The 10 Best Gifts for the Jetsetter in Your Life

The holidays are here!!! And I, for one, could not be more excited. I've spent the past week decorating the tree, watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, listening to christmas music nonstop, and of course, baking lots of cookies. Baking might be my favorite activity (after traveling), followed closely by another favorite holiday pastime... shopping. Is there anything better than picking out the perfect present for your loved ones? It's the season of giving, and I'm here to help. Here are my top holiday gifts for people who love to wanderlust.

Pictured: passport case, bon voyage pillow, suitcase, scarf, tote, and sunglasses 

1. Bric's Luggage

I am absolutely obsessed with this new luggage brand. The quality is unbeatable and these pieces of luggage will last a lifetime. Not to mention they are beautiful and so, so classy.

Buy here: Bric's Life Bellagio 30" Spinner
Bric's Bellagio 18" Boarding Duffle with Handle Sleeve (Cream)
Bric's Luggage Life Pelle New 4 Wheels Pilot, Cognac

2. Bon Voyage Throw Pillow

Because how cute is this? Retails for $100 and it's on sale on Amazon for $17.50!
Buy here: Bon Voyage Pillow

3. A great passport cover

Every traveler needs a great passport cover.  This is one of my favorite gifts to give around the holidays.  Here are some of my favorites:

Kate Spade Leather Passport Holder Blue Hydrangea

Kate Spade New York Passport Holder Rose Gold
Fossil Passport Case, Air Blue

4. The perfect leather tote

 I recently was gifted a beautiful monogrammed leather tote and I have to say it is one of the best gifts I've eve received. These totes are good for the busy girl who is always on the go.

Michael Kors Jet Set Travel Tote

Mark & Graham Elisabetta Tote (this is the one that I own!)
Tote Bag, Pearlized Silver 
BCBG Paris Tote Black

5. A 2016 Travel Calendar!

Shameless plug here but I created a beautiful travel calendar full of landscape photos that I've taken of beautiful scenery all over the world! It would make the perfect accessory to any jetsetter's office or home. 
Buy at my store here

6. A Gold Compass Necklace

How perfect is this necklace for anyone that loves to travel? Dogeared makes some great (and affordable) jewelry, and they are always some of my favorite gifts to give and receive. My best friend in the whole world got this necklace for me before I studied abroad, and to this day it was one of the most thoughtful, meaningful gifts I've ever received. 

7. A great bottle of California wine

I love to give people who love to travel a little taste of my home in California. Whether they've been to Napa Valley before, and are missing it, or whether they just dream of winetasting there,  Napa is a great place to start when it comes to Christmas gifts...  Your friends and family will think you got it straight from the winery - but you can actually easily order one of my very favorite wines- Grgich Hills- online on Amazon!
2012 Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay 
2012 Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
2011 Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Zinfandel 
2013 Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Fumé Blanc 

8. A travel set of their favorite beauty products

I love the Jack Black "Power Trip" set for stuffing my boyfriend's stocking. It has everything they need for their Dopp Kit in a cute little power-trip pack.
Jack Black Power Trip Travel Set

9. An ideal-for-airplane-travel infinity scarf

It keeps you warm at high altitude and makes any airport outfit look great. These are my go-to when traveling on long flights.
Womens Thick Ribbed Knit Winter Infinity Scarf 
Plush Women's Plaid Infinity Scarf, Black/Red
Wrapables Lightweight Silky Soft Infinity Scarf, Turquoise 

10. A giftcard to their favorite airline!

Because what traveler doesn't want an excuse to take a trip somewhere!?
Southwest Airlines Gift Card $100
Hyatt $100 Gift Card

Happy shopping (and jetsetting!!) xoxo,
Shop Now on Amazon

Crazy about Croatia

With approximately 1,200 islands, sparkling azure water, and picturesque medieval villages full of history and charm, it's no wonder Croatia is on every traveler's bucket list
The stunning view from the fortress of Hvar

In fact, Croatia was recently named as the Mediterranean's fastest growing tourist destination, as more and more people each year flock to its pristine national parks, beautiful beaches, and the medieval Old Town of Dubrovnik. The immense popularity of HBO's hit TV series, Game of Thrones, has boosted this country's tourism as well, as the show highlights the majestic beauty of old town Dubrovnik, the shooting location for Game Of Thrones's King's Landing. 

So, if this country mixes the historical charm of Italy with the beautiful beaches of Greece, why is it the world is just starting to hear about this gem on the Dalmatian Coast? 

Well, here's a quick crash course in Croatian history: After a rich history dating as far back as 11 B.C. (as part of the Roman Empire), Croatia became its own kingdom in 925 A.D., after which it went through many mergers and acquisitions, ending in 1918, after the end of World War I and the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, resulting in Croatia joining Serbia in the forming of Yugoslavia. 
Yugoslavia, however, began to fall apart in uprising and civil war resulting from the country's adoption of communism in the mid to late 20th Century. With a weak economy, cracks in the Yugoslav system began to grow, and Yugoslavia became severely divided. 

When Croatia finally declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Serbs living in Croatia declared their own independence from Croatia, making civil war inevitable. The war that followed lasted until 1995 and was a territorial battle among Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians - characterized as the bloodiest and most horrific event in Europe since WWII. Today, almost 2 decades later, the strength of this country is seen in its miraculous ability to bounce back from this dark period of its history. Most of the Croatian coastline remained amazingly untouched during the war, and the aged, multicolor brick roofs seen in the seaside towns tell a beautiful story of having survived centuries of invading powers. In Dubrovnik, however, the noticeably brighter orange roofs tell a different story, having been replaced after the Dubrovnik bombings in 1991. Today, the country's history just adds to its allure, and the war damage is completely unseen, leaving behind stunning coastlines, charming towns, and a wonderfully unique european culture. 

So, you're into history, beautiful sparkling blue water and medieval architecture mixed with some wine country and delicious food? Let's plan your next trip. 

Where should I go?
Dubrovnik is a must see. Jutting out on a chunk of Dalmatian coastline, the city walls of Dubrovnik are nothing short of spectacular. The bad news? Dubrovnik is no longer anyone's best-kept-secret, as the Old Town is gridlocked with tourists during the summer. The good news? Travel in the spring or fall to miss the tourists, or simply walk the city walls first thing in the morning (they open at 8am), when you can beat the crowds.

Wow, wow, wow was all any of us could think about this place, which ended up impressing us so much that we all unanimously called it the best destination we visited this summer. Hvar is a beachy town, with gorgeous islands a 5 minute water taxi ride away. But beaches aren't the only thing this town has to offer. Have you seen the view from the fortress?? If you're going to Croatia, do not miss out on Hvar.

Fortress-ing high above Hvar
Alert the masses. Add it to your travel list. Tell everyone you know.... I found heaven on earth. Palmizana island, a short water taxi away from Hvar port, is a yachter's paradise. Palmizana not only has picture-perfect seaside beach chairs lining it's unbelievably turquoise blue water, but also delicious fresh mediterranean eateries and Veuve-Cliquot-branded VIP lounges scattering the island... Boom. You're Beyonce on the beach.

The Most Beautiful Waterfalls You'll Ever See: 
Krka National Park or Plitvice Lakes National Park
Thanks to a jagged coastline and mountains rich with rivers, waterfalls thrive in this beautiful country.  Plitvice Lakes National Park in particular is world-famous for it's pinterest-worthy waterfalls, making it indisputably one of the top attractions in the country. Krka is just as wanderlust-worthy with its stunning falls. Take your pick, you can't go wrong.  

Arena Pula
Into history? You can't miss this one. The Arena in Pula, Croatia is the only remaining Roman amphitheater to have four side towers and all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved. It was constrcuted in 27 BC-68 AD and is among the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the world. It is also the most popular (and arguably most beautiful) ancient monument in Croatia.

Things to do in Dubrovnik

Walk the city walls
Have you ever seen views like this anywhere else in the world? The old town of Dubrovnik is something out of a storybook, and walking the walls you are presented with gorgeous views of both the town and the Adriatic. The walk takes about 1.5 hours and you won't want to forget your camera. 

Have dinner in the square
You've never seen a weekday night like they do in Dubrovnik. With masses of locals eating (late!) dinners in the square of old town, it's hard not to wish our society was a little less work obsessed and a little more on-permanent-vacation like the Croatians are. It is so much fun to people watch, as the square is clearly THE place to be at night. The food is delicious and fresh pretty much anywhere, so just walk around, pick a good spot, and enjoy the lively atmosphere. 

Have a Drink... On the Rocks
Cafe Buza, continuously ranked as one of the most scenic bars in the world, is hard to find, but well worth it for the best sunset view in town. The best way to get there is to go behind the Church of St. Blaise and to keep walking past Hemingway bar, past the Cathedral, then pick a little side street and walk towards the wall facing the Adriatic sea and Italy. When you hit the wall keep walking along it until you reach a door. At this point, you can go left or right, and either way will take you to one of the two Buza bars- slightly different spots, I preferred the one further down, so keep going after you see the first spot. Great views either way. 

Go to Wine Country
Peljesac peninsula is the place where some of Croatia's finest wines are cultivated and there are many tour companies who will take you there on a day, or weekend trip to visit many family-owned Croatian wineries. It is about 1 hour outside of Dubrovnik. Fun fact: one of my very favorite wineries in Napa, Grgich Hills, is made by the famous winemaker Mike Grgich, who hails from Croatia. 

See the City from Above on the Cable Car
There is a cable car, a short 10 minute walk from the old town, that will take you straight up the hillside to a beautiful vantage point overlooking the entire city. Highly recommend doing this.

Kayak around Dubrovnik
This was one of my favorite things we did while in Dubrovnik, as the water is just gorgeous and the coastline so amazing. Take a tour or rent your own Kayak, either way, you'll love your day on the Adriatic. 

Have any of you been to Croatia? What are your must-sees? I would love to hear about it in the comments! 

Follow along my travels on instagram @jetsetchristina 

My 25th Birthday Party: Renting Out an SF Cable Car!

This past weekend, I rang in my 25th birthday in true SF style - on a traditional cable car!! And I just have to tell you all about it, because I'm convinced that this is THE way to celebrate any special occasion if you're visiting, or live in, the beautiful city of San Francisco.

Events West runs two party trolleys that can fit up to 40 people for 4 hours, including an open bar. The prices are pretty great, and you even have the option to upgrade to more premium shelf liquor if you want to.  Once you book your trolley (they book up about 2 months in advance usually for weekends!) and invite your guests, you can decide on where you want your cable car to take you... for my party, we wanted ample driving around time (to take advantage of that open bar) but also to go to some bars that we normally don't get the chance to go to - so we chose the Starlight Room (a swanky bar at the top of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, famous for it's sweeping views of the city and it's classy cocktails), and Bruno's in the Mission (famous for it's great dance floor & DJ).  Events West made the whole night an absolutely perfect birthday celebration, with their amazingly fun and professional crew on board (our super bartender Rhonda, our awesome driver Ed, and our fantastic host Constance, who I hope you all get the chance to work with if you have your party on a trolley!) 

After exploring the city via our cable car (read: riding throughout the city waving to onlookers and blasting our pop playlist over the trolley's loudspeakers), we made our way to the Starlight Room. Having been here before, I knew it would be the perfect place for my birthday night. The nighttime views of SF are nothing short of magical, and the swanky lounge mixed with a classy dance floor overlooking the lights of the city was just perfect for our group. The service was also impeccable, the drinks were delicious, and the DJ was a highlight of everyone's night, playing all of our requests and getting everyone dancing. Almost no one on the trolley, despite being from San Francisco, had been to this bar (since it's an uber away, in the more touristy part of the city), making it really special and causing us all to say "How do we not come here all the time! We're coming back next weekend!"
Gotta love the Starlight Room dance floor with these views

From the Starlight Room, we made our way to Bruno's in the Mission, which was also such a blast. You can rent out an upstairs area of Bruno's if you want a private party, or just dance with the masses in the downstairs bar, which was really really fun. Shoutout to our trolley driver, Ed, and our amazing host, Constance, who made sure that we got to Bruno's in good time but also had just enough time driving around SF (because, after all, that is the most fun part of the night!!)

After both those stops, our four hour party on the festive cable car was coming to a close, so we had the driver Ed drop us off at The Dorian, one of our go-to spots in the Marina... where of course we hit up the photo booth. 

If you're planning a celebration in San Francisco soon, rent a cable car/bar!  There's really no better SF experience :)
Thank you for such a memorable night Events West, Starlight Room, Bruno's and of course, The Dorian. Made my birthday a night to remember!!! 

Montenegro: Europe's Next Big Hotspot

If you have been following my instagram, you know I just got back from a two week European cruise to Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece. One of my very favorite spots was Montenegro. This small Balkan country has everything! Medieval villages, rugged mountains, and a picturesque coastline spotted with gorgeous beaches that rival any of its mediterranean neighbors. I fell in love with this captivating country in just one day, and I have no doubts that you will too. So, here is my go-to guide to your perfect day in Montenegro.

Step 1: Arrive By Sea
One of the most jaw-dropping things you will see on your trip to the Dalmatian Coast is the fjords of Montenegro. If you're thinking Fjords? I thought those were only in Norway and Iceland? , you're not alone. I thought the same thing before visiting Montenegro, but was quickly corrected that in fact the Bay of Kotor, a stunning maze of sea inlets, is Europe's southernmost Fjord, and home to the beautiful city of Kotor.

Step 2: Explore the medieval town of Kotor & Hike to the top of the Castle of San Giovani
As you sail through the Bay of Kotor, you'll reach the end of the bay, home to arguably Montenegro's most famous town, Kotor. It looks like a typical coastal town until you see up close that it's surrounded by medieval city walls, built by the Venetians to protect it from invaders. If you're up for the climb, these five kilometer long stone walls run right into the steep hillside above the town, offering incredible panoramic views across the entire Bay of Kotor. The hike is pretty treacherous-- you'll be climbing approximately 1,350 stairs to a height of 4000 feet!! It will take you around two hours to get up and back, and is a fantastic workout to start off your day. Don't forget to bring your camera! 
After your hike, walk the town! It's a walled city that feels as if you're stepping back in time, and there are lots of cafes and shops to explore. 
The view from the steep hike to the top of the Castle San Giovani

Step 3: Hop in a cab to Budva

Getting the right cab driver here is key. The right driver will know all of the gorgeous spots to stop at as you're driving the coast of this beautiful country, and they'll fill you in on all of the rich culture and history in Montenegro on the way. For example, did you know that the Montenegrans are the 2nd tallest people in the world? After the dutch. They also play a LOT of water polo (and they're very good at it) and will often play right in the ocean instead of in a swimming pool, since there are very few waves and the salt water provides extra buoyancy. Having grown up a swimmer/water polo player myself I thought that was very cool. 
Here are some of the views we saw on the way to Budva of the town and beaches. 

Budva is a seaside town on the other side of the mountain from Kotor, and it's at most a 40 minute drive from each town to the other. In Budva, you'll find gorgeous beaches and restaurants and shops, making it a perfect spot to swim and relax for a couple hours in the middle of the day. We stopped here on our way to Sveti Stefan and are so glad that we did.

Step 4: Eat lunch at the Olive Cafe on Sveti Stefan

Aman Sveti Stefan is a luxurious coastal resort that takes over a small island off the coast of Montenegro. Look at this island. How can you not be completely captivated by it?
 Researching where to go in Montenegro, I just KNEW I had to see it. Only one problem. This resort has 24/7 guards guarding the bridge and only allowing the guests onto the resort. And by guests, it means the people paying upwards of 2k a night. Oh, and famous tennis player Novak Djokovic, who, in between holding world records in tennis and often being ranked #1 singles mens tennis player worldwide by ATP, held his wedding at this beautiful resort. So, what are the rest of us to do when we are just dying to see it? Well, there is a beach that is accessible to the rest of us who aren't athletes or celebrities, and it, my friends, is SO beautiful. However, if you want to lay on this beach, it's going to cost you. 75 euro per person. That's a lot for a beach! Worth it? 
Not in my opinion. So what do you do? Eat at the stunning restaurant on the beach overlooking the resort.

The Olive restaurant directly overlooks the island with a prime view of the beach, the resort, and the sea. It's extensive outdoor seating, luxurious restaurant decor and its amazing staff will provide the perfect setting for a delectable mediterranean meal by the sea. I had told the restaurant we'd be visiting for the first time and we were greeted by the wonderful manager, Misko, who was an amazing representation of the friendly Montenegran culture. From the moment we sat down, so much attention to detail was given to the entire experience of the meal. From the perfect positioning of every outdoor table to have a gorgeous view of the island, to the highly trained waiter anticipating our every need. The food was quite possibly the best I had on my entire trip to Europe, and was very reasonably priced. The melt-in-my-mouth fresh fish was the highlight of the meal. We also had shrimp that was to die for, bread with tzaziki, farm-fresh greek salads and, of course, a delicious chilled bottle of summery Montenegran white wine. It was a perfect meal. I cannot recommend this restaurant (and its staff) highly enough. 

Step 5: Enjoy a sunset cocktail overlooking Sveti Stefan

The Olive restaurant also has the BEST sunset view in all of Montenegro.. With plenty of outdoor tables & delicious drinks to enjoy it. I mean, look at this picture taken at Olive. Does it get any prettier?

There you go. A PERFECT day in Montenegro! I hope you'll visit this beautiful country soon, because it is so wonderfully off-the-beaten tourist track right now but most definitely won't be for long!!! Just look at the immense growth in popularity of tourism in Croatia and I can tell you that Montenegro is definitely Europe's next big thing.