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Wine Tasting in North Fork

North Fork Trip Part 2!

After our delicious breakfast, we set off for our first vineyard of the day, Bedell Wine Cellars.  IMG_7603

We were the first people to arrive in the tasting room…

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We had a VIP Tour scheduled and we ended up being the only ones–score.  Seriously, North Fork is awesome in the early spring.  It’s still low season, so you get lots of personal attention.

It happened to be the one nice day all week, so we got tour  the Bedell property (well, one of three). Even in the winter, it was lovely. It  would be a beautiful place to get married. We got to see the barrel rooms and even the bottling room.  I highly recommend taking at least one tour on any wine tasting trip–you learn so much!

The tour included a tasting….

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Plus a delicious cheese plant…

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Our favorite red was the Musee, followed by the Taste Red (which was described as your Monday through Thursday wine). Our favorite white was the Gallery Chardonnay.

Yum, really great wines.

We stuck around for Live on the Vine, which was part of the NR Winterfest and included live music and a glass of rose.

Maybe it was all the wine, but we were sold on Bedell; we ended up joining their wine club and taking home 5 bottles.

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Next we moved on to the nearby Raphael. It had a grand Tuscan tasting room. I liked that their tasting allowed you to order glasses individually, so you could pick exactly what you wanted to taste with pours ranging from $2-$4.  That said, I didn’t love the wines.   Frank was a fan and snagged two bottles.

Next was the tasting I was most anticipating, Sparkling Pointe.  I love my bubbly.

This tasting paired 3 bubblies with 3 cheeses.

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My favorite was the 2010 Brut.

After that we went back to the B & B for some relaxation!

For dinner, we headed to Greenport.  Our first stop was actually the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company. I’m not really a beer person, but their tasting deal was amazing. $8 for 7 tastes and you get to keep your glass. Plus, after all that wine tasting, I owed it to the hubs.

I’d heard great things about Noah’s and we were excited to check it out for dinner.  I loved the atmosphere! It was relaxed with a slightly upscale sensibility. We ordered several small plates and a couple large ones.

Deviled eggs with crab

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Crab tacos

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Mache, fig and goat cheese salad–my favorite

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Brussels, always brussels

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Fish and chips

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Chicken bolognese

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Overall, I thought the small plates were good and the large ones were mediocre.

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Frank insisted we get dessert…

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Yup, it was a great birthday weekend.

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I can’t believe it’s already been a week since we arrived in North Fork.  Here’s to another great weekend.

Weekend in North Fork: Fig and Olive B&B

My  birthday weekend in North Fork was wonderful. It really is the perfect escape from the city.  It’s quaint, relaxed and charming, it kind of reminds me of cape cod.

We stayed at the Fig and Olive Bed and Breakfast, which was idyllic. I can’t think of one thing they could have done to improve our experience. It was so personalized and perfect. Before we even arrived, the asked if they could help make us reservations, but of course, I was already on top of that!

The B and B was within walking distance to 6 vineyards, so we decided to see if we could get away without renting a car and just hopped on the Jitney.

We arrived at the B and B to a warm greeting!

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Fig and Olive was absolutely beautifully decorated–it looked right out of a magazine. In fact, our room, the Driscoll room, was featured in W Magazine!

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There are only 3 rooms total, and we were the only ones in that weekend, so I was able to take a peek at the room across the hall.

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Our room had a great coffee station and a mini fridge that was packed with complimentary beverages. Lisa had even left a cheese plate ready for arrival!

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There were several sitting ares for guests and lots of books and magazines to peruse.

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After we had a moment to settle in, we took advantage of nearby vineyard that was open until 7PM and had a nice little tasting!  More on wine tasting in my next post.

We ended up switching our dinner reservation and went to the nearby North Fork Table for dinner, which was highly recommended by pretty much everyone. It has a 3-Course pre-fixe with many options to select from.

The  restaurant itself was quite simple in decor. It had a colonial history charm.  The food, on the other hand, was very modern and beautifully presented.  Oh, and there was a lot of it!

We started out with an amuse bouche of lobster salad.  Divine.

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I had the tuna tartare to start

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Frank had a very refreshing fluke and grapefruit dish

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For my entree, I had an incredible kale and ricotta cavatelli.  I have no words for how good this was.  The mix of textures and flavors made it my favorite dish of the night.

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I wish I could say the same for the monk fish….

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Then we had about 25 dessert courses, starting with a coffee, toffee ice cream sandwich.

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Followed by some cheese, but Frank hates cheese, so cancel that…

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Cinnamon sugar donuts, now that’s better…

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And por fin, a s’more/mallomar hybrid. Delish.

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Whew!  We went home and I sunk my teeth into some James Patterson. The Beach was a truly terrible novel, but fortunately the other book I read that weekend made up for it!

The next morning, Frank and I did a short run around the area.  When we returned our hosts  prepared and served us a truly lovely breakfast in their charming dining room.

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We started with a delicious berry parfait

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Then warm zucchini bread was served–mmmmm

IMG_7627A fabulous crustless quiche with asparagus was up next

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served with a side of five spice bacon

 

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Along with our breakfast, we enjoyed reading the NYTimes with leisure.  It was definitely the perfect start to a full day of wine tasting!

Fig and Olive turned out to be a great find.  We read about in NYMag and booked it without looking into many other options. I have to say, it was one of the best impulse decisions I’ve ever made!

Honeymoon-Kauai

I don’t even know where to begin with Kauai.  It is everything you picture when you picture Hawaii and more.  It’s probably the most breathtakingly beautiful place I have ever been.  Countless movies have been filmed on Kauai, and I understand why.  While every island we went to was gorgeous, Kauai was just on a different level.  Maybe it was the most rural in a way, it just seemed so naturally lush, like a giant rainforest.

We stayed on the northside of the island in Princeville at the St. Regis.  The hotel was very grand and had a more stately feel than the others we stayed at.  However, it had by far the most beautiful views.  The lush mountains rising out from the sea had me totally mesmerized, I literally could have stared out my hotel window all day. The views are definitely the reason to stay at the St. Regis.  The hotel itself was very nice, not quite as fabulous as the others, but the views were worth every penny.  Sadly, I don’t have a single picture that does it justice.

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The other highlight of the St. Regis was the nightly champagne saboring. Every night  at sunset there was free champy for honeymooners on the terrace.

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Probably the thing we’d most highly recommend in Kauai is a helicopter tour.  98% of the island is impossible to see unless your in a helicopter or doing a 12 day hike, so in just an hour, you see some of the most magical places on the island.  We opted for Blue Hawaii and we really loved our pilot.  He was very friendly and knew a lot of history of the island.  He even played the jurassic park music when we were flying through places that were filmed on Kauai.  The helicopter wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it might be; it was like floating in a little bubble.

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After the tour, we explored the south side of the island (we were staying in the north which as about an hour drive away).  We saw the “blow hole.” We checked out Puka Dog–Frank loved it.

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We also had a light lunch at the Beach House, a highly rated restaurant. Then it was time to head back up to Princeville. Finally, we took a look at the Grand Hyatt just to get a taste for hotels on the south side of the island. We may end up staying on the south side next time, it’s a bit closer to the action.

The crowd at the Princeville was more social than at the other hotels, so we made some friends in the hot tub. There was one guy who literally met everyone on property and was a total hoot, we called him “the mayor.”

While we did eat at both the restaurants on property, Kauai Grill (a Jean-Georges) and Makena Terrace, Kauai was the first place we tried out smaller local places. I have to tell you the local places were the best places we ate the whole trip–shocker I know!

A few standouts were The Dolphin in Hanalei and Tiki Taco in Kapaa.

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While the photographer sucked, this was the best tuna roll we’ve ever had. OMG.  The Dolphin was just a chill local place with great food.

Tiki Taco was a total whole in the wall that turned out to be like winning the lottery. Seriously, we ate fish tacos at 8 different places, none compared to these.  This was the best thing I ate on the whole.dam.trip.  Honestly, I wish I could eat there every single day.

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Our final formal activity in hawaii was ziplining in Kauai.  We took a great tour with Outfitters Kauai.  We couldn’t have had better tour guides (Star and Muppy).  While it was fun, it was about a 3 hour round trip drive from our hotel, so I think we would have probably skipped it had we known ahead of time.   We returned home to enjoy our last afternoon by the pool, seeing our last saboring and enjoying some live music in the lobby before having a sushi dinner at the Makena Terrace.  It’s kind of amazing that I never would have eaten sushi five years ago and know I can’t get enough.

It was definitely hard to leave Hawaii. It’s such a beautiful place with an interesting history. It’s culture is so different from that of the mainland and I hope that it stays that way.  I can’t wait to go back!

Honeymoon: Lanai

In Lanai we stayed at the Four Seasons.  It was a drop dead goregous hotel with the most amazing grounds.  There were waterfalls and koi ponds everywhere.  Apparently, it the lobby and common areas of the hotel had been renovated recently and they went from this:

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To this!

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It’s an amazing difference, right! The new feel is so much more airy and welcoming.   The rooms are still a little dated, I think they are being renovated too, but still very comfortable and spacious. I’m not one to go crazy over toiletries, but the ones here were from L’Occitane.  It turns out they make awesome shampoo and conditioner.  I may have acquired a very expensive new obsession.

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If you watch RHOBH, this is the hotel they stayed at for Mauricios birthday.  Just a little aside.  There service was greatand the hotel is small enough that we actual got to know the staff during our short stay there!  What’s up bartender Luke?  Oh hey, hike master Jason.  I loved the pool area of this hotel and the nearby beach was really nice.

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I’d definitely say we probably did too much–always my downfall.  Lanai is the perfect place to relax.  They really spoil you with lots of freebies (evian, sun tan lotion, tea sandwiches, popsicles, fruit!) and star treatment. Frank and I both love hotels, maybe it’s the product of living in a teeny, tiny apartment, but I’ll take a home away from home anytime.

So now on to our top 5 faves in Lanai!

#1 Beach Yoga

Beach yoga was great in Lanai.  It wasn’t windy, so you didn’t get pelted with sand, but you could enjoy the sound of water hitting the beach. My only regret was that the spinner dolphins that frequent the bay were never around during our trip.

#2 Hiking

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There’s a lot of short, but scenic hikes right by the hotel. We took a guided tour of the fisherman’s trail and learned a lot about Lanai’s history.  We also did the hike to sweatheart’s rock, which offers spectacular sunrise views.

#3 Nobu

We love Nobu and the new Nobu Lanai was just as good as the NYC locations.  It’s also much much easier to get a reservation, holla!

#5 Breakfast Buffet

I think this might have been my have been my favorite of the three buffets. It had an amazing fresh fruit selection and a smoothie bar.  They even had whole coconuts, coconut meat and water available. Plus, the waiter gave us mimosas to go on our last day!

While we aren’t professional golfers, this is the place to go if you like golf.  We had a great time at the Challenge at Manele, even if it was a crazy hard course.  They had the most advanced golf carts I’d ever seen. The carts had more features than my first car.

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We also did a fun “blindfolded” tasting at One Forty.  We weren’t actually blindfolded, but the courses were a complete surprise when they were delivered.  We really enjoyed them all, but the lobster and beet salad was the favorite by far!

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We did a few other things at Lanai, and I’m glad we decided to spend a few nights there! It’s an island that has fought to stay true to its roots, in fact, as of now there are only 3 hotels on the whole island.  I hope it stays that way.

Maui: Top 8!

I’m married. I’m married to the most wonderful, patient and kind man on earth and I don’t know how I got so lucky.  I was so blessed to have a beautiful wedding with the most wonderful friends and my amazing family surrounding me. I’ll definitely post about my wedding day, but I’d like to wait until I have some professional photos back.

We are back from two blissful weeks in Hawaii.  We had a jam packed schedule of activities, so rather than recount every single thing we did, I thought I’d just share my favorite things from each leg of the trip.

We flew direct from NYC to Honolulu on Hawaiian air.  It’s one of the only direct flights anywhere outside of California and a few other western states, so we were thrilled to make a long flight, slightly quicker. The plane was pretty crapped, I had very little personal space for the 11 hour flight, but we quickly connected to Maui and before we knew it, we were on vacation.  Hawaiian airports are real throwbacks, which is fun in itself.

#1 Four Seasons Wailea

We loved our hotel in Maui, in fact this Four Seasons may have been my favorite of the whole trip.  The grounds were lovely and the service was impeccable. Honestly, I’m not even sure we saw the entire hotel, it was so expansive! There was a great workout schedule and a beautiful open air gym.  We took advantage of the ocean view yoga offered every morning. There was also an gorgeous path along the ocean with lots of runners that we fell in love with.

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We enjoyed all the restaurants we dined at and really liked the nightly live music in the lobby. The meal below was from Spago.  The tuna was out of this world.

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#2 Swimming with the Sea Turtles

This was the #1 thing I wanted to do in Hawaii. I just love sea turtles, turtles in general, but especially sea turtles.  We were lucky that there are lots of turtles in Maui and we could see them by snorkeling right in front of our hotel.  We saw two the first day and 5 the second day.  The little ones were so cute. Everytime they stuck their heads up to breath, I squealed with delight.

#3 Old Lahaina Luau

We were debated between this and one other laua, but Frank’s cousin recommended this one and we purchased tickets right away.  We actually purchased tickets in January because the earlier you book, the better your seats.  It paid off, our seats were great.

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The laua was on a beautiful little property and there were bands, local artisans and little games to play before the actual meal and show.

The show itself was really well done and the waiters were really friendly. I didn’t actually enjoy the food at the buffet, but it was more about the experience.

#4 Ocean Side Massagesphoto

After much debate, we decided to do our massages in Maui. The hotel had 20% off and they had these amazing oceanside hales that were too cool to pass up.  You can see the little thatched huts in the far left of the picture, those were the hales.  It was a pretty funny experience, we waited in the spa lounge and they marched us across the pool deck in our robes with two other couples.  When we got to the little grassy area in front of the huts, our six masseuse were waiting for us. It kind of reminded me of when the contestants meet their trainers on the biggest loser.  Hearing the ocean crashing while getting a massage was incredible. It’s so much better than recorded music.  Even Frank, the massage skeptic, said it was awesome.

#5 The Road to Hana

The Road to Hana is a beautiful 40ish mile stretch over 1 lane bridges and around hair pin turns that is filled with opportunities to stop and see waterfalls, scenic overlooks, small communities and do all kinds of hikes.  I highly recommend downloading the Gypsy Guide for Road to Hana, even when we lost service on our phones, it knew right were we were and on the way home, it explained the history of Hawaii. We decided to stay two nights in Hana in order to get a little more local hawaiian flavor–and we did.  In retrospect, it wasn’t the best plan because we learned that you can’t leave things in your car while on the road due to potential car breaks. So we had to drive straight to Hana making only stops where we could be close to the car.  If we’d did it again we’d definitely do it in one day out and back. The stops we did make were really nice….

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Another fun thing about Hana, banana bread!  There is a place every three miles or so claiming to have the best.  We got some straight from the oven in Ke’anae at a stand called Aunt Sandy’s. It was insanely good–I wish I had some right now. We also got some great coconut chips at the Nahiku Marketplace.

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After we dropped our stuff at the hotel, we could finally do some real hiking.  We drove to Haleakala National Park.  We did a short hike to the Seven Pools of O’heo, due to little rain fall, they were pretty low and only one was swimming worthy.  After that we did the Pipiwai trail.  It was amazing.   Around .5 miles in there is a small waterfall.  Soon after you enter the bamboo forest, which was by far my favorite part.  The bamboo was as tall as trees and created an amazing path.

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Finally, we reached a 400 foot waterfall….

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The second day in Hana, we checked out Wainapapa State Park and the Black Sand Beach, which were cool.

# 6 Travassa Hana

I wanted to stay in a little cabin in Hana to soak up the local feel and remote Hawaii.  Frank is more of hotel guy himself, so when our travel agent suggested an upscale spa resort, it seemed like a great compromise.  The 60 acre ranch was charming.  There were multiple pools and activity centers.  The Travassa included   a jam packed schedule of activities including things like, juicing, lei making, throw net fishing, yoga, wine tasting, coconut husking, bootcamps and more.  It also included transportation to the nearby Hamao Beach, which is supposed to be one of the nicest in Maui.  While we really enjoyed our stay, it was the most expensive hotel we stayed in and it to maintain the rustic feel of Hana, it didn’t have AC, wireless or even clocks in the room.   It was just too expensive despite being incredibly charming, unless you stay three nights, in which case they will fly you charter to your next destination, which would probably make it worth it.

Anywho, our sea cottage was lovely and had its own hottub on our cute porch. They also had banana bread and champagne waiting for us, which was so nice.

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I will say two of our favorite activities of the whole trip took place at the travassa.

#7 Throw Net Fishing

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It was a 3 hour lesson with a hawaiian native. We caught nothing and had the time of our lives.

# 8 Name that Grape (wine tasting)

We lucked out at the travassa in that we were the only ones that signed up for any of the activities.  So we enjoyed an amazing private wine tasting and even got to take a bottle home!

We did a few other things that were really great, but they are more of honorable mentions. We liked walking around Paia and eating at the Paia Fish Market. We also went to Mama’s, which is highly recommended. I really liked that they told you who caught your fish, but I thought the food was very good, but not great.  Frank would definitely say walking around Lahaina is a must. It is a bustling little town with lots of fun shops.  It was a great way to kill time while waiting for the ferry to Lanai, which was part two of the trip….

Back on Track

I don’t know if anyone is out there.  Model blogger I am not!  It’s been so long.  Maybe I just miss live writer? No, no excuses. I’ve just had little to say as I’ve fallen a bit off the healthy track.  That said with a few workouts and 3 salads in 2 days, I am feeling more healthful already.  It’s always nice to start off Monday feeling like you are moving in the right direction.

We spent this weekend at the most beautiful wedding in DC. Honestly, I am not sure I’ve ever seen so much attention to detail or more personality at a wedding. It’s amazing how many gorgeous weddings I’ve been to in the last few years.

In addition to the wedding, I got to see some great friends, including one you may know! Gena! We met up at Dupont to see the farmers market before heading to Sweet Green! There I got to check out the juices that Gena helped formulate.

I snagged a Detox juice that was amazing–pineapple, apple, ginger and mint.  Yum.

We took our salads to go, so we could sit in the sunshine and catch up.  DC had ridiculous weather this past weekend.

Catching up was extremely nourishing ;)

This week I am already looking forward to Flip for Refine.  And I also have to use the Exhale classes I bought on Gilt asap.  I definitely miss feeling like a part of the running community, so I am on the lookout for a race in the near future.

Being out of the city was a nice break from wedding planning. Don’t get me wrong, it’s so much fun, but boy is it consuming.  I didn’t realize how quickly venues book, one of the ones I loved is booked until spring 2014! There are so many decisions to make on the venue, the season, the budget,  the dress, the location–it’s pretty crazy.  However, a few of those decision have been made, so stay tuned for more info on the soon to exist wedding page :)!

St. Thomas USVI

It’s been a pretty good week and a half, I’ve got to say.  I got engaged, we went to St. Thomas for a long weekend and on Monday, we saw Jay-Z at the new Barclay’s   Center.  I really can’t complain.

St. Thomas (which someone referred to as Engagementmoon) was lovely, shocker, right?  We actually planned this a while ago, we’ve come to really like the late September long weekend escape.  Last year it was San Juan, so we thought we’d try something new and check out a Virgin Island.

This one will do…

We checked into the Ritz Carlton, which was lovely.  It was more of a resort than hotel, they grounds were gorgeously landscaped with all kinds of pretty exotic trees, the African Sausage Tree was my favorite.  Sadly, I never got a picture.
We had a nice room…
Double sinks, oh the luxury!  I really can’t even imagine a world with double sinks…my bathroom barely fits one sink.  Somehow I was accused of not picking a sink and using both…
Balcony
I love when they give me reading material.
How appropriate…
From the moment we arrived, it was relaxation time.  Out of habit, I reached to carry my suitcase to our room, and the bell man immediately stopped me with a “oh no miss, you’re hands free now.”  And so it was.
We didn’t have big plans other than the hanging at the beach and the pool, which we did plenty  of!
I could lay on the sand underneath the trees forever!
On the fitness front, we actually got quite a bit in!  We hit the gym all three mornings at 8AM and also did a fair bit of kayaking and swimming.  Plus, we never saw an elevator, so there was quite a bit of walking around the resort and lots of stairs!
We were told by almost everyone to visit St. John’s so off we went.  When you’re on island–hop!
It was lovely!
If you’re ever in St. John’s the Tap Room at Mongoose Junction is a must.  They have all kinds of local beers and drinks and the bartender is awesome.
We ended our time at St. John’s hanging at a local beach bar.
The restaurants at our hotel were pretty limited, so we decided to check out Havana Blue at the Marriot on the other side of the island one night.
It was definitely the best meal we had in St. Thomas.
Seabass with leeks and wasabi mash
The Marriot had great views of Charlotte-Amelie across the pond.
Good-bye St. Thomas, I guess I better get back to the real world!

Marbella

Oh Marbella, once the playground of the rich and famous, and now your typically charming, bustling beach town.  Our hotel in Mijas Costa was about 30 minutes from Marbella, not the 15 minute walk we originally thought!  Distance wouldn’t stop us, we took the bus into town and then took a cab home two of the nights we were in Andalusia.  I loved the tiny winding streets, too narrow for cars.  We spend plenty of time wandering around the pretty plazas and ducking in and out of little shops.

The most famous square is the Plaza de Naranjas, which was so cute, we had to stop and grab a tapa and enjoy watching the people come and go.

 

On our second night in Marbella we did some more wandering and shopping, and then it was time for the most anticipated dinner of our trip! Messina. Honestly, I wasn’t too sure what to expect, I knew it might be a little “exotic” for us, but our friends had liked it and the internet reviews were shinning.

We had booked way in advance and we understood why that was necessary when we arrived, there were less than 30 seats!

The decor was sleek and modern.  The menu included a seven course pre-fixe and an a la carte option.  As the menu included a lot of pates, foi gras, lamb, pigeon, and other things that my palate is not quite developed enough for, we decided to stick with the a la carte.  I was so nervous that I asked Frank if he wanted to leave–I’m such a baby.  All I can say is, thank god we stayed, it was one of our favorite meals of the year, almost as amazing as Eleven Madison Park–but so much more affordable.

Before anything we ordered come out, they served us complimentary “snacks.”

The first was broccoli with a rich whipped blue cheese, amazing. It was served with a spiced hummus-like spread between two chips and some savory little biscuits.

Yuca chips.

Blue cheese ice cream–yes, this was part of our large selection of amuse bouche.

The next surprise snack came in a creative dish

I wish all food was served in a rock

Inside was jamon iberico and a few other little morsels that have escaped my memory, but they were yummy.

Wow, that was basically a whole meal and we hadn’t had anything we actually ordered yet!

However, we’d have to wait because we were served a bag of warm breads next.

I am not one of those people who can resist any bread, let alone warm bread.  Plus, I have a strictly no carb left behind policy while on vacay.

Now that the “snacks” were safely tucked in my belly, it was time for the main events, first up:

Sushi Defusion

Oh my goodness, this was amazing. Frank wanted to order another for dessert! It was hands down the best tuna sashimi I have ever had.  It was served with mascarpone wasabi and a liquid smoke ginger.  You layered the three together for the most buttery, creamy and slightly zesty sushi bite you can imagine. While I do LOVE wasabi and ginger, it can totally over power the flavors of sushi, these versions or wasabi and ginger allowed you to taste the flavors of each ingredient.

On to the mains

Wild Sea bass and shaved asparagus, aka total perfection.

Ravioli with prawns, plantain and coconut, also completely amazing.

While we really had not a bite of room left, we had to at least see what they would do for dessert, so we ordered the chocolate volcano, which bubbled and trickled down it’s rocky chocolate path. Definitely a meal to remember forever.

After dinner we took our last stroll around Marbella

Then it was a quick cab ride to Puerto Banus, definitely where the party’s at in Costa del Sol.

Every bar was filled to the brim, enormous yachts filled the waters, lamborghinis and ferraris rolled down the streets and every designer in the world has a residence in this crazy port town. Dolce Gabbana was still open at midnight.  

Did I mention I met Barbie?

Honestly, it was so over the top, I almost didn’t know what to think, but it was definitely fun to see the night life.  Good bye Puerto Banus, I’ll see you next time.

Mijas Costa (and the Olympic Spirit)

Happy Sunday.  It’s always so sad to see the weekend end, but it’s been a good one so far.  After a day of unpacking, I met a friend for mani/pedis.  The place was only $20 for both, the best deal I’ve found. And they did a great job to boot.  We debated going out for dinner, but decided to just grab whole foods sushi and watch the Olympics.  Wow, Lochte is quite the looker–and not to shabby in the pool either.  Did anyone else see his closet? OMG! Quite the contrast to the Orozco story. My plan for today is pretty basic, I hope to head to the gym soon, pick up some desperately needed hangers on the way back, and then watch more Olympics while I figure out what to do with the last few boxes of miscellaneous stuff.  Those are always the hardest.  I think this post was supposed to be about Spain…

After Ibiza,we were off to Malaga, where we picked up our car for the last week of our trip. There were only two automatic car options available on priceline, and after watching a youtube video of how to operate a standard car in 18 easy steps, we decided we better pay more for automatic.  My hat’s off to the standard car drivers out there.

We took off in our car, but our hotel didn’t have an exact address and our tom tom didn’t know where it was either.  The 30 minute drive turned into a very long journey, at least I got to practice my spanish asking for directions on numerous occasions.  Finally, we asked a taxi driver at a mall called La Canada and he pointed us in the right direction. One more stop at a restaurant and we finally found the one person in all of Spain that knew of our hotel–where is this place?  The hotel turned out to be just off a highway on an unnamed street with almost no notice before the turn off the road.  I almost burst into tears when I finally saw it.  It wasn’t anywhere near where we expected, the address said Marbella, but it was actually in Miraflores, Mijas Costa.  Despite the journey, we were greeted so warmly that we couldn’t help but relax.

El Oceano Beach Hotel was gorgeous. Everything about it was gorgeous and tasteful.  Our room had a playful decor…

The best feature was definitely the huge balcony with sweeping views of the ocean.

After arriving, we immediately headed to the pool bar for a much needed drink.  I  loved that they used fresh fruit for all their drinks.  I made sure to get plenty of strawberries into my diet via daiquiris.

On the says we weren’t traveling, we hung out on the sun deck, reading and cooling off in the pool.  We made quite a few friends at the pool bar during happy hour, it was definitely a friendly place!

The hotel was a bit of a distance from the more bustling Marbella, but we had no problem walking 20 minutes to the little nearby beach bars for lunch.  They often had people grilling fish right out on the beach in little boats. So cute.

Our hotel had a pretty good restaurant with amazing views, so we ate there a few nights.

An amuse bouche of gaspacho

An amazing curry for Frank

Salmon with wasabi potatoes for me.

After a long day, we were happy to only have a few steps from dinner to our room.

While the hotel wasn’t exactly where we expected, it more than made up for it in service.  In the end, we found it relaxing to be a lit bit off the beaten path when we weren’t off sightseeing around Andulucia.

Ibiza

An hour after we left Madrid we were flying over Ibiza–the whole island was visible from the plane. We were staying in Port St. Anthony, the far side of the island from the airport, so after 20 minutes or so, we were checking into our hotel.  Ibiza was both exactly what I expected and completely different. I almost can’t figure it out. It was far more casual than I imagined and in many ways less glamorous.  At the same time it was fun, young and, in many ways, breathtaking.

St. Anthony wraps around in a long bay, which was perfect for walking along the beach and taking in all the day clubs, restaurants and bars. The mountains rise from the water, which really adds to the beauty.  We quickly favorites a little beach bar along the water.

There’s nothing like eating with your feet in the sand.

Fish and Chips.  I ate ever so many chips (fries) on this trip. Fun enough despite supporting the Spanish potato farmers wholeheartedly, I lost six pounds during the trip.  But for health’s sake, I am off fries for the rest of summer.

Each night we sat on our little beach and watched the sunset.

The sun didn’t set until almost 9:30, so after we would usually get ready for dinner.

Ibiza Rocks Bar was probably my favorite.  At night it was the preparty bar for a local club and they always had a great DJ.

This veggie burger pita with cole slaw was insanely good.  I could eat one every day!

Not only did we get dinner, but we got a show as well.   I was blown away by how much cheek was freely shown in Ibiza. But I have to take my hat off to the dancers, they had ridiculous bodies. If my booty looked like that, I might show it too ;)  For now, I’ll just show off some fun face paint!

In addition to enjoying the beach and sunsets, we decided to check out the club scene, I mean we were in Ibiza after all. However, it was quite different than I expected.  Here’s what I learned about clubbing in Ibiza.

  1. It’s EXPENSIVE. I am not talking a $20 cover. I am talking $90 a ticket! I couldn’t believe people would pay that much.  While drinks were around $4 everywhere else on the island, at Pacha (the club we went to) a beer was $20.  Not too surprisingly, the bars were almost completely empty in the clubs.
  2. No lines or crazy dress codes. If you had your ticket, there was no waiting to get in, unlike NYC where the coolness of club is gauged by how long you wait, we breezed right in. Also, you didn’t have to go all out to get in, anything goes.
  3. The real DJs go on late.  The headliner DJs generally go on around 3AM, so people arrive at clubs around 1:30 or 2AM.

We had our choice of some amazing DJs, DJ Tiesto, David Guetta and Armin Van Buren.  We went with Tiesto who was playing at Pacha, and we weren’t disappointed. Pacha was a nice club, it had many rooms, and plenty of less crowded spaces if you need to get out of the chaos. There was fog, streamers, entertainers and all kinds of things going on to keep things interesting. The music was also great, it wasn’t to techno and trance, it was a lot of remixes of my fav top 40s. I am glad we went, but still can’t believe people pay that much to go to a club!

After two days of fun in Ibiza, it was time to head to Andalusia…