Barcelona

August 18, 2014 § 2 Comments

A couple of weeks before we went to Barcelona, one of my best friends from College, Janice, messaged me out of the blue and asked what I was doing that weekend.  I said, Drew and I are going to Barcelona, and I asked if she was in the mood to travel and want to come too.  And she said yes!!  When we got to Barcelona, and saw her in the airport, I couldn’t believe that it was for real. I feel sometimes like this whole year has been a bit of a dream, and seeing Janice in Barcelona just really made me question if everything was real.  But it was real!

We started with dinner at Tickets!, the tapas restaurant opened by Ferran Arias, one of the Arias brothers who ran El Bulli. I don’t usually bother with hard to get reservations, mostly because I’m just not organized enough to be on the line when the booking opens, but this time, I decided I’d try since when were we going to eat at a restaurant in Spain, run by the guy from El Bulli again?  Anyways, the online system opens 30 days in advance and I managed to snag a table for two.  And when Janice decided to join us, they made the reservation for 3!  The meal was delicious!  We didn’t know what we wanted, so they brought us a range of their most popular dishes.  My favorites were the artichoke and quail egg with salmon roe, and the razor clams.  The atmosphere there is really fun, too.  It’s decorated like a fun faire with different booths.  Anyways, if you come to Barcelona, I recommend getting online 30 days in advance and booking a spot at Tickets!

I hadn’t realized before coming to Barcelona, how many architectural gems it had.  I figured it was mostly a beach city with some pretty good food.  We ended up spending most of our weekend exploring Antoni Gaudi‘s influence on Barcelona.  We went to Casa Battlo, admiring the cool balconies and ombre blue lightwell (again, I recommend the audio tour).  We spent a late afternoon at Park Guell, full of whimsical structures.  But, the piece de resistance must be the Sagrada Familia.  I had seen pictures beforehand, so I thought I knew what it would look like, but up close, it took my breadth away.  I think Drew and I figured it was going to be ABC (another big cathedral), but it’s really truly special.  The colors are magical and there are so many details everywhere, I think if we go back to Barcelona in 10 years, we’ll definitely have to go back.  Especially, since it’s still under construction!

Of course, touring all the Gaudi stuff made us super hungry. We ate at a bunch of different tapas places, but I would say that Tapas 24 was probably my favorite. I can still taste that bikini sandwich. Yum. Also, the croquettes.  We also went to the Boqueria Market, where we picked up some jamon iberico.  The market is a bit too touristy for my liking, but the jamon places all give free samples, which almost made it worth battling all the tourists.  I always wish we had more time to explore these cities, or maybe I just wish that my stomach was bigger so I can eat more things.  Anyways, it was another great trip, and made even more special than usual with Janice!

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{just one pic} Yellowstone National Park

August 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

yosemitepreview-1Such a beautiful, mystical place.  More to come soon….

New York Part 2

August 30, 2011 § 5 Comments

Our third day in New York started nicely enough with a walk through Greenwich Village followed by lunch at the lovely ABC Kitchen.  Then, it rained.  All day.  We stayed most of the afternoon in Barnes & Noble.  By nightime, we ventured out again to Chelsea Market for some food, where I highly recommend Green Table.  My salad was delicious!  The next day, we stopped by Grand Central, but the highlight was Billy Elliot on Broadway.  It was fabulous.  If it comes on tour through LA, I would love to see it again.  Every now and then I’ll get the melody to Electricity stuck in my head.  That was a fitting end to my sister’s stay in New York :)  Other highlights include Highline Park, which if I lived in New York, I would go to all the time.  So pretty there!  Drew and I had one day in the city so in the morning we grabbed some brunch at a place I can’t remember now, and in the afternoon, we went to Central Park!  I didn’t have much interest in going there initially, as I figured it was just a park.  But, I’m really glad we went, it’s such an oasis in the city.  At night, we caught a showing of Avenue Q and afterwards stopped by Times Square.  The next day, we left….5 hours after our scheduled departure time :p  All in all, it was the most fabulous trip and I can’t wait until we go back!  I’m not sure it’s a place I would want to live (the weather is so much better here!), but I can visit a thousand times!

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New York Part 1

August 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Where to start?!  I had so much fun!  Our friends Matt & Kara were getting married just outside of New York City, so again it was a great excuse to travel :)  This time, since Drew is working I decided to bring along my little sister.  We’re 10 years apart and we don’t get to spend a lot of time together so I thought this was a great opportunity for us to hang out and have a great time!  She’s growing up so fast!  We did so many things, I can’t write about them all.  Suffice to say we took in most of the major sites.  I think my favorite thing about being in the city, is just being there.  As much as I like parks and nature, at heart I’m a city girl and there is no city like new york city.
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Seattle

August 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

This was the start of a 2 week trip that took me across the country from Irvine to Seattle, to St. Louis, to Carbondale, to New York.  I had a fabulous time and it all started off perfectly in Seattle.
I had never been to Seattle before so when Chris and Emma invited us to their wedding there, it was the perfect opportunity to visit!  seattleMy flight arrived in the late afternoon but Drew wasn’t due to get there until late at night so I was on my own for dinner.  I decided on a place called Revel, which specialized in Korea fusion food.  I usually shy away from anything with the word fusion, but it had great reviews so I decided to give it a try.  It was amazing.  I loved the open kitchen and being able to sit at the counter, which was big enough to not feel cramped at all.  Since this was summer, they also had a grilling station outside and although I didn’t try any of the bbq dishes, they looked and smelled really good!  My favorite dish was the green bean salad.  It was so fresh!  I don’t even like snap peas but they were delicious!  I ate every bite and people who know me would be surprised since I rarely finish any of my food :p  I wish I had gotten another order of it to go.  If you go to seattle, be sure to check out Revel.seattleseattleseattleseattleThe next day, we had the morning free before getting ready for the wedding, so we checked out the famous Pike Place Market.  It was super crowded, and we were hungry so instead of check out the vendors, we made a beeline for Seatown.  It’s one of many Tom Douglas restaurants all over Seattle.  We tried raw oysters, which I had never had before because I always thought they would be slimy and gross.  But these were really good!  We also got breakfast sandwiches that were tasty as well. After breakfast, we wandered the market.  It’s a pretty neat place, with lots of different food vendors, but also flowers, and other knick nacks.  We walked by Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Piroshki Piroshki, and towards the end we got a hotdog from Japan Dog.  All in all, pretty fun place.   seattleseattleseattleseattleThe next day, we had the whole day to explore so in the morning we headed out to the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle where there is the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.  At the locks, there is also a ladder to help salmon swim upstream.  I wish I had a picture of the ladder, but the water was so murky, it was hard to see anything.  Basically, the ladder is designed so that when the salmon makes it past one step of the ladder, the don’t go all the way back so it makes it easier for them to make it all the way into the harbor.  It was really neat to see and I think at the different time of year, you might be able to see more salmon than we did.  I did get pictures of one of the locks as it filled with boats. The gates at either end were then closed and it filled with water to the level inside the harbor.  The front gate was then opened and the boats let through.  It was a pretty cool process.
Next to the locks was the Carl S. English, Jr., Botanical Garden, which while we were there was having a flower show so we stopped by to check it out.seattle
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Our next stop was Kerry Park.  If you visit Seattle, be sure to stop by here, it’s the most beautiful view of the city.
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My last meal in Seattle was at Skillet Diner.  It started as a food truck, but now they have a permanent location.  The corned beef hash was delicious :)
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Birthday Trip to LA

February 13, 2011 Comments Off on Birthday Trip to LA

For my birthday this year, Drew decided to take me to the observatory. I love the stars. I don’t really know anything about astronomy but the stars have always had this magical quality for me. My favorite thing about going camping is that we’re far away from the city and the sky is so clear. I’ve been wanting to go to the Griffith Observatory in LA for a long time now, but we’ve just never gotten around to it, so I was very excited to finally be there. Since we don’t go to LA very often, we decided to make a whole day of it.

First stop: Bottega Louie for brunch.  It’s a gorgeous space near downtown LA with high ceilings which give a feeling of airiness that you rarely feel in restaurants. The brunch food was ok, nothing really special (thus no pics :p) but the dessert! I love macarons, and I can make a pretty good one, but they had so many wonderful flavors. It took all my willpower to only pick 3 :p They also had cupcakes and cakes and tarts and eclairs. I think if I lived closer, I would be here all the time getting small treats :)

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Once we were full, we headed up to the observatory. It was a beautiful clear day so you could see the whole city in front of you and a good view of the Hollywood sign. I had never seen the sign before! The observatory isn’t large, but it had good exhibits and we watched one of the shows in the planetarium, which I highly recommend doing. Our plan was to see the exhibits and the solar telescope during the day, then head out for dinner and come back at night to look through the telescope so once we looked through the exhibits, we headed out for dinner.

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Dinner time! The observatory is obviously the highlight of the trip, but I think if you asked both Drew and I what we enjoyed the most, we would probably both say the food at Father’s Office. I had heard so many good things about this place (from Todd mostly) that it had become a must go for us. Although they do have other things on their menu, there’s really only one thing anyone gets, the burger.  They only make it one way, no substitutions, no additions.  It was the best burger either of us had ever had.  Really, if you’re in LA, you have to go.  It was tasty, beefy, sweet, salty, the onions, the cheese, everything was great! The sweet potato fries were also really good and they have a great selection of beers on draught as well as bottles. I think Drew’s face says it all :p

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I suppose the only thing that didn’t go as planned was that it took us waaay longer than I anticipated to go from the observatory to dinner and back. The distance wasn’t long, but I vastly underestimated LA traffic on a Saturday night. By the time we got back to the observatory, the line for viewing the telescope was too long for us to get a chance to use it before closing. However, there were some amateur astronomers there who let us look through their still very powerful telescopes and we saw some star clusters and a nebula :) I would say, however, that I would probably not go back to look at stars, LA is just too bright to see very much. It was really pretty though to see the lights of LA twinkling below :)

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joshua tree national park

November 23, 2010 Comments Off on joshua tree national park

Joshua Tree is an amazing place.  We stayed at a cute little cottage just outside the park and it was fabulous.  I can’t wait to come back!joshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua treejoshua tree

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