Happy Friday everyone! Any fun weekend plans ahead? Steven and I are flying to Los Angeles tomorrow to celebrate two friends' birthdays. Also, to meet his sister and her husband's new puppy!
Since I have not written in so long, I'm going to do another trip recap/itinerary for your reading pleasure. I think this will be a fun way for me to remember my trips and give you some ideas if you are planning a trip to somewhere I've been. WIN-WIN in my book!
Steven and I flew to London for a long weekend in April. I had spontaneously bought tickets to see the Harry Potter play way back in August, so we knew the trip was on the books. If you didn't know, Steven is a pilot, so we fly standby which makes travel less expensive. But, it is also more uncertain which is a big struggle for my type A planner self! Fortunately, the flight we wanted worked out AND we flew business class. Small miracles!
We arrived to London on Thursday afternoon. The flight from the west coast is killer... 11 loooong hours. We stayed in the Ibis Hotel in Blackfriars. It was clean but nothing special. It was very close to the metro station and not too expensive (everything in London is expensive!). We rested up a bit at the hotel and headed out to find food and drinks! Our first stop was the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub which has been around since 1538. The pub was very charming with its many tiny staircases and nook-like rooms. Also, it is said that Charles Dickens (and many other literary figures) used to frequent the pub. I highly recommend going especially if you are into history. We had dinner at a random Pub down the street which was just ok, but we were starving (you can see how excited I am to eat below). Afterwards, we went to Gordon's Wine Bar which is in a candle-lit and in cellar/cave room. It was very cool! I definitely recommend trying it out if you like wine!
Our second day began with a tour around west London through Strawberry Tours. Our tour guide (Matthew) was wonderful and we saw a lot of the big tourist sites we wanted to see including Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey. If I ever return to London, I would take another one of their tours. Maybe the Harry Potter tour!
How is the wonderful wide internet doing today? I had a long weekend, but I feel like I need a weekend to recover from my weekend! Why do you ask? Well, I'm sure you guessed from the title of this post? That's right! I was at Disneyland! The happiest place on earth! Or maybe the second happiest if you prefer Disney World. ;-) A friend and I headed down to Disneyland & California Adventure this past weekend for the first time and it was a blast! We stayed at the Ayres Hotel in Anaheim which was clean, comfortable, and included breakfast. We also bought ART shuttle passes and the shuttle picked up directly in front of our hotel and was very easy to navigate.
We decided to do Disneyland on Sunday and California Adventure on Monday. Overall, both parks were great and I felt that they were not TOO crowded. Both mornings started out cool and foggy but by the afternoon it was hot and sunny. At night, it returned to cool and breezy. Take away point, California weather is crazy so always bring a jacket. ;-)
On Sunday, we headed over to the park around 8:30am and grabbed a Starbucks from Downtown Disney because priorities. After that, we immediately went to Space Mountain to get fastpass tickets. Our ride time wasn't until 12:30pm so we had some time to kill. We rode about 4 rides rides while waiting including my favorite ride -- The Haunted Mansion! We continued this trend for most of the day, so we could get fastpass for longer wait time rides and ride the shorter wait time rides in between. This worked very well and we rode all the rides we wanted to and more!
Monday, we had a bit of a later start since we closed Disneyland down and didn't arrive back to the hotel until 12:30am! We first headed to the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride to get fastpass tickets. Our time slot was 7pm-8pm. Holy Moly! The ride was very popular and at times had a 3.5 hour wait. Fastpass was definitely the way to go! By the time our reservation came around, I think we only waited 5-10 minutes to get on. California Adventure is quite a bit smaller than Disneyland, but we still filled our day with rides and wine! Oh yes, alcohol is available in this park! Wohoo!
Saturday night we had dinner at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen. I had made reservations online and we were seated immediately upon arrival. We sat inside so we could hear the live music. The food was good but pricey. I guess you should expect that from Disney!
Sunday, we had breakfast at our hotel. Later on, I had a wonderful mid-morning treat - Mickey Beignets. These were SO GOOD. Find them at the Mint Julep Bar in New Orleans Square. Despite the name, there are no alcoholic beverages here. Just like Magic Kingdom, there is no alcohol in Disneyland. Sunday afternoon, we had lunch at Carnation Cafe.I would not receommend eating here based on what I ordered (turkey sandwich and fries). The prices weren't too bad though and they have AC, so that is a plus! Sunday evening, we decided to walk out to Downtown Disney and have dinner at Tortilla Jo's. This place had GREAT chips and salsa. We both got burritos which were good but again, it was expensive.
For lunch Monday, we had Wine Country Trattoria. This was by far my favorite place we'd eaten. The patio was covered and breezy, so it was a perfect spot for an outdoor lunch. I had the lasagna which was very good and cheesy. I would recommend this place if you're looking for pasta (and wine!).
Overall, we had a great time in Disney. It was indeed magical! ;-) If you're planning a trip be sure to research how to get fastpass, make restaurant reservations to avoid long waits, and be prepared to spend money! lol
Question of the Day?
Have you ever been to Disney? Any tips?
Hello friends! As promised I'm back with a recent itinerary and review for my day trip to Napa. Now, I've been to Napa too many times to count, so each trip I try to include places that I know I'll like and a few new places. Just in case you're planning a trip, normal (not reserve wine) tasting fees range from free (very few of these) to $50. Most wineries will waive these fees if you A) purchase enough wine or B) join their wine club. Additionally, I think 3-4 wineries is a good amount if you're only going to be in Napa for a day. Otherwise, you'll be running/driving around like crazy. Napa is made for relaxing and enjoying the warm sun and beautiful scenery... all while drinking wine of course! During this trip, my mom and step dad were in town, so we stuck with 3 wineries to avoid feeling rushed.
We headed out of the city around 10am. Napa is around 1 hr away from the city depending on how far into Napa you're going and of course TRAFFIC. We went on a weekday, so traffic wasn't that bad. Our first stop was Peju which is an idyllic winery located in Rutherford. When you think of Napa, you'll probably imagine some place like Peju. They also have one of my most favorite wines - Carnival (I might have bought a few of those). I may be bias, but I definitely think Peju is a worthy stop! Their classic tasting is $35/per person and any group with 7 or less people does not require a reservation. You normally try 2 whites and 3 reds, but they will pour you additional varietals if you're nice. ;-)
Our tasting at Peju took about an hour, so afterwards it was lunch time! We headed up to Gott's Roadside in St. Helena for some delicious burgers and fries. There is always a line here, but it goes pretty fast. Worth the wait!
Next, we headed up the mountain to Neal Family Vineyards. While their tasting is free, you have to submit a request for a tour and tasting ahead of time. This is done through the order tab on their website. The tour was relatively short at around 15 minutes (perfect if you ask me) and then we tasted 5 different wines. We were the only people at the vineyards so it was very nice. The wine maker was there and he was very pleasant and knowledgeable. This was my first time at Neal Family Vineyards and I would recommended it. The free price tag is hard to pass up, but I think I'd look for some additional wineries up on the mountain next time because it was a trek! Also, they could use some seating for a more relaxed experience.
Our final stop was at Frog's Leap back down in the valley. I have also been here a few times, so I knew what to expect. We did their Signature Seated Tasting which can be reserved via Yelp. This tasting is $25 and includes 4 wines and a small plate of cheese and snacks. Frog's Leap is beautiful and has a large wrap around porch which is perfect for wine sipping. :-) I definitely recommend Frog's Leap! The only bummer thing is the grounds are so beautiful but they do not allow picnicking so make sure you've eaten.
On the way home, we stopped by Oxbow Market for some ice cream and souvenirs. Thankfully, traffic wasn't too bad on the way home and we got back to the city around 7pm. Overall, it was a great day in Napa! If you have any Napa related questions feel free to contact me. I've definitely been to my fair share of wineries!
Question of the Day?
Have you ever been to Napa? If so, do you have a favorite place?
Hi all! Did everyone have a wonderful long (hopefully) weekend? I had a great weekend that was a combination of active and very LAZY! My only wish was that it was a day longer. ;-) We had an (unplanned) eventful Friday night. I drove Steven home from the airport and while we were on the highway my driver's side window basically exploded! It was so bizarre. Friday night was spent on the side of the highway and then scrambling to find a garage to store my poor car in. Thankfully, we got the window repaired on Saturday morning. Such a crazy night!
San Francisco Bay Brunch Cruise
Saturday, I met some friends for a brunch cruise. It was a beautiful day here in SF, so a perfect day to cruise around the bay. The cruise was offered through Hornblower and occurs almost every Saturday and Sunday. It is a bit pricey, but it is bottomless mimosas and a buffet (all you can eat!). They have other type of cruises like a happy hour and a dinner cruise too. It was very fun and the staff was great! The only thing I thought could be improved was the announcer's microphone was very loud. He didn't talk the whole cruise, but when he did you basically had to stop speaking to your table because you couldn't hear them.
After the cruise, we took a walk down the Embarcadero and stopped at Epic's beautiful patio for a few drinks. Epic has wonderful views of the bay and the bay bridge. They also have a good happy hour Monday-Friday.
Sunday we headed up to Napa for the 5th annual BottleRock music festival. Steven and I went last year to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but this year we brought a crew with us. Steven and the girls strike again! We took the bus service Mride up and it made things so simple and no one had to worry about driving home. This year, the headliner on Sunday was the Foo Fighters and they did not disappoint. We also saw Cobi, Live, Gavin DeGraw, and Band of Horses.
The whole day was SO much fun and the weather was fabulous. Some food and drink highlights of the day was the amazing fried chicken from Smoke, too-drinkable sauvignon blanc from Black Stallion, and a delicious tikka masala burrito from Curry Up Now. I will definitely be in attendance at BottleRock next year!
Our memorial day was spent in recovery. We ordered Chinese food and had a glorious Netflix binge day. Definitely just what I needed! :-)
Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!
Question of the Day!
Do you prefer a relaxing long weekend or more active?
Hello vast internet world! I can not believe it has been one whole year since my last post. The time has seriously flown by! I have been up to so much and I can not wait to share my future adventures with the blog world. Just to catch anyone up, I have been going to to graduate school and this May I graduated! I am finally done with college (maybe... PhD anyone? HA) and I feel so accomplished being done with my Master's. Also, I feel SO HAPPY to finally have some free time. This last year of school was intense especially with a full time job.
My mom and step-dad came out to visit and to see me graduate. I'm going to highlight a few fun tourist things we did here in San Francisco (& Oakland!) and I'll be back with a recap/potential Napa itinerary for all of those interested.
Sunday - Mother's Day!
On Mother's Day, I hosted a brunch at my house and afterwards we went on a tour of Pac Heights. We began at the Haas-Lilienthal House and one of their docents lead the tour. It was very informative and we saw a lot of beautiful houses. Plus, we got these gorgeous views below! The tour is around 2 hours, but currently, you can not go into the Haas-Lilienthal House because it's under renovation. I bought my tickets through Verlocal, but I don't see them on there anymore. It's a cool website that lists classes, tours and events. Check it out!
Monday - It's time for Dodger Baseball!
We of course were at the Giant's stadium, but since Steven is a LA fan, I have to side with him. We bought our tickets through the Gametime app which was awesome and so easy to use! The game started at 7:15pm, so we had a little time to kill before hand. We had drinks and appetizers at Palomino which has happy hour from 3pm-close. That's my kind of happy hour(s)!
Thursday - Oakland Excursion
Thursday we headed over to the most touristy place in all of San Francisco. Pier 39! I don't really have many suggestions for Pier 39/Fisherman's Wharf except to get the mini donuts. They are delicious!
We took the 12:45pm ferry over to Jack London Square in Oakland. The ferry is pretty easy to use. You can use your clipper card for a discount or buy tickets on board. It leaves from Pier 41 and the ferry building and goes to Oakland & Alameda. Be sure to check the schedule because at certain points they stop service to Pier 41.
We first stopped at Rosenblum Cellars which a friend from Oakland first took me to a few months ago. They have flights and tons of cheese options. So delicious! Also, they have ample outside seating which was so nice because the weather was wonderful. Afterwards, we headed over to Forge to have another glass of wine before heading back.
We ended the evening at Noeteca. It is a cute wine bar and cafe on Delores street. Obviously you can't go wrong with baked brie!
I'm so happy my family came out to visit me in SF! I'll have our NAPA trip posted next week for some wine inspiration.
Hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!
Hi! I'm Amanda and I've been living in SF for the past 4 years. Originally from North Carolina, I love traveling, planning, exploring new places in SF, group exercise, and wine.