Sleepless in Seattle

Seattle is a lovely place with lovely people, lovely art, lovely scenery, lovely food and not so lovely weather. The google says it rains 150 days out of the year there – my curly hair did not approve.

Eats and Drinks –
JuneBaby
Biscuit Bitch (just trust me)
Pike Place Chowda (#1 clam chowda, long line but worth the wait)
Beecher’s for cheeseeeeeeeeeee
Sushi and some good happy hour deals at Umi Sake House
Manny’s local brew from basically anywhere that has a tap
Belltown and Elysian breweries were decent
Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tap Room for all you coffee lovas
Best. Donuts. To. Ever. Hit. Your. Lips. at Daily Dozen Doughnut Company (cashola only)
Pike Place Market 
Purple Café
Rider (the crab butter and pull apart rolls will change your life)
The Pink Door (make a reso on acrobat night)
Heartwood Provisions (come for the happy hour, stay for the atmosphere)

Sights –
Space Needle
The Gum Wall (gross, but insta worthy)
Seattle Great Wheel
Day hikes near Seattle
The Nest rooftop bar
Harbor Cruises
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Seahawks and Mariners games
Museums
Parks, parks and more parks

Stay –
At the time of writing this, I have only stayed at two hotels in Seattle, but hundreds worldwide, and the Loews Hotel 1000 is one of the cutest, chic, attention-to-detail places I have ever slept. They will draw you a dang bath before you come back from a day of hard work for Pete’s sake. Highly recommend.

I have never really had a problem with the Seattle/Tacoma airport (they have a Qdoba!), but the rideshare pick-up area could certainly use a revamp.

Seattle ’tis a walkable yet hilly town, full of homeless folk but a beautiful city of friendly peeps, award-winning food and some great sight-seeing.

Friendly reminder that the middle seat gets both armrests.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas

Except for whatever I put in this blog post, of course. Sin City is one of my favorite places to people-watch. And I mean, spend every day and night belly up to the streets of Las Vegas Blvd with an adult beverage in hand just watching the people walk by. You get everyone (and thing) in Vegas, it is fascinating.

I have been there too many times to recall and have stayed at all the places on the strip. Some super fancy ones because work was footing the bill and some super dumps, well, because I was 20 something and on a budget. But the best middle-of-the-road place I continue to repeat stay at is the princess castle. I know most people hate the Excalibur because of the sexy Thunder from Down Under residency, or the fact that is smells like your Grandma’s house throughout the entire casino, or the unattractive carpet leading you to the hidden arcade on the lower level (you didn’t know that was there?!). I LOVE IT! Because…

1. It is for average, middle-class folk like myself who want to stay on the strip, but not spend $350 a night just to sleep and shower.

2. There is little-to-no pressure to look smoking hot when you leave your room, which is what I feel when I stay at Bellagio and MGM.

3. The pool is recently renovated, open year-round, heated and service right outside. Not to mention that you can get a chair to lay on no matter who you are – no need to rent a cabana for $1,000+ with bottle service like the Cosmopolitan or Caesar’s Palace.

4. The hotel might be a little dingy, but it gets the job done. It connects to the tram, walk-ways right into New York New York and MGM and while it is on the strip, it is far enough down that cars can still come/go to the airport without traffic no problem.

5. There is a casino, restaurants, snack shacks, shopping, fitness center, spa etc. Just like all the other options.

I am done selling the Excalibur, they aren’t paying me.

Las Vegas can be handled one of two ways, and one of the ways I actually never have partaken in. My kind of Vegas is food, drink, dance repeat. I will play the occasional slots or roulette but nothing to write home about. Sure you can gamble away your life savings, accidently hook up a with a stripper and owe them all the cash in your wallet (do they take venmo these days?), get so drunk that you believe them when they say it is tylenol and then not wake up for three days…OR you can do Vegas Middle Seat Etiquette-style.

See.
Fav: A tie between Celine Dion at The Colosseum at Caesar’s and Backstreet Boys at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood.
Least fav: Britney Spears and that one circus show I fell asleep in…Ka at MGM.
Comedy and magic are always safe bets.

Watch.
Fremont Street. I truly enjoy my every experience here. ‘Old’ Las Vegas is the best. You get everything from a woman in a wheel chair accepting money to take a picture with her XX sagging boobs that measure over a foot long, to a ‘bad santa’ who is smoking, his you-know-what exposed and a cigarette in mouth. You can gamble in the famous Golden Nugget or not finish your burger at Heart Attack Grill and get paddled in the butt live on the internet. They have live music at multiple stages, a zip line overhang and some photo-esque street performers.

Eat.
All-you-can-eat buffet and unlimited mimosas/bloody brunch – The Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan
Cheap eats – Pin-up Pizza at Planet Hollywood, Shaq’s Big Chicken (if you have car), garlic knots from the New York Pizzeria in New York New York
Nicer, yet affordable – sushi at Koi or a mango chutney burger at Burger Bar (both in Planet Hollywood), Five50 or Sage at Aria, FIX or Jasmine at the Bellagio

Drink.
Cocktails are flowing in Las Vegas. I mean, flowing.
Spanish Steps outside at Caesar’s
Rose. Rabbit. Lie. in the Cosmo
The Dorsey at the Venetian
And if you are up for trusting a robot to make your drink: The Tipsy Robot

Dance to a DJ.
Hakkasan at MGM
1 OAK at the Mirage
XS at Encore (outdoors, so think twice before going in winter brrr)
Marquee at Cosmo
Omnia at Caesar’s Palace

I did NOT like the service, attitude or non-existent fire escapes at TAO or Drais, but I am just one gals opinion.

Eat again.
All the chains are there too, for those of you not from the States or feeling really unadventurous – In-N-Out, Shake Shack, Chili’s, Sugar Factory, Lawry’s, Grand Lux Café and N9NE or the Linq off the strip, but kind of on the strip, has a slew of eating options. Visit the hidden pizza place at the Cosmo, but you didn’t hear it from me.

Don’t forget to do all the things if you can get passed the grandparents flicking the hooker business cards in your face –
High Roller ferris wheel (buy a drink before)
New York New York roller coaster (take some ibuprofen before)
Tilting thing at the Stratosphere
Hug the yellow M&M guy
The water fountain show in front of the Bellagio
Alive, real flamingos at the Flamingo
Sadly the weird pirate show is no more at Treasure Island
I hear you can take a helicopter day ride to the Grand Canyon, too

Go more than once, there is just too much to soak up in one trip. Don’t go to Vegas for more than 3 nights, just trust me on that one.

Friendly reminder that the middle seat gets both armrests.

Greek Islands Livin’

I am obsessed with Greece. I am psychotically watching flight alerts for me to go back and check out more of what the Grecians have to offer.

This girls trip was the latter half of the UK royal wedding trip, so not only were we on a high from spending the day in Windsor with our fascinators on, but I don’t think the weather could be any more perfect. The number of times people warned us about the upcoming ‘season’ I couldn’t begin to tell you. They were fearing the cruise ship infestation that was about to succumb their lives (and islands) in just a few short weeks. Soooo what lesson did I learn here? MAY is the time to go. It was ’empty’ according to the locals and honestly it was the best. There were still tons of people around, the freshest of foods, availability in the hotels, 75* weather every day and tons and tons of wine. May is where it is at.

This trip we visited two islands- Santorini and Mykonos. I am looking forward to checking out Crete, Paros, Syros and Symi next time.

We arrived in Santorini first, welcomed by our driver who took the sharp turns and steep rocky roads to our wonderful hotel – San Marino Suites in Fira. Complete with a blow-up flamingo in the pool and a tasty daily breakfast, San Marino Suites was perfect for three of us. It is difficult to go to one of the most romantic places in the world and find a hotel room for three friends. This hotel is walking distance from ‘downtown’ Santorini and we visited it regularly.

In Santorini we had a packed schedule – all of which I would do again – including walking alongside the donkeys that pretended their calves weren’t hurting as much as ours on that incline. Must do’s –

Santo Winery – go for the wine, stay for the sunset
Two Brothers – take an ibuprofen, put the helmet on and take a shot, or two
Santorini Sailing Cruise – don’t go under water if you recently had your hair colored
Hike from Fira to Oia – it is three hours along the waterfront and worth every second, bring water (for you and any furry friends you make along the route)
Drink Yellow Donkey beer – brewed on the island and so far I have not found it anywhere in the states and am super le sad about it
Murphy’s Bar – because obviously I find the Irish pub, wherever I am
Argo – for yummy food and the best sunset (make a reso!)

Santorini was definitely for lovers and there was a honey-moonin’ couple everywhere we turned, but like we always do, we made the best time out of it!

Pro-tip: whatever you pack in that giant suitcase of yours…you gots to carry that thing up and down hundreds of stairs, hills and streets with inclines bigger than what the guys from Jersey Shore are bench pressing on. There is not an elevator in sight – be mindful while packing.

Now it is party time.

The Hellenic Seaways ferry took us from Santorini to Mykonos and was perfect – organized, fast, smooth, clean and comfortable. The next day, the ferry operators went on strike – so be sure you have a plan B in case this happens on your travel day.

Livin’ Mykonos was the best hotel. I would recommend anyone to stay here. Welcome drinks all around! (and we kept ordering them at the bar the next three days after our official ‘welcome’ was over) Livin’ was not on the ocean so we saved a bit of money not being ‘downtown’. However, we were a short ride to/from everything. The hotel was super accommodating, the food was amazing and the pool was clutch. There are a total of seven taxis on all of the island – plan accordingly.

Mykonos was a dream. An expensive dream.

Favorite bar: Alley Cafe and Cocktail Bar 
Favorite bartender: Leo
Favorite bar cat: Bobo
Favorite day club to see Mike Ross from Pearson Specter at: Scorpios
Favorite food: Tie between Jimmy’s street gyros and the hotel’s bread and butter basket

Mykonos did not disappoint. Tons of cute shops, beautiful sunset views, sexy men, $20 cocktails at every bar – but hey, they give out free shots?? The music scene is lit – a lot of dancing and all around everyone having a great time! Just watch out for the chandelier that is about to fall off the ceiling onto your head.

The Mykonos airport has one terminal and cold pizza. They do not, I repeat DO NOT, accept euro that has a torn corner.

I highly recommend Santorini and Mykonos for a relaxing vacation and some fun in the sun.

Friendly reminder that the middle seat gets both armrests.

That Phoenix sun though

I had a quick work trip to Phoenix, but jumped in a bunch of tourist traps while I was there, obviously. I will write an addendum to this post once I get to spring training/Scottsdale – some day…

Phoenix is hot.

Friendly reminder that the middle seat gets both armrests.

Just kidding, there is more to Phoenix than the heat.

Friendly reminder that the middle seat gets both armrests.

Grazie, Florence and Tuscany

Florence, Italy – beautiful, yummy and small enough to knock it out in a few days. Florence has a unique existence – full of culture and well, leather. Tons and tons of leather. The streets (can you really call them that when a car can barely fit down them?) are made of stones – making it difficult to travel with suitcases. Once a tour bus hits town, make your run for it! Small airport, small bus station, small everything that makes it even that much more special. By staying true to its roots, it keeps this sense of mystery, that I truly love.

We stayed in this airbnb right in town. There appeared to be more of those available over hotels during our visit. The climb up the stairs with 50lbs of luggage was the only downfall (I think I actually did fall down once or twice). Oh, and the AC doesn’t turn on until 11 p.m., but the host is awesome and flexible and the location can’t be beat!

Bring an empty suitcase to fill with leather products – there is plenty to choose from. Check out the rows and rows of local market.

The city center is very pretty and there are outdoor cafes all around to stop and grab a bite or drink. It is also home to the Santa Maria del Fiore, the third largest church in the world.

David is at the Accademia Gallery. He coo. Buy your ticket in advance with skip the line, walk in, take your picture, walk out. Boom 8 minutes flat.

So much yummy food, but I strongly suggest making a reso at Trattoria Gargani.

We booked tickets to the Uffizi Gallery, but ended up not going to it after hearing feedback from tourists and review sites of just ‘meh’. But check it out for yourself if you are into that kind of thing!

Tuscany, Italy – we were spoiled with a fabulous bride and groom that booked the most beautiful villa and had the most perfect wedding. Shout out to the Tuscan Mommy’s for keeping our bellies full while we laid by the pool sipping that glorious Italian wine. The Borgo is a b+b on site of the villa and was simply adorable.

A day trip from the Villa/Borgo is the town of Volterra. Tons of little jewelry shops, wine and cheese stores and sites for days. Don’t drive downtown in the city center. Trust me.

Italy has so much more I need to explore, hopefully there is another Italian post in my near future.

Addio!

Friendly reminder that the middle seat gets both armrests.

Denver; these Rockies don’t look very rocky

Colorado in general is a great place to visit and explore, but I am going to break the state down into vicinity posts. It is the 8th largest state, after all.

Denver area. Ahhh. I have been to Denver quite a few times and truly enjoy everything it has to offer from outdoor activities to food and drink and spectator sports too!

A few must-dos that I personally loved:

Red Rocks – doesn’t even matter what you see, it is the. best. music. venue.

White-water Rafting

Mountain Hiking

Rockies Baseball Game

Denver Botanical Gardens

1Up Arcade and Bar

Steuben’s – get the grasshopper boozy shake

Beverage Tours

Bike Rental

My love for Colorado continues strong through Fort Collins and Colorado Springs…stay tuned.

Friendly reminder that the middle seat gets both armrests.

Oui, Paris

I must say, I didn’t have the Paris experience that most people come back talking about. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely glad I went and had the chance to indulge in the French culture, but three days there was MORE than enough.

We stayed right downtown in the hustle and bustle at the Paris France Hotel. They were very nice and it was centrally located. It was extremely old and, well, small.

The Notre Dame Cathedral is beautiful, not air conditioned and REQUIRES you to leave your passport with the old lady volunteers in exchange for your audio guide. Shawls are available at the mart down the street – because as of the day right before we were there in Summer 2017, shoulders must now be covered to enter. Also, buy in advance through Get Your Guide, and skip the hour wait in line.

I wake up salivating from dreaming about the crepes at Au P’tit Grec. It was worth taking the Metro 45 minutes out and getting lost on the way through the stone-street alleyways. This street food puts street food out of business. Must. Go. Back.

Hey! The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. You’re welcome. Not to fret, everything looks the same inside and she is about 8.5 x 11 that you can go within 15 feet of. We walked in 15 minutes before it closed, went right to Mona, pushed our way through selfie sticks to get a look of her behind a foggy piece of plastic and walked out with 5 minutes to closing. Boom. Efficiency is my middle name.

Through the previously mentioned Get Your Guide, you can get a three-in-one pass and skip the lines at the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Siene Cruise – which was so extremely worth it in dat summer heat.

Speaking of the tower…the guides all make fun of all the tourists because it was just a prop for the International Exposition, or World’s Fair of 1889, which was to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The French wanted a monument to be built to celebrate the greatness of France. Alas, we just keep going back. And paying a pretty penny to see it in fact. If I have one word of advice it is: stairs. Take the stairs down, do not wait for the lift. You will be waiting a week to get back down.

Naturally I was le thirsty after the climb down, so grabbing a beer at an outdoor café with a tower view was in order.

The beggar and peddler game is strong around town. It was rather aggressive and irritating, they actual touch you, put a bracelet on you forcefully then scream at you telling you you now owe them money. Dislike. Be careful.

The River Siene is so peaceful and I encourage you to take a tour through it. You can even use it as a taxi service if you want. I fell asleep on the back of the boat at one point it was that smooth and quiet. I took a run along the river one morning and that made the trip worth it. Until I tried to get back to the hotel and almost got hit by two cars, a scooter and burned by someone smoking a cigarette al fresco on the 3-inch wide sidewalks they have all over Paris.

I tried to speak French when ordering food at restaurants and the locals were so rude to us it was not even worth the attempt to be respectful. Apparently they don’t like the money that tourism brings in.

I would for sure say go to Paris, at least once, and experience this for yourself. But next time I get the chance to go to France (hey, that rhymes!), it will be elsewhere.

Friendly reminder that the middle seat gets both armrests.