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.

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Travel Memoir ~ Rome, Italy

Rome, the “Eternal City,” is a feast for all seasons, with incredible cuisine, wine, artwork, parks, ancient monuments, food, gelato, shopping, strolling, and food (ah, yes, did I say that!). Let me share some favorite memories of when I traveled with friends or solo to a favorite city and as I worked for an international airline, I was able to indulge my love of travel.

Forget your map and smart phone, except to get a general idea of the terrain and your surroundings. Rome is best explored on foot and is a fabulous city in which to get lost. Many times my friends and I could not find the Trevi Fountain or the Tre Scalini Restaurant in Piazza Navona (and that was with a map!). But it was always fun finding our way, very often discovering other places and restaurants to explore.

Several friends and I spent a morning at the Vatican Museum, had a long, leisurely lunch and then decided to head back to the hotel (across the Tiber River, about a 45 minute walk). Three friends opted to take a bus while a friend and I decided to walk. It took us hours, crossing the Tiber River several times and we somehow kept coming back to the same starting spot. That night at dinner, we could not stop laughing showing our friends on a map where we had walked.

 

Another time, a friend took me to The Church of St. Peter in Chains, where you can view Michelangelo’s statue of Moses. Yes, you will discover incredible artwork all about, not just in museums.  My friend knew of a fabulous restaurant with the BEST pasta. It was! I still remember it. Several months later when I was in the area by myself, I could not find that particular restaurant. I quickly learned that while friends had favorite places, all of the local restaurants were very good.

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

Enjoy your magnificent Afternoon Tea in beautiful surroundings at the beautiful, inviting Café Pacific. Sip your complimentary glass of champagne as you gaze out at the spectacular scenery. The staff are very attentive and know what you desire before you ask.

I went with three friends so the photos below show Tea for four. Along with impeccable service, the food is excellent. Your serving tier will have a marvelous variety of mini sandwiches, scones and dessert. A sample menu is below.

Would I recommend this Tea? Most definitely. For me, it will be on my list of “must do” when revisiting the Los Angeles area.

After indulging, walk about the beautiful grounds and adjacent public park with walking trails, some leading to the ocean.  Photos ~ Trump National Golf Club and vicinity, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Afternoon Tea is available Monday thru Saturday and all reservations are to be made 48 hours in advance. www.trumpnationallosangeles.com

Sample Menu

  • Sandwiches: Cucumber, Mint Cream Cheese on Sourdough, Curry Chicken, Celery Mayonnaise on Croissant, Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper, Chives on Wheat Prosciutto, Swiss, Lettuce, Tomato, Grain Mustard on Sourdough Egg and Watercress Sandwich
  • Scones: Cranberry and Apricot Scones. Served with Homemade Jam Lemon Curd and Devonshire Cream
  • Dessert: New York Style Cheesecake, Fresh Fruit Tarts, Fresh Lemon Squares, Double Fudge Chocolate Brownies, White Chocolate Mousse Cups
  • Beverages: Featuring a selection of exquisite loose leaf teas and one choice of the following: a glass of champagne, white wine or sherry

 

Another Tea to try in the LA area is at the Getty Villa: Tea by the Sea ~ The Getty Villa, Pacific Palisades, CA