Category Archives: Family

Como la Flor

On the last day of May, I want to share a little bit about how my sisters & I celebrated our wonderful mom for Mother’s Day this year.

We went out to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California and gave her the biggest bouquet she’s ever received. The entire place is filled with colorful petals as far as the eye can see. If you haven’t been out to the flower fields yet, I urge you to visit the beautiful scene. It’s the perfect excuse to wear a pretty dress & take lots of pictures. I hope you enjoy mine…

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Love Albany 

I spent Valentine’s Day with one of my many loves… (making) money.  I worked.  I ended up in Albany, NY and had a full 24 hours to catch up on some sleep & explore a little.  

Before this trip, I was not aware that Albany is the Capital City of New York.  So, when my hotel concierge told me that we were near the Capitol building, I knew I wanted to get out and walk around a bit, even if it was 30 degrees. 

By the time I got settled in, ate & changed, I had about an hour before sunset.  So, I stepped out to walked around the cute, quaint area.  
I was stunned by the State’s Capitol and I spent some time seeing it from every angle.  

Near the Capitol, I noticed a unique building, which I later found out is a theatre, called The Egg.  


There was a large ice skating rink near by & I could hear music playing.  I imagined quite a few skaters were couples, celebrating Qupid’s day.  

After a little bit of exploring, my hands were so cold that my phone wasn’t even responding to my touch.  (I forgot to pack gloves).  So, I decided to pop back into my hotel room to warm up.  That’s when Twilight started playing on TV, and I had to decide between a single gal’s Vday with a movie & wine, or an evening meeting locals.  This is usually an easy decision, but today, it took a little work… 

Considering my long layover – and words my cousin, Johnny, shared with me recently – “Come on, fool.  Go out.  You know you never have a hard time making friends.”  I went to to a local beer hall.  

City Beer Hall was busy, but still had room at the bar.  Perfect.  I took a seat & the lovely bartender, Beth Anne, came my aide.  She helped me pick a local IPA & left a food menu for me.  

When my beer arrived, it came with a raffle ticket.  The ticket was redeemable in the kitchen, for a personal-sized pizza.   This was not a Valentine’s Day special.  They do this everyday, folks! 

After meeting a few locals, tossing back a few local brews, and nibbling on free pizza, I was informed by a gentleman named Steve, of a speakeasy that was located right downstairs.  You have to  exit the beer hall, knock  on the door, and hope they let you in. We got lucky. 

They had a live jazz band, dim, romantic lighting, snazzy dressers, and a busy dance floor.  Steve ordered us some drinks.  One was served with a single, globe-shaped ice cube & set on fire.  Cheers! 

There had been dance lessons earlier in the night & the instructors were still there, pulling people to the dance floor.  There were guys dancing with girls, girls dancing with girls, and guys dancing with guys.  I got spun around a few times, which, those who know me, know that that’s all I need.

I made friends with the bartenders & host and I promised I’d be back again.  Then, I spent my morning resting in my warm, comfy bed, as I watched fresh snow fall.  Albany surprised me.  I really enjoyed my time there.  Thank you, upstate New York. 

Celebrating The Queen

I called this post “Celebrating The Queen,” because I spent Mother’s Day weekend with my mom at the Second Annual, Fiesta de la Flor – a festival celebrating the life of Selena Quintanilla Perez.

In so many ways, this festival ties my all worlds together. Attending the event meant incorporating flying, driving, dancing, music, singing, my mom, family, Selena costumes, red lips, eyeliner, waterfronts, blue skies, beauty, Latinos, love & history. It was definitely an experience I’ll never forget. 

 You see, when I was a little girl, my Mexican parents thought it would be best to have “Americanized” children. No Spanish, no accent, just perfect English. This would avoid all the ridicule they endured growing up. I’ve talked a little bit about this in a previous post

Anyway, when I was a young girl, my (Mexican-Amercican) mom had this Spanish cassette that she would listen to on repeat. The melodies were intriguing & the sultry, raspy voice called to me. When I first heard Selena’s Entre A Mi Mundo, it was love as first note. The album included an English track called “Missing My Baby,” which was reminiscent of the Golden Oldies you’d hear on Sunday nights, on the Art Laboe show. I was impressed that this “Mexican” singer knew English. When my mom explained to me that Selena was Mexican-American, like us, and that she only learned Spanish through her music, she instantly (along with Mariah Carey) became my idol.     

Little did I know that I’d only get to enjoy Selena as a living artist for a few short years. When I was in sixth grade, my mom picked me up from school on Friday,  March 31, 1995, with tears in her eyes. She told me that Selena had been shot & killed earlier that day. I remember crying myself to sleep that night. 

After losing such an icon in my life, the only thing I could do was try keep her alive in my world, in my own way.  Everyday after school, I’d come home & spend hours upon hours with her CDs on repeat, singing and dancing in my room. I was silly enough to think my family couldn’t hear me.  

About six months later, after hearing me practice so avidly, my mom asked me to sing at my dad’s birthday party. Nervous to sing in Spanish, in front of a Mexican crowd with a full Mariachi band, I initially declined. Then, she offered me to pay me & I jumped up and grabbed the microphone. I sang Tú Sólo Tú, trying as hard as I could to mimic Selena’s cover from her last studio album, “Dreaming of You,” which was released after her passing. 

The crowd seemed pleased & very surprised… and, I was hooked. It was hard to keep me from singing at parties after that. 

After 21 years of imitating, impersonating & cultivating my own version of a Selena-inspired woman, I finally got to visit her home town of Corpus Christi.  The best part was that I got to take my mom, the woman who introduced me to this artist, who continues to influence my life even over two decades after her death.  I was beyond excited.  

The entire trip was a roller coaster ride.  Excitement, sadness, heartbreak, love, anger… Those were all a part of the emotional weekend.  


Our weekend started with a dash to the festival.  After two flights & a road trip from San Antonio, we made it to Corpus Christi in time to catch Pete Astudillo.  My mom and I both cried when he performed “Como Te Extraño,” a cumbia he wrote for Selena.  It was such a precious moment. 
The night ended on a happy note with the Legend, “El Rey de la Acordeón,” Ramón Ayala.”  Every Mexican family plays his classics at any given gathering.  His music is a staple in our culture. 


The next day, we mapped out some stops around Corpus Christi.  We wanted to see everything from where Selena lived, to where she was laid to rest.  Here’s how our day went: 

We (along with some other festival goers) started our day with a visit to Selena’s gravesite.



Our next stop was was Selena & Chris’s house. They actually lived next door to Abraham & Marcela Quintanilla (Selena’s parents). On the other side of their house (not photographed) was A.B. Quintanilla’s house – Selena’s brother/producer/bandmate.

The most chilling stop we made all day was to the (former) Days Inn, room 158 (now Knight’s Inn, room 150), where Selena was brutally murdered by her fan club president, Yolanda Saldivar.

We met the guest staying in the room & he was nice enough to let us in to look around. It was definitely a heavy & eerie experience . I mean, this was the actual spot where Selena was shot! It was heartbreaking.


The hallway where Selena ran to look for help to save her life…


Next, was the Selena Museum. It’s also the location for Q Productions, Selena’s recording studio. The museum was closed, but we got a few pics outside.

My mom made me do this…

 

Our last stop, before Day 2 at the festival, was the Selena Memorial & statue.

After the emotional tour, we hit the festival for a bit & enjoyed the perfect weather, good music, and all the Selena costumes. It was such a beautiful day. 

I loved this girl’s costume! We chatted for a bit & discovered that we have same birthday, October 25.

The closest I got to Chris Perez during his meet & greet. The line was about 3hours…


Taking a page from the Selena movie & doing “The Washing Machine,” with my mom.

We turned in early, in order to get a good night’s sleep and to prepare for our day of travel.  In the morning, we thought we’d stop by the Selena Museum to check if it was as open. It was! 

After paying the small $3 entrance, we were lead into Selena’s recording studio. This was the actual room where she recorded the music that I still listen today; the same room you see Jennifer Lopez depicting the recording of “I Could Fall in Love,” in the movie. I was more than excited! 


After a short introduction & a mintute for photo ops, we were free to look around the Museum. The family has preserved & displayed Selena’s many awards, photos of the singer, some of her personal items, including jewelry, an old cell phone and her famous red Porsche. The main displays, and the center focus, are some of Selena’s iconic outfits.  To see the pieces up close and personal, is very moving.  Each display case contains a photo of the singer in that particular outfit.  Being that close to the actual clothes that she wore & designed touched my heart. It made me feel close to her & that the same time, I was reminded of how she stolen from us way too soon.

The oh-so famous Purple outfit from Selena’s last concert…



One of the most moving displays in the museum – a lipstick stained microphone…

I noticed that a lot of the things she wore didn’t look expensive or extravagant in those display cases.  A lot of the pieces had obviously been bedazzled by the singer herself.  You can see traces of glue from the hot glue gun under some of the jewels that made her belts & bra tops sparkle.  Some of the pieces looked worn & used, but man, when she wore them, she looked like a million bucks! 




After spending time in Corpus Christi, it became so clear to me that Selena really was just a small town girl, with a simple life.  She was just human, like me and you. She loved to be close to her family & she loved to sing.  She was innovative and driven and she would have done so many more great things, if she had been given the chance at a longer life.  

Standing in front of the “Selena” lights from the Last Concert, filmed at the Houston Astrodome on February 26, 1995.

I think one of the greatest things Selena (or her tragic death) did for me, was bring me to ask myself, “When I’m gone, what will people say about me? How will I be remembered?” 

It made me realize that in this life, there are so many people who I will cross paths with. Some people will be in my life for a long time, and others, for just a brief moment, but either way, whether they’re around for many moments, or for just one, those “moments” will be the only thing they ever know of me; the only experiences they’ll ever have… So, I might as well make them good! 

Forever…

Thank you for reading along.  I really hope you enjoyed this post.  Feel free to share any of your Selena stories in the comments.  

Sisters in Paris 

As I mentioned in my Amsterdam post, I got to enjoy a little vacation with my sisters in Paris this time, last year.  It was their first time in the city and we had a long list of things to do. 

We started our trip with a train ride from Amsterdam.  After hopping on the wrong train & transferring, we accidentally ended up in first class.  It was amazing! 

Our hotel in Paris was right near the Eiffel Tower, & we could peak at it from our window.  My sister & I made sure to walk over to the tower as soon as we checked in.  We took lots of photos. 

   
    
   

The next two days were filled with activities.  We visited The Louver and checked out the Mona Lisa, we stopped by the Eiffel Tower more than once, we ate delicious food, drank lots of wine & wandered the romantic streets of the city. 

  
One of my favorite events was when we took the train to Versailles to see The Palace.  Here’s what the royal estate looked like…  

  
  
  

   

The bedrooms, the carpets, the lighting fixtures, the drapes… everything was so beautiful!

 
  
 

I stopped to touch up my makeup in one of the royal mirrors, as I imagined being a princess, just hanging out at home.


 

Speaking of mirrors… here’s a shot in the famous Hall of Mirrors. You might recognize it from Rihanna’s Dior commercial!

  
  

  
 

Once again, pretending to be a princess…

 
  
  

My blogger bestie and her husband also joined us on the trip.  You saw them in my Amsterdam post, as well.  We met for drinks & bites at the highest view point in Paris.  Here’s a shot of our gorgeous view, from HautePinkPretty.com.  

 

It was a magical moment to share with the girl I once worked with at a bank.  We always dreamed of traveling & talked about following our passions.  Now, here we were, toasting in France! 
I also had the pleasure of taking my sisters to the famous Ladurée, for macaroons and tea.  It was an early birthday present to my big sis.  It filled me with joy to celebrate with her in such a beautiful city. 

  

In a couple of days, my sisters and brother-in-law are joining me for my 2016 vacation… In Colombia! Stay tuned for the post.  I promise to not make you wait a whole year for it. 

Rhymesayers 20 Year Anniversary 

Last month I got to celebrate with my Rhymesayers friends for their 20th Anniversary at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I’ll admit, in 1995 – when RSE was getting started on building what would one day become my favorite independent hip hop record label – the only hip hop I was listening to was from the West Coast, and my 12 year old self was more concerned with singing Selena songs more than anything. But, just because I was late to the party, doesn’t mean that I haven’t been having a good time… 

I was honored to be invited to this celebration. My only experiences in the city of Minneapolis all involve Rhymesayers moments… & I feel so lucky for that! 

I get to the venue a little early to pick up my ticket. I hang around and say hi to some familiar faces before doors open. When I make it inside, I’m so excited! I want to enjoy every minute of this seven-hour joyous occasion.  

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

  
I join some of my favorite Rhymesayers family members stage-side to watch the show. I’m pretty excited when Los Nativos are on. With their Spanish lyrics and Aztec dancers, I feel my culture being proudly represented. 

  

 
  
 

Photos by Cory Dewald

 
 
The show is moving on swiftly and I’m standing amongst some of the upcoming acts. I make my rounds to thank everyone for allowing me to be a part of this. It feels so good to be welcomed by the creators of the legendary label. 
I walk around the arena to watch the show from different angles. From side stage, to my assigned seat, to the engineer booth, it’s all amazing. I like to watch the entire production come together; it fascinates me to catch people (all people) in their element.  
Of course, my immediate attention goes to the performers, but watching Siddiq, J Bird & Slug enjoy the fruits of their labor is just as exciting. It’s beautiful to catch the look on the faces of some of the Rhymesayers artists, while they enjoy their label mates’ sets. I’m greatly entertained by Randy controlling & perfecting the sound. I’m in awe when I spot some of my favorite photographers capturing glorious moments that they’ll share on their websites & Instagram posts. For me, Sarah Dope, Cory Dewald, Van Styles & Beth Saravo are just as big as the stars on the mic.

 

Sarah Dope. Photo by Cory Dewald

  

Van Styles. Photo by Cory Dewald

 
I turn into a total geek when I catch these behind the scenes moments. When I make my way to the friends & family room, I notice that my dear friends have provided us with delicious snacks & plenty of libations. That’s not the best part, though. There’s a door connecting to the media room. It’s buzzing with all the social network stars, afore mentioned, who are working hard to capture moments of the big day. This is where the magic happens. These are the people documenting the night for all the world to see! With laptops, cameras, chargers, and electrical wiring all around, it’s thrilling to see these geniuses at work.   

 

A shot I got at Beth Saravo’s work station.


Around the corner, there’s an interview room. Artists are escorted to & from the exclusive area, while passing by friends & family who are taking a break from the bustling crowd. I dream of being the one behind those doors, asking all the in-depth questions on camera…someday! 

  
I spend my day bouncing around, taking in as much as I possibly can. When I make my way stageside again, I notice headliner, Slug, of Atmosphere.  I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with him casually on a few occasions. Feeling nostalgic, due to the whole “anniversary” thing, I want to share my first Atmosphere memory with Sean. When I go to greet him, he smiles, gives me a hug & for some reason, I chicken out.  
Even though he’s standing alone, and  I have his attention, something inside tells me not to bother him with my story.   I’m sure he hears stuff like this all the time... 

So, I keep the story of how 19 year-old me used to roam the streets of Modesto, CA at night, with loaded spray cans, good friends, and graffiti dreams to myself. “Star,” would be hit up on walls for all to see & I’d be bumping Atmosphere, “And this goes to those who tag and paint walls with aerosol…” 
I’ve never quite remembered what the name of the song was, but who better to ask, than Slug himself? Of course, he’d give me the answer that so many of my fellow Atmosphere fans have failed to provide. But, like I said, my self-doubt got in the way, and all I did was use my reoccurring dialogue. 

“Hi. How are you? So good to see you again!” 

Then, I walked away, hoping not bother him.  
The night goes on, acts continue to grace the stage & move the crowd. Dem Atlas blows me away.  

 

Photos by Cory Dewald

 
  Grieves has me enthralled. 

Photo by Cory Dewald


 
  Prof makes me jump to my feet & party hard with his energetic stage presence.  

 

Photos by Cory Dewald

  
 I’m amazed by DJ Abilities & touched by his tribute to Eyedea.   

Photo by Cory Dewald


 
As always, Aesop astounds me.  

Photo by Cory Dewald

   
Dilated makes me proud to be from California. 

Photo by Cory Dewald

 
I’m wrapped up in every minute. 
I enjoy the show with some of my favorite Rhymesayers (associated) ladies – the Glam Dolls, friends, family & significant others.  

  

We step outside for fresh air, after Brother Ali’s set and hurry back in for some water & to catch Atmosphere as they close the show.   

Photo by Cory Dewald

 
I’m walking through the crowd, floor level when I spot special guest, Spawn, reunited on stage with Slug, performing the song that introduced me to Atmosphere & Rhymesayers as a whole. 

Photo by Cory Dewald

I could kick myself for not telling Slug about it when I had the chance… Oh how different that interaction & the entire night could have gone…

I could picture it already.  Slug would go all Betty Wright (Tonight is the Night) & say something along the lines of

“Ladies & gentlemen, I know a lot of you have been rockin’ with us for a long time. I know you may have seen us live before, but tonight’s set will be a little different. We want to bring back some memories. Everybody, think back to your very first time… When did you first fall in love with Atmosphere? What about Rhymesayers? Well, there’s a lady here tonight that clearly recollects her first time, and she shared it with me earlier…  

And it goes a little something like this…!” 

 

Photo by Cory Dewald

 
Haha! I know, I know… I have a wild imagination. But who knows? Maybe it would’ve happened… 

   

  

    

Photos by Cory Dewald

  
After the confetti fell, gratitude was deeply expressed, and the lights went on, people made their way back to their cars, trains & other forms of transportation to take home with them the warm memories & great feelings about what took place at Target Center that night.  
I headed backstage to check in with friends. When I shared my Slug story with Van Styles, he compared it to the feeling he gets after missing a shot & he encouraged me to always go for it & never hold back… “Because you just never know.” Then, he graciously invited me to Atmosphere’s green room, to tell the story to Sean, myself. I got there in time to watch Slug make his way out, & like my moment, he had escaped. 
On my way to party the night away with some of my favorite people, I ran into Ant & shared the short version of my story with him. It was then that I was finally told the name of that song: Multiples. Boom! Life was good. 
The rest of night was a collection of stories & celebrations with my RSE friends. We partied until we could party no more. Those are the kind of nights I live for!   

 

*Special Thanks to Ashanti for always taking care of me. To Siddiq, J Bird, and the entire Rhymesayers family & extended family for always making “Minnesota Nice” such a real thing in my life. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude in words. To Skye, Jeff, Sarah, Grieves, DJ Fundo, Van Styles, Tanya, Teresa, Jasmine & friends for making my night a fun-filled experience to remember. And, of course, to Beth Saravo and Cory Dewald for collaborating with me & sharing their masterpieces to bring this post to life! 

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
Thank you all so much. I’ll see you at SoundSet 2016! 

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

Back Where It All Began

My first blog post was about my first trip to Amsterdam, which was a total dream come true. I wrote about my revelation of wanting to share my journey with the world, hence “Starting Starting At 30.” A year later, I found myself back where it all began…
No place (other than San Diego) has ever made me feel like Amsterdam. I’ll share it with you the same way I share it with everyone else:
After landing at Schipol Airport, my friends & I rode the train into the city. I’ll never forget that moment when I stepped out into the streets for the very first time. I looked around at all the bikes, the buildings & the people, and my soul whispered to me…
“Ceci.” It called.
“Yes, soul?” I asked.
“We’re home.” It said.
“I know.” I replied.
And just like that, I experienced love at first sight.
After that description, I guess it’s no wonder why my friends & family are all intrigued… since my initial encounter last year, I began planning this vacation with two of my sisters, Monica & Angie, my bestie, An (Haute Pink Pretty), my brother-in-law, Chris, & my bestie-in-law, also Chris (Superman Dyer). The five of them are very influential people in my life. Sharing my flight benefits is my way of finally doing something great for them!
The flight from Philadelphia was great. We bribed the gate agents with chocolates to be seated together and we bought an entire pizza for the crew. Feeding flight attendants will only result great service. Take notes, people! 😉
Once we got all our luggage together, we shared a taxi into the city. We parted ways for a bit to check in to our neighboring hotels to get ready for the day… I’ll spare you the details and jump into the fun stuff.
We started our first day walking around Leidseplein Square, popping into random spots for drinks & quick bites.

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IMG_9392Though I love the city, I must admit, the food in Amsterdam doesn’t really excite me. I prefer hitting grocery stores, like Marqt & snacking on local greens, cheeses & fresh bread.
We eventually made our way to the famous I Amsterdam letters, where we took turns posing & snapping shots.

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It was a beautiful (cold, but clear & sunny) day out, so, we spent time just walking around the city. We admired the adorable architecture, the beautiful bridges, the charismatic canals and, of course, the lovely locals.

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We attempted to familiarize ourselves with the layout of the land to make a game plan for the next day’s activities. We ended our night running for cover from the rain in the Red Light District. We were all exhausted & ready to turn in when the weather took a turn for the wet…

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Day two started with a hunt for a beautiful sunrise.

IMG_9273 An and Chris wanted to capture the beauty of this colorful act on film & I wanted to see them at work!

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My younger sister, Angie, joined us. We thought walking toward the I Amsterdam letters would be a great way to start. Because it was early, we figured it wouldn’t be so crowded. We stopped at the Rijks Museum for a few fun shots before taking full advantage of the lonely letters & capturing moments around the park.

Amsterdam Winter Street Style*Above photo by Chris Dyer, courtesy of HautePinkPretty.com

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Soon, it was time to meet with my sister, Monica & her boyfriend, Chris, to check out the Van Gogh Museum. Photos were not allowed inside the museum… So, if you’re ever in Amsterdam, please go see the amazing pieces for yourself.
We quickly made a plan for the rest of the day that included a canal tour by boat & the Heineken Experience. The boat ride was amazing. The weather cooperated & we got to take in the beauty of my favorite city.

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The Heineken tour was so much fun. We played games, learned about the entire beer-making process, took some fun pictures in front of green screens & of course, we drank lots of beer!

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We all split up for a few hours and regrouped in the Red Light District. We met at a favorite local lounge of mine, where learned about sugar water & local grape candies (inside joke). Then, we walked the trademark territory & took in the “scenery” before saying goodnight.
We knew we’d have to say “doei” to A’dam in the afternoon… We had a train to Paris to catch and we all wanted to take advantage of our morning, so we needed a good night’s sleep.
This visit was a wonderful reminder of why I love this city so much…

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I hope you enjoyed this post. Stay tuned for more posts about my vacation that include Paris, Dubai & Abu Dhabi!

*Special thanks to Angie Salcedo, Monica Salcedo, Christopher Thompson, Chris Dyer & An Dyer for assistance with photos.

Read more details about our trip here and here, on An’s fashion blog, HautePinkPretty.com.