Palos Verdes, CA: Hiking and Other Highlights

Those of you that regularly read our blog know that I enjoy hiking, so during my last trip to LA I wanted do more.  Given that I was staying with my friend Kat in Redondo Beach, we figured we should try something in that area.  We settled on hiking the Oceanside Abalone Cove Trail in Palos Verdes, which is about 17 miles south of LAX.  We figured before the hike we could check out the Glass Church (also known as the Wayfarer’s Chapel) and then afterwards we could relax and listen to some live music at the Terranea resort.  My cousin, Jonathan, joined us for our day in Palos Verdes.

Anisa with her cousin Jonathan
Anisa with her cousin Jonathan

The Glass Church is basically a church with walls and ceiling that are mostly glass.  It is set on the top of a beautifully landscaped hill with stunning views of the Palos Verdes coast.  The church has appeared on several tv shows like the OC, 90210, and Revenge. Season nine Bachelorette Desiree Hartsock and new husband Chris Siegfried got married here.  Lloyd Wright, who is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s sons, was the architect of the church, and his son Eric Lloyd Wright designed the Visitor’s center.  You should check out the Visitor Center before heading up to see the church.   (more…)

The Best Pintxos Cooking Class Ever!

Food is definitely one of the reasons I wanted to visit San Sebastian in Basque Country.  There are more Michelin starred restaurants per capita than anywhere else.  In Basque Country, they love pintxos which are small plates similar to tapas.  Pintxos get their name from the word “pincho” which means spike because they usually have a toothpick to hold them together and make them easier to grab.  Russell and I planned to try as many pintxos as we could during our visit and thought it would be fun to also take a pintxos cooking class to learn more about the tradition.

Anisa with her favorite pintxo, Tosta de Bacalao.
Anisa with her favorite pintxo, Tosta de Bacalao.

You may remember, I took a cooking class when I went to Chiang Mai, Thailand, and I really enjoyed it.  The class I took with San Sebastian Food really makes that one seem amateur.  We were going to be cooking in a state of the art kitchen with two professionally trained chefs to teach us.  Plus, we would get plenty of personal attention, since there were only five of us in the class.  Oh and last but not least, there would be plenty of adult beverages. (more…)

Pros and Cons of Long Beach, Long Island

Some street art along the Long Beach boardwalk
Some street art along the Long Beach boardwalk

I am a beach person, but I haven’t spent much time exploring the beaches around New York City because I prefer warm water.  However, since I haven’t had time to make it to the Caribbean recently I thought I should check out more of the local beaches.  Last summer I went to Sandy Hook, NJ so I wanted to visit one of the beaches in Long Island.  I had heard good things about Long Beach, Long Island and it would be an easy day trip, so we decided to give it a shot.  After, my visit I thought it would be helpful if I shared the pros and cons I experienced.  Overall though, I do think it is a great place to go for a summer day trip.  Please note that there is a Long Beach Island in New Jersey, which I have not been to yet. (more…)

Rodin Around the World

I had heard about Auguste Rodin before.  I learned about him in my art history class in college but I really fell in love with his work during my last trip to Paris.  We visited the Rodin Museum (Musee Rodin) there and I was just amazed by his work.  He has such a deep understanding of the human body and I love the way he is able to convey emotions.  So after my trip to Paris, I started noticing there really is a lot of Rodin’s work exhibited in the US too.  So for all of my fellow Rodin fans, I thought I would share some of the places to see his work.

The Gates of Hell by Rodin is quite impressive, especially if you look at all the detail that went into it.
The Gates of Hell is quite impressive, especially if you look at all the detail that went into it.

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Movie Night at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

I have to admit I am not a big movie person, I might see one film a year in a movie theater.  I do love picnicking and outdoor movies though.  I try to go to at least one Bryant Park movie each summer in NYC and I want to experience outdoor movies in other cities too.  So when I was in LA, I was thrilled that Beverly, a friend of my friend Kat, had arranged for us to see a screening of Purple Rain in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclosure for more information.

One of the more elaborate areas in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery
One of the more elaborate areas in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

The movie night was one of a series of screenings that Cinespia puts on in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery each summer.  You will need to get tickets in advance, as some movies sell out very quickly.  If you plan on driving you will need to also buy a parking pass.  If parking passes are sold out, you can take an uber or try to find street parking. (more…)

Five Tips I Learned on My Trip to Europe

I recently went on a solo trip to Europe.  Although I have done day excursions by myself in various places including Hong Kong and Alaska, this was going to be my first solo vacation and my first time in Europe in a few years.  I decided to do this trip on my own because I really wanted to go to the Herend factory, located an hour and a half outside Budapest, and I didn’t think any of my friends would find this interesting enough to be the basis for a trip.  Since I was going to go by myself, I wanted to pack my days full of activity.  I decided that an easy way to do this would be to visit multiple countries.  I found a ticket on Aer Lingus that routed me through London and Dublin, and I decided that sounded like a fun itinerary.  I was worried about a few things so I did a reasonable amount of research so that I would feel well prepared.  Even with my planning though, I learned a few things during my travels that I will definitely be using for future trips, and I wanted to share those with you so that you don’t have the frustration or the wasted time that I did:

Katherine along the Danube in Budapest
Katherine along the Danube in Budapest

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclosure for more information.

  1. The most convenient, yet still cost-effective way, to exchange money may not always be to use an ATM.

This was actually one of the things I had looked into most, and even with my planning, I ended up changing my original plan.  I had read about the various types of ATMs.  In order to get the best exchange rate,  you need to use one of the ATMs that is affiliated with a bank and not one of the “convenience” ATMs located in hotels or on the street.  Also, these “convenience” ATMs are more likely to have skimmers that can steal your card information.

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Madame Tussauds Ghostbusters Dimensions Experience

So once a year, I get my date night with Aanya, my friend Artee’s 13 year old daughter.  I try to plan something special that she will enjoy since we really don’t get too much time together.  It is not easy to find something that a teenager will like, especially on a weekday evening.  After doing some searching on the internet I learned that Madame Tussauds had a special Ghostbusters Dimenson Experience, which is a virtual reality exhibit.  I sent the link to Aanya to see what she thought.  She responded back to me quickly saying that it looked really good and then started telling everyone else how excited she was to go.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclosure for more information.

Selfie with Jennifer Lopez
Selfie with Jennifer Lopez

Our Visit to Madame Tussauds

When we arrived, we had to wait in line to enter.  Those, like us, that had bought tickets in advance were in the shorter line.  I pulled up the mobile tickets on my phone, but they asked me to screenshot them so I would could show them at a couple places throughout the museum.    In the lobby, there is a wax figure of Miley Cyrus, although we didn’t even realize who it was until we were leaving.  Once you are up the stairs, they will take pictures of your group in King Kong’s hand.  There are a couple spots where they have professional photographers that will take your picture, which you can buy at the end of your visit. (more…)

Musings about the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth

Anisa in front of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Anisa in front of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

The first time I heard about the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth was only a few months ago when my co-worker Anne told me about having her wedding there.  She was surprised that I had never been, given I grew up in Dallas.  I asked my mom about it and even though she still lives in Dallas and is an art lover, she had not been either.   So I decided to remedy this and take my mom to visit to the Modern Art Museum to celebrate a belated Mother’s Day. (more…)

Greenwich Royal Observatory: Time to Learn About Time

You may not have heard of the Greenwich Royal Observatory, but the research done there impacts your life on a daily basis.  It’s the home of the Prime Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).  This topic had never really piqued my interest before, but being at the observatory and learning about the history was fascinating.  And there is also a planetarium, which kids will love.  Greenwich Maritime which includes the Observatory has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is a very exclusive list.  If that is not enough to convince you, the Greenwich Royal Observatory is located on a hill in the middle of a beautiful park (Greenwich Park) with an amazing view of London.  

View from the hill by the Royal Greenwich Observatory. You can see the Queen's House, Canary Wharf, and the O2 (to the right).
View from the hill by the Royal Greenwich Observatory. You can see the Queen’s House, Canary Wharf, and the O2 (to the right).

Greenwich is a borough in southeast London that is accessible by DLR (part of the London Underground) using the Greenwich Cutty Sark stop.  You can also take the MBNA Thames Clipper (there is a discount ticket that includes fare for the Thames Clipper and admission to the Greenwich Royal Observatory).   There is limited parking available at the National Maritime Museum for £15 for the day.  The weather was absolutely perfect the day we visited, so I really enjoyed the walk to the Observatory.  The last bit was pretty steep, but those views are really worth it.  It was a little foggy when we first arrived, but when that cleared later in the day we could see all the way to St. Paul’s.  The grass in this park is also some of the greenest I have ever seen and we saw lots of picnickers. (more…)

Must See Historic Sites in Philadelphia

It’s hard to believe my favorite holiday is right around the corner.  The Fourth of July marks the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and is usually celebrated with fireworks and BBQs.  It is pretty remarkable to think about what things would be like if we hadn’t declared our independence from Britain.  So in addition to enjoying the long weekend, it’s a great time to look back on history and appreciate our independence and liberties.  Philadelphia is a great place to do just that.  It was the first capital of our country and home to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.  

I have been to Philadelphia a few times before for work, but never really had time to explore.  So we decided to visit Philly back in February for President’s Day weekend, which turned out to be bitterly cold.  That was fine though because we planned on spending most of our time inside (more about the art we saw in a later post).  We would need to come back another time when the weather was better to see more of the outdoor sites.

Independence Hall in Philadelphia looks just like I would have pictured it back in Revolutionary time.
Independence Hall looks just like I would have pictured it back in Revolutionary time.

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