Family Vacation

New Press a Penny and Some Souvenir Coins

So as my last post indicated I’m back from my week in Europe. I have a lot of posts ahead of me from this trip. I’m starting my posting my souvenirs and then will share my trip journal.

I was able to pick up one press a penny in Cologne. Though there it’s press a .05 Euro. I also picked up some souvenir coins to add to my collection. I have some from Paris.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Belgium, Europe, Family Vacation, Germany, Gifts and Souvenirs, Mish Mash, Press A Pennies, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Postcards from Cologne

I just got back from a week in Europe. One of the places I visited was Cologne, Germany. I was only there a day, but I had the chance to pick up 3 postcards. More info from this trip coming soon.

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Categories: Europe, Family Vacation, Germany, Mish Mash, Postcards, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Almost Missed Our Train to Philly

2/20/14
You probably don’t know this about me but I’m either early or late. I’m rarely ever on time. My mother knows this about me and thus usually forces me to be anywhere from 1-2 hrs early for planes and trains.

I woke up at 7:30am and our train wasn’t leaving until 10:30am. In my mind that left 2 hrs to get ready, 30 mins to travel there, and 30 mins to wait. Somehow that didn’t work out. It was 9:45 and I was struggling to find a bag I needed. I found it and we ran out of the house to the subway. My mother was pissed at me. I kept mumbling I told you not to book an early train. I don’t do mornings. We run down the subway stairs and catch the packed train waiting to leave the station. We got on much to the annoyance of the people standing already. We waited and waited and waited and waited. The train wasn’t leaving the station. My mother kept shooting me dirty looks while I prayed for the doors to close. In my head I was picturing a repeat of my MET fiasco where it took 2 hrs to get uptown. I kept looking at my phone for the time. What the hell was going on? We were going to miss our train and it would be all my fault. The train doors finally closed at 10:05. The train ride should take 20-30 mins. We were screwed. By some miracle we got to Penn Station at 10:17. We had made it! I didn’t majorly screw us up.

Our train was on time and we took seats in the quiet car. The lady behind me spent the entire ride sneezing and coughing on me. To quote Jimmy Fallon’s character Sara, “ew!” I used the train ride to text, respond to work emails, and plan a video my friends and I will be filming next week.

We arrived in Philly around noon. We got out of 30th st station and we could immediately tell something was wrong. A street was blocked off with caution tape. There were police, fireman, and a huge crowd. There were more sirens in the distance. I took a picture because my friends and co-workers tease that I bring horrible events to places I go (war, revolution, bombings, natural disasters, etc). I sent it them and really figured it was just a bad fender bender, but no one was hurt because their was no ambulance, sense of urgency, flames, etc. We boarded Septa and headed to our hotel. A large transvestite fell on me when the train lurched. I smiled at the thought how normal that was when my non city friends would have freaked. I’m just glad I wasn’t crushed. They were the size of a football player.

We got off the train and were very confused. The entrance for our hotel was gone. We remembered a side entrance that was rarely used and headed there. That entrance was now the main entrance while they undergo restaurant renovation. We checked in and were happily surprised to find out that our room was ready despite being 4 hrs early and we had been upgraded due to my mom’s birthday. Our room was located on the 32nd floor, who is considered one of the club floors. The club lounge was located on 31. We headed to the lounge first only to find out it is only open on weekday mornings until 10:30am. It had a beautiful view though. Lots of different chairs to sit in. We headed back down to our room which was the exact same room as last time just 10 flights up. The room had two double beds, flat screen tv, desk, mini bar, Keurig, and a bathroom with a tub. The view is lovely from the room and it is very quiet.

We were hungry so we headed to Reading Terminal Market. We picked up a mini King Cake, a brioche roll, garlic crostinis, and an M&M cookie. I ate the roll in 10 seconds. I also got a christmas rubber ducky to add to my collection. We headed to an expensive thrift store so my mother could buy herself something nice as a birthday present to herself. Every time we go to this store they are closed. We arrive and they are closed again. However, this time there is a worker on his cell and he refuses to open up. Great work ethic! That annoyed my mom so we decided to move on. We did a lot of shopping. We went to Dollar General, Buffalo Exchange, Payless, H&M, Claire’s, and the shops at Liberty Place. We got free tea at Liberty Place from Tazo. We were going to go to Federal Doughnuts to see what the hype was about, but it looked like it was going to pour. We started to walk back to the area outside Reading Terminal. We did more shopping! I went to Burlington Coat Factory and Five Below.

At 4:45pm we headed back to Reading Terminal for discounted cookies. The problem was their dough wasn’t delivered on time so they didn’t have many cookies. My mom got a bunch, but I just got two. We headed across the street to Maggiano’s for dinner. We were so surprised that the place was almost empty. It’s usually swamped so much so that you face a 2 hour wait if you don’t make a reservation in advance. They sat us in a booth. We knew what we wanted to eat right away. We ordered fried zucchini and two margherita flatbreads (1/2 price for happy hour). They brought us out hot rolls. My mom ate most of the zucchini and some of the flatbread. I downed my food. All of a sudden the waiter, Edward, came out with cookies, a strawberry, and two candles for my mom. So sweet and awesome. I had put in my Open Table reservation that it was my mom’s birthday, but I totally doubted anything would be done. She was so surprised. I ordered an apple crostada and went in search of the waiter to sneakily give my credit card to so I could pay for dinner, but I couldn’t find him. Meanwhile, the couple in the booth next to us were having a bad night. The guy sat in cherries and the girl spent the whole time crying into her menu, then a tissue, and then her alfredo. We asked them to pack up the cookies and the remaining pieces of flatbread. We got matches for future candle lighting.

We got back to the room and were shocked to see two cupcakes and a card by the TV for my mom. The hotel had signed the card. We put a candle in the cupcake and she quickly made a wish. We settled in to watch the Olympics. She ate her cupcakes and I noshed on the leftovers.

Categories: Family Vacation, Food, Philadelphia, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vacations in Aruba

Growing up I went to Aruba every May and eventually it switched to every summer. I used to consider it my second home. Back then Aruba wasn’t well known and tourists didn’t flock to it in droves. It wasn’t unusual to run into celebrities who would travel there to escape the crowds. I have met more basketball teams than I can count. I’ve also met several actors and comedians. I met Sinbad in the pool.

My family and I used to stay at the Playa Linda. Our room had one bedroom, a living room with a pull out couch (where I slept), a living room, full bathroom, dining table, and full kitchen. There were two pools. One for kids and one for adults. Nothing special. A staircase led down to the beach with huts. The lobby had a small game room, a small store for essentials, a bathing suit shop, a tourist shop, and a restaurant. Back then there was nothing really around. There was a 2×1 Dunkin Donuts across the street, which made us very happy. On the beach there was a large hut that would have free coffee and cookies at 2pm everyday. The cookies were plain tea biscuits, but I used to love them. There was also a bar by the pool. The place eventually started to feel run down so we moved down to the Hyatt.

The Hyatt is where I have most of my memories. We used to stay on the top floor of the hotel (9th floor). We knew all the staff and they all knew us. They watched me grow up. The top floor has a desk for the concierge, a room with a computer (later addition) library and TV, there’s several areas to set up food and drinks, and another room with seating. We used to eat breakfast here everyday. Cookies would be put out in the middle of the day and I always looked forward to them. At night appetizers and dessert would be put out. Some nights we would make dinner out of the appetizers. Taco night used to be one of our favorite nights. I used to run down the hall in my pj’s at all hours of the day and night for food. I couldn’t imagine doing that now. The hotel had a casino in the lobby. My last year in Aruba I was 18 so I could gamble. I had fun playing the slots and black jack. There were several small shops in the lobby including a TCBY, which I went to every night. There’s also a salon and gym off of the lobby. There’s two restaurants on the lower level. Ruinas del Mar was the fancy one. We used to go there for brunch and for one fancy meal every trip. We used to order grilled salmon for dinner. The other restaurant, the Palms, is more low key. We would order lunch from them. I would either get a grilled cheese w/fries or a tuna pita w/ chips. There’s a bar and a smoothie station on the lower level as well. There are two giant pools with another bar off of the lower pool. There’s also a hot tub and a water slide. I spent many hours on that slide. I’ve won several competitions on that slide. Some for speed and some for tricks. I could do flips and turns on the slide. Beyond the pools there’s the beach. Every afternoon there would be Bingo. We never missed Bingo. The prizes included free drinks (alcohol and smoothies), money, free equipment rentals, etc.

A typical day for us would go like this:

1) Dad woke up to run and play tennis. He would save our pool chairs
2) Breakfast
3) Gym
4) Change for the pool
5) Pool
6) Cookies
7) Lunch
8) Bingo
9) Pool or walk to the other hotels
10) Change/shower
11) Appetizers
12) Finish changing
13) Dinner out of the hotel
14) Dessert in the hotel
15) TCBY and hang out in the lobby, casino, or walk the beach

My mom and I aren’t pool, beach, or sun people. So we often walk to the other hotels just for something to do. We would just walk or shop. We spent a lot of time in the Holiday Inn and Allegro/Occidental, since they were the closest hotels. The furthest we would would be to the Wyndham to the left or the Marriott to the right.

Once a trip my mom and I would take the bus into town and spend the day in Oranjestad. We would spend the day shopping for items to bring home to friends and coworkers.

After I turned 18 we stopped going. I wanted to see the world and going to Aruba every year prevented that. Now everyone has caught onto Aruba. The place has changed in the last 8 years. I probably wouldn’t recognize it anymore. I hear there are so many new hotels, restaurants, and shops.

I’ll do individual posts for some of my favorite places in Aruba.

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Hotel Map Back in the Day

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Updated Hotel Map

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When I was 18 this was the Hotel Map

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Sinbad and I back in the day

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At the mini golf place in Aruba

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Hyatt Lower Pool-Jump Time!

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Playing bingo and being silly

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Some hotel in Aruba

18! I can gamble. Hyatt’s Casino. I won $20.50 that night.

Hyatt Beach

Hyatt Pool Area

Ocean View from Hyatt Room

Ocean View from Hyatt Room

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Waiting outside Ruinas del Mar

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Beverly! She worked at Palms

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Palms Restaurant

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Did I mention I absolutely hate suntan lotion?

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Aruba from our balcony

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Coloring in my room

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She was the house keeper. I loved her.

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Hanging in our spot

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On the 9th floor with Angie

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Bingo Time!

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Hanging out with the amazing women that worked on the 9th floor

Aruba 1990

9th Floor

One of many iguanas on the island

Joking around on the lower level of the pool

Marriott

Hanging with an iguana

Waterslide time!

Aruba from our balcony

Categories: Aruba, Caribbean, Family Vacation, Photos, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Brunswick and Princeton

8/18/13

Today’s my day’s birthday. My mom and I woke up and checked out of the Heldrich. My dad picked us up and drove us to go food shopping in Princeton.

We love to shop in New Jersey because you can buy a month’s worth of groceries for the price of a week’s grocery in the city. We headed to Walmart. I couldn’t get over how cheap the items were. I got a nice bag for $5. We bought some food and then headed to Wegman’s to do our real shopping. The breads looked amazing today. I sampled some free hummus. My mom also had free animal crackers and tomatoes. We did a full shopping that should last us a month. Wegman’s has a wonderful selection and the prices are great. They have a huge bakery, deli, seafood, hot food, sub station, pizza area, coffee bar, salad bar, sushi section, organic section, international section, etc. The place is massive. They also have a liqueur area. They card everyone in your party though.

After Walgreen’s my mom and I ran to Target. I picked up chocolate because I was starving. We then ran to Michael’s. I love Michael’s especially around Halloween. I had to restrain myself from buying everything. I got a ton of mini gifts for friends for ridiculously cheap. We then got in the car and headed back to New Brunswick.

We checked into the Hyatt. We got our favorite room which has a large living room and a fridge. My mom and I ran out and bought a cheesecake sampler from Fresh Grocer. We got candles from the hotel. I ran and got matches from Rite Aid. We met up with my grandparents for dinner. We ate at Old Man Rafferty’s again. I got my grilled cheese, garlic bread, and a giant chocolate toffee cookie. It was bigger than my head. My dad got his usual veggie burger and fries. He ate my chips. My mom got a grilled chicken sandwich with fries. I ate some of her fries. My grandma got chicken salad in a pita with chips. My grandpa ate her chips. My grandpa got a BBQ chicken sandwich with a baked potato. The food was great but I was still hungry. The waiter was beyond slow. The woman I got my cookie from in the bakery asked me 5 times what I wanted while she pointed to it. She even threw out the first one I wanted. She didn’t speak much English. Very strange.

We passed some historical plaques on our way back to the hotel. We went back to the room and they ate the cheesecake. They also got free chocolate dipped fruit from the hotel. We kicked back and watched the Red Sox/Yankee game.

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Categories: Family Vacation, Food, History, New Brunswick, Princeton, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trenton and New Brunswick

8/17/13

We took Amtrak to the Trenton Transit Center. It was only a 25 minute ride. We crossed the platform to catch a 4:58pm New Jersey Transit train to New Brunswick. While we were waiting for our train we were listening to a woman who was trying to keep the Amtrak train from pulling out because her son was on the train without her. No idea how that happened. Our train pulled in early. It was a double decker. We sat in a 4 seater on the bottom level. We pulled out on time. We had a 30 minute train ride to New Brunswick. We pulled in, but the platform didn’t meet the train. We had to go to a different exit and they wheeled a platform to us.

I was super hungry so we immediately went to Old Man Rafferty’s to eat. I ordered a grilled cheese and a side of garlic bread. My grilled cheese came with chips, which my mom had. My garlic bread was a bit burnt, but I was so hungry it didn’t matter to me. The grilled cheese hit the spot. We were in and out in 30 minutes.

We headed up the block to the hotel. We normally stay at the Hyatt in New Brunswick, but the Heldrich was 50% off so we decided to try it. They accommodated our request for a high floor away from the elevators and ice machine. However, they put a $50 hold on your credit card as a security deposit. They release it once you have checked out and the room isn’t damaged. The room was average. Definitely didn’t feel like the 4 stars it was supposed to be. The TV wasn’t flat screen. The view was awful.

My mom and I went out to shop. We explored the new grocery store called Fresh Grocer. It was quite large and the prices were reasonable. The cupcakes looked good. We went back to the room and ate our cookies from Philly. One more day in Jersey then back to work. 😦

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Categories: Family Vacation, New Brunswick, Travel, Trenton, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1787 and 1968

8/17/13

I woke up and got dressed while watching Scandal. We checked out of the Loews. They told us there was free coffee in the restaurant. My mom added to her cup. We left our bags with the hotel.

We went straight to the National Constitution Center. I’ve been wanting to go to this museum since it opened. I never went because of time and the price. We decided to go this trip because there’s also a 1968 exhibit. So we felt like we were getting two museums for the price of one. I got in as a youth ($13). I always say I’m 17. My mom got in for the AAA adult rate ($12). The woman giving us our tickets was not nice and didn’t give us any info about the exhibits. I took all the brochures I could find (not knowing one of the items was a fold up constitution-if I had known I would have taken some for my students).

We decided to do the 1968 exhibit first. I was happy that they allowed photography in the exhibit. I had just taught a 1960’s class so I was excited to see everything I just taught. My mom felt like she was looking at her childhood. The exhibit covered the assassination of MLK and RFK. It also covered Vietnam, the Black Panthers, moon race, music, toys, clothes, the Olympics, etc. I liked the Vietnam helicopter, the clothes, the items from the kitchen where RFK was assassinated, and the albums.

After the 60’s exhibit we went upstairs to the We the People exhibit. It’s an interactive exhibit on the constitution. It focuses on the 3 different branches. There were sections where you could watch videos. You could be sworn in as the president. You can simulate the jury duty experience. There were election booths where you could vote on ideas and it would match you with a past president. They had judicial robes you could try on. There was even a jeopardy game you could play against people. I got all the questions right. There were little sections where you could listen to Paine, Jefferson, Adams, FDR, etc. I liked that they set up FDR’s audio section to resemble a fire side chat. My favorite part of the exhibit were all the artifacts. They had items from different presidents, judges, and other historical figures. They had items from the Dred Scott case, the Scopes trial, prohibition, Sandra Day O’Connors’ robe, etc. There was an old copy of the Emancipation Proclamation and one of the first public copies of the constitution.

Our next stop was Signers’ Hall. The hall is the same size as the room where they signed the constitution. The room is filled with the delegates from the convention. The statues are very life like. My mom and I posed with several of them. We both signed the constitution. Supposedly you can print a copy of your signed constitution in this room. I didn’t see anyone doing that. You also can give people a link at home and they can watch you in the room.

After that we took pictures of Independence Hall from the second floor. By the staircase they had plaques in the ground of when each state ratified the constitution. We headed down to the gift shop. I got some postcards. I wanted postcards from the 60’s exhibit but they didn’t have any. I got 3 press a pennies (that will be a separate post).

We caught the 1:30pm Freedom Rising show. Sandra Day O’Connor called it the best 17 minute civics lesson. I couldn’t agree more. The show was extremely engaging and made me feel very patriotic. I just kept wishing I was rich enough to bring my students to see these exhibits. They would love them!

We left and walked through the visitor center. I took a picture with Rocky. We crossed the street to the President’s house. I haven’t seen that area before. They found it in the last couple years when they were trying to build bathrooms for the liberty bell.

We walked over to the Graff House, which is where Jefferson drafted the declaration. It was closed, which I knew but I still took pictures from the outside. My mom and I did some more shopping at Ross stores. We went back to the hotel to pick up our bags. We hopped on the train and had about 40 mins to kill at the 30th Street Station.

We boarded our Amtrak train on time. We were able to get quiet car seats again this time we were facing the right direction. Time to head to New Jersey.
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Categories: Family Vacation, History, Philadelphia, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eating and Shopping in Philly

8/16/13
My mom and I caught a 2:10pm Amtrak train to Philly. We picked the quiet car and chose a two seater with a window. However, we chose seats that faced the wrong direction. I hate that!! I get motion sick. This meant I couldn’t read. I tried to sleep, but couldn’t. I closed my eyes and listened to music.

We pulled into Philadelphia 30th st station around 3:45pm. We crossed the street and caught the train into the heart of Philly. We took the train to 13th st and walked the half a block to our hotel. We were going to try the Loews Hotel for the first time. Every time we come to Philly we either stay at the Hyatt at Penn’s Landing or the Hyatt Bellevue. The lobby was really elegant. We were checked in right away. The lady at the desk couldn’t have been nicer. They had free lemonade by check in. On our way to the elevator we noticed the giant vault door. We took the elevators to 22. We got upgraded to a deluxe double. We asked for a room away from the elevators and the ice machine and they actually listened to us. We had room 2212. Right away I noticed they left us gifts. There was a note welcoming us, a snow globe, and a mini LOVE sign. What a lovely touch! The room had a nice view of the bridge and the city. The decor was modern, but classy. The bathroom could easily fit two people at the same time. The shower was also roomy. They even gave us cotton balls and Q-Tips. They gave us two ropes made of silk and terry cloth. There was even a magnifying mirror. The windows seemed to be sound proof and the ceilings were pretty high. There was a coffee machine with coffee from Emeril. Everywhere I looked there were outlets. Finally a hotel that has a lot of outlets and in sensible places. The room had a flat screen tv with 63 channels. We dropped our stuff off and went out to shop.

We went to Burlington Coat Factory and Five Below. We then dashed to Reading Terminal Market to catch our favorite cookies on sale. We wound up getting 7 cookies and a marshmallow cup from the Pennsylvania General Store. My mom got a blueberry fritter from the Amish. We then went back to Burlington. We also did Claire’s and Pay Half.

We had 6pm reservations at Maggiano’s but I called and pushed it back to 6:15pm because we got stuck on line at Pay Half. The restaurant wasn’t too busy when we got there. We got the slowest waiter. We ordered a flatbread pizza, fried zucchini, and an apple crostada. I had the flatbread, which was yummy as usual. My mom had the fried zucchini. They usually give us 8 pieces of zucchini. We got about 5. I had one piece and it was good as usual. My mom had the bread and thought it was delicious. The apple crostada came and it was perfect. My mom had the ice cream that was on top. Dinner was great.

We went back to shopping. We hit K Mart and Walgreens. We then headed back to the hotel to drop our bags off. Since it was still light out and we wanted to walk off our dinner we decided to walk around the Rittenhouse Square area. We window shopped at several closed stores. We stopped in H&M and Insomnia Cookies. At 9pm everything shut down so we walked back to the hotel.

We came back to the room and ate our cookies. They never fail to disappoint. They are definitely the best cookies I’ve ever had. I had my chocolate dipped butterscotch cookie and my regular butterscotch cookie. My mom had her butterscotch cookie and her turtle cookie. We tried to watch TV, but the batteries in the clicker died. We called down and they sent a guy up with a new remote. We settled in and eventually went to bed.
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Categories: Family Vacation, Food, Philadelphia, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Voodoo Time in Portland

6/14/13

I still wasn’t feeling well when I woke up. This time neither was my mom. We both had to get ready quickly and head to the train station. We had to catch a train to Portland. We walked from our hotel to the bus depot and were told the bus we needed could pull into any lane, which is stupid. The guy working there told us just to pick a lane and if it was wrong then we should run at the last minute to the correct lane. That’s not very easy when you have suitcases. We picked a lane and sure enough it was the wrong one. We had to run to another one. The bus left us off at the International District. We spotted the entrance to Chinatown and then we walked to the train station.

The station was very clean and white. My mom tried to pay to upgrade us to business class, but it  was sold out. We waited on line for about an hour so we could get our first pick of seats in coach since they are assigned. We asked for the middle of the car on the right side. Our train  finally pulled in and we settled into our seats. We got good seats. The people behind us didn’t have a window and they had a baby behind them.

The train ride was long (almost 4 hrs) and boring. The train car smelled like poop. We later found out that this was because the baby had been sitting with poop in his diaper. The mother put the baby on the train seat to change him exposing the fill diaper of poop. Gross! I snapped pictures of the water and mountains along the ride since there was nothing else to do.

Tacoma, WA

Museum of Glass

Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Anderson Island

Longview, WA

Carrolls, WA

Vancouver, WA

Portland

Portland’s train station is very old and has a great look to it. We had to walk to our hotel from the train station. It was about a 13 minute walk and it wasn’t very pleasant. There were a lot of bums, drunks, and druggies around. It was daylight, but it didn’t feel very safe. My mom was not happy. The neighborhood our hotel was in was not very good. A lot of undesirables walking around. However, we were across the street from Voodoo Doughnut.

We checked into our hotel, which was an Embassy Suites. The hotel is historic and JFK was even there once. The lobby was beautiful and our room was quite big. We had a living room, bathroom, and a separate bedroom. There was even a microwave and refrigerator. We were on the top floor, which was nice. Our room wasn’t facing one of the main streets so it was very quiet. I ate some snacks, which was first meal of the day even though it was late in the day at that point.

We then headed out to Voodoo Doughnut. There was a line but it went quickly. We ordered 3 doughnuts and 1 postcard. I wanted to buy more postcards but they were extremely overpriced. I bought a dirt doughnut and a no name. My mom got their famous maple bacon bar. The place was so cool and I wish I could have tried them all! We dropped off our box of doughnuts in the hotel. My mom ate her doughnut and I had one bite of the dirt one.

Dirt and No Name

We walked to the famous Powell’s books. IT WAS HUGE!!!! I felt like the place never ended. There was room after room after room of books. They actually had maps it was so big. Then we went to Buffalo Exchange which is a vintage store. After that we headed to Byways Cafe. It was on the first Diners, Drive-in’s, and Dives episode that I saw. I have been wanting to go for years. I wanted their french toast. However, our timing sucked so we couldn’t go for breakfast. So I just went to take a picture.

After that we headed to Whole Foods where I bought a sandwich for dinner. The neighborhood was so much nicer than the one we were in. We headed back to our hotel for the Manager’s Reception. They had free popcorn, chips, dip, pretzels, and drinks. My mom made that her dinner while I sat with her and ate my sandwich. It was still early and normally we would have went for a walk but the neighborhood prevented us from doing so. We went back to the room and ate our doughnuts while watching a Law and Order SVU marathon.

Categories: Family Vacation, Food, Portland, Seattle, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keep Portland Weird

6/15/13

I woke up on the later side today. My mom and I got ready and packed everything up since our flight was later that night. We decided to check out right away rather than come back later to do so. We left our bags with the hotel and headed to Portland’s famous Saturday Market.

The market is only a couple blocks from our hotel. It’s filled with a lot of art, food, and hippie vendors. It takes up about three blocks. We browsed for a bit and really didn’t see anything we liked. There was one vendor that turned bottle caps into rings and necklaces. I thought her stuff was cool so I bought a $5 ring. We walked along the river and saw another part to the market that was fenced off because you had to pay. We decided not to do that part.

The sign “Keep Portland Weird” wasn’t kidding. I thought people in NYC were strange. Portland has us beat. I saw every hair color imaginable. I saw more tattoos and piercings in one day than I have seen in my whole life. There were people in corsets, leather bondage outfits, tutus, tie dye, bras, bathing suits, costumes, etc. There is honestly no dress code in Portland.

We headed over to Pioneer Place which is a big mall. We browsed for a bit. Then we went to Ross where I found a skirt and shirt I liked but ultimately left. We then had a decision to make. We could go to Pittock Mansion or the Oregon Historical Society. I knew my mom would love Pittock but we would have to take a bus and then walk a mile uphill. I really wasn’t in the mood for it. Plus the timing would have been close. We would only have 45 minutes there. So we chose the Historical Society. Our next debate was about whether or not to walk. That got settled for us when we met a nice disabled man at the light rail stop. He explained how the public transportation system worked and talked to us about Portland until the light rail came.

The Historical Society was about 3 blocks away from the stop so that was convenient. The tickets for the museum were pretty cheap but we were under the impression that the museum was small so my mom decided to sit on the sofa and wait for me. We figured why spend two fees if the museum was going to be just ok. However, the museum turned out to be fantastic! We got very lucky and arrived on the day when two special exhibits opened. The two exhibits were Windows on America and For All the World to See.

The first exhibit was incredible! It contained hundreds of artifacts belonging to Presidents. I had never seen most of them which is saying something since all I do is go to museums. Some of the things they had included:

  • An exact reproduction of the Declaration of Independence
  • George Washington’s handwritten plans for Mount Vernon
  • Official copy of the Thirteenth Amendment
  • Swatch of fabric from Lincoln’s Fords Theater Chair
  • The letter, pierced by a bullet, which was in Teddy Roosevelt’s pocket during an assassination attempt in 1912
  • Only copy of the Atlantic Charter signed by Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • U.S.S. Antares Log from the Attack on Pearl Harbor
  • Truman’s Inaugural Top Hat
  • John F. Kennedy’s Oval Office Table and Rocking Chair
  • The only camera that caught Ruby killing Oswald

I could have spent hours looking at the exhibit. No one told me that photography wasn’t  allowed. I had taken two pictures when I got yelled at by a security officer. He then spent the entire time following me through the exhibit which was beyond annoying! I really wanted pictures of the artifacts so I could show my students. He left my side for two seconds and I snuck a picture of the camera mentioned above.

After that exhibit I headed to the For All the World to See exhibit which is on the Civil Rights Era. The most moving thing from that exhibit was the original image of Emmett Till’s face after he was beaten to death.

After that I headed upstairs to the Oregon section, which covered the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Oregon Trail.

We decided to walk back to our hotel. We passed the Heathman which is a fancy hotel in Portland. We also went into a couple stores and we found our first rite aid. I wanted a pharmacy so I could buy a cheap cold water. The pharmacy also happened to be selling the Ken dolls that they use in the Most Popular Girls in School YouTube show.

After that we passed the two areas where there are food trucks. Most of them were closed and there were a ton of super shady people hanging out. We quickly left the area and stopped at a vintage shop. We decided to do Voodoo Doughnut again. The line was much longer this time and it was much hotter outside than yesterday. The line took about 40 minutes. My mom got an Old Dirty Bastard which is absolutely loved. I got a Diablo Rex. I didn’t like it. Their yeast doughnuts are much better than their cake doughnuts. I wish I could go back and order something else.

Old Dirty Bastard

Diablo Rex

We went back to the hotel and picked up our bags. We walked to the light rail red line to the airport. We waited and waited and waited. While we waited we watched all the Portland people in weird clothing walking around. The light rail finally came and at that point my mom and I were both tired from standing. The light rail was packed. There weren’t seats for us. We were standing near a group of very strange teenagers. The girl closest to us had pink hair, a black bra, a floral ill fitting skirt, and black wooden stakes through her ears. She goes, “I need to take out my earrings because my mom doesn’t like me wearing them.” My mom whispers to me, “but her mom is ok with her leaving the house in a bra?”

The ride seemed long because we were so tired. People had boxes of voodoo doughnuts that they were going to bring on the plane as carry on’s. There were a bunch of shops and places to eat before security, which I think is stupid. If you buy any liquids in these places then you have an issue at security. Plus everyone wants to get through security right away so they know they made it to their gate with plenty of time. That’s when people want to walk around and be entertained.

Security was a breeze. We found the United Club without the help of the two people in security who were snotty to us. The club just had crackers, cheese, Milanos, and shortbread cookies. There were also a handful of crappy magazines. We had about 2 hours until our flight. So we ate and read. The left the club to buy two water bottles for the plane.

We eventually boarded and had someone in the seat next to us. They promised us entertainment again and then said for $8 you could buy it. So stupid. Nothing is free anymore. We caved and paid for it. I watched Oz and Beautiful Creatures. We hit a lot of turbulence and I kept praying for us to land. We wound up landing really early.

The sun was just starting to rise. It was beautiful to see. Time to take a bus to the train and walk 15 mins home. Beyond exhausted after my first real red eye.

Categories: Family Vacation, Food, History, Oregon, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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