Okay guys, so this is way overdue. I’m already cringing scrolling down and seeing my last blog date almost a year ago, but the beauty of DF aka Mexico City makes up for it.
If you know me, I’m someone that is constantly saying that I miss places. Sometimes, it’s somewhere I’ve only been once, even only for a few days. Mexico City is one of those places. Ever since Drew and I went in November, I’ve basically taken on a pro-bono job doing PR for the city encouraging anyone who will listen to me to go, and even helping some of my friends plan their trips.
While it took me 25 years to start to like LA, it honestly took me 3 days to fall in love with Mexico City. Though I’ve always wanted to go, what prompted this specific trip was our trip to Havana, Cuba. Despite some loosening of the travel embargo between the US and Cuba, flights out of the US to Cuba are very infrequent and non existent on the West Coast. Instead of fly from LA to NY or Miami and then to Havana, I decided why not book the whole thing a la carte (and way more confusing and complicated because, obviously) and fly LAX to Mexico City, then Mexico City to Havana, Havana to Mexico City, and Mexico City to LAX. Two separate round trip flights that I had to match the times up juuuuust that perfectly. Did I pull it off? Yes. Would I suggest it to everyone, eh, it depends how much you love organizing trips. Average price of a roundtrip flight LA to Mexico City ~$300. And of course- my Cuba blog is coming soon.
I wanted to stay longer, but as Drew put it, Mexico City isn’t going anywhere (give or take) while Havana is changing so fast that by the next time we go, we may have to deal with Carnival cruisers or McDonalds. So because of that, we spent only 3 days in Mexico City. Mostly eating… and exploring… and eating.
I know I’ve said this before, my Paris and Tokyo have always been my dream cities to travel to. I honestly don’t even remember where the fascination began, before age 5 definitely, and it’s stuck. I had a trip in the works senior year of highschool to Japan, but things fell through and since then, I’ve been dying to go.
After visiting Hong Kong, Drew and I hopped on a flight to Tokyo for five days of eating, shopping, and exploring (read: getting lost and not that mad about it.) I think I can safely say Tokyo is my favorite place I’ve ever traveled to, and I cannot wait to go back.
Below are some tips and tricks I picked up if you’re planning to go, or just like planning fake vacations in your imagination like I do.
Sam moved to Hong Kong for a FIT program was ultimately motivated me to take this Asia trip. Drew and I flew to Hong Kong to visit him, and our friend Kathy, who I met in NY, but is currently living in London, made the trek too.
We ate, went to the tallest bar in the world, gambled in Macau, hiked to The Peak to see the Hong Kong skyline, rode around in double decker busses, and got insanely lost going to the beach. Click read more for more photos and details!
I’ve found myself always chiming into conversations online, and in person, about where to go to eat in NY. I lived in Brooklyn so I have a few suggestions there, as well as in Lower Manhattan.
Writing this I realized I tend to like places that have lines. Maybe this means I’m boring and trendy, or NY made me tolerate a lot of B.S. like horrible weather, expensive rent, and waits longer than the actual meal, but take it or leave it. Trust me, they’re worth it. And anyone who spends their time waiting for a restaurant being bored and not exploring or drinking next door isn’t doing it right.
Tijuana, like Vegas, is one of those places I somehow had not been to despite being a Southern California native. Though now I’m hooked, I’m glad I didn’t go in my party days and saved it for now. Valentines day weekend also happened to land on a three day weekend, so my savvy self rented out my apartment on Air B&B, (If you haven’t used it, its amazing for both renting places or renting your own place- get $25 off your first time )
OK so back to it- Tijuana is a 2.5-3 hour drive South of LA, so Drew (and I- I actually got my drivers permit and helped!) headed down there early Saturday morning and came back midday Monday. To quote Drew who I overheard saying this as I swooned “we came here for the food.” The motto.
As some of you know, before living in New York, I lived in San Francisco. This is the city where I got into eating out, learned about brunch, gained 72 pounds (not really but it sure felt like it) and it was possibly my favorite place I’ve ever lived. After moving off my college campus, I lived in the Castro/Duboce Park area and the Mission District, so most of these are around there, in my opinion the most fun areas and usually the sunniest. I was pretty broke during most of my time here, but I definitely splurged on bottomless mimosas and delivery food.
I went to SF last weekend for work and stayed through the weekend trying to pack in every one of my favorite meals (andddd see my friends I guess.) I’m still bloated but already miss it. Below was my go-to list of San Francisco food I couldn’t not snack on while in the Bay. Of course- being able to expense some of it didn’t hurt, and you guys know a work trip is my favorite excuse to squeeze in some excessive meals, but these are all reasonably priced. I got you.
Palm Springs has been a favorite of mine ever since I went as a kid. I had been with my family then and for Coachella, not exactly the vibe I was going for this weekend. During MLK weekend, Drew and I had Monday off, so we did the quick (2 hour) drive to Palm Springs from LA to relax and thrive.
Using my absolute favorite app, Hotel Tonite, I scored us a room at the Ingleside Inn. I ALMOST chose the Ace or Sagauro, which are both really awesome and beautiful, but I decided to go for something a little more old school. The fact that Frank Sinatra had one of his many weddings here sealed the deal, and the on site bougie glamorous restaurant was the perfect setting for Drew to display his new ‘country club dad’ chic style.
BTW- Palm Springs is a California desert city that was the go-to weekend getaway to the stars back in the day. It has amazing mid-century architecture, like even the Chase Bank and KFC were atomic modern designs. Also, it’s a gay haven and amazing for vintage shopping and thrifting.
Hotel Tonite is a discount hotel app for the night of, or up to a week in advance (a new feature.) Something that I think makes them different than Expedia or any other site, is the curation of the hotels and the amazing interface. None of the hotels are bad, they are categorized well, have reviews, and nice images. Most of all- if you’re referred, you get $25 off. I’m trying to stack up the codes so I can get an almost free room. But this Palm Springs hotel was only $100 after the $25 off which was honestly more than worth it. (Use my code: LABASCAL for $25 off and then tell me about your adventure!)
Ok done with the shameless promo, here is what to eat, where to get a cheap martini, furniture shopping, and more in Palm Springs.
Arguably the biggest flex I have ever done was surprising Drew for his 25th birthday with a plane ticket to a mysterious secret location. His birthday is in April and the trip wasn’t scheduled until Thanksgiving / November, which gave me a lot of time to make it as perfect as possible. Pro tip: plan a vacation around a holiday so you can combine your days off work with your vacation days to take as few official days off as possible. This made my 5 night long trip only require 3 days off. If you’ve noticed, I try to travel every change I get, so little ways to cheat the system make it all possible.
I decided on Cartagena while I was up late on night in my hostel in Istanbul, where I had traveled alone. I had taken Drew’s suggestion of somewhere warm and Spanish speaking and done some sort of random research that led me to the Caribbean seafront ancient city of Cartagena. From there, I was on a project that was almost as fun as the trip- planning a secret trip that would be our longest and furthest trip we’ve taken together.
Cartagena was amazing because it felt untouched by American tourism. No one immediately spoke to us in English, there were few, if any, cheesy chain restaurants, there was no excessive tourist activities like banana boats or those water hoverboards, it just felt like a classic beautiful place for people to relax and enjoy the culture. I know I wouldn’t have found that off some Groupon to Puerto Rico which would have been easier and probably cheaper. This was definitely memorable- and comes highly recommended by me.
So I know I said this before, but sorry for lagging. Mostly apologizing to myself because it really does throw me off. I’m in LA bored at my Grandma’s house planning a hypothetical trip to Asia- which is how I always get started planning my real trips, and I still have two REAL trips to catch up blogging on.
After I went to Amsterdam for a work trip, I wanted to make the most of my time in Europe, so I got the OK to extend my trip through the weekend. Because who on earth would fly back from Europe on a Friday when your work could pay for you to fly back on a Friday (and I saved them $300! This trip was a FAVOR practically.)
When I was deciding where in Europe I wanted to go, my main deciding factors where, where would be the same or cheaper than flying back from Amsterdam for convincing my work, somewhere I had friends or friends could meet me, and ideally somewhere I hadn’t been since I seem to think the world is a giant bingo game. I landed on Dublin because I wanted to visit the fabulous Aimee, my friend who I went to Barcelona with last February. Aimee was a great choice because she is the PLUG for food in Dublin and an overall great time.
You know those tourist things you see in your hometown and figure are a waste of money and you just skip. I definitely do. I lived in SF for 4 years and never went to Alcatraz. Lived in NY for over 2 and never went to the Empire State Building. Well me going to Dublin was Aimee’s excuse to go on the Viking Splash Tour. Long story short, its a tour bus that is an amphibian and goes into the water, that is probably targeted at families or bros and encourages you to make weird “viking” growl noises and requires you to wear a horn hat as you can see above. There are a lot of U2 jokes that didn’t really do it for me and we scared a lot of people walking alongside the bus by growling. 10/10.
Better late than never, I guess. This is not a humble brag but I honestly have been all over the place and busy, but I wanted to relive my time spent in Amsterdam in mid-October. I was sent to Amsterdam for work to oversee and execute an event we were throwing with an artist who is based there. I’ve been one before on my first Euro trip and I loved it. I went exactly 11 months prior so I’ve only seen the Fall, but it’s beautiful and charming.
My coworker and I stayed in an Air B&B on Ijburg, which is a sort of suburban Island connected to the city center with a bridge. This was really convenient for the event we were throwing because it was walking distance, but it was not exactly the hippest part of town, but the place was a steal.