Spring Break Day 2: Santa Barbara

This post is almost two months late, but I like keeping record. With my hard drive breaking down 5 years ago, which contained almost 10 years of photos and documents, I only recently recovered them by gracious tech-savvy friends/acquaintances. Now I keep multiple accounts online to backup my photos. I pay a small fee every month for Google Drive for 100 GB storage space in which I’m more selective about what I save. I also pay an annual fee for Flickr which has unlimited storage space (but the site often freezes or takes too long when uploading large batches), and lastly I have this blog, which also collects an annual fee for limited storage. Prices to pay for memories to keep. The tech-savvy acquaintance who fixed my hard drive recommended saving files on my iCloud or some sort of online storage space because physical hard drives will eventually break down and they will most likely not last forever. Shocking! I still feel iffy about saving files online, because it too feels temporary and unreliable for the long-run.

Moving on to the main content!

Santa Barbara: We stayed at Hotel Californian and they were so thoughtful to put out milk and cookies for Elaine with a personal note to our family. Elaine LOVES hotels and she looks forward to staying at a hotel during vacation more than anything else we do. She loved Hotel Californian so much, the first thing she did was write a note about how much she loved hotels. haha. Also, the kid’s size robe and slippers! So cute. We only stayed one night, but hopefully we can visit again and stay longer to enjoy their amenities. I brought swimming suits to maybe enjoy the pool, but the weather was either too cold or rainy. That evening, we walked over to Bluewater Grill where we enjoyed tasty seafood. It was cold and we were tired from running around Solvang all day, so we went back to the hotel to relax the rest of the evening. The next morning, we walked a few blocks to Helena Avenue Bakery. They had a great pastry selection and breakfast options. I ordered a sesame bagel and coffee while Y ordered their famous green eggs and ham biscuit. We then walked along the pier and decided to stop by the aquarium. It was a bit small, but it was something to do. The rain had stopped at this point and after we checked out of the hotel, we decided to ride the surrey bike along the beach. It was pleasant but quite strenuous for just the three of us. We ended our stay in Santa Barbara with a quick treat from McConnell’s ice cream. They have a few locations around L.A. but we’ve never been and now we are fans.

Next post: Ojai

Trip to the Bay: Day 2: Berkeley and Oakland

Sunday was spent at church for most of the day. When we were members at the church years ago, my husband and I served on the kitchen team where we prepared lunch after service once every month. Our designated menu item was meatball sub sandwiches and  people either loved it so much they’d pack a ziplock bag full of meatballs to eat for lunch the following week or tolerated it enough to fill their stomachs as a snack/meal. It was known as a “church meal” and we wouldn’t order it or seek after it anywhere outside of church. As mentioned in a previous post, we last visited the Bay two years ago, and during that Sunday we happened to visit on the meatball sub Sunday and my husband and I had a good laugh about it. According to the church members, that was the last time they served meatball subs and they hadn’t eaten it since. That is, until we visited again this past July. Two years later, the meatballs greeted us as though it knew we were coming, welcoming us with its marina sauce and toasted bread. Just like the olden days.

Babies had turned into kids, kids had turned into teens, teens had entered college, and familiar faces were mixed with new. Of course, we had also changed…

After church, we stopped by Artís Coffee on 4th Street, a street we often visited for eye-shopping and walks. The coffee shop was new and spacious, although we couldn’t find any seating indoors because of all the people chatting or studying/working that Sunday afternoon.

We transferred hotels to Claremont Club and Spa for the last two nights. It was a nice hotel and they had some recent renovations done to their rooms. I especially liked the bathroom (not pictured) because it was white-marbled from floor to sink to shower tiles, and it looked very fancy and clean. But it was also very cold. *Note to self: for any house renovation, don’t install marble floors; instead, install floor heaters. ;) The hotel itself was massive and they had tennis courts that were always busy.

Later we grabbed dinner near the hotel, a local spot called La Mediterranee, which has good Armenian food. The reviews on Yelp aren’t great, but the food and atmosphere hasn’t changed, and personally, I really like it and I missed the cinnamon-y chicken cilicia. I’ve never found it anywhere else. After dinner, we stopped by our past favorite ice-cream shop: Ici. One time they had a flavor called ‘mint cookie,’ which was a mint flavored ice cream with oreo cookies blended into it. The cookies weren’t crunchy but almost chewy in texture. So good, but we had only tried it that one time and never caught it again on their rotating menu. Their solid and can’t-go-wrong flavor is the ‘earl grey’ but I also like their affogatos. This time around, I tried the ‘coffee cookie’ (I think that’s what it was called) and it was also very good.

We ate so much, we wanted to take a walk and enjoy the rest of the evening before heading back to the hotel. College Avenue would have been the ideal place since we were already there, but all the shops were closed by the time we finished our ice cream (I had forgotten how most shops close by 7pm), so we decided to head over to Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland. The sun was setting and people were out and about enjoying the last bit of the weekend, talking, dancing, walking their dogs, jogging, and even riding a gondola on the lake.

Trip to the Bay: Day 1: Cypress Tree Tunnel and the Golden Gate Bridge

For our anniversary we decided to take a trip to the Bay area for a 4-day weekend. Our last visit was two years ago and it seemed like a good time to visit old friends and familiar places. The Bay will always have a soft spot in our hearts and we are turning out to be the sentimental types.

We stayed at Emeryville Hyatt Place for two nights. The hotel didn’t exist when we lived in the area five years ago, so it’s relatively new and clean, and decently priced. They provided free breakfast every morning (as does the sister branch Hyatt House next door), so that’s a definite plus especially if you have little ones who wake up hungry. The rooms were spacious and clean and the staff were friendly even during its busy breakfast and checkout hours.

Saturday: Elaine was looking forward to seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, which was the only thing she knew about in San Francisco. Unfortunately, Karl the fog was back and blocked our view of the bridge. (Oh, that Karl!) We drove up to the viewing area across the bridge and our view turned out to be a grey-white wall. A typical happening for us, I’d say.

We hung around Sausalito for a quick break, grabbed a couple sandwiches to eat later, then we drove up to Point Reyes to see the cypress tree tunnel. I tried to incorporate a few new places to visit and eat during our trip, and the tree tunnel was one of them, recommended by my mother who visited in the 80s.

After the long drive to and from the tree tunnel, we headed back to the city to get a better view of the Golden Gate Bridge at Fort Point. Most people were heading to the overlook, but my tip would be to pass the area a little further down and drive to Fort Point (see the Seven Places to Gaze at the Golden Gate Bridge). It’s less crowded and you get a grand view of the bridge from water level.

The weather was cold and foggy, which is typical San Francisco weather, but we were exhausted by this point and didn’t feel like walking up and down the steep hills with an irritable toddler. So we headed back to Emeryville and grabbed dinner at Yuzu Ramen and Broffee. Local, low key, no line, good food. That’s one thing we really missed.