THE CULVER HOTEL - THAT MAGICAL PLACE

 Welcome to The Culver Hotel located in the heart of downtown Culver City. This historic hotel was built in 1924 by Harry Culver and continues today to steal the show. My friend and blogging partner Melissa Meyers and I have an affinity for anything old-school glamour and The Culver Hotel offers just that, and it's a perfect place to meet, catch up on life and enjoy a little cinematic history.

 The Cowerdly Lion in the corner of this photo was actually quiet brave.

The Cowerdly Lion in the corner of this photo was actually quiet brave.

If you live in the Los Angeles area and you're searching for a new escape for a morning meeting, an elegant breakfast, lunch date, or just want a change of pace mixed with old Hollywood history, then don't miss out on this historical landmark. 

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When's the last time you got to catch up with a friend and feel like you've escaped for the day? We're fortunate to live in a city where dreams really do come true. Did you know that most of the cast of The Wizard of Oz lived here during the filming of the movie?  Melissa and I both loved that iconic film and looking out the window imagining a day in the life of one of the most memorable films in history felt a bit surreal. Be sure to ask questions when you visit, this hotel is filled with historical myths and mystery.

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Vintage and Glamour, that's what you'll experience here. You can't help but feel the energy and imagine what it must have been like when Joan Crawford, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo, Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan and more dined and smoozd behind these door, "if these walls could talk."

 Whispering Angel

Whispering Angel

The Culver Hotel has been one of my favorite go-to's for a spark of creativity. They say it's haunted... who knows, maybe Glenda the Good Witch is waving her magic wand over us all as we enter this historical haven.

       "You've always had the Power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself" Glenda, the good witch.

 The Grand Lobby

The Grand Lobby

Maya Mallick who now owns this iconic property has reimagined The Culver Hotel into a glittering gem. Maya’s eye for design only adds to the charm of The Culver Hotel. Every item is personally picked and has a special place. Wherever your eye takes you, it feels like you’ve stepped into the past with a modern flair. The entryway is filled with rich colors and texture. This iconic landmark is becoming an alluring hot spot and Maya has managed to do so without losing the architectural integrity of the building.

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 The Grand Lobby also serves as a second restaurant and bar, with a patio garden nearby offering casual food and dining throughout the day. There are plenty of intimate places to sit back and enjoy the view along with great service and delicious food. In the evening you'll be enchanted with live jazz, and that Culver City cool. It's so much more than just a hotel.

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Melissa's Lunch: KALE CAESAR SALAD - White anchovy, radicchio, parmesan, garlic croutons 

My Lunch: COASTAL FARMS MIXED GREENS - Candied pecans, goat cheese, balsamic vinaigrette w/ Salmon

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Congratulations are in order! The Culver Hotel turns 100 years old September 23rd.  Join the Culver Hotel for the party of the century celebrating 100 years of Culver City and the 10th anniversary of the historic hotel's remarkable revitalization. Saturday, September 23rd, 2017, 8:00 PM

Don't miss The Velvet Lounge- located on the Mezzanine Level - Reminiscent of a 1920’s ‘Speakeasy’ with a twist of a Parisian boudoir. The Velvet Lounge is open Thursday through Saturday after 8 pm.

Also available for private parties and events.

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  Melissa and I would like to thank everyone at The Culver Hotel for a fun filled day of history, kindness and our beautiful meal. Located at 9400 Culver Blvd.  

 See you soon!

See you soon!

                            Just like they say in the movies "That's a wrap." 

Melissa and I feel so fortunate to have The Culver Hotel in the city where we live. The staff is gracious and passionate about the history and they're happy to have you. There's a lot of exciting projects that are happening in Downtown Culver City and it just might be The Yellow Brick Road to an exciting time. Be sure to schedule your next breakfast, lunch or dinner meeting... just click your heels together three times...

Here's a fun story; Charlie Chaplin was even the owner for a while until legend has it, he lost the property in a poker game to John Wayne.

Fact; 1938 – The Wizard of Oz is filmed in Culver City. Much of the cast, including all 124 ‘little people’ also known as the ‘Munchkins’, stay at the Culver Hotel. 
1939 - Gone With The Wind 

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Here are the details for The Culver Hotel 100 years Celebration. We hope you can join us there!

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ANGUILLA - BELMOND CAP JULUCA

Welcome to Cap Juluca in Anguilla. This luxury beachfront retreat in the British West Indies is known as the best beach in the Caribbean. Cap Juluca was designed and developed by Linda and Charles Hickox almost thirty years ago and has recently sold to Belmond Ltd., a hotel, and leisure company that operates luxury hotels, train services and river cruises around the world. Renovations are underway and by the end of 2018, get ready, because Cap Juluca's pristine stretch of sand is about to transform into a tropical show-stopper.

The resort's crescent-shaped Maundays Beach is the main attraction, along with the clear, turquoise water and soft white sand.  Water sports are a must... enjoy sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and snorkeling, or just float in luxury.

Cap Juluca was originally named for the rainbow spirit of the Arawak whose energy can still be felt amongst the sway of the palms and the tropical rain that comes and goes. The Arawaks were farmers and fishermen, and much of what is known about them today comes from the petroglyphs and archeological remains discovered in two ceremonial cave sites on the island.

Several years ago we visited Cap Juluca for the day, and we always said, "this is a place we must return to"  So happy to have returned for more than one day, let the vacation begin. Next time I stroll down this hallway there will be a brand new Cap Juluca,.

Happy hideaway in paradise.  Expect 80°F monthly mean temperature, with water temperatures generally ranging between 70°F and 80°F. If you choose to travel by private boat charter or shared sea shuttle, you can take the ferry from St. Maarten Depending on immigration and selected transportation, the boat trip from St. Maarten takes approximately 25 – 40 minutes, arriving at Anguilla’s Blowing Point. Shuttle to the hotel is approximately fifteen minutes. Commercial airlines fly direct to St.Maarten with a short boat ride to Anguilla or by air via Seaborne Airlines or Tradewind Aviation. 

Anguilla's main gateways are:

  • St. Maarten/St. Martin (SXM), 7 minutes
  • Puerto Rico (SJU), 45 minutes
  • Antigua (ANU), 45 minutes
  • St. Thomas (STT), 45 minutes

Looks good, feels good...it's all good.

Cap Juluca takes pride in their fresh meals with a garden-to-table approach, along with resort-grown herbs, and spices. There are some exciting new dining concepts on the way!

 Sweat Betty Top - Hermés Scarf 

Sweat Betty Top - Hermés Scarf 

My favorite activity was riding horses with the popular Zambezi  Enjoy a little history of the island while touring surrounding beaches and one of my favorite moments, taking a cool plunge in the Caribbean. Don't miss out on this tourist attraction! You can book through their facebook page or guest services at the front desk. Maybe you've never settled up... no worries these horses know the program, you do tnothng but sit back, take in the view and enjoy the experience.

And you'll need plenty of this!  ColorScience Sun Protection. You'll find yourself logging in a little more beach time here at Cap Juluca.  Shop the post below.

Why not begin your day at CapJuluca with a morning jog, a walk on the beach, or a swim in the Caribbean Sea. It's almost a mile long and from sun rise to sun set, this velvety beach never gets old.

Here's a peek at the rooms for not too much longer, every villa has an ocean view. Enjoy your open shower after your fun in the sun. New renovations are on the way.

 No filter needed at Cap Juluca. The evening is as stunning as the daytime. Follow Cap Juluca on Facebook to stay updated on renovations, and for the reopen.

 From your room right to the beach.  Nudz Beachwear  designs the perfect vacation cover up for all occasions. Be sure to use my discount code GratefulGardenia30 for your perfect cover up.

From your room right to the beach. Nudz Beachwear designs the perfect vacation cover up for all occasions. Be sure to use my discount code GratefulGardenia30 for your perfect cover up.

Anguilla style is laid-back chic, barefoot elegance, and a place to rejuvenate the soul. There are no cruise ships, casinos, or traffic,  just breathtaking beaches, and that Caribbean vibe. 

Next time you're ready to plan your vacation be sure to look out for the grand opening of Cap Juluca. You can follow them on Instagram @belmondcapjuluca. Cap Juluca is one of those special places, along with the people who work there. Belmond Hotels create the most amazing escapes, and after this extensive renovation, you'll be ready to book your next hideaway.  Thank you, Cap Juluca for a beautiful experience to add to our family memories, and we look forward to a brand new you... with that same old welcoming spirit.

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“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

WELCOME TO HOTEL LE TOINY - ST. BARTH'S

Planning our family vacations are one of our favorite topics. We look forward to pulling out a big calendar, the kind you buy at Office Depot, a map, and the conversation begins. It usually starts with discussing our bucket list, along with places we'd love to return to. Several years ago we visited St. Barth's only for the day and the conversation always came back to, "we've got to get back to St. Barth's" Excited to return to this charming Caribbean island, we booked our flights, our ferries, The Hotel Le Toiny  and little did we know we would fall so in love with this laissez- fare Caribbean paradise.  Make one trip, and you’ll find yourself immediately hooked. Hotel Le Toiny has now been ranked among the best hotels in the world for 2017 by Condé Nast Traveler (the 2017 Hot List) and Travel + Leisure. 

Hôtel Le Toiny is committed to luxury. They first opened their doors on November 1, 1992, with 14 villas and In 2015, the hotel was acquired by current owners, Charlie and Mandie Vere Nicoll, who initiated a multi-million dollar renovation. 

Welcome to your tropical home away from home. Hôtel Le Toiny. Get ready to be wowed the minute you walk through the door.  It's always refreshing when you find those magical places that go the extra mile.  Le Toiny is a "must visit spot" and once you visit...you'll know why.  It's about a 20-25 minute drive (off season) from the alluring town Gustavia and navigating St. Barth’s can be a tad intimidating if you’ve never been. We chose to take the ferry from St. Maarten to St. Barth's which was quick and efficient, and soon as your boat hits the dock you're met by a driver from The Le Toiny, they offer complimentary airport and ferry transfers. We decided to rent a car and once again effortlessly our mini cooper arrived at Le Toiny shortly after we did. I highly recommend renting a convertible, it's a super fun island to explore.

Walking into Le Toiny will take your breath away. Sitting on the cliff it overlooks the sea, seems like you're floating on a cloud overlooking the Caribbean. The salon awaits your arrival, you're so charmed with the decor, there's no need to rush to your villa. December. 15th, 2017 just in time for the high season, eight new villas will open. The debut of the new villas coincides with the hotel’s 25th anniversary.

  Lady Bee Osborn  captures that St. Barth's vibe with effortless elegance.

Lady Bee Osborn captures that St. Barth's vibe with effortless elegance.

Privacy and elegance define Hotel Le Toiny, situated in an area of the island referred to as the “Côte Sauvage.”  The villa suites are tucked away on a gentle slope overlooking the Bay and the beautiful sea. The hotel’s neutral color palette and understated decor feesl like you’re living in the pages of an interior design magazine. 

Every seating area is open-air for that outdoor living experience...a bit like a tree house. It's private, It's perfect, it's intoxicating. 

Knock-Knock you're home. The hotel completed a full redesign in 2015 by London-based Lady Bee Osborn, not only is it visually stunning, there is this aura of the ultimate escape on the entire property. You might become a bit weepy when it's time to check out.

Each one-bedroom villa includes a spacious master bedroom, separate sitting area, kitchenette and large terrace with a private infinity pool. One thing for sure... you'll wake up happy!  But first coffee.

A large bathroom featuring a soaking tub, shower overlooking the sea, vanity for two, along with a large walk-in closet. Plenty of space for the goodies you'll find from The Toiny Beach Club's boutique! If you find something you want to try on but feeling a bit sandy., no problem. It will be delivered to your room to try on at your convenience.

Wake up, dive in, start your day. Your personal paradise is right out your villa, along with this stunning view of  “Côte Sauvage"  

Cheers! Here's to gratitude and delicious coffee with the Le Toiny family, enjoying their gracious staff along with a fabulous breakfast.

 Completely let go amongst the coconut trees

Completely let go amongst the coconut trees

Get ready to unplug - The road to the beach club is still the natural terrain. Instead of modifying the road for its vehicles, Le Toiny adapted its vehicles to the road with two safari style customized Land Rover Defenders used as a shuttle to transfer guests to and from the hotel and the beach.

Who needs shoes...

The Le Toiny Beach Club is delish! Simple, elegant Meditteranean inspired cuisine. Enjoy a full beach service with loungers under the shade of Coconut palms. The Beach Club is full service, the menu arrives on a chalkboard and updated on a regular basis, and if it's not on the menu...no problem.  Bon Appétit!

Enjoy your extended meals under the palms with The Beach Club crew and your loved ones. 

Don't miss this charming boutique, perfectly curated by the owner.  A pair of historic 18th-century cottages sits amongst the coconut grove, tamarind field, garden, orchard and pineapple trees. Enjoy a glass of rosé while you shop. 

I'm always in search for little treasures I can't find back home... special pieces that keep my vibe of St. Bath's going until my return. Poupette is a favorite brand of mine, and you'll find plenty of Poupette here, along with fabulous bathing suits, hats and island jewels. It's truly a treasure chest!

Take a journey to Shell Beach

 Have lunch at  Shellona

Have lunch at Shellona

Seashells galore,  Make sure to visit Shell Beach for an incredible sunset, along with the sound of the shells washing onto the shore.

Another local favorite is Colombier, an isolated haven accessible only by boat or a exhilirating 30-minute hike. The downhill trail to get there is deceivingly easy. The way back . . . not so much. I suggest going in the early morning to avoid the afternoon heat. If you enjoy a good hike, don't miss out on this trail.

We loved our daily discovery in our Mini Cooper, but don't be gone too long, You'll find yourself wanting to return to your Le Toiny family.

Serenity Spa Cottage

Surrounded by lush vegetation with beautiful views of the ocean, the Serenity Spa Cottage features a wide range of Spa treatments. Technicians use Elemis an exclusive cosmetic line. Your skin, body and mind will thank you.

 There’s a treatment room that accommodates a single or couple’s treatments. The fitness center is a perfect size, Le Toiny’s new gym features all the equipment you need for a complete workout.

Unwind, relax, and rejuvenate your soul

Come rain or shine Hotel Le Toiny's got you covered 

Doorway to Heavan - If you forget your beach tote, no worries...your villa comes with one you won't want to leave behind.

Hotel Le Toiny creates magic, It's moment's like these that keep you and you and your loved ones returning to that special place time after time.

Pack your bags...We're going to St. Barth's... music to my ears. Thank you Le Toiny, We walked away with wonderful family memories, a few new friends, and a love for your Caribbean charm... Merci!

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Please see Instagram for all clothing and accessories worn in St. Barth's.

 

Getting There
There are no direct flights to St. Barth’s . . . unless you charter your own plane. If a PJ isn’t a possibility, the next best option is flying to Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side of St. Maarten, where, upon landing, you’ll have to choose your own adventure for the final leg: a 15-minute plane ride or a roughly 45-minute ferry crossing. Flying will get you to paradise quickly, but the flight itself—a 12 seat puddle-jumper—is not for the faint of heart. (The runway in St. Barth's also happened to be one of the shortest in commercial aviation, you can watch a few youtube videos to see the exciting landings! Book your flights in advance on either Winair or St Barth Commuter, the only commercial airlines that provide shuttle flights to and from the island. We chose the ferry: an incredibly efficient option for an effortless arrival. Buy your tickets in advance on either Great Bay Express or the Voyager to secure your seat.

The Beaches
St Barth's offers diverse beaches. There are sixteen of them in total, each with its own special touch. Saline Beach you can get lost in the white sand that feels like velvet. Saline, like most other beaches on St. Barth’s, is simple—no bars, no shops, no restaurants. If you prefer a more vibrant scene, St. Jean is where Eden Rock and Nikki Beach are located. Surfers like Le Toiny or Lorient and the snorkelers at Gouverneur or Petite Anse. Cheval Blanc is another beautiful beach area.

Restaurants

Our favorite spot for dinner in town was Bonita. Latin-French food along with the ambiance was just perfect. Diverse menu, a D.J. with that groovy beat, When the sun goes down St. Barth's comes alive in whatever way that fits your style. 

Isola -  For Italian food lovers L’Isola is renowned for its sophisticated Italian recipes, prepared using only the very finest ingredients imported directly from Italy. An elegant restaurant, a true culinary experience.  

La Gloriette  - Delicious pizza and seafood, a place where you can feel like a local. We loved this place. So casual but so French. The food Is fantastic. The staff is lovely and there's no shortage of flowing Rosé. No shoes needed here, toes in the sand, pizza & wine in hand... I'm in!

TRAVELING LIGHT WITH CALPAK

Summer time, travel time! Are you in the market for a new carry-on? No matter where I'm traveling to... land or sea,  my carry-on packing routine is nearly always the same, my favorite essentials, entertainment, comfort, and of course... the perfect carry-on luggage. CALPAK  not only holds the necessities and then some, they make it so easy to travel InStyle. 

 Skirt & Top from  Market in Brentwood     Pomandere

Skirt & Top from Market in Brentwood   Pomandere

Take the Ambeur collection on your next getaway! The CALPAK Ambeur White Carry-On features 8 multi-directional spinner wheels that offer effortless mobility, a retractable handle, and is expandable for extra storage. The interior is fully lined and includes an easy to clean mesh zip pocket and an adjustable tie belt to hold clothing in place. Take a look at their website, and find the perfect color for you.

You'll have smooth sailing with CALPAK along with staying organized. It's easy to clean, just have your handy wipes with you & what I love the most, it's incredibly light-weight. I prefer the white for Summer, and for this price, you might want to choose another color!

Program your personal lock

  • Lightweight and durable hard-shell body
  • Large main compartment
  • Push button heavy duty handle system
  • Cushioned top and side handles
  • Mounted TSA-approved combination lock
  • Expandable for additional packing capacity
  • Eight 360-degree spinner wheels
  • Fully featured signature interior lining including:
    • Zippered divider that creates two separate packing compartments
    • Zippered accessory pocket
    • Elastic accessory pockets
    • Side pocket
    • Elastic tie belt

Having the expandable packing capacity is a huge help along with packing cubes. CALPAK offers a fun cube with see-through mesh along with label id tags.

The F-1  Spacepak Sets are my personal way of keeping your luggage tidy,  Packing tip; I also take photos of the clothing articles in each bag. The Spacepak Sets system maximizes luggage space by compressing about a week's worth of clothing in compact compartments that fit together perfectly in your suitcase or carry-on.

 Add this stylish Sweaty Betty Backpack with your carry-on. Black with rosegold hardware.

Add this stylish Sweaty Betty Backpack with your carry-on. Black with rosegold hardware.

I just feel happy when I wear Sweaty Betty, so why not carry it too?

 Master & Dynamic Earphones 

Master & Dynamic Earphones 

The ultimate experience for perfect sound. Get lost in your music, your movies or just quiet the world around you.

I look at traveling as a journey of the unknown and opening up to new ideas. Traveling offers us just that, so many opportunities for personal and spiritual growth, you appreciate your life and others when you step into a different environment.  It's a gift to have the chance to meet new people, understand their culture, and learn a little history. It's also a time to reflect and why not take a travel journal with you to document your journey and of course...express your Gratitude. Let yourself enjoy every moment, and don't forget to pack your good attitude and look up!

There's only one friend that's not so fond of my CALPAK luggage when it comes out...especially if I'm not packing his toys.  Next road trip pal. 

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VAMOS A CUBA!

Just 45 minutes out of Miami Florida, 90 miles south of Key West, a thirty-minute cab ride to town and say hello to Cuba!  A beautiful and dilapidated environment basically untouched.  I am fascinated with this tragically beautiful city, and yes colorful city The Cuban people are proud, they're kind, and generous. Don't miss a day without asking a local about Cuban life. 

I think this was the only day we rode in a 'typical' taxi, the rest of our trip we cruised around Cuba in style "old-school" style. Some of the vintage cars are in pristine condition others are simply old and rusty and most are privately owned and shared, meaning the drivers share their cars so other drivers can also make money. 

Checking into the Hotel Nacional was simple and organized. You'll want to exchange your money at the front desk, and you will need cash for everything.  Hotel National has been there since 1930, it had a renovation in 1992 and is considered a 5 Star. The rooms are fairly large, lots of closet space, and clean.

There are two pools and a gym. I suggest walking and dining outside of your hotel on most occasions. 

  Nudz Beachwear  - Use GratefulGardenia30 for 30% discount

Nudz Beachwear - Use GratefulGardenia30 for 30% discount

The hotel has incredible potential, you can't stop daydreaming about what it must have been like 'back in the day.'  In the 50s most likely you would've seen Hollywood royals like Elizabeth Taylor or Frank Sinatra in the bar at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba or find Liberace at the Tropicana Nightclub. The dress code is casual, there's not really a certain style for tourist, the locals wear Caribbean-style clothing, and the men love their Mexican wedding shirts. I suggest simple dresses, shorts, and flats. The streets are a little uneven and you will want to walk after your meal, so comfy shoes are suggested. Cuba at night is a magical experience, when you're walking along the streets, people leave their doors wide open so you can have a peek into their lives and enjoy music playing  from everywhere. The glamor days are gone but the spirit is still lives on.

Oh hello handsome! Morning coffee at Hotel Nationale with my peacock friend.

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Here' our first introduction to Old Havana.  Soon as you step out of the taxi, you'll have a glimpse into the Cuban culture. 

Dance and music are a lifeline in Cuba and it’s the birthplace of classic dances such as the Bolero, Cha Cha, and Mambo. Some famous musicians include superstar Celia Cruz, singer Olga Guillot, musician Arturo Sandoval, and the Buena Vista Social Club. Every street you roam you'll find musicians like these, amazing sounds and smiling faces. 

Our first stop for Cuban food - El Del Frente

Frente is a must along with the fresh mojitos, rice, and beans. There is no shortage of food. I suggest sharing a salad and entre.  My husband and I split a fresh, and I do mean fresh mojito and shared soft tacos and empanadas.  Everything was excellent.

There's good energy here, and the staff is lovely.  The restaurant has an upstairs and a rooftop bar. While the view was not scenic or spectacular, if weather permits I suggest sitting outside and listening to the music and noises of Havana.  We decided to sit inside with the air, it was a little too hot for the rooftop.  Service was terrific, attentive and prompt, and we did tip our servers. 

Your credit cards won't work here, you'll need cash for everything. You can exchange your money in your hotel. Don't forget to do so, you don't want to stand in line somewhere outside of your hotel. The average price for the three of us to eat lunch and dinner cost around $45-$50. If you have wine with dinner it's around $75. Just to be safe take extra cash. We're light eaters for breakfast, so coffee, fruit and toast cost around $20.00 for three.

El Floridita is one of the most iconic bars and restaurants on the island and was often frequented by Ernest Hemingway. It is said that the Daiquiri was invented there. The roots of El Floridita is older than America’s Prohibition itself. In 1820 it was known as The Silver Pineapple (La Piña de Plata) then later became La Florida, which eventually became  El Floridita.

  Because El Floridita is known as the Cradel of the Daiquiri, this is a quote attributed to Ernest Hemingway, who visited on many days at 10am..There is a statue of Hemingway that sits where he sat, in the corner of the bar. Rum and Coke in Latin America (except in Cuba) is known as a 'Cuba Libre' (free Cuba in English. In Cuba is called a ‘mentirita’ (or fib in English) On New Year’s Eve Cubans burn dolls in order to symbolize forgetting bad times and looking forward to new and good times during the new year.

You can negotiate on the taxi rides to and from your hotel into town, I do suggest you brush up on your Spanish, it helps tremendously. Round trip taxi cost about $25.00. If you stay at Hotel Nationale it's about a 25-minute walk into town. 

  Hotel Manzana  is the newest hotel, opening in May 2017 

Hotel Manzana is the newest hotel, opening in May 2017 

Until 2011, the only cars that Cubans can legally own are cars created and bought before 1959. After this year, the Cuban government seized all of the cars and owns them all to this day. Most of the pre-1959 Cars in Cuba are from the U.S. Everyday I absolutely loved stepping into these old classic rides.

We never felt unsafe walking around town day or night, like any new city you travel to,  just make an extra effort to be aware.

Museo de la Revolucion; This museum is a beautiful building and contains exhibits from the revolution. Due to a lack of funds, the museum is not up to par with our usual museum experiences, but the artifacts are fascinating. I would suggest reading up on Cuban history then walk through the museum chronologically, by the end, you'll have a clearer understanding of how everything transpired to the situation we know today. Cuba is one of the world’s last remaining socialist countries, following the Marxist-Leninist ideologies.

The entire pace of Cuba requires patience, so get ready to dial it down a notch or two...or three.

I do suggest you visit the Partagas Cigar Factory, you can purchase your tickets from the front desk of the hotel for $10.00 a piece. The 166-year-old Partagás Factory, hands down, this is Cuba’s best-known cigar factory and certainly the one most frequented by tourists. Standing outside requires a bit of patience. Most likely you will be approached by locals selling cigars... even by the front door. Don't buy them, After the tour, your guide takes you into a private room with your purses or backpacks (I suggest wearing a money belt or something close to your body so you can keep your wallet, phone/camera on you.) Only purchase from your tour guide or the factory, others are sure to be counterfeit. you're allowed 25 cigars a person,  the Romeo & Juliet's (most popular) were $15 a piece.

The factory is clean and very efficient, there’s a beautiful old marble staircase to the left when you enter. The rolling gallery is one of Havana’s largest, with huge windows along either side with natural light shining through for the workers. There are 204 torcedores working here. It looks a bit like the old prisons you see in movies, but it's very organized, and honestly, you get used to the smell of cigars pretty quick.

Havana is the birthplace of the premium cigars The smell of unlit cigar tobacco, earthy and pungent and remarkably intoxicating. These leaves felt like velvet. The production here is unlike almost every place else. Cuban cigarmakers, unlike their counterparts in most of the non-Cuban cigar world, make the entire cigar themselves. Women are considered the ultimate artist when it comes to rolling cigars.

Workers roll about 50 cigars a day and are allowed to smoke 2 cigars a day.

The factory is buzzing with row after row of workers measuring and perfecting every cigar by hand. It's unrushed, antique and an artisanal process, one that hasn't changed for hundreds of years, and yes there is strict quality control. We were told there's no room for error when working in this room. If you've made it to this area, you get only a few bad rolls, then you're out, and there's no shot at a second chance. It's mandatory for each worker to read only classical literature along with Cuban newspapers only. You won't find magazines or billboards anywhere in Cuba.

Here are a few local Cuban women enjoying their cigars.

El Cocinero opened right next to FAC in February 2013. This hot spot has instantly become a favorite. Located underneath the imposing brick chimney of the same name that used to be a vegetable oil factory.

After a wait at the front door even if you have a reservation, you'll be led up  3 flights of circular stairs, similar to a lighthouse, and yes it's worth it. This place has a renovated artistic feel, fun music, nice décor and has attracted a mixed crowd of affluent young Cuban locals and tourist.

 Cuba, an island composed of keys, an installation at Fabrica de Arte Cubano, Havana

Cuba, an island composed of keys, an installation at Fabrica de Arte Cubano, Havana

 

Fábrica de Arte Cubano (Cuban Art Factory)  Located in Vedado at Calle 26 -This is a must see!  Cuban artist wait for two years or more to be seen inside this space.   It's delightfully hip and unique venue (frequented mainly by young and fashionable Cubans) with a nightclub, live music, live performances artist and anything that might be labeled as artistic, it's here. If you're a traveler who wonders "where do the cool and fashionable locals go?"  It's here.

Making our way to LaGuardia Restaurant was just as exciting as eating there. Fidel's spirit, of course, is felt and seen everywhere you go.

There's something so intoxicating about this vibrant and crumbling city.

Paladares are privately owned restaurants housed in shabby-chic quarters, our first evening we dined at La Guarida, quite a dramatic setting, arriving there was just as exciting as eating there. We had fish, rice, beans, and salad. Simple and stasyfing. 

The city takes on a whole new color at night, if you love the nightlife, you'll come alive in Havana.

While in Cuba you must take a ride to the beautiful beach Cojimar, about twenty minutes from town and visit La Terraza,  a legendary fishing village in Cojímar, another of Hemingway’s haunts; La Terraza de Cojímar Restaurant. The place actually opened back in 1925 as a cheap restaurant called Las Arecas, and it was in 1940 that it became an exclusive restaurant and bar under a new name: La Terraza. It soon became famous with international visitors, and Ernest Hemingway was the most loyal customer of all. He would come here regularly after going out to sea with his loyal and faithful friend, Gregorio Fuentes, the ultimate fisherman who was the first mate of the writer’s boat, the Pilar. Gregorio taught Hemmingway everything he knew about fishing. In 1952 "The Old Man and The Sea" was published. Gregorio passed away at 104 years old, he never read Hemmingway's book. I guess you could say he lived it.

Pictured above is the author’s favorite corner table, which has a picturesque view of his beloved ocean, permanently set for its most famous customer. Picture Ernest Hemmingway sitting right here, visions and words falling into place for The Old Man and The Sea. La Terraza is in tip top condition, an incredibly peaceful place and most likely the spirit of Ernest Hemmingway returns often. Ernest Hemingway lived in Cojimar for some years and this was his favorite restaurant.

The seawall, called the Malecón, is where most of the Cuban locals spend their evenings enjoying the city view. It is referred to as "Havana's sofa."

When you go to Cuba, hit the ground running. Don't miss out on feeling so alive and connected while having no wi-fi connection. Remember the days when you ran out of the house, hopped on your bike or in your car and you felt free? There's something to be said about feeling free in Cuba and what a contradiction that is.

Gentleman's rendezvous.  

The weather was perfect in April, a little humid and balmy in the evening.

Hotel Saratoga - Is beautiful Inside, there is a wait for this hotel so book in advance if you choose to stay here. The Manzana is Cuba's newest hotel that just opened.

 Hotel Saratoga - Hotel Saratoga was finally completed with the hotel opening its doors to guests in December 2005. The Hotel is located just inside the historical center of Havana.

During and after Prohibition, American gangsters made their way to Cuba, mafia heavies such as Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano. The jet-setting glamorous party crowd soon followed, attracted by a tropical haven where drinks flowed freely and gambling and showgirls were all part of the day.

Transported back in time.

We had the chance to meet one of Cuba's top young entrepreneurs; Carlos Garcia the founder of Kewelta. Carlos is leading the way for technology and his office is around the corner from the Hotel Nacional. We were invited to his office to meet his team, and talking with them left you with certainty, that this group of young entrepreneurs are switched on. Carlos can be seen on CNN talking about his vision for what's on the horison for Cuban technology. 

If you want to know about Cuba, ask the people. Cubans are happy to have the tourism, and they truly enjoy talking about their families, their culture and their country.

Even the Cuban coffee is happy to see you. 

Checking in at the airport; The airlines will ask your purpose for traveling, we said "people to people" We were not traveling with a group. You can purchase your visa at the ticket counter -$20.00. Thre was limited paperwork.  There is very limited shopping, you'll spend money on cabs, food, museums, and cigars and tours. Wi-fi is only available in your hotel and it's still a bit challenging, but it was quite nice to be disconnected for awhile.

Gracias Cuba! My family enjoyed our visit and look forward to returning. P.S. love my Panama hat purchased from your market and thrilled to have our son explore & experience Havana. Thanks for the memories!

If you're interested in an organized tour contact; Collin Laverty with Cuba Educational Travel - Providing everything you'll need for a detailed Cuba experience. 

All you'll need for your Cuban trip;

Thank You For Your Support!

Just a note to say Thank you so much for your support! 2016 was an incredible journey and I can't wait to see what it's in store for the year ahead. Whatever your desires are for 2017 I would love to help you launch your vision into the New Year.  Take your dreams, see it in your mind's eye, take that feeling of excitement into the future & bring that into your presence and that is the best present you could ever receive.  Have a wonderful Holiday...Blessings to you and your family.... 

 What we put out into the world always comes back! 

What we put out into the world always comes back! 

Thank You & 2017 Here We Come!

AMANGIRI -SPIRITUAL SANCTUARTY

Welcome to the AMANGIRI - Located on an expanse of wilderness in Canyon Point, Southern Utah, close to the border with Arizona. If you live in California, you can hop in your car and in eight hours you will arrive in paradise. I'm not a huge fan of road trips, but I must say if you choose to fly instead of drive you will miss spectacular scenery along the way. Our first stop was Death Valley, another incredible experience... then drove through Zion, Lake Powell, and Page Arizona. If you feel like getting a little lost in nature's beauty and unplugging from your busy life, take a drive to Utah and in eight hours...you will feel like a new person.

Amangiri, located on a spectacular 600+ acre site in southern Utah, is an Adrian Zecha-inspired design in collaboration with architects Rick Joy, Marwan Al-Sayed and Wendell Burnett. Together they have created a bold yet enchanting settlement that both honors and celebrates the magic and mystery of southern Utah's magnificent cliffs and rock formations, as well as the region’s ancient Navajo heritage. The architect's goal was to build something that was a contemporary interpretation of native Indian architecture. Not perfectly adapted, but hopefully generating a sense and spirit of it. Also, that it would respect the natural environment. This was the most important aspect of the whole development.”  The resort is surrounded by the Grand Circle of Iconic attractions: Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce and Zion National Parks.

I will say it was Love at First Sight as we hiked along the trails. I found this heart shaped rock on our first hike. You'll find you tap into your heart chakra quickly here. Love these Nike hiking shoes, they are comfortable and give great support.

 Welcome

Welcome

The entry way is designed to work with the scenery, the resort is mixed with natural tones and materials, along with the stone floors and the concrete walls, which feels like you are visiting a contemporary gallery. 

 Lobby Area

Lobby Area

Curl up with a good book in the lobby, everywhere you sit you have a view of the gorgeous desert and mountains. You might want to disconnect, but you'll have plenty of wi-fi if and when you need it. You will find yourself getting lost just staring out the window looking at the horizon.

There are 34 rooms perfect rooms you won't want to leave. I sat my alarm so I could enjoy every minute possible.

You have a private seating area in the front and the back of your suite. As the sun sets, the sky and everything around you begin to change color. It was truly a magical experience, comfort, and luxury.

 Plenty of space in the dressing area

Plenty of space in the dressing area

 Beautiful view while relaxing in a bath

Beautiful view while relaxing in a bath

 Seating area at the front door of your room.  Jana Feifer  Tote   Kimono by:   Everelse Designs

Seating area at the front door of your room. Jana Feifer Tote   Kimono by:  Everelse Designs

Chef Jacob Anaya brings with him more that 15 years of experience. Locally sourced, farm-fresh produce are displayed artistically with every meal which are included, you will be charged for  your alcohol. 

 We looked forward to every meal, wake up and enjoy your breakfast while taking in this fabulous view.

And yes...repeat the view for lunch & dinner.

The focus of the resort is the Pavilion - Living Room, Dining Room, Library and Gallery, and the swimming pool, which wraps around a natural rock escarpment, which is 165 million years old... Pretty powerful.  You have the essential elements of this landscape that bring together the water, rock, and sky. Amangiri is so remote that there's literally nothing else to see here except nature... how refreshing.

Th Aman spa is 25,000 square feet of tranquility. Treatments include Navajo cultural traditions, Yoga, on a platform beside the mountains, Pilates, hiking, and horseback riding are just a few of the activities offered. 

You can find the perfect set-up for a workout. There is also a Teepee on the property along with a private home.

 Entry to the spa

Entry to the spa

 Every square inch of this property is paradise

Every square inch of this property is paradise

 Take a jacuzzi while watching the sun set as everything around you takes on a different tone.

Take a jacuzzi while watching the sun set as everything around you takes on a different tone.

It's highly suggested to set your alarm for sunrise at 5:15, so I did. They're happy to serve you coffee while you sit back and enjoy the view as Mother Earth presents the day.

And then this appeared..so happy I woke up early!

Hiking is a must here, the energy you receive from the mountains and the earth will wake up your soul and get your creative juices flowing.

There is something, mysterious and magical about the property. You wake up clear headed, feeling alive and grateful. Just a reminder of how incredible our planet is, and the possibilities that await us.

 Looks like another heart to me...

Looks like another heart to me...

You will experience the elements of the Native American tribes that once settled in the area. Can you imagine the vision of these three architects when they first saw this land?

 We can't wait to return Amangiri, Thank you for your hospitality. 

We can't wait to return Amangiri, Thank you for your hospitality. 

What a special property and the staff were amazing. We are huge fans of the Aman resorts and Amangiri is one for the bucket list. As we left, I began to think about our return... Take a drive, feel alive and let nature reboot, reconnect and rejuvenate your soul...       

                           Thank you Mother Nature Thank you Planet Earth

WELCOME TO DUBROVNIK

Our final destination in Croatia was Dubrovnik, a city in Southern Croatia along the Adriatic Sea It's known for its extraordinary Old Town, encompassed with massive stone walls completed in the 16th century, there are about 43,000 people living here amongst massive stone walls that were completed in the 16th century. You will find well-preserved buildings and streets paved with limestone. Once again we had great meals, stunning blue water, and fun experiences in this pedestrian-only Old Town. 

The above photo is the view from our hotel room at The Hotel Excelsior. You can walk out the front door and within a twelve-minute walk, accompanied with a gorgeous view you will enter through the gates of Old Town.

After departing the ferry, you will see plenty of taxi's waiting for your arrival. Forty minutes from the dock and you arrive into town. The first part of the day you might want to spend a little time taking in the view and relaxing by the sea before heading into Old-Town. There is an indoor pool directly behind the sun chairs, but the beauty is under an umbrella, relaxing on the promenade while unwinding with a glass of rosè.

Take a breather from the sun with delicious Mediterranean cuisine. The beach bar, which is in a cave under the hotel, is so mystical with its stalactites and rock formations. The staff is lovely, our waiter was happy to share a little history of Dubrovnik.

Hotel Excelsior sets in a former 1913 royal villa overlooking the Adriatic Sea and Old Town. The rooms are modern, you have free Wi-Fi, minibars, and room service 24/7... be sure to request a room with a balcony. Breakfast is free, there are three sea-view restaurants, you can enjoy your breakfast out on the patio with a view of the sea or indoors. Hotel Excelsior is known for the history of royal and celebrity guests, such as Queen Elizabeth ll, Elizabeth Taylor. There is an old-school feel and when you're there you can truly appreciate the magnificence of the setting. You will experience more than a hundred years of history.

On your way to Old Town, you pass beautiful beaches and charming apartments while wrapping around the Adriatic. 

Behind the ancient walls in Old Town, beautiful music plays day and night. Old Town is a bit small but the huge gothic walls and cobblestone streets give it a grand feeling. 

We were told to head to Mea Culpa for the BEST pizza in the village. Great service, and fun atmosphere.

If you love pizza, here's the place... show up a little early because it's packed! Our meal was yummy and you get a real feel the Croatian life buzzing all around you. Would I go back to Mea Culpa? Thumbs up.

The Assumption Cathedral - Originally built in the 6th or 7th century in the Byzantine style, then rebuilt as a Romanesque church between the 12th and 14th centuries. According to legend, the rebuild was financed by a donation from king Richard the Lionheart after he was shipwrecked and rescued in Dubrovnik. The cathedral was badly damaged in the earthquake of 1667 and rebuilt in the Baroque style by Roman architects Andrea Buffalini and Paolo Andreotti.

Welcome to Cafe Buza...better known as "the hole in the wall" In the old Dubrovnik Buža means "hole" and no kidding... you have to go through the hole-in-the-wall that leads to casual tables with a birds-eye-view of cliff divers, and jumping.  Buza serves wine, beer, potato chips & nuts. Don't blink, or you'll miss the entrance.

Make your way down the narrow stairs and cozy up under an umbrella and enjoy the natural beauty of this unique spot.

Hanging out on the cliffs right above the sea and enjoy the show.

I can never resist a cliff or a diving board. I spent the summer in this VitaminA one piece and I just want to say... I loved it! 

Sea Kayaking Sunset Tour - Paddle beneath city walls until you reach hidden cave beach called Betina where you will have a break for swimming and snorkenling. You will then padle around Lokrum Island and explore its caves. When you return you can watch the sunset on the Elaphite Islands with a glass of the local wine and cheeses.

Our last night we found a charming restaurant Proto Fish Restaurant. Located in the centre of the Old Town since 1886. Proto is renowned for recipes from old traditional recipes of Dubrovnik fishermen.  

I had the seafood risotto, it was absolutely delicious! Our waiter suggested one of his favorite  local red wines. The Croatian people are very proud of their country and passionate about  their food and wine. 

On our walk back to the hotel there was a cover band of The Beatles. They not only looked like The Beatles, but they also sounded like them. Old Town was full of music that night, it was incredibly cool! Modern, old, new, and music from the past that never gets old.

The next morning we took off early for a walk away from town. Stroll along sea-side the whole way so you have a lovely scenic view and you catch a little breeze. 

And found this little slice of heaven. During the day you pretty much live in your bathing suit. 

We found Villa Dubrovnik Hotel.  A boutique hotel that sits on the sea with a spectacular view of the Old City and Island Lokrum. The property is surrounded by pine, orange, and lemon trees. 

Positioned on the cliffs above the Dubrovnik's St. Jacob precinct, newly renovated Villa Dubrovnik is about a 30-minute walk into Old Town or a quick car ride offered by the hotel. 

Dubrovnik is surrounded by stunning beaches, gardens and turquoise waters. You will want to walk the town; There is so much to see and experience.

 Dubrovnik's famous city walls

Dubrovnik's famous city walls

You won't want to miss the walk along The city walls that surround Old Town. The walls are 6,365 feet long, and you can walk all the way around them. It takes a little over an hour. If you need to get down, there is a half way mark. You will explore Dubrovnik from an entirely new angle. You can climb the highest point of Old Town and take in amazing views over the city's red roofs. You will see sailboats, kayakers; you pass by Buza Beach, and you will see plenty of souvenir shops along the way offering authentic Croatian souvenirs. Yes, it's a bit Game of Thrones because it's a popular place for filming the t.v. series. There is a whole other world going on from above the city. You will see restaurants on rooftops that you can't see when walking around the town. Don't miss out on this walk; it's worth it.

I look forward to returning to Croatia one day. I found every island to be unique and special in its own way. The Croation people are generous and proud of their history. They look forward to sharing their culture with you. 

Overall Croatia is charming, and I have a feeling we might be reading a little more about this tourist spot along the Adriatic Sea.  Bye for now...but not for long.

     "Traveling - It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller."   Ibn Battuta

WELCOME TO HVAR CROATIA

With over a thousand Croatian islands in the Adriatic Sea, Hvar is the island that is most popular and voted as one of the best of the best. If you're longing for peace, gourmet food, fun in the sun and zipping along the sea, you can satisfy all of life's little treasures right here in Hvar.

Hvar (pronounced hwahr) has been a popular resort destination for over a century. Croatia is a member of the European Union, and my guess is...you'll begin to see and hear a lot more about the charm of Croatia. As you make your way into town you'll pass the harbor and enjoy the crystal clear water filled with charming vessels.

 Hvar has a mild Mediterranean climate and alluring beaches of pebble, smooth sun-bleached stone and white sand. It's one of the sunniest spots in Europe, with sunshine averaging about 2,720 hours a year.

Hvar has a mild Mediterranean climate and alluring beaches of pebble, smooth sun-bleached stone and white sand. It's one of the sunniest spots in Europe, with sunshine averaging about 2,720 hours a year.

 The main piazza - St. Stephen's Cathedral

The main piazza - St. Stephen's Cathedral

Hvar Town has one of Dalmatia's largest town squares, a large 17th-century building that later became a Renaissance theatre, and the Cathedral of St Stjepan, a splendid example of the Dalmatian Renaissance with a four-level bell tower. 

Everywhere you walk the cobblestone streets and winding pathways change color as the sun begins to set. 

We stayed at the Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort which includes the Bonj Les Bains beach club, a 1930's white stone colonnade and the island's most glamorous spot for soaking up the rays.

The Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort offers a wide range of water activities, a smooth sandy beach, paddle boards, snorkeling and if you have a chance you'll want to rent a boat. We rented one for 6 hours and it was a blast, we had so much fun exploring the islands, tossing you anchor anywhere you want, diving in and swimming in crystal clear water.

 Benedictine Convent and Church of St. Anthony the Abbot, 17th-18th cent.

Benedictine Convent and Church of St. Anthony the Abbot, 17th-18th cent.

The Benedictine Convent has been located here since 1664, originally in the residential complex of the poet Hanibal Lucić's family (1485-1553), which was left by his daughter-in-law Julija in her will to the Benedictines in 1591. Next to the convent is the Baroque church of st. Anthony the Abbot and John the Baptist from the 17th cent.

We found GIAXA on our first night in town. Their stunning light fixture instantly caught our attention. In the 15th century, during the Venetian rule, Hvar became the major port on the east coast of the Adriatic. The city walls were completed in 1450 and the Franciscan Monastery is under construction (1461). By the end of the century, a noble family called Jakša built a family palace of Late Gothic style. After five hundred years of upgrades and changes, you will find GIAXA (Venetian name for Jakša). Beautiful setting, a true culinary experience from chef Marko Krolo. (credit cards accepted).

BACCHUS - By far our favorite lunch experience. Bacchus Palmizana (on the Pakleni islands) You will need a boat to enjoy Bacchus and it's worth it!

Wrapped in an oasis of tranquility, enjoy an amazing view and loose yourself in the shade of an olive grove. The service was exceptional and the food was incredibly satisfying...so we returned the following day .(Bacchus takes credit cards).

 Fresh off the boat, nice catch!

Fresh off the boat, nice catch!

Favorite dishes were the grilled calamari, garlic spinach, grilled fish, and you can't beat the view. We loved it so much we returned the next day for lunch. Try to get a table by the water, but everywhere you sit is a great experience. The olive trees are magical and provide excellent shade for a sunny day.

Bacchus is a family run restaurant, located in their own olive grove, the restaurant offers a natural, tranquil atmosphere along with a specific method of cooking in a traditional bread oven. Overall it was a terrific experience. 

There is plenty of spaces available to anchor a boat, large or small. It all flows effortlessly. 

After a tasty lunch, head back to your boat for a refreshing swim. The water temperature is just the right amount of chill and feels exhilarating when you take the plunge.

After spending the day on the sea, I had my family drop me off in the harbor for a little afternoon shopping. Easy in, easy out.

I found YUYU to be the best boutique on the island. You can find everything you need to remember your trip from here. The overall dress-code is casual, a kaftan, shorts sandals...it's really all you'll need.

Bathing suite, shoes, clutches, jewelry, and adorable kaftans.

We found MACONDO on the second night of our trip and returned the following night for a repeat performance. The owner is there on hand, along with an attentive staff and the food was fresh and excellent.  Be sure to sit outside on the walkway, which makes for a fun people watching experience. Many of the customers are locals, and that's usually a good sign.

I had fish every night while we were in Croatia. The food is simple, fresh and delicious.  It's also really well priced. Here you will need Cash.

Amfora Grand Beach Resort - Most rooms have a birds eye view. If you stay here you will have access to the private beach club Bonj les bains and it's about a 5-minute walk along the sea into town.

The Bonj 'les bains' beach club offers lounge chairs, towels, umbrellas and private pontoons for all-day shade. 

When you're ready to head to your next island you will want to take the ferry; it was a delightful, smooth, easy and relaxing ride. I suggest your tickets a day or two before you depart.

Hotel Adriana is located in town with this amazing view of the harbour. The Amfora and the Adriana are the main hotels. I noticed several apartments when strolling along inside the town that looked charming, I think that's worthy of looking into.

 HVAR

HVAR

Don't forget your swim goggles, it's absolutely dreamy under here!  Next stop...Dubrovnik.

     “For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea.” – e.e. Cummings

WELCOME TO SPLIT CROATIA

We always look forward to our Summer excursions, especially when we are about to journey to an unknown territory. We had read several articles on the beauty of Croatia, so we got busy with a little research, and off we went...and so happy we decided to explore this seafront promenade.

 First stop: Split

First stop: Split

Split, Croatia is the second-largest city of Croatia and the largest city of the region of Dalmatia. It lies on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, centered on the Roman Palace of Emperor Diocletian. Surrounded by mountains and sea, Split has it all: Roman ruins, shops, and fantastic restaurants! 

Stroll along the promenade and you'll find plenty of areas to relax and appreciate the history along with a breth-taking view.

 Watching the city wake up on my morning run.

Every stone-paved path you turn on is more exciting than the next. We followed the voices and stumbled on this courtyard of incredible singers.

It's magical, mystical and you feel as if you're on the back lot of a movie set. The stone changes color as the sun begins to set, you will find an abundance of little restaurants at every turn, every corner. It's hard to decide where to park yourself for a meal. We found the places on the inside were the best, always look for a few locals and you can usually find an authentic experience, and fewer tourist. 

 Croatia grows an abundance of Lavander. Oils, lotions, and potions were available everywhere, and we found scarves...(my favorite) and their Olive Oil was incredible!  Make sure you wear a shoe that has a rubber sole. The first time I stepped out in my flat sandals, I almost had a close encounter with the stone floor! All of Croatia is paved with these stones, so FYI wear rubber soles. It's fairly casual so you can save your favorite heels for another location. The shoes I'm wearing in the photo, I purchesad in Capri. They are perfect for walking around day or night. They're no too high, and very comfy. Most importantly...no slipping! You can find them on Amazon. Made by Toni Pons.  (you can shop the post below)

 

Diocletian's Palace, a Unesco World Heritage site dating back to A.D. 295, and a recent film location for "Game of Thrones"  The "palace" is a mini-city of its own. There are more that 200 buildings and 3,000 residents within an eight-acre enclosed space. At night you can listen to beautiful music as you wander the streets.

Welcome to BOKERIA - The best restaurant in Split.

BOKERIA was recommended to us from a friend. The owner and manager and yes, you might find him in the kitchen... is Luka. He's from Split, attended UCLA, played water-polo and moved back to open up the BEST restaurant in Split. We had several meals there and a water and coffee break. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A favorite for the locals.

 The interior is stunning. Bokeria was inspired by the La Boqueira market in Barcelona. It's modern and classy design, shelves lined with beautiful wine bottles and liquor. The flowers change daily, thanks to the daily market up the way, and you can experience a great vibe plus the service was excellent.

The interior is stunning. Bokeria was inspired by the La Boqueira market in Barcelona. It's modern and classy design, shelves lined with beautiful wine bottles and liquor. The flowers change daily, thanks to the daily market up the way, and you can experience a great vibe plus the service was excellent.

 A large chandelier hangs from a chain in the middle of the room and extends over two floors. You'll have the choice of Mediterranean meals and the menu is decided based on the season and the fresh, organic vegetables available. It's right in the center, just ask anyone "where is Bokeria" and you'll be sent through the city maze and land upon a real gem! Be sure to make a reservation, It's the most popular spot in Split.  (+385-21) 35 55 77 ) Ask for Luka, tell him your friends from Los Angeles sent you...the other Luca (Norton)

A large chandelier hangs from a chain in the middle of the room and extends over two floors. You'll have the choice of Mediterranean meals and the menu is decided based on the season and the fresh, organic vegetables available. It's right in the center, just ask anyone "where is Bokeria" and you'll be sent through the city maze and land upon a real gem! Be sure to make a reservation, It's the most popular spot in Split. (+385-21) 35 55 77) Ask for Luka, tell him your friends from Los Angeles sent you...the other Luca (Norton)

 

One of our favorite activities when traveling is renting a boat. We love cruising along, making stops along the way, and of course jumping in. What makes this city so charming is not just it's beaches and rocky coves of nearby islands, but it's the breathtaking tranquil blue sea. 

 Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

You can see all the way to the bottom, it's the same temperature as the South of France, so it's a bit chilly and it feels perfect the minute you take the plunge. 

Don't forget to bring your own goggles or purchase some. You're swimming in the salty sea, besides it's exciting to see every little creature under the sea. Vitamin A Swimwear  / Cressi Goggles (click on links below for shopping)

 Restaurant - DVOR  overlooking the sea. A popular game called Picigin - It's a traditional ball game from Split, that is played on the beach. It's an amateur sport played in shallow water consisting of players keeping a tiny ball from touching the water, and you must wear a Speedo.

  DVOR  - Another popular restaurant on the water, located outside of the village. It's about a 25-minute walk or a 5-minute taxi ride. We decided to stay in the village for our meals, but it's worth the walk to relax on the patio and observe in the guys playing Picigin.

DVOR - Another popular restaurant on the water, located outside of the village. It's about a 25-minute walk or a 5-minute taxi ride. We decided to stay in the village for our meals, but it's worth the walk to relax on the patio and observe in the guys playing Picigin.

  Outside Patio at DVOR while watching a game of Picigin (and they get CRAZY playing this game) it's so fun to watch.

 Outside Patio at DVOR while watching a game of Picigin (and they get CRAZY playing this game) it's so fun to watch.

As you're strolling around town and the sun is setting you can hear music and singing everywhere you go. Split comes alive at night, the sun sets around 9 pm. and it's a late crowd as most European towns are.

 Expertly baked breads and wraps.

Expertly baked breads and wraps.

Caught a great moment with a local nun walking by the statue Grgur Ninski - a  medieval Croatian bishop of Nin who strongly opposed the Pope and official circles of the Church. He introduced the national language in the religious services after the Great Assembly in 926, according to traditional Croatian history. Until that time, services were held only in Latin (being under the jurisdiction of Roman influences before the Great Schism), not being understandable to a majority of the population. Not only was this important for Croatian language and culture, but it also made Christianity stronger within the Croation kingdom.

Waking up for a morning run and finding this along the way was an inspiration to swing by on my way back. The berries, peaches, and the plums were incredible!  The market is only a minute walk past the hotel.  Nike / Alo 

Seven days a week you'll find fresh food, fruit, flowers and yes...

Sardines!  I ate sardines almost every day in Croatia. The fish was "fresh off the boat"  I do believe the fish here was the best I've ever had. 

Make sure to exchange your money before you go. Croatian money is called kuna, 20 kuna is about $3 -50 kuna -$7.40 100 kuna is about $15. Take plenty of cash, not all places take credit cards. Almost everyone speaks English and they're lovely people.

Next stop is Hvar. The hotel takes you to the Ferry, it's about a 5 minute golf cart ride - Buy your ferry tickets the day before because it sells out.

Riding the ferries from island to island is simple and enjoyable, it's a scenic route the entire way along the sea.

Map of Split. No wonder the Roman Emperor Diocletian chose this spot in Croatia to build his lavish retirement palace in AD295. 

We departed Rome on Vueling Airlines, a quick 2-hour flight, easy baggage claim and the hotel is there to greet you. It's about a 45-minute drive into Split, with a nice scenic route.

We stayed at the CORNARO HOTEL, very clean, with a helpful staff. They have wi-fi, and you will need your adapters for charging. There are several hotels to choose from, The Cornaro was a 2 minute walk into the village.

If you decide to take a vacation to Croatia and you have any questions, send me an e-mail I'd love to help if I can. Our stay was for two days and we were on the go and experience a lot in a short amount of time. I think having three days might give you a little more time for sightseeing in the village, the museums, and having another night for dinner, but you won't want to miss the other two islands, so it all depends on what you enjoy doing. We spent three nights in Hvar and two in Dubrovnik.  I look forward to returning one day. Split is so charming and It was truly some of the best food I've ever had. If you've traveld to Croatia let me know what your favorite place was.   Next stop...Hvar! 

                                        Fun Fact: The neck tie was invented in Croatia

         Since achieving their independence in 1992, the people of Croatia have built a democratic society based on the rule of law, respect for human rights, and a free market economy. Elton Gallegly

FLIGHT 001 - ORGANIZED CLOTHING & GADGET IDEAS

There's something to be said about looking stylish and being organized when heading to the airport. It's great to be in charge of your own comfort, and you feel good when the inside of your luggage is organized as well as the outside. 

The outfit you wear on the plane will be your outfit when you arrive at your destination. Choose your wardrobe that feels cozy in your seat and also works for your arrival. Vince Sweater / Adidas Superstars /  CJ Drawstring Pants / Rimowa Carry-on / J.Crew T / Emi-Jay hair ties / Ray-Ban Sunglasses / J.Crew Grey Scarf / Gucci Backpack

Welcome to FLIGHT 001 - The one stop shop for your travel treasures.

 FLIGHT 001 / 8321 West 3rd. Street, Los Angeles CA. (323) 966-0001

FLIGHT 001 / 8321 West 3rd. Street, Los Angeles CA. (323) 966-0001

So you're feeling great about your travel wear, let's take a look at a few ideas for perfect packing every time. One of my favorite things to do, before we leave for our vacation, is seek out any new inventory at FLIGHT 001.  It's like a candy shop for travelers. I've been shopping here for several years and look forward to seeing just how organized I can get. Here you will find all the necessities you need for a flawless journey. You can find great travel-related items with a little fun and fashion to make packing a lot less painful.  experience, everyone working is helpful and patient.  Travel on over to FLIGHT 001 for a one-way first-class experience and excellent customer service. Be sure to ask for Digby, he's incredibly helpful and great to work with.

When you're on a long flight and if you're in a tight space (the middle) it helps to be organized, and it's much more enjoyable if you have all of your own personal items. It seems like the AC is always blasting so why not snuggle up with your own blanket and neck pillow. I have all three items pictured above, and  I never travel without them. I look forward to using this soft and lightweight padded eye mask. It's pressure free and smudge free, so it won't leave a mark on your face!  

I'm not sure how many cute pouches I have...I've definitely lost count. But it always puts a smile on my face when I'm lurking around in my carry-on and read a positive phrase. I always take a photo of what's inside my bag; it's a great way to stay organized. I keep my vitamins, l'occitane hand lotion, eye drops, face serum, Kiehl's lip balm, and a tiny mirror inside the pink plastic bag. I have all of my charging cables, plugs and ear buds in another pouch.  All airline regulated. If you like to be an organized traveller and want great looking items, this is the place for you.

 

We started using these spacepak bags three years ago and I can't say how efficient they are. I pack a lot less when using spacepak bags and it helps they're colorful and labeled.

Don't forget your adapters. This 4-in-1 universal adapter is all you will ever need. I purchased this for my travels last year, and it's a smart & easy way to stay charged, it's color coated to make it easy-breezy . I use the toiletry spacepak bag for all of my lotions and potions and it holds up to 30 bottles. It's a perfect size and when you're unpacking; just unzip... it unfolds neatly and you'll find a small hook if you need to create a little more counter space.

Neck pillow / TSA pop quart  bag / Passport Cover (love having a bright color  / Money and Passport Holders for under your clothing - I just bought one for our son who is on a school trip, makes it safe and easy to be hands-free and on-the-go.

 Bring a little fun to your  bag tags .

Bring a little fun to your bag tags.

Don't leave home without your stretch bands. Sometimes it's fun to workout in your room and enjoy the view at the same time. While you're working out why not download a language app and learn a few phrases if you're visiting a foreign country.

Here are the other necessities packed away in one of my pouches. Handy wipes are a must. I wipe down everything...headrest, seatbelt, arms, tray table, window, and air vents. I find the heat patches work well if you're on a long flight and need to relax your muscles. Boost your immune system with Airborne tablets, put Aquaphor on your feet and then slip on your socks. SEA-BANDS if you feel a little nauseous, or your stomach is a little upset.

Steam Fast Steamer / Packs easy and works like a charm. Some hotels are equipped with an iron and ironing board, but not always. I prefer having what I need when I need it.

SKYROAM / WIFI all the time. If your flight gets delayed and you need to catch up on a little work or some on-line shopping, here's your answer. A secure service to keep you caught up. The cost is $99.99 for the initial cost and $10.00 a day for (8) hours. You can link up to 5 devices for the $10.00-day charge. It last for 10 hours, it's a little smaller than an iPhone 6; It does not work on a plane. When you're traveling around and need a connection, here's the solution.  Set up time is about 5 minutes.  We had a two hour drive today, and oh boy am I happy I had this!  We were lost, but now found thanks to the SKYROAM.  I whipped it out of my bag and off we safely went. Thank You Skyroam!!  You really do work.

 

No matter where you're headed be grateful for the journey. It's that time when we step out of our routines and make some new discoveries. It's a chance to reconnect with our family, friends and ourselves...meet new people and embrace different cultures. Sometimes when we discover the unknown all things seem possible.

        “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

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ROSEWOOD MAYAKOBA

Our family always enjoys vacationing in Mexico, we love the weather, food, and the culture. Rosewood Mayakoba is just one more reason to say "Vive le Mexico"  Here at the Rosewood Mayakoba on the Riviera Maya... a chic alternative to a resort, you can explore 1,600 acres of  jungle, lagoons, and white-sand beaches. Mayakoba opened it's doors in 2008 and sits along the mile-long arc of Caribbean white sand, just north of the town Playa Del Carmen. You can choose from 130 luxury suites with private plunge pools, rooftop decks, an outdoor shower, a private dock and bicycles to take you touring around the property. 

Upon arrival,  you will step onto a charming water taxi and drift along the peaceful canal making  your way to your private sanctuary for the time being. Leave the big city hustle & bustle behind...time to be in the moment and appreciate your surroundings.

Welcome to paradise.

Welcome aboard the Rosewood Mayakoba Loveboat. A charming little boat that will guide you through the canals to your own private oasis. Step onto your private dock, right into your own private plunge pool...nice. Yes, I do mean private.

At night you will be invited into your cozy sheets with a different color hibiscus flower. 

Inviting tub and an outdoor shower, located behind the shower is a staircase to the rooftop deck where you can look up and see a star covered sky.

Spacious bathrooms and fantastic closet space. Welcome to you home away from home, M&M's / fresh fruit / oreo's & lemonade and margarita mixers.

Enjoy your own bike while traveling around the property, and you will need it. There is a lot of ground to cover. Take an afternoon bike ride and watch the palms begin to change color as the sun sets.  Melissa Odabash Bathingsuit coverup.

By the sea / Punta Bonita for lunch or dinner, inside or outside on the terrace.

Here at the Punta Bonita, by the Caribbean Sea you can enjoy a relaxing venue for a light lunch or an authentic tapa style dinner. 

You can choose indoors or the outdoor terrace for a beautiful beachside experience. This was my favorite snack...Jicama, Mango, Cucumber with chili flakes / Fresh chips & salsa / shrimp cocktail with homemade verde sause.

Sense Spa has 12 treatment pavilions arranged around a cenote, (spring-fed pool), and a huge locker room with saunas, steam baths, and rainfall showers. Don't miss out on pampering yourself while you're here at Sense, enjoy the pool, zen garden, steam shower and true quiet time.

Sense is equipped with a full gym. Try the Detox Enzyme wrap,, beginning with a refreshing papaya and pineapple exfoliating scrub.

Hop on your bike, grab a book or catch a cat-nap in Sense's tranquil waiting room. 

Every area of the property is carefully thought out to blend in with the natural landscape. Don't blink or you'll miss a stairway to a Yucatán treasure.  Eres swimwear.

Located behind Sense, you'll find several private pathways leading to peaceful areas. Every day I journeyed out I found a different area to sit down,  meditate and appreciate the beauty of my surroundings.  There are two hibiscus gardens on the property and you'll see the hotel staff taking their time in finding the perfect flower for the special areas in your suite. I have so much appreciation for the staff,  you are always greeted with genuine smiles, they are proud of their culture and their environment.  Natalie Martin Dress / Alvaro Gonzalez Sandals.

Enjoy meals made with fresh herbs grown on the hotel property.  This area is available to rent for celebrations and functions. Once a week you have an opportunity to enjoy dining with a pre-set menu.

While you are enjoying your walk and the aromas of the herb and hibiscus  gardens... don't miss out on the hammock tucked away under the tropical trees.  Enza Costa Ribbed Tank Dress / Bonjour Tote; Jolie / Slippers provided from The Mayakoba.

Enter your suite to Clase Azul Tequila. Compliments of Mayakoba / Step into your personal pool and Enjoy!

 In the lobby next to the Casa Del Lago restaurant,  Watch how cigars are made and hear a little history.

Casa Del Lago features Italian inspired meals with a Mexicana flavor. Enjoy a fantastic breakfast, lunch and dinner. They offer a unique wine list and a cocktail menu.

Whitefish sashimi with fresh herbs and fruit was my favorite appetizer.

After dinner one evening, we came home to this stunning hand-carved chocolate dessert plate and fresh fruit. Mayakoba is overflowing with special touches, and this is one of many.

We were so thrilled to wake up each day and head to the coffee and juice bar. My husband and I would take our computers or Ipads around 7am, hop on the bikes and off we went.  What a great way to start the day.

Breakfast from Casa Del Lago / Waffles, fresh berries / If you're a doughnut lover...this is a good spot.

Huevos Divorciados was my daily breakfast along with ice café.  A Mexican breakfast of eggs separated by a line of refried beans or chilaquiles...and of course topped with fresh herbs and radishes.  Yummy.  / Specs by Oliver Peoples

Poolside by the main pool near the lobby.

 Another clever presentation of Jicama, cucumbers, carrots, mango, radishes and chili flakes. I so looked forward to my lunch each day.

Another clever presentation of Jicama, cucumbers, carrots, mango, radishes and chili flakes. I so looked forward to my lunch each day.

Grab your bike and go...ten minutes on a bike trail and you can walk a few steps under the earth to visit the Cenote (A natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath) located on the property. You can also see the bats flying above you...It's actually very interesting, don't miss out on a little journey underground. Dries Van Noten Dress.

Located a few minutes before the cenote you'll find a quaint new village with boutiques, restaurants, and a charming church. A great activity for the day is a bike ride along the path and to visit the local tourist spots on the property.

Before sunset enjoys authentic music and evening at the tequila tastings, mingle with other additional hotel guests, and get to know the history from the Mayakoba executive Staff. 

 I absolutely loved walking out the door and hoping on a bike like you hop in your car.  It's a great way to wake up your soul and experience a sense of freedom. It's always a good idea to step out of your regular routine and do a little something different. We had a relaxing and fun vacation at The Rosewood Mayakoba. Every element of the property was unique...the food, service and the overall experience was just what we needed. If you have younger children, and you're searching for a full kid-friendly hotel, you'll be pleased. There are plenty of activities to occupy your time no matter how old you are. The pools are quiet a distance from one another, so if you need a little quiet time, you'll be sure to find that too.

Thank you Punta Bonita, for a great week, tasty meals and amazing service. Look forward to seeing you soon.  Gracias Por un gran comidas sabrosas semana y un servicio impresionate. Espero verte pronto!

Thank you, Mayakoba... Until we meet again...Gracias, hasta que nos encontremos de nuevo  / Nike shorts & Nike shirt & Nike shoes

                              “To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” – Danny Kaye

BE TULUM

Welcome to the southern tip of the Riviera Maya.  Surround yourself in Mexico's most stylish and fashionable beaches and just BE... At Hotel Be Tulum, any stress you flew in with begins to  melt away. Say hola to this charming native environment and BE swept away by luxury and nature.  Be/ verb - present    Welcome to Be Tulum where you can simply...Be

 

 

Carved out of the jungle less that 50 years ago, Tulum thrives in a bubble all on its own.  Tulum locals take great pride in their town, and it's organic lifestyle. There is a commitment to the environment that takes high priority.  After googling around and a few recommendations from friends, BeTulum kept popping up. A boutique hotel with 20 incredible rooms, with an outdoor shower that blends you into the environment. Any senses that have been shut down, instantly come alive in this tropical forest. Picture yourself in a glass treehouse surrounded in a jungle with amazing birds.  From sunrise to sunset, you have fantastic meals, service and staff that make you teary-eyed when you checkout. Tulum has been on our travel list for awhile, we can now check that box... and we can't wait to return next year.  Don't miss the Mayan temples, where you can loose yourself in ruins from 1000 years ago. You will leave a little more conscience than when you arrived. I have fallen head over pineapples with Tulum.

The minute you enter you'll find signs in the trees hanging throughout the property. Just a reminder of the simple gifts in life that are best not to be taken advantage of. You can't help but crack a smile every time you stroll past this message. Smile

Your tropical oasis awaits you... Early in the morning, you can hear the birds begin to share their message. You experience a true peace of mind.  

Sebastian Sass - Is the architect of Be Tulum - In Tulum, the structures remain shorter than the tallest palm tree.   

There are three suites to choose from - Jungle Suite - Arena Suite - Ocean Suite. In two minutes you step out of your suite and into white sand and warm turquoise water. Take a minute to connect with the hotel staff. Everyone is so generous and incredibly interesting.  Enjoy your in-room jacuzzi and an outdoor shower. Tap into that Jungle Fever.

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Everyday you can enjoy fresh organic fruit and amazing meals. 

Here's to the cutest beach shack ever...Don't miss out on the spicy margarita. Your room key is accompanied by a flashlight.  No need for unnecessary lighting when the moon is in your back pocket.

The fruit plate is presented differently every day/ Poached eggs with fresh salsa and avocado / The fish tacos are a must and chances are they were caught two hours before your request  / The hot sauce is just the right amount of spice, served with homemade chips. 

Grab a bike and feel the freedom as you cruise your way thru the town of Tulum. Every shop and restaurant is a walk or bike ride away. Taxis are as easy as Uber and for $4-$8 dollars you'll arrive where you need to be.  Every day I rode my bike to pay a visit to Sophia at KM33.  Super stylish boutique where I purchased a few bags and enjoyed our travel and fashion conversations. The Tulum locals come from all over and they genuinely love their paradise.

We are huge fans of anything Italian...no matter where we are. Posada Margherita was Incredible, authentic and oh so yummy... The owner Ale, from Genova Italy, delivers Italian  meals that will have you returning for more. You will fill like you are Italy, the food is bello!  If you're gluten-free, not a problem... you'll find it here. It's cash only.

You get a complimentary bread/cheese/veggie plate for lunch and dinner. The different bread choices are covered in amazing spices, dried tomatoes & onions on top... Delicious. The margaritas are made with fresh lime and tequila. Posada Margherita is a must!

In the Hotel/restaurant, you will find Ale's wife Daria and her eco-chic boutique - LOL. Daria carries everything you need to feel effortlessly stylish. She has a European flair, so all of her dresses, bathing suits, hats, Kaftans, and her jewelry designers are unique. I purchased gorgeous necklaces by Gigi Clozeau, and a kaftan by Laura Marks, who also works in the boutique. On my right is Noe  a graphic designer from Argentina, who also works in LOL.  You can also find her adorable greeting cards in the boutique. La Flaca Pretini

You'll also find hotel and boutique Coqui Coqui while you're strolling along in town. They have a lovely collection of perfumes that remind you of a natural tropical sense. There are 13 fragrances to choose from along with bath oils, room scents and candles.

You must go to Hartwood. It's buzzing with stylish peeps from everywhere. Be Tulum team will organize a taxi to stand in line for you for $40. And...trust me it's worth it. The line begins at 2 pm, and they don't start taking reservations until 3 pm.  I promise you won't regret the $40. Chefs Eric Werner and Mya Henry work their magic in cutoffs and an apron, and every meal looked incredible as they passed by, and the salads were scrumptious. My husband and I had fish, salads, and our son had the Filete De Coronado. The nearest electrical lines are miles away; solar panels power the lights, the only kitchen appliance (a blender), and the music that comes from Werner’s iPod. After dinner, you can enjoy your walk thru town before returning to your tropical tree house. Cash Only.

Simplicity and nature are the new luxury. There was a tropical rainstorm for a few hours and it was incredibly peaceful. 

  Lose yourself in ruins from 1000 years ago. if you have a rental car, drive five minutes north of downtown  & you can take in the civilization that thrived in the 13 & 15th centuries. Rent a car for $17 a day from Fox rental car - drive into town {75 miles}. even if you have a car, the best way to navigate Tulum is on foot or by by bike. Be Tulum has complimentary bikes, and there are plenty to go around.

Strolling down the beach you'll find incredible places along the way, Casa Malca is located near Be Tulum. This was the grandest swing I've come upon. Inside you can view incredible contemporary works of art.

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Upon arrival and departure, you will be greeted by "The Dream Team" Thank you so much for everything. You truly made our Be Tulum experience magical. 

No matter where you go in life the people place and experience become a part of who you are. Travel can invigorate your soul and bring back the passion in your heart. 

Derek and I are early birds, we enjoy our coffee talk and taking in all of the beauty wherever we go. Thank you, husband, for another wonderful memory. Thank you to our sweet boy Luca for helping with the photos and your endless patience when photographing your food. I love you both... 

Visiting Tulum is truly a BREATH of fresh air. Just a reminder amongst the trees to connect with your breath,  revive your spirit and to relax and let go. 

Wherever we go we share who we are. It's important to leave a positive and joyous footprint. We look forward to returning to the treehouse in the jungle. Be Tulum will forever be one of my "happy places"  It's all a journey...

                    “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Unknown

ONE&ONLY PALMILLA

If you are ready for a tranquil and lovely experience for any time of the year, book your air travel to Cabo San Lucas, and get ready to enter paradise. One&Only will be there upon your arrival to greet you and in twenty minutes... luxury awaits you.

The staff at the One&Only are dedicated to making your stay magical. We have been part of the Palmilla family for 11 years. I say family because that's how they make you feel. The Palmilla is one of the most respected resort properties in the world, and as a guest they truly care about delivering an 'experience' along with your vacation. 

The family pool area overlooking the Sea of Cortez. There are lifeguards always present, and the service is incredible.  After the hurricane, Palmilla suffered a lot of damages... they not only restored it to it's original beauty; it's back and better than ever, and without losing the heart and soul of the enviroment.

The Adult pool sits beside the restaurant Breeze... You can enjoy tasty tacos, salads, chips and margaritas

  Enjoying lunch with a little backgammon at Breeze. I'm pretty sure I lost this round.

Enjoying lunch with a little backgammon at Breeze. I'm pretty sure I lost this round.

All around the property you will find seating areas that accommodate any mood you might be feeling. Next to Seared and Ceviche you can relax by the fire pit at night and unwind with the waves.

The Game room and library are equipped with plenty of board games and books to choose from. It's fun on a rainy day to engage in a little healthy competition with a game and some family time.

Another beautifully designed waiting area next to Ceviche. I love the detail of this table.

A festive decanter of artisanal tequila awaits you upon arrival, along with a display of handmade sweets. Clasé Azul is my top pick.

Defenitely need these hats... You will find plenty of goodies for your kids too.

One of the prettiest areas on the property is the Agua Bar. It's known for the stunning lights that cascade from the palapa roof, and the view is just as impressive. It's also beautiful in the daytime. Don't forget to order the spicy margarita...it's delicious.  

Agua Bar, Backgammon, and a spicy margarita.

Everywhere you walk on the property is a tranquil experience. It's so lush and tropical, and it's obvious how much attention is paid to the details. There are 173 rooms, 40 full time butlers, and approximately 900 staff who create the heart and soul of the Palmilla. 

Indulge in a spa experience tailored to your specific needs and desires, choose from an á la carte menu or personalize your own spa journey.

Make some time for yourself to gather your thoughts, clear your head, and just sit in silence.

Palmilla is an oasis of serenity, get ready to step into paradise. You immediately  feel the calm spirit of the atmosphere.

There is no need for an appointment to float in the pool or relax on the chairs. This was my favorite time of the day, relaxing in the spa area, showering, and enjoying my time walking to the room, then to dinner. I tried the Hot Stone Massage (90) minutes. Felt fantastic.

Great place for a cocktail party, birthday party or a private yoga session.

If you need some time for beauty, they have incredible products, accessories, and a nail salon.

Hidden amongst the lush grounds are flowing fountains for relaxing moments. You feel as if you are strolling through a garden or museum.  Just sit, relax, close your eyes, and feel at peace while listening to the sound of el aqua.

You must stop in and visit NEO, the boutique with all the best of summer collections, kaftans, shoes, hats ,and purses,  lemlem is one of my favorite summer brands for day or night, and JADEtribe for their fun and exotic clutches.

lemlem KAFTAN / There is a fun boutique called Beach House Brand  - 1403 Abbot Kinney Blvd. They carry a large selection of lemlem and JADEtribe.

COMME de GARCONS / White perfume / JADEtribe clutch / Ray-Ban glasses

Ceviche Restaurant - located upstairs with a beautiful view of the Sea of Cortez along with live music that is truly enjoyable... and the sushi was fantastic.

  The bar area at Ceviche - enjoy your dinner with a view.

The bar area at Ceviche - enjoy your dinner with a view.

Spicy Tuna Roll / We had several dinners at Ceviche, every dish was so tasty, along with the presentation.

Seared - Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten brings his culinary style to the new steakhouse at Palmilla. For the finest steaks and fresh Pacific seafood, and a complete wine list.

Agua by Larbi / Every morning we couldn't wait to have our breakfast at Agua... and our lunch...and dinner. Be sure to ask for Larbi, and say hello, he's always open to your feedback.

Fresh fruit and yogurt, toast with fresh orange juice, and a view that sets the tone for the day.

The coffee is always perfect. All of the china is hand made from local artist.  The service is wonderful and don't forget to ask about your servers. It's a good way to begin your day.  They all have an interesting story, and it's nice to appreciate other peoples cultures.

After breakfast you can head to the gym if that's your choice. They offer many classes and their gym is equipped with everything you'll need to keep your fitness routine on track. A private trainer is on hand at all times if needed.

Every room has a beautifully designed corridor. Notice the fine details, from the menus to the fabrics used in all the outdoor seating. You can meet with your friends and family before going to dinner, enjoy the sun as it sets and notice the sky as it turns stunning colors.

Agua prepares an incredible lunch. You can enjoy the restaurant for lunch, or the bar.

Enjoy dinner on the cliff side. They provide fans for each table to provide a little breeze.

A favorite lunch - Fish Tacos with habanero sauce.

Agua Bar- with a view of the pool, and step right into the water and swim back to your lounge chair after your lunch.

A friendly visitor who loves cherries...FYI

Every evening on your return from dinner you will find a floral design on top of your bed that was carefully decorated by your housekeeper. She also surveys your closet to coordinate a sewing kit with threads that fit your wardrobes colors.  You will also find, at cocktail-hour snacks of your choosing (mixed nuts, olives and feta) They create magic for you, and when you leave, you can always reflect on those special details they provide for your stay.

Every night you will find a different floral design on your bed. No small luxury or detail is overlooked. When our son was younger, the best surprises were always waiting for him in the room. We have many great memories here at the Palmilla, and we are so thankful for the  incredible comeback after the hurricane. 

And then there was this...A delicious bubble bath with pink (my favorite color) plumerias. They know what you need before you do. The staff are warm and gracious, chances are when it's time to check out, you won't want to leave. 

Historic Chapel located on a hill overlooking the resort's tropical grounds and beaches.

You can also spend the day at the beach club with plenty of activities to choose from.

Saying 'adios' for now and we can't wait to return. Gracias Palmilla, you have always welcomed us with an open heart and gracious smiles. / lemlem / tunic  Hasta Pronto...  One&Only has stunning resorts all over the world. The service is top notch, along with the food and details. You will truly enjoy your vacation, and leave with an experience you will look forward to repeating.  The Staff  are there to provide a magical  stay and lasting memories.

                           

A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.

*Robert Orben


 

GUADALAJARA & TLAQUEPAQUE TREASURES

 La Bienvenida a Nuestra Ciudad

f you haven't thought about making a journey to Guadalajara, you might want to add this city to your checklist.  Guadalajara was incredibly cosmopolitan and full of buildings rising up and beautiful people everywhere.  We were invited to a friend's birthday party and my husband, and I had never been so we decided to hop on Aero Mexico and have a little adventure.

We took off for a day to visit Tlaquepaque (tlaké pake) famous for its pottery and blown glass.  The main square in the city centre is El Jardin Hidalgo (Hidalgo Garden"), named after Miguel Hidalgo y Costlier, the "Father of Mexican Independence."  You stroll  down one street and each shop was more colorful and full of incredible hand made goods than the next.

Talented women were making any color, size or shape you would like.

Father Hidalgo was one of the heroes of the Mexican War of Independence.

 Voladores de Papantla - An ancien Mesoamerican ceremoy/ritual still performed today. The ritual consists of dance and the climbing of a 39 meter pole from which the participants then launch themselves tied with ropes to descend to the ground while one remains playing a flute and drum. 

Voladores de Papantla - An ancien Mesoamerican ceremoy/ritual still performed today. The ritual consists of dance and the climbing of a 39 meter pole from which the participants then launch themselves tied with ropes to descend to the ground while one remains playing a flute and drum. 

After the first part of the day shopping around and working up an appetite, we decided to stop  at Casa Fuerte.  Highly recommend from our local friends, and no reason in questioning that. It was quiet the preferred place.

Case Fuerte was open air, tranquil with a Latin jazz band  ( I was in Heaven) and we were ready to experience the full dining culture of Mexico.  I ordered a Don Julio margarita, my husband had a Spanish white wine and the chips and salsa were terrific. Just what we had in mind.

Camarones Tamarindo - Camarón, en salsa de tamarindo.  And it was delicious...

Chili Relleno en Nogada - Poblano peppers seemed to be a very popular dish.

The people were lovely here, so happy and you could feel they appreciated tourist and the locals.  The service was great, along with our food and drinks.

With our friends being locals we knew we were in for an authentic experience, and now... ready for round two of shopping. Gracias Casa Fuerte, for taking care of us.

 Beautiful glass hearts in all sizes and vibrant colors.

Beautiful glass hearts in all sizes and vibrant colors.

We purchased these beautiful glasses, along with hand blown stir sticks, place mats, cocktail and dinner napkins along with this hand blown napkin holder.

 Colorful  handmade placemats & napkins.

Colorful  handmade placemats & napkins.

 HUI ZA CHE / TEQUILA REPOSADO /  gift from the birthday boy, made by his family.

HUI ZA CHE / TEQUILA REPOSADO /  gift from the birthday boy, made by his family.

  Dia de los Muertos  /  Day of the dead  / 

Dia de los Muertos  / Day of the dead

Day of the Dead (SpanishDía de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and acknowledged around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.

Day of the Dead happens to be my birthday, so we couldn't resist beginning our collection.

 Incredible, stunning furniture and light fixtures at IO Art Gallery.

Incredible, stunning furniture and light fixtures at IO Art Gallery.

How can you not appreciate an incredible Mariachi Band...

A goodbye wave from the Joven (young)  in Tlaquepaque

   "The world is a book, and those who do no travel read only one page."   Saint Augustine

Todos Santos -"All Saints" - Hotel Guaycura

Located about two hours North of Cabo San Lucas you will find el pueblo mágico, Todos Santos.  It's like stepping back in time, a time when life was simple, quite and all of a sudden your racing mind disappears .  Hotel Guaycura

Breakfast on the rooftopDesayuno - With a beautiful ocean view.  Todos Santos is know for great whale watching beginning in January to mid March.  This boutique hotel with 14 colonial style rooms was charming, the staff are lovely and greet you with a genuine smile.  The menu was full of authentic Mexican choices, and the best coffee.  I do look forward to our return.

Breakfast at Sky Lounge on the rooftop - Desayuno -

After breakfast we strolled through town for a little shopping at JOYERIA.  I found these hand painted Christmas ornaments, blue glasses, pitcher, stir sticks, and my favorite - The Apple. Manzana

Local Surf Shop

Todos Santos is know for its great surfing, and the wave called "Killer"  Hence the name - Experienced surfers only, recommended.

The Beach Club - A three mile ride from the hotel to an incredibly beautiful, private and tranquil beach.  Sometimes it's just what we need.

Beautiful private beaches for miles.  You can truly get relaxed and unplug here, it was quite nice to be wi-fi free for awhile.

Peaceful afternoon at The Beach Club.

  Kick back at the pool while listening to authentic latin grooves.  Time stood still here at the beach club.  It's nice to "just be" and appreciate who you are and be present on your   journey.

Kick back at the pool while listening to authentic latin grooves.  Time stood still here at the beach club.  It's nice to "just be" and appreciate who you are and be present on your   journey.

YES, this is where we had lunch. Grilled Fish Tacos and the best homemade guacamole with homemade salsa and spicy red cabbage.  The best times in life are when you just become your surroundings.

 The salsa was soooo spicy, which we love

The salsa was soooo spicy, which we love

 Here's the interior of our "Taco Stand Treasure" and  my hat from the surf shop.

Here's the interior of our "Taco Stand Treasure" and  my hat from the surf shop.

Right around the corner of the Hotel Guaycura you will find the Hotel California. You will feel like you stepped right into a colorful painting.  You will see artwork and handmade artifacts everywhere.  In front of Hotel California, take a seat on the sidewalk as the sun sets for local dining at  Santo Vino. 

 Our dinner at Santo Vino, on the sidewalk in front of Hotel California was incredibly good.  Fresh caught fish, rice & vegetables, with a spicy maragarita.

Our dinner at Santo Vino, on the sidewalk in front of Hotel California was incredibly good.  Fresh caught fish, rice & vegetables, with a spicy maragarita.

 Gracias, de nuestra comida era deliciosa!

Gracias, de nuestra comida era deliciosa!

  Gate   leading into patio dining area at Hotel California

Gate leading into patio dining area at Hotel California

 Bar at Hotel California

Bar at Hotel California

Muchas Gracias to the staff at Hotel Guaycura, Our room and our time spent with you was special.  We look forward to our return.  You are gracious people with a true love for your town and your people. Salute to the Magic.   P.S. I love the dirt roads...  Gracias por su hospitalidad  

 

A heart felt experience. Deluxe rooms have private patios.

 Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams

 Downstairs dining at El Jardin.

Downstairs dining at El Jardin.

Shopping at JOYERIA / TIO PANCHO

 Loving my purchase from JOYERIA

Loving my purchase from JOYERIA

 Water or Wine... Vino!

Water or Wine... Vino!

 My favorite purchase

My favorite purchase

  Toma el resto

Toma el resto

  Quaint  Library

Quaint  Library

  Church on the plaza / built in 1747

Church on the plaza / built in 1747

Don't forget your sunscreen!

 Relajarse y estar en el momento

Relajarse y estar en el momento

 Colorful paper flags hanging above the street.

Colorful paper flags hanging above the street.

 Hasta Pronto...

Hasta Pronto...

Enjoy a massage at the Spa while listening to the ocean waves.