Couples Getaway: Mexico (Baja,California).

I always refer to this region as Baja, California, because when we go we typically move through the peninsula. There are so many different cities you can choose to stop at. If you want to party and drink on the beach, Rosarito is your spot. If you want seafood (lobster), Puerto Nuevo is your spot. If you want wine, aesthetic views, and gastronomy, Valle De Guadalupe is your spot. Finally, there is Ensenada which is a stop on many cruises from the U.S. Personally, I would not take a cruise there, when you could drive there. Ensenada is full of adventures, from quad riding, to La Bufadora, there are a lot of options on how to spend your day there.

In this blog, I will highlight our recent weekend adventure into Baja. We did a day and a half, ideally if it is your first time I would carve out two or three days to explore the region. However, if you are a busy person this weekend guide will be perfect for you. 

 

The First Day….

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-My husband had to work, so I drove down to his work and from there we drove down together. We drove straight down to Puerto Nuevo to eat our first meal of the day….LOBSTER. I am obsessed with the lobster meals from Puerto Nuevo. This town is cute, and colorful, and full of 31 restaurants which serve a similar menu. My personal favorite one is Villa Ortega’s (it is all the way to the left, and end). This one has a beach view, and you can dine on the outside while you hear the waves crash and feel the sun shine down on you. We normally get Lobster for two and it comes with lobster, rice, beans, tortillas, and tortilla soup!

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You can walk around and explore the town, this is a good spot to shop for souvenirs, and get free tequila samples. There is also a really yummy ice cream shop and panaderia which has different kinds of bread.

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from there, I recommend driving to your hotel or AirBnB to check in! 

For our stay this time, we chose AirBnB and we had an amazing experience. I will link our stay below! We were nestled in the Valle De Guadalupe and we were so close to the wineries. My favorite part was the breakfast that came with our stay, it was fresh and cooked specially for us.

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9202418?source_impression_id=p3_1582053997_zuI%2F5x%2FFOmuPJAhP

Bed & Breakfast located at Quinta Monasterio

 

Most things in the Valle close early like typical wineries they close around 7pm. There are two location which I recommend and are close to each other.

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-Casa Frida is open till midnight. You can get in without a reservation, but it will be for their outside lounge or the restaurant. If you want to go to their indoor terrace, make a reservation.

-King & Queen Cantina. We got here around 11pm and they weren’t seating anyone without a reservation, so we didn’t get a chance to visit.

 

The Next Day (full day of Mexico)….

This was our full day in Mexico, and I had the day planned out from stop to stop to strategically maximize our time, since everything in the Valle is spread out.

 

Stop 1: Bruma (reservation required)

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This is one of the most gorgeous and unique wineries. There is a beautiful tree in the middle which goes underground and above. The tasting is 17$ pp and includes a tour of the facility, with 3 wine tastings. A little overpriced in my opinion, but you pay for the photo ops. There is also a restaurant called Fauna, which I have heard great things about.

Stop 2: Finca Altozano

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(reservation strongly recommended, if you get there before 12 you can get seated, depending on your party size. Either way I would make a reservation). This restaurant is like no other, its beautiful and has amazing selections of food. The restaurant is situated on a large spread of land, so you can walk around the property and see their animals. There are also a lot of photo opportunities! Our favorite thing to order here is the Oysters, Lengua Tacos, and Seabass Chicharones. We’ve tried other things on the menu, like Octopus, Milanesa, and Tuna. If you are lucky you might even see the two pigs walk past your table. There are also 8 or 9 dogs which live on the property and their name and photo is pictured on the menu. Save some room for desert, there is an ice cream shop located here as well.

 

Stop 3: Casa Frida

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(reservation required). Even though we came here at night, I HAD to go back to explore during the day. We reserved the wine tasting experience, which was $40 for the both of us. Wine tasting is in a separate room that is immersed in art and paintings. If you do not do wine tasting, you can hangout at the restaurant, or hangout in their outdoor lounge which plays funky house music all day. Since we had extra time, we asked if there was space at their Mixology Terrace. I would highly recommend making a reservation for this area, there is a minimum consumption limit, but it is worth it. The views of the Valle are gorgeous, funky house music is playing, and there are delicious hand crafted cocktails to indulge in. Aside from the views, there is even more art to see and take pictures with. Make sure to check out the bathrooms for even more fun photo-ops. Basically this place is an Instagram heaven.

 

Stop 4: Bar Bura @ Cuatro Cuatros

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(reservation required, or take your chances on waiting to get an opportunity to ride the shuttle to the top). Bar Bura, is located on the top of Cuatro Cuatros, and it is the most picturesque bar I have ever been to. You pay to ride the shuttle to the top of the mountain and you get to choose between a soda, water, or beer. You immediately feel like you are transported to somewhere in Greece. I always strategically plan the reservation around sunset hours, the sunset here is breathtaking. You can also order food here, I love their Ceviche. If you need some coffee, there is also a coffee truck at the top, which would be great for your drive home.

 

GETTING HOME

Crossing the border can be a nightmare, because of the waiting time. We’ve waited as much as 8 hours before. On average I would say it takes 4 hours to cross back on a weekend. Just recently on this last trip, it only took us an hour and a half on a Holiday weekend, because my husband figured out how to enter the Ready Lanes! Watch this video and save yourself time! Warning: on the weekends there is a higher volume of traffic, which makes it harder to enter the Ready Lanes, just drive back further and enter in. OH AND YOU CANNOT GET AWAY WITH GOING THROUGH READY LANES WITH NO PASSPORT. Technically you should not even risk going without a passport, however people do many times, in the ready lane they don’t mess around because they use RFID technology to process you faster.

 

 

Thanks for reading! Hope to see more of you venture off into Mexico. If you would like to book a tour, click on my Guide to Valle De Guadalupe Blog, which has my favorite company linked!

xoxo

Jess

New Orleans Guide: 3 day weekend in NOLA

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I’ve had my eyes set on New Orleans, Louisiana for quite some time now. As a major foodie, this places was on top of my list because the possibilities were endless. I was ready for Oysters, Po’Boys, Gumbo, & Beignets galore. Aside from having some of the NOLA staples I got really adventurous on this trip and decided to try new foods I might have never tried, like Chargrilled Oysters (cheese), Alligator Sausage, Turtle Soup, and Quail.

Aside from all the food that drew me to New Orleans, I was also drawn in by the culture. Mixed with Spanish and French influence, New Orleans is a city full of vibrant sounds, views, and people. New Orleans has definitely been the city I have visited with the most live music, from bands playing covers at bars, jazz brunches, or jazz set ups on a street, you can’t help but stop and feel the music.

At the end of this blog you can find my detailed 3 day itinerary which is perfect for a long 3 day weekend. Like my previous Austin post, it is very busy, but you can take what you want from it and make it your own. I strategically mapped everything and placed it in the itinerary in a way where you could see the most by foot. Ubers&Lyfts were relatively cheap, I  DO NOT recommend renting a car.

 

Uber/Lyft from the airport is very controlled and efficient. We paid $40 for the ride from the airport to our hotel.

Hotel: We stayed at the Lafayette Hotel. It was in a prime location, if you are going to Mardi Gras, this is a great hotel to stay, because there are bleachers for the parade right by the hotel. If you enjoy walking, everything is a 13-20 minute walk or a 5 min drive.

Nightlife: Nightlife in New Orleans is like no other. We HAD to check out Bourbon street, there are so many options for bars. If you want a good Hurricane go to Lafitte’s Blacksmith shop, we had one at Pat O ‘Brien’s and it was wayyy too sweet. I avoided the Hand Grenade because I heard it was nasty, but if you want a good buzz and don’t care what you drink, go for it. Also the nightlife is so lax, you can bring your own alcohol and take your drink from bar to bar. Our favorite part of the night was people watching from the Balconies and the bars where they did live covers to songs and requests.

without further a due, lets go into the trip!

Friday Day One

We landed and quickly checked in and got ready for the night. First stop was food obviously. We headed to Acme Oyster House and this was definitely our Favorite meal and spot we went to all weekend, I wanted to go back. We had raw oysters, chargrilled oysters, and we split a seafood fried platter that had the BEST catfish.

From dinner we went to Bourbon street to see the debauchery. It was SO fun and unlike anything we’ve seen before. We checked out Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, Pat O Brien’s, Saints & Simmers, and Bourbon Bandstand.

 

 

Saturday Day 2

After finding out I booked the wrong Mercedes-Benz stadium tour (whoops) we had to make a change to our itinerary. This goes to shows that no matter how much you plan, things can go wrong. We laughed it off and made a quick change.

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Instead of the stadium tour, we went to the Historical Pharmacy Museum which was only $5 to visit and very well worth the cost! This is one of thee coolest museums I’ve seen with a lot of artifacts and instruments used back then.

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Lunch Recommendation: NOLA Po’boys, they’re pretty big and a staple in NOLA.

After lunch we headed back to the area where the stadiums are to go to Smoothie King Arena to watch the Pelicans and Clippers play. One of our goals in life is to visit as many sports stadiums so it was a must to check out a game while we here. Tickets are also significantly cheaper, when we were walking to our seats I couldn’t help but think wow if only we could sit this close at a Laker game back home.

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After the game, we decided to walk back to our hotel area since it was only a 13 minute walk. We decided to stop by the Auction House Market, I wish I would have gotten pictures of it, but I did manage to get a picture of their aesthetic bathroom. It’s a really trendy, cute, and IG friendly market. We split two empanadas and an iced coffee to fuel us for a long night ahead.

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For Night two, we decided to do a Ghost Tour of the City of New Orleans. We did it through Haunted History Tours. I really recommend doing a walking tour because you get a lot of fun, historical information you may have never heard, like the tales of Madame Delphine or Marie Laveau. During the tour you also stop at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, which is one of the oldest buildings still up and supposably, very haunted.

We finished the night with a midnight treat, Beignet’s at Cafe Du Monde, which is 24 hours. I honestly would say going the latest you can is the best idea! We sat down and ordered immediately, during the day and morning the lines are ridiculous.

 

Sunday Day Three

We made this day a strategically planned walking day to see the most around town. Which meant waking up early on a Sunday and beating the crowds. We began by grabbing a beignet and coffee at Cafe Beignet, another popular and cute spot.

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Next stop: St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square Area

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Next Stop: Carousel Bar (opens at 11am) If you want a spot on the carousel get there 10-15 minutes early to get in line. Luckily we got there and found two spots! Although it was super early to grab a drink, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the bar.

Next Stop: Lunch at the Gumbo spot. We split the Aligator Sausage (must try), Shrimp Gumbo and Chicken Andouille Gumbo!

Next Stop: Voodoo Museum, it costs $8 per person to get in. To be honest, I would skip this, it wasn’t worth the price. The Pharmacy Museum is a lot better.

 

We kept walking and decided to find some of the sights from the night ghost tour, in particular Madame Delphine’s Murder house. We had just watched American Horror Story Coven prior to this trip so I was really intrigued by the horror tales.

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Next Stop: The Spotted Cat Music Club, which is a fun, packed, jazz bar! The ambiance and crowd was on point.

Nighttime: We hit Bourbon street and bar hopped. I love how lax the nightlife is here, we were wearing football jerseys and carrying our own alcohol into each venue.

 

Monday Day 4

Our last day in NOLA and we only had half a day because our flight departed at 3:30 pm. Nonetheless, we got up early, packed and made the most of the time we had.

 

Our first stop was Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, better known as the house from American Horror Story Coven. It’s located in a beautiful neighborhood and the house is majestic.

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Next Stop: Drink Beauty NOLA

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I found this pink, instagram dream coffee shop on instagram and knew I had to go. Aside from the decor and aesthetics, was their drinks. We tried two different lattes which had CBD in them, each latte had its own benefit and they both tasted so good. My favorite part was picking out what design I wanted on my foam for my latte, and the bathroom walls (lotss of boobies)

Next & FINAL stop of our NOLA trip: Lunch at the Commander’s Palace

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So what drew us into this place was their lunch special, which allows you to get 25 cent martinis (max 3 martinis). This sounded like a good idea until we wokeup hungover on Monday, it is safe to say I only had one martini (they’re strong). We kept hearing about the famous Turtle Soup, which I was pretty apprehensive to try at first. I had some bold food adventures on this trip, and if you know me you know I am an ex-picky eater. When I first met Ed, I was that person that ordered a safe burger and fries or chicken. Luckily, traveling has pushed me to be more explorative in my food choices and I am so happy (still don’t like cheese though lol).

Here’s a snapshot of the food we got! Turtle Soup was BOMB, and so was their famous desert! You must dress nice in this restaurant or they won’t let you in.

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Thank you for following along! I highly encourage you all to visit New Orleans if you get a chance. I would love to come back because I feel like there is still SO much to see and do. Ideally I want to come back in a warmer month or fall (to catch a Saints game). I also would love to do a Swamp tour, Plantation Tour, and National WW2 Museum in the future!

My weekend itinerary is below in case anyone needs a structured list to follow!

Feel free to screenshot it and make your life easier on your future visit to New Orleans.

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