Iceland in November? That’s insane.

When I told people I was going to Iceland in November the general response was “oh my god, you’re going to freeze your ass off.” And I did. Was it worth it? You can bet your ass it was.

My Iceland trip couldn’t have come at a better worst time in my life. Feeling the strong onset of the “winter blues” mixed with stress at work, I needed a break. Per my usual method I booked my Contiki tour in July with intension of paying in increments up until my November departure. However, the summer turned into fall and I hadn’t made a dent. So dropping the final payment put a serious jam on my finances and turned my trip into a zero budget adventure. That being said when it came to pack, I realized that I was grossly under prepared for Icelandic winter weather and had no money to purchase the proper attire. So I set about packing as many layers as I possibly could into a very tiny carry on and prayed for a mild winter.

Recommended packing items:

  • Hot Hands
  • A decent camera for photos of the Northern Lights (I brought my Sony A6500)
  • Waterproof Gloves
  • Thermal Leggings and Top
  • Facial moisturizer
  • Sun Glasses

Tips for Packing:

  • Don’t be to stressed about different “cute” outfits. You’ll be wearing a jacket the whole time! No one will no that you’ve worn the same thing for four days. :p

 

Mexico City isn’t scary, it’s amazing

When planning for my trip to Mexico I was met with much concern from friends and family. Mainly because I was not going straight to the touristy beaches of Puerto Vallarta and Cancun. I started my trip in Mexico city. As a woman traveling alone (I met up with a group later) I was warned to stay vigilant, cary pepper spray, don’t stray from the beaten path, ect. Honestly I was nervous about Mexico City. Recently the news has been flooded with horror stories about kidnappings and murders in Mexico. So entering the city I was certainly on guard.

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Mexico city view from my hotel

But from the moment I touched down in MEX I felt nothing but compassion and kindness from the citizens I encountered. I quickly found that residents of Mexico city want to erase the stigma surrounding their historical, cultural and vibrant home. I felt safe walking around. I easily navigated the well kept streets and was helped by several friendly people. I also noticed there was a large police presence. Knowing around every block I could find a blue light or standing police officer eased my nerves.

Before traveling to Mexico I made friends with two others from my tour. We made plans to meet up for dinner. The three of us wandered through the city center and found an amazing Mexican Seafood restaurant called Chuchito Perez Roma. After struggling a bit with the language barriers we managed to order Mojitos, beers and lots of tacos! I sampled duck, chorizo and steak tacos. The food was so fresh and colorful. The waiters were hilarious and very patient with our terrible Spanish.

After dinner we explored the city a little more before heading to the rooftop of our hotel for a night cap.

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Where did I stay?

Best Western Royal Zona

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Where did I eat?

Chuchito Perez Roma

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The Perks of Traveling Christmas Day

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My journey to Mexico was one of the smoothest and most relaxing travel experiences I have ever had. The ease can be credited to United Airlines.

I started my trip in Richmond, VA. At 5am on Christmas morning the airport was a ghost town. I was the only person in line for security and my flight to Houston from Richmond was only half full.11205578_10153712355145813_6853964298982777333_n

In Houston I spend my three hour layover in the United Club Lounge. I used free passes earned from Visa travel credit card. In the club they provided free breakfast, wifi, private corners and comfy couches. The Houston club is humongous! It’s three stories, there are computer nooks, offices, showers, two bars, two buffets and a storage room. The lounge was crowded but it was much better then schlepping around the actual airport.

I headed to my gate about 45 minuets before boarding. While waiting the airline made several announcements that my flight was overbooked and they were looking for two people to give up their seats. They began by offer just a $200 certificate. But as time grew closer to boarding they upped the ante. At that point it was also announced that my original flight was delayed one hour.

So I offered up my seat. In return I received a $500 certificate, two meal vouchers, another United Club pass and a first class ticket on the next flight to Mexico city (only 45 minutes later). My original ticket only cost $190 so I profited $310!

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I had never flown first class before so I was super excited to have earned a free upgrade. I felt like a total ballllllller $$!$. My seat was huge and upon boarding I was offered wine and a hot towel. Throughout my flight I had three glasses of wine…hey it was free! Then dinner was served. Oh my goodness it was delicious. First class was absolutely fabulous.

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As a Christmas preent my dad bought me a car service transport from the airport to my hotel. He used a website called Blacklane to book the car. So upon exiting the terminal I was greeted by a chauffeur holding a sign with my name. He escorted me to the car and I was off to Mexico city center!

The eight hours of travel from Richmond to Mexico City were without a hick-up. I felt so refreshed when I finally arrived to my hotel that I was ready to take on Mexican nightlife right away!

Thank you United Airlines!

Contiki Day Songs; Travel and feel good music mega mix

Every morning on a Contiki tour when you bored the coach your tour manager will play a “Day Song”. A day song is meant as a welcome the group. It is intended to lift spirits, put you in a great mood and create a bond amongst tourmates. After my Contiki trips when ever I shuffle onto one of my “Day Songs” I immiedatly return to that time and place. Day songs really inspire life long memories.

Every tour has a different “Day Song”. They are choose by the tour managers and vary depending on country, activites, style and taste. But they all have a singular theme “live life”. Contiki’s moto is “No Regrets”. So it’s fitting that their “Day Songs” are about living, travel, love, life and friends.

I’ve reached out across the internet and polled fellow Contiki travelers about the “Day Song” from their tours in order to compile an epic playlist!

Here’s what I have so far:

  • Roll Out by Ludacris (USA Eastern Discovery 2015)
  • Raise a Glass by Pink (Simply Italy March 2011)
  • Galway Girl by Steve Earle (Ireland May 2012)
  • Home for a Rest by Spirit of the West (Great Britain & Ireland May 2010)
  • Runaway by Galantis (Mexico Grande December 2015)
  • What’s Up  by 4 Non Blondes (European Adventurer June 1995)
  • Over & Over by Smallpools (European Escapade June 2015)
  • It’s Nice to Be Alive by Ball Park City (Big Indochina Oct 2014)
  • Best Day of My Life by American Authors (Eastern Road Jul 2014)
  • The Only Place by Best Coast (California Highlights Aug 2013)
  • On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons (European Panorama 2013)
  • Gente Che Spera by Articlo 15 (Simply Italy Dec 2015)
  • Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars (Asian Adventure March 2015)
  • Fly Away by Lenny Kravist (London, Paris, Rome 2010)
  • In Colour by Shapeshifter (NZ Sweet as South 2014)
  • I gotta a Feelin by Black Eyed Peas (European Spirit 2009)
  • Thunderstuck by ACDC (North by Northeast 2010)
  • Hangover by Taoi Cruz (NZ Grand Explorer 2011)
  • Save Tonight by Eagle Eye Cherry (Ultimate European 2013)
  • Rather Be by Clean Bandit (Big Tiki NZ 2014)
  • Life is Beautiful by Time McMorris (Eastern Road 2015)
  • Happy by Pharrell (European Discovery April 2014)
  • Waves by Mr. Probz (European Highlights June 2014)
  • Waka Waka by Shakira (Argentina & Brazil 2012)
  • En Italia by Fabri (Simply Italy Mar 2013)
  • Let’s Live For Today by The Grass Roots (European Escapade 2013)
  • I lived by One Republic (European Experience 2014)
  • Glad You Came by The Wanted (NIGHT SONG) (European Experience 2014)
  • Gypsy by Lady Gaga (Greek Islands 2014)
  • Pompeii by Bastille (Simply Italy June 2013)
  • American by Lana Del Rey (Grand Southern USA 2015)
  • Good Time by Carly Rae Jepsen (California Highlights 2014)
  • Good Life by One Republic (London to Rome April 2013)
  • It’s Time by Imagine Dragons (Berlin, Vienna & Prague 2012)
  • Pursuit of Happiness (NIGHT SONG) (Berlin, Vienna & Prague 2012)
  • We are Young by Fun (Best of Europe 2014)
  • Time of our Lives (NIGHT SONG) (Best of Europe 2014)
  • This is How We Do by Katy Perry (California Highlights 2014)
  • In a World Like This by Backstreet Boys (Wild Western 2015)
  • The Night is Still Young by Niki Manaj (NIGHT SONG) (Wild Western 2015)
  • Mykonos by Fleet Foxes (Greek Island Hopper 2010)
  • Great Day by Lonley Island (Walkabout Aug 2013)
  • Pause by Plain White T’s (Eastern Escapade June 2015)
  • 1901 by Phoenix (Grand Southern July 2011)
  • Running Down a Dream by Tom Petty (NZ 1994)
  • One Life by Hedley (European Inspiration)
  • Mad Caddies by Leavin
  • If Today was your Last Day by Nickle Back
  • Island in the Sun by Weezer (Thai Island Hopper 2010)
  • Pass Out by Tiny Tempah (European Escapade 2011)
  • You Get What you Give by New Radicals (Ult.European 2001)
  • Give me Everything Tongith by Pitbull (Road to Athens 2011)
  • 5 Years Time by Noah and the Whale (2013)
  • You Only Live Once by Strokes (Eastern Escape Dec 2010)
  • Holiday by Dizzee Rascall (European Escapade April 2011)
  • Sandstorm by Darude (Berlin, Vienna, Prague July 2007)
  • Nothing Really Matters by David Guetta (Winter Discovery 2012)
  • Live While We’re Young by One Direction (Eastern Road 2014)
  • I Was Here by Beyonce (Grand Southern June 2013)
  • Victoria by The Kooks (England & Scottland Dec 2010)
  • Show Me Everything You’ve Got by The Rocket Summer (NZ Sweet as South 2009)
  • Brand New Day by Ryan Star (Rome to London Dec 2012)
  • Jump Right In by Zac Brown Band (Grand Southern 2010)
  • Living in The Moment (Thai Island Hopper East 2013)
  • Our Time is Now by Plain White T’s (Eastern Discovery 2010)
  • Slow Down by Selena Gomez (NIGHT SONG) (Road to Rome March 2015)
  • This Moment by Katy Perry (Asian Adventure 2015)
  • YOLO by Lonley Island (USA 2015)
  • Home by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros (Grand Souther April 2013)
  • Paperplanes by MIA (London, Scottland, Ireland 2009)
  • Born to be Wild by Stepphenwolf (Walkabout AU 1995)
  • Around the World by Red Hot Chili Peppers (West Coast USA 2008)
  • Traveling by Paper Lions (Best of Europe June 2008)
  • Ticket To Ride by The Beatles (London, Paris, Amsterdam 2010)
  • Califonia by Phantom Planet (California Highlights May 2007)
  • One Day Baby We’ll be Old by Asaf Avidan (Spanish Spree April 2015)
  • Trip The Light by Alicia Lemke (Croatian Island Hopper 2012)
  • Machu Pichu by The Strokes (Peru Uncovered  2010)
  • Applejack by The Triangles (Spanish Spree Aug 2012)
  • Viva La Vida by Cold Play (European Encounter November 2009)
  • Stay by James Blunt (Western Adventure June 2012)

Have one to add? Please comment and I will add it to the epic playlist!

Not all guides are created equal

All over Pinterest you can find packing guides for families and kids. Well here’s my adults only guide to packing for Disney. This guide includes some of my go to travel essentials for every vacation and also ones geared specifcially for Disney!

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1. Coalface Cleansing Charcoal Bar

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Heat and Humidity wreak havoc on my oil and acne prone skin. So I can’t go to Florida without my Charcoal Bar. This bar acts as both a exfoliator and cleanser. It greatly reduces oil, redness and the absolute best acne cleanser I’ve ever used.

2. Boots Botanics Rosewater Toner

 I’ve raved about this spritzer a thousand times. It is my go to travel essential. I will bring it in my day bag to Disney and spritz it on my face or neck when ever I need to cool down.suffer from occasional psoriasis so I use it to ease red, itchy and dry skin. Bring it on flights to keep your skin hydrated. It also cleans and tones the skin.

3. Handheld spritzing fan

I absolutely hate being hot.  So I’m bringing a pocket fan with me in my day bag. A MUST HAVE for Disney since there’s a lack of shade and crazy Florida heat.

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4. Body Glide for Her

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As a voluptuous lady when I mix heat, walking and shorts I suffer from chub rub. THE HORROR! The solution? Body Glide. It looks like a deodorant  stick, but it’s actually a moistening balm. Body Glide is made from all natural, plant-based materials. It acts a protective layer between your skin and irritants. Apply it in the morning and reapply throughout the day.

5. Sunglasses Straps

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Lily Pulitzer Sunglasses Strap

I live in my Ray Bans when I travel. If I lost my sunnies on a rollercoaster I would be devastated. To insure your glasses wont slip off at Disney it is essential to invest in a pair of Sunglasses Straps! I’m bringing an adorable strap from Lily Pulitzer that is featured above. You can find a wealth of options on Amazon.

6. Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport SPF

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Walt Disney didn’t believe in shade. So at Disney parks you’ve got to protect your skin. I love using Hawaiian Tropic brand sunscreens. The new “Sport” line holds its own against sweat and water and still has the amazing tropical smell of the classic brand. You can even find mini travel size bottles at target that are perfect for your day bag and carry-on luggage friendly.

7. Pimp out your MagicBand

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I love the idea of the new Disney MagicBands. It acts as a hotel key, credit card, reservation holder and your park ticket. They make you feel like a VIP. But they are butt ugly! Make your band for fashionable and stand out in the crowd by “pimping” your band! I used myfantasybands.com and got the gold glitter to go over my pink band. But there are hundreds of companies on Esty that focus on decking out you MagicBand with stickers, paint and more.

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8. Alcohol

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No good adult trip is complete without a bit of drunken mischief. But at Disney drinks can be very pricey! The solution? Bring your own booze! Disney allows you to bring basically any food or drink into the park as long as it’s not in glass. Obviously you can’t bring a bottle of Vodka. But you could sneak in your own spirits! For my trip I purchased these sneaky flasks. Each tube will hold two shots of my favorite beverage. No enough to get wasted, but should spice things up a bit! If you do this remember to drink responsibly and know your environment (don’t black out at Magic Kingdom in front of a ton of princess dressed six-year olds).

9. Waterproof Swimsuit Bag

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Wet Bag from Etsy

In order to make the most out of your trip go from the water park straight to magic kingdom by throwing your wet suit into a tiny wet bag. It seals in moister to protect your other belongings and it small enough to throw into your backpack.

10. Portable Charger

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Disney now has park-wide free wifi! So you will be able to use all your favorite applications. Which is sure to drain your cell phone battery. Since you most likely won’t find a free outlet (unless you want to pay Disney at their hourly charging station). Be sure to pack your own portable charger. You can buy cheap ones on Amazon.

11. Rain Poncho

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You could buy a “vintage” Disney Yellow Poncho on Etsy

One of the biggest cash cows at Disney are their rain ponchos. If it starts to sprinkle you will see hoards of families rushing into the stores to snatch up these (now clear) plastic beauties. Save yourself $10 and buy one in advance at the Dollar Store. You can find compact folded up ones that you can keep with you in your day bag.

12. Quick Dry Sport Towel

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I hate carrying around big bulky beach towels. Especially when I’m packing a carry-on only suitcase. Save room and invest in a thin and mighty Sport Towel. These towels are quick drying and ultra absorbent. Plus they’re compacts and lightweight which is perfect for traveling.

13. Hand Sanitizer
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Thousands of children mean millions of germs. Pack hand sanitizer and protect yourself.

14. Brita Sport Filter Water Bottle

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Disney now offers free ice water at every shop, restaurant and kiosk. Don’t buy bottled water! Bring your own bottle and fill it up. Save the earth and some major cash. I like the Brita Filter bottles. You can fill using regular tap water and rest assured that your water is filtered and clean.

15. Doterra Travel Kit

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I just invested in my first Essential Oils kit and I am excited to test them in the field! With a Travel Kit I can bring travel size morsels of all the best oils. It’s like walking around with an all natural pharmacy! I’m going to bring my On Guard, Breath Easy, Slim and Sassy, Deep Blue, Lemon, Frankincense, Peppermint and Lavender oils! All can cure most everyday ailments.

16. Grid It! Organizer (small)

207_xlargeWhen I’m traveling I like to know that everything I bring has its place. I don’t want to have to fumble through my bags searching for a pen, lip balm or hand sanitizer. That’s why I swear by my Grid It Organizers. I have them in all sizes. The small one is perfect for purses and the medium on is great for backpacks. Whenever I pull mine out people always comment on how cool it looks. Never loose your extra memory card, highlighter, or batteries ever again! Get organized and invest in a Grid It.

17. Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration

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So much good in one bottle

After spending all day in the sun your skin will need some serious TLC. I love the Hawaiian Tropics After Sun location. It smells like walking through a Hawaiian green house full of hibiscus flowers. It contains aloe vera which is great for cooling the skin and easing burns. You can purchase travel sized bottles at Target!

18. Lifeproof Case

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 5.29.01 PMI have the absolute worst luck with my cell phones when traveling. I drop them on rocks, loose them while kayaking, they get stomped on by horses, ect. Literally the worst luck! So I recommend investing in a powerful case like the Lifeproof. They are extremely durable, waterproof and strong. I like the Lifeproof because its slender and modern looking.

19.  Personalized Ears

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Find an adorable and unique pair of ears on Esty

Stand out from the crowd and get a better deal on ears before you get to the park. You can find Minnie and Mickey ears in every style and character inspiration on Etsy.com. I loves the Alice in Wonderland themed ones featured above!

20. Drawstring Backpack

shoppingAvoid terrible backpack tan lines and bring a drawstring bag with you.  If you’re a light packer this will be the best way to tote your goods. Find a lightweight, durable and waterproof one. Mine is a little more hight-tech then one pictured. You can find Drawstring bags that have zippers and pockets at athletic stores.

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There it is my adult’s packing guide to Disney. Have any items to add to the list? Let me know!

Drinking around the World

No matter how different every city in the world may be, in each city you can find yourself at home with the comfort of a cool drink and the company of an old friend or some new.

Most cultures have their own traditional alcoholic beverages. When traveling I think sampling local spirits can connect you to the new city.

I enjoy sipping wine in a cafe, tubing with a beer in hand, body shots and posh cock tails. Drinking can be both relaxing or energizing. I become more open to meeting new people, trying new things and communicating. Through my travels a single glass of wine has led to philosophical revelations, beers at a pub led to a new flame and mixers at a club led to leading a street dance party. Drinking has certainly influenced and shaped many of my most cherished memories.

Drinking responsibly has led to a majority of positive experiences. So I have decided to compile a list of my favorite beverages from cities around the world.

Richmond, Virginia USA: Angry Balls

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Angry Balls is my choice drink for camping, tail gates and country line dancing. This is my #MERICA drink. I don’t like beer so my go to pub drink is Hard Apple Cider. The Angry Balls cocktail is a combination of Angry Orchid Cider and Fireball Whiskey. It is spicy, full of flavor and is sure to heat your night up.

Orlando, Florida USA: John Daly

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The best way to cool off in the shade of a Florida palm tree is sipping a traditional Arnold Palmer. An Arnold Palmer is a nonalcoholic mix of Sweet Tea and Lemonade. When you add a splash of vodka the drink becomes a John Daly! This cool and refreshing drink is a deep South staple. Best served in a mason jar.

Waikiki, Hawaii USA: Sex on the Beach

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It was hard to choose just one drink when thinking about Hawaii. Runners up included Bahama Mama, Pina Colada and Blue Hawaiian. All go to staples for tropical vacations. But the ultimate partner for surf and sand is the Sex on the Beach. A mix of vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, and cranberry juice. The bright colors are reminiscent of sunsets over Mauna Kea.

Bangkok, Thailand: Singapore Sling

I was first introduced to the Singapore Sling on the flight from Singapore to Thailand. After traveling for nearly 36 hours I desperately needed some liquid energy so I ordered this pretty pink concoction. I was hooked. I tried Singapore Slings at each bar I went to throughout Thailand. The best one? From a place called Hippie Bar in downtown Bangkok.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Fish Bowl

Big Fish Bowl

Big Fish Bowl

Nothing says fun like a large literal fish bowl full of unknown spirits, blue syrup and cherries! The Fish Bowl style drink is meant to be shared with friends. In my experience you don’t need to purchase your own. Just wander around the bar with your own straw and people will offer you a sample of theirs! Several fish bowls, insane heat and loud music led to me starting a massive dance party on the main bar street in Phnom Penh!

Fish Bowl Induced Street Dance Party

Fish Bowl Induced Street Dance Party

Capri, Italy: Limoncello

Limoncello is a lemon liqueur from Southern Italy. It is bitter, sour and an acquired taste. I absolutely loved it. It reminded me of sucking on Lemonhead sour candies as a kid. The liqueur is severed typically as a shot between and after meals. I had a blast on my tour of Southern Italy because most people in my group didn’t like the flavor, so after each meal they gave me theirs! Shots, Shots, Shots!

Venice, Italy: Bellini

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Probably one of my favorite drinks from my travels is the Peach Bellini. First of all it combines two of my favorite things Prosecco sparkling wine and peach (purée or nectar). Try sipping a Bellini as you float through Venice on a romantic gondola.

Dublin, Ireland: Pear Cider

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When in Ireland I tried Guinness, of course. But I don’t like beer so for most of my trip I stuck to Hard Cider. I tried Pear Cider for the first time in Dublin and got hooked. There’s nothing like a few pints of cider in a dark Irish pub.

London, England: Apple Cider

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Drinking Cider at a graveyard pub

Throughout England I sampled local Hard Ciders whenever possible. It’s interesting to see the variations in color, crispness, and overall taste.

Paris, France: Rosé wine

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Wine tasting

Complex to produce and steeped in tradition Rosé wine is a must have in Paris. Not to sweet and not to dry Rosé wine is perfect to sip in a sunny cafe or take on a garden picnic. I’ve never been able to replicate the Rosé I found in Paris.

Denver, Colorado USA: Moscow Mule

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I first heard about the Moscow Mule from Cosmopolitan Magazine. They suggested that every refined lady should have “Go-To” drink. Something that you can order at a bar and show how refined and classy you are. So I decided my drink of choice would be the Moscow Mule. It’s made from Vodka, Ginger Beer and Lime Juice. Cold, spicy and strong this drink sure stands out in a crowd. The best I’ve had? Came from a restaurant in Denver called The Yard House.

A History of My Libations:

Conclusion: 

You can travel the world and you’ll never sample all, but at least you’ve tasted life.