I’ve been to many places in the states, and San Diego continues to be one of my favorites. The relaxed vibes, beautiful weather (most of the time), and delicious food always draw me in. It helps that Leo’s close friend lives there and that I have family there as well – a free place to stay is definitely a selling point!
Though it’s a smaller city, San Diego surprisingly has more variety than you’d think. You can get the college town feel in Pacific Beach, hippie vibes in Ocean Beach, partake in the hipster scene in North Park, feel like you’re on a weekend getaway in La Jolla…the list goes on! After our many trips there, we typically hit up our favorite spots in terms of shopping & restaurants, and pepper in a few new places as well. Below are my highlights in regards to restaurants & bars, shopping & exploring!
Given I have a good amount of family in LA, it was always a place I visited frequently growing up. I realized in recent years the sheer size of the city and how much I hadn’t yet explored, despite my many visits. I’ve been itching to go back to check out the hot spots…but since Leo travels to LA often for work, it’s been a tough sell to get him to go for pleasure. We finally booked a trip for post-Christmas, and brought in the New Year very LA style at a house party in Hollywood Hills. It was a much needed break from our crazy lives lately, particularly the gorg weather (we did have a few days of rain – but hey, still 40+ degrees warmer than Chicago)!
We did plenty of exploring, eating, shopping across this beautiful city. Below are my recommended places to eat/drink/shop/explore based on my recent experience!
Part of the reason I was MIA last week (and you may have caught this on Instagram) was because I took a long weekend & visited friends in New York City. After four days of eating, drinking, shopping, & exploring – I was EXHAUSTED. I love love love NYC, but I can understand why it’s not for everyone. Just being in such a crowded & congested environment can really take a toll on you! I will say, however, that one thing I find fascinating about New York City is that even amongst the craziness, I feel at home. I get the sense that a lot of people share the same sentiment. Perhaps it’s the diversity of the city – it’s welcoming & comforting in a way. All in all, our trip was a success, so I wanted to share some spots we checked out while we were there (only ones I’d go back to..obvs)!
I’ve been to Athens a few times over the last 3 years, and I will admit that it has grown on me. People have different opinions on the city – I’m one of those who believes it’s completely underrated. Not only is there so much history there, but you’ll find that it is so rich in culture. People there have an appreciation for all the beautiful things in life – music, art, food, friends & family. No matter what the economic situation is, the cafes and restaurants are packed with people enjoying themselves. As the city is massive, it can be very overwhelming and visitors don’t know where to go outside of the touristy spots. Here’s a list of things to do to get you started. You won’t be disappointed!
This summer was my first time in Crete, and I think it’s safe to say it’s my favorite Greek island so far. My boyfriend and I have had a running joke the last month or so about how we’re just going to pack up and move to Crete (with Chicago winter on the way I’m willing to move sooner than later). The first thing that immediately stood out to me upon arrival was that the island is GREEN. Coming from the Cyclades, which are considered dry islands, seeing greenery was a pleasant surprise. The landscape in Crete is unlike any other Greek island that I’ve been to. Mountains, canyons, palm trees, farms, just beauty all around. The island is also not as windy as the Cyclades islands, so the likelihood of getting what I call “sand blasted” (this occurs when the wind is so strong that it causes the sand to lift up off the ground and into your eyes, mouth, hair, etc.) is slim to none. Outside of all that, the food and people in Crete were by far the most memorable. Cretan food is known to be the best of the Greek cuisine, and after experiencing it, I see what the hype is all about. The locals on the island were so welcoming and hospitable, always offering a shot of Raki (the Cretan Spirit made from the residue of a wine-press) and fresh fruits for you to enjoy. Warning: Raki is insanely strong, and it’s rude to not finish it (yep – you gotta suck it up). I was lucky enough to spend time in two of the larger cities on the island, Rethymno and Chania.
Ahh Mykonos, where to begin. I’ve been to Mykonos quite a few times now, and it truly does not get old. Although it has the party island rep, I’ve found that Mykonos is what you make of it. If you don’t want to party, that’s okay. There are plenty of great restaurants and shopping to check out if clubs aren’t your thing. If you’re looking to party until 6AM and grab a delicious crepe for breakfast, you can do that too. With gorgeous beaches, a variety of tasty food, luxury shopping and a booming nightlife, let’s just say you won’t be bored. To set expectations, things to do tend to be on the expensive side here as it is a major tourist destination. However, it definitely deserves a visit. Did I mention how beautiful the town is? And that I spotted Jeremy Piven out and about?
My first island stop on my Greece trip was Milos. One of the Cyclades islands known for their white & blue buildings, Milos is a hidden gem. The beaches are the most beautiful I have seen in Greece thus far, and the food is excellent. This was my third year in a row visiting this island; my boyfriend vacationed here as a kid, so he really enjoys going back for nostalgic reasons (& also because it truly is a beautiful place). The unique thing about Milos is that the flow of lava has created strange rock formations around the island, and these formations have become places for people to lay out and swim. You can go from swimming in caves, to laying out on a beach with fine sand, to swimming in a small pool of sea water between moon-like rocks. Also, there is a ton of history in Milos – the famous Venus de Milo (name make sense now?) was found here back in 1820!
As the island is rich in minerals, the economy doesn’t solely rely on tourism. As a result, prices at restaurants and bars are reasonable and you can get a feel of the local culture and traditions. You’ll find beaches on this island that haven’t yet been taken over by beach bars and lounge beds – in some cases, it’s just you and the sea. Milos is the perfect spot for those who want more of a cultural experience, a quiet getaway, great beaches and tasty Greek food. If you ever plan on visiting this special place, here’s a quick travel guide to Milos.
The part I treasure most about traveling is immersing myself in the culture of the city or country I’m visiting. With Cusco being so rich in culture, this wasn’t hard to do. I was lucky enough to spend 3 days in this beautiful city, walking the narrow sidewalks of the cobblestone streets, exploring the local shops in Plaza de Armas, and scouting for amazing restaurants along the way. I was a bit nervous traveling to Cusco. I had never been to South America, and I was worried about getting altitude sickness (the city is 11,800 feet above sea level!). Luckily, with the help of some medication, I acclimated to the elevation with no issues and was able to enjoy every second I was there.
The main reason for my visit to Peru was to hike the Inca Trail and experience the unbelievable history of the Inca civilization, so stay tuned for a future post on my adventures hiking the trail and the beautiful sites I saw along the way. In the meantime, here’s a quick guide of things to explore in Cusco, as there is so much to see and do!
As you know, I spent the last few days in San Francisco. It wasn’t my first time visiting, but I feel like I experienced the city in a completely different light this time around. There is so much to explore here between the different neighborhoods, picturesque scenery, awesome food, and shopping. I did a TON of walking, pretty sure I walked 12 miles yesterday alone, so bring a comfy pair of shoes the next time you visit. Here are 5 things to do in San Francisco: