Brunch and dinner: California and more

Brunch and dinner: California and more

During our time in Los Angeles we looked for good places to eat, obviously. We eventually found our favorites and kept returning to these places. Soon they knew who we were, which just made it heartbreaking when we came for the last time. Here are our favorite places to eat in the different places we visited:

Los Angeles

  • IMG_4490.JPGWood and Vine – great for tapas and drinks right on Hollywood Boulevard
  • Mel’s Drive-In – 50’s style diner with amazing milkshakes and late night menu!
  • Karl Strauss Brewing Company – really good share plates (try the chicken wings, carnitas chilaquiles or the Brussels sprouts)
  • The Saddle Ranch – steakhouse, with huge meals so plan accordingly. The s’mores or the cotton candy tower are a must for dessert.
  • The Griddle Cafe – massive pancakes that are perfect to share with three other people (maybe more)! If you don’t want pancakes try some of their savory dishes (“Some Like it Hot” scramble is one of my favorites)
  • The Waffle – waffles all day long!
  • The Cheesecake Factory The Grove – who doesn’t like cheesecake factory?

San Diego

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Santa Barbara

  • The Shop Cafe – great brunch place with amazing eggs benedict (we drove 2 hours for this place…multiple times)

Flagstaff, AZ

  • The Toasted Owl – very good brunch place with very eclectic, cute decorations

These were our absolute favorites, there are other places that we tried out, but we kept coming back to these. Definitely check them out if you are ever in one of those cities!

 


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Los Angeles -> San Francisco Road Trip

Los Angeles -> San Francisco Road Trip

One weekend me and my friends decided to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, spend one night there and drive back the next day. It was absolutely amazing trip, even though not everything went quite as planned. We found out google lied to us, but we were ok with it. We did so much in these two days, to really take advantage of where we were. Here’s a couple of things we did and what we learned.

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First, we decided to take the PCH and the 101 up. So we drove right along the coast from Santa Monica, to Malibu and Oxnard. Unsurprisingly we were the only people driving up the coast after the “monster storm” that came to LA the day before. And even though it was still raining a little, the view was absolutely amazing and worth it. We had fallen in love with Malibu in the few weeks we have been here, so we enjoyed driving through the town again. The coast is gorgeous and I definitely recommend taking the Pacific Coast Highway for at least this part of the trip.

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Right before we hit Oxnard, we hit a very rural part of California, which actually surprised us. Lots of farms that spanned forever. In Oxnard we got a little lost. We turned off the GPS and assumed we would just continue going straight and we would hit the PCH headed north again. Well, we were wrong. Somehow we ended up heading east through more fields and driving through orange groves. It was gorgeous and worth the extra time. But eventually we turned the GPS back on, now to get on the 101 heading towards Santa Barbara.

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As we drove down the 101 we were constantly in awe. The landscape was surprising to us. We drove through mountains, hills, on cliffs along the coast. It took us a little over 3 hours to get from West Hollywood to Santa Barbara, so the perfect time to stop for a break and some food. Quick suggestion: a small cafe called The Shop Cafe. Amazing brunch food and you get the food pretty quickly, making it a great stop on a long trip. Also the food is AMAZING!

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We hopped back onto the 101 heading north. I don’t know what I imagined the Californian countryside to look like, but I was surprised. The rolling, velvety hills just kept going as we drove north. It was beautiful. Eventually vineyards started popping up and the highway straightened and flattened. At this point we hit a bit of a rough patch. The trip was getting long, we had already driven for 6 hours out of the expected 6.5 and according to Google Maps we had another 3 hours to go. So we ate a lot of snacks and stopped at a rest stop in San Miguel, a really cute town. What also woke us up was a small patch of forest with lots of pine trees, something you would find in the North East.

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After 9 hours, around 4:30pm, we finally hit San Francisco. We parked the car ($45 overnight parking), checked into our hotel, Union Square Plaza Hotel. After 9 hours in the car, we decided to walk to Fisherman’s Wharf. So up, over the hill and down Powell street we went. And when we reached our destination, we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset. We walked along the Wharf popping into different stores. Most importantly we bought a bunch of saltwater taffy, something I have never tried. So worth it, it was amazing! They had many flavours, anything you could think of, from cherry to sangria to pina colada!

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We walked down the road to Ghirardelli Square and started looking for a place to eat dinner. By chance we walked by The Pub BBQ and decided to share a bunch of appetizers and it was an amazing choice. The food was great paired with their drinks, so I definitely recommend! For dessert we went to Ghirardelli and got their famous hot fudge sundaes and sea salt caramel hot chocolate. And it was the best hot chocolate and sundae I have ever had! I will definitely have dreams about them.

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The best part of the trip came next. I finally took the cable car in San Francisco from Fisherman’s Wharf to Market Street! So worth the $7 ticket! It was too cold to hang on to the side of the car, but I will definitely do it in the future! This time we enjoyed the heated cabin.

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The next day we went to one of my favorite brunch places, Honey Honey Cafe and Creperie. Such delicious food and countless options! Just in the line we all changed our mind about what to get three times. One of the reason I like this place so much, other than the food, is that no matter how busy they get, you never feel like they are pressuring you to leave.

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After brunch we found the Painted Ladies, which is a must in San Francisco. They are gorgeous and I would move in, if I could! Naturally, the Fuller House house was next! Another house and neighborhood I loved. So we drove around a little and looked at more houses.

 

Golden Gate Bridge was next. We drove over it, in pouring rain. You could barely see the bridge as we drove over it, but that didn’t matter. We still had the experience and it was great. We drove to Sausalito, which is the most adorable town! There, we stopped for lunch at The Spinnaker, which was quite fancy, but totally worth it. Though the view from the restaurant was non-existent when we got there, soon it stopped raining and the fog cleared up, so we were rewarded with an amazing view of San Francisco! This, of course, meant that when we drove back over the bridge, the experience was even better! The view was beautiful, so we decided to drive through the Presidio, stop for a little and get a few pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge from there.

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After that, it was time to get back onto the highway and head home. We took the I-5 this time, since google promised a shorter amount of time.  Since we drove in the evening and at night, we couldn’t enjoy the view as much. But before it got dark, we got a quick look at Dublin and Pleasanton, where we stopped for gas before the long journey home. They were both really cute towns surrounded by great country. IMG_3904

We ended up getting back to LA at around 11:30pm and decided to get milkshakes as a reward and as a nice cherry on top of the road trip. Mel’s Drive-In was the perfect way to end the road trip, their milkshakes were so delicious as were their fries.


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A Day in Hungary

Our one-day trip to Budapest quite an interesting experience. Having traveled quite a lot our entire lives, we usually feel prepared for travels, especially single day trips. However, no amount of experience prepared us for our road trip to Budapest.

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Driving from Prague to Budapest takes about 8 hours, which isn’t too bad. And we didn’t have any issues in Czech Republic, or Slovakia for that matter. Our first problem was on the border between Slovakia and Hungary. We had to stop and pay for the highway toll, which really, really should not have been a issue. Yet somehow it was the first hiccup on our trip. We thought we could pay for the toll with a credit card, silly us. Unfortunately, we couldn’t. And what was even more unfortunate was the fact that we did not have any Forints, the local currency. Somehow, we didn’t even have Euros. I know, we should have been more prepared, but we really thought we would manage with a card. Luckily, they let us pay with Czech crowns and we continued on our journey to Budapest.

 

1st big TIP: BRING CASH! Always bring cash of the local currency, even if you think you won’t need, chances are, you will!

 

After getting lost a couple of times and managing to get back on our way, we finally arrived in front of our hotel, Easy Hotel, in Budapest at 7pm. Checking in was a little bit of a struggle, because of a language barrier, but we managed. We even managed to get ready relatively quickly for the One Republic concert, which was the point of the whole trip. Next, we had to figure out how to get to the concert.

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The metro was a whole other experience. We got onto the metro at Oktogon, which is on the yellow line, and had to get off at the Stadionok, on the red line. Should be straight forward enough. Except that Stadionok was not always called that, on some maps it was Puskás Ferenc Stadion. We decided to just trust our gut and get off any stop that has the word Stadium in it.

 

Finally, we made it and we even made it on time. The concert was phenomenal, but that is it’s own story.

 

After the concert we decided it might be safer to just walk back, instead of taking the metro. Plus there was a huge crowd of people from the concert walking in the same direction as us, so we figured we would get back fine. Well after we shed the crowd at the nearest parking lot, we continued our walk, through a somewhat sketchy part of Budapest. After walking through a neighborhood, which was made up of houses fit to be in horror movies, we got to the Budapest Keleti railway station, therefore much closer to the center of the city. We stopped by the closest McDonalds so that we could make it the rest of the way.

 

After another 20 or 30 minutes we made it back to our hotel, where we passed out, resting for the 8 hour drive back.

 

Well, originally it was supposed to be 8 hours. I believe it was more like 10 hours, because, yet again, we got a little lost in Budapest. Well, it wasn’t really our fault. We just didn’t quite manage to get on the bridge to cross the Danube. And the real big issue was that there are very few bridges that cross the river, so once we missed it, we had to drive along the river for about 30 or 45 minutes, before we managed to cross it. Then we had to go almost all the way back to the first bridge, before connecting to the highway.

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Killing so much time by just driving through Budapest, meant that we got hungry when we were still in Hungary. So we stopped for food at a rest stop just before the borders with Slovakia. When looking at the menu, we were very unsure of what the food was. So we thought we couldn’t go wrong with marinated Buffalo wings. Well, we were wrong! Not only were they not Buffalo wings, but they weren’t even wings! We got chicken tenders. Which meant that I didn’t eat, because of my gluten allergy. Well, there was nothing we could do. So after picking at the fries and after trying to get the waiter’s attention, we got the bill. Again, we couldn’t pay with a credit card, so here’s my second tip:

 

            2nd tip: Bring enough cash. And then bring some more.

 

In Budapest we got cash and we thought we had enough cash to get back home. Well, we didn’t expect to stop in Hungary. So we ended up having just enough cash to pay for our food. Although, we got quite nervous, when we were short a couple hundred forints. Thankfully, I searched the car for any spare change and found just enough. Greatly relieved, we continued our journey home.

 

We got lost just a couple more times, but eventually we made it back home. The trip was a little dramatic, especially because of credit card issue, but then again, what is an adventure without a little bit of drama :)