Epic vacation in California. 5 things you must do.

Epic vacation in California. 5 things you must do.

I’m going, going, back, back, to Cali, Cali- for sure!

I recently returned from a great vacation in California. I live on the East Coast, but the West Coast is the best coast… totally kidding. But seriously,  the West Coast was fun.

This was the big family trip that we do yearly with the kids and our dog. Hubs found a really dope Airbnb in West Hollywood for us to stay in. A cute 3 bedroom ranch, with use of the private pool. Much better than staying at a hotel and dealing with a bunch of other guests.

We went to Beverly Hills, Santa Monica Pier, downtown LA, all over Hollywood and more. We also visited Calabasas. I was determined to spot a Kardashian, or Justin Bieber, and I just knew that I would find them on the streets of Calabasas. Wrong! I saw no one! My son swears that he saw rapper T.I. driving while we were in Beverly Hills, however, the verdict is still out on if that was really him or not. The vehicle in question was going way too fast.

I wanted to share the places I visited, in case you’re planning a trip there soon.

Santa Monica Pier

The pier was great! There were lots of options of fun things to do. You can lay out on the sand, swim, there were rides, games, food, music, or you can just walk the pier.

Universal Studios

Universal was epic! There was so much to see and do, it would take me all day and night to tell you guys. The highlight of this day for me was taking the 2 hour tour through Universal Studios, and seeing where blockbuster movies were filmed. We saw the location of  scenes from Jaws, and Fast and Furious. Also saw the actual Bates Motel and took a drive through Wisteria Lane. If you don’t know what that is, then we can’t be friends. Sorry, not sorry. Wisteria Lane looks like a posh neighborhood. I drooled over the beautiful houses and tree lined streets while watching Desperate Housewives, but they are all just empty shells and props. Who knew!

We saw city streets and large buildings made to look like the streets of Manhattan in NYC, but again, just empty shells. Don’t believe what you see on TV, kids.

Hubs went to the Walking Dead tour and loved all the gore and zombies and such. I wanted no parts of it, but went with him unwillingly. Wife duties, ya know. Sigh.

TMZ tour

Do I even need to explain!? The TMZ tour was hilarious. It was also 2 hours. We drove around downtown LA, Beverly Hills, and saw the clubs and fancy restaurants that the celebrities frequent. We also got to see a really popular plastic surgeon’s office that had touched the faces and bodies of many celebrities. The bus tour was sold out and there were lots of jokes and laughter throughout the entire ride.

Hollywood Boulevard

The streets of Hollywood Blvd was packed just liked Times Square in NYC. We saw the stars of our favorite celebrities, saw the famous Chinese theater, and went to the Hollywood wax museum.

Griffith Observatory

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Griffith Observatory was like something out of a movie. To get there, we drove around a narrow winding road, up the mountains, with no railings to protect you from literally driving off the road and plunging down the side of the mountains. Like, LA, what’s good?? Ha. Any way, after driving for what seemed like forever, and parking, we then had to walk up several hills, again with no protective railing to prevent you from falling down a cliff if you happen to slip and fall. Yikes! Here you got a chance to overlook the city and of course, see the Hollywood sign.

The trip was great, and very relaxing. The next time, I want to visit Malibu and San Fran. If you have been to Cali, where did you go, what did you do? If you haven’t been? What are you waiting for?!

With love,

Nicky

My trip to Puerto Rico + why taking a break is vital for your sanity.

My trip to Puerto Rico + why taking a break is vital for your sanity.

 

It’s the last Saturday of 2017!! If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a good one. I contemplated taking down my Christmas decorations today, but will wait until January 2nd like I normally do.

So, I ‘ve been meaning to post my trip to PR for months now, but never got around to doing it.  I went there this past summer.

My friend Sharon had always dreamed of exchanging vows on the beach in PR. After she got engaged, she decided to make that dream a reality. She asked me to be her bride’s maid and I was happy and looking forward to sharing in her big day. As it got closer to the trip, my mom’s health had declined so much, that I decided I was going to have to miss not only the trip to PR but more importantly, the vow exchange. My friend understood that this was a difficult time for me. She told me she would understand if I chose not to travel during such a terrible time. I really appreciated her understanding and compassion.

Then, my mom actually passed away. I shared that story on the blog already. If you missed it and you’re interested in catching up, please click here.

As you can imagine, after losing a loved one, I wasn’t in the mood to laugh and be around people at all. My fiancé insisted that I go to PR to try to clear my mind. After wrestling with the idea for a few weeks, I decided that going would be a good thing for me. I would get to see my friend exchange her vows, visit someplace I’d never been and just have a break and nice change of scenery. At that time, I was in some sort of grief trance that had taken over my mind, heart and spirit. I am glad I pushed myself to go.

We stayed in San Juan. The weather was absolutely perfect the entire time that I was there. It was warm during the day and cooler at nights. The vow exchange was dreamy, and I cried as my friend experienced one of the happiest days of her life.

Our hotel was literally on the beach. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Isla Verde. Our room overlooked the water and the customer service was 5 star. Oh, there was also a casino downstairs, a bar, live music, and a restaurant.

The food around town was delicious! I’m Caribbean, so I already have an innate love for beans, rice, and plantains. I ate way too much of it and enjoyed every second. I just couldn’t get enough! We also did a lot of fun things. Here are some of them:

  1. We went on a tour bus through the city of San Juan.
  2. Went on a boat ride.
  3. Accidently walked into a peaceful protest in front of the governor’s house. I wish I knew what the protest was about.
  4. Partied the night away at La Placita. It was one long block filled with multiple bars, lounges and clubs. We went in and out of various ones, dancing and having a great time.
  5. Went on a really dope tour of the Bacardi Distillery and learned all about how the company started, and how their famous drinks are made.

Waiting for the boat to arrive in downtown San Juan IMG_1305IMG_1303

Bacardi Distillery Tour IMG_1306 copy-2

Sugar Cane at the Bacardi DistilleryIMG_1302-2

 

Bus tour through San JuanIMG_1265

That’s the bride in the middle on her big day, along with my friend Lisa. IMG_1285

Though I was in the very beginning stages of grieving the loss of my mom, this trip was vital for my sanity.  I had been spending my days and nights in my bedroom, crying. For 3 days I got to experience a new environment and was out of my sad reality.  Though I was feeling sadness, I was also able to experience a little bit of joy each day we were there. I tried hard to just focus on my friend and her special day, and experiencing PR together with my fiancé since neither of us had been there before. Also, I had quiet time with God. On the beach, I prayed and asked God to help with the pain I was experiencing internally. Overall, it was well worth the trip and from a sanity stand point, that short trip might have saved me.

Have you guys been to PR? If so, do tell! I look forward to more traveling in 2018 and have started the planning already. On the list for the upcoming year is, California, NYC, either Paris or Jamaica and possibly DC!

Courtyard Marriott Isla Verde

Bacardi Distillery 

With Love,

Nicky