Two Days in Mendocino and a Drive Up North

(this is part two of a travel recap post – part one can be found here: A Day in Sonoma)

Last week, my family took a trip out to the West Coast to visit my brother. After spending time with family and a day in Sonoma, it was time for our next stop – Mendocino. The road to Mendocino was part of the trip in itself. Greg had helped planned us a route along highway one, with scenic views overlooking the Pacific coast. I’m so glad I was able to go – it was gorgeous, and we even got to stop for lunch in one of the small coastal towns along the way.

GREAT view along the ride.

GREAT views along the ride.

We arrived in Mendocino just before our B&B’s happy hour, which was great. We stayed at the Inn at Cobbler’s Walk, which is part of Glendeven, and I’d definitely recommend it. The property isn’t too big, is close to a bunch of walking/hiking trails and even has llamas and 100s of chickens on site.

llamas on the property!

llamas on the property!

After enjoying the local wine and great cheese at the Inn for the complimentary happy hour, it was time for dinner in downtown Mendocino. It’s a small downtown with shops and restaurants, we enjoyed another dinner on a patio before taking a walk around the downtown as the sun was setting.

family selfie at happy hour

family selfie at happy hour

The next morning, I woke up relatively early and went for a walk, including to the beach, on a path just a few minutes away from our room.

beach front walk in the morning

beach front walk in the morning

We had breakfast served to our room at 9 a.m., which included a three-course meal – yogurt and granola, eggs and a scone. Sooo good!

the amazing meal

the amazing meal

After breakfast, we checked out the rest of the grounds – the llamas and chickens and garden – and then headed to downtown Mendocino for a walk along the Headlands and lunch. It was such a gorgeous day!

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Our second night we stayed at a different place, this time with cabins and adjoining rooms so that we were all able to hang out and watch a movie – Beetlejuice – at night. This inn had goats this time.

Peanut Butter and Jelly, the goats!

Peanut Butter and Jelly, the goats!

We had a great dinner that night – we ended up wandering back downtown and hit up the MacCallum Inn. This week’s WIAW shares some of eats – wine, cheese, ratatouille and blackberry soufflé. SO good.

DESSERT.

DESSERT.

The next morning, we took a short walk around the new inn, and then hit the road for breakfast in Fort Bragg followed by a drive through the Avenue of the Giants. It is SO cool to ride among those SUPER tall trees! We also had time to stop for a hike along one of the trails. I love a good, easy nature hike!

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What a great trip – I hope we can do it again soon!

Some questions for you:

  • Have you ever been to the Redwoods?
  • Do you like hiking? Nature? I enjoy hiking, but i’m not a HUGE nature fan. I’m scared of bugs, snakes, animals, etc. 
  • Have you ever seen the movie Beetlejuice?

 

Friday 5: Family Vacation Favorites

I’m just getting back from a week of vacation spending time in New York and California with family. I’ve already written a few recap posts (NY, Sonoma), but before finishing up those posts, here’s a quick Friday Favorites dedicated to some of my favorite photos from our trip. Here you go – a few photos and one sentence as to why I like each photo.

1. Redwoods Selfie: Love that it shows all of us just hiking in the Redwoods, a place that is seriously so unbelievably beautiful, that it’s only better if you’re sharing it with family.

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2. Family in Jersey: Again, love that it captures me and my extended family – we’re hardly ever all in one place! family at katies birthday

3. Me and Greg @ Dinner: We actually look pretty related here, which doesn’t happen often. 20150726_202918

4. Greg and me and the vines: A traditional brother-sister selfie.

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4. Lavender fields at the vineyard: I can look at this picture and smell how beautiful it was!

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5. Parents on our walk along the Mendocino Headlands: They make me happy ❤20150728_140539

AND a bonus: Mom feeding the chickens: Because when else are we ever feeding chickens, or even around wildlife (and she looks like she’s having a great time!)?1438107515188

Happy Friday! I’m linking up today with Life in Leggings and Fitting it all In! 

A Day in Sonoma

After our weekend in NY, we were headed to California to visit my brother! We flew out early Sunday, and got to San Fran early enough so that we had nearly a whole day to spend. Our first day? A trip to Sonoma. We had a tour and tastings, visiting two wineries in the area.

winery #1

winery #1

Family at winery #2

Family at winery #2

Followed by dinner in downtown Sonoma. We were staying right near downtown and were able to walk to dinner at LaSalette, a great Portuguese place with outdoor dining. If you’re ever in Sonoma, I highly recommend staying near their downtown. There was a cute little square with a lot of shops and restaurants, as well as a biking/walking/running path not to far away.

downtown Mendocino

downtown Mendocino

Greg and me at dinner

Greg and me at dinner

Feijoada!

Feijoada!

The next morning, thanks to the time difference, I was able to wake up early enough to enjoy a run around town, even among wineries. A 5 mile run through fields of lavender and vines of grapes? My idea of pretty pretty perfect!

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After the run and hotel breakfast, we headed to our last winery, Matanza, which is known for its field of lavender. Oh my goodness- as we pulled up, we couldn’t help but smell the gorgeous aroma of lavender and see the purples everywhere! We were lucky enough to have an informal impromptu tour (we had missed the one formal tour of the day) and share a wine tasting as well. It was pretty perfect – it was my mom’s birthday AND she loves lavender, so it was a great way to start the day.

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Then, we were off. Onto our next destination – Mendocino! (more to come)

Some questions for you:

  • Have you ever been to Sonoma before?
  • What’s your favorite kind of wine? Reds or whites?

WIAW #25: Vacation Eats in Mendocino

A very happy What I Ate Wednesday to you! I’m excited to share with you a great day of eats- different than my typical everyday eats – in fact, I’m vacationing with my family in California and we had a great day in Mendocino. A great day with a nice walk around the town, and wonderful eats.

Gorgeous Mendocino!

Gorgeous Mendocino!

The Inn that we were staying at delivered a great breakfast to us in the morning in a cute basket. The Inn boasts 100+ chickens, so of course there were some fresh eggs included with breakfast:

breakfast menu

breakfast menu

Greg carrying our breakfast basket

Greg carrying our breakfast basket

the amazing meal

the amazing meal

We took a great walk after breakfast around downtown Mendocino, all around the Headlands along the ocean. We got hungry along the way and snacked on some Malley’s Dark Chocolate Almonds.

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After our walk, we stopped for lunch at a cafe downtown. My mom and I split a lunch – we got a salad trio, with quinoa, kale and brussels sprouts salad. It was really good and tasted so fresh.

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Dinner was so good. We ended up eating at MacCallum House, an inn in town, and had an amazing meal. We enjoyed a bottle of local Pinot Noir, some fresh baked sour dough, and shared a cheese platter.

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My mom and I split the arugula, proscuitto and chèvre salad and ratatouille. I love splitting meals, and it was the perfect way to try a bunch of food without getting too stuffed.

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Dessert was so so so good. We had a fresh blackberry soufflé and split it four ways. Since it had been my mom’s birthday, they put a candle in a side of cream for her to blow out.

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That concluded our day in Mendocino. It was such a good day of eats – I really can’t complain! As always, click on the badge below to see what WIAW is all about.

Some questions for you:

  1. What’s the best thing you ate yesterday?
  2. Have you ever been to Mendocino?
  3. Splitting meals – yay or nay?

Easter Weekend in San Fran!

How was your weekend? I know it’s a little late for a weekend update, but I’m still getting over a really great weekend in San Francisco with my family.

My little (but taller than me of course) brother moved out to San Fran last year and it’s pretty hard to be a whole coast away. So, when my parents mentioned they were thinking of going out to visit him for Easter, I jumped at the chance to join them, and B came along too!

Me and Greg <3

Me and Greg ❤

We got in early Friday so had the whole day to catch up with my brother, see one of my bffs who lives just outside the city and also get some work done. Oh, and the weather was sunny and in the 60s, so I really couldn’t complain!

cute cafe for work on Fri.

cute cafe for work on Fri.

And they had a garden!

And they had a garden!

Friday started out with a little work, some coffee and getting post-work drinks with Melgar and my brother. My parents didn’t get in until late, so we enjoyed a late dinner before all of us passed out – jet lag!

Melgar!

Melgar!

Saturday was a long but great day. B and I started it out early-ish with a 7.3-something mile run throughout the Presidio and Crissy Field to the Golden Gate Bridge. Stopping to take photos on runs during my vacation is just what I needed. Note to self – there are a lot of hills in San Fran so don’t be discouraged if your “race-pace” run turns into more of interval running.

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We also went for a great hike with my parents. We started through the beautiful Golden Gate Park and then ended with a route through Lands End. My brother had planned the hike for us and it was a great way to see the outskirts of the city, the beach, and great views of the water and the bridge.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

Oh, and we got Umami Burger. I am in LOVE with their food now – their veggie burger and ahi tuna burger (my mom and I got both and split it) were so good, as were their sweet potato fries. And beet salad. #Stuffed

ahi tuna burger

ahi tuna burger

Sunday was a rest day, but rest we did not. After Easter Mass, we enjoyed some breakfast and then another walk throughout downtown! We started off where my brother lives in the Presidio and then walked to downtown until we got to the Ferry Building. We were meeting up with some of my extended family – my dad’s cousin and his wife – for dinner. Our Vietnamese family style 3-course meal at the Slanted Door was amazing – definitely not what I typically eat for Easter but SO SO good!

salad and spring rolls

salad and spring rolls

Some of my entrees

Some of my entrees

dessert!

dessert!

extended family

extended family

After dinner, we walked around downtown until it was time to meet up with my brother’s friend Phyllis for drinks. We grabbed lounge seats in a really cool place, The Original Joe’s, and enjoyed cocktails and wine. I loved my dark and stormy 🙂

drinks!

drinks!

Monday was a road trip day! After a 5 mile run and breakfast, we were on a mini road trip.

scenes from our Monday morning run

scenes from our Monday morning run

breakfast at a cute coffee shop

breakfast at a cute coffee shop

We took a car and headed to Pescadero and then Capatola. We enjoyed lunch (fresh fish and pie!) and a short walk while taking in the sights and beautiful water and beaches.

Love the scenery!

Love the scenery!

Brian and Melissa in Capitola

Capitola – colorful in the background!

 

It was a great end to our trip – we got in some walks, some beaches, a lot of great food and quality family time. Even with taking a long weekend, it went by waaay too fast! I can’t wait to do it again.

Some questions for you:

  • How was your weekend?
  • Have you been to SF? Any favorite places?

Vietnam Part Two – A Day on the Mekong River

One of my favorite parts of our Asia trip and trip to Vietnam was our day trip to the Mekong River. Our day started off early – it was about a 2.75 hour drive to the boat station where our adventure would begin.

b and i on the boat

b and i on the boat

Around 10:30, Brian and I got onto a sampan boat for a ride down the Mekong river.It was just me and him, our guide (who spoke English and would translate for us) and our driver. We first rode down to a floating market where we bought some fruit to enjoy as a snack. I bought some jackfruit – it’s my newest favorite fruit after visiting the area. I just can’t get enough and wish I could find some good ones in the U.S.! Anyone know where I can? So delicious!

buying fruit from one boat to another!

buying fruit from one boat to another!

Then we stopped off at a local honey farm to try some tea, queen bee cream, honey and pollen. They put the pollen and honey in our jasmine tea and it was so good! I’m so happy I was able to bring some back.

After about an hour boat ride we made it to our lunch stop for a traditional lunch- elephant ear fish made into spring rolls with homemade rice paper, pineapple and shrimp soup, prawns, egg rolls, rice, beef and chicken with fried flowers. It was a feast- seriously too much food.

this is elephant ear fish.

this is elephant ear fish.

After lunch we got to hear a performance from a few local Vietnamese- they were singing and dancing and playing some local instruments and even ended with a Vietnamese rendition of Auld Ang Sine for the New Year!

Then we got back on the boat for a ride to a place where local men and women were making puffed rice, turning it into rice candy and also making coconut candy and rice paper. Both processes were really interesting (everything was done by hand) and we got some pretty good samples and some more traditional tea. We of course bought some candy for us to bring back 🙂 We also got to try some snake wine which looked wild – it was big jars and bottles of wine with full pythons just sitting in there, dead. We did not bring any of that back.

watching a woman make rice paper

watching a woman make rice paper

snake wine!

snake wine!

We were supposed to go on a canoe ride down a small steam but it started pouring so we had to wait a little before getting back onto the bigger boat for our return trip. Our driver got a few fresh coconuts from a tree and cut them open for us- fresh coconut milk!

mekong delta trip in vietnam

view from our boat

view from our boat

Then we rode back on the river to the car and it was time for the 3ish hour return trip to Ho Chi Minh City.

What a cool experience. I love traveling and felt so fortunate to have gotten to be part of this adventure! This was definitely a highlight of the trip.

(Part Three, Hanoi, coming soon!)

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.

 

Possibly the Best Vacation Ever

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been traveling – or at least posting photos of a tropical location – for the past few weeks. B and I just got back from quite possibly our best vacation ever. Shh, don’t tell him that – I think he would disagree – after all, our honeymoon in Tortola (BVI) was amazing … as was driving around Ireland. But this trip combined pretty much everything I love – good food, good company, good drinks, good weather, the beach, and even some adventures.

I won’t bore you with the day-to-day details of our ten day adventure (I mean you’d probably just get jealous and want to hop a plane to Costa Rica immediately), or write this blog post in Spanish (después de diez días en Costa Rica, mi español ha mejorado mucho. Al fin de nuestro viaje, yo estaba practicando y hablando español con todos los ticos.) But instead, here’s a snapshot of some of what we did (and don’t worry, at least one more post is coming).

The trip started in Guanacaste, along the beach. B and I were in town for the wedding of our friends Ted and Suzanne, which took place along the coast at Sugar Beach. The wedding was probably one of the best I have been too – it was small, the dancing was fun, it was outdoors and the setting was gorgeous!

 

mariachi band at the wedding

mariachi band at the wedding

beach wedding

wedding on the beach!

wedding on the beach!

probably the only picture of me in a bathing suit you'll ever see. This is what renting a catamaran looks like. I'm pretending it's a wild and crazy time.

probably the only picture of me in a bathing suit you’ll ever see. This is what renting a catamaran looks like. I’m pretending it’s a wild and crazy time.

While in Guanacaste, we swam along the beach, and even rented a catamaran with the couples’ friends to go snorkeling and swimming for the day. Best day ever.

After the wedding weekend, B and I were of to Monteverde, a city located in a cloud forest. While there we enjoyed some more awesome meals, a tour of a coffee plantation, ziplining and hiking along hanging bridges in the forest. And no, it wasn’t cloudy at all those days – something I enjoyed very much.

not-so-cloudy at monteverde cloud forest

not-so-cloudy at monteverde cloud forest

grinding my own coffee, the old fashioned way

grinding my own coffee, the old fashioned way

The trip ended with an amazing stay in Arenal. We enjoyed hot baths, awesome views of waterfalls, an amazing hotel (hotel Nayara in Arenal is quite possibly the best hotel I’ve stayed in in my life. Jacuzzis for every room, an amazing spa, happy hour, a nice gym, free cookies at night and an outdoor shower for your private cabana. Look it up and book it immediately!) and some more adventures including spa treatments and massages (does that count as an adventure if I don’t usually do that?) AND canyoneering, rappelling and swinging through waterfalls in the jungle, quite literally.

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canyoneering!

canyoneering! Yes I’m frightened

looking like I know what I'm doing

trying to look like I know what I’m doing

The trip was just what I needed. I read 4ish books, got some sun, relaxed, worked out, and got a few adrenaline rushes. I know people say they NEED a vacation all the time I know, but I NEEDED the vacation. And now I’m sure I’ll need a vacation from my vacation 😉

What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken?

Have you ever been to Costa Rica? Yes I went for a high school field trip during our February break. So much fun but this trip with my husband was a lot different 🙂

Do you like ziplining? Rappelling? Canyoneering? Ziplining I love! Rappelling with ropes down the side of cliffs and along waterfalls scared me .. but I ended up loving it.

Do you speak any other languages? Hablo un poco de español. Ahora puedo entender más que yo puedo hablar. 

 

 

An Extended Weekend in L.A.

Seen at a club in LA

Seen at a club in LA

NOTE:  This is the last recap in a series of my West Coast trip adventures. Miss the rest of my West Coast trip summaries? Read more about them here:

After an amazing time in the Bay Area, we were off on another drive down the coast and ready to spend a few days in Los Angeles as we wrapped up our West Coast adventure. We would be staying with B’s friend (and Best Man), Wing, who moved out West just this year thanks to an awesome job opportunity. And we would also be lucky enough to see my friend and roommate from college, Kate, who moved out to LA right after we lived in Boston together.

So, what did we think of our time in LA? Some overall impressions:

  • The city is SUPER spread out. I’d heard that it was but seeing it in person made us realize it even more and also put a slight damper on some of our plans as we weren’t able to accomplish as much as we wanted to in our time there because it took so long to get from one place to another. There are tons of different neighborhoods that you can walk in – but to get to and from places, you really do have to drive.
  • There is SO MUCH TRAFFIC. Again, I’d definitely heard that but as we drove everywhere this really made a difference and also made it hard to get as much done as we wanted to.
  • The city is not really walkable. I love walking everywhere. Every other city we pretty much left our door and walked everywhere to get some sightseeing in. In LA we really had to hop in the car and plan which neighborhood(s) we may be visiting, and drive there. And we didn’t really know how long it would take because of the traffic. (See #1 and #2)
  • The weather is awesome. They were having a “cold front” when we were there, meaning the weather was in the low 80s, upper 70s. AKA perfect weather. It was cool in the morning, meaning it wasn’t bad for our run (we had a 15k planned that I was dreading because I thought it’d be super steamy but it wasn’t too bad – it hit nearly 80 by the end but it wasn’t humid), and then got hot during the day but not sticky. Perfect vacation weather 🙂
  • There’s so much to do. Aside of all the touristy sightseeing stuff that we wanted to do, there’s just so much in general going on, all the time. Comedy shows. Concerts. Great food. Bars. Clubs. And of course – the BEACH! If I lived in LA I would live at the beach, or at least go there as much as possible. And then try to fit in everything else.

Okay, enough blabbering, here are some photos and highlights from our trip.

SO MUCH TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN LA!

SO MUCH TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN LA!

Stopping for In & Out as soon as we get in – B’s first In & Out meal!

B's first In&Out!

B’s first In&Out!

Running around the Hollywood Reservoir – we did our 15K without any problems. We found the reservoir, which had some good views of the downtown and the Hollywood sign and was a 3.3ish mile loop – perfect for us, as we were able to do 3ish loops as Wing walked around once, carrying water for us. Yup, he was our awesome water boy!

post 15k run around the Hollywood Reservoir

post 15k run around the Hollywood Reservoir

Going to the beach!

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People watching at Venice Beach

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Being touristy and taking photos of the Hollywood sign

hollywooooood

hollywooooood

Taking in a Dodgers game! AND they were playing the Giants so I got in TWO Giants games on this trip. Also, we got the all you can eat seats and feasted on the famous Dodger dogs, plus nachos, popcorn and peanuts. I need a detox after this vacation.

Go Giants!

Go Giants!

Coffee at Urth Café (always featured in the show Entourage)

it's a bird! Urth Cafe goodness.

it’s a bird! Urth Cafe goodness.

Brunch from Homegirl Café. I had been wanting to go to this place since seeing the awesome movie G-Dog  at the Cleveland International Film Festival. You must read about them and Homeboy Industries if you don’t know their story. Here’s just a short blurb: Homeboy Industries serves high-risk, formerly gang-involved men and women with a continuum of free services and programs, and operates seven social enterprises that serve as job-training sites. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

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Catching a BC vs. UCLA game – sadly, we lost – but it was great to see them play (it wasn’t planned!) on our trip, see their huge stadium and of course meet up with Kate

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HUGE stadium – former home of the Olympics in LA!

Kate and me! Former roomies!

Kate and me! Former roomies!

Enjoying Dim Sum for B’s birthday brunch – Wing lives in Chinatown and brought us to an amazing place

Birthday breakfast!

Birthday breakfast!

And then a really good meal, and beers, at My Father’s Office – I definitely recommend if you hit LA

the boys loved their burgers - I loved my butterfish!

the boys loved their burgers – I loved my butterfish!

Seeing some amazingly fun comedians at the Laugh Factory – in just one show we saw a TON of comics! Highlights include Dom Irerra (who we’ve seen before), the super cute Chris D’Elia AND the guy who plays Montez on Workaholics!

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Hanging out with Kate and experiencing some of the Culver City nightlife

Hookah bar!

Hookah bar!

What a great trip! Now, it’s back to real life and back to the grind. Getting back to work after any trip can be stressful, but just knowing and remembering our amazing two week West Coast adventure will hopefully help with the struggle of getting back into things. Here’s to a GREAT weekend!

Some questions for you:

  • Which of the cities I visited have you been to? Which is YOUR favorite?
  • When was the last time you saw your college roommate?
  • Favorite LA restaurant?

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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