29 May, 2013

I Can Finally Reveal The Big Secret!

Mimsy, Tracey (the beauty & brains behind S&S, the lovely Hayley & myself
 
 
Remember a little while ago I was galavanting around inside the Trailer Trash Tattoo studio with Mimsy looking all dressed up? Remember how I said something secrect squirrel was going on? Well now I can finally reveal the big secret and I am SO excited!! Rockabilly clothing and accessories company and proud supporters of this blog, Stars and Swallows have just launched their newly designed website and I'm a featured model!!
 
 
We got to work with the dynamic duo, Misha's Makeup and Matt Black Photography, which is a rare privilege. It was such a fun day and I loved getting dressed up in all the wonderful clothes and outfits! I wish they were all in my wardrobe! Luckily they can be and ever since the shoot I've been slowly collecting more and more of the clothes I modelled but now you can buy them off the new and improved website! Which may I say I think looks fantastic, and not just because I'm on it :P
 
 
It's so pretty but simple, making it really easy to navigate and the new images certainly bring the site itself and the clothes to life. I'm also really proud of Stars and Swallows for choosing such a different range of models, size and shape wise. I think that is really important and will certainly help shoppers to know what will look good on them and how certain items look on curves, larger sizes and smaller frames.
 
 
These images are just a bit of a tease on what you can find on the website and there's plenty on offer for both guys and gals so go and check it out. No doubt you'll see plenty of familiar faces and not just mine *hint hint* While you're there, why not grab whatever takes your fancy!? Stars and Swallows proudly stock smaller and plus sizes, have some of the most affordable prices around and offer super fast shipping so you might even be able to get something new for the weekend...if you can make your mind up in time!
 
 
So, what do you think of my website debut? I've never been a real clothing model on a real website before!! I'm a bit chuffed!

21 May, 2013

Sunday Spa Day

Thanks to the wonderful team at Blog Power Events, I was invited on Sunday to the newly renovated Beautiful You Hair and Beauty Day Spa at Margate to join a group of bloggers for a day of pampering the experience all the wonderful things that the ladies at Beautiful You have to offer. We know my obsession with massages and all things pampering so I was definitely in!
 
I decided to give wet setting my hair another go on Saturday night seeing as I had some spare time and thought it would be nice to turn up on Sunday looking all put together. I'd picked a cute outfit, curled my hair and done my make up - silly me, it's a spa day! The first thing I did on arrival was change into slippers and a robe, before being whisked into a room for an Image facial peel. Bye bye make up and neat hair! I have to say though, the peel was AMAZING and only tingled for a bit. It involved applying four layers of products to my face to bring the ph level of my skin down and used vitamin C, glycolic acid and powerful enzymes to brighten, tighten and lighten my skin. My skin has looked and felt unbelievable ever since and I was given a little take home pack of products to apply in a three step routine morning and night to continue to get the most out of the treatment for at least another week.
 
 
Once that was over it was out into the lounge and salon area to mingle with the other ladies and enjoy some champagne. We each had our own personalised treatment timetables detailing what the day had in store for us and it was quite exciting to see what wonderful, indulgent things were coming up next on the list. For me it was the Blue Lagoon Hydrotherapy Spa and as I entered the room I felt instantly relaxed with the dim lighting, lots of candles set up everywhere and some kind of magnificent aromatherapy scent filling the air. It was a bit of a contrast to the actual spa which as I approached it, it looked super high tech with blue lights emanating from beneath the water. Using three different pressure settings on the jets, this amazing contraption actually gently exfoliates your skin as you lay in the steamy water, which also relaxes your muscles. As a shorty, I had to hold on a bit when the pressure from the jets increased as I was getting floated around a bit. Haha
 
Then it was back out into the fray with all the other fabulous ladies getting primped to within an inch of their life for more champagne and a spa pedicure. I chose my signature colour of red and lay back and let the chair massage my back as the lovely Toni worked away on my tootsies. I almost fell asleep! Haha Total bliss! Then it was off to the basin for a hair wash, treatment, scalp massage and blow dry. My hair felt amazing afterwards and Narelle's scalp massage was THE BEST I've ever had in my entire life! Thank you Redkin ladies!
 
We continued nibbling, sipping champagne, being pampered and chatting away and tweeting and instagramming to our hearts content. There were some many lovely ladies there that I hadn't seen in a while including Suger, Liv, Mrs BC, Rachel, DanielleJos and Stacey and met some new faces as well with Kimba and Rosana. I finished off the day with the most wonderful Pure Fiji massage before we all got a bit silly taking group photos. It was such a fun day and I'm so thankful to Blog Power Events and Beautiful You for inviting me along!
 
I think I'd definitely love to go back and have another of the Image facial peels and maybe test drive a few of the other services on the menu - and trust me there's A LOT!

16 May, 2013

Wet Set - GO!

As someone with deadly straight hair without even trying, it should come as no surprise that for a long time I've been on a quest to make it curly. Despite what someone think, I'm actually not that good at doing my hair and am especially bad a curling. Well, until now...
 
I've always struggled to try and curl my hair, trying everything from hot rollers to velcros and curling irons. My main problem has been a combination of lack of knowledge/skills and laziness. Surely it couldn't be too hard to learn how to get that gorgeous, sassy, bouncy, curled and wavy look. And yet, I couldn't be bothered mostly because I felt everytime I tried I always failed - so what was the point? I am also lucky enough to have some rather skilled friends who are wonderful enough to do my hair for me.
Don't laugh. Stop it.
But I'd been so bored with my hair lately that I wanted to do something different. I definitely wanted to go shorter and I wanted something that could be a bit edgy when left straight but could transform into a more classic look with some teasing and curling. I settled on a style and walked out of the salon looking like a million bucks. Question was, could I maintain the curls when I wanted to?
 
Cue my fairy hair mother Elisse and her brilliant advice. Wet sets with foam rollers. Easy to do, no need to follow any real pattern, easy to sleep in and leave in overnight to wake up with fab hair. It seemed simple enough and she assured me I could do it. So I hunted down some foam rollers (which were harder to find than I thought they'd be) and gave it a shot.
Leaving the salon - what I tell you? Million bucks!
My first attempt didn't quite work out. I got home too late the night before and was too tired to set my hair so I did it first thing the next morning. I left it in for a while and blow dryed it a little but the curls weren't completely dry by the time I had to take them out so they didn't hold properly. Still, there was enough of a wave in there that it didn't look completely terrible and with a bit of teasing it looked decent and I was able to leave the house in it.
 
My second attempt was far more successful, although at first I didn't think it was. I set my hair as per usual and when I took the rollers out the next morning I was so impressed by how tight the curls were and what great hold they had. I started to divide the middle section and brush them down a little bit...and then I started to panic. They looked ridiculous! They were sitting way too high and the ends had gone a bit crazy and I looked like some kind of wannabe vintage albino golliwog.
Not bad, eh?


I kept brushing, my panic rising. Oh my God, I thought. This is SO not going to work. I can't leave the house like this!! I'm going to have to wash my hair to get rid of it. I looked at the clock, 15 minutes before I had to leave for work. WHY? Whyyyyy did I do this?? Amidst my panic and hyperventilation, Elisse's words came back to me. No matter what, just keep brushing - the curl will hold. And you know what? IT WORKED!! Phew!
 
So, the basic steps and tips for creating a wet set from a total newbie?

  • Make sure your hair is damp but not TOO wet.
  • Use a good quality mousse designed to offer decent hold.
  • Make sure your sections aren't too thick (they won't dry)
  • Try to keep your ends neat for a better, smoother result.
  • Wrap your hair up in a scarf overnight to prevent strays
  • Finish off in the morning with a quick bloy dry to make they're all dry
  • JUST. KEEP. BRUSHING.
This is the basic setting pattern I use but it doesn't need to be exact or particularly neat (as long as your curls are)




This is a much easier way to curl your hair than pin curls (good lord!) and far less painful that burning yourself on hot rollers and curling irons! So, have YOU got any tips for ME? If you have any questions leave them in the comments too and I'll do my best to help.

14 May, 2013

USA Adventure: Part 8 - Viva Las Vegas!

Ok, I know it's taken me too long to get to this part of the adventure and at risk of disappointing you, I still haven't gotten all the images downloaded off the camera yet so I don't have ALL the images available, but I will share what I already have. You can look forward to a bumper photo post once I've finally been able to sort through the thousands (literally) of photos. But, into the action of VLV!!
 
On the Thursday after we'd been shooting we headed back to The Orleans to scrub ourselves up for the offical start of Viva Las Vegas 16! We had a bit of a look in the vendor rooms when they opened but my goodness it was CHAOS up there! There were SO many people packing the stalls it was almost impossible to look at anything, unless you were prepared to push and elbow your way through. Which I was not. So we grabbed some dinner and headed to what was to be our main HQ throughout the festival, Brendan's Irish Pub. Just one of the many venues of the festival, Brendan's seemed to match our music tastes rather well and staying put was certainly much easier than trying to run around to all the different band rooms. We started off with Roy Rapid & The Rhythm Rock Trio, friends of Turtle and Mitchy's from their travels. Next up was Dead Zed's Chopper who added a bit of psychobilly to the mix. We also caught the Hard Fall Hearts before we headed upstairs to the Ballroom for a couple of dances to Ruby Ann. About 2am we called it a night, saving our energy for the next two days which were set to be the biggest.
 
Friday we had planned to take part in the bowling tournament for a bit of fun but everyone was still recovering from the night before and motivation was low, so we couldn't seem to rustle up a team. Instead, we decided to enjoy the sunshine and headed out to the Pool Party for some hair of the dog. We listened to The Aquasonics and paddled our feet in the water before it was time for me to head inside to get my hair done. By the time I was ready we decided to grab dinner before once again settling in for a night of music. This was when we met the lovely Kristy and Justin as we lined up for dinner. We ended up getting a table together and spent the rest of the night enjoying each others company and drinking...lots. Ha. From dinner we headed back to Brendan's just in time to see The Twistin' Tornados. Next up was Lil' Mo & The Dynaflos, a great doo wop quartet. Considering we don't get much doo wop over here in Oz, this was really fun! As it turns out, Dave who does tenor vocals was also a friend of Kristy and Justin. We spent the rest of the night at Brendan's for the All Night Jumpin' Showcase which was a smorgasbord of musicians jamming in various line ups for 4 hours. It was incredible! Such a fantastic night, we dragged ourselves to bed at about 4:30.
 
Saturday was the Car Show and despite our late night of drinking, we tried to get ourselves up at a reasonable hour. I was feeling rather under the whether (both hungover and getting a cold) and couldn't be bothered to do much other than put on a dress, touch up my make up, wrap my hair up in a scarf and hide behind sunglasses. We wandered around the car show in the blistering heat and as much as I tried to enjoy myself I felt terrible! I couldn't even shop!! I stuck it out for a bit, long enough to snap a few pics, check out a few rides and make it into the Aussie group photo but I was fading fast and retreated back to the room for a bit of a lie down. I made sure I made it back down to the car show to see Dick Dale and seeing him perform Miserlou was just what I needed to pep myself up. It was also time for me to go and get my hair done again, which also helped to make me feel much better. Covered in sequins and with some fab hair, I made my last jaunt down to the car show area to see Little Richard on the outdoor stage. Even at 80 and in a wheelchair he's still got it! TO see him perform hits like Good Golly Miss Molly live was pretty incredible. Certainly not something I thought I'd ever see in my life.
 
We then headed inside to catch the last half of Deke's Guitar Geek Show where we were lucky enough to see the performance of the festival, not to mention discover the musician of the festival! Husband of recently discovered blues, rock and roots singer Nikki Hill, Matt Hill is an old black blues man trapped in the body of an unassuming white guy. Matt was AMAZING and his cover of an old Howlin' Wolf song, Howlin' For My Baby was nothing short of transcendent. I've never seen anything like it before and his vocal ability was unbelievable! I'm pretty sure all the men in the room wanted to throw their pants on stage as well! After a quick bite to eat and a moment to digest the amazingness we had just seen, we headed to our favourite haunt Brendan's just in time for Gambler's Mark. We stayed for the All Night Jumpin' Showcase and we're glad we did because not only were we treated to a repeat performance by Matt Hill, we also got to share a table with MARKY RAMONE and his wife!!!! That sure was a highlight, and we couldn't believe it when he got up on stage to perform Surfin' Bird, Rock'n'Roll High School and I Wanna Be Sedated. Too cool!!
 
 
Unfortunately the sickness had taken hold and we were really starting to go downhill so at about 2:30 we decided to call it a night. When I woke up on Sunday, I almost wished that I wasn't in the Swimsuit Competition as I felt so poorly I didn't even want to get out of bed. But I dragged myself out from under the covers and made myself look presentable. While I was waiting for our event a Swedish photographer who is putting a book together asked me if he could take some photos of me, so I'll have to keep an eye out for that in future in case I end up somewhere! One of 20 lucky ladies who were chosen to take part in the competition it was a really fun and positive experience. The MC from Bachelor Pad Magazine was a real character and kept the crowd entertained while we pranced around on stage. There were so many amazing costumes and the girl that won DEFINITELY deserved the title! But I didn't have much time to spend congratulating her as I had to race back up to the room for a quick wardrobe change before it was into a limo and off to the Wedding Chapel.
Don't worry, it wasn't ME that got hitched! Some friend's of ours who are a lovely couple and have been engaged for a little while now tied the knot in front of Elvis, some friends and close family. It was a slightly entertaining yet still beautiful ceremony and it was pretty cool to be a part of something like that to totally complete the Vegas experience. The bride looked stunning and it was such a sweet little occasion. We headed back to The Orleans and although there were still plenty of acts on the last night, we felt way too poorly. Considering we knew we still had about 3 weeks of holiday stretching out before us, we didn't want to push ourselves too hard and risk getting REALLY sick and not being able to enjoy our holiday so we had some dinner and then headed to the room to pack up ready to leave the next day and a well-deserved early night!
 
 
So that was a quick recap of the VLV weekender! If you missed all the other bits of my USA holiday, you can go back and read all about my adventures in Vegas including my Vegas tattoo as well as all the fun of Arizona, San Diego, Tijuana, Long Beach and Palm Springs. I guess that's all that’s left to cover now...stay tuned for a massive photo post to come!

13 May, 2013

USA Adventure: Part 7 - Hollywood!

After stopping in at Pomona, we hit the Interstate 10 headed for LA and were a little nervous about those famous traffic jams we’d heard about. Luckily, we made great time and the traffic was pretty good really. We dropped the car off at the airport and got the shuttle to our hotel out in Hollywood, trying to steal glimpses of the sign between all the buildings. It had been a big day, and the next day was sure to be even bigger so we grabbed some beers and headed next door for dinner at Palms Thai Restaurant, the best Thai restaurant in LA.

 
The next day we were up early and headed to Disneyland!!! I was so excited and it was a wonderful day, although we were a little disappointed that the hotel shuttle returned so early as it meant we’d miss out on the parade and fireworks. Still, we had a great day and enjoyed spotting all the tiny little details that make Disneyland so magical. We also had lots of fun going on all the rides, particularly the Indiana Jones ride and Space Mountain. There’s a very funny picture of me riding Space Mountain that I promise to share once we get it off the camera. It’s HILARIOUS!


We also lined up for 2 hours!!! to go on the main ride in Cars Land, which was a rather long time but it was at the beginning of the day so once that was over and done with we were pretty lucky with waiting times for the rest of the day, particularly thanks to the FastPass. We also met up with Mark and Dyanne, the couple we met at Don the Beachcombers. We had lunch with them at Trader Sam’s tiki bar and restaurant at Disneyland. A very fun place, the food was yummy and the drinks were even yummier! We spent hours there with them, not wanting to leave. I can also recommend riding the attractions after a number of cocktails, VERY fun! Haha


Friday we headed back to Disneyland, this time to check out California Adventure Park. We had an awesome day, with this park having more of the ‘adult’ rides. Our favourite was the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – SO fun! We also went on the rollercoaster Screamin’ Over California which was very fun and not scary at all. There were so many great rides, we had such a fun day! We also managed to find a later hotel shuttle which meant we could head back over to Disneyland for the fireworks. It was completely magical and I’m not ashamed to say I had a bit of a cry as I stood in the crowd with my mouse ears on, tinkerbell flying over the iconic castle and Julie Andrews on the soundtrack telling me that anything is possible and dreams really can come true. A totally magic moment for me.


Saturday we did a tour of the city and visited the Hollywood sign, Beverley Hills, Rodeo Drive and scoped out plenty of celebrity homes. We also got to check out more stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and visited the Chinese Theatre where we got to check out all the celebrity hand and foot prints. It was fun discovering all the different famous people, especially when you found someone you love – like Marilyn Monroe! We also visiting Madame Tussaud’s which was really fun and it’s amazing how realistic they look!! We finished up a great day with an even better night when our friends from Vegas, Kristy and Justin came and picked us up from our hotel and took us to a Big Sandy gig out at a Mexican cantina at Burbank. It was a great night with even greater people and I even took part in a marathon stroll. I also got to meet Doris Mayday which was pretty exciting as I think she is gorgeous and it was so great to know that she is a nice person in real life.


The next day we caught up with Justin and Kristy again, this time they took us sightseeing in parts of downtown LA. We visited lots of great spots, but the main attractions were stunning Union Station and colourful Olvera Street. Union Station is LA’s main railway station and is soooo beautiful! It’s quite old and is filled with stunning art deco architecture and décor. It’s been used in lots of movies, most recently in Gangster Squad. If you’ve seen that you’d recognise its marble floors, lovely architraves, elegant arches and rich furnishings. Right across the road from the station is Olvera Street, the oldest part of LA and home to a number of historic monuments, old buildings and an entire street that looks like little TJ, with heaps of stalls and shops selling authentic Mexican clothing, souvenirs, hand tooled leather goods and of course, churros, burritos and other amazing food. We finished the day with dinner and drinks at Trader Vic’s and we were so sad to say goodbye to these two. It looks like we’ll be going back next September for their wedding though, yay!


Our last day in the US was spent at Universal Studios and although it looked like it might rain the day stayed fine and we had a great time. We started with the studio tour which was lots of fun and gave us an insight into lots of the movie magic that takes place. We got to see a bunch of famous movie cars as well as lots of familiar movie sets. The King Kong 360 3D experience is AMAZING!!! We also took in plenty of the shows including WaterWorld which was pretty impressive and my favourite, the Animal Actors show. Those animals are so clever and cute!! I even got to meet the beautiful guy who played Marley in Marley and Me! We also loved the Simpsons Ride and the Transformers 3D Ride but the Revenge of The Mummy Ride was probably our favourite. It was a great day and we were so sad to leave. I shed a few tears on the plane. I can’t wait to go back!

 
Phew! So, that was my month-long adventure of the US! If you missed all the other bits, you can go back and read all about my adventures in Vegas including my Vegas tattoo, the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender as well as all the fun of Arizona, San Diego, Tijuana, Long Beach and Palm Springs

09 May, 2013

USA Adventure: Part 6 - Palm Springs!

After a bit of a sleep in and a stop in for a cut at Hawleywoods on 4th Street we hit the road headed from Long Beach to one of the destinations I’d been looking forward to the most – Palm Springs! We enjoyed a leisurely drive east and as soon as we arrived in town we headed straight for the aerial tramway. This was one of the attractions high on our list and it certainly didn’t disappoint! We drove 2,643 ft up the mountain to the Valley Station where we parked the car and went inside to board.
 

The view was stunning as we were surrounded by desert mountains and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day! A bit brisk but plenty of sunshine. Once inside we grabbed our tickets and a quick beer before boarding the world’s largest rotating tramcar for the 10 minute ride up to the Mountain Station. The circular tramcar rotates 360 degrees as you rise up the 8,516 ft to the Mountain Station and the views of Chino Canyon through the glass walls are simply incredible!
 

Once we got to the top, we disembarked and enjoyed the views from a range of different vantage points and look outs. You also had the option of going on hikes but we were ill-equipped for such activities and it was also quite cold at the top (there was still snow on the mountains!) so we went inside to the comfort and warmth of the bar for a couple more beers. We re-boarded the tramcar and descended back down to the Valley Station, once again to amazing views. It was such a wonderful experience and although not as vast as the Grand Canyon, the views were certainly as impressive in their own way.
 
We then set off for some Walmart supplies before checking into our hotel. The place where we stayed in Palm Springs was AMAZING!! It is by far the best place we stayed all trip and I will definitely we back there for sure! We stayed at the Palm Springs Rendezvous, which is a quaint little boutique hotel offering only 10 rooms, each designed to send you back in time with themes ranging from Rebel Without A Cause and Hawaiian Surf to Silverscreen, Route 66 and Shake, Rattle & Roll. However our room was the Pretty in Pink, a stunning room that Marilyn Monroe herself once stayed in. I’ll let the pictures do the talking but MAN OH MAN! I was in heaven!!
 

The owner of the hotel was a lovely old lady by the name of Betty who was sweeter than cherry pie. She was so wonderful and our nightly room rate also included a gourmet 3 course breakfast and cocktails and canapés by the pool in the evening. We made lots of great friends around the pool that evening and attracted a lot of attention with our 50s/rockabilly style. It was such a wonderful experience and I recommend anyone who goes to Palm Springs to stay here! I can’t wait to go back!!
 
 
After cocktails we set off to explore the main town although by now unfortunately most of the shops were closed. However I suspect it may have been fortunate for my bank account as Palm Springs is known for its vintage and mid-century everything! We even got to stare through the front window of the Shag shop and drool over all the amazing artwork. We checked out the local nightlife and were trying to decide where to have dinner. We stopped in for a drink at a Mexican restaurant called the Blue Coyote and were highly entertained by the bartender, Don. One look at the menu and the meals coming out and we knew we’d be back.
 
 
But not before visiting Palm Springs’ current main attraction – 26ft tall sculpture of Marilyn Monroe! She was big alright and as beautiful as ever. Not surprisingly there were plenty of people trying to get a look up her skirt! We got some shots and then headed back to the Blue Coyote for what was to be a fantastic night of amazing food, potent cocktails and lots of fun! Don was a real character and we had a great time hanging out with him, choosing to have our dinner at the bar lest we miss out on his cheeky humour and entertainment.
 
 
We made it back to our amazing room thoroughly satisfied and a little giggly, where I made full use of the whirlpool spa. After a good night’s sleep and the delicious gourmet breakfast we set off for Pomona to check out the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Museum. The place was filled with amazing cars and memorabilia and I spent ages walking around and reading all the little stories, excerpts and info cards around the place – I’m a bit of a history geek like that. Then it was back into the car and headed for the last destination on our trip – the bright lights of Hollywood!
 
 
 
 
You can catch up on the beginning of my USA adventure in Vegas including my Vegas tattoo, the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender, the wild west and tiki bars of Arizona, our San Diego experience, making it back alive from Tijuana, Long Beach and the Queen Mary, amazing Palm Springs and all the adventures of Hollywood!

08 May, 2013

USA Adventure: Part 5 - Long Beach!

We left San Diego and headed up the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway, but I'm such a local now I call it the PCH :P) taking in the beautiful beachy views and the charming little coastal towns along the way. It was a glorious day and this was pretty much the only time I regretted not getting a convertible. We got the first half out of the way with our foot to the floor, eager to reach not only our destination but the famous towns along the way like Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.
 
 
 
We passed through Laguna but by the time we reached Newport we decided we needed to stretch our legs. A stop for coffee at Starbucks turned into a bit more of an adventure when we stumbled on this cool place just down the road - Joe's Crab Shack! It looked cool from the outside and was even cooler on the inside! Lots of fun beach-themed decor as well as some huge sharks coming out of the roof. It was set right on the water and had huge windows to enjoy the view. Unfortunately we didn't eat here but I did try my first Coronita Rita - a margarita with a mini Corona upturned into it! Sounds weird I know and I was a little hesitant at first but these things are DELICIOUS! They also give you a rather lovely buzz and considering I wasn't driving I thought, what the heck?
 
 
Heading into Huntington Beach a famous icon crept up on us and from the middle lane I yelled STOOOOP!! And we did a sneaky pull over into none other than Don The Beachcombers!! It was early afternoon and we were pretty keen to check in to our accommodation in Long Beach but we couldn't pass up this amazing opportunity. We'll just call in for a quick drink we said. YEAH RIGHT! While checking out the bar we met a lovely couple from Buena Park (right near Knott's Berry Farm) who we got on with like a house on fire. 'A quick drink' turned into a long lunch and plenty of cocktails with these lovely people. We didn't want to leave but we had to keep moving, so we exchanged details and planned to meet up again when we got to LA.
 
 
After a couple of confusing turns we finally found our way to our accommodation for the night, the amazing Queen Mary. The Queen Mary is an historic ship that was built in the 30s and was once a luxury ocean liner that became a troopship in WWII and was once again returned to a passenger ship by 1947. After 20 more years of service she was finally retired and has now been transformed into a stunning floating hotel in Long Beach, with much of her original timber, etched glass and furnishings still intact. She is also reported to be extremely haunted. I know one thing for certain though, she is breathtakingly beautiful!
 
 
 
We were lucky enough to stay aboard for two nights and one the first night decided (ok so I had to talk The Man into it) to take a late night tour of the haunted ship. We were guided by a paranormal specialist (who apparently has his own TV show in the US) and got to use special paranormal equipment to detect any potential activity. We also got to explore some amazing parts of the ship that the general public don't have access to such as the engine room, an old stage and green room, the abandoned first and third class pool, inside the furtherest point of the bow and the famous 'door 13' where two men have been crushed to death in two seperate incidences. Nothing particularly frightening happened but it was really interesting to see these parts of the ship (The Man thought he may as well have just thrown his $75 off the front of the ship :P)
 
 
 
The next day we headed into to town to do some shopping and exploring. We found our way to 4th Street, notorious for it's long stretch of vintage shops and boy were we in heaven! We bought lots of stuff and spent a lot of time pining over vintage treasures that we could't take back with us. I spent a while gazing upon some beautiful kitchen chairs trying to figure out a way to fit the set of 4 into my suitcase. Ha. We also stopped in for a 'snack' at one of the best Mexican restaurants I have ever been to - Lola's! It's a quaint little place and quite unassuming from the outside but the margaritas are delicious and the queso fundido was AMAZING!! So. Much. Cheese!
 
 
 
We enjoyed a light dinner and some fabulous drinks in the art deco bar aboard the Queen Mary before turning in for the night, ready to head to Palm Springs in the morning, but not before stopping in at Hawleywoods for The Man to get a cut...and that's all I'll say about that.
 
You can catch up on the beginning of my USA adventure in Vegas including my Vegas tattoo, the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender, the wild west and tiki bars of Arizona, our San Diego experience, making it back alive from Tijuana, Long Beach and the Queen Mary, amazing Palm Springs and all the adventures of Hollywood!

07 May, 2013

USA Adventure: Part 4 - Tijuana

Phew! I'm back from Fiji and back into the blog. Sorry for the delay, but I'm back properly now so no more breaks I promise! Now where were we...oh yes, Tijuana!
 
Well, we almost didn't go to Tijuana. We'd been planning to the whole time but every American we told we were planning on going, we were met with looks of horror and dire warnings about being careful and how brave we were and how bad it was down there at the moment. It certainly cast some doubt over our visit, but we figured we'd come all this way and you only live once and we had travel insurance and if we were to die in Tijuana well it was a hell of a way to go. Ha.
 
So, a little nervous, we caught the tram to the border and walked up the ramp past the high walls and barbed wire through a turnstyle that brought us into Mexico. It was definitely intimidating, especially when you are met on the other side by heavily armed military. But we followed the crowd of people going over, onto the bridge that crosses the 'river' which is more like a dirty trickle surrounded by concrete, rubbish and beggars. I held onto my handbag very tightly and simultaneously tried not to make eye contact with the people coming towards me all while trying to keep my eye on them and make sure they weren't up to anything dodgy.
 
There was a bit of a smell and plenty of flies but we made it across the bridge and into a smattering of shops. We knew the tourist shopping area wasn't far but weren't entirely sure in which direction it was. Not wanting to go off by ourselves in an area we didn't know, we saw a fully uniformed and heavily armed officer (we're not sure if he was security or police) so we decided to ask him for directions. He was quite friendly and helpful, but as we went to leave he asked us where we were from. When we told him Australia, he offered us drugs, whatever we wanted and said he could get us a really good price. Shocked, we told him we weren't interested and tried to walk away but he followed us, telling us he'd be right here if we changed our minds!
 
We couldn't believe it!! But we had also heard stories like that where it is actually a trap and if you say you are interested in the drugs, they arrest you. Either way, it was an interesting experience! We made our way to the tourist shopping area and were charmed by the colourful little stalls selling all kinds of knick knacks and cultural sourvenirs. Everywhere we went, everyone was trying to get us to their stall or shop and offering all kinds of deals. We even got offered $2 margaritas and $1 tattoos! No thanks!! Another thing shop owners do is offer you free shots of tequila to come and look in their store. We had heard about this and that some of the tequila could be dodgy, so we were wary of this.
 
Evenutally we found a nice looking store and the owner was quite helpful instead of doing the hard sell like everyone else. He offered us a shot of his homemade tequila. At first we refused and kept browsing but he offered again and we thought, what the heck? So we tried it, but he made it clear we were to sip it rather than shot it, in order to fully appreciate the flavour. As I brought it to my lips, I knew it was going to be good. It had this delicious vanilla smell to it. It was freakin amazing!! I could have had a huge glass of it straight and just sipped it, it was so yummy! By the time we left the shop we'd had 3 shots each and had bought a fair bit. Stepping back out into the sunlight and hot street we all felt a bit woozy but rather nice haha
 
We shopped around for a while, bartering with the locals and refusing many of the street vendors who are very persistent in trying to get you to buy. We bought all kinds of clothes, jewellery, sugar skulls, key rings, wrestling masks, wrestler figurines and guadeloupe statues. We didn't take too much cash on us as we were being cautious in case we got mugged and we were soon low on cash so we managed to track down a US ATM after a few failed attempts at trying to figure out the ones in Spanish! Unfortunately for whatever reason, the ATM wouldn't give any of us any money and actually ended up eating my card!!
 
We figured with little money, we'd have to call it a day soon but not before an awesome lunch! We sat down at one of the local restaurants and laughed because the whole menu was in Spanish! I'm not sure what we were expecting but we couldn't tell what anything was. Thankfully we had a great waiter who was very friendly and recommended a tradtional dish for us. It was AMAZING!! It came out in a big volcanic bowl and had all kinds of delicious bits and pieces in it, as well as a basket of tortillas and you basically made your own. It had everything from chicken and beef to seafood and even cactus!! It was fantastic and we had a great lunch with plenty of margaritas.
 
Down to our last few dollars we figured we'd better head back over the border so we lined up for a while to clear immigration. Considering how tight US security usually is, I was quite surprised by how relaxed and easy the whole process of coming back into the States from Mexico was. They just looked at my passport and basically said ok come on through! haha We caught the tram back to the station and had a car pick us up and take us back to our hotel where we got ready to celebrate our last night in San Diego at the famous Bali Hai!
 
The Bali Hai is an iconic bar and restaurant on the northern tip of Shelter Island that was opened in 1955 as a tiki oasis that combines Asian and Polynesian influences. The place is absolutely beautiful and has an amazing view of the water! It also has a fantastic tiki cocktail menu and serves fine food. We totally indulged over a delicious dinner and plenty of cocktails, including collecting a mug which we tried to do at almost every tiki establishment we visited while in the US. Then it was home to bed for a good night's sleep before setting off for Long Beach the next morning.
 
You can catch up on the beginning of my USA adventure in Vegas including my Vegas tattoo, the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender, the wild west and tiki bars of Arizona, our San Diego experience, making it back alive from Tijuana, Long Beach and the Queen Mary, amazing Palm Springs and all the adventures of Hollywood!