Bottle Whipped with Spanish Garnacha

It has been one of those days. A non-stop schedule, late lunch, no evening appetite… but a hankering for the right kind of wine. You know, something that can be sipped alone, no apps or meal necessary. Something fruity, yet not over the top. A wine with a hint of minerality and, well, dare I admit… I’m in the mood for a hint of leather. Call me a bad girl!

This wine is just what #TGIF ordered and perfect for an early evening toast to welcome the weekend. A bottle of Castillo de Monséran Garnacha from Cariñena in the heart of Aragón in Spain. I’ve been bottle whipped.

Castillo de Monseran Garnacha wine

BucketListed: La Paz, Mexico

La Paz, Mexico has been on my travel bucket list for a few years now. It’s an hour and forty minute direct flight from LAX and you don’t have to deal with the crowds and rough surf you’ll find in Los Cabos (although there is a time and place for that too… I do love Los Cabos!). I want to visit La Paz because it seems so raw, like maybe it’s a taste of the real Baja – fewer tourists and more locals – while still offering all the splendid amenities I appreciate when visiting a resort town.

 

Yeah, after seeing that video, I figured you’d be adding it to your bucket list too. It has been officially “BucketListed” by TravelPlusWine. Is “BucketListed” even a word? It is now…

Here’s what there is to do in La Paz: 

Escape the hustle and bustle of Los Cabos and swim in water so calm and clear, I imagine you’ll contemplate the meaning of heaven on earth. La Paz, Mexico is located on a bay in the Gulf of California and offers a slightly off-the-beaten path destination for adventure and relaxation seekers alike.

When you’ve spent enough time swimming or kayaking Balandra beach, head back to town and stroll the Malecón at sunset. It offers extraordinary bay views and you can visit a number of shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes while passing beautiful sculptures. Wine lovers will want to head to Steinbeck’s at the CostaBaja Resort for dinner for multi course meal paired with carefully selected Mexican wines. Or, for a simple meal, I’m sure fish tacos are abundant in La Paz.

la paz mexico

If you’re in La Paz between December and March, you can’t leave town without signing up for a whale watching tour. We did this in Loreto and it was well worth the time and money. The blue whale, humpback whale, and whale shark all make this region their winter retreat. I’ve seen pictures of people swimming with these whales. If that’s a bit too up close and personal, maybe stand up paddleboarding is just the right amount of space between you and these gentle beasts. Same goes for visiting the sea lion colony at the point of Isla Partida.

Ok, so maybe La Paz is home to a few big(ish) waves. If that’s what you’re after, grab your surfboard head to the beaches of Pescadero and Los Cerritos near Todos Santos. Speaking of water sports, Baja California Sur is home to international fishing tournaments. You can hire a guide and boat complete with everything you need for a day of casting your line. Fresh mahi mahi for lunch, anyone?

Where to stay in La Paz:

A quick Internet search with turn up with a number of options. Here are a few to consider:

costabaja resort

Photo Credit: CostaBaja Resort & Spa

The hotel is 10 minutes south of downtown and the first five star resort in La Paz. Rooms have balconies with breathtaking views, free wifi, a coffee maker, and swanky glass-enclosed showers (hello romance!). You can also arrange to stay in condos, perhaps a good option if you’re traveling with a small group. Whenever I’m staying at a resort, I always make it a point to check out the spa and treat myself to a massage. CostaBaja’s spa offers over 60 different treatments.

seven crown malecon

Photo Credit: Seven Crown

Stay right where the action is in this contemporary hotel. Maybe indulge and get an ocean view suite so you can watch people stroll the Malecón and enjoy the evening lights from the comfort of your private balcony. Soak in the jacuzzi after a long day of exploration and adventure.

seven crown centro

Photo Credit: Seven Crown

This is Seven Crown’s newest hotel and located in the historic city center of La Paz. Some suites are fully equipped with a small lounge and kitchenette for those who prefer doing their own cooking or simply having that option. This property has a swimming pool.

  • Camping:

Budget travelers will enjoy the ‘camping on the beach in Mexico’ option. El Coyote, San Evaristo, and San Juan de la Costa are some easy-access beaches near the city where you can camp. Just do your homework because camping permits are required. Tour companies can also take you camping and provide everything you need. Forget something? Apparently you can find it in La Paz.

Getting to La Paz:

AeroMexico has a direct flight from LAX to La Paz Thursday – Sunday. The first bag checked is free, your carry-on is free, they serve meals, snacks, and no extra charge for your beer. You could have a very pleasant buzz before even landing in Mexico, courtesy of AeroMexico.

Travel deals to La Paz: 

aeromexico vacations

AeroMexico Vacations offers very reasonable Air + Hotel deals to La Paz, so it’s a great site to start your vacation research.

Have you been to La Paz, Mexico? Any tips? 

Win a trip to Taiwan

wintaiwantrip cheapoair

Who doesn’t love a free trip? I was just talking about wanting to go on a tea tasting tour of Taiwan when I saw this contest.

CheapOair, in conjunction with the Taiwan Tourism Board and China Airlines, is helping travelers make this dream trip a reality by giving away two round trip tickets, accommodations for a seven day, six night stay and a customized itinerary in Taipei.

Between November 11, 2013 and November 24, 2013, fans of CheapOair on Facebook can enter to win this enticing adventure and explore:

·         Taipei

·         Sun Moon Lake

·         Fo Guang Shan Monastery

·         Kaohsiung City

·         Kenting National Park

·         East Coast National Scenic Area

·         Taroko National Park

Good luck!

Hello Los Angeles

I welcomed November with open arms this year. While the summer months are usually my favorite time to frolic under the warm California sun, this year didn’t go quite as planned. Instead of lazy weekends on the beach, an extended trip to Montana, and weeks upon weeks of backyard kiddie pool bliss with The Tot… we moved. Yes, after six years of calling San Diego County home, we kissed spacious suburbia good-bye and headed to the big city two hours north.

I also have to mention our significant downsize. We went from living in a real house with a yard to calling a 900-something square foot apartment our home. We abstained from storage in favor of a simplified lifestyle. Less is best goes our new motto. The purging process took months due to busy schedules and lack of time (especially with The Tot in tow), but it was well worth the effort. In fact, I love the results so much, I can’t wait to do another round of purging.

view from la apartmentStanding on our balcony and looking up – Nature in Los Angeles!

When we were contemplating the move, we knew it would only work if our quality of life improved as a result. We spent hours talking about what we liked and didn’t like about suburbia and what we wanted city living to be. The results: we live in a walking friendly area, Ricardo takes the city bus to work nearly everyday, I enjoy daily walks to a nearby park and exploring neighborhoods with The Tot, our cars stay parked in their reserved spots somewhere in the building, and it’s only a 20 minute drive to LAX… a major international airport with flights to everywhere!

the groveOn a morning walk

Ricardo loves his new job and I still enjoy the virtual workspace lifestyle.

Now that the exhausting downsize is over, the SD house is rented, and I’m finally back from zigzagging across the USA for a project… I can finally exhale and explore our new city. Hello November and hello Los Angeles!

 If there are any Los Angeles locals out there, I’d love to hear about your favorite spots.

Traveling with a Toddler: The Double-Edged Sword

diego at bday party mexico

When in Mexico… The Little Squirt take his boundless energy to his first Mexican birthday party.

Our little baby has suddenly become a toddler. He hit the one year mark, but still very much felt like a baby. Then one day, about a month later, he woke up a toddler both in personality and spirit. He’s starting to walk (but still holding on), speaks in complete gibberish sentences (hey, he knows what he’s saying), and has an opinion about what he wants and where he wants to go (and it has to be now).

Needless to say, this stage makes traveling with a toddler a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s so fun to see the world through his expressive little lenses, but there are other times when I’m envious of those parents traveling with babies who are content to sit quietly in their arms. Ha.. been there, done that too (it was awesome!).

We recently returned from a trip to Mexico, visiting los abuelos, with the 14-month-old Little Squirt and learned a thing our two about traveling with a toddler. Here’s the low-down so you can maybe learn something from our experience.

They: Want to explore.

You: Want to savor your michelada (beer with a lemon, chile, salt, touch of Bloody Mary -type mix. It’s sooo good).

On the bright side: As the Little Squirt was toddling through the restaurant holding my finger for support, we struck up lots of conversations with strangers. Without him, we would have missed out on some great interactions. Besides, Little Squirt put smiles on lots of faces as he proudly held court in the restaurant – he smiled, flirted, and walked proudly (like hey, look at me, I can walk now!). Almost everyone enjoyed interacting with our 18 pounds of personality.

They: Don’t want to sit still on the airplane.

You: Would like to enjoy the inflight movie (hello, it’s Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio on the small screen).

On the bright side: You have a great excuse to move about the cabin and stretch your legs. We walked up and down the aisles. Over and over and over again. People smiled and thought it was cute. I even got a few “I feel you… been there, done that” looks. Nobody looked like they wanted to throw us in the looney bin.

They: Can’t help but play with danger wherever you are staying.

You: Can’t take your eye of them for a minute. So much for a relaxing trip.

On the bright side: It’s a change of scenery and you are traveling! It’s one of those things you just have to approach knowing full well no place outside your home is child proof. In fact, I still have to keep an eye on him at all times even when we’re home. That’s life with a Toddler. This stage will be over soon. Right?

bbq in mexico

Shhh… Little Squirt is sleeping. Carne Asada in Mexico, courtesy of the in-laws. Grilled veggies for my vegetarian mouth!

They: Have already fallen asleep for the night.

You: Haven’t had dinner.

On the bright side: That’s why food delivery, take-out, and picnics exist. Or, if you’re with the in-laws, they fire up the grill. Enjoy the evening of solitude away from home!

What are your experiences traveling with a toddler?

Next Page »