The US Trip: Disneyland!!!

This is the ninth post of ” The Us Trip” series. To read other posts in this series, click here

How do I even begin to write about my trip to Disneyland?
Though it was not my first ever trip, but the last time I visited was back in 1998 which is.. ages ago. So this trip definitely felt like the first time again, because so many has changed.

Downtown disney
On my way!!

Disneyland is California has two theme parks under one big resort – Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. Each has its own charm ( I think the latter have more thrilling rides though), and I was lucky to be able to visit both during my (only) one day visit.

We arrived early in the morning and chose to go on a weekday to avoid long queue. We visited Disney California Adventure Park first because I remember I did not meet the height requirement for a lot of rides during my last visit! (mind you I was only 11 years old :P)

So we went and our first ride was The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Woohow! I loved it. It’s also one of the moments that made me realise that my boyfriend really loves me because he’s afraid of heights but he still wanted to go because of me! Hahaha 😀

Then we went to Radiator Spring Racers – inspired by CARS movie – make sure to  prepare for long queue for this one, but let me tell you that it’s really worth it! So fun! I also loved California Screamin’, and really wanted to go to Mickey’s Fun Wheel right next to it (pictured below) but decided not to because, you know.. my boyfriend is afraid of heights and looking at him volunteering to go to tower of terror with me is enough 🙂

We finished all those rides around lunch time, decided to have a bit of snacking (I had lots of churros in between – I LOVE Disneyland’s churro!) and went to some easy rides – Soarin’ Over California and The Little Mermaid~ Ariel Undersea Adventure before we left for Disneyland Park.

Disney California Adventure
Disney California Adventure

Then it’s time to visit Disneyland Park! Our first attraction was Haunted Mansion. Since it was near Halloween time, the mansion was decorated with Nightmare Before Christmas theme. It was fun, but not scary at all for me. We also went to Space Mountain, a classic one.

Disneyland
Welcome to Disneyland 🙂
Disneyland California
A sunny day in Disneyland

In Disneyland Park we spent most of our time browsing the park, wandering around different areas of the park. We took a round trip with Disneyland Railroad at Mickey’s Toontown, and basically just hang around and ate lost of snacks while waiting for the famous Disney Parade.

There’s actually a funny story when we wanted to grab Corn Dogs in one of the food carts. My boyfriend asked me, “which one do you want? with chips or bag of apples?” I instantly thought it will be nice to have corn dog and chips, because chips in my mind (which is more accustomed to British English) means fried potato and answered “chips!” excitedly. He, on the other hand, looks confused because in his (American) mind (and of course, in America – where we were) chips means.. potato chips (the snack). He thought I would prefer apples since we just had some snacks before. When the meal came, It was my turn to be confused. Then after a split second I realised that chips here means crisps in England! Hahahaha. I honestly thought it’s weird to eat corn dogs with potato crisps but anyway.. the order has been made and I had to finish it. Just a side note, here’s a list of British English/American English vocabulary which might be useful for you.. you know, just in case 😀

Okay, back to my Disneyland story. After Disney Parade, we rushed to Disney California Adventure again to watch World of Color! It was really magical and definitely worth staying until late since it started at around 9.30-10PM. My tip, do come to the area a bit early to reserve good spot. Since we just came back from Disneyland Park, we did not get a good spot and it was quite hard for me to see it.. but still, really magical.

So that concludes our trip to Disneyland resort in California. I would definitely visit again, and again, and again because it is simply, the happiest place on earth!

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The US Trip: Food Fiesta!

This is the eighth post of ” The Us Trip” series. To read other posts in this series, click here.

In this post, I will simply list down the best restaurants and food joints I visited during my trip to the West Coast! Enjoy 🙂

KogiKing BBQ

I visited KogiKing right after I landed in LA. In fact, it was my first meal after more than 10 hours flight. I’m already a big fan of meat and Korean BBQ, plus I was so hungry and tired from the long journey, so I was so excited when I found out that this restaurant offers all you can eat buffet! I actually forget how much did it cost per person, but I’m sure it’s below $20. I think it’s somewhere between $15-18, which I think is a very good deal considering it would normally cost me around $15 when I eat Korean BBQ in Jakarta (not all you can eat). If you’re into meat, this is a must visit as they serve high-quality meat. If you still have some room in your tummy for side dish, do try their kimchi “lunch box” which I supposed resembles old school Korean lunch box (not Korean so I’m not sure.. hahaha). Although not my very favorite dish, the lunch box is indeed a unique dish because it’s not common in Jakarta’s Korean restaurants that I’ve been.

kogiking LA
Kogi King!

Fred 62

Still in downtown LA, Fred 62 is a typical American Diner that you’d normally see in the movies. It opens 24 hours every day… in other words, they never close! I visited Fred 62 twice during my stay in LA. The first was for breakfast where me and my friends ordered two of their breakfast menu to be shared (For me, their portion is quite big so it’s safe to share). It was delicioussss!

Big breakfast!
Big breakfast!

Then I came back again a couple days after for a late night snack after going to Local Natives’ concert. This time I had their famous bossa nova waffle. Now I’m talking about serious waffle business here. Their waffle was sooo good, fluffy and crispy at the same time.

Fred 62 waffle
Bossa Nova Waffle

Oh, one other thing! Not only they have excellent food.. Fred 62 is also the location set for Hollywood movie and TV series. You might find it familiar if you have seen the 2009 movie Spread and have been following Dexter the TV series (season 6).

In – N – Out Burger

If the East Coast has the famous Shake Shack burger.. California has In – N – Out! Many foodie articles have mentioned that this joint is one of the must visits when you’re in California. I had Animal Style burger PLUS a vanilla Milkshake. Classic American style burger, a total yummmm! 🙂

In N Out!
In N Out!

Umami Burger

Another burger joint, this one serves more fancy and unique menu. One of the must try is their truffle burger – with truffle cheese and truffle glaze. However, since I visited their Santa Monica branch, I tried the branch’s specialty instead – Oxtail Burger. It’s basically a beef burger with shredded oxtail and truffle cheese topping, which was soooo gooood. If I told you that In – N – Out is a total yum, this one too! They can’t actually be compared, both has different taste. But let me put it this way, try In – N – Out for a classic American burger, but don’t forget Umami for a feast of toppings.

Umami Burger
Umami Burger

Pampas Grill

Now this is another meat joint. Located inside LA’s farmers market, they serve Brazillian BBQ  by the pound. I can’t say much about this place except they offer one of the best meats I’ve tasted. Sooo juicy, with affordable price 😀

Pampas Grill
Meat Frenzy at Pampas Grill – Farmers Market

NBC Seafood Restaurant

Though it is originally a chinese – seafood restaurant, I visited only for their dimsum. Dimsum is only served there from 8AM – 3PM. Since they are quite famous in LA’s chinese food scene, be prepared to queue when you’re going there. The queue will be worth it though, they serve an extensive selection of yummy dimsum..

Dimsum
Dimsum Galore at NBC

Now, the next restaurants will not have any pictures simply because I forgot to take some. Hahaha. But keep reading, There are more yummy restaurants still to be reviewed 🙂

Gyutan Tsukasa 

Located inside Mitsuwa Marketplace in Costa Mesa – Orange County, they serve the BEST beef tongue plate that I’ve ever tasted. It is juicy, tender, and very flavorful. Beef tongue is getting more and more popular in Jakarta’s Japanese food scene and I can tell you that no one tops Gyutan Tsukasa so far.

Phil’s BBQ

This restaurant is originally located in San Diego. I did not get the chance to visit San Diego though, but I managed to visit their San Marcos branch. Serving American classic BBQ, their ribs is to die for!!! It is voted top 10 restaurants in San Diego, so be prepared to queue. Don’t worry, the queue will be worth it!

The Kickin’ Crab

Serving Cajun style seafood.. this is truly the place to have seafood fiesta. Their specialty is the seasonings, and I had the Kickin Style – Extra Mild (Hahaha.. I can’t eat spicy food). Basically you pick your seafood of choice, pick one of the available seasonings and your spice level. They have Lemon Pepper, Cajun, Louisiana, Garlic Butter, and last but not least.. Kickin Style, which is a mix of  all the mentioned seasonings. You can also choose some extras, and I would recommend you to choose corn on the cob and garlic noodles for a different experience of eating seafood.

Native Foods

If you have been reading this post and my blog.. you’d know that I’m no Vegetarian nor Vegan. However, my boyfriend successfully persuaded me to visit this restaurant – a Vegan restaurant. At first I felt hesitant, because I’ve never tasted Vegan food before, nor am I used to the lifestyle. But I finally visited just out of curiosity… and I have to say that the food was delicious! It might not be my favorite food… but it’s nice to visit for a different experience 🙂 P.S – don’t worry if you’re a first timer like me, their staffs are very friendly and would gladly recommend you some options that will suit first timers like us!

So, that’s it! I hope I can give you some ideas to visit if you happen to be around Los Angeles… 🙂

The US Trip: Solvang and Santa Barbara

This is the seventh post of ” The Us Trip” series. To read other posts in this series, click here.

Solvang is a city in Santa Barbara County, California. This relatively small city has very unique architecture, as it resembles a taste of Denmark. Yep, that Denmark! The city even has a copy of the famous Little Mermaid Statue , very similar to the original one in Copenhagen (I’ve never been to Copenhagen, but that’s what they say.. hahaha).

It took us around 4 hours drive from Orange County to Solvang . In between, we stopped by at Camarillo too. Camarillo is a premium outlet store which might be an option if you’re into shopping. Anyway, it was a rather pleasant drive because I got to see this kind of view…

Solvang road trip
On my way to Solvang!

In Solvang, we stayed in Hamlet Inn which is situated in (what I think is) the main road of Solvang, Mission Dr. I love this hotel! Although the building looks rather traditional from the outside, but our room has a very sleek, minimalist Scandinavian style design. Plus, they provide free bike rental which is another thing to do when you’re in Solvang, it’s really nice to bike around town!

Hamlet Inn Solvang
Hamlet Inn
Bikes at Hamlet Inn
Free Bike Rental! yay!

After checking in, spent some time exploring the neighborhood around the hotel. I think where we stayed is the tourist area since there are a lot of small shops and cafes, with very unique European architecture. Trust me I did not feel like I was in the US at all. We even saw a windmill! How cool is that ?

Mortensen's Danish Bakery
Danish Bakery
Solvang-Windmill
Windmill in the US?

As an afternoon snack, we tried a local delicacy which is called Aebleskiver. Well again, it is actually a Danish delicacy but since Solvang is sort of a mirror city.. it’s a must try when you’re in town. It’s like small doughnut balls with strawberry sauce and sugar.. very sweet but tasty! (Remember, I’m a sweet tooth so anything sweet goes :D) I actually forgot which shop I bought it from, but no worries there are a lot of shops which sell this dessert (some say Danish people like to eat it for breakfast too!).. so it’s easy to find in Solvang.

Aebleskiver Solvang
Aebleskiver

The next day, we had breakfast in Paula’s Pancake House just across the road and then left for Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara I think is a more popular destination, but to me it’s another beach-front city so I was more interested to see Solvang. Though we only spent a night in Solvang, it was really enjoyable since the town is indeed very pretty! It’s rather quiet so to me a night is enough to explore..

In Santa Barbara we spent some time walking in their main street, where there are a lot of retail shops and restaurants, this time is rather similar to the ones I saw in Orange County. We bought pizza to go and went to the pier to eat our lunch, but too bad it was cloudy so we did not stay long.. 😦 we only spent around 3 hours before going back to LA. Anyway, Here are some pictures :

Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara beach front
Pier
Santa Barbara Pier

So, if you’re visiting California and have some time to spend, might want to try exploring Solvang and Santa Barbara as an alternative to the bigger and more popular cities 🙂

The US Trip: I Left My Heart in San Francisco!

This is the sixth post of “The US Trip” series. To read other posts in this series, click here.

The trip to San Francisco happened rather unplanned during my US Trip. I wanted to visit but it was not in my main itinerary as I was aware that it’s a 6hour-ish drive from Los Angeles and I had a tight schedule around LA and Orange County.

However, I suddenly got an invitation to visit a relative of mine who found out that I was in California from my mum. At first I wanted to visit on the weekend but because of her schedule, I had to make the trip the next day. I remember it was a Wednesday afternoon after I finished talking with my relative on the phone and confirming my visit – I immediately searched for ways of public transportation from LA to SF… and I was a bit surprised to find Megabus! Back in the UK, I loooooved Megabus. They’re my savior because they have offers as cheap as £1 to travel to London’s neighboring cities. Anyway, thanks to Megabus I found cheap LA to SF tickets. The coach left LA (Union Station) at Thursday midnight and arrive in SF (Caltrain Station – 4th and King St) at around 7 in the morning.

The journey was really convenient for me (except the fact that me and R did not get seats next to each other – the coach was full), I could sleep almost all the way and woke up just when we were about to arrive.

Since we arrived at 7 in the morning and my appointment with my relative was not until 3 in the afternoon, we had some time to kill and decided to wander around town. We did not have specific itinerary, all I thought was to visit some of the obvious tourist spots if possible.

Then I used google maps to find out where we were, and how far we were from Pier 39, Chinatown, or Union Square. We were surprised to found out that Chinatown was only 20 mins walk away and then another 20 mins-ish walk would take us to Pier 39!

So we walked. Our first destination was Chinatown because we wanted to have dim sum breakfast. I actually don’t remember the name of that dim sum restaurant that we went to, but there are a lot of dim sum restaurants in the area – you can always choose one (tip: use Yelp if you want to check out the reviews.. really helpful!). It was an enjoyable walk despite the gloomy weather – compared to sunny LA, weather in SF can be discouraging! but I love SF’s city centre. There’s something about the vibe that the city has, not to mention the architecture was just very easy on the eyes.

After breakfast, we walked again to Pier 39, another 20 mins walk. Because the sun’s up by then, it wasn’t as cold and gloomy as when we first walked to Chinatown – thus made it even more enjoyable!  There are a lot of small shops and stalls in the area, it’s indeed a pretty sightseeing spot (You can see the Golden Gate Bridge from a far!). Plus, I also got to see some seals! Verrrryy cute. Pier 39 is next to Fisherman’s Wharf, where we had a quick lunch at the famous Bistro Boudin. It was, indeed, quite a splurge, but totally worth it.

Pier 39
At Pier 39

From Fisherman’s Wharf, we went back to the city centre because we wanted to see Union Square. But we did not walk back… This time we took the famous Cable Car! Woohooo! It cost us $6 for a single ride ticket and you can easily purchase the ticket in one of the stations (tip: my ticket can be used as 10% off voucher in Ghirardelli chocolate stores – another must visit in town!).

Union Square is almost like the heart of San Francisco to me. I love to see how people was able to sit outdoors and enjoy their time. For shopping lovers, this is the place for you. Macy’s, Uniqlo, and other high street brands are in this area 😀

Union Square
Union Square

Then it’s time to meet my relative. We met her at Ghirardelli Square. It’s another tourist spot – apparently the building is quite historic. But despite the historical facts, they have one of the best chocolates I’ve ever tasted. For sure! There’s a park in the area too.. again, I love city parks as it’s almost a luxury in Jakarta.

We also met R’s friend and then the four of us went for another round of sightseeing – this time R’s friend drove us around. Our first stop was Lombard Street. There’s really nothing there –  it’s just a residential area…. BUT with stellar view. Perfect for pictures!

Lombard Street
View from Lombard Street. In love!

Of course, we HAD to see the Golden Gate Bridge. If you were to take public transportation, this link should help. There were some spots to take pictures with the bridge in the background, and you can do some sightseeing too. We didn’t spend too much time here, simply just click and go!

Golden Gate
Golden Gate Bridge

Last but not least, we went for a quick sightseeing trip to Treasure Island. Though it was too cold to stay for a long time, I was sooo happy to be able to see such breathtaking view of SF’s city lights from a far. Too bad both my iPhone AND camera ran out of battery by then.. So I didn’t get to take any pictures! (boohoo). But feel free to browse some images curated by the lovely google here. After Treasure Island, we went back to our bus station to catch the midnight bus back to LA.

So that’s how we spent 16 hours in San Francisco. I guess we pretty much covered anything… well, most of tourist spots for sure. I fell in love with San Francisco instantly even after such short visit.. and of course, would love to come back again and spend more time.

The US Trip: Sunny Orange County.

This is the fifth post of “The US Trip” series. To read other posts in this series, click here.

Orange County is where I spent most of my days during this US trip. I stayed in Motel 6 Newport Beach – which I would gladly recommend due to its exceptional service, despite being “only” a motel.  I chose to stay in Orange County because of this TV Series! Hahaha not.. It’s because the motel rate is cheaper and I like to stay near the beach.

Anyway, in this post I’ll highlight some of the places I visited in Orange County. I was lucky that even though it’s September when I visited, I still got to enjoy sunshine and spend some time under the sun.

The first destination is Huntington Beach.

Huntington Beach is known for its surfing culture. They say you can surf all year long – that’s why it’s also famous as Surf City USA. Of all the beaches I visited, this is my favorite beach, it has white sands for as far as you can see, and also rows of palm trees.

Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach

Not a surfer? don’t worry, there are a lot of other things that you can do in Huntington Beach. I really enjoyed sun bathing ( didn’t jump to the water because the water was too cold! hahaha ), strolling down the main street where there’s a lot of cafes and small shops, and last but not least.. I really enjoyed kayak!

It was my very first experience and although it was rather hard to do at first, but when I got used to it, I really enjoyed it. You can check out Huntington Harbor Boat Rentals  if you want to try kayaking as well 🙂

Kayak
I kayaked!!

Then there’s Laguna Hills and Laguna Beach

Laguna Hills is famous because of this TV Series – but there’s more to it. I personally love the terrain, you can see the beach and the hills in one sight. It’s also nice to drive around and see the nice houses in the neighborhood, then have a stroll on the high street full of cute small shops (The high street is smaller than the one in Huntington Beach).

Laguna Hills
Laguna Hills

While in the area, I also went for a bit of hike in Top of The World Park. There are a couple of routes that you can choose, depending on how long you want to hike. I chose the easy one – which can be finished in around 45 minutes time. Even from my easy route, I could see amazing city view from the top. I guess that’s why they name it Top of The World 🙂

Top of The World Park
Top of The World Park

Last but not least, don’t forget to also stop by the beach. Compared to Huntington Beach, this one has less palm trees and (I think) is not as big. Still nice to visit though!

Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach

So.. that’s about it for Orange County. I loveee the area simply because it has a selection of wonderful beaches and a very laid back vibe – typical southern Californian style. Do visit when you’re around Los Angeles – it’s only an hour drive away 🙂