We have found that one of our favorite ways to be introduced to a new city is by roaming its streets on a bike. There's no better way to see a large unknown area in a short amount of time, than to follow someone who knows the way.
We've done several bike tours around the world. We love the quick crash corse in history, architecture, culture and politics that you get while rolling along on popular avenues, alleys and parks. Stopping along the way at places you would have normally walked on by.
While in Bogota we used Bogota Bike Tours. It's store front is centrally located in the La Candelabra area which is where you are definitely going to while in Bogota.
While Bogota isn't anywhere near the top of my list for top travel destinations and you will never hear me say "You have got to see Bogota! It's amazing!" Bogota is raw and gritty and not necessarily beautiful, but if you look closely, you can marvel at it's sheer magnitude and the transformation it's undergoing into a cosmopolitan city.
It's still worth a quick stop if you're in the neighborhood.
Going to Tuscany?
Going to stay in San Gimignano?
Going to drink some wine?
Of course you are.
Let me offer a recommendation for the a fantastic wine tour through Chianti. I did hours of research online, looking for a private wine tour for our group of 8 that could pick us up from the ridiculously beautiful town of San Gimignano where we were staying. Many of the full day tours I found start and end in Florence. Then a friend was given a recommendation for TuscanyEX and were offered everything we hoped for.
TuscanyEX offers much more then wine tours as it turns out. They offer cooking classes, cullinary tours, truffle hunts, saffron picking, dairy tours (I asume cheese is going to be involved) and many more. You can even request your own specialized tour.
Our guide was the beautiful Claudia Margheri from TuscanyEX. She picked us up right outside the front door of our hotel, Literally. (Hotel La Cisterna. Stay here!!! It's truly wonderful) We were fortunate to make a last minute reservation with her and because of several wine and food festivals happening in the area (late September), she customized a day tour for us to keep us away from the crowds.
Coming to Capri seems to be on everyones bucket list of travel destinations. It was definitely on mine. But when I finally got there, I was quickly overwhelmed by the tsunami of humanity that swelled along the Marina Grande. You could hardly see 3 feet in front of you through the backpacks and selfie sticks. Some good friends told me of one of the many beautiful hikes to do on the island that would get us away from the crowds and allow you that sense of peace and beauty you were envisioning during your planning.
The hike up to Villa Jovis will give you exactly this.
Just got home from a super fun and adventurous weekend.
My girlfriend, Tish, surprised her boyfriend, Andy, with a couple of days wine tasting in Paso Robles for his birthday.
What made this so special, besides getting tickets to the Justin Isosceles Release Party, was our accommodations. Tish worked with Tinker Tin Trailer Company and got special permission to camp out on the property of Justin Winery, a first for them.
If you're ever in the Central Coast of California and looking for some vintage camper trailers, tents or tipis, check Tinker Trailer out.
We kept talking about how fantastic it would be to be sitting under some Redwoods or on a cliff looking out towards the ocean in these campers. These little gems truly put you in a nostalgic mood.
We have The Amazing Race to thank for this trip. No, we weren't contestants but we do like watching it. While laying on the couch at home watching the episode where they were racing through the oldest desert in the world and climbing up the largest dunes on the planet, I thought "yup, going there." I pretty much just told my husband where he was going. "Okay" is always his answer.
So now we're getting good at this self drive and trekking thing.
Driving through New Zealand, then the Ring Road in Iceland and now through the remote wonders of Namibia. Trekking gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda and now setting our sights on trekking rhinos on foot. It seems to me our adventures are getting more and more ambitious. I can't imagine what our next one will be! Probably tracking Martians on Mars.
We've been on several safaris before, but this time we were looking for something different and a bit more challenging. Boy did we get it.
I gotta say, this type of safari isn't for everyone. It's a trip where you must commit to the distance. You need to love being on the road for hours and hours, and then a few more hours.
I have a lot of friends who would have hated this trip. Firstly, living on the west coast, it's going to take you days just to get to your starting off point, which for us was the capital city of Windhoek in Namibia.
Namibia is a huge country. It's the size of two California's put together and the distances between the most popular sites are vast to say the least. We knew this going in but once you're driving on dirt roads, on the left side of the road, in the right side of the vehicle with a left hand manual shift, the distances seem much further than what they appear on your map.
I for one, love a good road trip and for us, this was king of road trips.
I planned this trip with the help of Dori Peterson at Cadence Travel and Wilderness Safaris.
You could try to plan an adventure like this by yourself, but I wouldn't recommend it. There are too many fine details that would be missed. We were given everything we needed to know before we even left the States.
Having said that, renting a camper truck like the ones through KEA are very popular. The majority of the vehicles on the road were these adventurous folks headed from campsite to campsite. I like a bit more glamping in my adventures.
I have developed a habit of planning trips based on amazing hotels and resorts I've seen in magazines like Conde Nast, Travel and Leisure or Afar. I see them, tear the pages out, tape them to the wall and proclaim "I am sooo going there one day!" I have to remind myself that traveling usually isn't about where you sleep but more so the adventures and experiences you have in a new place.
Having said that, this was one of those trips that surrounded two resorts I have been coveting for years.
My husband and I always like to go somewhere new and wonderful for our anniversaries.
Francis Ford Coppola has several resorts that have been taped on my wall for a very long time. So I pulled the travel trigger and booked 4 nights each at Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn in Belize.
I spent months researching my much anticipated trip to Iceland in April of 2015. I knew it would be a good time to go. The weather would be getting warmer. The days would be getting longer. Most tourists would still be waiting a few more months to pack their bags. The chances of seeing the Northern Lights would be likely. I had every detail of every day written down. The places to sleep, sites to see, places to eat and the milage in-between destinations. The amount of time I spent on Pinterest blogs and looking trough travel books had me confident of a effortless mindless trip.
Does anything ever go exactly as planned? Of course not! And rightly so. What's an adventure without a few hiccups?
I read of a saga about the Berserkers of Iceland. These were warriors who fought in a nearly uncontrollable trance like fury and underdressed for battle. They were known for wearing only bear skin pelts. Hardly enough protection in my opinion. They gave rise to the word berserk (erupt in a furious rage). I'm pretty sure we experienced this once or twice during our trip due to situations out of our control. Best laid plans and such.
It's now something that also made this trip even more memorable.
I want to share our 9 night, 10 day itinerary through Iceland, traveling along the Ring Road as a sample of what your trip can be like.
I searched for the perfect itinerary to follow and found that there isn't one. You have to make it yourself.
Here is what our route looked like.
I won't even say how many times I've been back here. I can't help it. It's fantastically wonderful!
This time it was to celebrate a very important milestone for two of my very good friends who feel the same way I do about Paris.
My buddies Scott and Milo were both turning 50 and we couldn't think of a better excuse to be in Paris than to celebrate their birthdays in our favorite city.
We found the perfect apartment in the perfect neighborhood through VRBO. Never again will I stay in a hotel in Paris when you can stay in a beautiful 17th-century carriage house in the heart of the Marais.
What made this trip even better was that I had a friend who is literally commuting from Paris to San Diego for work and it happened to be perfect timing. Justin was going to be in Paris the same time we were.
Even better, their apartment was a 5 minute walk from where we were staying.
Justin and Casey Chiotti sold all their worldly possessions last year to fulfill a dream of living in Paris while Casey builds her career of becoming a writer. This was the perfect move for the two of them and I will admit that they are living my fantasy life.
I'm so excited for them!
I was lucky enough, to be liked enough, to be asked to go on a super quick California adventure by my buddies Tish and Andy. Wine tasting in Paso Robles and camping under massive Redwoods in Big Sur.
After making sure I could borrow camping gear from my buddies at work, the answer was a question "when do we leave?"
When you're the owners of an awesome vanagon, it's your duty to cruise the states in it and bring your friends along. It's the perfect mode of transportation and has plenty of room for shenanigans in the back during those long hours of getting from A to B.
At it again!
I gave the excuse of "finding a good deal" to get us to an island we haven't yet been to.
I used Luxury Link AGAIN to find us the perfect place to stay for our 6th wedding anniversary.
We stayed at the charming Beach House in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.
Our week was spent doing absolutely nothing! I felt like we turned into water zombies. Floating in the warm turquoise waters, watching the clouds above with nothing substantial or meaningful in our heads. I was able to leave all the stress and anxiety of reality boxed up in a tiny section in the back of my brain.
It was a much needed mental reboot.
BEST DAY EVER!
On New Years Day I was surprised by my husband and my friend Tish to a fantastically fun outing! They rented electric bikes from Pedego in Carlsbad, Ca.
Pedego offers electric and pedal bike sales, rentals, tours and service.
And this time with the family.
The first time Mike and I came to Cabo Azul Resort and Spa I told him we would be coming back and we would be bringing everyone we knew. This was stay #4 and the hotel is now better than ever. Weeks before we got here they finally opened the new lobby. It now has that wow factor that makes you squirm in anticipation as the welcome team explains the Monarch Resort Time Share possibilities. It's all I can do to tell them "NO!" over and over again, that we don't want to sit through a timeshare presentation. We just want to get this vacation started! (This is the single negative about this resort). We're all incredibly anxious to begin ambling though the beautiful grounds like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory for the first time and finally pressing that button on the elevator that will take us to our private floor and finally to our villa.
Don't hate me because I'm a winner! Everyone seems to lately, but I am. I'm a winner!
In August my travel agent invited me to a luxury travel expo at the Grand Del Mar in San Diego hosted by Protravel where over 50 top travel vendors were showing off their most luxurious offers. We knew we wouldn't be purchasing a private jet tour around the globe, but we thought it would be a fun and interesting way to spend an evening. Plus, we wanted to see where LeBron James just got married. We walked past table after table of some of our most coveted travel wishes. Luxury private tours through Patagonia, daily spa treatments at The One & Only Palmilla in Cabo, week long safaris through the Masai Mara in Kenya and so many others. Little did we know that just by showing up our names were entered into a raffle where many of the vendors contributed to fantastic prizes.
While standing in an area where many of the people around us were winning big ticket items, first class tickets to New York with hotel stay, 4 nights at luxury resorts in Canada, 4 nights at the La Costa Resort and Spa, we thought "This section has good juju!"
And then a prize was read out loud and I said to my husband, "Oh that one's mine!" Then BAM......
was heard over the loud speaker.
This prize was a combo from Delta and EuroPanache.
With no money saved up and huge credit card debit we were back in Paris 3 weeks later.
Shhhhh…. Don't tell my dad.
When asked if jumping on a train and riding it to Santa Barbara to stay at a trailer park sounded fun, I thought "No, not especially." Then was told the trailer park had refurbished airstreams..... "now we're talking!!!"
And so the adventure began.
Santa Barbara Auto Camp
For the fourth time I have come back to Cabo and for the third time Ive come back to what has been constistantly heavenly, Cabo Azul Resort and Spa. I'm pretty sure I'll be back again and again and maybe again. This place is truly gorgeous, ask anyone who's been here.
It's an easy flight and taxi ride to the resort and once you're there there really is no need to leave.
Our days are spent by waking up late, getting in a quick workout to prepare for the days glutony and then straight to the pool. Often not leaving until we're asked to.
India was never a place that I had a huge desire to see. I had several friends complain about how when they were there it was filthy, loud, smelly, crowded and overall horrible. They couldn't wait to have their picture taken in front of the Taj Mahal and get the hell out of there. But my husband couldn't stop talking about going there. All those things people were complaining about was exactly what he wanted to see. So for his 50th birthday I decided to plan an India trip for him. I figured this was something he really wanted and it wasn't for me but I would obviously go with him. I was lucky enough to find a few friends who felt the same way about India that Mike did and knew that this would be a once in a life time adventure. So I had my group of adventurous friends and the planning began. Nine months of planning felt like a life time but the hundreds of hours researching, meetings and dreaming turned into one of the most memorable crazy adventures any of us could have hoped for. India was nothing I imagined and everything I love about traveling. We were all able to look above what others complained about and found the fantastic, soul touching beauty that is in the most colorful country in the world, India.
This is my adventurous group of friends. Scott Pearson, Milo Martinez, my husband Mike, Harold Lemire, Beth Alton, myself and Mariana Aliano. When people tried to talk my friends out of going and told them they were crazy for going to such a place, they were never dissuaded.
My husband Mike turned the big FIVE-OH!
I don't think many people look forward to this particular landmark but once you accept it it forces you to take a look back and realize it's really not that old! I watched my husband standing in front of pictures from his youth and reminisce about where he's been and who he's become. It made me smile.
We celebrated his birthday at Crystal Pier on a rainy January weekend with good friends and made great memories. We thank all of you that came out to spend the night and even the weekend with us.
What is the age when you develop appreciation? I can't remember the first time I recognized this feeling. I don't remember as a kid being here in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Forest and feeling what I felt as an adult.
An absolute appreciation for nature.
Mike and I took a road trip to Kings Canyon over Veterans Day weekend in anticipation of long hikes and picnics in a meadow. We did all that but it wasn't exactly how we planned it. We drove into the park as it was snowing and quickly realized our hikes might not be as long as we planned and we probably were under prepared for just how cold it was going to be.
Just back from an amazing adventure.
Michelle Mowrey and I were able to shoot a very laid back wedding in Barbados at Little Good Harbour Hotel.
I thought I would share some of our work.
A few months ago I was asked by a good friend if I would be interested in coming to Barbados to shoot her sisters wedding. They couldn't pay me but they could fly me out there. Would I be interested? It took me all of 2 seconds to say DUHHHHHHH..... Of course!!!!! And the vacation plans began spinning. I told my sister in law who I do a lot of my shooting with about the opportunity and she decided it was time for a vacation too. Wham.... I have a second shooter and a vacation buddy. Thank you Michelle!
We arrived in Barbados to a tropical depression. Something I have never experienced. Strong winds with huge drops of hot rain in 90 degree heat. Who knew you could sweat so much when it's raining outside. It made for beautiful colorful afternoon skies though.
Oh how we love the grape juice!! We finally broke out of our mold of traveling to Napa and Sonoma and finally got up to the central coast to Paso Robles. We only had a single day to go wine tasting and it certainly was a whirlwind of a trip. It left us asking "So when are we coming back and where are we staying?"
For the last 2 years every bottle from Paso Robles I've bought from my favorite wine shop Meritage, has been excellent. So when my friends Tish and Andy asked if we were game for a road trip, there was no pause for the answer of "Hell Yes!!!"
We were first treated to a special and very welcoming evening by their friends Larry and Karen Thomas and their son Mark and his wife Courtney. They opened up their beautiful home to us and shared their local wines and many beers and made us tri tip pizzas that they grilled for hours before we got there. There were also a couple of specialties that I don't think you will ever find in any fine pizzerias.
I'm so excited to finally have in my hands my new camera!!!!! After not having one for 6 months. I now have a twitching finger to get out there and start taking pictures of EVERYTHING!!!!
In December I came out to my car that was parking at my fire station, behind locked gates, to find all my camera gear stolen from my car. Not just mine but my friends Nikon D300 and a brand new wide angle lens he hadn't even used yet. Did I leave my car unlocked? Maybe.
Someone really had to have huge balls to jump the locked gate at a fire station and take my gear. They sure taught me.
Well, just as well. I now have a brand new beautiful Nikon D700 and some fantastic new lenses. I plan on safeguarding these for years to come. I can't wait to see what kinds of images I turn out with this bad boy.
I started this blog so that I could document and share my adventures in travel, photography, food and the things that inspired me. It's a work in progress as are most things in life.