Visiting Carmel by the Sea

Friday, October 9, 2015

*This is a Sponsored Post*

17 Mile Drive Stop in Pebble Beach
California is just beautiful.

A few hours north from Los Angeles and it's just more so. Driving up PCH and Highway One is just stunning in so many ways.

From the cliff-side rugged beaches, to the cerulean blue water, to even to freshness of the air caressing your face as you zoom past the hustle and bustle of city life, the best way to experience California is by driving through it....

And when you keep driving north, past Los Angeles, Ventura, Pismo Beach, Morro Bay and San Luis arrive at one of the most beautiful places in California: The Monterey Peninsula.

The crowing jewel of the Monterey Bay Peninsula is Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Sunset from my balcony at Hofsas House in Carmel
A quaint town, and as the name suggests, is a seaside village located in the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel-by-the-Sea is known to charm their adult childless travelers, dog-loving couples and girlfriends escaping their 9-5 routines with boutique shops, art galleries, upscale restaurants and wine tasting rooms.

Dog-friendly Amenities at Hofsas House
Looking to reboot after a long semester in school, my hubby, Maya and me drove to Carmel-by-the-Sea and stayed at the Bavarian-inspired Hofsas House Hotel.

Hofsas House is a woman-owned hotel that has been a Carmel staple for 60 years and continues to impress guests with it's warm hospitality and small town charm. While all the rooms have a unique flair, our suite-style dog-friendly room had a private balcony overlooking the pool, a fireplace, large bathroom, cocktail area and wetbar. Wifi was also available and easy to access, although, with the beauty of the sunsets, or sunrises, I can't say that we used it much.

Upon our arrival to Carmel, Hofsas House greeted us with a Monterey wine and cheese selection from The Cheese Shop in Carmel, which was a welcome afternoon snack before we got dressed to go to the pool.

Maya was also greeted with the Hofsas House 'Tail Wagging Package,' which included a special dog bed, collapsible dog bowl, treats, and a letter from the hotels pet concierge that included a few insider tips and recommendations!

The Monterey Wine & Cheese Pairing ($30) can be added to your stay
After an hour or so poolside, we gathered our things to return to our room and get ready for dinner. Unlike Los Angeles, however, once you arrive to Carmel, you rarely use your car.

We simply got ready and walked with Maya to La Dolce Vita, a lovely dog-friendly Italian Restaurant that happened to host live music.

Parmesan Calamari Steak over a bed of Risotto
Carmel is a safe town, and made us comfortable enough to explore the small streets with Maya in tow before we headed back to our room....and then something amazing happened: The TV was turned off before we went to sleep. That's when I knew that we had fully disconnected and were enjoying our time together.

The next morning I woke-up with the ocean breeze softly swinging the hotel curtains, and the seagulls making their oh-so-famous ocean-sound in the background. 

I left hubby and Maya in bed, and walked to the lobby where Hofsas House provides daily continental breakfast that you can take back to your room. 

Instead of hanging out with the other guests, I took a breakfast tray and set-up in our balcony while Hubby and Maya cuddled a bit longer. 

That afternoon we walked with Maya to the main area of town and stopped by various wine-tasting rooms with our 'Wine Tasting Passport,' which gave us the opportunity to walk through town and try different wineries.

We also viewed a few galleries and did a little shopping at Kris Kringle of Carmel, Diggidy Dog Boutique and Lula's Chocolateries. By midday we had a light take-out lunch from Salmuria Luca and later stopped by to taste the yummy organic juices from Carmel Belle.

By early evening we headed back to Hofsas House to get ready for dinner at Abalonetti Seafood, located at Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey, which was a short drive from Carmel.

Abalonetti Seafood has incredible service and even had a dog-friendly menu for Maya. Of course we couldn't resist and ordered a burger patty for her - that was served on a doggy saucer. As for human food - what can I say? We're huge seafood fans, and Monterrey never disappoints.

As most weekend getaways tend to be, they seems too short by the end of the weekend. But before we headed back to Los Angeles, we picked-up a packed lunch at 5th Avenue Deli to enjoy at the dog-friendly leash-free beach with Maya.

This was Maya's first time being off leash at a beach, and trust me, she truly enjoyed every moment of running around the white sand dunes of the Carmel Beach!

Before we left Carmel,  we drove through the 17 mile drive (Pebble Beach) and took Highway 1 from Carmel to San Luis Obispo. Although it added a couple of hours to our drive, the view was entirely worth it!

Until our next visit - we have created many new memories of the beauty that the Monterey Peninsula is!

To plan your visit to Carmel and the Monterey Peninsula, contact Hofsas House and ask about their weekend getaway promotions or add-on's to make your stay more memorable. That's exactly what we did - and it absolutely made our stay more remarkable because we left the planning to them.


Ana Lydia

Discussing Photography with Klaus Polkowski

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

This is a sponsored post + giveaway. Enter to win a signed-set of Klaus Polkowski postcards here:
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I recently had the opportunity to Skype-Interview Award-Winning Photographer Klaus Polkowski, directly from his home in Germany.

Klaus is master of his craft who is widely recognized for his introspective photography and subjects of his works ranging from the common man, to the Dalai Lama, the Pope and many other high-profile people.

I have admired his work as a student of photography and have now become a bigger fan of the man behind the camera after speaking to him. 

These are a few of his photography -and life- nuggets he shared with me:

Three Generations (C) Klaus Polkowski - The cornerstone photo of his career

When did you know you wanted to take photographs for a living?

"In 1990 when I was working in Calcutta, after finishing my studies in Berlin around the age of 22, English photographer Gary Woods put a Hasselblad in front of me at a bar. We then started to talk. He was in Calcutta to do a report about Mother Theresa but didn’t have a permit to take pictures at “The House of the Dying,” so he asked me to take photos for him. I shot five film rolls and gave them back to Gary. Two months later I received a call because my pictures were in a book and I was invited to London. I stayed in London for 10 days, where I was shown all the photography techniques in the dark room. That's when I started taking serious pictures."

When did you start selling your work?

"In 1993/1994 I starting selling my photographs at the flea market. I sold each print for $50. In two days I sold two-thousand dollars."

What motivates you to continue with photography?

"I have never been motivated by money. The most important thing to me is to take a perfect picture and print. Only when I can feel that the soul is in the picture, is my photograph ready to sell or give to my clients."

What has been your most memorable assignment?

"There isn’t one big project, but there are several little ones."

Can you walk me through your process:

"Emotional situations are sometimes more important when done in families. First I talk to people, then I might live in the village, then I takes pictures. I let the situation happen. I like to be an invisible photographer and take photographs while people do what they normally do. I don't want to be 'the photographer,' I become a member of the family. I just take “simple pictures.”  It's not important to me to shoot a “wow-wow” picture. It's the little things, like the people's eyes, that makes them feel human instead of just being a subject of a photo."

"I'm a  slow photographer, when others might take hundreds of the same scene (or person), I only take one to five photos when I have a “feeling.” 

What makes a great photo?

"What makes a photograph beautiful is when it captures (the subject's) truth, authenticity and how they are."

How can you tell/how do you tell a story with a photo?

"When I don't take pictures of people, I just takes photos of landscapes; because that is the right moment, angle and a dream in that moment. I'm not a writer, but I can see and feel how the world looks. My pictures are like a letter to somebody."

What have you learned from photographing others?

"To trust people and to create an element of trust. After so many photo shoots I'm still in contact with the people I photograph. But the most important thing I have learned is communication."

What have you learned about yourself with photography?

"Taking photos is like meditation to me. Taking pictures is freedom and it's the greatest thing to take pictures. Although I couldn't do anything else, I have learned to take care of people when they are in front of the camera. I make other people feel safe and help them by taking photos. I'm part psychiatrist because of the conversations that happen when I'm taking photo's and my ability to work with people."

Do you still take film photos?

"I use a Hasselblad film camera.  I also use a darkroom to develop my own film rolls and make my own prints on Ilford museum-quality paper."

Why do you still use a darkroom?

"To be in the darkroom and develop photos has the same significance to me as going to church."

Where can we see or purchase your work?

"30 years of my work - the essence of my work - you can see on my website. It's important that everyone can afford my work, so I sell digital prints ($60-100), or postcards ($2). You can also purchase limited-edition museum-quality prints ($1,200 each)."

What do you tell people, like myself, that are passionate about photography?

"You have to take pictures for years. It's important to find your own way and learn what do you want to do with your pictures. Ask yourself: why do you take pictures and what feeling do you want to convey with your pictures."

"But the most important thing is that you have to want it. Not a little. Not half. You have to want to take pictures.  If you get a 'tickling in your soloflex (gutt),' you're a good photographer."

(C) Klaus Polkowski
Klaus has graciously sent me a collection of his postcards and has invited me to giveaway a set to my readers so you too can enjoy the beauty of his photography at home.

Ana Lydia

Naked Chick Organics

Sunday, October 4, 2015

This is a sponsored post.

My skin is hypersensitive.

If it's cold or windy, it will flake. If it's hot or sunny, it will blister.  As you can imagine, my skin is constantly in a state of repair or the dreaded in-between stage.

I've tried many beauty and skincare products to either calm what the elements had caused to my skin or to prevent causing more damage.

From medical grade, to the counted few mass-produced beauty products, you will see me using one, or a few brands and products at any given time.

Some products I buy once, then I move on. But others, like the Naked Chick Organics Sea Grass Body Oil and the creamy Salted Coconut Orange Body Scrub are the kind of products I will buy after I run out of my generous gift from Naked Chick Organics.

Naked Chick Organics is a woman-owned skincare company that prides itself in only using the finest 100% USDA Certified Organic and Vegan ingredients, but only only works with cruelty-free suppliers that use environmentally friendly practices.

An added bonus is that Naked Chick Organics never uses milk, honey, or beeswax in any of their products.

This attention to the quality of both the ingredients and production of this artisan beauty brand allows someone has skin sensitivities, like me, to use a scrub in the shower without worrying about skin breakouts or rashes.

While the body oil has been a major reason as to why everyone asks how I have maintained my skin so supple and hydrated during back-to-back trips in such moisture-sucking environments.

Both products have hydrated my skin without leaving it greasy, while at the same time leaving a light fragrance that layers nicely with any of my perfumes or other beauty products.

I invite you to follow Naked Chick Organics on Social Media to stay updated on their seasonal products and promotions:

For my Toronto, Canada friends: learn more about Naked a Chick Organics and their fabulous founder on 10/23 when you watch Breakfast Television

Ana Lydia

Lunch at Working Class Kitchen

Friday, October 2, 2015

I featured the Michael's family of restaurants a few months back...and I'm happy to share that they have since added a new restaurant: Working Class Kitchen and invited me to try it out.

That's my hubby and princess Maya sitting at the end of the Table :)
Working Class Kitchen, located in the super hip Zaferia District in Long Beach, is a test kitchen and butcher shop that prepares and cuts all the meats for the Long Beach-based Michael's family of restaurants.

As with the other Michael's restaurants, Working Class Kitchen supports local farmers and artisans, and only partners with ranchers who humanely and sustainably raise their animals for human consumption.

While this might not seem like a big deal, trust me it is - you can taste the quality of the food with every bite.

The menu rotates daily and has a large selection, of what else, meat-based sandwiches and burgers, sausages, salads and sides. The chef also likes to prepare unique and yummy dishes, like Fried Chicken on Fridays, and every month on the 10th the chef has a special menu, because - why else? It's a TEST kitchen. (Check-out the special events calendar here.)

While the restaurant is small, eating on-site is ideal because you get a behind-the-scenes feel when eating at the community table, or checkout the neighborhood when you eat at the doggy-friendly patio. 

Eating at the restaurant also gives you the opportunity to try the restaurant's different beers on tap, order from their wine selection or try bottled artisan soft drinks.

But if you must, you can order anything on the rotating menu to-go, including anything behind the refrigerator case, like their freshly made salads, marinated meats, smoked pigs feet (YUM!) and house-made sausages.

On my recent visit with my hubby and Maya, we tried a selection of their most popular items, including the world-famous Chianina Burger (also served at their sister restaurant Chianina Steakhouse), Weisswurst Blue-Corn Corn Dog, and Poutine.

The chef also brought us their potato salad and beet salad to try. While I'm not a fan of beets, the salad was made with goat cheese and walnuts. And what can I say? I'm a fan of cheese. So there you go.

Working Class Kitchen is a perfect Long Beach lunch spot; but for non-locals, like me, I suggest taking a cooler and order some of their sausages, meats and salads to-go.

Working Class Kitchen is open seven-days a week and is located at

Ana Lydia

Hello from Termatalia!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

One of the photos I shared on my Instagram from Orense in Galicia Spain
Hi guys!

I'm in Ourense in Galicia Spain for the 15th Annual Termatalia, a conference that's focused on Thermal Waters and Spa Wellness travel & education, representing my friends at Wellness Travel Worldwide.

I planned to work during my plane ride...but, on my way to Spain, I mistakenly thought that internet service and WiFi would work seamlessly...which it did...on my way from Los Angeles to Philly. But once I left Philly, the Internet was unavailable...for the entire seven hours it took for me to get to Madrid!

Once in Madrid, I did have WiFi...for 30 minutes at the Airport. I used that time to check-in with my hubby and family to let them know I had arrived safely, and that I would be spending a few hours checking-out the sights with my new Spanish friend and touring Museo del Prado.

Five hours wasn't enough time to spend in Madrid! The taxi driver was my tour guide and took me through a few sites after I had spent time with my new friend. After that, he dropped me off at Museo del Prado where I saw several galleries and finally saw Diego Velasquez "Las Meninas," which was an absolute dream of mine; as well as one of the largest collections of Goyas. I saw many other paintings that left me breathless...but because taking photos is strictly prohibited, I used my phone to take notes on the paintings I saw...

The notes? Mercury Retrograde took hold of them and they are no-where to be found. No. Where. To. Be. Found.

This has been my only moment of frustration during the entire trip that I hope I can make-up later in some way shape or form.

But going back to traveling, Termatalia and WiFi...let me just be honest: WiFi is spotty in Spain, and not always working seamlessly when I find out I can actually log in. I don't mind it as much as getting a little behind on what I need to do while away...which is mostly homework and updating you on a few trips that I took recently.

For now, stay tuned and follow me on Instagram and Twitter as I give you more real-time updates about my travels through Spain.

I'll be back next week and should have an update, or two, or more very soon.


Ana Lydia
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