Tag Archives: entertainment

Cali, the West Coast, why not?

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” – Anonymous

I finally did it! After years of dreaming, I finally made my way to California. All I simply needed was my dream and two friend’s with the same vision.

My friend Stephany proposed the idea to me. At first, I was hesitant because I was focused on all the problems I had going on at the moment but, after a few exchange of words Steph convinced me to take a week off work. “Cali, the West Coast, why not?”
Then we reeled in our friend Damaris who was down for the cause as soon as the idea was presented to her. Soon after we were ready to start planning our trip to Los Angeles, California. In the midst of planning, Damaris had a genius idea; why limit ourselves to Los Angeles? Why not visit San Francisco too? Next thing you know using Expedia we booked an affordable flight to San Francisco and an overnight Greyhound from San Fran to LA.

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Early on Tuesday, May 24th we were at the San Francisco International Airport trying to decide how we were going to get to our Airbnb. After weighting our options, we decided to take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit,) the train. We would then get off at the stop closest to our destination in Nob Hill, the area in San Francisco where we were staying, and from there take a Lyft. The BART was definitely an experience. For starters we had no idea how to figure out the ticket machine! If it wasn’t for the local lady who kindly assisted us we would of held up the line for quite awhile. Also, traveling on a train with six suitcases (two per girl) is not as easy as it sounds. No, we didn’t overpack, we were carrying sheets and pillows for our trip to LA…I’ll explain that at a later time. When we got off at our stop Steph and Damaris struggled getting their suitcases up the stairs. It was quite hilarious because an older woman, who was struggling just as bad as Steph, offered to help her with her luggage. The lesson here is that you are never too old to be a good Samaritan. Once we all finally made it up the stairs it hit us… we were in San Francisco, California. We were in the middle of a super busy street, we couldn’t find our Lyft and it seemed that even when we did, the driver wouldn’t have a spot to load our suitcases. Luckily, our driver finds us, she looks at us and our six suitcases like we were crazy, we loaded our stuff, get cursed at by an old man driving, reminding us that we were “not in New York City,” and just like that we were off to Nob Hill.

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We have been traveling since 5Am EST and arrived to our Airbnb around 12pm PDT. We gained three extra hours and we were tired but, more than ready to venture out into the streets of San Francisco. Our first task was to find and ride a San Francisco Cable Car.

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After walking up and down a few steep hills and after waiting what seemed like forever, we finally made it into a cable car! The destination was Fisherman’s Wharf. We paid $7 for a 2min ride down a hill. I didn’t really get to enjoy the ride because it was super crowded and the lady that charged us was extremely rude (don’t work with people if you don’t like people.) However, in the end I did get the experience so it was all worth it.

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When we arrived to Fisherman’s Wharf it seemed as if it got colder and the winds became stronger. It seemed crowded but not too crowded and, the streets were clean. It was a peaceful late afternoon down at Fisherman’s Wharf.

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As we walked and looked for some food, we came across some beautiful street art by a sweet Peruvian man. We loved his work so much we each bought something! He even gave us a discount!

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We stopped to eat at Capurro’s Restaurant where they had a delicious lunch special (half a crab sandwich with a side of clam chowder soup and fries.) 

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We enjoyed our tasty beers and laughed a lot. Everything seemed perfect and it felt like we had so much time left in our day. We walked Fisherman’s Wharf and came across a lot of boats, shops (Steph got her self a San Fran hoodie) and a lot of chain restaurants we were used to seeing back home. Steph and Damaris even made a new friend.

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As we walked closer to the shore of the San Francisco Bay, we saw Ghirardelli Square from a far.

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At this point it was freezing and the wind was uncontrollable. The Bay looked like an abyss filled with unknown secrets and stories. We admired it for as long as we could and then decided to head up the hill towards Lombard Street, where San Francisco’s famous crooked street resides.

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On our 2min cable car ride down to Fisherman’s Wharf we passed Lombard Street so we figured the walk up wouldn’t be so bad.

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Wow, were we wrong! We had the most intense workout. We walked one steep hill after another. Anyone who decides to visit San Francisco, wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for a daily workout.

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The crooked street housed a beautiful scenic view of the Bay Area. It was absolutely breathtaking. This is just one of the many views in San Francisco that leave you at a lost of words. After admiring what Lombard Street had to offer it was time to head back to our Airbnb. We walked so much and up so many hills, that by the time we got back we literally couldn’t feel our legs.

Just when I thought we were calling it a day, Steph and Damaris start craving Crêpes. So out we go around the block to Crêpes ooh La La. It’s a small place and nothing flashy but wow are the Crêpes amazing! The French man was also super adorable. He had a conversation with Damaris in French and I loved every second of it… as per usual.

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I had the strawberry, banana and Nutella Crêpe. It was worth every single penny! While we were there we had an unfortunate encounter with a drug addict. This was the start of a social issue we slowly started realizing in the San Francisco area. Soon after, it was time to call it a night. We head back, put on our PJ’s and collapse.

We survived our first day in California. 

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Chicago The Musical – “I Had It Coming…”

My obsession with Broadway grows with each new play I see. The experience leaves me speechless, just wanting to live in a world where I could break into song and dance with every emotion I breathe out.

A few weeks ago, I saw one of my favorite musicals, Chicago, starting Grammy Award winner singer, songwriter and actress, Brandy Norwood. So lets break this down…not only was I about to see one of my favorite musicals live, for the first time, but I was about to see one of my favorite musicals live starring a prominent singer/songwriter/actress who I am a fan of…excited does not even cut it when it comes to describing how I felt!!

IMG_1755The moment my friend and I arrived to Ambassador Theater we were ecstatic, taking pictures of everything worth being taken a picture of.IMG_1768

I thought the theater looked fantastic!

Can you see our excitement?!? 

We had front mezzanine seats so the view was spectacular! I was captivated with every performance. The play had a comical tone on top of the dark plot, which made it irresistible. Amra-Faye Wright, who has played the role of Velma Kelly, worldwide since 2001, did a phenomenal job. She made sure her entrance made a statement with “All That Jazz.” I literally almost jumped out of my seat as I watched “Cell Block Tango” being performed, my favorite musical number out of the entire play! It was absolutely perfect! Ivan Hernandez, who played Billy Flynn…wow beautiful man is all I have to say. Thank you! Raymond Bokhour, who played Amos Hart, because your performance gave me a new found respect for “Mister Cellophane,” which I never really liked along with “When You’re Good to Mama” which, was performed by NaTasha Yvette Williams, who played Matron “Mama” Morton, awesome job also.

I went in expecting a great show and came out with 10x the greatness I was expecting. If my experience couldn’t have been any better, at the end of the show I met Brandy! She came outside and signed playbook’s, posters, and took selfies with her fans! I was not the exception…

Brian O’Brien – Fred Casely 

I had an unbelievable experience and would repeat the day if I could.

You wouldn’t understand why Chicago is the longest-running American musical in Broadway history until you see it for yourself!

What if life was a musical?

What if life was a musical? Wouldn’t that just be amazing?! Every happy moment or sad experience would be a song and somehow that would make everything just a little bit better. I have always enjoyed a good musical but for some reason, I have never seen a Broadway play. Therefore, I told myself that for my 23rd year I would make it my mission to see as many Broadway plays as I possibly can.

The weekend of my 23rd Birthday I saw Mamma Mia! at the Broadhurst Theater, starting Judy McLane and Elena Ricardo. I was ridiculously hungover from my previous night’s birthday festivities but, “boy!” was it an awesome show! It was everything I expected and more! I was so not going to let a really bad…no horrible hangover stop me from seeing my first Broadway play ever. The show was just as funny and the music was just as festive and catchy as I remembered it in the movie. I couldn’t stop comparing the two! The entire show just made you want to smile and sing along. I definitely felt like a “Dancing Queen!” ready to start living yet another great year of her life!

Elena Ricardo – Sophie Sheridan

Lauren Cohn – Rosie

The show was a great reminder that family is what you make it and that there is a world out there ready to to be lived and explored. Life isn’t a musical but it definitely is one heck of an adventure! 

Books and Movies

I really enjoyed today because it was such a simple yet productive day. The day started out cold and wet, the usual Brussels weather, but in the afternoon the sun came out and was shining bright!

I spent the afternoon with my host mom. She took me to a bookstore called filiber very similar to Barnes & Nobles. I was very pleased because I love Barnes & Nobles so exploring the store was fun. There were so many people and French books everywhere. There was even a small section in the middle to eat and drink coffee/tea while reading books. We had quiches for lunch at the store. After my host mom showed me around the store and we ate lunch, I ended up spending most of my time in the history section. I browsed through the Mythology and Cleopatra books. It was interesting browsing through books in French about subjects that interest me.

Dans La Maison

Afterwards we went to go see a French movie. This time I experienced a new theater called UGC. This theater felt more old school than Kinepolis. The seats were ridiculously comfy though. We went to see the movie Dans La Maison “In The House.” The movie is directed by François Ozon and it is based off the Spanish play by Juan Mayorga, “El chico de la última fila.” The movie is about a 16 year old boy, Claude Garcia, and his passion for writing. Claude uses his classmate’s, Rapha Artole, family as the main characters in a series of essays he writes for his French teacher, M.Germain. The teacher becomes very intrigued by the boy and his essays and persuades him to continue to write. This leads to a series of events that makes it impossible for the audience and the teacher to decipher what is fiction and what is reality. It is truly a movie that plays with your head and leads to an ending no one expects. You are left with a series of questions and left to write your own ending.

The movie only had subtitles in Dutch. I had to depend on my French listening skills and surprisingly I understood a lot of the dialogue! I was extremely proud of myself! French movies never cease to amaze me though. They always take a step further. The intense sex scenes, the sensitive subjects they cover, they just aren’t scared to cross the line. The movie was very good and it was hard to not pay attention.

À le movies: 007

Skyfall Posters

Saturday, I decided to treat myself to the movies. I also really wanted to experience a Belgian movie theater. Since I’ve never seen a James Bond movie I thought why not see 007: SKYFALL. It’s apparently the 23rd installment of James Bond on screen. The movie starts British actor Daniel Craig and was directed by Sam Mendes. The movie also featured an amazing song by Adele, Skyfall, written strictly for the movie. It created a great opening for the movie! Definitely a good set up for the ambience the movie was trying to create (which doesn’t really show until the final scenes.) Overall, the movie had good action scenes and some really good quotable lines from various characters. However, I didn’t find the plot interesting and I felt like nothing really stuck out until the end. I didn’t really get where the movie was trying to go because there was just too much going on. In my opinion, the movie had a lot of potential to have a really good storyline but wanted to say too much so it ended up just making a mess. It had too many stories going on at once. I felt like some points didn’t even finish developing by the end of the movie. (This is as good of a review I can give without ruining the movie.) Either way, I would still go see the movie because I was entertained by the action scenes, characters, beautiful settings, and all the good lines from the characters.

Brussels Atomium

Side view of the Atomium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went to Kinepolis movie theater and of course getting there was an adventure. It was ugly out rainy, windy, and cold.  I had to take the tram a direction I’ve never taken before. As I rode the tram I passed through 2 to 3 stops where the walls were filled with the most awkward graffiti art I’ve ever seen. I was actually pretty disturbed by it. When I get off at my stop, which was the last stop on the tram, I instantly became amused by this building made of circles! Turns out to be the the Brussels Atomium build for the world fair in Brussels in 1958. It has 8 levels spread over 5 spheres! It’s apparently a very big tourist attraction! I am definitely returning to visit it! Right next to it it’s a small amusement park called Mini Europe. I fell in love! It was the cutest thing! I’m definitely returning to that too. I shall attend BOTH attractions!

Back of theater

Front of theater

So I ended up walking around the back of the theater before I found the front and the entrance. >_< Once I finally found the front I was in shock! It looked so fancy! Inside the theater has all the posters of movies that are currently  in theaters and some posters of movies that are about to be released. I found it funny that “Ted” JUST came out Oct.10th. The theater also has a lot of self-buy ticket machines! I’ve never seen so many in a movie theater! It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t arrive ridiculously early! I had 3 hours to kill and they had no waiting seats ._. Every employee was practically on lunch break. They weren’t even selling the popcorn yet, and I was craving some popcorn bad! I ended up sneaking into the bathroom so I wouldn’t pay the 35cents (since everyone was on lunch break,) listening to my iPod, and watching previews to this movie “Hobbit” and “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt.2” on this huge flat screen about 3 times.

Movie posters

Eventually I got my popcorn and got myself a twix bar to sweeten my life up. When I walked into the room I literally said “wow.” It was HUGE! That had to be the biggest screen in a theater I’ve ever seen. The movie was in English and there were French and Dutch subtitles. I thought that was pretty interesting. What caught me off guard was the 10min break to use the bathroom in the middle of the movie. I thought to myself, “they must really want those 35cents!” Whelp! they definitely got mine because I needed to pee! I still can’t believe they charge for bathrooms in Europe! I went back to my movie and left the theater pretty content. It was a good adventure for such a crappy day.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

One of my main goals abroad in Belgium is to watch as many international films as I can. My goal in life is to become an international producer so I figured abroad would be a great opportunity to watch international films. The first film I saw in Belgium was L’Auberge Espagnol during my French class. For my next film I figured I try my host moms DVD collection (she has a lot of movies.) I decided to watch Vicky Cristina Barcelona. It starts Javier Bardem, Pènelope Cruz, and Scarlett Johansson. It’s a Woody Allen film and was a part of the Festival De Cannes, which celebrates and promotes international films.

The movie is based in Barcelona, Spain. Two friends Vicky and Cristina go off to spend the summer in Spain. Vicky is engaged to be married and Cristina and still trying to find herself. One night during dinner they meet an artist Juan Antonio who turns their summer upside down. With an intensive, romantic, sexual and rough past with his ex-wife Maria Elena, Juan Antonio’s thoughts of her remain with him during his encounters with Vicky and Cristina. Until, one day Maria Elena returns to create a spiral of crazy between the four characters.

It was a great movie which I truly recommend. Pènelope Cruz did a great job as Maria Elena and definitely stood out throughout the movie.

There is so much international films have to offer can’t wait to watch my next film 🙂

French Music

Tonight after dinner I bonded with my host sister. She is absolutely adorable! I enjoy talking to her so much. We discussed music and dancing. She showed me what’s “hip” here with the French speaking population. We also danced a little 😀

The first video is my favorite out of all the ones she showed me. It is by Tal and Sean Paul. The beat reminds me of back home. 

The most ridiculous video she showed me was a French rap video o_O It is by Big Ali, PZK, Dogg SoSo and DJ Chris Prolls. This is definitely NOT the kind of rap I’m used too! Where’s Lil’ Wayne when you need him!

That video reminded me of Eminem back during his Slim Shady days. I think that’s as much French rap as I’ll be listening too during my stay in Europe.

The next video was so catchy I couldn’t resist but to put it up also. It’s called “Toi et moi” which translates to “you and me” in English

It’s so interesting to see how music sounds in a different language.