Friday, May 29, 2015

Quebec: Montmorency Falls Photo Tour

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Flashback Thursday: Staying in Dijon, France

The Holiday Inn Garden Court  is a very modern hotel. It is located on the outskirts of the city of Dijon, adjacent to the Toison D'Or Mall. They have their own private parking lot, which is separate from the rest of the mall. It was rainy and foggy when we got there and we were welcomed with the news that Joe's suitcase had finally caught up with us. It had been to Italy without him. After eight days, it was an emotional reunion as you can imagine! Did I forget to mention there was an Italian soccer team on the plane from New York with us?

The hotel has two great big elevators that take you quickly from floor to floor. Our rooms were spacious and well-appointed. We had two comfortable double beds, plenty of pillows and blankets, color TV with CNN, a table with chairs, good reading lights, and a large modern bathroom. The only problem we had was that the heat was controlled at the front desk, not in the rooms. We spent three days trying to get our heat right. Mostly we were cold, it was January and quite chilly.

The big advantage of this hotel was that the mall was right outside our front door. We had access to the food court there which was inexpensive and also to lots of stores, even a grocery store. We picked this hotel because it said in the write-up that it had washers and dryers. This isn't true. You can drop off your laundry at the hotel desk by 9 a.m. for same-day cleaning, but for the prices they charge, it would be cheaper to throw away your dirty clothes and buy new ones. A laundry was also located at the mall, but it is also drop off. We were disappointed about this but resorted to hand laundry.

Our rate included a buffet breakfast. It was very extensive. The scrambled eggs were the only weak point; they seemed to always be green and, without ham, not very appealing. The buffet also included lots of fresh fruit, grapefruit, pineapple, and orange slices, as well as fruit salad. Add yogurt, four kinds of cereal, fresh juice, bacon, sausage, croissant, apple sauce, apple pastry, four kinds of bread, and you have the makings of a full breakfast. They even had a toaster grill to make toast. It's amazing how much you miss toast!

The hotel has a pool and fitness center. Bus service leaves from right in front of the hotel which will take you into the center of Dijon. This is a big convenience and we left the car and opted for the bus.

But the main draw here is location, location, location.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Late Summer Festivals & Fairs in Wilmington, Delaware

Wilmington, Del …Wilmington welcomes more than 100 festivals each year and the fun continues as the summer draws to its conclusion.  Here’s a round-up of some of the hottest events—both old and new:

Annual Peoples’ Festival 4PEACE &Tribute to Bob Marley (July 25)
This ever-popular, one-day festival is a tribute to former Wilmington resident and reggae legend, Bob Marley.  The festival is held in Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park, which is conveniently located across the street from the Wilmington Amtrak Train Station.  From noon until 10PM, enjoy live reggae music on two stages.  Other highlights include the Children’s Village, International Food Court, Bamboo Rain Hut, Red Stripe Beer Garden and the International Market Place with arts and crafts from around the world.

Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen Fine Craft Fair (July 25 & 26)
The Brandywine Valley’s largest premier fine craft fair returns to the Chase Center on the Riverfront. Described as an indoor shopping experience, the show features an unparalleled collection of beautiful items all of which are handmade in America.  Find one-of-a-kind clothing,  jewelry, ceramics, glass, sculpture and fine furniture and meet the artisans who craft them.

America On Tap Craft Beer Festival (August 15)
Fifty of the country’s finest craft breweries will showcase their new releases in Wilmington’s Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park on Saturday from 2:30 until 6PM.  Sample more than 100 exceptional beers in an atmosphere filled with live music, food and an assortment of great vendors.  Tickets to this open-air event can be purchased online at a discounted price or at the gate on the day of the event for $35.00.

August Quarterly (August 23-30)
The August Quarterly—or Big Quarterly—has the distinction of being the country ’s longest-running African American heritage festival.  The festival has evolved from a one-day meeting into a week-long celebration of religious freedom commemorating the founding of the Union Church of African Members by Peter Spencer in 1813.  This year’s celebration climaxes on August 30 with a 9AM Sunday service at the Chase Center on the Riverfront and afternoon festivities in Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park from 2 until 9PM.

Arden Fair (September 5; Rain date is September 6)
The Arden Fair is a time-honored tradition in the Brandywine Valley.  Held on the Saturday before Labor Day on the Arden Gild Hall property in North Wilmington, it draws over one hundred twenty vendors offering hand-made crafts and jewelry and fifty antique and flea market dealers.  The day-long event runs from 10 until 6PM and features music in the grove, food, drink, amusement rides and children’s games.

Riverfront Blues Festival (July 31-August 2)
This three-day event in Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park features a stellar team of top blues artists.  This year’s exciting lineup includes Brandon Santini, Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials, Mississippi Heat and Low Rider band.  The fun kicks off on Friday afternoon at 4PM and continues through Sunday.

Brandywine Festival of the Arts(September 12 & 13)
The Brandywine Festival of the Arts has been a perennial favorite for over fifty years.  Typically listed among the top one hundred national shows, this annual event in Josephine Gardens in Wilmington’s Brandywine Park attracts hundreds of visiting artists and craftspeople from the East Coast and beyond.  Although the show is juried for quality, it is not pretentious.  Remarkable, one-of-a-kind pieces in a wide variety of media are available at an equally broad range of price points. In fact, the festival is considered to be one of the foremost places in Delaware to purchase original pieces of art that are sure to satisfy both the casual consumer and the avid collector.  Live music, a food court and free admission to the Brandywine Zoo are added bonuses.  Admission is $5.00 and children under 12 are free.

The Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau is a non-profit organization founded in 1978, chartered by the Governor of Delaware, the New Castle County Executive and the Mayor of Wilmington. Its mission is to serve as the community's customer-focused destination marketing organization, generating economic growth through leisure travel and meetings development by aggressively marketing attractions, facilities, amenities and services for visitors.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Post

On this last Monday of May, 2015 let us all take a moment to remember the brave men from all wars who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The freedoms that we take for granted, we owe to them. If you are the sort who prays, bow you head and say a little prayer for them. Otherwise just be sure to remember that the country that we love exists because of these men who were willing to fight for the rights we have.

This is a photo from Arlington National Cemetery and the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Washington DC: Gardens at Hillwood Photo Tour

Hillwood is the former home of heiress Marjorie Post. It is in Washington DC and can be visited if you make a reservation ahead of time. The house is impressive but this is all about the gardens which are also lovely. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Flashback: Dining in Thann France

Caveau de l'Englebourg

The word caveau means wine cellar and that is exactly what this restaurant looked like. It was downstairs and had vaulted ceilings and stone and brickwork. The tables were set with crisp white tablecloths over rich burgundy. It had a warm feeling and our welcome certainly bore that out. This was the only restaurant where the chef came out and shook our hand and welcomed us after we were seated. A nice touch, we thought.

They served us some smoked salmon on bread with capers and cream cheese as a starter. We ordered a bottle of local Tokay wine to go with it so that we would at least try some from the area.

Al began his meal with "La croute Forestier" which was a puff pastry loaded with mushrooms in a creamy sauce. It was very, very good.

I had the Bisque du Hommard which is Lobster Bisque in any language. It came in a mini tureen piping hot, richly pink and delicious. It also was served with points of bread that screamed of garlic.

Bob and Joe had vegetable soup. It was yellow and very thick and looked like pea soup but tasted of mixed vegetables. Served hot with a basket of very crunchy bread.

Bob and I had the chicken with Reisling which was cooked in the wine. He got a leg; luckily, I got a breast. We were not consulted about our preferences. The vegetables were peas, turnip, red cabbage and whipped potatoes that had been browned under the grill.

Al and Joe had faux fillet which is sirloin but much tougher than at home. These guys both love their beef and they kept trying to find a steak they liked. I don't think they ever did.


Desserts were marvelous here. Bob ordered the Koghlof glacee hoping to get what Al had at the Hotel du Parc, it was basically the same but no alcohol. It definitely wasn't as good. Al had black forest cake with vanilla sauce which was just what it sounds like. But it was Joe and I who got the best desserts. I had Le gratin de fruite rouge and he had Le gratin de framboise with vanilla creme. These were basically fresh fruit with a crust on top served warm. They were excellent, I mean really excellent. I love fruit desserts anyway but these were fabulous.

Our service was very good, efficient, friendly but never intrusive. It was a very good dining experience.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

101 Fun Things to Do in Kenosha, Wisconsin

  • Southport Light Station Museum with the Southport Lighthouse

101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under in the Kenosha Area: Many are FREE!

  1. FUN 101 in the Kenosha AreaTry for an ace or a birdie on the disc golf course at UW-Parkside, Fox River Park, or Silver Lake Park. FREE
  2. One of the best views of Lake Michigan is from the top of the 1866 Southport Lighthouse! $10 & under to climb   
  3. Bring your favorite 4-legged friend to run and play at K9 Korner Dog Park, Ingram Park Dog Park, Carlisle Family Dog Park, Harris Family Dog Park, or Warren Close Bark Park. FREE to $5, depending on park
  4. Enjoy the Twilight Jazz Free Concert Series beside Lake Michigan at Anderson Arts Center: June 30, July 7, July 21, July 28 and August 25. FREE
  5. Take an Electric Streetcar ride along our beautiful Lake Michigan shore. $1 & under
  6. Orson Welles spent the first five years of his life here, so Kenosha celebrates his 100th birthday with many events in May. FREE to nominal fee depending on event
  7. A Kenosha tradition for 14 years, enjoy the Peanut Butter & Jam Concert Series on Thursdays, July 9 – August 27. FREE
  8. Meet you at the lake! Bring the sunscreen and a beach towel … we have FIVE beaches along Lake Michigan! FREE
  9. Visit Wisconsin’s oldest Harley-Davidson dealership, and one of the oldest in the world! Uke’s Harley-Davidson shares 85 years of history in its museum. FREE
  10. Come see what’s happening in Downtown Kenosha! Enjoy promotions, entertainment, and family activities during Second Saturdays. Many activities are FREE
  11. Enjoy free cheese samples, along with free photo ops (i.e. giant outdoor sign, Isabella the 60-year-old cow, the giant mouse) at Mars’ Cheese Castle. FREE
  12. Join King Elvis the First, the “Dancing Elvi” dancing grounds crew, oh yeah, and some baseball players as well at historic Simmons Field this summer! Go Kenosha Kingfish! June 28 is VisitKenosha Day at the ballpark. $8+
  13. The Civil War Museum is offering the 2015 Blue Star Museum Military Discount, Memorial Day through Labor Day. Active military and their families receive free admission to the main exhibit! FREE
  14. Enjoy Tuesdays at the Shell, an outdoor concert series held in July and August at the Sesquicentennial Bandshell. FREE
  15. Here’s where to go on a hot summer day: the indoor RecPlex Ice Arena. Temperature on the ice is 40 to 45 degrees. $6.50 & under to skate / $3 skate rental
  16. Add some spring to your step with a shopping spree at Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets. Save even more when you pick up a coupon book. $5 coupon book / Get a coupon for a free coupon book here
  17. Be amazed at an Aquanut Water Show. FREE
  18. Hike over the river and through the woods at Petrifying Springs Park - the oldest park in the Kenosha County park system. FREE
  19. You can find more than 150 vendors at Kenosha HarborMarket during the summer! The Saturday market returns outdoors on May 16; until then you can find it at Rhode Center for the Arts. FREE to browse
  20. Enjoy Carthage College Family Fun Nights, held most Friday evenings during the school year. FREE to $1
  21. Go behind the scenes into artists’ studios during the get bEHIND the aRTS Studio Tour, April 24-26. FREE preview party April 24, $5 studio tour April 25-26
  22. The Kenosha Pops Concert Band has been entertaining Kenosha for more than 90 years. Join them Wednesday evenings, June 17 – August 5 at the Sesquicentennial Bandshell. FREE
  23. Stroll through the Kenosha Sculpture Walk along the harbor; watch for the exhibit to change in September. FREE
  24. The 2014-2015 season of the Fine Arts at First Concert Series has two remaining dates: March 29 and May 3. FREE
  25. Pick your own produce at Jerry Smith Produce & Pumpkin Farm, or reserve your crop box full of produce! Crop boxes start at $10 / half bushel of pick your own is $10
  26. Swim in Lake Andrea, or build a sand castle on the beach. Lifeguards are on duty in the summer. $4-7 daily pass
  27. Be part of the second annual Kenosha Craft Beer Week at PUBLIC Craft Brewing Co. and Rustic Road Brewing Company, May 11-17. Prices vary
  28. Date Night! Enjoy the Lakeside Players L@tR Series: Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, May 15-30. $10
  29. The Summer Free Fishing Weekend - meaning no fishing license is required in Wisconsin - is June 6 and 7. FREE
  30. Spend Saturday night at the racetrack! On select dates, Wilmot Raceway offers Family Nights, which are a bargain! $10 & under
  31. Choo Choo! The Kenosha Public Museum and Civil War Museum host a Train Extravaganza Weekend, May 30-31. FREE
  32. We enjoy Big Star Drive-In and The Spot Drive-In whether it’s National Hamburger Month in May or any other time. The Spot is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Prices vary
  33. Enjoy a self-guided tour through Kemper Center’s Durkee Mansion, which was built in the 1860’s on the Lake Michigan shore. FREE
  34. Go Fly a Kite! The Outta Sight Kite Flight is June 6 and 7. FREE
  35. Brighton Dale LinksAt Petrifying Springs Golf Course and Brighton Dale Links, walk 9 holes weekdays any time for $10, opening day through May 1. And all season long during super twilight hours, walk 9 holes for that same price. $10
  36. The Rebels and Redcoats Revolutionary War Reenactment moves to a new location this year: Petrifying Springs Park. The dates are June 6 and 7. FREE
  37. Enjoy a trio of art fairs: Good Old Summertime Art Fair on June 7, 25th Annual UW-Parkside Summer Arts & Crafts Festival on June 27, and the Friends of the Museum Art Fair on July 19. FREE to browse
  38. Living history interpreters, music, family activities and more can be found at Salute to Freedom on June 13. FREE
  39. Get back to nature at Chiwaukee Prairie, which is considered an ecological gem. FREE
  40. June is National Dairy Month, and on June 20, the Kenosha County Dairy Breakfast returns to Herda Farms LLC. $6 adults, children 6 and under are FREE
  41. Walk, bike, or drive through Kenosha’s four National Register Historic Districts. FREE
  42. The Transparent Watercolor Society of America presents the 39th Annual National Juried Exhibition at the Kenosha Public Museum, May 2 – August 2. FREE
  43. Stop to see live animals and hands-on exhibits inside Richard Bong State Recreation Area’s Visitor Center, then head out birding. $7-10 per vehicle park entrance fee, Center is FREE
  44. Kenosha starts celebrating Independence Day early! Enjoy the Kenosha Civic Veterans Parade on June 28. FREE
  45. Celebrate America featuring Independence Day Fireworks takes place in HarborPark July 3 and 4. FREE
  46. At the new Downtown restaurant Mike’s Donuts & Chicken, oversized donuts are baked fresh daily with homemade toppings and fillings. $1-3
  47. Splish! Splash! Fly down the 200-foot long water slide at Washington Park Pool or Anderson Park Pool. $5 & under
  48. Enjoy some real “eye candy” at Jelly Belly Visitor Center including portraits of famous people made from thousands of Jelly Belly beans and Candy Fashion Couture. FREE tours and samples
  49. Who’s Hungry? The seventh annual Taste of Wisconsin™ takes place July 31 – August 2. FREE admission
  50. Go back to the 1650s through 1850s at the Pike River Rendezvous, August 1 and 2. FREE
  51. Take the kids for a fun pedal boat ride on Lake Andrea! $8-10
  52. Lake MichiganCelebrate National Lighthouse Day at the Triple Dipper Ice Cream Social on August 8. FREE lighthouse climb for Kenosha County residents / $5 for non-county adult visitors / FREE for children 8 to 12 years old
  53. Here in Kenosha, you’ll find multiple access points on the Lake Michigan State Water Trail for kayaking, paddle-boarding and other silent water sports. FREE access
  54. Did you know Anderson Park is home to an 11,000 square foot concrete skatepark for skateboards, scooters, roller blades, and bikes? FREE
  55. Checkmate! Play chess or checkers at the chess tables in Petrifying Springs Park and Fox River Park; bring your own pieces. FREE
  56. Car memorabilia, along with a new Children’s Hands On area are featured at the Kenosha History Center through September 27. FREE; donations appreciated
  57. Walk, bike, run, or rollerblade along Prairie Springs Park’s 2.3 mile scenic path around Lake Andrea. Extend your workout on the Prairie Farms Trail. FREE
  58. Sit back and enjoy the scenery as you take the METRA train from Chicago to Kenosha. $8 weekend pass
  59. Visit Robin’s Nest Cakery on a Saturday for chocolate fountain treats! Pricing is for six items - such as bacon, gummy bears, pretzels, chips, or oreos. $3.50
  60. While May is National Bike Month, you can join the 26-mile Weekly Common Grounds Coffee Ride at any time. The Bike Shop at Southport Rigging leads this Saturday morning ride. FREE  
  61. Between May and September, Bristol 45 Diner hosts a car show on the first, third, and fifth Monday evenings. FREE
  62. Don’t miss fresh from the farm produce at one of Kenosha’s five Farmer’s Markets (in addition to Kenosha HarborMarket). FREE to browse
  63. Head over to Pollard Gallery and spot portraits of celebrities. FREE
  64. Pause at the Veteran’s Memorial Fountain and Lone Soldier Memorial at Veterans Memorial Park. FREE
  65. Enjoy a program at a Kenosha Public Library branch. FREE
  66. Military discounts are available at Sandy’s Popper, Scoops Ice Cream, and many more Kenosha businesses. See a list here. Prices vary
  67. Local chef demonstrations, home grown sweet corn, hay rides, and more make up the Sweet Corn Festival, held rain or shine at Jerry Smith Produce & Pumpkin Farm on August 15. FREE admission
  68. Visit Abe! Library Park is home to an Abraham Lincoln statue, as well as the Kenosha County Soldiers’ Monument “Winged Victory”. FREE
  69. Aspiring young paleontologists will dig this: Dino Digs are held most Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the Dinosaur Discovery Museum. FREE
  70. Check out the impressive 360° film “Seeing the Elephant” inside the Civil War Museum’s main exhibit The Fiery Trial. Main exhibit $5-9 / FREE for ages 15 & under
  71. Here’s a great photo op: Visit the Christopher Columbus fountain in HarborPark. FREE
  72. All ages enjoy getting artsy at Alpaca Art Pottery Painting. $7 studio fee plus the cost of your pottery ($3+)
  73. Jerry Smith Produce & Pumpkin FarmRelax and watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan. FREE
  74. Cool down with a treat at Culver’s Pleasant Prairie, while playing the large outdoor chess set (ask for the pieces at the counter). Treat prices vary; FREE to play chess
  75. At Pringle Nature Center, you can rent a GPS unit pre-programmed with the Geocaches located in Bristol Woods Park. $5
  76. Find your favorite childhood video game at Inner Child Comics & Collectibles and try it out! Many under $10 / FREE to try
  77. Only planning to fish here for a day? Buy a one-day fishing license at Harborside Bait & Tackle or Lou Perrine’s Gas and Grocery. $8-10
  78. Try the Sol Gyro at Sol D’Licious Café: Setain marinated in the house Greek seasoning topped with the house Tzatziki sauce and paired with the side of the day. $10
  79. Enjoy a scenic bike ride on the Pike Bike Trail or the Kenosha County Bike Trail. FREE
  80. Let the kids cool off with a visit to HarborPark’s splash pad area. FREE
  81. Uncover local shipwreck facts and more at the Southport Light Station Museum. FREE; donations appreciated
  82. Make your own customized bracelet or necklace at Peacetree Originals. $5 & up
  83. Learn about birds, check out insect specimens, make art on the wall, and more at the Kenosha Public Museum Field Station. FREE
  84. Mama Mia! Italian sausage never tasted so good! Tenuta’s outdoor grill will have your mouth watering. $3.50
  85. See the latest blockbuster at Southport Plaza’s Tinseltown Theatre. $5.65-$9.15
  86. Take your bike and follow the mile-long Silver Lake Ice House Trail. $1 if access the trail at Silver Lake Beach, Memorial Day – Labor Day
  87. Visit the 95th Kenosha County Fair, August 19-23. $9 & under
  88. Browse through the Wilmot Mountain Flea Market (Sundays, April 12 into November). $1 & under
  89. Another great photo op: one of Kenosha’s most recognized landmarks – the red Pierhead Lighthouse. FREE
  90. Come see what’s cooking on the grill! The Grill Games BBQ Competition & Lakefront Festival takes place August 28 and 29. Suggested $1 donation
  91. Grill GamesEnjoy an Old-Fashioned Cherry Soda at Jack’s Café – the historic soda fountain inside Andrea’s. $3.95
  92. Enjoy a trio of events Labor Day weekend near Lake Michigan: Downtown Kenosha Classic Cruise-In Car Show (9/5), Cheese-A-Palooza (9/5-6), and the 13th Annual Car Show To Benefit Our Wounded Warriors (9/6). FREE
  93. Celebrate Kenosha’s Streetcars on September 12 during Kenosha Streetcar Day. $1 & under to ride Streetcar
  94. A slice of Kenosha nightlife can be found at Fusion, a Downtown performing arts venue. Some events FREE
  95. Visiting the First Friday of the month? Stop at our I-94 Visitor Information Center for free travel info, coupons, and samples during First Friday events. FREE
  96. People watch as you sit at the harbor! You may even see someone flying like a superhero with Flyboard Wisconsin. FREE to watch
  97. See incredible art at Lemon Street Gallery! FREE
  98. Try the Kanelbulle, a Swedish pretzel-esque cinnamon pastry at Linnea Bakery, a Scandinavian bakery. $2.99
  99. Enjoy a picnic at Wolfenbuttel Park, next to Lake Michigan. FREE
  100. The famous “backroom” offers amazing savings at the Jockey Factory Store in Downtown Kenosha. Prices vary
  101. Meet notable cartoonists and illustrators at the fifth Kenosha Festival of Cartooning, September 17-19. FREE

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Portugal: Our Trip Begins

As usual in my world of travel, nothing ever goes smoothly. We were flying to Lisbon from Hartford, Conn. via Philadelphia. While I hadn’t allowed a long layover in Philly, it wasn’t too tight either.  It wasn’t until our flight into Hartford was delayed. It had mechanical problems in Minneapolis and was at least a half hour behind schedule. 

Not to worry the desk crew assured everyone, the earliest connection was a 8:20 p.m.and we still had time. Our connection was 8:25 p.m. We sat there listening for updates which arrived regularly. We became friends with the other stranded passengers.

The fight ended up 35 minutes delayed, we made it to Philadelphia but of course, our gate was on another concourse three concourses away. It was a very long walk to get there. We did get onto the plane in plenty of time. Flying these days is such an adventure. Do you want to watch the movie? 

If you didn’t bring your own headphones it will be $5 to buy them. Want a beer or wine on an International flight, $7. Was there enough room in the overhead bins, barely and almost everyone was carrying on everything. The good news is that we didn’t have to pay to check our bags for an International flight.

Another piece of good news. The meal was actually quite good. Choice of pasta with white sauce and spinach or BBQ chicken with potatoes. Very good actually, this is the first time I can remember actually eating my meal in years. The salad came with a cream pepper dressing again very tasty, a rye roll, real butter and a little piece of carrot cake, how yummy is that?

We arrive at Lisbon at just about 8 a.m. in the morning. The lines were immense and we spent about 45 minutes getting through customs before we could go to baggage claim. Of course by that time our flight was no longer listed so we had to find someone who spoke English to help us find out what had become of our luggage. Good news again, it was all lines up next to one of the carousels. We headed out to find a taxi to our hotel.

Just a note, in Lisbon most people we met especially our cab drivers don’t speak more than a word or two of English, hotel employees on the other hand do speak impeccable English.

 Lisbon airport is only 4 miles outside the city, Depending on where your hotel is, this is going to be an inexpensive trip in. For 4 of us and all our luggage to Graca where our hotel is located was with tip 20 euros. It was fast, easy and safe.

View of Lisbon
We booked our hotel months in advance. They were waiting for us when we arrived. There had been a bit of a computer glitch. They were renovating and the person in charge of putting in the number of rooms available to let had not taken into account the ones being renovated. There was no room for us tonight.

The good news, they had gotten us a room at a 5-star hotel across town and they were going to pay the taxi to take us there. They were going to give us the room at this hotel for the same rate were paying at the Mundial and then they would pay for us to come back tomorrow.

Since we had no alternative plan we said okay Well I wish we could have spent our whole vacation at the Corinthia Hotel. It is gorgeous. The rooms are sleek and modern, the bed was very comfortable , we were allowed in our room by 11am so we got to rest before beginning to make the rounds. 

Wonderful staff and I have to say a gorgeous hotel. Only one day into our adventures in Lisbon and already the excitement has started.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Portugal: Casa da Mo Restaurant Lisbon

You know how it is with us when we travel; it is all about the food. We had been joking for days about the fact that we hadn’t really eaten much traditional Portuguese food and we really needed to try the grilled sardines. Yes, I know, why? But we had decided we wanted to try them.

When we returned from our day in Sintra we asked our tour driver Victor Emmanuel if he knew of a traditional Portuguese restaurant. He told us about Casa da Mo which was located just around the corner from our hotel.

We headed over and stopped in front to see if we could read the menu. Mr. Raoul came out and introduced himself and pointed out where the English menu was. It looked good and the restaurant was lovely so we headed in. We were given a table along the right wall with a crisp white table cloth. The menu had all the names of the items in Portuguese but there were English subtitles, luckily for us.

We did indeed order the grilled sardines, six of them. Three of us had two each; Jim had the vegetable soup which he kept telling us was delicious. Eating sardines obviously is an art which we have not mastered. There are a lot of bones and you have to avoid the head and pull off the spine. Once you have done this they are not bad, as we say, it was a "once in a lifetime experience". I don’t think I will ever need to do it again.

For our entrees Joe and I had the salted cod with onion, Al had steak Portuguese style and Jim had the pork loin. The meals were all lovely. The cod did have some bones but only on the top, the rest of the fish was juicy and delicious. It was served with small boiled potatoes and a bath of olive oil. The steak came with fried potato slices and a slice of aged cured ham on top. The pork loin was a little spicy and came with boiled potatoes and haricot vert. All the meals were excellent and service was stellar.

Mr. Raoul and Al talked and determined that Al’s father came from the same area in Portugal as Raoul did. Before we knew it little complimentary glasses of Ginjinha the cherry schnapps were on our table and the dessert cart had mysterious relocated right alongside us.

Joe and I tried traditional Portuguese desserts a plum cake and an egg cake. Jim had sliced fresh strawberries and Al had chocolate mousse which in Portugal is a rich and very dark variety. Followed by coffee in tiny cups and a cappuccino for me this was a very satisfying meal.
If you are looking for a good restaurant with traditional food and prices that won’t send you into sticker shock I highly recommend the Casa da Mo. By the way, a mo is a millstone and the original millstone is on the right as you come in the door. This restaurant has been around for over a hundred years and is very good at making your experience special. You will also see plenty of locals which is always a good sign. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Virginia: Butterflies in Roanoke

As part of our visit to Roanoke, Va. we visited the Science Museum of Western Virginia and within the museum, The Butterfly Garden. Here are some of the photos that I took. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Flashback Thursday: Local Shopping in Thann France

What drew me into this shop was a wonderful window display featuring a lovely table cover embroidered all over with blue and silver flowers and candles. It was Christmasy but in my color palette.

It is a small shop, and no one spoke much English. By this time, I felt I was getting quite good at communicating in French, and I asked the price of the piece I liked. It was way too expensive. The disappointment must have shown in my face, and I did manage to say "il est trop cher pour moi". Well, that got me a 20% discount, and I am now the proud owner of a beautiful table cover from Germany.

I was so excited, I couldn't wait to show Joe and Bob, and soon they too were milling around the small shop looking for one-of-a-kind gifts. Joe finally settled on a tray made of cloth that is a toast holder, and it came with a jelly jar cover and a jar of jelly. It had a strawberry design and was very pretty. It was a gift for his friend Jackie, who traveled with us to England last fall.

Bob had them cut some lace doilies for him from bolts of lace they had. He has never been able to find ones for his end tables, and these were cut to exactly the size he wanted.

We had a great time here, and actually, considering how small the shop is, we spent quite a while looking through all the pretty and unusual things they had. They also do alterations and custom sewing here. We had a good laugh about that. Just the night before I had hemmed a new pair of pants for Joe (who still hadn't received his lost suitcase) by hand with a little traveling sewing kit I had picked up on one of my trips. We never thought we would be able to find someone to sew them, so being a trooper and the only woman on the trip, I volunteered to do the job. If only I'd known, I could have saved my fingers. Actually, I got quite a bit of mileage out of that little sewing job; when it's three-to-one, I need all the advantages I can get.
I didn't take any pictures in the shop but this one of the streets in Thann and it may or may not be the one on which the shop is located but it is filled with charm.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Enjoy the Summer In Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley

Summer in Lehigh Valley is jam-packed with Family Fun

Summer Family Fun
Let’s get this summer started! Lehigh Valley this time of year is jam-packed with places for you and your family to celebrate and have fun together.

So plan to get wet, go wild, play ball, hit the parks (baseball, amusement, water—Lehigh Valley has it all), or take in great music festivals, and more! Let’s get this summer started!

10 ways to enjoy family fun this summer in Lehigh Valley, Pa.

Putt U is a miniature golf experience like you’ve never played before! It features two world class 18 hole miniature golf courses, with long and winding holes that will challenge both kids and adults alike. Find out why Putt U has been voted Lehigh Valley’s #1 min-golf course 39 times!

Lehigh Valley Zoo (18)Lehigh Valley Zoo has been voted Best Family Day Trip in The Morning Call’s Readers’ Choice Awards for five years straight, and you’ll see why when you go on your own safari. It’s home to approximately 300 animal ambassadors from African penguins to zebras. Bring a camera to capture your wild day and be sure to slither through the brand new RAD (Reptile & Amphibian Discovery) Center. The Zoo is located in the heart of the majestic 1,100-acre Trexler Nature Preserve, where you can expand your family adventures to include hiking, bike or horse riding, picnicking, fishing, or archery hunting. Both attractions are easily accessible from all major highways

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom: From roller coasters and thrill rides, to Dinosaurs Alive! and Planet Snoopy, there’s something for kids of all ages (and heights) at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom. Enjoy two great parks in one convenient location.

Just for the GuysLehigh Valley IronPigs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, present the rising MLB Stars of the future at beautiful Coca-Cola Park all summer long. Coca-Cola Park has been named one of the best stadiums in baseball, and the IronPigs have attracted the biggest crowds in the minor leagues for the last six seasons. Catch a game or two and you’ll see why. Don’t forget to bring your appetite for bacon, too!

Crayola Experience is the only place in the world where the magic of Crayola comes to life! More than 60,000 square feet of wonderful, whimsical adventures await your family at this one-of-a-kind attraction in Easton, the birthplace of Crayola crayons. The Crayola Experience was completely re-imagined in 2013 and features 21 attractions that allow kids to explore art and technology, express their creativity, and experience color in a whole new way. You and your kids can do everything from building a custom marker to animating your creations on a huge digital projection.

ArtsQuest celebrates arts and culture , movies, music, educational programs, festivals, and so much more all year long.

Dutch Springs is the place for families to dive into for summer fun. Learn to snorkel or scuba dive, climb on inflatables in the middle of the pristine lake, scale the rock climbing wall and ropes course, or spend the night under the stars on the campground. The wonderful world of water is waiting for you!
C.F. Martin & Co.
C.F. Martin & Co.

Martin Guitar Factory gives you the chance to see the history of music being made. Martin has been hand-crafting the finest acoustic guitars in the world for over 175 years. Take a tour and see the guitar and the music come to life. Be sure to stop by the museum and pick up some apparel and souvenirs at the 1833 Shop.

Da Vinci Science Center is the place where science comes brilliantly to life! Experience a two-story exhibit floor, nearly three dozen programs for visitors of all ages, and engaging regional workforce initiatives. Exhibits include: Hurricane Simulator, Built Like A Mack Truck, KEVA Build It Up!, What On Earth?, and more!

Lehigh Valley Kidsventure is a partnership of many attractions, nonprofit organizations, and hospitality venues throughout Lehigh Valley promoting activities and experiences that can be enjoyed by you and your family throughout the summer. Led by Da Vinci Science Center’s National Geographic Presents: Earth Explorers, Kidsventure wants everyone to “Explore the World Around You!” (You can get discounts at lots of great Lehigh Valley venues too.)


Exclusive Lehigh Valley Special Events

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, June -August. This leading Shakespeare festival shakes the rafters with its national reputation for excellence. A professional theatre company housed on the campus of DeSales University, the festival highlights a special “Shakespeare for Kids” production. This high-energy, one-hour production is designed for children 4 to 10 to actively experience Shakespeare’s vibrant language and characters. With exciting new content every year, S4K activates imaginations and generates laughs for the whole family.

Kutztown Folk Festival, June 27-July 5. The Kutztown Folk Festival is the oldest continuously operated folklife festival in America. This nine-day event continues to draw visitors from all over the world, entertaining families while providing a wonderful look into the Pennsylvania Dutch traditions and way of life. See why it’s been featured twice in National Geographic and called “one of the most unique festivals on the East coast” by the Washington Post.

Musikfest, August 1-10. Musikfest is 10 days of fantastic live music on 14 different stages throughout Bethlehem’s historic district and the new SteelStacks arts campus. From the opening note to the closing act, more than 500 free performances take place in the city’s streets, parks, plazas, and historic areas. Tune in to over 60 food vendors, some of the nation’s finest artisans, children’s activities, fireworks, and more. Headliners so far include ZZ Top, Reba, Jerry Seinfeld, Daruis Rucker, Culture Club, and Alice in Chains.

Provided courtesy of Discover Lehigh Valley

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Great American Road Trip

Anyone who grew up in the 1950s understands very well what a 'Road Trip" was. It meant that our parents loaded us all into the car with luggage, a cooler with food and not a reservation in site. Every family had a different route and maybe even several.

It may have been a trip to grandmother's house in another state or off to one of the amazing parks that dotted the county. You could visit the  North Pole in New Hampshire or Santa's Land in Putney, Vermont. Can you tell I grew up in New England? Maybe your family came to Connecticut to Lake Compounce in Bristol which was and still is a great family attraction.

My family got into our car with all the above-mentioned things and headed to Canada. In the days before the Interstate Highway System, we would travel about 250 miles a day on Route 5. We would stop in southern Vermont and eat our picnic lunch. Sandwiches, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh fruit, homemade cookies and a thermos full of lemonade and Koolaide mixed.

We would pull into a motel in northern Vermont as darkness was falling often staying in little individual cabins. For kids, this was especially exciting since we never stayed anywhere except maybe our aunt's house. We actually got to eat in a restaurant on the second day, also something that rarely happened.

We were not a very cultured family, I never remember as a child stopping at any historic sites or anything of that nature. I am sure that many families did but for us, the road trip had a destination and was not a vacation on its own.

These days, I love a road trip. We use the trips north and south to Florida to visit lots of places along the way. Two years ago we did pretty much the same thing as we traveled west to Rockford, Ill.

Do you have memories of summer road trips? I would love to feature some guest articles from other bloggers about your road trip experiences.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Photo Friday Rerun: Florence Griswold Museum Garden

I am going to follow the trend for featuring photos on my Friday blog posts. The photos for today's post were taken on July 23, 2014 at the Florence Griswold Museum Garden. As you can see, the flowers were in full bloom.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Flashback Thursday: Epinal France Museum of Ancient and Contemporary Art

This is a very modern building built from a very old one. It is located on an island in the middle of the Moselle River. The collection covers ancient to very modern works.
Their earliest exhibits are from the Paleolithic age and date to 9000 BC. This room includes objects of stone, glass and metal and dates through the Greco Roman period. There is a serious problem for non-French readers in this museum; nothing is in English. They provided me with a very nice guide when I said I read French. I'm afraid though that my Mom never talked to me about ancient artifacts so I am lacking the vocabulary necessary for this area. It was frustrating for me and the men skipped this room altogether.
The next room was much more enjoyable. There was a wonderful Greco Roman statue of a Hermaphrodite made of bronze and silver. It is small but perfectly formed. There were also stone carving and grave stones. What really got my attention in this area was a case of coins. There was a bronze coin with the head of Philip of Macedonia, coins with Nero, Trajan, Tiberius and Vespusian. Also lots of coins with the Dukes of Lorraine and early French Kings. What was really great about this case was that it had a large magnifying glass that could travel anywhere over the top of the case so you could move it easily from coin to coin. Really a nice touch. I've never seen the detail before.
Next we moved into the Middle Ages where we saw some beautiful stained glass windows from the Abbey of D'Autray. Also in this area is a gorgeous oil on panel from the school of Clouet called Adoratus. The subject is a beautiful woman with a pink flower in one hand and a small dog in the other. There is also a George de la Tour of Job and his wife. As usual, I was drawn to the cases of Faience. They had some particularly fine pieces.

Upstairs there is an eclectic array of paintings in no order I could figure out. Their Rembrandt was on loan, which was disappointing. I loved the two Jan Brueghel paintings of the seasons "Winter and Summer". There was also a Joos van Cleve of The Holy Family. I am not a fan of modern art but they have paintings by Andy Warhol and Picasso. They are, however, most famous for their print collection which is considered very fine. It is later prints mostly from the 19th and early 20th century and in color.
This museum is considered the 4th best art museum in France. It is a very relaxing place with strategic benches for sitting and looking and an open floor plan with fantastic lighting.