Week-Long Stay in Astley Castle

Ever fancied spending some time in your very own castle?  

Astley Castle is an 800-hundred-year-old Grade II listed building located in Warwickshire, England. It has links to three Queens of England and Victorian novelist Georgie Elliot. For hundreds of years, it stood as a fortified manor house but became derelict after being turned into a hotel and gutted by fire in 1978. 

In 2005, grants were obtained from the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage (and many other organizations and individuals) to restore the historic building and turn it into a holiday home. The project was given to architects Witherford Watson Mann to complete the design and cost a whooping £2.7m. Fusing the old with the new in 2013, it won a major design award, the RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture. It recently opened its doors to allow for accommodation up to 8 people. 

What I loved about this castle is that some of the original 13th century stonework and timbers were preserved and integrated with a beautiful intrinsic modern design. It’s almost as if the new living accommodation has been carefully and sensitively stitched into the shell of this ancient moated castle. Truth be told, I’ve never seen anything like it.

As you enter the building, you will walk through the bare ruins of the outer walls which will then lead into four ground-floor bedrooms. Each bedroom has its own unique style and viewpoint. There were two rooms with double beds and two with single beds. As we went with three other couples, this was slightly inconvenient. However, it doesn’t take away from the breathtakingly beautiful building. 

This is the view from our bedroom: 

The timber staircase will then lead you upstairs to the one large open-plan hall, incorporating a fully-equipped kitchen with a medieval-style wooden dining area and lounge. This is where we spent most our time cooking and playing games. As we stayed for four nights, every couple took it in turn to cook a three-course meal one night. We had the first night to cook and so I cooked vegetarian stuffed courgettes with rice. At that time (pre-Covid), I wasn’t very confident in cooking so I just wanted to get it out of the way ASAP. Now that I spent time during the lockdown learning how to cook, I wish I could go back to make a more elaborate and delicious dish.

There is also an outdoor dining area within part of the stone walls. We had a bbq one afternoon where the guys would be outside with the drone acting as a fan and headlights. The food was so delicious!

After dinner, we would sit down and play games – namely charades. There is a fireplace with logs already cut up, which we would spend every night putting on, drinking chai and talking until the early hours of the morning. It was just perfect and special spending quality time with our friends. 

The building had large windows that looked out onto the neighbouring village church and across a moat to fields and trees. 

As we spent 5 days in the area, we decided to do a few days trips to keep us busy. One day we just walked around the castle, which in itself was pretty. Another day we all drove to Peak District but as the weather wasn’t on our side, we only walked up a hill, got extremely muddy and then walked backed down. In the last day, we also ventured out into Warwick where we had the most delicious breakfast at The Neighbourhood Leamington, walked around Warwick Castle and then indulged in the Tring Champneys Spa.

If you’re looking to enjoy a short break somewhere truly different and unique, check out one of Warwickshire’s best kept secrets! 

The good news is it won’t cost a king’s ransom but the bad news is there’s a long waiting list.

1 Week Itinerary For Los Angeles, California

The last stretch of my California road trip was a week in Los Angeles. We were pretty exhausted at this point, after spending a few days in Simi Valley, San Diego, Las Vegas and San Francisco. After landing at the airport, we took an uber to our Air BnB located in West Hollywood – it was actually my favourite Air Bnb I ever stayed at!

Here a few top things to do in your one-week trip to Los Angeles.

Central LA (Hollywood)

Sunset Boulevard

One of LA’s most iconic sites, Hollywood Boulevard features dazzling attractions such as the iconic Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

We were super excited to walk down the Hollywood Blvd for the walk of fame, where we saw the star-stubbed sidewalk. This is where 2,600 Hollywood entertainers have earned the achievement of a lifetime in the form of a 5-point star embedded in the sidewalk. 

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (TCL Chinese Theatre)

Down the street from the infamous walk of fame is the Chinese Theatre which décor was modelled after the red Chinese Pagoda. This is where countless blockbuster movies held its global premiere, included the 1977 George Lucas Star Wars. This place is also famous for housing over 200 handprints and footprints of famous celebrities in the front yard of the theatre. 

Hollywood Sign Hike

You cannot come to California and not do LA’s most famous hike up to the Hollywood sign! We didn’t climb all the way to the top because we didn’t have enough time, but we did walk up to the cute 1930s Griffith Observatory, which is perched on the southern slopes of Mount Hollywood and provides great panoramic views of the Hollywood Hills, the Hollywood Sign and the gridded city below.   

Rodeo drive

Just as you can’t visit Egypt without visiting the pyramids of Giza, you can’t come to Los Angeles without visiting the infamous Rodeo Drive. We really enjoyed walking down this shopping strip (and subtly trying to spot a celeb!). 

The Beverley Hills Hotel

The famed ‘pink palace’ is a great place for brunch or people watching. We went to get an ice cream sundae and of course people watch! The interior is truly stunning and a time warp in itself. 

Universal Studios Hollywood 

After already going to Universal Studios in Florida, I was excited to what the biggest theme park and film studio in the world has to offer! I was blown away – you truly get the ultimate Hollywood experience with the movie – themed rides and a behind-the-scenes studio tour.It was great watching the shows of how they make the fire effect. 

This theme does get crazy busy, so I would recommend getting there early and try to go off-peak if you can. 

Westside LA (The Beaches)

Santa Monica 

Santa Monica is famous for the beach, the pier and the stores. On the pier, you’ll find tons of restaurants, arcades, roller coasters, fairground rides and street artists performing from early noon until late at night. This pier is particularly important because it is at the end of Route 66, the highway that stretches across most of the US.

My cousin, Heba drove me here and we walked along Third Street Promenade to try Philz Coffee – defo recommended if you need a coffee fix! 

Venice Beach

There is a lot more things to do in Venice Beach than in Santa Monica. The Uber dropped us off at Venice Canals Historic District where we walked along the manmade canals, which is modelled after Venice in Italy (hence the name). The canals actually used to be 2-3 times bigger than it is today, but due to the automobile gaining popularity, most of the canals ere closed and turned into normal roads. 

We then walked to Venice Beach and very quickly noticed Muscle Beach, the outdoor gym – it was a fun but bizarre sight-seeing these hugely bulky, muscly men working out and almost putting on a show for the girls. We then grabbed a hot dog and sat on the basketball pitch stands to do some people-watching and absorb the electric atmosphere. I loved how diverse this beach town is!

We continued walked down the Venice Boardwalk where we noticed the famous Venice Beach sign and the Skate bowl where skaters performed their tricks.

We actually came back to here to watch one of the best sunsets in the world and to have dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant called C&O Trattoria. It was so authentically Italian with the food and atmosphere both being on point. As soon as you sit on the table, they would bring around these small amazing garlic knots every 10-15 minutes. Its so hard not to inhale too many before your tasty meal arrives, because they just tasted SO fresh.

Malibu

I actually came to Malibu on a day trip with my Californian cousins in the first weekend I arrived. There is plenty to do in this area, included the Getty Centre and Getty Villa. We didn’t end up going to either of these as I wasn’t really interested in museums of modern art/classical history and would rather spend it in what Malibu is best known for – its beaches. So the first thing we did was to go and grab some breakfast from the SunLife Organics where we had the best Samurai Bowl filled with granola, banana and strawberry. Heba also took me to the Sunset Café in Malibu where this woman was randomly talking to us about her husband and always being alone in the house. I forget out outgoing Americans can be compared to the slightly more reserved Brits!

TOP THINGS TO DO IN SAN FRANCISCO – MY HEN DO CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP (PART 3)

Truth be told, I didn’t know much about San Francisco and what it offered. All I knew was that it was a city of high-tech and start-ups. Little did know that it has diverse restaurants, quirky roof-top bars and fun little neighbourhoods. 

This was the fourth leg of my amazing hen do – the first being Simi Valley, then San Diego, then Las Vegas before finally taking a plane to SF. We only had three days to explore this condensed city filled with a quirky energy unique to San Francisco. 

San Francisco is crammed into about 47 square miles of hills and coastline. One advice I would give is to make sure you pack your windbreakers and warm layers because you are essentially guaranteed a visit from the affectionately named, Karl the Fog. 

So here are top 7 things to do during your visit to the ‘City By the Bay’!

North Beach (aka Little Italy)

We went to Little Italy on our first evening in San Francisco, mainly because we were super hungry and this is were Tony’s Pizza was. This small town-treasure is a historically Italian neighbourhood and you can still the prominent influence it still holds. We really enjoyed just walking around and exploring the cutest little cafes and restaurants.

Tony’s Pizza Napolitana 

We were told by almost EVERYONE that if you want to experience North Beach like a local, to end the day with a slice of Tony’s pizza and then walk up to Coit Tower or Telegraph Hill for panoramic views of SF and the Bay area. Little did we know though that the queue was going to be MASSIVE and was more than 2 hours waiting list. Stubbornly, we put our name on the list and walked around the neighbourhood. 

pizza-san-francisco

Lombard Street

After walking towards Coit Tower, we walked to Lombard Street. This is where you will get a view of the famous 8 hairpin turns of ‘crooked street’. The street leading up to it was so steep that we had to walk backwards. Just by pure excitement of seeing this street, I was walking way ahead and my friends kept calling me the ‘cub scout’ – nice.

lombard-street-san-francisco

Mama’s on Washington Square: 

My friends and I remember reading about this place prior to our visit, but then just stumbled upon it whilst walking to Lombard Street. For over 50 years, this small restaurant on the corner of Stockton and Filbert in the Washington Square of San Francisco has been attracting crowds with its delicious breakfast food. Menu items include fluffy benedicts, homemade jam, fresh omelettes, spicy Italian sausage and 5 types of French toast. However, like all of the good restaurants in SF, Mama’s tends to have a pretty big line, especially on the weekends. Luckily, we only had to wait for 30 minutes, which wasn’t too bad. The food was definitely worth it!

Visit Pier 39 on Fisherman’s Wharf

Visiting the Fisherman’s Wharf in SF is a must-do for anyone visiting the city. It is central to the Historical Waterfront District in the city and is so popular with tourists. Popular attractions here are Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square (try the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company amazing chocolate and ice cream sundae – its well worth the calories!) and honking sea lions. You should also try Boudin Bakery Café to try the infamous clam chowder.

Visit the Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco’s top tourist sight, it would be almost criminal if you visited San Francisco without stopping by to see the Golden Gate Bridge! It’s a beautiful structure and draws your eye no matter where you view it from. No trip to SF would be complete without visiting here. At its completion in 1937, the suspension bridge was considered an engineering marvel – the longest main bridge span in the world. 

There is a pedestrian walkway that spans the entire mile-wide bridge, as well as a bike path – but we just took an uber to get to the other side because of the time constraints (or because we were lazy). We went to a more local spot recommended by my cousin for a great viewpoint – Battery Spencer. We took an uber to the top of the huge hill and was also blown away (like… literally). The wind was incredibly strong, especially while you still have to walk a little longer to get to the top. Once we got to the top, we were spoiled with beautiful views of San Francisco. 

Once we got down, we were about to order an uber before realising that none of us have signal! Worst of all, there were no taxis and hardly anyone present. We had to wait a while to eventually hitchhike our way to the side of the bridge. It was lucky we spotted two guys getting out of a taxi that they’ve rented for the day and they were kind enough to cram us in the back. It did make for some funny conversations! 

Once we got down, we were about to order an uber before realising that none of us have signal! Worst of all, there were no taxis and hardly anyone present. We had to wait a while to eventually hitchhike our way to the side of the bridge. It was lucky we spotted two guys getting out of a taxi that they’ve rented for the day and they were kind enough to cram us in the back. It did make for some funny conversations! 

Ride a cablecar

San Francisco is home to one of the world’s last manually operated cable car systems. We used it to get from the pier to Union Square – but the convenient exit and entry stops also happens to be located at some of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. We waited for almost 45 minutes but getting on – but it’s one of those things that you cannot leave without doing. 

Go shopping in Union Square

We didn’t actually have time to go shopping, but we walked around Union Square. Union square actually used to be where Civil War rallies were held, but the square has since morphed into a hub for high-end shopping in SF. It is a part of the city that is bustling with life with its fancy boutiques, department stores, art galleries, luxury hotels and theatres. 

Explore Chinatown

I don’t usually go to Chinatowns but after hearing that the one in SG is home to the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest in USA, I had to go. Established in 1848, it boasts an impressive display of markets, speciality shops and restaurants. More importantly, it has played an integral part in the history, culture and livelihood of Chinese immigrants.

Many tour guides would almost mention to pop into Fortune Cookie Factory to learn more about the cookies history – did you know that fortune cookie was actually created in SF? 

I loved just taking a stroll here and enjoying the ambiance. It looks like we are in a different world altogether as its maintained many of the old traditions and customs for years. 

Alcatraz

You’ve probably seen it in movies or at least heard of it – but now, you can get the chance to see it in person. Alcatraz is an island in the SF Bay and was once a military and federal prison. It has since been converted to a National Historic Landmark that you can tour. I didn’t know much about it before I went, but it was fascinating hearing about the atrocities meted out of the prisons – its scary and gruesome. When the federal prison was in operation, it was believed to have kept the hard criminals at bay. Most notorious of them all was Al Capone, who was imprisoned here. They moved there due the to its isolated location and since the waters of SF Bay are so cold and the currents so strong, they thought that it was impossible to escape the island.

The prison was built in 1910 – 1912 as a military prison; it became a federal prison in 1934 and operated until March 1963, when it was closed due to the very high maintenance costs.

My friend and I took a guided tour of Alcatraz Island first thing in the morning. You really should book it a few weeks in advance if you can as it can get fully booked. We were quite lucky as we kept a tab on the website the day before and luckily two tickets became available for the time slot we wanted. It is usually a 1.5 to 2 hour guided tour and you would have to a 15 minutes ferry ride each way.

Charmaines Rooftop bar

We were recommended this rooftop bar by my cousin, and no wonder Charmaines rooftop bar is the hottest roof bar at the moment in San Francisco. The views are amazing and the interior is flawless – so modern and chic. When we got there, we found ourselves a firepit outside and sat around it chatting. I am such a sucker for views – but this one was amazing!

One tip from me is to get there as early as you can. This bar is so popular (and for good reason), so you could potentially face a long time of waiting to get into the bar. It is really worth the wait and you will have a fabulous time there!

Accommodation:

We stayed in Courtyard by Marriott San Francisco Union Square. Its a great hotel if you want to stay somewhere central, clean and affordable!

PARTYING IN LAS VEGAS (3 DAYS ITINERARY) – MY HEN DO CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP (PART 3)

Vegas’ main strip is literally “Disney for adults” – it has plenty of adult attractions with everything seemingly made with purpose. We had the most amazing 3 nights and 4 days here.  We thought that this was the perfect amount of time to see the top tourist sites and get a little crazy in the clubs/ pool parties. But trust me… after your long weekend in Vegas, you’ll be ready to go home back to normal life or move on to your next city. I LOVED Vegas but it can be over-stimulating and overwhelming. 

Watch my travel video for this trip here!

We arrived in Las Vegas at 4pm, called an Uber and headed straight to the Venetian Hotel. Once we dropped off our luggage in our room, we quickly changed and got ready to start the weekend! 

las-vegas-airport

Day 1: 

Watched a show

As we already had pre-booked tickets, my friend and I had to quickly change our clothes and run to catch the show on time. With a few minutes to spare, and a Frappuccino in hand, we went to Treasure Island to see the Mystere show by Cirque du Soleil. It’s one of eight resident Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas with the others being O, Zumanity, Ka, Love and Michael Jackson: One. Mystere has been around since 1993 and is one of the first Cirque du Soleil show to appear on the strip. I loved the fact that this particular show has the most audience participation. The entertainment began even before the show started. Everything was just incredible – from the costumes, bright lights, music and to the performance. There were high energy acrobats which had me on the edge of my seat! I never quite appreciated how flexible the human body can be (eeeek?!). 

I was blown away. I definitely recommend catching one of the amazing stage shows Las Vegas has on offer – there is a show for every taste.  

The Dorsey in Venetian Las Vegas

As my friend and I were quite tired from the travelling – we decided to stick with just going to a cocktail bar for the first night. We decided to go to The Dorsey which was based in the hotel we were staying in. It had the most beautiful aesthetics as the interior design included a rich combination of oak, leather and marble. Even though it is located on the casino floor, it still offered an intimate and lively atmosphere. 

It was meant to be an early night but was far from it! The music was old school R’n’B and so we were just dancing away the whole night!

Day 2: 

Breakfast – Go Greek Yoghurt

It must have been the excitement of being in Vegas that got us all up early and buzzing to go. We put our swimming cozzies on and walked around the huge hotel to find some breakfast. As we wanted something relatively light, we found ‘Go Greek Yogurt’. I can’t even describe how delicious this was. They describe themselves as the “Rolls Royce of Yoghurts” and you can get to choose between fresh or frozen yogurt and then add toppings including fresh fruit and superfoods such as goji berries, shaved dark chocolate, flax seeds, hemp seed, toasted coconut and cacao nibs. It tasted so good!!

Pool day

After grabbing some breakfast, we went over to our hotel’s pool where there were a number of different sized pools, loungers and daybeds. It felt like a contemporary, luxurious oasis! As my wedding was soon approaching, relaxation and getting a san tan was my goal and so I was content with just lounging on the pool chairs and dipping into the pools when it got too hot. We met some really cool Cubans there and my friends and I were just chatting to them for a while. I just loved the chilled atmosphere and how friendly people were there.

Bridesmaids surprise! 

After a day of tanning and relaxing, we went back to the room to get ready for dinner and to start our partying. When I got out of the shower, the girls surprised me by decorating the whole room with some balloons and slightly (or very?) inappropriate balloons. It was so funny; we just danced and took pictures while getting ready. It was one of those moments where I just had to pinch myself to check if I was really in LAS VEGAS, celebrating my hen do with my favourite girls. 

Dinner at the Venetian Hotel 

I know what you’re thinking – ‘its been two days and y’all still haven’t left the hotel!?!’. Trust me though, you don’t even need to – The Venetian and The Palazzo combined host more than 40 restaurants. We had our first Las Vegas dinner at the Grand Canal Shoppes, which are covered by a magical blue-sky painted ceiling, complete with vanilla fluffy clouds. Admittedly, I had to do a double-take a few times to work out if its real or not. We sat outside one of the restaurants so we could enjoy the atmosphere whilst eating a delicious Italian pasta with pesto. 

Clubbing!

SO now for the fun part! We started off the night by taking an uber to Kaos. As my cousin knew someone who is a Las Vegas promoter, we were fortunate to skip all of the queues and go right in for free. Most nights, ladies get in for free if you know someone. The day you choose to go to the club, either contact a club promotor in advance if you know anyone or just look out for the guys walking around in nice outfits asking you to come on their guest list. You will find them either in front of the club or wandering around the Las Vegas Strip. 

Kaos is an outdoor club and was by far, my favourite out of all the clubs we went to. It was just the most perfect clubbing night as the weather was amazing, the atmosphere was on point, the music was great (Latin R’n’B reggaeton) and it wasn’t too crowded so you have room to dance (I know, I’m getting old…). The highlight of the night was seeing Bad Bunny. Admittedly, I never actually heard of him until I watched him live but now I’m obsessed with his music! So good… 

After a few hours, we wanted to see a few other clubs – none were as impressive as Kaos. The last club we went to was XS where we watched Chainsmokers perform live. Everything about Las Vegas clubs is so extra and over the top, but we EMBRACED it. Xs was another outdoor club with a cool swimming pool in the middle. After dancing away for an hour, we went back to the hotel and slept like a baby. 

Day 3:

Day Pool Party! 

After waking up quite late – we spent the last full day going to Las Vegas legendary day clubs. These clubs typically open around 11am and get packed very quickly! I don’t remember the name of the day club we went to – but it was good. I just remember being randomly pulled around the pool in an inflatable sun bed and people giving me a high 5 and their top tips of being in a relationship/ married as I was the bride-to-be. Totally random but it was hilarious! 

The pool party was good fun and definitely recommended if you find yourself in Vegas – just make sure to research the best pool parties ahead of time! 

Dinner at Lavo 

We went back to the hotel and got dressed up ready for dinner. We had a reservation at Lavo, which is right off the main entrance at The Palazzo. Its Italian food is meant to be some of the best that you’ll find on the Vegas Strip. The menu at Lavo is more extensive that you’d expect to see at a fine dining establishment but everything from the pastas to the chicken dishes are delicious (from what I tried and could see). 

Walk down the strip 

I actually left my friends at the restaurants as they weren’t up for walking down the strip. The travel blogger in me knew that I couldn’t leave Las Vegas without at least walking down the strip to check out the awesome hotels and water fountains. 

The most memorable displays are the Bellagio Fountains which goes off every 15-30 minutes and the volcano outside the Mirage which erupts on the hour from 6pm to 11pm. Luckily, i was able to catch both – its worth the wait 🙂

After another night of clubbing and dancing the night away, we went back to the hotel and called it a night. Las Vegas exceeded my expectations by far. My mum told me that I’d either love it or hate it but she was the one who encouraged us to go to Vegas as she had a blast when she went there before I was born. Thanks Mama G for the recommendation! Saying that though, after partying/ exploring Las Vegas for 3 days – you’ll be ready to head back home for some much-needed rest.  

Accommodation 

The most memorable part of the Las Vegas trip for me was the accommodation. Whether its your first time in Las Vegas or 100th time, you will want to find a hotel along the Las Vegas Strip for the 3 days you’re there. When I refer to “The Strip”, the means the four-and-a-half-mile strip of hotels and casinos along Las Vegas Blvd. The area is competitive with luxurious and unique hotels, fitting every country you can think of. If you like Egypt, stay at the Luxor which is shaped as an Egyptian pyramid and has a strobe light that (supposedly) can be seen from space! Like Venice, stay The Venetian for some of the best Italian food in the world and a grand canal weaving through the casino. You get the idea… 

We ended up choosing The Venetian which is one of those colossal hotels you cant miss on The Strip. This lavish, Italian-themed hotel was absolutely stunning with its own replica Rialto Bride, gondola canals and stunning intricate ceilings. It towers 36 stories high with 4049 rooms. I was blown away by The Venetian’s lobby ceiling! It was a magnificent painted fresco modelled after Michaelangelo’s masterpiece ceiling in the Vatican’s Sistene Chapel. Jaw dropped. 

Have you travelled to Las Vegas? Leave me your comments below…

3 DAYS IN SAN DIEGO – MY HEN DO CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP (PART 2)

The second part of the Hen Do California Trip was 3 days in San Diego. I was super excited about this stop because the city is just amazing! It’s probably one of my favourite US cities now because of its beaches, parks, neighbourhoods, food and the general laid-back beach vibe. It’s got the typical skyscrapers that most American cities have but it’s different – it’s got a real small town feel to it. 

Hence, I’ve created for you the ULTIMATE three-day guide to the city of San Diego. 

Day 1: Gaslamp Quarter, Embarcadero, Fish Market Restaurant

I arrived here after spending the weekend in Simi Valley, Los Angeles. I went on the most beautiful train journey using Amtark Pacific Surfliner. I literally have no words to describe the sea views you have. The Pacific Surfliner has two stops in San Diego: Santa fe Depot in downtown and the Old Town Transit Centre. I went to the main station which in downtown. 

Luckily, a hotel nearby was kind enough to let me hold my bags there for 2 hours until my two friends come as they were delayed. As I had a bit of time to spare – I decided to walk from downtown to Gaslamp Quarter. 

Gaslamp Quarter

Gaslamp District is home to boutiques, cafes, restaurants and a bunch of cool shops. I was a huge fan of the historical buildings – like Balboa Theatre and the Louis Bank of Commerce. It’s definitely got a small town feel to it as it has no skyscrapers and very few traffic lights.  Encompassing a roughly 16 block radius, the Gaslamp district has traditional Victorian architecture mixed with trendy construction which truly creates a unique mashup of styles. Make sure to try the ice cream at Ghirardelli! 

gaslamp-quarter-san-deigo

It’s also meant to have a great nightlight scene as its famous for its many rooftop bars – unfortunately we didn’t have time to check it out. 

Embarcadero

After meeting up my friends, we dropped off our bags in the Airbnb and took an uber to the Embarcadero. This is an area along the waterfront where you can explore some of San Diego’s top attractions: The Maritime Museum, the USS Midway (a long serving aircraft carrier with 29 restored aircrafts on board) and the Star of India (the world’s oldest active ship). We just took pictures here, chatted and chilled at the waterfront. 

The Fish Market Restaurant

After reading reviews about it on Google, I must say, this restaurant lived up to expectations. It had excellent harbour views and the prices were moderate for an exceptional dinner. We had the classical fish and chips. Beware though, there is often a long queue and so you might have to wait for a while for your dinner – but it worth it!

Day 2: La Jolla, Mission Beach, Sunset Cliffs, Little Italy

La Jolla

After surviving our first night in our Air BnB, we took an uber to La Jolla beach (pronounced la-hoya). We had breakfast at Sugar and Scribe Bakery before heading down to La Jolla Cove. There is no way to miss it as you just follow everyone else down the road. 

 La Jolla Cove is a beautiful sheltered cove with crystal clear waters. We continued walking along the beach promenade where we noticed plenty of seals and pelicans – the real residents around here. The beaches are so beautiful!

Pacific to Mission Beach

There are plenty of other beaches that we also wanted to see before leaving San Diego. The other top ones include Ocean Beach (traditionally hippy option), Mission Beach (home to Belmont Park fun fair) and Pacific Beach (good for surfing). As I already surfed in Ventura a few days before, we took an uber from La Jolla Beach to Pacific Beach with the aim of walking down the promenade to Mission Beach. We took an electric scooter from Pacific Beach which was super fun. It was fun until I rode straight into a wall and had a bruise that stayed until my wedding and honeymoon! All of this so I can go ahead and take a video of my friends scootering (that’s love haha!)

Mission beach was amazing and i would definitely recommend going. Other than relaxing at the beach, or at the bar, there is plenty of things to do here. We had an ice-cream and took in the vitamin D that our bodies desperately craved from living in London. 

ice-cream-mission-beach

Sunset Cliffs

As the sun was beginning to set, we quickly dropped off our electric scooters and took an uber to Sunset Cliffs as this was meant to be the best place to catch the sunset in San Diego ( I think the name gives it away). It was just the perfect evening and I spent with the perfect friends a girl could ask for. 

Little Italy

My friend LOVES Italian food and so at this point, we were starving and were ready to eat. Little Italy is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in San Diego, dating back in the early 1900s when it was a fisherman’s outpost for Italian immigrants. It has since grown to over 50 square blocks. We sat outside of the restaurant (so that we could people-watch) and ate the best pasta I had in a while. We also got a few desserts to share between us – ya’ll Italians know how to cook! 

We then headed back to the apartment and packed our bags ready to leave the next day. 

Day 3: Balboa Park, Old Town

Balboa Park

Located in the heart of San Diego, the giant 1,200-acre Balboa Park is home to over 15 museums, including National History Museum, Museum of Man, San Diego Museum of Arts and the world-famous zoo. It’s the largest ‘urban cultural park’ in the world. This place is great as it offers a little something for everyone to enjoy. 

You could easily spend a whole day here hopping from museum to museum and spend time in all of the green spaces. Its also great if you are on a budget as many of the attractions are free to visit and there also countless walking paths and botanical gardens. The botanical gardens were my favourite and is home to 2000 varieties of plants. If I wasn’t limited on time, I could have spent hours inside snapping photos of the plants and even of the domed building itself. 

I loved the Spanish-style architecture. Its unexpected, yet beautiful and was apparently inspired by the Spanish maritime explorer who the park is named after (not Rocky Balboa as I initially assumed – oops). 

Old Town San Diego

From Balboa park, we took an uber to our final stop before heading to the airport – Old Town. With our suitcases in hand, we decided to satisfy our craving for Mexican food and headed to Café Cayote.  Their tacos were insane! We also had a bit of a performance from three jolly Mexican singers who assumed It was my friends birthday.

The Old Town San Diego is a sort of living museum where you can explore the origins of California. The Spanish colonized this part of California in 1769 with a hillside garrison and a Spanish Mission – it’s the site of the FIRST Spanish settlement in the US (pretty cool huh). 

Accommodation 

We stayed in a local air bnb to try and save money on the accommodation. It was really modern and pretty inside, but not too sure about the area. When we first came to drop off the suitcases, there were a group of men just sitting on the wall of their houses staring at us. Maybe we were paranoid but all we were thinking was that a group of guys just watched three girls come out of a taxi with a smirk on their faces. 

Either way, we came back later in the evening, paranoid as hell. During dinner, we were even talking about leaving our stuff there and staying in another hotel! With our families and emergency lines on speed dial, we prayed (literally, huddled in a circle to pray) and went inside. 

Okay – so maybe we over-reacted (a little?) and everything was fine… BUT its good to be cautious I guess haha. 

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