Sunday, March 30

Nespresso Boutique in Beverly Hills

As a self proclaimed Beverly Hills dining aficionado, I pride myself in staying well acquainted with any new restaurant that pops up in 90210.    ...So one can only imagine my giddiness when the new Nespresso Boutique Bar opened shop on Beverly Drive.

The idea is novel to me.  The Nespresso Boutique is, in my opinion, foremost a store and second a cafe. Inside, you are greeted by a hostess standing in front of a long, pristine coffee bar displaying a few specialty croissants and pastries.  To the right, futuristic table seatings are carefully situated, leading out to a typical al fresco dinning section.  The walls are lined with large soulful photos exemplifying the wrinkle creases of the coffee drinkers they portray.  The spacious 20 foot ceilings are lined with every flavor Nespresso cup you could dream of, with tasting counters and product displays laid out along the back section of the space.

Simply put, Nespresso is an Apple store, but for espresso machines.  It feels rather revolutionary as you

Wednesday, March 26

Palomino, Colombia, Where to Stay & What to Do

If postcard worthy caribbean backdrops and frozen daiquiris is what you crave, then Palomino is an essential stop for your Colombia adventure.

We transferred our stay from The Dreamer Hostel in Santa Marta to The Dreamer Hostel in Palomino, and while Santa Marta was lovely... the hostel in Palomino offers an unparalleled paradise.

 Little 'towns' drifted by during the two hour van ride with intermittent ocean views peeking through

Monday, March 24

Honey Goat Cheese Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates

Simple, yet elegant.  Savory, yet sweet.  There really is no reason not to include honey and goat cheese stuffed bacon wrapped dates at your next holiday party is there?

Package of bacon
Large container of pitted dates
Container of crumbled goat cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut date in half lengthwise and remove pit.
3. Stuff dates with 2-3 crumbles of goat cheese and drizzle with honey and press the date closed.
4. Cut bacon slice in half.  Wrap the bacon tightly around the date and secure with a toothpick.
5. Bake 10-12 minutes on aluminum foil lined pan.

Santa Marta: Where to stay and What to do


My research on where to stay in Santa Marta pretty much started and ended by reading that the Dreamer Hostel was rated best hostel in Colombia for 2014.

Dreamer Hostel was the perfect change of pace from the nonstop party at Casa Kiwi in Medellin.  Tucked away on a quiet road, the tranquility envelops you the moment you step through the front door and up to the thatched roof check in desk.  Hammocks are strung from every palm tree surrounding the large pool.  Backpackers lounging around, some with brightly colored frozen cocktails, reading and sunbathing.  The hostels bar, pool table and full service (delicious!) restaurant are located on the ground level, with rooms surrounding the perimeter.  Upstairs, there is a full kitchen for backpackers personal use, a tv lounge and computer station.  

Each room was a different theme around the world, with vivid wall paintings and a cheery disposition.  We bunked up in a four person shared room with an in suite bathroom for $10 USD a night, but

Wednesday, March 19

Medellin to Santa Marta, Getting There

Medellin is one of those infectious places that if you miss your flight, whether on purpose or not, you run the risk of staying forever.

And it was tempting.  Another 'hot havana night' in the salsa club and I might have fallen pray to the Medellin drug.  No, not cocaine, but something much more irresistable - the passion of the city and the people who inhabit it.  

But in the grand scheme of my travel itinerary, Medellin was just the jumping off point for a much more elaborate adventure.

So off to Santa Marta we went.  We opted for the $40 USD plane ride (over the 9 hour similarly priced bus ride) to the Caribbean Coast.  

The air was excruciatingly heavy with humidity as we waited by the luggage belt.  Backpacks in tow, we stepped into the blazing heat and flagged down taxis.  We hugged the crystal blue coastline during the majority of our hour drive before veering inland through some rather impoverished neighborhoods and arriving at the Dreamers Hostel. The locals seemed to be moving in slow motion, the heat so thick that one couldn't be bothered by hurrying. 

Correction.  No one was hurrying besides the crazed drivers in cars and mopeds zooming in out of traffic at erratic speeds.  And our taxi driver was no exception; accelerating around corners, nearly clipping motorists, I felt like I was on a ride at Disney.   I noticed the crew and cast snoozing behind me, letting the dead weight of their bodies drift with the sharp turns... and I smiled.  I never could sleep on car rides if we were venturing to some place I had never visited.  The journey, more times than not, provides a real life observation into the lives of locals and the true landscape of a country; something you just don't experience from the globalized destination cities catering to tourists.  Often I find that the rides are my favorite points of reflection.  To recount the joys of the first destination, marveling over the sense of familiarity and assimilation that occurs, and to anticipate the second destination while an unfamiliar landscape drifts by your window.

Tuesday, March 11

Medellin, Colombia - What to do

Of course go to Medellin for the nightlife, but don't drink so many Colombia Reds that you waste your days sleeping.  This city has a lot to offer and it would be a true shame to spend your day locked in your room at Casa Kiwi (no matter how great of a review I gave the hostel!). 

Great, we're in agreement.  But before you get all anxious about exploring the city, I need you to book your tour with Pablo for "The Real City Tours of Medellin".  I don't care if you 'hate tours' or how much 'cooler' you think the Pablo Escobar Tour will be ...sign up for the FREE walking tour with Pablo as soon as you possibly can.  Just do it, then leave me a comment immediately after thanking me. Actually, I'll leave you my address so you can send me a thank you edible arrangement.   I like dark chocolate.   

Again.  This is FREE, you tip at the end if you enjoyed the tour.  The tour guide, Pablo, will walk you through the city he was born and raised in, recounting the history in a lively narrative along the

Monday, March 10

Casa Kiwi - The best hostel in Medellin, Colombia

Casa Kiwi is by no means a hidden gem.  Actually, I'd go as far to say that it is unanimously considered the best hostel in Medellin, Colombia.

Of course I met plenty of other backpackers who had pleasant stays at Pit Stop or Buddah Hostel, but these hostels were their second choices.  Not because Casa Kiwi was cleaner, or cheaper, or even in a better location, it's something else.  There's something about the community at Casa Kiwi that is unlike any other hostel I've visited. 

 Let me back up and explain. 

Casa Kiwi is located in the El Poblado district of Medellin.  Arguably the only place fit to stay on your visit if you want to be in a safe, beautiful area that is home to the best nightlife and restaurants of the city.  The clean streets are lined with every type of restaurant you could imagine - from traditional

Thursday, March 6

Medellin, Colombia - first expectations

Medellin, Colombia as a tourist hotspot doesn't initially resonate well with the general public.  It is all too easy to associate the city with violence, drugs and fear.  And, well, those assumptions aren't necessarily unfounded. Pablo Escobar did terrorize the region, transforming a once booming cultural hub to a frightened and bloodied battlefield.  And while travel advisories have lifted, the heavy past feels unshakeable to an outside eye. 

For my first time visiting South America, I mentally promised myself to let go of preconceived notions and embark on this journey uninhibited.  Albeit my mother's warning "your kidneys will be harvested after your sold to the sex trade" was quite difficult to forget... no matter how absurd the notion was. 

I was relieved by the cleanliness and order of the airport. Yet a bit surprised to find no one spoke

Tuesday, March 4

My compatibility Test

Lets skip the lying on an online dating profile and take a foolproof compatibility test, shall we?

I don't like you if... 

You think NPR is a music group you haven't heard of.

You have ordered a fried fish sandwich from Mcdonalds or Burger King.

You've asked Siri to have sex with you.

You can't name the vice president.

...but you can rattle off 10 pornstar names with ease.

You buy video games.  Play them.  Then return them, pretending your 14 year old brother (which you don't actually have) didn't like them.

You identify as a stoner.

Backpacking South America- what to pack

Hooray!  I am about to embark on a South America vacation with only what I pack in my backpack to weigh me down.

Wait.  What. 

Prissy or not, I like 'packing security' and bring full size zebra print suitcases for three day weekends in Vegas.  This is the same girl that brought 10 bathing suits for a 7 day yacht trip through Greece.  Just in case I wanted some mid day wardrobe changes I suppose.  The same girl who brought two oversized suitcases (yes, more-than-50-pounds-pay-extra-oversized) to study abroad in Spain.. but came home with three to house the 9 pairs of shoes I couldn't-live-without and had-to-buy when there. 

So I challenged myself, to really cut corners, bring only the essentials and pack as lightly as possible to leave room for a pair or two of those can't-live-without purchases.  And I did it. 

Lets take a moment to chat about pack size.  I bought mine off ebay for $45.  The brand is 'Creeper'

Sunday, March 2

The Bucket List, revised.

When I first wrote out my bucket list senior year of college, my goals and dreams seemed unattainable.  Some, like pursuing acting and hosting, I knew were so far out of the realm of possibility that I was too ashamed to even write them down.  The list had things like, win a pageant, write a memoir, learn to change a tire, drive cross country, see the grand canyon.  As I stretched into myself and began crossing off some of the travel and adventure goals, I added more elaborate ones, like yacht week and running a half marathon.  And somewhere around my 25th birthday, I swallowed my fear of failure and judgement and made a profound leap of confidence, writing down 'land an acting role in tv or film' and, the very far-fetched 'host a show for Travel Channel'.   Over this past year, this goal has manifested itself, and I felt overwhelmed with disbelief when I got to cross off both goals and shoot further into the stars.  My travel channel show is still on reruns, and I realized that perhaps, what I really wanted was not to just have a show on Travel Channel, but to host a travel show - where I get to

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