Melissa's Travels

On the Road with Melissa: June

The second installment of On the Road with Melissa covers the Indagare founder’s exciting travels from the past six weeks. From a visit to the brand new SFMOMA to gorilla trekking in Rwanda, Indagare's founder recently traveled near and far. Here, she reveals exciting travel news and her favorite discoveries.

Related: On the Road with Melissa: April

Where I’ve Been:

San Francisco

Rwanda and UgandaCape Town

Favorite Finds:

Cape Town

An hour drive from Cape Town, Franschhoek has to be one of the most charming small towns in the world, and now it has two more great places for visitors: Leeu House, a 12-room hotel right in town and its grander sister property Leeu Estates in a vineyard outside of town. I spent the night at Leeu House and had a tour of soon-to-open Leeu Estates. Both are great options for wine country stays.

San Francisco: The City by the Bay is undergoing a serious art boom that has been fueled by passionate local art lovers. The main attraction, of course, is SFMOMA, which reopened on May 14 after a three-year, $610 million renovation that doubled the size of the museum, making it the largest modern art space in the country. The Snøhetta design has been hailed for its façade that was inspired by the city’s fog, mist, hills and pioneering spirit, but its interior galleries are such perfect spaces to view the works of modern masters like Alexander Calder, Sol LeWitt and Richard Serra that the art can be appreciated in an entirely new way. Many of the galleries feature works of the patrons and collectors who helped to spearhead the museum’s transformation (Doris and Don Fisher, for instance, whose collections of Chuck Close include one work with a personal inscription on it to them). The Pritzker Center for Photography is the largest of its kind.

Further afield is Pier 24, the photography gallery which was founded by Andrew and Mary Pilara and is by appointment only, has a wonderful show on collecting through January 17, 2017 ( Another Bay Area couple of entrepreneurs and collectors, Deborah and Andy Rappaport, launched the Minnesota Street Project in the Dogpatch neighborhood. A former warehouse has been converted into a mix of galleries open to the public plus affordable studio space for artists, as the Rappaports believe “that philanthropic support for the arts today requires an alternate model—one suited to the innovative nature of Silicon Valley and the region as a whole” (

And San Fran’s restaurants continue to perfect an alternate model that is also well suited to the region’s innovative bent by marrying an anti-fussy atmosphere with shockingly delicious farm-to-table food. I had a great dinner at Rich Table, with its casual surroundings (wood plank tables and an open kitchen area) but seriously yummy food from the chef who trained under David Bouley and focuses on farm fresh and small bite appetizers (see our new Top Tables San Francisco).

Top Travel Tips:

I always travel with basic medicines and first-aid items, but I have also found some wonderful remedies on the road when I have discussed ailments and cures with travelers and foreigners. So I highly recommend exploring pharmacies in far-away places. Here are some of my best finds.

  • Travel Gum: I discovered this alternative to Dramamine when I felt queasy on the windy roads from Venice to the Dolomites last year and my driver gave me a piece to chew to alleviate my nausea. I found it worked faster than Dramamine and made me less sleepy. It is readily available in Italian pharmacies and contains dimenhydrinate.
  • Pinon Balm: Native Americans have long used the balm of pinon trees to ease sore joints, muscle aches and migraines. When I suffered from a migraine at Mii Amo, Indagare Adored Spa in Sedona, they recommended that I try it, and I now carry it always. The Medicine of the People line of Navajo herbal products also includes balms for insect bites, burns, eczema and arthritis.
  • Peaceful Sleep: As someone who travels frequently to malaria zones, I am a connoisseur of mosquito repellant, and as someone who always packs in carry-on luggage, I have had a difficult time finding effective products that are packable. This stick repellant is available at the pharmacy in the Johannesburg airport and throughout South Africa.
  • Island Time: The carry-on dilemma (effective products in travel-size quantities) extends to sunscreens as well, which is why I love the stick varieties that are easily found in South Africa and Australia. Some favorite brands are Island Time and Invisible Zinc.
  • Japanese exfoliator: Japanese women are obsessive about skincare and especially the benefits of exfoliation. One of my favorite beauty finds in Tokyo was the Cure Natural Aqua Gel.
  • Nut-Med: Grenada is the largest producer of nutmeg in the Caribbean, and the spice has numerous reported health benefits including soothing muscle and joint pain, acting as an anti-inflammatory, reducing insomnia and boosting the immune system. I bought NutMed, a concentrated balm that causes a slight tingle on your skin when applied, and which definitely eased my shoulder and neck aches. It can be ordered through Amazon as well.

Transformative Travel Moment:

This spring, I traveled to Rwanda to see the endangered mountain gorillas. These magnificent, hairy, black primates share 98 percent of our human genes, and today survive only in protected forests in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. (By recent estimates, their population is around 800.) I arrived in early May just after the month that is dedicated to remembering the genocide of April 1994 in which one million Rwandans were killed. Over 100 days the Hutu majority systematically murdered every Tutsi they could find. It is said that, though the Rwandans’ instruments of death–machetes and clubs mostly–were more primitive than the means used by the Nazis, they were more efficient in the speed of their killing. Kwibuka, which means remember, was on slogans at the airport and banners hung all over Kigali and the rest of the country. Remember Unite Renew. This is the strategy of President Paul Kagame who has been in power since 1996. He abolished identity cards with the Hutu and Tutsi classifications. “We are all Rwandan,” said my driver Shema, whose name means Pride; but, of course, it is more complicated than that.

Related: Just Back From... Gorilla Trekking

Up Next:

This summer Melissa heads to Monaco, Croatia and Venice. She will share her discoveries in her next column.

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