I went to Paris last Summer (2016), but I never could bring myself to write about it. I love Paris so, so much and putting my trip into words seemed too daunting of a task (dramatic, I know!). But, so many people I know are traveling to Paris in the near future and I really want my pictures readily available to everyone on the internet…so I finally decided to memorialize my trip!
Happy October (and, even though its not in October, happy belated Oktoberfest)! Since a lot of Americas think Oktoberfest is in October and Oktoberfest just ended (sadddd but I am so looking forward to 2018!!) I decided to do a post on – what else – beer!!
Honestly, before I planned my trip to Austin, I had never even heard of the Jester King Brewery (well, maybe once). Seriously. I love beer, but I really had not made it into the Texas breweries. However, Dan had, and he really wanted to try to visit Jester King when we were around Austin. So, I decided that we had to make it happen!
Dan and I spent a long week in and around Austin, Texas earlier this year for Dan’s cousin Claire’s wedding! It was my first time in Austin, and Dan’s first time back in years. So of course, we had to hit all of the food spots on our one totally free day in Austin! Also, the wedding was super fun and totally worth the trip!! Congratulations, Claire and Talor!
To start, Austin was awesome! We walked all over town and I really loved the small town feel of the city! We strolled though the State Capital grounds and shopped on South Congress Street, but the highlight was obviously the food and drinks! I had done some research in advance, and we had quite the itinerary when we started out Friday morning.
For all my raving about Porto, Portugal, I may even love the Douro Valley more! Referred to generally as “the Douro,” the Douro Valley is a valley northern Portugal; yes, the one that borders the greater Porto area and the one in which the famous porto grapes, eventually make port wine, are grown. The Douro River (the same river that splits Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia) runs through the valley and its flanked with tiered vineyards and lots of greenery! In short, its one of the most stunning places that I have ever seen!
CUBA. The mysterious Caribbean nation that Americans have been forbidden to visit for over half a century. Cuba has long been on my travel bucket list and when President Obama eased travel restrictions on US citizens and direct flights resumed, I immediately booked a long weekend in Havana! And, it was nothing short of magical! Havana is truly stuck in the past. My visit was interesting, thought provoking, and filled with meeting some of the nicest people that I have ever encountered abroad, but that will be the subject of another post. This post is all about how to get you to and back from Cuba legally from the US right now!
I recently flew XL Airways France from New York JFK to Paris CDG in Economy. And since XL Airways is somewhat of an unknown airline in the U.S., I decided to review it, especially after all the negative reviews that I read on Yelp!
By way of background, I have been curious about XL Airways France for years, seriously. XL Airways France is a French airline that flies between JFK and CDG, along with many other routes, and often offers cheaper prices than any other carrier (by hundreds of dollars). I pulled the trigger and bought these tickets solely because of the price.
A few weeks ago I spent a weekend in the Catskills Mountains. Specifically, Phoenicia. Phoenicia is a small town (technically a “hamlet”), about 20 minutes from Woodstock (the more well-known town in the area), in the Catskills Mountains. The town is tiny, with one main road, surrounded by mountains with lots of hiking. Phoenicia has recently received press by way of a few new business ventures opening in the sleepy town, including the Phoenecia Diner – which is probably the most popular place to eat in the area! Vouge magazine mentioned it in a piece on travel in the Catskills Mountains a while ago, and it seems to be all the rage with the hipster crowd.
Like deciding where to eat in San Francisco, deciding where to drink is also a tough one! Here are some of Dan and my favorites! Cellarmaker and Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar were particularly enjoyable!
Cellarmaker Brewing Company – My favorite of our drinking stops! Cellarmaker is a small brewery (no bottles/cans) in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco that specializes in small batch, speciality brews. The Tenderloin area, which has just the most awesome name, is not the safest part of San Francisco, but the brewery was not in a bad area. Cellarmaker consists of a small tasting room with a large TV showcasing the seasonal sporting event – in our case baseball! They do not serve food, just pints and growlers of beer. When we visited, Cellarmaker served a number of strong, interesting beers, many of which took advantage of West Coast hops. We loved Cellarmaker and would recommend it to anyone in the San Francisco area who enjoys beer! Here are some pictures:
So, where to eat in San Francisco, such a loaded question! There are SO MANY delicious, local, wonderful places to eat in San Francisco! Deciding where and what to eat were the hardest decisions we had to make in San Francisco! Here are our picks, in no particular order! Hope you enjoy them!
Swan Oyster Depot – Swan Oyster Depot, of Anthony Bourdain fame, is a seafood and oyster bar located in the Nob Hill are of San Francisco. Swan Oyster Depot has been around for practically a century and is highly regarded by locals and tourists. The restaurant is tiny, with only about 20 bar seats and no ability to make reservations – you simply line up outside and wait! We went a little before 11:00 a.m. on a weekday and waited just under an hour. I’ve heard it only gets longer as the day goes on… Once we got in, we lunched on the freshest seafood, including crab back, seafood chowder, oysters and Anchor Steam beer! Some notes: (1) while casual, Swan Oyster Depot is not cheap; (2) there is really nothing to eat except seafood; and (3) payment is cash only.
Dan and I took a full day tour to the Napa Valley from San Francisco with Max’s Wine Tours. After scouting out a number of tour companies, we went with Max’s Wine Tours because it seemed to encompass the most winery visits (and therefore the most tasting). The tour was quite expensive, at about $175 a person not including lunch or tastings (which cost at least $20 a person per vineyard). Be sure to consider this when budgeting your day! Needless to say, this was quite the expensive day…
The tour started with Max’s colleague, Evan, collecting us in a large SUV promptly at 8:45. We then picked up two other tourists (tours are max 6 people) who we got along with quite well. Next, we were on our way to the Napa Valley (about an hour drive), where we stopped at 4 wineries and in St. Helena for lunch. The tour was fun, our guide was incredibly knowledgeable about wine & the Napa Valley, and the Napa Valley is just gorgeous. However, I have to say after visiting a number of major wine producing regions in the world, the Napa Valley is my least favorite. Sorry Napa! [I feel like this needs a caveat. Napa is gorgeous and there is significant opportunity to try fantastic wine. However, Napa is also very commercialized and expensive. A $25 dollar tasting in Napa may only be $5 for similar quality wine in Mendoza or South Africa. If we were to go back I would probably try to get a hotel in Napa, drive myself and visit two vineyards per day- Dan].
The tour started with a visit to Honig Vineyard and Winery. Honig is a family vineyard and winery that started in 1964 and grew from there, specializing in Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. Today, Honig is quite recognizable and uses a cute bee theme! At Honig, Dan and I both ordered the sampler, which included a 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford, 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (really good and awesome to compare against the 2012), 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Bartolucci Vineyard and 2013 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc (super sweet!) The tasting was held in an outdoor courtyard surrounded by vineyards. I recommend Honig, especially to visitors new to wine! Honig a good introduction and the location is very nice. All of Honig’s wine were delicious. We did not buy any because they are available on the East Coast.