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Summer Vacation: Southern California


August was flying by and the only thing I could think about was wanting to go on vacation. I had two choices: A.) I would fly back to Chicago for a week or B.) I would send my friend to California for a week. As you could probably tell from the title of the post, I decided to choose the latter and spent a week doing a staycation. Luckily, I managed to swoop a deal off of Priceline (note: this is the first time I have ever reserved anything with them) and booked a trip for the second to last week of August - roughly a week before the trip would occur. Martin and I reserved a place at the Doubletree Hotel in Orange/Anaheim, located near The Outlets at Orange. While the hotel itself is quite nice, do note that parking is a whopping $15/night and at times there would be an overflow where you would have to park in the parking structure. Aside from that, the hotel also does not include a mini fridge in the hotel room nor does it have complimentary wi-fi for you to use. Luckily we were not too upset over the last few details just because we were able to pop back at my house to drop off groceries or to use the internet.
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As soon as my friend landed via Spirit Airlines (never again will we book with them - I will explain again later on in this post), we decided to get breakfast since the two of us were running on empty stomachs. Unlike Chicago, Orange County does not have a lot of local breakfast places to choose from - so I took him to Denny’s. After one heaping breakfast, we went ahead and walked around Albertsons to grab groceries for my mom and ourselves and proceeded to head back to my house where he met my mother for the first time. We hung out at my house for a while playing the Black Ops 3 Beta for Playstation 4 to kill time before heading out to the hotel to check in for our reservation. Before we knew it, it was already dinner time and my friend requested to go to In-N-Out - a prime destination for non-West Coast residers to try. Unfortunately, as I had suspected it to turn out, we were both disappointed by our meals. I do not eat fast food quite often and while everyone raves about In-N-Out, this time around it just was not great. To change the scenery, we rerouted my navigation system to West Hollywood to see Sunset Blvd. in the evening. This is where we had a beer and pretzel and watched as expensive automobiles drove by at State Social House. The beer was good, the pretzel was alright, but the service was kind of crappy.
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The next morning, we decided to sleep in given that we were out late the previous night. I decided to take my friend to The Market Place to try out Romano’s Macaroni Grill. We made it in time for their $10 lunch special which included an appetizer, a salad and an entree of our choice. I will have to say, it was really good and we had fun trying to draw each other with the crayons provided. A quick nap later, we spent a good amount of time trying to figure out where to eat for dinner. My friend found Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen in Orange and we headed off to the old roundabout where parking was ample and the wait was a quick 20 minutes. We ordered quite a bit of food, but it was all extremely delicious. I highly recommend it if you want to try a twist on Mexican food.
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On Saturday, my friend wanted to cross something off of his to-do list while he was visiting California and that was to visit Paul Walker’s crash site, something that I have yet to do because of the long drive. We were not as hungry as we thought we were going to be since we ate quite a bit Friday evening so we hopped into my car and headed off to Santa Clarita to the crash site. To this day, there were still flowers, signs and memorabilia left behind honoring Paul Walker. It was a quiet and saddening feeling seeing all the notes that were left behind for him. To continue our Paul Walker trip, we stopped by Bob’s Market, which was used to film in the first few Fast & Furious movies as the Toretto’s Market & Cafe. We also managed to locate the original house that Dominic Toretto lived in before it got (spoiler alert) blown up in Furious 7. After an eventful drive, we worked up an appetite and decided to head to The Habit to chow down on some charbroiled burgers and delicious fries. A few selfies later, we were on our way back to the hotel which happened to be located next to a Krispy Kreme - we just had to make a stop there for the mister. Later into the evening and a generous nap, we decided to go to Dave & Buster’s (not photographed) so that I could beat my friend in a few arcade games. Unfortunately, I came up short and he beat me at everything and tied me in air hockey. We worked up, yet again, our appetite and drove to the nearest Wendy’s where I had my first bite of the asiago chicken sandwich and let me tell you - it was amazing.
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Sunday snuck up on us and it was the final full day of my friend’s visit. For a lunch (we slept in, yet again) we decided to eat some Thai food at Imperial Thai Cuisine in Anaheim. They happened to be serving a lunch special which included a soup, salad, rice and entree of our choice. To start, my friend ordered the two of us crab rangoons which practically melted in my mouth. After we filled our stomach with probably one of the best Thai food I have had in a while, we headed off to Best Buy where my friend generously bought Mortal Kombat X for the two of us to play. We headed to my house and played a round of NBA 2K15 and Mortal Kombat X before joining my mother to dinner at Kim Su for authentic Chinese food (not photographed). We enjoyed our time and chatted about the differing lifestyles in Vietnam and Macedonia before we packed up the leftovers and head out to Bambu Desserts & Drinks to get boba for everyone.
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Monday, unfortunately, arrived and I helped my friend pack his bags as we got ready to check out of the hotel. Luckily the hotel check out was smooth and they did not overcharge for a single thing. We decided on having breakfast at The Original Pancake House in Anaheim, where the wait was roughly 30-35 minutes. Our meal was so good that my friend ended up finishing everything on his plate. We spent the remainder of our time at my house where I watched my friend play Black Ops 3 before the beta was over. My friend's flight was scheduled for 5:55PM and we promptly left my house at 2PM to quickly grab a Razer DeathAdder Chroma mouse for my friend (my departure gift to him including a Razer DeathStalker keyboard) from Fry’s Electronics. As soon as we were half way to LAX, my friend received an e-mail from Spirit Airlines stating that they had cancelled his flight and delayed it to 7PM and eventually to 9PM. We headed back to my house for more video games and my friend and I enjoyed the leftovers from Kim Su. Luckily traffic eased up around 7PM and we headed out once again to LAX.
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 Until next time!