Monday, November 30

ex Au Pair, 17º mês | OR ☆ AK ☆ WA Vancouver♥

A Frozen Thanksgiving...
Even though this has been the most warm Fall of all since my first one here, this Thanksgiving was definitely the coldest. Do you wanna know why?????
Because I spent it in Alaska!!! The November trip was again with Mike and we visited the 3 states left of all the 50 American states... yes...now I can say...
"I've been to every single state in the U.S.!" #highfiveObama =D
We started this last trip on a Wednesday, flying from NY to Portland, Oregon. It took us almost 6 hours and our favorite part was when being over Montana, a very mountainous state.
From the airport, we took a taxi to downtown - but we shouldn't have - because there is a $5 train that does the same thing and we didn't know =/ Ok, now you know! We asked to be dropped off at Lan Su Chinese Garden but it had just been temporarily closed for renovation... Next, we walked to Voodoo Doughnuts a must stop if you visit Portland, OR.
ORIGINAL: 239 NW Everett St
There was a half hour line outside the store, but it was worth the wait, they are very delicious, cheap and the brand has the best slogan ever: "Good things come in pink boxes" *-*
After eating, we took that amazing train to the huge Washington park. From the front of the zoo we started our hiking trail towards the Rose Garden
We made it in 40 minutes and the whole way was so much fun because Mike really loves hiking! 
Right next to the Rose Test Garden that by the way must be gorgeous in Spring, there is a Japanese Garden but just like the Chinese one, was closed for renovations. After, we took the train again to go see the largest bookstore in the world called Powell's Books. It was already dark when we got there... That place is huge! very organized and has every book you can imagine. I bought for $5 "The Wedding" from my favorite, Nicholas Sparks. We left the bookstore walking towards the famous Portland bridges for pictures at the Waterfront park. Then we had a nice dinner at Bottle+Kitchen and finally took the train back to the airport!  
We spent the rest of the night flying and trying to sleep on the plane...
Thursday, we woke up in Alaska! It was snowing and freezing... and dark! The day light was only from 10am to 3pm. 
We took a taxi from the tiny Fairbanks airport to downtown and had a very yummy breakfast at a family restaurant called Airport Way and from there another taxi took us to Walmart, the only opened store since it was Thanksgiving... I wanted to buy some souvenirs :) 
We were also killing some time because the shuttle that would take us to the resort was picking us up only at 11am...
It took an hour from downtown to Chena Hot Springs Resort, now one of our favorite places ^^
The ride was beautiful, it felt like we were driving through a post card, very scenic and the Alaskan lady who drove the shuttle was very informative, she also didn't feel cold, no jackets for her, it was being a warm Thanksgiving (28ºF).......
The first thing we did when we got there, was sign in for all the activities we had planned on doing during our stay.
Our room wasn't ready for checking in yet, so we started the first one, which was visiting the Aurora Ice Museum, a tour included in our package. Everything in there was made of ice... I was freezing in there, feeling like I was inside Elsa's ice castle Lol But it was fun, specially when sitting at the bar and drinking an apple martini from an ice glass #verycool
This tour lasted 45min and right after we took another one also included, called the Geothermal Renewable Energy Tour that shows and explains how they grow food in there even though it's most of the time very cold.
They have some farm animals that stay inside a heated barn and for vegetables, different color of lights help them to grow.
After this tour, we went to the room, and because we got a Romantic Gateway package, we received a welcome champagne basket with souvenir glasses.. we also had a late check out and dinner and breakfast included, so it was definitely a good deal! 
Because it was only 4pm (already very dark out!) we decided to go swimming, I mean, I only went soaking in the water.. and please don't mind my shower cap but I didn't want to get my hair wet and it was a little bit snowing =p How fantastic is the hot springs, a natural outdoor lake... It was a really relaxing experience. I don't know what was the temperature in there but Mike got really hot, so sometimes he would just touch the snow to cool himself off Lol
We got very hungry after, and because it was Thanksgiving night, the resort had a special dinner for their guests! (PS.: remembering myself in Hawaii, when the 2nd language option wasn't Spanish like it is in the rest of the country, but Mandarin like it is in HI... omg there were SO many Asians!)
Dinner was great, very American traditionally... turkey, ham... etc And we were very excited for the last tour of that day... The Snow coach for Aurora viewing!
We both really wanted to see the Northern Lights... but...... we didn't =[  I mean, when we arrived on top of the mountain we saw some stars and the Aurora around the moon, but after a few minutes, a heavy snow storm started and there was when I felt the coldest I've ever been in my entire life - even Mike said that! We were there from 10pm to 2am in a group of 8 people and temperatures dropped to bellow zero fahrenheit. The good thing is that there was a cabin/tent that the guides warmed up for us.
On the next day, after our delicious breakfast, we went to the hot springs again to enjoy it with day light. We were more used to the weather and being outside wasn't uncomfortable anymore. Also, because it was not snowing anymore!

At 1pm we checked out and from the Activity Center, we got prepared for Mike's favorite Winter activity (mine is still ice skating), Snowmobiling! I thought the snow machine very hard to steel and I even got stuck once! But the view was gorgeous!!!
After, it was time for a Dog Sled Ride, another Winter activity that I've always wanted to try out! Those dogs are so smart and focus. I'm sure they're well treated in there.
It got dark again but Mike convinced me to go hiking with a flash light... We found the Aurorium, a heated cabin with chairs where you can overlook the sky... but it was too early for the aurora show. At 6pm we were ready for dinner. There is only one restaurant at the resort and it was pretty busy there, so you may want to do a reservation before showing up. I ordered the best salmon of my life and Mike satisfied his desire of eating the expensive Alaskan king crab legs. 
Definitely, the best dinner of the trip!

That same shuttle took us back to the airport. From Fairbanks, AK we flew through the night to Seattle, WA. 
But in the middle of the night, the flight attendant announced that it was possible to see the Northern Lights! I was sitting right there, in the window seat of the left side of the plane... for 20min I was incredibly seeing the Aurora Borealis (and trying to take pictures that did not work). It was a mixture of green, yellow and orange that was moving fast in the air, like if the lights were dancing... really beautiful and I will never forget that moment! =D
Another morning waking up in a different state! We arrived in SeattleWashington at 6am and a Lyft car took us to the Pike Place, a Public Market. The first Starbucks store is located there and because Mike LOVES Starbucks, we went for drinks (there's no food there). We ate at Pear, a deli next to the busy Starbucks, then we headed to the Gum Wall also at that market. Just a week before, they had cleaned off all the gum that for 20 years had been stuck there... Mike and I helped bringing the wall back by sticking ours on it!

We went to see the famous Great Wheel where we met Ester... an Au Pair that has been following this blog ever since she decided to become an Au Pair. She told me I inspired her, how happy I felt! Very glad we spent the day with you, sweetie!
We left our backpacks in her car and walked to the Olympic Sculpture park and then, of course, to the Space Needle, the most well known Seattle's landmark! We took some funny pictures there, the weather was great... why do people say Seattle is a rainy city? =p
The EMP museum is right there and very worth to visit!
There was a Hello Kitty exposition, and I loved it! Later, Jeremy, Ester's date met us to buy tickets to go up the Space Needle. 
Because there was only a 7pm ticket, we went for dinner at Zeeks Pizza and after, to the observatory. The view is incredible and even though we missed the day view, you can still see it from the big screens that record every second in 360º! 
Ester and Jeremy drove us back to the airport... It was certainly a fun day for all of us, I got to speak a little bit of Portuguese... Mike got to hang out with another American guy Lol Seattle is beautiful and Ester a great friend! Thanks, and we're looking forward to see you here in New York! :*
That Saturday night we flew to our last stop, Vancouver, in Canada! The plane ride takes only 40min.. I had been to Toronto and Montreal before, but this was Mike's first time in Canada. We went to sleep at almost midnight at Comfort Inn hotel in downtown. 
Sunday, after breakfast, we checked out and started walking to the Canadian Place. On the way, we stopped for pictures in front of the beautiful Public Library building and also at the Gastown Steam Clock. I bought a key chain for my collection around there and then, we finally spied what we were looking for!
From there a free shuttle was leaving to Capilano Bridge, a park we loved spending the afternoon at. To get there, we had to cross the Stanley Park, how beautiful! And from the Capilano, we could see the Grouse Mountain. It costs almost $40 to get in the park, but you're able to experience how hiking on top of trees feels like!
When it got dark we decided to take the shuttle back to downtown. We asked to be dropped off on Robson St and from there we tried to make it to the Granville Island but the Public Market was about to close since it was Sunday... Accidentally we got to a HUGE swimming pool, next to the beach! We can totally tell that Vancouver must be lots of fun in the Summer. So, we were just too tired... we stopped at a Sushi restaurant - because that's basically the only kind of food you see around Lol I don't like it, but Mike does. Then, we took the train back to the airport and finally flew back to NY on another red eye flight.
Monday morning as soon as we landed - and waited a long time passing through immigration - I went straight to the Brazilian consulate to get a new passport. Mine was about to expire and I couldn't use it when coming back from Brazil next month. The new Brazilian passport is good for 10 years!
Talking about Brazil... someone that hasn't been there yet is Antonio, the half Brazilian, half American baby boy. Deborah came over for the first time to my apartment when Nino was celebrating his 8th month! He can already stand up, how mature this prince is! *-*
Who also visit me in my apt this month was my other 2 bests, Andressa and Letícia! We had lunch (guess what? hot dog stroganoff!), desserts, and then we went to The Castle... I'm the neighbor of the "Castelo de Caras" and Dessa hadn't been there yet. It was fun! Thanks Deborah, Antonio, Andressa and Lê for coming over =) Oh, and I almost forgot, but Dessa, Lê and I went to Newark together another weekend to have lunch at a Brazilian restaurant called Delicias de Minas and then we went shopping at the Elizabeth Outlet! A fun Saturday :*
A baby girl that will be born soon, is from the Baby Shower Donna and I went together... Mike's cousin Anthony married Debra 1 and a half year ago and now they're expecting a child. We went to their wedding, I remember posting about it here :) The party was fun and I got to meet some other people from Mike's family...
Now, it's my babies turn. Liv and Noa are 15 months already... They are SO smart, they understand almost everything we say, they play games, toys and love having playdates! How different from last year... They are only napping once during the day, so my work with them has been a lot more busy but also a lot more fun! Asher and Delilah are growing up too and they're just great with the twins =D
Okay, last but not least, my forever host siblings turn!!! Jack and Jennifer are still my fofinhos, always treating me so nice... #lovethem
Kristen participated on another school's play and of course I was there watching her... In the Spring she will be performing for the last time =( I drove Matthew home that night, he was curious about my Jeep! 
Also, this month, I went to see Lauren on her wonderful high school concert...
She plays violin - I had a great time listening to that talented orchestra! Congratulations to both of you girls :) But specially to Lauren... She turned 16 this month!!! I wasn't there on her birthday but we saw each other a couple of days before  it. We went to the movies to see Mockingjay Part 2 and it was AWESOME! Happy Sweet 16 sis....... :*