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Making Room for Joy

I’ve been working a lot, every weekend and Monday through Thursday a lot. One of my friends, during a discussion on professional development classes, said that I am always going somewhere. He said it because I told him I am going to Canada in June, so I can’t take a class with him. I replied back with the fact that I have 3 jobs. And one day off a week. So, yeah, I need some time for travel.

So far, this year I have gone to NOLA and Vancouver. One with my husband and the other with the best travel girlfriends a person could have. We had a great time and they made me laugh so much.

We did touristy things like visit Granville island, visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge, and shop in the city center. We also ate at cute neighborhood markets, had afternoon tea in neverland, visited a whiskey bar in gastown and laughed so hard we cried. We watched women’s Olympic hockey in a Canadian bar, and we were the only people cheering for USA (and USA won!).

I’ve known these girls for years. We are completely different. We don’t have the same beliefs and politics. But we were all teenage mothers who lived on the same street as single moms. We are connected by a shared experience and our continued friendship is an amazing kind of sisterhood. When I returned, I really reflected on the joy they bring me and how grateful I am to have them.

Remember to find joy with the people in your life.

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Last Stop: Zurich

Our last stop in Europe was Zurich. The reason we went to Zurich was all about money. When I bought my ticket to Europe, I search trips leaving from different locations. The ticket I bought arriving in Munich and leaving from Zurich was a good price. I bought my husband’s ticket later, and to save money, I bought each way separately (LA to Prague and Zurich to LA). I wasn’t able to get him on my flight because it was too much money, but we left the same day and could go the airport together.

The problem with Zurich was all about money. We arrived in Zurich by train and the first thing I noticed was the German was harder to understand. Also, I noticed by this leg of the trip I was getting worn out. Being a constant world traveler is not the life for me. I missed a consistent bed to sleep in. The European weather was warming up and a/c in our Airbnbs was nonexistent. The one we had in Zurich was spacious, but hot and right in the middle of the red light district. That meant people were out all hours of the night and it was too hot to close the windows. I’ll admit, I was a little cranky and feeling broke in a the most expensive city in Europe. But I did look up some ways to save money.

We took the short ferry trip on Lake Zurich, which was 90 minutes, for about 12 Swiss francs (CF). We ate at a buffet at the top of a department store for 12.50 CF (about the same in USD) for all you can put on your plate. Meals typically cost 25 CF, so that adds up fast over 2 days. I found an article of places with cheaper food. We people watched around the edge of the lake and got ice cream. 

It’s a hard transition at the end of a month in Europe. Your tired (and broke) and you want to go home, but you also don’t want it to be over. But you also need to make some money (because you spent it all). And you have to start thinking about regular life again.

The day before we flew out, My husband’s flight was changed and he had to leave early in the morning, while my flight was still at 1pm.  Which meant I sat the airport four hours after he left. So I bought a book. And read the whole thing before my flight boarded.


Home

Back in Munich, on the last day of my German class, my teacher asked what I would do to continue practicing. I fully intended to work on my work book when I got home. But I only have twice. Real life comes back fast. But I really do want to get back to practicing my German some more. And I really did like so many things about European living. I’m still trying to figure out how to incorporate them into my American living.

Next stop: a job?

One More Hawaii Post

  

Okay, I just went to New York for the first time and I had a great time. Part of it was the company, part of it was the city, and a big part was the food. I love to eat when I go on trips. And it was no different when we were in Hawaii. Some places we eat at because it’s what that place is known for, some we go based on recommendations, and some we go to because location, location, location. 

A good chunk of eating we did at the Hilton resort. Like the coffee shop/ice cream place in the picture above. Those sticky buns? I didn’t end up eating them. I ended up with ice cream and it was good. So where did we go to eat outside of the resort in Hawaii?

Local food:

Rainbow Drive In 

 We went for the traditional plate lunch with macaroni salad. Here I ate the fish and Will got the Mix plate. We went after we hiked Diamond Head, figuring that would be a good time to eat a ton of food. I don’t know why, but I love how Hawaiian plate lunches come with macaroni salad. Its really the only time I eat macaroni salad. What was good: the portion sizes were big, the price is cheap, and the macaroni salad was yummy. I liked my mahi mahi, which was breaded and cooked. I got so stuffed. And it was an bus stop between Diamond Head and our hotel. What wasn’t: they mixed up that I wanted fries and gave me rice, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. I just ate my husband’s fries.

Rainbow Drive-In
3308 Kanaina Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96815

As good as they say?

Bills

    I liked the decor and had read that it was a great place for coffee. So of course I had to check it out. Bills is a Sydney based restaurant that has a location on Oahu and in London, Tokyo, and Seoul. What was good: the coffee and food. I liked my avocado toast and latte. They have a lot of options for the veggie inclined and some for gluten free people too. What wasn’t: the service. It was impersonal and not too friendly. Maybe they were just busy and it was a bit of a wait, but the hostess did not have the mostess. 

280 Beachwalk Ave
Honolulu 96815

Location, location, location:

Top of Waikiki

  Maybe this seems cheesy and some people would say it’s not worth they hype, but my husband and I did enjoy our date night at the Top of Waikiki. The restaurant rotates 360 degrees, although if construction on Waikiki continues, the view may not be worth it much longer. We went right at sunset. What was good: The view. The service. Our waiter was friendly and even talked to us about where to eat like a local. He was the one who recommended the plate lunch place. What wasn’t: Nothing was bad. The food was good. We ordered  several things from the Sunset appetizers and salad, but still got pretty stuffed. It wasn’t the best we’d ever had, but we really came for the view. They even have a bar that does not rotate, if you just want to relax and look out over Waikiki.

2270 Kalakaua Avenue, 18th Floor

 Any favorite food spots in Hawaii?

Resort Life: Hilton Grand Vacation Resort

When we went to Hawaii in january, we did the timeshare trip. You know the one? The kind where you are invited to stay for cheap and watch a 2 hour presentation on vacation club ownership. I have a Hilton Honors membership and they offered me a 5 night stay for $699 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. On a whim, way back in June of 2015, I bought it. Originally we planned to go in the fall, but with the new teaching job I moved our trip to January (for a small fee).

  our room

 view from our balcony

We almost never stay at resort type locations because I am so thrifty. I stay more at Hampton Inns and Hilton Garden properties to save some cash (and give my family a free breakfast). But a while back for mother’s day I stayed at a Loews and loved it. I decided I deserved a little resort life.

Amenities we took advantage of:

 On site restaurants:

When we ate on the property, we ate most of the time at the Tropics Bar and Grill next to the beach. I enjoyed their happy hour. There are multiple restaurants with different foods and prices. The cheapest one had take out pizza and food I didn’t want in Hawaii. There was a Starbucks on site that we used for early morning coffee on the way to the airport, but we also tried the other coffee shop (that also had amazing ice cream) on site. There are a lot of choices on site.

 Pools:

There are several pools on the property with an ability to order food and drink poolside. Yessss. Getting lounge chairs by the pool can be competitive, but I prefer a chair a row or so back so I don’t get splashed by kids. The only bummer about the jacuzzi was that it was adjacent to the kiddie pool and frequently had a lot of kids in it. I don’t mind kids, mine are just grown so I don’t need to hang out with lots of them.

Fireworks on Friday:

Okay, we didn’t really see these. Because the guy at the timeshare presentation said we would be able to see the free Friday firework show from out balcony. But we could not. At all. You really need to be down at the beach to see it.

 Starlight Luau:

Fun luau, but not the best luau we had ever seen. We enjoyed meeting the people at our table. It turns out Dec/Jan is a popular time for Australians to visit Hawaii. The luau is on the roof of the parking garage, and we could actually hear it from our balcony on other nights. The food was okay, but the performances were good. The best out of all three we have seen is Paradise cove.

 Free movies:

One night we decided to get a movie and chill in the room. We were so beat from our busy day out and waking up at 4 am (time difference), we thought relaxing in our room was in order. When you check in, they give you a card to access the dvds and then you return them the next day.

We enjoyed our Hawaiian stay. The staff was extremely helpful all of the time. The grounds were clean and everything was beautiful.  All in all, the resort is a very convenient way to visit Waikiki. The last time we came to Oahu was 11 1/2 years ago. So much has changed in Waikiki, we almost didn’t recognize some parts. We did a lot of things we hadn’t done previously. I think if we had younger kids all of the amenities would have been appreciated even more. Renting movies for kids, the food options, the pools, club penguin for kids, etc. But as a couple who enjoys exploration of new places, a resort isn’t as necessary for us. But we loved our pool lounge time, charging drinks to the room, and the pineapple salsa nachos (minus the pork) at Tropics Bar and Grill. And honestly, in terms of Waikiki hotel locations, the Hilton  Village is in one of the best spots. Great access to transportation and beaches. The one thing I wish I would have done, was morning yoga at the resort. But the morning I was headed out, I was digging in my suitcase (under the safe in the closet) and hit my head on the in room safe. Hard. So I gave up on yoga.

I am so glad we got the chance to revisit Oahu and enjoy time together. Have you been to Hawaii? Do you love resort life?