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Three Memorable Vacations

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Villa at Borgo Santo Pietro

Villa at Borgo Santo Pietro

Vacations are tricky beasts. You plan them with high hopes and the best intentions, but there are variable factors that affect how enjoyable an experience ends up being. Everything from where you stay and the weather, to how well you packed and the little unexpected moments--a secret hike that an insider tells you about, or a local seafood joint you discover by accident--can make a trip a lifetime highlight, or something you want to forget. Since I love learning about the best travel experiences others have had (so I can hopefully follow suit one day), I thought I'd reflect on my all-time favorite vacations, and what made them such wonderful memories.  

Justin Vineyard

Justin Vineyard

The destination: Paso Robles, California

Location: Justin Vineyard

The year: 2010

Duration: 2 nights

The reason for the trip: Valentine’s Day

What made it so special/memorable: Geoffrey and I had been working a lot, so he planned a weekend getaway in Paso Robles at my favorite winery, Justin Vineyards. Most of the trips we’d taken at that point were somewhere warm - the desert or by the beach, so I was excited to go someplace chilly in the winter. We drove there on a gloomy Friday evening and about a mile from the property, it started to pour torrentially. It didn’t let up for nearly the entire duration of our trip, but that’s what made it so special. We stayed in a tiny cottage on the property with a fireplace and read books, played board games and drank plenty of wine.

Vacation in a word: Cozy

Best meal:
The four-course tasting menu in the five table dining room, at the vineyard.

Go-to drink: Red wine

Best thing I packed: Hunter Boots

Best thing I brought back: Cases of wine

Scent associated with the trip: Firewood

Freshly boiled crawfish

Freshly boiled crawfish

The destination: New Orleans, Louisiana

Location: French Quarter

The year:

Duration: 3 nights

The reason for the trip: Mardi Gras / Visiting a friend who'd just moved there

What made it so special/memorable: New Orleans is a special place. The energy of the city, the people and the overall vibe has a surreal, slightly magical feel to it, so it’s hard to pinpoint one special moment, but there were several that made it memorable. While Mardi Gras is easily something I’ll never forget, I enjoyed some of the more simple moments even more, like vintage shopping on Magazine Street, marching in a spontaneous second line, drinking my first Sazerac, and enjoying a leisurely Sunday at a Bagel/Bingo brunch party. It’s one of the best trips we’ve ever taken and I can’t wait to revisit this city when Sloan’s a little older.

Vacation in a word: Decadent

Best meal: Eating freshly boiled crawfish in our hotel room after getting caught in a deluge

Go-to drink: The aforementioned Sazerac

Best thing I packed: Jeweled head piece

Best thing I brought back: Set of vintage geode prints

Scent associated with the trip: Peychaud Bitters

Balthazar at the entrance of Borgo Santo Pietro

Balthazar at the entrance of Borgo Santo Pietro

The destination: Tuscany, Italy

Location: Borgo Santo Pietro

The year: 2012

Duration: 3 nights

The reason for the trip: Our honeymoon

What made it so special/memorable: This was the second stop on our trip and it was the perfect transition from the bustling streets of Rome. This remote villa is about 40 minutes from Siena, nestled in the wine country. The location and buildings were stunning, but what I remember most was drinking regional wines and playing with the house Shar Pei, Balthazar. He’d stroll around the grounds, with a stick jutting out of his jowls like a cigar, chase birds and squirrels and at night, he’d curl up next to the lobby fireplace, snoring loudly.

Vacation in a word: Transformative

Best meal: White truffle gnocchi

Go-to drink: Negroni

Best thing I packed: An extra suitcase to bring back souvenirs/clothing

Best thing I brought home: Olive oil

Scent associated with the trip: Lavender

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