Women shopping : Santee Alley

Welcome to the “Disneyland of women’s shopping” in L.A! L.A. is the hub of fashion in the west coast.  It is where many of the world styles start.  On our last day in LA, my husband was talking about taking me and my mother in law  to another attraction before we finally leave for our cruise.  To my surprise, he mentioned shopping (which sounds strange coming from him).  He said there is another attraction in LA called Santee Alley.  They sell all kinds of clothing there and knock off brands.  The place looks average and not clean in some areas but they have any style of clothes you can think off.

women-shopping-santee-alley (2)They have stores that sell sexy stylish lingerie, fancy dresses, cool jeans. My heart was pounding with excitement as we parked in one of the parking areas walking distance from the famous alley. As soon as we walk outside, I started seeing shops and women carrying plastic bags full of clothes that they bought.  They have all kinds of beautiful stuff that women love. Oh my gosh! I was so happy to be there.  We started going to the alley and looking at different style of dresses and summer outfits. women-shopping-santee-alley (4)I bought myself a pair of simple 3 inch heels shoes that was comfortable to wear. I also found a dress with a nice textile, stylish and quite elegant. I bought another cotton acid wash daytime dress. I bought another darker acid wash long sleeve shirt paired with a long skirt. It was a great feeling to be able to shop for goods that is rare to find. And for sure I wont be able to find those in Colorado. In a store called my secret lingerie. I snuck away to buy a pair of sexy lingerie hoping to surprise my husband. Wow. It was very sexy red, lace criss-crossing the body to reveal just enough to drive a man crazy.  The lingerie has a decent quality and not poorly made, a great deal for the price you pay.  women-shopping-santee-alley

I am so delighted that my husband took me there. Santee alley made my LA trip fulfilling.

 women-shopping-santee-alley (3)

Summary of shopping:

 3 inch high heel shoe Buy one, 30% off 2nd pair:     $ 30.00

black elegant dress       :      $ 25.00

Acid wash dress       :      $ 25.00

Long sleeve acid  wash shirt                               :      $ 15.00

Acid wash long skirt                                             :      $ 25.00

Lingerie                                                                :      $ 25.00

Sexy stockings                                                     :      $ 15.00

 

Tips:

1. Wear flat shoes.

2. Shoe early at 9am before it gets too hot and crowded.

3. The nasty bathroom are blocks away so it is better to use the toilet before going there. They also make you pay for .50 cents and it is gross looking toilet.

4. You can bargain if you think the price is quite high.

5. Do not make up your mind in buying the first nice clothing you see. There might be better option along the way.

 

Manitou springs bed and breakfast

Manitou Springs is among the top attraction in Colorado.  It is a very beautiful place to see.  It is filled with authentic shops, ice cream shops, restaurants and bed and breakfast hotels.

You will often see runners going up Barr Trail or hiking up the Incline early in the morning.  Next to the trail you can see the Cog Rail, a trail that goes up Pikes Peak.

There are several options for Manitou bed and breakfast in the area for you to stay during your trip.

  1. Avenue Hotel Bed and Breakfast has a good rating in google reviews with an average room price of $130.00.  The advantage of this bed and breakfast place is that it is very accessible and walking distance to all the unique shops and attractions of Manitou Springs.  http://www.avenuehotelbandb.com/manitou-springs-bed-and-breakfast
  2. Red Crags bed and breakfast is a place full of antique stuff on it. The rooms look elegant but sadly do not have very good reviews from people that have stayed there.  It is situated .3 miles away from the Garden of the Gods.  Room prices ranges from $100.00- $200.00. http://www.redcrags.com/manitou-springs-bed-and-breakfast
  3. Bed and Breakfast at Historic Onaledge. Would you mind staying with ghosts? Well, hopefully they won’t appear during your stay.  That is scary.  Or maybe the ghosts are gone or perhaps they just made it up as a promotion to sell this b&b place.  Onaledge is old but clean with good customer service.  It is one of the top locations in Manitou Springs with a good tripadvisor review.  It should be worth it.  The rooms look very old fashioned.  The room rate starts at  $125.00.  Their website is http://www.onaledge.net/ manitou-spings-bed-and-breakfast
  4. Agate Hill is another bed and breakfast Inn and cottages in Colorado Springs Area. The rates are not available on their website but you can call them directly on their number 719-685-0685.  You can contact them on their website at http://www.agatehill.com/ .manitou-springs-bed-and-breakfast
  5. Rockledge Country Inn has the most beautiful rooms among the other Manitou Springs rooms.  Among all the places I have seen, Rockledge has the best location.  It gives the most spectacular view of the mountains that really highlights the beautiful rock formation of Colorado. The rooms look spacious and pretty with excellent tripadvisor reviews.  Room rates ranges from $125.00 – $250.00         http://www.rockledgeinn.com/guest-room-1.htmlmanitou-springs-bed-and-breakfast
  6. Blue Skies Inn has a google review of 4.4 out of 5.  It is a pretty good review for an Inn.  Their website needs more development.  Although the Blue Skies Inn is not modern they have excellent services that  accommodate tourists and business travelers.  Room prices range from $ 145.00 – $ 240.00.  http://www.blueskiesinn.com/manitou-springs-bed-and-breakfast
    There are plenty of bed and breakfast that you can find in Manitou Springs. You may even get a cheaper price in other places that are not listed here check out the online reviews to get an idea of what they have to offer.
    Other Places in Manitou:

Comfort Inn

The Cliff house at Pikes peak

Rodeway INN

Americas Best Value Inn Villa Hotel

Magnuson Hotel Manitou Springs

Silver Saddle Motel

Pikes Peak Inn

Eagle Motel

Days Inn Manitou Springs

Dillon Motel

 

 

 

hiking colorado springs

Hiking in Colorado Springs is one of the most popular past times among locals.  Here are some pointers, tips and advice for first time travelers wanting to hike “the Springs”.

Basic Rules of the Trail 

The  common rule when hiking is to stay on the trail.  This is not only for your own safety.   It is also to avoid disturbing the natural habitat of the trail.  Pets are popular companions but you need to keep them on a leash.  Some owners with very well behaved people friendly dogs tend to let their dog loose.  It is common courtesy to pick up after your dog if they poop on the trail.  Another in said rule of the trail is to move out of the way for runners and bikers.

Activities and Local of the Springs 

There are lots of activities in Colorado Springs that the locals and tourists can do.  I have noticed that people here are health conscious.  This is due to the high number of military people in the Springs.  There are 5 bases in Colorado mostly Army and Air Force and they have to stay fit.  Many people that live here are working for the military.

A Few Hiking Trails in Colorado Springs

List of Colorado Springs hiking trails/colorado parks that also allow pets to walk around.

hiking-colorado-springs

Garden of the Gods is one of the most beautiful attraction in Colorado Springs. It is also a local destination for hiking with families and pets.  It is a hot spot for bikers and climbers. Garden of the gods is a habitat to many animal and has a total land area of 1,319.1 acres.

hiking-colorado-springs

Red Rock Canyon Open Space is located at 3550 W High St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904. It has tons of trails that hikers can go to. Pets also have their own trail for them to run around without being on leash. I think that part is cool because they can roam around in their own trail.

hiking-colorado-springs (2)

Barr Trail is an amazing hiking trail. It is goes up an Pikes Peak mountain which you can run or hike for miles. It is also connected to the Incline.  Barr trail is the same trail that people use in going down after the Incline climb.

hiking-colorado-springs

Manitou Springs Incline – is a tough work out going up for 1 mile. It is a rough exercise for the body.  Those who are not so fit may need to prepare for this one.  Your joints will probably hurt a lot if you are not use to a hard exercise. A perfect time to hike there would be 5:00 – 6:00 in the morning when the sun is still rising.

Rock Island Trail – coming soon

Bear Creek Canon Park – coming soon

 

cruise travel tips: Intro

In about 2 months we are going on a cruise.  The first thing we did was to research what the best cruise would be for us.  Here are our first set of cruise travel tips.

How we searched for the best cruise?

We are a big fan of review sites.  If you want people’s real raw opinion beyond any flashy marketing jargon, then you have to listen to people who have been there.  For cruises, the best place to look at cruise reviews is http://www.cruisecritic.com/reviews/?src=nav

cruise-travel-tips

You can look up critiques on specific cruise lines and even ships in a cruiseline.  Most people have nothing to gain and nothing to lose by giving their honest, unfiltered opinion of their experience.  These are REAL TIME reviews.  Not review from a year ago, but from days or hours ago.  Read the bad and good reviews objectively.  Some of the reviewers are “cry babies” that complain about petty nonsense but some are legit complaints that happen to more than one passenger on the same line.  Things like food poisoning or super high prices should not be ignored when scores of passengers on the same line and same ship are complaining about consistently.

When should you get your tickets?

Choose early because the good deals go fast.  Also prices tend to go up as it get closer and closer to big vacation days.  For example, the closer you get to summer the faster the slots fill up.  The space on the ship is limited so don’t wait.

What are the Travel requirements?

We noticed that the requirement actually vary based on where the cruiseline goes and what your citizenship status is.  For example, a “closed loop” travel is when the ship will return to the same port it originally traveled from.  A closed loop can be traveled by a nonimmigrant of the United States who has proper documentation (a passport and applicable documents).  But if the cruise will end in another port, their maybe issues for nonimmigrants in the US.  The situation really depends on where the travel will end and the status of the citizen, immigrant or nonimmigrant.  The only way to be sure is to contact the cruiseline.

It seems like a good idea to have a passport just in case you miss the ship and get stuck in another country.

Travel Insurance

While booking tickets travel insurance is your best bet to be safe. Just in case emergencies happens where you have to cancel your trip or you change your mind and decided to travel somewhere else instead of a cruise, the only way for you to get your money back is to be insured.  In the cruise policies (Carnival cruise), I noticed that there is “No refund”.  Once you have book your trip you cannot get your money back if your trip is within 2 months.  You will have to pay a $200.00 cancellation fee.

 

 

What is the Grand Canyon?

What is the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon is in Arizona, United States of America.  It is managed by Grand Canyon National Park, the Navajo Nation, and two other tribal nations.  It is 446 kilometer (277 miles) long and about 29 kilometers (18 miles) wide.

We are planning to go to the Grand Canyon in summer 2015.  I think it will be pretty cool.  We will probably drive there from our home in Colorado.  According to Google Maps, the Grand Canyon is a 9 hour drive on US-160W.

We are looking at a budget of about $400 for the whole trip:

Gas: $125 (depending on prices at that time)

Parking: $25

Entrance fee:  $12/person

Hotel: $200

Entrance Fee Free Days this year:

  • January 19 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)
  • February 14-16 (Presidents Day Weekend)
  • April 18-19 (Opening weekend of National Park Week)
  • August 25 (National Park Service Birthday)
  • September 26 (National Public Lands Day)
  • November 11 (Veterans Day)

We will probably stay at the Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon Grand Canyon Village in Arizona for one night and drive back home early the next day.  We will probably check out the Canyon Star Restaurant.  We are not the kind of travelers that go to another place just to eat at McDonalds.

 

Red Rock Canyon Colorado

Red Rock Canyon (in Colorado.. not to be confused with the one in Nevada) is one of the more leisurely hikes we frequent. Unlike Barr Trail, Red Rock has less of an incline.  It is a series of criss-crossing trails through a canyon of red rock.  It is an area of 789 acres in Colorado Springs, Colorado next to a city called Manitou Springs.

On the way through the trails you can sometimes see wild life (mostly deer and rabbits minding their own business).  This trail is great for the family.

red-rock-canyon (4)

 

Red Rock Canyon Location: 3550 W High St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904

The Red Rock Canyon Open Space is located along Highway 24.

From I-25 take the Cimarron Street exit west. Cimarron Street will turn into Highway 24. After the 31st Street light, turn left onto Ridge Road. Red Rock Canyon will be on the south side of the street. The parking lot is located at the end of Ridge Road – Red Rock Canyon

red-rock-canyon-trail-map

Contact Number: (719) 385-2489

Owned by: City of Colorado Springs

Parking lot closed: 9:00 pm – 5:00 am Red rock National Park Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Red Rock Canyon Rules and Regulations

  1.  Stay on designated trails. Remember trail etiquettes for safety and protection of sensitive natural resources.red-rock-canyon (9)
  2. Dogs must be on leash at all times.
  3. Clean up after your pet.red-rock-canyon
  4. Park in designated areas only.red-rock-canyon (2)
  5. No motorized vehicles.
  6. No dumping, littering, alcoholic beverages, tree cutting, fires and no camping.

Warning: Serious and fatal rock climbing incidence have occured in other city parks with large rock formation like those found in Red Rock Canyon. Technical climbers are required to register at Garden of the Gods Visitor Center. Technical climbing is permitted in group of two or more with proper climbing equipment.

You can also volunteer in helping with community activities on parks preservation.

http://www.openspacevolunteers.org

Vegetations found in Red Rock Canyon :

  • Typical Mountain shrub community of the front range foothillshiking-colorado
  • Mountain shrubs more dense than typical
  • Mountain shrubs more sparse than typical
  • Mixed grass open meadows
  • Pinyon-Juniper Forest on rocky outcrops
  • Cool conifers found on the sides of the deep canyons
  • Mixed Conifers where the canyons open up a little
  • Niobrara formation
  • Ponderosa-oak forest
  • Disturbed ground in areas of high anthopogenic disturbance
  • Disturbed mix where native species persist but with high disturbance

Types of animals seen while hiking :

1. Deers

2. Rabbit

3. Birds

4. Geese

red-rock-canyon (5)

hiking photos: Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is one of the best hiking trails in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  It makes  for the perfect outdoor activity for the whole family.  Compared to Barr trail, Red Rock Canyon is not a very exhausting hike.  Red Rock is such a gradual incline that it feels like a leisure walk in many areas of the trails.  As we go on the trail, we noticed that Red Rock is composed of MANY trails leading through the valleys, crests and passes of the small canyon.

We have found that the perfect time to go hiking there is 8:00 o’clock in the morning when the sun is still rising.  If you start at 8 am, you can finish about 9:00 am as more people start to show up.

Here are the hiking photos taken from our trips from March 2015.

hiking photos

a stump in Red Rock Canyon

hiking photos - first steps into Red Rock Canyon (Colorado)

entry into Red Rock Canyon (Colorado)

hiking photos - path of Red Rock Canyon (Colorado)

path of Red Rock Canyon (Colorado)

hiking photos - Red Rock Canyon Trail System Sign

Red Rock Canyon Trail System Sign

hiking photos - Red Rock Trail

Trail

hiking photos - Red Rock Canyon Food Chain Sign

Red Rock Canyon Food Chain Sign

hiking photos - Red Rock Trail

hiking photos - Red Rock Trail 8:30 am

Red Rock Canyon Trail in the morning

hiking photos - small hill on Red Rock Trail

small hill on Red Rock Trail

 

best places to visit in colorado

If you like clean mountain air, hiking, and seeing the wonders of nature, then look no further than Colorado. Colorado has so many spectacular attractions that will amaze you. Its is a beautiful state in the edge of the Rocky Mountains close to the sky. It’s one of best places in the United States and one of the most popular destination in the world for things like rock climbing, and skiing.  There is more to see than just mountains!  

What are the best places to visit in Colorado you ask?  

rockymtnrefl.com

rockymtnrefl.com

1. Garden of the Gods is one of the most wonderful scenic views that I have seen in my life. With amazing huge boulder formations playfully placed by nature it is easy to see how it got its name.  Garden of the Gods is free with lots of parking areas that are sometimes not enough for the hundreds of families visiting each weekend. This is also a perfect place to go rock climbing.

 

 

royal gorge

royal gorge

 

2. Royal Gorge is in little known Colorado town called Cañon City.  Royal Gorge National Park features an amazing suspension bridge that is almost 1000 feet above the Arkansas river.  Adjacent to the Arkansas River is the Royal Gorge Route Railroad.  This is an amazing place to take the family.

    

3. the-inclineThe Incline in Manitou Springs is a local attraction that would definitely have more tourists if they knew about it.  It is a hiking trail with an incline with a steady steep grade of 60 – 68% going 1 mile straight up.  It is a heck of a workout and definitely not for the unfit.

4. Pikes Peak has a train that will take you up the mountain.  It is called the Cog Railway.  It is so high up that you will actually feel dizzy from lack of oxygen.

 

 

red rock canyon

red rock canyon

5. Red Rock Canyon is less of a challenge than the Incline or Barr Trail, however if you are not careful you can become lost in its many paths and trails.  There is a lot of area there and it is very scenic.  You can see a lot of Colorado Springs from the top of the the trail and see lots of grazing deer on the way.

 

 

old colorado springs

old colorado springs

6. Old Colorado Springs is a very cool place to visit especially if you like local art collections and authentic Mom and Pops Shops.  There are a lot of historical buildings. You can also try the wonderful restaurants there.  We went to one called Uchenna Restaurants that served authentic Ehtiopean food!  Uchenna is rated one of the best in town and you could taste why.

 

manitou cool places colorado

manitou cool places colorado

7. Manitou Springs is a place best for kids in Colorado I would say.  It has many shops selling ice creams, home made chocolates, taffies and variety of flavored pop corns. Manitou springs also have many restaurants and old Arcade games. There are special events on Valentines Day, St Patricks day, Christmas, Halloween and other US holidays.

 

 

What we did not mention in this post were the many top skiing destination in Colorado.  You can check those out here  http://news.travel.aol.com/2010/11/18/10-best-colorado-ski-resorts/

 

Hikes in colorado Barr Trail

One of our favorite things to do when we travel is to hike and explore so Colorado is a gold mine for this!!  Barr Trail is one of the best trails in Colorado Springs/Manitou Springs.  If you are looking for a challenging walk (or run) up a mountain pass then Barr Trail is for you.

Once you get about one mile into the trail you can see a large part of Manitou Springs below.  If you arrive early enough you can see a beautiful sunset shining into Pikes Forrest.  You get crisp and clean mountain air.  The sight is a glimpse into what birds must experience far away and above it all.  It is safe enough to take adolescent kids but probably too much for anyone younger than about 8 years old.

Bar Trail

Bar Trail

Although the total length of Barr Trail is 21 km (13 Miles), most people only do the first few miles that is parallel with the Incline, another popular trail in the Manitou Springs area.  The trail goes through Pikes National forest, pass Barr Camp and ends at the top of Pikes Peak.  The total trail goes up 7800 feet.

Barr is used for the Pikes Peak Marathon which goes as far as Barr Camp and back.  Barr trail is great to just walk for exercise.  Its fun to run down but you have to be careful since the path gets pretty steep and uneven.  Depending on when you go it can be hard to find parking.  It costs $5 for the privilege of parking next to the mouth of the trail.  You do have the option of parking for free about a half a mile or more away in Manitou.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Expense Comparison: Philippines and US

As soon as I arrived in the US, the first thing that popped in my head was the living expenses.  I was aware that the convenience of my new life in the United States would not come cheap.  I knew that the prices would be way higher than the Philippines.  Here are a few comparisons between Philippines and the US.

1. Food. Surprisingly, whenever we eat fast food it is pretty cheap.  For example a burger is about the same price in PH.  Back in Ph, a $3 burger is actually more expensive than eating a healthier meal.  In the US, eating healthier is more expensive.  In the Philippines, we choose to eat the healthy meals rather than junk food filled with lots of carbohydrates.  The grocery store prices are MUCH better than the Philippines when you consider the amount Americans make. In the US, you can get cheap food in Walmart or pay a dollar more to shop at Safeway and King Soopers for better quality of produce.

living-expense-comparison

  • Spices – $3.00 – $5.00.I seen few for $0.88 (Walmart) for very average quality
  • Pork (lean) – $ 3.00 – $ 4.00 per pound
  • Chicken drumstick – $ 2.00 per pound
  • Sausage – $ 5.00
  • A dozen eggs (large)- $ 1.50 – $ 2.00 (Same price as PH)
  • Beef – $ 4.00 per pound

2. Kitchen Utensils.  Utensils in the US are way more expensive however there is great variety.  Bed Bath and Beyond has good quality stuff for much higher costs.  If you want to get high quality pretty utensils you should go there.  However, if you are not particular or just want something decent, Walmart has cheap goods. There are also cheap laddles in Dollar store but cant recommend buying from there. They do not last long.

living-expense-comparison

  • Ladle (good quality) for $3.00 – $5.00  walmart
  • Non stick pots or pans – $14.00 -$25.00 walmart

In the Philippines, you don’t have this kind of variety but you can get that same quality for half that price. The higher quality products you would find in ”Bed Bath and Beyond” does not have a match of price in PH. The Philippines prices for pots ($10- $30) which I thought were expensive are nothing compared to what we have to pay in the US.

3. Apartment. Cost of living in States for an apartment depend on the population, market value and economy of the area.  Here in Colorado, you can get a decent apartment for $800.00. I seen very simple not nice apartment online for $600.  An Apartment for these prices in the Philippines is a luxury estate.  You can live in a decent hotel for 800/month in the Philippines.living-expense-comparison-2

4. Clothes.  Wow, the clothing prices in the US shocked me. I thought the branded clothing in PH were expensive but they are not.  In the Philippines you can get a good quality women’s shirt for $15.00, but in the US that might get you a t-shirt. In the Philippines a top brand such as “Jag jeans” you can get for $25, but here you might be able to get average jeans for that amount:living-expense-comparison

  • Burlington Coats- $50.00- $200.00
  • T-shirt for men – $ 10.00- $ 30.00 (Walmart)
  • Polo shirts – $60.00 and above (Kohls)
  • Shirts for women – $ 7.00 – 40.00 (ROSS)

5. Furniture.  As mentioned above, the quality of furniture you can get for a good price is amazing in America.  I would recommend American Furniture Warehouse if you have one in your area.  Walmart has terrible to low quality furniture so I cannot recommend buying it from there if you intend to keep it for a while.  Places like American Furniture Warehouse also have flat rate delivery of $69.00 for no limitation of furniture you will buy.

afwonline.com $500.00

afwonline.com $500.00

  • Leather sofa recliner – $549.00 – American Furniture Warehouse
  • Dining Table – $ 600.00 but its so worth it. Durable and pretty.
  • Tv Rack – $150.00 – American Furniture Warehouse

While you can find this level of quality in the Philippines, it is so expensive that only the rich can afford it.

6. Appliances.  Appliances in the Philippines are average quality and there is only 1 year warranty on most of them.  In the US, you have places like Walmart and Target that offer huge selections on top appliances. Target has good appliances for sale. However, Walmart has better variety. Both offer 3 year plan warranty to get your appliance and electronics covered and will actually replace the appliance on the spot if you have the receipt and bring it back within 30 days.living-expense-comparison

7.  Gas . Average price cost of gas now in the US is $ 2.00 per gallon. Ph average price would be $1 per liter.  living-expense-comparison

1 gallon = 3.78 liters.

Therefore gas in PH is way more expensive which makes the prices of other products costly.

8. Utilities.  Basic utilities are higher in the Philippines.  It is unbelievable that a developing country where the average income is 8USD/day (2015) that basic living standards are higher than the richest country.

The cost of living in the US has come as a shock.  The level of variety and convenience is amazing.  Coming from a developing country the differences are like night and day. If you are on a budget traveling from Europe, your best bet is to stick with South East Asia.  But if you can make it to the US, it is definitely worth the trip especially if you are staying for a few months.

 

 

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