9 Epic Reasons to Visit San Diego in 2019 +1

It’s no secret that me, like other Canadians, loves to travel.  I have been to San Diego and SOCAL a few times and enjoy my time down there.  I received this list of 9 reasons to visit San Diego by their Tourism Bureau.  I’ve added another one at the end, being the wine lover that I am.  I hope you enjoy the 9 +1 reasons to go to San Diego.


9 Epic Reasons to Visit San Diego in 2019

Visit San Diego

Visit San Diego

The nation’s 8th largest city, San Diego may be known for its great weather, beautiful beaches and laid-back residents, but this dynamic urban metropolis is hosting so many big sporting and cultural events in 2019 that visitors might forget all about its relaxed SoCal character and vibe.

From internationally competitive beach games and professional baseball to a top music festival and the world’s leading pop culture celebration, the following 9 events are certain to guarantee epic excitement for San Diego visitors in 2019.

  1. 250th Commemoration of San Diego
    During 2019, San Diego will commemorate its establishment as the first settlement of Alta California in 1769. The City of San Diego and Old Town San Diego Chamber of Commerce will mark the 250th commemoration with planned activities including monthly lectures, special events like a Founders’ Day Festival and other family-friendly activities held in Old Town San Diego. The first settlement of Alta California included Mission San Diego de Alcala and a neighboring presidio, originally built above the area now known as Old Town.
  2. San Diego Padres 50th Season 
    On March 28, the San Diego Padres step up to the plate for the Opening Game of their exciting 50th season against the San Francisco Giants, played in Petco Park in the heart of downtown. In addition to six months of baseball action, fans enjoy one of the nation’s top ballparks combining the best sight lines in baseball, magnificent architecture, a dazzling array of food and drink venues and breathtaking views of San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline.
  3. Fallbrook Avocado Festival
    To San Diego residents, avocados are more than just a trendy topping on toast, and the annual Fallbrook Avocado Festival, held April 14, is a delectable example of the region’s love for the fashionable fruit. Since the 1960s, tens of thousands of avocado lovers have converged in Fallbrook, located in San Diego’s North County, to sample avocados, check-out the crazy cooking contest entries, buy funky avocado-themed gifts and enjoy bands, live entertainment and friendly beer gardens.
  4. Chicano Park Day
    Located underneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge overpass in Barrio Logan and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2017, Chicano Park is home to the world’s largest collection of Chicano murals. Held on April 20, Chicano Park Day is a free annual event celebrating the art and culture of San Diego’s Mexican/Chicano residents with traditional music, dance, a lowrider car show, vendor booths, kids’ arts workshops and more.
  5. San Diego Pride
    One of the West Coast’s largest Pride celebrations, San Diego Pride weekend, held July 13-15, features a colorful lineup of festivities including a headlining parade through Hillcrest and two-day festival in Balboa Park with exciting live musical performers like TLC and Kesha. San Diego Pride is the city’s largest civic event attracting more than 250,000 people annually. Additional events include the Spirit of Stonewall Rally, Pride of Hillcrest Block Party, SheFest, annual Pride 5K Race and an exciting calendar of Pride parties and dances.
  6. 50th Anniversary of Comic-Con
    Others will come and go, but the original Comic-Con started and remains in San Diego. The largest comics and pop culture event in the United States, Comic-Con International attracts thousands of artists, celebrities and fans of comic books, movie memorabilia and all things related to pop culture during July 18-21 to the San Diego Convention Center in downtown.
  7. KAABOO Del Mar
    Held Sept. 13-15 at the seaside Del Mar Fairgrounds, KAABOO Del Mar was created by music lovers for music lovers. KAABOO features seven stages and more than 100 musical acts, plus a dedicated comedy stage and food and beverages from local and celebrity chefs, craft breweries and local wineries. Past performers include the Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons, Katy Perry, Billy Idol, Jewel, Blondie and Earth, Wind & Fire, just to name a few.
  8. ANOC World Beach Games
    As the epicenter of beach, surf and extreme sports culture in Southern California, San Diego is proud to host the inaugural ANOC World Beach Games. Held Oct. 9-15 along scenic Mission Beach and Mission Bay, 2,000 top athletes and teams from around the world will compete in 17 sports disciplines ranging from beach soccer and beach volleyball to kiteboarding and waterskiing to bouldering and skateboarding.
  9. USA Ultimate National Championships
    Elevating frisbee playing to a whole different level of sport, the USA Ultimate National Championships represent the pinnacle of elite ultimate frisbee competition in North America. Held Oct. 24-27 at the Surf Cup Sports Park in scenic Del Mar, 16 teams from across North America including Boston, New York, Seattle, Chicago, Austin and Vancouver B.C. compete to be crowned champions in three divisions: men’s, mixed and women’s.

+1 Take a short trip from San Diego to the Temecula Valley and sample their wines.   Try wines from Hart or Leoness and other
wineries.  I wrote an article about my visit to the Temecula Valley a few years ago.

A Gastronomical Journey Through the “Garden of France” with Insight Vacations

Do you love French food and have time to go on a foodie journey in the Loire Valley this fall?  If so, you may want to consider signing up for this guided trip.  I came across it and it looks fabulous.  I’ve toured the Loire Valley on my own before, and loved the food and wine.  I’d love to take this trip myself.


TORONTO – May 28, 2015 – Insight Vacations (www.insightvacations.com), the leader in premium and luxury escorted journeys, has introduced The Loire Valley (www.insightvacations.com/ca/special-offers/expert-hosted-collection/the-loire-valley) – a limited one-time departure that leads guests on a 13-day magical journey of food, wine and history through the villages and vineyards of the famed region. Designed to satisfy even the most discerning of food connoisseurs, The Loire Valley has been curated by Barbara Barde, an Insight Vacations Tour Director, and private certified sommelier Tom LeRoy.

Loire Valley tour

Loire Valley tour

“We are excited to launch our newest special interest trip in our Expert Hosted Collection, catered specifically to foodies and wine aficionados,” said Cris David, president, Insight Vacations Canada. “Insight Vacations is renowned for creating lasting experiences and memories with our guests, and with the help of Barbara Barde and Tom LeRoy, The Loire Valley culinary odyssey will offer our travellers an experience their palates will not soon forget.”

Departing September 26, 2015, this exclusive gastronomical adventure begins in Paris, one of the great culinary capitals of the world. Synonymous with wine production dating back to the 1st century, the region offers guests an incomparable cultural landscape of great beauty comprised of ancient towns and family owned vineyards. Guests will eat and drink their way through the “Garden of France”, all the while experiencing the Loire Valley through the eyes of a true gastronome with the help of local experts.

Each Insight Vacations escorted journey offers unique Signature Experiences where guests discover more than just the highlights other travel experiences provide. Travellers are introduced to local guides who immerse them in regional culture and unlock doors for them they simply cannot arrange on their own. Signature Experiences found on The Loire Valley include the following:

– Visit to the Maison Louis de Grenelle, the last remaining family-owned property of the major Saumur sparkling producers, where guests will learn the art of sustainable viticulture while 12 metres beneath the cobblestone streets of this historic town.

– Discover the fascinating secret world of mushrooms at the Musée du Champignon in the village of St. Hilaure, touring the underground cave exhibiting the many cultivation methods of the species indigenous to the region.

– Dine at the Cathédrales de la Saulaie, a 19th century subterranean restaurant located in a cathedral-sized Troglodyte cave specializing in local Pays de la Loire dishes.way to Chinon, learn the art of perfecting the balance of tradition and modernity in wine-making at the family-owned Frederic Mobileau Vigneron winery, known for offering multi-faceted wines from the Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil, Bourgueil, Saumur and Anjou appellations, whilst visiting the 2,000 hectares of the Couly-Duthier winery.

– At Sancerre, guests will sample the stunning varietals of this region long revered for specializing in 100 per cent Sauvignon Blanc wines while sampling sumptuous goat cheese at Chèveries de Chamons.

“Food and wine have long been passions of mine and I am proud to be personally hosting The Loire Valley. I have handpicked each experience to reflect my love of French gastronomy and look forward to welcoming guests to the ‘Garden of France’,” says Barbara Barde, Insight Vacations Tour Director.

Click on the following link to watch Barbara Barde explaining the Loire Valley itinerary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0O2E54xk0g

“It is an honour to be hosting with Barbara on this trip,” adds Tom LeRoy, wine sommelier. “I can think of no better way to share my passion for wine than to be the personal sommelier to guests on this special curated experience.”

To book this escorted journey or for more information, please visit www.insightvacations.com, contact Insight’s Sale Centre at 1-800-387-8490 or speak with your local travel agent.

About Barbara Barde

Barbara is an award winning television producer, with over 600 titles to her credit. She began appreciating and collecting wine almost 20 years ago and is known for her impressive cellar. She is also a “foodie”, always on the lookout for an amazing recipe, new ingredients, or a restaurant that no one has heard of. Barbara is also a passionate traveler and has spent the last several summers leading tours with Insight Vacations and other companies. She will be the Tour Director.

About Tom LeRoy

Wine Sommelier Tom LeRoy is a criminal lawyer in Toronto who began collecting and appreciating wine fifteen years ago. A true aficionado of wine, he has recently obtained a wine specialist certificate from George Brown College and was also certified as a Wine Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers. Tom is also a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers.

About Insight Vacations

For more than 35 years, Insight Vacations (www.insightvacations.com) has been designing the world’s finest escorted travel itineraries. Insight offers 113 journeys to more countries across Europe than any other operator and provides the same legendary service across North America, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Morocco, Egypt and Israel.

Insight guests enjoy The Art of Touring in Style with business-class legroom aboard customized luxury coaches, intimate groups of just 40 travellers and the services of an experienced Tour Director who acts as ‘travelling concierge.’ Each expertly planned itinerary includes a range of Signature Events for a unique and authentic look into the history and culture of each destination. Throughout their trip, guests will stay in handpicked hotels that are centrally or scenically located and have the perfect balance of guided and independent exploration.

For more information, visit us at http://www.insightvacations.com, on social media at http://www.facebook.com/InsightVacations, http://twitter.com/InsightVacation, and join the conversation using the hashtag #InsightMoments.

About TreadRight

Created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s family of brands, the TreadRight Foundation is a not-for-profit working to ensure the environment and communities we visit remain vibrant for generations to come. To date, TreadRight has supported more than 35 sustainable tourism projects worldwide. The Foundation’s guiding principle is to encourage sustainable tourism development through conservation, leadership and support for communities. Foundation priorities are set by the Steering Committee, which includes sustainability leaders like Céline Cousteau and Costas Christ.

TreadRight’s past project partners include WWF, Conservation International and The National Trust in the UK. Current initiatives include sponsoring the National Geographic Society’s inaugural “World Legacy Awards,” and inspiring wildlife advocates like Terri Irwin.

To learn more about our past and current work at TreadRight, please visit us at treadright.org.


Go Fly a Kite in Jakarta

Museum Layang Layang Indonesia

Museum Layang Layang Indonesia

Did you know that kites originated in Indonesia?  That is one of the things that I learned when I visited the Kite Museum in Jakarta, Indonesia.  Kite in Indonesian is “layang-layang” BTW.  If you ask someone to go to the kite museum, use the word layang-layang.    The museum is privately owned, and charges for admission, at a very reasonable rate.  It is very family friendly.  The kites to view are indoors, while the interactive, build-your-own-kite, is outside, on a patio with a roof.  There were many families enjoying their weekend, the day that I arrived.

Viewing the Kites

Inside I saw that there were kites of many different designs.  It appears that different regions of Indonesia have specific designs or styles that make them distinct.  There are also many different sizes of kites.  Some were the size of a large coin, while others the size of a large vehicle.  When I normally think of a kit, I think of the simple diamond, or bat-shaped kite, that I flew on the breezy spring days in Canada.  But as I saw in the kites on display, there were not only simple, flat kites, but also many 3 dimensional kites, representing, fish, people and animals.  These kites must have taken many days to design and to build.  After walking through, and being impressed, by the kite display, I sat in a darkened room, with other visitors, and watched a short video about Indonesian kites, and kite festivals.  I saw that some of the larger kites, needed several people to launch the kite as well as it keep it in check while in the air.  It was quite fascinating, and I thought would be a wonderful thing to see in North America (a kite festival).

A very intricate kite

A very intricate kite

A human kite

A human kite

Dragonfly kite

Dragonfly kite

Making a Kite

After looking at kites, and watching a video about kites, you get a chance to build your own kite!  You are provided with the frame pre-built, make of thin lengths of bamboo, tied together.  They provide you with paper cut to a slightly larger shape than the kite, a bottle of white glue, and crayons.  You start off by applying glue to the frame and pressing it against the paper to initially glue it in place.  You then start applying glue, by finger; no glue stick or brushes here.  All part of the fun.  Apply glue to one edge of the paper that extends beyond the frame, then fold it over. Repeat for the remaining edges.  Once that is complete, it is time for you to show off your creativity by drawing some design on the side of the paper outside of the bamboo frame.  Mine was a cross between a fish and a dragon.  I did see others make drawings of flowers and other Indonesian designs on their kites.  The kite was then finished off by a person who precisely measured string that extended from the left to right edges of the kite, as well as another string in the center.  I proudly showed off my kite, but there was no room to fly it in the museum grounds.  I did give my kite to a child to hopefully enjoy in an open outdoor space.

Karl MyWinePal and his kite

Karl MyWinePal and his kite

I really enjoyed the Layang-Layang Museum and recommend it if you want to enjoy an afternoon while on your trip to Jakarta.  Here is TripAdvisors Review of the Kite Museum in Jakarta so you can get the address as well.


Keeping Your Wine safe on Trips

We all worry about traveling with a bottle(s) of wine. If you are flying, will that bottle in your suitcase make it? If you are driving, will the bottle bump against something in your trunk and break? I thought I’d pass along 2 types of holders that I use for my wine bottles when I’m traveling.

The first holder is a neoprene bag that is designed specifically to fit tightly around a single 750ml bottle of wine. You can get these bags for single bottles or two bottles. I have the two bottle version as I usually never travel with one bottle only. The neoprene case comes with a built-in handle so that you can carry it from your car to a party or wherever you are going. I usually use this type of carrier for car trips, or other short trips around town. If you have the 2 bottle case, laying this down in the trunk of your car, the bottles will not roll.  The brand of my bottle holder is BUILT.  I bought mine at Winners, but I’ve seen them being sold in many different stores.  In case you want to buy online, here is the BUILT website.

The other is a cardboard tube with a cap. This is also for a single 750ml wine bottle. Depending on the girth of the bottle, you may be able to fit some bubble pad around the bottle. I usually pack these for my more expensive bottles of wine that go inside the suitcase on a plane flight. After watching suitcases falling off conveyor belts or being handled roughly by baggage handlers, I think that this container is quite reasonable to choose. I purchased my cardboard tube wine holder at Michaels, but I’ve seen them at specialty houseware stores.  On your flight back you have this holder to bring back wine from wherever you traveled, or a place to store fragile items.

I hope you are able to make use of either of these peace of mind, wine holders.  I know I’ll be using them this holiday season.  Cheers!

Speaking at the SWWS

Wow, last night was fun. I spoke at the South World Wine Society’s “Planning a New Zealand Vacation” wine tasting. I shared the floor with a travel agent who gave the tour info about New Zealand. Now I really want to travel to New Zealand. It looks very beautiful.

For me last evening, I took the attendees through 9 wines, 4 were white and the rest were red. It was quite interesting. Two of the whites were sauvignon blanc, and very good examples of the “green” type flavours you can get with this grape. The first wine had a lot of gooseberry aroma and flavour and the other lots of asparagus.

On the red side, we were able to try a 9 year old bottle (2000 vintage) of Matiriki Quintology. It’s a Bordeaux blend, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% merlot, then smaller amounts of syrah, malbec and cabernet franc.

I will make a full tasting report on the www.southworldwine.com website but it probably will take me a week.

Starting over again

For those that have followed my blog on www.MyWinePal.com, welcome to my new blog site. The old site had a limitation on storage and I hit the limit. So what I am doing is porting over my existing blogs here, then will add to them with my latest wine adventures.

For those that are new to the MyWinePal.com blog, welcome! I do enjoy travelling to wine regions of the world and telling people about them, as well as local wine happenings in Vancouver, BC, and general wine education. You will see in the upcoming blogs that I transfer about my trip to Burgundy and Alsace in France. Later this year you will read about my trip to Oregon and then about Chile.

I do like answering people’s questions about wine, so do not hesitate to contact me.