happy holidays 2: lost in new york

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Remember Home Alone 2?  That’s a holiday classic that never gets old.

New York is my favorite US city when it comes to the holidays, and really for lots of people — that’s why it’s featured so heavily in many movies around this season, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, Scrooged.  From the Rockefeller skaters to the Rockettes, this city comes alive during the most wonderful time of the year.  Even though it’s colder than Jack Frost, there’s something very magical about rockin’ around this enchanting city while it snows.  Happy Hanukah and here’s to dreaming of a white Christmas!

Tis the season!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

As we kick off the busiest travel days of the year, it can be a real stressful time for both travel and family.  I get stressed out and I’m around my extended family all year round!  But they’re family, what can you do?  My sister is having me pick her up in the pit of hell LAX on Wednesday night.  I cannot imagine a worse case scenario…and if we didn’t share DNA I would straight up charge a hella exorbitant fee.  Friendship and family lines get drawn at LAX.

I digress…I did my traveling in the past two weeks together to pre-Friendsgiving it up, so to speak, and on these long plane rides, I was ruminating about life and conversations I had with my pals (as I tend to do), so here are some thoughts from my motivational speaking corner.

Life is too short to be unhappy.  It is unpredictable, especially in the world we live in –nothing is guaranteed, so pursue what brings you joy.  And if you already have it (many of us do), don’t push it away, make time for it.  We all deserve that chance for ourselves, and how do we get it?  First by trusting ourselves.  We all need basic things like food, water, clothing, shelter, but what I think a lot of us really need is belief and confidence in ourselves.  I always say 75% confidence, 20% luck and 5% skill.  If you don’t believe in yourself, you don’t have much of anything because that inner confidence is typically the driver of determination, hope, and state of mind.  In order to best serve others, you have to first best serve yourself — it is the oxygen mask dictum.

Work isn’t everything.  Repeat that.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s great– you need work to get money and provide for yourself and your family.  But, your job that you’ve put so much of yourself into, the thing you’ve sacrificed so much for — it’s not the only thing you have going for you.  Don’t take the extra shift, spend it with your people, they need you more.

Note the words: basic needs.  Learning to be apathetic about materialism helps.  You need things, but do you need things?  Marie Kondo your life.

Knowing your worth is huge.  You have much more to offer than you think, and if you are unsure, ask someone you trust and they’ll lay it out for you (you can ask me, I am typically that person in the friendship).  And if they don’t listen or they aren’t there, or if only they say stuff that you want to hear, then they’re probably not your friend.  It’s better to have truth men than yes men, and yes, the truth hurts.  No pain, no gain.

At the same time, surrounding yourselves with people who are only like minded is a recipe for insulation.  Not always a good thing.  Read more, do things that may make you a little uncomfortable, always keep your eyes open and learn.  That’s why traveling is so important — it makes things a little less abstract, a little more relatable and in reach.  It makes you a more well-rounded and patient individual.

Be strong, be calm and walk away if needed.  This year, I left my comfortable job to go out on my own.  It was the best decision I have ever made (granted, it wasn’t a difficult decision).  There was definitely something better at the end of the tunnel, and for every trial and tribulation in life that comes your way, just know that you’ll come out on the other side.   I am thankful to the people I have around me that have supported me and spurred me to find the best situation for myself.  Happy Thanksgiving and because I yammered more platitudes than you’d see at Home Goods, here’s a pic of Jerry’s World from the sky.  They’re hosting the Redskins/Cowboys match up on Turkey Day, so post up and be with your loved ones!

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know before you go: DXB

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Appearing like a glittering jewel oasis in the middle of the desert, arriving into Dubai and being saluted by the sea of skyscrapers and hotels makes you feel like you’ve stepped into another world.  A paradise that is far more fancy and luxurious than anything you could imagine…except no need to pinch yourself, you’ve made it, you’re here.

DXB is one of the world’s preeminent destinations, so it’s no wonder that its airport is one of the top three busiest in the world.  The numbers for passenger traffic are astounding when you take into account that there are only 2 runways.  Being the largest traffic stop for Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 helps.  It is the hub for Emirates (if you live in the USA, that’s probably how you’ve arrived — from a very long flight out of LAX, JFK, SFO, IAH, ORD), flyDubai, and Qantas.

The MASSIVE airport is split into three Terminals.  Terminal 1 is for international flights and is connected to a separate Concourse D, and 2 is for travel around the Middle East region (“domestic flights” as it were), and Terminal 3 is the main one, further divided into Concourses A, B, and C.   Emirates operates out of Concourse A.

Terminal 3 is the second largest building by floor area in the entire world.  Think about that for a second.  Yeah, there’s multiple 5 star hotels, more shopping than most massive luxury malls and several FLOORS of executive lounges.  In fact, there is a secondary mini-terminal near Terminal 2 that is exclusively for people richer than you and me.

As one of the top cargo ports in the world, there’s even a terminal specifically for flowers.  FLOWERS.  This is how you know exactly how extra they are at this airport, and I’m here for it.

Remember: ✈️ = dub down to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = dub step

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (there’s metro, ground, taxi — just be sure to check the times if you’re traveling during Ramadan)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️ (it is massive, but there’s a people mover and shuttles –luckily most connections are long bc it takes more than 30 minutes per shuttle ride in some cases)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Your typical International fast food brands — Starbucks, McDonald’s, Burger King, Shake Shack, Krispy Kreme, KFC, Charley’s Steaks?, Pinkberry, Subway, Wolfgang Puck, and a lot of Indian and Asian fare)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️  (obviously very clean, and +100 for FREE showers at Terminal 3, C gates)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi available)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (This is what makes it worth it.  Gucci, Hermes, Ferragamo, Chanel, Cartier are some of the high end.  Many spas, executive lounges — literally the Emirates lounge has been my travel goal for years– 5 star hotels, showers, prayer rooms, gardens, gym, conference rooms).  Shout out to the baggage claim, too.  What usually looks like a bottom of a trashcan in most airports looks like the foyer of a palace here, mad props to DXB.

weekender in LA: happy lebron day

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Happy Lebron-starts-for-the-Lakers Day everyone!  A momentous day, hopefully an auspicious one.  There’s been a drought not only in Southern California’s water reserves, but in winning seasons for our Showtime squad and that just will not do. We were obviously spoiled by the Kobe era.

And if that weren’t enough, the Dodgers play the Brewers tomorrow to win the NL pennant race!  Because everyone loves October baseball…let’s continue the series of NLCS/ALCS cities with LA! We goin’ back to Cali, Cali, Cali…

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miss saigon: weekend in HCM City

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Vietnam is one of the most popular places in the world to travel, probably because it has everything: culture, art, delicious food, natural beauty, miles upon miles of beaches, history, welcoming people, hospitality and above all else, affordability.  You can live like a king on a moderate budget, every dollar goes super far here, while not sacrificing quality.

When traveling to Vietnam, you’re going to want to traverse the entire country, as there are unique landscapes, disparate culture and people throughout.  Even though it’s a smallish country, citizens from each region are very proud of their own distinct communities, from food to style and everything in between.  Just don’t get into a debate about who invented pho…there’s no winning with that one (it was the northerners ;).

The south of Vietnam is a great place to start.  Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is the country’s largest city by population.  The history of this city is rich, from its origin after Vietnamese conquered Khmer area, to the capital of French colonial rule to the then doomed epicenter of the Republic of Vietnam.  Because of the timeline of all sorts of different influences, the city is a mishmash of architectural styles.

Above all else, this is probably the epicenter of the future of Vietnam, with skyscrapers sprouting up everywhere and a population that is projected to be near 15 million in the next few years.  Not as cramped as Hanoi, this area is certainly still very crowded with motorbikes and people teeming into the streets every which way…and it’s ever changing.

blink and you’ll miss saigon

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24 hours in Vienna

Austria is one of those fly under the radar countries.  Like, in the way that it’s surprising you don’t hear about how amazing it is all the time.  Because you should.  Because it truly is.

Especially it’s capital and largest city, Vienna or Wien (they speak German here).  Not Ween, that’s an alt-rock band.  This is a European city: there’s sprawling boulevards, a backdrop of rolling hills and mountainous terrain, miles of shoreline along the Danube river, awe-inspiring art, stunning Roman and Baroque architecture, amazing food, interesting if not dubious history (umm home of Freud, Hitler and Lenin?), innovation and culture, and…it’s the sound city of music.

plan your travel soon because vienna waits for you

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36 hours in phoenix & scottsdale

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Phoenix is hot.

Literally and figuratively.   Phoenix has been one America’s fastest growing cities over the years, and it seemingly hosts every major sporting event possible (BCS bowl games, Super Bowl, Final Four, etc) because of its world class stadiums and ample hotel facilities.  No doubt it’s in part by having the tony suburb of Scottsdale and college towns of Tempe and Glendale nearby adding to its metropolitan area mix.

The capital of Arizona, Phoenix is your perfect desert getaway for a weekend, that’s why so many snowbirds head south to Phoenix, especially in the winter.  And for the rest of us: there’s spas, shopping, golf and fabulous chain restaurants.  Jk there’s obviously great local stuff including a rich art and cultural scene (so many murals!).

phoenix is rising

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life is beautiful: las vegas stripped

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I’m one of these weird people who visits Las Vegas and doesn’t really spend much time near the Strip.

I know, I know — what’s the point right?

Well…I prefer to lose my money in different ways than gambling (see: shopping), I have family in the city, and I’ve left my clubbing days where they belong…back in my twenties.  And honestly? The locals’ Las Vegas is cool AF (except when it is literally scorching hot outside), there’s so much to offer visitors and natives alike.

And there’s so many big events in Vegas all year round, like this weekend’s Life is Beautiful Music & Arts Festival.  And really, in Sin City, there is no lack of feeling that life is grand.  It’s a city of hopes and possibilities.  After the tragedy last year at Route 91, Las Vegans showed they are truly a strong community, and that they’re resilient and proud.

Obviously, if you’ve never been to Vegas before or if you’re there for some sort of celebratory shenanigans, by all means, strip ’til you drip.  See: the Hangover.  But as a warning, don’t sleep on the other parts of the city because you’ll be missing out on delicious ethnic eats from all corners of the world, arts and design rivaling any coastal cities, and architectural and natural delights all around.

Viva Las Vegas!

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weekend in krakow

When I was in fourth grade, one of the books required for reading was called The Trumpeter of Krakow.  This was a tale of persecution, crystals and alchemy, a haunting brass pronouncement, and arson.  Things that every child should learn about.

Flash forward some years, who’d have thunk I’d be standing in the middle of Pope John Paul II’s hometown, staring at that very tower where the Trumpeter was murdered?

Not 10 year old me, that’s for sure.

Poland is one of those former Eastern Bloc countries that typically flies under the radar, which I guess is a good thing for them because it’s not yet completely overrun by tourists.  I really loved visiting it, from the metropolitan and bustling capital Warsaw to the low key and casual Krakow.  Of course, there is a very storied history of this country because of role as the incendiary event of WWII (when the Germans invaded) which then lead to them being occupied by USSR from then until the end of the Cold War in 1989.  Lots of history.  Don’t sleep on Poland, I guarantee you it will be one of Europe’s must visit destinations in the next few years.

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3 days in New York

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As I spent a lot of this Labor Day weekend watching the US Open, I got serious green tennis ball colored envy.  I need to go to Flushing, NY stat (my friend goes every year, I have no excuse).  I mean, what a perfect way to spend a long weekend, exploring the last few days of summer in the city and then enjoying Primetime tennis!  Until I make it there, all I can do is dream of past New York adventures.

concrete jungle where dreams are made.

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