Location: Coronado Island, USA
Ahhhhhhhhhh.......home, sweet, home!
Yet another visit to the land I soo love has come and gone. Special thanks for this trip goes out to the one and only, Krisa Diaz. Her generosity and kindness allowed myself and Joanne a right of passage to enjoy all the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes, of the nostalgic Hotel del Coronado; or better known as, "the Del." Many people can say that they have visited the del for a late morning brunch, or an early evening glass of wine overlooking the sunset over the pacific, but only few can actually say that they have "stayed" at the del. Having had the opportunity to spend 5 days at this mysterious, yet magical, hotel was an extraordinary experience. Wood finished in a deep rich color that resembled only the finest dark chocolate encapsulated the interior of the lobby, with its vaulted ceilings and golden gated elevator shaft, the room felt like a time capsule back into the late 1800's. Visitors buzzed around the grounds of the hotel, all dressed to impress in their high heeled sandals that caught the wood floors with the perfect resonance of clicking and clocking. June gloom had cast its shadow over the island for the first two days of our stay in the San Deigo area. Through divine intervention, the skies parted on our third days stay and opened up our world to a brilliance of sunshine that deamed worthy of being called "heavenly." The ladies laid out by the pool from morning till night. The evenings often began with a chilled glass of Kendall Jackson chardonny, complimented ever soo nicely by a bowl of spicy snacks and sweetened cranberries. As the evening set in, a night on the town was truely in order. Preperations were made as we dazzled ourselves in turqoius make-up, beaded shirts, and tight jeans. We hit the gaslamp district with full force, hoping bar to bar on full stomachs of sushi, even hoping "over" bars to avoid absurd lines and completely unnecessary cover charges. We danced on tables and sipped on our drinks, and somehow ended the night with the most feminine handshake a man could give, a mojito martini, and real confessions from the never-been-married slovik cab driver?!
Guess you had to be there......
Location: New Jersey to San Juan, USA
A gray formica office desk crammed in the corner of a 4th floor office is where I sit looking out at the bare lifeless trees that have shed for the winter. White snow remains on the frozen ground with little chance of melting in the 20 degree temperatures that currently inhabit the area. But thoughts of warm breezes, lush green palm trees, and glistening ocean waters invade every thought which crosses my mind as I anxiously await a 7:50pm flight to Miami. Just the kind of "spring break" vacation that can relieve these winter blues.
The "girls" only weekend will begin this evening as Joanne boards a plane in San Juan, Puerto Rico where she currently resides in a temporary position for work. Its been 2 months since our last encounter, so one can only imagine the anticipation of seeing each other again. Estimated time of arrival in Miami for the wifey's is 10 and 11pm. It will be straight to the hotel from Miami's international airport for a night of gossiping, laughing, and catching up....("shut up! no way! are you serious! OMG! Stoops!")
The rest of the ladies will be arriving tomorrow. Amie and Kristina, the final two of the goof troop, will arrive early morning from their overnight flights from California. The 4 of us will gather at our Collins Ave. hotel where upon first greeting, I foresee loud high pitched screams and squeels of excitement.
First priority.......beach, time to get a tan!!!!!!!!!!
Location: Casa de Tirri, USA
The three amigas went coast to coast last weekend for a fun-filled adventure in the New York Tri-State area. The sole purpose of the trip was to visit the renowned Casa de Tirri. We could practically smell the fresh baked chocolate chip cookies from the plane...but too bad the bumps and thumps from the kicking and screaming of juvenile delinquets sitting behind us interupted our sweet thoughts. After a few winks of sleep, we arrived in the arm-pit of America, the smoke-stack state of New Jersey. Ahhhh, home sweet home. We all jumped in the mini-van and headed towards Franklin Lakes, the town where I (Lora) grew up. The excitement was superceded by complete exhaustion so a nap was first priority upon reaching "home." All too soon, we were awakened to freshen up and head out to New York City. It was a rare but beautiful day in the city, clear sunny skies illuminated the city's outline. We were fortunate enough to be accompanied by Patrizia Bruschi (my brother's fiance) who cordially offered her services as a driving tour guide for the afternoon. After visiting the meat district, Rockafeller center, the upscale shops on 5th Ave., St. Patrick's Catherdral, the Plaza, Trump Towers, and Times Square we swallowed enough of the city air to head back over the Hudson to Jersey.
Location: San Francisco, USA
A day in Frisco with Joanne Francisco! Yay! This past weekend took us to the well-reknowned "bay area" in Northern California. After a long 6 hour drive up the coast of California, we reached our destination in Freemont, better known as "casa de Francisco." After recieving warm welcomes from friends and family, we laid our heads down in preparation for Saturday's full day of touring in the city. Morning approached and not a moment too soon, we headed out to our first stop on the list..."Starbucks!" (Grande americano, 2 pumps almond, no room, hehe) After being fully caffeinated, we made our way to downtown San Francisco and anxiously awaited our turn to ride the trolley (its a cable car!). The trolley took us up, up and way down the steep hills of the city, dropping us of the world's most cooked road...Lumbar steet. Next stop was Fisherman's Wharf where thousands of crabs were boiling away in huge pots of steaming water. Yum! We decided to pass through a wrinkle in time to the early gaming era of the 1900's.... a free showcase of old fortune tellers, kissing games, and photo booths. Our future's were told by a mysterious machine that could have been the exact one used in the movie BIG! A few goofy photo shots later and we were outdoors once again amongst the stench of sea lions and seals inhabiting the pier. peew! Next off, Ghiardelli Square. Did someone say "chocolate?!?!" 7$ for one piece of chocolate, shut up! no way! Exhaustion had set it and it was time to head back and call it a day.
Next morning, the fun continued. With more than one apple pear from Jojo's backyard in our tummy's, it was off to see the Golden Gate Bridge. What a sight! Check out our awesome photos from this truely magnificant day. A great way to end the weekend before our drive back to LA. It was a fantastic weekend and many thanks to the Francisco's for hosting our stay....we'll be back again soon!
Location: Sydney, Australia
We are sad to say that this will be our final entry into our travel log. As we sit here in Paul and Katie's cozy apartment, we are recounting memories and visual photographs of the past week. What a vacation! It couldn't have been any better...
Yesterdays travels from Cairns to Sydney were amazingly smooth, considering the type of luck we've had. We arrived back in Sydney just in time for Patty's markets; an array of vendors that sold just about anything and everything under the sun. Perfect for souveneir shopping! With bags in hand, we rushed towards the botanical gardens to catch a glimpse of the bats on their flight to Centennial park. Despite Katie's Nazi walking technique, we missed their departure. But to keep things interesting, we accidentally got locked into the garden grounds! We were forced to jump the fence to get out, easy fix but still freakin' hilarious at the time. The fun didn't stop there... we finished the day off with a night out on the town. Our first stop was Scruffy Murphy's, an Irish pub that resurfaced some great memories from the 2000 Olympics. We were fortunate enough to meet up with Alex and Gino, two of Joanne's friends from NJ (Yey!) that happened to be studying in Sydney for the semester. Following a few pints of Australia's finest, we headed down to Darling Harbour. The walkway along the harbor is filled with restaurants and bars that could appeal to any taste. We ducked into a bar with a Southern-American flare and quickly made friends with the 19 year old bartendar behind the bar. We finished off the night with a walk in the park, a LOT of laughs (teehee), and a bag of Tim-Tams. Perfect ending to a perfect night.
This morning's alarm was harsh on the ears but where there is a will, there is a way! We were determined to make it out to the blue mountains for a day of hiking, and that is exactly what we did. We set out for Wentworth Falls and realized upon our arrival that autumn was settling into this small, quaint town. The weather was cool and the trees were turning rusty orange and red. It felt like football season! We hiked the rest of the afternoon through the trails and enjoyed breath-taking views of majestic waterfalls and the hazy valleys below. The "blue" tint above the mountains is said to be the result of Euculyptis oils which transpire into the surrounding air. The pictures could never do justice!
So here we are, staring at our over-packed luggage wishing that we could stay for just one more day (or week, or month....). But we will not say goodbye because we know that the memories, the photographs, and the Tim-Tams will be with us indefinitely. And on that note, THANK YOU Paul and Katie for giving us the opportunity to experience such an unforgettable week! Our world was turned upside-down and we had an absolute blast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lora and Joanne, 5-9-2004
Stay tuned for pictures!
Where to next??????? = )
Location: Cairns, Australia
We're off to Sydney for our last few days with the Raih's! Yey! No time to write cause we gotta catch our flight. The taste of Kilkenny still lingers in our mouths from PJ O'Briens last night, and I swear our legs are sore from dancing on the tables at the Woolshed. Cairns treated us well, but its time to head out. Thoughts of never leaving have become a permanent fixture in our minds!
Location: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
The title of our new book, "How to experience Australia in under 10 days." In the past 36 hours, we've seen and experienced soo much that its hard to recount all of the details. Serenity has surrounded us every bit of the way, hence the lack of diary entries. It all began on Wednesday morning when we set off for Townsville. The drive up the coast was filled with sights of mango trees and fruit markets. We indulged in papaya, mango, and banana fruit salads while sunbathing our arms outside of the car window. We arrived in Townsville in the nick of time to catch the 2pm ferry to Magnetic Island. We packed an overnight bag and ran to the shuttle with plans of spending the night on the island. Following a 20 minute ferry and 5 minute bus ride to Horshoe Bay, we found ourselves relxing at a local beach-front pub sipping on a Lemon Ruski. A nap on the beach was inevitable! Despite the calmness and beauty of the island, we decided to head back to Townsville, jump in the car and head further north for the evening. Upon our return, the most amazing sight of the full moon glowed in the distance. Dont worry, we got plenty of pics! Then the "never-a-dull-moment-with-Lora" experience began. We were dropped off at the jetti, but the shuttle back to our car was no where in sight. Luckily, a super nice Aussie gave us a ride over to our car but to our suprise, it was locked up behind a big fence. We had to call security to release our Pulsar from hostage and had to dish out 70 bucks just to unlock the gate! Buggar! Good thing we found a nearby pub was offering pots of beer for only $1.50. Ahhhh, all was well again. =)
We hopped in the car and booked it to Mission Beach. With the advice from our friend Glenn in Arlie Beach, we found an incredible hostel tucked away in the middle of the rainforest. The name of the hostel, "Treehouse," depicts exactly where we stayed. The two-story building built entirely of wood was open to the air all around us and was designed to mimic an actual treehouse. This morning, the sound of exotic fauna was the perfect alarm clock...
We headed down to Mission Beach to check out the local scenery. We walked around town, held a cockatoo, and took pictures on the beach with coconut bras. hehe With lots to accomplish, we got back in the car and drove North. Round and round we drove, where the car stopped, nobody knows! We felt like being truely spontaneous today so we stopped whenever something looked appealing. Way more fun that way!! We ended up stopping at Murdering Point Wineries to taste wine fermented from tropical fruits rather than grapes, stopped at Etty Bay where the crabs run like hell and no one on Earth could possibly imagine how secluded this stretch of beach could be, and turned off the main highway to Jackson Falls where a short hike through the rainforest dropped us off at the front of a raging waterfall. All in all, today was amazing!
We are currently in Cairns and are looking forward to a night out on the town. PJ Obrian's and the Woolshed are on the top of our list! The shower is calling and trust me, its definitely time to answer!!!
BTW, we can't upload pictures at the moment 'cause most computers at these internet cafes prohibit access to anything but the internet. Stay tuned.
Location: Still in Arlie Beach, Australia
Word of the day:
Australian: "fairdinkum." English translation, "no way!"
We are still in Arlie Beach, and we may never leave. We found this town to be soo inviting with its beautiful surroundings, laid back atmosphere and super nice people. We even experienced a touch of Italian culture tonight when we happened to stumble upon a small deli that was owned by a man from Bari, Italy. In the end, he gave Joanne and I loaves of free chiabata bread. Need I say more!
Today's adventure consisted of ocean rafting, bush walking, snorkeling, petting bat fish, and admiring maorie wrass (aka "stoops" fish). We set out to the Whitsunday Islands on a giant ocean raft and landed first on the main Island for a walk through the rain forest. The Whitsundays was more like the "wet"sundays, but being in the rain forest, it seemed fitting. From there, we took off to White Haven beach where Joanne and I enjoyed sinking our toes into the white silica sand. Next, we road over to Mantaray Bay where we become completely enthralled with feeding and petting the sea life. Too bad Joanne was soo excited that she kept screaming and scaring the fish away! hahaha From there, we went over to Pinnacle Bay to snorkel over the living reef. The coral was pristine, breath-taking, and unusual all in one. There is no question why the reef is one of the natural wonders of the world. After a few high speed donuts in the water, we were on our way back to Arlie Beach. We decided to stay an extra night but we gotta run because we have no where to stay and the night is quickly falling upon us......
Location: Arlie Beach/Whitsunday Islands, Australia
It has been a non-stop adventure since we left Sydney. After enjoying the beautiful sights of the Sydney Opera house, Darling Harbour, the botanical gardens, and Kings Cross, we decided a trip to Cairns was in order. The journey began in the wee hours of the morning on Monday. Jet lag had officially set in, as we found ourselves chit-chatting at 2am...3am..4am...and 5am in the morning. The sun rose as we packed up and left the Raih's apartment. 23.8 kilos of luggage (plus 2 carry-on bags) were dragged through the streets of Sydney to the St. James street station, onto the Green Line railway, and into the domestic airport... only to find out that once again, we were in the WRONG airport! ("Shut up, no way!!- LT) We had 10 minutes to spare to get ourselves to the international airport. Joanne ran faster than I had ever seen her run before (I think she may have even broke out into a sweat!!!) We hailed down a cab and ripped through traffic, making our way to the correct airport with 1 minute to spare (not to mention the fact that they had to delay the departure for us!) Yikes, that was a close one....we arrived in Cairns on Monday morning and were pleasantly greeted by a cute little security dog that was soon to be on top of my (lora) carry- on luggage. Who knew that you couldn't bring fruit from one state to the next?? Damn, the banana got confiscated! We finally made our way through the airport to the rental car station and were on our way in our left-handed manual Nissan Pulsar. Driving on the opposite side of the road with the wrong hand is a trip! Every time we turn, there go the windshield wipers! hahaha Thank GOD, upon a last minute immpulse we opted for the extra insurance.....a rock in the middle of the road decided to pop up and crash down directly into the middle of our windshield....crack.....#$@#!!!!.- ..we're screwed...oh well. Following an 8 hour drive through banana fields and mango orchards down the coast of Queensland, we arrived at Reefo's Arlie Beach resort. To my lovely ladies of Port Lodge, yes, this is the exact same place we stayed 4 years ago before departing to the Whitsunday Islands. We enjoyed pints of VB at the bar last night, said goodnight to our live-in Lizard (we named him echo), and are now anxiously anticipating a trip to the nostalgic islands for a day of snorkeling on the great barrier reef. We learned that our current location is the same latitude of Tahiti, but from past experience I can say that this is by far the most beautiful place on Earth...............stay tuned for photos. Signing off from the Southern Hemi, LT and JF.