December 31, 2008

Good bye 2008

December 29, 2008

Wag Hotels and traveling with your four-legged co-pilot

Do you have a co-pilot that has four legs? I'm talking about a companion that can be as messy and as bossy as any roommate. I'm not referring to the little teacup sized pups carried around by popstars. Well sometimes that sweet co-pilot cannot always come with you on a trip.

A good friend and fellow writer Maria Goodavage, has lots of resourceful books to help dog lovers. Her books are illustrated by the great Phil Frank, a cartoonist from the San Francisco Chronicle. The guides come with a wealth of information including lots of specific resources for those of us living in California, as well as the San Francisco Bay Area. And she just issued an updated version of her San Francisco guidebook this year.

Another great resource in the Bay Area are Wag Hotels for dogs and cats! They offer wonderful boarding and pet care in an environment that is healthy for your best friend and little buddy.

December 25, 2008

Christmas Greetings and Cheer

December 24, 2008

December 20, 2008

Travel writing with Uptake

I have taken my writing to a more grassroots level and am now writing regularly for - a travel site that aims to make the process of booking travel online easier.

Uptake has the largest database of US hotels and activities - over 400,000 of them - from more than 1,000 different travel sites.

Check out my scintillating piece from the other day about the fabulous Pat Kuleto owned steakhouse Epic...and read about a romantic night out in San Francisco during the holidays.

Don't "they" always say that you are suppose to find your passion and make a living from that? I'm half way there. I love to travel and take photos - to get out and about - and I love to share my finds with friends and really almost anyone who basically asks me.

With Uptake, I get to write about restaurants and vacation ideas and everything in between - and share this information with anyone who clicks on my pages or subscribes to my RSS Feed - how easy!

I will be writing at Uptake every week since they really value my perspective - I hope you will come visit me there.

December 18, 2008

Sustainable Agriculture

As a global citizen I care about the world around me as much as I care about my immediate community. Here in San Francisco we are fortunate to have the Center for Urban Education and Sustainable Agriculture operating out of the Ferry Building at the end of Market Street.

In their latest newsletter I read all about an important petition that I think we can all get behind. I did and I hope you will consider joining your voice to this good cause:

Inspired by Michael Pollan's New York Times Op-ed, Farmer in Chief, sustainable food advocates — including Alice Waters, Dan Barber, Wendell Berry and Marion Nestle — have all signed this crucial online petition. Today, over 34 thousand advocates have urged president-elect Obama to choose a Secretary of Agriculture with "a significant grassroots background in promoting sustainable agriculture to create a prosperous future for rural America and a healthy future for all of America’s citizens."

Food Democracy Now! is a grassroots movement initiated by farmers, writers, chefs, eaters and policy advocates who recognize the profound sense of urgency in creating a new food system that is capable of meeting the changing needs of American society as it relates to food, health, animal welfare and the environment.

December 17, 2008

More than rejuvenation when you travel to Hawaii

This year more than any other is the best time to visit the Hawaiian Islands, and I cast my vote for Kauai.

I've written on these pages about my love for the Hawaiian Islands before but with the world melting and the financial markets melting, the reasons to go this year are crystal clear. And going to Kauai isn't just about rejuvenation, it is about perspective.

For me, visiting this particular island always changes my perspective on the world and on my life. I appreciate what goes into creating the beautiful landscape as soon as I walk off of the plane. Walk almost anywhere on the island and you can find a spot to sit and contemplate the years of lava flow that creates each individual island. Looking at the growth of the valleys and the amount of animal and plant life - how can you not feel small and insignificant?

Whenever I go to Kauai, I love to rent an apartment along Hanalei Bay rather than stay in a hotel. I've found this team has the weekly range for a 2 bedroom-2 bath condo is $1100-$2500 which seems about right if you want a view and walking distance to the ocean. The Princeville and Hanalei side feels a little slower, if that is possible but I love it. Hawaii and its aloha spirit offers the traveler more than you can imagine - if you have yet to go, consider a week this winter in Kauai.

December 16, 2008

Christmas Travel

How far have you ever traveled to go home for the holidays? In college I used to stay at school and go to a friend's house for Thanksgiving. However Christmas was always special and no matter how far I had to go or how long it took i.e. how many buses, connecting flights, layovers in Denver or Dallas-Fort Worth, I always made it home in time for Christmas Eve around the tree.

When I lived overseas I also returned home stateside in time for Christmas, except for one year. It still is one of my most bittersweet memories. How could I complain about not being home for Christmas when I had this wonderful opportunity and life set up in another country?

I had a lot to be grateful for that year - on the return to my overseas home I had a free first class flight to the island of Kauai. Though I tried not to complain and look on the bright side that year, I will admit to playing I left my heart in San Francisco about a hundred times - and tearing up almost every time it played.

Watch and listen to this and tell me you don't feel that tug on your heart - especially if you are far away from home and your home is San Francisco...

Music and a song's lyrics can create a touch point in our memories. When I travel on trains, planes and automobiles I like to listen to music - like most of us - and when you add a holiday like Christmas to the mix, look out. Do you have a favorite song attached to a journey home? Tony Bennett sings this favorite Christmas song of mine:

I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

December 15, 2008

Train travel gets big push from Obama!

Barack Obama plans to arrive for the inaugural celebration via train - and he plans to pick up Joe Biden in Delaware on his way into Washington DC. How cool is that?!

The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Monday that Mr. Obama and his family will board a train in Philadelphia bound for Washington on Saturday, January 17. They will stop in Wilmington, Delaware to pick up Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his family. The group will then travel together, stopping in Baltimore, before arriving in Washington’s Union Station.

Being someone who loves-loves-loves train travel, I was so happy to read this news flash today. To me this shows that the new administration supports commuter rails and greener transportation choices - which is important for our future. I hope to see more financial backing for Amtrak and the cross-country routes that include those cool vintage Pullman cars.

Last year Amtrak partnered with GrandLuxe Rail Journeys, which are definitely on my vacation wish list!

Photo credit to krikit

December 11, 2008

More Leg Room But Still Coach

Would you pay more for leg room? It seems as if airlines are looking to create an "a la carte" way to buy plane tickets. The industry wants to know what value we passengers place on the travel experience.

I suppose we all have our price points and a value we place for what is most important to us when we travel. Most lean towards the value of food on their flight or free drinks. My choices differ based on whether I am flying domestic or international.

I have not done it but I am sure I can find one friend who has bought a TSA - scanned retina and thumb print - pass to accelerate their way through security at the airport.

This discussion came up a couple of weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal, here is a bit from the story for our thread:

British Airways serves regular meals in its premium-economy cabin and boards premium-economy passengers with coach customers. Virgin offers a separate check-in area for premium-economy passengers, boards them along with business-class customers and offers food service that is upgraded from coach, but is nowhere near as elaborate as its "Upper Class" business cabin. Both airlines have separate toilets reserved for premium-economy customers, but on recent flights coach customers were using them, too.

Air France says its premium-economy cabin, which will start flying in October or November next year, will include a seat that pivots on the bottom like a movie-theater seat so that the person in front of you doesn't recline into your lap. Two rows of premium-economy seats will take up the same space as three rows of economy seats, and on wide-body jets with nine seats across each row in coach, premium economy will have eight seats across.

- Has the surcharge for bags affected your travel plans?
- How much is comfort worth to you?

With ski season here, will you pay the extra fees for your boots and other equipment - or skip the airline and ship them to your destination?

Photo credits

December 9, 2008

Exploring Northern California Beaches

I love this area of California and I love taking Sunday drives along the coast. Each time we do, there is always something new to discover. We have visited little seaside towns along Highway 1 and made lots of new friends along the way.

Of course many of my discoveries include new places to eat - love that our Garmin GPS includes restaurants!

A recent coastal gem we explored was Pescadero, south of Half Moon Bay on Highway 1 and north of Santa Cruz. More on that experience soon, I have a great spot to highlight, Duarte's Tavern! We're going there for a 'noggin soon and some crab.

December 7, 2008

On the road in California during the holidays this year

This year we are putting miles on the Toyota Prius rather than rubber stamps in our passport. Where will you spend your holidays? Besides being my home, I am reminded that California is a popular destination.

Given the drop in gas prices lately and the fact that after five years our car is still getting over 40 miles a gallon, I say we made the right decision to skip the airports this winter.

However that doesn't mean we are missing out because California has some great places to get to by car. I'm talking the greenest museum and aquarium, world class ski resorts and breathtaking national parks.

Getting out on the road this winter will be an adventure and one that I plan to start preparing for now with a winter roadside kit with water, map, blanket, flares and a flashlight. I probably will order something from a place like this.

December 5, 2008

December 4, 2008

Joe's Stone Crab in Las Vegas

This is my plate of stone crab from Joe's Stone Crab in Las Vegas. Seriously, I ate all of it. We had the best waiter and having booked our table well in advance, our wait at the bar, which is crazy with people and chaos with the drink servers, was minimal before we were seated in a booth.

Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab was such a great place to go out for a nice old school dinner in this crazy city. Since I don't gamble - except with my diet - my only sin (besides bargains) is spending too much on dinners out. I was in Las Vegas to hang out with family before heading to the Grand Canyon, and though I didn't shop, I wish I had this scoop because I might have scored some outlet bargains. Next time.

December 2, 2008

Maverick Rides Around the Grand Canyon

I absolutely loved the Grand Canyon! Seeing for the first time this national landmark was awe-inspiring.

This western landscape invokes all the old Gene Autry movies of Saturday mornings. If you have the time then I have to recommend going to the south rim of the canyon during these winter months. [Having many friends with children I know it is easier for trips like this to be in the summer during school breaks, but maybe a winter break would work?] My trip was just a couple weeks ago and the sky could not have been more blue. The temperature was mild during the day and crisp at night.

When you go, I highly recommend taking one of the awesome helicopter trips around the canyon. This is the best use of your time for the amount of landscape you get to take in at once.

I did hear from a guest at our hotel that there are some outfits that have huge issues with their scheduling (he was bumped for his allotted time then was sitting around waiting). He also said to avoid Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, because their helicopters had some seats facing backwards. There are only three outfits at the South Rim.

I could not take a bad photo from the window of our Maverick's Helicopter, they were out of this world. Our family with us bought the DVD made of the ride, set to cool music and including some interior shots of them sitting inside (so try not to grimace when the helicopter suddenly drops into the canyon).

We took the Canyon Spirit tour that 45 minutes (ours was 47 min) includes the Eastern Canyon, Northern Rim and Dragon Corridor It was about $220 each and totally worth it. Considering we were there only a day, this was a perfect first time visit when we added in a nice brunch at the El Tovar Hotel at the rim.

We drove from Las Vegas after a couple of days hanging out there and eating great meals. We had some great steak and definitely will consider Tao next time. I think it was a great trip over all but next time I might consider flying into the Grand Canyon fron Vegas rather than driving....we'll see.

Photo credits to

November 29, 2008

Islands of Aloha

I love Hawaii and have visited almost every island in the chain at least once. About five years ago I spent two weeks on the Big Island and loved the parks there. Having previously been on Kauai which is one of the oldest islands, the Big Island was truly a "baby" in comparison.

The amount of volcanic activity clearly showed how the island is growing all the time. Loving photography the way I do, this photo here is one that I took at Akaka Falls on the Big Island (having just driven from Hilo and a big lunch).

photo credit to

Merry Christmas to me, because I was asked to allow a travel guide to include my photo in their new edition. You can see in the sixth edition of the Schmap Hawaii Guide, my photo here from the Akaka Falls State Park.

If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch they have the vision of my photo here...

November 26, 2008

Would you pay to send your luggage ahead?

So I am still on the fence here about this topic that is gaining ground for domestic and international travel, the issue of baggage and US airlines looking for revenue by charging for luggage. Recently the Wall Street Journal even had a story about the cost to fly your luggage.

I'm still undecided about this because I have experienced charges for checked bags in Europe for years now. It wasn't terribly expensive and it only encouraged me to pack light. I also understood that the smaller the plane, the smaller the compartments. Also Americans were known for being larger and therefore carried more stuff because we were consumers.

I have also have lived in Japan where they are pros when it comes to packing and shipping anything domestically. When we skied it was common practice to ship your ski equipment ahead to the hotel. When you bought a big piece of furniture such as a tansu chest (Japanese chest of drawers) or a big recliner massage chair, they automatically offered to deliver and set it up at your home.
Of course it cost, but it was never unreasonable and the freedom it gave you to either just get on your train or get in your car and go to the resort, or go home and know that your furniture would arrive the next day was incredible. I got used it quickly.

The concept being discussed now is familiar but in the US, I am not so confident we are there yet. When you check into a hotel, do you really feel confident that the staff will accept the luggage of someone they have never met, don't know because they are not famous and have had eight years of a president telling them to fear domestic terrorism?
When you check your luggage do you really feel you are getting value for your airfare?

I say if you really want to use a delivery service such as Sports Express to ship your skis or golf clubs, then do it. This increase in fees from the airlines stinks to me and looks like they are dressing up something that is simply another way to make up for the fact that they are running inefficient operations. What do you think?

Photo credit to geisha boy

November 22, 2008

Route 66 has more than kicks!

photo credit:

Have you heard the song by Nat King Cole? He has such a smooth voice. I'm much more familiar with that version than the Chuck Berry styling. And the Rolling Stone cover version, wow!
Well if you ever plan to motor west,
Just take my way , that's the highway that's the best.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

Well it winds from Chicago to LA
More than two-thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

Well it goes through St. Louie down to Missouri
Oklahoma City looks oh so pretty.
You'll see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona, don't forget Winona,
Kingsman, Barstow, San Bernardino.

Won't you get hip to this timely tip
And think you'll take that California trip.
Get your kicks on route sixty-six.

How about the Johnny Cash classic, "I've been everywhere man"? This one I love to listen to and try to sing along with, though I am not terribly good at it - but definitely a good choice for a car ride! Watch the video below and tell me what you think.....

Route 66 is clearly a part of the American story, and now that I've been on a segment of it I am definitely going to try and put a road trip together where I can travel it east...from San Bernardino all the way to Chicago!

November 18, 2008

Ahnu sight for me!

Here I am waiting in the lobby of my Grand Canyon hotel until the Starbucks opened so I could get some coffee. Exploring the American Southwest is amazing, you are brought closer to the history of our great country. I felt the influence of the powerful Indian nations that are a part of the fabric that makes up the United States of America.

November 16, 2008

Wafrica - the African kimono

Exploring different cultures around you while traveling can take shape in many ways. Traditional clothing and textiles of a country I am visiting are always intriguing to me. I found the beautiful fabrics of Japan fascinating, and one of my favorite books I found in a Tokyo bookstore was of kimono and yukata patterns. Here is an unique story I discovered recently in The Japan Times that illustrates what I mean:

The seed of Wafrica was planted earlier this year when Serge Mouangue, a Tokyo-based concept- car designer for Nissan, decided to explore mixing the two cultural landscapes in the form of one of the most iconic symbols of Japan: the kimono.

"They may appear different on the surface but they do share some cultural similarities," the 35-year-old says. "Both societies are very tribal and have a respect for hierarchy and an appreciation of the power of silence.

"And then there are the differences. In Japan there is no improvisation. Here, improvisation can mean trouble, shame, difficulties. But in Africa, it means life, renewal, health and spirit."

November 15, 2008

Ahnu comfortable way to drive

Here I am driving [actually this is me in the back seat] to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, Nevada. It was a great road trip that carried me over the Hoover Dam [American engineering at its finest! Yes we can!] and through a beautiful desert landscape. I even stopped along Route 66, where my kicks included a buffalo burger.

November 13, 2008

The world is again, all about travel.

Editorial Note:

It is an exciting time in the U.S. We just elected a president that has a huge chance to alter the course of our country in a positive way that will be felt for decades. I am excited because this also means that for us travelers and global citizens, we again can begin our journeys exploring the world around us without fear. The U.S. has been low on the list of pleasant countries to be a citizen of for many years now, so having a president that is viewed by the world as a leader and positive game changer is wonderful.

I am looking forward for the first time in a long while to getting outside the U.S. again and engaged in friendly conversations with other world citizens, at airports and cafes alike. There is something so exhilarating when you find yourself in the middle of a trip simultaneously delighting in the newness of your environment and engaging in a lively conversation with a fellow traveler. I've felt this way while sitting with my feet buried in the sand at an outdoor café in Bali and across the world, while sipping a glass of wine in Venice savoring the sight of the sun setting over La Giudecca. If there ever was a time to get your passport dusted off, it has arrived. The world is again, all about travel.

Peace and happy trails.

November 12, 2008

Ahnu way to fly!

Here I am waiting in line at Southwest Airlines as A54, which means I didn't check in online that early. Oops. But I did pack light and only had a small bag to put under my seat. Love that. I also love-love-love my iPhone 3G because I only needed that and a book to keep me occupied for about an hour and a half. I watched two episodes of 30 Rock and read a few pages then landing time! No battery worries and no noisy kids. Yay!

November 10, 2008

Safe Travels Michael Crichton

clipped from
Travels by Michael Crichton
I wish I had looked past his more famous novels, such as Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain and discovered sooner this superb memoir. His essays and the tone of his writing here is just wonderful and I know this book is going to be on my bookshelf forever.

It certainly ranks as one of my favorites (similar to My Life in France) and I'm warning all of my friends now that when it gets loaned out, it better be returned! Click here to order your own...and stop over here at the LA Times to read a sweet post about how this book touched someone.

November 7, 2008

Open Letter: Visiting the Grand Canyon

Hello! I am visiting the Grand Canyon for the first time in the next few days and my excitement is climbing. Yay! And hopefully my feet will be climbing soon a few rocks in the Mojave National Preserve and in Red Rock Canyon.

Having watched dozens of National Geographic special episodes on Sunday nights as a kid, I am scared my actual experience won't meet my expectations. Has that happened to you? I admit that this kind of happened to me and Disneyland. The first time I went there I was eight years old and the second and last time, I was twenty years old. Not a good idea.

I promise to post pictures of my adventure and any good recommendations I find. While I am out and about, and distracted from posting, do send me any questions you have about Las Vegas and its surrounding areas. I will try and do some on the ground research for you. Happy Trails.

November 5, 2008

Mrs Meyers cleans up this fall

One of the huge benefits of getting out and about on the weekends is discovering cool things, by accident. Recently I met the real Mrs. Meyers - she is the bespectacled grandmother-like image behind the good smelling, slightly expensive, line of lotions and household cleaners. (Their lavender lotion has been a favorite for years.)

Recently Mrs. Meyers brought her line of products to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, all displayed perfectly in a vintage camper trailer. Think Mayberry and the Andy Griffith Show. Her camper was so cool looking, you could actually imagine it being pulled behind an old Mercury station wagon during a summer trip to the Grand Canyon. To add to this vision, her camper had a miniature clothesline on the roof with dish towels pinned to it. What a great way to market your brand and share your story! I stood for several minutes and listened (and sampled the lotions) while she shared cleaning tips and her vision of simple and pure ingredients, a la Heloise.

If you want to try this line for yourself, Mollie Stones sells these great products or click here to find the store near you. Mrs. Meyers is sold across the US.

Get out and enjoy these fall festivals because you never know who you might meet or what you might discover!

November 3, 2008

Muralist Mona Caron captures the Noe Valley Spirit in San Francisco

clipped from
The first time I discovered Mona Caron, it was while staring out my window riding on the J Church trolley heading over to Noe Valley [a sweet neighborhood in San Francisco, filled with great local shops along its central 24th Street]. Mona had painted a mural along the wall that ran outside my window of a golden, ribbon-like bike trail. It is quintessentially San Francisco, with a mountain bike rider and the Pacific Ocean.

Recently Mona completed a new mural in Noe Valley, on the outside walls of apartment buildings on either side of a parking lot along 24th Street. This parking lot is owned by the Noe Valley Ministry and hosts a small but well attended year-round farmers market every Saturday. From 8:00 am you can bring children (you’ll always find lots of kid friendly music & sidewalk chalk) and with a cup of Martha’s Brothers Coffee, stroll by dozens of stands filled with fresh bread, apple cider, and local produce [Happy Boy salad greens are a favorite!]. Mona's murals depicting beautiful warm images of this same locally sourced produce adds richness to this converted parking lot that is unique. I highly recommend taking public transportation (i.e. J Church) the first Saturday you have free.

October 31, 2008

REI rescues my feet with Ahnu pair of shoes!

Sorry for the bad pun, but I am so excited about my new pair of shoes. I stopped by my local REI this afternoon for a new pair of shoes. If you have never been, or don't know, REI began as a group of 23 mountain climbers and is now the nation's largest consumer cooperative. They have a huge selection of outdoor gear in their stores, online and they have an outlet. (And from previous experience, they are one of the few companies that ship to Japan!)

I love REI because not only do they have excellent brands of yoga gear, running clothes, ski helmets and camp stoves but they also have a great house brand. And they give back. I just love going there even if I just get a new toy or new piece of gear for my dog.

So I was saying, we've finally started to get our rains this week and "very quickly" I realized I needed a pair of shoes that would hold up to the rain. [By very quickly I mean the pair of shoes I had on yesterday were ruined by the unexpected down pour I had to stand in while I waited for my bus.]

I hustled up the stairs today to the shoe wall and though I slowed down to check out the yoga pants (always looking for the perfect pair), my feet found their way to the pair of shoes that you see here. And for the first time I posted a review...check it out below. And yes, my dog really did give these Ahnu shoes the once over with her nose when I got home.

My Review of Ahnu Alameda Shoes - Women's

Originally submitted at REI

Out to find comfortable, casual shoes to fit your active lifestyle? Look no further than these Ahnu Alameda slip-ons.

Super fit, stylish and comfort

By SharonC from San Francisco, CA on 10/31/2008


4out of 5

Gift: No

Sizing: Feels true to size

Width: Feels true to width

Pros: Comfortable, Versatile

Best Uses: Casual Wear, Travel

Describe Yourself: Comfort Driven

My job allows me to wear casual clothes often during the week so these are perfect shoes. Comfortable but very stylish. And I love that they are waterproof.

My dog just gave her sniff of approval


Tags: Picture of Product


October 25, 2008

Half Moon Bay Pumpkins

Boy I sure do love pumpkin. I love the endearment. One of the sweetest things is to overhear a parent call their little one "pumpkin"... And I love to eat pumpkin muffins and pie, yum! One year I took the time to cut up and steam my jack-o-lantern after Halloween and made muffins and pies from scratch! It was a great feeling of accomplishment and something I highly recommend everyone trying once. It was a very "Martha" moment for me.

As for the color of pumpkin, it is very flattering, warm and bright. Reminds me of certain sunsets here in California. I can't tell you how many pretty coastal photos I have taken that are bathed in an almost pumpkin-like color.

And did you get out to this past weekend's annual pumpkin festival here in Northern California? There were lots of wonderful crafts and cover bands and smoked turkey drumsticks. Dee-lish-us. If you missed it, don't worry because you can still find lots of pumpkins along Highway 1 at many of the family run farms.

October 21, 2008

Top Ten Movies to inspire travel

As you know I am all about travel, all things travel oriented and global views. There are many movies that beautifully illustrate a country that I have never been to or they remind me of the subtle beauty in the art of travel. Murder on the Orient Express is a movie that comes to mind. Dressing for dinner is something everyone should experience. So civilized along with the slow serving of multiple courses. The exquisitely rich furnishings of the train cars, the old fashion trunks to carry your clothes and the leisurely pace are just the start of why I loved that movie! And the most exotic destinations and cities have the most incredible stations! Victoria Station, Grand Central Station, Tokyo Station. And trains are a relaxing way to go vast distances. They rock you to sleep while you cover miles and miles of terrain. Did you ever see the film noir movie, The Thin Man with Nick and Nora? Because it was filmed in the 1940's, the stylish couple traveled by train rather than airplane. Divine scenes of the couple with Asta of course, going across country to San Francisco. With the price of gas moving lower, some of us may be thinking that they can jump back into that car or SUV and drive but I would highly encourage you to explore your world by train.

Here are some of my all-time favorite movies, available on Netflix and sometimes your local television. I've included some older movies that I've caught on a Sunday afternoon too, like The Four Seasons. This classic movie that I've seen several times is about couples that go away on vacation together over four seasons. Not only did I love the location shots but the experiences of the couples together are priceless! The Year of Living Dangerously is high on my list because it was the first movie I felt first-hand when I living overseas and traveled to Bali in Indonesia. The music of the Balinese so clearly was the backdrop to this exotic time and location. Again, the perfect soundtrack to my own life at the time.

Like Water for Chocolate not only had my stomach growling, but the background of the Mexican Independence and Pancho Villa, had me seriously motivated to learn more about Mexican food and cooking. The distinct regions of Mexico with their unique flavors were highlighted in this movie [in Spanish only] and I will tell you after seeing the movie, I immediately went out and bought Mexican Hot Chocolate!

And finally, I've included a bonus suggestion A Room with a View, the most lush movie that brought to life the English countryside and Firenze, Italy. I probably saw that movie a dozen times and each time, fell in love with Florence a little more. I remember thinking that I would have gladly lived in a corset, had frizzy hair, even give of my 21st century lifespan - if it meant I could travel to Florence and live there for all those months in such style.

Enjoy the list, and next I will give you a list of the best soundtracks to travel with!

Ten Movies to Inspire You to Travel
  1. Out of Africa
  2. Year of Living Dangerously
  3. Casablanca
  4. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  5. Murder on the Orient Express
  6. Lost in Translation
  7. Mediterraneo
  8. Like Water for Chocolate
  9. The Four Seasons
  10. The Motorcycle Diaries
  11. Bonus: A Room with a View

October 19, 2008

Winter Getaways: South Lake Tahoe

It is that time of year again....too bad I'll never look like this image, even at my best. And good thing helmets are popular on the slopes.


October 16, 2008

Island of the Dragons

Enjoy this short video of nature and fire! I get inspired when I see footage like this because I always imagine what is happening underwater when I visit Hawaii and when I contemplate learning how to scuba! Two minutes in you will begin to see dragons....

October 13, 2008

Stylish Travel Tip: Glasses on a chain

Eyeglasses and sunglasses are expensive. Trust me, I know. I have been a wearer of prescription versions for decades. Therefore, if you are like me and like to invest in a good pair, then you want to keep your odds low of losing them anytime soon. Especially when you travel. It isn't like you will be able to hop into the car and pick them up at the lost and found, if say, you leave them in a Scottish B&B but you live in San Diego, California.

I recently discovered [thank you Teri @] a very cool website with chic and very well-priced chains to hold your glasses. They sell other stylish items but I was immediately taken by how cute the chains are! I'm loving that they include a little mini face at the bottom of each screen to show you which chains work best with the shape of your face.

Don't tell because I'm looking at these for some stocking stuffers this year, but the animal print eyeglass cases are cute and what a bargain!


October 10, 2008

San Francisco Bay

The San Francisco Bay this weekend is the place to be if your favorite movie was Top Gun or for the older crowd, Cinderella Liberty.

Fleet Week is in town and later today is another show of the world famous Blue Angels warming up for the big weekend display.

Cruising on the bay is going to be best spot to view the jets as they fly over our fair city. If you can't get to the pier in time, here are other top spots to watch with all free except for the posh Carnelian Room/Bankers Club:

  • Mount Sutro
  • De Young Museum Copper Tower (free to the public)
  • Bankers Club in the Bank of America Building (though need a membership to book lunch)
  • Marina Green
  • Great Meadow at Fort Mason
  • Chrissy Field


October 8, 2008

Travel Tips: Classic Trench coats

Everyone knows I love to pack light. That is the best reward when I travel. Capturing a few solid photos and wearing every single item in my bags. One of the top items I love to take along is a trench coat or as the Brits call them, macs or mackintosh.

The image here is of a young actress on Gossip Girl, a new version of teen angst melodrama. It is nice to see that the classic style of a trench is still popular with young people today.

My favorite is Burberry and given that we just had London Fashion Week, you should check out this great site for ideas of finding your own!

October 6, 2008

Amazing Race is here!

The new season of this Emmy award show has begun and the teams flew to Brasil first. This makes me happy in that a very dear friend [Sweet Lu!] and former neighbor is from Sao Paulo - and we are happy her country gets a shout out and is shown here in the US on a great show like the Amazing Race. Obrigado! Eu adoro Brasil. is a clip from episode one from the new season:

October 5, 2008

Atlamont Pass Wind Power

Clean energy now! I don't believe the slogans or commercials about oil drilling off our coasts and nuclear power being viable alternatives to increase energy sources.

I like windmills, and I would really like to see an increase in solar power. Those seem to be under-funded energy alternatives for me. I'd also like to see more community college level classes related to jobs in these areas.

photo credit: sfcphotography

October 4, 2008

Half Moon Bay in the fall

Half Moon Bay is gearing up for its famous art and pumpkin festival [Oct 18-19]. Though the area may not have as big of a showing of leaves changing colors as you may get in New England, you will get a sweet crisp air temperature and lots of crafts to satisfy your Christmas list needs.

If you decide to drive down Highway 1 from the city, this beautiful coastline is what you can expect.

The Moss Beach Distillery after you pick out your pumpkin is a great place to grab a bite to eat. Or like me, enjoy a nice cocktail while sitting outside under a blanket.

Photo credit: sfcphotograhy

October 2, 2008

Spark Your Dream


Spark the Dream! I just encountered this couple and their great display at a recent street fair. I loved the photos and definitely put their book on my Amazon Wish List.

Spark your Dream is a true story of personal inspiration that explores the inconveniences and the solutions that are presented at the beginning of a dream. Through this incredible journey the reader will live the risk, the sensation of freedom, the passion, the pain of a death, the birth of a son, frustration, life, and success.

Candelaria and Herman Zapp were selling their book and entertaining folks with their story at the Pacific Coast Fog more about it here.

September 30, 2008

Street Fairs and Festivals

Street fairs bring out the most creative sorts, don't you think? I just went to the Pacific Coast Fog Fest in Pacifica, California. That had a different sort of creativity, like in the types of tattoos people were sporting!

On the weekend following Columbus Day is the 38th Annual Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival...and then Thanksgiving! Am I scaring you with the rush of holidays looming? That to me is what happens when Labor Day comes and the street fairs turn into festivals...


September 28, 2008

Pacific Coast Fog Fest 2008

Hells Angels selling t-shirts, local music, tattooed parents, Half Moon Bay micro-brews, San Mateo County libraries fundraising and kettle corn are the highlights of this year's festival.

There is still time if you are in town...vroom, vroom.

Photo credit:

Chihuly at the De Young Museum

Here is a photo from my brother-in-law's iPhone! I can't believe I missed this exhibit.....did you see any of this incredible glass artwork?
Chihuly at the de Young is an exploration of the groundbreaking artwork of Dale Chihuly. From the Mille Fiori (a 56-foot garden of glass) to the Saffron Tower (a 30-foot neon sculpture), this exhibition challenges convention with a feast of bold color, dramatic forms and extraordinary composition.

Chihuly at the de Young is Dale Chihuly’s first major exhibition in San Francisco, and includes eleven galleries of new and archival works representing the breadth and scope of the artist’s creative vision over the last four decades. The de Young Museum is the only venue for this exhibition.

September 26, 2008

Come on get happy...

Ever wanted to rent one of those Good Sam motor homes for a road trip? How about getting a pile of friends into one car/van going down to Florida for spring break? 

This unique "vehicle" I discovered in a Safeway parking lot today, surprised that it was street legal [I watched it drive into the lot from the highway] and intrigued because it reminded of that surfing family...kowabonga!

photo credit:

September 24, 2008

School Bags that make great carry-on luggage

clipped from
I may have left school beyond years ago [cough, more like decades but who is counting] but don't you think this school bag would make a chic carry-on for your next trip?

Click here for more looks...

September 22, 2008

Yankee Stadium no more

clipped from
Going, Going, Gone
The house that Ruth built hosted its last game this weekend. I sure wish I had gone to a game there when I was last in NYC. A few years back, I made it to see the Chicago Cubs play Wrigley Field [Old Style served in the stands, just like in Japan at the Tokyo Dome. Only you didn't have the sweaty but smiling girl pour you a beer from a pony keg on her back].
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