Archive for December, 2013
The Dorchester is in a class of its own. One of the best hotels in all of Europe, this five-star hotel in the heart of London’s Mayfair district overlooks Hyde Park, and is the perfect destination for an extra special occasion, or just an ultra luxury retreat. Read on to find out why The Dorchester has earned our vote as 2013’s #1 hotel in the world.
Attending a performance of the Nutcracker is one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit. The San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker is extra special since this is one of the best dance troupes in the country and the show takes place at the War Memorial Opera House, a gorgeous beaux-arts historical theater featuring plenty of gold embellishments and old-world charm. The American premier of Nutcracker first took place here on Christmas Eve in 1944, and has continued to be a San Francisco holiday tradition ever since.
As if Mana Island wasn’t beautiful enough, we island hopped to neighboring Castaway Island next, just a 20-minute easy journey. Known in Fijian as Qalito, this island is said to be sacred, and is one of the only ones owned by a local chief.
From the cruise ship, we boarded a smaller boat with the smiling locals. Castaway Island sparkled in the emerald sea, with just a tiny mound of lush greenery sloping into a cluster of thatched roofs ringed by powdery sand. The sand jutted out into the sea in a white halo, framed by rings of bright turquoise punctuated by formations of dark green from the reef below, before dissipating into a deep blue that stretched out in all directions endlessly. It was the most beautiful setting I’d seen in Fiji, and the sight of it left me awestruck.
After spending time on the northern island of Savu Savu and on Fiji’s largest island Viti Levu, it was time to head out to some of Fiji’s purest islands for some quiet beach time, underwater exploration, and surreal turquoise waters. Saving the best for last, we headed out to the Mamanuca island chain, just off the western coast of Viti Levu. Island hopping to the Mamanucas is easy and if you keep traveling north, you’ll hit the adjacent Yasawa Island chain, which is even more isolated and rugged.
Continuing on from the Eastern Coral Coast and the interior of Viti Levu, we drove westward along the southern coast, which is dotted with resorts, villages, and local temples. This time our destination was Outrigger on the Lagoon, and as we pulled into the resort driveway, the man at the gate shouted out what must have been the biggest “BUUULLLAAAA!” in Fiji—arms extended, his voice resonating in our wake. Inside, the lobby was filled with song—musicians strumming their guitars next to a breathtaking view of the ocean spread out below, making me feel like I was perched high up in a treehouse of sorts. Best of all, we were welcomed by our very own butler who brought canapés and champagne to the room.
When in Fiji, one of the most unique Fijian experiences you can have is to visit a local village, where if you’re lucky you can attend a traditional Kava Ceremony where you meet the village chief and drink kava (Fiji’s unofficial national drink) together. So what is kava? It’s a plant native to the Pacific that is consumed throughout Polynesia. The roots are used to produce a brown watery drink similar to tea that packs a punch, numbs your tongue, and has both sedative and anesthetic properties.
After spending some time in Nadi and Savu Savu, we continued to explore Fiji. Taking off in another tiny plane, we island hopped first to Taveuni, then over to Suva. The Savu Savu airport was manned by one single worker, who waved away my passport in complete disinterest when I took it out to show him instinctually. In fact, he wasn’t concerned with identification at all—my first name was good enough for him. He only wanted to know my weight—since the plane was so small that the weight of everything on board mattered—and I had to step right up on the scale. There was no x-ray scanner, no metal detector, and no security or bag checks for the passengers. What an entirely different world!
Your life in cheese? What does your favorite cheese say about you? Mine is Gorgonzola, which according to an article in the Huffington Post indicates the following about my personality:
Sometimes you think everyone at the party is talking too quietly and you wish they’d speak up to match your volume. You love karaoke, swing dancing and shouting, “WOO HOO” when you’re having fun.
I have to agree, this seems quite spot on. (I actually do frequently shout “Woo Hoo!”)
Photo editor Tyson Wintibaugh’s is definitely Feta, which indicates:
You are an unexpected daredevil. People probably say, “I didn’t think you had it in you” to you a lot. But you knew you did. You knew it the whole time.
Again, spot on.
I recently had the chance to catch Cirque du Soleil’s latest touring show, “Amaluna” under the blue and gold striped big top next to San Francisco’s AT&T Park. Unlike the big Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil productions held in huge, glossy theaters, this traveling show embodied the casual atmosphere of a circus while providing a magical theatrical gathering. The scent of freshly-popped popcorn wafted through the air, and the theater was intimate, with stadium seating radiating outwards from a central stage. Best of all, due to the small scale, there really wasn’t a bad seat in the house.