Travel to Little Rock, Arkansas – Episode 450 Transcript

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transcript of Travel to Little Rock, Arkansas – Episode 450

Chris: Amateur Traveler, episode 450 today. The Amateur Traveler talks about Razorbacks and hushpuppies and Central High School as we go to Little Rock, Arkansas. Welcome to the Amateur Traveler, I’m your host Chris Christensen. We’ll hear more from both of our sponsors later on but first let’s hear about Little Rock.

This episode of Amateur Traveler is sponsored by DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. These colorful guide books are filled with great information and are one of my favorite guide books. I have 20 of them here on my bookshelf. There are more at dk.com. This episode is also sponsored by trippy.com. Trippy.com is a leading travel community and a great place for you to get answers to your travel questions or to answer to the travel questions for other people or connect with fellow travelers. Check that out at trippy.com.

Chris: I’d like to welcome the show Sarah Beth Jones and Alison Chino from sarahbethjones.com and alisonchino.com who have come to talk to us about Little Rock Arkansas. Sarah Beth and Alison, welcome to the show.

Sarah: Thank you.

Alison: Thank you so much. We’re glad to be here.

Sarah: I am so excited.

Chris: I met Sarah Beth and Alison in Meteora, Greece, which is actually what we talked about in the show last week. But we’ve come to talk to about their hometown as well. Well Alison is currently living elsewhere but you’re both from Little Rock.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: That’s right.

Sarah: Yes.

Chris: And why should someone come and visit Little Rock Arkansas?

Sarah: Oh, my gosh, there are so many reasons.

Alison: So many.

Sarah: We love being from Little Rock. We love being from the south. We think people are friendly here. It’s a beautiful, natural place. And there’s lots of fun things to do here that we’re excited to tell you about.

Alison: We think Little Rock is underrated city because it’s overlooked.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Because it’s a little bit smaller. They’re just two to 300,000 in the whole area of Little Rock. But because it’s smaller it’s not crowded and you can see a lot of it without sitting in traffic.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Or things are compact in downtown Little Rock so you can see a lot of it even on foot.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: But it’s a beautiful city. It’s right on the Arkansas River.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: And there are five now pedestrian bridges going over in the river and for pedestrians and bikes. And so there’s this whole culture of being outside.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Right downtown on the river on your bike and on foot. And both sides of the river have downtown areas that welcome the traveler.

Chris: And you mentioned both now the biking here as well as being the natural setting. So my impression is that it’s not just those bridges but you got bike pass that go off for miles.

Alison: Yes.

Sarah: Yes.

Chris: In fact when we were there last summer we went to… and this is going to sound like I’m not too rated but we went to the Big Dam Bridge.

Alison: Big Dam Bridge.

Sarah: Big Dam Bridge. Yes.

Alison: Yes.

Chris: We bridged over the Big Dam.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Exactly.

Chris: Which was part of the bike pass system too. Lovely area.

Sarah: It’s a beautiful view.

Chris: Yeah, I happen to be there on a not tremendously hot day in the summer. I suspect there are few of those.

Sarah: Yes. Yes.

Chris: And watch the boats rather on the Arkansas River going through the rocks there. So we’re going to cover outside activities a little while later but let’s go downtown first of all.

Sarah: Okay.

Chris: What should I see, do and eat while I’m in the Little Rock?

Sarah: Oh gosh. Okay. If you’re in downtown Little Rock, there are so many great things. It’s a great area to just walk around with a big shopping sort of indoor, outdoor area called the River Market. And during the spring and summer and even in the early fall there’s a Farmer’s Market that is on the back side of that so you can get.

Chris: On the river side.

Sarah: Yes, on the river side. And so you can get all kinds of fresh food, fruit, flowers, all kinds of crafts. Yes.

Alison: That’s on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Sarah: There’s lots of restaurants on the inside of the pavilion and then also in the surrounding area. And we’re talking about some of our favorites down there. We love the flying fish.

Alison: Or frying catfish and hushpuppies and you cannot come to Arkansas and not eat them.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: We have that one time.

Sarah: Yes.

Chris: I’m sure that most people could figure out what a fried catfish is but I’m not sure that everybody knows what a hushpuppy is.

Alison: Oh, that’s a yummy thing.

Sarah: It is.

Alison: It’s like a little fried ball of deliciousness.

Sarah: Yes. It’s like a corn meal sort of battery dough and they roll it into a ball and fry it. You could not get more southern than a hushpuppy.

Alison: Than a hushpuppy.

Chris: When in doubt fried to is my understanding of the southern people.

Alison: That’s right. That’s right.

Sarah: Absolutely. Absolutely. And they’re wonderful just plain. Some people put like little bits of jalapeno. They’re so good.

Alison: Yeah.

Sarah: You have to have one like here.

Alison: Yes.

Sarah: So we love the flying fish. We love the Capital Bar and Grill. That’s part of the Capital Hotel, which is a beautiful historic hotel in downtown.

Alison: We think just go ahead and stay at the Capital Hotel. That’s our recommendation.

Sarah: Their slogan is that ‘They’re the front porch of the south. And it’s just this.

Alison: They’ve won a lot of awards.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Top 10, the historic hotel.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: In the country.

Sarah: And the staff there is just incredible. I mean they just as soon as you walk in the door they’re right there with you. They’re wonderful.

Alison: It’s our favorite place. Sarah and I…

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: …love to meet at the Capital Hotel for drinks.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Okay. You just go life and thinking of home.

Chris: Well, and we should say that the name comes from the fact that Little Rock in case somebody is from outside the US.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Absolutely.

Chris: Is the capital of Arkansas.

Alison: Exactly.

Sarah: Yes. Yes.

Alison: Exactly. That’s true.

Sarah: Yes.

Chris: Although the capital is a little farther away from the downtown area you’re describing where the River Market is.

Alison: Maybe, yeah.

Sarah: A couple miles. Yeah, maybe.

Alison: Maybe a mile. It’s worth visiting.

Sarah: Mm-hmm. And just in that area of walking around still there’s a lot of other great restaurants. Stickyz is a great little place to go in and.

Alison: Flying saucer down the area.

Sarah: Yeah. The flying saucer has like I don’t know 300 different beers that you can get. Right in front of the River Market, that street is lined with restaurants and bars. And there’s a piano, actually there’s two piano bars that are across the street with each other that kind of do. Anyway, it’s just a fun area to walk around. And also the Clinton Library Museum Store is on that same stretch of street. And it’s a great shop to wonder in and find all kinds of interesting things.

Alison: And the museum of discovery if you’re in Little Rock with kids. It’s a world class children’s museum.

Sarah: Yes. Also on that same.

Alison: And the Jack Stephens’ Nature Center is down there too.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: And it’s great for kids.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: And it’s free.

Sarah: It is which is always good if you have a big family like both of us.

Chris: You mentioned the Clinton Museum Store are the potential libraries.

Sarah: Yes.

Chris: We’re kind of bearing the lead here with that part of the redevelopment has happened.

Sarah: Yes. Yes.

Chris: Since they built a certain building in the downtown Little Rock.

Alison: Yes.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: The big Clinton presidential library.

Sarah: Yes. So if you go all the way to the end of the street that we’re talking about which it runs right into the Clinton Library.

Alison: Clinton Library.

Sarah: Library. Yes. The presidential library.

Chris: The presidential library. Right.

Sarah: Yes. Yes, which is a gorgeous building. They have a rotating exhibit that come through. One of the lightest that has been here has been the Chihuly glass.

Chris: I happened to be there when the Chihuly glass was there.

Alison: Exhibits.

Sarah: Exhibit.

Alison: Yes.

Sarah: Yes, which has been gorgeous. And then of course they have the regular presidential displays there all the time.

Chris: Okay. Now, has it occurred to anyone that the shape of the building that they built. I mean it’s a beautiful building. Its looks.

Sarah: I know exactly what you’re going to say.

Chris: You know where I’m going with this. Looks a little bit like a mobile home.

Alison: I’m right there with you.

Sarah: No, we’re not supposed to say that although our fellow Arkansans will. But yes that was very common.

Alison: Yes. A very common.

Sarah: It bursts open. And it’s funny because it does resemble that on the outside but it’s one of those buildings that once you get inside of it is really beautifully built. The light comes in everywhere. It’s just gorgeous.

Alison: And the views of the river.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Was that a railroad bridge over there?

Chris: It was a railroad bridge. Yeah.

Sarah: Yes. It’s a cross stream [SP] bridge as well. Yes.

Alison: It usually have fresh flowers and all the little flower boxes and we love that bridge.

Chris: Well, the three things that I think I appreciate about the Clinton Library, it’s really the only second of the presidential libraries I’ve been to. There’s about 20 in the US as I recall, maybe it’s fewer than that.

Alison: Okay.

Chris: You can get a presidential library pass to check one off everything you go to one.

Sarah: I didn’t know that.

Chris: Yes. I’ve been to that one and the JFK one in Massachusetts. My wife has also been to the Reagan one in California. All of them very interesting but I did like that they have a replica of the oval house as well as the.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Yes.

Chris: Cabinet rooms but it’s also interesting they have the schedule for every day by hour what the president was doing for eight years.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: It’s amazing.

Sarah: It’s fascinating. Isn’t that?

Chris: But there is a lot of information there and then really good video presentations. Now, obviously.

Sarah: Yes.

Chris: From a Clinton point of view he had a say in it.

Alison: Yes.

Chris: Because he is a living ex-president in the United States.

Alison: Yes.

Sarah: Yes. Of course.

Chris: But I thought it was very interesting, very interesting museum.

Sarah: Yes. There is a wonderful restaurant in the very bottom of the Clinton library. And it’s called 42.

Chris: Okay.

Sarah: And you can sit there and look out right over the river.

Chris: Got it. Now, I see he was president 42 of the United States government.

Sarah: Yes.

Chris: All right. That makes perfect sense.

Sarah: Yes. You should have been able to do that.

Alison: And you know what right around the corner from the library is the Heifer Village, which we also have on your list.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: To do with or without kids, the Heifer project is a great company that started on Arkansas.

Chris: Okay.

Sarah: Heifer International.

Alison: Heifer International where you can buy the animals for.

Sarah: Developing countries.

Alison: Developing countries.

Chris: Right.

Alison: All over the world. And they have a great display about how that all works. They have just a museum in there. I mean there headquarter is there as well. And it’s one of the first buildings in Arkansas.

Sarah: Be LEED certified.

Alison: Yeah. And so you can tour the building as well but then they also have a museum where it’s just a great interactive displays…

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: …about developing countries and about how their supports … it’s just a beautiful.

Sarah: It’s one of those things that you think it’s going to be a really interesting place to take your kids and let them learn about the world and what’s like. And then you get in there and you realize how much you don’t realize it.

Alison: Yeah.

Sarah: And they have all these displays that help you imagine what life is like growing up in another country.

Chris: Right.

Alison: Country.

Chris: Well, in a project that’s looking at getting Heifers obviously, cows or goats especially for the milk into poor areas…

Alison: Yes.

Sarah: Yes.

Chris: …as a source of income. And we’ve walked on the show recently about passport with purpose, the project that’s done by traveler bloggers.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Yes.

Chris: And the very first passport was purpose was supporting the Heifer projects.

Sarah: That’s so great.

Alison: That’s nice.

Sarah: I mean they really do such great work or so.

Chris: And next week’s guest actually is Mara Gorman from Passports with Purpose so.

Sarah: That’s very exciting.

Alison: That’s very fun.

Chris: Let’s take a break here and hear from our sponsor with just DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. I did not find an Eyewitness Travel Guide for Little Rock. I certainly don’t have one here on my bookshelf but I did notice that in the latest guides for North America, there is both an Eyewitness Travel Guide to New Orleans as well as a Top 10 New Orleans guide. And the difference between the two, the Eyewitness Guide is the larger guide. The Top 10 guide is going to fit in your jean’s back pocket but the Eyewitness Travel Guide carry more when I have cargo short because it’s a little bigger but it is small enough to fit in my cargo short’s pocket.

And so we’re going to talk a lot about food in this episode. If you had your DK Eyewitness Travel Guide in your pocket, you’d get a lot of information about restaurants as well as hotels in addition to some of the information about the destination that we’ve been talking about in previous episodes about museums and sites, maps guides and historical information. If you check out the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides at dk.com, I think you’ll find out why they are in fact one of my favorite travel guides. But don’t just take my word for it, pick one up today.

Chris: The one thing I have to say we talked about the Clinton library looking a bit like a mobile home and you said trailer I said mobile home. And the reason I did…

Sarah: No.

Chris: …was that after Clinton was the Governor of the State, the next governor as I recall.

Alison: Yes.

Chris: Moved out of the.

Alison: Yes. It’s true.

Chris: The governor’s mansion.

Alison: May have been.

Chris: So that they could renovate it.

Alison: Right.

Chris: And they moved into a mobile home.

Alison: Yes, wide.

Chris: A double wide, was triple wide, okay.

Alison: Oh it was a triple wide.

Sarah: He’s the governor. Come on.

Chris: And they had the governor and his wife on the Jay Leno Show talking about.

Sarah: Yes.

Chris: Because he found it very funny that the governor of Arkansas.

Sarah: Yes. That will be.

Chris: Was living in a mobile home.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Yes.

Chris: He was living in a trailer. And he kept saying trailer.

Sarah: They kept saying.

Chris: She kept saying, “J, it’s a mobile home.” It’s a manufactured home, sorry.

Sarah: There you go, yes.

Chris: I can’t quite do the Arkansas.

Sarah: Yeah. I’m so excited. Is that Arkansas?

Alison: That’s good.

Chris: Excellent. Well, now the one thing I didn’t get to and I don’t know if it costs as downtown is you have a fairly significant civil rights location.

Sarah: Oh yes. Yes. And we would love to tell you about.

Alison: Yes. That is just a little bit the mix. I would not call that walking distance from downtown.

Chris: Okay.

Alison: So we have that listed separate.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: One of the things I think that is a must to do in Little Rock is to walk through some of the civil rights history. And you can start at the Central High Museum, which is where.

Sarah: Yes. Yes. I’ve meet Europeans who know Little Rock for the civil rights movement. It’s where the National Guard had to come in and allow the….

Alison: Little Rock nun.

Sarah: …Little Rock nun to enter a white school after our governor at the time had barred them.

Alison: Marrying.

Sarah: From entering. And so of course that’s not a part of history that anybody is proud of but some people here have done an excellent job of capturing that history in a way it’s helpful and meaningful. And to really I think anybody that listen to south or that wants to understand the south. And so like Alison said the first place you would want to go would be the Central High Museum, which is a national park.

Alison: Yes.

Sarah: It’s right across from the actual school. So you can be in this museum and read and hear about what happened and then look out the windows and see the actual school where it happened. You can even walk the street that they walked that day to go into school. And the exhibits are wonderful. They have all kinds of radio, coverage that you can listen to. There’s news real. There’s all kinds of writing and photographs. It’s just a wonderful interactive.

Alison: And the folks that work in that museum are wonderful.

Sarah: Yes. Yes.

Alison: About walking you through the stories and.

Sarah: They’re park rangers.

Alison: They’re park rangers

Sarah: And they know the stories and the facts very well and are wonderful. So definitely, definitely go there.

Alison: And I’d love to go over to the capital. After that for the 50th anniversary they commissioned statues of the Little Rock nun walking into the school.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: And I feel like after you walk through all the exhibits it’s great to go over and see that.

Sarah: Yes. And the school itself it’s just a piece of architecture outside of the history of it it’s just a beautiful building to see. That’s a neat area to walk around. And then I would also go to the Mosaic Templar’s.

Alison: Templar’s.

Sarah: Cultural Center. It’s sort of in between where the high school is and the downtown area. And they’ve done a great job of just capturing this sort of what the Central High Museum does for Central High; the Mosaic Templar’s did for the city of Little Rock. Just captured the history of the time, tell the story and what was going on.

Alison: Yes.

Sarah: And again wonderful displays, super knowledgeable staff.

Alison: Right.

Sarah: And it’s located in another beautiful historic building.

Alison: Building.

Chris: Interesting.

Sarah: So I would definitely do that.

Chris: It’s amazing how much of it has changed in my lifetime.

Sarah: But I certainly appreciate both of those places as just being places, I think it helps anybody understand where they’re from and what they’re living in the middle of. And as a result of and so strongly recommend those places, they’re wonderful.

Chris: Excellent. Where would we go next?

Sarah: I think I would go to the south side main street district, the SoMa district.

Alison: But just part to a SoMa.

Sarah: Yes. It’s another little neighborhood, a little farther away from downtown. It’s kind of close to the Mosaic Templar’s Center. It’s just this great street where the shops and businesses are banded together, lots of local, wonderful things. One of the sort of anchor businesses on that street is called South on Main. It’s a wonderful restaurant and venue for musicians. And sometimes they have like readings or an author will read a work. And so it’s a restaurant in conjunction with the Oxford American, which is a magazine about the south based out Little Rock.

Alison: Based out Little Rock.

Sarah: Then the restaurant is owned by Matt and Annabel. And Annabel is related to somebody famous from Arkansas. We love to claim her.

Alison: We love to claim Mary Steenburgen.

Sarah: Mary Steenburgen is Annabel’s aunt.

Chris: Okay.

Sarah: And Mary Steenburgen is an actress married to Ted Danson. And they come to Little Rock and they come to South on Main and so if you’re on Little Rock you might spot them.

Alison: You might run into them.

Sarah: Anyways, South on Main is a wonderful restaurant. Matt and Annabel is an incredible chef. They have a great bar, a wonderful southern menu all sourced locally. It’s just a great place.

Chris: Well, and we’ve talked about having a hushpuppy and some fried catfish. Any other southern dishes…

Sarah: Yes.

Chris: …we should have while we’re down in Little Rock?

Sarah: Oh my gosh.

Alison: I’ll go ahead and say on that same street there’s the Root Cafe, which is also all local.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: You know food all within, certain number of miles.

Sarah: Yes. And whereas like I would say South on Main is like upscale classic southern food they’ve like taken it and twisted it upscale a little bit. The Root is very down home. It’s a tiny little building. You can eat on the porch. Everything is massive jars and cloth napkins and just precious, precious. They have wonderful soups and sandwiches and burgers.

Alison: They’re great … actually there’s one of the best burger.

Sarah: Yes. They do have a great…

Alison: In Little Rock I would say the Root Café.

Sarah: …great breakfast. Great breakfast.

Alison: They’re not in a hurry there.

Chris: Okay.

Sarah: But it’s worth it. It’s worth it.

Alison: But it’s worth, I mean you’re hanging out.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: And what also down there is the local ice cream and…

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: …homemade.

Sarah: Loblolly.

Alison: Loblolly Creamery.

Chris: Okay.

Sarah: Some good stuff.

Alison: Like a homemade local ice cream.

Sarah: Yes. And while you’re wandering around you can go on the ESSE Purse museum which is just this cute little museum and they have rotating exhibits. The one right now is on the history of Barbie dolls. So it’s just a tiny little museum but they always have an interesting something to look at. There’s also the green corner store down there which is below the local products. There’s a sculpture garden along the street called the Venice Garden.

Alison: Venice Garden.

Sarah: And they have markets there regularly too.

Alison: And Boulevard Bread is down there and that’s another great place to eat lunch or breakfast, sandwiches and the best almond croissant in Little Rock.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: All of our brand company.

Sarah: At the upper end of this street.

Alison: Street is Community Bakery.

Sarah: Yes, which is…

Alison: And you have to go in there have a chocolate cake doughnut.

Sarah: Yes. It may be the business only street that’s been there the longest.

Alison: It’s been for the longest.

Sarah: It’s on a corner right when you turn onto the street. And also a great, I mean there’s a lot of good food on that.

Alison: Everyday…

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: …off the week, the Community Bakery, yeah. There’s a lot of good food.

Sarah: Lot of good food. We like to eat. I don’t know if you can tell.

Chris: Well, and I’d have to ask. So Alison you haven’t been living in Little Rock for a little bit you’re back visiting here for a Christmas time.

Alison: Yes.

Chris: But you’re now living in Ember [SP].

Alison: Yes, effing.

Chris: What do you miss?

Sarah: Yeah.

Chris: About Little Rock.

Alison: I miss the food in Little Rock. I didn’t really realize that I feel like Little Rock has a great restaurant thing.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: And it’s been funny the little places that I’ve missed. I miss Mexican food in the US in general.

Sarah: Yes.

Chris: Well, yeah. I hear that from a lot of travelers. Yeah.

Alison: And a lot travelers like Mexican food. But we have great Mexican food in Little Rock like almost like artisan funky, there’s a place called the Local Lime.

Sarah: Oh gosh.

Alison: That is a twist on…

Sarah: Yes. It’s not Tex Mex which we have a lot of here and…

Chris: Sure.

Sarah: …that’s good too but this is the real fresh, taste supper. It’s actually the same set of people have done like three different sorts of restaurants so far. And now here they’re opening yet another … I’m super excited because theirs are always good.

Alison: Everything they do is amazing.

Sarah: Yes. They have a pizza chain called ZAZA’s that’s really…

Alison: Out of this world.

Sarah: Yes. Fresh doughnuts and pizzas and they bake them in that stone oven. And then they have a burger.

Alison: Gelato there also.

Sarah: A burger place, actually two you know, called big orange, I mean the best burgers you have.

Alison: Ever had.

Sarah: Oh my gosh.

Alison: And all of these places also do wonderful cocktails.

Sarah: Yes. Yes. We do like the cocktails.

Alison: We like the cocktails.

Sarah: Yeah. They’re mixing them with fresh wonderful ingredients.

Alison: With fresh squeezed lime juice and not your mix.

Sarah: Yes. And then Local Lime has all kinds of Mexican food.

Chris: I know the sound tends to have a little more of a sweet tooth than the rest of the country. Are the cocktails tend to be sweeter also?

Sarah: Some of them but I feel like they all have choices that aren’t sweet.

Chris: Okay.

Alison: Yeah.

Chris: Just curious.

Sarah: Yeah because Alison doesn’t. I tend to have a sweet like a sweet drink.

Alison: I love margaritas there.

Sarah: Yes. Yeah. So.

Alison: The Fold is also in town.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: It’s another good Mexican restaurant that’s on my list to go to while I’m home. And they do a picture of margaritas. And they do great little, little tiny, tiny tacos with all different kinds of like you can get.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Grilled vegetables.

Chris: Street taco size.

Sarah: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Alison: That’s a great spot. That was on my list. Damn good pies.

Sarah: Yeah.

Alison: Does a deep dish pizza.

Chris: Sorry. The name of the restaurant is damn goode pies?

Alison: Damn good pies.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: That’s the name of the restaurant.

Chris: And that time we are not talking about a reservoir.

Sarah: Right. No.

Alison: Not, no. Do you think they spell it D – A – M – N?

Sarah: They do. They spell D – A – M – N, G – O – O – D – E.

Alison: G – O – O – D – E. And they do a deep dish pizza.

Sarah: The stuffy.

Alison: Stuffy crest.

Sarah: Stuffy.

Alison: Stuffy crest with the pink sauce.

Sarah: Yes. They do like that.

Alison: So they have a light top on red sauce.

Sarah: Or you can mix them.

Alison: Or you can mix them and get pink sauce. So this is what you order. You want stuffy crest, pink sauce chicken pizza is what you want. Don’t even order it, I know. That’s on our list. We’ll be going to get that in the next week.

Chris: Excellent.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: It’s so good.

Sarah: So come here and eat.

Chris: Clearly we’re going to do that.

Sarah: All right.

Chris: We’ll take a break here and hear from our second sponsor which is trippy.com. Trippy.com is a leading online community for getting information about your travel, a place to go and ask your travel questions or to go and answer the questions of others. We’ve been talking about the core values of Trippy. One of them is experience over possessions. As Trippy says, “We live by the same take only pictures, leave only footprints. We would rather have a passport full of stamps than a house full of stuff.”

And I think that fits in well when we’re talking so much about food this week. And our question this week, our Trippy question of the week is about food. And that question was inspired by this episode ‘what’s your favorite comfort food you have found on the road.’ Please join us at trippy.com and answer that question. You can find the question at amateurtraveler.com/trippysix. We’ll read your answers to that question on next week’s episode just as later in this episode we will read the answers you had for last week’s question from trippy.com.

Chris: Other than eating what’s the best way to connect with the Little Rock culture?

Sarah: There’s a lot of places to go to listen to a lot of music and we definitely…

Alison: We made a list.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: But South on Main was one of them but you can go to Juanita’s, Sticky Fingers. There’s a good local music thing. White Water Tavern. If you’ve never been to the south, you got a White Water Tavern…

Sarah: There you go.

Alison: …just an experience all in.

Sarah: It’s like this legendary bar in Little Rock. It’s been here forever.

Alison: A hole in the wall.

Sarah: Right.

Alison: Kind of play.

Sarah: Yeah, it’s definitely a hole.

Chris: And in terms of the music scene are we, the joke is we have both kinds of music, both country and western or are we talking about…

Sarah: Oh gosh.

Chris: Or are we talking about a larger repertoire?

Sarah: I would say we’re not quite there in Little Rock. We’re not.

Alison: We’re not taking it into Nashville [SP].

Sarah: Yeah. We have more of a range for sure.

Chris: Okay.

Sarah: But I was going to say probably my favorite, favorite way to connect particularly of Little Rock is to go to Tales from the South, which is a radio program. You can look it up. It actually was up against the moth.

Chris: Sure. Yeah.

Sarah: And this American live for a big award last year. And it came down to Tales from the South and like four other programs. And every other program is one that if I named you would have heard of it nationally. And so it’s a really well done show.

Chris: And was meant for the podcast awards or for?

Sarah: I can’t remember if it was for the podcast or the actual broadcast.

Chris: Got it.

Sarah: Because they are connected to a public radio network.

Alison: Yeah, they are.

Sarah: I can’t remember exactly which one. It’s run by a woman named Paula Morell.

Chris: Okay.

Sarah: And she collects stories. These people are all volunteer writers. She has a website talesfromthesouth.com. And you can submit a story. She has some guidelines for what it has to be but basically what it says they do southern style story telling. And so she does a show every week, every Tuesday she has three story tellers. And she records them and they move around to different venues so you go to the website see where they’re going to be that week. And usually it’s some place where you can go and have dinner.

Alison: It’s usually at a restaurant.

Sarah: And listen to the stories. Sometimes they have them in the library so when they do that then you can’t. But so you’re going to see a local venue and then you’re going to hear three local story tellers.

Alison: It’s usually like $15 for your…

Sarah: Actually the ticket.

Alison: …dinner.

Sarah: Yeah. The ticket is more like eight or $10 I think.

Alison: Okay.

Sarah: And then depending on where it is you can get dinner or drink along with that. And then she also always has a local musician opening for them. So you get just a little taste of everything. And every time I go I just love it. There’s always people in the crowd that are there specifically because they know that story teller and they’re cheering them on. And then you just get this little glimpse of life in Arkansas. And there’s always something that completely surprise me. I’m going to Open Mic Night maybe is what you think going in and then there will be something that you think, “Oh my gosh that was amazing stuff.” That’s a great way to experience the culture in your home.

Chris: Cool.

Sarah: If you’re going to be here for a few nights and you like the theatre at all I would highly recommend the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, because I think people probably wouldn’t expect Little Rock Arkansas to have a great theatre but we really do. It’s an amazingly, well run and directed theatre. And they do quality shows. They bring in people from New York and it’s just amazing the work that they do.

Alison: They do a couple of big, bigger like musical type shows a year.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: And then they do plot smaller cast plays.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: And so you just look at there.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: What they have come in.

Sarah: I cannot recommend them highly enough. I love the rap.

Alison: We do love the rap.

Chris: Cool.

Sarah: I go see every show I can in there. Yeah.

Chris: Before we start getting out of town and exploring some of the environs, what’s the best time of year to come?

Sarah: I’m so glad you asked.

Alison: We did say that. We thought light spring.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Or early fall.

Chris: Okay.

Sarah: Yes.

Chris: A little warm in the summer time.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Summer time can be hot.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: However when you asked me what I missed and I missed it. I miss that heat.

Chris: Well, you’re in Scotland so…

Sarah: Yes. Yes.

Alison: That’s right. That’s right.

Sarah: She’s freezing to death. And if you don’t mind hot and want to spend time at a lake we have great lakes here. So if you want to turn your vacation towards that kind of thing then yeah, come in hot summer. But if you’re going to spend time walking around…

Alison: Walking around and bike…

Sarah: Not necessarily in the water a lot you want to…

Alison: I think light spring or early fall is a great time to come.

Sarah: Yeah. Yeah.

Chris: And the best day of the year to be in Little Rock.

Sarah: If you are festival person, you would want to be here for River Fest.

Alison: And that’s Memorial Weekend.

Sarah: Yes.

Chris: Okay.

Sarah: That’s when it’s memorial weekend and there’s all kinds of music.

Chris: So the end of May, so the best weather also?

Sarah: Yes. Good, good weather usually and there’s like six stages, so you can hear any kind…

Alison: Any kind of music.

Sarah: You can hear the big country person right now. My gosh, we went down this last memorial day and I grew up in the ’80s and Salt and Pepper was there. And I mean, it was the most fun show I’ve been to in so long. And they were opening for CeeLo Green I think. Or maybe he was the next, and CeeLo actually they are far worse than… He was not the pop stars in the ’80s. So there’s always a stage like that that’s throwing it back. There’s all kinds of things to eat and buy and right on the banks of the river.

Alison: On the river, on both sides of the river.

Sarah: Yes. Yes.

Chris: Well, we talked about things to eat and things to see. We haven’t talked about as much about things to do.

Alison: You can rent bikes downtown.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: So if you are not travelling with your bike, there are two places on both sides of the river to rent bikes. And you can ride; you can ride all the way out to Pinnacle Mountain, which is a little hill that you can climb.

Sarah: It’s a mountain?

Alison: It’s a mountain. And a mile and a half you have reached the top and gotten back down.

Sarah: So it’s a short mountain?

Alison: It’s a short mountain.

Sarah: But it’s a beautiful climb.

Alison: Beautiful view. Beautiful climb. And I mean, you can drive out there as well. But you can also from the river bike all the way out there.

Sarah: Or you can bike… We talked about the bridges before. All those bridges are open to pedestrians and bicycles and so you can do a complete loop where you’ve rented your bike, ride all the way down to the middle you cross the river, come back, all the way around. And so that would be a beautiful thing to do if you are active.

Alison: On the north side of the river we did mention earlier is the USS Razorback. A submarine that’s been there since the last three years that is a fun tour. You’ll have to be able to climb down ladders and things I think to get the tour.

Sarah: Not mind enclosed spaces.

Alison: Not mind the enclosed spaces. But that is a fascinating thing to do as well. You can also ride back and forth between the two sides of the river on the trolley. You know this historic…

Sarah: I’m not we’ve clarified that too also.

Alison: …street cars.

Sarah: Alison and I, we do intend to tell people we are from Little Rock…

Alison: But we are out of town. But we are really from…

Sarah: We are really from North Little Rock.

Alison: North Little Rock. We are on the wrong side of the river.

Sarah: Not according to some people.

Alison: In a good way.

Sarah: I’d say we are on the great side of the river.

Alison: In a good way we are.

Sarah: There’s two cities right across from each other as happens in many places.

Alison: Yeah. Little Rock and North Little Rock.

Sarah: And we are in the Northern city, which is North Little Rock. And so yes, there’s a trolley that runs between the two cities and over the bridges and it’s just a precious way to get around some of the downtown sites on both sides.

Alison: There’s actually a bed and breakfast in downtown North Little Rock, the Baker House and old…

Sarah: So cute.

Alison: …like 1898 old Victorian house. And if you stay at the Baker House, they’ll give you a pass to run the trolley over downtown for free when you are around.

Sarah: How about side trips? If I’m in Little Rock, as long as I’m there I ought to take a half a day and drive out to…?

Alison: You should definitely…

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Drive to Hot Springs.

Sarah: That’s the top of our list would be Hot Springs Arkansas.

Alison: Downtown Hot Springs it’s lined with bath houses.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: That are old historic bath houses and then some of them are still running today.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: For years we’ve done a year late girls trip to the bath houses. We recommend the trip to the spas. Whether it’s the Arlington you have or…

Sarah: Oh my gosh, I mean, there are a lot of places you can go and get a massage but these are bath houses where you actually go and take a bath.

Alison: It’s like setting back in time. You go to Arlington especially they’ve really maintained it. And you, you get in your little private bath and somebody comes and scrubs you.

Sarah: Scrubs you.

Alison: It sounds weird but it’s wonderful.

Sarah: Yes. It is. And you can sit in a sauna and they wrap hot towels around you. The Arlington is actually a hotel and spa. And then there’s another one down the street that we really like called the Quapaw [SP] bath house.

Alison: Quapaw has been redone.

Sarah: And then there’s another bath house that’s open simply to tour. Just so you can see what it was like in that…

Alison: Like the museum and that’s just…

Sarah: In the heyday of hot springs. And there’s lots of sort of legends and lore about hot springs it was supposed to be a gateway for the mafia at one point. There was all these, people would come there because they could spend their money and gamble and drink and go to the bath houses and be out of the government eye.

Alison: And the Hot Springs National Park is right there too.

Sarah: Yes. So there is hiking.

Alison: And take a hike and all the lakes are there you can rent a boat and go motorski.

Sarah: Two gorgeous lakes, right? In Hot Springs. And so you can do every kind of sport you can think of on those lakes.

ALISON: You can be in Hot Springs in Little Rock in a half or…

Sarah: Less.

Alison: Less. Yeah.

Sarah: Yeah. Or 10 minutes. Also, great restaurants there. We have to mention our very favorite place John.

Alison: Central Park Fusion.

Sarah: Central Park Fusion. It’s at the end of the main drag in downtown Hot Springs.

Alison: Hot Springs.

Sarah: And they have this great patio. You can sit on the patio, look down the street and everything going on and you should order every appetizer that they have. And a few of the main dishes and pass them around and everybody eat off each other’s plates.

Alison: Yeah. That’s what we do.

Sarah: Yes. Yes. Absolutely what you should do. And then you should also, it’s a day trip I don’t know how you are going to get two meals in a day.

Alison: Done it.

Sarah: Try really hard to go to Rolando’s because it’s Latino restaurant that I can’t even describe. Again, it’s a form of what we would say is Mexican food because we call everything Mexican food here. But whatever you have on your plate, and there’s also like pickled onions and cucumbers, and just the best sources on everything. My mouth is watering while I talk. It is so good. It’s so good.

Alison: They also have one of those in Hot Springs, one of those funny tours where you can get on the duck and it goes in the water.

Chris: Oh, the duck tours.

Sarah: Yes. Oh yeah. Yes. They told they have the duck tours.

Alison: So the amphibious vehicles from World War II tours. Yeah.

Sarah: Yes. You can start on line and then…

Alison: That’s right. Exactly.

Sarah: The long ride into the lake. But really, truly you can make a day trip or a several day trip out of hot springs. Like I said you can do any kind of water sports. They have this huge you can rent a houseboat.

Alison: Or you can rent a houseboat, you can stay in the lake.

Sarah: You can rent a boat there, 12 or 16 people can sleep on. And drive it out to middle lake and have the water slide off the back of it, maybe a hot tub in the top of it.

Alison: It’s hard living in Arkansas.

Sarah: Now, c’mon…

Alison: I’m serious. It is.

Sarah: Not like a takedown but these boats they are nice.

Alison: They are nice. They are nice. Usually when people rent a bike or they drive…

Sarah: Right. Right. So you’ve got to watch out for that. So you rent one of those and maybe some jet skies or you rent one of those end of ski boat and then you’ve got your whole week.

Alison: Or you just take your fishing boat and your camping gear and…

Sarah: That’s how Alison got to it.

Alison: And you drive it out to an island and set up camp on that island.

Sarah: Yeah. That’s what I’m saying. These are beautiful lakes. I’ve been to some lakes in other places and the lakes, I’m sorry; they are really beautiful they are dotted with islands. It’s in a hilly heart of Arkansas and so it’s not…

Chris: Now this is in the Ozarks, right?

Sarah: Well, actually I’m talking about hot springs.

Alison: I’m just from hot springs Ouachita National Park.

Chris: Okay.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: That’s now Little Rock.

Sarah: Yes. So now quite the Ozarks but we do want to talk to you about those Ozarks.

Alison: That’s another day trip; we will then definitely want to get up to the Ozarks. The Buffalo River you can canoe or kayak or just swim and camp and hike along the Buffalo River.

Sarah: Yes. And there’s all kinds of places to do that. You will just look up…

Alison: It’s a national river.

Sarah: Yeah. You will just look up the Buffalo River but one of our very favorite places to do that from is called Ponca.

Alison: Ponca where the Buffalo outdoor center is.

Sarah: Tiny old place, yes. There’s a great space to stay and reckon, it’s called the Buffalo outdoor center. They have cabins in the woods, gorgeous and you want out hike lost valley while you are there for an easy hike that everybody can do. If you want a tiny bit more challenging hike, you want out go to hoax bill crag, which is one of those places that every time you see a brochure about Arkansas it has a picture of hoax bill.

Alison: It has a picture of hoax bill. All the Arkansas instagrammers are always…

Sarah: Yes. Giant rock and when you come out on it you are standing over a huge valley and looking out at mountains. Those aren’t mountains it’s gorgeous.

Alison: That reminds that we just wanted to mention that one of our five websites right now is doing a lot for just telling about Arkansas and telling about things that…

Sarah: Are unique.

Alison: That are unique to Arkansas is called omleyinoak.com. like AOK.

Sarah: Yes. If we could give you one online resource that would be a great starting place to explore Arkansas it would be this site. Because they are doing story telling about Arkansas and there’s travel tab…

Alison: There’s a travel tab and a food tab…

Sarah: There’s a food tab, there’s a home grown tab that is about businesses and people in Arkansas and so it’s written by bloggers by some people from news outlets. So you’ve got a bunch of different voices and view points and it’s unique to Arkansas.

Chris: Excellent.

Alison: But there is a lot there about…

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: The different things we’ve mentioned.

Chris: And I’m going to start winding us down here.

Sarah: Okay.

Chris: Before we start talking about more restaurants.

Sarah: Yeah.

Chris: Before I get into that, the other place that we did actually the day before or the day as we were driving into Little Rock, little far from a day trip though is but it is in Arkansas. Not sure when we are going to talk about it if we don’t talk about today is crystal bridges.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Oh. Yes.

Chris: So the museum of American art built by the Wal-Mart family way up in the northwestern corner.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Northwest Arkansas.

Chris: So almost over three hours from little rock but…

Alison: Northwest Arkansas, it does, it is exploding. It’s exploding in that.

Chris: In a good way you mean but…

Alison: In a good way.

Sarah: Yes. But definitely yes on crystal bridges. It’s a gorgeous museum, gorgeous grounds, there’s a walking paths all around it. You can see things there that you can’t believe. You would think are…

Alison: And it’s free.

Sarah: Yes. And it’s free.

Chris: And it’s free.

Sarah: It’s all free provided by Wal-Mart.

Chris: And some iconic pieces of America out there.

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: Right.

Sarah: Yes. There’s one more places I’d love to mention if we have time.

Chris: Sure.

Sarah: That is again, like I don’t know when you are going to talk about this if you don’t talk about it on this show. And that is to go to the Mississippi River. You can do it from either side of the river but I took this trip from Helena Arkansas, which has a rich history in blues music. So if you are interested in that, you could do that, they have a festival there every fall called the king biscuit blue festival. The King Biscuit radio hour is the longest running blues radio hour. That would be a great time to come during the King Biscuit if you are interested in stuff like that. But anytime you remotely find yourself in the area, this is the delta that I’m talking about.

So it’s the complete other side of the state than what we’ve just been talking about. But aligned to Mississippi river and there is a canoe company there called, Quapaw Canoe Company and they will take you out in hand made canoes that are 20 feet long. They are huge. They are built from huge oak trees. The guy that owns the company makes the canoes. His name is John Ruskey. And I went on this excursion with a bunch of other people and john took us out of the river. And I could not believe. It was magical. It really was. They take you out on this huge river and you feel like you are in the middle of Mark Twain.

I mean you just can’t believe. So there’s islands in the middle of the river that are completely different from the ones we’ve been talking about. Like there’s Sandy Island and they will tell you stories about how in that island there’s no laws and no rules. If you see the movie Mud, it was filmed in this area so it will look like that. And they do anything from like a few hours excursions to a week. And so if you do a week they are going to take you a lot harder and go camping with you and stuff like that.

The one we did was just for an evening and they took us to this island and built a huge bonfire and we had wine and hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows and told stories and then rode back in the dark in these canoes. I mean it’s an experience I’ve had that’s like nothing else I’ve ever done. So I would definitely recommend that if you find yourself anywhere over towards Memphis area.

Alison: Especially if that’s how this day…

Chris: Well, let’s draw ourselves back to Little Rock here as we get to radio wrap this up again. Anything else we should know about Little Rock before I get to my last four questions?

Sarah: If you come to the North Little Rock side of the river which we recommend, come out the Old Mill.

Alison: You’ve got to go to the Old Mill. It’s in the opening credits of ‘Gone With The Wind.’

Sarah: Yes. The Old Mill makes an appearance of the opening credits, ‘Gone With The Wind’. It’s just a beautiful old mill with a parking garden built around. But you would want to see it.

Alison: Right. You do want to see it.

Sarah: That’s our claimed to fame of…

Alison: Over on North Little Rock.

Chris: You are standing in the prettiest spot in Little Rock. Where are you standing and what are you looking at?

Alison: I am standing on the Clinton Presidential Library Bridge I think. The Library Bridge.

Sarah: That’s funny.

Alison: Library bridge and looking back at downtown Little Rock.

Sarah: I was just going to say about that the same time. I was actually going to say I’m standing on the top of the river market parking deck. Because that’s where my husband parks in that parking deck. If you are standing on the top floor you can see the river and all of downtown and the bridges that we’ve been talking about.

Chris: One thing that makes you laugh and say, ‘only in Little rock…’

Alison: Oh my gosh, that place where they did ‘The Croft…’

Sarah: Yeah. But I don’t know the name of it. Do you know the name?

Alison: K Hall and Sons…

Sarah: Yes.

Alison: …at West Little Rock and it’s a little hole in the wall and it’s just one of those places that have lived in Little Rock 40 years and found in the last five years and forever, they’ve done the codfish bowl every Saturday and you can go pick up your codfish. And it’s just funny how…

Sarah: Yeah.

Alison: But this is not a place…

Sarah: Only in Little Rock.

Chris: What makes you laugh about it? I’m not sure that I get the joke.

Alison: I don’t know what makes me laugh about it. But it just made me laugh when I found it. It’s outside but it’s like a show out back and they shovel it. They’ve got the codfish bowl and they shovel it with a big thing into a Styrofoam container and everybody standing around on Saturday morning eating.

Sarah: Yeah. It’s not like a restaurant.

Chris: Okay.

Sarah: You are like outside.

Alison: Outside.

Sarah: Yeah.

Alison: But there’s lots of evil coming everywhere for it. I don’t know what makes you laugh.

Sarah: All of it. All of it. All of it makes me laugh.

Chris: And finish this sentence for me… ‘you really know you are in Little Rock when…’ What?

Alison: When you are sitting on the porch at the Capital Hotel, just sat there and comfortable.

Sarah: That would the lovely answer to that question. I would say you also really know you in the Rock when you see someone wearing a Hog hat.

Alison: Hog hat. Yes.

Sarah: We have not even mentioned the Arkansas racer bucks.

Chris: I have no idea what a hog hat is.

Sarah: The Arkansas racer bucks.

Chris: Oh, Arkansas racer bucks. Okay. Got it.

Sarah: Yes. Yes. They are our only team really. Like we don’t have professional sports team so we all rally around the University of Arkansas and the racer buck. So you see hog hats, you see flags raised on cars.

Alison: Racer buck flags will let you know when is the game day, when the…

Sarah: Yes. And they play part of their games in Little Rock, which is three hours away from the actual campus. But they come here and play because there are so many people rooting for them here where they play at the stadium; they have the tollgate all over the golf course next to it. So yeah, you know you are in Little Rock when it’s a game day and there’s people parked all over the…

Alison: We don’t have bad traffic in Little Rock but on a game day…

Sarah: On a game day, yes you do.

Alison: Exactly. It’s really bad.

Sarah: Yes. That also makes us laugh.

Chris: And last question. If you had to summarize Little Rock in just three words, we give you three words each. What three words would you use?

Alison: River, Friendly, Natural.

Sarah: Margarita, they’ve got to have to say tasty as much as we talk about.

Chris: Tasty. Okay.

Alison: I think better when on Margarita.

Chris: Food. Okay. I’m surprised if it didn’t get in there someplace. Sarah, Beth and Alison, where can people read more about your travels?

Sarah: Well, we’ve both written for only in Ark the site that we mentioned earlier.

Alison: In Arkansas but then on my blog I write about travels.

Sarah: She’s alisonchino.com, I’m sarahbethjones.com.

Chris: Well, thanks so much for coming on amateur traveler and sharing with us your obvious love for Little Rock.

Sarah: Definitely. Thank you for having us.

Alison: Thank you for having us so much.

Chris: I have two different news stories I want to bring to your attention. The first one was an interesting one. I don’t know if you have noticed but around the US now there are a lot more airports that have rocking chairs. And apparently there are about 40 of them and I didn’t know why. But apparently this trend started in 1997 at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. And the airport had a temporary photography exhibit called porch sitting. And in addition to large photos of front porches, they had rocking chairs.

And they didn’t realize how popular they were until they took the chairs away and people got upset. And one of the reasons why so many airports are putting then in is one, people like them and two, it’s a very easy change that you can make out an airport and airports are ordinarily difficult to renovate. The other interesting story is about skiplagged.com. The person, who runs this website, helps you find those interesting routes. And the kind of routes we are talking about are the ones where someone wants to fly from Dallas to Los Angeles but it turns out that it is cheaper to fly from Dallas to San Francisco through Los Angeles.

And so he helps you find that route. You book a one way fare and then you get off the plane in the middle. Well the airlines don’t like that. They don’t like it so much that they are suing. He’s already raised tens of thousands of dollars in donations to protect the website. That site again incase it’s still there is skiplagged.com. I’ll put a link to both stories in the show notes at amateurtraveler.com. Our trivia of the question last week was, ‘What is the most dramatically beautiful place you have seen?’

Top answer was given by Steve from Sutton Coldfield in the United Kingdom and I have to admit, this is a winner. And I’m sure that I’m going to pronounce this incorrectly but it’s Plitvice. The series of lakes that is a UNESCO world heritage site in southern Croatia. One of the oldest UNESCO world heritage sites. And if you’ve seen pictures of it, you’ve seen just cascades of waterfall surrounding these lakes. If you haven’t seen them, come over to amateurtraveler.com/trippy5 and look at the other answers to this question. Other popular answers included the Canadian Rockies which we’ve talked about before in this show and always, always a favorite of mine.

Machu Picchu and the Iguazu waterfalls. Thanks to all of you who came over to vote for your favorite spectacular place to see. With that we are going to end this episode with the Amateur Traveler Remember to support both our sponsors trippy.com and dkeyewitnesstravelguides. If you have any questions send an email to host at amateurtraveler.com or better yet, leave a comment on this episode at amateurtraveler.com. You could also follow me on twitter@kriss2x as this is the New Year, I will remind you it’s a good time if you haven’t already to leave us a review at iTunes stature or wherever you listen to this show. And as always thanks so much for listening.

Transcription sponsored by JayWay Travel, specialists in Central & Eastern Europe custom tours.

 

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by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.



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