Time Travellers: 24 Hours in Old Sacramento, California

“Study the past if you would define the future.” ― Confucius

There are many places in the world that have such a wonderfully rich history to share but it's so often concealed by 21st Century life that there's ordinarily no real cohesion between the stories we hear and what's in front of us. For a lot of the world, it seems we have to dig deep through the layers of Topshops and Zaras and H&Ms and Gaps and Nordstroms before we find any inkling of the past. But there's one city that has fought tooth and nail to be true to its heritage - and that's Sacramento, California.

While travelling from Vancouver, BC to Los Angeles, CA earlier this year, one of our dedicated stop-offs was to be Sacramento. Now before I started researching for our trip, Sacramento was completely off my radar; I knew absolutely nothing of it but it fitted in with our itinerary and meant we wouldn't be driving for hours before our next stop, Oakland. Because couples + foreign lands + driving directions + time has the potential to cause a lot of unnecessary stress.

After a little bit of research, I stumbled across images of Old Sacramento. Having never seen a place quite like it, I knew we had to visit if only to have a drink in a real-life saloon. So for a whole 24hrs, we embarked on a whistle-stop tour of the capital of California - and here's a snapshot of some of our best bits and why Old Sacramento is so unique. 

We checked in to The Delta King Hotel

Floating gracefully on the Sacramento River, you will find The Delta King Hotel, an authentic 285ft riverboat that now serves as a 44-room land side hotel. In 1927, The Delta King began its life sailing between Sacramento and San Fransisco until the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge changed its course and led to it becoming a war vessel, then used for its spare parts and finally - abandoned. After being acquired by a new family who saw it through a complete historical renovation, The Delta King reopened in 1989 as a hotel, restaurant and entertainment venue. 

With over 7 types of room to choose from, including the Captain's Quarters, there's one to suit every budget. We opted for a Riverview State Room on the 3rd floor, overlooking the Sacramento River with a non-private veranda. As expected from a riverboat room, it's smaller than most modern hotel rooms (I honestly have no idea how the porter got my suitcase through the door) but offers a comfortable and truly unique stay. The decor is traditional and in keeping with the boat, while the room contains everything you need: a queen sized bed with soft linen, a wardrobe and drawer space, a TV, a writing desk and a small bathroom with a shower. 

On board, there are also two restaurants for when you're feeling peckish: the Pilothouse Restaurant, a fine dining restaurant and the Delta Bar and Grill for a more casual experience. With only one night in Old Sacramento, we decided to push the boat out and dine in the Pilothouse Restaurant. The restaurant is an immaculate reflection of the Delta King's original beauty with gleaming wooden architecture, crisp, white table clothes and simple flower decorations. The menu is varied and includes tasty meat, fish and vegetarian options, while the wine list offers a vast selection of local wines from the Sonoma and Napa regions. With so much character and endless stories to tell, there's nowhere like The Delta King Hotel and it makes for the perfect stay while visiting Old Sacramento.

We pottered around Old Sacramento's Historical District

With over 50 historic buildings set in a unique 28 acre district along the Sacramento River, Old Sacramento lives in homage to the Californian Gold Rush of 1849 and offers a very special glimpse into 19th Century American life. Raised wooden sidewalks line the cobbled streets, while horse-drawn carriages and living history characters breathe life in and around the restored Western structures. Alive with activity and bursting with quirky shops, restaurants, historical attractions and buzzing nightlife, the Historical District of Old Sacramento is sure to leave you pining for the past. 

We lived life in the fast lane at the California State Railroad Museum

Whether you're an avid train enthusiast or someone who doesn't often navigate themselves through the railroad realms, the California State Railroad Museum is a great place to see the history of the Californian railways come to life. Dedicated to protecting California's railway heritage and inspiring all generations to learn about the history of the innovative railroad, the California State Railroad Museum is home to an impressive collection of steam locomotives dating from 1862 to 1944, an interesting rolling stock collection including the prosaic caboose, a high speed train simulator and an award-winning collection of railroad photography - all from which you're bound to come away from with a newfound sense of appreciation for the railroad. 

We took a peak at the past at the Sacramento History Museum

Sacramento has much more to offer, historically speaking, than the Gold Rush and right in the heart of the Old Sacramento Historical District, you will find the Sacramento History Museum. With exhibits depicting the rise of Sacramento during the Gold Rush and the discovery of gold, Nisenan Indian culture, agricultural revolutions and a working 19th Century print shop where you can print your very own 'WANTED' poster, you'll come to fully understand the past, the present and the future of California's capital. 

We went wild at Sacramento Zoo

Located just outside of Old Sacramento, Sacramento Zoo is a great place to visit if you want to get up, close and personal with over 120 native, rare and endangered species from around the world. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Sacramento Zoo is dedicated to providing uncompromising care for the animals and works to conserve species and habitats in the wild. So if you find yourself in Sacramento and you're partial to spending more time with animals than with humans, pop along to the zoo - and don't forget to say hello to the flamingoes for me.

Have you been anywhere with a really unique history?

A Little Piece Of Cornwall: The Fistral Beach Hotel

“The sea always filled her with longing, though for what she was never sure.” 

― Cornelia Funke

Cornwall is one of those places that, no matter how hard you try, it will steal a little bit of your heart and touch your soul so deeply that you'll wistfully mourn for her until the day you return. Endless miles of beautiful beaches, rugged coastlines, clotted cream ice-cream, traditional Cornish pasties, delicious seafood, enviable surfing schools, welcoming people and quaint English seaside towns doused in folklore... it's the perfect place to forget your incessant city life without having to leave the country.

With the memories of our Pacific Coast road trip fading day by day and my longing to be close to the ocean again becoming too great, Tom and I decided to embark on a little UK adventure last month and head to Cornwall for a long weekend. Dependant on how far south you travel, the drive from London to Cornwall can be rather enduring so to make the most of our short trip, we chose to explore the North coast and a charming area called Fistral Beach, a world-famous surfing spot nestled in Fistral Bay, close to Newquay.

For the next two days, our home would be the Fistral Beach Hotel, a 71-room contemporary retreat overlooking Fistral Beach. With comfortable, modern rooms bursting with little luxuries, an elegant restaurant, a cosy bar and a blissful spa, the Fistral Beach Hotel is designed with peace and serenity in mind and provides an idyllic setting for surfers, hikers and lovers alike.

From economy rooms and sea-view rooms to a lavish suite with a private hot tub, the Fistral Beach Hotel offers rooms to suit all budgets and occasions. Our room was one of the 'Best' rooms located on the second floor, complete with a balcony, a freestanding bath, ESPA toiletries and a picture-perfect view of the ocean. 

The hotel provides complete comfort and each room has been meticulously designed to emulate the beautiful surroundings. Whether you're a surfer or a spectator, the Fistral Beach Hotel allows you to make the most of the coast whichever way you choose. And when it comes to winding down after a long day by the sea, the Fistral Spa's vitality pool gives sanctum to those wanting to indulge the body and mind in a place of ultimate tranquility. 

After a well-deserved day of relaxation, the Dune Restaurant at the Fistral Beach Hotel is the perfect place to refuel and watch the sun go down. With billowing white drapes, elegant flora and ocean-inspired ceramic table decorations, the restaurant oozes seaside sophistication and serves a delicious seasonal menu with locally sourced meats, seafood and vegetables at the forefront.

Each dish is crafted with passion and a love of eating well. For starters, we opted for the seared scallops with mango salsa and the chef's special fish cake. For mains, I ordered the fillet of stone bass with black olives and sun-blushed tomatoes while Tom tucked into the charred pork belly with noodles and Asian greens. 

It's clear from the menu options that the chefs love to create and inspire diners with their culinary delights. As well as offering an interesting menu on paper, the execution of each dish is faultless: the presentation is good, the flavours work well together, the portion sizes are very generous and the servers are first-class. 

Although we were both bursting at the seams (a common occurrence in our relationship), we still had  room for dessert. I had to have the peanut butter parfait with chocolate ganache and hazelnut brittle, while Tom - as British as he can be - chose the chef's special bread and butter pudding. 

I have to admit that I was beaten by the peanut butter parfait but the flavours were divine. Nuts and chocolate will always be a winning combination for me and the contrasting textures made it an interesting and contemporary choice of dessert. 

No three-course meal is complete without a tipple or two and to accompany the delicious food menu, the Dune Restaurant offers an exhaustive list of wines (complete with a selection of vegan friendly wines) and locally brewed beers. If you're more of a cocktail connoisseur, the Bay Bar at the hotel serves a selection of classic and current cocktails and is a place where you can sit, sip and socialise until the early hours.

After a heavenly night's sleep and waking to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, we made our way down to the Dune Restaurant to have breakfast overlooking the morning tide. Breakfast at the hotel includes a full continental buffet, bottomless mimosas, fruit smoothies and hot breakfast options; a hearty way to start the day.

My go-to hotel breakfast is Eggs Royale, which was cooked just the way I like it: quality smoked salmon served on a fluffy English muffin base with runny poached eggs and a delicious béarnaise sauce.

Fully rested, fed and prepared for another day of relaxation, we took ourselves down to Fistral Beach for a morning stroll. The bay truly is stunning, even at its busiest. The golden sand tickles your toes, the cool ocean waves beckon you to take a dip, dogs bound happily around you, surfers wait patiently to catch the waves. 

The setting is so far from my daily life but somehow, it feels completely normal - and that's the beauty of Cornwall. So, if you're looking for a relaxing break away on the Cornish coast, the Fistral Beach Hotel is an excellent place to stay. Whether you're a couple or have a family, whether you want to surf or spend time chilling out, whether it's your first time in Cornwall or your twentieth, the hotel caters for all. Enjoy the surroundings knowing you have a comfortable place to stay with a fantastic restaurant and I promise, there'll be no looking back. 

Have you ever been to Cornwall?

What To Do When You're Sleepless In Seattle

“In the midst of a busy life, don't forget to live.” 

You may not realise this but we owe so much of our modern lives to a little city that exists right on the West Coast of America: Seattle. That grande vanilla soy latte that you order every morning from your local Starbucks? It actually came all the way from Seattle. The Microsoft computer systems that you're so familiar with? They were created by some of the best minds in the world, who happened to be born in Seattle. And what would we do without Amazon, one of the world's largest retailers? We'd probably have to leave the house to go shopping, but thanks to Seattle - we can shop for pretty much anything from the comfort of our own homes. Or we can binge-watch a new series on Amazon Prime. Or read something spectacular on our Amazon Kindle. Basically, Amazon owns our souls.

Seattle is a city that I never expected to visit (I was happy enough knowing it existed via Grey's Anatomy's opening credits) but on my recent travels along the West Coast of America with my boyfriend, it made sense for it to be our second stop after Vancouver, BC - and it turned out to be quite the cultural city. Rather than drive across the American border with a hire car, we took the Amtrak Cascades train, which drove us right into the city and meant Tom and I could happily sit next to each other and enjoy the journey without getting lost and arguing over directions.

With only 4 days to explore, we ventured around as much of the city as possible, taking in the sights and the history (and playing Spot the Starbucks wherever we went). It's a fairly easy city to navigate but if you ever find yourself in Seattle and at a loose end, here's a few places that are worth a visit and you never know, they may inspire you to build a global brand too.

Pike Place Market

Established in 1907 in downtown Seattle, Pike Place Market has since been a thriving farmer's market and a cultural hub for locals and tourists alike. With over 500 shops, restaurants and stalls within a 9 acre radius, get lost in the market's meandering passageways and gaze with eyes wide at the maze of arcades and storefronts. From fresh flowers, fruit and fish to handmade soaps, original artworks and unique crafts, go down in history and take a little bit of Seattle home with you. And be sure to stop by the Pike Place Fish Market - just below the Public Market Centre sign - where the infamous throwing fisherman toss their fish between themselves for your amusement.

Seattle's Underground Tour

In 1889, Seattle was burned to the ground by the Great Fire but rather than see this solely as devastation, the city officials believed it presented a unique opportunity to rebuild and improve Seattle. But instead of totally demolishing the city, it was decided that the new city would be rebuilt on top of the existing city to elevate the street level. So underneath the streets of the Seattle of today, lies a hidden network of alleys, derelict building and shop fronts which offer a glimpse into the past. During the 75 minute Underground Tour, you are led through the buried streets and regaled with untold stories by some very comedic tour guides, which ends with you exiting through the gift shop.

The Space Needle

Towering above the Seattle Centre at 605 feet is the iconic Space Needle. Like all observation towers, it's a great place to get a different perspective of the city (if you're not afraid of heights, of course) - but there is something else that makes the Space Needle so special; located just beneath the observation deck is a revolving restaurant, appropriately named SkyCity, where you can feast on the flavours of Seattle while savouring the sights. And if you choose to dine at SkyCity, a visit to the observation deck is included in the price of your meal.

Argosy Cruises Harbour Tour

Sometimes walking around a city can become a bit monotonous and you end up walking for so long that you become exhausted and too preoccupied to take in the sights (or is that just me?) - so mix things up, save those legs and hop on a boat! During this one hour narrated cruise of Elliot Bay and Seattle's harbour, you get up, close and personal with the historic waterfront, sailing past Pike Place Market, the Olympic Sculpture Park and the Space Needle while catching a glimpse of Seattle's shipping industry. And to make your journey even more relaxing, there's a fully stocked bar onboard so order your favourite tipple, sit back and enjoy Seattle from the sea.

Museum Of Pop Culture

Housed in a monstrously imaginative metallic structure next to the Space Needle, the Museum of Pop Culture (or MoPOP for short) is dedicated to educating the public with its impressive collection of music, television and film memorabilia. Inside, the exhibitions are broken up into different 'worlds' where visitors can wander around and interact with the collections. Even if you're not a die hard pop culture fan, you are bound to be impressed by the giant guitar structure, the Jimi Hendrix exhibition and the sound labs.

Chihuly Garden And Glass

With 8 galleries, a centrepiece glass house and a delightful garden installation, the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition is a tribute to the works of artist Dale Chihuly. Made entirely from glass, Chihuly's colourful fine art structures appear almost plant-like, giving them an interesting lease of life. The Chihuly Garden and Glass is a permanent exhibition, celebrating Seattle's creative energy and inspiring visitors to engage with the city's cultural community but Chihuly's works have been celebrated globally, having been exhibited in cities including London, Paris, Venice, Boston and San Francisco.

Lake Union

Seattle is not all skyscrapers and corporate offices; it has some charming areas of natural beauty too and Lake Union is one of them. It's the perfect place to go if you need a bit of respite from the city; board a seaplane and soar across the skies, hire a boat and sail across the lake or take a stroll around Gas Works Park, where a former gas plant stands and overlooks the city. From here, you can see the city in all its glory while enjoying the serenity of the water and ponder life on the other side without the distractions of city life. 

What do you think of Seattle?

Summer Staycation: 48 Hours In Brighton

“A little piece of everywhere I go becomes a big part of everything I do.” 
― Richie Norton

It's fair to say that the UK is by no means a tropical paradise but it has such charming ways, it's very easy to fall in love with. Apart from it being my place of birth and my home for the last 25 years, one reason why I love Britain is for our quintessentially British seaside - something I've only come to appreciate in my adulthood. 

Like it or loathe it, there's nowhere on Earth that does the seaside like us Brits do. The fish and chips, the stripy deck chairs, the awkward changing-out-of-my-swimsuit dance, the sticks of rock, the penny arcades, the dodgy sun tan lines, the unpredictable weather, the sugar-coated doughnuts and the happiest of dogs bathing in the sea all make for an experience that stays with you forever. 

So to keep my love for the British seaside strong, my boyfriend and I recently spent the weekend in Brighton. A town renowned for being quirky, creative and positively fabulous, we decided not to make plans but to simply enjoy the moment and go wherever our minds wondered. 

And this is what we got up to.

Daytime Dreamin' on Brighton Palace Pier

Brighton has such a rich culture, there's always something interesting to see around the next corner. One of its most famous attractions is its lovely pier, which opened in 1899 and is still as charming as ever. The perfect way to enjoy the 1722ft stretch of historical beauty is to grab an ice-cream and take a leisurely stroll along it, hand in hand with your beau, until you reach the funfair. And if you're feeling adventurous, take a whizz on your favourite rides before heading back to shore.

Get Lost in The Lanes

I must admit, I am partial to the odd bit of online shopping (it just happens and suddenly I'm poor) but there's something rather special about choosing to shop in a place you're not familiar with. The streets seem more colourful, the restaurants more appetising and the shops more inviting somehow. With so many independent brands, vintage shops and art galleries to discover, The Lanes present a delightfully unique shopping experience where you're guaranteed to find something you didn't even know you were looking for!

Watch the World go by at Brighton Beach

In a former life, I must have been a mermaid because there isn't anything I don't like about the sea. I love how the salt settles on my skin after a dip, how the fresh air cleanses my soul, how the water is so powerful that it slips right through my fingers, how the infinite stretch of blue creates so much life; I could happily set up camp and stay there forever. Although Brighton Beach is a pebble beach, it's still a beautiful place to watch the world go by. Or if you're feeling a bit more energetic, make a splash and get involved with the fantastic watersports on offer. Whether you're a sporting champion or a complete novice, you'll have a whale of a time.

See Brighton from a Different Perspective Inside the British Airways i360

Created by the architects who designed and engineered the London Eye, the BA i360 offers panoramic views of Brighton from 450 feet in the sky. During each 30 minute vertical flight, up to 200 visitors can board the futurist glass pod and watch as the views unfold beneath them. With plenty of space onboard, you can easily move around to see the view from different angles (and the pod is wheelchair accessible too). If you're not too fond of heights, this may sound like quite a daunting prospect but worry not, there's a fully stocked bar onboard for when you need a bit of Dutch courage.

Dine Like a Queen

You may have already noticed that eating well is one of my favourite things to do. Although I love to cook, I also love eating out at nice restaurants and seeing how the best chefs plate up their culinary masterpieces. And when it comes to good food, Brighton is up there with the best. For lunch or a lighter dinner, I highly recommend Riddle and Finns; a little restaurant with a great vibe known for their delicious seafood. With two restaurants, one in The Lanes and one on Brighton Beach, you don't have to venture too far from the excitement to get your seafood fix. 

For a heartier meal, there's nowhere more inviting than The Coal Shed. Tucked away down an unassuming side street just off the sea front, The Coal Shed prides themselves on serving up an honest, tasty storm by using high quality and locally sourced ingredients. With a large portion of the menu dedicated to their infamous flame-grilled meats and steaks, The Coal Shed also serves a great selection of seasonal fish dishes, with oysters, octopus, monkfish and lobster making an appearance. One thing's for sure, you won't go hungry in Brighton!

Sleep in Style

Centrally located in the prestigious Regency Square, Hotel Pelirocco is the epitome of Rock 'n' Roll: sexy, indulgent and bohemian. What was once a traditional townhouse is now your best kept secret, even the exterior doesn't give anything away! With 19 boutique rooms to choose from, each individually themed, there is a room for everyone (some a bit naughtier than others!). A pin up parlour, a knitted room, a lover's lair, a Dolly Parton-inspired room, a koibito love room and a boudoir dedicated to Betty Page amongst many others, this vibrant hotel is bursting with personality and unlike any other in Brighton. 

Have you been to Brighton?

© Rosie Romance

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