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Friday, September 18, 2009

New York Hotels cont:

STEP TWO: So now that I have my top eight list it's time to narrow them down. They are all in the Mid-Town area but some are in less ideal locations then others. I use Google Maps to plot them based on how close they are to stuff I want to see based on researching each of the areas.

A lot of the hotels I mentioned are near Times Square which upon a closer look is not the ideal area to be staying in. So I've kept some of the old hotels and added some new ones. Here's the updated list.

Holiday Inn Manhattan Downtown - $257
138 Lafayette Street

Radisson Lexington Hotel New York - $252
511 Lexington Ave at 48th St

Wellington Hotel - $279 (On the Macy’s Parade Route)
871 7th Ave

Empire Hotel - $239 (almost on Central Park)
44 W 63rd Street

Intercontinental – The Barclay - $273
111 E 48th St

W New York - $263 (right by the Waldorf)
541 Lexington Avenue

The areas that these are located fit one of the following:

  1. Near Greenwich
  2. Near Soho
  3. On the route of the Macy's Day Parade
  4. Near Central Park
  5. Near northern Park Ave
STEP THREE: From here I would normally go to each of the websites and nitpick the photos of the rooms since that's the most important part of the hotel to me, but my gut says to stay at the W New York for the following reasons:
  1. It is right in the middle of my price range.
  2. I'm going with my mom who is a Starwood Member so we may get upgraded or else at least she'll get points.
  3. It's in the sweet spot of the shopping which will be one of our main activities.
  4. It's near almost all the other things I want to see.
  5. It had good reviews on Trip Advisor and good reviews from people I know who have been to New York.

STEP FOUR: Time to book my hotel and then move on to planning my itinerary for the 3.5 days I'll be there!

W New York

541 Lexington Avenue
$263 per night

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New York Hotels

So I'm headed to New York for Thanksgiving this year. I have never been and have started researching hotels. My critieria:

1) Between $200-$300 a night.
2) Stay near Mid-Town.
3) Check In / Check Out times works.

STEP ONE: I first put in the information above into Expedia and to find some hotels that fit the above critieria. Then I check them on Trip Advisor and other review sites to find out what people are saying about them. From this information I make a first round list.

W New York: $263/night
Room Type:
The Wonderful Room - 1 Queen
My research for this hotel shows that Starwood Members sometimes get upgraded. Reviews overall are mixed with some saying the employees are a little snotty and the rooms are small but chic.

Millennium UN Plaza: $257/night
Room Type:
My research here shows big rooms with great views. Reviews also say that you should stay in the West Tower.

Paramount Hotel Times Square New York: $245/night
Room Type: Renovated Broadway Classic
This just got a bunch of reviews raving about the location. It did mention the rooms were small but that seems to be the case with New York.

The New Yorker Hotel: $265/night
Room Type: Metro Room-2 Doubles-Renovated Dbl
More mixed reviews. They mentioned poor service...not good.

Hilton Garden Inn New York/West 35th Street: $269/night
Room Type:
This place has rave reviews.

Ink48 Hotel, a Kimpton Hotel: $208/night
Room Type: King Deluxe Room
No reviews but it looks nice and is cheap for a four star hotel. Cheap is good!

Stay: $259/night
Room Type:
Very small rooms but otherwise amazing reviews.

STEP TWO: So now that I have my top eight list it's time to narrow them down. They are all in the Mid-Town area but some are in less ideal locations then others. I use Google Maps to plot them based on how close they are to stuff I want to see.

Check back tomorrow to see where the list is now.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Travel Pictures on Facebook

I've been uploading photos on Facebook of my trips to the following places:

1) Austin, Texas
2) Salt Lake City, Utah
3) Bend, Oregon

Check them out at

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

So this is what all the fuss is about!

So, I have finally eaten from the Kogi BBQ truck. The Kogi truck is the infamous L.A. traveling restaurant that uses Twitter to tell customers where they will be next. When it was first introduced, there were lines for blocks to eat this stuff. I am unfortunately much too lazy to stand in line so I never made the effort.

That is until a couple weeks ago when a coworker told me the Kogi truck was down the street from our office. My friend and I hopped in my car and headed to the truck only to find out it was a private event and apparently we weren't allowed to order anything. Such crap.

Since then I have had an unreasonable craving for this stuff. A classic example of wanting something you can't have. I finally got my chance when the Kogi truck appeared for lunch in front of the Best Buy on Pico.

I ordered....

1) Two Korean short rib tacos, one spicy pork taco, and one BBQ chicken taco.

2) One Korean short rib burrito

3) Black Jack Quesadilla

4) Short Rib Sliders

Yes. I am a fatty and I enjoyed all of them. Granted I saved a slider and a taco for leftovers.

So, my thoughts on this L.A. obsession? Meh. Definitely good, don't get me wrong, but I didn't see much difference between the different dishes. Pretty much if you took the tacos, burrito and sliders and stirred them together you wouldn't be able to tell what was what since the ingredients are the same. I would say their famous Korean Short Rib Taco was the best followed closely by the sliders but again after awhile everything really does taste the same.

Overall, I enjoyed my lunch but wouldn't wait in a massive line for it more than once. It was fun to be a part of an L.A. obsession in the same way that it is worth it to wait in line for Pink's... but only once.

For those of you who haven't tried it you can check out the menu at or find out where they will be next at

Monday, September 14, 2009

Home Sweet Home Reunion

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a huge USC football fan. But after working in the real world for three years now I don't just give up three day weekends. Not even for football. So, for Labor Day Weekend I headed home to good ole Oregon.

The first eighteen years of my life I spent moving north up the Williamette Valley every five years or so. I started in my birthtown of Medford, then to Eugene, then to Newberg and then finally spending four years of highschool in Lake Oswego before heading to Southern California.

But this weekend I would be headed east to Bend, Oregon, home to our family cabin. Now an Oregon cabin probably dregs up thoughts of something that looks like this:

However, when my mom said "I want to build a cabin in the woods" she really meant dream house #2:

Friday, September 4, 2009

I arrived in Redmond (an hour from the cabin but the closest airport to Bend) after a three hour flight from L.A. It was almost midnight and they were doing construction on the airport so I sat for 20 minutes waiting for my ride while sitting in what looked like a scene from a zombie movie - empty skeletele structures covered in sheets of plastic surrounding a deserted, tiny airport in the middle of nowhere with one small blonde girl sitting on a bench. Definitely a zombie movie.

So, my mom and cousin arrived to pick me up. We drove the hour to the cabin and promptly passed out.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

We started off the morning with a leisurely stroll along the river (our cabin is built on the Deschutes). It was so nostalgic to walk along a real hiking trail through the middle of nowhere. You sense how big and overwhelming the forest can be even after all the leaves have started to fall. It was REALLY cold too which was a shock since the sun was shining even at 9am.

After the morning hike, we headed to downtown Bend to find a bar that was playing the USC v. San Jose State game. My mom chose the Cascade Lakes Brewing Company. The inside of the bar was really cool and very "Bend" with all wooden facades, a laid-back bartender in a funny T-shirt and football games playing on multiple flat screens.

That is every game EXCEPT USC. WTF! I began to panic as I flipped through the channels only to find out that since FSN is a regional channel, in Oregon it was playing the Beaver game. I then spent the next 30 minutes trying to pull the game up on my phone only to find out I had shoddy service. I'm starting to remember why I used to hate Bend...

To back up a little, my parents used to have to drag me to Bend because as a female teenager obsessed with boys, nail polish, soccer, and drama there is NOTHING to do at a cabin in the woods. So, I used to find every excuse not to go. The fact that I couldn't watch my team was dredging up some bad memories...

So I decided to drowned my sorrows in a giant slice of Mud Pie for lunch and then forced the crew to go shopping in order to buy my happiness back.

We went shopping in the Old Mill District which is, yes, that's right - the Old Mill District. The Old Mill is still there but the brick buildings have been renovated into trendy stores like Victoria's Secret and Pacsun. I found some good purchases which helped erase the fact that the only news of my team's victory was the occasional text from my boyfriend. 58-3 Go Trojans!

On our way back to the cabin we stopped at Lava Butte. In the same way that Guilin, China, had karsts rising up throughout the city (see my China pictures), Bend has buttes. Lave Butte was created about 7,000 years ago when gas-charged molten rock spewed cinders into the air that then fell back to the ground in a pile that formed the Butte. The lava then poured down the side of the pile into the Deschutes River for almost six miles (information from the U.S. Forest Service Deschutes National Forest Website).

Basically, what that all means is that a volcano blew up and left a crater in a huge black hill that is surrounded by miles of lava rock. You drive up to the top of the butte and can walk around the crater or you can park at the bottom of the butte and actually hike through the lava rock. We didn't have a lot of time since we were having people over for dinner so we just took pictures from the top.

This picture is of Pilot Butte which I think is cool because it looks like an island in a green sea.

After taking some pictures of a hungry chipmunk, we headed back down the butte and back to the cabin for our giant family get-together.

We stopped in Sunriver to get groceries on the way. Sunriver is a resort community where you can either buy or rent cabins. The cabins are spread around a communal shopping area with grocery store, bar and a couple restaurants. There is an area that is a mini-golf course in the summer and an ice rink in the winter. When I used to come as a kid I was always jealous of the kids that stayed in Sunriver because they all hung out together at Goody's, the candy store, while I sat on my duff at the cabin in the woods bored out of my mind.

We bought the groceries and then tried to leave. Sunriver is famous for how hard it is to navigate since the whole community is built around a bunch of roundabouts. We managed to get lost trying to find the gas station and came across the following sign which I thought was great poetic justice.

We made it home just in time for me to get some great sunset pictures before dinner.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Up early again today for another morning hike. We passed multiple elk tracks that crisscrossed the road but didn't actually see any. Boo. I did enjoy taking pictures of the beautiful sky and wildlife. Bend has the coolest clouds.

This morning I helped my dad and grandpa finish building a woodshed (yes like I said not much else to do at the cabin) and then we headed downtown Bend for lunch before my cousins left to head back to Portland.

We ate at 900 Wall, a restaurant on Wall Street. I shared a red wine flight with my mom and had the tomato risotto which was delicious. My brother's rotisserie chicken sandwich and my cousin's pepperoni pizza both looked really good too. They had a bunch of local beers on tap and the place had a fun atmosphere. Our waiter was awesome.

We spent a few hours wandering around but everything was closed due to the holiday. On the way home we drove up Pilot Butte, another mound created by an old volcano and took more photos of the surrounding area.

The remainder of my last night was spent at a family friend's house where we had mouthwatering chicken fajitas and this tequila orange dessert with ice cream that was refreshing yet sweet. I also fell in love with their new puppy that looked like a polar bear. I told them they should name it Brawnie like the puppy in the paper towel commercial.

I then jumped in the sack to get some sleep before my 7am flight home tomorrow. Turns out Bend is more fun than I remember. I think I'll come back once it starts to snow and get a couple good days of boarding in.