NAB Las Vegas

I came. I saw. I did NOT conquer. I tagged along to the NAB convention with my friend and her husband. But before NAB started we had a fun day with my friend and another friend.

I flew out from Oakland on Southwest – always an enjoyable and fast flight from Oakland. My flight arrived 20 minutes early at McCarran Airport. I arrived in terminal 1 so I had to get over to terminal 3 for my friends – they flew JetBlue. There is a terminal transfer bus that comes like every 15-30 minutes. Im not sure why it doesnt come more quickly, because it was only like a 5 minute ride from one to the other. Terminal 3 was DEAD. I walked in and didnt see a soul other than the people who were on the transfer bus with me. I walked over to the baggage claim that is JetBlue’s to wait for them.

Once they arrived, NAB had a badge check in at the terminal, so we grabbed our badges and headed out to catch our Uber. We headed to our Airbnb. Our Uber driver was super friendly, he drove us to the house, we dropped our bags (we got there early and it wasnt ready yet) and then took us to the Container Park for some food. He actually recommended another place but the line was far too long. We got some tacos and walked around. The Container Park was a pretty cool place, little shops, little restaurants and a park to entertain the children. I would recommend swinging by – its at the end of Fremont Street Experience, two blocks down.

After lunch we headed out to Fremont Street so I could do some gambling! Kristi and I tried our hand at Roulette – she won a couple bucks, I lost. We were heading out and she put $20 into a Wheel of Fortune machine and won a couple more bucks! The lucky streak was on Kristi’s side!! After our quick gambling experience, we snagged an Uber and headed to a grocery store to grab some grub for our quick 2 night stay. Our driver was awesome! She waited for us to shop and then we were able to walk out, load the car and then head off to the Airbnb and check it out.

Turns out, our Airbnb really is a party house. It was apparently advertised as such, but the pictures didnt necessarily represent what we got. This is for sure one of the risks with Airbnb. The condition of the house isnt all that great – tons of beds, randomly created rooms with many beds. It was picked because we each get our own room – so thats a perk!! And we havent spent any time there really.

We came, settled in and then had to head out to the Tournament of Kings at Excalibur. Kristi’s brother is in the show and he got us tickets to check it out. Sadly, he wasnt performing last night, but we enjoyed the free meal and the show. We got called out for not being excited enough and had to act excited in front of the whole audience. The experience is like Medieval Times. For the meal you get a cup of tomato soup, a Cornish game hen, potatoes, broccoli, a biscuit, and apple cobbler- but no silverware! Which means you sip the soup and no butter for the biscuit! Hen was a bit dry (ok lots of dry) but I was hungry, so I finished most of the white meat. The soup was the best part for sure!! The show was pretty good!

After the show we headed back to the Airbnb for the evening. Getting ready for another day in Vegas.

Today we got up and we all had to work – conference calls and paperwork. We had a picnic outside near the pool because the weather is just fabulous here this week. After our morning at the house we headed over to NAB.

I had no idea what to expect!! And I wasnt ready!!It is the largest convention in Vegas – anywhere from 90 – 100,000 people show up for this show. The National Association of Broadcasting. So many people!! They take up the ENTIRE convention center at Las Vegas Convention Center. People come from all over the world for this. We saw like a tour guide set up from Asia. There was a lady with the flag for the group and then another gentleman who was translating for the rest of the group who had ear pieces in their ear.

We spent only a few hours walking through the South Hall portion and about 45 minutes in the Central Hall. We only saw about 20% of the show!! And thats just seeing – not even learning, just SEEING!! So many languages, so many people, so much technology.

We left for a late lunch and headed to Maggianos! I love that place!! Apparently many locals dont go there, but the food is consistent, and if you have a food allergy they take it very seriously. Its a great place!

We went to the North Las Vegas outlet mall after lunch. It’s a big mall that allows plenty of shopping! We got our 10,000 steps in between the two places today – and I spent far too much money on things I dont really need at the outlet mall.

Sadly tomorrow is just a day of work before we have to head to the airport and back to reality!

Iceland

Looking to head to Iceland – to see what the hype is all about? Here are some things you should keep in mind!

  • Almost everyone speaks English (but you should get the Google Translate App just in case to read signs, packaging, instructions, etc)
  • They take American Express! Random fact, but it can be difficult to find an Amex accept-er outside the US. And here they take it! (Check your credit cards and debit cards to see who has the best/lowest international transaction fees)
  • Their gas stations only take debit card or cash – or a credit card with a pin! Many gas stations are unmanned, but the system is pretty much self explanatory. Keep in mind, it works exactly like the US – it verifies you have enough to cover a FULL tank (or you can pick a smaller set amount) and then you only actually pay what you use.
  • Many gas stations have a grocery store or restaurant in the parking lot or very near. Utilize them! Food is very expensive here – your best bet is to stock up on snacks and food that you can cook at your Airbnb or Hostel.
  • Bringing your own reusable bags will come in handy as well. Iceland is actually very green (reusable energy, recycling, minimal waste, etc) Lauren recommends these. They are silicon, water resistant (think phone in wet situations), and perfect for holding sandwiches, oatmeal (bowl on the run), cut veggies, etc. They also take up like no room in your luggage to get here!
  • The weather really can change every 5 minutes. It may sound crazy, but the weather there can be unpredictable and random. From snow to sleet to rain to sun – expect it all and expect it all in an hour.
  • Bring gloves in the winter – the amount of times your hands spend out them taking pictures is almost equal to the amount of time your hands are in them – but your little fingers will thank you for the warmth.
  • Get out of Reykjavik. In most cases its actually cheaper to rent a car than to take the day tours out of the city. There is so much more to see outside of the city (like the rest of the entire island) so get out and explore the hidden gems of this beautiful country.
  • If you rent the car, get at least the gravel protection – they offer a million different plans, but the gravel protection is the most useful. This is especially true if you go North in the country.
  • Make a list of the things you want to see and on your way to see them you will end up seeing even more than you planned. Be prepared to have your plans altered due to weather.
  • Many of the attractions here are free – unless you do a tour – so take advantage of that and see all you can!
  • Unless you do tours, I would recommend about $75-100 a day for budgeting purposes once you are on your trip. You will probably come home with money (unless you drink a lot or do tours) but this would cover food, gas and souvenirs.
  • I would budget about $50-100/night for housing. Using Airbnb gives you options – but if you are traveling solo you are looking at $100-150/night for Airbnbs. In that case I would use hostels (they have many) to save some cash. If you can really splurge on your trip stay at FossHotels – primo properties with modern flare!
  • You can really only find true more, American style hotels in Reykjavik – otherwise they are more like guest houses. They may call themselves hotels – but they may only be 6-8 room quarters, some you even have communal WC.
  • Stores close pretty early here, usually between 6-7pm. Restaurants are open later usually until about 10pm. If you want groceries or to shop, get out early!
  • No need to tip! Another nice benefit of leaving the US is not needing to tip – there is a service charge in your price, so just swipe, sign and walk!

Ice Ice Baby…

Our fancy hotel last night came with a free breakfast – and it was just perfect. We basically got exactly what we wanted. In true “European” fashion we got museli, granola, yogurt, juice, bread, etc. Lauren even had Oat Milk!! Iceland is for sure winning for people with food allergies or food restrictions!

After our great breakfast we packed up the car (surprisingly enough that was still in one piece and NOT covered in feet of snow) and hit the road. Our goal today was to get to Hofn for our Airbnb stay – and of course stop at all the fabulous things along the way.

First stop? Wool factory! Turns out there wasnt much to see, but we did get a view from above it and got to see how the mass produce sweaters and socks.

The grocery store was right next to the wool factory so we grabbed a few more things before we hit the road. In the 45 minutes or so we were in the store and factory it had started to snow again. Apparently Lauren had advised me that this was going to happen (I do not recall this). The snow was coming down at a nice pace and it was kind of windy. But we had to stop at the black sand beach. So, even in the snow and cold and wind we hit the beach!

After collecting some black sand to take home (because, free and why not) we hit the road for the “long” two hour drive to the next stop: Glacier lagoon. Our drive was pretty intense for the first hour or two – lots of snow and wind and then BOOM, it was all clear again. A drive in Iceland is not without waterfalls and beautiful scenery so we stopped quite a bit to take it all in! (and of course some side-of-the-road modeling action)

We seriously enjoyed our drive today – lots of driving (about 4 hours of actual driving and about 4 hours of stopping and exploring). We saw the largest glacier in Europe (apparently Iceland is considered Europe) and it was huge. Our drive included parts of the glacier for over 2 hours! It’s bright blue color was always catching our eyes and we couldnt help but stop and stare. However, the most magical part of the day came at the Glacial Lagoon. It was just so beautiful we took lots of pictures and had lots of time to stop and stare at its beauty. This does not get enough attention – I hadnt heard about it until two days ago!

The Glacial Lagoon was about halfway for the driving today. However there wasnt much to see from the Glacial Lagoon to Hofn. So we drove about an hour and found our Airbnb. Since we couldnt make it last night due to weather our host had switched our location and we won that deal. We ended up with a “studio” instead of a shared house. We have our own cute little kitchen, bedroom, bath, and living room. And the owners did it all themselves, even the heated concrete floors!! (this by the way is a must here).

We hit the town (downtown proper) of Hofn, scoped out the tiny little town and then headed to, what else? Geothermal spa!! Because we have decided that is the right thing to do in Iceland. And this spa had GLACIAL VIEWS!! After the spa was dinner – and lemme tell ya, YUMMY!! I had lobster (teeny tiny little lobsters here). Lobster tempura, baked lobster; Lauren had a veggie burger – VEGAN style!! And it was all soooo good!! Tomorrow is still up in the air, whether we get to go North or South on the island – hopefully North so we can see the rest of the Island.

Shhh….it’s a secret lagoon

Man oh man did we sleep good. I woke up in the middle of the night with an aching back, but thats pretty normal at home, so nothing unexpected. We basically slept until about 930 this morning – it was great. We packed our bags and hit the road for the start of our ROAD TRIP!!

First stop – Tomato Greenhouse Lunch. Sounds a little strange, but man that was a great lunch. Basically it is a green house that grows tomatoes – 70% of all of Iceland’s tomatoes come from them. Glad Lauren decided to make reservations because it was a crazy place by the time we left. We opted for the unlimited “Famous Tomato Soup.” The soup was pretty much just tomato puree, and it was fabulous. So good!! It came with unlimited homemade bread as well, and I was full after 4 slices and 2 bowls!! They had tomato beer, tomato, unique blood mary’s, tomato ice cream, tomato pie – all things tomato!! We only had the soup and bread – everything else was a bit scary sounding. Anyway, you are eating IN the greenhouse! Its active and while we were there people were trimming the vines. It was so cool! We saw the pollinating bees they use and saw their pretty looking honey too. 

After lunch we wandered to their horse pastures. They were so funny looking – all fuzzy and then it looked like their tummies were shaved. (We found out later thats where they start molting from).

After lunch we ventured off to Bruarfoss falls. It was supposed to be a quick hike to the falls – turns out you have to park much farther away and it became a 4.4 mile round trip hike!! But it was pretty and it was nice to stretch our legs. Just an FYI I have no boots and it was fine, but almost every other person on the walk was in boots, some even in snow pants….

After our much longer than expected falls hike we headed to the Secret Lagoon. I guess I should say it was earlier in the day we started to get worried because we hadnt heard from our Airbnb host. I had messaged him yesterday and today was still radio silence. Right before the hike I decided to email Airbnb because we needed to check in today and still had no information on this place. After our hike we realized he had a message from him. While I glanced over it, the main thing I gathered from it was that we needed to be near the Secret Lagoon. And since we are now Lagoon addicts we decided to head that way!. 

The Secret Lagoon was much different than the Blue Lagoon. Lets just say you get to see more of people than the average person desires. When entering lagoons they want you to shower – naked – before you get in them. So yesterday it was put your suit on, go into shower stall, take your suit off, shower, put suit back on, and enter lagoon. Today it was strip down naked and go shower then put your suit on and head to the lagoon. I LOVE clothes. I dont really need to see myself or anyone else naked – ever really. Anyway had to figure out a way to do it. It was tough, but we got it done. The lagoon was much smaller than the blue lagoon but much more quaint and quiet. We really enjoyed the atmosphere at the Secret Lagoon. We met some sisters and chatted with them while we were floating around the lagoon. 

The sisters gave us lots of ideas to check out on our Southern Icelandic drive. They have a Glacier lagoon and another glacier you can climb on (all for a fee of course). So we will be checking out lots of stuff on our drive!

We were at the lagoon for a couple hours and we decided to head out and grab something from like a gas station for dinner (They have gourmet gas stations apparently). When we got outside we went to put the Airbnb in the gps and planned to stop on the way….turns out we are STAYING AT THE SECRET LAGOON!! Our Airbnb had a problem apparently and they put us at the Secret Lagoon guest house!! And what makes that even better is that we get to go back to the lagoon in the morning FOR FREE!! Woohoo!! So we are enjoying our night by Lauren kicking my butt in Monopoly!!

Singa-poor

Today I learned how expensive it is to live in Singapore. That list you can find at the bottom of this entry. Makes me think I make Really, really good money and that I should stop complaining how expensive it is to buy in California. Anyway….back to my day.

Had a nice slow morning, it is Saturday after all. Had some breakfast and headed out to find the BattleBox. The BattleBox is a bunker from WWII and the Allied troops. Google said it was about a 25 minute walk away, and Google is good. Like it wasn’t 25 minutes of walking, it was about 15, The rest of the time was waiting for the damn walk sign to light up. And man do people give you a look if you cross with no cars coming. But since I have yet to see a police officer I figured I’d take the looks.

I Took the 50 or so steps up to the road that led to the bunker. I didn’t know much about it other than this is where the Allies made the decision to surrender to the Japanese.

You couldn’t take pictures inside (for the life of me I can’t figure out why, nothing is original) so I’ll do my best to make this the least boring explanation.

The bunker had 29 rooms all about 9 meters underground (~27 feet). The Allies cut the top of the hill off to build the bunker then put the top back on. They also had an office building and barracks on the site. The walls were about 3 feet thick with big steal doors in between each room. They even had air purification systems down there. It was designed for 90 days of bunker time and designed to withstand and air raid or a gas attack. Ok least boring!! Or so I hope.

Anyway, I ate the tour up. I learned so much!! So did this like 9 year old German kid. We were always the first two to each room and to ask questions. Our guide was great. She had more knowledge than just the tour, She was able to ask every question we threw at her.

After the bunker I decided to take a hop on hop off your again. They have a 7 route option. They do whatever it takes to upsell you. The last two routes take you to the zoo….on a shuttle. But whatever. I took the longest route and it took about 2 hours. This is where I learned all the fascinating facts about how expensive Singapore is.

The tour was great. They provided facts and historical information. I really enjoyed it. It started raining at one point but it was so sunny out I couldn’t figure out where the rain was coming from.

Anyway after the tour ended I was hot I headed back to the hotel.  It was about 4 by the time I got back. I cooled down and headed to dinner around 6. I realized this is my last night in Asia and so I opted for some Thai. I love Thai food. Hasn’t gotten old yet. But I did want olive garden and that’s not the same haha!!

After dinner I was walking back to the hotel when I saw the famous foot massage chairs through a window. I got so excited. I inquired on pricing and almost balked, but decided $60 for a 40 minute foot massage and 20 minute neck massage was worth it. And it was fabulous. So great I’m going back tomorrow for an extra long (40 minute) neck massage. You sit in the chairs and to me that’s almost more comfortable than the table because my back doesn’t have to be flat on a surface.

Headed back to the hotel, face timed with Cali and did some packing. Gonna do my massage in the morning, meet the Jungle Boys for lunch then head to the airport to go home….if I did my math right (and I’m sure I didnt) the 29th of April will be 41 hour extravaganza!! I’m looking forward to being served cold water, no humidity and my dog!!

Things I learned about owning a car:

1. Every 4 days certificates are released based on the number of cars de-certified. You have to bid for this certificate. It is not unusual for it to cost in excess of $40,000 USD, this price DOES NOT include the car.

2. Singapore has an import tarriff of 100% on every car imported.

3. They have electronic rate sections of the city. As in you have to pay a fee to drive on certain roads.

4. Singapore is the number 2 exporter of used cars, second only to Japan.

5. Reason? That certificate is only good for 10 years, then you lose it and the car must go.

6. There are no old cars in Singapore.

Things I learned about property:

1. 25% of Singapore is reclaimed land. As in they imported sand to make new land (reclaimed from the water??) This new land is what the new financial district is being built on currently. Buildings are tall, sparkly and new.

2. Because of all this importing of sand, property prices are even more expensive.

3. The government subsidized housing. Almost 85% of the population of singapore lives in government subsidized housing.

4. Airbnb is banned in Singapore. As is any less than 6 month rental.