Tag Archives: Shopping

Fife Coastal Path – Scotland

19 Oct

You have got to go here…Fife Coastal Path – Scotland

Enjoying the North Sea!

I love love love when I set out on one adventure and discover a totally different one along the way. On a picturesque misty Scottish morning I set out to St. Andrews on the Fife Coastal Path to see some sites that were significant to my family’s history (my relative was burned at the stake you know!)

Family History

OK, lets start with my first (and planned) adventure.  I know you have all probably heard of the Old Course, but St. Andrews is so much more. What a beautiful city it is  – full of historic ruins at both St. Andrews Cathedral and St. Andrews Castle, home to St. Andrews University (where I hear a famous royal couple met), has a plethora of fantastic shopping and streets lined with welcoming B&B’s as far as the eye can see.

In addition to all of the awesome things I just mentioned, I discovered the best gelato ever!!! OK I actually stalked it.  While planning my trip I came across a post (always keep lists about places you want to visit as you never know when you may get to experience them in person) about Jannettas and I knew that when I made it to St. Andrews it would be my first stop – and it was!  I was in heaven…so creamy and tasty.  I could have stayed there all day tasting every flavor.

YUMMO!

After spending several hours exploring this quaint town, I switched gears and went in search of a little fishing village named Anstruther.  We had taken a tour of the highlands in Scotland a day earlier with rabbies and our guide gave us a tip to where the best fish and chips in all of Scotland were.  How can you pass up trying them?

The drive to get there was an unexpected surprise.  I passed fields of lush green grass, set eyes on amazing views of the North Sea and came upon towns that looked like they were straight out of the fairytale.  I wish that I could have visited more places along this coastal path, but I only had time for fish and chips!

Alas, the Anstruther turnoff was upon me and I was excited.  Things to know: there was plenty of parking and it is seriously a block long – but this town has way more quality than quantity!  OK, side tracked, back to Scotland’s best fish and chips…you can’t miss Anstruther Fish Bar.

Here fishy fishy!Award Winning!

What a cute fun place!  First you have two options – take out or dine in…you chose.  We ate inside, but would have also enjoyed eating on a bench facing the sea.

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Now another decision…what to eat!  While there is much to choose from – you have to at least try the world famous fish and chips. AND let me just tell you how great they were…my husband who hates fish loved them.  They were super crispy, but moist inside and so tasty!  OH and another tip – try the mushy peas!

FISH!

Marky likes it!MenuMushy Peas Please!

Don’t just eat and run either! Anstruther is also full of shops and lots of places to explore.  I forgot to mention one more important thing…the people are so so friendly!

The purpose of this blog is to encourage you to stray from your plans as you never know what treats are to be had.  I had my mind set on on St. Andrews – tunnel vision almost, but I am glad I took the advice to go get fish and chips or I would have never discovered Anstruther (which turned out to be one of my favorite places in Scotland.)

If you are looking to scape the crowds and tourists in Edinburgh, do yourself a favor and escape to the coast for some peace and serenity.

So peaceful!

I can’t wait to return to the Fife Coastal Path and find more hidden gems.

Happy Fish and Chipping,

Crystal

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Portobello Rd. Market – Notting Hill, London

12 Oct

You have got to go here…Portobello Rd. Market – Notting Hill, London Do you ever plan on visiting something just to check it out and then are completly blown away by what you discover?  Well, that is exactly what happened to me when I took my first steps into the Portobello Rd. Market.  I will foerver be thankful to the Londoner who told us about this spot! (Which brings up a good point.  If you want to truly find the great spots in the city – talk to the locals!) Follow the signs... The market is located within walking distance from the Notting Hill Gate underground station.  Just follow the signs…you can’t miss them! Notting Hill Gate One of the coolest things aobut this market is the energy.  The flow of people heading towards this gem was amazing…it just felt like everyone was happy to be outside together enjoying the sunshine (we were lucky enough to get some.)  As I turned the final corner on my way to the market all I could see were beautiful brightly-colored buildings and vendors for miles. OMG look at everything!Artsy Train...Thank goodness for the signs! We went on a Saturday (the market is open every day but Sunday and different goods are sold on certain days) so the streets were full of antiques, new goods, produce and my favorite FOOD!  The smells were intoxicating and my taste buds were so happy that they got to sample some of the freshest food I have ever eaten. No matter what you are craving they have it here! Fresh ProduceTreats for all. Donuts!!! Best Bruschetta EVER! As I kept wandering I discovered more markets down little alley ways that were full of more food, more goods and music.  Do yourself a favor and take it all in, see it all – you never know what you might find! And…since you’re already here, why not explore Notting Hill a little more?  It is full of history, there are tons of cool things to do and I am not sure if you know but a pretty famous movie was filmed here so feel free to scope out the locations it was shot at (lol)! George Orwell Whatever you decide to do, I highly recommend hitting the streets at the Portobello Rd. Market.  It is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and really get the feeling of what it would be like if you were lucky enough for this to be your local market. Happy Portobello Roading, Crystal P.S. – Bring cash!

The City of York – York, United Kingdom

21 Sep

You have got to go here…The City of York – York, United Kingdom.

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I knew nothing of the city of York when my tour operator (who thankfully for me specialized is a UK Destination Specialist) Across the Pond Vacations suggested it as somewhere to visit on our first trip to the United Kingdom.  Being the type of person who likes to find hidden gems and get advice from locals, I didn’t do too much research in regards to what to see.  This was both good and bad.  Had I known how much awesomeness there was I would have stayed longer.  BUT our favorite things about York turned out to be places that were suggested to us by our innkeeper.

So, I am going to fill you in on my favorite spots, but of course I won’t tell you about everything…you need to go and discover new things too!

Let’s start with where we stayed.  I am sure that there are many lovely places to stay, but I am not sure that you could get better hospitality than what I received at the Alcuin Lodge. Darren was such a great host.  He met us personally when we arrived and spent time giving us tips on what to do in the short amount of time we had to explore.  Just an fyi – every amazing place in this blog was as a result of a Darren giving us the inside tip.  (I know what you are thinking…he is probably just referring you to the touristy places.  This was not the case, most of the spots he sent us to where off-the-beaten path and places he frequents as a local.)  Not only did we love Darren, but we loved the lodge too!  Super clean, very modern for being such an old home and we had an amazing breakfast cooked for us the next morning.

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While the lodge ins’t inside the city walls, it is just a short and beautiful walk through an historic neighborhood, ancient ruins and a magnificent park to get you to the city center.

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OK, so we literally had 24hrs in York and if I had to do it all over I would visit these four places again:

1. York Cocoa House

Really Chocolate??? Yes, really!  York has a history rich in Chocolate so I had to try some of the goods.  The trip here was well worth it.  I had the best hot cocoa and chocolate milk that I have ever had in my entire life.  Don’t judge me, yes…I went twice in 24hrs!  No pre-packaged mix here, only fresh real chocolate went into these drinks.

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2. National Railway Museum

I have been to several train museums in the United States, but nothing like this.  It is huge and full of so many amazing train cars and history.  OH and it is FREE!!! Donations however are accepted if you feel so inclined!  I highly suggest you pay the small fee and ride on a steam train like we did. In no way is this museum just for kids either, there is plenty of things for the whole family!

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3. The York City Walls

I don’t know about you, but this was the first time I walked on something built by the Romans and I was so excited.  These walls line the outside of the city center (only some portions still exist so get a map when you arrive) and are FREE to roam and offer a lovely view of the city.  You know by now that I am big kid, and there was truly something magical about taking the same steps that ancient soldiers took as well.

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4. Trembling Madness

What is Trembling Madness you ask?  Only the best pub I visited while on my trip to the U.K.  Located above a unique and very expansive liquor store sits a small and intimate pub that serves delicious food and drinks.  The ambiance is fantastic; I really felt like I stepped back in time.  This is the perfect place to meet locals and relax.  I also have to thank Trembling Madness for introducing me to the most yummy cider my lips have ever touched.

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Believe me when I say that these few places I visited are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things to see and do in York.  I didn’t even touch on the Abbey destroyed by Henry VIII, the boat trip and the amazing shopping.  Do yourself a favor and make York part of your trip if you are ever in the U.K.

Happy Yorking,

Crystal

Little Italy Mercato – San Diego, Calif.

11 Nov

You have got to go here…Little Italy Mercato, San Diego, Calif.

Who doesn’t love a good farmers market?  I am here to tell you that in my opinion the Little Italy Mercato is the best farmers market I have been to in Southern California…

…and here’s why (in no particular order)…

Best view! Located just a few blocks from the ocean, it is blessed with an amazing spot to call home.

Samples!  Come hungry because there are tons (more than I have ever seen) of amazing fresh samples to delight in.

Local Products!  I know this may be obvious – but the variety is top-notch and so unique.

Music!  What a pleasant way to shop while listening to the sweet sounds of local artists.

Fresh fruits and veggies!  I would not be doing the market justice if I left out that fact that of course they also have hundreds of different fresh fruits, flowers and veggies to offer shoppers.

Fun (my favorite part)!  This market provides a perfect way to spend a day doing something fun with your friends and family.

With over four city blocks of fresh product, the Little Italy Mercato is somewhere you have got to go.  So, next Saturday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., grab your besties and head to San Diego.  May I suggest making a day of it?

Happy Mercatoing,

Crystal

El Paca Pastures – Ojai, Calif.

3 Sep

You have got to go here…El Paca Pastures – Ojai, Calif.

Looking for something new to do?  Why not visit an Alpaca farm?

Located just a few minutes from beautiful Ojai, El Paca Pastures is a family run Alpaca farm that is a pure delight for any animal lover!

Upon arrival you can’t help but be drawn to the Alpacas and their guard Llama – yes, you heard me right!

Not only were the animals super friendly (I got to pet one and was so excited), but the family who runs an owns the farm were as well.  They took the time to give us a tour of the farm and taught us all there was to know about these beautiful creatures.  I asked question upon question and they were always happy to answer them.

My favorite part of the day was taking photographs of the Alpacas, they were so majestic and made for a great subject.  After hundreds of shots I was able to something else that I love…SHOP!

The Ranch store has hundreds of products to choose from.  Everything from scarves to purses to socks to toys.  I never realized how soft their fur was.  This is a great place to find a unique and one-of-a-kind gift.  There is something for everyone!

I love to find hidden gems and this is one of them…I mean how many people can say that they have been to an Alpaca farm?

A few other things about this destination – it s FREE to visit and the family who owns it seems to truly love what they do and that makes me happy and want to support them.

So, if you find yourself in the Ojai I highly suggest you stop over to El Paca Pastures and pay them a visit.

Happy Alpacaing,

Crystal

P.S. – Don’t forget to ask them what the name of all the animals are!  Can you figure out what they all have in common?

Tom’s Farms – Corona, Calif.

1 Aug

You have got to go here…Tom’s Farms – Corona, Calif.

Need a romantic date idea or just something fun to do with the whole family?  Well, look no further than Tom’s Farms in Corona, Calif.

Don’t let the name fool you, there is so much more to be discovered than just food.  Since 1971 this family destination has been pleasing all who enter its doors.

You will enjoy Tom’s Farms if…

…you love to eat!

With restaurants, snack stands and ample space to picnic after you grab some yummy delights from the Wine and Cheese Shop – there is something for everyones taste buds!

Fresh Salsa!

…you love fresh food!

Tom’s Farms has a produce market, wine and cheese shop, sweet shop , and a gourmet popcorn /fudge factory.  With thousands of local products from strawberries, to jams, to breads, to dried fruits, to cheese, to wine – you get the picture – you are sure to leave with your arms full!

…you love to shop!

No, I’m not just talking about food.  A huge home store filled with hand-crafted furniture, art and country goods is also located on the property.

…you like to have fun!

There are attractions for both kids big and small.  Trains, mining, magic, tractor rides, photo opportunities…the list goes on and on!

…you like to spend the day getting away from it all.

The thing I like best about Tom’s Farms is that it feels like you are out in the country, in a small town, where there isn’t a big city for miles……………

Happy Farming,

Crystal

Hold on, I’m not done yet.  Located just a few miles from Tom’s Farms is a hidden oasis – Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa.

You will only like it here if you enjoy relaxing.  The price of admission includes usage of numerous pools, saunas, mud baths, exercise classes, and yoga just to name a few.  If you have a whole day,  plan on visiting both places – you won’t be disappointed!

the oc mart Mix – Costa Mesa, Calif.

2 Jul

You have got to go here…the oc mart Mix – Costa Mesa, Calif.

Are you looking for a fun place to hang out, relax, eat, drink, shop and be merry?  Well look no further than the oc mart Mix.

Located off the 405 freeway (you can’t miss it), and open seven days a week (hours vary) – the oc mart Mix has something for everyone…so park your car, walk through the welcoming double doors into a vast open space and prepared to wowed!

Are you hungry?  Why not grab a gourmet sandwich from The Cheese Shop or a simply divine s’mores bar from the Portola Coffee Lab (who also makes FABULOUS coffee and iced tea)?

Not hungry, just want to relax?  No problem – there are tons of outdoor and indoor spaces for you to read, write, socialize or just sit and enjoy the moment.  They also have free Wi-Fi!

Not interested in sitting down?  Dozens of one-of-a-kind shops for you to browse through at your finger tips.  Everything from the Savory Spice Shop, where you can get handmade spices, to the funky and adorable clothing store Deer Lovely.

Don’t have much time and just want to have a drink and unwind after work? Well, the We Olive and Wine Bar is just for you!  Gourmet olive oils, tempting wines and tapas OH MY!

So there couldn’t possible be any thing left to do right?  Incorrect!  Eclectic events are offered as well (like a farmers market every Saturday), so make sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter for the latest and greatest!

In addition to the many options and cool vibe that surrounds the oc mart Mix – I love the people.  I am a frequent visitor and all the shop owners I have encountered have been super friendly and helpful!  It makes me so happy to have a space so unique that is full of business owners who appreciate your patronage.

Happy Mixing,

Crystal