Rhonda had a work conference in San Diego, California and Sharee decided to tag along. It was Rhonda's second time, and Sharee's third time in the San Diego area. We spent the first day walking by foot to a nearby shopping court, and enjoying the cool breeze weather.
It was on the second day that Sharee wandered off to Old Town to enjoy the sights. Old Town is a neighborhood in San Diego known as the first settlement of Europeans in what is present-day California. Excitement was in the air as the towns people were in the midst of setting up for Cinco de Mayo. With over 30 restaurants, 100 plus speciality shops, and more than a dozen art galleries and historic buildings, it was a great solo experience for Sharee. Later that evening, joined by one of Rhonda's conference attendees, we both spent the evening back at Old Town to enjoy an authentic Spanish meal.
On the last full day Sharee utilized a hop-on-hop off pass and got a chance to see the expansive city of San Diego that she had never experience on her previous travel there. Starting early in the morning, she was able to experience eleven unique stops. The best view was when she went over the Coronado Bridge. After sharing a few pics with her sister, Rhonda also purchased a hop-on-hop off pass to enjoy the sights for the remainder of the day. Their final stop was in the downtown district of Little Italy. An ArtWalk was taking place and they were in the midst of thousands of people as they took in the art and smells of delicious foods. It was there that we tasted our first beignets. Yum!!
It was an excellent trip, and one for the books. Of course we never go anyplace without some sense of adventure, so we took a few hours on our departure day to hang out in Los Angeles with some friends, only to return to the San Diego airport to have our flight cancelled. We didn't get home until the following evening, but we have so much love for California, we didn't mind the extra overnight stay.
Have you visited California? If so, what has been your experience. And if not, where would you like to visit first?
We would like to welcome newbie traveler Recya Robertson to reflect upon her recent 2 day mini-break to Myrtle Beach.
On April 20th I decided to take a mini break from everybody. I went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I wanted to go to Savannah, but didn’t know the area well enough to go by myself. This was a must need break for me because I’m either always working or sitting at home doing nothing. I made reservation at Days Inn a couple days before I left. When I got there, the hotel wasn’t anything like I expected it to be. I was like "nope"..this is not the area/hotel that I booked a couple days ago. When I went to confront the receptionist about it, she told me that the pictures on the internet were taken years ago. Many of the hotels around here get most of their business by submitting "old pictures. I’m looking at her like "what the world... that’s false advertisement" etc. I wanted to cancel my reservations all together. Then I started thinking if I did, where was the next place I can go or call to stay for the weekend. What I end up doing was staying there because there was nothing I could do about it at that moment.
The good thing about my break was me enjoying the sun, quietness, the birds chirping, beach, and my daughter. The bad thing about this trip was not being able to sleep. Meaning, I got bitten by a couple of times by bed bugs while I was there. I end up throwing all of my clothes and shoes in the trash. I lost my belongings, but gain freedom. I’m now able to do a lot of traveling by myself. I was very afraid to do that before.
The things that I got out of it was take somebody with me the next time I go because being by myself is not always good. The lesson I learned was never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever book a hotel in Myrtle Beach on the south side. Will I ever do it again? The answer will be YES, but on the north side.
Thanks Rhonda Washington for that extra push. You’re a good person inside and out.
We want to thank Recya for sharing her story. It takes courage to travel solo even when you have a family.
We often take surveys that provides us points and/or money that we use towards travel. The three we use most often are erewards.com, pointsforsurveys.com, and Toluna.com E-rewards has several travel related options that can utilize the points earned. We often alternate between IHG Rewards (Holiday Inn, etc) and JetBlue reward points. Points For Surveys is completely tied into JetBlue, and allows you to ramp up your reward points with the airline carrier. Toluna Surveys provides cash payouts of upward of $30 or more after you meet a high threshold level of survey points achieved.
Each survey tend to take from as little as 5 minutes to more than half an hour to complete. The longer the tests, the more points it tends to be worth. A downsize to these tests is that by asking of demographic questions, you may not always qualify. In most cases, they'll give you some of the points. For example, Points For Surveys will give you 10 points for not qualifying for a survey, but after 5 non-qualifiers in 24 hours, you will earn no points. With Toluna, it can take upward of 3 months or more of taking tests daily to earn the $30 threshold for cash payout.
Do you take surveys, and utilize the points for travel, money, or other? If so, which ones?
Situated a few miles from Rome, Italy in Frascati, we were privy to a wine tasting at Merumalia Wine Estate. The host was very courteous and detailed in his explanations of how the company, a mere 6 years old, started making wine and olive oil. A former astronaut, he and his family have taken ownership of the estate. The most impressive thing about the production of the wine is that it's all certified organic. While their array of half a dozen white wines, one red wine, and olive oils are giving themselves a name in Italy, they are just making their mark in the US, with plans to expand in the coming months.
Two of our most often asked questions are how to join a group so to not go alone abroad and how to plan for family travel. To answer those questions we recently revealed a new website takealeaptravel.triplaunch.co. Currently hosting 3 trips in 2018-2019 (NYC in July; Cape Town, South Africa in December; and Toronto, Canada in April 2019).
The group size is small with less than 15 persons ,so you can get to know your fellow travelers. These travelers will be come from different backgrounds and regions as transportation will be on your own to the destination site. However, we will offer concierge services to assist you with your travel needs to the destination. The tour fee covers accommodations, activities & tours, most meals, and ground transportation.
Another service we will provide is if you want us to host your personalized group trips, such as, family reunions, meet-ups, girls trip, retreats, conventions, bachelor parties, and more on our site for a small fee. Due note this does not include cruises at this time. Please contact us personally to discuss at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rhonda W. Sharee W.
A few weeks back we mentioned several options for having a meatless lunch. After perusing through Trader Joe's frozen section, we found another lunch meal similar to the Trader Joe's vegetable burrito. It's chopped full of black bean and corn, and even some organic tomatoes and organic tofu intermixed. It's only $2.29, and it comes with a pack of two servings, at 130 calories each, and a sodium level of 230 mg. It heats in less than 4 minutes depending on your microwave, and it's recommended to reduce the power to 50%. The sauce is very tasty to me with a smoky flavor. However, on many vegan blogs, people have downgraded the meal because of the sauce. Try it for yourself to be sure.
A week after Thanksgiving I found myself in the Charlotte, NC area at a local Harris Teeter grocery store. After perusing in their pizza area and not find the dairy-free mozzarella I had a taste for, I found my self in the meat-less area in the produce section. I was immediately fixated by the small Turkey looking meatless option by a well-known company called ToFurkey. It was a picture of small butterball size turkey stuffed with wild-rice and topped with gravy. The only extra I had to consider was the baste which I made with olive oil and fresh seasonings (thyme, garlic salt, black and red pepper) and minus the suggested soy-sauce. I ended up buying two, with one to consume within the next day and the other during Christmas at the beach. It took a little more than two hours to cook, and after one taste, I was in love. It was so good, and if I didn't know it was meatless, I would of thought I was eating real meat. I looked for something similar at my local Trader Joe's and Publix, and could find nothing else like it. The box says it was a holiday special so I'm not even sure it'll be around in a few weeks. I may have to head back up that way to stock up on this delicious find.
What meatless meal have you tried during this Holiday Season?
Last week we mentioned our desire to seek out more vegan options at the local Trader Joe's grocery store. And while we found a few great finds (as this post will reveal), we found the options limited. When we questioned the Trader Joe's staff, they noted that many of the products (ie.. Tofurkey) were no longer being offered in the local store. This did not mean that it can't be found in a Trader Joe's grocery store, just not in our local store. Our assumption is that per capita, the number of vegans in our area is relatively small comparable to Trader Joe's locations in California, New York, or Washington, DC where vegan items are plentiful. So, our search for more vegan friend grocery items will expand to other stores in the area including Wal-Mart, Kroger, Publix, and Harris Teeter.
The two lunch options we tried this week were Trader Joe's 99% Fat Free Bean & Rice Burrito ($2.69; 2 in a pack) and Trader Joe's Mildly Spiced Organic Vegetable Burritos ($3.29; 2 in a pack). The bean & rice burrito was more beans than rice, with a tad bit of cheese, even though it's commonly referenced in the vegan section. It's a quick bite to eat, and at 13 grams of protein and only 250 calories (10 calories from fat), it's a very healthy alternative to a traditional fast-food burrito option. The vegetable burrito really rocked our world with it's boldness of spice, with a hefty amount of red and black beans and vegetables, including corn, potatoes, bell pepper, and tomatoes. It has 320 calories per burrito, with 100 calories as fat. As such, the vegetable burritos has more calories, but far lower sodium at 400 mg vs 490 mg when compared to the bean & rice burrito. Both are viable option, just be sure to brush have a glass of water when eating the vegetable burrito because it is spicy!!
We have not had the opportunity to cook like we would like, and have been scouring our favorite grocery store for some of the top Vegan items to eat on the run or for quick meal preparation. As often as we've visited the store, we weren't prepared for all the items that the store carries that we have yet to try. We'll try them in the coming weeks, and will offer our own reviews of our best finds. Here's a short video from World of Vegan of some of the Vegan items that Trader Joe's carry. We're excited to taste many of the foods suggested, as well as some of our own finds, and can't wait to share from our own personal experiences.
Rhonda & Sharee Washington