Germany Tips and Surprising Facts Nudity in Munich’s English Garden or Englische Garten Leave the city behind and enter Munich’s English … Continue reading →
London Travel Tips Below are a few must-see London attractions and fun things to do, along with tips and interesting … Continue reading →
The Tower of London History The Tower of London, built in 1078, served as a royal residence and sanctuary. It … Continue reading →
Six Hours in Salzburg We had planned to explore Salzburg’s ancient buildings and cathedrals, and venues from The Sound of Music. We … Continue reading →
Belmond El Encanto, “Santa Barbara’s only Forbes Five-Star resort,” comprises 92 suites or rooms that huddle in the hills below the … Continue reading →
Following is a 4-day list of things to do and historical facts about Paris. When we visited in July, the … Continue reading →
Spectators sip on apple cider and inhale the scent of horse musk as the hunting horn calls. The Elkridge Harford Hunt Club riders and hounds are off to the fox hunt.
St James Episcopal Church in Monkton, Maryland, has hosted the Blessing of the Hunt, Blessing of the Hounds, since the 1920’s. This tradition is a family event that begins with a 10 a.m. Thanksgiving Day church service.
Those that don’t attend the service, tailgate near the Pony Ring where the priest blesses the hunt at 11:00 a.m. This year, St James is requesting $20 for parking to support the Historic Preservation Fund.
Mixing with family and friends while witnessing this blessed event is a special way to start the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving.
In Columbia, South Carolina, the pace slows, and the palmettos exude warmth like the locals. Don’t be surprised if you are called mam or sir, especially by someone younger, good manners are the southern way.
In late February, the temperature begins to warm, and trees start to leaf-out and bloom. Purple and yellow pansies brighten the landscape and scent the air indicating that spring is approaching.
After visiting the city several times over the past five years, I listed my favorite things to do and some must-sees in Columbia. For lodging, recently we have stayed at the Hilton Columbia Center in The Vista. We like the location and the Ruth’s Chris Steak House near the lobby.
Things to do in Columbia, South Carolina
Attend a University of South Carolina Football Game at William Brice Stadium
“First you smell it, then you step in it.” This was a local’s response when I asked for directions to Clemson, South Carolina’s arch-rival.
Most Columbians are dedicated Gamecock fans and the school colors, garnet and black, unite the city.
If you tailgate with the students don’t plan on food. However, if you know someone in Cocks Corner, you can party in style with live bands and feast on shrimp, brisket, homemade desserts, and more.
During the game, feel the electricity and pageantry as you watch the USC marching band, Mighty Sound of the Southeast, cover the field and parade to the beat. Listen to them play buoyant fight songs. You are experiencing college football, southern style.
Hold your white towel after a touchdown and twirl it in unison with the crowd to “Sandstorm” while chanting USC! USC!
The University of South Carolina Campus
Tour the University of South Carolina campus and walk the Horseshoe where historic buildings line the permitter and students study or play frisbee in the common area.
Get decked out for the game. Stop in the Russell House and grab a coffee then enter the University of South Carolina Bookstore and shop their extensive selection of Gamecock merchandise including hats, jackets, sweats and more.
Check out the Longstreet Theatre where Hootie and the Blowfish, former Gamecocks, shot their first album cover. Darius Rucker is an avid fan, and he had promised free concerts on campus providing the University of South Carolina football team won at least six season games. Last Spring he played at the Colonial Life Arena on April 5.
The South Carolina State House
Throw yourself back in history and tour the State House and the grounds and see the civil war statues and the South Carolina State Flag designed in flowers.
South Carolina Confederate Relic Room & Military Museum
Explore South Carolina’s military history that starts in the colonies and continues to today.
Transport yourself to the South by biting into a Carolina vinegar and mustard sauced pulled pork topped with coleslaw and pickles sandwiched in a fresh roll. Lean over your plate as you crunch the pickles and coleslaw and the sauce drips from the tender pork. It seems like you can’t go wrong with pulled pork anywhere in the Carolinas, but Palmetto Pig tops my list.
Stop in Grill Marks for a juicy burger on a freshly baked bun, and a milkshake laden with homemade ice cream. If you choose to add alcohol ask for a“Shaketail.”
Peruse The Vista’s boutiques, bars, and restaurants. For upscale dining, though attire is mostly casual, try Cola, a former RC Cola plant that still looks like a brick warehouse until you step inside and think that you had entered an adrenalized New York restaurant.
Another choice is Blue Marlin that has consistently served excellent steaks and seafood. After dinner, stop in the Cupcake Down South on Lincoln Street and choose from their 50 selections of decadent cupcakes, like Southern Red Velvet with cream cheese icing, that they bake daily in three sizes.
Try Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Cafe that is attached to Claussen’s Inn. It’s a casual atmosphere with upscale food without New York prices.
Claussen’s Inn was a former bakery repurposed for lodging. Inside, the hallway on the second floor overlooks the lobby from a balcony, like an outdoor motel. In our second-floor room, a spiral staircase led from the living room up to the bedroom.
However, I felt like I was in “I Love Lucy” when trains chugged by and engineers blared their horns after midnight. I waited for my bed to jump around the room. With that said, I still enjoyed the hotel’s ambiance, and I sadly learned that it’s for sale.
Stop in a Five Points’ restaurant for a beer and a bite and mix with college students. If you wait until St. Patrick’s Day, Five Points throws one of the best celebrations in the country.
Dine outside at one of the sidewalk cafes. One of my favorites is the Mexican inspired restaurant Cantina 76.
Have a seat and play a tune on the transformed artistic steel drums on Main Street that were created with propane tanks and tractor seats.
Stop in the Sheraton’s rooftop bar for a drink and watch one of South Carolina’s renowned sunsets.
Where to stay
Hilton Columbia Center
The Hilton Garden Inn
Sheraton Columbia Downtown
Visit Columbia, South Carolina and experience the warmth.
Germany Tips and Surprising Facts
Nudity in Munich’s English Garden or Englische Garten
Leave the city behind and enter Munich’s English Garden that rates as one of the largest parks in the world. You can walk, jog, or bike on the pedestrian path, stop in the Japanese teahouse, catch a football game or watch the surfers ride the river.
If the weather is warm, don’t be surprised if you see nudists in the park. Nudity is cultural and welcomed at designated public parks, swimming pools, beaches, and saunas. If you are clothed in a “textile free” location, an authority figure may ask you to undress.
Three-Story Slide in the University of Technology in Munich
Stop by Munich’s University of Technology on a weekday where the efficient-savvy Germans had developed a functional piece of art. It’s a sliding board that transports students from the third floor to the first within seconds. Visitors are welcome to give it a try.
Car loyalty is a lifestyle in Germany, and it’s not uncommon for adult children to choose the same make of car as their parents. The Mercedes-Benz Museum capitalizes on this loyalty by offering hands-on-design opportunities and activities for children and their families.
Car competition is stiff, and some car brands made in Germany include Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Opel, Porsche, BMW, and Volkswagen. While traveling, look for cars covered in camouflage. When manufacturers test prototypes, they disguise their design from the competition.
Also, when you climb in a taxicab, chances are it’s a Mercedes-Benz.
Marienplatz or Mary’s Square
Marienplatz Town Square, named after the Virgin Mary, offers an excellent place to shop or drop by a cafe for a bite. The golden sculpture of Mary was created in 1590 and rises in front of the New Town Hall.
New Town Hall or Neues Rathaus
While in Marienplatz, note the famous glockenspiel on New Town Hall. The bells chime reminiscent of a xylophone while figurines, emblematic of Bavarian historic figures, revolve around balconies marking the time at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. daily, and 5 p.m. from March to October.
Beer is considered food in Germany. In worldwide beer consumption, Germany is ranked number three and tied with Austria.
Try the local beer and tour a brewery like Hofbrau. The beer that we had sampled at various locations was not too filling though robust brew was available.
For an authentic Bavarian experience, try Zum Augustiner and dine with the locals. It’s a social event where tables can seat 20 plus patrons. Though the food was substantial, we chose a beer that lightened the meal.
Maypoles date back to the 13th century when illiteracy was prevalent. Each maypole is unique and portrays the borough’s trades and crafts.
Beer, produce, vegetables, dancing, music and a carousel decorate the maypole at Victualienmarkt indicating that it is a place for food and events. Peruse the outdoor market for local meat, cheese, sausage, condiments, flowers, herbs, and home decor, then stop in the beer garden for refreshment.
Bavaria Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles
If you can take your eyes off the countryside, notice that many homes are attached to barns. Connecting the buildings enables the farmers to avoid Bavaria’s severe weather when they access the barn to work and feed the animals.
Bavaria Wies Church or Wieskirche
Visit the Bavarian Rococo style Pilgrimage Church of Wies. In 1738, a relic of Jesus the Scourged Savior was reported to have shed tears, and pilgrims streamed to visit “the miracle of tears in the Wies.”
In 1745, to accommodate the crowds, construction had begun on the Wies pilgrimage church, and that same year the bishop established a commission to investigate the miracle. The group determined that they could not deny or confirm the event and concluded that it was a matter of opinion.
Today, pilgrims travel from across the world to pray to the statue of the Scourged Savior displayed in the Wies Church sanctuary.
While in Germany, drive the autobahn. In congested areas, signs post a recommended speed limit usually between 68 and 80 mph, though there are stretches where the driver chooses his speed.
The left or fast lane is for passing. If a car approaches in the left lane, the vehicle ahead moves over.
There is plenty to do in Munich from dining, shopping, visiting historic castles and buildings, and viewing the magnificent countryside. Germany, with its many points of interest, is an excellent destination.
London Travel Tips
Below are a few must-see London attractions and fun things to do, along with tips and interesting facts.
I would buy my tickets online for the tourist attractions to save time and sometimes money. For your convenience, I linked to the sites.
Borough Market has stood at the same location for over 1,000 years, making it one of the oldest markets in the world.
While I walked the aisles listening to the buzz of chatter, I spotted tables displayed with brightly colored fresh fruit and vegetables. As I continued, I caught whiffs of coffee brewing, then a hint of curry, then sausage and burgers sizzling on the grill. I love food, so this was the place for me.
Vendors sell almost everything you need for meal preparation, or you can buy freshly- made food to eat there or take home. You can find selections from appetizers to desserts including seafood, game, meat, artisan food, pastries, confectionery, beer, wine, liquor and more.
In addition to filling your pantry, you can deck out your home and tabletop with ceramics, textiles, art, and flowers.
Give yourself time to shop and sample their traditional and international selections. Go hungry and enjoy.
The George Inn
Established in Southwark in 1542, The George was a resting stop for travelers and their horses. Famous patrons like Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare frequented the inn, and Dickens mentioned The George in his book “Little Dorrit.” Today, it’s still a fun place to stop in for a pint and some pub food.
The Rose Playhouse
Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, The Jew of Malta, and Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part I. were among The Rose Theatre’s regular performances. Though it was built in 1587, the local competition put The Rose out of business by 1603.
In 1989, archeologists uncovered the fourteen-sided theatre and the inner and outer foundations. The theatre’s floor sloped down to a drain that removed standing water, and its pitch improved the audience’s view. During the dig, they discovered jewelry, coins, tokens, and money box pieces.
The red lights seen today indicate The Rose’s size, its pit, and the locations of its two stages.
Chewing Gum Art
When you cross the Millennium Bridge, look down at the colorful chewing gum art that is wedged in the grooves. “The Chewing-Gum-Man,” Ben Wilson, stooped or reclined on the bridge and created scenes and abstracts from discarded gum. As you traversed the bridge, did you know that you were treading on art?
London Eye or Coca-Cola London Eye
From the London Eye Ferris Wheel, you have 360-degree views of London. Most people share a capsule, and depending on the promotion, prices start at 19.50 euros. If you want a private party, you can hire your own module that can hold three to 25 people for 550 euros.
Experience an Arsenal football match at Emirates Stadium. The crowd hangs on every kick and ball that the players head. You can learn and sing the group chants, some of these songs have been cheered for almost a hundred years.
Arriving and departing the stadium using the tube with thousands of Arsenal fans is part of the experience.
For centuries, Westminster Abbey has been used for coronations, royal weddings, and a site of burial or commemoration.
The first Coronation at Westminster Abbey was in 1066. The Coronation Chair that dates back to 1296 is still used in the monarch crowning ceremony.
Westminster Abbey’s first royal wedding was held in 1382, and the last royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton was in 2011.
Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, and Queen Elizabeth I are among the 3,300 buried or commemorated at the Abbey.
Her Majesty The Queen lives at Buckingham Palace that has 775 rooms. When the Royal Standard Flag flies, The Queen is home. The palace is open to the public between April and September, and it’s one of the top places to visit in London.
Churchill War Rooms
While Hitler encased himself in concrete, Churchill learned that his underground bunker or the Churchill War Rooms that was ten feet below the ground offered little protection from a bombing raid. Nevertheless, Churchill and his team lived and plotted their war strategy in this shelter.
The Churchill War rooms provide a look into bunker life where Churchill had a private room with a direct line to President Roosevelt, and where gas masks were part of the office decor.
The Tower of London
You could spend a day learning how royalty lived and died in the Tower of London. Before visiting, download the interactive smartphone apps to enhance the experience, or take a tour with one of the Yeomen Warders.
These were some of my favorite places and activities in London, and I hope that this list helps you plan your itinerary.
The Tower of London History
The Tower of London, built in 1078, served as a royal residence and sanctuary. It was a fortress, armory, barracks, prison, and a place of torture and execution. It held exotic animals, and it secured the Crown Jewels and the Royal Mint.
The fortress offered its raven birds protection for hundreds of years because legend still dictates that if the Tower’s ravens leave, there will be dire consequences. The birds are nurtured on the grounds today.
Some of the sovereigns that were prisoners, depending on their crime, had full run of the fortress and enjoyed comfortable quarters and meals prepared to their liking.
Condemned Prisoners at the Tower of London
Edward I initially commissioned a waterway, later called Traitors’ Gate, to enter the Tower by the Thames. Eventually, prisoners came through this gate after passing the heads of the executed displayed on London Bridge spikes.
Ironically, if a prisoner was condemned, execution at the Tower of London was almost a privilege because decapitation was usually quick and the convicted avoided the jeers of the crowd outside the walls.
Among the famous prisoners at the Tower was Anne Boleyn who was accused of infidelity when she couldn’t produce an heir for Henry VIII, and she was beheaded in 1536.
Another prisoner, Guy Fawkes, had planned to assassinate King James I and blow up the House of Lords. He was found in the basement of Westminster Palace, below Parliament, guarding a door to a room filled with gunpowder. He was tortured and ultimately found guilty of high treason. He was sentenced to death by hanging and then drawn and quartered. He avoided this death by jumping off the gallows and breaking his neck.
In 1483, two young princes aged twelve and ten years old arrived at the Tower after their father King Edward IV had died. The twelve-year-old was the rightful king until their uncle, the Duke of Gloucester who became King Richard III, had removed their titles and imprisoned them after finding them illegitimate. Eventually, the princes disappeared, and years later two children’s skeletons were found in the Tower, but their identity remained unconfirmed.
The White Tower
The White Tower was built as a royal residence and intimidation for England’s enemies. Today, It houses the Royal Armour as well as replica torture tools like the rack, to stretch a prisoner; manacles, to hang him/her by the arms; and the scavenger’s daughter, a compression device. An executioners block and ax that may have been used in the last beheading in the 1700s is still on display.
Tower of London Royal Beasts
Collecting exotic animals began in the 1200s and continued for 600 years. The kings and queens had gathered and received animals as gifts. An example of these 60 species included bears, lions, monkeys, zebras, and alligators. Not only did these animals provide entertainment and status, but they instilled fear.
The Jewel House and The Crown Jewels
Guards protect the Royal Collection of Crown Jewels that hold strong cultural and religious significance for the British Monarchy. The Crown Jewels consist of 23,578 gemstones and are used today for the coronation that has taken place in Westminster Abbey since 1066. The Queen also wears the Crown Jewels at the State Opening of Parliament. Her crown alone weighs about three pounds and she practices wearing it in the privacy of her residence.
Tower of London Ravens
Ravens have resided at the Tower for centuries because legend states: “Should the ravens ever leave, the White Tower would crumble.” With clipped wings and a diet of carcasses and blood, most of them stay.
The Beefeaters or Yeomen Warders
The Tower of London is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a powerful symbol of England’s monarchy. The fortress walls could tell harrowing stories about torture and executions of the innocent and guilty, but they could also tell tales about majesty and honor.
The Yeomen Warders, or the Beefeaters, who have guarded the Tower since 1509, will transport you back to earlier times by bringing the fortress to life through their narratives and tours. If you like a good story, you won’t be disappointed.
Six Hours in Salzburg
We had planned to explore Salzburg’s ancient buildings and cathedrals, and venues from The Sound of Music. We took the 10 a.m. train from Munich to Salzburg and arrived around 11:30. We left the train station and walked about 15 minutes then crossed the Salzach river bridge heading toward the shopping district Hagenauerplatz.
The Salzach River
What to do in Hagenauerplatz or Hagenau Square
We arrived in Hagenauerplatz and perused the shops, and as we neared the street’s end, the meticulous sculpture of Jesus on the cross caught our attention on St. Blasius or St. Blaise’s Church. Though it was September, a note posted on the church advertised an Advent music event. We knew that we were in a town that celebrated Catholicism.
Getreidegasse and Mozart
We turned down Getreidegasse and spotted Amadeus Wolfgang Mozart’s birthplace and the home that he lived in for 17 years at Getreidegasse No. 9. Mozart’s house is one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in historic Salzburg.
We then walked toward the Hohensalzburg Fortress, and instead of taking the cable railway up to the fortress, we began our climb up the steep hill. We stopped about halfway at Stieglkeller beer garden for lunch. After lunch, we continued our trek up and toured the castle.
Nonnberg Nunnery “Abbey”After the tour, we directed our path down the hill to the Nonnberg Convent that was founded between the years 712 to 715 and is known as the oldest working nunnery in the world. To this day, you can still hear the nuns sing every morning at 6:45. The real Maria von Kutscher who had inspired The Sound of Music had lived at the abbey, and scenes from the musical were filmed at Nonnberg.
Next, we entered the square where horse and carriages are available for hire for The Sound of Music tours, or dinner tours, and more. In one of the scenes in Residenzplatz Square, Maria had splashed in the Residenz Fountain on her way to the von Trapp home.
Salzburg Cathedral or Dom zu Salzburg
We passed Salzburg’s holiest and most famous Cathedral, Dom zu Salzburg where 370 years ago someone marred the marble entranceway with graffiti. We proceeded west to Mirabell Palace and Gardens where Maria and the von Trapp children had sung “Do Re Mi.”
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
We enjoyed the gardens and the view of the cathedral and fortress, but today the palace is used for municipal government business, so we entered the foyer only. With time to spare, we relaxed at a cafe and sipped some Austrian wine paired with a selection of cheese.
One day, we hope to return and stay longer. Salzburg, entrenched in history, classical music, and religion, seems like the perfect place to celebrate the Christmas season.
A wedding between the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen inspired the first Octoberfest. The reception began on October 12, 1810, and ended on October 17. Munich citizens attended the five-day party that included music, parades, food, and drinks; and ended with a horse race.
Munich’s Octoberfest Today
Octoberfest previously took place in October, but today the festival starts in September and lasts 16 to 18 days. September is the chosen month because the days are longer and warmer. The festival ends on the first Sunday of October unless it falls on the first or second of the month. Then it ends on the third.
The first Octoberfest was held in a field that today is named the Theresienwiese in tribute to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.
Men and women dress in the traditional garb; men wear lederhosen, leather shorts with suspenders and plaid shirts; and women wear dirndls, wide skirts bowed at the waist, and they often braid their hair.
Octoberfest covers about 102 acres and attracts over six-million people worldwide. The carnival includes rides for children and family and thrill rides for that heart-dropping experience. Also, prize-winning carnival games abound like popping balloons with darts and air gun shooting.
If that’s not enough, merrymakers can watch parades, participate in contests, or go to the Schichtl Theatre and get executed by fake decapitation.
Octoberfest Beer Tents
Beer tents are the preferred venue, and it’s a good idea to buy your tickets in advance. Each tent features its own beer. We recognized our tent, Winzerer Fahndl, by the big beer mug perched on top. Tents offer indoor and outdoor seating, and large tents hold thousands, while small tents accommodate hundreds. Our tent held 8,450 people inside and 2,450 outside.
About ten people sit at each picnic table, and if you don’t have ten in your party they combine groups. Benches butt up against each other, so there is little room to maneuver. Our tent had clean bathrooms and the wait in the ladies’ restroom line was about seven minutes, and there was no wait in the men’s room.
When we entered, I smelled grilled chicken and watched waiters carry large platters of food through throngs of people. We found our table and opened the menu that included traditional food like roast ox meat, pork sausages with sauerkraut, roasted leg of veal, grilled duck, potato dumplings, the featured beer Paulaner, and other drinks. We started with the beer that tasted malty and medium bodied. We loved it. However, the next day we had sore arm muscles from holding the heavy mugs.
The band played songs geared toward an older crowd on a stage in the center of our tent. Many lined up and danced, or swayed to the beat in unison and sang along.
Theft at Octoberfest
With thousands of people attending, I shouldn’t have been surprised by what I saw. I entered the ladies room where an attendant had a basket of tips on the table by the door. When I was leaving, I saw the flash of a brown-haired-young man dressed in lederhosen charge in the ladies room, grab the attendant’s tips and dash. I heard someone curse in English, and I suspected that theft wasn’t a first.
Why you should attend Octoberfest
There is something for everyone at Octoberfest whether its thrill rides, shows, parades, or enjoying Bavarian food and drink. Attending one of the biggest parties in the world is a great way to soak up the culture and meet people. Though the festival ended yesterday, there’s always next year.
It’s unfortunate that the NFL has decided to make a political statement supporting their players that “take a knee” during our National Anthem. If you want to be heard, you can boycott these NFL sponsors.
Belmond El Encanto, “Santa Barbara’s only Forbes Five-Star resort,” comprises 92 suites or rooms that huddle in the hills below the Santa Ynez mountains and overlook Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean like sentinels. Though it opened in 1918, the resort was sold to Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. in 2004 and had undergone a seven-year refurbishment.
Rates start at $525 per night and hotel packages are available. A $35 per night resort fee gave us access to WI-FI, motorized bikes, the El Encanto spa and gym, the daily local paper, an in-room Nespresso coffee machine, bottled water, garden tours, backyard games, shoe shining, and shuttle transportation. We used all of the amenities except for the motorized bikes, garden tours, backyard games, and shoe shining. We especially enjoyed making espresso in our room.
I had booked late for a Memorial Day weekend wedding, and I was initially disappointed that I wasn’t able to reserve a room in town within walking distance of bars and restaurants. That changed when we arrived at this hillside oasis. We entered the expansive lobby, located in the main building, through a flower-covered arbor. The receptionist welcomed us with a smile and ensured us that the staff was available to assist us.
We followed the bellman along curved brick walkways lined with gardens brimming with succulents, purple lilies, ferns, and canopied palms. We passed a pond where orange fish darted among water lilies, turtles sunned themselves on rocks, and a pair of ducks waddled. This was the perfect venue for a Belmond El Encanto wedding.
We approached our bungalow covered with a red tile roof and equipped with a patio decked with two chairs and a table. We entered the living room furnished with a sofa, tables, a few chairs, a widescreen TV, and a desk. The living room led to a short hallway with closets on the left and a marble bathroom with a heated floor on the right. The hallway ended at our bedroom outfitted with a king-size bed and a few tables. With the addition of a cot for our daughter who joined us for a night, the suite accommodated our family of four, it felt cozy but elegant.
We unpacked and donned light-weight jackets and strolled down the hill to the El Encanto restaurant for lunch. We dined outside on crisp Caesar salad hearts topped with moist Scottish salmon while overlooking Santa Barbara. We lingered sipping wine from their extensive wine list while absorbing the panorama. The scenery and food enticed us to return to explore their other menus.
Belmond El Encanto’s ambiance left a lasting impression on me, and I hope to return. As we headed to the airport, we felt restored and refreshed. I suspect that was their plan.
Following is a 4-day list of things to do and historical facts about Paris. When we visited in July, the sun rose at 6:14 a.m. and had set by 9:38 p.m. We had plenty of daylight for exploring.
Rive Droite or Right Bank of La Seine
Take a half day guided tour of Musee du Louvre and check out Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa who became famous because she was stolen in 1911 and was missing for two years.
Walk through the Tuileries Gardens that was originally created by Catherine de Medicis in the 16th century.
Visit the Place de Concorde where many were guillotined during the French Revolution. Today, the 3,300-year-old Obelisk Luxor marks the guillotine location.
Walk the Champs-Elysees and lunch at one of the cafes. Work your way to the Arc de Triomphe that was built by Napoleon.
Rive Gauche or Left Bank of La Seine
Visit Les Invalides, formerly a military hospital, where Napoleon is entombed. Explore the World War II wings.
Tour Rodin Musee and find The Thinker and The Gates of Hell that Dante’s Divine Comedy inspired. The Thinker initially represented Dante who was positioned over The Gates of Hell pondering the chaos of the damned.
Head to the 6th arrondissement, my favorite, and relax at one of the many sidewalk cafes and people watch while sipping wine or cafe au lait.
Visit one of the open-air markets like Raspail organic market, though Raspail is only open on Sundays, where you can buy fresh bread, desserts, a variety of cheese, fruits, vegetables, meat, flowers, and more.
Peruse the multitudes of shops and eateries on the Left Bank.
Dine at Les Deux Magots, one of the oldest Paris cafes, where Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre and many other renowned figures frequented.
Visit the Eiffel Tower at night when it shimmers in gold.
Ile de la Cite
Take a half-day tour of the Notre Dame Cathedral and then hop in a cab to Montmartre.
Walk Montmartre where Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gough, Auguste Renoir and many other famous artists had lived.
Montmartre, or “Mount of Martyrs,” was named because, in the 3rd century, the first Parisian Christians were martyred where the Basilica of the Sacre-Coeur stands today. Walk up the 270 steps to the top for panoramic Paris views.
Hire an artist to sketch your portrait at Place Du Tetre and browse through the local artwork.
Explore the Salvador Dali Museum that “holds the largest collection of Dali’s art in France.”
Though there is much more to see, these are my top suggestions for 4 days in Paris.
If you miss salt sticking to your skin as you inhale the sea-laden air or the crunch of Fischer’s sweet caramel popcorn or the rhythm of the reggae beat, you’re in luck.
Fall, or the beginning of the off-season, is the best time to travel to your favorite summer beach resorts. Visitors can still sunbathe, swim, shop, fish, crab, boat, play tennis and golf, visit museums, take classes, and enjoy the nightlife.
Beach Net is an excellent resource for year-round information for the Maryland/Delaware Eastern Shore. It includes an event calendar to help maximize your stay.
In addition to an abundance of activities, the following lists the reasons that autumn, especially September and October, is the best time to visit the beach.
September and October Temperate Weather
- Clear skies and mild temperatures are the best beach weather ingredients.
- The ocean has warmed over the hot summer months, and the temperature is easier on your body.
Reduced Crowds Means Less Stress
- You arrive at your destination quicker with less traffic.
- Bike riding is less dangerous.
- Restaurant hostesses can seat you quickly.
- Parking at retail stores is easy and there are fewer, or no, lines inside.
- Golf tee times and tennis court reservations are usually available.
- Beaches are less crowded, and sometimes no one is in sight.
- Surf fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and surfboarding are allowed during the day.
- Dogs are permitted on the beach during certain dates, depending on the town.
Best Time for Heavy Blue Crabs
Packages and Deals
- Restaurants run specials and advertise happy hour prices to draw customers.
- Hotels offer vacation packages, and condominium and beach-house-rental costs drop.
- Shoppers can stock up at “end of season” sales.
In my opinion, the best time to stick your feet in the ocean and squeeze the sand between your toes is now.
In rhythm with the tuba’s moan, the death march began. Mourners strolled to a solemn “Amazing Grace” southward on the Bethany Beach Boardwalk. They were paying their last respects. Some donned fedoras, dark sunglasses, and black tee-shirts, others draped their faces and bodies in black and purple veils using the corners to blot their tears.
A white-faced-red-wigged woman played a red accordion, and her partner with his strapped on gray beard played the banjo. A nun with “Nun Of Your Business,” printed across her head-piece and “Nun For You” across her black and white habit wailed, “We will miss her!”
“She was too young,” and “very sad” howled some from the crowd. A white plastic skeleton dangled from a man’s black coat and a spider hung by a string from his brown fedora. He sauntered to the victims final resting place with Mardi Gras beads draped through his hands that held a tarantula and skull.
A blond-haired angel bejeweled with cheap necklaces, and a white puff halo hovering over her head carried, “Summer’s” tombstone inscribed with “Rest in Peace Dear Summer,” born Memorial Day and died Labor Day.
Black cats, bats, witches, crescent moons and stars danced on Halloween cloth that draped “Summer’s” casket. “Summer’s” bright orange lipstick accentuated her tan face. A bright yellow wig and straw hat covered her head, and fake flowers enshrouded her.
When the procession arrived at the bandstand, Dixieland music replaced the dirge. Participants and onlookers tapped their feet and swayed to “Has Anyone Seen my Gal,” “Ain’t She Sweet,” “When You’re Smiling,” “God Bless America,” and more. “Summer” enjoyed a good send off. “Yes, I ask you very confidentially, ain’t she sweet?”
This year’s Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral is held Labor Day Monday at 5:30 p.m. starting at the north end of the Bethany Beach Boardwalk. Three jazz bands will serenade the crowd: Dixie Cats, Downtown Dixieland Band, and Jazz Funeral Irregulars. It’s a family-friendly and free event, and costumes are welcome. It’s a great way to celebrate summer’s end.
I carry a small cross-body-organizer that includes compartments for credit cards and cash, and two zip pockets. One I use for makeup, keys, and sunglasses, and I place my change in the other. My cell phone fits in an outside sleeve where it is easily accessible. When I travel, I toss my purse in my tote to use at my destination.
You can find organizer bags starting for twenty dollars and up at Macy’s, but spending more may ensure that they last longer. Two bags that I recommend are Brighton, that you can purchase at Kokopelli or you can order it online, and the other is a Brahmin. Both wear well.
In the past, I had carried a large bag, but I have found that these organizers are convenient. Though I had bought them for travel, I use them daily.
It seemed staged. This couple kissed at the train station the entire twenty minutes that we had waited for our Amtrak train. They hugged in an area where they were highly visible to arriving and departing passengers and those checking their Amtrak train status.
I found their behavior odd, and I wondered if this was a performance to elicit a reaction. People stared, others looked away, some smiled or laughed, one rolled her eyes, and an elderly lady said that it “looked boring.”
Do you think this was an experiment to determine how public displays of affection, PDA, affects the behavior of bystanders or was this couple’s constant kissing normal for them?
I had sidestepped through throngs of spectators to attend the White Marlin Open, in Ocean City, Maryland, labeled the “World’s Largest and Richest Billfish Tournament.” As I stood on the pier breathing pungent bay air, I was hoping to spot the qualifying White Marlin, Blue Marlin, Tuna, Dolphin, Wahoo, or Shark that could win big bucks.
The boats churned in the harbor after a day of fishing, and I watched for flags flying from the outrigger that indicated the crew had boarded a fish. Boats that had caught fish docked and handed their catch over to the White Marlin staff that measured it and attached a rope below the tail fin and used a pulley to hoist the fish up in the air to weigh it. The spokesman announced the length and weight, and if it was a contender.
By the end of this year’s tournament, the White Marlin Open had paid out over $4.7 million with over $3.3 million won by the three boats that hooked the qualifying White Marlins. The tournament drew visitors that supported the local businesses, and one of the bars ran an unusual contest that capitalized on the event.
Sunset Grille hosted the Teasers Cup. Participants, often White Marlin Open winners, competed in running up the highest bar tab, and they invited other customers to join in and drink on their tab. They bought champagne to drink and spray. Partiers shook champagne bottles, popped corks, and showered anyone close by.
During the week of the White Marlin Open, the boat, Goin’ In Deep, ran up a $20,550.05 bar tab and some say that they added a $6,200 tip. They drank champagne, that retailed for thousands, and liquor, beer, and wine. This crew had won the Teasers Cup five years in a row. Ironically, they were not among the 2017 White Marlin Open winners, but they ensured that the owners of Sunset Grille were.
Governors Island 2017
Governors Island is open and hosts events from May 1 to October 31.
What to do on Governors Island
While many take the ferry to Governors Island–ten minutes from Manhattan and two dollars round trip fare–for music festivals, performances, art exhibits, historic building tours and more, we escaped mass moving Manhattan on a cloudy weekday to see something different, at our own pace.
We rode bikes without dodging people or vehicles. We drifted through paths lined with perennial gardens where golden rudbeckias, pink cone flowers, and mixed grasses swayed. We saw Manhattan’s skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and the Staten Island Ferry from a unique perspective. We spied star-shaped Fort Jay and toured Castle Williams, a circular fort that imprisoned Confederate soldiers. We passed food trucks, Island Oyster restaurant and bar, hammocks, a compost learning center, a teaching garden, and an unusual junkyard adventure playground.
Adventure Playground NYC
The junkyard playground allows children six to twelve years old to build and experiment with scrap materials using hammers, nails, and saws, while supervisors watch and parents are kept at bay. Boards, sheets, blankets, rubber tires, metal sheets, orange construction cones, wheels, and large plastic duct tubes–large enough to crawl through–are examples of junk that litters the playground. Though the facility was closed when we visited, it is open on Saturdays and Sundays until September 25, and children can attend weekly camps.
Though we didn’t attend any scheduled events or mix with crowds, we unwound, exercised, and learned. Though I love Manhattan, Governors Island was a nice diversion.
Citi Bike App
These are the facts, and you be the judge. My daughter, J, and I rented Citi Bikes in New York on Governors Island, a ten-minute ferry ride from Manhattan. I downloaded the Citi Bike app on my iPhone and paid twelve dollars for the day pass which is good for 24 hours. I received a code to unlock the bike.
We explored the island and returned the bikes. J docked her bike. She snapped it in the rack, and the light blinked green indicating that she locked it properly. She helped me dock mine. It clicked in, and we both saw the green light flash.
Citi Bike Customer Service
We boarded the ferry and headed back to Manhattan. At 5:20, after the last ferry had left from Manhattan to Governors Island for the day, I received an email from Citi Bike that read that my bike hadn’t been seen for three hours. I called the number, and the agent stated that they knew that the bike was at the docking station and that I had tried to secure it but it wasn’t done properly. He also said that they were charging me additional fees until it was latched. I had the option to jump in a cab and take the ferry to Governors Island that had stopped running for the day or swim over and re-dock the bike.
I said, “I already regret that I rented the bike, I’m not taking a ferry back, and I have a train tomorrow morning. What do you want me to do?”
He said that my best bet was that someone would rent the bike tomorrow, and the charges would stop.
I sent an email to customer service about my bad experience with Citi Bike, and I wrote that I felt that we had fastened the bike correctly and I didn’t understand why I had to pay more. I also wrote that I am a blogger and I had planned to write a good review.
Citi Bike Cost
I received an email the next day that congratulated me for docking the bike correctly and that they would remove the $100 penalty. A Citi Bike agent explained that it is not a bike rental but a bike share.
Citi Bike Usage Fees for a Day Pass or 3-Day Pass
According to Citi Bike, “The first 30 minutes of each ride are included in the pass price. If you keep a bike out for longer than 30 minutes at a time, it’s an extra $4 for each additional 15 minutes.
To avoid additional usage fees, keep your rides to 30 minutes each. Take as many rides as you want while your pass is active!”
In other words, you have to dock the bike for two minutes for each 30 minute-ride to avoid a $4 fee.
Citi Bike Annual Membership
An annual membership is $14.95 per month or $163 per year. The first 45 minutes are included, but you are charged an additional $2.50 for each 15 additional minutes unless you dock the bike between rides.
Citi Bike Complaints
A Citi Bike agent admitted that they have received complaints about these fees. However, they have your credit card on file and can deduct the penalties.
I wonder how many customers Citi Bike has hammered with overcharges. Do you think that the average person would know that the bike is subject to these fines? What are your thoughts?
I entered the American Red Cross where gray-haired people with brown spotted skin filled the waiting room. This would be easy, I thought. I was the youngest potential blood donor in the room by at least fifteen years. I checked in, took a seat, and waited my turn.
I was healthy and in my forties. I had contacted a local American Red Cross office for information, and I had decided to donate. I followed their recommendations carefully: the night before I had retired early, and I consumed the recommended food and drinks.
A staff member called my name and escorted me to a padded chair, and after I sat down she reclined it slightly. The phlebotomist arrived and wrapped a plastic band around the upper part of my arm and wiped the underside with alcohol, that felt cold and smelled sharp and sterile. She found a vein and slipped the needle under my skin, I felt a slight intrusion. I relaxed and blood began to flow in the clear printed bag that had a UPC code. This was better than I had anticipated; I felt no pain and the donation took about nine minutes.
Afterward, the phlebotomist removed the needle and raised the back of my chair to a full sitting position. Then an assistant arrived and supported my arm to help me up. When I stood I felt a cooling sensation flow from my scalp and goosebumps rose on my back. It was like I had entered a freezer. I was nauseated and almost fainted. Two staffers supported my arms and walked me to a chair in the recovery area, where I reclined for about ten minutes.
Meanwhile, the silver hairs from my group rose from their seats, grabbed snacks and drinks, and chatted with their fellow donors like they were at a cocktail party celebrating their retirement. When staff members checked and released them, I wondered if they were skipping in the parking lot.
I sat up and washed down three Lorna Doone cookies with juice, and I improved. Within thirty minutes, an employee deemed me OK to drive. Before I left, a volunteer pressed a sticker on the upper right side of my shirt that read, “I donated blood to the American Red Cross.” She smiled and said, “Keep this on incase you pass out in the parking lot, someone who sees you will know what happened to you.” I had hoped some of the elderly had dawdled outside in case I needed CPR. Fortunately, I had left without incident and continued my errands.
According to the American Red Cross, my experience was the exception rather than the norm. Regardless, for me, it was worth a brief dizzy spell to help someone. If you are interested in more information, please check out the American Red Cross. Hopefully you will donate too.
When I entered the kitchen around 7 a.m., my husband glared at me with bleary eyes marked with half-moon circles. I poured my coffee and said, “What’s wrong?”
“I was hoping to get a full night’s sleep last night because I have a busy day. Didn’t you hear the dog whine at 4:30 this morning?”
“No, I didn’t hear him or I would’ve gotten up.”
” He whimpered, whined, then he yelped and barked. He needed to go out.”
“So you’re angry that I didn’t hear him.”
“No, I threw on my white terry cloth robe and I couldn’t find my slippers so I put on my flip-flops. The dog tore down the steps to the front door and I followed him and grabbed his leash from the closet. When my flip flops hit the tile foyer, I slid on something slimy and my feet flew up; I landed on my back.
“Are you ok?”
“I’m bruised and tired.”
“What was on the tile?”
“Yellow dog vomit, a big puddle. Don’t worry about cleaning the floor. I had lain there a minute and my robe absorbed it. I rose, and when I opened the wooden entry door the dog pushed the storm door open and ran.”
“He slipped out? We never let that happen. Thank goodness no one was out driving.”
” I walked the neighborhood with nothing on except my robe, underwear, and flip-flops. Clouds had blocked the moon, and I navigated using our floodlights and street lights. I couldn’t find our Labrador retriever, and when I returned home he was standing on the front lawn panting and wagging his tail so hard that his back shimmied. He had stolen six neighbors’ newspapers and scattered them across our front lawn.”
“So, training him to get the newspaper was a success. He must have felt euphoric when he had retrieved the first paper and didn’t know when to stop,” I said.
“I had walked our court with barf streaked down my back and I pitched papers to the homes without them. Some neighbors may be surprised to find a journal on their lawn that they hadn’t ordered.”
” At least the dog seems ok, so we don’t have to take him to the vet. Since we never let him out alone, he shouldn’t be able to nab any more papers. I’m sorry that your day started at 4:30. On the bright side, the dog helped you relive your youth as a paperboy. But, next time wake me. ”
My brother-in-law, Sam, had made the mistake that has haunted him for decades. He divulged valuable information to the wrong people.
He told my boyfriend Bob, who is now my husband, and me that his mother mentioned that he looked like Burt Reynolds. She was right, he had Burt’s rustic look with dark hair, a mustache, and heavy eyebrows that framed his brown eyes. Regardless, we had set him up for humiliation.
Bob and I had spent months in a resort and knew many restaurant owners and bartenders. We had planned to meet Sam and my sister, Kathy, for appetizers in a bar that we frequented. We arrived first and asked the bartender to tell Sam, who would arrive shortly, that he looked like Burt Reynolds.
Sam and Kathy entered and sat down at the wooden bar beside us, and before they ordered, the bartender said, “You look just like Burt Reynolds.”
Sam rolled his eyes and smiled knowing that Bob and I loved to agitate. He said, “I see that you have been talking to my wacky sister-in-law and her boyfriend.” The bartender laughed. That was the beginning of Sam’s hell.
We left the bar ahead of Sam and Kathy and drove in heavy traffic to an outdoor-dockside restaurant where an acquaintance of ours, Charlie, sang island songs and strummed the guitar. On that humid July night, people packed the tables and bar. Bob and I had arrived and the hostess sat us at a recently vacated dockside table. When Charlie finished his set with Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty,” we approached and asked him to watch for my sister, a beautiful blond, and my brother-in-law, who resembled Burt Reynolds. “When you spot them, would you please announce that Burt Reynold’s has arrived?” Charlie laughed and agreed.
Ten minutes later, Kathy and Sam ambled around the corner to the deck. Charlie stopped abruptly in the middle of Jimmy Buffett’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” ending with “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” I had hoped that these wise words impacted Sam’s outlook on this night.
Charlie stood up from his stool and laid his guitar down and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our surprise guest Burt Reynolds and give him a big hand.”
Bob and I stood at our table and waved to Kathy and Sam. The sundress and polo shirt crowd cheered and clapped as Sam and Kathy skirted the tables heading our way. Sam shook his head and glared at me. When Sam and Kathy sat down, the three of us convulsed with laughter. Sam didn’t smile.
Meanwhile, John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever” blasted from a yacht motoring into the harbor. When the boat captain had tried to dock, he had skimmed a piling near our table with the yacht’s bow rail. We watched and heard the rail’s metal pieces click off one by one, like dominoes and splash in the water. We suspected that the captain was drunk. Lucky for us, no one cared about “Burt” anymore.
Sam didn’t divorce my sister over her family’s unusual sense of humor, and they are still married after forty-plus years.
That was the first of several stories about how we tortured our wonderful brother-in-law. Thank goodness he still has a sense of humor.
I changed the names to protect the innocent and guilty.
Whether you are at home or at the Maryland/Delaware beaches, information for 2017 Fourth of July fireworks and activities follow.
Delmarva and Maryland Fourth of July 2017 Fireworks
Maryland and Delmarva Fourth of July Activities
Enjoy your Fourth of July celebration.
When I learned about the Leonberger dogs’ loyalty to their owners and fondness for children, I convinced my husband that– it was not a bean-brained-paid boondoggle– it was worth flying to purchase a Leonberger puppy because none were available near us when our Labrador retriever passed. Anyway, we had sufficient airline points to pay for our flights.
I joined the Leonberger Club of America and found a breeder in Seattle, Washington, who had mated her female. Prospective buyers were often selected when the vet confirmed the bitch’s pregnancy. I submitted an application, and the breeder approved it, convinced that I would train the dog and not return him when he weighed 140 pounds.
The puppies were born, and the breeder picked mine based on temperament, knowing that I had two young children. Though some in the dog business ship puppies in cargo, I felt that it was cruel.
My daughter, who was nine, and I flew to Seattle to pick up our new family member the weekend that he turned eight weeks old; a pet can fly on a plane if it can fit in a pet bag under the seat in front of yours.
No one had told me how to fly with a dog. While I anticipated the adventure, “what if scenarios” revolved through my mind like a spinning top. I learned that traveling with a pet causes perspiration. Though we had flown out to Seattle with the Sherpa bag under the seat, I wondered what would happen if Fido was too tall or bulky to fit. Would they confiscate him and send him to cargo?
When we picked up our puppy from the breeder in our rental car, my daughter held him on her lap and spoke softly as she ran her hands through his coat. Separation anxiety caused him to yelp and yap during the forty-five-minute drive to the airport.
Though I paid his air fare, I worried that passengers might suffer from dog allergies or complain to the airline personnel about traveling with a pet in the cabin.
After passing through airport security, we took Fido to the restroom and filled his water bowl. He wouldn’t drink, and we headed to the gate that was two gates past our boarding zone, hoping to hide him. We placed his carrier on the floor, and high-pitched screeches erupted from within. I unzipped the top so that Fido could stick his head out. We slipped him ice cubes and puppy kibble from between our fingers; his teeth pricked our hands like tiny thorns. We hoped that food would distract him, and the breeder’s soft blanket, scented by his littermates, would soothe him.
He was asleep when they called our flight, and I had slung the bag over my shoulder and placed my hand over the black mesh end to prevent anyone from seeing the contraband. Only the airline staff knew I lugged invaluable loot. We boarded, and I slid the sack under the seat in front of us. When the plane departed, I took a deep breath and exhaled. I celebrated with a glass of wine.
The aroma of chicken and beef drifted through the cabin and Fido stirred. When the stewardess served our dinner, my daughter had taken her retainer out of her mouth and rolled it in a napkin placing it near her plate, After eating, the flight attendant removed the tray, and five minutes later, my daughter noticed that her retainer was missing. We jumped out of our seats and hurried forward to alert the attendant, who pawed through the trash with plastic-gloved hands and found it.
When we returned, I checked the pet bag and noticed that the zipper was open; Fido had crawled out of his prison. I heard the lady behind me say, ” Where did you come from cutie?” I knew where the fugitive had fled.
I rose and edged sideways out in the aisle, and I turned around and grinned at the woman behind us who had an escapee sprawled across her Nikes gnawing her shoestrings. She picked up the dog, petted him and handed him over. I apologized and returned to my seat. When I placed the absconder back in his bag, his soprano shrieks pierced the cabin. Sweat beaded my hairline. I wasn’t allowed to remove Fido, so I brushed my foot against the side of the canvas and hoped that I could calm the criminal.
The grey-bearded man who sat next to me crossed his arms over his potbelly and said, “I had no idea that you had a dog in there, what kind is it?”
I flashed a smile and said, ” He’s a Leonberger puppy.”
“Hamburger? Hamburger puppy? I eat those especially if they are noisy when I am trying to rest.”
I twirled my hair around my index finger and placed it behind my ear and said, “Sorry.”
The man leaned back and closed his eyes. A few rows behind, a baby screamed. I watched the hamburger-eating man open one eye and furrow his brow.
Though I had regretted disturbing everyone around us, I learned a valuable lesson on that flight: We had traveled six thousand miles in two days to discover that Fido didn’t fit. We changed his name to Harry as in Harry Houdini.
Though it sounds bazaar to fly cross-country to purchase a dog, I wouldn’t trade the two days that I had spent with my daughter exploring Seattle, or our decision to adopt Harry. He was great with children and became one of the best dogs that we have ever had.
Traveling With Pets
Puppy in the car for the first time
Take your puppy on short trips as soon as possible, and he will learn to love it. If your young dog has never ridden in the car, it’s not too late. Take him or her for rides with family members or friends. Ask them to offer treats and pet the dog ensuring that he has a good experience.
Dog Travel Gear
If your dog uses a crate, put it in the car and place familiar toys in it. His favorite toys offer more security in a strange environment than new ones.
Take a water bottle and treats.You may need to put some treats in the crate or car to encourage the dog to jump in.
Use Common Sense and Don’t Leave Pets in Hot Cars
Walk and water the dog before entering the car.
Blast the air conditioner ten minutes or so before you and your pet get in. If you have air-conditioning in the second and third rows, turn that on too.
If you are traveling alone, opt for drive-through restaurants. If you need a restroom, park in the shade, open the windows enough for air and safety. Don’t dawdle.
Never leave your dog in a hot car, even if it’s 70 degrees and you cracked the windows. Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine had discovered that a car’s temperature can rise 40 degrees quickly and become lethal.
For safety reasons teach basic commands like down, sit, stay, and come. If the dog stands while you are driving, he should respond to “down.” The dog should know “stay,” because when you open the car door or lift the hatch, the dog shouldn’t jump out until you hook the leash on his collar and he hears a command, like “ok.” If he jumps out before you attach the leash, and he doesn’t respond to “come,” offer him treats to get his attention. Learning these commands could save your dog’s life.
Warning: Dangerous Prong Collars, Slip Collars or Choke Collars
I never put my dog in the car or leave him alone wearing a prong collar or a choke collar, also called a slip collar. I only use them to control him during walks.
As a puppy, his slip-collar Loop became lodged between two deck boards. I heard whimpering and saw him jerk his head up and down trying to escape as the metal choke collar tightened, strangling him like a noose. I pried the collar over his head while my husband raced for the wire cutters. Consequently, I will never leave him unattended wearing one of those collars. He wears a buckle collar at home and in the car. When driving with him, I keep the prong collar in the front seat.
I hope these tips help ensure a happy and safe trip with your pet.
Father’s Day Gift Idea
My husband received a commercial style juicer as a gift a few years ago. It’s one of our favorite kitchen items and would make a unique Father’s Day gift. We use it to squeeze fresh oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. You can juice a citrus fruit in seconds, and it’s easy to clean with two removable parts that are dishwasher safe.
During our summer parties, we often serve orange and grapefruit crushes because the sweet tang tastes refreshing. Below are the recipes that I follow.
Orange Crush Recipe
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, I prefer Valencia juice oranges, but I use what is available.
1-2 ounces of Smirnoff Orange or Grey Goose l’Orange vodka
1 splash Triple Sec
1 splash soda water
Serve over ice.
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1-2 ounces Smirnoff Ruby Red Grapefruit vodka
1 splash Triple Sec
1 splash soda water
Serve over ice.
The commercial citrus juicer is a gift for the woman or man who has everything and enjoys entertaining.
Health Benefits of Ocean Air
According to studies by the Lung Institute, breathing salt air can improve lung function lessening the need for antibiotics. It thins mucus, eases sinus pressure, reduces coughing, and the risk of asthma attacks.
The sea air’s “negatively charged hydrogen ions” promote oxygen absorption improving mood, energy, creativity, and sleep.
Health Benefits of Ocean Saltwater
Floating in the ocean increases blood flow throughout our body and drives oxygen to the brain making us attentive and energized.
The sea’s magnesium moisturizes our skin, and the antibacterial properties improve ailments such as eczema and psoriasis. According to sources, the ocean boosts our immunity and helps us sleep.
Swimming in cold water releases hormones that elevate our spirit and energy levels and reduce inflammation. In addition to burning calories, a regular cold water dip can release dopamine and upgrade our physical condition.
Warm sea water opens our pores enabling us to detoxify and absorb the ocean’s elements. In places where we see the ocean in shades of blue, it calms some but energizes others.
Increased Physical Activity
Seaside living is conducive to activities like tennis, golfing, running, biking, swimming, surfing, exploring, and walking. Exercise strengthens our bodies and reduces health risks like obesity, some cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and depression, helping us live longer.
Our bodies produce vitamin D from the sun’s UVB rays. Its anti-inflammatory properties may prevent cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, and elevate our disposition. By spending ten to thirty minutes in the sun per day, we can improve our wellbeing. Daily exposure enables the body to store up to 60 days of the vitamin that we lack during northern winters. Darker or sunscreen-coated skin may need longer exposure to realize the rewards.
If you are visiting a seaside resort, you should have your choice of high-protein-low-fat-fresh seafood along with fresh fruits and vegetables for healthy dining.
Years ago, an acquaintance said that he had moved seaside because it was his wife’s “power zone.” They knew that inhaling the oxygen-rich-salt air and wading in the lilting waves was a distraction from worries and elevated their wellness and demeanor.
To enjoy some of the perks at home, rub Epsom salts on your skin to Polish or exfoliate, then add about two cups to a hot bath and soak for 20 minutes to detoxify and enjoy the advantages of magnesium.
The Town of Fenwick Island, Delaware
There are two Fenwick Islands, incorporated and unincorporated. The Town of Fenwick Island that stretches from Atlantic to Lewes streets on the ocean side, and Delaware to James streets on the bay side was incorporated in 1953. Incorporated Fenwick has its own government that restricts zoning for a uniform appearance. The rest of Fenwick is unincorporated and follows Sussex county rules.
Incorporated Fenwick Island Tips and Tricks
- You can walk or bike to restaurants like Nantuckets, Just Hooked, Our Harvest, or Dairy Queen, or shops like The Country Store. You may not need your car for days.
- The Town of Fenwick Island is committed to maintaining their reputation as a quiet resort where police are visible and vigilant. Therefore, it’s a good idea to follow the rules and obey the speed limit.
- The authorities enforce parking restrictions from May 15 to September 15, and the police station sells daily to seasonal parking passes.
Fenwick Island Beach
- Except for storm beach erosion, there is no need to stake your space on the beach at 7 a.m. Though Fenwick Island is busiest around the Fourth of July, crowds begin to dissipate in July and August as fall sports’ practices begin and students leave for school.
- Lifeguards protect Fenwick Island’s one-mile beach, and they have access to two beach wheelchairs.
- Mobi-mats cover dune walkways allowing easy navigation or use of beach wheelchairs.
Fenwick Island is Family Oriented
- Smoking is prohibited on the beach and in the parks.
- The town caters to families providing playgrounds, shuffleboard, half-court basketball, volleyball, and benches in a garden setting.
Fenwick Island Upcoming Events
- On 7/8/17, on the beach at Dagsboro Street, all are welcome to attend the town bonfire that includes music, games, a silent auction, t-shirts and more.
- At dusk on the Bayard Street beach, the town will feature the following Fenwick Flicks: Moana on July 11, Zootopia on July 25, and Finding Dory on August 8.
For more fun, check out the Fenwick Boardwalk, and enjoy your summer.
A List of Interesting Facts About The Breakers, Palm Beach
Henry Morrison Flagler opened The Breakers in 1896, and his heirs still own and run the hotel.
The Breakers Had Burned Down Twice
The Breakers, formerly the Palm Beach Inn until 1901, burned down in 1903 and 1925. The first fire ignited during renovations to expand the building, and the second fire originated in a room where a curling iron was supposedly left on by the Chicago Mayor’s wife.
The architects of the Waldorf Astoria in New York also designed The Breakers that opened in 1926, that we know today. They based their plan on Villa Medici in Rome.
In the early 1900’s, guests included the Rockefeller’s, J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and the Vanderbilts to name a few. Today, presidents, nobility, businessmen, politicians, and movie stars still visit the world-renowned hotel.
While dining or sipping cocktails at the oceanfront Seafood Bar, unsuspecting patrons may flinch when they get the Impression of something sliding under their plate or wiggling beneath their drink. The bar is a saltwater aquarium that contains marine life including fish, eels, sponges, coral and more.
The Breakers is detail oriented:
- In the Palm Courtyard, orchids are attached to the trunks of palm trees and appear to grow from the bark.
- Crystal chandeliers hang in the lobby as well as the hallways.
- The receptionists and concierge wear Lilly Pulitzer making a tropical Impression.
- Fresh flowers adorn the hotel rooms.
- Flowers grow and bloom on The Breakers’ seawall.
More Interesting Facts
In 2009, a trapper stole Amazon parrot chicks from The Breakers resort. When he failed to sell them to a pet store, he abandoned the unharmed chicks at the store, and the owner called the authorities.
The Egyptian Goose is a combination of duck and goose. Many of them live on the Breakers’ property.
The Breakers accommodates children with a family pool, camps, and a Family Entertainment Center. Also, the staff keeps a supply of stuffed animals at the lobby entrance.
Hotel activities including visiting the spa, tennis, golf, nature walks, biking, fitness, water sports, shopping, dining and more. Visit their website for the latest offers.
Black-Eyed Susan Day celebrates Maryland’s state flower and falls on the day before Preakness. Though less crowded, less dressy, and more relaxed than Preakness, the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is the second most popular race run at Pimlico in Baltimore, Maryland.
Three-year-old fillies run 1 1/8 miles contending for the filly Triple Crown. Abel Tasman won the 2017 first jewel in the Kentucky Oaks Stakes at Churchill Downs. The Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is the 11th race today, and Belmont Park hosts the final race, the Acorn Stakes.
The famous Pimlico Black-Eyed Susan drink recipe follows:
1 part Makers Mark Bourbon
1 part DeKuyper Peachtree
1 part Effen Vodka
2 parts Orange Juice
2 parts Sour Mix
Shake with ice and strain in a Preakness glass over fresh crushed ice. Garnish with an orange and cherry.
If you aren’t fighting the Preakness crowds, you can watch the race at home and enjoy a Black-Eyed Susan.
Those killed during the invasion of Normandy and subsequent battles rest at Normandy American Cemetery in France. Ten formerly temporary graveyards formed this burial ground. The chartreuse grass is weedless and meticulous. The soldiers are painstakingly buried directly below their markers that face west toward the United States. Their white marble headstones total 9,387: 9,238 Latin crosses and 149 Stars of David. The headstones do not have birth dates, just death dates making them timeless. The cemetery stretches 172.5 acres overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel where casualties totaled about 2,400 US troops.
The allied forces began their D-Day Normandy invasion by air and sea on June 6, 1944, and their success marked the beginning of the war’s end. They used deceptive radio intelligence to steer the Germans away from Normandy to Calais, that was farther north. Under Gen. George Patton’s guidance, film studios constructed fake barracks and tents, landing crafts, imitation tanks and trucks, and placed them in Dover, that was across The Channel from Calais. The attack location was believable because Calais and Dover were on opposite banks of the narrowest part of the waterway. To further confuse the Germans, the Allies dropped simulated airborne dummies with artillery recordings and bombs attached to them in locations far from Normandy.
On D-Day, poor weather conditions and high seas caught the Germans off guard. They assumed that the Allies would wait for improved conditions before invading. Some German officers believed that the Normandy invasion was a ruse to distract them from Calais, and ignored it. Others continued their parties with the locals. Also, German Field Marshall Rommel was away with his wife.
Strong tides caused allied ships to drift from their targeted landing position. When troops arrived on the beach in heavy wet clothes and laden with ammunition and supplies, they faced German artillery and weaponry, some fired from bunkers. The Allies navigated metal beach obstructions, ditches, hedgerows, mines and scaled high precipices. If they saw livestock grazing in open fields, soldiers knew that the area was free of explosives.
Before dropping the paratroopers, pilots faced thick clouds, and many airborne missed their targets finding themselves navigating the terrain alone. The soldiers, loaded with ammunition and supplies, sprained muscles or broke their bones on impact. Others were shot down by Germans, drowned, perished in fire from bombs, or trees and poles caught their chutes. Paratrooper John Steele is remembered today for landing on the steeple at Sainte Mere Eglise church. The Germans captured him, and he escaped. This chart lists the fatalities, casualties and missing for the US Airborne in the Cotentin Peninsula.
On D-Day, the Allies landed 160,000 troops including 73,000 Americans. The Allies endured 10,000 casualties. During the entire campaign, from June 6, 1944, to August 21, 1944, the two million allied troops in Northern France sustained more than 226,386 casualties: 72,911 were missing or killed, and 153,475 wounded. The German’s suffered 240,000 injuries and deaths, and 200,000 were apprehended.
In the Normandy cemetery, the Walls of the Missing list 1,557 names. Among those are 750 Americans killed on 12/24/44, when a German submarine torpedoed the S.S. Leopoldville killing both Americans and British.
Interred in the cemetery, officers and the enlisted lie next to one another with no exception for rank. Thirty-three of 45 sets of brothers, and a father and son lay side by side. Others interred include three Medal of Honor recipients, 307 unknown soldiers, Preston and Robert Niland who inspired Saving Private Ryan, and two sons of President Theodore Roosevelt.
All who suffered and died for our freedom were exceptional. Please honor our fallen soldiers by respecting our American flag.
In response to word prompt: Pink
When we walked the streets of Bayeux, France, we happened upon the light and sound show at the cathedral entitled “RENDEZ-VOUS À LA CATHÉDRALE, LES LUMIÈRES DE LA LIBERTÉ.”
As we listened to ten stories celebrating France’s journey to freedom and liberty, colors painted the “Tree of Liberty” and the Bayeux Cathedral in iridescent hues of red, pink, purple, green, blue, white, orange and gold.
In the French language, these stories commemorated the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, the Allied landings, the freedom of the press, the freedom to love,” and more.
The show was a pleasant addition to our Normandy trip. This year’s light show runs from 7/11/17 to 8/26/17.
We had a five-hour Southwest flight delay
We had arrived at the airport at 2:30 for a 3:50 flight. Inclement weather resulted in several flight delays. Over five hours, we checked the tracker for our Southwest Airlines flight status. On each occasion, our departure time increased by an hour, though we watched passengers board their delayed flights and take off.
The Southwest agent explained that the passengers from the original destination were aboard our plane and it was on the runway, but she couldn’t give me more information until they were in the air.
Two hours later, after I saw the departure time increase again, I asked the representative if the passengers were still on board. She said that they had deplaned because of a mechanical problem. I later learned that when they reboarded the flight a passenger was missing and they had to take roll call.
As the evening progressed, passengers spoke loudly on their phones, others read books, some slouched in chairs, one played his guitar, some tried to sleep, and others walked the terminal. I empathized with the parents who pursued their toddlers who ran the aisles.
As businesses closed, the noise grew. Employees yelled to their coworkers. The maintenance crew slammed doors. Others rolled plastic dumpsters the length of the terminal dumping trash in them, and the restroom cleaners pushed their yellow rattling carts.
Some, who I assumed were on break, sat behind the vacant gate desk and blared music. People who were reading moved. Eventually, they lowered the Starbucks’ gate closing off half the café.
Around 7:30, when Southwest announced that our plane had taken off, we knew that we were going home. Customers headed to the pizzeria and ordered thin crust pizza, beer, wine, and tall alcoholic drinks. The bar echoed with music and chatter.
When the plane arrived, the incoming passengers looked exhausted but walked briskly, probably relieved that they were finally at their destination. When it was our turn, we boarded efficiently, took off at 8:50, and arrived as scheduled at 10:50 p.m.
Another twenty-minute delay because the jetway employees were not available
Travelers hunched under the overhead bins, some stood in the aisles ready to grab their carry-on bags and exit. The captain announced that he had called ahead, but no one was on the jetway to meet us, so we waited.
No one was there to remove baggage from two arriving flights
Finally, we left the plane and luckily we had not checked any bags. As we pulled our suitcases through baggage claim, we heard a report: the baggage crew had not removed the luggage from two flights. We suspected that the passengers who checked their bags probably had at least another half-hour delay.
Southwest offered the passengers $100 vouchers to account for bad weather, roll call, a mechanical problem, an empty jetway and delayed baggage. We thought that they could have done better.
My daughter and I exercised then split a Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate topped with whipped cream. What could have been better than chocolate and family?
Located in New York City and Boca Raton, Florida, Serendipity restaurants offer a full menu, but their “Frrrozen Hot Chocolate is their specialty. Unlike a chocolate milkshake, the cocoa delivers a dark, rich flavor and ice provides refreshment. I like this recipe because other variations include ice cream.
Unexpectedly, we felt rejuvenated after indulging and that allowed us to skip a heavy dinner. Was it serendipity?
Daily Post Prompt: Better
When I was in my twenties, I had a ninety-pound Labrador retriever, Bob, who, on quick trips, rode in the passenger seat of my MGB convertible. With the top down, we went to the post office. The lot was packed, and when a car backed out from a front space, I zipped in, happy that I could watch Bob from inside the building. While I waited in line, I shifted my weight and my heart raced when I saw a man standing next to the driver’s side of my car. Did he hit my car? Did Bob bark at him? Would he try to steal my dog?
I continuously glanced over my shoulder at the man while the clerk waited on me, and I felt relieved when we were done. I gathered my belongings and hurried outside noting the cars lined up out to the street waiting to park. When I approached my car, I saw that Bob was sitting behind the wheel. I suspected that he was attempting to imitate the alpha, but I knew that he couldn’t drive a stick shift. The gray-haired man, with his arms folded over his chest, watched me walk toward them.
I smiled hoping to disarm the man, literally. He said, ” I had to meet the driver of this car.”
” Oops, did I take too long?”
“I had been waiting for a parking spot for over ten minutes.” Was he judging me?
“I saw the back of this person’s head hoping that he would start the car and pull out. I thought that he was rude dawdling on a jammed lot. I blared my horn.” Here it comes, I thought.
“The horn’s blast must have startled your dog. A big brown head snapped around, and he stared at me. I never imagined that I was waiting for an animal to move the car. I had to laugh that I blew my horn at a retriever.”
He extended his weathered hand, and I shook it. We laughed and I thanked him for waiting to tell me the story. I smiled on the way home, but I drove, good try Bob.
The Leonberger originated in the 1800s when the alderman of Leonberg, Germany, bred a Landseer Newfoundland with a St. Bernard and mated later generations with the Great Pyrenees. Sources say that the alderman wanted a dog that resembled the lion on the Leonberg crest.
The Leonberger was considered a “Rare Breed’ until recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2010. If you are interested in more information about AKC breeders of merit, please contact the Leonberger Club of America.
Leonberger enthusiasts, trainers, owners, and breeders had traveled hundreds of miles to attend the 2017 Leonberger Club of America National Specialty, Old Bay Leos. We spotted dozens of these dogs, some well over 140 pounds, at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Baltimore Hunt Valley. Their black-masked expressions and flowing coats created a stunning spectacle. Both adults and children showed these “gentle giants.”
Cantina 76 Restaurant Review Article
A group of friends from Columbia with a love for travel and food established Cantina 76 in Columbia, South Carolina. Currently, the restaurant has three locations, two in Columbia and one in Greenville.
Inside, customers can watch TV and dine at the high top and low top tables or sit at the bar. Small lights string around the perimeter; and stars and metal lights hang from the ceiling creating an uncontrived atmosphere. Outside, pansies flow from hanging baskets, and tables flank the restaurant on two sides. Though the tables are under a metal awning, customers can still enjoy the sun. Cantina 76 has a come-as-you-are atmosphere. Casual to dressy attire is acceptable.
Cantina 76 features signature margaritas, tacos, enchiladas, salads and more. They tout an atmosphere where customers can relax and dine on Mexican-influenced cuisine made with fresh ingredients. They pitch premium tequila and creative margaritas. The Cantina 76 menu offers a variety of soft tacos on flour tortillas, but hard corn tacos are also available. Chicken Pesto, Teriyaki Chicken, Peruvian Shrimp, Barbecue Brisket, and Fish are a sampling of their 12 taco creations. In addition, they offer weekly specials.
We sat outside where dogs lay under their owners’ tables, and we began with Tres Hombres Sampler. We dipped crispy salted tortilla chips in queso, salsa, and guacamole. The warm queso’s mild cheese tasted rich and creamy, and a touch of minced green pepper gave it a slight crunch and sweetness. The salsa had a tangy kick with a hint of lime. Small pieces of avocado, onion, tomato and garlic added flavor and interest to the guacamole. It was a great start.
I tried the Barbecue Shrimp Taco. Sautéed onions and feta accompanied perfectly seared shrimp topped with a Chipotle barbecue sauce. The sweet, spicy sauce and the feta’s saltiness added a welcoming punch.
The Barbecue Brisket Taco sweetened with honey barbecue tasted down-home. Pico de gallo lightened the sauce and balanced the sweetness. We loved it.
The Traditional Taco included chili-spiced-ground beef, melted cheese, lettuce, and tomato. There was no sauce. The ground beef tasted lean, and the taco was ordinary.
Everything was fresh and the tacos were not overstuffed which made them easy to handle and not too filling.
Instead of dessert, I tried the Cantina Margarita. Salt rimmed the glass that contained tequila, plenty of fresh lime juice, low-sugar-agave nectar, and a quartered-half lime. Agave nectar blended with lime tasted sweet and refreshing.
I would recommend Cantina 76 because they offer quality food and selection at reasonable prices.
Location: 1301 Main St., Columbia
Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Monday – Wednesday; 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Thursday – Saturday; closed Sunday; no reservations
Cost: Tacos start at $2.99.
Info: 803-543-3279 http://www.cantina76.com
Open seating for Southwest Airlines
Seat assignments are not part of Southwest Airlines’ procedure; instead, passengers select their own seats based on their boarding position. Southwest uses A-C and 1-60+ to determine the commuter pecking order. The person with A 1 boards first and C 60+ enters last. Group A passengers select the best seats and have access to empty overhead bins. Often, Southwest bases this A status on cost.
“Wanna Get Away,” “Anytime,” and “Business Select” fare comparison
This chart compares the three fares for a random booking from Philadelphia to Atlanta. The lowest, “Wanna Get Away,” is nonrefundable, but per eligibility, credit may be issued toward a future reservation. However, Wanna Get Away may cost hundreds less that the “Anytime,” fare. “Business Select” is the priciest but guarantees priority emplaning with the A 1 – A 15 group.
Five Southwest money-saving tips and travel tricks
- Within 24 hours before departure, Southwest passengers can conveniently check in online with the Southwest mobile app or on their computer; or they can pay $15 for EarlyBird Check-In, and the airline assigns boarding groups 36 hours before departure. With Earlybird, if the traveler pays a higher fare, Southwest gives that passenger a higher boarding status.
- EarlyBird Check-In does not guarantee an “A” boarding zone. I purchased EarlyBird and received group B. Unknowingly, my husband’s administrator checked me in 24 hours before departure, and I received an A. Therefore, you may get a better seat if you check yourself in.
- To maximize boarding priority while saving money, purchase the ticket at the lowest price, and pay $30-$40 to upgrade to an “A” position at the gate. I was flying on a packed flight, and I had group B boarding assignment. I upgraded at the gate to A 6. They apparently save A positions hoping to sell them at the last minute. Unfortunately, if the flight is filled, you may not be able to change your standing.
- Southwest doesn’t charge fees to change your flight, like their competition.
- Sign up for Click ‘N Save to receive emails for the latest Southwest travel deals for flights, hotels, car rentals, and vacation packages.
I hope that these money-saving tips improve your travel experience.
Related Posts and Sites:
For a Florida trip, I made my first mistake by not taking my own travel tricks and tips advice. I had packed a large suitcase instead of the size accepted onboard airlines. I was flying alone on Southwest, and I wanted to avoid asking for help lifting my carry-on to the overhead bin. Instead, I checked my medium bag that was loaded with books, shoes, and clothes.
When I tried to check my luggage curbside, the baggage handler weighed it and said that it was two pounds over the 50-pound limit, and I had two options: I could open my suitcase on the sidewalk and let the travelers waiting in line view my underwear collection or pay $75.
“What are two pounds?”
“A pair of jeans.”
I had set my bag near the curb and unzipped it while everyone watched the “Dorothyadele Victoria’s Secret Show.” I was happy that my husband wasn’t there to glare, then roll his eyes and ask if I had ever traveled or packed a bag before.
Luckily, my suitcase was not a merged mess when I had unzipped the left compartment and pulled out my camera, makeup bag, and books.
I unzipped the other side where I had my Nike running shoes wedged. In front of my audience, I pulled out a shoe and twirled it in my fingers testing its weight. I decided that it was too light and shoved it back in and zipped my case.
When I returned to the attendant, he asked if I had removed some items. I lifted my bulging beach bag as proof. Without weighing it, he accepted my suitcase, and I wondered if removing the books would have been enough.
I headed inside the terminal lugging my tote that contained an iPad, an iPhone, a writing journal, socks, a purse, sunglasses, a book, and the articles that I had pulled out of my suitcase. I was happy that I didn’t have that black and white Nike waving out the top.
When I approached the unsmiling TSA PreCheck agent and presented my boarding pass, she smirked, grabbed it, and said, “This is a mobile boarding pass, get back in line over there and get the correct one. You have time.” I felt like she resented that I had skipped the long line as a TSA PreCheck traveler.
“What about the boarding pass on my phone?”
“You can use that, but step out of line… honey.”
I scanned through my emails looking for the Southwest boarding pass confirmation. I found it, and I sweated and wondered if she would reject it. I stepped up and presented it to her. She scanned it, and to me, it looked exactly like the one that she had confiscated two minutes before. I proceeded through security and made another mistake.
At Subway, I ordered a breakfast sandwich. When I had set my bag on the counter to pay, I knocked the metal coffee-creamer receptacle off. It bounced and clanged on the tile floor. The other customers and I watched the empty creamers roll around. The clerk didn’t seem to trust me to pick them up; he quickly gathered them and placed the creamers back in the container out of my reach. Since I delayed everyone, I apologized and paid my bill.
I boarded my flight and sat in front of a screaming baby for 2 1/2 hours whom I heard regurgitate. Though I felt sorry for the child, I smiled when I thought about my morning mishaps.
My husband had joined me on vacation and we flew together on the return flight. When we had packed, I had placed several of my items in his small suitcase to avoid an overweight bag, hoping to dodge another Dorothyadele Airport Trunk Show.
As we waited in the airport baggage line, I watched the lady in front of me hoist her bag on the scale and tip it at 65 pounds. She left the line and rearranged her contents between two suitcases. We approached the handler and my husband, the gentlemen, pulled my bag, though he told the agent that he had my luggage, not his. I held my breath when the clerk heaved my bag on the scale and I watched it hit 50.5 pounds. He waved us through.
In addition to our standard tips, we paid an extra $15 to the Hertz bus driver and the hotel valet just to lift my bag. Consequently one of the best money-saving-travel tips is to pack light.
Years ago, while I was taking a boat from Terre-de-Haut Island, Iles des Saintes, to Guadeloupe, I was horrified when midway, the captain dumped plastic garbage bags overboard. Though it was legal, I thought about the ramifications for sea life.
Today, when I walk the beach, I pick up trash that visitors leave behind. I believe that vacationers don’t realize that a plastic cup, child’s shovel, or deflated balloons cause ocean pollution and a possible agonizing death or illness for seabirds and sea animals like this gentle manatee.
I am posting these photos hoping that this mammal will inspire travelers to keep their beaches, oceans, waterways, etc. clean. Happy travels.
The following are some of my best tips and a few tricks for a better travel experience.
Cost Saving Ideas for Hotel Stays
- Check hotel websites like trivago.com for the best deals. During the off-season, I had booked a room at the Waldorf Astoria and used a site that compared hotel rates. We received a deep discount on a room that was two doors from The Elizabeth Taylor Suite. I checked my bill to ensure that my confirmed price was correct.
- After reviewing the online prices, call the hotel and ask for their best deal.
- If you are a repeat guest, tell the person making your reservation. They usually try to accommodate returning customers.
- American Express Fine Hotel and Resorts Program offers a daily $100 credit and breakfast for two; and when available: early check-in, late checkout, and free upgrades. Sometimes these benefits offset a higher room rate. Call in advance and check the upgrade possibilities, and book at the lower rate.
- Instead of eating breakfast in the hotel, ask the concierge for a reputable local diner. In addition to leaving your hotel room early, you will likely get a better value and a good meal.
- Take your drink of choice to your hotel room instead of using the bar or room service.
The Convenience of Renting Condominiums, Apartments, or Villas
- If traveling with more than three people, it is usually more economical to rent a condo or an apartment than book a hotel suite or two separate rooms. Also, the ability to refrigerate food is a plus.
- Ensure that your rental has a washer and dryer and pack light.
- Try to meet the owner. We had a situation where we had to leave a prepaid rental early. The owner worked with us so that we could use our missed days later. As a result, we are loyal customers.
Last Minute Travel Bargains
- Sometimes, we make last-minute travel decisions, and we have found great deals. For example, I had reserved a place two weeks before a trip during high season that would have been out of our price range. Though I was looking for a condo, the online agent found an available house and the owner reduced the price considerably to make sure that we took it.
- Two days before another trip, while I considered two apartments from different agencies, the condominium manager gave us a $1,000 discount to close the sale.
- I also had booked airline flights days before travel and received a better rate than my husband who booked the same trip a month in advance. However, there is no guarantee.
Dining/Theater Reservation Tricks
- If you are unable to reserve theater seats or another venue, ask American Express travel to check availability. We have made reservations that were presumably sold out.
Traveling and Flying With Children
- If you are flying with a toddler, buy a bag of Dollar Store items that he/she can open on the plane. This trick has helped avoid stress for us and anyone nearby.
- Travel with your kids, even if they are adults, because they urge you to try new activities, and family time is invaluable.
Preparation: Start to finish: 3 hours 45 minutes (45minutes active)
I love eggplant parmesan, but I don’t fry it in high-fat olive oil. To make a lighter, healthy eggplant parmesan recipe, I combined the two recipes below to create an easy baked version for the slow cooker. My husband loved it.
My Crock-Pot is 6 quarts so you may need to adapt your recipe for a smaller size. Also, when a recipe calls for marinara or spaghetti sauce, I usually triple the amount and use most of it, and freeze the remainder.
Prepare the eggplant by slicing it in 1-inch rings and salt on both sides placing it on paper towels for 15-30 minutes to draw out moisture and bitterness. Then rinse in a colander.
I used the following marinara sauce recipe, or you can buy premade.
Marinara sauce recipe (7 1/2 cups)
Two 28 oz. tomatoes crushed or chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 medium onion chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
pinch of sugar
pepper flakes to taste
Cook onions and garlic in olive oil until soft, for about five minutes, add tomatoes and seasonings and simmer for 20 minutes.
2 large eggplant sliced and prepared as above
2 eggs whisked and add a few tablespoons of water, to extend the eggs if necessary
2-4 cups Italian breadcrumbs, depending on eggplant size, I start with 2 cups and add more as needed
12 oz. grated-reduced-fat mozzarella
½ cup grated parmesan
Dip eggplant in eggs then Italian bread crumbs. Line baking sheets with eggplant. Bake for 12 minutes in a preheated 350 F oven, turning after 6 minutes or until browned.
Layer sauce, eggplant, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses three times. On final layer top with sauce. Cook on high in slow cooker for 3-4 hours or 6-8 on low.
The eggplant tastes lighter than the fried version and the tomato flavor is more intense. I would love to know your thoughts. If you enjoy my “skinny” recipe, please click “like.”
I was naïve the first time that I had shopped on Canal Street in Manhattan. I wasn’t aware that children, sometimes chained, made counterfeit purses in China and were paid a pittance. I also didn’t know that I would mingle with purse thieves, pickpockets, con men, con women, gang members, human traffickers, and counterfeiters wanted by Homeland Security.
Canal Street whirled with activity the day my daughter and I shopped for a faux-designer purse for her. Shoppers ducked in and out of stores haggling over prices for counterfeit designer merchandise: watches, bags, sunglasses, perfume, electronic equipment, jewelry, clothing and more. Everyone wanted a deal.
Two women stood in front of a merchandise-packed store and whispered to us, “Gucci, Gucci, Prada?” Why were they whispering? Were the police around?
My daughter said, “Coach.”
The women whisked us through the store between shabby curtains and down dirty basement steps. Gucci, Prada, Coach, Hermes, Channel, Louis Vuitton were a sampling of their counterfeit wares that loaded the room. Many of these bags sold on Canal Street for under $100, but if the bags were genuine, they would retail in the hundreds and some in the thousands. Luckily, my daughter couldn’t find what she wanted, and we left.
As we headed down the street, another vendor hustled us. I heard, “Channel? Loui Vuitton?”
My daughter said “Coach.”
The woman said, “Follow me.”
She walked ahead of us for several blocks while talking on a walkie-talkie and approached a man and told us to follow him. We walked a few blocks, and he handed us off to another man. We followed him for several blocks, and he turned down an alley. I was concerned that they didn’t want us to recognize them, but now I was worried. I tried to get my daughter’s attention who was right on the man’s heels and didn’t seem to think twice about following him down an alley.
He approached a blue van, opened the hatch, and before I knew it, my daughter had climbed in the back. I imagined someone slamming the door, and the van taking off. I believe that I would’ve been too stunned to get the tag number.
Suppose they trafficked her?
“Get out of there now!” I said.
She reluctantly left the van. A man who had watched this scene approached and said that he was worried when he saw my daughter enter the truck because he knew that the police were surveilling the street for gangs who controlled the counterfeit, drug and human trafficking markets.
How does counterfeiting work?
Alice Hines in the Village Voice wrote about a 2012 case when a group of criminals purchased legitimate designer goods and shipped them to China. Months later, counterfeit designer boots, purses, and coats arrived in the U.S.
Mills in China manufacture bags for less than $2 each and they sell them to distributors for $10 – $30. They ship them to the U.S. hidden among other merchandise, or they mislabel them. Street vendors sell them for $50 – $100 per item. Most vendors are impoverished, and some are homeless. They sell their wares on the streets from trash bags, suitcases, cars or vans, or from stores or warehouses. The higher-tier criminals can make millions.
Why Don’t They Arrest Them?
If caught, street vendors are arrested and fined, though they could get a year in prison, they often return to the streets. The maximum jail term is four years for counterfeit possession valued at $1,000 or more, and 15 years for $100,000. Also, it is not illegal for the customers to buy fakes.
Fake designer perfume seems to be the riskiest item for consumers because bottles may contain chemicals like antifreeze. In spring 2016, Homeland Security confiscated a shipment headed to retailers and online sites.
The best bet is to buy your merchandise from a reputable dealer or do without. That’s my plan.
Below are the links that I used for my article:
The most frightening trip I have ever experienced was driving through Hatillo, Puerto Rico on December 28, 2008.
Our family flew to San Juan and rented an SUV for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Rincon. The trip took us 4 1/2 hours, and one of those hours was the most frightening in my life.
We began our trip cruising west along the north shore, as we caught glimpses of the lapis Atlantic Ocean through the windows of our green Ford Explorer, our excitement increased.
When we approached the seaside town Hatillo, we hit traffic congestion and a confusion of color, and cacophony pierced our eyes and ears. Sirens screamed, horns blared, and men garbed in garish, fluorescent clothing and bizarre, grotesque masks guzzled liquor and beer while riding in the back of colorfully painted trucks and parade floats.
As we entered Hatillo we were in gridlock and the town was bedlam, with groups of men staggering in the streets swilling alcohol. We closed our windows, locked our doors, and peered at the insanity. Unfortunately, we became their target.
We feared for our safety
Men swarmed our SUV, shook it, and shot it with Silly String. I hoped that they wouldn’t overturn it. Metal boomed, as they pounded their fists on the hood, roof and windows, and I wondered if the glass would shatter. Police, who were outnumbered probably 100 to 1, ignored the pandemonium, and we knew if the crowd became violent, we were in trouble. I was mostly worried about the children in the back seat, who ranged from 9 to 15 years old.
Our jeep creeped at about 2 mph for about an hour, and we cringed and gaped as some of the men became falling-down drunk.
Eventually, we spotted a cross street about four blocks ahead. Without coaxing, my husband drove over the curb, and on the sidewalk, and we passed the gridlocked cars. When we turned on the open street and accelerated, we high-fived and laughed from relief.
Mascaras de Hatillo or Hatillo Mask Festival
We learned that the locals were celebrating the Hatillo Mask Festival or Mascaras de Hatillo. It appeared to me, that for some, it was an excuse to get drunk and terrorize anyone caught in the gridlock, though the festival is legitimate.
It commemorates when King Herod ordered soldiers to kill little children after Jesus was born to prevent Jesus from becoming king. The gaudily clad men represented these soldiers.
Cross Street Market in Federal Hill, Baltimore, Md attracts a polo-shirt-crowd that mixes with the blue-collar locals. It’s a fun place to eat and enjoy a glass of wine or a beer and absorb Baltimore culture. There are a variety of food options from homemade soup, fried seafood (including Baltimore crabcakes), sushi, raw oysters, steamed clams, shrimp, and mussels; chicken, fries and more.
Also, customers can shop for fresh vegetables, produce, meats, seafood, and chicken, or purchase prepared food to take home.
Businesses will remain open when Cross Street undergoes renovations in the fall.