Travels: Travel Documents

Here are some tips regarding your travel documents.

Make copies of all your travel documents, including passports, tickets, license, credit cards, etc. You can keep a copy of these in the cloud using a service like Dropbox or Google Drive. This will protect your information as you travel, yet allow you to access it when you need it.

Here’s another idea when writing credit card numbers…break up the numbers and call them something else.

You could call the first four numbers a password, the next three numbers a name, and the last numbers a phone number…or something like that. Whatever makes sense to you but not to someone else would work.

Travels: Check out this Event

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact:
Joel Quigley, Jessup Cellars
(707) 495-0831 / joel@jessupcellars.com
Jessup Cellars’ TasteMaker Forum, Featuring Acclaimed Photojournalist George Rose’s Rock ‘n’ Roll in Black & White, Launches March Exhibition
 Exhibition Runs February 28 – March 31 in Celebration of the Inaugural Launch of the Yountville Live! Music Festival Happening March 19 – 22
(Yountville, CA, February 5, 2015) — The Jessup Cellars2015 TasteMaker Speaker Series kicks-off on Saturday, February 28 from 7:00pm to 9:30pm with acclaimed photojournalist George Rose’s Rock ‘n’ Roll in Black & White forum and exhibition. During a prolific 17-year career as a photojournalist in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Rose developed a remarkable and historic body of photographic work focused on popular culture. Images from this era are collected in the 2008 book Hollywood, Beverly Hills & Other Perversities by Ten Speed Press. Guest host Monique Soltani of Wine Oh TV will use her investigative prowess as a television broadcaster to extract Rose’s true-life stories behind capturing the greats of rock ‘n’ roll…in black and white. Tickets are $35 each at CellarPass.com and include interactive forum, meet-and-greet, wine tasting and nosh.
Rose is a recipient of a 1987 World Press Photo Award for news, and was named California Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1976 by the University of Missouri, School of Journalism. The Los Angeles Times twice nominated him for a Pulitzer Prize. He served six years as a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times. His independent assignments have been published in USA Today, Time, Newsweek and Rolling Stone. For the past twenty-five years, Rose has held four high-level public relations positions in Northern California’s Wine Country.
Rose’s Rock ‘n’ Roll in Black & White  exhibition runs February 28 through March 31 in celebration of the inaugural launch of the Yountville Live! Music Festival happening March 19 through 22. Festival headliners include O|A|R, Colbie Caillat, Matt Nathanson, Aimee Mann and Blue October. Presented by Volvo with supporting sponsor Sunset magazine, Yountville Live! combines the very best in music, wine, and food with the small-town lifestyle and sophisticated ambiance of Yountville. In its role as a supporting sponsor, Jessup Cellars will be hosting a series of intimate eventsfeaturing artists Scars on 45 and Jon McLaughlin during the festival. Visit YountvilleLive.com for complete details and to purchase tickets.
High-resolution photographs and interviews are available upon request.
About The TasteMaker Series
The TasteMaker Series presents thought leadership forums staged in the Jessup Cellars Tasting Gallery in Napa Valley’s village of Yountville, just a block north of the famed The French Laundry. Each event is integrated with the launch of a thematic art exhibition, bringing together Jessup Cellars wines, food, art and people into fully realized sensory forums. Jessup Cellars Tasting Gallery is located at 6740 Washington St., Yountville, California. To learn more about Jessup Cellars and the TasteMaker Speaker Series visit Jessup Cellars or call 707.944.8523.

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Travels: Classic Salad from Florence, Italy

Panzanella: a classical Florentine salad with painterly associations



Bill Breckon, from The Watermill at Posara in Tuscany, Italy, has sent me this tasty recipe which is The Watermill’s take on a classic slad from Florence, called panzanella.
You can try it, too, if you go on one of The Watermill’s world-renowned painting, creative writing, knitting or Italian language courses. See www.watermill.netfor more details.
Bill says:
Panzanella is a famous Florentine salad, also popular in other parts of Tuscany (notably Posara!). Its basic ingredients are bread and tomatoes, dressed in oil and vinegar, but you can add all sorts of other tasty things.
Here’s the recipe:
Stale bread, torn up into small squares. Preferably crusty baguette-type bread. (You could use regular sliced bread, but I won’t lie – your salad will be rubbish.)
1 red onion, thinly sliced.
6 juicy tomatoes, roughly chopped.
A large handful each of capers, black olives and sun-dried tomatoes roughly chopped up small.
Fresh basil leaves, torn. The more the merrier.
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
Glug of extra virgin olive oil.
Squirt of lemon juice.
Salt & pepper
Method:
Chopup everything (except for the basil) and throw it into a nice big dish. Drizzle, glug and squirt seasonings.
Leaveit to rest for at least 1 hour, then scatter the torn basil over it. A bit of green makes the salad look great and basil is ideal for a true Tuscan flavour.
Buon appetito!
Billcomments: “This truly is delicious. The Florentine traditionalists probably forego the capers, olives and sun-dried tomatoes, but I am with Rachel in adding these. It is interesting that Florentine bread (but not the bread we use in Posara) is made without salt. The Florentines say it allows us to taste the flavours of the accompanying food, but I think I like a bit of salt in my bread, too. And it is noticeable that more recipes using day-old bread emanate from Florence than anywhere else in Italy!”
    
Bill adds: “Of course, if you were a real traditionalist, you wouldn’t use tomatoes anyway: they didn’t arrive from the New World until the end of the 15th Century and they weren’t used in Italian cooking until much later. (Difficult to imagine Italian cooking without tomatoes, isn’t it?) One of the first descriptions of panzanella came from the poet and artist Bronzino*, who wrote of a salad of onions, purslane (Portulaca oleracea) and cucumbers.”
*One of the great Italian painters of the 16th century, Agnolo di Cosimo known as Bronzino (1503−1572) painted glittering portraits of the Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany and their families. Here’s his portrait of Eleanor of Toledo and her son Giovanni de’ Medici. They don’t look like they’d enjoy day-old bread do they?”
We usually serve our panzanella at Sunday lunch during our painting holidays and creative writing courses.You can find out more about our painting holidays by clicking here.And about our creative writing courses, by clicking here.Below: More of the Watermill’s Sunday lunch spread. The panzanella is towards the back.

Travels: Painting Classes in Tuscany

A little ‘first- aid kit’ for artists
Bill Breckon, from The Watermill at Posara in Northern Tuscany, where they run wonderful painting, creative writing, knitting and Italian language holidays, has sent me a “very simple but enormously effective first-aid kit” for painters. It comes from one of The Watermill painting tutors, Anne Kerr.
 She says: “I make no claims to its invention, but this little kit helps you sort out the tonal values in your paintings.” Anne adds: “Tonal values would be easy to see if everything around us was black and white: some things appear very dark, some not so dark and others very light, almost glowing. But we can’t help noticing the colour of things at first glance — and colour often gets in the way when trying to sort out the values or tones of the subject. 
When starting a painting, it’s a good idea to make a black and white copy of your reference picture.  If you are working on location, then just take a snap of your view on a phone or tablet.  You can then change the photo to black and white very easily using various computer programmes or on a photocopier.  This black and white photo will give you an excellent guide to the tonal values of your subject. You will easily see the darkest darks and the lightest lights at a glance. You can see this in my flower painting in the figure below:”
“Many people underestimate the importance of tonal contrast in their paintings.  I always try to visit local amateur art exhibitions whenever I can.  There are some wonderful and awe inspiring paintings out there.  There are also some paintings that, although beautifully done, obviously lack something.  I find that it is invariably a case of tonal values having too little variation.  A few quick alterations would have made their painting stand out with new dimensions.”
So what about the first-aid kit? Easy! You can make it yourself: “Draw a series of eight to ten squares and, using one colour only (Payne’s grey is a good choice) paint each square with an increasing number of layers.  The easiest way to do this is as follows: Leave square 1 alone and start at square 2. Run your brush all the way to the end. Reload, go back and start at square 3, run your brush to the end.  Keep doing this until you have completed all squares.   Square 1 will now have no layers of paint and square 10 will have nine layers.” See the figure below:
“Trim off the side of your paper so that your little painted chart sits right on the edge. Then take a piece of white paper or white card (about 5cm square) and punch a hole in it.  An ordinary office hole- punch is perfect. “When you are not sure of the tonal value of a section of your reference picture, first make a guess at the strength of tone you need then, to see if you are correct, do the following: “Put the little piece of paper with the hole exactly over the problem area of your reference picture. Put your little tonal chart next to the hole and move it from side to side until you find a match for the tone:
“You will probably find that you have nearly always underestimated the strength of tone you require for that part of the painting.”
Anne concludes: “This is a very simple little ‘kit’ but I find it invaluable.  It takes about ten minutes to make but you will not regret it.  If I have a painting that is ‘not working’, I go back and check my tonal values from my reference picture and this is usually where I find my mistakes. I always have this little kit with me when I am teaching a class.  It’s easy for me to tell my students that the tonal values in their paintings are not yet correct but so much nicer and more fun if they see it for themselves. “Happy painting!”
Anne Kerr, from Cornwall in the far West of England, is a professional artist with more than 30 years teaching experience. Her positive approach, her friendliness and her sense of humour ensure that every student feels really comfortable, whether a complete beginner or an experienced artist. You can find out about her course at The Watermill at Posara by clicking here.
At The Watermill they run painting holidays with expert tuition in watercolours, oils, acrylics, pastels and other media and you can find out all about all their talented and inspirational tutors and their courses by clicking here.

Travels: Italy and Painting…a Wonderful Match

More enticements to travel to Italy – and paint the wonderful scenery.

Photo


My friend Bill Breckon is owner of The Watermill at Posara, a centre of excellence for the arts in unspoilt rural Tuscany (www.watermill.net) and his blog always has plenty of reasons why we should travel to that wonderful country. Not least are the paintings and painting tips by the inspiring tutors that come to take week-long courses at The Watermill. Like this one – a Matisse-inspired jigsaw from painting tutor Doranne Alden.

Our lovely watercolour Bill says: “Our painting tutor from Malta, Doranne Alden, is much influenced by the wonderful French painter Henri Matisse (and who can blame her?). You may remember we told you or her series of paintings Hommage to Matisse in a previous Watermill blog. You can see it again by clicking here.
“And she’s also been inspired by Matisse occasionally to work in a ‘jigsaw’ fashion or ‘cut-out’ style. Doranne says: “I find it is a novel way of working in any medium, though I do find that some media are better suited for this than others.” The colourful painting above is a result.
Doranne says: “Using my favourite watercolour inks in this painting, you will see in the step by step photographs below, that I did not use any masking liquid or any other masking method. In fact I worked round the shapes of the objects I was painting.
               
“The ink I used is very vibrant and unforgiving as the colours are all permanent and relatively fast drying, but after years of using them, I still find that they give me a sense of freedom of expression and thoroughly capture the mood and colour of whatever still life I set up in front of me.
“Hope you enjoy seeing the process as much as I enjoyed painting it.”

Bill Breckon says: “Doranne Alden is a professional artist, art teacher and graphic designer who particularly loves painting in watercolour. She now lives in Malta, but also worked for several years in Germany. Doranne is also a dedicated teacher, who has led many classes and workshops. She loves sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm, inspiring her students to produce their best work — and she’s happy to teach beginners as well as more experienced painters. Doranne Alden’s  week-long watercolour course will run from Saturday 9 May to Saturday 16 May. You can find out more about Doranne and her course by clicking hereWhy not bring your non-painting partner as well? There’s a generous £200 discount for him/her if they share a room with you.”

Travels: Travel Apps, Part Two

Continued from SmarterTravel.com


STUFF TO DO

Peek

Peek is worth a look thanks to a quirky customization feature; when you first open the app, it runs through a photo-based quiz to determine your travel personality. Subsequently it will tailor suggestions based on your answers; I found it to be pretty accurate. It will be fun to watch Peek add locations and attractions. (Though there aren’t many destinations yet outside the U.S., a spokesperson tells us that they’re on the way.) Free for iOS; also on the Web at Peek.com

Trover

There is a bit of a buzz around the Trover app at present, and when you see it you will understand why — it performs like a location-based Instagram. When you search on a location, instead of giving you listings or addresses, Trover shows you a grid of pictures on which you can click for a bigger photo, more info, a map and directions.
Trover is crowdsourced, which can introduce quality control and completeness problems, but I found it to offer some good inspiration for things to do and see. In my own area there was a picture of a giant tire on a football field — but it’s a college town, so hijinks are just part of the fun. Free on Android and iOS


FOR AVIATION GEEKS

Flightradar24

For aviation geeks, Flightradar24 can be a somewhat mind-blowing experience; center your map at your house or any other location, and you can see all the planes in the sky above. Tap on one of the planes and you can see the type of plane, tail number, flight origin and destination, flight path, altitude, speed, GPS location, and more. $3.99 for Android and iOS, $3.49 for Windows; also free on the Web at Flightradar24.com

FlightAware

FlightAware’s app is a companion to its website that allows you to search by flight number, tail number or route; it is a much more limited view than Flightradar24, but lets you track the location of friends, or your own flight if you have onboard Wi-Fi. Free for Android, iOS and Windows


OTHER NIFTY APPS

Pocket

Travel can be filled with downtime perfect for catching up on your online reading — if you have an affordable Internet connection, that is. Enter “read later” apps like Pocket, which allows you to download articles and even videos for later offline perusal, both from the Web as well as from more than 800 apps like Twitter, Facebook, Zite and Flipboard. The app syncs across multiple devices as well, letting users choose something on one device and have it available on another later. Free on Android, Blackberry, iOS, Windows and more

Hyperlapse

Timelapse photography is the photography trend of the moment, and Hyperlapse (by Instagram) is the best of the lot. It is incredibly easy to use, creates clever timelapse videos right on the spot, saves them to your phone’s photo reel (no forced sharing or in-app-only access) and lets you share them almost effortlessly. An image stabilization feature and a timer that shows while filming how long the timelapse will be separate it from the native timelapse apps on some newer phones. Free for iOS

Travels: New Apps, Part One

SmarterTravel.comrecently posted some great information on new apps available for traveling. Check them out and let me know if you’ve used any of them. The following is an excerpt from SmarterTravel.com.
Part One…

The Best New Travel Apps

Most independent travelers who own smartphones either already have or know about many of the most useful travel apps — including booking sites like Kayak or Hipmunk, the most popular and/or native mapping apps, review sites like Yelp/Urbanspoon/TripAdvisor, translation apps like Google Translate, and personal travel tracking apps like TripIt and TripCase. In this piece we’re not aiming to recount well-known foundational apps, but to seek out newer and less-known apps that might help you in your travels
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BOOKING AND RESEARCH APPS

Hopper

This super-new app is already lighting up pixels on travel and tech websites. The app crunches heaps of airfare data to create a simple, color-coded rendering of recent and future trends on your route. When you do a search, the app returns a calendar of the best and worst days to buy; when you pick dates, it advises whether to book now or wait, and tells you why in extremely simple language. There are a lot of other useful features along the way, including precise info on what constitutes a good deal, pricing predictions by date and more. Free for iOS, launching on Android “in the next few months”

Hotel Tonight

Pretty much what it sounds like, the simple, attractive and easy-to-use Hotel Tonight lets you search for hotel rooms for same-day and next-day hotel bookings, out to seven days from the current time. The classification of hotels as Basic, Solid, Hip, Charming or Luxe telegraphs the hotel type. Booking inside the app is quick and clear, and the speed of the whole experience is a significant plus. Free for Android, iOS and Windows


LOGISTICS

PackPoint

PackPoint is emerging as the go-to packing app for hardcore travelers, with good reason. Once you put in your destination, dates, length of stay and nature of trip (business, leisure or both), PackPoint then offers a grid to check off which activities you will be doing, including options for swimming, working, photography, camping, a fancy dinner and more. It even asks if you will be doing laundry during the trip.
Then PackPoint lets you swipe items on and off an impressively comprehensive generated list. You can email or tweet the following list, open it in a browser and more. Free for Android and iOS

JetLag Genie

This is a great app to help you hack your sleep schedule to minimize jet lag. Once you input your normal sleeping hours and origin and destination cities, JetLag Genie creates a multi-day schedule with suggested wakeup and sleep times, when and how much light to expose yourself to, and a recommended plan for naps (or lack thereof). The app is clear and fun to use as well. $2.99 for iOS


GETTING AROUND
Lyft

Lyft is the ubiquitous Uber’s main competitor in the rideshare space; I mention it here so if you can’t quite stomach Uber’s, er, aggressive business practices, or want an option when needed, give Lyft a go. Free for Android, iOS and Windows

Citymapper

Many travelers swear by this app to help get around major cities; in my own use Citymapper produced outstanding results. You put in a starting and ending location, and the app will create a route for you by train, bus, bicycle, foot and taxi, with the approximate travel times (and prices where appropriate) for each route. It also shows where bus or subway lines are out of service or delayed.Free for Android and iOS

ViewRanger

This is a mapping app on steroids, with hardcore GPS functions, significant offline capabilities and even topography maps for the United States. This app will be a lot more than most folks need and is really designed for adventures such as backcountry hiking and camping, but for travelers heading off the grid, this is the ideal app. Free for Android, iOS and Kindle Fire

Waze

Waze is an increasingly popular mapping app that augments the standard routing functions with crowdsourced (and social media-enabled) traffic information to offer alternate/best routes around any serious trouble spots. The app displays the lowest gas prices and even speed traps along a route (though law enforcement folks want this ability removed, good buddy). Free for Android, iOS and Windows

Travels: Check Out This Event

CRUSHER WINE DISTRICT TO HOST “QUARTERLY WINE HOPPER WEEKENDS”

Passport Weekends Allow Open Access to Predominately Appointment-Only Wine District
(Napa, CA, February 13, 2015) — The Crusher Wine District in Southern Napa has announced that its avant-garde collection of wineries will host quarterly Wine Hopper Weekends to allow unfettered access to its members’ tasting experiences. With many of its member wineries available for tastings by appointment only, Crusher Wine District has selected four weekends throughout 2015 where all will be open for passport tastings from 10am to 4:30pm.
Special experiences will be shared at each winery as passport holders “hop” from tasting to tasting for one inclusive fee of $85 each or $150 per couple. To access the entire Crusher Wine District member tasting experiences would normally cost up to $250 per person. Guests may also opt to visit select wineries through individual tasting fees. The inaugural weekend takes place March 7 and 8 with tickets available at CellarPass.com.

Wine Hopper Weekends include access to Avinodos, Edict Wines, The Wine Foundry, Humanitas Wines, J. Moss, Mi Sueño Winery, Spelletich Family Wine Co., Trinitas Cellars, The Trinitas Library and Y. Rousseau Wines. The weekend of June 20th and 21st will be a Special Edition of Crusher Games II! Passport holders may also book weekend getaway lodging reservations by calling Meritage Resort & Spa located in the heart of the Crusher Wine District at(707) 251-1900.

*Wine Hopper Weekends Quarterly Tastings
March 7 & 8
June 20 & 21 = A Special Edition of Crusher Games II
August 8 & 9
November 7 & 8
*Select wineries may not be available for all four weekends. Participating wineries for each weekend will be posted on our CellarPass ticketing page.

About Crusher Wine District
Crusher Wine District is a collaboration of avant-garde wineries dedicated to cutting edge wines and honest hospitality. Our location in the industrial area of South Napa says it all about us – authentic, stripped down and a little funky. Come visit the Napa Valley you didn’t expect, yet will ultimately always remember. Members include Avinodos, Edict Wines, The Wine Foundry, Humanitas Wines, J. Moss, Mi Sueño Winery, Spelletich Family Wine Co., Trinitas Cellars, The Trinitas Library and Y. Rousseau Wines. To learn more and join our mailing list, visit us at CrusherWineDistrict.com.

Media Contact:
Joel Quigley, The Good Life Wine Collective
(707) 495-0831 | joel@tglwc.com

Travels: Round the World Flight

Ever thought about a round-the-world trip? While a RTW trip isn’t for everybody, it is a great way to explore a range of destinations in a unique manner.

Some things to consider include the following.

Plan. Make a list of what you really want to see and do. This isn’t a destination. It’s a complete set of flights. Therefore, you need to plan exactly the areas of the world you want to visit. 

Take your time. Spread out your visits and plan on taking a good month for your adventure. Give each place you visit enough time to see what you came there to see. Remember, you need to factor in checking out of your hotel, getting to the airport, customs, etc. Spend enough time in each place.

Move either east or west throughout your journey. It could be a requirement for some RTW tickets, but for the best use of time…pick east or west traveling.

Buy a single ticket from a company that specializes in RTW fares. Most will require you to complete your travel within one year and many are limited to 15 or 16 stops or flight segments.  Or buy individual tickets and arrange those flights to meet your schedule. Make sure to check out all your options before you buy.

Think about flying business class.

Use your air miles to support what you can.

Remember to check what visas you will need, which countries require to apply in advance, and to check the State Department’s information page for each country you plan to visit.

Have fun.


Travels: Planes

Do you know how to find the best seat when booking your long flight? Here are some things to consider…

Know your plane model. For long haul flights, the most spacious double decker Airbus A380 is your best bet. With larger windows, HD video screens, and lower cabin pressure, these planes make that long flight more bearable. Check out your booking website to see what plane your particular flight will use. 

Check out the airline as well. Some, such as American, are now squeezing 10 seats per row into a Boeing 777. Nine used to be the standard.

Check out the seats. Go to SeatGuru.com to see where your seat is and where the best legroom is.

Check with your airline to view all options available. Is economy your best bet? Or do you want to upgrade to premium economy or business?