San Diego Part 3: Barbusa, Carlsbad Marathon, & Crack Shack!

Happy Monday, y’all! This last couple weeks has been jam-stinkin’-packed, especially with school, so I’m getting posts out a lot slower than usual (I feel like a broken record, saying this). I finished up a huge project last night so now I have at least a couple hours today to maybe get one or two posts written!

After spending the day in Balboa Park, we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. They had complimentary wine and tapas in the lobby so we grabbed some tostadas & an apertif before our reservation.

img_8492-1img_8493-1

We then went to Little Italy to carb load before the big race! We said this would our dinner to celebrate my birthday as well as Pete’s whose was on the 23rd 🙂

img_9248

After much research, we decided to try Barbusa,  a Busalacchi family restaurant. The Busalacchi family are renowned for owning a medley of authentic, delicious Italian restaurants in the San Diego area.

img_8752

This was a unique spin on an Italian restaurant. It was more contemporary with distinctive decor, but still had a “warmth” about it.

img_8753img_8754

There was a tribute to famous Italians on the wall- can you identify any of them?

img_8755

My one and only complaint was the volume- it was noisy! It was almost uncomfortable how loud it was- we didn’t mind, but it doesn’t encompass that old school “romantic” ambiance of most Italian restaurants.

img_9249

Our waiter was just awesome! He was helpful navigating the menu, especially the wines and had a thick Italian accent. You know you’re getting the real deal when the waiter is 100% Italian!

img_8757img_9254

The bread!!!! This was delicious.

img_8756

For an appetizer we tried tempura squash blossoms. These were very enjoyable- pretty & tasty!

img_8758

My mom and I split their caesar. This was the best caesar dressing I’ve ever had! I compared it to my mom’s she uses for the grilled romaine she makes at home. No anchovy type flavor, just smooth deliciousness. I think it had a hint of balsamic with it that was just wonderful.

img_8759

My mom and I split two dishes (I love when we go out to eat together because we have identical tastes- so we just split a couple dishes usually). The first dish we tried was the Garganelli funghi with black truffle oil, oyster mushrooms, and whipped panna. Phenomenal. It reminded me a lot of the dish I had in Disney at Il Mulino!

img_8769

Just when I didn’t think I could have anything more yummy, we tried the Gnocchi e Zucca with roasted butternut squash, sage, and cream. Oh goodness gracious this was melt-in-your-mouth-savor-every-single-nibble deliciousness. You could tell the gnocchi was truly homemade. I usually have the philosophy that it’s best to try new things whenever given the chance, but if we come back to SD I may need to stop in for this dish again. Gosh, I can’t even put it into words!

img_8767

DJ tried the Carbonara con Piselli. This had fettuccini, sweet peas, caramelized onions, pork pancetta, and egg yolk. I tried some without the meat and it was so creamy and savory!

img_8768

And last up, Pete enjoyed the Bolognese al Forno with baked anelletti, beef and sausage ragu, english peas, and tres formaggi.

img_8766

And of course, we had room for dessert! We tried their deconstructed cannoli. Oh. WOWZA. It was scrumptious. Whatever they use to make their creamy cannoli filling was just creamy gold. The cannoli itself was cooked to perfection!

img_8771

Picture time!

facetune_10-02-2019-13-03-25img_9252

These two are just so much fun! After dinner, we went back to the hotel, opened up some bday gifts, and then called it a wrap!

After a night of tossing and turning from eagerness to run the race, it was finally 4:30 am and time to get up, lol. I can’t tell y’all how excited I was to run- I watched that darn clock all night. Also, not being able to run much was driving me nuts during the tapering!

img_9263

It was chilly, but a perfect temp for a race. We set off and the first seven or so miles were accompanied by a spectacular sunrise.

img_8790img_8791img_8793img_8792img_8796

I seriously don’t know what overcame me, but I was feeling guuuud. I think it was all the pasta and pent up energy. Eat pasta, run fasta!!! Anywho- y’all are probably so sick hearing about this from my other social media spots, but I qualified for Boston.. and seriously have NO clue how. All I can say is Jesus really is in the business of miracles, cause this is one! I was with the 3:30 pacer group for most of the race and then just gave it all I had at the end. I will say when I realized I was on pace to qualify I started visualizing crossing the finish at that time (3:30). I believe 100% in the power of visualization, and whenever I started losing steam I imagined crossing that line with 3:30 reading across the time board.

facetune_20-01-2019-19-11-39-2

Go, Djers, go!!

img_9270

Post race pics!

img_8773This was DJ’s first marathon!!! If he didn’t want to run this race I wouldn’t have signed up to begin with. I’m already reflecting so fondly on our training season, and to say I’m proud of him feels like an understatement. He’s an athlete, but not a runner specifically.. so this was a HUGE accomplishment for him. He didn’t run at all before, never even a half or anything, and one day just said, “I’m gonna run a marathon”. He did awesome!

img_9250

Our attempt at a selfie, haha.

facetune_10-02-2019-21-05-08

After the race we headed to Crack Shack for lunch! We were both definitely sore, but my stomach was more upset than anything. Still … we were ready to chow down!

img_8774img_8776img_8775

The line was insanely long and was taking a while. We were a bit nervous because my mom and Pete had an afternoon flight, but once we ordered the food came lickety split.

img_9268

We finally put our orders in and then grabbed a picnic table in their cute little sitting area. On our way over I saw all these delicious sauces they have to choose from! We basically tried one of each naturally.

img_8777

Their milkshakes bring all the marathoners to the yard! I didn’t know if my stomach could handle a full one, but I definitely had a few generous sips of each. Pete tried the strawberry shortcake and DJ had the Cookie Monster. I have to say, they were both insanely good- but I think I liked the strawberry shortcake better. The real pieces of cookie in the Cookie Monster were mighty tasty though. It’s a close call!

img_8778

I was craving something fresh and cold. Veggies sounded perfect. My mom and I both ordered a Downward Dog. This consisted of local veggies, quinoa, hummus, sunflower seeds, and lemon yogurt vinaigrette. This satisfied that craving entirely! Mmm I can nearly taste it.

img_8781

The guys ordered the Senor Croque that had chicken, bacon, egg, cheese, maple butter, and brioche.

img_8779img_8780

We all split the fries with the different sauces- and lemme say- they top notch !!! I would seriously go back just for those. Mm!

We decided to go straight to the airport after dropping my mom and Pete off since we weren’t really feeling like frolicking around the city. I know, I know- me turning down an opportunity to frolic in a city?!? My stomach just was not having it. We got to the airport too early apparently to check in (I didn’t know that was a thing), so we had to wait in the little pre-security area. I grabbed a coconut water and read on my Kindle app while DJ caught up on all ESPN world happenin’s.

img_8782

Once we got through security and found our gate we vegged out for a while. We realized we were kinda hungry again around 8:00 pm, so we decided to stop into Prado at the airport. The big Prado is a pretty famous restaurant in Balboa park! We haven’t had the chance to try it yet, so why not preview it here?! And y’all thought I was done being a tourist- nevvverrr.

img_8783

We split their fish tacos cause I had a bunch of snacks on me, and we were only an hour flight from home if we wanted more food. They were tasty!! The portion of blackened fish was a bit small, but whatevs, airport food- ya know?

img_8784

Oh my gosh.. did I do it?.. did I actually finally finish our San Diego trip recap?!! Pause for dramatic effect…

I’m gonna try to crank out a catch up post at some point this week, but I’m kinda in that season where I feel like I’m saying “yes” a lot, and my planner is very full on top of school work. It’s all great stuff- but just busy busy. More on that to come! Goodness, I’m so excited to catch y’all up on what’s going on.

Questions for you:

  • If you run races, what is your favorite race you have ever done?
  • Valentine’s Day- yay or nay?!

xo <3

signature-1

Advertisements

San Diego Part 2: Yummy Eats, Marathon Expo & Balboa Park!

Hey, everyone!! School + other responsibilities are really vying for my attention right now, so it’s gonna probably take a while to catch up on these posts & your posts! Hang tight though- I’m hoping to get a huge chunk done by Thursday or so to take a couple hours to catch up 🙂

In Part One we left off with the four of us- my mom (Momma Jill), step-dad (Pete), DJ and I heading into Gaslamp for the evening. I instantly recognized the Ghirardelli store with its neon lights beaming down the road… the last time we were here I had to stop in and grab some chocolate squares to satisfy my sweet tooth! It’s crazy how long year ago feels, yet also crazy how quickly it flew by.

img_8661

Time for some authentic Mexican cuisine! This was the one type of food we had to get while we were here.  San Diego is famous for it! Last time we went to La Puerta, probably the most popular spot in Gaslamp. It was pretty good & a unique spot- but I wouldn’t necessarily say worth the wait. We decided to try the place next door that had great reviews- Las Hadas. I’ll say right off the bat- I think it was way better than La Puerta. There was no wait, the food was just tremendous, and the service was impeccable. A+++.

img_8670img_8662img_8665

We started with some fresh guac and chips to start.

img_8664

DJ ordered the Surf and Turf Burrito with skirt steak, shrimp, cilantro rice, pico de gallo, avocado salsa, jack & cheddar cheese. It was topped with a cajun salsa and jalapeño crema! I’m sitting on the couch next to DJ and asked him to describe it in one word- he said, “Really good” … that’s two words, but we’ll give it to him. 😉

img_8667

My mom and I split the vegetarian fajitas with roasted corn, black beans, bell peppers, onions, cilantro and fresh seasonal vegetables. These were just terrific! I was a little skeptical since they didn’t have red/yellow/orange pepper mix (my personal fave for fajitas), but the combo worked beautifully. We raved about them basically with every bite.

img_8668img_8669

& last but not least, Pete enjoyed the steak fajitas!

img_8671img_8672facetune_18-01-2019-20-16-54-1facetune_18-01-2019-20-19-02

After a wonderfully satisfying meal, we went to the Art Gallery of my favorite artist- Tim Cantor. His art isn’t for everyone- it’s certainly unique, but it resonates with me. I was excited to show my mom and Pete! They were troopers, appreciating the fact that I appreciated it, hehe. My mom is such a social butterfly and struck up a conversation with the woman who was working there. It turns out she is Tim Cantor’s wife, and offered to show me the original of my favorite painting Thieves of May in the back of the studio. I had chills. I got emotional when she showed it to me. Magic happens when you take Momma Jill places, hehe.

img_8673

On the way out, my mom surprised me with his collector’s book, Affinité, as a birthday gift! I was insanely excited- this immediately became one of my most treasured possessions.

facetune_30-01-2019-23-06-48

San Diego also has great options for rooftop bars and views. We weren’t quite ready to turn in for the night, so we decided to go to Altitude Sky Lounge , home of the best panoramic views of the city last time. (We discovered this last time we were here)

img_8675

The part DJ loves the most is you can overlook Petco Park.

img_8676img_8677img_8305

What a memorable evening! <3

On the morning of Saturday January 16th, we swung open the blinds to see this expansively gorgeous view of the city!

img_8679img_8680

After getting ready for the day, we met up with my mom and Pete in the lobby.

img_8678

Here is a cute pic of their little coffee bar setup!

img_8681

They even had Mexican Hot Chocolate available- too cute.

img_8683img_8684

We filled our water bottles up with watermelon water & hit the road!

img_8682

First things first: Food. Am I right orrrr am I right? We found a cute little spot close to where the marathon Expo was located in Carlsbad called Beach Plum Kitchen. We did call ahead for Yelp, but still managed to try a bit of coffee cake on our way in 😉

img_8689img_8688

That stuff was guuuud.

img_8686

Such a stinkin’ adorable brunchy spot.

img_8685img_8692img_8691img_8690

My mom and I both tried their honey lavender latte. Holy cannoli guacamole ravioli- this was SO good. I had to restrain myself from chugging the deliciousness down all at once.

img_8693

My mom and I split two dishes: The avocado toast and smoked salmon!

img_8696My mom did say that my homemade avocado toast was better- I’d have to agree but that’s because I make it with Oren’s pita bread- can’t top that stuff! 😉

The smoked salmon bagel hit the spot though! So yummy. This is easily one of my all time favorite brunch dishes. If you haven’t tried lox, you gottta. I’ll never forget the first time I had it a few years ago! Life changin’ .

img_8697

Pete and DJ both tried a skillet hash & gobbled um’ all up!

img_8699img_8698

Expo time!! This expo was a lot smaller than others I have been to- especially the Flying Pigs one in Cincinnati- that one was massive. Even the Big Sur one seemed much larger with more vendors too. Either way it was still fun to frolic around (yes, frolic).

img_8700

Got our bibs!!!

img_8304

Funny seeing you here, Mr. Friar! This is the San Diego Padres’s mascot.

img_8702

We didn’t stay too long, just made one round through the vendors. I mainly like getting all the free protein bar samples haha. The coolest thing I discovered was Ultima. This stuff is like a gatorade alternative, but much cleaner. I had it throughout the race & it really did feel hydrating. Gatorade always makes my mouth feel dry and sticky.  DJ had the idea to take the coast back to San Diego. My gosh the views were beautiful. We briefly passed Torrey Pines too- a famous golf spot.

img_8701img_8703

Next up: Balboa Park!

img_8704

We strolled around enjoying the bright, sunny afternoon.

First up is the Organ and Pavilion- this is the largest outdoor Organ in the world, prettty cool.

img_8737img_8738

Next up is the picturesque view of the Japanese Friendship garden.

img_8739

Last time we did the museums but were pretty underwhelmed by them. This time we just decided to enjoy their exteriors, haha.

img_8933img_8740img_8742img_8743img_8744

Afternoon ice cream time!!! Really- is there anything better than soft serve?

img_8745

We found this spot kind of on the outskirts of the park near the zoo that was like a little art village. I don’t know how we missed this last time, but it was too fun!

img_8747img_8750img_8932

My mom and Pete have a travel wall in their home. She found the most beautiful little painting from the park to add to it.

img_8748

After the park we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I can’t wait to share with you where we went!

Questions for you:

  • Favorite Super Bowl commercial? Ours was the Bud Light & Game of Thrones one! Also did anyone else find the half time show kinda awkward?! They are all so talented but I wasn’t vibin’ the Travis Scott/Adam Levine combo.
  • Since I am sooo behind on reading posts please tell me something going on in your life right now 🙂

xo <3

signature-1

San Diego Part 1! Cafe 21, Coronado, & CVS

Hey all!! I am so excited to finallllly share our time in San Diego with you 🙂 It’s my favorite city in the US- I just LOVE it. The school load has been pretty intense this week, so I am just now getting out this recap. If you are curious to see our previous San Diego adventures I will link them here: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.  January 17th right before we left I received this beautiful delivery of flowers for my bday! It was so special, and they are stilll in full beautiful bloom today 🙂

img_8385img_8350

We booked a late evening flight out (around 9:30). The flights to SD are generally pretty cheap & short since it’s within the same state- and this time the best deal was through Alaskan airlines. We love when the cheapest price is through Alaska- it’s one of our favorite airlines (and it’s the best terminal in SF’s airport!). We arrived to the airport obnoxiously early per usual, so Deej and I decided to have a little popcorn shrimp snack & wine and chit-chat about our week since we had been in our own little work/school worlds since Sunday.

img_8386img_8387

While waiting our gate I was able to catch up on some blogs, my favorite way to pass the time!

We had a bit of a delay getting to the airport & then getting off the tarmac, but the short flight was great- this plane was massive and even had the free movies to choose from. I watched Game Night, but the flight was soo short that it cut off before the movie was over. It was SUCH a good movie, and I’ve got to finish those last ten minutes one of these days haha. Finally around 1 am, we arrived at our Hotel- The Kimpton Palomar. We got a great deal on a room with our Orbitz bucks!

img_8388img_8389

Our check in concierge was extremely chipper for it being so late, lol. I loved her energy though! She informed us that there was coffee in the lobby in the morning, but if we wanted we could have a Keurig brought to the room. I jumped on the Keurig option, naturally. I love having a warm cup of coffee to accompany me in getting ready in the morning.

img_8390

The hotel has a Mexican restaurant right downstairs too called Curardero. We never ventured to it- but it seemed like a fun option!

img_8425

The rooms were simple, pretty & clean!

img_8597img_8392img_8396img_8393img_8394img_8397

Okay, it seems silly to take a picture of the soap- but that hand soap was some of the most wonderfully scented doggone soap… the sandalwood particularly came through!

img_8398

I took a nice 2 am shower (I always feel the need to shower after being on a plane) & then snooooozeeed.

In the morning after a big cup of steamin’ jo (or two), we walked down the road to Cafe twenty-fun, I mean…. Cafe twenty-yum.. okay okay it’s really called Cafe 21. 😉

I heard about this gem from Kate at LiveintheNautical when she visited SD. Alsoo, when I went to their website I saw you get a free entree if it is your birthday month, so trying it out was a no brainer!

img_8399

cah-uuuute.

img_8400img_8401img_8404img_8405img_8402img_8407img_8406img_8408

The decor! The menu! The food! The ambiance! Even the way they serve the water is too cool. Let’s call it what it is: A millennial/hipster/blogger’s paradise. My mom and Pete texted us that they’d landed, and met us right on time to get some good eats! My mom hasn’t missed a marathon yet, and she was not about to ruin her streak. I say she’s my good luck charm 🙂  You may remember the last Big Sur Marathon (that was such a great weekend!). I was excited Pete was able to join- also it was his bday month too- so we got two free entrees with our meal, what a steal!

img_8409

We had to try their Bloody Mary’s which people rave about over YELP. We ordered three off the menu, and decided we would just decide who wanted what once we tried them. We first tried one that had a whole real prawn in it. (it was a bit too cocktail saucey tasting for my liking). But this was Pete’s favorite of the three so he claimed it!

img_8413

Next up we tried the “California Greenin'”. Now THIS was my cup of tea. Those grilled cheeses were insanely good too. I could have ate a plate of those alone as my breakfast- mmmmm! Not your traditional bloody, but pretty darn refreshing! It reminded me of those Naked juices, I think the one called the Green Machine?

img_8410

My mom opted for the “Ol’ Yello’ Mary with fresh yellow heirloom tomato, horseradish pickled veggies, & the yummy grilled cheese. This was a very close second (in my opinion) to the California Greenin’. It was pretty tasty! I will say though- if you are craving a traditional bloody, this is probably not your place. These are pretty nuanced in flavor & doesn’t give that great hearty tomatoey kick. Kate said that Breakfast Republic had the best bloodies of the ones she tried, and I would totally take her word for it! We tried Breakfast Republic last time we were there, and it was a fantastic breakfast (I need to try a bloody next time though!).

img_8412

Food time! Deej had their wonderful pancakes with maple syrup, raspberry and kiwi purees, fresh fruit and seasonal house-made compotes. The mix of jams and the syrup was beyond satiable (I had a bite of course 😉 ). All our meals basically end up as family style- lol.

img_8415img_8414

Pete ordered this GORGEOUS bananas foster. I mean… can you take it?! MMmmmm!

img_8416img_8418

My mom and I split their shrimp corn cakes which was probably the most frequently mentioned item on the menu per Yelp reviewers. This had poached eggs, kennebec potato, wild shrimp, sweet corn, mozzarella, cilantro cream sauce, & fried basil. I think this was actually my favorite of all three dishes. I’d say if you come here, this is a must.

img_8417img_8420

After our scrumptious brunch we headed back to the hotel to change into some beach-easy clothes.

img_8421img_8424

Before hitting the sand, we all decided to take a peak at the rooftop pool. It was such a fun little set up! If it was warmer out we would have taken advantage of it, but it was a bit too chilly for that.

img_8426img_8427

Time to drive over the bridge to Coronado! It’s always pretty exciting to see all the massive ships & fleets of boats.

img_8428

Ah I just love Coronado <3 It has so much character and such a peaceful vibe.

img_8429img_8430We found the same place we parked last time and walked to Hotel Coronado to hang out at the beach there.

img_8433img_8489

Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel, you can still enjoy much of what it has to offer for free.

img_8940img_8939img_8941img_8432img_8434

We walked around the grounds a bit, enjoying the historical odes at every turn.

img_8436img_8431img_8439

Inside we spotted this old elevator that is still operational- I don’t know how we missed it last time!

img_8438img_8437

I’ll never forget our INSANE brunch we had here last time! We walked around the shops attached to the perimeter of the hotel, and of course, had to stop at the ice cream shop.

img_8441img_8442img_8443

Their flavors are too fun!!!

img_8444img_8445img_8476

Time to soak up some San Diego rays! My mom and Pete took a long walk on the beach & I read some articles for school. DJ listened to his podcast and lounged next to me too.

We even had a little visitor. Linda, I felt like you getting these shots! 🙂

img_8477img_8478img_8479img_8481

It started getting a bit chilly in the afternoon, so we went to the restaurants outside the hotel to have a glass of red wine to warm us up & enjoyed a vibrant quintessential Californian sunset <3

img_8583-1

While we were sitting outside we noticed a man at the table next to us that was sporting my school of nursing’s shirt from 2018. I had to say something! I hopped over, introduced myself, and turns out he and one of the women at the table were professors. They were there for a nursing conference with the rest of the school of nursing. They were super friendly & we chatted for a few minutes- turns out I may even have them as profs near the end of my program! I wrote their names down in my notepad, so I won’t forget haha. Small world. Too fun!

img_8490img_8491On the way back we stopped at a CVS to stock up on carby breakfast items for before the race. I grabbed some mini wheats & DJ got a box of cereal too (Can’t remember what). Once back to the hotel, we got ready to hit the town! I’m excited to share our evening, but I’ll save that for next post 🙂

img_8494

Questions for you:

  • Are you watching the Bachelor tonight? Let’s discuss.
  • Favorite cereal? I’m alll about them mini wheats- I love the chocolate & regular. Mmmmmmm!

xo <3

signature-1

San Diego: Part Two- Sunsets, and Gaslamp, and Bears, oh my!

Well I should probably get this part two written one of these days, whaddya say? I left off Part One with us heading to La Jolla!!! La Jolla was breathtaking- I’ll just let the pictures mostly speak for themselves. It’s just about a twenty-five minute drive from downtown San Diego.

img_7359

When DJ and I discussed our favorite parts of the trip after the fact, DJ said La Jolla was a candidate.

The cove is a gorgeous little beachy/cliff strip of land along the ocean. Up from the water’s edge is a quaint city with an inviting atmosphere and a small town feel.

We were immediately greeted by the cutest sea lions. They were a couple of lazy bums, plopping around on the sand until the tide came in too close.. then they would scootch a couple inches, probably the most movement they would have the whole day.

img_7352

What. a . life. Am i right?!

img_7351

And there was one that was determined to stake his claim.

 

We walked around the sidewalks, edging past other tourists, all of us trying to sneak in glimpses of the glorious views. Per my good friend Annie’s recommendation, we had to see the sunset at the cove. I absolutely understood why as the sun started making it’s way toward the water.

img_7353img_7354

Babe & Views, Views & Babe

img_7356img_7358img_7360img_7357img_7361

We sat on a dusty cliff and chatted in the most serene, calming moment accompanied by the background hum of waves and people’s murmurs. I looked over at Deej and said this reminded me of our moment on the cliffs in San Francisco months ago. At that time I had such anxiety, I felt such a hopeless, heavy, suffocating weight on my shoulders. I told DJ now I felt joy, excitement, and a new found hope in the future. This year has been hard (to say the absolute least), but I’m thankful to have had him by my side through every step.

On our way back to the car we spotted an acapella group, and drug DJ toward them to watch to his chagrin. Let’s just say this is not his cup of tea, but I loved it!! Babe & tunes & views!

 

After La Jolla, I had said it was time to rally, rally, rally!!!! I still was not 100%, but much better than the night before. Ohhhhh and you know how I wasn’t sure we were going to ever be hungry again following that massive brunch? L O to the L. We were ravenous. A serious sunset can take it out of ya. We headed to the Gaslamp Quarter to grab some grub… it was only about a mile and a half walk from our hotel.

img_7362

I love the energy of the Gaslamp quarter. It’s considered the historic heart of San Diego, yet it has such a contemporary and lively vibe about it all.

Even on a Sunday night, it was hopping on every corner.

img_7363

We were craving some good Mexican, and La Puerta had the reputation as being some of the best around. The 40 minute wait confirmed those rumors.

img_7365img_7364

It has all the rock and roll vibes and all though decorated to give off casual, garage like feels, it was meticulously decorated. The right side of the wall was covered in fake green moss contrasted by a wall of actual criminal mug shots. It was the most unique restaurant we may have ever been to.

img_7366img_7368img_7367img_7369img_7370img_7371

We tried their street tacos- I had the grilled veggies and DJ tried the carne asada. So good, the ingredients were fresh and delicious. The whole meal definitely hit the spot.

Funny(ish) story: The waiter brought out a CD player with our bill… we thought it was basically an eccentric billfold. We put the card in and when he came back to grab it, he was confused…not seeing a card or cash visible. We explained it was in the CD holder, and he said, “Oh no, that’s just staying on the table after you head out.” Whoops! Oh well. But a CD holder would be a creative way to collect cards and money….

img_7373

We stopped by our dear San Diegoan Ghirardelli cousin after because I had a serious sweet tooth. I grabbed a few Ghirardelli squares to munch on as we strolled around the street of Gaslamp. (If you ever pass a Ghirardelli they pass out free chocolate squares inside of that season’s flavor).

img_7375img_7374

After strolling around after another food coma, we decided to head to Altitude Sky Lounge- A rooftop hangout promising the ultimate views in San Diego.

img_7380

I highly suggest stopping by here if you visit San Diego. The ambiance was amazing- relaxed and comfortable. They even had a large flickering fireplace that people chatted around into the late hours of the evening.

And the views speak for themselves….

img_7381

We were even able to look directly into Petco park

img_7382-1img_7379img_7384-1

We walked back to the hotel with happy tummies and happy memories.

img_7385-1

On the 15th (yes we are finally into the next day), I woke up bright and early for a good workout. I loved looking out the window and watching the sunrise. I am trying to read through the “100 Books you should read before you die” list this year. I read, “The Lovely Bones” while working up a great sweat. I will say, it is quite disturbing, but I couldn’t put it down. I have so many highlighted sections and quotes from it that I’d love to share sometime soon.

img_7386-1img_7584

DJ and I headed out for the day for our long anticipated trip to the renowned San Diego zoooo!!!! We parked near Balboa park and decided to walk over.

img_7388img_7389img_7391-1

We did the Go San Diego pass, which I think was the best way for us to do both Balboa and the Zoo. It was the cheapest way and included nearly everything. The only thing the 3-day pass didn’t include vs. the 3,5, and 7 day pass was Sea World. We were okay with that, but if you want to visit sea world I suggest doing the 3, 5, or 7 day pass!

We grabbed breakfast from the cutest little coffee stand in Balboa park. I opted for oatmeal and DJ munched on a slice of lemon poppyseed bread. The coffee was tremendous…

img_7390

…Until I spilled some on my white sweater….. ya win some, ya lose some.

img_7394

The zoo, oh the zoo!!! Y’all know what a zoo has so I won’t go into much description. This was by far the best zoo I have ever been to. It had everything… it truly had creatures I had no idea existed. I would suggest blocking out at least three hours to see everything.

img_7393-1

DJ navigated us with the map, making sure we didn’t miss a beat!

These little guys below are >100 years old!!! How sturtling is that. I couldn’t believe these little critters were born back in the 1900s. And they were HUGE, I didn’t know turtles (or tortoises?) this large existed. The pictures do not do justice to their size. Males can weigh greater than 500 lbs. 500 LBS. I was in turtle awe.

img_7395-1img_7396img_7397img_7398

Gotta love a good croc.

img_7400

One of our favorite exhibits was the gorillas.

img_7399-1img_6673

The Easter Giant Eland is one of those creatures that looks magical, and I didn’t know anything like it actually existed in our world. They were spectacular.

img_7406-1img_7405-1img_7401img_7402img_7404-1img_7408-1img_6867img_7403-1

We started getting pretty hungry again after the Panda Exhibit (love love love!). We stopped by Sabertooth grill for some grub. Nothing like some good fried food to accompany a zoo day. DJ wen with the classic grilled chicken tenders and I was pleasantly surprised to see they had a vegan burger!

img_7409-1

img_7410-1

Once we were all fueled up, we went back making sure we didn’t miss a single exhibit. We stopped by and watch the Jaguar Keeper talk (super fascinating) and listened the formidable lion bellowing in the neighbor exhibit. Apparently, it’s roar can be heard up to four miles away!

This sweet little man below was one of my other favorites from the exhibit. I didn’t take a picture of it’s name, so I don’t know what type of animal it actually is, but it was precious!!! Does anyone know?!

img_7411-1

The baboons probably should be a PG-13 exhibit to be honest.

img_7412-1

And if you don’t think God has a sense of humor…..

img_7414-1img_7418-1img_7419-1img_7413-1

Badgers are hilarious the way they scamper about.

img_7415-1img_7420-1img_7416-1img_7417-1

To cap off our adventures, we did the sky ride. Definitely do this to get a full look into the zoo! The sun was just starting to set so we had some pretty views of Balboa Park and the sky as well.

img_7422-1img_7421img_7423-1

We headed back to our car after several hours of exploring what felt like another world.

img_7424-1img_7425-1

We then made our way to dinner in Little Italy. I will include that in our last part of the trip, Part 3!

Have y’all been to the San Diego zoo?! In general- what’s your favorite exhibit?

xo <3

signature-1

San Diego: Part One- Mister A’s, Coronado Beach Brunchin’ & Mission Beach

Long time no see!!! But I can’t say long time, no SEA! This past week, DJ and I zipped to San Diego (MY FIRST TIME) for an impromptu getaway. On a whim, I requested a couple days of PTO, not thinking it would get approved. But I’lllll be all the darned, I got em’!!! We quickly planned our trip, and I’m pretty confident I spent more time planning than we were actually there. I LIVE to plan a trip.

Since last year, I have been sick sick sick (overly dramatic use of the New Year). This virus is hanging around much longer than the usual.

It’s actually kind of entertaining— like “What form will it take this week?!” Behind week one we have a runny nose! Behind week two we have a dry nagging cough! Feeling adventurous- week three has a sinus infection and body aches! I thought I was getting better around the second week, but the last day I worked on the 12th, I entirely lost my voice by the end of my shift. Trying to give report to other nurses was painful.

The next morning (The 13th) I woke up with a swollen, hoarse, scratchy throat, horrifically runny nose, and swollen face. Happy 24th birthday to meeee! I felt all the body aches and allll the sick. Luckily, I was fueled up my hot coffee and ibuprofen which alleviated the symptoms a ton. PS. Get your flu shot if you haven’t. This year it is SO bad, you guys. Not something to mess with. I get that it is only 10% effective.. yadayadayada.. but majority of those who have become severely gravely ill did NOT have their shot.

Anywho, I was adamant I wouldn’t let this bug get in our way. Mind/matter. I was ready to rally through it and not miss a beat of what we had planned. “Rally” became the theme of our trip. Every time I felt like utter crap, I just said, “But imma rally!“.

The sweet guy gave me the greatest birthday card in the world and this flower birthday cake before hitting the road. I meannn come on now, how ingenious is this since obviously we wouldn’t be there to actually consume a cake. Even now (on the 22nd) the flowers are still in full bloom, without a wilt in sight. And it said, “Hope your birthday takes the cake”….

img_7263img_7262

I blew out those candles with all the energy I could muster and we jotted over to San Jose’s airport. Neither of us have been in this airport before, and we loved it! Easy & simple and much closer than the SF airport for us.

Naturally…. had to get some Peet’s with LOTS of honey and cinnamon lathered all over the foam of my cafe au lait.

img_7264

We flew Alaska and loved it! Granted, it was only about an 1.5 hour flight, but we were in the air much quicker than it seemed usual for most airlines, and it was all over a pleasant flight.

img_7266

We made it…500 tissues later!

img_7267

I turned a corner in the afternoon and was feeling much better by the time we landed.

Since this is a travel post, I will include quite a bit of information on the more practical travel side (skip this if you aren’t planning on visiting anytime soon, or ever, which would be a crime, and I may try to convince you otherwise)……

When DJ and I were trying to figure out the most cost friendly/ location convenient way to do San Diego, we found that doing the package deal seemed the way to go. We were able to snatch a flight, hotel, and rental car for <$1,000. Granted, parking is a bear, especially at The Westin where we stayed, it was $50 a night!!!! We found a lot directly across from valet that was much cheaper, but overall- that’s something that definitely needs to be taken into account when visiting. We debated if uber/lyfting vs. driving was cheaper, and honestly with all the parking fees it probably would have been about equal, but at least with a rental you have the convenience to get up and go wherever you would like at any time. But like I said- parking is a pain in the neck, so we would definitely consider just ubering next time). We also were able to walk to Gaslamp from The Westin which helped immensely. If you want to do San Diego, I highly suggest staying right in downtown so you can walk most places and not have to pay the uber fees at all (except for when visiting other beaches/Coronado island). ALSO, if debating Westin Gaslamp vs. Downtown 100% stay at the Downtown location. It is maybe a 0.3 mile difference, and the Gaslamp hotel is much more expensive. We loved the Westin downtown complete with a pool, hot-tub, amazing workout facility, beautiful views, super clean, an in-room coffee maker (essential), quiet, awesome bar, and friendly staff. Like I said, only downsides would be the parking cost & the fact that breakfast is not included. But the breakfast is tremendous if you vouch for it (it’ll be included in my last San Diego post).

This is the view from the hotel window. If you want to explore the Westin downtown, click here!

img_7268

We got all snazzed up and headed to our first destination in America’s Finest City: Mister A’s.

img_7575

Despite having totally lost my voice at this point, I had not lost my appetite. I’m one of those people that only lose my appetite if I have the literal plague. I actually usually get more hungry when sick, especially with colds. The ibuprofen definitely helped with the swallowing ailment too.

Mister A’s is located on the twelfth floor of a building overlooking San Diego. It promised to have the best view in San Diego, and the best food. Can’t pass that up, am I right?

img_7271

This is one of the classiest little restaurants we have ever been to.

Now, the foooood. Let’s chat food. I’m eating spoonfuls of PB while writing this to keep the hunger at bay. I suggest you do the same.

img_7272

Prior to the meal they brought out bread and butter with a complimentary little bread nugget with a light whipped aioli and hummus creme.

img_7273

Even their butter is served in the most beautiful fashion!

img_7274

Do you spot the sea salt below? We have never had anything like it. It was out-of-this-world delicious. It was unlike any sea salt I have ever had. I could actually go on for days about how much I loved this stuff. I need to find out where it is from and how I can acquire these little guys.

img_7276

I nearly ate their physical menu everything on it looked so good. After much YELP research, we decided to try what seemed to be two of their famous apps- the black mussels provencale with garlic, shallots, and fresh herb butter and their plancha grilled octopus with romesco sauce. I’ll tell ya what, those octopi are the closest I have tried to Marco Prime’s (the best octopus dish in the world). If you follow, I have been on a hunt for that flavor ever since. Gosh, this stuff was good. DJ LOVED the mussels, I preferred the octopus, but still thought they were savory and scrumptious as well. I even asked if the seaweed was edible, and the waiter goes, “Well it’s more for garnish, but I guess technically?”. I joked that he could leave the empty plate so I could savor the seaweed. He thought I was serious, and looked a bit horrified.

img_7275img_7277img_7278

For the main course, I had their main scallops with champagne butter, savory cabbage, walnuts, and parmesan. Oh. so. stinking. tasty.

img_7280

DJ had their lobster tail served over zucchini and basil. It was easily one of the most generous servings of lobster tail I have ever seen!

img_7283

We also tried their truffle mac as a side and ya know, we thought it was pretty subpar. It needed more salt (luckily we still had our handy dandy sea salt on hand). I’d suggest trying a different side, everything else was phenomenal, but the mac and cheese we could have done without (shocker, I knowww).

img_7282

We ended the exquisite edible extravaganza with decaf coffee (for me), a sweet complimentary slice of carrot cake (YAASSSS) & their chocolate royale with dark and white chocolate mousse, caramel ganache, and praline crunch (highly recommend).

img_7284img_7285img_7286

Sometimes my eyebrows have a life of their own, but gotta let them live, ya know?

img_7287img_7289

The views did not disappoint. It was a perfect end to the evening.

img_7288

We waddled back to the hotel with a “no regrets” food coma and had plans to visit Gaslamp. I even got dressed up in something a little more versatile to walk through the historic district….but the minute I sat down I realized I couldn’t do it. I ‘d hit my limit for the day and needed to go to sleep. We decided to explore and rally into the night the next day!

In the morning of the 14th I was feeling tremendously better. I even was able to squeeze in a few miles before hitting the town. I LOVE working out on vacation. I feel like I always am more motivated to get up at the butt crack of dawn and crank it out. Plus, it was very important to create an extra stomach for this trip!

img_7290

While some people say breakfast is the most important meal of the day (which I would usually concur), if brunch is in the running it may have my vote. According to the Internet (the most reputable source), Hotel Del Coronado hosts the best brunch in all the land in their Crown Room. We made reservations on Open Table and woke up two eager beavers to see what all the hullabaloo was about.

img_7320

First, Hotel Del Coronado was more gorgeous and breathtaking in person than one could fathom. It was simply captivating, a historic landmark that inspired not only awe, but wonder. We agreed that one day we would have to actually stay there.

img_7293img_7294

The Crown Room was spectacular. It was much larger than I envisioned from the pictures. I feel like I am writing about something sacred while describing this experience. It was easily one of the BEST meals we have ever had. We agreed that if you are going to be in San Diego on a Sunday, it is worth every single cent and more. It is an experience of a lifetime and everyone needs to add this to their bucket list ASAP. There is no amount of pictures, words, or BOLD TYPING that can do this justice. It was a few hours in time that will forever be reminisced between the two of us.

img_7583

This brunch had EVERYTHING you can imagine. EVERYTHING. I took a bajillion pictures and probably didn’t even snap half of it. We are talking endless lobster, crab legs, sushi, a make-your-own-donut bar, make-your-own smoked salmon bagel bar, endless unique drinks, a Bloody Mary bar, desserts on desserts on desserts to your heart’s delight, waffles, pancakes, prime rib, beef, veggies upon veggies, cheese from every sector of the world and fruit, parfaits, a candy bar, NYC cheesecake……. I’m not kidding.. I haven’t even covered the half of it.

img_7295img_7297img_7299img_7296img_7311img_7312img_7313img_7315img_7316img_7314img_7576img_7579

At the make your own donut bar, they even had a flamer that toasted the marshmallows on top of the donut if you wanted to make a “S’mores” donut!

img_7302img_7301img_7303

THERE WAS A LOBSTER TAIL IN MY BLOODY MARY. WHAT IS HAPPENING.

img_7304img_7308

And guess the heck what- DJ said he finally found some all-star pancakes that rate up at the top. (If you follow, we have an ongoing hunt for the best pancakes for DJ).

img_7306

Below is a donut DJ made, too cute not to snap a shot.

img_7307

There were crown chandeliers hanging all over… you know I couldn’t resist..
img_7310img_7319

Highlights from the brunch included- the crab legs, biscuits and gravy, smoked salmon, pancakes, mimosas (I didn’t actually prefer the Bloody Mary although it was their signature drink), the NYC Cheesecake, and their shrimp… good lawd, it was the freshest doggone shrimp I have had. I also have to say our waitress was perhaps the sweetest lady of all time. She was such a doll and made the whole experience even that much more terrific.

***Cue the food coma***

I questioned if I would ever be able to eat again quite honestly.

After that experience of a lifetime, we made our way back to the car to change into some beachy gear!

We perused their shops and views.

img_7321img_7322img_7330img_7323

Finally we made our way to the beach, greeted by the most terrific sand castle I have ever seen.

img_7328

We breathed in the fresh salty air, sunk our feet into the soft sand, and let the sound of the waves overwhelm our senses, saturating our lungs with calm.

We laughed watching the sea gulls fly high into the air and drop a shell from many feet up, hoping to discover an edible gem inside. We mainly laughed at how close the shells came to plopping on people’s heads half the time.

img_7333img_7331img_7332img_7337img_7334img_7342img_7582

After the amazing time frolicking on the beach (DJ HATES when I use the word frolick), we headed to our next destination: Belmont Park at Mission Beach.

img_7347

Oh how this screamed Santa Cruz to us!!! It is truly the Santa Cruz of San Diego.

img_7340img_7339

We had to ride the historic Giant Dipper! This one and the one at Santa Cruz are the considered National Historic Landmarks.

img_7341img_7344

It was actually way more fun than I expected for being such an old coaster!!! But I think it can also guarantee a headache after a few rounds 😉

We walked along Mission Beach, definitely a more boisterous beach than Coronado’s. I’d suggest Mission or Pacific if you are looking for more a party, upbeat, and laid back crowd. Coronado is more calm, quiet, and sophisticated.

img_7346

We then headed to La Jolla for an epic sunset. I will include that in my next post! I may have to break this into three parts because there is just far too much. It will probably take another post to just finish the 14th, and we were there till the 17th. Oh boy, haha.

img_7348

I am still stuck on the couch after working all weekend long and never really recuperating too much, but that means I’ll have a couple days to catch up on here. I haven’t opened WordPress for a few weeks and am excited to sit down and respond to y’all soon and see what you are up to!

PS. If you have any San Diego posts, please feel free to leave in the comments below! I’d love to explore yours too!

xo <3

signature-1