Travel Diaries

From Lugano to Vietnam

By Kristen Gray

This month, our globetrotters worked on a film in Switzerland, spent a family reunion traveling the Mediterranean by boat and swam the Great Barrier Reef.

The land Down Under

Hailey Harmon, founder of sustainable luxury accessories brand AITCH AITCH, and boyfriend Chris Kelso recently embarked on a three-week adventure to meet a friend’s first child in Melbourne, Australia, and attend another friend’s wedding in Vietnam. “While in Melbourne we stayed at the Olsen Hotel. It was located in a cool neighborhood with restaurants and shopping,” Harmon says. “It was flat enough that we were able to view the city by bike, which is the only way to truly view a city.” Afterward, the couple moved on to Sydney, making stops in wine country and fishing towns along the way. “We took a ferry out in the Sydney Harbour, and caught this amazing sunset.” Venturing further up the coast, “we were fortunate enough to visit the Great Barrier Reef. It was an amazing firsthand experience to see the wildlife and the neon colors of the reef, but also sad because of all the dead coral. It kept global warming front of mind.” Harmon and Kelso also explored Whitehaven Beach, located on Whitsunday Island, famously home to what many believe are the most beautiful beaches in the world. “We could have stayed a week,” she raves.

Total eclipse of the heart

Photographer Shannon Ellenburg and boyfriend George Charos viewed the solar eclipse while camping cliffside in Utah’s Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef National Park, a gorgeous stop on the couple’s 10-day, 2,700-mile road trip through the state’s five national parks: Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and Zion. “We basically decided to turn George’s Suburban into a camper, by building out a platform to cover the entire back half of the vehicle for us to sleep on,” Ellenburg says. “Our last stop on the trip was Moab, which is one of the only sizable towns in that region and sort of reminded me of Sante Fe, with an artsy feel to it.” She adds: “Although we didn’t have the best view of the eclipse—as the sun was only 85 percent covered by the moon—the experience was amazing, even how the temperature dropped about 15 degrees. After roughing it, we decided to take a break from camping and stayed at the Capitol Reef Resort for one night.”

Filmmaker’s retreat
While in Europe, Caroline von Kühn, Director of Artist Development at SFFILM, had the opportunity to mix business and pleasure at a gorgeous lakeside villa in Lugano, Switzerland, where a Bay Area filmmaking team was working on a documentary about six Americans traveling through Cairo and experiencing life in a predominantly Muslim country. “It was an incredibly idyllic setting to explore artistic pursuits,” she says. “Footage reviews and strategy meetings were accompanied by homemade meals each day, evening runs along the cobblestone streets around the lake and gondola rides up a mountain.” The group meandered through quaint villages and “swam nightly under the moon,” von Kühn recalls, noting: “Lugano is on the Swiss-Italian border so there are heavy Italian influences in the cuisine, but with a Swiss twist. There were very few Americans, but many Swiss, German, Dutch and Italian tourists, which made for a wonderfully removed feel. The Locarno Film Festival was taking place about 45 minutes away, so filmmaker friends would visit to discuss the film and have an afternoon swim.” Von Kühn, who moved from New York to San Francisco in January, relishes the similarities between her new home and bohemian Lugano. “Returning to SF made me appreciate how European this city really is—in how we value intelligence and culture… .”

Lucca lady
PR guru Lori Puccinelli Stern, with three generations of Puccinellis in tow, sailed the Mediterranean to celebrate a trio of milestones: her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, father’s 75th birthday and mother’s 70th. Puccinelli Stern, VP at Glodow Nead, was joined by husband Peter Stern and daughters Bailey and Logan as the family vacationed aboard a small luxury vessel. “We were on the boat for three days at sea, and nine days in port,” says Puccinelli Stern. “We visited four countries and over a dozen towns. The best part is that we had a home base for basically the entire time, and didn’t have to worry about repacking and bouncing from place to place. My wonderful parents gifted this trip to the entire family.” The Puccinellis are from Lucca, Italy, which is surrounded by a gigantic Renaissance-era wall. “I’ll never forget the sight of my father holding hands with his grandchildren and walking through Lucca telling them the stories of his heritage.” Other stops included Barcelona and Venice. “I have never seen anything like it: a city built entirely on water,” marvels Puccinelli Stern of the latter.

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