Carli Whitwell and her husband attempt to find some common holiday ground.
I came to the realization that my husband and I are vacation incompatible when we were on our honeymoon. We were in the crumbling, romantic seaside city of Syracuse in Sicily. I was jonesing for a little loungey beach time, preferably with my new BFFs: cassata (a ricotta sponge cake) and espresso. But Tim had hunted down an archaeology museum, so instead I found myself wandering after him through its dusty corridors for hours.
So we divorced. Kidding! But to avoid future tantrums – mine, not his – we devised a plan. Going forward, we’d divide all vacations: 50 percent sightseeing, 50 percent slothing.
We tested out the approach on a recent getaway in Napa Valley and San Francisco. A road trip, I reasoned, would ensure that I could hop in the car and hightail it to the nearest beach if Tim pulled the museum sneak attack. It might not come as a surprise that Napa (wine, sunshine, spas, swimming) is my thing. There are 501 wineries in the county, and according to our tour guide, David, “There isn’t a bad glass of Cab Sauv.” Challenge accepted, sir.
The author and her husband. Image by: Ford Canada
First up: sightseeing. Our Napa time began with a visit to Elizabeth Spencer Winery. This mom-and-pop operation doesn’t grow its own grapes; rather, it sources them from local vineyards. Spencer’s was my kind of tasting: We were served in a tree-lined courtyard. For those who prefer the romance of a wine tour, I’d recommend Davis Estates. It’s the passion project of Mike Davis, a gregarious-cowboy type who made it big in the tech boom and then went into the wine biz – for fun. The tour is worth it to see his palatial manor alone; apparently some state senators had stopped by the week before. A blissful Tim took so many photos his iPhone died. Meanwhile, I powered through until I found a comfy hanging chair on the terrace overlooking the valley.
Round two: sloth mode. You won’t find any impersonal 500-room hotels in Napa; it is mostly B&Bs or small resorts. We stayed at the ultra-luxe Calistoga Ranch – think summer camp for millionaires – which has just 50 rooms. They call the rooms “lodges,” which is apt because they’re bigger than my condo and feature outdoor fireplaces, outdoor showers and hot tubs. It’s also worth noting that the resort is in a forest, so it smells like you’re inside a cedar-scented candle. We wrapped up our stay with a deep-tissue couples massage in the ranch’s Auberge Spa, after which I nearly cried because I didn’t want to leave.
The Golden Gate Bridge. Image by: Getty
Next up: city sightseeing. Knowing we were headed into his territory, Tim appeased me by letting me drive. I dawdled as much as I could, taking a leisurely, winding route into the city before hitting all the classic tourist stops – Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, AT&T Park (the stadium where Kanye proposed to Kim, so obvs a must-stop) and the OG hippie haunt, Haight-Ashbury. (FYI, Deadheads: 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, and the city is hosting exhibitions and festivals all year long.)
Today’s San Fran is not the Full House iteration you grew up with. It’s now a home base for booming neighbour Silicon Valley, and apartments here cost more than their Manhattan equivalents. The people-watching is just as good as the Big Apple’s: Over truffle fries and a glass of Cab Sauv in the St. Regis hotel, I’m pretty sure we saw at least five app-development deals go down.
San Francisco's "Painted Ladies" on "Postcard Row" Image by: Istock
As the city has evolved, so, too, has the food scene. The region now boasts 49 Michelin-starred restos. We ended our getaway with a meal at the buzzy Twenty Five Lusk, which recently got a thumbs-up from Barack Obama. “Nobody comes here once,” our guide had told us about the city. Turns out not even sedentary vacationers like me can resist it. We’re already planning our next trip.
JOY RIDE Your road trip is only as good as your wheels. Here are my three must-haves.
The 2017 Lincoln Continental Image by: Ford Canada
1. Comfy seats. We test drove the 2017 Lincoln Continental, and I can report that the leather seats were as soft as the marshmallow-like bed in my Napa lodge. They also boast back massagers.
2. A good sound system. The Lincoln’s 10 speakers ensure you can always play Rihanna at full blast, as she should be.
3. A jacked-up dashboard. Among its many tricks, it shows the speed limit of the road you’re on. This is helpful when you’re pulling a Jack Kerouac and have no idea where you are or how fast you should be going.
This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of ELLE Canada.
Drew Barrymore's new show is not for the faint of heart. Or stomach, to be more specific.
As you'll see in this brand new trailer below, Drew (along with Timothy Olyphant and their adorable chemistry) stars as what seems like a very nice lady who has suddenly found herself to a be a zombie. Cue the guts, gore and unexpectedly uplifting family-conquering-all-together montages.
The comedy drops on Netflix February 3.
It's totally anonymous and could be answered during our upcoming Facebook Live.
Over 2,000 of you answered the really, really personal questions from our ELLE Canada Sex and Relationship Survey. Now it’s your turn to look under the sheets. What have you always wanted to know about sex and love (but didn't want to ask)? Is there anything we didn't include in our survey?
Our expert panel – including relationship expert Cynthia Loyst and Jessica Wood from the University of Guelph – will attempt to answer your questions during our upcoming Facebook Live on Monday, Jan. 23. Think of it as an educational girl talk. It’s also totally anonymous, so ask us anything. For real.
Miaou's "Brigitte" jeans.
Prepare to gain a new appreciation for grommets.
The story of Alexia Elkaim's new denim label Miaou (pronounced "meow," in case you were wondering) is a bit like the plot of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. "I wanted to make a pair of jeans that fit all of my friends," says Elkaim, who was inspired by a pair of jeans she picked up a flea market in Paris. "I thought 'let me see what I can do with this pattern.'"
Elkaim, who previously worked as a music editor at CR Fashion Book and then as a casting agent, is quick to admit that she's not a "denim girl," explaining that her jeans are meant for someone who prefers to wear dresses. "My jeans are novelty pieces, maybe you could wear them everyday, but you don't see jeans like this everyday."
Elkaim photographed her friends for the lookbook, and struck gold when her first design, the Brigitte – a high-rise, tight fitting jeans with rope and grommet embellishments – were spotted on Bella Hadid. "Celebrity seeding is everything," says Elkaim, whose Instagram DMs blew up after photos of Bella in the jeans appeared on The Daily Mail in November of last year. "She's the only celebrity I sent my jeans to, and they look great on her. I'm glad it was successful."
And what about the jeans' most prominent feature, those strategically placed grommets? Elkaim's answer is simple: "I think grommets are sexy and cool." The other standout feature of Miaou jeans is the lack of a waistband. According to Elkaim, this allows the denim to hug the body without pinching.
Elkaim is slowly working her way up to a full collection. For now, she's released the Tommy, a jean with a looser fit through the leg as well as a pinstripe pant that's very Wall Street-meets-Clueless. Each pair features those now-signature grommets, through which you can thread a glittery chain or a colourful satin tie.
When asked to give advice to anyone dreaming of starting their own line, Elkaim emphasizes focusing on one product: "Make it the best product you can, so when people look at it they will associate you with your product – that's when you know you have a brand. A brand is known for something, always."