Travel

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!

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

Summer in Spain: Málaga

Our last stop in Andalusia before heading to Barcelona was the wonderful city of Málaga, and birthplace of Pablo Picasso. My travel buddy and I weren’t sure what to expect here, but it ended up being a lovely addition to our Spain trip. Compared to the other cities we visited, we took a more relaxed pace here and spent most of the time on the beach. These are some of my favorite parts…

  1. Museo Picasso Málaga. There was a Picasso museum in most of the other cities we visited, but the others weren’t in the birthplace of the artist. I ended up loving this museum more than expected. I highly recommend doing the audio tour as it tells a great story about Picasso’s life and the art displayed.
  2. Mirador del Gibralfaro is an uphill walk well worth the view! From the viewpoint you can see the coast and city. You also have an aerial view of the Plaza del Torros. If you look closely in the photo below you can see a bull in the arena.
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    View from Mirador del Gibralfaro. See the bull?

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    We passed by ancient Roman ruins on our walk from the hostel

  3. Málaga is also known for a wine by the same name. It’s a fortified sweet wine made from Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grapes. I personally loved the dessert wine. We bought a few bottles and took them back to our hostel to enjoy on the patio.
  4. I have to mention our hostel, Feels Hostel City Center, as it was my favorite lodging during our time in Spain. It was such a friendly and lively crowd staying there, the staff was hospitable and the location was wonderful. It was a close walk to the cathedral, beach, Roman ruins, Picasso museum and many restaurants and shops.
  5. The beach. This was the middle of August in hot, humid Spain for two weeks. So yeah, we spent most of our days on the beach which makes this a short post. We saved money in this city by buying groceries for a few days and preparing food at the hostel or bringing a picnic to the beach.

    More of Spain:

    Sevilla
    Granada
    Barcelona