You will NOT believe what Lady Gaga and I have in common!!

A few years ago my sister, a close childhood friend and I attended Chicago’s Windy City Wine Fest near Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. We fell in love with Cass Winery and made plans to one day do a Girls Weekend and visit the vineyard in Paso Robles, California.

In June 2013, the three of us headed to Paso for a fun filled weekend of wine tasting and sightseeing! We had a few areas of interest on our list, but the one I was most excited about was Hearst Castle!

Hearst Castle was THE place to be in the 1920s and many celebrities and political figures would often visit. Imagine Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Bob Hope, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill playing tennis, swimming in the beautiful pools, watching movies in the theater or walking through the world’s largest private zoo! We saw all of these on our Grand Rooms tour for only $25!!

Fast forward to 2014 and another celebrity has entered this enchanted castle….Lady Gaga! She filmed her new bizarre and perplexing video “G.U.Y” at Hearst Castle. It was fun to watch the video and remember all the spots that I had been…but then I thought “How could they let her swim in that pool!?!?! Clark Gable swam in that pool!! “

See below for her latest video. I’ve also added some time marks since I’m sure you don’t want to sit through 11 minutes of this!

1:50 mark – Main castle entrance

2:20 mark – First views of Neptune’s pool

4:50 mark – First views of the Roman pool

7:20 mark – Beautiful shot and overview of Hearst Castle

 

It was such a beautifully foggy day at Hearst Castle when we went. The ride up to the Castle was surprisingly long and winding. You really got a good sense of the exclusivity and privacy these celebrities and political figures felt. When you see Neptune’s Pool and the Roman Pool, you truly go back in time!

I don’t want to be mean….but Sacramento, your “Chicago-style” pizza is terrible.

In my last post, I told you a little story about how I ended up at Folsom Prison…in my stilettos. Although a bit terrifying at first, it’s a great example about how fun and unexpected your travels can be! The reason I ended up in Folsom, CA in the first place was because 1/2 the people in my training class proclaimed that a certain pizza restaurant was “the best Chicago-style pizza in California.”

The restaurant they were talking about is called Chicago Fire and I’m sorry, but it DOES NOT taste like Chicago style pizza!! I suppose it’s ok if you’ve never had Lou Malnati’s or Giordano’s, but if you have, you’ll agree that it doesn’t quite match up. Although I figured I would come to this conclusion, I wanted to make a sincere effort and embrace the highly recommended spot. The Folsom location didn’t open until 4pm, which was 4hrs away, so I settled for the Sacramento location.

Chicago Fire

I ordered my take-away cheese deep-dish pizza and enjoyed a much needed drink at the bar. Remember, I had just been to Folsom prison so I probably could have used a few drinks at this point! The staff was friendly and the restaurant itself was lively which made for a very entertaining 30-40min wait. While I was waiting and scanning the bar scene, I noticed something missing…no Old Style. “Surely it’s a mistake,” I thought. How could you have a Chicago-themed restaurant with no Old Style? I kindly asked the bartender if they had any and I knew my answer when he looked at me like I had 3 heads. At least they had PBR (which debuted at the Chicago World Fair in 1893).

Tap options

Finally, my pizza had arrived!! I was so hungry at this point but decided to just bring it back to my hotel so I could eat and pack for my flight the next morning. Here’s what I saw as I opened the box…

Cheese Pizza

Looks amazing, right?! Probably tastes just as amazing, right?!? NOPE. While it LOOKS like a traditional Chicago deep-dish pizza, the taste was just….off. The cheese and tomatoes were similar to Lou Malnati’s, but the crust was just not right and if you can’t make a good crust, then what’s the point (in my professional opinion)! Unfortunately, I couldn’t take the smell anymore so in the hotel hallway it went.

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My advice, save yourself the trip and ship yourself a Lou’s or Giordano’s! A better option, if you’re in the traveling spirit, would be to book a trip to my hometown of Chicago!

When I say Folsom, you say Cash!!

Here’s a little fact about me….one of my favorite actresses of all time is Reese Witherspoon! Even if some of the movies she’s starred in are cheesy, I still love every bit of it and will re-watch them a million times! Legally Blonde (1 and 2), Sweet Home Alabama, This Means War…the list goes on and on! So, of course, when Walk the Line came out in 2005 I had to see it. I knew very little about June Carter or Johnny Cash, but I became an instant fan! Every now and then I feel a little bit country and can’t help singing along to the soundtrack or listening to the Johnny Cash station on Pandora.

Walk The Line Movie Poster - photo courtesy of Apple.com

Walk The Line Movie Poster – photo courtesy of Apple.com

This brings me to a little story about my recent week in Sacramento, California. It was a work trip (certification class), in a city I’ve never been to, and I was stuck for a week without preparing one bit for any type of sightseeing. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, the best advice I can give you is ask around for guidance or suggestions. When people want to visit Chicago, I honestly won’t shut up about my city (the BEST city in the world!!) and others tend to do the same.

Since everyone in my class knew I was from Chicago they suggested I try Chicago style pizza and the best spot was in Folsom, California. Now, I didn’t tell them this because I felt incredibly ignorant, but what went through my head was “Folsom….as in Johnny Cash Folsom Prison?” I few days later I found out that it was EXACTLY what they meant. Unfortunately, the pizza place was closed so I decided to see what was happening at Folsom Prison. You know…the prison that’s no longer in use and has a nice big museum and gives you informational free tours???? WRONG. I was so very, very wrong.

It started of well. I spotted the entrance via a stone sign and drove in. It seemed safe and I made a note of the welcoming and natural landscaping. Nice touch Folsom, nice touch. “Exactly how a museum entrance should look,” I thought.

Entrance to Folsom State Prison

I parked in what I thought was the museum parking, but quickly noticed that this was also the parking for prison visitors. “Hmm, what prison visitors?” And then I saw it. A van pulled up and let off real prisoners in neon jumpsuits. Here’s what went through my head next, in order:

1. Wait…this is still an active prison? I’m in stiletto heels and totally overdressed for a prison.

2. The prisoners are looking at me in my stiletto heels and know I’m totally overdressed for a prison…but they probably like it. Creepy.

3. OMG, I think the entrance to the museum is where they let out the prisoners.

4. Yes, I am correct.

5. How fast can I run, in my stiletto heels, back to my car if one of the shackles breaks off?

The prisoners were quickly escorted away, clearing a path for me to walk to the museum. Behind the security office, I saw this.

Not what I was expecting, but I went in anyway. There was a nice man at the counter who took my $2 museum fee and told me to look around. The space is very small and there is a lot of stuff so you have to take your time to read all the little informational cards next to each cased item. Of course Johnny Cash posters and newspaper articles are everywhere.

Other than pointing out the Johnny Cash memorabilia, he did mention some additional “highlights.” One was that all the California state license plates are made at Folsom. Interesting. Next, he told me that Rick James was a prisoner there and that the museum houses his guitar. Strange. Here it is.

Overall, for $2 and very last minute planning, it was fairly interesting. It did leave me wondering a bit more about Folsom Prison and the history. I did find some additional information through Wikipedia and then watched a video about some of the history behind his visit.

Photo courtesy of solitarywatch.com

Photo courtesy of solitarywatch.com

Before I left, I snapped a quick shot of the prison. The same shot that Johnny Cash once took that’s now quite iconic.

Feeling satisfied with my visit, I headed back to the car and back to Sacramento. If you’re ever in the Sacramento area, I would suggest stopping by! It’s only 23 miles away and there is a nice quaint downtown area that you can spend time in if you’re not up for the whole prison thing!

What I crossed off my non-existent ‘Bucket List’ in 2013

This week I decided to look through some of the blogs I follow as a activity given to me from WordPress via ‘Zero to Hero’ Challenge (30 days to a better blog in 2014). I stumbled on something that really caught my eye – 30 Tested Adventures for your 2014 Bucket List from Bucket List Publications.  It’s a collection of pictures to inspire you while you’re creating your 2014 Bucket List and you should all check it out ’cause it’s pretty amazing! (Thanks Lesley!)

There’s only one little problem to this….I don’t actually have an official Bucket List! ….Gasp!!

I like to think that I’m a very organized person and I travel quite a bit so I should technically have one, but I don’t. I’m more of a traveling free spirit and have some ideas on where I would like to go but most of my trips just kinda…happen. I’m officially changing this for 2014 and going to focus on something more…official. Check out my newly expanded Andiamo Pinterest Page! For 2014 I’m hoping to cross off Carlsberg Visiting Center for a Brew Tour, Pulpit Rock in Norway, Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Tivoli Park in Copenhagen, stay in the town of Bergen to view the fjords of Norway and see all the amazing architecture in Dubai!

For a recap of what I crossed off my non-existent Bucket List in 2013…see below!

If you have a ‘Bucket List’ Pinterest Page, I want to follow it! Let me know the address and I’ll be sure to check it out!