Maui in a Nutshell

Travel

Day 1 Ka’anapali. This is the view from my hotel room looking at Molokai. We stayed at Castle Paki Maui Condos. The condo was reasonably priced, good location, clean, with friendly staff. The cons were the beach next door was not the greatest and no A/C. The Fish Market is across the street serving tacos, ceviche, poke, etc. Loved this place.

 

Day 2 Lahaina. The main tourist town in Maui. Kimos Restaurant is a must and Uluani Shaved Ice lived up to it’s reputation.

 

Day 3 Wailea Beach & lunch at the Ritz. I liked this beach. There was plenty of room for everybody (mostly tourists), and the water was calm enough for paddle boarders and snorkelers. The Ritz has one restaurant for the public.

 

Day 4 Kapalua Beach (my favorite). A small beautiful beach with calm waters. And the bonus: umbrellas and chairs you can rent.

 

Day 5 Road to Hana & lunch at Mamas Fish House. Honestly, I feel the Road to Hana is a little overrated. It is definitely beautiful scenery, but really difficult to find places to park to see the sights along the way. As for Mamas Fish House,  every visitor to Maui needs to eat here. Delicious food with beautiful beach/views.

 

Day 6 Hangin at the hotel day.

 

Day 7 Makawao. A one street “cowboy” town of a few restaurants and posh stores. A perfect town to visit since we had a few hours to kill before our flight.

 

Tips:

  • What I wore for 6 days: 2 shorts/5 tops & t’s/2 sundresses/ 2 cover ups & 2 bathing suits.
  • Car rental is a must.
  • Be prepared for your beach days. Most beaches we visited did not have shade or snacks nearby.
  • Hawaii is NOT cheap.

 

 

Sutter Creek CA Girls Weekend

Travel

This past weekend a few of us gals decided to have a weekend in Sutter Creek, in the Sierra Foothill wine country. This area is known for it’s Barbera wines and needless to say it is now a current fave of mine.

We arrived and found a charming one street town with shops, restaurants, and tasting rooms.

 

We stayed at The Hanford House in one of their bungalows. The bungalow was a two bedroom/two bath cute cottage with a front and back patio.  I would definitely recommend this reasonably priced place.

My favorite wine tasting was at Le Mulet Rouge for both the friendly and knowledgeable staff, and delicious wine.

A ‘must go to’ if you are in Sutter Creek is The Sutter Creek Cheese Shoppe with over 80 cheeses available. The store is shared with Miller Wine Works and they offer wine tasting/cheese pairings. Amazing!

Having visited Sutter Creek now, I would advise:

  • Two days in Sutter Creek is sufficient time to enjoy the town itself.
  • There are plenty of tasting rooms. No driving necessary.
  • If you want to stay longer, there are places outside of town that would be fun to visit (including the haunted Preston Castle!).
  • The town is basically closed by 7pm. Nightlifers need not apply.

 

 

5 Days in Chiapas Recap and Recommendations

Travel

I just returned from 5 days in Chiapas and it was as beautiful as I imagined. Here is my recap, as well as my tips for traveling to this region. Our itinerary was 2 full days in Tuxtla and 3 full days in San Cristobal.

Let me start by saying Tuxtla is not a tourist town. There is really nothing to do there. However, it is a good base to visit Cañon del Sumidero and Chiapa de Corzo. Cañon del Sumidero is beautiful. We took a tour of the canyon from above and a 2 hour boat trip through the canyon. Definitely a sight to see, including the crocodiles!

The next day we went to Chiapa del Corzo. This is a small puebla of Indians and Mexicans with a tourist area of restaurants and Mexican goods. My advice is that if you are also visiting San Cristobal, visiting Chiapa del Corzo is not necessary.

The next tour we took was of a village of the Chamula Indians near to San Cristobal. The Chamula Indians do not appreciate photographs, so I have no pictures. I found these indigenous people fascinating. The tour was basically of their church. The church is catholic and they pray to Mary and the catholic saints, but with their own rites and rituals. Though it was brief, this visit was worth it.

The next village we visited on this tour is of the Zinacantán. These Indians are major producers of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. In fact, many of their flowers are shipped to Canada and the USA. It’s a beautiful area because we are now in the highlands. I am not sure, but I believe we are around 6000 ft above sea level. Men, women, and children all work.

Again, this was a brief tour simply to a textile shop to purchase handmade goods. I would have liked to have spent more time here and walked around a bit.

Now, on to San Cristobal. This is a pueblo mágico meaning the façade of the buildings cannot be reconstructed to maintain their historic values. It is definitely a tourist area with a lot of restaurants and shopping, but I still felt a strong sense of the city itself. I saw very few Americans here. I had the sense more of the tourists come from Europe and South America.

In the center is the Diocesis de San Cristobal.

Walking up the 400 steps for San Cristobal views.

The last tour was of Lagos de Montebello. Gorgeous blue lakes and waterfalls.

The best meal I had was in Lum Restaurant. I highly recommend this place. The food was excellent.

My Chiapas recommendation recap:

  • I would stay in San Cristobal for my entire visit. Or stay in Tuxtla for the Cañon del Sumidero tour only.
  • I would also add Palenque to my visit, staying the night there.. It is very far from San Cristobal (though they do do day trips).
  • I would skip Chiapa del Corzo tour.
  • For me, 2-3 full days in San Cristobal is sufficient.
  • For this April 5 full day trip, I recommend 2 pair of shorts/capris and tops for 3 tours. 2 pair jeans, tops for the town including 1 long sleeve shirt, and one lightweight jacket (I actually used a pashmina scarf). Sneakers for tours and walking shoes/sandals for the town. For whatever reason, it was in the 50’s temp at night, but it never felt that cold to me.
  • Any hotel in the historic center of San Cristobal is within easy walking distance to the center with a lot of the restaurants and bars. Think of the Diocesis de San Cristobal as ground zero for all the “action”.
  • The indigenous people are a huge part of visiting this area. I feel it is important to repay them by purchasing goods directly from them and the local artists in the area.

Chiapas Booked!

Travel

In less than a month, I will be visiting Chiapas Mexico for a wedding. We are taking 5 days to see this beautiful part of Mexico bordering Guatemala. Everyone has told me the beauty there is unsurpassed. I cannot wait to see it for myself!

 

Souvenir Buying

Travel

When buying travel souvenirs for myself, I stay away from the souvenir trinket stores. Inevitably, the sombrero from Mexico ends up in the garage sale, the metal Eiffel tower disappears and I couldn’t care less, or the sarongs bought from a beach vacation go into a drawer….forever.

I usually do some research. What the country/area is known for. I will often have one or two things that I want to buy for sure. But mostly, what I buy just happens. You’re walking down the street and see an artist painting a pic that captures the moment. Or you stroll into a shop and see something that you love. My advice is when this happens, to buy. I find I rarely go back when I say I will. And then I’m back at home regretting the non purchase.

Here are some things I’ve bought from my travels that I love.

  1. London- I bought teas in tins and I still use the tins today 20 years later.
  2. Ireland- Pottery from the Kylemore Abbey that was made by the nuns.
  3. Paris – Street art, perfume, beauty items from the pharmacy, jewelry. (Next visit, I definitely want something vintage from a street market.)
  4. Prague- A military jacket that fits me perfectly and was only $4.00!
  5. Barcelona – Espadrilles
  6. Vienna- A little music box that plays Mozart
  7. Venice- Street art and a venetian glass pendant
  8. Turkey- Pillow slipcovers, a pair of earrings that are one of my favorites to wear
  9. Mexico City- A table runner that I use on a shelf as décor
  10. Playa del Carmen- A decoupage chubby angel covered in cartoon with gold wings. ( My latest acquisition.)
  11. And from everywhere, I always buy a rosary.

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The best part of buying a souvenir is when I’m at  home and I walk by the painting, or wear the piece of jewelry I bought from another part of the world, there is a memory flash of my time there.

 

Fresno´s Not All Bad

Travel, Uncategorized

Fresno California in the Central Valley gets a bad wrap. Sure it doesn’t come compare to Southern California or the Bay Area, but it has some good qualities. And it’s my home town!

Farmers Markets

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The Central Valley is an agriculture epicenter. You cannot beat the farmers markets Fresno offers.

Madera Wine Trail

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No need to travel to get to wineries, they’re right around the corner.

Tower District

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The Tower District is an area of theater, breweries, tattoo parlors and vintage stores.

Old Town Clovis

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Old Town maintains a western atmosphere with restaurants, bars, and a great place to go if you like shopping for antiques.

Lakes & Mountains

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And if you like outdoor recreation and beauty, it’s less than an hour away.

Yosemite National Park

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Yosemite is an easy day trip!

Fresno is not a vacation destination by any means. However, if you find yourself in the area there’s no need for dread. It’s not as bad as you think.

 

How I Budget Travel

Travel

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I love to travel and try to have a “big trip” once a year. However, travel is not cheap.  A website I have found and have used twice is Tripmasters.com. I have scoured the internet for the cheapest flight and hotel and still could not beat Tripmasters price. They offer not only flights and hotels, but also transportation and activities.

Another option I use for budget travel is Skyscanner.com. This website  searches all airlines for the cheapest flights available. You can also set up an alert to your email and everyday you will receive that days flight price for the trip you are interested in. I have a set price in my mind of what I want to pay and when I receive the alert at that price or lower, I book it.

When I book my own flight, I then go to Homeaway.com for an apartment to rent. Renting an apartment is much cheaper than a hotel. I rent apartments with good reviews and make sure the area is near to the attractions I am interested in. The downside to renting an apartment is there is no concierge. So you don’t have a local to help you with transportation and general information.

Lastly, travel off season/shoulder season. You can get better rates on everything from flights to food.  Always check weather conditions and whether attractions are still open during that time.

Tips: Don’t think traveling within your country is automatically cheaper than international. I often find that I can get a better deal (or just a few hundred dollars more) internationally (after adding in lodging/transportation/etc) than within the U.S. Check money conversion too. The dollar is strong in Mexico. The UK is cheaper now than it has been in years. Eastern Europe and third world countries are always a good bargain.

Riviera Maya on the Horizon

Travel

I will be in Playa del Carmen in less than two weeks!!!  I am fortunate that the Riviera Maya is a quick and economical trip from Monterrey, not to mention the unbelievable beaches. I know it’s early, but I’m already thinking of what I will be bringing for this six day vacation.

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Since I have been there before, I know this for sure: It’s humid no matter what time of year. Cotton, linen, and gauze reign supreme.  I also know that most days will be hanging out on the beach, and evenings will be spent strolling down 5th Ave for drinks and dinner.  A day or two spent in Tulum is mandatory, and maybe a trip to Valladolid/Chichen Itza. With this in mind, here is my preliminary packing list.

  • 2 bathing suits
  • 2 cover ups
  • 1 pair jean shorts
  • 3 tops (at least one with short/long sleeves in case of sunburn)
  • 1 cotton dress (for the interim period between the beach and evening)
  • 5 casual dresses for nights
  • kimono & tank top
  • flip flops, black sandals (possibly sneakers too)

Let the countdown begin!