Sunday, May 20, 2007
Sunday's Armchair Travel
With exams almost graded and summer time on the horizon, and with it, some travel opportunities both near and far, I thought I'd share a couple suggestions after the jump of some places to consider visiting based on some positive experiences this past year. Feel free to put in your own rec's in the comments, or if you've been to these places, your reactions too.
The Coast of California
Last August, my wife and I recovered from her Bar Exam by taking the trip up the PCH in California for a week. If you're looking for a reasonably short vacation with lots of fun places to visit, I recommend starting off in San Diego, heading up to LA, Santa Barbara, Carmel, San Francisco and capping it off in Napa. We rented a convertible for the week, and Dollar let us pick it up in SD and drop it off in SF with no charge (or maybe just a nominal charge). We alternated staying with friends and in various hotels and bed and breakfasts. Here are some links to the highlights:
Lodging: cozy rooms adjacent to the ocean at the Colonial Beach Inn in Santa Barbara and the Crystal Terrace Inn in Carmel, and an exquisite stay at the Napa River Inn. Indeed the Napa River Inn was probably the high point of the trip. The Inn included with our stay an envelope stuffed with free or discounted wine tastings at the local vineyards and restaurants in Napa Valley. We're not especially devoted foodies or oenophiles, but even a 2 day trip to Napa can jolt the senses delightfully, especially if you stop by COPIA, the American Center for Wine, Food, and the Arts.
Around the corner from the Napa River Inn, we found the Bounty Hunter. It was an extraordinary place to savor flights of wine and eat scrumptious food; the employees there helped neophytes like us learn about the varietals without a whiff of condescension. We liked it so much we went there twice...if we had time, we also would have revisited Zuzu, a tapas wonderland on the main street of Napa. The nice thing about these places is you can do a course crawl, having starters and wine at the Bounty Hunter and then moseying down to Zuzu for some other tapas and unforgettable desserts.
Other food highlights from the trip include: picnic yummies from the Oakville Grocery in Napa; Pizza at Tra Vigne in Napa; breakfast overlooking the water at the Brockton Villa in San Diego; delicious burekas at Bibi's Warmstone Bakery in Los Angeles; and the pastas at Pazzia in San Francisco (some of my favorite Italian food in an authentic trattoria in SOMA).
More recently, we took a short trip for a close friend's wedding to Montego Bay, Jamaica, where we stayed, as part of the wedding group, in the villas of the Half Moon Bay Resort. If you're pondering a destination wedding, this resort does them frequently and well, and can even host more than one on the same evening, if you're into polyamoury or something. Indeed, there was an interesting, though, as I discovered, not entirely accurate article about Jewish destination celebrations in the WSJ a couple months ago. Stephen Henriques, who is mentioned in the article and can trace his family's Jewish history in Jamaica back several hundred years, officiated the wedding we attended.
As you can see from some of the pictures here, the setting was glorious, and the service was both cheerful and plentiful. Each villa (which you book with family or friends to fill the various rooms) comes with butler, cook, and maid. Frankly, the level of service is almost uncomfortable, and certainly, mostly unnecessary...you're not sure whether to feel grateful for the chance to pump money into the developing economy or to feel guilty about one's own lot in life. Probably a bit of both. At least whilst on vacation, the best way to work though such troubles was to hit the tennis court and beaches, and tip generously. I should mention that the food at the resort or its affiliated restaurants was not especially impressive. When in doubt, you're best off sticking to the fish entrees and the mango-infused desserts, or buying groceries at the local commisary on the grounds and having the cook help you whip up something based on local recipes that is both simple and tasty.
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Thanks for the travel tips - seems like all signs point toward Jamaica!
Posted by: Jamaica Cara | May 22, 2007 10:27:43 AM
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