Thursday, June 22, 2017

TSA Screening Updates

Traveling this summer may be a little different as you go through security. You may be required to remove your Kindle, paperback book, food, and any other tech items larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bag. This new procedure is being tested at 10 airports, reports the TSA.
Why? Several reasons. Passengers are cramming more and more stuff into their carry-on bags and backpacks. This tight packing makes it harder for the agents to properly screen the bags. Therefore, more bags have to be hand screened. This all takes time to ensure proper screening.
The airports where this is being tested are Boise, Colorado Springs, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Boston, LA, Lubbock, San Juan, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.
You will need to remove those items and place them in a bin. Passengers with TSA pre-check may be exempt.
According to the TSA, this should shorten time in the security line as not as many bags will be hand inspected.

Monday, June 19, 2017

La Cave Des Climats

The Cave des Climats is located at 35 rue de Verneuil in Paris’ 7th Arrondissements.

With an abundant cellar of wines to choose from, tastings, and food to compliment, this is a spot to gather to taste some new and different wines, or to linger with friends as charcuterie becomes dinner.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Upper Lake...Eat, Drink, Relax

We all look for different things when we travel. Relaxation, unwinding, and some pampering? Cruising on a lake? 

Maybe tasting award-winning wines is on your list. Or, looking out the window at some olive trees while trying scrumptious oils made from the olives on those trees.

Maybe you don’t want to plan out too much…just get away and have a great time! If any of these seem like an ideal way to spend a week end or longer…head to Lake County in northern California.

First, think about where you want to stay. The Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake is definitely high on my list. Completely restored, its wide verandas and welcoming garden beckon you to take a deep breath, grab a glass of something refreshing, and relax. If that doesn’t do it, wait until you see your room. All 17 guest rooms have custom-designed furnishings and amenities to please. Some include fully restored period and antique bathroom plumbing fixtures, some have private patios with Japanese Ofuro soaking tubs, and some are spacious suites. We opted for a room with the soaking tub…and we were rejuvenated as we lounged in the tub. What a way to start or end your day!

If you’re into history, talk to the owners. Bernie and Lynne purchased the hotel, which was originally built in the 1870s. Not only had it sat vacant for over 40 years, but it survived at least one fire, different owners, and was in serious disrepair. It’s not that way now.

The charm of the Old West architecture combined with the comforts you’d find in many upscale hotels makes this hotel unique and a destination spot.  Want dinner or drinks? Head next door to the Blue Wing Saloon with its casual California fare, signature cocktails, craft beers, wine, and entertainment.

If you’re ready to explore the area, grab a map of the wineries and decide where to go first. Boatique Winery combines the owners’ two passions…high-quality wines and rare, antique boats.  Set at 2266 feet, amidst alpine and oak forests, and in the shadow of Mt. Konocti, you’ll gaze out over 47 acres of rolling vineyards. In this Red Hills Appellation, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Cab, Petite Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc thrive. Ahhh…great tastes.

Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill is another place you don’t want to miss. Family owned, they produce award-winning wines and olive oils. Listen to their story, taste the wines, learn about different olive oils, and soak up the sun on their property and you’ll never want to leave.

If spending a day on the lake is what you’re looking for, you can hire a guide or rent a boat. Our guide showed us around the lake, pointing out dozens of different birds as we neared the shore. Apparently, birders from all over the world come here at different times of the year just to see the birds. Since the lake is large in area, with plenty of shoreline and grassy areas to nest, it is on a flight path for many different types of birds.

The best part…you feel like you’ve entered a magical place and time. Put it on your list to visit. You’ll be glad you did. And, you’ll probably be making plans to return.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Cite du Vin

La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux, France, proudly marks its first birthday having welcomed 425,000 visitors from 150 countries.

The official press release gives information here:

As well as the permanent tour, the rich cultural programme offered throughout the year by the Fondation pour la culture et les civilisations du vin (Fondation CCV) which operates La Cité du Vin has also enjoyed great success, in particular the first temporary exhibition Bistro! From Baudelaire to Picasso from 17 March to 21 June, which welcomed 31,500 paying visitors up to the end of May. La Cité du Vin has therefore established itself in the local and national cultural landscape to become a place where Bordeaux comes to life. With foreigners making up 27% of tourist visitors, La Cité du Vin has also demonstrated that it enjoys an international reputation. In addition, a quarterly barometer has shown that visitors have been extremely satisfied.

Recently I was one of those 27% tourist visitors.

Stepping foot inside, my first impression is that this could be overwhelming. With over 3,000 square feet of information, exhibits, and short films…that’s a definite possibility.

Vineyards around the world are highlighted and explored. Wine history through the ages, the metamorphoses of wine, terrior and what it is, Bacchus and Venus, food and drink, and the city of Bordeaux are all a part of this museum.

Then, there was my favorite part…The 5 Senses Buffet. Hundreds of glass jars, each containing a different scent, filled an entire room. Each jar had a bulb-like device you could squeeze, which delivered that scent through a tube. Smell it and try to figure out what it was. Your audio device or a small screen near each jar, gave you hints, questions, and finally the answer. How did I do? Remarkedly well. There were a few that I knew, but couldn’t quite place. Then, there were ones where I had no idea…old books, aged linen, old flowers.

It proves everyone can enjoy wine…from the first smell to the taste. Fun!

We spent several hours there and could have spent more time. This is not some boring museum…even if you aren’t a wine connoisseur.

But, really…you are in Bordeaux, France!     

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Review...Travel Purse

For those of you who travel with a purse, what do you look for in the ideal purse?

Should it be roomy enough to carry guide books, a camera, or a small notebook? Or small enough for only the basics? Does RIFD protection (radio frequency identification) matter to you? Would you like it to be a cross-body bag?

How about anti-theft?

For me, I look for many of those features.

While it doesn’t need to carry my camera, I want it large enough to carry a small notebook, my wallet, phone, and other essentials. Even though my wallet is RFID protected, I think it’s still a good idea for my purse as well. Sure, I could add a piece of foil…but this way I don’t have to. And, the entire purse is protected.

At the same time, I don’t want to carry a large purse. I certainly don’t want one where everything falls to the bottom and I have to dig through it to find anything. I want organization when I travel.

I want to be able to wipe it off if something gets spilled on it, without it staining the fabric. Yet, I want it to look classy enough when I wander the streets of Paris by day and when I go out to eat in the evening. When I’m traveling…I take only one purse.

For me, it should have ‘feet’ or something on the bottom, so it doesn’t sit on the floor if I need to place it there. The shoulder strap should be comfortable, yet not easy for a would-be thief to cut it and grab it off my shoulder.
Recently, I found one that I thought had all of those features.

Arden Cove is a brand founded by two sisters born in San Francisco. They put their heads together to come up with a purse and other bags that are functional, durable, and stylish. Their anti-theft waterproof crossbody bag is the one I tried for a couple of recent trips.

This purse had almost all my requirements. I’ll use it on the next trip.

Check it out at

Monday, June 5, 2017

Gratuity Guide

Many travel books and websites offer gratuity guides. While they’re not all exactly the same, most don’t vary much.

These are recommendations some taken from a variety of sources.

Hotel Shuttle Driver: $1 to $2 per person or $5 per party

Valet: $1 to $5

Bellstaff or Porters: $1 to $5 per bag, especially if you have heavy bags

Concierge: Varies, depending how involved or how much you ask for

Housekeeping: $1 to $5 per day

Room Service: Check to see if it is already added. If not, add 15 to 20%

Waitstaff: Check to see if it is already added. If not, add 15 to 20%

What do you tip? Does it vary from trip to trip or do you try to keep it the same? Are there times when you don’t tip, based on poor service?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

How Much?

You're in Paris. The hotel service is spectacular. You want to leave a tip for your housekeeping, but you don't know just how much to leave.

Is there a guide? What's appropriate? When should you leave it? Where should you leave it?

I've read different guides and the amount varies. Emily Post suggests $2 to $5 per day and the American Hotel & Lodging Association suggests $1 to $5 per day. Based on those, it's up to you.

Here are some things to consider:

Be sure to leave a tip each day instead of one large amount the last day. Why? You probably have different housekeepers each day.

Leave extra if you’ve asked for special items or extra services
Put your tip on the desk or pillow, in an envelope if provided. If you just leave money on the desk, without a note or envelope, they may think you just forgot some money.

You could write a brief thank you note, especially if the housekeeper has done something special.

Check your purse or wallet in advance to make sure you have small bills with you. You won’t have to find someone at the front desk who can make change at the last minute.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Take Your Stuff...

Per the TSA...remember to take ALL your belongings. 

For its fiscal year 2016, the Transportation Security Administration reported that passengers left behind more than $867, 812.39 in coins and currency in the plastic bowls and bins at various U.S. airport checkpoints. That's about $102,000 more than the amount left behind in 2015, and the more than $484,000 left behind in 2008.
Over the years, the amount of change left behind by travelers at airports has been steadily climbing—jumping from about $489,000 in 2011 to almost $675,000 in 2014, and hitting $766,000 in 2015.

Last year, passengers at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport were the most forgetful (or generous, perhaps): Travelers there left behind $70,615 in unintentional 'tips' for TSA.
Also on the top ten list for fiscal year 2016: Los Angeles International Airport, where travelers left behind almost $45,000; and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, where more than $42,000 in cash and currency was abandoned.
What happens to all that money?
Back in 2005, Congress passed a law saying TSA gets to keep that unclaimed cash, and spend it on any sort of civil aviation security efforts it deems fit.
In at least two previous years' reports, TSA stated that the unclaimed money collected from airports would be used to support the expansion of the TSA Precheck program, which gives travelers expedited screening privileges. Precheck allows fliers to keep shoes and lights jacks on, and their laptops and quart-sized bag of liquids and gels inside their carry-ons.
When it filed its report on 2016's unclaimed cash haul, TSA said it had not yet determined how it would spend those funds.
At some airport checkpoints, passengers can also empty loose change from their pockets directly into donation bins for local charities before moving through the line.
During 2016, travelers passing through Denver International Airport donated $87,106.91 to Denver's Road Home, a non-profit that works with service providers for the region's homeless community. And last year passengers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International contributed more than $11,000 to help support the USO operations at the airport.
Travelers who want to be sure to walk away from airport security checkpoints with all their cash, coins and other small items, might consider following some of these tips offered by travel experts.
Use luggage or packs that have easily accessed exterior pockets, "and do all your stashing at home or office, or in the car before departing for the airport
"When you arrive at the airport door, you should have nothing in your hands or pockets but your ID and your phone and/or boarding pass," he added.
If you must empty cash and other small items into a bin, put them in a container that you place between your other pieces of carry-on luggage.
"That way there is no chance to miss it," said travel writer Ramsey Qubein of Daily Travel Tips." If you must remove your footwear, "put all your coins and other small items in a shoe," he added. "You won't forget them. Trust me."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Palace Hotel...The Place to Stay

You’ve decided to indulge in a romantic week-end getaway and you want to stay in a hotel that will fill all your expectations. The one that comes to mind for me is The Palace Hotel in San Francisco. It’s close in distance and yet so elegant, you’ll think you’re far away.

Perhaps you weren’t thinking it was important for you to have a telegraph on every floor, however. What? A telegraph? How about a private bath or rising rooms? In 1875 these modern technological advancements catered to the social elite, dignitaries who were looking for the best in hotels, travelers, business titans, honeymooners, and those who wanted a special place. In fact, at the time The Palace Hotel in San Francisco was the largest hotel in the world…and a true innovator of its time.

No wonder it quickly became ‘the place’ to stay.

Then came the earthquake of 1906 and in the fires that accompanied it, the Palace Hotel was destroyed. All the marble, crystal chandeliers, and opulence were reduced to ruble. Only three years later, the new Palace opened its doors, using what they found in that ruble and adding new spectacular acquisitions…grander than before the fires. Fast forward to 2015 when the latest renovations were complete. The old…the new…the newest, all blend together as the fresh design pairs with timeless elegance. 

So, what’s the Palace Hotel like now?

One area, the Garden Court, is a San Francisco monument and the crown jewel of the hotel. Sit down, have a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and look around. The massiveness of the Italian marble columns might first catch your eye. But, the stained glass ceiling will certainly cause you to sit and stare. The seven million dollar price tag hardly seems enough. Austrian crystal chandeliers positioned throughout, sparkle as the light comes through the stained glass. It’s no wonder the entire room, 110 feet long and 85 feet wide, has seen its share of engagements, celebrations, and parties for literally over a hundred years. Close your eyes and you can almost see a Prince, a former president, or a Silicon Valley techie entertaining their guests here.

Hungry? What better place to have lunch, or tea, or Sunday brunch? In this era of using organic and locally sourced ingredients, the chefs excel. You will find 80% of the food offered is local, sustainable, and farm fresh. History even manages to find its way into your lunch. Ever had Green Goddess dressing? In 1923 this dressing was first served at a Palace dinner honoring actor George Arliss. Did you know their famous crab salad has been on the menu since 1909? Same recipe…new crab!

When staying here, you’ll take one of those rising rooms, now known as elevators, to your floor. Check out the wide hallways; wider than in your average hotel. Notice the door knobs on the massive, dark doors. Both are elegant. Even though the doors have been retrofitted for a keyless entry, the knobs are from 1909. They feel substantial in your hand. Finally, pay attention to the doors…solid wood and heavy. Again, from 1909. Entering your room, you’ll notice the room seems spacious. The ceilings are 11 feet, offering a sense of grand size. 

No wonder The Palace Hotel was and continues to be the premier place to stay.
Want to see another treasure within the hotel? Head to the Pied Piper lounge for a drink and look at the masterpiece above the bar. This Pied Piper painting was commissioned from Maxfield Parish in 1909 for $6,000. It represents the tale of the Pied Piper…with a twist. Parish painted himself as the Pied Piper and some of the 27 expressive faces include those of his wife, his mistress, his sons, and more. What a guy!

Memories of a grand, historic era combined with technology of today…the Palace Hotel offers comfort and style to globe-trotting travelers, families with children, cutting edge business people, and those looking for a magical place to stay.
Your room is ready…

If you go: The Palace Hotel is located at 2 New Montgomery Street in San Francisco. Phone number is 415-512-1111 and their website is

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Valpolicella and Lugana Tasting

Valpolicella and Lugana Exclusive Tasting

Learning about wines is always a fun and enlightening time. It doesn’t matter if I thought I knew about a type of wine or a specific grape. There’s always more to learn.

What better way to learn about the Valpolicella and the Lugana wine regions than to spend an afternoon tasting wines from 14 different wineries? If you thought they’d all taste the same…you would be wrong. If you thought there would be similarities…you would be correct.

My palette was in heaven.

First…Valpolicella. The Valpolicella wines are produced within a specific area located in Veneto, a northern region of Italy. This region is situated north of Verona, comprehends 11 valleys stretching north to south, includes two geographical specifications, “Classico” and “Valpanetena”, and is only about 10 km from Lake Garda, which mitigates the temperature.

Next…Lugana. Lugana is the name of land nestled within the Lake Garda region. This region encompasses two provinces, Brescia and Verona, and two regions, Lombardy and Veneto. Wines from here are unique in that they benefit from the microclimate of the lake, the local clay soil, and a particular variety of grapes named “turbiana.” Full bodied, age worthy, and a hint of floral and citrus bouquet make this white wine refined and tasty.

Stay tuned for my favorites and why I like them…

Monday, May 15, 2017

What to do First?

You’ve planned your trip and you’ve finally made it. What should you do first? Here are a few things you might want to take care of…

1. Especially if this is a new destination…think about leaving
Yes…leaving. The best time to figure out the easiest way to the airport or out of town is on your way in. Scope out the airport while waiting for your luggage. Pay attention to where the rental car return is. Keep track of how long it takes the cab to get to your hotel. All good things to know when your trip is over.

2. Eat
I know you’re hungry. But, don’t just grab the first thing you see. Look at your favorite app in advance and find a place to eat near the airport or your hotel. If you’ve been traveling for a while, either by car or air, eating a decent meal makes so much sense.

3. Reset your clock or watch
If you changed time zones while traveling, set your devices to the new time zone…if they haven’t already done it. It’s important to get on a schedule for the new time zone.

4. Go out and get some air
You may have been cooped up in a plane or car for a few hours. Take a few minutes to breathe in some air. A little exercise helps, too.

5. Take some pictures
Things are fresh in your mind when you first arrive. Take some photos of what you’re seeing. The cool door with the lion head door knocker might grab your attention the first day, but become familiar after a few days. Capture the images while they’re fresh.

6. Charge your electronics
As soon as you get to your hotel, plug in your electronics. Make sure you have an adapter if you’re traveling internationally.

7. Notify of your arrival
If you are traveling alone, be sure to let someone know you’ve arrived. You can also give the hotel address and phone number. If you have kids back home, send them a quick text.

There are so many other things to do…what makes it easier for you? 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Italy...Here I Come

If this looks like something you'd love to be doing right now...think about booking a trip to Italy. 

Looking for a fantastic cooking experience in Tuscany? Recently, I partnered with the owners of Watermill at Posara, Tuscany. This unique setting is the ideal place for their relaxing, inspiring, fun-filled painting holidays and creative writing courses.
They also offer unique self-catering holiday accommodation in three self-contained apartments. The mill has been beautifully restored and furnished and all the bright, well decorated bedrooms enjoy lovely views over the river, the gardens or the mountains.

Check out their beautiful and historic watermill beside the River Rosaro in the small village of Posara. Peaceful and secluded, yet part of the village, the mill is just a mile or so from the walled medieval town of Fivizzano with its cafés, restaurants and shops. This is the heart of Lunigiana, in the North-west of Tuscany.
If you’re interested, bookings should be made using the Watermill’s Booking Enquiry Form at If you book via this form, you can use my name as “Introduced by Wendy”. You might just get some special treatment…or a glass of wine!
I’m ready to go…how about you?
Want to learn more? Check out their blog.

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Few Simple Tips For Your Next Big Trip

A little research goes a long ways...especially if you're traveling to a new place.

Some ideas to think about for your next trip.

Ask for senior discounts or frequent user plans for fares, hotels, and tickets.

Know what to expect on your trip by researching airport terminal maps, customs forms, immigration forms, and travel regulations in the country of your destination.

Print out and share your travel documents. Make copies of your boarding pass, driver's license, emergency contacts, medical information, passport ID page, travel insurance documents, and visas. Keep one copy with you, send one to the people you are visiting, and give one to your traveling partner.

Leave the bling at home. Wearing expensive jewelry can make you an easy target.

Avoid airport hassles by arriving at the airport, terminal, and gate early.

Keep medications handy by placing them in your carry-on bag.

Drink plenty of water, especially on long flights.

Bring something healthy, like energy bars, fruit, or nuts.

Stand up and stretch as often as possible to avoid deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, which can cause death.

If spicy foods don’t agree with you, avoid them. If traveling in a country where you don’t drink the water, then don’t drink anything with ice in it or fruits or vegetables where you cannot remove the skin.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

San Carlos Borromeo Del Rio Carmelo

Certainly one defining piece of California’s history is the missions. Mention California missions and many people immediately bring to mind an image of a large, stone church, a bell tower, and a peaceful setting. Think of famous ones like San Juan Capistrano or Santa Barbara. Yet, while many of the 21 missions throughout California did look somewhat similar at some time in history, individually they offer their special window to California’s past. All missions are California Historical Landmarks; many have also been designated as National Historic Landmarks.

Few states, or regions within states, have such a visual, physical timeline of history as the California missions. That all started when the Spanish government  extended its empire in the New World, settling and protecting the whole territory north of Mexico City…the northern frontier. Missions were the quickest and most effective way to colonize and control this huge area, now called Alta California. After all, missions, to some extent, had been used successfully in Texas and Arizona.

Missions and padres were the ideal plan in the church’s mind, as well. What better way to convert the natives to Christianity? However, the padres knew that in order to continue to receive any support from Spain, they had to be productive. That meant to produce more food, cured cattle hides, tallow, wine, fabrics, and other desirable goods. And, for that the padres needed the natives to tend the fields, herd the cattle, construct buildings, and start a new town surrounding the mission.

Let’s start exploring San Carlos Borromeo Del Rio Carmelo, or the Carmel Mission, as it is one designated as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.

Father Junipero Serra and Don gasper DePortola led the first Spanish expedition to the area we now know as Carmel and Monterey. Second, of the missions Father Serra was involved with, this one started in 1770 when Father Serra hung a bell from an old oak tree in what is now the site of the Royal Presidio Chapel in Monterey. A year later, Father Serra moved the site of the mission closer to the Monterey Bay…better water, better land for growing crops, and less tension between the soldiers from the Presidio and the American Indians he was trying to convert.

Carmel Mission, named for an Italian Cardinal from the 16th century, Saint Charles Borremeo, now became Father Serra’s headquarters for expanding the California missions. Father Serra would go on to be directly involved in building seven other missions.

The Carmel Mission, like the rest, was originally built of wood and mud, then adobe. These mission buildings weren’t meant to last forever…only as long as the roof could keep the inside safe. In 1793 Father Serra’s successor supervised the construction of a more permanent structure, which also met with some vandalism and decay. Restoration began in 1884, with major work started in 1933. Most of that ongoing work is what we can visit today. Further work continued from 1936 to the 1950s as more buildings were restored, culminating in the designation of the mission as a Basilica, the highest honorary rank for a church. 

Check out the thickness of the walls as you walk through the courtyard. Made of native yellow sandstone blocks from the nearby Santa Lucia Mountains and mortar from ground up abalone shells from the beaches, the church is 150 feet long, 29 feet wide, and 33 feet high. Manuel Ruiz, a master mason from Mexico City, incorporated Moorish elements in his design…complete with a Moorish window, or star window, over the entrance.

When you enter the church…look closely. The walls seem to taper inward to an arched ceiling. Actually, they start at five feet thick at the base and become wider as they go up, thus curving the walls inward into a parabolic arch. Just one more unique feature of Mission Carmel. Look up. The ceiling looks like stone when it reality the ceiling is restored with a lime plaster made from burnt seashells and painted to look like stone.

Both bell towers have held a variety of bells over the years, ranging from four to 11. The larger tower again has the Moorish influence in its dome. Why did the missions have bells? With nobody wearing watches…bells were used to call everyone to church service, to regulate daily life in the community, and to announce meals.

When you take the time to visit this piece of California history, walk through the reconstructed Carmel Mission, wander around the irregularly shaped quadrangle courtyard, quietly enter and marvel at the design of the sanctuary, and pay a visit to the cemetery where many graves use abalone shells as markers.

Visiting today you see buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries as well as more recent construction; all built in the California mission style. Due to foresight on the part of Father Villarasa in 1851, he removed statues, paintings, and other artifacts for safekeeping when the roof was in stages of collapse. For that reason, today many of the church’s interior furnishings are original. Be sure to check out Father Serra’s 400-year-old Bible.

If you go: The Carmel Mission is located at 3080 Rio Road, Carmel, CA. Admission to the museum and grounds is $6.50 for adults. Check the website for more information on hours and admission, You should know there is a private school, grades Kindergarten through eighth, in use on the grounds and you may not be able to visit the church if it is in use by the students. Check before you go.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Stay Healthy While Traveling

No one wants to get sick while traveling. Check out these precautions, things to pack, and enjoy your trip.

First-Aid Kit
A small first-aid kit stocked with bandages, antiseptic wipes and other medical necessities is always a wise thing to have on hand. If you're flying with a first-aid kit in your carry-on, remember to double-check it for any items that might not make it through airport security. Small tubes of antibiotic cream, for instance, should go into your quart-size plastic bag of liquids and gels, while sharp items such as lancets or large scissors could be confiscated. Small scissors (with blades shorter than four inches) are fine.

Vitamin and Prescription Drugs
If you take vitamins or prescription drugs, it’s a good idea to have a way to keep them organized. If you need a certain one daily, you might want to get a container to organize them. It’s a good idea to keep the prescription bottle with you. It’s also a good idea to have an extra copy of your prescription in your wallet.

Sunburn not only causes pain and unsightly lobster skin but can also contribute to heat exhaustion. Look for travel size containers.
If you're planning on snorkeling, remember to choose a reef-safe sunblock. Chemicals found in most sunscreen brands contribute to coral damage.

Nasal Mist
Low humidity in airplane cabins can dry out the mucus membranes in your nose, which are essential in preventing illness. Keeping these delicate tissues hydrated with a saline nasal spray during long flights could help you fend off germs from the guy coughing and sneezing behind you.

Antibacterial Hand Gel and Wipes
You’ve probably read about some study reporting how many germs are all over your airplane tray table, your remote, the seatback, and more. It’s true. Have some antibacterial wipes in your bag for these spots.

Insect Repellent
If you traveling to an area affected by mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects, remember your insect repellent.

Compression Socks

Travelers on long flights are at greater risk of deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, a potentially dangerous condition in which a blood clot forms within a vein, usually in the leg. If such a clot spreads to the lungs, it could have life-threatening consequences. Wearing compression socks helps keep blood circulating to and from the legs, and could help prevent DVT. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

I Need a New Bag

Your travel bag needs to be replaced. Where do you start when looking at a new piece of luggage?
Start by weighing it empty. Many bags are marked ‘lightweight’, but what does that mean? If the weight is marked on the tag, weigh it anyway. If you’re looking for a carry-on bag, try to keep it to less than 10 pounds.
Speaking of carry-on bags…did you know each airline controls the size requirements of your carry on? The TSA does not. So, your bag may make it through security and then the gate agent might ask you to gate check it due to its size.
Not all overhead bins are the same size. When reading the tags on carry-on luggage, you’ll note they say ‘will fit in most overhead compartments.’ That’s why you need to think about dimensions of your new carry-on bag. With a range from 45 linear inches to 55 linear inches, there’s quite a difference among airlines. Delta, United, and American seem to be the smallest, while Virgin and Southwest are the most generous.
Dimensions include wheels. When measuring a new bag, be sure to include the wheels. Most likely the tag will only have the bag dimensions.
Wheels…do you want two or four? Up to you, but I like four on my carry-on. I can turn the bag sideways in the aisle and it rolls perfectly, without hitting anyone as I go by.

Pockets…good or unnecessary? Some bags have so many outside pockets, it seems like a waste to me. You might think differently. That’s why you need to decide if you want them or not before you buy. Pockets on the inside are a much better idea for me. Again, what do you like?
Price…definitely something to think about. Is cheaper better? Not necessarily. Is more expensive always better? Not necessarily. What you need to do, is check the bag closely. Are the seams well-constructed? Are the handles easy to grip for your size of hand? Do the wheels appear sturdy, or do they wobble and feel flimsy in your hands? Doe the telescoping handle go up and down easily? If something feels off about it, it might not be your best choice.
Material…soft sided versus hard. Do you need the bag to be waterproof? Is this bag going to get a lot of hard use? Do you have a preference?
Color…ahh, black versus non-black. Look at the baggage carousel. Black is definitely the predominant color. Want yours to stand out? Buy a different color. What if the bag you want only comes in black and hot pink…and hot pink will not work for you? Buy the black one and add some colored tape to the handle. You don’t need to put a bunch of ribbons, yarn, or silly things…unless that’s what you like. You can just add some simple colored tape found in any hardware store. It makes your bag easier to spot in the sea of black bags.
Brand…does it matter? Some companies have excellent warranties. If that is something you look for, you should check out bags made by those companies. Be sure to check what that warranty covers and understand the difference between full warranty, lifetime guarantee, and limited lifetime warranty.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

More About Cooking in Tuscany...I'm Interested...How About You?

L’Arte di Mangiar Bene
A unique week-long cookery course in rural Tuscany 
learning the art of eating well from the Italians

Saturday 19 August to Saturday 26 August 2017

L’arte di mangiar bene, the art of eating well, lies at the heart of the Italian lifestyle — and that’s just what you’ll enjoy during this cookery week. You’ll learn the secrets of healthy eating from The Watermill team, among them an Italian grandmother, an organic farmer and our gardener’s wife! You’ll choose freshest local ingredients (many from our own gardens) and prepare them deliciously. We’ll visit markets, vegetable gardens, olive groves and vineyards.

The Italians are the healthiest people in Europe and this is due not just the quality of the food, but to la bella vita italiana, the relaxed lifestyle which means taking time to talk to friends and to enjoy their company, not least in convivial meals around the dining table. You’ll be savouring all that, too.

You’ll stay in stylish bedrooms in elegant buildings around the sunlit courtyard. The mill’s gardens, secluded millstream paths and riverside walks are all yours to enjoy.  This is the art of eating – and living – well!

Our unique cookery course

On this cookery course with a difference, you’ll gain hands-on experience of cooking mouth-watering, healthy Italian meals with the freshest ingredients. The emphasis will be on culinary techniques that will help propel the healthy Italian lifestyle into your own home.

Our team is led by Lois Breckon, who has masterminded the Watermill menus for many years, and her friend and colleague Ingrid Fabbian, an expert on nutrition, as well on the preparation of home-made pasta and bread. Our Italian experts include our cook, grandmother Mirella Musetti, professional chef Angelina Benedetti, organic farmer Federica La Sala and our gardener’s wife Marida Tognini. We will share their decades of culinary and horticultural experience, based on knowledge passed through the generations of Italians.

Your hands-on cooking sessions and our daily demonstrations will cover many aspects of the Italian and Tuscan cucina, from appetisers (antipasti) to after-dinner biscuits (biscottini) and much else in between; from pane to pasta, through main courses, to homemade puddings and ice cream.

There will also be trips out to markets and food producers, to an ice-cream parlour and a hill-top gourmet restaurant, and a panigacci evening (rounds of unleavened bread brought hot to your table and served with local hams and cheeses.) So, as well as learning l’arte di mangiar bene you’ll also sample the vita bella italiana.

Everything is included in the cost of your cooking at the watermill:  all tuition, accommodation (including all linen and towels), pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport and an excursion by train to Lucca or the Cinque Terre). You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

Please go to to learn more.