This little luxury gem was such a lucky find that I had to write it up. Thanks to my buddy, Jessica, who heard about this spot from friends, it’s like staying at your wealthy friend’s private home along the Napa River, complete with a fridge stocked with sparkling (or flat) water and sodas just for you. Something between a luxury B&B and a spa, it’s right on the water, feels like a bucolic dream, and worth every penny with their pristine fluffy towels and chic modern amenities.
For a quick jaunt outside the city during Bottlerock, this property was quiet, luxurious perfection. I only wish I had more time to relax in front of the Napa River and enjoy the view with a good book in hand. Breakfast is included and had all the usual favorites for American – or European – palates. Scrambled eggs or chicken sausage, you got it. Oatmeal, croissants, or pastries, they have that too. Basically, they have everything you need if you’re looking for a B&B vibe that’s high-end and private. I’ll definitely be heading back on my next sojourn. They even have a complimentary wine tasting in the afternoon. Win win!
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.
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.
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?’)
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.
After our tour of the town’s Mission and history, we were thirsty. Next up: wine atPassaggioWines 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.
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 theChouriço 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 theBacalhau 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).
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.
Germany. From bratwurst and Beethoven’s birthplace to beer and some of the best art and music in the world, it’s time to check out Rhineland-Palatinate’s Summer of Culture, taking place every year from May 1st – October 3rd. Featuring well over 200 projects covering all kinds of different cultural aspects, the theme is revised annually to reflect new focuses for the content, and the venue for the grand opening also changes every year. A large cultural festival on the first weekend in May also offers families their first peek at the summer’s program of events held across the state covering cultural, religious, artistic and social themes.
In early 1992, the Rhineland-Palatinate state government announced the staging of the first Rhineland-Palatinate Summer of Culture, the aim of which was to increase people’s awareness of the region’s culture. What the organizers had – and continue to have – in mind was a sort of ‘citizens’ movement for culture’. The Summer of Culture is, in fact, characterized by the large number of small projects and ideas at its core that were themselves developed out of local or regional initiatives. With almost 250 events including concerts, readings, exhibitions, children’s activities, theatre and more, it’s an incredible melting pot of people and ideas.
From example, throughout August 24, 2019, the Mayen Burgfestspiele Theatre Festival is the cultural highlight of the Northern Rhineland-Palatinate. Every summer, the quiet town Mayen, located about 1 hour north of Mainz (another little colorful gem) turns into a colorful theater city.
There’s also a nearby wine festival for the parents. The Rheingau Wine Festival has around 100 winemakers offering the acclaimed Rheingau riesling wines, as well as sparkling sekt and regional fare. The ten-day wine festival includes a varied program of entertainment in Schlossplatz and Dern’schen Gelände squares in Wiesbaden too!
Hyatt Ziva Cancún, which debuted in November 2015 as the newest addition to a distinguished collection of Hyatt all inclusive resorts for guests of all ages, has thoroughly re-imagined the all inclusive experience from the ground up. From its unrivaled location at the tip of the Yucatan peninsula to its luxurious Ziva Sky Swim-up Suites, Hyatt Ziva Cancún stands apart from the rest. Unquestionably, the resort’s greatest distinction from other all inclusive properties lies in its cuisine. Hyatt Ziva Cancún is fully committed to authentic gourmet dining, seasonal flavors and fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Guests can curate their own gastronomic journey at Hyatt all inclusive resorts – one might start the day with a pastry from Casa Café, try fresh ceviche for lunch by the beach, reminisce over a private candlelit dinner in the sand and cap the day with a sweet treat from our fantastical, sugar-themed dessert parlor, Pasteles. Best of all, it’s entirely unlimited and fully at the guest’s discretion.
Redefining the all inclusive resort by satisfying every age, taste and style, whether traveling as a family, couple or group, Hyatt Ziva Cancún provides the typical All You Can Eat bonanza and a world of à la carte options to suit every palate. Nine distinct restaurants offer full menus to ensure that guests’ taste buds never tire:
· La Bastille, presenting timeless French cuisine in an elegant, yet relaxed setting for adults only
· El Mercado, a bountiful buffet of gourmet international cuisine with both indoor and outdoor seating
· The Moongate, offering a variety of Asian specialties, from dim sum to an interactive teppanyaki table
· Tradewinds, a casual oceanfront grill by day and a classic steakhouse by night
· Lorenzo’s, serving Trattoria-style favorites for lunch and elegant Italian traditions for dinner, including brick oven pizza
· Habaneros, featuring tacos and fresh ceviche beachside
· Chevy’s, a classic all-American diner with burgers and milkshakes, and even a ’57 Chevy convertible that guests can dine in
· Pasteles, a delightful dessert parlor
· Casa Café, specializing in all things coffee, plus scrumptious pastries and snacks
In addition to the restaurants, mobile food carts roam the pool and beach areas with tacos, burgers, fresh fruit, sweet crepes, and cool refreshments. Plus, in-suite dining, is available 24-hours a day. This is something appealing to families because other all inclusive resorts like Club Med Cancun don’t offer this.
Choices abound at Hyatt Ziva Cancún, not only for dining but also for nightlife and libations. Adults can enjoy unlimited signature cocktails and a wide selection of beer, wine, tequila, and premium spirits at seven distinct watering holes:
· Juana Margarita, a tequila tasting bar offering local tequila varieties and an onsite tequila sommelier
· Tres Cervezas, a sports bar and microbrewery featuring handcrafted microbrews and an onsite brewmaster
· Sassil Bar, a contemporary lobby bar inspired by the region’s Mayan heritage, featuring both indoor and ocean-view outdoor seating
· Punta Vista, a rooftop lounge with panoramic views by the adults-only pool
· Dips & Sips, featuring both outdoor and in-pool seating at the swim-up bar
· 24 Horas, a lively 24-hour lounge
· Bar del Mar, the exclusive Hyatt Club Level lounge overlooking the infinity pool, offering both indoor and outdoor seating