October 30, 2014

ROAD TRIP: A WEEKEND IN SEATTLE

During my first visit to the US Nick and I took an epic road trip up the West Coast. We traveled from San Diego all the way to Seattle in two weeks, camping along the way. This is the story of that journey and you can read the previous posts here.

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Behold: Seattle! The last stop on our road trip before heading home, which meant we not only survived two weeks of camping and driving but also a very important relationship test. We were both alive and didn't hate each other, yay! 

The Space Needle

Anyone who's ever been to Seattle is probably already thinking that these pictures look awfully sunny. I think we hit the jackpot when we picked that specific weekend in August. We were told not to get used to it since this was probably the sunniest weekend of the whole summer! 

As you can see we even went swimming in Lake Washington! It really felt like a summer holiday back home when it's one of those really hot days and everyone goes to the local lake or park. 

I still have that sweater
The first Starbucks


Even without the sun though I think I would still have fallen in love with this city. Seattle is right up my alley. It's not too big, not too small, it feels a bit alternative and has amazing views. I think I especially fell in love with the views of Mt. Rainier but for some reason I don't have a picture of that stunning work of nature...

And for those of you who know me by now, I could't ignore the fact that my favourite musician died in this city. There was an exhibition on Nirvana at the EMP Museum so I dragged Nick there and we drove past Kurt Cobain's house on Lake Washington Blvd and saw the bench covered in writings right next to the house. I don't know if anyone lives there right now but it must be strange to have so many people lurking around, trying to catch a glimpse of your house. 



So this is it: no more posts about our road trip. I'm officially closing this chapter but before I do I have to share some idyllic pictures of a hike we did to Rattlesnake Ledge. It was my first proper hike up a mountain in years (remember we don't have mountains in Belgium, just hills) so it wasn't a very relaxing experience. I was constantly trying to follow the group and not look like too much of a European in front of Nick's friends. By the time we reached the top I was done and kind of irritated but the views... completely worth it!

I mean, look at this! We had an overview of Rattlesnake Lake below and just amazing photo opportunities in 360 degrees. Washington is beautiful.



I had an amazing time driving up the coast and Seattle completely stole my heart. We ended up staying there for four days before driving back in two. The way home was a lot less interesting of course since we only took the freeways so I'm going to skip that part and finish strong!

Have you ever been to Seattle?


A very late link-up with BonnieCamilaJessi and Amy for Travel Tuesday

October 25, 2014

MUSIC: THE HORRORS @ THE BELLY UP


Some of you may not know this, but I've been neglecting my passion for music these last few years. I'm nut sure why or how exactly this happened but realising this obviously means that it's been going on for some time now. When you can no longer spontaneously list all band members of the Rolling Stones, forgot whether Television or Magazine wrote 'A Song From Under The Floor Boards' (hint: it's Magazine) and have to think deep about Fad Gadget's real name, you either are dealing with early memory loss or it's about time to get back in the groove. Call it an early resolution, but I chose to go with the latter.

Laten we eerlijk zijn, ik heb mijn liefde voor muziek de laatste jaren serieus verwaarloosd. Hoe dat zover is kunnen komen, weet ik eerlijk gezegd niet. Besef komt pas als het te laat is niet waar? Wanneer je niet langer zonder nadenken alle bandleden van de Rolling Stones kan opsommen, vergeten bent of het nu Television of Magazine was dat 'A Song from Under the Floor Boards' schreef en al eens diep moet nadenken over de echte naam van Fad Gadget, dan weet je dat je ofwel met een vroege vorm van geheugenverlies kampt of het hoog tijd is om de dingen die er toe doen eens op te frissen. Noem het een halfjaars voornemen, maar ik koos in dit geval voor de laatste optie.  

That's how I found myself headed to Solana Beach's famous Belly Up Tavern last Monday for what was to be the third (!) concert of 2014 (I should be ashamed of myself I know). The opening act of the night was Moon Duo, a band who'd picked a seemingly mysterious band name at first - having three people on stage instead of the two you would expect here. Afterwards - of course - I learned that the drummer isn't actually a permanent member of the gang. Nevertheless this San Francisco based band was a nice surprise with music that reminded me of psychedelic 70's rock, heavy synthesizers and dreamy vocals. Despite the inevitable repetitiveness that crept in they did not disappoint.

Zo gezegd zo gedaan. En dus begaf ik me vorige week maandag, voor het welgeteld derde (!) concert van 2014 (een regelrechte schande als u het mij vraagt), richting Solana Beach voor de beroemde Belly Up Tavern. Het voorprogramma van de avond bedroeg Moon Duo, het leek een mysterieuze naam aangezien het - in tegenstelling tot wat je zou verwachten - niet om een duo maar een trio ging. Achteraf blijkt de drummer natuurlijk geen permanent lid van de band te zijn, en alle andere meta-verklaringen terzijde, was de groep uit San Francisco een aangename openbaring. Het deed denken aan de psychedelische rock uit de jaren 70 met hevige synthezisers en dromerige zanglijnen. De herhaling die er na een tijdje insloop, vergeven we hen in dit geval graag. 


On to the main reason why we had all gathered there that evening. I have to admit I completely missed the fact that The Horrors had released a new album but my love for their debut record and the worthy successors must have made such a lasting impression on me that not going to the concert was not an option. The first - and last - time I saw them was in Belgium in 2010 so I was pretty curious to see how they would be doing four years later. And even though the set started slightly wobbly with vocals that could barely be heard and too poppy 80's pop for my taste, it went all uphill from the moment 'Who Can Say' started as the third song.

Op naar de hoofdbrok van de avond dan maar. 
Ik moet toegeven dat het laatste album van deze gitzwarte band mij eigenlijk volledig ontgaan is. De liefde voor hun debuutplaat en waardige opvolgers zat echter blijkbaar zo diep in mijn geheugen gegrift dat niet naar het concert gaan geen optie was. Ik zag hen voor het eerst - en voor het laatst - op de Lokerse Feesten in 2010 en het was dan ook bang afwachten hoe ze vier jaar later zouden klinken. Het begon een beetje wankel met vocals die niet volledig doorkwamen en iets te dansbare eighties pop naar mijn mening, maar de avond werd al snel weer op de rails getrokken toen de tonen van 'Who Can Say' bij het derde nummer werden in gezet. 

Faris Badwan is one of those people who don't seem to get any older over the years, just skinnier which, makes him look even taller. With his eccentric features - that he loves to accentuate - he almost looked like the grim reaper in person. Halloween was certainly up in the air and a bit more than an hour of The Horrors seemed completely fitting. Even though there's less mascara and black outfits involved these days, the British lads still know how to do it after a decade of being in the music industry. With loads of experience and plenty of attitude, this band can still capture an audience with their dry sense of humour and intense stage presence. Ladies and gentlemen: The Horrors still have it after four years.

Faris Badwan is zo een van die gezegende mensen die niet ouder lijkt te worden, alleen magerder misschien waardoor hij nog groter lijkt. Met zijn bijna karikaturistische uitstraling - die hij zelf nog eens in de verf zet - leek hij haast Pietje de Dood in hoogst eigen persoon. Halloween hing zeker en vast al in de lucht en dan is een dik uur lang muziek van The Horrors wel op zijn plaats. Hoewel er vandaag de dag iets minder mascara en zwart aan te pas komt, zijn deze Britse heren het na bijna een decennium in de spotlight nog niet verleerd. Er waren weinig woorden voor nodig, enkel een paar bakken ervaring en attitude, en een frontman die het publiek temde met zijn droge Britse humor en intense podiumpresence. Nog altijd: een aanrader van formaat.

October 21, 2014

OUT AND ABOUT: (NON-)BEER TASTING IN LA JOLLA

For those of you who don't know this (yet)... San Diego is pretty big on craft beers. In fact it's sometimes even referred to as the 'craft beer capital of America' and I'm assuming that's not to be taken lightly. I have to admit I'm not that much of a beer lover - give me my Belgian fruit beers and I'm happy - but Nick is and sometimes you do crazy things for the people you love. Like booking tickets for a three hour long beer tasting where you end up looking like a wuss because you don't like IPA's aka the really bitter beers San Diegans are in love with.

The beer tasting was a gift for Nick's birthday a few months ago and it was actually a great way to be a tourist in our own city and get to know the area a bit better. Most of the time we just avoid going to the 'center' of La Jolla since it's not the easiest place to find parking or get to in traffic. The tour was organised by San Diego Beer and Wine Tours and they have almost exclusively five star reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor so that was a safe bet for me!

First stop: Karl Strauss Brewing Company



We didn't actually know where we would be heading beforehand. I'm sure the clever internet stalker could have figured it out from the reviews (or bloggers - like me - spilling the beans), but I'm not that clever plus I like surprises. When we realized we were headed to the Karl Strauss in La Jolla I have to admit I was a bit disappointed at first. We've been to various Karl Strauss restaurants already and there my magnificent tour started with... something we already knew. I worried for nothing apparently, because there were plenty of beers on the menu we hadn't tried yet and sweet potato fries to munch on, which makes everything better.

As you can see I didn't even start out strong and left the two last 'soldiers' (that's what they called it) untouched. And then to think I'm from Belgium, the ultimate beer country.

Next up: The Public House



Next stop, after a little bit of a walking detour (great idea to walk it off in between) was The Public House. I immediately liked the atmosphere in this pub/bar since it felt so spontaneous. As if they just turned a house into a pub, which is probably exactly what happened. The walls were decorated with signs from numerous Belgian beers and a lot of other international ones, so you know it's serious. 

Actually, we did get a true Belgian fruit beer served here (I was jumping up and down with joy) and it was shocking to hear that many people hadn't tried it before. Our country basically runs on that stuff and what was even more shocking: a lot of people didn't even finish theirs. Honestly, if this was a fruit beer tasting I would be the pro because I would have had no problems taking care of the left overs. 


Did I mention we were also offered delicious food in between beer courses? That's obviously a good idea when your stomach has to deal with all those beer tasters, but I especially like the food at The Public House. It's also the only picture of the food I took that day. So it must be special. If you're ever in La Jolla and you like good food and good beer you should definitely put this amazing place on your list. 

Last but not least: The La Jolla Brewing Company



By the time we arrived at the La Jolla Brewing Company everybody was pretty much in a good mood and I was dreading the five (!) tasters to come. Enough is enough and I definitely wasn't going to finish all of these. So I focused on the hummus and flat bread. 

Despite the fact that San Diego and I have a very different taste in beer - I do drink most Belgian beers actually - I (we) had a great time. We had an amazing tour guide and a fun group. We got to see a different side of La Jolla and discovered some new places to go to on weekends. 

Do you like fruit beer? Have you ever been on a beer tour?



Travel Tuesday
 
Linking up with BonnieCamilaJessi and Amy for Travel Tuesday


October 17, 2014

DAILY ROUTINE: LIFE LATELY


Happy Friday everyone! Is this really the third time I blog in one week or what? I've seen a lot of posts lately on the beginning of fall/autumn and October madness, but even though the weather in San Diego is a bit cooler than it was last week... I'm still not feeling it. Call it luxury problems but it's just pretty hard to get excited about (more frequent) hot chocolates, pumpkin carving and the changing of the seasons when you're still wearing shorts 24/7 and have to put the AC on in the car. It does feel colder when I jump in the pool for my lap swimming at night and the morning fog has finally returned to La Jolla, but apart from that not much has changed here in Southern California and I know I shouldn't complain about that! 

Craving Pumpkin Pie(s)

Even though there is no real prove we're halfway through October already I can't ignore the pumpkin galore in almost every store (mostly Trader Joe's though). I am craving my first pumpkin pie and I definitely want to try making pumpkin waffles, because how can that be a bad idea? Also, I found the pumpkin spice breakfast cereal I fell in love with last year at Trader Joe's so my mornings have become that much better. Other than that I'm definitely craving sweater weather... La Jolla can be pretty cloudy or so I've heard so I'm totally ready for this. I love sweaters so please San Diego!

Watching a lot of Netflix

I might have to start facing this addiction. At some point. But in the meantime I'm reliving my teenage years watching Skins all over again. Blacklist is pretty addictive and Gotham (!) is definitely exceeding my expectations. Oh and I watched the first episode of The Flash yesterday so I guess there's another show to add on my list. My resolution for next week is to seriously catch up on the new season of The Mindy Project. How can I call myself a fan when I'm not even in the know right now. 

Dreaming about Hawaii

We're taking a trip to Hawaii in November... It's coming up fast and I'm so excited! I haven't been looking into any activities so if you have some ideas, must sees or tips for the big island... let me know! Other than that I'm also secretly hoping there'll be a lot of snow on the mountains in California this winter so we can pay my favourite winter landscape a visit and perhaps schedule a day of snowboarding? Fingers crossed. 

Excited for this weekend

I can't wait to try out our new bodyboards! I finally got my very own board - it's a beautiful green - and I'll hopefully be able to withstand those bigger waves better. So first the beach and then we have a probably amazing beer tasting tour scheduled. Because we needed to do more touristy things in our own city! The only thing that might ruin the mood this weekend is trying on wet-suits. I can still remember last time, and it wasn't pretty. Wish me luck!

What are your plans for the weekend?



Linking up with Kate from The Lotus Creative for the Daily Diaries

October 14, 2014

ROAD TRIP: WASHINGTON BEACHES & TIDEPOOL FUN

During my first visit to the US Nick and I took an epic road trip up the West Coast. We traveled from San Diego all the way to Seattle in two weeks, camping along the way. This is the story of that journey and you can read the previous posts here.

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Another week has flown by without me noticing it, which is why there was no Road Trip-post. I don't seem to be very good at scheduling posts or at sticking to a blogging schedule so I probably shouldn't even try so hard! But instead of just rushing to get this post over and done with I'd rather sit down and take my time to write something coherent and (perhaps?) mildly interesting. So here it goes... 

Something Nick was really looking forward to when we reached Kalaloch was going to the tide pools. I can't say that I really knew what he was talking about since I'd never really seen a tide pool (no rocky beaches in Belgium) and I definitely didn't see the point in getting excited over it. That is... until I saw one of course. 


Beach 4 is a great place to go look at some tidal sea life around Kalaloch. There are guided tours you can take to go look at the tide pools on this beach, but we decided to go on our own. It was actually a lot of fun and more adventurous than I expected what with climbing all those rocks trying not to slip or get wet when a wave crashes into them! It might not be as exciting as seeing a tiger or a shark, but at least it's real - actual - wildlife and you don't have to watch your back (expect maybe for those waves remember). Oh and... I touched an anemone. Best-Nemo-experience-EVER.


Tide pool etiquette: 

If like me, you've never been in the situation where you had the chance to go look at tide pools there are a few rules to live by. The basics are, first of all: watch you step. Not only for your own safety (the rocks can be pretty slippery) but also to avoid stepping on a living creature that may or may not look alive. Second: you can touch the animals but no poking obviously. Better still is not touching them at all of course, but that might sometimes be too much to ask. And also: no redecorating or relocating of the colourful creatures. Pro tip: and this might seem obvious until it happens to you (thank god for Nick), go at low tide. For obvious reasons the tide pools won't be visible at high tide. 


After having spent a good amount of time staring at rocks, sea stars, crabs and anemones, we were back on the 101 up to Ruby Beach, which is located some 35 miles south of Forks. It's apparently a very famous beach in this part of the country and was named after the ruby-like crystal that wash up on shore here. It's a small walk to the beach but other than that this beautiful spot is very accessible. 


By the time we got to Ruby Beach those few rays of sunshine we had seen in the morning were clearly gone and I guess this is what it usually looks like?  After a very touristic photo session that may or may not have happened we called it a day.


Have you ever seen tide pools? 


   
Linking up with BonnieCamilaJessi and Amy for Travel Tuesday

October 13, 2014

NEW BLOG DESIGN


Anyone stopping by this blog today might have noticed a few changes... Halfway through cleaning up my template I decided I was in over my head. Although I love tweaking my blog and figuring out how to do it myself, I didn't feel like it was going anywhere. It felt like a cluttered desk where I couldn't think anymore. I was also wasting my day off, which wasn't helping. 

Enter Carrie's website. I've been following Carrie's blog from the shadows for a couple of years now (she has useful tips on blog design and great free social media icons) so when I thought about buying a premade template I immediately went to her Etsy shop. Although there are many great designers and templates out there, I decided to go with a name that I already knew and work that I was already familiar with.

I know what some of you (or just me) might be thinking: buying a premade template isn't exactly unique, and you're probably right. That's part of why I decided against it a while back. But I didn't want to spend a lot of money on an amazing customized template (yet) for something that is just a hobby and trying to do it myself was too time consuming (I should be writing posts instead!). I'm either too picky or too slow, so I made the scary jump. And it's a relief! It was so easy and quick to install everything and I feel like a weight has been lifted of my shoulders. I'm sure my inspiration will kick back in and more posts will start rolling out now.

How do you like the new look? Change is good, right?

October 3, 2014

OUT AND ABOUT: BLUE RIBBON ARTISAN PIZZERIA


It's been a while since I last shared another place to eat at on this blog. I don't know why that is because I love food, who doesn't? So let's set the record straight I'm the sort of person who looks forward to having breakfast before going to bed, can't usually go without having three meals a day and I never say no to pizza. It's the food of the gods, if you ask me. So you can imagine my joy when we ended up at this amazing restaurant by sheer luck.

Nick and I don't eat out a lot (we try not to) but we do try out a new restaurant every now and then. The Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria is one of those places we tried on a whim and it instantly made it to our bestsellers list. I don't know where we were driving back from but we decided we wanted pizza (I love it when our minds think alike) so I quickly looked up a list of nice local restaurants in the Encinitas-Carlsbad area on the way home. Random elimination and instincts made us end up here and that was definitely not disappointing.

This pizzeria is a tiny little restaurant along the Pacific Coast Highway and you wouldn't really notice it unless you know it's there. We arrived a bit before dinnertime but the place was already quite busy so I guess it's best to make reservations if you want to secure a spot. I chose the Pizza Blanca and Nick had the My Father's Pizza and I was lucky to be able to snap these pictures because someone didn't have the patience to wait! We both agreed that mine was definitely the better pizza of the two, but we loved how homemade they looked and tasted. What's even better is that the portions weren't too big at all. Let's just say there were no leftovers and that felt damn great.

Want to try it out yourself?
897 So. Coast Hwy 101 
Suite F102

Encinitas CA 92024


My favourite food places
I started thinking about some of my favourite restaurants when I was contacted by Julia, from The Besty a few weeks ago. The Besty is a website where people can share the restaurants, bars or cafes they would definitely recommend to others (favourites or not) so that everyone can enjoy them. It's sort of like Yelp, but without all the negativity. If you don't like a place or weren't treated properly you should be able to say so, but from my experience it's not always an honest system. So I jumped on the bandwagon and made a short list of some of my favourite restaurants I've been to so far. My profile still needs some work, but feel free to have a look! This post is NOT sponsored, I just enjoyed the idea and wanted to join in with making my own list.

Moving to the US has been an eye-opener in that department, because people just eat out more often here and therefore I am too.

What's your absolute favourite restaurant in the world? 

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