West Coast Tour, Day 11 – Seattle

After disembarking the cruise ship we got a cab. It was very orderly. There was plenty of cabs and there was plenty of workers to point you in the right direction. We got a cab right away, no waiting. It was about a $15 ride to the downtown Westin. It was niiiiiice!!!! I booked it on Hotwire. We were really early for check in, it was only about 9:30, so I figured we would have to check our bags and walk around. To our surprise, they had a room ready! I requested a high floor and we got a room on the 32nd floor! The front desk worker was very nice. Most of the people we came in contact with on this vacation were very nice. I guess we’re just jaded East Coasters. I was so happy that we could just drop all of our stuff in the room. Then we went looking for a breakfast place. I was desperate for coffee, not a problem in Seattle. Unfortunately, it’s all Starbucks (not my favorite).
We could see Pike Place Market from our room, so we started walking in that direction. Again, referencing our Yelp app to find a place for breakfast. We walked through the market a while. They were selling tons of flowers for Mother’s Day. And of course, lots of seafood and fresh produce. The produce was amazing. I wish I could shop there!

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We ended up eating breakfast at a place called Ludi’s. It was a Filipino restaurant, but they served American style breakfast. It was yummy, but I wish I had of tried something Filipino.

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After breakfast we headed back to the hotel. We both fell asleep on the most awesome beds ever!!!! These beds were amazing! Every single night of vacation, I woke up at 3am. I guess my body clock couldn’t shut itself off. So I napped everyday. This was the best nap of them all. We got up and not to long after Sean, Brandi and Emily arrived. It was so great to see them. Emily is getting so big and is so adorable! She immediately spotted the iPad and sat on my lap to play her games. She had to check out Grandpop’s iPad too.

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We had a nice, relaxing visit with the kids and then we all went to dinner at The Pink Door. It was excellent. Unfortunately, Emily was not able to get chicken nuggets and French fries. She even made up a song about it, poor kid. She was really good and ate some spaghetti and bread.

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After dinner, we walked around bit. Seattle is very hill-y! Nothing like some intense cardio after a giant meal. We went back to our room and hung out a while. The kids went home and we went to bed. Our flight was at 11:30 am out of SEATAC.
I had tried earlier in the day to check in to our flight online, but there was an issue. US Air told me to call Expedia. Oh no, not THAT! They have the worst customer service, ever! So I spent some time on hold, then decided to just check in at the airport. The airline will just have to figure it out.
We left the hotel at about 8:30 am on Monday morning. It’s a $40 flat rate cab fare from downtown to the airport. There was no traffic on the way and we got there pretty quick. So, we go up to the self serve kiosk at Us Air, still not able to check in. One of the workers had to help us. She took our reservation and ID’s, went to computer and she was there for a while. She came back to us and said “I’m sorry, your connecting flight in Phoenix is running late. I’ll have to book you on a direct flight to Philadelphia.” I literally jumped up and down for joy! No lay over!!!
The flight home was painless. A lady across the isle from us had the whole row to herself, so she switched with us and we all had extra space! I read my book and the 4 1/2 hours went by quickly. In Philly, we picked up our car and headed home! We had an excellent vacation, saw beautiful sights, ate wonderful food, saw our family and friends. But it was so nice to get back home to my couch and my dog!
There’s no place like home…

West Coast Tour Day 10, 1 day cruise

Today started with a lovely breakfast at a lovely little coffee and waffle shop, Waffle and Berries. The cafe is very sleek and modern and the waffles were to die for! It was also only a few blocks from the hotel. Thank goodness for Yelp!.

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We went back to our room and hung out for a while, waiting to get a cab to the port. We left the hotel around noon and it was only a $6 cab ride to the port. This embarkation was way different than Los Angeles. We had to go through customs before boarding and I think all 2,700 passengers were in line. It was PACKED, but I have to say the line did keep moving. It probably took about an hour to get on board. We were spoiled with our empty 3 day cruise! This cruise was really crowded.
Although we love cruising, the only reason for a one nighter is to earn points to upgrade your cruise loyalty status or to have a Girls’ Night Out. There were hoards of women and quite a few bachelorette parties. It’s one thing if you live in the area and can take a little duffle bag on the ship with you and stay for one night. But when you have to schlep 3 suitcases on and off the boat, it’s not really worth it. It’s not so much cruising for 1 night that I found annoying, it’s just a pain to stay anywhere for 1 night, which is what we did for the last 3 nights of vacation: Vancouver, Cruise, Seattle. That was just too much moving around. Live and learn. Never again! 2 night minimum.
We had a great time on our one night cruise to Seattle. One of the highlights was finding our favorite Princess bartenders, MUNI! How could you not love Muni!?!? Muni the bartender performs!
We had some cocktails, went to muster, ate lunch, took a nap, got our tapas, sushi and wine, had some more cocktails, watched a band in one of the lounges, went to dinner, went to bed. Then we woke up in Seattle and had to disembark. Disembarkation was a breeze(except for the schlepping of the suitcases). We didn’t even have to wait for our number to be called, if you were ready to go, they wanted you off the ship! They even had the new passenger names on our door in the morning :-(

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West Coast Tour Day 9 – Vancouver

The ship arrived in Vancouver around 6:30 am. We watched the ship sail under a bridge and dock at Canada Place. We had to be out of our room by 7:30, and then we waited in one of the lounges. We were off the ship by 8:30. The only problem was that our tour didn’t pick us up until 10:00. We got some breakfast sandwiches form Subway and found a nice bench. We just hung out and people watched. It was a fabulous day and the scenery was beautiful, so we didn’t mind.
The tour bus picked us up and we were off to see Vancouver. Our first stop was Stanley Park to see the totem poles. Then we stopped at Granville Island for lunch. It’s a HUGE market place with all kinds of vendors. We drove around the city and saw some more sights. Our last stop was the observation tower, with great views of the city from the top. My favorite part of Vancouver, is all the beautiful flowers! Vancouver is beautiful, clean and the people are very nice.
The tour but dropped us off at our hotel, Coast Coal Harbour. We checked in, got to our room and found out it was a double! The horror. So I called down the the front desk and told them I had booked a king room. Turns out, I did only get a standard because I booked through “Hotwire”, but they came right up and brought keys to a King room. OK! The new room was MUCH better and we got a water view!
The hotel is nice, clean and modern. The bed is like a magical cloud. I fell asleep at 7pm and slept all night through. They provide robes and fancy toiletries, but NO FRIDGE! I’m still missing my Days Inn.
We ate dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant, Joyeaux Cafe. It was pretty good, but it was not as good as our Vietnamese place in Millville, NJ!
After dinner I fell asleep on the fluffy cloud bed. Good night, Vancouver!

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West Coast Tour, Day 6,7,8- Cruising!

Tuesday was embarkation day, but we couldn’t board the ship until noon. We grabbed some breakfast a few short blocks from the hotel to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. Best fried chicken ever! We had chicken, waffles and Mac & cheese for breakfast. YUM-O!
Then we went back to the hotel. Check out was at noon, but I could hardly wait to get to the ship! We left the hotel at about 11:45 and there was a cab waiting right outside. It was about $20 bucks to get to the cruise port. Nothing is as exciting as seeing your ship docked! Embarkation was a breeze. The ship was really empty.
As soon as we got on we went to the Sanctuary, this is an exclusive section of the deck with big comfy chairs and a private pool. The day we got on the ship was absolutely gorgeous out, so we over zealously booked the Sanctuary for our 2 sea days. Turned out it was was too cold on Wed and Thurs to enjoy the sanctuary :-( Luckily, they only charged us for the 1 day. On the second day we went up just to check it out and the worker guy was dressed like he was going on an arctic expedition!
Our room was ready, so we were able to drop our back packs off and explore the rest of the ship. We had both been on this class of ship before, so we kind of knew the lay of the land. The ship was beautiful. We walked around a bit and went to the aft bar for a cocktail and had some pizza for lunch.
Sail away was at 4 pm. There was party on the top deck with a live band and dancing. The ship was really empty, but there was plenty of activities and entertainment planned.
Our late afternoon ritual was to go to Vines bar and order a bottle of wine and get tapas and sushi. I ate the tapas, Paul ate the sushi. We would have a glass of wine and then save the rest of the bottle for dinner. The tapas and sushi were complimentary if you ordered wine.
We ate dinner every night in the Portofino dining room. The food was very good. I got my fettuccine Alfredo every night! The service in the dining room was impeccable. 2 nights we had a waiter from Poland, Luckas. The last dinner of the cruise, they served escargot! It was excellent!!!! I love the way they prepare it and it’s consistent no matter what Princess ship you’re on.
There was several different shows every night. The first night was a show we had seen already, Destination Anywhere, so we skipped it. But we did see a magician. On the second night we saw a comedian and the magician, he did a new show. On the third night was a show called “British Invasion”‘ it was one of the best we’ve seen on Princess. We also saw the comedian again, “Sarge” he did a different show too.
Our cruise was short and sweet. I only wish it could have been longer! I love cruising. I became “platinum” on this cruise and they gave me a pin! Paul was jealous, so he stole it, but I didn’t mind. He became platinum on our cruise that got cancelled and he never got his pin!

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West Coast Tour Day 5 – Hollywood to Long Beach

Today was basically a travel day. We were going from Hollywood to Long Beach to be close to the cruise ship. The cruise was going out of San Pedro, just one town over from Long Beach. Long beach has a lot more stuff to do, so we stayed there.
We were so lucky that we had such beautiful weather for 3 days because we woke up on Monday to torrential rain! We had originally planned to take the metro down to Long Beach, but schlepping luggage in the pouring rain wasn’t happening. I went online and booked with Super Shuttle to take us to our next hotel. It was a bit pricey, but we had to do it. They did provide good service. The driver was punctual and we had a whole van to ourselves.
We stayed at a courtyard by Marriott. It was nice, but I actually liked the Days Inn better. I booked a ” balcony” room. Well, it was a bogus balcony. The balcony was there, but there was no way to access it. Rip off! However, they did have our room ready early. I’ll forgive them for the bogus balcony.
It was around lunch time and we were getting hungry (imagine that!). I had found a link to “George’s Greek Cafe” on the hotel website and it got really good reviews, so we went there for lunch. The guy at the front desk gave us a map of the area and the restaurant was only a few blocks away. It was delicious! We got a flaming cheese appetizer, gyros, and lamb chops.
As we were sitting outside I noticed a bus that said “free service”, so I asked the waitress if it was really free??? Yes, it was. But it didn’t go far, just a loop between downtown and the queen Mary, with a few stops in between. We hopped on and checked out the sights. We ended up getting off and going to the aquarium. It was fun and we killed a few hours and walked of lunch!
Back at the hotel I did a load of laundry, necessary evil! I actually didn’t over pack this trip, we’ve worn everything. After laundry, I napped, of course.
On our earlier walk we saw a bar that looked pretty cool so we went over for a cocktail. It was a really cool bar and our bartender was from Philly!
For dinner , we went to WaWa restaurant, haha. It also got good reviews. They closed at 8:00 and it was about 7:20, so we lucked out. The food was really yummy!
Back at the hotel we took a dip in the heated pool and the hot tub, then it was time for bed. Cruising tomorrow!!!!

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West Coast Tour Day 4, Anniversary, Cemetery and WeHo

One of the main reasons we picked this area to stay in LA was the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Paul’s goal of our stay in LA was to visit the graves Johnny & Dee Dee Ramone. On Sunday morning we took a cab from the hotel over to the cemetery, only about 2 miles away. The cemetery was really neat. It just oozes history. You buy a map for $5 at the flower shop. You really need a map, the place is huge! We easily found Dee Dee and Johnny.

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There are about 5 mausoleums to walk through. As you look in the distance you can see the “Hollywood” sign, it’s kind of tiny and I couldn’t get a good pic, but you can see it when you’re there. I highly recommend visiting when you’re in LA. We spent about 2 hours here.

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We left the cemetery and got a cab to Hollywood Blvd & Vine. The Walk of Fame is the place to be, lots of bars, restaurants, shopping and tattoo parlors. Since it was Cinco De Mayo a margarita was in order! We thought all the Mexican places would be packed, but that was not the case. It was chilly and overcast yesterday and it was also Sunday, folks probably did their partying on Quatro De Mayo. We stopped at Te’Kila and had a margarita and shared some tacos. Everything was fabulous!

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I was on a quest for a good hot dog. At night there’s ladies up and down the Blvd selling hot dogs. They have little grills to cook hot dogs wrapped in bacon and all kind of toppings. But it was too early for the hot dog ladies so we stopped at Skooby’s. OMG, this was the best effin’ hot dog I ever ate!!! The dog had a snap when you bit into it and it was served on a grilled Hawaiian bun. The bun just put this dog over the top.

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We continued down the blvd and bumped into Marylin Monroe! My only celebrity sighting was a mannequin, oh well.

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I also got my pic taken on THE Academy Award steps at the Dolby Theatre.

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After a fun morning/afternoon we head back to the hotel for nap time! Later we were meeting Adrian and Kim for dinner. We had plans to meet them at the restaurant at 7:00. So after a 3 hour siesta, we got ready and headed out. We walked to “WeHo” (West Hollywood) only 1/2 mile from our hotel. We were a little early, so we stopped at a bar called Formosa Cafe. What a find! It was like we stepped back in time. Here’s a small review that sums it up: “A slice of LA history”, this “vintage” WeHo Asian opened in 1939 and still has the aura of an “old movie-star hangout”, complete with signed photos on the walls from its famous former clientele; the menu isn’t highly regarded, but most go for the drinks, the “cool” ambiance and the “nostalgia” factor.

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By the time we finished our pre-dinner cocktails, Adrian and Kim had arrived. It was so great to see them! We walked across the street to Jones Restaurant. We were seated in the “Clooney Booth”. Yes, that’s George Clooney! How cool is that? Dinner was amazing. Great food and great friends! If you ever come here you NEED to get the spaghetti and meatballs and apple pie. Just do it, trust me!

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What a fabulous anniversary we had!!! Thank you so much for all the anniversary wishes we received. Xoxoxo

West Coast Tour Day 2, Metro fun

PART 1-
What a fabulous day we’ve had so far and it’s only 2:30 in the afternoon. As you know I’ve been up since 4 am. Jet lag sucks!!! On the positive side, the early bird gets the worm. Who else can say that they walked up and down the Hollywood walk of fame and no one else was there? That’s pretty much how we started our day.
Our hotel has a “continental breakfast” that consists of coffee, juice, fruit, bagels and cold cereal. I went down at 6:30(when it opens) and got us coffee and bananas. The coffee was pretty good. We drank it on our balcony, lovely!

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Since it was so early, we waited around a bit until we went out to explore. I guess it was about 8:00am when we headed just 2 blocks from our hotel to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We were the only 2 people there. We walked up and down and took pics of all our favs. So glad we did this! When we got back to this part of town later in the morning it was PACKED and we would have never been able to walk down the street looking down at all the names. My tip to you when you go to Hollywood, do the walk of fame early in the morning!

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Oh, forgot to mention, the front desk at Days Inn Hollywood came through again. The girl at the front desk gave us a Metro map! I used it often. After we walked the walk of fame, we got the metro to Chinatown. I’m a big fan of public transportation when on vacation, it’s cheap and easy. It’s $1.50 to take a ride on the metro, we took it from our neighborhood, down to Union Station. Apparently, Union Station is Los Angeles’ hub of transportation. It so Art Deco and really neat. We made a connection on a different line and got off in the heart of Chinatown (just one stop from Union Station). I had printed out a self guided walking tour of Chinatown, but I think we could have done it on our own. We stopped at a famous bakery and got some pork buns, YUM!!!!!

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Then we walked down the Main Street and just took in the sights. We even saw a fender bender. LA drivers are HORRIBLE! And it’s NOT pedestrian friendly, FYI. Even if you have a green light to walk, look behind you to make sure no one is ripping around the corner!
We walked through a little market with lots of “stuff”.

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After we browsed the market, we continued down the Main Street. We saw signs for Union Station, which is where we needed to go to get back to our hotel. As we followed the signs we stumbled upon a really cool Mexican market. What a find! We stopped for a taquito and strolled down the street. They had a bunch of little shops and restaurants.

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At the end of the market was Union Station! Woohoo! Walking through there just takes you back in time. I am loving LA arcitechture! I also love the palm trees, they are so tall!!!!!

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PART 2-
Once we got back to our hotel, we were ready for a dip in the pool. It was in 90′s! In the sun it felt like you were going to melt, but in the shade it was lovely and there was a beautiful breeze. We got a table with an umbrella by the pool, took a refreshing dip and had a few beers. Now that was relaxing! After chilling out for a while, it’s time to go to IN-N-OUT BURGER. YAY!!!!!! It’s literally right next door to our hotel. So we walk over and get in line. This place is ALWAYS packed, but the line moves pretty quickly.

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I don’t know how they do it. They must get 3 food deliveries a day. And the drive through, forget about it! There’s a worker in the parking lot with an iPad taking orders from all the cars. Last night the line of cars was out of the parking lot and down the street. We placed our orders and waited about 10 minutes to get our burgers. They were AWESOME! I got mine animal style w/ chilies and animal style fries (onion, cheese and special sauce) YUMMMMMM! If you ever get a chance to go, you can order paper hats, they’re free and how fun is that? I think the paper hat was my favorite part of the day :-) Yes, In-n-Out burger lived up to the hype. We really enjoyed it!

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Now with a full belly, nice beer buzz and jet lag, I pass out for 4 hours! But we’ve already done so much, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. Paul had to try several time to get me up, but finally I wake up refreshed and ready to see some Hollywood night life. We walked just 2 short blocks from our hotel to the Walk of Fame, it’s wild at night! Last night was also the Iron Man 3 premier, so there was a million people waiting to get in to the theater.

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We walked around for a while, just people watching and seeing the sights.

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We knew we wanted to try some noodles for dinner. Paul LOVES noodles. So we did a Yelp search and found Ikemen just a few blocks form our hotel. This is definitely a local joint. It’s SMALL and there’s no air conditioning, but it was kind of cool. We order a fried chicken app and ramen noodle bowls. Everything was delicious! We were booth a bit leary because we had a bad ramen experience in Vegas, but Ikemen made us ramen believers again!

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After dinner (at 11:30pm, my clock is so wacked!) we stopped at the liquor store. They have 24oz beers for $2, it’s no Vegas, but it will do. This has been our cocktail of choice! I was falling asleep after just a few sips. Night, night! I think my clock is finally on west coast time :-)

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