May 31, 2008

Magic in San Francisco

Summer is here and time for the free concert series in Stern Grove. The natural acoustics of the grove and the amazing music, makes it the perfect spot for a picnic.

The foundation started by Mrs. Stern has been providing free concerts for over 70 years.

This is a lovely spot in San Francisco. A real gem. It has a nice lake and area for dogs to run as well.

Check out the 2008 Season here...

May 29, 2008

Cathedrals in the bull's eye

Isn't it interesting how many European cities have a major cathedral or duomo in their city center? Note the image here. This is the city of Como, near Milan in Italy.

I love that you can drive and each town has a "welcome" sign, then a "goodbye" sign on your way out. You know, the sign with the town name crossed out. Love that. And the bull's eye directing you to their "centro".

Driving is easier than you think when you travel abroad. And economical. Please to try.

Photo: S.F. Castellanos

May 27, 2008

Holidays at the Beach

Are you a beach type or museum type? When you decide to go on vacation, what is your idea of the best time?

Some folks I know like to sit on a beach and read. Others want to wander through every museum for hours.

I for one like to explore, rather than sit. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good train ride or ferry across the North Sea. However, my idea of a vacation includes exposure to new people and places.

If I had to choose, my favorite beaches would likely be:
  1. Pebble Beach
  2. Sennan Cove
  3. Hanalei Bay
  4. Brighton
  5. Dolores Beach

May 25, 2008

Venice Canals

Now this is real Venice, not Las Vegas. You can tell by the sky.

Here you will find beautiful bridges, water taxis and spritz. There you will find shops but also blue attractions....

I don't care about the euro. Everyone needs to visit Venice once. This lovely city is deserving our attention.

Photo: S.F. Castellanos

May 23, 2008

Travel Tips: The Mini Bar

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Here is a great idea for those who enjoy being prepared. A travel case for the seasoned traveler and well, drinker. Enjoying a cocktail is a nice occasion at the end of the day. My father had a leather case, sort of the style that he kept his Shriner fez in, that he would bring along when visiting the city. He would have it open on a dresser in his hotel room, with a single malt scotch, and any other favorite beverage at the time. It was very cool.

May 21, 2008

Lovely Postcards From Venice Italy

It is hard to believe a year has gone by since my last visit to Venice. What a great city to walk in. I found it so easy to find my way around and enjoy the experience of even losing my way once in awhile.

So many lovely people and food! The biggest lesson I learned though was to pack light and to use a small case. Since there are so many little bridges and cobblestones, it is easy to tire from carrying or rolling your luggage.

Also, you don't need very much to look presentable:

Hermes scarf, crisp white blouse, skirt, black slacks, flats, lipstick, sunscreen and a sweater. Voila!

Packing light is not difficult if you stick to the basics. Tim Gunn knows...

Photo: S.F. Castellanos

May 19, 2008

Italian Men gossip like the rest of us

Look at the old coots, they gossip as much as the next blog. Only Italian style...meaning, they sit at their local cafe/bar, smoke and enjoy an espresso. All the while catching up on the latest news.

This is why I get a travel dictionary and invest in the Rosetta Stone. I just want to know what they are saying, don't you?

The last time we were in Italy, we rented a place next door to Clooney and got allll the dirt from these guys, not the local rag.

Scoop: Giorgio complained that the spot in front of his gate shouldn't be used for the local trash pick up. The spot is where residents have been putting their bags for decades if not longer. They humored him for all of a day. Then reverted back. Bah. Clooney "eh criminale!"

Photo: S.F. Castellanos

May 18, 2008

Bay to Breakers Run in San Francisco Today

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"It's a wonderful day, when the true spirit of San Francisco comes out to play," said John Woody, 26, of San Francisco, as he looked around the crowd. Along with more than a dozen of his friends, Woody was dressed in a red, white and blue suit, the uniform of what he and his mates said were American gladiators. His gladiator name was Wolf.

At that point, another gladiator, Christina Marks, 26, whose nom du jour was Siren, said to Wolf, "will you accept my challenge? He said, "yes," and the two started jousting with Styrofoam-covered jousting sticks.

"We're going to have several jousting matches throughout the day," she said, as she sipped a Bud Lite before crossing the starting line. you think that this really is the true spirit of SF, really?

May 17, 2008

Brothers Fishing

Isn't brotherly love grand? Do you know anyone who is part of a mixed family? It is such a roll of the dice whether the siblings get along.

I took this snap a year ago. These two are half brothers who have a sweet affection for each other that was so obvious even though their English was not so good. Sighhhhh. My heart is warm again.

Photo: S.F. Castellanos

May 16, 2008

Robert Mondavi, Napa Pioneer Dies

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Vintner Robert Mondavi Dies

Robert Mondavi, the charismatic founder of one of the world's most recognized wineries, died Friday at the age of 94. Mondavi was a tireless promoter of California wines. Photos

This man drank a bottle of wine at every lunch, and that is not an urban legend but fact. He was quite the wild man from what I have read. He had a falling out with his sons over their promotion of the lower price point wines under their family label. Whatever the issue(s), this man deserves our respect. So take your hat off and light a candle....

RIP you amazing vintner....

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

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Brush up on your hand signals - May 15 is Bike to Work Day.

Bicycles are cool. All around the world.

May 15, 2008

Medici Castles in Italy

Did you know that there are many Medici castles in Mugello? Mugello is an area very near Firenze in Italy.

We were there last year and were amazed at the influence of the Medici family on this part of the countryside. There are villas throughout Tuscany that are beautiful to see. One cool and easy way to identify a castle or or building belonging to the Medici family is the three (3) golden balls on the exterior, like the photo I took here.

Photo: S.F. Castellanos

May 14, 2008

Travel Reading

Do you have favorite books that you like to take while traveling? Do you have different books if you are going by plane, car or train?

I like to get a couple of books related to where I visiting. Maybe a guidebook and a couple of maps then I am good to go. If you are traveling to a non-English speaking country you might have trouble finding a book in English, if you are in a pinch for reading material.

However, the universal fall back can always be the International Herald Tribune newspaper.

Photo: S.F. Castellanos

May 12, 2008

Splurging on a vacation

There is something special about having servants or help, while you are renting a home that adds to the luxury of a holiday abroad.

Meet Gioseppe. Our gardener. At least for one week. Molto bene!

Photo: S.F. Castellanos

May 10, 2008

Travel Season Tip #1

Venice is best explored before the heat and humidity of summer. I recommend staying near the Accademia Bridge. So much to see and taste that you could easily spend a week or more.

May 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Giorgio!

Feast your eyes on Mr. Clooney's home on Lake Como. Yes, I was there. And yes, it was spectacular!

Photo: S.F. Castellanos

May 6, 2008

San Francisco Cocktail Week

How very Nick and Nora... For a true San Francisco experience, go buy tickets for this event - it's for a good cause.

May 4, 2008

Caribbean Summer Vacations

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Summer is almost here and the time is here to think about a nice little getaway from the office. I love the beauty of the clear waters found in the Caribbean seas, and the idea of pirates with the face of Johnny Depp.

May 3, 2008

Fiesole near Firenze in Italia

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Bellisima! I am reading a wonderful book that speaks about the flooding of the Arno in the 1960s and the mud angels who came to save the books of Florence.

Don't you love reading while you are on vacation?

Photo: S.F. Castellanos

May 2, 2008

Fiesole near Firenze in Italia

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If you go to Florence in Italy, take the bus or drive to the sweet hillside town so close to Florence. You won't regret it.

Photo: S.F. Castellanos
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