Canada Trip Report: Toronto

After our time in Montreal, we flew to Toronto for the next leg of our trip.

I wanted to try flying Porter Airlines since they fly into the Toronto Island airport which is much closer to the downtown area. The flight was only an hour and 10 minutes but I didn’t realize we had to take the ferry shuttle from the island to the port so that added another half hour to the journey. For some reason I thought taxis had access to the island. They’re in the process of building a pedestrian walkway which will be so much more convenient than waiting for the ferry.

Anyway!

Tue, 9/2

On our first full day in Toronto we visited Casa Loma, which is a former home/castle that is now a historic museum. It’s also well known for being in many movies like The Vow, Chicago, The Pacifier — but most importantly the X-Men series where they used the exterior for Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. That’s a big part of why it was so intriguing to us. LOL.



From the Dupont station, we walked a couple of blocks on Spadina Avenue then climbed the Baldwin Steps (approximately 110) to get to Casa Loma. I was dreading the stairs but it wasn’t so bad. Seeing the house come into view made it all worth it. Though it is a little smaller than I imagined after seeing it in the movies.



We explored all the various levels of the house and got to see many guest & sitting rooms, private suites, the great hall (above) and conservatory among others.



It’s amazing how elaborate and detailed all the furnishings are.

I wanted to take a walk through the gardens but while we were there, it started pouring rain. So bummed!



Great view of downtown. Too bad it was so rainy and overcast.

Continue reading

Canada Trip Report: Montreal

October marks the start of my favorite time of year. Of course there’s my birthday (YAY) but I just love the holidays. I’ve even started listening to holiday music! I’m such a sucker.

As per usual, I’m behind on my blogging. Back in late August, Rob & I took a trip to Canada that included visits to Montreal, Toronto, Niagara Falls & Vancouver. Thought I’d share some highlights of that trip starting with Montreal!

Fri, 8/29
I knew before we arrived that French is the official language in this province but there’s nothing like walking around and not being able to understand anyone speaking around you. It was a little overwhelming but I loved the international vibe!



On our first full day we visited Old Montreal to see the Notre Dame Basilica.



There’s a nominal fee to go inside which includes a short 20 minute guided tour (sadly our tour guide wasn’t that great). Unfortunately for us there was a mass going on in the chapel at the back so it was closed to visitors until the service was finished.



So beautiful! The detail is amazing. I forgot to take a photo but the stained glass windows all along the sides are exquisite.



We walked through the cobblestone streets to the waterfront to take a river cruise on Le Bateux Mouche.

Continue reading

comic-con 2014: part 2

I know San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone but I still have a few more photos I’d like to share so hopefully you’ll indulge me. :)

As much as I enjoy the panels, I actually think my favorite part of SDCC is walking through the exhibit hall. It’s a visual treat with all the booths promoting and/or selling a variety of products. It does get incredibly crowded, though, so we visit the hall a little bit each day.



Guardians of the Galaxy was about a week from its release at the time of SDCC so there was a lot of buzz and excitement surrounding the movie (I highly recommend it, by the way — definitely one of my favorites of the year).



The Marvel booth had this great green screen photo opportunity. We didn’t realize it was a line-up, though, or Rob & I wouldn’t have posed so close together, heh.



We got a first look at Peter Quill’s mining pod.



With Rocket Raccoon, my favorite!



We found this awesome Iron Man Hall of Armor at Sideshow Collectibles.

Continue reading

comic-con 2014: part 1

This past weekend Rob & I celebrated our 6th anniversary.



Here’s one of my favorite pictures of us from a trip to Disneyland. It’s been the best six years of my life and I look forward to many more adventures with you by my side. :)

So… it’s that time again for my Comic-Con recap!

For the past few years, Rob & I have gone in thinking “one last time.” And each year, without fail, despite the headache of registering for badges and the intense crowds and lines during the actual convention, we come home after having so much fun and immediately start talking about next year. We’re suckers! Unfortunately, getting badges has become increasingly difficult (we really lucked out this year with the start of the new lottery system) and who knows what the next year will bring… but wishful thinking doesn’t hurt. :)



Here we are again in San Diego!

SDCC has really expanded well beyond the confines of the convention center — every year there are more and more events and activities held outside. Some of which don’t even require a badge!



To promote the upcoming fall show Gotham, FOX set up an awesome themed zipline. As soon as I heard about it, I knew I wanted to try it. I’ve never been ziplining before and it seemed like a ton of fun.



And it was! I did get nervous while I was getting strapped in and I questioned my judgment in that first second as I stepped off the platform, but after that, it was amazing. I even felt brave enough to pose for the camera. LOL.



It was way too short though. Here’s a bird’s eye view of the zipline (30 ft high, 130 ft wide). But it was a great teaser and I can’t wait to do it again!

Continue reading

first half 2014 photo dump

Just got back from a quick long weekend trip to Las Vegas. Rob & I did our usual round of eating, shopping, gambling (for him), and relaxing at the spa (me). But this time I also got the chance to meet my long-time online friend Sarah who was there for a conference. I’ve “known” her for probably around 10 years now (!!!). I’m naturally shy so I was nervous about our meeting but had absolutely no reason to be. Sarah was warm and awesome and we had no problems finding anything to talk about. :) So happy our paths finally crossed in real life.

So it’s photo dump time! Here’s a look at what I’ve been up to over the first half of the year.

Ok ok… it’s more like a look at what I’ve been eating:) With some Diesel thrown in for some balance.

In March, I was in Miami Beach for a few days for work. It was a great opportunity for me to spend time with colleagues but I have to admit I really (REALLY) am not a huge fan. It’s such a scene and it’s just not me. The food scene, though, is a different story…



We went to the famous Versailles for lunch one day where I had the delicious ropa vieja with the yummiest side of plantains.



Lunch the following day was poolside at the Clevelander Hotel. It was a warm day and this Miami Vice hit the spot (it’s half pina colada and half rum runner).



On my free night, I walked over to Lincoln Road to dine at Shake Shack. Amazing! It’s seriously my favorite fast casual burger (yes, over In N Out). I CANNOT WAIT until Shake Shack opens in Las Vegas later this year. !!!



Here’s a look at what was my office for two days — yes, that’s a double decker bus!



On my last morning, I finally made it to the beach for a long walk followed by a refreshing iced cafe con leche.

Continue reading

Hong Kong Trip Report: Disneyland

I’m a huge fan of the Disney parks (Rob is too — begrudgingly :)) so one of my travel bucket list items was to visit all existing parks. And earlier this year we were able to cross that item off the list!

We’ve been to the original Disneyland more times than we can count (we’re lucky to have grown up with the park practically in our backyard). In 2011 we jump-started this quest with our 10 day trip to Walt Disney World. Then we traveled to Tokyo Disneyland in 2012, Disneyland Paris in 2013 and finally Hong Kong Disneyland earlier this year.

We devoted about 1.5 days to Hong Kong Disneyland. The resort is pretty small and unlike all the others, it consists of Disneyland alone (all other resorts have a second gate). This was a good amount of time so we didn’t feel rushed.



We stayed on property at the Hollywood Hotel, which was great. I loved the Hollywood theme and the art deco touches. I found it to be a really striking hotel.



We booked a “park view” room. Yes, Space Mountain and the RC Racer track is visible but I think this is more of a parking lot view. LOL. If I could go back, I’d probably select a garden view or sea view room.



I had to go out to the recreation area early in the morning to get a shot of this sign without anyone around. I was determined! I love it.

Off to the park! From the hotel, we used the convenient shuttle bus. It runs frequently throughout the day and even late into the night which allowed us to visit the city after the park closed.



Ooohhh! So exciting!

Continue reading

Hong Kong Trip Report

Ahhh, my four day weekend is coming to an end. We were doggie-sitting so we spent a lot of time relaxing at home and having friends over for an early Memorial day potluck of Korean food (I guess we’re going through Korea withdrawal even months later). Today we went to see X-Men: Days of Future Past, which was a fun movie but didn’t quite capture me the way the Avengers movies have. I’m not quite sure what it is because I love so many of the actors — Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, etc — but I’m just not obsessing or fan-girling about the series. Still recommend it for a fun way to spend a couple of hours. :)

Back to my trip report! Just two more installments, I think…

Before our time in Seoul, Rob & I first stopped over at Hong Kong. I visited way back when with my dad (must have been 20+ years ago, wow) but have wanted to see it again as an adult. Not to mention that Hong Kong Disneyland was calling my name. ;)

Compared to other major Asian cities I’ve visited (Tokyo, Bangkok, Seoul), it is a BREEZE to get around Hong Kong. As a former British colony, most people speak English. I know that unfamiliar situations are par for the course for traveling but when there’s no language barrier, it makes everything so much easier. For us, anyway.

We spent 3 full days in Hong Kong splitting time equally between the city and Disney. It definitely wasn’t enough time for the city but hopefully we’ll make a pit stop there again the next time we visit Asia.



Our adventure started SUPER early on Wednesday morning, 2/12. We had a 7am flight so we stayed at a hotel near LAX and took the shuttle to the airport. We arrived just after 4am and found that the Air Canada terminal wasn’t even open. Apparently there was a power outage the night before so all the systems were taking awhile to get back online. OMG!!! All I wanted to do was check-in our bags and get coffee. ARGH. I am SO not a morning person. We ended up being third in line which was great because the line got long really quickly because of the delay.



Our flights were uneventful (we had a short layover in Vancouver – made me wish we had a few days there) but man, the legroom on Air Canada is tight. That says a lot since I’m so short! Once we arrived at Hong Kong airport, we flew through immigration and customs, hopped in a taxi and made our way to Kowloon.

We stayed at the Sheraton Hong Kong in the Tsim Sha Tsui district and when we were checking in, I was informed that I apparently booked a smoking room. WTF. OOPS. The front desk clerk took pity on me (I was so tired by this time) and managed to change our room to non-smoking and upgraded us to a harbour view room. AWESOME.



This was our view of the harbour! We got up to our room right before 8pm so we were able to see the beginning of the Symphony of Lights, a nightly multimedia show on the water. Our vantage point wasn’t the best so I couldn’t see much and obviously couldn’t hear anything. Sadly we never got the chance to see it live along the waterfront.

We wanted to eat before knocking out so we walked down the main street, Nathan Road, and happened upon the iSquare mall which had a food court. We ended up at a modern Shanghainese restaurant Shanghai Popo where we ordered Shanghai fried noodles (OMG YUM) and beef with pine nuts and rice cake (WOW). The food totally hit the spot.



The next day was Valentine’s Day and I woke up at about 7:30am and couldn’t go back to sleep. At least I was free and clear of jet lag!

First order of business was to go to Tim Ho Wan — a dim sum chain known for its Michelin star (not the branch we were going to though). Aziz Ansari ate here on his episode of The Layover and we’ve been wanting to try it ever since! The location we visited is at Hong Kong station but it was SO hard to find (the station is enormous). When we ended up finding it, we realized it was so close to where we exited the fare gates after getting off the train. Of course.



The herd of people outside was the giveaway. We got there early (maybe around 11am?) so we only waited about 10 minutes. Seating is mostly communal and we got two seats in the middle of a long table. It was a tight fit, lol.

Continue reading

Seoul Trip Report

Last year our friend Leah mentioned that she would be traveling to South Korea for work sometime in early 2014. A few of us threw out the idea of tagging along with her and at first I thought it was just a bit of wishful thinking until all of a sudden we were requesting time off and booking flights. !!!

We spent 4.5 days in Seoul this past February which was just enough time to visit the more popular tourist attractions and neighborhoods. English isn’t widely spoken in Seoul at all so we were lucky to be traveling with our friends Rob & Sebastian who acted as our tour guides (they both speak Korean and lived in Seoul for awhile after college) — they not only accompanied us everywhere but they translated for us too. We would have had an extremely hard time getting by without them — so grateful!

Also, the weather is typically in the 40s during this time of the year. I was so scared I would freeze (I’m a Californian, what can I say?) but it wasn’t bad at all. Seriously!

Some highlights…

One place I definitely wanted to visit was the Korean demilitarized zone, which is the area that serves as a buffer between North & South Korea. The USO runs a tour that visits various points of interest in the DMZ but most importantly includes a stop within the Joint Security Area where you can actually step foot into North Korea. !!!



The tour starts at Camp Kim in Seoul where everyone checks in and boards the bus for the drive to the border.



The first stop was the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, which is one of four known tunnels between North & South Korea (supposedly there are 20+ more that haven’t been found yet). The tunnel was built by the North Koreans in order to launch a surprise attack on Seoul. Their cover story is that they were digging for coal — they even went so far as to paint coal dust along the tunnel walls. Too bad geologically it’s not possible to find coal in this area and dynamite markings were found in the tunnel as well. Tourists can walk a portion of the way to see the barricades that were put up to block tunnel access. We went down to the tunnel but didn’t get very far before we decided to turn around. The space was TIGHT, the ceiling was LOW (thank goodness for the hard hats they made us wear) and it was HOT. Not to mention that on the way back we were faced with a steep incline. OH MAN. THAT WAS THE WORST. Sadly no photos are allowed in the tunnel.

Next up was Dorasan train station, which is the last stop on the rail line before North Korea.



In the past, goods were transported through this station and into the Kaesong region in North Korea. But in 2008, the North Korean government closed the border crossing due to political conflicts.



We were allowed to see the tracks after paying a few South Korean won to get a souvenir ticket.

Continue reading

The Last of 2013: Van City, NYC & Paris

I think this might finally be my last 2013 blog post. LOL. Thanks for bearing with me. :)

Last year we took a couple of long weekend trips to Vancouver & NYC and also traveled to Paris for a half day at the tail end of our Disneyland Paris trip. I wanted to share a few fun photos before I officially bid adieu to 2013.



We took our annual trip to Vancouver back in May. Fourth year in a row!

One of our very favorite shows, Psych, filmed in Vancouver (*sniff*) so we decided to drive south to the city of White Rock BC, which the show used for many of its location shoots.



The Psych office!!! SQUEE. Ok ok, in real life it’s the White Rock Museum & Archives.



Rob doing a Shawn Spencer impression. LOL.

Continue reading

Turks & Caicos

I watched The Lego Movie a few weekends ago and STILL have the main song in my head (“Everything is awesome!”).

And last weekend I made sure to watch the Veronica Mars movie that I proudly backed on Kickstarter. :) I didn’t think the movie was as strong as season 1 (my favorite season) but it was so great to see all the characters I love and see where they ended up. If only for the nostalgia factor, I loved it. Please go see it!

Anyway, I realize we’re in 2014 but I still have a few travel photos to share from last year so bear with me. Back in October, my brother in law and his wife invited us to go along with them on their trip to Turks & Caicos — specifically the island of Providenciales (otherwise known as Provo). I have to admit that I had no idea where the islands are located but OF COURSE we took advantage of the invite. We would never turn down an opportunity to travel!

Provo ended up being a perfect and much-needed destination. I tend to favor “city” vacations so often we come home feeling like we need a vacation from our vacation. LOL. But the island vibe is so laidback and easygoing that we really had no choice but to unwind and relax.

We did a lot of bumming around on the beach and even more eating. It was awesome! Food was soooo expensive though. Lunches and dinners were AT LEAST $20 per person (although the ingredients like fish were super fresh) and something like an iced latte was $7. OUCH.

Some highlights…

We visited the Chalk Sound area which is known for its shallow, family friendly beaches. It took awhile to find the beach access trails though — but the persistence is worth it! First up was Taylor Bay Beach.



I loved that I could walk a significant distance from the shore and still be able to stand and see the bottom.



Adjacent to Taylor Bay is Sapodilla Bay Beach. No other souls to be seen except us!

I should note that we visited during the last week of the off season (last week of October). Crowds were pretty much non-existent everywhere we went. It was fantastic! A few restaurants and sights had limited hours but nothing that affected our plans.



We also visited Long Bay Beach and its miles of gorgeous white sand.



The first day we visited Long Bay Beach we got totally rained out! As soon as we set our stuff down, it started POURING. We were soaked! We ran back to the car and headed back to the comfort of the condo.



The second time was picture perfect. The water was so beautiful and clear. Just the perfect shades of blue. We even picked up sandwiches and snacks at the supermarket and had a lovely picnic on the beach.

Continue reading