It was a car trip south from San Francisco to San Diego. My kids were young, so I tried never to drive more than three hours a day. After a day and night in San Francisco, we made our way through gorgeous Carmel and Monterey and had a meal in Big Sur.
We had to stop in Santa Cruz for the boardwalk, the ocean and that cheesy attraction called the Mystery Spot.
We devoted a day to the coastal stretch between Big Sur and Santa Barbara, staying at a beachside motel so we could visit the Hearst Castle (pictured).
Santa Barbara was the next major stop and then Los Angeles, again staying ocean side in Santa Monica, with visits to Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood.
We finished in San Diego with a couple nights at another ocean side hotel. Want to know how much my kids loved that trip? We did it again the next summer, this time starting in San Diego and driving north to San Francisco. Just to vary it a bit.
For years I’ve recommended photocopying the contents of your wallet as well as the front page of your passport. Should those things go missing, having copies can help you recover more quickly.
Today there’s another option: Take a photo of all those items with your smartphone so you have a copy at your fingertips. Presuming, of course, your smartphone doesn’t go missing at the same time.
Be sure your phone is locked with a password so if it falls into someone else’s hands, they can’t readily access all your photos and other information.
I feel passionately about these recommendations because I’ve had my passport pickpocketed in France and have lost more than one wallet. Having copies of all that stuff in another location made my restoring all those things much, much easier because—face it—can you remember all the credit cards and other things in your purse or wallet?
Find a copying machine today or snap those items with your phone’s camera. You can thank me later, though I hope you never have to.
When you think about visiting Napa in California’s wine country or spending a weekend in tony Newport, Rhode Island, don’t you naturally think of reaching out to the clothier called Brooks Brothers for help in making travel plans?
I know travel is a growing industry, but Brooks Brothers? I go there for shirts, not for tickets to the Kentucky Derby.
Turns out the clothier is now in the business of offering curated trips. In addition to the places I just mentioned, Brooks Brothers this year invited folks on its mailing list to turn to them for tickets to “The Elephant Man” on Broadway, to the British Open at St. Andrews, and jazz at the Lincoln Center.
Each of these offerings come with—or came with—other components. Three nights at the Auberge du Soleil in the case of Napa plus private dinners wine tastings, and a hot air balloon ride. That August offering costs $13,500 per couple, by the way.
If you’d used Brooks Brothers to attend the Derby, you’d have enjoyed VIP seating, private lunches, dinners, and a tour of the stables of a horse farm. Eight couples paid $15,000 each.
And I’m sure one of their stores would have been happy to dress you appropriately.
I ask that question because of the random killing earlier this month of a woman who was out for a stroll with her dad on the city’s touristed waterfront when a stranger shot her dead.
You probably heard about this because the suspect who was arrested was an illegal immigrant with a previous arrest record. And Donald Trump has made much of this killing in the context of his controversial comments about the failings of our immigration policies, to put it nicely.
This tragedy is proof that none of us can ever choose the time we want to die. It’s what Vanity Fair writer and former commercial pilot William Langewiesche tells people following an airline crash who ask him for reassurance.
Of course you’d visit San Francisco, just as you wouldn’t have given a thought to dropping something off at the federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19th, 1995. Or to visiting a friend in New York City’s Twin Towers on September 11th of 2001.
Life is random, but whatever conclusion we draw from that terrible event in San Francisco, it’s got nothing to do with the wisdom of living your life normally.
I recently took a gorgeous river cruise through Bordeaux as a guest of Viking River Cruises. You don’t go to the heart of French wine country without buying wine, but the otherwise terrific Viking staff advised American passengers we could only bring back two bottles.
That’s accurate—up to a point.
For years, I refrained from buying bottles of wine—especially expensive ones—to bring home to the US when I was in Europe. I knew I’d have to pay customs duty on any more than two bottles.
And that’s where the Viking staff was right: You can bring back two bottles . . . duty free. But in Italy years ago, I couldn’t help myself. I brought back a case, declared that to US Customs, and was stunned that I only had to pay a dime for every additional bottle, no matter its price.
Today, you’ll pay less than a dollar per bottle. So don’t be shy about asking a good wine store to put your three, six, 12, or whatever number of bottles in a sturdy box that can be checked as luggage on your homeward airline. I paid no Custom fees on my case of Bordeaux last week because the Custom’s official at the airport said the amount of duty really wasn’t worth collecting. He added, however, each US Customs’ office can exercise discretion in that regard.
Here’s a link to the US Custom’s rule on importing alcohol from abroad for personal use.