A Quick Note on Why I Love Social Media

This week, I am sailing aboard the Viking Hemming through the Douro River in Portugal. I love river cruising - you can explode in your room for a week and everything is taken care of for you as you watch the world go by.

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

But today, I was reminded why the benefits of social media far outweigh the negative aspects. For the past several years, I've traveled the world, often alone. While I love it, managing loneliness on the road is something you deal with.

I always say the point of online is to go offline. Social media has changed my career, it's made me meet people that have become seriously good friends - some of my best friends even. It's made the world smaller in the best possible way. I have my "Little Black Book" for travel - friends that I've made all over the world that introduce me to their friends and friends of friends. It absolutely helps when I'm writing my stories, but it makes me feel at home in the world, especially when I'm missing my kitchen and my own bed.

We are in Porto, Portugal today which is a beautiful Old World European city on the river. I decided to take the morning to roam around myself. I had heard from a friend that I had to see The Yeatman Hotel, a Relais & Chateaux property that has an extensive wine program and spa. So I wandered over, ordered a cappuccino and read another 50 pages in The Goldfinch. And I also tweeted the incredible view from the hotel's terrace, mentioning their Twitter handle.

About 15 minutes later, the wonderful director of marketing, Richard Bowden, appeared and said "Are you Annie?" He had seen my tweet, and had come to find me and offered to give me a tour. How amazing is that? He even ended up driving me back to the ship. This hotel, which just so happens to be stunningly gorgeous, gets it. 

The point of online is to go offline.

Here are a few shots I snapped at The Yeatman today - Click the photo to scroll through the gallery!

Finding a Perfect Wine Shop in Paris

There are so many wine shops in Paris but we stumbled upon one near our apartment that beat all the other ones. It's called La Dernière Goutte and I know you will love it too. First, it's not intimidating in the slightest. When we walked in, a Chase Crawford look-a-like welcomed us with tastes of a few open bottles. He spoke great English and we chatted about what we like and don't like. I had one of the best pinot noirs of my life and it was around 10 euros a bottle. Wine in France is so delicious and so cheap - you really can't go wrong. Plus, this corner spot is in the heart of the 6th arr. on the Left Bank - and you know it's a local favorite.

Address: 6 rue de Bourbon le Chateau, 6th arr. (tucked away but not far from the main Blvd Saint-Germain)

Metro: Saint-Germain-des-Prés or Odéon

Sneak Peek: The Okanagan, British Columbia

I'm on a whirlwind, 36-hour trip to the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia, known for its beautiful lake, amazing wineries, and emerging restaurant scene - staying on the grounds of the most beautifully perched vineyard, Mission Hill. The bell tower lends a very European feel when it echoes through the winery.

Here's my view from dinner tonight at Mission Hill Terrace.

Bell tower at sunset