Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rough Travels to Istanbul

A two-connection flight half way across the world isn't always the best.  When you have a severe migraine headache and end up barfing your guts out for a good portion of it, it's really a suckfest.

Let's begin at the beginning.  I checked in to my Turkish Airways flight in Saigon about 2 hours early.  Plenty of time to get my massive luggage checked (26.5 kilos...maybe a record for me?), check in, head through security, and time to walk the terminal.  The Saigon terminal isn't really all that exciting, so I made my way to the lounge, had some water and a sandwich, and chilled out until boarding.

Trying to sleep
The flight went SGN-BKK-IST-BCN, but luckily I didn't have to get off the plane in BKK.  Uneventful flight to BKK--I managed to nap a bit.  Turkish is ok in terms of their business class.  There were only about 4 people in business on the way there.  For being awarded "best airline in Europe," I guess I expected more?  A chef came and offered sandwiches on the short flight, but I declined and opted for a short nap, instead.

Once in BKK, there was an announcement that we had a bit of a delay because they needed to re-set the entertainment system.  No big deal.  The cabin filled quickly, as it was a full flight to Istanbul.  Two very loud Germans stood by my head while I tried to sleep some more.  They weren't having it.  Then, after they fixed the a/v (which took about 30 minutes) there was a sick passenger that needed to be off-loaded.  As did his luggage.  So I tried for more sleep but the loud Germans were not having it.  More chatting.  The only people chatting.  By that time, it was almost 1am and it was getting ridiculous.  We finally had the passenger and his luggage off, then we had air traffic control issues, so it was going to be another 30 minutes.  Overall, we were 2+ hours late, which was putting my connection to Barcelona in jeopardy.  At that point, I just wanted to sleep.  That wasn't happening.  

We finally took off and service was a bit slow.  Dinner was a few courses.  I ordered a vegetarian meal, and the first course was a salad with chicken.  Uh, ok?  So I ate the salad.  And then round 2 was a very spicy curry.  Maybe the spiciest thing I've ever eaten on an airplane...and the fire in my mouth did not allow me to continue.  So I grabbed some ice cream for dessert and hit the hay.  The lie-flat was much appreciated and I got a good 5 hours of sleep.

And then I woke up.  With a migraine.  A bad one.  

So-so business class
I tried a few of my favorite remedies.  Some tylenol (didn't have my migraine formula).  Some water.  Some denial.  I tried to get some coffee, but the flight attendants didn't have any available--and needed 10 minutes.  I went back and reclined, hoping to think it away.  I tried.  And then I realized that I didn't have enough food in my stomach to have taken a few tylenol and I was going to lose whatever was in there.  I ran to the lav, and all 4 of the ones in business were occupied.  With a panicked look, I told the flight attendant I was going to be sick, and she asked me if I needed something to drink.  Apparently, I didn't look green I told her, no, I needed a toilet or a barf bag.  We went to first class, and of course, those lavs were full, too.  And then I spun around and went back to business, and there was an open lav for me to fill up with barfy times.  Awful.  A first.

When I finished, a nice flight attendant checked on me and got me some sparkling water (who doesn't have Sprite??).  I spent the rest of the flight nursing the rest of my headache and counting the minutes till landing.  And watching Office Space to distract myself.

Once I landed in Istanbul, I deplaned and right out of the jetbridge was shocked to literally see people camped out before customs.  Like camped as in "living" there.  At the airport.  Families, women, children.  Praying, playing, sitting around in a no-mans-land.  Clearly they don't have visas to get in, and they can't leave.  I was stunned.  And sad.  Are they refugees?  Women escaping a harder life somewhere else?  I still don't know.

I got through the security re-check and decided I was going to see if there was a later flight to Barcelona.  I had a little less than an hour to my flight (we had made up some time) and I went to the massive Turkish Airlines lounge.  Massive.  I didn't stay long--literally a wander around to see if they had a desk to help, and found they didn't.  I went back out and asked at the front desk, and I got a brusque "go to gate," with zero sympathy.  I wish I had more vomit in me.  He could have had it.

Delish lemon-mint
So I trudged on to the gate to Barcelona, bought a Sprite, and decided that I was just going to get on the flight.  Glad I did, as it turned out the next flight wasn't until 6 hours later.  That, and I would have missed maybe the best breakfast I've ever had on an airplane.  Shocking, but true.  For what Turkish Airlines lacks in warmth and hospitality, they make up for in custom drinks--mint lemonade, anyone?--and fabulous breakfast cheeses, breads, and eggs.  Seriously delish.

The flight to BCN went quickly.  The interior of the A321 was maybe the oldest piece of junk I've ever seen.  And very red.  Luckily it wasn't a long-haul.  I arrived in BCN without any incident, waited for my colleague who landed an hour later, and headed to the hotel to rest and relax.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Short Stay in Saigon

Luckily, I traveled to Vietnam last fall, otherwise, I would have been sad only having spent 2 super quick days there--and really only seeing the hotel.

Mangos.  Careful, they bite.
Joining the group.
Travel day was an early one.  We had to be checked out and ready at 4:45am in Bangkok.  The airport is a modern marvel, providing lots of entertainment.  From mango touching to photobombing group photos, I'm amazed at my ability to have fun so early in the morning.  The group of tourists thought my photobomb was hilarious.  So did I.  So I added a Drake to make it even funnier.

An early morning, for sure.  Sunrise just before our 1-ish hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon.  Shockingly, we even got a boxed meal on a flight that short.  Thai was efficient and friendly, and the plane had a forward facing nose camera, so it was fun to watch takeoff and landing.

Vietnam, honestly, was a bit of a blur.  We arrived in the morning and were able to check in to our hotel at the Riverside Marriott.  Like all Marriotts, it was pretty much a standard room.  Went to lunch with the team at a local place, and ended up taking a quick walk to get some fresh air.  Well, fresh with the sights and sounds of Saigon--including scooter sounds and the sweet, sweet smell of freshly made waffles.  I remember how great they were when we went last November, and we thought we'd be able to get them everywhere, but we were wrong.  Only Saigon.  So I was determined to get a few batches to bring home...the long way.  And I was successful!!  They are perfectly crisp and tasty.

The next two days were pretty much spent in the hotel conference room, but after day 1, we did manage to get out for a walk, some dinner, and an excellent, vigorous full-body massage for $29 at the Golden Lotus.  Well worth it.  A very tiny Vietnamese woman pretty much pummelled me for 90 minutes.

Playing Frogger.
It was a good few days, and of course, as soon as I was adjusted to the time zone, it was time to head off to Barcelona.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Layered Maxi Dress Travel

Layered Maxi Dress Travel

Layered Maxi Dress Travel by posinator featuring a black leather handbag

It's good to keep it simple when traveling in warm weather climates.  I wore something similar on a short flight from Bangkok to Saigon.  

Maxi Dress
A striped t-shirt dress is an excellent choice for a short flight in warm weather.  And if you're anything like me, who freezes on even the shortest of flights, some extra fabric around the legs certainly helps.  I picked up a striped version at Target, but they are everywhere and at every price point.

Denim Jacket
I hadn't had a denim jacket in ages, so glad to see they are making a comeback.  Great with a maxi, and you can add some fun details like textured sleeves to keep it modern.  I have a cropped version that seems a bit fresher than some of the old school versions, but I could go either way.

Black Sandals
Thrilled to see Birks are back--nothing simpler than a cool black slide, and hella comfy.  I know there will be haters, but when I saw the Olsen twins kicking it, I knew they were back (although they wore with socks and looked throwback 90s).  Perfect add to a maxi.

Leopard Infinity Scarf
Again, keep warm on those chilly flights.  I scored some perfect-weight leopard infinity scarves like those above at a Charming Charlies.  I tend to be pretty tough on scarves, so didn't go crazy on buying an expensive one.  Nice contrast to the stripes.

Arm Party
Don't go too crazy with an arm party, after all, you gotta get through security.  Some simple earrings finish off nicely.  Skulls are badass.

Crossbody Bag
I love being hands-free in the airport to peruse duty free, so crossbody is the way to go.  Granted, I usually also have a backpack I'm lugging around with my computer.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One night (or more) in Bangkok

A view from my room
Well, you know what they say...makes a hard man humble.  More than anything, the jet lag sure does.  After a few days of adjusting, I didn't really even get a chance to spend non-jet-lagged time in Bangkok.

Chatrium Riverside is a lovely 5-star hotel.  Essentially, you're in a suite with a mini kitchen, couch, table, and separate bedroom.  More space than I needed, for sure.  A lovely view of the river, and a pretty fantastic pool.

Relaxing at the pool
I arrived very late (or early!) and luckily there was a 7-11 on the property that was open late for snacks.  Spent some nice pool time the day before working, as it was plenty warm and humid.  I skipped any sightseeing, as the jet lag was strong and had to get ready for work.  I also managed a run in the well-equipped gym while there.  They had treadmills with built-in fans, so that was great.

We ate at the restaurant on the top floor of the hotel--a Chinese selection and we ended up with some soup and dim sum.  Solid breakfast buffet as well.  Most of the rest of the time was spent eating hotel food during work, but we did make it out two evenings.

Asiatique:  We walked there--an upscale tourist set of shops and some restaurants.  We ended up at a local place with some decent Pad Thai.

Tuk Tuk time
Khaosan Road:  After about a 40 minute taxi, we hopped out to Khaosan Road, your typical hippy backpacker joint filled with bad tie-dye shops, hammer pants, and dreadlocks.  We took a stroll and were shouted at for different foods, souvenirs, massage chairs, etc.  Landed at a pretty relaxed cafe and had more Pad Thai.  Decided to take a tuk tuk home, which was really nice considering the warm temps.  Haggled down to about $7 for the ride most of the way across town.  Granted, taxis were cheaper, but it was nice to enjoy the breeze.

Monday's elevator selfie
Tuesday's elevator selfie
Ran a 2-day meeting with the team, so balanced out the hot temps outside with the a/c freezing on the inside.  Dressing for Asia meetings can always be tricky.  Suits for colder temps and formal places, separates for others.  Although that depends on the client, too.  This one is relatively casual, so that's good.  I went with a dress and a sweater for day 1, then a bright pants/short sleeve shirt/jacket for day 2.  Worked out well, and selfies in the elevator to prove it.

Travel day to Vietnam was an early one.  We were out the door by 4:45 to catch a 7:30 flight--knowing that airport, it was the right thing to do.  I ended up trying a new travel outlet--a t-shirt maxi.  Super comfortable and great for warmer temps.  Found a great opportunity to photobomb in the airport.  Classic.

One of these things is not like the other!

Although it was a short flight to Vietnam, we still got a small meal.  That's the crazy thing about flying non-US airlines, you tend to get a bit more for your buck.  I barely had a chance to finish a cup of coffee and we were already on the descent.

A meal on a short flight.
Short flight, big plane

Saturday, March 22, 2014

En Route to Bangkok

There’s nothing like the day of a big trip.  I mean, it’s even better when it’s vacation, but I don’t even mind work trips.  Especially if they’re somewhere interesting.  And even better if it’s in business class.

Heading to SFO 
Getting carsick to SFO
I arranged a car to take me to the airport.  Sometimes it’s a hit-or-miss adventure with the drivers.  This time was for sure a miss.  He took a very random and roundabout way of getting on the highway, and then stomped on the brakes a bunch the entire drive to the airport.  I was pretty carsick by the time we got there.  You win some, you lose some.

Massive Luggage
Big Bertha Weighs In
Since I’m going for almost 2 weeks, I checked a bag.  For some reason, this bag weighed a whopping 55 lbs.  I’m not exactly sure why--I packed a pretty standard set of clothes and shoes.  Maybe an extra pair of shoes?  Some workout clothes?  But 55 lbs worth?  Whatever.  Dropped of my bag and decided to wander to the pre-check line at the domestic gates because there isn’t one in International.  It was absolutely worth the 5 minute walk to not wait in line, not take anything out of my bag, and, most importantly, not take my shoes off.  Getting Global Entry basically gives me pre-check on every flight, and it was absolutely worth it for $100 for 5 years.  It’s saved me a ton of time.

POG and cheese
I also like getting to the airport early and do some walking around the terminal.  I make a visit to duty free (and buy nada) and then get my legs moving.  Great people watching.  Since I had business class seats, I went to the United lounge for a few minutes and got a POG juice--Passion-Orange-Guava and some snacks.  That lounge is seriously always super crowded, so I tend to not stay long. 

The view from 13B
Boarding was uneventful.  I had made an extra effort to get a seat on the upper deck since I’m flying a 747.  It’s fun.  A little bouncier of a ride.  I found my seat in 13B and got settled.  It’s a backwards facing seat, so that feels weird on takeoff.  There’s a new amenity kit that is city-based and kind of a fun metal pencil-box type of kit.  Definitely a keeper. 

Japanese Selection
Since the first leg was to Japan, I tried my luck at getting the “Japanese Selection” meal--and won!  Wooo!  It’s a nice touch on UAL flights.  The meal was pretty good--certainly better than my other choices of a pork chop, chicken, or seafood stew (my second choice).  They usually are pretty limited in their Japanese meals, and it’s pretty popular, so I was actually surprised when the flight attendant brought my tray.  

The appetizers were good--small dishes.  I didn’t eat the carrots or the chicken bits.  The fish and soba were tasty, and the soup was ok--a little to strong of a seaweed flavor.  The rice was not good, but packaged in a fun wrapper.  Just enough food, not too rich, overall a good choice.  And then the dessert carts kept coming…cheese plate?  Yeah, ok.  Ice cream sundae?  Sure.  Yum.  And more green tea.  Maybe that’s why I stayed awake most of the flight?

I settled in and napped a little, but not my usual power sleep.  I ended up having more food--a hummus and pepper jack sandwich and chips--when we passed Alaska.  I’m getting back on the workouts tomorrow--even brought my exercise bands.

Tight Connection
Sadness.  No Green Tea.
We departed late, so I only have about 45 minutes or so to enjoy Narita.  That includes de-boarding, then getting through security again and mayyybe making it to my favorite ice cream vending machine.  Fingers crossed.  I suspect there are a bunch of people on this plane who are going to have to make the BKK connection, so I won’t be alone. 

Time for more food (more!!) and maybe doing some reading before landing. 

Narita to Bangkok
Thankfully, Narita is efficient--I was able to get off the plane, go through security, and get to my gate to see that (sadly!) no green tea ice cream was to be had.  Not sure why I enjoy the ice cream from the vending machine at the airport, but I do.

The flight to Bangkok was pretty uneventful.  The food wasn’t great (salmon in a weird carrot-y sauce) and I napped for most of it.  And then my biggest pet peeve on arrival--parking at a remote gate and having to bus to the main terminal…when there are plenty of jetways open!  What about bussing a 747 full of people makes sense?  At midnight.  Why?  It is seriously something I find incredibly annoying. 

On Arrival
Morning in Bangkok
Once in the terminal, it was a bit of a cluster to get through customs.  I had an “express pass” for an express lane that didn’t exist.  I tried to pick the best line, but I don’t seem to have luck with customs lines.  Once through, my bag was already there and I was on my way.  Bangkok is a bit of a sprawl, so it took a good 40 minutes to get to the hotel.

I checked into the hotel in a fog.  All I remember was friendly staff quickly whisking me up to my room, which was huge and has great views of the city.

The next morning was quiet--a chance to enjoy the breakfast buffet, get in a workout, and meet my colleagues and a client at the pool for some relaxation before meetings started in the afternoon to prep for our 2-day session.  I’ll be heads down until Tuesday night, where I hope to be able to do some exploring. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Let's talk luggage!

Let's talk luggage!

Let's talk luggage! by posinator featuring Mossimo Supply Co.

I've been contemplating a new piece of checked luggage lately.  I dragged out the big bertha suitcase I have for my 2 week trip and it's just so damn big.  And it only has 2 wheels, so there's a lot of dragging that happens and sore arm muscles.  Maybe I should work out.  Or, better yet, think about a new bag purchase.

As much as I _hate_ checking a bag, more than 2 weeks on the road for business and I pretty much have to.  Spending 600 bones on a Rimowa is probably not a decision I will make, but man, I am a sucker for a good hardside.  I do think you should spend some cash on a good, durable piece of luggage that will last a few years.  My bertha has lasted longer than expected--she was a crazy buy from Marshall's and a good value (she's a black Delsey lightweight 30"+++).

Carry on:
Let's be real, I carry on 99.9% of my trips.  And the vast majority of the time, I don't have to worry about getting my bag on the flight.  I have a slimline Briggs & Riley that's holding up nicely after 6 years of pretty regular use (it's not this exact version, but the model just before it).  Simple on the inside, just space.  Not a lot of pockets or do-dads that I don't need.  Plus, it fits nicely in the luggage sizer.  Sidenote:  it was purchased after a brutal fight with a gate agent when I was carrying on my Travel Pro, purchased at the United Employee Store.  The gate agent said it was too big and said I wasn't getting on the flight with it unless I checked it.  It had proposal materials for a $10M gig inside.  I nearly pooped myself on the flight worried that it wasn't going to make it.  I decided that was not a feeling I wanted again in my life.

What else?
I like my Timbuk2 backpack, even though I know it's not chic.  It's geek.  I can fit a chic purse inside.  I also like some good small pouches, for pencils, makeup, etc.  When heading out for a weekend in, say, Hawaii, I like a good weekender.  I've got a Le Sportsac in a fun print that's kind of huge--I'm looking for something maybe a bit smaller.  I like all 3 of these options and was really debating about the Target bag the other day, but wondered if it would fall apart.  

Still thinking about that Rimowa...maybe someday.  On sale.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Airplane Fash

Travel Outfit

Travel Outfit by posinator featuring a 3.1 phillip lim purse

We all like to be comfortable while flying, amirite?  This is pretty much my standard go-to ensemble, upscaled a bit (because I want that 3.1 phillip lim purse real bad).  

This Splendid waffle hoodie is great.  Nice and drape-y.  Not too thick, super soft.  Sometimes I pull the hood up and really get into it.  It's also good at the hotel while lounging (if there's no hotel robe).

I eventually need to bite the bullet and try an T by Alexander Wang, I just don't know how I feel about spending $80 on a basic.  I heard Everlane is good.  Sadly, I plow through white t-shirts like nobody's business--from food spills to yellow pits.  So for now, I have been buying them from Target.  I often throw an Old Navy tank under it, just because I hate the feeling of jeans buttons hitting my belly.  Weird, but true.  Maybe a long-sleeve if you get cold, but I often have to deal with temp fluctuations.

I usually wear black jeans on a trip less than 8 hours--the ones I have from Citizens for Humanity are great.  Lots of stretch.  Otherwise, I go for some Lululemon Wunder Unders.

Who don't love a black bralette under a t-shirt?  Love it.  Just enough edgy, but super comfortable without wires and that nonsense to deal with.

I recently bought a pair of black pleather high tops and they are in heavy rotation during travel--important only if you get TSA Pre-Check, like me, and don't have to deal with yanking them on/off.  Otherwise, for warm climates, non-lace slip ons.  Cold climates have me wearing my Frye Melissa Button short boots that zip off.

What else is there to say?  I usually have a backpack with me loaded to the brim with work junk, and I take a smaller-ish bag that I can tuck in if I have to consolidate.

Keep it simple.  I usually wear basic stud earrings so I can keep my headphones on comfortably.  Always have a scarf to layer up.  Maybe a fun arm party that's easy to deal with.  I never wear necklaces on flights just because they annoy me.  And if I'm sleeping, I usually get tangled.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Getting Ready for a World Tour

I'm swamped this week and getting ready to leave on Friday for a 2-week work trip (my limit in terms of time-away-from-Bob).  The itinerary is Bangkok for 3 days, Saigon for 3 days, and Barcelona for 6 days--a few of those are fun days tacked on at the end.

The packing list has started, and I headed to Target to pick up a few things.  As usual, I picked up a few more things than I needed, including 2 good travel items:  a new jewelry travel pouch and a travel toothbrush.

Perfect for all my baubles and arm party!
I am trying to be more put together, and as such, I'm traveling with more jewelry these days.  As I'm super keen on having a bunch of bracelets and making an arm party, my teenie tiny little jewelry box just wasn't cutting it for brining a bunch of bracelets.  I was a hot mess stuffing them in my suitcase this past weekend, and I think if I didn't intervene, there would be some serious loss.  Especially of my hilarious "make your own saying" bracelet which makes me chuckle.  This new pouch has a bunch of pockets and the strap on the left has spots for stud earrings.  Winning!  And a ring holder (not like I need it) on the right.  Plenty of space and it folds flat and origami-like.  Score.  Sadly, no links to buy on line, it's in the travel section.
Genius.  Swiss Army Toofbrush.

My other find is a suggestion from a friend this weekend who had a nifty Swiss Army Toothbrush from Colgate.  Why haven't I seen this before??  I guess I was just always using the freebies from the dentist, and probably not swapping out enough.  Well, this sucker is now headed to places far and away with me!

I've got to start getting my list together--it's been a little while since I've been on an extended work trip overseas.  Stuff like adapters and Imodium need to get written down or they get forgotten.  Since I know Thailand and Vietnam aren't necessarily "buy it when I get there" destinations, I just want to make sure I get it all.

I'm also contemplating a luggage refresh.  I have a perfect carry on, but no way in hell can I fit 2 weeks of business clothes in there.  My larger bag is a beast, and the wheels aren't the super smooth ones--it takes a bit of muscle to haul that thing around.  And although I know I can fill it, I kind of want something smaller.  Maybe hard-sided?  I don't know.  I sure as hell don't have the time to find it this week, sadly.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

One Week Whirlwind: Boston and San Diego

The next few weeks are going to be a bit hectic.  Well, it's not like the last one wasn't.  I just got back from a crazy girls' weekend in San Diego.  And just got back from a very quick work trip to Boston the day before.

Early morning yoga in boarding group 5


A quick trip, to say the least. My 6am United flight was earrrrly.  Some weirdo lady was doing yoga on the floor of the boarding area.  Why?

My original seat was my usual exit row aisle.  I was on a newly-refurbished A320.  No video screens and the new "leather" seats that are slim, and apparently, uncomfortable.  I didn't get a chance to enjoy because I got a lovely upgrade.  And a crap bowl of honey nut cheerios.  I hate cereal, but I am NOT complaining about being upgraded.   I got more work done than I would have, for sure.  I also napped harder.  Yay for upgrades.

New UAL econ interior.  Too Lufthansa-y.
I was with two teammates and we were staying in the middle of nowhere (Newton).  In a Marriott.  In the rain and snow.  None of that is my favorite.  They had an afternoon meeting, so I spent time in my room getting stuff done.  I was still enjoying a cold, so I ended up not even bringing workout gear and just hung out.

Dinner was at a different hotel restaurant at a steakhouse.  I cobbled together a side dish meal, including some lobster mac-n-cheese (thank you, east coast!) and hit the hay early, knowing I'd be coughing my brains out.

Our meeting the next day was a breakfast meeting in Concord.  Being a literary nerd, I was kind of digging the scene.  We drove past Emerson's house and I got real stoked.  We had breakfast at the Colonial Inn, which was old and creaky and charming as hell.  And breakfast was delish--a benedict.  Our meeting was really interesting with a very, very smart dude.  It was intense and I had to do a lot of thinking--and originally I wasn't supposed to be there, but it's a good thing I went.  Always good to have common interests to have good client conversations.  Being the resident nerd, I ended up driving a lot of the conversation, so it was good I was there.

I always feel like I should dress more formally when I go east coast.  I don't know why.  Probably the right thing to do.  I had on a dress and flat boots and a blazer, and they were all black.  I promptly changed back into my trusty Lululemon Wunder Unders at the airport.  With an amazing Target v-neck tee (buy this, seriously) and my Splendid thermal hoodie which I don't wear enough and is perfect for long flights.

Mmm.  Lobstah.
And then I was very thankful for those stretchy pants because I decided to hit up Legal Sea Food and get myself a lobster roll and fries.  How much lobster in 24 hours?  A lot.

The flight back was the Thursday consultant express--every seat full.  I had to work hard to get an aisle seat (thank GOD) and I was still in economy minus, even as a 1k.  It was a lonnnng flight.  I bought the DirecTV and watched 12 Years a Slave.  And cried like a lunatic.

San Diego:

I flew Southwest, which is unusual.  Only because it's good for short 1 hour or less jaunts in California.  I hate having to check in 24 hours in advance because I usually forget.  And even worse, I was on my flight back from Boston during the check-in time, so I asked Bob to check me in and was rewarded with A-54.  Thank god!

With TSA pre-check, life is so good.  No ridiculousness of taking stuff out or shoes off or anything.  San Jose is the best airport, too.  Quick and easy.  My friend Tina and I traveled together and plotted to get iced coffees for the trip down.  They were delish.

Where'd we stay?
Once in SD, we headed over to our hotel.  We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel.  Not my usual jam, but we got a deal through my friend Erin who works at Expedia.  We all agreed it was a hotel designed by a man.  The bathroom was kind of open plan, and there wasn't a fan.  Or a plug by the sink.  HOW DO YOU NOT HAVE AN ELECTRICAL OUTLET BY A SINK?  It was ridiculous.  The rooms were pretty dark, too.  The staff wasn't very accommodating, on multiple occasions.  The pool area was ok, we spent most of the day on Saturday there in the cabanas.

Where'd we eat?
Girlz at Urbana
Seersucker:  Dinner on Friday was great.  We shared a lot of smaller plates and the food was, as one of the girls put it, INTENSE.  Very flavorful.  Nice variety--new American cuisine, and apparently run by a Top Chef winner.  We had a giant table--not very good for chatting.  And it was hella loud with rocking club music.  Service was solid.

Cucina Urbana:  Saturday's dinner location was amazing.  Hands down the winner.  Great pastas, pizza, salads.  Really rich and tasty.  We had a more private table in the wine shop and it was easy to have a nice chat and grub.  Service got spotty at the end of the night.  Desert menu was not inspiring to me.

Lion Coffee:  A taste of Hawaii in SD.  Great acai bowl and a good variety of coffee.  Plus, they play Hawaiian music.

Lion.  Growl!  Bowl.
El Camino:  On recommendation of the guys in the shoe department at Nordstrom, we hit up El Camino on Saturday night.  Good jams.  Helped us avoid the trashy St. Paddy's block party in Gaslamp.

El Poopy Pulpo
Mariscos El Pulpo:  A yelp find, we picked it for Sunday lunch after some ladies were hankering for Mexican.  Good thing the food was good--mostly seafood options.  I had grilled fish tacos.  Service was complete shit.  One small bowl of salsa is not going to satisfy.  Come on.

Mary Jane's:  The diner in the Hard Rock has pretty good diner food.  I skipped out on late night grubbing on tater tots and went to bed.  I can speak to the omelette.  Good.  Hash browns were bomb.

Burger Lounge:  Yeah, you should go here if you like burgers.  Organic, nice choices, well done.  A great selection, fresh salads, a step up from the Counter.  They have Maine Root sodas, which I love.  And iced mint tea.  I had a salad and fries.

San Diego is fun, but I'm thinking maybe we should have gone to the beach?  Regardless, if you've got good friends around, you can make a good time out of any city.