Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

HappyMemorialDay

Happy Memorial Day Weekend everybody! Are you out traveling, or staying in and bbq’ing it-up this weekend? My good friend is getting married in 3 weeks, so we treated her to a Los Angeles staycation bachelorette weekend. It all began at Glen Ivy, the Disneyland of Spas!

SpaDay1 (Me and the future-bride, Brenda)

Given that it is a holiday weekend, we arrived at 10am and the admission cost was $65. I’m not one to do any spa treatments… I don’t even get my nails painted (Im a DIY-er, you know), but this $65 fee is worth it. This place has thought of everything. It’s a great women’s retreat full of amenities, natural pools, floating pools, pool aerobics, jacuzzis, steam rooms, saunas etc. And for those with more money to spend, they offer massages and other spa packages at an additional price. This was a great bachelorette party activity, and even a great girl’s weekend getaway. At an hour outside of LA, you feel removed from the city and yet it’s easy to get to.

AceHotel (The view from the Ace Hotel rooftop at night)

We drove back to LA from Glen Ivy and ended up at our home for the night, the new Ace Hotel. I’ll admit, this new hotel was hipster heaven but they are still figuring out the logistics of running a hotel. Our room was supposed to be ready at 3pm, and when we arrived at 5pm it still wasn’t ready. With no real lobby to wait in, we went to their rooftop bar with all our luggage where there was also very little room to wait. We were also dressed for a spa and not for a rooftop bar which left me feeling a little embarrassed and out of place. After an hour of waiting our loft room was ready.

They did give us a complementary bottle of wine for our hassle, but I’ll admit the room had a not great smell to it. Alas, we didn’t let that get in the way of our spa-zen spirit. We got ready (rushed, as we had dinner reservations to make). We booked a 4 person room (and paid for 4), which had 1 bed and a couch that opens out into a big bed, and they assured us this was a 4 person room. But getting them to come assemble that couch-bed took multiple attempts, and when they did provide sheets, they just left them sitting there on the couch. Really? You can’t assemble the couch-bed that you’re insisting is meant for guests to sleep on? Ace Hotel fail. I don’t mean to complain, but this was not a cheap room considering the amount of issues that came up.

At this time more LA friends joined us in the room as we got ready. Since it’s a stay-cation it was great that friends could come and go for different events/meals throughout the weekend. Once ready, we walked down to the Wooden Spoon for dinner where we met up with even more friends of the bride-to-be. We had a delicious meal with yummy sangria and complementary rose champagne. Considering it’s a small place, they were great to host all  8 of us in the party, as some other local restaurants panicked at the idea of 8 guests. I highly recommend this spot for dinner if you’re downtown (I had the shrimp balls and beets salad).

FriendsAtAceHotel (Eva, Me, Grace, Tamar)

From there we walked back to the Ace Hotel to hit-up their rooftop bar now that we were properly dressed for the occasion. Of course we had to rock the bachelorette party-crown attire. So much fun.

Bar107 (Dancing at Bar 107, view of the ceiling in the dancing room)

We decided that dancing was in order, as the bride-to-be loves to dance. We walked from the hotel over to Bar 107 where lots of dancing commenced. Lots and lots of dancing.  Around 1:30a we were pooped and Uber‘ed back to the Ace. Slumber party fun began and then was followed by crashing.

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The morning after: a hearty meal at Nickel Diner (an LA institution). What a fun half of Memorial Day weekend, to spend it with good friends relaxing at the spa, eating great meals and then dancing the night away. Now what to do for the second half of this long weekend? I’m sure I’ll come up with something 😉

Israel VI: The Sea of Galilee

To catch you up to speed, check out these earlier posts about my trip:
Israel I: Modern Tel Aviv
Israel II: Jaffa (the Old City)
Israel III: Modern Art and Bauhaus Architecture
Israel IV: Caesarea and Haifa
Israel V: Acre (Akko)
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In my last post we were leaving Akko and driving in the dark to Tiberias, which is the largest “city” around The Sea of Galilee. When we arrived that night we were hungry and hoping to just check into the hotel, drop luggage and grab dinner. We had been warned that Tiberias was like the Reno of Israel, and now I get it.

When booking our hotel in Tiberias we decided to go for something more rustic instead of the giant hotels with tour buses out front. We stayed at the Pilgrims Residence which seemed like a nice alternative to one of the giant hotels that surround it. We learned quickly that where we were staying did not have a parking lot, so we parked down the street and explored until we found the hotel. We had to ring the doorbell (it’s a locked hotel) which was a minute long hymn loudly echoing through the place. It was a cash only hotel (so we had to do a late night Israeli atm run) and everything was priced in US dollars (given the exchange rate, it meant things were more expensive than they seemed). It looks like an old castle-esque building which added to the eeriness of this place. It’s also a religious establishment so the other guests were nuns and clergy members in their robes. It was like being in a Scooby Doo episode. There were lots of religious artwork, and I was watching to see if the Jesus eyes in paintings would follow us around the room. I decided not to unpack incase ghosts chased us out in the middle of the night- I’d be ready to run. We ate dinner at the restaurant below the hotel, which also had an eerie feeling to it. Thankfully we ordered some meze and drank wine. This night was a very memorable experience, as there was even more oddness I won’t get into here.

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The next morning we enjoyed the included breakfast at the same restaurant where we had dinner the night before. Then we went on a hunt to find real coffee (many places serve instant turkish-style coffee with grounds, so we had to hunt to find “real” coffee). The views from our hotel were pretty amazing, as the photo above is from the roof terrace of the hotel.

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We walked along the water in Tiberias, which the night before had been busy with vendors selling goods and tourists exploring. At 10am this same spot was completely desolate. Such a change from the night.

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So quiet and peaceful. This is Galilee where Jesus walked on water.

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This place was so strange, we had to snap photos with the place. Well at least we have the stories from it.

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We had lots to see today, as this was the most ground to cover in one day for the whole trip. We hit the road going north along the west side of the Sea of Galilee.

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We were driving and saw 6 or 7 tour buses pulled over by an old church and thought- we should probably stop here. We aren’t super religious but did want to see some of the “biggie” spots from the bible, but hadn’t done too much research into this. Thankfully seeing the tour buses was a good marker. We were at the Church of Multiplication (or Church of Loaves and Fishes). This is this area where Jesus fed the 5,000 (turning not much food into a lot of food).

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This alter has a rock under it, which is supposedly the original rock alter where Jesus placed the bread. This adorable little church is clearly new compared to that rock, but the tile work is significant because it’s from the 5th century and the earliest known examples of figured pavement in the holy land. You can see the bread and fish design in front of the alter. I’m glad we stopped in here since it was adorable and it was also a story I remembered from my childhood Sunday Church School.

Just up the hill from here is the Church of the Beatitudes, which we could see it’s dome from the road. Given our tight schedule we didn’t stop in here. This hillside is where Jesus spoke to the Beatitudes, which we saw from the road. Maybe we missed out, but I was so excited to see the next section of Israel: Golan Heights. That’s my next post!

 

Israel V: Acre (Akko)

To catch you up to speed, check out these earlier posts about my trip:
Israel I: Modern Tel Aviv
Israel II: Jaffa (the Old City)
Israel III: Modern Art and Bauhaus Architecture
Israel IV: Caesarea and Haifa
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After seeing Haifa, we headed north to Acre (or Akko as it’s also called). We were in a rush so we didn’t have time to really research the town. We figured we would get there and figure it out. Sure enough we followed “Templar Tunnel” signs and historic landmark signs until we ended up in the Old City. We knew we were in the right place.

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We parked along the coast in the Old Town and could tell we were on the outer edge of a maze of buildings only reachable on foot. So we got out and just wandered as the sun set.

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After being in Tel Aviv (a modern city) and then the ruins of Caesarea (super duper old city), it was great to see a middle ground. This is a very old but livable city an our first taste of what we thought ISrael would be like. This is a small taste of what Jerusalem ended up being like, although we hadn’t been to Jerusalem yet.

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I’ll admit, it was a little eerie, as there were no shops and no tourists in this maze of old buildings and walkways (above is my uncle). It felt like we could have been mugged at any moment, but we weren’t and it was very cool so I’m glad we explored here.

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As we wandered around this maze of a town, we stumbled on the Templars Tunnel. It was about to close, so we rushed through it although it ended up being just a quick tunnel. So we actually looped back and did it twice. If you go to Acre, it doesn’t take long to do so don’t budget a lot of time for it. It was also 15 NIS (so like $5).

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Once we finished the tunnel, we continued on our winding walk through this old city. Occasionally a light would be on and we’d get to see the insides of these old stone Jesus-time looking buildings. It’s hard to imagine what living in these places would be like.

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Once we found our way out of the maze and were back on a driving road along the coast, of the Old City, we explored more well-lit areas and stumbled upon St. John’s Church.

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It’s just such a different way of life here, I find it fascinating.

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While exploring we found ourselves on rooftops.

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I really enjoyed seeing Acre at sunset and recommend it. While it felt a tad unsafe, it was so much fun to explore the walkways and just wander through the maze. Exploring is fun 🙂

We left Acre and decided to drive to Tiberias (where our hotel was for the night) and get dinner there. HERE‘s the map of our drive. Doing this drive after dark was unfortunate because we couldn’t see the landscape in the dark. In my next post I’ll show you Tiberias (aka the Reno of Israel, as we’d been warned).

Visiting Home 2: Exploration!

To catch you up to speed, check out the first part of my trek, Visiting Home 1: Getting There + Father’s Day.

This next chapter took place on Tuesday of my week home in Connecticut. I was so inspired riding the train from NYC to New Haven seeing all the little cute downtowns that I’ve never explored that I decided to make a day trip exploring the coast of CT. I decided to explore East Shore, East Haven, Branford and Guilford.

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After a lovely brunch with friends, my buddy Jess and I ventured down 91 to the first exit off the 95. We had no real destination, so when we saw signs for a park, beach or historical landmark we stopped in. Our first stop ended up being Fort Hale where there is little beach called Nathan Hale Beach. I was surprised on this Tuesday noon there were actually people parked here walking around. It was a little overcast, but still fun to explore. This isn’t a beach I would swim at (fyi).

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It was a rough rocky beach, but still a nice view. Onward we go!

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We continued down Townsend Ave and ended up at Lighthouse Park. This beach did have people laying out and picnicking (although I don’t think anyone was swimming). It has a window lined pavilion with a carrousel in the middle! I think this space can be rented out for wedding receptions.

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This is the New Haven Harbor Lighthouse. She’s a beauty.

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After doing a loop of the walking path, we were back on the road looking for our next adventure. We saw a sign near the East Haven Town Green pointing us toward the Shoreline Trolley Museum. As we were debating if we should explore, a conductor flagged us over and told us to hop on, so we did!

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It was adorable. The train conductors are volunteers, so they are in it for passion rather than donations.

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They take you on a short ride through the Beacon Hill Reserve where you learn about this history of trains in CT. Even though it was overcast, we still saw people kayaking. What a great spot for it!

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Views from the train car.

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The have a spot midway through where they keep the very old trains. Everyone exits the trains and explores barns with trains from all over New England. Here’s a photo of the train back when it was in use.

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Once our tour ended, we moved along to the Guilford Town Green. At this point we got coffees and snacks and walked a loop around the Town Green.

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We passed cute houses.

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We had a nice view of the Guildford First Congregational Church.

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After the loop it was starting to drizzle so we made a quick stop down by the water near the Guilford Boat Launch. If we had more time we would have liked to stop into the Henry Whitfield State Museum.

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Right after I took this photo, the rain came in and meant the end of our exploration. It was a lot of fun not knowing where we were going and just following the coast. You never know what you’ll stumble upon and learn about where you’ve spent your life growing up. I highly recommend doing something like this, no matter where you live.

Exploring Cape Cod: Paw Wah Pond

So this post is mainly about Paw Wah Pond, which we explored after making a pit stop at an undisclosed location. This first location shall not be named, because, as it turns out, it was on private land. I guess the land is public, but the only way to get there is by trespassing on private property. Since I am not a rule-breaking advocate, I can’t in good conscious promote the walk by giving you the information about it… BUT since I already went, I might as well share my findings.

Thankfully it was another warmer beautiful day with a clear blue sky.

We followed along the public beach until we reached our goal, a cute abandoned island (during high tide)/ peninsula (during low tide) filled with stones. You can see from these pictures how quiet it was. It wasn’t all joyous, as we had to cut across some stinky, might-drop-into-water-at-any-second marsh to reach this beautiful place. Oh yeah, then we had to cut back across it so we could leave.

After the-hike-that-shalt-be-named, we moved on to a fun loop at Paw Wah Pond in Orleans, MA. This hike has a small parking area, with paths leading you through the woods (note picnic tables for a summer time break) and down to the water.

We didn’t reach this area until late in the day, so the sun was already low in the sky. I love the picutre below because you can see there are 2 kayakers brave enough to handle the cold air (and water) and explore. I’m insanely jealous of them and wished I could have done some winter kayaking. Although the prospect of sticking my foot in the water for the initial launch hurts just thinking about it.

My parents enjoyed this walk for all the birding opportunities. Many unique birds were calling out and living in the nests in the tall grass along the water. We followed their steps.

Once the sun officially began setting we had to rush back to the car (you don’t want to cut through the woods in the dark.. not fun).

Sunsets like this are really special.