Saturday, May 30, 2009

Travel Dilema

Ok kids. I have a dilema and I need help!

So my friend and I have been going back and forth about a trip this summer. I'm not used to traveling with a real "traveler". Usually, I plan everything and one or more of my friends just tags along. But this friend is well traveled and has ideas of her own. Her original idea was to go to Croatia. I told her to send me an itinerary. Meaning, I wanted a detailed document of hotels, flights and all travel costs. So I can get a ballpark figure. That's how I work! I need to see exactly how much everything is. So she sent it to me. all looked great but I just couldn't bear to spend the money. Especially since I've been working so hard to eliminate my dept. Then the flights went up drastically and that trip fizzled out for her too.

Then I came up with a very cost effective trip where we would both be seeing places we've never been. So she asked me for an itinerary. Paybacks' a bitch! ha ha.. So below is my plan:

LA to Atlanta
Rent a car
2 nights in Savannah, Georgia
2 nights in Wilmington, North Carolina
2 nights in NYC, New York
1 night in Washington, DC
1 night in Charlotte, North Carolina
1 night in Atlanta, Georgia
Fly home

**The reason for the round trip was because dropping off a rental car at a different place than where you picked it up from added about $400 to the cost of the rental!! Originally I had planned to continue up to Boston and fly home from there. I just couldn't justify spending the extra $400!

Here are the costs:
Flight: $314 (taxes included)
Hotels: $612.29 (taxes included)($306.15 each)
Rental Car for all days: $290 ($145 each)
Parking fees at hotels: $127 (63.50 each)(FYI: $110 of this is for the 2 nights in NYC! wtf!)
Total: $828.65 each

Not bad, huh?? Helps when you work for Marriott and can get some of the rooms for $39 per night! Holler!!

Well my friend was really excited about this trip too. She loves Savannah and has never been to NYC. But then she got bored and still had Europe on the mind so she kept searching flights. She then decided she would go to Europe no matter what. Even if it's by herself. (Boo for my trip!! I really like my itinerary!)

She came up with a pretty good trip and the cost is actually not bad for Europe. However, it was still a bit more than my trip would have costed and I just hate to rack up a credit card again. She bought her ticket yesterday. She will be going to Berlin, Prague and Vienna. She got a good deal on a flight. I believe it ended up to be about $630. She sent me an updated itinerary and I've been looking it over. Her Berlin hotel was kind of expensive so I looked it up again and found a cheaper Marriott to stay in for all 3 nights. This will be a savings of approximately $180!! I also found a cheaper flight! So here is her itinerary after my modifications:

LA to Berlin
3 nights in Berlin
3 nights in Prague
3 nights in Vienna
Vienna to LA

Flight: $567.90
Hotels: $380.85 ($190.43 each)
Trains: $197 (Berlin to Prague and Prague to Vienna)
Total: $955.33 each

Wow! Great prices right? So other than the fact that this one would cost me more money, the only other problem with this one is the dates of this trip will take me out of work for 2 weeks! (because of when the cheaper flights were) No bueno! I do have plenty of paid time off available so I will be getting full pay. But all of the catch up work would not be cute!

So there it is. My travel dilema. Do I spend the extra money and take the Europe trip? Or do I be more reasonable and take my East Coast trip with another friend?

I just can not decide. Hmmmmmm......

Wish I was Here....

Dear Travel Peeps,

Wish I was here!


Lake Mission Viejo: South Orange County

A few pics from the lake by my house. Lake Mission Viejo. (located in South Orange County) This is a great place to take a walk. It's a little over 3 miles to walk around the whole thing. It is located on Alicia Parkway in between Marguerite and Olympiad. I usually park on Marguerite in a shopping center. Then walk towards Olympiad. Right on Olympiad. Right on Alicia and then Right back onto Marguerite. Basically it's like a big triangle. Nice views though!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Fruits of my Labor!

Hi Travel Peeps!

No travel news today but I just had to show you my tomatos. Some of them are ripe and ready to eat! So exciting! I made some yummy dinner using one of the ripe tomatos and some basil from my plant. Yummmmmm!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Orange County: Beaches, Beach Cruisers & Balboa Bars

Orange County: Beaches, Beach Cruisers & Balboa Bars!

So on Friday, I was so excited that I was going to have 4 days off of work. 4 days!! Monday being Memorial Day and Tuesday being an extra day off to "save money" for the company. I have plenty of paid time off so I was happy to take the extra day off. However....friday at work all of a sudden I got a sore throat. No way! Seriously, I just got over a 3 week cold. This cannot be. Well I woke up Saturday morning and it was definitely a cold. Not cute. So I spent all weekend (and most of Monday) sleeping off this rude cold.

Today (Tuesday), I decided I'd had enough of my house and bed so I decided to venture out on a drive. I live in Orange County. Besides the hiking posts, I don't think I've done anything on Orange County yet.
Being that it was such a beautiful day, I decided to do some of the beaches. I started at the nearest beach to where I live which is Laguna Beach. It was still a little cloudy but still nice.

Heading North on Pacific Coast Highway, the next stop is Crystal Cove State Park.

A must stop is the Shake Shack! Located on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It's on the left (if you are driving north on PCH) right before Crystal Cove State Park.

This is the historic district of Crystal Cove. They are currently renovating some of the cottages within this district. You can rent one of the updated cottages per night. Right on the water. Amazing views and some movie history as you'll see a few pictures down.

Does this view look familiar? Check out the cottage on the left.

Up close. Well, it may not look like much now. But this was the cottage used in the movie Beaches! Seriously! I know, it's not so cute now but still pretty cool. And who knew it was located in Orange County! I believe this is one of the areas that will be restored once more funds are available. Hopefully they restore it to it's old movie star days!

**They also filmed scenes for the movie at the Balboa Fun Zone! Balboa Fun Zone is a waterfront amusement park located on Balboa Peninsula.

Next stop is Corona Del Mar. Located in between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. Mainly residential with amazing houses and amazing views. From PCH, take a left on Poppy Ave. This dead ends at a beutiful view. Make a right at the dead end onto Ocean Blvd. State Beach is on the left. Tons of celebrities live in this area. I didn't want to be a stalker so I didn't take pictures of the amazing houses around this view. But stop by and you will see. :-)
Check out the top floor of this house! I wonder what it looks like from the water!
Last stop of the day was Balboa Island. Continue going North on PCH. Make a left on Jamboree Road which turns into Marine Ave. Marine Ave. is the main street of Balboa Island. Very cute little beach town. Quaint restaurants and beachy shops surrounded by cute (million dollar) houses. Lots of people drive golf carts around since parking can be tight and not plentiful.
A MUST have while on Balboa Island: A Frozen Banana or a Balboa Bar! Yummo!

This path surrounds Balboa Island making a really nice walk!

From Balboa Island, you can take the ferry (by car or walk on) over to Balboa Peninsula where you can access Balboa Pier/Beach and Newport Pier/Beach. Also on Balboa Peninsula is the Balboa Fun Zone which is a boardwalk/waterfront amusement area.
There is also another way to get to Balboa Peninsula without taking the ferry. From PCH continue going north and make a left on Newport Blvd and merge onto Balboa Blvd.

Normally, I would continue driving North to Huntington Beach which is a few miles north of Newport Beach but I didn't have time since I got a late start. Most people would probably start in Huntington Beach and go south to Laguna. But since I live south, I went backwards! Huntington Beach is a fun busy beach. If you make a right on Main Street, that is the central hub. Tons of restaurants, bars and beachy shops. On the beach you can rent beach cruiser bikes. When I lived in Huntington, I used to ride my beach cruiser from Huntington to Newport. It's a nice fairly flat ride. My favorite part of living in HB was utilizing my beach cruiser! If you live in HB you must own one! :-) Huntington is great for people watching too. Crazies!!
So if you are in Orange County, you must check out the beaches. Even if you just do a drive by. Have a nice casual Southern California day!
**Check out Newport Harbor Tours to see where your favorite celebrities live and hang out. Some celebrities you will hear about are: John Wayne, Dennis Rodman, Dean Koontz, Jean Claude Van Damme, Michelle Pfeiffer, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Shirley Temple, Bette Midler and more! Check out their website!

Movies to See:
Beaches of course!!! ha ha.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Online Travel Tip

Hi Travel Peeps!

Just thought I'd share a website I use to check flight prices when I'm researching a trip. I use . You just load your dates and destinations and it searches direct airlines and a bunch of discount websites such as Priceline, Expedia, Cheap Tickets, etc. When it's done searching, you end up seeing all of the available flight options. This lets you know which website offers the cheapest rate. Once you've selected the flight you want, just click on the one you would like to book and it takes you directly to the website offering that rate. You are not purchasing your tickets through Kayak. Kayak is just your "search engine".

I absolutely love this site. It's so much easier and faster than my previous ways of searching. Me, being the careful shopper, used to check all of the different websites on my own. This just makes it so much easier.

Sometimes when you select your dates, you will notice a pop up calender on the right which shows the cheapest dates to travel to your destination within your travel month. This helps if you are flexible on your dates.

Try it out and let me know how you like it!

Good Night Globe Trotters!!

Madame Tussauds- London

Madame Tussauds- London, England

A fun place to see if you have some extra time in London is Madame Tussauds wax museum. Entrance is about 25 pounds but the museum is so much fun. I thought it was quite worth it. So did my friends. I could barely drag them out of it to see the rest of the London sites! :-)

Madame Tussauds also have locations in Las Vegas, Washington DC, NYC, etc. I have been to the Vegas one and that one is smaller but still really fun.

Each Madame Tussauds location has different sports, political, musical, television and movie celebrities. The fun thing about this wax museum is that you get to pose with them and take as many pictures you want. You can be "interviewed" by Oprah, hug Brad Pitt, stare into George Clooney's eyes, etc. You will see a few examples below. :-)

They also have tv's showing how they make the wax figures. When they have the celebrity there, every inch of their body is measured, perfect eyes are matched, hair is matched, etc. So much detail is involved in one of these. It really is amazing.

So if you ever see a Madame Tussauds and have some extra time, definitely check it out!!
Getting There by Tube:
2 Minute walk from the Baker Street underground station.
**Tip: You can get discount tickets if you purchase your tickets online.


Check out some of my fun pics:
Me & William. I know, he's super tall!! (i'm not short!)

Running from Harrison Ford! (& charlie chaplin....& someone wearing feathers)

Saved the best for last.....
Me & George! <3>

Check out some of my previous London blogs:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Where I'm NOT Going...

In my last post, I told you I might be going on a trip soon. Well, I have good news and bad news. The trip I was talking about did not work out. This was the trip:

3 Nights, 4 Days in CHICAGO!!!!!
$230 airfare
Sweet discount at a Marriott in Downtown
and a Cubs game at Wrigley Field!!!!!
All on my 30th birthday weekend.

Sounds amazing, right??


The problem was not me but my friends!! :-) Either they had another trip planned and couldn't spend the extra money, just got an internship and couldn't get off work, can't take a vacation the same time as me since we have to cover each other's vacations, used all of their time off for other reasons or have another trip too close to this one, etc. So I am very bummed and totally in denial that it's not happening. I can't seem to cancel my room reservations. It was such a good deal.

Now for the good news. There may be a bigger trip coming up to take the place of this one! I can't give you more details yet because I don't have them. I'm still in the research stage. Checking out costs of flights, hotels, etc. I don't even have a set destination yet. Just researching to see the best deal.

Speaking of deals....where are the deals?? I thought since we were having a budget/economic crisis, there were supposed to be better deals on flights? Where are they? I don't see them. Very disappointed.

To hold you over until I get actual travel plans......I have some updated garden pics. Especially for my cousin Nina In Freiburg. Who also loves to garden and randomly we like the same types of vegetable plants. :-)

Tomato Plant #1. This is the smaller plant but has huge tomatos on it. Can't wait to start seeing it turn red.

Bell Peppers are getting big!

New bell peppers are starting to grow.

Tomato plant #2- The big one. Had tons of flowers and now they are turning into tons of tomatos! Finally!!

Up close you can see some of the tomatos. Not quite sure how big these ones are supposed to get though.

My Cypress Tree. He's kinda puny but I still love him.

My kitchen basil plant. He's cute too.

Ciao for now World Travelers....