Exploring San Francisco

Being able to escape New York once in awhile is definitely a treat, and a city like San Francisco is the perfect place to do so. Besides that fact that walking can be difficult (I see you hills), this city has everything. Here are some of my favorite places I explored while on a short weekend there.

Mission Thrift

Seated right in the heart of the Mission District this thrift store has a ton of character and definitely was worth seeing. The Mission is also home to the Everlane Lab and a Reformation storefront.

Tartine

This bakery has probably the best croissant I’ve ever eaten. This legendary spot is well known for having decadent cakes and eclair’s also so make a trip here! Tartine Manufactory is the bakery’s restaurant and is relatively nearby the bakery but I didn’t make it there.

Mission Dolores Park

Peaceful, sunny and full of people even on a weekday. This park was the perfect way to end a day of non-stop walking.

Mr. Holmes Bakery

Well-known for their cruffin I had to make a spot here to pick up a few pastries for my family to try. I throughly enjoyed the cruffin. They also come out with a special flavor each day; you never know what you might get!

Jane on Fillmore

I heard so many things about this place before arriving. Jane has an awesome menu and an inviting atmosphere for a perfect lunch. It can get crowded but waiting for a table is so worth it!

Haight-Ashbury Streets

The birthplace of the hippie movement still has a ton of spunk. Lined with trendy thrift stores, record shops and cafes. I loved exploring here with my family. It’s also nearby some awesome parks.

Painted Ladies

What San Francisco trip would be complete without a trip to the iconic Full House setting? The painted ladies are truly awesome but be prepared for the walk up-hill to get to them!

Cliff House

Sure, it may be a huge tourist destination but Cliff House is a really a must-see in my opinion. The views are incredible and is definitely unlike anything we ever get in NYC. Make sure to take a jacket because the winds and fog can get chilly. Catch the sunset here and a few drinks.

Overall my short trip 3-day trip to San Francisco was definitely sweet. This city is large with a ton of things to see so make sure to come hungry and ready for exploring!

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Northern California and Wine Country

When glancing at the last time I posted on this blog, I feel ashamed! Over a month ago?! Time definitely gets away from me at moments.

It has been a busy fall for me. The heat has been distracting since it still felt like early September for most of October, so maybe I’ve almost forgotten what season we are in. Work is ramping up as I am studying for a new certification which will not only make me more knowledgable but hopefully springboard me into the next big opportunity.

Luckily I was able to get away and visit my brother who is currently a California resident for the semester somewhere near Sacramento! We got to explore San Francisco, Sonoma County (wine country) and some of Northern California.

I definitely would recommend the places we went to for wine tasting: Kendall-Jackson, Clos du Bois, and Francis Coppola winery. Kendall-Jackson had beautiful gardens and a gorgeous tasting room. Francis Coppola even had an outdoor pool and bar with an inside museum (he’s a really famous movie producer).

Northern California is beautiful and it’s so sad to know that so many people were hurt and lost their homes in the fires. As we drove we could see scorched hills and burned trees. Employees at the wineries spoke of stories of losing their homes, or their neighbors homes. There are many ways you can still help the victims, now that the fires are contained (but still burning). Visit this page to learn how you can help!

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Traveling Greece: Athens Photo Essay

Despite the mixed reviews we had from others, Athens was a nice surprise at the end of our Greek vacation. The Old City which is where the Acropolis sits directly in the middle of is full of beautiful white washed houses with terra-cotta plated roofs. Graffiti lines the streets in the most beautiful arrays of color. Cafes and tavernas dot the streets and keep it loud enough to not feel empty.

The National Gardens are a nice shady respite from the blaring heat of the sun of this city. The neighborhood of Monastiraki which lies close by has tons of restaurants, and a huge outdoor market.

Here is a sprinkle of some of my favorite photos from Athens. Hope you enjoy!

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Traveling Greece: Naxos

After we headed out to Mykonos, our second stop on our Greek journey was to the island of Naxos. This gorgeous island is the largest in the Cyclades island group and is only a short hour ride by ferry from Mykonos. It ended up being the perfect balance between the lively and super touristy island we had just left.

You step off the ship to see the Temple of Apollo sitting there on the hillside, its arch watching over the entire town. It sticks out from the mainland into the water on this little peninsula surrounded by beautiful blue ocean. It’s no wonder the ancient Greek’s picked the spot! It made for amazing pictures, and crowds lined up to see the sunset from the top at night.

Naxos Town

The town of Naxos is so fun! Though much smaller than Mykonos and quaint, it really had a lot to offer. The road that runs along the water is lined with shops and restaurants, cafes and cocktail bars. Families wander through the downtown every night of the week. Soccer (football) plays on outdoor screens at cafes, with lounge chairs and couches and strong espresso. Octopus hang on strings outside the restaurants just waiting to be picked by you to eat. It really is amazing.

Head up the side roads, and you’ll soon find steep narrow winding alleyways and quaint shops leading up to the castle of the town. It has been renovated into a walking museum of sorts and has some beautiful architecture hidden away inside.

It’s safe to say we were enchanted right away by this island. The hotel we picked ended up being perfect here also. Aeolis Boutique Hotel was situated just outside of downtown which made us feel like we really lived amongst the Greeks for our two short nights here.

Beaches

Naxos luckily has a fully functioning bus system, and for 3 euro we were able to jump on for a short drive over to Plaka beach which was highly recommended. These beaches are much less touristy than Mykonos. We went around 6pm to a mostly empty beach and stayed to enjoy our own private sunset on the water. Couldn’t have been more beautiful!

Overall

Naxos was the perfect compliment to Mykonos and I would highly recommend. You could even spend more days here than we did and do some of the bus tours or boating excursions the island has to offer. The quaint but lively town offered us the perfect view into true Greek island life.

 

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Traveling Greece: Mykonos

Where do I even begin with you, Greece? When my best friend texted me out of the blue and said “let’s get away”, picking our destination was an easy choice. Greece is known for being beautiful, and I fell in love with each place we went for different reasons. I can’t believe I am finally starting to share all of these pictures with you! Let’s talk Mykonos first.

Our trip included hopping from island to island followed by Athens, but we spent the most time out of any place in Mykonos. The amazing beaches and party scene here has given this island quite a name for itself. Though we knew we didn’t want to dive too deep into the crazy-ness, we just had to see for ourselves what makes this island so special.

Our Hotel

We got extremely lucky with our hotel pick. There were tons out there but I would highly recommend Hotel Alkyon to anyone traveling to Mykonos. These fantastic views overlooked the town because of the hill/cliff/mountain it sits on and was a short walking distance to everything there! The pool at our hotel may have been our favorite place on the whole island, especially for sunset views.

Mykonos Town

The town is lively and bustling with tourists and Greek families (yes, people actually do live here!). Cats roam the narrow white and gray stone streets. Flowers creep down on vines from overhead planters in windows. The winding alleyways lead you to something beautiful with each new turn. Tons of stores from high-end luxury designers to small mom-and-pop tourist spots, along with tons of restaurants/bars/cafes. I highly recommend walking down to the water here to see the windmills and the yachts at the old port (especially at sunset).

The Beaches

I will preface this by saying: rent a car! The beaches are too far to walk (they all have long steep roads down the mountain-sides) and are even far apart from each other. Each beach also has a different vibe so make sure to interview others about their favorites before choosing where to go. All of the beaches you pay somewhere between 15-30 euro for a lounge chair with umbrella and they wait on you table-service style.

Elia beach was by far my favorite; it’s crystal clear water was overlooked by beautiful mountain cliffs with houses and a view hotels. It was also all sand and no rocks which is a huge plus! It is more low-key and farther on the island making it slightly less touristy than others.

Paranga beach is a little more lively than Elia but also had a lot of families and children when we went. Music beats in the background and drinks are passed around all day! We had fun here. Scorpios overlooks this beach which is one of the many sprawling restaurants/bars/beach party spots in Mykonos.

Psarou beach was also gorgeous, with white sand and some really fun parties. We made a reservation at Nammos for lunch/dinner and it did not disappoint! This gorgeous high-end restaurant had amazing food and drinks, had bars butting right up to the sand, and really attracted the crowds. By the time we left people were up dancing on the tables and bars without a care in the world. I would definitely recommend this spot to anyone visiting Mykonos (but not families)!

Overall

Mykonos definitely blew me away. Though we craved some relaxation time away from the tourists at moments, being around so many others seeking out the island is truly wonderful. The scenery was also undeniably beautiful. The ultimate Greek island destination!

 

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The Best New Orleans Restaurants

New Orleans is a notorious hot-spot destination for foodies. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina the city has been re-vitalizing in every way possible, including the food. This city is home to deep rooted cultural dishes but blended perfectly with trendy new spots to get some serious fare.

Here are some reviews on where we ate and what we chowed down on while we were there. This post will include only meals, but snacks and other excitements will come later (it’s so much to go over!)

Cafe Amelie: The first restaurant we ate at after our flight, we couldn’t pass up the romantic atmosphere or the amazing ratings on Yelp. With a beautiful courtyard full of lush trees, this spot is perfect for any meal of the day. For lunch my boyfriend ordered the shrimp and grits and I stuck with the amelie oysters. Both dishes were simple in idea (like most southern cuisine) but were extremely well-done.

Court of the Two Sisters: Though I heard amazing things about their endless brunch buffet, this place was simply amazing for dinner too. We went here the first night and even by the end of the trip we both knew it was still our favorite. It has an upscale and romantic vibe with a slightly pricey menu, but the food is to-die-for traditional creole cuisine. We both went for the 4-course prix fixe meal which includes soup (try the gumbo!), salad, an entree (I went for the veal topped with lump crab meat) and a dessert (bread pudding with rum sauce please).

Cochon Butcher: A trendy and casual spot perfect for lunch, not to be confused with it’s  sophisticated parent restaurant next door Cochon. It sit’s in the cool Arts District with warehouses galore. We both ordered the muffuletta sandwich which is a classic NOLA food and the mac and cheese as a side (don’t skip it – seriously). A muffuletta is basically an Italian meats sandwich topped with chopped peppers and olives.

Willa Jean: A well-known spot for bomb brunch, I was throughly impressed with how well the southerners pulled off my favorite meal of the week. Willa Jean is a bakery counter turned restaurant. This meal consisted of banana bread AND biscuits to start followed with avocado toast and chocolate chip cookies. Safe to say one it was also one of my favorite spots we visited.

Parkway Bakery & Tavern: This place is so famous for Po’ Boys that even Obama visited during his presidency. The atmosphere is quaint and has that small-town neighborhood feel. On a Sunday afternoon locals were lined up with their whole family to get a bite. I got the Surf and Turf which has roast beef with gravy topped with fried shrimp; and yes it was overwhelming but amazing.

Sylvain: One of the trendy hot-spots located in the heart of the French Quarter, we put our name in and waited 3 hours while exploring for a table at legendary Sylvain. The food did not disappoint. Really well done American fair with an upscale twist. For warmer nights they have a really cool back patio for dining as well.  [Photo Credit]

Stanley: The very last morning we got an early breakfast before heading to the airport. Located right on historic Jackson Square in the French Quarter, Stanley was chic and classic with an overly-greasy and perfect southern menu.

 

Is your mouth watering yet?

 

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Naples (FL)

There is no denying the power of warm weather, sun and the beach. It refreshes your skin, your hair, your attitude. A weekend away in Naples helped jump start me into the warm weather mentality (now that New York has finally decided to not be deadly cold).

A saturday morning farmers market on 3rd Avenue was small but fabulous. We ended up finding paleo belgian waffles for my gluten free and lactose free friend from Epiphany bakery.

All of the photos turned out blog worthy even though they were shot on my iPhone 5s (crazy right?).

 

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New Orleans Cemetery Walk

 

One of the most talked about spots in New Orleans, besides the food of course, are the above ground cemeteries that reside in the Garden District amongst sprawling southern mansions. We were super lucky when we arrived around 3pm, and not knowing that they close at that time, the gatekeeper offered to take us on one last walking tour with a small group before closing.

Despite being morbid, Lafayette Cemetery #1 sits right across from the famous Commander’s Palace restaurant and was such an interesting place to learn about. Many movies and TV shows have been shot at these cemeteries.

When you take the time to explore the Garden District on your next New Orleans trip I would definitely take the few minutes to stop into one of these cemeteries!

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Wrought-Iron Thoughts

 

 

 

I have a PSA: After a refreshing, simple, laid-back long weekend in New Orleans I have to announce that everyone should try to get the chance to go visit this amazing city at least once. Everything from the southern accents, to the abundance of seafood and all things fried, to the uneven cobblestone sidewalks and warehouses turned new … it all enchanted me.

More to come are some reviews and shots of the restaurants we went to, as long as some of the amazing local cuisines we ate. But for now, I wanted to post some raw, non-edited photos of the French Quarter.

Originally the foundations of New Orleans, the French Quarter was the only piece of the city that existed. The city was switched in the hands of control between the French, Spanish, and Americans and has a ton of culturally significant leftovers to show for it. Including these amazing buildings.

The neighborhood itself is full of art galleries, lively stores and restaurants, and a couple of tourist traps dotted in amongst the gems.

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