Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Solo Tripping in Belize - Day 5

Looking back at my hotel from the end of the pier. 
This was my yummy last meal in Belize of huevos rancheros and fresh pineapple juice.
Since I had purchased a round-trip ticket ahead of time, there was no other way to get back to the international airport than to climb aboard this tiny plane again.
It did provide some pretty cool aerial views of the islands...
...and the coral reef.
Couldn't help it, one more!
Finished out the last bit of my trip with an airport beer - local brewery stout, of course.

See you out in the world again soon!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Solo Tripping in Belize - Days 3 + 4

Y'all, this breakfast burrito and fresh watermelon juice were so delicious that I gobbled them up. I had asked to make sure there was no meat or animal fat in the beans but it must have been in the tortilla or something because I was very ill immediately following my meal (sorry, TMI?).
Luckily, I had a pretty laid back day planned and hung out reading by the pool for half the day, while watching these two German Shepherds play together.
Most people on the island use a golf cart to get around. I had booked some yoga classes and spa appointments that were way too far to walk to, so I rented my own for 24 hours.
I drove about a half hour to get to this beautiful yoga studio, Science & Soul Yoga, which is located inside this fancy real estate development called Mahogany Bay Village. The drive was a bit stressful, as my only other experience driving a golf cart was at an outdoor plant nursery, but it was a nice way to see more of the island.
I signed up for a beginner aerial yoga class, which I have always wanted to try. There were only two of us in the class. The other person wasn't really comfortable doing the moves, so she sat out mostly (and I recruited her into taking a photo of me; too bad she didn't get the next pose where I tipped forward from here!). The class was really fun and I basically had a private lesson for $20! 
The next morning, I drove to the other end of the island to another yoga class. I drove by this little outdoor food market and turned around to take a picture of this colorful shipping container.
Ak'BoL's entrance was so natural looking that I accidentally drove by it the first time. I drove my golf cart down a jungle path to the yoga retreat center.
While I waited on my class to start, I sipped on a freshly made papaya juice (I watched them cut up the fruit - yum!). I walked to the beach and spotted this guy sunning on the bridge.
Relaxing in a hammock before class started, with the second outdoor classroom in the distance, just to the left of the tree I was swinging on. There was a yoga retreat in session or we would've had our class out there on the water.
This is where our two-hour ashtanga class took place, with our mats in a circle and the instructor in the middle. I had no idea it was two hours long, so I actually had to duck out early to drive to the other end of the island for some spa time (I know, rough life).
If I ever go back to Belize, I am going to stay at Victoria House. In addition to having a beautiful spa, it also has an amazing restaurant, beachfront, pool, hotel and is super quiet. I really liked where I stayed, but it was on the party-end of the island with lots of bars and foot traffic - which as a solo traveler, I wasn't really in the market for.
After a Reiki massage (which enjoyed but the whole time I was trying to figure out if I actually felt anything) and a pedicure, I headed to lunch on the beach. The Spanish snapper ceviche was to die for, and the French 75, mojito, and grilled cheese w/fries rounded out my double lunch. It was by far the best food I had on vacation and figured I should just go for it.
The landscaping was also gorgeous, like this giant hibiscus. I enjoyed walking around the grounds before heading back to my hotel to drop off my golf cart and relax for the rest of the night reading my second whole book of the trip. One more day to go!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Solo Tripping in Belize - Days 1 + 2

I spent five days this week in Belize. (When I realize that I have vacation time, airline miles, and money saved, watch out!) I stayed on Ambergris Caye (a quick 15-minute flight from Belize City on a tiny 10-seater airplane, yikes!) at Caye Casa. This was the view outside my door. The hotel was super cute, clean and the staff were very friendly and helpful.
I got a tip from someone that Sandy Toes Beach Bar & Grill had the best ceviche in San Pedro, and they were not wrong! I had the shrimp ceviche and it was delicious and peppery.
The next morning, I walked to find some coffee and boarded the YOLO for a snorkeling adventure to Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley and a trip to Caye Caulker with Island Dream Tours. It was a bit stormy but we were in the water most of the day, so it didn't slow us down. Belize is home to part of the second largest coral reef system in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (560 miles long). The tour had GoPro cameras, so if the pictures turned out, I'll share some of those next week. On our snorkel, we saw nurse sharks (some over 14 feet long), barracuda, loggerhead turtles, stingrays, lots of colorful fish, coral, and an eel.
We docked at Caye Caulker (about two hours by boat away from Ambergris Caye) and explored the island for a couple of hours.
I walked up and down the dirt roads and came across a hostel/hotel with this adorable mailbox.
The Green Lizard Juice is famous and found only at The Lazy Lizard. I just tried a sip of this one, it wasn't too bad. The woman serving it at the bar said she didn't even know what was in it. A Google search only gave up that it's like a Long Island Iced Tea, and not to drink too many of them.
After a fun cruise back to our island, complete with music, drinks, and dancing, I headed back to my room for a shower and then out for some dinner. I tried the lobster poppers, along with the local stout. They were good, although I will never get used to non-Maine lobsters (sorry rock lobsters!).

Everyone I talked to sitting at the bar was very friendly. People liked to ask where I was from (I like to just say the middle of the U.S.), how I was liking Belize (good so far), how many times I'd been (first time), and seemed surprised that I was traveling alone (although it's not that uncommon, is it?). I told them that the best part is doing exactly what you want, whenever you want. That seems to clear up any confusion. The adventure continues tomorrow!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Fine Dining in Portland

When I was in Portland in December we barely missed the reopening of Roe in its new location downtown. Luckily, my awesome co-worker remembered that Lindsey and I had wanted to go experience the pescatarian tasting menu and made a reservation for the three of us. It was even better than I was hoping it would be. When you walked through the door, you felt like you had entered the spot in a spa where you sip fruity water in your robe (although in this case, there weren't any robes). 
We were given some dashi broth with lemon oil to sip on and get our palates ready for what was to come. We also had some delicious cocktails and a bottle of amazing rosé but I was too focused on the food to snap any photos of those. Also, the staff were amazing - super friendly and very knowledgable about everything on the menu.
Course 1: Hamachi sashimi with potato threads, avocado emulsion, and aged brown rice ponzu. (I seriously had to control myself from licking the bowl at the end.)
I am such a bread girl - especially delicious fresh bread with fancy unsalted local butter and three kinds of house infused salts to add - dashi, citrus, and anise. Simply perfect - and all the refills throughout the meal!!
Course 2: "Ham and peas" - cold smoked, poached nairagi with herb-pea gazpacho and radish. Amazing! 
Course 3: Mero sea bass pan seared with lemon, "mirepoix," and buttermilk dashi veloute
Course 4: Strawberry - strawberry sorbet, milk crumble, strawberry schmear, and strawberry dust. A dream in a dish.
We ended the meal on a sweet note with these tiny raspberry macarons. *mwah*

A truly incredible meal with friends. I will definitely be back!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Pigging Out in Portland

As per usual, I was on the road again this week. This time in Portland, OR for work. This is the perfect month to visit (I was there in December and it was less than cheery with the freezing rain and wind.) After a solid day of working with my colleagues, we headed to the only soft serve version of the famed Salt & Straw family, Wiz Bang Bar. All three of us ordered the Rhubarb Anise Crumble mini-sundaes.
It was a big hit with all of us - Lindsey and me (and Mehan, taking the photo).
We then headed to the Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library for a cocktail. It was a bit dark (so pardon the less than crystal clear resolution above), but I wanted you to see how giant the selection of spirits is. After placing your order, the bartender gathers up the ingredients for your drinks using the ladders on the wall, stocks a wooden drink cart, and wheels it to your seat to make it front of you.
I had this delicious Amburana Sour - avua amburana cachaça, lemon, lime, cane, egg white.
We then went to another bar to meet up with some current and past colleagues before heading to dinner with them at the Mediterranean Exploration Company for dinner. As you can see, it was a feast of epic proportions. I had the grilled artichoke (with tzatziki, brown butter, and grilled lemon), the salmon carpaccio (with dukkah, dill, and lemon), lots of the Israeli pita, and a baklava. I also sampled some of the hummus someone else had ordered and it was to die for!
After our second solid day of getting work done, we walked to Salt & Straw on 23rd Avenue. After many samples, I landed on the honey lavender on a giant homemade waffle cone. 
During my lunch break, I bought these beautiful, locally crafted hiking boots from Danner - I can't wait to break them in on our trip to Iceland in September!
As you might know if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, my co-workers and I try to do something active together. We had a great time at The Grinning Yogi - I would highly recommend checking out a class with Jamie if you're in town.

Okay, that's the first day and three quarters. Our final meal was so epic, I'm giving it it's own post tomorrow. Stay tuned!