only a month later: the 4th weekend.

For crying out loud, Sarah! When are you ever going to post right after an event happens?! Well, I guess it’s better late than never.

We spent our 4th of July weekend up at my parents’ place, and we did the usual – family time, barbecue, and fireworks. No complaints there! Well, the heat was definitely a complaint, but other than that, it was all good.

As you can see, it looked pretty eventful.

I still need to post about Nat’s bridal shower. Perhaps I’ll actually get to that before their wedding day, haha! We shall see.

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when you wish upon a star.

My cousin had never been to Disneyland before, so we thought it would be fun to take her as a reward for getting such good grades this past school year! It’s always fun to take a first-timer to Disneyland; it’s like you can feel their anticipation and excitement. I mean, c’mon, even when you’re a grown adult, you’re excited. Need proof? See picture below, haha.

Her first character meeting was with Mickey, but I don’t have that on my SLR. Those are all on G’s phone. How cool is that?! Meeting Mickey right when you enter the park!

The kiddo was super excited to drive! Who wouldn’t be excited to drive in Disneyland [especially when the wait time for Autopia was only ten minutes]?!

Below is a picture of us before doing Haunted Mansion. Surprisingly, the wait time for this ride was only five minutes. Yippee!

After Haunted Mansion, they all went on Splash Mountain [I always sit this one out].

You can’t go to Disneyland without taking the obligatory castle photo and playing in Fantasyland.

I love my cousin’s commentary on the It’s a Small World ride: “These dolls are creepy”. Gotta love a nine year old’s remarks!

We also played in the wacky Toon Town.

In hindsight, I should’ve taken more pictures. I kept forgetting to take the camera out. Argh! I guess there’s always next time. Anyway, here are a few more random photos from our day in Disneyland:

Yup, there you have it, K’s first time in Disneyland. She really enjoyed it, so I’m pretty sure we’ll be coming back with her again next year.

Wishing everyone a wonderful [and safe] 4th of July!

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hello, yosemite.

It had been about a year since our last trip out to Yosemite, so being back in the park was much needed. This time it was for our annual summer get together with the family. We brought the dogs; they are, indeed, a part of our family.

The next morning the dogs jumped into the The Burley, and we took a bike ride around the valley floor. The dogs love the ride!

We biked to the trail head of Lower Yosemite Falls and took the dogs on a short morning walk to the bottom of the falls.

We continued to loop around the valley and even stopped to enjoy the views of the meadows.

Later that afternoon, we drove up to Glacier Point to enjoy the view. I have to admit, the view from up here never gets old.

On the way back to our campsite, Maui and Hilo were taking total advantage of Grandma and Granpda, haha! Free love and scratches.

Last but not least, my parents were totally utilizing the Christmas present we got them, an Eno hammock. Silly parents!

Although our trip was short, it was still a fun little getaway for the weekend. Hopefully, we’ll be able to visit before the season ends because I really want to get back on the trails [without the dogs, of course]. I still want to conquer some of the more strenuous ones. Maybe one day.

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hello, seattle.

Now on to my recap about our Pacific Northwest [mostly Seattle] trip earlier this month.

We landed late afternoon, so by the time we arrived at the W Seattle, we were in need of some dinner. We hit up Nijo Sushi, which I thought was delightful.

What a great way to start off eating in this foodie city! We then walked towards the pier to watch the sunset.

The next morning we drove to Olympic National Park. The neat thing about this particular park is the different terrains. On the coastal side sits the Pacific Ocean; whereas on the other side, it has gorgeous mountain ranges.

We hit up the coastal side first.

…and we hiked down to the picturesque beach to play in the tidepools.

We saw a handful of orcas playing off the coast, but unfortunately, I didn’t have the camera ready in time to snap pictures. It was my first time seeing them in the wild. Totally frightening!

I forgot to mention that Olympic National Park also has rainforest terrain. We spent some time walking the rainforest floor, and it was a wonderful breath of fresh air.

We then ventured towards the coast again. We passed the city of Forks along the way. Yes, that’s the vampire/werewolf town from the Twilight books. No, we didn’t see any crazy creatures. Haha! I did find it funny that there were people posing next to the Twilight signs and posters, haha!

The coast is so picturesque. Quite honestly, I have hundreds of photos, but I’ll spare you from looking at all of them.

We eventually made it up towards Hurricane Ridge, where there’s a phenomenal view of the mountain range located inside Olympic National Park.

Don’t the hills resemble the hills from the Sound of Music?! That was what I first thought when we got to the top. Anyway, aren’t the views incredible?!

By the time we got back into the city, it was pretty late, so we decided to have dinner at Shuckers Oyster Bar in the Fairmont.

Mmm, it was delicious, especially the slice of chocolate cake!

The next day [while G had to go to some work thing] I went to meet up with one of my high school friends to explore the city. I love all of the vibrant colors in the market.

We also checked out the gum wall again. It always grosses me out, so I have no idea why I took pictures of it.

We also had to drop in for a coffee at the first Starbucks store.

Later that evening, we had dinner on the waterfront at The Crab Pot. If you order the strawberry rhubarb, just know that it’s a whole loaf of yellow cake! I was expecting a slice of cake, and our waiter came out with a whole loaf pan. Needless to say, we didn’t finish even half of it, haha!

On a different day [after G was done working], we visited the Chihuly Garden and Glass venue. I love his work, so to see a handful of it was spectacular. The glass pieces looked incredible.

…and I had to take obligatory photos of the Space Needle. We decided not to go to the top because we went up it a couple of years ago, so I just snapped photos from below.

On our last day in the city, we drive a couple of hours to visit Mount Rainier National Park. It’s definitely a sight to see. I was actually surprised that the majority of the snow hadn’t melted down yet.

Some of the snow obviously melted because the park houses waterfalls all around the park. Here are just a couple of them:

After we visited the park, it was time to head back to the airport. Thank goodness our flight wasn’t too delayed.

It was nice to spend a week up in the Pacific Northwest, but it felt nice to be flying back home. Actually, after a month of being on the road, it was nice to finally spend some time at home. I love traveling and all, but sometimes, there’s nothing like being in the comfort of your own home.

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hello, washington, d.c.

After spending the week[end] with my parents, G and I thought it would be fun to drive down to Washington, D.C. and spend Memorial Day there. We didn’t stay long, but it was still fun to check out some of the sites.

Here are some snapshots of the Washington and Jefferson Memorials:

Then, we walked along Pennsylvania Avenue and peeked through the gates to see the White House.

We also got to see the historical United State Supreme Court. It’s neat to witness where our country’s laws get passed.

It was really hot and humid that day, so we scurried across the street to check out the United State Capitol. The architecture on this building is incredible.

Lastly, we stopped by the Library of Congress.

Before the sun started to set, we needed to head back up towards NYC.

Although it was only for a short time period, it was fun to enjoy the holiday exploring our nation’s capitol. I managed to obtain a ton of NPS cancellation stamps in just one day, so I’m excited about that. Hopefully, next time we will have more time to check out all of the Smithsonians. In the mean time, I’m just happy that we got to visit.

I still have more blogging to come. The Pacific Northwest post is coming soon!

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hello again, nyc.

I have been in and out of NYC this past year a handful of times, and I’m totally in love with the city life. It’s like I can’t get enough of it. The last time I was in the city, however, was different. We invited my parents to come hang out with us for the week. We spent the week showing them all of the tourist traps [and eating delicious food].

Before we actually headed into the city, we were stationed in Bergen County. We took Mom and Dad out to dinner at Gao Thai Kitchen, one of my favorite Thai restaurants in the tri-state area. I’m glad they both really loved it.

We even took them to have their first Shake Shack experience. Mom totally loved the ‘shroom burger just like I expected [we like the same kinds of food], and Dad really enjoyed his frozen custard.

On our first day in the city, I showed them how to use the subway.

Then, it was off to Battery Park to catch our ferry to Liberty Island.

It was a foggy day in the city, so I didn’t get a clear shot of the skyline, but we still had fun taking pictures in front of Lady Liberty.

After walking around Liberty Island, we hopped on the ferry to get to Ellis Island. I love the historical aspect of this island; there is so much to see [and learn].

…and then, we tried taking pictures with the skyline in the background, but the fog wouldn’t dissipate.

We spent time examining the name wall, then back on the ferry to Manhattan.

Next stop on our agenda was the Wall Street area. I took them to Federal Hall first because I needed to get my NPS cancellation stamp [yup, I collect those stamps].

Showed my parents the NYSE.

…and the famous Grand Central terminal as well:

The next day, we had to take them to [in my opinion, the best ramen ever!] Ippudo. Just as expected, they absolutely loved their bowls of ramen.

G and I took them to Times Square. They were in awe of all the lights.

..and before heading back to the Westin Grand Central, I wanted to make a stop in Soho to do some shopping with Mom.

I forgot to take pictures of our spacious suite before we got situated, but here’s some pretty views from our the window:

The next morning we all went to mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Afterwards, we headed towards the Rockefeller Plaza.

We were fortunate that it was a clear day because the views from up top the Rockefeller were ideal.

Everytime I see this picture of my Dad, I can’t help but laugh. What a goofball!

For lunch, we grabbed a beat to eat at the Chelsea Market, and later stopped to eat up on the Chelsea Highline.

Before we headed back to the hotel to rest up, we stopped at Washington Square Park [my favorite spot on the Manhattan map], just to enjoy the warm weather.

Later that afternoon, my parents really wanted to see the 9/11 Memorial site. They haven’t been in the city since 2004 [it still looked like Ground Zero then], so it has drastically changed since then. Besides, it was only a couple days after the new museum’s opening, so it was a perfect opportunity to take them.

Being by the Freedom Towers always gets me. If you plan on visiting the Memorial, expect a lot of graphic images and videos of the events that happened that day. If you don’t want to relive the events of the day, I don’t recommend walking through parts of the museum. It was pretty hard for me to get through it because I remember the terror I felt that day so vividly.

The next day, we dropped my parents off at the airport, and on to Washington, D.C. it was for me and G. I’ll save that for another post though. It feels like I’m never going to catch up with all of this blogging, hehe.

Stay tuned!

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hello, italy.

After a quick flight [with gorgeous views] over the Alps, we landed in Milan, Italy. It was late by the time we got to our hotel, and I was just so happy to get situated after being in transit for over 17 productive hours.

It was nice to call the Westin Palace our home for the next couple of days. They allotted us with a pretty nifty suite. When you walked into the suite, it felt like you went back in time. It truly felt like some sort of palace with the crystal chandeliers, gold fixtures and doorknobs, and marble walls and floors. The details were incredible!

When you walked into the suite, the hallway consisted of mirrors that opened up with tons of closet space [perfect for all that Milan shopping!].

If you walked further in, here’s what it looked like:

…and when you’re running on minimal sleep, you start turning fancy decorative chairs into “harp chairs”, haha!

We even had a private terrace on our floor that we could lounge in if we wanted. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to take advantage of the aperitivo here. It had pretty views of the city though.

After showering and unpacking, we met up with a good high school friend, Claud [aka Dino], who lives in Milan. Thank goodness Dino lives in Milan; we were taught how to use their public transportation [in my opinion, it's surprisingly easier than the NYC subway, which I find pretty easy to use]. After a short train ride, we reached Piazza del Duomo, where we had late night dinner at Obikà. Yes, to Italian food!

The view from the restaurant had a pretty awesome view of the Duomo!

I loved the livelihood and culture of the people in Milan! At this point, it was close to midnight [if not past it] and people were still out eating, drinking, and just having a blast. After dinner, we roamed around the square and took pictures.

Not too long after, I was ready to hit the sheets.

**One of the best sleeps I have ever had. Ever.**

It’s amazing what sleep does for one’s body. I slept like a log that night. After being in transit for so long, it felt so nice to sleep for longer than 8 hours straight.

First thing on the day’s agenda, food! Down to the lobby for continental breakfast was our first task.

Then, off to meet up with Dino at the Piazza del Duomo for a fun-filled day.

We hit up the Duomo di Milano first. Can you believe that it took over six centuries to build this Gothic cathedral?! I can. It’s made of marble, and apparently it’s the fifth largest cathedral in the world. Absolutely incredible!

Here’s some snapshots from the inside:

We then waited in a long line to take the elevator up to the top of the Duomo. The wait was well worth it, especially if you get these kinds of views:

We had way too much fun entertaining ourselves up at the top of the Duomo.

We maneuvered our way down the many flights of Duomo stairs [because we didn't want to wait in the horrendously long elevator line], and off to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II we went.

It is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, and we all know how I feel about shopping. My eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning when I walked through these arcades. The glass ceiling arches are made of glass panels and iron, and the floor is a beautiful mosaic tiling. Not only is it beautiful, it is home to fashion’s finest [Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Borsalino just to name a few]. There’s a reason why Milano is deemed a fashion capitol of the world!

Also within the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, there’s this famous Milanese tradition that involves a picture of a bull on the mosaic floor. Rumor has it that if you step on the bull’s testacles with one foot and make a full turn while you wish something, your wish will come true [or you'll visit Milan again in the future]. Odd, I know, but I did it anyway. My wish hasn’t come true quite yet, but maybe one day it will.

After spinning on the bull’s balls [still can't get over how funny that sounds], Dino continued to tour us around the city. We kept the SLR in hand, snapping random photos of the things we saw.

We walked until we got to Castello Sforzesco. A real castle?! Awesomeness! Living in California, there’s not too many real castles for me to visit, so seeing this one was a treat!

Not too far from the grounds of the castle, there’s a really pretty view of the park and Arco della Pace in the distance. I really love this arch because it reminds me of my favorite spot in NYC, Washington Square Park.

For lunch, we ate chicken cotoletta sandwiches and had delicious Italian coffee. Mmm! I don’t have proof of this delicious lunch because I devoured it before I snapped a picture of it, haha! Afterwards, we walked to get dessert. Yup, we went to get gelato. Now that, I have a picture:

After fueling up and resting our feet, off we went. Dino guided us towards the Santa Maria delle Grazie. Located in this church is Leonardo da Vinci’s famous fresco, The Last Supper.

The architecture and the artwork inside the church were phenomenal. Here are photos from the inside:

…and some outside shots:

After scoping out the Santa Maria delle Grazie, we headed towards the Navigli District. I absolutely loved how it was a local spot; it felt like we were getting the full Milanese experience. The shops and restaurants lined both sides of the canals, and I could have spent all day people watching here [or shopping for shoes, which I did].

At night time, this is the place to be if you’re looking for a night out. Let’s just say that I don’t have any pictures from when we went to get aperitivo [or dinner], nor do I remember even getting from the bar to Dino’s cave. I do, however, remember going to dinner.

I’m blaming it on the delicious cocktail drink[s] I had.

It’s unfortunate I don’t have any pictures of my authentic Italian dinner; it was hands down the best gnocchi I have ever eaten.

The following morning, we went back to peruse the Piazza del Duomo [and get another bite of gelato] before we headed back to the airport.

On our way back to Zurich, the views of Milan from the sky were incredible.

…but flying over the Alps was even more breathtaking. It’s crazy how ginormous these mountain ranges really are. I think it’s pretty neat that we actually saw the Matterhorn from the sky.

That concludes our trip to Europe. It was definitely one crazy, long weekend, but I’m glad we did it. The way I see it is summed up in Augustine of Hippo’s quote:

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.

Hopefully, it won’t be too long before our next trip out there.

PS: I have more trips to share. Stay tuned for more blog updates!

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