Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Drama Queen Travels to Phoenix

It was really out of necessity that the DQ headed southeast.  I needed to take a required course for my advance-practice certification, and the closest city that didn't involve waiting several months was Phoenix.  Well, the DQ loves to travel, and she'd never been to Phoenix before, so why not?  Considering Phoenix is only an 80-minute flight from LA, the expense wasn't too great, so I chose to look at it as a new adventure, with no expectations, so I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

It didn't start off too well for me.  I got hives the minute I stepped off the plane.  Darn my very sensitive skin!  I definitely didn't expect it, especially since I'm from the Southwest, and I'm very used to desert weather.  Oh, well.  I wasn't going to let that ruin my trip.  I'd have 4 days in Phoenix. I might as well make the best of it and explore the best of the city.

One thing I liked about Phoenix was the Light Rail. This is an above-ground train that stops at the most popular destinations in the city, including the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport and Chase Field stadium, where the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team plays their home games. It also travels east, cutting through Tempe (home of the Arizona State University campus) and Mesa. It costs $2/ride, but only $4 for an all-day pass. So even if you plan to go to only one destination and come straight back to your point of origin, it's most practical to buy an all-day pass. A 1-week pass costs just $20. I found this sign at one of the stops, each one containing a piece of work by a local artist. I thought it was very fitting to post as my first picture in this entry.
I was hoping to post a picture of a stereotypical Southwestern sunset, but I couldn't get a picture of both a sunset and cactus together. However, I did get a picture of a red mountain at sunset and a picture of a few different cacti. 

I had Googled "high end shopping Phoenix" a couple of weeks before my trip, but was disappointed to find that my search yielded a bunch of shops in Scottsdale, except one. It was Frances. It was labeled as "the best boutique in Phoenix" and "very Phoenix", but I gave up hope of going there, too.  I had no idea if I'd be able to find it...Now back to the Light Rail...after picking a few select stops, I explored the area around each one.  After getting off at Central/Camelback, I looked across the street...and there it was!  I had to go in!
I expected the clothes to be in the $200-500 range, but surprisingly, most of the pieces were under $100.  I browsed the sale rack, but didn't find anything I liked.  I finally found a dress on a dummy that was $75.  Perfect!  However, even the smallest size was still too big for me.  The teenage salesgirl was just helpful enough, meaning she wasn't snotty or mean, but she wasn't enthusiastic.  I chalk it up to her being young and it was nearly closing time on a Friday night.  Then again, I'm the kind of shopper that likes to be left to browse at my leisure, so her lack of service didn't bother me too much.  However, if it wasn't for her, I would've missed this piece:
Sometimes I wonder if I should've been born in the 1930s so that I would've been a young woman in the 1950s cuz I'm a sucker for feminine A-line dresses!  This particular one is not the most flattering dress I own, but I love polka dots and it's washable by hand.  What also makes this dress special is it's from a brand called Mata Traders, whose materials are hand-printed by women in India and Nepal, so their local economies are boosted. 

My return flight home wasn't until the afternoon, so on my last day in Phoenix, I hopped back on the Light Rail and headed back to Frances.  I was hoping for a better experience, as I actually had a whole hour and a half to browse this time.  It was.  The salesperson was a middle-aged woman who appeared to be very enthusiastic about the boutique and seemed to appreciate that I went out of my way to visit, particularly since I'm from out of town. Even though I spent just $20 on a T-shirt off the sale rack, the saleswoman wrapped it up nicely with a fuchsia ribbon.  From the pictures and store website, I expected all the items to be locally made, but the only things I found that were were kitchen accessories, soaps, and candles.  I really didn't need any of those, so I passed.  I got a picture of the baby-items display.  If I had a baby of my own, I might have picked something up from it.  I just love the bright yellow wall!
I read the reviews about Frances on when I got home, and I'm so glad I waited until then to read them.  I disagree with most of the posters.  Almost all of them said the items were too expensive, but maybe I'm just used to seeing high price tags, so I didn't think Frances items were expensive at all.  A few posters also stated that the sizing on the clothing was too small.  As someone who wears small sizes, I found that the selection was quite limited.  The only dress in the store I was able to find that fit my body was the one I walked out with.

On another stop on the Light Rail, I found a bakery called Kick Ass Kakes.  I could've used a cupcake for a little sugar kick and was eager to buy a treat or 2 to take home to my family, but it was a Monday, and it was closed.  I saw pictures of their work in the window, and this particular cake stood out to me:
OK, no cupcake, but that was good for my waistline!  It was time to get to the airport, so I took my last ride on the Light Rail and headed back to my hotel.

As I was sitting on the Flyaway bus at LAX headed to Van Nuys, I spotted a paparrazzi mob scene at the Tom Bradley International terminal.  As long as I've lived in LA and as many celebrities I've seen mobbed by papparazzi, I've never been in a position to get a photo, so I took the opportunity to get my first.  I saw a tall blonde woman wearing a beanie and huge sunglasses. All around her, flashes went off and people held out headshots and pens.  She signed a few, but then was whisked away in a town car.  Who was she?  I couldn't figure it out.  She looked like Brandi Glanville of the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" to me.  I Googled "celebrities spotted at LAX March 11" on my phone the whole ride home, but couldn't get an answer.  The next day, the answer was on  It was Victoria's Secret supermodel Candice Swanepoel.  Of course!  On March 12, she was at an event at the Victoria's Secret store in the Beverly Center.  Here's my photo of the mob scene.  I was quite far away, and it wasn't as if there was any time to make the proper adjustments (and I'm not an experienced-enough photographer to think of what adjustments need to be made quickly), but I circled Candice's face.  If you study it for a minute, you may be able to make out her features:
Overall, a memorable weekend.  I don't know if I'll ever return to Phoenix, but I'm always happy to expand my travel knowledge and gain new experiences.  If I ever do return to Phoenix, I know where to go and how to get around =)