Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mission Inn and the Festival of Lights. Riverside, CA. December 10, 2011

I had heard about the Mission Inn in Riverside and wanted to visit for some time. I found out they have this Festival of Lights each year during the holiday season, so my friends and I went on a road trip this weekend to check them out.

The Mission Inn is a National Historic Landmark. We went on a tour of the hotel first. Unfortunately, they didn't allow us to take pictures on the tour so I missed out on lots of great photo ops. However, we learned a lot about early settlements in Riverside in the late 1800's, about Frank Miller's plans for the Mission Inn, and the history of the hotel. Some of the venues we visited inside the hotel included the Music Room which houses a 100-year old Kimball Organ, the Spanish Gallery, and the Ho-O-Kan Room that houses Miller's art collections from China and Japan. Because we visited on a Saturday, we only got a quick glimpse of the hotel's stunning chapel as there was a wedding taking place. I'd like to return and visit the chapel in the future.

After the tour, we went back into the hotel. Here's the beautiful hallway from a side entrance.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

(REPOST) Rome, Italy. July 2008

My good friend Rasheed and his wife Andrea (married in Vancouver, Canada this July) are going on their honeymoon to Paris and Rome. After talking to Rasheed with my own travel tips for both destinations, it brought back fond memories for me. I'm reposting pictures taken from my 2008 Europe trip, starting with Rome.

I worked in Rome for a week. It was my second visit to this magnificent city. Although I didn't have much time to tour around due to my work schedule, I did get a chance to explore a few more places. I met this beautiful Italian woman and her son on our trip from Los Angeles to Rome. It took us almost 24 hours to get to Rome. Our first leg was canceled due to aircraft issue from LAX to Chicago. We then barely made it to our Chicago - London transfer, before moving on to Rome from London. They lost my luggage for a day when I got to Rome...what a travel nightmare!

This woman owns a clothing boutique in Rome and was visiting friends with her son. Here's us at the British Airways lounge at London Heathrow Airport before moving on to Rome.

I stayed at the then Hilton Cavalieri (now a Waldorf Astoria hotel). This hotel is situated atop of one of the seven hills in Rome. This is the view from my room!

(REPOST) London, U.K. for 23 Hours. July 2008

After working in Rome, I had a 23-hour layover in London before going to Amsterdam. As much as I love Europe, this was my first time in London. Although it was a quick visit, I'm glad I was able to return to London in July 2010 and spent a little more time exploring.

Here I come!

I took the Tube to Victoria, where I was spending a night. After I came out of the station, I was greeted by this Wicked production at the Apollo. I was so excited because I had just watched Wicked here in Los Angeles a few months prior. You can't see it in the photo, but I was actually hauling my luggage!

(REPOST) Amsterdam, The Netherlands. July 2008

I met this wonderful woman Vicky living in Amsterdam on MySpace several years ago. She and I became "cyber" pen pals. When I learned that I was going to be working in Rome in 2008, I decided to visit her in Amsterdam afterward.

I got in at 10pm and the sky wasn't completely dark yet.

The next day, I went out to explore and noticed the beautiful Westerkerk church. Dutch style is something completely new to me, and it's equally intriguing.

(REPOST) Brussels, Belgium. July 2008

I decided to visit Brussels on this trip because it was fairly close to Amsterdam. I arrived by train which took about 3 hours. I got to check out beautiful European countryside along the way.

While on my way to the hotel, I passed by the stunning St. Michel Cathedral and had to come see it right away.

In contrast to churches in Rome, churches in Brussels are in Gothic style.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Vancouver & Whistler, Canada. July 15 - July 19, 2011

The love story goes like this...

Labor Day weekend, 2008, my good friend Rasheed visited me from Philly. He wanted to go to Las Vegas because he's never been, so we drove out there. One night after dinner, I didn't feel like going to the club, so I went back to the hotel while Rasheed stayed and partied. That night, he met a woman visiting from Vancouver. The next morning, Rasheed and I had a discussion about long distance relationships. While I've been involved in a couple before, Rasheed didn't believe it could work. I simply told him to keep an open mind, don't have any expectations, and just treat the process as making a new friend across the country. June 2009, Rasheed and the woman he met in Vegas, Andrea, started dating seriously. On January 1, 2010, Rasheed proposed to Andrea, and they became engaged. Rasheed told me he actually bought the ring only a month after he and Andrea got together! I kept teasing Rasheed that not only did he get involved in a long distance relationship, but an international and bi-coastal one, too. Rasheed and Andrea were getting married on July 16, 2011 in Vancouver, Canada. When Rasheed and Andrea visited me last month, they asked me to marry them in Las Vegas after Andrea's visa goes through. I feel so honored to marry this lovely couple later this year here in the States!

I decided to make this my yearly vacation trip and included a visit to Seattle after Vancouver. I was in Vancouver in October 2010 for work and didn't have a lot of time to explore around. This time, I stayed for a few days and explored different parts of town. I had three missions while in Vancouver: 1) Rasheed and Andrea's wedding, 2) Eat as many Japa Dogs as I can, and 3) Visit Whistler and do the zipline.

I purposely booked the Sutton Place Hotel in downtown Vancouver because there is a Japa Dog stand right in front of the hotel. Andrea laughed so hard when I told her this. I arrived Friday night after work. I told Rasheed when he picked me up at the airport how much I was waiting for Japa Dog to open the next day. My first meal in Vancouver was their Spicy Cheese Terimayo with wasabe mayo on top. Oh how I missed this!

I had a few hours of free time before the wedding, so I went exploring the town. Here's Robson Square.

Seattle, WA. July 20 - July 22, 2011

After Vancouver, I went down to Seattle. One of my best friends from high school, Patty, has been living in Seattle. We haven't hung out since 1991 after I went away for college. We briefly saw each other in January 2009, but we were with a group of high school friends and didn't get a chance to catch up. Patty had been inviting me to visit, and I'm glad I did!

Patty works in downtown so I rode with her in the morning. Seattle has FREE buses running from 6am-7pm through downtown in the tunnels. It's great! I wished LA had something like this.

I went on an underground tour in Pioneer Square. I learned a lot of history about Seattle on this tour. This used to be the street level!

Monday, June 13, 2011

San Diego Part Deux - June 2011

I went back to San Diego for work last week. I'm falling in love with this city more and more every time I visit.

Here's the view from my hotel room.

A beautiful walkway for crossing traffic above the road.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

(REPOST) Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - May 2007

For Memorial Day weekend in 2007, I went back to Mexico after a great trip to Puerto Vallarta in June 2003. I had heard a lot about Cabo and wanted to visit for some time. Despite being a hot tourist spot, Cabo was not as commercialized and crazy as Cancun. I had a relaxing time there.

Here's looking at Land's End from the beach at my hotel, where the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez meet.

Immediately after I took this picture, I got hit by a strong onshore tide and fell in the water and got my dress wet. Yeah, welcome to Cabo. :D

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Quick Trip to Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR - April 2011

I hopped up to Vancouver, WA (not the one in Canada!) for a quick trip this past week working at a conference. It was my first time visiting the Pacific Northwest. The air was crisp and fresh with a serene scenery. I wished I had more time to explore.

The Esther Short park is right across the street from the hotel we stayed in downtown Vancouver. This park has a beautiful clock tower that I just couldn't get enough of. Established in 1853, this park is the oldest public park in the state of Washington.

After I finished giving two presentations, my colleague and I ventured out to explore a bit before the evening reception. We came across this cool little area called "Turtle Place." This new public plaza displays artwork and pieces made out of recycled and reused items. Here's a beautiful piece called "Romona Falls."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

San Diego and Visiting the USS Midway - March 2011

I attended a conference in San Diego this past week. Because I went to college there, I always view San Diego as my second home. It is also one of the two places I'd like to retire in (the other city is Paris...only if I hit the lottery!).

Instead of driving, we decided to get there by train from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. This brought back lots of memories. I didn't have a car in college so I rode the train home during breaks and when I came up to LA to visit my then boyfriend. I haven't ridden this line in 15 years. Here's a look at the beautiful ceiling inside Union Station.

While we were waiting to board, this guy came up to us and said he sings like Johnny Cash. He performed couple of songs for us. One of my colleagues said he sounded just like Johnny Cash.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Los Angeles Central Library Tour and Being a Tourist in My Own City Part 2

I went on a tour of the central library in downtown LA this weekend. It was free and the weather was gorgeous. I had tons of fun exploring the city again. I'm happy that I'm discovering more and more hidden gems here at home after I went on the Downtown LA Art Walk and a Downtown gastronomy food tour last year.

After having a delicious brunch at Bottega Louie (which I had been wanting to go forever, and we saw John Lithgow there - loved him in 3rd Rock from the Sun), we went on a self-guided financial district art walk before heading up to the library. Our first stop was the Ernst & Young Plaza. We saw this fun statue called "Corporate Head."

At first, people disliked this and they were offended by this piece of "art," but overtime, they grew to love it. Now people would pat on its back for good luck before going into the building to work. I hope it'll make me the #1 salesperson in my company! :D

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year Road Trip & Wearing Bikini in 50 Degree Rain!

In 2002, I took a last minute road trip to central California on New Year's Eve and had a fabulous time. I have not returned to central Cali since. So this year, I decided to do another road trip, and my good travel buddy Cherisse came along with me. Cherisse and I went to Hawaii in 2006 with 3 other ladies, and we had a blast. We had so much fun on this road trip, and this will go down as another unforgettable trip in our books.

We first stopped by Solvang, a Danish town nestled in the mountains along the coast. I haven't been here in over 10 years. We walked around and wandered into a bakery with amazing pastries called Mortensen's. We went for the chocolate eclair and their raspberry and cream cheese stripe. They were excellent! The only words that came out of Cherisse's mouth the whole time was, "Oh my God, oh my God." I couldn't stop laughing!

Beautiful architecture in Solvang.