Yacht-life attainable for Vancouver visitors

Despite a bustling city by day– crawling with international tourists, lively young people, and wild hockey fans— Vancouver, B.C. hushes under the moonlight. The quiet and chilly peace hovers under the towering sky scrapers, dancing with mesmerizing colors on False Creek.

The Orianna floats in False Creek, anchored just in front of BC Place.

The False Creek inlet separates downtown Vancouver’s land access, creating an elusive peninsula with a majestic skyline, viewable from all angles. Rainbow-colored water taxi’s tut up and down the creek during the day, carting tourists and locals around to markets, museums, and bars along both sides of the water, weaving between luxurious yachts, fishing boats, and houseboats on dock.

After spending my upbringing visiting Vancouver regularly, I began my search to find a new perspective of a city I know well. Preparing for a weekend trip to my favorite, world-class city, I opened AirBnB.com in search of a fresh take on a city I already love.

While historic hotels or homes for rent create a fun “imagine if I lived here” reality to play in, or cater to nightlife in convenient locations, I ended my search after landing on Orianna’s listing: a stay on her renovated yacht, The Orianna, anchored in False Creek with 360-degree views of some of Vancouver’s biggest attractions.

Orianna’s captain’s hat and some books are a few personal items onboard.

From the moment she picked us up on the Olympic Village dock, to dropping us off at the Yale Town pier to say goodbye, Orianna’s hosting style and service catered to the exact experience we wanted. An out-of-the-box free spirit, Orianna’s candor, demeanor, humor, and spark illuminated our whole visit to Vancouver. Although I’ve been hundreds of times, I felt excitement like it was my first.

Because the yacht is anchored in the middle of False Creek, we relied on meeting up to be transferred between boat-and-land. While she’s prompt in arriving on time, and extremely flexible and accommodating of various and changing schedules, we enjoyed the 10-or-so minute ride with her, and usually sat around chatting longer than necessary. The time spent zipping back-and-forth enriched our visit in energetic and fruitful conversation. Although inconvenient and non-conventional, I imagine the type of visitors who stay with her are also seeking an non-conventional and unique experience in the city: If they choose Orianna’s yacht stay, their understanding of Vancouver will be greatly enriched.

Her two-bed, two-bath Cooper Prowler Yacht is fully quipped with the comforts of home: linens, espresso, kitchen, and gathering space. Orianna herself lived on her own namesake before sharing her love of “Boat Life” with guests through private charter bookings. Leaning into hosting and hospitality, she began operating on AirBnB and purchased a Willard Trawler as well, marketing her fleet as @VancouverYachtLife on Instagram. Although many pass through, her personality and trinkets remain on display, sharing her Italian heritage, photos from sea, and mementos gathered from her lifetime.

Just as with any 36-foot vessel (or home for that matter), the stay has it quirks. Introducing us to marine-living accommodations, Captain Orianna expertly walked us through the “how to’s” and responsibilities inherent to safely living on a boat. However, given the temporary nature of the stay, nothing was complicated or too nerve wracking to master quickly: even for a visually impaired man. She takes care of most things.

Windows on all sides of The Orianna provide sweeping views of Vancouver, even from inside the living room, kitchen, or principal bedroom. The second bedroom, with only port holes, has easy roof access to one of the boat desks. With plenty of outdoor space to lounge, dine, and enjoy, we spent the evening there with a glass of wine, watching the sun set behind BC Place, and lights light up my favorite city. I wish I were better prepared with a cheese board and fresh fruit from Granville Market– to sip and snack- as I witnessed the quiet peace unfold across a majestic city.

Staying at Orianna’s is like taking a train trip or a road trip across the country: it’s not just part of the journey, but the destination.

With two queen beds, The Orianna can accommodate four people; however, the second bedroom is quite cozy. While two adults could use the room, it may be better suited for children, singles, or newlyweds.

The Orianna can comfortably accommodate a family of four, or four adults looking for a leisure and unique experience in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

My only regret was not preparing for a slow morning and not bringing a sweet breakfast on board at night to reheat in the morning. I’ve left sweet crepes on deck during a sunrise to my imagination… hopefully you can make up for that.

Orianna charters her yacht for private groups directly. For overnight overnight stays on her yacht or the Mystic Voyager, her trawler outfitted with a fire pit and outdoor shower, bookings are accommodated exclusively through AirBnB. Although she currently has two operating vessels on False Creek, she aims to expand her fleet to host year-round: while winter docks her boats in Canada, she hopes to anchor new boats in sunny international locations to live and work during British Columbia’s off-season.

If you’re looking for a memorable and unique addition to your Vancouver experience, book well in advance and let her know @TalesoftheCork sent you. Let me know if you’re making your way over, and I’d love to chat– Or you could always tag me in a picture of you on the deck, enjoying breakfast or a glass of wine.

Sipping a Cambria Moonstone Cellars Tempranillo

TalesoftheCork wine reviews

moonstone1Visitors planning a trip to Cambria, California, often stroll along the wooden boardwalk, go whale and elephant seal watching, visit Hearst Castle and dine at one of Moonstone’s beach-side restaurants.

But in downtown Cambria, a small boutique winery and wine shop should be on your list, besides window shopping. Pencil in Moonstone Cellars.

While we don’t get over to Cambria very often, a leisurely walk in the picturesque town and nearby ocean boardwalk, visitors will find boutique and antique shops, mom and pop cafes and restaurants and the local wine shop and winery: Moonstone Cellars.

Located in West Village on the corner of Main and Sheffield streets, Todd Clift and his dad, Muril, opened the family-owned winery and began producing wines since 1998. Todd proudly creates his wines made from Central Coast grapes.  Moonstone Cellars offers a wide variety of varietals. From a lighter style Grenache to a full bodied Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc to a dry Riesling, there is bound to be something for everyone.

While I did not travel this week, I sat down to post with a glass of Moonstone Cellars 2009 Paso Robles Tempranillo beside me. The Spanish varietal and Central Coast grown was splendid. With notes of cherry, ripe plum, cracked pepper, spice and a rivulet of vanilla flowing through it, the medium bodied wine and tannins lingered.

moonstonetempranilloWhile I sipping the wine, purposely on #TempranilloDay, I soon wanted an afternoon snack to pair it with. The point of this is I did not plan this particular pairing or ‘event’ but rather just quickly looked what we had in the fridge. We had some Asiago, Manchego and a blue Camembert, olives, salami, grapes and pistachios in the pantry. I quickly put them on a black serving dish beside me and I continued writing.

While most of these appetizers went well with the Tempranillo, I hold and share a common wine lovers phase often: “Drink what you like.” For me these cheeses pair well with the terroir and flavors of the wine.

My point is simple: Take the time to explore the wineries in the places you visit and taste the wines they are pouring in the tasting rooms. And while you may not like all you try, purchase a bottle or three of the variety you like to take home. Then later at home, if you’ve kept the notes you were given or wrote down your own, open the bottle and imagine what food will go well with it. And if you need help, follow a blogger, Instagramer or Twitter feed of someone you trust and ask or email them. You might even follow this feed or keep TalesoftheCork a favorite on your device.

The Moonstone Cellars Tempranillo will also go very well with beef stew or a backyard BBQ. The wine will go very well with tacos, burritos, pizza, polenta dishes. Heck, I could have even served it with our lasagna the other night. Take the time to try wine with the foods you like. Some will go better than others.

It’s your table. You create the food. Own the right to serve what you like.

Moonstone Cellars is moving from its location on Main Street. Go around their former location to a building just behind them on 812 Cornwall Street in Cambria (as pictured).

Moonstone Cellars can be found at 812 Cornwall Street in Cambria’s West Village. The staff welcomes walk-ins daily between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Walk right up to their U-shaped bar and ask Todd for a tasting, which cost $8 for 6 wine pours of varying varietals. Moonstone Cellars wines are also available online or call them at 805.927.9466 or 877.517.9463. Or just send them a note via their contact page. Moonstone Cellars also belongs to the Pacific Coast Wine Trail whose organization stretches from Morro Bay up to San Simeon.

Be sure to read the previous TalesoftheCork blog post: “Rigatoni à la Bordelaise with Bordeaux.” And if winemakers, wineries or restaurants are interested in a TalesoftheCork wine and/or food review on the blog, InstagramTwitter and/or Facebook, please send us a request via email: talesofthecork@gmail.com or use DM on social media. TalesoftheCork also offers social media seminars for businesses.

TalesoftheCork pre travel checklist for overseas visit

Help ensure a successful trip with these 17 touring tips

Whether you are a seasonal traveler or first time planner, a trip abroad is best when the pre planning stage is meticulous and calculated. Ever wonder why seasoned travelers seem to be at ease before they go abroad? Use this TalesoftheCork pre travel checklist and 17 touring tips before your next foreign country visit.

Whether you are traveling to Mersault, France (pictured), or Sydney, Australia, preparation can be the key to a successful trip abroad.

1) Use Safari Private Window or Chrome Incognito window when checking on flights, hotels and other websites you repeatedly use. Revisiting websites can result in higher costs.

2) While your can book flights up to 11 months in advance, a good rule of thumb is to buy a domestic flight anywhere from three months to 30 days in advance: 47-54 days typically is the prime booking window. Consider buying international flights 276-335 days in advance and buy a flight on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

However there is no magic potion here. Start watching flight costs and pull the trigger when it appears close to the optimal amount you care to pay. If you see a good deal, grab it.

3) Consider buying an “open jaw” flight when booking travel. Fly into one city and return from another. The airfare may actually be cheaper. Also check out budget airlines while overseas.

4) Do your homework. Check guidebooks and “know before you go” something to see or do each day. Many sites require reservations. And give yourself time to walk, take a train or bus, and food breaks in between sights you hope to visit. Rushing on vacation reduces a holiday to “worse than work” status.

5) Know the address and phone number of your embassy in the city and/or country you are visiting before you leave.

Another tip for travelers: When walking a town or village, take the time to explore views of the area from a high point. 

6) An adult passport is currently $110 and apply for your passport at least six weeks before you need it–add $25 for a first time passport. When applying for a passport, you will need an original copy of your birth certificate and two identical passport photos. If your passport will expire within three months of your trip ending, you are encouraged to get a new passport before you leave.

7) The U.S. Passports and International Travel site has a 10-point checklist before you travel overseas. Take the time to photocopy all documents, leaving a copy at home and another with a traveling companion, securing supplemental health/travel insurance, a letter from your physician for the medications you are bringing, check to see if you need a Visa for the country you are visiting at time of travel and if there are any travel warnings.

Explore regions which might challenge you like a visit to Liguria and the Cinque Terre, including Manarola (pictured). With a little planning and preparation, your next trip can be a success.

8) Contact your bank(s) and alert them you will be out of the country using your bank card. You don’t want them thinking it was stolen.

9) While it may be good idea have some local currency if traveling to a small airport overseas, the world uses ATMs and are widely available to exchange money using your debit card. You may be charged a 1% fee by your bank, but the rate of exchange should be close. The “no-fee” Bureau de Change exchange rates at the airport and in currency exchange kiosks are poor compared to bank rates. So, if you must, change only exchange enough money for your first day in a foreign country. You can use your ATM and bank cards to pull cash from your checking accounts when you get to your destination. Additionally, check with your bank card and inquire as to fees they charge for each use. It is probably better to use your VISA for purchases and ATM card for foreign currency withdrawal.

10) Most of us now take our phone with us wherever we go. Make sure you contact your mobile provider to secure a plan for overseas use. Discuss international calling, text, and/or data plan, and confirm voice and data-roaming fees.

11) Download the travel apps you hope to use on your trip before you leave. They are wonderful to use in WiFi and are a wealth of information.

12) Make a list of what is in your suitcase and photocopy it, giving a copy to your traveling partner and leave one at home. You might even write out serial numbers on pricer items and take photos of them.

While travel destinations and preferences may change, if you take an active part-time student role for each trip, you can self-guide your way to a relaxed vacation.

13) Leave a travel itinerary with someone at home and include the phone numbers and addresses of the hotels you plan on using.

14) Cancel or put on hold your mail, newspaper. Consider paying  bills ahead of time.

15) If you plan on renting a car, most countries require an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). You can secure one at most AAA offices. You will need two passport photos, a fee of $20 and show the clerk your state driver’s license. Fill out the application online, print it and bring it along for quicker processing.

16) Rail Europe has a great site for buying tickets ahead of time. You will save time rather than waiting in line at the station. You might consider longer trips via train.

17) Finally, while experienced travelers may opt not to use a passport or money belt, it is a good idea to use one. Especially in tourist areas and big cities, pickpockets and thieves prey on the naive and unsuspecting tourists. I used a money belt and/or a neck pouch to keep documents safe and tucked away.

While my travels over the last 20 years have helped me with this list, Rick Steves also has a great travel checklist. So whether you use my guide or someone else’s, meticulous planning will help ensure a successful overseas trip.

When thinking about a trip to Florence, be sure to cross the river and walk the streets up the other side for a fantastic view of the city.

For more travel related articles, be sure to return in the next couple of days as I will begin posting from our recent trip to the Cinque Terre in Liguria and Tuscany. In the meantime, read my June 26, 2016, post, Hot outside? Love me some Passaggio Rosé.

And if winemakers, wineries or restaurants are interested in a TalesoftheCork wine and/or food review on the blog, InstagramTwitter and/or Facebook, please send us a request via email: talesofthecork@gmail.com or use DM on social media. TalesoftheCork also offers social media seminars for businesses.