‘travels’ Category

  1. Montréal, QC

    May 19, 2017 by Angie

    Our sixth anniversary trip last month was to Montréal, QC. I read and heard it’s best to visit Montréal in May through October. I didn’t really believe the haters. After visiting in April, I would agree with that advice. That being said, we had a great time and there was plenty to do even though a lot of stuff is closed until May 1 or later.

    On the Border in the airport

    Getting the party started in the airport bar. Bon voyage to us.

    We stayed at the Hotel InterContinental Montréal, which is downtown. The ride from the airport was not bad and they charge a flat rate to that part of town. They let us check in early and offered free late checkout at 2:00 pm.

    We immediately went to a vegetarian restaurant called Lola Rosa. They have three locations. They gave us so much food.

    Robbie, wine, and nachos

    Robbie, wine, beer, and nachos

    NACHOS at Lola Rosa

    Nachos!

    lasagna at Lola Rosa

    Lasagna

    Veggie burger at Lola Rosa

    Robbie got an elaborate veggie burger.

    We walked to a wine bar, Pullman. It was very nice inside but Robbie didn’t like his drink and our drinks were expensive. Check out this chandelier made of glasses.

    Pullman chandelier

    Pullman washrooms

    I guessed “F”.

    After that we went to McLean’s Pub to watch hockey thinking everybody would be excited about it but nobody cared at all. No photographic evidence of that stop.

    We took an Uber to a really cool speakeasy, The Coldroom. You have to know what the door looks like because there’s no sign. You ring the bell and somebody comes to let you in. The drinks were great.

    The Coldroom

    Angie's drink at The Coldroom

    We passed by Notre-Dame all lit up on our way back to the hotel.

    Notre Dame at night

    Notre-Dame Basilica at night

    We walked around a little while in the neighborhood near the Notre-Dame Basilica. It was mildly shady and a little more than mildly touristy. The church is really worth seeing, however.

    Notre Dame

    Wow

    The altar at Notre Dame

    The Underground City is not as good as I wanted it to be but better than I expected considering Underground Atlanta is my reference. Our hotel and many (all?) subway stations are connected to it. We used it to get around a little when it was raining and I got delicious bagels from the shop right outside the InterContinental twice (bagel count: 2).

    We had lunch at the Green Panther where I had the falafel sandwich and Robbie got a BBQ tofu sandwich. I neglected to get photos but we totally recommend it.

    I like to see libraries. It was rainy and we ducked into the Grand Bibliotheque, Quebec’s national library and part of BAnQ. It is impressive and seems popular with the locals. Most of the materials are in French but they have some English stuff too.

    BAnQ

    Stories of library stuff!

    The Stranger

    I wish I could read this book in French.

    It was still rainy so we stopped at a locals’ bar, Bistro a JoJo where two Canadians were mean to us! Yes, mean Canadians! One guy said the library is where he would put his wife so he could go to the strip club. A gentleman and a scholar.

    After that we had a round at La Distillerie #1 per my brother’s recommendation. It was before 5:00 on Thursday and still raining so it was pretty quiet. The bartender made Robbie’s favorite Old Fashioned of the whole trip. She gave us free goldfish crackers. We loved this place.

    Le Distillerie

    Le Sainte-Elisabeth is one of the places that really needs to be visited during terrace season. The terrace is huge and in the photos online it’s beautiful. When we went it was closed, the vines were dead, and it was raining and about 50 degrees. I guess we need to go back to Montréal in the summer! No photos of the sad terrace, sorry.

    We visited the absinthe bar in our hotel, Sarah B., twice and ordered the cheese plate both times. It was wonderful enough to warrant coming back, I promise. We also got some really great fries on our second visit. Robbie kept ordering weird drinks I thought tasted awful, but I loved the wine I had the first time and the espresso martini the second time. Even though we went twice I managed to get no photos. You should look at their Yelp photos because it’s for sure the coolest hotel bar I’ve ever seen.

    My favorite meal of the trip was brunch at L’Avenue. I regret not taking photos of our food. We waited outside in the cold for a table so once we were seated it was all business and shoving delicious fruit, a Montréal bagel (bagel count: 3), and a very fancy omelet into my face. I’m against bathroom selfies as a rule, but check out this bathroom. The clock thing is a video. The black lights and the huge mirror were really disorienting.

    L'Avenue

    Disorienting bathroom

    There was a break in the rain so we walked around the Mile End neighborhood and then got an Uber towards McGill University and got dropped off near the entrance to the Parc du Mont Royal.

    mural

    Mural of important, dead socialist, Albert Saint-Martin

    Fairmount Bagel

    We didn’t eat the famous bagels at Fairmount Bagel, but I did eat three (bagel count: three!) Montréal bagels during our trip. Robbie was not a fan at all but I think they’re so much better than New York bagels.

    McGill University

    Aside from speaking very poor French, our big adventure was visiting Parc du Mont-Royal and walking up the “mountain” to the lookout area. The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed Central Park. It’s a beautiful park, even in mid-April. You can take stairs to the top where there is a lookout area and a chalet with restrooms (washrooms, if you’re Canadian) and a gift shop.

    Park du Mont Royal

    lookout

    Robbie

    Robbie at the lookout area

    Montreal

    Montréal

    Angie

    Angie squinting in front of the skyline

    thingie

    I like this thing

    Robgeleen are serious

    Robgeleen!

    The saddest missed photo documentation opportunity was at Dieu du Ciel, a brewery/bar not far from the park. Robbie had their American style IPA, Moralité, and was so in love.

    We had a late lunch at Le Cagibi where Robbie had tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich with pesto and I had veggie nachos. For the count: that’s two nachos and three bagels.

    Le Cagibe

    We spent a long time at a swanky bar, the Sparrow. We sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender. The drinks were fantastic and Robbie won’t stop talking about the fries he ordered. They really were good fries.

    Drinks at the Sparrow

    Dispensing

    We struggled to find things that were open and not too packed, but not totally dead either. We went to Bar Kabinet which is a soviet themed bar attached to Bar Datcha where I understand there is sometimes dancing. It was quiet but nice. We had a round at Apt. 200 which was also quiet but very awesome inside with house plants and couches. We walked a lot looking for stuff to do and then walked a long way back to the hotel. We saw the mural and really cool lights below.

    mural

    cool lights

    lights and a mural

    We didn’t want to leave without having crepes. The next morning we went to Spanel Crepes & Gourmets for buckwheat crepes. They were unique and quite different from regular crepes, but so good!

    crepes!

    buckwheat crepe

    We had late lunch/early dinner at BEVO Bar & Pizzeria. Again, no photos. I’m lame. It was so good and our waiter and the rest of the staff were really nice.

    Our longest wait of the trip was for a spot inside another speakeasy, Cloakroom. It was worth the wait. Cloakroom is a bespoke suit shop and barber shop with a hidden bar. That mirror is on a secret door!

    Cloakroom bar

    They go out of their way to make it a classy experience. They only let 25 people in at a time because it’s so small. They gave us a playing card as a kind of pass, took our coats, and brought us to our seats at the bar. We had an assigned bartender who explained their approach. He asked us what we like in a drink and our favorite flavors and then created something just for each of us. The drinks were perfect. We stayed for another round and those were perfect too!

    drinks at Cloakroom

    Personalized drinks at Cloakroom

    On our last day, we had breakfast at the adorable Olive et Gourmando where we had pain au chocolat and cheese toast with tea and a very pretty soy latte.

    pain au chocolat

    Thank you, Montréal, for the wonderful time and happy anniversary, Robbie. <3


  2. Mount Dora, FL

    November 2, 2016 by Angie

    My parents have been telling us about Mount Dora for a couple of years now. It has a really cute, quaint downtown and it’s very dog friendly. We finally booked a weekend there at Tremain Street Cottages. My parents are right. We did like it, it is extremely dog friendly, and we didn’t have to drive at all while were there. Everything you’d want to see and do and eat and drink is in a concentrated area around downtown.

    Headed towards downtown Mount Dora

    Walking towards downtown from our cottage

    We got into town about lunchtime so we went straight to Mellow Mushroom. It has a pretty, covered patio for eating outside with your dog. Our server brought Sookie water and she was happy there.

    The pizza and drinks were really good. It’s probably the second best Mellow Mushroom we’ve been to (after the one in Brandon, FL) and we’ve been to many.

    Slice of "Robgeleen": spinach, garlic, tomato, and half artichoke hearts on thin crust

    Slice of “Robgeleen”: spinach, garlic, tomato, and half artichoke hearts on thin crust

    Robbie has strange feelings for this pizza.

    Robbie has strange feelings for this pizza.

    After our wonderful pizza and drinks in the shade, we checked in to our dog friendly room, the Nantucket, at the Tremain Street Cottages.

    This bed is too big. I appreciated the handmade quilt and matching pillows.

    Another view of the main room

    Our little kitchen

    Small room in the back with a little couch and a dresser

    One of two patios for guests

    The Wine Den was high on our list of places to visit. They have some beers in bottles and many, many wines. Surprisingly, they allow dogs inside! There were three other dogs inside while we were there. One dog parent gave Sookie a special dog treat. It’s a really cute, although small, shop and bar. It’s worth the visit.

    Sookie is all tongue at the Wine Den

    One Flight Up is another place I did not want to miss. They allow dogs on their balcony which has the best view in town.

    One Flight Up

    The balcony facing Lake Dora

    The balcony overlooking one of the main streets

    The other side

    We had the hummus platter and Pinot Noir. They boast the best pour in town and I think they’re correct on that.

    We stopped by Pisces Rising’s third annual Halloween block party, Mayhem in Mount Dora. Our drinks were meh and it was not much of a party. It was more for families. There were some decent costumes.

    Mayhem in Mount Dora

    There is a band under the lights.

    Robbie required potatoes so we sat on the front patio with Sookie at the Bavarian Haus. We talked with our dog loving server while eating our double order of pomme frites. She brought Sookie water and two slices of cheese. What a lucky dog!

    Cody’s on Fourth was our breakfast place Sunday morning. They have three or four tables in front of the restaurant where dogs are allowed. Robbie had one of the quiches of the day (broccoli and cheddar) and I had an everything bagel, egg, and Swiss cheese sandwich. Both were very good. The quiche was really pricy for the size (over $10) and they only had decaf espresso left (is that a thing?), but the food was so good we’d eat there again.

    We walked down to the Sunday Village Market by Lake Dora. There were only a few booths and we didn’t buy anything. We liked looking at the lake though.

    Robbie and Sookie at Lake Dora

    Robbie and Sookie being aware of alligators and snakes

    Lake Dora

    Lake Dora

    We also learned that a large, well-kept facility called the Mount Dora Lawn Bowling Club exists. Also, lawn bowling exists.

    Mount Dora Lawn Bowling

    It's a thing

    Lawn bowling info

    Dropping knowledge.

    I was craving coffee after the decaf espresso situation at breakfast so I stopped in at the Village Coffee Pot. It was shockingly horrible. They were out of soy milk which is when I should have run away. Then I was told the steaming device was broken. I was handed a $5 undrinkable iced latte. I took two sips and threw it away. I don’t know how it’s possible to make espresso mixed with 2% milk and ice taste like cold dirt, but the Village Coffee Pot does it. I later saw their sign on the street corner read “expresso”…ugh.

    PizzAmoré was our favorite place. Beautiful, outdoor seating with shade. Great service. The garlic knots were huge and so garlicky. The pizza and drinks were very good too.

    Outside at PizzAmore

    A little garden near the outdoor seating

    Sookie at PizzAmore

    Sookie found some shade under the table

    Robbie at PizzAmore

    IPA and wine waiting on pizza

    Sookie was the star of the party on the street side patio outside Las Palmas Cuban Restaurant. Robbie and I enjoyed 2 for 1 drinks and mariquitas while Sookie made best friends with everyone who walked by. A French family was particularly happy to pet her at length. They gave her a little Eiffel Tower to wear on her Halloween collar.

    French Sookie

    French Sookie

    On our way back to our cottage, we ran into a couple from Vero Beach who go to my mom’s church. For a small town, Vero Beach people are everywhere. We left Sookie to rest in her crate with her dinner while went out to sit indoors at two more bars.

    The Lost Parrot is a Key West style bar run by awesome staff and filled with interesting locals. We had a good time there and would go again. After that we sat inside at Pisces Rising at the bar. The drinks were decent. We didn’t eat or interact with anybody so that’s all I have to say about that.

    We finished up our stay with breakfast at the Highland Street Cafe. It’s a really homey place decorated with kitschy Scottie dog everything. We both got omelets, but I made the correct choice of hash browns over home fries. Man, those hash browns were great. The staff were very sweet. There was nowhere for Sookie to sit so she had to rest in her crate at the cottage, but 10/10 anyway.


  3. St. Augustine, FL

    May 1, 2016 by Angie

    St. Augustine is one of our favorite places to visit. We booked a two night trip for spring break this year. I got the flu. I figured I could have the flu at home and waste our B&B deposit or have the flu in St. Augustine while potentially having more fun, so we went. Spring Break forever, y’all!

    Bayfront Marin House

    Outside our bed and breakfast, the Bayfront Marin House

    We like to stay at bed and breakfasts in the historic district. This was our first time staying at the Bayfront Marin House which we chose mostly because they allow Sookie. She loves going on vacation with us. I think she had a great time.

    Sookie investigates the bathtub

    Sookie investigates the giant bathtub

    our room at the B&B

    Entrance area

    our bed at the B&B

    Very tall bed

    The Bayfront Marin House is fine – great location, relatively clean, nice enough rooms, free happy hour – but I would not stay there if I wasn’t limited by the 68 pound dog factor. The food wasn’t great and things could have been cleaner. We’ve stayed at nicer B&B’s serving amazing breakfasts in the historic district.

    My favorite restaurant in St. Augustine is The Floridian, by a landslide. I think about their tofu all the time. The patio is adorable and dog-friendly.

    Robbie eats soup at the Floridian

    Robbie enjoying some vegetarian soup

    Tofu Cornbread Stack

    <3Tofu cornbread stack<3

    A major reason we love St. Augustine is the walkability. We park the car at the hotel and don’t touch it until it’s time to leave. All the sights, bars, and restaurants are within comfortable walking distance. Here is a photo of Sookie and Robbie enjoying the Plaza de la Constitución.

    Robbie and Sookie in the park

    A park!

    If you have any appreciation for a fine cocktail, the Ice Plant Bar is not to be missed. We made multiple trips there on a previous visit and thoroughly enjoyed it again this time. It’s a classy cocktail bar inside in a renovated, well…ice plant. They take the ice very seriously. They appear to make the majority of their mixers and things in house.

    Old Fashioned

    An Old Fashioned served with a giant ice cube

    Ice Plant Bar is in the same building as the St. Augustine Distillery, where they make craft spirits (vodka, gin, rum, and, soon to be ready, bourbon) from local ingredients. Our friends recommended the free distillery tour which is surely worth doing.

    barrels at the St. Augustine Distillery

    Barrels of rum

    St. Augustine Distillery tour

    On the distillery tour

    We learned a lot and we got to try the liquors in fancy drinks made by our tour guide. I’m still getting emails with new drink recipes from them.

    Pizza Time is on a particularly crowded, touristy street. They were voted best pizza ever in the universe or something. I wouldn’t go that far, but the slices are very good. We ate a couple on a bench outside.

    cool tile wall

    Cool tile wall we saw while walking around

    Castillo de San Marcos is a 17th century Spanish fortress/castle. We’ve never been for a tour or any of the presentations offered, but we do enjoy walking around the property. It’s right on the water and made of coquina making it a very rare building.

    outside Castillo de San Marcos

    Looking out at the Matanzas River

    Castillo de San Marcos

    Castillo de San Marcos

    standing on part of Castillo de San Marcos

    View of the river from inside the fort property

    There are two more places we will never miss when in St. Augustine: Stogies Cigar Bar and Pizzalley’s Chianti Room. Both have dog-friendly patios. Stogies offers a great beer selection and there’s always at least one wine I really enjoy. Once there was a man with a brick oven built into his truck making coal-fired pizzas on the patio. Pizzalley’s Chianti Room has the most insane happy hour I’ve ever heard of. It’s two for one drinks – even expensive liquor drinks – AND a free slice of pizza. There is always a guy singing and playing guitar on the patio. We usually can’t stand that sort of thing but he plays at a reasonable volume and has good taste in the songs he covers.

    We had a stellar cheese plate and some drinks at Cellar 6. It was our first time visiting this establishment. It is not dog friendly so Sookie took a nap in her crate. They also offer an impressive happy hour. I had an espresso martini followed by a less dessert-like martini. Robbie liked his Old Fashioneds. There were people on a date sitting next us. The man was clearly a psychopath. I hope this became evident to his date over the course of their time there because it was evident to everyone else.

    It was St. Patrick’s Day while we were there. I like St. Patrick’s Day, but we usually don’t celebrate on account of all the drunk people driving around. Because we were on foot (as was everyone else really) we went to Meehan’s Irish Pub. It was packed, of course. We realized we’d been there previously during a ghost hunting pub crawl a few years earlier. It has a nice balcony with a view of the river.

    Sookie wants to night swim

    Speaking of the river, Sookie wants to go for a swim! “What’s over there? I know there’s something over this wall.”

    Relaxing

    Sookie being happy in our room

    Sookie cares about a short list of things. Somewhere after popcorn, cheese, and dog park is cuddling. The dog loves to cuddle, but we do all the cuddling on the couch. The only time Sookie gets to lay on the bed is on vacation. Look at how happy she is. She is pure bliss in dog form.

    Pure bed bliss

    Pure bliss


  4. New Orleans, LA

    April 30, 2016 by Angie

    We went to New Orleans for our fifth wedding anniversary. (Five years!!!) It was Robbie’s first time visiting New Orleans and my first time back since spring break 2005, a few months before Hurricane Katrina.

    We stayed in the French Quarter at the Saint Hotel. This hotel is in the running for the nicest hotel we’ve ever stayed in. Everything was classy and clean. The elevators weren’t terrifying. The hotel bar is so snazzy. The staff were really nice and even gave us a complimentary bottle of champagne for our anniversary.

    Saint lobby

     Lobby of the Saint Hotel

    The Saint Hotel

     Our room

    flowers & champagne from Robbie

    A very sweet surprise from Robbie: beautiful flowers and delicious champagne!

    giant chair at the Saint
    Angie in a giant chair outside the hotel bar

    Our first stop after checking in to the hotel was lunch and happy hour at Juan’s Flying Burrito in the Central Business District. We got margaritas and tofu tacos. Everything was delicious. We almost went a second time because we liked it so much.

    Angie at Juan's Flying Burrito

    Trying out Robbie’s new phone’s camera at happy hour

    Robbie at Juan's Flying Burrito

    Handsome Robbie at Juan’s Flying Burrito

    go cup!

    Go cup!

    We walked – with our to go cups! – to Barcadia. It’s a bar with tons of arcade games. It was pretty quiet while we were there, but otherwise, no complaints. The drinks were good and we had fun playing Mortal Kombat and skeeball.

    Barcadia's bar

    Barcadia

    Barcadia's video games

    So many games

    After that we walked back into the French Quarter and around Jackson Square. People were out selling their art and palm readings and mime…skills?

    near Jackson Square

    Jackson Square

    Marie Laveau House of Voodoo

    Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo

    some wrought iron

    A very New Orleans building featuring wrought iron galleries

    Bourbon O Bar

    Bourbon O Bar

    Bourbon O Bar was our next stop. It’s very fancy for Bourbon Street. Robbie liked his Old Fashioned.

    Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar

    Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar: oldest bar in the U.S. allegedly

    Bar Tonique

    Champagne cocktail at Bar Tonique

    Bar Tonique is where Robbie had his favorite Old Fashioned of the trip, although others came close. I had the champagne cocktail shown above. I started ordering those anywhere I thought I might get a good one. New Orleans makes a mean champagne cocktail.

    That night we went to the Frenchmen Street area. We had dinner at 13 Monaghan. I failed to get any photos. The wait for our food was excruciating, but the food was really good. We ordered the tachos, tator tot nacho things, as an appetizer. They came out at the same time as our entrees – Robbie’s most hated restaurant thing. I had a BBQ tofu sandwich which was worth the wait.

    We walked to the late night Frenchmen Art Market. There were a dozen or so booths where local artists were selling cool things in a pleasant atmosphere with lots of string lights. Robbie got a really nice NOLA tee and I got a crystal necklace I love very much.

    Frenchmen Art Market crystal necklace

    I love this necklace.

    We were told by friends and the Internet to go to the Spotted Cat Music Club. We walked in, saw and heard, and walked out. We aren’t particular jazz fans , so I’m okay with that. d.b.a was across the street. We were interested in someone who was scheduled to play later, but we were so tired. We went back to the hotel and slept hard.

    The next morning we had a fantastic breakfast at The Ruby Slipper Cafe. It is located steps from our hotel. Tasty, friendly, and convenient enough that we ate breakfast there twice.

    Ruby Slipper Cafe

    Breakfast at Ruby Slipper Cafe

    Their “make your own” egg whites omelettes are worth two visits. The biscuits, cafe lattes, and creamy grits are noteworthy as well.

    cafe latte

    Mmm, cafe latte.

    We tried to get a streetcar outside the Ruby Slipper Cafe to the meeting spot for our walking tour. It started raining big time and the streetcar schedule made no sense to our tourist minds. Shout out to Uber for getting us where we needed to go on time. We did a free walking tour of the Lafayette Cemetery and the Garden District with Free Tours by Foot New Orleans.

    Lafeyette Cemetery

    The entrance to Lafayette Cemetery

    Robbie with dead folks

    Robbie hanging with some dead folks

    Society for the Relief of Destitute Orphan Boys

    The community maintains this tomb for orphan boys.

    Lafayette Cemetery

    No relation.

    Lafayette Cemetery

    A bunch of tombs

    porch dogs

    Porch dogs!

    street signs

    I’m really glad we took the Garden District tour. We learned a lot from our guide and saw things we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Afterwards we walked to The Bulldog Uptown for drinks. They have an impressive beer selection. Robbie got to try some local beers he really enjoyed.

    the taps at the Bulldog Uptown

    Impressive selection

    The Bulldog Uptown

    The sign outside of The Bulldog Uptown

    We took the streetcar to the St. Charles Slice Pizzeria location for lunch. They offer slices of their more involved pizzas. True slices – not cheese with stuff haphazardly added before heating it up. The pizza there is top notch. If there’s one thing we know, it’s pizza. Highly recommended. Unfortunately, again no photos due to extreme hunger/hedonism.

    We rode the streetcar again back to our hotel. A streetcar is not quite as cool as a subway train. It’s pretty much a wooden bus. A worthy experience nonetheless.

    Streetcar is coming!

     Here comes the streetcar!

    Robgeleen on a streetcar

    Robgeleen on a wooden bus

    We walked around in the French Quarter a bit, stopping in at Molly’s at the Market on Decatur Street for frozen Irish coffee. It’s pretty much a fast food milkshake with brandy in it. Boom.

    Molly's at the Market

    Frozen Irish Coffee from Molly’s at the Market

    Mississippi River

    We walked along the Mississippi River back to our hotel. It was Robbie’s first time seeing the Mighty Mississippi. His reaction: “It’s brown”.

    We got cleaned up at our hotel then went out on the town. We headed to French 75 bar inside Arnaud’s where we had a solid cheese plate, a French 75 for me (no brainer), and a (sadly subpar) Old Fashioned for Robbie. I think the cheese plate and ambience are great enough to make this a worthwhile stop.

    We had a round at a hotel bar, the Carousel Bar. The main bar is truly a carnival/fair style carousel. The bar and the stools rotate. Pretty cool. Our drinks were very good.

    Carousel

    Carousel Bar

    We walked around the French Quarter and particularly Bourbon Street looking for something exciting. We saw online that the Cat’s Meow offers hilarious karaoke. While neither of us would ever sing karaoke, we thoroughly enjoy watching others humiliate themselves.

    Cats Meow

    My biggest blogger failure must be discussed now. We happened upon a one of a kind DJ in a one of kind bar at a one of a kind moment. We had the best time. I have no idea what the bar is called. I have scoured Google street view. I got nothing. Anyway, here’s a photo of Robbie, the most interesting man in the world, drinking a frozen red bull and vodka (!!!).

    Robbie is the most interesting man in the world.

    Oh man, did we dance. For better or worse, I can now say I backed that thang up to Juvenile in the place of my birth. New Orleans, Louisiana is where I got it from my mama, as it were.

    Sorry, not sorry.

    After that we hit up The DungeonThe Tequila House, and the Industry Bar & Kitchen in quick succession. The Dungeon is a hilariously goth New Orleans staple which my parents remember from the 70s. As a couple who have enjoyed The Castle in Tampa, I thought Robbie should experience it. The upstairs was closed, the entire staff was helping a guy look for his credit card, and it was lame. Tequila House made me a fine drink to go. We had pizza and Robbie had a local beer at Industry Bar & Kitchen while we chatted with our very kind bartenders.

    The next day we got a slow start. We went to Ruby Slipper Cafe again for breakfast and then walked around. We stopped by this park near Cafe du Monde.

    A serene park

    A serene park

    We bought some souvenirs then stopped in at The Kerry Irish Pub for our first drink of the day.

    I really wanted to get beignets at Cafe du Monde but I could feel that I was on the verge of overdoing it with rich food and alcohol so we walked through and bought some packaged stuff to take home.

    On the recommendation of the Internet, we had a round at Tujague’s. Our bartender was phenomenal. The champagne cocktail I had there was probably the best drink of the trip for me.

    Tujague's champagne cocktail

    Awesome Tujague’s bartender

    Tujague's bar

    Tujague’s: a really old bar

    For dinner we went to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant called Seed. Again, hunger/hedonism/germophobia prevented me from taking photos of our food. We got the best nachos I’ve ever had in my life as an appetizer. They had black beans, cashew queso, grilled seitan, guacamole, and other goodies. For the entree, I ordered an eggplant pomodoro that was good but not great and Robbie got a tofu poboy which he devoured and loved. That sandwich was over a foot long and he ate it all.

    seed

    The sign outside of Seed

    We took another Uber ride with the most Lousiana guy ever to Cure. It was happy hour (lucky us). I had yet another fabulous champagne cocktail and Robbie had fantastic Old Fashioneds. This is a serious bar. They don’t mess around with their drinks.

    Cure

    We had one last round at in the bar at our hotel. The Burgundy Bar in the Saint Hotel is small but very upscale. Check out that chandelier!

    Burgundy Bar

    We took our drinks up to our room where I watched the Ted and Heidi Cruz interview on CNN. Ugh.

    Shout out to our Rover.com sitter for keeping our dog alive, fed, and happy. She had a vacation too. Sookie played in a yard with several other dogs the entire time we were gone. Most impressively, the other dogs taught her how to use the doggie door.

    I'm going to do it.

    I’m going to do it, guys.

    I did it!

    I did it!


  5. Toronto, ON

    July 3, 2015 by Angie

    After our awesome 24 hours in Niagara Falls, ON we drove on to Toronto and spent three nights at the Intercontinental Toronto Centre. (Sorry, Drake.)

    driving into Toronto

    Driving into Toronto (I woke up in a new Elantra!)

    The hotel and our room were very nice, but couldn’t compare to the last hotel with that amazing view. We could see some cool stuff from this room though like the top of the Ripley’s Aquarium. We had a round at the hotel bar called Azure Restaurant & Bar while using the deliciously free Wi-Fi to plan out our first night in Toronto.

    We walked to Drake One Fifty first. There was a really great DJ playing there. It’s in the Financial District so it was filled with suits getting their happy hour on. We had great drinks and a great time as evidenced by the following selfies.

    Drake One Fifty

    We’re…tough?

    Drake One Fifty with drinks

    We have drinks

    Our next stop was BarChef, a place I read about on a list of the best gourmet cocktail bars in Toronto. The drinks there are extremely impressive. Here’s a shot of part of the bar.

    BarChef

    The bartender was very knowledgeable and made us two great drinks. They have another group of bartenders in the back who make ridiculously elaborate drink experiences with an edible part and a scent situation. We stuck with the less expensive gourmet cocktails. Here is a photo of mine, complete with a sugar cube.

    fancy cocktail at BarChef

    After BarChef, we walked to Nota Bene for what was advertised as “the best cheese plate in Toronto”. I hate myself for failing to get a photo of it. One of the cheeses was rolled in ash and so amazingly good. We had five different, really great cheeses, and while we didn’t have the chance to enjoy any other cheese plates in Toronto, I feel comfortable calling this one the best. Here’s a photo of Robbie’s Old Fashioned at Nota Bene.

    Nota Bene

    Old Fashioneds all night

    We started our first full day with a soy latte from the Canadian chain Second Cup and bagel sandwiches from the Bagel Stop. No photos. Bummer. We then walked on to the St. Lawrence Market, stopping to buy a couple of souvenirs along the way.

    St. Lawerence Market

    The St. Lawrence Market is a huge, three building affair with mostly food items for sale. Check out these baked goods! We got a couple of souvenirs here too. If we lived in Toronto we would buy tons of groceries and prepared foods there.

    pies at St. Lawerence Market

    After that, we kept walking down Front Street to The Distillery District. This is a pretty cool historic area with lots of independent shops and restaurants. We stopped in a few stores and had lunch there.

    The Distillery District

    Angie in front of the LOVE locks

    A neat art piece made of locks

    Distillery District

    art in the Distillery District

    Statue thing

    We had a very good lunch of guacamole, veggie burritos, and a round of margaritas at El Catrin Destileria. The restaurant has a really nice patio but it was a little too cold outside for us. We sat inside where the entire back wall is covered by a giant mural by three Mexican artists, including Oscar Flores.

    cool art at El Catrin

    Neat wooden art thing

    El Catrin guacamole

    Guacamole made at the table. Yummy.

    mural at El Catrin

    Part of the awesome mural

    more mural at El Catrin

    More mural

    On the way back toward our hotel we stopped in at the Flatiron Pub. We both love British pubs and who doesn’t love a flatiron building, so we give it two thumbs up.

    Flatiron Pub

    Rad flatiron building

    Flat Iron Pub sign

    I enjoy their marketing efforts.

    Flat Iron Pub

    Anarchy in the UK

    We also stopped to take photos outside of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The Lightning’s recent winning streak has made Robbie something of a hockey fan. Here he is with a plaque and a statue.

    Robbie in front of the Hockey Hall of Fame

    Robbie outside the Hockey Hall of Fame

    Hockey Robbie

    Robbie is a newly minted hockey fan.

    We had reservations for dinner at the 360 Restaurant inside the CN Tower. It is a very fancy, rotating restaurant that allows you to see the entire city as you drink and eat. We were there for the sunset. It was the most expensive dinner of our lives, but totally worth it for the views, the great vegetarian prix fixe menu, and for sharing a fantastic bottle of wine 1,815 feet in the air.

    Robgeleen in the CN Tower

    Robgeleen in the rotating 360 Restaurant inside the CN Tower

    view of Toronto from the 360 Restaurant

    The view from our table just before sunset

    dinner with a view

    And the view after a little rotating

    wine and appetizers

    Wine and appetizers

    Our food was sooooo good. My appetizer was a cold, potato soup. Amazing. Robbie got this tomato salad situation which he also liked.

    Robbie's appetizer

    Tomato salad

    Angie's appetizer

    Potato soup

    Angie's entree

    My entree was sweet potato gnocchi. It was rich, but I loved it.

    Robbie's entree

    Robbie had a vegetarian bolognese pasta dish with cheese on top. He was a fan.

    360 wine cellar

    They are very proud of their wine cellar, with good reason.

    With our dinner, we got a complimentary guided ride in the CN Tower elevator and access to the glass floor and outdoors platform. As you can see below, it’s a seriously tall tower.

    CN Tower

    CN Tower from underneath it

    glass floor at the CN Tower

    The glass floor was a little freaky. You can see the roof of the Ripley’s Aquarium very far below my feet. It was too cold for the outdoors platform. We walked out there, swore, and hauled it back inside.

    We took a taxi to the Kensington Market area to see the sights and visit a few bars. Our very sweet taxi driver was a little reluctant to leave us there because we were clueless tourists. I knew that our first stop, Cold Tea, is notoriously difficult to locate so I was prepared. We walked down this indoor alleyway to get to the entrance.

    the secret passageway to Cold Tea

    Cold Tea is a top secret bar.

    We were rewarded for our quest by gourmet drinks and a very divey/just right atmosphere. The bartender took his time and made Robbie’s Old Fashioned with a lot of love.

    Robbie at Cold Tea

    Robbie’s (favorite) Old Fashioned

    It was pretty crowded inside. We mostly hung out on the back patio where we encountered a chunky, garbage-eating raccoon friend and a lot of graffiti.

    raccoon buddy

    Raccoon buddy

    back patio at Cold Tea
    The back door at Cold Tea

    We checked out a couple of other bars in the neighborhood and then headed to The Boat Restaurant, where we were promised a 90s Dance Party. The music was not what we hoped for, but it was still a fun time. We have a playlist ready for you when you want it, Boat DJ.

    The Boat

    The dance floor at the Boat

    The next morning we walked to a new neighborhood to have breakfast at What a Bagel. I had what was quite possibly the best soy latte of my life. The bagel sandwiches we got were good too. The atmosphere and service were seriously lacking, however. I have never been so squeezed and smooshed in a restaurant. The customers have to pull the tables out to get to half of the seats then finagle their way back into a normal sitting position. It was weird.

    what a latte

    Delicious soy latte

    We then walked to a giant mall called the Eaton Centre. It was nice but about what you’d expect from a mall so we didn’t stay long.

    On our last day in Toronto, we finally rode the subway. They have a very progressive deal on weekends and holidays where any two people qualify for a “family pass”, which is a big discount. We got one of those and made our way to the Dovercourt area for drinks and food.

    hungover on a subway platform

    Looking a tiny baby bit rough in the subway station

    Yonge

    Yonge platform

    subway car

    The inside of our subway car

    Our first stop was Disgraceland, a bar and restaurant with tons of vegetarian/vegan options. We love this place. It’s the kind of bar we’d like to open one day. Once again, we had a very kind bartender. We got a couple of rounds and a basket of their popcorn tofu – “tofu done KFC-style”. It was all very tasty. Even the mushroom gravy was good!

    Disgraceland front

    View of the front looking toward the street

    Robbie at Disgraceland

    Robbie enjoying yet another Old Fashioned

    Disgraceland

    They were showing the original Total Recall

    Hogtown Vegan is the restaurant I really, really, really did not want to miss in Toronto. They offer a completely vegan menu featuring a billion things I want to eat everyday. I went overboard there and made myself ill. It was worth it, but, lesson learned. I vow to be less gluttonous on future vacations. We each got an appetizer and an entree. I think Robbie got another Old Fashioned and I had an Irish Coffee which was great, but went terribly with the food I ordered. I’m sure the strange mixture of things I rapidly consumed didn’t help me out.

    Robbie started with Buffalo wings and I got vegan nachos. Both were amazing.

    vegan Buffalo wings

    Buffalo (soy) wings

    Robbie approves of his appetizer at Hogtown Vegan

    Robbie likes his Buffalo wings

    vegan nachos

    Vegan nachos with nacho “cheese”, sunflower sour cream, and black beans

    For our entrees, Robbie got the phish ‘n chips. He loved the fries, did not love the phish. I had the Southern Combo which is vegan fried chikn with house made BBQ sauce for dipping, garlicky, sautéed collard greens, and nutritional yeast-based mac and “cheese”. It was fantastic. Southern Combo, I will dream about you.

    Southern combo

    Angie’s unbelievably good Southern Combo: fake fried chikn, garlicky collard greens, and vegan mac and “cheese”

    Phish and chips

    Robbie’s phish ‘n chips

    Toronto is beautiful, clean, and full of kind people. Robgeleen city rating: 10/10. Would drink all of their Old Fashioneds again.


  6. Niagara Falls, ON

    May 30, 2015 by Angie

    Our big trip this year was to Ontario, Canada. We flew into Buffalo, New York, got a rental car, drove across the border to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, then went on to Toronto for the remainder of our trip. Here is the Niagara Falls part!

    We stayed at the Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa for one night. We were both very impressed with the hotel. We got a fallsview room on the 21st floor. The view was amazing. You can see the Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls very clearly right from our room!

    View from our hotel room

     View from our room at the Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa

    hotel view

    Another view from our room

    another hotel view

    Hotel view with a rainbow

    hotel and its hood

    Here’s a look at our hotel and the surrounding area from the other side.

    sunset view from our hotel

    And one more at sunset 🙂

    The food situation in Niagara Falls is very chain restaurant blah. We managed to find a great pizza place, magically. We walked to Antica Pizzeria & Ristorante for dinner. We had oven baked garlic bread for our appetizer and coal oven baked Margherita pizza with a side of extra sauce for our entree. The wait staff was really nice and helpful. I love Canadians. We had a delicious bottle of Pinot Noir with our meal.

    Robbie at Antica Pizzeria

    Robbie and the Pinot Noir at Antica Pizzeria

    Angie at Antica Pizzeria

    Angie with wine bottles in the background at Antica Pizzeria

    After dinner we walked down to the falls. The sunset was really late so we got to see everything in the daylight.

    Tulips on Murray Street

    Pretty tulips on Murray Street

    American Falls

    American and Bridal Falls

    Falls selfie

    Falls selfie

    Horseshoe Falls near sunset

    Horseshoe Falls at sunset

    We stopped in at the Fallsview Casino Resort to see what all the fuss was about. It was a pretty depressing place featuring a lot of older people plugged in with an umbilical cord-esque card situation to slot machines. We had a round at the bar. The bartender was very nice. We played the video poker game located on the bar. We lost 🙁

    Robbie at the casino bar

     Robbie at the casino bar

    The next morning we walked to the falls bright and early for our 8:45 a.m.Voyage to the Falls Boat Tour with Hornblower Niagara Cruises. We booked the boat tour online several weeks before our trip which made boarding quite painless. They gave us plastic ponchos to wear. We rode with about 75 European teenagers and Asian tourists right up to the falls. You will get wet!

    Hornblower Cruise

     On the Hornblower Niagara Cruises boat tour!

    Angie in front of the Horseshoe Falls

    Angie in front of the Horseshoe Falls

    Robbie in front of Horseshoe Falls

    Robbie in front of the Horseshoe Falls

    misty Angie

    Misty Angie

    we got a little misted

    We got a little “misted”. The ponchos – they do nothing.

    cruise kiss

    Falls kiss

    After our cruise we walked to Table Rock Centre to get a good look at the edge of the Horseshoe Falls. Even after looking at Niagara Falls for twenty four hours, it’s still breathtaking.

    Table Rock Centre Angie

    Angie in front of the Horseshoe Falls at Table Rock Centre

    Table Rock Centre Robbie

    Table Rock Centre Robbie facing us

    Robbie in front of the Horseshoe Falls at Table Rock Centre

    Horseshoe Falls from the side

    A side view

    Mighty Horseshoe Falls

    Horseshoe Falls from Table Rock Centre


    Serious waterfall

    Woah.

    After getting cleaned up and checking out of our hotel, we walked to the The Kasbah Mediterranean Qsine for lunch. I, regretably, didn’t get any photos of the food. Robbie got the vegan red lentil soup and soy veggie burger. I had the tabouleh salad and a falafel/hummus/baba ghanoush/pita slices combo. We were really happy to find yummy vegetarian food in Niagara Falls. It’s a chain restaurant disaster in that city.

    The Kasbah

    The outside of The Kasbah – a great, locally owned Mediterranean restaurant in the land of Outback Ruby Friday’s

    Adorable sign

     Heisenberg drives erratically when it’s freezing outside?


  7. St. Petersburg, FL

    May 17, 2015 by Angie

    We stayed in Downtown St. Pete for a night for our fourth wedding anniversary mini-celebration/pub crawl. We had a great time exploring that area on foot.

    We got a free night’s stay via rewards points at the Courtyard St. Petersburg Downtown. It’s a really old building, but quite nice on the inside, much nicer than I expected from the photos on their website. The location is great for walking to the best restaurants and bars downtown. We left our car with the valet for our entire stay. That’s exactly what we look for in a hotel location.

    Robbie planning

    Robbie planning our night out in our hotel room at the Courtyard.

    Our first stop was the Mandarin Hide where I had the second best cocktail of my life, an espresso martini. It’s a small, classy place with very impressive gourmet cocktails. I highly recommend it. We were back in St. Pete the next weekend for something so we stopped in again and it was equally great.

    Espresso Martini

    My espresso martini. So delicious.

    Mandarin Hide

    Behind the bar at Mandarin Hide

    We had dinner outside at Bella Brava, an Italian place near the water. We weren’t impressed. Sorry, Bella Brava. There seemed to be seafood in the butter that came with the bread – weird. Our red wine came chilled – also weird. Neither of us were impressed with our entrees. It was nice to sit outside, but I don’t think we’ll be back.

    Bella Brava

    Weird fish butter and chilled red wine, ravioli, and eggplant parmesan at Bella Brava

    After dinner we headed to The Canopy Rooftop Lounge at the Birchwood Inn. The Canopy is a schmancy, South Beach-esque bar on the top of a hotel. We love to drink on a roof so we had to stop by this place. The drinks were good, the other rooftoppers were friendly, and it’s a great to place to watch the sunset.

    The Canopy

    It’s like South Beach, but for retired people.

    water view from The Canopy

    The view from The Canopy
    canoodling anniversary selfie

    Canoodling anniversary selfie.

    so-so kind stranger photo

    A kind stranger took our photo. It’s not the best, but it’s all I’ve got.

    The next morning we walked to brunch at the Red Mesa Cantina. It’s in a really cool and huge building with a pretty patio. We were seated right away even though there were a lot of folks there already. The guacamole appetizer we got didn’t really taste like anything. The tofu tacos were absolutely delicious but oh so tiny. We would definitely go back, especially because I didn’t get to try their margaritas.


  8. California Wine Country

    January 18, 2015 by Angie

    I’m finally blogging the second half of our California trip. These photos are from Sonoma, Napa, and Santa Rosa.

    We were very impressed with our hotel, Inn at Sonoma, near the Sonoma square. We were a short walking distance to everything in town. Our room was beautiful with our own balcony. The complimentary wine and cheese hour and breakfasts were very good. We would definitely stay there again.

    Inn at Sonoma

    Our room at Inn at Sonoma.

    balcony at Inn at Sonoma

     Our private balcony.

    Rooftop hot tub at Inn at Sonoma

    Awesome rooftop jacuzzi.

    free wine and cheese hour

    Robbie enjoying a Sonoma red at the complimentary, nightly wine and cheese tasting.

    Hop Monk

    After checking in and enjoying the wine and cheese hour at Inn at Sonoma, we walked across the street to HopMonk for drinks. I had an awesome champagne drink. Robbie had a HopMonk IPA and did not like it at all. Sorry, HopMonk. I thought the outside seating area was really pretty.

    On our first full day in California Wine Country, we enjoyed the yummy and complimentary breakfast at our hotel, picked up a soy latte at Peet’s across the street, and drove to our first winery, Lancaster Estate in Healdsburg. The grounds are beautiful. We saw our first hummingbird ever while waiting outside for our guided tour to begin!

    Robbie at Lancaster Estate Winery

    Cheers to the hummingbird.

    Angie at Lancaster Estate Winery

    Angie and the grounds.

    Lancaster Estate Winery

    The vineyard.

    Home at Lancaster Estate Winery

    The estate. I wouldn’t mind living there.

    We got to tour two wine caves while were in California. The Lancaster Estate wine cave is so fancy, like the Bat Cave but with more wine.

    Inside the cave

    A tasting area inside the cave. This room reminds me of the Authority’s underground complex in True Blood.

    barrels in the cave

    barrels

    Many, many barrels of wine inside the cave.

    logo closeup

    A closeup of barrel. These are made specially for Lancaster Estate.

    egg

    This is a giant cement egg they use in the wine-making process.

    inside of a barrel

    Here is a look at what is going on inside the barrel as the wine is being made.

    cool lights

    Our tour guide and the very impressive design details inside the cave. A little A Game of Thrones-y.

    wine and cheese tasting in the cave

     This is where we sat for our wine and cheese tasting with another couple and our tour guide.

    Robgeleen drinking wine in a cave

    Robgeleen IN A CAVE.

    Because we love pinot noir so much, our tour guide at Lancaster Estate recommended that we stop by the Roth Estate Winery just down the road to try their award-winning pinot noir.

    Roth Estate Winery

    Roth Estate grounds.

    Best favorite Pinot Noir at Roth

    THE pinot noir.

    It was so good! We bought a bottle to drink back at home. This was a much more laid-back experience. The tasting room is pretty but relaxed with board games for people to play while they enjoy their wine. We each had a glass of the pinot noir then headed on to Napa County.

    Our friend said her favorite winery from her visit to Wine Country was Sequoia Grove in Napa so we drove out to see it. The grounds are so beautiful but different from the other vineyards we visited. This one has tons of Sequoia trees so it has more of a forest feeling to it. I agree with our friend – you don’t want to miss this one. The wine is very good, the staff are all nice and knowledgeable, and I loved being back in a redwood forest.

    Outside Sequoia Grove

    A seating area outside.

    Robbie inside Sequoia Grove

    Robbie inside talking with the very helpful staff.

    Angie hugging a redwood tree at Sequoia Groves

    I love these trees so much I had to hug one.

    fountain at Sequoia Grove

    It doesn’t get much more scenic than this.

    grapes on the vine

     A closeup of their grapes on the vine.

    After Sequoia Grove, we drove back to our hotel and walked over to the Red Grape for more wine and delicious pizza. Regrettably, I didn’t get a photo of the pizza but here is Robbie in their lovely outdoor area.

    Robbie at The Red Grape

    Robbie at The Red Grape.

    On our last day before heading back to San Francisco we woke up crazy early again. The hotel wasn’t serving breakfast yet and we had been starving for a couple of hours already so we walked over to the Basque Boulangerie Cafe. We got a giant baguette, a soy latte for me (a trend?), and a green tea for Robbie. The bread was so fresh and good that we started eating it as we walked back to our hotel.

    mmm, bread

     Mouth full of bread.

    We had reservations for an early tram wine tour and tasting at Benziger Family Winery so we checked out of our awesome hotel and started our drive out to Glen Ellen. This winery is biodynamic, meaning they use only natural farming methods. We learned a lot from the tour. It was interesting to learn about the process and how they manage everything without chemicals. They have the second cave we visited, which was cool, but not nearly as fancy as the Lancaster Estate cave. The grounds are breathtakingly beautiful. Gotta admit though, neither of us cared much for their wines.

    Benziger grounds

    Woah.

    tour guide

    Our tour guide pouring a tasting for us at the top of the hill in the vineyard.

    Benziger vineyard

     The vineyard.

    Benziger cave

     Barrels inside the cave.

    Robgeleen kiss in a vineyard

    Robgeleen selfie with the pretty vineyard.

    After our tour, we drove out to Russian River Brewing, a.k.a. Robbie’s heaven on Earth, in Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is a precious little city. Anybody want to give us jobs there?

    Robbie & Pliny sitting in a tree

     The big moment! Robbie drinking the best IPA in the world, Pliny the Elder, on tap at Russian River Brewing. He’s so happy!

    really good pizza

    Their pizza was fantastic. Some of the best pizza we’ve had, and we’ve had a lot of pizza. I wish we could go to Russian River Brewing all the time  🙁

    We then drove back over the Golden Gate Bridge (which is pretty scary really – there’s nothing in between your lane and the lane going the opposite direction) for our last night in San Francisco and the last night of our trip.

    It was a successful trip. We saw redwoods and the Golden Gate Bridge, ate lots of delicious food, drank lots of delicious wine, had Pliny the Elder on tap – all goals accomplished! If only California were a lot closer…

    See the blog post on the San Francisco part of our trip here.


  9. San Francisco, CA

    October 31, 2014 by Angie

    Our big vacation this year was to San Francisco and California Wine Country. It was wonderful!

    It’s going to be a long post so here is a Golden Gate Bridge photo to hold you over.

    Golden Gate Bride

     It’s such a fine bridge.

    We flew into San Francisco on Saturday evening and took a taxi to our very nice hotel, the Galleria Park Hotel. They didn’t have the room we reserved back in March and, for once, it worked out in our favor. They upgraded us to the nicest suite in the hotel for free!

    dining table

    A fireplace, a dining table ,and TV #2!

    sofa

    A living room!

    Despite Charlotte airport nachos and a mid-flight cheese plate, we needed dinner. We walked through the outskirts of Chinatown to Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant on Kearney, a totally vegan Chinese restaurant. We had steamed vegetable dumplings for our appetizer, which was my favorite of the three things we ordered. I got basil soy chicken and vegetables and Robbie got BBQ pork and veggie ham fried rice. The food was good but not on par with similar dishes from similar restaurants we’ve tried in other cities. (Shout out to Chinese Buddha in Atlanta!)

    chopsticks fear and dumplings

    Steamed vegetable dumplings and fear personified as Robbie realized there were no forks on the table.

    basil soy chicken

    Basil soy chicken, napa cabbage, etc.

    BBQ pork and veggie ham fried rice

    The house special fried rice with fake BBQ pork and ham.

    After getting dressed up in our swanky suite, we walked to The View, one of the bars/restaurants inside the Marriott on Mission Street. It really lives up to its name, however, my photos don’t. We could see so much of the city and all the way to the bay. The bar is worth visiting for the View alone but the drinks were really good too. We both loved our drinks: Robbie got an old-fashioned and I had an awesome sparkling wine/St. Germaine,/fresh berries concoction. And keeping with the free theme, our second round was on the house!

    The View

    Imagine a breathtaking view of the city, the bridge, and the bay. Or go see it on their website.

    We were up pretty early (5:00 am early) the next day. And everyday. We never adjusted to the time change. So after being hungry for a few hours, Robbie went next door to Bread and Cocoa and picked up some breakfast for us. We ate it at our dining table in our big suite watching CNN on the second TV. I don’t usually drink any kind of coffee but I fell in love with that latte.

    Bread and Cocoa/Galleria Park Hotel

    Bread and Cocoa next door to Galleria Park Hotel

    Here is a photo of a trolley I saw while I was waiting for the rental car company outside of our hotel.

    Trolley car

    We drove north out of the city in our rented Toyota Corolla. Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge was quite impressive.

    driving over the Golden Gate Bridge

     Driving north on the Golden Gate Bridge

    This bridge really is spectacular. We stopped on the other side at the Vista Point and took photos with all of the other tourists. 10/10 would photograph again.

    Robgeleen at Vista Point

     A kind, fellow tourist took our photo for us.

    tourist party

    Our outdoor adventure for this trip was a walk through the Muir Woods National Monument. I really really wanted to see redwoods and I was not disappointed! We even saw a bonus chipmunk! The park is beautiful and serene. Despite the overflowing parking lot, it was quiet and didn’t feel crowded at all. The trees are huge and stately, if a tree can be stately. We had a great time walking through, enjoying the trees and the quiet, and taking photos. The shuttle there and back was a little scary on the twirling mountain roads but I’m glad the shuttle was an option because it was better than wasting our vacation looking for a parking spot.

    Robbie at the entrance

    Robbie at the entrance to the Muir Woods National Monument

    Robgeleen with redwoods

    Robgeleen with redwoods!

    After the shuttle ride back to our rental car, we drove to a cute little town called Mill Valley to eat at Joe’s Taco Lounge. I will forever be glad that we chose to eat there. I think their tofu tostada is the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in my life. We had the amazing nachos too. I’m sad that this adorable and authentic restaurant is so far from my house because I want to eat every vegetarian thing on that menu.

    best Mexican food ever

    Phenomenal tofu tostada

    religious decor

    The Virgin Mary and hot sauces at Joe’s Taco Lounge

    We spent the rest of the day and the next two nights in Sonoma and Napa counties, which you should check out in my next post.

    On Tuesday afternoon, it was time to drive back to San Francisco and drop off our car. I drove back and it was so scary! There was one street near our hotel that was so steep I couldn’t visually confirm that there was land on the other side of the hill. After dropping our bags off at the hotel and returning our car, we checked out some bars on foot.

    We started at Mikkeller Bar, went on to Rickhouse, then finished the night at Local Edition. I got zero usable photos from these bars. I do recall that my drink at Rickhouse was really amazing and Robbie was impressed with his old-fashioned at Local Edition. It became clear that we needed fuel in the form of immediately available Mexican food for our walk back to the hotel. We stopped at a Chipotle on our way and were pleasantly surprised to be able to order the tofu sofritas at that location. I got a huge bowl of sofritas, black beans, grilled veggies, two salsas, cheese, and guacamole. It was quite special for emergency fast food.

    chipotle tofu sofritas

    Yes, I’m blogging Chipotle.

    For the last night of our trip we stayed at the Hotel Boheme on Columbus Avenue. It wasn’t our first choice – our first choice was sold to another company after we made our reservation and the new company didn’t honor our reservation. The Hotel Boheme’s location is really good. The hotel itself was just okay.

    Because we were still waking up at 5:00 am we had plenty of time to pack, arrange for a shuttle to the airport, and head towards the Fisherman’s Wharf for breakfast. We ate at the Beach Street Grill which was quite good. We walked the short distance to Pier 39 afterwards to see the sea lions. They are such characters! Stinky, funny characters.

    rainbow over Alcatraz

     We saw a rainbow and Alcatraz on our way.

    sea lions

     That beautiful bridge again.

    sea lions!

     Sea lions! I love them so much.

    Our final semi-noteworthy activity in San Francisco was eating surprisingly good airport food. If you are ever flying out of SFO, go to Andale. They have delicious tofu!


  10. Siesta Key, FL

    May 15, 2014 by Angie

    This past weekend we took a mini-vacation to Siesta Key, FL. We knew that it’s been voted Best Beach in the U.S., in the World, in Creation, etc., BUT we didn’t know that it’s where Florida keeps it’s very drunk retired people. We learned this quickly.

    But first things first. We stayed at Sara Sea Beach Resort which is a part of the Tropical Beach Resorts. It’s a small resort with a gorgeous, white sand, private beach, a pool, a volleyball court, a shuffleboard court, and beautiful grounds with lots of places to lounge and grill. The resort also boasts a lot of free things including Wi-Fi, towel and chair rentals, DVD library, coffee, pink lemonade, cookies, and maid service (which, believe it or not, is hard to find on Siesta Key). We got the smallest queen bed room and, even though we weren’t in there very long, it was small. Tiny as it was, it did have everything we needed with a fully equipped (hair dryer, Aveda products) bathroom and a real kitchen with an almost normal-sized fridge, stove, microwave, and dishes and utensils. Here are some photos of our home away from home last weekend.

    Sara Sea Queen Hideaway

    Sara Sea Queen Hideaway was the name of our room size/style

    Sara Sea Beach Resort Kitchen

    A real kitchen! We only used the fridge, cups, and ice bucket but it’s nice to have the option to cook during a longer stay.

    Sara Sea pool

    The pool.

    Walkway to the private beach

    The walkway to the private Siesta Key beach.

    Siesta Key private beach at sunset

    The beach is, of course, the reason to visit Siesta Key. The water is calm, the sand is powdery white and goes on and on, and the water is clear.

    Siesta Key beach

    Ahhhhh.

    pretty ocean

    Wonderful.

    After checking in, we went to happy hour at Flavio’s Brick Oven and Bar. The pizza was pretty delicious but the drinks and atmosphere were ehhh. The happy hour pizza and drink prices can’t be beat, however. We stopped by a main drinking attraction, the Daiquiri Deck, before heading back to the resort. They basically serve adult Slurpees which isn’t really our style but we had to see it. We had a good time drinking Cigar City Jai Alai IPA and cherry vodka and soda, respectively, while listening to the cover band.

    Daiquiri Deck

    Daiquiri Deck’s array of adult Slurpees

    After dropping off the car and trying a dolphin statue:

    Robbie trying a dolphin statue

    we walked across the street to check out the walking distance establishments. We stopped in at the Crescent Beach Grocery and looked at all the amazing cheese we were too full to eat. We then walked to the Captain Curt’s Crab & Oyster Bar triumvirate of establishments, stopping first at Sniki Tiki. It’s a “where everybody knows your name” kind of establishment. We had a really good and really big plate of homemade potato chips with chipotle sauce and some drinks. The bartender was quite awesome. The locals were…old and…colorful but we had a good time. After that we walked over to the karaoke portion and closed out the night there. Some of the singers were really good, like, realllllyyy good. There was a fluorescent wig-wearing group of women with older gentlemen who danced and kept things very entertaining.

    On Saturday morning, we went to brunch. We ate at  Village Cafe where we both had veggie omelets with home fries and toast. We actually meant to go to Sun Garden Cafe but we saw Village Cafe and got confused and went in. We were seated right away and the food and service were good. I would accidentally go there again.

    After brunch, we got ready for the beach by filling our reusable water bottles with boozy drinks. Alcohol is permitted on that beach as long as it’s not in a glass container. The beach was so pretty and relaxing. It was too cold to get all the way in the ocean so we swam in the pool after.

    For dinner we went to Veg, just over the little bridge from our resort. I didn’t know there was a mostly vegetarian restaurant nearby so this was a very pleasant surprise. Veg has a large, almost entirely vegan menu except for some seafood dishes. Kinda weird, I know, but I guess when you’re right by the ocean you get really into seafood, I dunno. Everything we got was incredibly good. We had the cashew “cheese” pâté for our appetizer. I failed to get a photo of this. They tried with the presentation but it still looked kinda like cat food, but, trust me, it was so tasty. Robbie got the seitan brisket and I got the Shabu Shabu which is fake chicken, vegetables, Ponzu sauce, and rice noodles. They also have beer, wine, and housemade sangria, so that’s cool. I would definitely eat here again if we’re ever back in that area.

    Shabu Shabu at Veg

    My Shabu Shabu at Veg

    Seitan Brisket at Veg

    Robbie’s seitan brisket with a sweet potato and veggies

    After dinner, we drove back over to the area with a lot of bars and restaurants and walked around some. We stopped in at Blu Que Island Grill for a round. The same cover band we saw at Daiquiri Deck the night before was playing there. We were so full from Veg which was a little bit of a tragedy because the guy at the table next to us was eating nachos that looked phenomenal. Our bartender was a bit of a character and looked exactly like The Stranger from The Big Lebowski. I tried to discreetly photograph him but this profile shot is the best I could do.

    The Stranger/Bartender

    “Now this here story I’m about to unfold took place back in the early ’90s – just about the time of our conflict with Sad’m and the I-raqis.”

    We ended our evening and vacation sharing a bottle of champagne on the lawn outside on the resort grounds. It was a great trip. A few too many very drunk, very old people but the beach, the resort, and the food at Veg are worth making a return visit.

    champagne on the lawn

    Pray that all their pain be champagne