Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2009 travel resolutions

I'm a lucky girl. Check out my 2008 calendar of trips:

January: Des Moines, D.C.
February: London, Paris
March: NYC, Vegas
April: Charlotte
May: Fayetteville, WV
June: San Diego, Louisville
August: San Francisco
October: NYC
November: Thailand
December: San Diego

For 2009, I already have two trips planned and BOTH are with Phil...yay! We have our Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh in February and are going to Dayton in March for the first round of March Madness (my excellent Xmas present to my beloved).

My Bangkok miles finally got recorded, so I scored Continental Silver Elite status until Feb. 2010. Woo hoo!

I also hope to get to NYC bunches of times, get back to Chicago, hit a couple new states, visit D.C. to see my friend Carli, finally get to Tokyo (who's in?) and maybe even Peru if I can convince my friend Sarah to take the plunge.

Better start squirreling away all my Xmas cash stat!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Indie's, India...same thing, right?

As soon as I came home from Thailand last month, I started plotting my next international trip and immediately thought of India since I'm fascinated with the culture and obsessed with the food. Then the Bangkok airport snafu happened, followed by the Mumbai attacks. Now my fam is not so hot on me jaunting to Asia for a while. (I will persevere.)

Instead, I've been eating as much Indian, Thai and sushi as I can. Last night, my friend Michelle from clevelandfoodie posted about my favorite Indian spot in Cleveland, Indie's. She just had a baby last week, so she's accepting guest posts. Take a looksie and grab yourself some Indie's the next time you're downtown during the week and want a yummy, cheap lunch.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Phil vs. Christina

Pop quiz:

What made Phil happiest on this San Diego trip?
a) ambushing me w/ a pillow bolster from our hotel room (knights could have used this thing to ram down castle doors)
b) scoring tasty taffy with unusual flavors by the seaside
c) downing Mr. Pibb in excess (a Cleveland rarity) in the Houston airport
d) it's a toss-up
a) Sunday's Wine Steals extravaganza (including my bacon chocolate bar)
b) my trek to see the kimono exhibit
c) convincing Phil to ride a girlie, side-by-side bike at Coronado
d) can't make up my mind

If you guessed "d" for both, you're right on, which I suppose means we're both indecisive (or Phil is less of a pessimist than he thinks). Notice that choices for both of us included torturing one another. That's love, baby.

So is traipsing through two effing terminals to find Mr. Pibb for your one and only...not just any kind of Mr. Pibb, mind you...Mr. Pibb from a fountain. I suppose it's fair for all the times he comes home with icees to my sheer joy.

Hopefully we'll be out of Houston soon after a delay in San Diego this morning...apparently it snowed here last night and Texans don't know how to deal with snow. I told you I have bad luck with de-icers!

P.S. This airport has way too many motorized carts. Every 30 seconds, I hear "carrrrt pleeeeease" in some carnival voice. Annoying.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Coronado Island, pooches and fire pits

When I first visited Coronado Island in June, I had a blast trekking around the island on a granny bike. This time, with Phil in tow, I thought there would be no way I'd be able to convince him to rent a ridiculous canopied two-seater, but I was pleasantly surprised. We had a great, albeit sweaty, time riding around the island, despite our near miss with a garbage truck while trying to cross a forbidden, super busy road. This "bike" also required quite a bit more man power. I don't remember it being so much work the first time around.

We checked out awesome houses on the island as we cruised through the neighborhoods. There was a normal-sized, adorable Tudor house I ogled. Found out later it was $2.5 million...just a tad out of our price range.
We tired out before getting to Hotel del Coronado (a shame, I know, but I saw it last time), so we grabbed a late lunch and headed back to the mainland to meet up with Mandi.

Mandi gave us a sweet tour of the Hard Rock Hotel in the heart of the Gaslamp District where she works, and I would definitely consider staying there during our next visit. Awesome decor and ambiance, cool rooms and a great outdoor bar with fire pits (I am obsessed with fire pits at bars). P.S. We really liked our hotel, Manchester Grand Hyatt.

Tonight was the night of fire pits. After Moonstone at Hard Rock, we headed to my fav outdoor wine bar (with fire pits), San Diego Wine & Culinary Center to grab a drink. It was doggie night, so bunches of furry mutts kept us entertained, particularly a little Chihuahua named Cha Cha. I had a fantastic experience the first time I was here, but service was a little off tonight, and I never got my port and chocolate, so I was a little grumpy.

When the weather is as gorgeous as it is, it's easy to shake off a mild inconvenience...and replace chocolate with other candy. So, we went back to the candy shop behind our hotel to restock our taffy supply. Then headed back here to pack and wind down. Time to get on that.

A little CLE+ in San Diego

Phil's conference will end shortly (or now...he just walked in), and we're gearing up for our last full day in San Diego. Headed over to Coronado Island this afternoon to touch our toes in the ocean.

Yesterday, I did a half-day walking tour of San Diego from downtown to Balboa Park where many of the museums are located. My favorite parts of my walk:

-Crossing a pedestrian suspension bridge over Maple Canyon and a wooden one over a ravine...really cool (and bouncy).

-Exchanging nods with an older gent who was blowing grass off the sidewalk with a parakeet perched on his shoulder and a cig hanging from his lips.

-Visiting the Timken Museum of Art (yes, that Timken from Canton) to see the Itchiku Kubota kimonos as art exhibit.

Canton will be hosting the kimono exhibit next year, and I've been really excited to see it, so I feel fortunate that I caught a "preview." Awesome show!

Besides the kimonos, my favorite part of the show was learning how the Impressionist painters impacted Kubota's creation of his kimonos.

For example, as Monet and others painted multiple canvases of scenes (Haystacks, Parliament series) to show the effects of light (dawn, dusk, etc.), Kubota created multiple kimonos depicting his beloved Mount Fugi in different light patterns.

The museums of Balboa Park are beautiful and charming. Long, stone tunnels span both sides of the street so visitors are pleasantly shaded when walking from one to the next. The lath Botanical Building is like another world.
In addition to my neighborhood tour on the way (Banker's Hill, etc.), I wandered along some of the crazy trails. See pics for graffitied cacti and zigzagging trails about the highway.

Now off for more exploring...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Averting Final Destination 5

I'm sure many of you have heard about the San Diego military plane crash by now (thanks to everyone who checked in to make sure we were OK). I'm starting to feel like I'm living my own personal version of Final Destination since disaster appears to be chasing my heels, particularly after my near-miss of the Bangkok airport snafu and now the plane crash while I'm in San Diego on vacay. Very strange.

Otherwise, having a good time. The weather has been in the 60s, and I've been able to bum around in flip flops and my fav capri jeans, so life is good.

Nothing too exciting happened yesterday. I walked to the mall to score my running shoes (yes, I finally worked out) and also snagged a pair of plum velvet pants from Banana that I noticed in a magazine spread I read on the flight out here (Phil: I swear I used gift cards left over from my bday).

Met up with Phil for lunch and dinner (check out the pic of our longboard pizza), and then we both crashed pretty early. B-O-R-I-N-G. He did have his poster presentation last night, so he was pretty worn out. I, however, had no excuse since I pretty much lounged for most of the day (awesome).

Tuesdays are free museum days in San Diego, so I've got a nice walk plotted out for myself...as soon I get a draft of my Thailand article done...some big time procrastination has been going on.

Tonight we're headed to a fun Mexican joint for Taco Tuesdays and might crash Mandi's party at the Hard Rock if we don't run out of steam first.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Yesterday's menu: taffy, port & a chocolate bacon bar

So, part of my plan for this week was to get my workouts back on track since I've been a gluttonous sloth...not working out so well since a) I somehow unpacked my running shoes before our trip and b) I had French toast and hashbrowns for breakfast at Maryjane's at the Hard Rock Hotel, ate taffy and chocolate for lunch and had cheese, wine, champagne, port and a chocolate bacon bar (so good!) for dinner. Oh my.

I'm overdue for new running shoes and there's a store within walking distance that has my Asics shoe in my size, so it should all work out.

Yesterday, Phil and I meandered around the harbor while enjoying the breezy, fresh air and watching the antics of seals, pelicans and ducks. After our yummy breakfast, we walked around the Gaslamp Quarter, wandered through a quick farmers' market (avocados for $1) and checked out Seaport Village, which turned out to be a bunch of touristy shops but led us to the awesome candy shop where we scored the taffy.

We had a great stroll and kept commenting on the opportunity Cleveland is missing out on by not developing our lakefront. Big bummer.

Once Phil's conference started in the late afternoon, my friend Vikki's sissy, Mandi, picked me up and we went to Wine Steals for its famous cheapo Sunday wine tasting. Taste, a cheese shop next door, was having an open house, so we scored some awesome blue cheese and gruyere fondue and then planted ourselves back at the bar.

An interesting character named Bruce provided most of the night's entertainment. The short of it is that Bruce is a 50ish former theatre performer turned porn "star" turned screen play writer turned Wine Steals regular. Let's just say I got quite the education last night. Google flufflies and blushies fetishes and you'll get an idea. Warning: you'll never be able to look at Care Bears again.

Hysterically, the last time Mandi was at the bar with Vikki, Bruce was there, and their visit is still remembered by the bar
tenders, which is how we scored free champagne on the house. Vikki, I toasted you last night!

Thankfully, some of Mandi's pals arrived and provided a much-needed distraction. Afterward, Mandi took me on a drive-by neighborhood tour before dropping me back off at the hotel. Pretty streets and houses and lots of Christmas lights. Tomorrow is free museum day at Balboa Park, so that's where I'll be.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sunshine & science in San Diego Part II

I’m back in San Diego less than six months after my June business trip, but this time with Phil (yay!). He finally pulled his weight in the travel department by signing up for a conference that starts tomorrow. I swear I must be the only wife who Googles “angiogenesis + conference” to make suggestions to my hubby based on destinations I want to visit…fingers crossed for a long-shot Tuscany conference in our future!

The last time we traveled together was in March when we went to Vegas, so it’s been a long dry spell. It was mighty cold when we left today, so maybe Cleveland will have another blizzard so we can stay here for an extra week :).

I used frequent flyer points for this trip, and Phil and I were on separate flights coming out west. Everything worked out, so a small sacrifice. Zippy is boarding at doggie day care, and Ava is sleeping over at Uncle Rob’s.

I’ve had some fantastic trips this year, but all of them have been packed with activities, so I’m excited to take it slow this week. My plan is to read (already blew through about seven magazines on the flights out), veg and write (the PD accepted my outline for a travel story about my Thailand trip). I spotted fire pits by our hotel pool, and I plan to stake out a spot ASAP.

Regarding Thailand, I made it out of the country in the nick of time before the airport was shuttered for eight days leaving nearly 400k foreign tourists stranded. I loved my trip, and my heart goes out to the country for its political turmoil (and resulting loss of tourism revenue) and all the foreigners who got delayed.

And, you probably noticed I’m using a different platform for my travel blog. I’m still working out the design and functionality, but would love to hear your impressions on this site vs. travelpod.com.