A GREAT STAY AT THE FREEHAND HOTEL IN LOS ANGELES

The next part of my 30 Plus Teams Tour took me to the city that I called home for 10 years, Los Angeles, California .

I left LA in 2006, and this was the first time that I had been back since then.

(Ironically, I moved to Las Vegas after that.)

When I lived in town, I rarely went downtown .

The only time I got to what is now known DTLA or Downtown Los Angeles, was to go to, where else , Staples Center to see a Kings hockey game, and as I was a freelance hockey writer , to interview opposing hockey players .

This time, I looked on line and saw a place called The Freehand Hotel and Hostel .

If it sounds familiar , that’s because they have branches in New York City , Miami and Chicago .

I haven’t been to any of the others, but if they’re anything like the one in Los Angeles , I’m going to be staying there too, except for the New York City one.

This hostel looks NOTHING like a hostel.

It’s located in a former commercial building and you can see that as you go up to your room.

Even though it wasn’t that warm, they have a rooftop pool

The lobby here at the Freehand reminds me of the lobby of the Hostelling International in Boston , very spacious , and could be a living room in someone’s house .

It’s that big and spacious.

The hostel is very convenient to get to by public transportation if you are at Union Station.

(Yes, they have trains in Los Angeles and they’re very clean, but more about them in another post.)

You can also take a cab or Uber or Lyft to get there as well.

There’s restaurants in the place as well as a store .

How are the rooms?

Sorry,not sorry, my bed at home should be as comfy.

The beds have lighting , very good lighting at that , outlets, and padding so that you either don’t roll over or can store things on.

(My stuffed animals had a spot on the bed for themselves , don’t judge me , okay ? )

What I liked about this hostel , among other things , was not only how professional the staff was from the moment that I checked in, but you needed your key to get everywhere, even the lounge for eating,relaxing and to get to the laundry room .

In every room,there were lockers but not your average metal lockers thay you see in most hostels.

These lockers were made of wood.

Wow how classy is this place?!

You pay much more than you would for a regular type hostel, but hey, I’m from New York City , EVERYTHING is expensive , so I don’t mind paying a little bit more for great service and a great stay, which is exactly what I received at the Freehand Los Angeles .

You better believe , God willing , my next stay in the City of Angels is gonna be here.

Thank you, Freehand Los Angeles , ya did good!

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LYFT PARK IN PICTURES

When people visit Las Vegas , they rarely visit Downtown Las Vegas.

That’s too bad.

One of the many things you would be missing , and it’s right across the street from where you pick up the Deuce bus back to the Las Vegas Strip, is Lyft Park.

It’s not a park like Central Park, but it’s a park, Vegas style with many futuristic things, and art work that makes you go, “hmm”.

You can also play a game of Cone Pone and

just to stimulate your brain, play a game of chess with some really big chess pieces .

Let the pictures show you just what Lyft Park is all about .

Of course you can get a Lyft car ride as well .

VISITING THE MOB MUSEUM

It’s official name is the National Museum of Crime and Law Enforcement but that takes much too long to say.

It’s better known by it’s shorter and more well known name, The Mob Museum.

It’s located in Downtown Las Vegas and visiting it was number 11 thing to do on my bucket list .

It’s open every day until about 5:30pm or so

If you’re a senior like me , admission is about $20 , if you aren’t, you pay $25.

There’s also a discount if you happen to be from Las Vegas.

This building, on Stewart Street, used to be the Las Vegas post office.

Before that , it was the building where the trials on Mob Activities in the United States took place.

You even get to visit the actual courtroom where real mobsters and their associates were grilled by United States Senators about their illegal activities .

There’s three floors in the museum , and when you pay your fee, they advise you to start on the third floor and work your way down so that you can understand just how this all began.

Guides also give you a crash course on the history of Las Vegas .

I’m sure most of you weren’t aware that the Las Vegas Strip isn’t actually in the city of Las Vegas , Nevada, but it’s located in the city of Paradise , Nevada.

Mobsters actually were interested in the Las Vegas Strip , not so much what is now Downtown Las Vegas.

One of the most popular exhibits in the museum is part of the wall from the St, Valentines Day Massacre in Chicago.

You’ll learn the events leading up to the massacre and the reason why it happened .

There are a lot of hands on exhibits, one

of which is standing in front of one of those lineup panels just like you see in all those crime shows.

People can see you, but you can’t see them.

In the basement , there’s a replica of an actual 1920’s speakeasy .

On the walls are pictures of the stars of that era like

Duke Ellington , Josephine Baker, and early actresses like Clara Bow and Anna May Wong.

There’s also an area in this speakeasy where you can taste moonshine .

(I declined doing that, so did my friend , )

All in all , I learned so many things that I didn’t know .

If you go to Las Vegas , make the Mob Museum a stop.

This also is a part of American history.

MARCH TRAVEL QUOTES

Can you believe we’re going into month number 3 in 2019?

The weather is getting nicer so y’all have no excuse to get out there and do your own 30 Plus Teams Tour , even if it’s in your own home town.

(Even though the school’s are closed here in New York City because of the snow storm we just had,that’s no excuse to not go out.)

Get out there and explore .

As usual , let these travel quotes inspire you .

EATING AT MAGNOLIA’S RESTAURANT

As often as I come to Las Vegas and stay at the Four Queens Hotel and Casino which is in Downtown Las Vegas , I never get the chance to eat at any of the restaurants that are located inside the casino.

One of which is Magnolia’s, which seems to be popular with most of the locals and tourists that come to Downtown Las Vegas .

When you stay at the Four Queens , they give you a coupon book for alot of the things at the hotel.

Magnolia’s is one of them.

After being invited by one of the people in my Vegas Golden Knights hockey Facebook fan page for dinner while I was in town , I can see why this restaurant is popular.

(Don’t laugh, wouldn’t you expect the Sports Diva to be in a Facebook page that has to do with sports?)

The restaurant is open for breakfast , lunch and dinner .

It’s located right above the main casino floor and most people come for the $14.95 prime rib special.

My friend and I were no exception .

While she ordered her steak medium rare, I like my steak well done.

No red stuff peeking at me, cook that sucker .

The prime rib dinner came with soup or salad, veggies , and your choice of mashed potatoes , french fries or a baked potato .

We both choose the bake potato loaded with sour cream and of course what’s a prime rib without a little horseradish ?

It was so good and wasn’t even that hungry, but I finished it all .

This was the first time that I had eaten at Magnolia’s , and believe me , it’s not going to be the last.

SPENDING MY LAS VEGAS NIGHTS AT THE STRATOSPHERE HOTEL

When I stay in Las Vegas, there’s my usual go to places to park my suitcase.

It’s either the Las Vegas Hostel on 13th street, The D, where I used to work when it was known as Fitzgeralds, and the Four Queens .

All of these places are located in Downtown Las Vegas .

For my trip from February 19 until the 27th, I stayed at the Las Vegas Hostel and a new hotel for me, The Stratosphere on the Las Vegas Strip .

Now if you’ve ever been to or have seen pictures of the Las Vegas , you know the Stratosphere .

It’s the hotel with the tallest tower west of the Mississippi .

The hotel rooms aren’t in that tower , but there’s a restaurant called Top of the World, a club called 107 Sky Lounge , not to mention the three thrill rides that are there.

You can bungee jump from the tower if you wanted to.

When I first checked into the hotel that calls itself , “The Strat “, I was in a standard room on the fourth floor.

The room had the biggest king sized bed and tub that I had ever seen .

It didn’t have a coffemaker or a refrigerator but it did come with a big screen tv(hey a girl needs to watch ESPN Sports Center).

My first room was on the fourth floor, but because a friend who was making her first trip to Vegas was staying with me, we changed rooms to the type of rooms known as “elite” rooms.

These rooms have just a shower,but they have a refrigerator and a coffemaker as well and they’re on higher floors.

We were on the 20th .

I got my room by going on Expedia but if you go on Stratosphere ‘s own website , you can find very inexpensive rooms.

Many people who stay in town usually don’t think of this hotel as their first choice.

They claim it’s too far away from the action of the Las Vegas Strip .

I have no idea what they’re talking about because this is Las Vegas , action is everywhere you turn.

If you want to see the light show on the Fremont Street Experience or take in the dancing waters at the Bellagio , the Deuce bus, which stops in front of the Strat , can get you there.

You can even take a picture of the Las Vegas sign.

No, not the sign at the beginning of the Strip that says ‘Welcome To Las Vegas “, that’s the more famous one.

I’m talking about the newest one that’s across the street from the Stratosphere .

It also welcomes you to Las Vegas, and it’s basically at the dividing line between the Strip and Downtown Las Vegas.

Many tourists who spend their Vegas nights choose many other hotels to stay at, but this gal is going to be spending alot more nights at the hotel near

the end of the strip at the Stratosphere .

GOOD EATING AT M AND M SOUL FOOD RESTAURANT IN LAS VEGAS

You might just miss this restaurant if you aren’t staying farther down the Las Vegas Strip .

It’s located across the street from the Stratosphere .

It always seems to be crowded and if you happen to go into the M and M Soul Food Restaurant , you’ll understand why.

As often as I go to Vegas, I had heard of this restaurant buut never visited becayse I didn’t know where it was.

I’m sorry that I missed this place .

The food that they serve here is what a lot of Southern blacks , like my parents, who moved to New York from North and South Carolina, grew up eating.

There on the menu were things that I remember my family members making, shrimp and grits, which the restaurant only makes on the weekends , smothered pork chops, fried chicken, chitterlings, short ribs, meat loaf smothered with gravy,and what I had oxtails with gravy.

The sides are also what I grew up on and still make by the way , collard greens , fried okra, mac and cheese , potato salad , rice and beans , and black eyed peas .

Just looking at the restaurant menu,which closes at 9pm every night, makes my mouth water .

I don’t know what took me so long to discover this restaurant , but I am so glad that I did .