Alessandra Ambrosio’s Jetsetting Style

alessandra ambrosio

When the opportunity arose to meet Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio at a recent store event, I couldn’t pass up the chance. She was visiting Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio to launch Victoria’s Secret Sport’s new incredible front-close sport bra. (The bra is awesome, by the way. Ladies, go try it out!). Obviously I’m jealous that she’s so effortlessly stunning, but I’m also envious that part of her job involves traveling the world. I was lucky enough to ask her a few questions about her globetrotting lifestyle, favorite destinations and travel essentials.

You just returned from vacation in Hawaii. What did you do there? Just relaxed and enjoyed the beaches and water. We all went surfing.

Where did you stay? The Four Seasons Maui. It was perfect!

What’s your favorite destination? Brazil, where I’m from. I get to see my friends and family.

What are your travel necessities? Headphones and my iPad. I fill it with movies. I also use the mineral water facial spray from Evian.

What’s your dream destination? Tibet.

Any essential plane reading material? I always bring a book and lots of magazines.

What’s your best travel tip? Make sure to sleep on the plane! It helps ease jet lag.


On the Van Gogh Trail in Arles

I’m a huge art buff, so one of the places I knew I had to visit during my recent tour of southern France was Arles. This little town is tucked away between Montpellier and Marseille, right above the Camargue. Beyond its obvious Provençal charms, its also the place where Vincent van Gogh created some of his most notable paintings.

Van Gogh came to Arles in 1888 after needing a break from Paris. It’s said that the sunny days and vibrant colors of Provence inspired him to paint the 200 pieces he created during his stint in the town. Visitors can follow in Van Gogh’s footsteps and visit the locations where he painted some of his masterpieces. Easels placed throughout the city mark the sites where the artist viewed his subjects and saw inspiration.

My husband and I arrived in Arles on a sunny, summer day. We had just driven from Nimes and were a little tired, but I wasn’t going to miss the chance to retrace one of my favorite artist’s steps. We stopped at the tourism office to pick up a map that points out the key Van Gogh locations, and headed out on our self guided tour of the city.

We started in the city center at the Place du Forum in search of the famed restaurant that inspired Cafe Terrace at Night. After a short walk, we stumbled upon the unmistakable yellow awnings. Now aptly named Cafe Van Gogh, it’s said that Van Gogh and his then roommate Paul Gauguin frequented the cafe for nights of absinthe drinking.

Cafe van Gogh Cafe van Gogh

Next on the tour was the facility where Van Gogh painted The Hospital at Arles. Now called Espace Van Gogh, it’s where he was taken after slicing off a portion of his ear. The beautifully maintained gardens still mirror the landscaping you can see in the painting.

Hospital at Arles

A little to the west was a recreation of the Langlois Bridge. The site commemorates the series of paintings and sketches called Langlois Bridge at Arles.

Langois Bridge

We then walked towards the Rhone to see the bridge that crosses the river, the Trinquentaille. It’s changed a bit since Van Gogh’s days, but the resemblance can immediately be seen. It’s here that The Trinquentaille Bridge was painted in 1888.


Unfortunately, we missed the locations marking Starry Night Over the Rhone and The Old Mill. We also were unable to make it to to the site of the artist’s home from the famous Yellow House. (Interesting fact - it’s no longer there, as it was bombed during WWII).

Until earlier this year, Arles housed none of Van Gogh’s actual paintings. It’s quite surprising, considering the large amount of art he produced while residing in the town. The Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles opened in June as a place to showcase Van Gogh’s legacy in the town, and I knew we had to check it out. About 10 paintings were temporarily exhibited, including the well known Self Portrait in a Straw Hat and The Yellow House at Arles. While I wouldn’t consider this a full fledged museum, it is a nice feature to compliment the Van Gogh experience in Arles.

Van Gogh Experience

To be able to stand where the artist stood when he painted some of his most famous pieces was an amazing experience to say the least. Arles was one of my favorite towns that we visited in Provence, and if you’re ever in the south of France, it’s not to be missed.


What to Pack for a Summer Beach Vacation

beach necessitiesI’m heading to the beach in a few short weeks (South Carolina, to be exact), and like any good travel blogger, I’m already thinking about what I need to pack. I know I’ll be bringing along lots of sundresses, flat sandals and all the necessities needed for beach time. Check out my list of what I always make sure to include in my beach bag.

1. C.Wonder Rugby Stripe Tote: This straw bucket tote is sophisticated and functional.

2. Coach Bridget Sunglasses: Colorful sunglasses are a must for any beach vacation, and you can’t go wrong with pink frames!

3. Woven Fedora: Anyone will look beach chic in a summery fedora, and Modcloth offers lots of fun, stylish options.

4. Clinique Broad Spectrum Sunscreen: This light, non-greasy formula is one of my favorite sunscreens.

5. Dolce Vita Anica Sandals: Flat sandals are comfy and stylish, and I love the trendy details on Dolce Vita pairs.

6. Shiseido Stick Foundation: This product packs full coverage foundation and SPF37 into one little stick.

7. FRESH sugar lip balm: Sun protection, a hint of color and it smells good! It’s the perfect lip balm to protect your pout from the summer sun.


Confused about what to pack? There’s a great packing checklist on one of my favorite blogs, Glitter Guide.

Sun, Sand and a Beach Wedding

When my brother announced that he was getting married in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I was super excited. Who wouldn’t love another reason to visit the beach? Then he told us that the wedding was happening on a Tuesday. A Tuesday? Who gets married on a Tuesday? Regardless of the day, I planned my trip to the South. Given my lack of available vacation days, it was going to be a quick trip. I booked my flight using my husband’s extra Delta miles (thanks, hubs!) and was off for 2 days of sun, sand and a beach wedding.

I arrived the airport in the early evening and was ready to get to the condo I’d be sharing with my mom, sister and a friend. It would be like a slumber party every night! It’s safe to say that the kitsch factor is alive and well in Myrtle Beach. Theme restaurants like Planet Hollywood (I didn’t know those still existed!) and family-friendly entertainment venues lined the main road from the airport. We were headed to North Myrtle Beach, which was thankfully a little removed from the hustle and bustle of the main part of town. The Wyndham Ocean Boulevard was exactly what we needed. It had two beds, a kitchen, washer & dryer and a separate living room with a sofa bed, which I quickly claimed. An oceanfront balcony overlooking the water wasn’t too shabby either. The beach was a short jaunt from the hotel’s entrance, right over the sand dunes. I love the dunes and tall grass that are unique to the coastal Carolinas. So pretty! Days were spent lounging by the beach, with trips to local restaurants for fresh seafood. When in Rome, right? The whole town was full of vacationers enjoying the beach life. I settled in and took advantage of the opportunity to relax poolside and by the ocean for a few days. beach beach Beach drinks

The wedding was the next day and was right on the beach. A little rain and a lot of wind didn’t stop the late afternoon ceremony from going off without a hitch. It was short and sweet, with the ocean serving as a beautiful backdrop. Dinner was held at Martini restaurant in North Myrtle Beach. The atmosphere was classy and mello, with a live jazz musician. The menu was great. As their name would imply, the huge selection of  martinis was impressive. I went with a blueberry lemon drop and a cajun dirty martini, which had a spicy kick. Both unique and so good! Beyond the drinks, the food and service were amazing.beach wedding Airport

Next morning rolled around, and it was time to take off for the airport. Even though the trip was only two days, it was great seeing friends and family, and everyone had a blast at the destination wedding!

Taking in Some Tennis in Cincinnati

Years ago when I was a young PR girl in New York City, the agency I worked for at the time represented the US Tennis Association. I was lucky enough to attend the US Open, and really was impressed. Today, the US Open Series is a course of tournaments that determine which players advance to the US Open. One stop on the tournament is pretty close to home in Cincinnati, and it’s always a fun event. We decided to take a road trip to Cincinnati to visit some friends and take in some tennis at the Western & Southern Open.

US Open series Cincinnati Open

We arrived early in the morning and were able to quickly get in. We had pre-purchased our tickets, and they were pretty cheap – under $20 a person! A ticket gave you access to all the practice rounds and matches, so you could visit each venue and match as you pleased. My husband pulled up the schedule online, so we knew where and when certain players were playing. We were able to see big names like Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic and Martina Hingis. I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest tennis fan, but it was cool to see the famous players up close and personal. I was excited when we got a front row seat to Serena Williams’ practice round, but sadly she was a no-show. We realized this after waiting about 30 minutes in the scorching heat for her to arrive. Oh well.

Cincinnati Open Maria Sharapova Cincinnati Open

When lunch time rolled around, I was impressed with the vast, more upscale options. There were outposts from Tony’s of Cincinnati, Taste of Belgium and the Montgomery Inn, plus local favorites like Graeter’s, Skyline and LaRosa’s pizza. I especially enjoyed the Svedka vodka lounge, and there was also a fancy Moet champagne bar.

moet lounge moet lounge

The event was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and I definitely plan to attend again next year. Check out photos from the event that have been posted on social media channels here. The event goes on for a few more weeks. Learn more and snag your tickets on the Western & Southern Open’s website.



5 Reasons Why I Want to Move to Denver


When people talk about popular, chic cities, Denver often gets overlooked for its trendier coastal counterparts like San Francisco, New York and Boston. But the capital of Colorado has a lot to offer. It’s young and educated meets tech hotspot meets the great outdoors. I’ve visited the city a few times, and each time I have one of those “yeah, I could see myself living here” moments. Here are the top 5 reasons I want to move to the Mile High City.

1. The Active Lifestyle: Denver residents take advantage of their surroundings and get outside to hike, cycle and run. The city boasts over 800 miles of bike routes, and it’s not uncommon to see couples and families enjoying outdoor activities at all hours of the day. You can even kayak in the middle of the city at Confluence Park. How cool is that?

2. The Sunshine: Sure, the winters may be cold and snowy, but Denver enjoys about 300 days of sunshine a year! That makes the town one of the top five sunniest cities in the United States.

3. The Landscape: Places like Red Rocks, Mount Evans and the rest of the nearby Rockies will leave you in awe of Denver’s natural beauty.

4. The Food & Drink: From some of la mejor Mexican food north of the border (it’s all in the green chilies), to western specialties like rattlesnake, bison and elk, Denver has a great food scene. There are also microbreweries dotted throughout the city that make this place a craft beer lovers dream.

5. The Entertainment and Nightlife: With entertainment complexes like the 16th Street Mall and Larimer Square, plus 5 professional sports teams, there is never a shortage of things to do.

My Stay at the Radisson Blu in Nice, France

Ah, Nice. The sunshine, the sea, the glitz and glam of the Côte d’Azur. This hot spot on the French Riviera is one of the places I was looking forward to visiting the most during my recent trip to France. Our stop in Nice came at the tail end of a week of traveling through Provence and the South of France. The trip thus far had been a whirlwind of trains, cars and different hotels, so I was looking forward to settling down in Nice for a few days. I didn’t know too much about the town to start, but I knew I wanted a beachfront hotel that was near all the action. I had the luxe Hotel Negresco or Le Meridien in mind, but with some of the higher end properties pushing over €500 a night during the height of the summer, we ultimately opted for something a little more economical. The Radisson Blu Nice fit the bill with its seaside location and luxury amenities. Radisson Blu Nice


We arrived in the afternoon and were able to head right up to our room. Upon entering, one of the first things that I noticed was a unique theme that I can only describe as “Caribbean Chic.” The wall was adorned with a photo of a Caribbean Carnival dancer and chili pepper sculptures decorated the wall. All decor aside, it was comfortable, and while not spacious, it was perfectly big enough for my husband and me. We were located on the highest floor, which made for easy access to the rooftop pool. The rooftop was the highlight of the hotel for me. The views it offered of the Promenade des Anglais and the Mediterranean were priceless. The pool area was clean, relaxing and offered a great cocktail menu. What’s better than lounging by the pool with a cocktail, right? We also gave the rooftop’s restaurant, La Terrasse, a try for lunch one day. The food was good, and were were able to score a overlooking the water, which made the meal memorable. In addition to the views, the staff was friendly and helpful. One of the best perks the hotel offered was the complimentary shuttle bus to Vieux Nice (Old Town), which saved us quite a lot of time and money in cabs. Lastly, never to be under appreciated, was the free wi-fi.

View from our room

view from our room

Room room bathroom



It was on our first night in Nice that we realized that the location of the hotel is not as centrally located as I would have desired. After leaving the hotel to walk in search of a restaurant, we soon found that to be much harder than imagined. The Radisson Blu is situated at the western end of the Promenade des Anglais. Much of the action is located about a mile and a half to the east, centered around the famous Hotel Negresco. This meant that the complimentary shuttle or a cab was usually needed to get to the populated part of the Promenade or Messena Square. While it may have been a little farther than we hoped for, we did enjoy some nighttime walks along the Promenade de Anglais back to our hotel.

One of the other things that stands out are the additional costs that seemed to be around every corner. The hotel’s private beach was over €20 a person, which we were told was needed to cover the charge of the beach chairs and towels. Even their rooftop pool set us back over €20 per person, per day. While it seemed crazy to me to be charged for use of the hotel’s pool, apparently these types of charges are the norm for comparable hotels in the area.



Want to see more photos of my trip to Nice? Check them out on my Instagram page.

How to Survive a Long Flight

airplane interiorWe all know that long flights can be daunting. I’ve done quite a few overnight flights to South American and Europe where the the total airtime has been well over eight hours. So how do you arrive fresh and relaxed when you land? Here are a few tips I’ve collected over the years.

1. Score an Aisle or Window Seat: No one wants the middle, right? I find it easiest to sleep when I can lean against the window, but the extra leg room that an aisle seat brings is pretty nice too.

2. Pack the Necessities: I always make sure I bring my memory foam neck pillow, eye mask, sleeping pills and a shawl to keep warm.

3. Spring for the Upgrade: If money allows, pay for a business or first class seat. It’s worth it on those long international flights. Hello, fully reclining seats!

4. Prepare for Boarding: My pre-board routine consists of visiting the airport bathroom to wash my face, put up my hair and take out my contacts. It’s pretty similar to what you’d do when getting ready for bed. A little prep and I’m ready to settle in for the long haul.

5. Bring your Entertainment: Your plane may offer its own in-seat entertainment center, but you always want to come prepared with downloaded books, music and movies on your iPad or Kindle.

6. Stretch it Out: We all know that sitting for extended amounts of time is not good. Stand up to stretch your arms and legs, and walk the aisle to get the blood flowing if the seat belt sign is off.

A Visit to Barcelona’s Picasso Museum

Picasso MuseumOne of the places I knew I had to visit during my trip to Barcelona was the Picasso Museum. I’ll always jump at the chance to take in a new museum when I’m abroad, and I heard that this one should not be missed.

The museum is located in La Ribera, one my favorite parts of the city. Finding the entrance was a little tricky, since it’s tucked away down one of the neighborhood’s narrow streets. We were able to follow the signs, then the long line to get in showed that we were in the right spot. The museum consists of five connected buildings, which we were told date back to the 14th century.

Picasso spent many of his most creative years in Barcelona, and personally requested that the museum be built in the city. A lot of the pieces were donated by the artist himself. The museum houses one of the largest collections of Picasso’s work, with pieces spanning his life. It’s well organized and laid out in chronological order, so it’s easy to navigate.

If you’re coming here to see some of Picasso’s most recognizable paintings, you may be a little disappointed. The museum focuses more of Picasso’s life and his  connection to Barcelona. The tour starts with pieces done by a young Picasso, and to see the skill he possessed at such a young age is incredible. The artist’s Blue Period is the most prevalent, and there are also some key pieces from the Rose Period. Interestingly, a twenty year gap of time is unaccounted for, and I would have also personally loved to have seen some more Cubism represented. One of the most impressive parts was the complete 58 piece collection of Las Meninas. The tour ends with some of Picasso’s pottery, which was cool to see, since it’s so seldom discussed. We were lucky enough to have visited during the temporary exhibit Post Picasso: Contemporary Reactions. The exhibit showcased modern artists’ recreations of Picasso’s style and some of his most visible paintings. Works by contemporary artists like Jasper Johns and George Condo are featured, along with the famous Picasso portrait by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Even if you’re not a huge Picasso fan or art lover, the museum is a great way to spend an afternoon. Tickets are only about $11, so it’s well worth a visit when in Barcelona.

Visiting the Museum: The museum is located at Carrer de Montcada, 15-23. Purchase tickets in advance in order to avoid the long lines. Give yourself at least 2 hours to explore. More information can be found on the museum’s website.

Top Things to do in St. Thomas

Ever since I visited St. Thomas on my honeymoon a few years back, it’s become one of my favorite Caribbean vacation spots.  Here are my picks for things to do on the island.

1. Ride the Cable Car to Paradise Point: If you’re looking for the best views, take the skyride up to the top of Paradise Point. It’s a little pricey, but the postcard-worthy photos you’ll take of the harbor are worth it. Cable Car

2. Try a Banana Daiquiri: St. Thomas is famous for its banana daiquiris, which consist of bananas, rum and ice. So simple, and so good. The drink is said to have originated at Mountain Top in the 1940s. You can find them all over the island, and they are not to be missed.

3. Snorkel at Coki Beach: This beach is known for having the best snorkeling on this island, with clear, blue waters that are filled with tropical fish. Make a day out of it and visit  the adjoining Coral World Ocean Park beforehand.Coki Beach

4. Shop for Jewels in Charlotte Amalie: Main Street is full of shops selling diamond and gem stone jewelry in all shapes and sizes. With the duty free shopping, plus the fact that most places are willing to haggle on the price, you’re bound to find a deal.

A Short Stay in Antibes, France

AntibesDuring this month’s Eurotrip, we had the pleasure of visiting Antibes, France. My husband and I were on a week long tour of the south of France, and since we heard good things about Antibes, decided to make it a stop on our trip.

Getting to Antibes: Nestled between Cannes and Nice, Antibes is located on a prime stretch of the Côte d’Azur. Because we were traveling through the smaller towns of Provence in the previous days, we would be arriving by rental car. After a few hours of driving, we made it to the coast in the late afternoon. Traffic slowed the closer we got, with cars backing up as we neared the exits for Cannes. We found our exit and then headed through the town’s many narrow, one way streets en route to our hotel. Thankfully we had our GPS!

Where To Stay: After finding a great deal on the Marriott website, we chose to stay at the AC Hotel Ambassedeur Antibes - Juan les Pins. The first thing I noticed when walking in was the I was the sleek, modern look of the lobby. We were greeted by the friendly and helpful staff, checked in, then ventured up to our room. We were kindly upgraded to one of the hotel’s suites, which could not have been any better. The room included a living area and separate bedroom, along with a huge terrace. Lounging on the terrace’s cafe table was nice, and we could see the ocean at the end of the street. The spacious bathroom offered a separate bathtub and shower, along with double sinks (how often do you see that at a European hotel?). One of the most functional features the suite provided was a very large, open “closet” space that was able to comfortably hold all our luggage and keep it out of the way. It came in handy! We made sure we made use of the hotel’s amenities – mainly the indoor and outdoor pool, plus the sauna.  The location in Juan les Pins was also great. The beach was a ten minute walk from the hotel, with a park, shops and restaurants along the way. Lobby hotel suite living room terrace

pool pool

Where To Eat: We were celebrating our anniversary and wanted to visit a nice restaurant for the occasion. The hotel had great dining options, and their restaurant Fushi looked like one of the best. We arrived for dinner and chose a table outside. The meal started with a glass of local Provençal rosé, which was one of many enjoyed on the trip. We took the server up on his suggested meal, which started with a salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and goat cheese. Next up was the main course of duck. I’ll admit this was my first time trying duck, and I was a little nervous. It actually was very good, as was the accompanying vegetable tart. Dessert was a fresh fruit tart consisting of strawberries, apricots and cream. It was so good that my husband ate it all, which was quite the feat considering that he usually refuses to eat any fruit. The meal went down as one of the best we had our whole trip.

Fushi salad dinner dessertSadly, we were only able to spend less than 24 hours in Antibes, since we planned to get to Nice the next day. We just missed their annual Jazz festival by about a week! Although it was short, I’m glad I got to experience a small part of the town and its beautiful beaches.

The Best Things I Ate in Barcelona

It’s been less than a week since I returned from a few days in Barcelona, and I’m already missing the food! Like any good foodie, I had to try all the specialties of Spanish cuisine that Barcelona had to offer.  Here are some of the photos I took as I ate my way through Barcelona.

Paella: I HAD to get paella when in Barcelona, and the serving we found at a beachfront restaurant in Barceloneta did not disappoint. Shrimp, mussels calamari and clams…so good. Paella

Sangria: One of my summer drinks of choice is white sangria. Sadly, I did not find white sangria on any menus in Barcelona, but good ‘ol red was always available. I also discovered my new favorite thing, cava sangria. Sparking wine is wonderful. So is sangria. Mix it together and it’s the like the best of both worlds.Sangria

Jamón: Ham and ham and more ham. Jamón serrano and jamón Iberico. (What’s the difference? Find out here.) It’s everywhere. There are whole stores dedicated to it. My husband is obsessed with this delicacy, so needless to say we ordered it a lot. barca7 barca2

Tomato Bread: This is no ordinary bread. Catalan tomato bread, or pa amb tomàquetconsists of crunchy bread rubbed with tomatoes and olive oil. This local specialty is served with most meals, which is good because it’s super addicting!Tomato Bread

Sweets: Flan. Chocolate croissants. Crema catalana. All amazing. And one of the most unique treats I found was a churro donut. Yes. I combined it with my morning espresso and I couldn’t have been happier. churro


My First Impression of Nice

I just returned from a few days in Nice, France. I had an amazing time, but I admittedly didn’t know what to expect when I first arrived. I’d been to Paris before, but I soon realized that the south of France has its own unique vibe. Here are some of my initial observations of the town.

1. Everyone Walks the Promenade

Tourists and locals, young and old – the Promenade des Anglais was always packed. From morning to night, we saw people walking to the beach, couples strolling hand in hand and kids riding bikes.

Nice, France2. The Beaches are Rocky

If you’re looking to lounge on a sandy beach, Nice is not the place. The beaches here are made of rocks, which made tanning and wading into the water a little painful! Locals were a little wiser and came prepared with their padded mats and shoes.

Rocky beaches of Nice3. Nothing is Free

There was a fee to use our hotel’s private beach, its pool and its towels, and we heard this was the norm! There was even a charge for water in restaurants!

4. It’s a Resort Town

The town was a lot less less “glitz and glam” than I expected, and Nice is essentially a beach town. Its laid back vibe was evident from the first day we arrived.

My US Airways Flight: A Tale of Endless Delays

I’m writing this post as I sit on the runway of Charlotte’s airport, waiting for my US Airways flight to Barcelona to depart. Our original departure time was scheduled for 6:20pm. A departure delay and a gate change later, it’s currently 9:25pm with no signs of takeoff in sight. (This is in addition to the previous flight from Cleveland to Charlotte that was pushed back by an hour and a half). The rumors and reasons given for the delays ranged from a late incoming flight to re-fueling to weather delays. The latest updates revolve around “fuel issues” with the plane, which have been happening for the last hour.

The extra hours I had to kill raised some questions in my mind. When passengers pay a fare for a service with a previously agreed upon schedule, how responsible is the airline for sticking to those time frames? Because of all the delays, we are currently slotted to arrive at our final destination, Barcelona, three hours after planned. Losing hours of time that we had planned to use exploring Barcelona is a little frustrating, especially when you’re only spending two days in the city. If time is money, what accountability does the airline have when they waste your time? When you’re paying over $1,500 a ticket for a service and the service is not provided as well as expected, what rights do you have as a paying customer? Sure, I can choose not to fly them again, but does not giving my business really affect them?
One of the deciding factors when purchasing the flight was that fact that the airline had recently merged with my airline of choice, American. I can’t help but wonder if venturing outside of the One World Alliance would have been worth it to save the time and frustration. In hindsight, maybe I should have also given the airline’s horrible on-time stats more weight. Something to think about next time I’m shopping for flights. Will my negative experience thus far on US Airways ruin my summer Eurotrip? No. But it’s certainly made the trip get off to a negative start. Needless to say, I’m nervous to see how our return flight back to the states will pan out!

Wine Tasting in Chile’s Casablanca Valley

wineryWhen I learned I would be visiting Chile again for a wedding, I knew a winery visit was definitely a must. Chile’s one of the top wine producing countries, and as a wine aficionado, visiting local wineries has always been on my Chile to do list. I’d been many times before, yet had never made a stop at one of the country’s many vineyards. This time it was a priority, and I couldn’t have been more excited. A few wine regions surround Santiago, the city that would serve as a home base of the trip. After a little research, I learned that there were many potential regions to visit. From the popular Maipo Valley to the San Antonio and Cachapoal Valleys, the options were vast. Since we were planning on making a day trip to Vina del Mar, the Casablanca Valley, situated northwest of the capital, was the perfect location. After reading online reviews, we settled on Casas del Bosque. We enlisted a few local friends, made reservations and planned to head towards the coast for a Sunday afternoon of wine tasting. We all attended a wedding the night before that ended at 5 a.m. (which the American in me was not used to!), so it was a little hard to rise and shine. The slow start to the morning, coupled with the long drive to Casablanca, meant we would probably miss our reservation. We decided to give the winery a call to inquire about other times. Luckily they were very accommodating and were able to a schedule our visit for a later time. We pulled up to Casas del Bosque in the late afternoon. The sun was shining and the weather was perfect. A short drive up the winding entryway revealed pretty vast grounds. Guests were relaxing in lounge chairs throughout the property, drinking wine and taking in the sunshine. We walked up to the main building to check in. Since we arrived later than planned (which is not uncommon for me, if you ask my friends), we opted out of the scheduled tour and decided to just do a tasting. It took place inside the 242 Aromnas Bar, and included samples of 4 wines. The four of us were seated with another party, which included some researchers from Cornell University. The wines included red and whites from the vineyard’s Reserva, Gran Reserva and Private Reserva lines. We were told the interesting story of the carmenere grape, beginning with its “exile” from France. It was looked over in favor of more popular grape varieties, and was brought to Chile. After being mistaken for Merlot for many years, producers realized they actually had carmenere grapes in the 1990s, and the majority of carmenere has been made in Chile ever since. Very informative, right? The tasting was fun, and my non wine-drinking husband even had a good time. My favorites had to be the carmenere and the sauvignon blanc, and we even took home a bottle of the latter. photo 1 wine tasting

After the tasting session, we were able to explore the wine cellar and walk around the grounds at our own pace. We also learned that the vineyard offered a few unique options. Their picnic experience provides a basket filled with food and wine that you can enjoy on the grounds, and a bike experience allows guests to bike throughout the winery. Definitely something I’d love to do on my next visit. Everyone we encountered was great, and despite our time crunch, we had a wonderful afternoon at the winery. More information can be found on their website, or you can email to schedule a visit. 010 007 005 grapes 014 wine cellar