Trip Post #6: Edinburgh and Home!

EdinburghThis is the last trip post- don’t cry!

We reached Edinburgh in the afternoon, and after checking into our hotel, we wandered down the Royal Mile, Edinburgh’s tourist area with shops, restaurants, and tons and tons of outdoor performers. We were there during the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, in which the city hosts hundreds of shows and performers, ranging from free outdoor buskers to plays and concerts in theatrical venues.

Busker Edinburgh 2

Busker Edinburgh

Buskers EdinburghEdinburgh has a cat cafe (a place where you pay to hang out with cats for a while), and I’d been wanting to try out a cat cafe since they first started popping up a few years ago. So I reserved a slot at Maison de Moggy:
Maison de Moggy Edinburgh

Maison de Moggy Edinburgh 2

Maison de Moggy Edinburgh 3It was a cute place, and the staff were very nice, and I’m really glad I was able to finally see what this thing is all about, but it wasn’t what I’d hoped. :/

There were about 10 cats, and about 15 humans. The cafe schedules customers for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. Have you ever met a cat? I love cats, but they’re not THAT into human interaction. It’s too much. The cats were really nicely socialized (they were all adopted into the cafe as kittens), so they very patiently tolerated the attention and accepted pettings, but they weren’t into it.

In order to interact with the cats, you had to wait until no other humans were pestering them, then stalk them, and trick them into not running away from you. Then when you pet them, they just sit there. It’s no fun petting a cat who doesn’t particularly like it. I did more observation than interaction.

But like I said, I’m definitely glad I got the experience.

After my hour with the cats, I connected with Aunt Lyn for dinner at Mamma’s Pizza. After dinner, we watched some more performers, and headed back to the hotel.

On our last day in Edinburgh, we returned to The Royal Mile to do some shopping and to watch some more performers. We caught a performer named Able Mable, who was really great, and as she pointed out, was one of only 5 or so women (I can’t remember the exact number) out of the 60 or so paid street performers. She described her character as “a hapless showgirl, eager to entertain but manages to mess up everything she does with comic results.” She was fantastic, though I couldn’t get a shot that did her justice.

Mabel EdinburghBecause of the festival, the whole Royal Mile was always packed, and it was a challenge to find good any places for meals. We ended up grabbing a soup and sandwich at the tiniest cafe you can imagine. It felt like a convenience store counter in a place the size of a closet, with a plastic table and chairs in the corner. It was pretty good though. I’m sure they make all their money during the month of the fest.

After lunch, we toured the mighty Edinburgh Castle!

Edinburgh CastleWe took a free tour of the castle with a great tour guide. There was a little spot up there that was the *only* place I remembered having been before. It was like a little jolt: whoa! This looks exactly the same. I visited England, Ireland, and Scotland with my family when I was in middle school, but I didn’t have many specific memories of the trip. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to go again (and make these blog posts), so that I could try to really remember it this time.

After the castle, we went to the one “real” Fringe show that we saw. There are so many shows going on, and we really only had time to see one, and I didn’t want to overwhelm myself by trying to pick the exact perfect show, so I tried to be kind of go-with-the-flow about finding one.

On our first night, as we were waiting at the bus stop to return to the hotel, I looked at the cute building to my left, and saw that it was called The Scottish Storytelling Center. That sounded interesting. Then I saw a description of a fringe show called The Man Who Planted Trees on a board outside of the center. It sounded kind of perfect: family friendly (a lot of fringe shows can be pretty raunchy), sweet and humorous, and had really good reviews.

Edinburgh 3The show was great: very creative and unique (they used marionette-style puppets, wafted essential oil scents and sprayed mists of water into the audience), heart-warming, funny, and was exactly as advertised. It was perfect.

After the show, we grabbed dinner at Rabbie Burns, a pub just down the street from the center, caught some more street performers, and visited some shopping tents where I picked up some sweet-smelling juniper gifts for my mom.

Juniper Tent EdinburghWe were beat!

The next day, we took a train to Glasgow, and headed home (with a chilly stop-over in Iceland)!

Goodbye British Isles!

Ireland

Trip Post #5: York

YorkThis is the second to last trip post; aren’t you so sad it’s almost over??

So. We took the train from London to York, checked into our hotel, and visited Clifford’s Tower, an old fortress-castle thing.

Clifford's Tower York
That’s Aunt Lyn waving to me from across the castle. We decided to take pictures of each other taking pictures of each other. We’re so cute.

The tower was on a big hill, and we looked down from the top and saw this older couple literally crawling up the hill. I believe they didn’t know that on the other side was the actual entrance with stairs. An elderly, disgruntled Jack and Jill. It was odd and amusing.

Next to the tower was a little traveling carnival (or just, like, three carnival rides).

Fair YorkSo we rode on the carousel!

Carousel York 2We got dinner at the Golden Fleece, York’s “most haunted” pub.

Golden Fleece York 2I included the building on the right to show how warped the old buildings were. Look how slope-y the floors are!

During dinner, we had a fun chat with some crusty old [tipsy] local guys.

After dinner, we walked around the city. I kept my eyes open for some of the cats on York’s Cat Trail, which is basically just little cat sculptures and images on the buildings around town, a la this one at the Golden Fleece:

Golden Fleece YorkSee the little white kitty exiting the window frame above the golden sheep?

We caught a bit of live traditional music coming from the over-crowded Last Drop Inn, but we were only there in time to hear one song before the musicians took a break. Thwarted again!

Last Drop Inn YorkOur first full day in York, we got breakfast at our hotel (a Hampton Inn), and visited The Shambles, which is a small street with a bunch of cute shops.

York 3We visited a fudge shop, where they tried to give me a sample. I explained that I don’t like fudge, and that I’m just picky, and the lady behind the counter said, “I think you mean you know what you like.” You know what? You’re right, fudge lady, I just know what I like! Harrumph!

Here’s a cute tea shop on the Shambles:

Hebden Tea York

We also visited Bowler, a vintage clothing store, and had THE best time looking at and trying on the cutest vintage and vintage-inspired clothing.

Bowler York 5

Bowler York 3We also wandered around an outdoor flea market, and had lunch at Betty’s Tea House.

Lunch Betty's York
Yummy tomato basil quiche at Betty’s.

It was pretty rainy, so we decided to stay indoors and checked out the National Rail Museum.

Railway Museum YorkThen we napped forever, apparently. I don’t remember that, but that’s what my notes say! Apparently it was a much needed nap.

We got dinner at a place called Nicholson’s Cross Keys. Many of the restaurants in York were named after objects/animals, and they all had images of their names on the outside- a remnant of when most people were illiterate.We had wanted to eat at a place called Old White Swan, but their oven had broken! What?!

We then caught a performance of Morris Dancers in a town square area.

On our last morning in York, we had a very tight schedule and lots of things to get done before catching our train, so it was a fun little challenge. After breakfast at the hotel, we stopped in at the Shambles again so I could pick up a gift for my mom at the tea shop, then we ran over to Bowler, the vintage store because our social media fans had seen our pictures of the dresses we tried on and convinced us to buy them!

But we didn’t know when the store opened and we had to make sure we caught our train. So we waited, practically pressing our noses to the locked front door until the saleswoman finally showed up. Poor girl was probably so annoyed with us for making her rush, but we explained our situation, and she was very nice, and it took us less than 5 minutes to get in and buy our dresses. And THEN we made the poor saleswoman take our picture. 🙂

Bowler York 7

And we high-tailed it to the train station for our last city: Edinburgh!

 

Trip Post #4: London

Phone Booth 1

I know it’s been forever since I actually went on this trip and then blogged about it, but I still really want to get it all down. I’ve just been so busy lately! But I’m on Thanksgiving break now, so I have time!

So we flew from Shannon, Ireland to London, and it was the greatest morning of smoothness. Everything went well, and we were just way too pleased by it. We got to the bus station early, the bus was on time (though the bus fare system was still incomprehensible), we got to the airport way early, got to select good seats, had a delicious leisurely brunch at the airport (chicken sandwich w/ fries and a salad as always), the ride was smooth and short (though holy cow those puddle jumper planes feel like something my 3 year old nephew assembled out of legos).

We arrived in London and were informed that the underground workers were on strike. Greeeeaat. So we took a train to the city and walked quite a ways to our hotel. However, the weather was finally gorgeous. We had the best weather of our trip in London. Low 70s and sunny. It felt like heaven. And though our walk was long, much of it was through Hyde Park, so it was fairly pleasant (aside from our luggage).

And we stopped halfway through for some ice cream:

London GelatoWe finally got to our hotel, the Intercontinental, because my aunt works in the hotel industry and gets special deals.

Here we are enjoying our luxury:

London HotelAfter a little rest in the hotel, we asked our super nice concierge where we could get a big bowl of spaghetti for dinner (because that’s what I wanted), and he recommended Prezzo, which became our favorite restaurant (it’s a chain over there, so every time we’d see one, we’d point it out and get excited).

Look at this perfect dinner:

Dinner PrezzoThat parmesan.

ANYway. We also checked out Shepherd’s Market, which is a cute little area near our hotel with lots of restaurants and pubs.

After dinner, we walked back into our hotel room, and as soon as I opened the door, I panicked and thought we had gotten the wrong room because the lights were on (but dimmed), and the tv was playing, so I thought someone else was in there! Turns out, the staff had just done the “turn down service” thing which I had apparently never before experienced. They also left little treats (fruit, bottled spring water, cookies). It was fun, but slightly unsettling. Also, the bathroom had a phone in it, and an adjustable speaker that plays the audio from the tv, so you won’t miss a thing!

The next day, we got a really heavy, greasy, authentic English breakfast at a deli called Piccolo.

English Breakfast Piccolo LondonWe took a hop on bus tour, with a cutie patootie guide named Gavin. After that, we napped at the hotel, and then did some site-seeing and took a river cruise.

London Bobbies

London Big Ben
Pretending Big Ben is too loud. We are hilarious
Tower of London
Tower of London
Tower Bridge London
Tower Bridge London
London Buildings
London Buildings: The Cheese Grater, The Gherkin, and The Walkie-Talkie
Eye London
The London Eye

We visited the bustling Picadilly Circus area (similar to New York’s Times Square), and got some more spaghetti (my craving wasn’t satisfied yet) at a place called Caffe Concerto, where we chatted with some Australian expats sitting next to us.

The next morning we had breakfast at Tyburn Pub, a place on the way to the train station (Paddington) so that I could head off for a day-trip to Bath while Aunt Lyn did some more site-seeing in London.

Bath was lovely, the weather was nice, and the town was cute. I arrived with a bunch of other travelers, who promptly hopped in line at the Roman Bath museum. I took one look at that long line, and waited it out by getting some lunch at a place called The Courtyard Cafe.

Courtyard BathThe cafe was across the way from Sally Lunn’s, which makes world famous buns.

Sally Lunn BathI went to Bath intending to get one, but when I got there, they just didn’t seem appealing to me, so I skipped them and went back to the museum, which no longer had a line!

Roman Bath 2

Roman Bath 1It’s apparently a natural hot springs which was in use during the time of the Roman Empire. Of course, it’s been preserved since then, but there are sections that are quite genuinely ancient-looking.

I wandered the town a bit, and came across a cute little flea market.

Bath Street

Bath

Flea Market BathI got another ice cream cone from Hyde Park on my way back from the train station, and Aunt Lyn and I headed over to Harrod’s, the most extravagant department store in the world. I don’t even know how they let us in.

We enjoyed the children’s clothing area, where we found girls’ dresses for only $2000.

This adorable girls’ headband was like $50. To be fair, it’s real fur. ick.

Harrods 2Most people there were actually shopping. Like, for stuff that they were going to buy. With their money. Who are these people??? We just had fun getting each other to guess just how crazy expensive the next item was.

Outside the store, someone had parked this golden Ferrari:

Harrods FerrariAll of the restaurants nearby were designed for oil barons, so we got dinner at our ol’ pal Prezzo again!

Prezzo London 2

Prezzo LondonOur last morning in London, we had breakfast at Sofra, a Mediterranean restaurant in Shepherd’s Market, and headed to the train station for York!

Breakfast Zofra's London

 

 

Trip Post #3: Doolin and Ennis

Mary's 4On our fifth day of the trip, we took a bus to Doolin, a teensy little village on the west-coast of Ireland. We arrived at our bed and breakfast, Riverdale Farmhouse (above), and our host, Mary, treated us to some warm home-made scones and tea. It was a really nice treat after being out in the chilly, windy, rainy weather.

Before we headed into town, I met the farm’s horse:Horse Doolin 5I went into her pen because she was far away from the gate when I got there. When I approached her, she walked away from me and went back up to the gate where I just came in. I stayed where I was, and she came back over to me, made a “harrumph” sound and swung her head toward the gate (which translated to a very obvious “Come with me, you idiot human.”), and walked back to the gate.

I figured out that she was saying, “The only use I have for you is to be fed by you, so get back out to the other side of the gate and feed me the grass that I can’t reach. You dummy.”

So I followed my instructions, and she allowed me to pet her once in a while in between fist-fulls of the nicest grass I could find.

Horse Doolin 4“More food, dummy!”

Horse Doolin 1

Horse Doolin 2“And you stopped feeding me because…?”

Horse Doolin 3

“*Sigh* There better be some grass in your hand when I look back.”

After I had fed the horse every single blade of grass I could find, we took the 20 minute walk into town.

Doolin 1

Doolin 2

Doolin 4We passed a sweet little garden center, and talked with the nice guy there:

Doolin Garden Center

Artichokes 2Artichokes!

There’s this type of rose there, Sanders’ White Climbing Rose, that smells like the best smell on earth.

We continued into town, where I overheard a visitor’s center clerk complaining about a group of male travelers who couldn’t figure out their lives. “When men travel without women, it doesn’t work.”

After walking for a while, we stopped for a rest at the Doolin Hostel, and had a treat.

Treat Doolin 1

Treat Doolin 2

Doolin Treat 3This mix-in hot chocolate was one of my Aunt Lyn’s highlights of the trip. 🙂

After our treat, we continued through town, and checked out the shops.

Doolin^ That is pretty much “town.”

We kept going, and reached the coast, where we could see the Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of Moher Portrait 3Wait, where are the Cliffs of Moher?

Cliffs of Moher Portrat 2Oh, there they are!

Cliffs of Moher 6

Cliffs of Moher 7

Cliffs of Moher 1

Cliffs of Moher 4After that, we visited the ruins of a church, which were now basically a cemetery.

Church Doolin 1

Church Doolin 2Then we had dinner at McDermott’s pub, featuring traditional musicians.

Pub Music DoolinWe were seated at a perfect table just in front of the musicians, but we had to share the table with whomever needed a spot. We ended up with a really nice French family, with whom I had a fun half-French half-English conversation.

After the family left, an older American gentleman sat in the seat next to mine, and shared life wisdom with me. Things like, “Invest in mutual funds.” “Get married before you’re 30” (Oops!) and “Don’t blow your money on a new car and a fancy coffee every day.”

In the morning the next day, we had a delicious breakfast (poached eggs, toast, warm scones, and tea) at the farmhouse, and Mary drove us to the bus stop in town.

While on the bus to Ennis, we overheard a man who was perturbed that he hadn’t been picked up at his usual stop (which wasn’t an official stop). When the driver asked him how long he’s been using that stop, he said, “I’ve been standin’ there my whole life!” “Have they been lettin’ ye on there yer whole life?” Angry Irish men 🙂

Anyway, we arrived in Ennis, and checked into our lodging, The Rowan Tree Hostel (an excellent hostel):

Hostel EnnisAfter checking in, I set out on my own to check out the town. Not five minutes into my walk, two tourist guys stopped me to ask if I knew a good place for dinner. Umm…I just got here. :/ It was a theme throughout the trip that people kept asking me for directions. 10 people in total! Apparently I look like a friendly, approachable, knowledgeable local. 🙂

After checking out the shops in town, I met Aunt Lyn at the hostel for some bruschetta at the Rowan Tree Hostel Cafe, which had beautiful Rowan wood floors dated from 1740.

Then we checked out the Ennis Friary, which was originally built in the 13th century.

Friary Ennis

After shopping a bit in town, we had dinner at Brogan’s Bar and Restaurant (which stops serving food at 6..???), and who promised to have good live traditional music.

Dinner EnnisServing food on a wood tray was a popular thing in Ireland/UK.

The musicians were good (I suppose? I really don’t know), but they didn’t know one another, and they didn’t seem very seasoned (they would just chat with each other between tunes and talk through what they should play next).

And there was no singing.

Oh well.

We got to do laundry at the hostel, and putting on all three of my sweaters warm from the dryer was one my highlights of the trip. jk

Laundry Ennis 2It really was pretty great, since I was cold basically the entire week.

Next up, England!

Trip Post #1: Dublin

IrelandI just returned from my trip to the British Isles with my Aunt, Lyn. I’m going to recount our adventures in a few posts, and here’s the first one! Dublin!

We arrived in Dublin at about 6am (which was the middle of the night for us), and had no idea how to get to our hotel. After taking a few different buses, we finally reached our hotel, The Intercontinental, in Ballsbridge, a suburb of Dublin.

We forced ourselves not to go to bed, and went into the city. We visited Grafton Street, where there’s usually a lot of hustle and bustle and fun buskers, but it was a bit quiet when we went (too early and not great weather).

“On Grafton Street in November
We tripped lightly along the ledge
Of a deep ravine where can be seen
the worth of passion’s pledge.”
-Raglan Road

We got some brunch at Le Petit Parisien, a very quaint little cafe/patisserie with French staff.PastriesI was so tired that I literally felt drunk. My head was spinning, the world was spinning, my body felt like it was vibrating.

But we soldiered on, and took a Hop On Hop Off bus tour of the city. (I only fell asleep a couple of times.)

If you visit Dublin, I’d recommend getting the Freedom Pass. It includes unlimited Hop on Hop Off and any city bus. We used the heck out of it.

Freedom Pass 2After the bus tour, we got a treat from Hansel and Gretel, a super cute little pastry shop we saw in the morning (we planned out our treats diligently throughout the trip).

Hansel and Gretel 1

Hansel and Gretel 2

Hansel and Gretel 3Then we allowed ourselves a little nap at the hotel. After dragging our bodies out of the deepest, most delicious sleep, we forced ourselves back into the city.

I wanted to find a pub that would be playing traditional music (one of my main reasons for going on the trip), so we landed at Oliver St. John Gogarty in the Temple Bar area.

Pub Dublin 2I had a delicious dinner of vegetarian lasagna (which ended up being a frequent menu option throughout the trip), which came with salad and fries (almost everything in Ireland came with salad and fries.)

Dinner DublinAunt Lyn wanted to try Guinness, so we asked the server for a little taste of it.

GuinnessI don’t like any alcohol, so I knew I wouldn’t like it.

I think Aunt Lyn had had higher hopes.

Lyn GuinnessAfter listening to the musicians for a while, we went home for some much needed sleep. We hadn’t had a real nights’ sleep in over 36 hours!

On day 2, we had some breakfast at the same Parisien place, and took a long trek out to Kilmainham Gaol, a former prison. It’s a popular place, and we had to wait about an hour for a tour (though by the time we were done, the people in line were waiting for 3 hours!).

Gaol 3Our tour guide, Kevin, was great, and I got a kick out of every time he said “execution” or “executed” (which, considering the history of the jail, he said a lot) because he put an unusual amount of emphasis on the first syllable, “EHX-ecuted”.Every. single. time.

Anyway, some things about the jail.

Above the front door is a design (you can see it in the picture above, where the light fixture hangs above the door) with snakes and chains. Apparently, the snakes symbolize crime, and the chains symbolize justice.

Here’s a clearer depiction of it:

Gaol 5

Gaol 4The jail was built in 1796, and was intended to be a more progressive prison than any other at the time. Rather than large open rooms that housed a bunch of prisoners, each prisoner was meant to have their own cell. The designer had some sort of motto about reform that I can’t quite remember, but he basically believed that prisoners needed three things: silence, solitude, and something else…reflection..? in order to improve, so he designed the jail with those things in mind.

I think that’s a bunch of hogwash, and also, most of the prisoners appeared to be people just stealing food because they were starving (including children as young as seven), and political rebels, who, ya know, kinda had a point. So they didn’t seem to need “reform” so much as a “decent shot at life.”
Gaol 7The spiral staircase above is pretty, but it was built specifically because it’s difficult/impossible to go up and down quickly, so it was easier to control the prisoners. The guards used a regular, efficient staircase across the way.

Gaol 1Above is the door to Eamon de Valera’s cell, who eventually became president of Ireland.

Here’s the interior of a cell:
Gaol 9

Gaol 8^This is the inside of a cell door. They all had the peep hole with the oval carving around it on the inside. It’s meant to remind the prisoner that they are always being watched (by guards, but also by God or some figurative element like their own conscience). Basically, it’s meant to freak them out.

Here is the inside of a cell which one of the prisoners painted:

Gaol 6The painting is by Grace Gifford/Plunkett, who was imprisoned in 1923 for getting involved in political rebellion, and who had just 8 years prior married her husband, Joseph Plunkett, in this jail just a few hours before he was executed for leading the Easter Rising. Whoa.Gaol 2The area above was the “exercise yard”, where apparently prisoners were forced to walk in a circle with their hands behind their backs, looking down at the ground for an hour a day. For exercise.

The guards also made the prisoners turn a crank in their cells for no purpose other than to keep them busy. If the prisoners turned the crank too quickly, the guard would adjust the crank via a screw, which is why the prisoners ended up calling the guards “screws”.

“To begin the mornin’
a screw was ballin’
‘Get up ya bowsie, and clean up your cell!'”
-The Auld Triangle

After the jail, we went to The National Museum of Ireland to see bog bodies, which are ancient human bodies that have been recently discovered in excellent condition, having been preserved by the special conditions of the bog soil. We’re not sure why they were killed (it appears that they were all killed, rather than dying naturally), but it was probably ritual sacrifice.

Get ready for some pictures of some stuff.

This man was killed  between 362 BCE and 175 BCE:

Bog Body 1

Bog Body 2

Bog Body 4^He was wearing that leather armband when he was killed.

This man died between 392 BCE and 201 BCE:Bog Body 6^That is HAIR!

After that delightful exhibit, we got a pastry and took a nap at the hotel.

That night, we enjoyed a dinner and performance called “An Evening of Food, Folklore, and Fairies” at the Brazen Head Pub, apparently Ireland’s oldest pub (from 1198).

Brazenhead Dublin 2We had a lovely storyteller, and two musicians (the storyteller called them “crusty old men”).

Brazenhead DublinBack to the hotel for about 2-4 hours of sleep for the night (yay jetlag), and then onto Galway!

Hawaii Trip!

YOU GUYS!!! I got to spend a whole week in Hawaiiiiiii!!!!! I had been there once before when I was 5, and mainly just remembered that it felt like heaven, so I’ve been really looking forward to returning (even moreso after this worst winter everrr). The best part was that I got to go with a whole bunch of loved ones because my cousin was getting married there, so most of our family all went together.

I was still excited, even though this happened the day we left:

Photo (18) - CopyYeah that airplane disappeared, and I was about to get on one. Fun times.

But anyway, our airplane arrived as scheduled, late at night, so we went straight to bed, and then I got to wake up the next morning to this:

Photo (19)Then I went out to our condo’s balcony, and saw this view:

Photo (21)And then I took a picture of how that made me feel:

Photo (20)So, yeah, Hawaii is beautiful, as we all know. But first things first, we went to get breakfast at Kihei Caffe.

Photo (22)I’m the kind of person who easily gets hangry (hungry+angry), and that morning it was at an all time high. I was ready to eat the souvenir t-shirts hanging on the cafe walls.

Having gotten some non-fabric food into me, we headed to Polo beach for some fun in the sun.

Photo (23)Then we got to go to a Luau!! It was great, we all got leis and fruity drinks with umbrellas, and we got to watch hula dancing!! I LOVE hula dancing.

Photo (28)
The lighting makes these ladies look like they were photoshopped into this photo. I promise, they really were there.

The next day, we watched part of our group take a surfing lesson. They’re tiny, but they’re surfing!

Photo (31)While they did normal things, I found a rock that inspired me to be The Little Mermaid:

Photo (30)ariel-on-rock1Nailed it.

Then we got a Cheeseburger in Paradise and some delicious gelato in Lahaina.

Photo (32)We basically never stopped eating that day, as we went back to the condo to join the gang for a barbecue in the courtyard. Then we all sprinted toward the beach as we realized that the sun was going down, and I snapped a pic just in time.

Photo (33)
You can see my cousin, Tyson, posing for another picture, having removed his shirt first of course. Lucky for him, none of his friends read this blog. Love ya Tyson. 🙂

The next morning, I took a walk along the beach with my mama.

Photo (37)

After lunch, we got some shave ice and had a fun chat with Paul, the shave ice dude. I like to play a game called “When I Move to Maui”. When I Move to Maui, Paul is gonna be my mentor.

Photo (35)

Then, it was the big wedding day! We got all gussied up and headed down to a beautiful little beach/cove in Wailea.

Photo (36)Here’s where they actually said their vows. It was a lovely little ceremony; everybody cried.

Photo (39)

The next day, we headed up to a cute little hippie town called Paia, where we had lunch at a place called Charley’s, and then went to a beach where real surfers were surfing. You can’t even see surfers in this picture, but I swear they are there. There’s a teeeeeny tiny spec off to the left, and that’s a kitesurfer.

Photo (43)Along the side of the cliff where we were watching, this guy had backed up his truck-bed filled with palm branches and stuff. He was really fun, and gave my aunt a coconut with a “Hawaiian straw” (a palm branch reed).

Photo (44)Here he is making a “Hawaiian whistle” (also a palm branch reed) for my little cousin.

Photo (45)And here, he’s feeding my aunt some juice from a “Hawaiian juicebox” (an orange with a Hawaiian straw in it).

Photo (46)He told us his name was JustIncredible (not sure how he spells it). 🙂

We headed back to Polo beach, where my aunt taught me how to boogie board. Here we are, being totally cool boarder gals.

CIMG4627My parents and I got some pizza (Hawaiian style pizza of course! How cute/cheesy are we?), and ate it on the beach at our condo while the sun went down.

Photo (51)

We ended up getting dinner and a show, as some turtles were having some romantic time on the beach.

Looks like a blob, but this is turtle sex. The (smaller) male is on top, and they rock back and forth. Not sure how long it takes, as they were there when we arrived, and were still going strong when we left about 20 minutes later.
Looks like a blob, but this is turtle sex. The (smaller) male is on top, and they rock back and forth. Not sure how long it takes, as they were there when we arrived, and were still going strong when we left about 20 minutes later.

And here’s the paparazzi totally ruining the mood:

The turtles didn't seem to mind.
The turtles didn’t seem to mind.

The sunset was really cloudy, but still beautiful.

Photo (52)
It actually does not look cloudy at all in this picture. I didn’t imagine it, I swear.

Thursday, we had breakfast at Swan Court, a restaurant at a resort in Lahaina. It’s a nice experience, because the restaurant had enormous open doors to a little garden filled with various birds, so the birds fly around and you feel like you’re eating in nature (a really clean, white tablecloth version of nature).

Photo (53)
See the flamingoes?
A swan at Swan Court.
A swan at Swan Court.

After brunch, we walked and swam along the beach and did a little shopping at the resort.

Here’s my nephew (or Danny Devito from Twins? You decide.) waving hello to a praying mantis on the table.

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We hung out at Polo beach again, and my nephew built this sand castle!

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So maybe he didn’t technically “build” it, but he did stumble upon it and destroy it (the people who made it had left).

And then some of the nerdy men from our family got pretty serious about engineering their own sand castles.

Photo (57)It was a really special evening at the beach, as we all were together, and we watched the sunset and took pictures together. This is just after the sunset, when everything was a beautiful silver color.

Photo (59)On our last day, we hung out at the pool, and had lunch at a 50s-style diner (my favorite thing in the world) called Peggy Sue’s. When I Move to Maui, I’ll eat at Peggy Sue’s at least once a week.

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We also spent a little more time in Paia, where one of the surf shops has a promo pic of our surf instructor, Kiva.

Maybe you didn't know, but we're a pretty big deal.
Maybe you didn’t know, but we’re a pretty big deal.

Alas, it was time to leave. Hawaii cried the day we left.

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Me too, Hawaii, me too.

Four things I want to say about Hawaii:

1. There are a lot of rainbows there. We saw one like every day. Here’s one of ’em.

Photo (24)2. There are also a lot of whale sightings. Any time we were on a beach, if we just scanned the horizon, we would catch whales dancing around out there.

3. The grass is unbelievable. It looks like fake turf, and it’s soft and green, and I think it doesn’t need to be mowed.

Photo (60)4. I love the terrain there. It reminded me a little of Ireland. I really like the mountains, because they’re small and green. It just felt safe and cozy having these little slopes on all sides of you. Most mountains I’ve seen (in Colorado, New York, Geneva, etc.) are tall and dark and cold, and they feel like they’re saying “Hello there little human, I’m not going to let you go anywhere. You are stuck here foreverrrr!” But Hawaiian mountains are like, “Aloha! Wanna hang out for a while? Or not, whatever, stop by if you feel like it! Hang loose pal!” (Of course I realize that these mountains are actually more potentially dangerous, as they, ya know, erupt once in a while, but whatever.)

Look how pretty.
Look how pretty.

I’ll miss, you Hawaii.

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New York Trip

PhotoMy parents took me on a trip to New York! My mom’s sister lives about an hour outside of NYC, so we visited her (and other family), and spent some time in the big city.

Here’s me, running through the terrible scenarios that could happen involving the plane ride (terrorist attack, something wrong with the plane, we crash upon take-off/landing and erupt into a ball of flames killing us all, we fall out of the sky for whatever reason, and die upon impact, we fall out of the sky for whatever reason and land in the ocean (we were not flying anywhere near any oceans..but..you never know) and either die upon impact, or sink under the water and die of drowning, or land in the water and float for days on an inflated raft eventually killing each other out of delirium, or die of exposure/sharks, OR the worst case would be that I am the sole survivor and float and die of sharks/exposure).

Photo (4)But the flight was perfect, and nobody died of exposure.

So we spent a couple of days having yummy home-cooked meals, and warm, gift-filled Christmas celebrations with family.

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Among the family members, I got to hang out with a couple of sweet animals:

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Beetlejuice
Lucky
Lucky. Haha she looks grumpy here, but she’s super sweet.

Then we took a train into the city.

Photo (8)Ahh Grand Central Station. Pretty Pretty.

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At the Station, there was a model train display.

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On our way to our first destination, I saw the one famous (though not technically famous) person that I saw while in NY:

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Sandro: a contestant on Project Runway. On the show, he was a total NUT (he threw a hissy fit and stormed off the show). In the subway, he seemed pretty normal.

Then we went to the Museum of Natural History, where my mom fell in love with some Protoctists (single-celled organisms):

Here she is, in rapture.
Here she is, in rapture.

She just thought the models that the museum had created were really beautiful, which they were:

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My photo doesn’t really capture it, but they really looked like crown jewels or something. I have a feeling actual Protoctists aren’t this pretty.

The museum’s displays were all very beautiful (some actual taxidermied animals, some models).

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A whale hanging above us.
A whale hanging above us.

After the museum, we trekked to the cafe that was used as the exterior shot for the Seinfeld restaurant:

Tom's Restaurant (called "Monk's" on the show).
Tom’s Restaurant (called “Monk’s” on the show).

We got some hot cocoa and sweet treats at a cafe called “Le Monde”, which felt right out of Amelie, and then headed to “Mood”, the fabric store that the designers visit on Project Runway. As a souvenir, my mom bought me some fabric to use for a scarf.

Photo (17)Then we went to a show called “Mother Africa.”

Photo (18)It was like an Africa-themed Cirque du Soleil, with singers, dancers, acrobats, a unicyclist (who at one point pedaled a mini-cycle, which looked like about a foot of lead pipe on a single caster), and a contortionist who passed his body through the hoop of a tennis racket. It was a lot of fun.

Next day, we went to Ben’s Pizzeria, which appears in the opening credits to the Louie tv show. (All of these tv places were my idea…I’m a dork.)

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We got a slice there:

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And listened to some piano music at Washington Square Park:

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Then we took a walk along the High Line.

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Which is a walkway that was converted from an old train track.

Photo (23)The rails are still visible along the path, but it’s been spiffed up with plants (much prettier in the spring/summer), artists, benches, and the like. The day was BEAUTIFUL (sunny and high of 50!!!), so it was a nice walk.

Then we went to the Chelsea Market.

Photo (24)It’s a very cute indoor market…basically like a mall, but with mainly eateries, and more like…I don’t know like a mall, but different. On the day that we went, it was verrrrry crowded.

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Photo (26)So we had some cocoa at a little cafe, and got the heck outta Dodge.

We headed to the Frick, my mom’s favorite NY museum, because they were displaying Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring.

Photo (27)But we discovered a line of people around the block, meaning we would have about an hour and a half wait, so we said “nope!” and headed to the Met.

Passing by Central Park, we caught a one-woman ballet.

Photo (28)And here at the Met…

Photo (29)…we saw an 18th century Christmas creche display and intricate tapestries, and ate in the Members Only Dining Room (because my mom is a pretty big deal).

We also went to the Jewels by Jar exhibit, which is a bit controversial. It was a display of jewelry made by this guy, who is a total NUT. The controversy surrounds the supposed commercialism of the exhibit (people argue, and I agree, that it is merely a money-making enterprise rather than an art exhibit; the exhibit includes items that are for sale). But cripes, his work is out there. Very big, heavy, chunky, flamboyant. It was a scene, man.

After the museum, we headed to Rockefeller Center, which made me very angry because there were too many people. Here is an angry photo of the plaza:

Photo (30)My dad brought us to the Christmas market at Bryant Park, which was infinitely more pleasant and less populated (though still quite populated, of course).

Photo (31)Bryant Park had a large skating rink (above), a Christmas tree, a cafe, and lots of very cute little pop-up shop things (one of them was selling Sesame Street-style puppets…random).

On the way home, we passed Madison Avenue.

Photo (32)I didn’t see Don Draper, he must have been working late.

And hey! there’s the Chrysler Building.

Every time I think of the Chrysler Building, that line from Annie: "If this place don't SHINE like the top of the Chrysler Building, your backsides will..." Every. time.
Every time I think of the Chrysler Building, that line from Annie: “If this place don’t SHINE like the top of the Chrysler Building, your backsides will…” Every. time.

It was our last night in New York, and we awoke to a fire alarm in our hotel at 4 am. 🙂

We stumbled down to the lobby, and waited with sirens blaring and fire fighters going to and fro for about 15 minutes before they eventually got it turned off and told us to go back to bed. This is us, getting off the elevator returning to our rooms. Turned out to be a “faulty alarm.”

Photo (34)Next day, we headed home!

New York cried the day we left.

Photo (35)We miraculously survived another plane ride, and I was welcomed home by a very cuddly kitty.

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