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Visiting Carmel By The Sea.

Driving up north to Carmel from Orange County took about 5 hours. If you’ve never driven from Southern California to Northern California, well, you’re in for a ride through mostly seeing the valley, mountains in the background or occasionally seeing cows roaming in a wide open space. In short, make sure you have a good music and a great company to keep you entertained.

After several sips of coffees, eating munches and switching through music, my bf and I eventually arrived in Carmel late in the afternoon. Not wanting to waste any time, we checked in to our hotel room, changed and headed right back out the door.

Between sitting in the car far too long and being excited we couldn’t wait to hit the beach. Having our hotel room located in downtown was a very good idea as everything we needed was literally within walking distance. At last, we arrived and the salty beach smell welcomed us with open arms as we stood at the entrance taking in the beautiful scenery right in front of us.


Carmel beach was definitely my favorite part about our trip because it is one of the most picturesque beach I’ve seen in California with white sands and plenty of space to move around. There’s something about it that is quite alluring.

In one of our walks, we accidentally found a scenic path along the coast with a view of the ocean and the other side from us were beautiful homes. My mind wondered what it would be like waking up with oceanfront views. The life! Anyhew, the only thing to really keep in mind at the beach is the fact that there are no lifeguards on duty and the waves seemed to drop right at the shoreline making it difficult to enjoy swimming. Nonetheless, people did not mind at all as they sprawled out tanning on the beach, surfing in the water or playing on the sand all day.

After we had enough of the beach, we realized we were hungry. Come to think of it, we haven’t had a meal since breakfast that day and since California was still in between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of re-opening businesses, we had to double check online to see which restaurants were open and made a few calls. It was difficult to get through any phone lines, therefore, we decided to wing it and walked to town.

Downtown Carmel is very charming with cottages and villages that made me feel like I was part of a movie set on Hansel and Gretel. There were streets with alleyways that hid restaurants or shops you would never have known unless you walked through it. The town doesn’t even have regular street signs which truly makes it more unique.

During our search for dinner we found a few restaurants open for dining outdoors but, most of them were way too busy and had line out the door. Also, we weren’t ready to dine in restaurants anyway so, we kept searching. Eventually, we found a cheap Chinese restaurant to order for take out that didn’t have a long line. We ordered our foot, ate our dinner in our hotel then, called it a night.

On Saturday morning we spent a few hours on a short hike at the Mission Trail Nature Preserve. The preserve is quite a nice place to be in complete seclusion away from the city with not much noise except birds chirping and walk in serenity between lush trees. We took 2 routes out of the 5 main pathways that you can take. At some point, we arrived at The Flanders Mansion that was built in the 1920s which, later became part of the Mission Trail Preserve. At first, I thought we accidentally entered into someone’s property but, it turned out that we were in one of the main entrance to get in to the preserve. We found no one around so, we took a couple of photos in front of the building before we headed back to our route.

The rest of our day we decided to drive to San Francisco for a few hours. My bf had never been there and all he wanted was to drive through the Golden Gate Bridge and come back. We did exactly that except we ended up re-routing to stop by Pier 39 to walk around and get lunch. Then, we also passed by the famous Lombardy Street reminding me a little bit of the time when I used to live here. That time in my life seemed so long ago yet, it felt like I was seeing this city for the very first time. Visiting Pier 39 again felt weird without a lot of people around granted that stores are still closed and we are still in the COVID19 situation. However, in light of post semi-lockdown, San Francisco never looked so beautiful with the sun beaming upon us. People walked around with shorts on and it felt like summer was truly here.

With a blink of an eye our 3-Day weekend had come to an end.

Petting Alpacas in Temecula. (Video)

Part of the experience I enjoyed while visiting Temecula was signing up to feed and pet a few Alpacas. As it was my first time bonding with these types of animals, I wasn’t sure how I felt about them. However, after much bonding I grew to love them in the end.

The Alpacas are cute especially with their bushy furs hanging right around their eyes. It made me wonder how the heck they are able to see under all that fur?

The tour started off with a guide discussing about the owner’s story in how she started her Alpaca ranch to the details about the animal’s fur. I found it intriguing and even more when I was able to feed the Alpacas in their pen.

Like any other animals, they get excited when food arrives. As soon as I walked in the pen they smelled the pellets and I immediately had my hands tied. A group of them surrounded me waiting to be fed. It scared me a bit as they were almost the same height as me but, I managed.

Luckily, remembering the introduction from our guide about what to do and what not to do around Alpaca animals helped me prepare for this moment. I slowly warmed up while feeding my new Alpaca friends in the pen and handed the food with no issues.

This activity, I thought, was a fun experience and I highly suggest it to anyone coming to Temecula.

Read my previous post on Old Town, Temecula or my first day in Temecula.

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Exploring Old Town Temecula. (Video)

You can’t come to Temecula without seeing Old Town. It is one of the main attraction aside from wine tasting and it is a must see in my opinion.

Truthfully, I didn’t have high hopes for Temecula at first because it reminded me of a previous experience I had visiting near the area that turned out to be disappointing. However, this trip completely changed my mind. Aside from my relaxing accommodation, I truly enjoyed seeing Old Town with its restored buildings along the main street, eating delicious meals, and window shopping. I found myself staying here for over 2 hours.

Food

For dinner, my Airbnb host recommended eating at Goat and Vine, a pizza place that I now also recommend. Keep in mind there are a ton of restaurants to choose from in this area that are just as good. For food, I ended up ordering the chicken salad sandwhich and the steak gorgonzola pizza. I was satisfied and full.

One thing to note, since Old Town is a prime location for socializing (eating and drinking over the weekend) I highly suggest adding yourself on a wait list a few hours before your eating schedule. It seemed that all of the restaurants were fully booked on a Saturday night, not including people arriving on the spot; just something to be aware of before coming here on a whim and expecting to be seated may not be a smart thing to do.

Parking

Another tip to keep in mind is parking. The main street is definitely congested with people and traffic. Therefore, if you want to find parking without competing with other people, the best thing to do is use the public parking located 3 blocks up away from the main street. I found out about this public parking a day too late but, it was convenient when I came back to Old Town the next day.

Lastly, enjoy yourself exploring the main streets and don’t forget to also walk down the side streets. There are plenty of stores that are hidden and are worth looking into.

See my post on my first day in Temecula.

The Quiet Side of Temecula. (Video)

A busy work week for me usually means retreating to a quieter weekend getaway. Temecula came to mind as a perfect spot in re-setting. It was a place that was easy to reach (within an hour) from home yet, far enough to feel like I am in another world.

What’s great about Temecula is that it’s known as a wine country town. Therefore, finding a place that matched what I was looking for wasn’t a problem. My needs were met when I found a place on Airbnb, a studio apartment owned by a superhost couple that was nestled in between mountains, away from the traffic noise and most of all secluded.

When I arrived I was greeted by my host who helped me carry my bags up to my room. He showed me around and I was in awe of the balcony that overlooked the avocado trees with the mountains in the background. The wine (pictured above) was provided by my host, a nice touch I thought. As you can imagine, the balcony became my go to spot for the rest of the trip.

The studio apartment itself was built a few years ago by my host. He had informed me that he bought this property way beyond my years and got a good price. Now, retired he and his wife decided to use it as means for business (a great idea don’t ya think?).

To be continued….

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Visiting the Hearst Castle Mansion.

Perched on top of a hill in San Luis Obispo is the Hearst Castle, a National Historic Landmark in Central Coast of California. The castle contains at least 165 rooms including terraces, pools and gardens. It once had a zoo onsite and Mr. Hearst would hold private parties inviting famous guests to his estate. Anyone who had the chance to stay in his estate was very lucky, I must say. This place was huge and beautiful! It was also built to stand earthquakes, therefore, it’s probably one of the safest place to be in when such a disaster happens.

Arriving on a rainy day was perfect to do a tour at the castle, or so I thought. It seemed that people had the same idea. I walked into an herd of people elbowing my way through to buy my ticket. Luckily, I had researched about this place prior to my arrival. I knew there were several tours that you can choose from but, I selected the Upstairs Suites Tour in particular base on the reviews via Yelp. I’d say it was a great decision.

The tour allowed me to see different types of rooms in the castle that were very lavish and ornate. At times, I felt overwhelmed thinking of what I would do if I owned a castle with this much space. On one hand, I could understand now why Mr. Hearst thought it was a good idea to turn his castle into a museum. It contains loads of personal items that are antique and collected from different parts of the world he traveled to. It would’ve been too much to maintain for his family. On the other hand, if it was up to me I’d probably turn it into a boutique hotel.

What would you do if you had the opportunity to own a castle?

Snapshot of Morro Bay, CA

Morro Bay was a ray of sunshine. It’s a coastal city about an hour and 50 minutes north from Santa Barbara known for Morro Rock, an extinct volcanic mound towards the end of the bay. You can’t miss it because it stands around 576 feet tall.

Getting here was easy if you take the right turn. I missed it and ended up going through the wetlands which was actually not a bad detour. When I finally arrived in downtown, I was happy to be able to find parking quickly and made my way to the harbor.

The bay was my favorite part. I sat in one of the benches and watched kayaks and boats pass by for a few minutes. Then, I decided to walk around a bit in downtown. I walked into one of the stores that sold knick knacks and then decided to eat in one of the restaurants right by the water. The food was pretty good.

A few minutes after lunch, I made my way to Morro Rock. There were a ton of tourists around. The day was a bit cool but, good enough for a walk. I roamed around for a bit then decided it was time to go back to my hotel.

Going Off-The Grid Camping at Lytle Creek.

lytle creek | astintabroad

People would not believe me if they knew I’m “camping” off the grid, in rough roads and deep in the mountains. It is a definite contrast to my everyday lifestyle where I spend most of my time detailing designs for high-end clientele. Before that trip, my boss had asked about my weekend plans and I briefly mentioned about going camping. Her reaction didn’t seem at all pleased and asked what entails camping. lol It was quite an interesting conversation, to say the least. Speaking to someone who likely has never camped in her life, I summarized my camping details. Pick a location, bring your friends, make sure you have plenty of food and water and enjoy nature w/o a cell phone. I think I didn’t sell her on the no wifi zone part but, for me, it is a blessing.  Continue reading “Going Off-The Grid Camping at Lytle Creek.”

Driving In Between Southern California and Arizona.

Driving

From my last post, I mentioned about going on a road trip over Thanksgiving weekend to Arizona. Driving from O.C. to Scottsdale was a 5-hour trip which, for us took longer than we expected. Between listening to songs, playing games, and eating snacks in the car, it became apparent that we were bored. We found ourselves in yet, another spare of the moment decision and decided to stop to see the Salton Sea State lake and the Salvation Mountain. Continue reading “Driving In Between Southern California and Arizona.”