Travel

a day in San Francisco

Saturday was the most perfect 80 degree, sunny day so we took advantage by exploring the city. We’ve lived in the Bay area for over a year now, but there’s still plenty of SF bucket list items to cross off my list. Here’s what we did in one beautiful day:

1. Grabbed a delicious Filipino fusion lunch from Senor Sisig… (because everything is better in a burrito)


2. …And ate it among the crowds in Union Square (after a pit stop to browse the lovely Cuyana store)


3. Picked up a couple of cherry doughnuts from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse (obligatory)


4. Admired the colorful walls of Clarion Alley (after another pit stop at the Everlane store…this itinerary was very obviously planned by me)


5. Got a cold brew from Craftsman and Wolves (because…coffee)

6. And a green smoothie from Project Juice (am I a real Californian yet?)

7. People watched at Dolores Park (the best.)

8. Channeled our inner children at the Seward Street Slides (deceptively fast. Video is on my Instagram)

9. Took in the gorgeous view from Twin Peaks (a new must-see anytime we have visitors)

10. Acted like tourists at the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps (impossible to get a picture without people in it, but they sure are pretty)


11. And ended the day in Pacifica at the best Taco Bell (the perfect way to end the perfect day)

 

 

Explore: Seattle, Washington

June is here and I’m trying to convince myself that it’s as magical as it was when it meant the end of another school year and the beginning of beautiful, endless summer days and bonfire-filled summer nights. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the same as an adult, but I can pretend, right?

We spent the long Memorial Day weekend with a very short trip to Seattle — six in the evening on Saturday to six in the morning on Monday, to be specific — and staying true to our efficient selves, we jampacked our time with all of the Instagram-worthy views, touristy fun, and delicious food, food, and more food that we could possibly fit. So here’s what we did with 36 hours in the Emerald City.

Ate everything and drank coffee.
No surprise here. If I had to sum up our time, this would be it. And that alone was worth the trip. Our new Seattlelite cousin showed us all the good eats, and we basically spent Sunday on a four-person food tour along with one of our friends from college. Here’s the list.

  1. Musashi’s – You really can’t go wrong with fresh, cheap sushi. Get the Chirashi bowl and you won’t be disappointed.
  2. Molly Moon’s – Walk down the street from Musashi’s because ice cream is necessary wherever you go. I could’ve married the balsamic strawberry.
  3. Starbucks Reserve – Starbucks but fancy and with a different menu. Cool place to just hang out and not feel like you’re at Starbucks.
  4. The Crumpet Shop – I think this was my first crumpet and I’ll admit I’m now a crumpet fan. The pesto on that fluffy goodness was amazing.
  5. Storyville Coffee – Walk upstairs from The Crumpet Shop and you’ll find this wood-paneled, sunlit cafe. Perfect stop before squeezing through crowds at the market.
  6. Pike Place Chowder – There was a long line here, which was to be expected on MDW. Luckily, the guy singing outside made the wait not so bad, and the chowder is worth it. Get the sampler to try a few ($1 off with Yelp check in).
  7. Oriental Mart (not pictured) – We somehow managed to track down this little Filipino food stand tucked away at Pike Place. Longanisa cravings satisfied, good Filipino hospitality, and funny signs to pass the time.
  8. Piroshky, Piroshky (not pictured) – Buttery, flaky goodness. You’ll probably have to wait, but that’s with all good things, right?
  9. Beecher’s (not pictured) – Our cousin picked up some mac and cheese from here while we waited for chowder. YUM.
  10. Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot (not pictured) – Our last food. All-you-can-eat after a day of all eating may not have been the best call. Food comas may have commenced at the table.

Did tourist things and took in the views.
When we weren’t eating, we were doing stuff. Pretty typical Seattle stuff, I must say, but hey, we were short on time. Luckily Seattle is  small city so we were able to take a lot of it in. We’ll definitely be back for more adventures in the future, but here are the highlights:

Hi, we’re tourists posing in front of the Pike Place Market sign. It was Tom’s first time here so this was a must. We were “lucky” to catch some authentic Seattle rain while we were there.

This shot is 100% unposed. I am actually smiling at the fruit, and he is really telling me not to touch it. I wish I was lying, but this is our real life.

I was beyond disgusted by the gum wall, so I stayed behind the camera, a safe distance away.

Kerry Park

Got a great view of the Space Needle from Kerry Park.

This was my second time at Gasworks Park and it was just as cool as I remember.

Lake Washington

Found the most peaceful dock on Lake Washington. Such a beautiful place.

Explore: Montego Bay, Jamaica

Husband and I hitching a ride on the bride’s inflatable swan

While everyone else was fighting crowds at the mall, I took today to relax from all of the Thanksgiving hoopla, plan for the friendsgiving we are hosting tomorrow, and spend a little more time reflecting on how grateful I am for all the good in my life.

Something I am extra grateful for is all of the opportunities I had to travel this year. Most recently, we took a trip to beautiful Montego Bay, Jamaica for my new cousin-in-law’s destination wedding in the beginning of November. It was a quick four day adventure full of sun, family, and unbelievable scenery. Here’s my recap:

How we got there:

We took an early morning 5 am (ugh) flight from Chicago to Montego Bay with a quick layover in Houston via Southwest Airlines. I’m a big fan of flying Southwest because a) snacks, b) tv (using your own device), and c) they have the best staff, so it was a safe and happy voyage despite a couple delays. Once in Montego Bay, the customs process was surprisingly quick with the automated systems and our hotel had it’s own lounge to wait in. We got super lucky as the shuttle was ready to pick us up soon after we landed and we were whisked away to the resort.

Where we stayed:

Since we were there for the wedding, we didn’t have to do much planning since the bride and groom had a resort picked out. We stayed at the gorgeous all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, which was a short drive from the airport. The hotel is the family-friendly side of an expansive property that also includes the adults-only Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall, where many of the other wedding guests were staying. The main noticeable difference between the two was that staying on the family side had a few limitations when it came to dining options, while the Zilara guests had full access to all of the restaurants. Luckily it wasn’t a huge deal since we were only there for a few short days.

The hotel is huge, but didn’t feel overcrowded. Outside, there is a large main pool, a couple of hot tubs, and a quaint beach area surrounded by rocks. We spent days lounging on the beach swings and playing water basketball .  At night we watched live performances in cozy lounge chairs surrounded by fire pits, had a couple of drinks at the rooftop Moroccan bar Fez and sports pub Union Jack’z, and played pool.

Main pool area as seen from the lobby

I love the beach.

 

What we ate:

Since I’m not a big drinker, the food is definitely one of my favorite things about all-inclusive resorts. We spent most meals at Choicez, the resort’s buffet, for a variety of foods and a seaside view. Breakfast included mimosas, fresh fruit, delicious pastries, and other typical breakfast fare. I made sure to eat a little ackee and saltfish each morning, which is the national dish of Jamaica. It was super salty but paired nicely with rice and actually tasted like some breakfast my dad has put together.

And of course, since we were in Jamaica, we had plenty of jerk chicken. The first day we had some on the beach at this little shack on the resort called Barefoot Jerkz. The food was fresh from the grill and the perfect filler since we were starving from our travels. The best jerk chicken we had though was during our excursion when we went to Scotchies. It’s a super cute outdoor spot with flavorful chicken, pumpkin rice, the beeeesstt fried bread called festival, and Red Stripe (hooray beer!). Yummm.

The last night we ate at Brazil, which is the Hyatt’s specialty Brazilian restaurant. It’s similar to other Brazilian steakhouses I’ve been to where they have a salad bar and servers come around to the tables to give you meats based on the little card you have that lets them know “Yes, MORE MEAT” or “No, I can’t possibly eat another bite”. The meats were good and the salad bar was decent, but the highlight of the meal was definitely the plantains.

And a few extras: we had fresh coconut juice at breakfast the first day from our awesome server. Typically they need a day notice, but we were able to get a couple of nuts that morning. Nothing like sipping straight out of a fruit to make you feel like you’re on vacation. And we took frequent coffee and dessert breaks at the cute and cozy Grindz cafe. A latte was perfect for a midday pick-me-up. OH and 24-hour room service – yes please!

What we did:

Besides a whole lot of laying out and appreciating every single moment of sunshine before heading home to the Windy City, we had a wedding to go to, of course! The wedding took place right outside of the historic Rose Hall, which was a short 5 minute or so drive from the hotel. The plantation is incredibly beautiful, and the wedding was perfect, complete with a short and sweet ceremony, the best live band I have ever witnessed, and a cigar bar.

Rose Hall Great House – the beautiful ceremony took place right on that bottom set of steps

Father-daughter dance to “My Girl” under the lighted tent

We also decided to venture outside of the hotel for a little excursion. The husband planned a day trip for us and a couple of his cousins to Blue Hole through Liberty Tours Jamaica. Blue hole is this amazing little hidden gem in Ocho Rios, about two hours from Montego Bay. We took a van from our hotel and the super-knowledgeable driver filled us with info about Jamaican history and culture, pointing out sites like the Rose Hall and Usain Bolt’s high school. Once at Blue Hole, it was definitely an adventure. We climbed up a river, swam under and jumped off of a waterfall, swung from a rope into the bluest water, and the husband and I even took the plunge from a 30-foot-cliff! This was all done in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I have ever seen in person. A must-do for anyone who goes to Jamaica!

Photo op stop at the place where Christopher Columbus landed

Husband and I hanging out in front of the cascading waterfall at Blue Hole

Four days went by in a flash but it was an amazing trip, nonetheless. Till next time, Montego Bay!

Update:

Check out the video my husband put together of our trip 🙂