A Photo Journey through Kathmandu’s Durbar Square

A Guest Post by Natasha from The Boho Chica:

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There is something I absolutely love about old towns. Maybe it’s the fascinating tales of history in the crumbling walls of the buildings and occasionally in the eyes of those who still live in them. For me, there is romance in the decadence. So within a few hours of arriving in the city, I found myself in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, map in hand, eventually deciding to put it away and simply wander as I pleased.

 

‘Durbar’, is literally translated as palace and it was not hard to imagine the grandeur of Kathmandu’s Durbar Square in its former days of glory. Within walking distance of Thamel, Kathmandu’s tourist district, the square is a good place to wander about in or sit at one of the terraced viewpoints of the tiered structures and watch how crowds of tourists, guides and locals move through the square throughout the day. The original structures date from the 17th and 18th centuries but many of these were rebuilt after a severe earthquake in 1934. The square was awarded World Heritage Site status by the UN and so attracts a lot of tourists and tour groups.

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Kumari Bahal is a red brick three storey building home to the Kumari, a young girl who becomes the living goddess and presides over religious ceremonies until she reaches puberty, after which she goes back to living as a mortal and a new Kumari is chosen. The Kumari Chowk, a three storey courtyard is strikingly beautiful with its intricately carved wooden balconies and windows. It is forbidden to photograph the Kumari who makes an appearance at her window only on important religious days for the crowds that gather for a glimpse. Only Hindus are allowed beyond the courtyard. As I wandered about in the rather silent courtyard, I noticed this little drawing on one of the walls and wondered  if  the Kumari had drawn this, or perhaps one of her siblings or friends? Was she allowed to have friends? Life must be pretty restrictive for a young child to be treated like a goddess and kept away from modern society.

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To the northeast of the square is the entrance to the Hanuman Dhoka, the royal palace of King Pratap Malla and a compound of temples. The monkey god Hanuman can be seen guarding many importance entrances in traditional structures, hence the name Hanuman Dhoka, ‘dhoka’ meaning entrance.

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The Nasal Chowk is a courtyard which follows the main entrance and consists of the coronation platform in the center. Important buildings here are the private quarters of the kings, the Audience Chamber and the five storey Panch Mukhi Hanuman temple. To the southern end of Nasal Chowk is the nine storey Basantapur Tower, adorned with erotic carvings on its facade and offers fantastic views of the palace, square and the Old Town from the top.

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Apart from the important buildings mentioned in most guides as well as the information booklet that you receive at the entrance while buying your entrance ticket, the lanes and streets around the area in Kathmandu’s Old Town are a treasure trove of beautiful temples, stone and wooden carvings, shrines and sculptures. Sometimes you turn around a corner to find a bright eyed deity looking at you or Hanuman standing guard wrapped in orange. Finding one of these unexpectedly in an alley is like finding your own little piece of Nepali history.

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About Me:

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Natasha Amar is a Dubai based travel blogger happily infected by wanderlust. On her blog The Boho Chica, she shares entertaining stories of things that shock, amaze and inspire her even as she tries to challenge herself and seek deeper cultural experiences on her travels.   You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+

A Glimpse of Portland’s Streets

Alex and I went to Portland in May as part of our grand Pacific Northwest Road Trip and we had an awesome time.  The city was simply amazing and I loved wandering the streets of the city.  We had just a short time to explore the city and we hit as many restaurants as we could.  We did not have a ton of time in the city but we also did not really have a plan at all.  We spent most of our time eating and drinking our way around.  I did end taking a lot of pictures of the streets and we also had a short stop at the Timbers’ stadium where our friend, Matt, works.

 

So here is just a little glimpse of the streets of Portland.

Porch Light, Portland

Really wish we had time to stop at Deschutes, next time!

Really wish we had time to stop at Deschutes, next time!

Powell Books in HUGE!  We could have spent a whole day there

Powell Books in HUGE! We could have spent a whole day there

The Ace Hotel is delightfully hipster.  We spent the afternoon here drinking coffee at Stumptown.  By far the most hipster thing we have ever done

The Ace Hotel is delightfully hipster. We spent the afternoon here drinking coffee at Stumptown. By far the most hipster thing we have ever done

Loved all the fun restaurant signs across the city, in case you couldn't tell

Loved all the fun restaurant signs across the city, in case you couldn’t tell

Sizzle Pie

Showing some love on the streets of Portland

Showing some love on the streets of Portland

Portland

Thai in Portland

Art House Coffee Shop

Sad we were not there on game day, would have been so much fun to see

Sad we were not there on game day, would have been so much fun to see

Portland Timbers

 

Have you been to Portland?  What were your favorite places?  We will be revealing where we ate and drank while in the city in the next week!

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This post is part of the #WeekendWanderlust  Thank you Justin Plus Lauren for sharing this great link up of blogs.  Check out their post on the Fortifications of Quebec City and view more blogs linked up to #WeekendWanderlust!

Baci, the Best Damn Italian Restaurant in Town

 

Baci Cafe and Wine Bar

Ashley and I are coming up on our two year anniversary since we left Rome and moved back to California. We both can’t believe it has been this long already;  it seems just like yesterday that we were enjoying our lives in the eternal city of Rome. So to say the least, we are missing Rome and all our adventures there. One of the things that we miss the most is the cuisine and we have noticed that we have become very picky on the Italian cuisine that we eat. To sum it up we have become snobs about Italian food. We have high standards when it comes to Italian food and that is just a fact that we are going to have to accept. We have spent these last two years looking for that Italian restaurant that would remind us of Rome and I believe that we actually found the restaurant hiding in the small California town of Healdsburg.

Baci is a small town Italian restaurant that does things right. They keep the meal simple and stick to what makes Italian cuisine so fantastic: the simplicity of fresh ingredients and letting the ingredients speak for themselves.

Photo courtesy of the Press Democrat

Photo courtesy of the Press Democrat

 

 

Now one thing to know about Healdsburg, Ca is that there is no shortage of  good restaurants up here. We are in the heart of wine country, so good food is in abundance. Baci though, stands out in our minds because it reminds us of our past life in Italy. As you enter the restaurant you are welcomed with the pleasant sound of dinner conversations coming from other diners; then the smell of cooked tomatoes and and freshly roasting garlic whips through the air and grabs your nose and puts it at attention.

Baci is a medium size restaurant, it is not the size of your local ma and pop place but it is not the size of your local chain restaurant. As you walk into the main room you see their clay wood burning oven in the back and someone is baking their fresh bread or pizza as the dining room is laid out before it. Even when the place is packed you feel like you have space. It does get loud but that fits right in with an Italian restaurant. Locals and tourist alike sit side by side eating and drinking local wines. The first person you will see is probably one of the owners, Lisbeth Holmefjord, who is in charge of the front of the house and the wine selection. She welcomes you with a big smile and greets every customer with the same upbeat attitude.  Coming in out of the kitchen are busy serves and the chef greets locals at the tables, asking them how they are. He is the man making sure the food comes out to you just right from the kitchen. His name is Chef Shari Sarabi and just like his wife Lisbeth he always greets people with a smile. One feels like they are at a family get together and are apart of the family when they dine at Baci. I have been to Baci now ten times and I have received this type of greeting every time.

At the table I felt like I was truly a part of the party. Baci has a great wine list highlighting some of the local Sonoma County wines and great Italian wines and if you decide to bring your own wine also buy a bottle of their’s as well because you will get free corkage. Take your time looking through the menu because they are many excellent options. When Ashley and I eat out we like to go big especially when it is an Italian style restaurant. I’m talking a couple of bottles of wine, a few appetizers, a couple of main courses, and desserts with a couple of after dinner drinks. Last but not least, to keep it real Italian, some espresso to wash it all down.

We will start with one of the most basic starters done in almost all Italian restaurants,  Bruschetta all’aglio, pomodoro e basilico: Grilled rustic bread, tomato, onion, garlic, basil, parsley & extra virgin olive oil. The crunch and the softness of the bread with the sweet tomato, the bite of the garlic and how all the ingredients work together show what Italian food is all about; balance and fresh ingredients. It might be eight dollars but the portion is a decent size and worth it. If you are looking for Italian style prices just remember you’re not in Italy.

Bruschetta al Pomodoro

Bruschetta al Pomodoro

The next appetizers on the menu for us always is, Burrata: Fresh mozzarella stuffed with cream on grilled bread, sauteed leeks, pancetta, topped with roasted tomato, pesto, and extra virgin olive oil. This is comes in at fourteen dollars but well worth the price. Three great sized pieces of creamy burrata that just melts in your mouth. Now if you do not know what burrata is then this is the only thing you need to worry about getting it because it is cheese sent down from the heavens. Once you have a bite you will never be satisfied with any cheese again. Baci has extremely fresh burrata which is important. Another very traditional appetizer is Prosciutto e Melone: Thinly sliced Parma Prosciutto with local summer melon. This is a must mention since it is still summer. It is a very simple dish with fresh juicy cantaloupe and salty prosciutto which work really well together and eating this dish is pure joy. It will cost you fourteen dollars for the dish but hey you are eating out so splurge a little.

proscuitoo e melone

It is time for the main dishes and this is what Baci does so well. We are going to start with our favorite. I think Ashley would go to the end of the world for this dish, luckily it is a five minute walk from our house; Gnocchi alla bolognese: Traditional slow-cooked meat sauce made from American kobe beef, veal, and pork ribs , tossed with house made gnocchi. I think the the description says enough but I do not believe words can describe it except that it is like eating soft sweet little pillows of homemade pasta with sauce that just makes your mouth salivate. Ashley and I both agree that this might be the best dish in the restaurant.  This dish however, is more on the expensive side going for twenty dollars but lets  blame it on the homemade gnocchi and the Kobe Beef!

 

Gnocchi al Bolognese

Gnocchi al Bolognese, so good!

When we can agree that only one of should order the gnocchi the other often orders the Rigatoni Con Salsiccia: Short tubes, Italian pork fennel sausage, fresh tomato, garlic, tomato sauce, and basil chiffonade. Again Baci shows how simple well sourced ingredients work together. The pasta cooked in the traditional method of al dente. The plate is not drowned in sauce but perfectly proportioned to the pasta. The sauce has a sweetness of the tomatoes but the a nice balance of savory and salty from the sausage and other ingredients. The sausage is amazing and mixes well with the sauce. This dish comes in at eighteen on their menu.

Rigatoni al Salsiccia, so amazing!

Rigatoni al Salsiccia, so amazing!

If you are looking for traditional Italian try the Tagliatelle alla Carbonara: Flat long pasta, pancetta, chicken broth, black pepper, egg yolk, and parmesan. This is a dish that I know very well from living in Rome which is where this dish started.  I tend to be very picky about it because so many people mess it up but of course not Baci. The sauce was done right and not over eggy and the pasta is again done in the al dente style. The presentation is done nicely as it comes on a plate in a little ball. During the winter this is the perfect dish to keep one warm and full. This dish comes in on the cheaper side going for sixteen dollars.

I judge Italian places a lot by the quality of their pasta.They are the most simplistic dishes and if they can’t do the simple things right how else are they supposed to do the complex things right? Baci knows how to make a good bowl of pasta, it is that simple.

The good food does not stop there, it is time for desert and of course an espresso. I like to go with the tiramisu or occasionally even simpler with the freshly made biscotti with coffee, or even the affogato which is a wonderful blend of gelato and coffee.

The best 3 chocolate mousse

The best 3 chocolate mousse

Now there is a lot on the menu I did not hit. The have an eclectic menu with a mixture of dishes; I did not go into the carne e polo. I tend to stick to the pasta which is so good. If you you are a little more hungry they have pasta and meat combinations for the big appetites. Baci is one of the better Italian restaurants that I have been  to since I have been back home. I believe it is because they focus on making Italian cuisine the right way with fresh ingredients and keeping it simple. Baci overall gets an 9/10 out of ten from me. The only negative thing I have to say is that it can be a  little expensive. The food itself gets a 10/10 and I highly recommend this place for a good night out in Healdsburg Ca.

Tiramisu, I love you

Tiramisu, I love you

Healdsburg City Guide

Beautiful California Sunset over Healdsburg

Beautiful California Sunset over Healdsburg

Alex and I moved to Healdsburg, California about 5 months ago from the Bay Area and this so far has been one of our best decisions we have made since we returned to California.  Healdsburg is a great little wine country town located in the north of Sonoma County and it has everything we could want.  We thought that since this is a major town people visit when they come to wine country that we should highlight some of our favorite places and things to do.

 

We are by no means experts, but hey we like wine and food and that is what this town is all about!

 

Vines of Alexander Valley at bud break

Vines of Alexander Valley at bud break

Wine Tasting:

The big draw of Healdsburg is that it is located between Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and the Russian River Valley, which are three HUGE wine growing regions and because of this we have amazing wine and wineries located just minutes away.  We live in Healdsburg and we are always walking downtown where there are over 40 tasting rooms there and of course there are hundreds throughout the valleys.  That’s a lot of options but here are our favorites which we always seem to revisit:

 

Williamson:

 Williamson Wines

We may be partial to Williamson since all of our friends work there but they make fantastic wine and their wine tasting experience is amazing.  They are located just off the main plaza in Healdsburg on Matheson Street and are a family owned winery.  Dawn and Bill along with their son Sam, all fantastically friendly Aussies, have created their tasting room to be a fun environment to celebrate great wine and food.  The staff is awesome (which is why we are all friends….) and they are such a fun group.  Their tasting is also fantastic.  Williamson is all about pairing phenomenal wines with equally amazing food and you really get to experience this when you head to their tasting room.  Every tasting involves a cheese pairing and its not just a slice of cheddar either.  I am talking about Irish cheddar with truffle salt paired with their Passion Pinot Noir or a slice of mango ginger stilton paired with the Chantilly Chardonnay.  It is fantastic, visit Williamson you will not regret it.  Did I mention that the tasting is always free????

Delicious Pinot pairing at Williamson

Delicious pairing at Williamson

 

Toad Hollow:

 

There are toads everywhere at Toad Hallow!

There are toads everywhere at Toad Hollow!

Toad Hollow is delightfully fun tasting room just north of the plaza on Healdsburg Avenue.  They have an amazing tasting list where you get all the wines on it for $8, or free if you buy a bottle over $8.  They start you off with their awesome champagne actually made in France called Amplexus and then continue down the list.  They have an awesome rose which Alex and I are fans of and then a great red blend called Erik the Red.  If you are lucky they will pull out the Viking horns while you are there.

 

Cartograph:

 

Photo courtesy of cartographwines.com

Photo courtesy of cartographwines.com

Cartograph called our name as soon as we walked in and saw all the maps and references to longitude and latitude, as travelers we are suckers for maps (you should see our house), and it helped that Cartograph has awesome wine.  They currently have a Gewurztraminer on tap that is out of this world.  It is light and fresh and not sweet and at all.  It is a perfect wine for a lovely warm summer afternoon.  I am wishing I had a glass right now!  Cartograph also offers wine by the ½ liter so you can sit and enjoy your afternoon.

 

Chateau Diana:

 

Chateau Diana is located off Dry Creek Road in the famous Dry Creek Valley and they have a great selection of wines.  They have this amazing white wine called Fleur de Lys on their 1221 label which is 67% sauvignon blanc and 33% semillon; it is our go to white wine right now.  Chateau Diana is also famous for their Zombie Zin and they always have zombie themed parties going on.  Although Chateau Diana is a larger winery and you can find their wines across the country it is worth visiting their tasting room because some of their wines they only sell there including the 1221 label.  Also if you are a sweet wine fan they have a whole tasting list for sweet wine including a pink moscato.

 

Longboard:

 

Lounging out front at Longboard

Lounging out front at Longboard

Longboard is the perfect tasting room to have at the end of our street, one because the wines are great but two because it’s surf themed.  The tasting room is full of vintage surf boards and they always have surf videos playing as well.  They also are connected with the famous surf competition/spot Mavericks and one of their best cabs is called Mavericks after this.  Also every year they have a Mavericks party where surfers come out and the wine flows, but of course it was last Saturday and we missed it :(  Besides the Mavericks Cabernet Sauvignon they also make awesome Syrahs and one of the best Carignanes I have had in awhile.

 

Sbragia:

 

The view of Dry Creek Valley from Sbragia

The view of Dry Creek Valley from Sbragia.  Photo courtesy of Sbragia.com

Sbragia is located off of Dry Creek Road right before Lake Sonoma and is known for its stunning views.  While the tastings are on the expensive side it is totally worth it to bring a picnic up and buy a bottle.  You cannot beat the views of the valley from here and for me that’s why it makes it onto the list.

 

Bergamot Alley:

 

My go to place for awesome old world sparkling!

My go to place for awesome old world sparkling!

Bergamot Alley is a bit different from the other wineries we have listed as it is a wine bar and not a winery.  Bergamot also does not serve any California wines, only Old World wines.  It is a great place to spend the evening especially if you are looking for some different wines and they always have fun events going on.  During summer on Tuesdays after Music in the Plaza they always have live music and on Mondays they play movies.  We saw “Caddy Shack” the other night and it was great, everyone was quoting the lines and it was just a great atmosphere.   Also Bergamot is open until 1am on the weekends and their record collection is enviable.

 

Ferrari Carano and Soda Rock Winery:

 

The Gardens at Ferrari Carano

The Gardens at Ferrari Carano

While these two wineries are not actually related, the list would not be complete without the wineries where we work.  Ferrari Carano is located in Dry Creek Valley and it looks like an Italian Villa and has some great Italian wines as well.  Alex’s favorite is the Siena which reminds us of all the amazing table wine you can get in Italy.  Soda Rock Winery is located in Alexander Valley and we specialize in Bordeaux varietals.  My personal favorites are the Cab Franc and the Petit Verdot which sadly we are almost always out of.  Soda Rock also looks like the Alamo and we have a Barn on property that is original and dates back to 1869.  Of course I ended up working somewhere historical….

 

This is what I do at Soda Rock; put on weddings

This is what I do at Soda Rock; put on weddings

 

Beer:

While we may be in Wine Country we are by no means lacking in awesome craft beers.  If you are driving to Healdsburg via San Francisco definitely consider a stop at Lagunitas in Petaluma (they have an awesome beer garden) or Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa (Especially if Pliny the Elder is on tap).  However in town we have our own local brewery and its awesome, perhaps you have heard of Bear Republic or maybe its most famous beer Racer 5?  Yup they brew it in town and they have a brewery/brew pub which is open every day.  Not only do they always have Racer 5 on tap but they also have a ton of seasonal and special beers on tap.  Alex’s favorite was the Apex but unfortunately it won’t be back on tap until next MAY!  It is always worth a stop though even without Apex on tap.  They always have at least 10 beers on tap that they brew so you will find something you love and if you can’t decide you can always get a sampler.  They also have awesome garlic fries!  Bear Republic is located just off the plaza and is set back behind Dry Creek Kitchen at the intersection of Plaza St. and Healdsburg Ave.  If you head here now they also have a lovely beer garden outside.

 

Bear Republic not only has awesome beers but they also have fantastic garlic fries

Bear Republic not only has awesome beers but they also have fantastic garlic fries and gigantic burgers

 

Where to Eat:

Healdsburg has a wealth of places to eat and to be honest they are all good.  We do have our favorites though and since this is our guide you will now find out which ones we love.

 

Lunch:

Oakville Grocery:

Love this grocery store, pick up a sandwich and a bottle of wine and sit outside by the fire

Love this grocery store, pick up a sandwich and a bottle of wine and sit outside by the fire

Oakville Grocery is more of an upscale deli with a small selection of fresh fruit and veggies and a lot of wine.  They have awesome (if slightly expensive) sandwiches and salads.  They also have pizza as well.  Alex has had their sausage pizza which was great.  It helps that the sausage was homemade too.  My personal favorite sandwich is the chicken Gruyere with melted cheese, caramelized red onions and fig jam.  Hello, so good.  Oakville Grocery is also located conveniently next to Williamsons on Matheson St.

 

Taqueria El Sombrero:

Photo courtesy of SF Gate

Photo courtesy of SF Gate

When Alex and I are feeling Mexican this is where we go.  It is a small taqueria and has all of our mexican favorites.  I particularly love the Torta with chicken, guacamole and sour cream.  Alex loves their carnitas and lengua (tongue) tacos.  They also have gigantic breakfast burritos.  These things could feed a family of four.  Taqueria El Sombrero is located on Center St.  just south of Oakville Grocery.

 

The Wurst:

The Wurst is open late and it is always tempting just to stop by...

The Wurst is open late and it is always tempting just to stop by…

The Wurst is a perfect spot if you want something equally delicious and bad for you (but in a good way).  They specialize in sausages and have all kinds.  You can choose your sausage and condiments if you like or you can get one of their combos.  The Greenbay Brat is a mouthful with caramelized onions, Liar’s Dice BBQ sauce, bacon, cheddar, and butter pickles.  They also have burgers and salads….  The burgers are fantastic but we have no experience with the salads and they have great local beers on tap if you are all wined out.  The Wurst is located on Matheson St. across the plaza from Williamson and has a great outdoor patio for enjoying the day.

If you are feeling burgers The Wurst does not disappoint, this Smash Burger was about the best I have had

If you are feeling burgers The Wurst does not disappoint, this Smash Burger was about the best I have had

 

Big Johns:

Big John's Market

Big Johns is the perfect grocery store if you are looking for picnic supplies.  They have an awesome selection of cheeses and great bread from Costeaux Bakery.  They also have an awesome deli and salad bar.  Did I mention their olive bar?  This grocery is perfect for picking up all things local just on the touch expensive side if you feel like shopping here for your everyday items.

 

Dinner: 

Baci:

 

You are looking at probably the best gnocchi al bolognese outside of Italy.  Did I mention that the sauce has short ribs in it!

You are looking at probably the best gnocchi al bolognese outside of Italy. Did I mention that the sauce has short ribs in it!

Baci is freaking amazing.  Alex has been writing a post about how much we love Baci and it will be up soon but suffice to say we are a bit of Italian food snobs and we LOVE Baci; it has the best Italian food in town, end of story.

 

Willi’s:

Oysters at Willi's

Oysters at Willi’s

Willi’s is all about small plates; delicious, delicious small plates.  They have a great raw bar that Alex is in love with and they have phenomenal fish tacos.  They also have a daily ceviche, may have converted me to like sauteed spinach, and have the best chorizo and melted cheese dip served with fritos!  Cheese dip and fritos!  Nothing else needs to be said.  (They have a phenomenal wine list too)

 

Dry Creek Kitchen:

dry-creek-kitchen-logo

Dry Creek Kitchen is one of the best restaurants in town and also probably one of the most expensive.  Alex and I have only been once; we went for his birthday dinner and we went all out.  I am talking appetizers, our main dishes and of course dessert and 2 bottles of wine.  We had this amazing bottle of ORANGE sauvignon blanc, suggested to us by the sommelier, which you may have seen on our Instagram a few months ago.  It is one of the best “white” wines I have ever had.  We also brought a bottle of Cabernet from 1990; it was a gift from a family friend of Alex for his birthday.  The appetizers we had were amazing, the smoked trout pasta, gnocchi with goat cheese and the scallops with black truffle butter were some of the best appetizers I have had in awhile.  For our main dish I had the halibut with a squid ink crust and Alex had the Char Grilled New York Steak.   This was one of the best meals I have ever had.  If you are looking for an experience head here.

 

Zin:

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

Zin is amazing.  I will admit however that I come here for the Mexican Beer Battered Green Beans.  All of their food is fantastic (especially their gumbo) but the green beans take the cake.  They come with a sauce that changes seasonally and right now they come with a mango salsa.  Their main menu also changes seasonally and specializes in local ingredients.

 

Cafe Lucia:

Cafe Lucia has some of the best Sea Bass I have ever had, especially when they have the whole fish on special

Cafe Lucia has some of the best Sea Bass I have ever had, especially when they have the whole fish on special

Cafe Lucia is our favorite Portuguese restaurant in town, well it is the only the Portuguese restaurant in town, but we still love it.  We have taken almost all of our friends and family who have come to visit here and it hasn’t disappointed.  They have a great wine list with some amazing Vinho Verde from Portugal and they also don’t charge corkage if you bring a local wine.  The appetizers at Cafe Lucia are to die for; Alex loves the whole grilled sardines and I love the scallops crusted in chorizo (Are you noticing a scallop theme?).  My absolute favorite main dish here is the whole roasted sea bass and Alex has had some amazing main dishes including the traditional Bacalhau no Forno which is a casserole of salt cod, potatoes, and olives.  Cafe Lucia is one of the friendliest restaurants in town and the fact that I can end every meal with a wonderful glass of port is a win in my book.

 

And this is their chocolate dessert plate; mousse, mint chip ice cream and souffle!  Paired with a port and I am the happiest person in the world!

And this is their chocolate dessert plate; mousse, mint chip ice cream and souffle! Paired with a port and I am the happiest person in the world!

 

Bravas:

The back patio at Bravas is the perfect place to spend the afternoon

The back patio at Bravas is the perfect place to spend the afternoon

Bravas is the sister restaurant of Willi’s and specializes in Spanish tapas.  Alex and I stopped in here for a few appetizers and some sangria and then we saw the menu….  We ended up staying for quite awhile.  We started out with some delicious, crisp Alberino white wine and some Pan Tomate.  Pan Tomate is so simple but so good, there is something so delicious about toasted bread with tomatoes rubbed on it.  We then had a goat cheese crostini with truffle honey and a reduced sherry sauce.  These two dishes alone sold me on Bravas and then we kept eating and ordering more drinks.  We finally finished off the meal with some cava sangria and toast covered in nutella with orange zest and vanilla sea salt.  These may not be the most traditional Spanish tapas you have ever had but man are they delicious.

 

Pan Tomate

Pan Tomate

This goat cheese crostini is like crack, we have to order it every time

This goat cheese crostini is like crack, we have to order it every time

 

To Do:  (Besides Wine Tasting)  There are other things to do in Healdsburg besides wine tasting and eating, although these are perfectly acceptable things to do when you are on vacation or just enjoying your weekend.  If you find yourself food and wined out however here are some of our favorite other activities.

 

“Hiking” Armstrong Woods:

 

Alex in the Redwoods next to Parson Jones one of the oldest trees in Armstrong Woods

Alex in the Redwoods next to Parson Jones one of the oldest trees in Armstrong Woods

Hiking is a bit too strong of a word to use for this walk through the woods but it is a great two hour walk through the redwoods.  If you do not feel like heading up farther north, Armstrong Woods is a great way to get in your redwood kick.  The trees are giant and there are a lot fun photo opportunities to goof off in the trees.  It is also a nice place to escape some of the summer heat.

 

Floating down the River:

The Russian River

The Russian River

Floating down the Russian River is one of the most popular activities here on the weekends even with the water level fairly low.  There are still great places where you can lounge and float down the river just don’t forget to bring some cold bottles of white wine with you!

 

Tuesdays in the Plaza:

Tuesdays in the Plaza is a great summer tradition in Healdsburg.  Basically, every Tuesday the plaza in downtown Healdsburg turns into a festival, there is live music, fantastic food stands (aka The Wurst) and you can bring your own food, beer and wine into the Plaza to enjoy all the music.  I am pretty sure the entire town comes out for music in the Plaza and space is coveted.  People even stake out their spots as early as 11am!  It is totally worth it to come by even if you end up with a spot with less than ideal views.

 

Lake Sonoma:

Lake Sonoma is a great spot for boating, fishing and you can actually kayak all the way to the ocean

Lake Sonoma is a great spot for boating, fishing and you can actually kayak all the way to the ocean

Lake Sonoma is located just outside of town, only about 10 minutes north of Ferrari Carano, and is a perfect place to spend an afternoon.  Lake Sonoma is a great spot to rent a boat or even some canoes or kayaks.  You can even kayak all the way to the Pacific Ocean from the Lake.

 

Hiking Mt. Saint Helena:

This was one of the first views we had as we climbed the mountain.  The first 1/2 hour was in the trees and then we reached the fire trail and were greeted with this view

This was one of the first views we had as we climbed the mountain. The first 1/2 hour was in the trees and then we reached the fire trail and were greeted with this view

Hiking Mt. Saint Helena is not for the faint of heart if you read our most recent post about it but it is so worth it.  Where Armstrong Woods is all about relaxing and enjoying the giant redwoods Mt. Saint Helena is all about conquering the mountain.  However the reward is stunning views of Napa, Sonoma and even the Pacific Ocean.  Mt. Saint Helena is the perfect outdoor activity to burn off all those scallops in truffle butter that you have been eating :)

 

Healdsburg is such a perfect town to experience Northern California Wine Country.  It is not nearly as crowded as Napa or even Sonoma and abounds in options of places to eat and drink.  It is also easily accessible from San Francisco (we are only an hour and a half away!) and we are only 45 minutes away from the coast.  Also we are here!  This is such a perfect town and these are just a few of our favorite places and I didn’t even mention SpoonBar which makes some of the best cocktails I have ever had!  Come visit us and explore our awesome town!

 

SpoonBar Pisco Sour, just one of their many delightfully fun cocktails

SpoonBar Pisco Sour, just one of their many delightfully fun cocktails

The Versatile Blogger Award….Again!

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We are so happy to be nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award again! Thank you to Travelling Buzz for the nomination!  We are so incredibly honored to have received another blogging award.  Maria at Travelling Buzz is a 22 year old Bulgarian who takes some pretty amazing photos of Bulgaria.  We definitely will be making a stop in Bulgaria after looking at all of her gorgeous photos!

We have decided that since we were already nominated we would give 7 more facts about us but keep our same nominees.  To see who we have nominated take a look here.

 

Now 7 more facts about Ashley and Alex:

 

1.  Ashley majored in Classical Archaeology aka Greek and Roman archaeology, which job-wise is pretty limiting but did lead to her moving to Rome.  Her favorite Roman emperor is Hadrian in case you were wondering.

Bust of Hadrian from the Capitoline Museum in Rome, Italy

Bust of Hadrian from the Capitoline Museum in Rome, Italy

Alex is a communication major only because his school did not have separate writing program.  His final thesis was writing a full length screenplay and this film experience is one of the reasons we hope to make a documentary when we head out for our Round the World trip.

2.  Alex absolutely loves Shakespeare; his dad asked him to read 5 Shakespeare tragedies in the 8th grade to see if he really wanted a paintball gun, not only did he get his paintball gun but he also now loves randomly quoting Shakespeare, which I never get.  “Nothing becomes of nothing” – apparently…

While Ashley may know nothing of Shakespeare she has an odd fascination with the English monarchs and has probably read every known historical fiction book about Queen Elizabeth and she she has seen every episode of The Tudors too.

3.  Alex originally wanted to become a herpetologist  which is a person who studies reptiles and amphibians.  Basically he wanted to be Steve Irwin and spent his childhood catching lizards.

Alex playing with the iguana at the beach bar in Rawaii

Alex playing with the iguana at the beach bar in Rawaii

Ashley originally went to college to study marine biology and then they told her she had to take chemistry, not her strongest suite.  She ended up going to Crete for the summer and thus ended up with an archaeology degree.

4.  Alex’s dream destination is Japan; all he wants to do is eat puffer fish and drink sake.  There is a reason I don’t let him go for sushi alone.

Ashley’s dream destination is Machu Picchu.  She has wanted to go since she was little and was given a mini archaeology kit from the Imaginarium, thank you Mom and Dad.

5.  We both love to collect books.  Ashley has an old collection of Nancy Drew books from her aunt; they are wonderfully old with pages falling out and moldy covers, and Alex has an impressive collection of leather bound Louis L’Amore books from his grandfather.

6.  We are absolute Disneyland fanatics.  A summer without Disneyland is a summer wasted.  We buy new ears whenever we are there; it is tradition.

Ya we are super cool

Ya we are super cool

7.  Alex recently gave me a record player and since then we have become avid record collectors, our favorite bar in Healdsburg even does all their music based off records.  Gotta love going old school!  My favorite record old record is Ella Fitzgerald and my favorite modern record is Ryan Adams (best concert ever!) and Alex’s favorite album is Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks”.

 

So there we have it, you guys got to know a little bit more about us!  Thank you Maria for nominating us and don’t forget to check out our nominees and learn a little bit more about us!

-Alex and Ashley