Day Three: Spice Souks and Desert Excursions
Day Three: Spice Souks and Desert Excursions
Day two: Dubai City Tour and High Tea at the Burj Al Arab.
Dubai Mall and Spa Treatment at the Palms.
Having Brunch with myself at Eveleigh.
378 days + 158 stories + 2 notebooks + 1 idea = a book ready for publishing 🙂
The day started with chocolate croissants. Yummy.
I like how after 5 or 6 years, some things don’t change. Case in point, the oldest shop in Barcelona, Cereria Subira is still there. It’s a candle shop (a little boring) – but the candles are amazing. Quebo… the fantastic sandwich place – not there…. now is some deadbeat corner store. Oh well.
Chocolate break at Cacao Sampaka (Thanks Sara!)
And yes, FC Barcelona lost to Real Madrid and couldn’t get reservations for Dos Pallilos – so we checked out this other restaurant called Komomoto Taberna Japonesa Peruana instead, it had great lychee + cava drinks. So wonderful.
Barcelona Day 0:
Got in after a long flight from London on British Airways. Watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Twilight Breaking Dawn: Part One. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo… was so graphic (yikes!) but i can see why Rooney Mara ended up with an Oscar nod.
Wanted to go to Dos Palillos but it was too busy… settled on late night flat bread pizza and wine.
This picture was something we found in a dark alley.
Happy Birthday to me!!
These are my custom birthday cookies made by the fabulous Evon at Cookievonster
Food around the world. Normally, i don’t like ham. But this was the best ham i have ever tasted…. Thanks Cafe Tortoni.
MANSLATIONS!!! Best book to decoding the secret language of men….thank you Jeff Mac!
I’m not going to ruin the book for you but there is this thing called the Anger Smokescreen that a guy used on me… multiple times actually….
“It goes like this: You catch him doing something wrong; you have all the evidence; and yet he flips out as if you’re the one being outrageous. He’s banking on you not being confident enough to defend your point in the face of furious anger” (or in my case a wagging water bottle).
“So what he’ll do is this: He’ll get twice as mad at you as you are at him. His hope is that you’ll suddenly wonder if it isn’t all your fault after all.”
“Usually the guys who are heavy into this one date women with terrible enough self-esteem that is actually works – he can actually convince these ladies that it’s all their issue and he’s the victim. Oftentimes they will even apologize to him!”
Wow… sounds all too familiar doesn’t it 😉
I’ve outgrown the cupcake shot… this is me now.
ps: Thanks Fabrice!
Today i checked out the Sense Spa at the Rosewood Georgia Hotel. It was awesome. So awesome, in fact i’m typing this post wearing a new neck pillow I bought at the spa. Spas are fun. Here are my Vancouver winners:
Best Spa Lounge/Best Steam Shower: Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. It’s huge and there is a choice of three lounges. The patio is amazing. I believe the steam shower has 16 shower heads (or something like that).
Best Spa Food: This one is kind of hard, but the Absolute Spa at the Century actually gave me a full salad one time. Runners up include Spa Utopia and Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Pacific Rim where you can find an assortment of nuts, dried fruit, fresh baked cookies and juice/tea.
Best Group Spa: I’ve gone with a 5 girl friends and Spa Utopia accommodates groups well.
Best Quick manicure/pedicure: My go to is Pure Nail Bar. Clean, good job and cheap. Done and done.
Best scrub: Miraj Hammam. Steam and then a super scrub. You end up smelling sweet and spicy.
Best Relaxation Spa/Best Spa to spot Celebrities: Chi Spa at the Shangri-la. You get your own room complete with a fireplace and steam shower. So tranquil.
Best Spa to bring your boyfriend to introduce him to spas: Maybe his hands are dry, or his feet need some attention. Skoah, is the best non spa out there. There is also the Absolute Spa at the Hotel Vancouver which is Canada’s 1st men’s concept spa which is worth a mention.
Day one was a right off. Day two of the conference was the best. We heard Dr. Atul Gawande, Dr. Robert Cima and my favorite speaker of the entire conference hands down was Dr. Martin Makary from Johns Hopkins. He talked about the culture of safety and transparency in health care. It was so interesting. The best part is that he is on face book… i think i’m going to add him.
After the reception, we went for a run to Mike’s Pastry for some Cannoli. 4 different kinds. It evens out the run for sure.
Let’s talk about Boston and how great it is… the city is amazing. It’s pretty humid now. I have a new job that took me to Boston for a conference. My new work BFF and i decided to be roomies at the Fairmont Copley Plaza which ended up being really fun. Unfortunately for two of the nights one of use slept on a cot because they screwed up the reservation. Oh well.
The red eye flight wasn’t bad expect i had a runny nose and i couldn’t breathe. Minor detail.
On our first day we went to Cambridge and spent some time around Harvard. Then we took the train and walked one of my favorite restaurant in Boston. The Barking Crab where I had a Lobster Roll. So fantastic.
The other day i was proposed to. In a dream. With earrings. Now, the majority of ladies want a rock to go on the finger. Not me. I want engagement earrings. Preferably something that goes with everything because i will wear them all the time. So i decided to do some pre shopping. You know, see what’s out there. Here are the choices in no particular order. Surprise me.
The Brit Museum.
Chandeliers. Can be both tacky or classy. Here is a set in Bath.
Kevin thought that the cashier where we picked up to non-helpful guide of the Tower of London was cute. I think the audio guide was like 4 pounds or something like that… biggest waste of money ever.
Horses at the tower of London.
The gates at Buckingham Palace.
Prep for the London Olympics at St. Pancras Stn.
The London leg of the trip started with a trip to Bath after the 8 hour plane ride. Thank goodness i was flying United, i managed to score three seats to myself. I ended up half sleeping half writing this confession email to someone. Not good.
We stayed at the Halcyon Hotel which was perfect for 2 nights as it was very close quarters. The hotel was walking distance to the train station which was very convenient. Also very convenient, the Marks & Spencer. I love going to groceries stores abroad… they always have interesting eats.
Here is a picture from the Roman Bath.
I love Chicago. Chicago is like the cousin of NYC. You can walk around. Not get lost. People are friendly. Interesting architecture (Frank Loyd Wright) and great food. Last spring, I went with a bunch of guys. But this time it was all about doing things i wanted to do.
Where did i stay? The Trump Tower. Yup. I have a letter from Donald himself. OK, so it might be a form letter… but i don’t care. The room was incredible and it was the size of people’s condos in Vancouver (600 sq ft) complete with a kitchen and a TV in the bathroom mirror (fantastic).
My first nights’ dinner was at Graham Elliot. So fantastic. I need to go back and try the tasting menu for sure. The popcorn sample at the beginning of the meal was so scrumptous i think that i totally ate our tables’ portion. I think that i had the crab cake. It was amazing. Bravo.
The next few days were spent eating (some more) a lot of drinking and shopping. I heart Potbelly’s sandwiches and WowBao’s hot Asian buns. They definitely take the fast casual (someone taught this terminology and I’m giving you credit) to another level. My favorite breakfast in Chicago has to be at the Old Fashioned Pancake House. The sweet pecan pancakes are spectaular. I totally recommend it.
Enough about food, more importantly I got to test out my shopping skills on a coworker. Although she wears scrubs most of the time, she managed to pick up a few things to enhance her wardrobe at JCrew (I love JCrew!) . It’s tragic that she can’t wear normal street clothes more often, she has the body type that 90% of girls would kill for. Not only does she have a great body, but she is the sweetest resident ever so you can’t even secretly hate her!
Of course, bought a few things from Anthropologie. A long blue dress, a pair of jeans and this cute equestrian hip bag thing. I can’t wait until they open here. Maybe I’ll apply for a job.
I fell in love with these butterscotch patent leather pumps (Prada) at Nordstrom’s, but a lady bought my size and they were sold out nationwide. They are the perfect height and shade. I looked everywhere for them, but there was none to be found. (A little update is that i found them online and they are making their way to Vancouver shortly. Thanks Neiman Marcus!)
One night after dinner we all went bowling (10Pin Chicago) which was interesting to see who was a closet bowler. I believe we actually got flashed at one point.
On Friday night after this wrap up dinner, we checked out the Crimson Lounge, where we found out that not everyone knows how to play spin the bottle. After the lounge we found our way Mother Hubbard’s where we made nice with a guy named John who claimed he was moving from San Fransisco but he had a Midwest accent. I don’t know how that worked out. But he managed to get us inside and bought us a round of shots. Which was not a good idea considering i needed to be sober enough to catch a flight to London later that afternoon.
Next up… why Elena should not drink alcohol and text/email.
LOVE the photobooth at my birthday. So much fun!
Here is the equation…
I’m Single + My friend who owns a restaurant (Terracotta) wants Thursday traffic = Speed Dating Event
Sounds simple…. but it wasn’t.
First of all, you need a mix of people. Do not get your friends to invite their friends because everyone just knows each other. The 6 degrees of separation turns into 2 and you end up wondering why you weren’t invited to a certain party when everyone starts talking.
Second, the room needs to accommodate a large amount of people who all will be talking at the same time. I think i lost my voice because i was screaming so much. There needs to be a flow to the room. People shouldn’t have to wonder where they have to go next.
Let’s talk about hand shakes and lotion. They go hand and hand. I know it’s winter and it’s cold outside. But the dryness of guys’ hands was incredible. Also, if you were planning to shake some persons hand…. shake it firmly – no wimpy half handshakes please.
The guys weren’t bad. There were some nice guys. Maybe 1 that i would consider hanging out again. 1 out of 20… not bad. There was one guy who kept checking his phone and could not do any amount of eye contact. The same guy asked me if i liked guys to wear boxers or briefs. Really?
The topics of conversation were light… but I will say this, i agree with the play This. Asking a person, what they do really equates to… how much money do you make and do i make more you?
My friends friend was telling me he thought that there were alot of girls with walls up. While washing my hands in the bathroom, this girl approached me and asked if i was having i fun. I was like, “Sure… it could be worse” Her reply was, “You’re a really good hearted person.” I didn’t think it was THAT bad. Or maybe I’m that nice.
Ok in honor of my birthday in 2 days… i have cut down the list… made it more succinct…
2) Loves everything about me
3) Witty, Funny, Goofy when appropriate
4) Does not lie, can tell the truth, honest, trustworthy
5) Can handle confrontation, forward/direct
6) Ambitious, will enrich my life, encouraging and supportive
7) has self esteem, not too cocky
8) well paying job
9) has hobbies, reads
10) friendly, affectionate, PDA
11) open minded thinks outside to box, creative, adventurous and likes to try new things
13) compassionate/understanding/patient/ thoughtful/respect
14) good communication
16) short hair
17) Taller than 5″9
18) lean (not skinner than me)
19) keep up with hygiene
20) loves to travel
21) great relationship with friends/family
22) has a sense of style
24) healthy, likes to exercise
I like this. It’s a nice change from the usual Billy IKEA bookcase.
TOP 5 Things I learned on my trip…
1) Learn something new. Sounds simple? It is, but really travelling to a whole new country gives you ample opportunities to try something completely different. Learn something new and enhance your travelling experience. As much as i loved shopping, my feet needed a break. I took a short class on Ikebana (Japanese floral design) at the Ichiyo School of Ikebana in Nakano and learned about technique and function. Very interesting and fun!
TOP 5 Things I learned on my trip:
2) If you like it, just buy it. Ok. There is this pair of knee high boots that my friend and I fell in love with. Sure they were $600 but they are so fantastic. Alas, they are suede. Rain and Suede do not mix. So i did the sensible thing and left them back in Tokyo. Wrong! Now, after emailing the designer – i have sourced out two people who could potentially buy the boots and ship them over. Sheesh. Should have just bought them when i had the chance.
TOP 5 Things I learned on my trip…
3) Divide and conquer. I think that if you are travelling with a bunch of people or even just one other person, you should eventually part ways and do stuff on your own. It might not be all the time, but giving yourself a break from your travel partner might be healthy. You may end up fighting because you spend too much time together (it’s happened to me on previous trips). Think of the shopping ground you can cover!
TOP 5 Things I Learned on My Trip:
4) Pack an extra bag. Ok, this one is kind of lame and usually i do pack a foldable extra bag in my luggage BUT this time i didn’t. The foldable bag serves as a refuge for dirty laundry and shoes at the end of the trip. Even, when you think you are not going to buy alot or whatever… you will need the extra bag. I spent a good chunk of time looking for an inexpensive bag that could serve as my carry on – i ended up using this free bag i got when i bought my swimsuit from Swimco. I fell in love with Porter (which they are selling here for more than double the price they were in Tokyo at the Block) and Sazaby bags. I should have just bought one!
TOP 5 Things i learned on my trip…
5) Sometimes travel without an itinerary can be helpful. I usually plan things to a T especially if i haven’t been to the place before which can be draining … but nothing is more staisfying than crossing off things off the old list. Or in my case, it would be a spreadsheet. Having no itniterary allows you to be spontaneous, and if you want to spend more time in a certain place – or if things were closed you will always have time to check them out.
When i was in Tokyo, i was lost. Thankfully my trust friend knows the city like the back of her hand. But without my map or guidebook, i was really at the mercy of my friend. It definitely makes you more dependant for sure.
No matter how many times you visit a place – things can always change. Today we hit the area of Harajuku and realized that alot of the stores had either closed down or moved locations. I guess it was totally a sign of the Japanese economy. Kitson and TopShop have found their way to the streets of Tokyo – unfortunately both had a lame selection of goods. Of course we had to visit Marc by Marc Jacobs and I did contemplate purchasing a plaid scarf but I actually couldn’t justify the shopping purchase.
The day started by visiting a “donut shop” called Love Sweets Antique. The donuts were actually flavored ice cream. I ended up having a green tea cream puff instead. After purchasing a jacket at Laforet we had some ramen. Though I’m not a big fan of pork – I love noodles it filled us up so we could tackle Kiddy land, Anna Sui and Omotesando Hills.
Did you know prescription eyeglasses are cheap in Tokyo? Not designer brands but at the local eye glass shops you can buy fashionable frames, lenses and get an eye exam for less than $100. We checked out Zoft. I may have to purchase a pair.
We walked from Harajuku to Shibuya where we crossed at a famous crosswalk where you can cross diagonally. We had dinner at this super cheap/ super fast place called Pepper Lunch. You buy a ticket and then your beef meal cooks on a hot plate in 4 minutes or less. I got beef with rice and corn. So tasty.
After dinner we checked out one more department store where I found a Tsumori (local designer) wallet that may replace my old one. Can’t wait. Today we will be heading over to Shinjuku for more department store shopping…. i think that i need to buy another bag.
After a really early flight from Manila, we were off to Tokyo! Yeah! I love Tokyo. So different than any other large city around. There are even subtle differences, for example…. a little boy on the train wanted to see out the window. Normally, at home the boy would jump on the seat and away we go… but not here. The boy took off his shoes to kneelon the seat to see out the window. Amazing respect for the environment.
So many people everywhere. So busy. It’s acutally kind of nice.
We checked into are hotel and settled into our very small room. We aren’t at the Shangri-la anymore! But this is Tokyo…. why would we stay in our room?
For dinner we met up with some of my friends friends at an izakaya. Not so smokey thank goodness…. the food and the company was outstanding. Bacon wrapped scallops with asparagus, Caesar salad with noodles and egg, and Cassius cola.
We sat and talked for hours about the engagements and popping the question. Their stories gave me shivers. It’s interesting to talk to couples from all walks of life of how they got together. For the longest time i thought that i should hold off on marriage until i complete some of my goals (get my own TV show, buy my first place etc. etc.), but since the breakup was i really reconsidering my stance on everything, including marriage? I don’t know. Actually… i do know what it is. I think that I’m kind of worried that because i have become so goal orientated things that want in the future (marriage, 1 or no children) might pass me by. Funny thing is, i want it all and i have no doubt in my mind that i will get it all. So this feeling that i have is almost like a passing cloud.
It’s almost midnight here…. tomorrow is shopping (therapy) better rest up.
Day 6: Boracay Beach
Here is a video of our last day on the beach. So beautiful. I love how the water is so clear, no bark branches or garbage. There is something calming and soothing about crashing waves. Very healing.
We are about to leave this magnificent resort and onto the fast pace of Manila and then onto the even faster pace of Tokyo. Can’t wait….shopping therapy….
Day 4: Four Hour Spa Treatment
I slept for the entire night for the first time since I arrived in in the Philippines. Usually I’m up around 3 or 5am But not this night. Even with my sporadic cough, I was out….
After hanging poolside for two hours (my first sunbathing session ever) we were escorted into our spa villa for our four hour Himalayan Blue Ritual. To get the time slot we wanted, we had to booked as a couple.
In the changing room I put my housecoat on the counter as I took a steam shower. When I came out, my friend told me that she smelled something burning and she found that I had put my housecoat on an incense burner and it had burned a hole through the sleeve! Eek. We hid the evidence under a mass of towels like little girls.
After the shower, we had a Sea salt scrub on this huge heated marble stone. Note: salt and shaving do not mix. I had shaved my legs in the morning so my legs were burning. Two and half hours later, we had a red mud body mask and an avocado cucumber hair mask. Then before we knew it, we were covered with towels because the fire alarm went off (no one said we had to shut off the steam shower) – oops!
Here’s a question…when was the last time you have been naked with your friends? There is a purpose to this question… Read on. We were escorted to sit in a cool bath of water with oranges and rose petals to wash off the hot mud. There we sat not looking at each other for 15 min in our perspective corners as we ate fresh fruit. The ambiancewas rather romantic that it was funny. We thought it was funny. We laughed the whole time we were in the tub. So not spa etiquette. After showering, we had an epic massage that put both of us in comatose state and we floated back to our room.
Day 5: The beach
So I had to get my nails redone after I realized that my concoction of bug spray and sunscreen was peeling my nail polish. Yuck.
We walked to the beach from our room and for 3 hours and watched this ridiculous couple do a “photo shoot”. Each pose was done twice on a left and right angle. I couldn’t believe the guy who was side lying in the sand with one hand behind his head and his other hand caressing the sand. Later, the couple got adventurous using the surrounding rock wall to lean against and pose. We continued to watch from afar eating our Halo Halo. I had to take a picture for some evidence which i will post later.
Today we checked out the town of Boracay where I had a really fresh mango shake. Normally it wouldn’t be a big deal – but this tasted like real mangoes not like some canned processed variety. So delicious.
Can I just give a shout out to all foreign grocery stores? I love them! There is something to be said about markets that sell spaghetti flavoured chips and lychee flavoured everything. Once we stocked up on food essentials at the grocery store we headed back to the secluded resort where I watched some Curtis Stone rerun (did you know he is dating Lindsay Price?) and snacked on some noodle soup. Such bliss.
Then came the bikini. Now I haven’t worn bikini ever and I thought this trip would be the perfect opportunity to spend 1.5 hours at Swimco to find one suitable black one. I found one and it made it’s debut all around the resort from sauna to spa pool. I wore it for most of the day – a very un Elena thing. But that’s what this trip is about right? Trying things I wouldn’t normally do. Expanding horizons.
At night we had a private yoga class and ended the night with some dinner. As we were leaving the spa where we had the yoga class, the receptionist asked where our boyfriends were. She said next time we should bring them. Lately, I would have indulged in the whole break up story etc etc and I would have felt angry or hurt. But after having such an amazing day, I kind of had no feeling about her comment. I actually agreed with her. Next time, it would be different. And I couldn’t wait.
So my aunt made me go to church with her. Except they said everything in visayas. I just stood there pretending I knew what was going on. I was actually hungry when we got back and so I saw a loaf of bread that my aunt bought earlier in the day. It was totally sealed so i was OK. For those of you who don’t know, Filipinos make really great baked goods (among other things) so I thought why not. I took a slice and sat down to watch Filipino idol. Then I looked down at the slice and realized there were ants all over it!
Normally at home I would have had a small freak out, but I decided that I would try to handle it myself. Until I realized that the ants were inside the holes of the bread. I put the bread in a sealed bag in the garbage. Though my aunt lives in probably the most modern house in all of Sibalom (hot water shower, flushing toilets, air conditioning), there are still bugs around. Not so much,as there are lizards too. By the way just when I thought everything changes, I had a lizard spotting before church. There were two of them – so one of them has to Iggy ( I named him last time).
On the way to Boracay we stopped at the Tibiao Fish Spa where you dip our feet into a a pool of a thousand Therafish who eat the dead skin off your feet. You go from a pool of small fish, to eventually a pool of fish that are like small trouts. Very tickly.
After the 2 hour drive to Boracay, my friend and i arrived at the amazing Shangri-la resort. We spent a good few hours catching up. This is the first vacation where i have no planned a thing. I didn’t even exchange my money! Should be , interesting… As we came up from the private speed boat to the magnificent lobby I couldn’t help but to feel grateful. Is this the beginning of how my life should be?
One last picture of me delivering balloons to Impression Entertainment. Crazy security check: one to get into the door, one to to the elevator bank and another one to ride the elevator.
Here is another picture at Warner Bros. Delivery. Check out my balloons!
News flash… balloons and hot weather do not mix. Nor do balloons and compact cars. We were told NOT to put the balloons in the trunk as they would bust, so that meant my dear friend drove ALL the way with zero visibility. Boo.
We attempted to deliver to a management company who was nothing more than a mailbox. Thank goodness we found that out. Anyway, we quickly found a casting agent who was working at Warner Bros. and we made our first delivery there. Here is a picture a the Warner Bros. Drop off/Delivery bay.
The second part to the whole trip is the Balloon delivery. I pin pointed some managers/producers who i wanted to work with and they got a balloon bouquet delivered to them along with a package of my info. I found this company online (Any Occasion Balloons) who was fairly close to the hotel and they were willing to deliver 6 of the 10 bouquets. The gals there were so helpful. Here is a picture on an unfinished bouquet sideways (I tried to fix it) I think that there were going to have more star balloons.
The other 4 were delivered by us which ended up making things a tad more interesting. My friend, who was the nicest most understanding driver EVER drove from Santa Monica all the way to Burbank in traffic. Yikes!
I’m pretty sure that this was Friday morning. The Urth Cafe. So fantastic. Our hotel was so near, we technically could have walked to it. The Urth Cafe specializes in organic coffee and food. As my friend suggested (good idea), i slipped some of my postcards into the plastic holder. See if you can spot them.
Santa Monica Pier. Good stuff. A little cold but still a nice spot. The beach goes on for miles not like the 2 m of “beach” we have in English Bay. It was actually pretty cold when we went, but the beach air was refreshing.