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Laundry On Sundaes

Every beginning is only a sequel, after all, and the book of events is always open halfway through.

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After we left Bend, we drove to Portland and arrived in the afternoon. We returned the car (you’ll have to wait to see how we got back to SF!) and took a train to downtown. After settling down in our hotel, we went to explore the city a bit. We took a nice walk along the river and in the park along the shore.


And we had dinner at Saucebox, a pan-Asian restaurant. The restaurant was kind of divided into 2 halves, with one side with black walls and dim lighting, and the other side with white walls and a more airy atmosphere.


We got seated on the white side and got some delicious cocktails to start. I got their soft shell crab buns, which were really good.


Yufei and I also shared their pupu platter, which came with a variety of appetizers. We especially liked the Korean baby back ribs.


After dinner, we just went back to our hotel and rested for the next fully packed day in Portland. We went to Voodoo Doughnuts first to get some doughnuts for breakfast.


The line was pretty long when we got there but moved fairly fast. We got a Portland cream doughnut and a voodoo doll because it was just too cute. Both were delicious!


We took a walk through the Portland Saturday Market afterwards, where there were tons of booths of handcrafted items and food.


Then we made our way to the Lan Su Chinese Garden, a classical Suzhou-style garden. It was beautifully done and it was such a peaceful place to get away from the city.



Then we took a bus across the river to get lunch at Screen Door.


There was a wait, as expected, which was fine with us since we were still full from the doughnuts. So we took a little walk around the neighborhood and stopped by a park for a bit before heading back. Once we were seated, we decided to get Screen Door’s famous chicken and waffle:


And also an omelet, which we regretted ordering after seeing how humongous the chicken and waffles was.


We impressively ate most of the food (it was a LOT of food), all of which were delicious. We were super stuffed afterwards though!

Our next destination was Distillery Row, an area with a bunch of distilleries. We saw this cool sun halo on our way!


It was kind of hard to find the area at first, but once we found the first one, they were all in the same few blocks.


We visited and did tastings of all kinds of spirits at 3 different distilleries. It was a cool new experience for us since we’d never done spirit tasting before!


Portland – Part 2


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Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Our last full day in the city was fully packed! In the morning we went to Katz’s Deli for breakfast. Their famous pastrami sandwich was every bit as delicious as I had hoped.



Then we went to the 9/11 Memorial. I had gone in 2012 right after graduation, but this time the Freedom Tower is pretty much complete and is a beautiful addition to the New York skyline.


We walked around the reflection pools for a bit (sadly the museum wasn’t open yet at the time) and then headed to Chinatown. We had dimsum at our favorite place – Golden Unicorn. I was too busy eating to take photos of the meal! We had planned to get a snack at Xi’an Famous Foods, but it wasn’t open. So we opted for lamb kabobs from this street cart instead.


After we filled our stomaches with delicious Chinese food, we walked to the Highline. I’d always wanted to visit when I was in college but never got to. Winter isn’t the best time to take a stroll there (I can imagine it being such a cool place to hang out in the warmer seasons) but we still walked almost the entire length of it.


After so much walking, we were hungry again so we got Wafels & Dinges! This is one of the things I really miss in NYC and that I really wish they had in SF (though for the same of my waistline it’s probably good that they don’t). It was so warm and delicious and now I wish we had gotten 2.


Macy’s was nearby and they were having their flower show at the time, so we went inside to get away from the cold for bit and enjoy the gorgeous blooms that are nowhere to be found outside.


After that, we took the tram to Roosevelt Island. There’s really nothing much to do on the island but we wanted to take the tram. It was pretty cool.


It was still too early for our dinner reservation at Porter House, so we just hang out in Time Warner Center where the restaurant was located for a bit before going in. We used to go to Porter House for lunch in our college days because they had a really good prix-fixe 3-course lunch menu, but this was our first time going there for dinner. We started with an arugula salad to share (bonus points for actually splitting the serving into 2 individual plates for us).


Yufei’s steak (and a humongous serving of fries):


My usual order of salmon:


Food there was delicious as always. Not quite ready to relinquish our last night in NYC, we decided to get a drink and dessert at Stone Rose Lounge next door, where we were greeted with this gorgeous night view of Columbus Circle.


Thus ended our last day in New York. The next morning we packed up, checked out of the hotel, and grabbed a quick lunch at Aceluck. This little restaurant holds a special place in my heart because it’s where I was introduced to the delicious world of Thai food.

After lunch, we headed to the airport. Yufei had used his miles to book first class seats for our return flight and it was awesome! We got champagne after we were seated:


And they handed out tablets with entertainment for the flight. We watched Dallas Buyer’s Club. Here is my movie and part of my meal:


This is the life. It was such a great way to end our trip on a high note!

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Day 1
Day 2

We got up pretty early on day 3 and took the train to our alma mater – Columbia! We started the day by having breakfast at Tom’s Restaurant, which looked exactly the same as we remember it. Even our server lady was the same!


Then we walked around the beautiful campus. It was a gorgeous day but very cold.



For lunch, we went to Mill Korean Restaurant, one of our favorite spots from our college days. We got our usual orders: bento box for me and kimchi fried rice for Yufei.


After lunch, we took an uptown train to the Cloisters. It was one of those places I had always wanted to visit during college but never got around to.



Art Hum flash back! We totally studied this painting in that class.


We spent most of the afternoon there, then took a bus back to campus. We sat on the Low steps for a while, watching the sun go down like we used to. Then we headed to Deluxe for dinner. This is another place we used to frequent back in the day. They used to have $5 burger Mondays, and the night before I was curious to see if they still had it. I went on their website and found out that they did!! We were so excited. But when we got there, there was a sign on their window saying that starting that day, $5 burger Mondays had become $7 burger Mondays. This was a little disappointing, but it didn’t stop Yufei from getting the burger anyway.


We had tickets to see Avenue Q that night, so we headed there after a delicious dinner.


It was such a fun show and the perfect way to end a lovely New York day!

Days 4 & 5

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Day 1
Day 2

Breakfast on day 3 was significantly better than the previous day’s. We went to this little cafe called Sunny Side Up not too far from our hotel. We both got the Oscar benedict, which had crab and asparagus (it reminded me of the La Mer benedict from Zazie in SF).


Everything was scrumptious! After we ate, we hopped on a train and headed toward the Museum of Science and Industry, another attraction on our CityPass. We were going to stop by Chinatown since it was along the subway line, but somehow our train skipped over that stop (we later found out that they were doing construction on that part of the line). So we went straight toward the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. We realized that Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House was in the area as well so we got off the bus a few stops early to see it.


It turns out that the museum is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so we couldn’t get a tour inside. Still brought back memories of Art Hum though!

Afterwards, we walked to the Museum of Science and Industry. The building was huge; apparently it is the largest science museum in the western hemisphere!


Since it was so big, of course we didn’t have time to see all of it. We did see a lot of interesting exhibits though, like this awesome German U-boat captured during WWII:


When we were done with the museum, it was already mid-afternoon and we were starving, so we headed back downtown to get some food. We decided to try another one of the suggestions from our tour guide from the previous day and went to the Walnut Room inside the Macy’s on State Street.


The room itself was beautiful, with high ceilings and a marble fountain in the center. For food, I ordered the chicken pot pie and Jin got the fish and chips (replacing the chips with a salad).


My pot pie was really delicious, so creamy and rich. It would be the perfect meal for a cold winter day! After our meal (Late lunch? Early dinner?), we were on our way to the Willis Tower. We stopped by the Picasso sculpture along the way.


We got to skip all the lines for the Skydeck at Willis Tower because we used our CityPass and it was awesome! After we took the elevator up, it was only a short line to get to the actual deck. It was pretty cool to stand on the clear glass so high up!


After we got down from Willis Tower, we headed to another one of our food destinations – iCream Cafe. You get to pick your own combination of ice cream(s) and toppings and they make it in these cool machines with liquid nitrogen!


I chose from their list of customer favorites, the strawberry cheesecake, which had strawberry ice cream, cream cheese, graham cracker crust, and fresh strawberries in it. It was delicious.


We stuck around the area for a little while after we finished our ice cream. iCream was in a very hip and trendy neighborhood and we popped into a Crossroads to do some thrifting (one of our favorite things to do together!). I ended up getting a pretty floral dress that I wore the very next day!

We got back to our hotel around sunset and immediately headed towards Navy Pier for the fireworks that happen every Wednesday and Saturday during the summer. We walked along the lake and were treated to this view of the city in the twilight.


We sat right on the waterfront waiting for the fireworks to start. Then we saw this big, bright, semicircular object in the distance. I thought it was the dome to the planetarium or something when we noticed it rise. It was the moon! It was so huge and round and yellow/orange! It was an unbelievable moonrise.


The fireworks over the lake were pretty spectacular too.


We then rode the ferris wheel at Navy Pier. We also wanted to go on the wave swing (my favorite thing ever) but they were near closing time and we could only do one ride.


By this point we were getting hungry again (darn irregular eating schedules when traveling) so we decided to go get Italian beef (another one of the supposed must-haves in Chicago) from Portillo’s.


We agreed that it tasted like a Philly cheesesteak without the cheese, which was still delicious. So we ended this very long day with full stomachs!

Days 4&5

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Day 1

Our second day in Chicago started with a hunt for a place for breakfast. Our hotel, the Tremont Chicago Hotel at Magnificent Mile, offered a $10 continental breakfast in the adjoining restaurant, but the selection looked limited. So we asked the girl at the front desk for recommendations and she suggested the Tempo Cafe a few blocks away. It was probably the most disappointing meal I’ve had in a while. Jin and I both ordered omelets, but what we got were humongous, thick, tasteless patties of rubbery egg.


The “omelet” (I can’t call that a real omelet, because I love real omelets) wasn’t seasoned at all and the potatoes that it was weirdly served on top of had this strange oily taste to it. I don’t think either of us finished even half of our dishes.

After the very unappetizing meal, we walked over to the Chicago River for our architecture boat tour. There were 3 different companies that offered such tours, and we picked Wendella, which seemed to offer a good balance of everything (cost, length of tour, amount of information offered).


It was a really good experience and we saw a lot of interesting buildings. My neck was getting sore at the end from staring up at all the skyscrapers. These 2 were of the coolest buildings we saw – Marina City, aka the corn cobs of Chicago. There are apartments in there with pie slice-shaped floor plans!


Great view of Willis Tower:


And the Chicago skyline from the mouth of the river:


Aside from being really informative and fun, I’m glad that we did the tour early on in our trip because our tour guide actually gave us a lot of great recommendations for other stuff to do in Chicago. For example, she told us that the best view of Chicago from up high is from the women’s bathroom in the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Center. We were going to get a CityPass and the observatory in the John Hancock Center was one of the attractions that we could choose from. But we decided to just go up for a drink at the Signature Lounge and use the pass for something else. It was a wise choice! The view from up there was fantastic, and although the drink prices were a little on the high side, you’re really paying for the view.


After that, we headed to the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the attractions on the CityPass.


We were quite rushed since we got there about 1.5 hours before closing, so we didn’t get to see a lot of the museum. We did take the time to walk through the special exhibit Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity. It was pretty fascinating (no photos were allowed though).


Then we ran around the museum trying to see all of the most famous pieces there, like American Gothic and Chagall’s America Windows.


We forgot to see The Great Wave off Kanagawa in our rush though. Oh well. We really should have budgeted more time for this. Anyway, after we left the Art Institute, we walked over to Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park.


It was right next to Lake Michigan, which was looking so picturesque on this gorgeous sunny day.


For dinner that night we decided to try out deep dish pizza. I had never had it before so I was pretty excited! We went to Lou Malnati’s.


We started with a spinach and pear salad (need veggies!).


And we shared an 9″ Chicago Classic pizza, which had lean sausage, extra cheese and vine-ripened tomato sauce on Buttercrust. We also added mushrooms to it.


It was really good and probably the cheesiest pizza I’ve ever had. It had a legit full LAYER of cheese. We also each got a glass of Goose Island 312, a Chicago craft beer recommended by our Wendella tour guide.

After our delicious and filling dinner, we decided to go back to the Signature Lounge to see the city at night. Except this time we only went to the bathroom haha. You don’t even need to pay to see this stunning view!


Day 3
Days 4&5

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For our 4 year anniversary last month, Yufei and I decided to go to Half Moon Bay for a nice little weekend getaway. I had just come back from New York and really welcomed the trip. We drove down from San Francisco on Friday morning. The drive was along the coast and the view was absolutely beautiful. We stopped by the Taco Bell in Pacifica for lunch – most scenic fast food restaurant ever! We also made a stop at another beach along the highway and took some photos.

We stayed at the gorgeous Mill Rose Inn, which was just so lovely. They had a beautiful garden full of blooming roses!

After checking in and dropping off our stuff, we went out for a walk in downtown Half Moon Bay. It’s such a cute little town! We were just in time for the annual pumpkin festival that was happening that weekend. We saw California’s biggest pumpkin:

The thing was humongous! Definitely can see it being turned into Cinderella’s carriage – ha! After walking around and getting ice cream, we drove to the beach.

We hung out at the beach for a while, then went back to the inn to rest a bit and watch a DVD. The inn provides tons of DVD’s that you can borrow and play on the TV’s in the rooms. Then it was dinnertime. I made a reservation at Cetrella, a restaurant within walking distant. It was a very nice place, great ambiance, with a live piano player and singer. Food and service were both excellent as well. It was very dark in the restaurant so I couldn’t really take photos (didn’t want to be that annoying person who keeps using flash).

After dinner, we walked back to the inn, which was equally magical at night. They had all these lights on their trees in the backyard – reminds me of Christmas!

The next morning, we had breakfast in the dining room (you can also choose to have it delivered to your room). They served champagne as well as a really yummy orange banana smoothie.

For food there was a pumpkin crumble, frittata, this nutty banana toast, and watermelon.

After breakfast we checked out, put our bags in the car, and went downtown to check out the art and pumpkin festival. There sure were a lot of people flooding into this tiny town! There were booths with artists and merchants selling their goods, food stands, etc. There was also a Halloween parade, where we saw this amazing Spongebob costume:

We had to get back in the early afternoon because I had work in the evening (boo). We had a wonderful time in Half Moon Bay; the weather was gorgeous, the Mill Rose Inn was lovely, dinner was decadent, we got to visit the festival, and most importantly, we got to spend it with each other and celebrate our 4 years together!

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The California adventure continues! Yufei and I headed down to Monterey for the weekend (2 weeks ago), on the Greyhound, which we both agreed we’d never take again since it was awfully delayed (not the first time it’s happened). Anyway, I’m going to skip over the unpleasant business of getting there and say that we did eventually arrive at the bed and breakfast we were staying at late in the afternoon. It was the Martine Inn, which sits by the ocean in Pacific Grove, a beautiful Victorian abode. From the moment we stepped inside the house, we knew we were somewhere special. The place was impeccably decorated, gorgeously warm and welcoming in every way. Here’s the lovely living room:

And the beautiful garden:

They even had a little games room:

The whole place was just so quaint and charming – we had a clawfoot bathtub! – I just loved it! Props to my awesome boyfriend for picking such a perfect place!

After we got settled in, we were right on time for the daily afternoon hors d’heuvre and wine in the dining room (can I love this place any more?). Having satisfied our palates on the delectable treats, we set out for a trek along the beach on the seaside trail. It was a rather grey day, but not windy and therefore not as chilly as it was in San Francisco. Quite pleasant, actually. We passed by some harbour seals along the way:

Then we made our way down to Cannery Row and walked around the shops and attractions, and where I felt very compelled to read the Steinbeck novel for which the street was named after (in fact, I think I shall soon). As it was starting to get dark, we walked over to The Sardine Factory, where we had dinner reservations.

We had looked up the place on Yelp and made a reservation earlier that afternoon in a rush, and I was in no way expecting such a fancy place from a name like “The Sardine Factory”. But fancy it was indeed, and I felt under-dressed, but oh well. Though we were half an hour early for our reservation, we were seated right away in a nice little corner by the window. Warm bread (love that!) along with butter, seasoned olives, and a bean spread, was brought to us promptly:

The bread was so fluffy and warm and delicious that we had to force ourselves to stop eating them lest we stuff ourselves before the real meal even begins. We started out by sharing the Salinas Valley Salad, which was very good:

For our main courses, Yufei had a steak with a side of mashed potatoes:

And I knew I had to get some sort of seafood, and I opted for the seafood pasta:

We were both very impressed with the food so far, and even though we were pretty full by the time we finished (or in me case, attempted to finish) our mains, we wanted desert. After taking a look at the dessert menu, we decided to have the ice cream bonbons. We had no idea what that actually meant, but it was supposed to be “served dramatically with dry ice”. And indeed it was:

It was so dramatic that it elicited “oohs” and “ahs” and camera flashes from the table next to us! Turns out the bonbons were strawberry ice cream on a stick covered in chocolate, served with caramel sauce and crushed peanuts for dipping. Delicious! Overall we had a wonderful experience at the Sardine Factory and went home with happy stomachs.

The next morning we got up in time for breakfast served in the dining room overlooking the bay. French toast with berries and sausages, coffee, and apple juice – all served fresh (this place is seriously awesome!).

After breakfast we reluctantly left the lovely B&B (they gave us homemade banana bread upon departure!) and walked towards the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where we spent the better part of the day. We saw lots of colorful fish:

Sea turtles:

Strange sea horses and sea dragons:

Beautiful yet deadly jellies:

And lots of other fish, rays, coastal birds, penguins, sea otters, starfish, crabs, lobsters, and tons more. Here’s me sitting in a clam!

By the time we were finished with the aquarium, it was already afternoon, so we hopped on a free tourist bus and went to downtown Monterey to walk around a bit before catching another bus to Salinas. And having vowed to never take the Greyhound again, we went to the Amtrak station and bought train tickets back to SF. And thus ended our weekend in Monterey! Sigh… I want to go back already!

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