The 24-hour Tourist: San Diego

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Photo Courtesy: http://www.voiceofsandiego.org

I’ve been around the world… and no matter where I go, landing in San Diego is always breathtaking. As in, everywhere I turn, it takes my breath away. From the moment we prepare for landing and glide amongst the tall buildings of downtown San Diego, to the sailboats bopping along the San Diego Bay the views are always remarkable. There are a million things to do in San Diego, with the weather being a perfect 70 degrees almost 200 days of the year. What you don’t accomplish on your first trip, you can go back for more, time and time again. Easily, one can fall in love with this eclectic city, rich in history and contemporary charm.  Even after visiting a handful of times, one can never really get sick of spending time in a city that is considered one of the best climates in the world. With all that San Diego has to offer, the sprawling beaches to the quaint coffee shops, the adventures never end. No transportation? No problem. There is a trolley that will zoom you around the area in no time. Uber and Lyft are in abundance. Taxis. check. Local city buses and trains are also available. Not to mention the local bicyclists who will trek you around town in a carriage. No need to rent a car, transportation in San Diego is everywhere.

With so much to do where do you begin?

I decided to break it down by category because I could really spend an entire day writing about things to do in San Diego. Here are the categories. Beach Bums. Thrill Seeker. History buff. Museums and more.

Beach Bum:

La Jolla Cove

Windansea Beach

Pacific Beach

Mission Bay Park

Ocean Beach

Torrey Pines State Beach

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Photo courtesy: http://www.dreamlajolla.com

Thrill Seeker:

Jet Pack America

San Diego Sky Tours

Fly Guy Water Sports

Belmont Park

Torrey Pines Gliderport

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Photo Courtesy: http://sandiegan.com

History Buff:

Old Town State Historic Park

Cabrillo National Monument

Mission San Diego De Alcala

Haunted San Diego

Star of India

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Photo Courtesy: http://images.fineartamerica.com

Museums:

The San Diego Museum of Art

Museum of Contemporary Art

Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum

The Maritime Museum

San Diego Air and Space Museum

USS Midway Museum

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Photo Courtesy: http://www.sandiegomagazine.com

If I had to send you to just one place, I would hands down tell you, head to La Jolla. Then make the trip up the mountain to Mount Soledad. The glider port also has some of my favorite views.

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Photo Courtesy: http://blog.studioearchitects.com

The view from the top of the mountain is beautiful; on a clear day you can see for miles. The history is rich, the panoramic vistas are spectacular and you can even enjoy a picnic lunch on what feels like the top of the world. These lists are just places I have chosen to explore. There is so many places that have been omitted. This list does not even begin to explore wine country, the award winning casinos, or the avocado groves that make the countryside of San Diego so unique. Come once, come a thousand times; it never gets old and you will NEVER run out of things to do.

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Kona, Hawaii: September 2016

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii

Aloha from the big Island. An adventure awaits you as you land on this beautiful island. If peace, quiet, and tranquility are what you are after this place will not disappoint. However, if you are up for a thrill you can find that here too. Kona is situated on the West side of the Island which proves to be almost always sunny and you can get the best sunsets from this side of the island. I decided to hit the ground running when I got to the hotel. I managed to drop my bags off, change clothes, and be down at the parasailing desk within 15 minutes of arriving at the hotel. Myself and a crew member made a mad dash to the dock to be at the pick up site in time for the boat departure. Lucky for us, the pick up location was right behind our hotel. We spent an exhilarating hour taking turns flying 1200 feet above the ocean. We opted to do a tandem parasail, however you have the option to go alone or have two others float alongside you while you take in the breathtaking views. The tour company we used, UFO Parasail Kona, was extremely professional and as a perk, flight crew members get a discount. They have a kiosk inside our layover hotel, which makes it fast and convenient. This adventure runs May through December.Three at one time!

This was just the beginning of my adventures. We made our way across the street from the dock, to a quaint restaurant and had a few drinks and took in the view. After that, it would have been the perfect time to go to the Manta Ray night snorkel. I did not learn about this once in a lifetime adventure until it was too late. I will have to do this next time. As I understand, you don’t have to join a paid group outing, but rather, just ask the locals where they do the dive and join in! This is said to be something that no one on the planet should skip. I did however, opt for the local Island Breeze Luau. The food was amazing; the entertainment was very professional. The entire evening was very memorable. This is a fairly pricey adventure, with an adult ticket selling for around a hundred dollars. However, the proximity to our layover hotel, made it a perfect choice for an evening to experience island culture. After an eventful day, I made my way back to the hotel. I had a busy agenda planned for my second and last day on the island.

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Picture courtesy: Island Breeze Luau

The next morning, I woke up bright and early to enjoy the sunrise and have breakfast at a local hot spot. I decided to skip the day snorkel tour and opted for the Coffee Country scenic drive instead. It is 12 miles long and worth every minute of the slow paced drive. The roads are windy and narrow. I made my way to the famous St Benedict Painted Church, Kealakekua Bay (Captain Cook) and the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Park.

The Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Park has great cultural and historical significance and is worth the stop. You can pull up a chair and relax, bring a lunch or just wander the grounds.

My favorite stop was the St. Benedict Church, better know to locals as The Painted Church. It was off the beaten path, but it was beautiful. The interior paintings easily convey where the church got its nickname. A priest would paint 3D pictures on the wall to tell the stories of the bible and the saints during a time that many could not read and write.  It was small and quaint. The grounds were lush and manicured. There were statues and stations of the cross nearby on a hill. I am not having any luck finding my original pictures, so please enjoy the pictures I found at http://www.lovebigisland.com.

 

Interior of the Painted church in south Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii

The interior (above) and exterior (below) of the Painted Church courtesy lovebigisland.com

Painted church in south Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii0

Just South of Kona the landscape becomes greener and the skies more cloudy. The dry lava fields change into lush green forests and coffee plantations. Within this drive there are two popular snorkeling spots, Kealakekua Bay and Two Step. Either beach, is breathtaking and well worth the stop.

After an eventful day of sightseeing, I went back to the hotel to see some of the less talked about historical sites, such as the Hulihee Palace and the other historical buildings nearby including the Mokuaikaua Church. This was the first Christian church on the island, dating back 195 years. The history is rich, the landscape lush, and the adventures abundant. When you find yourself in Kona, be sure to make the best of your time, because it will fly right by.

 

Click Here to see some fun pictures of my Kona adventures on Instagram.

London: September 2016

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Simply put, 24 hours can be plenty of time to pack it all in. Ideally, as a flight attendant, we all wish we had a week to check out everything a layover city has to offer. However, with our profession, that is just not realistic. I recently had a London layover and was overwhelmed with the possibilities. Knowing it was my first time exploring London, my crew members offered for me to tag along on one of their many adventures. Should I do the Jack the Ripper night tour? What about catching Wicked on Broadway? Take a trip out to Stonehenge? I would love to walk past the London Eye, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace. There was so much to choose from, but so little time, I ended up going for the latter. I decided I would fit in as much of the tourist-y attractions as I could in a very short amount of time on a walking tour of London. My rationale? I could sleep when I die. I set out to take in as much of the city in under 24 hours that I possibly could. Upon arrival, we traveled to our layover hotel, which took about an hour off my already-little-time allotted. Once at the hotel, we were checked in and ready to explore; if we dared. I decided I would not have an agenda, but rather, take the day as it came. In my opinion combined with my past experiences, this is the best way to explore. If you go with a set agenda, you will rush past what might be the best part of your overall experience. I took the tube, the European term for the subway, and got off at Covent Garden. There, I came across a magician, an open-air market, and my first encounter with the ‘famous” red phone booth. What a great way to start my adventure.

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There were some rain clouds lurking and slowed my progress with intermitten rain showers, but I persisted and I am glad I did. As I roamed the streets without an agenda, I came across Brazil Fest 2016 in the local plaza. Next up, I walked into the Anglican Church to admire the architecture, and to my surprise a symphony was playing for free. What an unexpected treat. I ended up touring over six different churches while wandering the streets of London. My luck did not stop there, I got a chance to mess with the Queen’s Royal Guards at Clarence House, walk through the Royal Gardens, and admire picturesque views of the Queen’s residence, Buckingham Palace. Of course, no walking tour of Westminster would be complete without taking in the architecture grandeur which is Westminster Abbey. I had a chance to spy the London Eye while standing on the Westminster Bridge as I crossed the River Thames. I had the good fortune of walking past at least three different theatre productions that I could have watched, including Wicked, if I so chose to attend. One was a matinee production, while the other two were evening productions.

I opted to continue my walk, and was reveling in delight at my decision. I mean, look at the floral arrangements that adorned the walls every which way I looked. IMG_6190.JPG

I never got back on the tube, except when making my way back to the hotel, which as a side note, stops one block away from our layover hotel. SCORE! In summary, I took in all of these famous landmarks within six hours, without an agenda. Of course, I had point’s of interest in mind, and a map in hand, but important to note, I did not have a working wifi connection. This is important to note, because, I know I would not have experienced the same things, had I the time to stop and read about every landmark I came across. Was it tiring? YES! Did my feet hurt the next day? YES! But was it worth it? A resounding YES! So, don’t go to your hotel and shut the world out, get out and explore! There is so much that can be discovered in such a short amount of time, 24 hours to be exact.

Palm Springs April 2016


A last minute decision to go to the desert was a perfect plan. We executed the plan in 30 minutes flat. Wake up the kids, pack food and clothes and get on the road, in our RV. 

Our drive was pretty uneventful! We made it in under two hours. We got lucky weather wise as we were getting away from rain in Oceanside and it was only 70 degrees in Palm Springs. 

Once we got to the desert we did not waste anytime finding a pool to spend the afternoon in…


Nor did we waste time finding margaritas!


Once we tired of splashing in the pool, we made our way downtown to the village via the local free trolley service Buzz Trolley


We strolled the Walk Of Stars and discovered over 300 stars along our walk on Palm Canyon. Elijah discovered a really fun car, dubbed the Slingshot

This is the village area of Palm Springs.

Once we made our way up and down the streets and into every shop, we settled in at the Hyatt, where we enjoyed some live 80’s cover music and a little sweet treat.


We nestled in for the night after getting a quick glimpse of a fireworks show that was happening in downtown Palm Springs for their annual charity gala, Evening Under The Stars. Some spent $400 dollars for a ticket, we got to see the show for free. 


Ok, not the best picture, but hey, it was free! 

We woke up to Phoebe showing us her “shiner” she got last night when she slammed into the mailbox when playing tag near the BUZZ trolley stop.


Then we went swimming for our morning exercise. Next up, mass at a local Catholic Church. Lastly, we went to a fun art museum, where we met the artist, Kurt Zimmerman.

The art above was from a local artist named Cissy.

He explained in detail how he made his art come to life. It was fun to meet him. 

Our last stop on the way home, was to see the World’s Largest Dinosaurs.


These dinosaurs were featured in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, along with many other shows. 

Overall, we had a whirl-wind of a weekend. It was really fun to experience Palm Springs as a family. We stayed at Happy Traveler RV Park for a mere $50/night.


Next time we plan on bringing our hiking shoes and hiking up the mountain trails that are abundant around these necks of the woods.

Let it go…


This is much harder to do than say! Trust me. This funky outfit- to say the least, was Phoebe’s choice of clothing for Sunday mass. The First Holy Communion mass, at that. I asked that all the kids pick out their outfits, including socks and shoes. Well, before I could make it to Phoebe, think Mom actually taking a shower, she was already dressed and with shoes on. When I walked in to check on her outfit, (control freak much?) she was beaming at her accomplishment of having obeyed my request. The first time. Not only had she picked out her outfit and shoes, she had successfully put them on… Including her shoes!!!! This is HUGE. Really. HUGE. How could I burst her bubble? She was so proud. As a matter of fact, so was I! At that moment I had two choices. A good one: to praise my daughter for good listening skills, or a bad one: reprimand her for not putting on church clothes. They did not match, they were not appropriate for mass, and furthermore, it was not cute, at all!

I took the high road, and let it go! That old saying, pick your battles, when it comes to parenting, is so true. I chose to love my daughter and her behavior rather than worry what others might think. 10 years ago, I would have never taken this road. My now 10 year old, was perfectly put together at all times. How very stressful that was. Add three more kiddos and more wisdom to the mix and voila, you get a very mismatched outfit but an adorable princess who followed instructions the first time. So, I have learned to Let it go… And it feels so good!

Beach camping…again!

Camping in a parking lot, never felt so good! I mean look at this view and the Accommodations.

The pier within walking distance. 

A covered gazebo.

Volleyball nets.

And of course, we can’t forget the play structure.

My last minute planning, at its finest, came with no opposition from the troops. I keep the RV stocked, for an occasion like this, with everything we would need for a nights stay anywhere (minus the food). We have pajamas, a change of clothes, toothbrush and toothpaste, toiletries, ample dishes and necessities to get us through any 24 hour period. 

So, when I came up with the bright idea to head to the beach, I hollered down the hall, “Grab your bathing suits and cover-ups and meet me in car!” It was met with little to no opposition. 

With this system in place, from it’s original idea to implementing it, we were out the door in 30 minutes flat. I had to do some food prep before we left, so the kiddos wouldn’t “starve”, as they claim.


Zoe and her friend, Maridie, put about one toe in the water before they discover it was just too darn cold for their liking.

We took a walk down to Harbor Village to show our friends the new boat. 


This single ball proved to be hours worth of fun! It was discarded on the beach, so we upcycled it and made good use of someone else’s misfortune. (By that I mean the parents who had to listen to the kid cry because they left their ball at the beach)

The sun in its many stages of setting, always puts on a gorgeous show.

While everyone is still cuddled in their cozy bed, I walk. I write. I enjoy the sunrise. In SILENCE. Ahhhhhhhh… 
So that was it, a quick 24 hour getaway, to cure the beach blues. 

Extra work!

Who woulda thunk it?!?! Me and my trusty minivan would make it to the big leagues?!?!  

    
 
I got the call late Monday night, to work as a background actress for the new series, Animal Kingdom. WB has ordered 10 episodes for production. They will start airing June 7, 2016 on TNT. The show is set to film this month and late next month in and around Oceanside. The series is said to be based on a con- artist family who live in Oceanside. I was told I would be a pedestrian with a car for a few scenes.  

   
I checked in bright and early at 6:30 AM. I was whisked away to wardrobe. After wardrobe we were treated to a gourmet spread for breakfast.

  
After breakfast, we went to our shoot location. We played the hurry up to wait game for the next six hours. I parked my car on a side street, while I watched this green truck peel out around the corner, about two dozen times!

   
 
After they “perfected” that scene?!?! (I mean I think all two dozen times looked the same… But what do I know?) we ate lunch, another gourmet spread! 

Then it was showtime! I had to strategically place my car on a side street to make sure it was in the shot. Now, I have a couple thoughts on this. I was booted from the scene, which I was okay with, really! But, I am pretty confident that the black truck that took the stage, never even drove down the street in which my car was parked! 


 Urgh! Six hours, for what?!?! Either way, I was fine with the whole experience. What a waste of $$dinero$$ for them. I on the hand, enjoyed my behind the scenes look at a television series in the making. 
Oh, and the bathroom??? A port-a-potty built for a king! No small rectangular space for us… It was more like a small house complete with pictures on the wall, planters and tile flooring!

  
Moments after typing this, it was a wrap. Nope, no screen time for me or my car! Fine by me, my check should be in my bank in a couple of weeks. 

Later that afternoon, I took the kiddos to the next location, so they may get a snippet of what I had experienced earlier in the day!

   
   

Overall, it was a fun experience! I would totally do it again if they booked, either me or my van!!!

Eat, Fly, Love: A Flight Attendant’s Confession

The Art of Being Human Blog

My story starts like any other sappy chick flick: my beautiful man left me at the metaphysical altar for a foreign market investment lawyer. Thanks to poor cultural integration and an overly priced education system, I did the only logical thing a newly single wanderlust strapped for cash could do: I became a flight attendant.

The famous Paulo Coehlo once wrote “When you want something all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

Some university students become baristas; others become flight attendants. I am the latter: International Affairs’ student by day and Flight Attendant by night, putting myself through school one plane ride at a time. It’s an unconventional super power, but I assure you, if that huge metal tube lights up in flames, I can evacuate you swiftly and safely, within 90 seconds, burgundy lipstick intact, without a hair singed out-of-place (effortless hair flip).

What…

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St.Thomas, USVI/Tortola,BVI March 2016

A quick five day getaway to the Virgin Islands, can’t hurt anyone, right? Even when you go with four kiddos, 10 and under, alone?!?!


We felt we needed to go and see for ourselves.  Dad was hard at work, while we decided to play hard in the Caribbean; after spending a week exploring the East Coast. We made this impromptu trip without having a hotel booked. I am not completely careless, I had checked around and saw plenty of rooms available. I just wanted to ensure all five of us made the flight. Traveling on space available is not for the faint of heart. So, once we all had seats, I found a hotel and booked it as we were taxing out for takeoff. I wanted something fairly close to the ferry terminal, so that transportation would not be necessary the next day. It had a swimming pool in the courtyard. That served the purpose of getting the kids’ energy out, after being cooped up all day. They swam until we got kicked out of the pool by security. It was a good day!

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We woke up bright and early, eager to catch the first ferry boat over to Tortola. If you think it is a piece of cake, to just hop on a ferry boat at a whim, let me be the first to tell you IT IS NOT EASY! The terminal agents, were not friendly at all. So, that certainly did not help my cause. Remember, it is going into another country, so there are all sorts of fees involved. Including documents and passport checks. Overall, my ferry experience was not a good one. The cost was exorbitant. However, after quite the experience, we were on our way! The ferry boat ride was a good 50 minutes. It was windy, but we all enjoyed the views of the neighboring islands along the way.FullSizeRender 5

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FINALLY! We got to Tortola. We arrived at the port of call, Road Town, to have a taxi waiting. Just in case you were wondering, taxi’s are expensive on the islands. The going rate is $10 per person per ride. I had five of us, so anywhere we wanted to go, was at least $50!!! They did not really negotiate pricing. We made 2 round trips to Road Town via taxi… yep! $200 bucks out the window. It made it hard to explore the island, so we opted to spend most of our time in Nanny Cay. After arriving in Nanny Cay, we checked into our hotel, which was lovely and quaint. I fell in love with this little corner of the world immediately upon arrival. It is pretty much self contained. There is everything you could possibly need right in this little pocket of paradise. As Annie Warbucks would have said, “I think i’m gonna like it here!” That would be a complete understatement.

We spent days swimming in the bay, swimming in the pool, joining in on community BBQ’s, and of course, plenty of time at the beach bar. Ahhhh…. the beach bar! It is by FAR one of my favorite place’s to hang. Well of course, the Painkillers help sway my decision, however, it is the sense of community. It is the way the kids run free without helicopter parenting. It is the carefree feeling you have when you are here! We even were included in on a first birthday party that was happening at the moment. It is that awesome! The more the merrier! It is an instant sense of belonging, so far from home. In some ways, I felt more connected and included there in that slice of heaven, then I do in my own hometown! Enjoy some of the pictures of our glory days just relaxing and having fun in the sun.

One day, we escaped to go on a catamaran daysail with Aristocat Charters! Wow, we had a spectacular day sailing to Salt, Cooper, and Peter Islands. We snorkeled, snacked, sunned, and sipped the day away! The captain, Scott, and his co-captain, Luuck, made our adventure something for the memory books! They even have a pretty awesome lunch spread at some point during the day. They are great with kids and pretty awesome at adulting too! Thanks guys for an AMAZING daysail! If you ever find yourself in Tortola, this daysail is a MUST!

Aside from all of the fun in the sun, I got to meet one of my favorite bloggers, turned friend, Brittany Meyers from Windtraveler. I knew before meeting her that we had a lot in common. We both have a “boat load” of kiddos, (pun intended) we have the same parenting style, we both love the water, we love sailing, she lives in the BVI’s… I want to live in the BVI’s. You get the point! She is one of the reasons we made the trek to the island of Tortola. The pictures on her blog, had me so intrigued, I had to see for myself. I sure am glad I went all that way. We had such an amazing time getting to know each other and our kids got along swimmingly! (again, pun intended) They spent a majority of the time playing in the water!

FullSizeRender 8It happened to be St. Patrick’s day while we were on the island, which couldn’t have been more appropriate considering we spotted a green lizard hanging on the dock that morning. I was told by a reliable source, that the last time they saw a green lizard on the dock was nearly five years prior. The day only got better, when Darcy of Sunkissed Soeters, another awesome mom from the island, whipped out green food coloring! We were not going to let this holiday sneak past without a few green beers for the win! Darcy, that really was a highlight of my trip! Thank you!

I did not want this adventure to be over, yet, everything must come to an end. We explored, played, swam, sipped and devoured every moment (and Painkiller) that we possibly could! I would have to say that everything about this quick getaway was perfect. My takeaway from this adventure? I. Will. Be. Returning. SOON! I am already conjuring my next trip here, and I have not even passed through customs. I didn’t even let the exorbitant taxi fees or the immigration /customs taxes that had to be paid to leave the island, get me down.

We headed back to the USVI’s where we paid a taxi driver $10 per person to take us less than 1 mile. Yes, you read that right, $50 for a mile long trek to our hotel. Be sure to catch any of the local jungle buses (open air trucks) that drive around the island all day long, whenever possible. Again, I didn’t even let that get me down, because we were in paradise. Our hotel was situated right next to the airport in a little cove that was like heaven. It was perfect. Emerald Beach Resort, although a bit pricey compared to other options, it was a perfect fit for our plans. We had drinks and dinner on the beach. We swam in the pool for hours. It was low key, nestled in a quaint cove with breathtaking views, and had an ocean breeze that was perfect. I highly recommend the beach bar. We traveled to Miami the next morning then on to San Diego. We finally arrived home, with a greater appreciation for the Caribbean. It has become a part of me. I feel a longing for it when I am not there. I vow to return for my 40th birthday, later in the year.

Editors note: I am missing all of my pictures from this trip… I managed to find a few here and there. I will be editing to include more pictures in the article when I find them. (I just hope they have not been lost forever)