I'm happiest when on a beach, writing about my dream vacations and my favorite hotels and restaurants. Don't let my sense of fashion and elaborate dreams fool you, though; I'm a hard worker who is proud of my writing and what we have done with this plucky little magazine.
If there's one thing I enjoy, it's discovering new parts of the world, following the unbeaten path, and leaving bits of my heart all around the world.
As an English teacher, a news journalist and blogger, I find it super important to share my passion of writing with the world!
San Diego Brewers Guild has done a great job once again, bringing locals to Westfield UTC to try out fantastic foods, beer tastings, and allover summer fun. It really did feel like a neighborhood party, with couches set up for everyone to relax in between strolling the mall to various food and drink stations.
San Diego’s favorite craft breweries, including Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Rough Draft Brewing Company, Groundswell Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Company & Mother Earth Brew Co., offered some of their newest and most popular tastes.
Of course, a huge bonus to the drinks were California cuisine from Lemonade, savory grill items from Seasons 52 and comfort food from Tender Greens. To round out the afternoon’s festivities, guests will enjoy live music from Casey Turner and Nathan and Jessie, plus play fun beach games while they sip their suds.
As an added bonus to this event, 100 percent of the proceeds from Uncasked benefited the San Diego Brewers Guild, the local nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and increasing visibility of fresh, locally brewed beer. The SDBG is responsible for maintaining San Diego’s reputation as the “Capital of Craft,” and does this through its core annual events and public education. The proceeds from this tournament will help to sustain these initiatives, including San Diego Beer Week (SDBW), a weeklong celebration of all things San Diego craft beer held annually the first week of November, and the Rhythm & Brews Music and Craft Beer Festival.
The Wander crew is happy to announce our first giveaway!
Congratulations to Tiffany A, who has been selected as our winner! We hope you enjoy yourself this Saturday!
Don’t fret if you weren’t chosen; there is still plenty of time to buy tickets to the event at https://ticketsauce.com/e/uncasked15. The event is expected to sell out again this year, so purchasing tickets in advance is highly recommended. Each $20 ticket includes a branded tasting mug, 10 tickets for pours, unlimited food and beach games.
We are teaming up with Bay Bird Inc. to give away a pair of passes to Westfield UTC’s 2ndUncasked event coming up on Saturday,August 22 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Westfield UTC (4545 La Jolla Village Drive).
If you’re looking for an amazing opportunity to enjoy the great San Diego backdrop, combining Westfield UTC’s beautiful outdoor setting with San Diego’s favorite craft breweries, including Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Rough Draft Brewing Company, Groundswell Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Company & Mother Earth Brew Co., then this is the contest for you!
Guests can try ten local brews while sampling unlimited bites from some of Westfield UTC’s favorite restaurants, including fresh California cuisine from Lemonade, savory grill items from Seasons 52 and comfort food from Tender Greens. To round out the afternoon’s festivities, guests will enjoy live music from Casey Turner and Nathan and Jessie, plus play fun beach games while they sip their suds.
Comment with your name and the name of your favorite local brew by 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Check our Facebook page at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, August 18.
If you want to guarantee that you get to go to Uncasked, tickets can be purchased at: https://ticketsauce.com/e/uncasked15. The event is expected to sell out again this year, so purchasing tickets in advance is highly recommended. Each $20 ticket includes a branded tasting mug, 10 tickets for pours, unlimited food and beach games.
One hundred percent of the proceeds from Uncasked will benefit the San Diego Brewers Guild, the local nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and increasing visibility of fresh, locally brewed beer. The SDBG is responsible for maintaining San Diego’s reputation as the “Capital of Craft,” and does this through its core annual events and public education. The proceeds from this tournament will help to sustain these initiatives, including San Diego Beer Week, and the Rhythm & Brews Music and Craft Beer Festival.
When planning a vacation, who doesn’t immediately begin to daydream of an all inclusive resort, with beautiful white sandy beaches? Who doesn’t yearn for miles of beautiful tropical jungle, with a small village nestled in between the leaves and fronds? Who doesn’t want to climb and explore the ancient ruins, only to be washed by a rainstorm once at the top?
Well, for my family and me, this was the experience we had at Playa Del Carmen. Playa del Carmen is located on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, about an hour south of Cancun. It’s in the state of Quintana Roo, in the Yucatán peninsula. While it’s only an hour away from the popular Cancun, it’s worlds apart in terms of experience. Firstly, Playa Del Carmen is still considered a beach town; that means everything is still smaller scale. Even the hotels and resorts, which are monolithic, are on the outskirts of town, leaving an adorable, sleepy town with locals at its center.
Playa Del Carmen has regulated hotels and large business so that they cannot go past three stories in height. This means that you do not have to worry about your view of the jungle or beach being marred by an obnoxious skyscraper. This is not the case in Cancun, which has a much more industrialized feeling attached.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t find great food, or that you won’t be able to get some great shopping done while at Playa Del Carmen. Guests are encouraged to experience La Quinta, more commonly known by tourists as 5th Avenue.
La Quinta has an interesting mixture of shops. You can find both Mayan-made products with their makers sitting quietly in their booths, or you can access a sprawling, air conditioned mall with designer shops and familiar chain restaurants. One of the best ways to unwind after a day full of adventure, snorkeling and eating is to walk as far as you can down La Quinta. Pop into each shop, take a look at their wares, and negotiate with the shop owner to get the best bargain on the trinket, piece of clothing or memento you want to keep from your trip.
If you walk off the main strip, there are more localized shops and stands with food that the locals eat, such as el Fogon. This two story taco shop was packed with families, couples on dates, and tourists who knew how to shop around before settling on dinner. Everything was chopped as it was ordered, and you can’t help but try to fill yourself with as many tacos and tortas as possible.
While there are lovely restaurants along La Quinta, there are plenty of taco stands along the blocks near La Quinta that will give you the best – and cheapest – fare. What you need to do is look for a stand that has plenty of locals waiting in line for something to eat. This lets you know that the stand will have fresh food, great flavors, and a decent price attached. One of my husband’s favorite parts of the taco stand crawl was the churro guy at the end: once he received an order for churros, he would place the fresh batter into boiling oil before throwing it into the cinnamon mix. Customers are left with delicious, piping hot churros to top off their already full bellies.
Another bonus of being in Playa Del Carmen is the quick access available to Cozumel, an island sitting just a few miles off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. For under 20 dollars, guests can take a round trip ride to an even more remote part of the Riviera Maya. Cozumel is only partially developed, and doesn’t have a lot going on after the sun falls, so it’s great for a day trip.
Once you arrive, don’t feel like you have to stay in the port village of Cozumel. There’s an entire island to see! We rented a buggy, then hit the open road. There’s a single road that circles the entire island, and we were able to stop at the southernmost point of the island and have lunch at a small shack on the beach.
The fish was freshly caught, the breeze was beautifully cool, and the sights were spectacular. Along the way around the island, there are several stands selling coconuts just off of the trees, and you can even stop and get a massage on the sand while your family or significant other snorkels along the reef.
By Andrea Verdin
Photos courtesy Switzerland Tourism
Even though we are in the middle of our summer vacation season, the Wander team cannot stop planning ahead and daydreaming about what next adventure is down the pipeline. Coming back from the Mexican Riviera, I’ve got my mind on the next big excursion, and Switzerland seems ideal for a luxurious getaway.
People around the world have been heading to the Alps for thousands of years for jaw-dropping views and amazing experiences that cannot be had elsewhere. However, there’s so much to experience, it’s nearly impossible to figure out what to do while in Switzerland.
I asked Switzerland expert Greg Witt from Alpenwild about some of the tops tours, attractions and special events that guests should make sure to include in their tours, and here’s just a glimpse of what Witt suggested. We reached out to Witt and Alpenwild because of the knowledge regarding the Alps he could provide.
“Alpenwild is the leading operator doing hiking and walking tours in the Alps. Our most popular trip is the Haute Route, a legendary trek through the highest peaks in the Alps linking Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn,” said Witt. “It’s the most scenic trek in Europe. It connects the historic mountain resorts of Chamonix France and Zermatt Switzerland. Along the way we traverse ancient trade routes, pass immense glaciers, skirt scenic alpine lakes, and come within view of the 14 highest peaks in the Alps.”
With no further ado, here’s what Witt recommends for those traveling to Switzerland this summer.
Book a view from the Swiss mountaintops If you’re looking to get 360° views and the fresh mountain air, Witt recommends the Stanserhorn Cabrio, the world’s first double-decker cable car with an open air upper deck. Another option is a new mountain attraction in Engelberg called the Rotair, the world’s first revolving gondola.
“So like the Cabrio you get 360° views, but with the Rotair, the gondola car does the rotating as you ascend to the summit of Mt Titlis,” said Witt. “Once at the summit of Mt Titlis you can get your palms sweating by crossing Europe’s highest suspension bridge—the newly-completed Cliff Walk. On the tamer side, don’t miss the new Olympic Museum in Lausanne. Located at the home of International Olympic Committee, the newly-reopened museum explores the events, athletes, and history of the Olympic movement. It’s the most interactive, engaging, and entertaining museum I’ve ever visited—guaranteed fun for all.”
Eat the cheese and chocolate; sample the wine. If you’re planning a summer Switzerland vacation, it’s essential to eat as much Swiss chocolate as possible.
“For chocolate lovers, Lindt will be opening a much-anticipated chocolate attraction in Zurich in 2016,” said Witt. “But for those who want to satisfy those cravings this very minute, go to Maison Cailler, Nestlé’s premier chocolate factory, for a tour followed by unlimited tastings.”
“We link Alpine meadows, farms, dairies, and vineyards with some of the most spectacular scenery in the Alps,” explained Witt. “Switzerland is really emerging as a gastronomic powerhouse in Europe, and it’s becoming recognized as one of the great culinary regions in Europe. The cheese, wine, and chocolate are superb. The word is getting out—you can have a great food and wine experience in the Alps.”
Find a travel agency that will cater to your specific wants. If you want a trip that focuses solely on hiking, then you need to find a company that primarily offers hiking trips. If you’re looking for a haute trip that has individualized experiences catered to small groups, don’t expect every company to provide what you want. However, Alpenwild offers a wide array of what Wanderers might be looking for.
“We specialize in the Alps—it’s really all we do,” explained Witt. “It’s our passion and expertise and we’ve been at it for three decades. We know the trails and towns inside out. We know the hoteliers and their rooms, the restauranteurs and their menus. Our guides are on the trails every day throughout the summer which gives us a level of expertise that other operators can’t match. And our guests get a richer, more enjoyable experience.”
Guests who choose a summer Switzerland vacation with Alpenwild will stay in carefully chosen inns, small hotels, and classic berghotels. They are typically independently-owned inns that offer a superbly satisfying mix of a welcoming atmosphere, traditional cuisine, and authentic charm.
“We pride ourselves in offering exclusive experiences and unique itineraries that would never be possible on other tours or traveling alone. We make cheese over an open fire with an alpine farmer, we learn the art of making chocolate truffles with a master chocolatier, and we’re hosted for winery tours and tastings by the region’s top vintners.”
Summer season is concert season. That means that the Wander Crew is gearing up for a lot of festivals, concerts and tours in the next few months. While one of our editors is heading to Outsidelands in San Francisco, and another is covering San Diego festivals, we are all letting our Sanrio-loving selves get super excited for Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival, launching in Los Angeles on June 11.
For those of you who are unaware, Hello Kitty isn’t just for little girls anymore. We loved getting to know all of Hello Kitty’s universe at Hello Kitty Con earlier this year, and her friends of all ages came together to enjoy the fancy free fun that comes with Hello Kitty and her fantastic friends. Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival will be a great way to dive right back into that world.
Going beyond a traditional live stage show, Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival offers a unique multi-component walk-around festival atmosphere for Sanrio fans of all ages.
If you are looking for a Keroppi purse, a Badtz-Maru blouse, or even some Pochacco, you’ll be able to grab one in between the live interactive shows, photo ops, and a few Sanrio surprises. Fans are invited to put on their finest Hello Kitty gear, and enjoy all of the elements that the Friendship Festival has to offer, such as:
DJ-driven dance segments with KRU HK dancers.
Hello Kitty and friends “in concert” with both characters and live singers and KRU HK dancers.
Lounge areas to relax and charge your mobile devices.
Fashion Lane – view high fashion couture pieces inspired by Hello Kitty and friends.
Art Gallery featuring works by contemporary artists.
Hello Kitty retro product and Japanese heritage displays.
Pop-up Mini Shopping Kiosks.
Hello Kitty Origami workshops.
There are various ticket options available, including a VIP Platinum Bow experience that lets you take photos with Hello Kitty herself!
For tour date information, go to Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival Tour page. For more information about the Friendship Festival and all of the excitement heading your way, check out the Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival website.