Day 1: New York City

Day 1: January 10, 2015

My first visit to New York City was March of 2013 as part of my parents’ college graduation gift for me. I recall taking my very last final by myself at UCLA inside my Geography professor’s office on Friday and jetted off immediately the following Saturday morning. New York City instantly stole my heart, and I remember promising myself that I will return as soon as I can.

Little did I know it will take nearly two years to do so. Last month, I spent ten amazing days in my favorite city with my favorite people as part of my 24th birthday celebration. It was my first time traveling with a big group of friends instead of family, and it was indeed a trip of a lifetime.

Processed with VSCOcam with e1 preset

We took an early flight out of LAX, arriving late-afternoon at JFK International Airport. We were a group of seven, so we split between two hotels which were two blocks apart in Manhattan’s Midtown area. The place I stayed at with a few of my girlfriends was an apartment-style hotel located on 38th Street and 6th Avenue called Ten15NYC.

Processed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 presetFullSizeRender

Ten15NYC is not your typical hotel. It’s apartment-style, so we had our own full-functioning kitchen, dining and living room. We stayed at a one-bedroom, which consisted of one queen size bed and a pull-out sofa bed. The building  is literally tucked in between a mini supermarket and a dumpling house, totally obscured from the street. There are only four floors, the second of which is a nail salon. There are no lobbies, so “checking in” was super informal as it was nothing more than our friendly hotel manager welcoming us in our room, handing us three sets of keys and giving us a tour.

Ten15NYC became our home away from home. Our apartment had hardwood floors and brick walls, which totally exuded the New York City apartment vibe, completely making us feel like true New Yorkers. The place was very clean when we arrived and all the furniture and finishings were modern and updated. The only downsides are:

a) There were no elevators!

Apparently, it is not required by law in New York for buildings less than six stories high to have an elevator. We learned that lesson the hard way as all of us girls each brought 50-lbs carry-on luggages (on top of our carry-ons), all of which we had to carry four. flights. of stairs. It was a total team effort, and we were beyond out of breath at the end of it. I’m sure we gained 5 lbs of muscle after that ordeal alone.

b) The overhead shower was bipolar.

It literally took us fifteen minutes every morning just to find the perfect water temperature. Just a little tweak, the water became either too hot or too cold. We wasted so much water and time trying to make the shower function properly.

All my girlfriends and I agreed that we wanted to spend our first night dining at a fancy restaurant to celebrate ourselves for making the trip happen as well as to commemorate my 24th birthday. Lucky for us, we were able to make reservations at a Michelin-star Italian restaurant merely two blocks away from our hotel, Ai Fiori.

Processed with VSCOcam with e1 preset

We all dressed up for the occasion, and I couldn’t be more proud to be in the company of such an amazing group of friends.

Ai Fiori was elegant and refined, which was exactly the ambiance we were looking for. Since it was my birthday dinner, I spared no expense spoiling myself. Life is too short to not eat well after all.

Processed with VSCOcam with e1 preset
Torchon: foie gras au naturel, seckel pear, pecans, 25 yr. balsamic
Processed with VSCOcam with e1 preset
Astice: butter poached nova scotia butter, carrots, rutabaga, chateau chalon sauce
Processed with VSCOcam with e1 preset
Tagliata: prime dry aged strip loin, endive, potato terrine, “cacio e pepe, ” balsamico, bordelaise
Processed with VSCOcam with e1 preset
Tartaletta: Loma Sotavento 72% ganache, chocolate chibust, tiramisu gelato
Processed with VSCOcam with e1 preset
Mille Feuille: dark chocolate, hazelnut praline, fior di latte gelato

After dinner, we took a cab to Times Square! Cue Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York.”

Processed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 preset

Man, it was F R E E Z I N G. I am pretty sure the temperature was in the single-digits that night. It was so cold I don’t believe I’ve ever seen Times Square that bare and empty before.

Processed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e1 preset

Watch our selfie video below! We were all so happy and excited to finally be in New York City, after months and months of planning and waiting!

Thanks for reading and watching! Stay tuned for more!

Love,
Anicka Nadine

 

Catalina Dreamin’

After 14 years of living in Southern California, I can finally say I’ve visited Catalina Island! There are a number of reasons why it took so long for me to explore this charming island merely a one hour ferry-ride away from mainland California, but at this point it doesn’t matter anymore.

We spent two days and one night on the island, which was more than enough for our purposes. We arrived early Saturday morning at the Long Beach port and rode the Catalina Express.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

I must say, even with a strong stomach like mine, I found the ferry ride quite uncomfortable. The open water was so rough and wavy that I constantly felt my stomach dropping! Wave after wave after wave slammed against our vessel, making it difficult to even stand up.

Nevertheless, the ride was worth it because it felt like arriving to paradise once we docked in Avalon. We definitely got lucky escaping the gloomy and foggy weather back in the mainland!

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Upon arrival, we immediately checked in at our hotel, The Catalina Island Inn, which is conveniently located in the heart of their main town center. I highly recommend staying here! Our room was clean and updated, and the staff were extremely helpful. Plus, the location is unbeatable, only a 5-minute walk from the ferry port.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset Their main town square was incredibly charming. It had Santa Barbara’s beach town vibe! It completely felt like we were way farther from Los Angeles than we actually were.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

We spent the next few hours relaxing [and dodging seagulls] at the beautiful Descanso Beach Club. The weather was a bit on the chilly side and the sun came out of the clouds sporadically, so getting in the water was out of the question.

“Daughters [& Son] of Anarchy”

Next item on the itinerary was biking! There were a few rental areas, and we scored ours for only $8 per hour! We stayed primarily in the main town since the rest of the island had steep inclines! Nevertheless, it was a fun and relaxing way to explore more of Catalina Island. Through biking, we discovered that they pretty much only have one of everything: one school (from K-12), one church, one hospital, one fire station, one gasoline station ($6.20 per gallon gas yo!) and such. We were definitely NOT in Los Angeles anymore.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
Sunday was spent relaxing as well as more biking! My friends and I dined at Bluewater Grill, a restaurant overlooking the ocean. It was only fitting we devour shrimp tacos and fish and chips!

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
After lunch, we toured the island like locals — with golf carts! We managed to rent a 6-seater for a few hours, allowing us go up the hills and see the island from up high.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

We ridin' dirrrrrty..
We ridin’ dirrrrrty..

We cruised all over the island, waving and saying “Hi!” and “Hello” to every one we encounter: pedestrians, other tourists, locals playing golf… and surprisingly, everyone waved back! They were so friendly. We even waved at the captain of the submarine (pictured above). He not only waved back at us, but even honked the submarine!

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
We eventually reached the top of the hill overlooking Catalina. The view was beautiful!

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetAfter riding the golf carts, we decided to rent bikes again since we had a blast biking around the town the day before.

I definitely recommend Catalina Island for a weekend getaway for those who want to disconnect and unwind from the hustle and bustle of city life in the mainland. I am most definitely coming back!

Click play below to watch our video diary. Make sure to watch in HD!

Love,
Anicka Nadine

Empire State of Mind

Last month, I went on a trip of a lifetime with my closest girlfriends to the best city in the world, New York City! Below are some of the pictures we took at the observation deck of the Empire State Building!

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetIMG_1242Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Location: Empire State Building Observatory Deck, 8th Floor
Hat: H&M
Coat: H&M
Sunglasses: Ray Ban
Sweater: Old Navy
Scarf: Zara
Boots: Nordstrom

Thanks to my very patient friend, Dianne, for willingly taking pictures of me in 2-digit weather!

Love,
Anicka Nadine

Life List #37: See a Broadway play live

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
Life List #37 was finally crossed off on January 13, 2015! My friends and I wanted to make the most out of our vacation in New York City, and we definitely did not want to pass up the opportunity to see The Lion King live.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
Because of our hotel’s prime location, we only had to walk 4 blocks to the legendary Minskoff Theatre, which is in the heart of Times Square. Unfortunately, cameras and flash photography were not allowed inside the theater, so I wasn’t able to take pictures on my phone.

http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2014/09/25/lion-king-autism-friendly-boston/
http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2014/09/25/lion-king-autism-friendly-boston/

I was never involved in drama class or theater in high school, so I don’t have as big of an appreciation for the performing arts as much as I want to, but the play was absolutely fantastic! The costumes, the music, the makeup, the props, the stage set-up were captivating! The intricacies of the costumes and the attention to detail were a level of their own. All the visual elements and acting and costume design all blended magnificently.

http://www.glogster.com/maxbrit/max-webb-and-brittany-greenbaum-the-lion-king/g-6ljotnp2q5vbd5chec83ha0
http://www.glogster.com/maxbrit/max-webb-and-brittany-greenbaum-the-lion-king/g-6ljotnp2q5vbd5chec83ha0

I remember getting goosebumps upon hearing the first few notes of “Circle of Life.” It was as if I was transported back to my childhood days. With every scene, I envisioned its cartoon movie equivalent, but with much more feeling and emotion. My heart strings were definitely tugged when Mufasa died during the stampede. Seeing all the pageantry in person instead of in a television screen makes the experience so much more personal and enchanting.

Sincerely,
Anicka “Hakuna Matata” Nadine

Big Bear, California

After a few days of heavy rain storm, Southern California’s peaks finally received a much-needed helping of fresh powder. It was absolutely breathtaking. Snow truly does beautify everything it touches.

My family and I headed up the mountains early Saturday morning and surprisingly had a smooth ride up. It’s been years since my last visit to Big Bear, and I had a wonderful time with my family bob sledding and having snow ball fights! Regardless of age, snow brings out the inner kid in every one!

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 preset  Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Thank you for reading!

Xx,
Anicka Nadine