Category Archives: personal

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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Filed under family, personal, vacation

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!


Filed under family, personal, vacation

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!


Filed under personal, vacation

hello, bora bora.

I decided to take a hiatus from blogging, but it feels great to be back. However, while I was out, lots has happened.

Traveling has kept me [and G] busy in the past four months I’ve been absent. Quite honestly, I wish I blogged about it then so that the memories would still be crisp in my mind. However, I suppose the thousands of photos I took will allow me to remember everything.

I suppose I’ll start off recapping the big event, my 30th birthday. Gloria [majorly] surprised me with a trip to Bora Bora.

Here’s how it went:

We spent the day driving down the coast of California. My only instructions were to pack for sunny, tropical weather. I assumed that we were just doing another one of our drives down the coast.

…but instead, we were headed towards LAX. When we got to the rental car drop off at the airport, I knew we had a flight to catch. My next guess was Hawaii, but we headed towards the international gates. At this point, I knew it was someplace tropical I had never been to before. Once we arrived at the check-in counters for Air Tahiti Nui, I knew exactly where we were going. French Polynesia, here we come!

On our flight to Bora Bora, G was ecstatic that Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue was sitting behind her, haha! He’s the guy directly behind and to the right of her in the picture:

When we got closer towards the island, the view from the sky was incredible. It was unbelievably mesmerizing.

Upon arrival to the island of Bora Bora, the plane parked on the runway. All the passengers deboarded the plane to the adjacent [very little] airport. When you walked into the airport, you looked for your resort’s kiosk stand. In our case, the St. Regis Bora Bora concierge was ready to greet us with a lei and take all of our baggage. Pretty much from the time you arrive, they treat you like royalty. It’s insane!

While the other guests staying at the St. Regis were getting situated, we were told to enjoy the view and get settled in the yacht. Yup, a yacht, which means that from the airport, everyone has to take a boat or yacht to get to their booked resort.

It turns out that Nikki Sixx and his wife were headed to the St. Regis as well, except they were on their private charter [fancy!].

We were ecstatic over the “commoner” yacht, hah! I mean, c’mon, they carried all of our luggage. That was good enough for me!

One of the St. Regis concierge checked us in on the way to the resort, so it bypassed us standing in line in the lobby. Wish this happened for all hotel or resort check ins! The views on the way to the resort were breathtaking, but I got the most excited when the yacht cruised past the bungalows. It looked unreal.

Once we got to the resort, the St. Regis concierge and our personal butler were there to greet us with fresh pineapple juice, cold Evian bottled water, and cooling towels. I wasn’t joking when I said they treat you like royalty once you get there!

Check out this gorgeous lobby!

After taking a handful of pictures, our butler, Carmen, toured us around the huge property in a golf cart.

Everything still felt surreal when we got to our bungalow. We walked in, and I literally had to pinch myself just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. By the time we got there, all of our luggage was already placed in our walk-in closet. Um, hello!? Yes, to the St. Regis butler service!

Here’s a peek into our Bora Bora home:

I couldn’t get enough of the glass floor bottoms all over the bungalow. It was so neat to watch the sea life when they’d swim by.

Because we had been in transit for a long time, I wanted to get settled and take a shower. G told me that when I was in the shower the concierge came by and dropped off SPG platinum complimentary gifts. At this point, I thought they sent over a couple of cookies or treats like they typically do when we stay at other SPG resorts. Boy, was I wrong! They royally spoil their SPG platinum guests!

If you know me, you’d know that I’m in love with French desserts, and those treats totally hit the spot. The lemon meringue was to die for, and those macarons were heavenly. After stuffing our faces with yummy delectables, we decided to get out and explore the resort.

Even after our serene walk to the main lobby, it still hadn’t hit me that we were in Bora Bora to celebrate my 30th birthday! It was when I walked towards the resort’s dock when I realized, “Holy crap! I’m in Bora Bora? …Oh my gosh! I’m in Bora Bora!”

We continued to walk around and stumbled upon the cruisers to get around the resort [that is, if you didn’t want your butler to drive you around]. Getting around on the cruisers was so much fun, especially when we got to explore all parts of the resort.

We found the resort’s lagoon with all kinds of marine life. They maintain it on an everyday basis, so guests can snorkel in there.

We even found the resort’s very own heliport [oh you know, for the rich and famous] with the gorgeous views of the open ocean. It’s on the backside of the resort, and you pretty much have to ride your bike through a dirt path. There’s tons of sharp rock on the path, so you have to be careful! It’s worth the ride though!

After playing on the backside, we went to explore the main beach on the resort.

Before the sunset, we wanted to play on our bungalow’s deck, so we hurried home on our cruisers. We were so ocean ready!

The following day was March 18th, my birthday! The sunrise was nothing like I had ever seen. It really took my breath away. What a way to have started off my 30th!

We got ready [slabbed on tons of sunblock], packed for a fun-filled day out at sea, and took our cruisers down to breakfast. We had to take advantage of their delicious breakfast. My gosh, their breakfast was amazing! Fresh tropical fruit. Yummy French inspired pastries. Charcuterie and cheeses galore. Freshly marinated olives and tapenades. Caviars and tartars. Omelettes. Freshly squeezed tropical juices. And to top it all off, they had a separate menu, which you ordered off of right after they pulled your chair out and laid your napkin on your lap. Royalty treatment, I tell ya!

…and I ordered the eggs benedict off of the menu.

Fueled up and ready to hit the ocean, we took off on our sea-fari.

It was incredible to see such untouched waters of the world. The water was so incredibly clear [and turquoise].

One of the most memorable things I have ever done in my life – swam with reef sharks and sting rays! It wasn’t scary at all. The sharks are friendly, and they mind their own business.

After swimming with the sharks and rays and playing in the coral gardens of Bora Bora, we headed back to our resort to play in the lagoon. There were some massive fish in there [about 5 feet long].

…and the birthday fun continued:

We even played a game of pool in the club lounge [which I got my butt whooped]. I didn’t care, though. It was my birthday and we were in Bora Bora!

We spent more time lounging on the beach and enjoying the walk up bar in the pool.

The day was PERFECT, in every sense of the word, but it just kept getting better. Carmen, our butler, notified us that we had to switch rooms, but we wouldn’t be disappointed. They upgraded us for my birthday to the royal over the water bungalow! Mind you, this is the bungalow you always see in the pictures of Bora Bora when you google it.

When Carmen drove us up to the bungalow, I was shocked. We had our own entry way with our very own doorbell. You open the door, and there’s a walkway to our very own private two bedroom, two bathroom bungalow, with our very own private pool.

Upon entry, there’s a main living room.

…and it’s pretty much the same set up inside as our first night, except there’s double of everything.

Below is a picture of Gloria and Carmen walking on the deck.

To make things even better, when I was in the shower, there was a special delivery just for me. Courtesy of the pastry chef of the resort, we were sent my very own birthday cake! It’s one of the best cakes I have ever had. It looks small in the pictures below, but it was much bigger in person [and so very filling].

To top of the night, we heard fireworks nearby. Sure enough, the Four Seasons resort [which is across the water] had a fireworks show going on. I’m not sure why, but we’ll just keep thinking it was in celebration of my 30th, haha! It was so beautiful; the island is so remote, so the lights glistened on the water.

The following day we woke up at the crack of dawn just to watch the sun rise. The colors in the sky were lit up, and it looked so magical.

For the rest of the day, we pretty much swam in our pool, played in the ocean, and lounged around on our deck.

That night we hopped on over to the Le Meridien, as there was no availability left at the St. Regis for the last night we were on the island. It wasn’t as fancy as the St. Regis, but it was still nice [with gorgeous views] for a Starwood property.

Below are some photos from the inside of our bungalow. It had a huge glass floor bottom, a walk in closet, and super modern bathroom.

We played on our deck a lot. Well, we mostly watched the sea creatures that swam under and around the bungalow.

While we were outside on our deck, we heard someone knock on our front door. It was the concierge dropping off more gifts. Yummy macarons, delicious macaroons, and fancy champagne to end the night!

While we were there, we also got to see hawksbill turtles.

…and we snorkeled some more. Seriously, I can’t get tired of playing in the ocean!

Sadly, this was the last sunrise we saw on our vacation, and it has been missed since I last saw it.

Best vacation of my life. Ever. Until I go back, I’m not sure what could top this trip. I feel so incredibly blessed to have been given the opportunity to see this part of the world. I have left a piece of my heart there, so I know I’ll have to go back in the future. Hopefully soon, I’ll be basking in the sun on the beautiful island of Bora Bora once again.


Filed under beach, family, personal, vacation

our kayak adventure

Yup, a post is definitely overdue. I was meaning to write about our water adventure a few weeks back, but I never got around to it. Eh, well here goes.

Earlier this month, we decided that it had been almost a year since our last kayak adventure. It was definitely time for a kayak excursion. Early one Saturday morning, we went to our favorite kayaking spot in Monterey Bay. We spent a few hours paddling out and enjoying the pretty views.



We spotted a crap load of sea nettles, a raft of otters, and so many seals. Definitely an awesome sight to see.





I think the best part about this adventure was that we packed food and water in our water sack, and we had a picnic sitting in our kayak on the water. Food? On a kayak? Yes, please!

Me wants to do this again soon! Hopefully, it won’t be another year when we next kayak.


Filed under beach, personal, vacation