#TBT: Throwback Thursday – Travel Edition

As you probably know by now, B and I love to travel. We’ve gone to some great places – international and in the U.S. – together and had a great time trying out new meals, meeting new people and getting in as much of the local scene as we can.

We have two more trips planned this year – what we’re calling an “East Coast Foliage Tour” (which will include stops in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Boston and New York) and a trip to Asia (Hong Kong and Vietnam for now). So as I started to get excited about what’s to come, I began to also think about all the great trips we’ve had over the past few years. Here are some old photos from past trips, 2010 through last year:

2010 – New York City to see my brother play at Carnegie Hall

NYC 2010 Carnegie Hall

2010 – Road trip to Pittsburgh – checking out the city for the first time and of course their Hofbrauhaus

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Not sure if this counts as travel … but we go to upstate New York quite often to see my parents. These pictures are from our engagement shots in 2010 :) (thus the cheesiness)

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2011 – trip to Chicago!  We tasted our way through local beers and deep dish pizza, and did a walking tour, tried the architectural boat tour and got in great views.

Chicago + 391 Chicago + 408 Hemmingway Lou Malnottis

2012 Cape Cod - we ate lobster, went whale watching, tried tandem biking and even walked on the beach (even with my boot :()

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Also in 2012 we went to Ireland and England! More hiking, local food and drinks, and siteseeing.

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And we ended the year in Montreal and Toronto. In a snowy winter wonderland! We still managed to walk around, check out some amazing food (crepes, poutine, Chinatown) and had a great time.

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2013 started with a winter surprise vacation in Miami - which meant sunshine, running along the beach, fresh seafood and fruity drinks!

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Also, that year we spent a week checking out another midwestern city – Milwaukee!

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And 2013 ended with a great trip to the West Coast, with stops in San Francisco, NapaSeattle, the Redwoods, Los Angeles and more.

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This year, you probably remember we started off with some travel to Costa Rica. And I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2014 holds for us for travel!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like to travel or do you prefer to stay home?
  • What’s the coolest place you’ve been – I need more places to add to my travel bucket list!
  • Ever been to Hong Kong or Vietnam? Recommendations?
  • Ever been to Portland, Maine? What do you recommend we do?
  • What’s on your travel bucket list?

 

 

 

Double Header Wedding Weekend

This weekend was B and my first double header wedding weekend. That’s right – two weddings, two cities, one weekend. It was just as fun and crazy and tiring as you may imagine.

Wedding #1: Eric and Julia 

B and I know Eric from college. Eric was in our wedding and one of B’s roommates. We’ve stayed in touch since college and even stayed with them when we visited Nashville earlier this year. We started off Friday with the 6ish hour drive to Virginia, where Wedding #1 was located.  We got up bright and early Saturday morning to go for a run and explore the area we were staying in – gorgeous Old Town Alexandria. If you’ve never been there before, I highly recommend a visit – I’d been there with Melgar and Jane once before but never spent too much time or stayed in the area.

View of the water just outside of Old Town Alexandria

View of the water just outside of Old Town Alexandria

After our short run, B and I headed to visit Emily, a friend we met in Cleveland who is now living in the DC area. B went to law school with Emily’s husband and we were bummed to see them move away – but now we have friends to see in DC! Anyway, Emily had a beautiful baby boy less than a year ago and looks amazing – and their baby is 100% ADORABLE. I’m so bummed I didn’t snap a pic – I was too distracted by his cuteness to remember to take a photo.

great lunch at Le Pain Quotidien

great lunch at Le Pain Quotidien – not pictured – the loads of bread and jams and nutella that came with this

Then, after an amazing lunch in Old Town, it was nearly wedding time!  The ceremony was at Eric’s high school in DC and was emotional and beautiful. And then it was time for the reception – it was at an outdoor celebration at an old plantation in Virginia and gorgeous. Julia’s family is from France, so the reception included some amazing wines and cheeses – in addition to some great dancing and a fun after party.

amazing first course salad

amazing first course salad

B and me outside the church

B and me outside the church

Wedding #2: Beth and Mario

Beth is B’s cousin. We’ve seen her and Mario a few times a year, including our annual family softball tournament.

Despite being out pretty late Saturday night, B and I started off Sunday early with the long drive back to Ohio for Wedding #2. Some DC traffic and getting started a little later than planned meant that we ended up running somewhat late and when we were about an hour away, B told me we probably wouldn’t have time to head back to our apartment to get changed. Uh oh. I wasn’t wearing my sweatshirt and shorts … so we ended up wearing the same thing to wedding #2 and getting changed in the car on the way over.

the  "in-laws" (all of us married into the family)

Jenni, Steph and I – the “in-laws” (all of us married into the family)

Thank goodness we made it -the reception was beautiful and we enjoyed some great specialty cocktails and a ginormous dessert table that I will dream about in weeks to come. Not to mention the photobooth. And the dancing – the DJ played a great combo of “wedding music” for people of all ages to old school 90s hip hop to today’s hits. And the celebration went on until nearly midnight (B and I left a little before then) without people tiring out.

photobooth fun with the group of cousins

photobooth fun with the group of cousins

Phew!  I need a weekend to recover form my long, fun, dance-filled weekend.

  • How was your weekend?
  • Do you have a lot of weddings to go to this year? Just one more :) Which would make our total this year to be 5.
  • Do you repeat outfits/dresses to celebrations? How do you give them a different look?  I wore a different necklace and pair of shoes from one wedding to another this time – the outfit I had planned for wedding #2 didn’t work out because we ran out of time.
  • Ever had 2 weddings in one weekend? First time!
  • What’s your favorite song to dance to at weddings?

Friday Five: Five Things You MUST Do in Costa Rica

OK, this was a really hard post to write. Why? Because I’ve only been to Costa Rica twice, and when I was there I was only able to visit a few cities. So I’m by NO MEANS an expert. AND because there are so many things to do while you’re in Costa Rica that choosing five is nearly impossible! So I apologize in advance if I missed something terribly important … but just let me know in the comments!

In no order … if you are visiting Costa Rica, here’s what I recommend you do:

Try out ziplining in Monteverde.

I had been ziplining once before – also in Monteverde when in high school – so I knew what to expect. And I really enjoyed it again. B, who has a somewhat fear of heights, also enjoyed the zipline – and at the place where we went, Selvatura, the last zipline included a “couple’s zipline” – meaning we zipped holding onto one another for 1,000 m. For those of you Americans, that’s a little more than 2/3 of a mile long. It was so long that we couldn’t see the end of the line but still amazing. And we enjoyed some breathtaking views.

I know other areas have ziplining (including Arenal) but our experience was awesome. And 1,000 m is far longer than the longest Arenal zipline from what I have seen. I did see signs in Monteverde for the “longest zipline in Costa Rica” that was 1,600 meters (aka 1 mile) so there’s always that option as well if 1,000 m is 600 meters too short for you!

ready to zipline!

ready to zipline!

Rappel and try out other canyoneering activities (cliff jumping into jungle rivers, rope/vine swinging)

Let me start by saying I’m NOT an adventurous person. I don’t like to be scared. I have never skydived and have no idea how to waterski (I guess that’s not adventurous but I just wanted to show you how lame I actually am). Using the high-dive at the public pool during summer camp is probably the bravest I have ever been. But when in Rome … (or Costa Rica)? B had booked us for a half-day canyoneering trip and I was scared. On the bus ride to the canyon, the guide was explaining the trip. “First we do a rappel down next to a big rock. You must stop halfway down on the rope, see the rock, and then continue down into the raging river of the canyon. Then we do a tarzan swing on a rope into the river, but be careful because it’s not that deep. Then a longer rappel but you have to be careful on this one because the cave wall is narrow and you can’t swing out or you’ll cut yourself on the rock. Then a zipline. Then a rappel down a waterfall and you’re not allowed to use your hands…” You get the idea. Let’s just say I was not looking forward to it and nearly had a nervous breakdown on the van ride over.

Yup, scared.

Yup, scared.

 

B and me mid-canyoneering trip

B and me mid-canyoneering trip…you can sorta see our matching shoes!

 

jumping into the water after a rappel. yes, we got wet.

jumping into the water after a rappel. yes, we got wet.

 

BUT somehow I REALLY liked it. Was I an expert rappeller? No. But did I have to be? No that’s what our guides were for. The first one made me nervous. But after that? And a few dunks into the water?? I was good as new.

Enjoy the local cuisine and drinks

I am such a fan of the food in Latin America. I know you won’t all agree with me, but my love for spicy food, fresh seafood, amazingly fresh fruit, along with living in Ecuador probably helps my tastebuds. Anyway, here are a few things to try while you’re here:

Casados: Literally it means married (i think?). It’s great. It’s a protein (fish, chicken, pork, etc.) with rice and beans, sometimes plantains, a salad and cheese. I can’t get enough of their queso fresco – my favorite cheese. You won’t leave hungry.

one of the many fish casados i enjoyed. this was at tico y rico in monteverde.

one of the many fish casados i enjoyed. this was at tico y rico in monteverde.

Sopa: I LOVED the black bean and egg soup. I love black bean soup ordinarily, but the Costa Rican version is sublime. Plus it has a hard boiled or even sometimes softer egg in there which is pretty awesome.

black bean soup at don luis in monteverde

black bean soup with an egg at don luis in monteverde

Fried plantains and plantain chips: Sweet or salty/savory, what’s not to like about these banana-like fruits?

Yuca: I love yuca in all its forms. Fried yuca. Yuca chips. Yuca bread. Mashed yuca. YUM!

Guaro: Guaro is the local vodka-like alcohol. Guaro sour is a popular drink and it’s pretty delicious if you like sweet/sour drinks. Local rum is pretty good as well as the local beer.

Ceviche: I love almost all ceviche but the ceviche in Costa Rica that I had was also amazing. I had it about 6 times, so nearly every other day. And that wasn’t nearly enough!

ceviche by the pool at hotel nayara

ceviche by the pool at hotel nayara

All of the fruit: Seriously. Eat it all. Best pineapple I’ve ever had (even B ate it. And he hates pineapple), amazing coconut from the side of the road, the maracuya and guanabana are also awesome.

fresh fruit breakfast at sugar beach

fresh fruit breakfast at sugar beach

There are so many more foods to try, but since I had given up meat for Lent, I stayed vegetarian/pescatarian the entire time so the above recommendations are based on that.

Enjoy some hot baths and hot springs in Arenal

The volano Arenal is not only beautiful, but from what I can tell, it supplies tons of heat for the hot baths and springs in the neighboring town. Tabacon has some of the best hot springs (went there in high school) and B and I also enjoyed the baths at Baldi - there were many options, each pool had a swim up bar, and most had a “cool pool” (of like 65 degrees) so you could heat up in the hot bath, then cool down, then heat up, etc.

sitting outside one of the hot pools

sitting outside one of the hot pools

Snorkel, swim, and enjoy the ocean(s)

Due to time constraints, B and I only had time to experience the western and Pacific coast of the country. But if you go, see both coasts. They are different. See different beaches, swim in the oceans, snorkel, experience black sand beaches and more. I even was able to see a blowfish – and touch it! Yup. You’re in a tropical country – do it all, put on some sunscreen and enjoy!

sunsets along the beach = awesome

sunsets along the beach = awesome

BONUS: Take a coffee tour

Okay, okay, I couldn’t pick just 5. While you’re in Costa Rica, you must see a coffee plantation. Coffee is one of the country’s top 5 exports, so why not se how it’s produced?  I must admit that the coffee tour we went on when I was in high school, while enjoyable and educational, was pretty touristy. We got free coffee samples, walked around the grounds (pun intended hehe) and saw stations that showcased the different processes of making coffee. The tour B and I did – Monteverde Coffee Tour –  was MUCH better and seemed much more authentic – I highly recommend you go on this. We had a nearly private tour of some Costa Rican farmer’s land – saw all of this livestock, learned about what they all did on the farm and how they contributed in some way to the coffee process/circle of life, walked among real coffee and other plants (banana trees, lime/orange trees), and really learned about life as a Costa Rican and a farmer. And more than i ever wanted to know about coffee. They didn’t try to sell us anything at the end (we had to ask them if we could buy coffee) and  we enjoyed some amazing locally made (that day!) goat cheese from their goats.

how our coffee was made

how our coffee was made

pretending to do work

pretending to do work

B participating in the cupping portion of our tasting

B participating in the cupping portion of our tasting

PS – Happy birthday to my brother Greg! This has nothing to do with Costa Rica but I thought he deserved a shout out.

 

San Francisco!!! (Part One)

B and I spent 3 days in the Bay Area and had a GREAT time. I’d been there before, to visit my roommate Caitlin (who now lives in Denver – remember when I visited her a few months ago?) but never spent too much time sightseeing, so exploring the area with B was awesome. And as we tend to do on vacations, we spent most of our time walking around, running around and exploring the city by foot as much as possible. Here’s what we ended up doing:

We stayed in Union Square, which was perfect. Our hotel even had a free sherry and tea happy hour each night which we took advantage of.

Lunching in Sausalito

Philz coffee- mint mojito latte!

Philz coffee- mint mojito latte!

beautiful Sausalito

beautiful Sausalito

Driving down Lombard Street

Walking / running around Fisherman’s Wharf

Running in Fisherman's Wharf

Running in Fisherman’s Wharf

Alcatraz!

Alcatraz!

Mid-run shot of B in front of Alcatrz

Mid-run shot of B in front of Alcatrz

Seeing the sea lions

Loving the free chocolate sample at Ghirardelli Square – and then enjoying an awesome salted caramel hot cocoa

This is me SUPER excited for my salted caramel hot cocoa.

This is me SUPER excited for my salted caramel hot cocoa.

this free sample was incredible!

this free sample was incredible!

Hiking around the Haight, including up the famous Full House hill/park

On our walk to the Haight - San Fran city hall1

Seen on our walk to the Haight – San Fran city hall!

I dare you not to get the opening theme for Full House in our head

I dare you not to get the opening theme for Full House in our head

Climbing up Coit Tower and catching the incredible views of the city and the Bay

views from around the tower

views from around the tower

The tower!

The tower!

top of the tower!

top of the tower!

Dining in Chinatown!

Running in Chinatown

Running in Chinatown

Awesome five course meal in Chinatown at Kam Luk

Awesome five course meal in Chinatown at Kam Luk

Tasting beers at the 21st Amendment and then watching a Giants Game – and a win in Extra Innings!

wearing orange and black to support my dad's favorite team!

wearing orange and black to support my dad’s favorite team!

people watch Giants games from the water!

people watch Giants games from the water!

And that was just one full day (well 1.5ish days). Yup, we do it big and walked A TON (in addition to our training runs) to see as much as we could around the city. Stay tuned for San Fran, part two!

Next Stop – Napa!

After our early night in Eureka, B and I decided to get up early and run our scheduled 10 miles along the Pacific coast in McKinleyville (where we were staying) before hitting the road to get to Napa. We weren’t scheduled to run until the following day in Napa – but I decided that it’d be much more pleasant running in the chilly McKinleyville weather (it was 50 degrees – and actually a “heat wave” for them!) before our drive, as opposed to running early in Napa before our 10:30 a.m. wine tasting.

We did it! Running along the beach in Arcata/Eureka.

We did it! Running along the beach 

10 miles in McKinleyville was great! We opted for a comfortable pace, just under 10 min/miles and I loved the scenery – some parts along the water, some parts on the road, other parts beach trail – etc. I love variety in my runs :)

gorgeous views along the drive - wine country

gorgeous views along the drive – wine country

After our run it was time for the drive to Napa. I won’t go into detail by detail, but Napa was amazing. Incredible. I wish I were there right now! It was a beautiful town, beautiful views, beautiful weather – and, oh yeah, the wine. Some highlights of our trip include:

Dinner and froyo in downtown Napa

2nd froyo of the trip already

2nd froyo of the trip already

An easy run around downtown

B “likes” to take pictures of me mid-run.

An exclusive vintage reserve tour and tasting at the most amazing vineyard, Opus One

Opus One!

Opus One!

Coming up the driveway to the beautiful Opus One

Coming up the driveway to the beautiful Opus One

On the steps of Opus One. Image this as your view every day?!

On the steps of Opus One. Imagine this as your view every day?!

B and the barrels

B and the barrels

Barrels of wine just waiting to be opened!

Barrels of wine just waiting to be opened!

After our tour, we were greeted with this table for our tasting. Beautiful!

After our tour, we were greeted with this table for our tasting. Beautiful!

B and I after our tasting.

B and I after our tasting.

More tastings at Robert Mondavi, Chandon and Silver Oak.

Robert Mondavi

Robert Mondavi

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Silver Oak

Silver Oak

I loved Napa. I was sad to leave, but excited when I realized our vacation was only halfway over – and we still had a few days in San Francisco, a day of visiting my bff who lives in the Bay Area (Mountain View/Palo Alto area), and then a few days in LA!

Another couple's picture!

Another couple’s picture!

Some questions for you (because it’s been a while and I want to hear from you!):

What’s your favorite type of wine? I’m usually a fan of Malbecs. I really don’t like white wine. Red wine all the way. But I LOVE me some bubbly!

Have you ever been to Napa? What’s your favorite winery? Opus One is my new favorite. It is incredible, the tasting was amazing and the tour was breathtaking. One day I hope to make enough money to just buy myself some bottles of their stuff and not blink an eye at the price tag!

Wordless Wednesday: A Few Vacation Photos

Full additional recaps are coming for the rest of my trip, but here are a few photos from our West Coast Adventure for you to enjoy in the meantime. Happy Wednesday!

Look who we found in the Redwoods!

Look who we found in the Redwoods!

Chocolate tasting in Seattle!

Chocolate tasting in Seattle!

The beautiful ocean!

The beautiful ocean!

redwood forest

feeling short

Superfans at BC game in LA!

Superfans at BC game in LA!

Artwork at Homegirl Cafe

Artwork at Homegirl Cafe

Bridges up in Seattle

Bridges up in Seattle

No big deal, just some elk crossing the road

No big deal, just some elk crossing the road

Tomorrow – Napa!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Stop … Portland! (subtitle: 5 things to do in Portland)

After spending a few days with FDF (as I started calling Katie … Future Dr F) in sunny Seattle, B and I were off on our own adventure! We picked up our rental car and headed down to our first stop – 24 hours in Portland! Well, more like 16 hours. Which is not nearly enough to give you a full review of the place, but here are a few things we did enjoy on our brief visit.

Voodoo Doughnuts- super touristy, but a must if you’re looking for a sugar high. We got too many doughnuts, but my favorite was  the peanut butter, banana and chocolate fritter!

We ate all of these.

We ate all of these.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters- if you’re like B and enjoy a good cup of coffee, you’ll enjoy this place. He enjoyed some fancy smancy Ethiopian pour over coffee, but I stuck with a chai and latte. Yes, we went there twice in 16 hours … B really likes coffee.

Such a pretty latte!

Such a pretty latte!

Deschutes Brewery- pretty good beer! B and I stopped there for a drink and stayed a little longer. We tried a flight of beer and then decided to get some more – I loved the Black Butte XXV .. a lot!

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testing out beers at Deschutes!

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Luc Lac- our awesome dinner. Seriously, I looooved this place! You order when you walk in and they bring it to your table -so you must know what you want when you walk in. I had the Vermicelli Combo and while I didn’t plan on eating the pork (it also had shrimp and chicken), I loved it! We became members of the clean plate club that night.

my awesome combo plate at luc lac

my awesome combo plate at luc lac

spring rolls at luc lac

spring rolls at luc lac

Powell’s Bookstore- I promise we did more than just eat and drink in Portland. This bookstore was great! I love looking at, smelling (yes, it’s a little weird but I love smells of books), thumbing through and even reading old and new books so I adored this place. The  book B was looking for wasn’t actually in, but he bought some other reading material instead. Definitely a place to stop, even if it’s just to see all the books they have!

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After Portland it was time to drive down the coast for the rest of our trip. I leave you with the beautiful scenery we encountered along our drive. Enjoy! More to come on the rest of our vacation.

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