Adventures in LA

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Palm trees, blazing sun, and 70-degree weather? Sounds like heaven after surviving winter in Erie, PA. Winter up by lake Erie is terrible. I hate it so much. However, last week was spring break--aka the week I've been waiting for since last May. My roommate and I embarked on our 4-day adventure in the City of Angels.

While I was boarding the plane, I still couldn't believe I was going to LA. A place I've dreamed about visiting for years was finally becoming reality. After reading, flipping through magazines, a few rounds of Heads Up, and many failed attempts to get some shut eye, I hopped off the plane at LAX with my cardigan....I mean jean jacket. Gosh, those four and a half hours went by slower than a turtle running a marathon, if that's even possible.

Little did I know, this was just the beginning of the most amazing four days of my year so far.

Day one was Disneyland day. The only thing my brain could process that morning was, "I'M GOING TO DISNEYLAND!" We arrived at exactly at 8:00 a.m. sharp. When you conquer Disneyland in one day, getting there at exactly opening time is mandatory. After admiring the iconic Mickey Mouse landscape and Disney train, I ran towards Main Street USA, ready for a spectacular Sunday in The Happiest Place On Earth. I could go on all day about how amazing Disneyland was, but that would be an extremely long post. I might make a separate post about it because let's face it, Disney is that fantastic. However, I actually wrote an article for The Odyssey inspired by my day there.


The Warner Brother's studio tour, Griffith Park and downtown LA kept us busy the second day!

So there we were in the heart of Burbank, CA, which is home to not only Warner Bros, but Disney Studios too. The Warner Brother's studios consist of a 110-acre backlot. That's really big, so we got to ride around in little golf carts. As a life tip to tour goers, arriving early has it's perks! Long story short, we arrived soon enough to join an earlier tour time, which only had one other person on it. A three person tour of the Warner Bros studio? Sounds like I got the most bang for my buck. The best part about such a small tour group was getting the tour personalized to what we wanted to see.

You're probably wondering what made the tour so special. Well, some of the highlights: the Pretty Little Liars and Friends sets. I've been watching PLL since day one back in 2010. I'm this devoted already, so there is no way I'm stopping now. We got to see where the newest 'A' was revealed in the season finale, Alison DiLaurents' house--it's really just a hallway inside--and the sound stage, which houses all the sets the cast films in. The craziest thing of all was discovering that Toby and Ezra's apartments are on on the same set. That's right folks, one half is Ezra's apartment and the other half is Toby's.

The last stop on the tour was Central Perk. I'm talking the ACTUAL Central Perk. Like the one Monica, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe and Joey all hung out at in each episode. I was geeking out big time. Getting to feel like Rachel Green, even if it was only five minutes was lot of fun.

The tour included so much more in addition to these two things, and it was absolutely amazing to learn how all of that movie magic really does happen.

For the afternoon, we headed over to Griffith Park so we could capture a few of the iconic Hollywood sign pictures. That's a must when visiting LA. It was just a tad foggy when we went, but the view was still incredible. 

A quick 10 minute Uber ride was all it took to get downtown to the Grammy museum. The museum was filled with all sorts of musical history, from the stages of Grammy awards to the first use of the sitar in songs. For all you music junkies out there, add this to your bucket list. Not only were there displays, but you could listen to interviews, music clips, and even have a chance to mix a song. 

Embarking on the third day, my roommate and I made sure to hit up all the main beaches Cali has to offer. Well, the ones within the LA area at least. Before our beach hopping began, we made sure to squeeze in a morning hike at Runyon Canyon. Sadly, no celeb sightings here, but the trek up made for the most gorgeous view of LA imaginable. After enjoying the view for a good 15 minutes it was time for a lovely day of sun, sand between our toes, and more sun!

 Malibu, Santa Monica, and Venice were all on our list and got checked off by sunset. It's crazy how each beach is almost like it's own culture. You get such a different vibe from each one. Malibu was the most laid back. It is also where I had my first acai bowl for lunch and I've been dying for another one ever since. 

Santa Monica was by far my favorite beach. Don't you worry, it lived up to the expectations the Hannah Montana movie set. The Santa Monica pier felt like a little amusement park out in the ocean. It was amazing to see such an iconic beach in person. Oh, and I can't forget about the delicious ice-cream! It tasted like fudge, like I was licking fudge on a cone. SO GOOD. 

After just a short 30 minute walk on the boardwalk, we made it to Venice Beach. I think of Venice as a big melting pot. I'll be honest, it wasn't the best area, and I wouldn't want to be there at night, but it was interesting to see all of the various cultures and how it differed from the other two beaches we went to. 

Going on to our fourth day in LA and sadly our last. It was time to immerse ourselves in the glimmer and glamour of Hollywood. You know, all the stereotypical stuff. 

We started off in Beverly Hills *starts singing Beverly Hills song*. Our first and pretty much only stop in the area--besides the park--was Rodeo Drive. Seeing all the high end stores was absolutely exquisite! I went into a couple of them, but it was actually a tad awkward. Most of the time my roommate and I were the only ones in the store, along with the three security guards and two sales associates. I'm wasn't dressed in head-to-toe designer like some of the people around there were. I went walking in wearing my Maurice's dress and Target backpack, but then I thought "who cares, my outfit is cute". After our visit to Rodeo Drive, we we headed out to The Grove. 


Thanks to my addiction to fashion and beauty vloggers on YouTube, (check out Bethany Mota and Meredith Foster) I've heard about The Grove countless times. I'm SO happy I was able to shop around. The shopping area was very pretty. It's a nice area to just walk around in, even if you aren't looking to buy something. My favorite store was Brandy Melville! They had simple clothing that would be perfect for mixing with dressy and casual pieces. The clothing definitely gives off that Cali vibe. I picked up two outfits and I cannot wait to wear them this summer! In case you were wondering, their clothes are as soft as a baby's butt. I know, sounds strange, but it is so true. 


After a successful shopping trip, we headed over to Hollywood! Our first stop was Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. It was absolutely insane how realistic some of the figures looked. Demi Lovato's was so good, it could've been mistaken for the real life Demi. I'm not joking. It's crazy! At the end of the museum you could read about the process it takes to create one of the wax figures. You know the what left me mind blown? It takes hundreds of hours to make just one wax figure. Just one! 

When we were done admiring and taking pictures with wax figures, it was on to the Walk of Fame. I quickly learned the trick for the Walk of Fame: take pictures as fast as possible and try not to run into people while reading the ground. I loved getting to see such an iconic part of Hollywood. It was extremely crowded, but totally worth it! You won't believe how many people have their own star on the walk. Everyone from Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and George Eastman to cartoons and theme parks managed to earn a star. Who knew it was possible for cartoon characters and theme parks to get a star? I was surprised, but super happy to see that Disneyland, Mickey Mouse, Snow White, and Tinkerbell all had their own star on the Walk of Fame. 

Continuing down Hollywood Blvd, we saw the Chinese Theater and the Dolby Theater (where the Oscar's are held). It was just so exciting to be able to see places I've alway heard about, but never was able to see in person until now.

Sadly, the clock struck 11:00 p.m. that night and it was time for our red eye flight home. I didn't want to leave LA at all. Is it possible to fall in love with a city in just four short days? I'm so grateful I was able to go. I had such an amazing time visiting places I only imagined to see one day. I miss LA so much, but I'll definitely go back one day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A day that celebrates strong, empowering women? Sounds great to me! If you didn't already know, today is International Women's Day. Over the last year, women have been dominating the media like crazy. I thought I would share some of the women who have influenced me.

1. My Mom

When I was a little kid, I felt like my mom was wonder women (not that she still isn't today), she did so much for me and still does. Whether it was her taking me to yet another Jonas Brothers concert, going on a weekend trip to NYC, or just making sure I'm not broke in college. I'm so lucky for everything she has given me.

I must say, growing up and being away at college has made me A LOT more appreciative of everything she has done. I could not be more grateful. My mom is absolutely amazing

2. Elise

My sister is so inspiring. When it comes to hardworking, she's the definition of it. Seriously. She has shown me that no matter how difficult something can be, if you put your mind to it and don't give up, you can accomplish anything. Elise also strives to live a healthy lifestyle and this has definitely rubbed off on me. She's taught me how important it is to eat those fruits and veggies. No matter how much you don't want to, it's always best to fit in that workout!

Even though I don't get to see her as often as I'd like, I know she's always up for a good FaceTime convo. Plus, there's nothing like opening up a funny snap of your sister to brighten your day.

3. My Girls

I think it's so important to have a strong group of girls you can turn to. Making new friends in college was scary enough, but I would have never guessed I'd make this many amazing friends. Without these girls, my college experience wouldn't be as fantastic as it has been so far. They've been there for me whenever I need them, put up with my random stories, and are always up for an adventure; what more could I ask for?

4. Taylor Swift

The creator of the squad. Changing the music industry. Breaking world records. Those are just some of the ways Swift has empowered women around the world. This past year more so than other years, Swift has made a name for herself when it comes to defending women. I've been a fan of Swift's since I was 12 years old. Over the last eight years, she has taught me that it's ok to be yourself. Don't pay attention to what other people think of you. The only thing that matter is if you're happy and enjoying life.

5. Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez started as a darling Disney starlet, and has blossomed into a young woman who has been spreading positive messages to girls everywhere. You know when you hear a song and it's exactly how you're feeling, that's how I felt when I listened to Gomez's newest album Revival. One of the reasons she sticks out to me so much from other celebrities is how relatable she is. Gomez has truly embraced herself for who she is, and doesn't let negativity effect her. Her song Kill Em With Kindness is sort of becoming a motto for me. It's a good reminder to always be the better person even in nasty situations. Who want to be remembered as a scrooge anyway?

6. Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato has struggled with eating disorders, self harm, and bipolar issues. It's safe to say she's experienced some dark days. She received the treatment she needed and turned her issues into something positive, I find that extremely empowering. Lovato has been very open about her struggles with hopes of helping girls all around the world. She has even started a scholarship program, The Lovato Scholarship to help fund mental health treatment for those who can't afford it.

 Lovato is all about the green shakes and early morning workouts. Her recovery, willingness to make healthy decisions everyday, and acceptance of all body types inspires me to live a healthy lifestyle.

To all the lovely ladies out there, I hope you enjoyed International Women's Day! Take a moment to appreciate those around you. If you know the women who have inspired you in person, make sure to thank them.
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