Beautiful Oahu

Oahu seems to always get a bad rap because of how busy it is, with all of the high rises and mall shopping overflowing on Waikiki Beach. True, it’s a big city on a beach but there is still a … Continue reading

Happy New Year! Let the race against the Mayan Calendar begin!

Happy New Year, y’all. As I reach for my Excedrin after a night of sending 2011 out on its ass, I can’t help but revel in my New Year’s dinner conversation with my sweetheart about all of the places we want to travel to this year. Those conversations with me can be crazy because my list is so long it really does require a lifetime to actually make a dent in the list.

But seeing that we are all on limited time due to the pending doom coming our way on December 21, 2012, I guess I better try to tackle my short list of places to see before my Mayan ancestors pull the plug on me.

Waikiki-Strand auf Oahu/Hawaii

Image via Wikipedia

First up: Oahu. No, seriously. I love Oahu. Many poo poo it and call it nothing more than New York City on a beach but I have always enjoyed Oahu and Waikiki Beach for the simple fact that it is an easy destination to get around in, has snorkeling, nightclubs, surfing, and poolside bar service in a relatively small area, and Waikiki Beach is undeniably a beautiful beach. Of course, I want to visit other islands in conjunction with Oahu, but I have always appreciated how huge Waikiki Beach is and how shallow it is for quite a long stretch. It makes it easy to just wade in the water all day long and feel completely relaxed, in spite of the amount of activity going on along the beach. Oahu also houses Pearl Harbor, which I think is necessary for all Americans to experience if you haven’t already, as well as the Dole Pineapple Plantation. I know it’s not old Hawaii but it still provides that necessary break we all need and it is America’s paradise. I love it. Always have, always will.

Next on the race against death: Thailand and/or Bali. It’s a tie between these two for me. I have been wishing to experience these two destinations for years now and just haven’t had the time to do so. I predict, (acting as my own Nostradamus) that I will see at least one of these this year especially, since my beloved and myself, love Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine. For that matter, we’ll eat almost anything you put in front of us but we tend to lean towards Asian cuisine more than anything else. I would love to experience the sights and sounds while enjoying an authentic Indonesian or Thai meal with my honey before my time runs out.

Africa-Oh Africa. The life-long dream. When ever will I make it there? Where do I start? There’s so much to see, I think the best way to see it is the way my friend saw it years ago. He went to South Africa on holiday, and stayed for three months. That is the imprint that has been left in my head and I have been subconsciously planning to experience all of Africa in that same fashion. Which is why I haven’t seen it yet. I know, I need to start small because for God’s sakes, it took more than one trip to experience Europe all of these years, but like my friend, I know that once I get a taste for it, I won’t want to leave. But it’s coming. I guess I better squeeze that in before December 21st, huh?

Copyright ciaocarla

Italy-I have to see Italy again before the Apocalypse. I don’t know when, but I have to. I’ll never go back in the summer because as much as I love Italy, I hate that friggin’ heat. I know all of the cool stuff happens in the summer but I also like to interact with the locals when the overall atmosphere is calm instead of experiencing death stares because I’m just another Californian pronouncing everything in Spanish instead of Italian. I totally get it. High season tourist overload. They, like the French, tend to be a little more forgiving off-season just as San Franciscans are with them when they visit in December instead of July. Interactions aside, I want to meander through the streets in Florence with a large scoop of gelati, and I want my honey to experience how special San Gimignano and Siena are. (There is also a torture museum in San Gimignano I haven’t seen yet which really piques my interest.)

Yes, the world is too big, too interesting, and too vast to experience in less than twelve months. With any luck, my ancestors were cracked out on some ancient peyote when they threw some numbers into the mix and created THE CALENDAR. Should that be the case, then we all have a little more time to experience those dream trips we all want to take. I believe that life is short anyway and we don’t know what is around the bend from one day to the next so in general, I think we have to participate in life when we can, and not put off the things we want to do. I don’t make resolutions but my overall goal for this year is to create those opportunities for myself, the best way I know how and live life to the fullest! I wish the same for all of you and hope you all get your wish list going!

Here’s to beating the Mayan Calendar!

P.S. Weren’t we supposed to expire at the millenium?

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?!

I’ve been doing up New Year’s Eve in The City for so long , I should be over it by now. But I’m not. I’ve been to parties, clubs, restaurants, did a midnight 5K run ONCE, (never again) and on occasion, did absolutely nothing. But the doing nothing part only happened a couple of times. The lack of available taxis has not proven to deter me when on a mission to participate in the biggest party night of the year. And I have to admit, though I’ve had some major highlights this year (finding my honey), overall, I can’t wait to say, Bon Voyage to this stinking year. I’ll let you in on what and where we’ll be going but first, I’ll let you in on some ghosts of parties past, what I think is still tried and true, and hopefully give you some ideas on where to ring in the New Year if you are still pondering on what the heck to do.

First up, the man who was responsible for a lot of late nights and an empty wallet by the end of the night, Harry Denton. Forget the trendy DJ’s, Harry Denton has been San Francisco’s biggest partier through numerous presidencies. Harry Denton’s Starlite Room at the Sir Francis Drake hotel in San Francisco has been going strong for some time now. Offering a combination of a spectacular view along with great, live entertainment, great drinks, and a touch of opulence that you could only expect from Harry Denton. If you’re into getting dressed to kill and having a special night out on the town, this is just one of many destinations to consider.

How about a night of European Caberet? Teatro ZinZanni has been a waterfront hot spot for many New Year’s Eve celebrations. It’s a combination of cabaret, Cirque du Soleil, and good drinks and food. This is the year to go because there is a bit of controversy over the production having to uproot the show to make room for the upcoming America’s Cup. (Don’t get me started.) Though always a crowd pleaser, there will be a break in production for a while until they relocate so I definitely want to start the drumbeat to support them for their last New Year’s Eve at the historic waterfront location. Just a side note: This group also hosts circus summer camps for kids which might be fun to check out. I have friends whose kids would be naturals and could probably teach other kids how to be clowns. Just saying. Check out a video of this fabulous group here.

Of course, I’m going to tout the Cat Club’s 80’s mix dance party. On any given Thursday night, you can find Generation X’ers and wannabe Gen X’ers alike partying to Culture Club all over again. It’s AWESOME! Complete with the original dance videos, it is known as THE place to go if you want the hear the same stuff you used to listen to on your Walkman. (Don’t laugh yourself to death.) I can’t think of a better way to ring in the New Year than to be dancing to Rick Astley which is yes, who I request to hear when I go to the Cat Club. No comments please. If nothing else, you can pull up their website to see the cool, retro Blondie magazine cover they used to promote the event.

You can always count on the free fireworks show at the Embarcadero which is always a hit. It’s beautiful to watch but at this time of year, it can be hit and miss due to the fog. It’s a great party, but dress like you’re going to the snow and wear comfortable shoes. It’s a great family atmosphere and you might get on tv!

The Grand Hyatt, also located on the Embarcadero, is another option to ring in the New Year in style. It’s not the most inexpensive ticket in town but their Grand Ballroom is a fantastic place to be at midnight. The music is usually top 40, everyone is dressed to to kill, and the balloon drop in the Grand Ballroom is memorable. The room is huge and the ceiling is high so the noise at midnight is crazy but in a good, fun kind of crazy. Awesome party. Check it out if you want to sport your best digs.

I can’t do a New Year’s Eve post and not mention my home town throwing a party that makes me want to drive home and participate. El Jardin Tequila Bar and Restaurant in San Jose, is hosting the Mayan Apocalypse New Year’s Eve party. Free admission, Apocalypse drink specials, and live salsa music. Now we’re talking. Located in the beautiful Santana Row shopping center, this restaurant and bar has received great reviews and you can’t beat the location.

We’re going to dinner. With all of the restaurants in town, how can we not. Afterwards? Who knows. As you can see, the possibilities are endless. I’ll give you some dinner ideas here. All I can say is that after years of learning lessons the hard way about New Year’s Eve in SF, wear comfortable shoes (ya, right. Comfortable shoes aren’t pretty), dress warm, (again, how are you supposed to show your stuff?) and don’t hold your breath for a taxi at 12:15 a.m. Start walking. Seriously, you’ll get home or back to your hotel faster. Start walking. And above all, be safe and happy that we are sending this year packing! Bring on the Apocalypse!

Oh Tacky Tannenbaum!

I have always had this family tradition of going to the woods and cutting down my Christmas trees, no less than a 15 feet usually. I still take my uncle to get his monster tree for his apartment but in the recent years, my pals and I put up a standard 8 foot tree in the living room and I have also resorted to setting up my little tabletop, astro turf tree with one string of lights, on my desk or chest of drawers. I usually deck it out with my travel ornaments and pretty, girly ornaments but those ornaments made it to the living room tree this year. So, I threw the tree in the back of my car with intentions of using it to decorate any unused space at work. As it turned out, it looks like Christmas and Hanukkah threw up simultaneously in our building so my little tree wasn’t needed. Until last night. I discovered that my boyfriend didn’t have anything festive around his place so I put my little tree up on top of his file cabinet. It dressed the place right up! The sad part is that I forgot to bring over some ornaments so we just had an astro turf tree with lights and no ornaments. Leave it to my uncle with the 18 foot tree in a small apartment to have a bag of ornaments he picked up from the thrift store. He collects Christmas ornaments so he usually picks up a $1.00 bag of crappy ornaments if  he finds one ornament in the mix that is of use to him. Consequently, he ends up with bags of crap while all the good stuff of course ends up on his tree.

So, in the effort to create some sort of Christmas tree like atmosphere, we took our bag of rejects and created the Tacky Tannenbaum. Since I didn’t have time to put a proper tree together in the first place, you guessed it, I also didn’t have time to buy hooks for our new ornaments. We used dental floss to hang the ones that didn’t have leftover hooks or strings already attached and produced a 4 foot marvel that only Charlie Brown would appreciate.

Do you have a hammerhead shark on your tree? I didn’t think so.

How about a nice Halloween spider for your Christmas tree? I love that this is actually a Christmas ornament.

Of course, living in San Francisco, we like to celebrate everybody’s holidays. We got a two for one deal with the star of David Christmas ornament.

Ahhhh…..the Love Tree.

This is my favorite. You gotta love an ornament that depicts a child snatching Santa.

This is proof that it’s never too late to get into the Holiday spirit. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune and your decorations obviously don’t have to impress anyone but yourself. Though I make it a point to visit the tree at Union Square every year, I know for a fact that the Union Square tree does not have a hammerhead shark on its branches, so there you go.

~ Oh Tannenbaum, oh tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine blatter!

Joyeux Noel!~Merry Christmas!

I have some friends who are spending their holidays in Paris this year. Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world any time of year but in listening to them plan for their trip, it brought me … Continue reading