Spicy Samusa Soup with Sameea in San Francisco, Spontaneously.

Back to the sweet nectar of the internet once more.

Since my last post circa 2012, I’ve graduated, spoken at my graduation- and as Tory says, I finally have something to say during icebreakers for an interesting personal fact!- didn’t trip on the steps up to speaking at graduation, took a cross country trip with my best friend, moved to the NOVA/DC area, and started my full time job as a business advisory consultant. But since this is a travel blog, let’s get to the good stuff: the trip cross country.

Since we were freshman year roommates, Sameea and I have been talking about our graduation trip. It had to be somewhere amazing and far, but also not the most expensive since obviously we would still be broke by then.

It would be Southeast Asia.

So upon the start of our last semester as students at VA Tech, we found a direct flight to LA for $130. Done.

In our heads we planned out staying in LA with our friend Brian since we had both never been anywhere in California, let alone the west coast, and flying from there to Bangkok.

The days went by and as we continued to plan, we hit the wall of realization: we still had no money to do all this. After trying to convince our parents to help us out (aka “thanks for paying for my education now can you also pay for my celebration of spending all that money”), we came to the conclusion that in no way were we going to suddenly get funds of $2k for flights.

Thus begins part II of the grad trip planning.

We have a flight to LA. We’ve never seen the Pacific. Let’s go see this west coast best coast.

We started in LA and got to spend some time hanging on the new and improved Venice Beach. I’d compare it to the current Brooklyn re-gentrification process- suddenly it’s filled with guys who cut their jean shorts themselves and wear nonprescription glasses. Not to say that’s a bad thing. I love both those hipster places and their hipster people. We rode bikes to the beach, only 2 blocks away, and I got my first surf lesson from Brian’s roommate, Steven. GUESS WHO STOOD UP TOO!? Surfing has always been a talent I wished I possessed naturally and it’s safe to say that I need some practice. Thankfully Steven was patient, the waves weren’t ginormous, and I may or may not have been eavesdropping on a paid instructor giving a lesson. Life is about taking advantage of what’s around you, is it not?

There I am! Not really- this wasn't even in LA (La Jolla, SD)

There I am! Not really- this wasn't even in LA (La Jolla, SD)

Next up was a train down to San Diego to see an old friend from my study abroad in Spain. Alex grew up in Cali and upon meeting him I told him one day I would come visit! And like a true Game of Thrones character, an Alexster always settles his debts.  Get it- instead of Lanister. Lol I make myself laugh.

From Spanish Riojas to giant Mexican Margs we go

From Spanish Riojas to giant Mexican Margs we go

Anyway, San Diego was beautiful. We got to spend some time on the beach in La Jolla and pretend we were wealthy friends with a house right on the edge. We even spotted a colony (?) of sealions who smelled like old rotting cat food but at least they were cute from afar. For lunch Alex took us to this awesome Mexican spot in Old Town called Fred's. I sent my dad a pic and he immediately knew where we were eating. “That’s my FAVORITE Mexican restaurant ever!!” was his response. So yes, it was delicious.

Alex was the best host and I owe him a weekend of luxury in DC (if he ever felt like taking a trip away from his sunny lifestyle for the boring capital…maybe I’ll just have to meet him somewhere instead). I’m so grateful that through all my travels I have met such amazing people!

Here comes the funny part of our trip. Or one of many I should say.

We were going from SD to San Francisco, up the pacific coast. So Sameea and I rented a car. LOL. You should all be laughing already. If you know Sameea’s track record with driving (meaning her actual record) you’ll know why I immediately took the keys into my own possession. I would be the driver. And that sucked because I wanted to see everything but was too nervous to keep turning my head, in fear of crashing the car and paying a million dollars to Enterprise.

The car we drove cross country. The Wonder Mobile.

The car we drove cross country. The Wonder Mobile.

Nevertheless, through the deserted landscape and random fields we (I) drove. Being the spontaneous people that we are we even veered off the highway at one point to make a vineyard pit stop. Duh. It was super chic and we definitely didn’t fit in to the ambiance in our tank tops and chucks but we are both highly educated (Geography of Wine Fall ‘11) wine connoisseurs so we knew what we were doing. We used our prior knowledge of such delicate roses (insert e with accent mark) and musky cabernets and blahblahblah just kidding we taste tested local wines for $10 and it was COOL. Don’t worry they gave us food after, too.

Sameea Baig, tannin recognizer and oak-barrel-identifier since 2011

Sameea Baig, tannin recognizer and oak-barrel-identifier since 2011

We moo-ved so quickly with me at the wheel. ba dum tiss.

We moo-ved so quickly with me at the wheel. ba dum tiss.

Back on the road, 6 or 8 hours later, we arrived in San Francisco!

Cue the Full House song.

In San Fran we stayed at a hostel (yes, hostels do exist in America. And yes they are exactly the same dorm style, euro-hip rooms) and so to follow tradition we joined in the hostel’s own bar-crawl that night. We ended up with people from all over the world- Australians traveling as they ALWAYS are, Canadians being Canadian, Scots who just quit their job and were exploring the world, even some British guys who couldn’t say Sameea’s name for the life of them (Semolina, Samelia, etc etc).

The next day we simply explored SF. We walked to Haight-Ashbury, the Golden Gate Bridge, Castro, and even to the Full House houses. We walked until our feet burned and ended up taking a nap on a park bench in one of the gardens. We ate at Burma Superstar THE BEST BURMESE RESTAURANT in Cali, or ever if you’re like us and had never eaten Burmese food before (PS Burmese= from Burma= now from Myanmar). We ate samusa soup and tealeaf salad and paired it with some type of ginger beer, all per the waiter’s recommendation. If it’s a place that’s been featured on the Food Network, you can trust the waiters- a huge weight off my indecisive, annoyingly-excessive-menu-reading shoulders.

I enjoyed SF a lot, as I did in all of California. It was so clean and polished unlike many northern cities. They should call it Cleanifornia. CalifornYEA! ...Cali-corny-a

CalifornIn-n-out. Alright I'll stop. But just look at this heavenly creation

I don't always take pictures of my food, but when i do, it's always.

I don't always take pictures of my food, but when i do, it's always.

And so the overly epicurious & ridiculously spontaneous adventures of Spicy Asia and Big Al continue...