Thursday, November 23, 2023

El Cielo Winery and Resort Review

El Cielo Winery and Resort is located in Valle de Guadeloupe - the wine region responsible for 90% of Mexican wine. I received a discount on my stay to post on social media. This review is all my own. 

I flew into San Diego. It's about a two hour drive and crossing the border was a breeze. 

Tip: Next time, I would arrange a stop for lunch at Porto Nuevo on the way to the winery. The coastline is beautiful and a stop for lunch helps break up the drive. 

The grounds are beautiful. The winery and the resort are separate so resort guests have privacy. The accommodations are gorgeous. I was wow'd when I walked into my Master Suite. 

Each villa has a master suite on the first floor and two junior suites on the upper floors. If everyone shares a bed and all the sleeper sofas are used, the villa can sleep 12. The main lobby has a restaurant that is open for breakfast based on how full the resort is. I appreciate that the resort and winery are separate for privacy, but it does mean you'll need to arrange a car transfer to get from your villa to the winery's lunch and dinner restaurants, tasting room, and winery experiences. 

I recommend planning to get your first dinner at the resort. You can order room service or enjoy the great cuisine at Latitude 32. The winery has great experiences: a wagon ride into the vineyard, a wine tasting, a wine blending, and a six course tasting menu with wine pairings.  My favorite wines were the Chenin Blanc and the red blends. 

El Cielo also makes a great home base for the exploring the region. The wine route has 80 wineries to explore. Lomas Travel arranged for a great day exploring: 

The valley also has some great breweries and other excursions. Your days don't have to be filled with just wine. 

If this looks like a trip you'd enjoy, please email 

Friday, September 29, 2023

Prince Edward Island Shore Excursion Review: Finest Scenic Drive, Anne, and Lobster


I loved Anne of Green Gables as a child so I had to book the Finest Scenic Drive, Anne, and Lobster Celebrity shore excursion during our Canada & New England cruise. Here’s a short video with the highlights:

We met in the terminal at 11:15 am. I highly recommend exploring Charlottetown before the town. We arrived back from the tour right at departure time. We were some of the last people to board before they pulled the gangway to sail away.

We were on the bus leaving the port area at 11:30 am. The first order of business was the lunch order. A whole lobster was included. If you didn’t want lobster, you could choose from chicken crepes, fish cakes, or potato pie. Prince Edward Island is famous for potatoes.

After an hour drive, we arrived at  North Rustico Harbor. We spend about twenty minutes here for a photo stop and learning about lobster fishing. Then, we took the 10 minute drive to Green Gables Heritage Place. This farm was the home of David Jr. and Margaret Macneill - cousins of Montgomery's grandfather. Montgomery cited the farm as her inspiration for Green Gables. The site offers bathrooms, a gift shop, lovely displays about L.M. Montgomery and the Anne of Green Gables series, a small restaurant, house, and barn. A small trail heads into the Haunted Woods. Be sure to stay alert. The short trail ends up at a golf course.

We had 45 minutes at the site. It felt like enough time to me, but those who wanted to read all the displays felt rushed.

We had a 15 minute drive to Prince Edward Island Preserve Company for lunch. This is such a charming restaurant. Beers and wine were available for purchase. Our lunch included tomato soup, a whole lobster, and raspberry preserve cheesecake pie. We had about 45 minutes for lunch. The Preserve Company had a small gift shop and a lovely garden. The drive back to the port was around 45 minutes.

I thought the tour gave a great overview of the area.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Quebec City Excursion Review: Five Course Gourmet Food and Historical Tour


Quebec City offers to much to do. This trip, we booked a 5 Course Gourmet Food and Historical Tour. Here are the highlights:


This is an independent excursion so we walked from the port to meeting point. It was a quick 10 minute walk from our docking location – pier 22. Be sure you know where you are docking because it would be a 45 minute walk from other piers.

Our group had 9 people. The max was 12. Our guide was wonderful. She grew up in Quebec City and had so much knowledge to share. We started with two stops in the Lower Town:

  • Va Bene is an Italian restaurant. We had a wonderful panzanella salad with a mozzarella foam.  
  • Archibald is a brewery and pub where we had the French Onion Soup. The French onion soup was great. The soup had a wonderful onion flavor that was lighter than many I’ve tried.

We headed up the Funicular to explore the Upper Town.

  • La Continental is one of the oldest restaurants in Quebec City. It’s known for tableside cooking. We had shrimp flambee prepared in front of us.
  • Last stop was the Monastère des Augustines – a monastery converted into a hotel and restaurant. We had wild boar ribs and dessert.

This was definitely a full and filling five course meal. I loved the mix of history and food. The focus was on trying a mix of restaurants – not necessarily trying cuisine unique to Quebec City.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Celebrity Shore Excursion Review: Lure of Lighthouses and Fortress of Louisbourg, Syndey, Nova Scotia

 Our ship also docked in Sydney, Nova Scotia. We chose the Celebrity shore excursion:  Lure of Lighthouses and Fortress of Louisbourg. Honestly, I chose this excursion because a woman from Halifax recommended visiting the Fortress. Here are the highlights:


At 9:00 am, we met in the Rendez Vous lounge. At 9:21 am, we headed to the bus. By 9:34 am, we were on our way. The Louisbourg Fortress is the reconstruction of a 1744 settlement. It’s the biggest historical reconstruction in North America. About one-fifth of the settlement has been reconstructed.

After about a 45 minute drive, we arrived at the lighthouse. We had 15 minutes for a photo stop. I got the best photos as we headed up the drive to the lighthouse.

We were back on the bus at 10:33 am. It was about a 30 minute drive around the by to the Fortress. At 10:55 am, we were off the bus. We were give about an hour and 15 minutes at the site.

The tour guide led us to a large map of the original settlement. Then, we headed to Engineer’s house for hot chocolate and more information about the settlement. This took about 15 minutes. The tour guide then guided the group to meet with a solider. We declined because we wanted more time to explore the settlement. We had to be back on the bus by 12:10 pm. This was not enough time.

We were back at the port at 1:00 pm.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Celebrity Shore Excursion Review: Destination Highlight: Acadia National Park


In September 2023, we took an 11 night Canada / New England cruise on the Celebrity Summit. The first port of call was Bar Harbor, Maine. We took the Celebrity shore excursion: Destination Highlight: Acadia National Park

Here’s a quick video of excursion highlights:


We met at 8:00 am in the theater. We had to go down the stairs to the front to get the stickers. One member of your party can take all the tickets down to get the  stickers if you don’t want to go down and back up the stairs.

At 8:20 am, we left the theater. By 8:34 am, we were on the tender and on our way to shore.  The tender ride was about 12 minutes long. We went down a ramp, across a floating dock, and up a steep ramp.

Our tour had 50 people in a large bus. We were on the way at 9:05 am.

Acadia National Park makes up about half of Mount Desert Island. This tour takes the Park Loop Road.

We arrived at the top of Cadillac Mountain at 9:30 am. Cadillac Mountain is 1,532 feet tall. We had a twenty minute photo stop. Bathrooms and a gift shop were available.

We left Cadillac Mountain at 9:57 am to complete the tour of the Park Loop Road. The best side of the bus for this loop is the left side to get better views of Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Otter Cliffs. The right side had the best views of the beaver dams.

We were back in town at 11:16 am. Our guide shared many suggestions about how to spend the afternoon exploring Bar Harbor.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Stockholm Excursion Review: Nordic Food Walk

In  July 2023, I took a Baltics cruise on the Island Princess. One port of call was Stockholm, Sweden. We decided to do an independent excursion: Nordic Food Walk. 

I thought this was a terrific excursion. We got to try so many traditional Swedish foods, learn about Stockholm, and even had fika - a traditional Swedish coffee break. This is the perfect orientation to Stockholm. It is a walking tour so be prepared for 15 minutes to 25 minutes of walking at a time. the coffee break and the fish restaurant were sitting down. Bathrooms were available about halfway through the tour. I highly recommend it. 

Friday, August 25, 2023

Detailed Review & Five Tips for Rocky Mountaineer: Banff to Vancouver


In May 2023, we joined the Rocky Mountaineer from Banff to Vancouver. This two night journey is a trip of a lifetime. In this post, I’ll share all the details and the timeline of the experience. Here’s the highlights:



Day 1: Banff, Alberta, Canada

We spent a few pre-nights at the Fairmont Banff Springs before joining the tour. When you arrive in Banff or the day before your tour is set to start, if you are in a SilverLeaf hotel, you’’ll head to the Rocky Mountaineer Guest Center at 220 Bear Street to pick up your packet.  If you are staying at Gold Leaf hotel. If you are staying at Gold Leaf hotel, your package will be at the Rocky Mountaineer desk in the hotel.