Category Archives: Architecture

Chichén Itzá

When we decided to go to Playa del Carmen, one of our motivators was to stop by the Mayan pyramids in Chichén Itzá.  With little research on our part & a lot of help from the front desk staff at our hotel, we booked our tour. 

After three bus rides, we finally made it to the sacred grounds.  We took the tour in Spanish, to be with a smaller crowd & we enjoyed learning all the history.  




Our tour guide, Victor, told us how the Mayan calendar was created, theories on how ceremonies were held, details on the placement of the structures & how the sun would set, creating an image of a serpent climbing up the pyramids.  We were told tales of brutal ball games, where to this day, it’s not quite certain if the winner or the loser was the one to be sacrificed to the gods.  



It was warm and sunny out & not as hot as it usually gets in that area. We were pretty lucky to enjoy such a beautiful day.  We learned so much and made some great memories. 

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Hotel 52 

This weekend, I took a mini vacation with one of my friends.  We decided that a few days in Playa del Carmen was just what the doctor ordered.  We made a great choice.  Hotel 52 was part of why it was so great.


Hotel 52 is a new hotel (like seriously new… it hasn’t even been open for two months) located on Calle 52, just off the famous “5 Avenida,” which is home to tons of clubs, shops, bars & restaurants.  The hotel’s location is in an area that is currently under development, but we absolutely loved staying there.  

Hotel 52 is bright and modern.  The staff is great – from Alexis & Humberto, at the front desk, to Sergio, who pretty much can help you with anything you need to make your stay more comfortable.  We felt so at home. 



The shower worked great, the beds were extremely comfortable & we had our own balcony.  We opted for their most economic version, a single room with two queen beds.  But, the hotel also offers junior & master suites. 

The price can’t be beat & I highly recommend that you book your next stay here.



*Note: Hotel 52 currently has a 3 star rating.  The hotel is still being fine-tuned. The restaurant is still building their menu & does not serve liquor. But, there’s an Oxxo (Mexican convenience store- think 711 or wawa) a couple blocks away and the staff will provide you with an ice chest to keep your beer cold, or they’ll make fresh-squeezed orange juice for you to enjoy your own champagne mimosas on the rooftop… and what a rooftop it is! 


The Queen Mary

As I mentioned in my last post, one of my recent domestic trips took me LAX.  I had the chance to stay on The Queen Mary in Long Beach & I can’t believe I waited so long to share this post with you.  But, since we’re just leaving Halloween season & since today is Friday the 13th, here’s my story about my stay on the famous haunted ship. 

I landed pretty late at night & was ready to head straight to bed.  I definitely noticed an eerie feeling upon my arrival.  When I got into my room, my initial excitement turned to wonder… & a bit of fear.  I mean this place is known for ghost sightings!  I remember sleeping with the lights & tv on that night. This isn’t uncommon for me, in my states of exhaustion, but this time, it was on purpose.  

I wanted to sleep in a bit, since I’d be working all night, as my returning flight was a redeye.  I wanted to explore the ship & take in as much as I could.  Here are some shots from my 3 hour, audio-guided walking tour.  

 

The view from my room.


  

The longest hallway on board. If you stand at one end, people seem to disappear as they approach the opposite end.

 

 

You can find stories like this posted all around the ship.


 

A bit of history: The original office for the Travel Bureau, from the Queen’s active days at sea.

   
 

This is the view you get while entering or exiting the lobby.

 
 In these next photos, you’ll see shots from the upper & lower decks, as well as some of the control rooms.  It was really cool seeing some of the behind the scenes stuff.  

   
   
   

Radio Control and Communication room.

 
    

A look into where the Captain of the ship used to stay.

   
 
   
  

Walking through the control room all alone, was kind of scary…

  

One of the most haunting places I stood on the ship. This room is the lowest point on the ship & the propeller is actually under water.

  

I captured this shot at the end of my tour, before dinner.


After a delicious dinner on the upper deck, and a beautiful California sunset, I headed to my room to get ready for my flight.    
Thanks for checking out this post. I hope you enjoyed it! 
*Remember, for more up-to-date stories, you can add me on SnapChat: CcTheStar. 

For live feed coverage, follow me on Periscope: @StartingAt30

Carnevale in Venice

After much self-inflicted internal debate, my flight attendant friend, Ali, and I decided to chase Carnevale in Venice. We had the same days off & needed to ditch the upcoming snow storm in Philadelphia. Italy was a dream.
After a few days working, we were both exhausted & didn’t know if we wanted to put in the “effort” to go to Italy. Luckily, our intuition (& my roommate, Courtney) spoke up.
We were suddenly reminded that we should “not be lazy” or “settle for the easy way out.” We should seize the moment & fly to JFK, to Milan, catch the train, & to the boat, to Venice to celebrate Fat Tuesday.
The idea clicked like a lightbulb & we were off. Escaping the snow storm for 50 something degree weather & delicious pasta was a no-brainier. We were excited!  



The flight to Milan brought about new flight attendant friends. They took care of us & invited us out. This is pretty common among flight crew. We really do stick together.
It took about 13 hours of actual travel time… 2 planes, 2 trains, a bus & a boat. 





 After a long day of travel, we finally made it to our hotel – which we booked at a Mc Donald’s cafè, thanks to wifi and Booking.com





 We each indulged in a long, hot shower, got primped & dressed, and stepped out for the night.
What I must say is that, in this case, the journey was truly more important than the destination. We made friends with our fellow flight crew on the way over. We met the most amazing young woman on the train from Milan to Venice who talked to us about everything from growing up in Europe, to education, to politics, to young love & so much more…she even shared her mother’s homemade, & Venetian trademark, tramezzini sandwich with us. All of these people fed us, loved us, made feel right at home, and engaged us in the stimulating conversations.
We made the trek to the car-less city to partake in the largest Carnevale celebration on the continent… & when we arrived at Saint Mark’s square, we had a real-life “womp womp” moment. The ground was covered in confetti & the crowd was clearing out. We missed the festivities that we’d traveled so far to see… 





 It was ok, though. After the experience we’d had to this point, we were optimistic… We knew there’d be plenty of after-parties. So, we walked the winding roads & stopped for some of the best spaghetti bolognese I’ve had in my life. Maybe it was the best… or maybe I was famished from our busy day.
We stumbled on the cutest local bar – Devil’s Forrest Pub – where the bartenders seemed to love us. They gave us free drinks & beads all night. They even took shots with us. 





They also pointed us in the direction of the biggest party of the night, “Arsenal.”
After what felt like a journey through The Labyrinth, we finally made it to a long, straight path along the water. The path lead to a historic-looking warehouse that was in the distance. 



This is when I turned to Ali with my fear… Maybe we were being lead to the large, annual feeding of local vampires. Maybe this was the part where all of us unsuspecting fools were fed to the blood-thirsty beasts…. But, man, what a way to go!
We continued on until we made it the huge night market/rave. With food, drinks & multiple rooms of music & flashing lights, we joined the masked & costumed guests on the dance floor. We did Arsenal! 



 Needless to say, we were absolutely exhausted after our big day. When we decided to leave the party, we discovered a water taxi that would save us about an hour of walking (that is if we could find our way back). Side note: Venice is a city with no cars, which means no cabs to drop you off… We hopped on the boat & got off at the stop that we thought was the closest to our hotel.
We wanted to get a good night’s sleep, so we could take advantage of a full day in Milan. It was a nice concept, anyway. A few hours would have to suffice.
In the morning, we enjoyed our free, breakfast at our hotel. The sun was shining, the day was gorgeous, and our view was overlooking the Grand Canal. Boats & gondolas rode by us as we enjoyed the most important meal of the day. 









 We prepped for the day & started our voyage back to Milan… or, at least we thought. We ended up running into some of the crew members from our flight, & joined them for drinks & (inevitably) lunch along the water. We knew it would be a voyage back to Milan, & we couldn’t do it on an empty stomach… Spaghetti bolognese was definitely in order. 





 After soaking up the sun, we took the boat, to the bus, that would take us to the train, to get to Milan. We met with a couple other flight attendants from our flight for dinner. We’re all pretty new to the industry. We had a lot in common & a lot of stories to tell. It was nice getting to know each other.
Although I wish the night could’ve gone on forever, and we could’ve seen more of Milan, time was a factor. We needed sleep & we needed to catch our flight home in the morning… A shuttle to the airport, then two plane rides would have us back home in Philadelphia.
Four days to travel to Europe & back may seem crazy to most people, but to us, it was normal. “No time wasted,” is often our motto. So, when we have days off, we make the most of it… Do you?

Thanks for reading along, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this post. How do you spend your days off? Have you ever taken a spontaneous trip? 

 *Special Thanks to Alyssa Muckey for assistance with photos. Also to my bestie, An Dyer , for her ongoing love & support of my life, my blog & my dreams!

Good Morning, From Charlotte

Happy Monday, everyone. I hope you all enjoyed the holiday weekend & a wonderful meal with your loved ones…
I’m technically posting this in the afternoon, now, but that’s beside the point. This is the lovely view I woke up to today and I’m filled with gratitude.

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I remember when Mondays used to be a drag for me, when I was caught in the monotony of the typical 9-5. I remember that I couldn’t even fully enjoy my Sunday nights, because I was too busy dreading the work week up ahead.
This morning, though, while many of you are returning to work after a long weekend, I’m enjoying my day off in North Carolina. The weather is similar to to back home in San Diego. The sky is clear & it’s sunny. I enjoyed a lovely breakfast on the balcony after a good night’s sleep in one of the most comfortable beds ever.
I flew to Charlotte yesterday evening after working 3 legs and completing a 4 day trip. After spending my holiday back home in California with my family (on a layover “working” – that’s right, I actually got paid to eat my mom’s cooking), I had a busy weekend with full flights. I wanted to enjoy my day off with a friend, so, I listed myself on a flight to CLT.
After a nice dinner and a funny movie, I was exhausted & needed my rest. Today, I’m refreshed and grateful for my life. After breakfast, I played a little pool, watched some TV and I enjoyed some tea, along with the view…

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I just wanted to share this with you all. It’s a testimony of how much my life has changed since becoming a flight attendant… It’s simple & yet significant… Because now, I love Mondays… I actually love everyday!
Hope you all have a wonderful week, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing…

Yesterday Germany, Tomorrow Italy

I was talking with my best friend one night & she asked me where in the world I was. I told her I had just gotten in from Puerto Rico after being in Germany yesterday, then I’d be heading to Rome tomorrow. The simple fact that that’s what my conversations sound like now is just ridiculous to me… & I absolutely love it!
My crew to Germany was amazing. We were all pretty junior and we wanted to go out & see the city. This was my first time there & I was looking forward to schnitzel & bier!
We stay just outside of Frankfurt, in Mainz. The city is gorgeous. The hazy weather added to the beauty around us.
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After some congregating at our hotel, we head out for some food at a restaurant that’s a crew favorite. The crew & our waitress all suggested schnitzel, so, after plenty of thought, that’s what I order… Schnitzel & dark bier. Yum.

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At dinner, we run into another crew member & his partner, who is a local. Our group grows & we set off to explore together.
Everything is so beautiful, from the streets, to the buildings, to the trees. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It feels like I’m on a movie set! I stop occasionally to touch trees & buildings just to make sure they’re real.

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We spend the day frolicking & making stops here & there for a drink or dessert… It’s Sunday, so there isn’t a whole lot going on.
We all get to know each other better & have great laughs as we close the day by the river.

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A couple of us head out for some late night exploring, where we meet some interesting locals along the way. When we stop and ask for directions, one guy says he’ll walk us. He’s carrying 2 duffle bags & a backpack… He’s just getting in from Berlin. He’s spent all day on the road, in traffic, and now he’s showing us around, while lugging his baggage.
He had the most wonderful attitude & was so sweet, I just has to mention him. That was my impression of Mainz… & Germany. A beautiful city with nice people, good food & great bier!

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When I returned to Philly, I got called for a quick turn to & from Puerto Rico. It was an easy work day…those crews are always fun. Then, I had a few days off…
That’s when my friend, Anabel ( who you met here) invited me to Rome!
I was debating on visiting a friend in LA & going to a show… I even asked a few people about it. The answer seemed obvious to everyone but me. So, at the last minute, while standing at the gate, I walked away from my LA departure & headed towards the gate for Rome!
Anabel was surprised (& excited) to see me. I was pretty excited myself. This would be my first time in Italy…& to do it with a friend, who was willing to share her (free) hotel room…I mean, yay!
When we arrive, Anabel needs to rest. I was able to sleep on the flight over, so, while she naps, I get ready for the day. I love our hotel. It’s cute & quaint. The decor is exactly what I think of when I imagine Rome. There’s a vanity in the room with a darling little chair. The mirror is old & misty. There’s doors (with long windows with wooden panels and shear white curtains) that lead to the terrace. It’s adorable.
Anabel has been here before, so, she has a game plan. When she wakes, we hit the ground running. Here’s how we saw Rome in a day…

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After a day of walking around the entire city, we were pooped. Anabel hailed a cab back to the hotel & even though I wanted to go out & see Rome’s nightlife, I ended up falling asleep in the cab. It was a wonderful day & I was ready for a good night’s sleep.

Bilingual Got Me Barcelona

I had a couple days off & I was feeling “stuck” in Philadelphia. Flights back home to San Diego were all full and I was a little homesick. Since I couldn’t get back to California, I volunteered to work during my off days. I was hoping I’d get called on a fun trip.
I’m woken up by my phone… It’s Scheduling calling me. I guess something opened up… I jump to answer. The voice coming from the other end sounds absolutely angelic when he says, “Cecilia, we have a four-day trip to Barcelona tonight. Are you interested?” Ummm, heck yes, I am!
I joined the seasonal “language of destination” program to practice my Spanish and to see if flying to Spanish-speaking destinations is something I want to continue to do on a regular basis.
I’ve always been a little embarrassed to speak Spanish because I didn’t learn the language until I was 12 years old, and I never felt like I mastered it.
One day (in San Diego) my dad asked me to bring him a hanger…but he asked me in Spanish. When I didn’t do it, he approached me to ask why. I told him I didn’t understand what he said. I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face…he looked heart-broken.
That day, he told my mom that we’d be moving across the boarder to Mexicali. So, while all my friends were off to Jr. High, my younger sister and I were to attend a private school in Mexico to study the language until we were fluent. It took about 3 months before I was awarded “Student of the Month” and with that came the opportunity to return to school in California. Back then, I was pretty upset about the whole ordeal, but now, I’m so thankful for the opportunity. Learning Spanish has definitely opened doors for me…

Now I’m on my way Barcelona with a great crew. Since we have two full days in the city, we’re all making plans to go out. So many different personalities, so many different things to do. I’m excited.
I can’t even sleep when we get to our hotel. It’s beautiful! The room is very contemporary & the accommodations are great. I shower & lounge around in the plush robe & slippers provided while I wait on a couple of the ladies. We’ve agreed to meet in the lobby in the afternoon.
At the top of our list, is the famous Sagrada Familia, just one of the many masterpieces by Gaudí. When we step up out of metro station, we take in the scenery… Then, we turn around, and we’re stunned by the massive work of art that stands before us. It’s absolutely breathtaking.

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We walk around the entire building. Each side of the church has a different look to it. So many intricate details. I’m in awe.
Unfortunately, due to a private concert that evening, the church is closed earlier than normal. We can’t see the inside. Bummer.
After some walking around & a light snack, we meet another flight attendant back at the hotel. One of the ladies has other plans. So, we say bye & continue our day.
Another of the ladies is retiring this year. She’s committed to seeing as much as she can see before she hangs up her wings. She’s so much fun. She’s been out with me all day.
The flight attendant we’re out with now, travels to Barcelona regularly & is proud to show us around. She’s also originally from California. She’s such a great tour guide.
We walk to Las Ramblas, the popular street in Barcelona where you can find just about anything. It’s full of families, tourists, locals, shops, restaurants, markets, etc.

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The area is just full of life. We make a few stops along the way. One of our stops is at the local market. We pick up fruit & cheeses to snack on.

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I need to pull out cash, so, I stop at an ATM where I meet (& briefly chat with) Kyle Bryant, an American artist who is spending his time capturing Barcelona in a very unique way… Watch here.

The ladies & I are headed to dinner & a flamenco show. We join another crew member for dinner at a restaurant that is a crew favorite.
The flamenco show is in the same square, so, it’s a short walk to the venue. When the dancers & musicians take the stage, the room is captivated. The movements, the sounds, the storytelling…it’s such a great show. I even consider moving to Spain & learning the art, myself!

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The next day, I meet up with my fellow California girl again. She and another one of the ladies are spending the day in Sitges. I decide to join them.
After our train ride, we arrive to the gorgeous beach town. The weather is perfect & the beaches are full. The water looks amazing.

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We didn’t plan to spend time in the sand. We want to walk around & see the area. We hit the streets & take in the sites. Then, we stroll along the water before stopping for a drink.
It’s a Wednesday afternoon, and it’s a warm 70 degrees out. We’re sitting outside with a great view of the ocean. Each of us is enjoying a glass of wine…and one of the ladies reminds us that we’re getting paid to do this. What a life!

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I have plans to visit another one of the Gaudí sites. So, after a few hours in Sitges, I hop a train back to Barcelona. Then, I take the local metro to Park Güelle .
I didn’t really know a whole lot about the park, I just knew I wanted to see it. I have to stop for directions along the way.
Once I see what’s up ahead of me, I know I should’ve planned ahead, and worn more sensible shoes. That’s ok, though. I used to live in five inch heels…I can do this.
After my hike up what seemed like never-ending stairs, I make it into the park. There’s so much to see.

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There’s a line to enter the part of the park that houses all the well-known exhibits. So, I walk around the the surrounding area before I buy my ticket.
*Note: Purchase your entry before exploring the outside area. Then, it should be your assigned entry time and you won’t have to wait in line to enter. Also, wear comfy or athletic gear. You can make it a day of hiking. You might even want to pack a picnic to enjoy in the park. There are so many great views.

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When I make it inside the park, I’m stunned by all the beauty. The attention to detail and the creativity that went into the project is out of this world. My eyes are feasting on all the colors of the mosaic work. I’m walking around in awe… talk about jaw-dropping!

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After my big day out, I’m pretty pooped. When I get to back to my hotel, I run into one of the ladies that visited Sagrada Familia with me. We begin to recap our trip. We both decide we want to hit the town one more time before bed.
We stroll down Las Ramblas one last time before calling it a night. The city is alive. It’s hard for me to leave. But, we have a big day ahead of us…we have to work.
I wake up early, to catch the sunrise at the rooftop pool before getting ready for our flight. It’s beautiful. I love Barcelona & I can’t wait to be back over & over again all summer.

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Thanks Mom & Pap for sending me to school in Mexico to learn Spanish all those years ago… Being bilingual got me Barcelona!