Florence is an amazing city and it continually surprised me around every corner. First it was the grandeur of the Duomo, next it was walking through the Uffizi and Accademia museums and then finally arriving at the Piazza Michelangelo at the perfect time to watch the sun set over this beautiful city. Of course my favorite part of Italy was the delicious fresh pastas and house wines at every restaurant we visited.
Highlights from Florence:
I definitely recommend walking the 400ish steps up to the top of the Duomo as the view from the top is spectactular. We did have to wait in a short line but it is definitely worth it!
At the end of the second day we stumbled upon Piazza Michelangelo at just the right time to catch the sunset over the city. This was a spectacular view of the city and the sunset made it even better.
Piazza Michelangelo, Florence, Italy.
Although I didn’t have time to enjoy any of the vegan restaurants I was surprised to find that Florence was fairly vegan friendly. I stumbled upon quite a few vegan/vegetarian restaurants which made me love the city even more.
My summer travels through Europe have begun and I am loving every minute of it! The first country we hit was España and I must say it is quite a different experience being in Spain since I studied abroad in college. Madrid felt the same but Barcelona blew me away. Maybe it was the beautiful summer weather and the location of our hostel but I am now having dreams of living in Barcelona sometime in the future. I’m very glad I’ll be back there again to visit other friends on my trip.
Ensalada Italiana, Quinoa, Travessera de Gracia, 203
One of the best things about Barcelona was an amazing restaurant I discovered through that handy Yelp app. It’s called Quinoa and they have vegan and vegetarian options including an all vegan dessert menu! Spain is full of rich and heavy foods so to find this charming hole in the wall that had the most amazing salad I had ever eaten (at least that is what I told the waiter in Spanish after I ate it) was like finding a diamond in the rough! I highly recommend this place for vegans and vegetarians looking for something different, light and healthy while in the beautiful neighborhood of Gracia in Barcelona.
The hostel we stayed in was fabulous as well. They had a lovely outdoor terrace that I enjoyed each morning with my tea and avocado toast. And although I am not sure how I missed it on my first trip, Park Guell is a must see attraction. Adiós Barcelona y Buongiorno Firenze!
Casa Gracia Hostel, Barcelona
Park Guell, Barcelona
View of the city from Park Guell, Barcelona
Had a splendid evening yesterday checking out Swami’s State Beach and Peace Pies for dinner in the quaint town of Encinitas just north of San Diego. Swami’s beach was beautiful with lots of surfers out and some nice packed sand that I started to dream about doing some early morning yoga on. Peace Pies blew my mind with their pesto stuffed tomatoes. The pesto was thick and flavorful, a recipe I will have to try and replicate sometime soon. For my entree I had the Mystical Mushroom Quesadilla which was also delicious. Their spicy salsa and fresh guacamole are definitely what hit the spot. Both the beach and the restaurant I highly recommend for a nice quiet evening in Encinitas. Looking forward to seeing what else Encinitas and North County have to offer.
Peace Pies, Encinitas, California
Peace Pies, Encinitas, California
Pesto Stuffed Tomates
Venice Canals, Venice Beach
Although I am a self-proclaimed hater of Los Angeles (the traffic drives me insane) I did enjoy a wonderful Saturday afternoon in the neighborhoods of Studio City and Venice Beach. First stop was Le Pain Quotidien on Venutra Boulevard which had a plethora of beautiful pastries (even vegan options!) and a delicious variety of bread with fresh and flavorful jams. The restaurant has an adorable ambiance with quite a few vegan and vegetarian options for breakfast and lunch making it a place I would definitely return to if I lived close by.
Vegan Blueberry Muffin – would return to try this
Vegan Carrot Cake – tried and loved
Freshly Baked Bread (different varieties) – could eat every day!
Later in the day my sister and I explored the Venice Canals, a wonderful hidden gem in Los Angeles. Then we got a refreshing ice tea at the Toms Cafe at their flagship store on Abbot Kinney before a quick but mouth-watering bite to eat at Seed Kitchen vegan restaurant on Pacific Avenue. This place is located close to the boardwalk so the outdoor seating offers plenty of great people of watching. It may not be the prettiest city I’ve ever been to, but the food does keep me coming back every so often.
San Felipe Tacos (Fried Zucchini), Seeds Kitchen, Venice Beach
Although skeptical about my long weekend to Texas, the city of Dallas was not half bad. Of course having my vegan partner in crime to hang with all weekend is probably what made it so amazing! A few highlights from the weekend:
A delicious Thai restaurant to start off our Saturday…gracaias a Noodle Wave.
Noodle Wave Dallas, Texas
We also found a great coffee shop in Uptown and spent Sunday afternoon being dorks and grading papers together now that we are both teachers. 🙂 A very cute comfortable spot to do some afternoon reading.
And finally a VEGAN DINER IN TEXAS you say!?!? Yes, and they have absolutely amazing food! The vegan breakfast quesadilla was mind blowing, and even the non vegans who came with us were very impressed.
Sprial Diner & Bakery Dallas, Texas
Sprial Diner & Bakery Dallas, Texas
Gilroy Garlic Fries at AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA
Happy to announce that the delicious garlic fries I have loved for so long at AT&T park in San Francisco are in deed vegan! Maybe not the healthiest choice, but definitely one of the most delicious. Nothing like a summer day at the ballpark with mi familia and some papas fritas.
Day 2 was full of wonderful island surprises as we set out on the road with minimal plans. Without extensive plans we still seemed to find some amazing places – just check out the list below!
1. First stop – breakfast! Always tough to find something vegan and/or vegetarian friendly but this was a great find! In the heart of Hilo, Conscious Culture Cafe, 110 Kaewe St.. Urbanspoon. Highly recommend – buckwheat waffle with passionfruit syrup
2. Next, heading down south, we explored Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Although it was a brief visit, seeing a volcano that close was quite spectacular. We checked off the 1. Steam vents, 2. Jaggar Museum with view of the crater rim, and 3. Thurston Lava Tube.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Jaggar Museum
3. Starving and hoping for a vegan/vegetarian meal we were delighted to find this hidden gem – Ono Café at Volcano Garden Arts, Volcano, Hawai’i. Delicious healthy food in a very quaint and beautiful garden just below the Volcano National Park. And…vegan carrot cake for dessert?!?! Perfection.
4. Continuing our drive around the island we stumbled upon Punalu’u Beach Park, Black Sand Beach. A beautiful and unique place with a sea turtle sighting!
Punalu’u Beach Park, Black Sand Beach
5. Finally to end our long day we spent the evening by the pool at Hali’i Kai Resort in Waikoloa and watched another beautiful sunset.
Castle Resorts, Waikoloa, Hawai’i