Sunday, July 6, 2014

Italy - Positano Scrapped

For my Italy travel partners birthday I hustled through a scrapbook of our trip. I don't think I've ever made a scrapbook this quickly.  I think I got a good 30 pages done in 6 weeks  Revisiting all the photos of this trip made me yearn for another trip to Europe.  Without further adieu my favorite ages from the first half of our trip to Positano.











Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Paso Picacho Campground

Our last camping trip in October got cut short by a family emergency so in February we decided it was time to redeem ourselves.  Our go to campground is closed for the winter so we found Paso Picacho Campground in Cuyamaca State Park south of Julian that is open on a first come first serve basis year round (note you need reservations April-October). We drove out on a Saturday morning, took about an hour and 15 minutes from the coast. It was a great, quiet little campground.  I swore I'd remember this but I'm not sure if it's correct, I think we chose site number 34.  It had a great peek view of a meadow down below where we saw tons of white tail deer and amazing views of Stonewall Peak across the road.  However the best (to us, most private) sites looked like they were at the back of the campground but that area was closed for some reason.

Site #34?

View of Stonewall Peak

We had hiked Stonewall Peak before so we decided to do Cuyamaca Peak, out the back side of the campground.  It's a longer hike with a steady incline, I think about 6 miles round trip.  We ended up taking the fire road the entire way up because we couldn't find another path that we were sure went where we wanted to go. The lower half of the hike was through the still burnt out trees of the fires that swept through this area a few years ago, kind of eerie looking at times but beautiful.  Once we got up a little higher the greenery started filling in.

Happy Hikers

Almost to the top, looking west

Husband face

This is definitely a campsite we'll come back to.  We also want to try Green Valley Campground right down the road, it has a little stream running through it but it closed in the "winter." Julian is about 10 minutes up the road if you want your apple pie fix.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Italy-Ischia

I realized that I never posted about the second half of my trip to Italy. After Positano and the Amalfi Coast we ventured out to Ischia Island for 3 nights. Ischia Island is known for it's natural hot springs and thermal baths which are said to have healing properties. They have a big hot springs garden there (called Citara)  but we didn't visit that. We took a ferry from Positano directly there. It left bright and early and we were a little hungover due to overindulgence in wine (weird) so we napped on the boat.

Napping on boats, Ischia bound. One of my favorite photos from the trip

The ferry took us to the main port (Ischia Porto) on the northeast side of the island.  After some searching online we decided to stay in Forio which is on the west side of the island. Forio has a sort of laid-back, village vibe.  There's some shopping and restaurants and bars but it's not a late night sort of place.  We found Hotel Providence online after a lot of TripAdvisor searching. It had good reviews and was across the street from the beach.  It had a wonderful outdoor pool with amazing views.  The rooms are nothing special but clean and we didn't spend any time in them except to sleep. The staff was friendly, it was definitely a very quiet hotel that seemed to cater to an older crowd. It's also slightly outside the center of Forio but it's a beautiful walk along the water to get into Forio, takes about 10-15 minutes.

The view from the pool deck at Hotel Providence

We only had 3 nights and two full days in Ischia so we didn't get to do as much as we wanted to. Looking back I am really disappointed that we didn't find the time to hike up to the peak of Mt. Epomeo.  When we arrived we relaxed at the pool at the hotel for a few hours and then walked into the town to eat and drink more.  There's a little row of restaurants across from the water, all of the ones we tried were delicious.

The next day we took the bus over to Ischia Ponte to check out Castello Aragonese, one of the main tourist attractions on Ischia.  It's an old medieval castle just of the northeast side of Ischia and connected to it by a foot bridge.  We spent hours wandering around and taking in the amazing views...and checking out torture chambers. We even went for a dip in the water off the foot bridge on our way out. 

Magnificent Castello Aragonese

The view down onto Ischia Ponte from Castello Aragonese

The beautiful gardens


Our last day on Ischia was spent at the beach across the street from our hotel, Cava dell'isola.  We were told by the bartender at our hotel that it was the "young beach" and he was right. It seemed like the "high school hangout" with many over-groomed dudes in speedos playing soccer. I can't say I'm a fan of the speedo look but the beach was beautiful.  The water was extremely calm and warm but still cool enough to be refreshing. We baked all day then ate a late lunch at the restaurant on the north end of the beach.

Cava dell'isola

Speedos!

That night we ate and drank as usual and accidentally went on a date with two Italian dudes who quickly fell in love with us. What an uncomfortable evening that was. We went to a small romantic town called Sant'Angelo and got gelato.  It was a beautiful and classy little place however we were under the impression that we were going dancing at a club and I think we were dressed a little too risqué for the crowd there.  We got quite a few disapproving looks and I'm fairly certain that the crowd there thought we were paid companions. By the end of the evening we couldn't wait to escape back to our little hotel room.

The next day we took a ferry back to Naples where we had to spend the night for our 6am flight home. We got a little hotel room near the airport and Naples is not a safe place for 2 chicas to be walking around at night so we settled in, got some takeout and attempted to sleep before the long flight home back to reality.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hong Kong

The fun part of my work trip to China was the day and a half we spent in Hong Kong.  China works 6 days a week so on Saturday afternoon we headed across the border into Hong Kong to spend the "weekend" there. We arrived and checked into our hotel and then wandered around Hong Kong.  I am not a city person and HK is crazy and hectic and crowded but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't get to do much in my short time there but at least I got to see it.

The amazing bridges of Hong Kong

Hong Kong streets

Dorky selfie, HK

After wandering and eating (oddly) at an Irish bar in Ocean Center, a massive mall on Victoria Harbor, we took a ferry from Ocean Center across the water to...well I don't know where to.  I was with two people that spend a lot of time in Hong Kong so I just followed them around. We wandered for hours and by the time we caught the ferry back to Ocean Center it was dark and cloud were hanging low and it made for some AMAZING photos.  We sat at a bar along the water with the thousands of people milling around and watched the light show, A Symphony of Lights,  they play on the buildings on the bay there.






On Sunday we took the tram up Victoria Peak to see Hong Kong from above, a really awesome experience.  The tram leaves out of this little building and goes up, up, up, very steep.  There's amazing views and the top and gardens to wander around.

The tram goes up


Hong Kong from Victoria Peak
Back view, Victoria Peak
High above Hong Kong

When we got back down we were supposed to head back to Dongguan but the bosses decided we should stay in HK for one more night.  We moved hotels to the W on Kowloon Bay.  Let me tell you, if you every have a chance to stay at this hotel DO IT.  It costs a fortune but if I ever go back to HK I will stay there.  It's the epitome of luxury and good design with amazing views and a rooftop pool. I', not normally a luxury traveler but I got a taste of the good life here. and I definitely wouldn't mind doing that again. We spent the afternoon at the rooftop "pool party" where they split the pool area in half, a quiet area for guests staying at the hotel and a party area with a DJ for people coming in to drink too much.  It was a bit gloomy but still plenty warm

The view from our room at the W

View from the rooftop pool at the W

I'm on the 76th floor, so that building behind me is TALL

After an afternoon and evening in the hot tub high above Kowloon Bay we paid a visit to Ozone, touted as the tallest bar in the world (118th floor). It's on the top floor of the Ritz Carlton it was swanky and big and man was it high up.

The rainy view from Ozone

After our night at Ozone (and maybe a few too many glasses of wine) we woke up and had to go back to the reality of work in China. Until next time Hong Kong.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Maui - Scrapped

I did some pages for my long weekend in Maui last year finally.  I now have tropical vacations on my mind...where to next?








Saturday, March 8, 2014

China

Guess who has not scrapbooked or kept up on the blog in ages? This girl. Life took over with working, selling our condo, finding a new place to live, the holidays and all that other stuff in between. Not to mention our California "winter" has been warm and sunny and who wants to stay indoors and craft when it's beautiful out? But don't you worry, I sat down this morning and started 4 different blog posts, I'm back!

About a year and a half ago (after an extended length of unemployment) I took a job in product development at a company that designs and produces accessories for a variety of brands.  I jumped from marketing into an entirely different career because an old co-worker of mine was willing to give me a chance. It's the best career move I have ever made and I have been enjoying the challenge of this new job every day since.

This job took me on my first trip to China.  This blog post will be a bit different than my other travel posts because I did not have much time for sight seeing or beach time but I still had an incredible experience and a wonderful time.

First of all China requires an advance travel visa and I've never had to deal with that before, luckily work takes care of that part...and the plane ticket. The Visa is also good for a year from the date of issue.  I traveled with 3 other co-workers, many of whom travel to China 4 times a year. The trip was long and we just beat a tropical storm hitting Taiwan. Lucky, with the exception of takeoff and landing, long flights don't bother me too much.  So 13 hours to Taiwan, another 2 to Hong Kong and then a car to the border of China where we had to walk across. Then another hour or two to Dongguan because our driver kept getting lost.  At least we got to see a lot.

We ended up at The Hyatt Regency in Dongguan on Song Shan Lake, quite possibly one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in and for a VERY reasonable (for what you get) price of about $160/night. Song Shan Lake is not a jump in the water while you're on vacation sort of like, it's purely ornamental.  There are signs around the lake saying don't get in the water or fish in it. Dongguan (in the GuangDong province of China, northeast of Hong Kong) is known for it's manufacturing so most of the travelers are there on business as we were.  I would not come here for vacation, but I would highly recommend the hotel if you do happen to be in the area.  It has every amenity you can imagine and beautiful rooms with views of the lake as well as a nice jogging path around the lake. It was a great and relaxing place to come back too after a long day at factories.

View from my room at the Hyatt over Songshan Lake

Path around and on Songshan Lake
Breakfast at the hotel
High Rise near our office in Dongguan

Because we were working the whole time most of my experience in Dongguan was inside factories.  We had one factory take us to an amazing lunch where they found vegetarian dim sum for me.  Vegetarian food is, surprisingly, not an easy thing to find in China.  They don't have tofu on every corner like you would expect.  This experience with local factory workers gave me a deep appreciation for the hard work of the Chinese people.  My company has an office in Dongguan and I know how hard that staff works but seeing it on a factory level is different.  It also gave me a deeper appreciation of just how lucky I am, and for the freedoms we have as Americans.  And it also broke my heart a little, I have a bit of a bleeding one but I won't get into that, I'll just post more pictures

Streets of Dongguan

Veggie dumplings at a traditional Chinese lunch!
Rice steamed inside bamboo
Lunch


After 5 days at work we headed to Hong Kong for the "weekend." Post coming soon.

Crossing the border into Hong Kong

Friday, October 25, 2013

Italy - Amalfi Coast Boat Trip

Oh how the time flies by.  Life has been a whirlwind of travel, weddings and long workdays as of late which means very little time for scrapbooking and blogging. Since my last post I have been to China & Hong Kong, Mendocino & Yosemite. But before I get to those I must finish up my tales of Italy.

By far our very, very favorite part of our trip to Italy was the day long boat trip we took along the whole Amalfi Coast.  Our boat captain (Salvatore) was the BEST. Photos and words can't do justice to how pretty it was and how much fun we had. If you are ever in Positano take this trip, it was the best 80 Euros we spent on our trip.

Our day started at 11 when Salvatore picked us up from the little dock at Laurito Beach. Rosa, the owner of our rental, was able to call and have them pick us up there so we didn't have to take a cab into Positano. From the moment we got on the boat the group we were with felt like a little family.  Salvatore spoke great English, was a wealth of information, funny and kind.  He made the day incredible and the group we took the tour with was amazing as well, a mix of American, Australian and Italian. We headed south from Laurito along the rocky coastline.  It was picturesque and nice to see the coast from the water rather than the road.  It's even prettier from the water. As we motored down the coast Salvatore gave information and history the areas and buildings we were passing by. I apologize in advance for the ridiculous amount of photos, it was just such an incredible day.

Leaving Laurito
Salvatore, doing his thing
Amalfi Coast Road

Our first "stop" was to go swimming in a cave.  That small opening below opened into a huge cavern with stalactites hanging from the ceiling.  It smelled kinda funky but I really wish I had a GoPro to capture that moment.



Amazing old buildings along the coast

Next we went to Furore, if you've seen a travel board on Pinterest you've seen this bridge from the other side.  Beautiful little beach in a canyon.  Unfortunately boats are not allowed into this cove beach area so we couldn't stop here.

Bridge on the road over Furore
Furore Beach, this is as close as we could get

Next stop was the elephants kissing arch, it's good luck for couples to touch it.  Since everybody thought Hill & I were a couple we went for it.

Elephants Kissing

Good luck?

And then we jumped in the water again by another little sea cave that actually had a little beach in it.  Unfortunately no cameras made it in there.

Floating in the super salty sea

And then there was lunch, the most enjoyable lunch I've had in ages. The beachfront restaurant we stopped at prepared fish that Salvatore had caught that morning.  My vegetarian self didn't eat it of course but that right there is a meal with heart.  Lunch was filled with great conversation and bonding with the other people in our group.

Lunch by the sea

When Salvatore found out I'm a vegetarian he had a special dish made for me

After a lunch of copious wine and amazing conversation we boarded the boat again and Salvatore popped a bottle of champagne and we slowly motored back to Laurito.

Yep, he pulled the cork out with his teeth


Wowzers

Perfect Day