Napa: You Can Travel “Just Because”

Napa, travel, photographySadly, I rarely take a vacation with my “IRL” (that’s “in real life” for you non-social media junkies) friends, aside from a steady stream of weddings. Thankfully, I have an enormous web of online travel pals to hit the road with “just because.” In the case of a recent girls weekend in Napa, I had met both girls off-line first before re-connecting with them on the web. Kristin (LEFT) and I worked together more than five years ago but barely knew each other. Then she found me on Twitter, and we met briefly during my first trip to Napa last year. Diana (MIDDLE) and I knew each other the first time I lived in Vegas, when I was a magazine editor and she a publicist. I was living as an expat in Costa Rica when I got a surprise email from her asking advice about taking time off to travel. Neither of us ever thought we’d move back to Vegas (what a transition!) — but here both of us are! Don’t let the champagne fool you — this was one of the most budget-friendly trips I’ve ever taken. Head to Virgin America for cheap flights, and all tastings are easy on the wallet. Girls trips for everyone!

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Surreal Sin City Skyline

Las Vegas, travel, photographyWaiting for my car at valet at Monte Carlo a few nights ago, I caught a full view of a resort I never see anymore, and it took my breath away. There was an almost-full moon — illuminating the skyline of a hotel I haven’t been to in years, New York, New York. When it first opened, before my time, that resort was the place to be. I love the theme hotels, how surreal they look while driving down the Strip. The wonderlands of resorts such as Wynn and Encore are breathtaking and where I spend most of my time, and I totally get the new, modern era. But the castles, pyramids and fake blue skies of “Paris” and “Venice” are fun, too. I wonder how many people have a similar photo to this one here (palm trees! In front of the Empire State Building!) and never get to see the real Manhattan skyline. Strange how I can look up and have such an enormous reminder of the city that changed my life. I like that Vegas has that tiny edge of ridiculousness.

The Political Side of Things in Buenos Aires

Argentina, Buenos Aires, travel, photographyMaybe it was because I’m a Pisces, or perhaps that I lived in Florida in 10 years, or just that I love the beach, but when our all-knowing travel guide asked us to guess what this shape represented, I guessed, “a fish?” Luckily, my fearless travel buddy, Kirsten, was a bit more on the money: “a lady’s head?” Sure enough, this was one of the famous head scarves, the symbol of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. The brave women started silently marching near the presidential palace, Casa Rosada, every Thursday during the Dirty War of the 1970s and 80s, a war which scared even the bravest men into silence. With the names of their missing children embroidered on their scarves, they demonstrated for justice, despite so many people “disappearing” for doing much less. Most recently, the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo have worked with a government team to use DNA testing to return many of the kidnapped/re-assigned children from the war to their biological families. It’s a fascinating story from a horrific time. So far, less than 50 of these (now grown) children of war have been re-introduced to their families, but hundreds have been identified. As far as I know, none of these children have given an interview about whether or not they left the parents who raised them despite now knowing that those parents knew they’d been ripped from their biological moms and dads, how that felt. I’m on the lookout but have been unable to find anything on-line. Please send me a link if anyone knows anything! Here are a few more photos of the capitol.

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Tango’s Carlos Gardel in Buenos Aires

Argentinians love them some Carlos Gardel — so much so that a neighborhood-sized shrine exists just for him! Possibly the most famous person in tango history, Gardel died way before his time in a horrible Buddy Holly-esque plane crash. His house has been restored and opened as a museum, in the Abasto district of Buenos Aires. For me, walking through the surrounding streets and finding all of the portraits of him painted on windows, walls and elsewhere became like a puzzle, and his flowery lyrics fun to try to translate with my intermediate Spanish. It might be tourist-y to some, but I loved the history lesson — and also the colorful filete style of painting that adorns the area. Trust me, you’ll know it when you see it…

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Meet Liz, of Travelogged

When I moved back to the U.S. from Costa Rica, I was so worried that I wouldn’t have a place in the online travel community anymore. I’d found a job (or, it’d actually found me!), and I couldn’t take time off for six long months, the downside to returning to corporate life. One of the online travel pioneers who was a true inspiration to me was an old friend of mine, Liz, of @travelogged. Little known fact: Liz and I met no less than 12 years ago, when we were completing our masters in journalism at Columbia University. The recession eventually led to the loss of both of our jobs but, no surprise to me, Liz retaliated much more swiftly than I did, as you’ll learn from her interview below. After I returned from a month-long trip to Borneo, she asked me to write about it on her blog. Unemployed, slightly depressed, and stuck in the “old journalism” mentality, I had no idea what she was talking about. Fast forward two years, and look at me now!

As I just learned at the TBU travel bloggers conference, Liz and I are both “joggers,” journos who blog. Love us!

I hope you find her as inspiring as I do.

 

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Weekend in Napa

Weekend Getaways with Leora Hasas and Abby TegneliaSometimes the best part about living in frenetic Las Vegas is how easy it is to get out of town for weekend getaways. Yet, in all of my years here (five, off and on), I’d never been to Napa. On a recent weekend, I changed that, heading to northern California with my friend Leora.

After the easiest Southwest flight, I landed in San Francisco for a night on the town. We met up with one of my favorite travel bloggers/photographers/writers, Kristin Luna, of Camels and Chocolate. For some reason, the only pictures we took were on my BlackBerry, which later died. Spending more time with this talented, amazing girl is the top reason I want to go back to SF soon!

The next morning, Leora and I took off for Napa, giddy as two schoolgirls. We jumped out of our car at the Golden Gate bridge, running around with our cameras and making other tourists take a million pictures of us until we got that perfect one (see above!).

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