2017 Travel Highlights

We began and ended 2017 in a similar fashion: on a hiking/biking trip on the California coast. Are we in a rut? Maybe—but it’s cold in Minnesota at the beginning and ending of the year, and in California, it’s… Not.

 

Granted, the two trips were a bit different. 2017 started in Montecito, with more hiking and hills than biking and ocean. And, of course, the tiny prancing dogs that populate the streets of Montecito (with accompanying owners) are a bit more pretentious, with a tad more Botox.

 

2017 ended in Carmel, with more biking and ocean than hiking. The Carmel dogs are more laid back, relaxed, friendly and comfortable in their skin—eschewing the Botox and the covering of grays.

(Yes, it’s true that dogs do look like their owners.)

 

And then there was everything in between the prancer parades bookending the year:

 

Eating our way through Miami, walking the sunny little town of Zihuatanejo, exploring and eating through San Juan, Puerto Rico (pre-hurricane). Bicycling the wine region in Chile, bicycling, eating and drinking in Yountville. Bicycling from Kotor to Budva in Montenegro, where we had one of the best hotel experiences. Spending almost every weekend at the lake cabin, hunting for the best bagels in Montreal, summer sunshine in Kennebunkport, hiking and biking from French Basque through Spanish Basque to Rioja. Eating at all the best San Sebastián pintxo bars, listening to live jazz at Bangkok’s Bamboo Bar. Spending two weeks in Bhutan, spending two weeks in Bhutan, spending two weeks in Bhutan (it warrants three mentions). Bar-and-restaurant-hopping in New Orleans.  Not to mention weekends away in NYC, LA, Nashville, and San Francisco as extensions of business trips.

 

Whew.

To our credit, we savor every experience. We capture it in words, photos and sketches. We spend time reminiscing and remembering. And every year, we put together photos of our adventures, grab the wine (big surprise) and look back on our good fortune and worldly experiences.

For this year’s highlight reel, we’re trying a he said/she said:

 

Montecito: New Year’s at San Ysidro Ranch:

He: Pedro the bartender.

She: Pizza and prancers (tiny designer dogs prancing by).

SYR 2 SYR4

 

Fort Lauderdale/Miami:

He: Amaro (liqueur) and Alter (restaurant). The order of which is debatable.

She: Alter and Amaro. The beginning of our love affair with Amaro.

 

miami

 

Zihuatanejo:

He: It’s a real town, not just touristy Mexico.

She: Drinking wine on our balcony at sunset. Every night.

La Casa Que Canta

 

zih sunset zih town

 

Puerto Rico:

He: Hidden neighborhoods and dinner at Santaella.

She: The mosaics as you walk into old town.

 

mosaicsbar at santaella

 

Chile:

He: Unexpected world-class architecture hidden away in the mountains.

She: Empanadas and Dr. Diarrhea (our newfound friend, an infectious diseases doctor spouting eating advice while bicycling uphill).

He: Small assortment of other batshit crazy, intrepid travelers, bicycling our way through wine country.

She: The introduction to real Chilean wine.

(Chile deserves two, and we always mention wine)

 

chile vik chile

 

Montenegro:

He: The George (see here for reference)

She: The first view of Aman Sveti Stefan. Getting to Aman Sveti Stefan. Staying at Aman Sveti Stefan. How often do you bicycle over a mountain pass to see your hotel parked on an island in the ocean?

(Runner up for both: The view back at Kotor bicycling up and over the pass)

 

kotor aman 2 aman

 

Spain/France Basque:

He: Are we bicycling into the rain or away from the rain? Probably both. The rain in Spain is mostly in France.

She: Where can I can find the Espelette pepper seasoning? (Answer: here. You won’t regret it.)

P1050292 peppers

 

San Sebastian:

He: Never met a pintxo bar I didn’t love.

She: The town filled with tiny white dogs, and the dogs also love the pintxo bars.

 

P1050942 pinxto

 

Bilbao:

He: Book a room with a terrace overlooking the Guggenheim.

She: Book a room with a terrace overlooking the Guggenheim.

 

hotel guggenheim

 

Rioja:

He: Twelve-mile downhill bike ride into the majestic sweeping valleys.

She: The hilltop towns of San Vicente, La Guardia and El Ciego.

 

hilltop town 2 hilltop town

Bhutan:

He: Yak cheese. Yes, after the most awe-inspiring trip to one of the most remote places on earth, I say the tasteless, odorless yak cheese.

She: Taking a conference call sitting outside in the middle of the country. The Gangtey Lodge. The three-hour hike to the Tiger’s Nest at over 10,000 feet. The little tiny boy mimicking those praying at the Golden Buddha. Flying in fighter jet style…..

He: You’re only supposed to get one per category.

 

buddha 2 kid praying buddha

 

One Night in Bangkok:

He: The $100 glass of champagne at the rooftop bar at the Sky Bar.

She: The $5000 view at the Sky Bar.

 

sky bar 4 sky bar

 

New Orleans:

He: Our crazy glassblowing friends and drinking the perfect Sazarac.

She: Day drinking. This year, at Maypop, Willa Jean, La Petite Grocery, Shaya and Coquette.

 

maypop coquette

 

San Francisco:

He: Thankful for Uber.

She: Californios for dinner. After sickeningly sweet drinks at Smuggler’s Cove.

 

californios san fran

 

Yountville:

He: Tour of $10 million renovation of French Laundry’s kitchen. watching the balloons watch from our hotel Bardessono.

She: Bicycling down Oakville Grade. (Because what struggles up Mount Veeder road, gets to come down.)

Runner Up: watching the balloons launch  from our hotel Bardessono.

 

balloons in yountville oakville grade 2

 

Kennebunkport/Boston:

He: Clams casino at Hurricane in Kennebunkport, where the bartender remembers our name year after year.

She: Lobster rolls. And visiting the Bushes (HW and Barbara) on the second-best walk in the US.

 

kenne 2 kenne 3 kenne 1

 

Chicago:

He: Randomly running into an old friend/client at Cruz Blanca, and staying in the best location in Chicago (Soho House in West Randolph neighborhood).

She: The cocktails and cocktail bar at the swanky new BLVD.

 

BLVD

 

Montreal in June:

He: Being made painfully aware of my terrible French.

She: Walking the town in the quest for the perfect bagel.

 

montreal bagels

 

LA (multiple times):

He: Chi Spacca, sitting on the cook’s line and watching the meat cook.

She: Jon and Vinny’s, sitting on the cook’s line and watching the pizza prep and cook.

chi spacca jon and vinny

 

NYC (multiple times):

He: Always ending up in the Nomad’s Library Bar for dessert at the night.

She: Taking the same picture of Flatiron building at sunset, starting our Nomad/Flatiron progressive.

 

nomad flatiron

 

Nashville:

He: What is the Gulch? Where is the Gulch?

She: Cocktails outside at Urban Cowboy Public House.

 

Carmel:

He: Bicycling 17-mile drive and dinner at Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel

She: The best walk in the US.

 

carmel biking carmel 12

 

Bring it on, 2018.