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Family Trip to London: Part 1

This trip truly captured what it was like to travel as a family. Gazing over our 100s of pictures confirmed that. There are a lot of posed group photos in front of famous landmarks and very few choreographed, blog-worthy stills. But I kind of love that. It's us as a family; eager to see the things we have read about in fairytales and drooled over on other websites. Since we were traveling with the goal of eventually staying in Oxford with my sister-in-law, we had mother-in-law & family friend in tow. It was the smart way to go, being that it was our 3-year-old's first international trek. There were extra sets of eyes on her and we even got date nights! 

We stayed in the Paddington area, which made for an easy journey from airport to train station to our accommodations.  We stayed in some apartments I had found on Booking.com thinking that we'd use the kitchen and have more of a homey feel during our time in the city.  Honestly, we didn't use the kitchen once (English food is actually pretty great, despite what you hear) and we got stuck on the 4th floor with no lift.  Hey, at least we had a washer and dryer.   

Fortunately, we had very little rain for Springtime, but plenty of moody skies that made for especially picturesque backdrops. The first part of our London days were spent gawking at the storybook sites and taking a daring ride on the London Eye. Nothing disappointed and visiting the little Starbucks tucked at the edge of the Tower Bridge made my day complete.  Have I mentioned that I love coffee and bridges???

I found that keeping the kiddo interested in the long travel days started in preparation before the trip. I had a customized shirt made for her to make the trip feel special and to give other passengers a heads up in the case she was a bit restless. We also hyped up the first stamp in her passport, which she was so excited about. We bought a couple books about London and of course, watched some favorite movies that take place there. It paid off in some wide-eyed moments ("There's Peter Pan's clock!") that are now our favorite memories. 

It was worth the effort- she is the best little international traveler and has racked up quite a few stamps in two years on trips that you can see here and here. We've also kept up the tradition of taking another family member with us and plan to do that this year too.  I highly recommend it!

The 5 Best Things I Ever Did While Traveling

Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb 

I'm always up for an adventure and once I confirmed that we would be traveling to Sydney, the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb was something that just had to be conquered. It was the most unique adventure I've ever done while also being reasonably priced and accessible without much planning. The journey was only second to the astonishing views of the Sydney Harbour. The only downside is that you have to wear these terrible jumpsuits and aren't allowed to bring anything with you. No camera, no phone, nothing. However, there was something refreshing about just savoring the moment at the top down under.  

Walking Food Tour

Since my post on eating my way through Porto was so popular, some of you may have guessed that this would make the list. Seriously, I don't know why I had not ever booked a walking tour that revolved around food before, but this was the perfect way to start that tradition. We hit everything I love; from coffee to deserts to 100-year-old open air markets. Taste Porto Food Tours was absolutely amazing and enticed not only my literal hunger but my hunger for history and knowledge of new surroundings.

Held a Koala

Australia makes another appearance on this list. After about a week in the country, I told my husband, "We better go see a kangaroo or something." He research the Cleland Wildlife Park and rang them up. He covered the speaker part of the phone and mouth to me, "You can hold a koala." I shot straight up. "I want to hold a koala!!!" And I did indeed. We also fed several kangaroos and saw other famous wildlife... dingoes, wallabies, and emus oh my!

Got a Tattoo in Tahiti

You might notice that I dabble in the art of tattoo (as a canvas, not an artist).  Really observant readers can probably start a timeline of my travel diaries based on my ever growing ink collection captured in photos. I'm not into getting tattoos while on vacay, but how could I pass up the opportunity to get one in the literal birthplace of my favorite art form? I was able to get a recommendation from our flight attendant on the way to Tahiti and had it inked on the day before we left (so I could still enjoy the water during our trip). Shout out to Wal's Tattoo!

Geeked Out in the PNW

I once traveled to the Pacific Northwest specifically to be a fanatic. I went to a festival dedicated to my favorite TV show of all time, Twin Peaks.  It was everything I had hoped it would be with equal parts visiting filming locations, meeting people with my same obsession, and engaging in super-nerdy TP themed events. I had a blast and was able to stay at the luxurious Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie, Washington; to this day, one of the best hotel and spas I have ever visited.  I haven't done a post on this trip because I am hoping that I will get to go to another festival soon and feel like the first trip is a bit dated.  But maybe that will be the charming part of it since the new series is due out soon and a million people will probably be at the next event.    

There is so much hype about "traveling authentically." But at the end of the day do what you want to do, see what you want to see. Some things on this list are probably touristy and definitely moneymakers but they gave me some of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Sometimes it's about relaxation and other times it's about pushing yourself. It should always be without regrets.

On The Broad Again

Happy 2017!

I love a good modern art museum and I visited my fair share in the past year. LACMA, Norton Simon, ARoS, and The Broad- twice. The Broad just celebrated it's debut year in Downtown Los Angeles. Situated next to the stunning Disney Concert Hall and across from the MoCA, it fits right in with the already established artistic giants. The building itself is a sight to see and brings something new to the DTLA scene. It houses several pieces from my favorite artist, Takashi Murakami, and is current home to the much-hyped Infinity Room by Yayoi Kusama (totally lives up to it). 

Best of all, the museum is available for free. Reserved tickets are available online at the beginning of each month for the following month. However, I prefer to skip the reservations and get there about an hour before it opens and wait in the standby line. That way, you will get to go in within the first hour and essentially have the museum to yourself. You will also want to get there early because access to the Infinity Room is only possible by signing up on an iPad once you enter the museum, whether you have reserved tickets or not.  

Most recently, I went on a Sunday just as described above and the wait for the Infinity Room was approximately 75 minutes- plenty of time to see what was new since the opening and enough time to visit some of my favorites. Traffic and parking is best on the weekends and there are usually food trucks out front if you are stuck in the standby line for too long. I also suggest downloading their app and bringing your headphones to listen to the art walk & talks on the app. I am so thrilled that LA has another great modern art haven that is easy to visit!    

What is your favorite museum in your hometown?

2016 Yearly Roundup

Here are my 10 best travel moments from 2016...in chronological order because I just couldn't rank them!

  1. Starting this blog!

  2. Baseball in Seattle

  3. Camping in Alaska

  4. Date Night at Relae in Copenhagen

  5. Walking along the Your Rainbow Panorama in Aarhus

  6. Standing in front of Horseshoe Bend

  7. Touching these ancient slot canyon walls

  8. Hiking the 6 highest peaks in SoCal

  9. Relaxing in Palm Springs 

  10. 45 seconds in the Infinity Room at The Broad Museum

5 Christmasy Things to do in SoCal

1. Shopping at The Grove

I mean you have to shop right? Why not do it at the "most LA" venue around? The decorations are over the top and especially gorgeous at night.  If you can, bundle up and grab dinner on the patio at La Piazza and watch the shoppers and celebrities shuffle around. Warning: there is an enormous American Girl store at The Grove, so you may want to leave little girls behind! And maybe just as dangerous- Ladies, there is a Laduree now open!
My Best Tip: Wander down to the attached Original Farmer's Market and get some crack, I mean, the-best-toffee-ever for all of your friends at Little John's English Toffee House.

Baby, It's Chicago Outside

The weather is finally cooling down here in SoCal so I thought I would revisit one of the coldest places I ever been. Not Norway, not London, not Montreal...Chicago in late October. 

I was attending the national sexual offender treatment conference (good times!) over the Halloween week, so I had no control over the crappy time of year to experience Chicago for the first time. 

Submitting A Conference Presentation

My first international conference as a student

This week, I submitted presentation proposals to a local conference and an international conference, both of which will take place next Spring. It was kind of last minute but a colleague already had an idea that seems like it will be easy to build upon. Speaking in an international forum is such an accomplished feeling.  To me, only the most dedicated and interested minds make the effort to attend and share their ideas and research in that type of setting and it is a privilege to address that crowd.  It may sound daunting, but proposing an idea is easier than you may think. And for those of you who are early in your careers or still students, you are welcomed too! 

Here's how I have gone about it and I have been accepted to every single one that I have applied to, with the opportunity to travel to Australia, Vienna, Oslo, Portugal, and Copenhagen

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