Sunday, September 30, 2012

And We're Off!

Bloggin' from good ole LAX! My bags are all packed and checked in and now we're Prague bound :)

Made the wise decision to go to a concert the night before our early flight and it was totally worth it! Country concerts are so much fun and Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean were great!

Well, we're about to board our flight! Check ya later! Or should I say Czech?!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Wanderlust Wednesday: Barcelona (Two Days late...)

But it's not Wednesday...

Needless to say, but I already said it, this week has been busyyyy and I didn't get to this post on time. Is it just me or does life seem to be the busiest right before you go on vacation?

Anyways, onto the final destination of the trip- Barcelona!

Barcelona is one of the places I've always wanted to travel and is probably the city I've heard the most about.  I'd like to thank high school Spanish class for teaching me a thing or two.  The beaches, the nightlife, the culture, the history, I look forward to experiencing all that I can.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the works of Gaudi, namely the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell.  I've seen the pictures over and over, but the real thrill will come from seeing them in person.
I'm also extremely excited about our hostel location, which is right on Plaza Real in the Gothic Quarter, a popular tourist attraction.  The restaurants and nightclubs should definitely make for a lively stay.  It is also right next to La Rambla, so the fun will be endless.
The beaches are also a must! Luckily, in October the weather is still a fairly warm, but not too hot or humid.  We may have to get our tan on and enjoy the sun.  And what's better than a cool drink than relaxing in the sun?  I can't wait to try some real, authentic, Spanish sangria!  And how about the food?!  I'm dying to try some seafood paella!

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Have you been to Barcelona before?  Any tips, advice, or must-sees?
HOLY CRAP, in less than 48 hours I'll be on my way!  Better finish packing...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Wanderlust: Interlaken

The third destination of our grand journey is Interlaken, Switzerland. (See the first two destinations here and here)  I'm going into Interlaken knowing the least compared to all the other cities.  What I do know, I know from friends who've traveled there and from my friend wiki.  And from the pictures I've seen, it's incredibly beautiful!

This city will also be our city for adventure!  Interlaken is one of the leading cities for outdoor activities and adventures.  We're hoping to go on hiking, canyoning and, if money allows, bungy jumping.

One of the hikes we're most looking forward to is the hike to Harder Kulm, a mountain in the city about 1322 meters above sea-level.  The views look phenomenal and I can't wait to see them in person.

I'm also really excited about our hostel.  We're staying at Balmers, which is apparently a pretty well known (and fun!) hostel.  Perks includes being the home of Interlaken's most popular club, MetroBar, and relaxation rooms (with hammocks!).

Interlaken seems like the perfect mixture of relaxation and adventure. I can't wait to be surprised in the best way possible!

Just 11 days until this whole trip begins!  Not that I'm counting...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Heats and Eats

There was most definitely a heatwave throughout good ole SoCal this weekend. Just when we think fall is upon us, we get tricked again! A good way to avoid the heat is to be really busy working on your thesis and presentation and spend a lot of time indoors...

Air-conditioned coffee shops > un-air-conditioned sweat-box apartment

I actually did get out a bit because my dad and sister where in town! My sister had a volleyball tournament at a nearby JC, so my dad and I went to cheer her on. Did I mention my sister is a BOSS?! Cause she is...
When a parent visits, it means one thing: free food! And quality time :) My dad and I then went to lunch at a nearby Thai place (Thai Time III) and each had one of there lunch specials. The food was decent, but the portions were pretty small, but I guess that's why it's so cheap. My dad went to check into his hotel while I did a bit more work and then we met up for dinner. We went to Rock Bottom which I had heard good things about. My dad and I both though their food was pretty decent, but pretty typical restaurant brewery food. I had the shrimp and lobster enchiladas which were good, but I've had better. The black beans were pretty great though and I did really like my beer, the Mary Jane IPA, so that makes the meal a win. My dad got one of the burgers, I forgot which one, but his favorite part of his meal was the side of mac and cheese which was super tasty. Next time I'm getting their blackened shrimp mac and cheese entree because if they do the regular mac and cheese this good, the shrimp has to be even better. After dinner we parted ways, with plans to meet up in the morning. My step mom, Liz, was took the train in late Saturday night and would be joining us for our Sunday Funday.

Woke up Sunday and my dad, Liz, and I headed out for some tourist-y sites along the coast. From La Jolla -> Del Mar -> Solana Beach. Luckily the heat subsided a little and being outside was actually nice and enjoyable.
One of the best parts of Sunday was our delicious brunch at Jake's Del Mar. I'll have to save that review for another post, because it was so good it deserves its own. Eating with a view of the ocean is always a plus.

The rest of my Sunday involved football, more school work, and an actual work out! Life got in the way and I had an unintentional 4-day "rest". Today I got back with the program: Chest and Triceps + Biceps and Back + 4 mile run (39:00, 9:45 pace). A workout was exactly was I need to end my weekend on a happy note. Well, winning this week in fantasy by 1.1 pt also helped...

How did you beat the heat this weekend?

What's your favorite part of having your parents visit?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday Wanderlust: Munich

 Frauenkirche (Source)

When Shannon and I first started planning our trip, it centered around Munich and Oktoberfest. We were going to travel just for the festival itself, but then we started planning a little more... I'm glad we added more countries to our list, but I can speak for both of us when I say that we're most excited to see what Oktoberfest in Munich has to offer. We'll be in Munich the longest out of any of the cities, about 4.5 days and 4 nights (Oct.4th-8th).

We started getting more serious about traveling in the early months of this year. Both of us had gone to "Oktoberfest-like" festivities last year in our respective cities, and we talked about how incredible it would be to go to the real thing.
Pro tip: if you're serious about going to Oktoberfest, you should start planning at least a year in advance. Hotels and hostels sell out fast!!

But, if you're like us and don't start planning until everything you look at is full/booked/incredibly expensive, don't be discouraged. Many tour groups from around the world offer Oktoberfest packages, often including some form of travel and accommodations. Tour groups tend to book up spaces at hotels and hostels and then you can book through the tour group if you want to go. It is pricier than a hostel in any other city would be, but you're paying for the experience as well. The same is expected for any other huge world-renowned festival. We're traveling with a group called The Fanatics, both UK and Australia based. Yup, us two Americans are headed out with them. I can't attest to how great they are just yet, but it did make planning very easy as you could choose from staying in a hotel, hostel, or campground and what dates you want to go. We chose one of the hostel options, conveniently located close to the Oktoberfest grounds during the closing weekend (Oct. 5th-7th). Plus, with a travel group you're pretty much guaranteed to make a ton of new friends. Right?

There are also Oktoberfest campgrounds if you're into that sort of thing OR if sleeping on the ground, being cold, drunk, and dirty sounds good to you ;) I'm sure that's an adventure in itself, just not my kind.

Olympiapark (Source)
Marienplatz (Source)

It makes sense that Oktoberfest and the actual festival and beer tents will make up a large portion of our time in Munich, but we have other activities planned and sights to see as well.   Again, we think a bike tour would be one of the most fun and most efficient ways to see a lot of the city. As you can imagine, being the capital of Germany, there is quite a lot to see.  The inner city with famous squares, churches, and buildings is a must.  Munich is also known for their parks, so hopefully we'll check a couple off of the list--the Englischer Garten, Olympiapark, Hofgarten, the gardens at Nymphenburg, and more.  If we have time, we may check out a museum or two.  Did you know the BMW museum is in Munich? 
Nymphenburg Palace (Source)
Hofgarten (Source)

But, we can't get away from the beer for long; we're bound to go some of the famous biergartens.  Of course there is the famous Hofbrauhaus, but Augustiner is also on my list.  It may seem like we're just in Munich to drink, but hey this is Oktoberfest.  It's pretty much our once-in-a-lifetime chance to go this festival and we are in a city that has a strong beer-culture, so why not live it up a little. ;) When in Rome Munich...

Have you been to Oktoberfest before?  Any other big world-famous festival?

Have you been to Munich before? Any tips? Places to see? Favorite beer? 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Saturdate Night: Ichiban PB

Since Shaun's been back in town we have yet to do a proper date night. We were set on sushi, so it was Yelp to the rescue and we decided on a new-to-us place in Pacific Beach, Ichiban PB.

Ichiban PB
1441 Garnet Avenue, San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 270-5755
When you walk in, you place your order at the counter and they bring you your food. We were in luck because we were there during their happy hour (5pm-7pm Mon-Sat, dine-in only) which meant a couple dollars off certain rolls and beers (aka my kind of deal!). Their decor is nothing to write home about, it was pretty casual and you just seat yourself after ordering.

Seaweed salad + beer

 Vegetable tempura

We ordered the seaweed salad ($3.50), vegetable tempura ($3.95), and 3 of the specialty rolls on the happy hour menu:
  • Mango special roll: Inside-mango, asparagus, avocado. Outside- salmon, mango. ($8 something $6 something hh price)
  • Diego roll: Inside- jalapeƱo, spicy crab, spicy salmon, cream cheese, chili powder. Outside- tempura. Served with salsa. ($7.75, $6.25 hh price)
  • Eel roll: Inside- eel, sauce, seaweed, avocado. ($6.25, $4.95 hh price)
Mango special roll
And a 16oz Kirin draft ($2 hh price) for me!

So. Much. Food. For how cheap the prices were, all the food was great in both quantity and quality. My seaweed salad hit the spot. The vegetable tempura was so-so, not bad but not great. The Mango roll was unique and really refreshing. By contrast, the Diego roll was spicy and so different than any roll either of us had tried before- served with salsa? The eel roll was pretty standard in my opinion.

I'd definitely go here again and Shaun agrees. The prices were right up my alley, and although I can be skeptical of a sushi place that are too cheap, the food was surprisingly good quality and much better than expected.  The service was quick too, but we also may have beat the rush a little.  If you're in San Diego, on a budget, and looking for some good sushi, I'd highly recommend Ichiban PB.  I'm adding it to the list of places I need to go back to!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

HIIT Me Baby, One More Time

Thanks for the title inspo, B. Spears.

I was short on time last night, but knew that if I didn't get a little bit of sweat on I'd regret it later. As always. My key for a good quality workout but not much time = HIIT!  HIIT = High Intensity Interval Training.  It involves alternating short periods of intense anaerobic activity with slower, less intense periods of recovery.  It can be applied to many types of exercises such as biking, running, rowing, jump-roping, and even plyometric exercises.

What I like most about HIIT is that it's quick and efficient.  Studies also show that you burn more fat doing HIIT because of those quick bursts of exertion, so that's also a plus in my book.  Let's face it, running on the treadmill can be boringgggg.  With this workout you're constantly changing up the speeds and working so hard that you don't have time to get bored...the perfect recipe for treadmill success!  Speed workouts have always been a killer for me, but running faster is definitely something I need to do more of if I want to get better and faster in the long run. Get it? the long run? What a concept.  Hopefully I'll start incorporating a little speed more often.

Here's the workout I did for me HIIT session:

Not counting the 5 minute walk at the end, I covered 2.3 miles in 20 minutes.  Not too shabby for me.

Followed up my run with some chest/tricep strength training. 

Recovered with a chocolate protein shake and then a beer or two. Hey, it was Friday night ;)

What's your favorite HIIT workout?

What's your favorite way to recover?