Monday, May 29, 2017

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 caf├ęs, 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.