October 31, 2008

Whassup 2008

The whassup guys are back supporting Obama. This is funny even though it's not funny. Check it out.

October 27, 2008

More about Cabo...

Well after we walked around downtown Cabo, bought some souvenirs and were sexually harassed, we headed back to the resort to rest before we came back out later that night.

We made some friends on the resort and once we got dressed, we ran into them in the lobby. They were heading out so we all piled into the taxi and rode back into the city together. They were a pair of newlyweds on their honeymoons so they were feeling very festive. We went back to Cabo Wabo but this time it was open and the people were partying! We went in and had a shot of blue tequila. Yummy and smooth! Then we made our way to the dance floor. The music was a lot of old school from the 70's, 80's and early 90's. It was a very mixed crowd so that kind of music was perfect.

As we danced around, we were shocked to see one of our friends get into a scuffle with a gentleman and then with club security. It was crazy because the guy started things with our friend but our friend was the one removed from the club. We tried to talk to security but they were not hearing anything we had to say. After that, our friends hopped into a cab and said good bye for the evening. We decided to keep the party going and walked down to Squid Row. It was a much more stripped down club than Cabo Wabo. In comparison, I would say that Cabo Wabo was the nice, sexy spot and Squid Row was the college spot. It was like a spot that you would hit up every weekend in college. We had a blast!

The next day we decided to partake in some more water sports. Me and two of my friends went parasailing. It was so cool! If you've never been, you should definitely go. It was so peaceful floating above the boat and the water. Then as we headed back, the guy driving the speedboat let us take turns and control the speed. One of my friends tried to kill us by going extremely fast. I dove for the floor so that I wouldn't be thrown from the boat as we bounced violently in the waves. It was all so much fun though.

After all of that excitement, we decided that we would chill out for the rest of the trip. We relaxed for the rest of the day by the pool. The next day some of us got up and took the yoga class offered on the resort. It was a great way to wrap up the trip. We got a great stretch by the pool. One of the ladies also got a full body massage. After that we focused on relaxing and laid out by the pool with our books and study materials (yes some of us did study for various tests but who doesn't mind studying under the tropical sun in a swimsuit by a pool?).

The next day we had to be up at the crack of dawn (actually before the crack of dawn) because our flight left at 8:05am. Two of my friends had a later flight so they decided to revisit the clubs while the rest of us relaxed at the resort. Since I was starting to catch a cold, I knew it was best for me to take it easy. Also, the next day was one of the other ladies' birthday so we got her room decorated and did a corona toast while singing happy birthday.

The next morning we got up hella early and headed to the lobby to wait for our car to take us to the airport. We ran into our friends who had just gotten back from the club and were chillin by the bar chatting with some of our other resort friends. We said goodbye to them and left for the airport. I figured once we got there, things would be routine. I was wrong.

When we were headed to Cabo, we had to fill out these forms and get a tourist card. We got that card stamped as we entered the country along with our passports. Well we needed that card to leave the country. Unfortunately one of my friends had thrown hers away and didn't have it. To make matters worse, the immigration office didn't open until 7am and our flight was scheduled to start boarding at 7:20am. We weren't sure she would make it on the flight. Fortunately she came rushing in a few minutes before our flight started boarding and made it just in time.

It was one adventure after another but lots of fun. Now I'm done with my international travels for the year as I focus on work and my business. Pictures from Cabo in the next post. Come back now, ya hear!

October 24, 2008

fresh from the shores of Cabo!!

Now that I've finished my Italy trip description, I can tell you about my adventures in Cabo. It was a great 5 days. I got the chance to truly relax and release. I didn't sleep in too often because we had to wake up for breakfast but I did manage to take naps by the pool and on the beach. It was awesome!

I went to Cabo for my friend's birthday. She wanted to bring it in under a tropical sun and that's exactly what we did. We spent most of the time lounging by the pool so I got a chance to work on my tan (which I needed. I was starting to go back to my winter coloring, which is a few shades lighter than my summer coloring). So now I'm a lovely caramel brown, which I enjoy.

Back to the trip. The first day we arrived, we put on our swimsuits and promptly headed out to enjoy the lovely pool (I'll include pictures at the end). We wanted to take full advantage of the resort's activities so after laying out in the sun, we dressed for dinner. One of the entertainment staff told us they would be performing Les Miserables and we were intriguied. After dinner we headed to the stage to check it out.

It was quite interesting to see them lipsync the different broadway tunes. Apparently it was a mixture of hit broadway plays. It was odd to watch them lip sync because not all of the performers spoke English as a first language and it showed. We were so tired that we started dropping while trying to watch the show. Most of us headed to bed. Of course I was one of them.

The next day, we got up early to jog on the beach. As soon as we attempted to walk briskly on the coarse, deep sand, we realized that jogging would be out of the question. It was a workout just walking but we pressed on. After about 30 minutes of walking, we pushed on for another 15 minutes before we headed back to meet the other ladies for breakfast. I wasn't sure if I would be doing that again. We ate breakfast and then put on our swimsuits for a day of lounging around the pool. After a few hours of that, we lounged on the beach. It was wonderful.

The next day we headed into town to go to the marina to catch a boat that would take us on a tour of the Arcs, Pelican Island and Lover's Beach where we would go snorkeling. It was very cool riding the boat in the pretty, blue water. We saw some pelicans, sea lions and cool looking fish. Unfortunately the snorkeling didn't work so well for me. I couldn't navigate those darn flippers on my feet so well but it was fun trying even though I got a LOT of sand in my swimsuit bottom.

We walked around the town and were offered jewelry, candy, weed, cocaine and sexual favors. Those guys in Mexico were very open about what they had to offer. We were called "brown sugar" quite a few times as well. It was funny and kind of traumatizing at the same time. It didn't help that initially we were walking around in our swimsuits as we waited to dry off. My friend had her picture snapped on a camera phone while taking a shower in her bikini to rinse the sand off. Hopefully she doesn't end up on some girls gone wild in Mexico website. We walked around and bought some souvenirs before we headed back to the resort.

I must stop now and continue this story later...

October 20, 2008

My Italian getaway-Venice

As my whirlwind Italian tour came to a close, we had a chance to visit Venice. While in Milan, we hopped on a train and took the 2 hour trip to the city that floats. I'm not sure if that's an official thing but that's how I see Venice. It is literally built on the water, which is really cool.

When we arrived in Venice, we were greeted by our guide and given a walking tour of the city, which was the cutest city ever! It is filled with churches and water and cool shops. I wish that we had more time there because it was my second favorite city in Italy so far. We took a ride in the small canals on a gondola, which was cool aside from the smelly water. Check out the pics:

The lady in the picture is Bella Kim. She's also from Atlanta and we enjoyed the gondola ride along with four other bellas.

This was our gondola driver. He spoke very little English but he was really nice and attempted to be helpful and answer our questions.

After the gondola ride, we continued to walk around Venice and do a little shopping. We didn't have a lot of time so we had to walk swiftly back to the train depot so that we wouldn't be left in Venice. It was a fairly low key trip with some great sightseeing and cool shopping. We did have dinner at a lovely restaurant with great tasting food. I really plan on going back to Venice to spend more time...maybe during carnival.

October 19, 2008

My Italian getaway-Milan

After visiting (and falling in love with) Florence, I hopped on another motor coach and headed excitedly to Milan. I was excited because we would be there during Milan Fashion Week and I was imaging the city being filled with fashionistas and other fashion industry insiders attending shows in a tent much like they do in Bryant Park in New York.

No such luck. Fashion Week in Milan is very low key with the fashion shows being held in tucked away places like lofts and small clubs. I know this because I asked around. So nonetheless, I wanted to get out and enjoy the city of Milan.

The first day we arrived after stopping to do some outlet shopping outside of the city. The outlets were cool and the prices were ok but after the euro to dollar exchange, we really weren't saving that much money. It was cool to go though. If you are in Milan and want to do some shopping, I recommend checking out the outlets.

After we arrived, we decided to check out happy hour. It was really cool, especially since there were good drinks for a reasonable price and pretty good hors devours. Then we went to dinner and I had some of Milan's signature dish; risotto. It was pretty good. We enjoyed eating outside and a bottle of red wine before we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our trip to Venice in the morning (which I will discuss in the next blog). Me and my travel buddies decided not to go to the club with the other ladies. Here is a picture of me in the duomo.

Good times! We also did a walking tour of Milan where our tour guide showed us how the ride the subway (it was a bit confusing and we had to take a commuter train along with the subway) as well as some of the cool stuff to do in Milan. As she showed us around, we came across the first Prada store. I didn't go inside but I did take a picture of it. Like to see it, here it goes:

One day, when I have a Prada checkbook, I will return to the store and shop. Until then, I have this picture for my memories. Well the last day in Milan, we hit the town. We hopped on the commuter train and went into the city to really explore. We had heard that the canals were really cool to visit and had some good restaurants so we made that our first stop (after I found out the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit was sold out, I'm a fan). We went down to the canals but were a bit disappointed. They weren't all that sexy but we found a cute restaurant and I had some pizza with interesting cheese on it. It had a great flavor but wasn't the type of cheese you would immediately associate with pizza. I can't remember the name, though. Here are the canals.

After that, we headed back to the duomo and checked out some of the shops. We also made it a point to enjoy some gelato from this wonderful place called Grom. It was recommended to my travel buddy, Tiffani and it was well worth the recommendation. Plus it was the nicest gelato places that we'd visited. I also highly recommend Grom for anyone that is in Milan and looking to try some gelato. Great place to start. Here's a picture of the menu (in Italian of course.

Grom was lovely and had great gelato. But we were very tired so we hopped on the commuter train to head back to the hotel. We had to get in bed kind of early to be ready for the airport the next day. However, we were hungry when we got back to the hotel and there weren't many places nearby that were open. We did some scouting and after coming up empty, we resigned ourselves to have our last Italian meal be McDonald's in Milan. It was pretty good. I got a chicken sandwich that had a slightly Italian twist and the fries tasted exactly the same. I figured that a trip to McDonald's was a good way to end the trip anyway.
As I sleepily ate the McDonald's in our plush hotel lobby, I felt good about the trip. Everything turned out really good and even though Milan wasn't as fly as I thought, it is still a city I'd visit again.

October 09, 2008

My Italian getaway-Florence

After an action packed three days in Rome, we all got on a motor coach and headed to Florence. Although I liked Rome, I was excited to go to another city and see if it was any different. Who knew that we would start our adventure to Florence with one last adventure in Rome?

As we were departing, it became obvious that our bus driver had made a wrong turn when he started backing up. I was sitting in the front so from my end, everything was fine, but the ladies in the back began to yell out for him to watch out. Apparently there was a car behind him and he was getting close to hitting it. Unfortunately our driver didn't speak much English so he just gestured and said that he had it under control (but not in those exact words). Apparently he didn't have it under control because he did end up hitting the car. As he gets off of the bus to deal with the accident, I thought that it would take an hour or so for the police to come and everything to get all sorted out. Boy was I wrong. 15 minutes later, the driver was back on the bus and we were on our way. No police were called. Both drivers just exchanged insurance and contact information and went on their way. It was amazing!

So we were finally off to Florence. The bus driver finished backing up and we hopped on the expressway (if that's even what they call them in Italy) to Florence or Firenze. It was a very scenic trip so I enjoyed looking out the window until I took a quick nap. Here's a picture of a rest stop that we made on the way.
After we loaded up on snacks and had a bathroom break, we were back on the road. Before we arrived in Florence, we made a stop at this lovely little town in the Tuscan region of Italy called San Gimignano. It was a very cute little town that looked like something out of a Disney movie. I almost expected to see some cartoon birds and animals come out and start playing around. We stopped there for an hour or so and did some shopping. It was really nice. I would love to spend a few days there and just enjoy the scenery.

Here is a picture of San Gimignano.

The amazing thing is that a car drove down this street along with the people walking. Can you imagine a car driving down this street? It's crazy, I know. After we enjoyed San Gimignano, we got on the new motor coach (the old one sprang an oil leak when we had our accident) and headed on toward Florence. We had one more stop in the town of Greve in the Chianti region of Italy. Greve was also a very cute little town, but it was a bit bigger than San Gimignano. We stopped there for an hour and some of the ladies enjoyed a wine tasting. We'd gone to a wine shop and they had it set up where you could go around and taste some of the various wines that they sold. I didn't participate because it wasn't a tasting led by a sommelier or anything. Me and my travel buddies decided to walk around and explore the town some. Here's a picture of Greve.

I would also love to take a few days and enjoy Greve and the rest of the Chianti region of Italy. I really like Chianti wine. We were only there for an hour before we got back in the motor coach and continued on our journey. An hour later or so, we arrived in Florence. We found out that our hotel was right in the city center and we were excited. There were tons of shops, restaurants and other things within walking distance of our hotel. We hopped off the bus, tipped the driver and headed inside to wait for our room assignments. I stopped by Tiffany's (one of my travel buddies) and found out that there was a dinner outing being planned and that we needed to be dressed and ready to go in 20 minutes or so. I headed back up to my room and got ready for a night out on the town in Florence. We had dinner at a nice restaurant. I ate pizza that was good, but not as good as the pizza in Rome. After dinner we headed to this really cool nightclub called YAB (you are beautiful). It was hip hop night so there was a good mix of hip hop, r&b and old school music played. The club was a nice size and had a room playing dance music as well. It was a very diverse crowd and everyone was dancing and enjoying themselves. Take a look at it. Good times!

Well after YAB, we went back to the hotel room to rest for the next day's outings. The next day we had a walking tour of Florence and got to do some shopping afterward. I found this very cute burnt orange purse that I had been looking for. I became slightly obsessed with finding a cute orange purse in Italy after my friend visited and came back with this very cute burnt orange bag. Mine is a lighter burnt orange but I like it and it's unique. We spent the rest of time in Florence walking (some more) and enjoying the city. It's such a cute city and I defintely plan on going back to visit longer. I even rubbed the nose of the lucky Boar that ensures that I will return to Florence. Here's a picture of it.
Florence is one of my definite favorite cities in Italy so far. It's a very cool mix of old Italian culture and history and current culture. If you ever get a chance to visit Italy, I strongly suggest you take some time to visit Florence. Stay tuned for the next leg of my Italian getaway...

October 03, 2008

My Italian getaway-Rome

Well once I made it on the plane and settled in for the 9 hour flight, I was able to truly relax and spent most of the flight sleeping. I did get a chance to watch a couple of movies and enjoy the pretty good in flight food as well.

9 hours later, we landed in Rome. Since our flight left in the evening, it was essentially an overnight flight and it was Friday morning when we landed in Rome. Our itinerary had suggested that we get sleep on the plane because we would be hitting the ground running and we do just that.

We got our rooms and went quickly upstairs to drop off our bags and head back downstairs to eat lunch and have orientation. During orientation, we got our metro passes and a rundown of the overall tour. Then we ran quickly upstairs to shower and change to head out for our Vespa tour of Rome. Unfortunately it had started to rain but the tour went on regardless. We headed out and met our tour drivers. Mine was a nice older gentleman who spoke absolutely no English but made me feel safe on the Vespa. Here's his picture.

Now I've seen people ride Vespas in Atlanta but not like they do in Italy. In spite of lines showing the different lanes, it is apparently ok to share the lane with a car. It was definitely a learning experience to ride on a Vespa through Rome. Plus the sights were lovely. I would highly suggest it to anyone taking a trip to Rome but it's definitely not for the faint of heart.

Once we finished our tour, we were cold and wet so we all headed upstairs to rest before going out that evening. Later on, we jumped in a taxi in groups of four and headed to a happy hour spot. The only issue: no one knew the name of the place, only the area of town. Our lovely, non-English speaking driver drove us to the area but didn't know where to drop us off. So while he and the lady in the front seat argued (in two different languages mind you), we drove through these tiny alleyways. When I spotted some of the other ladies (Bellas from now on), I suggested we get out of the cab but was denied the request. The ladies I was with refused to exit the cab so I watched helplessly as the metered continued to tick away. Eventually the driver stopped and told us to get out of the taxi (in Italian mind you). I can't verify that he said get out but his body language and rapid fire language gave me the impression he was saying "Get the hell out of my taxi!"

We got out and found the other Bellas who were also roaming around confused. A few minutes later we found our lead Bella Feleace (I hope I spelled that right) and she took us to Beige. It was a very hip bar that had great drinks for great prices (7 euro for a large mojito and they free pour...no jiggers in Italy!). After stopping to eat a pizza (as served by our adorable waiter), we enjoyed a drink at Beige while we waited to go to the next place (which was Alibi-pronounced AL-I-BEE). Here are the Bellas at Beige:

Beige was really nice and the music was cool. It was the techno type of music that isn't really great to dance to all night but it was good to sit for a moment and enjoy a GREAT tasting mojito to. As it got close to midnight, we learned that we would be heading to the next place soon. Apparently the clubs in Rome don't start popping until about midnight so we all headed outside to hop in a taxi. This time I got the name of the place and Bella April got the address. We were all set to go! We hopped in the taxi and headed over to Alibi. When we walked in, the music was very similar to the music we heard at Beige. We were slightly disappointed because we had been told the music was going to be more hip hop than techno. We waited around until we saw some of the other Bellas and they advised us to go upstairs. We hadn't even seen stairs! We went and heard some great music so we danced for a few hours before heading back to the hotel. First night in Rome!

The rest of the trip in Rome was just as much of an adventure. The next day was spent touring the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum. Who knew it was so large? My feet hurt horribly. We had walked for about 10 hours. By the time we got back to the hotel, we all passed out and didn't make it out to dinner with the rest of the Bellas but we were hungry so we struck out on our own armed with our metro passes and a map. It was a great evening. We made it to a nice restaurant and back with no incident and lots of stopping of total strangers who spoke english. It was fun. I also discovered gelato that day and it was WONDERFUL! We had it twice and I proclaimed that we should have gelato every day and everyone agreed. The last day in Rome was a free day so we slept in a bit and then ventured out again armed with our metro passes and a map. We visited the Coliseum and the place next to it (I can't remember the whole name but it had the Domus Augustus in it). It was all very awe inspiring. Plus we got taken by a guy dressed as a Gladiator. We stopped and took a picture with him and he attempted to charge us 3 euro a piece. It was 5 of us so he tried to come up on 15 euro for a quick picture. We gave him what we had and walked on. Be careful of the Gladiator when you visit the Coliseum!

Stay tuned for the next city on the action packed tour...

October 02, 2008

October 01, 2008

My Italian getaway

Hi there!

It's been a while since I've written and I have a great reason. I went to Italy for 9 days and just recently returned. I wish that I had taken my laptop with me so I could blog while I was there but I wasn't that comfortable lugging my laptop on a tour that consisted of me hopping from Rome to Florence to Milan to Venice with a few stops in the Tuscan region. So here's the blog summary of my trip broken down by city. However, before I even made it to Italy I had a bit of an adventure. Ok, more than a bit. Want to hear about it...here it goes.

I was scheduled to depart for my Italian getaway on September 18. My flight left that afternoon with a layover in New York before we headed to Rome at 6:55pm. Well as I arrived to the airport at 10am, I was very much on schedule for the 12:55 flight. I took advantage of the extra time to walk around the airport and look for an Italian phrasebook that I had forgotten to pick up the day before. I got on the airport train to return to my terminal at about noon, confident that I would sit for a spell before the plane started boarding.

When I got to my gate, I noticed something odd. I didn't see any of the ladies that were going to Italy with me and there was an angry looking crowd of people standing around the counter. I notice that the sign at the gate said 12:25 for the flight departure to Bucharest. But I was confused so I went over to a gate agent and asked about the flight and discovered that it was gone. My heart sank. I went over to a ticketing agent to see if I could get on another flight and not have to pay too much money.

Luckily for me, the angry group of people was a good thing. The flight had been overbooked which meant that about 20 people weren't given seats on the flight which was taking almost everyone to New York to connect to an international flight. After visiting the ticketing agent, I was directed to join the group of people who were being taken care of after being booted from the flight. I was able to be booked on a 1:40 flight to LaGuardia that would put me in New York at 4 and give me enough time to catch the shuttle to JFK which is where my 6:55 flight to Rome was leaving from.

Relieved, I headed to my new terminal with a voucher for a free flight because the other one had been overbooked. As I boarded the plane, I felt a little better about things. I took a nap on the plane and woke up right before it was about to land. As we began the landing prep, the pilot came on the intercom. Apparently there was a lot of traffic on the airway to New York so we were asked to slow down which meant we would land about 15 later than initially scheduled.

As my stress level slowly rose, I tried to remain calm. After about 15 minutes we were cleared to land and I felt a bit better. Once we landed, I was told that we would have a shuttle to JFK airport but that we would have to see a delta agent about it. When I walked into the area, the agent walked the other way and out the other door. Annoyed, I walked around to see if I could just catch a shuttle but there weren't any around so I returned to the area and the agent had returned.

She called a car service for me and another gentleman who had a 7pm flight to Saudi Arabia. She assured me that it would take about 15 minutes for the car to arrive. 20 minutes later, she was calling back to check on things. As time slowly ticked by, I looked at the time and it was 4:45. I knew I should be at JFK by 6 in order to be cleared for the flight. The car pulled up at about 5:15 and we happily jumped inside. As he pulled into rush hour traffic, I was wondering how long it would take us to get there. As we drove slowly through traffic, my stress level began to rise. At about 5:55, we pulled up to JFK airport, which is huge. The driver dropped one guy off and then headed to the Delta terminal.

When he pulled up, I almost got out while the car was moving but I took a breath and waited for him to stop. As he handed me my suitcase, I waved goodbye to my travel companion and ran into the airport. Thankfully the boarding agent had checked me into both flights so I was able to go straight to security and to the gate. As I walked up, the ladies were glad to see me, which was nice. I took a moment and got a bottle of water and calmed down. I had made it! I was on my way to Italy.

I figured after making it through that adventure, I was up for anything once I arrived in Italy.

Stay tuned...

PS: I discovered that I had misread my airline ticket and my flight had indeed been scheduled to leave Atlanta at 12:25. Moral: Pay CLOSE attention to your flight schedule!