Category Archives: Travel

South Africa Planning

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I’m super excited to announce that I’ve booked a quick trip to South Africa in March!! Of course I’ll be updating you all with photos and videos as often as I can! This is where you come in…I’m looking for things to do, places to see, rugby matches to watch (any age), safari groups to travel with, restaurants to eat at, etc! I will be based out of Johannesburg, and it does not look like I’ll be making it down to Cape Town this trip. If you have a friend who may be able to lend some advice, please have them contact me! Feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email. Perhaps we can even meet up if you’re a Joberg native!

I can’t want to hear from you!

Snow…in Orange County?!

Who would’ve thought Orange County would have snow? And just a couple miles from the beach, too?! The nearest snow spot is more than an hour away and involves driving through mountains, which is frightening to the inexperienced, a.k.a. me. I’ve only seen it snowing once in my life during a trip to London in 2009 and snow on the ground once or twice. Needless to say, I’m no snow expert!

I woke up New Years Eve not expecting to do much during the day, but when I heard the extremely cold weather had brought snow just thirty minutes from my house, I had no choice but to pack up the Jeep, throw on my Hunter boots, and head to Trabuco Canyon.

What should have been a thirty minute drive ended up being an hour due to the bumper-to-bumper traffic through the neighborhoods in Trabuco. Clearly everyone was heading to the mountains to experience snow! However, seeing everyone’s excitement was worth it. Nothing says California like playing in the snow on a boogie board, right?

 

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I don’t know how long it will be until Orange County has snow again, so we sure soaked it up!

Dockside Boat & Bed: Sea You There!

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.”

 

 

After several crazy months filled with endless deadlines, reports, and events, it was time to step away and refresh. It’s so important to remember to breathe!. J and I decided to book a night to one of our favorite places, Dockside Boat & Bed, for the third time. I rarely stay at hotels more than once, so us staying in this wonderful “hotel” for the third time should be a strong indication of how in love we are with the area, the boats, and the overall experience!

Dockside’s six yachts are nestled in the heart of Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach, and are just four minutes walking from Shoreline Village, across the bay from the famous Queen Mary, and across from the Long Beach Pike. Talk about “location, location, location.” Prices to stay in these docked luxury yachts are higher than typical hotel rooms, which is to be expected. They start at approximately $200+ night for the smaller yachts, and increase depending on the boat’s amenities and rooms. Indecent Proposal, which we stayed on, starts at $275 night and changes depending on season and the day of the week. I can’t stress how important it is to join their mailing list; they send out some unbelievable deals that can take quite the chunk off your fees.

These fully-equipped yachts are perfect for entertaining small groups, soaking in the ocean, and relaxing in comfort. All boats come with one or two rooms and bathrooms, a refrigerator/freezer, televisions, cooking utensils, radios, and more. If you bring your own food, there’s absolutely no reason to leave the yacht. But there’s no need to bring breakfast: a continental breakfast is included in the price and delivered for you to enjoy in the morning!

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The view from Indecent Proposal’s patio to the dock.

 

We have been fans of Dockside for several years now and have never had anything less than a stellar experience.  We’re always given a reminder call the night before check-in and asked if there are any ways they can make our stay more comfortable. We stayed in Ranita and Sea Peepers before, and since we make it a point to stay in different boats each time, we chose Indecent Proposal.

The moment we stepped on the dock, Molly was ready to help us settle in and gave us a thorough tour of the yacht, letting us know where everything from the toilet paper to the light switches were located. After we moved our car to the designated parking area and were ready to make ourselves at home. Side note: I suggest paying the $10 to park about ten minutes away if you are able to walk. It’s a fun walk past some beautiful boats and gives you a bit of exercise, too! If you plan to leave your boat multiple times or have difficulty walk, then pay $24/night for P.F. Chang’s valet.

Indecent Proposal was stunning inside. It had a massive eating/entertaining area with a modern television and radio, a fully-stocked kitchen with a coffee pot, microwave, and good-sized refrigerator, a small bedroom with bunk beds that could easily fit three adults, a small bathroom, a master bedroom with a massive bed and older television, and a bathroom/shower combination. Remember, you’re on a boat, so don’t expect a working stove or large bathrooms. I apologize for not getting any photos of the inside…I’ll have to do that next time!

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Why, hello, handsome man on my boat!

 

We were quite hungry and since we didn’t follow our normal tip of bringing enough food, we decided to take the four minute walk to Shoreline Village. It was quite brisk, which put me in the holiday spirit.  The sun was beginning to set which made the view all the more perfect. We stopped by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory to split an apple, foolishly paid $5 for a small piece of pita bread and a tiny hummus container, and tried some new hot sauces out. There are some Mom & Pop stores, ice cream stores, overpriced bakeries, a Yard House, and more.

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Our gorgeous panorama view at Shoreline Village.

 

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Merry Grinchmas from Shoreline Village!

 

After heading back to the boat, we decided to throw some BBQ chicken and veggies on the dock’s grill. I didn’t want to spend too much time away from the yacht; after all, the whole point of a vacation is to relax. Think of it as a “staycation”, but in someone else’s home.

It’s become a tradition of ours to sit out on the boat after dinner and late at night. We bundle up in scarves, beanies, blankets, and boots–we are from California, after all–and sprawl out. The Queen Mary’s smokestacks are decorated in lights that resemble diamonds and  “Christmas trees” floated in the water, setting the perfect holiday mood. We started out on the bow of the boat, from where we are fairly certain we saw two dolphins. After it got too cold, we headed to the enclosed patio of the boat.  We fell asleep with full stomachs and even fuller hearts.

After waking up, we decided to sit out for our meal. The only thing I’d change about our boat would be for the “entertaining area” and back patio to be facing the water instead of the dock. I loved the privacy of Ranita and Sea Peepers, but fear not, the lack of a private patio wasn’t a deal breaker.

I woke up in the morning to a noise on top of my boat; I kid you not, I thought someone was breaking in. We ran upstairs and found that it was a seagull attacking a clam. False alarm, people, false alarm! Breakfast was delivered to us the night before in an adorable basket; it’s a simple continental breakfast comprising of a bagel, muffin, two yogurts, orange juice, fruits, and some spread. I used the coffee maker on board to make a coffee and soaked up the morning vibes. Nothing beats waking up and seeing the Queen Mary in all its glory while boats go by.

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Talk about the perfect morning view.

Checkout was at a reasonable 11a.m., which meant we wouldn’t have to rush too much getting out. I always get a bit sad when we have to leave, but I know in my heart we’ll be back again.I’ve never had the time to stay more than one night at Dockside, but I know I will soon. I can’t explain to you how wonderful the whole experience is. From the wonderful staff, to the fully-equipped beautiful boats, to the breathtaking location, Dockside truly has it all, and more!

 

Orange International Street Fair

Nothing screams summertime quite like a fair. While I’m not a fan of being outside in the scorching heat, good food and drinks is usually enough to coax me out of my air conditioned bedroom. I headed down to the Orange International Street Fair for my first time this weekend. The annual event, which has been taking place for more than forty years, was the perfect mix of sweet aromas, fattening foods, and a wholesome international vibe.

The event takes over the historic downtown area of Orange Circle and includes “streets” that have designated countries on them. Countries ranged from Switzerland to Italy to Polynesia, which meant my stomach was thrilled to take part in the international eating. As a world traveler, one of my favorite parts of experiencing a new culture is eating their specific cuisine.

While the higher-than-normal prices were to be expected, I felt that I was able to enjoy a wide variety of cultural foods that I would not have tried otherwise. We came with empty stomachs because we knew we would be sampling so many foods. And by “sampling”, I mean devouring totally normal portions. And by “normal”, I mean…well…yeah.

It was 90 degrees around 10:30 AM…thanks California. The crowds were still trickling in, which is a good thing, because I’ve heard the fair can get uncomfortably crowded as the day goes on. I had heard great things (i.e. the lines were wrapped around the booth) about the gyros at the Greece booth, so we headed there first. J had a gyro, while I opted for a chicken soulvaki as I don’t eat beef or lamb. The bread was to die for and the tzatzkis sauce helped bring out the chicken’s flavor without overpowering it. ($6 each)

Greek food! Under The Sticks

 

We then headed over to the Danish booth, where we split three Danish donuts. They were crispy on the outside and had nice, moist batter inside. The powdered sugar on top sealed the deal! (3/$4)

 

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By this time I was almost ready to go home, jump in cold water, and never come out to see the sun again. Almost. Luckily, my love for food overpowered my hate for the extreme heat and we carried on with our cultural journey. We decided to cool off  and share a Mexican ice treat. I loved how thin it was. The mango was good, but I would have loved a bit more flavor. I wasn’t surprised that it was artificial flavoring. You win some, you lose some. It was still a good sweet treat.

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After that, we walked around the commercial booths for a bit. I practiced self control and didn’t purchase anything. Weee! :) We sat down for a bit to cool off.

 

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We then decided it was time for a strawberry lemonade. What good is the fair without one? I wish it was filled with less ice. The entire cup was done with a few sips each. ($6)

Strawberry Lemonade UnderTheSticks.Net

 

Based off of what I’ve heard, it’s a good thing we showed up early. There were no issues with security or safety while I was there and the volunteers seemed to work cohesively and were knowledgeable about the happenings, which is always great. However, I’ve seen pictures and video clips from the event and it’s easy to say the best time to bring your children is in the early morning or afternoon. Avoid the drunk crowds (and heat) and knock it out of the ball park early in the morning.

Although I wasn’t able to take any international trips this summer, my stomach did! The fair will be back next year, starting September 4th. I’ll be sure to come with plenty of sunscreen, light clothing, and a huge appetite.

What’s your favorite thing about summer fairs?

Summer at the Beach

I take many things for granted in life. One of those things is the great weather we have here in Southern California. I find myself at home on days I should be soaking up the rays. I have sensitive skin, so as long as I lather on my sunscreen, I’m good to go!

I headed down to the beach, because, quite frankly, it was too beautiful not to go. I stopped at Sprout’s to gather some goodies (muffins, mango juice, and pretzels) and was on my way.

J and I have a special beach that we go to a lot. It’s quiet, secluded, and a taste of paradise. In fact, I rarely tell people about it because I don’t want the secret getting out. Shhhh.

The weather was absolutely perfect and the water was so refreshing. Although the traffic wasn’t enjoyable, the trip made it worth it!

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One day I’ll own a house on the beach, you just wait and see!

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Arizona Road Trip

Reposted from January 2014:

One of my best friends, Gina, and her boyfriend, Eric, moved to Arizona a couple months ago. Gina is my other best friend, Maddy’s, cousin, which makes things quite convenient for family gatherings! Gina and Eric were set to move into their new place over the weekend, so J and I decided to make a road trip out of our first off weekend and headed out to Scottsdale, Arizona. I was especially excited to have some time to relax with my favorite people and to visit Arizona for the first time.
Road trips can be great, or a drag. It’s all about preparing for comfort and making the best out of the time you have. The furthest I’ve ever driven by myself is a measly two hours, so luckily I had my travel companion for the 6 hour road trip. It’s easy to pack unhealthy snacks on road trips-chips, candies, and chocolates are easy to eat and conveniently packaged. However, with a bit of planning, it’s easy to make smart, healthy choices with the foods you take. J and I packed about three small coolers of food and drinks to take with us for the trip there, some lunches in Arizona, and the trip back. I will post a blog about healthy road trip snacking, soon, so stay tuned!
J and I inevitably got caught to Friday night traffic as the freeway links up to Las Vegas. We couldn’t leave until we were both done with work, but there was no choice but to drive out Friday. J brought Chipotle for dinner and we packed enough snacks that we only needed to stop for gas/stretch breaks twice. After a long, seven hour drive, we ended up getting to Scottsdale around 2A.M. It was so great to see Eric and Gina again, but we hit the hay as soon as we got there!
We went ‘sight seeing’ around Scottsdale and helped Gina and Eric move into their new (adorable!) place. I seem to keep other people’s spaces tidier than my own and find that unpacking and organizing their belongings is much more fun than doing it for myself! Gina headed the production of delicious chicken and avocado enchiladas for dinner! I will have to beg her for that recipe. ;) After dinner, we somehow convinced our boyfriends to do our makeup. Although I’m not a makeup user, it was fun to see the boys try to figure out how to use mascara, blush, lipstick, etc. Needless to say, looking like a geisha just doesn’t suit me. I’ll stick to au naturale!
Sunday evening was spent on the lake. It was beautiful, relaxing, and the time with my best friends was much needed.

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The weather was absolutely perfect on the lake. Thank you, Eric, for being such a great fishing teacher!
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  The drive back home was much quicker, of course, due to the fact that we left Monday morning. I made it back in time for the first rugby practice of the season and right after that was improv practice. I’m so glad I was able to refuel this weekend with the greatest of company. Although I probably won’t drive to Arizona during the summer, we already have plans to fly back and visit! And next time, I promise to take more pictures! : )