Jaunts With Jackie

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Category: Urban Adventure

Out and About in Riverside, California

Riverside, California

Riverside, California is located in the Inland Empire about 55 miles East of Los Angeles. Downtown Riverside is home to the University of Riverside, the famous Mission Inn, and Mount Rubidoux. There is plenty of street parking and parking garages or there is a Metro Stop that offers shuttles to local downtown areas.

Mount Rubidoux

Mount Rubidoux has been designated as a park and a landmark. At one point the land was purchased by the owners of the Mission Inn. The land is now owned by the city of Riverside. Mountain Rubidoux is known for its Easter Sunday services. In 1909 the first non-denominational outdoor Easter Sunrise Service in the United States was held at the top of Mount Rubidoux.

Parking at Mount Rubidoux

It is easiest to park your car at Ryan Bonaminio Park. The address is 5000 Tequesquite Ave, Riverside, CA 92506. Ryan Bonaminio is a sports park and it has a lot of parking spaces. From the park, there is easy access to the mountain. Head up the street about a quarter-mile from the parking lot, and you will reach the start of the trail. There are no bathrooms at Mount Rubidoux, but there is one at Ryan Bonaminio Park. At the beginning of the trail at Mount Rubidoux, there is a place to fill your water bottles and there are trash cans along the trail.

Hiking in the City

Mount Rubidoux boasts over 3 miles of hiking trails. There is a 2.7-mile round-trip trail. The trail is paved which makes it a great choice for days when your normal trails are covered with mud. The trail only gains a little of 350 feet in incline, so it is rated as easy. I have seen numerous people pushing baby strollers up to the top. When you get to the top there are a few areas to explore. The World Peace Bridge is a beautiful place to stop for a photo.

The World Peace Bridge
Under the World Peace Bridge

The Top of Mount Rubidoux

Once you reach the top of Mount Rubidoux there are plenty of places to stop and take in the view. There is built-in seating in the rocks for the sunrise services. We climbed up to the stairs to the base of the cross. The cross is dedicated to Father Serra. According to some old newspaper articles there was some controversy about the separation of church and state and now the small plot of land that holds the cross is owned by a conservancy that is responsible for its upkeep.

Lunch at Tio’s Tacos in Riverside

After hiking back to our car we decided to drive over to Tio’s Tacos. I had driven past Tios when I was on the way to The Mission Inn and the large art out in front of the restaurant piqued my interest. The restaurant is located at 3948 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501

Tio’s Taco

Eclectic Art in Riverside

We found street parking across the street from Tio’s Tacos. We wandered around the entire outside before we ordered out lunch. The art is all made from upcycled materials. One of my favorite pieces of art at Tio’s is a Christmas tree made from recycled Dos Equis beer bottles. There is a little chapel complete with an altar and pews. I could have spent hours wandering around looking at all the little details.

You can’t miss the art from the street.
A Christmas tree made from Dos Equis bottles.
Popeye The Sailor Man
Inside the chapel
Information about the artist.

Lunch at Tio’s Tacos

After hiking and walking around Tio’s looking at the art we were hungry. There is both seating inside and outside at Tio’s and the day we were there it was chilly and extremely windy so we opted for inside.

We went to the counter to order and although it was after 1 pm, I asked if I could order breakfast. The good news is they serve breakfast all day. I ordered Chilaquiles with green sauce. Chilaquiles is a traditional Mexican dish with fried corn tortillas simmering with green or red sauce topped with an over-easy egg, sour cream, and cheese. I was happy to see an Aqua Fresca Bar at the front counter therfore I ordered a Mango Agua Fresca and it was very sweet but tasty. After ordering they give you a number and you seat yourself. I am a Chilaquiles connoisseur and my lunch was good, but definitely not the best Chilaquiles I’ve eaten. I would go back to Tio’s again just to see the art and maybe I’ll try a taco next time.

Chilaquiles Verde

Exploring Riverside

We had a good morning exploring Riverside. Mount Rubidoux was a scenic place for a hike and we all enjoyed the art and our lunch at Tio’s Tacos. We will have to plan another day to see some of the other things Riverside has to offer.

3 Must See Museums in Paris

When you think of Parisian museums you probably only think of the Louvre. The Louvre is everything you have heard of and more, but the Musée de l´Orangerie and Musée d’Orsay should also be on every tourist must-see lists as well.

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre is as large as some small towns. It would take you days to see it all. It would be ideal to be able to see small parts of it on several different days. We chose to go on a day that the Louvre stayed open late. We had a museum pass so we were able to queue up next to the pyramid. This was a definite benefit to the museum pass. Our line was not long and it moved rather quickly. Security in all of Paris is no joke, so be sure and plan extra time for it. If you are only going to visit for one day as we did, I suggest you do a little research and make a list of your must-sees.

The Mona Lisa

Of course, we wanted to see the Mona Lisa. We headed there first assuming it would only get more crowded. First of all the painting is small. Secondly it is behind glass and lastly, the amount of people cramming in to see the painting is crazy. It’s not possible to spend any amount of time studying the painting. To stand in front of it you risk getting trampled to death. After inching my way up close, I took a quick look and then a quick picture. As hard as it was to make my way in front of the picture it was twice as hard to squish my way out.

The Mona Lisa
Trying to inch my way closer.

Winged Victory

Next, we took a breather and saw my favorite piece the Victoire de Samothrace (Winged Victory.) It is located at the top of a grand staircase. It is possible to get a good view of this fabulous sculpture from many different angles.

Victoire de Samothrace

Venus de Milo

The Venus de Milo is another sculpture that can’t be missed. The Venus de Milo is assumed to be Aphrodite the goddess of love & beauty. The sculpture is large. She is over 6 feet tall. They believe she was sculpted between 130 and 100 BC. Other than her missing arms she’s in good shape.

Venus de Milo

Apollo Gallery

We took a walk through the Apollo Gallery. The Galerie d’Apollon is famous for its high vaulted ceilings and painted decorations.

The Ceiling in the Apollo Gallery

The Musée de l´Orangerie

The Musée de l´Orangerie is a small museum that is known for its eight large water lily panels painted by Claude Monet. There are also other impressionist paintings. The museum is on the edge of the Tuileries Garden. The entrance is also included with the museum pass. The Monet panels are the highlight. They are floor to ceiling in a round room. There are benches in the middle of the room and the panels depict Monet’s garden in all four seasons.

Claude Monet’s Water Lilies

The Musée d’Orsay

The Musée d’orsay is my favorite museum in all of Paris. It is in an old train station. It holds mostly French art from the impressionist area. It has paintings, furniture, sculpture, and photography. The highlight of the building is the old clock.

The clock overlooking the Seine River.

The building itself is as beautiful as the art that it holds. It is two stories and has grand staircases at each end of the building. There are many galleries filled with amazing art.

The view from upstairs.

These are the three museums that can’t be missed in Paris. It would be possible to spend multiple days in each one. I think that is a great excuse for another trip to Paris.

The 3 Best Pizza Slices in NYC

Everybody has their favorite style of pizza and the best part of visiting New York City is you can try it all. There is a pizza place on every block. While visiting my daughter Nicole in Brooklyn we decided to give some a try.

Juliana’s Pizza, 10 Old Fulton St. Brooklyn, NY

Juliana’s Pizza

Our first stop was Juliana’s Pizza on Old Fulton Street in Brooklyn. Juliana’s is an old school pizzeria that opened in 2012. The proprietor is Patsy Grimaldi. Patsy owned Grimaldi’s under the Manhattan Bridge just a few doors down from Juliana’s. Grimaldi’s was a New York institution. Lines would snake down the street for blocks. About 10 years ago Patsy and his wife sold Grimaldi’s and settled into retirement. Much to the delight of Brooklyn after a few years of retirement, he opened Juliana’s Pizza named after his mother. We went for lunch on a rainy afternoon. There was a line outside, but we were a party of two and we agreed to sit at the bar so we were seated quickly. We had an amazing view of the coal pizza oven.

The coal pizza oven.

We split a salad and decided on the classic Margherita. It has a typical New York thin crust, with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil. We also tried the War Flag an American Pilsner brewed in Brooklyn. The salad was a nice start. It was fresh and tasty.

While we waited for our pizza we sipped our beer and watched the pizzas go in and out of the coal oven. Our pizza came out piping hot. The crust was thin and golden. The cheese tasted fresh and it was gooey. The pizza was basically perfection. Between the two of us, we ate a whole pizza, and that left no room to try dessert. Maybe next time. I paid in cash, but I did notice that you can use your credit card, unlike at Grimaldi’s which is cash only. The restaurant was very busy, but at no time did we feel rushed and the service was excellent. I believe Juliana’s is a must-try for an authentic New York City Pizza.

War Flag, an American Pilsner brewed in Brooklyn.
The classic Margherita Pizza.
Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

Spumoni Gardens

The first Saturday in April was opening day for Luna Park at Coney Island. We took the train to Coney Island and rode the old wooden Cyclone. After the roller coaster ride and the walk along the boardwalk, we decided to go try some pizza at Spumoni Gardens. We took the train one stop and then walked to the restaurant. Spumoni Gardens is located in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

When we got there it was a lively Saturday afternoon on their patio. Spumoni Gardens is known for its Sicilian pizza. They sell their pizzas as whole pies or by the slice. Their Sicilian pizza is made in a rectangle. One slice is $3.00. It was a thick crust and the sauce is on top of the cheese. We ate on the patio and they serve it up on a paper plate. We each got a slice and sat on the patio with a lemonade. The crust is thick and the sauce is plentiful and it was easier to eat it with a fork. It was good and I’m glad we tried it.

Thick crust Sicilian Pizza with the sauce on top.

We both got a serving of Spumoni Ice Cream for dessert. Their Spumoni is a mix of Vanilla, Chocolate, and Pistachio. In my opinion, it was the star of the meal. We ate on the patio, but they have a full-service restaurant inside. The whole area had a down-home family vibe.

A serving of Spumoni Ice Cream.

Joe’s Pizza

Joe’s Pizza is a Greenwich Village institution. It was founded in 1975 and has been listed on NYC’s best pizzas over and over. They have a simple menu. Whole pies or by the slice. They also have Sicilian pizza on the menu, but I have never tried it.

Joe’s Pizza, 7 Carmine St.

Joe’s Pizza is a walk up and orders pizzeria. There are a few stools and stand up tables, but mostly you order to go. The day Nicole and I went she saved us seats on a bench in the square across the street. The square is officially Father Demo Square. It has a fountain and benches and is a good place to sit and people watch. I went and ordered our pizza.

We both chose a slice of cheese pizza. It is a huge slice and they serve it on a paper plate. They have cans of soda and bottled water for sale as well. They do not accept credit cards. Joe’s pizza is the quintessential New York slice of pizza. The crust is thin and if you look around you will see people folding their slice in half. This is what all walk-up pizza should taste like, flavorful and not greasy and a perfect not floppy crust. Joe’s Pizza serves both the local neighborhood and hungry tourists. Joe has become so popular they now have 4 other locations scattered throughout New York City.

A slice from Joe’s Pizza, Greenwich Village.

These 3 pizzas are just the tip of the iceberg. There are 100’s of other pizza places in New York City to try, but I would definitely make a return trip to all three of these locations.

A Walking Tour of Brooklyn Bushwick, Cobble Hill & Dumbo……

I landed at JFK on a gorgeous spring day in April. After dropping my suitcase at my daughter’s apartment in Brooklyn we set off on a walking tour of Bushwick. I wanted to see the graffiti and street art that is part of The Bushwick Collective.

Biggie Smalls

The Bushwick Collective

The Bushwick Collective is located off of Flushing Ave. in Bushwick. There are blocks and blocks of murals that you can visit by just walking around the neighborhood. There really is something for everyone. We saw both portraits and cartoon type murals. It appears that this area of Bushwick is up and coming. We walked past fancy new coffee shops that we were next to functioning machine shops. We were also able to peruse a couple of eclectic vintage shops.

Till Death Do us Part
My own super model.
A quilted wrap for the telephone pole.

Finding a Lunch Spot in Bushwick

After walking around we decided it was time to eat. I had heard about a restaurant in Bushwick Called Dock. We weren’t sure they would be open because we were there during the weird hours after lunch and before dinner, however, when we go there we found that they were still serving lunch specials for another 40 minutes. Dock is a busy restaurant and reservations are usually a must, but this was the perfect time to try it. Dock was started by three chefs that have different backgrounds. They have combined their talents into one fabulous restaurant. Dock has 3 different head chefs one for sushi, one for Thai cuisine and one for ramen.

Lunch At Dock Restaurant

Our lunch special was $10.95 and included a soup, egg roll, or salad and one entree. I had the Oyster Soup and Pad See Ew. Nicole had an egg roll and Ramen. We split a Kyoto Matcha IPA . I’ll start with the Matcha IPA. I’m not a fan of IPAs they are usually too bitter for me, however, this one was great. I could taste the bitter hops, but it was balanced out by the matcha. The color was fantastic. It was a deep grassy, green. My oyster soup was delicious. It had the perfect amount of heat and sourness mixed together. It lots of fresh oyster mushrooms and fresh vegetables. My Pad See Ew was also good. I had it with tofu. It wasn’t overly spiced and that allowed me to add my favorite chili oil to enhance the flavors. Nicole’s egg roll was ok. Probably not the star of our meal, however, she liked her Ramen. I give The Dock 5 stars out of 5 and I will be going back to try something else on their extensive menu next time I’m in the area.

Three types of Asian Food in one restaurant.
Kyoto Matcha IPA
Oyster Soup
Pad See Ew with Tofu
Ramen

Exploring Cobble Hill

After lunch, we headed to the subway and went to the Cobble Hill area of Brooklyn. I wanted to go to an independent bookstore that I follow online called Books Are Magic. Of course, I loved it. They have the cutest mural painted outside and inside is filled with books. Their staff has curated sections and titles that they recommend and they have an amazing section for children’s books. We spent a long time looking at books and I had to buy a Books Are Magic t-shirt before I left so that I can wear it at home in my library.

I think Books Are Magic!

Heading to Dumbo, Brooklyn

After the bookstore, we hopped back on the subway and head to Dumbo. For those not familiar with Dumbo it is an acronym for down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass. It is one of my favorite areas of Brooklyn because of the amazing views of Manhattan. We went to the Empire Store on the waterfront. We walked up the stairs to the top and had an amazing view of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and the Manhattan skyline.

Dumbo

A view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Perfect Views in Brooklyn

Walking along the waterfront is always entertaining. The views are amazing. There are always lots of photoshoots going on. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops to stop at. Because it was April as soon as the sun went down it got very chilly. We decided that it was time to get back on the subway and head back to Nicole’s apartment. We had an amazing day wandering around Brooklyn.

The Perfect view.

The 5 Best Doughnuts in NYC

You might think that while visiting New York the only round food you should try is a bagel, but then you will be missing out on some tasty donuts. While visiting NYC in April, my daughter and I decided to try out some of the specialty doughnuts the city has to offer.

First Stop: Dough

First stop was Dough in Brooklyn. Dough now has a few other locations throughout the city, but the Clinton Hill location in Brooklyn is the original. Dough makes traditional yeast doughnuts with untraditional glazes and toppings. Inside their storefront, you can take a peak and seem them making their fresh doughnuts. There is not enough room to eat inside, so plan on taking your doughnuts to go. I decided on the Lemon Poppy Seed. The lemony glaze had the perfect ratio of tartness and sweetness. The poppy seeds were more for aesthetics than taste. The donut had a nice rise from the yeast and wasn’t greasy or heavy. Overall, a very satisfying donut. Dough makes their doughnuts daily and they have seasonal as well as daily varieties to choose from.

Lemon Poppyseed from Dough

Second Stop: Doughnut Plant

Day number 2 and our second stop for our donut tour was Doughnut Plant in Chelsea. Like Dough, they have other locations throughout Manhattan, but their Chelsea location was their first. We decided to order coffee and sit down and eat our doughnut inside because there are tables and chairs. We both order coffee of the day and I ordered a Peanut Butter & Blackberry Jam Doughnut. Nicole ordered the Hazelnut Chocolate Filling covered with Roasted Hazelnut Glaze. The first thing to notice is Doughnut Plant is home of the square doughnuts. They have been in business since 1994 and they make their doughnuts without preservatives, eggs, or trans fats. The peanut butter & blackberry doughnut tasted just like mom’s peanut butter & jam sandwich. It is a square donut filled with jam and covered with the peanut butter glaze and because of its square shape you get jam with every bite. It was yummy and super filling. The hazelnut doughnut was round, rich and delicious. The Doughnut Plant has a nice mix of yeast and cake doughnuts to choose from. In addition to their delectable doughnuts, they also have some amazing stuffed doughnuts decorating their walls. There is a stuffed doughnut to represent each one of their doughnuts that they serve.

Peanut Butter & Blackberry Jam and Chocolate Hazelnut from Doughnut Plant

Because it’s a square doughnut you get jam in every bite.

Doughnut Plant has the cutest stuffed doughnuts hanging on their walls.

Third Stop: The Donut Pub

Stop number 3 on our doughnut tour was at The Donut Pub in the West Village. The Donut Pub is known for their doughnuts, pastries, and cookies. They are open 24 hours a day. Inside the Donut Pub is a small counter to sit at and also a few tables. We tried the French Cruller and the Croissant Donut. The Cruller was a fancy, twisted design. It was light and had sugar glaze over the top. We sat at the counter and they served it to me on a paper plate and I need lots of napkins. It wasn’t greasy, but the glaze stuck to my fingers. The Croissant Donut was served warmed up on a small paper plate. After the first bite, you could tell that butter had to be one of the main ingredients in this doughnut. Out of all the doughnuts that we tasted this one was definitely the richest and most filling. It had so much butter in it that it left a buttered ring on the paper plate. We were happy we tasted the cronut, but I don’t think either of us needs to eat one again. I would go back for a cruller and maybe try one of their other flavors. I would also like to try their Black & White cookie. It’s been rumored to be the best in New York City.

The Donut Pub in The West Village
The Original French Cruller
The Croissant Donut
My view while I was sitting at the counter.
Maybe next time a Strawberry Croissant Donut

Fourth Stop: The Doughnuttery

Our 4th stop was The Doughnuttery in the Chelsea Market. While our other doughnuts were regular size, the Doughnuttery makes their doughnuts in a small bite-size version. We ordered 6 minis for $6.00. We watched the small cake doughnuts plop into the fryer. They are then scooped out and covered with your choice of a sugar and spice topping. With the minis, you can pick two toppings. We choose House of Cardamon which was cardamon, orange zest and star anise and Paris Time which was lavender, vanilla, and pistachio. I liked the House of Cardamon best. The orange zest gave it a fresh taste. Nicole liked the Paris Time, because of the pistachio. The mix of sugar and spices coating the doughnuts made them flavorful without being too sweet, however, out of all the doughnuts we tasted these tasted the most fried. I would order them again to try a different topping, but these were not my favorite.

The Doughnuttery inside of Chelsea Market
The Menu at the Doughnuttery
House of Cardamom mini doughnut
Paris Time mini doughnut

Fifth Stop: The Doughnut Project

Our 5th and final stop was The Doughnut Project in the West Village. They are now for their unique and seasonal doughnuts. I had previously been to the Doughnut Project and ordered their famous Everything Doughnut, so this time I wanted to try something different. I ordered The Black Gold AKA Brownie Batter and Nicole ordered the Bronx (Olive Oil and Black Pepper.) They have a few bar stools to sit at, but they were all occupied so we took out doughnuts to Washington Square Park to eat them. The Black Gold had an extra dark chocolate glaze with house-made chocolate cookie crumbles and sea salt. It was like biting into a light and airy brownie. If you are a chocolate lover then I say this is a must-try. Nicole’s Bronx was also light and airy. You could taste the olive oil and you got a little zing from the black pepper.

The Doughnut Project in The West Village
I love the art on the inside of The Doughnut Project.
The Black Gold AKA Brownie Batter
The Bronx

Overall, we have gone back and forth about which doughnut was our favorite and we can’t come to a conclusion. All 5 locations were good and they all offer something a little different. I think it all comes down to what you are in the mood for.

Paris on a Budget

A trip to Paris does not have to break the bank. With a little research and some careful planning good deals can be found. My daughter, Nicole and I chose to visit Paris in August for our birthdays and we found August is a less expensive time to visit. August is when most of Europe takes a vacation. It is often hot in Paris in August, so Parisians head for the coast. Furthermore, business travel slows way down in August. This means that it is possible to score great deals on hotel rooms.

Choose Your Airline Carefully.

We first booked our airline tickets. I was traveling from Los Angeles to New York first. After a week in New York, Nicole and I both flew to Paris. Nicole’s round trip from JFK to CDG on Virgin Atlantic was $400 round trip. My ticket cost a little more because my flights were considered one way tickets because I flew from JFK to CDG to LAX. I paid $470 on XL Airlines. The old saying, you get what you pay for is very true with XL Airlines. Nicole had a great flight on Virgin with food and drink service and plenty of movies to choose from. I on the other hand had a flight that was delayed for 6 hours and did not depart JFK until 3:00 a.m. Not only did my plane not have movies to watch, it did not even have individual screens in the seats. It had the old drop down from the ceiling screen that was impossible to see. That being said, I will still fly on XL Airlines, because they have great deals. Because we flew different airlines and my flight was delayed we landed in Paris at different times. We each made our way to the hotel using the Metro. It cost 10.30€ and only took about 40 minutes.

The 18th Arrondissement is Magical

We chose to stay in the 18th Arrondissement, Montmarte. Looking online I found a great deal at Hotel de Flore. We stayed for 8 nights and our room was $650.00. The room was small, but comfortable. We had 2 twin beds and our own bathroom. The hotel was extremely clean and every staff member we talked to was nice and welcoming. They offer breakfast downstairs each day for an additional charge, but we choose to grab croissants at the local boulangerie. The hotel offered restaurant recommendations and Paris maps. The hotel is a very short walk to the Lamarck Metro Stop. It is about a 10 minute walk to all of the major sites in Montmarte.

Montmartre, 18th Arr.
There is art on every surface in Paris.
The view from the top of Montmarte.

A Parisian Breakfast

For breakfast each morning we went to the boulangerie down the street. The man working the counter did not speak English and he was very patient with our basic French. We each ordered a croissant and one extra pastry to try. Croissants were 1.25 euro. They were heavenly, flaky, buttery and delicious. We tried the regular, chocolate, and the almond. At the end of our trip after stopping in every morning we were treated like regulars. On our way out the door he always wished us, “Passez une bonne journee.”

Our favorite bakery.

Using The Metro Is The Easiest Way To Navigate Around Paris.

To get around Paris either walked or we took the Metro. We had a 5 day unlimited pass that came with our Paris Pass. The Metro was quick and easy to figure out. Like in most big cities after you figure out your stop, you look to see the end of the line on the train you are taking and then you head in that direction. We were able to change change trains and get around with no problems. The one big to remember about the Metro in Paris is that it does not run 24 hours, so be sure to check the hours if you plan to ride it after 1:00 a.m. Paris is very walkable city. Some of the best parts of our days were just wandering around neighborhoods.

Should You Buy A Paris Pass?

Because it was our first time in Paris and we were staying for over a week, we bought the 7 day Paris Pass. It gave us entrance to the museums that we wanted to visit. One of the huge benefits of the pass is it allows you to skip the lines at most museums. Most being the key word, not at the Palace of Versailles (where we stood in line for two hours.)  The pass also includes a 5 day Metro Pass, a one day hop on hop off bus tour and wine tasting at the Les Caves du Louvre. We rode on the bus and listened to the guided narration for one loop around the city. It was a nice break from all the walking. We made reservations for the wine tasting. We did not have high hopes, but we were wrong. The sommelier was extremely knowledgeable. We learned a lot about French wines, tasted some excellent wines and had a good time.

Picknicking In Paris.

Our favorite activity in Paris was picnicking. We brought a little blanket from home. We would buy a loaf of bread from the boulangerie, fruit from the farmer’s market and cheese or salted butter from the Magasin de fromage (the cheese store.) In Paris, you can buy wine Picknickinhand Champagne from little convenience stores such as Franprix. If you ask them nicely they will even uncork your bottle for you. We were also able to buy cups and knives from them for 10 cents each. With our picnic supplies ready we would scout out a perfect location. One of our favorite locations was on the bank of the Seine look at Notre Dame.

Picnicking on the Seine.
Cheers in front of Notre Dame.

We met a variety of Parisians picnicking and it is a popular summertime activity. Another beautiful location to picnic in was Luxembourg Gardens. The grounds are beautiful and there are plenty of chairs and tables to sit around.

Luxembourg Gardens
Our provisions.
The Fountains at the garden.

Save Money And Visit Paris In August.

Paris is a very expensive city, but if you are on budget there are plenty of ways to enjoy the city and not feel as though you are missing out. We were worried that it would be too hot in August, but the weather was actually very nice. There were a few small stores that we wanted to visit that were closed for their August vacation, but all in all August is a very budget friendly time to visit the City of Lights.

Invader Hits Los Angeles Art District

French street artist know as Invader has returned to Los Angeles. Invader is know for his rogue tile art that is hidden in plain sight in large, urban cities. His pieces are based on the old school video game, Space Invaders. There are approximately 200 pieces of his art in Los Angeles. Over the Influence Gallery in Los Angeles is currently hosting an exhibition, Invader, “Into the White Cube.”

The show runs through December 23, 2018 and it is free to the public. Invader has reproductions of his pixelated art hanging on the walls along with photos of his art in cities across the world. In addition to the art there is a continuous video that was playing about how Invader sent a “space invader” to space in Florida in 2012. FYI: It was a success. I took pictures of my favorites like the invader with the avocado and I Love L.A. There is a store front next door that sells kitschy and very expensive knickknacks.

Invader also has his own app that you can download from the Apple Store. It is called Flash Invaders. Basically, you take a picture of an invader that you find in the wild and if it is one that has been authenticated you receive points as if you were playing the video game. The app has a leader board and you can see other people’s pictures and what city that they found the invader in. It is along the same vein as Pokemon GO. I am pretty bummed that I did not know about this app when I was in Paris, because we saw lots of Invaders while we were walking around there.

The Best Ramen in Town at Daikokuya Little Toyko

After visiting the gallery we walked to Little Tokyo to get some Ramen. Dylan knew of a place that he had been to with his friends, Daikokuya Little Toyko. When we turned down the street we knew it must be really good, because there was a long line waiting for a table.

We went in and added our name to the list which was on an iPad. This system is genius, because it allows you to use your phone to check back in and see how many people are ahead of you in line. There were 29 tables ahead of us, so we went across the street to Tokyo Plaza and went shopping. It took a little over an hour for our table to be ready. The inside of the restaurant is small and no thrills. We were starving. We ordered iced Oolong Tea and a Spicy Tuna Role as an appetizer. Nicole and I both ordered their #1 best seller the Daikokuya Ramen with tonkotsu soup base infused with their secret blended soy sauce. Dylan ordered a teriyaki chicken bowl. The broth in the ramen tasted rich and full bodied. The ramen was delicious and definitely worth the wait. I googled Daikokuya after we ate there and found that they have won a ton of awards and we all agreed they deserve the accolades.

Shopping at Tokyo Plaza

After dinner we went back to Tokyo plaza for a little more shopping. We stopped to take a picture by the Christmas Tree and got sucked into watching karaoke. We watched a guy that was so bad, he was good. He was having such a good time it was contagious.

Ice Cream at Bae

We decided that we would get some ice cream before headed back home. We settled on bae. bae is a new soft serve ice cream shop on 2nd street. The inside is swanky, chandeliers, leather seating and a black wall with a cute saying that is Instagram ready.

They are know for their activated charcoal pineapple flavor which is pure black. I had the Earl Coco, a swirl of Earl Grey & Coco Puffs. Dylan had the Matcha Chocolate, a swirl of Matcha & Chocolate. Nicole had the Heartbreak which is the Activated Charcoal Pineapple with a charcoal sugar cone. The heartbreak taste very similar to the Dole Whipped at Disneyland. The Matcha was not sweet and paired nicely with the chocolate. The Earl Coco was a nice combination because the tea flavor kept the coco puff flavor from being too sweet. Ice cream is $6.00 in a cup or for $1.50 extra you can get it in a cone. They have a red sugar cone, a black activated charcoal cone, and a green Matcha cone.  Street parking is available or you can find a parking garage attached to the Tokyo Plaza. Both the art district and Little Tokyo are accessible to the Gold Line as well.

https://baebae.co/

http://www.daikoku-ten.com/locations/littletokyo/

http://overtheinfluence.com/exhibitions/

Chinese Lantern Festival

I have been seeing ads pop-up on Instagram and Facebook for different lantern festivals. Sunday night we went to the Chinese Lantern Festival at the Pomona Fairplex. Originally I had wanted to go to the Moonlight Forest at The Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, but all the discount tickets for Sunday were already sold. Same day tickets are $28.00 for adults plus a $4.95 online fee. I was taking my reluctant son and could not justify buying tickets at that price. I settled on the Lantern Festival, because discount tickets were still available. I was able to buy 3 tickets on Groupon for $17 each and no service fee.

Parking

We arrived at 5:30 p.m. With the time change, it was definitely dark enough for the lanterns. We entered at Gate 17 and had to pay $12 to park. Probably because it was opening weekend it was not crowded. We parked close to the entrance and only had to wait in line for 5 minutes to have our tickets scanned.

Welcome to “The Wild.”

My dates for the night.

Experience The Wild

This year’s theme is “Experience the Wild.” The majority of the lanterns are animal themed. The promoters promise that there are 1,0000 lanterns at the festival. They are lit up with LED lights. Most of the lanterns are stationary, but some move. The lanterns are beautiful when lit up. The most spectacular lanterns were the underwater themed ones located on the water. The reflection of the jelly fish on the water was magical.

The jellyfish.

The elephant

Don’t Go Hungry

Now for the negatives. We went to the festival hungry, because we saw pictures of delicious looking food. Unfortunately, there is only one small booth selling food and the lines were long. The online information about the festival says that there are unique hand-crafted keepsakes. They were there, but there were only 4 artisans at one small table. We sat down to watch the Kung Fu show, but the sound was not working and we could not hear anything, We left after about 10 mins. The last negative is people do not follow the rules. So many people disregarded the no touching signs and touched the lanterns. They also climbed up over embankments and took selfies with the lanterns.

The only place to get food.

In Conclusion:

Over all, I would recommend the Chinese Lantern Festival. The lanterns were beautiful and the setting at the Fairplex made walking around enjoyable. I would not pay full price for the tickets. A quick google search will show you all the available discounts. The festival runs through January 6, 2019. It is held Thurs – Sunday nights and there are some special dates that they are open for the holidays.

These elephants were made of cups, saucers and spoons.

Top Chef in Brooklyn

I love Top Chef and I am always excited to eat in a contestant’s restaurant. One hot and humid Saturday in August Nicole and I decided to spend the day in Brooklyn. We took the subway to the Prospect Park area. I wanted to eat at Butterfunk Kitchen. Butterfunk Kitchen is owned by Chef Chris Scott. He is know for his soulful take on southern food. Unfortunately, we got there in the afternoon and they do not open until 5:30 p.m.

Butterfunk Kitchen

We were starving and decided that we would try his new smaller restaurant next door. Sumner’s Luncheonette is also owned by Chef Chris Scott and they are open for breakfast and lunch.

Somner’s Luncheonette

We were there at 1:00 p.m. so I am assuming we missed the crowds. There was only one other couple eating inside when we were seated. The inside reminded me of having lunch at my grandma’s house. The decor is unpretentious and comfy. I really wanted to try his fried chicken, but it is not on the menu at Sumner’s. I decided on the next best thing a fried chicken sandwich with Old Bay and coleslaw. Nicole ordered the corn-meal crushed catfish with jalapeno jelly and southern aioli. We decided we would cut our sandwiches in half and split them. The fried chicken sandwich was moist and the chicken had a good crust. The coleslaw was fresh and tasty, however, the star of the lunch was the catfish sandwich. The jalapeno jelly added a nice spice along with the creaminess of the aioli. Both of our plates came with a side of potato salad and a pickle. The potato salad had a spicy mustard base instead of mayonnaise.

Fried chicken sandwich

Both sandwiches left us wanting to come back and try Butterfunk Kitchen.

Uncle Louie G’s

After lunch we started walking towards Prospect Park. Walking down a residential street we walked past Uncle Louie G’s.

Uncle Louie G’s

It had signboards out on the sidewalk that were advertising the best Italian Ice. I did not know what Italian Ice was, so I figured I better try it. I ordered creamsicle. Italian ice is a sweet frozen dessert made with fruit juice and ice. It has a similar texture to sorbet. I found out that is a popular treat for New Yorkers in the summer. I liked it. We took our across the street and went and started walking through Prospect Park.

Italian Ice

Prospect Park

Prospect Park is 526 acres. There are hiking, biking, and running trails. There are also small lakes with boat rentals, lots of sports fields and band shells where they hold concerts. We finished eating our Italian Ice while we watched some turtles sunning themselves on a log on the water’s edge.

A turtle sunning himself.

We brought a blanket and had plans of finding the perfect place to sit by the lake. Nicole was going to draw and I was going to read a book. We never found that spot. It had rained the night before so all the grass was way too wet. We kept walking. We walked on one trail that made it hard to believe that we were in a city, let alone Brooklyn.

A canopy of trees in the middle of the city.

He walked through a canopy of trees, we saw patches of mushrooms, crayfish in a stream, and lots of wild flowers.

A stream in the park.

So many mushrooms.

A crayfish.

We were having a great time, until the mosquitoes started eating us alive. The combination of the heat and the mosquitoes was enough to convince us that it was time to find the subway and head back to Nicole’s apartment.

Nicole under one of the many bridges.

Great views

We met a couple picking these berries. I asked them what they were, but they didn’t speak English.

A heart.

So many intricate flowers.

Sunflowers are my favorite.

Bassanova Ramen in NYC is the Bomb!

In August I stayed in Brooklyn with my daughter. One night after she got off work I met her in Manhattan for ramen. Never mind that it was 95 degrees outside and the humidity was about 70%. Nicole promised that this was the best ramen she had ever tried. Bassanova is located on the edge of Chinatown. The window fronts are street level, but the actual restaurant is down some stairs.

 

Bassanova

There is a big sign letting customers know that they are cash only. Bassanova is a transplant from Tokyo. I decided on a half order of the Tondaku Wadashi Lime Tonyum Goong Ramen. It was shrimp, mixed green onion, okra, red pepper and lime. The broth was a perfect mixture of sour and and spice. The noodles, shrimp and vegetables were perfect.

Tondaku Wadashi Lime Tonym Goong Ramen

We both decided that next time we would order a full order. We paid our bill and decided to walk around.

Little Italy and Chinatown run into each other. We wandered around Little Italy and looked at street graffiti.

Street Art

Street Art

It was a warm night and we decided to walk over to the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. I had a cup of coconut and green tea. Their store is barely wide enough for two people to stand side by side, so we took our ice cream to go.

Yummy!

We walked down a street that the asphalt was freshly painted. It looked like we were stepping into a painting.

This street looked like a movie set.

We did a little window shopping and then bought some Dragonfruit and an egg custard to take home with us.

Dragonfruit

 

Egg Custard Tart


We walked back through Little Italy to get to the Metro.

A flying Horse

Little Italy

We rode the train back to Brooklyn and called it a night.

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