Sunday Drive: Rockaway Beach

This past Sunday, the weather reports showed a 0% chance of rain between Portland and the coast. Seemed like the perfect day to pack a picnic and head to the beach. 

…Until it rained the entire day. Literally, the whole day. When we saw a few drops coming down in the morning, we thought it would pass. Trying to be optimistic, we still hopped in our shiny, new car and headed west. Instead of spending the whole day at the beach like we originally planned, we detoured to the Tillamook Cheese Farm, where we watched the factory churning out that glorious cheese, in a (failed) attempt to wait for the rain to pass before driving along the damp coast…

Tillamook Tillamook Tillamook Oregon Coast Oregon Coast Oregon Coast Oregon Coast Oregon Coast Oregon Coast Oregon Coast Oregon CoastDespite the moody, almost spooky atmosphere, It was still really fun. And our shoes were a nice bright spot. 🙂

xxx

P.S. You can see our last Sunday drive here.

Around Here: Portland Saturday Market

I’ve now witnessed firsthand that Portland is a different city when the weather cooperates. Similarly to Amsterdam, it seems that the city really comes alive on a nice day; the hipsters are smiling, the kids are skipping and the dogs’ tails (everyone has a dog) are wagging. I’m serious! It sounds hokey/Pleasantville-ish, but it’s true. Everyone emerges from their hermit holes cozy homes & favorite coffeeshops to hang out in the fresh air. It’s kinda nice to think that we all truly appreciate a sunny day; I know it’s something I definitely took for granted growing up in the midwest. (Never again.)

A couple Sundays ago, on a chilly riverfront run, we noticed signs for the Portland Saturday Market that starts up in March. Again, similarly to Amsterdam, markets are where we would spend our weekends, so we wanted to check this one out and see how it compared. Here’s what we saw…

Portland, OR

Typical cheeky, vintage vibe

Portland, OR

The main stage

Portland, OR

This pint-sized performer

Spring

Hey it’s (un)officially spring. Floral hat for Jaro.

Spring

And velvet shoes for me

Portland, OR

Food cart lunch

Portland, OR

Local brew

Portland, OR

The Irish Lager – tasty!

It’s a large market, with vendors selling mostly cheap trinkets and some handmade crafts. There are also so many food carts that it’s impossible to decide what to eat. They have every type of cuisine under the sun. Hawaiian kalua pork? You bet. Lebanese mezza? For sure. But what about Polish pierogis? They have that too! And the location is great – right next to the waterfront park, a grassy space for picnics if you can keep the loose dogs at bay. Overall, the market itself was… average. Doesn’t compare to the beautiful markets in Amsterdam. I would bring visitors there, if only for the food carts. And the people watching is some of the best I’ve seen here.

Just being outside, soaking up the sunshine, was wonderful.

Spring is on its way. 

xxx

Daydreaming about… Provence

Here’s the thing, people. I’m not much of a color person normally. My wardrobe is laughably neutral, as are my interior design choices. I’m okay with that. (I mean, black is a color. So is white.) However, one ENORMOUS exception is my love of spring and all the beautiful colors that abound in nature because of it.

As we spring forward this weekend, I’ll be daydreaming about strolling through the lavender fields in Provence, with a big, floppy hat and a lovely, white dress. We never made it there while we lived in Europe, but I so crave a chance to see (and smell) it in the glorious spring air.

Provence, France

Lavender

Isn’t that shade of purple heavenly? Maybe to quench my thirst (get it?!) for this experience, I’ll just make this lavender lemonade. What a gorgeous beverage!

Lavender Lemonade

Happy weekend, everyone. We are joining a group run tomorrow morning, might check out some new parts of Portland, and maybe even sneak out to the coast on Sunday. Biding our time until we move into our house!

xxx

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Sunday Drive: Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge, ORHey dudes. Guess what we finally checked out? (Here is a clue.)

Last week, Jaro and I decided to sieze the (sunny and temperate) day and drive out to the Columbia River Gorge. I have been wanting to see it since we moved, but we hadn’t found the chance until recently. While we didn’t get around to hiking, canoeing or visiting the little towns (Hood River, The Dalles, etc), we did sit back and enjoy a lovely Sunday drive.

Here you can see rolling hills of grape vines and Mount Hood in the distance…

Columbia River Gorge, OR

And here’s another cool shot of the Washington side…

Columbia River Gorge, OR

Not sure what was going on with the white balance of these photos, but you get the idea. So scenic and peaceful. We passed heaps of wineries and, at only an hour’s drive away from Portland, I know we’ll be making regular trips out there in the summer.

xxx

Monday Travel Memory: Paris

Notre Dame, Paris

It might be cliché, but I truly believe there is no place like Paris. It remains one of my favorite cities in the world. No matter what season, it still captivates. In the few times I have visited, I loved finding new angles of famous structures (like this one of a wintery Notre Dame) and exploring some of the lesser known areas to escape from tourist routes. Exactly one year ago, we were there with my parents. One of my favorite memories was tucking into a tiny, candle-lit bistro in the chic Levallois-Perret neighborhood for a beautiful and classic French meal. We were lucky enough to be celebrating my mom’s birthday there.

I will always treasure those great memories. And while it can’t be Paris every year, I’m still wishing my mom a very happy birthday today.

xxx

Daydreaming about… Our New House

heart balloons

Happiest of Fridays, friends. I have some wonderful news and in a rare twist, it’s not about travel. Yesterday, Jaro and I became homeowners. For the first time. I’m so proud of us. It has been a scary, stressful, exciting experience and, in the end, we couldn’t be happier about how it has turned out. After a few months of uncertainty and every type of “wrinkle” and “hiccup”, which were all totally out of our control, it is a tremendous relief to know that this little house is ours.  We can get in there in 30 days. The final countdown is on. 

There’s a lot of places in the world I want to see. But right now, there’s no where else I’d rather go than… home.

xxx

P.S. You can read more about our househunting here and here.

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California Trip: San Fran & Oakland

Happy Thursday! Looking forward to a wine tasting tonight with some friends. It’s almost the weekend and we’re in a celebratory mood. But first, let’s wrap up my visit to Cali. I’ve summed up our drive south and our drive north, but what about my time IN the bay? Here we go, my dears.

Unfortunately, I don’t have too many pictures of my time in the cities. We were too busy chatting and running around from place to place that I didn’t spend time lining up for decent shots. So here is a brief summary:

Berkeley: My first night there, we went to a chic dinner at Chez Panisse. Highly, highly recommend. The food was so fresh. The whole street, known as the Gourmet Ghetto, is dotted with eateries run by acclaimed chefs, so I think I need to find my way back there again real soon.

Oakland: My friend lives here so I really got to experience some of the highlights this city across the bay has to offer. It is awesome! It’s totally up & coming and not at all touristy. I recommend visiting Oakland if you are traveling to the bay area. While it’s definitely on the up and up, gentrification has its downsides (less diversity, more expensive, etc) and it will be interesting to see how that affects the environment in Oakland. All I can say is right now is a great time to go…

Oakland, CA

especially with all the trees flowering – so pretty! As for what we did, we (seriously) enjoyed chicken & waffles at none other than the Home of Chicken and Waffle, basically an Oakland landmark…

Chicken and Waffles

and it was surprisingly delicious and, not surprisingly, SUPER filling. We also walked around the quaint Jack London Square, grabbed scrumptious macarons at Miette, got foot rubs while drinking tea at the Foot Spa and Tea Bar, strolled the three mile loop around Lake Merritt (twice!)…

Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA

poked into the shops in Rockridge, ate our weight in cheese from the Sacred Wheel cheese shop and feasted at Burma Superstar for a flavorful dinner and Cock-A-Doodle for a hungover brunch. Basically, it’s the best. I loved all the places we checked out and would recommend them to all my friends.

San Francisco: Well, obviously. I love this city so much. We had done a lot of the tourist attractions the other times I visited (visiting Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Lombard Street, drinks in the Marina, shopping in Union Square and driving over the Golden Gate Bridge), so this visit was more focused on hanging out with friends. I did convince Marisa to ride the cablecar with me from Powell to Hyde and that was really fun. It passed a lot of the attractions that SF is famous for. Beyond that, we checked out Golden Gate Park, took in the views from the tower at De Young

San Francisco, CA

ate made-to-order sandwiches and teensy treats (that’s what their bitty desserts were called!) from Andronico’s, laughed and gabbed our way through a Peruvian dinner at Limon in the Mission, followed by drinks at pub-style Elixir and dance-y Beauty Bar. It was GREAT. Again, I’d go back to any of these places and gladly recommend visitors to check them out.

And finally, I don’t know what I’d do without these two…

Lake Merritt, Oakland, CAThese are friends I’m so lucky to have, especially now that we’re all living on the west coast. It was just like old times, but in a new place. Sometimes familiar faces (and a little bit of sunshine) are all you need to pull yourself together and say, “Okay, we can do this.” This is pretty much everything going on in my unsettled life right now. That’s all going to change soon.

I came back to Portland refreshed and relaxed. That’s the point of vacations, right? Thank you, California!

xxx

California Trip: Redwoods & Wineries

Happy Wednesday all! I’m feeling better and this week is looking up. Way up. Woo hoo!

So, yesterday I shared the coastal part of my trip to Cali, today is the next installment when we drove north from the bay. Our first stop was Guerneville, a somewhat remote town on the edge of some majestic redwood forests. It’s a tiny one-street “downtown”, perfect for stopping and stretching your legs.

Then we headed into the woods. We explored nearby Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve. The thing about redwoods, if you didn’t know, is that they’re really tall. Like 300 feet tall. And they’re really old. Like 1,300 years old. This is what we saw as we walked among the giants…

Armstrong Redwoods

Armstrong RedwoodsArmstrong Redwoods

Pictures really don’t do them justice. They be huge. And reserve itself is really nice and close enough to the bay that you can get your redwood fill without having to drive four hours up to the national park. (Though I still want to visit there sometime.)

After a morning “hike” through the reserve, we obviously needed refreshments and headed into wine country. Not far away in the Russian River Valley, was a stretch of small, adorable wineries along a country road called Westside. We stopped at Matrix (which does not distribute) and tried maybe 8-10 wines for only 5 bucks! Try finding that kind of deal over in Napa. Traveler Tip: Want to experience the vineyards without all the hype (or the traffic)? Check out the options in the Russian River Valley. They are much more low key. I definitely suggest it to fellow wine lovers out there!

After that grueling morning, we realized we were becoming hangry. So we drove over to Calistoga, a sweet town at the north end of the Napa county, for lunch. Stopped into Checkers for some hearty salads and then continued merrily on our way down the Silverado Trail through all those lovely vineyards. Traveler Tip: The Silverado Trail runs parallel to the main drag through Napa, Route 29, but is much less congested. Highly recommend if you just want to drive through Napa and take in the scenery, but not necessarily visit the heavy hitters like Sterling or Robert Modavi (you’d have to get on 29 for them). These were our views…

Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley, CaliforniaWe finished out the day in Sonoma. Traveler Tip: Sonoma is the underdog of Napa Valley. Don’t get me wrong, I love the glamour of Napa and Yountville from my last visit, but with that comes higher prices and more people. This was a different experience and maybe that’s because of the time of year too. February isn’t as hot a ticket as September. I guess I’ll have to go back again to be sure. Anyway, it took a bit of effort to climb over the ridge to get to Sonoma, but it was so worth it. I’m definitely making it a priority the next time I’m in the valley. Such a pretty town, with a cute main square and lots of little boutiques and wine bars. I only managed to get this shot of the sunset over the trees…

Sonoma, California

The sky looked like, I don’t know, cotton candy? Not that I’d ever eat it, but it’s pretty.

Another great day in California comes to an end. Still more to share about our adventuring in Oakland and San Francisco. Coming soon…

xxx

California Trip: Route 1

Hey friends. It’s safe to say that I’m in love with California. It’s the state that has it all. Dramatic coastlines, sandy beaches, rugged mountains, charming vineyards, towering redwood forests, sophisticated cities, the SUN, and so much more. What a spoiled state. (One could say that Oregon has these things, but the weather being what it is, I haven’t experienced them, so hmph.)

For one day, we drove south from Oakland on Route 1, otherwise known as the Cabrillo Highway. We occasionally pulled over to take in views like this… California

strolled along the coast through Monterey and Pacific Grove after a huge meal at Cannery Row Brewing Company

Monterey, California

detoured to do the famous 17 Mile Drive, which includes Spanish Bay…

Spanish Bay, California

Spanish Bay, California

Point Joe…
Pacific Grove, California

California

and the gorgeous Fanshell Cove…
Fanshell Cove, California

Then we came upon The Lone Cypress, landmark of the Pebble Beach Golf Club…

The Lone Cypress, California

And played under this pier…

Pebble Beach Golf Club, California

Before heading back home, we drove through part of Big Sur (which is lovely, but we never found a good spot to pull over for pics on those twisty roads) at sunset.

I highly recommend this drive; it is so scenic. Even the 17 Mile Drive, which costs 10 bucks just to enter, is totally worth it. The beauty in this route is that it can be done any time of year. You are guaranteed incredible views. We experienced some strong wind, but the sunshine was plentiful and the skies were clear. Traveler Tip: In some stretches, towns are few and far between, so fill up your tank and bring snacks. No one likes a hangry passenger.

Stay tuned for more Cali adventures…

xxx

Monday Travel Memory: Dutch Countryside

Happy Monday, kids. Is Monday ever really happy though? It’s not a happy one for me. I’m sick. Again. Just got back from California on Saturday (can’t wait to share that trip with you!), and felt like I was log-rolling into another cold yesterday and it was confirmed this morning.

So. While watching terrible day time tv in bed, I was going through the few photos I have on this computer and came across these beauties. Jaro took them when he was on a boat ride with co-workers and you can clearly tell the higher quality of these photos with our fancy lens. I usually avoid hauling it around (it is extremely heavy), but after looking at these pics, I think I have to.

Doesn’t the Dutch countryside look so peaceful?

Dutch Countryside Dutch Countryside

Dutch Countryside Makes me miss living in Holland. If I ever move back, I want to live in that house.

xxx