Austin, TX!

Happy Thursday! And welcome to a travel post! This is a short & sweet one, as we were in Austin for only about 24 hours. BUT we did our best to make the most of it 🙂

So, as many of you know, DJ is checking out different schools/campuses for grad school (MBA). We decided to give UT Austin an in-person visit since he’d never been, but it’s one of the schools he is considering. On Saturday November 3rd I spent the day packing, tying up loose ends around the house, trying to get as much school work done as possible, cleaning, etc.

Around 4:45 am on November 4th I woke up to run, then around 6:30 am we grabbed an Uber to the airport!

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The only thing that made standing through security and the long lines bearable was the promise of Peet’s at the end. *Big deep sigh of bliss* Nothing like Peet’s and reading about reformed Medicare at 7:30 am.

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I studied majority of the plane trip, so I hardly even remember it. I do know the turbulence was awful, and I don’t do well at all with that. But we still arrived, safe and sound 🙂 The Uber driver was very informative and we learned a ton about Austin on our way just to the hotel. Gosh, everyone is soo dern friendly in TX!

We stayed at The Hampton Inn that was closest to right off campus. It was super convenient, cheap, and easily the nicest Hampton Inn we have ever stayed.

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Highly recommend if you are ever in Austin. Those hotels downtown can be pricy- this one was a real bang for the buck!

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And in light of keeping Austin weird they had an intentionally spray painted wall & a photo booth, lol.

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This was on the inside of the elevator… Austin and I will get along just fine!

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We were greeted by a cute little Armadillo & a coffee maker first step into the room, so we were happy as a couple clams! <3

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After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, we walked across the street to UT Austin to check out the grounds!

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It is a stunning campus!

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After walking around for a while, we realized we were quite hungry (‘magine that!). We went back to the hotel, grabbed some water at their cute little water stand in the lobby, and then changed out of our frumpy travel clothes.

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If you know me, you know before big trips I can spend an absurd amount of time researching restaurants. I came to the conclusion that The Salty Sow was a must!

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It was such a warm little space!

img_1523Luckily we came in time for the tail end of Happy Hour, so we tried a few apps at only $5. *In voice of Dorothy: We aren’t in California anymore*.

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First, we had to try the “duck fat” fries. Not even sure what that means, but goodness gracious, they were crispy, delicious perfection. And how fun that they were served with a fry-d egg!

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Next, we had to try the Brussel Sprouts. These were hands down, the BEST Brussel sprouts we have ever had. DJ isn’t even a huge fan of brussels usually, but he kept saying over and over he couldn’t believe how tasty they were.

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For main entrees, DJ ordered the slow cooked beef shoulder with yukon gold mashed potatoes, glazed root vegetables, and a fried egg. It was served in a literal pan.

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DJ loved it.

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For my main, I had the chef’s veggie antipasto platter. It didn’t give a large description of everything that would be on it, but I’ve never met a veggie I haven’t  liked. The platter was massive! I thought “there is no way I can finish all that!”.. but whaddya know, everything was so delicious I couldn’t leave a scrap.

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We were pretty tired and somewhat disoriented from traveling/time change/daylight savings, so we just went back to the hotel to get a nice night slumber & watch Haunting of Hill House. In the morning of November 5th, DJ met with a student from the school of business while I cranked out a six-miler on the treadmill while reading for school. After…. brekky time! At home I usually have breakfast before working out, but when traveling I usually like to work out first thing and work up a massive appetite before chowing down. It makes all the food taste sooo guuuuud.

Look how pretty this buffet area is!!! I just love a good hotel breakfasts.

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The coffee was soo yummy too.

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I grabbed a chocolate scone, fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, a hard boiled egg, and studied for my research course while fueling up for the day.

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While waiting for DJ to return, I watched some lectures in the hotel room and then somehow dozed back to sleep.

When he came back it was around 11:30/12 and we still had some time before our flight. We decided spur of the moment to squeeze in a few more eats before heading back. First stop: Tumble 22! I actually had a Austin food blogger (AustinEater) reach out with the suggestion.

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They claimed it was the best chicken sandwich ever, and DJ confirmed.

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Right next door was a fun little spot called Ranch 616 that had pescatarian- friendly eats for ya girl, so we decided to swing in.

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The atmosphere was wonderful- nice &  relaxing, buzzing with character!

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First, we had to try their Southern Kitchen Living award winning “best oysters in the South” oysters! I am not a big fan of fried food because often I feel like all you taste is the “fried” flavor and nothing else (plus sometimes thereafter tummy troubles)… but these were jam packed with spectacular flavor. And the aioli they served with it was just the best, creamiest compliment. DJ swore he wasn’t hungry after having that massive sandwich, but after having one bite of these he had his share 😉

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I also tried their shrimp tacos which were Mmmmmm mmmmm mmmmm! My mouth also waters just thinking about the jalapeño onion rings. I may never be able to enjoy standard onion rings the same way again.

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Time to head back to the hotel. Luckily, where we stayed we were able to walk to everything except the airport while we were there. This saved on getting a rental car and also allowed us to see more of the city on foot.

I loved this mural we spotted on the way back!

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The rest of the day was a full travel day with a layover in Denver. It all went pretty smoothly. I just studied the entire time and actually knocked out a decent amount of school work for the week!

Questions for you:

  • Have you been to Austin? If so, do you have any favorite restaurants/ things to do?
  • If you could visit a city for 24 hours where would it be?

xo <3

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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”….

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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.

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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.

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We made it…500 tissues later!

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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!

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

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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?

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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.

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

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Even their butter is served in the most beautiful fashion!

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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).

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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).

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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).

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

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

Gotta still represent the SJ in the SD!!!!

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We perused their shops and views.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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