This year I was looking forwarding to sailing on a river cruise through Burgundy sipping on wine, enjoying good food, and exploring everything this region has to offer. Unfortunately my plans have been cancelled. In the meantime, I'm dreaming with my friend Betty about traveling to France at some point in the future instead. She's introduced me to a neighboring region in France with wines I'm not all that familiar with. I invited her to write a guest post so that you too could partake in this journey and learn more about the wines of the Loire Valley.
When I think of the Loire Valley, I immediately think of Chenin Blanc and Rosé. I know that if there’s Rosé in the Loire Valley, there’s got to be red wine there too. But truth be told, I can’t think of what red wine grows there. Time to do a little Google research to figure things out. Thank you to LoireValleyWine.com, WineFolly.com and WineTraveler for their help with this article.
The Beauty of the Loire Valley
This writeup from Fodors is so beautiful that I had to share it. “A fairy-tale realm par excellence, the Loire Valley is studded with storybook villages, time-burnished towns, and—bien sûr—the famous châteaux de la Loire. These postcard staples, like Chenonceau and Chambord, seem to be strung like pearls across a countryside so serene it could win the Nobel peace prize.” Oh boy, do I want to go there!
When You Think of Loire Valley, Think of Fruity White Wines
The bulk of the wine produced in this region is white. The region is known for its fruity-style whites. According to WineTraveler.com, “Regardless of whether you’re sampling a sweet, botrytis derived dessert wine, or a classically produced dry Chenin Blanc from Vouvray, there’s no doubt that the dominant aroma and flavor on your tongue will be comprised of citrus, tree and or stone and tropical fruit. It’s this distinct fruity flavor and aroma that attracts hundreds of thousands of wine consumers vintage after vintage.”
More Details on Loire Valley Wine
The Loire Valley is in the northwest of France and is France’s most diverse wine region, actually containing five wine regions, each with many appellations (87 in total!):
An Interesting Factoid About Vouvray
The chenin blanc produced here is so high in acidity that some of the wines have been known to age as long as 100 years. Is that unbelievable? This past weekend, I got to taste a 52-year-old French wine that was well past its prime. Boy, would I love to try a 100-year-old wine that is still good. Wouldn’t you?
What Is Crémant?
After a lot of evolution, Crémant is now the term used to describe French Sparkling Wines not made in the Champagne region of France. At one point, Crémants were thought to be creamier than Champagne. But that isn’t the case any longer. Crémant is not restricted to the three Champagne grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.
I would love to hear about your experiences with Loire Valley wine, especially if you tasted it in France. Santé!
by Betty Kaufman
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
I've been reminiscing a lot about the last trip I went on. Good friends of mine, Melody and Gary Fee, invited me to lead a group of Travel Advisors to explore Kenya. It was beyond incredible. Not only was it my first time in Africa, it was my first time on a safari. The guides were so knowledgeable and the experience wouldn't have been the same without them. I saw so many animals I'd never seen before and some I never even heard of. It was truly remarkable.
I'm looking forward to traveling again!
Click here to view the photos from my trip. Watch the video below for my five safari tips and then the complete podcast about the entire experience further down.
My Five Safari Tips
Full podcast below.
Life is different for us all than it was last month. Each of us is doing our best to handle the curve balls that have been thrown our way. Some of us have taken on new roles, like teacher, as children stay home from school. We’ve set aside our travels, whether that was your daily trip to the office or a vacation we had planned for you.
We do it out of necessity but also out of kindness for one another. For that, I thank you! The precautions and actions you are undertaking aren’t easy, and the people you live with might be making you bananas. The thought that drives me is that the more we do now, the sooner we will all be able to take off on our next adventure.
And when that time comes, I’ll be here.
As for myself, I've been working a lot with lemons the past few weeks. My tree has produced more this year than ever. I understand the irony and I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere. Jason and I have been making limoncello, lemon bars, lemon curd, and of course lemonade. Check out the pics below!
In these unprecedented times, we are reminded of the lessons that travel teaches us. That the world is one big interconnected place. That the times we share as a family are memories that we will treasure for years to come. That we shouldn’t put off our dreams because we don’t know what tomorrow brings.
More than anything, this experience has taught me how thankful I am for the chance to travel and how very lucky I am to have clients like you who continue to support me whenever possible with kind words, positive reviews, and your business.
I'd like to share some resources with you that I've been using to entertain, stay active, relax, and keep my travel spirit alive.
If you've been experiencing any anxiety or sleepless nights, my friend Carol Cassara, a hypnotherapist, offers a wonderful guided imagery for anxiety relief. Find the free downloadable audio here. She's also offering 35 daily email mantras for positive thinking and good health here… and if you are already battling a condition, her online healing affirmations are also free, one day for 50 days, here. All absolutely free, and you won’t be signed up for a mailing list.
Eat & Drink
If you’re like me and you want to get creative with easy step-by-step recipes in the kitchen, check out Sonya's Sweet & Spicy Kitchen on YouTube and follow along for some delicious recipes!
If you want to pair these recipes with some good wine, I have you covered. During this shelter-in-place period, you might be in dire need of wine. My friend Betty offers fabulous, affordable wines from the Napa winery she's affiliated with. You can check out her website at winetastingsandmore.com or call her at 650-714-7009 for recommendations. She helped me get my wine selection delivered to my door and I know she would be happy to help you too. If you're going to purchase wine anyway, might as well support a small business like Betty's.
I've been video chatting with friends, playing Jackbox games with them, and even singing karaoke together online. Consider sending a card in the mail as well to stay connected and acknowledge important milestones in your loved ones lives even if you can't be there in person. If you feel so inclined, consider sending a gift of gratitude to a front-line worker. All The Buzz has put together some really heartwarming care packs for care givers.
There are many bars and clubs around the world hosting virtual happy hours as well so reach out to your local watering hole to see if they are offering anything.
Take virtual tours, ride a virtual roller coaster, or see a Broadway show from your living room. Click here for a list of virtual tours you can take to inspire and excite you about your next trip. Check back next week as I'll be adding more content.
There are tons of free fitness videos on Youtube to guide your workout, but if you are looking for personalized group or private fitness instruction, reach out to my friend Hank Dean who is offering live classes via Zoom. He has coached and taught many clients from professional athletes, world class entertainers, ballet and stage dancers to seniors, children and busy people who are looking to improve their lives, their health, their self-confidence and their well being.
He focuses on the needs of his clients and is constant in his attention to their fitness. Whatever the focus of the clients needs are, he provides direct and progressive coaching to first move towards a clients goals and then surpass them.
SCI fitness is currently providing one on one training and group classes via Zoom.
Let me close with this, we will travel again. We will set off on the adventures of our dreams. We will take the opportunities to make memories and to open our hearts to the incredible things our world has to offer.
Thank you again, and I look forward to helping you with your next adventure.
Many of you have been asking about your upcoming travel plans. I want to assist you with your questions, but first, a few words about more important matters.
We find ourselves in interesting times, where much of the normal functioning of our daily lives seems out of order. However, there are also a great many certainties. While we are all engaged in our various pursuits to earn a living and raise our families, we are also neighbors and friends. I want to say I am here for you. Things will at some point return to normal, we will get on with the routine we sometimes complain about but for which we are now a little nostalgic. Until then, know beyond being your “travel agent,” you and I are neighbors, friends and family. As we move through the next few weeks, be strong and maintain your conviction in those things that have always sustained you, whether that be your faith, your family your pets or your own sense of integrity. We will all get through this together.
Stay informed, but give yourself a break from the 24 hour news cycle. Here are a few good resources for information:
Coronavirus Information Center CDC
World Health Organization
World Health Organization Q&A
California Department of Health
Now, about those travel plans. Travel suppliers have all been modifying the cancellation policies to assist passengers, waiving fees and penalties for changes. If you had plans about which you have questions, email me at email@example.com.
Here are a couple of articles about travel right now you may find informative:
Your travel insurance might now cover coronavirus
Delta, United, American broaden change fee waivers amid coronavirus concerns
A few of you have also inquired about future travel plans. Please reach out to me at any time to discuss and I will provide you with any information you need. As the travel industry regains momentum, there will no doubt be many great opportunities, we can discuss as you feel ready.
If there is anything I can do for you over the coming weeks, or if you just want to check in and talk, know I am here for you. We all want to practice a sound “social distancing” as the medical profession calls it, but that does not mean social disconnection. Stay informed and stay safe. If you need anything, I am just a phone call away.
Hang in there, Be strong. Take care of yourself and your loved ones, and wash your hands!
What if I told you, you could travel for free and it doesn't involve credit cards or tracking rewards points? Plus you get to travel with your friends! There's a little secret to travelling for free I'd like to share with you. All you have to do is get a small group of friends together and your costs are covered.
Work with me to come up with your ideal itinerary. Let's say it's a cruise. You get 9 friends to go on the same cruise and you'll go for FREE! If you get 10 couples in your group, you'll get a FREE CABIN for two people.
This is just one example. Requirements and rewards vary. Contact me and let's put a plan together that fits you.
There will always be some costs such as taxes and flights, but overall this is the cheapest way you'll find to travel. If you're popular, but poor and always wanted to travel, now you can.
Click here for more details and reply to this message and let me plan your group trip!
Science has shown that one’s environment has a direct impact on well-being, a fact that anyone who’s spent significant time in the mountains or by the sea can attest to. There’s just something about being by the ocean, hearing the crashing waves and feeling the sea breeze against your face; or being in the desert, hearing nothing but the chirp of an odd bird and seeing nothing but an endless landscape of majestic rock that makes you leave all your worries at home and let yourself breathe. The following locations will make even the most stressed-out individuals find their bliss.
A big part of resetting your mind is learning how to slow down, and the laid-back vibe of the Caribbean may be just the place for those needing a break from the fast-paced frenzy of their lives. Once you step off the plane and breathe in the ocean air, look out at the turquoise sea and walk barefoot through the smooth white sand with a cool daiquiri in hand, the bothers of daily life are all but forgotten. Choose from a multitude of swimming pools to wade in or sit under palm trees with a book in hand and ocean in view. Play a few rounds at a pro-level golf course, and wander to a conch shack for fresh delicacies prepared on the spot. And if shopping relieves stress for you, pop into the high-end boutiques for a little retail therapy.
It’s no surprise that some of the wealthiest people in the world, who could live anywhere they want, choose to settle down in towns like Santa Monica, California, or Palm Beach, Florida. These locales provide easy access to major cities in the U.S., so traveling to and from is not an issue. And once you’re there, the towns are bursting with modern luxuries and convenience, while remaining pristine in appearance. Manicured lawns rest in front of mammoth mansions, and five-star resorts with seaside spas and fine cuisine are plentiful. Walk straight from your oceanfront hotel to a secluded beach below for sunrise yoga, experience in-suite spa treatments, indulge in healthy Michelin-star meals and cycle to town on complimentary bicycles at the impressive resorts that make up America’s chic coastal getaways.
The beauty of the desert is endless, creating the perfect setting for days of quiet contemplation. What better way to treat yourself in this day and age of constant noise and endless obligation? In the desert, nobody cares if your inbox is packed with unopened emails. And in the desert, the mountains call for you to climb them, bringing an organic opportunity to focus on physical as well as mental health. Take a hike and feel the full-body relaxation and restful sleep that follows a day of exercise. Soothe your muscles in a private outdoor soaking tub at a desert resort, align your body at a top-ranked spa and dine on fresh seasonal cuisine while sitting on an outdoor dining deck facing the expansive mountains.
Spirituality seekers have been known to visit Hawaii for the healing properties that only a tropical paradise can bring. Whether or not you believe that the islands’ volcanic energies are operating at higher chakra frequencies, it can’t be denied that the unique beauty of its verdant jungles and rolling hills existing in the same space as the bluest ocean waters and clear skies possess a special soul-soothing quality. Make time to try a Lomi Lomi massage, take sail on the waters of the Pacific, enter an infinity pool that looks out on the ocean and commune with nature in a protected wildlife reserve, and you’ll return home invigorated.
Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the world. But amid all the love-struck couples, Paris also happens to be an idyllic destination for families. Filled with lush green parks and kid-friendly museums, glittering palaces and a seemingly endless supply of pastries, Paris offers families a fairytale-like magic all their own.
To give you an idea of how you can enjoy the City of Light with your little ones, here’s a sample three-day itinerary that hits all the right notes for families. Of course, you can contact our agency to plan this trip or personalize your Paris journey to fit your family best.
Treat the kids with breakfast at iconic Café de Flore, where they can revel in fresh-baked croissants and bowl-like cups of steaming chocolat chaud. Afterward, walk to Luxembourg Gardens and spend the morning sailing wooden sailboats in the famous Grand Bassin, taking in a marionette show and riding on the city’s oldest carousel. Then take a short ride to the banks of the Seine to board one of the glass-domed boats that depart every 30 minutes. Next stop: the Eiffel Tower, preferably in the early evening when the wait is shorter.
For the second day of you trip, embark on a private tour. The first could be a tour of the city in a classic Citroen, listening to your driver and guide entertain you with stories about the city during a 90-minute Paris Highlights itinerary. For art lovers, head to the Louvre for a private tour designed especially for families. The tour caters to the kids’ short attention span and allows you to skip the museum’s long admission line—a win-win for everyone.
On your last day in Paris, begin with a walk along the Champs Elysees. Starting at the Arc de Triomphe, where you can ride the elevator to the top to take in the panoramic views, head toward the famous patisserie Ladurée for pastel-colored macarons. Then jump on the Metro and travel to the picturesque Montmartre neighborhood. Lunch in the garden at Le Moulin de la Galette, a restaurant housed in one of the last remaining windmills in the neighborhood, before taking on the 300 steps of the Sacré-Coeur (the view at the top is totally worth it). Afterward, stop by Trocadéro Square and enjoy watching the street acrobats and skateboarders who take over the monumental plaza.
Matt outside Rudesheim, Germany before boarding his river cruise with AmaWaterways.
I'm traveling around Europe right now and wanted to take a moment to tell you what a wonderful time I'm having exploring Paris, Rome, Barcelona, and so many small picturesque towns around Europe. Click here to see some photos.
I wish more people took the time to travel internationally. Did you know that only 42% of Americans have a passport? I want to change that. From now until the end of January if you book a new international vacation package with me, I'll pay for your passport fees. Already have a passport? Then I'll pay for your Global entry which includes TSA pre-check! This means you'll get through TSA and customs lines in the US faster.
Not sure where to go? Join me on one of the below trips.
Playa del Carmen
Italy, Croatia & Montenegro Cruise
If those dates don't work for you, click here for more inspiration.
The holidays are coming up. Rather than spending money on material gifts, let me help you plan an unforgettable experience with memories that will last a lifetime.
Ask me for more details about how to get me to pay for your passport or Global Entry.
In a teenager’s mind, there’s nothing worse than spending a vacation with the family. To them, a trip with the ‘lame’ parents and ‘bratty’ little brother is filled with confined spaces, no personal freedom and limited interaction with other teens. Cruising just might change their minds.
Cruise lines have been working overtime to please teens, creating “cool” areas, shore excursions, spa programs and more geared especially for the teen set. Why go to such great lengths? Because one disgruntled teen can ruin the entire trip. And parents can’t relax unless they know everyone in their brood is in a good mood, which makes cruises the ideal choice.
Below you’ll find a list of cruise lines and what they offer for teens. Armed with this information, you’ll have the upper hand in convincing your teen that a week with the fam island-hopping in the Caribbean or cruising past glaciers in Alaska won’t be so bad. One word of warning: some of these cruise lines offer so many options for your kids, you may barely see them for the entire vacation. Sounds blissful, doesn’t it?
Royal Caribbean International
When you cruise with Royal Caribbean, you’re not just going on a vacation, you’re embarking on an adventure! Onboard the most innovative ships at sea, your entire family will love racing up the rock-climbing wall, catching a wave on the FlowRider® surf simulator or learn how to sky-dive on the RipCord® by iFLY®. Adventure Ocean groups give teens the freedom to come and go as they please for sports, themed parties, movie nights and more. Teens can also meet and relax in the laid-back lounges and dance late into the night at teen-only nightclubs.
Celebrity’s Camp at Sea is designed to make sure children of all ages enjoy the cruise as much as you do. The program is powered by partnerships with cool companies like Lonely Planet™, The Frost Science Museum and Xbox, resulting in hundreds of programs divided into four categories: Art, Recreation, Culinary and S.T.E.M. The cruise line also offers special teen-focused spa services, such as peroxide-free laser teeth whitening, mani-pedis and deep-cleansing facials and hair treatments.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian’s Freestyle Cruising is all about flexibility and freedom. Your teens can eat where they want (with 13+ restaurants to choose from), when they want, and with whom they want (hopefully that includes you). Other highlights for teens include Entourage, a special space for teens filled with video games, movies and music; and wild themed parties like College Night, White Hot Party and Glow.
From special onboard guests with cruise partner Animal Planet™—such as Puppies in the Piazza on Alaska cruises, and Parrots in the Piazza in the Caribbean—to being in the audience, or even on stage, during The Voice of the Ocean music competition, teens will find numerous Instagrammable moments on board. Plus, at the teens-only Beach House, they’ll enjoy late-night movies, hip hop dance classes and video game tournaments.
Sharing my travel experiences and insights