Starting the New Year in Santa Barbara
We spent New Years in the wine country of Santa Barbara and one last night at the Ritz Carlton Bacara on the beach. We have visited this area many times so it was a great way to start off 2018.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans with Friends
In February we had some friends meet us in New Orleans for the first weekend of Mardi Gras where we ate too much, drank too much and cheered at the parades for beads. It was a lot of fun though I did give myself a whopper of a hang over one day.
Exploring Whidbey Island with Friends
Our dear friend Karen picked up and moved to the Pacific Northwest at the end of 2017 so we planned a visit to see her over Memorial Day Weekend. We rented a house on Whidbey Island for a few days and hung out with Karen and her sweet lab, Mabel. She also introduced us to some other friends of hers that live on the island and we had a great time grilling steaks and drinking local wines with them over the weekend.
Experiencing Meow Wolf in Santa Fe with my Cousin
My cousin and I saw a posting about the Moew Wolf art exhibit in Santa Fe online and decided to go at the end of the summer. It was definitely a trippy experience but we had a lot of fun. We also enjoyed some spa time and great food during our visit to one of my favorite U.S. towns.
Renting a Private Villa in St. John, USVI for a week
For our week long April trip this year, we decided we wanted lots of downtime so we rented an awesome villa on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. We had our own private plunge pool and the most amazing sunset views looking towards St. Thomas. We loved self catering on this trip and doing what we wanted, when we wanted. Our days were spent at the most incredible beaches in the morning and sipping sundowners on our patio in the afternoons and evenings, listening to Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffett.
Revisiting Jost Van Dyke, BVI
We vacationed on the tiny island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands from 2005 to 2014 before we decided that the island had gotten a little too overrun with tourists and day trippers and we started looking for other places to visit. On our trip to St. John in April, we chartered a private boat and captain and spent the day revisiting Jost and seeing some old friends and staff members. Jost was hit extremely hard by Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017 and they were still rebuilding and recovering – you can see some of the damage in my photos below, especially the trees. The water was still it’s usual Bombay Sapphire blue, though.
Touring our Favorite Spots in Paris Again
Our “big” trip of the year was a 9 day visit to Paris and the French Riviera. I hadn’t been to Paris in about 10 years so we had a lot of fun touring around our favorite neighborhoods and feeling no pressure to wait in line for museums or major sites. We had long, leisurely lunches and just enjoyed the ambiance of the city for once.
Exploring the Markets and Old Town of Nice
After Paris, we spent 3 days in Southern France in Nice and I absolutely loved the small alleyways and streets of old town Nice. Every morning there was a large farmer’s market going on and my only regret was not splurging on some kitchen goods and provencal linens while there.
Sunset Cocktails in Antibes, France at the Hotel Belles Rives
After Nice, we headed west and stayed at the beachy town of Antibes for three nights at a wonderful art deco hotel called the Belles Rives. My favorite part of this hotel was their gorgeous bar, which overlooked the Mediterranean and had great sunset views. They had a piano player each evening singing Cole Porter tunes and I felt like I was back in the 1920’s sipping on my bellini every evening.
Wine Tasting and Village Visits in Provence
We hired a private driver for a day tour of Provence and some wine tastings. We visited the quaint stone village of St. Paul de Vence and then drove out to the countryside and did some tastings of rose wine. My husbands said that this was by far his favorite trip to France ever (we have been 3x but have only stayed in and around Paris). The South of France was a revelation!
Staying in a Palace for One Night at the Hotel de Crillon
On our return trip we needed to stay one last night in Paris so I decided to splurge big and booked a one night stay at the Rosewood Hotel de Crillon, which used to be a palace in the 1700’s. It was over the top luxury and a bit out of my league but it was so much fun to see how the other half lives for one night. Having a drink in their bar was a fun, albeit overpriced, experience!
Michelin Starred Lunching at La Chevre d’Or in Eze
My other favorite moment on our trip to France was our 3 hour lunch at the Chevre d’Or in the medieval hillside village of Eze. We went all-out on the multi-course tasting menu with wine pairings and we were not disappointed! The food was delicious but the view really stole the show. Sipping perfectly paired French wines while staring at the blue of the Mediterranean is one of my fondest memories now.
Seeing the Fall Foliage in Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico
Stephen and I have a deep affection for Santa Fe and hope to buy a retirement home there one day. Having never visited in the fall, we decided to do a quick weekend trip there to see the foliage and stay at one of our favorite hotels, the Inn of the Five Graces. We also drove the “high road” to Taos through the mountains and had a lovely lunch with some friends of ours that live there. The crisp mountain air was just what we needed.
Sightseeing the Monuments and Memorials of Washington D.C.
I had to make a work trip to D.C. and my event fell on a Friday morning so I talked Stephen into hopping a Friday morning flight and we spent the next 2 days walking the National Mall and checking out some of the museums. The best part about D.C. is that all the monuments, memorials and museums are free! We walked until our feet almost fell off but we had a great time!
Snorkeling in Fiji
Our last trip of the year was a visit to Matamanoa Island Resort in Fiji. I love snorkeling and Fiji was hands down the best snorkeling I have ever done and I’ve snorkeled all over the Caribbean and even Tahiti. The reef off Matamanoa was breathtaking and I would spend at least 1-2 hours every morning and afternoon floating over this magical underwater world.
Visiting Castaway Island (Monuriki) in Fiji
When we arrived in Fiji, I didn’t realize that the island where they filmed the movie Castaway, starring Tom Hanks, was only a 10 minute boat ride away. Our hotel arranged for a visit to Momuriki where we snorkeled, swam and walked the beach where Mr. Hanks washed up in the movie. The boat guys even brought their own “Wilson” for us to take cheesy photos with.
Watching the Most Beautiful Sunrises and Sunsets in Fiji
I think discussing sunrises and sunsets in the best way to end this post. I could come up with a few other favorite moments to drag this list out to an even twenty but this is really what came to my mind first. We saw some beautiful sunsets and sunrises during 2018, including in the Virgin Islands, France and California but I think Fiji wins for the best nature display this year. Every time I watched one, my breath was taken away and I have fond memories of Fiji because of how peaceful and remote it is. With no phones, limited wifi and no TVs, my husband and I really got to spend quality time together and I read some great books. We loved ending the year on this note.
Looking forward to all 2019 has to bring!