06 December 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Alex Arafiles

My sister’s wedding was perfect. With everyone in our lives being so busy, it was great to see our close family and friends attend her special day. It took place at the Coyote Hills Country Club in Fullerton and couldn’t have gone any smoother. The reception was one to remember and truly reflected what a happy celebration should entail. The DJ played the right songs at the right time and knew how to please every single person in the room. I still can’t believe my only sister is now married. I can’t express how happy I am for her. Here’s to the start of a new family!

September 26, 2010

The Beautiful Ceremony

The Reception

As you can see, it was definitely a picture perfect wedding.

Until next time,

*Photos by Mr. Chris De Guzman

03 July 2010

An Update, Las Vegas, Vancouver, and Seattle

Want to know something neat? I usually write my blogs on a Word document before posting it. Here’s the kick. Right now, I’m 39,207 feet in the air aboard a non-stop Virgin America flight en route to LAX!

First off, I didn’t really intend to make this blog solely a travel-blog but it sure seems like it became one. My intent was to write about things that inspire me, things that have a strong impact on me. You know, things that I experience and would love to share with you. There have been so many things I wanted to write about but I could never find the time to do it. I’ve been on multiple mini trips, have had many new local experiences, and I recently graduated from the California State University in Fullerton! See, look how happy I am to get out of there. Okay, okay, I'll miss that place.

My plans now are to eventually be admitted into a graduate entry-level nursing program to obtain my RN license and master’s degree. While I wait for the schools to respond, I figured I would continue with my current job, save money, spend some time with friends and family, relax, and of course… travel.

With the accomplishment of earning a bachelor’s degree after five years, I thought it would be a good idea to treat myself to a couple trips outside of the Orange County "bubble” I call home. I’m pretty excited about this summer. It’s nowhere near as extravagant as the past summers I have planned, but I must admit, it comes close to it. To start of my celebratory travels, I headed to Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas… enough said.

As a gift, my mom got my friends and I a room at the Palazzo. Thanks Mom!

To change it up a bit, I decided to plan a short trip a to places a little over a thousand miles north of southern California. Places where cool weather, rainy days, and amazing scenery is nothing new…Vancouver, British Columbia and Seattle, Washington. We spent about four days in each city, which was a perfect amount of time to check out the major tourist sites. A great thing about this trip was being able to stay with my family. It’s always great to hang out with people who can call themselves “locals” because it truly gave us a taste of what it would be like to live there. We ate at their favorite places, shopped at their everyday shopping spots, and checked out some of the things the city is known for. I usually find it hard to express what I’m talking about in written text, so here are some photos. Enjoy!

Susie and Natalie didn't know how to keep warm, so they danced.
The peir at White Rock Beach

Would I go to Canada and not hike? Nope.
My cousins gathered up some of their friends and took us on an amazing bike ride along the Vancouver Sea Wall. Definitely one of the highlights of this trip!
Japadog Hotdogs... Yes, that's seaweed!
Olympic Center

Catching up with the cousins at my Uncle's house in Silverdale, Washington (a small city about an hour and a half outside of Seattle)
Pikes Place Market and the FIRST Starbucks store

One of my favorite city skylines... Seattle
Happy Hour!

My best-friend-cousin, Cheng-Cheng-Cheng
The Freemont Troll

The great thing about this trip was the company. We were extremely lucky to have stayed with such hospitable hosts and I couldn't thank them enough. I'm happy with how these trips went and the friends that accompanied me truly made these trips memorable.

Also for all you Facebookers, if you're interested, click HERE and check out the full set of photos I posted. It should be open to everyone so you shouldn't have a problem looking at them.

So now, I have two days to get ready for my next trip. At 9pm on Saturday, I'll be heading to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic!

I'll try my best to blog as soon as I can (this on was written a while back, but I never posted it)

I hope ya'll are doing well!

Until Next Time,

22 August 2009

A Charm of Its Own

New York, indeed, has a charm of its own.

After a pretty miserable experience trying to fly to New York, we finally made it. I won’t bore you with details (like missing the last flight of the night) about the troubles we had trying to get there… but trust me, it’s better that way. Getting to our hostel, which happened to be about a block away from Times Square, was pretty easy. I loved the hostel because it brought me back to the times when I was in Africa, where I had my first hostel experience.

After settling down, we started our trip with a really cool cruise around the New York Harbor and into the Hudson River. We left Battery Park just before sunset, which gave us the perfect setting to view the city for the first time. The sunset was ridiculously amazing. Here’s a picture of the infamous Statue of Liberty.

How beautiful is that?

Another great thing about this cruise was getting a breath taking view of the New York skylines! For those of you who know me, I love city skylines and would like to take picture of as many cities as I could before I die. Hopefully, that’s not anytime soon! Anyways, this place has tons of them. I couldn’t believe how many skyscrapers there were in New York. To capture the whole skyline, you would need to be in a helicopter. I could barely afford the boat cruise, so the helicopter tour needed to be postponed. Maybe next time? Hehe.

Here’s a picture of the Lower Manhattan skyline. This one was kind of eerie to look at. If you look towards the center of this particular picture, you will see some open space. That open space is where the World Trade Center Twin Towers were. Being there really made me realize how crazy that day must have been. When I really thought about it, I couldn’t even imagine how scary it was. The good thing is, it seems like they have made a tremendous amount of progress in the area’s recovery. People seem very optimistic with what is planned.

Another interesting activity we had organized was a visit to the American Museum of Natural History. I had an idea of how it would be, but didn’t expect it to be as fascinating. I was ecstatic to find out that there was a hall that displayed many African exhibits. Again, I was brought back to the first trip of my summer. We also visited other exhibits such as Space and Earth, Exhibits of Asia, and one of their most popular ones, the Fossil Series.

"A premier attractions in New York City is the Museum's series of fossil halls, including its two famed dinosaur halls. The Museum is home to the world's largest collection of vertebrate fossils, totaling nearly one million specimens. More than 600 of these specimens, nearly 85 percent of which are real fossils as opposed to casts, are on view."


Before heading to New York, a friend of mine told me I must walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Even it was extremely hot and humid, we did it! It was a great experience. Chryssa, my friend and travel buddy for New York, was just excited as I was. It was so fun that we decided to walk back across it. I remember walking and and not knowing what to think. I just couldn't believe i was in the middle of this amazing city. The views from each side of the bridge were just spectacular. I also couldn't believe how many bottles of water I drank during that walk alone. Every couple feet on the bridge, there were people who sold ice cold water bottles. I probably bought about five of them during the walk. Once we got to the other side (Brooklyn), we decided to rest a bit. We found this cute little park located right outside of the bridge entrance. There, we sat and watched a family with two kids ride their new bikes.

When you think New York, you must think Central Park. I don’t think everyone quite understands how big Central Park is. We spent a good five to six hours one day, only making it around half of it. We eventually went back to explore the rest, which was just as compelling. When you’re in central park, you don’t really hear the noise of the city, but at the same time, you don’t lose the feeling that you’re in one. Does that make sense? You need to be there to fully know what I’m talking about. Here are a few pictures I took.
Central Park from the Top of the Rockefellar Center
I was so ready to buy him a six pack of Dos Equis.

Sheeps Meadows, apprently the summer hangout spot!


On our last night, we walked to the Empire State Building and rode an elevator to the top of it. Since we had already gone to the top of the Rockefeller Center during the day, we thought it would be a good experience to check out the city from above during the night. It was a great choice. Seeing all the lights from the buildings and getting one last look at the city before we left, couldn’t have gone any better.

One of the many great views!


Throughout the trip, we also had some fun that didn’t require so much walking and looking around, but did require a lot of money. The nightlife was lively and food was delicious! I think that’s enough said about that. Let’s just say… I must admit, that’s where most of my money went. So, if you ever plan on going to New York, save up some extra cash and enjoy the great food... and drinks!

Meet Eddie and Mark. Two of the funniest and coolest bartenders in NYC. Check them out at the Hibernia Bar off of 50th (between 9th and 10th)


Overall, this trip was great! Met more amazing people, had some outstanding food, saw many sights, and spent the rest of my money--- but worth every penny. Everyone who has asked me how New York went, gets the same answer. I tell them it's a place of it's own and there's really nothing like it. It's a must see. Elysabeth's facebook comment to Chryssa's page was right... "There's a charm about it that you won't find anywhere else."

Lastly, I couldn’t have asked for a better travel partner. Thanks again, Chryssa!

What’s next? Looks like my summer has come to an end. Work has started (the day after I got back, which was hell) and school (my last semester of undergraduate studies) starts on Monday! My bank accounts are offically empty, but I have no regrets in anything I did. I must say, being broke isn't as bad as it sounds. Ok, maybe a little bit.

I do have plans of mini trips and exploring new things, so don't worry--- I will be updating my blog.

Thanks again for all your support. I really do appriciate it. Have a good day or night!

New York, I love you.

Until next time,


If you're interested in looking at the full set of photos I put up on Facebook. Click on this link, it should work for the public.


12 August 2009

Post Africa, Pre Apple... the BIG Apple.

Home Sweet Home.

So I’ve gotten numerous requests to do a “Post-Africa, Pre-New York Blog.” Not a bad idea, right?

It’s been a little less than a month since I’ve been home yet it feels like it has been only a few days. I still can’t believe how fast that trip went by. Coming home was definitely something. Aside from the dramatic change in weather, the extreme jetlag that lasted about a week and a half, I could honestly say the transition was not as bad as I expected. It’s nice to have the feeling of just being home and close to my family and friends again. I really missed my bed too. For the first couple of days home, I would literally sleep about fifteen hours a day because I was so exhausted from everything. I'm fully adjusted now, but then again, I have horrible sleeping habits... that's the what the summer is all about though.

I’ve probably said this so many times since coming home, but the trip really did change my life. Everyone I have talked to and had a deep conversation about what I did and went through, while in Africa, told me it was obvious that this trip impacted my life. There are just so many things that remind me of that place. One thing, for example... every time I notice the sky during sunset, it reminds me of the times I would be sitting out on my balcony with my roommates, just hanging out. You know, the times you don’t want to forget, but easily do. And man, those African sunsets were gorgeous, indescribably different from the ones in California. I miss them so much. I could write for days and day about how differently I look at things now, but let's not get into that.

All in all, the experiences of being there are only making my life here, in good ol’ America, much better. I am very appreciative of more things than I ever have been. We’re lucky to live in such a great, diverse, amazing, country. If I could preach one thing to all of you who read my blog, it would be to take advantage of being an American. Unlike many countries around the world, we have so many opportunities to travel. I remember talking to many of the locals I befriended in Africa, telling them to come visit me one day. It’s so much easier said than done for them. For them, as well as so many other countries, coming to America is probably one of the hardest things to do. But for us… get the cash, book the ticket, and you’re there. Where am I going with this? Take a break from working sometime, plan a trip, get some rest and relaxation… explore the world. It’s at your fingertips, why not?

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
- Nelson Mandela


So what’s next for Vino on a Voyage? (Cheesy, I know.)

New York, New York!

Photo by: =xxchange; deviantart.com

I really, honestly, shouldn’t even be going because I’m so broke, but I’m going anyways and I am extremely excited! This time, it has nothing to with school and I’m going with one of my best buddies, Chryssa. We’ve got a rough schedule of what we want to do, but who knows what will happen. For those of you interested, this is what we’ve got planned:

8/13: Depart from Orange County at 21:35

8/14: Check in to our hostel: 311 Times Square, Explore Times Square, New York Harbor Cruise @ 19:00

8/15: Rockafeller Center, Saint Patricks Cathedral, more city exploring

8/16: Walk the Brooklyn Bridge, Little Italy/China Town, Possible Broadway Show!

8/17: Central Park Picnic, American Museum of Natural History, Ground Zero

8/18: Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, relax and hang around the city, last minutes shopping

8/19: Farewell lunch, depart to Orange County... Home!

Other than it being pretty expensive, I've heard so many good things about New York. I over-read, on a Facebook comment, that "NYC really is amazing... there's a charm about it that you won't find anywhere else." I guess I'll have to see for myself. Hopefully, I think the same.


Sorry Lys, I had to.

I just thought I'd take the time to say farewell and good luck to my buddy Elysabeth. She's leaving this Sunday to take on a four-month, full-immersion, study abroad program in Lyon, Fance. She's worked her bum off to make her trip possible and I can't express how excited and proud I am of her. Not only is she one of my best friends, she's the one who inspired me to start a blog... heck, she even helped me come up with my blog name. If you have the time, check hers out:


Anyways, good luck Rice Cake! You're going to have a blast out there! Just remember, don't get home sick, we'll all be here when you get back. Keep in touch though, ok!

I'll miss you.

Well, that's it for now. Thanks for reading again, everyone. I'll have another post when I get back. So be ready!

Until next time,


PS. Shout-out to Western Michigan University! Thanks for reading my blog!

14 July 2009

Farewell South Africa...

This is it!
Like all good things, my trip must come to an end...

As I have said before in my past blogs, this trip has been absolutely amazing. I am spending a few hours of my last full day in the internet cafe to write this blog not because I have nothing else to do, but because I really do enjoy sharing my experiences with everyone. I am very happy to hear that people actually read and follow it and am extremely thankful for everyone and their support!

Since my University program ended, my trip slowed down quite a bit. By no means does that mean it got boring, it became more like a holiday, more relaxing. I loved it. I started off my first days of freedom (from anything school related) by spending time in Jeffrey's Bay. That was a cool experience in it's own. There, I watched some professional surfers compete in the world famous Billabong Pro held at Supertubes Park. There are pictures to come, so I'll move on.

After a couple days there, I phoned some friends I made during my first week here and asked if they wanted to hang out before I left. They were more than happy to. Both of them, Brett and Bradley, invited me to their houses for a Braii and Potjai. The food was delicious! It was such a cool experience being invited to a typical South African home for lunch and dinner. The families were great and very welcoming. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from that. I do, however, have many stories to tell! Invite me for some coffee and I'll fill you in, deal?

Ok ok, let's get started with some pictures...


This is a photo of everyone who lived in my flat (apartment). This, in particular, is special because it was our last group picture together. I already miss living with them.
After waiting seven weeks, we finally made it to J-Bay!
The highlight of our J-Bay trip was having the opportunity to check out the annual Billabong Pro Surf Competition held in Supertubes Park.
The sand crowd enjoying some good music, good waves, and good surf!
People up in the nosebleeds!
While in Jeffrey's a few buddies of mine took me to Saint Francis, which was about a half hour drive. This place was beautiful.

A road sign...obviously.
During the first couple nights of the Pro, there was this event called the Malibu Festival. There, they had local and national South African bands play some music. It was pretty awesome!
Here we are driving up and down the coast!
Brett going camera crazy when Kai Otton of Austrailia comes out of the water after a great run on the waves!
Kai Otton checking out the heat after his.

My new place... Lungile Backpackers in Humewood, Port Elizabeth!
The guys getting their surfboards ready...
Can you find me?... I can't either.

This picture is of the Quicksilver Megastore during the pro-sufer signings! The free food, free beer, awesome DJ, great crowd and lively atmosphere made this such a cool event. It was obviously the place to be!
Kelly Slater! My roomate describes him as one of the most respected professional surfers in the world! I must admit, I do agree.
The Billabong Factory Shop
Even after some rain, these sand-works stood strong!
Lastly, a Jeffrey's Bay sunrise...

I just thought I'd show everyone where all the "magic" happens! Yes, this is the internet cafe I've been using to write my blog!
On my last day of school, after our farewell breakfast, I thought I'd be a cool idea to take a picture of our campus and show everyone. I mean, this is why I came to Africa, right?
The California group with the great International Office staff.
I actually took this one this morning while walking down the beachfront. A storm had just passed and the sky was starting to clear up. How beautiful is that?

I'm not sure what I'm feeling right now. I am really excited to see everyone, but dreading the fact that it means going back to routine. Work, school, sleep, repeat. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerrating. I guess, when I get home, I won't be as bummed out as I feel. I know for a fact that this trip sparked something inside of me I didn't think I had. I found a new passion, a passion to travel the world to see what else is out there. I want to experience things that most people say they want to do, but unfortunately, never end up doing. Who knows where I'll end up next. I have a few trips in mind, but will find it extremely difficult to top this South African experience.

Before I say my farewell on this blog while in Africa, I want to thank anyone and everyone who has supported my trip here. Thank you to everyone who took care of my group, to the South African locals who gave me such awesome experiences, to my parents, my family, my friends, and to you. I wish I could find the words to justify how thankful I am but no matter how hard I try, I can't. It's just one of those things...

Again, this trip is one to remember and it's been amazing, South Africa...

Thank you and farewell!

Until next time,

PS. Yes Mom, I'm coming home!