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Northern California Vacation

I has taken me forever to get this post up, because I've been overwhelmed with all the things I wanted to say about our trip to California this past August..but here it goes!

First stop: San Francisco

We rented a car and learned real quick that we would rather take public transportation. Parking and the fees were a bit of a nightmare, so we took the bus most places.  We stayed in various homes during our trip using AirBnb (some better than others), and kept a pretty tight budget on our expenses.  We both complained at one point that it would be such an easier trip if we were rich.  But then we remembered that we are blessed extremely to even be able to come on a trip like this, even if we're eating super cheap, taking buses because we can't afford taxis, and sleeping in people's extended garages.  Below are some pics of the main stops we made while in the city!













We ate at some great places in San Francisco, and I might have had a Nutella crepe every day.

- Tony's Pizza Napoletana
Blue Mermaid (Clam chowder - Fisherman's Wharf)
Ghirardelli Square - The BEST salted caramel hot chocolate I've ever had. Alex and I still dream about it.
Limon Rotisserie (Peruvian restaurant in the Mission district)
Buena Vista Cafe (Famous Irish coffee)
- Freddie's Sandwiches

After two crazy packed days in San Francisco we were excited to head out of the city. San Fran is beautiful, but I'm not much for loud noises and crowds of people.  The streets were busy, and at times I felt a bit overwhelmed.  We headed south for the infamous Highway 1, but we made a few stops along the way.

First stop, breakfast at Nini's in San Mateo (we searched yelp reviews and found this hidden gem).  Oh my goodness, the breakfast here was amazing! Best pancakes I've ever had.


And of course, Apple. We couldn't drive through Northern California without seeing the mothership. 




After a few hours driving down Highway 1 and walking around Pfeiffer beach, we headed to Carmel where we stayed for the night.  The city of Carmel was amazingly cute. I wanted to buy every little home, which might have been out of my budget a few million dollars. I wish the home we stayed at for the night was still listed on Airbnb, because it was insane! Honestly, staying there might have been one of our favorite parts of the trip.  It was a gorgeous mansion tucked away in Monterey, owned by retired multi-millionaires who liked to have travelers around.  We asked the home owner if he had any recommendations for dinner, and he replied "Well, I own a restaurant, you could go there if you like Italian." Umm...sure.  


We spent one short day on the coast of Big Sur and Carmel, and then headed north to Napa the next morning.  Our road trip was quite interesting in our TINY rental car.   Alex could barely fit, but the pro was it was super easy to park.

NAPA
Napa is one of those places you "must" see, but honestly it wasn't my favorite.  The vineyards were a beautiful site, but I'm not a fan of wine.  We experienced one tasting at Bell Winery, and then explored downtown Napa. Definitely check out Oxbow Public Market for a great local market experience.

For dinner we had a delicious Italian meal at Ristorante Allegria (an old bank), and went off the beaten path to a dive bar called the Green Door.  We were told by locals it was "rough" and they didn't serve wine, so we headed straight there ; ).  This was our favorite night of the trip.  We chatted with the locals, played a ton of country on the juke box, and received a round of applause after we danced to our wedding song (I Just Want To Dance With You by George Strait).



Our favorite night of the entire trip was hanging out in a Napa dive bar (The Green Door).  After we had dinner, we asked locals for bar recommendations.  We told them we weren't big wine drinkers, and that we wanted a very local spot.  One guy said.."Ohhhh...you could go to the Green Door, but it's pretty rough." Alex and I looked at each other, and thought what is "rough" in Napa?  We headed straight there. We were greeted by a cloud of smoke, a juke box, and the neighborhood drinkers.  It was perfect.  I played lots of George Strait and at one point played our wedding song, I Just Want to Dance with You.  A few people had been dancing, so I pulled Alex out on to the dance floor.  We two stepped, and when the song ended we got a round of applause from the entire bar. It was hilarious! Everyone was freaking out about seeing a real two-step.  We ended up leaving early because a guy was hitting on me right in front of Alex, not that Alex cared when he bought me a shot...but it got weird after a while...seriously weird.  


We only spent one day in Napa, and headed back to San Francisco for 2 more days before flying back home. We actually felt the earthquake on our last night in San Fran on Castro street.

We had an amazing week, and can't wait for our next trip together (Hawaii in June).  I would much rather save money for traveling than on material items like a car or clothes.  These memories will last a lifetime.  We missed Turner so much, but I truly believe parents need to take time away from their children and build special memories between just the two of them.  Alex and I forget sometimes that we are best friends, and can easily become roommates in the chaos of life.  Trips like this help us to reconnect, and we hope to take a trip just the two of us every year.