The Armchair Traveler

When you desire to take a journey but circumstances prohibit you from doing so, what to do? Become an armchair traveler …

  • Immerse yourself in your dream destination (France, Italy, Montana, Nepal…pick a place you have always dreamed of visiting) …
  • Check out your library or book store for photo books, historical non-fiction or fiction set in your dream place …
  • Prepare special dinners (or a party!) with the foods and wines of the area …
  • Learn a foreign language …
  • Listen to music that transports you …
  • Find movies set in your special place …
  • Too many places to narrow it down to just one destination?
    • For ideas, peruse “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” and “1,000 Places to see in the United States and Canada Before You Die” …
    • Each month, pick a different destination to immerse yourself …
      • Find the place where you feel most comfortable …
      • Discover new places …
    • Most important, have fun and be creative as you journey to a favorite spot … even if for now, it is a dream …

Cats ~ Photos ~ Quotes

“Way down deep, we’re all motivated by the same urges. Cats have the courage to live by them.”  Jim Davis (Cartoonist)

 “In ancient times cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this.”
Terry Pratchett (Author)

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty. Human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”  Ernest Hemingway

 “Cats have it all: admiration, an endless sleep and company only when they want it.”
Rod McKuen (Poet)

 “What greater gift than the love of a cat?” – Charles Dickens

 “The smallest feline is a masterpiece.”
Leonardo da Vinci

 

 

A Beautiful Black Cat ~ Shadow

Tips: Traveling Cross County Solo with a Cat

All She Needs Is Love ~ A Cat Tale

Cross Country with Shadow ~ A Cat Tale

Bozo Was the Perfect Name ~ A Cat Tale

 

Travel Memoir ~ Outer Islands, Hawaii

No trip to Hawaii is complete unless you visit the Outer Islands. While Oahu (Honolulu, Waikiki) has many areas to explore and beautiful beaches, while in this Pacific Paradise take your time to explore the other islands. You will find yourself using the words “awesome, magnificent, gorgeous” to describe the natural beauty.

My first trip to Hawaii, a friend and I decided to take a 4 day tour of the Outer Islands. It was fabulous and we saw all of the major sights and fell in love with the beauty of the islands and its people. I went back to Maui, my favorite, two other times. And once in Oahu, I took a one day tour of the Outer Islands.

Maui, “The Valley Isle,” is mystical from its beautiful beaches to the moonscape like landscape of Haleakala Crater and National Park, to the marvelously, windy road to Hana. If you go for sunrise, it is a memory that will last forever. Take time to explore historic Lahaina and Wailea and you will soon discover your favorite spots. The western part of the island has spectacular beaches, especially Wailea.

I still remember floating in the water one morning. A friend had decided to leave late morning while I chose to get a late night flight. We were standby (airline staff). She came running along the beach looking for me, saying that only the late morning flight was now available and all flights were full through the next day. I never dressed and packed so quickly. We did get boarded on the late morning flight and spent the afternoon in Waikiki, laughing as only stand-bys can when getting on an almost full flight. Waikiki was more crowded than Wailea, but I will always recall floating at Wailea, not having a care in the world, until my friend found me.

Kauai, “The Garden Isle,” is spectacular. Take a helicopter or boat tour of the incredible Napali Cliffs. Rent a jeep and tour the island. Waimea Canyon is a must-see. It is nick-names the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Go swimming in the magnificent Hanalei Bay on the North Shore. Take a day sail or dinner cruise along the magnificent Napali coast.

Hawaii, “The Big Island” is a super destination for those who love to fish. A must see is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Take in a Hula Luau show.

Each of the islands has its own unique characteristics. You can plan in advance based on your favorite activities (swimming, surfing, dining, golf, diving, hiking, etc.) or take an exciting one day overview tour while vacationing in Oahu and decide which island(s) you want to further explore. Each island is memorable and very diverse. You will create memories that will last a lifetime as will your memories of the Aloha Spirit.

Travel well and often.

Travel Memoir ~ Oahu, Hawaii

 

Travel Memoir ~ Oahu, Hawaii

Working for an airline and living in NYC, I planned escape trips to Hawaii several times a year, particularly during the winter months. The first time I arrived at Honolulu, I was greeted with a lei and immediately fell in love with the island. It was night, the air had a beautiful fragrance and the lights on the mountains in back of Honolulu were twinkling. It was rather magical.

I stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and was enthralled. I checked out other hotels for future visits and fell in love with The Wakikian. I stayed there several times. It was a  fabulous “tike-style” hotel, wedged in between the Hilton Hawaiian Village and the Ilikai. I fondly recall its fabulous open air bar, the Tahitian Lanai, with the most incredible Mai-Tai’s and a very good restaurant, with the best Coconut Cream Pie. After its demise, I stayed at various other hotels in Honolulu, but always missed the “tiki-style” hotel and its beautiful tropical gardens.

Yes, the beach is spectacular. Go surfing or go for a ride in an outrigger canoe. Or take a day cruise along Waikiki or a cocktail or dinner cruise on a catamaran. Take in the beauty of the ocean, Diamond Head, the mountains and the Aloha spirit.

Rent a car and drive about the island. Stop at the North Shore beaches and, depending on the season, enjoy watching the surfers and/or give it a try. The water is far, far rougher than Waikiki. Go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. The spectacular colors of the fish will stay with you for a long time. Stop and tour the very moving USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

A favorite activity for me was taking a scenic glider ride. It is spectacular. If you want, the pilot will let you “fly” it for a bit, which is fabulous. There is a marvelous sense of quiet, except for the incredible sound of the wind. It is thrilling to be soaring in a glider, above a beautiful landscape. I highly recommend it and enjoyed doing it several times.

Stop off at the Polynesian Cultural Center as you drive about the island. Have fun learning the hula dance. Hawaii is far more that beautiful beaches. Here, you can explore and learn the history and culture of Hawaii and other Polynesian Islands.

Yes, it is touristy, but do go to a luau. It’s great fun, with marvelous entertainment. And at some of the luaus, you can be a part of the performance.

Kalakaua Ave was and still is the main avenue, with numerous shops and restaurants. I am sure that the International Market Place has seen many changes but would still be the place to browse.

While Honolulu and Waikiki have seen many changes, I remember marvelous people who truly radiate the Aloha Spirit. It is a state of mind, which you can bring home with you. You will long remember the generosity and friendliness of the Hawaiian people. It is a gorgeous island paradise, with many lasting memories, all to be treasured.

Travel well and often.

 

Travel Memoir ~ Venice, Italy

Venice, the “Queen of the Adriatic,” is an incredible journey from the moment you arrive. I have fond memories of taking a private water taxi from the airport to the hotel in the city. My friends and I laughed saying it was like something from a James Bond movie.

 

Venice is also known as the “City of Bridges” or the “City of Canals.” A few hours in Venice and you will understand why. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

 

Venice is a beautiful city to explore, on foot. Expect to get lost on the many narrow streets and bridges. Take a ride in a gondola. Tour the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica. Enjoy a cappuccino or dine on St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco). Take the vaporetto (local water bus). Go to Murano Island for authentic glass pieces.  I have 3 glass cats from there that I love.

 

I have been to Venice several times, in fall and winter. Venice is gorgeous when misty. It envelops the city and you find that you are in a marvelously mystical place.

 

One evening, friends and I went for dinner at a restaurant on the other side of Piazza San Marco and then cross a bridge or two. The dinner was leisurely and very good (great local wine: Verdicchio). When we were leaving the restaurant, the waiter told us that the Piazza was flooded. I asked if there was a way around that and was told no, but not to worry.

 

One friend had been to Venice when it had similarly flooded and explained that chairs were put up and we would cross the Piazza on the chairs. I was dubious but thought OK, when in Venice…..

 

Cane chairs had been set up on the Piazza, closely next to each other. We held hands and had to climb from one chair to the other, as there were arms on the chair. It was not easy to navigate. About half way across, several of us laughingly said “enough of this,” and we walked (make that waded) across the Piazza to our hotel. Two guys rolled up their slacks before wading through the water. My boots never did quite dry out, but a piano bar at the hotel plus some grappa warmed us as we attempted to dry out.

 

Tip: always check weather and high tides when venturing out to explore or dine.

 

I was there once with my mother and a beautiful black and white cat started to follow us. My mother called the cat “Venny” and he would always be waiting outside the hotel for us, as my mother would feed him (waiters were very accommodating). The cat looked quite well-fed and probably always found travelers to feed and pet him.

 

Venice is a unique place and I have many treasured memories. It will always be a special place for me, whether I went solo or with friends. The wine and cuisine are superb, quite different from southern Italian (though I love that also). And thanks to the Venetians, I learned to accept what is – if a flood, we’ll manage. And getting lost can usually be quite serendipitous.

 

Travel well and often.

Travel Memoir ~ Rome, Italy

Favorite Restaurants ~ Los Angeles area

Crème de La Crepe

A terrific restaurant for breakfast, lunch, Happy Hour, Dinner;  French food; marvelous selection of crepes and so much more; very good champagne, wine, cappuccino and deserts (Crepes Suzette is great!). Several locations, highly recommend the restaurants in Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Palos Verdes. http://www.cremedelacrepe.com/

Cheesecake Factory, Redondo Beach

This location has a terrific outdoor patio, looking over the Redondo Beach Marina. Good place for brunch, meet friends, enjoy sitting outside …http://locations.thecheesecakefactory.com/ca/redondo-beach-3.html

Fritto Misto Italian Café

Very good place for fabulous Italian food; nice wine variety; extensive pasta selection, including a marvelous Sweet Potato Ravioli in a sage cream sauce with wild mushrooms; home-made desserts, cappuccino. https://www.frittomistoitaliancafe.com/

Hennessey’s Tavern, Hermosa Beach

Great place for breakfast or drinks / dinner later in the day. It’s on the beach, sit outside or upstairs and watch beach volley ball and the activity on The Strand as you indulge   … https://www.hennesseystavern.com/hermosa_beach.html

Marmalade Café, Malibu

Nice place for lunch when you want a good salad, sandwich, burger or pasta There are other locations, but this one, in a small shopping center is a favorite.  https://marmaladecafe.com/locations/malibu/

Parker Lighthouse, Long Beach

Nice menu, you will enjoy sitting outside, taking in the splendid view, including the Queen Mary.  http://parkerslighthouse.com/

Paisano’s Pizza, Hermosa Beach

The Best Pizza west of NYC! NY Style pizza and good southern Italian favorites; NY style cheesecake for desert. http://www.paisanospizzahb.com/

Tea at Trump National Golf Club, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Have fun trying new restaurants and foods when you travel. Enjoy discovering new restaurants and coffee shops and returning to your favorites.   Bon Appetit!

Travel well and often.

 

 

Travel Memoir ~ Hong Kong

When I planned my first trip to Hong Kong, airline friends who had been there spoke about the incredible shopping. But one friend told me of the gorgeous scenery and good restaurants, which are two of my loves. He was so right!

My first time flying into Kai Tek Airport was incredible. Hong Kong is part of a chain of beautiful islands and the airport was in the city, extending into Victoria Harbor. It was incredible how close the plane flew to buildings. The airport, which was always a thrill for passengers, was replaced in 1998 by a new airport on nearby Lantau Island.

The ferry between Kowloon (on the mainland) and Hong Kong Island takes 10 minutes and you have a choice of first class (upper deck) or regular (lower deck). Standing on the upper deck, viewing the many skyscrapers as you approach Hong Kong Island and the myriad of boats in the harbor, I felt that I was a part of the hustle-bustle.

On Hong Kong Island, friends and I would take the tram to the top of Victoria Peak, walk about the area ; about  2 miles, with spectacular views. Then have lunch or dinner at The Peak Restaurant, where we could not get enough of the incredible sight of Victoria Harbor. Many hotels have rooftop dining (Sheraton & Hilton were terrific) and it was great fun taking the ferry late at night taking in the views and mingling with the crowds and street vendors.

One night a group of us went to Jumbo Floating Restaurant. My mother ordered a “perfect” Rob Roy. When the waiter returned with the drink order, she sent it back saying no, it has to have equal parts of vermouth with Scotch. After the 3rd time, my mother followed the waiter to the bar. My friends and I followed my mother. She very amiably told the bartender how to make her favorite drink. And success! There was clapping and much laughter from nearby tables as my mother enjoyed her Rob Roy and we all toasted another perfect evening.

Read more