To be married 20 years in no easy task. Marriage is a lot of work, compromise, understanding, and trust. A marriage at 20 years looks very different than its earlier version, especially after children, and pets and balancing a career and my husband’s decision to leave the corporate world and begin a lifestyle blog and raise the kids while I still work the 9-5 (more like 8-8) and launching Where Gals Wander this year. The fact that we are sure we beat many bets that said we still would not be together today (and happy, no less) deserves to be celebrated. For our ten year anniversary, we did a second honeymoon returning to Sandals in Jamaica, where we originally went after our wedding. Where could we go that could capture the same sense of romance, adventure, luxury and that sense of escape?
We were invited by the San Diego Tourism Authority to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in La Jolla in San Diego. It captured all of the magic we were hoping for.
I was worried that driving from Los Angeles to San Diego would not get us off to a good start, but it was a beautiful 3-hour drive listening to some of our favorite songs from the last 20 years that held special memories for us. My husband got us a 2017 Hyundai Tuscon Night in my favorite shade of blue, with my favorite feature, a sunroof, so we could smell the fresh salty air and feel the breeze and the sunshine as we drove down the scenic coast.
We arrived at the Pantai Inn, our home for the next two days. Located off Ocean Street and Coast Blvd, you literally cannot get any closer to the ocean, it is across the street. The Pantai has the vibe of stepping into a Bali resort, from the moment you step into the lobby and throughout the courtyard. Colorful, decorated umbrellas adorn the property, with intricate details wherever you look and beautiful flowers and plants and fountains. It is small, intimate and romantic.
Our room was a one-bedroom suite, overlooking the ocean, with a separate living room with desk and fireplace, dining area, kitchen, and then what could say romance more than a stone shower with dual rainfall showerheads and canopy bed? We enjoyed both the freshly baked coconut macaroons (still warm!) they put out for the guests from the chef, and the amazing breakfast in the elaborately decorated gathering room Sunday morning.
I was touched by the beautiful anniversary bouquet in our room and the almost-too-beautiful-to-eat (almost) desert cups filled with strawberries, coconut, creme and a welcome note wishing us a happy anniversary. What a wonderful way to begin our time in San Diego and it definitely set the tone for the rest of our trip.
We immediately took advantage of the six-minute walk to the beach, taking advantage of the towels, chairs, umbrellas and snorkeling equipment offered by the Pantai Inn to its guests. The cliffs and rocky shores are so picturesque but the most amazing part is of all the seals down on the beach! It was like my inner kid was jumping up and down to play with the baby seals. Of course, you can’t actually play or touch them, but they were swimming less than two feet from my feet and where else can you ever have that type of experience? The beach and rocks were full of seals and I could have stayed there all afternoon just watching them. It was a warm afternoon, so we headed up the coast a little farther to the Children’s Beach, where we could park our umbrella and try out some snorkeling. The children’s beach was not even crowded for Labor Day weekend and full of white sand. The wall protects the cove from giant waves, and there were caves to explore. We went snorkeling and saw stingrays and other tropical fish.
For dinner, we went to The Marine Room, a French restaurant right on the ocean. No, I mean right ON the ocean. The restaurant faces the ocean and as the tide comes in, it crashes right up against the walls. During the right seasons, the high tide will actually crash against the windows themselves. We sat at the corner table against the window and dined at sunset, which was the most romantic setting as we sipped champagne. I had the Center Cut Black Angus Filet Mignon, with truffle parsley potato, Shropshire blue, tart cherry sauce. My husband had the Chef Special: Nebraska Center Cut Prime Angus New York Steak, with king trumpet, truffle potatoes, white asparagus, blue paradise, tempranillo reduction. The chefs were Bernard Guilas and Ron Oliver from “Two Chefs, One World” cookbook.
The service was amazing and made for a full dining experience. Afterward we went to the Gaslamp Quarter, famous for its restaurants, bars, nightclubs and neon bicycle rickshaws. They have a bar called Whiskey Girl, how could I resist? We danced into the wee hours.
I was amazed at how much we did in the 12 hours we were there. The next day was full of more beach, hiking at Torrey Pines, and visiting the Birch Aquarium. Day Two to be continued.