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Home to California.

This has been one hell of a week with the attacks happening in the world. It’s hard to find the words really. You can’t help but be glued to the news, articles, to the stories of the lives that were taken. The whole world is on edge right now. And as you sit on your couch watching it all unfold, cuddled up with your husband and cat you think, “That could be me. It could be any of us. Our last day on earth without knowing it when we got out of bed that morning.” Then you reach over and hug a little tighter.

In a world gone crazy, let’s remember to be kind to each other. To embrace differences, and spread love. There are so many innocent people being killed and it breaks my heart. I may not be able to change things over night but what I can do is stay informed and be a good person. Please, let’s all do that for each other.

Sending love to you wherever you are! ♥

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No matter how long you are gone from the place you call home as soon as you go back to visit it’s like you never left. I finally got to go back home to California. It was a whirlwind of a trip but really really fun and so great to see the people that I love. Because after all, the people make the place what it is. I hadn’t been back for that long of a trip since we moved to Nashville a year ago. The longest I’ve EVER been away from California.

The Nashville airport is the most chill airport you’ll ever go in. It always takes no time at all to check your bags and get through security. This past time it took about 11 minutes. No joke. And you’ll see tons of people walking around with guitars either heading off for a gig, returning home or passing through Music City. My husband Eric and I were those people on this trip. IMG_3543We landed into LAX and we were thrown back into the chaos. After you’re out of living in a crazy fast paced city you almost forget how loud it is, how many people are everywhere, the traffic, the honking,  tons of cars and how much longer it takes to get around. But for some reason we still felt at home. It’s a love hate thing. And maybe a little bit of you likes the chaos you complain about.

The whole trip was based around us playing a gig in San Francisco at The Hotel Utah Saloon. San Francisco is in between the two places I grew up: Napa and Fremont, California. The heartbeat of the Bay Area. I’d been wanting to play a hometown show for awhile now so that everyone at home can see what I’m really up to while I’ve been away. To know that I’m chasing this dream of mine everyday. I’m a Country singer-songwriter in case I didn’t mention that in my previous entry and my husband Eric is a guitarist (click his name to visit his YouTube Channel.) The show was so fun! One of the best I’ve played. So many people came from different areas in NorCal. Which I really appreciated! Fremont family, Ranch family, cousin RJ, my first guitar player ever J Mattingly! It was happiness overload. It meant a lot to me to look out and see you all there. I’ve missed you guys! Thanks so much to my best friends Mina Doulabi (click on her name to learn about “Posture Guru” / her personal training website) and Melissa Reyna for hanging out all night long! And to Mel for letting us all crash at your place in San Fran. Backstreet was back, alright. Best slumber party ever!!!

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Once we landed and picked up our rental car, we headed to my old neighborhood in Hollywood to drop off our stuff.  Our friend Nate, one of the nicest dudes you’ll ever meet, let us use his apartment since he wasn’t in town. In my first blog entry I talked about going to Musicians Institute and having some of the most memorable times in my life and we lived on Fuller and Franklin right below Runyon Canyon (a very popular hiking spot: See photos below) So needless to say, I was flooded with memories just being a block away from there on Hollywood and Fuller. It’s the best area in Hollywood to live in in my opinion and I always felt safe there.

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We grabbed some food at Urth Caffe on Melrose. I’ve missed the cafes in LA! Organic food, super good coffees (Honey Vanilla Lattes there rock my world!) and just the vibe there. There is another location in Pasadena as well. And of course we grabbed In-N-Out because it’s the best fast food chain there is! You have to get it whenever you can. For those of you who don’t know there is also a secret menu where you can order things like French Fries Animal Style which means they’ll put melted cheese, grilled onions and thousand island on them. The milkshakes are crazy good too!

We had rehearsal the night we arrived with my band mates Kevin Campos (singer/songwriter/guitar player) Darren Augustus (drummer/producer/songwriter) and my husband Eric Bickerstaffe was on guitar. It was awesome! Just like old times. I’m thankful to work with people that are talented, professional, a blast to be around AND always play great. It’s fun to play music with your friends.

Take Me Back - on iTunes and Spotify

I’m trying to keep this more on the travel side and not as much music, but music is my life so it’s going to cross into here from time to time. If you’re interested to hear what I do, you can find my music and show dates here: www.raihannaestrada.com and can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and my EP’s are both on iTunes & Spotify. Thanks for listening!

Now for the fun part…PICTURES! I want you guys to be able to follow along and feel like you can see pieces of these places through my eyes.  I’ve always been a picture/video/journal/memory freak LONG before social media came into existence. I get it from my Mom. She was ALWAYS taking photos, pack ratting bits and pieces from times gone by, narrating home videos and being the keeper of the memories. So I took on that same love for myself and the people around me. I’ll always be the one in the group to say, “Ok guys, let’s take a picture!”

It was a busy trip to California, but here are some of the places I went to and places that are must haves for me when visiting! This will give you some great places to try out when you visit Los Angeles. There are SO many options for places to eat, go for coffee and things to do there but being someone who lived there for six years here’s a few of my faves.

IMG_3592IMG_3593The Alcove Cafe & Bakery in Los Feliz has always reminded me of walking into Alice In Wonderland. They have their garden seats, huge coffee/tea mugs and really delicious cakes and pastries. The seating looks on to Hillhurst street and it’s a nice place with really good food to catch up with a dear friend in the sunshine. Pictured below is my soul sister and singer-songwriter Jessica DePasquale. She’s originally from Worcester, MA but has been in Los Angeles for over ten years now so it’s home. She has always picked out great places for us to go to over the years throughout the city. (Click on her name to listen to her Alt-Indie-Rock EP “Unbound”) The food photos below are the Breakfast Quesadilla and cake display. GO there!

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Urth Caffe is another one of these organic, delicious places. And a must go to! Click on the link to view their locations and their menu. As I said above, their Honey Vanilla Latte is one of the best things I’ve ever had. Both locations are great but the Pasadena location is a bit bigger. Although, you just might see a paparazzi or two across the street trying to catch a celeb sighting at the Melrose location. If you’re into that stuff. You’re also a short drive from Beverly Hills.

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Aroma Coffee and Tea Company A favorite to many and very popular spot. I mean just look on YELP at the 4 stars and 1900 reviews it has! It’s located in Studio City and has a similar Alice In Wonderland vibe like the Alcove as you head back to the patio to find seating. It’s also dog friendly. And the staff is always SO nice here! Which really makes them stand out. The lines can get quite long especially on the weekend for brunch/lunch time but it’s worth the wait. Or just get there early. But you’ll always find people here. Even late at night people will be there grabbing a dessert and tea. Check out their menu online, just click on Aroma above.

This time while I was there my friend Nikki (Nicole Rochell) and I were in need of tea (the black tea Summer Peach is my fave) and Red Velvet Cake to catch up. It was so good! To sum up these places, I LOVE the cafes in Los Angeles! And that there are healthy options everywhere you go or you can enjoy cake like we did. HA! (PS. The Aroma on Sunset Blvd is not the same place)

I wish I took more pictures of everything to show you but Nikki and I were blabbing away as usual. Nicole Rochell is an actress in LA and was just recently on the show Masters of Sex on Showtime. You can add her on Facebook to keep updated with her career and say you knew her when. She’s hilarious!

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Crazy Rock’n Sushi One of the things that I miss most about LA is having GREAT sushi places EVERYWHERE! Not so much in Nashville. At least not that I’ve found yet. There is a great one here called Virago but it’s a little pricey so you can’t just swing in and grab some rolls all the time. I still need to venture out in Nashville to check out the few places that I’ve heard of.

ANYWAY! This place will always be one of my favorites. My friend Jacqueline Netteberg (amazing singer-songwriter who lives in Gothenburg, Sweden / check out her music & stay tuned for her debut EP) and I discovered this place in 2009 after having a day of Vintage shopping and thrifting. Treasure hunting days were our favorite! We ordered a bunch of things and it only came out to about $25 bucks! What?! So naturally we told all of our friends and it became our “Central Perk.” Birthdays, going aways, after graduation and of course just a regular old sushi craving, we came there. It got to the point that the waitresses would ask “Is Rai coming?” We all loved that place and when people came back to visit we would always go. The Philly Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll and the Sweet Love Roll are a couple of my favorites (Crazy Rock’n sushi menu.) This place is small but really good and it’s in the same structure as the Target on Santa Monica and La Brea. Which means, an hour of free parking in the garage! That counts for a lot in LA. Hope you get the chance to try it!

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Runyon Canyon I used to live a block away from Runyon Canyon. My window was right next to the street so early in the morning you could always here the chatter from people hiking up the hill. There are a lot of great places to hike in Los Angeles, but this one is definitely a must do when you’re traveling to Hollywood. You get the view of the Hollywood sign, downtown LA and the epic houses in the Hollywood hills. You might even spot a celebrity or two from your favorite TV show hiking. There are also different routes you can take if you want to have a more challenging hike. If you forget to bring water or a snack, no problem! Bring a few dollars with you and you can purchase a cold water for your way up and a granola bar for your way down. It’s an honor system, you just drop your money in and take what you’ve paid for.

IMG_4011Being in that neighborhood and going to Runyon brings up a lot of memories of first moving to LA and going on hiking dates with my now husband. Days running up solo with my favorite music on dreaming big at the top while I looked out over the city. I loved the dream catcher that I saw hanging up there. Catching the hopes of all the dreamers in the City of Angels. Make sure to bring your camera with you because you’ll want to take a picture standing on top of it all.

IMG_4005IMG_4074IMG_4068 IMG_4081IMG_4019IMG_4076If you’ve made it here to the end, thank you for reading! I’m really excited to be starting Go Anywhere Girl. Please comment below and let me know some of YOUR favorite places in Los Angeles or places that you hope to visit someday. After all, I want this to be about us all connecting through our love of travel. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram: @thegoanywheregirl and Twitter: @goanywheregirl for more updates! Until next time…

♥ Raihanna 

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Dress from: Beyond Retro Stockholm

Hi I’m Raihanna, the Go Anywhere Girl.

Hi, my name is Raihanna. I can’t think of any other way to start this but to tell you a little bit about the girl behind the computer. I’m from Northern California in the Bay Area, Fremont to be exact and grew up in Napa county in Lake Berryessa at the R-Ranch at the Lake as a kid. I was living in San Diego for a brief period in 2008 with my best friend Melissa and going to community college (because that’s just what you do when you’re trying to figure it all out) and I was freaking out about studying for my Biology test because I just couldn’t bring myself to care about what I was studying. Science and math are NOT my thing. So she said, “Put the book away and let’s think of some other options. What do you love to do?” To which I replied, “Well, I’d love to be able to sing and do music…” “But, that’s not a possibility right? I mean, that’s why I’m going to school like everyone else to attend a University and get a degree? I’m going to major in Psychology.” Wrong. A few Google searches later, my whole life changed.

Later on down the road in March 2009 I made a big decision and moved to Los Angeles. I moved there to attend Musicians Institute in Hollywood and take their Vocal Program and Independent Artist Program. The photo above is my first day of school! Look at that excitement. It changed my life for the better in so many ways. I learned so much. And I look back on these times as some of the most memorable.

During the first few days I met some friends from all over the country and world. The country and people that had the biggest impact on my life were from Sweden. I had never met anyone from Sweden before, but then I ended up living with all Swedes who became my family and best friends. Over the course of living with them all, their friends and family came over to visit and I met even more amazing Swedish people and learned about their culture. I’m an honorary Swede now! We’ll visit that in another entry because there’s too much to say. I also made friends from Italy, Switzerland, Canada, Colombia, Panama, Australia, Ireland, Wales and all over the U.S. It truly opened up my eyes to the whole world, making music and I’m so thankful for that experience.

Moral of the story, if you feel like there is a place that is calling your name or you feel like you should be doing something else, LISTEN TO THAT VOICE! Go for it. Something great could be waiting for you if you just take that leap.

First hike up Runyon Canyon
First hike up Runyon Canyon, Hollywood sign behind me. 2009

Los Angeles is a great place to live. It’s such a melting pot with so many opportunities. Really good food and you can get anything you want there at any time. Which definitely makes you spoiled when you move somewhere else. Sure, there’s traffic. And yes, at certain times in the day you want to avoid freeways at ALL costs. (Side note: always pee and make sure you have gas before chancing the freeway. I’ve made that mistake and my bladder wasn’t happy.) And yes, everyone you meet WILL BE an actress, model, dancer, singer, videographer, graphic designer, photographer, entrepreneur who knows someone, that knows someone, who knows someone BIG. But there is magic there. You’re surrounded by a lot of creativity, drive and sunny days. I was there for about six years, made unforgettable memories, friends and grew as an artist.

Remember those International friends I was talking about earlier? Well, one of them was a guitar player from Calgary, Alberta in Canada named Eric. He’s my husband. He’s the best. We got married in August 2013 in Camarillo, CA. We both lived in LA for awhile and then it started becoming the constant, “What’s the next step?” For me, that next step had been Nashville, Tennessee on my mind for many years to continue my career as a country singer-songwriter. And after visiting in February 2014 Eric was on board and we decided that in the Fall of 2014 we’d make the big move. So here we are. Residents of Nashville!

Photo by Anna Delores Photography www.anndelores.com
Photo by Anna Delores Photography www.annadelores.com

Now that we’re up to speed with where I am living currently, it brings me to starting Go Anywhere Girl. My Mom’s best friend Nodie would always call me the “Go Anywhere Girl” because whenever she’d talk to me on the phone I was either just coming back from somewhere or getting ready to go. “Where you off to now, Go Anywhere Girl?” I’ve made traveling a point and priority because I love it. The trips I’ve taken are some of the most vivid and meaningful memories I have.

Of course, when I was 18 years old my girlfriends and I drove down to San Diego and went to Tijuana, Mexico. A rite of passage if you will. As you’d imagine, we drank and danced the night away because you CAN there and at that age, you think it’s super cool. The first time I ever went to Europe was in 2005 with my best friend who I grew up with, Mina, to Spain! It was so awesome! We went again the following year to the same places, Barcelona (or as they say, Bar-TH-elona) and San Sebastian for Semana Grande, and my other best friend Melissa joined us. Exploring Gaudí’s work all over Barcelona, hitting the night clubs (which all stayed open until the early hours of the morning) and being on our first topless beach in San Sebastian. Then I went with my friend Oscar and his family on a trip to Costa Rica in 2008. We went to some beautiful beaches (Jaco Beach), ate good food like the common but always delicious gallo pinto but I also saw the poverty in some of the neighborhoods. It was an eye opening trip for me because I’d never seen anything like that before. His family was very welcoming. I also may or may not have had a few long islands with his Aunts and danced on chairs while singing Selena. It happens. We all rode around in our 11 passenger van with everyone singing songs in Spanish, they had things planned for us to do and made sure we had fun.

San Sebastian, Spain
San Sebastian, Spain

I’ve traveled a lot since those early trips, but I’m going to save those for other entries. My main point here is that I’ve always loved traveling! And on one lazy Sunday here in Nashville about a month ago I started thinking about “What do I want to do with my life?” Well, I’m already pursuing music. I work at a restaurant as a server for income. I thought, “Hey! I should start a travel blog! I love to write, travel, take photos and work on the computer.” Only one problem, I’d never had a blog before. I’ve kept personal journals since I was 13 years old, yet I’d never made one for the world to see. Eeeek!

So I googled “How To Start A Travel Blog” and this awesome girl named Liz who has a blog called “Young Adventuress” had an entry called “10 Tips For Starting a Kick Ass Travel Blog” Ding ding ding! The wheels started turning. I told my husband Eric about the idea and he was all for it! He said, “Oh my gosh, this makes so much sense. IT’S SO YOU. Why have we never thought of this before?” I guess I was too busy enjoying the trips (which is a good thing) to think of sharing them besides a few photos here and there on Facebook. But I’m ready to share now. I hope that you’re ready to Go Anywhere with me!

You can follow me on Instagram for more updates: @thegoanywheregirl