Thursday, March 27, 2014

Europe Trip

In four short weeks, we will be heading to Europe for three weeks before moving back to the east coast. I am so excited! I can't begin to explain my feelings about this trip. It has been a long time coming. I have wanted to do this Europe trip for over a decade and am so excited we are making it happen.

First stop is London, followed by Paris, Barcelona, Salzburg and finally Munich.  We will be spending 3-4 days in each location with the exception of Salzburg where we will spend 2 days. I am in love with The Sound of Music and can not wait to do one of the tours in Salzburg!  I am also looking forward to finally getting to set foot in the motherland (England- my dad was born there and moved to the states when he was a kid), macaroons and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, wine and tapas in Spain and watching Sam drink beer in Munich.

We have booked all transportation (two of the flights with vouchers or reward miles) between cities and have booked a place to stay in London. Need to book lodging in the rest of the cities, but have been busy packing for our upcoming move.

More to come as we continue planning!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Learning a new Language

When visiting another country it is a good idea to learn at least some basics of the language. While looking up what to pack on a European trip (Steph Travels -great tips for packing, planning and traveling in Europe), I stumbled across a link to Radio Lingua which does a One Minute Language series in several popular languages. If you are going to be visiting more than one country on a European trip, this would be a great way to learn the basics of a language before or during your trip. The One Minute Language series teaches you greetings and frequently used phrases to give you the basics of the language needed for visiting another country.  You can download each lesson individually for free or download all ten from the iTunes store for $7.99. You can also purchases courses to learn even more. Definitely check them out if you are interested in learning a few basic greetings and phrases in another language.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Upcoming Travel

We have a lot of travel coming up. I am so excited about the places and people we are visiting, the sites we will see and the food I will eat! Some of this information is top secret for the moment. Will let you in our secrets as they unfold. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Seattle, Washington

Here is a look at our trip to Seattle last fall told by a few pictures. 

Top Pot Doughnuts: A must when in the area. I am a huge Krispy Kreme fan and am still on the fence as to which doughnut  I prefer. I guess I will just have to go back to do more "research!"

Freemont Troll: It was a lot of fun to find this big guy. Everyone takes turns taking pictures with the troll. Depending on what time of day you go, you will probably find someone there to snap a photo of you. We were able to find a rock to (re) take photos on our own (the girl whom offered to take ours didn't actually press the button hard enough to capture a picture). While you are in the area- go get some chocolate from the Theo Factory (the tour is amazing and I was SO excited to see their chocolate at local grocery stores here in SoCal)! 

Gas Works Park: This is a nice green space for walking, running, picnicing, etc. You can see the Seattle skyline from here, so get your cameras ready!

The Space Needle: You can not go to Seattle and not take a photo of The Space Needle. I think it's a rule or something. I believe this particular shot was taken near The Museum of History and Industry (definitely worth a visit!) and The Center for Wooden Boats (we did not visit this, but a friend of ours volunteers there and loves it). 
The Athenian is over a century old! It is located in Pike's Place Market and is known for it's brief cameo in Sleepless in Seattle. I love that they have labeled the spots where Tom Hanks and Rob Reiner sat during the scene filmed here.  I have officially sat in the same spot as Tom Hanks...decades later, but still! If you are big Starbucks fan, be sure to check out the first store which is close by. 

It was pretty cloudy during our short stay in Seattle, but I did finally get to see Mount Rainier as we flew home! Spectacular! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs via photos.

 View from the backyard of the home we stayed in while in Palm Springs this past January.  What a beautiful view!
 Sunset in Palm Springs. 
 Sunrise in Palm Springs (seen from the home we stayed in during this trip). 
 Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree National Park. 
 Close up of a Joshua Tree. 
 The next several photos are of the rocks other scenery in the park. 

The Marilyn statue!

Aliva's El Ranchito, San Clemente, CA

Aliva's El Ranchito has several locations around coastal southern California. I have only been to the San Clemente location on Del Mar. It can get busy in the evening, so I would suggest getting there early. If seating is available you can sit at the bar while you wait for a table.  However, there is not much room to stand around the bar and enjoy one of their many margaritas while you wait. There is a nice patio outback if you wish to dine outside.  You may need to wait longer for your table, but if you have the time it's a nice play to relax. They have plenty of heat lamps if it's a chilly evening, so don't be afraid to sit outside even if it's cold.

El Ranchito has some tasty chips and salsa, a good happy hour, and huge meal portions. The last time I ate here I had a burrito which was HUGE.  If you like margaritas be sure to try one or two of their many varieties!

 My huge steak burrito. It was bigger than my face!
Sam's quesadilla. 

Rocco's Restaurant, San Clemente, CA

Finally made it to Rocco's Restaurant earlier this week. The restaurant serves Latin and European cuisine.  Do not mistake La Rocco's Pizzeria (This may be a great place, but I have not eaten there so I can not vouch for it) for Rocco's Restaurant which is just a few blocks down the street. Please, please, please go if you are in the area. The ambiance was cozy and inviting and the food was fantastic. There was also a man playing the guitar for most of our meal.

We were served little bites of cornbread with aioli.  This was a sophisticated version of corn dog breading (without the hot dog) and the aioli added a nice flavor.

Next, we had the tuna empanadas. They were served with a side of lettuce with balsamic dressing as well as bit of what we think was pesto for dipping. The empanadas were tasty, though think there could have been more filling in them. This would be a great appetizer to split with a small group.

Sam and split the pesto linguine which was one of the specials. The pesto was very creamy and flavorful. The shrimp were cooked perfectly and were a nice addition to the pasta, cheese and pesto. The portions are large enough to split especially if you get an appetizer to share first. Be aware that there is a $2 charge for splitting entrees (this is clearly noted on the menu). I'd rather pay the $2 than have to take half my meal home and have it not taste as good the next day.

I enjoyed a glass of Hob Nob Pinot Noir from France. It was $9/glass which is a little on the higher end for this area. There was a pretty good selection of wine, but not much of a beer selection for those of you prefer your alcohol in the hoppy variety.

Our friend whom dined with us had one of the seafood pastas with a red sauce. I enjoyed a few bites of his meal, but enjoyed mine much more. I thought the red sauce was a little bland for my taste.  The scallop that I tried was very tender.

We finished the meal with a chocolate tiramisu.  I normally don't care for this Italian dessert as I don't care for coffee.  I easily ate half of this while Sam was trying to fight me off with his spoon. The desserts are not listed on the menu, so be sure to ask your server for the days selection of tasty treats.

 Complimentary cornbread 

 My portion of one of the specials: pesto linguine. So creamy!

Chocolate Tiramisu