Wine Tasting at Bacovino Winery, Tukwila (Washington)

Washington State is the second largest wine-producing state in the United States. With over 1,000 wineries and over 80 varieties of wine from Washington State AVAs, wine production has become a multi-billion dollar business in the state. Wine is big business in Washington State. Since we finished building our wine cellar during the stay-at-home pandemic time, we’ve been visiting local wineries to perfect our tasting skills (there is some science and art to the process), get to know local wineries that we’ve overlooked, and make some purchases for our cellar. You’ll be seeing more winery and wine reviews coming up, both wineries in Washington State as well as those we’ve discovered in our travels. Pour a glass of your favorite, and learn more about Bacovino Winery in Tukwila, Washington. Why We Chose to Visit Bacovino Sometimes we have great reasons […]

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REVIEW: Astra Hotel, Seattle

The recently opened Astra Hotel Seattle is part of the Marriot Group’s Tribute Collection. Centrally located in the South Lake Union neighborhood, the new hotel is conveniently near Seattle’s major attractions – the Space Needle, Seattle Center campus, Lake Union, and the Amazon Spheres. This technologically progressive Seattle hotel boasts an array of smart features and functions, fitting in perfectly with the tech hub in which it is located. With state-of-the-art amenities and a convenient location with comfortable rooms, the Astra Hotel has set a high bar for a downtown stay. Who Stays at the Astra Hotel in Seattle? The eclectic clientele ranges from business travelers and young professionals to families. Meeting and event space is plentiful, attracting the tech-set who will find the range of tech-enabled meeting spaces attractive. The abstract art is enticing and the retina displays are […]

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Scenic River Cruise Review: Dutch Sites & Belgian Delights

The Rhine is one of the largest rivers in Europe, connecting six countries from its source in Switzerland to the North Sea. It was the main trading hub for many of the towns and cities that connected to it, creating thriving, wealthy economies along the river. As a result, communities along the Rhine are often an example of stunning architecture and historical landmarks. A river cruise on the Rhine is a relaxing way to explore historical sites, taking in the sights in a slow-paced relaxing way. That was why we chose the Dutch Sites and Belgian Delights itinerary on Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours. Our particular sailing had an extra day at Floriade, the once-every-decade eco-horticulture expo. That’s not on the schedule for future sailings. The itinerary is now called Windmills, Tulips, and Belgian Delights, but still shows off some […]

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Guide to Jordanian Wine

You may be thinking to yourself, surely there’s some confusion here – Jordanian wine? That can’t be true! Well, this is one hundred percent true – there are, in fact, wineries in Jordan. And they are actively producing wine today. Jordan is famously known for Petra, the ancient archaeological site located in the southwestern region of the country. Near Petra, more than 80 ancient wine presses were found believed to date to Nabatean times. I visited Jordan as part of a paid partnership project with Globus Journeys. Saying yes to the Jordan Escape tour was easy-peasy. I had previously toured with Globus on their California Dream’: Northern California by Design tour and was impressed. I loved their attention to detail, the quality of their itineraries and guides, and the enjoyable environment they created among group members. This tour maintained the high quality I have come […]

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Your Guide to Pecorino Cheese: Tuscany’s Best Kept Culinary Secret

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that Italy is a food-lovers dream. Italian food is often associated with al fresco dining, sitting on a balcony overlooking the rolling hills of Tuscany, and digging into a delightful pasta dish accompanied by a glass of wine. We did plenty of that during our recent two-week stay in Tuscany, where conversation with friends is as much a part of Italian cuisine as the food and wine. One of the tasty treats that we enjoyed during our time in Tuscany was pecorino cheese. We were fortunate to be staying just about half a mile from a local pecorino cheese factory, where it was easy to pick up some delicious aged pecorinos for a fraction of what they’d cost here at home. Plus we could take a look at those hard-working […]

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US Travel Association Daily Getaways

My travel ethos is value luxury, which I define as luxury for real people rather than celebrity luxury. I don’t have houses all over the world, private jets, nor people who take care of all of life’s details. I do it all myself. Still, I love luxuries when I travel and my choices reflect what’s important to me that fit my budget. And while I receive many lovely travel invitations as a travel writer, travel still is a healthy line item in our household budget. I’m always on the lookout for great deals, special promotions, and loyalty programs that help me get maximum value for my travel spend. The annual U.S. Travel Association’s Daily Getaways promotion, which launches on July 18 and runs for two weeks, features a variety of special offers that fit my definition of value luxury.  The […]

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Best Aperol Spritz: A Complete Guide to the Classic Italian Cocktail (with Recipe)

The history of the renowned Aperol spritz cocktail can be traced back to the mid-1950s, although the hero ingredient was developed some thirty years prior. In this article, you will learn about the history of this refreshing delight, the role it plays in Italian culture, and its ever-increasing popularity around the world. I’ve also got a classic Aperol spritz recipe so you can make it at home, along with a few specialty variations that can be used to change up the classic cocktail and as well as options to make other spritz cocktails. If you’ve never experimented with making Aperol spritz or other forms of spritz cocktails, you will be more than equipped to do so after navigating through this article.  History of Aperol In 1919, two Italian brothers, Luigi and Silvio Barbieri, were on a quest to create a […]

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Sustainable Alaska Seafood on Holland America Alaska Cruises

We love cruising and believe that there’s a cruise for everyone. While we have our personal preferences, we also make different choices based on what we’re looking for. We also feel we have an obligation to broaden perspectives beyond our favorites in order to provide you with sufficient information to make the best choice. We want you to discover a cruise line and itinerary that makes you love it as much as we do, so we make our recommendations very carefully. Readers who ask me about cruising to Alaska always get this recommendation – a Holland America Alaska cruise. They’ve earned their chops – they’ve been sailing to Alaska and the Yukon for nearly 75 years. A recent initiative between Holland America, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, and Culinary Council member (and Seattle chef) Ethan Stowell, puts sustainably sourced Alaska […]

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10 Essentials for Summer Travel

No doubt about it – we are traveling in a post-pandemic world differently than we did before. Some of the changes are small. We’ve needed to replace items, update a few things, and plan for multiple contingencies because things just aren’t going according to plan. The first trip of this year, I did such a poor job of packing, that I had stop by a Target store to buy all sorts of things I missed. It’s gotten better. We’ve made the conscious choice (and budget decision) to fly business class on long-haul international flights. While it’s certainly more comfortable, and I love a comfortable pod and lie-flat seat, there are other practical reasons for the decision. If something is going to go wrong, business class passengers have a priority for checked bags, rebooking in the event of a cancellation or […]

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101 Movies Set in Italy You’ll Love (or Hate)

Even if you can’t travel to Italy right now, you can get your Italian culture fix with these 101 movies set in Italy. This list represents films set in Italy, not necessarily filmed in Italy – we all know that set designers can make a studio backlot look like the meandering streets of Venice or a Tuscany hill town. While most of these movies are in English, no Italy movie list can ignore the many fine sub-titled Italian movies, so I’ve included some of those. I’ve tried to include the memorable, historical, and romantic movies set in Italy, while acknowledging there are a few that are, perhaps, better forgotten. And if you’re planning a first trip to Italy, this is a great list of movies to watch before you go. Any list is subjective. If your favorite movie set in […]

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