August 31, 2007

Venetian Style

Cheese delivery, Venetian style.

Yum. Cowgirl Creamery has their own style of delivery too.

Postcards: Bumble Bees

Photo credit: S.F. Castellanos

Travel Tip # 5: Choosing a Bag

If you haven't checked it out yet, go to site One Bag. It has some great tips for travel and sound advice regarding packing. Two of my favorite tips for choosing a bag:
  1. quality — because luggage takes a beating, and because quality should always be an important consideration
  2. transportability — because you will carry your luggage more than the carriers will (and yes, you will carry it)
It is true!!! I cannot concur enough with these two points. When I was still in high school my brother in college had me come for a weeks visit. It was my first travel alone trip with time on a bus and a subway, alone. I also had to carry my own suitcase. Ugh. It was a harsh lesson when you meet up with your older, idolized brother, who will make you carry your suitcase the many blocks to his apartment just to prove a point. Yes, he was the one to teach me the importance of packing light. Because, as One Bag mentions, you will carry your luggage.

Labor Day in SF

This Labor Day weekend, the Bay Bridge is closed. So what to do if you are visiting the city? First of all congratulate yourself for picking the best time of year to be in the city. Many visitors don't realize how cold the weather can be during the summer months. Not that the Fisherman's Wharf sweatshirt vendors mind.

If you are in SF this Labor Day the best suggestions I have are to enjoy the city and the bay. Take a nice ferry ride to Sausalito for crab cakes and shopping, or if you want to a hike you can get off at Angel Island. If you want to bike and hike, rent bikes and ride across the Golden Gate Bridge and if you have the strength head up the hill to the Marin Headlands. Otherwise take the exit and scenic route into Sausalito, then head back to the city via the ferry with your bikes. The best of all worlds.

Whatever you choose there are lots to do without worrying about the bridge closure. Enjoy!

Travel Tip # 6

When riding a bus, subway car, tram, train, trolley or other type of transportation during commuter hours and you are standing, please be sure and remove your backpack or tote and hold it in front of you or by your side. With the crowds trying to get home or meet their dinner date, it is very frustrating to have someone's bag in your face. And rude. And shows a lack of respect for other people's personal space.

Here is a clip from Dr. Merton on how to put the "mute" back in commuter, another important lesson for us...

August 30, 2007

Fall Getaways

Did you know the Lone Cypress tree in Pebble Beach was known by locals as the Lone Bonzai tree during the years when a Japanese consortium owned the Del Monte Forest and the Pebble Beach Corporation? Years later local kids with too much time and money and not enough common sense started a fire that burned it.

August 29, 2007

On Lake Como

If you need any other reason to visit Lake Como, this is a view of where George Clooney lives. I read that he took off for the Venice Film Festival
however....with Brad Pitt.


Fall Getaways

Carmel by the sea....

Did you know Clint Eastwood, former mayor, actor, piano player and Rusty from Rawhide is also part owner of the Mission Ranch Inn? This great spot near the river is also home to a great place music...

Where the locals go

If you ever wondered where all the Venetians go in August, this is it. August is quiet time in Venice, Italy. Hollywood types and studio execs do come to town though for the oldest film festival in the world, the Venice Film Festival...

The locals typically boat out of town in August as the temperature climbs to the area known as the Lido. This area is just minutes away but on the ocean. Lovely in this photo taken during May, but since the films screen on the Lido, locals get crowded out during the week the festival is in town.

August 28, 2007

Madame Shoestring

When my aunt passed away, I received this one-of-a-kind doll that had been made for my aunt and her shop The Shoestring. Madame, as the doll is called, sat sweetly and properly overlooking the cash register for most of the years the shop was open.

The Shoestring
now only a memory, was a tiny shop in the Village Fair, a building located in downtown Sausalito, part of the old Sausalito art colony. As you can imagine the size of the shop was the reason for the name. The Village Fair at the time of my childhood held a miniature replica of Lombard Street in San Francisco, the crookedest street in the world. I would happily climb those steps leading to my aunt's shop each time we came to visit. My aunt owned and ran the tiny spot with little to no help for more than 25 years. She sold art and objects d' art from local artists to both tourists and visitors from across the Golden Gate Bridge alike. Every visit was exciting for me.

Now the shop has been gone for many years and the Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa remains. I hear it is lovely and romantic.

August 27, 2007

Discover Mendocino

The northern coast of California is spectacular. It has all the mystery and craggy cliffs of Ireland....less than four hours north of San Francisco.

During your drive experience the different micro-climates and temperatures that can range from the low 60's to 90's.

The Labor Day weekend is almost here.

Photo credit: S.F. Castellanos

August 26, 2007

Look, it really is a rock!

Did you know Plymouth Rock really IS a rock? I thought it was more a figure of speech or a general place that the Mayflower landed. Like a stepping stone...And I have been to Plymouth, England and stood on the steps that the Pilgrims walked down to board the Mayflower.

Much to my chagrin, I discovered on a trip to New England last year that I confused urban legend with historical fact. The other fallacy I uncovered was that George Washington's teeth were never made of wood... Learning new things on your vacation is always, as Martha says, "a good thing".

August 23, 2007

Visiting Éire

clipped from

blog it
My special correspondent, SK just returned from the Royal Dublin Horse Show where she saw lots of pretty horses and pretty men. (It is a mostly male sport everywhere but the US).

Later on she drove east through the countryside to County Limerick for a wonderful stay in Adare. It is a lovely part of the country straight from your imagination of fairy-tale Ireland or Éire. This is definitely a future destination for me.

clipped from
Irish Draught Stallion class

blog it

A Day in Venice

Venice is one of my new favorite cities. I spent a week there and the time just flew by. No cars are allowed in the city which give you a very different experience than other busy cities. Here the traffic and noises come from tourist feet and various boats plying the canals.

My top five list for a day in Venice:
  1. Take #1 water bus vaporetto from start to finish
  2. Visit the Peggy Guggenheim museum
  3. Go out to the Lido and touch the ocean
  4. Have dinner along the lagoon
  5. Pay up for a water taxi when leaving town
Photo credits: S.F. Castellanos

This would be my perfect day because it gives you a little taste of all of Venice. You can enjoy quite a lot of the grand canal by taking the number one line. It is inexpensive and if you stake out a spot by the side, a nice way to take photos. Stopping in at the Guggenheim gives you a view of a gorgeous villa and an art collection by a woman with a keen eye. Picking up the vaporetto again and heading out to the outlying island of Lido will expose you to how Venetians vacation. You also will finally be at an ocean beach, which after the canals is a nice break. And finally head back to the waterfront area that faces the lagoon and enjoy a nice meal watching the sunset. When it is time to head back to the airport or train station, nothing beats a ride in a water taxi. It is a little bit Casino Royale and a lot of just pure luxury. Bellisimo!

August 22, 2007

The part of Disney I enjoy

I love the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. It has incredible lines to it. The shapes and shadows are breathtaking. Now I just need to go to a performance to hear the acoustics and my appreciation will be complete.

Photo credits: S.F. Castellanos

Big Sur

Photo credit: S.F. Castellanos

Here is a beautiful Big Sur view for your Wednesday and some of the Beach Boys lyrics to their song California Saga/Big Sur that matches the mood nicely.....

Big Sur I've got plans for you
Me and mine are going to
Add ourselves to your lengthy list of lovers
(Big Sur mount)
And live in canyons covered in springtime green
Wild birds and flowers to be heard and seen
And with my old guitar
I'll make up songs to sing.
Where bubbling springs from the mountainside
Join the Big Sur river to the oceanside
Where the kids can look for sea shells at low tide
Big Sur my astrology it says that I am made to be
Where the rugged mountain meets the water

And so while stars shine brightly from up above
The fog rolls in through a redwood grove
And to my dying fire I think I'll add a log.

From time to time I must go away
The thoughts of Big Sur won't let me stay
Away from Big Sur
Oh Big Sur

August 21, 2007


I love taking my dog for her daily walk. Each time we head out of the door, we discover something new. Today we were out walking, and after turning the corner to head home, came upon a traveling carnival...

It is amazing what you can discover when you are out and about, even in your own neighborhood.

A Day in Florence

My top five list for a day in Florence:
  1. Ponte Vecchio
  2. Uffizi Galleria
  3. Piazza Signoria
  4. Duomo
  5. That's it....
If you have only a day in this beautiful city, you must visit the Duomo. It is an incredible structure with pink, green and white marble.

Photo credit: S.F. Castellanos

Walking to and over the Ponte Vecchio is also a must. As you walk the bridge enjoy the windows filled with gold and silver. Looking at the people around you, squint your eyes and imagine the time of the Renaissance and this exact same bridge would be filled with people in robes rather than jeans and sneakers. If you know when you are coming to Florence, I highly recommend booking ahead tickets to the Uffizi. It is worth the effort and you can do it online. My top five this time includes only four because the Uffizi may take longer than you think, and if you end up with any spare time there is always a wonderful cafe calling to you.

August 20, 2007

When they were still stewardesses

View from the Top is a guilty pleasure of a movie. I loved the cat fights. Great cameo by Murphy Brown but Mike Myers made me laugh only a little. The best are the roles played by Kelly Bundy and Mrs. Chris Martin. Comedy Gold.

A Day in Rome

If you have only a day in Rome, I would tell you to enjoy a few sites. Start with the beautiful Piazza Navona for some food and people watching.

Continue on your way but be sure and stop for a delicious gelato (chocolate is always a favorite choice). Afterwards toss a few coins into the Trevi Fountain for good luck then see a major ancient Roman site, the Pantheon. Its enormous and shouldn't be missed. After this you can spend the rest of your day shopping....bellisimo!

My top five list for a day in Roma:
  1. Piazza Navona
  2. Trevi Fountain
  3. Pantheon
  4. Piazza di Spagna
  5. Via Condotti shops

August 19, 2007

Virgin America

I love Virgin Airlines. I've flown them several times overseas and each time had a pretty great experience. Upper Class is the best way to travel. You get the cutest and nicest attendants. Not your mom. No offense to my mom, but she is the last person I'd want as an attendant since she'd be all over me if I didn't finish my plate, not to mention she'd be watching way too closely how many drinks I had....

Back to my point, Virgin upper class attendants offer to make up your bed soon after take off from SFO heading to Europe. You can choose between a manicure, massage or other treatment during the flight. And if they don't get to you, they give you a card that you can use on your return flight giving you first choice. FYI many passengers choose the massage, and since the attendant giving them out even at 15-20 minutes each, gets pooped. Thus that selection gets bumped from the list pretty quickly. The flight across the US and Atlantic is as wonderful as it can get.

As of a month ago, they are flying from San Francisco for domestic flights. Therefore I am very interested to hear if you have flown with them yet? .. please write in and tell me your experiences....

Japanese pottery & other cool gifts

One of the coolest things I discovered in Japan was the pottery. It is beautiful and can be incredibly well priced. Also, you can find pieces that have a museum quality to them or the timeless look of porcelain. When you go into the shops you will see stacks of bowls, plates, cups in all sorts of colors and textures. There are square shapes or round. Rough surface or smooth. The easiest and most fun thing to do is just enjoy the experience. Take it all in and when something jumps out at you, they wrap it up for you in a way I've never experienced before. It will be snug and ready to fill that spot in your luggage that is available since you only brought one travel guide. If you can't make it to Japan, you can still experience some of the beautiful pottery by reading this interesting column....

August 18, 2007

Lonely Planet vs. Rough Guide

I have spent my share of time in Asia and Europe. Each trip had me scrambling for a proper guide book. Over trial and error, and wasted money, I made a few discoveries. If I was going on my first trip to Japan, I would buy a Lonely Planet Guide. If you are sticking to Tokyo, then get their Tokyo guide, skip the Japan version. Lonely Planet has done a decent job with covering countries in and around Asia, but they still have a lot of fluff books you don't need. You don't want to be mad later when you arrive in Tokyo, only to discover that you just flew thousands of miles with pointless "bricks" in your luggage. You want that space for a cool Japanese gift.

August 17, 2007


A beautiful Friday in Dolores Park, also known as Dolores Beach. San Francisco has some amazing parks with beautiful views. This one in particular went through a big renovation a few years ago and ever since folks have been keeping it looking good.

A cool idea for visitors is to take the J Church trolley, in either direction really, and get a seat by the window facing the park. You will not be disappointed.

Photo credit: S.F. Castellanos

August 16, 2007

Winged Migration

Need some inspiration to get out there and fly this year? Look no further than this documentary, Winged Migration. It is one of the best there is for lifting your spirits and showcasing how beautiful the world looks from above. Watching these birds soar over the countryside is hypnotic. It is hard to imagine how far some of the species travel every year. Truly a work of art to see and even if you don't understand French, the narration does not distract from the scenes in front of you.

I loved reading about how the filmmakers exposed the eggs of some of the birds to the sounds of people and film cameras so that the birds would not be afraid of them later. What an amazing idea and one of the few DVDs I own.

The hills are alive....

Salzburg, Austria is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the setting for parts of the musical and film The Sound of Music. Lots of people already know that, but did you know the town has delicious chocolate? If you are a bread kind of person, there are hot and tasty enormous pretzels to be found! Hmmmmm, warm goodness.

Visiting is very easy if you prefer to spend just a day there. We took a train in the morning from Vienna. After a day walking around and even getting up to the fortress Hohensalzburg, we easily made a return evening train back to Vienna and our hotel.

When you go, definitely make the hike up to the fortress, it is on a hill dominating the old town and is one of the largest castles in Europe, with views over Salzburg. Great spot for photos!

As you will get thirsty from your walks, do consider stopping in for some delicious food and beer at Eulenspiegel. Yum! Great view and amazing wienerschnitzel....

Photo credits: S.F. Castellanos


The Prague Castle (the largest castle in the world) with its St. Vitus Cathedral

In the 1990's Prague or Praha, was the hot new place for American expats with big ideas. But did you know that from around 500 BC the Celtic tribe known as the Boii, were the first inhabitants of this region known by name. The Boii named the region Bohemia and the river Vltava.

The city is gorgeous with unique landmarks, beautiful wide city squares for sitting and socializing, and detailed mosaics covering the sides of buildings. I could go on and on about how you could spend a week here easily and not see everything of significance.

As the only means of crossing the river in Prague, Charles Bridge used to be the most important connection between the Old Town, Prague Castle and adjacent areas until 1841. Also this 'solid-land' connection made Prague important as a trade route between east and west Europe. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, erected around 1700.

Photo credits: S.F. Castellanos

Matsuri in Japan

Joining in the carrying of a shrine during a festival is pretty neat. I have never done it but I know those that did, and I watched many during the different seasons while I lived in Tokyo.

Recently I read on Tokyo Maven written by my favorite Galleria professional, who has been studying in Toyko, that he participated in this ritual. He had photos on Flickr that showed him towering over the others.

Check it out!

Photo credit: S.F. Castellanos

August 15, 2007

Gastro Pubs in London

Fancy a pint? Love the traditional Sunday roast? Sounds like you might be interested in this list of gastropubs. No listing in Wikipedia yet but back in 1999 I had my first taste and loved it. I read this piece sometime back from Michael Belben..

Our idea was to be an anti-restaurant,” co-owner Michael Belben, told me recently. There were no napkins at the Eagle, no checks (you paid before you ate, like in an old country pub), no pictures on the wall to distract patrons from the task at hand, which was to get drunk and have a good feed. The idea was to focus on the simplicity of old-fashioned food—“British peasant fare, done with a bit of care” was Belben’s description

The next time you are in London, you should stop by and try a bite from one in the list below:

The Eagle
150 Faringdon Rd, EC1 (171)837-1353

The Churchill Arms Thai Kitcheb
119 Kensington Church St. W8 (171) 792-1246

The Prince Bonaparte
80 Chepstow Rd W2 (171) 229-5912

The Havelock Tavern
57 Masbro Rd W14 (171) 603-5374

The Engineer
65 Gloucester Rd NW1 (171) 722-0950

Design within reach

We love pottery. We also love going on factory tours when traveling to new places. On the island of Murano while visiting Venice this spring, we made sure to pop into a glass "furnace" before leaving. If you are visiting San Francisco and are looking for something a little different, or maybe it is a chilly summer day and you don't want to head to a museum, I suggest stopping over at Heath Ceramics in Sausalito. They have museum quality designs, restaurant ware and just beautiful everyday ceramics that make a wonderful keepsake or gift.

Edith Heath (1911-2005) founded Heath Ceramics in the mid-forties when following her one-woman show at San Francisco's Palace of the Legion of Honor, her pieces were picked up for sale at Gumps of San Francisco. For the past half-century, Edith's life was dedicated to the craft of ceramics as one distinctly tied to the skill of the artisan. This passion, along with the legacy of her work in stoneware body and glaze development, gives Heath its unique place in ceramics today. Many of Edith Heath's pieces are currently in the collections of museums such as the MOMA in New York City.

Harvest Time in Napa/Sonoma Valley

If you are heading north to enjoy the beautiful weather and the harvesting of all of the grapes, you might consider booking a biplane ride. It is a unique way to fly across the valley and have your own Out of Africa moment. I would recommend that you book your excursion though before you begin wine tasting. Just a thought.

Vintage Aircraft Company is a firm I'd recommend checking out first. They are well run and we had a fabulous experience.

Kuoni World Class Polo Cup in Surrey

Photo credit: S.F. Castellanos

Did you know that California stabled the West's first polo club in the 1890s?

Wild West

The Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming is a cool place to visit. It has teepees in the front that you can walk into. You can sit cross legged on the floor and pretend to be an indian if you must. Once inside the center you can see a stage coach used in his travels around the country doing his wild west shows with Annie Oakley. Lots of amazing artifacts from the American West. Outside in the back is a huge sculpture from Gertrude Whitney that is a statue of Colonel Cody. Definitely worth a visit....
Related Posts with Thumbnails