life · photos · travels

This Weekend in Photos: January 23-26 – Ventura + Santa Barbara

santa barbara palm trees

Adam and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary this past weekend, and decided to head up to Santa Barbara for a couple of nights.

Before deciding on where we’d go away for the weekend, I was actually in touch with Rachel, from My Two Pitties, who told me she’d be down in Southern California to visit her family. She let me know she’d be in Ventura, and since I’ve been dying to meet her and her two adorable pit bulls, and take Maeby to explore other parts of California, I knew I wanted to meet up with her. Finding out that Adam and I would be able to get a great rate on the Fess Parker Doubletree Hilton Resort through my work confirmed that we would be heading up to Santa Barbara on Saturday afternoon, stopping in Ventura on the way to tire Maeby out, and leaving on Monday.

Saturday

ventura dogs on beach

ventura dogs beach

dogs on beach ventura

dog running on beach in ventura

We met up at a beach for humans (shh, don’t tell anyone), and it was absolutely gorgeous. The weather was perfect, the waves were huge, and it was great meeting Rachel! Kaya and Norman, the two pitties pictured above with Maeby, are exactly as Rachel described them. Kaya was overly-fixated on her tennis ball, and Norman was just the sweetest thing ever. He and Maeby chased each other around, while Kaya buried her tennis ball in the sand. It was so great meeting someone who loves their dogs as much as we love Maeby, and Adam was happy to have someone to talk about movies with.

After rinsing Maeby off, we said our goodbyes and made the short drive up to our hotel in Santa Barbara.

When my coworker set up our hotel room, she notified them it was our anniversary. Right after we got to our room, we heard a knock on the door and were given some champagne! It was such a nice surprise, but the card was addressed to Mr. and Mrs. [my last name], since the reservation was under my name, and you know, we’re not married, so it made us laugh.

fess parker anniversary champagne

Adam and I took it easy before dinner, and Maeby fell asleep sitting up. I guess her time at the beach wore her out!

dog sleeping sitting up

We grabbed dinner at Julienne. As much as Adam and I wanted to take pictures of our food, we kept forgetting to because we were so excited to eat when each course came out (we did a four-course menu for $55 a person – such a good deal). Hands down, it was the best meal either of us have ever had.

Sunday

Maeby and I started our day off with a run along the beach, down to the harbor.

santa barbara running

santa barbara harbor

dog running path santa barbara

It was already pretty warm out, but I really enjoyed how beautiful it was. I know Maeby enjoyed our run too – there were a lot of people and other dogs out walking and running.

In the afternoon, Adam and I grabbed a couple of appetizers and drinks at Santa Barbara FisHouse (so good!) and walked down Stearns Wharf.

stearns wharf santa barbara

santa barbara seagulls

photo 3 copy 2

santa barbara panorama

santa barbara bird

We spent the rest of our afternoon just taking it easy, and at night, Adam and I had dinner at Finch and Fork. While most of the reviews were for brunch, the dinner menu looked really good and we weren’t disappointed. Definitely another place worth trying if you’re visiting Santa Barbara!

Monday

Took Maeby for a walk along the beach before heading out…

santa barbara sunrise

…and arrived home in the early afternoon. Maeby’s PetBox was waiting for her, and she capped off her long weekend away with new toys and treats.

dog toys petbox

It’s back to work and back to reality tomorrow, but it was so, so nice to have a weekend away.

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I also wanted to note that I’ve shared this post through Running ‘N’ Reading’s Weekend Update! As always, thanks for hosting!

How was your weekend? If you could have a weekend away anywhere right now, where would you go?

photos · travels

This Weekend in Photos: November 7-9 – London Edition

In case you missed it, I spent the last week in Brighton for work. Despite spending a semester abroad in London, I had never been to Brighton. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but that’s because I didn’t expect it to be as much of a city as it is. It’s still full of hustling and bustling, and its pier and proximity to the ocean make it a fun place to visit. And, like London, it’s very walkable. Most of my colleagues live within a 10-minute walking distance to work, and even those who live “further away” have a 20-25 minute walk to work everyday.

On Friday afternoon, we took the train from Brighton to London and after finally making it to our hotel, we grabbed dinner around the corner from our hotel at a Persian restaurant and then popped in and out of souvenir shops.

Saturday

Saturday morning, we woke up early, enjoyed breakfast at our hotel, and then spent the morning walking around Hyde Park.

hyde park london uk

My two bosses headed out around noon, and then I took the tube to my hotel, the Radisson Blu Edwardian Grafton on Tottenham Court Road.

I chose this hotel because of its proximity to where I lived when I studied abroad (I love the area and wanted to experience life there again), but also because of how close it was to the tube station. The Warren Street station is only a few hundred feet away, and provides direct access to the Victoria and Northern lines, and thus pretty easy access to the line that takes you to the airport (which I knew I’d need this morning).

I arrived early but my room was already available, so I brought my stuff up to my room and then headed down to the Thames so I could see the iconic sights that you’ll find there.

I walked past the Somerset House…

somerset house uk

And found myself near the London Eye and Big Ben and Parliament…

london eye

big ben london

big ben and parliament

And then I decided to head towards Gabriel’s Wharf to grab a bite to eat.

I thought back to the last night I had been in London in 2009, and that’s when I remembered the place where I got an amazing crepe with nutella and banana. I stopped in at House of Crepes and apparently my timing was perfect.

Just after I sat outside, it began to pour, but I was under an awning so it was actually quite nice. And then a minute or two after that?

fireworks in london

Fireworks!

It was apparently the Lord Mayor’s Show, and the fireworks on South Bank explained why there were so many people lining themselves up along the Thames.

After the fireworks show, I headed back to the hotel to take it easy, which worked out well, since the rain continued my whole trip home and throughout the night.

Sunday

I spent the whole day hitting all of the major tourist destinations.

Spitalfields Market (my favorite market in London, that I used to visit almost every weekend)…

spitalfields market

St. Paul’s Cathedral (with church bells ringing loudly, as church had just gotten out)…

st pauls cathedral london

The British Museum (where you can find the famous Rosetta Stone)…

british museum london

My old flat (I miss this place a ton, as well as my flatmates)…

central london flat

london bricks

Russell Square…

russell square london fountain

russell sq london

russell square london

A Paddington Bear outside of the British Museum (as part of the Paddington Trail)…

london paddington bear

Regent Street…

regent street london

And Oxford Street (the “Fifth Avenue” of London)…

cobblestone streets london

oxford street christmas decorations

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All in all, an incredible weekend.

I’m spending today flying back to San Diego, but stay tuned because I have a great giveaway coming up later this week!

How was your weekend?

photos · travels

Yesterday’s Lunch Break

brighton uk pier

Just dropping in to share a photo from yesterday’s lunch break here in Brighton, UK.

I’ve been here since Sunday for work and meetings, meetings, time at the pub and more meetings. It’s been a little gray, a little rainy, and definitely colder than SoCal, but the sun was out yesterday despite some clouds, and I’m loving the chillier weather (this is what it should be like this time of year!).

Today’s another day full of meetings, but it’s going to be a great and productive day.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

attractions · photos · travels

This Weekend in Photos: August 22-24 – Vegas!

What a weekend. I’ll keep it short, with a lot of photos…but basically we left for Vegas on Friday morning, drove all afternoon and met up with a group of 10 other people for a weekend away. We all stayed at the Wynn / Encore, which was definitely a pretty big step up from Excalibur, the only other hotel I’ve stayed at in Vegas. We’ve already talked about meeting up again in November for one of our friend’s birthdays, and mine as well, so that should tell you how awesome this weekend was.

Friday

Aside from the traffic, the drive out was beautiful…

drive out to vegas

And we stumbled upon this sign, which actually seems like a pretty cool place to pull off next time (the history of which also made me think of Oregon Trail)…

zzyzx road

We arrived at our hotel and got up to our room…

wynn casino interior wynn hotel room

It’s definitely the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at. And the view wasn’t so bad either…

view from wynn room

We met up with our friends at the pool, before we all headed back to our rooms to get ready for dinner and a night out.

fri night outfit

(This whole outfit was under $40! #wynning [do you see what I did there?])

I didn’t get a picture of where we went for dinner but just so you know, we went to La Cave in Encore. To say it was delicious would be an understatement; it was undoubtedly some of the best food I’ve ever had. Six of us split a bunch of different plates, but the stand-outs were the beef carpaccio, the beef filet crostini, the sea scallops, and the sirloin. 10/10, would recommend and if we are back at the Wynn in November, I would love to go again.

We got cabs to Paris

paris hotel

paris hotel1

 And bottle service at Chateau

chateau bar

chateau bar drinks

Where we had views of the Bellagio (and its fountains)…

view from chateau

And honestly? I was a little overwhelmed by the cost of doing bottle service but at the end of the night, I have to say it was completely worth it. We had so. much. fun. Our group was full of such fun people and we were all dancing and hanging out and it was the best.

A few of us headed back to the hotel around 3 and once Adam and I got back to our room, we immediately fell asleep.

Sunday

To put in perspective the kind of night we had before: Adam slept until 1:30 pm. I was up by 10, and spent the whole morning laying in bed watching Catfish on MTV. Once Adam got up, we headed down to gamble for a bit…

roulette at encore

Adam walked away from roulette $325 richer, and me $60 richer. I’d say it was a win. Then we met up with everyone else at the pool, many of whom were struggling just as much as Adam.

view from encore pool

Didn’t take any shots of the pool, as I thought that would be creepy, but here’s one view from the pool we hung out at at Encore. They have several pools, and we spent several hours relaxing poolside. We eventually all went back to our rooms to shower and get ready for dinner.

bartolotta at the wynn

Again, didn’t want to be that person, so here’s a quick shot from when we were all done eating. We ended up eating dinner at Bartolotta. This place was good, but in contrast to the night before, I didn’t really feel it was worth the cost of the food. The night before we got way more food, that I enjoyed a lot more. If you’re into seafood (and willing to pay a pretty penny), this place is probably right up your alley. But for me, as much as I liked the food, again, I didn’t think it was worth the price. I’d go again, but wouldn’t want to pay the prices.

After dinner all 12 of us squeezed into an Escalade (not sure how this happened, but it did) and we got a ride to the Stratosphere to view Vegas from the observation deck, and so some people could go on the rides up there. Since we had more the 10 people, we were able to get a group rate for $10 per person, as opposed to the regular $20 admission.

view from stratosphere

The views of Vegas from up there were absolutely stunning. It was really quite beautiful.

Most people stayed up there, got some drinks and went on some of the rides, but a few of us headed back down to the casino. I figured I had made $60 so I might as well keep going with only that amount. If I lost it, I’d break even, but it was worth a shot.

I somehow won another $40 at the roulette table, and decided it was time to stop since I had gotten to my goal of $100.

100 chip at the stratosphere

We got back to our hotel around 2, and set our alarms for 8 so we could get up and drive back to San Diego.

Sunday

No pictures from the drive, since I drove the whole way, but leaving early was totally worth it. By 3:00, we had picked up Maeby from Camp Run-A-Mutt (aka the best dog daycare in San Diego), bought all our produce for the week, gotten Chipotle, and unpacked.

I’d say the weekend was a success.

Have you ever been to Las Vegas? Did you do anything fun this weekend? What’s your favorite casino game? And why do people play Craps (your money goes so fast and it seems like your odds are pretty awful)?

photos · travels

This Weekend in Photos: August 1-3

As you might’ve seen on Friday, or if you follow me on Instagram, then you know I spent the weekend in Big Bear Lake, which is a mountain town about 2.5 hours northeast of San Diego.

big bear lake cabin view

The getaway was to celebrate one of our friends’ birthdays, and the cabin, which was supposed to fit 7 people, was instead full of a group of 15 of us on Friday night, and 11 of us on Saturday night. But with four bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a jacuzzi and big balcony, we had just enough room for a nice little weekend away from San Diego.

In the mountains, where it rained most of Saturday, I was reminded of New England and it made me miss it a lot. The rain was definitely welcome, since Southern California has been experiencing a significant drought, but it also made the weekend in the cabin a little more cozy.

Other highlights of the weekend? Spending time with great friends, making new friends, carne asada tacos, and some Magic Hat.

Maeby got to hang out with her best friend Lilo, and made a new friend, Swarley (obscure How I Met Your Mother reference).

new friends

And as for the rest of us?

I think this picture of Maeby on the way home summarizes how we all felt Sunday morning…

dog sleeping in car

Exhausted.

It was a good weekend away, and as always, it was so nice returning home to San Diego.

And now, the work week begins again…

Happy Monday!