After sending our students and staff out to change the world, we were finally up for some time off. So we jumped on a jet plane to Sweden to enjoy some quality time with the Mr.’s family. We had two fun weeks relaxing with family and friends and I finally got to experience some Swedish nature. (Which is quite different from the wide-open prairies this Minnesota girl is used to!) From there, we said our “hej då”s and boarded another plane headed farther west —
And so began our four days of California bliss! We were beyond blessed by two of Benjamin’s friends who opened their home up to us. Their hospitality went above and beyond our expectations and at the end of our trip, we both looked at each other and realized that this wouldn’t have been possible without them. We are so grateful for their hospitality and generosity! Their kindness gave us a vacation we won’t soon forget!
The whole trip to California – including the weekend spent in Tijuana, Mexico – was some kind of miracle. Somehow Benjamin managed to find incredibly cheap flights from Sweden to California ($900 round trip for both of us!) that came with a rental car for a week. So not only was our flight cheap, but travel in Cali was practically included. Such an amazing deal!
So what made it on our list of things to see and do while in California?
This was above and beyond our favorite part of our trip. We scored another deal and paid less than half price for two hours of whale watching in Newport Beach. Sure, there weren’t any whales that day, but there was no shortage of dolphins! How could we complain?
Santa Monica, Huntington Beach, Newport, Venice. Those were the four that made it onto our list and if I had to choose, I think Santa Monica was probably my favorite. We also loved walking up the beach walk on Venice Beach. Even though we headed there straight off a 11 hour plane ride, the people watching was the best.
Sessions was a sandwich shop recommended to us by our hosts. We were not disappointed! Quality food, decent price, sandwiches bigger than our stomachs.
Huntington Beach Farmers Market
This one was maybe a bit more of a dud – we were expecting more food than craft vendors. But it was a nice romantic evening out and we love to look at things (and people watch) so it was right up our alley. After being disappointed by the food at the actual market, we walked around the corner to Banzai Bowls and finished off the night with two giant açaí bowls.
Not everyone is as strange as we are. But our favorite pass time is to walk around grocery stores. Not even with a list, but just because we love to look at food and how it changes from country to country, state to state. Trader Joe’s quickly stole our heart and we spent more than a few hours browsing their shelves.
Of course we couldn’t be in California and not experience their pride and joy. We took a road trip from our friends in Costa Mesa down to San Diego to meet one of Benjamin’s good friends from home who is working with YWAM in Tijuana. Before we headed down to Mexico, we needed to make one last stop. To be completely honest, the “Animal Style” fries were a bit of a let down, but the burger… 10 out of 10. We’ll definitely be back some day.
Our experience of these happened south of the border, but we figured authentic as the best route. Walk on the beach with a bag of churros? Yes, please.
I learned something new about my husband during this trip. He loves to barter. As we walked through the street market, he was on the hunt. We stopped at just about every vendor that sold blankets and he tried his best to lower the price as far as he could and yet… he never got it low enough to satisfy himself. So we left without a blanket, but we laughed a lot in the process!
This coffee shop won our hearts. It was the only shop we went to twice (well… if we’re not counting Starbucks…). When we drove back up to Costa Mesa after our weekend in Mexico, we had to stop just one more time.
That’s when we said goodbye – to California and each other – and took our separate flights to each of our teams. Benjamin had the ultimate jungle experience with the team in Peru and I experienced Alaska for the first time. But I’ll save those stories for another time….