Daydream of the Week: Sunny Beach Bulgaria

Bulgarian holidays Sunny BeachAfter an almost two-week vacation, I’ve hit the ground running in Vegas. I walked the red carpet with Heather Graham for Vegas magazine‘s ten-year anniversary party, honoring Heather and her work in the Sin City classic, Hangover 3. The next day kicked off UnCork’d, my town’s biggest food event of the year, which had me racing around day and night, eating good food, meeting new people, and catching up with old friends. Not that I’m complaining, but the Frenchies eat late: Dinner at Joel Robuchon finally wrapped up at 2 am Sunday night, sending me into an exhausting work week. Just another week of living in Las Vegas! Now I’m on my way to Napa for some work meetings, a grand opening — and some fun. This whirlwind reminds me of my pre-Vegas trip, which started off in Istanbul and sent my dear friend Diana of D Travels Round and I on the best of Bulgarian holidays, including a stop in the party town Sunny Beach, shown here. The white sand and soft light of early morning, my favorite time on the beach, doesn’t even hint at the chaos that hits that town every night. Like this photograph, that vacation was the calm before the storm: After that dream trip, I would land back in my imperfect paradise that was Coco, Costa Rica for exactly one day (who has time for jet-lag?) to pack up my one year there into what I could carry on the plane and head to Vegas for a new job.

Who needs sleep? Like I always say, it’s a jungle out there!

Daydream of the Week: Pan de Azucar, Costa Rica

Sugar Beach Costa Rica resortThe morning after I landed in Costa Rica, I was off for a weekend adventure at a new (to me) beach, Pan de Azucar. It was about an hour from Coco, near many of the beaches I used to go to while I was living in Costa Rica: Playa Danta, Brasilito, Conchal, and Playa Flamingo, all on the Pacific coast. It was gorgeous! We had a stunning house overlooking the ocean at the adorable Sugar Beach Hotel, my new favorite Costa Rica resort. Eight, yes eight, of us drove up for a girls’ weekend. How often does that happen? I just might have more friends here in CR than I do in Las Vegas! We didn’t do much — snacks on our patio, walks on the beach, sunning at the pool. The lush grounds were just how I like them: dense trees and foliage that makes everything about the jungle beaches so peaceful. Enormous iguanas roamed the property, and the flowering trees were just as I remembered. Sun, blue skies, perfect sand, tons of friends…

I don’t call this country paradise for nothing!

Daydream of the Week: Borneo

BorneoWhen I lost my job in the fall of 2008, I thought my life was over. Like many single women, my entire identity, for better or worse, was attached to my career. So when that was taken, I, simply, felt lost. With not nearly enough money saved to out-last my year-long lease in expensive LA, I was still quickly talked into logging onto Cathay Pacific and booking a flight to… Borneo. An old friend of mine was living in KK, and she invited me to visit. Some people might judge that expense, but my jobs are always so all-encompassing that I rarely find time for trips, let alone big ones. So I figured if I was going to always have either time or money, I was for once going to make the most of having some time. My friend Cynthia and I drove all around Borneo, getting lost on private beaches and watching how quickly driving half a mile down the road can completely change the coastline. Once, we found ourselves surrounded by hundreds of disgusting jellyfish, when we had just been in perfect waters five minutes before. Even though I had been a big traveler my whole life, that particular trip ended up being a life-changing move: I later went to Mexico and then Europe, as cheaply as I could. Sure, my debt went up a bit for the first time in my life, but that year-long lease was up before I knew it. As most of you know, that was when I threw everything in storage and jetted off to Costa Rica for a month or two… which turned into my living for a year on the cheap in a one-room house, starting my own company, saving twice as much money as I had owed when I got there, and learning to let go of expectations, to be free.

From one paradise to the next, I owe a lot to these two places!

Daydream of the Week: Nicaragua’s San Juan del Sur

San Juan del Sur NicaraguaI’m not sure if it’s the heavy news going on the US that reminds me of September 11th, or the fact that I’ll be blissfully on vacation in Central America by this time next week, but I was flipping through photos and was drawn to this one. I love how this stranger is zoning out while gazing in the distance after a long day in the sun. I, too, daydream, although I don’t always have such beautiful surroundings to get me going. This is my kind of beach: chill, relaxing, and not too crowded or fancy. San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua was always a fun escape from my small town of Coco, right over the border. I have a “busy”  ten days planned for this upcoming trip to Costa Rica, an itinerary packed with fishing, lazy afternoons in the sun, visiting with friends, and drinking beer at cheap bars on the beach. I can’t wait!

Cheers to the good life…

Daydream of the week: Panama City

Panama CityWe just had a little (two-day) cold front in Las Vegas, and I happen to run across this gloomy cityscape shot of Panama City. I found it a weird little Central American town, a fairly big city with plenty of import, thanks to the Canal, and a Singapore-esque way of building distinct skyscrapers like the corkscrew one you can see here, a little left of center. It also had a strange expat culture I hadn’t seen before. (Think tons of solo business travelers — and the people they choose to hang out with while on the road.) There was tons of culture and fun  things to do, and an emerging food scene that offered an impressive array of Spanish, seafood and Latin American specialties. My friend and I stayed at the stunning Panama City Trump Ocean Club, which we couldn’t have enjoyed more, from the infinity pool and over-the-top brunch scene, to the incredible service. (One tip: Walk across the street for a normal cab. The cars they have waiting in the driveway are not only overpriced; the drivers for the most part were just plain rude. In fact, we met the most amazing driver who ended up taking us around town until our departure — he literally drove us to the airport at 3:30 am when we left!) Panama City is usually used as a gateway to the country’s stunning islands. And please, still head to the islands!

I know I’m as much of a city girl as I am a lover of the tropics, always feeling the push/pull between the fast life and the slow lane. But there really are such amazing parts to both!

Daydream of the Week: Up, Up and Away

Hendricks Gin landingI recently mentioned that I just celebrated my birthday, not something I usually broadcast. But since this year I got to kick it off with something totally crazy, I wanted to share it with you. It wasn’t quite as adventurous as my decisions to go off-roading through the desert, fly a jet plane, or  trust a pro to take me race car driving, but it happened to conquer a decade-long phobia of mine. Full story to come, but I thought I’d tease you with a not-so-subtle hint. Hendricks Gin (unknowingly) hosted my little birthday pre-shindig, and we even toasted with a small cocktail made with the Scottish-born gin … very early in the morning. I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

I was a guest of Hendrick’s Gin, but all opinions are my own.