Honeymoon – San Diego (the grand finale)

Here we are, the last post about our cross-country trip… Nearly 5 months after we got married. This final semester of school is a real doozie, with more involved homework than any of my previous semesters. But since the honeymoons series is over, I’ve got a whole new theme for posts in the works (I’ll announce what it is next week) and also plan to start back writing Two Dollar Tuesday posts.

And without any further ado, here’s San Diego:

I had a really hard time choosing between ending our trip in San Francisco or San Diego. I’m really happy that we chose San Diego (which was because it didn’t require a train transfer) because it turned out to be Peter’s favorite city!

Having never seen any California city besides LA, I assumed San Diego would also be a sprawling city packed with people and traffic. It turned out to be a relaxed sea-side city full of amazing food and wonderful history.

Just like my Los Angeles portion of the trip, I am missing photographs of meals I know I took photos of. Alas, they are nowhere to be found, so I’ll just be mentioning where we ate with just a description.

We stayed at the budget-friendly Days Inn, which even at a bargain price was right across from the ocean and situated in the center of various museums and restaurants. We were able to easily walk there from the train station.

Right across from the hotel was a nice little park, which featured this deranged art installment. On the first day in town, after throwing our backpacks into the hotel room, we headed out to lunch. Happy Cow said there weren’t any restaurants nearby, so we stuck with Yelp and found Underbelly, an amazing ramen shop.

They had two vegetarian options (which you could also get vegan noodles for). Peter got the vegetable ramen, which had truffle oil, several types of mushrooms, and white asparagus. I went with the crazier sounding charred kimchi ramen, which had kimchi, rainbow carrots (which were divine), and a variety of shishito peppers.

While I loved Ramen Champ, I think this was probably the best bowl of ramen I’ve ever eaten. I love kimchi, and that combined with flavorful and brightly colored carrots and spicy peppers made a combination that was something entirely new for me. They also had a variety of condiments for customers to customize their own heat and saltiness. It was so good that we ended up eating dinner there again the next evening.

Full to the brim with noodles, we headed over the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Peter definitely finds ships more interesting than I do, so I just expected to spend about an hour or so wandering around the museum. Little did I know that this museum woould be extremely interesting and extensive, which is how we ended up spending all afternoon there.

The moment we realized it wasn’t gonna be your average boat museum was when we saw they had an USSR submarine on the guide map.

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The best part was wandering around inside, where you could see how giant their missiles were.11113725_10205854054904314_2096309917352862767_o

And how claustrophobic-feeling the whole place was.
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Peter and I both agreed that the working periscope was the neatest part of the submarine.11169747_10205854055384326_4478064034377368015_oThe second coolest part (trailing close to the sub) was the Star of India.

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The ship has lived a plethora of lives. Starting as a spice trading vessel, moving on to sailing immigrants from Great Britain to New Zealand, shipping logs in Alaska, and then finally ending up here.11350444_10205854053784286_5066209630102428459_nWe were two of the few visitors they had that day, so we had free reign on the deck and below to explore.

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Below deck was equally as beautiful and informative as above. They had charts and drawings explaining the Star of India’s various jobs, different classifications of sailing ships, and even mannequins placed in the tiny cabins to show what room was like for those immigrating.If you’re ever in San Diego, please visit the Maritime Museum. It’s wonderful way to spend the afternoon.We spent the rest of the day lazily exploring the sea side and Little Italy (right behind our hotel). For dinner we didn’t want to walk far, and didn’t mind eating something super casual. So we walked down the block to a little Mexican fast food place, Los Panchitos. They had a veggie burrito that I easily made vegan by removing the cheese and sour cream. It was a super soft giant flour tortilla stuffed full of refried beans, rice, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, and guacamole. Peter got the same, just without removing the dairy. It was really good and filling for just $5 and the staff was happy to accommodate to menu modifications.

The second day in San Diego we took the Old Town Trolley Tour to see the various major tourist attractions in town. We started by visiting the USS Midway Museum.One could easily spend the entire day exploring the Midway. We spent a solid 2.5 hours and had a great time. Inside we met a WWII veteran and he and Peter discussed the difference in the plane he flew back then versus the newer version.

They also had an awesome (though slightly nauseating) flight simulator where one person controlled the gun and the other flew the plane. Peter was pilot and we were upside down the majority of the time.
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On the upper deck was a huge collection of aircrafts. Some were for viewing (most had a sign telling their use/back story) but others allowed you to go inside and look around. 11026043_10205854060064443_9110357325304986009_o

The upper deck and inside had a large amount of mannequins doing everything from directing landing planes to serving up meals in the kitchen.
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Definitely the most wicked looking aircraft on deck.

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After the Midway we hopped on the Trolley and had a great time being toured through parts of San Diego we never would have gone to otherwise. We got off at Balboa Park and headed for the Museum of Man, which explores one of my favorite topics, anthropology.

The place was surprisingly small, but filled to the brim with folklore about monsters, carved Mayan and Egyptian stones, and more. We had a good time looking through it, and it was a beautiful building inside and out.

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After the MoM we headed to Evolution Fast Food for lunch. Sadly, as soon as we got to the parking lot, we saw it was empty. Two employees were outside and said that a kitchen fire inside was causing them to close for the day. When I asked what places nearby served vegan food, they pointed us to the Sanfilippo’s Italian restaurant next door. Thankfully, the place had Daiya cheese. So despite not having burgers, we got some decently good pizza for lunch.

Our last stop on the Trolley Tour was the Whaley House. The house is infamous for being named the most haunted house in the nation. We couldn’t resist getting a tour from there to end our trip.
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The tour guide (who I never managed to get a non-blurry picture of) was dressed in an 1800’s period-piece dress and did a great job telling the story of the Whaley family, plus she had several logical explanations for ghost stories, but didn’t totally scoff at the idea of a haunting. Sadly, I got no photographic evidence of the paranormal, but a few good shots of just the house itself.

The bottom floor of the house was where the first courthouse in the area was located.

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Very creepy, but common for that time, memorial wreath made of hair.

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Photographs and various items owned by the Whaley family.
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If I remember correctly the kitchen was a re-creation, but full of genuine period-pieces.

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By far the creepiest part of the house because of the doll collection.
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Last but not least, the upstairs had the area’s first theatre, which was taken over (along with all the upstairs bedrooms) by a travelling theatre troupe.

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And that’s it! Our honeymoon was such an amazing and fun time and something we’re going to cherish forever. Also, I want to give a big thanks to our friends and family who gifted us many things we did on our trip through Honeyfund (which is awesome and I recommend to all engaged couples). I’m super excited about getting back to regularly scheduled blogging and I hope you readers are too.

Honeymoon – Tucson

Tucson was my favorite city of the trip, and I’d happily move there if given the opportunity. It has a really relaxed vibe and is just the right size for walking around, plus it has a large amount of entertaining activities and amazing food. An added bonus is there’s a large eco-friendly movement there, which makes it no surprise that they have a 100% solar powered indie book store (which has a pretty rad reading selection).

We stayed at University Inn, which was a decent hotel in the middle of everything. Really close to the school campus and within walking distance of almost everything we wanted to see.    Our first morning in Tucson we got an early start and headed towards the University of Arizona. We walked through several neighborhoods to get there, admiring the brightly colored houses, and we also happened upon a small bird in a cactus! He seemed quite happy there, so we let him be.   We arrived at the University of Arizona Art Museum just in time to see exhibits of all the graduating art students’ work. I really really loved everything we saw, plus it was free for those with students IDs. Below are photos of just a few of my favorite pieces.    After the museum we marched around campus a bit more before walking to the Tucson Tamale Company. I didn’t get any pictures worth posting (really poor lighting), but the food was fantastic. We both got the two tamale plate with two sides. The sides weren’t awe-inspiring, but the tamales were delicious. 

There was a huge variety of vegetarian and vegan flavors, so after much himming and hawwing I settled with the new delhi (Indian inspired with a filling similar to a samosa) and the vegan blue (blue corn masa with squash, onions, tomatoes, and chiles). Peter got the chile relleno (roasted green chiles and red bell peppers with cheese) and wisconsin (just lots and lots of cheese). 

The best part was that just as I was joking about how good these corn tamales were and that it was probably due to them being GMOs, the manager came by and asked how everything was. As we were discussing the nice variety of veggie-friendly food, she said “And everything is GMO-free too!” Which just made me love the place even more.

After a filling lunch, we walked around the downtown area before heading to the Loft, a non-profit indie movie theatre with a nice mix of newer releases and old classics. We ended up seeing Welcome to Me, a funny yet slightly melancholy film that was a good way to get us out of the afternoon sun.

We went back to the hotel for a swim before walking just a block to get dinner at Zemam’s Too, an Ethiopian restaurant. Neither of us had ever eaten Ethiopian before, but Happy Cow reviewers had wonderful things to say about Zemam’s. We got two veggie samplers and in doing so basically tried every vegan dish on the menu. 

I was worried Peter wouldn’t like it (he’s not big into spicy food) but he loved it and ate the collards so fast that I barely got a sample in before they disappeared. I also enjoyed the atmosphere of the place, which was located in a renovated house, and felt almost like I was eating dinner on a friend’s patio. Since this amazing food encounter, I now have a strong love for Ethiopian food and have been trying to perfect a homemade injera bread to accompany lentils and such.
  The next day we wandered through what I mentally deemed the “hipster district” of 4th Avenue which held loads of cafes, crafty areas, book stores, and head shops. The area had plenty of things to see and several pieces of functional art (newspaper holder, bike rack, etc.) to admire. 

We had lunch at La Indita, a Mexican restaurant with a Native American twist as a nod to the owner’s heritage. The server was great about knowing what was available vegan and I got a veggie plate which featured an enchilada, tostada, beans, and rice. Peter got something cheese filled that I can’t remember the name of. Both plates were very tasty and the red sauce was more vinegar-y tasting than most Mexican restaurants I’ve been to, which was a nice change. This combination of cultures was a tasty experience and one you should seek out on 4th Avenue.    D&D Pinball was definitely the highlight of our Tucson trip. It was a small room crammed to the gills with pinball machines. The machines ranged from pretty old (Monster from the Black Lagoon) to fairly new (The Walking Dead). We went there only planning to stay an hour, but ended up playing for nearly two!     I discovered a hidden talent for pinball and had a great time trying out all the different types. My personal favorite was a medieval game that when you scored high enough it would drop the drawbridge to the castle so you could attempt to hit a ball into it.           Since the majority of our trip was spent running around in t-shirts and jeans, we decided to have a “fancy” night out at a nice restaurant and the local theatre. Dinner was at The Tasteful Kitchen, an all-vegetarian restaurant with a ton of vegan and gluten-free options. 

Our waiter convinced us to get the pepper poppers as an appetizer. They were cashew cheese stuffed jalapeños and sweet peppers with a tangy dipping sauce. These were so good that I had to stop Peter from chewing on the leftover stems to “get all the flavor out”.

 I can’t remember the particular name of this dish (they have a rotating seasonal menu and it has already changed), but it was fried eggplant medallions with marinara sauce and arugula, accompanied by a smear of basil pesto. Eggplant has the tendency to sometimes get spongey and heavy when fried, but these medallions were perfectly seasoned and fairly light feeling.

I apparently blacked out and forgot to photograph Peter’s dish, but he had zucchini noodles with basil pesto, fresh vegetables, and gnocchi.  We packed up half of our entrees to-go to make room for shared dessert, strawberry cashew cheesecake with chocolate drizzle. The Tasteful Kitchen sure does know how to cook with cashews. The sweet cheesecake was nicely complimented by the bitter dark chocolate sauce and was the perfect way to end our fancy pants meal.After dinner entertainment was at the Rogue Theatre. We saw Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and I was expecting just a decent performance due to both a lack of love for Shakespeare and previous crappy experiences with well-touted theatre. I’m happy to say pessimistic me was wrong and the whole production blew our socks off.

The acting was spot-on, costumes were impeccable, and the set really immersed you in the story. If I lived in Tucson, I would definitely become a member of the Rogue Theatre to have guaranteed good tickets to all the new shows.

    I was sad to bid Tucson farewell because we had such a fantastic time there. Hopefully we’ll be back soon or even living there someday!

Honeymoon – El Paso

It was an adventure in itself even getting to El Paso. The train lines from Austin were obstructed by a fallen tree (thanks to a slew of storms) and we had to take a bus to San Antonio’s station. Once there, we sat around for about three hours while they prepared the trains to El Paso. While waiting we met a lot of nice people in line and had great conversations, so that made the time pass faster.

Once we arrived in the late afternoon from the overnight train, we were exhausted and hungry. We checked into  the Gardner Hotel, a dusty yet charming hotel that’s famous for being a rest stop of John Dillinger’s bank robbing spree. We were delighted to find that the pizza place directly next to the hotel, the Pizza Joint, had vegan options!

They were actually out of Daiya cheese that day and were extremely apologetic about it, and the wonderful staff were aware of what crusts and sauces were vegan-friendly. I ended up getting their thin crust pizza with garlic olive oil, kalamata olives, artichokes, red onion, and fresh basil. It actually didn’t even need the Daiya, I think it would’ve covered up the pizza’s nicely balanced flavor.Peter wanted to keep things simple and just ordered two slices of cheese pizza. Little did he know that those slices were each bigger than his head. Check out the awkward posed bite photo he insisted on me taking.Pizza Joint also had a small collection of board games, so we spent our lunch playing Battleship. While we waited on our Uber at the Austin train station, we met a lovely woman named Eva who was delighted that we were visiting Texas on our honeymoon. We later ran back into her at the Texas State Capital and she offfered her phone number and an “insider tour” if we were ever in El Paso. So while in town, we met up with her and she drove us all around.

Eva volunteers at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) so we got shown the campus, the library, and some of the recently renovated grounds. We also visited a tamale shop (which had dessert tamales that were vegan!), her former school, and some of El Paso’s other interesting sights.  Eva drove us up the mountain in the center of the city and we had an amazing view of El Paso and also Juarez, Mexico. According to her, the mountain writing on the Juarez side says “The Bible is good, read it”. Meeting Eva was such an awesome part of our trip, and we parted with a hug and her telling us “Have a good life, and take care of people you meet along the way.” Such a nice woman. For lunch, we stopped by the Green Ingredient, which was only about two blocks from the hotel. Be warned, it is on the ground floor of the Chase Building with no signage outside. We walked by twice before we stopped and asked a security guard who pointed us inside.

Inside was an airy and well-lit dining area, with a friendly staff. Peter wasn’t particularly hungry (from the earlier tamales), so he just got dessert. He chose the avocado chocolate mousse, which was actually vegan. I like avocado mousse just as much as any other vegan, but this stuff is unrivaled. Really creamy and rich, on top of a soft chocolate cookie and sprinkled with cacao nibs. I can’t resist anything with “buffalo” in the title, so I got the cauliflower wings with tofu ranch. Our waitress was nice enough to substitute broccoli for the celery since I abhor that vegetable. These were very spicy (a good thing in my book) and perfectly textured, just inbetween being too soft or crunchy. The ranch wasn’t as creamy as expected and had a very lemony flavor, but it worked well with the cauliflower.  After lunch we visited the Magoffin Home, a historic adobe home in downtown El Paso. We took the guided tour and it was a great way to spend an hour. We learned about how the adobe housing was made, a large amount of El Paso history, stories of the Magoffin family, and how this particular family impacted the growth and change of the town. A really neat place, just like El Paso itself.