Viva Las Vegas

Las Vegas, a place where you can travel the world, yet remain on a strip. This past September (which was perfect weather), I accompanied my parents, and their friends, for a four day getaway.

We did NOT rent a car, but we did take advantage of the shuttle services, monorails, lyft or uber (whichever wasn’t surging at the moment…,) and the occasional taxi cabs.

We stayed at the Rio, which wasn’t as I remembered it to be, but it did OK. Every morning, we took advantage of the overpriced coffee at the Starbucks downstairs because there was no free coffee in the room (also, they charge you $0.75 for iced tap water!) The Rio isn’t on the strip…but isn’t too far away either. At that time, Rio provided a free shuttle every 30 minutes that drops you off to the strip. However, we didn’t have the time or the patience to wait each time…so we would either grab a cab or a lyft.

What parts of the world can you reach from the strip? Well, lets start at the U.S. You can go to NYC, and see the Brooklyn Bridge, have a bite of their famous burgers in Shake Shack, ride their roller coaster, and then head over to Europe. You can get a piece of these European cities: Paris, Venice, and Rome. Then head to Africa by going to the Luxor and feeling like you’re in Egypt. By the time you’ve ventured through at least three of these countries, you’ll feel exhausted and would want to retire to the comfort and coolness of your hotel room.

If you desire to venture off the strip, there is the Hoover Dam, that is about 50 minutes away. Hoover Dam has been featured in many movies such as San Andreas, Transformers, and Fools Rush In with Salma Hayek and Matthew Perry. Definitely worth checking if you’re tired of the same scene.

Another advantage to Vegas is, it’s also not too far off from the West Rim portion of the Grand Canyon. The West Rim belongs to the Hualapai (WALL-uh-pie) tribe, and isn’t part of the national park. That being said, the West Rim is still a beautiful and unique experience. We were able to see Eagle Rock and get on the Skywalk. It was truly a Magnificent experience! (I can share more about the details of the West Rim on a separate blog post.)

Overall, Vegas is a great thrill! You don’t have to be into gambling or casinos to enjoy the place…because no matter what you like, you’ll find something for yourself in Vegas!

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A dog loving place-Santa Barbara, CA

This post is long overdue…regarding that one weekend in Santa Barbara, California.

We truly enjoyed this spontaneous weekend trip because we realized how dog-loving Santa Barbara was. We drove down on a Saturday and spent the remainder of the day at Arroyo Burro Beach. We are keen of that beach…and let me tell you why! First, there’s a section for dogs to be off leash (East of Slough,) and another section for dogs on leash. Second, there’s a self service pet wash station by the parking lot, as you exit. It was so convenient and affordable for us to have a great time with our dog, and bring him back to the hotel not smelling like a wet, filthy rag.

Our hotel, Kimpton Canary Hotel, was extraordinary! Great service through and through. They allow pets, especially one like ours, who weighed in at 120lbs. They made each one of us feel welcome, including Brutus. The hotel also houses a great restaurant, Finch and Fork, to have your special date night at. The hotel also boasts a beautiful rooftop pool that overlooks parts of Santa Barbara. Great area to lounge and have a few drinks.

The hotel is also conveniently located near many shops and other restaurants. The hotel lends you their bikes or you can walk. We walked since we had Brutus with us, and there were many places that offered outdoor seating. One such place was Tupelo Junction Cafe. Although the seating outside was limited, the hostess was very friendly and accommodating to let us know when the table would be available. We didn’t have to wait very long.

Overall, Santa Barbara is definitely one of those places that we would love to visit again and again because of their dog-loving ways. Its a place I can see us bringing Brutus to time and time again, without having to worry if he will be accepted because of his size or his breed. Its also one of those places that keep you interested because its not stodgy. Santa Barbara will always have something to offer… for just about anyone.

Guam Food List

My blog lives…

Sorry I’ve been missing these past few weeks… Juggling things in your life is a real talent. Also, I’ve been running dry on ideas for my blog. But, alas, I was reminded by a girlfriend of mine a list I had made of restaurants I wanted her to try on her last visit to Guam…and I thought…”why don’t I do a blog post on that?” So here it is…

My dear friend Krystal visited Guam in 2008. Before her journey, I recommended a few of my favorite places that would leave an indelible mark. Those places were, and still are, my top picks.

Jamaican Grill. They are known for their Jerk BBQ Chicken and Ribs. Ya Mon, It is some serious food. When you eat BBQ…you always need your rice and they have Jamaican Rice and Red Rice. I come from a family of 7, so we always get their family platters and order 1/2 Jamaican Rice and 1/2 Red Rice. You gotta do both…they are equally as good. For lunch or a quick bite, I always go for their Jerk Burger with curry mayo and fries. A must try!

Shirley’s. A staple on the island. Plus, one of her son’s was my next door neighbor…they were awesome! Shirley’s is famous for her fried rice. So, I always order that with my 1/2 chicken. You will find an array of items to order on their menu and the portions are huge.

Joinus Keyaki-Teppanyaki. The restaurant has had some remodeling done but the food is just as good as I remembered. There has been a price increase, but that is normal for businesses to stay afloat. With that being said, I recommend coming here during lunch for the prices are still reasonable and you get to do some shopping after. Ask for garlic chips with your angus beef and get some syrup (sugar water) for your iced tea and enjoy the teppan show.

Capriciossa. Pasta for days! Gotta try their Seafood Spaghetti (I believe its the s-9…) and their Black Ink Squid Spaghetti. The portions are huge, so you can definitely share among friends and family.

Chamorro Village. Every Wednesday night there is a Night Market. There are food vendors, clothing vendors, souvenir vendors, and more. It gets really crowded and busy, so for some they prefer to go on other days during normal business hours. You can ride the trolley or drive to Chamorro Village. If you do go, get a fiesta plate. Usually this will be red rice, BBQ meat (chicken, beef ribs, pork ribs, etc.,) chicken kelaguen, and potato salad. Also, get shrimp patties, takoyaki, and pickled papaya or mango. My mouth is salivating as I type…

McKraut’s. I reminisce when this place used to be a small shack in Malojloj with a slogan “Not Healthy but Tasty.” How it has grown! It is now a full-fledged restaurant and bar. This place is legendary for their brats from when they were a small shack, but now their menu has expanded.  I ordered Jägerschnitzel on my last visit, which was breaded pork served with mashed potatoes and red cabbage vegetables. It was good. The only downside to this place is the slow service. But what can you expect? It is, after all, island time.

My new favorites on island:

Pika’s Café. Open only for breakfast and lunch or brunch. However, come early because the place has a tendency to fill up quickly. Tinaktak Burger, Loco Moco, Korean BBQ on Rice…are items you can NEVER go wrong with. It kept me coming back for more. I didn’t appreciate their penne pasta…but that’s why I go to Capri for pasta.

Niji at the Hyatt. A place to visit for all you can eat tempura and green tea tiramisu. Need I say more?

I hope I made some helpful suggestions and, if you are visiting, enjoy your time in Guam!

Travel Apps Part 2: Traversing Around Town

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Alas, here is part two of the travel apps series. Today, I will be sharing with you what apps I’ve used in the past to get around a certain city. Granted, most of these apps require data, so I will be sharing how to access data while traveling abroad, on another blog post. So, let’s get started!

Google Maps (requires data). I loved using this app in our recent travel to Tokyo. We commuted mostly by train and it tells you what line to get on and if there are any transfers. Most of the time, it also gives you the platform number, to help you while you are transferring between two different train lines. Another nice feature is knowing how much to pay. It tells you exactly the cost of getting to your destination.

I have CityMapper (requires data) too, which is a lot like Google Maps, but I didn’t use it as much during this past trip. But, you can definitely download and see which you like better. You might actually like both.

All Subway (no data required). This app helps you look at the Subway Route Maps in the city you are visiting. It has ALOT of cities… but I’m pretty sure not all. It has Manila, Melbourne, Milan, Miami, Copenhagen, Bangkok, etc. So, if your city is on there, it’s a good download before you leave.

Yelp (requires data). Yelp has been around for a long time in the United States, and is recently going Global. I used it a bit in Italy back in 2012, but didn’t find a lot of reviews in certain places. This year, I used it in Tokyo and found a few gems that were recommended by Yelp reviewers! I love to use Yelp to find highly recommended cafe, restaurants, and breweries. It saves me from having to go through a horrible experience!

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Please note though, that these apps are not foolproof. You still may get lost, get off a wrong stop, or have a bad experience at a restaurant. Sometimes, you just can’t help it. However, these apps may help lessen the painful ordeal of a highly stressful situation. A few other tips I can suggest, if you are staying at a hotel, gather suggestions from the front desk staff or concierge (no data required). Ask them:

  • Is this the right route to take to get from point A to point B?
  • What is a good sushi place (pasta place, cafe, etc.) nearby?
  • What are some activities to do around town?

Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions or for help. Asking for help is half the battle. 😉

Happy Travel Friends!