Anniversary Adventures: Newport Beach

Since our anniversary fell on a Monday this year, I was really hoping we could get away for the weekend before it. It’s a busy summer for Eric work-wise, and not an un-busy one for me, so I wanted to find a place that was not too far of a drive, and one that would be relaxing for us. I thought it might be fun to explore Newport Beach and Balboa Island, and Eric concurred, so off we set on Saturday morning! It is only about an hour’s drive from Pasadena, and yet it feels like a very different place. In a good way!

When we arrived, we were in need of lunch. It was a bit of a wild goose chase, but eventually we found a place that looked promising.

Alas, the food was not as good as it looked, but, to be fair, it did look pretty dang good.

However, the place did have a lobster claw game, and that was kind of awesome. It’s just like those claw games they have in arcades and grocery stores…only you’re catching a live lobster! I didn’t try it, but I overheard people saying they had caught lobsters before. Wow.

After lunch we took a quick shot by the flowers in the sunshine. Anniversary state of mind!

Across the street, I had spotted a coffee roaster and shop, so, of course, we had to check it out!

They recommended some beans for me (delicious!), and I was charmed by their customer mug storage. I love that this is such a community-oriented place.

After this little interlude, it was back to exploring the town! I loved this little gondola sign! There are some canals built into Balboa Island and the surrounding areas, which reminds me of St. Petersburg, Russia–my favorite city ever. It is almost always too cold for gondolas there, so I’m happy to see that Newport Beach is utilizing them.

The neighborhood closest to the Marina has this glorious old movie theater. If there is one thing that will always delight me, it is an old movie theater. I love the design and the pastel peachy colors. It apparently only has one screen, so I am especially happy that it is still in business.

It was a gorgeous day for sailing, and there was a bridal party taking pictures at this little park at the end of the peninsula. So very sweet.

Down by the pier, the Dory fleet brings in fresh fish every morning, and they’ve been doing it since 1891. Impressive! Also, bonus points for pretty boats!

And bonus points for their atmospheric sign.

After all this exploring, we were tired, windblown, and sunburned (nooo!), so we headed to the hotel to relax before dinner. I had found a great restaurant: Habana is a highly-rated Cuban restaurant with a truly interesting menu. I was so excited! The only problem was that they were already booked for Saturday night when I called. They said they do take walk-ins, but I wasn’t feeling too hopeful about it. When I get hungry, and I mean really hungry, I turn into a fearsome reptile; if not a T-Rex, then at least a Komodo dragon. This didn’t seem like the nicest anniversary for Eric. I thought we could solve this problem by showing up around 6 or so instead of at 7:30. And I was right!

The funny thing is that we’d brought all these fancy clothes for dinner to make it special. I packed a new dress, new shoes, and my gorgeous wedding jewelry to wear. And when it was time to leave for dinner, we were feeling so hungry and so mellow that we just decided to go as we were. I love that–it felt very us. And I am sure I will wear that dress for another dinner very soon.

We had a lovely table outside, and we spent the evening remembering our wedding (especially some of the funny moments that we’d almost forgotten!), marveling at how fast this beautiful year has gone by, and talking about our plans, goals, and dreams for the next couple of years. I got the dish I’d been dreaming of–a Cuban specialty called ropa vieja. It literally means old clothes, but that is definitely not what it tastes like!

Eric ordered a steak that came with mashed purple potatoes. So pretty! Also, very addictive!

And then there was dessert: a chocolate almond cake with coffee mousse served in a “chocolate teacup,” topped with a few coffee beans for good measure. I am so glad we decided to split it because it was truly decadent! And yet it felt appropriate to the celebration.

We had many more adventures (and I will write about them soon!), but this dinner feels to me like one of the special moments from our trip. Just the two of us, relaxing over good food, enjoying each other, one eye to the past, one eye to the future, our hands and our lives entwined. I look forward to all the anniversaries that are yet to come.

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