Monday, February 28, 2011

Goat Rock Beach

Long sandy beaches. Craggy coastline. Rugged headlands. All these make for a picturesque drive along California's Sonoma Coast.

The Sonoma Coast is one of my favorite go-to drive routes when I need a little pick up that only a day trip could cure.

Goat Rock Beach is part of the Sonoma Coast State Park system. I've visited it once before, but it was too windy, too cold in the summer time that it was impossible to stay and linger.

We went in the summer time again and this time the conditions were pretty good, better than the first time. It was an overcast day, typical for summer in these parts, but the strong winds were nowhere in sight. Because of this we were able to take some shots.

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Did you know that swimming is prohibited in this beach because of potential risk of rip currents? I saw a few sunning themselves, which could be pretty funny considering the sun never peeked under the heavy cloud cover :)

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The one on the right is goat rock. The place allegedly got its name for the goatherds used to graze their goats in the flat grassy top of the formation. Whatever, I did find the name pretty cool!

Climbing goat rock is prohibited, but the rock formation on the left has no warning sign. That must be the reason why I saw some guys scaling it when I was there.

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Arched rock

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A different angle to show Goat Rock.

Wikipedia reports that the final scene of the movie THE GOONIES (remember this?) was shot in Goat Rock beach.

Sonoma Coast is one of my favorite spots in my neck of the woods. It's about 1 to 1.5 hour's drive along scenic spots.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tee Talk

We took a 2-day get-away in coastal Cambria for my husband's birthday last November. It was a trip meant to chillax after the rush of Thanksgiving day and before all the shopping madness and Christmas preparations.

It was a lovely trip. We walked along the beach, watched the sea lions, visited a castle, ate and browse at stores. And of course one of the stores we visited was a wine store that offers wine tasting.

In between wine tasting, I surveyed the merchandise and was amused at all the writings on the tee shirts they sell. Here are samples of what I photographed.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

EAT REAL FESTIVAL Year 2 (SIGNS, SIGNS #7)

Eat Real combines a state fair, a street-food festival, and a block party to create a celebration of good food. At the Eat Real Festival, participants learn where food comes from, who grows and makes it, and how they make it. Eat Real Festival attendance is 100% free of charge, all food at the festival costs $5 and less, and all food incorporates regionally-sourced, fabulous, and sustainably-produced ingredients. [SOURCE]

Set in picturesque waterfront of Oakland's Jack London Square, food trucks and food stalls set up shop and fed hungry foodies all over the bay. Last year it was held August 27-29.

Here's what I gather for this year's offerings:
The Eat Real Festival, the urban food extravaganza that celebrates the best of quality food and farming, has released its expanded 2011 festival dates. In addition to its annual Oakland event, Eat Real now adds a Los Angeles event that will offer an extraordinary opportunity for people to celebrate not only the very best of their regional food purveyors, but also the people who grow it. Attendees will also have the opportunity to get up close and personal with their food, through food skill demonstrations on stage as well as hands on workshops.

“Eat Real has taken the idea of and old-time state fair and turned it on its head,” said Anya Fernald, founder of Eat Real Festival. “We put people in touch with their food by showing how it’s made including sauerkraut and tamale making, animal husbandry, and the skills involved in craft food professions like cheesemaking and butchery.”

Details for the 2011 events are as follows:
• Los Angeles: July 16-17 at the Helms Bakery District in Culver City, CA
• Oakland: September 23-25 at Jack London Square, downtown Oakland, CA
[source]

See how much fun it was.

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Not the usual fare you see on food trucks. And some sold out items too - so quickly.
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Spencer on the Go won third place in the first Food Channel's THE GREAT FOODTRUCK RACE, has anyone seen it?

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Gerard's Paella had the longest line, except for the Beer Shed, or even longer. They had three kinds - seafood, meat, and vegetarian.

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Cajun Boudain is spectacular!

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Sisig taco - no offense, but NOT sisig at all :). Tasty though, so Mexican in flavor.
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From the El Salvadoran stall, I got the very best chicken pupusas with sauce.
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Jerk Fish on left, fish tacos on right = both equally superb.
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Nom nom nom!!!!!
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I cannot wait for the next one!

Share your signs at SIGNS, SIGNS

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hotel Zone In Pictures

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Thank you for keeping me company as I reminisce about my Cancun vacation. Photos were taken from June 26 - July 1, 2010.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Souvenir Hunting

When we were not eating, drinking, or chillaxing on the beach, we were shopping, window shopping.

If you are interested in souvenirs, pay attention.

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In the area known as Hotel Zone where 90% of the hotels and resorts in Cancun are situated, there are shopping opportunities every other block, it seems.

We visited the Mexican Outlet because well it has an outlet in it's name. Who doesn't like outlet shopping? Mexican Outlet contains everything you ever wanted or needed - clothing, pottery, groceries minus the produce section, jewelry and more. One is tempted to stay for a long time here, looking, browsing, touching, smelling, feeling, and photographing. However, it is not outlet shopping as you know it. Price is a little high for this budget conscious consumer, but we managed to leave the store with bags in hand.

From Mexican Outlet:
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All the colors make one so happy.
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The coffee enthusiast in me found it necessary to snatch one of thes package.
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Mercado 28 is the premier marketplace. When asked where to go for local culture and shopping, to a man  they point to the direction of the Mercado 28.

This marketplace is accessible by bus. It is not located in the Hotel Zone, I believe it is located in what they refer to as Centro. Taxi is also an option, but the drivers do not take below 100 pesos from here to the Hotel Zone and vice versa. A private shuttle took us here and we took taxi back to our hotel. We were initially planning on taking the bus, but we waited a long time and none came and the dusk has fallen and I wasn't comfortable waiting in the dark so we took the taxi.

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While the market has that unmistakable local flavor that any tourist wants to experience, the selection of goods is not any different from the ones you see in the stores in the Hotel Zone or for that matter the sidewalk vendors in the Hotel Zone. We spotted a few tourists, but other than that the market place was almost empty. And yet, the storekeepers are not amenable to haggling. Needless to say that my experience here has left a bad taste in my mouth.

We also stopped to eat in one of the restaurants inside. I wasn't happy. I knew the food wouldn't be good when they served us stale nachos. Oh well.

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A few feet from this structure, I bought my mother's green Mayan dress, and a few more clothing. I chose the stall because 1)it's a grandma-grandkid manning the stall 2) they look like authentic Mayan, their faces and their clothing.

But I went into a haggling spree. I really did. When all is said and done, paid and wrapped, I heard her tell the grandkid as I was walking away how cheap I was!

We passed by the mall a few times, but didn't feel the need to stop and shop. No mall shopping for us. It has to be pulga (flea market) or the mercado.

However, one day after our Jungle Ray adventure we found we had time to kill. We walked along Kukulkan Blvd, shooting anything and everything we passed by. We thought walking along the Blvd would constitute our exercise for the day. It was after all hot and humid and we were sweating bullets.

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And while we planned to walk the entire way back to our hotel - it was 10-15 minute bus ride from our hotel to the Jungle Ray adventure - the walk seemed to go on forever. So we stopped by the Mall to get some iced coffee for refreshment.

We welcomed the refreshing coolness of the airconditioning, settled into one of the comfy chairs in the coffee shop, watched a World Cup game, then decided to see what's selling on this mall. We stayed far away from names like Cartier, Dior, Louis Vitton, etc etc.

We found a small shop where they sell everything from cooked food in individual containers (for workers' lunch) to souvenir magnets. Got some magnets here and also another package of coffee.

It was a huge mall and the stores are fabulous. There is one that only sells flip flops, which I guess is a good business in a place like Cancun.

Anyway, we managed to enter this store that carries the items we were looking for.

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I found this is the best store to get souvenirs.  1)Wider selection 2) Items are marked in pesos and dollars so no confusion 3) Prices are lower than anywhere I have seen, even the sidewalk stalls sell the item I bought here for 5 dollars more.

Who would have thought that the mall carries a lower price?  I didn't. 

Another thing worth noting here is that when we were there they were running a promo.  For $50 purchase, you get a free Cancun tote bag.  We did not know that promotion was going on.  So when my husband was paying and the total came up to 47, the owner asked me if I wanted something else that's $3 dollars worth so that I can get the tote bag.  I thought that was nice.  I almost told her I wanted to take home one of everything in the store :)

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The mall has this decorated glass dome ceiling. So pretty.

We concluded our mall trip by stopping at a Cigar shop where we managed to buy our next-door neighbor Cuban cigar.

In conclusion: My shopping experience has taught that in Cancun as in other places, it pays to comparison shop. Sidewalk vendors do not always carry the same items at a much lower price. Here, they have the highest price of the same item I was eyeing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shopping at Chichen Itza

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Get your souvenir shirts here!

For Sale: Traditional Mayan dress
The traditional Mayan dress - akin to the Philippine duster - or the ones worn at home when one is doing housework. I bought one - in green - in Cancun for my mother. Green is her color.

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The ubiquitous sombrero. I figured if I wanted one I'd just eat at Chevy's, tell them it's my b/day and walk away with the b/day sombrero :)

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This Satan-like carvings scared the bejeesus out of me. Would you take this home?

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Vendors selling masks inside the compound. There are also men in the process of carving the masks. I bought 2 or 3 masks that I haven't took out of their wrapping yet.

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The Mayan calendar is also a good buy.