Beach hopping & Bike sharing :

Coastal Living Stories: 

Drab and lazy is usually how my mornings start. I am by no means a morning person and if said morning is to visit the doctor… well whatever motivation I have shrinks.

However, today my post blood work plans included bagels and coffee on the posh, sandy Manhattan Beach shores.

I took my medium sized coffee I bought at Manhattan Beach Bread & Bagel and walked without rush or care along the warm sands. The ocean always soothes and calms me. 

Want a secret confession? That was my last cup of coffee for a while, doctors orders.

Oh the sadnesses of getting older 

After Watching the waves became a tiresome ordeal I headed back home to ride a bike along the Long Beach harbor. 

I had been meaning to go bike riding for the last two years. Talk about procrastination!

So today finally, I rented a bike from Long Beach Bike share & rode down to the Queen Mary and up to Los Alamitos Beach.

The booking process online was a little confusing because I didn’t know if my booking was working or not but the picking up process was super easy. The price of $7 for an hour, $15 a month is very reasonable. I did exactly 55minutes brought it back and all was fantastic. The bike was easy, in good condition and had a charming basket in the front. 

I can’t believe I waited that long for something so easy and fun. I will probably rent it out again or buy the monthly pass. 

The views along the bike trails were spectacular and the wind in my face was divine.

Lessons in living the life you want? : 

~ Do things as you want them, as your feel them, as you dream them. If you don’t you might realize you wasted two years without riding a bike 😉 


Monday in Paradise: 

Creating a life you don’t need a vacation from.

The world likes to tell us there is a purspose to our lives. Some unknown destiny we must fullfill that somehow looms ahead of us since the moment we are born. In stories, in advertising, in religion it makes it seem that our lives serve as something, some higher purspose we are unaware of at the time of its happening. It makes it seem that whatever we are doing be it working for a high profile corporate, for a non-profit or if we are self-employed we are bound to make a difference in someone else’s life, an in turn that someone will make a difference too.  It tries to tell us that no matter if we love our work,  if we ended up being doctors and lawyers to follow a family path, if we are actors, restaurant owners, or simple parking lot attendants there is meaning to everymorning. That we should be content to be alive, to get up every morning, brush out teeth, comb our hair and make breakfast. That the one person whose life we change will be the next Mother Teresa, the next MLK, the next John Paul II.

I’m not sure if this theory is certain.  What I do know is that my truth is different from your truth, that Catholics will tell me Christ is the truth and Buddhists will tell me I am the truth.  That all the while we are lost in a sea of labels and expectations, millennial, feminists, women, minorities, priviledged, liberal, socialist right, socialist left. We are left trying to understand what they mean and pretending to know where we stand.

All the while trying to figure out how to live that perfectly poised, filtered instagramed life. Here too there is so grander motive that should drive us, the need to live to the fullest and find our tribe or whatever it is that is being said now. It is as the New York time has put it an ‘obsession with wealth’. But how do we really create that life we don’t need a vacation from? Is it truly different from our parent’s generation and why won’t anyone tell us once and for all what is the right path. It is estimated that more than 40% of professionals are now freelance, we see it everyone splashed across Facebook and Google ‘free yourself for the 9-5″. But did our parents really have it that wrong?

Is the only way to be free and happy, to travel and blog? I don’t think so, but it sure has been a succesful lure. I think the world again has fronted us with an image of what should be, a prototype and we have flocked to believe it, just like we believe our lives have a grand meaning, and just how we believe in gender roles.

I think that living a life we don’t want to run away form has more to do with appreciating every moment, every accomplishment, realizing we all have a role to fulfill in society, being thankful for everything we have and never ceasing to learn. How can I be so certain? Because  I look at my grandfather who created a wonderful life and wonderful family by opening pharmacies. They weren’t his plan, he didn’t set a five year plan, he simply did it. I look at my mother who hasnt’ traveled the globe over and is perhaps happier than I am. I look coworkers, and colleagues, and old friends and they are living the life they were given without a photoshop filter.

I don’t assume to know for certain what I want to do with my life. There are days when I want to live by the ocean, create art in long, flows silk dresses and drink wine on the veranda and there are days when I want to dress up in a Versace black suit and conquer the board room, but most days I want to simply live. I have learned that I love the life I live, with it’s flaws and faults. I want to plan a vacation because it’s exciting, I want to have bad days at work because they build character, I want to break down and cry because it remind me what is important. I want to feel afraid to step out of my comfort zone and be challenged,  I want to hate my job because I will value all the achievement even more. I want to love my days off, and my time with friends and I want to also love what I do because it sets up future goals. I want to change my mind, I want it all. That is what creating a good life is all about, creating a life of challenges you overcame.

I don’t understand our obsession with going against ‘traditional job’s because the world is ever changing, the markets are shrinking, people are loosing jobs to machines, and the world is becoming a less friendly place. I don’t think that is the destiny we were meant to fullfill, do you?

I live the life I want already, because if I didn’t, if I want living to create a wonderful future I would be missing the present. Don’t you agree? Don’t believe you have to work on the beach, or in pajamas because you don’t. Wheather you believe in a higher purpose or a simple life, everyday millions of people are working as nurses, lawyers, business women, board members, hotel managers, pilots, crew captains, architects, writes and they are living the life they dont’ need a vacation from. They are certainly planning one, though because planing one, well that is the fun part!

The Case for a Queen : Exploring the RMS Queen Mary

You can almost see the crows as they waved nostalgic goodbyes to their beloved. You can almost taste the sea salt in the cold, crisp air. You can feel the exciment as the beautiful new ocean liner pulled away from safe harbor. It drips with history, in every step you take on it’s wooden boards, in every photograph of Hollywood legends and every display of war time heroism. The RMS Queen Mary now lives in the eastern corner of the Long Beach Marina in the place furthers from what it could have imagined, in the sunny shores of California. There it has docked for many years, long before I knew of it’s existence, before I was even born. Many would say it’s outdated for our modern times; yet, it’s allure is eternal, and the history it carries of better times is far greater than any we can forge now.

The truth is I’ve been aboard the magnificent vessel quite a few times, some for sightseeing, some for field trips, for food or drinks but last week with nothing to do on a gorgeous Spring day I drove down the whole 5 minutes it takes from my house to the ship and decided to be a tourist for one day. 

The attendant at the booth said that we could choose a complimentary tour, either the classic history one or the ghost one. I often for the history one because even though we can read every specification of how and when it was built nothing beats walking the cabins where generations before me had walked, where the Duke and Duchess of Windsor traveled to New York, and where Winston Churchill in turbulent times would drink his troubles away. 

The tour took us through ballrooms, and cabin rooms, and told us about life aboard the Queen Mary.  The guide a chipper and threatically inclined fellow made the one hour of walking seem shorter and we ended on the deck just below the beautiful shops.

After resting for a few moments on the comfortable chairs, we toured the three main souvenier shops. One boasts mainly food, tea and British related gourmets. The second one is clothing and gifts and the final one if full of items you could take home from your trip to California, teddy bears, mouse pads, cups, glasses, flasks and adorable captain caps.

After wandering and not really buying more than cookies, because we had already and somehow inexplicably bought the whole photo package from the photo op room. (Oops) We wandered out onto the outside deck for coffe and fresh air.  Much to the envy of past generations they now server Starbucks coffee inside and we sat down to rest some more. 

Yet there is much to do aboard the Queen Mary, no one ever rests for long here, or so the ghosts say. The ghost myths come from its service during WWII when the British government called for it to stop being a civilian cruise liner and drafted it into service. It was painted grey, earning it the nickname the Grey Ghost, and it transported hundreds of soldier during the war years. 

Perhaps those years changed it, just like they changed the world. A person is never the same after fighting battle, why do we expect things to not be affected? On the outside the beautiful lady of the seas was painted and restored to it’s pre-war glory.  And it carried on transporting the luminaries of politics, music and arts. From the workers who steered the ship 

To the staff who prided themselves in knowing the likes and dislikes of the passengers, to the Captain who carried the ship through troubled and calm waters alike the staff lived to serve. It’s almost magical imagining what life aboard a luxury liner would have been. It’s like a time capsule of better times, when everyone dressed up for dinner, cocktails included champagne and men would escort the ladies on walks around the observation deck.

Sure today we have sophisticated cruise ships, with dinning venues, wifi in every room, childrens camp, water slides and mobile apps but back then the calm of the water was all you had, a good book and the company of your fellow travelers.

And nothing but sea stretching out for days until the shore peaked through and you knew the journey had ended.

Doesn’t it sound quite fascinating? I think it does. 

Perhaps that’s why I was truly sad and when I read an article about the financial struggles to cover all the repairs. What made me sadder was the comments of people saying that it had lived it’s years, that it should not be rescued, that after all this years we should just throw it out because it wasn’t popular anymore. As if all the history contained in it was not part of our history too, perhaps people don’t appreciate culture enough, perhaps they can’t comprehend the rate at which our world is vanishing. I don’t just meant physically, I mean all of it; history, traditions, cultures, families.

That day, last week pretending to be a tourist sacheying across the deck of this worldly lady, looking out onto the beautiful shoreline was one of the best spent days I’ve had lately.  This boat has crossed oceans, bridged distances and saved the world in a way and we have the privilege of being for a few hours passengers of it.

Go visit the Queen Mary … It’s cause for celebration

Population 70,000 : visiting Buena Park

It was vastly different from the hustle of the city, the constant traffic that droned out conversation, the smog clouds that vanished into asymmetrical skyscrapers and the people, oh so many people. The little unassuming city of Buena Park, California was vastly different from my hometown and even though I didn’t know it back then it was perfect to grow up in. When we moved there 23 years ago the population was 70,000.

The cars are few and far apart ~

It was beaufituly peaceful in a ways we weren’t used to. The stores all closed before 10, and the silence perpetuated our nights. Our biggest claim to fame was Knotts Berry Farm, a western themed amusement park with Snoopy and Charlie Brown to boot. My favorite activity was to walk around the outside stores during Christmas time. The mall was a barely noticible hub of staple American stores and food court basics but we went every Sunday nonetheless.

Decorations at Knott’s

Up toward the hills the houses sprawled like miniature mansions and the silence during a morning walk becomes eerie, as I grew up I used to run there every morning and every evening. After rush hour the passing of cars is still far and few except for those leaving the food store that now sits hilltop.

During the summer mother would let me run down the long sidewalks of our suburbia utopia as the sprinklers bloomed in all their glory before California had a drought and when global warming was just being born. Every generation thinks that they are last good one, but in our case I think it rings true. The last to see non hipster mom and pop stores, that belonged to long time residents, to get to know them, and treat them like family. The couple who used to own the dry cleaning behind our apartments had lived there for over 50 years. They used to play jokes on me and I’d ask about their daughter who lived in Oregon. I used to go to school with the son of the guy who owned the grocery store and my favorite store to go back to school shopping was ‘Teacher’s Supply’ nestled right at the exit of the freeway and owned by locals too.

Beauty at Medival Times

Nowadays Buena Park is still that peaceful city I grew to love, although it has kept up with the times and the competition. There is now big modern building a few blocks from Knotts Berry Farm and a big electric guitar sculpture purtrudes from the new ‘Rockign Brew Restaurant’. It has plans, big plans to draw investors and become a destination.

I haven’t been to Rocking Brews because I got distracted by the library that still looks the same as it did when I used to go everyday after school, it has a tiny bookstore of used books run by volunteers that makes you think of grander times as you browse letters and pictures bound in pages that are used less and less.

If you get tires of the ritz and glitz of featured Orange County tourism come to Buena Park.  It will give you a feel of what Southern California really is, go to the historic sites along Beach Boulevard, visit the library during tea time,  walk down Knotts Berry Farm and up to the upcoming Butterfly Pavillion. It is worth a day visit, just as much as it was worth growing up in it.

Little Town Dreams ~ 

I’m a big city girl. I always have been. From the 20 million people in Mexico City to the streets of LA. I love them, the many places to eat, the shows, the hustle, the bustle the energy. Yet, I’d trade them in a heartbeat for small town calm, for charming, for mom and pop, for no traffic. And no place enbodies a more picture perfect small town than Solvang, California.

 Hiding away in the slopping hills of central California it is part secret tourist attraction and wine town. 

Solvang gets its roots from a Dutch community that settled there in the early 1900’s . It is filled with bakeries, Danish restaurants and little stores. There is a bookstore with a complete story on Hans Christian Andersen and a replica of the Little Mermaid statue. 

It has an all Christmas store open year-round and the walk down town is littered with small boutique food & art shops.

Doesn’t it sound dreamy? 

It is smack dab in the middle of the Santa Ynez Valley which is a major wine area, so if you feel like wine tasting … go right ahead. There are tours offered that depart from Solvang or you could plan your own, it is also a very short drive to the Santa Ynez mission, a historical site of Californian history as well as an Ostrich farm if feeding birds is more your thing.

Solvang is only about a 4 hours drive from Los Angels or for a more relaxing trip take Amtrak to Santa Barbara and then the connecting bus that drops you off right in the center of town. 

Many happy returns here !

Finding Neverland in Fairytale Steveston, Canada. 

It was cold and it was windy when I walked down the harbor, but I wrapped my cashmere coat and braved the temperature in favor of a photo op at the harbor where Captain Hook ties his famous Jolly Roger in the ABC fantasy show Once Upon a Time. 

What would Regina do?

It was a momentary decision made while I was at work in the office. I had just begun watching Once Upon a Time a few weeks before and was now in the second or third season. I had fallen in love with the in depth fairy tales, with the character archs and the multifaceted Evil Queen who seeked redemption in the name of her son and in search of the eternal happy ending.

The docks

It was because of the show combined with my insatiable wanderlust that I decided on a whim that it was time to go visit our Northen and very friendly Neighboor Canada. I set out to Vancouver in April, an admirable feat for a Californian who is used to 80 degree weather. Upon landing in the rainy tarmac I discovered that the high  was 48 … good thing I brought gloves! 

Cold aside, my trip to Canada was fantastic in many more ways than I imagined. Not only did I tour the sleepy town of Steveston which poses as Storybrooke, Massachusetts in the TV show but I discovered a beautiful seaside community, with vast history and culture. I spent the whole day there, snapping selfies in all the store fronts that are staples of the show. Mr. Golds pawn shop that is actually a gift store and Granny’s Dinner that was actually closed, I went to see the library which has no tower in real life, and the little mail post which is also the Tourist information site. As I walked out to the cannery I discovered the clear blue water looking out toward the wild forest on the other side, and the snow covered mountains in the far background. It was beautiful indeed and I wanted as I often do with every place I visit to stay there forever. 

Granny’s Dinner

Steveston also had history of being a refugee community for Japanese during WWII and after. There are little cottages, resting on wooden pegs, standing avobe the water that serve as museums for those early days. The pier with its fish and chips and souvenier shops also caught my heart and I bought a heavy woolen scarf that ended up on my mothers closet.
When the town ran out of places to walk and photos to take, I drove back to my hotel in Vancouver and there I did some exploring of my own. I had perhaps one of the best dinners of my life at L’atelier in their Gaslamp district. The distinctive French food with local ingredients was superb, the taste of the first dish tortellini with cream sauce made me close my eyes in delight and the craft cocktails of an award winning bartender made that a memorable night for sure. 

The memories were endless and the time to explore too short indeed. Visiting the Capelliano suspension bridge was another fantastic highlight of the trip. The forest surrounding you in the middle of the city, the bridge, the treetop adventures, and the skywalk all with the dense, crisp air of the Canadian rain forest was an experience to come back to. And shooting pictures of downtown Vancouver with its high rises and old churches was a favorite pastime. 

In the end I had come to visit the filming sight of a fairytale show but I had found magic beyond it’s characters. I had found history of war and inclusion, I had found art and food and breathtaking forests, I could say I had found Neverland. 

Finding Neverland

If I let us down, will you forgive me?

I know it has been a while since I posted. I could say that I’ve had too much work, or that family has needed my attention, I could say I was just too busy; but the truth is I just didn’t have anything to say.

I am aware that this is my attempt at a travel blog and that I have taken various trips last year which I did not blog about. I will at some point this year, but mostly when I blog it’s about a bigger meaning than just the place I went to or what airline I took. I want to write about what that place meant, why I fell in love with it, why I dream of going back. 

And honestly most of last year and the beginning of this one was about trying to discover who I am, and the part of me that has been left forgotten or dormant to go do what is expected of us as career women, as part of society. I forgot in the process a lot of the things that were important to me when I was 10 or 15 or 18. I forgot all those starry eyed dreams and causes I used to fight. I forgot why I was vegetarian for so many years, I forgot my love of art, my political involvement, I forgot how badly I wanted to do non-profit work. In essence I forgot who I was. I left it all for things that I though made sense and were more pragmatic. 

Turning 30 wasn’t life changing, not in a visible way. It was a time to think about what I had accomplished and where I wanted to be for the next 30 years. It certainly wasn’t what everyone would think. It also wasn’t what that strong minded teenage me would think, not anymore. But it is time to meet at a halfway point, to repourpose my life if you will.

This is a perfect time to do just that. There is so much at stake in our generation, in our country, in our world.

There is so many of us trying to ignore in an attempt to pretend it’s not happening but remember the words of M.L.K ~

“In the end it is not the words of our enemies we will remember, but the silence of our friends.”

In the next days or weeks ( no concrete promises) I will do more posts on travel, photography and well just life. But for now I leave you with this poem I wrote while walking to the grocery store tonight, that sums up pretty much how I’ve felt lately.

Will you forgive if I let us down?

It was so hard pretending to grow up

I didn’t know what to do

Will you forgive me if I give up on our dreams?

Those far fetched impossible hopes

All those sunsets chasing the sun

Young me, will you forgive?

You were a better person that I am

Youth gives us all the strength to take a chance

And now I’ve become the person we never thought we’d be

Will you forgive me?

If I settle for peace?

If I don’t pursue our dreams?

If I let the visions of the future you had imagined go?

Will you forgive me if I let us down?

The world is such an awful place

More than we would have imagined back then

And I’ve somehow let go of all the all the things that drove me

All the causes we were going to change

All the passion boiling in our veins

All the battles we would fight and win

I got lost and lost them too

Will you forgive me, if I fail to achieve all the success ?

If I ddon’t save the forest or launch a fashion line?

And if we never live in Paris, will you forgive me?

Can we be okay?

I promise to reconcile all that’s possible

To start again and start anew and do the best I can

It was so hard learning to navigate the waters all on my own

And all your flailing innocence and naïveté left me

When I needed it the most

But we’re alive,

And we survived

And for the longest time I forgot who I was

Younger me, I know that you still yearn for all those things

Will you forgive me?

If we don’t achieve them all?

I promise to salvage all the other shattered dreams