Archive of ‘Travel’ category

day trip guide: napa.

As I discussed in a previous post about the art of weekending, my husband and I have been taking full advantage of living in Northern California with many day and weekend trips nearby. One of our favorite day trips is Napa. We live a little less than an hour away so a day trip is usually what we do but this could easily be turned into a weekend trip as well.

We had a friend in town a couple of weeks ago who requested a trip to Napa so wine country it was. An insider tip, if your driving to Napa from Sacramento on weekend, l recommend leaving earlier rather than later. Napa is also on the way to San Francisco and traffic can get a bit out of hand.

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I’ve lived in Nor Cal for three and a half months and have been to Napa three times now. Perhaps I should be embarrassed but rather I will just admit my love for wine and the great outdoors instead. I’ve gathered my favorite wineries below. Enjoy!

The best Napa wineries:

Classiest Winery: I recently discovered Alpha Omega winery on my last trip to Napa. The rolling landscape, fountains and patio create a more up-scale experience. I will say, be prepared to spend $30-40 on a wine tasting (a bit pricier than some). The ambiance and views were well worth the price. If I had to describe what this place felt like I would use the term “country club”.

Best Overall Winery Experience: Castello di Amorosa is one of my all time favorite wineries and is one I’ve been to almost every time I go to Napa. The winery houses a beautiful castle that makes you feel like your in somewhat of a mix of Tuscany and Scotland. Beneath the castle is the tasting room where you can sample a variety of bold reds and crisp whites. I’m a red wine lover and this winery has the most rich and bold wines I’ve ever had. The whole experience of walking through the vineyard, exploring the castle and the exceptional wine selection make this one of my favorite for overall experience.

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Favorite Casual Winery: Although I used to drink this brand of wine in college, going to the Menage a Trois winery was a favorite of mine for being so casual. The tasting room is fairly small but my recommendation is to buy a bottle and take it outside. The views are absolutely incredible and you can play as much ladder golf or life-size Jenga as your heart desires. No snootiness here, just fun!

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Winery with the Best View: Hands-down Scribe winery has one of the most incredible views I have ever seen. It makes me forget that we’re in Northern California and transports me to Tuscany, Italy. They have an abundance of picnic tables and blankets that you can take your bottle or glass of wine out to and sit on the hillside overlooking the wine valley.  I believe this winery is on the Sonoma side but it’s definitely worth the short trek.

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Still being new to the area, I would love any additional recommendations you have on the best wineries to go to in Napa or Sonoma.

** Thank you to our good friend Don James Bolerjack for some of the photos!

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the serious weekender.

As described on Urban Dictionary, weekending is the antonym of “Mondaying”.

Everyone has their ideal vision of what a weekend might look like; everything from sleeping in, brunching, meeting up with friends or exploring something new. I love my downtime on the weekends to refresh and restart for the week ahead but I’ve also come to love the concept of weekending.

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After recently moving to California, I’ve discovered the art of weekend getaways and day trips. We live in Northern California and have some of the country’s most unique places at our fingertips so we’ve tried to take a weekend/day trip any free couple of days we can get our hands on.

Some that we’ve explored have included South Lake Tahoe, Napa, Amador Valley (great local wine) and El Dorado Hills (great for hiking). Next up on my list is Big Sur, a friend and I are thinking about going glamping at this ridiculously cool Airbnb.

Weekending requires a certain level of planning but also spontaneity. It’s best to approach it with a bit of wanderlust. Having a day or two to explore as you go, to see what you’ll run into is the best kind of weekending. However, you need to iron out a few details such as where to stay and what to pack.

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What to pack… this can be pretty daunting for a full-on vacation. But for a weekend, have a little fun with it.

Here are my weekending essentials:

Essential #1: A sturdy yet minimal bag to carry all your weekend essentials. One of my favorites is here.

Essential #2: A swimsuit. Living on the West coast means a lot more warm weather so I want to always be prepared, whether it be a hot tub, lake or the ocean. Here is one I just recently ordered. It’s a super unique cut and it was inexpensive.

Essential #3: Shades. Gotta have ‘em!

Essential #4: Small notebook to capture inspo. I always carry around a small journal to capture anything that inspires me along my travels. Usually traveling is my biggest source of inspiration and creativity so this is a must-have for me.

Happy weekending loves! There’s a lovely, wild world out there. Go explore it!

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London Living, Part 2

One of my favorite things about living in London was the ability to wander around the city and find something new to do, eat and see around every corner. I felt like a child again, wandering around a new place with so much curiosity. Ever since I got home from London, I have reminded myself to apply the curiosity for exploring I felt in London to my every day.

For part 2 of Living in London, I’m sharing the best places to visit and things to do around the city. A few of my recommendations are the typical tourist things that are well worth it and a few are things I stumbled upon just by wandering around London. If you didn’t catch part 1 of London Living make sure to check it out which includes my recommendations on the best places to eat in London.

 

“Free or Inexpensive” Things to Do

  • The Refinery (Southwark) – We went here several times with my co-workers as it was right below our office. The Refinery has a urban chic atmosphere and the best part is you can get a 9 oz. glass of wine for about 5 pounds! In London, that’s a pretty good deal!
  • The British Museum (Holborn) – The museum is completely free and houses some of the coolest art such as the original Rosetta Stone. It was right behind where we were staying so I would venture over in the mornings when I wasn’t working to check out an exhibit or two.
  • Shakespeare’s Head (Picadilly Circus) – Talk about a place with character. Shakespeare’s head is a tiny bar (go early and stake out your spot) with a lot of history. It is rumored that Shakespeare’s relative started the bar.

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  • High Holborn – This is one of the coolest places I visited. High Holborn is a hipster hotel but has a cool bar/coffee shop/restaurant down below that everyone hangs out at.
  • Platform 9 3/4 (King’s Cross) – I know this is touristy but it was pretty cool to visit. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, I highly recommend checking it out along with the shop right next door.
  • Harrods (Knightsbridge) – Largest department store ever! It was pretty cool to see but everything was crazy expensive. The secret tip is to go an hour before close (around 8 p.m.) and they have a lot of the decadent food on sale for half price.
  • London Bridge – I highly recommend going to the London Bridge and the Tower of London at night. It’s all lit up so you can see everything and there are no crowds. We ended up going one night after work and dinner and it was pretty magical to see.

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  • Finsbury Park – This is a neighborhood that is worth taking a walk or five through. We ended up staying in a new place for the final weeks and I walked through this neighborhood everyday on my way to work. I had total house envy the whole time.

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“Pricey but Worth It” Things to Do

  • The Orangery (Kennsington Gardens) – In London, tea is a big deal! So in order to fully embrace the culture we indulged in afternoon tea at The Orangery overlooking the Kennsington Gardens. It’s a little expensive but you get a three tiered cake stand of delicious desserts and finger sandwiches along with your own kettle of tea.

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  • Phantom of the Opera – Seeing a show in London is a must! You can literally see any Broadway show you want, which made it hard to decide. We ended up seeing Phantom of the Opera and it was Ah-mazing. The set, band, costumes and dancers were unreal!

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London Living, Part 1.

I have always dreamed of living abroad but never thought that it would become a reality, especially in my 20’s. So you can imagine I was ecstatic to hear my husband had the opportunity to do a medical rotation abroad. As it turns out my company has an office over there. After many months of working on logistics, I was able to work out of our London office and go satisfy my need for wanderlust.

I’ve been to Europe once before and really enjoyed it but was also a little overwhelmed so I wasn’t expecting to like London as much as I did. It’s now one of my favorite cities to live in and visit. If you have the chance to go to London, I highly recommend it and have shared my recommendations on places to eat, visit, stay and play. I’ll also share my recommendations for our weekend trips took to Cambridge, Englaand; Paris, France; and Edinburgh, Scotland.

London Restaurant Recommendations

Quick Healthy Food – London is one of the most expensive cities in the world and eating out for every meal can be very procey and not very healthy. Which is why I made it a priority to find healthy food on a budget.

  • Itsu – I recommend the Chicken Teriyaki potsu or the salmon sushi. Also, they sell everything for 1/2 price an hour before closing every night so you can get sushi for 3-4 pounds. For how expensive food in London is this was a great deal.

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  • Coco Di Mama – Their known for fast gourmet pasta. And as a carb lover I couldn’t resist the naked pesto. So good!
  • Pret a Manger – A selection of fast fresh food with no preservatives can be found here. They are on every corner and relatively inexpensive.
  • Tossed – A healthy high-protein bowl is a must-have here. Just beware that they will give you a random name for your order so I had no idea when mine was ready because they were calling a man’s name. I was so confused.
  • M&S Market – A market with delicious healthy pre-made food. Also, relatively inexpensive.

Nicer Options

  • Pizza Pilgrims (Soho) – This isn’t just any kind of pizza, its gourmet with unique flavors make it a fun quick stop in Soho. I got the portobello truffle oil pizza.
  • The Wellness Kitchen (Covent Garden) – A very authentic Korean restaurant where English is optional. They served up a stir-fry with sweet potato noodles. Just beware that seating is very limited so it might be best to take it to go.

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  • The Fire Station (Waterloo) – This place was so cool we ended up going twice. Its an old renovated fire station with the best burgers and beer in central London.
  • Dishoom (Picadilly Circus) – London is known to have the best Indian food and Dishoom definitely did not disappoint. It was a little pricey but the naan and chicken tika were out of this world.
  • The Table (Southwark) – A brunch lover’s dream. They basically gave us a massive pancake with eggs, sausage and bacon piled on top. Oh and the strong coffee made me enjoy it even more.

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  • Pachamama (Oxford Circus) – I had no idea what Peruvian food was like prior to this experience but am a new fan. We had plantains covered in feta cheese and honey and spicy grilled peppers among many other dishes.

Drinks

  • Joe & The Juice - I thought this was a little over-prices but still enjoyed my acai bowl and green juice.
  • Costa Coffee – These around every corner as well and have lattes as big as my face and the best breakfast sandwiches with sausage, eggs and bacon.

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Stay tuned for more Living in London recommendations!

 

 

 

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Europe Packing List.

As I mentioned in my newsletter last week (make sure to sign up on the homepage if you haven’t already), I am back from a short blogging sabatical and am looking forward to entering the world of Influential Gal. Thank you for joining me on this special journey, I am so glad you are here. I am headed to Europe in a week and a half for a short trip around Italy, France and Spain (make sure to follow along). It will be my first time across the pond so I am beyond stroked. However, packing is always the hardest part. To help me decide what type of items I wanted to bring, I created the below vision board. All of the pieces are completely mix and match which are a must and they are all super comfy. I recently polled my Facebook readers to see what they thought the essentials were for Europe and the two pieces of advice I received over and over again were bring a lot of light weight dresses and comfortable walking shoes (trying to stay away from tennis shoes so I don’t completely scream American).

Europe Packing List

 

I once heard a lady in the airport telling people to “travel with grace.” I simply loved the expression because most of us travel in a rush and are sometimes less than friendly (I know a screaming baby on the flight doesn’t help) but we often forget its a time when we have the ability to make an impact on so many others’ day. So for any of you traveling in the near future “travel with grace.”

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