Monday, January 22, 2018

Fuller's: The Sanctuary House Hotel London

The Sanctuary House Hotel London

 A Room with a View!
What lovely views we had from our room at The Sanctuary House Hotel!!  I absolutely loved sitting and watching the people and traffic below as well as gazing at the beautiful London buildings while enjoying my complementary Fuller's Ale.  The room was complete with new and upscale fixtures as well as the coziest bed.  

Fuller's Pub & Dining Experience
When you visit Central London you want a real 'pub experience' - and the Sanctuary House Hotel can offer you just that.  Fuller's Kitchen as taken classic pub food, upped the quality, and brought it to your table.  From delicious, upscale appetizers to Fuller's take on classic pies our dinner did not disappoint.  Truffle Mac & Cheese Balls were our favorite starter, which we then followed up with a fantastic Ale and Pie Board - which paired Fuller's classic and delicious ales with innovative an tasty pies.  With fillings like traditional State & Ale, Wild Game, and even Duck & Cranberry there is a pie for everyone's taste (vegetarian options too!).  This was followed by one of the best Sticky Toffee Puddings of the trip!

Now, this IS Fuller's - so you know there must be something about the beer!
From Classic Real Ales to creative Draft selections - Fuller's has it all.  I couldn't pass up a cask pour of London Pride or ESB (and so I didn't) and the Honey Dew Golden Ale on draft was refreshing and crisp.  With several Fuller's options (both on tap and bottle) as well as a nice selection of imports (Sierra Nevada IPA!) the Fuller's Pub has got it all.

Pint and Pie Sampler
Sticky Toffee Pudding

Breakfast is Served!
Continental Breakfast complete with fruit, yogurt, cereal and pastries
Full English Breakfast
Poached eggs on bacon and toast

You know what they say.."Location! Location! Location!" Sanctuary House Hotel had just this.  We were absolutely floored when we walked out of the hotel to discover Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the London Eye right down the road.  Within 10 minutes of walking we had seen all three of these iconic London Landmarks.  Oh, and did I mention if you walk 10 minutes in the opposite direction you run into Buckingham Palace??  Wowza!!  

Overall, our stay with The Sanctuary House Hotel was an amazing and unforgettable experience.  Not only were the accommodations great but the food and location were ideal for anyone looking to plan a stay in London!  We highly recommend a stay at The Sanctuary House Hotel for anyone wanting an amazing experience!

Find Them HERE for more information and booking!


Jason & Kristine

*Our stay was sponsored by Sanctuary House Hotel but all opinions are our own!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Golden Days Brewfest

Golden Days Brewfest

Saturday, September 16th 2017Santa Fe Ski Basin

 Raise a glass!  We had an amazing time at Ski Santa Fe's First Annual 'Golden Days Brewfest'.  With 10 Breweries on hand there was plenty of great beer flowing and quite an impressive turn out.  The event was well organized and the weather was perfect - sunny, but with a cool breeze - great hoodie temp!  Oh, and did I mention that all of this was situated in the heart of the Santa Fe Ski Basin?  At 10,000 feet?  With the aspens just beginning to turn golden and a sky so very blue I am not sure what more one could ask for from a beer event.

The New Mexican Breweries in attendance we simply AWESOME.  Dialogue Brewing was a stand-out, as normal.  With a Raspberry Sour, Berliner-wise, Belgian Single (w/ Golden Raisins), and a knock out Lager they were most certainly one of our favorites on the day.  One of our usual festival favorites, Second Street Brewery was also in attendance.  Their 'Summer Days Sour' was Kristine's favorite brew of the day and the Foreign Extra Stout was one of mine.  Boxing Bear was a big hit with their Uppercut IPA and (GABF Gold) Milk Chocolate Stout; at too was La Cumbre with the debut of their Oktoberfest.  Chili Line was back in action with their lineup of Rauchbeers and we really enjoyed a strong showing from Broken Trail Spirits + Brew(holy cow, the Moscow Mule on tap!) and Bloody Maria(hands down one of the best mixes I have had).

It worked out wonderfully that my folks could be in town from Arkansas and go to a beer event with us.  There were so many wonderful people that we met throughout the day.  Sharing a pint with a stranger, nothing in common but the love of beer, is an absolute joy.  Give it ago!

 Santa Fe Ski likes their SiliPints.  These fun, colorful pint glasses made from silicone are just great for hitting the trail or shredding the hill.  At this festival they had a true rainbow of colors, I was just so inspired that I simply had to take a picture.

Kristine took one for the team - she was out DD for the day.  Picture is her enjoying her one and only pint.  Thanks Kristine for getting us all home safe!

We met some of our friends from the Ski Pajarito at the festival.  They will be hosing UllrFest next week on Saturday, September 23rd!

My dad LOVES La Cumbre!

Drink the Rainbow.

So very excited to be bringing you beer festival content and stay tuned for UllrFest - coming to a blog near you. 
Get out there and explore the world (of beer)!

Cheers! - Jason (@jrutled)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Costa Rica Part 2: Monteverde

 Our stay in Monteverde was spectacular!

We stayed a total of two days, 3 nights right on the outskirts of town in a super cute Airbnb cabin rented to us by two charming brothers who are local night hike tour guides in the area.  Upon arriving, they set us up with our Organic Coffee Farm tour - Cafe San Luis (they arranged for a van to come pick us up and take us to San Luis for the tour)!  They were also nice enough to alert us to a wild 2-toed sloth in the area!

 Monteverde (Santa Elena) is such a cute little town, only slightly touristy due to it being a prime zip-lining location in Costa Rica.  Although the town center is small, it is loaded with cafe's, pastry shops, restaurants and souvenir shops. 

Our time in Monteverde Included:

Day 1: Organic Coffee Farm Tour
Day 2: Hiking in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Besides these two activities, we also frequented Beso Espresso for our morning coffee fix. Monteverde also ended up being where we did the majority of our souvenir was the cheapest town for souvenir items we came across during our time in Costa Rica. 

We happened upon a craft brewery here in Monteverde...the one and only brewery we encountered on our trip.  The "Monteverde Beer House" had a nice selection of beer and also had pretty amazing Mediterranean food. 

Below I have added a few photos from the town center of Santa Elena....

One of my favorite things about this small town was the amount of beautiful murals located around just about every corner!

Getting our Espresso Fix @ Beso Espresso

Day 1: Coffee Farm Tour
Our Organic Coffee Farm tour was a very memorable part of our trip.  It is one of the last remaining purely organic coffee farms in Costa Rica.  We learned so much about the process the coffee beans go through to get to that end product.  Being a coffee fanatic, it was such a cool experience to actually see a working coffee farm! The farm we visited was Cafe San Luis in San Luis (pictured below).  (appx. $30 US per person)

Organic coffee plant

 Learning about the process of removing the layers of the coffee beans

Pictured below are the views coming out of the San Luis Valley.  It was STEEP - do not attempt unless you have 4-wheel drive (luckily we had the van to come take us to the farm and back)!

Day 2: Hiking in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

No, we didn't do the hanging bridges...but yes, there was a hanging bridge on our hike!
When planning our trip to the Cloud Forest, I was like "Wow, I must do these hanging bridges!"....after seeing how much it actually costs, I quickly took it off the list of things to do.  The  hike had it's own hanging bridge and was gorgeous - that feeling of being in the clouds, the moisture on your face..ah, so refreshing!  Once we made it to the overlook (pictured below) we could see how surrounded by clouds we actually were. It was amazing just to sit and watch these clouds move quickly through the trees. (entrance fee approx $20 US per person)

 Hanging bridge..
 Photos from the hike...

 The overlook of the cloud forest 

The Road to Monteverde...
If you have done any research on Monteverde, you have probably come across the many articles and blog posts that mention the rough road getting there.  I had so much anxiety about this road, having rented a small, compact car.  I kept having these visions of being stuck in a ditch with no cell service in the pouring rain! After doing tons of research on this matter, I decided that taking the slightly longer route from La Fortuna (Hwy 606 from the South ) would be the best bet.  Every post I read said "do not drive this road during the not drive this road at not drive this road without 4-wheel drive".  Well, guess what...I drove this road in at the rain....with a 2-wheel drive, low clearance car!  I wouldn't recommend doing this, but it can be done if necessary! 

 If you don't have much experience driving on dirt roads, renting 4-wheel drive may be the way to go.  It is steep, with lots of pot holes and large rocks and is a good hour drive of unpaved pothole/boulder dodging.

 When chatting with the locals about our drive in, we were reassured that hwy 606 from the South was the better route to drive in our small car.  So, if in doubt, drive in from the South!

Other Local Attractions:
The Monteverde Butterfly Gardens 
The Hanging Bridges
Coffee, Chocolate or Sugarcane Tours
Birding Watching (try and find the Quetzal!)
Of Course...Zip-lining! 

Travel Tip: Want to eat cheap in Costa Rica?
Instead of going for the touristy or more popular restaurants, try out the local places!  They will be called "Sodas" and have amazing local food for much, much cheaper than the alternative. Average meal will run you between $5-10 US and it is normally a TON of food. 

Enjoy your trip to Monteverde and feel free to ask me anything!


P.S. 2-toed Sloth!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Costa Rica Part 1: Arrival and La Fortuna


     Once stepping foot in Costa Rica we were picked up at the airport by our car rental company, Adobe Car Rentals, which I strongly recommend as we ended up with zero hidden fees and no complications whatsoever.  While making our way to the rental company in the shuttle bus I couldn't help but to start feeling nervous about driving in the chaotic city traffic - don't expect the locals to follow any of the posted traffic signs or traffic rules!  Luckily, once we made it out of the main city area things calmed down quite a bit.
Travel Tips: 

1. Download Offline Maps and download the map of Costa Rica before your trip if you want to save money by not renting a GPS.  Offline Maps was a life saver and worked just about every time!
2. Maps will give you a drive time when traveling from one destination to the next - most highways are windy two-lane roads so don't expect the drive time shown to be accurate.
3. Costa Rica has a ton of one lane bridges - don't assume the person with the yield sign is going to yield!
4. Do not expect to see very many street signs.  Most directions I received were navigated by landmarks (which is another reason why offline maps saved my butt - I could type in the destination and it would get me there).
5. The locals are very nice and helpful.  If you are lost, they will try and help get you directions. Opt to stop and ask inside a store versus asking someone alongside the road (Advice from our Adobe rental guy).

Traveling to La Fortuna: 
     Upon arriving in Costa Rica and being handed the keys to a rental car, we made our way towards our first destination, La Fortuna by way of Poas Volcano (which was closed due to volcanic activity) to explore the town and do some hiking around Arenal Volcano National Park.

The drive was windy, yet beautiful, lush and green with rivers and waterfalls, scenic overlooks of rolling hills and valleys.

 Roadside Waterfall near Poas
Valley View at our first stay: Tiquicia Lodge

      Getting to La Fortuna from Poas took us around 5 hours of drive time (GPS said 3) due to winding two lane roads, rain and getting stuck behind trucks.  We stayed at an Airbnb on an Organic Farm around 15 minutes drive from the town of La Fortuna.  It was an easy drive in and out of the town from our place.  

What to do in La Fortuna: 

  • Shop and sight-see around the town.  There are many souvenir shops around the town as well as a very pretty city center park area to explore. 
  •  Hike in Arenal National Park.  We hiked the "Old Lava Trail" which gave us a close view of Arenal Volcano as well as getting to hike through the lava flow areas from the 1992 eruption (see picture below).  Most hikes cost a fee per person- ours was $10 a person for the "Old Lava Trail". 
  • Soak in the natural hot springs.  There are many free hot springs you can soak, however there are also more luxurious places to soak.  We had the chance to experience The Springs Resort and Spa which was a jaw-dropping location with amazing views to take in while soaking up the minerals.  
  • Wildlife Tours.  We also took a wildlife sanctuary tour at Club Rio which is part of The Springs Resort.  Club Rio has many different activities you can schedule - horseback riding, tubing, kayaking, rock climbing. -See photos and more info below-
  • Extreme & Adrenaline Tours. Anything from zip-lining and rafting to repelling down a waterfall. 

Old Lava Hike in Arenal National Park: 
 View of Arenal Volcano

We started mid-day and trekked through the rainforest.  This hike starts and ends with a swinging bridge over a very pretty river (pictured below) that made for a fun photo opportunity.   We walked into the rainforest and immediately got a taste of nature when some very loud-flying, parrot-type birds few over our heads making some odd chirping noises.  From there we hiked up a few inclines crossing a path of leaf-cutter ants and taking a few pictures of different types of lizards until we came to a clearing with the Arenal Volcano view pictured above.  This is about as close as you can get to Arenal Volcano and the views were astounding.   We continued back into the rainforest where we came across some spider monkeys playing in the trees and making their way from one tree to the next.  We continued to cross lava flow areas from the 1992 eruption (pictured below) until we got to the end of our loop.  Overall, it was a fun and memorable experience. 

 Lava Flow from 1992 Eruption
 Hike complete with Swinging Bridge!
 The hike cost $10 per person and took around 2 hours to complete (we stopped and took lots of photos- could be done faster).  It was VERY humid so dress light and take plenty of water.  We saw many different types of birds, lizards as well as some spider monkeys during our hike so be on the lookout for wildlife! I would say this hike is moderate as it does have some steep inclines as well as some scrambling around in the lava rocks but is a fairly short distance. 

The Springs Resort and Spa & Club Rio Wildlife Sanctuary

In the wildlife sanctuary we encountered monkeys, a two-toed sloth, toucans, alligators, as well as the big cats- cougars, ocelot, ect. 

My favorite moments at The Springs took place in the pool pictured above.  Not only was the pool the perfect temperature but it also had the most amazing view of Arenal Volcano.  We were able to grab some pretty amazing margaritas and enjoy the view while sipping away.  This place is true magic! 

The Springs Resort & Spa was featured on the television show The Bachelor in 2011 and it is easy to see why!  The first hour or so we were all speechless as we took it all in. The Springs has a swim-up bar, five different restaurants, a large selection of different hot springs pools all over the hillside at different temperatures and they even had a mineral spring water slide (which I totally utilized).  

La Fortuna Eats:
  • My Coffee - pretty much our favorite coffee of the trip and being that I was traveling with 2 baristas, that's saying a lot!
  • We opted for typical 'tico' restaurants while in Costa Rica.  These are restaurants that are labeled "Soda", often have a variety of options, and are much cheaper than the more touristy restaurants.  We went to Restaurante Rana Roja and La Parada (recommended by a local), both of which had great food at lower prices. 

Any questions are welcome - 



*Thank you to The Springs Resort and Spa for partnering with me during this trip.  All opinions are my own.