Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 149: My Man & His Car

Adonis is at his best when he's driving. He's uncontrollable behind the Challenger's wheel. I love seeing him with the window rolled down, bumpin' his beats, and whipping in and out of traffic (even though every now and again it terrifies me). He's the best driver I've ever met.

I really think that he was a race car driver in his previous life. If he wasn't then I really wished he would have been a race car driver in this life cuz this man is damn good and passionate about it.

The car to him is freedom and relaxation. I'll let him tell you all about it in a future post.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 148: Post Hurricane Irene Shot

Sunday (the last day of the hurricane) was a beautiful cloudy and windy day. I say it was beautiful because after hours and hours of rain it was nice to sit on the porch, sip on our drinks, and watch more "Sons of Anarchy". Thankfully there was little to no hurricane damage for our family and friends.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Day 147: Liquor as a culinary experience

Im at that place in life where I don't drink to get drunk, but if it happens as a bi-product of a nights fun, then I'll take it. I've always been the type to drink what I thought tastes good. As opposed to looking at the proof first, and then selecting a bottle. It all started as a joke. I found a new brand of rum. As we had zero plans for the day, I took the time to read the packaging and saw that it was produced in Guatemala. Perfect I thought as I grabbed it. Didn't even know alcohol was a "cash crop" of the central American country. I brought it home with intentions of taunting Diana and making a brown mojito to carry me through the upcoming nights UFC fights. This was different however. My favorite drink is Bombay sapphire and tonic. The only liquor I drink straight is Johnny Walker Black to Blue, and I stopped drinking rum in college. But like I said, it started as a joke, and turned into an experience. This was different as I pointed out. I started out testing this new rum with a few drops in a shot sized glass. Smelled it, like I was drinking wine and sipped it with a small pool of fluid already in my mouth. It was sweet, smooth,  and warming. It reminded me of a complicated carmel. Something I really had to think about to process. I've already been through the bacardi's, capt. morgan's, and Appleton's etc. But never had I ever experienced a rum like this. I can hear some thinking, seriously, whats the big deal. But I'm trying to conjure my inner foodie when I see, feel, and experience new things. So I bring to you Ron Zacapa Centenario. Aged 23 years, I seriously recommend trying this only on ice, straight up. It smells like rum raisin ice cream. Intoxicating with a slight feeling of guilt, as you would have after consuming a pint of said ice cream by your lonesome. It was delicious. So like I told my man Ron the other day, I'm bringing rum back. I'm bringing drinking back actually. But in the refined, adult, Billy D. Williams sorta way. And, I don't mean colt 45 and a perm. I'm talking Crystal carafe and high ball glassware. 

Bonus Pic:

Obon is an annual Buddhist event for commemorating one's ancestors. It is believed that each year during obon, the ancestors' spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives. At the end of Obon, floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes and seas in order to guide the spirits back into their world. Traditionally, lanterns are hung in front of houses to guide the ancestors' spirits, obon dances (bon odori) are performed, graves are visited and food offerings are made at house altars and temples. During our visit to Okinawa, these Bon Odori dancers were everywhere. As we drove around, we could hear the banging of drums and chant like singing before seeing them performing in the street. It was quite the site.  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 146: Lewis Ave.

From Diana:
I got the chance to visit Adonis' family's home on Lewis Ave in Bed-Stuy. It still surprises me how close his family is from where I grew up on Nostrand & Gates Ave in Bed-Stuy. The hubsteroo grew up like 10 mins from me. It's crazy.

Today was the funeral.  This was particularly difficult for me because this was my first time. I went through my own range of emotions during the service. But, my emotions were overwhelmed because I also felt Adonis' sorrow. It's strange because ever since we received the news I could just feel his sadness. We followed the funeral procession all the way to the cemetery where we gave our last (physical) goodbye. I say physical goodbye because we know her spirit will continue to be present in our lives. 

Too much going on in the brain right now, but I'll share my overall thoughts and lessons learned in a post later this week.

Here are some bonus Brooklyn pics:

Day 145: "Welcome to Brooklyn. Believe the Hype!"

Damn it felt good to be back in Brooklyn. The brownstones, the people, the corner stores, etc. etc.

The pictures above of are my beloved Brooklyn Bridge. Adonis proposed to me at these very columns!
Click here to see our engagement blog post from our photogs, Photo Pink!

We attended Grandma's Ruthie's wake. It was so obvious the impact she had on this world. On this day she was surrounded by so many family and friends <-- who are family. Oh, and yes, I said the impact she made on this world. You may not know it now, but you too can truly leave your mark in the world. I was reminded of that lesson this weekend. Live life the best you can and the best you know how to and you too will make your impact.

Did you know that Brooklyn has "Welcome" and "Good-Bye" signs on it's bridges?? Yup! We sure do, click here to see them.

Adonis was also reunited with "The Beast" (his Challenger). It felt good to ride in the fast, obnoxiously and satisfyingly loud Challenger. I missed it so I KNOW how much he missed it!

Day 144: A small family reunion

From Diana:
As soon as I stepped foot on American soil, I have to admit it felt so good. It was nice to hear the immigration agent at LaGuardia airport say:
"Welcome home to the home of the free and the land of the brave".
Then, we were kinda turned around when we saw the traffic go the opposite (but right) way lol. Then it was amazing to see my mom in her hot new car waiting to pick us up. You see my mom had been at work all day. She lives in Jersey now but drove all the way to NY to pick us up by 11:30pm. I knew she was tired and felt the excitement in her body as she hugged me and Adonis. It was electrifying.

Adonis drove us 2 hours upstate to his dad's house where we were staying. Mom slept over.

It was so nice to see familiar surroundings. To see the city lit up at night. To pay with American dollars (even though it isn't as strong now).

We all fell asleep at almost 3am and woke up early morning. We took mom birthday shopping for some workout clothes and sneakers. And, visited Adonis' barber for a fresh cut (see pic above).

The highlight of my day: Visiting our dog-son Tyson.
I was worried he would either be mad at me for leaving and/or worried he would have forgotten who I was after not seeing him for 7 months. But nope! My baby jumped all over me for a few short minutes. I was so happy he was excited to see us. We played with him for the afternoon and could keep our hands off of him. He is still as silly, sweet, and well-behaved as when we left him. I miss our baby. Our little family felt complete for a couple of short hours.

Day 143: In The Air... Again!

Our bags were barely unpacked from out Thailand/Japan trip, so it made it fairly easy to pack for this quick trip.

We weren't planning on coming back home while we were in Melbourne. Mainly because it would require me to take vacation time and because I think it would be hard for me to go home for a little while and then leave. So, we rather not take the trip home. However, going to see Grandma Ruthie was a mandatory trip... for both of us.

Our flight was booked and when we looked at our itinerary we knew it wasn't going to be any easy trip home. Here is the itinerary more or less:

(1) Melbourne to Sydney
(2) Sydney to Los Angeles
(3) LA to Chicago
(4) Chicago to New York

                                     .... and, we weren't flying Qantas.

|| (Pause):
Qantas is the best airline ever in life! No matter which class you fly, you are guaranteed a tasty meal, a personal television screen where you can enjoy unlimited movies and tv shows, outlets in your seat so you can plug in your laptop or cell phone to charge, and plenty of comfy seat/leg room. Qantas is seriously the undisputed best airline we have ever flown... and we have collectively flown Business Class, Premium Economy, and Economy. It the best in all categories.

|> (Play):
We instead flew United Airlines because they were the most affordable flight we could find. Anyways, the trip was as agonizing as it sounded. We spent a total of 25 hours in the air with terribly uncomfortable seats, barely any in-flight entertainment, and "blah" food. We wasted time on the flights by catching up on Sons of Anarchy (Season 2), The Office, and Boogie Nights. I started to work on the outline of one of my dream community service projects (details on that on another post), and Adonis worked on Garage Band. Even with two laptops and an iPod working on overtime, the flight back home was horrible.

Oh..... AND there was an EARTHQUAKE back home while we were en route! ... AND we read about serious hurricane warnings for the weekend.... WTF?! Not only were we on a long uncomfortable flight to attend Grandma Ruthies funeral, but now we have to quickly call home to find out if our family and friends were OK and begin tracking this hurricane for the trip back to Melbourne.

This was seriously some bullshit and not the way we wanted to come back home. Grandma Ruthie's passing was about enough we could handle but then we had to toughen up for an earthquake and a hurricane. There hadn't been an earthquake in New York in 20+ years and Hurricane Irene was the first serious hurricane warning in New York in two centuries. What are the odds that BOTH of these would hit in the same week. Some bullshit I tell ya!

Day 142: Support System

Grill Steak Seafood Restaurant on Hardware Ln.

We have taken a short break from blogging due to an unexpected trip back home to New York. We arrived from our vacation on Friday morning, and we would be in the sky again on Tuesday.

Adonis' grandmother passed away so we spent most of Monday trying to figure out (1) how we were going to get home (2) how much a last minute flight would cost (3) who would pick us up from the airport once we arrived (4) worrying about whether or not my managers would be understanding and (5) how family back home was dealing.

Fortunately for us, we have a very strong support system that is made up of amazing family members, supportive friends, and very understanding co-workers. Most of our worries were washed away by these people on Monday (and for the duration of our trip home). Friends quickly and without hesitation (from coast to coast) offered their help in anyway possible, family pulled together to ensure we had a ride from the airport and that we had everything we needed for our short stay, and co-workers rushed to ensure I could get back home.

We had been away on vacation for 3 weeks and didn't have any food in the apartment. There was no point in going food shopping because we were leaving the next morning. So, we decided to take a break from the crazy day and go out for dinner to one of our favorite spots since Adonis was craving a steak.

Side Note:
As we mature in our marriage and begin to make more difficult and life-changing decisions we realize the importance of supporting each other. I think that goes without say in a marriage. However, it's so nice to have support from the people around us. You hear a lot of people say "I don't need anyone but myself" or "We don't need anyone but each other." These statements are true. You don't. You don't need anyone to make your life what you want it to be except yourself. But... it makes life so much easier and sweeter when you know that your family and friends have your back and are willing to do what they can to see you succeed.

If you have an amazing support system, please take the moment to give them a call and give them a random "Thank You" to show your appreciation.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 140: Pamper Us Saturday!

What does a couple do after 21 days of traveling?
        We pamper ourselves with a big brunch, manicures, pedicures, naps, coffee on the waterfront, and two bottles of wine on our balcony ... duh!

Day 139: En Route to Melbourne

We were finally back in Melbourne, Australia after a 6 hour layover in Shanghai, China which went by pretty quickly considering it was 12 hours of flying. We watched an entire season of NY Ink to get us by (thank you iTunes)! It was surprisingly comforting to get back to our familiar home away from home. We spent the entire day sleeping and recuperating from a 10 hour flight where a baby managed to cry loudly for 8 hours. Sheesh!

We found ourselves weirdly glad to be back. Don't get us wrong, we are very appreciative of the amazing travel opportunity, we will never forget the things we got to see, and we can't wait for the next time we get to see the Lunas. However, it was nice to get back to the familiar surroundings.

It left us wondering how it will feel to finally be back home.... in the Empire State of New York City where we'll be surrounded by our real home, our long-time family & friends, and our dog-son Tyson (who we miss terribly).

Thank you Samui, Bangkok, and Okinawa for being good to us. Next up? The rest of Australia!!

Day 138: Bye Okinawa!

Okinawa was the best ending to our 3-week long trip. Seeing my LS and her family was priceless. Her girls are growing up fast and are beautiful, smart, funny, and full of love. Seeing my LS and her husband together was like seeing true commitment in the physical form. I loved holding the baby in my arms and turning her cries into pure laughter and I loved sitting with their oldest for 20 minutes watching and cheering her on as she traced the letters of the alphabet. We can not thank them enough for being great hosts and welcoming us into their homes for 10 days. Being with them was the best way to end our trip.

Before we left we HAD to get picture with the planes/jets/ultra-super fast mechanical birds in the sky flown (or once flown) by the U.S. Air Force!!

Adonis' trip to Japan was PERFECT due to the fact that (1) he got to overdose on the crab legs he had been craving for months in Australia and (2) he got to bring back 3 bottles of Frank's Red Hot Sauce which is not sold in Australia lol.

Thank you isn't enough to say to the Luna Family but it'll have to do for now.

Hasta la proxima vez y el proximo pais Familia Luna!

Day 137: Natural Beauty

Our last full day in Okinawa was our most memorable.

We woke up early for breakfast at a cute cafe/deli near the base called "Casa Casa". We needed a good morning meal for all the snorkeling we would do at Cape Meada.

|| (Pause).

The day before we tried to go snorkeling. We heard that Cape Meada was tough terrain and needed sea BOOTS (not water shoes). We also heard that once we went down the stairs that we would basically meet a pretty steep drop. That scared me since I'm new to snorkeling and hadn't snorkeled without a life jacket. It was also a bit iffy to Rachel and Adonis because we didn't have the right shoes, etc. So the day before we went to another beach to try snorkeling. We weren't successful at all. We walked at least 15 minutes from the beach and the water reached no higher than my knees. Those waters were also FULL of sea cucumbers... ugh. After unsuccessful snorkeling and very successful sea-glass collecting, we headed to Cape Meada juuuust to have a quick look.  We were all in awe, quickly fell in love, and unanimously decided to return the next day to snorkel.

|> (Play!)

So, we reach Cape Meada on our last full day in Okinawa and it was absolutely beautiful!!! The day before I was so freaked out about snorkeling because I was afraid of the fish but as soon as we hit this natural beauty all of these fears vanished into thin air. The water was completely clear. Seriously, we could swim at the top and see straight down to the bottom that was at least 20 ft below us. There were so many people out there diving and snorkeling. There were countless fish and many species of fish.

I was worried because I didn't think I was a strong enough swimmer to snorkel without a life vest.  I had a little floating board to keep me up. Honestly, my fear got the best of me. After a while of snorkeling, I let go of my floating thingy and just swam. I proved that this "weak swimmer" thing was all in my head. I swam far and long all on my own. I even tried to swim all the way down to the bottom on my own (w/ the husbantry watching me of course lol).  We are so happy to have snorkeled here. It was the best snorkeling we had ever done.

After 2 hours of snorkeling, we headed to Arashi (aka The Ticket Place) for lunch. It's called the Ticket Place because we select your meal from this vending machine thingy. You give your ticket to the counter and ta-da, your food appears! The food was a-mazingly delicious.

We ended the night with some last minute souvenir shopping and dinner with our new couple friends... at the Garlic House --- again lol.

Day 136: Garlic and Mo' Garlic

Arin Krin (aka The Garlic House) was one of our favorite restaurants.  All of the menu items were covered in garlic. We enjoyed our ridiculous amounts of food even through our breath was funky after the meal, it was OK because we ALL smelled like garlic and loved it. 

We met up with a friend from college, who is also in the military and stationed in Okinawa. We had the opportunity to catch up on our goings-ons from the time we graduated to now. We also got to meet her husband and her new adorable baby girl!! It was such a nice dinner. I'm glad I got to see another familiar face from my Penn State days.  Who'da thunk that the next time we met up would be in Okinawa,  Japan?!

Day 135: Forest Adventure

Today was an adults-only day.  We spent the day testing our strength, endurance, and courage.  We headed over to Forest Adventure Park. We started with a short safety briefing and then were sent out to zip line and complete a forest adventure obstacle course. The hardest and scariest part of the course was where we had to free-fall and swing into a net wall like we were Tarzans & Janes. I say this was the hardest part because EVERYONE hesitated and yelled on the way down. We had to literally jump off of a high platform and hold on to a rope for dear life until we hit the net. After 2.5 hours of zip lining, walking across a single ropes, and climbing rope ladders we ready for LUNCH!

We stopped at a restaurant where they sell their meals by the "set". The entire menu was in Japanese (duh) so we couldn't understand what we were ordering. Thankfully each menu item had pictures and we selected what we thought might look good. To everyone's surprise, we all enjoyed our tasty Japanese meal!!

After lunch we head to Cape Zampa and enjoyed the amazing view from the lighthouse and from the cliffs below. Climbing the stairs of the lighthouse was hard after the serious physical challenge we just conquered at Forest Adventure and the heavy lunch we just devoured. It was a quick walk up and we were even met by two very young boys who were on their way down. As they climbed down the stairs passed us, they pretended to shoot us... we died when they shot... but quickly regained life and shot them back hahahaha.

The views from above were just as spectacular as the views from below. Needless to say that were pooped after this day.

Day 134: Big Fish!

After a long night of partying we some how managed to wake up and make it to the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium on time. The most impressive feature of this aquarium was the huge tank that held whale sharks and sting rays. It was phenomenal. The aquarium was packed due to an Okinawan holiday, but it didn't bother us. It was fun looking at different fish and watching the girls pressed up against the tanks looking and pointing at the funny-looking sea creatures. At the end of the day, we got to see the dolphin show and left during the sunset. It was a perfect family day.

Day 133: Going Aways

For those of you who do not know my LS is a retired United States Marine and her husband is an active duty Marine. It was interesting seeing the families abroad supporting their military spouse and the men and women walking around in their uniforms buying groceries and picking up their kids from school.  It made me proud to be an American and appreciate the fact that there are people who travel far away from home (and stay at home) to protect our country. It was comforting seeing and hearing our soldiers as well as seeing American food brands (as silly as that sounds).

Okinawa is a temporary home for many military families. On Friday we attended two going-away parties and met some really cool people at both. The people were warm, welcoming and fun-loving.  One going away was a quiet dinner full of good food and good conversation. The other was a two-part event. We started off with an afternoon beach BBQ and continued part 2 at an all-white party. We had equal fun at both and glad we were welcomed to celebrate the return of two soldiers home.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 132: Shuri Castle

From Adonis:
We went for our weekly dose of culture, visiting Shuri Castle today.  In 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa, it was nearly destroyed. It was reconstructed in 1992, over the original site. We learned that in it's history it had been destroyed and rebuilt 4 times. In its latest build, they raised it 700+cm above the original foundation. In the main building pictured above, there is a plexiglass window on the floor, for you to look down at that parts of the original foundation and stone work. Before the war, it was designated a National Treasure. Surprisingly during the war, the Japanese military set up its headquarters underground at the castle. The USS Mississippi is said to have "shelled" it for three consecutive days beginning on May 25, 1945. Messed up on both sides if you asked me. If you care about your culture and treasure your national monuments, you don't setup your headquarters in those areas expecting to receive sympathy. However, as a human, I'm still slightly taken back that another people lost parts of their culture in order to preserve my own.  But, and thats a big but, I'm  all about self preservation, so we'll leave it at that. 

After the castle, we headed over to Kokusai street in Naha. This is a main strip with souvenir shops, restaurants, and markets filled with plenty to keep your mind and wallets preoccupied. We stopped off at a traditional Japanese restaurant for lunch. Sat down to a menu completely written in Japanese. We pointed to order several tasty treats and used what little Japanese we knew (yes, thank you, & very much) to make sure the deliciousness would arrive as we pictured it. I had pig's knuckle today, and it was delicious. Actually, it reminded me of brooklyn. Pig's feet and collard greens, HOLLA!! (all that was missing is the hot sauce) hahaha....

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 131: Food & Family

Today was an easy going day. Rachel showed us a few of the local shopping areas and we scoped out some souvenir shops. We wanted to buy everything but we only bought a few things. Most of the day was spent eating (lol). We had lunch at Bollywood Dreams (yup! Indian food in Japan) and we had dinner at Yoshi Hachi Sushi Bar.  Both restaurants were soooo gooood!! We ended the night with some good ol' Baskin Robbins ice cream on base!

Day 130: Gyokusendo Cave

We headed over to Gyokusendo Cave (aka Okinawa World) to get a quick feel for a traditional Okinawan village, music, dance, food, and drink. We visited a wet, cold, and amazing cave. We watched an Eisa Show (which was our favorite), and we tried Habushu, which is sake with a snake! Actually, that was Adonis, not the ladies. This was a good introduction to Okinawa (and the Ryukyu Islands) before we continued with the rest of our week.

In Thailand, there were English signs everywhere. Actually, the english version of the signs were prominent and were subtitled in Thai. Wouldn't you think it would be the other way around? It's not like that in Okinawa. Very very few signs are subtitled in English and all other signs are Japanese only. Even though we can't read them, we like this better.

We visited the base's supermarket... *sigh* it felt comforting seeing all of American brand food and options.  Adonis FINALLY got his crab legs! Trust he will probably overdose on crab legs by the time he gets out of here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day 129: Konichiwa Okinawa!

After a short (but seemed like forever) 7 hour total flight from Thailand to Japan, we spent the day hanging out with my beloved Rachel and her family. We enjoyed good home cooked food, a funny movie, and good late night conversation with our new friend Melissa (who, by the way made a bomb-ass carrot cake)! We even lured everyone into "The DNAdom"  and got everyone to auto-tune with us... including Rachel's daughter (Bella)! hahahaha! This is going to be a good week!

Day 128: Unexpected Last Day

Our last day in Bangkok was .... unexpected.

We woke up really late and left the hotel for some delicious lunch. Man oh man was it good! We then decided to see Captain America at a fancy shmancy movie theater. We got reclining chairs, blankets, pillows, and alcoholic beverages! Captain America was goooood and our fav part was that he was from Brooklyn!

We headed back to the hotel after the movie to get dressed for a nice dinner out. I don't know what made me check but I looked up our departing flights. Thank god I did because our flight was leaving that night!! NOT the next night like we THOUGHT it was! We quickly packed and headed to the airport so that we could begin the 3rd and final leg of our trip: Okinawa, Japan!

After one flight delay and one layover we were out of Bangkok.

We have some unfinished business in Bangkok so we'll be back for the walking food tour and Thai cooking lessons.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 127: BKK is Massive

Two perfect examples of how big Bangkok really is are the Siam Paragon Complex & Chatuchak Market (Weekend Market).

We started our afternoon by heading over the the 35 acre Chatuchak Weekend Market.  Yes, 35 arces of thousands of people, vendors, humidity, and chaos. You can literally find ANYTHING you need and want at this market including sharks, pet porcupine, pet squirrels, jewelry, food, clothes, souvenirs, and buskers.

After the market we headed over the Siam Paragon which is a combination of a few other massive malls. The Siam Paragon has a full sized aquarium, a luxury auto gallery displaying Lamborghini's and the likes, and countless designer stores. Yes all of this was impressive but it wasn't the most impressive. The most impressive part as the "food hall".  This mall's food court was bigger than the entire mall back home. We don't exaggerate when we say there were a minimum of 100 places to eat. We eventually stumbled upon "Asian Cuisine" where we had the best food!! Lamb Curry, Chicken in Coconut soup, fresh fruit juice, Dim Sum etc. etc. Yum!

We found out that our hotel is walking distance from Soi Cowboy (the red light district). After dinner we headed over to walk this strip. Nothing too crazy except what you would expect: women dressed like strippers, countless young and old white men with Thai girls, music, lights, and drinks.