The roaring waves of the Atlantic rage against the rugged shoreline of Scotland and the lush green mountains stand guard in the highlands to protect the glistening lochs and legends of the mystic moors. We can faintly hear echos across the glens of the battle cries and rapturous bagpipes of a gone by era.
Our ladies travel group once again ventured off on an exciting tour!! 10 days in Scotland. We started our journey in Edinburgh, we took in the sights, tastes and sounds of this beautiful city and stayed in the "old City" area at the Apex hotel. We seen the World's only rotating boat lift, the statues of the legendary Kelpies, walked the Royal Mile, toured the Edinburgh Castle and explored the Roslyn Chapel.
Our days that followed took us up the east coast to the north and back around the west coast to Glasgow and back to Edinburgh.
Along the way we visited Wick, we walked the sacred grounds of St. Andrews golf coarse and strolled the streets where Kate Middleton and Prince William met! We had afternoon tea and scones in the Ballindalloch Castle, searched for the infamous Loch ness monster and stopped for a "wee dram" of whiskey at the Pulteney Distillery and clapped our hands and sang along to Scottish folk tunes in the Old Smiddy Pub.
We then traveled the East coast to the northern tip of mainland Scotland to John O'Groats to take the ferry across the North Sea to the port of Burwick. We traveled across the causeways or "barriers" as they refer to them, that were built by WWII Italian prisoners of war.
Once back to mainland and overnight in Wick we started fresh with a visit to the Queen mom's summer home, the Castle of Mey. I must see, the guides in the castle were assistants to the Queen mom and all the Royal family who stay there. Their stories of the family were humorous and heartfelt and show how much they are loved. We continued down the west coast stopping in Ullapool and wandering through the Glencoe area with a scenic boat ride on the Loch Lomand. Our tour ended in Glasgow. I'll leave you with this Scottish blessing:
May the best you have ever seen
Be the worst you will ever see
May a mouse never leave your girnal
With a tear drop in his eye
May you always keep hale and hearty
Till you are old enough to die
May you always be just as happy
As we wish you always to be
Overview of our upcoming hosted group tour in August 2020.
Welcome to Germany! Munich is the first stop on our 9 day Munich to Munich tour. Like much of Europe, Munich is a historical city with a lot of Roman influence. Fun Facts; learning 3 languages is expected, legal drinking age is 16, University is free, a typical graduation gift is a high end bicycle not a car! While visiting Munich take some time to enjoy Marien Platz (Mary's Square) and the beautiful city hall. An optional tour to do would be the Dachau tour, Germany's 1st concentration camp.
Next stop is Regensburg. This is the "best preserved medieval city in Germany". St. Peter's Cathedral is a must visit as well as a stop for lunch at the historic Sausage Kitchen located next to the Stone Bridge.
We are then onto Nuremberg, with a stop at the Thurn & Taxis Palace, this is owned by a family that started the postal services in Europe in the 16th century.
You will also visit Bayreuth and the museum of composer Richard Wagner. Here you have an optional tour of the rally grounds of Hitler. Then to Bamberg for lunch and a walking tour of this cute little town of narrow, winding, cobblestone streets that roam up and down lots of hills. This town is famous for their "smoked beer", a taste to be acquired!
Next town was Rottenburg, a very pretty town with an abundance of decorative horticulture on the store fronts and houses. They are also known for their Christmas stores and steins.
A drive through Stuttgart, you will enter the Black Forest with a stay in the Black Forest. Then on to Lake Constance, the largest freshwater reservoir. Beautiful restaurants and shops all along the water's edge. The countryside from here to Oberammergau are a combination of Austrian Alps and vineyards. You will arrive into the town which is home to the Passion Play that was first preformed in 1634! You will also have the option to visit Sleeping Beauties Castle, Neuschwanstein!! Take a horse drawn carriage up to this extraordinarily beautiful castle!!!
Ahhhh…….. the feeling of hot, sun drenched air hitting your face as you disembark on the tarmac in beautiful Barbados!! If you are not from a cold country,as I am, then you will not understand this feeling we, as Northwestern Ontarians, long for at least 6 months out of the year!
Oops - after we switched sides in the car that is driven on the “right” side, we are underway on our 2 week vacation of basking in the hot sun of the island known as “little England”. After getting used to going clockwise on a few crazy round-abouts and dodging pot holes, we make it to our condo in St James Parish, Holetown, Barbados. First on the list is a “10 Saints beer” a local beer brewed in rum casks! Then a 4 minute stroll to check out Alleynes Beach. Breathtaking, as expected! Now back in the car to get some groceries for the condo.
While staying in Barbados a condo or apartment is a nice option as you are not obligated to eat every meal in a restaurant, sometimes its nice to have fruit, cheese, bread and some wine or beer on the beach for lunch! Groceries are very similar to ours, although a lot more pricey!
That said, the choices of restaurants on the island are excellent from a “fast food” Chefette’s to beautifully located gourmet options. Being our second time to the island we wanted to check out some previously visited restaurants as well as some new ones. This is a review of some we had a chance to visit.
Lone Star Hotel – beautiful setting on the beach, delicious, inventive cocktails usch as the “Pornstar Martini” and delicious meals. From Wood fired pizzas, mussels in white wine sauce, nicoise salad, perfectly prepared, blackened catch of the day and a sinfully delicious sticky pudding with caramel sauce and marble ice cream. Keep your eyes open, you might be seated next to a celebrity!
Surfside Beach Bar- surprisingly fancy, delicious, well priced food! The setting is very casual as it is a beach bar, but the food they create not only looks great but scrumptious as well. Monday nights have a great reggae band.
Just Grillin’ – the BEST Caesar salad on the island! The even sell their dressing. Have the blackened chicken ceasar salad or wrap.
The Cliff – world renowned chef, Paul Owens from London, England has achieved a level of gastronomic delight that I didn’t know I was missing until now! From the moment you step into this magnificent restaurant and are seated in the lounge for your front row view of a Caribbean sunset, high on a cliff overlooking the ocean, you are experiencing nothing short of heaven. Start with a Pear and Vanilla cooler cocktail! The menu is prix-fixe with a large selection in each of the 3 courses. I had the Open Ravioli of Shrimp, then the seared tuna with Caribbean pineapple salsa and roasted cherry tomatoes, and for a happy ending I had the phylo pastry crème brulee with berries. WOW !! I have ate in many restaurants around the world and this is one of the most memorable and delicious.
By Richard Frisbie
Macau, on the South China Sea, was once the center of the Portuguese colonial trade routes. Now it is the gambling capital of the world with a unique cuisine that is a complex amalgam of ingredients and techniques the Portuguese collected from Brazil to Malaysia. When combined with Cantonese and other regional cooking – true fusion food was created. Today, the once obscure regional cooking is growing in popularity in the U.S., thanks to Chef Abraham Conlon’s famous Chicago restaurant, Fat Rice, and his recent Macanese cookbook. The Macau Institute for Tourism’s culinary school was founded with the intent to preserve Macau’s unique cuisine. In two decades, the institute has grown into several schools that include a teaching restaurant and hotel. While the lodging in Macau can be glitzy and over‐the‐ top (think Las Vegas on steroids – a gilded mashup of Venice and Versailles), the institute’s Pousada de Mong‐Ha is a simple, quiet place to stay while visiting Macau. Combine that with visits to its teaching restaurant, which serves old‐style dishes with a contemporary flair, and you’ll be helping the next generation of chefs and hoteliers to learn their craft as you enjoy great food and service. An early institute instructor and the founding director of the Macanese Culinary Association, Austrian chef Raimund Pichlmaier learned the cooking of Macau by watching his Macanese mother‐in‐law. He taught me how to make African Chicken, one of the most famous dishes of Macau. I should say he showed me, because his method of teaching was to let the students watch him cook and then encourage them to recreate the dish. There were no books or recipes involved. While curriculum and teaching techniques have changed considerably, the African Chicken is still a classic dish. Basically, it is a half chicken marinated in a coconut and citrus sauce that is grilled, with the sauce thickened and served over it. Shallots, chilies, tarragon and paprika really punch up the sauce’s flavour. Some modern recipes add peanuts, but in my opinion they just muddy the flavour. There are a few family‐owned restaurants in Macau that epitomize the local cuisine. Restaurante Fat Siu Lau (you must try the marinated pigeon) and A Vencedora are both century‐old restaurants, while Solmar Restaurant and Riquexo Café are decades younger, but all preserve the classic Macanese cuisine. By now it is apparent that my interest lies in the older Macanese dishes, but, when in Macau, I strongly suggest you taste the roots of Macanese cuisine and then experience the classic Cantonese cooking (especially the dim sum at The Eight!) that Macau is equally famous for.
The city with an exciting history!! Blues and Jazz was the emerging music scene in the 1920's and is still a huge part of Chicago today. Gangsters and prohibition was also a large part of the city's history, 17 of the most notorious mobsters were from Chicago! Al Capone and John Dillinger being the most infamous!
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 almost destroyed the historic buildings except for a famous few that survived - the most notable the "Water Tower".
Time has mellowed this historic city as well as the reconstruction after the fire had produced some of the most beautiful architecture in United States. Today you can wander the downtown area and witness the architectural wonders first hand, as well as have fun visiting the historic "hang-outs and speak-easy's" of days gone by. Chicago is word renowned for its museums and what a diverse display of interesting things they have to offer!! I was lucky enough to recently visit Chicago and meandered the areas around the Magnificent Mile enjoying the history, sights and great food and now I cannot wait to showcase this city to our ladies on our group tour this September!!!
September 17 - 25, 2015
Our ladies trip to the Emerald Isle started in the beautiful city of Dublin, with our lovely tour guide, Carmel and we started with a walking tour which took in St. Patrick's Cathedral and Trinity College. Next a stop at the Jameson Distillery and a fun filled evening at the Taylors Three Rock Restaurant for dinner and an Irish Cabaret.
The Next day we set off to Belfast and the birth place of the Titanic. Our tour of the Titanic Museum and the city was very interesting to listen to the history of the city with the unrest they lived with for many years and how now it is all in the past and they live peacefully with each other - thanks to Bill Clinton!!
Our next destination was the Giant's Causeway & Donegal, the ancient town founded by Danish Vikings, and ending in Sligo for the evening.
The Cliff's of Moher are a spectacular limestone cliff 668' high! This was our somewhat "damp" stop today with the evening spent in Ennis. Tonight's dinner was a gourmet delight, meticulously prepared for us by the owners of the Cloister Restaurant; Noreen and Dermot. They do a fantastic job of the meals and well as the atmosphere in theie 13th century Friary that they restored to its current splendor.
Today took us to the "Ring of Kerry", with 100 miles of panoramic coastal views. The colorful farmhouses, sheep and patchwork fields dotted with crystal clear lakes was a beautiful sight indeed! The farm fresh food we experienced throughout Ireland was fantastic as well as the option of Jameson Whiskey in your morning porridge!
The sparkle from the House of Waterford was hard on the eyes as we entered the city of Cork where the Waterford Crystal factory is located and we of course went on a tour and tried to keep our wallets in our purses!!
We stayed the night in the near by seaside village of Tramore and of course visited a pub; Aggie's that was established in 1730!
Early this morning we were off to Avoca and the hand weaving mill to see the making of beautiful blankets, scarves, sweaters etc. We then circled back to where our trip began in Dublin at the Guinness Brew house for Guinness Stew and beer!!
I was lucky enough, in late spring 2015, to travel to India, an amazing and very spiritual country with many contrasts from Ancient to Modern, from pristine to overcrowded and cluttered.
Our trip included a visi;to the Taj Mahal - magnificent! Pictures do not do it justice. The mausoleum was started in 1631AD by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a tribute to his beloved deceased wife. It is an UNESCO World Heritage site and the jewel of Muslim art and an architectural masterpiece! I don’t know what I expected when I walked into the Taj Mahal, but the entire building is solely devoted to only his wife's crypt . The mausoleum and the 17 hectares of gardens and monument surrounding it will take your breath away, pictures do not do it justice.
The “Pink City” of Jaipur is stunning, the old city is surrounded by an enormous wall, and all the buildings inside were painted pink to welcome Edward, Prince of Wales in 1876. Still to this day the Pink remains. The picture shows the pink ( terracotta) buildings while a wedding procession goes through the streets.
A beautiful highlight was an early morning boat ride on the Ganges river. We had the opportunity to watch the city of Varanasi come alive as the sun rose. One of the oldest living city’s in the world, Varanasi is where cremations take place and it is the wish of the Indian people to have their ashes placed in the Ganges River.
Food was fantastic, not as spicy (hot) as I thought it would be, great flavours, very little red meat is served in India as the "sacred" cows are EVERYWHERE............ Highways, side streets and outside shops, you really have to watch where you step!! There is great shopping for jewelry, hand woven silk rugs, glass and tile work. Most of the items are still done by hand on man powered machinery.
India is a vast country, our visit just touched on part of it including Delhi, Varanasi, Agra & Jaipur I would hope that my next visit would included stops in the Himalayan Mountains in the north and the beautiful beaches in the south.
LOVE IT OR HATE IT most people feel some of each emotion - in either case India can't fail to be an intoxicating place to visit! ......Namaste.......PAM CROSS
Bowls filled to the rim with gumbo, late nights in dark jazz clubs, stroll historic neighborhoods and experience the charms of the creole/Cajun people of the south, don't forget to take time to relax with a beignet and coffee at a sidewalk café or a Mint Julep TO-GO from one of the many bars along the streets.
Explore the city on a tour and be sure to see one the interesting cemeteries that New Orleans is famous for. Be sure to take a tour of an old sugar cane plantation and a swamp tour in the bayou!!
While visiting the south, take time to go across the bridge to Biloxi, Mississippi and experience the Best Southern Hospitality!!! Check out Ocean Springs, MS and sip on sweet tea offered to you in the gift shops while you explore the treasures then have lunch or dinner on an outdoor patio!
"Y'all come back now - you hear!"
Stylish sophistication and historic New England Charm, lobster rolls and gourmet dining. Boston is a very proud city that pays homage to American history and serves as all things to all people, whether you are a foodie, history lover or a traveling family.
Stroll along the Freedom Trail learning the important history of America's beginnings. If you have worked up an appetite, stop at Faneuil Hall for some clam chowder and be sure to have a beer with Norm from Cheers! Make sure to wear your red socks and cheer on Boston's own Red Sox in the historic Fenway Park the oldest NBL park! Need to warm up with some tea? Check out the re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party. Need some education? Get schooled in Harvard University! Take a tour and lean about the oldest institution of higher learning in the USA! Established in 1636 with such alumni as past presidents and many important figures in American history.