PictureLe Reve performs at the Wynn Theater.
LE RÊVE, French for "the dream", is the perfect name for the water and acrobatic performance featured at the Wynn hotel and casino in Las Vegas!  The show's plot is simple: A young woman must decide her answer to a marriage proposal.  She falls asleep and as she dreams her thoughts take her to a colorful world filled with mythical creatures, stunning sights, and passionate emotions - all of which reveal her inner struggle.

LE RÊVE is distinctly different from other Vegas shows because the actors (or should I say, athletes?!) perform on a moving stage in a pool of water.  The technical side of the show is absolutely mind-boggling.  A team of scuba divers are under the stage directing traffic, helping the actors, and sending up props.  Actors all have diving experience and must breathe through regulators sometimes when waiting underwater for their cues.  You can learn more about the show's technical side here:
LE RÊVE is a show you could watch a hundred times and still find something new and interesting you didn't notice before!  There is so much happening all at once!  You want to keep your eyes on the endearing water sprite character, but then your eyes dart over to catch someone's backflip and then you're entranced by a flock of angels that just dropped from the ceiling!  I sat in shocked silence. I laughed. I cried. I almost fainted at one point because of a dangerous stunt!  It truly is the best show in Las Vegas and it is well worth the ticket price.  Go see it!

Photography (without flash) is allowed during the performance.  Below you'll find some photos my husband took during the show we saw on January 16, 2015.  Which one do you like best?  Are there other Vegas shows you recommend?  Write me a comment in the space below!

Safe travels and happy flying!
~Jenn Grahams

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Fire dancing on the water!
Picture
Will you marry me? = The show's driving question.
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We were so close to the stage! The theater is circular so every seat is a good seat!
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I want those red shoes!
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These suit-clad gentlemen were the "clowns" of the show and they were hilarious!
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It was easy to forget you were sitting in a crowded theater because the lights would hide audience.
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The timing has to be perfect or he could sit another swimmer.
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You can't tell, but this globe is twirling around and there is NO safety net, just water below.
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See diver? See water? I wasn't sure if this stunt was going to work, but he made it!
 
 
Speak the words modern art and my brain immediately conjures up the image of a canvas with enough primary colors splattered across it to resemble any preschooler’s first take-home painting.  Better yet, I’ll imagine a mishmash of broken items (maybe a doll’s head, an umbrella, scattered playing cards, and a wooden chair) stacked into a Jenga-like tower and glued together.  "How is THAT art?" I’ve often asked museum curators.  (That’s a lie.  I’ve never had the audacity to ask aloud, but I’ve sent this question out telepathically several times to no avail.)  It wasn’t until a recent visit to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. that my opinion of modern art completely changed.

I hadn’t planned to visit the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.  I needed a reprieve from the sun’s skin-frying rays and the strange donut-like building not only intrigued me, but offered an air-conditioned haven from the outdoors.  Inside I found myself transported into a strange environment of sight and sound, light and shadow, and a dimension of imagination.  It was something straight out of the Twilight Zone! 

Now, many of exhibits still left me shaking my head and wondering what con artist managed to fool someone into thinking it was worth money.  At the risk of offending those people, here are a few examples of pieces I personally thought were complete rubbish (Andy Warhol fans, be warned):
Picture
Someone was throwing out their old Eater decorations, I guess.
Picture
The Display Stand with Madonnas is supposed to be "familiar and fantastical" instead of tacky and boring.
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This is really just an anagram for the message: "NOT ART, SON. HEHE! -W"
Art, however, is subjective.  It was interesting to notice how museum visitors reacted to the pieces.  I would pass right by one display while someone else would stand there marveling at it.  Likewise, a few pieces I found incredibly deep and thought-provoking whereas other visitors breezed right past them without a second glance.  The art I loved the most included:
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Stand before it and stare into an abyss. Stand before it and you get a visual representation of infinity.
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A fun light project. I liked being in the room of cool blue for awhile. :)
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For me, a glimpse at social dynamics and human cruelty.
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The next time you’re in Washington D.C., I hope you’ll consider visiting this Smithsonian museum.  Unlike the other museums, it isn’t swamped by school children.  For me, it was a wonderful escape, an opportunity for introspection, and a chance to appreciate modern art.

Happy flying.
~Jenn Grahams
 


 
 
LaGuardia Airport
LaGuardia Airport - My first flight attendant base!
In my head I can picture them clearly.  I see the grubby, dirt-smeared faces of poor European immigrants beaming joyfully at the Statue of Liberty in all her glory as their boat pulls into the harbors of Ellis Island, just beyond the skyline of New York City.  This was the arrival for passengers coming to the Big Apple in the early 1900s.  Today, the port of arrival for many is LaGuardia Airport, a building that is as grubby and perhaps as down-trodden as the immigrants of old.  (Click HERE to hear U.S. Vice President Biden compare LaGuardia’s sad, decaying structure to a “third world country”.)

LaGuardia Airport (LGA) was my first flight attendant base and I worked there for nearly a year.  When in uniform (and even in plain clothes), I was often approached by frazzled-looking passengers who needed help navigating their way around LaGuardia.  Here are some basic tips I learned from my days working in the Big Apple’s smallest airport.

Please note:  LaGuardia is undergoing many renovations.  Check the airport’s website HERE for the most up-to-date information.  The article below was written in April 2015.
Picture
A cockroach in the airport's basement crawling near the mice traps. Gross!

Tip 1. Know Your Terminal Before Arriving at the Airport

“What terminal is Delta?”  People driving would slow down their vehicles, roll down their windows, and shout this question at me as the traffic behind them began honking mercilessly.  My answer was always, “Delta is in terminals A, C, and D!  Good luck!”

LaGuardia's configuration sucks.  The terminals are separated and there is no easy way to connect them.  You need to know where you’re going.  Delta and American/US Airways are located in different terminals and each of those terminals has its own security.  And just to make things more confusing, the American flights in terminal B use the D gates and the United Airlines flights (also in terminal B) use the C gates.  It really makes no sense.

Basically, here is the breakdown of where your airline might be.  It’s best to use a smartphone or computer ahead of time to find out exactly.  Read Tip #2 for info on switching terminals.

Terminal A (Marine Air Terminal)
Delta Shuttle

Terminal B
American (C & D Gates)
United (C Gates)
Virgin America (C Gates)
Southwest (B Gates)
Spirit (B Gates)
Air Canada (A Gates)
Frontier (A Gates)
JetBlue (A Gates)
United (A Gates)

Terminal  C
Delta / Delta Shuttle
US Airways / American

Terminal D

Delta
WestJet

Tip 2.  Connecting to a different terminal? Get on the right bus!

LGA Bus
The inter-terminal buses pick up on the lower level at the green shelters that look like this:

There are two buses.  Both are notoriously slow during rush hour traffic.  (Not that I can blame them.)

Route A – The longer route that loops around Terminal A.  This is the only bus that goes to Terminal A.

Route B
– The shorter loop that goes to Terminals B, C, and D and the parking lots in between.

The Route A bus takes a good 10-15 minutes extra time to get out to Terminal A so be careful when getting on it.  You could waste a lot of time!  Check out the map below. 

EXAMPLES: 
Notice how the buses run in the same direction.  If you are at Terminal B and you need to get to Terminal D, it would be faster to wait for the Route B bus.  Do NOT take the Route A bus.  If, however, you are at Terminal D and headed toward Terminal B, you can take either Route A or B because you would get off Route A before it makes the long jog to Terminal A.  Confused yet?

American / US Airways Passengers!  There is/was a special bus that connected passengers between Terminals B and C.  I'm not sure if it's still running.  Check with a representative from your airline.

Tip 3. Consider walking between Terminals B and C.

Laguardia Bus route B
Is it faster to walk or wait for the bus?  I spent many days “racing” the bus to see which was faster.  It’s a tough call.  The walk can take around 15 minutes if you are leaving from the East end of Terminal B and headed toward C.  The sidewalk isn’t great and the walkway isn’t covered.

My golden rule for deciding to walk was always this:

  • I must have less than two bags with me.
  • I must be unhindered by children. (Better to walk solo!)
  • The weather must be reasonably comfortable.
  • The traffic needs to be crawling at a snail’s pace.
  • I need to be wearing decent shoes. (Sidewalk is terrible for anyone wearing heels.)

Tip 4. Keep Your Baggage Claim Ticket!

Baggage claim is located on the lower level.  Just take the escalator or elevator downstairs. (Who am I kidding?  Those are both broken so go find the stairs.)  

To find the carousel with your checked bags,
check the monitors.  Look for your inbound destination to see which carousel will have your checked bags. (If you came in from Oklahoma City, you need to look for Oklahoma City NOT New York City.  Everyone is in New York City, dummy.)

Unfortunately, LaGuardia’s baggage claim has been targeted by thieves.  Whenever bags start to go missing, the security heightens.  They have a very “sophisticated” security measure.  You must show your baggage claim receipt to an airport employee who stands near the exit and compares your receipt with the bag's tag.  The baggage claim receipt is often a white sticker with a barcode that the gate agent sticks to the back of your boarding pass.  If you don’t have your receipt....I have no clue what happens.  If you find out, write me in the comments below!

Tip 5.  Head to the city!

Cabs NYCTaxis waiting outside Terminal B.
Were you supposed to connect to Detroit? 
Forget about it!  Go visit New York instead!  It’s the busiest, most energy-filled city you’ll ever experience.  All city-bound transportation is located on the lower level. 

TAXIS

Lower level.  They are everywhere!  All the yellow cabs are metered which mean they charge the same amount of money.  That rate can change depending on how long you sit in traffic, but it should cost around $40 with tip.

BUS
The NYC Airporter is a shuttle bus that will take you to JFK Airport, Newark, or downtown Manhattan.  You can purchase tickets online or on the lower level from the NYC Airporter employees.  (Look for their branded shirts and jackets.)  Check out their website for rates.  Don’t plan on the shuttle running on time.  It was always late when I used it!

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Want to be a local?  Try New York’s MTA.  Go to the lower level and look for a kiosk machine to purchase your Metro rail card.  You need a credit or debit card to make this purchase.  No cash.  Otherwise, if you can buy a one-way fare using EXACT change on the bus.  (The driver will NOT break a bill for you.)

Check out the MTA’s website HERE for rates.

The easiest way to get to Manhattan is to take the Q70 bus to Roosevelt / Jackson Heights and then catch the Manhattan-bound E train on the blue line.  :)

More questions about New York City's LaGuardia Airport?  Write me a question in the comments below and I'll try my best to answer!

Safe travels!
~Jenn Grahams


 
 
Many of my co-workers cringe when they hear the words Minneapolis Layover!  They would rather sit on a sunny beach in Miami than face the chilly weather of Minnesota.  I, on the other hand, was delighted to pick up a few twenty-four hour layovers in Minnie this past February!  The weather was surprisingly comfortable!  I had a chance to visit family and was able to explore The Mall of America!

The Mall of America is probably best known for its indoor amusement park.  When I visited the Mall as kid, this playland was known as Camp Snoopy
and the attractions were decorated with themes from the Charlie Brown comic.  Today the amusement park is called Nickelodeon Universe and the rides feature characters such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dora the Explorer, and Transformers.  My co-workers highly recommend trying the
SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge!  This rollercoaster sends you flying toward the ceiling at ninety degree angle, careening toward the carousel ride (see photo!), and then zooming back along a closed-loop track.  You can see a video of the ride HERE.

I enjoyed my time at the mall doing some serious window shopping with my sweet mother-in-law!  We marveled at the Crocs store.  Did you know that Crocs makes sandals and even dress heels?!  I also had my eye on a funky tanktop with a print of a sloth climbing the Empire State Building (see photo!).  Of course, Mom and I had to stay hydrated as we walked so we made a trip to Caribou Coffee (a must-see while in Minnesota!) and later, the Tea Garden to get bubble tea!  



There is just so much to see and do around the Mall of America!  They even have an indoor aquarium and a wedding chapel for marriage ceremonies!

Here are some fun photos from my visit to the largest mall in the United States.

Happy flying!
~Jenn Grahams

 
 
The flight attendant life is fairly transient.  Between working and commuting, this month I’ll take an average of six flights each week for a total of twenty-seven flights in March!  Maintaining that average, I could possibly take over three hundred flights in 2015!  (And I’m considered a “low time flier” by most flight attendant standards!)

When friends and family hear about my flight attendant schedule, some shake their heads and say I’m crazy.  They can’t imagine maintaining such an “unstable” lifestyle.  In all truthfulness, it really isn’t as frantic as it may seem at first glance.  In fact, I feel like my life is pretty grounded! 
Although I travel A LOT and spend much of my time bouncing around in airplanes, I always return to one of my homes - either my permanent residence with my husband in the Midwest or my sister-in-law's apartment in my base city (Washington D.C.). Now, try to imagine a life where you didn’t have any home!

I recently stumbled upon some truly adventurous people who take their passion for travel to an entirely different level!  Let me introduce you to some individuals who live a life that is filled with constant travel.  These are full-time travelers who have chosen to break free of traditional norms and live a nomadic life where their only agenda is to see the world and experience its riches!  How do they do it?  How do they have the funds to travel endlessly?  Surprisingly, they’ve all accomplished their travel goals in different ways!  I am amazed at their courage and I know you’ll find their stories fascinating!

Nicole & Michael  from SuitcaseStories.com

Suitcase Stories
Used with permission from SuitcaseStories.com.
Picture
Paris, Costa Rica, Barbados, Spain, Fiji – these are just some of the places Australian couple Nicole and Michael have visited since starting their journey.  A few years ago, they took the plunge to quit their jobs, sell nearly all their possessions, and set off on the adventure of a lifetime!  Last December they celebrated over 1,000 days of being on the road.

What surprises me most about Nicole and Michael’s story is that they haven’t been spending their nights in run-down youth hostels.  In fact, most of the time they’re staying in beautiful fully-furnished houses!  Their secret?  They’ve had over thirty house-sitting jobs


Suitcase Stories CoupleUsed with permission from SuitcaseStories.com.
When house-sitting, this couple is responsible for taking care of the property while the homeowners are away.  This involves fairly simple tasks such as keeping the walkways cleared of snow during winter (in some countries!) and taking care of the homeowner’s pets.  The best part is, they’re paid to sleep at the person’s home and given ample time to explore the city where they are staying!  Michael and Nicole have written an ebook – House Sitting | A Travelers Guide – to share their secrets.  Ebook sales, travel blogging, and their house sitting jobs have allowed the couple to keep traveling and they don’t plan on stopping any time soon!

Follow them on Twitter @Suitcases2
!

The Janssens Family from HappyJanssens.com

Think back to your family’s camping trip you took as a kid.  Maybe you rented an RV camper – one of those giant rolling mobile homes?  Now imagine a life where that RV is your home!  Until recently, this was the life for Americans Sara, Matt, and their daughters who traveled across the United States for four whole years while living in their RV.
Nomads RV Life
Used with permission from HappyJanssens.com.
RV HomeA look inside the Janssens' mobile home! Photo used with permission.
Sara and Matt felt inspired to live a simpler, greener life and to teach their kids to cherish the most important things in life – God and family.  One day they sold the majority of their belongings, left a few boxes of keepsakes at a family member’s home, and took off into the sunset in their mobile home which they nicknamed “The Rig”.  While roaming North America, they marveled at the beauty of nature (visiting sights such as the Redwoods in California and the Rocky Mountains in Colorado) and met diverse and interesting people.  To fund their journey, both parents took up odd jobs along the way.  Matt offered his services as a handyman to fix and remodel other RVs while Sara worked as a freelance photographer and graphic designer.

With the arrival of a third daughter and two dogs, the couple finally decided to buy a “real” home in Colorado, but they didn’t stay for long!  Sara’s posted in her blog last September that they are renting out their house and taking off for another 9 months of traveling in their new RV!  Talk about living the life of adventure!


Follow them on Twitter @happyjanssensman and @
nestinggypsy

Jonny Blair from DontStopLiving.net

Jonny Blair
Jonny Blair in Kharanaq Iran! Used with permission from DontStopLiving.net.
PictureJonny working as a steward on a car ferry!
This Northern Irishman tops the charts when it comes to traveling the longest!  Twelve years ago Jonny Blair left his home in Northern Ireland and he has been traveling ever since!  This true nomad has seen a vast portion of the world and experienced many things.  To fund his travels, Jonny has taken on all sorts of odd jobs including teaching English to Kindergarteners in Hong Kong, working as a bartender in Australia, and milking cows in Colombia to name a few!  Currently though, Jonny earns most of his travel money as a travel writer and successful online blogger.

Jonny admits that during this twelve years he has stopped on occasion to stay for longer periods of time in cities such as London, Hong Kong, Bournemouth, Parramatta and Poatina.  Nevertheless, he estimates that he’s “traveled properly” for about seven of the twelve years!  In his fascinating blog, you’ll read Jonny’s amazing tales of backpacking in Azerbaijan, climbing mountains in Borneo, skinny dipping in Antarctica, and discovering new, tasty beers in Andorra, New Zealand, and well…nearly every place he’s visited!  ;)
PictureJonny in South Korea!
In his upcoming ebook ("Backpacking Centurion: A Northern Irishman's Journey Through 100 Countries"), Jonny plans to share some of his grand adventures which have taken place in all seven continents!

Follow Jonny on Twitter @JonnyBlair!

I am truly amazed by all these individuals who have found ways to live a life of endless travel!  After reading their stories, I know I've felt tempted to trade out monthly home mortgage payments and rooms full of possessions for a nomadic lifestyle that would feed my wanderlust!  At the same time, I know I'd cave pretty quickly to homesickness!  For now, I'll stay put in my "white picket fence" home and live vicariously through these astounding adventurers!  What about you?  Do you think you'll try to follow in their footsteps?
 
 
On a cold day in February, I journeyed to New York City to visit one of my favorite neighborhoods in Queens known as Jackson Heights.  While based in New York, I routinely traveled through Jackson Heights.  The Roosevelt Avenue / Jackson Heights subway station served as my access point to trains bound for Manhattan. 
In some ways, Jackson Heights is just like any other neighborhood in Queens.  You’ll find food trucks, hole-in-the-wall shops, flocks of dirty pigeons, and of course, mountains of trash and recycling on pick-up days.
There’s an exciting energy about this little neighborhood that I find fascinating and distinct from other places in the city.  Walking down the main street, your senses are awakened by the smell of spices, the sounds of rumbling trains overhead, and the feel of the underground subway vibrating beneath your feet.

Also striking is the diversity.  Shop owners in this area are mainly immigrants from Mexico, South and Latin America, and Asia.  Walking down a side street can make you feel as if you’ve just stepped into another part of the world.

76th Street and Broadway

I began my visit at 76th Street and Broadway.  Immediately upon wandering down the street, I began seeing signs written in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
Fruit Market NYC
A sign for apples written in four different languages!
Sabay Thai NYC
I stopped for a delicious lunch at Sabay Thai!
Chinese Church Jackson Heights NYC
New York Seventh Day Adventist Chinese Church
Jackson Heights Queens
A friendly shop owner who let me take his picture!

72nd Street and Broadway

After finishing my delicious lunch, I wandered to 72nd Street where I found many local women in full-length dresses and headscarves and men wearing beards and turbans.  Shops in this area cater to Muslims seeking Halal food and drink.
Dera Restaurant Queens New York
This restaurant is famous for its Indian and Pakistani food. I want to stop by the next time I'm in New York!
Halal Meat Store
There are several competing Halal Meat stores around this block.
Asia Tribune
The Asia Tribune - a newspaper in Arabic for sale inside several shops.
Ainul Haramain
A travel agency advertising for Muslim pilgrimages.

76th - 80th Street and Roosevelt

Next I headed north to a cross-street known as Roosevelt.  Here you’ll find shops predominantly run by immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries such as Mexico, Peru, and Colombia.  Block after block you’ll find shops labeled purely in Spanish, advertising help with immigration papers and passport photos.
Visit New York Queens
Mmm....tacos!
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A vendor unloading a TON of Mexican beer!
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I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the "immigration offices" along this street specialize in fake IDs.
Piñatas for sale New York
Piñatas for sale!
It’s amazing really to see so many cultures blended into one neighborhood.  Jackson Heights isn’t a beautiful neighborhood.  In fact, it’s a bit grimy.  If you walk down the streets at night, you’ll get solicited to visit the upstairs “massage” parlors or encouraged by promoters with flyers to enter the strip clubs.   Despite all this, I still love visiting Jackson Heights, Queens and I know you’ll love it too!  If you’re planning a trip to New York City any time soon, be sure to stop by this diverse and unique neighborhood!

-Jenn Grahams


 

    Jenn Grahams

    is a flight attendant and an aspiring writer.  She lives in the Midwest with her husband, many pet fish, and two chinchillas named Kuzco and Pancho.

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