sail for home. 

Dinner – Fish Fry

Everyone on the island, and even friends from back home told us that we couldn’t come to T&C and not go to the fish fry. After many many recommendations from the islanders, we figured out that its basically a large gathering of food trucks and vendors from around the island. You are on the island to spend money and have a good time so it’s a great way to support local businesses and their families, and also experience more of the islands culture than a hotel or resort can offer. It’s definitely a must-go.

The different foods were great. You had everything from Jerk Chicken to Homemade Ice Cream and Coconut Rum drinks fresh off the trees. Also, it was the first day of Lobster season so many of the vendors were grilling up freshly caught lobsters. Jerk Lobster. Boiled Lobster. Fried Lobster. It was incredible.

There was also a live DJ and MC that sang and entertained the crowd. People danced like fools and later on in the night, a Caribbean band made their way through the crowd and really got things going. You’re guaranteed to have a good time. Just ask anyone where the fish fry is. They’ll point you in the exact direction.

Lunch – Somewhere Else

Another spot that was recommended to us was a lunch spot called Something Else. It was about a 15 minute walk from our resort down the beach, so we walked down the coast and arrived just in time for an outdoor lunch under shady umbrellas. 

The burger was surprisingly good but the real surprise was that there was FREE snorkeling just along the beach in front of another resort. We borrowed some snorkels and swam about 150 yards out to see a beautiful display of reef and fish just by the beach! As opposed to the middle of the ocean, we are only about 15-30 feet up in some spots but to our surprise, we ran into a few Sea Turtles grazing on some vegetation along the reefs. It was the one time during the trip where I wish I had a waterproof Go Pro to film the moment. 

My takeaway here is, you don’t always have to spend a ton of money to have fun on vacation. We paid about $250.00 during our first snorkeling outing. It was still amazing experience, but the free snorkeling trip was just as good or better. Keep your eyes open and weigh your options carefully but don’t be afraid to pull the trigger when new opportunities arise.

Somewhere Else

Dinner – Coco Bistro 

So this was the big one. The restaurant that we had heard so much about and planned around our last night on the trip. Before dinner, we decided to chill at the pool and have a few drinks before getting ready to leave to the restaurant.

Being the friendly New Yorkers that we are, we struck up some conversation with a group of people that were at the resort on a work-trip. Their company Edward Jones, comped their entire stay and all their food and drinks! Pretty nice setup, huh? So, them being friendly and hospitable, decided to extend their free and comp’ed drink status to us! Thoughtful, right?

We stayed in the pool and drank and laughed while we got to know them and traded stories of living in different parts of the country. I’m even sure there were a few shots in there somewhere. We said our goodbyes and went back to our room to get ready for dinner.

…We made it the 30 yard walk back to the room before both of us started tripping over our feet and falling into the walls.

You should know: When you are drinking on solid ground, you’ll know fairly quickly if your body has had too much alcohol because you may lose your balance and equilibrium and will instantly know if you need to slow it down or stop altogether.

When you’re drinking in a pool however, you aren’t holding your full body weight and thus its harder for your brain and body to compensate and fully understand the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed. 

Rookie Mistake.

We both jumped in the shower and tried to quickly get ready for dinner but it was too damn late. My wife fell OUT of the goddamn shower and I ended up face down in the bed with nothing but a hotel robe on. I can’t tell you if it was opened or closed so don’t ask. It wasn’t one of my prouder moments.

I spent 4 hours vomiting into the room’s ice bucket while my wife rocked back and forth on the hotel couch trying not to pass out.

Me: Babe. Babe. I’m dying. I feel so sick. I’ve never been this drunk in my lifffffeeeee!

Wifey: Do you need to go to the hospital?!

Me: YES! Please call an ambulance! I need an IV!

Wifey: Fuck you! I’m not calling 911! We aren’t even in America! Tough it out!

Me: Please, help me!

Wifey: I’m sick too! I’m going to order room service…

I don’t remember eating, but we both woke up around 2:00am to a trashed hotel room covered in fries, a half-eaten burger, chipotle mayo on the floor and two unworn outfits meant for a classy dinner for two.

Me: …I think we missed our reservation.

Aside from our… indiscretion with the drinks and shots in the hotel pool, our vacation was incredible. We’ll definitely be back and we highly recommend Turks and Caicos. Let us know if you ever have any questions or need any recommendations.

Music

Bob Marley was everywhere on the island. He’ll truly live forever through these cultures. His music is EVERYWHERE and it’s almost like he’s a member of your vacation party. I grew up on his music and learnings and its truly beautiful to see his legacy respected and carried on so well all over the island.

Here are a few selections that speak well to our vacation and overall vibe:

Useful Phrases

Wa Gwaan: What’s going on? (my personal favorite)

Yeah Mon: Yeah Man

I soon reach: I’ll get there when I get there

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Objectively Black in Montreal – Shuttlecock Boyz

For our mid-summer classic, we wanted to escape America but didn’t want to travel too far. Europe is in the midst of one the hottest heat wave in recorded history, and as for tropical locations, we’re not really beach bums. So Montréal, Quebec Canada was our winner. We rolled 4 deep with a strong crew of no-nonsense gents who will forever from this day forth be known as “The Shuttlecock Boyz” (more on that later). 

Montréal is a beautiful town with a chill vibe and Parisian sensibilities. We’ll let you know how our trip went, what the people are like, where to eat, and where (or where not) to party. Let’s get into it. 

Air Canada Flight

The flight was quick, and no-stress. (Pro-tip: At LGA Terminal B, priority pass select is complimentary for Chase Sapphire Reserve holders). Including taxi, take-off, and landing, you’re looking at about an hour and fifteen minutes all in. That’s light work. There was one small child on the flight but he wasn’t a problem. He spoke at a decibel louder than should be allowed for a child of his age only once and the homie Idris Grey was all over it:

Idris: “PUT THAT BABY ON VIBRATE!”

Customs is pretty much non-existent in Canada. Being Americans, we were prepared for hell on earth. 

Patdowns. 

Questionnaires. 

Full cell phone data uploads. 

Solitary Confinement. 

Waterboarding… 

But we got off easy. We punched a few buttons on a computer console, and proceeded to the nice girl at customs. 

Customs Girl:So. What brings you to Canada?”

OB:Well, we are here to-”

Customs Girl: “A Bachelor party. You’re here for a bachelor party. I get it” *winks*

OB:What? No. No, no, there’s no bache-”

Customs Girl: “No, its fine. You boys have a good time.”

*winks with the other eye*

OB: “…..Ok, thank you…”

DAY 1

We caught our first Uber of the trip and it was 5 mins in the car before the driver started confessing his undying love for Celine Dion. Stay Candaian, Canada.

Arriving at the hotel, our accommodations can be described as a boutique hotel, but it was the location that stood out. Seeing as how we were likely going to be out until 3:00am every night, we essentially just needed a place to sleep. We ain’t broke boys out here. We could have stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, but again, the hotel was in the perfect location. Right at the beginning of Rue Saint-Laurent; Hotel 10 is on one of the most poppin streets in the city. We got situated in our rooms and then hit the streets to officially get some drinks and start this vacation right. 

In Montreal, the winters are long and brutal, so people generally take advantage of the summer time. It seems like everyone in Montreal is in amazing shape (America, lay off the cheese fries) and the women are just flat out beautiful. It not just their physical looks either, it’s their energy as well. Everyone is walking around smiling and generally in a good mood. Coming from NYC and LA where everyone has a hustle and will only deal with you if you can help them out in some fucked up way, it was refreshing to see people just enjoying their lives. You ask us, the sexiest thing a person can do is smile. Well, that and bussdown.

Toddry: The women here are beautiful! I’m here for these bad bitches!”

Dougie: “Settle down fam, we haven’t even had a drink or anything to eat yet.”

THE Joe Dressel: Hold up. You guys came all the way here to play BADMINTON?”

Toddry: What?! No! Bad BITCHES.”

THE Joe Dressel: Ohhhhhh”

Toddry:I’m trying to serve that ShuttleCOCK!”

All: “LOLOLOLOL”

End scene

St. Laurent Blvd has an amazing art scene. It’s almost like an outdoor museum. There are galleries, street art, and murals everywhere. From what we’ve heard, new art pieces are commissioned yearly to bring new energy and culture to the community.

Going back to our comparisons about what we see in Canada vs. America, Canada doesn’t seem to have the same inhibitions or social stigmas about many parts of life. Men and Women are covered in beautiful tattoos. Sex isn’t looked at as some evil societal burden, and graffiti isn’t stashed away in dark corners of the city. It’s displayed proudly as a legitimate expressive art form.

Shaker Kitchen and Mixology – St. Laurent Blvd (henceforth known as SLB).

Lunch was dope. Shaker specializes in Cocktails and Gourmet Burgers. The selection for each were on point and we also got our first taste of poutine. The waiter was gracious enough to teach some of us a few phrases to get along during the week and also interact with the fairer sex. We should note though, that damn near everyone we spoke with has both French AND English on lock. Again, America you’re slacking.  

Reservior – Brewpub & Rooftop Bar

We chilled up here for a while. The rooftop opened at 2pm and was decorated nicely in a chill garden vibe. At this point we had a nice day drinking buzz going so the rest of the details are a little hazy to us right now.

Taverne Midway – Gay Village

For dinner, we went to Taverne Midway. Apparently, its been around since 1927 and it definitely had an old town feel. The food was solid and there was a free pool table in the back that was clutch albeit in poor condition.

TRH Bar – Bar/Dance Floor and Half-pipe?!

As we bar hopped up and down SLB, we stumbled into a divey as fuck club called TRH Bar. It had a dance floor and a quarter pipe?! The people here were more interested in their turn on the bowl than actually doing any dancing. The shit was straight up entertaining to say the least. It looked like a scene out of Ninja Turtles or the Lost Boys from Hook. Bangarang.

Tokyo Bar – Bar/Club

Another interesting (but divey) spot on SLB. The DJ was INCREDIBLE and really knew his stuff. He was hittin us from all angles with classic cut after classic cut. The crowd was moving and we probably had more fun at this place than many others. The only caveat about this spot (and most of Montreal) is that the drinking age is 18. Because of this, many bars and clubs have really young crowds. Some of these kids looked like they were seeing dance for the first time. 

DAY 2

St. ViateurBagel Shop

This place is on damn near every “must visit” list for Montreal. So we had to do it right? Maybe we just did it wrong because we just were not impressed. Again, we were all hung over so maybe we were expecting something more robust. Either way, we got to the front of the line (side note: all lines in montreal, no matter how long they are, move very quickly and efficiently) and made our order:

Bagel Bro: “How many bagel you want?”

Idris: *Looks at menu* Yeah so, we –

Bagel Bro: “My friend. How many bagel you want?”

THE Joe Dressel: Don’t rush us. You’re making us panic, dude.”

Bagel Bro: “How. Many. Bagel. You. Want?!”

Idris: “Fam, Just give us 6 random bagels with cream cheese…”

Toddry: Fuck, that was stressful. I feel like we are in an episode of Seinfeld.

Terassee William Gray – Rooftop Bar/Amazing View of Old Port

The William Grey Hotel is a 4-5 star property that has a gorgeous rooftop bar with what we deemed was the best view in all of Montreal. Its located in the Old Port and for that reason it really gives you an old paris feel. The hostesses and waitresses are lovely and friendly. The vibe was chill and we kicked it here for most of the morning while we nursed various stages of hangovers.

Fesitval International Nuits D’Afrique

Later in the afternoon we randomly stumbled upon an African/Latin music festival. We heard the conga drums from afar and couldn’t resist checking it out. When your culture calls, you answer. This completely free festival had food, amazing music, and vendor selling local art and clothing.

It was really beautiful to see people of all shades just living it up and enjoying the music. People were camped out on blankets and kids of all ages were out dancing with their parents. It was a great experience.

Joe Beef – French Restaurant

This highly rated and recommended restaurant was booked months before our trip. It was popular and thus difficult to get a reservation. Joe Beef was easily the best meal of our trip. We liken the experience to visiting Paris without going. We recommend that you get a few appetizers and share the entrees to get a full sampling of all the different flavors this restaurant has to offer. 

Philemon – Lounge

We went here to have some drinks before officially going out for the night, but the vibe was so great that we probably should have stayed here…. Like typical millennials, we wanted more than what we had, and so since we had a list of 2-3 other places to try out that night, we left and shot ourselves in the foot because none of the other places we went that night were as poppin. Bird in the hand, I guess. Lesson learned. 

Muzique

Good music. Crazy crowded. 

By the way, to the customs agent who made wild accusations about why we were in Montreal, there were waaaaaayyyyyyyy more bachelorette parties than bachelor parties in Montreal. So you need to re-evaluate your biases my dear lady.

La Voute “The Vault”Nightclub

La Voute aka “The Vault, is a nightclub that was built into an old bank vault. Cool idea, I guess. Many of the ladies we spoke to recommended that we go here to avoid the younger crowds. It was supposed to be a “real nightclub” which usually means real money. 

Dougie: Hey my man, we’ve got 4.”

Bouncer: “…”

bouncer turns around and consults some wannabe Instagram model. IG model, while smacking on a piece of gum, without even looking up from her phone whispers something to the bouncer.

….The bouncer turns back to us.

Bouncer: $800.00”

Dougie: … 

*walks away*

We re-enacted this scene about 10 different times throughout the rest of the trip. If nothing else, this was a great reminder that laughter is always the best medicine because you have to be on some SUCKA SHIT to pay $800.00 to get into a “club”.

DAY 3

Cafe Saint Barth – Cafe Bistro

Terassee William Gray – Pt. 2

We went back to this spot because we had such a great time the first go round. Since it was Saturday, there were many more people out and the whole city was ready to party. We saw some of the gents that we met in line at La Voute the night before who actually paid the “cover”. Apparently we dodged a bullet and saved $800.00 because the club was a straight sausage fest! Nothing but groups of dudes who’d been suckered. Always trust your gut people.

La Pequeno Bar – 

This was a tiny speakeasy with a true mixologist. You could honestly extend both arms and probably touch both walls. Maybe the best mojitos we’ve ever had. 

Bord’elle

Bord’elle is a “Supper Club”. Basically means you eat dinner, and then they clear out the tables and it turns into a nightclub. Supposedly there are burlesque dancers and cirque du soleil type shit modeled after The Great Gatsby. Not our bag, but it was highly recommended, “you see, old sport?”

The catch is, if you want to stay for the club, you’ve got to drop $800.00 on bottle service for the night. We had a prior reservation but cancelled because the food is supposed to be trash. I know a hustle when I see one, so we cancelled the rez.

We dropped by later in the night to see what the energy was looking like. The crowd was sexy and it looked like the place to be, so we went to the doorman and had a quick convo.

Dougie: “Hey my guy, we were here earlier with a reservation. Can you get the 4 of us in?”

Bouncer: “4 guys. $600.00”

Dougie: -_-

People, there may be some suckas out there, but we ain’t them. I don’t care where you are in life or what your level of income is …DO NOT PAY $800.00 TO GET INTO A ROOM.

Also, “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.” 

Heat

BLVD44

This club is attached to Hotel 10 and since we were guests, there’d be no cover and no hassle. Seems like it would have been fun. 2 floors of Hip-Hop with a local famous DJ on the 1s and 2s…But we were exhausted and flights were early so we just kicked it for the rest of the trip.

Overall, we’d highly recommend Montreal. The people are nice, laid back, and no drama. Sure, the nightlife is a hustle if you want to do the fuckboy shit but there are way too many options to have a miserable night. There are a ton of different bars, clubs, lounges, and vibes. You can’t always look things up online, and you shouldn’t just take recommendations either. Feel it out and figure out what YOUR comfort zone will allow for. Chances are there is a scene that’s perfect for you. Figure things out for yourself and just go with the flow.


Epilogue: When we arrived at the airport, we were surprised to find out that 3 out of the 4 of us had the same AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Luggage. We honestly can’t stress to you how sturdy, durable, compact, and affordable this luggage is. Why would you drop $225.00 on Away luggage that has the same utility when you could pay $49.99 for something that will be reliable all over the world? The 20″ luggage fits perfectly in an overhead and is the perfect size for a quick 3-day weekend. Let’s shop smart people. Save that $175.00 on something that you really want.

AmazonBasics Hardside Spinner Luggage – $49.99

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help us keep this site up and running. Thank you for your support!

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Objectively Black does South America – Pt. 2

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the second part of our South America trip in Cartagena de Indias more commonly known as ‘Cartagena’ Colombia. When most of us hear Colombia, we immediately think about “Narcos”. And while that show is one of the best series that Netflix has ever produced, we knew that the show was not at all an accurate representation of the current state of Colombia. Still, we made sure to do our research before we went. But we found out it was that Cartegena is very safe and makes for a great stop during your trip across South America. There are no special visas required for either Peru or Columbia and although it helps to speak espanol, many of the local people speak English.

Once again we took Avianca Airlines into Columbia. Now I don’t know if this is normal for flying into Columbia from Peru or if this was just a rare occurrence, but our flight was turbulent. I’m pretty sure the entire plane was making their peace with God at a certain point. Thankfully we made it to our first stop in Cali. We had a quick layover where we enjoyed a hamburger made with actual ham. They also provided a pre-mixed mayonnaise and ketchup condiment usually in the States you have to make that by yourself. We appreciate that touch.

The very first thing we noticed was how HOT it was. When we left Peru it was 36 degrees. We were wearing coats, but just a few hours later we were in 90-degree weather. Our next goal was to find a cab. And to answer your question, yes Uber works down here. Our Uber driver showed up in a completely tinted out Honda Civic with a ridiculous spoiler, Tokyo Drift style. At that moment we looked at each other and questioned whether or not we should enter this car. We’ve heard some horror stories about taxis and even Uber’s so so we were jokingly a little weary. Nevertheless, we are men. So without question, we got in that car wondering if we would ever see the states again. Needless to say, our Uber driver was awesome and gave our Spanish-speaking friend some tips about where to the best food was, the tourist locations, and even some unsolicited tips on picking the right hooker… I swear it was unsolicited. Having been in South America for several days now, driving through another city was no big deal. I mean seriously, at this point we felt like locals. I was even speaking some Spanish via osmosis. I guess that if I had stayed or a good month or so, I’d be fluent in the language.

Anyway, after the two flights from Peru, we were pretty exhausted so when we got to our hotel within the walled city. (Hotel Casa de la Trinidad) Note: Make sure that when you do travel to Cartegena you stay in the walled city. We did wander out by mistake, nothing happened, but you want to stay within the confines. It’s just safer. We crashed for a few hours and by the time we got up, it was night time in Cartegena so we began to explore the city. When you are within the walled City you can’t go wrong. Our hotel room was right next to several restaurants and Nightclubs in the “Old Town” and we felt safe in every spot. We passed by a spot called Restaurante Coroncoro and decided to have some food before we drank. The carne asada hit and become our dish of choice for the remainder of the trip. Once we had eaten we decided to walk avoid for a bit and get a feel for the vibe. The streets were packed with tourists and locals. Salsa music was blasting through seemingly every doorway. It seemed like everyone in the city was partying. The very first spot we hit was a small bar called the “Tipsy deer”. We grabbed a few ‘cervezas’ and had a nice conversation with the 2 bartenders there. If you ever find your way to the tipsy deer, tell them that we sent you. We also noticed a club across the street called Cafe Havana. We heard the live music playing while we passed by and asked about the cover which was 30k Columbian with is about $10. We decided that we would come back on a different night since the band was already in full swing and we didn’t want to miss any of the show.

So we continued our night and headed towards ‘Plaza de los Coches’. Fair warning, if you come here at night time you will be surrounded by escorts and savages trying to broker deals. Seriously it was like wall street up in there. Needless to say, we don’t pay for it. Sex is better free(ish) yall know what I mean? So we continued. I’m kind of angry at myself for not taking more pictures of the nightlife but we didn’t want to stick even further out. Pulling out my phone while the block is lit just never occurred to me. The streets taught us better than that. But the streets were really packed and so were the clubs. There were lines to get into a few of them and in everyone, the music was hittin’ and the drinks were cheap (by our standards) The dollar is strong yall. Thanks, Trump! One of the clubs that stuck out was Alquimico Bar. If there is one thing regarding the nightlife in Cartegena you need to trust me on, its this place. The drink menu was large and the staff was awesome and skilled. There are 3 levels in the bar. The ground and 2nd level play a combination of hip hop and dance music, while the top-level rooftop plays a mix of Spanish, Brazilian, and even African music. It was easy mingling with the people out there. Everyone was easy going, and positive. You could sense the love out there for real. Just be sure to ask any girl you hit on if she’s an escort before you fall for her. Learn from our mistakes. We hopped around several different bars the first night. Some had covers but the bouncers were nice enough to let 1 person in your crew check the place out before you paid to see if it was packed enough for your liking. We got back to our hotel that night feeling pretty excited about the rest of the trip.

The next day in Objectively Black fashion, we decided to have a workout and walk around Cartagena. The city is beautiful. The streets are lined with colorful colonial-style buildings. There are beautiful murals painted all across the city and plenty of historic statues and squares to visit. The markets are worth walking through as well. Even for those of you who hate shopping like me, you’ll want to pick up some souvenirs. The markets offer some authentic handmade crafts. One of the many spots we explored was Castillo San Felipe de Barajas / Fortress of San Felipe. Now did we mention the heat? The day we decided to summit this fortress it was well into the 90s and humid as all fuck. Still, we climbed. Our short trip to Peru may have come in handy, because next to the climbing that we did in Peru, climbing this castle was nothing. Next, we hit La Paletteria a Popsicle dessert shop in the middle of the old town. There are several different flavors divided by ‘base’ yogurt, water or cream. On a hot day of walking, one of these really hits the spot.

By chance, we were in Columbia during Copa America and we were able to catch the Columbia game against Argentina. We watched the game at Mister Babilla, a night club that was showing the game on several projectors in the venue. As you would expect the atmosphere inside was crazy. Futbol is bigger than religion out there so we were very lucky to be in Columbia during this even. This ranked up there with the most authentic experiences we had in the city. We just got lucky, but if you can, try planning your trip around a similar event to experience futbol in South America.

One of the most important things for us to do what to see an authentic live salsa band in Columbia. And to do that we went right back to Cafe Havana. If you remember we stopped by earlier in our trip but decided that it would be best to arrive early one night. And we were right. We arrived at Cafe Havana around 10 pm. By that point, most of the tables had already been taken. Luckily we found a table right next to the stage which was also close to the bar. The band played for about an hour and needless to say they were amazing. The entire place was lit. And this was my favorite part of the trip. It wasn’t even close.

South America has a million different things to offer. If you have the opportunity I will suggest taking way more than just two weeks to travel the continent. But if you do just have a few days to travel you could do much worse than Peru and Colombia. Both offer vastly different experiences yet they’re only hours apart. Listen, Objectively Black is traveling a lot this year. If you want to stay up-to-date on what we’re doing and get a good idea of what these different places have to offer, keep following. And also let us know what you think. Where do you want us to travel to next?

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