Sunday, August 30, 2009

Weekend Getaways: Manhattan Beach

Weekend Getaways: Manhattan Beach!

Two birthdays to celebrate this weekend, so we headed up to Manhattan Beach. We left straight after work and headed up to Los Angeles. It was a very relaxing weekend. Relaxed by the pool, homemade mimosas, a wonderful dinner and the Observatory.


The Dinner:
2 people had recommended C&O Cucina located in Marina Del Rey. Very crowded with locals. It was small inside but they also had a huge patio area. We didn't get there until around 9pm. There were tons of people waiting. We thought the wait would be over an hour. However, they move super quickly and we only had to wait about 10-15 minutes. We sat on the patio which was awesome. They serve you free garlic knots that are to die for. Our server warned us they were like crack and very addicting. They were. The food came out very quickly. They also passed out copies of lyrics to That's Amore. When the song comes on, the servers sing along (so do the guests) and clink glasses with the restaurant go-ers. Very fun atmosphere. I definitely recommend it!

Griffith Park Observatory:
We drove up there at night and enjoyed the night views of Los Angeles. We missed the last Planetarium show of the night so we ended up coming back the next day to see the show. I've never been during the day and the building is just so beautiful. Glad we came back!

View of the Hollywood sign from the Observatory.

All in all, it was a nice relaxing weekend. I didn't spend a lot of cash either. I took out money and did not put anything on my card. I even came in under budget. Came home with $10! Woo hoo!

Happy Monday Travel Peeps!!

Summer in Orange County

Summer in Orange County.

Location: Balboa Peninsula.

We had a visitor to our BBQ. :-)

International Letters

My parents had a garage sale last weekend. Hanging out in the garage for a while, was getting boring so I started going through an old box of my stuff. I found lots of "gems" in there. My old tap shoes (which of course, I put on and tapped my heart out), my Cabbage Patch Kids, some old school work and awards, all my Girl Scout patches from back in the day, etc. I also came across a TON of old letters. You see, in my Freshman year of High School, my French teacher had a program where you can sign up for a pen pal from another country. Well, of course, the intent was for us to get a French pen pal so we could practice our French. So what did I do?? I signed up for an Australian pen pal instead! Then a Malaysian one. And an Italian one! haha. Most of the letters were from them.

I also found some letters from my cousin Nina from the Netherlands. We had never met at the time. Her grandma (oma) and my grandpa (opa) were brother and sister. So my dad and her mom are first cousins which makes us second cousins. So our grandparents set us up to write to each other since we were the same age. We wrote for years and then after High School, Nina and her family came to visit us in California and we were able to meet. It was so funny to my parents when I knew that Nina liked pizza or that she LOVES ice cream. They kept forgetting that we had been writing for about 4 years by then. A few years later, Nina and her friend again visited California and this time stayed with me in my 1st apartment. We even went to Vegas! :-) Fun times. We still write, however now it's emails and reading each other's blogs. :-) Oh how times have changed.

My other Favorite pen pal has been my Australian pen pal, Alicia. I've also been writing her since my freshman year. Which means we've been writing for about 16 years!! Wow, just doing the math right now makes me feel OLD! We immediately hit it off when we started writing. We had a lot in common and we were both sooo excited to be receiving international mail! In one of the letters, she mentioned how she really wanted a pen pal from California, but you could only check the box for USA. You couldn't pick a state. So she had been hoping she would get one from CA. And she got it!!! haha. We sent each other pictures, magazine clippings, mixed tapes (yes, i said tapes. not cd's yet!), videos, samples of our money, etc. It was awesome! She also sent me tons of pictures of my first crush.... Dean Cain. All of her magazines had these poster pictures of him which she gladly sent to me and I then wallpapered my room with them. Through the years, things changed. We started making mixed CD's instead of tapes. We started emailing instead of writing letters. Eventually we created Facebook pages to be able to see each other's pictures.

I was able to visit her in Australia about 6 years ago. Wow, can't believe it's been that long ago already. I flew from LA to Sydney. I did work at Marriott back then as well. So I stayed at a Marriott downtown. I had the first night to my self in Sydney. I had a feeling I would need the rest because of the jet lag. So, she met me at the hotel the next day. It was CRAZY to meet her. We had been writing for years, but had never met. However, it seemed like we were just old friends that hadn't seen each other in a while. We hung out in Sydney for 2 more nights. We went to Taronga Zoo which has an amazing view of the harbor and Sydney. We checked out views of the Syndey Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Went to The Rocks and a few market places where I was able to get my Aussie souvineers. (pronounced Ozzy....not Ossie!)

Her boyfriend came to pick us up in Sydney and drove us to their apartment in Wollongong, NSW. Wollongong is about 1 1/2 hours south of Sydney. They showed me around their house and then we went to her parents house. It was crazy because I've seen tons of pictures of the house so I felt immediately connected to it. I absolutely loved her family. Her parents, Cheryl and Phil. Her brother and his girlfriend, Adam and Debbie. And of course, her boyfriend, Matt. her mom made us an amazing dinner one night and the other night we all went out to their traditional Sunday night family dinner spot. It was actually more of a "club". A sports club. It's called Collegians Rugby League Football Club. It reminded me of something between a casino and a pizza parlor. They had a few different food options where you get your food and bring it to whichever table you want. They had games, kino, bingo and of course, TV's for sporting games. I wanted to go to a place where they always go so I could feel like a local. Their dad suggested the club and everyone sighed and groaned complaining that they always go there. So of course I said...."Well then that's where I want to go!". It was tons of fun.

Then the "kids" all hung out in the family room back at their house watching the American Video Movie Awards and talked about everything. I felt like I really should have studied before I came to Australia. They were all very interested in asking tons of questions. It was really fun.

Her dad also gave us a nice tour of Wollongong. It was a great trip and I wish I could go back and visit again. I would especially like to meet the new member of her family, Mia. Her daughter! Her and Matt have since gotten married and just had their first little girl!

I just can't believe how long we've been writing. Lots of good memories from all those letters I found. I'm so glad I kept them. Nothing like some old "snail mail"! I think it's a lost art and we should all send a letter now and then. Instead of an email. Email is amazing and instant. But snail mail lasts forever! haha.

Had to throw in the tap shoes picture!

Happy Travels travel peeps!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Carnival of Cities

Hey Travel Peeps!

I was featured on a cool Carnival of Cities blog. Basically it features a ton of different travel blog entries that are dedicated to specific cities around the world. One of my New York/New England posts is featured. I even found a few new travel blogs to follow. :-)

Check it out!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekends Ahead

As my good "friend" Kelly Clarkson would say..... "I'm Ready Now!"

Ready for what?? For my 2 upcoming weekend trips of course! This weekend I'll be celebrating 2 of my good friends' birthdays in Manhattan Beach and next weekend is my Labor Day DC trip! I'm so excited.

Currently I'm concentrating on Manhattan Beach as it's coming up this weekend. I have picked out a dinner place which I cannot disclose at this time for the off chance that my roommate (who is one of the birthday girls!) may read this post. I also have a nice bottle of champagne which I received as a 30th birthday present to me from said roommate. Roommate had a free 2 night stay for the Manhattan Beach Marriott Hotel which she won from a work raffle. My ex-roommate's ex boyfriend also works there and he is going to take care of our parking charges and possibly get us an upgrade. Which we totally did not ask for but are sooooo excited about!! I will let you know what we end up doing on our little weekend trip. week I will concentrate on the DC trip coming up next Friday! We will be making a Target trip sometime next week for the last minute necessities. We also decided that a great way to save money will be to bring breakfast bars/snacks so we won't have to go out to breakfasts. This will save us 3 meals! Once we are there, I will pick up some sort of fruit from a market. Fruit is something I crave while on vacation. Maybe it's all the walking or maybe it's the lack of fruit in the meals eaten on vacation. All I know is I always want APPLES!!! haha. Oh and of course WATER! Always have to make sure you buy water before you head back to your hotel for the night. The worst thing is when you end up having to drink the bottle of water the hotel has provided and then seeing the $5 charge on your bill! Fail Whale!!

Ok kids.... enough of this random post. I just wanted to let you know that fun things are coming. In fact....I think I shall make a DC playlist for my Zune. I'll let you know how that goes. All of these pre-planning rituals make the wait a little more bearable. :-)

A bientôt Travel Peeps!!
translation: See you soon!

Travel Girl gets her last minute travel necessities from:

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Room With A View

I think one of the first things I do when I get to a hotel room is to check out the view. Sometimes I'm disappointed and sometimes I get views like this.....

The first one was my very first trip to New York City. Can you believe that view of Times Square?! We were sooooo excited! We stayed at the Marriott Marquis Hotel.

This next view is from my hotel in Paris. Hotel Eden Montmartre. How gorgeous is that!

Makes me feel very lucky that I've had the opportunity to check out these cities and had such great experiences.

Anyone else have any "rooms with a view"??

Bonne nuit, travel peeps! (Good night)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Countdown begins!

1 Month until DC!!!!!

I'm getting excited!!!!!

It's about time I start researching where I want to go while there. I bought a book and have a list of suggestions from some friends.

Can not wait to be in the airport. Airports mean fun times are ahead.

Speaking of airports.....I'm driving my friend to LAX tomorrow in RUSH HOUR!! WTF! Bad planning on her end. haha. Actually, you don't have much choice when you are flying to Berlin. Not many flights to choose from. Her trip will consist of Berlin, Prague and Vienna! Can't wait to hear all about it and see the pictures. I will be living vicariously through her on this one.

Ok, Happy Sunday world travelers!