Travel Diaries

From Maui to the Magic Kingdom

by Kristen Gray

Hiking the Great Wall, shopping in Istanbul and whale-gazing in island paradise.

Mother and daughter in the Far East

Marie Hurabiell, Chief Business Officer at Ellipsis Health, has been traveling globally with 13-year-old daughter Cassidy since she was just 7 months old. “On our recent three-week trip to China, we planned accordingly to steep ourselves in Chinese culture by staying a little off the beaten path and partaking in non-touristy activities,” Hurabiell explains. “We hiked the Great Wall, but not the normal tourist way. We started at the Jiankou section of the wall called the Wild Wall, which is the part that has never been restored—crumbling, steep, slippery and with the encroachment of nature. The views are magnificent and the hike was awesome, although terrifying at parts!”

A Disneyland dream come true

“My 4-year-old son, Seth, just spent the last year in chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer, and Make-A-Wish Foundation gifted him the trip of a lifetime to Disneyland for four days,” says Steven Lurie, founder of Team Builder Ventures. “Seth loves trains, so we took the Amtrak train for 13 hours from San Francisco to Los Angeles, where he even got to “drive”—he was thrilled. We spent three magical days at Disneyland, where he met his heroes: Lightning McQueen and Mater from the Pixar movie Cars. … Seth had a great attitude during his treatment, even though he had to miss a year of school. This Make-A-Wish trip was great—he got to be a child again, go on thrilling rides, meet characters and see his extended family.”

Istanbul’s hidden hotspots

“The city defies history, is an extravagance for the senses and certainly a place where I draw so much inspiration for my jewelry designs,” says Dilara Saatçi, whose namesake line of necklaces, bracelets and earrings is based in SF. “There are many must-see places, such as the Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia mosque, but let me share some ‘secret spots’ with you where you might bump into a Turkish celebrity: Nisantasi is my favorite shopping neighborhood. For boutiques I suggest Machka—I always receive clothing compliments, also Ipekyol and Network. A must-stop is Beymen, which is similar to Neiman Marcus, and is great for people-watching. I highly recommend the Four Seasons, Bosphorus. It is conveniently located and has a Hamam [a Turkish bath]. A few blocks away is the The Ciragan Palace, where John F. Kennedy Jr. and bride Carolyn Bessette Kennedy stayed during their honeymoon.”

A proposal in Hawaii

Tamsin Lonsdale, founder of The Supper Club, a private dinner club with a new branch in SF, and her beau (now fiancé!) Christian Toraldo, recently traveled to Kauai and Maui to celebrate her birthday and babymoon. “My favorite moment was being proposed to by Christian on the beach at the St. Regis as the sun set in Kauai,” she says. “We also completed a five-mile hike through the mahogany plantations and got caught in a rainstorm—warming up over indulgent whipped cream hot chocolates in the local village of Kilhauea was a perfect ending. In Maui, we watched humpback whales breach under a rainbow in Kapalua—mother and calf—just magical.”

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