All posts filed under: Travel

Bogotá, la bonita

We spent Easter in Bogotá, the capital and largest city of Colombia. With a population of 11 million, the metropolis spans over 600 square miles and is the third highest capital in South America (at 6,880 ft above sea level). Despite having certain architectural resemblances with Panama City (mostly the colonial buildings in La Candelaria being similar to those found in our Casco Antiguo), these two capitals of neighboring countries are worlds apart – economically, geographically and culturally speaking. Now, can we skip all the nonsense and get to what’s really important? The food! Yes, the rumors are true – Bogota’s restaurant scene, from the traditional cuisine to the gourmet international presence, did not disappoint. In fact, it was probably the highlight of our trip, with us taking turns each day in choosing restaurants (trust me, it was harder than you’d think – so many options!). A nature lover, I was positively overwhelmed by the amount of green spaces in Bogotá. Of course, even from the plane, the surrounding Eastern range of the Andes Mountains …

8 a.m in the Caribbean

Isla Grande – which translates to “Big Island” – is, ironically, a tiny and charming island off Panama’s Caribbean coast.  The island welcomes you with it’s warm and crystal clear waters, as well as hundreds of seductive palm trees, lush vegetation, and unique animal species. Isla Grande is uncommercialized. Do not expect boutiques, big stores, or fancy restaurants. Parts of the town are dirty and unkempt. Zero WiFi. There are only two hotels in the island, although some home owners do rent theirs on sites like AirBnB. From Panama City, it’s a smooth two hour drive in the newly built highway to La Guaira, located in the Colón province. Before arriving at La Guaira you will see the colonial fortifications of Portobelo, including the famous canyons; this historic city was an important port for the Spaniards between the 16th and 18th century. It was named “beautiful port” by Christopher Columbus, and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. For our mother and daughter getaway, we decided to stop for lunch at a restaurant in Portobelo called El …

Bay City

I had been dreaming of visiting San Francisco for years; everything from its rich history to its parks, landmarks and especially the nearby wine country had made me enthusiastic about a possible trip. Panama played an important role in the California Gold Rush, the Panama Railroad being one of the preferred routes for those traveling into California, as opposed to the hazardous journey across the continental United States. (Now we have the Panama Canal). In 2015 I watched The Age of Adaline, a beautiful movie starring Blake Lively, and the images of Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the spectacular scenery of Marin County portrayed in the film induced an even more overwhelming desire in me to visit this city in Northern California. It’s hard to explain but deep inside I knew I would love it there, and coincidentally, my mom called me in late 2015 wanting to plan a family trip over New Years. When she suggested San Francisco, I said that’s the one. There are a few direct flights from Panama City to SFO; …

Pretty Streets: Georgetown, DC

It will soon be a year from my last visit to Washington DC. Spring in that city is truly magical, and the thought of the possibility of moving there this Fall is exciting. The colorful houses on Georgetown, all of the free museums, the vast presence of embassies and NGOs, the diversity of people, the political awareness and intellectual conversations, the variety of restaurants… there are simply enough reasons to help get me up each morning in the District… and I have not even mentioned the cupcakes. Here’s a collection of photos from my last trip to D.C. I was just there for three and a half days, and though it seems quite short looking back, I really did squeeze in as much as I could. I had wanted to go to The Holocaust Memorial Museum for years now, so that of course was my first stop. Another highlight was the food, some of the best restaurants I’ve been in the whole world are in D.C.: José Andrés’ Mediterranean Zaytinya; Fiola Mare, Italian seafood with …

Pamplona: City of Bulls and Fortifications

Pamplona is the capital of Navarre, a province in northern Spain just 82 km from San Sebastian, and the city where Sanfermines is held each year. The eight day festival celebrates some of Spain’s most popular traditions, most notably el encierro, or the running of the bulls. More than a million people visit Pamplona during Sanfermines making it the biggest festival in Spain.

La Ville De Lumiere – Paris, Part 2

MUSÉE DU LOUVRE The Louvre Palace was built around 1190 as a fortress by King Philippe Auguste’s engineers to protect Paris from invaders. The Louvre remained a fortress until the reign of François I, when the King wanted to regain control of the capital and decided to make the Louvre his main residence. The Louvre underwent extensive renovations during the reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XI; however, the later moved to Versailles and the Louvre was abandoned for nearly a century. By the late 1800s, the Louvre had become a site dedicated to arts and sciences, and during the French Revolution, officially opened as a museum to the public. World-famously known for its glass pyramid, this was the latest addition designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei in 1989. My day began early – I would be visiting the Louvre by myself (as many people recommended). I bought tickets online the night before, which made my waiting time a quarter of everyone else’s. Map and camera in hand, I was ready for my adventure through …

La Ville De Lumiere – Paris, Part 1

I had dreamed of visiting Paris since I was a little girl. Movies, TV shows, novels, and even non-fiction textbooks read in high school had filled my mind with images of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris is a long (and expensive) way from Panama City; it took me exactly twenty-two years to find myself strolling through the romantic streets of the city of lights, and I felt completely enamored with the culture, architecture, and gastronomy of this place. One of my best friends studies in Paris, and I stayed six fantastic-yet-short days with her. Helena lives in the most charming apartment in the 6th arrondisement. Down her street, Rue Mazarine, is the world famous École des Beaux-Arts de Paris (National School of Fine Arts). A quick twelve-minute walk across the Seine, and you’re at the Louvre. From her living room window, you can see the tip of the Eiffel. I WAS IN HEAVEN. There is truly just something about Paris. From Helena’s window, the chimney pots that adorn the …

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa is a 13th century inspired Italian castle located in Calistoga, California. It was an awfully cold morning when my family and I pulled up at the magnificent 30 acre vineyard, after a twenty minute drive from our hotel in downtown Napa. Once inside, we signed up for the guided tour and premium wine tasting which was lead by a nice, young man – Tomaso, who spoke enthusiastically for more than two hours with his thick Italian accent. Tomaso began by giving us some historical facts of Castello di Amorosa, most specifically, of its owner Dario Sattui. Sattui grew up in San Francisco, and is the grandson of wine pioneer Vittorio Sattui. Dario was fascinated by the wine making process and purchased over a hundred acres of land in Calistoga over 25 years ago. He had a vision of creating a beautiful Italian-inspired winery. Today, Castello di Amorosa is an architect’s dream and can even be booked for weddings and other events. It’s hard for me to imagine a more dreamlike wedding location! …