Even California has Seasons

What a BIG difference time of year makes…

Santa Monica Beach …. January 2, 2011
Hardly anyone out and about and if you did see a big crowd, guarantee it was tourists and not locals. And yes California does see rain.
 

Santa Monica Beach …. July 17, 2011

It did not rain one day when I was back in Los Angeles in the summer, it was beautiful and HOT every day. Now this is the LA everyone enjoys and HOT every day. Now this is the LA everyone enjoys loves. Not the January season. 
 
As you can tell from the different pictures, July the beach is a lot more crowded and the parking lot is packed full that you can not find a parking spot. I know this for a fact because, Brooke and I went to Newport Beach for our beach day but unfortunately it took us forever to find a parking lot we did not have enough time to have a beach day. Instead we found a place to have lunch and walked around. Newport Beach is lovely. But again going back to Santa Monica Beach was not very exciting probably because I had been there before back in January 2, 2011 so therefore i saw everything once before, I ended being the “Contiki” tour guide in our small group.
 
Tip for anyone visiting Los Angeles in the summer, DO NOT PACK JEANS. I made a mistake of wearing jeans one morning because it looked and started out being chilly but it warmed up FAST. And we had to make a pit stop at Sears department store so i could buy a skirt and change.
 
Although the nice thing about visiting Santa Monica in January is the less crowds. Sure there is still crowds but not has huge as they were in July. Less people shopping on Third Street so that was nice. 
 
The fact that I did not like was the fact I arrived into Santa Monica after dark because the train got delayed because of a tree bush was on the tracks and they had to go clear it and then my bus delayed and not at the station in Van Nuys. As by then it was getting quite dark out at 5pm – I got out my phone and texted EVERYONE back home to see if anyone was near a computer to get me a number for a taxi. funny enough i had two people respond, my mother of course and my boss. That is another thing I got to see in January the rush hour traffic. 
 
So i knew that when i returned back to Los Angeles (which I did not know it would have been six months, it just worked out that way) I did not want to arrive after dark, so i made sure my flights arrived in the morning/afternoon. And i would advise the same for anyone traveling to Los Angeles. It is a different city after dark.
 
I had rented a car when i went back in July and the Traffic on the Freeways were not as bad as that one night in January. The only worst driving I found to be stressful and not fun was LOS ANGELES DOWNTOWN. but the Freeways were peaceful at times except for when you get into the carpool lane and  your GPS tells you to take the next right, merging over to the far Right was not easy because drivers in LA is not as polite as drivers back home in Canada. When in Canada we need to switch lanes we put on our blinker and start moving over and the driver behind us let us in. Nope not in LA you have literally PUSH your car in front of the other car for them to back off. It is almost like free for all. 
 
I will tell you this, Driving in Edmonton, Alberta used to be very stressful for me… well few days ago i was driving in the city to meet a friend for coffee and i did not feel any stress. Los Angeles Traffic/Driving has done it for me, I am not sure what it has done but it has done something major and I am thankful for it.
 
Differences between the “seasons” – Traffic is heavier in January and lighter in July. 
Beaches are EMPTY in January and CROWDED in July.

Have you met Jasper the Bear?

Located in downtown Jasper.

Jasper the Bear is a landmark for the town. Created by James Nathaniel a Canadian cartoonist from Winnipeg, his cartoon character of Jasper the Bear was famous throughout Canada from 1948 to 1972 and remains as the mascot of Jasper National Park.

In 1962, Jasper was adopted as the official mascot for Jasper National Park in Alberta erecting a statue of Jasper at the Train Station where it remains to this day.

Today it stands to the right of the visitor centre and, Jasper the Bear is as tall as 6′-7′ feet. It is customary to visit Jasper the Bear only if you are just passing through or staying for a couple nights. It is one of those landmarks, so do not forget to take your camera with you when you visit Jasper the Bear.

My year with Contiki

Taking that year off from Post Secondary was a very good decision. Although that Travel Bug bites hard!

I didn’t pack my bag, quit my job and head off to Europe to backpack, But I did travel with adventure. Traveling with Contiki Holidays is an life time adventure. You see and do such amazing things that you normally get a chance to do, and you meet so many awesome, wonderful people through Contiki and while On tour – you know who you are!

First Trip, (Dec 2010/Jan 2011) only six months to save up… I had booked my very first Contiki Holiday – San Francisco New Years in July of 2010. To be honest i was nervous, not knowing what to expect but yet at the same time super stoked and excited.

With a Contiki Holiday – you instantly become friends, like one big family. (Alex, Corey, Brooke, Myself, Robb, Cameron and our Fabulous Tour Manager Monte). Which is what Contiki is, one big family! From biking the hills of San Francisco, Ferry ride over to Alcatraz, going IN n’ OUT Burger, walking down Market Street, Pier 39, Walking the Golden Gate Bridge and Biking It to Ending the First Contiki Experience on a Dinner Cruise on the San Francisco Bay watching some pretty fabulous fireworks.

As many of us do, we have major contiki withdrawals after we return home. One way to fix it, book that next Contiki as soon as possible. Another way to help ease that withdrawal is attend a Contiki Party, even if that means to drive 3 hours to attend – it’s well worth it!

My first Contiki Party: VIP Euro Bash (February 2011)– It was great meeting you all and thanks for a great time! hugs xo

Then (April 2011) my second Contiki Party – Yup i drove another 3 hours… Contiki Suitcase Party at Hudsons Taphouse downtown Calgary. What can i say, I was on my way to become a Contiki Champion!

My first contiki reunion with Trina….  (April 2011)

My Second Tour, (July 2011) This was quite a decision making process on what I would be doing for my next tour, but i knew if i wanted to do two more tours this year i couldn’t have afforded Sydney New Years just yet, so i settled with LA Explorer but made sure it landed on my Birthday! Since Contiki does know how to party, thought it was a good decision – Pub Crawl even landed on my Birthday 😉 bonus!
Drai’s Hollywood the last stop on the Pub Crawl, OH MY GOSH! Talk about Hollywood style and for my 24th Birthday. If it was not for Contiki I would not have been partying Hollywood Style. Rooftop overlooking Hollywood with a pool, pole dancing, outside private sittings.
Favorite part of the Tour was – Universal Studios Studio Lot Tour. I had no idea that Movie Lot was huge! They do everything there.

 
Explorer Tours – I defiantly recommend – they really show you the city inside and out.
 

My second Contiki reunion with Brooke…
(July 2011)

then not even a month home, My third Contiki reunion with Richo in Jasper….. (August 2011)
Although there was no Contiki Party awaiting my return but Contiki meetups with some fabulous people 🙂 and some first time meetings are just as fabulous. You know who you are
 

Third Contiki of the year…. Paris for New Years! (Dec 2011/Jan 2012) You know when you are in Paris when you see the Eiffel Tower from the Contiki Coach upon entering the City. I do not know where to begin. Beyond Excited. Started in London England, Where i finally got to set foot into the famous Contiki Basement. It was pretty exciting ;)! Even though I did not get any fireworks for New Years, It did not need fireworks – It was Paris for crying out loud – that is a pretty big firework if you ask me. I even got to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle up at night ❤ goregous. Some Highlights from the Tour: Musee Du Perfum, The Lourve, River Cruise on the Seine, Eiffel Tower. Dinner with Contiki I tried escargot – When in Paris! Then Moulin Rouge Carbaret Show. You can see the Eiffel Tower from every angle you go within Paris.

Summary: I started the year in San Francisco and Ended it in Paris, France – what a world wind it was! Meeting a lot of great people along the way from all over the world, from England, South Africa down to Brazil up to North America over to Australia and New Zealand.

TRAVEL SHOPPING

Although when you travel your suitcase is on a strict weight limit – but there is the best shopping while you are traveling Europe. Like me, I own about 4 pairs of jeans and not one of them are bought in Canada. I have either bought them in the United States or Europe. I just find, especially for pants I can never find the right fit when I shop in Canada, I can try on 10 different styles and not one fits just right. Not sure what it is but something about the clothes in Europe or even the United States for that matter, their some how made differently which makes the sizes different. Do not ask me how but the sizes are. Take a size 10 in Canada I can not find the right fit but a size 10 in Europe fits me perfect. Weird eh!
 
And it just makes your closet look even more fabulous when you have clothes from all over the world. Although last time I was in the United States I tried finding clothes that were only made in America and shockingly enough I could not find one piece. Just found clothes from either Taiwan, China, to name a couple. So you see I tried to do my part in ‘Made in America’ in order to help the economy but I just couldn’t find any clothes that were.
 
 
When you do find those perfect fit clothes – you can’t just let them sit in the store, you have to grab them as fast as you can.
 
Best way to shop with European currency is to think of it as dollars. So when you spend 40 euros – just think of it as 40 dollars. Do not do the currency exchange you will not have ended up buying as much as you would like. Do not think about it – just do. You should have no regrets when you return home from vacation.
 
50€ = $64 Canadian / $61 Australian
50£ = $78 Canadian / $74 Australian
 
Best place to shop in London, England:
Oxford Street
 
Best place to shop in Paris, France:
Champs De Elysees
 
Best place to Shop in Edmonton, Alberta Canada:
West Edmonton Mall (Biggest shopping mall in North America)
 
Best place to shop in Santa Monica, California:
3rd  Promenade
 
Overall, it is just fun shopping in another city or in another country for that matter that is not your home town. You do not have the added stress of money worries when you shop in another country. You are in a different store that you are not familiar, so you are more reluctant to try things on which gives the higher chance of finding the right fit and a new style you wouldn’t normally find.
 
Tip: do not buy outfits. Example: tops at one store and maybe one sweater. Then at the next store buy some pants and maybe a dress. Mix and Match – your wardrobe will look a lot more fashionable.

Is Big Ben really leaning?

It was fascinating to be in London, England – waking up in London it is beyond words to describe. I’ve seen pictures over pictures of all these sites but seeing them with my own two eyes and setting foot on London soil and looking up at these monuments were breathtaking.

Being in Westminster abbey was goregous – now i see why Princess Kate and Prince Will got married there. I remember just sitting down against the wall at the entrance looking around me and up in awe…. took my breath away. I could have sat there all day.

We walked everywhere and my feet were hurting and tired but i kept on dragging them onwards. I am glad I did. Next day i would change  my shoes which had helped not make them so sore. So there is your tip for the day: pack 3 or 4 pairs of shoes, changing your shoes will limit how sore your feet will get.

When I heard on the news that Big Ben was leaning – I told mother nature to stop it. Stop ruining these structures before i get a chance to see them. 

Do you see the lean?

How about now? ha ha okay this is just me tilting the camera on purpose. But it makes a great masterpiece. I love changing the angle on the camera to snap that everlasting memory, as sometimes seeing something in a different angle changes how you see it and makes its natural beauty recognizable, more foreseeable.