Reviews Are Relatives

“Hey! This restaurant has great reviews, it has all five stars. I think we should go and try this one out.”

 

When we travel we like to try new things (related to food). A coffee shop, a restaurant, an

ice-cream place, anything that give us a new perspective of things and new flavors. Even close to home I am always in the look out for a new place to go and try something new. For this I love to use Groupon ( I had talk about this before) and also I consult Yelp.

Usually the process starts searching the area where we are at a given moment. For that I used my great friend “Yelp”. After looking, I select the ones that look more appealing for my needs at the moment and then I check the reviews.

Jorge and I try to look for those places that have more than two or three reviews. We look at the dates that the reviews were written and we read the comments. At least we scan the reviews to see if is worth to read. Then we look for pictures and see if the pics call us by our names.

Well…after doing so much investigation we make a decision hoping that our experience is going to be as good or better. Then sometimes our expectation could go a little higher than it supposed to.

 

This past Monday, after a great wedding weekend in Brooklyn we were going back home but first we wanted to have breakfast in a local, small coffee place. We went through the process like I described it above and Jorge read the word CREPE. That was enough to narrow down our options. It was fine with me, I like crepes!

We found this little place were the reviews were pretty good between 4 and 5 stars most of them. To make the story short we walk around 10 minutes with all our stuff (luggage) with us, we were hungry and excited to sit and enjoy some good coffee and breakfast before heading to the city.

The place was small, cute and cozy. At the moment we got in, there wasn’t anybody at the little restaurant. We were putting our stuff away when the owner told us that they were close, that they haven’t open it yet. My face change colors. A thousand disappointment expressions came across my face also. But then he start laughing and acknowledge me about my face. He told us it was a joke and we laugh with him. We order coffee, some crepes with eggs and everything else, I added two cheeses, mozzarella and goat.

The coffee was good, we got that first. I was trying to hold my coffee as much as I could, because I like to eat and drink coffee at the same time. The crepes… Let me put it this way, they were AWFUL! The funny thing is that we were the only ones in this tiny place with the owner. There was no way that we could run away from this place without the owner knowing that we totally dislike the food. Believe me! I want it to run away so bad. I looked at Jorge, Jorge looked at me and between facial expressions and no words we communicate our frustration.

I am not a rude person, I didn’t want to make the owner feel bad, Jorge neither. So, believe it or not we ate almost the whole thing. Now I know the feeling of eating just for survival and not for pleasure.

Our conclusion, the reviews are relative. This is the second time that I go through this situation of reading good reviews and then my experience is completely different. I went back to Yelp and read more carefully the reviews, definitely people like this place. Is either that we did a poor choice from the menu or our taste is not built for that place.

I will not share the name of the coffee shop because I choose not to put down the place, when there are so many people who like it. I just wanted to reflect on the fact that a review will not always give you the answer, sometimes you have to check places no matter what other people think. We had the experience before to go and enjoy a place very much and then when we check out how people rate it is less than we think.

 

Each experience is different, and we all are different, what is good for me, may no be for you or vice versa.

Until then,

xamlinnette 🙂

 

 

Biking At Central Park: What I Thought versus Reality

 

Riding our bikes while listening to birds singing beautiful, coordinated melodies. I can smell the strawberries from the Strawberry field from the distance. We parked our bikes and pick some of the berries… We continue our bike ride, the fresh wind caress my face and hair. Where ever I looked, people are smiling and they look as happy as we are. The sun is shining with glory but not too hot, so our day looks clear and perfect. Families all together playing on the park, a couple having a romantic picnic over the green, emerald grass. The sound of the city disappears with the distraction of nature, the smell of flowers, the glowing pond and lakes… The Castle enchanted the moment, feeling like I was in another era. Perfection is all around us. The shade of the millions of trees is comfortable and the bike track is so smooth and flat that^&^##$%^&(*&(*&*&^ WAKE UP!!!!!

That was just my day dreaming adventure of what I tought it was going to be biking in Central Park. Now the real story went a little bit different…

 

I been in Central Park before, about 3 times, but only to the area between the W 59th St. and Bethesda fountain and The Loeb Central Park Boathouse (The Lake).

 

 

So, I was guilty of dreaming unrealistic dreams about my next visit to Central Park. Specially…. Number 1, I wanted to see the whole park and number 2, I want to take a tour bike… I thought it was going to be easier to bike, that to walk around so much. The park is huge and there was a lot that I wanted to see and learn about it… besides I love biking (but far from being a professional).

OK!Check this out. First, we got late to the bike tour, so instead we rented the bicycles for 4 hours (it was included with the NY passes that we bought)Central Park Sightseeing Bike Tours & Rentals

Second, there are no strawberries on the Strawberry Field!(This was so funny to me because I thought that I never visited the Strawberry Field before,I thought it was called like that literally because had strawberries. But I did visited before, but didn’t know that the John Lennon Memorial was the Strawberry Field.) O____o

Third, Central Park is Not Flat! I did not know that the park has hills… You know, up and down hills!! I love biking but I do it more recreational not as an exercise event. I am not used to ride going up hills! Did I mention that Orlando is flat! So, if you are not in good shape or at least you are not used to ride bicycle up hills you will have a tremendous work out.

After getting our bikes, I was designated to be the “tour guide” because I had the list of things to see. After studying the map, and get a little lost we found the bike lane. For my disappointment the bike lane runs along a street that goes around the outer part of the park. The park doesn’t have a bike trail through the park where the trees, ponds, lakes, castle and all the pretty scenery is. For us to be able to see anything in our list we supposed to leave the bike lane and walk our bikes through the interior part of the park, is prohibited to ride bicycles on the walking path. Another little detail, we were not able to leave the bicycles unattended because we didn’t get the locks that were provided for us… We tought we were not going to need them. Oops!

We started and there it came the first hill, without breath we decide to take our first break.

 

 

 

 

Later continuing our bike ride our speed was almost none, many bikers continuously went by passing us. Our second stop was by the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, by the 5th Ave. It was my first time seen this pretty sight. Jay stayed guarding the bikes while we went to see the reservoir. Remember, we left the locks… we thought we were not going to need them… Hmmmm we were wrong!







As we continued, more hills came along followed by tiredness, sweat, thirst, back pain, leg pain, and all the complaints, and pain list that you can imagine. The fun part was every time we went down the hill… Weeeeeeee! I loved it! The wind, the speed, it was awesome until… the next hill. My son Jay was having a blast, he loved the challenge. He is in great shape and exercise almost every day, so for him was just one more day of exercise. He had to stop many times to wait for us. Jorge and my mom were on a tandem (2 person bike) so when my mom couldn´t do it any more she walk and Jorge kept going on the bike but at Snail speed. My daughter Jadzia and me, we invented a new technic… it’s called riding & walking bike technic. Walk your bike up hill and ride it down hill as simple as that. It was the only way for us to do it. I know! I know!! Its terrible!!

For some reason none of us wanted to stop to see anything, we wanted to finish. We didn’t stop anymore,there were not pretty, inspiring sights, just the street and people passing by us.

At the end we laugh at ourselves and had fun with our funny experience. My mom felt pretty good with herself after riding a bike now that she is 66 years old and haven’t ride a bicycle for a long time. Something I can tell you for sure the “Biking in Central Park” bucket list item is checked mark and have a DONE! in bold letters on the side. 😉


 


Reality hit me, my expectation of riding a bike in Central Park were different of what we lived, but still I loved the fact that we had own story to tell. It was a great experience because as a family we created memories, we had bonding time and our own unique travel story. Travel is about been real and enjoy the experience no matter if is not a Cinderella setting. Travel with family is about having a great attitude, is about making the decision of enjoying and embracing life with happiness.

Have you ever had a similar experience? Where your expectation were too high? Share your story with me!


Until then,

xamlinnette 🙂



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too Much Fun With the Wax Art

Never imagine that we could have so much fun in a wax museum! Madame Tussauds in New York is a fun place to go. Here you can get in character yourself and pretend meeting the famous. Some of them look so real! The good thing is that Madame Taussauds are in many other cities besides NY. It is incredible that I went all the way to NY city to have this way of fun, but now I found out that even they are opening one Madame Taussauds in Orlando, early 2015.
So let’s get started and have play time with the wax! Here you will see some of the famous that my family and I met. You too can have an experience like this. Check out the locations at their website www.madametussauds.com

In the mind time,come have fun with us!

I can’t believe she is with both of them!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think they have a problem…. LOL

 

 

I guess he is famous! 🙂

 

 

 

 

My mommy and me drooling… LOL

 

 

 

Can we sing Purple Rain?

 

 

Traffic in NY!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My boys with Jennifer! -_____-

 

 

 

Oh Jay!!!

 

What in the world!!

 

To finish here is a video of my famous meeting with Steven Spielberg!!!!

I hope you will enjoy it!

Until then…

xamlinnette 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brooklyn Bridge

 

Most people have on their bucket list something they want to do or see . Well, beside travel the world, there are few things more specific that I want to do. One of them was crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, but I didn’t want just to cross it I want it to know the history behind it.

Thanks to the New York Passes (www.newyorkpass.com) we took two different tours that were included with the price. The first was the Night Bus Tour with City Sights NY (http://www.citysightsny.com/nyc-double-decker-night-tour) it gave us great information and we were able to see the Brooklyn Bridge at night from the Manhattan Bridge. I highly recommend this tour, you will learn things from NY City that you probably don’t have idea of.

The second tour that we took was the The Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO Neighborhood Tour, that was a walking tour crossing the bridge and ending at the Dumbo Neighborhood. The tour guide do several stops giving the history of the bridge, telling us all about the difficulties that the people in charge went through and all the casualties that happened during the construction. I had no idea of any of the things that happened during the 14 years of construction. Some times we take things for granted, the only thing I knew is that the Brooklyn Bride is an icon of NY City, that is a beautiful landmark and that I wanted to cross it. I never imagine that more than 20 people die constructing the bridge, I didn’t know that a woman was the one able to complete the project and much more. I don’t want to give you all the information so you can get motivated and go and find out for yourself! It’s a great tour and you will WALK a lot, so be ready to so some exercise.

 

 

Dumbo Neighborhood. View of the Manhattan Bridge

 

 

Here is a video of our two experiences. I hope you will enjoy it!

Until then,

xamlinnette 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trip 2014 Ups and Downs

Jay on the road!
Jadzia on the road!
“I am tired” “I want to hang out with my friends!” “The summer is going to be over and I haven’t had any fun with my friends.” “My back hurt!” “When we are going back home?” “I am hungry…” ” Uff I can’t be sitting on that van for 6 more hours!” ” Ohh my feet hurts!” ” My stomach hurt, I am breaking my eating routine.” ” Can’t wait to sleep in my bed!” ” But how it come that you don’t know where we are going? I thought you knew!” ” Is this way or that way?” “I want to go home! I am tired!” After hearing this and more from every member of my beautiful family, for a week and half, over and over again you want to go home too. Traveling with family has its awesome moments of bonding, laughter, fun, memories and more, but also brings the responsibility of feeling responsable for the group, especially if you were the one doing all the planning.
At the World War II Memorial
Walking to the Capitol.

Our road trip was a completely success no matter what! We enjoyed everything we did. We had plenty of laughter, learning, discoveries, exercise, fun and more. Thanks God I had everything plan, but still things did not run smoothly and perfect like I would it like it to be. This was our first road trip and with it, came a lot of lessons for the next time. In general was an awesome experience, we all did and saw things that we never had before. But definitely what is fun for me, not necessarily is fun for teenagers. The way I appreciate things is not the same for teenagers. The endurance that I could have for the day, it’s not the same for everybody in the group. I love learning about different places, I have travel inscriptive in my mind and soul. I want to see everything here, close to home and around the world. I like to take time to see and learn new things, I want to continue even when I am hungry or tired… but not everyone in the group have the same mentality as me or the strength to keep going no matter what. So, big lesson for me, I have to take it easier when I am with other people. Not expect so much or want it to do so much. Anything like that happended to you ever? Or its just me?!

Walking in DC
Resting in Central Park for a little bit after biking around the park.
Next time when planning a road trip that includes so much walking and physical activities, it will be good to plan for some days off and/or relax days. Like sitting by the pool, or go out only to eat in a good restaurant, something that doesn’t require a schedule. Also for next time, I would take in much consideration to save more money to get better hotels closer to the areas that we want to visit. For example, even though it was an awesome experience learning to take the metro in DC, and also it was the first time ever for the kids to take the metro, we could it save a lot of time on the riding back and forth to and from the hotel. Because hotels in DC are expensive, we got one hotel a little far to the east of DC. Taking the metro was only about 15 to 20 minutes, but waiting for the metro, finding what station was the appropiate to get off takes a lot of time and still there was a lot of walking involve after getting off the metro. In the morning we didn’t care much, but at night we were so tired that all the trouble of going back to the hotel it was like walking barefooted through rocks with fire, like each of us were caring thousands of backpacks in our back. Once back to our room we were 5 tired complaining individuals, all wanting to use the bathroom at the same time. Understand this, we all wanted to take a shower and go to sleep as soon as we could, but we only had one room with only one bathroom.

-______- Can you imagine?

Brooklyn Bridge Tour, our tour guide took the picture! 🙂

 

Wifi and the DVD player on the van were great tools of entertainment on the road. We rented movies using Red Box and when we were done, we used the Red Box App to find another Red Box on the road. We returned movies and rented some more. Between the two major cities that we visit, kids enjoy much better NY City than DC. On DC the kids finished watching and “exploring” the museums in two hours top, while we, the adults still wandering in the same area for the same two hours. After that the “I am board! What are we doing next?” came right along. In NY the drive was much better, the excitement and constant movement of the city was enough to keep us busy. Still we did so much, we took 3 different bus tours around the city, we walked, took the subway, and try to keep with a schedule and still we didn’t do everything we wanted.

Night time bus tour in NY City.
Night time bus tour in NY City. Jay’s selfie!

 

In both places DC and NY City we stayed 2 1/2 days in each place. In both places after leaving the hotel or friend’s house (in NJ) in the morning, we didn’t come back until night, we didn’t took much free time, only for eating and keep going. I think here is where my biggest mistake was.

After NY city we were supposed to drive to the Niagara Falls but everybody was so exhausted that I thought it was going to be better if we headed back home. I couldn’t imagine eight more hours driving north and then having to drive all the way down to Florida. So, the decision was made… We went back home with no Niagara Falls experience. I will sit and meditate better our options for our next family vacation. I have to think in less heavy schedules, more relax time, and even more fun… That is for sure.

Virginia Beach, on our way back home.

Any suggestion for family vacations with teenagers and grandma? If you have one please feel free to share it!

Until then…

xamlinnette 🙂