My Dream Travel List – Europe

A few years ago I made a crazy goal of visiting twenty countries in under two years. I sat down with Antz and Liv and we looked through our MAPS book to decide which countries interested us most and what we would do in each destination.

I have the obvious must-see locations but I also wanted to challenge myself to see places that aren’t frequently visited. After reading about the rad landmarks and festivals across Europe I put together my dream list. In the back of my mind I sort of thought of it as a silly fantasy but now that I am actually living in Europe, it feels like we can certainly accomplish it!

The best part is since we are already  here, airfare and trains are a fraction of what it would cost flying from Los Angeles. YAY! After surviving driving in London, I feel brave enough to handle road trips so we can experience more cities in France. As long as we have reliable wi-fi and a clean/cool place to swap, I would love to visit these incredible destinations.

  1. France – Calais, Lille, Normandy, Cherbourg, Nantes, Aix-en-Provence, RouenRiems, Dijon, Poitiers, Lyon, Biarritz, Marseilles, Brittany, Bordeaux, Deauville, Nice, Cannes, Strasbourg, Arles, Gordes, Annecy, Alsace region and St. Tropez *quite possibly more cities!
  2. Italy – Rome, Florence, Pisa, Milan, Venice, Turino, Naples, Capri, Positano, Sorrento, Cinque Terre, and Sicily *Malta (technically not Italy but close)
  3. Spain – Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Málaga, Seville and Granada
  4. Portugal – Lisbon, Porto, Madeira Island and Sintra

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    Look at this insane castle in Sintra, Portugal 

  5. Morocco – Marrakesh, Fez, Tangier, and Casablanca *Rock of Gibraltar
  6. Germany – Berlin, Cologne, Munich, Hamburg, Bavaria, Frankfort, Heidelberg, Trier (to see the Burg Eltz Castle) and Saxony (Die Rakotzbrück/Devil’s Bridge)
  7. Ireland – Dublin, Cork, maybe Giant’s Causeway in Bushmills (Northern Ireland)
  8. England – London, Salisbury, Bristol, Brighton, Bath, Oxford and Cardiff
  9. Scotland – Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Lochs
  10. Austria – Salzburg, Innsbruck, Hallstatt and Vienna
  11. Switzerland – St. Moritz, Geneva, Zürich, MontreuxGrindelwald, Lucerne, Interlaken, Chur, Basel and Lausanne
  12. Belgium – Brussels, Brugge and Antwerp
  13. Netherlands – Utrecht, Rotterdam and Hague
  14. Russia – Moscow and St. Petersburg
  15. Denmark – Copenhagen
  16. Sweden – Stockholm, Gothenburg, Gotland Island and Mälmo
  17. Norway – Oslo and fjords
  18. Finland – Helsinki and the Arctic Circle (My friend Aura lives there so I’m sure she will know cool places to visit)
  19. Poland – Warsaw, Krakaw and Oświęcim (Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau)
  20. Czech Republic – Prague, of course!

 

Bonus Destinations

21. Japan – Tokyo, Kyoto, Kanazawa and Yokohama
22. Romania – Bucharest (we are dying to see Dracula’s Castle)
23. Turkey – Istanbul
24. Croatia – Dubrovnik, Split and Dalmation Coast
24. Estonia – Tallinn
26. Faroe Islands
27. Australia – Sydney, Brisbane and
28. New Zealand – Aukland
29. India – Agra, Mumbai and Jaipur
30. Hawaii – Maui, Honolulu and Kauai

**Bonus: US – New Orleans, Alaska, Florida (for DisneyWorld and Harry Potter) and somewhere cool in Maine.

I have dreamed of seeing the world my whole life, so living in Europe feels surreal. We have so many beautiful and historic places right at our fingertips. I tend to get overwhelmed when I plan our trips because there is so much I want to see and unfortunately, we don’t have a limitless budget or time so I must contain our trips to weekends and school holidays. That’s always been the hardest part for me, waiting to find the best deal during the time Liv has off of school.

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This is the beautiful town of Hallstatt, Austria

Do you have any must-see places in Europe I have missed? Would you prefer visiting the city or the countryside?

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Bon Voyage!

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Road Trip: Cherbourg & Beaches of Normandy

June is always a busy but special month for me. Liv’s birthday is at the beginning of the month, then Father’s Day and ends with Antz birthday. I rented a car and we drove to Cherbourg for a weekend trip for Antz birthday. I have wanted to visit Cherbourg ever since I saw the French musical “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg” Since Cherbourg is near the beaches of Normandy, we spent the day visiting Sainte-Mère-Église village, the Omaha Beach Memorial and the American Cemetery. The drive was over five hours and even though I normally would be able to drive longer than that in LA (I drove for eleven hours for our road trip to Portland) something about the French highways seems to lull me to sleep. I drove the first three hours and then Antz took over for the last two.

 

There were many tolls heading west towards Cherbourg. We also noticed livestock on the sides of the highway. At first we thought we were looking at sheep but with a closer look, they were golden cows! They were so pretty we pulled over and tried to snap a photo with some of the cows. The countryside is insanely pretty.

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I was surprised at how small Cherbourg was. Our hotel was just across the street from the harbor.

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We went for a walk around the town looking for a place to eat for lunch. Of course it was after 3 so we missed lunch and nothing was open until after 7pm.

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We found this gorgeous fish market but they didn’t cook the food. Liv bought a bag of apricots, Antz and I got crepes to tide us over.

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Les parapluies were everywhere. I only recently saw the French musical in the last few years although I have always been a big Catherine Deneuve fan. I also discovered that the guy who directed The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of Liv’s friend’s from school grandfather! How rad is that?!!

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We walked around for an hour then hung out in our hotel room. By 7pm, we were starving so we went to the first restaurant we found that was open. We ordered a plateau de fruits de mer for Antz birthday dinner. To our surprise, shellfish is served cold and there’s no melted butter to dip. Sadly, no matter how many times we have tried, we don’t like oysters. As fancy as the meal looked, we really missed our annual seafood meal from Duke’s in Malibu.

We drove around town looking for the Cherbourg sign. Oddly, we could find it’s location on Google Maps so I relied on photos from Pinterest and my intuition. Finally, just as I was about to give up I drove right past it on a steep hill! Since the sign was so big, one of us had to run into the street to get a photo. We waited forever for someone to get a photo of all of us but it’s an isolated area. This selfie has made me want to travel with a reliable tripod. I just don’t see where we could have set one up since there were cars passing in the street.

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The next day we grabbed breakfast at our hotel and headed out early.

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I had to take a photo with my umbrella by the harbor before we left. Our first stop was Sainte-Mere-Eglise. We learned the heroic story of Private John Marvin Steele. As the 82nd Airborne soldiers parachuted into the village, they were under heavy attack by Germans. John survived the jump but his parachute got caught in the spinnet of the church. He hung there limp, playing dead for two hours before he was taken prisoner. He later escaped and captured 30 Germans. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his valor. He is featured in the classic film The Longest Day.

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Miraculously, it didn’t rain. The sun actually came out as we headed towards the American cemetery. I spent hours explaining the D-day invasion to Liv and she listened intently. I was surprised to see how interested in history an eight year old was. I think it hit her the most when I told her how many men were drafted into the war and how her Dad would have most likely been sent to fight if we were alive during that time. During the summer of 1944 over 100,000 total men died.

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This was the most incredible experience for our family. France has always been a romantic place for us but visiting these sites where close to 10,000 people lost their lives felt very somber. We visited the memorial and watched a short film about World War II.
Below is Omaha beach.

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Our last stop wasn’t planned but Liv was asking what happened to the German soldiers so we stopped at La Cambe German war cemetery. It definitely had a different vibe to it. There were very few people there. Over 21,000 German soldiers are buried there. The cemetery has 1,200 maple trees as a gift of peace.

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If you are a history buff, I strongly recommend making this trip. Normandy Discovery Tours offers a tour by French locals. We saw a group of school children at the Omaha beach memorial. I really think that the difference between American children and European is our approach to the past. I feel like Americans shield their kids from the dark side of history but I believe that is doing them a disservice. They lack empathy and may grow up to make the same mistakes of bigotry and complacency. I talk to Olivia about everything, not to frighten her but to open her eyes to the world she lives in. She is a multiracial child so she doesn’t have the privilege to ignore the past suffering of her ancestors. Every accomplishment she makes in her life, she has many generations of proud Mexican and Black people cheering her on.

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Le Dîner en Blanc Paris 2018

Our fifth Dîner en Blanc was extra special because it was the 30th anniversary and Olivia joined us this year!

I was fortunate to have Antz craft these gorgeous crepe paper peonies for my headpiece. We found his Venetian mask for less than €7 at an art supply store near our apartment. I bought a huge, beautiful bouquet of white peonies for our table the day before but sadly they opened too soon so the day of the event, they were starting to whilt. I bought a bunch of babies breath (Les gypsophiles) and stuck them in Liv’s hair. We took an Uber to the Air France Museum. We arrived almost an hour early but I didn’t want to risk being late.

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After checking in my group and waiting forever for the departure time, we walked a few blocks to Esplanade des Invalides. I was certain it would be further at the Jardin de Tuileries but this location was large enough to accommodate 13,000+ guests from all over the world!

We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather. This year was the 30th anniversary of the DEB and as fickle as French weather can be, not once has it been canceled due to rain. We didn’t bring our roll-up table this year but we bought a patio table from Monoprix and borrowed two chairs from our friends in Nation. We used a grocery cart to wheel them around and put the tableware and food in my wicker cart. I bought our white plates, a white serving tray and our gold flatware from Ikea. You may remember from our last Dîner en Blanc Paris, our lovely desserts were smashed in my bag during the transport, so I made extra special care to have them wrapped and put in a smash-proof box. Wouldn’t you know it, the warm weather melted the white meringue! I am cursed when it comes to our desserts, only one barely survived.

I love how Liv is eyeing the only dessert that survived.

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After I passed out sparklers to my table of guests and the official napkin twirl, Antz popped our champagne and we took a few sips before heading off to find our friends.

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The coolest thing happened when we were wandering around admiring all the creative outfits and table settings. A woman ran up to me and excitedly told me she follows my blog! I was stunned by her kindness and enthusiasm. I totally love meeting new people at this event and finding out that someone is genuinely entertained by my blog made my night. Enchanté LaToya, you were a delight to meet!

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We had to say Bonsoir to the founder of Dîner en Blanc, François Pasquier and his lovely wife. The genie guy was a bonus I suppose, I was sad that I forgot to take a photo with Antz in the picture, LAME! I did have a moment to exclaim my love for the dinner and babble about our move to Paris to his wife as I was a bit tipsy from the champagne.

Technically, the event is for ages 18 and over but everyone welcomed Liv with hugs and were impressed by her level of French fluency. Everyone wanted to take a photo with her and were blown away by her maturity. I had to convince them that she just turned eight!

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We finally found my friend Aymeric and he introduced us to his stunning girlfriend!

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The Eiffel Tower was sparkling in the background.

We were exhausted and Liv had school the next day so around midnight, we packed up and called an Uber.

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I am so happy we brought Olivia to experience her first Dîner en Blanc. Paris is always a magical place but this dinner has an extra special place in my heart for the past five years. This photo was taken by the press and it shows the 13,000 attendees.

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If you may be interested in attending, you must be invited through a member. Let me know, I get a few invites per year around April/May. I just may be retiring from the event with exception to attending the DEB in Iceland!

Here’s previous Dîner en Blanc  2013, 2014, 2015

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This is no Dream… This is Really Happening!

Nous sommes arrivés à Paris! I can’t believe we have been here three whole days. Of course time is flying by in this beautiful city. Our flight was seamless which is shocking considering how much grief our fourteen pieces of luggage plus our huge iMac computer was giving Antz and me.

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Thank goodness my Mom has a monster truck called “Beast” to help us carry all our heavy bags! I even had to ship two suitcases because they were too heavy for the plane. I hope you got the Rosemary’s Baby (Mia Farrow with the cutest Pixie haircut ever) reference, film nerds! I got this rad shirt just for the flight because I love Rosemary’s Baby and I still am in denial that we have actually moved to f-ing PARIS!!

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This angel here hooked us up in such an awesome way!! I feel like the entire airport was cheering us on as we were leaving. Flying premium class has it’s perks, like we were able to hang out in the VIP lounge at LAX and I had so many yummy cocktails. They were serving a drink called Red Carpet because the Oscars were happening that weekend. I accidentally left my beloved navy Yokoo scarf in the lounge and only discovered it was missing as we were about to board our plane.

I wish I’d known we would end up having a two hour delay (we just ended up sitting on the plane) I would have tried to run and grab it. Boo!

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Yet, we didn’t lose anything else and my neurotic thoughts of our iMac computer getting damaged were all for naught. Norwegian Airlines was a dream to fly and we slept most of the flight. Look at all that glorious legroom!

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We arrived a Charles de Gaulle airport much later than I planned so we didn’t have time to go to dinner. I was so happy to go through customs easy, peasy. It took me so many long, stressful months to get those visas and I wanted to kiss the agent who stamped them!

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We were exhausted and terribly hot (check out my hair!!) by the time we found the rental car place. Luckily, I got a cool English-speaking dude who hooked us up with a minivan that fit all our ridiculous luggage. I have to say Thank You to my Mommy for giving us bungee cords! We wouldn’t have been able to go anywhere with all this luggage without them and they really came in handy when we were packing the van.

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I was surprised that I liked the rental car we got this time. Even though minivans aren’t cool at all, I was grateful it was an automatic transmission, with heated seats. I could plug my phone to play my music and I set up the driving navigation. I was also happy for the rear camera because parking here is no joke. It’s like a crazy game of Tetris. Driving in Paris is no different than LA other than the dreaded roundabouts. Those were definitely tricky because it becomes a Mad Max battle and it took me almost killing us several times before I understood how to navigate them. Antz needed a Xanax to calm him down from the crazy motorcycles drivers in the city.

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I can’t believe I drove the Champs Elysees! Of course, we had to promise to take Liv to Ladurée but she politely declined to go on the ferris wheel.

The apartment we are exchanging for two months is lovely. I am putting together a post about it soon. It’s a small studio with a toilette I fit in by a mere inch but it’s warm and cozy and the bed is heaven! I love that she lives on a private street so I could park anywhere for free! We have already done so much in a short amount of time here, I can’t wait to share all the photos we have taken.

But of course she sparkled just for us as we drove by!

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Je’taime Paris.

Iceland Day One

I spent hours researching our trip to the land of fire and ice, one of my highest priorities was taking phenomenal photos. I signed up for a photography class and educated myself about my Nikon camera settings and lenses. I bought a new zoom lens but I needed something that would allow me a wider angle for close up shots. The problem was a $2,500 lens was not in my budget. I was so stoked to find out that Samy’s Camera rents Nikon lenses! I was able to try out different lenses for $25 bucks a day. I fell in love with a wide angle lens and bought a tripod because every person who has traveled to Iceland assured me I would need it to take photos of the Northern Lights. However the lens was large and heavy and along with two other lenses, the tripod, extra batteries, accessories and an external flash (that we never used) there was no way everything would fit into our camera bag. Antz somehow squeezed everything into his suitcase. I had to repack like ten times because my heavy boots didn’t fit and I kept going over the 44 lb weight maximum.

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This was just one of the ten outfits I packed. I bought thermal leggings from Amazon and wore layers everyday because even on windy rainy days, I was sweating from all the hiking. I had the hardest time finding the right coat to wear in Iceland. I did not want a puffy coat because they don’t look so great on me and they only come in boring colors. I ended up finding a fantastic white wool coat from Asos on sale for like $73! It was so warm and I was the brightest person in Reykjavik.

img_2977img_2583Making it rain in Icelandic Kronas! I found the best currency exchange place located in our new bank in Glendale.

The first day of our trip went surprisingly seamless. I may sound like a broken record but I strongly recommend flying with Wow Airlines. I will say, their gate at LAX was kinda lame and it felt like we walked for miles to get there. However they are a fairly new airline to LAX, so they don’t have a lounge area to wait in yet. Since we arrived so early and didn’t want to stand or sit on the floor for an hour, we waited in the nearby Virgin Atlantic area. Luckily, we saw the Wow crew walking by so we knew it was almost time to board. Other than that, everything was great. We had the sweetest flight attendants (ours looked like Margot Robbie) and the pilots invited Liv into the cockpit when we landed. The plane was clean and the seats had more room in coach than other airlines I’ve flown. There are only two seats for the window row so Antz had to sit across from us in the middle. All flights from Los Angeles arrive in Reykjavik at 4 am so that is something you need to plan for if you are checking into a hotel. We had a full day planned so it worked to our advantage.

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Our Uber driver was a little crazy, he followed the weirdest route to LAX which took us on a journey through the back alleys of downtown but we made it on time! LAX is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. The TSA line is always miserable but there has been improvements on the design of the international terminal.

Once we made it through the lines of agony, we did some pre-flight shopping at Fred Segal. Then we picked up a light breakfast of pastries.

Can someone please buy these for my next trip??!!

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Most folks seem to have a problem when it comes to traveling with young kids but honestly, Liv has been our lucky rabbits foot. We get to board the plane first, the flight attendants absolutely love her which gets us perks and she’s a pleasure to travel with. It’s true, the earlier you travel with your kids, the more open-minded and exposed they become.

Fortunately no one sat next to Antz so he had plenty of room to spread out.

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I love that we can give our daughter the gift of travel and a proclivity for adventure. As we were flying over Canada, I felt so grateful that we could afford to take this trip instead of putting it off for “one day“.

dsc_1926Liv ate an entire box of rice crispy treats and a bag of trail mix. Don’t forget to pack plenty of snacks and water, nothing on this flight is free!

I waited my whole life to see the incredible Northern Lights. The week before we arrived in Iceland, they had the most vivid and clear Northern Lights in recent history. The government shut down all the lights in Reykjavik so people could view them better. I tracked the weather and the nightly skies on this website everyday until our trip. I slept during most of the flight but I did wake up and happened to look out the window. That sad green smear you see above is the Northern Lights. I tried and failed to take a photo with my rented lens because it was impossible to take a shot while we were moving and the glass from the window wasn’t allowing my camera to auto focus. When I took the photography class I specifically asked about taking photos at night and the key is to use a slow shutter speed, which means using a tripod. Every shot I have seen of the northern lights look like this…

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That early morning was the only Northern Lights we were able to see because clouds came in with our flight and obscured the sky for the whole week. The Liz curse strikes again!

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You wanna hear another great story? I booked our car rental back in July. I went ahead and splurged on an SUV with a snow package and all the extra insurance I could buy just in case. My friend Christina recommended getting a portable WiFi box so we will have coverage. I also got a navigation system even though the last time I rented a car in London, it didn’t work. So, I was pretty covered for our rental which totaled close to $800 for the week. I was promised to get a BMW X3 SUV or similar. This is what I got and believe me when I say, I acted like a disgusting, entitled American and threw a tantrum when I saw this Opal whatever it is. The chick at the rental place was like, “Bitch…you can walk.” So, here’s my Icelandic $800 pimped out ride. Well, at least it had a heated steering wheel.

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The only place to eat that was open at 6am was disappointing Subway. Yet, after a long flight, we were starving so it was good to have something familiar. I got the “Cool American” flavor Doritos. It was insane that the sun doesn’t rise until 9 am. It was pitch black at 8 in the morning.

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Guess those snow tires I paid for came in handy. They chilled in the trunk for the whole week. I think I could have been happier with the car if it was white. What color is this, depressing beige?

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It was freezing by the time we arrived at the Blue Lagoon. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the visit because of how cold it was outside.
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The Blue Lagoon was breath-taking. It was cold but once you’re in the water, it’s lovely. Now I was glad I paid for all of our extra luggage because I brought our aqua sock water shoes. Bare feet in public spaces is my phobia! There is an indoor entrance in the water so you don’t have to walk outside in the cold. Kids under 8 are required to wear floaties but the water level was shallow enough for Liv to stand on her tippy toes.

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Really, best day ever!! You must bring a GoPro to the lagoon. iPhones won’t cut it.

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So surreal, it was so warm and beautiful. And we only had been in Iceland for five hours.

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After a quick shower, we were back on the road, headed to our hotel for the first night. I booked the iconic Ion Luxury Hotel for our first night in Iceland because it is located in the middle of nowhere. Like, so much so that they don’t even have an traditional address. Of course, our rental’s navigation system took us an hour out of the way to get there. We were the only car driving on an endless stretch of road so I was pretty nervous we would get lost. Luckily, Iceland has awesome maps on the side of the roads for us clueless tourists. They are so thoughtful. I first read about the impressive hotel when it was featured in Afar magazine. It is known for being one of the best hotels for viewing the Northern Lights. Since it has the word luxury in the name, you know it’s expensive and also sold out even six months in advance. I must have called to make reservations every damn day until finally three weeks before our trip, they found a room for me. I was elated because this meant we could go to their beautiful Northern Lights bar and sit by the floor to ceiling windows to see the Northern Lights. It never occurred to me there would be a week of cloudy skies but we enjoyed our night at the hotel anyway.

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This river was boiling hot. Iceland, you so crazy! There is steam coming from power plants all over Iceland. People who live there never have to pay to heat their water. Energy is also dirt cheap because they power mostly everything from steam.

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Let me say, this hotel is unique and off the beaten track. It definitely had a James Bond sexy vibe to it. We were told that helicopter belonged to one of the guests, fancy! The Silfra restaurant is so reknown that tourists are bussed in from Reykjavik. We didn’t think to make a reservation since we were staying at the hotel and they almost couldn’t accommodate us.

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A cool thing about the water in Iceland, it’s 100% from the natural springs. Iceland has the purest water on the planet so you can actually drink from the shower, the faucets or even the ground. We went to a store and tried to buy bottled water and the woman was like “No, you go to the hotel and fill up your water bottle from the tap!” Honestly, the best water I have ever tasted. It felt nice to take a long hot shower and not feel guilty about a drought.

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We arrived at the hotel about noon but our room wasn’t ready yet so we hung out in the lobby. Our jet lag set in and we ended up falling asleep. I know I was snoring! When our room was ready, we had just enough time to change our clothes for our horseback riding tour. We booked a private tour through the hotel so a nice girl named Hannah picked us up and drove us to her family’s farm.

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dsc_0330The two hours was over in an instant. It rained lightly but the sun peeked out. The horses were incredible, I was Snapchatting and taking photos most of the time so my horse was like “Ok, lady I guess I’ll control myself.”

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When we got back to the hotel, we were starving. Silfra restaurant was packed. The hotel only has 24 rooms but they were fully booked for dinner. Iceland’s specialty is seafood and lamb but we had amazing sushi too. I used my charm to get us a table even though they require reservations. This was our most expensive meal during the trip.

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OMG! This langoustine was heaven. Antz loved his seafood soup. Liv’s burger was meh.

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After a quick FaceTime with my BFF, Aimee we went straight to bed. I’m actually relieved the Northern Lights weren’t out that night because it felt like we were awake for 24 hours straight so off to bed we went. It was incredibly hard to wake up early for our next long day.

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Dîner en Blanc Los Angeles 2015

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Last year we waited and waited to hear the announcement for Los Angeles Dîner en Blanc but never heard anything. Lucky for us, we were able to attend the DEB in Paris. This year I figured they would email us some time during the summer but we didn’t hear anything by August. So, I planned on not going this year *which would have been a nice break for us since we have been so busy* and we planned out trip to visit Story & Chris in Portland. Of course two weeks before our trip, the email came in. Dîner en Blanc was coming back to Los Angeles just a few days after our trip.

It turns out that last year they weren’t able to secure an alcohol permit and there’s no dinner with booze. So when I was asked to be a group leader again for the second dinner in LA, I couldn’t say no. Since this was our third year, we pretty much had everything we needed. For some weird reason, I can never do things the easy way. Honestly I find easy to be boring, I’m a risk-taker. So, even though I have several white dresses in my closet, I asked my Mom-in-law to help me sew a handmade tulle skirt to wear to the dinner. I had two days to pull it off and it was miserably hot. Liv had just started kindergarten so I only had time to work while she was in school and after I picked her up. Thank goodness for my amazing Mom, who helped me pull it off. I bought 80 yards of fabric *which I had to cut about 200 rectangles* and no matter how much we layered the skirt I could still see right through it. I ended buying a white petticoat to wear underneath.

The morning of the dinner I went to the Flowermart but nothing was in season that I planned to buy. I finally decided to try something different and bought a white piece of driftwood and LED lights. I also couldn’t resist a bunch of lovely orchids. They were pricey but they held up well in the heat. They looked great in my swan vase from Anthropologie.

Antz and I made our guesses to where the Dîner en Blanc would be held this year. I said Grand Park in Downtown since it’s large enough and a perfect nighttime venue. Antz thought it would be at Santa Monica Pier or the 3rd Street Promenade. As we were driving on our bus, I was pretty sure I was right since we headed towards downtown.

Turns out I was close! We arrived at Pershing Square right in the heart of downtown LA.

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The end.

Pont des Arts / Notre Dame

Paris is well-known as the City of Love and romance is pumped through the
air. There is a legend that if you and your love put a lock on a bridge and throw the key into the river, your love with become eternal.
I’m down for the lock tradition but the reality is, the weight of the locks is damaging
the bridge and the rust from all the keys is harming the ecology of the Seine. The Pont des Arts bridge was originally built in 1804 but re-built in 1984. We were given a lock from my Mom that I knew would be perfect for the lock bridge. We carried it with us everyday in case we happened to be in the neighborhood of the bridge. Well, a few days ago, I get a lovely message from Aimee saying the Pont des Arts bridge has partially collapsed due to the weight of the padlocks. MERDE!

I have waited so long to add our lock and now the bridge was damaged? Just my luck! However, the French worked their magic and by yesterday the bridge was all fixed. I made this extremely shaky video of us adding our lock to the bridge.

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The only space we could find was to lock ours on top of another lock.

 

I’m serious when I say there must be a million locks on this guy!
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DSC_4012DSC_4036Thank you nice Americans who offered to take this photo of us
There were people on the bridge selling locks and even had portable engraving machines if you wanted to add your names.
lock bridge 2pont des arts
We took a short walk to Notre Dame
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I mentioned the memorial plaques I wanted to see in Postman’s Park in London. Paris has this one dedicated to a man who died saving a drowning woman from the Seine.

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notre dame

We found Quasimodo’s house!

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DSC_4200_2It’s impossible for me to jump without making crazy face!

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Did you know there is a playground next to Notre Dame? Liv wanted to stay all day.

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We walked around the Latin Quarter which is home to Sorbonne University. It would be very cool if Olivia chose to study in Paris. I took this photo of her standing in front of Sorbonne as a gentle reminder.
If all goes according to plan, Olivia will be graduating from Sorbonne the same year Antz retires from work!! #keep the dream alive

My RAD Life List

Welcome to My Life List

 Here is my ambitious list of things I want to accomplish during my lifetime. Some of these are
total dreams of mine that may be far-fetched but others are quite doable and I am currently in the process of completing. 

Please email me if you would like to sponsor a goal on my list, sunkissis at aol dot com

Things that would be Lovely

  • Have our nursery featured on Ohdeedoh blog  DONE
  • Grow my own peonies, strawberries and herb garden
  • Attend a Masquerade Ball
  • Leave a 100% tip
  • Learn how to print on a hand crank letterpress make pretty business cards
  • Buy My Dream House / Completely renovate our next house and have it featured on Apartment Therapy we’ve had our nursery & our kitchen featured
  • Take a photo at the Golden Gate Bridge  DONE
  • Have one hundred followers on my blog
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter
  • Have a confetti fight
Such a fun day!
  • Officiate a gay wedding I’ve already officiated a straight wedding
  • Live to celebrate my 100th birthday
  • Take a CSS/html classs and Redesign my blog layout
  • Read Classic novels *Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, The Glass Menagerie, The Great Gatsby, Atlas Shrugged, Oliver Twist, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Wuthering Heights, A Tale of Two Cities, Moby Dick*
  • Dress up for a fancy night out *Opera, ballet, gala, etc.*
  • Take a photo with Bill Murray
  • Sponsor an animal
  • Cook everything on my Pinterest food board
  • Attend the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island in New York
  • Celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in 2052!
  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge  DONE
  • Add a padlock with our names on it to a lock bridge  DONE

Things That would be Rad!

  • Have a best friends only weekend in Palm Springs The Parker
  • Participate in a Flash Mob
  • Have my November 11, 2011 11:11 pm wish come true
  • See Björk play live at Glastonbury Music Festival in the UK and in her hometown, Reykjavík, Iceland
  • Have Marina Abramovic make me cry
  • Visit the Moma Rain Room
  • Go to Fashion Week
  • Visit all 50 of the Los Angeles farmers markets 29 down/21 to go
  • Be a contestant on The Amazing Race with Antz
  • Act in a film
  • Walk on the red carpet
  • Drive a vintage Fiat
  • Go blonde! DONE!
  • Ride a tandem bike with Antz
  • Attend an awards show  *So far been to Mtv Movie Awards/Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards four times*
  • See Tom Waits live
  • Help my Mom write her memoirs
My Mom & Bob Dylan on a train in Tokyo
  • Own a classic Chanel bag
  • Start a record collection  DONE
  • See a narwhal in person
  • Attend alt. Design Summit
  • Be completely debt-free 
  • Plant a tree
  • Go camping with my friends
  • Learn how to use my Nikon SLR camera
  • Go on vacation with my friends on a yacht
  • Learn how to knit/embroider
  • Run for office with our neighborhood council and do good in the neighborhood
  • Attend a TED Talks event
  • Own a vacation home like this one!
  • Participate in the color run
  • Smash a pie in my BFF’s face *she really wants me to*
  • Ride a pink Vespa scooter with a matching pink helmet
  • Sleep in a tipi
  • Spend a year not receiving but giving gifts
  • Learn how to juggle
  • Attend Dapper Day all dressed up at Disneyland
  • Jump into a pool with all my clothes on    

 IkVBus on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

Things to do with Olivia

  • Teach Liv origami & calligraphy 
  • Send Olivia to a French immersion school  DONE
  • Take Olivia to a presidential inauguration in Washington DC
  • Teach her math in a fun way so when she gets older she enjoys it!
  • Have a huge food fight
  • Purchase an Airstream *like this one by DWR* and road trip across North America
https://i1.wp.com/dwr.typepad.com/designnotes/images/2007/09/13/airstream_bs_enmx_v13007.jpg?resize=300%2C400
Cutest Airstream ever!
  • Learn all 50 states and capitals together
  • Take Liv to the Grand Canyon walk on the skydeck
  • Host a foreign exchange student 
  • Take Liv to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam  DONE  
  • Have Liv’s baby shoes bronzed
  • Take Olivia to Junibacken to see Villa Villakuella
  • Go to the summer Olympics
  • Have a Snowball fight  DONE
  • Take Liv to see Mt. Rushmore
  • Teach Liv how to cartwheel/roller skate/ice skate/skateboard/surf/ride a bicycle
  • Take Liv to see the Salvation Mountain DONE
SalvationMountain 1 Salvation Mountain
  • Teach Olivia how to swim
  • Set up a lemonade stand with Liv and donate the proceeds to charity
  • Take Liv to see The Nutcracker and Swan Lake ballet 
  • Host a movie night in our backyard
  • Go to a music festival with Liv
  • Take a photo at Platform 9 & 3/4 at King’s Cross train station DONE

King’s Cross Train Station London
Liv was insanely tiny when I made this dress
  • Take Liv to all five Disney parks (California, Florida, Paris, Japan, Hong Kong)
  • Own a pet goat, raise Silky chickens & an Angora rabbit
  • Take Olivia to the World Trade Center Museum
  • Take Olivia to meet her relatives in Mexico
  • Purchase “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss. Secretly get her teachers and mentors to sign and leave messages in it at the end of each school year. When she graduates from high school, present her with the book.
  • Take Liv to a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening *it’s one of her favorite movies!*
  • Have a monthly mani/pedi date
  • Take a photo of Liv standing in front of the Sorbonne in Paris to inspire her to study there  DONE
  • Teach Liv to to sew, crotchet and embroider
  • Take Liv to the Eiffel Tower
  • Finish Liv’s baby book
  • Go glamping in our backyard
  • Build an in-ground trampoline to play on 
  • Make a memory book for Liv every year until she’s eighteen *I’ve been really good at keeping up with this one! I’m on year four now*
  • Take Olivia’s photo every week with her Totoro plush until she turns two, then every year until she’s eighteen you can see her photos here
Travels

This list was inspired by Maggie’s Life List

Le Dîner en Blanc Los Angeles 2013

 I woke up today thinking last night’s Le Dîner en Blanc was just a dream.
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Photo taken by Jennifer Young

I found out about Le Dîner en Blanc while browsing Pinterest about 2 years ago. Then I read this post by Jordan at Oh Happy Day. I made it one of my Life List goals to attend le Dîner en Blanc in Paris. Well, since I’m not going to Paris this year, I was excited to discover Los Angeles would be having their first annual diner so I registered on their site. I ended up not getting an invitation but I was able to sign up as a volunteer. This gave me membership *for free* and the opportunity to invite a few friends. It was difficult to set everything up but everything fell into place *despite shoegate*

Antz and I worked hard getting all the dinner items we would need and making my amazing headpiece and cute birdie boutonniere.

This headpiece was huge and HEAVY. I had a battery pack on there for the lights. We had to secure it with hundreds of bobby pins
Look how adorable Antz birdie boutonniere turned out. He made that top hat!

Since I was a leader, I was privy to find out the city the venue would be located but not the address. Anthony told me his guess was Rodeo Drive since it’s so iconic. I thought it would be at a park to accommodate such a large crowd, so I guessed either Greystone Mansion or Beverly Hills park. As always, Antz was right, we arrived right on time at Rodeo Drive which was blocked off to cars for the event. We had one of the best spots for the dinner right near the DJ booth and close to the center of everything. The moment we got off the bus, I met the founder of the event François Pasquier, his wife and his son Aymeric who came in from Paris and Montreal. They were so gracious and kind. François attempted to talk to me in broken English and I made a terrible attempt at French but we communicated best in Spanish. This again confirms how much I suck at French and that I must learn the language I want our child to become fluent in.

I love them, they were so sweet!
Aymeric is a sweetheart, he’s so cute!

We set up quickly and the dinner began. Our table was amazing, everyone looked great and the table settings were lovely. I was so happy my friends Warren & Kim and Jihan & Jennifer were able to be there with me. The band performing during dinner was rad! The singer had a beautiful voice and she covered Amy Winehouse and Portishead. We had a delightful meal, I drank too much wine and we all danced. The white mustaches turned out perfect for photos and we took tons of pictures, posed for tourists, guests and the media. I posed for so many cameras my neck was hurting. You can even catch a second of us on the ABC and CBS news. I had the time of my life. I met such wonderful people and we rocked out to a guy playing electric saxophone! I can’t wait to go next year and hopefully attend Le Dîner en Blanc in Paris soon. My incredibly talented friend Jennifer took these lovely photos.

I love how rad our mustaches turned out

Jihan, Jennifer, Me, Antz, Kim & Warren
Me & my hot date!
Our table

Since there were so many great pictures, I put together this slideshow that covers the evening. Enjoy!

The first annual Diner en Blanc Los Angeles
August 21, 2013
Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills

 

My photo made it in the LA Times!

 

Diner en Blanc LA
The evening was magical! Merci Le Dîner en Blanc.

Camp Mighty

Boy, I sure wanna go! I just got an email that Camp Mighty begins this weekend in Palm Springs.

What is Camp Mighty?
Camp Mighty is a weekend retreat for people who like projects, and are
willing to put a little of that energy into themselves. All of us want
to be great at something. Camp Mighty will help you figure out what.


Here’s a video of Maggie Mason, founder of Camp Mighty

I’m really bummed  I can’t go this year because this weekend is our traditional pre-Thanksgiving dinner at my Mom’s house. I would love to cross off some things on my List. I also missed out booking a room at The Ace hotel in October and I really, really want to go with my BFF Aimee.

Herein lies the rub. My Bestie works ALL-THE-FRICKING-TIME! She is annoyingly hard working, responsible and now she has her eye on the prize. She is moving out of her Shangri-la fancy pants apartment in Venice to a much more affordable cute place on the Eastside *YAY, closer to me* today. She’s making the sacrifice so she can get my her dream car.

So, she is working extra shifts and saving all her dough to get her car in December. Aimee doesn’t have a Life List written out, but she’s mentally crossing off goals all the time. This year she was pretty busy getting her sleeve done, had a boudoir photo shoot, making her apartment ridiculously cute *Charlotte Ronson is her inspiration* and being a personal ATM machine to her 17 year old son, Holden. I am trying to convince her to start blogging since she did such a fantastic job guest blogging for me, but as I said before, she works all day and night. I just can’t imagine going to the amazing Camp Mighty without my BFF. So I’m making it official,

Aimee, will you please go to Camp Mighty with me next November?

We haven’t had a girl’s only vacation since Holden was 12 when we drove to Stanford. We can have a kick ass road trip in your fancy new ride and I’ll be the DJ *I know how much you love 80’s metal* I’ll help you write your Life List, we’ll ride Vespas and we’ll wear fabulous space outfits.

Camp Mighty (175)

Let’s do this girl!!!  PS Of course she said yes, but we may postpone until 2016 for super secret reasons *I promise to reveal in the future*