24 Hours in Sonoma, California

Vintage Plane Spotting with my sweet ride, Black Truffle, in Sonoma

I needed a break. Work was all encompassing. It was time to take matters into my hands. I had to channel the Layla I used to know and love. The Layla I had ignored for structure, order, and responsibility. It was time to throw caution to the wind and channel my inner spontaneous bon vivant.

I went onto Hotel Tonight on Friday night. The next thing I knew I was spending 24 hours in Sonoma at the Sonoma Hotel, a quaint historic inn smack dab in the center of Sonoma Square.

Sonoma Hotel… ain’t it cute?!

We didn’t want to drive once we started tasting (obviously), so, after searching for hotels in the center of town that were available last minute, reasonably priced, and walking distance to tasting rooms, we settled on the Sonoma Hotel ($200/night). It was adorable and just what we thought it would be. Quaint. Simple. Clean. Reviews were accurate about one thing. The walls are thin. Thankfully, after several tastings and general parenting exhaustion from the week/years, we fell asleep at around 10pm and didn’t hear a thing.

Tasca Tasca

Since this trip was completely spontaneous, we didn’t make a single reservation, but that wasn’t a problem. We headed for a late lunch at Tasca Tasca, a Portuguese tapas & wine boite served in a charming, European space. The above photo (from left to right) is their 7 item sampler. Perfect for two. We ordered kale salad (I’d probably pass on this next time or get the dressing on the side as it was a bit tart for my taste), blood sausage (husband loved it), ceviche (good and healthy since we wanted to drink our calories), crab empanadas (solid), Queijo de Sao Jorge cheese (I’d pass and try something else), Linguica Caseira (delicious traditional Portuguese sausage), and Bacalhau (salt cod cakes… can I get a ‘Si?’)

Sonoma Goods

We then walked off the food by visiting the Mission and reading about the history of Sonoma. One thing missing – the history of the Miwok and Suisunes people. All mentions of indigenous culture appear erased. Note to the Sonoma Tourist Board: rectify that situation, please. First, you see the servants quarters of General Vallejo’s home, La Casa Grande, built in the 1830s which later became the center of social life north of San Francisco. General Vallejo was born in California, but Mexico controlled the area at the time. In 1846, he was confronted by leaders of the Bear Flag Party (yes, that’s where the Bear Flag originates!). California was home to American settlers who didn’t trust their Mexican rulers. When rumors of an impending war between the US and Mexico came to California, according to Wikipedia, The California Republic, or Bear Flag Republic, was born as an unrecognized “breakaway state” from Mexico. For 25 days, the Sonoma area was controlled by the settlers and the breakdown of Mexican rule began.

Passagio Wines

After our tour of the town’s Mission and history, we were thirsty. Next up: wine at Passaggio Wines in the Sonoma shops. Since I’m a lover of white wines, I’d read that Passaggio had a nice selection. My tasting included their 2019 Sauvignon Blanc from Albini Vineyards in Sonoma, their 2019 Chenin Blanc from Heringer Estates in Clarksburg (my favorite tasting for its light clean aftertaste), and the 2019 Tempranillo rose (aka. Rose Colored Glasses). Steve, the sommelier, gave us a great history of the wines and the shop. Apparently, the owner used to work in law enforcement and, later in her career, decided to study wine making to eventually open the shop.

Life goals!

Day Boat Scallops

We then took walk around town to burn off calories and moved onto dinner. Since we enjoyed the tapas spot, we decided to try their sister restaurant, La Salette. I guess we were in the mood for Portuguese. My husband ordered a Wood Oven Roasted Octopus with sweet onion purée, red wine vinegar, and fried potato ($16) to start and he said it was delicious. I ordered the Chouriço Crusted Day Boat Scallops, Japanese sweet potato purée, leek confit, and molho cru ($17). The scallops were fantastic and cooked to perfection. The chourico (chorizo) crust was an excellent touch with its the firm consistency and succulent flavor. I also loved the leek confit mixed with the Japanese yam purée. Everything tasted filling, yet fresh and healthy. For our main, we shared the Bacalhau no Forno, a traditional baked casserole of north Atlantic salt cod, potatoes, onions, and olives ($27) because we love Bacalhau. What can I say? We ate it twice in one day! The other items looked wonderful, but we were pretty full from eating and drinking throughout the day. That said, we finished with a port flight and dessert because… rice pudding with cinnamon, madeira braised fig and toucinho do céu (an almond cake that almost tastes like caramelized fluffy oranges).

La Salette’s traditional dessert tasting

From there, we took the short walk through the quaint city square, made it to our warm hotel room above The Girl & The Fig (another local fave), and it was… 24 hrs. of bliss.

Staycationing in Sausalito

Beautiful Sausalito

By Jessica Rogers

Sadly with the pandemic, many of us are traveling a lot less than in 2019. I used to be on a plane multiple times a month for work (or using travel points for vacations), but I haven’t gotten up the courage yet to head to the airport. On the positive side of things, it’s given me more time to explore the bounty of the Bay Area. One of the gems in its crown is charming Sausalito.

The city of Sausalito has waterfront end-to-end on its eastern side and is framed by the gorgeous hills of the Marin Headlands on its western side so there are plenty of outdoor activities to be enjoyed here (perfect for social distancing!). One of my favorite activities is kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding on the Bay. Sea Trek makes it easy with year-round rentals. You can spend hours exploring the Sausalito waterfront and its quirky houseboat community.

SUPs on Richardson Bay

If you prefer to have someone do the boating for you, SF Bay Adventures is your go-to resource for a whole fleet of boats, either for public or private sails. The Matthew Turner tall ship is a 132’ classic vessel built right in Sausalito. This impressive ship offers various opportunities to get out on the bay, including a 3-hour sunset sail with reserved seating areas so you can stay distanced from others. The Schooner Freda B also offers unique options, including a Full Moon Sail or private charters if you’d like to take the family.

A quick drive west will bring you to Rodeo Beach with plenty of parking and options to either lounge on the wide beach or take a hike along the coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Go as far as you like along the endless trail system in the Headlands.

View from the Rodeo Beach coastal trail

Of course, all this activity will make you hungry. Food options abound in Sausalito, and most take advantage of the gorgeous waterfront setting. Le Garage, a French bistro set on the water in the Schoonmaker Marina, is a standout. The tables are widely distanced and heat lamps and umbrellas are available. Their brunch is amazing … get ready to feast on their decadent quiche, and wash it down with a delicious Peach Bellini (my fave, although my friend adores their Kir!).

Le Garage’s delectable Dungeness crab salad and Kir

In downtown Sausalito, I am among the many local fans that adore the Italian food at Angelino, which is run by the lovely Ancona family. Tables here face directly onto the Bay with a clear shot of Angel Island and San Francisco. Plus points for COVID – they recently installed some outdoor heaters so you can linger longer. If you’re looking for the quintessential Sausalito experience, this is it.

For something more casual on the water, The Joinery is a neighborhood favorite. Order at the bar and find a table outside overlooking Richardson Bay. They have a rotating menu of beer and wine and the food is delicious and well-portioned. I dream about their crispy fried chicken sandwich, balanced perfectly with a nice arugula and fennel topping and a spicy aioli. The fried brussel sprouts are also amazing … I think the pandemic has me craving comfort food!

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Stores are currently open at limited capacity in Marin, so if you’re in the mood for spending, Sausalito has you covered here, too. My favorite new store in town is Salty on Caledonia Street, which carries a broad range of well-designed goodies from the local area and beyond.

Of course, a trip to Sausalito wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Heath Ceramics store. I could spend hours in here dreaming of ways to fill my kitchen cabinets with their dishes and serveware.

Heath Ceramics

To enjoy Sausalito for multiple nights, hit up one of the luxury hotels in the area. A favorite is the Inn Above Tide, which sits directly on the Bay. Perfect for a romantic getaway or just to get out of the same house you’ve been sitting in since March.

View toward San Francisco from one of the waterfront rooms at Inn Above Tide

The best thing about Sausalito is that it’s easy to visit … just a 10-minute drive from San Francisco, or 40 minutes from SFO, if you have the courage to fly. With most of the city based around outdoor activities and dining, it’s the perfect place to visit and imagine the pandemic away.

When she’s not planning a vacation, Jessica Rogers is the Chief Growth Officer at Turner Duckworth, a global design studio. The way to her heart is a luxury hotel and a dirty vodka martini.

Travel Beauty: Natural Hydration from Weleda

Weleda Gardens – Bouxwiller, France

As many of you know, the cleaner the beauty, the better my skin. I’m all about finding the most natural (even better *organic*) beauty and travel products or services on the market. I want farm-to-table and farm-to-face, baby!

Since the 1920s, Weleda’s 50 acres of Biodynamic gardens — The Weleda Biodynamic Gardens in Schwabisch Gmund, Germany – are some of the largest in Europe (with additional farms across Europe!). Their farming principles inspire high-quality products and as a recipient of the UEBT certification for “Sourcing with Respect,” this assures consumers that biodiversity is protected along the company’s supply chain.

So, as one of my favorite brands, Weleda, approaches its 100th anniversary, when I read that they’re introducing a new Sheer Hydration facial line I wanted to share. The new products are formulated with Prickly Pear Cactus Extract from the volcanic soils of Mexico and Aloe Leaf Juice (and you know how much we love Mexico). Fast-absorbing, weightless, breathable moisture leaves skin feeling hydrated for up to 24 hours, so check it out!

Sheer Hydration Daily Dew Lotion ($23.99/ 1.0 fl oz)

This lightweight facial lotion is great for all-day hydration. Ingredients include Prickly Pear Cactus Extract, Aloe Leaf Juice, and Witch Hazel Water. This is great for normal to combination skin.

Sheer Hydration Moisture Mist ($14.99/ 3.4 fl oz)

I call this the “spa mist” because it smells like you’re instantly transported to a spa. Instant spa vibes. Instant hydration. Oil-free, this mist is said to boost skin, leaving it soft for up to 12 hours. Perfect for use before and after makeup application. Key ingredients are in line with the other products in this line: Prickly Pear Cactus Extract, Aloe Leaf Juice, and Witch Hazel Water. Works for all skin types!

www.weleda.com

Around the World on a Private Jet

Cartagena Colombia to Easter Island… Private

I’m not gonna lie. When I started going stir crazy, but I didn’t want to fly with a bunch of strangers, I started checking out private jet companies. Then, I went even deeper a few months later and looked into private jet and yacht vacations. A girl got desperate. A girl needs a dream. That’s when I came upon a big wild trip from one of my favorite travel purveyors, Abercrombie & Kent.

A private Boeing 757? Don’t mind if I do.

Most don’t know that Abercrombie & Kent was a private jet pioneer, introducing the first Royal Air Tour in 1989. Today it is one of the most experienced companies in the private jet business, having designed and operated dozens of programs on a variety of luxury aircraft to destinations all over the world, as well as custom-designed jet itineraries for multi-generational families and private groups.

Travellers who have had to put their passport away will appreciate their newest Private Jet journey taking off at this time next year, Around the World with Geoffrey Kent: An Inspiring Expedition by Private Jet (Oct 14-Nov 8, 2021). This one-of-a-kind adventure offers 48 guests the opportunity to explore the far reaches of the world alongside A&K founder Geoffrey Kent and discover lesser-known destinations on one expertly planned itinerary featuring insider access.

Vietnam, Ha Long Bay to Danang (Travel Day)
  • Discover Kanazawa, “the other Japan”, known for its rich cultural offerings, alongside a renowned Japanologist
  • Explore remote villages along the Irrawaddy River
  • Marvel at the natural wonders of Ha Long Bay
  • Meet with artisans at a private exhibit of ethnic textiles at a former royal residence in Luang Prabang
  • Relax in the Maldives
  • In Benin learn the secrets of African Vodoun (Voodoo) at an authentic private ceremony
  • Explore the white sand dunes and crystal clear waters of Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Brazil

To travel on an A&K Private Jet Journey is packed with insider access, fine dining, and invitation-only cultural celebrations. Sample local street food at festive neighborhood in Hanoi hosted by a celebrity chef; explore Kenroku-en Garden accompanied by its chief landscape designer, followed by a private tea ceremony. and learn the ways of African Vodoun at a private ceremony in Benin.

South America, Brazil, Lençois Maranhenses

You can also personalize the journey with a choice of Design Your Day® activities. In Hanoi, cycle around West Lake, meet traditional handicraft makers on an ethical artisan tour or visit a private art collection, hosted by the curator. In Brazil, explore Lençóis Maranhenses National Park by 4×4, boat or horseback; learn to kite-surf or paddle board; or simply relax on a pristine beach.

For hotels, you can expect classic luxury like the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi and lesser-known gems like the Porto Preguiças Resort, gateway to Brazil’s Barreirinhas region and Mitsuno-Midori Ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn featuring its own private onsen, as well as the luxe ‘Sanctuary Ananda,’ an intimate all-balcony river cruiser on the Irrawaddy River.

Japanese Geisha

For those who want someone to carry our bags from start to finish, you also have A&K’s Travelling Bell Boy® which ensures that luggage is waiting in guest rooms at each hotel and complimentary laundry service. Prior to departure, save time with A&K’s White Glove Visa and Passport Handling, a concierge service that expedites visa and passport applications.

For this epic private personalized around the world 26-day tour, it’ll cost you, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So, if you have the money, why not spend it on a once-in-a-lifetime experience?

$160,000 per person, double occupancy

Now who’s payin?

https://www.abercrombiekent.com/private-jet