Travel

These are the places I have visited, want to visit, and will visit.

Twas Memorial Day Weekend…

Twas Memorial Day weekend and all was calm. All was quiet and all was relaxed.

Honestly, it was! And first, I understand Memorial Day is about so much more than relaxing and I am thankful for having people sacrifice their lives for our country. But as a busy, stressed out, trying to figure out life woman, it was nice to have a few days off.

My guy and I spent Saturday in Capitola, CA. What a lovely little beach town! It is super cute, very family-friendly, and doesn’t have as many tourists as Southern California beach towns.

We found a great Mexican restaurant called Taqueria Agave, where I had some of the best chile verde and carne asada I have ever had. It looks small, but it’s a hidden gem that all the locals seem to love.

Then we headed closer to the water for some drinks. Margartiaville was the place of choice and… I sorta regretted it. Though we only got drinks, the place was pretty janky, our waitress was barely attentive, and though you got a nice view of some water and the cute hotel villas across the way, it was filled with garbage.

It was nice to have a drink, but we left once we finished our drinks–which was hella quick.

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Him and Her drinks at Margaritaville in Capitola. At least the drinks were decent…

We did a bit of walking around their pier, close to the beach, and by the cliff side. It was lovely! After that, we left and headed toward the South Bay, where we had some of the best sushi ever– Gokaku: Japanese Tapas and Sushi.

A few quick things about this place:
1) Do not be deceived by it’s quiet, unflattering exterior. It is busy with locals inside and is quite a cute little sushi place.

2) ZIG ZAG ROLL! Order it there and you will thank me later

3) The servers are absolutely the nicest! They told us their recommendations, their most popular dishes, and were very attentive.

4) A lot of what they serve is fusion food done well, as well as Japanese street food–which was cool to learn and try!

5) Zig Zag Roll!!!!!!  Soooo Goooodd!

I highly recommend people try this place. It was a really great experience, a little pricey, but worth it. Did I mention the Zig Zag roll?

Sunday, I celebrated my friends birthday with her at Homeroom and some other friends. It’s in Oakland, it’s the best thing ever, great great great mac and cheese. If you’re in the area, just stop what you’re doing and go to this place. Everything on the menu is amazing, including their greens and dessert.  It’s just… this amazing…  I can’t even… IT’S SO GOOD!

Below is their cookbook, which I will get one day! I mean, I have my own mac and cheese recipe, but it’s always good to have a reference–especially something that is this glorious.

Homeroom Cookbook. I will get my hands on this!!

Monday I just sat around. A relaxing weekend with good company, good food, and exciting places. Travel and food really go together. Now I just need to visit more places that have food and music combined and I’d be set!

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The Summers of Trips

In my last post, I mentioned that I will be heading to the Middle East this summer. I figured it was time to give a few details/background info on the trip!

In 2010, my family and I went to the Middle East for a relative’s wedding. It was my first time ever in the Middle East, especially the place where my family grew up– Ramallah, Palestine. It was truly a trip of a lifetime! We went all around Ramallah,  Sea of Galilee, Nazareth (where we had the best shwarma), the old city Jerusalem, Petra, and Amman Jordan.

Qubbat As-Sakhrah aka Dome of the Rock Mosque

The experience is something I will never forget and keep safe in my heart. So much happened and so many things were seen–good and bad. It made me proud to be Palestinian and see where my family grew up. And then to relate it to all the events that have happened in the West Bank, Israel, and Jordan was so interesting.

We are going back again for numerous family parties/gatherings and I am just as excited! We were going to try and visit different places, like Turkey or Egypt, but we decided to go back to Ramallah since other relative got engaged. Pack as many parties in while EVERYONE is here.

Did I mention that these are basically family reunions too? Yeah, aunts, uncles, cousins that I haven’t seen in awhile are coming too! And we are all soooo excited! I honestly cannot wait! I’m trying to work on speaking Arabic more (I’m so bad at it though. At least I’m trying, right?), getting all my outfits and clothes ready. Ah!! Just can’t wait!

The Beautiful Sea of Galilee

I truly hope I am able to post here a few times on the trip. Imma be busy with the family–aka no private/alone time, so we’ll see what I can do. But a relative owns a nice cafe in Ramallah that has wifi, so maybe it’ll be quick posts from my phone, with some pics…well LOTS of pics.

Speaking of pics, My guy and I did Bay to Breakers this past weekend. If you don’t know, Bay to Breakers is a 12k from the Embarcadero in SF to Ocean Beach on the end of Golden Gate Park. There are costumes, serious runners, naked people, and so much energy! It was the longest run I’ve ever done and the most fun!

I’m so glad I got to take part something as amazing as this and was able to run at least 5 miles of the 7 (it’s a 12k). Let’s hope I can improve even more on my next run!

Here is a pick of people on the famous Hayes Street Hill and a random waterfall in Golden Gate park.

Wait, a waterfall in San Francisco?

So many people on Hayes Street Hill on Bay to Breakers

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One Row Down…

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My hair from this weekend in Santana Row.

Super cute, right? I loved it and I loved getting pampered. 🙂

Santana Row was great this weekend! The weather was great, the area was nice and fancy, and the company was fabulous. Hehehe. We went to 2 places at Santana Row: El Jardin Tequila Bar and Restaurant and Sino.

El Jardin was in the middle of the actual Santana Row and was an open restaurant– it wasn’t in a building, just outside. I liked that, since the day was so nice. You could people watch, check around the area for stores that might be interesting, while listening to their Latin inspired music. There were also some TVs showing basketball games and a random movie that I couldn’t recognize.

El Jardin’s outside restaurant in Santana Row.

We got to sit at the bar area, which were basically just high tables around the place. The Bottomless chips and salsa were our snack of choice. We would have gotten the guacamole, but it was $11. Yes, this is Santana Row, where everything is expensive and fabulous! I guess we weren’t down to have fabulously expensive guacamole that I could have made just as easily for a lot cheaper.

None the less, I got a lovely Chambord Margarita- a take on sweet and salty flavors and the boy had Negra Modelo beer. The margarita was interesting and I really enjoyed the salty-sweet flavors, much different than any other margarita I’ve tried before. I’m not a huge sweet person, so it was nice to get a drink that wasn’t too sweet but still captured all the flavors.

My last comment about El Jardin, the salsa’s were not very spicy, a little disappointing, but not unexpected.

Sino

For dinner, we went to Sino, a Chinese fusion restaurant that turns into a night club in the evening. We made reservations online and they had all our information. The ambiance of the place was of a typical Asian Fusion restaurant: intimate lighting, wooden tables that looked ancient (in a classy way), and red being the dominant color. The chopsticks were red, the curtains were red, and lots of other red accents around the place.

Our first table we were seated at was close to the bar and a little lower than most restaurant tables. We decided to ask to be moved to a booth, though the hostess wasn’t as keen to our move. It ended up working out a lot better because it was toward the back of the restaurant and away from the bar. It was playing loud music and the boy and I wanted to be able to hear ourselves talk without yelling.

Our waiter was great and very attentive, checking up on us numerous times and always giving advice when we had questions. One of his best advice was the White Lychee Sangria. We got a carafe of that, which had apples, pineapples, oranges, lemons, and lychee with white wine. Tons of fruit, tons of sweet, tons of flavor, and dangerous if you drank too much–my favorite!

We got Shanghai Dumplings as an appetizer, which were dumplings in a silver cupcake holder of sorts. Inside was pork, garlic, black vinegar and ginger, with the sauce being soy sauce with ginger slices. I loved the flavor, though with them being cooked in the silver cupcake holders, they were a bit soggy, making it messy to eat. Lucky for me, I never mind a little mess when eating. And it didn’t get on my dress! 🙂

We then shared Hong Kong Crispy noodles (scallops, shrimp, crab, shiitake mushrooms, and bok choy) and Szechuan chicken (chicken, golden peas, squash, and a chili garlic sauce). Both were very tasty and the portions were perfect for us not to get too full. Again the chili garlic sauce was not as spicy as we would have liked, but everything had good flavor and was cooked perfectly. Nothing dry and nothing undercooked.

Over all, it was a good weekend. We walked around the row a bit more before we headed out, which was nice. Santana Row may be a bit too pricy for me right now, but it still had a nice laid-back feel to it. And there is never anything wrong to splurge a little and celebrate life (or a belated birthday. :p)

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Santana Row for the Weekend

This weekend, I’ll be heading toward the South Bay for some belated-birthday pampering from my boyfriend.

First, he’s back in California and more importantly, the Bay Area. He lives in the South Bay and though it’s still not too close to Berkeley, I am in no way complaining. Portland, you’re great, but I’m still bitter you took him from me for a year. Anyways…

Their styles are in the "menu" section, so it seems like a bar. Super adorable, yet very classy.

Their styles are in the “menu” section, so it seems like a bar. Super adorable, yet very classy.

For his gift to me, he has booked me an appointment at Dry Bar, a blow out bar hair salon. No cuts, no color, just blow dry and style.  I’m excited for it, since I usually don’t get my hair styled much. He wants me hair straight, but isn’t going to be upset if I choose something else.
They have 8 different blow out styles and all of them are a flat rate and include a wash! Ah! Pampering for a little night out on the town! Did I not mention what we’re doing after?

We’re exploring Santana Row in San Jose–an upscale shopping center that Carlos Santana owns.

It has a ton of shops, a ton of restaurants and just a lot of cool places to see.  I cannot wait!

It’ll be nice to hang out with just him. We’ve been doing things a lot of groups of friends, which is great and I love it! But we need some bf/gf time and tomorrow will be just that.

So I’m not sure what kind of food we’re getting, but I’ll definitely try to do a post where I review the restaurant. Trying a new place has been happening a lot since I’ve moved to Berkeley–but I always get excited about trying new restaurants. Sorta wish I had more restauranteurs with me in Berkeley to try things more often. Though it honestly gives me an excuse to cook more.

Well that’s my next mini adventure. I’ll end it off with a little bit of Carlos Santana in honor of this weekend:

 

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“Well tell her that I miss our little talks…”

I was on that bridge! It was spectacular!

This past weekend, I visited Portland for the second time this year.  And it was great! I went to the Multnomah Falls, saw some friends at a BBQ, ate a lot, and even went to the Japanese Garden! But saying good-bye to my boyfriend this time around was much harder than any other good-bye.

While I was in Portland though, I kept hearing this song: Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men. At first I thought nothing of it, but then I started really listening to the lyrics…

“I don’t like walking around this old and empty house
So hold my hand, I’ll walk with you my dear

The stairs creak as I sleep, it’s keeping me awake
It’s the house telling you to close your eyes

Hmm… sounds like a similar conversation my boyfriend and I have had…

These phrases just reminded me of our long distant relationship.  I mean the whole song did–not just because I kept hearing it in Portland and now it reminds me of the city, but for some reason, I relate to the lyrics.

I know that the bridge isn’t exactly our relationship, but I see something in those words.

You’re gone gone gone away
I watched you disappear
All that’s left is a ghost of you
Now we’re torn torn torn apart, there’s nothing we can do
Just let me go we’ll meet again soon
Now wait wait wait for me
Please hang around
I’ll see you when I fall asleep

Yes, we are still together and no we are not a ghost to each other, but… somehow our long distant relationship can fit this.  We’re “torn” apart due to him being in Portland and me in Northern California, we had to let each other go when I left Portland or whenever he visits and leaves me. We think about each other all the time and even have dreams of each other. All this may seem cliché or ridiculous, but every time I hear this song, I think about our relationship.

I think about how hard it’s been for us: how much we miss each other, how talking on the phone or video chatting just isn’t the same, and how much we want to stay together, even if we are not in the same state.  Mainly, this song reminds me of all the strength we’ve had for each other.  When I start to cry during our skype sessions, he always finds a way to cheer me up and make me laugh.  When he gets so lonely and upset about not being near me, I remind me that going through the tough stuff will make being together that much better.

“Little Talks” most likely isn’t about a long distant relationship, it might even be some sort of break up or break down song for a person in a relationship, but the greatest thing about music is that there is always room for interpretation–there’s always a way to relate to a song, a lyric, a beat.  It’s my favorite thing about music, finding ways to relate to songs and seeing how they remind me of my life and my experiences.  Cause that’s music! It’s life, love, experiences, pain, suffering, survival, happiness, emptiness, it’s anything you feel and remember when you hear it, sing it, or write it!

That’s why I need it. Cause when I’m sad and thinking about how much I miss my guy, hearing this song reminds me of our strength and the good times we’ve had–and the many more to come.

“Though the truth may vary
This ship will carry
Our bodies safe to shore.”

Categories: Music, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Traveling for a few days…then baking for a few days.

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Historic Portland Sign

Although I haven’t posted in quite sometime, there were still lots of traveling, cooking, eating, and listening to music done.  Last month I actually visited Portland, OR.  It wasn’t my first time, but it was a first on fully exploring different parts of the city.  Ever since my boyfriend moved there in January, I’ve been dying to see why he loves it so much up there.  And I honestly say I understand why he does now.

Portland is weird and awesome and full of life! The cloudy days didn’t really get to me (even though I was there for only 4 days) since I grew up near San Francisco, CA and am custom to it.  It was just a beautiful area.  I even got to see Mount Hood, a dormant but potentially active volcano according to Wikipedia–which means I was there on a nice day! I knew Portland was weird through the show Portlandia, but I needed to see it for myself.  I mean, Portland can’t be that weird, right?

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Basically the view of Mount Hood from the Area my boyfriend lives in.

It’s pretty weird, but totally a place I could live in.  I mean, it’s a big city version of Davis, CA, and I’ve lived here for roughly 5 years! But besides all that, Portland really surprised me with all the great food it has to offer.  There are SO MANY FOOD TRUCKS, it’s insane and marvelous all at the same time.  I honestly wish every city was jammed packed with food trucks like Portland is.  And it’s not just the typical taco trucks or hot dog stands like on the East Coast– it’s legit food! Yes, food trucks are totally trending right now (which I am all for), but I’m pretty sure these places have been in Portland for a long time.  My boyfriend and I just found a random block in the downtown area and took way too long to decide what we wanted.  I ended up getting a great deal on Indian food (hella food for just 6 bucks! My kind of place.) and he got a korean/ vietnamese burrito–super spices, but also fresh flavors.  Omgosh, so good!! We were forcing ourselves to finish to eat as much since we were so full.

Of course we went to Voodoo donuts and tried the favorites: the Voodoo jelly filled donut, maple bar with bacon donut, chocolate oreo peanut butter donut, and the captain crunch donut.  Amazing, duh. We also had Deschutes brewery, which had absolutely spectacular pork belly and great beer, as well as ventured to the Portland City Grill for our V-Day dinner (which, no surprise here, was really really really good!).

Portland was amazing and had a great city feel… I may consider moving there one day…

And lastly, here are some pictures from when I made Blueberry Muffins because I had WAYY too many of them:

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Uncooked Muffins

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Cooked Muffins!

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Hello Blog World!

St. James Cathedral

The end point of El Camino de Santiago

Hello Blog world! This is my first public blog and I am quite excited about it!  I don’t have anything real specific to talk about besides my life, but there are some things I plan on discussing more than others.  Some interests are food, cooking, singing, music, friends, family, and traveling!

Speaking of traveling (I guess I’ll start with that!), as much as I’d like to say I saw the picture above in person, I did not.  The lucky person to have done a portion of this walk and saw this amazing structure is my boyfriend.  Just last week, after two weeks in Spain, he finally finished El Camino de Santiago and was able to see this.  I love traveling to new countries, cities, neighborhoods…traveling in general! But unfortunately, I was not able to go anywhere too special this year– mainly because my family and I went to the Middle East last summer.  However, I am living my travel dreams vicariously through him this summer, as well as my sister!

Galata Tower in Istanbul, Turkey

This picture to the right is the Galata Tower in Istanbul, Turkey, where my sister is! I don’t know much about this, but I figure when I talk to her/ when she gets back, she’ll have loads to tell me about it.  Two very important people in my life are off traveling Spain and Turkey and I am stuck in the same old spot I’ve been stuck in for the past four years, yearning to get out! But, with friends here to keep my spirits up, it’s still been a great home to me.

I live in Davis, California, but I grew up in a suburb-like city of San Francisco.  Davis is NOTHING like San Francisco, which is the kind of city I was born to live in.  Davis embodies a small town and a college town–cuteness and crazy college kids all in one place.  It’s been great, but I’m ready for something new.

Well, this is my first attempt at blogging! I’m done for the night but I’ll be back soon!

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