Monthly Archives: October 2013

Napa and Sonoma: Part Two

Sunday was the last day of our belated two-year anniversary vacation in San Francisco (you can read about the rest of our trip here, here, here, and here). Originally, we had planned on Sunday being our laid back day to explore whatever we wanted to spend some more time on or just hadn’t gotten to yet, like Golden Gate Park and other parts of the city. However, while having dinner Friday night, we decided to use Sunday as a day to go out to Napa and Sonoma one more time. Like I said before, we had a great time out there on Friday with our tour, but were left wanting more and also a little bummed that we hadn’t been able to go to some of the wineries we had read about online and had requested during our tour reservation process.

You’d think it be an easy decision to go out to the wine country again, but we actually did do a bit of back and forth on this decision over dinner Friday and even again part of Saturday morning. Would we be upset we weren’t able to see other parts of the city? Would the day cost too much? In the end we realized: 1. We didn’t want to leave this vacation wishing we had done something different or spent more time somewhere and we already felt that way about Napa and Sonoma, 2. We had been paying for this trip with our travel budget and would be able to cover the costs of a 24-hour small car rental (last summer, we decided to set aside a little bit each paycheck into our travel budget; it’s been such a great decision, we definitely wouldn’t have been able to take this trip otherwise), 3. We would need to take a cab anyways to the airport on Monday so riding out on Sunday to get the rental car would be a sunk cost (and then we would be able to drive ourselves to the airport instead). So with all of this under consideration, we decided to go ahead and plan on spending Sunday in the wine country.

Saturday afternoon then turned into a planning session; we quickly reserved a car online through Enterprise and then looked up different wineries that we had originally wanted to go to and tried to make tasting reservations wherever we could. It took a bit of juggling between different websites to see who would be open for us at this short of notice, but thankfully a lot of the wineries are pretty casual and will take walk-ins for tastings (at least the ones within our budget do this).

We took a cab out to the airport around 8:30 Sunday morning and picked up our rental without a problem (they even gave us a free upgrade since we were one of the first customers of the day). With that, we got on the road! It was fun driving around the city together and making our way towards the Golden Gate Bridge, which we had a much better view of compared to the foggy drive on Friday morning.  Once we got into Sausalito, we stopped at a Starbucks to get some breakfast before getting into Napa. I have to say that the drive through the wine country has some of the most scenic views you can get on the road.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Driving into Napa

Driving into Napa

Vineyards on all sides

Vineyards on all sides

Our first stop of the day was Frog’s Leap, which was the one winery we had really wanted to go to during this trip. It definitely did not disappoint. We split their garden tasting since their other tours were already booked. This turned out to be the best thing for us. While it is nice to have someone walk you through the different wines you’re trying and the vineyard’s wine making process, we just really enjoyed getting to walk around their grounds and take our time. Their property was so calm and adorable that we could have stayed there all day.

We pulled over to take some pictures before getting to Frog's Leap. Not sure what vineyard these grapes are from!

We pulled over to take some pictures before getting to Frog’s Leap. Not sure what vineyard these grapes are from!

Hooray for grapes

Hooray for grapes

I could totally live on a vineyard

I could totally live on a vineyard

Exploring Napa with Chip

Exploring Napa with Chip

The view from Frog's Leap

The view from Frog’s Leap

Ribbit

Ribbit

Couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day

Couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day

Frog's Leap

Frog’s Leap

Walking around Frog's Leap

Walking around Frog’s Leap

Visiting some chickens on the Frog's Leap property

Visiting some chickens on the Frog’s Leap property

That's one angry eye

That’s one angry eye

Beautiful fall colors

Beautiful fall colors

I love fall and wine

I love fall and wine

We loved the backdrop of the different colored leaves, but no one was around to take our picture. Soooo we strapped my camera to a tree branch and used the timer to take a picture. I'm so bummed this one came out blurry, I think it would have been great!

We loved the backdrop of the different colored leaves, but no one was around to take our picture. Soooo we strapped my camera to a tree branch and used the timer to take a picture. I’m so bummed this one came out blurry, I think it would have been great!

At least this one worked!

At least this one worked!

Frog's Leap

Frog’s Leap

Frog's Leap

Frog’s Leap

Frog's Leap

Frog’s Leap

Frog's Leap

Frog’s Leap

Can I live here?

Can I live here?

A great tasting at Frog's Leap

A great tasting at Frog’s Leap

After Frog’s Leap, we went down the road to Caymus Vineyards. We weren’t too impressed with the staff (they were a little cold when we asked about their tasting options), so while they were talking to a big group that was also in the room, we slipped out and decided to move on.

While at Frog’s Leap, one of the staff had recommended Miner Family Winery, so we went there next since it was also pretty close to where we were. This was another nice, casual tasting which allowed us to sit out on their patio and take in the view of the wine country. There was also a family there with a couple of dogs, so we got to pet them while enjoying our wine and talking about how much Wrigley would have loved Napa. That’s right, we’re those dog people.

The view from Miner Family Winery

The view from Miner Family Winery

Miner Family Winery

Miner Family Winery

After Miner, we went to Gundlach Bundschu out in Sonoma. We had made reservations online for their tasting tour at 2:00 and got there with a few minutes to walk around and take a few pictures out on their property. This was our only tour of the whole trip and we’re really glad we were able to do it, especially at this vineyard. They’re they oldest family-owned winery in California and they had plenty of history to share, like how they illegally brought in Tempranillo grapes back in the day (that was a fun story to hear!).

Gundlach Bundschu

Gundlach Bundschu

Gundlach Bundschu

Gundlach Bundschu

One last picture in front of the Gundlach Bundschu vineyard

One last picture in front of the Gundlach Bundschu vineyard

They have quite the name

They have quite the name

On our tour

On our tour

Gundlach Bundschu

Gundlach Bundschu

We were hoping to go to one more winery after Miner, but by this point in the day most of them were closing. So instead we grabbed a very late lunch before driving back into San Francisco. We then spent the evening having dinner at Coqueta on Fisherman’s Wharf. The tapas were delicious and we enjoyed sharing their seafood paella. Probably my favorite part of our time at Coqueta? Being just tables away from Carlos Santana. That’s right. He was totes at the same restaurant! And yes, I shamefully stared at him occasionally.

Driving back into San Francisco

Driving back into San Francisco

One last view of the Golden Gate Bridge

One last view of the Golden Gate Bridge

Coqueta

Coqueta

Seafood paella

Seafood paella

My wonderful husband and Carlos Santana just behind him

My wonderful husband and Carlos Santana just behind him

Cheers!

Cheers!

We are so thankful for the trip we were able to take to San Francisco!

San Francisco: Part Three

One of the best parts to our trip to San Francisco was the beautiful weather. While the mornings and evenings were pretty chilly, the days were clear and sunny. With this great weather, we had been really excited for our Saturday in the city and spending the morning walking Fisherman’s Wharf and experiencing the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building.

We took the bus once more to get to Fisherman’s Wharf early on Saturday and couldn’t believe the size of the farmers market there. There were different stores and small stands inside the Ferry Building with the rest of the local stands outside and behind the building.

Empanadas in the Ferry Building

Empanadas in the Ferry Building

Breakfast

Breakfast

The Ferry Building

The Ferry Building

Part of the city skyline

Part of the city skyline

Fresh flowers

Fresh flowers

Farmer's Market

Farmer’s Market

Checking out a meat stand at the farmer's market...

Checking out a meat stand at the farmer’s market…

... where we got some deep fried mac n cheese

… where we got some deep fried mac n cheese

Maybe not the best decision at 10am, but it was delicious

Maybe not the best decision at 10am, but it was delicious

Cellist playing at the farmer's market

Cellist playing at the farmer’s market

Lovely candles at the Ferry Building

Lovely candles at the Ferry Building

Inside the Ferry Building

Inside the Ferry Building

We had originally planned on going to Alcatraz on Saturday after the farmer’s market. Unfortunately, we had to cancel this part of our trip… with the government shutdown, all national parks were closed which included Alcatraz. Sad day. We got some great views of it from the city but would have loved to walk around the island and see the old facility. Guess that means we’ll have to go back to San Francisco another time, right?

Two thumbs down

Two thumbs down

About as close as we got to seeing Alcatraz

About as close as we got to seeing Alcatraz

Enjoying the beautiful day

Enjoying the beautiful day

Since missing out on Alcatraz meant we had a few hours cleared from our Saturday, we decided to check out the Exploratorium. This was one of the parts of the trip that Chip had been most excited about after reading some information online. We had already had a preview of the building Thursday night when we spent some time in the gift shop. Not going to lie, the actual Exploratorium was almost overwhelming. It’s a really cool museum with hands-on exhibits and all are very kid friendly. It was so fun to just watch the kids running around everywhere and trying out the different stations while trying to squeeze ourselves in for a turn at the different exhibits. Confession: Chip and I weren’t smart enough for some of the electricity exercises. Too much science for us!

Exploratorium

Exploratorium

Exploratorium

Exploratorium

Exploratorium

Exploratorium

There was one mirror exhibit that showed the reflection upside down, which was a popular station. We tried to get a picture of this, but here’s another place where I just wasn’t quite smart enough. I feel like no matter how I angled our camera, all I could catch was the ceiling. #fifthgradesciencefail

Trying to get our picture

Trying to get our picture

Pretty sure Chip was asking me why I was having such a hard time taking this picture

Pretty sure Chip was asking me why I was having such a hard time taking this picture

After spending a couple of hours at the Exploratorium, we kept walking along until we got to Pier 39. When we had walked along Fisherman’s Wharf on Thursday night, we really hadn’t been able to see much here (although we did hear sea lions off in the distance…), so we were excited to check it out when all of the shops were open. There was so much more activity than we were expecting and we had a lot of fun just walking around this area and checking everything out (including a few minutes of a magic show outside a few restaurants). It may sound weird, but our favorite highlight of Pier 39 were the sea lions… they were just so funny to watch!

Pier 39

Pier 39

View of Alcatraz from Pier 39

View of Alcatraz from Pier 39

Until next time, Alcatraz

Until next time, Alcatraz

Pier 39

Pier 39

So very thankful for this guy

So very thankful for this guy

Sea lions at Pier 39

Sea lions at Pier 39

So many sea lions

So many sea lions

Pier 39 with the sea lions

Pier 39 with the sea lions

This one was our favorite

This one was our favorite

For dinner, we had reservations at La Mar Cebicheria Peruana. There’s no way we would have gotten in without reservations, it was so crowded when we first got there around 6:00 that evening. I was really excited about this meal and had a pisco sour while Chip enjoyed some wine. We split a plate of cebiche for our appetizer and then had a great meal to end our Saturday.

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana

One of the best pisco sours I've had since studying abroad in Chile

One of the best pisco sours I’ve had since studying abroad in Chile

I knew it was going to be good when I saw the Peruvian word for corn (choclo) in the menu

I knew it was going to be good when I saw the Peruvian word for corn (choclo) in the menu

Napa and Sonoma: Part One

When Chip and I first talked about planning a trip to San Francisco, we knew we couldn’t be in northern California without going to Napa or Sonoma. While researching day trips to the wine country (staying the night just looked way too expensive with this short of notice), we thought the most cost effective route would be to go with a tour company that could pick us up in San Francisco and take us to a few different wineries throughout the day, and then bring us back to the city in the evening.

Of course, I turned to Trip Advisor for this part of our trip. After reading about half a dozen different companies, we decided to go with Green Hills Wine Tours. We liked that this company took small groups on their tours and that you could include notes in the online reservation service about what kinds of wines we like most so the company can then pick wineries accordingly.

Having visited some wineries here in Texas, we knew we had to get the day started with a hearty breakfast. We wanted to go back to Mama’s and left our hotel around 8:00 (we took the bus this time). We thought Mama’s wouldn’t be as crowded that early in the morning, but we were wrong… the line was even longer when we showed up around 8:20 on Friday morning compared to the line the previous day. We were worried that we wouldn’t get inside, seated, and finish breakfast before our pick up time of 9:30, so we walked down a few blocks to Caffe Roma where we ended up having a great meal. We finished in plenty of time to walk back down to Mama’s where our guide and company owner Aloys was able to pick us up. We then went to pick up two other people that would be joining us for the day before making our way out of the city.

One thing I liked about Green Hills is that they stop for a scenic view after driving out of the city and over the Golden Gate Bridge. This allowed us to get a few pictures with that famous landmark as our backdrop. The bridge was so much bigger than we had expected in both length and height!

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Little bit of fog over the San Francisco skyline

Little bit of fog over the San Francisco skyline

San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay

Our selfie attempt.... can't really see the bridge

Our selfie attempt…. can’t really see the bridge

That's better

That’s better

Fun fact: did you know the Golden Gate Bridge can withstand winds of more than 100mph and can sway up to 27 feet? Yikes.

After checking out the Golden Gate Bridge for about 15 minutes, we were pretty cold so we got back in the car and drove up into the wine country. Our guide asked us all some more questions during the drive about our wine preferences and then suggested a few wineries we could go to. I was a little surprised how flexible our day was proving to be, I had assumed that with the popularity of Napa and Sonoma that we would have had to make reservations for the entire day. But it turns out that when he brings smaller groups, Aloys can get into certain places where he has good relationships, so that was a nice perk during the day.

Our first stop was Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma. It was a great place to start and we also really liked that they do free tastings. Jacuzzi is nice and small and known for their white wines, although we really liked their Pinot Noir.

Ready for our first winery of the day

Ready for our first winery of the day

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

Jacuzzi also had an olive oil bar complete with homemade dog treats. We got one for Wrigs and he's already devoured it.

Jacuzzi also had an olive oil bar complete with homemade dog treats. We got one for Wrigs and he’s already devoured it.

After Jacuzzi, we drove to Napa where we would spend the rest of the day. Our next stop was Stag’s Leap. They had really good red wine, but it was all way out of our price range. Chip and I split our tasting and then walked around the grounds for a bit since we wouldn’t be making any purchases there.

Stag's Leap

Stag’s Leap

Wine tasting at Stag's Leap

Wine tasting at Stag’s Leap

Not exactly in our price range...

Not exactly in our price range…

He sure looks classy

He sure looks classy

Stag's Leap

Stag’s Leap

Stag's Leap

Stag’s Leap

Our third winery was our favorite of the day: Jessup Cellars. They are a boutique winery and we had a great experience there. It’s one of our guide’s favorite wineries and he has a great relationship with their staff, so we were able to have a guided tasting with one of the staff members. They also had a yummy snacks plate for us to munch on while trying out the different wines (who doesn’t love some wine and cheese?).

A delightful snack tray

A delightful snack tray

We liked their wine so much that I quickly signed us up for their wine club while Chip was in the restroom. When he came back and asked me why I looked so excited, I replied with the following face:

Cute, right? I’m sure he’ll thank me when we get our discounted case of wine in December ;)

By the time we left Jessup, we were more than ready for lunch. We all went to Don Giovanni for some great pizza and pasta, which was the perfect meal to balance out the wine from the first part of the day.

After lunch, we went to our last vineyard of the day, Trinitas Cellars, which is part of a resort in Napa. This one was our least favorite winery we went to. It was really small and after the great wine at Jessup, we just didn’t like their selection as much. It also just felt weird to be touring a small part of a resort compared to the beautiful grounds we had seen throughout the day. On the plus side, we found a really cute coffee table book there about winery dogs.

Trinitas Cellars

Trinitas Cellars

A great coffee table book, don't you think?

A great coffee table book, don’t you think?

After Trinitas, we drove back into San Francisco and our guide was able to drop us off at Panta Rei where we had made some reservations for dinner. Their food was good, although I felt we had a better meal at Cotogna. While we were having dinner and talking about how great the day had been, part of us felt that we hadn’t fully experienced Napa and Sonoma. We knew that by going with a tour company we wouldn’t have 100% freedom in choosing which vineyards to go to and how much time we would get at each place, but we thought that the structure would be worth it compared to the costs of renting a car and trying to get around by ourselves. But the more we talked about it over dinner, the more we began to consider going back out for a second time on Sunday just the two of us. There were some wineries we had read about online that we were really interested in going to and we were bummed we hadn’t been able to check them out. In the end, we decided to go ahead and rent a car for the day on Sunday; after all, we didn’t want to leave California wishing we had experienced more of the wine country.

More posts to come on our day in the city on Saturday and our trip back out to Napa on Sunday!

San Francisco: Part Two

Thursday was our first full day in San Francisco. We had planned on having Thursday be our big exploring/walking day and wanted to check out the Financial District, Chinatown, the cable car museum, Russian Hill, and Nob Hill. Probably a little too ambitious in hindsight… this is usually my problem with a lot of things I plan.

We got Thursday started with breakfast at Mama’s after some reviews on Trip Advisor (of course) and some recommendations from our friends Jeff and Megan who went to San Francisco about a year ago. Mama’s was only about a mile and a half away from our hotel, so we thought it would be a lot of fun to walk to breakfast and enjoy the crisp weather, which was such a nice break from the Texas heat. We were so wrong about this being a relaxing walk. Like really really really wrong. It was just about a straight hike to breakfast thanks to those famous San Francisco hills; I’m pretty sure my Google maps app took us on the route that would work our glutes the most. After walking up a bunch of streets and climbing flights of stairs through a park, we eventually got to Mama’s to find a nice long line waiting outside.

Our view of the city while making our way to breakfast

Our view of the city while making our way to breakfast

Line for breakfast

Line for breakfast

Mama's

Mama’s

Put my new duck boots to good use

Put my new duck boots to good use

The view from Mama's

The view from Mama’s

The street to Mama's

The street to Mama’s

Lots of rave reviews

Lots of rave reviews

Waiting outside for breakfast

Waiting outside for breakfast

Thankfully we only had to wait about 25 minutes or so before we finally got in to order some food. In the meantime, we had shed our sweater layers and eventually cooled back down following our morning cardio hike. Once we got inside the restaurant, I ordered the Dungeness Crab Benedict and Chip got a scrambled egg plate. And since this was vacation, we ordered some French Toast to split, too. The food was good, especially that French Toast which turned out to be our favorite part. I liked my Crab Benedict plate, but to be totally honest, I preferred the one I had in Maine at our awesome bed and breakfast.

Just call us the plaid family

Just call us the plaid family

After breakfast, we walked over to Chinatown to take in the sights and sounds. It was pretty crazy and there were lots of tourists around!

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

We then walked to the cable car museum, which was a lot smaller than I had expected, but it was still pretty cool to see the giant cable pulleys that actually operate the cars. Unfortunately, I was starting to feel pretty crummy at this point in the day; I think we had just done too much that morning while I was still getting over that pesky cold, so we went through the museum pretty quickly before leaving to catch a cable car. I had read that the Powell-Hyde cable car had the best views, so we waited around a few blocks away from the museum until that car came by. We paid our $12 and hopped on! The conductor on the cable car saw us with our camera and gave us a great spot on the edge of the car so we could lean out and see the views of the streets as we drove by and even helped point out Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.

The cable car pulleys at the museum

The cable car pulleys at the museum

View from the beginning of the ride

View from the beginning of the ride

View from the cable car

View from the cable car

Driving past Lombard Street

Driving past Lombard Street

If you look closely, you can see Alcatraz in the background

If you look closely, you can see Alcatraz in the background

The cable car took us to Fisherman’s Wharf so we spent some time walking around until I had to call it quits for the afternoon. I was pretty frustrated that I wasn’t feeling well and that we had to put a pause on our sightseeing, but I felt drained and clammy and knew some rest was needed. We took a quick cab ride to the hotel where I quickly passed out for three hours. If you know me well, you know I don’t really take naps very often at all and anything over 45 minutes is super long for me. So a three hour deep-sleep nap is pretty crazy. But I thankfully felt so much better when I woke up later in the afternoon!

We took a bus to North Beach where we would be having dinner at Cotogna. Since we didn’t get lunch earlier in the day because of my epic snoozefest, we were hungry and actually showed up at Cotogna a little before our 5:00 reservations and got started on a great dinner there. Cotogna was one of my favorite restaurants during our trip; I loved their take on rustic Italian food and also appreciated their very friendly staff who answered all of our questions about the menu written predominantly in Italian. Also, as a bit of a nerd, I liked how they encouraged people to Instagram pictures of their food with a certain hashtag. Way to know your audience, Cotogna.

Chip and I had a fancy ravioli appetizer and then split a delicious buffalo mozzerella margherita pizza. We finished dinner with a great gelato and then walked back over to Fisherman’s Wharf to explore a bit. We stopped by the Exploratorium gift shop and eventually walked down to Ghiradelli Square where we had some yummy after dinner drinks before calling it a day.

Cotogna

Cotogna

Can't have a great Italian dinner without some wine

Can’t have a great Italian dinner without some wine

Dinner time

Dinner time

We love pizza

We love pizza

Celebrating our two (and a half) year anniversary

Celebrating our two (and a half) year anniversary

Our view from Fisherman's Wharf

Our view from Fisherman’s Wharf

A cool mirror at the Exploratorium

A cool mirror at the Exploratorium

Exploratorium gift shop

Exploratorium gift shop

Having a childhood flashback to time spent at the Gem and Mineral Show

Having a childhood flashback to time spent at the Gem and Mineral Show

Chip really enjoyed the gift shop

Chip really enjoyed the gift shop

Ghiradelli Square

Ghiradelli Square

Chocolate cocktail and mojito to end the day

Chocolate cocktail and mojito to end the day

Stay tuned for our Friday spent in the wine country!

San Francisco: Part One

Chip and I just got back from a great trip to San Francisco and Napa. If you’re thinking of taking a trip to northern California, here’s my advice: GO. It’s absolutely beautiful and was so much more fun than we had expected. October is definitely an ideal time to go with the perfect weather and changing seasons, so plan a trip now!

On our two year anniversary this past May, Chip and I spent time talking at dinner about how much fun it would be to plan a trip to San Francisco. Neither of us had ever been to this city but had always heard great things about it from family and friends. So after dinner that day, we went to Barnes & Noble and bought a couple of travel books to get us started. We were hoping to take this belated two year anniversary trip earlier in the summer, but things got busy and planning the trip kept getting put off… my bad. Knowing that Chip’s vacation black-out period would be starting in November, we were determined to make this trip happen by October so we wouldn’t have to wait until the new year. I had already done most of our research earlier in the summer thanks to our Fodor’s book but had yet to set official dates for this trip or find flights and hotel for us. So after spending a Saturday doing some research online last month, we finally had our trip booked. We had been saving some American Airlines giftcards my parents got us for our birthdays a couple of years ago and thought this trip was the perfect time to use them (thanks again, mom and dad!!). We found some great prices for flights leaving out of Austin, and considering how much cheaper these flights were over the San Antonio options, we decided that the drive up to Austin as well as the long-term airport parking costs would definitely be worth it. Finding our hotel was a lot trickier. Our two biggest obstacles were: 1-finding a hotel for the consecutive days that we would be in town and 2-finding one that wasn’t ridiculously priced (there are some really cute hotels in San Francisco, but whoa, were their prices painful to look at). After looking through the Fodor’s book and reading reviews on Trip Advisor, we decided to go with the Coventry Motor Inn on Lombard Street. It isn’t a fancy hotel and is a little outdated, but it really can’t be beat on price and location.

Planning our trip

Planning our trip

We left for San Francisco last Wednesday. We finished our packing in the morning, dropped Wrigley off at Lucy’s Doggy Daycare and then drove up to Austin with enough time to grab lunch before our 2:00 flight. We got into San Francisco around 6:00 that evening and took a Super Shuttle to our hotel.

We decided to take it easy Wednesday night and walked to Tacolicious for dinner after seeing some reviews on Trip Advisor. This place was way better than we had been expecting. We got there at just the right time and were seated right away while groups after us had to wait out in the San Francisco cold for a table. The food was amazing and probably one of the best meals we had while in the city. We started with some fried plantains (I can never resist those) and a great chicken tortilla soup. We then split a few small tacos that Chip still can’t stop talking about. If you go to Tacolicious, be sure to try their carnitas taco. It will change your life. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures from our dinner there; for one reason it was extremely dark in the restaurant and I didn’t want to be “that tourist” with the bright flash going off and for another reason, I was fighting a cold and just didn’t feel that great, so I let myself be lazy on documenting our first meal in San Francisco. Might not be the best excuses, but we really did have a great time at dinner Wednesday night.

More to come on our time in San Francisco!

Maine: Part Two

Tuesday was the last day of our vacation on the east coast. We started the day with another amazing breakfast of Eggs Benedict over lobster at the Inn on Carleton. It was so good that it was easily one of my favorite meals of the entire trip. I’m pretty sure I would have stayed an extra day in Portland just to have breakfast at the Inn on Carleton one more time.

Eggs Benedict over lobster

Eggs Benedict over lobster

After breakfast, we finished packing up our things, signed the inn’s guest book and loaded up the car for our eventual trip back to Boston (our flights to get back home would leave from Boston on Wednesday morning). The first stop on our drive was the outlets in Freeport. We quickly checked out a few small gift shops before going to the real destination of our Freeport stop: the L.L. Bean outlet. This outlet was so big that it was actually divided into different stores: one for the actual traditional store, one that was for hunting, and one that was for their home furnishings. It was awesome. My big hope for the day was to get myself a pair of duck boots. Yes, I know they’re not really needed for winters in San Antonio but that doesn’t matter to me. I’ve been pinning different duck boots for months and it was time I had a pair for myself.

Turns out this was harder than I anticipated. After eagerly getting to the women’s shoe section and eye-ing the tan and blue pair I had my heart set on, I was told the smallest women’s size was a 6 and that these shoes tend to run big, so it’s recommended you get a good size and a half smaller than your usual size. News flash: I typically wear a size 5.5. I was still determined to at least try a pair on and after being given a 6 I realized they were indeed far too big… like I would need to wear four or five pairs of thick wool socks to try to get my toe to touch the end of the shoe. As pathetic as it is, I’m proud of myself for not pitching a fit and blaming the universe for this unfairness but instead walked with my head held high to the children’s shoe department. They didn’t have the colors I was looking for, but I still got a pair that I really like and can’t wait to wear (will definitely be packing them for our upcoming San Francisco trip!). Fun fact: the pair I bought is a size 3 in kids. #shortpeopleproblems

Ready to buy some duck boots

Ready to buy some duck boots

Before I realized I wouldn't be getting that tan/blue pair

Before I realized I wouldn’t be getting that tan/blue pair

Bumped to the kids section

Bumped to the kids section

Animal exhibit in the store

Animal exhibit in the store

We bought a few more things at L.L. Bean, including some awesome blueberry jelly that Chip has been eating like a champ ever since we got back. We then went to the L.L. Bean home store for a bit as well as the JCrew outlet before grabbing some lunch to wrap up our time in Freeport.

The rest of the afternoon was spent slowly getting back to Boston while driving through some super cute towns. The best part was when we went to Kennebunkport and spent some time walking along the coast. The wind was strong and the ocean water was chilly. And it was all great.

Enjoying the view in Kennebunkport

Enjoying the view in Kennebunkport

My parents really liked this town

My parents really liked this town

Saint Ann's Church

Saint Ann’s Church

I love Maine's rocky coast

I love Maine’s rocky coast

My mom was the first one to brave the cold water

My mom was the first one to brave the cold water

My parents are pretty funny

My parents are pretty funny

Love this picture of my mom and dad

Love this picture of my mom and dad

Love this guy

Love this guy

Mom taking in the view

Mom taking in the view

Another one of my favorites

Another one of my favorites

We found a crab!

We found a crab!

We also found a few sand dollars

We also found a few sand dollars

Dog paw prints make me happy

Dog paw prints make me happy

After our last stop in Kennebunkport, we finished the drive to Boston and eventually got to our hotel near the airport. Why eventually? That’s because my dad kept missing the exit for our hotel and we had to do some laps on the highway. This meant we got to see Fenway a few more times, but it also meant that we were all pretty hungry and ready for dinner by the time we got to the hotel. We quickly dropped off our bags and then back in the car to head to the North End for one last meal. We called Neptune Oyster to see if we would have better luck this time, but once again they had a super long wait. And like I just mentioned, we were already hungry. A few minutes on TripAdvisor later, I had made us some quick reservations at Trattoria di Monica. This place was pretty crowded when we got there and we realized why we were seated later than our reservation time: the place is tiny. Like the guy sitting behind me would lean back in his seat and his hoodie would be on my back. Not my ideal seating arrangement, but it started to empty out a little bit by the time we ordered our appetizers so thankfully my random moments of claustrophobia didn’t kick in. The food was definitely worth the wait and our meal there was a great way to end our trip.

Boston skyline from our hotel

Boston skyline from our hotel

With my mom before dinner

With my mom before dinner

Dinner at Trattoria di Monica

Dinner at Trattoria di Monica

Yum

Yum

One last stop at Mike's Pastry

One last stop at Mike’s Pastry

We all flew out Wednesday morning and I have to admit, it took me a couple of days to be content with “regular” food. After eating so many declisious meals in Boston and Maine, I was a little disappointed with our dinner options here. Thankfully I’ve gotten over this (one bowl of queso was really all I needed), but if anyone wants to fly me out to the North End for a special dinner, you are more than welcome to!

And mom, thanks for planning such a great trip!