Sister’s Vacation #1

Strap in and get some popcorn, y’all. This post is going to be a long one! It’s an exciting one for sure. It’s the first time my sister and I go on a vacation together! As a graduation gift, I flew her out to LA so we can hang out and vacation.

I’ll break it down into the days she was here:

Wednesday
My sister flew in Wednesday evening, and she accompanied me to the Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood because I was judging the Hard Rock Rising contest for LA.

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I was one of three judges–one was a rockstar photographer and then the second was a freelance writer for various publications. The Hard Rock was super nice, and they treated us to a free, delicious dinner–funny story I thought I could eat a huge ass burger but it failed miserably.

Three acts performed that night, and each one rocked a different genre. I won’t go into details about each performance but here are the names and links:

1) Brandon Wildish

2) Bash Dogs

3) High Sunday

As a music enthusiast, I enjoy listening to new music, and I was honored to be asked to be a judge for this event. I like discovering new acts and helping them with exposure.

Thursday
The first day of the Sister’s Vacation started deliciously at Blu Jam Café. It’s an amazing brunch place that always has a line waiting for almost an hour—but it’s so worth it. Not only that, but it’s only five minutes away from my apartment!

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This is the place that introduced me to the fine dining of eggs benedict. I’m slightly exaggerating cause this is the only place where I love eating them. If you’re ever in the Sherman Oaks/Van Nuys or Melrose area, stop by the café. You’ll love it.

Here’s something I’ve never done before, and it was one of the things my sister really wanted to do: we were in the audience for Jimmy Kimmel Live! We almost didn’t get in cause of a capacity thing. After waiting for almost an hour ahead of time in line, we were basically at the front when they cut us off—said they were doing a final count and finding out if there were any last seats left.

Twenty more minutes went by and then they said they had a few seats left…and…we got the last two seats! Only downside is that we were seated in the very back. But we were going to be watching the show live! We did our best to cheer and scream at the punch lines and comedy skits—did such a good job that you can actually hear my sister screaming at the spelling bee!

Jimmy hosted Will Arnett promoting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows movie. Afterwards, Snoop Dogg was brought on to promote his upcoming album coming out in July. It’s amazing how long he’s been in the music industry and still makes a name for himself. Later, we were all escorted outside to watch him perform.

We didn’t stay too long, though it was a short performance anyway, we decided to stop by a launch party for the new Transformers mobile game: Earth Wars. It turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought! Not that I thought it was going to be a dull party, but me, as an extreme introvert, I get very anxious and awkward at networking events and always say, “I’m gonna spend maybe an hour at most at this event.” We ended up staying much longer: Tavy was digging the food, I was talking with developers and the makers of the game, we took pictures with Bumblebee and we both played virtual games! I wish I had the monies to get VR goggles…

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As a gift, the PR company (Rogers and Cowan) gave us Hasbro totes with Transformers toys! It’s currently sitting on my tall dresser with my other nerdy knick-knacks. For the rest of the night we had planned on going to the bar down the street (where I saw James Marsden) but we were so tired and had to trek to Carlsbad the next day, so we stayed in and went to bed early.

Friday
The adventure to the resort was a surprisingly two and a half hour trek. On a Friday in LA I was expecting much worse. We couldn’t check in until 4pm so when we got there a couple hours early, we had lunch at a sushi place, and it was happy hour! Score! Got our usual $70-$80 amount of food for only half the price, which is always a good thing.

Next we went to the store to get some snacks and alcohol since we never get to drink together much. We’ll have an entire hotel room to ourselves so we wanted to have some fun!

Driving into the resort we were greeted by an employee, a young man who literally just sits in the sun providing information to guests. My sister and I called him Jordan, even though his name was not Jordan. Why you ask? This goes back to the old days when Tavy and I used to dream about going on a sister’s vacation/adventure like Mary-Kate and Ashley in their movies. Traveling to exotic places (though Carlsbad is not as exotic) like the Bahamas, Paris, London, etc. In the Bahamas-based movie Our Lips Our Sealed Ashley’s character finds love with a hotel resort employee named Jordan.

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We were spending the weekend at Park Aviara Golf Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, CA. This place was incredibly nice. Sophisticated. Tranquil. I wish I could live there. The rooms make you feel like you’re in Greece, bright white walls with the sun shining vibrantly through the windows. They provide you with comfortable robes and slippers to wear in the room, and the beds are heaven. I can go into more detail about amenities but check the website for all that goodness!

After settling in, we chilled out by the poolside and had a few drinks. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in a pool, relaxing. When my family came to visit for my birthday, we tried hanging out by the pool, but it was overcast and 60 degrees. We sat in the water, swam around a little bit then we went to the hot tub, which was quite relaxing.

For dinner, we went to the local restaurant, which we were kindly chauffeured to. It was an expensive dinner, but well worth the delicious flavors. Filet mignon, half a dozen oysters, seafood paella, the works. When it comes to family dinners, no matter how big or small, we always go big. Our parents taught us to have adventurous, expansive pallets and treat us to tasty, different foods.

To close out the night, we initially wanted to play a drinking game to the movie Pitch Perfect, however, I had never seen the movie before so I quickly became invested in it and 86’d the game. It was actually a good movie like everyone has said. It was quite enjoyable.

Saturday
The day was solely dedicated to going to the San Diego Zoo. We both haven’t been before but heard that it was the best. I was a little hesitant only because zoos tend to be kinda smelly, to put it bluntly, and I don’t know how enjoyable going would be if you’re distracted by the smell.

It was pretty cool to see “wild” animals in real life, especially the monkeys. They were all running around in the trees, chasing each other, picking their nose and eating it. It was very cute. The zoo is a big place, we got lost a few times following a map and it was a lot of walking. Not only that, but the sun was high and the heat was getting to us—I sweat very easily. The lucky animals had shade to chill in—the gorillas were even sleeping.

Some of the coolest things to see were the alligators; there were some in the turtle tank with a long skinny snout. They sat so still, basking in the sun, that Tavy thought they were fake and were there for aesthetics. Later we saw jaguars taking a quick dive in a little pool, jumping around and swimming. It was pretty cool to see.

While walking through all of the exhibits, though all very cool, I couldn’t help wonder if the animals are happy living in captivity this way. I’m sure the zoo takes good care of them but they looks so bored, inactive.

After the zoo, we got a quick bite at Chick Fil A with a coupon for free sandwiches. So delicious. I wish there was one closer to where I live. I have to drive 30 minutes otherwise.

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We got back to the hotel and had another relaxing poolside and hot tub chill out session. Later, we ordered room service—Tavy’s favorite—and watched Toy Story. It was a super chill night.

Sunday
Since we had to check out by 11am anyway, we decided to go to Disneyland as the last big thing to end our vacation. The last time she was in town she really wanted to go, but I had never ventured out on my own enough yet so I was hesitant. Here we are two years later, me 25 years old, her 21 years old, going to the happiest place on Earth.

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Our goal for the day was to ride everything in the park—minus Splash Mountain cause I absolutely hate rollercoasters that have drops in them. Especially on that ride where there are no seatbelts or harnesses to hold me down, I feel like I’m going to be thrown out of the seat.

We managed to get on all the rides, even rode two of the best ones twice. That would be Space Mountain and Indiana Jones. The lines were surprisingly not that long. The most we had to wait was about an hour for the first round of Space Mountain, which is what we did as soon as we got there.

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My favorite part of the day was taking pictures with the characters. Tavy is the only person who would do that with me. Any time I’ve gone with Robert, he’s too boring, too “old” to take the pictures. Tavy and I took photos with the Aladdin crew, Woody from Toy Story and storm troopers, finally. Funny story, one other time I was at Disneyland, I tried fist bumping a storm trooper while waiting in line for Star Tours, and he faked me out! Went halfway to fist bump then pull it back, syke! So this time around I was determined to redeem myself. Mission accomplished.

Being at the park with my sister brought me back to family vacations. We have photo albums on photo albums with pictures from those trips. Tavy and I reminisced about old memories of being at Disneyland and Disneyworld. We were so innocent and unaware back then and probably not as appreciative as we are now about spending the day there.

I couldn’t have picked a better way to end our Sister’s Vacation. With us being in different time zones, it’s hard to keep in touch and even harder to spend quality time together. After this trip, we’re definitely making this a yearly thing. I love my sister. She’s my best friend, my confidante and the one person who I can rely on the most. I couldn’t ask for a better sister.

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