The breakfast at Best Western was one of the selling points for us, since we were trying to stick to a budget on this trip. I wasn’t exactly sure what we were in for, but we were pleasantly surprised!
Our first morning was an early one, so we got breakfast right after the room opened up at 6:30. We were the first ones there, and not many more people showed up before we headed out for the day. Granted, we also we getting to the parks really early, since it was our first day and we were wanting to beat the crowds (the park didn’t open until 9:00).
I’m a pretty picky eater, so I had the same thing for breakfast every morning. Brian, on the other hand, decided to switch it up from morning to morning. They had a decent selection of food, which I really appreciated.
For hot foods, they had make your own waffles, with all sorts of toppings and warm syrup. Those seemed to be a hit with most guests that I saw over our stay. There was also sausage patties, egg patties, hard boiled eggs, and potatoes. I appreciated the toaster, which they had english muffins and a few varieties of bread for.
There was also an oatmeal machine, which I thought was really cool! We didn’t have any, but it seemed like a neat idea. Across from the oatmeal machine was a fridge of yogurt, which had both regular yogurt and Greek yogurt. There was a toppings station right there, as well.
If you’re a cereal kind of breakfast person, there were four different options, along with two different types of milk. We also can't forget the pastry case! There were donuts, muffins, and danishes. They also had a juice machine, and a water filter, which we used to fill up our water bottle every morning.
For me, breakfast every morning was an english muffin with a piece of sausage (I made it into a sandwich), some juice, and a piece of fruit (they had apples and bananas). For Brian, it was either a waffle or yogurt, sausage, and some juice. We’re not very exciting with our breakfast choices, but I’m honestly really glad they have such a large variety! I know that it can be hard to please everyone in your group, so variety is important!
First, I want to apologize for how long it has taken me to get these blog posts up! I’ve been actively trying to unpack my apartment, which I moved into right before our trip. On top of that, Christmas has made life a little crazy! I also was home sick for two days before Christmas, and thought I’d get the blog stuff done then. Boy, oh boy was I wrong!
Now that I’m done with my lame excuses, let’s get on to all the Disneyland fun!!! We landed pretty early on Thursday, and got to our hotel around 10:30 or so. Our room wasn’t ready, but the front desk took our bags and told us they’d be in our room when we got back.
We grabbed water bottles from our luggage and headed towards Downtown Disney! We hadn’t eaten since way too early that morning, so we were on the hunt for food. As we walked by all of the restaurants at Downtown Disney, we looked at their menus. I really appreciate that they’ve all got menus outside their doors, so you can see if you’d be interested before you actually take a seat. I’m a super picky eater, and typically search menus online before dining out, so I really liked being able to look at a menu with no pressure to eat there.
After looking at every menu, we ultimately decided to head over to Trader Sam’s. They don’t open until 11:30, and we were there around 11:15. There was a group waiting at the door, so we decided to wander the lobbies of the towers at the Disneyland Hotel while we waited for the place to open. Little did we know, the line was down the stairs when we came back at 11:30! There were about five groups ahead of us, and one was relatively large.
The good news is that we were able to snag some seats at the bar, although the place was completely full by 11:45. I’d highly suggest getting there at 11:30 if you’re wanting to make sure you grab a spot. Our bartender said that pretty much any time before 4:30 isn’t slammed. We came back another night and the place was super busy.
We each ordered a drink, as well as the Pupu Platter. The food came out a lot faster than I was expecting, which I was thankful for. The last thing we wanted to do was drink alcoholic beverages on completely empty stomachs. We both ordered seasonal Christmas themed drinks, which came out shortly after our food.
The Pupu Platter has Sweet and Spicy Asian Wings, Fried Spring Rolls, Panko-crusted Chinese Long Beans, Lettuce Mix, and Sriracha Aïoli. It was only $17, which I thought was a great price. It was the perfect amount of food for us to share, and it didn’t overly fill us up. The wings were spicier than I had expected, and may be too spicy for some people. We loved them, but I know that my mom (who can’t handle spicy food), would have downed a glass of water after a single bite. I wasn’t sure about the salad at first, but ultimately I was the one that ate it, and I thought it was delicious. The long beans were delicious, especially with the sauce that they served. The spring rolls were good, but also could have used a sauce to go with them that wasn’t creamy.
For drinks, we got Under the Swizzletoe (Chartreuse Liqueur, Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice, and Falernum Syrup, dusted with Cinnamon and Nutmeg and garnished with a Mint sprig) and Rum Around the Christmas Tree (Spiced Rum, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Apple Juice, with Ginger Syrup garnished with an Apple Slice and dusted with Cinnamon). We both loved our drinks, and thought they were wonderfully festive. I had the rum drink, and loved that it tasted like boozy apple cider. I thought it was funny that my garnish ended up being a lemon slice, since it was supposed to come with an apple. That’s OK though! I’m guessing they hadn’t prepped any yet for the day. Overall, we had a great time at Trader Sam’s, and ended up coming back a few nights later with a friend of mine!
After we were done at Trader Sam’s, we walked through Paradise Pier, and I loved their Christmas tree! We also found a Fuel Rod machine, which I think is an awesome concept. Since people are using their phones so much with MaxPass, Disney has introduced Fuel Rods. They’re portable chargers for micro-USB and lightning (iPhone) devices. The cool thing about them though is that you can swap them out as often as you’d like, and there are machines all across the Disneyland Resort. We spotted one at Paradise Pier, one at Grand Californian, and a few throughout the parks. Their cost is right around $30, and you can take them home and recharge them, too. We personally bring our own portable chargers, but I may invest in one of these! They’re a lot smaller (and I’m assuming lighter) than our chargers, which would be a huge convenience. The biggest problem we had is that Brian’s phone is a USB-C, which the chargers don’t support.
There’s not a ton to see at Paradise Pier, so we headed back to Downtown Disney, so we could check out all the shops and restaurants. We ended up at Marceline's Confectionery, where we got a special gingerbread rice crispy Mickey. It was adorable, and had a really interesting taste! I think Brian liked it more than I did, but he’s also a bigger fan of gingerbread than I am. The sugar topping on it had an interesting spice blend, which definitely grew on me as we ate it. I really didn’t like the first bite. Eventually, he had to finish it, because it was too sweet for me.
We strolled into the Grand Californian, mainly to check out their gingerbread house. It was gorgeous, as was their tree. I absolutely love that resort, but I think it’s because it reminds me so much of Wilderness Lodge at WDW, which was my home for six months in 2010.
After walking through the Grand Californian, we were starting to drag. Our day had started at 3:30, since we had to get to the airport for our 6:00 flight. We went to the Starbucks at Downtown Disney and got ourselves some iced coffee. I love that this location has the Clover machines, because it makes the coffee taste that much better. Of course, I’m a former Starbucks barista, so I’m a total coffee snob. That being said, I think every iced coffee fan should try one of their Reserve coffees from a Clover at least once!
After finishing our coffees, we walked around World of Disney, but decided not to buy anything at that moment. While WOD has a lot of merchandise, they definitely don’t carry everything you can find in the parks. We ended up buying things from a few different stores in the parks, but ultimately came back to WOD on our last day to buy everything we had seen on our first day (like Brian’s Utini shirt).
When we were done browsing, we headed over to Tortilla Joe’s for their happy hour. We sat out on the patio and watched the construction at Splitsville, which I’m super excited about! They weren’t super busy, and our server was really great. I had sangria and Brian got a mojito. We were hungry, so we got an order of tater tot nachos to share and ate some chips are salsa. For us, the salsa was a little bland. However, those chips are delicious! Our meal there was filling enough for us, so we decided to move on!
Our next stop was UVA Bar, which I thought had a happy hour. However, there was nothing about it anywhere, and our server seemed pretty busy, so we each just got a drink and then headed out. Not too exciting.
After UVA Bar, we decided to start heading back towards the hotel, since we were getting pretty tired from our long day of travel. On our way, we made a detour to Garden Walk, because I knew they had a few restaurants and that our small bites throughout the day were not going to be enough for us for the night. Much to my surprise, we stumbled upon the new location for House of Blues! And even better, it was still happy hour time! I personally love the food at HOB, so I was really excited that they only relocated, versus closing.
When we got to HOB, there were people standing in line to be seated, and the host was telling them that they were completely packed with reservations, due to a sold out Pennywise show that night Lucky for us, we just wanted to go to the bar! We grab seats at the bar, and had a great conversation with our bartender about the new location and how well they were doing. I LOVED the new location, especially because the lighting was so much better than every other HOB I’ve ever been to. They had more theater space, which is great for them, and the restaurant was bigger too!
We ordered the jalapeño cheese cornbread, because I knew Brian would devour it (and I was right) and I ordered myself another sangria, while Brian has a Moscow Mule. After we finished the cornbread, we realized we were still hungry, so we got the happy hour popcorn shrimp, which was absolutely delicious!
Once we were done at HOB, we decided it was finally time to head back to the hotel. When we got there, we checked back in at the front desk. Lucky for us, the same girl that originally checked us in that morning was working, so she recognized us. We got our room keys and headed to our first floor room. Our bags were all in the room when we got there, which I was appreciative of.
I did my quick FB live tour and then we pretty much crashed for the night, since we knew we were going to be up early the next day!
As some of you may know, we had originally planned on doing a trip to Walt Disney World in September. That trip ultimately had to be canceled, but this last minute trip was booked as a replacement! We traveled to Disneyland from November 30 to December 4, and I booked the trip at the end of September. For me, that was pretty last minute! I’m such a planner (obviously) that this trip seemed a little rushed to put together. The good news though is that we didn’t have as long of a countdown as my usual trips!
This trip, we stayed at Best Western Plus Raffles Inn & Suites, which are about three-quarters of a mile from the entrance to the park. I did a video tour of our room via Facebook live, which you can find here. They were doing a 4th night free promotion, which was my deciding factor for booking the room. On my last trip to Disneyland, I stayed at the Courtyard right across the street, and the walk to the parks wasn’t bad. According to my Apple Watch, it’s about 0.8 miles from the hotel to the security entrance at the park.
When we got to the hotel on Thursday, it was only about 11, so our room wasn’t going to be ready for awhile. Luckily, the front desk checked our bags and told us they’d be in our room when we got back, since we were heading to Downtown Disney. When we got back to the hotel that evening, we stopped by the front desk for our room key, and when we got to the room all four of our bags were there!
Our room was on the bottom floor, which was nice because we didn’t have to climb any stairs at the end of the day. It was also a straight shot back from the entrance to the hotel, which made it more accessible for us at the end of the day, too! The room itself seemed to have been recently renovated. The floors were all tile, which I thought was a little strange. I liked the look of it, but those floors were pretty cold when we woke up!
The shower was big (no tub in our room), and the water pressure was good. There were two sinks, which would be ideal for a family trying to all get ready at once.
My one complaint about the place was our beds. We didn’t mind that they were only full size, versus the queen we have at home. The big issues were the fact that they were rock hard, and had no real blankets. There was a thin sheet and a “cover” for the bed, but no actual blankets or weight to what we had. Our first night we both slept horribly, and I was freezing all night long. I’m sure if we had called the front desk, they would have had options for us. We were just so tired the next three nights that it didn’t matter to us.
The beds really were the only downside to the hotel, and even then we made do just fine. After spending all day at the parks, I think I could have fallen asleep on the tile floor just fine!
Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take any pictures in our hotel room. So, my live video is all I’ve got!
My next post is going to be about the breakfast options at BW, which was a big selling point for me when I booked the hotel.
Last weekend (Nov. 30 - Dec. 4) was our four night trip to Disneyland. We had three days in the park, and got to Anaheim at about noon on Thursday. We had a wonderful time, and I’ve actually got a few different recaps that I wanted to share with everyone.
I took a lot of pictures (I’m sure I drove Brian crazy) over the course of our trip, and even posted a few live videos on my Facebook page. The first thing I wanted to share though was our packing list!
Something to keep in mind is that this packing list is only for two adults, and not accounting for things you might need for kiddos. We also were packing for fall versus summer, and not planning for things to entertain us in line.
While this list is everything (mostly) that we packed, we definitely didn’t use everything! Am I the only one that always packs my own hair dryer and literally never uses it?
This list also doesn't include our basic clothes that we packed. We basically packed what we needed for all of our days, plus an extra outfit.
We also didn’t realize what a pain bag check was going to be until the second day. On our first day we had about five different bags inside our backpack, and made sure we didn’t make that same mistake a second time!
Our Packing List (with notes)
Do you have that one item you can't live without when you travel? Anything you would add to the list?
So, I know I’m over a month behind, but life has gotten away from me. I wanted to tell you about my trip to Seattle for my birthday weekend, and the solar eclipse!
We booked a room at W Seattle for Saturday and Sunday night, which was amazing. We got into town a little early, but the hotel was able to get us checked in. For a small fee, they even upgraded our room to having a Space Needle view (they call the room a Mega Room), which was totally worth it.
The hotel definitely has a young and hip vibe about it, which I thought was fitting for us. I will say, the parking prices there were outrageous, so that’s something to keep in mind. We were lucky enough to have someone (shoutout to my mom) willing to drop us off and pick us up, so we didn’t have to shell out the $40 per night for parking near the hotel.
Once we got settled into our room, we were starving. My first stop was to visit the Steak ‘n Shake that opened last year in Seattle. I was so excited to have some food from my time living in the South. The restaurant was a short walk from the hotel, but definitely not in the greatest part of downtown. When we walked in, I was so confused by the entire layout of the place. You walk directly up to a counter, place your order, and then take a seat in their modern looking dining room. The menu was super limited, so I order a Frisco Melt combo, and we shared it.
The place didn’t have the Steak ‘n Shake feel that I know and love, but the food tasted spot on. I found it interesting that the prices were so high, although the $7.99 for my melt did include fries. Another interesting thing about this location is that it was one of the first to sell alcohol. All in all, I’m glad I’ve got a location nearby, but I don’t think I’ll be making it a regular stop when I’m in Seattle.
After we were done at Steak ‘n Shake, we headed back to the hotel to meet up with my mom and her best friend. They wanted to see what our room was like before they headed back down south. I loved the aesthetic of the room and the view. Everyone’s favorite thing about the room though was the size. For a standard hotel room, the place was a lot bigger than we had expected.
Once we were done giving Mom an Tracy a tour, we decided to go have second lunch. Tracy had specific dietary restrictions, so we ended up at Yard House because they would fit her needs. We only really snacked, since we had eaten the Frisco Melt about an hour prior. We both got a beer, and I enjoyed the overall atmosphere of the place. It's hard to believe that the location used to be a Borders bookstore!
After our Yardhouse stop, we headed towards Seattle Center. Our end game was A Pizza Mart, but we had a few hours to kill, so we stopped at a few different places along the way.
We happened to end up walking past Dahlia Lounge during their happy hour, so we stopped in and enjoyed the ambiance. Their dinner menu is something that has never appealed to me, but their drinks and bar snacks were delicious. Their happy hour cocktails are seasonal, so definitely check out their current happy hour menu before you head over!
After Dahlia Lounge, we stopped at a place that had been on my list of places to check out! Navy Strength is a tiki bar that pours strong drinks and has awesome bartenders! We didn’t have anything to eat, but we got a few drinks and talked with the bartenders for awhile. The place had some really interesting concoctions and we thoroughly enjoyed them. We wanted to come back on Sunday, but they’re unfortunately closed on Sundays. We will definitely be making a stop back up there sometime soon though!
After we finished up at Navy Strength, we finally made our way to A Pizza Mart. A friend of mine from college is a bartender and wanted me to stop by to celebrate my birthday. When we arrived, there had been a kitchen mishap and they were temporarily closed. It was suggested that we check out the Five-Point Cafe down the street while we wait for the place to reopen. I’d never even heard of Five-Point before, but the place has a really interesting vibe to it! It’s a 24 hour diner that is also a 21+ establishment. We got some chili cheese tots while we waited, and they were delicious.
We finally made it back to A Pizza Mart and ordered a delicious pizza while we were there. We’ve actually been to another location since that visit and gotten the same pizza. It was just as delicious! We had a great time hanging out and catching up with my friend, and actually saw our bartender from Dahlia Lounge, who happens to be a regular at that particular A Pizza Mart location! What are the odds of that??
After A Pizza Mart, we had to make the long trek back to the hotel, and ended up sleeping in until almost noon the next day! Once we were up and ready to go, we headed down to the waterfront to find ourselves some lunch. We went to Elliott’s Oyster House and each had their caesar salad and clam chowder combination plate. It was delicious and the perfect way to start our day!
After lunch, we wandered around the waterfront for a while since the weather was so great. The next stop was Pike Place Market, and then we took a look at some of the shops up and down 1st Avenue. We had tickets for the Underworld Tour that night, so we headed over to Pioneer Square. The tour is part of Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour, but this one is adults only. It goes to the same places as the regular tour, but discusses much more adult aspects of Seattle’s past. It was a great tour, and I learned a lot of new things. Even if you’ve done the Underground Tour, I’d suggest going on the Underworld Tour (if you’re into that sort of thing).
We decided to get Chinese food to eat after the tour, so we headed over to Genghis Khan for dinner. There were good reviews online, so we grabbed some food to go and headed back to our hotel to call it a night. There’s something about eating take-out Chinese food in a hotel room that just makes it taste so much better to me! We ended up ordering way too much food, but it was pretty good! I’m not a huge chow mein fan, but their special chow mein was actually pretty good! We also got chicken wings, which were delicious.
Monday was my actual birthday, and also the solar eclipse! Seattle wasn’t in the path of totality, but we got pretty close! When we woke up, we realized we didn’t have any ideas for where to actually go to see the eclipse. I bought us tickets to go to Smith Tower, since neither of us had ever been. We were really excited, so we headed out to grab breakfast on our way.
For breakfast we went to Biscuit Bitch, since I had heard so many great things about the place. I had a biscuit sandwich, and it was amazing! I also tried the biscuits and gravy, which were really good. They were playing 90s pop music the entire time we were there, and I loved it! The entire vibe of the place was awesome, and their coffee was pretty good too!
After breakfast it was time to head to Smith Tower! At this point, we were about an hour out from the eclipse passing over us, which we thought meant we’d have plenty of time. Boy were we wrong. We got our passes and headed up to the elevators, where we got into line behind about 50 other people. The elevator can only take a few people at a time, and after a half hour of not moving, we realized it was a bad idea. We were told that the observation deck had reached capacity and there was no way they could let any more people up. I was a little disappointed, and also concerned because we were about 15 minutes from go time! They told us all that we would be refunded and that we could come back after the eclipse to take care of the refund.
Needless to say, we had no idea where to go! We walked and walked, hoping to find a good spot. While we were walking, I actually ran into a friend’s husband, which was a nice surprise! He was working at an office near Smith Tower and happened to be outside, trying to catch the eclipse. We chatted for a few minutes, and then continued on our journey.
Luckily, we ended up wandering right into CenturyLink Field’s parking lot! Not only did we find a great, open space but the field itself was open, too! We walked into the plaza at the bottom of the stairs, where there were a few other people, and enjoyed the eclipse from such a perfect spot! It honestly all worked out so well, and we were able to get our refund and a discount on the next time we come to visit. We would have been allowed up for free, but we had to get back to our hotel room for check out!
Overall, the trip was great, and I saw a lot of new things in downtown Seattle. I’ve lived here for a majority of my 28 years, and I still find new and exciting things every time I visit Seattle! It’s a wonderful city and if you’ve never been, I highly suggest a visit!
Have you ever put off planning a vacation because you hated the idea of having to look for the best deals and figure out all of the logistics that go along with it?
The good news is that travel agents still exist! We're not in your local mall anymore, or at least not as frequently as we used to be.
Planning vacations is something I love to do, both for myself and others. After three different instances working for Disney (I'll get to that in a later post, don't worry!), I am constantly helping people plan their Disney trips. At the end of 2016, I saw that a few fellow Disney employees were branching out into being travel agents, and I thought that sounded like an awesome job. I did a little research and found an agency that seemed like it would be a good fit for me.
Just like every job, I submitted my resume and application, had my interview, and got offered a position! I've been an official travel agent since February 2017, but I've been helping people plan their vacations for the better half of the last ten years.
When it comes to vacation, Disney is definitely my specialty. It's what I know best, and it's what I'm the most passionate about. However, that doesn't mean that I can't help you plan other vacations! If it's somewhere I've been, I'd love to help. If it isn't a place I've been, I will happily utilize my travel agency resources (AKA my fellow agents) to help you with planning.
Let me give you a little back story on who I am.
I am also a total and complete foodie. When it comes to travel, I plan my destinations according to food. I've got to say, my favorite food destination is a tie between China (Chengdu, to be exact) and New Orleans, LA. I love spicy food, and I love having freshly prepared meals, whether it's veggies, meat, or seafood.
Travel is is one of my favorite things in life, but food is a very close (if not tied) second. My plan for this blog is to give you, my clients (and potential clients) different tips and tricks on travel, while also introducing you to my own travel experiences. Along with that, I will forewarn you that my blog posts may be pretty Disney heavy. When they're not Disney, they will likely be related to somewhere I've recently traveled, or a delicious meal and/or drink I recently had on a trip.
My next post is going to be about my trip to Seattle for my birthday and the solar eclipse last weekend. It was a great trip, and I'm excited to share about my experiences.
What different things would you like to see me post about? I've got a list of ideas, but I'd love to see what everyone else is interested in learning about!