Monday, April 28, 2014

Aquarium of the Pacific

Happy Monday all! I can't believe I have been living here in California for almost two months already. I absolutely love it and am really starting to get comfortable here. Unfortunately the weather this last weekend wasn't great. It rained on Friday night which never happens in Southern California and then on Saturday and Sunday it was chilly/windy (65 degrees is considered cold here). We wanted to do something inside, so we decided to go to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA. Again the traffic getting there was a nightmare. It took about 35 minutes just to make a right turn into the parking garage ($8 with aquarium ticket). I guess a lot of other people had the same idea about staying inside. I recommend going early in the morning to avoid the crowds. 
long beach
City of Long Beach
Long Beach aquarium
View from the parking garage 
Long Beach
Bridge that looks like a roller coaster 
Aquarium of the Pacific
After we finally parked we had to wait another 20 minutes in line to purchase tickets. I could have bought them online but I wanted to see the different packages they offered at the box office. We decided to purchase the behind the scenes tour package ($18/per ticket) along with the aquarium tickets which ended up costing around $95. Considering the price of some other aquariums I've been to in the past, I think this was on the expensive end. We started off the trip with the behinds the scene tour which I highly recommend you doing. There was only one other couple on the tour with us so it was very private. The tour lasted about an hour and included a guide of the vet, large tank with divers who were feeding the fish, kitchen, and quarantine. If you read my blog regularly you know I love water and fish. This tour was both educational and fun and absolutely awesome for me! We even got to feed the fish some seaweed in the large tank and watch the stingrays eat lunch. After the tour was over we went around to the different exhibits both inside and outside. I think that it would have made more sense if we had done that first and then did the behind the scenes tour last. The aquarium over all was over crowded with screaming children and pushy adults. If I hadn't just done that private tour I think I would have pushed a child in the shark tank. We only walked around for about an hour until we couldn't handle it anymore. The day was fun only because of the private tour we did, but I don't think I will go back again. Too expensive and too over crowded.
Aquarium of the Pacific
The lobby with a blue whale replica 
Aquarium of the Pacific
Behind the scenes dive center
Aquarium of the Pacific
Divers going into the tank to feed
Aquarium of the Pacific
Large tank with sharks, turtles, eels, stingrays, fish
Aquarium of the Pacific
Feeding the stingrays
Aquarium of the Pacific
Fish in quarantine 
Aquarium of the Pacific
I could stay here all day
Baby bamboo sharks 
shark egg
Shark eggs
Aquarium of the Pacific
More divers 
Bright fish
Aquarium of the Pacific
Fish food, sorry goldfish 
Aquarium of the Pacific
More fish food
sea horse
Baby seahorses 
Aquarium of the Pacific
VIP only 
Sharks and Dory
Huge grouper 
Bottom of a stingray
Sea turtle
More divers 
More sharks 
jelly fish
Jelly fish 
Aquarium of the Pacific
Please touch starfish etc
Sunbathing seals 
Please touch sharks 
Black tip shark
Please touch stingrays 
Spending the day at the aquarium made us hungry for some delicious fish, sorry Nemo and Dory. We decided on Rock'n Fish right on Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach on the ocean. We had oysters to start as an appetizer and they were really fresh and had no grit. My boyfriend ordered the jambalaya and I ordered the macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi with fries and spicy mac n cheese. Both of our meals were really delicious and we got to enjoy the sunsetting while eating. Together with two beers our meals was around $85 including tip. Parking on the street was difficult to find so we parked in the garage across the street ($2/hour). Overall we had a great day together exploring new places and a new town. 
The view of the ocean
mahi mahi
My mahi mahi with pineapple salsa
I hope everyone had a great weekend and a great start to the new week.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter!

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend celebrating with family and friends. We had a very packed weekend spending a lot of time outside enjoying the California sun. On Friday we were lucky enough to go to the Honda Center for an Anaheim Ducks vs Dallas Stars playoff hockey game #2. My boyfriend is a huge Dallas Stars fan, and this is the first time that they have made the playoffs in a long time, not like the Philadelphia Flyers that make it almost every year :) It just so happened that they are playing against Anaheim in the first round so we knew we had to get tickets. Although we were sitting in the nosebleed seats and the Stars lost, it was honestly one of the most fun games I had ever been to. Duck fans have a lot of energy and are actually really nice to other fans. The stadium is also really nice with hundreds palm trees surrounding the parking lot. Parking was $25 across the street at the JT Schmidt restaurant and fairly easy to get out of the parking lot after the game. I'm glad we were able to experience this together and had a great night in Anaheim. 
The Honda Center
The other orange and black team
Game time
First period 
Sold out game 2
On Saturday we decided to go to the Santa Monica pier in Santa Monica outside of LA. The drive from Irvine to Santa Monica honestly sucked. We were stuck in traffic for what seemed like hours crawling along the freeway. Once we finally arrived we decided to just valet our car so we would't have to worry about fighting for a parking spot. Valet parking was $10 for the first hour and $2 every 20 minutes after. The pier has rides, games, restaurants, and street entertainers. It reminded me of when I was a child going to Wildwood at the Jersey shore with my family. After the hours we spent in traffic we made a straight line for Mariasols Mexican restaurant to enjoy an alcoholic beverage. We sat at the bar at Mariasols while enjoying our margaritas, chips, and salsa since we were not going to wait for a table. The drinks are on the expensive side, and they even have a $85 patron margarita. After we finished our drinks we wanted to go ride the roller coaster but the line to buy tickets and ride the rides was over an hour wait. We had enough of the traffic and waiting so we decided just to go home. The pier is a landmark in Souther California, but I honestly don't think I would go back. Too crowded, too much traffic, and too expensive. Checked it off the bucket list and moved on to the next thing. 
Way to over crowded
Beach and full parking lot
Rides on the pier
Beautiful California day
Our margaritas at the bar 
Live music
Direct view to the ocean from the bar
Santa Monica, CA
Roller coaster that we didn't get to ride
The pier entrance 
On Sunday we typically like to do something physically active so we decided to go on a hike at Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach. I typed in 8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 into my GPS and entered the park at the Pelican Point entrance. Parking is $15 for the day which allows you to park from 6AM- sunset. We parked in lot 1 and walked along the boardwalk to the beach entrance. You can hike along the beach or one of a dozen different hiking paths. The state park is absolutely beautiful and clearly very well taken care of. I can't wait to go back and spend the entire day laying on the beach, taking a swim in the ocean, and maybe even fit in a good hike.
View from the hiking trails
Looking over the cliff
Panoramic view
Cactus looking over the edge
Rocks and waves
Low tide
Happy Easter!
Boardwalk to the beach
Trail looking at the ocean
Little lizard
Until next week.