Saturday, March 26, 2011

Something's Missing...

If you checked my blog this morning, you would have seen 88 posts. But now, including this one, there are only 58. So where have the other 30 posts gone? No, I haven't deleted them. They've been moved to an exciting new blog.

Isa and I were talking the other night, and she reminded me what this blog was originally set up for: to tell the stories behind the pictures I take and put up on If you've read any of my posts in the past year or so, you'll know that I've strayed, posting about everything from Hannah Montana to Wicked the Musical.

In my last post, you learned that together, my wife and I are "Brisa." We decided to create a new blog about our life, called Everything Brisa. On it, we'll post about everything we like: food, travel, touristy things we do in New York, and random things that happen in our lives. I've moved all the posts about us from this blog to that one, comments and all. (Cool that you can do that, huh?)

Stay tuned to this blog, since I'll be updating at least once a week with back-dated travel blog posts with pictures that I never put up, like from my 2-week trip with friends through Italy, a 10-day solo trip through London and the Netherlands, and quite possibly some really old ones from Angkor Wat and my month-long trip through Cambodia and Bangkok, Thailand. Older blogs should still come up in your feed or on Google Reader. Let me know if you don't see them and I'll just post them with today's date instead of back-dating them.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Long Layovers (New Zealand and Venice Beach)

My father's 60th birthday was just on November 15, so Isa and I flew back to the states to celebrate it with him (along with the entire family) in Disney World. We spent a week in Orlando. It was fast-paced, hectic at times, but totally worth it and super fun. But that's not what this post is about.

On the way to Orlando, we stopped in Auckland, New Zealand (for those of you that just got REALLY confused, Isa and I are currently living in Australia). It was way fun! We slept in the airport, which has an upstairs skydeck that is really quiet and peaceful and as far as we're concerned, made for sleepovers.

We started out on the floor by our bags there, and then took over the benches when they left for their flights. We had about 18 hours in New Zealand, and this was about 2am. So the next morning, we woke up and took a bus into town. We walked around Queen Street, which is their main street, but it wasn't all that interesting (although possibly because we were there on a Sunday, so maybe it's better on weekdays).

Isa had a great idea to take a ferry over to one of the neighboring suburbs - Devonport. It's such a cute little town with great views of the City.

We explored the fort on the hill and ran through the tunnels. It was a lot of fun and I'm really glad Isa saw the deal to get us out there. There are a bunch more pictures up on Facebook, so you should check those out too. After hiking around and lazing in the sun for a while, we headed back to the ferry and back into town.

And then we took the bus back to the airport and embarked on the rest of our 46-hour journey.

Less than one week later, and probably only a day or two after we fully got over our jet-lag, we headed back to Australia. This time, we had a 10 hour layover in Los Angeles. I got a message saying the newest Del Sol store had opened a few hours earlier in Venice Beach. So we found a bus and headed to the beach. Venice Beach is hippie-ghetto. It's a little crazy, to say the least. But the sand was nice and it was a beautiful day.

After a bit of wandering, we found our destination:

The store is in a great location. It's right on the beach, right in front of the skate park and where everybody hangs out. We hung out with them for a little bit, checked out the new fixtures and merchandise (we love new designs and stuff) and then headed to the beach/skate park to watch the sunset.

I love that picture, and then Isa pointed me over to a lifeguard station to get this picture:

After the sunset, we grabbed a bite to eat at a local cafe and then headed back to the airport. We had no time for another excursion in Auckland on the way back (they actually held the plane for us because our flight was a little late getting in - we were picked up by Air NZ staff and walked VIP style right to the gate and right onto the plane).

So hooray for long layovers!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Longest Flight Ever

Not to spoil the ending, but WE'RE IN AUSTRALIA!!!

Getting here took a lot longer than anticipated though. So here's the full story:

We started off in New York, with a direct flight from JFK to LAX. Not bad, but it's so sad that they don't serve meals on flights any more. And we got on at 5pm, so they definitely should have fed us dinner.

It was at LAX when the flight started getting interesting. First, we thought LAX would have everything JFK does. Like lots of food. We were wrong. In our terminal, there was one option - some sort of bar/cafe thing - and our slice of pizza and lettuce wrap totaled up at $13. How ridiculous is that? We couldn't wait to get on the plane to get some real food.

We boarded the plane and found our seats in front of some rather rowdy kids. I hoped they would fall asleep soon, as it was nearing 11pm, otherwise this would surely be the longest flight ever. But instead the pilot told us something fell off a luggage cart, and they're checking the damage or something, and we need to just stay put for a bit. Thirty minutes later, they told us to get off the plane and wait in the terminal for further information. Still no food. Still starving. While waiting, we discovered a window so we could see what happened:

Somebody drove the luggage cart into the engine of the plane and they PUT A HOLE IN IT! So they cancelled the flight (after another half hour of waiting). They told us they'd provide hotel vouchers and to come back in the morning. We waited a few minutes because we knew there'd be a line at the counter, but we were not prepared for what we saw when we came around the corner. I didn't realize how many people could fit on a 747 until I saw them all in line in front of us. Isa and I, still starving, decided to play cards (BullS***) to pass the time. Two hours later, completely delirious (because we hadn't slept in about 24 hours) and weak (because we hadn't eaten in 14 hours) we got in the now dwindling line to get our vouchers. Happy to be on the way to a bed, we stepped outside the terminal into another mob of people - waiting for the shuttle bus from the hotel.

We decided to sit on a ledge to wait it out, and we managed to work our way to the front of the mob to get on the second bus (no doubt thanks to the skills we've picked up getting on the bus at 161st Street - people in the Bronx do not believe in lining up for the buses). This dropped us off at La Hacienda, into another line (but this time of only about 150 people or so) waiting to get rooms. Another 45 minutes or so passed until we finally got a room around 3am. Around 3:15 came a knock on our door - the hotel given our room to another family - but we invoked the "first come, first served" rule and sent them back to the front desk.

Four hours later, I woke up for breakfast - the best part of my journey so far (we never did get to eat anything else the night before) - and it was wonderful. Eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, toast, jams, orange juice, everything. I ate. And then ate again. And then I made a plate and brought it back to Isa so she could have breakfast in bed.

We went back to sleep for a few more hours and then woke for lunch (the airline had called the hotel and told us to be back by 2pm for a 4pm departure). Still groggy, a little stinky (they kept our luggage - and even though we had planned to carry everything on, they wouldn't let us take on anything over 6 kilos - that's about 13 lbs - so we couldn't brush our teeth or change our clothes) and completely out of it, we went back to the airport, through security, and found our flight was delayed again.

By this time, we're starting to recognize other people on our flight so we pass the time learning other people's stories - some on honeymoons, some going home, others on ridiculously cool vacations - and playing cards until we finally board again around 5pm.

I thought the flight went pretty fast. I watched three movies and Isa read the Hunger Games (I've since read it too. IT'S AWESOME!!) and before long, we were crossing into a part of the world I've never been:

The Southern Hemisphere!!

That's right, on all my travels, I've never been over the Equator. So I was pretty dang excited about that. And then just a few hours later, we crossed the international date line, and Sunday night turned into Monday night, just like that. We arrived in Fiji around 11pm, but all connecting flights had already left by then, so the airline had to put us up in another hotel (as much as we were excited to stay the night in Fiji, we were not excited about another line for another hotel voucher and then another line through customs). At least we got our bags so we could shower and change and brush our teeth. We woke up in the morning to find this our our balcony:

Not bad, Fiji. Not bad. Isa and I woke up early and went for a walk to see the beautiful countryside. The airline told us to be back at the airport by 7am for an 8am flight, so we couldn't go too far. But we saw enough to know that we definitely want to go back. :)

So 7am came around and the lady at the ticket counter told us that our flight to Brisbane was way overbooked and she asked if we would like to stay in Fiji another night (or maybe even two nights) all expenses paid until we could get on a flight. Oh decisions, decisions. Ultimately we decided that we were already a day late for work in Australia and we shouldn't make them wait any longer. So they put us on a different flight through Sydney, and then continuing on to Brisbane via Qantas Airlines.

But they didn't tell Qantas. So when we got to Sydney, Qantas said they had no record of us, and they wouldn't allow us to fly until they had signed paperwork from Air Pacific. Which we didn't have. They put up enough of a fuss that we missed our flight to Brisbane. Eventually they found us and put us on a later flight.

We finally made it to Brisbane around 5pm and ran onto the train to the Gold Coast. We had no phone, and we hadn't had internet since La Hacienda, so nobody in Australia knew where we were or when we would arrive. So when we finally got to our train stop over an hour later, not only was nobody there to get us, but nobody was even in Surfers Paradise. They were all in Brisbane, and could have easily picked us up from the airport, but we had no way to contact them. :(

So we got on a bus which promised to take us to Surfers. In deed it did, but we didn't know where to get off, so we went straight through Surfers and continued on to the next town down the coast. Our bus driver laughed at us when we told him where we were headed, "You should have gotten off 20 miles ago" but he let us stay on the bus until it made its return trip.

We hopped off and wandered the streets of Surfers Paradise for a little bit until we found our store. One of the employees showed us the way to our apartment. And we made it. 62 hours after getting on the subway to the airport in New York, we arrived at our little apartment in Surfers Paradise, Australia.

Here's a pic of Isa on the beach the next morning:

If you want to see more of that trip (as if reading that ginormous account wasn't enough), feel free to watch it on my youtube page:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The High Line

I've wanted to go to the High Line ever since I saw the plans for it in a special exhibition at the MoMA years ago. Finally, Isa and I made it down to the Meat Packing District to check it out. Basically, the elevated tracks were used for freight trains in the 1930's, but they soon fell out of use, and nature had its way with the structure.

A few decades later, New York Parks came out and tamed the wilderness and put paths, benches, and railings in so that we could enjoy it.

And it's got a sweet view of the Hudson.

So if you're in New York, you should definitely make the trek out to the High Line. It's one of the most unique parks I've ever been to. A perfect combination of two of my favorite things to photograph: nature and architecture.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New York City for a Week

After a month in Canada and a week-long road trip through the West, we finally made it back home to the Bronx. It's nice to be home. :) After a few days to relax, we headed down to New Jersey for my Nana's birthday party.

The whole family gathered down at Aunt Jeanmarie's house for the party, which also doubled as a birthday party for Uncle Peter, and a 25th anniversary party for Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Patty. But as much as we love all them, it was an excuse for us to be stupid on a diving board.

After failing miserably at no handed cartwheels, barrel-roll dives, and 1 1/2 flip/dives and hitting the water at various painful angles (watch the video I put together of all our craziness), we played some wiffle ball and ate A LOT of food.

Sunday we went to church and to Chris's Spartan Race. If you don't know what a Spartan Race is, watch this video. This is how Chris looked at the end of the race.

Monday was our only day to play in the City, so we took our Key to the City (remember that?) and went over to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and opened a side chapel there. This was our second time there. We went with Esther and Marie a few months ago and climbed to the top. It claims to be the largest cathedral in the world.

After that, we went to Bryant Park for our favorite use of the Key. We turned on and off one of the lights. This light:

Super fun. :) I'll post a video of that soon.

Then we went home, packed, and took off on a plane for our next adventure: Florida. Stay tuned for that fun story soon.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Temple Square to Las Vegas ROAD TRIP!!

After Spokane, Isa and I flew down to Salt Lake City to see friends and stuff. Isa had never been to Utah (or Vegas) so we wanted to do and see as much as possible. So we started out at Temple Square. If you haven't been there, you should go. It's really pretty and not just for mormons. We were there on a Friday so we played "spot the bride" most of the time. There were plenty of newlyweds around and it's always fun to see (and judge) the wedding gowns they chose.

I had never been up to the top of the church office building, so we did that. It's really cool and offers fantastic views of the capital building, the temple, the grounds, and the conference center.

The guides up top are also full of cool little insights too, so I highly recommend you talk to them. For example, did you know the capital building is built on a foundation of rubber pillars, allowing it to sway up to 2 feet in any direction in case of an earthquake (which is apparently long overdue).

After a day in SLC, we took off down toward Vegas. We made a stop in St. George to go on a little hike. We went up to Snow Canyon and hiked the sand dunes (which are super cool and really fun to see the wind whipping across them - and then pelting you which is not as fun) and then we went over to Jenny's Canyon. It's a really small canyon, but it gives you a good example (albeit on a MUCH smaller scale) of what Zion's canyons look like.

After our hike, we went on to Vegas, which is always farther than I think. If you've ever driven to Vegas, you know what I mean. I always think, "This is it... Just up and around this bend and you'll see Vegas." And then it's still not there for another 50 miles. Boo. But we finally made it and visited with my little brother Jason and his family (wife Christy, 3-year-old Ty, and baby Madison Jayne). We went to dinner and to see their new house (a ridiculous 5-bedroom house that they can actually afford because of the housing crisis in Vegas) and then we headed in to play on the strip.

We saw the volcano explode at the Mirage, we walked through the Venetian through the Grand Canal, and of course we saw the water show at the Bellagio.

Vegas has also changed a lot since I was last there. The whole new Aria and City Center right in the middle of the Strip was new to me. And I don't remember the Encore next to the Wynn either. But of all the new things that I noticed, probably the most surprising was a wonderful little restaurant out front of Caesar's Palace. (Go ahead and click on the picture to enlarge it.)

Yeah! Serendipity 3 is there now, complete with $10 Frrrozen Hot Chocolates. MMMmmm. Vegas baby, YEAH!!