Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Veggie Tales

Today, I stumbled upon this little farmers market right up the street. As often as I frequent to Manhattan Beach, I was surprised that I had no idea about this place. Believe it or not, it was right up the street! How could I have been so oblivious to this little bustling market? Every Tuesday, they close down the street and host a mini farmers market. Walking past all these little tents, the smell of sweet delights wafting in the air won me over, so I decided to check it out. There were many different stations, selling bread, fruits, veggies, delicatessens from all over the world. Eye candy would be used to describe all the food in the stands. They were so fresh and unbelievably vibrant with color. As I took in the sights of this market, my stomach would growl every time I walked past a food stand. Being the foodie that I am, I said to my sister " I'm starving!". We passed this Greek stand, it looked fantastic. The food was on the grill, cooking, charcoal smoke wafting up in to the air. Perfect, Greek food never looked this good. I just had to try it. After scanning the menu, I eventually decided on a Gyro (pronounced as hero), a delicacy in Greece. Basically a Gyro is your choice of meat, Lamb, Beef, or Chicken, wrapped up in Pita bread, with toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and of course cucumber yogurt sauce. I was surprised to find out this dish was remarkably similar to my favorite dish. The turkey meatball pita bread sandwich, a dish I grew up with. I had always wondered where in the world would this dish be a part of the local cuisine. At last, my question was answered just by visiting the farmers market, not far from where I am currently at. The Gyro was scrumptious, juicy and plump, it was just right. Who knew, a short walk would take me to a fun filled farmers market. No farmers market experiences are complete without buying something, so of course, I came home with a huge box of fresh strawberries. They were huge fat strawberries, and such a bargain too! Five bucks for each box of strawberries, later on I went to the local grocery store and found that the strawberries were costly and hardly fresh. There is bound to be a farmers market in every city, if you know where to look, perhaps even stumble upon them. How can you go wrong with fresh, delicious fruits, and veggies? Start working on the food pyramid, stay healthy, and of course happy travels!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

East, West, South, no it's the North End Cafe


I found this little gem the other day, North End Cafe in Manhattan Beach, California. Yelp is a application for the Iphone, that allows you to rate, review, comment on a certain locations, and businesses. I stumbled upon a page for North End Cafe, and it was highly recommended by customers, great reviews and currently holds 4 and 1/2 stars. It sounded too good to be true, so I went out to find this little place right by the beach, and fell in love immediately. It's large windows, modern design, made for a great bistro. This place is known for their panini's, and rightly so. After scanning the menu that hangs in the window(pictured above) I settled upon the Vespa panini, it was a Grecian style panini. As I sat at the tables, over looking the ocean, it reminded me of those little French or Italian cafes alongside the beach. I took one bite of the panini, it was scrumptious, hearty. It was as if it was an solid version of french onion soup. The Vespa panini consisted of caramelized onions, goat cheese, tomatoes and a savory delicious sauce. The North End cafe is a fantastic place to get a good meal, sit by the beach and to chat with friends. Be sure to stop by this place if you are ever in town.

The link to the restaurant for directions, numbers, etc (below)

http://www.yelp.com/biz/north-end-cafe-manhattan-beach

Monday, April 13, 2009

Travel Lessons Learned.

Laughing hysterically, tears in my eyes as I am recalling my travel experiences, mistakes I have made and lessons learned. Chatting away on the most wackiest chaotic stories, I thought to myself today, why not make a list of things I have learned. As a traveler, you are always evolving. You always think to yourself at the end of each vacation "On our next vacation, I am going to do this! or I will avoid doing this". We live and learn, and strive to make our next vacation the best it can be, stress free, and relaxing. So, I thought I would jot down a couple lessons that I have learned over the years.

*Pack Light*:Perhaps the most important lesson of all, no matter the situation, the best thing you can do for yourself is to pack light. Think to yourself at the end of each packing trial, "Do I really need this?". It is probably the most important question you can ask yourself before you go on a vacation. Do yourself a favor and pack as light as you can. It takes time and effort, to pack light and somehow manage to bring enough clothing, items for your journey. Start about a month before, pack, and repack. The trick is to keep the things you think you will need first on top, rather on the bottom of the luggage. So you are not rummaging through the luggage, making a huge mess.

Try to get a hotel closest to the sights, attraction you are visiting: Believe it or not, just because you think its cheaper to go a little out of the way. You will wind up paying transportation fees, maps can be confusing, especially when you are in a foreign country. Transportation can be quite stressful, if its all new to you. Better to shell out the extra bucks in a nice hotel within walking distance of the attractions rather on transportation.
Note: The upside of staying off the beaten track is serenity, cute charming towns. Stay for a day or two, don't expect to go to the next city and see the sights and come right back. Which brings me to my next lesson learned.

Don't underestimate Travel Times: Just as important as the first lesson. No matter what you what destination, don't assume the travel times. There could be traffic, map confusion, long travel times. Maybe the hotel isn't that close to the airport as you originally thought it would be. You can't think " They say it's about half an hour to the airport from the hotel, so we have the whole day to sight see!" That is not how it works. Usually count the travel days as one day, solely focused on traveling. Travel days take up the entire day, you have to pack, check out from the hotel, then find means of transportation whether it be trains, planes, or automobiles to the next destination. They are time consuming days, be prepared to take up the whole day traveling, checking in and out, managing the new city. You wont have time to sight see, even you managed to fit it in, it will be stressful because you have to make it to the next flight or destination at a certain time. Not fun.

Always have a Plan B(ee): You never know if the reservation for your hotel room/apartment rentals fell through. Best thing is to check out other possible hotels, or apartment rentals(craigslist). Jot them down on a piece of paper, or even email the list to yourself. That way you always have it. Make sure no matter what the situation is, have a plan B. It makes it so much less stressful, and easier.

OUCH! Never underestimate the power of the First Aid kit: This I learned when I was in Austria, I was involved in a bike accident that banged up my knee pretty bad. But I hardly brought band-aids or neosporin(which is the best thing you can possibly bring). It's always a good idea to bring along some travel aids, such as band-aids, neosporin, and other first aid supplies. Don't over do it though, unless you are taking a serious trek through the country, camping, backpacking, or taking a long trip even.

Be aware of your surroundings: It is always a must, whether you are at home or far away in some foreign exotic destination. On my previous trips, I have been mugged, and stalked, it is so critically important to be aware of your surroundings. Always be cautious, and of course, go with your gut instinct. If you get a funny feeling about a place or a person, best thing is to get out and get out as fast as you can.

Mugging Lessons: In the event of being mugged, what I have learned is to make copies of all of your important documents, visas, credit cards(front and back of the cards), Passports, Passport photos(make sure they are on a photo paper for the photos). Once this happens, call your credit card company, and cancel your cards right away. Having your bank numbers on your contacts in your phone is really handy as well. Keep your money in several different locations, In your purse, money belt(if you have one, if you do put your passport there too if you are seriously worried). That way, you have some cash with you, in case you do get robbed.

Laptop bugaboo: Laptops, (Only for the serious businessman) is something you can consider leaving home. If you do decide to bring it(I hope you don't need to) make sure the Internet works, make sure there are no bugs, or viruses that can wreak havoc on your computer. It is bulky, heavy, takes a lot of room in your carry-on/suitcase, and higher risk of theft or damages. we brought a laptop on one of our trips, and it didn't work, the Internet connection would not do anything. Turns out, we had to download a software specifically for that computer to work abroad. It was an old type of computer, that we erased the memory, wiped it clean except for the internet. Which is all we needed, the internet, and if it got lost, we wouldn't be all up in arms about it. No big deal. But, we wiped out the software that makes the computer actually work, connect to the internet etc. It was a big ordeal, and we had to lug a huge bulky old laptop that didn't even work the entire trip! So, the computer is best left to the Iphone. The Iphone is the the hardcore travelers best travel gadget. It has travel application, money converters, tip calculator, language translation, etc and of course it works abroad! Check At&t for their latest rates, and get your own Iphone. Believe me, it does what the laptop can do.

Each of these lessons, I learned the hard way. Believe me. I lost my apartment reservation, had no plan B, was in a bike accident, missed a flight because I underestimated the travel times. Whatever the situation was, I wished I had known all of these tips beforehand. It would have made a huge difference in my travel experiences! Nonetheless, I am glad that I got to experience them first hand, they made for great travel stories. I wouldn't have changed them for the world! Get out there, be prepared, and have fun!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Organic Energy snack that is the BumbleBar.


The Bumble Bar.. What is it? It is a, vegan snack packed with organic energy. It composes of sesame seeds, nuts, and depending on which bar you get, fruits, etc. It is big and also light, perfect for those long flights, nature hikes, or even a simple morning snack before you head off for work/school. Because it is light and vegan, doesn't mean it's not filling and scrumptious. It comes in a variety of 12 flavors. My personal favorite is Tropical, jubilant with vibrant flavors such as pineapple, and coconut making for one tasty snack! I grab this on the go, on red eye flights, or even for a snack. It fills me up, energizes me for the day. Most vegan snack bars, are not so tasty, take a bite out of this one and you will agree this is the tastiest of them all! You can purchase them at the local health food market, such as Whole foods, Rainbow Acres, Trader Joes (those markets are in So. California) So make sure you know your local supermarket. Head on over there,or if you rather order them online. Check out the website link below.
Happy Travels!

http://www.bumblebar.com

Monday, April 6, 2009

St. Bee's Island... is it a real place??

Much to my surprise, I was reading an adorable article about a lost puppy that had been found after four months. Apparently the dog fell overboard in Australia, and swam 5 miles away to a local island. Where it began to live in survival mode, living on what she could find. Four months after being declared lost, someone found the dog and returned her back to her family! Awwww.

The link to the article is as prompted below:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090406/ts_afp/australiaanimaldogoffbeat_20090406082210


BUT what we were surprised to find was that there is a island off the Australian Coast named St. Bees. I was thrilled to find that there is a actual place in the world that has the Travelbee's name written all over it!
The Travelbee, I, must visit this island!!
Here is the info below, its true!

http://www.about-australia.com/queensland/mackay/destinations/st-bees-island/

Lake Arrowhead, California


View of Lake Arrowhead


The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the mountains couldn't be any more beautiful. Lake Arrowhead is the known for is cold winters and for it's easy access to Big Bear ski resorts. Nestled smack dab in the middle of San Bernadino Mountains, in Southern California. Most come up here for a little R&R, skiing and what else, it's picturesque location. Once you arrive, the first stop is the Village. "The Village" which is reminiscent of a Swiss town with it's European style buildings. It is the place to go for festivals, little shopping, and of course taking a spin on the lake with your boats. In the fall, you will encounter our own version of Oktoberfest, in the winter there are Singing Carols, and of course boatloads of concerts in the Summertime. There are three beautiful lakes in the San Bernadino Mountains, Lake Gregory, Lake Arrowhead, and Lake Silverwood all of which are in close vicinity of each other. There are a range of outside sports you can do here, Hang Gliding, Boating, Water Skiing, Swimming, and of course Skiing/Snowboarding. Big Bear ski resorts is actually about half hour to a hour away from Lake Arrowhead. The mountains is at is peak during the winter and during the summer. Come on up! visit my hometown!

So, the next time you drink the Lake Arrowhead bottle, think about arranging a trip to the actual place.

Keep in mind: the winters are harsh, driving up the mountain is a bit risky. Make sure you have chains, warm clothes, and drive with caution. The fog makes the driving really hazardous, be careful and drive slow.


Happy Travels!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tip of the Day

Imagine this scenario. You open your suitcase after a long flight into Paris, and you discover that your shampoo is a bit rebellious. It had spilled all over the suitcase, sticking to clothes, to the bag, nearly everything. Dismayed, it had been a long flight! But nonetheless, you are stuck cleaning your bag before you finally you get some shuteye. Well, it is every traveler's nightmare. It happens to the best of us, yes even I have encountered this dilemma many times myself. I discovered that the great way to solve this problem is to use baby wipes, or even hand wipes. Use that to clear up the shampooy mess, its quick and the best part is you can throw it away. Rather than using up all your towels in the hotel room. Let the bag or suitcase dry, put your stuff back in and then you are on your merry way to your next destination. It is great for cleaning makeup bags, suitcases, etc. So simple, quick and so easy to do. To prevent the shampoo from rebelling again, simply put them in a Ziploc bag and then put it in your case. Ziploc bags and baby wipes can usually be found in the travel section in your local supermarket and they come in handy travel sizes. Perfect right? It has so many convenient uses, so make sure before you go on a trip, pick these items up. You won't regret it!

Happy Travels!

"The Great Escape" : the art of traveling in the cinema.

Being the movie and travel fanatic that I am, it is no surprise that this article would come along. Film and Traveling, two great things to have been created in the planet that we call Earth. Well, besides us of course! When those two, what you would get is the Big Bang and no I am not talking about the Universe. When you watch a movie, you are automatically transformed into another world, another time and place. In fact, in the Great Depression Era, film transformed many into another world, and it was appropriately referred as " The Great Escape". Penniless, somehow they scrounged up enough change to go watch the latest film to hit theatres. What makes a movie so compelling that they were willing to spend their last nickel and dimes? One might argue what makes a great film, well here is my two cents. However, not all movies are just solely about traveling. Mainly, its the location that has the ability to make the audience think in awe "Wow, its so beautiful, I want to go there!" The cinematography is so critically important for a screenplay. Of course, there are other elements that makes a great movie, the plot, the actors, etc. The location, the director responsibility is to capture the moment on film, and the location is important. It also creates an atmosphere for a lot of romantic comedies. Like for instance, in the film When Harry met Sally there is a beautiful scene where Harry and Sally are walking in Central Park in New York in the Fall. The vibrant colors in the background added to the scene, it created an enviroment, a serene setting. Now of course, New York is very common in films, especially when it comes to romantic comedies. But, you also have to keep in mind of other locations such as Seattle, Paris, London, Rome, and countless of other locations. Have I convinced you, the reader that the location is just as important to a film just like the screenplay, the actors are? I hope so, and I hope you will check these films out. you wont be disapointed. So, I thought I would compile a list of films that will in turn, inspire you to travel. Enjoy.

California:
Clueless
Sideways
Singing in the Rain

Great Britain:
Pride and Prejudice
Snatch
Sliding Doors
Snatch
Death at a Funeral (Only because it is a fantastic British Film not to be missed!)
Four Weddings and Funeral
Penelope
Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Paris, France and other regions:
Amelie
Love me if you Dare
Funny Face
Marie Antoinette
French Kiss
Chocolat
An American in Paris
Breakfast at Tiffany's

New York:
When Harry Met Sally
You've Got Mail
Moonstruck
On the Town
Devil Wears Prada

Ireland:
Matchmaker
P.S I love you (half the film is in Ireland, so pretty!)
Made of Honor

Australia:
Australia
Crocodile Dundee

Germany:
Run Lola Run
The Downfall
Goodbye Lenin!

Poland:
Everything is Illuminated
Schindler's List

Greece:
Mamma Mia
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Seattle, Washington:
Sleepless in Seattle

Rome, Italy and other regions:
Roman Holiday
Only You
Much Ado About Nothing
Gladiator
Under the Tuscan Sun

India;
Darjeeling Limited

Africa:
The Ghost and the Darkness
Out of Africa
The Mummy 1 and 2

China:
Lost in Translation
Mr. Nice Guy (any Jackie Chan movies dubbed in English)
Memoirs of Geisha

Other:
Two for the Road
Before Sunset, and Before Sunrise
The Notebook (East Coast)
John Adams; HBO Mini Series *Boston, Massachusetts*
ElizabethTown(Top Favorite, Must watch!)
National Lampoons Family Vacation(with Clark Griswalds, European one is so funny)
Catch me if you can

NOTE:
All movies should have Closed Captioning or Subtitles on the DVD's or VHS.

There are many more films I cannot think of them all right now. But, any suggestions please do not hesitate to comment, and let me know! I will add them right away. Thanks :)