WHOA lansi

francophile, oenophile, logophile, turophile

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La Manzanilla: Take Two

La Manzanilla

A couple years ago, a big group of us headed down to a small town in Mexico for one of the best week-long beach vacations I’ve ever had. We came home vowing it wouldn’t be the last time we spent time in La Manzanilla. & this winter, we made good on that promise.

Despite being hit by Hurricane Patricia in the fall, the town was almost exactly how I remembered it – that is to say, perfect. I didn’t think we would ever top our 2014 trip, but an extra couple days in paradise certainly didn’t hurt. This time, we stayed for 9 days instead of 7 & the extra couple of days were really lovely.

La Manzanilla

First photo always has to be of the view. I mean, can you blame me?

La Manzanilla

Unreal sunsets every night

Unreal sunsets every night

Settling into our villa

Settling into our villa

Starting things off right with tequila, duh

Starting things off right with tequila, duh

Walk into town

Walk into town


Estrellas at Palapa Joe’s

Palapa Joe's

We had a slightly different group this time, but the key players were the same. We had a full house, but everyone got along really well again. Most of us are pretty low key & everyone felt comfortable either joining the majority or opting out to do their own thing. It worked out really well, & we usually met up at one of the palapas on the beach at some point in the day.


To the beach!


first margarita



mexico chill

dutch boy in mexico

boys being boys



beach dance class

mexican town

beach days


Heather killing it on the SUP


Beach Walks




My beach bae




Catching waves



Most of our days consisted of sitting on the beach, eating, drinking, reading, & catching some sun. I rarely go more than five minutes without thinking about food, & La Manzanilla certainly doesn’t disappoint here. From the spicy garlic pulpo (octopus) to the incredibly addictive Breakfast BLTs to the street-side tacos, everything we ate was incredible. Most of it wasn’t fancy, but the fresh components of every dish really made our meals shine. My favourite meal was probably the pulpo at Azul – it was the most tender octopus I’ve ever eaten. I loved it so much, I ate it twice & am now wishing I’d had it a couple more times. There was just so much great food to try!


Pedro’s Fish Tacos


Delicious margs all day long


Azul’s pulpo is the stuff dreams are made of. Serioiusly.

Street Tacos

Street Tacos

Street Tacos


Street Enchiladas hitting it out of the park

Street Meat

N waiting on his street meat

While most of our days were spent relaxing, we did have a couple different activities planned during our stay. The first was brunch with D’s family at the cutest spot down the beach. We did the same a couple years ago. Once again, the food was fantastic & the atmosphere was amazing. I mean, does it get any better than brunch with an ocean view? Afterwards, we opted to walk back to town along the beach, the same as last year. It’s a trek, but we enjoyed it once again.

brunch crew

Our crew at brunch

boutique hotel

The hotel


Gimme all the chilaquiles

beach walk

Beach Walk

beach walk

beach walk

Love Birds

beach walk

Therapy Hotel

beach walk

The town also has a crocodile sanctuary, so this year we decided to brave the walk through it. For a few dollars, we got to walk along a boardwalk for some  jawdropping  croc sightings. Most of these guys were HUGE. I have to admit, it felt a little sketchy. At the end of our little walk, we were treated to an opportunity to hold a baby croc. It was totally unexpected in a few ways, but namely that he was SO soft.

mexican streets

I love this street on the way to the cocodrilos







tiny guy


one of many sketchy suspension bridges


baby croc



so many babies!


One of our friends also celebrated his thirtieth birthday. We rang in his birthday with a lovely sunset bar dinner followed by drinks & games (& way too many tequila shots). Not a bad way to spend your birthday, if you ask me!

sunset bar

Really tough to grab a drink here


My fav Mexico drink. Also the most dangerous.

sunset bar

Birthday Dinner

sunset bar

sunset bar

Sunset bar delivers an amazing sunset

sunset bar

sew kewt

sunset bar

sunset bar

The two lovebird & their wives

sunset bar


sunset bar

sunset bar


beer fridge

How we roll on vacation.

Overall, it was an incredible vacation with great company. This little town is the perfect beach vacation! The incredible food & beautiful accommodations keep me daydreaming about our next trip down even months later. I can’t imagine going to an all inclusive again now after the two incredible experiences we’ve had in La Manzanilla.

mexico dogs

Pups on a roof

mexico streets

main street

la manzanilla

la manzanilla

great breakfast spot

old truck

la manzanilla

end tan

final tans

It was pretty hard to limit this post in terms of photos – this place is so photogenic, & we had a fantastic time. It would’t have been the same without this crew though. #squadgoals

squad goals

squad goals

squad goals

Thanks for the best winter getaway a girl could ask for friends! (& if you made it to the end of this post, congrats! 😉 )

VanCity in the Summer


After using last year’s vacation for a pretty big trip to Europe, we knew we’d have to stick a little closer to home this year. So when my childhood friend chose to have her wedding at home in Vancouver, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to spend a little more time in one of my favourite cities. Although I’m technically from the lower mainland, I haven’t spent a lot of time in the actual city of Vancouver. It’s always been a pretty quick overnight, giving us the opportunity to grab dinner, drinks, & maybe some brunch the next morning.

In order to have a full, uninterrupted day of exploring downtown, we decided to leave a day earlier than usual. We bunked in a friend, like we have in the past. I briefly considered a few hotels, but there’s nothing better than staying with someone you know. She also happens to live in an incredible location & is an awesome hostess – making us feel totally welcome from the minute we arrived. I’m hoping we can return the favour sometime soon (Stampede, Sash?! Do it!).


Morning at 49th Parallel on Main



Perfect patio weather for coffee & a donut

We started the day at a nearby local coffee shop, 49th Parallel. Not only is their coffee fantastic, but they also serve amazing Lucky’s Doughnuts in a fantastic little shop. We split an apple bacon fritter on the patio before heading back to the house to get ready for the day.

As it was a gorgeous summer day, we opted to walk to Granville Island for lunch (or pre-lunch? We had sushi plans for later too). The walk from Mount Pleasant to Granville Island was a nice half hour stroll. We arrived ready to sample some of the delicious food at the market, having worked up a bit of an appetite during our walk.



SInce we had plans to get sushi later, so we opted to split a smoked salmon bagel to tide us over until then. I love Montreal style bagels & was pleasantly surprised to find these were pretty close to the real thing – something I rarely notice this far West. We ate them outside on a bench, overlooking the harbour, & fighting off the feisty pigeons. Those little buggers will fight you to get their hands on any little scrap. Guard your precious food closely!



Notice the seagull patiently waiting for some scraps



It turned out to be a pretty eventful morning for us – we officially closed on our house as we munched on our bagel. Luckily, Granville Island Brewing was a few steps away, so we made our way over for a few celebratory beers.


Officially homeowners!

From there, we hopped on a water taxi downtown. For a few bucks, we were ferried across False Creek to the Aquatic Center on a cute little passenger boat. I really enjoyed the ride over, & the beautiful views. We were also getting pretty hungry so cutting off some time in favour of getting to sushi seemed like a good plan.

Our friends first introduced us to Kadoya Sushi a few years ago & it’s become a must-visit every time we’re in Vancouver. We’ve fought rush hour to eat there. It’s seriously that good. (Most sushi in Vancouver would give Calgary’s selection a run for its money, but this one is our fav!)


We ordered our usual favourites: an avocado roll, a dynamite roll, a spicy salmon roll, a specialty roll, & of course, the star of the whole show – salmon sashimi. I think I could eat salmon sashimi every day & not get sick of it. (We both included it in our vows without consulting one another. The obsession is strong…)



Imitating their little sign mascot!


Davie Street Crosswalks

Next on the list was a bike ride around Stanley Park. We rented bikes from one of the many shops near the park’s entrance. Our bikes were nothing special (when was the last time you used rear brakes?!), but the path is flat & easy. I’d recommend it to anyone – you’re rewarded with breathtaking views & there’s plenty of spots to stop along the way. It also helps work off all the sushi & beer (so you can make room for more!).




It turned out to be much warmer than forecasted that day & I kept wishing we’d packed bathing suits as we biked passed the many beaches along our route. Instead we stopped for beers at a pub under the Burrard St Bridge – not a bad compromise if you ask me.


We returned our bikes before dinner & started the trek towards China town. I’m never in a huge rush on vacation so although it was a bit of a longer walk across town, we were ok with it. & there were German sausages at the end of road!


Entering Chinatown


We’d settled on a little german spot in Chinatown (yes, you read that correctly) called Bestie. Serving up a delicious selection of sausages, fries, salads, pretzels, currywurst, & beer, this place is wicked! The food is cheap, the beer is good, & the servers are fun & friendly. I highly recommend checking it out if you like German fare even a little bit.




N went with the popular currywurst – sausage served with curried ketchup over crispy fries – & I went with sausage & sauerkraut. Both were excellent, but the currywurst was the show stopper, & at $9 you really can’t go wrong! We also shared the daily salad: a spicy peanut slaw. I’m a sucker for a good coleslaw & this one was especially delicious. I would love to get my hands on that recipe!

We enjoyed our first steins so much that we wound up sticking around for a second one. They had a great atmosphere going, & sitting at the bar, we found ourselves chatting with the bartenders, all of whom seemed to be enjoying their evening at work too.



Look for the neon sausage above the window!

We capped off the night with a drink in Gastown. I doubt I’m alone in loving this neighbourhood, & it seems impossible to take a bad photo of its cobblestone streets. They’re just so pretty! We got a couple drinks at The Flying Pig before packing it in. We figured we should call it a night relatively early, in preparation for what would probably be a late night at the wedding.


The following day, we headed back downtown with Sasha to meet another friend for some tacos. I’d heard so many rave reviews about Tacofino & was pretty excited to finally check out their Gastown location. We grabbed a spot on the patio & dug into some of the best tacos this side of the border. They were seriously delicious! N & split a few different kinds, but I think my favourite was the Pork al Pastor. The simplicity of pork, pineapple, & pickle onion on a corn tortilla was exactly what I’d been craving (& has got me seriously stoked for our trip down to Mexico in the new year!).

After lunch, we had to head out to Langley pretty quick. I could have easily spent another couple days exploring, & eating, more in Vancouver. Our visits always seem to go by so quickly (probably cuz they are quite short.) Lucky for us, it’s not too far away so I’m sure we’ll make another trip out soon!

Honeymoon 002 \ Paris

On our second day in Paris we had planned to do a free walking tour. I’ve previously talked about the New Europe Free Walking tours as I’ve now done them in numerous cities & think they are great. At the end of the day it doesn’t actually wind up being free since they ask for tips if you think it was worth it, but it let’s you decide how much you want to pay. If you didn’t like the tour – leave nothing. If you thought it was great – leave what you think is reasonable. I’ve always found the tours are great since they won’t be getting paid if they aren’t.

Unfortunately, we got a little turned around in the morning & missed the first tour, so we decided to try our luck at touring the catacombs. This was my first trip to Europe during anything close to peak time, so I had no idea what to expect in terms of lines. That’s one of the nice things about travelling outside of busy season – you rarely wait long in a line. We arrived at the entrance to the catacombs & the queue snacked all the way around the square. I think we laughed out loud – we certainly didn’t have time to waste hours in a line up, so instead we walked back towards Place St Michel & the Jardin du Luxembourg.

This is one of my favourite things to do in a city like Paris. Just wander. Take in the neighbourhoods & the buildings & enjoy a walk. You miss so much taking the metro from sight to sight. The Jardin du Luxembourg is one of my favourite parks in Paris. It’s huge, for one. It’s also got some great people watching & a pond in the centre where kids run around pushing these little rented boats. It’s a cool spot.

Always a sucker for these kinds of buildings
Gas Station, Central Paris

We hung out there for a bit before continuing on back to Place St Michel for the tour. We arrived just in time to start the tour with a British girl named Harriet (or Harry as she preferred to be called). That day there were actually two English-speaking tours running, another reminder of what season we were travelling in. Both tours took off at the same time but we almost never crossed paths with one another. (Another perk of these free walking tours – they’re always different.) So although I’d done this Paris tour before, it wouldn’t be the same as last time. It wasn’t exactly a recent experience either (as I’d already proven by getting lost earlier).

From Place St Michel we headed over the Notre-Dame de Paris. This church is such an iconic sight for many when they visit Paris that it’s shocking to think it was almost demolished. Luckily for us, Victor Hugo was interested in saving much of Paris’ gothic architecture & began writing a book to raise awareness of its importance. In 1831, he penned Notre-Dame de Paris (or as you probably know it better – The Hunchback of Notre-Dame).

Next, we walked along the banks of the Seine to Pont Neuf – the oldest bridge in Paris. The many amusing faces mounted on this bridge are said to be King Henry’s friends at the end of a particularly unruly night of partying. I’m not sure if this story is actually true, but it certainly makes these faces even more entertaining. Up the stairs & around the corner stands a statue of Henri-Quatre (Good King Henry), who was murdered. Apparently, you can tell because one of his horse’s front legs & one of his hind legs are raised.

We wandered further along the banks of the Seine towards Pont des Arts (another bridge filled with lover’s padlocks) for an incredible view of Île de la Cité. Pont des Arts also joins the Institut de France (home of the Académie Française) to the Louvre, which was our next stop. We stopped in the Cour Carré, one third of the whole Louvre Museum & originally the King’s Palace, before crossing over into the iconic square with the glass pyramid.

Institut de France
Île de la Cité & Pont Neuf

We took a quick bathroom & snack break just off Rue du Rivoli (where you’ll find great shopping if you’re ever in Paris) before continuing on to the Jardin des Tuileries. This was originally the Queen’s garden as their Palace once stood there. Our final stop was one of the largest square’s in Europe – Place de la Concorde. From here you can see the Eiffel Tower & the start of the Champs-Elysées.

We decided to walk the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe, with a little stop in at Ladurée for some macarons. I know Ladurée is one of the more touristy spots for macarons, but they are still truly delicious. We picked up a little box of six & continued on to the Arc.

In 2005, I had met my parents in Paris for a weekend & we had stayed at the beautiful Hôtel Prince de Galles on Avenue George V. The afternoon they arrived, we ventured out for a glass of wine at a little bar around the corner. Before moving to France, I strictly drank cocktails & coolers. I quickly found out that’s a very expensive way to drink in France & within my first month in Rennes, learned how great wine could be.

We all cherish the memory of that afternoon in Paris very much so I convinced N to see if we could find the little bar again. We did (it’s called Rival) & proceeded to enjoy a glass of wine, & nibble our macarons as I told him about that very first trip to Paris, nine years prior.

Pretty little box of colourful macarons

It had been a long day of walking so we jumped on the metro back to our apartment to change for dinner. I’ll talk about that next time though. This post is starting to remind me of my long winded emails home while I was living in France,so it’s time for a break (& some wine & dinner).

Bon appétit!

Honeymoon 001 \ Paris

The de Boers are off to Europe!
When we first started talking about our honeymoon, I knew I wanted to show N the city I lived in for seven months (& the reason this blog exists): Lyon. Lucky for us, that would mean flying in to Paris first, giving us the opportunity to spend a few days in the city of lights.

Not everyone loves Paris. I’m not one of those people. I find Paris beautiful & exciting & I can’t visit enough. This trip would be my fourth trip to the French capital (Paris is always a good idea, non?), & I can still see myself going back in the future.

Planning started early. We booked our accommodations with AirBnB. After this trip, I can’t recommend enough this site enough as we had nothing but great experiences. You have to do your research, but that’s always something I’ve enjoyed. Looking at photos of apartments & reading reviews never really feels like work to me. Making a decision though – that’s another story.

I picked a great apartment in Paris’ fourth arrondissement – one of my favourites! Notre Dame, City Hall, Ile de la Cite, & the Marais district are all within walking distance. I was quite excited to have scored such a great location after having stayed much further out on my last two visits. (My first time I was spoiled & stayed with my parents, right off the Champs Elysees. Tough luck, eh?)

The living room & kitchen of our apartment

Our flight arrived early &, after a delay in the sweaty baggage claim room due to an unattended bag at the McCafe, we made our way into the city on the RER. Our host, Paco, told us we could drop our bags at the apartment while they finished cleaning up. We grabbed lunch near the Centre Pompidou (typical brasserie fare with a couple beers) while we waited.

The crowd waiting to exit baggage claim
Affligem on a terrace

By 1:00 pm, the apartment was ready for us. Paco welcomed us to Paris, gave us a few instructions, & left us to freshen up. We hadn’t slept much on the plane, but had decided to make the most the day anyway.

Our first stop was Pont de l’Archevêché, or Lovelock Bridge. It’s said to be the first of this kind in Paris. Who knows if that’s really true, but we added our lock to the bridge & kissed the key goodbye (literally) before throwing it into La Seine. If you find yourself in Paris, look for our lock. Hopefully they won’t have cut it off – I hear that’s bad luck.

Les Bouquinistes along the Seine


Notre Dame de Paris
Lovelock Bridge
Goodbye Key!

Personally, I see travelling as an opportunity to experience different cultures through food, so our next stop was a wine bar in the sixth. I’d heard about it while watching one of the many shows featuring Anthony Bourdain in Paris. (He’s not for everyone, but that man knows food & gives good advice. Check his stuff out. I like No Reservations.)

L’Avant Comptoir is a standing-room-only tapas & wine bar near the Odeon metro. It serves up an assortment of small plates alongside a beautiful selection of wines (for those who can’t afford Le Comptoir du Relais next door or can’t get a reservation). The space is narrow. You walk through a plastic curtain to find people standing around a zinc bar, ordering from a friendly barman. The open kitchen allows you to watch staff scurry back & forth with different orders.

We started with the ham croquettes filled with iberico ham – not to be missed if you pay a visit – & a glass of red wine. I can’t tell you which as I just asked him to surprise us. I’m assuming this was Eric, who I read knows exactly what you need. We were not disappointed.

Sleepy N

The menu hangs from the ceiling on cards. After much back & forth about what we should order next (everything sounded delicious), we settled on a charcuterie board. We enjoyed the added bonus of watching them prepare it, using a beautiful, red meat slicer. They were more than generous with the assortment of meat they provided & it was likely more than we needed, but we thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

a slicer made in heaven
The most incredible Charcuterie

A selection of cornichons, mustards, hand-churned butter, & fresh bread sit out on the bar, to be shared with other patrons. As we enjoyed our wine & charcuterie, the barman would come by to suggest combinations of cornichons & charcuterie or mustard & bread – it was my favourite part of the whole experience. All of his suggestions were enthusiastically devoured by us both.

We visited at an off-peak hour, but by the time we left people were starting to filter in. I’ve heard it gets packed later on, but that could make for a fun experience. If you’re in Paris, I can’t recommend it enough. Eric took a picture for us before we left & I made sure to sign the wall.

incredibly happy

Our next stop was the Eiffel Tower. N hadn’t been up last time he was in Paris so we thought it was worth going. As we arrived, it looked like it might rain, so we ducked into a little brasserie to wait it out & have a drink.

Hello, Jet Lag! Our lack of sleep on the plane had caught up with us & we took turns accidentally nodding off at the table. We must have looked ridiculous to passersby. Fortunately, the rain seemed to hold off so we decided it was best if we got moving & made our climb to the top. I’ve been up a few times now & it really is a spectacular view. Paris appears neverending.

Post Nap. Ready to Climb

Weary & hungry, we made our way back to the Marais for dinner. We attempted to go to Breizh Cafe for an authentic Breton dinner (crepes & fresh seafood were a staple when I lived in Rennes!), but it’s not the type of place you can just walk into without a reservation (before 10 pm at least).

I had my heart set on crepes (or galettes, if we’re talking the savoury Breton variety) though. Wandering around the Marais, we found La Droguerie du Marais on Rue des Rosiers. The crepe-man makes your crepes right in front of you, taking orders & making jokes from a window that opens onto the street. I was sold. I ordered a jambon-oeuf-fromage, a staple in Brittany, while N went for a slight variation on that combination. (I don’t remember exactly what his was because I was too distracted by my own.)

We’d planned to enjoy our crepes with a glass of wine, but they were pretty much finished before we got back so it wasn’t long before we called it a night. We had a lot more exploring ahead still, so it was time for some much needed sleep. I’ll leave day two for my next post.

La Manzanilla

At the end of January, N & I headed down to Mexico with seven of our good friends. This trip had been a long time in the making. My MOH’s parents discovered this lovely little town about 30 years ago & have been going down regularly since. Last winter, she looked at this beautiful villa & proposed we plan a trip down.

We jumped on the idea & booked the villa last spring. So we’d been anticipating the trip for almost a year by the time we went down. It turned out to be well worth the wait.

La Manzanilla is gorgeous – the weather was perfect, the villa was beautiful, & the food was the best I’ve had on any Mexican vacation to date.

The town is full of Canadians that head down every winter so we were in good company as we collectively escaped the frigid temperatures at home. We did, however, lower the average age by at least 30 years. Everywhere we went we got comments about how nice it was to see younger people around. & I have to agree; it was pretty nice. I’d gladly do it again anytime.

Because of all the expats, the restaurant options were amazing. On the beach, we usually ate at little Mexican palapas – enjoying fresh shrimp and some of the best fruit money can buy. Everything was so fresh. I’ve eaten one avocado since coming home & it was a sad experience after the perfect ones in La Manzanilla. I’m sure I’m not the only one wishing I was heading to Jolanda’s tonight for the best fish & chips!

Most of our days were spent eating shrimp, drinking cheap beer & margaritas, & watching fisherman compete with pelicans for dorado. Luca took daily naps on a towel in the sand & got comfortable in the water. The adults boogie boarded, read, & enjoyed the beach every day. It’s hard writing this as it’s still very much winter in Canada.

This type of Mexican vacation probably isn’t for everyone, though. The town is small, the streets are dusty, & there are dogs everywhere. I loved every minute of it. In fact, I think we all did. We’ve all wistfully talked of returning.

I don’t usually do this, but since this post is so photo heavy, you can find the rest after the jump.

Incredible nightly sunsets from the villa
Our beautiful beach
a nappy baby
morning breakfast & coffee stop
the bustling main street
relaxing at the villa
a million & one sunset shots
main square at sunset
sunday brunch
beautiful resort
beach walk
tacos on the beach for a dollar
pelicans & fishing & beautiful beach
relaxing at the pool
our crew
friday market
a sad goodbye

What’s going in my bag

We’re going on vacation: a week of sun & sand & shenanigans with our friends down in Mexico. I can’t wait to go barefoot every day & live in my bathing suit. It’s going to be grand.

We’ve still got some time before we leave, but I’ve started thinking about what I’m going to bring. I’ve packed for many a trip & usually leave it to the last minute. Yup, I’m often that person – the one frantically packing at the very last minute. I’ve forgotten many things while packing for trips, but it generally all works out in the end.

I thought it’d be fun to go over some of the things I love for a week in the sun. Who doesn’t like to see into people’s suitcases? (Or is it just me who is super nosey? No? Ok, good!). Here’s a few of the things I find necessary for a beach vacation.

1. Dresses. I’ve briefly touched on my dislike of pants. I wear dresses often, especially when it’s hot. A few cute, breezy dresses are a must for me on any trip.
2. Cute shorts and bathing suits. Duh. It’s hot & I don’t like pants. Shorts are a must. & bathing suits, of course. I have a little collection, but this one is brand new & it’s been a while since I’ve bought a brand new bathing suit. I’m excited. (& apparently I really love bright colours).
3. Plane wear. This usually consists of leggings, a comfy shirt, & a scarf for me. It’s versatile enough for the temperature jump in either direction.
4. Flip Flops. More specifically havaianas. They’re from Brazil and are my absolute favourite brand of flip flops ever. I don’t wear anything else. Don’t argue with me on this one: these are the best flippy floppies ever.
5. Comfy Runners. This year it’s Vans. Last year it was TOMS. Either way, something lightweight and comfortable for the plane or a day of touring around. (although, let’s be honest, will I ever take off my havs once we get there?)
6. Sunscreen. I don’t wear a ton of sunscreen, but I do have to be careful not to burn. It’s kind of a boring travel necessity. I like the sport brand cuz I’m sweaty.
7. Sunnies. Obs. These are just a cheap pair of knockoff Ray Bans.
8. Headbands. I love headbands. Who likes hair in their eyes? No one! Bondi Bands are my favourite, but Lululemon makes some cute ones too.
9. Passport. Super exciting, I know. It’s a passport. It’s Canadian. Enough said?
10. iPhone. I’ll probably bring my DSLR as well, but iPhone are handy for snapping quick photos. I used to bring along a little point and shoot until I realized my iPhone photos were about the same quality. I guess it’s either time for a better point and shoot or resign myself to iPhone photos.
11. Makeup. I don’t usually wear makeup at the beach, but I do like to put a bit on at night. My essentials include BB cream, Bobbi Brown Gel Liner, & mascara.
12. Books & Journals. I always pack a good book (I haven’t started this one yet, but I’ve heard good things. Fingers crossed!) & my journal. I love these Moleskine Journals & have been using them for years. It’s nice to be able to have some kind of record of trips, even if I just manage a couple entries.

Obviously, this isn’t everything I’ll be bringing with me, but a few things that will definitely be making it into my bag. Inevitably, I’m sure I’ll wind up with too many shoes (I’m still contemplating birkenstocks & a dressier pair) & more dresses than is ever necessary.

Now to get through a few more days of work. We’re in countdown mode at home & it’s making the time crawl.

Road Tripping: Seattle

I can’t believe it’s been over two months since we were in Seattle. It was a really quick trip, but we managed to see a lot of the city. We got in late in the afternoon and parked by the pier. We had about an hour until my friend and his wife could meet up with us so we wandered around. 

Pike Place Market was just down the street so we headed there right away. I’m not sure what is up with this gum wall, but it’s huge. N thought it was pretty gross and I kind of do too. Interesting to photograph, but I don’t think I could bring myself to touch it and add my own piece to the wall.

We wandered the market a bit and then went in search of parking to meet up with my friend and his wife. I hadn’t see Lucas since he came to Calgary for Stampede Week in 2006. We originally met in France while studying in Rennes in 2005. He played tour guide and showed up some of the main sites downtown. We eventually decided on Ivar’s for some seafood on the pier. It was great catching up and hearing about everything they’d been up to since I’d last seen him (there’s a lot. They’re pretty worldly and impressive people!) They were generously putting us up at their home just outside Seattle so after dinner we headed back to their house to rest up for the next day.

Our first stops after breakfast the next day were the Ballard Locks and Fish Ladder. They were built to link the freshwater of Lake Washington to the saltwater of Puget Sound. There is also a fish ladder built to allow easier passage for salmon to return to Lake Washington and navigate the locks. There are glass panels below the waterline so you can watch the fish swim up the ladders if you’re lucky. We waited and waited, hoping to see a salmon swim up the ladder, but it was wasn’t until we were just walking out that one finally made an appearance. It swam so fast that we didn’t get to see much. It’d be really cool to be there when a lot of salmon are making their way to Lake Washington.

We had visited Pike Place Market briefly the day before but wanted a little more time to see it and try some seafood so we headed back there. The rain held off and gave us the opportunity to wander the market. We tried some fresh crab and marvelled at the amazing seafood. The rest of the market was great too, but that scale of seafood isn’t something we see at home so we were spent most of our time in awe of the seafood.

We tried to visit the first Starbucks, but the line outside was insane so we took dumb pictures outside instead. It was possibly the most touristy moment of our trip. I worked at Starbucks long enough to grow an intense appreciation for good coffee and small roasters, of which there are plenty in both Seattle and Portland. I appreciate what Starbucks has done for this industry. It really wouldn’t exist if someone hadn’t come up with the idea to open this little italian style cafe and try to sell the idea of lattes, americanos, and cappuccinos to North Americans. Thank you, Starbucks. 

Lucas had mentioned we should check out the library. It’s a pretty cool building and definitely well worth a wander if you’re looking for something to do downtown and are interested in architecture. We didn’t stay long, but we wandered all the way up to the top. This is the top floor of the library.

Afterwards, we decided we’d seen enough of downtown Seattle and headed up to Capitol Hill. This is such a cool area of Seattle. We were ready for a break, some beer, and a snack so we wandered the area looking for a good spot. We stumbled on Oddfellows and decided it looked like a good choice. We shared some charcuterie and a couple drinks. I absolutely loved the space and was sad to have to head back to the car. I would have loved to have had more time to explore Capitol Hill. I guess that means we’ll have to make another trip out to Seattle.

We headed to the Walrus and the Carpenter for dinner that night. The restaurant is in Ballard, which is another really cool neighbourhood. They don’t take reservations and it is a pretty popular spot so we showed up and had a two hour wait ahead of us. Luckily this gave us a chance to wander around the area and grab a drink on a patio. Again, another neighbourhood I’d love to have more time to explore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter is a little Oyster Bar in a beautiful old restored building. They also have a lot of small plates and a beautiful wine and beer selection. We ordered a bunch of delightful things along with both fresh oysters and fried ones. It was a delicious meal and the perfect end to our food tour of the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, it seemed too cramped a space to pull out my SLR so I only have grainy iPhone photos of the meal. Trust me, these don’t do it justice.

We woke up “early”the next morning, grabbed coffee in the beautiful town of Edmonds (Lucas picked a beautiful spot to call home!), and hit the Interstate. We stopped for some quick outlet shopping before crossing the border back into Canada; it was time for Kelowna and a very exciting half marathon!

Portland Eats

After visiting Portland, I can’t think about that city without thinking about food – the food we ate, the food I continue to dream about, and the food I want to try next time we visit. I didn’t think I could move on in my posts until I’d talked about what we ate in this delicious city. So here we go! I’m warning you now, our trip was entirely glutinous. If that’s not your thing, this blog probably isn’t for you anyway.

We got into Portland pretty late on Sunday due in part to our late start and our stop in Cannon Beach(worth it). Our first stop was Henry’s Tavern. A friend of mine had recommend it for their great beer selection and awesome Happy Hour. Lucky for us, they do all day Sunday Happy Hour. It’s pretty epic. We’d heard good things about the mac and cheese so we ordered that, a flight of beers, and a pint. The mac and cheese was just what we needed, with a creamy cheddar and Parmesan cheese sauce. At under $5, you can’t go wrong. They did last call pretty early for us so headed over to Touché for one last drink. They still had their happy hour menu going too so we shared a Lamb Gyro before heading home for bed.

The next morning we slept in a bit before heading out for the day. We wandered down 23rd, admiring all the fun shops and restaurants, to our first stop of the day: Besaw’s. As it was labour day, there was a pretty big line. Luckily, we’re pretty into brunch so we’ve done this before. (It also helped that they serve coffee while you wait.)


Surprise, surprise, N got Eggs Benedict. If it’s on the menu, he’s pretty much guaranteed to order it. I ordered a delicious scramble packed with veggies, asiago cheese, and prosciutto. I have such a weakness for prosciutto! The food was fantastic and came out really quickly. We waddled off exploring with very full bellies!

Our next food stop was only a couple hours later. To be honest, we weren’t even overly hungry, but we’d come to Portland to eat and I was determined to try as much from my list as possible. I’d read great things about Clyde Common so I couldn’t pass up the chance to try something from their menu. It was also an acceptable hour to have a beer so it was time to take a break from wandering.

I’ve already written about Clyde Common twice so if you’re even in Portland, you should probably go. Not only is their beer selection great & their design top notch, but the food is also wonderful. Everything we saw come out looked fantastic and by the looks of pure joy on everyone’s faces, it delivered in the taste department as well.

We decided to share the lamb belly trenette since we weren’t hungry yet. I’d read some reviews that they really know what they’re doing with lamb and that was definitely true. I’m not usually that into pasta since a lot of it is something I could easily make myself at home and I’d rather try something I can’t make, but this dish still sticks out in my mind. It was unreal! Every time I look at this photo, I want to eat it again.

We spent the afternoon touring around the Pearl District and downtown Portland until Happy Hour. I can’t get over how awesome Happy Hour is in the States, especially Portland. Happy Hour in Canada pales in comparison. While we might get a dollar off a pint, you can get food and drinks for incredibly cheap in Portland. Many places even include Happy Hour prices all day on Sunday

We decided to try one of my dad’s favourite Portland restaurants for some drinks and a little break. Andina does Peruvian cuisine and tapas. We ordered beer for our first drink, but quickly realised that cocktails were the way to go. Their list is extensive! They started us off with some bread and different sauces for dipping. We were pretty obsessed with all of those and devoured it all pretty quickly.

N and I both love seafood so oysters were a must for us. We enjoyed them so much that we ordered them twice. We also shared the Antichucho de Pulpo (grilled octopus kebob with rocoto and caper chimichurri). It was all fantastic.

From there we moved on to one of the brew pubs for a couple hours before deciding we had enough room for dinner. We had planned to go for tapas at Toro Bravo, but when we pulled up in a cab, they were closed! We hadn’t even thought about the fact that it was Labour Day. Luckily, we’d snagged an awesome cabbie and he started making phone calls to all the restaurants on our list to find one that was open. We finally settled on Screen Door in the Northeast and headed over. There was quite a wait (probably because no where else in Portland seemed to be open for dinner!) but they let us order drinks while we waited. We’d eaten so much food that day that we weren’t really even hungry yet.

Screen Door does southern cuisine. It’s rich and hearty, as you’d expect. We decided it would probably be wise to share a meal if we planned on continuing our evening so we went with some hush puppies (cornbread balls) and fried chicken. It definitely wasn’t the healthiest meal, but it was totally worth it. That was some great fried chicken.

The restaurant itself was lively and the servers were fun. I’d definitely recommend it for a night out with friends. (It’s always fun to share a bunch of different options!) Not surprisingly, their beer selection was great as well. Can you really go wrong anywhere in Portland?

Our second day in Portland, we headed over to the Northeast for breakfast. I was really excited to try Tasty n Sons. It’s the same owner as Toro Bravo and I’d heard great things about both! We were not the least bit disappointed. I think we were still pretty overwhelmed (or maybe horrified?) by the amount of food we’d consumed the day before so we decided to share a couple things on their menu. We went with the breakfast board to start. It had a beautiful assortment of things like bacon, pâté, and cheese.

We then shared their special which was a Cuban style sandwich with plantain chips. It was amazing! Tasty n Sons does smaller plates and bigger plates so there are so many fun things to try. We also split a spicy Bloody Mary called the Tasty Mary and some bacon wrapped dates.

Their menu is one of the coolest breakfast menus I’ve ever seen. Everything is so creative! I think next time I’m in Portland, I’ll have to try the Burmese Red Pork Stew. It just sounds like such an interesting meal to have for breakfast that I can’t stop thinking about it. Obviously this is the sign of an amazing menu if I’m still thinking about all the things I want to try 3 months after the fact!

We didn’t eat a legitimate meal for the rest of the day. We were just too full and I was too excited for the restaurant we were eating at that night. I’d heard such amazing things about Pok Pok. I’d been telling N about it for days.

When we arrived, there was a bit of a wait so they sent us across the street for drinks while we waited. We ordered a couple beers and contemplated the menu. When we realised that they had the famous Pok Pok wings at the Whiskey Soda Lounge, we decided to go for it. Looking back, I wish we’d ordered these twice. Or three times. They were some of the best wings ever. It’s really no surprise that so many people rave about Andy Ricker. The guy’s a genius with Thai cuisine!

Our table was ready right as we finished up our wings. Perfect! We headed over to the covered patio at Pok Pok and started discussing what to order. I’d read they had a great Whiskey Sours, so we each ordered one. Deliciously dangerous. I ended up having quite a few and I don’t even usually like Whiskey.

We decided to go with their suggestions and go with Papaya Pok Pok, Kai Yaang (game hen) and sticky rice. I love the entire meal. Sadly, we think N ate an entire Thai chili and was completely turned off the Papaya Salad. It sounded like a very unpleasant experience for him, which is pretty disappointing for me since I loved the meal so much! Just something to keep in mind if you’re more sensitive to spice! Watch out for chili’s. It’s hard to enjoy a meal when you’re mouth is numb or on fire.

The next morning, we packed everything up and drove over to Pine State Biscuits for breakfast before heading up to Seattle. We’d heard great things about their biscuits and were not disappointed. A friend of mine had gone for the Reggie Deluxe and found it way too much food, but after seeing what was in it (Fried Chicken, Bacon, Cheese, Egg, topped with gravy), I couldn’t resist. N went for the Chicken Club and we switched halfway through. This is probably what saved me since the Reggie Deluxe is definitely ridiculous and would certainly lead to a food coma.

I couldn’t leave the city without experiencing a food cart (we’d struck out the couple times we’d tried) so on our way out of town we stopped and picked up a sandwich to go. There was a little Czech Food Cart that had a fried cheese sandwich (go back a few years to read about that obsession of mine in Prague). It was huge and unnecessarily necessary.

We also stopped at Olympic Provisions for some road trip provisions. It turned out the saucisson sec and cheese we picked up was way too beautiful to chow down on in the car so we saved it and shared with my family. If I could get saucisson sec from Olympic Provisions in Canada, I would be in heaven. If you’re in Portland, do yourself a favour, and stop by. They do lunch, happy hour, cocktails, and dinner.

I’m sad there isn’t any more Portland food to be had, but I’m pretty impressed if you made it to the end of this blog post. I couldn’t leave out any of our meals. They were all incredible. If you love food, beer, coffee, and aren’t put off by trendy hipsters, Portland is your place.

Portland Brews

When planning for Portland we mostly looked at how to eat our way through the city. N was equally excited to try all the amazing beer options in the city though. Portland is well known for its great craft breweries.

One of the first places we went was Clyde Common. I love this restaurant and bar. Their beer list was the first to introduce us to The Common’s Urban Farmhouse Ale. This was probably my favourite beer of the whole trip. Not surprisingly, it won the 2013 Beer of the Year for Willamette Week.

Deschutes was the first actual brew pub we tried. We decided to do two different samplers to maximize the amount of different beers we tried. We also tried the Green Monster, which is an accidental sour beer they now brew every year. It was very different. Not bad, but I’m glad we just did a sample. I really enjoyed the Mirror Pond Ale and the Black Butte Porter. The brew pub was a fun experience.

On the East side of the Willamette, we found a fun patio at Mississippi Studios and Bar Bar in the Mississippi District. They had lots of tables in a little courtyard beside the actual bar. It looks like it’s a fun venue for concerts in the evenings as well.

We couldn’t come to Portland without trying Rogue Brewery. Even in Calgary, this awesome craft brewery is well known among beer lovers. We shared a sampler at their brew pub in the Pearl District and then both tried one of their Rogue Farms Beers. I had the Good Chit Pilsner and N had the Dirtoir Black Lager. We both loved Rogue Farms. All their beers are amazing, but the Farms are definitely my favourite. We brought home a large bottle of each to enjoy at home.

Our last night in Portland, we had plans to head to Pok Pok on the East side for dinner so we decided to try a little pub on that side of the river as well. Beer was a cute little pub with a long list of bottled beers. We went for a couple of brews they had on tap. Delicious as always. It seemed to be the trend when it came to beers in Portland.

There were lots of other pubs we also went to that we loved. Henry’s Tavern has a great assortment of beers on tab and a pretty great happy hour food menu (try the mac and cheese!). We also had a great time challenging each other to Pac Man and Pin Ball games at the quirky Ground Kontrol. Portland has no shortage of options for beer lovers. The hardest decision we had to make was which beer to try next. There just isn’t enough time to sample them all!

Road Tripping: Portland

Portland greeted us with a beautiful morning on our first day. We were staying in the Northwest so we wandered down 23rd Street, past little boutique stores, great looking restaurants, and delcious coffee shops, to our destination for breakfast: Besaw’s. It was a holiday Monday so the line was, unsurprisingly, pretty long. But, like all my favourite brunch places in Calgary, they had coffee for us while we waited. It was warm and sunny so we couldn’t really complain about the wait. We were on vacation afterall.

Breakfast was fantastic. Re-energized, we wandered around the Alphabet District and Northwest a little more before heading to the Pearl District and downtown. I loved all of Portland’s neighbourhoods, but the Pearl was probably my favourite. Warehouses, industrial buildings, and rail yards have been converted to art galleries, restaurants, cafes, breweries, shops, and housing. My love for those old painted advertisements you see on older brick buildings is no secret and this area had plenty. I pointed out ad after ad to N, happily snapping photos and gushing that this one was my favourite so far.

this one actually was my favourite.

Barista has a cafe in this great old building. We sat outside, enjoying coffee and the beautiful sunshine. Well, I enjoyed coffee. N had already had his daily cup at brunch. He’s not as coffee-obsessed as I am.

No trip to Portland is complete without a stop at Powell’s City of Books. It’s incredible. There are stacks upon stacks of books on every subject you could imagine. I spent most of my time in the travel and food sections. Predictable as ever.

The next day was equally gorgeous and full of food. I haven’t posted much about the rest of our first day because all we did was eat and drink. Literally. We had brunch, coffee, lunch, drinks, happy hour dinner, and real dinner, followed by more bar hopping before grabbing Voodoo Donuts and heading to bed. It was ridiculous. We were never once hungry or thirsty that day. As I’m trying not to overload this post with photos, I’ll talk more about what we ate and drank in Portland in other posts. There’s just too much to say about this city!

We started the day with coffee and Bloody Marys at Tasty & Sons. I’ve never really been one for morning drinks aside from coffee. I just never think of it unless someone else suggests it. I mean, I love mimosas as much as the next girl, but it always seems excessive to do a mimosa and a coffee.

Tasty & Sons had a whole Bloody Mary menu though so we decided it was probably best if we shared one. Just to try. (It was delicious and spicy). We also shared the breakfast board and a pork panini they had on special. Our food was amazing and I definitely loved every bite, but next time I’m trying one of their stews. I’m so curious about what Burmese Red Pork Stew with short grain rice & eggs two ways would be like for breakfast. I guess we’re going back sometime.

We spent the afternoon in the Mississipi District. It’s mostly just a street, but definitely one worth visiting. The only downside to the East side is getting around. We did a lot of walking on that side of the river before crossing back over for some afternoon drinks and donuts. No trip to Portland is complete without experiencing Voodoo Donuts. (We went twice. Because we’re ridiculous like that.)

That evening we headed over the bridge again to grab drinks before dinner at Pok Pok. We found a cute little pub and sat outside enjoying our pints. There is no shortage of delicious beer in Portland. Dinner at Pok Pok is a fun story, but I’ll save it for when I talk more about the food piece of our trip.

Our final morning in Portland we drove over to Alberta Street in the Northeast for a massive breakfast. Then I grabbed a final cup of Portland coffee, N picked up beer at Rogue Brewery, we grabbed saucisson sec from Olympic Provisions, and hit up a food cart for a fried cheese sandwich we certainly didn’t need before hitting the road for Seattle.

It was sad to say goodbye to Portland. I know we’ll be back though. There’s so much more to eat!

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