Bali: final days

Read about the rest of our trip here, here, and here.


Thursday started with more smoothie bowls and a surfing lesson! …A surfing lesson for Mike anyway. (I’m a nervous beach-goer and SUP in Australia a few years ago was my limit for ocean activities.) I sat on the beach with the intention to read while Mike was in the water. Instead I chatted the whole time with a mom whose daughter was also taking a lesson. I later learned that her daughter competed in the Rio Olympics as a swimmer for Australia. Pretty cool!


After about 1 1/2 in the water, Mike’s lesson was done and we went back to the house for a second breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast. Since we were getting up so early, second breakfasts become a regular on this vacation.

A while later we collectively decided we could go for a massage (keeping with tradition from New Years Day when we were all in Santa Rosa). Spa treatments are cheap in Bali. We paid about $15 for a hour massage. After our relaxing massages, we were back in the pool to play volleyball. 

Sometimes I’m a bit of a joy kill when it comes to playing games… it’s not that I don’t like them but it takes me awhile to get into it.  I think because I much prefer conversation or reading, like the wise old soul that I am 😉 

I was going to tap out of playing because I had my contacts in and didn’t want to deal with taking them out to play. Instead Mike’s brother-in-law threw me a pair of googles to protect my eyes (lol) and started throwing the ball towards me. Of course it was a lot of fun! Almost too much fun as we stayed in the pool for a lot longer than expected.

We had planned to go to dinner at Old Man’s for Mike’s dads last night but we got there too late and it was crowded! (Which was a bummer because everyone had gone when we were in Ubud and really liked it.) Instead we ended up at the place next door which turned out to be great!

We sat up on a high deck, overlooking the beach. There were dimly lite orange and yellow lanterns everywhere, giving it a very whimsical feel. The place wasn’t crowded, which was surprising because the food was so good. I ordered the Australian cheeseburger with a side of corn and it was probably the best meal I had in Bali (aside from The Shady Shack).

The next day, our last full day in Bali, was filled with favorites from the trip. Mike and I woke up early and set out for first breakfast. I had avocado toast and an iced coffee with coconut milk. An ideal breakfast combination, in my opinion.

We had second breakfast back at the villa a while later. Then more pool time. I can’t remember exactly but I think a few Bintangs were consumed at this point too. Coffee chased with beer? Talk about vacation mode.

Lunch was at Taco Casa for more of their strawberry sangria and nachos! After drinking and eating, we all appropriately took a midday nap. Mike’s sister and company flew back to Australia that night but not before a last round at The Lawn. We went back in the afternoon for a drink, some apps, and a dip in their pool (how genius is it to have a pool at the restaurant?). Then we took our last family walk on the beach back to the villa.

Silliness at The Lawn

A few hours later, everyone was packed and ready to go home. With all of the company we had that week – not to mention, the giant house we were staying in that was now quiet – it felt pretty lonely for just Mike and I to be left.

So, we quickly reapplied bug spray and headed back to The Lawn for dinner (The Lawn isn’t paying me for this post, I swear hah). We ordered cocktails but probably should have skipped them because we were both already so tired. It was approaching 9pm, which was around our Bali bedtime. lol

After dinner, we walked back to our empty villa and went straight to bed. We woke up the next morning with the intent to enjoy all of our Bali favorites one last time. After smoothie bowls on the beach, we walked around the main strip before it got unbearably hot. Which wasn’t long after…

We wanted our last meal to be at The Shady Shake but, unfortunately, they were closed. Instead, we got avocado toast to-go and ate it back at our villa by the pool. We still had a ton of Bintangs left and thought, why not? We popped two open and the second they got warm, we opened another bottle. What else are you supposed to do with 2 people and half dozen beers? 😉

We finished the last of our packing, drank the last of the beer, and then it was time to go. Our transport picked us up and a hour later, we were at the airport, ready to embark on the 18 hour journey back home.

Airport adventures…

Our Hello Kitty themed airplane 😂

 

 

Ubud: an overnight trip

You can read about our first few days in Bali here and our day trip to Potato Head Beach Club here.


Mike and I spent the night in Ubud midway through our stay in Bali. Ubud is where the “love” happened in Eat, Pray, Love and where the movie was filmed.  It is about only about 50 miles from Canggu – where our villa was located – but word on the street was that traffic getting there would be terrible. So we wanted to leave early; which wasn’t a problem since we were waking up around 7am every morning. 

After a quick banana bread and smoothie bowl “brekky” (as many Australian tourists call it), we were en route. As it turned out, it was the full moon ceremony that day and we were to Ubud exactly a hour. I’ve always loved a full moon…

The scooter ride there was fun! I had relaxed into being on the back of the bike and tried to enjoy the scenery more. It was also a nice relief from the heat because of the breeze. In Udud we stayed at the Organic Farm Villa at the Moksha. Check in wasn’t until 3pm or 4pm but we arrived around 11am. I thought we would just leave our stuff at the front desk and go explore the city but they surprised us and said our room would be ready in half hour. 

While we were waiting by the pool, someone brought us out some sort of basil drink (we dubbed it the Basil Refresher) that I believe was just basil and ice blended together with maybe some honey and lime? Delicious! I’ll have to work on recreating it now that it is warmer in California.

These blessings are everywhere in Bali and we saw one being placed while we were waiting for our room

Once we were unpacked, we hit the streets of Ubud. We quickly realized Ubud is where the shopping is at. There were so many stores with so many cute things! It was actually a little overwhelming… If you’re going to Bali and plan on shopping, I would do some research before or, if you’re anything like me, you’ll abandon ship pretty quickly. I didn’t do much shopping but, out of necessity, I bought a few shorts (and a dress and a romper, if I’m being 100% honest…) because it was so damn hot there and I had regrettably packed a long, flow-y dress for the next day. I’m not kidding, this California summer dress is a winter Bali dress. You DO NOT need layers in Bali.

We stopped for a lunch of salads and beer and then continued down Jl. Monkey Forest (the main street in Ubud). Along the way, we popped in for gelato. We stocked up on more bottled water and sunscreen at a connivence store. And finally, the allure of a mister drew us to stop at a street side cafe for mojitos and a side of French fries.

Sweaty babes!
After a lot of walking, we opted to go chill by the pool instead of visiting the Tegalalang Rice Terrace, like we originally planned. Although while we were swimming, we started to regret the decision. Don’t get me wrong, the pool was nice (especially in the heat!) but part of the reason we came to Ubud was to see these epic rice fields everyone kept talking about. (When asking for recommendations before our trip, multiple people told me I had to visit Tegalalang.) We had a cooking class scheduled for the next morning at 9:30am but, not wanting to miss out, decided to go to the rice field before.

Balinese chicken and rice for dinner

The following morning we woke up before the sun and took our scooter to the Tegalalang Rice Terrace. This was probably my single favorite hour of our time spent in Bali. The ride there was cool and traffic free. We read online that the field opened at 7am and that it is a nice place to have a coffee. We arrived at 7am sharp but none of the cafes were open. Oh, well, we thought as we trucked down the steps hidden within the cafe paths. You can see Tegalalang from the road but nothing prepares you for it’s beauty until you get down those cafe steps.

I can only describe the rice terrace as a dream. It’s so gorgeous, it almost doesn’t seem real. I felt like I had fallen asleep and was magically transported to this lush, green oasis. I was practically euphoric. The delicate blades were about knee high and still had dew on them. Mike and I giddily walked down into the belly of the terrace and then up to the other side, in awe the whole time. The scenery was breathtaking and a romantic place to be with your love. Especially because, aside from a man in a speedo, chopping away at some of the blades (assuming he lived or worked there) and a man jogging up and down the fields (talk about a scenic run!), we were happily the only visitors there.

Putting off going to the rice terrance until the morning turned out to be the best decision because it wasn’t scorching hot yet. There isn’t really shade and you’ll want to walk around. I definitely recommend hitting this gem up in the early hours!

We made it back in time for a quick but indulgent breakfast on our patio. 

Next on the agenda was our cooking class at Casa Luna. My former dance teacher, Sarah (founder of Bali Body Pilates), recommended taking a cooking class here and I jumped at the opportunity. We went on Wednesday so the menu included:

  • Balinese chicken satay
  • Beans in coconut milk
  • Lawar
  • Corn fritters
  • Gado-Gado
  • Fragrant yellow rice

The class was great; it was interactive and informative. Our instructor was friendly, funny, and knowledgable (pretty much everything you want in a teacher!). The food was, of course, NOM. Although we used shrimp paste, which I wasn’t the biggest fan of but Mike didn’t mind. They also served a refreshing homemade hibiscus iced tea, made in house with nothing but hibiscus flowers and lime. #allaboutit

The cooking class lasted the majority of the day but we made a point to quickly stop by Monkey Forest (self explanatory!) before leaving. We were probably the worst visitors though, deciding that the monkeys were actually frightening. You could buy bananas to give to the monkeys (which we did) but they get aggressive when they see you with one. Instead of letting them crawl up us, Mike and I developed a tactic of just chucking the banana away from us (mine usually paired with a squeal, let’s be real). Anything to keep the monkeys away! 🙈

We scooted home after and luckily, again, arrived back in about one hour. It was nice to get away for a mini adventure but I was happy to see Mike’s family again. We joined them for happy hour on the beach and, over Mai Tais and bottles of Bintang, told them about our Ubud adventures.


Check back for a final recap of our last days on paradise island, coming soon!

Potato Head Beach Club

Read about our first few days in Bali here.


On Monday we woke up early and went straight back to The Shady Shake. I’m telling you, this was my favorite place in Bali and I could have eaten here everyday for the rest of the trip.

For breakfast, I started with a iced coconut milk cappuccino. Bliss! It was the perfect combination of creamy and coffee. I also ordered the tomato and avocado toast topped with poached eggs and a side of gluten free bread.  (The bread turned out to be so dense and filling, I skipped the eggs.) Mike ordered a drool-worthy smoothie bowl and an iced matcha green tea latte.

Gimme dat bowl

We had to be back to our villa by 9:30am because our scooter rental was being dropped off then. Traffic and driving in Bali seems insane. Before we went, I read on Natalie Dressed that there were scooters everywhere. Although I was excepting the crowded, slightly chaotic, streets, I didn’t anticipant actually getting on a scooter myself. My adventure-loving man had other plans…

Mike was really excited about the idea of renting a scooter to drive us around on and honestly, at first, I just didn’t want to let him down. I hesitantly agreed to the scooter and followed through with getting on the back of the bike with a when in Rome mentality backing me. Plus, the fact that Mike has his motorcycle license from before we started dating put me more at ease.

Fortunately my instincts were spot on and Mike was great at driving the scooter. I felt safe with him driving (even the few time I squeezed him tightly when a car or other scooter got a little close for comfort). After our first right turn (which were the hardest because you have to cross both lanes of traffic since they drive on the other side of the road in Bali), Mike was zipping around like a local!

We took the scooter to Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak. It was only about 30 minutes away but hard to miss. We drove by it a few times before finally locating it, which isn’t the funnest thing to do your first time mastering a scooter but again, Mike was a champ.

When we walked into Potato Head, I was like, honey, I’m home! It had all of the elements of a perfect vacation day for me. There was a huge infinite pool overlooking the beach. On one end of the pool was a swim-up bar and the other had a section where the water was ankle high that you could lounge on. There were day beds poolside, a few bars scattered around, and big, open areas to sit and eat and drink. The club was casual with a hint of luxury. It felt secluded but not snobby. Perfection!

And a perfect day it was.

We started the day in the bar with a round of cocktails. We also ordered “chips and guacamole,” forgetting we were in an Australian influenced country. When our order came out, Mike and I smiled and shook our heads, realizing our mistake of ordering French fries chips and guacamole instead. Oh, well!

After our snack, it was pool time! (Side note: the day beds are available first come, first serve. We arrived around 11am but it was already too late to get a bed. You have to be there right when they open to score a bed. We put our names on the list – #14 in line! – anyway and ended up getting a bed around 4pm that afternoon.)

The water in the pool was nice and the view of the beach wasn’t hurting anyone! About a hour or so in we decided it was time for another beverage. Since Mike was driving the scooter back, we kept in PG. I ordered a watermelon juice (YUM! I can guzzle watermelon juice down faster than you’ve ever seen) and Mike got a quintessential island-vacay drink: coconut juice in a giant coconut.

We splashed in the pool a little bit longer before stopping for lunch. I ordered nachos and Mike got a crab sandwich. Both were great! (I was surprised at how much Mexican food I ate while in Bali but this California girl is not complaining!)

We walked down to the beach after. The water was warm and gorgeous. We entertained ourselves by watching for these tiny crabs that come out of little holes on the beach. Here and there, you’ll see a ball of sand thrown out from the hole and you know a crab is in there, digging his home deeper.

I also haggled for the first time while we were on the beach. There was a lady selling traditional sarongs and I knew I wanted one for myself and a few other people at home. I had read online not to go into haggling without knowing how much you will pay before. I quickly set a number I was comfortable with in my head and walked up to her. After a little bit of negotiating, I walked away with my sarongs at the price I set.

We were about ready to leave back to our villa when called for a daybed. So we had one last (virgin) drink and didn’t regret leaving a little later (even with the traffic we hit on the way back). Having a daybed the whole time would have been great. It’s comfortable and convenient to get out of the pool and just go plop down on your bed for a rest or to read. If we’re ever back in Bali, we’ll be sure to get there right at opening.

There was a lot of traffic on the way back to the villa, which made for a more stressful ride. But once you’re on the open road, it’s quite peaceful scooting around all of the rice fields.

Although, nothing could prepare us for the best, most beautiful rice field we were about to discover… Stay tuned for our two day adventure in Ubud coming up!

Bali!

“Morning!” He said, with his mouth half full of breakfast bites. The older Balinese man was sitting outside a small convenient store we’d passed dozens of times already that week on our walk into town.

“Morning!” We replied, matching his enthusiastic greeting.

He gave us a thumbs up and a toothy grin in return. I smiled back.

It was our last morning in Bali and the heat hadn’t become unbearable yet. We were on our way to get smoothie bowls – a nice morning ritual we developed there – to take to the beach.

We arrived in Bali one week and one day prior. The island of black sand beaches and warm ocean waves. Congested streets with scooters and small cars beep-beeping everywhere. Kombucha tea and stray dogs on every corner. Seemingly endless organic food and tap water you’re warned not to drink. Hot. Humid. Lush.

After over a hour in rush hour traffic (which takes on a whole new meaning in Bali but more on that later), we finally arrived at the villa we were staying with Mike’s family. We dumped our suitcases in the living room and drenched our skin in bug spray. I changed from LuLu leggings to shorts and we were out the door to dinner.

The entrance to our villa

The humidity in Bali is no joke. The short walk to restaurant was sticky as my body tried to adjust to the new climate. But when we arrived at The Lawn, an open beachfront eatery, I finally felt like I was on vacation.

We caught up with Mike’s family over cocktails and dinner. Then, later we all sat outside near the pool for a nightcap. It was the perfect start to our holiday!

The next morning we woke up earlier than expected but jet lag has no rules. The villa we were staying in had staff who graciously cooked us breakfast every morning. But first, coffee.



Mike, his dad and I walked up the street to Mangsi where I ordered an iced coffee. There was’t anyone in there but us and it was taking ages to make. I mentioned to Mike that maybe I should have ordered something on the menu instead of asking for an iced coffee. The two guys working there seemed a little confused about my order. I saw them take out a cocktail shaker and gave Mike a worried glance… Little did I know I had nothing to be worried about! My iced coffee turned out to be one of the best I’d had. 

After breakfast, Mike, his sister and I headed to a Hatha yoga class at a studio nearby called The Practice. We thought the class was only a hour but realized after it was a hour and a half. It went by so quickly though and the studio was gorgeous! I loved practicing there. The instructor did a nice job of mixing movement with mediation. In my opinion, she didn’t overly concentrating on only breathing and just siting there. I’ll admit it, I am a bit of a vain yogi and care more about my flow (and toning aspects!) than the mediation.

“yoga accepts and yoga gives”
Post yoga pic
After yoga, Mike and I went for lunch at Little Flinders. Mike’s family had been there the day before for lunch and everyone liked it. There were so many cafes to try, recommendations are key! We both ordered salads and Mike loved his but mine was just okay. I still think it’s worth going and checking out though.

We met everyone back at The Lawn a little later for a round of drinks. This is the only day we had rain while we were in Bali. I have to say, I actually didn’t mind it but I’m almost always a sucker for rain.


After drinks we opted for a casual dinner at a pizza place near where we were staying. Surprisingly (idk why I assumed pizza in Bali would be different than pizza in the US; neither are Italy!), the pizza here was really good. Sitting outside and munching on slices while sipping beers was a nice end to our first full day in Bali.

The next morning there wasn’t a rain drop in sight and it was HOT. After breakfast, we all walked to a local market nearby.  On the way there Mike and I spotted a kombucha place and stopped to buy a guava booch. It was so good and a much needed refreshment! By the time we got to the market, I was sweating like I’d just finished an intense workout. I bought a couple bracelets and a cheap, cute dress while we were there but it was too hot to stay for long.

Instead we opted to go back to the house and get in the pool! Sweet relief from the heat. After splashing around for a while, a few of us walked up the street for a mid-afternoon snack at Taco Casa. Here we ordered the best sangria and nachos to split.


Dinner that night was at The Shady Shack, by far my favorite place we went to in Bali. The Shady Shack was a quick walk from where we were staying as well (a huge benefit of our airbnb was the location!). They serve only vegetarian food. Nom. We sat outside among the trees (and shade during the day) at a big wooden table. Mike and I split an appetizer that had different dips (including hummus, a carrot dip, and another that I can’t remember), crackers, and a variety a vegetables. For my main, I ordered zucchini noodles with spinach – although, truth be told, the appetizer would have been plenty of food.

The desserts all looked drool worthy but we were stuffed. All the more reason to return to The Shady Shake before we left; which we did, multiple times…! After dinner, it was time for bed. The sun went down around 6pm there and we found this often made it seem a lot later than it actually was. It become a routine to be in bed by 9pm and up around 7am. Although, because there was so much beauty to see in Bali, I didn’t mind one bit!


Check back to read about our day at Potato Head Beach club. 

 

Falling in love in Coronado

Continued from Falling in love with Coronado 🙂

Before thoughts: I have this desire for symbolism in my life. I like it when things are done out of importance and for there to be a reason for doing them. Mike and I went to Coronado to celebrate our six year anniversary recently. However, before our trip, six years didn’t seem like a particularly important milestone to celebrate with such a extravagant trip and stay at Hotel del Coronado.

Normally a dinner and a bottle of champagne would have been all I requested on an “in between” year anniversary (I don’t know why 5 years, 10 years, etc. hold more weight). But, as it turns out, it was actually a perfect time to go away together and connect again as a couple. I’m learning that, perhaps, I shouldn’t put as much emphasis on things meaning something because I think they should or shouldn’t. More go with the flow; less analyzing! 

If the timing works out and you can afford it, every anniversary is worth a celebration, is it not?

I didn’t realize how restorative it is to be able to spend a nice weekend away with your partner – far from everyone else and splurging on things you wouldn’t normally do – until Coronado. It was completely unexpected but I fell deeper in love with Mike on this vacation.

After our night of drinking and music, we slept in on Sunday, which feels indulgent even in everyday life! We ventured out to the hotel cafe for coffee, tea, and breakfast. It was already gorgeous out so we sat in the sun, fully enjoying the start of our day.

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Breakfast with a view
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Pretty snazzy “milk station” by the coffee bar

While noshing on pastries and sipping caffeine, we decided to stay poolside for the majority of the day. In reality we only spent a few hours at the pool but it was nice to be out soaking in some vitamin D; which I’ve been feeling extra deprived of this winter. We ordered chips and guac, chatted in-between reading (I had the luxury of diving deep into the pages of Yoga Girl), dipped ourselves in the pool and lounged in the hot tub.

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Midway through the day we decided to skip the overpriced hotel food and walk into downtown. We found Miguel’s Cocina and were transported back to Mexico. We sat on the cute patio, drank sangria, and split steak fajitas. The life!

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Miguel at Miguel’s

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After our late lunch we browsed a few shops and walked round the hotel property again. That evening we had a private bon fire on the beach with s’mores and wine. The guy who helped us “tend the fire” and refill our s’mores stash was such a sweetheart. I remember thinking, if I have a son, I hope he is as respectful as this kid and immediately after felt so old! ~7 years ago, I probably would’ve been thinking what a cute California suffer boy he was and here I was wanting to compliment his mom on a job well done. Good Lord.

Nonetheless, the bon fire was a fun time to just be silly with Mike. Earlier in the day we saw the famous Sandcastle Man; who builds these elaborate sandcastle on the beach outside of the hotel. We were surprised that he was still there, hours later, while we were having our bonfire. We learned that he’s actually out there for about 14 hours a day protecting his work. Mike and I kept joking that we were just going to go run over and plow through it. Like, how mad would he be? (Obviously we never would but it was entertaining talking about it.)

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Toes in the sand, s’mores in our hands
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The sandcastle by The Sandcastle Man (let’s just pretend the date is actually the 30th, our anniversary…)

After our bonfire we walked to a nearby pizzeria and got huge slices to-go. We went back down to the beach and ate them by the waves. (Funny side note: we found a sand dune on the beach that we walked out on to the end of, commenting multiple times about how random it was. The next day we found out that we were on the “C” of Coronado spelt in the sand.)

Monday was our actual anniversary and our last day there. We woke up and did yoga on the beach (full disclosure, Mike got up for spin on the beach before but I didn’t want to wake up that early). It was such a great and rejuvenating way to start the day! Connecting your body to your breathe while hearing and seeing the ocean is one of the best experiences I’ve had to date. I was really happy Mike was there participating with me too.

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On our way to yoga!

The same morning we saw the Navy Seals practicing drills in the ocean and I actually got really patriotic watching them. I was overcome with gratefulness for these men and women that dedicate their lives to the call of duty and keeping us safe. No matter what your political affiliation (and, if you’re like me, how angry you are at the current situation our country is in) there is no denying gratitude for our military.

We grabbed a quick breakfast after yoga, before our massages. Happy anniversary to us!

I basically finished Yoga Girl in the pool at the lounge after. I mentioned that I did a 21 day yoga challenge to start off 2017 (well, in reality a 18 day yoga challenge since I didn’t finish the last few days while we were on vacation….) and it opened my eyes to how much more yoga I should be doing. That, combined with this book, and I think 2017 will be my year of yoga! More on that later though…

Sadly, the pool at the lounge wasn’t heated so we didn’t stay much longer after I finished my book. Instead it was time to hit the town again and go out for lunch! We strolled down Orange Ave, the island’s main street, and found Burger Lounge.

We spilt a burger and fries because our dinner reservations weren’t too long after. And then it was time for happy hour! I ordered the white wine sangria and Mike got a cocktail. It was warm and nice to sit on the patio. Uggggh, what I would give for warmer weather right now!

After our drinks we walked on the beach and played in the waves. Nothing like a cliche romantic walk on the beach on your anniversary, right!?

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When we got back to our room, we exchanged gifts and opened a bottle of champs in celebration! I got ready while we blasted Lil Dicky (our favorite hah) and then it was time for dinner!

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We walked across the street to Brigantine for dinner. The costumer service here was so good! They knew it was our anniversary and there was a card waiting on our table for us signed by some of the employees. The manager also came over to wish us a happy anniversary with complimentary glasses of champs.

We ordered the crab and shrimp fondue to start and … I honestly don’t remember what else! The appetizer was so good we should have just ordered two and called it a day. 😉

The next morning (our last day:/) we woke up early to grab breakfast at Cafe 1134 on Orange. I ordered an iced latte and sadly regretted it because of all the (cow) milk. I’m used to drinking my coffee with almond milk now and couldn’t finish my latte. We also spilt a bagel and cream cheese and an acai bowl.

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Then we went back to pack up and head to the airport. Security was luckily a breeze. A few short hours later we were back home, unpacking, starting laundry, and preparing for everyday life again.

Our weekend in Coronado was exactly what we needed though! It was so much fun to hang out with Mike and enjoy each other’s company. Next we’re looking forward to Bali in April with Mike’s family!

Falling in love with Coronado 

“I like Coronado,” our Lyft driver said as we drove down Orange, the island’s main street, on our way to the airport. “It’s got its own feel.”

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I couldn’t agree more, sir. Coronado does indeed have its own feel. A feel that I can’t wait to feel again…! It’s small-town and luscious; indulgent with a beach town vibe. Leaving the island – that is just a few miles and one bridge away from downtown San Diego – was hard to do. Why can’t vacations last forever?

Mike and I arrived in sunny San Diego on Saturday, 1/28, to celebrate our 6 year anniversary. We celebrated our one year anniversary in San Diego so it was nice to come back 5 years later. Admittedly, this vacation was a lot more lavish than 5 years ago when I was still in college working as a nanny.

We stayed at the historical Hotel Del Coronado. The 70+ weather was a welcome change to the cold Bay Area weather but we realized on the short flight from San Jose to San Diego that we’d forgotten beach vacation essentials. Mike forgot his bathing suit and I forgot sunglasses. A stop at the mall was first on our agenda. But first, coffee! I excitedly found Nitro cold brew at The West Bean and splurged for a $5 cup. (I get it for free at wok so it was a little hard to swipe my card on that purchase…;)

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View of The Del from la playa

After purchasing replacements of our forgotten items, we took a Lyft (no more Uber for us!) to Coronado. When we arrived at Hotel del Coronado I was like, “is this for real?!” The hotel is gorgeous! I think I mentioned how pretty it was there at least 5x a day.

At check-in, we were asked if we wanted to upgrade to an ocean view room for $56 more a night but, having been burned before on paying for rooms with a view (word to the wise: not worth it at the Hyatt is San Francisco or for the falls view in Niagara), we declined. What a mistake! Our room’s view was of the parking lot. Every time we walked on the ocean side of the hotel, we regretted not paying extra for the view. How nice would it have been to drinks some champs out on the patio while watching the waves crash in the distance!?

To be fair, we didn’t know the rooms had patios when asked to upgrade… Learning lesson: in the future, if our hotel has a patio and offers an upgraded view, we’re going for it! (No patio, no deal.)

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PSA: parking is insanely expensive!

Our missed view opportunity was really the only regret of our stay though so, whose to complain? Right after we put our bags in our room, we rented bikes to cruise around the island. We paid $52 for a half day (4 hours) which wasn’t unreasonable but we found cheaper places just up the street after the fact… Oh, well. We were on a time crunch anyway and the place we rented from was steps from our room.

Our first stop was lunch at Lobster West. I was really excited about this place, having googled places to eat before our stay, and was mildly disappointed. We ordered the grilled cheese with lobster and a crab roll with the intention of spilting them both. It turned out that I like the roll better and Mike like the grilled cheese so we ended up sticking to separate lunches. The food was good and fresh but I expected a different ambiance. I imagined a more authentic beach shake vibe but it felt very …corporate. It was also a little pricey for the portions.

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Matching glasses and brews at lunch 😉

After lunch we biked to the other side of the island on a path that took us through a golf course and then near the water. It was such a pretty and fun ride! And it was early enough that the sun was still shining bright, keeping us warm. We stopped atCoronado Brewery and spilt a flight before biking back to our hotel.

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More beer!

Hotel del Corando is over 125 years old with a history as glamorous as its architecture. Maybe most famously, it was the location of Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe. It is also claimed to be haunted by the ghost of Kate Morgan, a young woman who checked into the hotel and committed suicide. (The cafe on the property has the Kate Morgan Mocha you can order.) Her room, now 3327, is the most requested room at the hotel.

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Spooooooky

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Coronado itself has a downtown area with residential sections but the majority of the island is an army base. Exploring the island was fun but we stayed on the hotel grounds on our first night. After a hot tub sesh, we went to Babcock & Story for dinner, drinks, and live music. We ordered the calamari and California quesadillas (which I will be trying to recreate this month; stay tuned!) for dinner.

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The view from the hot tub before dinner

While we were eating, Gonzo Gonzalez started playing and we were glued to our seats for the rest of the night. Mike arguably scored us the best table in the place. We each had 2 cocktails and then spilt 2 beers (each time saying, “let’s just spilt one more beer and then go…”).

We literally stayed at this bar all night because of the music! We were sitting right in front of Gonzo. He was SO good. The whole restaurant was mesmerized. It’s cliche but the music literally brought us all together for the night. Barely anyone was talking. We were just there jamming together; ordering drinks and applauding in between songs. Mike and I agreed that it was one of our favorite parts of the trip.

At the end of the night I ran into Gonzo on the way to the bathroom. I couldn’t help but stop him and tell him how great he was! I yelled at him, “you’re feeding my soul!!” He thanked me and gave me a hug, all the while probably thinking man, I’m just trying to pee! Hah. We went to bed with a buzz and good music in our heads. What’s a better way to start a vacation??

To be continued… 🙂

Nor Cal got me like…

The Friday before New Years we made our way to Santa Rosa for a weekend away with Mike’s family. (You can read about our trip to Tahoe the week before here.) On the way up, we stopped at Philz to introduce Wendy and Andy to the famous Bay Area coffee chain. We ordered Philtered Souls (mine creamy, no sweet) and continued on to Alcatraz!

I was born and raised in the Bay Area and had yet to do a tour of the former federal prison. Unfortunately we thought our tour was scheduled for 12pm when it was actually scheduled for 1pm. With an extra hour to kill, we walked to the Ferry Building to explore the small stands and shops. I loveee the Ferry Building and really need to plan a food crawl there one day to sample all of the noshes! Knowing we had ~2.5 excursion ahead of us and we would be hungry soon, Mike and I spilt a mushroom empanada from El Porteño Empanadas. It was perfect.

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After a short ferry ride, we were on the island and ready to start the self-guided tour. Being on Alcatraz was a tad creepy, really interesting, and …surreal. I kept thinking to myself how weird it was that I was standing where former convicted felons were. Overall it is worth it to do once (especially being a local!) but I wasn’t a big fan of the self-guided part and wished we had an actual tour guide to show us around.

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(Of course the I mostly took pictures of the food related stuff there…)

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Ah, that SF skyline… 

When we docked, we met Mike’s parents and little Ella at Pier 39. There is something so cute about seeing a toddler get excited about things. Ella loves seeing and pointing out dogs and birds. I couldn’t help but smile wide every time she found something new of interest.

As to be expected, it started cooling off significantly as the sun went down. We found a place called Fog City were we popped in for a quick happy hour. In retrospect, I wished we planed some more time in San Francisco (I’m biased but I sure do love that city!) however we had to continue up North to Santa Rosa for our final Airbnb stay of this vacation.

Once we arrived and unpacked, we headed to Belly for dinner. I ordered the truffle mac n cheese with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. It was good but I was starving and the portion was small… oh, well! More room for wine. 😉

New Year’s eve started with late morning coffee at My Friend Joe and bagels at Sonoma Valley Bagel. The best Cafè au lait (3/4 drip coffee with 1/4 steamed milk) and bagel sammy I’ve had in a while!

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Look at that rooftop garden!

Our delayed breakfast pushed back our lunch at Amy’s Drive Thru to an early dinner but it was worth the wait! I love Amy’s Kitchen and their products; from their soups to frozen burritos and bowls. I am all about organic, natural ingredients being convenient and relatively affordable. Also, I have a personal tie to the company as my dad used to work there years ago. I can remember my sister and I running through Amy’s warehouse freezers when we were younger, trying to make it to the other side (and the exit) before absolutely freezing! (The things kids do for fun… amirite?)

I order a veggie burger wrapped in lettuce and the chili fries. SO GOOD! I also stole a few sips half of Mike’s coconut vanilla “milk”shake and it was equally amazing. Everyone else seemed satisfied with their orders as well. Delicious food, fair pricing, and a heavy emphasis on vegetables – what’s better?

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Bliss!
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Not the best picture but you get the idea..
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Ella and Uncle Mikey coloring #swoon

We kept it casual for NYE and stayed in with a variety of apps, drinks, and games. The next morning, we went for a foot whole body massages and have declared it a new family tradition! We went to one of those places that advertise foot, head, neck and shoulder massages for $25 but they are actually full body rub downs (literally full body — my guy rubbed in inside of my ears). You keep your clothes on and we were all in a huge room together but it was devine. Such a good way to start the year!

After our massages we did a bit of shopping and then headed to The Russian River Brewing Company for lunch. We had this massive 16 beer taster before deciding on our beers and pizza. I ordered the Dribble Belt because it was deliciously hoppy but later found out that it was disappointedly only 4.5%. Weak. Although I was already a little tipsy from all of the samples so it was probably for the best.

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Dutch Bros (emphasis on Bros….)

That evening was an early night for us all (we might have still been recovering from NYE). On Monday we woke up and packed up in preparation of heading back to San Jose. For breakfast we stopped to get a coffee at Dutch Bros. I’ve heard about this place for a while and have always wanted to try it. The thing is though, I hate adding artificial flavors to my coffee and it seemed like that is their specialty. So, the trip was a waste for me but it was free (since it was our first time there). I ordered an Irish cream latte with 1/2 pump of Irish cream and then ended up throwing more than half of it away because it was too sweet. Mer.

We also hit up Grateful Bagel where Mike and I spilt two bagel sandwiches. I’m not sure why but bagels were big players in the breakfast game during this vacation. (I would be lying if I said I didn’t also pop into Peet’s for an iced coffee to replace my thrown away overly sweet latte.)

Full and caffeinated, we were ready to tackle the drive home. It was nice to be back home and start adjusting back to a schedule. Mike’s family stayed in town for the rest of the week and, although we both had to go back to work, we had the chance to take them to a few of our favorite local eateries in the evenings.

Now we are into the new year and trying to detox from all of the indulgences! …That is, until Mike and I go to San Diego at the end of the month to celebrate our anniversary. Until then, I’ll be participating in the Wanderlust 21 day yoga challenge that started yesterday if you’re inclined to join.

Keep comin’ back for updates. 🙂