beach · Europe · hotels · Road Trip · spain · touristy · travel

Tenerife and Back

It had been over two years since I have traveled up to last month. Of course, you know the main reason – Covid. But even when restrictions were released I didn’t travel. I didn’t understand this immediate need to get back out there. Sure I missed seeing new places and going back to my favorite spots but why the rush? Covid was (is) still a big problem. There were a new surge of Covid cases in Mallorca when tourists were allowed back (naturally) and I just didn’t get it the immediate need to get away.

Anyways, I turned the big half a century last month and I wanted to go somewhere to celebrate the big 5-0. I felt so bad for the people who turned 50 or had any huge celebration during 2020. I know that had to have sucked. We looked into fun places that would hopefully be somewhat warm. Felix, being European, still wasn’t allowed into the USA so we couldn’t go there. We looked into a cruise but after REALLY looking into it we found out that our stops, mostly in Italy, we wouldn’t be able to get off the boat just ourselves. We HAD TO go with a group. Well, that’s not what we wanted to do. In the end, we decided on Tenerife. Felix had been when he was eight (how cute!) and the flight there was a direct flight. So, alright Tenerife, show us what you got. 

View from our room

We chose the Gran Melia Palacio de Isora hotel which I may do a separate blog post about but just be careful if you choose this one, or it may be just the way things are in Tenerife. There are a few pros – friendly staff, the Bali beds looking over the Atlantic are nice and I liked the Clarins products in the room but sadly, the cons outweighed the pros – the restaurant situation is horrific, you need to book 2 or 3 days in advance if you want a table at a decent time, the service is slowwwwwww, the bars close at 6 except for the big main one which takes forever to get a drink. Again, a possible blog post. But I really didn’t want this one to be negative. But seems like it is so far, so let’s change that, shall we? 

Alright, we enjoyed a few relaxing days renting a Bali bed, drinking some cervezas and swimming in Europe’s largest salt water pool. The lizards were fun to watch and I loved the red dragonflies buzzing around.

The cool breeze coming off the Atlantico was a nice feeling against the hot sun tanning our skin. One night we ventured out to a local Italian restaurant with great service and yummy food – Pepi Vintage Room Tenerife in Puerto de Santiago. Great food, wine and service. It is a bit small so I would call for a reservation at 673 72 56 61.

Close to the hotel was a black sand beach which seemed pretty hip with the locals.

After a few days of completely vegging out on the beds and swimming we decided to take a break from the Bali beds and rent a car to check out Teide and Masca.

Beer and Bali Bed. RELAX.

The rental car was booked at the hotel, it was super easy and 60 euro for the day. Off onto our best day of the trip. 

Teide National Park took us about an hour from our hotel. Teide is an active volcano but the last eruption was in 1909. I must add to this post that we were in Tenerife at the time the La Palma volcano was erupting. We tried to get a view of it but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. My heart goes out to the people who have lost their homes and belongings from the erupting volcano.

Teide National Park is the biggest park on the Canary Islands. A trip that should be at the top of the must-see list of everyone who visits Tenerife. And the island was busy! It was a four day weekend for the Spanish (un puente as they call it), plus a two week school break for the Germans, lots of people had descended onto the island. And the closer we got into the park the more you could see it. All photo opportunity spots were full and when we got to the area where you could take a cable car to the top, forget about it! There were at least 200 cars lined up. And you do need tickets for the cable car so book in advance if that’s what you really want to do. We drove a bit further and found a spot that seriously looked like Mars – so cool. We got out and walked around and took some advantage of photo ops.

o Getting up to the timberline

Next we decided to check out Masca. Be prepared, the road to Masca is tight! If you are afraid of heights or get car sick, it might not be the drive for you. But the views are beautiful.

Until the 1960s, the picturesque mountain hamlet of Masca was only accessible on foot or by donkey. Nowadays, it is well connected to the rest of Tenerife by road. Winding roads lead to exciting hairpin bends and narrow corners. The trip will take you through deep ravines covered with lush green vegetation.

There weren’t any parking spots for a restaurant when we arrived in Masca so we continued on the curvy road and soon came across a cute restaurant overlooking the gorge. You can’t miss it, after passing Masca you will see it when the road starts heading back up. We stopped for a glass of wine and some roasted potatoes with mojo sauce. Super yummy.

It was so nice to get away from the hotel madness and actually have people attentively serve food and drinks! Seriously Gran Melia, you need to figure some problems out!

One more day at the hotel and we were looking forward to home and all the comforts one has at their home. And our six cats. 🙂

But one more thing.

When we first arrived there were a lot of plants under big tents that were on large plantations. I kept wondering what it was, they were even right outside our hotel window (see first pic). And then it hit me, BANANAS! B-A-N-A-N-A-S. This shit is bananas. Bananas are a particularly important crop, as Tenerife grows more bananas than the other Canary Islands, with a current annual production of about 150,000 tons. Nice.

See them bananas?

In the end, everyone that we encountered in Tenerife were really friendly and the sights in Masca and Teide were gorgeous. I am glad to have experienced the island and seen the sights. I’d give it at least a chance if your travel plans allow for a stop there. It’s always a nice to change your scenery view even with a few bumps in the road.

There is never a bad trip! Unless you took some bad LSD. Don’t do that.

familia · poland · Road Trip · travel

Now We Go To Poland, eh?

Ah, that headline sounds more Russian, no? Which reminds me of this movie clip I keep seeing with Anna Farris (love her). In the movie, What’s Your Number, there is a scene where she runs into an ex-boyfriend who is British and apparently he thinks she is British too. Until she can’t keep up with the accent and breaks out into a Russian accent saying, “What do you say, a little dancing, eh?” Makes me laugh every. time.

POLAND! I wish walls and trees and roads could talk. Lots of wars here. There was such a drastic difference between Germany and Poland. While Poland is clean and the people seem happy the buildings, roads, cars, fashion all seem a bit stuck. The buildings are mostly bland, grey concrete or just older and a bit rundown. The roads are bumpier, smaller and people just pass when they want. A car in the opposite lane would pass a car in front of it with me coming straight towards them. Everyone just moves as far to the right so literally three cars can pass each other at once. And all of the buses looked they were from 1970.

Nevertheless, I had a lovely time in Poland. Szczecin was first stop.

Our main reason for stopping here was so mom could find more information on her (my) relatives. She made a contact, his name was Marek, and he helped her by speaking to the office that holds all of the registry books. We were able to see books documenting marriages, births, deaths anywhere from the year 1800 – 1920. We would have never been able to look at these books without Marek’s help. The Polish people don’t speak much English and even if they did Marek had to fight a bit to allow the clerk to let us see them.

So the three of us; my mom, my dad and myself poured over these books for several hours. It took awhile to get used to handwriting and exactly what you were looking at; whether it was a marriage or a birth, etc. And anything that had the name Schultz or Müller was something to write down for mom to go through later to see if anything matched. My mom actually found the something she had already known about, her great great great grandparents wedding but to see it written down in this book was an inspiring thing indeed.

After about five hours of researching we finally were finished with what we could find. We did a bit of sightseeing and we were again on our way, deeper into Poland towards the town of Bytow.

Saw the Prussian eagle everywhere

So many beautiful and very old buildings here in Szczecin


2011 · barcelona · catalonia · france · hotels · Road Trip · spain · travel


So it started off pretty uneventful. Caught the 8 a.m. flight to Paderborn, made a quick stop in Detmold to eat a brötchen with meerrettich (horseradish) Miree and I was off.

Felix bought me a fancy schmancy navigation thing (Navigon) and it was perfect! No worries on where to turn, was I supposed to take the A1 or was it the A5?? As I settled into the new car I jammed out to my CD mix of country and new downloads from iTunes, plus Felix downloaded the new Beastie Boys – yeah yeah right right. Okay! Just buy it already.

The ride was sweeeet! Nice car. I drove from 2 p.m. until about 10:30 when I spotted a hotel sign around the French town of Dommartin les Cuiseaux. Just look for the huge chicken statue (at the Aire du Poulet de Bresse) and you can’t miss it. It was a highway area with hotel (Etap), cafeteria, gift store, etc. I went to see if they had vacancy for lil ole me and the sign at the “front desk” directed me to go to the sandwich store. Even late at night there were three people waiting to get a sandwich, when it was my turn I asked for a room. “Oui, follow me.” An inexpensive 40 euros later and I was in my room.

I wasn’t expecting anything much, there were two doors in my room. One was for my port -o- potty looking toilet and the other with the similar look and feel, my shower. But my room!! Oh my gosh, much excitement to be held.

Are you KIDDING ME!?!? A bed AND a bunk bed!? I couldn’t decide, the bed seemed nice and comfy but how cool to sleep in a bunk bed, in France. Hmmm, I wonder what bunk bed is in french? Moment ~ lits superposés. Okay, I will never remember that. Next time in France, pardon, do you have una chambre avec les lits superposés? Ah yeah, that minor in french is really working for me now.  I was so overwhelmed with my sleeping arrangement choices that I switched every 15 minutes. (That is a joke my friends)

The next day I was up early and back on the road by 9:30. I was wanting to get to Barcelona at a decent hour to do a little shopping on Paseo de Gracia. I really needed a new bikini for the summer and a stop at Kiehl’s (LOVE) was in order.

I was in France for most of the day. The tolls! Don’t even get me started. For one, totally outrageous. I think I spent about 60 euros on tolls in France. But my most embarrassing (not to mention frustrating) moment was when I pulled into the line where I could pay with a credit card. When I got up there I put in my Visa. Spit it out. No toll gate going up. My other card. Nope. Then I see VISA and MASTERCARD with a line going through them. How is it possible they don’t accept Visa or MC? What is WTF in french? I pushed the help button. Nothing. I motioned to the people behind me (because of course there was a line forming) that I needed to back up. Or something. Did they have a gun? Not for me, for the machine.

This cute lil old man from the car behind me walked up to try to help. He spoke French to me, I spoke Spanish to him. (I was having a meltdown). FINALLY the gate raised. The gate controllers must have had a really nice laugh. You are welcome. The lil man said, “C’est bon!” I said “Gracias!” and I was back on my way. Note to all foreign travelers at all tolls – just go to the person in the booth.

Spain couldn’t get there fast enough. And then I was in Barcelona with billions of cars and 18 streets going off each round-about. Finally, I made it to the hotel, the Gran Torre Catalunya. From the outside it looks very uninviting, but it was a good price and for an extra charge of 10 euros I was bumped up to the 12th floor. I would have liked the view of Montjuic better but I didn’t mind what I had.

There is a restaurant on the top floor that overlooks Barcelona and a main transit station is almost next door. It is at a very busy area and I thought it would be louder but maybe since I was up on the 12th floor (instead of originally on the 3rd) it was quiet. Of course the occasional taxi horn here and there but you will get that almost anywhere in Barcelona. I tried to motivate myself to go to Paseo Gracia. I opened the minibar, had an Estrella beer, changed into my new maxi dress, sandles and left. I decided a brisk walk would be just what I needed, but after 20 min of walking I realized I still had at least an hour more to go and I changed my plans.

Plaza Espanya was close by so I headed back in that direction. Once I got there I realized the old bullfighting arena was there (no more bull fights in BCN) and I heard it was turned into apartments but there were people going in and out, so, I ventured in. It was … a MALL – Las Arenas. A really nice mall, lots of bright stores, a 12-screen cinema and at the very top was the rooftop terrace. From the terrace you could overlook Fira Montjuic and the Palau Reial while eating sushi or burgers or chinese. The view with my bowl of Miso soup:

I was up early again to find my way to the port. I won’t bore you with my frustration but this time Navigon was not helping, at least not at the minute necessary moments… But I made it! The last time I was on the ferry it was from Palma to BCN and it was in November. I figured it would be the same, no seating outside, just hanging out for eight hours wandering the expanse of the boat. But I was wrong! After my much needed late breakfast of salad, chicken and french fries all doused with vinegar I walked outside and at the end I found people sunbathing on cheap plastic white lounge chairs. There weren’t any chairs available by the time I discovered where everyone was but after watching two abandoned chairs I finally took one when nobody came back to claim them in 34.7 minutes.

It was me in my tanktop and rolled up pants surrounded by people in bathing suits (apparently I missed that memo), and naturally, the car convention.

And then finally after eight hours on the ferry, a sight for my sore, traveling tired eyes. Le Seu, the cathedral in Palma.

I was home.


drinkin' · familia · mexico joe'S · oooooooklahoma where the wind.... · Road Trip · usa

Oooklahoma where the wind blows over 3 million miles an hour….

  Could this possibly be the LONGEST blog about a trip. Seriously, I am trying to wrap it up….I just had too many fun things going on and I want to tell you about ALL of them. Wait don’t go. Really, next up is a road trip with my parents. Now who isn’t just dying to read about that. Mom, Dad, I love you and I had hours of endless entertainment from singing gospel and country songs. Here we go.

We left on an early hung over morning. People, I was in PAIN. See earlier blog on potent Mango-ritas from the Bombay Cricket Club. Plus, JungEun making more delicious mangoritas when we arrived back home. Not pretty, I woke up in the living room sleeping with my legs thrown over the loveseat I ended up sleeping on (let me just mention that my SIL ROCKS bc she slept on the other loveseat, just for me). I struggled to drink a ginger ale in the morning while we said our goodbyes.

And off to Stillwater, OK we go! Day ONE we headed down Hwy 5, through the cold and green Oregon woods. On into California, after passing Yreka we had a view of Mt. Shasta (I love that name, makes me thirsty though) and I was enthralled with the mountain. I KNOW you are dying to know why. I like to keep random strange things stored up in this brain of mine and I had just read an interesting article about this very mountain. Here:

“This stunning snow-capped peak in the Cascade Mountain range, 60 miles south of the Oregon border, has long been considered one of the planet’s great “cosmic power spots,” luring everyone from Native Americans to Buddhist monks and hippies. Its sacred slopes are home to a potpourri of mysteries: spontaneous altered states; UFO sightings; crystal caves; encounters with Ascended Masters; underground military bases; even the rumored home to Lemurians, surviving members of a sensitive super-race some believe existed 12,000 years ago during the time of Atlantis.”

Are you a believer now? I thought so. Me too. Okay, so while I drink this Kool-Aid we keep on Hwy 5 past Sacramento where we stop for the night and have dinner at Olive Garden. I LOVE Olive Garden’s salad. I used to love their breadsticks too but now they seem to need more butter and salt. Here, again, I was asked for my ID. What’s up people? I know I don’t look 21, especially after sitting in the car for twelve hours. Maybe they could still smell the Mango-rita fumes evaporating off me.

old mill on 40E

Day TWO brought us trucking onto Hwy 40E, where we spent hours and hours looking out onto endless desert land throughout Arizona and New Mexico. I took some pictures of random things – an old mill, a long train, my feet. DAY THREE and destination O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A! We had been in OK for no less than twenty minutes when I saw a cow fly by, it was seriously windy folks.

Being in Oklahoma was one of those don’t blink or you’ll miss it moments. But I got two very important things accomplished in less than 24 hours. I managed to get a new OK driver’s license and I met up with some very dear to my heart and hilariously funny friends that I have known since my teenaged (and younger) years.  The restaurant du jour? Mexico Joe’s, as always. What Stillwater visit would be complete without a Joe’s cup of beer and a chicken chimichanga? Extra queso and sour cream please.

Six a.m. arrived early on my blow up mattress (which was better then nothing, I know). I shoved all my clothes and 500 million Mexico Joe’s cups  into my suitcase and then off to the OKC airport. Time to see more fabulous friends in NYC! Life sure is rough these days.