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A Long Weekend in Sonoma

A Long Weekend in Sonoma…
June 2016

A long weekend filled with wine tasting, biking, spa-ing and lounging by the pool…what could be better? I do not think there is much that could be more glorious than a weekend in Sonoma, California.

The perfect backdrop for this fantastic weekend? The Farmhouse Inn, a boutique resort just south of Healdsburg. After a few days in San Francisco, we escaped the city and made the short drive up to the Russian River Valley with a list of appointments at “off the beaten path” wineries and a mission to relax. Arriving at the Farmhouse, we checked into our understated luxurious room and prepared for our first tasting.


Healdsburg is an adorable town and the restaurants are top notch. With the help of a friend who is a sommelier, we had planned two tastings each day (the Russian River Valley is known for it’s wide range of Pinot Noirs, each one unique thriving on the cool air from the nearby Pacific) with leisurely lunches and sumptuous dinners in between. We also found time to lounge by the pool – with a bottle of chilled white of course!

One of the most fun things we did that weekend was to take a private bike tour, complete with tastings at various vineyards and a beautiful picnic lunch on one of the properties. Biking through vineyards is a beautiful thing and the rolling hills, well-maintained roads and bike-friendly traffic will please even the most serious biking enthusiasts.


Our fantastic guide, Dave, brought along a peddle-assist bike “just in case” and by the end of the tour they had put me on it…apparently I could not keep up after a few tastings and a big lunch. It was actually a fun bike to ride!

 

 

Another treat was attending a 4th of July party with a group of wine makers. A woman giving us a tasting at a smaller wine maker’s warehouse spontaneously invited us to her home for the celebration. It was so much fun to talk wine, food and life with these winemakers who brought unmarked bottles of their latest offerings.

As a mentioned previously, Healdsburg is a “foodie mecca.” Most of the restaurants are farm-to-table and the presentations are spectacular. Special mention though for the food at the farmhouse. The three-course breakfast (included if you book through me) was a daily treat and dinner at their Michelin starred farm-to-table was incredible.

We returned home with memories of fabulous meals, delicious wines and a thought that maybe we had joined a few wine clubs! We would not find out how many until the cases started arriving at the house!

 

If you would like any further information or are ready to plan your escape to Sonoma, please contact Jennifer at 917.741.7409 or [email protected]

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Cartagena, Columbia

A Long Weekend Getaway to Cartagena, Columbia….
February 2017

Cartagena was never a destination that was on my “must-see” list. However, based on the recommendation of colleagues in Bogata, it was on my husband’s. I really didn’t give it much thought until I started reading about Cartagena as the hottest long weekend getaway with direct flights that are under five hours from New York. In a spur of the moment decision, we decided to forgo our annual out-west ski trip and booked a flight to Cartagena…..we did not regret that decision!

Given that we were traveling with kids, we chose to stay at the Sofitel Santa Clara. They have nice connecting rooms and a large pool. The location can’t be beat…inside the walled city. You just need to step outside the doors to be immersed in the charm and culture of the city.

If we did not have the kids in tow, I would have considered more of a boutique hotel such as the Casa San Augustin, The Charleston Santa Teresa, or the Bastion Luxury Hotel.

The trip was busy, but we were able to find a few hours each day to lounge by the pool….

An obligatory horse drawn carriage ride was the perfect welcome and orientation to the city. The following day, a full-day privately guided tour helped us to really get to know the area. We visited Popa Hill, San Felipe Fort and the Mercade do Bazurto market. A highlight was the “pirate” who took the kids on a little treasure hunt around the fort….maybe a little old for the game, they played along and had a blast.

 

 

 

A can’t miss is a trip to El Totumo Volcano about an hour outside the city. El Totumo is a mud volcano that you can “bathe” in. You basically leave everything you own at the bottom (leave all jewelry at the hotel), give a random guy your camera, climb the stairs to the volcano and are shuffled down a ladder into the mud where men slide you over to other men giving massages….it sounds strange, but feels right when you are in it – trust me! You can hang out for a bit in the mud before climbing out and are escorted over to a lagoon where ladies help to wash the mud off. Again, modesty isn’t a consideration as she asks for your bikini bottoms to wash out. It was a completely unique experience…unfortunately I did not notice any benefit to my skin or hair!

 

A sunset biking tour around the Gestemani (a colorful neighborhood beyond the walled-city) and along the city’s walls was an adventure. I always love being the only one in the group who feels we are in imminent danger! The rest of the family was comfortable with the guide leading us into traffic.

 

Another highlight was our day trip to the the Rosario Islands. We chartered a motor boat and headed out to some of the most amazing snorkeling in the Caribbean. We then docked one of the smaller islands and relaxed on the beach while a lunch of fresh fish was prepared. My kids enjoyed hunting for coconuts and spent hours working on cracking them open!

 

I can’t wrap this up without mentioning to food!! The ceviche and fresh fish were so incredible it would be hard to pick a favorite meal. We ate simply on the beaches….whole fish grilled or fried served with coconut rice and plantains and enjoyed some of the most fabulous gourmet dishes at local restaurants. Some of our favorites: Maria, Alma, La Cevicheria and Cuzco.

 

 

* Cartagena is a fantastic weekend destination or can be made into a longer stay combined with the coffee region of Columbia. If you have any questions or would like further information on a trip to Cartagena, please contact Jennifer at 917.741.7409 or [email protected]

 

 

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