kristen reNae

travel

Famcation

I packed my bags in 2011 and left Oklahoma. But like the saying goes “home is where the heart is” definitely lies true, because there is not a day that goes by that I do not think about and miss my family. While living in California, my mother and brother both came to visit me. Now, living in Boston, I just had my first two visitors, my papa and brother! It makes my heart happy every time I get to see them.

the commons

Papa and Tayler arrived early Friday morning. Although they were expecting to lie down for a few hours, I had different plans in store for them. We headed straight to a local diner to get some grub and a little caffeine to start the day. We then headed over to downtown Boston to begin the Freedom Trail. The one other time I walked the Freedom Trail, I started around 7 am. I find this to be the best time, especially in the summer. You beat the heat and the crowds.

We began the journey in the Boston Commons and then followed the red brick line. The trail starts in a space of serenity, and then you get mixed up in the crazy downtown eight am foot and car traffic, grabbing pieces of history along the way, and ending up at the Bunker Hill Monument.

bunker hill

Along the way we walked through Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, and tried going into Paul Revere’s house, but it was too early for all of the above. However, it was awesome seeing it in a not so hectic environment.

On the way back from Bunker Hill, my brother had never tried a cannoli. So, of course, we stopped at Mike’s Pastry. T got the chocolate chip and I shared my Oreo cannoli. By far my favorite! And since my brother got a treat, my papa decided he was thirsty. So, first stop after the cannoli was Goody Glover’s Pub. And this is where the unintentional pub crawl began. We were the first people in there, so it didn’t provide the ambiance we were looking for, so we headed back down the trail to Bell in Hand, their claim to fame as being the “first tavern”. One beer turned into another and another. And what better pub food to grab then a cold lobster (lobsta) roll and some clam chowder (chowda). My brothers first time to try both… and he loved them! He isn’t the picky eater he was 10 years ago! The next pub was right across the ally at the Green Dragon, and although it was mid-day, this was our nightcap.

family

The next day was a recovery day for some, but Mike had a Spartan race to be at in Connecticut at 830 in the morning. Needless to say, the drive there was long. After arriving back home, everyone was pretty comatose, so no field trips were done that day. We grabbed dinner at Legal Seafood’s in Chestnut Hill. The restaurant has nice ambiance, but with so many other seafood options around town, I’m not sure if we will be back. After dinner, we drove around the Newton neighborhoods to look at the beautiful homes and to learn some history on some of the Victorian style homes.

Sunday, we were up and at it again! We grabbed breakfast at another local diner, the New York Diner. Then we headed over to Charleston area to view the USS Constitution. It’s always great having people come visit, so you can also do all of the tourist things you wouldn’t normally do on your days off. This was really different from the aircraft carrier, USS Midway in San Diego. We walked around the Harbor area to view some more history and then headed back. With not much on our list, we decided to drive over to Harvard. What better timing to go than when school is out? The campus is beautiful, although there are many restrictions where visitors can not enter, so it definitely limited the trip. We grabbed a bite in Harvard Square and then headed back. My brother is an amazing runner, so we also drove over to Newton to the Heartbreak Hill store to pick up a couple souvenir shirts. After a bit of rest and soccer, we decided to cook out delicious turkey burgers for the evening.

USS Constitution

Monday, was a sad day. Unfortunately, I had to go back to work and my family had a flight out that evening. So, all of us had a case of the Mondays.

Although it is sad to see them go, I am so blessed that they had a safe flight and were able to visit me! Now I get to look forward to visiting them and trying to get my mother to plan a trip to the East Coast!

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My first trip to… Mexico.

Entering Mexico
Entering Mexico

Living in Southern California for almost two years, I only visited Mexico twice. With that being said, my first trip was to Ensenada. A little south of T.J… a.k.a. Tijuana. Like, lock your doors before the border Tijuana. A group of friends and I loaded up in our cars and headed down south for a day of cheap beers, beach, and lobster. My first tip: when driving past the border… do NOT trust Google maps. We ended up in a construction zone, on a bridge, that wasn’t complete. By the time we finally found our destination, we decided to grab some tacos and margaritas. Oh, and did I mention that not one of us could speak fluent Spanish?! Yah, we were the true “gringos” in Mexico.

mexico and tacos

After a decent meal at a local catina, we decided to head over to the beach. We stopped at a convenience store, bought some Mexican beer, and headed to the sand. We attempted to surf, but it wasn’t the best. Not to mention we were the only white people and the only people going in the water. Needless to say, the beach was a different crowd, but it made the experience that much better!

sand and surf

With the evening upon us, we decided to hit the road and drive back, making a stop for the famous lobster village in Puerto Nuevo. Here you will find the true Mexican culture. It is a small village with little shops, tons of authentic Mexican food, and of course, fresh churros to finish the night.

lobster

The day trip was definitely successful. And then, I spoke too soon. We thought going into Mexico was bad… the directions to get back into the U.S. were even worse, not to mention the line of cars. It took us a good 2.5 hours to get back into the U.S. Pure madness. But thankfully we all got back safe and it is definitely a memory to put in the books. Mark that off the bucket list.

U.S.A.

 

Note: when coming back to the U.S., there are will be a ton of people trying to sell you things while you are in traffic. Be prepared to say “no gracias” about one hundred times!

Cheers!

Santa Barbara Weekend Getaway

With Santa Barbara only four hours from San Diego, we were able to have a couple weekend getaways to yet another amazing California wine region. Santa Barbara alone is beautiful, but then you add the wineries… winning!

We stayed at this adorable place called the Brisas Del Mar Inn, at the beach. The area is small, but the location is ideal. An old acquaintance suggested we try Brophy Brothers. This was our first stop, both times we visited, and with a spectacular view, it is definitely worth it. The place was packed around 2 pm, but we were able to belly up to the bar. We stayed for a couple glasses of chardonnay and an appetizer while talking to a local who gave some great advice on places to try.

Brophy Brothers View
Brophy Brothers View

After a quick bite, we ventured back to the Inn to grab a couple cruisers (offered to guests at no additional charge!). We ventured off along the boardwalk and then back into downtown. We rode as far as the shops would take us, and then on the way back we stopped at the Mexican restaurant, Sandbar, for some margi’s and Chips and Salsa.

Cruiser

Arriving back at the inn, the concierge was having a cheese and wine happy hour… for free! So, of course we saddled up, poured a couple glasses of white wine and gathered a small cheese plate, and took to the patio area to enjoy the gorgeous day. This concierge event was a great way to meet other guests, which happened, and created friends for life.

Our dinner plans each visit were both in the downtown Santa Barbara area. One restaurant was suggested and another happened to be whoever didn’t have a wait. The area has so much to offer, that we will end up trying a new place every time.

Our first weekend getaway involved the above, and the second day we enjoyed wine tasting at a few wineries. The second getaway involved another visit to Brophy Brothers, a lazy day by the pool, followed by the concierge happy hour. The second day, again, we found ourselves wine tasting all new wineries from our previous visit.

Overall, the Santa Barbara weekend getaways have been gorgeous, eventful, and full of memories. Would definitely recommend to those far and close. Cheers!

Santa Barbara