Yosemite in a Day

Can I first just say WOW!? Matt and I have never been to Yosemite National Park but it’s always been on the bucket list. When his family planned a trip up to Mammoth Lakes, it wasn’t long before I realized Yosemite is only an hour north – and a beautiful drive at that.

Since we had a few days in Mammoth over Memorial Day Weekend, we cruised up to Yosemite early one morning and spent half the day “driking” around the park. [Driking is a term we made up which means drive hiking – our favorite way to explore. Drive a bit, stop when we see something too pretty to resist, get out and explore the area, repeat.]

Every part of the Yosemite we were able to see was absolutely stunning. The constantly changing terrain which was absolutely incredible. One moment, you’re in a lush green valley and the next you’re standing high up on top of a snowy mountain. I am so glad I brought layers!

Since we entered on the East side, we walked around Lembert Dome, Tuolumne Meadows, Ellery Lake, John Muir Trail and Olmsted Point.

Here are a few of my favorite stops during our short time in the park.

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Ellery Lake

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Lembert Dome

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Dana Fork/Tuolumne Meadows

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Ellery Lake

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Olmsted Point

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Lembert Dome

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Tuolumne Meadoes

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Lembert Dome

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Ellery Lake

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Lembert Dome

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Olmsted Point

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Lookout over Warren Fork heading East

 

 

ClaudettesCorner
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Guide to San Diego: Eat, Drink, & Be Merry

guide to SD

There are always new, funky-fresh, places popping up all over San Diego. It seems like everywhere you turn, there are a ridiculous amount of options for good eats, casual drinks and a great atmosphere. Since it can be a little overwhelming when people visit San Diego, I’ve compiled my favorite spots when it comes to eating & drinking, South to North.

Just keep in mind that I’ve only lived in Bird Rock in La Jolla and Cardiff-by-the-Sea in North County, so most of my picks are located around those areas, although I do have some favorites in other areas as well.

EAT

Dinner

We cook at home a lot but when we do end up out to dinner or ordering takeout, my diet usually consists of Mexican food, sushi or pizza, so that’s where my suggestions lie.

Appetizers/Happy Hour

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Wine Steals – Cardiff

  • Turquoise Cellars – Pacific Beach. Trivia, great specials, and a wine bar. Need I say more? Oh, and they have yummy acai bowls in the morning.
  • Beaumont’s – Bird Rock. Cute outdoor patio, beachy atmosphere and good happy hour specials. They have live music Thursday-Sunday too.
  • Wonderland – Ocean Beach. You get a panoramic ocean view of OB and the pier AND it’s a mermaid bar. I’ve also heard their brunch is bomb.
  • OB Warehouse – Ocean Beach. If you’re in OB, you have to check this place out. The kitchen is located on the inside of an airbus and the decor is just fantastic.
  • Cucina Enoteca – Del Mar. I didn’t even know I could eat a squash blossom but they did it and it’s amazing. Plus, the decor is totally delightful and will leave you feeling inspired to redecorate. Caution: You may question your own color/pattern judgement as it’s probably not up to par with their designers’.
  • Kettner Exchange – Little Italy. I’m too poor to afford dinner here but I’m sure it’s really good. However, I dig it for a cool vibe, fancy drink and a yummy app. Plus, they have an upscale outdoor swinging hammock.
  • Wine Steals – Cardiff. One of my all-time favorite spots. They have 5 for $5 tastings on Wednesdays plus trivia, live music on Thursdays and 10 for $10 tastings on Saturdays. Clearly I come here a lot which is why it’s on my top four places to eat in Cardiff-by-the-Sea.
  • Solace and the Moonlight Lounge – Encinitas. I’m not really into the dinner here but their happy hour specials and cheese platters are right up my alley.
  • Union Kitchen & Tap – Encinitas. Although my boyfriend calls it “Onion”, this has been our go-to happy hour spot to take friends visiting since it’s a really cool place with an indoor/outdoor chill vibe.

Dessert

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Baked Bear

I’m not a huge dessert person so my selection below is limited, but both are very desired spots in San Diego.

  • Cravory Cookies – Point Loma. I only recently became aware of this spot after my friend bought a bunch of cookies for another friend’s birthday. Wow. Just wow.
  • Baked Bear – Pacific Beach. Ice cream sandwich made with cookies and ice cream. This place still has a line out the door on certain days.

Brunch

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Caroline’s

  • Queenstown Public House – Little Italy. You essentially get to eat in a super cute house or on the adorable front yard/patio. It’s perfect for a brunch date with your girls or your guy.
  • Bareback Bar & Grill – Pacific Beach. My favorite Bloody Mary’s in town. And the food is so good – burgers galore and you can’t go wrong with anything you get. Every time my friends meet up in PB to do some day drinking, we start here with a hearty meal and some sea breeze.
  • Leilani’s Café – Pacific Beach. For a Hawaiian-style extremely filling breakfast.
  • Caroline’s – La Jolla. Ocean views while you sip on a bloody and down your choice of breakfast. Just come early and expect to wait for a seat. Parking is a nightmare and you order at the counter, but it’s so worth it.

Smoothies and Acai Bowls

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Seaside Smoothie

If you’ve never heard of an acai bowl, you must try it because it’s a San Diego staple.

  • Seaside Smoothie – Bird Rock. My go-to is the guava strawberry smoothie but they also make great acai bowls. Make sure you’re not in a rush because the wait can be long…and I mean really long, but you can browse the surf shop while you wait.
  • Amazona Acai Café – Bird Rock. Matt and I used to come here on hungover Sundays for their smoothies and acai bowls.
  • Sambazon – Cardiff. This is my favorite weekend treat since it’s a tad expensive. I get the mango coconut bowl with strawberry instead of mango and it is ah-mazing.

DRINK

Although we don’t often eat dinner out, I definitely don’t skimp on drinking out. And thus, these are my favorite suggestions aside from the happy hour section above, which obviously also includes drinking.

Breweries

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Ballast Point – Mira Mesa

There are a TON of micro-breweries in San Diego, so it’s hard to choose my favorites, but I’ll take a stab.

  • Belching Beaver – North Park. We came here for my birthday as a stop on the beer crawl and everyone absolutely loved it. They have some fun stouts like peanut butter and milk for those of you who are into that sort of thing.
  • Culture – Solana Beach or Ocean Beach. The one I usually go to is situated on Cedros Ave in Solana Beach, which is a super cute little street for some window shopping and farmers market-ing. Plus, there’s a food truck out back with some healthier options. My favorite? Culture’s Mosaic IPA but they also have a grapefruit Mosaic IPA which I think is a lot better than Sculpin’s version.
  • Stone Brewing – Point Loma. This place is awesome, huge and has a great outdoor patio area. I actually haven’t gone to the one in Escondido, but I’ve heard it’s even cooler.
  • Green Flash – Mira Mesa. This is a huge brewery/tasting room and they actually do yoga on Sundays inside. Just don’t do the tour with a group of a bunch of your drunk friends.
  • Ballast Point – Little Italy or Miramar. I’m a huge Ballast Point fan and am pretty bummed they sold out to “The Man”, but I’m too addicted to their Fathom IPL and Sculpin to boycott them. I personally like the Mira Mesa spot better since there’s way more seating and a warmer vibe, but they are both worth going to. If you like spicy, the Habanero Sculpin is a must-try!

Coffee

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Lofty Coffee

I’m more of a tea drinker but I do appreciate a fancy latte or a good ol’ black cup of joe every once in awhile.

Dive Bars

I wouldn’t say these are exactly “dive bars” in terms of being gross and dodgy, but if you’re looking for a local, less crowded, low key bar, these are good choices. Since you generally have to be a local to know a good dive bar, I’m only suggesting my personal favs in La Jolla and Cardiff.

La Jolla

  • West End. It gives me warm & fuzzies just thinking about the West End. Possibly one of the crappiest bars in PB/La Jolla area, it is also possibly my favorite. Juke box, pool, darts…the classics.
  • Shack Bar & Grill. Great for late night pool and a greasy snack.
  • Cass Street Bar and Grill. Another great spot for pool, shuffle board, or trivia.
  • Latitude 32. I think I’m seeing a correlation between needing a pool table to be considered a good dive bar in my opinion. They also brew their own beer so you gotta try that of course!

North County

Nighttime Drinks

These range from casual drinks to going out going out to both. I’ll specify.

Downtown

  • Tipsy Crow. Three floors that take you from casual pre-gaming all the way to post-party dance your-pants-off-stage. Starting at the 3rd floor, it’s classy with a fireplace and all. Second floor is a normal bar with a fun loud atmosphere. After a few drinks, you take your crew to the 3rd floor for some classic throwbacks that are guaranteed to force you to get your groove on. Pick your poison or choose all three like I always hope to do.
  • Moonshine Flats. Live bands and line dancing all night long. This bar also has different sections including pool and a faux outdoor area with lawn games so you can pick your poison.
  • Rustic Root. This one’s a little fancier and thus better for casual drinks. The roof deck is a very cool spot.
  • Shout House. Dualing pianists, great songs, and a lively crowd. Shout House is a great way to start your night. Just make sure to get there early if you want a good seat!

Pacific Beach

  • Duck Dive. This is my friend Kevin’s favorite bar and we always end up there at some point, so it has to make the list. The dance floor can get pretty wild late night.
  • Backyard. This place is pretty mellow from what I’ve experienced but I also have only gone during the day and in the early hours of the night. They have a cool fire pit table in the back and two different bars.
  • Tavern. Want to watch sports? Want to meet other singles on a Tuesday night? Want to grind it out on the dance floor? Different hours for different agendas. Tavern is the answer.

La Jolla

Daytime Drinks

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Bareback Bar & Grill

Since I’m too old to stay up past 11 pm now, I live for a good day drinking sesh. There are tons of fun places to grab a beer and enjoy the sun in San Diego.

Downtown

  • The Deck Moonshine Flats. They have an awesome faux outdoor patio area that’s set up like a giant backyard full of outdoor games.
  • Bubs. Perfect for a mellow group outing for some beers. If you want to watch the game (whatever sport that may be), it’s probably on.

Encinitas

  • Bier Garden. I can’t seem to ever be successful with my food order but nevertheless, I absolutely love this spot for everything from brunch to happy hour to Saturday night out.
  • Shelter. When it’s nice out (which is pretty much always), they open the roof which makes it a very fun day drinking spot. If you’re lucky, you can snag one of the lounge areas.
  • Union Kitchen & Tap. This is on my happy hour list above but it’s also a great spot for casual weekend drinks.

Pacific Beach/Mission Beach

  • PB Shoreclub. They now have a roof deck which is great to hang out at. Just beware of the Vodka Redbull Slushy…they’re a staple but they are deadly so share it with a friend
  • Bare Back Grill. Also on my brunch list, this is an awesome spot to start your day drinking excursion.
  • The Local. It can be hard to find a seat, especially on the deck outside, but it’s definitely a fun spot for beers and food.
  • Baja Beach Cafe. If you like margaritas, they have a ridiculous amount of choices and you can sip yours right on the boardwalk.

 

Now go be merry!

 

Cheers Claudette 2

4 Days in Ireland 

20151128_151326As the second part to my Euro Trip blog on Copenhagen, I’m finally tackling our trip to Ireland. We had the best time ever and I’m now crazy about Irish people…they are just so freaking awesome.

But first, some realizations…

  • People say “it’s so green!” and it really is. More green than you can even imagine or describe.
  • Happy cows do not come from California. They come from Ireland. I was even a little envious of them roaming around beautiful lush hills, stopping where they please. When I compare this to the crowded, stinky cow ranch you see off the 5 in California, there’s just no comparison.
  • Umbrellas are completely pointless. We bought two at a drug store and within literally two minutes of stepping back outside, Matt’s broke from the wind. I spent more time trying to reign my umbrella in than using it to avoid getting wet.
  • The weather is a bit bipolar. We expected rain the entire time, but what we got was random spouts of pouring rain, a sprinkle, and then nothing at all.
  • I’ve never heard Nirvana and Madonna more in my life…but I’m not complaining.
  • Sparkling water bottles are sold in more places than regular water bottles. We had two instances of thirstily grabbing the only kind of water bottle in the drug store, only to find it fizzing and sickenly sweet. For those of us who absolutely hate sparkling water, this is not the most pleasant thing to discover when you’re parched.
  • “The fish and chips are as good here as they are in America” – Old Guy on DART. Note taken.
  • Cab drivers only take cash, but practically everywhere else accepts card. We learned this the hard way on our way to the airport at 2:30 AM, even though we specifically requested a cab driver who took card.
  • I was hangry a lot. And yes, I mean hungry not hungry. Who knew finding food would be such an issue? Oddly enough, restaurants weren’t open when we needed them to be and snacks were hard to come by. I didn’t realize how much I take for granted the late night bar food and huge grocery stores we’re so accustomed to in America. On the flip side, all the bars we went to in Dublin stopped serving food before 9 pm (What?!?! Don’t they know they’re missing out on beaucoup bucks from drunkies wanting drunchies?) and grocery stores aren’t really existent. I found bananas one time the entire trip.

Now for our four day itinerary:

Day 1 – Cliffs of Moher Tour

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While we don’t generally like tours, we came to the conclusion that trying to get all the way to Cliffs of Moher on the opposite side of Ireland and see a couple other places along the way might be fairly difficult and stressful seeing as though you kind of have to be comfortable driving stick on the left side of the road. So we gave in and booked with Paddywagon Tours for the Cliffs of Moher Day Tour from Dublin. Great decision by the way…minus one minor scare.

After stopping for a quick breakfast at a market about 20 minutes outside of Dublin, we came up to a toll booth and our bus driver John says that we’re approaching a check point and everyone needs to get their passports out. The only problem was, we had left our passports in the safe at the hotel as we had every other day of our trip.

Commence extreme panic and heart dropping into stomach.

Everyone on the bus starts fiddling with their backpacks and this is about the time that Matt starts getting visibly angry. He hulks over to the driver and firmly explains that we weren’t told we’d need our passports for the trip. John continues with “Are you serious?! Ah, you’ve got to be kidding me.” Until John finally says “we’re still in Ireland, why would you need your passports?” Irish sarcasm at it’s finest.

Of course, Matt and John became BFFs from that moment on. We think.

Corcomroe Abbey

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Mini Cliffs of Moher

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Dingle 

There was only one option for lunch, so the line was a little absurd considering the fact that there were probably three other bus tours there are the same time. This was our first encounter with traditional Irish meals, which basically includes a heap of mashed potatoes, a hunk of meat and some type of vegetable, all smothered in gravy.

Cliffs of Moher

Annnnnd the grand finale…the Cliffs of Moher! We were scheduled to spend an hour and a half here but when we arrived, it was hard to see even twenty feet in front of us. My advice? Wait until closer to your trip to book this tour. That way, you can avoid the days that just show a dark cloud on your weather app.

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Bunratty Castle

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HQ Restaurant and Wine Bar

When we got back to our hotel around 8:30 pm, we were extremely hungry of course (but thank god for that enormous heavy lunch back in Dingle). We quickly realized that our hotel, The Clayton, wasn’t near any open restaurants/cafes/stores but luckily found a swanky wine bar that happened to still be serving dinner to mostly corporate types. Crisis averted.

Cheersing to a successful day, we decided to be lame and go all American with burgers, beers and fries. We also asked for mustard which is apparently extremely odd. Now, I’m not sure if this is because I was delirious from lack of sleep and overly hungry, but I’ve never had a better burger. But, I still think it’s because Ireland has super happy cows, so clearly their meat would also be superior.

Day 2 – Dublin Walking Tour

Matt routed a nice little walking tour of Dublin for our second day.

Temple Bar 

This street/area is quite controversial. All travel sites say “Yes! Go there” and all cab drivers and locals say “No! Avoid at all costs”. We had to check it out regardless of all the negative comments and I have to say that I thought it was great.

We went during the day when it wasn’t very crowded, shopped around, and grabbed a pint from The Temple Bar. They played live Irish music which we were told is not actually a normal thing in every day life for the Irish folk, much to Matt’s dismay. Either way, it was a good time. Night time is a different story as it gets really crowded and a little rowdy, so we didn’t stick around.

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St. Patricks Cathedral

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Dublin Castle Gardens

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Farmer Browns

For dinner, we headed over to Ballsbridge, near the rugby stadium. We stumbled on Farmer Browns, a cute little hipster joint. Again, I had one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, but this time it was chicken, so maybe their chickens are happier too? AND our waitress happened to have stayed in San Diego during her J1 a few years back, so we had a fun chat.

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Leinster vs. Ulster

Neither of us had ever been to a rugby match, which made this all the more exciting. We soon found out that Leinster is actually pronounced “Lahn-ster” and the go-to chant is “Leinster! Leinster! Leinster!”

In typical Matt fashion, he tried to start his usual “Let’s go BLANK” chant which works best with a team having two syllables, so Leinster was perfect. Not sure how this is possible, but it did not catch on. At all.

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We finished out the night with two guys we met at the end of the game, who took us to a bar downtown. Like I said, Irish people are so awesome and friendly.

Day 3 – Howth

When researching things to do in Ireland, I didn’t see much about Howth, but from what I did see, I thought it would be right up our alley. For 12 euro, we took the DART 30 minutes north and got off at the Howth junction which turned out to be the wrong stop, but we ended up finding our way to the right place after getting back on the train.

A quaint fisherman’s village, Howth was our favorite part of our European getaway. It’s no wonder their website is called HowthIsMagic.com.

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Cliff Walk

We strolled over to the cliffs where we could see Ireland’s Eye and Lambay Island. While we were hiking around the cliffs, the sun magically came out and no one else was around, making it a pretty romantic little adventure. 20151128_155849

St. Mary’s Abbey

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Fallon and Byrne

For dinner, we got fancy and tried Fallon and Byrne which was delicious. I also took advantage of the cute little shopping mart downstairs and grabbed some Irish-made chocolate to bring back for the fam.

To be honest, we were pretty spent after the past 7 days and planned on having an early night in, but our cab driver guilted us into going back out, which I am especially grateful for, since it turned out to be a blast.

Flannery’s

This place is awesome. They played hits from 3+ years ago all night and we made friends with a group of people who think it’s really hilarious we might have Donald Trump as our next president. They even started a Donald Trump chant that grew throughout the bar.

Day 4

Guinness Factory

I’m not ashamed to admit that I don’t like Guinness, but I was also told that it tastes completely different in Ireland. So completely right – it’s smooth like butter and probably just as filling, but it definitely tastes better in its authentic location. I also learned that it’s one of the lightest beers, at only 125 calories, which is surprising.

As far as the tour itself, it’s self-guided which we liked and the roof-top bar overlooking Dublin is especially cool. All around a must do whilst in Dublin.

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St. Stephen’s Green

We got here about 5 minutes too late, but I’m putting it on the itinerary anyway because there’s a tea room inside that sounds pretty awesome.

Olesya’s Wine Bar

This was the perfect last stop on our trip before we spent the remaining hours hulled up in our hotel relaxing and trying to stay awake until our 5:30 AM flight.

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I’d love to go back to Ireland eventually since there are so many other places to explore. So, until next time, Ireland!

 

ClaudettesCorner

 

 

4 Places to Eat in Cardiff-by-the-Sea

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I semi-recently made Cardiff-by-the-Sea my new home and couldn’t be any happier in this tiny, cute little neighborhood. One of my favorite things is walking over to “downtown” Cardiff and grabbing a bite to eat. Here are my favorite places to do just that:

1. Wine Steals

Let me tell you…I LOVE this place. The ambiance is great, the staff is awesome, the food is delicious and bonus…they have wine. Lots and lots of wine. As for my food recommendations, go specialty pizzas all the way. You really can’t go wrong with wine inspired pizzas with names like Sauvignon Blanc which boasts blush sauce, feta cheese, crumbled bacon, spinach, mozzarella, bell pepper & a red onion garnish.

If you enjoy wine tasting, but don’t feel like driving all the way to Temecula, try their $10 for 10 tastings on Saturdays. Wednesday is trivia night AND you get $5 for 5 tastings during happy hour. Score!

2. Lourdes

I love Mexican food, so of course I had to find my go-to spot. This place is great and definitely a staple in my diet now. Each item is huge, it’s cheap and it’s ridiculously good. I take my grilled chicken burrito wet and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

3. Bull Taco

Tacos. Right on the cliff. Overlooking the water. What could be better? Well…probably the tacos, since they aren’t anything special. But let’s be honest, we’re paying for the view.

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4. Seaside Market Cardiff Crack

You may have heard of this and thought to yourself, what the heck is that? Technically, it’s a Burgundy Pepper Tri Tip, but locally it’s known as Cardiff Crack.

You might be thinking that you’ve had great tri tip before, but this is on another level. It’s so good, that it even has it’s own website. You can buy some right off the grill outside the market (make sure to check inside while you’re at it) or take it home to grill for your family and friends.


Do you have a favorite food spot in Cardiff? Comment below!

Cheers!

Claudette