Napa, oh Napa! To say I love Napa would be an understatement, and I know fellow wine lovers have the same affinity for California wine country. A drive through this beautiful region with the sun shining into a car filled with your best friends, plus a long list of wineries to visit, is truly a dream come true. My friends and I have shared this journey quite a few times, so I’ve had a chance to sip my way through many excellent wineries, including my favorite, which always deserves a stop each time we visit Napa.
B Cellars is located about 15 miles north of downtown Napa, just off the Silverado Trail. B Cellars was built on two principles: “producing artisan wines season after season and developing distinct flavors by blending wines from mutually complementary varietals.” During each and every visit to B Cellars, I see those principles play out in their top-notch small production wines.
I’ve experienced both the Oakville Trek and the Chef’s Garden Pairing, both of which are exceptional. Starting with a vineyard tour and barrel tasting, you have a little time to work up an appetite before the food and wine pairings. Yum is all I have to say! The thoughtful, personalized welcome is unmatched, and it really is a special touch that you won’t find at every winery. The hand-crafted bites include many ingredients grown on site, and the pairings are spot on and bursting with flavors.
There’s so many of the B Cellars wines that I love, but the Blend 23 and Sauvignon Blanc are my summer and early fall staples. After each trip, I have the chance to enjoy the wines at home, as a longtime B Society member. Maybe something you, too, should consider after your next Napa getaway? Until next time, wanderer – cheers!
Not to be missed is a trip to the island of Spinalonga, located in northeastern Crete. Spinalonga wasn’t originally an island, but instead was considered part of Crete. During the Venetian occupation, the island was carved out with a bastion-type seaward fortress built to defend Crete during Venetian and Ottoman rule. Years after the Turks were evicted from Spinalonga, the island became a leper colony from 1903 to 1957. As one of the last active leper colonies in Europe, nearly 400 inhabitants called Spinalonga home.
I only learned about the fortress aspect of Spinalonga recently. It was “The Island,” a historical novel written by Victoria Hislop, that sparked my reason for visiting. While just a 10-minute boat ride from Plaka - Spinalonga seemed a world away. Walking through the deserted streets, my mind wondered what it was like to live with the disease, deal with the initially poor living conditions, and bear the separation from loved ones.
As I followed the path, I entered one of the churches on the island and spent a few quiet, emotional moments at the cemetery. Making my way back to catch my return boat to Plaka, I realized that despite the sad history of Spinalonga, there was still a reminder of hope and healing through the breathtaking views of Crete’s clear, blue waters.
When visiting Crete, be sure to take the short boat ride to wander through Spinalonga and journey through its vast history.
One of my top picks of this trip was a visit to Quinta dos Vales to satisfy my inner wine passion. The estate is located on 44 hectares and produces red, white and rose wines from primarily Portuguese and French grape varieties. Be sure to take your glass along as you explore the estate. There are hundreds of original and unique pieces of art placed throughout the gardens, the trees, and even in the wine making area.
One of my favorite memories of the trip was a long walk on a secluded beach followed by (you guessed it) a glass of rosé while listening to the waves crash on the rocks. Sitting in the sun and listening to the sound of the waves made my heart happy. How could it not? Having time to take a few deep breaths and appreciate the beauty surrounding me always leaves a peacefulness in my soul.
Wherever you wander - whether for work or pleasure - carve out time to truly appreciate your surroundings, enjoy something authentic, and make memories that will propel more adventures in the days ahead.
On our 13th wedding anniversary weekend, we found ourselves in Miami Beach craving great seafood in a more local, casual atmosphere. You know the kind of place – the one where shorts and a makeup-less face wouldn’t raise eyebrows. One of my travel industry colleagues suggested Stiltsville Fish Bar located in the heart of the Sunset Harbor neighborhood. It’s only fitting that once we arrived, we ordered a round of drinks with me opting for the Sunset Harbor cocktail and David choosing the Walking on Stilts. The drinks were deliciously strong, so we quickly decided to fill our stomachs with a few small plates.
I quickly discovered why Stiltsville was one of the six South Florida semifinalists for the James Beard Award. The green eggs and ham (green deviled eggs with crunchy, country ham and pickles) did not disappoint with an impressive level of creaminess. The kataifi-wrapped coconut shrimp and fish wings were ultra-fresh and bursting with flavor. The presentation impressed, and our taste buds were delighted by every dish.
We had a great evening of amazing food and top-notch service from our waiter, Nicholas, so it was an easy decision to book a table at Stiltsville again for the next night of our trip. Pro tip: Sometimes when a restaurant is this good, there’s no reason to try somewhere else. So on your next adventure to Miami Beach, leave the fishing to the pros and head over to Stiltsville Fish Bar.
Wander here: http://stiltsvillefishbar.com
The most common question I’ve heard over the last few weeks since I announced this exciting new adventure is, “What exactly will you be doing?” I am thrilled when people ask me this. I could go on for hours talking about the goal of Wanderlux, but let’s keep it short and sweet. There are many authentic, luxury hotels around the world that remain independent and not part of a large hotel brand. I will act as a sales support representative for these luxury hotels, primarily located in Europe, and work to grow their business with travelers and travel advisors within the U.S. market.
To make that vision a reality, I’ll collaborate with the hotel to first define the overall goals and then design a strategic plan to support those goals. My approach is anything but cookie cutter, so I will tailor each plan to support the unique needs of each individual hotel. Some of the bespoke strategies may include hotel program analysis, marketing, business development, hotel awareness and more. Each strategy will have defined tactics designed to increase bookings and revenue for the hotel.
And of course, the properties I represent will align with my passion for unique stories, engaging personalities and vibrant spirits. Come join me as I begin this journey.
Well, I finally did it. Pulled the plug. Cut the cord. However you wish to say it, I resigned from my job. After many years in the travel industry working for other companies, I decided it was time for me to follow my passion on my own journey. To say I am scared and nervous is an understatement, but regret is even scarier. I know it will not be an easy road, but it will be my road and my path. Whether right or wrong, it’s my accomplishments and journey to enjoy.
There are many wonderful colleagues, friends and family that have helped me get to this point, and I thank each and every one of them. I have learned so much over the last 20 years and look forward to building on this knowledge with a new venture that I’ll officially introduce soon. Watch out world—this gypsy soul is ready for new adventures.