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Category Archives: Travel

Travel: San Francisco

If there’s one thing San Francisco has a lot of (besides homeless people), it’s restaurants. We seriously had such a hard time narrowing things down, and still have a long list of places to try next time. We were also in town for a family wedding, so we got a few free meals. Never bad. We ate a lot of great food during our trip, and here’s the lineup!

Swan Oyster Depot-

This place is a legend, and the line to get in is a testament to this. There’s only seating along the bar, so be prepared to wait a while. Worth it. Some of the freshest seafood I’ve had, and a great place to start our trip.

Bar Crudo

This might be one of my favorite restaurants ever. Again, crazy fresh seafood, but theirs is served in some unique and amazing ways. Fresh oysters, plates of sashimi, and the best seafood chowder of my life. This is one that will be a San Francisco staple for us. Make reservations.

Plow

A very pretty and very tasty place for brunch. No reservations accepted. Crispy potatoes were ridiculously good.

In-N-Out Burger-

You can’t go to California and not go to In-N-Out. It’s pretty much against the law. Cheeseburger, animal style, makes for one happy girl.

Chez Panisse

Oh Alice Waters, you are my hero. The patron saint of the farm to table movement, this place is absolutely a must for anyone who truly loves food. Although it’s a drive out to Berkeley, it’s worth every moment. Reservations are 100% necessary. We chose to go with the upstairs cafe for lunch, which is a much more affordable option. One day though, we’d love to go back for the full dinner experience.

Katanaya-

This was not originally on our list of places to go, but since we walked to one option and it was closed, and then the next option and it was closed as well, we were hungry enough to try this based on a recommendation from a random guy at a store. He told us that all the Japanese baseball players go here for ramen when they’re in town, which was more than enough to pique our interest. So good! We love ramen (like we found in New York), so we were more than happy to inhale our huge bowls. It pays to be flexible and ask around! Be prepared for a wait.

Marketbar

I knew I wanted to hit up a few shops in the Ferry Building, so on our last morning that’s where we went. After wandering around a bit, we chose Marketbar for brunch, and managed to get a table outside. It was a great last spot to enjoy our last morning, and the shrimp and grits were delicious.

Boccalone

This was our dessert stop after brunch, if you can call salted meats a dessert. We do. Yay pigs!

Incanto

We saved this for our last night with friends. Started by a man who truly loves pigs (he also started Boccalone), this was a really fun and delicious place to be. I had medium rare pork for the first time ever, and it was crazy good. Reservations pretty much necessary.

Humphry Slocombe

On our way to the airport, our friends took us here for a last treat. This a quirky little ice cream place in the Mission district. I got the Secret Breakfast flavor, which was cornflakes and bourbon. YES PLEASE.

There are so many more places that we can’t wait to try, so another trip to San Francisco is definitely on the list for future trips.

Anywhere we should add to our list for next time?

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Splish Splash, I took a bath

Last weekend my husband took me to Hot Springs, AR. I know, so glamorous, right? Not. He needed to see an account and I decided to ride with him and make a weekend out of it.

Apparently the thing to do in Hot Springs is the baths. They have a whole row of bath houses, which are terribly cute.

Before we left I scheduled appointments for the both of us not really knowing what we were getting into. A bath and massage sounds pretty harmless, right? Hahahahahaha

We arrived into town early Friday afternoon and Bryan saw his account leaving me to drink on the patio. He finished up his work with a few hours to spare before our appointments. We decided to use this time to explore because I had a feeling after our baths and massages we’d be too much like putty to consider moving, much less exploring a new city.

Behind bath house row is a brick pathway called a Promenade. I didn’t really read all the signs, but apparently in bath culture you should exercise or something. The end of the walk spits you out at the other side of the bath house row and in front of spring water fountain. Apparently the founders of the town were not really creative when coming up a name for the town. The springs are actually hot. Huh.

We walked back to our hotel along the bath house fronts admiring their beauty. Only two of them are still open and functioning today. One of them is used by the National Park Service. We stepped in and the whole bath house is open for touring. I thought this would be a great time to see what we were getting into.

First we watched an educational video on the whole bathing process circa 1980. Besides the hilariousness of the 80s hairstyles, it was horrific. I was scared and traumatized. Oh how I wish that video was on YouTube for me to share with you. I searched and couldn’t find it, so instead I’m going to share with you the bathing process. Below are photos I took of the Fordyce Bath House which is now the National Park Service museum.

When you walk in you check in like you would any spa appointment, but they send the men and women their own separate ways. Once inside the segregated door you get ushered into a locker room in which you strip down into nothing but a towel wrap. You are assigned an attendant who draws you a bath in a very large soaker tub. The water is spring water that’s been cooled to about 100 degrees. You can get it warmer if you like to burn.


Above is a men’s room. Behind each of the wooden doors is a tub.

The attendent hands you some hot spring water to drink. I hate drinking hot water, but you’ll need it due to the steam and how dehydrated you are about to become. The attendant turns on a whirlpool thing and you soak in your whirlpool steam bath for about 20 minutes. Then they come back and scrub you. Yes, they scrub you like a baby.

My attendant made a joke of it saying, “Sit up, Miss Rachel. I’m going to bath you like a little girl.” Somehow this made it seem more natural. With a loofa mitt the attendant scrubs your back, arms, and legs. Bryan said his attendant only scrubbed his back and then handed the mitt to him to let him do whatever other areas he wanted scrubbed. I guess men aren’t into letting a stranger scrub their naked body. Whatever.

After rinsing off the dead skin you and your attendant dry you off a bit. You can spend a few minutes in the sauna at this point if you choose. Let me recommend that you skip this portion. The bath is steamy enough.

Next you are ushered into the cooling room. The cooling room is a white, all tiled room filled with lounge chairs and signs that warn you this is a quiet zone. Its a marvelous, marvelous place.

You lie on your lounge chair and your attendent hands you some cold water to drink. Then she’ll put a towel soaked in hot water over your shoulders. She’ll also wrap up each of your arms and legs in hot towels. As you lay down, she’ll also put one over your entire body. To finish you off she places a cold wet towel over your face. Now that you are totally mummy-fied you sit and enjoy the quiet for 20 minutes. This was my very favorite part.

After 20 minutes of peace and quiet its time for your needle shower. It’s not as terrible as it sounds. You walk into a small shower with pipes on 3 sides. Holes are cut into the pipes making “needle” streams of hot spring water. Apparently this step is to rinse off all the dried sweat from your steaming. I’d say the needle shower lasted about 5 minutes then your attendent wraps and dries you in a sheet. Yeah, you walk around in a sheet like a Roman.

The final step of the whole bathing ritual is a massage.

The standard is a 20 minute rub down. I upgraded to a 60 minute.

My only complaint about this whole process is the massage, surprisingly. The massage section was not as private and as quiet as I’ve become used to at home. You’re in your own private room, but it’s the equivalent of a dressing room at the Gap only a little larger. And my masseuse wanted to talk the whole time. I prefer to not talk and concentrate on the movements when I get a massage, but that’s just me.

In conclusion, the whole bathing process is the ultimate in lolling. Here’s why:

  •  Someone is responsible for you the whole time, leaving you free to wander in your thoughts. Don’t worry about what you are supposed to do next, they’ll tell you.
  • Whole chunks of time are devoted to just laying there and relaxing
  • People bring you water (if only they’d bring cocktails!)
  • You don’t even have to bath yourself.
  • Comfortable attire (i.e. towels and sheets), when you have to be clothed
  • You can just lay there and people rub on you

Would I recommend getting a bath? Hell yes! I will do it again. Next time I’ll be even more relaxed since I know what’s coming next.

Have you ever had a bath?

Travel: Atlanta

Since Josh and I are gearing up to hit San Francisco soon, I thought it was time to recap our trip to Atlanta. Better later than never, right?

We stayed two nights in the Midtown area, and pretty much just ate our way through the city. My phone kept dying, so I only took a few pictures. Note to self: always bring the camera.

Here are the highlights!

HD1

The best hot dogs ever. The best sides. If we lived here, I think we’d go on an almost weekly basis. My lamb hot dog was SO GOOD. It was our first stop as soon as we hit Atlanta, and was our favorite.

Flip Burger– started by the same guy who created HD1, these were some great burgers. Killer onion rings. The milkshakes looked so good, but I was stuffed, and since Josh can’t have dairy, I knew I couldn’t count on him to finish what I couldn’t. Sigh. Maybe next time.

Top FLR– Our drinks stop our first night. We sat at the bar and had a long talk with the bartender. He handcrafts so many of the ingredients that go into his cocktails, and could not have been nicer. I was being indecisive and let him make me two random drinks. Both were delicious. I love that in a bartender.

Octane Coffee– Our fuel of choice through the trip. We’d both order iced coffee and split a pastry. Perfect.

Waikikie Hawaiian BBQ

Since this is the closest Hawaiian restaurant for us, it is pretty much a requirement for my Hawaiian husband to go there whenever we’re in Atlanta. the food is not exactly what you would call healthy by any means, but it is tasty. Yes, Spam is on the menu, and yes, we definitely ordered some:

Spam Musubi is basically Spam sushi, and while it’s good here, Josh’s homemade version is my favorite. This is the only way I’ve ever had Spam, and I’m really okay with that fact.

Malaya– Malaysian food. If there’s ever a Malaysian place, we go. We haven’t had any since New York, so it was long overdue. The roti and the rendang are legit. Wish they delivered here.

Proof & Provision– Our drink stop the second night.

Lots of potential. Great atmosphere. I liked my drink, Josh not so much. Will definitely go back and try some of the food next time as well.

Hong Kong Harbour– We went here for Dim Sum.

I wouldn’t say it’s the best. Not bad, but not the best. I think the main problem is that the place just isn’t busy enough to keep the food really fresh. Oh well.

We also hit up Ikea for some curtains, and the Atlanta Aquarium, which is SO COOL. I would go back in a heartbeat!

It was so nice to get a few days away without having to spend the money to fly somewhere. We’re going to start researching some more places that are just a 4-5 hour drive from us, because sometimes you just need a little break.

Anyone else have a favorite weekend getaway? Suggestions for San Francisco?

Virginia Vacation Recap

I totally owe ya’ll a vacation recap post! I’m sorry! Prepare yourself for a ridiculously long post to make up for it!

Bryan and I got up super early and flew into the Norfolk area on a Thursday. Bryan’s brother, sister-in-law, and some close friends live there and we slated a day to spend with them, to see where they live, where they work, and just get to see their faces.

We had a great group dinner together and then hung around at our friend’s house. Is there anything better than spending time with close friends? I think not. It makes my heart happy.

Friday we had a great breakfast together before seeing where Bryan’s brother and sister-in-law lived and worked. It’s kind of sad that in two years we hadn’t seen their apartment or pictured their workplaces. After the Norfolk tour we stopped by the Harborfest. I had requested to see some of the water area and Harborfest happened to be going on.

Harborfest, Norfolk, VA

It was amazing! Beautiful boats and handsome sailors everywhere!

Harborfest_Norfolk_VA

After enjoying some Harborfest (it was too huge to see it all and we were on a schedule) we parted ways and Bryan and I hit the road to Charlottesville.

My cousin had lived in Charlottesville last year and she gave us some great tips on where to eat and what to do, and most importantly, the best winearys to visit.

Downtown_mall_Charlottesville_va

I loved Charlottesville. It was my favorite part of the trip, besides seeing friends, of course. It has such a cool vibe about it. Its hard to put into words.

Needless to say we ate some amazing food while we were in town.

Saturday morning Bryan and I got bagels and coffee and walked around UVA’s campus. This wasn’t on the top of my list, but I’ll admit, it was pretty dang awesome.

After we finished our coffee and campus touring we met up with Bryan’s brother and sister-in-law who drove up that morning and drove up to Monticello.

I was most excited about Monticello, and especially the gardens. The house was cool to see, but the grounds were amazing. I’m currently reading A Rich Spot of Earth and am dying to go back and spend some more time in that garden!

In the afternoon we drove out to one of the vineyards my cousin had suggested. Bryan and I had never been to a wine tasting, but our traveling companions are very much into wine. The tasting was nice and all, but the views were amazing. We got a glass of wine and spent some time on the patio soaking it all in.

Sunday we had an amazing breakfast before hitting up our next vineyard. This one came with ruins and a wineary tour! At Barboursville we tasted over 20 wines, toured the facility, and bought a few bottles to bring home. The family home burned many years ago, but the ruins are still there to admire. We took pictures.

This was totally spontaneous. I didn’t know they were doing the same thing behind me.

We parted ways again with our family and Bryan and I took off down Constitution Highway (I can’t make this up) towards Washington, DC.

Bryan had never been to DC and he’s kind of a history buff, so I let him take the reins for this portion of the trip.

One thing we both wanted to do was to see some of the monuments at night. They were beautiful.

Monday we did the total tourist thing: monuments, monuments, and more monuments. It was ridiculously hot and I was melting down. Bryan suggested we rent bikes, which we had seen everywhere. Not much of a biker (or anything that requires physical excursion, I wasn’t too keen on the idea, but I caved and let him try it.

Best idea ever! These bikes were easy to ride and we created our own breeze!

My favorite part of the DC experience was riding the bikes down a footpath along the Potamac towards dusk. It was beautiful, peaceful, and fun to see the locals being active. We ended our bike ride on a boardwalk, drinking beer, and people watching.

Before leaving town Tuesday, we went to Arlington. On the previous family vacation I went to (the required 8th grade Washington DC tour) we hadn’t made it to Arlington so this was new for me too.

As we approached the tomb of the unknown solider it started to rain. It was a moving moment. Bryan also enjoyed Arlington (or Lee’s) house.

After lunch in old Alexandria we headed back towards Norfolk. We had one last group dinner in Norfolk to cap off the great vacation.

Here’s what I recommend if planning to visit some of these areas:
Norfolk: Public House, Harborfest, Omar’s Carriage House
Charlottesville: visit the Downtown mall, Mas tapas, Local, Bodo’s Bagel, Bluegrass. Vineyards: King Family and Barboursville
Washington DC: Founding Farmers, Old Ebbitt, Capital Bike Share

Travel Planning: Summer 2012

Posted on

Bryan and I are in serious talks for a summer vacation. FINALLY! Guess all that daydreaming is starting to pay off.

We’re planning on visiting family in Norfolk, VA for part of the time. While we’re in that area we are also talking about going to DC or perhaps making it a “Virginia is for Lovers” tour of the major cities in Viriginia.

So, lollers, I need you to step up and give us some advise. What would you recommend for Norfolk, Richmond, Charlottesville, Virginia, and/or DC? I am taking recommendations for the following:

– places to stay

– things to see

– places to eat

– regional beer to try or visit

– things we should absolutely avoid

– things we should absolutely without-a-doubt go out of our way to see/do/consume/etc

For your efforts you will be rewarded with a full trip recap.

 

Monday Daydreams

Posted on

It’s Monday. You know how we feel about them. Lately I’ve been going through an ordeal of sorts at work. Combined with a busy personal life, I haven’t had much energy for anything other than sipping on drinks on the patio. Which isn’t bad,  especially at this time of year.

I find my thoughts wandering to dream vacations. While we’re not certain we can or will take a real vacation this year, that hasn’t really stopped me planning one in my mind. Here’s where I’ve been (in my mind):

– Camping

Source: goo.gl via Edward on Pinterest

 

– A train trip along the eastern seaboard. From Norfolk, VA to New York.

Source: pleasenotepaper.blogspot.com via Please Note on Pinterest

– the lake or other body of water

Source: lerobotic.tumblr.com via Sarah on Pinterest

 

– the beach

Where have you been lately? Where are you going?

 

New York, New York

I hope everyone had a great new year! Josh and I had an incredible time on our trip, and, in New York especially, ate some really amazing food. Since the thought of forgetting any of these places for our next trip terrifies me, I figured I should list them all here. If it helps any of  you as well, then so much the better!

In order of our visit:

  • Ino– I’ve heard nothing but good things about this place (apparently the truffled egg toast is unbelievable), but we just stopped by for a snack to get our day going. I had a cappuccino, he had an americano, and we shared the charcuterie plate. So freakin tasty. Some of the best cured meats I’ve ever had.
  • Shanghai Cafe– We’ve both been missing soup dumplings since our visit to Shanghai last January, and they pretty much don’t exist in Nashville. We didn’t get many dishes here, though we definitely could have. I will say, the pork and leek soup dumplings were almost as good as what I remembered, and the bamboo shoots in brown sauce were tasty.
  • Hide-Chan Ramen– If we had this in Nashville, I’m pretty sure I’d weigh about a million pounds. This is ramen like you’ve never had before. To call those cardboard noodles with their seasoning packet ramen is a total insult to the name (and trust me, I have a certain fondness in my heart for those). This was one of the best bowls of noodles that I’ve ever had. You can get the broth in multiple ways (go for the rich way. Go big or go home) and choose your noodle firmness. My mouth is seriously watering just thinking about this stuff. We also got the pork buns (drool) and some sort of octopus dish that was delicious and had a good wasabi kick. HIGHLY recommend this place.
  • Indian Road Cafe– We stayed with my friend Whitney in the far northern end of Manhattan, and this is her favorite local spot. It’s open for all meals, has an impressive beer and other booze menu, great vegetarian and vegan options, and uses local farmers and butchers. We got breakfast, and it was yummy. This would be my neighborhood place too.
  • Pasha– This was were we celebrated New Year’s, and ate some really authentic Turkish food. I do love lamb. I also drank a lot. It was fun.
  • Banh mi zon– Go here. Order a number 1 sandwich (banh mi). Give thanks for unbelievably delicious food.
  • Panang– Josh spent a good portion of his childhood/teen years in Malaysia, and loves Malaysian food. After eating here, I can see why. My mouth is watering just thinking about their roti canai. They also make in house pineapple vodka. Enough said.
  • Shake Shack– My favorite burger place ever. I have now converted Josh to the cult. The Shack sauce makes it. It doesn’t hurt that they grind their own Angus beef daily. They need to open one here. Preferably yesterday.
  • Momofuku Milk Bar– We stopped here to get some cookies for our flight home, and they were awesome. I keep seeing the recipes floating around online, but people seem to have very mixed results when they try to make them. I might just order a few (cough *dozen* cough cough) instead.

Yeah, we ate a lot.

Can I go back?