Friday, February 26, 2010

I'm In A New York State of Mind . . .

The last few "virtual weekends" have been spent in warm, tropic destinations - places where we can forget the ugly winter weather that has been plaguing us.  Not this weekend!  Today we are off to my favorite city in the world - New York!


Yes, the weather may be cold, there may be a little precipitation - but nothing can pale the excitement and pulse of this fabulous city.  There are hundreds of hotels to choose from in Manhattan; for me there is only one choice - The Waldorf-Astoria.  My favorite hotel since childhood,  the Waldorf occupies an entire city block between Park and Lexington Avenues and 49th and 50th Streets, and is within walking distance of most attractions.  Designed in the art deco style, it is the ultimate in luxury, complete with restaurants, bars, shopping (and a Starburck's!).  To see more of the Waldorf, click here!
 
(photo courtesy of The Waldorf-Astoria)

After checking in and having a relaxing martini at Sir Harry's in the lobby, let's walk over to Fifth Avenue and gaze in the windows of such legendary retailers as PradaLouis Vuitton  and Bergdorf Goodman - lots of window shopping, very little purchasing!  Once we arrive at the corner of 5th Avenue and 59th Street, a walk in the Park would seems to be in order.  Whether you visit the famous Central Park Zoo or stop by Strawberry Fields, a bit of the park dedicated John Lennon who lived nearby, visiting the park is a must for any visitor to New York City.


Time for an early dinner if we are going to make it to our theater reservations on time!  Too many choices - too little time!  There are hundreds of restaurants in New York - any type of cuisine that you desire is available here.  Let's keep it simple - meat, potatoes and a good glass of red wine.  A short cab ride from the hotel to Park Avenue South, and we arrive at Les Halles, a French inspired bistro made famous by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.  Les Halles has delicious food, great service (well, the service was great the time I went!) and a vast menu.  After ordering a bottle of pinot noir, start with the Croûtons de Coulommiers Rôtis (brie topped with honey & cracked black pepper) as an appetizer - delish!  For an entree, I will have the Filet de Boeuf, Béarnaise (a beef tenderloin with bearnaise sauce), as rare as the kitchen will serve it!  And for dessert, Crème Brulee - my favorite!


Now that we are gastronomically satisfied, let's move on to the "lullaby of Broadway".  A revival, a musical, a new show - the decisions are endless!  If there is a famous performer in a show, it is a chance to catch a bit of theater history.  A Little Night Music at the Walter Kerr Theatre is one of those opportunities!  Starring legendary actress Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music is a revival of a Stephen Sondheim/Hugh Wheeler production based on Bergman's film, Smiles of a Summer Night.

After the show, there is time for a short nightcap on the way back to the hotel.  Sadly, my first choice, The Rainbow Room atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza, is currently closed, so let's visit another long time New York hangout, the Bar Room at the famous 21 Club.  Known as the watering hole for celebrities and its famous toy collection, we can sit and enjoy a Bailey's on the rocks while pretending to be someone important!


Time to grab a cab and head back to the Waldorf.  Tomorrow morning will come early and it will be time to head back to the country - unless you want to spend the day looking at some pricey real estate to relocate to?  Wishful thinking . . . . maybe we will just stay long enough to sample some bagels from Zabar's while taking a stroll around Upper West Side!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Those Were The Days . . .

"Enjoy this time - they grow up so fast"!  How many times do parents hear those prophetic words?  When they are crying in a supermarket checkout line, throwing a tantrum when they don't want to leave somewhere, or when they spit vegetables back at you during dinner - most parents yearn for the day when they will actually grow up.

For some reason over the past couple of days, I have been watching toddlers and feeling a little sad.  How did my sons grow up so fast?  While walking at the track at my local YMCA today, I took a water break to watch the toddler gymnastic class going on below me.  Mothers coaxed their children over balance beams and through tunnels, praising them at every accomplishment.  It seems like only yesterday that I was doing that with my sons in a baby swim class, trying to get them to put their face in the water and blow bubbles.

Now I just sit on the sidelines during their activities, watching them as they do karate kicks or run the bases, and it isn't as much fun.  Gone are the days of taking afternoon naps after watching Barney - now they want to stay up until 10:00 PM to watch wrestling (which doesn't happen!).  Trying to get them to sit through an entire movie with me is torture for them - they always want to go off and do another activity.

A few years back I bought a book called "Let Me Hold You Longer" by Karen Kingsbury which takes a different view of children growing up.  The story is talks about how parents put so much emphasis on the "first" time a child does something, like walk or talk, but how they fail to remember the "last" times.  Who remembers the exact last time you put your child in a stroller?  Or the last time they drank from a bottle?  When these milestones arrived in our family, I'm sure we were relieved.  No more bottle washing and hauling strollers around - but now I wish I remembered the specific instances and had take more notice.

The grass always seems greener on the other side; I think some of the bad times have faded away.  How could I forget "cranky time", when my oldest would cry from 5:30-7:00 every evening?  I remember putting my key in the front door after work and hoped to hear silence - I rarely did.  At the time my children were infants/toddlers we had very busy lives.  We both worked and had very long commutes.  We did the absolute best we could with the time we had.  Life is a little slower now and I wish I had the time I have now to spend with them, but now they are in school full time.

I will always have new milestones to look forward to.  Next year my oldest will start middle school, and after that there will be a litany of firsts - first job, driver's license, first date.  I'm not sure I'm looking forward to some of the future milestone - they seem rather scary.  Does anyone have a time machine?  I would like to go back and have a just one more day that began with a sippy cup of milk on the bed watching Sesame Street, or an afternoon on the couch with a sleeping baby on my chest.

But there will always be photos . . . and the memories!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sometimes You Just Have to Let Art Flow Over You . . .

As part of our whirlwind tour of the museums in Boston, we visited the Museum of Fine Arts on Sunday.


The Museum of Fine Arts ("MFA") opened on July 4, 1876.  It was originally located in Boston's Copley Square and moved to its current location on Huntington Avenue in 1909.  It is one of largest art museums in the world, with over 400,000 works of art.  Both contemporary and classic artists are represented, along with numerous special exhibits that change several times a year.

One of the most interesting parts of the MFA is the architecture of the buildings. The first location of the original MFA was in Copley Square. A building designed by John Sturgis and Charles Brigham, it was a red brick structure in the Gothic revival style, which was completed in 1876, with additions being added in 1879 and 1890 to house the growing collection of artifacts.  By the end of the 1800s, the Copley Square museum building could no longer house the growing collection of art; a new location for the MFA had to be found.  The site in Copley Square now houses The Copley Plaza Hotel.

The MFA's current location on Huntington Avenue was chosen.  The original building at the current location was designed by architect Guy Lowell, who created a design that could be added upon as the needs of the MFA grew. The first section of  was completed in 1909; it is the part of the building that now faces Huntington Avenue, and features a grand rotunda and exhibition galleries.


Over the years, many other additions have been added to the MFA, including new visitor center, enhanced entrances and additional exhibition spaces.  There is currently a large wing being built which is due to open in the Fall of 2010.

One could lose themselves for hours walking through the various collections in the different wings.  As a parent, I found the MFA rather unfriendly toward children.  My children are 11 and 8 and are well behaved.  They have visited many museums and historic locations and know how to act in these places.  I felt that we had a museum staffer stalking us in every room; I have never felt so unwelcome in a museum.  At one point I was confronted after taking a photo.  I had made a point of asking a security guard what could be photographed, as it was not mentioned in the map that we were given and I usually take many pictures.  He told me that any area that was labeled in pink was off limits to photography.  Minutes later when I took a photo, a museum employee came running up to me and reprimanded me.  Taken aback, I told him what the other guard had said.  He chose not to acknowledge what I said, and walked away (I should have taken his picture just to annoy him).  Again - not a very welcoming place!

One of the interesting parts of the MFA are the large baby head sculptures that are located near the entrance on the Fenway.  These unique works of art by Spanish artist Antonio López García were installed on the MFA grounds in April of 2008.   Note the photo is of the baby head sculpture only - my sons thought it was creepy and wouldn't even stand next to it!



The MFA offers free admission to children 7-17 on weekdays after 3:00 PM, weekends, and public school holidays, along with admission to all with a voluntary contribution ($20.00 is suggested) on Wednesday nights after 4:00 PM.

P.S. - No more cheesy movie lines for my entry titles - two is enough!  Do you recognize this line?  It is from one of my favorite movies, which was filmed in one of my favorite places, Beaufort, SC!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Just Dig That Scenery Floating By, We're Now Approaching Newport, RI . . .

Catchy little title?  It's actually a line from the opening song of one my favorite movies, "High Society", which takes place in the quaint but affluent city of Newport, Rhode Island.

It is school vacation week here, and in the ever continuing plan to amuse our sons while exposing them to history and culture, we decided to take them to Newport.  The Gilded Age, the history of tennis and a little lunch - a grand plan!


The day began at The Breakers, the largest of the the Newport "summer cottages" built in the late 1800s by wealthy New Yorkers as an escape from the heat of their homes in the New York City.  Built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1893, The Breakers is a 70+ room mansion built in the style of an Italian villa, teeming with marble, gold leaf and exquisite craftsmanship in every room.  The mansion is now part of the group of homes owned and operated by The Preservation Society of Newport County, who restored and renovated these homes and opened them to the public.  Whether you take a conventional or an audio tour, there is always a helpful representative from the Preservation Society around every corner in the mansions (so don't even think about trying to use your camera!).

Although my older son had visited The Breakers twice previously, I was unsure how my 8 year old react to the visit as he can get impatient quickly with things that don't interest him.  Fortunately, we took the self-guided audio tour, which he loved!  It was entertaining to watch - I could tell at which point in the audio tour he was listening to because of his actions ("look up at the ceiling" - his head was immediately flung back to view the ornate skylight above; "take a minute to closely look at the paneling in this room" - which he took quite literally, practically touching the wood with his nose to make sure he examined it thoroughly!  Too bad for the pesky Preservation Society members - the poses would have made for some great pictures!  Winter is not a good time of year to tour the grounds.  The paths were very muddy, which was unfortunate because the view from the sloping lawn to the waves breaking at the shore is spectacular!


After The Breakers, we moved on to the The International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum in the downtown area of Newport.


The Hall of Fame and Museum is housed in the famed Newport Casino (the name has nothing to do with gambling - the word casino stems from the Italian word cascina, meaning little summer house).  At the museum, the history of the sport of tennis from the 12th Century through today is presented in different rooms and exhibits throughout the building.


Because it was a vacation week for several states in the area, it was also Winter Festival in Newport.  As part of the Festival, the Hall of Fame had some special activities for families and children scheduled during the week.  We learned lots of new facts about tennis while completing the scavenger hunt through the museum, but the kids loved the indoor games available to them.  They played a game of  Quick Start Tennis, a game being introduced by the United States Tennis Association to help younger kids get involved in the sport, with a smaller court area and racquets (my heart stopped a few times when my younger son swung his racquet back toward the large glass case behind him - but thankfully it survived!).  Then it was on to Wii Tennis, on the big screen!


A cold winter day - filled with history and a little indoor exercise! Newport is a beautiful place to visit - check out their website, Go Newport, for many great vacation ideas! And if you are unable to make the trip to Newport, rent the movie "High Society", starring Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby for some beautiful scenery, great talent, and memorable songs - a must see for all musical lovers!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Love of Learning, the Sequestered Nooks, and All the Sweet Serenity of Books (Longfellow) . . .

A personal blog is a way to share interests with everyone.  Since I already write about one of my favorite subjects - travel, I thought I would add another of my passions - books!

An avid reader since childhood, I was fortunate to have a branch of the local library two blocks from my home.  In the summer, my mother religiously took us to the library near our vacation house so we could spent our summer afternoons reading on the dock or under the immense pine tree that were scattered on our front lawn.  Mysteries were (and still are) my favorites; my love of the "whodunit" began in the shade of a pine with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys in the 1970s.

Once a week I will share the book I am reading.  Also, since getting an IPod Nano, I have begun to download audio books regularly, so I will also touch upon those.  Hopefully I will inspire someone to rediscover the joy of reading (or listening to) a book!

My choice this week is the audio book I have been listening to - Garlic and Sapphires:  The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl.  Reichl's claim to fame is that she was the restaurant critic for both the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.  In "Garlic and Sapphires", she tells of her move from L.A. to Manhattan to take the job at the Times.  She fears instant recognition by the restaurants around New York and fears she never be able to write an impartial review (one of the opening paragraphs of the book tells how she encounters someone on a plane who tells her that her photo had already been circulated around to the important restaurants in New York months in advance of her beginning her new job).



To try to remain anonymous on the restaurant scene, Reichl devises a plan to use disguises in order to trick the restaurants into thinking she is someone else.  Her disguises are usually geared to make her look more ordinary and older, to see how the restaurants would treat a regular customer off the street.  She also visits the restaurants as herself so she can contrast the quality of the food and treatment by the staff.  The result is astonishing and it makes for a very entertaining read.

Reichl is the author of seven books, including two cookbooks, and also co-produces of PBS's Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie and is host of PBS's Gourmet's Adventures with Ruth. Take a minute to visit her website to read about her work, and to try some of her favorite recipes.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A hundred hearts would be too few, to carry all my love for you . . .

Valentine's Day - the holiday created by the greeting card industry that puts fear into men's hearts.  It is a holiday whose celebrations change drastically over the years.  Gone are the days of waiting for the roses, the diamond earrings, and expensive chocolates.  It now features heart shaped food, fun little gifts for the boys and homemade cards.  Would I be thrilled to wake up to find a card and a light blue box from Tiffany?  Well, I'm not a fool - of course I would!  By I enjoy the way we celebrate it now.  Instead of diamonds, my gifts will take other forms - the faces of my kids when they tear into their Valentine bags to see what awaits them, and their excitement of having heart shaped cheeseburgers for dinner (I cheat - I buy fast food burgers and cut them - I tried making homemade heart shaped cheeseburgers but they looked too much like the real heart - not appetizing).


Someday, when the kids are grown, my husband and I will have a romantic Valentine's Day - a rendezvous at the top of the Empire State Building (after crossing the street VERY carefully!), a limousine ride through Central Park, and dinner in Rockefeller Center where we will sip chilled Krug while sampling icy oysters at The Sea Grill

For now, I am content with our family's simple version of Valentine's Day - how could one be unhappy with heart shaped burgers?  Happy Valentine's Day!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Let's Celebrate the Sunset . . .

Another week of terrible weather in the Northeast!  To escape the snow, ice and general misery, this weekend's virtual getaway is to the eclectic Florida town of Key West, Florida.


Photo courtesy of Destination360.com

After arriving at Miami International Airport, let's pick up a rental convertible and start the trip south.  Driving to Key West takes about four hours from Miami on the Overseas Highway (Route 1).  This road follows the route in which Henry Flagler built the Florida East Coast Railway in the early 1900s to link the US to ports such as Cuba.  The tracks were destroyed in a massive hurricane in 1935; it was rebuilt as a highway and was completed in 1938.  Driving from Miami to Key West, you drive over 110 miles of road and 42 bridges, including the well-known Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon.


Photo courtesy of Florida Keys News

Key West has many great places to stay, from large hotels to small guesthouses.  The Chelsea House,
located at 709 Truman Avenue, would be my choice for accommodations.  Part of the network of Historic Key West Inns, The Chelsea House offers a few different room styles.  My choice is The Junior Suite, which has double doors that lead to a private porch - a great place to enjoy your morning coffee while planning out the day's activities!


Photo courtesy of The Chelsea House

Our first stop after finishing our coffee will be the Truman Little White House located at 111 Front Street.  Key West was one of President Truman's favorite vacation spots (he even joked with Bess that he would like to move the Nation's Capital there).  The museum houses artifacts he used frequently during his stays there such as his poker table and piano.


Next stop, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum located on Whitehead Street in Old Town Key West.  Hemingway lived here for more than ten years, and wrote some of his best works while a residing in this colorful town.  One of the unique aspects of the Hemingway House - cats.  More than sixty kitties call this place home!  They wander freely through the grounds, so if you are allergic to cats, bring your allergy medication!  If you visit the website you can see photos of them.  Make sure to print it, so while visiting you can identify them by name.  My favorite:  Hairy Truman!

One of the most popular events in Key West, for both tourists and natives, is the Sunset Celebration in Mallory Square.  Thousands of people come to view one of the most picturesque sunsets in the World.  About two hours before sunset, the celebration begins.  It is a festival that hosts local artisans and street performers, which culminates in sight of the sun gracefully dipping into the Gulf of Mexico.


Now that the sun has set, it is time to think about having dinner.  Seven Fish, located at 632 Olivia Street, is renowned for having some of the finest seafood in Key West.  After perusing the menu, I have decided on the Crab Cake with Garlic Sauce for an appetizer, and Sea Scallops over Mashed Potato with Pureed Peas as an entree.  For dessert - Key Lime Cheesecake with raspberries seems to be an appropriate choice!

Key West is famous for its crazy nightlife - so go big or go home!  First, let's have a drink at The Bull and Whistle, located at the corner of Duval and Caroline Streets.  It is home to Duval Street's only "clothing optional" bar , The Garden of Eden, which is located on the rooftop of this establishment.  While the weather most certainly will be warm enough to go "au naturel", I'm going to pass.  Let's sit downstairs and watch the world go by as we enjoy our martinis in Key West's oldest open air bar.


Duval Street, Key West

Before it gets too late, let's move on to our final night-time destination.  Remember, we are in Key West, one of the most open vacation destinations on the East Coast.  What combination can almost always guarantee fun?  How about cocktails, good music . . . and drag queens!  The Aqua Club on Duval Street has the famous "Aquanettes" featured on weekends; their current show entitled "Reality . . . What a Drag", looks like it would be entertaining - and nothing like anything I will find at home (I think my town should book something like it - we sorely need entertainment options!).

After a good night's sleep, it is time to jump back in the convertible, grab a coffee at Island Joe's and head back to the mainland!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fashion Fades . . . Only Style Remains the Same

Tomorrow is the beginning of one of my favorite times of the year - Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York.  The collection of designers will be shown from February 11th through February 18th at various venues around Manhattan.  For a stay at home mom/housewife living in a small town, it is a far away world that I would love to be a part of!  Every year I print out the schedule and hang it on my fridge to see who is showing on what day, even though I know I can't go.  Last year I was thrilled when Isaac Mizrahi, one of my favorite designers, ran a live feed of his Spring 2010 show.  It was a fabulous 20 minutes and as close as I have been to a real fashion show.  Picture me, sitting at home at my computer desk, drinking a V-8, watching the fashions come down the runway in real time.  I felt rather important that Anna Wintour (Editor in Chief of Vogue) and other luminaries of the fashion world viewed the designs at the exactly the same time as me.  Here are my two favorite looks from the show:


Photos courtesy of IsaacMizrahiNY.com

Unfortunately, I live in a small town where clothing stores are non-existent (unless you want factory second sweatshirts and socks from the local Ocean State Job Lot).  Someday I would love to be able to own fashions like these.  If I had these outfits, I would need a place to wear them.  My daily routine consists of house cleaning, laundry, scouts, volunteering and errands so they don't fit into my lifestyle right now - but wouldn't I look chic running into Shaw's to buy kitty litter?

For now, attending Fashion Week is a world away - but hopefully I will make it there someday.  For now, I will peruse the schedule of shows on my fridge while I wait for the boys' waffles to toast . . . and dream of someday!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Are You Ready for Some . . . Puppy Ball?!

In our house, Super Bowl Sunday means one thing:
Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet!

(Photos courtesy of  Animal Planet)

Puppy Bowl made it debut on Animal Planet in 2005.  It is a great alternative for kids and non-football fans alike. Puppies play with football toys, drink from the "bowl cam" (a clear bowl with a camera on the bottom), and are given penalties for "accidents" on the field.  It is fully staffed with referees, has bunny cheerleaders to keep spirits up, and "tail"-gating fans.  Sadly, there will be a different announcer calling the plays this year as Harry Kalas, who was the voice of Puppy Bowl I through V, passed away last Spring (Mr. Kalas was also the voice of NFL Films the play-by-play announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies).

(A shot from the "Bowl Cam")

This year kicks off Puppy Bowl VI.  Taking the field will be puppies from local shelters through the sponsorship of Petfinder.com.  Along with the puppies, adoptable cats will provide entertainment during the Kitty Half-Time Show.  Anything can happen when these guys hit the field - wrestling, fighting, butt-sniffing - something for everyone!


A few years ago we decided to embrace the Puppy Bowl spirit by having dog inspired snacks as our munchies during the show.  I served the traditional football snacking favorites but I decided to serve them in a more "canine" way - in dog bowls!  Strangely enough, we didn't even have a dog at the time; after Super Bowl/Puppy Bowl Sunday, I had more dog dishes than I knew what to do with!



Football is one of my least favorite sports (I am not a sports fan at all - at my own son's football games I clap when the rest of the parents from his team clap as I have no idea what is happening on the field) but I will forever remain a diehard Puppy Bowl fan! Woof!!

P.S. - If you are looking to add a pet to your family, please visit Petfinder.com.  There are many animals looking for families to adopt and love them!  We used Petfinder - and look who we found:


(Bruce, adopted 2008 and Cody, adopted 2006)


The Hostess City of the South . . .

This weekend, while many are experiencing blizzard like conditions and extreme cold along the East Coast of the United States, I thought this week's virtual destination should be one that makes me think of flowers, warmth and genuine hospitality - Savannah, Georgia.  For an overview of Savannah tourism, visit Savannah Visitor Information.



Established as a city in 1733, Savannah is a coastal city that is steeped in history, and it a great walking city.  Its downtown area is set up in a grid-like fashion that consists of 21 beautiful squares.  The architecture in Savannah is one of its highlights - beautiful antique homes surround most of the squares.  It is enjoyable to sit on a bench and imagine yourself climbing the double staircase at the entrance of one of these beautiful homes, on your way to afternoon tea or a dinner party.


My hotel of choice in Savannah is The Marshall House located at 123 East Broughton Street .  Built in 1851, The Marshall House was the first hotel in Savannah and was recently extensively renovated.  It is also alledgedly haunted which makes it a must-stay for me!

After checking into the hotel, and realizing it is lunchtime there is only one place to go The Lady and Sons at 102 West Congress Street. 


Owned by celebrity chef Paula Deen, it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Savannah, so prepare to queue up - but the wait will be worth it.  The buffet lunch, which consists of some of the items Paula is famous for - fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens - make it a great way to sample true Southern cooking.

Now that we have eaten approximately 2,500 calories of Southern food, it is time to get some exercise.  How about a walking tour?  The Savannah Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Book Tour by Savannah Tours will take you through some of the locations in John Berendt's book "Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil", including Mercer House and Bonaventure Cemetery.


For a little evening entertainment, let's stop at Club One at 1 Jefferson Street.  Club One is home to the infamous Lady Chablis. Made famous in the book and movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good in Evil" (Chablis even played herself in the movie!), "she" is rather outspoken and risqué entertainer, the likes of which you have probably never seen before!  Just a warning - if you are looking for calm, family entertainment, Club One is probably not the place for you!

Savannah is one of my favorite cities - it is historic and beautiful, interesting and edgy.  It is difficult to describe to someone who has never visited there, so I am going to borrow a quote from one of my favorite authors, Bill Bryson, who described it in his book, "The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America":
 
I stood agog in Lafayette Square in Savannah, amid brick paths, trickling fountains and dark trees hung with Spanish moss. Before me rose up a cathedral of linen-fresh whiteness with twin Gothic spires, and around it stood 200-year-old houses of weathered brick, with hurricane shutters that clearly were still used. I did not know that such perfection existed in America.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

QE2 . . .

In looking back over the different subjects that I have written about over the last few months, I am surprised it has taken me this long to write about one of my favorite subjects - the Queen Elizabeth 2.


She was built at the John Brown Shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland, and was launched September 20, 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II.  Her maiden transatlantic voyage to New York was in May, 1969.  Although many refer to her as a "cruise ship", she is technically an ocean liner; she was made to tackle heavy seas, high winds and any weather the North Atlantic threw at her. 

My interest in QE2 began after watching a National Geographic special in the early 1980s called "Superliners: Twilight of an Era", which focused on an westbound transatlantic crossing in the summer of 1979.  My first real glimpse of her was in the Spring of 1987, when she was hired by a Massachusetts based computer company for a week long convention in Boston.  After seeing her up close - I knew I had to travel onboard this legendary ship.


In 1988 I booked a transatlantic voyage from Boston to Southampton for November, 1988 (it was rather inexpensive and I quickly realized why - as you can see from the photo below, which was taken while I was onboard, the weather was rather stormy!).  With the addition of another job in addition to my full time position, and with a little help from Mom and Dad, I boarded QE2 on November 21, 1988, alone, to begin the trip of a lifetime!

Traveling alone is a great way to meet people; if you have nobody else to spend time with on a trip you are forced into dining, talking and meeting people (unless you don't want to speak for a week!).  I met all types of people - some from Massachusetts, some from foreign countries, and I even got to visit the bridge and meet some of the crew on my last night aboard (that's me at the helm of QE2, with the Harrod's Christmas bear!).


Sadly, QE2 is no longer sailing.  In 2008 she was sold to a corporation in Dubai where she was to become a floating hotel, much like her predecessor, the Queen Mary, who is docked in Long Beach, California.  Due to the current economic crisis around the World, her future is uncertain.  She sits alone, docked in Dubai where she is occasionally visited by other ships including her ocean liner cousin, the Queen Mary 2  - who always exchanges horn blasts with her when visiting Dubai.



QE2 is very much a part of my life and my family's.  It was a special event to watch her leave Boston Harbor for the last time on September 18, 2008; my only wish being that she could have stayed in service long enough for my boys to experience voyage aboard.

Her day at sea before her retirement in Dubai was celebrated at Thanksgiving dinner in 2008 with a special cake (even though the people in the bakery had no idea what QE2 was - shocking to me!).


When I renovated our kitchen last year, I tried to use QE2's color scheme of red, black and white.  The walls are adorned with QE2 artwork that I had to special order from the UK, and other mementos of her time at sea - I even have a QE2 clock!


Over the last year I have joined a QE2 group on the internet - The QE2 Story, through which I have "met" many people from all over the world who share my interest in this great ship.  Photos and stories are shared, news of her current situation is exchanged and memories of QE2's illustrious years at sea are kept alive!