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Villa Pajaro

Villa Pajaro is a luxury 5 bedroom, 5 1/2 bath, 3 level, 8,000 square foot hacienda style home. Situated in the Conchas Chinas heights, in the friendly resort city of Puerto Vallarta, you're just five minutes from the beach and seven minutes from downtown with a spectacular view overlooking the Bay of Banderas. The large entry courtyard is adjacent to a stone columned loggia with beamed ceilings. A path from the courtyard leads to the private pool and garden below.

Traveling with Your Pets

Our pets are often a big part of the family, and when we're planning a holiday away from home, we wish we could take them along. Well, here's good news for you pet lovers; with a little forethought and planning they can come along! offers many properties that allow pets (usually with a damage deposit or additional cleaning fee). Ask us for a villa or apartment that will welcome your pet.

A few weeks before you depart, get your pet a physical, complete with vaccinations necessary for the area to which you are traveling. A direct, uncrowded flight is best (an evening flight if the weather is warm), but the vet can also give you tranquilizers to calm your pet for the long journey. If you're unsure whether your pet is up for the trip - ask. Most airline and state officials mandate a clean bill of health in the form of a health certificate dated within 10 days prior to travel before your pet can fly with you.

For U.S. territories and foreign countries, contact the appropriate embassy, governmental agency or consulate at least one month in advance before making arrangements for your pet. Moreover, some states require certain pets to have entry permits issued by the destination state's regulatory agency, and may request to view the interstate health certificate in advance of issuing the permit. Some even limit the time during which the entry permit is valid.
Always keep an ID collar with your name and phone number on your pet, and always travel with favorite toys, proof of vaccination and proper licenses. Bring color photos of your pet, as well, in the unfortunate event he gets lost.

Kathy kayaking with her petsBecause airlines limit the number of pets that can be on board at once, have your travel agent notify the airline of your pet when your reservation is made. Also ask for the allowable dimensions of your pet carrier. Regulations state that dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and fully-weaned before flying. If your pet is pregnant or in heat, do not subject it to air travel. Written instructions for food and water must accompany any shipped pet regardless of the amount of time they are scheduled to spend in transit. Unless your vet signs a certificate otherwise, your pet may not be exposed to temperatures less than 45 degrees.

If your pet is less than 15 pounds and you are on a domestic flight, you may be able to fit a small, airline-approved kennel (check with your travel agent) under the seat in front of you. Out of respect for the person sitting next to you, inform passengers that you've brought your pet along so they may switch seats with someone else if they suffer from pet allergies. Have paper towels and a scooper on hand for any inevitable accidents that may occur. On international flights, larger animals can be shipped (for a fee) in the forward cargo bins, which are climate-controlled. Contact your travel agent or the airline for specific information on fees and requirements.

Exercise, feed and give water to your pet before you leave, and place a dish for food and one for water inside the kennel. If you're shipping your pet, write the words "LIVE ANIMAL" all over the crate with arrows pointing in the upright direction, and put your name, phone number and address on a well-fastened label. Secure but don't lock the crate so airline personnel can access it if necessary. Make certain enough air is getting in. Check with your travel agent or call your airline and find out if there is an additional cost for your pet to travel with you.

Dear Travelers and Friends,

After a warm and sunny summer here in the Pacific Northwest, we find ourselves in the middle of the fall season and our minds start wandering back to images of beaches and warmer climes. If you are thinking along the same lines, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico or the Caribbean may be perfect for a fall getaway.

Although most of our properties in those areas are booked for the November-December time period, we do have occasional cancellations. This is good news if you're considering a last-minute jaunt to paradise. And with our new "Check Availability" button on each individual property page, it's easy to check availability for a specific villa, apartment or condominium.

Not quite ready for the beach yet? How about an autumn trip to Tuscany? It's the "low season" there right now, so imagine very few tourists, quaint villages, and the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of central Italy. With an average daytime temperature of 61 degrees Fahrenheit in late autumn, it is still warm enough to experience a walk amidst the fall colors. Then, come back to your villa to sip one of the regional wines next to a cozy fire in the fireplace. Go mushroom hunting and bring back the spoils for your cook to prepare a savory dish for the evening meal. Visit the uncrowded antique markets or attend a village festival.

Tuscany is amazing in the fall. And to help you with your vacation planning, we're offering all of our Tuscan properties at 15% off of the already low "low season" prices! To take advantage of these prices, just stay at any of our properties in Tuscany between November 1 and December 31. Call us today and be in Tuscany next week!

Bon Voyage!

Emmanuel de Ricard, President


Milan CathedralItalian Lake District: the Northern Frontier
Part II

Milan is the second largest city in Italy, situated exactly in the middle of the Great Plain of Lombardy and thus linking north to south. One and a half million people live inside the city and over four million inhabit the greater Milan area. As a hub of rail, air, and roads, it's an efficient and business-like metropolis with an excellent public transport network and good public services. Its cathedrals, palaces, museums, and renowned shopping arcade are phenomenal. It's considered the European capital of fashion.

The 4 best known lakes in this region are Como, Garda, Lugano and Maggiore, but there are many more. Some are hidden like jewels in dense forest and others support bustling towns. These shores have been favorites of writers, musicians and artists such as Goethe, Hesse, Klee, Toscanini, Hemingway, and Byron. The beauty is truly inspirational!

Milan GalleriaJust 30 minutes from Milan is the famous fiord-like Lake Como. Also called Lario, it has the most developed shoreline. Stunning restaurants, hotels, and marinas are tastefully designed to beckon travelers, and a scenic road follows the ancient Strada Regina lined with elegant villas and aristocratic gardens. Hillsides are home to vineyards, olives, and lemon groves.

As in all of Italy, the food is extraordinary. Traditional dishes include minestrone, costaletta (breaded veal cutlet), risotto with saffron, lake fish, casoeula (a rich dish of pork and cabbage), light olive oil, good wines, and an ice cream parfait of lemon, cream and eggs. You'll love it!

Filet MignonsFilet Mignons with Brandy, Cream and Peppercorns
Filetto con Brandy, Crema e Pepe Verde

2 Tbsp ketchup
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
4-5 drops Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp green peppercorns OR a pinch of cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp olive oil
6 filet mignons, 3/4 inch thick
1/3 cup brandy
1/2 cup whipping cream

In a small bowl, combine ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and green peppercorns or cayenne. Melt butter with oil in a large skillet. When butter foams, add meat. Cook over medium-high heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove meat from skillet. Add brandy. Deglaze skillet by stirring to dissolve meat juices attached to bottom of skillet. Add ketchup-mustard mixture and cream; mix well. Return meat to skillet. Season with salt. Cook over medium heat to preferred doneness. Place meat on a warm platter. Spoon sauce over meat. Garnish as desired and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

TombstoneActual Tombstone Epitaphs:

"He was a simple man who died of complications."

"I came into this world without my consent and left in the same manner."

"Stranger, tread this ground with gravity: Dentist Brown has filled his last cavity."

"H.D. Smith looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on its way down. It was."

Les VignesThis attractive complex of recently renovated farmhouses, Les Vignes, was once the residence of an 18th century silkworm breeder.

"It is hard to believe that I have now been home from Oppede for 2 whole weeks. The sights, sounds and fragrances are still so fresh. My friends have returned home except for 2 people who are in a cooking school in Italy. We have had so much fun sharing pictures and experiences.

All agree that it was the perfect place to be. Your beautiful place provided the right balance between privacy, small group gatherings and the group of 19 coming together. We especially enjoyed our group dinners - 2 by the pool and 1 in your great room.

Testimonial from Les VignesWe appreciate your flexibility in allowing us to take kitchen items from the various apartments to keep in one main kitchen. In addition, you were so generous in letting us borrow items from your main kitchen. Your helpfulness in every way is something everybody talks about, in addition to the cleanliness of the property and the quickness with which you addressed requests for help and repairs.

I keep thinking about your gorgeous location in the midst of a vineyard and within short distances of the hilltop villages and other historic market towns. Just thinking about all of this, I realize I am ready to return. Don't be surprised if you see some of us again. All of us travel a lot. It is quite a compliment to you and your staff that so many people are ready to return."

- CS, New York (October 2005)

Selecting watermelons is an art form.

You have to thump a bunch of them before finding the right one.

One hot summer day a blind man, a piano tuner by trade, came into my store. He felt and thumped some of the larger melons, but he always returned to the same one.

Then, with two final resounding thumps, he announced, "B flat! I'll take it!""

Newsletter editor: Kathy Hayes


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