Friday, October 31, 2014

Pintxo Pote: Spanish for “my culinary dream come true”

2 Euros
1 glass of wine
1 pintxo (Basque tapas)

Yes. You read that right. Every Thursday night, a collection of local bars in San Sebastian take part in “Pintxo Pote”, a promotion where they offer a glass of wine and a tapa(s?) of your choice for 2 measly Euros. Delicious pours of local Rioja or crisp Rosé. Delectable small plates of patatas bravas or paella or saucy meatballs or tortilla española or crab crostinis or croquettes or jamon y queso. Bands playing in the street. Outdoor tables lining the sidewalks. Locals meandering from bar to bar until the wee hours. Leave the house with 10 bucks in your pocket - come home full and drunk. And that’s exactly what we did.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Road Triiiip

An unexpected view from a surprise hostel balcony.
A to-die-for underground beer cellar.
Bottomless bottles of rosé at an old school Italian restaurant run by an even older school DJ.
Giant black bulls popping up in the middle of nowhere.
Bare bums at an ancient cathedral.
Wine, wine and more wine.
Home cooked meals.
City sign acrobatics.
Empty bodegas.

The road trip with our favorite Irishfolk has come to a close, in beautiful San Sebastian! For pics of the trip, click HERE. I'll be over here eating copious amounts of tapas.

Just your everyday Spanish domestic goddess... her village, hanging her family's clothes out on the line, while everybody else takes a siesta.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rioja, Spain

Ah, Rioja. Rolling hills, sunkissed vineyards, some of the world’s best wines since way back in Roman times. And home to more “cerrado” signs than you can shake a stick at.

Blame the winter season. Blame siestas. We couldn’t do any wine tasting here to save our lives. We strolled the picturesque little towns with their cobblestone streets and quaint plazas and stunning churches and adorable bodegas. Closed closed closed. Not another soul in sight. It was like the zombie apocalypse of wine tasting.

Hello? Anybody there?
Knock knock! Yoo-hoooo?

We eventually made our way to an area of condensed wineries that were reputed to be open from 4-7pm. There we were met with a mix of “by appointment only”, “highly overpriced”, and “remarkably rude”. And one guy who nearly drowned us in enthusiastic pours of cold, terrible red wine from a label-free bottle. Finally, we stepped in to Gómez Cruzado and were greeted by a friendly knowledgeable guy and a delicious sample of wines. Just minutes before the town came to a close, along with our time in Rioja.

At least the view from our airbnb was stunning.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Montserrat, Spain

The best kinds of accidents happen when you decide to save money by foregoing GPS in your rental car.

We didn’t know much about Montserrat. We’d gathered that it was a popular daytrip from Barcelona. That it involved some mountains. And, later, that it was on our way to wine country. So we figured, hey why not.

We made a few navigation errors on the way there, resulting in an approach from the unpopular backside of Montserrat. Pulling into a small dirt lot on the side of the road, we learned that the quickest ascent from where we stood was via a cable car to the top of the mountain. Score. The fact that we were the only people there, and that the cable car looked like it was from another century, only alarmed us slightly.

Imagine our surprise when we made it (alive!) to the top, and discovered one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen. Santa Maria de Monserrat, a thousand-some year old monastery, along with a collection of hiking trails and viewpoints and funiculars connecting the jagged peaks up in the clouds. A picturesque plaza, a quaint hotel, a smattering of cafes and gourmet markets, and a train station for Pete's sake. A stop which I had been completely neutral about, I was now SO glad we hadn’t passed it up.

For more Monserrat photos, click HERE.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Barcelona, Spain

Reece and I have spent many a year contemplating the virtues of Los Angeles versus San Francisco.

We had SO much fun living in SF, that I swore at the time I would never go back LA. An endless array of things to do, friendly people, amazing food, everything accessible by public transportation or cab or foot. Festivals upon parties upon street fairs. Flamboyant open-mindedness.

But you can’t beat the weather in LA. Riding your bike along the beach, wearing tank tops and flip flops, whiling away your afternoons at sunny outdoor bars and cafes. It doesn't get much more perfectly chill than that.

Enter Barcelona. It’s like they took the best things about LA and SF, rolled them into one city, and dropped it in Europe. Why live in either US city when you could live in Barcelona?! Despite being repeatedly warned, we were seriously floored by how much we loved it there.

Sadly, I don’t think the feeling was mutual. We got a pretty unfriendly vibe from the locals. And then of course, there was this:

Who cares if our unemployment rate is 25%! Take your tourist dollars elsewhere!!

It’s not as if anybody was unkind to us. It just wasn’t the most welcoming place we’ve ever been. And the Spanish is much less familiar to me than that spoken in Mexico, which posed an additional set of challenges.

Still though, life is good in Barcelona. If we were fluent in the language, we would absolutely consider making it our European home when that time comes. Either way, we hope to spend much more time there.

For photos of our sunny, fun-filled weekend in Barcelona (with our VERY FAVORITE IRISH FOLK!), click HERE.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Foggy ol' London + Wedding Town

The weather was cold.
Everything was outrageously expensive.
Reece's family was a blast.
The crown jewels were stunning.
The view from the London Eye was spectacular.
Bath was incredibly charming.
The Pig was amazing.
And, most importantly, Meghan and Ollie's wedding was PERFECTION.

The food? To die for.
The band? Stop.
The dress? Just kill me now.

Most importantly, I'm so excited to have a new brother in law. As Reece knows all too well, our union joined two families chock full of women. And while Meghan is my 32-day-older (BAM!) sister-from-another-mister, Ollie is the brother (in-law) we've both always wished for.

Congrats to the beautiful couple, and I easily speak for both of us when I say we can't wait for the many years together to come.

For more pics from our time in London and the dream wedding in Bath, click HERE.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Our time in LA was a whirlwind of our favorite friends, family time, Venice sunsets, financial advisor meetings, shopping, planning, un-packing, packing, my grandparents visiting, Malibu seafood, REI, digging through storage, catching up with old coworkers, mom’s cooking, boardwalk beers, nachos, hair appointments, hookah, couch-crashing, pumpkin patch-ing, computer updating, Trader Joes, wine & cheese, my nephew’s classroom, calimoxtos, hanging in my hometown, and losing our Central American tans despite our best efforts to keep them.

It was odd to be home without a home. Living out of a rental car. Having a party to celebrate being back or leaving again or both. We’re a little caught in between two worlds and the whole thing felt kind of like a dream. It was really good to see everyone we love and sort of hit the re-set button. But it also feels good to be back on the road now, doing what I think we do best. It’ll be interesting to see where, when (and if?) we settle again when all of this is done. But for now, traveling feels like home.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

It pays to read the giant bold print.

Our flight home from Honduras was out of San Pedro Sula, recently dubbed “the most dangerous city in the world”. What can I say, our options were limited, the location was convenient and the price couldn’t be beat. Did I mention it was scheduled to depart at 1:10am? Thrilling!

Our safety plan was solid:

1) Don’t step foot in the actual city. We’d bus in from a not-so-nearby town the day of our flight, so as not to spend a minute in anything other than San Pedro Sula’s airport.

2) Don’t travel after dark. This would mean many, many hours sitting in the airport. But that’s better than traipsing around Honduras at night.

3) Don’t leave the terminal. We would check in as early as they’d allow us to, so that a series of metal detectors and armed guards stood between us and whatever danger may lurk outside.

After many hours on a bus, many hours in a food court waiting for the check-in gate open, and many hours standing in a line that lacked any integrity whatsoever (Ahem, sir, I see you “accidentally” stumbling in front of all of us, what happened to waiting your turn! And why in the world don’t they have more than one attendant servicing these hundreds of people?!), imagine what idiots we felt like when we got to the front and realized that tiny line to the side that Reece kept wondering about… was the “Fast Bag Drop". Ohhhhh, right, that’s where we were supposed to go! Guess we should have looked at our boarding passes.

Needless to say, that set the tone for a series of misadventures including a delayed flight (why leave San Pedro Sula at 1am when you can hang out until 2:30am), a missed connection (cause retrieving your luggage, going through customs/immigration, re-checking your luggage and going through security is totally reasonable in a 30 minute layover), and three stops for the price of two (I hear Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta, AND Dallas are lovely this time of year). By the time we arrived in LA, 30 hours after leaving our hotel in Honduras, I wanted to kiss the ground at LAX. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Tela, Honduras

There was something I really liked about Tela. It’s a little grimy. Incredibly run-down. Somewhat sketchy. And not a lot going on. But, as opposed to most of the places we visited in Honduras, Tela felt real. An actual Honduran town filled with actual Honduran people enjoying the beach, families on vacation, locals selling sliced fruit on the street and coconut bread (which, oddly, didn’t taste anything like coconuts). It didn’t strike us as a beachfront built around foreign tourism, with visitors being brought in by the bus (or ferry) load. Reece and I were the only two gringos for miles. And while it was definitely more shabby than chic, I was glad we took the time to visit.

For a tiny album of our few short days in Tela, click HERE.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Utila, Honduras

Utila is one of the three Bay Islands located off of Honduras’ Caribbean coast. Our guidebook described it as a backpacker’s paradise - rife with cheap accommodation, rustic oceanfront bars, world class diving, and an infectious laid back vibe. And it was right. Rooms for $10 a night. Ramshackle bars aplenty. A strong focus on both diving and serious chilling.

What we weren’t prepared for was the relentless heat and insane humidity. The ferocious sandflies. The lack of any real beaches, as it’s purely a diving destination and the waterfront is just a series of docks. And the hangovers. Boy howdy. I guess I can’t blame the book for that one. The night we arrived and were reunited with our Aussie friends, we partook in one of the town’s many “shot challenges”, went to the infamous “beach party”, and stumbled home just before dawn. If I can tell you one thing about the scuba diving crowd, it’s that they really like to party. Within 48 hours we’d moved into an air conditioned room for triple the price, and I will admit to spending many an afternoon hibernating while Reece got his scuba diving certification.

For photos of some of the fun we had in Utila, click HERE.