Travel Writing

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It is impossible to stand on this hallowed ground and not feel something – there is a sense of awe but also of urgency – in the knowledge that this special human place will soon be gone but that it will also begin again as something new. This is S’Gang Gwaay, a village site of the Haida First Nations people, part of the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve at the southern tip of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These are the last remaining totem poles in a settlement that thrived for centuries 
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Aliso, Balboa, Crystal Cove and Huntington. With 42 miles of pristine beaches, Frommer’s has compared Orange County’s coast to the French Riviera and Costa Del Sol in the south of Spain. Endless blue skies, sun, sand and surf – there’s no denying the splendor of a summer day at our beaches. But with great white shark sightings in the double digits off the coast of San Clemente, this might be a good time to seek a different high. To paraphrase naturalist John Muir, “The mountains are calling and we must go.”

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Imagine what Beverly Hills was like in the heyday of Hollywood, from the ’20s to the ’60s. Perfectly turned-out stars, driving through the streets with the top down, sitting by the pool in hotel robes and corseted swimsuits.
So maybe the star system was inevitably suffocating, the studios making all of the decisions, creating gods out of mortals. But in this over-stimulated age, isn’t it nice to consider having a handler? Someone shaping your persona, making sure you are always impeccably put together, effectively squashing every faux pas before it happens. Consider this list a well-curated Run of Show, with you as the star. (All you have to do is hand this list to your assistant.)

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Training to work at Lukshon meant staff meals at Jitlada, Vietnamese food on Sawtelle and dim sum in the San Gabriel Valley. The celebrity chef instilled in his staff a sense of camaraderie and a hunger for the flavors of the East. We craved spicy sausage from Chiang Mai, rainbow-colored curries and Vietnamese coffee. So when Julie called me at my new desk job last July and said, “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?,” our palates, our pocketbooks and our taste for the unknown led us to Southeast Asia. The problem? We had 11 countries to choose from and only 14 days to spend there. Julie had an eye for boats, while I wanted elephants and waterfalls.

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Chasing the Heat to Palm Springs

Paul and I just couldn’t get it together. We’ve been dating for close to four years, and with opposite schedules, separate houses, and part time kids, being able to spend quality time alone wasn’t happening. Plans for the rare romantic dinner often turned into takeout and laundry. So when the miraculous happened and we had a week to ourselves, we decided to get out of town to get out of this rut. But where to?

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Solitary Spa Sabbatical at the Ojai Valley Inn

Psst. Hey you. Yeah, you. Drop that expense report. Step away from the emails. Stop whatever it is that you’re doing. If you’ve packed a lunch, picked up a client, the dry cleaning or the tab on tuition this week, this article is for you.

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Anytime is Toronto Time

Picture this: I’m lying in the soaker tub in my corner suite at the Delta Hotels Toronto, Canada, bathed in hot water with bubbles up to my neck. The smell of fig and sandalwood permeates the room and over the white porcelain lip of the tub I can see the CN Tower through the floor to ceiling windows. 

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Rediscover a Sense of Wonder in Argentina and Peru

Watch the couple as they move together, their bodies pressed tight, their faces only inches apart. It’s so intimate that you lower your eyes to catch their whirling feet, stamping to the beat of the music you can feel like a sexual ache in your own body. This is tango. The audience breaks into applause around you as the waiters weave through the tables pouring wine into half-empty glasses, the patrons waving thick cuts of steak speared on the ends of silver forks, plates smeared with blood.

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Ulitmate Uncruise

The Baja California Peninsula in Northwestern Mexico has beckoned Orange County surfers and outdoor adventure seekers to its beaches since the ’60s. Young people in patterned ponchos searching for the perfect wave and abalone as big as your head. You sat around an open fire under the stars, fighting over the last Tecate pull tab and commiserating over how your parents just didn’t understand.

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The Hunt For Sakura

I want to see the phenomenon of cherry blossom season in person for a reason far more sinister to the Japanese: tattoos. I love tattoo art incorporating traditional Japanese aesthetics, such as the images that made Costa Mesa’s Don Ed Hardy famous. Hardy was one of the first Westerners to study in Japan under traditional tattoo artists, learning the ancient art of Irezumi or “inserting ink.” Read the full story>>

It's High Time for Tea at The Georgian

You could say that my grandmother gifted me with a thing for glamour and the Golden Age of Hollywood. And tea. So when I saw that The Georgian Hotel was offering high tea on its veranda in the heart of Santa Monica, I couldn’t wait to try it. Read the full story>>

Everything is Funner at Harrah's Resort SoCal

You must have seen the commercials for this place by now, where David Hasselhoff flies out of the sky on a rocket of himself, carves his likeness into a block of cheese and then stands on a waterfall in a pristine white tux, the air full of turtle doves. Yes, the Knight Rider, Baywatch’s original Mitch Buchannon, is the mayor of Funner. Read the full story>>

Monarch Bay Beach Club: Better Than Locals Only

From all manner of water sports to falconry demonstrations and fireside ukelele lessons, this private beach club has it all. Read the full story>>

©2017 BY AMANDA FLETCHER.