Monday, November 17, 2008

Rhode Island!

Providence, Rhode Island.....

Probably the most confusing city to drive in. Seriously. It was horrible. And I wasn't even driving. Every road splits off into two, maybe 3 separate roads. Those 2 or 3 separate roads also refused to have street signs telling us which street was which. Rude. Being named "Map Girl" by my niece, I was in charge of all things directions. For someone who gets car sick very easily, this city was a daunting task. But we all made it alive!!! Barely.

The city of Providence was way more "big city" than I had expected. My mom being a huge fan of the tv show Providence also felt the same way. She thought it would be more of a small town feeling. It was way more urban than we pictured it to be. However, there was so much history there and we were definitely some amazing parts.

Some Pictures of Downtown Providence:

Jamestown & Newport Rhode Island-

Since we were in Providence for 2 nights, we decided that we needed to get out of the city for the 2nd day. We decided to go on a lighthouse search. Being "map girl", I had already noted that there were a ton of lighthouses in Jamestown and Newport. So again, we set sail in our Sebring to find new places.

Jamestown is a very small island off the coast of Rhode Island. We took highway 138 which took us over a bridge to Jamestown. On the bridge, we spotted our first lighthouse. It was a small lighthouse in the middle of the water. Once in Jamestown, we went south to Beavertail Light. This was our very first lighthouse stop! Woo hoo!

Beavertail Lighthouse, Jamestown Rhode Island

From Jamestown, we drove over another small bridge which took us to Newport, Rhode Island. Newport is another small island. Pretty easy to navigate. This is where we found Castle Hill Lighthouse and our new house. ;-)

Castle Hill Lighthouse

My new house and front yard....

After our second night in Rhode Island, it was time to pack up the Sebring again and move on to our next destination. We became pro at packing up the car knowing what we were going to need in the back seat for my niece and what we could shove in the trunk. I have to say, there are so many amazing things out there for kids now adays. She is a great traveler. As long as we had the dvd player, an iPod full of Dora and Backyardigans and her Leapster books to read, she was all set. She kept herself busy with the exception of me needing to select the new shows on her dvd's and iPod.

Our next destination was Maine. However, we made a small stop in New Hampshire. We saw the visitor's bureau from the freeway and decided to stop. We found out that Portsmouth, New Hampshire was near by and decided to go there. It was a great stop. We found a nice little downtown area with shops and restaurants. It was very cute and very festive for the fall time of year.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Next Stop.....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


New England road trip continued......

Connecticut! Day 2 & 3

Packed in our Sebring, we drove from New York to Mystic, Connecticut. The drive was only about 1 1/2 hours long. We arrived at our home for the next 2 nights. The Residence Inn Mystic Groton Turned out to be a great place to stay! The rooms are meant for long term stays. Each room has a bed, living room area with a sofa bed and a small kitchenette. The kitchenette has a full size fridge, dishwasher and microwave. The stay includes free internet, parking and breakfast. Very economic! It is also very close to Mystic Seaport and downtown Mystic.

I really loved Mystic. Some of the things that should not be missed are:

Mystic Seaport- A seaport with a beautiful view. It is free to stop by and look but if you want to go into the museum and onto the boats it will cost you.
Mystic Seaport- A Museum of America and the Sea- $18.50 for adults & $13 for children 6-17

Mystic River Drawbridge- Takes you to downtown Mystic (Mystic Pizza is here). We actually saw the drawbridge lift to let a boat go through. I was kicked out of the car to go take pictures. I'm serious. This actually happened quite a bit through out our trip. ;-)

Downtown Mystic- Shops, restaurants, a few bars and home of Mystic Pizza where they filmed the movie with the same name. Starring of course, Julia Roberts. We did get to dine in Mystic Pizza and it was very yummy. It is filled with tons of memorabilia from the movie and actually plays the movie on the tv's. A must see for movie fans.

Old Mistick Village- Very cute old town shopping village. A small movie theatre, coffee houses, chocolate and candy stores, gift shops, restaurants and great landscaping. Old Mistick Village was the beginning of our New England leaf collecting adventure. My mom was collecting different types of leaves for herself and I promised a friend I would bring her leaves that would remind her of where she grew up on the east coast. Old Mistick Village was a great place to start our collection.

Clyde's Cider Mill- OMG a must see for a cider lover like me!!! I love hot apple cider and hard cider. FYI, Hard Cider = alcholic beverage. And for those of you who think hard cider is a "girly" drink at the actually has more alcohol than beer! So do not judge!!!! ;-) Okayyy?! Clyde's is the oldest steam powered cider mill in the United States! Only open from September to late December so plan accordingly. They have cider making demonstrations and a gift shop where you can purchase the cider and other specialties to go. They also serve hot cider, hot apple pie, candy apples and apple cider donuts. These apple cider donuts must have been delicious because there was a 30 minute or longer wait for them! I guess I'll just have to go back. I did try the apple pie and cider and both were delicious.

**My mom and I actually got the chance to go to the movies at Old Mistick Village. Funny thing is that the latest movie started at 7:10pm! They definitely shut down early in small town Mystic! We saw the movie, The Secret Lives of Bees. I had just read the book and was dying to see the movie. The movie was pretty much exactly like the book. Both were amazing! Check them out!

**I started a game with my niece in New York. I bought her an I Love NY button for her back pack. To get her involved in the trip, we told her to collect a button from each state she went to. This became a game for her and she was so excited each time she found a new button. She would tell everyone about her buttons and which states she already had and which states she still needed. She is 4 but she is super smart. She listed the states we were visiting in correct order each time. I would say 70% of the trip she was involved in her leapster computer, her books, her dvd player or my brother's iPod that was filled with Dora and Backyardigans. These all kept her busy and let us gawk at the scenery without complaints. 20% of her time was spent playing around these different cities and the last 10% was spent on finding buttons. She had a blast with it. One minor problem occured when we lost the New York button in the airport. We thought it was gone forever. About an hour later, we found it. Thank goodness. I did not want to see the meltdown that would have occured had we not found it. Ek!

Next Stop........
Rhode Island!

Travel Girl's Connecticut Movie:
Mystic Pizza

Travel Girl Reads:
The Secret Lives of Bees: by Sue Monk Kidd

Monday, November 10, 2008

New England Trip- NYC

So first blog for my New England trip! So much has been going on with the Presidential elections and everything. And of course, my computer still being a biatch. ;-)

Anyway, it was the perfect time of year to take a New England road trip! October. Seriously. It was so beautiful! It was a quick paced whirlwind trip, but soooo worth it. Let's start from the beginning. :-)

Day 1-

Long Beach to JFK. For those of you who have not experienced Long Beach Airport, let me tell you. A-Maz-Ing. There are only 2 gates, 1 baggage claim and you have to walk out onto the tarmac to get on to your plane. It's simple and quick. Not to mention, like 10 minutes from my parent's house where I can leave my car.....for FREE!

We flew on Jet Blue which is my favorite domestic airline. The seats are leather and nice, each person gets their own tv with cable and they give you free treats and drinks! Anytime you get a chance to fly on Jet Blue, I highly recommend it.

We did not arrive in New York until 9pm. We were kind of starving since we missed a few meals with the flight and the time difference. We didn't think there would be anything near the hotel so we opted to have pizza in the airport. I was traveling with my mom, sister in law and one of my nieces who is 4 years old. My niece got to experience her first "New York pizza"! Even if it was in the middle of JFK Airport. ;-)

While waiting in line for a taxi (a very long line mind you), my niece yells, "I love New York!". Everyone near us in line starts laughing and one older lady replys, "She's the only one." Welcome to New York! ha ha.

Day 2-
We didn't have to pick the rental car up until 3pm so we woke up early and decided to go into the city. To get there, we took a bus which took us near a subway. We then took the subway into Times Square. Now I have been to NYC about 5 times, so I am very comfortable taking subways and getting around the city. I know most of the streets and how they run. I know what main sites are in what areas and I know if things are "walkable" or not. For instance, I knew if we started in Times Square that we would be able to walk to Rockafeller Plaza, walk by St. Patrick's Cathedral and walk to Central Park giving us enough time to get back to the hotel and back to rent the car by 3pm. We did just that. We also stopped for breakfast/lunch at a diner that I most likely mentioned on my NYC blog a while back. Ellen's Stardust Diner. I thought it would be a fun place for my niece and sister in law. I had previously taken my mom there on a different trip. It's a fun diner where the servers all perform songs. They perform mainly oldies and show tunes. Very lively, crowded and lots of fun. Our server even came over to my niece during his performance in which she hid under the table. That's ok, I probably would have done the same thing. ha ha.

My niece really loved the whole "public transportation thing". She loved the bus, subway and the taxis. It was hilarious.

I absolutely love New York City and wish I could have spent more time there this trip. But this was a trip about places that I have never been before so we had to be on our way. Unfortunately we did not run into any tapings of Law & Order: SVU to the dismay of myself and my sister in law. Probably a good thing because I probably would have flipped out if I saw Benson or Stabler. Seriously. It is actually very common to run into a film/tv set in New York. They are everywhere.

We made it to the rental car place and found our lovely red Sebring waiting for us. So there are 4 of us traveling together with luggage and enough "stuff" to occupy a 4 year old for 8 days all packed into a Sebring. Um the math. It doesn't add up. We knew this was going to be an issue but we made it happen. 2 big suitcases in the trunk, sister in law driving, mom in passenger seat, 1 suitcase and huge backpack and snack bag behind driver, niece in booster seat in the middle and me squished behind the passenger side with my maps ready to navigate.

Next Stop...... Mystic, Connecticut!

Travel Girl's New York TV:

Law & Order: SVU

Lipstick Jungle

Without a Trace

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I'm a slacker.....

New England post coming soon.....

My computer is a biatch and I've been preoccupied with following the Election '08!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Things are Sweeter in Tennessee.

Nashville, Tennessee

As The Wrecker's said in one of their songs......"Things are sweeter in Tennessee". But are they?? Well, I went to check it out and so here it goes:

So, our goal was to make the 12 o'clock shuttle from my work which takes us to the Orange County Airport. This sounds simple to most people, however it was stressing me out tremendously. I have a ton of work to do normally, but leading up to a weekend (especially a holiday weekend) can get even busier. I am also a little OCD regarding my work. So, of course we had a lot of last minute things to do and people were asking long questions that required research on my part to answer. But at 11:45pm, I decided I was DONE. Hands in the air, I'm over it, I'm taking a trip and All of this can wait until Tuesday! I'm so proud of my self for "letting it go". I stress enough during the weeks and so this is my little vacation and I wasn't gonna worry about it. So we were off and on our way to the airport on the 12 o'clock shuttle.

It was about a 4 hour flight to Atlanta where we had a layover of about 1 hour. The only thing is they oversold the flight and I unfortunately did not have a seat. Luckily, someone volunteered to give up their seat and I was back on the plane with a seat. 1 hour later, we were in Nashville. It was a little after 11pm Nashville time when we arrived. The taxi drove us through their main downtown strip. The place was hopping! We spotted our first cowboy....and then another....and another. Oh gosh WHERE ARE WE!?

We checked into the hotel, dropped off our stuff and walked downtown. They have 2 main streets in downtown. 2nd Avenue and Broadway. These two streets are filled with bars, restaurants, live music, tourist shops and life size statues of Elvis (seriously I think I counted about 4). Music is everywhere. You can walk by 5 bars in a row and each one will have a live band playing. I would say there were like 30 or so places playing live music at once. There are also people playing music for money on the streets. Primarily country music. There were a few places playing other types of music as well (rock/blues), but primarily country. My friend has lived in Nashville and swears there are many places to hear other types of music like singer/songwriter and blues. Mainly these places are not on the downtown strip. She even told me about a time she ran in to Maroon 5 at a bar after their show. They talked a little bit and Maroon 5 asked them for a restaurant recommendation. They gave their suggestion to which Maroon 5 replied by telling them they were gonna get a taxi. So what should 2 girls with a car do?? Of course offer them a ride which they accepted. They all ended up having dinner together! See, you never know who you will run into in "Music City"!

On Saturday, we decided to check out one of the recommended restaurants we were told about. Pancake Pantry ( was established in 1960 and was Tennessee's first pancake house. The place is family owned and everything is made from scratch. Peach delight, Blueberry, Apricot Lemon, Pecan and Chocolate Chip are some of the yummy selections. However, expect a line. A long line. We decided to skip Pancake Pantry for the day since the line was about 2 hours long.

Our taxi driver instead took us by Vanderbilt University to the Parthenon. The Parthenon in Nashville is the only life size replica of the original which resides in Athen, Greece. We then decided we would walk from there and try to find Belmont Mansion. We did not have the best map in the world so we ended up missing streets and roaming around Nashville for about 3 hours until finally walking back downtown. We had lunch on Broadway and went back to the hotel. The heat and the miles and miles of walking and the jet lag must have done something to us because we were just exhausted. It was very hot, but I think what we weren't used to was the humidity! We did not do too much else but rest and read our books. I did go back out for a walk downtown in the evening. Tomorrow, we decided we shall rent a car!!!

Best idea ever to rent this car!! $25 gets us the car (complete with AC!!!) until tomorrow where we will drop it off at the airport on our way home. Our hotel had free internet and we mapquested our hearts out. We looked up all of the places we wanted to see and were off to pick up the car. This day, we did get to go to Pancake Pantry and I enjoyed some Blueberry Pancakes. The line was about 45 minutes long. Not too bad.

We then went to Belle Meade Plantation which was very cool. ( Built in 1853, the Harding-Jackson family were the original owners of the Belle Meade Farm. The farm bred and trained championship Thoroughbred horses. On site is also, the dairy (or creamery), the slave quarters, a mausoleum and stables. Free to browse around and definitely worth the trip. You can purchase tickets for a tour which actually takes you inside the mansion. About 6 miles from downtown.

I had to! ha ha.

Next stop was The Grand Ole Opry House. ( We did not go inside the Opry House, but did get to go into the Grand Ole Opry Museum which was quite interesting. The grounds are nice as well. Definitely check out the museum. It's free and very cold inside (nice to get out of the heat!) and fun to look at even if you are not a huge country music fan.

While we were across the river, we went to LP Stadium: Home of the Titans. Just to look and take a few pictures.

We saw the Tennessee State Capital building. Very close to downtown and our hotel. We couldn't find how we could get to the top of the hill it was on to view it up close, but we still saw it and were able to get some good pictures.

We then decided to check out that house I was telling you about. I had mapquested the directions and since we had extra time, we decided to check it out. It was about a 15 minute drive on the 40 freeway westbound. We got off the freeway and turned down this long windy road. Green hills on both sides of the road but no houses. I'm not gonna lie, I was thinking, "this is beautiful, but we are in the middle of nowhere!". But that only lasted about 1 minute and then we saw tons and tons of beautiful houses. I mean really beautiful. Now this is what I was hoping Tennessee was going to be like. We found my house and I love it now more than I did before. I didn't get to go inside, but I have seen pictures of the inside. Check it out....isn't it awesome?!

Our next recommended restarant is SATCO or San Antonio Taco Company. But you must call it SATCO or you will be outed as a "tourist"! SATCO is near Vanderbilt University and is the local hangout. You can even get a bucket of beers. When you walk in, you are greeted with pads of paper and pencils. There is a check list of different types of tacos, fillings and sides. You check off what you want and give it to the cashier. Very casual yummy place to go. Even for a vegetarian like myself. They had bean tacos! Woo hoo!

Back to the hotel to shower and get ready to go back to Broadway to have drinks for my roommates birthday. The big 25! On our way back to the hotel after drinks, we stopped by the market to get waters and met a hilarious (and I think homeless) guy. He was super nice and very funny. There are some interesting characters in downtown Nashville, but I have to say everyone was friendly.

Monday. Up at 4:15am to get on our way home. Another layover in Atlanta, Georgia. This one was a long one. Then back to Orange County. Then the 45 minute drive home. It was a long day! Plus we gained 2 hours in the time change.

So. Lots of things to do in Nashville. The downtown area was not my favorite part of Nashville, but did have a lot to do. Definitely rent a car. Since everything is spread out, you will save money on all of the taxi's you would have needed. Do fill up the gas tank before you drop it off so they will not charge you a ginormous fee! The car will help you see all of the great sites within Nashville. These sites are important to the Nashville's history. I would definitely have loved to have more time to drive around more in the suburbs. It's just very green and beautiful.

So, in conclusion.....things can be sweeter in Tennessee, you just have to venture out and find them!

My Nashville playlist includes:
The Wreckers- Stand Still, Look Pretty
Sara Evans- Greatest Hits
Dixie Chicks- Taking the Long Way


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Nashville on a Whim....

On a brief moment of insanity… roommate and I bought round trip tickets to Nashville. For next Friday. Tickets were cheap and it’s Labor Day weekend. Now we are not actually allowed to take time off work together (by the way, we work together). However, the only time off we need to take is ½ day on Friday. Our flight leaves at 2pm out of Santa Ana airport which is 10 minutes from our work. We even have a shuttle that will take us there. So, it kind of works out perfect. Now, I just have to get the guts to break it to our manager. She is also out sick today… maybe I’ll get the guts tomorrow. I mean it is a holiday weekend, so no one should be working Friday afternoon anyways. Right??

So why Nashville? I heard it’s got amazing night life, music scene and it’s clean. It’s also supposed to be really beautiful. So, I’m super excited. Also, while researching Nashville, I found a house that I want. Seriously. It’s a 4 bedroom house with a living room, family room, bonus room, dining room, in-kitchen dining room, etc. It’s gorgeous and almost $100,000 cheaper than the 2 bedroom condo I am currently residing in. How depressing is that???

In conclusion…..I’m going to check out the city (heat and all), to see if it’s got potential to be my next “home town”!

Any suggestions of what is a must see on my 3 day stay in Nashville?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

New trip coming soon!

OMG....So after more than a year of "no big trips", I finally have a new trip planned. Going to New England in October, 2008.

Long Beach to NYC
NYC for the night
Rent Car
NYC to Mystic, Connecticut (2 nights)
Connecticut to Providence, Rhode Island (2 nights)
Rhode Island to Brunswick, Maine (1 night)
Maine to Boston, Massachusetts (2 nights)
Boston to Long Beach

Out of all of those states, I've only been to NYC. Any suggestions on places to go while we are in any of these wonderful cities??

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Excerpts from a Travel Journal

Now that I'm a homeowner (condo owner, actually), there is no money for traveling. :*( So, when I miss my travel days, I tend to read my old travel journals and look at old travel pictures. I know my days of travel are not over. They are just temporarily on "hold". (i'm trying to take some small weekend trips to keep me from going insane)

I thought I would share some excerpts from some of my old trips. I'm not a writer, so I hope I can get my point across about how wonderful my trips have been and what amazing things there are out there to see. I want to inspire YOU to go out and see the world!



A poem written in my journal by a good friend of mine at the time. It was written right before my first trip overseas.

To Laugh is to risk appearing the fool
To Weep is to risk appearing sentimental
To Reach out for another is to risk involvement
To Expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self
To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss
To Live is to risk dying
To hope is to risk despair
To Try is to risk failure
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing
The person who risks nothing, has nothing, is nothing
One may avoid suffering and sorrow, but one simply cannot learn, feel, grow, live or love
Chained by certitude and safety, one becomes enslaved
Only the person who risks is free

London 1999

Jan. 11, 1999
"Right now I am at the airport in Toronto, Canada. I’m sitting in some sort of cafeteria where everyone around me is speaking French. I guess I should have listened better in my 2 years of High School French! I still have 2 hours to wait. Outside is freezing and the ground covered in snow."

Jan. 12, 1999
"The flight from Canada to London was horrible. It was very crowded and cramped. No room to breath. The food was horrible and my stomach hurt really bad. Then, as the plane was finally getting close to the ground, the plane tilted and it was so beautiful. It was pitch black outside except for the city lights. I forgot about my horrible flight and got excited again."

Jan. 13, 1999
"The Polish girl showed me to the tube station where I bought a week pass. I love the Tube. I’m learning all of the tricks. Like on the escalator, you stand on the right side so people who are in a hurry can walk up the left side."

Jan. 26, 1999
"Today Jee and I went to Trafalger Square. Okay, not my favorite place. A million pigeons! I’m not even exaggerating. It was so gross." (FYI, since this first trip, Trafalger Square has become one of my favorite places in London. Minus the pigeons.)

Jan. 28, 1999
"Well, I’m in Canada again on my layover. I was really sad to leave, but this morning I was stressed out about my packing. It just wasn’t fitting. I had to take 2 carry ons and hope they wouldn’t say anything. And my luggage is soooo heavy. You should have seen me get it down the stairs this morning. Horrible!"

Europe via Contiki Tour 2000/2001

Dec. 27, 2000
"I just flew in to London. When I arrived in London Heathrow, I went directly through customs then directly to the underground on the Picadilly Line. It was all coming back to me now. Everything felt very familiar."

Dec. 29, 2000
"I am sitting on the ferry on my way to France. Bright and early this morning (actually it was still dark). We all met at the hotel and we left about 8am. There’s a lot of people on this tour. About 45. So far there seems to be some nice people, but we haven’t done too much talking yet."

Dec. 30, 2000-Amsterdam
"We rode the tram to get to Anne Frank’s House, the museum. I was disappointed that I couldn’t be there longer. It was so interesting. It felt weird that we were in the same house where all her stories took place. She has the same birthday as me, June 12. We saw the book shelf that hid the door and behind it, the steep stair case (that was more like a ladder!). We also saw her actual journal and the pictures that she had cut out of magazines and glued to the wall. It was so cool."

Dec. 31, 2000-St. Goar, Germany
"Outside our hotel was so beautiful. The Rhine River was right outside and we could see 2 castles. I read that right around here along the Rhine River, they built castles (a bunch of them right in a row) along the river so that the barges would have to pay each time they passed a castle. And everyone wanted to make money, so they all built castles."

Jan. 1, 2001-Munich, Germany
"Well, New Years in Munich was awesome! Very cold. We only had 45 minutes to get ready in the hotel. That is so not enough time for a bunch of girls to get ready for New Years Eve! But we made it."

"Our dinner was being held at a huge beer hall where we had our own room. We brought our music from the bus. We had a yummy dinner and huge beer steins. You need two hands just to pick it up. We drank, laughed, danced and mingled. We had a great time. Right at New Years, there were fireworks outside. Lets just say, New Years in Munich was amazing!!"

"It was the most beautiful place ever. All of the snow capped mountains of the Austrian Alps and the trees covered in snow. It was breathtaking. We stopped on the side of the rode just to take pictures."

Innsbrook, Austria
"Myself, Louise (South Africa), Alli and Amy (Australia) and Becky (Wisconsin) could not believe how beautiful it was. We wanted to move there. It was such a cute little town. We even saw a horse and carriage. We were also able to enjoy some yummy hot chocolate. It was so thick like it was just melted chocolate. A little too sweet for me but a nice experience."

Jan. 2, 2001-Venice
"We took the ferry to Venice, which is sinking! They said it sinks 1 foot every 10 years! They’ve called in experts to try and help them. Venice was dirty, but it looked pretty cool with all of the canals and architecture"

"So then we went to another organized dinner. Oh my gosh! It was so fun. We had bread and bruschetta and vegetables and pasta. And endless bottles of red wine, white wine and one more kind of wine. Some fun Italian men came in and sang for us. The tour manager and bus driver had roses delivered to each of the girls in our group. After the dinner, the vino, the roses and the singing we all went crazy. It was an amazing night in Venice."

"We got back to the hotel which was a Holiday Inn and really nice. But you have to leave the key in a slot for all the electricity to work. So when my roommate left, she took the key with her. I was on the toilet and then the lights went out. I was a little drunk so it wasn’t making things any easier."

Jan. 3, 2001-Rome
"Looking out the window, it was so dirty. Once we got off the highway, it was so curvy and the drivers were horrible. There are no rules in Rome."

"We walked to the Spanish Steps and the Barberini and the Trevi Fountain. The Trevi Fountain was beautiful. They say if you throw a coin in the fountain, you will come back to Rome one day. There were shops around and little pizzerias and cafes. We were warned about the scam artists. One in particular where women throw their babies at you and pick pocket you while you are saving/catching the baby! Apparently that happens quite often! I sure hope they don't use their real babies. We got to have dinner wherever we wanted, so we went to one of the pizzerias. So good."

Jan. 5, 2001-Florence
"Oh, Florence is so beautiful! I could live here in a second. We were driving to Florence and it was pure Italy. The villas, the vineyards and the hills of Tuscany. Bella!"

"In the excitement of being in Florence (and getting a new leather coat), Anna from Australia said, ‘Don’t you just know right away when a city is "you"?’ How true. Florence is so me."

Jan. 8, 2001-Paris
"It was a bittersweet night. I’m really sad we’re almost finished. Tomorrow is our last day. Gosh, that’s horrible. I want to stay here forever."

Words I learned:

From the Aussies:
no-oi (no)
mackers (Mc Donalds)
Hey? (What?)
Dawling (darling)
pissed (drunk)
piccys (pictures)
uni (university)
loo (bathroom)
heaps (loads/tons)

From the South Africans:
yah (yes)

From the Brits:
Dirty Slapper
Slapper (slut)
arse (ass)
bloke (guy)
mad (crazy)
Mind the Gap

From the Irish:
oh noi (oh no)
happy day
fecken (fucking)
codgy (not from Dublin)
toilet (bathroom)
Oh for fucksake
tunder (thunder)
tirty tree (thirty three)

From the Wisconsin’s:

New York 2003

Jan. 9, 2003
"This one man was selling paintings he had done of the city. He painted himself into one of the pictures. In the picture, he was waving."

Jan. 9, 2003
"While we were standing on the bench to take a picture, a gust of wind came up and blew my hat right into the Hudson River! Damn it, I really liked that hat."

Jan. 10, 2003
"I only fell once. But now I can say that I’ve ice skated in Central Park. I have the pictures to prove it."

Jan. 13, 2003
"We were on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade when this pigeon was kind of hopping towards me. Well, I was about to shoo it away, but then I noticed that it only had one leg! How sad! Diana wanted to take a picture of it, but I thought that would be mean. I hate pigeons, but sad."

Jan. 14, 2003
"We took a town car back to the airport and now we’re on our way home. New York City, oh how I will miss you!"

Vancouver, BC 2003

Aug. 21, 2003
"We must have been a sight to see. Riding around Victoria Island on mopeds dressed for tea at the Empress Hotel."

New York 2003

Oct. 1, 2003
"We accidentally walked into a filming while in Times Square. They were standing about 1 foot away from us. I recognized the actor and at first I thought it was Peter Gallagher, but then we figured out that it wasn’t him, but another actor from one of those cop shows. When I figure out who it was, I will write it in here." (It was Mr. Big from Sex and the City! It was when he was filming Law & Order.)

Australia 2004

Aug. 27, 2004
"Meeting Alicia tomorrow! We’ve been writing since freshman year in high school. About 11 years! We’ve never met, but we feel like we have since we know each other so well. I’m excited! Going to sleep now. It was a 14 ½ hour flight. And I lost a day due to the time/day change."

Aug. 28, 2004
"The Rocks is the gateway to Sidney. It’s where all the convicts were sent in to live years ago. Now all those old warehouses are converted into restaurants and shops. Since it was Saturday, they had all the markets at the Rocks set up. It was like a huge craft market."

Aug. 28, 2004
"Then it was time to go to her parent’s house in Wollongong. They kept calling her to see if we were almost there. They were really excited for me to come. I recognized 41 Nebo Drive right away. Once there, they asked me about a million questions. They were asking me everything from the President to movie stars to Las Vegas. I should have studied. ;-)"

Aug. 28, 2004
"They were all deciding where we should go for dinner. They were trying to think of a good place to take me. Their dad mentioned his favorite place but everyone said no because they go there almost every Sunday. I told them that’s where I wanted to go because I wanted to be like a local and do what they do. When in Rome, right?? So we went to the Collegians Rugby Club"

Aug. 28, 2004
"Alicia’s brother, Adam came home today from a guys trip to Queensland. He brought me a big stuffed Koala Bear which he carried all the way from Queensland on the plane. I think he was a little embarrassed (carrying a stuffed Koala around with a bunch of his buddies), but now my Koala has a nice/funny story. Ha ha."

Aug. 29, 2004
"After our day of site seeing, we came home and Alicia’s mom prepared us a huge dinner. Lots of things to choose from. Including many vegetarian options for myself which was so sweet of her. It was awesome. Later on, Adam (brother), Debbie (Adam’s girlfriend) and Matt (Alicia’s boyfriend) came home and all the "kids" hung out in the family room. Randomly, the MTV Music Awards was on. We chatted more and now it was Adam’s turn to ask me a million questions. Matt and Alicia had warned me about his silly questions, so I came into it prepared! It was a really good time. We also had tea and biscuits! It was good to get to know everyone."

Aug. 30, 2004
"This morning I said good bye to my Australian family. Adam and Debbie work in Sydney, so I drove with them. Everyone had to remind Adam to make sure he was going to take me to the "departures" and not to the "arrivals". Well, I made it and now I’m off to Melbourne."

New York City (again!!??) 2005

Jan. 5, 2005
"We flew from Long Beach to JFK on Jet Blue. The best airline ever! I took two dramamines while waiting for our flight.....which got delayed. I pretty much knocked the heck out for the entire trip. Note to self: One dramamine is sufficient. We both had our brand new iPod mini’s with us, so we had unlimited music the whole flight!"

"When we arrived to the Marquis Marriott, we checked in and found out we had been upgraded to a suite for the night! It’s good to know people. ;-) We even received a ‘Sex and the City’ themed amenity of chocolate covered strawberries and all the supplies to make your own Cosmos! Awesome!"

"We found a cute little Italian restaurant near our friend’s apartment (around 82nd and Amsterdam) called Al Dente. It was so good! We were there for like 2 ½ hours just chatting and eating. Our table was right next to the window and in the middle of our dinner, it really started snowing. It was such a perfect New York night!"

Jan. 6, 2005
"We were near Wall Street and had lunch by Trinity Church at Champ’s Deli. We watched all of the Wall Street guys in suits walking by. It was great!"

Jan. 7, 2005
"We went to Wollman’s Rink to go ice skating. However, I ice skated and Anna ice walked holding on to the side wall. She was so scared. It was pretty funny. But at least she can say she did it!"

"We went to Studio 54 to see an off Broadway play called ‘Newsical’. There were 4 actors and they just did a bunch of sketches about current events like Martha Stewart, President Bush, Michael Jackson, botox, etc. It was really funny. And it was inside Studio 54 which made it even cooler!"

Jan. 9, 2005
"So, we got to go to Serendipity today. Serendipity has been in lots of movies, including ‘One Fine Day’ and of course, ‘Serendipity’ with my BF, John Cusack! I should have asked for the "John Cusack" table. Ha ha. Anyways, they are famous for their Frozzen Hot Chocolate. It was huge. Kind of like blended chocolate milk. Really good."

London and Paris! 2005

Nov. 10, 2005
"I was looking for my name out in the crowd of people at the arrivals gate for my ride, but did not see it. I had the info booth page them. It turns out, the guy had a sign with their company name instead since he gets people who aren’t the correct person trying to get a ride. I wish I would have known that BEFORE."

"So he dropped me off at 22 Hippodrome Mews to the Bed and Breakfast I was going to be staying at and no one was home. He just dropped me off and left. After about 25 minutes hanging out on the cobble stone drive of my host's house, my host finally arrived. She thought my flight was later. Phew, I thought I was going to be stranded."

Nov. 11, 2005
"This morning, the lady I’m staying with had croissants, fruit and orange juice all set up for me, so that was lovely."

"Then we went to Abbey Road. (The BEATLES!) We ended up passing it and walking forever. But a nice guy who drove a double decker took us where we needed to go and we had to jump off the bus because he said it wasn’t an actual bus stop! We finally were able to take our pictures. Let me just say, Abby Road is a super busy street. Not an easy task."

"At Madame Tussauds, they had a ‘Death Chamber’ which was live actors kind of like a haunted house. It was unbelievably scary. We made a couple go in front of us. Kelsey was clinging to them and I was clinging to her. I haven’t been that scared in a long time!"

"We went to see the play Chicago. I know I’ve seen it a million times but I love it! And Linda Carter played Mama Morton! You know....Wonder Woman! Who knew Wonder Woman could sing??"

"Then we went to King’s Cross station because we heard they have the Platform 9 3/4 like in the Harry Potter books and movies. Well the movie is really filmed there. So I actually went up to a guy that worked there and asked him where Platform 9 3/4 was. He looked around and let us through the gate and told us how to get there. Well, we didn’t quite understand his directions, but we finally found it and it is right between Platforms 9 and 10 and it has a sign and a Trolley, you can take pictures with. Which of course we did. It was totally embarassing but so hilarious."

"I picked up some groceries for dinner and came home for an early night. I watched a show called The X Factor which is kind of like American Idol. It even has Simon Cowell in it. Along with Sharon Osborne. They have one channel that shows a lot of American shows. I got to watch CSI, Law and Order SVU and House. Nice! Those are some of my favorites. The girls are coming tomorrow morning so it’s going to be a long day. I’m going to surprise them at the airport, so that will be really fun."

Nov. 16, 2005- Paris
"We arrived at our hotel in Paris. It’s very cute and very European. The elevator fit me and one piece of luggage and literally that is all. Then the elevator got lost somewhere between floors and we couldn’t find it. So we had to lug up the rest of the luggage up four flights of stairs! The wonderful thing is that we have an amazing view."

"Me, Lisa and Anna went to a little bar next to the hotel. I was able to order our drinks in French! Woo hoo, I’m so proud."

"We had dinner at a restaurant down the street from the hotel. I had french onion soup. Or is it just onion soup here??"

Nov. 17, 2005
"Today we went to the Sacre Couere. We walked from our hotel and had to keep asking for directions in French. We had to take about a million steps to get there not to mention how hilly Montmartre is. We were dying. But we made it to the top and it was beautiful. Sidewalk cafe’s, painters and street performers.... it was soooo Paris."

London/Paris/Scotland 2006

Sep 26, 2006
"On the train....can you tell? So we woke up this morning at 5:30am. Not much sleep. We had to catch our train at King’s Cross station at 8am. Now we are on the train and it’s pretty nice because we have our own table. Will write more later."

"We arrived in Edinburgh at about 12:30pm. We took a taxi to the hostel, which is about 10 minutes from downtown. I am so glad we picked this one cause the hostel looks like a castle. And it’s on the water. It has a bar, a market, internet, tv room, movie room and you can even do laundry here."

"We are now at the hostel pub and writing in our journals about the busy day we had. Ha ha, some guy just bought myself and Amanda a shot. It was a nasty shot of Malibu Rum. Jokes on him when he wakes up in the morning with no money and a bad hangover. ;-)"

Sep 27, 2006
"Train ride from Edinburgh to London. Not much went on this time. Lots of iPod time. The ride was beautiful, though. Lots of green, water and sheep!"

"We went to Leicester Square for dinner and ended up running in to the Premiere of the movie Click! It was awesome because we got to see Adam Sandler and Kate Beckinsale. We also found a yummy gelato place. Mmmm."

"Tomorrow off to Paris!"

Sep. 28, 2006
"London to Paris! OMG! What a day. We had a horrible morning. We started by taking a taxi to Waterloo station so we could catch our train. Well, we thought we had cash but didn’t. And of course, the driver did not take cards. So, Amanda ran inside to find an ATM. Well, she was taking a while and the driver was pacing and getting frustrated. When she got back, she told us that the machine ate her card!! Can you believe that? So then I go up to find another ATM and I’m running because the driver has the meter still running and our train leaves soon. I finally found an ATM and there are literally 15 people in front of me. SERIOUSLY! So I finally get the money and run down and give him the money. I found out later that he had been giving Amanda a hard time and she was losing it with him. Seriously what did he want us to do?! He threatened to call the police if we didn’t pay. What the hell did he think we were trying to do? He also said he was losing money by waiting for us when he clearly was not losing money as we were being charged for every second. Moving on. We ran to our station and get where we need to be and of course our train was at the END of the terminal so we were running with our bags. We finally got on the train and the doors shut right behind us. We totally thought we were gonna miss it."

Sep. 29, 2006
"We started out at the Louvre Museum. We saw the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and the Winged Angel. I’ve seen them all before, but now that I’ve seen the movie Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn, everything is a little more fun to see because it reminds me of her and makes me laugh. I love that movie!"

"We went to La Tour Eiffel. It was the perfect time to go because we were able to see it during the day and as the sun set and then at night all lit up. It was so beautiful!! We also found this cute little restaurant nearby the Tour Eiffel and had the best onion soup and salad. So delicious."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Edinburgh, Scotland!

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle
Home to the nation's crown jewels!
*last tickets sold 45 minutes before closing

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Admission is FREE!

Mercat Tours
-history tours
-ghost tours
Explore the Old Town's haunted history

Royal Mile
Street that leads up to Edinburgh Castle
*nice shopping area

Palace of Holyroodhouse
Working Royal Palace. The Royal Apartments are used by the Queen for State, ceremonial and official entertaining.
*located at the end of The Royal Mile

Deacon Brodie's Tavern
Named after Deacon William Brodie, who inspired Robert Louis Stevenson's novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He was a respected cabinet-maker and a member of the town council. He lived a secret life of crime making copies of all of the keys he manufactured to come back at night with accomplices. He escaped to the Netherlands. He was later caught and arrested. He was found guilty and sentenced to hang on October 1, 1788.

Places to Stay:
Globetrotter Inn (hostel)
46 Marine Dr.
Scotland, UK
Perfect for backpackers, independant travelers and families are also welcome. Lots of amenities and a great water view of the Firth and Forth. Very simple accomodations. Budget friendly! A few of the amenities include:
-24 hour internet cafe
-tv room
-cinema room
-continental breakfast
-use of kitchen
-small arcade
*they also provide a shuttle into the city for a small fee

My Video Log (VLOG)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Vancouver & Victoria Island

Oh Canada....

Vancouver, British Columbia

Capilano Suspension Bridge
450 foot suspension bridge that sways 230 feet above the canyon floor!

Grouse Mountain
15 Minutes from downtown Vancouver
Peak elevation 4,100 feet
General Admission includes:
-Sky Ride- 8 minute ride up the mountainside
-Grouse Mountain's World Lumberjack Show
-Mountaintop Eco Walk
-Grouse Refuge for Endangered Wildlife- Visit orphaned grizzly bear cubs!
*Great views of Vancouver

Stanley Park- 1,000 acre park
-Vancouver Aquariam Marine Science Centre
-Rose Garden
-Totem poles
-free shuttle bus circles the park (June-September)
-horse drawn trolley tours available for fee

Gas Town
Tourist area

Gas Town Steam Clock-
Built to cover a steam vent. Powered almost completely by steam.

Victoria Island
*Capital of British Columbia

Fairmont Empress Hotel
-Afternoon tea has been served since 1908!
*reservations advised

Butchart Gardens
5,000 types of flowers, shrubs and trees

Parliament Buildings

Government House
-Queen's residence when visiting.

Cycle BC Rentals
-Rent scooters, motercycles and bicycles
*they provide you a map with various routes to choose from. It's an inexpensive (fun) way to see the city! Little hint. Make sure you know how to park the scooter before you take off. ;-) They'll let you practice in their lot.

Visiting Family! Tante Edith (Opa's sister). Her apartment has views of the harbor!

We had time before tea at the Empress so we rented the scooters. Should explain the outfit....Embarassing!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


London Calling:

How to get around:

The Big Bus Company
How to buy tickets:
-On the bus at any Big Bus departure point
-From any uniformed Big Bus staff
-hotel concierge
You can also purchase tickets to: Madame Tussauds, Tower of London, Kensington Palace and St. Paul's Cathedral through the Big Bus Company.

Save 2 pounds if you buy tickets online.
Adults: 20 pounds (approx)
Child: 10-12 pounds (approx)

This is a great way to get around the city. It's simple and you get a great view of the city from the top of the bus. They have stops at all of the main tourist attractions. You pick which sites you want to see. You just go back to the pick up spot and wait for the next bus when you are done.

London Underground
If you have more time, travel like the locals and ride the tube! Mind the Gap!

Things to Do:

London Theatre

Madame Tussauds
Not your typical wax museum. You can actually touch these ones. You can pose with your favorite stars and take tons of fun pictures. Have "dinner" with George Clooney. Give Prince William a hug. Very fun. Try not to spend all day here!

12 pounds (approx)

Me and Wills. What? I just ran into him at Kensington. ;-)
BTW, I'm not short, he's just freakishly tall!

London Eye
Adults 15.50 pounds
Children 7.75 pounds
Children under 5 FREE

Tower of London
Adults 16.50 pounds
Children 9.50 pounds
The Tower of London was a place of execution between 1388 and 1747. Over 130 men and women were killed by beheading. This type of death was reserved for members of nobility. It was an honorable death, unlike hanging.

Must see the Crowned Jewels! Collection of crowns, sceptres, orbs, swords, rings, armill and royal robes used during the coronation ceremonies and at other state functions.

FYI, this is not the "London Bridge". However, if you are going to pick a bridge to see in London, this is the one!

Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace has been a royal residence since the 17th century. Until 1997, it was the official residence of Diana, Princess of Wales. Prince William and cousin, Zara Phillips on an unofficial basis.
Currently, the Palace hosts an exhibition, "Diana, Princess of Wales" by Mario Testino, which is open to the public.

Buckingham Palace
Official residence of Britain's sovereigns.

Westminster Abbey

Trafalger Square

Picadilly Circus

The Times Square of London!


New Bond Street- Upscale shopping


Covent Garden-

Camden Market- A must see! Huge open air markets. Get everthing from records, clothes, crafts, goods, food, etc. An interesting mix of people. Expect to see mohawks, platform boots, piercings and funky clothes!

Abbey Road! A suprisingly busy street. This was a very hard picture to coordinate!

Platform 9 3/4. It does exist!!!! If you go to King's Cross Underground Station, you will find this in between platforms 9 and 10. You can ask an employee for directions. (kind of embarassing but totally funny! ha ha.)

My Travel Video Log (VLOG)

Movies to See:
The Holiday
Notting Hill
Bridget Jones
Love Actually

**If you are feeling adventurous, there are a ton of Bed & Breakfasts available where you can rent a room. I've stayed in a cottage in Notting Hill/Holland Park. It was a little bit out of the way but it was sooo worth it. It was a great experience to stay at a real house. I had my own bathroom and bedroom and I even got a continental breakfast each morning. A tip in finding a good Bed & Breakfast is to make sure it is within a short walking distance to an underground station or taxi service. Trust me on this one!!!

**When you are traveling via the tube (underground, subway, etc) late at night, be aware that some lines close after a certain time. So your stop may not be available. You may have to taxi it or learn how to navigate the night buses!

**Tube passes can be purchased at most major underground stations. You can use cash or credit card. They have day passes, but if you know you will be there for more than a day, the better deals are the multi day passes.