Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lunch at Prado-Balboa Park

Gawking at architecture and stopping to smell the roses really works up an appetite. 

I had originally wanted to eat at Panama 66 when we visited Balboa Park, but it was closed for the day for a private event. We thought about eating at the Japanese Tea House, the scenery was charming, but we weren’t feeling noodles. By default, we meandered into Prado, and in the end we were happy that we did.

Our heads turned in every direction as we settled into our booth.  There was quirky, eye pleasing artistry everywhere we looked. The colorful ceiling, the strange antler stand that held blown glass frisbees, even the lights had an air of deliberate design.

We found ourselves overwhelmed by the menu. Everything sounded so good.

We were greeted by our genuinely friendly waiter who set dishes of hummus and flat-bread before us.

The hummus and flat-bread were so yummy we had to pace ourselves so we didn’t inhale it all in the first few minutes.

For my meal, I ordered the Marinated Skirt Steak Panini. Served on a garlic-shallot roll, it contained marinated skirt steak, fried tomatoes, horseradish cheese, field greens, and chimichurri sauce. It probably should have come with a breath mint, but it did come with homemade yucca chips.  

The chips were tasty, a little puffier and less greasy than potato chips.  As my side dish I got the chorizo-charro beans.  They were smoky, a tiny bit spicy, and oh so good.  I probably could have gobbled up two or three more bowls. 

Shannon got the Deliful sandwich. Roasted bison, pastrami, turkey, bacon, pickles, sprouts, tomatoes, whole grain mustard on malted brown bread. It was a lot of meat.

 Shannon said it was yummy. His sandwich came with french fries, and he agreed that the beans were delicious.

There is just something delightful about the first- full- day- in –a- new- place lunch, and the wonder of an entire week stretched out before you.  We took our time eating, no need to be in a hurry, no place we absolutely had to be.  We discussed our itinerary for the next few days and kept exclaiming things like,

“We’re in California!”

“We’re on our trip!”

“We’re eating lunch in Balboa Park!”

“We don’t have to go to work on Monday!”

Though the desserts were tempting, I had my sights set on a specific ice cream treat at the ballpark, so with fortified energy, we exited our booth, and continued our wander around Balboa Park.

If you ever find yourself in Balboa Park, give Prado a try.  It’s a lovely little escape inside a lovely escape. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Balboa Park-San Diego

It is absolutely possible to visit San Diego and spend an entire week just at Balboa Park.

It is filled with a plethora of museums, gardens, walking paths, and theaters.

If you need to get off of your feet, there are plenty of places to relax with a cup of coffee or a cool drink.

The architecture is breathtaking.

It is an amazing, marvelous park.  Unfortunately we did not have a week to explore it, we had exactly one day (if you don't count the zoo which we did reserve a separate day for). 

Since the weather was being cooperative and lovely, we skipped the indoor activities and toured as many of the gardens and outdoor paths as we could.

Some of the trees were quite impressive.

I was the most excited about seeing the Botanical Building.

Built in 1925, the wooden structure, located at the end of a large reflecting pool, is a stunning sight to behold. It's one of those sights where you stop for a moment just to take it all in and say to yourself, I'm seeing this, for real, in person. A picture cannot do it justice.

Though it was not the largest botanical building/conservatory that I have seen, it was still fun, smelling flowers, touching herbs, gaping at the trees and rounded ceiling. 

The many varieties of orchids were especially pretty.

I'm not sure why, but we have a track record of running into hordes of sorority girls when we are on trips. At least Shannon didn't have to take any pictures this time around.

We did step into one small art museum since it was small, free (though they do ask for a donation), and boasted having a Vermeer on loan.  

We both appreciate Vermeer's art. His attention to detail and use of light, work together to create remarkable paintings.  If you've never seen the documentary Timothy's Vermeer, I highly recommend it, it's fascinating.

The painting was wonderful, and I'm glad we were lucky enough to see it in person. 

For most of the day we just wandered about, waiting to see what we would stumble upon.

We sat down and listened to a high school jazz band play a couple of tunes at the Organ Pavilion.

We were at the park on a Saturday, so there was a hearty amount of hustle and bustle.  There were several wedding parties walking about, getting artsy pictures taken.  There were also a few girls having quinceanera portraits done.

I loved watching them trying to traverse the paths in their giant fluffy dresses.

Before leaving, we checked out where the zoo was located, that way we would know exactly where it was when we returned at the end of the week. We discovered the Carousel, 

and the train.

The train driver looked so happy, I started wondering how one applies to be the train driver at Balboa Park. I think I could handle a job like that, and you get to wear a nifty conductor hat. 

We had a memorable day at Balboa Park.  Our only regret was that we didn't have more time to visit a few of the museums and climb the bell tower. It is an impressive city park and is a must see if you're planning a San Diego trip. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Welk Resort is my Cup of Dish

The Welk Resort? Is that somehow related to Lawrence Welk, you might ask. Why yes, yes it is.

Like Walt Disney, musician and band leader Lawrence Welk valued family togetherness time, but instead of building a theme park like Mr. Disney, Mr. Welk built a family resort in Escondido, California.  

The resort is huge. It is split up into five different areas, Villas on the Greens, Melody Hill, Broadway Hill, Harmony Hill, and Mountain Villas. Each section has its own vibe, its own pool, and its own recreation center.

There is a "downtown" main area to the resort that includes a couple of stores, a mini-Starbucks, a Pizza Hut, and the resort's restaurant, the Canyon Grill.

There is a theater where guests can enjoy a Broadway show or an illusionist show.  There is a golf course and tennis courts for those who crave sports.

On the whole, the resort has a very Kellerman's from Dirty Dancing feel.I tried to keep a lookout for Johnny and Penny.  There is an entire range of activities scheduled throughout each day.  For kids there are games by the pool and even a film shooting and editing class. Adults can taste wine and fondue in the afternoons. There is a farmer's market on Mondays, dancing under the starts on Tuesdays, a family scavenger on Thursdays.  There is no need to leave the resort, you could spend a whole week there and have plenty keep you occupied.

A week of good old fashioned family fun was not our goal however. We used the resort as our base camp so we didn't partake of the activities, though I do regret missing the farmer's market because it sounded impressive.

Our suite was located in the Mountain Villa's section.  

Although we didn't visit all of the sections at the resort, I think we lucked out. The Mountain Villa's seemed to be the nicest section.  It was at the edge of the property, away from the hustle and bustle of the busy resort. Our room had a balcony that offered some great views. 

We were across the parking lot from the pool and recreation area in our section, which made walking back from the pool area late at night convenient. 

We were usually out and about during the days, and the chilly mountain air was not conducive to swimming at night, but we did use the hot tub as much as we could.

Our suite was clean and had ample room.  There was a kitchen, living room, and dinning room area.

The bed was super comfy, a bonus as we spent most of our days being physically active. There's nothing like falling into a cozy bed after a full day walking.

The bathroom was large, clean, and had a wonderful shower.

The biggest downside to the resort is its location.  It isn't close to any major attractions.  It is a 45 minute drive to San Diego so you have to plan and pack up before setting out for the day.  If you forget something, like a camera, you can't just nip back to resort for a minute. At the end of a long day, you still have to drive back to the resort.  In some ways however, the distance is also an upside.  The grounds are lovely and peaceful. 

After a day of dealing with attractions and crowds, it was nice to come back and chill out in the hot tub, breathing fresh air, listening to the sound of chirping crickets mixed with the sounds of bubbling water. It induced an instant feeling of relaxation.

We were grateful to Mr. Welk for creating such a beautiful resort.  I think his objective of creating a place that encourages togetherness has been achieved. We certainly had a gret time there together. It was lovely, quiet, and relaxing, all of the things that are exactly my cup of dish.

Extra Note: If you don't quite get the title of this post, google Welkims. They are a pretty good time.