San Francisco, California

My boyfriend and I recently returned from a quick trip to San Francisco to celebrate our two year anniversary. It was my first time in the city as an adult and I absolutely adored it. There was so much to do in so little time, so I’d love to back and see more. Here’s what we did with our time in SF.

Day 1 (Thursday night)

  • Checked in to the hotel: Hilton Union Square. I loved staying here! It was central and walking distance to most of what we wanted to see. We received a complementary upgrade to a room with a balcony and awesome view of the city.
  • We were hungry after a four hour flight and walked over to Super Duper Burger for some cheese burgers, garlic parmesan fries and beer. The name says it all… the food was super duper and I’d highly recommend! It was so good, I didn’t even have time to snap a picture. I believe this is a chain restaurant, but it was totally new to us.

Day 2 (Friday)

  • We walked over to farm : table for coffee and breakfast. This was such a cute spot with a daily menu, great coffee and a friendly pug dog! We ordered the daily toast – brioche toast with mascarpone and fresh fruit – the egg croissant sandwich, lavender latte and cappuccino. The toast and latte were FANTASTIC! I wish I could eat here again and again! If you’re ever in the tenderloin neighborhood of SF, you should stop by!
  • After we were caffeinated and full, we started our walk toward Golden Gate Bridge. Enough said, right? I  mean, we’re in San Francisco and the weather was perfect. We walked about six miles to the Golden Gate National Park recreational area and loved every minute of it. On the way, I saw a stand selling donuts and coffee, Dynamo Donuts. I ordered the maple bacon and toasted coconut donuts. It was the perfect snack to keep our energy up for the long walk.
  • After our walk, we were starving! We ordered an Uber to get us closer to our hotel and ordered a late lunch at a Thai restaurant, Lers Ros. We got the Tom Kha Gai Soup, Pad Kee Mow and Pad Kra Prow Moo Krob (crispy pork belly with basil) – and it was all delicious!
  • We had some down time and then headed to Chinatown for some more grub. Unfortunately, we missed the window for Dim Sum, so stopped at Great Eastern Restaurant which proudly boasts that Barrack Obama came by for takeout once (not the first time I’ve visited a food place after the Obamas). I ordered steak and scallops – it was just OK. Walking down the streets of Chinatown, I was mesmerized by someone in a shop window making Dragon Beard Candy. I had to stop in and try some. While the texture is just how I’d imagine eating a cotton ball is like,  I really enjoyed the taste of this unique Chinese candy! Then we were back at the hotel in time to watch the post-baseball-game fireworks from our balcony.


Day 3 (Saturday)

  • We started the day with brunch at Brenda’s French Soul Food, which is a fancy way to say Cajun food (as we call it here in Texas). We got there around 9 a.m. and there was already a long wait. However, I’d definitely go here again. The beignet sampler and fried shrimp eggs benedict were delicious and highly recommended!
  • OK, every time I told someone I was planning a trip to SF, they insisted I go to the Ferry Building Market. We strolled around after brunch, but it was way too crowded to enjoy myself. Plus, I have a very special place in my heart for Pike Place Market in Seattle, so it didn’t really compare. We got a cold brew and a couple bags of coffee beans to take home from the Sightglass Coffee stand at the market. Damn good coffee, too! While sipping coffee, we walked down to Pier 39 to watch the sea lions for a bit.
  • While walking back to the hotel, we noticed a line outside Boba Guys. As a long time fan of boba tea, I had to check it out. I got the dirty horchata and my boyfriend got an unsweet green tea. They have a unique menu of drinks, and it’s worth checking out!
    bobaguys

Then, we had round two of Super Duper Burger (we love burgers) and the trip was over in a flash. What’s on your list of great things you’ve done or want to do in SF? Share in the comments!

Zion and Grand Canyon National Park

I went to a work conference in Las Vegas and decided to get a one way ticket to take advantage of some time out west. After the conference, a friend and I planned to drive to the Grand Canyon, then visit my family in Phoenix and fly home.

Last minute we decided to stop at Zion National Park in Utah. We thought it was somewhat on the way and would be a great spot for a picnic lunch. Boy were we wrong.

I didn’t know how magnificent Zion was and we ended up spending all day exploring until the moon was up.

The park offers a hop on/hop off tram which is such a nice way to see the park! We got off at almost every stop and walked around a bit. I loved seeing the Weeping Rock. We also walked as far as we could into the Narrows before we had to turn around before dark. Trekking through ankle-deep water, the Narrows had me in awe at every turn. I absolutely want to make it back to Zion for more hiking and camping.

The three patriarchs at Zion

Weeping rock at Zion

View of water sprinkling down from Weeping Rock

The Narrows

The Narrows

Super moon above Zion on our way out of the park

We grabbed dinner at a restaurant in the small town where we parked the rental and headed toward the Grand Canyon.

We drove through the dark seeing countless deer which was both amazing and stressful.  We made it to our reserved campsite on the North Rim after midnight and set our hammocks up as quietly as possible.

So, we greeted the Canyon in the dark but woke up to its gorgeous sunrise. Knowing we only had the day and would be heading to Phoenix, we drove our car along the trials, stopping a viewpoints or trials as we wanted.


Again, we couldn’t stay away from the beauty of Mother Nature. We stayed later than planned for the sunset and a couple beers at the lodge.


So that was my beautiful, crazy 48 hours at Zion and Grand Canyon. It was worth it but I wish I could spend more time there.

Have you ever been to either park? What other National Parks are must-sees? Tell me in the comments below.

Summer in Spain: Barcelona

After leaving the charming, beloved Andalusia region, I headed to my last stop in Spain – Barcelona. Barcelona has a different vibe from the other cities I saw, most of all being much more crowded with tourists. However, we had an amazing time exploring and learning about the Catalonia capital. Here are the highlights:

  1. My favorite part of visiting Barcelona was experiencing Festa Mejor de Gràcia, where the streets of the Gràcia neighborhood decorate in different themes for one week. This was truly one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. They put on amazing decorations in themes spanning from Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, haunted house, southwestern U.S., under the sea and SO many more! We walked around drinking caña (draft beer) from street vendors and admiring the hard work and passion of the residents of the neighborhood. I’m having trouble locating most of the pictures from this, which is saddening, but believe me when I say I couldn’t do the creativity and joyful vibe justice anyway.
  2. We did the Fat Tire bike tour which was a blast! This is a great way to see many different areas of the city, starting from the Gothic Quarter, to La Sagrada Familia, and ending at the beach (with much more in between). The tour guides had some ridiculous anecdotes about the city’s history which I’m still not sure I entirely believe. Note: I highly regret not getting to see the inside of La Sagrada Familia. This is probably obvious, but add it to your list of things to do in Barcelona.
  3. Again, goes without saying. Go to La Boqueria, the market in Barcelona. The crowds were overwhelming, but once you get past that you can truly appreciate the vendors and samples of fruit, chocolate, marzipan and more. They also have stands that serve full meals. I ordered this “taco” pictured below which ended up being a bowl of the colors-of-the-rainbow and was quite spicy and delicious. I wish I could remember the name of the stand.
  4. Pintxos are actually from the Basque region of Spain. However, I had no plans to go there this time around, so trying the culinary delight in Barcelona was good enough for me! We tried them at a restaurant called Euskal Etxea. You grab tasty tapas from a buffet bar and are charged for the number of toothpicks you’ve pulled at the end of your meal. I really don’t know what I was eating but it was ALL delicious!

    Other Spain adventures include…
    Sevilla
    Granada
    Malaga