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

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Italy - Positano

A little over a month ago I returned from my very first trip to Italy and it was epic.  I went with a girlfriend and left husband-face at home. Everybody was shocked at that but my belief is that he was OK with this girls trip because it will allow him to go on a boys heli-boarding trip to Alaska.

Since we only had 9 days there we had to focus on one area of Italy.  I had heard nothing but good things about the Amalfi Coast and we wanted to get some beach time in so that's where we decided on. We spent 4 days in Positano and it was not enough.  It was breathtakingly beautiful and there was so much more we wanted to see and do.

We rented a studio apartment about 3-4 miles outside of town. I think if we had known the area better we probably would have stayed in town at a hotel.  But we wanted a kitchenette for breakfasts and that breathtaking ocean view that we couldn't afford at the hotels in town. So I found this adorable little studio on Trip Advisor and we went for it.  If I were to visit Positano again I would definitely fork over the money for a hotel in town because the bus didn't run as frequently as we hoped and a taxi ride into town was expensive (20 Euros for 3-4 miles). However the owner of the house (Rosa) was wonderful and extremely helpful and the studio was perfect with a private terrace and an amazing view.

The road to Positano

The view north into Positano from our terrace

We managed to fit a lot into our 4 days in Positano.  The day we flew in we arrived at our rental and quickly showered and made our way down to the beach below our rental which was called Laurito.  Laurito Beach was 510 steps down from the road and the down is worse than the up.  By the time you get down there your legs are shaking.  The climb down is worth it. Laurito is a wonderful little rock beach with chairs you can rent and a great restaurant called Da Adolfo.  Our jet lagged selves quickly drank to much of the local peach wine and became friends with the awesome servers there. I also discovered my favorite local food, slabs of mozzarella grilled between 2 lemon leaves, yum. After we'd sufficiently pickled ourselves on wine (and Limoncello) we snoozed in the chairs for awhile.  We are far too cheap to pay 15 Euros to sit in a chair but luckily our favorite server also ran the beach and let us lounge in the chairs for free.

Down, down, down

Beautiful Laurito Beach


More peach wine please!  Steffano, our favorite waiter

After baking ourselves in the sun we decided it was time to get our act together and get some dinner.  Rosa recommended a restaurant about a 10 minute walk from our studio called La Taverna Del Leone.  It's kind of sketchy walking down the narrow, windy road hoping you don't get hit by a car but well worth the walk. I just wouldn't recommend walking home in the dark. When we arrived the restaurant was quiet and not very crowded. We sat outside on the patio and proceeded to gorge ourselves on delicious pizza, pasta and wine, this quickly became the theme of the trip along with the hashtag #fatkidsforlife.  We had an awesome waiter, I wish we remembered his name.  After dinner we bought a bottle of wine to go and he drove us back to our studio so we wouldn't have to walk down the windy road in the dark, now that's service.


Down the windy road in a gown

#notdating at La Taverna del Leone

Somehow we woke up without hangovers or jet lad and decided we needed another beach day but also wanted to go into town to see Positano.  We grabbed a cab into town and wandered through the alleys of shops and down to Spiaggia Grande.  Spiaggia Grande is the main beach in Positano that you see all the photos of with the picturesque town rising up behind it.  It was crowded and rocky and we honestly liked Laurito a lot better but we were there and we wanted to get a tan so we laid our towels out on the rocks and baked.  If you're staying in Positano you can take a boat from Spiaggia Grande to the myriad of beaches along the coast, they're all outlined here. It was HOT, hotter than usual for June I think.  We had to jump in the water every 15 minutes to cool down. the ocean in Italy (Adriatic Sea) is SO calm, none of the waves we have at home in California.  It's kind of more like a lake than an ocean. It is also extremely salty and it makes you very bouyant.  I don't think you could sink in this water if you tried.

Spiaggia Grande

Sweaty beasts
After cooking ourselves once again we headed to the side bar at one of the beachfront hotels, Hotel Buca di Bacco. 2 bellinis in and we started making friends, first with a Canadian named Pete and then with an Australian couple, Marty & Ana, the English speakers flock together.  Day turned into evening and we moved into the restaurant to eat.  What we didn't realize that in that time period we were drinking, the rest of Positano got dressed up and everything went from beachy to swanky in the blink of an eye. On top of that there happened to be a fashion show on the beach that night along with a performance by some famous Italian singer that we watched get brought in surrounded by security. Since we were staying outside of town we did not want to cab it back to our studio to change and make ourselves presentable.  Another reason to stay in town.

The fashion show happened, too much wine happened, limoncello shots happened.  And then the best thing of all: fireworks.  Right after the fashion show was over there was a spectacular fireworks show on the beach. It was close and loud and an amazing end to an incredibly fun day.






Sunday, July 7, 2013

Maui on my Mind

I would be lying if I said I wasn't a lucky girl.  Maui is a place that I get to visit pretty frequently, I try to go once a year.  I'm lucky because I have a lot of friends on this expensive island which means a free place to stay and no need for a rental car. I recently made a quick 3-day trip over Memorial Day Weekend to visit a friend and meet her 1-year-old son.  It had actually been about 2 years since my last visit to Maui so it was long overdue.  Our days were filled with beach time, walks along the road in Haiku and getting to know the little sumo-wrestler Makani. This trip left me yearning for a simpler life on a quiet island away from the hustle and bustle and overcrowding of Southern California...some day.

Ho'okipa Beach

Sunscreen smiley butt

Floating at Baby Beach in Lahaina

Me & little Makani

The site of our Memorial Day BBQ

My home away from home


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Montezuma Falls & Ziplining Scrapped

I finished the Costa Rica scrapbook! Our favorite part of our trip to Costa Rica was the two days we trekked over the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula from Santa Teresa to Montezuma.  Once for the waterfall hike and another time for ziplining, both are essentially in the same place. I think next time we're in Costa Rica we'll possibly stay in Montezuma just for the outdoor adventure that is abundant there.


Montezuma Waterfall

Oh Happy Day

Jump! Splash!

All Time Best Day Ever

Ziplining

Little Brother, Big Sister

Beautiful Montezuma