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 – Austin

This post is definitely going to be the longest thing I’ll write about our honeymoon, because we stayed nearly 4 days in Austin, an amazingly vegan-friendly city.
If you’re comfortable walking pretty much everywhere, we recommend staying at the Super 8 near the capital/university area. We stayed there and it was a five minute walk to downtown Austin.

Day 1: We arrived by train in the early afternoon and immediately set off looking for the Shhmaltz food truck, famous for their vegan reuben.The truck is in a nice little area tucked behind a bookstore. We somehow managed to get lost, but when we called the lovely owners (twice actually) they managed to give us directions that led us there.  So, even if you’re using Google Maps, remember to check behind the bookstore!

The area was nice and green with a canopy to shade us from the sun. Plus adorable planters with succulents decorated the tables.I, of course, got the vegan ‘Harvey P’ reuben and on the side a pickle sampler. The sampler included pickled cucumber, jicama, carrots, and watermelon radishes.

The sandwich lived up to the hype, and the pickles were the perfect accompaniment. The seitan (house-made, I might add) was full of flavor with an eerily similar to meat texture, topped with an equally delicious sauce and smashed between toasted marbled rye.  Peter ate their ‘Gertrude Stein’ goat cheese sandwich, that he described as “creamy and yummy”. The city was chock-full of interesting street art.

 Although we don’t have any photos from it, our afternoon was spent wandering through downtown before heading to the University of Texas campus to visit the Blanton Art Museum and the Texas Memorial Museum.

The Blanton was awesome with several pieces of modern art and an exhibit on civil rights. My personal favorite piece was a life-size Aunt Jemima packing heat.

The Texas Memorial was small, but interesting, and definitely worth the small entry fee of $2 each for students ($4 for anyone else 13+). It had a decent collection of geodes, minerals, dinosaur bones, and examples of local wildlife. Before we knew it, we’d actually been looking around there for over an hour!

All of that walking built up an appetite, so we visited a food truck I’d been hearing about (and wanting to visit) for years: Arlo’s. We got there right before a storm was about to break and the guys in the truck were happy to package our meal for to-go.

Once we got our food, the heavens opened and our tiny umbrella couldn’t shield both us and the burgers. So we sacrificed our own comfort to save the food, and jogged to our nearby hotel. Once dried off in the hotel (sorry for the shoddy lighting) we dug into our bacon cheese burgers and order of tater tots. Now I know you can’t tell from the picture, but this is the most magnificent burger I have ever eaten. Probably my favorite meal of our entire honeymoon.

The burger patty and bacon are all house-made seitan, and I’m fairly sure they used Daiya cheese, along with lettuce, tomatoes, and mustard. Oh man. We ended up eating there twice more during the trip, despite us wanting to try new things every meal. If I lived in Austin, I’m pretty sure the Arlo’s staff would soon know Peter and I by name. Day 2: We were up bright and early to visit the Texas Capital Building and go on a tour. The building was amazingly decorative, from the doorknobs to the hinges.
 The main focal point (and the most crowded place) was the center of the building, which at the very tip-top featured a huge star that was actually 8 feet across, but looked much smaller from the ground level.

 Our tour guide was nice and informative, and seemed genuinely happy to answer questions. We went through the Texas House of Representatives room, and were told about various things happening there and the history behind some of the portraits on the walls.

 For lunch we went to the Austin Farmer’s Market There were so many vendors with beautiful local produce and products. It made me quite sad that I didn’t have a kitchen to cook all the wonderful looking fruits and vegetables in.
We got some tamales at The Gardner’s Feast tent. I chose the mushroom type and Peter got feta and spring veggies. To drink we had our first encounter with kombucha at the Buddha’s Brew tent. They had taps on display so you could sample the wares before investing in a bottle. We both ended up liking the blueberry flavor best. Peter being King of the Pigeons after dropping tamale crumbs.
 We couldn’t resist dessert from the Happy Vegan Baker. Peter chose a vanilla cupcake and I got a blackberry pastry. Both were delicious and we left the Farmer’s Market full and happy!
We couldn’t resist a good photo op. The First Street Bridge was a really pleasant walk over the Colorado River. It was a pretty view and felt far away from the actual traffic.
Our main destination across the bridge was Peter Pan Mini Golf. A kinda creepy but a lot of fun mini golf course. I don’t know who sat down and thought up the ideas for each hole’s theme. Seriously, an ant singing on a taco? Or an obviously high bunny rabbit with a skateboard? The wackiness of the sculptures made it even more fun.
 Neither of us are actually any good at mini golf.
 Missing holes took up the rest of our afternoon, so we decided to get dinner on that side of the river. Thankfully, it’s hard to go someplace in Austin and not be within two blocks of vegan food. Unity Vegan Kitchen was just a short walk away and offered some very, very good food.

Peter partook in the lasagna, which was a big portion size and filled up with thick tomato sauce, something similar to ground beef, and cashew cheese. I chose their weekly special, which was a chick’n and cheese chimichanga.

Peter is happy with anything pasta, so he gave his meal a thumbs up. Mine was amazing and full of gooey cheese, spiced chick’n (pretty sure it was Beyond Meat), and all wrapped up in a crispy fried tortilla. It was also served with two cups of salsa on the side, one red and one green. If you’re in the neighborhood, check this place out. Their food rocks.
Day 3: Texas has a reputation for having great Mexican food, so we wanted to try out the Tamale House East, which had stellar reviews online. The large line told us that it must be worth waiting for. I happily ordered the vegan mushroom enchiladas and Peter asked for the cheese enchiladas. I’m sad to say that this was our one bad food experience in Austin. The waitress brought out our food and mine had cheese. I told her I’d ordered the vegan enchiladas and she seemed bewildered and said that was them. “Is this vegan cheese?” I asked doubtfully and then she said “No.” After a minute, the manager came out and said he could fix this and whisked the plate away. About 5 minutes later cheese-free enchiladas were at my table, though all of the staff had acted like I was being unreasonable.

The food was just mediocre, like something I could get at any run of the mill Mexican joint. A soggy corn tortilla stuffed with sauteed mushrooms (without any real flavor) and topped with green salsa. The sides were fine, but lukewarm when brought out. Needless to say, I wouldn’t recommend going there if you don’t want a plate covered in cheese.
 We visited the French Legation Museum on a whim, and it turned out to be one of our favorite parts of Austin. It featured Austin’s oldest home and our tour guide told us about former residents. The entire thing was furnished with period pieces and fascinating to view. If you don’t want to pay for the tour (even though it was only $5!) the grounds are free to visit during the museum’s open hours. Afterwards we strolled through the Texas State Cemetery. It was well kept and featured some well known people (including Austin’s namesake). 

 Since our last restaurant visit didn’t work out, we decided to stick with food trucks again. There was a food truck park just a five minute walk from the hotel and there we settled on Coat and Thai for dinner. Peter got the pad thai and I ordered the green curry (be sure to specify you want it vegan!). We got it packaged to-go so we could eat while we waited on the bats.
 Under Congress Avenue Bridge is a horde of thousands of bats that fly out every night and people go out to watch them.The area where we sat was actually really nice, even more so when it cooled down after the sun set. We happily sat there and ate our Thai food (which was delicious and very filling!) while we waited.
 Eventually a steady stream of bats flew out and it was an amazing sight. You could hear them squeaking and see them fly out into the nearby trees. We stayed about two hours, just fascinated by the seemingly unending amount of bats.  Our train out of Austin was later in the day, so we had time for lunch and an activity or two. We went back to the food truck park, but sadly Coat and Thai was closed. Luckily though, Way South Philly was open!

Peter got the Marciano and asked for no steak, so basically it was a pizza sub (which he was ecstatic about). I got the Adrian, which had squash, zucchini, mushrooms, bell pepper, and onions.

gotta be honest, at first I was sad at the thought of just a veggie sandwich. I expected something that would probably be a little plain and not filling, but boy was I wrong. The veggies were all perfectly cooked and well seasoned. The roll it was served on was equal parts crusty and soft, and then everything was perfected with a little drizzle of hot sauce on top. Good job, Way South Philly. You taught a jaded old vegan that even a meat and cheese place can make a darn good veggie sandwich.
 After lunch we walked around 6th Street, which had a huge collection of restaurants, art galleries, clothing stores, and other wacky findings. One of the best things there was the Museum of the Weird, which was tucked into the back of a gift shop.

When you first enter the tour guide does a small (yet impressive) show featuring sword swallowing and other classic stunts. Then you’re free to explore the museum’s array of items, ranging from deformed taxidermy animals (see below) to the fiji mermaid and big foot tracks. Although the museum wasn’t huge, we had a great time there. A lot of the displayed items’ authenticity are questionable, but that just adds to the fun.
We had such an absolute blast in Austin, we were sad to leave. And even though we packed our days here to the brim with activities, I feel like we just saw a small fraction of what the city has to offer. We’ll be back, that’s for sure.

Honeymoon – Houston

Houston was… interesting. First off, two weeks before we left I received an email saying that our hotel was cancelled. Upon further investigation, I learned our hotel had out of the blue decided to shut down.

The city’s other hotels were packed due to an oil conference, so we were forced to get a super sketchy hotel (like sketchy enough for us to shove our coffee table against the door) on the outskirts of town.

Despite this set back, we decided to start our one day in the city early by taking the bus into the downtown business district.Lunch was at Green Seed Vegan,  a little neighborhood eatery and juice bar. The staff was a bit curt, but the atmosphere was nice and honestly we were just relieved to be someplace with ice cold air conditioning after wandering around in the Texas heat.Peter got a portobello cheese steak and dill fries. The sandwich was just okay, not a ton of flavor and bread was a bit stale seeming. The fries were spot on though, I never would have thought to put dill on themMy jackfruit barbeque sandwich was equally mediocre. The sauce tasted good, but the jackfruit had been cooked down to a mush and the bun was a bit stale too. While I was happy to find a 100% vegan restaurant in the middle of the city, I probably wouldn’t return because the food wasn’t anything to call home about.We decided to walk to the museum district instead of taking a bus, which I’m glad about because otherwise we would have missed some of Houston’s awesome street art.        Some of the paths we walked were truly beautiful and surprisingly green for being in the middle of a city.      The Houston Museum of Natural Science was awesome with a large dinosaur section (with a very excited Peter because he had previously never seen a dinosaur skeleton), Egyptian exhibit, and a huge pendulum that was fascinating to watch.Dinner was at the Hobbit Cafe, a bizarre restaurant we found through Yelp.  While some of the sandwiches had themed names like Smaug’s Delight and Bilbo the Magnificent, the menu mainly consisted of Tex-Mex food. I got the portobello mushroom fajitas without cheese or sour cream and our very helpful server offered to bring extra salsa and guacamole on the side to replace the non-vegan items. Peter got the cheese enchiladas.

The food was amazing. The fajitas were well-seasoned with finely sliced vegetables, and even the side items (brown rice and black beans) which I assumed would be plain, were full of flavor.And while the food was great, nothing could beat the decor. Everyplace from the entrance to the bathrooms was Middle Earth themed. It was fantastic spot if you’re interested in Tolkien’s work, but even if you’re not a big fan, you can still appreciate the delectable menu offerings. 

Honeymoon – New Orleans

The first stop on our trip was New Orleans, the only city we had previously visited together.

Most of the city’s cheap hotels were booked up for Jazz Fest, so we ended up staying across the river near Algiers Point. Our hotel was about a 30 minute walk from the ferry, so we had a nice time strolling (and sweating in the 85+ degree weather) through the neighborhoods near the water.  While riding the ferry, a plane was flying overhead trying to spell something. Or insult somebody, we weren’t quite sure. Hungry from our trek, we stopped in at the always delicious Dreamy Weenies. We were shocked that the place was empty, apparently due to the Jazz Fest. The poor guy behind the cash register was so bored and quizzed us about where we were from and what we were doing in the city.

I got a kielbasa dog topped with slaw and red beans and rice. Peter got a smoked “chicken” dog with sour cream and cheese. 

    The majority of our day was spent taking the Saints and Sinners tour offered by French Quarter Phantoms. This is the second tour we’ve taken from this company and both have been fantastic.

The tour guide took us all through the French Quarter while regaling us with tales about the beginnings of New Orleans, various stories of its seedy history, and even told us about a woman who may become the city’s first saint.

While wandering the French Quarter we also saw this awesome lighthouse for rent. Since we’ve previously discussed moving to NOLA, I’m totally down with the idea of us living in a lighthouse there.

Dinner was at Seed near the edge of town. We dined on beignets (not pictured) to start and for dinner Peter had the southern fried tofu poboy and I had the walnut taco salad with seed gumbo.

I love this restaurant, not just because of the great food and friendly servers, but because we can enjoy New Orleans classics while still sticking with an animal-friendly lifestyle.