Posts Tagged With: girlfriend weekend

Girlfriends’ Getaway… Hoodies in the ATL!

One of the annual events that one of my best girlfriends, Kim, and I enjoy is the Steve Harvey Neighborhood Awards, or better known as the Hoodies.  We have gone twice to the event when it was held in Las Vegas and have enjoyed every minute of it.  Imagine our excitement when we learned they would be held this year in Atlanta!!  Boy oh Boy were we ready to get the party started!!

Because of it’s proximity to where she lives in Virginia, we were able to get her sister, Stephanie and Stephanie’s girlfriend Wanda to join us for an all out Girlfriends Getaway excursion.  We were excited to have more company for the trip, but also to find the cost was much more affordable.
If you’ve ever done the Hoodies before, you know that it’s crucial to register and purchase your award show tickets as soon as possible so that you can have great seats.  And because of our pre-planning, we managed to get great floor seats for the Awards Show as well as the Nephew Tommy Comedy Show.  Having gone before previously, we opted not to purchase tickets right away for the VIP After Party, or the Freedom Friday Party since they both were general admission and we wanted to wait to see who would be performing.  I wish we had purchased the After Party tickets, however because they announced that Bell Biv Devoe would be performing, and when we went to purchase those tickets they were sold out.

We decided to stay at the Centennial Park Embassy Suites since it was so close to the venue and our reservation would include a hot breakfast and the manager’s reception daily.  I knew, having traveled to Atlanta on several occasions that although the Marriott Marquis was the headquarters hotel, under no circumstances was I going to stay there.  I hated my experience each time I was there.  The accommodations at the Embassy Suites were okay. The beds were a little small (doubles) and the furniture look a little antiquated.  (Really the hotel could use a modernization to bring it up to date just a tad.)  We read horror stories about the long lines for the breakfast and manager’s reception, but it turned out not to be so bad each day.  The check-in process however, left a lot to be desired because of the long waits.  However, once we left our bags at the bell desk, we walked up to a nearby sports bar, Stats for lunch.  The food, while a little pricy was delicious and the portion size was great.

Let me back up a little. I made the “kurfluffle” of mistaking the shuttle to the airport Embassy Suites as the one for the Centennial Park location.  There is no courtesy shuttle. We decided to save on cab fare and take the MARTA there. Which was a great scenic ride, however walking in 90 degree heat with your luggage from the metro station to your hotel is not cute.  My departing flight was early in the morning so I had no choice but to take a cab back to the airport for a whopping $50!!!  The MARTA cost us $3.50 from the airport so maybe dragging the bags a few blocks wasn’t so bad after all.

2734138We arrived Thursday early so we could enjoy the day and then be rested for the Comedy Jam that night.  It was a great show, my only negative comment was the long wait/line to get in.  We had tickets for the late show at 10pm and I guess we had to wait for everyone from the previous show to leave out, and then allow time for a change over or something before they let us in… and if you saw my 5 inch stilettos, you would understand why standing for 45 minutes was not a good look.  However, once we were seated and the show began, we enjoyed ourselves.

Stephanie & I in the "Streets" of ATL

Stephanie & I in the “Streets” of ATL

The next morning we had to head out early… 4am early for the live morning show broadcast.  This is always a highlight of our trip because Kim and I are big Steve Harvey fans, but let me tell you, being out until 1 am and then up again before the rooster crows, does not make me a happy camper.  But because we didn’t want to be completely at the back of the auditorium, we dragged ourselves out into the wee hours of the morning.  (There were folks starting to camp out when we left for the comedy show. Now I wanted to be near the front, but not that bad…it began to poor down raining before we got back to the hotel!)

The live broadcast was great. This year they had George Tandy Jr, and we were thrilled when we discovered he was from our hometown Virginia Beach!. They also had John Legend (not my favorite performer.)  But I was anxious to get to the expo area because I hear this year would be the best yet! And it was!!
The sponsors there were great and have lots of nice giveaways. I got personalized coke bottle for everyone in the family.  We also, got the usual canvas bags and State Farm had some nice giveaways too.  There was a lot going on in the Expo area. From the step show, the celebrity appearances, live beauty demonstrations, and the college expo, there was something for everybody.  The second day, we enjoyed a free film screening, a dance aerobic session with Cupid and his CuRobiks, more celebrity meet and greets, a live Family Feud Show, and the highlight for me was getting Zane to sign my copy of Z:Rated, her anthology that features my debut short story, “Possessed Penis.”

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Saturday night was the Hoodie Award Show.  It was in the Phillips Arena, which was slightly a little further than the World Congress Center from our hotel, but the walk was not bad.  Especially since this time I wore by slippers and carried my stilettos in my hand.  As I mentioned before we had great seats and were able to enjoy all the antics of the artists, presenters and performers.  Tamala Mann was phenomenal singing “Take Me to the King,” the comedy joke off between David Mann and Lavell Crawford had me in stitches.  Chrisette Michelle was lovely as ever and all in all, this year’s show was among the best yet.

I do like the change of venue, although nothing is like Vegas.  But the cost break made the move to Atlanta far more attractive.  We missed the “Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success” session that Steve did, as well as the other panel discussions featuring Zane, Kandi Burruss, and others.  There was just so much to do!  Overall we had a blast and we plan to do this again next year!

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Categories: Neighborhood Awards | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The BET Experience

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Every girl needs to just getaway from the day-to-day routine sometimes.  Being a mom, working full-time and the wife of a Navy sailor can stretch you to your fullest limits sometimes.  This is why I jumped at the opportunity to getaway for a weekend trip to LA for the BET Experience.

Now note, I attended the BET Experience and had no intentions of attending the actual award show. I’m not one for a lot of glitz and glamour and to be honest, just didn’t want to be bothered with the crowds.

3770878_origThe weekend before Essence Festival in New Orleans, the BET Experience is a wonderful, economical alternative.  The events were all FREE except for the evening concerts and comedy show.  And there was something for every one of all ages.

We opted to stay at the L. A. Hotel Downtown by Hyatt which was about a mile from the Convention Center. Although it was a little further away from the main events, it was close enough to be able to walk to the expo if you so desired. The cost was phenomenal! We paid $120 per night, which is unheard of in downtown Los Angeles. The view was okay and the room was comfortable and a great value for the price.

 

 

2279380The event was fun packed and I was in awe to be able to get up close and interact with some of my favorite celebrities.  Just when I thought I had seen all I could see, I stumbled upon The Acoustically Speaking mini concerts.  Although I didn’t purchase a ticket to the main concerts, I was able to go and enjoy Faith Evans, Taleb Kwali, and Tank.  It was a great intimate setting, the sound was amazing! And I thoroughly felt I got my money’s worth. It was after all… FREE!

 

1792068_origNext, I went and sat in on the “Genius Talks” with Boris Kodjoe and Will Packer.  What a treat!  (And not just because Boris is as flawless in person as he is on TV.) But the discuss was great and the audience interaction added to the conversation.

All in all, it was an amazing weekend getaway and I enjoyed the LA Backdrop.  In fact, I think it made me even more excited to get home to watch the actual BET Award Ceremony.  So I opted to leave early Sunday so I’d be home in time to watch it live. Although they had a free “Watch Party” at the event.  I wanted to be home before dark and be able to relax and prepare for work on Monday.

 

Me in the "Streets of LA"!

Me in the “Streets of LA”!

 

1619676_origAs an early birthday gift to myself and as a prelude to my birthday celebration in a few weeks, I stopped at my new favorite seafood spot, Crab Hut and enjoyed some crab legs, a wonderful cocktail, and the New Orleans ambiance!

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Spring Break in Sunny San Diego (part 2)

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Monday started off leisurely, as we were planning a drive up to Temecula to go wine tasting. We decided to go during a week day so we could enjoy the discounted tastings.  With the vast number of wineries available, I narrowed our choices down to 3, Ponte, Weins, and Leoness.  The drive was beautiful and we were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery (we even stopped for an impromptu shopping excursion) and just enjoy catching up and reminiscing about our college days.

Weins is known for it’s “Big Reds” so we had to put that on our list.  I think my favorite was their Dulce Maria which was a sweet blend of fruits with lovely apple and melon tones.  Ponte probably had the most beautiful grounds we visited.  This would be a great wedding site.  Lush greeneries and immaculate gardens surrounded the grounds.  They also have an inn, if your guests would like to stay on site.  I think next time we will actually schedule a vineyard tour and tasting.
 After drin119855king all that wine, we decided to take a trip down the coast and enjoy the happy hour lunch at the Chart House in Cardiff by the Sea. OMG! I would love to live there year around.  Nestled right on the coast of the Pacific, it’s hard to imagine any other place on earth as beautiful.  We were seated in front of one of the beautiful picturesque windows, which gave us a view of the beach.  Not to be outdone by it’s ambiance, the food was delicious!  I had the Shrimp Scampi, Daurice had the Salmon and we shared the Lobster & Shrimp Spring Rolls. Absolutely Superb!!
Our view of the ocean. . .
Cardiff by the Sea
1905949Tuesday was an early morning as we planned to spend the entire day in LA.  This was my birthday gift to Daurice, as this was her first visit ever to the City of Angels.  I’m so glad that I’m able to read maps, because my fear of driving in LA rush hour traffic made us decide to get a metro card and see all the sights via subway.  We started our tour of Los Angeles at the Japanese American museum.  Daurice’s father was Japanese, so it was a great tribute to go and visit the museum, for me to learn more about the history of Japanese Americans and for Daurice to see some of the history that she grew up hearing about.
We then headed back via subway toward the Staples Center and LA Live.  This is probably my favorite area in LA.  Great eateries, the Staples Center, the LA Convention Center, the Nokia theater, Grammy Museum and movie theater are all located in this area.  We went to the Grammy Museum, visited staples, and ate at Smashburger.  Then we went to Hollywood Boulevard to see the famous Graumman Chinese Theatre and take a tour of the stars’ homes.  We opted to take our chances with the tour companies that set up shop on the corners.  This actually was my 2nd time touring with this particular vendor and probably my most enjoyable tour.  For the price, you see a lot (Holllywood sign, Rodeo Drive, and stars homes) and both times we had a pretty good tour guide.
We were supposed to go visit the Savoy, but after that whirlwind tour, we just wanted to grab a bite to eat and head home.
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Since Wednesday would be Daurice’s final full day in San Diego, we decided to see some of the local sites so we could end the day early so she could rest before her 6am flight the next day.Our first stop was breakfast at the Broken Yolk Café.  A local favorite, we thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast of pancakes and eggs.  Next we headed to LaJolla, one of the most beautiful areas (in my opinion) in San Diego.  I told Daurice about the beautiful white castle that I would pass everyday on the 5 and it wasn’t until her visit that I did research to find out it is the Mormon Temple.  Daurice grew up in the Mormon church so this was a definite stop on our way to LaJolla.  The grounds are simply magnificent.  The view upclose is even more majectic than the view driving by on the highway.  Although we were not able to go inside (you have to be a Mormon), just walking the grounds and taking in the beauty of the design was a treat.
We spent the rest of the day touring LaJolla, the beach, and UCSD.  I had planned for us to have lunch at Seasons 52.  This is one of my favorite restaurants.  The menu changes every week (hence the name Season 52) and the presentation alone is delightful!
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Categories: San Diego | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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