Traditional Napa Kick-off: Oxbow food yum

Oxbow food

Meeting friends at Napa’s Oxbow with Andi of Misadventures with Andi. ©Andi Perullo

On my most recent trip to Napa, I knew I was with kindred spirits when Andi of My Beautiful Adventures, Andi of Misadventures with Andi, and I decided to run over to Oxbow Market to take down some oysters and champagne to kick off our stay. So far, every trip of mine in this particular slice wine country has started this way. I’m not sure why… Is it the magical saltiness of Hog Island‘s famous oysters, or the heavy pours of the local champagnes? I’m not sure. All I know is that on this Napa trip, I have never laughed harder. Within a minute of being there, we met two very outgoing men who were as enamored with the two Andis as I was…. Who can blame them?

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So colorful: our San Francisco Chinatown tour

Andi Perullo Abby Tegnelia SF

Andi Perullo, of My Beautiful Adventures, and I loved San Francisco’s Chinatown.

I’ve had a lot of China in my life lately. First, my youngest brother lives in Xiamen, where he’s studying Mandarin. My mom, who last year traveled for a month with him, has reported back that he spoke the difficult language incredibly well already. I am so proud that someone in my family will be bilingual! But I never would have guessed Mandarin… Anyway, he’s actually been living in China for years, first as an English teacher before switching to poker. Meanwhile, I’ve been scouring Chinese New Year invites, which is an easy task here in Las Vegas, where this particular holiday is enthusiastically celebrated. Why am I so involved? It is my year!! The year of the snake. Watch out, world! Oh, and I fell in love with a San Francisco Chinatown tour during a recent trip. Enjoy!

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The Farmers Market “Trumpet Kid”

San Francisco Farmers Market Don’t tell anyone: I tap-danced for years as a child. The sad part? I wasn’t nearly as good as this dapper little kid! I could have watched him all afternoon, as he taps his heart out while blasting his sassy brass instrument. Known around San Francisco as the “Trumpet Kid,” 13-year-old Gabriel Angelo performs around town, including outside the Ferry Plaza farmers market where I recently went before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and driving on to Napa Valley. This pint-sized talent powerhouse is no joke: he’s been on Ellen, met Justin Bieber, performed with Questlove, and tweets tirelessly as MasterBlasterG. I took a video (BELOW) so you could see him for yourself!

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Daydream of the Week: Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate BridgeNothing makes me happier than a gorgeous water scene, whether it’s the jungle beaches or water of Santa Teresa, or the pool views of Panama City’s Trump Ocean Club. During a recent trip to San Francisco, we stopped by the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge on our way to Napa and Sonoma. It was a gorgeous fall morning, sunny and clear. I absolutely LOVED this one great shot I got, but for real photography talent, please check out my friend Andi’s post at My Beautiful Adventures. Now those are some shots! Hard to believe we were on the same trip, right? The bridge is an easy stop on the way out of town — just pull over after crossing the bridge, where the tourist stop indicates. I love how the weather can so easily change the mood and photos. But do not worry: Even a famously gray northern California day can make this view cozy and right. I love it!

I toured San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma as a guest of Trafalgar Tours, but all opinions are my own.

San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury: still in bloom with flower power

Flower Power Tour IzuPrevious to my most recent trip to San Francisco, I had rarely spent more than one night there at a time, usually on my way to Napa. That all changed with my recent trip with Trafalgar Tours, which prides itself on really digging in and showing off the local flavor of a place. So our first stop (after lunch at Cha Cha Cha of course) in the Bay Area? The famous Haight Ashbury district, where flower power descended in force during a few special years starting in the late 1960s. Our fearless leader: Izu, of Flower Power Tours. The only “complaint” I’ve read in all of my research about the great Izu is that she talks too much. Well, then, if you are on a schedule, speak up — this woman could talk all day about these streets and their history… That’s how much she loves her job!

Something to think about, huh?

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Daydream of the Week: Cha Cha Cha

Cha Cha ChaAs I settle into winter, which has finally hit Las Vegas, I can’t help but dream of brightness, which I got a dose of during my first day in San Francisco, first here at Cha Cha Cha, and then during a walking tour of Haight-Ashbury. Talk about color! But before I embark on my amazing trip through that fascinating city, plus Napa and Sonoma, this is the photo that I can’t get out of my mind. So how else could I kick off this unbelievable experience? On our very first day, we stopped by this yummy Cuban/Caribbean hot spot and indulged in some day-time sangria and tons of tapas: sweet plantains, yummy beans, spicy shrimp, and cheesy quesadillas. It was a lively watering hole. But when I stepped out of the packed dining room to find the restroom, I fell in love with the adjacent bar. Clearly a nod to the Cuban portion of the restaurant’s influence, the photos were tropical, colorful and historical. Next time, I’d love to hit Cha Cha Cha around happy hour time, so I could belly up to the bar in this lovely room, which boasts my kind of decor.

I toured San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma as a guest of Trafalgar Tours, but all opinions are my own.

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