Sonoma California

Sonoma Bachelorette Weekend – Part 1

For those readers that don’t know my exciting news.. I got engaged to the love of my life in August of last year! That day gave me so many exciting things to get day-dreaming about, including what I was going to do for my bachelorette party.

Figuring out when and where wasn’t too tough. I’ve been to Las Vegas a few times and that was a little too fast paced than what I wanted so it was easily nixed. I wanted as many of my girls to be able to attend as possible, so I didn’t want to go too far or make my friends take days off of work to attend. With all of those things in consideration, Memorial Day weekend seemed like the perfect 3-day weekend to take our quick getaway since it is not a religious / family oriented holiday or one that people usually travel for, and it is known for amazing weather before summer kicks in.

I love wine / wineries and had always thought Napa was a good option, but then I heard about the less crowded, less expensive, highly regarded, next door neighbor to Napa, Sonoma. Sonoma is a quick 3 hour flight and one hour drive from the SFO airport, so it fit right into the Memorial Day weekend timeline. With the dates and place settled, it was time to get planning!

Loxton Winery in Sonoma, California

My little (but taller) sister, Julia, lives in San Fransisco and just happens to be my Maid of Honor (because she is absolutely amazing and I love her to pieces). With my honeymoon, bridal shower, and wedding to plan, I gave Julia a quick outline of what I was thinking for the weekend and she did a fantastic job of planning and coordinating the bachelorette weekend details for all 12 of us and as they say, the rest is history…

Friday – May 26th

All of us were flying out to SFO after work on Friday and were getting in around 8:30 / 9:15 PM. I live close to quite a few of the girls that were on my flight so we all met up at one of the girl’s houses and her fiancé was nice enough to drive us to the airport. We got through the check-in process in under 15 minutes and decided to take the shuttle and hop terminals to find a wine bar and a bite to eat for dinner. Unfortunately, the wine bar told us that 40 minutes wouldn’t be enough time to get our dinner and back to our terminal for boarding, so we decided to find somewhere for takeout instead. We ended up at a Mediterranean placed called Cafe Izmir and found a bar tender who was ready to start our party! On top of our wine, he made us grape shots to celebrate and couldn’t stop gushing about his shot concocting capabilities. We couldn’t help but laugh with him. Once our to-go was ready, we raced back to our gate, hopped on the plane, and took off with no delay.

At Cafe Izmar in the DFW airport on the way to Sonoma!

We were taxing on the runway after landing and one of the stewardess came on over the loud-speaker. She congratulated the bride in seat D14 and wished our party “so much fun” over the long weekend! I turned bright red as all of the people around me looked at me, clapped, and wished us well, but it was super sweet!

Once we deplaned, we grabbed our bags and took the train to the car rental pick-up. After a bit of a complicated check-in, we got two cars, drove to the arrivals terminal to pick up the rest of the group, played Tetris to get our luggage in the trunks, and headed on the hour-long, windy drive to our Airbnb in Sonoma!

The Airbnb was AMAZING! It was a house with 4 big bed rooms, 6 beds and a huge couch that fit two people, a hot tub, fire pit, and bocce ball court. Each room has a wall of mirrors so there was plenty of “getting ready” space for all of the girls. Figuring out the bedding situation reminded me of America’s Next Top Model when all of the models run through the house on the first day, claiming bedrooms in a frenzy. It was pretty comical and everyone seemed happy for the most part. *Phew!*

With the time change and a late get in, we all got settled and went to bed so we would be well rested for Saturday’s shenanigans.

Saturday – May 27th

Conveniently for us, the 2-hour time change from Texas to California maked it feel like we slept in, even though we woke up at 8 AM after a very late night. Everyone was up on time and excited to hear our wine tour itinerary for the day from Julia while we cooked up breakfast tacos, drank mimosas, and got ready.

Mimosa for Day 1 in Sonoma

At 10 AM sharp, our stellar tour guide Soussan, from Sonoma Wine Tours, knocked on our door and we all piled into her van. We played an introduction / fun fact game so everyone could get to know each other on the way to Loxton Winery, our first stop of the three for the day.

My "Bride Tribe" at Loxton Winery in Sonoma, CA

Loxton Winery is owned by a Australian, 4th generation grape grower named Loxton. His family has been in the wine business for many years in South Australia, but he was the first to make his own wine and has been for years in Sonoma. We had a wonderful tasting in the barrel room of the winery and the wines just kept getting better! I ended up buying the best Port I’ve ever tasted and the only bottle I purchased that weekend from Loxton winery. (It probably helped that they served the Port with chocolate…)

Wine tasting at Loxton Winery in Sonoma, CA

Loxton himself came by during our tasting and was quite a character! We had a great time chatting about Australia as a few of us have Aussie and Kiwi roots. He even signed all of the bottles we bought with personal messages. The whole thing made for a great experience.

Hanging with Loxton at Loxton Winery in Sonoma, CA

After we finished at Loxton, it was off to VJB Winery for lunch and another tasting. I swear, VJB must have picked up an Italian villa and winery, flew it across the ocean, and dropped it in Sonoma! It was like I was back in Italy and I was in total heaven.

We did a quick tour of the property, saw the deli where the owners sell their hand-made pastas, meats, and other treats, and then sat in the beautiful courtyard for our tasting. We even had a personalized menu!

We ordered some pizzas to share and were mid-way through our flights when three dapperly dressed men came into the patio and started to sing! With an accordion in hand, the men sang some of my Rat Pack favorites and we couldn’t help but sing along. I requested that they come back and sing “That’s Amore” by Dean Martin, since my sister and I grew up signing that with our mom every time we cooked Italian food at home. After they made a round through all of the tables, they came back and serenaded us and I danced with my sister and the singers. It could not have been a better experience and was literally perfect – especially since we topped the lunch off with VJB’s home-made gelato afterwards!

Totally on Cloud 9, we said “Arrivederci” to our melodic gentleman, hopped into the van, and headed to Wellington Cellars for our last tasting of the day… which you can read all about in next week’s post!

*Photo cred to all of my girls from the trip, especially M. Hood!

Continue reading this adventure…

Journey to Guatemala

Sometimes your friends meet people and decide to set you up with them because they think you have similar interests and would work well together. Typically, that kind of a situation happens in regards to dating, but in this instance, it was, I guess I could say, a blind friend date!

One of my good friends went on a camping trip and met a Guatemalan girl named Cassandra whom they thought was just like me; very outgoing, active lifestyle loving, wasn’t afraid to dance the night away, and had a quirky sense of humor, etc. Come to find out, this Cassandra and I lived in the same apartment complex just a few buildings down from each other as well and so I ended up going over to her place for a pre-party with our mutual friends and, as fate would have it, we BFF-clicked right away!

Guatemala Besties!

Cass quickly became one of my favorite people of all time, we became roommates, and did absolutely everything you could do in Fort Worth, Texas – i.e. two-stepping with cowboys, biking to brunch, killing it a dodgeball, starting dance floors wherever there was music, playing sand volleyball whenever the sun was out, the list goes on and on – for about two years. After that time, I had met my man and we decided to move to Dallas to explore a new city together. Cass also planned a big change – moving back to Guatemala to live with her family and work on things she was passionate about. Of course, it was tough to see her go, but I vowed I would come visit her soon and try to utilize the bits and pieces of Spanish she had tried to teach me (I was not the best student, jajaja).

Thankfully for Skype and Whatsapp, we were able to keep in touch, and my travel itch got stronger and stronger until I just had to buy that plane ticket. How convenient that a travel blogger such as my self has a bestie who lives in a beautify exotic country that speaks the language?! Two of our other friends decided to come with me to visit Cass and her family and, when mid-October finally arrived, we packed our bags and headed to the airport!

What is the first thing that you do upon airport arrival during a girls trip? Breakout the selfie stick and take a picture of course! What is the first thing you realize is sitting on the counter at home that you forgot to grab on the way out? The very selfie stick you need to take your girls trip pic! Ugh! I was so excited to bring it too – so of course I had to walk to the electronics store in the airport and buy a new one specifically for the trip. I am not going to lie though, it was totally worth buying. We finally took our departure pic and boarded the plane. Kim, Janine and I had all met through Cass and hadn’t seen each other in a while so we had lots of time on the flight to Guatemala City to catch up. One of us had just started a relationship, one just got out of one, and one was going steady, so boys was the top of choice of course… Who needs People magazine when you have real life gossip?!

We arrived around 7:30 PM in Guatemala and basically ran to the pick up line to see Cass! It was so exciting to finally be in the country she had talked so much about! We hopped in her Jeep and noticed that the windows were very darkly tinted so that people couldn’t see in. Almost all of the cars we saw from then on had similar tints for safety reasons. Right off the bat, there were some major differences from the USA. We drove through the City and right up a mountain side to Cass’s parents house. Most of the streets were lined with high concrete walls that you couldn’t see behind, bared windows, and barbed wire fences. Again, very different safety measures than we see in mainstream USA.

Eventually, we got to Cass’s house, passed through the door in the giant concrete wall, and encountered a beautiful outdoor patio garden full of succulents, and a variety of other plants. It was quite enchanting. The overall architecture of the houses in Guatemala is so different. The houses are full of alcoves, atriums, arches, and different decorations to make each place very unique. The view from the house was absolutely breathtaking, spanning almost all of the city with surrounding volcanos. I would not mind waking up to the view every morning!

Guatemala City, Guatemala

We chatted with Cass’s parents, some of the sweetest people I have ever met, and their maids made us a delicious fajita dinner. We enjoyed some wine and chatted the night away before heading downstairs to pack and rest up for the next day’s journey to Antigua for volcano climbing!