California Adventure – Anaheim, California

I am old enough to remember a time when the California Adventure park in Anaheim California was a parking lot. Literally it was, we parked in it once. Now its a neighboring park to Disneyland, and you can buy a ticket that will get you into both parks in the same day.  The park boasts slightly more grownup rides than the Disneyland site but does still pack in plenty of kiddie things, including my favorite The Little Mermaid Ride.

I have much fewer memories of this park, as it is relatively new. I at least feel like it is new, but I did just look up the open date which was 2001. 17 years ago?! That was a big year for me, but I don’t recall at the time the opening of this park being front and center in my mind. I do however recall my parents going to Disneyland for the first time that year without me and telling me that there was a new park that they visited and “boy was it fun” said they, while their daughter was busy studying in college. Alas education first, and I have since had the chance to visit plenty of times and I do love it.

As far as real estate goes it is a much larger park, the walk ways are wider and there is more space in the waiting areas. It tends to lend itself to a much more relaxed less frantic atmosphere than Disneyland. We often get park hoper tickets when we go and skip over to California Adventure when the afternoon crowds start to get the best of us. But for all intents and purposes it is just as well executed as Disneyland. Rather than the sole focus on cartoon characters California Adventure celebrates the adventurous spirit of the state, while still managing to stay true to its brand. I really can’t say enough good things about either park. If you find your self having to decide between one or the other I would just do your research because they are both equally fun, but in very different ways. But either way you are sure to have a blast, we always do.

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Fairifax Farmers Market – Los Angeles, California

On yet another ridiculously sunny solo day in LA, I had my husband drop me off at the Farifax Farmers Market on his way to the office. The problem with this plan was that it was sunny.  While I cut my walk in half by getting dropped off, a plan that involves a place to walk around as entertainment and requires a six miles walk back was not my best. But nerveless I did it, and loved it. I returned to our lodging only sightly sun burnt and mildly dehydrated.  I don’t know if you know this, but there is NO shade in LA. And the sun shines ALL the time.

The Fairifax Farmers Market, also known at The Original Farmers Market was established in 1934 as a village area for local farmers to sell their goods. I could regurgitate all the info here or just let you go to the market website and learn all about it. It has a fascinating history and has historically be a place where many stars have been spotted picking up local products. The market is enormous and provides an endless maze of fascinating and delicious ingredients as well as hot take away foods.  I am a terrible judge of distances, but it seemed around the same size at the Pike Place Market in Seattle.

The market is also adjacent to The Grove a popular retain destination in the area, which also hosts a number of celebrity regulars. I did not see any while I was there. I did however spend way too much time wandering around the shady produce stalls trying to decide what to buy. Due to my lack of planning the entire endeavor I forgot that I would be carry by hand back anything I purchased so I had to be a bit more discerning that I would have liked. For example buying everyone I knew a bottle of hot sauce from this incredibly vendor would not be my favorite choice after mile two.

 

I landed on small but mighty choices from Monsieur Marcel. Cheese, crackers and cherry paste. I shoved them in my bag and started the long trek back. Making stops, of course because why would I remember I had to carry everything back, at the Grove, various second hand shops and a Frozen Yogurt shop about halfway through. When I returned, finally I took a shower, and set myself up in the shade to devour my goodies. Have you ever had these crackers from The Fine Cheese Company? They are incredible and I cannot find them anywhere locally.

Water Front – Lisbon, Portugal

The very first day we spent in Lisbon we walked the waterfront and watched the sun go down. It was bustling with locals and tourists a like. Families walking around between work and dinner. It seemed like the entire city was out enjoying the fresh air brought up the Tangas river from the Atlantic Ocean.

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Throughout the rest of our stay we found ourselves coming back night after night, and not quite on purpose. We walked it when we went up to Belem, we had dinner there, my mom found a boat serving drinks, and a wine cart the rattles around the waterfront serving up wine to passerby’s. My husband found a hotdog vendor claiming to sell American Hot Dogs, it looked more German to me but he seemed to enjoy it.

 

Maybe we were drawn to it because we all are used to being by water, living in costal towns or on fishing boats most of our lives. But looking around and seeing everyone else made me think maybe it is just primal, the freedom of being on water, the openness and possibility.

Lisbon is without a doubt one of the most magical places I have ever been. I would go back there in a heart beat, I would agree to live there without a second thought. It is the most home I have ever felt in another country.

One of these days we will go back, but for now this post brings us to the close of my journey to Portugal, which happens to be almost a year from when first got there.

La Rambla – McMinville, Oregon

For our anniversary this last year we decided not to do anything big. Instead we spent a weekend in a small town just south of where we live that happens to house one of my all time favorite restaurants in the world.

I discovered La Rambla a number of years ago, right around the time my parents and I were discussing spending Christmas in Barcelona. I had started researching things to do and places to eat in Barcelona and as Google has a tendency to do, it pointed me to a restaurant near me (in Oregon) that was named after one of the attractions we were looking at in Spain. So I had to try it. The rest is history.

La Rambla is a small tapas restaurant  in McMinnville Oregon. Frequented by locals and wine enthusiasts alike the restaurant has never been anything but packed regardless of day or time I have visited. The small intimate restaurant offers a wine list that is 7 pages long and a small but comprehensive list of snacks, entrees and desserts. And of course cheese.

As luck would have it (or perhaps my one track mind when it comes to a decent cheese plate) I forgot to take any pictures of our latest visit. Except the one of the cheese menu. Which I took so that I could remember the name of the goat cheese that knocked my socks off (Cana de Cabra in case you were wondering).

For our meal we shared a bottle of wine,  a few cheeses, a small flat bread ending the meal with churros and chocolate. We were happily stuffed and also slightly disappointed we didn’t get to try more from their outstanding seasonal menu. I guess that just means we will have to go back. I think I would be pretty okay with that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ardiri Winery – Cornelius Oregon

There are so many wineries in the Portland/Willamette Valley area it can be overwhelming. Since moving out of the city I am now within 5 miles of about 25. I plan to make visits to all of them at some point, but you know what they say about best laid plans…..

I visited Adiri for the first time on the hottest day of the year after spending all morning at an antique sidewalk fair. I was hot, I was tired, I was likely sun stroked. And I wasn’t exactly looking forward to drinking wine but my company wanted to go, so we forged on.

 

I love Adiri. When we pulled up we were above the valley, overlooking the hills, there was a slight breeze and a shaded covered porch with comfortable deck furniture. The tasting room was small and crowded but my mom just dashed in and grabbed a bottle of rose while the rest of us settled into the shade with cups of complimentary lemon cucumber water.

The wine was chilled to perfection, the staff was so kind, the experience was perfect. While we were sitting and sipping I noticed a bunch of small parties at the other tables, all with different types of snacks celebrating baby showers, weddings, and anniversaries. It was lovely.

 

A few months later  I took one of my best friends to the winery.  Armed with a picnic and ready to revisit that amazing rose we headed out into the hills. The day was a bit chilly and gloomy but the covered porch area has warmers and fires going. Even in October it was crowded. They were out of the rose, sold out a month earlier but I was promised they would have more ready by February. We tried to gold which was one of the best whites I have ever had and enjoyed a perfect day looking over the hills and chatting with good company.

I will be going back sometime this month for the rose, and probably another bottle of the Chehalem Gold.

Questions:

Are there any local wineries in your area that you love to visit?