Thursday, September 29, 2011

Millennium Park in Chicago

Cloud Gate or the BeanI found myself in Chicago over the weekend with my son and we decided it would be a good idea to do some site seeing. Neither of us wanted to sit in our room for a whole two days. So we rented a car from Enterprise, they have a $10 per day weekend deal that made it the perfect way to get around town. We got a Buick Regal and cruised around town checking out the restaurants and shopping in the area before heading over to the Millennium Park.

We were told by the waiter at the diner that if we wanted to get some stuff packed into our week then we had to go to Millennium Park. She said it was like the corner stone of the city. Inside the park you can find a wide variety of art pieces that you probably can’t find anywhere else. Unlike an art museum where an art piece can usually be found in an art case or hung on a wall; these pieces take on a much larger scale that is sometimes jaw dropping.

We were particularly interested in the Crown Fountain. It’s this huge four sided wall with an LED screen on it. It changes images and then spews out huge amounts of water. You wouldn’t believe how many kids were playing in the fountains water while we were there.

We of course also went through the Cloud Gate, a massive bean shaped… mirror? I am not sure what they use for reflective material but this huge bean is mind numbing. It reflects the entire Chicago Skyline and when you walk through the middle of it you somehow can also see the sky. Something about bending light and stuff… all too far over my head but it’s really a neat attraction.

There are plenty of other exhibits in the park, but I could go on for hours talking about it all. My son and I really enjoyed it and would really suggest visiting the Millennium Park if you ever finding yourself in the Chicago area.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

San Diego Zoo

San Diego ZooSo I found myself in San Diego on a business trip and I decided to go site seeing. Something I am always hearing about when people start mention San Diego is the zoo, so I figured I would go check it out. My company didn’t offer me a means of transportation when I arrived, but I didn’t want to get stuck in the hotel all week. So I went on my favorite website Rental Car Momma and found a great deal from Dollar Rental Car and got myself a Dodge Caravan for the week, so I could do whatever I wanted.

So back to the story at hand, the San Diego Zoo was incredible. When I was thinking zoo I imagined a bunch of animals in cages, but the San Diego Zoo mine as well be its own theme park. First off I want to say that the zoo here isn’t like those dinky old $5 a person zoo you find in your local neighborhood. No, the Sand Diego Zoo was separated different sections with different themes, rides, attractions and shows that showcased the different animals and their unique traits and abilities.

My favorite was the Urban Jungle section of the park. You could take a tour that got you right in the midst of all the animals. The most interesting part of that area specifically was the bears. They had a trainer show you how the animals had adapted to their lives in habitats rather than in the wild, and some of the reasons these specific animals weren’t going to be released back into their forests.

The San Diego Zoo is great; I guess it would be kind of hard to explain it all without you being able to visit. But if you are in the San Diego area I would definitely suggest you visit, its worth the time and money.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Weekend Getaway to the Sonoma Valley

The Fairmont in Sonoma Valley
Now we don’t usually cross the country for a weekend getaway but our frequent flier miles had piled up and we got a free flight and stay at one of California’s most “Illustrious Inn and Spa.” So we decided to pack our bags and plan a date because we really couldn’t pass up such a good opportunity. The flight out to California was nice and since pretty much everything was paid for all we had to do was find transportation. We planned in advance and rented a Nissan Versa from Enterprise with a deal for a weekend special that saved us ten bucks a day. We found the deal on the home page for of course, same place we always go for our rental cars.

The rooms at the Fairmont in Sonoma Valley were incredible; every one of them had a great overlooking view of the pool. Even the resort was shaped like a valley, with the pool in the center as the terrain slowly went downwards. Suffice to say that the Fairmont gave me a new definition of luxury; if I ever find the time to come back I would love to return to Sonoma Valley.

As for the entertainment there are a lot of sophisticated restaurants and activities in the area. They have the Sonoma National gold club in the area, so if you are into golfing these greens have mountain back drops and everything. If you are looking for something even more relaxing the first thing you will notice is that the Inn and Spa is surrounded by vineyards in every direction… which means there are a wide variety of wineries in the area. We visited two, but the lady at the front desk said there are over forty within driving distance.

The summer son in California was beating down most of the time, so we spent quite a bit of time indoors and down at the pool. But the area is just filled with some great places you can visit, so if you go be sure to share with the rest of us about the other things I missed out on while I was there. It was a really great place; I want to go back for a longer period of time.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

San Diego - Part Two

Trattoria FirenzeNext, we drove all the way north to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. Since you all know Alejandra is a major photographer, and she likes old pictures, and she does those effects rather well. One of her secret love affairs have to do with photographing old timers lighthouses. She has pictures of the one up north in New England, and also in north Carolina and Florida, and the spooky one in Oregon. She was very thrill about taking a picture of this one in San Diego. I would say that this one takes the cake in terms of being spooky, because it was a bit foggy all of a sudden.

We didn’t stay too long cause we had a couple's only spa reservation. We drove to our appointment. It was a nice secluded place that was closer to Ocean Beach area. Ms Hotness Alejandra, soon to be Mrs. Yours truly, and I got into our room. Let me just say for the record that is really hard to concentrate when such a stunning beauty is on your side. And to top it all off, taking a massage as well! At one point we felt like little green man and woman, and then they applied those warm towels to get us off from the fungus/algae stuff....then, these two Chinese women came to the room and started the actual massage. Oh-my’s-freaking-god, lets say that I will kiss the ground they walk. You feel like going to cloud nine and all muscles relax that we were getting sleepy. What a peaceful place and i will do it in a heart-beat, without thinking, this is totally recommended!

After the awesome time at the spa, we went to the hotel and change. We wanted to have a real taste for the Italian, so we went to little Italy. Once you pass I-805 onto Balboa Avenue, you'll feel as if you were in Italia! The concierge at the hotel, told us about this awesome Italian restaurant called Trattoria Firenze. The service and the food was all phenomenal. The server was from a family that was originally from Calabria in a town called Scilla. He was so funny and certainly you can sense a bit of Sicilian in him. As usual, I asked for linguini alle Vongole, which was to die for, I was grabbing a piece of fresh warm bread made at the house and use it to get the last sauce of the clams. The guys got rave reviews of their food as well, so we all had an amazing time. The girls decided to end the evening with a Tiramisu and also espresso soaked ladyfingers layered with mascarpone cheese and fresh whipped cream. You can see in their faces that they were having once of those ultra sensory experience!

This first day in San Diego are leaving me to know more about this amazing city, definitely we are having awesome fun, and the drive has been great. Better is that we got really good discounts which help us getting nice gifts to the family!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

San Diego - Part One

The Star of IndiaFinally our trip to California has started, and everything is going smoothly. The troop was (let's say surprisingly) on time! The girls where in their usual badda-bin-badda-boom hotness. We all were waiting for this trip since we decided that we wanted to go to San Diego, California.

We picked Alamo as our rent-a-car this time. They had this awesome $30.00 discount coupon. Let me tell you, what a bargain it was! For a whole week we spend on the car $72.85 each and that is pretty good judging that California is very expensive state! Not only that, but we got the most economically "green" car in the market, the Fusion!

So we got into the hotel and set ourselves easily into the rooms. Then we rested cause we have to get over the jet lag. Then, the next morning, we woke up early and headed into the famous area The Embarcadero. It is a very nice boardwalk where you can see San Diego's seaport life. They have the oldest active sailing ship called The Star of India. We took nice pictures of us posing and the vessel on the background, pretty awesome! I can just picture Long John Silver or Barbarossa, or even Barbossa fighting with Jack Sparrow!

We headed walking; cause is a very picturesque park, toward one of the most impressive maritime museums around the USA, the USS Midway Museum. This is a mayor aircraft carrier. Just prepared to be mesmerize with the sheer spectacle of seeing this amazing aircrafts that once flew over the Pacific. You can wear your pilot sunglasses and feel as if you are Maverick from the famous Top Gun movie! You’ll be hypnotized with the F-14-Tomcat, the famous A-6 Intruder, the TBM Avenger. Roger and I are into those late 70's old TV programs, and there was one that was about the Black Sheep Squadron, and when I said that, one pilot told me that they were restoring that one. He even said to take a little quick peek and let us see it. What a super major treat! plus, they have several other airplanes that had their cockpits open, and they have the stairs, so you can walked into the cockpit and have that feeling as if you were a pilot...the guys and I were like kids in a candy store, playing our sound effects of shooting an enemy in a pearl harbor type of air battle! The girls, well, they were playing hot navy nurses!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Michigan Part Two

Detroit Institute of the Arts MuseumWe also bought tickets to a pre-season college game; the Michigan Wolverine vs. the Western Michigan Broncos. Ok, for those of you, who know I am a Gator fan, don't call me a sell out! So if you see a lone Guy with a ball-cap of the Wolverines wearing a T-Shirt for the Gators, then you know who I am!

of course, we have planned something for the ladies. We included in our short trip tickets for the Detroit Institute of the Arts Museum. It has real paintings from Rembrandt, Rubens, and Van Gogh, among other incredible artists. They also have artifacts, like the courtly amber casket that happens to have been done in 1695! Including in the collection are incredible pieces of sculptures, one which I saw in their website that are appealing to me is the Sleeping Nymph and the bust of Tiberius (yep, you got that right, the Caesar himself!)

All in all, I think we have a pretty good schedule, one that will appeal to the ladies as well as the boys. Hoping that no one bashes me with the "Gator bite" chants...but i am a fan thru and thru!