My favourite cocktail bar in San Francisco

The View, San Francisco, USA

Oh, another cocktail bar post. Well they are my favourite places to go, so I go to a lot! Now it’s been a few years since I went, and I have just seen that The View has recently re-opened, so hopefully it is even better than before. One thing that is for sure, is that being on the 39th floor of the Marriott, the 360 degree views over San Francisco would be just as spectacular! Get there early for a window seat, and enjoy sipping your $7 happy hour martini! Well at least you could in 2011. But looking at the new menu, I would be just as happy paying full price to watch the sun slowly sink with a Soma Spritzer in hand while snacking on some Crudo Three Ways.

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My favourite cocktail bar in the Croatian Islands

Massimo Cocktail Bar, Korcula, Croatia

If travelling through the Croatian Islands, and you happen to be in Korcula (which, why would you not?), then make sure to stop by the Massimo Cocktail Bar! Lodged in the turrets of the 15th-century Zakerjan Tower, you can only access this bar by stairs, and then by ladder. Don’t worry about the waiters, the drinks are brought up by pulley! Not my favourite cocktail list, but definitely a memorable sunset view (and exit out of the place!).

My favourite festival in Italy

Palio di Siena, Tuscany

Italy hosts many a spectacular and entertaining festival, but if you are in the vicinity of beautiful Siena around the dates of July 2 or August 16 (yes, those precise dates, every year no matter the day), then get prepared for Il Palio – the most exciting horse race you will ever see. Forget the Melbourne Cup, this race has 10 jockeys dressed in appropriate colours, representing 10 of the 17 different “contrade” or city wards, who ride bareback circling three times around the town Piazza del Campo, on which they lay a temporary layer of thick dirt. Sometimes the jockeys are thrown off their horses while making the treacherous turns in the piazza, and despite the fact that, once they get going, the race is a mere 90 seconds, thousands of locals and spectators crowd in and around the Piazza to watch the fiercely competitive race twice a year. Having witnessed myself this year, I am not surprised, and I dare say I will be back again!

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My favourite island in Sydney Harbour

Cockatoo Island, Sydney, Australia

 

Smack bang in the middle of Sydney Harbour lies Cockatoo Island, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was once a convict penal establishment, and then one of Australia’s biggest shipping yards. Retaining some of the original remnants and prison buildings of a distant past, Cockatoo Island is now a harbour attraction and home to cultural events such as the Biennale. With such a rich history and spectacular harbour views to boot, come for a day visit, or even better – glamp it up or do like we did and get a bunch of friends and stay in one of the beautiful heritage houses. You will wake up to a sunrise you will not forget.

 

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My favourite Californian beach-side dining

Ventana Grill, Pismo Beach, California

On our drive down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles, an unexpected gem of a place was Pismo Beach. This beach town, a 3 hour drive north of LA, is very picturesque  – especially at sunset. So where better to soak this view up than at Ventana Grill . Get there before 5pm to get cheap drinks, a good table and time to spare before the gorgeous sunset. I would recommend this place regardless of the food, but the menu and service was top-notch, and the food – simply superb.

My favourite vineyard in country NSW

Logan Wines, Mudgee, NSW

I know, there are plenty of amazing vineyards and cellar doors in NSW, but a few kilometres before Mudgee, you’d be a fool to miss this one. Voted one of the best cellar doors in Australia, Logan Wines is a gem. The laid-back feel of this modern setting of polished concrete and expansive glass and timber is a match made in heaven. With open fires and friendly and knowledgeable staff, this is an essential place for any local or traveller to stop by if interested in tasting some of the best wine of the region.