Wherever I’ve been in the world, I’m blessed to have sipped some ridiculously good coffee.
Happy International Coffee Day!!
Travel bloggers come together monthly for the Travel Link Up, a fantastic way for bloggers to come together to write and share posts of a particular theme. Even though I’ve been behind, I try to join whenever I can. This month’s theme is “favorite staycations” and I just had to take the opportunity to brag a bit about my hometown region and a far away favorite.
Staycations are like adding a fun boost to the weekend that’s usually set aside for family, laundry, errands and TV binge. When you are in need of a vacation but can’t go so far or for so long, it’s good to hop in a car, a train, or even a short flight to enjoy a quick break from the mundane.
Here, I’m going to focus on two of my favorite staycation spots since I’ve lived in two different parts of the world. One being in my hometown of the Bay Area and the other being from my expat life in Qatar.
Let’s go far then bring it back home.
During the five years of my expat life in Qatar, I was lucky to be able to go on weekend trips to near by countries like the UAE and Kuwait. Many of which literally meant time with family and friends or at a hotel spa getting a well deserved pampering session. I got to do a little bit of both with some adventure when friends and I headed to Muscat in 2016 for a long birthday weekend.
Barely an hour flight away (think SF to LA), once I landed, I went straight to the hotel where I indulged in a mani-pedi pampering session before chilling on the warm private beach with a good book. Yes, Muscat in December is like a sweet summer day in San Francisco. It’s seriously perfect beach weather, warm but not too humid, light breeze and clear skies for the most part.
As an IHG member, I got a sweet deal at the Crowne Plaza Muscat. It’s very much a chill out hotel that I’d go back to again. Great spots to eat, excellent services and did I mention they had a private beach?
Once my friends caught up though, we went exploring! Headed to Bimmah’s infamous sinkhole and clear beaches before driving out the city to the canyons of Wadi ElSham. This is a trek everyone should do once in their lives, absolutely beautiful and breathtaking.
Canyons are no joke and as an out of shape person, it wasn’t too hard to trek through some of the rocky narrow parts. And if you’re a swimmer, you’ll love the varying spots where you can take safe dive, come back up and trek some more. I went as far as I could before the path was too narrow for me and alas, I’m no swimmer but I still enjoyed exploring and watching the waters ripple below.
Nature truly beckons here in Muscat, where you can lose yourself in awe of your colorful surroundings.
I’ve been a tourist in my hometown since repatriating back home over a year ago. There is still so much for me to rediscover as I eat my way through town and see the changes that have happened over the course of my absence. I did get to rediscover an old favorite for a few staycations, including a birthday weekend late last year (I know, I’ve developed a pattern! =P ). On a good day, it’s a short hour and a half drive to this small historical beach town.
Once a mainstay for sardine fishing and canning, Monterey has become a hub for marine preservation and exploration. My brother got his scuba diving license there before we took my nephew to his first aquarium adventure. He got to see all the different kinds of jelly fishes up close before finally seeing his favorite, the hammer head shark, swim by.
Just a half hour away, one can head to Moss Landing for an afternoon of dolphin and whale watching. It’s an absolutely glorious experience, highly recommended!
Make it a true girls trip and head to the Monterey Plaza Hotel for a beautiful room, a day at the spa and dinner by the sea. The hotel even offers perks and packages, especially if they know you’re there for a special occasion. They were sweet enough to offer us freebies from my favorite coffee spot there, Tidal Cafe -home of the best chocolate scones, EVER!- as a birthday gift.
So tell me, where are your favorite staycation spot(s)?
And no, I was not driving, safety first and always.
Hope you are all surviving this Bay Area cold. Luckily the weather seems to be calming down after those rain storms. At least there are a few things to enjoy outdoors if you’ve got a nice coat and a sturdy umbrella.
I’m not sure what’s more exciting, the long weekend of celebrating the great Martin Luther King’s life, laughing to tears or all the food that’s involved.
HAPPENING AROUND TOWN
Martin Luther King week is already in full gear! Tomorrow, January 21st, the MLK march will start at 11am at 4th and King Street before ending at the Yerba Buena Center. This is where the celebration festivities will be held until about 5pm. Some may head straight to the center but you don’t want to miss Caltrain’s Celebration Train that’ll be at the King Street Station just before the march. There are more activities, festivals and celebrations to partake in as listed by the NorCal MLK Foundation.
Want to explore the San Francisco African American Freedom Trail? As recommended by San Francisco Travel, this is a great way to not only learn about how African Americans changed the world from our humble Bay Area, but a great way to explore the city on foot. This is a great learning adventure for the whole family, just wear good, comfortable shoes.
If you haven’t already, the 18th Annual SF Sketchfest, founded by David Owen, is still happening now through January 27th. With this shutdown mess, we could all use a laugh from the likes of Andy Kindler, Sasheer Zamata, Michael Ian Black and local favorite, Peaches Christ.
San Francisco Restaurant Week is starting just as Oakland Restaurant Week comes to a close. From January 23rd through the 31st, almost 130 restaurants will participate in showcasing what makes this city the most gastronomic city in the country!
During the week, participating restaurants will be serving exclusive menus for either lunch and/or dinner. Two course lunches will be between $15 – $25 and three course dinners between $40 – $65. It that isn’t a biting deal, I don’t know what is! When you’re out and about, show off your eats by using the hashtag #SFRW on Instagram or Twitter.
Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by the events or restaurants listed. If you’d like me to check out and rant about a happening around town or an eatery in town for my SF Sundays series, please email me at email@example.com.
Happy New Year! Welcome to San Francisco in January. It’s cold! I’m reminded of how cold it can get this time of year in the city every morning I leave for work before the sun. I’m also quite surprised at the number of tourists I’ve come across this cold season. Then again, we can still head out and enjoy the city despite a few rain showers and cold breezes, am I right?
So what to do when it rains? When it’s oh so cold outside? Here are a few ideas to stay warm, cultured and with a full belly this season.
HAPPENING AROUND TOWN
If your new year’s goal is to get more cultured, look no further then the city’s many beautiful galleries and museums, with most offering free admission days. The GLBT Museum offers free admission on the first Wednesday of the month while the Asian Art Museum does so on the first Sunday of every month.
Tuesdays have a few contenders such as the Contemporary Jewish Museum, de Young Museum, Legion of Honor, and Museum of Craft and Design. Check the museum’s website for exact schedules of free admissions days.
Still want to go outside? The San Francisco City Guides‘ is a group of volunteer tour guides showcasing their pride in the city. They have walking tours scheduled throughout the day at varying points of the city, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Japanese Tea Garden. They even guide you back in time to the 1906 earthquake and fire.
Foodies, rejoice! Over 100 restaurants are participating in this year’s Oakland Restaurant Week, happening January 11th through the 20th. That’s two whole weekends for us to get hungry, eat it all up, walk it off, and repeat! There will also be a few special events throughout the week.
On January 12th, Brotzeit Lokal will donate a portion of the sales from their “prix fixe menu” to the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB). Also supporting the ACCFB is Baro on the 14th with a special benefit dinner. Then on the 15th, you can journey through Old Oakland Progressive and enjoy a multiple course dinner across three different restaurants.
San Francisco’s restaurant week returns soon after but I’ll more on that next week. If all that is not achieving yumminess, I don’t know what is. All I know is that I’m really hungry right now! Is it the 11th yet??
Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by the events or restaurants listed. If you’d like me to check out or rant about a happening around town for my SF Sundays series, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.