Category Archives: Romantic

Everything Tastes Better in Bora Bora

Lunch at Four Seasons Bora Bora’s Tere Nui

By Beth Friedman
Your Journey By Beth
@FoodTravelrBeth

A great meal can be made even better when eating it in paradise. Take Bora Bora: just being there gives you a huge jump start on everything from romance to relaxation, and both things make everything destined to taste better. If you’ve never been to Bora Bora, it’s one of those places that you can’t leave this earth without seeing. The colors of the pristine water, the incredible resorts and of course the food gave me reason to pause several times a day to say WOW. I had a lot of memorable meals, and here’s a little run down of a few of them.

To start, what could be more dreamy than the freshest, fattiest, raw tuna presented to you with a touch of foie gras, and pea puree (below).

This amazing starter was the opening course I had a the lovely Kaina Hut restaurant on the main island. It was buttery, rich and decadent, yet still light and bright. This adorable little place is casual, fine dining that maintains it’s French Polynesian elegance even with its thatched roof and sandy floor. The main course was a grilled white fish sitting on a plantain mash with coconut foam, and while it was the ‘whitest’ dish I’d ever seen, it was absolutely delicious, texturally perfect and something I had never had before.

Another seductive meal I experienced was the incredible steak with chocolate sauce at Le Tipanié, which is the fine dining restaurant at Le Merdien Bora Bora. The meat was tender and juicy, the sauce was both bitter and sweet and the plating – gorgeous. It was a meal well suited to a romantic dinner for two.

The restaurant itself sits on the resort’s lagoon, where you can allow yourself to be mesmerized by more than just your companion. Watching the fish and sea turtles that live in the crystal clear and shallow water make this a special place to dine. And if you love sea turtles, then Le Meridien is the place for you with its famous Marine Turtle Protection Centre. The photo below was taken looking down into the water of the lagoon during daylight hours. At night, it’s lit up.

Another great hotel dining experience is St. Regis Bora Bora’s Polynesian buffet at Te Pahu, one of their four restaurants. There is so much to choose from, including suckling pig (pictured below), a ton of creative raw fish items, grilled meats and salads. The restaurant sits beachside, which in and of itself is lovely, and to top it all off, entertains with a traditional Polynesian show.

Bora Bora’s French influence is front and center at La Villa Mahan Restaurant, owned by the island’s most well-known chef, Damien Rinaldi Dovio and his family. He’s a sweetheart of a man who has amazing creativity and passion for his food and an honest desire to give his guests the best of the best. Getting a table here isn’t easy. It’s small and in high demand so make sure when you’re booking your trip, you’re working with somebody who has an in (like me!) The most desired seat in the house is a private, loft-like area that sits above the patio and offers a super romantic atmosphere (pictured below). But even the indoor dining room is interesting with hand drawn murals and artwork created by local artists and members of Dovio family.

The menu changes every few months, but it’s always French using local ingredients and earning rave reviews. I feel fortunate to have met Chef Damien and thank him for the personal tour of his restaurant. Check out the cool guitar that was hanging on the wall. To me, it summed up La Villa Mahan with its color, character and artistry. I wish I could’ve taken it home with me!

One of Bora Bora’s most famous restaurants is Bloody Mary’s, a super casual dining establishment that’s been around since the late 1970’s. It’s a giant thatch-roofed hut with a sand floor giving you a true French Polynesian vibe. You can choose from the freshest of seafood which is displayed daily, or order from their low-key menu filled with everything from chicken sandwiches to rock lobster. One of my favorite things is their charred and peppered tuna sashimi, washed down with an ice-cold Hinano, the local beer. Clearly I can’t get enough raw tuna!

Bloody Mary is famous among the famous, and you’ll hear stories about the likes of Jimmy Buffett and Ron Wood of the Rolling Stone’s coming in to play. It’s a fun place with great energy and while touristy, someplace you shouldn’t miss.

Whenever you travel, whether it be to a tropical island or a big city, and no matter how picky you might be, challenge yourself to try something that you can’t get at home. Food is fun and exciting, plays with all of your senses and allows you to taste a little bit of what life is like someplace else. So as they say in Bora Bora, “Tama’a Maita’i” (enjoy your meal, bon appetit)!

For more details about Bora Bora and the hotels and restaurants above – or if you’re interested in planning a trip, contact me anytime! And checkout my previous posting called Paradise on Earth.

Nana (goodbye in Tahitian) for now!

on Twitter @FoodTravelrBeth
Facebook: Your Journey By Beth
Email: journeybybeth@gmail.com
Email: journeybybeth@gmail.com

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Filed under exotic, food, Foodie, Fun, honeymoon, island, luxury, Paradise, Romantic, travel, tropical, Uncategorized

Spectrum of Spa

By Beth Friedman
@FoodTravelrBeth

The past couple of weeks has brought true contrasts of color into my world. I went from a bona fide tropical paradise almost straight into the desert. Two vastly different yet dazzling places, and in both I experienced a spectrum of spa.

For anybody who thinks that a spa is a spa is a spa, I’ve got two unbelievable places to tell you about. They couldn’t be more different from one another, but both offer their guests beautiful experiences that are reflective of their homes.

I’ll start with Le Taha’a Manea Spa, which is part of the Le Taha’a Resort, located on a private island not too far from Bora Bora. It is without question one of the most tranquil places I’ve ever been, and pretty easy to get to considering the level of seclusion guests enjoy here – about a 35 minute flight from Papeete, Tahiti to Raitae Airport, where from the plane’s tarmac you walk about 300 feet to get into the resort’s boat for a relaxing 45 minute ride to this idyllic location.

The spa is situated on a beautiful lake, which is the view you are welcomed with from most of the indoor/outdoor treatment rooms. It is truly different from anything I’ve ever seen and nothing short of breathtaking. A wide variety of treatments include everything from their signature Vai Vanira, a vanilla bath followed by a full body vanilla oil massage, to getting a traditional Tahitian tattoo from their resident artist. Even the full-sized gym overlooks the lake.

All of this tranquility comes at a price because here you are at a 5 diamond deluxe property where accommodations are either over water bungalows or beach front villas. It is absolutely the perfect place for any couple looking for something truly unique and quiet, and is without question worth every penny. The photo below is just a snapshot of what greeted me just outside the glass door from my bedroom of one of the Royal Villas. The beach continues to stretch into the distance, the water is pristine, crystal clear, calm and shallow. Peaceful doesn’t begin to describe it.

Rates fluctuate with time of year and location/size of the bungalow or villa, so if you’d like to know more about all of the different options, their costs and details like how many bedrooms or whether or not there’s a plunge pool, just give me a shout!

By contrast, but no less wonderful, Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson Arizona has a most interesting approach to wellness. With a focus on what they call ‘Mindfullness”, which keeps us in the moment no matter what we’re doing, Miraval offers unique classes, activities, and spa treatments that provide guests with fun and creative ways to care for themselves from the inside out. This includes a wide variety of things like nutritional work ups and wonderful, healthy, gourmet meals (and cooking classes!), consults with Dr. Andrew Weil proteges (Dr. Weil himself holds occasional seminars), cardio drumming and Chi Gong classes, equestrian activities, hiking, meditation, cardio dance, wall-climbing, desert tightrope and zip-lining. And this is just scratching the surface.

Two special places seen below at Miraval are the Kiva Firepit, where guests can mingle, star gaze and enjoy the desert air. And the Labyrinth, which is a place meant for walking and quiet reflection.


Throughout the entire property, which consists of 6 small villages, you can hear water trickling up and down various streams and water features, wander through pathways throughout that are dotted with desert vegetation and interesting sculptures, all at the base of the Catalina Mountains. There is nothing in the world like the desert air to cleanse the soul, and this special resort is all about doing just that.

Suffice to say, Miraval has a serious understanding of how to work with guests on health and wellness, and an important element of the whole experience is of course, the spa. When I was there, I had a wonderful treatment called ‘Nurture’. It is a 100 minute “ritual” starting with a warm loofah exfoliation with white peate enzymes (not really sure what that is, but so what?), sea minerals and blueberry. Then there is the application of a soothing mushroom and phyto-nutrient masque, followed by a wonderful outdoor shower. And it wasn’t over yet! Then came the full-body massage using arctic berry milk cream. My skin never felt so good!!

There are several levels of accommodations at Miraval starting with their indigenously decorated, entry level Deluxe rooms, all with “signature sleep experience” bedding and outdoor space. The newest are in their Catalina ‘Village” where each Villa is Leeds certified and amazingly cozy with that “to die for” bedding, muted colors among natural materials with incredible sunlight and views from unique glass walls allowing indoor/outdoor living.

Again, not an inexpensive experience, but who can put a price-tag on your well-being? And in fact, Miraval’s per person rates include accommodations, airport transfers, food & beverage (not alcohol), most group classes and activities and $130 resort credit that can be applied to things like spa treatments per day, so it’s a fantastic value.

Both of these wonderful hotel/resorts & spas are dedicated to making their guests feel welcome, special, pampered and above all else, healthy and cared for. For more information about booking Miraval or Le Taha’a let me know. Or if you’re looking for other spa/health wellness suggestions, I’ve got a world of ideas!

Beth Friedman
Your Journey By Beth
310-804-6767
journeybybeth@yahoo.com
beth@elitetravelinternational.com

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Filed under Getaway, honeymoon, luxury, Romantic, spa, travel, Uncategorized

Paradise on Earth

By Beth Friedman

@FoodTravelrBeth

Have you heard all of the hype about French Polynesia? You know what I’m talking about…….all of the fantasizing going on about running off to Tahiti and dreams of a honeymoon in Bora Bora in an overwater bungalow? Well, all I can say with brutal honesty after visiting last week is that it doesn’t disappoint!

I just spent a whirlwind 6 days touring 11 hotels & resorts, unique wedding and honeymoon destinations, 2 cruise ships, restaurants and other incredible places and at no point in my time there did I think that I wasn’t someplace worthy of a little fantasy. There is something in the air, combined with all of the distinct and dramatic color contrasts, along with the wonderful hospitality that makes this part of the world truly stand out.

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to get there, with a manageable 8 and half hour flight non-stop from LAX to Papeete, Tahiti on Air Tahiti Nui. And the intra-island air travel was incredibly simple and painless too. The airports are so small and easy to navigate. Fortunately I was hosted by a very well respected tour company in the region called Tahiti Legends and through them, I was introduced to a fantastic staff of locals who know all of the ins and outs of getting around. Great contacts for me – and in turn for my clients.

Over my next several blog postings I’ll be sharing what I saw and what I learned, and I hope that it encourages you to find a way to go. Since I was there working (I know, I know-at least I get to love my work), I didn’t have much of a chance to soak up the sun and enjoy, so I am bound and determined to find a way back – next time with my boyfriend because it very well may be the most romantic place on earth.

Follow along because there’s some good stuff coming!


If you have any questions about travel to French Polynesia (or anywhere else for that matter!), just give a shout!

For more about why having your very own personal travel consultant helps make travel planning more fun and less expensive check out https://yourjourneybybeth.wordpress.com/about/

Beth Friedman
Your Journey By Beth
310-804-6767
beth@elitetravelinternational.com
journeybybeth@yahoo.com

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Filed under exotic, honeymoon, island, luxury, Romantic, travel, tropical

A Valentine to Vienna

By Beth Friedman

I had a brief but passionate winter fling with the city of Vienna. It was a whirlwind romance lasting less than 36 hours, but like most relationships that burn quickly, it left a lasting impression on me. Since it’s Valentine’s day, I’ll describe my time in this romantic city like a speed-date that included a long walk, a little something sweet (spiked of course), intelligent conversation about books and art, window shopping and of course some extremely romantic and moving music.

Our ambitious day began at the gothic and grand St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which is a good place to start in Vienna because of it’s central location in the city. Next, we headed to Mozart’s House to see where and how this iconic music legend lived. Followed by a quick visit to MUMOK – Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (with incredible exhibitions that included pieces from artists like Rothko to Jackson Pollack to Monet to a variety of collections in a variety of mediums). We would’ve like to have seen more at MUMOK, but we chose to move on. So much to do, so little time!!

As you can imagine, we were merely scratching the surface with regard to getting to know Vienna, but there was something about the vibe, the people, the culture, the architecture and it’s overall sophistication that really excited me.

In a desperate attempt to hold on to this romance a little longer, and learn as much as possible in one afternoon, we also toured the National Library of Austria. I’m so glad that we included it in our day, because it is truly one of the most remarkable buildings I’ve ever seen. The photo below is of the interior. I only wish it began to capture the scope, the color and the overall grandeur of this room.

We continued with a stroll around Kärtner Strasse – the main pedestrian shopping area, which is fantastic. The photo of Joe is on Kohlmarkt, a short but exclusive street that leads to Michaelerplatz and Hofburg Palace.

At this point it was time for a much needed rest, so we stopped into a random coffee shop and had a gorgeous and decadent treat of coffee with Grand Marnier topped with hand-whipped cream. Yum.

Vienna is the “Music Capitol of the World'” and when ‘they’ say music, ‘they’ mean classical music, which didn’t really turn me on at first. I’m more of “classic” rock n roll girl, yet that evening, we were going to the Wiener Hofburg Orchestra. I went into the experience with an open heart and mind, and low and behold…..classical music truly moved me! I quickly found out that it can make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up and bring a girl to tears. Literally. A true testament to the theory about how when you travel somewhere new, you always return just a little bit different.

We were visiting Vienna as part of a Christmas-time Danube River cruise itinerary on AMA Waterways, so after the concert we went back to the ship to get into bed after such a busy day. Fortunately we had some more time to spend in Vienna the following morning, so we couldn’t miss seeing Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site and it’s Christmas Market, which was filled with local artists and artisans displaying and selling hand-made trinkets like x-mas tree ornaments and nut-crackers, glass blowers, of course Christmas tree ornaments sausages, pretzels, roasted chestnuts and of course Mulled wine, games and obviously pastries!

I know it’s hard to believe that such a brief and exhausting courtship would result in true love, so maybe it was just an infatuation. But there was something special and unexpected about Vienna that stuck with me. Maybe it’s because you always want more of what you can’t have; who knows? But it was sad to leave, and I can only hope that someday we’ll meet again.

Wishing you all a sweet Valentine’s Day! Instead of giving chocolates in a box, try Viennese Pastry 🙂

If you have any questions about travel to Vienna, AMA Waterways (I’m friends with the owners!!) and holiday river-cruising (or travel anywhere else for that matter) connect with me, your friendly neighborhood travel consultant at:
@FoodTravelrBeth
facebook.com/beth.friedman1
journeybybeth@gmail.com
310-804-6767

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Filed under Culture, Europe, Holiday, Romantic, travel, Valentine's Day

A Romantic Getaway in Amsterdam

@FoodTravelrBeth
Facebook.com/beth.friedman1

Amsterdam is one of my favorite European cities and I highly recommend it as the perfect place to visit with somebody you are establishing your ‘travel legs’ with. It was the first international trip that Joe (my ‘partner in life’/boyfriend) and I took together, so there’s a special place in my heart for it.

There are so many great things about this city and you can really begin to get a sense of it in just a few days. Amsterdam oozes character, it’s very romantic, the people are great and it’s culturally exciting with plenty of ways to have fun! Getting around can be a little confusing, but hey – I think that getting lost in a new city is a good thing – especially with somebody special! And wandering around the cobblestone streets, canals and narrow walkways is an experience in and of itself.

If you’re in tourist-mode like we were, there is no shortage of ideas for your to-do list. We walked endlessly, peeked into the red-light district, took a canal tour, scoured the the Riks and Van Gogh Museums, visited the Ann Frank Museum, Rembrandt House and last but not least, we did the Heineken Experience Tour (hokey, but necessary). As you can see in the photo below, Joe was really into learning the ins and outs of brewing beer.

It’s not surprising that some of the best times we had revolved around eating, and one of our favorite food experiences – even to this day – was at the Supper Club. This is not your typical restaurant. It is many things wrapped into one very memorable night. I’d describe it as performance art meets fine dining while lounging comfortably on a bed (yes, I said bed), slash nightclub. Believe me when I tell you that you’ve got to experience it to believe it.

Another fantastic meal, albeit much more low-key than the Supper Club was breakfast at the Pancake Bakery where instead of describing the food, I’ll let the photo below speak for itself!! I’ll just chime in with YUM! Click here to see the menu filled with endless ways to have your traditional thin Dutch pancakes or poffertjes, which are like small puffy pancakes.

Throughout this trip, we meandered into tons of pubs – there are about 1200 of them throughout the city. And as you can imagine, there’s a huge beer culture here (beyond the biggies like Grolsh, Heineken and Amstel). For meals we were able to satisfy any craving we had including Italian at a great little place called Ristorante Savini and Chinese food we liked so much we had it twice at Restaurant Si-Chuan!

Another quintessential must-do in Amsterdam is the coffee house experience. Even if you don’t ‘partake’, it’s fun to wander in and out of a few since they are something most won’t see at home. Each has its own vibe, many even have a theme.

On this trip, we hung our hats at the NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky which is a nice four star-ish hotel that is centrally located directly on Dam Square. It was perfect for us and I’d recommend it to anybody looking for location and great value.

A few of the finer hotels in Amsterdam (where today I have connections that I wish I had back when we were there!!!) are the Hotel Pulitzer, the Intercontinental Amstel and the Hotel de l’Europe.

It’s been several years since our trip to Amsterdam, so when I pulled out my journal and our pictures to write this blog I was transported back to one of the best times I’ve ever had. Joe and I learned that we traveled well together – which was VERY important and in March we’ll be together for 7 years. To celebrate our anniversary, we’ll be traveling to our 8th country together! Stay tuned with Your Journey By Beth to find out where!

Another fun travel blog to check out is:
http://www.vagabondquest.com/
Dina and Ryan have been traveling around the world since April 2009 and are still going. It’s their dream to be permanent travelers.

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Filed under Culture, Europe, food, Fun, honeymoon, Romantic, travel

Beth Eats Italy Part VI: A Little Taste of Positano

@BethLovesTravel
facebook.com/beth.friedman1

Positano, Italy was one of the most romantic places I’d ever been, so its a shame that my boyfriend Joe wasn’t there with me. After spending a few days exploring it’s narrow, hilly streets, soaking in the sun and of course eating my way around town on my own, I can safely say that he and I will plan to be there together sometime soon. As I write this months later, I can still close my eyes and feel the breeze on my skin and recall the scent of the sea air mixed with the slightest hint of lemon. I can’t wait for that day to come.

I was in Positano with a group of travel agents and we were primarily there to check out hotels. There are several stand outs like La Sirenuse and Hotel Palazzo Murat that are located right in town and have a lot to offer a variety of tastes. But one that really differentiates itself from the others is Il San Pietro Di Positano. It is truly something special because it’s the only property that is a full service resort with its own private beach, sun-deck, yacht, tennis court and spa. It sits high on a cliff with a vast terrace overlooking the sea, lush gardens where they grow everything they use in their restaurants, and quiet walking paths. It is seriously idyllic and perfect for a honeymoon, destination wedding or romantic getaway.

We had the good fortune to spend two nights at the Il San Pietro and to enjoy all that it had to offer. I took the photo above from an upper level path looking down upon the beach. An elevator built into the cliff takes you to and from the sun bathing deck, dock and beach straight into the lobby and throughout the hotel’s floors. It is outside of town, so offers privacy and a peacefulness you won’t find anywhere else in Positano (with 24 hour Mercedes-Benz shuttle service to and from).

There are two restaurants at Il San Pietro that are very different from one another; the casual Carlino where you can dine al fresco overlooking the beach and where they hold intimate cooking classes in their fabulous, state-of-the-art kitchen. And their formal dining, one Michelin star restaurant called Il San Pietro is extremely romantic with floor to ceiling windows and an outdoor space that shows off their beautiful views.

My favorite meals at the San Pietro were at Carlino’s where we enjoyed ‘light’ lunches that included marinated anchovies (my time in Italy converted me into a fan!), grilled eggplant (aubergine here) and zucchini, tomato and hand-made mozzarella cheese along with one of my favorite dishes of all time, steamed mussels and clams in white wine broth with garlic and crusty bread. The anchovies were an eye opener and the more time I spent in Italy, the more I realized how wrong I’ve been about these tiny little, misunderstood sea creatures. That’s me with the hairband in the back with my colleagues enjoying Carlino in the picture above.

Dinner at Il San Pietro was lovely too. Suffice it to say, the chef does wonders with a chicken breast (those are black truffles sitting on the chicken below!), potatoes (those perfectly round things pictured below) and spinach (with giant capers, garlic and olive oil). Believe it or not, this was my attempt at a light dinner!

The service at Il San Pietro in both the restaurants and the hotel is personal and impeccable. And the accommodations are very traditionally italian right down to the beautifully tiled floors. Each room is completely unique unto itself, and all have terraces with unforgettable views.

I loved my time at the Il San Pietro for many reasons and sincerely thank their gracious owners, the Cinque family, for creating such an amazingly perfect home away from home for all of their guests.

Saying arrivederci to Positano made me sad, but my next stop was Rome, where I got to fulfill another lifelong dream!

I had so much fun eating my way through the Amalfi Coast, but only skimmed the surface of all of the wonderful places to see, stay and eat so I can’t wait to return! Italy is proving to be an endless adventure in all things romantic & culinary and it’s reputation for fantastic hospitality and kindness is absolutely spot on.

Onto “The City of Fountains”!

Ciao for now!

Beth Friedman
Your Journey By Beth

If you’re interested in traveling to Positano or the Amalfi Coast (or anywhere else for that matter!), it’s my job make it happen for you! I can be reached at:

journeybybeth@yahoo.com
beth@elitetravelinternational.com
yourjourneybybeth.wordpress.com

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Filed under destination wedding, food, honeymoon, Italy, Romantic, travel