5 Down South Country Travel Spots

If you still don’t know where to go for the July 4th weekend or for your big summer trip, allow me to help you out. From my cross country trips I think I found some of the best spot to travel to in the United States if you’re looking for more of a country, down south, barbecue type vacation. Below you will find my top picks for your not so average vacation. Enjoy and have a great time on your travels.

Nashville:

gregory-gopman-nashvilleHome of blues, and known as the all encompassing “Music City”, Nashville is amazing. The weather is darn near perfect year round and the people couldnt be nicer. There are tons of attractions in Nashville if you’re looking to view a couple touristy things. You’ll find the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium (the world famous performance theatre), and more bars serving whiskey inspired cocktails in mason jars than you can count.

While you’re in Nashville you must check out the Hatch Show Print. Hatch show Print in now located in the Country Music Hall of Fame and was originally founded in 1879. It was and still is a legendary letterpress print shop that lead the “brash” style of music that embodied classic country music.

For lunch there are no other options that the critically acclaimed Pepperfire. If you love hot chicken that crispy, juicy, and served with homemade potato salad, this place is your haven.

New Orleans:

gregory-gopman-new-orleansCommonly known as “Nola” or “N’awlins”, New Orleans is a travel destination for everyone. Whether you are looking for a boozed crazed time at Mardi Gras or a relaxed vacation where you can order all the gumbo and oysters you can eat, New Orleans has it all. The southern hospitality defines this city as music fills the streets and everyone is curtious.

The southern/french inspired food fusions truly awake the pallet. One of the most classic delicacies in New Orleans is the Po Boy. There are tons of restaurants serving up the city’s most eaten dish but there is only 1 Killer Poboys. This restaurant is nestled behind the Erin Rose Bar and is the crowned jewel when it comes to New Orleans traditional cusine. They by far serve up the meanest seared gulf shrimp, meatloaf, and other fresh ingredients to make you keep coming back year after year to visit.

For something of slightly slower pace and more relaxed I would suggest visiting the Louis Armstrong Park. The park is located in the Tremé neighborhood and offers visitors a more quiet time and a step into the past. The park was named after the world famous Louis Armstrong, a New Orleans native. Be sure to visit the Congo Square which was the site of 19th century slave dances. Blues, Jazz, and Rock n’ roll can all base their roots in these slaves dances.

Austin:

gregory-gopman-austinAustin has become all the rage lately, hosting food fairs, music festivals, and start-up community events. Austin is extremely affordable to live in and is the ideal spot for young adults from 21-35. Texas is known for a lot of things, but one in particular could be the reason you book a trip to Austin today. Texas barbecue is widely regarded as having one of the best barbecues in the world. If you love barbecue like I do then you need to visit La Barbecue and Micklethwait. Serving up barbecue staples like brisket and mouth-watering steak, these two restaurants are dishing out massive portions because as you know, “everything is bigger in Texas.”

What better way to wash down all that barbecue and soak up that southern sun than tasting a few craft beers. Do yourself a favor and visit the Jester King Brewery for all your hoppy desires. Formerly a farmhouse, the Jester King is one of the most popular breweries in the area, complete with their own tasting room, brewery tours, outdoor seating, and one of a kind beer.

Thank you for reading,

Gregory Gopman

5 New Travel Based Startups to Look Into

gregory-gopman-travelI love to travel as many of you may already know. I have been all over the world from Europe to New York City to the South Pacific, and its always an adventure. I also love to experience new things and share my photos and thoughts about new locations is visit. Sometimes though I look for other outlets to help plan my trips or come up with activities while vacationing. Enter these 5 new startups that are primed to change the face of travel in the near future. Below you will find pertinent information on these new companies and feel free to check them out. Enjoy!

Tripme: Tripme is a travel app that is the backpackers new best friend. The app helps the user to find other backpackers in the area, thereby creating a community of traveling folk to network. It is great for many reasons, some being the syncing of trips backpackers have been on, plan to go on, or are curious about. Tripme is also great for chatting, asking questions, and even following other backpackers travel updates.

Class: Class is a hotel booking app mostly to be utilized for very frequent travelers. App users will choose their end destination for their travels and the app will accumulate a number of four-star rated hotels in the area. Users will be able to set hotel criteria as well to keep the results precise. Another major plus for users is that once a reservation is booked the users will receive a room upgrade, breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and drinks or dinner complimentary.

GuideAdvisor: This new company has acquired guides to 75 countries and counting. Any user of the service can browse through activities for a specific destination and look for personal guides for their travels directly on the website.

DELI: This new innovative platform that helps users decide on a destination to travel to and gives other criteria to help determine the right trip. DELI asks users to answer a six question quiz and upon completion a list of potential destinations is compiled. The list will also include activities and venues for each location in terms of music, bars, shopping, local food spots, and anything else that might interest a tourist. DELI is beginning their program in Amsterdam and will expand to other major European cities and capitals in the next 6 months.

CampReward: CampReward allows users to search and book campsite reservations as well as RV parks. Users can also view nearby events and activities close to the campground or RV park. CampReward is set launch sometime this year.

My Trip to Bali

gregory-gopman-bali

Bali is an incredible place for anyone to visit. It’s cheap, safe, and one of the most beautiful and authentic places in all South East Asia. From the all night parties in Kuta to the holistic retreats in Ubud, Bali is a small slice of heaven on earth.

For the 2014 holidays, myself and my friend Max decided to take a little work-cation to Bali. We did 3 nights in Seminyak and 3 days in Ubud. Both cities were incredible all around. The food, the people, you name it. We would get $4 massages and then enjoy a 4-course $10 dinner before heading back to our pool-villa and punching out 6 hours of work. While in Seminyak we spent days at the Potatoe Head pool or next door at the W hotel. Both are 5-Star spots and free for anyone to enjoy. While in Ubud we spent days doing Yoga at Yoga Barn or hanging out in vegan juice bars like Alchemist. It was easy to relax and let go. It was the type of trip that makes you consider becoming an ex-pat.

gregory-gopman-bali2

Getting around Bali is also very affordable. A driver for the day will cost you around $50 and allow you to see all kinds of incredible things. One day we visited a monkey forest, a holy water temple, the rice fields, and a bat cave. Another day I went to a petting zoo and a kopi luwak coffee plantation. Everything is within a 2 hour drive and each spot is unforgettable. And unlike other places, you don’t feel rushed or hustled for more money constantly. People in Bali are friendly and peaceful. I can’t say enough about how relaxing this place is.

So visit Bali! Whether you want a $2 fruit smoothie or to play with a 150pd python, this place has it all. And go before it’s too late, places this good don’t last forever. I put Bali in my top 3 places in the world and somewhere I definitely wanna lose myself for a couple years one day.

Burning Man: A First Hand Account

Burning Man was an amazing experience! It was filled with new friends, new adventures, and new discoveries about myself. Burning Man has a lot to do with the people, but to me it’s a spiritual journey and unlike anything else, anywhere in the world. This was my second “burn” and it was exponentially better than my first. This trip I went for a full week (which I highly recommend), stayed with a camp of fellow Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and felt like a “true burner” the entire time. The best part about being a Burning Man veteran is teaching the new burners about the culture, and I felt like I did a good job of sharing my version of “the playa” with them.

My trip started out with a 10 hour drive to Reno, Nevada where I met my friends Ben and Rocky and stayed a night. It rained heavy Sunday and into Monday, so Burning Man was temporarily closed and we spent a night outside the Burning Man grounds at Lake Pyramid. Lake Pyramid was beautiful, but it was only a prelude to the amazing things we’d soon see. After another 5 hours driving Tuesday morning we were in!

Lake Pyramid

Lake Pyramid

And the adventures finally began! This year I stayed at Bao Chicka Wow Wow, which was in and of itself incredible. The dues were reasonable, the people and camp were amazing, we had an awesome art car, and a great playa gift – serving 1,000’s of Bao Buns (which are delicious steamed barbecue pork buns served with hot tea) to hungry burners. Bao Chicka Wow Wow was located at 2:15AM near sound camp, which I worried would make it hard to sleep, but I ended up staying up all night and adventuring every night anyways.

This year I stayed in an air-conditioned “Yurt” (highly recommended), which me and a dozen others built for weeks leading up to Burning Man. Together with 13 other yurts we made up Yurtville and it was incredible. The sun and sand were not a problem at all, contrary to popular belief. I do wish I brought a blow up bed like some of my yurt neighbors however. In total there were 85 people in my camp and a lot of time was spent getting to know them. Meeting new friends and experiencing the events of Burning Man together was priceless time. Conversations started off normal, but quickly became personal as the days went on and relationships deepened, barriers went down, and ultimately we became a playa family.

Yurtville

Yurtville at Camp Bao Chicka Wow Wow

Swing Camp

Swing Camp

During this burn I spent about 50% adventuring alone and 50% with the group. I cherish my solo time, because it’s the only time I’m free to do whatever I want free of any inhibitions. In a culture where everything is accepted and you can do what your heart desires, the only rational thing to be is yourself! My favorite workshops this year took place at the Sacred Spaces Village. I took part in workshops on “channeling my spirit animal,” and “love + acceptance meditation.” I also had a blast at gong meditation, playing on a trampoline with kids, trying the swing course at Swing Camp, and playing God to anyone who picked up the phone in front of Red Lightning “Hello my child, this is the big G O D.”

The Coolest Kids in Camp

The Coolest Kids in Camp

God Phone Booth; I Answered

God Phone Booth; I Answered

For group activities, a lot of my time was spent rocking the ‘art car’, an ice-cream truck retrofitted to be an Ice-Berg called Titanic’s End, and serving Bao Buns in the deep desert. It took the whole week to figure out how to master the sound, lighting, and location required to be a cool art car. It was definitely trial by error, but by the end of Burning Man we had 100’s of loyal fans flocking to our car, eating Bao, and being weird with us in one awesome mixture of what can only be described as a dream.

My favorite personal night this year was Thursday. That night I spent 3 hours at the Disorient Dome in deep thought about my life and the person I want to become in the future. Then I met the most incredible people from the “Superheros and Villains” camp and danced around with them for 3 hours. I took a dance workshop with my friend Ted earlier in the year and all the lessons definitely paid off! Then I wandered for 3 more hours, walking the deep playa, running into some old friends (Mike, Connor, Dilan, & Moses) and making some new ones (Bao… o sweet Bao). The night ended in the daytime, watching the “Embrace” art installation burn. I didn’t get a photo, but luckily my friend Eric was seated 8 ft above me on an art piece and shared this photo with me when we had sushi a few days ago. At the time I had no idea it was Eric sitting above me, but that’s the type of incredible serendipity of Burning Man.

Embrace Burn

Embrace Burn

My favorite group night was the Man Burn, which I spent with my friend Apoorva. There was something special in the air that night and it seemed like everything was perfect. We started riding around on bikes, continued on foot, ventured from art car to art car in what could have been a music video, but was closer to some sort of epic journey. We watched the sunrise at Robot Heart, the most epic party each night on the playa. My childhood friend was working the entrance and got us on-stage, along with all the DJ’s, gogo dancers, and entertainers. It was just that kind of night.  By this point we had definitely ventured into some foreign fantasy land and to top things off I danced go-go for a few hours in front of 1000’s, hanging off the art car by one hand as the DJ played deep house and the sun clawed at the night’s door. Putting all of my experiences into words is difficult as Burning Man is truly an experience you need to see for yourself and not just read about.

Burning Man 2014 ended like it began, with lots of hugs, bright ambitions for things to come, packing, and ultimately driving home. I decompressed in Reno, ordering room service, showering, shaving, and enjoying the luxuries of our “normal” world. Life for me has definitely forever changed after this burn. The friendships, the experiences, the clarity into what/who I want to be. I can’t say enough… only that I know for sure I’ll be back next year and I hope you will join me!

Camp Bao Chicka Wow Wow

Camp Bao Chicka Wow Wow

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