Today would have been Chris’s 40th Birthday. I would have thrown him a huge birthday party with all his friends (assuming post quarantine). We would otherwise be staying home and adhering to lock down since both of us would be high risk (cancer).
I connected with a lot of our mutual friends and I was happy to receive pictures of friends from all over toasting to Chris’s Birthday. I’m so grateful to have friends who are so supportive and always available.
Happy Birthday, Angel! I miss you!
My birthday was back in April. I did not expect to have anything eventful to really share, but I actually did. In these days of quarantine, whenever I visit my parents, I am always in the back yard and spaced out from my mom & dad. My brother and his wife do the same, we are all apart from each other, but still able to spend time together.
The last time I had gone to a grocery store was March 15th. I went again April 24th and found ground turkey. So I decided to make Chris's grandmother's turkey meatball recipe. My immediate family was gathering at my parents' house so I decided to cook for them. This one of the trays of meatballs ready to be cooked.
I was honestly not expecting any gifts. I was surprised to receive so many that were incredibly touching.
I also received several texts and phone calls from friends and extended family. So grateful to everyone for making my quarantine birthday memorable. Thank you all!
Today, Chris and I would have been married for 6 years. Sometimes I wonder what kind of life we would have had if he were still alive. I have no regrets, and am so grateful for the love we shared. We always said we wished everyone could love each other just as we did.
I decided to make a carrot cake to celebrate our anniversary. He really liked carrot cake; sadly I only made it once for him. It's very labor intensive and the last time I made it was 2015. He did not like sharing when it came to things that were made especially for him. He cracked me up. Certain things I cooked he was okay sharing, but I do remember - this wasn't one of them :-) I found the recipe in my binder but I wasn't sure if it was the same recipe I used before. Once I made it and tasted it, I realized it was the correct one. So glad I kept it all this time.
Wherever he is in the heavenly realm, I know he's happy and watching over me. Thanks to my friends & family that I connected with - you helped me more than you know!
Happy Anniversary, Angel!
Every so often in life, you get to meet people that shift you in a way you don’t expect. This happened to me while I was on my trip to Antarctica. My cabin mate Laurie was extraordinary, so I thought I’d write about her since she was a significant part of my stories during my Antarctic Voyage. I’ll also explain the “Island” part of her name. I think I might always call her Laurie Island in the future.
In order to afford the trip to Antarctica, most solo travelers opt for the cabin-share option on the boat, otherwise it’s like buying a car. The trip begins in Ushuaia where you spend one night in a hotel in the city. If you opt for the sharing option, this is where you will meet your cabin mate for the trip. I arrived to Ushuaia a day before so I had the opportunity to explore the town a bit on my own. I was already in the room so I had settled in a bit. Our trip officially began on February 14th. I had toured the National Park in the morning so I was in the room relaxing when Laurie walked in. She walked in and right away we shook hands and introduced ourselves. She shared right away about her recent travels to the Arctic and we talked about our travels of the past year. She was quite energetic and vivacious. We decided to go out and walk around the town a bit. Since I had already explored, I took the lead and we walked around and I showed her the main drag. I learned she lives in San Francisco, is retired, and loves animals! We continued to talk about travels and our lives and shared details about what we were expecting for our trip. More importantly, we talked about what brought us to this point in our lives.
This began our communication which I appreciated. Open and all out there. Right away I could tell Laurie was caring and understanding, with a big heart. She was a combination of go with the flow, with a bit of prep sprinkled in. As we got to know each other during the trip, we had a lot of good laughs and some fun talks. Sometimes staying up late just talking away until we realize it’s 1am. I think the funnest part is when we would be triggered by a single word, and then one of us would break out in song, and the other would chime in. I don’t think I’ve met another person that knows as many songs from Musicals as Laurie. We had a lot of laughs singing to our hearts content. We agreed not to sing publicly because we know we would completely annoy those around us.
Now the name. On the way to Antarctica we stopped by the Orkney Islands. I don’t believe this was a planned stop, it was done on the fly and it was to break up three days at sea. One of the Islands was called Laurie Island. Laurie was beyond excited to have an Island named after her. We were going to stop at the Orcadas Station which had Argentinian military and scientists stationed there for 1 year.
So this is how Laurie became Laurie Island. I am happy to have met such a happy and positive person on the trip. It made it that much more meaningful.
Here are pictures of Laurie Island; until we meet again!
Per my previous post, I know I’m supposed to go into detail of my Antarctica trip, but I’m taking a bit to write about Buenos Aires while I’m still here.
I had a nice day, sleeping in and enjoying the air conditioning. It’s summer and about 90 degrees. I got ready for the day and took a taxi to the Palermo district of the city. I intended to go to a restaurant that ended up being permanently closed. The taxi driver said I should walk a block south to another restaurant called, La Cabrera. Turns out it’s in the top 50 best restaurants of Latin America! Score!! On the taxi ride, I couldn’t help but remember my late husband, Chris. It was almost exactly 6 years ago that we explored Buenos Aires on our honeymoon.
I noticed the restaurant had plates in its walls of guests’ experiences, so I decided to add my own.
After lunch I walked around for a bit and came across a bookstore. I went in and I bought a book on the discovery of the Antarctic Peninsula in Spanish for my dad. It was crazy hot so I decided to get a taxi and then made it back to the hotel.
I can’t believe this trip is coming to an end. In a few hours I’ll be headed back to reality and busy with every day life. I feel incredibly grateful for the amazing journey and people I met along the way. I can’t wait to see my new friends again!
I am back on land after spending almost three weeks on a boat stopping at several islands en route to my 7th continent: Antarctica. I’m in Ushuaia as of this post, landed this morning. I’ll post some pics, and will elaborate on each landing on future posts. It was an epic experience!
I had an amazing day yesterday after getting some good rest the night before. I signed up for a tour of the National Park. It was excellent since there were only 5 of us, and very personal. Our tour guide was really cool, and her name was Macarena, like the song! First we boarded a train that was resurrected in the 1990s. It went through the park and it was stunning. Greenery and beautiful mountains everywhere. Just stunning.
I returned to the city and had a great lunch, seafood! A bowl full of crab meat and shrimp covered in cheese. I even had a crepe for dessert!
I went back to my hotel room and shortly after my roommate for the Antarctica trip arrived. We immediate started sharing of the different places we’ve traveled and went out for a walk. She picked up dinner and I picked up two bottles of wine (for the boat). I dropped her at the hotel and I took a taxi to a restaurant called Kalma. It was good, not great. Service was absolutely slow! I don’t blame the servers, but maybe the kitchen was backed up?? It was taking a long time to get my food so I was a bit annoyed. Regardless I did enjoy the meal. Just not great! I walked back (downhill) to the hotel and my roommate and I continued sharing about our trips.
Today, my roommate had a tour for the morning so after she left, I packed up all my things and got them ready to go into the boat. I went down to breakfast, had a ham and cheese sandwich, then returned to my room for a final check.
I decided to walk through the town a bit, and I made it to the sign at the city entrance. I also learned that there are three flags up next to the sign: Argentinian, Peruvian, and Province. The Peruvian flag is up because during the war for the Islas Malvinas, Peru was the only country that send aid to Argentina. So they show their gratitude but putting up the Peruvian flag.
On the way back, I was walking along the coast line, then came across an Artisanal shop. I went in and bought a journal. I’m going to write daily in Spanish. I will then give this to my dad when I return.
I don’t know if I will have WiFi access on the boat... so ciao for now!
Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend celebrating love. Whether single or attached, love is a wonderful thing.
Yesterday was a travel day for me. I left Los a angeles on Feb 12th. Flew 12 hours to Buenos Aires, then transferred to another airport for a second flight. It’s like landing in LAX and driving to Burbank airport for the next leg. I then flew another 3-4 hours and landed in Ushuaia, also called, “El Fin Del Mundo” (The End Of The World). I was extremely exhausted but I rallied and walked around the town and had an amazing dinner, Parillada. Grilled meat. Yum!! I booked a tour of the National Park for today, so I’m headed out the door. It’s a beautiful town with snow capped mountains and very nice people. Here are some photos of yesterday. I ended my day with a glass of wine and some SOMM TV. Cheers!
When traveling, there has to be a level of organization in order to fit everything you need for a trip. Especially if it’s a long trip. I wanted to share some of the things that I have found over the years that have helped me in being organized as I travel around the globe. Most of the stuff can be found on Amazon actually, so it’s reasonably priced and you can get some of these the next day. I’m not advertising anything, just wanted to share what has helped me stay sane abroad! And for those that have asked, below you’ll understand how I’m able to pack for two weeks in Europe with just a carry-on!
First I want to share something new I just bought specifically for my upcoming trip to New Zealand in March! It’s a wine suitcase!!! I will be able to return with wine and not have to worry about it going in between my clothes in my regular luggage. Since I’m a light packer, I know I can fit clothes for my three week trip into one suitcase, so this will be my second suitcase. I have a list of about 15 wineries I’ll be visiting, so I’m super excited!!!
The thing I can’t live without when traveling are packing cubes. I first learned about them from my Australian friends, Cat & Kelly, while traveling through Scandinavia. Now I don’t know how I managed without them! I have two sets (pink & purple) which I have used in every single trip!
On the subject of organizing the inside my luggage, I also have an awesome toiletry bag. It fits a ton of stuff and zips up well. What I like about it is that it hangs! This is convenient when you’re in a small space (European bathrooms)! It has a mesh front so that nothing falls out when it’s hanging but you can still see everything inside. I love it! I don’t use it for make up, I only use it for toiletries. I normally don’t take make up with me when I travel aside from lipgloss.
On a long trip, I wash my clothes. In order to dry them, I use these nifty fold up hangers. Not all hotels abroad provide sufficient hangers. They come in a 10 pack.
I found an amazing “personal item” bag that fits EVERYTHING. My laptop, my iPad, Bose headphones, chords, books, wallet, etc. My laptop is pretty large so I had a hard time finding a bag that could fit it. This one does. Now, there are also tote compartment inserts that you can use for this bag but I don’t need them since in a long haul trip, I carry bulky items (blanket, headphones, etc). If I used this bag as a daily purse, then I would definitely use the organizer insert.
I mentioned a blanket. It’s a blanket-towel combo. I also use it as a pillow in airplanes. It folds up small since it Turkish cotton, soft and absorbent. You don’t know where those airline blankets have been, so I use this instead sometimes. Also as a towel when need be in hotels.
One more thing I keep in my bag are these rubber twist ties. My tech stuff stays organized and I can just throw it in my bag. Helps with all the chords and chargers I carry for my gadgets!
I haven’t traveled with my photography gear yet, so I’m excited to see how these items will hold up. This backpack holds everything (camera, 4 lenses, 7 filters, 4 batteries, camera cleaner, laptop, chords, camera harness, and tripod)! What I love the most is the side zip compartment. You can just unzip that section and pull out the camera without opening the entire backpack to access it.
This is my tripod. It expands up to 55” high and folds up in 18” with its own case.
I don’t like the over-the-shoulder camera straps so I bought a harness and I love it!! It keeps my balance and also has clips so I can pop out the camera body if I need to. It also has small pockets that hold extra batteries and memory cards. What I like best is the neoprene material that’s super soft and comfortable.
I caved and I bought a selfie stick. I found that as a solo traveler, it’s a necessity. I do my best to not be that “obnoxious tourist” that doesn’t adhere to etiquette. I try my best to be considerate of other people around me trying to get the same shot. It was relatively inexpensive, and good enough for my small iPhone.
That sums up my travel stuff. Hope it helps you plan your next trip! Can’t wait for mine!!
I have been practicing photography a lot this year. I took a camera lesson in January, and another private photography class. I upgraded my gear and bought a new DSLR during Black Friday. I’ve been going to various places around town taking photographs practicing what I’ve learned so far.
A couple of weeks ago I met up with my friend Dani in San Clemente and we had lunch. I took the opportunity to go to the pier to take some shots.
To celebrate my friends’ birthdays, I had a dinner at my house. We enjoyed food and wine. I practiced my close-up shots. It was a belated birthday for Luis, and an early birthday for Gerry.
I took my parents to the Huntington and I was their personal paparazzi.
This past weekend I went to The Huntington with my friend Caroline. We went for the Chinese New Year celebrations. It was fun to see various performances. We went to a place called El Coraloense and had an awesome lunch!!
I’m excited to continue practicing and improving my “eye” for landscape photography. Cheers!