Monday, June 30, 2008


We got our fix of art and exquisite food in Florence, thereby making it our favorite city in Italy so far. After we visit Rome and Capri, we'll weigh in again.

The line at the Galleria dell'Accademia averaged 2 hours under the scorching sun. That was unacceptable to us so Jon put on his shadiest face and set out to bribe a sketchy tour guide. And the shadiness worked. We each paid an extra 5 euros, cut the line, and went straight to the most magnificent structure I've ever laid my eyes on - Michelangelo's David. An hour later, we exited the museum and found that the family who was standing behind me had moved up around the corner but had another hour to wait. That made paying a little more money more than worth it!

Today, Jon and I made a quick half-day trip to Cinque Terre, which are five villages along the coast of Italy. These small towns had so much flavor and are known for their dry, white wine, pesto, and anchovies. Don't know what got into us, or me, but I felt compelled to order an entire bottle of wine during dinner. It was AMAZING wine, but we couldn't even finish half the bottle. So we sent it to the table next to us, another American couple on vacation. They were elated and we were relieved to not have to waste a drop of it. Win-win, I'd say.

We're taking a train to Rome in a few hours. Since art class in undergrad, I've dreamed of seeing the Sistine Chapel. I hope it lives up to all the hype and my expectations.

Good night. Zzzzzz.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm afraid to step on the scale

Although there is nothing better than gnawing on a baguette from morning to night, I wasn't sure my body could handle ingesting massive amounts of enriched white flour. So we went to this reputedly fantastic restaurant for a real meal in Paris (5 days ago).

Raw scallops with a lemon-mango sauce.

My rule of thumb is to never order salmon at restaurants because it's so common and fairly easy to cook at home. But this was a fish restaurant after all so I made an exception. This turned out to be perrrrrrrrrrrrrrfectly pan-seared salmon! The center was shockingly tender and moist.

Jon ordered the rabbit and loved it. But I suspect he had food envy. I sort of like that =)

Lemon tart was so tasty. The top was similar to that of creme brulee.

Believe it or not...well, you can believe it because it's Jon, but after all that food, he still had room for Parisian gelato.

The next day, we sat at a lovely cafe for brunch and soaked in Paris. We had our first "celebrity" sighting: the Geico cavemen.

Extremely decadent hot chocolate. Not that I was complaining...

This was a tasty croissant but less so after finding out the cafe charged for the mini jam.

This creperie was just setting up when we got there (yup, right after brunch). We circled and circled and circled and monsieur was still not ready. But we relentlessly strolled the blocks and even bought subway tickets ahead of time.

Monsieur finally making our banana/Nutella crepe. Check out that tub of melted Nutella! We think that made a world of difference in the taste and texture of our crepe. But really now, when there's warm Nutella in your mouth, nothing could really go wrong.

See that twinkle in Jon's eyes? He used to look at me this way when we were dating. Ha!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

All we do is eat!

We needed a long break after walking through just half the Louvre so we went to an outdoor cafe to people watch. Everything's more fun in a little espresso cup.

Macaroon framboise (real raspberries!)...

My favorite combo - bread and a pound of melted cheese. I would've died a happy gal after this croque monsieur.


We thought it'd be a swell idea to rent a car in Aix-en-Provence so we could make the scenic drive to Cassis, Nice, Cannes, and Monte-Carlo. We get to Avis and thought it'd be easy getting our hands on an automatic. Apparently, we were too optimistic. So I shamelessly confessed that I had only driven stick a few of times over TEN years ago. She didn't seem concerned and ignored my comment. Next thing I know, madame pulls the car up and hands me the keys. I said I REALLY don't think I can do it, to which she replies, "You'll be fine. Just drive." Holy cow. My lips quivered a little but I took the keys from her anyway. She offered to show me how to drive it, which turned out to be a verbal lesson along the lines of "this is 1, then shift to 2, then 3 and so on. you listen to engine and then you shift. here is emergency brake. ok?" She smiled, hollered good luck, went back inside, and watched me in amusement. SOMEHOW, SOMEONE from above was watching over me, perhaps because I honestly admitted and even insisted I shouldn't be driving. Ah, but here I was on the road. I managed to get out of the parking lot into the street but immediately pulled to the side and put on the emergency lights. I think I really needed to breathe. I've never held my breath for longer than 5 seconds until then. So after all the cars passed by, I went for it. I can't say it was smooth or that Jon felt the least bit safe, but I got out of the darn city! The worst part was all the traffic and that minor moment on the hill when the car was sliding backwards, but we survived. Even got on the highway (in heavy traffic!) and got us to our next destination: the other Avis location to swap for an automatic!!!!

It was fun while it lasted. Made me want to get a manual car. But we are quite enthused about having the automatic for the rest of our time in France!!!

We're off to Monte-Carlo in the morning!

please keep all anti-gay comments off my obviously-p.c. blog. you guys know how pro gay I am. however, the mention of f*b is OK, if used in the right context.

Monday, June 23, 2008

parlez-vous anglais?

I'll admit it - I took more years of French than I want to reveal but the most French I've spoken so far has been to apologize for my bad French and to ask people if they speak English. Lame-O.

First glimpse of the pyramid, designed by I.M. Pei (most famous, obviously, for designing the achitectural masterpiece that is the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell), in front of the Louvre.

Leonardo da Vinci (most famous, obviously, for being named after one of the ninja turtles) paintings pointing us toward what is arguably his greatest work of art.

I have to say, it was a truly magnificent experience to FINALLY see the painting up close and personal........on the screens of other people's fancy digital cameras.

What's more f*b, an Asian taking a million pictures of other Asians, or an Asian taking a picture of another Asian taking a million pictures of other Asians?

Wait, I know what's more f*b:

I assure you, thankfully, NO ONE saw this. Thankfully.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

In Paris!

So far, so good. Well, except for that piece of luggage lost along the way. But looking to the brighter side of things, we ARE in France so not even this hiccup can bring us down.

This officially begins part I of my European carb tour (baguettes and croissants galore), not to mention all the cheese and chocolate in the world. And I'm always hungry so my relationship with complex carbohydrates works out juuuuust fine. I lick my lips and smile =)

Off to the Louvre...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

You know you're in California when...

...the sign says Welcome to California. Duh.

I suppose you also know when after 10 days of driving you finally see diamonds in the left lane indicating carpool because....

...there is SO MUCH traffic!

And lastly, you know you're in CA when you get searched by border patrol.

We got stopped at the border and patrol dude asked where we were traveling from. Jina (in the driver's seat) responded matter-of-factly, "We drove all the way across the country from New York." D'oh! Patrol dude suddenly became very curious, asked about the contents in our car, and said he wants to take a look at our trunk. With a bit of sass, Jina replied, "Fine, but good luck with that. Just make sure you shut it when you're done." Yes, JJ gave border patrol some attitude and he got completely flustered. I envy her audacity! After all, who says you have to fear authority?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Here goes!

I'm officially changing my blog name to

If you've stuck with me this far, you'll likely see this post in time before I switch. Same blog, different name, no theme. Just a chronicle of unsystematic thoughts.

Monday, June 16, 2008

my blogging future

While I am feeling a bit melancholy about the end of this road trip, I suppose all good things must come to an end. Bleh, did I just write that?

Well, I'm planning to continue this blog, just for kicks. I mean, aren't you curious about how long I can really keep this up for?!

Once I decide on a new name, I'll post it on here before I change the publishing address.

Did you know...

...that the rate of growth of the Mormon Church is highest in Latin America? Just one of MANY fascinating facts I learned on the mini private tour of the LDS conference center.

I've come to believe that Mormonism, aside from being a religion, is really a lifestyle that emphasizes strong family values. Mormons rock my world. Wellllll, almost as much as the Amish.

Night from Seattle!

p.s. The road trip wrap-up is still WIP but I'm giving myself an end-of-week deadline before I lose my audience completely.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hiatus for a few days

The last day of our road trip has yet to be shared with all. Coming soon!

I'm in denial that it's over. What now????

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Last night on our loooooooong drive from Salt Lake to Reno, Jina let out a scream. I had about a millisecond to question her sanity before I started screaming, too. Instead of slamming the brakes, I swerved to the right at 85mph and barely missed hitting the ugly creature staring into my headlights.

Julie: OMG OMG OMG, what was that?!?! (completely stupefied)
Jina: (dying of laughter) OMG OMG OMG. I KNOW it's not a deer; it was way too furry and its legs were too short!
Julie: (barely able to continue driving) OMG. It jumped! I think it was a kangaroo.
Jina: Are you serious?! How can that be?! They're only in Australia!
Julie: I swear it was!
Jina: No, it wasn't that big! Maybe it was a fox but its tail wasn't that bushy. It could've been a wild dog.
Julie: Dude, there aren't wild dogs out here!! I think it was a hyena.
Jina: Yeah!!!! Wait, don't hyenas live in Africa?!
Julie: Seriously?! Dude, I'm turning off cruise control.

At this point, Jina thinks I'm crazy and I lose all credibility. But we're DYING of laughter and it made our night.

(In a half-hearted attempt to defend myself, I think missing that kangaroo/hyena by a hair made me a bit oafish. I'd like to think that I'm not completely clueless about the animal kingdom.) Eh.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

11th Day - Home stretch

Jina and I are driving back to Cali. The drive will give us 4 solid hours of reflection.

10th - I'm moving to Utah...

What's with the salmonella outbreak?! My Whopper just didn't taste the same w/o a slice of tomato. My sister told me that Chipotle stopped serving salsa. What about all the Italian restaurants?! GASP.

We woke up to beautiful Park City and took a quick tour of the ski resort town. The Utahians are very proud of 2002's Winter Olympic Games.

Our walk down Main Street led us to this sign. How appropriate!

This newfoundland was so bearish. I want a dog!

Onto SLC to visit Temple Square...

How incredibly beautiful is this!

View from the rooftop garden of the LDS Conference Center.

The Great Salt Lake. We learned that the very appropriately named Salt Lake is 8 times saltier than the sea. Very cool.

The sunset on our 500-mile drive to Reno from SLC.

Our VERY last night (so sad) on this road trip needed to end with a bang. So we checked into the brand new Peppermill Tuscany Towers in Reno at a jawdropping low rate.

Toasting to our fabulous and very memorable road trip...

More to come....

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Day #9 - Dude, Utah rocks!

For comparison purposes, this was our motel last night. Everything else was sold out because a rodeo was in town and this was all we could find.

What's the deal with the stains on this chair? Eww.

Tonight is a different story. Back to the Hampton Inn!!!!


Today Jina and I visited Arches National Park. The sun was shining, the sky was clear.

I love national parks! This is one of the best in the country.

These rock formations are a result of erosion due to severe weather over millions of years.

The Balanced Rock.

We thought these rocks looked like the Apostles...or chess pieces...or Chinese Buddha dudes.

A monkey!

Look hard. It's a rhino!

And our personal favorite...a binomial distribution! You can even see the upper and lower limits. I think Jina misses core stats class.

After days and days of driving and stopping to take hundreds and hundreds of photos, it was time to get OUT of the car. The 3-mile hike to see the Delicate Arch was a nice change of pace. Once we got up to the arch though, we were back to taking hundreds of photos.

A soaring common raven.

Is our height difference really that drastic?! Totally an optical illusion, right? Right???

The architectural beauty of the Arch in St. Louis is undeniable. But I can't even begin to fathom the events that took place to form this arch. If you get a chance to visit Utah, definitely take a day or two to visit Arches Nat'l Park.

We drove to Park City for the night and had dinner at Ruby Tuesday. Thank goodness for veggies.

Monday's plans: explore Park City and SLC. I'm SO excited to see the Temple. It's been 17 years since I first laid eyes on it.

P.S. Go Celtics! The husband doesn't want to hear it but I hope the Lakers don't win the championship.