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January 5th, 2015
The typical Christmas tradition with my family involves church, presents, and lots of food – all from the comfort of our home in Cleveland, Ohio. But, this year, we decided to throw the book at tradition and do Christmas and travel to Orlando, FL instead.
Christmas tree vs Palm tree
In Cleveland, Ohio, Christmas trees are found everywhere; in homes, restaurants and outside buildings. All decorated with ornaments, lights, and hopefully presents can be found underneath. In Florida, palm trees decorate the streets and homes. Granted these are up all year round, I found it strange seeing them in December.
Snow vs Sand
Friends of mine were texting me that they were shoveling 5 inches of snow on Christmas day. Meanwhile my family and I were battling sun burns and how to build a 5 inch sand castle!
Santa vs Kermit
That’s pretty bold to say – I should note Santa hasn’t visit us in years. And I’m sure Santa can still visit even if you’re on vacation for the Holidays. However, with the recent Muppet Movies out it’s a great time to be green. I got to see Kermit’s autograph in Universal Studios in Orlando, FL.
May your days be merry and bright and may your Christmases by white. (or sunny because there’s nothing wrong with a sun shining Christmas
January 2nd, 2015
Whether this appeals to frequent flyers or first time airplane travelers, airplanes are indeed the best way to get from place to place (that is within at least a 200 mile radius or you would spend more time in the airport than actually in the air!). I am now embarking on my Christmas break vacation all the way back to China, stopping for two hours in Tokyo Japan. During the journey, I am a big picture fanatic— I take about 100 photos of just the airplane ride itself! However, this one photo above can be interpreted in a variety of ways. The beauty of the mountains reveal a great deal about Earth’s natural wonders and outstanding capabilities, whether it is from the sky above or at the ground below! Also, the complexity of the sky is enthralling in that there is a conspicuous “line” between the clouds and blue sky, making the site feel like a peaceful escape into fantasy! Even if you hate long distance flights, make sure to find some happiness when you gaze out into the far distance and find peace and tranquility with the environment above and below!
January 2nd, 2015
Over the holidays, my family decided to go to Las Vegas! We were there for only 3 days and had to stay an extra day just because of car trouble but it all turned out okay. Anyways, in case you didn’t know, I have a baby brother who is 2 years old and you would think Vegas is definitely not a place for kids…
There are lots of things to do besides go clubbing and gambling (as usually expected from Vegas).
Our family went out sightseeing, visiting all of the hotels, eating at delicious places, riding roller coasters, and watching water dance through the night.
The Golden Nugget was our home for those 3 days. It was very nice, the staff was very kind, and the pool was amazing! It was heated to about 85 degrees which was great since it was 40 degrees outside. My sister and I wanted to try out their slide that goes through the shark tank. It’s awesome! We were freezing afterwards but the experience was worth it!
This hotel isn’t located on the Strip (which is the most famous part of Las Vegas), its located in Downtown Las Vegas. The hotel is on Fremont Street which is the beginning part of the Fremont Street Experience.
This block has everything from zip lining above the crowds, amazing restaurants, and some cool shows. The picture above shows how everything lights up. AND I MEAN EVERYTHING!
There was even a huge screen that stretched about a whole block that would have clips of little shows. They were really cool. In the picture above you can kind of see Minnie Mouse. There were a lot of characters like Dora, Olaf, Mickey Mouse, and the minions throughout the street. You could take pictures with them and tip them. Of course, they didn’t look the way they do in Disneyland, their faces were kind of weird, but they would interact with the people passing by.
One of the restaurants they had here was this one:
The Heart Attack Grill has the burger with the most calories in the world, adding up to about 10,000 calories! They actually having a scale so you could weigh yourself before you eat the burger and afterwards. They also make the people that eat there wear hospital gowns while you eat. The whole restaurant is set up like a hospital and the waitresses are nurses. The sign in the picture says over 350 lbs eats free. This restaurant is crazy! We didn’t enter the restaurant but seeing it from the outside was enough for us.
I loved how our hotel was right outside the Fremont Street Experience. Since we didn’t have a car because it stopped working, we were able to tour around and do everything right outside our hotel. There were so many other things we could have done. It’s impossible to do it all in one trip!
December 17th, 2014
With today’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies‘ nationwide release, I can’t help but reminisce about my time visiting New Zealand’s North Island. It was in a time period between the productions of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies; to this day, I am still in awe of my memories. Was I really there? Did I really see the landscape I saw, and go on a super nerdy but absolutely fantastic “Lord of the Rings” tour in and around the capital city of Wellington? Yes I did, and I cannot wait to return to visit even more locations in the near future.
The country was made famous Peter Jackson’s splashy and engrossing epic films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s most famous high fantasy works, but this island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean is worth visiting in its own right. The flora and landscapes are beautifully captured on film and in photographs, but nothing matches actually being there to see and experience it all for yourself. I was unable to visit New Zealand’s South Island, which has even wilder and more fairy tale-like scenery, so I am eager to go back and visit both islands the next time. I still remember the train ride my sister and I took from Wellington to Auckland on North Island, which was fantastic because we saw one breathtaking vista after another. I would definitely recommend all prospective visitors to travel north to south or south to north by car, train, or bus, if possible. I dare even the most jaded travelers not to have their minds blown by New Zealand’s dramatic natural beauty.
When I was in Wellington, I was lucky enough to stay at the Booklovers B&B, which is located in the downtown area and next to some forest land that was used as background in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The inn has comfortable and cozy rooms, and there are books everywhere. As a self-proclaimed booklover myself, I loved the whole experience. The knowledgeable owner is available to share local information on literary, artistic, and social events and institutions with guests, and the breakfasts are delicious. When I return to Wellington, I will definitely stay there again.
I don’t think worldwide fascination with New Zealand’s spectacular vistas and charming towns and cities will fade now that The Hobbit Trilogy is complete and that no more Tolkien classics will be turned into live action films. This island country should be on everyone’s travel bucket list, and it is one place I want to see and experience again. I hope that New Zealanders will preserve their national and cultural integrity and maintain their strong sense of Kiwi hospitality, as their tourism industry continues its upswing. Having experienced and witnessed it all for myself, I know they are more than able to balance all of these sentiments for years to come.
December 16th, 2014
Now, I know we’re about to hit the peak of winter, but the summer needs some planning ahead, especially for a family trip. So West Michigan isn’t that wild of an idea for a family trip, right? At least consider these things when summer plans begin forming in your household.
1) One of the best ice cream places I have been to, and definitely on the top-top of the list of Michigan (Moomers in Traverse City is its one competition), is Jersey Junction in East Grand Rapids. It is a place with a rich history, well-loved by folks from the Grand Rapids area, and charming for the rest of us who encounter it. This ice cream parlor has been here for quite awhile, and stories from their past cover their walls. One of the stores original gas lights still sits outside the store. They are one of few places in the area that are still serving old fashioned sodas and they also serve Michigan’s Hudsonville Ice Cream (including Blue Moon, my favorite). And the waffle cones are fresh and made in house.
2) Grand Haven, Michigan is a beach town. For those who live on the coast, a Midwestern city being called a beach town may very well sound ridiculous, but once you’ve experienced Lake Michigan, you’ll understand. The lake is beautiful with its beautiful waters and small waves. In the summer, this town is crowded with visitors and activities. Plus, this town is a foodie town, with known restaurants like Snug Harbor, Morning Star Cafe, Grand Haven Islands, and plenty of others.
3) Holland, Michigan is another beach town, originally settled by Dutch Calvinists. Now, that may not be terribly interesting (and for the few that find that interesting, I recommend Holland’s annual “Tulip Festival” in May), but some of things those settlers left behind are beautiful, such as the historical De Zwaan windmill, first erected in 1761. Holland is also littered with summer cottages and tourists, but the town maintains its small town feel in the craze that sets in when things get warm. A popular event towards the very end of summer is the Tulipanes Latino Art and Film Festival.
4) Festival of the Arts is the largest outdoor festival in Grand Rapids, has been going on for 45 years, and has more than 20,000 volunteers helping out with this free event. Free concerts, amazing food booths, and dancers all over the place, this festival is a great way to kick off your summer with the family, from June 6th to the 8th.
5) Eastown Bizarre Bazaar draws all the quirky and wild vendors of Michigan for an amazing artist market. Local artists and local food, what could be better? The music is also awesome. Yes, some of it is a bit odd, but for the most part, you will be blown away. GR’s favorite bazaar has consistently attracted over 5,000 people for an almost all-day event. Thankfully, admission is free.