Passport to Paris

UGH the jet lag is real…. I think it’s finally starting to set in as I’m writing this! This past week I had an incredible opportunity to travel to Paris for a long weekend getaway. Now that I’m back I’m trying to do everything I can to get back to a functional routine and writing this post seems like the perfect way to start! 

This entire trip starts with a tremendous story. One night, shortly after Thanksgiving, I received a text from a good friend of mine in LA saying she found round trip tickets to Paris for quite literally an unbelievable price (round trip from LAX for less than $400, cheaper than a flight home to Iowa!) My friend then proceeded to ask, “Who wants to go with?” Being that the trip would only be a few weeks away and having to hastily decide in order to take advantage of flight prices made me both incredibly nervous and extremely tempted. I began to think my way through the logical steps.  First, check the bank account and then check the amount of PTO I’ve acquired. Next, I make a phone call to my mom fully expecting her to be the practical one and reel my crazy thoughts back in (as one does when they call their mom in moments like this.) However, much to my surprise that wasn’t her response at all. It was actually something along the lines of When are you going to have this opportunity again?”  So true… 

Hearing her say that, I knew my mind was already made up! So, I went home and booked a round trip ticket–there was no turning back! A few days later 6 women in total (many of us having never met before) had booked their tickets and started planning the trip of a lifetime! 

First night in Paris at the Eiffel Tower

Many people I’ve talked to have said they only spent a few days in Paris and that that was enough. After having been now, I can attest to that! We arrived in Paris late Thursday afternoon and left Tuesday afternoon arriving back in LAX Tuesday evening. (Time changes will always be confusing.) Four and a half days was perfect in my opinion! It was enough time to see the city and cross majority of the things off my list without feeling too rushed. By the end, I was exhausted and ready to return home. 

Next we had to find a place to stay! After looking into hotels, hostels and Air BnBs, considering there was six of us, Air BnB seemed like the best option! Paris is divided into different districts and with help from a friend of a friend going on the trip, we had the best insight into the perfect locations. We ended up staying in 2, from which everything was perfectly walkable. Contrary to popular believe, the Eiffel Tower is actually not centrally located so when planning your trip, you may consider staying in a more central neighborhood like we did. My favorite thing about Paris is how easy it is to get around. Whether you want to walk, take the subway, or Uber, all options are readily available and easy to navigate even if you don’t speak any French! 

Like most major European cities, I’ve noticed so far, you can get by with only speaking English. However, it’s always important to me to at least try and speak the language when interacting in public at a restaurant for example No matter where you’re traveling to, I challenge you to at least prepare a few words such as…

  • Hello
  • Goodbye
  • Yes/No
  • Thank you 
  • Sorry
  • Excuse me
  • Bathroom 
  • Check/Bill

I attempted to learn a little French before I left using a free app called Duo Lingo! Although it was helpful to learn some phrases, it’s important to practice consistently in order to retain any of it… I wasn’t very diligent and realized all I could remember was how to say “cat” and needless to say, that didn’t come up in conversation very often.

When I travel, I’m just as much about seeing all the sights and main tourist attractions as I am about finding happy accidents and things off the beaten path. One of my favorite ways to get acquainted with a new city though, is to take a hop on/hop off bus tour. It’s an affordable way to make it to all the main attractions in a city in a short amount of time. It also always helps me to get the lay of the land and realize where things are at in relation to another and not to mention its essentially “free” transportation that you would have paid for to get around anyway! Tours like this are offered in most major cities in the US and Europe. My favorite has always been City Sightseeing or Big Bus tours! We got a two-day pass that included two different bus routes as well as a river boat tour. 

My favorite path less traveled spots included the covered passageways that have been transformed into little shops and restraunts. I also fell in love with the small vendor booths known as Riverside Bouquinistes, that line the river around Notre Dame and contain collections of old prints and books as well as other trinkets and paper goods.

Paris being the city of love was the perfect place to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Although not with our loved ones and out on a girl’s trip, we still made sure to celebrate. We went to an amazing restaurant, Matignon (located in 8, an area equivalent to Rodeo Drive or the Upper East Side). It was surely a group date even the Bachelor would have approved of! Afterwards we hit the town for a night out and wound up at a Spanish inspired spot complete with Latin music and dancing. The whole night scene was lively with places that stay open all hours of the night. There was a lot of influence from other cultures depending on the bar, so there’s no reason to not come across an Irish Pub that feels too close to home or a place that feels so foreign you don’t know where to start! 

Arguably the best part of traveling has to be trying all the food! Part of the fun of it for me is ordering but not always knowing what you’re going to get! France is no exception! The bread is outstanding, the desserts are worth every bite, the onion soup is unbelievable… but my favorite French cuisine has to be steak and pommes frites (French Fries) What an unexpected pair but man is it good. 

On our last night I treated myself out to a restaurant that came highly recommended, le Relais de l’Entrecote. Not only is it delicious but it’s a genius business idea, really! It’s a beautiful, higher end restaurant that you’ll most likely have a wait to get seated (but it’s totally worth it.) Once you sit down you can order a drink but there’s really no menu. The entire place only serves one thing- steak and frites. I got a wonderful glass of red wine and was then treated to a side salad and baguette while I waited for the main course. The waitress then brings the steak and fries from the kitchen, takes them over to a serving station and then prepares the plate for you. (I sat right next to her station, so I got a first-row seat at how it’s done.) She brings you ½ your steak covered in a sauce that’s a cross between au jus and a very subtle pesto along with an order of fries. Meanwhile the other ½ of your steak is covered and resting on a heated tray and when you’re ready she’ll bring a fresh order of fries straight from the kitchen and the other ½ of your steak… two meals for the price of one! Then if you’re really looking for the whole experience, you can select from the extensive and incredible dessert menu (which I couldn’t read a single thing.) I let the waitress pick for me and wound up getting the most incredible two-part chocolate cake (one half is like a brownie and the other a fudgy, very rich flourless cake topped with mint whipped cream.) I left there having never felt so full and got all that for $40 dollars. 

Getting the money shot with your 7 euro cappuccino… priceless

That being said… Paris was actually way more expensive than I thought especially compared to other places like Rome. A double espresso shot would be 5 euros when I could have just got a Starbucks cappuccino at home for cheaper… still it seemed worth it. Overall, it was very comparable to the prices we pay in LA (very expensive to drink cocktails and dinner is typically in the $25-$35-dollar range.)

 Something else that reminds me of LA, the traffic. Although it’s not as densely populated with cars, 15 miles can take you an hour to drive. For example, I always thought Versailles was much further away but when we looked it up, it was only about 15 miles from where we were staying but it’d take over an hour to get there by car. We ended up taking the train all the way there and it couldn’t have been easier! 45 minutes and $3 later we found ourselves standing outside the Palace of Versailles, one of the places I’ve always dreamed about visiting since studying it in Art History classes in college. This was my favorite place we went to during our trip! The palace itself was a little underwhelming but the palace grounds were spectacular, even during off season. I loooooved visiting the Estate of Trianon (something I didn’t even know existed) and I’m now convinced my dream house will resemble Marie Antoinette’s Queen’s Hamlet. You could spend days walking through these parks and still never see it all and if your feet are too tired to go on you can always rent a bike or golf cart to zip around! I would love to go back sometime in the late spring, early summer and see everything in bloom and fully landscaped!

Overall, I’m so glad pulled the trigger and went. It taught me that not everything in life has to be planned and well thought out.  Sometimes just taking a risk can pay off in ways you never even dreamed of. Seeing the world, experiencing history firsthand and learning about other cultures makes traveling so worth it and so important to me. I hope everyone has a chance to explore new places and see the things they’ve dreamed of in real life. 

Cross Country

Well the leaves are starting to change, the temperature is starting to drop (it may still be 79 degrees but that’s a drop) and that can only mean that Summer is coming to an end. Although the change in LA isn’t near as dramatic as Fall back home in Iowa, it still brings a new energy that I find inspiring and fuels me to start something new. In preparation for that change, I have one final chapter to my Summer Scroll Through and the granddaddy story of them all Emory and I’s big cross country adventure. 

When it comes to traveling, I must admit I’m one who prefers to jump on a plane and be at my destination in a fraction of the time.  However, a cross country road trip adventure has always just sounded so romantic and exciting. Emory is not stranger from driving from Iowa to LA usually making the trip all on his own.  I knew I couldn’t make him drive back again by himself. Plus, I had never really seen much of what’s between California and Iowa. Both of these factors inspired me to tag along for the ride, but I had a few ground rules of course! 

  1. I wasn’t willing to sleep in the car (Air BnB please!)
  2. I didn’t want to drive straight there. 

So, we decided to make a vacation out of it—five and a half days’ worth of driving and exploring from Los Angeles to Iowa. Knowing we would be traveling in the middle of August (the hottest month) we decided to forego Emory’s typical route through all the National Parks and head North then cut over.

Half Day: 

We left after work and headed up the coast towards the Bay Area. We decided to take the scenic route (about 7 hours) and drive up the coast and the PCH and recreate our earlier Summer adventure. The drive was beautiful as always and traffic could have been a lot worse. Taking this route did add and additional 1-2 hours than the inland trip would have but we would argue it was worth it. If you find yourself making the drive DON’T stop for gas in Santa Barbra (take our word for it) and DO stop for food in San Luis Obispo (we stopped at Mo’s Barbecue this time.) We finally got to San Francisco late and completely exhausted. We stayed in a boutique hotel we rented via Air BNB called The Bartlett. It was super cute and trendy, however not the cleanest nor friendliest staff. All things considered though when you take into account, we were staying in one of the most expensive cities, we weren’t complaining. 

Day One: 

We headed out about 9:00 am the next morning on a journey to squeeze as much of San Francisco in in a day as we could. Emory had already been, but it was my first time. We headed down to Fisherman’s Warf and grabbed beignets and cappuccinos for breakfast at Frankie’s at Pier 43. Oh my goodness though, people were eating fish and chips that early in the morning, but it actually looked and smelled incredible. So much in fact we went back to Frankie’s for lunch! Not only was it affordable but they claim to have the best fish and they’re right. I have a feeling this place will be a staple anytime I find myself in SF! 

After breakfast we caught a street performer act and walked through the Musse Mecanique, the antique penny arcade. Grandma predicted my fortune, we walked down Pier 39, got a great view of Alcatraz (which I didn’t realize was so close by the way) as well as a great view looking back at the city. After watching the seals, we decided it was time to go find the main attraction, the Golden Gate Bridge, at Crissy Field. 

Immediately as we got close to the bridge the most perfect sunny day transitioned to foggy, misty, and overcast like magic! We pulled over, snapped a few pictures and continued on our way.  Before leaving the bay area, we checked out Muir Woods, which was even foggier and cloudier! After a close run in with poison oak we decided we didn’t have time for a hike and instead just enjoyed the view. Look what we found?! Another Hawkeye fan with a Subaru… What are the chances?!

Back in the car for the next leg of the journey! We left around 3:30 in the afternoon driving from Muir Woods to Lake Tahoe.  Four hours’ drive through winding mountains, an incredibly bad traffic jam at the worst placed stoplight, and a pit stop at the Eldorado National Forest later and we arrived at our second destination, Lake Tahoe.  

Day 2:

Finally, a day with no driving and a chance to relax. Funny and sad how excited I was to just enjoy a day with no driving considering all the driving we had done thus far hadn’t gotten us any closer to our final destination. We were also excited because neither of us had been to Lake Tahoe. We started our day where any adventure tends to begin, Starbucks. I must admit though, it was more out of necessity for wifi access than anything! Next we started driving around the lake and made our way to the Eagle Falls trailhead. FYI there’s a Lower Falls (that is right off the road and no hike required) and the upper falls. It’s a very mellow and short hike to the upper falls but then the keeps going for a great look out of Emerald Bay and eventually opens to a beautiful lake view. 

After the hike we had a picnic lunch at the Camp Richardson General Store and a scoop of sorbet at the Ice Cream shop! I felt like we had traveled back in time to summer camp in Parent Trap or Wet Hot American Summer

After freshening up we had plans for a sunset boat cruise tour of Emerald Bay complete with wine tasting and a charcuterie board! We had an amazing time being out on a boat, watching the sun go down, and meeting another incredible young couple that were visiting from the Bay Area. After attempting to find real food on a Sunday night, we headed back to the apartment and rested up for a big day of driving. 

Day 3:

Back on the road and ready to make our way through the desert. Leaving Tahoe, we quickly drove through Reno, Nevada and then cut across the state to Utah (another 7-8-hour drive.) We took a much-needed detour and stopped at the Bonville Salt Flats. After a few attempts at some doughnuts in the Subaru, watching a U-Haul haul down the speedway, and tasting the salt it was back on the road again. Along the way I of course made us stop at the first Jimmy Johns I could find for lunch and before long we made it all the way to Salt Lake City.

Once we got to the cutest Air BnB I’ve ever seen we headed to downtown Salt Lake which was beautiful and incredibly charming. We walked around Temple Square and then scootered to The Green Pig Pub for dinner with a view of the of the city-county building. 

Day 4:

Although this would be the second longest day of driving on the whole trip—it was worth it to see some familiar faces. We started with breakfast at Earnie’s Sports Deli in Orem with a college friend before another 8-hour drive. We made a few stops off the side of the road like the site of an old mine explosion, to see the Colorado River at the No Name exit, and the Colorado Sign just to name a few! 

Being ahead of schedule we did decide to stop in Grand Junction, Colorado for lunch at Rockslide Brewery and to check out a few antique shops while we walked off our beer. Before long we made it to Denver! Finally! This leg of the road we were fortunate to get to stay with friends. The same friends I stayed with in July mentioned in my Destination Denver post. Now after two years of not seeing each other we were fortunate to see each other twice in less than two months! We went out for dinner at Blue Moon Brewery at which we ran into another friend unexpectedly AND had the most amazing beer flights and pickle burgers. Now, I’m not much of a beer person but with beer flavors like Mexican hot chocolate, cold brew coffee, and a mango wheat (which you can buy at stores and I highly recommend) how could you not enjoy them! 

Day 5: 

Sadly, it was time to leave and time to get home. Day five’s motto was all drive and no play because a ten-hour drive through mostly Nebraska is not something to get excited about. However, with home being the final destination it was enough to keep us moving forward. Emory was a champ at this point, doing most of the driving and soon enough we were back in our great state of Iowa. 

To wrap up one of the most amazing trips and 37 hours of being in a car, I had a weekend at home with my friends, family and love ones. As well as a chance to relax, golf, drive through Ledges State Park, and eat at Jimmy B’s of course (my favorite barbecue place EVER in Boone, Iowa.) 

The trip flew by and dragged on all at the same time but overall, I couldn’t be happier with the experience. It gave Emory and I a much-needed adventure before going back to long distance. It was filled with many firsts in cities that will always hold special memories. Most of all though, the trip couldn’t have happened without its primary sponsor, Dramamine. (Ok it wasn’t really sponsored by Dramamine, but it should have been because it’s seriously the only thing that kept me alive!!!) 

Now Summer is officially over and we’re headed into my favorite time of the year. This Fall I still have a few more goals to accomplish before a New Year’s deadline! I’ll also be very busy with some exciting projects at work and I’m looking forward to a girls’ get away trip, a visit from my parents, and ALL things Halloween. 

Stay Tuned! What are you most looking forward to this Fall? 

Birthday Bash

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This weekend has been one to remember and I can’t wait to share my festivities with you in this post! But first I would like to thank you all for all of your kind wishes this past week and weekend. I feel so fortunate to have such wonderful people in my life to celebrate with and I definitely felt the love this past week!

I’ve been thinking about Birthdays a lot lately (coincidence, I think not!) How some people love to celebrate and go all out while others prefer to keep it to themselves and enjoy their day in private—we all have different personalities!  I’ve also been thinking about how we sometimes look at it as being one more trip around the sun and a time to reflect on all our accomplishments in the past year. It’s also interesting to me how our personalities change and develop with time, but also how we sometimes rely on our age as being a standard to measure where our priorities should be focused and what goals we should work towards next.

Since graduating college, I’ve taken on the mentality that age is just a number. I look at the various friends I’ve surrounded myself with and although we’re all very different ages, we’re all in similar stages in our lives and that’s what brings us together rather than a number or “what grade we’re in.”  However even at 24 now, I’m still often one of the youngest when it comes to groups in LA. The youngest at work. The youngest in most of my friend groups. But being the youngest has been something that I’ve learned to cherish. When looking back at all the things I’ve accomplished during 23 there are a lot of milestones on that list and I’m so proud of myself that I accomplished those things sooner rather than later. There’s no time like the present to just go for it and get things done when you know they feel right. At the same time, I hope that I have plenty of time to look forward to.  There’s no perfect age to do things so from now on I’m just trying to live in the moment and try my best not to plan every step of the way.

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It’s no secret how much I love holidays and my day of birth is no exception. While it’s nice to feel extra special at one day out of the year and get a little extra attention, I most look forward to using my birthday as an excuse to get family and friends together (and maybe even throw a party or two!

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My Birthday celebrations started a week early when I went back to Iowa! My brother and I are 4 years and 1 day apart which always made for a bittersweet celebration growing up (bitter because he usually got to pick what dessert we were having and sweet because it was unique and we could celebrate together—which I’m sure made it easier on my parents too.) So, this year was no exception, we celebrated both of our Birthdays together with a family cook out! I also got to celebrate with Emory

 

Between traveling and having an already busy week and big weekend plans, I wanted to keep things a little more relaxed on my actual birthday! I decided I wanted to do something that I’ve thought about doing for years but always chickened out and made an excuse—more ear piercings! A girl friend and I made our way to Oak and Poppy (the coolest tattoo parlor I’ve ever seen and a place that also specializes in piercings.) I was not brave and was nervous as could be, but honestly it really wasn’t that bad. Also… did you know using a piercing gun are not the normal method and actually if you go somewhere that’s using one… there’s a greater chance for them to be messed up? Well me neither but now I know. They do not use gun here but do it all by hand which is honestly a relief considering the noise the gun makes was always the worst sound! Afterwards we met up with a few other friends and treated ourselves to some fancy desserts at Crave Café (easily one of my favorite casual restaurants I’ve been to in LA.) I got a chocolate brownie cheesecake… YUM!

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Saturday was the day for the big celebration! As I mentioned, I love coming up with different ways to bring people together and try new things and make memories! This year I wanted to come up with something that I could invite all my different friend groups to so that everyone could all have a chance to meet one another AND I wouldn’t have to pick and choose who I do with what. Also, as I get older, I certainly can’t handle going out quite like I did during my Iowa City days… I like to go to bed at a decent time now, I can’t drink that much without being hungover the next day… I sound so old already. BUT I still love an excuse to get all dressed up and I still enjoy night life energy of being out and about.

All these factors lead me to the idea to do a Classy Cocktail Crawl, like a bar crawl but classier. LA has sooo many bars, many of which are very cute and are designed to look good on your Instagram at any part of the day. Since many of us are always up for a crazy rowdy party— I thought it’d be better to start earlier and end earlier. Then I picked a location that was somewhat centrally located for everyone, Hollywood, and then from there I researched bars in the area within walking distance of one another and picked 5 places I had never been before.

We started the night at 5:00 pm at Good Times at Davey Wayne’s. This bar has been on my list for a while. It’s like walking through a time machine and traveling back to 1968 completely styled in 60s and 70s decor. We started here early because this placed gets packed as the night goes one. There’s also outdoor patio space, throwback music, the option to get food, and the coolest entrance ever! I will be going back at some point!

 

Next, we walked a few blocks to The Highlight Room, a pool and patio bar and cocktail area at the top of the Dream hotel. This was by far the fanciest stop of the night with the most amazing views and priciest drinks. I loved the atmosphere and it was so great to be able to sit down with everyone and catch up. It was also the most “LA” place we went too but I loved every minute of it.

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Afterwards we literally walked around the corner to the next bar, Beauty and Essex. Again, a cool and interesting place. Primarily a restaurant/lounge kind of place. When you first enter, it looks like you’re walking into a high-end pawn show with a whole bunch of sparkly jewelry cases and an assortment of memorabilia.

From there we walked next door to grab a slice of pizza from Lucinis and across the street to the Powder Room. I have to say although we had a great time playing games and hanging out… this was my least favorite stop of the night. It was way smaller than expected and the décor was a little off due to the child’s bedroom additions. All around it was interesting…

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Last but not least we went to No Vacancy, another beautiful house that has been transformed into a bar! We got there a little behind schedule about 11:45 and had to wait a good 15 minutes to get in but we easily could have had to wait a lot longer. The experience of entering the place and the surprise at the top of the stairs is by far the most exciting part. When we got in… it was beyond packed and felt like we were at a frat party. We hung out, danced a bit, and fought our way to the bar.  It didn’t take long before we were already to go. I would definitely go back, but earlier in the night for sure and leave before the crowd gets so out of hand!

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The whole weekend was a blast! I enjoyed every minute of it and 24’s celebration will be a tough one to beat. Thanks again to everyone who celebrated with me and made this year so special.

 

Lounging in Laguna

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Laguna is by far one of my favorite places I’ve ever been in California! My first-time visiting was a few years ago with my Aunt and Uncle and I knew once moving back out that it was a top priority on my places to go back to! Emory and I went back in October, and although it was a few months ago now, it’s too good not to share!

Laguna is about 75 miles south right on the coast line and about an hour and a half drive from where I live (making it the perfect day trip!) It’s known for its beautiful beaches and its artistic culture!

When we went, we left on a Friday, mid-morning (trying to miss all the commuter traffic.) Once we got into town, we found a little parking lot right off the main street. In Laguna there’s pretty accessible parking everywhere, you’ll just have to pay hourly at most places! We got there just in time for an early lunch at Skyloft!  They had a great lunch menu we could pick and choose from, but what we really wanted was the view. The restaurant has what seems to be a fancier main floor, a bar atmosphere on the second floor, and then the third floor is a completely open-air patio with an incredible view of the main beach!

Afterwards we walked down to the main beach complete with the little light house  and explored the neighboring street shops! You might wonder “why going shopping when you have the beach?” Well, I’m learning that early in the morning, there’s usually a lot of fog that comes off the Pacific Ocean and on somedays it can take well into the afternoon for the fog to burn off. What better thing to do while you wait for the sun? Go check out all the local artisans’ shops! Laguna is home to many artists and the perfect place to shop if you enjoy finding unique, one of a kind things!! There are a bunch of studios that line the streets selling original fine art pieces, home décor, and specialty shops. There’s a bunch of boutiques with clothes for all different ages and styles along with everybody’s favorites traditional candy shops and surf stores! I went for the first time, it was the middle of summer and they had a bunch of different art fairs and festivals going on for even more handmade and crafted items!

Once the fog let up, we drove a little further down the coastline until we got to Aliso beach! Laguna has soooooo many incredible and picturesque beaches to choose from, but honestly, we finally decided on Aliso because there was very visible and easily accessible parking! To no surprise though, the beach was amazing besides that! It was still a breezy day and not ideal for a bikini or sunbathing in early October, but it was perfect to sit and watch the waves roll in! School must have been let out because there was a group of high school boys were wave boarding which was so cool to watch. Before long a bunch of parents and high schoolers and cheerleaders showed up for a pep-rally (before what I’m assuming was a big Friday night game!)

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Off on the side of the beach is a rocky out cropping that Emory and I decided to go explore! There were a whole bunch of tide pools along the rocks (another thing Laguna is known for) but being so late in the day, all we saw was a few anemones and mollusks of some sort. We decided to stay on the rocks and wait for sunset. In the meantime, we made friends with a seagull that would not leave us alone for any reason (even though we didn’t have any food) And before we knew it the sun was setting, and the tide was rising. Man was it worth the wait!

Although not much could follow that view, we decided it was time to move on! By this time a whole bunch of people had congregated to have bon fires (only some beaches in California will let you have them.) But before we left, we made sure to take a trolley ride along the coast! Yet another selling point on Laguna (like you needed another reason, I know) is that they have great public transportation! During peak summer hours they have trolleys that run all day long and will take you on different routes through the whole city! Since we were there in October on the other hand, we were in the start of the off-season and had to wait till later at night to enjoy.

Finally, it was getting pretty dark and we figured we better head on back! We drove up the coast as long as we could before heading back to LA. Over all is was a very laid back and relaxing day!

Where’s your favorite places to day trip? What kind of activities do you look forward to doing?

All The Time In Anaheim

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If you drive about 30 miles South of Los Angeles and you’ll reach a magical land in the middle of Orange County called Anaheim. Anaheim is home to many classic California attractions including Disneyland, various sports venues, breweries, and shopping districts-making it the perfect place to visit. This past month, I’ve spent a few days exploring some of the places Anaheim has to offer.

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Disney World in Orlando, Florida has always held a special place in my heart. We visited the different parks a few times while growing up and every time I went there I was always amazed by the magic. It never mattered how old I was-8 and still believed the characters were real or a freshman in high school-it was always the greatest adventure. Ever since moving to California, Disneyland was one of the places at the top of my list despite being 23 years old and some what of an adult, I’m still a kid at heart.

Lucky for me, I’ve made some pretty great friends out here that love Disney even more than I do!  My friends used to work at Disneyland and are still pretty well connected. They know the park like the back of their hand and know the best way to experience the day! I’m pretty lucky to have such amazing tour guides!

When we got to Anaheim we started the day by walking through Downtown Disney, a mini town-like area located outside of the park with lots of little shops and restaurants. You can visit this area without paying admission to the park! When you arrive at the park entrances, you have two choices right across from one another, the classic Disneyland and California Adventure. As mentioned, my friends are such big Disney fans they have season passes so there were able to get me a little bit of a discount. With that being said we did both parks in one day. While it was do-able, it would have been hard to make it on all the rides and see everything if you didn’t know what you were looking for. I would suggest you do a 2-Day pass and do one park each day so that you have plenty of time to experience both!

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We started off our morning at Disneyland, strolling down main street and seeing Sleeping Beauty’s castle followed by Adventureland and favorite rides like the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. Although both rides are also at Disney World, they’re still a little different and there are new things to see! My favorite ride of the day was one I’ve never been on before, Indian Jones! The rollercoaster-like thriller will take you on an exciting journey to the Earth’s depths!

The park includes other classics like Splash Mountain and Space Mountain! Disneyland is a great park for families, especially younger children. There are rides and entertainment options for all ages. If you know me at all, you also probably know I usually experience extreme motion sickness, but none of the rides seemed to bother me much!

For the afternoon we made our way to California Adventure, which was probably my favorite! It had a lot of attractions I’d never seen before! California Adventure is home to one of my favorite rides, the new “Guardians of the Galaxy” ride (formally known as Tower of Terror.) Personally, I don’t think that it’s better than the original, but it is a fun spin on things! My favorite area of California adventure though was Cars Land where the animated classic Cars and Radiator Springs comes to life!

This summer has been special for the parks because of Pixar Fest (ending in September.) California Adventure set up “Pixar Pier” in honor of the celebration with attractions from this years’ Incredibles movie including the Incredi-coaster and even Nom Nom Cookies!

We finished off our day with some amazing cocktails and appetizers at Lamplight Lounge, an adorable all-things-Disney themed restaurant looking over the water at the park! The food and drinks were amazing, and it was the perfect end to a perfect day! I would highly recommend planning to have dinner there, but make sure you put in a reservation ahead of time!

That was more than enough Disney for one day, but two weekends later I was headed back to Anaheim for some more California fun! This past weekend I crossed another baseball stadium off the list and saw to California teams battle it out. I went with some friends to the Anaheim Angels stadium to watch them take on the Oakland A’s. The group I was with was all A’s fans, but I must say, the Angels fans were pretty nice considering. Before the game we headed to one of the breweries that surround the stadium for a drink then we walked over to the park. Our seats, at only $15 a piece, were great and in the shade most of the time which was awesome considering it was a one o’clock game. We enjoyed an afternoon of hot dogs, pretzels, and singing “take me out to the ball game.” Everyone was happy when the A’s walked away with the W!

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Following the game, we went to grab dinner (or dessert) at the Packing House. Located in the Packing District, the Packing house is an old warehouse that has been converted into a “walkable culinary” adventure featuring over 40 unique restaurant and stores with a ton of options to choose from. I had too many treats at the game and spoiled my dinner so ice cream for me! I can’t wait to come back here and explore this area some more.

Whether in Anaheim for a day or a few days, there’s plenty of things to do!

Is there anything I missed? If you have any recommendations or suggestions of what I should do the next time I’m in Anaheim, please let me know!!! Please comment below or email dayofjae@gmail.com.

Home to Hollywood

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Hollywood: the entertainment capital of the world and the main reason I’ve day dreamed about Los Angeles since I was nine years old. It’s the home to America’s most beloved movies and television shows and everywhere you go in this city, you’re surrounded by the industry!

 

If you love to watch a screen (whether big or small) it comes to life right before your eyes. Everywhere you look, you can almost guarantee it’s served as a backdrop in one film or another (even the Buca de Beppo around the corner).  All of the major production studios are scattered around the city and many of them even find unique ways to open their doors and let you in. Whether you want to grab a cup of joe with an old Friend at the Central Perk Café at Warner Bros or travel the back lots at NBCUniversal Studios where you’ll find The Voice, Amity Island, and even Whoville. There’s something fun about interacting and seeing firsthand how and where some of your favorite movies are made.

IMG_6404You don’t have to take a tour or be on set to see where the magic happens. Like I said everywhere you go has played a role somewhere. Of course, it’s hard to miss some of Hollywood’s favorite backdrops like the iconic Hollywood Sign and don’t forget to take a trip on Mulholland Drive! While traveling through the city you will also probably pass or cross over the LA River, (not much of a river) home to one of my all-time favorite movie, the drag race scene in Grease (Go Grease Lightning go!)

When you’re here, there’s also always the excitement of you never know who you’ll run into (literally). Twice on my recent evening jogs in a quiet residential neighborhood I’ve passed a filming session for Julia Robert’s new TV Show, Homecoming (before you ask, no-I didn’t see her or any of her co-stars, but I did see the lighting guy, and he’s just as cool). As far as other sightings, I’ve seen countless Bachelor/Bachelorette stars, multiple E-personalities (even though I didn’t really know who they were), and a few of my favorites like Aaron Paul and Tyra Banks!

doj_instagram_17The key to seeing celebrities is mostly being able to be aware of your surroundings and knowing where and when to pay attention (something I’m not great at, but I am super good with faces!)  You could see someone at dinner, while out shopping, or even walking down a street (all places and real-life situations I’ve seen someone.)  When you do see someone, just keep it cool and gage the situation!  But come on we all know those few people that’d we’d freak out if we ever walked into a room and saw them, that one person standing right in front of us. I’ve gotten into convos where I try to think about who that person would be for me… sure, a few years ago it would have been Adam Levine, but I’ve seen him and we’re not getting married anytime soon so I’m over that. My inner middle schooler though, would still probably lose it though if I saw Zac Efron or Robert Pattinson though! I have been known to get more excited over the fact I actually spotted and recognized someone than the fact of their celebrity status or who they are. I mean when it comes down to it, they are normal people just out trying to live their everyday lives, but you bet if I run into Ellen, I’m going to ask her to take a selfie with me! I’d love to hear who you’d freak out over meeting! Send or message me your fav celebs and I’ll keep you posted if I ever run into them!

The most important way to experience the movies though, is still by actually going to a movie theater to watch a movie.  In LA there’s no exception, even when on vacation it’d recommend going to see a movie because it can be a unique experience you can’t get anywhere else and it plays a huge part in this city’s history and future. To get a unique LA movie theater experience, you can purchase tickets to sit where the stars sit for movie premieres at the Chinese Theater or see Disney’s latest hit at the El Capitan theater.

I love seeing a movie at the actual theater for many reasons that aren’t just butter covered popcorn. I think it’s so special to sit down next to your loved ones or sometimes even complete strangers to sit and experience a movie together.  The feeling of sharing a laugh with a room full of people during the latest Melissa McCarthy movie or jumping so high out of your seat during a trailer for an upcoming horror movie that it leaves the whole room laughing afterwards-that’s movie magic. It’s less about what you’re actually watching and more about experiencing it together and sharing that memory.

Movies literally bring people together in so many ways!  In LA there are some very unique ways to experience a movie especially a classic. Why sit where the stars sit, when you can sit right next to one of the greatest stars of all times (and by sit next to I mean set on top of…)  One of the greatest traditions in LA is to go see a favorite movie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  You’ll actually be surrounded by some of the greatest entertainers that ever lived while you watch some of the most praised and loved movies of all time. With theaters the way they are nowadays, the comfort of your own bed is no longer an excuse. You can find theaters that are even better and comfier than your couch at home.  At iPic for example, you can sit in a recliner (big enough for two) that goes all way back. They’ll give you a pillow, a blanket, and free popcorn. You will also then have the chance to order things like sushi, steak, dessert and other delicious meals and they’ll bring it out for you. Now I don’t know about you but that sounds way better than what I’ve got at home.

Look, I know how expensive movies are getting, especially if you want to enjoy an experience like iPic, but trust me… I have a secret.  (It’s not much of a secret any more but it’s still so new to me that it feels like a secret.) If you love going to the movies, listen up this one is for you, finish reading my blog then before you go do whatever else you’re going to go do, you’re going to download Movie PassMovie Pass is the answer to your prayers and is exactly what it sounds like. It’s not a scam and it’s not too good to be true, but it is the greatest thing ever! It is a service that you subscribe to (just like Netflix) and for $10 a month you can see as many movies in theaters as you want (well up to one per day and you can’t see the same one twice-but still! That up to 31 movies a month for $10 total).

This is how it works… You sign up online or through the app, they they’re going to mail you a Movie Pass Card (it looks like a “credit card”). Once you’ve activated your card, you can go to select theaters in your area (in LA they’re everywhere, in Boone and Ames, don’t worry you can use Movie Pass at Movies 12 AND North Grand Cinema I already checked!) Once you have your card ready and you’re at the theater you select the movie and showtime you’d like to see and then click check-in. Next, you’ll go purchase your tickets, when you get to the counter to pay you simply swipe your Movie Pass card and then they take care of the rest. Some select theaters will even let you reserve your seat and ticket online, so you don’t have to show up extra early but check in with your local theater. The first time I ever used movie pass I would have paid $14 for a ticket at that location, but with Movie Pass all I paid was my $10 earlier that month and it had already paid for itself. Just keep in mind that this is a heck of a great deal and please don’t try to scam the system and ruin it for the rest of us. You can’t use your movie pass on other people or multiple tickets AND you can’t use it in combination with concession stand purchases.  Just take your “free” ticket and enjoy the show.

Now you have NO excuses not to go see the latest and greatest movies. If you just go to one movie a month, it’ll pay for itself. Since being out here, I’ve used my Movie Pass to see Life of the Party, Oceans 8, and Tag (all movies I’d highly recommend for very different reasons!) Next on the list is Incredibles 2, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom (supposed to be awesome) Gotti (supposed to be horrible) and Hereditary (if I can find any friends brave enough to go with me).

Bonus: When I went to see Tag I also saw the trailer for Bad Times at the El Royale and it was the most beautiful, terrifying, magical, and creepy trailer I’ve ever seen. If you’re confused how all those adjectives fit together, check it out right now.

***Credits start rolling***

Don’t get up and leave your seats just yet! This city is known for making movies and a lot of people work in this industry. People appreciate every roll and all the effort that goes into make a great film.  With that being said, don’t be surprised if people stick around so that they can cheer and clap when their friend’s name scrolls across the screen! It’s worth the wait to see the joy!

This week my advice is to go to the movies and share an experience with other people. Whether the movie truly speaks to you or is the worst thing you’ve ever seen, there’s nothing like crying, laughing, and sometimes screaming all together.

Share with me what movies you’re excited to see or what your thoughts were on ones you’ve seen recently! Comment below, email dayofjae@gmail.com, or DM on Instagram!  Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for all the latest updates >>^^

 

 

Malibu Mission

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What to do when you’re in Malibu?  I’ve had a lot of followers asking about where and how I met Stanley the Giraffe. The answer is a trip to Saddlerock Ranch and signing up for a Malibu Wine Hike. The suggestion for this activity came from my good friend Jordan, and I’m so glad she suggested it.  I knew my boyfriend was coming to visit and we were looking for some ideas on unique things to do in the area. Malibu Wine Hikes was the perfect solution and I think we would all continue to recommend this adventure.

First off, the word “hike” is being used pretty loosely (we both did the entire hike in Sperrys). It’s more of a nice walk through a beautiful vineyard that’s rested among the Malibu Canyons. Along your walk you’ll get to explore beautiful scenic views, rows of grape vines, a unique garden, and romantic event and venue spaces (you may even spot the Bachelor mansion). The highlight of this trip though, is of course all of the friends you’ll meet along the way.

There was about 10 of us in our group all of different ages and backgrounds, but most were all from the surrounding Los Angeles area. Now the hikes we did were group hikes, but if you have a big enough group, you can book a private hike as well.

The other friends I was talking about though, are the main attractions- an eclectic family of exotic animals. On your hike you’ll make plenty of new friends when you stop and feed goats, llamas, alpacas, donkeys, zebras, and even Stanley the Giraffe. On the hike you’ll spend quite a bit of time interacting with the animals and you’ll get to learn more about them as well as the history behind the ranch’s owners, the ranch, and the vineyard.

Be sure to have your cameras ready and fully charged because there are tons of photo ops along that way that you won’t want to miss. It’s truly an experience you’ll never forget and is definitely worth it.  Once you’re done with the hike you’ll get to go up to the wine tasting area and sample 5 of the most popular Saddlerock wines (a $20 value included!)

Tips & Tricks of the Day:

Whether you’re from LA, just here visiting, or have a special celebration coming up, Malibu Wine Hikes is the perfect way to celebrate and enjoy the area. Our hike was $65/person for about 4 hours of fun.  I booked our hike about 3 weeks in advance. Just be aware that the spots can fill up fast since it’s such small groups. The hike itself took about two hours then we spent about two hours in the wine tasting area.

***things we didn’t know but wish we did***

You can stay after in the wine tasting area as long as you’d like. On the weekends they often have live music playing and it’s a very hip and trendy spot to spend a day or afternoon. They also sometimes have a food truck, BUT you can also bring in as much food and non-alcoholic beverages as you like. Tons of people had gourmet picnics set up and one group even had pizzas delivered.  You and a group of friends could easily make a day out of it (plus if you’re worried about driving so far and drinking, it’s not as expensive or uncommon as you’d think to just take an Uber especially from the valley.) Regardless of doing the hike or not though, the only way to get to the wine tasting area is by trolley or shuttle from the main parking lot.  The main parking lot address is associated with Saddle Rock Ranch and the same parking lot for the Wine Hikes and safaris.

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Other things to keep in mind:

Check the weather before you go.  Since it’s deeper in the canyons and at a higher elevation than the beach it tends to be warmer and sunnier.  In the event it rains, or the weather is horrible (extremely unlikely) they do have a rescheduling policy that might work for you. You’re definitely going to want to make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen.  There’s very little shade along the path and bringing sunglasses is also a smart idea. You’ll also want to bring a water bottle with you.  They do have filling stations along the way, but they don’t have any bottles or cups available at the time we went.

As far as what to wear, I wore jean capris, a light weight sweater, and Sperrys (you have to wear close toed shoes for the hike). I was waaaaay too hot in my outfit, but I managed just fine. If you’re most comfortable in workout gear, I would suggest you wear that.  If you want to dress up a little more and be more fashionable for photos, you’ll be fine just make sure you can move freely and be prepared for about a  two-mile walk.  The reason why people would want to look cute for the hike besides photos, is because the wine tasting area is extremely trendy and very LA. To me, going can even feel like being part of a fashion show. There’s always a very diverse group of people there though, and of course other people will be in casual hiking clothes as well so just wear whatever you will be the most comfortable in.

When you look to book your trip, you might also come across the Wine Safaris. They’re at the same location and you’ll see many of the same things, but you’ll miss out on the exercise and won’t get to interact with the animals quite as much.  But for larger groups, it still looked like an extremely fun experience.

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Extend your Day:

If you drove (or even if you didn’t) you can always extend your day before or after your hike and go to one of Malibu’s beautiful beaches.  We went to El Matador before our hike (one of my favorite beaches in the area.) I love El Matador because it’s very scenic due to its stunning rock outcroppings.  Again, it also makes for great photo opportunities.  Don’t worry though the sand is still perfectly soft and not rocky at all.

When visiting El Matador beach, you can pay to park for pretty reasonable fees in the lot, but if the spots are all full you can park a little farther away along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) for free.  (I haven’t got a ticket yet for doing that and everyone else does it, so I think it’s fine!) 

It is a bit of a journey to get down from the parking area.  You’ll have to trek down a pretty steep slope and then make your way down a few flights of stairs, so I’d think twice before you bring too much stuff to carry. The view is amazing, and you never know what you might see, perhaps a pod of dolphins swimming in the distance, a few surfers catching waves, or you may just find the lost swing.

Malibu Wine Hikes and beaches were great suggestions and I am more than happy to recommend!  Please let me know if you sign up for a Malibu Wine Hike and feel free to ask any more questions.  I’m always taking recommendations and suggestions of what to do next for my Things To-Do List at dayofjae@gmail.com!