Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef And A Helicopter Tour

I’m so glad our friend convinced us to visit the Great Barrier reef.  When I told her of our plans to visit Sydney, Australia, she somehow got the idea in my head to see the reef.  I’m so glad we did because it’s a memory I’ll never forget!

There’s a bunch of tour companies to choose from, and we chose the one that included a helicopter tour, which was a package deal we found on Ozexperience.com.  The boat ride was a rough 45 minutes to the first snorkeling sight and lots of people weren’t prepared for it.  Should you decide to snorkel the great barrier reef, I suggest taking motion sickness pills so you don’t puke on the boat.  As for me, I was fortunate enough to make it through but only because I popped 2 Dramamine pills before leaving shore.

The idea of snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef may sound romantic, but it’s definitely not easy to do.  I mean we did it, but the waters can be somewhat choppy and did annoy my ears.  Let’s just say it’s not like snorkeling the calm waters of Hawaii or at least Shark’s Cove anyway.

There’s also things that you should look out for like sting rays or jellyfish.  We didn’t wear wetsuits, but if you want to take extra precautions when you visit during stinger season, they offer wetsuits for coverage.

So with the boat we chose, we had 2 opportunities to snorkel at different locations.  We snorkeled the first time, got out of the water, forgot our towels, ate lunch, and decided to just dry off instead of going back for a second snorkel.  We only had a 30 minute window after lunch before our helicopter tour so we both didn’t want to miss our chance, and because we didn’t want to be wet and cold on the ride, we just decided to skip the second snorkel all together.

So things to remember:

  1. Dramamine
  2. A towel
  3. Extra clothes to change into.
  4. Don’t bring anything expensive.  There are no lockers.
  5. There’s options other than snorkeling like going on their glass bottom boat.  I kind of wish we did the glass bottom boat, but there just wasn’t enough time.

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London for a Day

My co-worker loves London.  Every time she flies to Europe, her first stop is London before jetting off to another country.  My husband and I went there back in 2011.  We took the Eurostar from Paris and all we had time to do for the day was sight see, but it was great for me because of all the architecture.

We walked so much.  From the train station to St. James Park to Westminster Abbey to the London Eye.  It was a lot of walking.

Below are just some of the pictures I snapped on our walking adventure.  Hope you enjoy!

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Westminster Abbey
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Westminster Abbey
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So many people lined up for a parade.  We didn’t stick around to see if the Queen was coming.
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St. James Park

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Oh the beautiful details
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Big Ben and Parliament
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Having some fish and chips because why not.

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10 Days in Oahu, Hawaii

It was my first trip to Hawaii and my husband’s second time back when we went together in 2010. We went for our friends’ wedding and stayed for 10 days on the island of Oahu.  We rented a car, drove around the island, hung out on the beach during the day, and ate so much Hawaiian food.  It was such a great and fun experience!

For first time visitors to Hawaii, I highly recommend going to Oahu first.  From what my Hawaiian friends tell me, it’s the most commercialized island, which isn’t a bad thing  because there’s a lot of things to do.  Whether you’re into shopping, surfing, snorkeling, or just wanting to lounge on the beach, there’s options.

Places that I recommend:

  1. Kailua Beach – this beach has gorgeous white sands that stretch for 2.5 miles.  This is our favorite beach on the island and we loved coming here to walk.
  2. North Shore – although crowded, we went for the shrimp trucks and Hawaiian shaved ice.
  3. Koko Head – this is a great hike if you want some physical activity on your trip.  For less intensity, there’s Diamond Head
  4. Boots & Kimo’s – banana mac pancakes.  YUM.
  5. Shark’s cove on the north shore – come here for an intimate snorkeling session.
  6. Ted’s Bakery – Haupia pie

Hawaiian food I recommend you try:

  1. Haupia pie
  2. Malasadas
  3. Shaved Ice
  4. North Shore shrimp trucks
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Kailua Beach
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Kailua Beach
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Shrimp truck
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Koko Head hike
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Koko Head hike
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Koko Head
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Shark’s Cove for snorkeling
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Bird’s nest
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Waimea gardens

Our 2 Day Stay in New York City

Below are just a few photos from our short trip to NYC back in 2011.  We stayed with my aunt in the Bronx so we saved a little money on accommodations.  Obviously, we had to prioritize our time so we made it a point to visit the Guggenheim, Central Park, and Top of the Rock.  We did just that plus a trip to Serendipity for their cold ‘hot chocolate’ and an unexpected musical to see Priscilla Queen of the Dessert courtesy of my aunt.  It was a fun filled 2 days in New York City for us newly weds.  Just a few months prior, we got married and this was our first trip together as husband and wife.

I could definitely do New York City all over again, but for an extended period of time.  I’d like to at least stay for 4 days just to soak everything in, and I’d want to go shopping, see a better musical on Broadway, and eat at Peter Luger’s because our friends told us so much about the place.  If we ever go back, I’d kind of want to go for New Year’s eve just for the experience.  I definitely wouldn’t want to be out in the frigid cold, but instead, I’d want to be in one of the hosted parties waiting for the ball to drop.

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Roof of the Guggenheim
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Had to get this because of the movie, Serendipity. #fomo

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From Top of the Rock overlooking Central Park
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From Top of the Rock
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Times Square

Day Trip to Washington D.C.

Below are photos from our day trip to Washington D.C. in 2011.  At the time we were staying in Atlantic City and the drive down took 3 hours.  We didn’t mind the drive since it was our first time visiting the northeast.  In fact, it was rather an adventure for us although somewhat of a rude awakening because of the amount of toll roads crossed.  Over here in California we take our freeways for granted, and that was when I figured out where the name ‘freeway’ is from.

I’d definitely like to visit Washington D.C. again and spend a little more time in their museums since they’re free.  I’d also like to tour the White House because who wouldn’t right?  Historical buildings are just amazing to see!

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Lincoln Memorial
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The scale of the Lincoln Memorial is amazing.  I think seeing this in person blew me away.

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Vietnam Memorial
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Vietnam Memorial
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U.S. State capitol building
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U.S. State capital buildings

When We Went to Chicago

Chicago is a beautiful city.  We had the opportunity to visit in 2012 when our friends got married in Omaha, Nebraska.  And since we were in the mid-west, we made it a point to see downtown Chicago.  We purchased the CityPass because it gained us entry into the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck, Willis Tower, and the Art Institute of Chicago.  It was definitely a packed itinerary with a visit to Millennium Park, Lincoln Park Zoo, and gorging ourselves on deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s.  It was a fun trip and we could definitely visit Chicago again.

Below are some of my favorite pictures from our trip.  Hope you enjoy!

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View from the Shedd Aquarium balcony overlooking the city
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Sue inside the Field Museum
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Looking down from the Willis Tower
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Cloud Gate in Millennium Park
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Buckingham Fountain

Universal Studios in Hollywood

Our trip to Universal Studios was actually fun.  It was my first time ever going, and the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter park was the thing that got me to visit.  I can’t say I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, but I can say I did read all 7 books and watched all 7 movies.  So in a way, I am a fan but not unlike others who go above and beyond that.

The Harry Potter park is probably my favorite part of Universal Studios.  As a fan and also one who appreciates architecture, I loved walking through Hogsmeade and the castle.  The spaces are well thought out and creatively designed that it’s worth a trip despite the crowds.

Below are just a few photos I took at the park.  Hope you enjoy and find inspiration to go!

Trip duration: 2 day park pass (Aug 2016)

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Waterworld show
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Universal’s animal actors show
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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter