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Sunday, October 27, 2019

Santa Barbara -- hello & goodbye

Pixlr_20191027110508622I totally meant to update much sooner while here in California but I have no idea where our 5 day/4 night stay went. Pixlr (5) It's already time for us to go home tonight and I am so not feeling that at all. It's been a great time. 

So let's see and recap a bit. We left home on Wednesday morning. Our flight out of Newark was at 9am. We were off to LAX and had a decent layover there so we were able to grab lunch at a bar and relax for a bit. Then had a super short connection to Santa Barbara. I always love Santa Barbara airport. It's so convenient. Picking up the rental car was super easy and we were at our hotel (The La Quinta on State Street - near where EF is) in no time. The hotel is undergoing massive construction but the hotel staff has been really nice. They gave us a room facing the street, away from the construction in the back of the building. And they also agreed to let us pay the self park rate rather than the valet rate they are charging now. And the location of the hotel is convenient so really no complaints. 

Wednesday we walked up and down State Street, checking out the different restaurants and stores. I always play the game of "what used to be here" which is getting a little harder as time goes by, sometimes I can pick out two or three different things that used to be in any given location. Can't believe it's been 20 years since I lived here. So crazy. Anyway, Wednesday night we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant close to the hotel, Carlitos. It's a place that has been there for a long time but the first time we went. Good food and it was great being able to sit outside on the patio. 

Thursday was my birthday (40 .... ughhhhh) and we took advantage of the free breakfast downstairs and then headed over into the Santa Ynez Valley for wine tasting. The weather has been really hot and that day it reached into the mid 90ies in the Valley. We went to Brander Vineyard first and did a tasting there, then enjoyed a glass outside in the shade. Next stop was Beckmen which was really nice as well. After a tasting we enjoyed a bottle outside on their covered patio in the shade. From there we headed into Los Olivos and had a delicious lunch at the Wine Merchant's Cafe. And then stopped into one more tasting room in Los Olivos before heading back to Santa Barbara. For dinner we met up with my host mom Linda at Pascucci's. One of my all time favorite places in Santa Barbara. So good. Linda was driving up from San Diego and ended up getting stuck in some traffic which delayed her a bit but I was really glad that she was able to make it. 

Friday we drove to San Simeon to visit the Hearst Castle. We had been there before but this time we did the Upstairs Suites tour rather than the regular main suites tour. The next time we come back we will need to check out another tour. It's such a massive place and always fascinating to go there and hear all of the stories. After our tour we headed across the street to the beach where the Hearst Castle Winery has a tasting room in a big warehouse. They also had a food truck parked there so the perfect spot for lunch. Then continued on to Cambria and stopped at a few vineyards there as well. There is a whole wine trail in that area as well called the Pacific Coast Wine Trail. We went to Moonstone, Stolo and Twin Coyotes. All very neat. And on our way home we stopped at the Boathouse at Hendry's Beach for a lovely dinner on the beach. 

Yesterday, Saturday, we went for a 2 mile walk in Carpinteria by the beach at the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve. Was nice to be outside getting some exercise in and just to be near the ocean. I love the way the air smells near the ocean. After that we drove back into Santa Barbara and met Linda and her husband JD for lunch at the Shoreline Beach Cafe. Another great spot. The food was delicious and it was great to catch up. After lunch we headed over to the Funk Zone and then back to the hotel for a minute to clean up. And then a lovely dinner at the Santa Barbara Fishouse right down by the water. Another lovely spot I had wanted to try out and was not disappointed. SO good. 

And well now it's Sunday and we will already be leaving today. But at least before that we will get one more lunch at the beach. Heading to the Beachside Cafe in Goleta. Will be the perfect spot as we will need to be in that direction anyway for the airport so really a win-win. Not ready to leave but at least we will have a nice leisurely lunch/afternoon before actually heading to the airport. Then down to LAX and a redeye flight back to Newark. And then back to work. Ughhh. 

Letter/Mail Update:  Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Lotte/Denmark, Celia/MA and Nina/WA.

Posted by Hanna at 02:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 21, 2019

Hopkins Wine and Cheese Festival - perfect fall weather

IMG_20191019_141541_665Yup, it's Monday again. Why do weekends always fly by WAY too fast? I guess I really should not complain too much as I only have a 2 day work week this IMG_20191019_141737_786week. We are off to California on Wednesday morning and will be gone Wednesday through Sunday. We come back on a red-eye Sunday night into Monday morning. And then yeah you guessed it, straight to work from the airport. Definitely not looking forward to that but it is what it is and it's all about maximizing the vacation days given. :) 

Anyway, this past week was fine. We tried out Pulcinella's in Brookfield on Monday, in search for a new Italian place after Rizzuto's in Bethel closed down. Our bartender from Rizzuto's made the switch over there and it was fun to see her again, although a little weird being behind a different bar. But the food was good and we'll definitely have to go back. They have a great happy hour menu as well and happy hour is even until 7pm. 

The weekend was nice and Saturday truly was the perfect quintessential fall day. It was cool in the morning (we actually had a frost warning) but warmed up a bit and especially in the sun it was really nice. We headed to the Hopkins Wine and Cheese Festival at the Hopkins Vineyard. Took a nice walk around the area, near the lake, prior to the festival as well. Then walked around the festival where they had wine tasting from 5 vineyards, cheese, oils, breads and so on. We bought some cheese, some foccacia, some oils, all very yummy. Had some of it while catching up on our TV Saturday and Sunday night. 

Sunday was pretty low key. We went to the movies to see the new Zombieland movie. I am not usually a zombie type person but I really like the cast of these movies and they are definitely entertaining. After the movies we went for lunch in Oxford at 121 and eventually home to catch up on more TV. 

And well here we are, Monday morning. I do have a lot to get done in the next 2 days, both at work and just personal stuff. So will be a busy two days for sure. 

Letter/Mail Update:  Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Lotte/Denmark, Celia/MA and Nina/WA.

Posted by Hanna at 07:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Sara Bareilles - MSG

Pixlr (2)Hey! Somehow I missed my weekly post on Sunday/Monday. That seems to be the day when I most often update these days. I guess yesterday morning I was just a little out of it after having gotten back home and to bed quite late. Sunday night we saw Sara Bareilles at Madison Square Garden in NYC. It was a great show and had a lot of fun. But of course by the time we got home it was around 12.45 and by the time I actually fell asleep (even though I was dead tired but then of course couldn't fall asleep anyway) after 1am. So yeah Monday dragged. 

Now it's Tuesday morning and I am not really much more awake. lol. I guess I will catch up on some sleep eventually. It's cold this morning, only 39F (just under 4C) Yesterday was a really nice, sunny and pretty warm fall day, close to 70F (21C) but not going to get that today. Oh well, it is October after all. I do love fall but it always has that bittersweet feeling and foreboding that winter is just around the corner. And well we know how I feel about winter. Not really a fan. And I keep hearing how bad of a winter we are going to have. Oh well. I guess there really is no predicting with the weather. What will come will come. Right? 

Anyway, let's see, what else has been going on? Nothing too much last week really. Same old. Work's keeping me busy. Saturday we didn't do much. Slept in and then had lunch at 121 in Oxford. And later caught up with some recorded shows. I feel we are already behind because I was away for two weekends and the weekend after next we'll be in CA so yeah we're definitely behind on our TV stuff. So Sunday we headed down to NYC and hung out at Lillie's for a while before going to MSG to see the show. 

So yeah, that's all really. Nothing much going on for this week or upcoming weekend. I imagine we'll figure out something to do for the weekend. And then next week we just have a two day work week and are in CA Wed/Thur/Fr/Sat/Sun (23-27) Yay. Definitely looking forward to spending time in Santa Barbara. The last few times we have been there we have just spent a day or 1 night and haven't stayed for any extended periods in a while. So that should be fun. 

Letter/Mail Update:  Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Lotte/Denmark, Celia/MA and Nina/WA.

Posted by Hanna at 07:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 07, 2019

Back from Europe

IMG_20191003_120021_108And I am back. As usual my time in Europe just FLEW by. Had a good stay but it was a very busy week which is probably why it felt like it went by even faster than usual. 

Let's see. Last Monday we returned back from Salzburg. Had breakfast in the hotel and then picked up Chinese once we returned back to St. Poelten. I then had to work (I was working approx. 2 to 10pm to match EST hours) Tuesday I slept in just a little bit and didn't do all that much in the morning. Oh, yeah, Tuesday was the day the weather was absolutely beautiful, almost summer like. I helped my mom re-pot a plant so spent some time outside in the garden. And then we went for a walk to drop off some things at a friend's home a bit down the road. Made for a nice walk since the weather was so nice. Our friend wasn't home but no big deal. Still a great walk.

Wednesday morning I had a hairdresser appointment so spent most of the morning at the hairdresser before returning home and working for the rest of the day. Thursday I had taken 1/2 a day off for some errands and things to take care of. Also went into Vienna to see a friend which was nice. Spent some time with Lydia while also spending some time alone in a cafe just people watching. An enjoyable day. Then I returned back with the train and worked the rest of the day 6 to 10pm.

Friday my parents and I met up with my aunt for lunch so we left early to meet her in another town (about 20 min away). Had a delicious lunch and then returned back so I could work the rest of the day again. I am very grateful I was able to do this but the schedule definitely does get tiring for sure. 

Saturday we did some shopping and I picked up all the goodies I wanted to bring back. Some bottles of wine, chocolates and whatnot. They already have most of the advent and gingerbread stuff in stores too so I picked up a bunch of that in anticipation of the upcoming season. My luggage was definitely HEAVY. After shopping we had a leisurely lunch and when we returned home I made sure to get everything packed up and then had some wine with my dad before having to go to bed.

My ride to the airport was supposed to pick me up at 3am so I ended up getting up a little after 2am. The shuttle was late in the end but it wasn't a huge deal as my flight wasn't until 7.10 anyway. Still had enough time to grab breakfast at the airport (yay for Jamie Oliver's). Then on to Brussels where I didn't have much time for anything but walking briskly from one gate to the other. And on to JFK. And well here we are, it's Monday again. And back to work. I feel like I could sleep for a week. Haha.  

Letter/Mail Update:  Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Lotte/Denmark and Nina/WA.

Posted by Hanna at 07:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)