Saturday, August 30, 2014

First Class to Paris, France!

Paris is as beautiful as they say it is. But too bad nobody tells you how overrated it can be. Am I the only one who was slightly disappointed? This was my first time ever, first class experience to Europe. I'm sorry to say that I have been forever ruined and scarred by it. I never want to travel internationally in coach again. Once you go first class, it’s hard to go back. So save yourself future heartache, book the coach seat (always book the coach seat). Granted, I look extremely unimpressed in the photo- we hadn’t even taken off yet I had no idea what was coming.

Once we took off, we immediately were being pampered. Smoked salmon as an appetizer? Heck yes! Roosted beef tips with a baked potato? Heavenly! And I'm sorry, did you just ask me what dessert I wanted? You mean to tell me you have ice-cream with all the fixings? And now that I'm done, my seat will literally lay all the way back, I can watch all movies/ shows I want, this super comfy blanket and pillow are all mine, and you will even bring me as much alcohol as I want (not that I indulged - drinking when traveling to your destination is a big no-no in my book! It will only make your time less enjoyable when you’re already jetlagged)? I'm sorry, where am I again? Because I could have sworn I was 35,000FT in the sky...

Okay, okay, I'm done! First class travel is definitely worth it if you can afford it. But let’s be honest, how many of us can really fly first class, let alone fly it more than once (internationally). So let's move on!

Charles De Gaulle Airport was completely foreign to me; this was my first trip to a foreign country without the parental figures. I was traveling all on my own (well, with my love), and I was in Europe! Sure I'd been to Europe before, but it was when I was younger and with my parents. The funny thing about traveling as an adult is that you literally have no idea what you are doing. When we walked out off the plane we had no idea where to go at first (yes, we followed the signs but still ended up taking longer than it should have to get to the train). We struggled to get directions from the airport customer service representatives. We stupidly forgot to download maps to our phones. And when we finally got to the train, it took all we had in us to not fall asleep on it (pickpockets are a real problem).

When we finally were in the city, the very first time we walked out of the terminal and saw the buildings around us I forgot how tired I was. The buildings were beautiful, the road was beautiful, the sun was warm against my face and it was almost perfect. Everyone always talks about how gorgeous Paris is, but they lack to tell you that it kind of stinks (literally), and it’s also sort of dirty… Garbage isn’t picked up on the streets and sidewalks I guess (see it’s the little things that we take for granted here in America). Regardless, I was bubbling over with excitement. We dropped our bags off at the hotel (too early to check in) and began to explore the city with no map and no real sense of direction.

Thankfully, understanding the train is super easy! We hopped on and went straight to the one monument you can’t NOT see when in Pairs- the Eiffel Tower!

Getting to it was a bit difficult. Parts of the train stations were under construction so we couldn’t directly travel to it (downside of going at the end of summer)? We also had no idea how the bus systems worked (and were told to avoid them). So we did the next best thing, took the train as far as it would take us, and then walked the rest of the way! Going from point A to point B is something everyone gets to do. But, walking around the city and finding your own way is an experience all on its own. We saw parts of Paris we might not have seen if the train had taken us directly to the Tower. So what if we had to walk over a mile? Yes, we were exhausted, but we were in Paris!

I will tell you that the Eifel Tower IS as beautiful as everyone makes it out to be. It was swarming with people (and pickpocketers) and was one of the most beautiful structures I'd ever seen!

The only thing that ruined my experience was almost getting pickpocketed! Sure, we were told to be careful (and we were), they told us that pickpocketing was bad over there (and it is). What we didn’t know though, was what was meant by the term "pickpocketers". This term does not simply mean someone trying to pick your pocket; they actually have clever ways of getting your money. One guy kept trying to show us some sting trick, and he wanted to see my finger (yeah right... nice try). If I was to let him show me this trick, he would then proceed to ask for money since he "entertained us". Some people fall for it. As tourists, we usually accept the best when traveling. Our guards are let down, we begin to relax, we enjoy ourselves and want to socialize with the locals. Unfortunately, they sometimes just want to scam us.

I'm sad to say that we almost got pickpocketed ourselves. Well, not my love, but ME. I almost fell for it (and I thought I never would). I don't remember much, some lady came up really nice and happy, then began to talk about how disabilities are a huge problem over there and that they need a certain amount of signatures to pass some type of law or something. I told her my signature wouldn’t help, since I wasn’t a citizen, but she insisted it would. Thinking no harm would come (and with my bag firmly on my lap, unable to be picked) I figured 'why not'. But, just as I was about to sign it (not with my real name), some old guy emptying the trash in the park began to yell at the 3 of us in French. He then pointed to me and with a heavy accent said "NO" then pointed to her and said "Pick pocket!” Not thinking twice about it, I practically through the clipboard back at the lady. She smiled warmly and tried to say he was wrong, but the old guy would not let this go. He came over to us and kept talking, I turned back around and the lady was gone. For weeks I couldn’t for the life of me understand how I was to be pickpocketed.

Until, I did some research back at home. Apparently, by signing that form I was somehow expected to make a donation to said "law" aka, miss pickpocketers own pocket. So what did we learn?

RULE #1: Don't sign anything, don’t accept anything, don’t ask for anything!

We had lunch, got stuck in the middle of some war reenactment and then went back to our hotel to take a nap. We set our alarm for 1 hour, but slept through it and for an additional 3-4 hours! By the time we awoke half of the city was already closing (Don’t visit Paris on the weekend!).

RULE #2: No matter how jet lagged you are DO NOT take a nap!

Taking the nap screwed our sleep schedule over for the rest of our short trip. We still made the best of it though.The next day was spent walking through the Louvre. Yes, you really should anticipate spending at least a day in there. And yes, it is as beautiful as everyone says it is. All of that history! The grounds themselves! It’s extraordinary, and was my favorite part of the trip. I felt my breath being taken away more times than I remember, some of what I saw even made me tear up. It was beautiful. It was all so beautiful.

I think the wonderful part about visiting here is that it’s expected of you to take breaks and truly enjoy the place! Some people were rushing around taking as many photos as they could. But, what’s the point of that? What kind of experience are you really getting? If you are short on time, see what you've always wanted to see. Please, don’t rush trying to absorb as much as you can. You will regret not enjoying the simplicity of the moment.

(Just look at how beautiful!!)

(Yes, we did see the Mona Lisa, much smaller than you'd expect right?!)

To top this day off we even stumbled into the Notre Dame during mass. Well, not really stumbled, we decided to stop by on our way back to the hotel (waited in line for about an hour), and when we walked in we were promptly ushered to the side as the service began.

What I had witnessed earlier was extraordinary. What I had witnessed then and there was a different type of beauty. I snapped a short video clip, but not wanting to be utterly disrespectful I ended the video and put my phone away. But even so, I had to document it. Hate me if you will. But, there was just something otherworldly about being there while mass was going. I can’t explain it. You’ll have to take my word on it, and I encourage you to one day visit during mass.

RULE #3: Even though you are a tourist it does not give you the right to be disrespectful!

Until next month, happy travels!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Back to the beginning of our first adventure, FLORIDA!

I think it’s safe to say that Connor and I have caught the travel bug. This is actually saying something since we are both students of aviation and have always had a passion for travel. Our appetite for traveling has amplified. It’s like the thrill of finally mastering a skill. Take swimming for instance, when you are learning you really are swimming, but it’s not until you finally can do it all on your own that you get really excited about it. After that, you don’t want to leave the pool. All you can think about is going back out to swim again and then taking it to the next level, like swimming in an actual lake. That is what traveling has become to Connor and I. We have mastered the art of traveling. We know exactly when to leave for the airport, when the lines at TSA will be bad, what snacks are best to take on a flight, how much we really need to pack, what items to keep on our smaller luggage that we put under the seat in front of us, what to wear on the flight that will also be comfortable and look good once we get to our destination. We have finally mastered traveling.

So, when Connor asked me around 7pm Friday night if I wanted to catch a redeye to Florida, with less than 15 min to pack, I knew the answer was yes before I even spoke it. The thing with Florida is that it’s “our” place. It was where we began our original adventure. Together we left Washington State to move down there for schooling. We had no one down there, we were all alone, it could have broken us, but instead it brought us together. It’s where I really truly fell in love with Connor. This also means we have friends down there. In actuality, Florida is an easy trip to us. We have friends who picked us up and let us spend the weekend with them. Lounging on the beach the whole time? No wonder I wasn’t prepared to head back home for another 40 hour work week.

Yeah, have I mentioned that I work 40 hours a week? I leave around 8am, and don’t get home till around 7pm, Monday- Friday. Connor works 3am-3pm Tuesday-Thursday. If we can travel like this, so can you. Is it easy? Not always. Am I exhausted when I come home? Yes, especially when we leave Friday evenings and don’t get back home till Sunday evenings. Do I dread coming back to work? You have no idea, it’s incredibly depressing. It’s traveling that keeps me going though. I wake up on Mondays and count down how many days I have left until I can hop on another plane to another faraway place.

Until next month, happy travels!


Monday, July 7, 2014

A Weekend in Washington DC

Back in high school they had this awesome deal for students if they wanted to go to Washington DC for the summer- at the time I had little interest to go. Yet, the moment it was too late to sign up, I regretted it and promised myself I would one day travel there. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that 5 months into my journey I’d find a way to fly out to the DC area. While everyone I loved and knew was celebrating the 4th of July with awesome food, great drinks, and killer fireworks, we were just taking off on a redeye to DC.

As we took off, we were welcomed into the sky with a vast display of color. One moment we were submerged in color, the next we were watching the colors fade beneath us. Back in the sky. It seems I spend more of my time up there than I do in my own home these days. Then again, I was made for the sky. If you’ve read my aviation journey then you would understand.. But alas we are talking about my travel adventures not my flight ones! I just want to say one thing, redeye flights suck. Really badly. You’re super tired, but trying to sleep sitting upright is extremely uncomfortable. Not to mention the flight attendants don’t seem to be effected by the time and seem to talk the entire flight to each other (I don’t know how you guys do it- but could you pass some of that energy to me?). Once it’s finally time for landing you take a quick look at yourself, stiff neck, smeared makeup, bags under those blood shot eyes, and hair a frantic mess. This new looks gives hung over me a run for her money..

Fortunately, there’s nothing like natural sunlight and a new place to send a burst of energy through your tired bones! Before I get into the meat and bones of this post, I cannot rant and rave enough about how awesome the Holiday Inn in DC is! Seriously, they let us check in at 8am -no extra charge- and the manager was super nice to us our entire stay. The price was also affordable. If you don’t know where you want to stay I recommend hitting them up. They have a shuttle to and from the airport- free of charge- and they also shuttle you to the metro. Once you get to the metro station, DC is literally in the palm of your hand. Where do you want to go? Doesn’t matter, I bet the metro can take you there for a small fee.

We saw quite a lot, yet at the same time we didn’t see enough as we would have liked. We managed to see Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the World War II Memorial, went to Lafayette Park, the Washington Monument, the White House and the National Air and Space Museum. The sad part? We missed seeing a lot. It’s true, you cannot see all of DC in one trip- so fear not, I will be visiting again soon!

If I was only aloud to give 1 reason why Washington D.C. is a worthy place to visit, besides the abundance of activities, I would recommend it simply for the ease of traveling between monuments. They have an awesome capital bike share program. At first it seems confusing, but that’s only because it’s such a simple idea. I’ll try and break it down for you. They have bikes everywhere that you can essentially rent, or use. You pay $8 per bike using a card (they need some way to charge you if you never return the bike), with this $8 you become a ‘member’. Your first 30 minutes are free on that bike (go over 30 min and you pay more), but here’s the cool part. Its 30 min on EACH bike. So, if you don’t want to pay an extra fee you just ride to whatever monument you want to see, and there almost always is another bike location where you can drop off your bike. So, drop off your bike, see the monument, come back get another bike, and the time restarts (another 30 min to get to another bike location) without you having to pay again. So long as you keep switching bikes within the 30 minutes, you don’t get changed anything more. It’s pretty great. And seeing as how I hadn’t been on a bike in years, it’s was exhilarating! But, if you have a helmet at home, you probably should bring one with you on your trip! On another note, I did not see any bikes for kids.

So far, DC has been my favorite place we've traveled by air (Cannon Beach was by car). Well, actually, it ties with Vegas. Hands down, I know I will be back, I have so much more to see. Thinking about going to DC? Trying to figure out how your day will go? Any questions? Feel free to message me!

Until next month, happy travels.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cannon Beach for the Mom's Birthday

Oh, Cannon Beach, I love you so! If you live in the Pacific Northwest and have never been to Cannon Beach, well, shame on you! Seriously though, it’s the cutest little town on the coast. It’s where Connor and I spent our first Valentines together. And Haystack Rock is killer awesome in person. But onto the trip itself, we decided to celebrate my mom’s birthday here this year. It’s the only time she forces herself to go on vacation (on her birthday). Needless to say, this trip was less about us really ‘traveling’ and more about my mother. I was so busy watching my little sister I didn’t really get to enjoy myself too much. Though, we did take her to Seaside and went to an arcade, then spoiled her with ice cream and salt water taffy (for the record, the salt water taffy here DOES NOT taste as good as San Francisco..). Anyway…

Until next month, happy travels!


Monday, May 19, 2014


I went to Vegas, holler! Oh wait, this is my third time being here... Hmmm.. This will be the best blog post ever from me. You ready for this?

So Vegas went something like this, we got off the plane. A day or two passed. We got back on the plane. And everything in the middle is zapped from my memory. I’m actually not kidding.. And no I wasn’t drunk the entire time.. I’m pretty sure we went to see one of Connors best friends who lives in Vegas. He stayed at the hotel with us. Connor won money on the grandfather slot machine. And I got free drinks. Yup. That about sums up what I remember.

Until next month…? Happy Travels!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hop to Minneapolis Hop Back to Seattle

So... Did you know that I lived in Florida for a bit while attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University? If not, you do now. But, I bet you didn’t know that Florida has Chik-Fil-A (CFA) and Washington doesn’t (though we’re supposed to be getting it soon). Anyway, loooong story short. Connor and I have been craving some killer chicken burgers for a while. So, we decided to fly to Mini for lunch (since they have CFA in the airport) and then fly back. So, yup. That’s what we did. Even had the same crew..

And before you ask, CFA at the airport does NOT taste the same. But, it did kill the cravings!

Until next month (for real), happy travels!


Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Day Spent in San Francisco!

So, I guess we decided yesterday we were going to hop on a flight down to SanFran since I've never been. A 5am wakeup call on my day off seems like a small price to pay for spending the day in Cali. It’s like asking a kid to go to sleep early on Christmas Eve, obviously they don’t want to, but if it means opening presents sooner they sure as hell will! Also, hello… It’s a DAY trip to CALI! Who does that?! I do now apparently!

Skipping to the awesome part, we got FIRST CLASS! Say what? That’s right. First class. My first ever first class experience. It was pretty great. Free breakfast that was actually HEALTHY.

It shouldn’t be surprising to note that the city was socked in. Thankfully, by the time we landed and got into the city it was basically gone and clear, though a little chilly. San Fransico sort of reminded me of a more fluffy Seattle, if that makes sense? Not a bad fluffy, just fluffy. Like how some pillows are feather fluffy and others are just cotton fluffy… ya know?

Well, the day went great. We landed about 8am, took the BART into the city and had one hell of a date! We shopped along Pier 39, stumbled onto a farmers market, ate at a restaurant overlooking the water, and bought tons of salt water taffy to bring back home. I’m not sure how long we roamed the city, but before I knew it we were rushing back to the airport and running to get to our gate on time (no first class this time, darn!).


Until next month, happy travels!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico! Or, the Start of Our Year of Traveling!

Our first adventure of many to come; Puerto Vallarta. Not my first choice, but the man behind the scenes (aka Connor) insisted on taking me for my birthday.

Unfortunately, this wonderful book has been the highlight of this trip. Okay, maybe the trip didn’t completely suck. The fruit and the orange juice were pretty damn good.

Let’s skip the beginning of our arrival and jump right into walking into the hotel. Yeah, that’s a pretty good place to start. Okay, so we walk into the HOTEL NAME. To say it was full of spring breakers is an understatement. It wasn’t just full, but crammed, like trying to squeeze 12 colored pencils into a case that can only hold 10. It’s just uncomfortable and it doesn’t look good. After about 30 minutes of waiting patiently to reach the desk, we get up there only to be told our room wasn’t ready yet and that it would take 20 minutes or so. Magically, within 5 minutes our room was ready. No complaints here though, we were excited to put our bags into the room and head to the pool!

Except, when we got to the room it was a complete mess. It looked like all they did was change the sheets…. Well when in Mexico I guess? We decided to embrace it, holding onto the moment with white finger tips. We were here to have a good time, and by golly (yes I did just say that), we were going to enjoy ourselves! Right after we got some food though.

The plan was simple: Food, pool, ocean.

We made sure to pay extra for all inclusive wrist bands so that we could eat and drink as much to our hearts content. Unfortunately, the main restaurant was closed for the weekend due to the spring breakers. The other two cafes were closed for the evening and all that was open was the buffet by the pool. Fine by us! Yet, the food was cold. And there were flys and all sorts of winged bugs on the food because nothing was covered. My stomach grumbled. My mouth watered. I forced down a comple bites of potato, but when a fly buzzed away from beneath my food, I couldnt stomach any more. I packed some granola bars; those would be dinner.

By this point, I was getting agitated. I needed a drink. I asked the bartender to make me something fruity (we are in mexico right?). He gave me waterd down vodka and pineapple juice. Or maybe it was just water and pineapple juice because I couldnt taste the alcohol.

Happy Birthday to me! By this point, it was pretty evident our stay wasn’t about to be as wonderful as originally discussed. We decided to forgo the pool and take a nap instead.

Upon waking up (an hour later) the entire hotel was pretty much abandoned. Not a soul in sight.. well there was one drunk guy… We walked to the beach. It was beautiful. The water was cold. But peaceful, nonetheless. We decided then and there not to spend another night in that hotel. We canceled the next 2 nights, and booked ourselves on the next flight home in the morning. When we got back to the hotel, Connor went out to find us dinner since the ‘resort’ only had the buffet open. The extra money we paid for all inclusive was laughable.Thankfully, the food that Connor brought back was mouthwatering delicious. The best Mexican food I had ever had. It was something local, from a hole in the wall. But it was perfect in such an imperfect moment.

The next morning we both agreed to get out of that crappy hotel and see what else Puerto Vallarta had to offer. We walked around the water, went to a mini farmers market like place. The second day was much better. It made me want to reconsider staying.

And the orange juice, fresh squeezed orange juice, the best I’ve ever had- scratch that the best we’ve ever had.

Will we come back to this hotel? Never. Will we go with an all-inclusive package again? Not until we see what the restaurants/food and drinks they offer look like. Will we come back to Puerto Vallarta? Maybe...

Would I recommend it to you? Depends on what you’re looking for in your vacation.

Until next month, happy travels!