Wednesday, January 27, 2016


       When I heard about the Caffeine Crawl I knew this was for me. I love coffee; a chance to taste the best java from the top brewhouses in town sounded perfect. There is a third wave of coffee going around the country; I wanted to learn more about it. Techniques called pour-over and cold brewing, and terms like organic-fair trade have become popular. The new oficionados are purists who believe their coffee should sit on its own, without cream or milk.

       James Burton, a marketing specialist, launched the first Caffeine Crawl in Kansas City in 2011. They have now expanded to 15 cities across the US, including San Diego where the third annual crawl was held on January 21-23, 2016.

      There were 21 local coffee houses participating and ten routes to choose from. I signed up for a Saturday morning #3 route that included visits to six locations. The first five were within a couple miles of each other; however, parking was a challenge at a few of them. The final, Bay Park Coffee, was about 6 miles away, but worth the drive.

      There were about twenty-five in the group, but we lost a few at the end—I expect that's what happens at pub crawls as well. It started at 9 ended at 12:30—each stop lasted 25-30 minutes with ten minutes in between. It moved fast, and didn't allow much time for lingering. However, I came away with some new favorite coffee shops to revisit. I'm not sure if my appreciation of Starbuck's will ever be the same again.

       Here are the places on my route, in the order we visited them:

Cafe Moto, (2619 National Avenue) is located in Barrio Logan, one of the oldest neighborhoods of San Diego. They have a convenient parking lot for customers. The kickoff took place in their warehouse where we were surrounded by hundreds of burlap bags full of beans from all over the world. This was also the roasting area. There was plenty of hot and cold coffee to enjoy, and delicious pastries as well. After a presentation, we were given goody bags, and the raffle winners were announced. The time passed quickly.

       Next, we all headed to our cars for the short drive to Ryan Brothers (1894 Main St) which is also located in Barrio Logan. I arrived just in time to hear Tom Ryan's informative presentation in the warehouse. First, he gave us an explanation of the roasting process while the roaster machine was doing the work. He said that if the machine broke down, they have only 24 hours before they run out of coffee. We also had the opportunity to smell some wonderful coffee bean aromas from dozens of large barrels—ranging from floral to chocolate. We finished with three coffee tastings, and a sweet heavy specialty of the house as well. We all left with free coffee mugs, and bottles of their new Raceway cold coffee line. Cold brew is brewed cold and stands at room temperature for at least 12 hours; the result is lower acidic levels and a more mellow brew.

      Dark Horse Coffee Roasters, (811 25th Street) was our next stop. It's located in Golden Hill where I arrived a little late. I parked more than a block away, but it was a pleasant walk past some interesting old homes of Golden Hill. We were served a Dark Horse cold coffee with ice cream which was delicious.
      Next – two coffee houses in Little Italy, about a block apart.

      Bird Rock Coffee Roasters (2295 Kettner Blvd) is a lively corner shop in Little Italy we were given a presentation about the company and its single-origin coffees. We were treated to a sample La Esmeralda Panama that was named as one of the best coffees of 2016 by Good Food Awards. Bird Rock was also awarded Roast Magazines 2012 “Micro Coffee Roaster of The Year.”

      James Coffee Co (2355 India St) is the only place that I had previously visited, and had the privilege of enjoying, for the first time, a pour-over coffee. I was pleased to see that they were demonstrating the process for the Caffeine Crawlers and giving us samples. Pour-over is a slow-drip single cup of coffee, made to order, where hot water is slowly and delicately poured over freshly ground beans.

       There is a guitar sitting next to the coffee roaster (they roast all of their beans in-house) which belongs to co-owner David Kenney, rock star and former guitarist of Angels & Airwaves. He switched to the sounds of the coffee roaster and started James Coffee in 2012. He was available to answer our questions.
      Bay Park Coffee (4120 Napier St.) was the final stop of the tour. Here we could linger over the many samples of coffee and tea available to us. I even had time to seek out cream for my final cup of java for the day.
      I also learned about medicinal teas from the owner, Erica, who recommended drinking three cups of tea a day to stay healthy. I was happy to sample a good-sized cup of the Rooibos Tea because it is caffeine-free, and it just might help me shake this cold I can't get rid of.

        I drove home thinking about what a great time I had, and was reminded again the next morning as I sipped my coffee from the Ryan Bros mug with their motto on it:
                                       “Life is too short to be bitter.”

Thursday, January 21, 2016


       Travel shows are where travel lovers come for inspiration, insight, and expert information and to hear celebrity speakers. The 2016 San Diego Travel & Adventure Show, January 16-17, once again provided all of this and more. With over 140 exhibits, four travel stages, and a global beats music stage, deciding where to spend my time was a challenge.

                                                  * * *

       Here are some of the best TRAVEL TIPS I gathered from the experts: 
       Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter, producer and CBS news travel editor, Peter Greenberg, flies 400,000 miles a year. He is not shy about speaking up when the airlines, hotels and others treat the public unfairly. Here are some TIPS from his fantastic presentation.
      Airline Points: There are 18 trillion unredeemed frequent flyer miles. His advice: REDEEM THEM. They lose value every day.
      Hotel bookings: Everything is negotiable; his advice it to call the manager on duty directly to get a good rate, or some free incidentals like parking or resort fees. Always get the individual's name for verification. If a hotel fails to disclose a charge, you don't have to pay it.
      Online bookings: Peter is a real fan of “having a conversation.” He is fine about doing your research online; however, when it comes to booking, he likes to do it with a real person because they have far more information available to them. We see only about half of available inventory online.
      He is also a strong believer in talking to the local people at a destination to find out what's going on. The people who live there know the most. His motto: it's more important to be interested than interesting. Always ask “Why?”
      Airlines: He frequently hears complaints about the airlines these days; however, when someone complains he asks them: Did you get from point A to point B? Did you get there alive? If the answer is yes to both questions, he tells them they had a good flight. In other words, keep your expectations low.
      Connection time: He warned that it's important to allow plenty of time between flights. He recommends 90 minutes to two hours on domestic and four hours when flying internationally.
      What do you do if you get to the gate and your flight is delayed or canceled (not due to weather or “acts of God”)? If it's a major airline you can evoke the FAA Rule 240. It mandates that an airline with a delayed or canceled flight has to transfer passengers to another carrier if the second carrier could get passengers to the destination more quickly than the original airline.
      TSA: Always avoid the line that has two individuals instead of one looking at the computer screen where the bags are scanned. This is because one of them is a trainee and it will take more time.
      Baggage: If you check bags, and especially if you pack valuables like cameras, electronics, and new purchases, always open the bag at the conveyer belt before leaving the airport to make sure nothing has been stolen. Commonly thieves open the bag, remove the items, and then close it again so you won't notice until it's too late. Better yet, don't pack valuables.

                                             * * *                                                                                                                                                                                          
      Patricia Schultz, author of the best sellers 1,000 Places to Go Before You Die and 1,000 Places to See in the USA & Canada is always a delight to listen to. (She was advised not to use the word die in the title-I guess she proved the editors wrong.) She has the gift of making every place she talks about sound “Oh, so enticing.”
She had great things to say about Scandinavia, especially Norway, with its fjords, describing it as the most beautifully endowed of the Scandinavian countries. She loves Italy, her favorite city is Venice. She said that her Italian mother had a lot to do with her love of Italy and life, although she credits her German father for instilling a hard-work ethic required to write books. 

                                                      * * *    

      For photography tips, award-winning photographer, Ralph Velasco, was the guy to listen to. His presentation was full of practical ideas without getting high tech. He has led over fifty small group cultural tours around the world with an emphasis on photography. His latest ebook is titled Essence of a Place: A Travel Photographer's Guide to Using a Shot List for Capturing Any Destination.
#1 Travel Tip: Spend more time on travel and less money on gear.
      Backgrounds: He shared a number of his photos on an overhead screen and frequently pointed out the importance of using the background to provide a sense of place—this is especially important when taking portraits and selfies.
      Shot List: Prepare a shot list ahead of time. It is basically a plan for taking photos in a variety of categories. This will make your photo books and slideshows more interesting. For more information, he offers a free app titled My Shot List for Travel (available only on IOS devices at this time).
      Other Ideas:
--Always stop, look, recognize, and then shoot; don't forget to turn around and look behind you.
--Manipulate the landscape. Take photos in both landscape and portrait mode to see which is preferable.
--Download and back up your photos nightly.
--Have a theme in mind when taking photos—you are more likely to see something if you are looking for it.
--Don't just take photos—allow time to have fun and enjoy the place through the mind's eye.
--Learn from your mistakes.
--Share your photos when you get back.
--If you don't like getting up early you should become a writer.

                                                     * * *
      One last tip from me: Visit the exhibitors early in the day before they run out of freebies like candy, pens, and bags and don't forget to enter all of the contests—you might win a free trip.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


I'll be joining hundreds of coffee lovers of San Diego this weekend for the third annual Caffeine Crawl. There are a variety of routes offered January 22 to January 24, 2016 and we'll be visiting some of the best coffee shops in Southern California.

Come and join us for presentations, chocolate, tea and loads of caffeine. For a full schedule of events, costs, and participating coffee businesses visit

-List of Participating Shops-
Bay Park Coffee                           
Bean Bar
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters
Cafe Moto
Cafe Virtuoso Coffee Roasters
Caffe Calabria Coffee Roasting Co.
Coffee & Tea Collective
Copa Vida
Dane Coffee Roasters at Subterranean Coffee Boutique
Dark Horse Coffee Roasters
David Bacco Chocolatier
Eclipse Chocolate
InterAmerican Coffee
James Coffee Co.
Ryan Bros. Coffee
The West Bean Coffee Roasters
Banana Dang Coffee
Coffee Coffee

Wednesday, January 6, 2016



   When my daughter and Classy Career Girl founder, Anna, asked if I would write a guest post for her website I was honored, and a bit perplexed as to how this vintage traveler could be of interest to young and ambitious Classy Career Girl readers. I started thinking about the many places I've traveled to, and the ones that are still calling me back for a more leisurely vintage visit. Here are the Top Six:

       I visited Trondheim (pop. 170,000), Norway, in 1967, when I was traveling through Europe with friends on $5 a day. Here, I met my grandmother's sister—her only living sibling at that time. She gave me a bracelet that I still cherish. My grandmother, Anna, left Norway for the U.S. in the late 1800s. She never returned and never saw her sister again. This wasn't unusual back in those days. They kept in touch by writing letters. Since my ancestors came from here, I would like to return for a week in the warmth of the summer, exploring the old harbor city with its wooden houses on the River Nidelva, and meeting distant cousins.

      A city that I've been to many times and would return to again in a heartbeat is New York. I can walk for miles along the crowded streets to view a fascinating mix of modern and historic architecture, and 19th century brownstones, along tree-lined streets. With a population of 8.5 million—37% foreign-born, and dozens of parks, rivers, museums, theaters, skyscrapers, restaurants, there is never a shortage of things to explore. It's hectic and I'm always ready to leave, but there's something special about New York that keeps calling me back.

        We visited Greece, about ten years ago in April, a delightful time of year to be there. It was off season, and we could ride the ferries to enjoy the uncrowded islands of Santorini and Mykanos at our leisure. With over 1,200 islands, mountains, and the 11th longest coastline in the world, this is truly an enchanted region for a long and casual vintage revisit.

      Another spot that I have fond memories of is a small town in the Dolomites of northern Italy called Castelrotto—located near the wonderful Alpe Di Siuse which is the largest high altitude alpine meadow in Europe. It offers easy hikes, historic nearby villages, wonderful scenery, wineries, and reasonably priced bus and train passes to explore South Tyrol. Yes, that's an area I would go back to frequently, given a chance.
 Where else?
  Once we spent a couple of nights in Amalfi on the western coast of Italy, just below Naples. I said at the time, I would like to return to the place we stayed at, with a balcony overlooking the turquoise sea, and then jump a coastal train to the southern tip of Italy. That was about twenty years ago, and it still hasn't happened. However, the watercolored postcards of Amalfi, that I have hanging in my bedroom, will ensure I won't forget about this destination.

      Finally, I will return to the chalet ($64 per night) perched on a mountain above Gunten, Switzerland, overlooking the Thunersee—a place we recently visited. This I could do every June for the rest of my life and not tire of it. Hopefully, I'll be hiking on the nearby trails, just as the locals do, well into their nineties. Switzerland is known for its high cost, however, we found reasonable grocery, beer and wine prices at the Coop City in Thun. Our lodging included a free bus pass with unlimited travel in the area.

       These are my brief words of travel wisdom for followers of the “Classy Career Girl”—those special women who are working everyday to make their lives better. We can all grow, and frankly life keeps getting better. Most importantly, if you wish to travel, as my father use to say, “Go while you can.

      "Don't pass up any opportunities that come your way—some of them only come once in a lifetime."        -The Vintage Mom


Sunday, January 3, 2016



Happy New Year to all. We spent the holidays home and enjoying our apartment on the San Diego Bay and were blessed with visits by our children, grandchild and nephew – we are all healthy and look forward to another year.
The sun is rising over the Coronado Bridge, the sky is a light pink and purple with a silhouette of mountains in the distance. The bay is calm. Looking north is the San Diego skyline. It will change throughout the early hours until the sun totally rises. A reminder that we are blessed with another new day.