Tag: Travel

Travel Wear for a Trip to Australia

k150_28Stiletto_City_heel_iconSZDThere’s nothing like a trip halfway around the world to feel like a true getaway. I recently returned from my honeymoon (see wedding fashion news HERE) in the land down under. We took the very long flight to Sydney, Australia, which we found to be beautiful, clean and safe. There was so much to do; it kept us busy day and night. We got almost a daily eyeful of the stunning views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as we ferried to different areas to explore. We could not have been luckier with the weather, though it was wintertime there, it didn’t get too cold – a refreshing 60 degrees during the day and clear blue skies. I did need to buy a few warm clothes for nighttime when it got down to the 40’s, and that’s nippy when you’re from L.A. and out walking around seeing the sights!

OOTD travel wear

We stayed in a hotel right along the appropriately named Darling Harbor, surrounded by sparkling water. We happened to be there the week of the Vivid Festival, a week-long, citywide celebration of arts and lights. We caught some of the light shows along the harbor and went to events for the Clipped Music Festival, the first festival dedicated to the art of music videos. The event took place at the multi-use space, The Works, where cheerful staff members served up coffee and snacks on the main floor. Upstairs was a theater space and lounge where you could see music videos on the big screen. By day, the top-level offices buzz with activity from resident production companies. The location was along Glebe, which is an increasingly trendy area of cafes and shops with a boho feel and an awesome Saturday market.

Clipped Music Video Festival
Clipped Music Festival
The Works in Glebe
The Works in Glebe

I had one main mission on my trip to Australia, and that was to meet a Koala. Unfortunately, I learned that petting or hugging Koalas is now forbidden due to the fact that they can spread some contagious nasties, and it actually really stresses them out. (OK, I guess I’ll just look at them.) But we went out to the Koala Park Sanctuary where you can get really, really close and they are absolutely adorable.

Koala Sanctuary, Sydney Australia

While there, we did get to pet and feed kangaroos, which was just as exciting. The venue has an enclosed kangaroo yard space, and you just walk in. The roos will come right up to you looking for a treat (which you can purchase at the entrance.) I was hesitant at first, putting a little bit of the dried grass snack in my hand. But my new friend just nibbled it right out of my palm and licked my fingers. Then looked at me with big brown eyes and funny little buck teeth for more. After I let him eat a bit I got up the nerve to pet him and found, much like my cat, he loved a good chin and neck scratching!

We also visited the famous Taronga Zoo to see even more animals and take in the amazing views from up on the hills that serve as a backdrop for the giraffes (my favorites!) and the cable car ride from the box office to the ferry.

Toronga Zoo

I managed to get in a little shopping while I was there, picking up some souvenirs at the market at The Rocks, some vintage earrings in Newtown (which is the equivalent to LA’s Silver Lake in terms of underground hipster vibe), an awesome  furry black jacket in Chinatown’s Market City, and a fantastic hot pink, long, wool coat for ten bucks at the Glebe Market.

While we were in Chinatown, we also stopped for some authentic Chinese cuisine and picked up some sweet buns that were so good I’m still thinking about them!

Sydney Chinatown

Whenever I travel, I always check out the local vintage shops. I didn’t find too much vintage I liked in Sydney; most carried a lot of denim and boots and items from the ’80s and ’90s. One store I liked was Zoo Vintage Emporium in Surry Hills, which had great stuff from earlier eras.

Vintage Zoo, Sydney Australia

On our last night, we went for drinks with some friends we met around town at Frankie’s Pizza By the Slice, a great rock ‘n’ roll dive bar that reminded me of CBGB’s with posters and stickers covering the walls. We took over the intimate basement bar while rock ‘n’ roll karaoke took place in the main room upstairs with people getting up to sing with the house band. It was a great send off from a city we fell in love with.

Melbourne

Our next stop was Melbourne for a short stay with friends. Melbourne is a bustling urban city, packed with people with lots of little “Laneways” off the main streets for shopping and cafes. It made it particularly difficult to find what would turn out to be my favorite vintage store on the trip, RetroStar Clothing, which is off busy Swanston street and up on the third floor of a little arcade of shops. The place was big and full of clothes from the ‘40s to the ‘80s. I was in heaven! I wish I had more time to shop there. I did make out like a bandit in the trendy Fitzroy area and discovered my favorite store in the city, Dangerfield, that had ultra cute, slightly retro alternative styles. They were having a sale and I scored some warm plaid pants, guitar print socks, and boho floppy hat.

Melbourne Shopping

We were not as lucky with the weather on our last couple of days, which was cold and rainy, so we headed for indoor entertainment at the museums.

We checked out the Martin Scorsese exhibit at The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), a really nice facility dedicated to film. The exhibits had clips and behind the scenes info on all of Scorsese’s films and memorabilia including handwritten storyboards and costumes.

Next door at the National Gallery of Victoria, I went to see 200 years of Australian Fashion, a lengthy exhibit tracing fashion trends through the decades. Of course being from the States, I didn’t know many of the designers but it was a treat to discover them.

Melbourne 200 Years of Australian Fashion

And that did it for us in the land down under. Totally worth the 15-hour flight to get there!

What I Wore

I like to travel light when it comes to clothes. (My beauty products usually take up most of the room in my suitcase!) I tend to go with things that can be mixed and matched to create different looks. I also bring a bagful of colorful vintage scarves that can be worn in my hair or around my neck to change the look of an outfit. And I leave home a lot of accessories so I can buy more on my trip , which make for fabulous souvenirs! Here I’m wearing some skinny jeans with a cute print, a Ramones tee, a leopard print scarf I picked up at one of the markets and a faux fur jacket I got in Chinatown. I also brought the pink overcoat you see in the above photos, a light sweater, a heavier sweater, a pencil skirt, and some other tees and scarves.

OOTD Glebe  

What to Wear: Travel Clothes

For the most part, just bringing layers is a good bet so you can add or remove as needed. The key to layers is to add interest by combining textures and patterns. As long as they are in the same color family, your look will be coordinated. If you’re traveling in winter, I like to bring base layers, which are thin leggings and tops from outdoor wear companies like Patagonia or North Face, so I can throw them on under my outfits when it gets really chilly and they don’t add bulk to me or my suitcase.

Pack a few of your favorite graphic tees like this Wonder Woman tank and a basic black pencil skirt that goes with everything and can be dressed up or down. Bring a light cardigan sweater like this one with a fun print to add texture. Top it with a colorful scarf around your neck or in your hair. Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes like these low-heeled oxfords and a satchel bag big enough to carry all you will need for a day of sightseeing. Make sure it has good closure because some tourist areas can have pickpockets! Click the links to shop* this look!

Travel Look

Thanks Australia, hope to see you again!
Kastle

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Trip Report: Layered Look for Springtime in Denver

k150_28Stiletto_City_heel_iconSZDSometimes you just have to get out of town to escape the craziness of life. For me, a quick, budget-friendly, road trip up to Denver did the trick. I’ve had this city on my travel wish list and I was eager to experience some real winter weather (which we never get in LA!)

Denver seems to be on everyone’s radar lately, with the legalization of marijuana and lots of neighborhood rejuvenation, particularly in the downtown area, but it’s the beautiful mountain scenery and entrepreneurial spirit that drew me there. Craft beer is big, the art and media scene is booming with lots of creative energy, and big ol’ Google is moving into nearby Boulder.

There’s even a vintage scene for little ol’ me. I found some great vintage shopping along South Broadway, picked up a vintage purse at Night and Day Vintage and a lacy slip at Boss Unlimited. I checked out the punky alt styles at Fashion Nation where I met retro-lovin’ scenester and hairstylist Polly Rockett (be sure to check out her handmade hair flowers!).

Denver vintage on South Broadway

A hipster Goodwill store, which was super clean and organized, came to the rescue when we were surprised by an incoming snowstorm. I scored a snow-protecting winter coat and brand new waterproof snow boots on the cheap because this LA girl didn’t have warm enough clothes! After running my new-to-me coat through a dry cleaner, it kept me toasty warm while hurling snowballs at my man!

snowball Fight

SoBro, as they call it, is bustling at night with youthful energy and plenty of bars and restaurants. But it was the rockabilly hangs that I was interested in. We had dinner at Gary Lee’s Motor Club and Grub, crazy ice cream flavors at Sweet Action, popped our heads in for some live music at the Skylark Lounge and had cocktails and donut holes at Adrift Tiki Bar.

We explored other areas around town including strolling Larimer Square and 16th Street Mall, which is magical at night with sparkle lights and horse drawn carriages, One of my favorite stops was Union Station, a beautiful, historical train station, lovingly preserved, which felt ultra elegant, safe and clean, with lots of shops and cafes. That’s how travel should be everywhere!

Denver Union Station

I had pure food joy when we stopped for dinner at Ted’s Montana Grill, a restaurant owned by Ted Turner, where I tried bison meat for the first time. What a pleasant surprise! It’s a very light meat, a little sweet, low fat and ultra healthy. Not only that, it was cooked perfect medium rare. I’m a fan.

Bison Burger at Ted's Montana Grill Denver

I also discovered the wonder of Voodoo Donuts, I spotted a girl carrying a box of them and immediately hit Google until I tracked it down and had me a giant sugar rush with a “McMinnville Donut” (raised yeast shell filled with Bavarian cream, topped with maple frosting and a set of eyes and mustache.) I had heard about this crazy donut shop when it opened in Portland and was excited to find one on our trip – it’s worth waiting the ever present long lines to get that fix!

Voodoo Donuts Denver

What I Wore

For someone who lives in a warm climate, I’m always a little puzzled on how to look cute and sleek while bundling up. While the clothes I brought on my trip didn’t quite make the cut when Colorado’s temperatures dropped suddenly, they served me as best they could. I paired a mod striped black sweater, over a t-shirt and some skinny black jeans over thin base layer leggings, and pointy ankle boots. My e-tip gloves let me use my phone while keeping my hands warm, and a cute, cherry-print scarf kept my hair in check and added a festive pop of springtime color to counter all the black.

Layered Look

Wearing a Layered Look

In Denver, the snowiest month of the year is March. So while everyone else is celebrating the arrival of springtime, Denverites can find themselves digging out of a blizzard, followed by very mild days. So what’s a girl to wear? A layered look! And just because it’s still cold at the turn of spring doesn’t mean you can’t bust out some colorful florals, like this botanical print full skirt. Pair the bold floral with another bold print of a striped sweater with sweet bow tie to create a strong yet playful look. You can always take the sweater off to reveal a statement-making t-shirt such as this book lover’s tee (Denver is home to many bookstores!) And don’t leave home without a jacket to stay warm when the temperature suddenly drops. This storm-ready trench coat in bright red does the trick and adds to the overall look rather than just being practical for warmth. Click the links to shop* this look!

Layered Look

So even if spring throws you a surprise cold front, you’ll be ready.

Layer on,
Kastle

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Trip Report: Hello Nashville!

k150_27Stiletto_City_heel_iconSZDYeehaw! I was lucky enough to make a quick getaway to Nashville, TN recently. The Music City seriously lived up to its name as I happened to drop into town during two huge music awards shows and events happening all over town.

After a very long, trouble-ridden flight into town, we had just enough time to grab some dinner and hit the heart of the city – Broadway where the lights do indeed shine bright. I was enamored with all the old-style neon signage and slightly floored by the amount of boot stores, BBQ and little honky tonk bars.

Nashville Broadway Neon

While there was a different country singer crooning away every 10 feet inside all of the venues, there were also massive stages erected in the for the CMT (Country Music Television) and CMA (Country Music Awards) events where anyone from Kenny Chesney to Darius Rucker could appear on stage performing their latest hit. And there was a healthy crowd for it packing the street, which was blocked off from any cars during the week. While Nashville has always been beloved city for music lovers, the current popularity of country music is making Music City quite the industry boomtown.

The next night I was lucky enough to attend the CMT Awards, the show awarding the best country music videos for the year. I got to hang in the backstage area and met some amazing people including the boys from Florida Georgia Line (who won for Best Duo Video!), their stylist Gina Ketchum and menswear designer Denise Roxenstone. I also hit the after party at Big Loud Shirt Management offices on Nashville’s Music Row

Kastle Waserman CMT Awards

With menswear designer Denise Roxenstone and celebrity stylist Gina Ketchum
With menswear designer Denise Roxenstone and celebrity stylist Gina Ketchum

Gina spotted my love for vintage as I was wearing a vintage ‘60s gown I picked up after modeling for Clever Vintage Clothing, and she turned me on to one of Nashville’s local vintage store’s Savant, which I hit the next day along with Local Honey and Pre to Post Modern where I found the best prices and picked up these amazing boots and cigar box purse.

vintage purse and boots

Another great shopping experience came at Tatyana on Broadway, the makers of ultra cute vintage reproduction fashion. They’ve seemed to have cornered the market on the pinup scene in Nashville and run a pinup photo studio upstairs from the shop. I have a couple of Tatyana dresses and I love the way they fit me. So I hit the store to see what else I could find. I lost count of how many dresses I tried on and salesman Ryan was so helpful in finding my size in various styles. I finally settled on this darling leopard print dress with full circle skirt – what sold me was the pop of red on the back flap detail, so unique and so cute!

Union Station Hotel, Nashville

And I can’t mention Nashville without talking about the food – it’s Southern cooking all the way here and you can’t go more than about two blocks without spotting a BBQ joint. I had my first taste — for breakfast of all things — at Jack’s on Broadway. But the best meal of the trip had to be the Loveless Café – a little bit outside of the city, this famous cafe has been around since the ’50s and still has that charming vintage feel. I had grilled pork with peach preserves and oh those biscuits and jam! I could eat a whole plate of them! Their adorable gift shop will allow you to purchase their amazing “hams and jams” to bring home as well! Yum!

BBQ

Biscuits at the Loveless Cafe, Nashville

Loveless Cafe, Nashville

We also had a more formal dining experience at the gorgeous Union Station Hotel, built inside a historic train station that was perfect for some photo ops. We were surprised to find that because of all the CMT/CMA events around town, the restaurant was absolutely empty aside from us – we had the whole Prime 108 Restaurant to ourselves and the service and food were excellent!

Union Station Hotel, Nashville

Lastly, I got in a couple of cultural experiences, or should I say pop culture, by visiting the Johnny Cash Museum and getting to know all about the “Man In Black” and the Frist Center for Visual Arts was having an exhibit on Italian Style that I couldn’t pass up. It was room after room of jaw-dropping outfits and gowns by designers from leading Italian fashion houses, including Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Gucci, Missoni, Prada, Pucci, Valentino and Versace. I was in heaven! So worth the visit!

Johnny Cash Museum, Nashville

And thus ended my quick little trip to Nashville. So much going on there and I didn’t even get a chance to hit the clubs the ladies at Tatyana told me about. Guess I’ll just have to go back!

See ya again soon Music City!
Kastle

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Trip Report: Lake Tahoe

k150_24Stiletto_City_heel_iconSZDEvery fall, as the summers linger in Los Angeles and the heat overstays its welcome, I get antsy to leave town and head for some cool, crisp weather. This year, I was particularly anxious to see the leaves put on their lush, colorful displays of golds and reds, which is just pure poetry to me.

We decided to head for Lake Tahoe, a place my parents always spoke fondly of because they went several times to celebrate special occasions, “You have to take the full drive around the lake” they told me.

Lake Tahoe

So we packed up and headed for Nevada. First stop Reno, affectionately known as the “biggest little city in the world,” which combines the quaint charm of small town life down the Truckee river, where we strolled down the river walk and stopped for a tasty lunch at the Wild River Grill. Then we did a quick exploration of the casino district which looked like it hadn’t changed since the Rat Pack ruled here. I love the vintage vibe but it also felt just a tad tawdry.

Reno, Nevada

Then a drive through Carson City brought us to higher elevations where we saw the gorgeous blue of the lake peek through the trees of Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe

The weather hovered around 60 degrees and we arrived in time for sunset and a few pictures before the temperatures dropped into the 30’s. Then we checked into the Zephyr Cove Resort, a rustic inn with a cabin-like feel. What we loved most about it was the cozy dining room of the restaurant, warmed by a big fireplace and a large bar. Decaf Irish coffees by the fire became my nightcap of choice for the weekend.

Lake Tahoe

We woke to perfect weather, not a cloud in the sky. We went shopping in Heavenly Village, a ski resort where a cluster of shops and cafes bustled, though at this time of year it was slow as they prepared for the onslaught of ski season. While they waited for snow, I was happy with having the place to ourselves and seeing the golds and reds of the trees in their fall colors. But I did need some warm clothes. Being an LA girl for the past many years, I am terrible at dressing for cold weather.

Heavenly Village, Lake Tahoe

So we stopped in Patagonia. I’ve always liked this brand because of their constant efforts in corporate responsibility and environmentalism (read about it here). Many of their clothes are made from recycled materials through their Common Threads program, and they work to ensure animal welfare by using Traceable Down from geese that are never plucked or force-fed.

I met Patagonia salesman, Tim, who educated me on how the layers work, starting with a light base layer, a warmer layer, a jacket and then a shell to protect from wind and rain. Since I wasn’t heading to the Arctic anytime soon, I opted for the first couple of layers with a Capeline 2 shirt in black and a Fleece Jacket in white that’s so soft and fluffy I felt like a little snow bunny the minute I put it on!

Shopping Patagonia

It was the perfect thing to wear as we headed out on a couple of hikes, first to Page Meadow where we hiked along the peaceful river and met some friendly people with super cute dogs along the way.

Page Meadow Lake Tahoe

Later, we stopped at Spooner Lake, a truly peaceful spot where you can really take a moment to breathe and be inspired.

Spooner Lake Tahoe

As my parents advised, we took a full day to drive around Lake Tahoe to take in its beauty from all angles. We were left breathless when we came across Emerald Bay and postcard perfect picture of nature’s full glory.

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

And we stopped for a bite to eat at Rosie’ Café in Tahoe City where lots of interesting vintage items dangle from the ceiling and our window seat had a fabulous view of the lake with our tasty quiche and salad.

Rosie's Cafe Tahoe City

Our 2 ½ days in Tahoe was just enough to explore the area and take a break from the city. It’s wonderful to get out in nature where the craziness of life seems to float away and you literally stop and smell the flowers. While we were lucky enough to see a group of deer cross in front of our car, we never saw any bears, though we heard about a bear called “One Eye” that hung around our hotel. It’s just as well because there were plenty of warnings to be careful about getting near them or leaving food in the car, especially now that they are trying to deter people from taking selfies with them. Hello! Can you say dangerous!

Deer crossing Nevada

But I did leave with a camera card of memories and a smile on my face. Thank you Lake Tahoe!

Until the next adventure,
Kastle

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Trip Report: Buenos Aires, Argentina

k150_23SZDheel iconEvery year I’ve been lucky enough to take one big vacation to a new place in the world that opens my eyes to new cultures. This year it was Buenos Aires, Argentina.

My boyfriend and I flew down to the “Paris” of South America for a week as the city was headed for springtime, but not before a week of cold and rainy weather.  Here’s what we found:

The City

While Buenos Aires is considered akin to a European city, I found it to be much more like New York. It has a very urban feel. Once elegant buildings with gorgeous wrought iron balconies and arched windows have given way to the decay of time and sadly, layer upon layer of graffiti throughout the city, though we found a few walls with more colorful, artistic murals. It’s bustling with people, jammed with traffic and it’s easier to get around by foot than by cab – and watch out for those cabbies, we got ripped off by a couple of them.

KCitySZD2

The Shopping

If you go to Buenos Aires, expect to shop. We stayed in the stylish Palermo Soho district, which is lined with boutique of designer stores, street fashion and fancy, pop culture knick knacks. Now after eating all that steak, they make use of their resources and offer some of the finest leather at fantastic prices. We also really enjoyed the huge market of San Telmo, filled with artisans making amazing knick-knacks. I picked up purse made from 45 records and a beautiful little stiletto shoe sculpture made of leather scraps constructed like paper mache.

sanTelmoMarketCollageSZD

I came upon the Silvia Y. Mario Leather Factory, where the sales people took great care in fitting me with a custom made jacket made from the leather of my choosing – so soft and tailored, I feel like Cat Woman every time I put it on! And later I picked up some fabulous tango shoes at an exclusive little boutique called Comme Il Faut.

See the video of my shopping highlights of the city:

The Culture

The stylish shadow of Evita, Argentina’s long-loved, ill-fated first lady is still everywhere. We ate our first meal at the Evita Restaurant. We later visited the Evita Museum dedicated to her memory, where the best part for me was the multiple display cases of her gorgeous clothes. She was a fashionable one, believing having a well-coifed, glamorous image served as an inspiration to her people. Thus loads of beautiful designer vintage clothes are a big highlight of the museum. We also visited her final resting place in what has to be one of the most stunning cemeteries in the world, the Cementerio Recoleta, filled with sky-high mausoleums of Argentina’s most rich and famous.

EvitaCollageSZD

The city’s culture also focuses on food – it’s steak and more steak of the finest cut. When we weren’t eating steak we had scrumptious empanadas and oh, wait for it, the sweet, decadent deliciousness of Dolce De Leche. Yes, I brought home TWO jars! Yum!

dolce

Buenos Aires is known for the tango, however we didn’t find as much as we hoped. It seems it’s a pastime for only the most dedicated and a way to lure tourists into fancy Vegas-style shows. We opted for the more intimate and historical venue of Café Tortoni and though we missed the tango lessons at the equally famous Confiteria La Ideal we instead caught the fantastically fun show by Sergio Pangaro who reminded me of a cross between El Vez and Dean Martin with a groovy big band and  ’60s-style, go-go backup singer/dancers. I could see them being popular in LA.  Here’s a sample:

That’s it from Buenos Aires.
Adios!
Kastle

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Trip Report: Catalina Island & The Avalon Ball

I can never say I don’t win anything. A couple of months ago, I attended the Art Deco Society’s Casino Moderne and despite my terrible (play)gambling that left me with a mere three raffle tickets, I won the grand prize – four tickets and a reserved table for the Avalon Ball in Catalina Island’s landmark Casino Ballroom.

It was time for a getaway. I’d only been to Catalina Island once for an afternoon so this time, I really wanted to see it. My man and I planned a much over-due long weekend and jumped aboard the Catalina Express. Even though it was a Friday afternoon, the boat was full as it was Mother’s Day weekend and a big mountain bike race was also taking place. But we didn’t mind much, we were on vacation!

I love how the minute you step off the boat, you’re on an island and you just walk over to your hotel. We booked a room in the St. Lauren, a super cute Victorian-style hotel that’s painted all PINK! I loved it, especially the deck that overlooks all of Avalon – a great place to take pictures!

We put down our bags and headed out to do some sightseeing. We poked in and out of all the little shops and took snapshots along the waterfront. Then it was time for dinner. All that sea air had us craving some fish ‘n’ chips so we found, Armstrong’s Seafood Restaurant, a little place along the waterfront that hit the spot. Then we dashed over to a party in one of the rental homes given by some members of the Art Deco Society as a warm up to the following night’s glamorous ball.

Saturday morning we got up and headed for breakfast at Jack’s Country Kitchen where we enjoyed some delicious eggs benedict while seated near Spencer Davis, who is a local on the island these days. After a quick hello to friendly vintage flash mob of Art Decophiles outside, all dressed up in 20’s and 30’s garb and turning heads down the street, we were off to rent a golf cart and took off for the hills for a tour the place and its spectaculars views.

Afterward, we wandered over to the Casino where many were gathering for a screening of the silent film, “Wings” in the famed movie theatre. But the weather was just too lovely for a movie, so we opted for a jaunt through the museum to learn the history of the island and chewing gum magnet, William Wrigley, Jr., who played a major role in the charming development of Avalon and conservancy of the rest of the land.

Then it was time to get ready to ball! One tuxedo and one vintage dress with a touch of flapper, some pin curls, and we were off!

The Casino is one gorgeous place, with its 10,000 square foot circular dance floor. Dean Mora and his his Orchestra were playing hits from the 1920s and 30s with the help of some guest singers including swoon-worthy crooner, Johnny Holiday who we had the pleasure of chatting with out on the balcony. My he has some stories!

After the ball, we all went out foraging for food. While the Avalon Grill stayed open late, all they were serving were appetizers. So we ventured into the darkness and with the recommendation of the local liquor store clerk, we found Pete’s – an oversized hamburger stand in the center of town. We weren’t the only ones there either. Mr. Holiday was in line ahead of us and a line of formally dressed ballers began to form behind us. It was hilarious to see everyone in their gowns and tuxedos chowing down out of styrofoam boxes while seated in plastic lawn chairs!  We got a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches to go and scurried back up hill to our cute little hotel room.

The next morning we enjoyed coffee on the deck of our hotel with a perfect view of Avalon before setting sail back to the mainland. So long Catalina – you glamorous place of island charm. I’ll be back soon!

See more photos in the slideshow by clicking the photo below:

Island girl,
Kastle

Note: No, I do not smoke, but the long cigarette holder you see in the photos was a fun prop for the night!



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Trip Report: La Dolce Vita in Italy

Ciao from Italy!

You might say I’m an “Italianophile.” I fell in love with Italy on my first trip to Rome a few years ago, and again when I camped through Tuscany. So I was pretty sure I was destined for love again as we flew into Milan, grabbed a rental car and headed for the Riviera. There was a little rain on the way but by the time we hit the coast, the skies opened up and welcomed us to Santa Margherita where we checked into a cute little B&B, the Hotel Mediterraneo, and set out for the marina to walk along the crystal blue water and have some pasta. The next morning, feeling weary after little jet-lagged sleep, we decided to forgo our ambitious sightseeing plans in favor of lounging on our spacious deck with an amazing view of the Italian hillside spread out before our eyes. There is nothing like sipping cappuccino on a lounge chair, wrapped in a blanket, reading the Italian section of “Eat Pray Love” with a view of this amazing country to gaze out on between cat naps. La dolce vita indeed! We didn’t think it could get any better than that – until we hit our next spot!

Cinque Terre

We drove over to Cinque Terre only to be greeted with a cheerful eyeful of pastel, jewel-tone buildings stacked along the hillsides toward the water. We booked an apartment in Riomaggiore, one of the five villages that put the cinque in Cinque Terre. Our little balcony gave us a bird’s eye view of the neighborhood – mom & pop markets with fresh produce stands, bakeries filling the street with delizioso smells of sweet treats, and pizzerias stacked more types of pizza by the slice than I ever dreamed possible. We felt like instant residents as we took the opportunity to wash some clothes in the lavenderia and hang them on the clothesline outside our window. Riomaggiore was decidedly less touristy than the other towns – and we know this because we explored 4 out of the 5 – taking the gorgeously romantic Walk of Love, a scenic path along the water where people pen their expressions of affection on benches, walls, even plant leaves. I had a platter of scrumptious local seafood in Manarola then we took a walk up the vineyard path around the hills for even more breathtaking views of the village and the coastline. Our last day was rained out, putting a wrench in our sightseeing, but we were OK with staying in for a nap to get ready for the next place. However, we weren’t sure if it could possibly get better than here. We were wrong!

Lake Como

A drive through rainy Italy took us up to Lake Como where again, the skies cleared upon our arrival revealing the most stunning of all of our destinations thus far. We just about fainted at the view from our hilltop hotel Eremo Gaudio with the most perfect postcard vision of the lake, the mountains and the town of Veranna. We joked that our invite for tea at George Clooney’s magnificent Lake Como estate must have been lost in the Italian mail (our schedule is still open George!)

But I’m pretty sure George’s place had some competition here. We scrambled down the hill into town just in time for sunset and a Nutella pancake wrap as we watched the ducks quacking and frolicking on the water and ferry boats pulling into the dock. We were onboard one the next morning as the sun shined and the air was a crisp 65 degrees. We pulled into Bellagio, the most famous of the Italian lakeside towns and wondered around the gardens, along the water and the village, eating lunch and gelato. We couldn’t believe the beauty here, everywhere you turned made a perfect photo op. I let my hair blow in the wind aboard the ferry boats as I gazed out over the mountain-lined lake and just let go. I could get used to this! It’s so easy to fall in love with Italy over and over again.

Milan

The next day we drove to Milan, which was like an adrenaline shot by comparison to the lake – fast-moving, crowded streets, crazy traffic and a sidewalk runway with stylish Italiano fashionistas shopping like there’s no tomorrow. And you’ve just got to shop while you’re here. It’s designer capitol numero uno and fall fashions were in full swing. (See my previous blog report.) Total damage to my credit card: 2 sweater dresses, a faux fur hat, a pair of pin-striped knee-high socks, and I ogled over some black leather riding boots that I decided to wait on and get in the States because the Euros made it waaaay too expensive to get there.  Our day of sightseeing took us straight to the Duomo, a magnificent, ostentatious display of religious power-flexing that was gaudy and beautiful all at the same time. Made entirely of hand-carved marble, it took five hundred years to complete and all of our energy to make it up the several hundred steps to the top. We were rewarded with spectacular views of the city from dizzying heights.

We toured LaScala museum and watched a rehearsal in progress right on the stage of the gorgeous theatre. We walked through the Corso Venezia (fashion center of Milan) and looked at all the beautiful clothes by famous designers. I couldn’t stop staring at all the people we passed by. They all looked like they stepped right out of the fashion magazines. Boy that really sets the bar when you’re getting dressed to go out here! I especially enjoyed the edgy looks from the students hanging outside the fashion school Istituto di Moda Burgo. And I have to say I had my best pasta dinner of the trip at the Ristorante Romani a classic, elegant Milanese restaurant.

With that, we said goodbye to Italy and came back to reality, though I’m ready to plan my next trip there. Southern Italy, watch out!

See a slideshow of photos from my trip here:

 

Ciao!

Kastle

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