No room for additional guests
No room for additional guests
5 Things I like ALMOST as much as traveling:
To kick start things, I’ve selected 3 books that we will be voting on to read for our first meeting on January 15th @ 7 pm.
There was a lot of thought put into the selection for the first meeting. First, I didn’t want to select the most obvious books, Eat, Pray, Love, or Wild. I was looking for something that folks hadn’t read yet. If you’re a reader, you’ve likely read both of these already. Second; guide books, collections of shorts stories, and some biographical books do not make good choices for a book club. Without characters and a plot, the discussion can wither away before it gets started.
Take a look at the 3 books we are voting on for the January meeting.
by Paul Theroux
First published more than thirty years ago, Paul Theroux’s strange, unique, and hugely entertaining railway odyssey has become a modern classic of travel literature. Here Theroux recounts his early adventures on an unusual grand continental tour. Asia’s fabled trains — the Orient Express, the Khyber Pass Local, the Frontier Mail, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Mandalay Express, the Trans-Siberian Express — are the stars of a journey that takes him on a loop eastbound from London’s Victoria Station to Tokyo Central, then back from Japan on the Trans-Siberian. Brimming with Theroux’s signature humor and wry observations, this engrossing chronicle is essential reading for both the ardent adventurer and the armchair traveler.
“An amazing story, really. Its hard to imagine a train trip of this length and duration, but Mr. Theroux really was able to put me right there in the railway car. His descriptions of the fellow travelers he encountered, and the landscapes he passed through were detailed and colorful.”
“Another of Theroux’s wonderful classic travel narratives about train travel through exotic and rapidly changing parts of the world. Those who have not been to these destinations will want to go after reading this work. Those who have been there will want to see it again via train travel. All will come away with new eyes and ears to savor the experience.”
By Helen Russell
When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries.
“Upbeat and informative, and is reminiscent of ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’…it flows seamlessly, and is like listening to your best friend on the phone while getting ready for a girls’ night out.”
“Russell’s memoir of her year in Denmark satisfies both avid memoir-readers and avid learners. She pairs investigative journalism and a nuanced look at the society in which she finds herself with the minutiae of everyday life in a foreign land.”
by Bill Bryson
The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America is a book by travel writer Bill Bryson, chronicling his 13,978 mile trip around the United States in the autumn of 1987 and spring 1988. It was Bryson’s first travel book.
He begins his journey, made almost entirely by car, in his childhood hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, heading from there towards the Mississippi River, often reminiscing about his childhood in Iowa. The journey was made after his father’s death, and so is in part a collection of memories of his father in Des Moines while he was growing up.
“This book is absolutely hilarious from cover to cover. Bryson takes the reader through small town America, but along the way, he takes so many unexpected and delightful side journeys, through his memories as a kid growing up in Iowa, his dry observations of small-town American life, or his little rants on customer service, restaurant workers, hotels, and fine attractions.”
“Bryson manages to find the unusual wherever he travels and this book shows what he found on a road trip around the US. Even the normally mundane aspects of life are lifted by the mind of this incredibly funny, insightful, and caring man..”
That’s it! I am sharing the joy with those local to me….if you are here in Los Angeles or near by, join our Meetup Group and you can come along.
It is going to be a great summer!
Let me know if you are joining the challenge.
I feel as though my summer is slipping away from me. I woke up and half of July is gone! I have so much I want to do and there is always so much to see here in Los Angeles…I don’t want to waste it. To give myself a kick in the pants I’ve created my own summer challenge – the Tour Your Hometown Challenge, to be a tourist in my own hometown. Here’s are the goals:
Summer officially ends on September 21st – that gives me exactly 70-days to accomplish these 6-tasks. Spice up your summer and learn something about your hometown – Take the Tour Your Hometown Challenge!
Stay tuned for an update on my progress.
I think most travel addicts have a map collection – so it is no surprise that I have several maps and globes. And of course, I use online maps too! I love Google Maps Street View feature. I use it to check out locations before I arrive and explore the neighborhood around my AirBnB or hostel. But when I am on the road, I like Maps.me.
Finding the right map to download on my phone is always something I do before I leave for a trip. I don’t stress about it if I am headed to a large city in my own country – where I will typically have good internet access and Google maps is reliable. When I take a road trip, head out to more remote locations, or leave the country having a good map downloaded on my phone is important to keep me from getting lost – and it gives me confidence. Knowing that I have a geographic reference in my pocket allows me to venture off and know that I can find my way again. If internet access is spotty, I need an off-line map.
I’ve tried a few options while traveling – and have settled on the Maps.me app for most of my journeys.
Maps.me has been designed for off-line use. It is smooth and easy to use. There are so many reasons to love it.
As always, do you research before downloading and relying on map during your trip. TripAdvisor is a good resource. Even though I love Maps.me, I always check with other travelers about their experiences with the app at my destination location. For example, I am headed off to Iceland in a few months – so I checked to see what other users were saying about Maps.me in Iceland.
A quick search for maps.me Iceland and I found positive reviews like this one.
Use MAPS.ME. Download Iceland map at home, and there use it only with GPS. We use it on our trip and, it was perfect (and its free).
Of course, being a map lover, I also have paper maps – that I bring along, especially if I am traveling with others. It can be challenging to look at a map on your phone with others. You can never have enough maps!
It has been an exhausting two weeks, but I am feeling good about the Los Angeles Ultimate Women’s Expo that starts tomorrow. This is my first big marketing opportunity for Travel Ninja. I am very excited about connecting with the women of LA and learning more about how I can help them get out and see the world on their own.
My biggest challenge for the show was trying to find something to put in my ten-by-ten booth that was interesting. Travel Ninja is all about services, workshops, tours and events…so I don’t have products to fill my booth. I decided on little dioramas – each one that matches the theme of the badge or workshop that is being offered. And for the last four weeks I have been collecting little items to put in these magical little scenes that will depict each workshop. After hours of rearranging and gluing tiny pieces to foam and boards, I’ve got them ready to show-off this weekend. They are still very fragile and I am concerned about them making it to the convention center all in one piece. If they make it, I hope they will generate curiosity and interest.
I’ve earned my “crafty-girl” badge in these last two weeks. I’ve glued tiny little people to foam board, cut and glued yards of black felt to cardboard, assembled purple crepe paper flowers and tied ribbons and cut-out little tags and coupons. I’ve completely ruined my nails. Who knew that doing a women’s show would be so much work?
Tomorrow is the big day! This weekend will be incredible – I might just make a big splash with this new venture…or I will have spent these days and hours leading up to the weekend just perfecting my hot glue gun skills. Either way, I will come out having learned something from the experience. Wish me luck! And if you are in the LA area, come down to the show and say hi!
I spent my Sunday in downtown Los Angeles – leading my “Travel Ninja Scavenger Hunt: Explore Downtown with Confidence” event. I started doing these events through Meetup a few months ago and each time I do one I meet wonderful people and learn so much!
I am not giving a historic tour, but I do share a few tidbits of information about the history of the places we visit. Each time I discover more amazing thing about Los Angeles.
This event takes us from Union Station to Grand Park, we walk past several civic buildings, museums and concert halls. We take a quick ride down Angels Flight and stroll through the Grand Central Market, we sneak a peek in the Bradbury Building (if it is open, they are often filming at this location). Then we stroll through downtown, popping into some of the more notable and historic places, like Clifton’s Republic and the Last Bookstore.
Over the course of the day, I learn so much from the folks that join me. Here’s just a few of the things we discovered along the way.
Across the street from Union Station is the famous Olvera Street, the birth-place of Los Angeles. Which was founded under Spanish rule in 1781. Which consisted of 11 families – 44 men, women, and children (per Wikipedia). Olvera Street is a marvelous place to visit. It has been an event on our Meetup group before…and I’ve added it again! You can find here.
As we explored Union Station we discovered the floor at the East side is detailed with inset aquatic images, some were easy to identify; turtles, leaves and a symbol of transportation – the wagon wheel. But we were not able to identify one of the symbols (see picture). If you know…please share! I was able to find that floor was done by artist May Sun, who is responsible for several other public art pieces around Los Angeles. The floor is part of a project that was completed in 1995, called “City of Dreams/River of History”.
At the end of the day, Kira and Scott showed us the amazing “light sticks” that are at the top of the Red Line escalators on the East end of the station. I’ve walked past them many times, but never really understood their purpose. Thanks to Kira and Scott, I now know that these flashing lights are more than meets the eye – at first. Stand for a few seconds, relax, and you will see hidden images. We saw a train, Marilyn Monroe and other famous faces. After a bit of research, I discovered this is the work of artist Bill Bell. And according to the Metro website, there is also a hidden microphone that can activate a responsive sound system. Now I have more to discover on my next trip to Union Station.
At the Civic Center Station we stopped to admire the flying people art. That thanks to Kira’s quick research we found out that all six figures resemble the artists, Jonathan Borofsky. A quick Google search at home and I found the title for the piece is I Dreamed I Could Fly. And according to the Metro’s website, The work has an audio element as well—the figures are accompanied by an occasional trill of a bird. Who knew?
We talked briefly about the changes happening at Pershing Square. Here’s the article I read a few weeks ago with renderings of what the new park might look like. I’m very excited about the changes.
If you are interested in doing a more detailed historic tour of downtown or the art at the Metro station, I suggest checking out both of these organizations.
As we explored downtown, we talked about a number of wonderful restaurants and bars to visit. Here are some of the places we noted as we strolled along.
Both downtown, just a few blocks from one another. The new Spire 73, out did the 71 Above by 2-floors, but both are sights to see!
I’ve scheduled a Meetup for a Rooftop Bar Hopping, in July. The days will be longer, so we will be able to enjoy the view in the daylight and as the sunsets!
Check out the 2 new Meetups that were inspired by the folks who joined me on Sunday!
This is Annabelle! My son, Drew and I’s latest project.
She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona – where Drew will do his magic. Later we will transport her to Los Angeles, California, where I will get the joy of making her my own, putting in the interior and making a little “home” for future road trips!
I don’t know what prompted him to seek her out. Probably nothing. Drew is truly addicted to the auto section of Craigslist. He will pursue the options without purpose.
I laughed, when he sent me the first pictures of “Annie”. I recall standing the parking garage laboring over another VW, Nancy – and Drew stammering in frustration, “I will NEVER build another Volkswagon!” I laughed then too. He was 19, and I knew then that he had the “Bug”.
He will always have a “project-car” in the garage. He’s just that guy! 🙂 And at 24, he currently has two project cars. This is Marilyn – she now has a friend to keep her company.
I am thrilled about this new project for so many reasons. Annabelle is my dream van. I’ve always wanted a VW Bus – Drew and I even talked about it a couple of years ago and he talked me out of it. I was content to get a different vintage van to spruce up and cruise the country. But one lovely afternoon, Drew texted me and asked if I still wanted him to build me a van. “Of course”, I said. I need an office on wheels so I can be a true vagabond and perpetually travel! I thought he’d found a vintage Ford van – but noooo…he had found a VW Bus, he found Annabelle! Yay!!
Not only do I get my dream van….but I also get the joy of working with Drew. Yes, we live in different states…and of course most of the work will be done by one or the other of us. But it is a joint project — and I miss working on “projects” with Drew. We’ve had some great times building and creating all kinds of things. And he will build MANY VWs in his lifetime. I look forward to meeting them ALL!
Let’s eat Vietnamese!! I spent a few weeks in Vietnam last October and I fell in love with Bun Cha! Pho might be the most famous Vietnamese dishes. But Bun cha is my absolute favorite. With grilled pork, broth which is the combination of vinegar, sugar and fish sauce, served with rice vermicelli and a plate of fresh herbs. You will love it!
Vietnamese Cuisine: Travel the World LA to Indochine Vien for Bun Cha
Thursday, March 15, @ 6:30 pm
Or join us on another night as we explore the many ethnic communities in Los Angeles:
Dim Sum in Chinatown! I know that the best Dim Sum is likely found in Alhambra or Monterey Park, but Chinatown has so much history and culture beyond the food, so I wanted venture in that direction this week.
Chinatown is one of L.A.’s most popular tourist destinations – but it is not the first Chinatown. The first Chinatown was located where Union Station is now. It was razed in the early 1930’s to make way for the train station, and the new Chinatown opened in June of 1938.
It is the first neighborhood in the U.S. that was actually owned by Chinese residents.
We can visit Chinatown’s Central Plaza, see the Chinese Celestial Dragon mural originally painted in 1941 by Tyrus Wong. The legendary artist, who passed away in December 2016 at age 106, was renowned for his work in film, particularly as the lead artist on Disney’s Bambi and statue of Bruce Lee.
Chinatown: Travel the World LA for Sunday Morning Dim Sum!
Sunday, March 11 @ 9 am
Or join us on another night as we explore the many ethnic communities in Los Angeles: