As much as I love the peace and rejuvenation effects of the tropics, such as Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Maui and Borneo, I also thrive on the excitement of big cities. In nature, I relax, breathe deeply, sleep well. But cities get me going — yes, my heart races, I talk too fast, and I am often out of breath. But all of that inner turmoil is where my world changes. I lived in New York City for five years and often miss walking outside of my apartment to run off to the next party, dinner with friends, or a run along the water. I am less of a homebody in the city, because of how easy it is to simply step out into a world where anything could happen. Recently, on my way to the wineries in Napa, I woke up in a friend’s gorgeous San Francisco apartment and took in this view. The endless buildings reaching the horizon? It’s all a blur, isn’t it… I can see what’s right in front of me, but have no idea what awaits farther out. There is something big out there for me, I’m sure. Leaps of faith are difficult, but you can’t discover new ground without losing sight of the land behind you.
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!
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!
Nothing 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.
In my mind (or an alternate universe — you pick), I am the type of girl who wakes up every Saturday morning, refreshed and ready to hit my local farmers market for some sunshine, fresh food and groceries, and a lively social kick-off to my active weekend. Alas, that has never, ever been the case. By the time my weekend rolls around, after being “on” all week at work and having few too many hours at home, the last thing I want to do is walk around a Farmers Market alone. (The only one in my area is on Sunday anyways.) But if I lived near “the” farmers market in San Francisco, a Ferry Plaza Market devotee I would be.
Previous 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!