On to the next one...


It's Monday, and I'm heading off to my next destination(s). This week marks the beginning of running training programs in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Shenzhen, and Melbourne.

Puzzled? "Why this collection of cities?" you may have asked yourself.

I'm trying to use my time more efficiently with work travel, and this bizarre string of flights is my first attempt to limit the number of back-and-forth flights and time zone changes I need to make this year.

The three requests were for two India, Greater China, and Australian training events. Travel to India generally requires at least 2 weeks of travel for 2 trainings there, and Hong Kong and Melbourne carving out an additional 1 week on their own.

With this itinerary, I'm only out of pocket for about 2.5 weeks. And this routing saves me about 50,000 miles in airplane travel. Sure, I could have probably thrown that spend on United to get me closer to Global Services (never going to happen 🙄), but less time in the air is a nice tradeoff 😀

Because I'm traveling so far, I was able to grab some food and drink (and relax briefly) in United's Polaris Lounge at SFO again -- which is always lovely.

Route via Great Circle Mapper

My original itinerary routed me through Newark, where I was scheduled to fly direct to Mumbai, but that flight was cancelled because of ongoing issues in Iran and Pakistan.

It's a shame, too, because that routing is ideal for me. Nice ~5 hour transcontinental flight, and a long ~15 hour flight to Mumbai with an arrival around 8 pm. Instead, I flew through Frankfurt at around 10 hours, and caught an 8 hour flight to Mumbai that landed me there around 1 am. Not ideal 😴

With this itinerary, I'm only out of pocket for about 2.5 weeks. And this routing saves me about 50,000 miles in airplane travel (see the diagram ->) Sure, I could have probably thrown that spend on United to get me closer to the elusive Global Services (never going to happen 🙄), but less time in the air is a nice tradeoff.


I always love leaving from San Francisco. Especially when fog blankets parts of the city.

See you soon, America 👋

And some more photos from the United flight. The real Polaris business seats are among the best I've flown on, and United's bedding usually gets me a nice, solid sleep before landing.

I can't say the same for the questionable food they make available...gyoza in broth with chicken and carrots? Why?

I should have finished the other half of the burger in the lounge.

Where I'm at today

Week of April 8, 2019

This week was Atlassian's annual Summit conference in Las Vegas (do I need to say Nevada?). I just wrapped up a long week of work meetings, and filming customers, partners, and colleagues, around the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

It wasn't all work, but I definitely met my stand goal every day -- and then some.

Arriving in Las Vegas for Summit 2019

Arriving in Vegas with a dozen colleagues meant several awkward (but still interesting) conversations. "Who are you?" "What do you do?" and "how long have you been at Atlassian?" were common conversational themes.

To answer those questions: I'm Nick. I talk to our internal sales people and external partners about how to talk about our products (it's meta, don't worry). And I've been here for 3.5 years.

Coincidentally, my niece was playing volleyball in the same hotel the prior weekend, so she was there with my sister. They were leaving as I arrived, but we got to cross paths enough to hang out for an hour or so :)

Go sports ball 🏐

Motion all day in between Partner Day sessions.

Summit began on Wednesday, but Tuesday was a full day of Atlassian channel partner-related activities, appropriately called "Partner Day."

I gave part of a presentation with one colleague named Paul, but otherwise roamed the halls with another team mate (also named Paul). I work with a lot of Pauls.

Paul (the second one) and I spent most our time interviewing other presenters and expo hall visitors from around the world. Attendees were eager to talk about Atlassian and how they can expand value for our customers.

I can't post any of that content, but the videos were really fun to make. Paul is a standup kind of guy, and I'm an improv guy. That mostly translates to him remembering his lines, and me blanking most of the time. He's also the straight man, and I'm the silly one.

It was a fun dynamic 🙌

Taking a quick break from the mayhem to enjoy a nice dinner with friends.

Two days in, and I was ready to leave the hotel. I literally hadn't left a controlled climate from the moment I landed Monday afternoon to Wednesday evening. It was slightly depressing, and it felt great to step outside -- even if it was to get into a cab to head to another casino for dinner.

We dined at Picasso. The place wasn't exactly what I would have chosen. However, I couldn't help but be impressed by the many Picasso works that surrounded our table. And dinner was with some of my favorite people in the company. Plus the food and wine were fairly good.

Giant inflated balls loomed over the beach party Bash Summit afterparty.

After 4 days indoors, we were released to the Mandalay Bay's sandy outdoor beach for Summit Bash. The traditional conference party was held the final night of the entire event (Dev Day, Training Day, Partner Day, and 2 days of Summit, all crammed into the 4 days).

Whew. That was a long week.

I overextended my 48 hour rule for Vegas by 2x, and I was ready to go home.

Taking off, but not quite leaving Las Vegas.

The ride home was mostly uneventful. I was finally able to visit American Express' Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas' airport. And I can report that it's just as crowded as every other Centurion Lounge I've been to.

I realize they've limited access recently, but they really need to work on finding more space in these airports. They're a nice benefit, though it's difficult to enjoy when you can't find a seat or a power outlet. First world problems are tough 😔

Arriving in Los Angeles for a 30th birthday weekend celebration.

Less than 24 hours after landing, we were on our way to Los Angles for a friend's 30th birthday weekend. It wasn't a crazy weekend 😅. Just friends and their significant enjoying beer, wine, food, and conversations that meandered.

Our friend found an awesome winery located near Chinatown to host the occasion.

I was slightly skeptical at first, but Angelino Winery was impressive. Not only produces their wine in , but they source their grapes from Los Angeles County! And they really lean into Los Angeles' history as a wine producing city, dating back to the mid 1800's. In fact, Los Angeles Historic Park -- located right across the street from their facility -- was one of the first places to grow grapes for wine production in California. There's even a whole book about it 🍇 🍷 🥳

He looks great as a muppet.

A little over 24 hours after arriving in Los Angeles, we were on the road, making our way home. We flew in, and drove back. It's not my favorite drive, but it reminded me of the trips I used to take to LA to visit friends, right after I'd moved to San Francisco.

See you next week!

Week of November 26, 2018

Summary, or TL;DR.

TL;DR: Another week, another work trip. Following a successful Thanksgiving weekend, I flew off to São Paulo -- my second trip this year! The timing of this trip is more remarkable, considering I had previously never crossed the equator until the earlier trip in April.

In any event, this marked my final work trip of the year, and it was an unexpected delight.

Skipping town



Picking up on the last post, I started this week a day early. I had to leave town for work, to make it from San Francisco to São Paulo by Tuesday.

Fortunately, though I was traveling on a busy day, I made it to Brazil without any issues.

Unfortunately, I didn't get an upgrade crossing from SFO to IAD -- or for the more important IAD to GRU overnight flight -- so I was dead tired when I landed in São Paulo. Fortunately, the Renaissance Hotel knew I was arriving early (before noon), and I was able to check in.


Approaching São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport

Though I'd been to São Paulo just a few months prior, the approach into the city reminded me of San Francisco. The low clouds and foggy haze combined with the hills to remind me a bit of home.

I was smarter this time, and grabbed a taxi that could take the express lanes into the city. I was excited for a nap, and just a few moments away falling into a heavy nap, when a friend pinged me on Facebook Messenger. He was 3 blocks down the street.


I'd known Luis for many years -- all the way back to high school in Tampa. He eventually moved to DC after I'd moved there for college, and we had some overlapping circles of friends.

He now works for the Organization of American States, which is kind of like the United Nations, but focussed on JUST the Americas. We don't hear much about it in the United States, but the OAS is an important forum for Latin American countries to bring up economic, environmental, and human rights issues.

Luis noticed my check-in or post on Facebook, and pinged me. We didn't have much time, as he was on his way out of the country -- he'd come from Argentina the day before -- and had a day to explore São Paulo for his first time in Brazil.

With just about an hour before he needed to run to the airport, and me being incredibly groggy, we caught up on life over an espresso. Then he was off to Peru for more work, and I was off to crash for about 40 minutes before dinner.

Dinner was a feast. During my previous trip, a group of us spent an evening at D.O.M. -- one of the "World's 50 Best Restaurants" (number 30 this year) -- but right around the corner is a spot called Dalva e Dito, a sister restaurant to the famed D.O.M.

At a mere one Michelin Star, the food wasn't as over-the-top, and the experience wasn't as drawn out, as its famous counterpart. Instead, Dalva e Dito served very traditional Brazilian dishes with high quality ingredients and slightly smaller portions.

The meal was delicious, and I was ready to pass out.

Sleepy in São Paulo



I built in a one day buffer to acclimate and account for any travel delays. Getting to Brazil from San Francisco not long required a layover, and it required traveling on the busiest travel day of the year -- the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Tuesday was hardly a leisurely day. For one, the pool at the Renaissance was closed for resealing and remodeling work. So my Havaianas had to stay put :(

But more importantly, I had a chance to meet with our local Solutions Partner, e-Core Solutions, in their brand new, Atlassian-inspired office, near the Moema district.

Between the hour each way in Ubers, the meetings, and the buffet lunch, I saw a lot of the city, but didn't get a chance to explore much.

Drinking a refreshing Aperol Spritz at a cafe

I had one moment of solitude before two days of delivering training. I found a moment to step out of the hotel for a walk, and I found myself at a cafe. My original plan was to work, but I dropped that idea and just relaxed with an Aperol Spritz in hand.

The servers looked at me weird when I asked for an espresso, too, but we got past it.

After the quick reset and a quick sync with work, I was ready for dinner.

I can't recall the number of times Bráz Pizzaria came up in conversations about São Paulo, but it was on my list of places to try during this trip. Luckily for me, I have coworkers who can read my mind.

The food in São Paulo surprised me with its range and richness. Pizza is fairly standard fare in the US, but it's not what one might expect to be a staple in Brazil, where traditional ingredients aren't bread mozzarella cheese, and olives. Maybe it has something to do with Italian immigration to Brazil...

We ordered an "Italian Sausage Bread," two pizzas, and a salad. It was simple and delicious. One item I couldn't find on the menu, but I saw at a table -- Georgian Khachapuri. A flatbread dish with melted cheese cheese and an egg mixed in.

Not pictured above are two enormous side salads that complimented the Brazilian-style cheesy bread goodness.

Time to work



I wasn't in São Paulo for vacation, and two days of running training brought me right back to reality. The picture above was the only real photo I was able to take all day. It was a nice reminder that it was summer outside, and that I was in the heart of an incredible metropolis in an unfamiliar corner of the world.

The dual simultaneous Portuguese and Spanish translators that helped me during the training were another clear reminder of how far away from home I was.

Our partner meal was at Fogo de Chao, a restaurant I’ve never been to before. It was surprisingly good, and with unlimited grilled meats, salad bar, and drinks, in a semi-private space, it was a perfect fit for our group.



I wrapped up training with our Solutions Partners on Thursday afternoon. The week of conversations about ITSM and strategies for talking about Atlassian with customers had come to an end, and I'd be heading home in just a few hours -- my flight time was just before midnight.

My original plan was to join the rest of the team at an Atlassian User Group (AUG), being hosted not far from our hotel. But then it started to storm. I skipped the meet up, and went for a walk instead.

My friend, Luis, had suggested a coffee place he stopped by earlier in the week -- Catarina Coffee & Love. The little shop was nestled inside a boutique clothing shop on the very posh-feeling Rua Oscar Freire.

I spoke with the barista for a bit while sipping on a pour over. He told me about Brazil's coffee industry, and how different coffee producers are trying out different methods with their products, like fermenting their beans. I must have spent 40 minutes at the shop, just chatting about coffee and chocolate.

different coffee producers are trying out different methods with their products, like fermenting their beans.

Yes, chocolate came up. And my new friend had several chocolates to choose from (it was impressive, considering the small amount of space he was operating. He sold me on bringing back some experimental chocolates, made with beans harvested from wild cacao trees found in the Amazon.

He said the chocolate tasted like cheese. How could I resist?

Finally, a moment to rest...

Fortunately, one of the perks that comes from flying so much for work is the idea of upgrade certificates from United. They don't always work, but one came through at the last minute for the long redeye back to DC.

Ready for home



The second leg of my trip didn't include lie-flat seating, but I pretty much just passed out after running from one of the (still weird) Dulles Airport "mobile lounges," through Global Entry, grabbed my bag, re-checked it, ran to my gate, and hopped on my flight to San Francisco as boarding started -- all in under an hour.

I took a break from the nearly 20 hours in transit, from my hotel to San Francisco International Airport, by relaxing at United's (relatively) new Polaris Longe. Atlassian even greeted me with an ad for our newly-acquired product, Opsgenie, after I collected my luggage!

Overall, this trip was one of the more exhausting work excursions I had all year. The previous trip to São Paulo had a week in Buenos Aires, Argentina, attached to to the end, giving me something to look forward to before switching time zones again. Everything was also new, having never been South America before. But with this trip, I was ready to be home.



Relieved to be home for a few weeks, but also reflective of the travel I'd put in for the year, we caught a movie Saturday night. 


Back in the bay, we spent Saturday on a nice, long bike ride to Muir Beach. It was the first time in weeks that I was in town and the air quality wasn't poor from the fires near Chico.

By the late afternoon, the sky had a few scattered clouds. They were perfect for capturing the fleeting moments before sunset.

Travel Summary:

A hop, a skip and a jump.
From To Mileage
SFO IAD 2,419 mi
IAD GRU 4,737 mi
GRU IAD 4,737 mi
IAD SFO 2,419 mi
Total 14,311 mi

Week of October 29, 2018

The end of October, a wedding, and the start of an insane month of travel. Here's how I wrapped up October and welcomed November.

I kicked the week off with a delicious dinner at Pho 2000. It was Pho-nominal (as advertised).


The Atlassian office on Harrison closed (for good) on Tuesday, for our big move to 465 Pine St. With no office, I worked from home for most of the week. And my mobility dropped to walking within about 4 blocks of home.

Still, even with the sharp drop in daily steps, I managed to snap a photo of this random jet making its way around San Francisco's blue skies.


The end of October brought Halloween night. But a Wednesday night.

Still, San Francisco's inner geek decided to show off, with LED lights atop Salesforce Tower taking the form of the Eye of Sauron.


Next stop: Los Angeles.

Thursday night was the first of 5 flights over the following week.

SFO --> BUR for a wedding.

LAX --> ZRH --> AMS for work

AMS --> IAH --> SFO home.


On Friday, we woke up in Los Angeles, ready for a weekend of wedding festivities. I took in the view over eggs and coffee, before we headed off to Ojai.

We had clear skies, some well-placed fog, and some plane spotting in the distance. Happy fall.


Ojai was gorgeous. And the evening's sunset painted a beautiful backdrop for everyone's photos (including mine :)).


With the wedding weekend wrapped up, I was off to the airport.

I boarded the last Star Alliance flight out of LAX, headed to Amsterdam for a week of training our Atlassian Solution Partners for work (via Zurich). A last minute upgrade from Swiss Airlines made for an unexpected surprise.

I don't know how I lucked out, but thanks, Swiss!


Central Coasting

The Plan

For a second year in a row, I planned a destination Christmas with my family. Last year, we traveled to Munich, Germany, Salzburg, Austria, and Salisbury, England, to explore Christmas Markets and visit family living abroad.

This year, we decided to stay more local (at least for me), with a trip through California's Central Coast.

The enormous region stretches the coastal counties between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It isn't an official region, so maps may vary. But the area includes some of the most famous and dramatic coastal features of California, and the biggest stretches of the Pacific Coast Highway that hug mountains that rise out of the ocean.


From Wikivoyage. Definitions may vary.


While our original plans involved the epic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, the route remained closed (from mud slides) at a pivotal point along the drive.

From "Big Sur Chamber of Commerce"

Instead, we skipped the long roadtrip and decided to settle into Paso Robles for the week leading up to Christmas. Situated almost exactly in between San Francisco and Los Angeles, we found a home base in the heart of the Central Coast. The plan was to explore vineyards and sites in the region.

Paso itself is a quiet town, surrounded by a growing wine country. Of the 300+ wineries in the Paso Robles AVA, we hit up 8, while visiting small breweries and exploring the coast nearby. Below are the highlights from the trip :)

Escaping the City

The first step in getting to Paso Robles was getting out of San Francisco. Per my usual complicated travel logistics, I planned to leave for Warsaw on Christmas Day from Los Angeles, so my escape wouldn't include a round trip car return. We had travel options, from taking Amtrak's four and a half hour ride to downtown Paso Robles, flying from SFO, or driving the full distance.

Ultimately, because we would need a car to get to wineries, we settled on picking up a car from Walnut Creek (and avoiding airport surcharges) and driving south from there.

But first I had to get to my East Bay rendezvous point.



About an hour later, I reached the end of the BART line at Dublin-Pleasanton station. I'd traversed tunnels and mountains, and I was outside the confines of my peninsular home.



The end of the line #pleasanton #sfbayarea #ca

A post shared by Nick Thulin (@nickthulin) on Dec 18, 2017 at 10:37pm PST


After a quick lunch at Lazy Dog in Dublin, we finally hit the road to Paso Robles. With little traffic and no stops, we made it to the VRBO rental in time to go grocery stopping. I was at home with my family with no hassle of airports during the peak travel season.

We've arrived

There are many people more qualified to talk about the details of Paso Robles' wine country, its grapes, various soil types, and the 11 viticultural areas within the AVA, so I won't venture down that path in this post.

We visited 6 wineries -- Niner, Justin, Ancient Peaks, Hearst RanchDaou, Donati, Proulx (pronounced PRU), and Shale Oak -- and 4 craft breweries and tasting rooms. That's a lot of booze in a week.

But as we explored the region during the week, we found that the wineries and beer are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the region has to offer.




Starting with wine

We started our wine adventure off at Niner. We spent nearly 3 hours on the property between the tasting room and touring their facilities. They run a very technology-advanced operation with really impressive facilities, but still produce relatively small batches of wine.



A heart on the hillside 💚 #pasorobles #ca

A post shared by Nick Thulin (@nickthulin) on Dec 20, 2017 at 8:41am PST


After the long, extended tour at Niner, we made our way to Justin to end day one. There was no tour or nearly-ready wine tasting, no extended story about how Justin rose to prominence in the region. We just sat outside under the canopy of the tasting room and enjoyed the sunset into the fog rolling in from the Pacific Coast.


Exploring the coast

After a day of drinking at vineyards, it was time for a break. And what better way to enjoy California's central coast than to visit the Elephant Seals in San Simeon?



Taking it easy #nature #ca

A post shared by Nick Thulin (@nickthulin) on Dec 21, 2017 at 3:39pm PST


These enormous creatures make weird noises and mostly just lie on the beach, basking in the California sun. But in the winter months, they become more active. That's when the seals give birth to (relatively tiny pups (which we saw) and mate (which we did not see), so they was a lot of activity on the beach all morning.


We spent over an hour at the lookout spot. The seals went from lazy to playful and back again. But most of them just sat there on the beach.




I couldn't help taking photos nearly every moment the seals moved. This particularly large male was lying on the beach doing nothing for most of the visit, then got up and started making a ton of noise. He then went back to his previous resting state.

Meanwhile, the smaller seal in the background slowly made its way to the water.

Again, nothing really happened, but they kept us entertained.



Coasting further south

After we watched the elephant seals (do mostly nothing) for over an hour, we headed south to the small coastal community of Morro Bay.

Morro Bay is known for the giant Morro Rock, prominently situated at the entrance to the city's harbor. The rock is one of several volcanic plugs that surge out of California's coast and contribute to its nearly boundless geological diversity.

We grabbed lunch at a restaurant called The Galley, hugging the bay, and overlooking the giant rock. Morro is a great stop along the coast, as there are several restaurants that jut out into the water with unimpeded views of the rock. And most of them are fairly good with fresh fish and seasonal ingredients.

Morro Rock

After wrapping up lunch at Morro Bay, we headed back north to San Simeon, just short of where the elephant seals spot.

There isn't much in San Simeon today. There never really was much to the town, as it historically supported communities of whalers with a convenience store. But William Hearst supported one incarnation of San Simeon, and its wharf, which also supplied the enormous Hearst Castle about a mile inland.

Today that store houses the Hearst Ranch Winery Tasting Room. Which was our next stop, before literally crossing the street for a sunset tour of Hearst Castle.

After tasting a few reds, we made our way across the street to the Hearst Castle visitor center, where we caught our bus into the mountain estate.

The tour was brisk, and I didn't bring a tripod. So my outdoor photos suffered from my shaking (and freezing) hands and lack of time to find a good angle. But the sunset behind the marine layer lit the sky up in orange, and the building became a warm refuge from the harsh, freezing winds whipping the mountain.

Overall, the tour was a nice addition to their normal daytime offerings. But I would recommend visiting during the spring through fall months to experience Hearst Castle at its best.

The main outdoor attraction, the grandiose Neptune Pool, was empty and covered in scaffolding for off-season renovations. And the evening tour didn't allow for visitors to walk around and explore the property. On a previous visit I'd been able to spend a lot of time wandering around outside after the tour.

But once we stepped inside, we were treated to Christmas decorations and stories about William Hearst's favorite time of year to host guests at his mansion. This is where this tour really shined.

We snaked around the rooms of the castle until ending up in the theater, where we watched a clip of Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds singing "White Christmas" from the film Holiday Inn.

I was ready for bed, but we had to trek back down the hill (it's about 20 minutes each way), then drive back to Paso. Thankfully no wineries were open, or I'm sure we would have found another testing :)

Back to the beach

The next day we headed to Pismo Beach, just one community further down the coast from Morro Bay. But before we could get there, we stopped at Ancient Peaks, to sample wines from their unique array of soils.

Ancient Peaks is among my favorite wineries in California. They have unique soils that feature soil rich in calcium from an ancient oyster bed that was thrust up from the Pacific over time. Though the tasting room wasn't on their property, their staff was incredibly knowledgeable about how the different flavors and affects the soil, moisture and climate affect their wines.

I wanted to return for their ugly sweater contest later that evening, but, alas, we had to get going.

The approach to Pismo Beach less awe-inspiring than Morro Bay, and the city and its surrounding towns is more built-up, with hotels, condos and single family homes sprawling across its stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Pismo is known for its beaches and clams -- Pismo hosts an annual clam festival each October. While there are surfers and hotels all over Pismo Beach, the area is nice and bustling with activity, but not fancy or extravagant, maintaining roots as a getaway for working class families in nearby Los Angeles.



Here, I took a long walk on the beach with my family. We made it down to the tips of the sand dunes, where there's usually a lot of ATV activity. Then we grabbed a beer at Pismo Brewing's tap room, located just a few blocks from the beach.

For the last stop for the day, we found ourselves watching sunset at Avila Beach, yet another small coastal community along the Central Coast.

Avila Beach was by far the most upscale area we encountered, and it is filled with relatively new wine bars and restaurants overlooking San Luis Obispo Bay (and its three piers). Though the development hid its messy 20th century past.



There goes the sun 🌞 #Avila #ca

A post shared by Nick Thulin (@nickthulin) on Dec 21, 2017 at 5:38pm PST


Like much of what became the State of California, the Avila Beach area was first developed by Europeans as Mexican land grant from the kingdom of Spain. Named Rancho San Miguelito, and granted to Miguel Ávila, the land where Avila Beach stands today was developed after California became a part of the United States. And as the major port for San Luis Obispo, Avila Beach became a leisure destination for Angelenos to the south and San Franciscans to the north by the late 1800s century.

The region had a mixed record following World War II as California's oil economy developed and a nuclear power plant was built just a few miles up the coast.

After decades of energy production, and subsequent oil cleanup efforts, Avila Beach's economy became mostly tourism-driven.

The economic boom saw many working-class and highly-skilled employees locate to the region, but the oil company hid contamination from an oil spill that led to a major excavation of homes and businesses decades later. The Diablo Canyon Power Plant never suffered a meltdown, but took a political hit after the Fukushima meltdown in 2011.

We hardly recognized the presence of oil production -- until we drove up the prominent hill and saw Chevron's logo splattered across the fencing.

Regardless of the darker parts of its recent past, Avila Beach seemed to have recovered from the oil spill. The new water-front shops and decades-old piers draw visitors and locals to the expansive beach, and make for incredibly scenic sunsets.


After sunset, we found ourselves at another brewery, Central Coast Brewing, where my parents made friends with the brewer's wife. And then eventually the brewer himself.

I was the DD, so I only had a few sips. But their beer was really well crafted with complex flavors.

Unfortunately that was about my only option for tasting, as their beers don't travel very far, even to San Francisco. The brewery they only distributes directly, so they tend to stay within relatively small footprint around the Central Coast.

We ended the evening with a traditional Santa Maria-style barbecue dinner at Firestone Grill in downtown San Luis Obispo. Though a bit of it tourist trap, Firestone makes a mean BBQ tri-tip sandwich that always hits the spot.

Back to wine

After two days of sights and scattered wine tasting away from the vineyards, we were back with a vengeance for another round of exploring vineyards.

This time, we made our way to Daou, revisited Niner for lunch, and finished the day at Donati.



Fire up the pit #pasorobles #ca

A post shared by Nick Thulin (@nickthulin) on Dec 22, 2017 at 7:22pm PST


At Daou, we could see part of the smokey haze drift into the nearby valleys. The view was beautiful, though very brown due to the unseasonably dry winter weather.



Niner's food menu didn't disappoint -- their kitchen was rated one of the best winery food options in the country. And Donati was surprisingly comfortable and unimposing, with its smaller operation and family history literally posted on the walls.

The patriarch of the Donati family was an Italian immigrant, and his story is shared throughout the tasting room from an his ship manifest to the names of the wines themselves.

We had a very full round of wine tasting, and we even made time to sample some very good -- though very expensive -- olive oil.

It's a wrap

As Christmas approached, our time in Paso came to a close. The days were short, the season cold, and shops started to close early in the lead-up to the big day.

We had also slowed down, and we started our final day in Paso walking around the town square and ducking in and out of boutique shops in the heart of the city. Inevitably, we found something to drink before noon at the Santa Maria Brewery tap room (and restaurant).



This is my life, but not exactly my choices #drinking #pasorobles #ca

A post shared by Nick Thulin (@nickthulin) on Dec 23, 2017 at 12:57pm PST


With one drink down, we were off!

We pulled into Proulx, and spent the next hour and a half talking with the wine maker and his wife. They were city-dwelling east coasters who fell in love with the land in Paso, and took to building their winery on land that happened to have some old Zinfandel vines that predated their purchase.

Proulx's wines were full of flavor, though I missed several tastings because of the energetic conversation.

A band was playing when we pulled into Shale Oak, and the tasting room opened to a cozy outdoor space with a small stage. The space was lively, with the winery's dog roaming around and people bundled up and singing a long to the cover band.



Final vineyard of the Christmas season #pasorobles #ca

A post shared by Nick Thulin (@nickthulin) on Dec 23, 2017 at 9:15pm PST


The week flew by, and it was nearly Christmas. As the weekend hit, we'd reached the end of our wine adventure along the Central Coast.

There were lots of sights, sounds, and, above all, booze, to enjoy along the way, but it was time to venture further south toward Los Angeles -- where our next adventure awaited us.

The Map

[wpgmza id="4"]


January 1, 2018

Lazy Monday

It was New Years Day in Warsaw, and like many places around the world, most things were closed for the day. So after a lazy start to the day, we found our way to the Neon Muzeum, just a few blocks from our Airbnb.

I was expecting the museum to be like the Color Factory and Museum of Ice Cream Instagram hotspots that have been popping up lately, but the space was an actual museum, dedicated to keeping the story of Warsaw's neon signs alive.



Neon, neon #waw

A post shared by Nick Thulin (@nickthulin) on Jan 1, 2018 at 11:16pm PST


If you find yourself in Warsaw, I recommend checking out the space. You can definitely take a ton of photos, but the museum part was fairly impressive.

The museum does a fantastic job talking about the artistic impact that neon signs had on Warsaw in the 20th century, and how the Soviet-backed communist government came to reconcile the artistic nature of the sign while keeping the population in line with communist ideals.



The neon red light shines so bright #neon #neonmuseum #waw

A post shared by Nick Thulin (@nickthulin) on Jan 1, 2018 at 12:43pm PST



She’s always buzzing like #neon #neonmuseum #waw

A post shared by Nick Thulin (@nickthulin) on Jan 1, 2018 at 11:20pm PST

More photos from the museum:



Sanctuary in a food hall

New Years Day ended less eventfully than it started. The whole day was less eventful than New Years Eve the day before.

With so many places closed in the city, we found a food hall open near the central part of town. The space was reminiscent of San Francisco's Ferry Building, Copenhagen Street Food, or LA's Grand Central Market. We grabbed some very traditional Polish Indian food and a cocktail at the central bar afterwards.



Post holiday liver fix #newyear #newliver #waw

A post shared by Nick Thulin (@nickthulin) on Jan 1, 2018 at 12:49pm PST


With New Years over, vacation was slowly coming to a close, and we'd soon head back to the states -- where work and obligations were starting to pile up.

Mapping it out

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