how to survive Disneyworld

IMG_1075.jpeg

Having grown up a stone’s throw from Disneyland, the house of mouse has somewhat lost its luster on me as an adult.  I know, I know, I bet a lot of you are appalled.

For the rest of you sane lot, I just can’t reconcile spending a car payment for a day standing in lines around hordes of strangers (read: I’m old and apparently too sensible to have any fun).  And living so close to Disneyland, I can hear and sometimes see the fireworks from my house every night at 9:30 PM, so I get to reap the benefits without having to withstand the hassle.  I haven’t been since I was 18.  And trust me, that was a LONG time ago.

That being said, I get it.  People love going to Disneyland…they don’t call it the happiest place on earth for nothing.  It’s a place where whimsy and magic exists, for patrons of all ages.  A microcosm where you can forget the outside for a moment and just have fun. And if you have kids?  It’s definitely a fantastic experience for them.  Who doesn’t want to give their kids the world?

And even though I may be biased as a born and bred Anaheim native, I can still admit that Disneyworld beats our original Disneyland handily.  First of all, there’s 6 parks to our 2.  Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.  You do have to travel to Orlando though, so I guess that’s the trade off 😉

Disneyworld is an actual a world of its own with hotels, transportation, lakes, security, grocery stores, etc.  I think it’s has its own government (obviously Mr. Mouse is a despot).  And although it is a resort…lest you think you’ll be having a relaxing vacation, you are sorely mistaken.  More a rat race, these trips are a whirlwind of multiple parks, characters and Mickey themed everything.  It’s a mousetrap! And it is basically a rite of passage for all families these days (youtube disneyworld trip reveals and then hate yourself afterwards).  Yay gross consumerism!

M-I-C…see ya real soon

Continue reading

Nashville: the only TEN I SEE

img_7236.jpeg

Nashville is one of the best places I’ve ever lived, and I’m lucky that I still have friends that live in town to visit.  Literally, I will visit at the drop of a cowboy hat.  Nashville is a lot like LA, except smaller, more easily navigable, and of course, musically inclined.  I know it’s known for its music, but can we just talk about the food in Nashville?  It’s spectacular.

This city is growing at an unbelievable pace, it seems like every time you turn around, there’s a new high rise or apartment complex.  My old neighborhood in the West End (don’t think this was a coincidence, I love the Pet Shop Boys)/Charlotte is now the gateway to up and coming Nations and Sylvan Park.

I love you, Nashville.

Continue reading

welcome to Atlanta: big game edition

Messages Image(3159961771).png

Where the players play and we ride on them things like ever-y-day.  How awesome was Atlanta hiphop in the early 2000s?  They were so fresh, so clean clean.  Usher was confessing.  There were hoes in different area codes (RIP Nate Dogg). And who could forget Lil Jon’s thinly veiled euphemism to the window…to the wall…you know what I mean, Peaches and Cream?

The Super Bowl is this weekend, and while I am disappointed that my favored Chiefs didn’t make it, I am even more disappointed that the Saints didn’t.  NFL is fixed, I tell you!  Anyway, the big game will be played at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in ATL (not to be confused with the Mercedes-Benz Superdome of New Orleans, who did not make the Super Bowl…still salty), so get your dirty bird, dirty south on!

Atlanta is an interesting city with a lot of different personalities and there’s no shortage of entertainment to fill up these days around the Super Bowl.  There’s some of the biggest companies in the world based there (Coca-cola and Turner broadcasting), one of the pre-eminent aquariums in the US, a robust entertainment industry (umm, hello Donald Glover and Walking Dead), many feisty housewives, a huge medical industry (home of the American Cancer Society and the CDC), and it’s in the deep South.  And oh yeah, it hosted the Olympics!

So, be like the devil and head down to Georgia…

Continue reading

bon voyage: know before you go CDG

Image-1-4.jpeg

Paris is one of THE magnificent cities of the world, and its main airport? C’est si bon!  It is the second largest airport by volume in Europe and the 10th largest in the world.  Obviously Paris is a destination in its own right, but as a port to the rest of the world, if you’re headed to Africa or the Middle East, good chance you could be stopping here, too.

The hub for Air France, this airport is named after the leader of the French resistance against Nazi Germany during WWI who later became president of the newly re-democratic France, Charles de Gaulle.  The history is complex, so you’re gonna have to trust me when I say he was a very notable French figure in the 20th century.  They don’t name airports after just anyone (see: the soon to be Muhammad Ali airport in Louisville).

There are three Terminals, but the set up is not exactly like other airports.  Terminal 1 is for airport operations, mass transit stations, shops and restaurants, check in counters and baggage claim.  Terminal 2 is split into sub-terminals 2A-2G. 2E is where your long haul flights will be, as it can accommodate Airbus A380.  Air France international flights are almost all exclusively run through Terminal 2 (American, Delta are also Terminal 2, while United flies through both 1 and 2A).  2F is for intercontinental European and 2G is in a separate building and is dedicated to regional Air France flights.  Terminal 3 is for budget airlines.

Remember: ✈️ = hate it  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ =   louvre it (sorry i couldn’t do any better, i’m le tired)

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (16 miles away, but RER metro transit will take you from central Paris –and there’s a new express trains coming soon.  There are also express buses and old fashioned car travel as well)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️ (there are CDGVAL trains that will take you from one terminal to the next; it does get confusing though and there’s not a lot of helpful people jumping at the chance to help you)

Convenience of check in/security lines:  ✈️✈️✈️ (there are a lot of travelers here, that doesn’t make things go quickly)

Dining:✈️✈️✈️✈️ (there is only one thing to know and that is there is a Laduree in 2F.  Otherwise, there’s a McD’s, Starbucks and Pre-A-Manger along with french offerings)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (fair for an airport of its size)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Free wifi, charging is available — don’t forget your Type E adapter!)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (this is Paris, home of Cartier, Dior, Chanel, Hermes, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Longchamp, Saint Laurent –you will find them all here along with well known Italian brands too 😉  All that’s missing is Goyard and Louboutin and then you’d have the best place ever airport shopping center in the world.  There are MANY lounges available as well — Air France/Delta SkyTeam in like all terminals, American, Etihad, Air Canada, El Al, Emirates, Qatar, SAS, Lufthansa, United/Star Alliance, Cathay Pacific.  Also, this airport was used in both U2 and Alan Parsons project album artwork, so extra cool points.  J’aime cela!)

Touchdown in Kan-SAS CITY

IMG_7460.jpeg

THE AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME IS GOING TO BE PLAYED AT ARROWHEAD!  THIS IS NOT A DRILL!

For the first time EVER, Kansas City hosts the AFC Championship game on Sunday and I am STOKED to say the least.  It’s gonna be hella cold, but I know Chiefs Kingdom is going to show up.  Unfortunately, I’ll be watching from Vegas (poor me, right?) but for those who are visiting KC, welcome to the loudest stadium in the NFL!

If you’ve read this blog, you may know that I lived in Kansas City just shy of a dozen years (and write about my visits) and I LOVE coming back.  It will forever be my second home, and the Midwest is very dear to my heart.  The trips have become fewer and far between as I am now an Adult (capital A) with a “job,” but recently I had the chance to go back for a little bit of work and a lot of play.

The changes that have occurred in this city since I left 4 years ago are astounding and numerous, and I guess in some ways I am lucky all of these cool, trendy places weren’t around when I was living there, or else I’d be broke and/or very large.  I’m even luckier that many of my pals still reside here, and I get personal tours every time I return.

I visited some old favorites and found some new ones, and of course, got to spend time with people I love…which is the best reason to travel.

Going back to Kansas City!

Continue reading

SJC: do you know the way to San Jose?

bamaclemson

If you’re a Clemson or Alabama fan, you’ve probably found your way to San Jose for the College Football Championship tonight.  If you haven’t, then this post is for you!

San Jose Mineta International Airport is one of the main airports that serves Northern California/Bay Area and specifically the number 1 airport for Silicon Valley.  It’s only 4 miles away from Downtown San Jose, and thus you’ll notice that the buildings aren’t super tall in this tech hub due to FAA regulations.

Fun fact: this is the first airport I ever flew into when I was 9 years old, so it has a special place in my heart.

There are 30 gates split between terminals A and B.  Terminal A services American, United, Air Canada, Aeromexico, ANA, Delta, Frontier and JetBlue and B houses Southwest, Alaska, Hainan, and British Airways.  You can tell there’s a lot of business going on in the area based on the airlines.

This airport is very bare bones, but it gets you to and from where you need to be.  There’s an airport flyer bus that will take you to the Santa Clara station, where you can hop on a train to get to Great America station which is close to Levi’s Stadium.

Remember: ✈️ = facebook to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = apple (just kidding facebook bot who may be reading this post)

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (4 miles away!)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (it’s not a big airport)

Convenience of check in/security lines:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (this is an efficient airport, it helps that most passengers are well-heeled travelers)

Dining:✈️✈️✈️ (Gordon Biersch, Peet’s, Jamba Juice, smashburger, Starbucks not too many fast food options)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (fair, not the newest, but pretty clean)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (I mean, you’re in Silicon Valley so…)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (randomly a Bearfruit jewelry kiosk which is a very niche jewelry store in CA, CNN newstands, See’s Candies, only one paid lounge: the SJC lounge)

the “I”s have it: happy 2019!

Happy New Year!  Wishing you a healthy, happy and successful 2019 filled with lots of travel!  I’ve already got plans for a few trips this year, for both work (boo, just kidding these trips have to get financed somehow) and play…because the wanderlust ain’t going to feed itself, y’all.

IMG_3243

a colossal travel year

For some reason,  I had a real proclivity for countries that start with I in 2018.  My travels took me to Italy, Ireland and Iceland (and my compadres added Indonesia).

IMG_5270

all is quiet on new year’s day — booyah, another u2 reference!

I also journeyed to the UK, Kansas City, Nashville, Las Vegas, Delaware, Chicago, Baltimore and Greenville, South Carolina.  Delaware was SUPER important as it marks only 4 states left for me to hit all 50!  I’m coming for you next Alaska, Maine, West Virginia and North Dakota!  Seriously, I already have plans to visit one this summer 😉

IMG_3854

steppin into 2019

If the “I”s had it in 2018, then the “C”s are gonna have it this year.  Hint, I’ll be cruisin’ for the first time since I was 16 :o.  This means I am both old and heading to an area not otherwise easily reached by plane.  Not a huge fan of open water or endless buffets, so we’ll see how that goes!  It’s always an adventure, isn’t it?

IMG_3927

may your 2019 be as relaxing as a dip in the blue lagoon

Thank you for traveling and reading along.  May your travels be safe and filled with joy, good company and no lost luggage.

 

 

Mele kalikimaka: a very Hawaiian Xmas

IMG_1080.JPG

Aloha, one of my favorite places to spend the holiday season (or any season) is Hawaii!  It’s the perfect getaway for a tropical vacation while staying on American soil (although I have heard tourists ask what currency is used there — facepalm).  As a Westcoaster, the rainbow state is only a stone’s throw 3-4 hour flight away, and Hawaiian airlines is the BEST domestic airline…free Mai Tais, anyone?  We’re lucky to be this close to paradise.

It’s very festive around the holiday season, and it’s a great reprieve from snowy weather — the average is high 70s with frequent showers.  But with many resorts and beaches and shopping and malasadas? Start planning your Hawaiian getaway now for next year.

Mele kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way of saying Merry Christmas to you!

Continue reading

happy holidays 2: lost in new york

Picture 002.jpg

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!

Continue reading

know before you go: GSP

IMG_7381

Greenville-Spartanburg International airport in South Carolina is the best kind of airport. Modern, convenient and easy to navigate.  The architecture is clean, there’s not too much hustle/bustle, and best of all, there is a Chick-Fil-A.

It’s the simple things in life, truly.

There is one terminal split into Concourse A (Allegiant, American, Southwest and United) and Concourse B (Delta).  Check in terminal and security is the same for all gates.

Even though they call it an international airport, it’s really only international for cargo.  Who knew (probably everyone in this region), but BMW has manufacturing here, and so there are cargo planes that travel back and forth from here to Germany.  Most of the travel is local in the South (ATL most popular destination), but there are featured flights as far as La Guardia and Las Vegas.

Remember: ✈️ = it ain’t easy being greenville to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = this is SPARTAnburg

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (it wasn’t hard to get here, but it felt far?)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (so easy, good signage, straight terminal)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (Chick-Fil-A.  Baskin Robbins.  Dunkin Donuts.  Wolfgang Puck.  All your bases are covered, obviously)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️  (very clean and not too claustrophobic)

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

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (Just get a book from Hudson and call it a day.  There’s an Escape lounge for AMEX members, and weirdly a place to file grievances based on discrimination on their website?  Is there something you’re not telling us, GSP?)