torrie's travels

WHERE WILL I GO NEXT?

Nothing Left To Do! June 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 11:14 pm

So I thought I should update you all on our Paris/London plans.  Since I last posted, we finalized the last three things we needed to do before we take off in September.

First, we purchased our tickets to Macbeth at the Globe Theater.  I am so very excited for this show!  I love Shakespeare and always have.  I took “Shakespeare” in high school from the drama teacher and it was great fun.  His classroom was connected to the stage, so each day we went into the auditorium and read the plays aloud.  Each day people would be different characters.  After days of being Lady Macbeth I put up a fight and asked why I couldn’t play Macbeth?  So Mr. Ludwig told the guy who had been monopolizing the lead role that it was mine for that day!  Another Macbeth memory was from earlier in high school when my two best friends (Emilie/Emily) and I took a general Theater class.  Also, from Mr. Ludwig.  We did different plays in that class (another memorable one being The Wild Duck, by Ibsen), including Macbeth.  The three of us were the witches.  “Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble.”  So to be seeing this play in the manner in which the Bard intended is so exciting!!

Next, we purchased our Buckingham Palace tour.  Apparently the Queen will be off on her annual holiday in Scotland while we are there and they open up the Palace for tours.  One may only purchase a ticket to the tour if they already have a London Pass.  Because we do, we were golden.  We are very excited for this tour.  We get to see state rooms, which will be outfitted as if they were being used for important occasions.  I know this is one of the things at the top of Jaime’s list, so she is thrilled!

Finally, we purchased our day trip tickets.  I really wanted to go on the Stonehenge, Bath, and Stratford-upon-Avon tour, so that is the one we booked.  Jaime could really take or leave Stonehenge, but I am exited to see it.  I understand you can’t get super close or anything, but hey, it’s one of the Wonders of World.  It’s kind of bucket list thing.  I can’t be that close to it and not be able to say I’ve seen it!  From Stonehenge we travel to Bath, where we have time to explore the town.  I am very pumped to see the Roman Baths and drink the water!  Hopefully all that ails me will be cured!  Ha!  We will also have lunch in Bath.  From there, the tour travels through the scenic Cotswolds to Stratford, the home of Shakespeare.  As you have read, I love him, so I was exciting to see his birthplace.  We will get a tour of his birthplace, see his burial site, and be served champagne and strawberry scones in his garden!  It will certainly be a long day, but it will be great to get outside of London and see a bit of the English countryside!

There is now literally nothing else that needs to be done until we leave.  That is a very exciting idea.  Aside from the sights and transportation in Paris, everything except meals and souvenirs is already paid for.  Now we wait!  But as with Ireland, which I began to plan around the same time as this trip and the trips are around the same time, it will fly by.  I can’t believe it’s already less than three months away (actually, twelve weeks from today)!  More than five months have passed since we began to plan!  We can’t wait!

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Much Delayed Review of CA Trip, or, longest blog post in the history of man June 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 8:52 pm

So sorry for my delay/lapse in posting on here.  This spring has been the absolute busiest I’ve ever been at work.  And this month isn’t providing any change.  Maybe July?!?!

I went to CA (SD and LA) on May 21-26.  I apparently had the bright idea to land in SD at 9am so that I could have the whole day to sight-see.  Well, I must’ve skimmed over the time my flight left MSP, because I had to get up at 2:30am in order to make it to the airport by 4:30-ish.  Ugh.  I slept most of the way to CO and part of the way to SD, but by the end of that day I had been up over 22 hours, which I do not recommend.

Once I landed my friend Teresa picked me up and dropped me a coffee shop where I could decompress before Karin picked me up for lunch.  She suggested fish tacos, an SD staple apparently.  While I like fish, I have always thought fish tacos were disgusting.  But hey, I’m on vacation.  I might as well try something new, right?!?!  They were great!  I’m so glad I tried them!  (How often do I say that?)  But I’m not gonna lie, I also ordered a chicken taco…just in case!

Then Karin showed me her and Jersey’s townhouse and set me up with Jersey’s Mazda Miata.  He was out of town (what’s new?) and was letting me use his car.  My first stop was Matt and Teresa’s, to drop off my extremely large suitcase that only fit into the Miata with the top down in the passenger seat!  Then I headed down to the water and toured the USS Midway.  I don’t know what I expected, but it was more awesome than I thought it would be!!  It was nice to see what life on an air craft carrier is like, considering Matt spent the better part of a year on one.  I spent a good three hours there…lots of walking!

After the Midway, I located the on ramp for the Coronado Bridge and drove over to the island.  It was semi-rush hour, but it was still beautiful.  I should maybe have checked out the island more, but I didn’t know what to expect of traffic and was meeting Matt for HH before the game, so I just turned around and headed back.  Drove back to Matt and Teresa’s to change for the game and met Matt at a cool Irish pub.  We got to catch up a bit until Teresa met us and we headed to Petco Park.

We enjoyed the game…how could you not, the Cards won 10-2!  And about half of the stadium was wearing red.  We really do travel well!  I hit the hay soon after we arrived home, but surprisingly did not feel as tired as I should have!

I got up the next morning and headed for the world-famous San Diego Zoo.  Now, I like zoos…I love elephants…but I’m not generally gaga for them.  I spent a good five hours at this one.  It was pretty great.  Plus I had gorgeous weather.  I spent the day watching animals, walking around, and relaxing.  What’s not to like?  I watched the elephants twice (not counting the bus tour).  They are so cute!

I really could have used a nap at this point, so I drove through Balboa Park and made my way downtown. I found a parking spot and shut my eyes for a bit before the game.  I had a great seat at the game…one section over from the Cards’ dugout.  Surrounded by many, many Cards fans.  I got to see a rookie pitcher throw a great game and pick up his first W.

The next morning I left Matt and Teresa’s and brought the Miata back to the Harrison’s and took a cab to the rental car facility.  (My cabbie was awesome…after hearing about all my sports-related trips, he wondered where I’d been all his life!)  I drove up the coast to LA and found my hotel.  I wanted to take a nap, but figured I should make the most of the time I had (and try to face as little traffic as possible), so I headed out to Venice beach.  Apparently my mapquest app thought I really meant the beach.  So I had my first close-up with the Pacific Ocean.  It was another beautiful day and I sat on the beach and read a bit.  But I wondered where was the iconic Venice beach?  This was just…beach.

Oh well, off I headed to Santa Monica to check out the Pier.  On my way, I spotted Venice beach.  Oh well, I’d backtrack.  So I kept going and arrived at the pier.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was expecting more.   I hear, and can imagine, that it’s quite a sight at night.  I had a tasty seafood “lunch” (at 3pm) and wandered the pier.  When I’d had enough, I drove back to Venice.  Yes, here were all the weirdos and body-builders.  And pot.  Lots and lots of pot.  It was almost all I could do not to yell at everyone to get a job.  I was definitely out of my comfort zone!

At this point I was exhausted and knew I was going to have to get up early the next morning, so I just went back to the hotel and read.  I had a ticket for the Warner Bros studio tour the next morning at 10am.  I was staying south of LA and had nightmares about what morning rush hour was going to be like getting through the city to Burbank in the north.  So I left by 8am.  I arrived before 9am.  So I got gas, but decided to go in and just wait.  Luckily they were able to get me onto the 9:15am tour.  Score!

This tour was probably the best part of the trip (aside from the Cards’ stellar play).  I didn’t know what shows shot at Warner Bros, but I just wanted to see how shows/movies are shot!  Well, it turns out I was with a group of Gilmore Girls/Pretty Little Liars fans (and a couple from Eden Prairie…go figure!).  Our tour guide was a 20-something girl, so she was excited about GG/PLL stuff.  Unfortunately, I’ve never seen an episode of either.  We started in the “Midwest” section.  Thankfully all the shows (except PLL) were on hiatus so we mostly had free reign of the back lots.

Aside from those two shows, the tour guide did tell us some Hart of Dixie facts, so I liked that.  I got to see where they shoot the outside scenes and the building that is used as the grocery store.  The lot was currently “undressed” but some of the buildings still had PLL stuff on them (e.g. Rosewood City Hall).

Outside of the town square, there was a street with houses on it.  This one sits on the corner.  $10,000 if you can tell me what iconic house this is:

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Sitting in the street was a large thing with bushes on it.  We learned that it was a “bushwagon”.  When they are shooting and need to block the view, they will use bushwagons.  I am so looking for them in TV shows this fall!  We saw how some of the houses are currently being used for PLL.

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This is one of the PLL houses (currently…was also a GG house…and more, I’m sure).  Apparently this big hole in the front is a spoiler.  A car crashed into it the day before during filming.  The fun trivia about these houses is that they each have at least two “front doors”.  At first this was a confusing concept.  Like they just replace the door?  Ok.  Oh, no.  The backs of the houses are also set up as front doors.  One of the houses we went in is sometimes used as Zoey Hart’s medical practice on Hart of Dixie.  I couldn’t see it, as it was “undressed”, but I am definitely going to watch for it next season!

Some of the random areas of the lot were used in iconic Friends eps.  We saw this tiny little piece of grass:

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(I was on the other side of the extended golf cart.)  This little spot is where Ross played Rugby to impress Emily.  Our tour guide said that the camera adds not only 10 lbs but also 10 feet!  And this little area:

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Was where Phoebe and Rachel went running in “Central Park.”  Yes, can’t you see Phoebe and her weird running?  I can!  Friends is still the most successful sitcom ever and they have the Friends stage memorialized.

We got to see where they make props, siding, moulding, and even the fake Oscars for Oscar night.  We got to see a sampling of vehicles (Batmobiles, the General Lee, and the Mystery Machine, to name a few), and then we got to enter the ONE set they have ever kept.  The only one ever in the history of Warner Bros.

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I’m sitting on the Friends couch!!  Well, one of the Friends couches…they went through three of them in the 10 years of filming.  This is the couch from seasons 7-10.  A little trivia: Gunther was a real barista when he was approached to be on the show solely to run the cappuccino/espresso machine.  Then, little by little, he got lines and a story.  Now he makes quite good money just in royalties!

We got to enter the PLL sound stage.  They were about to shoot interviews for ads, so we had about 10 mins.  We got to see bedrooms and the school.  It’s very funny to see a bathroom door open to another hallway.  Not a bathroom.  We opened the lockers and in one of them was an Illinois Statute book.  I found that quite humorous!

On our way to a sitcom sound stage the GG/PLL people started twittering in the back of the golf club.  Apparently one of the main cast members of PLL drove past us on a golf cart.  Our tour guide said she wondered if anyone would catch it but she is not allowed to point it out.  Anyway, we got to see the Big Bang Theory set.  It is much different than the drama set.  I don’t watch this show either, but it was interesting to see how the different settings are arranged.  I think I would definitely like to see a taping of a show one day.

After all of this, we went to the “90 years of Warner Bros” museum.  Which was lackluster, to say the least.  It had some interesting costumes and artifacts, but it all fit on one (small) floor.  That wrapped up the tour.

I next drove up to the Griffith Park Observatory for a shot of the Hollywood sign.  It’s so iconic and it was neat to be able to see it.

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I was too hungry to go into the Observatory, so, with Siri’s help, I located the closest In-N-Out Burger and had lunch.  Then I went to the Grove and the Farmers Market.  I loved the Farmers Market, glad my brother suggested it. I was planning on going to the Grove anyway, but not sure I would’ve noticed the Market if I hadn’t been looking for it.  And I almost wished I hadn’t already eaten.  Though I had some dessert!

Then, again paranoid about traffic, I wound my way over to Dodger Stadium and prayed for my life and safety.  Again, I was mostly surrounded by Cards fans.  And the Cards won!  It was nice to finally see a game here.  I’ve been to Wrigley and old Yankee Stadium.  With the exception of Fenway, I’ve now been to the classic stadiums!

The next day I went to the La Brea Tar Pits.  This was very interesting.  I didn’t know what to expect, but the tar pits are still bubbling with methane gas.  And it smells so much like tar!  I know, thank you captain obvious, but I just didn’t think it was actually going to smell like tar.  I was fascinated by the amount of excavations occurring there.  I did not go into the Page Museum, though.

From there, I headed to Beverly Hills!  I walked Rodeo Drive and window shopped.  I had lunch at a cute little diner.  Best. Egg Salad. Ever.  I had to check out Hollywood Boulevard and the Chinese Theater, right?  So that’s where I headed and observed the freak show there.  Seriously, grown men and women dressed up as characters making a living by allowing people to take photos of them?  For real?  And I didn’t realize this at first, so I tried to take a photo and Darth was not pleased.

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He told me “no photos without payment, it’s hot.”  Um, then get a real job, asshat.  You’re a grown ass man.  There was a Hello Kitty, Spiderman, etc.  But my favorite were the people who made themselves up to look like real people.  Michael Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, etc.  I heard SLJ bartering with tourists over how much he would charge for a video.  This was just beyond.  Why do tourists WANT this?  It’s not the real people?  Who cares!?!?!

From here I had to make my way back to the stadium for the afternoon game.  The Cards lost.  The only game they lost all week.  I’ll take it!  I wore my colors (not in the gang sense) and survived.  I headed back to the hotel to get stuff ready to go the next morning, because, sadly, my trip had come to an end.

It was a fantastic trip, but much too short!  I need more time in both places to fully explore and experience these cities.  I will definitely be back!