IlluminOcean Christmas Lights in Dana Point

The IlluminOcean festival in Dana Point California has a display of over 225,000 LED lights on 18 oversized light sculptures. Admission to IlluminOcean is free and is a great way to spend an evening during the holiday season to enjoy some neat Christmas Lights. You’ll even get some exercise, because the walk through the lights from beginning to end is about a mile long.

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Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora Review

I stayed at the Rome Marriott Grand Flora Hotel in Rome Italy for 4 nights and did a video review of the hotel grounds and a two twin bed room.

If you’d like to see what the what the hotel and room looks like then check out the video here:

The Rome Marriott Grand Flora Hotel is located on Via Veneto, about a 7 minute walk (uphill) from the Barberini Subway station. To get to the hotel I took the Leonardo Express Airport Train (14 Euro) to Termini Station, and then walked (about 20 minutes) to the hotel. Via Veneto is one of the most famous streets in Rome and is home to quite a few upscale hotels. The Marriott has a perfect location at the top of the hill, so there are superb views from the rooftop restaurant.

The hotel has ~150 rooms on 7 floors. The hotel is built around a central courtyard. If you want a quiet room, ask for one facing the courtyard. I had a room facing the courtyard and I honestly didn’t hear a single sound from outside my room. I booked a “smaller room” from the website (one twin bed). But as Platinum member I was upgraded to a slightly larger room with two twin beds (looks like a king bed because they are right next 2 each other). Even so, the room was still on the “small” side, but very functional. The A/C worked well, the windows opened, and the bathroom had great water pressure. What else can you ask for in a hotel? Oh… and it had a heated towel rack! :)

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Funaya Onsen Hotel Review

I stayed at the Funaya Onsen Hotel in Matsuyama Japan for 1 night and did a video review of the hotel grounds and a Japanese Style room.

If you’d like to see what the what the hotel and room looks like then check out the video here:

Funaya is a traditional Japanese style Onsen (hot-spring) hotel with 68 rooms. It is located in Matsuyama Japan, in the Dogo Onsen neighborhood. If you are driving, the hotel provides free valet parking. If you are taking the train, it is a short 5 minute walk from the Dogo Onsen train station. It is also very near (5 minute walk) to the historic Dogo Onsen public bath.

The hotel is composed of two buildings, the one with the lobby and most of the hotel rooms, and a second building that has the hot spring baths. The two buildings are connected by an elevated/enclosed bridge that crosses over a stream and a Japanese garden. The Onsens are located on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the other building. Men and Women alternate between which bath they use depending upon the time of the day. Outside of the 2nd floor bath is a nice resting area with complimentary ice tea.

You can book the room with or without dinner. We booked the room rate with the “Fusion” dinner. While the food was good, from beginning to end it took about 2 hours. They bring each course one at a time, so be prepared to do a bit of waiting for your food to be freshly cooked and prepared. The below video is of the dinner:

The room itself was one of the largest rooms that I’ve ever stayed at in Japan. It had a large main “sleeping” room (where you sleep on futons), a room off to the side where they would slide the table from the main room when you are sleeping, a sitting room by the window, a dressing room, and a “3-room” bathroom (toilet, sink, bath).

Overall I really enjoyed my stay at Funaya. The Onsen was great, the room was quiet, and the service was excellent. It wasn’t cheap, but it was well worth it!

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Best Night Markets in Taipei Taiwan

A travel guide to the the best Night Markets in and around Taipei Taiwan including Shilin Night Market, Raohe Night Market, Ningxia Night Market, Keelung Night Market, and Huaxi St Night Market. Night markets in Taiwan are famous for their xiaochi (small eats). They are a great place to visit for an evening and have a walking feast.

A walkthrough of the Roahe Night Market:

A walkthrough of the Shilin Night Market Food Court:

A travel guide for visiting Keelung Night Market:

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Renaissance Naruto Resort Review

I stayed at the Renaissance Naruto Resort in Naruto Japan 1 night and did a little video review of the hotel grounds and a two twin-bed room.

If you’d like to see what the what the hotel and room looks like then check out the video here:

The Renaissance Naruto Resort is located on the coast in Naruto, very close to the famous Naruto whirlpools (about a 5-10 minute drive). If you are planning to stay here, I would highly recommend a rental car, as there isn’t much of anything within walking distance of the hotel. The hotel has a total of 208 guestrooms, all of them are oceanfront. There are beaches on both sides of the hotel, but directly in front of the hotel are just some concrete blocks.

The property has two different Onsens, Japanese Hot-Spring Baths, one on the first floor, and the other on the eighth floor with a bit of an ocean-view. Outside is a small kidney bean shaped swimming pool. Other interesting things on property include “Naruto Fishland” where you can fish in a small man-made pond, or you can pet some turtles.

As a platinum member I received free breakfast, with a choice of the downstairs “western” restaurant, or the upstairs Japanese buffet. I picked the Japanese buffet because that’s where everybody seemed to be. It was pretty good, just don’t expect pancakes or anything of that sort :). There are a couple of other restaurants on property, including a Japanese BBQ.

The room itself was clean and quiet. It had 2 beds, a little sofa, desk. Two bottles of complementary water, two fans, and a Renaissance Naruto mascot “zipper pull” were provided on the coffee table. In the dresser underneath the television they provided the Yukatas, to be worn when you visit the Onsen.

Overall I really enjoyed my stay, and would highly recommend the Renaissance Naruto Resort for anyone visiting Naruto.

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Hilton Hawaiian Village Video Review

I recently stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu Hawaii for 5 nights and did a video review of the grounds and a room in the Tapa Tower.

If you’d like to see what the hotel grounds, beach, and pools look like then check out the video here:

If you’d like to see what the Shopping and Dining is like then check out the video here:

If you’d like to see what the room in the Tapa Tower looks like then check out the video here:

A video on Friday Evening’s Rainbow Revue (A hula inspired show):

Friday Fireworks:

The Hilton Hawaiian Village is truly a mega-hotel — it’s the largest hotel in the Hilton Chain and the 18th largest hotel in the world with over 3,300 rooms. The hotel is located on the North-Western edge of Waikiki, close to the Ala Moana Shopping Center. To walk from the hotel to the “center” of Waikiki takes about 15-20 minutes.

The hotel has six tower buildings, six pools, 90 shops, 20 restaurants, a lagoon, and a beach. So as you can tell — there’s a ton of stuff to see and do on this property. They also feature a nightly Luau Sun-Thurs, and fireworks shows on Friday nights at 7:45 pm. For the best view of the fireworks show, pay $20 to watch the “Rockin’ Rainbow Revue” at the Super Pool at 7pm on Friday. You’ll have a seat by the pool, and the fireworks start immediately after the show.

There’s a big parking garage in the middle of the property, so self parking is pretty easy. They advertise a rate of $27/night for self parking, but I was only charged $18/night for parking. Valet is of course also available.

The lobby is this not-really-indoor / not-really-outdoor space. It’s basically a covered area with a roof but no walls. Check-in for the most of the resort occurs at this central lobby, but some of the towers have their own check-in desks.

A a Hilton HHonors Gold+ member you have the option of of 1,000 points (one time) or a $10 food credit per day per person. The food credit is really the way to go. You don’t have to spend the food credit all in one day as it is a cumulative credit.

We got a room on the 31st floor of the Tapa Tower. The views were really awesome from that level, but the wait for elevators was a huge time-sink. Going up to our room we regularly had to wait “in-line” for multiple elevators before we could get in one to go up. Going up to the room to get something we forgot and coming back down to ground level could be 15-minutes of time wasted.

The room itself was a typical Hilton room, nothing particularly noteworthy or outstanding about it.

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Whirlpools of Naruto Japan

The city of Naruto in Japan is famous for it’s naturally occurring whirlpools. This travel guide highlights the options for viewing the whirlpools including on a boat, the Wonder Naruto, and from land at the Naruto National Park.

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Llama Walk at ShangriLlama

ShangriLlama is a private Llama farm that offers Llama Walks. On a 3 hour Llama Walk you get to walk five different Llamas and learn all about Llamas in the process. Quite a fun activity!

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Hong Kong Park

A travel guide for visiting Hong Kong Park in the Central District of Hong Kong. Hong Kong Park is popular for Tai Chai, the Conservatory, and a walk-through Aviary with 80+ species of birds.

To get to Hong Kong Park take the MTR to Admiralty Station, Exit C1. Follow the signs up the escalator to Hong Kong Park.


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Giovannis Shrimp Truck

Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck on the North Shore of Oahu in Haleiwa & Kahuku has some of the best Shrimp in Hawaii! The Garlic Shrimp Scampi is truly delicious! If you are visiting Oahu, Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is a must eat!

For more pictures of Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck visit ocgirl’s blog

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