Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Manhattan Beach Day

Sometimes it's nice to go to a nearby neighborhood and spend an afternoon shopping and eating as if you lived in that town. It's also nice to actually spend the night "out of town" in town just to enjoy a break from the everyday chores of life which inevitably end up intruding on a relaxing day at home. I like going to Manhattan Beach for my mini-vacation days. It's got the massive Manhattan Village Mall and is close to the 405 freeway, but at the heart of the town by the pier, there are still individual shops and restaurants that do not have clones everywhere else.

Lulu's is a small exquisite lingerie store located in the heart of Manhattan Beach, at 300 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 Tel 310-798-4577. Lulu's has high-end designer lingerie and shoes like Cosabella, CYA, Missoni, and Costume National. They also have pretty jewelry and hair accessories to add the finishing touches. I love the boudoir feel of the shop and the friendly but not pushy staff. They also have some very cute and practical things like footpetals pads for those high heels to make them look killer without feeling killer. It feels like shopping in a very wealthy friend's lingerie closet. They have sales that they will give you advance notice on if you sign up on their mailing list. I just bought a gorgeous Cosabella dress for 50% off! Quality on sale never goes out of style.

Lulu's is just a few blocks to the ocean and surrounded by great little restaurants and cafes like my favorite breakfast place Le Pain Quotidien just a block up the same street in a nice courtyard. They offer organic artisan breads, great pastries and fabulous jams. It's a great place to sip your latte out of a bowl so you can dunk in your buttery croissant at the communal table, just like in Europe. For lunch, they offer salads and sandwiches on their wonderful bread, all freshly and simply made. They started in Brussels, moved to NY, and are now finally here on the west coast. Next door to the cafe is Shade hotel, a nice place to stay if you don't live in the area. All the beds at Shade are Tempur-pedic and they have a hip bar on the roof that is more scenery than useful. The style is very modern and minimalist. The rates are not cheap, but it is in the heart of all the restaurants and shops, so it still is the next best thing to living in Manhattan Beach, and that is almost priceless.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Medical Mexico

I have almost always had bad experiences in Mexico. On my first trip, there was a hurricane. On my second trip, I was bitten from head to toe. On my last trip down there, I had to be flown back after contracting malaria. I figured there are enough places in the world to go that I did not have to return to Mexico.

But my friend Pel has been going to Mexico for dental work for years, taking her mother and grandmother to get dentures and crowns. When she got her husband to try it, he liked it so much that he went and got veneers. I needed a root canal and gold crown. Even though Pel suggested going to Mexico for dental work, I was unconvinced. But then I found out that the work would cost $1600 here in the US and take two weeks of visits.

So figuring I had nothing to lose, but maybe several hundred dollars to gain, I called and I checked into the clinic my friend recommended, the new offices on Ave Revolucion #1673 of Washington Dental in Tijuana (make sure you go to the new office not the old one). They were very professional, spoke perfect English, take some US insurance, and they had THE cleanest dental practice I have ever seen. Their waiting area has free cold drinks, current movies on a big screen TV in English to occupy waiting family/friends, and San Diego newspapers. I got everything done for HALF the US price in two days instead of two weeks. The lab which makes the crowns was down the street so I did not have to wait for shipping time. Even the antibiotics I needed after the root canal were sold for 30% less than in the US at the pharmacy across the street from the clinic. Everything was easy, from my first inquiry call to the moment I stepped inside the clinic. All the people were very personable and kind, but best of all, the work was fantastic. I did not even have to take pain killers after the root canal! They even reimburse you for a taxi from the border and have a special lot on the US side if you want to drive and walk across the border.

I stayed two exits from the border at the Americana Best Western. They offer a special clinic rate and include a free shuttle directly to many doctors and clinics across the border directly from the hotel and back. The only drawback to taking the shuttle is the wait coming back at the border if the shuttle gets behind a big tour bus. The first day we breezed through in 15 minutes, the next day it took 2 hours. The other passengers in the van had all gone to Mexico for alternative treatments for cancer because apparently Tijuana is the new mecca for medical work. Many places operate under new NAFTA regulations that make their standards on par with the ones in the US and many take US insurance.

I guess I'll be returning to Mexico now with a smile.

Criss Angel's new show Believe

I'm a big Cirque du Soleil fan; I've been going to see their shows since 1988 (no, I was not a child at the time: ) and I've seen nearly every show that has traveled to Los Angeles or moved in to Las Vegas.

I just bought tickets for the new Cirque du Soleil show opening in September 2008 called Believe that was created with Criss Angel. This show isn't the usual Cirque acrobatic show, it's a show of illusions, so if you are looking for a show to take your young children, choose another Cirque show like Mystere, Love or O. The show ads warn that this show is "not for the faint of heart".

If you join the Cirque Club you will get advance notice of all new shows as well as discounts on some performances. It's free and they don't spam you with emails. If you just want to go see this show and not join Cirque's Club you can call the Luxor directly and they will sell you the preview show tickets (the performances September 1-10th) at the same 25% discounted price. Preview shows are like dress rehearsals before opening day; I think they are better just because everyone in the show is still excited about opening and the show is as fresh as it will ever be.

I got fifth row center seats for September 10th, so great seats are available as of this post, but they probably will not last. Go have fun!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Elaine Travels to the Wynn

Welcome to my new Blog! I decided to start this for my friends who are always asking me for my travel tips when they book their vacations.

Today my friend Cindy asked me to look into booking her honeymoon in Las Vegas. Unlike most people (Cindy is not most people), she is getting married BEFORE going to Vegas! With my promo code she got a $100 resort credit and upgraded at the Wynn to the Parlor Suite in the Tower! The Tower has its' own check-in, concierge, pool and restaurant. Although the Tower pool only has sun in the morning, the European pool in the main hotel offers hotel guests (free) topless bathing for all of us who hate tan lines all day long! Security at the pool area is the best I have ever encountered; they swipe your room key for entry to the area. The offer is only good until June 30, 2008 but it gets really hot in Vegas after that, so use it now!

Wynn $100 resort credit Sunday-Thursday promo code WESP08

Call 888-770-7990 to reserve or reserve online at the Wynn.

The Wynn is my favorite resort in Vegas with great restaurants, excellent service, and a clean air environment! Watch out for the mini-bar though, everything has a sensor so that if you pick up an item it is automatically charged to your room. You can eat in the hotel and feel like you are out at a different place for every meal: Lobster Benedict for breakfast by the pool, the Country Club for a great lunch with a view of the golf course, and the European style Tower restaurant for a special occasion dinner.