Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Weekend Away . . . Nice!

This weekend's virtual jaunt will take us to a beautiful city on the coast of France - Nice.  Located on the French Riviera, it has a pleasing climate, beautiful beaches and many other attractions.

(Photo courtesy of

During these frigid days, it would be nice (no pun intended!) to visit a warm destination and enjoy the Mediterranean breezes.   For my accommodations I think I will stay at the Le Meridien Nice, located near the harbor on Promenade des Anglais.  It's location is perfect, and it has a beautiful rooftoop swimming pool from which the entire beach and harbor area can been seen.

One of the things that I would love to do in Nice would be to visit the outdoor market (the Marche aux Fleurs), which features produce, flowers and local products.  When I am finished with my shopping, I would take a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais, which runs alongside the Baie des Anges which is Nice's harbor (translation:  Bay of Angels).

In the evening, dinner will be at La Petite Maison, a restaurant near the harbor, located at 11 Rue Saint Fran├žois de Paule.  Although there are many delicious choices on the menu, for an appetizer I would choose the seven flavors of the sea, which include salmon, shrimp, calamari and tuna, and the Cote de Boeuf for an entree.

Before retiring back to the Meredien, I think a stop at the Bar Des Oiseaux on Rue St. Vincent, one of the great nights spots in Nice.  Located in the Old Town section of the City, it seems like a great place to listen to some jazz, enjoy a glass of Merlot and think about my next virtual destination.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Weekend Away . . . Bermuda!

Travel is one of my passions; unfortunately, due to family commitments, job schedules and the trying economy, it is not something that I get to do every weekend. So I decided that I am going to "armchair" travel on the weekends - pick a destination, decide what accommodations I am going to stay at, the restaurants I am going to eat at, and plan my activities for the weekend! Hopefully, someday I will be able to look back and use these entries for actual weekend trips!

(Map courtesy of

My first "dream" destination is going to be Bermuda. One of my favorite places, Bermuda holds many fond memories for me as I spent my 21st birthday there, celebrating Christmas with most of my family.

Where to Stay:  The Mandarin Oriental (formerly the Elbow Beach Hotel). One of the most beautiful properties on the island, it has a private beach, ocean view rooms, cottages, and wonderful restaurants. My room of choice will be the Premier Ocean View Room, so I can sit on my balcony and listen to the surf crash on the beach during a sleepless night.

Where I'm Going to EatThe Swizzle Inn  is Bermuda's oldest and certainly most famous pub. It has been in business since 1932 and is famous for Bermuda's famous drink, the Rum Swizzle. The unique part of The Swizzle Inn is its unique use of graffiti and business cards (people write on the walls and ceilings and tack their business cards there as well). Most people who have been to Bermuda have a story about their visit to The Swizzle Inn!

What Beach to Visit:  Horseshoe Bay on the South Shore of the Island - a public beach with beautiful sand and rock formations - a must see for any beach lover!

Where I Am Going At Night:  Flanagan's on Front Street in Hamilton - an Irish pub that has a countdown to St. Patrick's Day on their website (51 days and counting!). Flanagan's is on Front Street facing Hamilton Harbor, and should afford beautiful ocean views, along with being a fun place to spend an evening!

Where I Am Going to Shop: My best memory of shopping in Bermuda The Bermuda Perfumery.  There are many flowers that are native to Bermuda that are transformed into exotic perfumes, my favorite being the Oleander. Anyone who is a perfume addict must visit this Perfumery!

There are many places that I don't have room to mention - St. George's Lighthouse, taking the ferry around Hamilton Harbor, going snorkeling in the beautiful blue water (not something I will do again - but others may find it fun!), or just renting a moped and exploring the island at a leisurely pace.  The island's website, Bermuda Tourism, has many great travel ideas and beautiful photos!  Bermuda is a beautiful island, and I can't wait to spend a real weekend there!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Something New for the Kitchen . . .

A friend sent me a message yesterday about a great tea set that is for sale on Ebay.  I have looking for QE2/Cunard china to display in my kitchen for months, assuming that once QE2 went out of service there would be tons of it for sale on Ebay - but I was wrong.  There has been a small amount over the past year or so, but nothing great.

Last night I put a bid on this tea set:

One bid - $59.60.  Strange amount, but it is listed on EbayUK so my bid is for £40.  While perusing Ebay I also found this full set which is listed at $1,250.00.  I will bid on if I win MegaMillions tomorrow night:

A beautiful set - I will also buy a new piece of furniture to keep it in from my MegaMillions winnings!

Just a little bit of trivia, from the early days of ocean liners, the teapots were square (the teapots in these sets are not for some reason).  The tipping over of teapots in rough seas had been a problem on ships for many years, so in 1917 Robert Crawford Johnson invented the square teapot to minimalize "teapot tippage" on the high seas!

***UPDATE:  Unfortunately, I was outbid - I will have to keep looking!  The final bid was about $255 US dollars - too much for me!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sad Day for Boston Mystery Fans . . .

One of my favorite authors, Robert B. Parker, passed away yesterday.  The only famous author I ever actually met (he signed a book for me at Barnes & Noble in Downtown Crossing - a birthday gift for my Dad about 12 years ago), his books have been among my favorites for many years.  A book is more enjoyable when you can visualize the places the characters frequent, and because they were set in Boston I could easy do so.  Spenser's office was on Boylston Street and he often talked about the people walking by his window; I could picture him jogging along the Charles with his dog, Pearl on a beautiful summer day and walking across the Public Garden on a chilly winter day.

A writer for over 37 years, he published over 65 books which were translated in 24 languages.  These included the Spenser series and two additional series which focused on Jesse Stone, a police chief in a fictional town in Massachusetts and Sunny Randall, a private detective in Boston.  His latest book which is being published in February was a new book in the Stone series.

Mr. Parker died suddenly at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts doing what he did best - writing at his desk.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The NBC Controversy . . .

Over the past week the problems at NBC regarding the ousting of Conan O'Brien from his nightly show in the 11:35 PM time slot because of Jay Leno's failure to garner viewers in the 10:00 PM slot has been all over the news.  I can honestly say I don't understand why Jay would want to go back to the 11:30 PM show - even for the large amount of money being offered to him (Leno is reportedly paid $20 - $30 million per year, based on ratings).  Is it ever enough for some of these celebrities? 

Leno has been hosting The Tonight Show since 1992 when Johnny Carson stepped down, and filled in for Carson many times in the period between 1987 and 1992.   He began his career in comedy in 1973 when he was a college student in Boston.  Now, some 37 years later, he is not ready to give it up.

One would think that at age 60, after 30 odd years working hard to achieve fame and fortune, Leno would finally say "I have enough - I want to retire".  But no!  I guess a net worth of $32 million dollars, a collection of over 80 classic, rare cars, 80 motorcycles, a fire engine and a facility to hold all these toys that measures the areas of three football fields is not enough.

To take the peacock's point of view for a minute, NBC is playing a numbers game in showing their loyalty to Leno.  It is reported that Leno has brought over $1 billion in revenues to the network since he began hosting The Tonight Show in 1992.  Unfortunately, NBC is losing a great talent with Conan O'Brien.  Being 13 years younger than Jay, he reaches a different demographic and would have stayed in the position longer (who will want to watch a 70 year old Jay Leno - his peers will all be asleep at 9:00 PM and will have no interest in watching his show!).

And I guess I will not be missing anything good by falling asleep early on weeknights!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Rather Sad Day . . .

20 years ago today I lost my Mom.

Sometimes it feels like it was a lifetime ago, other times it feels like it was just yesterday.  It's odd how you remember certain aspects of certain days but can draw a total blank about others.  I remember it was very cold, and the roads were covered in black ice.  I remember it took forever to the ambulance to get to our house (but in reality it was probably only about 10 minutes).  I remember the firefighters who responded scraped the ceiling of the stairway with their helmets while going up the stairs.  Other than those fleeting memories, I don't remember much until we finally were able to laugh later that afternoon at the large number of fruit baskets we were received (all from John's Fruit Store - I think the same guy delivered all of them!).

I'm always amazed when people say "I don't know what I would do if my mother died" - it's not like you are given a choice.  God doesn't come down to you and say "I'm going to make this terrible thing happen - do you think you can handle it now or do you want me to hold off for a couple of years?".  It happens and you have to make it through.  Some days were harder than others, but pain does fade with time.  But it is always there - every time I see a cardinal in a tree outside my kitchen door, when I see a rug she made or come across an old Barbie outfit she knitted, or find a photo of her while sorting through the hundreds of pictures I keep in boxes.

Everything happens for a reason, but I do wish she had met my husband and seen my children.  But I'm sure in her own way she does see them and know them, but it is sad they will never know her.

For now, I'm sure she is somewhere with many friends, family members (and Mist!) who have gone to join her in the years since she passed (trying to avoid the people that she didn't like on Earth!), doing everything she never had time to do in her time here.  Miss you Mum!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Where In The World . . .

Over the weekend I went to see Anthony Bourdain speak. For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, he is an accomplished chef who now hosts a show on the Travel Channel. The main focus of the show is not just traveling to various exotic locations around the world, but to try to eat as the locals eat - in small restaurants, carts on the street ("street food" as he calls it). In the question and answer section he said that he thought Americans don't travel as much as they should, and when they do travel, they don't take chances with food (he would be ashamed of me if he knew I ate at Chi-Chi's twice when I was in London!).

Listening to his lecture made me think about the different places in the world I want to visit in my lifetime. So, in no specific order, here they are:

1. Paris: Well, I guess I did tell a little fib when I said "no particular order" - Paris is #1. For my 50th birthday (YEARS from now!) I want to wake up there, and turning 50 won't seem so ugly anymore! I also want to take a romantic walk over a bridge in a snow flurry, eat in the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, and eat lots of bread!

2.  London:  Having only visited London for three days over 20 years ago, it is one of the places I can't wait to return to.  There is so much to see - it is an amazing city.  It is also the first foreign city I want to take the kids to since they speak the language and won't be too confused!

3.   Austria:  As a huge "Sound of Music" fan, Austria has to be on my list. To spin around on Mellwig Mountain like Maria did in the opening number, to bike around the lake district of Salzburg, and to visit the church where Maria and the Captain were married would be a dream come true!

4. Norway: As from being a beautiful country, one of the biggest reasons for visiting Norway would be to see the Northern Lights. Also, I would like to be in a place where there is 24 hours of darkness - something that everyone should experience at least once!

5.  Italy:  Venice, Rome, Tuscany - the adventures would be endless. Riding in a gondola, seeing the Vatican and the other sights of Rome would be inspiring. As for Tuscany, I would love to rent a house is Tuscany for a month; I would spend my days walking to the local shops, buying local produce, and cook fabulous meals every night.

6.  India:  When I think of the most exotic place on Earth - it has to be India. The culture is so completely different from the one I live in - it would be fascinating to see India - the good and the bad.

7. Ireland: The land of my ancestors - a visit to County Cork(Skibbereen to be exact) would have to be on my list to visit. Showing the boys where their ancestors came from would be a great history lesson for them (and me!).

8. Hong Kong: One of the most exciting aspects about visiting Hong Kong to me would be landing at the airport. It is located on an island (Chek Lap Kok) in the harbor and it seems like you may land in the harbor before you actually see the landing strip. The lights, the sounds, the people - Hong Kong seems like it would be one of the most exciting cities to visit.

9. Egypt: Another destination whose culture is so different from where I live, which is why it is so attractive to me. Walking around pyramids that were built so long ago would be surreal. Just hope there are no snakes!

10. Quebec: A close to home destination! An ideal visit would include a stay in the Hotel du Frontenac with room with a beautiful view!

Now I just need to get that Passport photo taken and the application mailed!  And the photos are courtesy of family members who actually do get to travel the world!