One of the (many) reasons I wanted to move to the San Francisco Bay Area was its proximity to the wine countries of Napa and Sonoma – and many others that will soon start to make an appearance on this blog. One of my very first trips after I moved here was to Calistoga, the northernmost town of Napa. I had never been to this neat little town known for its hot springs. It seemed like a throwback to the “old” Napa, from before Downtown Napa exploded and became trendy. I had actually noticed the last time I had been in southern Napa that people were starting to dress up more for the more scene-y restaurants. And I hadn’t even packed one pair of heels! As I wrote in Huffington Post, during my years living in Las Vegas, I always enjoyed my getaways to wine country, which I turned into my little escape, where I could be outside and learn about farming before heading back to to the bright lights of the Strip. It’s strange how a lot of people think Napa and such are so “fancy” – but it really is all about the land! In fact, I just wrote about Sonoma’s Benziger and the pictured Phifer Pavitt, in Calistoga, in a piece for Los Angeles Confidential about how eco-friendly wine country has become. Continue Reading »»
As I resume blogging after quite some time off (starting your life over can really zap your energy!), I find myself smack in the middle of sharing my visit with my friend Simone in charming Victoria BC, her hometown. Simone is a fellow writer and blogger, and I just love her. She came to Vegas a few times and stayed with me, so I was thrilled to get to visit her!
My favorite part about Victoria is that it sits on the waterfront – it is actually the largest town on Vancouver Island, off the west coast of Canada. To get there, I flew into Vancouver and bought a bus/ferry ticket at the airport (it was very easy). The ferry ride to Victoria was stunning, so I was excited to take a ferry ride around Victoria.
One of my favorite parts about leaving Las Vegas for northern California has been the changing of the seasons. When I got here in November, the leaves had changed colors, so the trees were covered in the deep reds and yellows of autumn. Then winter set in, albeit a mild one. Still, the starkness was noticeable, even in sunny Silicon Valley. Now it’s almost springtime, and the flowers are absolutely gorgeous. My dog walks around my neighborhood in the small town of Los Altos are still super-exciting, overcome with flowers of all colors. But even though the pinks, bright yellows and purples are absolutely gorgeous, my favorite California treat are these trees that are covered in white blooms. Continue Reading »»
When my friend Simone left the cosmopolitan city of Toronto to move back home to adorable Victoria, I knew I had to visit as soon as I could. Simone is the funniest writer I know, covering all topics related to men and dating, like this hilarious “review” of bad online dating profiles. In fact, we spend so much time gossiping about bad dates, time flew by without my writing about our trip. Now it’s March. And here in California, my dog walk has become overcome with blooming flowers – spring is here! It’s reminded me of last summer, when it was still warm up in Vancouver and Victoria. So it is finally time to share! I know that the quaint town will charm you as much as it did me.
Bring on the bright lights!
Seven years off and on in Sin City, and I never tire of neon. So imagine my excitement when I was able to squeeze in a long weekend in Macau during my most recent Asian adventure. After a week in Hong Kong, where I took in such sites as the Big Buddha, I headed with my mom and two brothers to “Asia’s Las Vegas.” One of my brothers has been a professional poker player in China for years, so has spent “some” time in Macau. And my mom, herself a savvy gambler, had met him there before. Me? I was ecstatic to see if for the first time! Having edited three local Vegas magazines, I’ve written/edited a lot of stories about Macau over the years. (My favorite: Bridging the Gap between Vegas and Macau by Steve Friess.) For Vegas locals, watching Macau explode has been fascinating. It’s no secret that the area’s passion for games of chance fueled mega-winnings for the casinos over there — and helped keep the Vegas outposts afloat during the US recession.
We stayed at Venetian, and it looked so much like the one in Vegas (that I know like the back of my hand) that I often found myself headed to a bathroom or something that didn’t exist. I had been told that Macau was small, and I really needed only a day or two. WRONG! We were there three days, and I wanted even more time! It’s true that there are less restaurants (and only one show!), so some non-gamblers might get bored. But not this one — I wanted to see everything!
Other than that, the biggest difference was the weather. You’ve heard of the smog in some parts of Asia — the skies in Macau were indeed grey, a far cry from the bright sunny dessert weather I’m used to in Vegas.
Next up? Mainland China!
After a silly, fun-filled day “Riding the Ducks” in Seattle, my friends and I decided to check out nearby Bainbridge Island. My old pals had just moved from New York, so it was fun that all of us were doing these activities for the first time. (After living in Vegas for more than five years, I know a thing or two about re-visiting the same tourist attractions with out-of-town friends!) Three adults and two kids under the age of five: We were a little late driving to the docks to make the ferry, so we ended up just driving our car right onboard. It was so cool! And very easy. You just drive up, tell them what you want to do, pay accordingly, and drive to where they tell you. It’s quite an experience to watch all of the bicyclists ride on the massive ferry, and then car after car parade on after them.