Daydream: Rural Calistoga

I loved Phifer Pavitt's tasting room.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 »»

The most Romantic Things to do in Singapore as a Couple

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Although Singapore is well known for its cleanliness, tantalizing cuisine and magnificent shopping malls, it also has a romantic side. The city offers couples diverse opportunities that they can enjoy together as they celebrate their love. These opportunities can be through the involvement of various activities or visiting romantic destinations around the city. It does not matter your tastes, you and your loved one will certainly find a place or activity that you will enjoy while visiting or staying in Singapore. In addition, planning these romantic getaways is generally easy, thereby making it possible to surprise your partner by making them feel special while showing that you value your relationship.

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Make Your Way to Charming Victoria

Simone Paget Victoria

My friend Simone, taking me on a walking tour of her neighborhood in Victoria.

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.

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Get Local: Great Travel Initiative in Asia

WithLocals Market

Hit the local market with your guide!

What are your favorite travel memories?

My guess is that most of you will immediately think of an experience with locals. You were invited for dinner in a new friend’s home, or met some local people in a bar and spent your evening together playing traditional card games? These moments seem more special, since while on vacation, it’s easy to spot all of the other tourists at the major sites, but the locals can be hard to find.

So often we follow a tourism handbook to an awesome old local café and arrive to find it overloaded with tourists from our home country!

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Top highlights in Madrid

Plaza Mayor de Madrid 02 The gorgeous cosmopolitan city of Madrid is located in the center of Spain. Visitors there will be able to enjoy the (capital) city’s cultural landmarks, plus its selection of fresh traditional food and trips to nearby historical towns.

Art museums and cultural landmarks.

The city is known for its variety of ancient buildings, churches and museums. The three main museums are the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofia Museum and the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum. Together, they form the Golden Triangle of Museums, which is located in the city center steps away from the centric Atocha train station and the Retiro Park.

Visitors can enjoy a coffee with a view at the Circulo de Bellas Artes, the Circle of Fine Arts. This cultural center is located in the center of Madrid and its cafeteria has views towards the main streets. Another place to take in the city’s main streets from above is the Palacio de las Comunicaciones, a white Gothic building that is now part of the town hall.

The city’s parks.

After touring the city, visitors should spend an afternoon walking around one of the city’s parks. The main park, located next to the Golden Triangle of Museums, is the Retiro Park. It has many garden paths lined with ancient statues and stone fountains. There is a pond in the center where visitors will be able to rent rowing boats. Next to the pond is the Crystal Palace, a large building made from glass and steel where many exhibitions are organized. The park has several terraces where you can grab a drink, and there are stalls selling candy and salty treats.

Another main park is the Casa de Campo, an ancient hunting estate located west of the city center. This large park has several areas designed for team sports, jogging paths and a lake. The city’s Parque de Atracciones theme park and the aquarium and zoo are located on the park grounds.

The historical city center.

When planning a trip visitors should keep in mind that there are many ways of exploring this city. Madrid can be explored on a double decker bus that has two routes, one that takes visitors around the city center and another that takes them around the main streets, including the Castellana boulevard that is located north of the city center. The city’s public transport network is affordable and simple to use.

Madrid is manageable by foot. The centric Puerta de Sol is a popular meeting spot. The square has many historical landmarks, ranging from the Town Hall and the fountains to the bear and madroño tree statue that is considered to be the city’s symbol. From here, visitors can walk to the Plaza Mayor, another main square where the buildings have many balconies. A short walk away visitors will find the Plaza de Oriente square and the Royal Palace located on the square.

The food.

The city’s gastronomical scene is known for its variety. Visitors will be able to enjoy a selection of traditional tapas, appetizers that are served with each drink ordered. Some of the most famous tapas bars are located in the La Latina neighbourhood, which is a just short walk from the city center. Some of the most typical tapas are montaditos, pieces of bread that can be filled with a variety of chesses, hams, peppers and tortilla potato omelet. There are many varieties of tapas, ranging from green asparagus served with thick salt to chorizo ham served with olive oil and garlic.

What To Do in Barcelona

Plaza Virgen de los Reyes, Seville, Spain - Sep 2009 I am so excited to be sharing more of Spain with you. The country holds a special place in my heart, as it’s where I first spent an extended time abroad, during my junior year of college. Located in the northeastern region of Catalonia, the city of Barcelona has many attractions-I have visited 11 times last time I counted! Guadí’s Sagrada Familia is the city’s main symbol, and Gaudí’s architecture is present in the rest of the city.

Explore the city center.

Visitors can explore Barcelona on foot. The city’s main set of boulevards, Las Ramblas, stretches between the Catalonia square, a popular meeting spot, and the Columbus statues located on the coast of the Mediterranean sea. Each boulevard has flower stalls, newspaper kiosks and many street performers. There are several themed hotels in this area of the city, and there are many hostels located in ancient historical buildings in the El Born and Raval districts.

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