{Date Night Friday} Olympic Fever

Date Night Fridays, Life, London, Olympics

Most of our date night consist of going somewhere new and exciting outside the apartment but not tonight.  Something that you might have not known about me is that I love watching the Olympics and I’m really looking forward to the opening ceremony this evening.  The hubby and I are planning to watch enough Olympic coverage as humanly possible.  I plan on popping some popcorn or perhaps ordering some yummy pizza and we plan on sitting in front of the couch this evening.  When we went to London last year I was excited to see that there was starting to be signs of the upcoming Olympics.  I have a lot of respect for all the men and woman who are representing the United States because they are doing something I could have never done.

My favorite sport to watch is the Woman’s gymnastic team I can’t believe how young they all are and the amount of dedication they have for the sport.  Here’s to team USA!!!

Here’s some Red, White, and Blue inspiration from my Pinterest board. 

What’s your favorite Olympic sport?

Life: Honeymoon Day 11

Europe, Honeymoon, Life, London, Planning, Travels, Vacation

Our time in Europe was simply amazing and will never be forgotten. We’re planning on making another trip in the near future but before we do that here’s the last post on the subject.

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 3:00pm from Heathrow Airport so we had some time to kill before we left.  We had to check out of our room before noon and they were nice enough to watch our luggage for us for a few hours before we left to the airport.  The hotel we stayed at Base 2 Stay was nice but not spectacular.  It looked clean but not spotless.  They provide free wifi but you have to put in a code every single time you use it which gets very frustrating.  On the bright side the rooms are large but if you get one next to the street it tends to get noisy.  I think this hotel would be lovely for a big family who would use the kitchenette. Overall we think it was a good value for the amount we paid for it and its proximity to the Underground.  

Since the receptionist were nice enough to watch over our luggage we decided to take quick trip to Harrods to pick up some last minute gifts.  The store was huge and beautiful.  We could have easily spend the whole day but since we only had a couple of hours we choose to focus on the departments and had stuff we actually were interested in. 
I loved these 6 feel tall bears. I wish we could have brought one home with us. 
How cute are these Prince William and Princess Catherine dolls? Okay there are really a tad creepy looking but I would still like to have them.  
I LOVE CHRISTMAS!! I’ll take Christmas in September any day of the week. I was seriously like a kid in a candy store.
The highlight of our trip to Harrods was the Chocolate Bar.  I can still taste the amazing hot chocolate that we had there. I would seriously travel back to London just for that decadent drink.  I ordered the Trinidad hot chocolate and the hubby ordered the Venezuela one. 
We rushed back to our hotel got our luggage and headed out to the airport. We went to were we purchased our Oyster card to get a refund for the amount we still had in the card.  
Our flight was with Virgin Atlantic and we loved it.  We had a few issues with our flight back but they were upfront with us about it and it didn’t bother us.  First of the plane we were supposed to be on was struck by lightning in Dubai.  They replaced the airplane but then the catering company they were using didn’t work so they had to get another one.  While we waited they passed our magazines and newspapers.
About an hour and a half later we were able to board the airplane or so we thought.  It turns out that once we were on the plane a passenger started freaking out about all the things going wrong and she demanded to get off.  It took about another hour to depart because they had to get the porters to come back and take her luggage off.  They had to do another security scan and then we were able to leave. All together we ended up departing about 3 hours late and we were all starving.  After working in a company were customer service is so important I have to say that the employees did a great job under the circumstances that we were all in.  The hubby and I were very impressed with the professionalism everyone demonstrated as they were dealing with difficult customers.  Once in the air everyone was well feed and we had lots of entertainment to keep us busy.  We had a few issues with our flight but that will not stop us from flying with Virgin Atlantic again.  We actually look forward to booking a flight with Virgin in the near future. 
When we got back home my in-laws had a surprise waiting for us. 
I really hope you enjoyed the recap of our honeymoon adventures in Europe. 

Life: Honeymoon Day 10

Europe, Honeymoon, Life, London, Planning, Travels, Vacation

On our final day of our honeymoon we woke up sick with a head cold.  We took things a little easier than we originally planned to but we still had a lovely day.  In the morning I headed out to get something to eat while the hubby rested since I felt a tad better than him.  I bought a pasty from here and I have to be honest I didn’t really care for it.  I tried a sweet and a savory one but I didn’t care for either of them.

When the hubby was finally up to it we headed out to the Natural History Museum since it was the closest museum near our hotel.  We had a nice walk and we could help ourselves and stopped to look at these telephones. 
The Dinosaur exhibit was amazing my goddaughter would have absolutely loved it.  I loved seeing little British school children having a blast at the museum. 
After a couple of hours walking around the museum we began to feel sick again so we returned back to our hotel but not before stopping at a pharmacy to buy some medicine.  Once we started feeling better we returned to do some more sightseeing.  Another museum that was close by was the Victoria and Albert Museum.  The best part about museums in London was that a lot of them were free including the ones we went to. 
We didn’t spend too much time out and about since we needed to get our stuff ready to come back home.  After I finished packing my stuff I went to a local grocery store and stocked up on some baking supplies.  I bought a few edible  souvenirs for my loved ones to bring back home.

…To be continued…

Life: Honeymoon Day 9

Europe, Honeymoon, Life, London, Paris, Planning, Travels, Vacation

On day 9 we woke up early and took a train to the Gare du Nord Station.  We were sad to be leaving our beloved Paris but since we plan on going back sometime in the near future we weren’t too concern.

I had my last pastry in Paris at the station.
We took a TGV train from Paris to Calais, France.  Seeing some of the French countryside on the train was pretty amazing.  The station itself was a tad confusing since they wait until 10 minutes before our train departs to tell you what platform you should wait on.  Once they list the platform you have to dash to the train and find the right car to go on.  The train we went on was very quiet and relaxing.
The little town of Calais was very cute.
If you have been reading about our honeymoon adventures you know what when we first went to Paris we arrived via the Eurostar but since we wanted to experience something different we took the P & O Ferry from Calais to Dover and then a train back into London.  From the little town we decided to take a taxi to the ferry terminal but you can take a bus if you want to save some money.
We had yummy Indian food onboard the Pride of Calais ferry.
The ferry provided a shuttle that took us to the terminal and from there we took a taxi up to Dover Castle.
If you haven’t been following our adventures then you might be asking yourself what about our luggage?  Since we like to travel lightly and we bought very few souvenirs we carried our bag backs with us to the castle. 

Can you see the hubby waving at me?

When we got tired of walking around the beautiful castle we asked one of the workers if they could call a taxi for us and we went on our way.  We took a train from Dover Priory to the Victoria Station and from there the underground to the Earls Court Station.  The train ride was lovely since we got to see a lot of the countryside. 
We stayed at Base 2 Stay in Kensington  and we love the room we got. What we loved about our hotel was that they recommended a great place to eat and we got 10% off because we were staying at Base2Stay.  Orjowan was so good that we had it for dinner the night we arrived and for lunch the next day.
For dessert we had the hubby’s favorite, baklava.
…To be continued…

Life: Honeymoon Day 4 (Part 1)

Eiffel Tower, Europe, Honeymoon, London, Paris, Planning, Travels, Vacation

After a good nights sleep we decided to have breakfast in the hotel and I was excited since I was finally able to try some crumpets.  So, what did I think of the crumpets?  They are pretty much the same thing as an english muffin so I liked them.

We had to check out early because we had train tickets to Paris but before we headed out we walked around our neighborhood for a bit.  We enjoyed walking around and looking at all the beautiful buildings.  We ended up getting a tad lost since a lot of the streets don’t really go straight but stop and start at odd parts of the street.

After we were done walking around we went to catch the Underground where we transferred to St. Pancras International Station.  As it turns out the Underground is very easy to use especially with the Oyster card we purchased when we first got to London.  One thing we noticed on the underground was that its pretty quiet since most people on board are reading.  Going on and off the underground was easy with the amount of luggage we took.

I wish we would have had more time to walk around the neighborhood where the station was located at because it looked really nice outside.  If you guys didn’t know by now London is hosting the 2012 Olympics and throughout the city you can see signs of it.  The station itself is full of shops and restaurants.  There is also a place where you can check in your luggage if you don’t want to be lugging it around with you while you wait for your train.

Before leaving on our trip I booked our trip from London to Paris on the Eurostar.  The cost of the tickets were very expensive but since we booked early we saved some money on them.  The trip from London to Paris was about two hours and fifteen minutes and I used this site to help me find good seats for the train.  The trip was great except for the popping I felt in my ears every time we went into a tunnel.

Once we got to Paris things got interesting since we don’t speak French.  I read in several forums that you need to beware of pickpockets and we did just that.  We were bombarded with people trying to get us to sign things, give them money, or buy things from them.  The first thing we had to do was to find change to use the bathrooms since they are not free.  Once we used the bathrooms we purchased a day pass for the Metro and we were on our way.

As soon as we got out of the Metro we saw the Eiffel Tower and we knew we were in Paris. We walked a little and we realized that we were going the wrong way.  While we were standing around trying to figure out where we were supposed to go a charming little old lady approached us and gave us directions.  We found our way to our hotel where we quickly rushed to set our things down and go to visit the Eiffel Tower.  The hotel we stayed at while in Paris was the Hotel du Cadran. When we walked into our room it smelled like sweet strawberries.  We loved our little boutique hotel.

Our hotel was located about 10 minutes walking distance from the Eiffel Tower.  We stayed in the 7th arrondissement in Paris and it was simply lovely.

We couldn’t believe how big and amazing the Eiffel Tower is.  I lost count of how many photos I took of the Eiffel Tower but this one is the first of many to come.

…To be continued…

Pin It

Life: Honeymoon Day 3 (Part 2)

Europe, Life, London, Planning, Travels, Vacation, Wedding dress, Wicked
As I was saying here we walked around for a long time because we were wasting time until it was our turn to see the the State Rooms in Buckingham Palace.  You guys should know by now why I would be interested in visiting Buckingham Palace and if you don’t let me just say for the “dress” of course.

We wanted to go into Parliament but we ended not getting tickets so we skipped it and went into Jewel Tower instead.

Jewel Tower wasn’t all that it was cracked out to be but the entry fee was cheap so why not. 
From Jewel Tower we walked over to St. Margaret’s Church
The inside of the church was beautiful but since you’re not supposed to take photos in there I couldn’t take many photos.  However, I did manage to get a photo of where the Speaker seats at.  If you guys didn’t know by now I majored in Political Science so this was totally up my alley. 
We really wanted to go into Westminster Abbey but we ran out of time so we decided to save it for our next trip to London.  
After some more walking we realized we hadn’t eaten anything all day so we headed out to look for some fish and chips.   Eating fish and chips was one of the must things to do.
What better place to enjoy some take away fish and chips than at St. James’s Park while we did some people watching.  I love that they have lawn chairs in the park for people to rent. 
I would love to be able to post photos from what we saw inside the State Rooms but photography is prohibited inside Buckingham Palace.   Everything inside was exquisite and breathtaking.  However, the reason we went inside the State Rooms was to see the famous wedding dress.  I had to see it in person since I was one of those crazy people that watched the live broadcast on t.v.  I seriously couldn’t believe how beautiful Kate Middleton’s wedding dress was. The dress itself was worth the money we paid for the entrance.  
We headed back to the hotel to rest for a bit before going out to our next stop.  We had always wanted to see Wicked but we hadn’t gotten around to it Los Angeles.  When I found out it was playing at the Apollo Victoria Theater in London I jumped on the chance.  I got fairly inexpensive tickets but I have to say the seats were amazing.  The theater was lovely and the locals were simply charming.  I can’t wait to see it again in the Pantages theater in Los Angeles. 
…To be continued…
Pin It

Life: Honeymoon Day 3 (Part 1)

Europe, Honeymoon, Life, London, Travels, Vacation

On day 3 we woke up unbelieving we were in London.   We quickly headed out for breakfast before doing some sightseeing.

We walked around the city for a bit before heading out to Buckingham Palace. 

We wanted to see the Changing of the guards but so did everyone else.

There were many police officers doing crowd control. Can you see all the tourist in the background?

We enjoyed the the Coldsteam Guards Band march by us. 

We also enjoyed the drawings of some local children who were learning about their country. 

We ended seeing very little of the actual changing of the guards ceremony but we did enjoy the band and we saw the guards at the Guards Museum.

Across the street from the Guards Museum is St. James’s Park.  It’s a beautiful park where you can spend a day just laying out watching the clouds pass by.

We strolled hand in hand throughout the park. It was magical! 
After our stroll in the park we walked around some more.
We walked until we saw the London Eye and the Thames River.
We saw the Clock Tower and Big Ben.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day since the weather was amazing and the locals were charming. 
…To be continued…
Pin It

Life: Honeymoon Day 2

Europe, Honeymoon, Life, London, Planning, Travels, Vacation
As I was saying yesterday we left  LAX to Heathrow without knowing what to expect.  The 10 + hour flight was brutal even with all the great entertainment on board.  The longest flight we had previously been on was going from LAX to Florida when we went to Walt Disney World.  Our trip was worth the time we spent in flight and if I had to I would do it all over again.  I think you get the point by now the flight was very long. I don’t know if it was the anxiety or the excitement but as soon as we flew over London we forgot about it. 

As soon as we got off the plane and I began to hear people speak in a British accent I was beyond excited well at least I was until we hit the U.K. border custom’s line. 
Fast forward to about an hour later…

As soon as I saw this sign I had to take out my phone and snap a photo. We couldn’t believe we were in London.  Shortly after that we had to figure out how to use the famous Underground which as it turns out is really simple to use.

The easiest way to use the Underground was to purchase an Oyster card.  We initially put about £30 in each of our cards and were told that we could receive a refund at the end of our trip. We took a quick look at the map they gave us at the counter and we went on our way to our first hotel. 

My first impression of the locals was that they were all in a hurry to get somewhere and they were not very friendly.  We ended up getting lost on our way to our hotel after getting out of Victoria Station and as we preceded to ask several individuals for directions we realized that we were not in a very friendly city or at least that’s what it seemed like at the moment.   We finally found our way to our hotel where we decided that we were not going to rest until nightfall in an attempt to avoid being jet lagged.

We stayed at the Premier Inn Victoria a very lovely hotel in a great location.  We were in walking distance from Buckingham Palace, the Victoria Station and a lot of cool shops.

The room was lovely but the bed was just not super comfy. However, we didn’t mind too much since the room was really clean and quiet.  We didn’t expect rooms in Europe to be big at least not in American standards we knew better than that but this room was a decent size.

So, where was the first place we decided to eat at?  You guessed it McDonald’s and Subway which by the way we rarely do when we’re here in the States.  After a quick bite we headed out to explore our neighborhood.

We ended up heading out to Buckingham Palace and this was about the time that I realized I had forgotten my tripod. It was a big oops especially since the only reason why I bought it was for our trip.

Pin It

Life: Honeymoon Day 1

Honeymoon, London, Paris, Planning, Vacation

On my last honeymoon post I was telling you about some of the planning that I did before our trip which you can read about here. The day we left on our honeymoon the hubby decided to work from home while I finished getting our stuff ready for the trip.  As he was hard at work I packed and unpacked our luggage until I got it just right or at least that’s what I thought.  I decided long before our trip that I wanted to travel light I mean I seriously didn’t want to be lugging around things from one country to the next, who would do such a thing? We purchased a luggage set a long time ago which included one carryon bag but that type of carryon was not what I had in mind.  I wanted something that I could throw on my back and go if need be.  I wanted something bigger than a backpack but lighter than a simple carryon.  I went to several stores before I settled on the ones I purchased.  Once gain my frugality came to play as I was looking for the luggage.  I knew I had to buy two and I didn’t want to spend much so I set out to places like Marshall’sTJ MaxxRoss, and even Target.  I saw different types of luggage but not the ones I envisioned us carrying throughout Europe.  The day before we left I finally found something that looked promising and I bought it.  I ended up buying our luggage at Burlington Coat Factory and although it was not as dreamy as I hoped it would be it did the job.  I ended up paying about $30 for each one.

I know they look a tad childish but I least they could be spotted out in a sea of luggage.  The two key elements when buying these were that they could be rolled and they could also be used as backbacks and these fit the bill. These look a tad full but keep in mind that I took this photo when we got back from our trip.  I also bought cute labels from Target to put our address and name just in case they got lost. When it was time to pack I used this list as a template of the things we would need.  I made some adjustments to the list to fit our lifestyle.  One IMPORTANT thing that I didn’t take into consideration when we booked our flight was the weight limit for our carryon luggage.  It turns out that although our carryon was the right measurements it did not meet the weight requirement that Virgin Atlantic has.  There goes my idea of not checking in our luggage but at least we didn’t have to lug a big bag around.  One of the best purchases I made before our trip was buying these Brita bottles because as it turns out drinking fountains are nonexistent in Europe.  Another great tip that I found on several forums was the use of a money belt which we didn’t go anywhere without.  I purchased ours at Marshall’s for less than $10 each and it was an investment that gave us great peace of mind especially after seeing all the “Beware of pickpockets” signs everywhere.  Besides our “carryon” bags we also took a small messenger bag where we kept important things like medication, our 3-1-1 bags, and our folder with all our reservations.  In my purse I took my camera, my money belt (I put it on once we were past security at the airport), and my 4 SD cards (I took a lot of cards since we didn’t take a computer to offload the photos into).  
Once I quadrupled checked all our paperwork which included the countless reservations I had made and I checked that we had copies of our passports deep inside our luggage we were on our merry way. Before we left home we checked in online and filled out all the necessary paperwork that was required of us and I went so far as to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to cover all our basis while we were away.  To prepare to go through the security scan I made sure to pack our belts in the luggage, I wore a sports bra, and I told my hubby to take everything out of his pockets and put it in the messenger bag before we went through the line.  Once we went through security and were waiting for our flight we realized that we had gotten to the airport too early.  We left four hours ahead of our scheduled flight because we didn’t know what to expect. Next time around we’re planning on leaving two hours before our international flight is scheduled to leave.  We bought a few snacks for the plane and we waited for our flight to leave.  Once we were on the plane I was glad that I had used SeatGuru to pick our seats.  
Our flight left right on time at 9:15pm local time and was set to arrive at Heathrow at 3:50pm local time.  Overall we had a good flight with the exception of the cranky lady sitting behind me that kept hitting the back of my seat .  I do have to admit though if I could do it again I would have gotten a layover somewhere in the middle of our flight since we felt that 10+ hours is much too long to be on an airplane. 

We both thought that Virgin Atlantic was a great choice for our first time flying overseas.  All I have to say is that the food was good, the staff was friendly, the entertainment was great, and the goodie bag they gave us was a plus. 
…To be continued…
Pin It

Life: Pre-honeymoon planning

Honeymoon, Life, London, Paris, Planning, Vacation

I previously mentioned here that the hubby and I were planning on going to Europe for our honeymoon.  Now that we’re back  I would like to share with all of you the highlights of our trip.  Let me begin by saying that neither one of us had ever been to Europe and we had no idea what to expect.  I began the planning process six months before our trip.  I read countless of forums, books, and reviews pertaining to anything that might make me a savvy traveler.

Here’s a little about what I learned:

I first began planning our trip by booking our flight and I used Kayak and ITA software to look for them.  Once I saw a flight I liked I went to the individual sites and compared their fees to the others.  After doing a few comparisons we decided to fly with Virgin Atlantic.  I read several articles like this one that said that Tuesdays were the best day to purchase tickets.  I bought them a few months before we left because I wanted to make sure we got decent seats since we were flying economy. I used SeatGuru to compare the different seats on the airplane which came in handy on the way over there. Overall I was pleased with our flight with Virgin with the exception of their carryon requirements which you can find here. We decided to fly from Los Angeles International Airport to Heathrow Airport in London on a 10 hour nonstop flight.

When I was looking up which hotels to stay at I used sites like Trip AdvisorFodor’sFrommer’sCondé Nast Traveler, and the New York Times Travel to aid me in the process.  I read an insane amount of reviews and tried really hard to see past the “fake” ones.  I focused on the value a hotel gave us versus how much it was going to cost us.  I mean you have to know by now that I’m a tad frugal nonetheless I did not rule out staying at either 4 or 5 star hotels.

Once I had the two major things out of the way I focused on our itinerary and I began to plan out the fun things. I will recap our honeymoon in the next few weeks and along the way I will include details on how how we got from London to Paris, how much luggage we took and how we dealt with the different currency.


Before any planning began I made sure that we had passports  and that we didn’t  didn’t need any visas to the places we were traveling to.  Since I changed my name when we got married I need to make sure it was up to date.  I ordered my new passport with plenty of time especially since we hadn’t set the dates for our vacation.  I decided to take my passport photos at AAA* and I summited it at the United States Postal Service.  Make sure that you send in all the information correctly because it will save you time and money. Visit here for more information and passport applications.

*You might want to order an extra set of passport photos just in case you lose your passport or if it gets stolen when your on your trip. 

Good luck and happy travels!

Here are the recaps of our trip:

Day 1, Day 2,  Day 3 (Pt. 1), Day 3 (Pt. 2), Day 4 (Pt. 1), Day 4 (Pt. 2), Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9,