Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Updated Blog Colors

I just updated my blog page with a black background. I think the photos pop! If I get the chance, I might post a "photo-a-day" or at least once a week.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Today's Photos: Leesburg, VA

I spent the afternoon with my friend Beth in the old town of Leesburg, VA. These are just a few photos I took. You can go to my flicker account to see more of my photos!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Our Lucy

Tony and I adopted Lucy on 25 March 2001 when she was about 13 weeks old. She's a mixed Spaniel/Dachshund/Labrador, although we don't see any Spaniel in her at all. She has 10 other siblings, all adopted out to good homes. She has a long body, taller legs than a Dachshund, and the face of a Lab. She's a small dog, weighing about 30 pounds. Her siblings range from 12 to 60 pounds. She's been a joy. In June 2001, she fractured her hind leg and wore a cast for 5 weeks. She loves to go for walks in the park and visit with other dogs at Petsmart. Yes, she is spoiled but happy dog!

Lucy at a Halloween event. I painted a white line down her back and top of her head to make her into s skunk. She was all smiles that day!

Here's Lucy with her sister Reilly (on the right).

San Diego Hotel (2006)

Holiday Inn on the Bay
1355 Harbor Drive
San Diego, California 92101
$18/day for parking
I stayed at this hotel April 21-22nd. I arrived at the hotel around 1pm, which check-in was pretty fast and easy. I was unable to get a room facing the bay, so I got a room facing the city (#1084). I still had some nice views, but man, those Amtrak trains are noisy in the middle of the night! This hotel is located just a few miles from the airport.

My room (and probably most others) needs updating. The carpet needs replacing, but it wasn't disgusting to walk on. I had a nice, comfortable king bed (brough my own pillow), with the regular hotel amenities. It was nice to sit on the balcony, although it was a little chilly. I would have prefered to stay in the main building, but I believe the hotel was fully booked. The cruise ship terminal is directly across the street from the building I stayed in, so it's perfect for cruisers (pre or post cruise).

Next to the lobby is a bar/restaurant, which I had a drink one night. Pretty nice place. If you want to splurge, there's Ruth Chris Steakhouse. That place was filled everytime I walked by it.
I liked the location in that it's a short walk to the Midayway for touring, the Seaport village and a few good restaurants (Fish Market, San Diego Pier Cafe, Busters, and Anthony's Fish Grotto - Busters is good for breakfast, Pier Cafe for seafood at reasonable prices).

I also had the opportunity to take the ferry over to Coronado, then the shuttle bus to the hotel. I was able to walk from the hotel to the Gaslamp quarter (about 25 minutes) but took a taxi back to the hotel.

Service was great, both with those at the reception desk, as well as housekeeping.
Overall, I would stay here again if I could get a room facing the bay. There are lots of other hotels in the area too.

San Juan, Puerto Rico Hotels

November 2003:

Radisson Ambassador Plaza Hotel & Casino
1369 Ashford Avenue
Condado, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00907-9955
E-mail: rhi_sjpr@radisson.com
I booked this hotel through Priceline.com for $85. I was told by Biddingfortravel.com that I could have gotten a resort for that price. Next time, I'll bid lower. Nice, older hotel, but in good condition. Very large room (835) with Condado city views and ocean towards the right.

Caribe Hilton San Juan
P.O. Box 9021872
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00902-1872
(787) 721-0303
I also booked this room through Priceline.com for $65! I was very happy with that price for a resort. Lovely grounds, very nice room with view of Condado. Room 823. The bottled water in the room, was marked $7. That was nuts! There's a convenience store around the corner - get your bottled water and wine there.

The hotel has 4 expensive restaurants. We dined in the Madrid restaurant located in the tower building. Excellent food: veal chop; Asopao de Mariscos (seafood soup).
Although I liked the hotel and the amenities, there are no other restaurants in the area. The only way to get around from the hotel is either a 40 minute walk into Old San Juan or via taxi. I much prefer the Condado area with its many restaurants and .25 cent bus ride.

Hawaii Hotels

October 2005

Hale Koa
2055 Kalia Road, Honolulu, HI 96815-1998
1-800-367-6027 (CONUS)
Contact 8AM to 4PM Hawaiian time, daily except Sunday and federal holidays.
$110/night for a Garden View Room
Room 546 Maile tower for the first four nights; Rome 839 our last night, Maile tower. This was our second stay at the Hale Koa (October 2005) and just like our last visit, we truly enjoyed this visit. Our room was clean, comfortable and with a wonderful view of Waikiki area. Everyone was friendly, especially Geri, our cute and always smiling waitress at the pool bar. If you are military or a DOD employee, this is THE best place to stay while in Waikiki. The prices are excellent (based on your rank and type of room (garden vs. ocean view)), no taxes, and all the amenities a 4-5 star resort provides. And the beach is the best in Waikiki!! Room 839 has a great corner balcony, so we had views towards the mountains, and could also look around the corner towards the water. The room looks larger too. Room had a king bed, a small sofa and desk. Room 546 had two queen beds.

Kilauea Military Camp
Hawaii National Park, Hawaii
$108/night; Room #AL
This is a military only camp located inside the Kilauea National Park. Rooms are priced based on rank and type of room. We had a very nice apartment with living room, fireplace, tv, desk, microwave oven and mini refrigerator. The tiled bathroom had a Jacuzzi. Bedroom included a queen bed and dresser. The camp is quite old and needs a facelift, but the place is in a perfect location inside the national park. The apartment was very clean and well kept. On post includes a general store, gas station, dining facility, etc.

Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort
78-6740 Alii Drive
Kona, hawaii
$121.44/night for a partial oceanview room
I selected this hotel based on positive reviews from Trip advisor. However, our room (#645) was horrible (stained carpeting and torn bed spread), so we asked for another room. Carpeting should be clean so that I can walk comfortably barefooted. The carpeting in our new room #515 was better but still needs replacing. The bathroom above ours leaked one day and we had to ask for maintenance to come in and fix the problem. Maid service was poor two times: Left used glasses on the table and left used towels in the bathroom floor, yet they took the other used towels.

On the positive side, our room was large with a king bed, two chairs, table and ottoman, desk/chair; fabulous view of the pool area and ocean/tide pools. Service at the bar was great, although drinks were a little pricy. Excellent dinner at their main restaurant. We enjoyed the mai tais while watching the sunset and seeing the many turtles sleeping on the rocks in front of us in the tide pool. Nightly entertainment was quite enjoyable. I would definitely return here only if they upgrade their rooms. We were at least lucky to have been upgraded to an ocean deluxe room without any additional charges. Pick a room closer to the ocean to avoid the street noise.

This place is located about 5 miles from the center of Kona on Alii drive. Also, Kahaluu beach, next to the hotel, is the BEST place for snorkeling. Bring an underwater camera!! I had the opportunity to swim within inches of turtles, Moorish idols, triggerfish, puffers, parrot fish, etc. This is the best place for snorkeling, especially for beginners. Just up the street is a shopping center, where you can grocery shop: Pick up the large bottle of mai tai mix and dark rum and save on your bar bill by making your own mai tais. Good place to shop for bottled water, sandwiches, and sushi! An internet cafe is there too. Overall we did enjoy our stay, but again, would like to see the place upgraded. Maybe there are other rooms that are refurbished. Ask before you book. One last thought: We spent five nights there. I think the next time we will book a condo like we did when we visited Kauai. This way we could have a kitchen to cook our breakfast and have a more comfortable place to stay.

October 2002

Hale Koa
2055 Kalia Road
Honolulu, HI 96815-1998
1-800-367-6027 (CONUS)
Contact 8AM to 4PM Hawaiian time, daily except Sunday and federal holidays.
$107 per night for a partial ocean view room.

The Hale Koa is available to military and government personnel only. Facilities include 2 pools, pool bars, a few restaurants (including the Hale Koa Room for fine dining). It's located on a lovely part of Waikiki beach. In addition, there is a Post Exchange. Across the street is a parking garage for $4/day.

Our room for the first portion of our stay was in #1008 in the Ilima tower. Terrific ocean view out to the right of the balcony, mountain views to the left and facing the Maile tower across the way. The room was a decent size with 2 queen beds, a very small refrigerator in the bathroom, t.v., and small table with 2 chairs. The balcony had a small glass table and 2 chairs. Nothing fancy, but very clean and well kept.

Our second room, #860, had the same setup as the first room and was located in the new building, the Maile tower. I had requested a room with a diamond head view, which we got (see it in my Hawaii photos section). However, it was pretty funny to see a speck of diamond head peeking through the Waikiki hotels.

Kiahuna Plantation
2253 Poipu Road
Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii 96756
Managed by Outrigger and Castle Resorts:
The Poipu resort area has many condos to rent and from many real estate companies. After doing my research, I choose to rent directly from a condo owner, Lynda and Will Gill, who qouted me a better price than Outrigger and Castle Resorts.

See their web site for details and photographs of their condo: (
800-734-5975 Pacific Standard Time

We paid $715 for 5 nights and an additional $52 cleaning fee, which we paid directly to Castle Resorts, the company that manages the Gill's condo.

The condo, located in building 17, room #108, sits close to the main road. However we did not encounter too much noise. Lynda supplies a noise machine in the bedroom, so we slept to the sound of rain. We did hear a rooster or 2 in the early morning but it didn't really bother us.

What a great condo! We felt so at home. The place had a large bedroom with a king bed, full bathroom with hair dryer, fully equipped kitchen, living room with t.v. and a dining room. Their condo is on the second floor and has a large balcony facing other buildings and the lovely grounds. In the nearby town of Koloa, we shopped at the grocery store and purchased breakfast foods. It was great having breakfast "at home". There is no a/c but the condo remained cool throughout the day and evening with the tropical breeze.

Across the street is the Poipu Shopping Village where we dined at Keoki's (twice) and Pattaya Asian Cafe. It was only a 5 minute walk to Kiahuna beach from the condo. Located on the beach is a hut where one can get beach towels and chairs. Also on site is a laundry facility, which we used once. Nearby is Piopu beach where we swam and snorkeled one day. We even saw an amazing sight: A monk seal sleeping at the waters edge. A very rare sight!

I highly recommend Kiahuna Plantation, especially the Gill's condo. Lynda was very helpful with Kauai suggestions and was a very nice person to correspond with. If you decide to rent from them, please tell them you read about their condo on my web site and send them my regards.

London Hotel, May 2005

London, May 3-7 2005

Thistle Charing Cross
The Strand, Central London, WC2N 5HX
Phone: 0870 333 9105
Fax: 0870 333 9205
Email: CharingCross@Thistle.co.uk
I booked my hotel via Priceline.com. For expensive London, this is the only way to go! The “regular“ hotel rate during my stay was around $380/night. I requested a non-smoking, king bedroom. My room, #904, was located in the second building. Room 904 is actually on the 6th floor. Who knows why they numbered the rooms on the 6th floor with 900 series? My room, an executive room, was very nicely decorated with a king bed, sitting area with table and 2 chairs, desk, tv, and tiled bathroom with bidet, hair dryer, and speakers to listen to the tv. The view from my window faced the Thames, but the train station building blocked my view of the Eye. The room had been renovated and was decorated in red and cream colors. It was very elegant. The closet contained a room safe, bathrobe, ample closet space, and an iron and ironing board. There was also a mini-bar, but I certainly didn’t use it, as the prices for the drinks were outrageous! Complimentary bottled water was provided. The a/c drowned out any outside noise, including the hum of the trains from the station underneath the building. For the quality, comfort of the room, the price I paid, and the friendly service I received, I would stay at the Charing Cross again.

Italy Hotels

October 9-13, 2007 Rome

Hotel Giardino

Via XXIV Maggio, 51 - 00187 Roma
Tel.: +39.06.6794584 - Fax: +39.06.6795155
E-mail: info@hotel-giardino-roma.com
Katie, the owner of Hotel Giardino, was so very helpful while I stayed at the hotel (4 nights). The hotel is small, probably about 10 rooms. There is no elevator, so you must go up 2 flights of stairs. No big deal for me, as I needed the exercise. My room, #32, was at the end of the hall down from the reception desk. It faced an inner courtyard (not much to see) and was very quiet at night. My room had a king bed (well, twins placed together), small table, chair, armoire and tv on the wall, and tiny bathroom but manageable (with hair dryer). The bed was very comfortable! The room had a/c, which I used a couple of nights.

Breakfast (orange juice, tea, coffee, breads, cereal, cheese, jam, etc) is served in a
small room and there are also three tables (two chairs each) on a very small terrace, which is nice in good weather.

The location of the hotel is very good: Near the Piazza Venezia, the Quiranale and Trajan's market. On the main corner is a bus stop. The trevi fountain is about an 8-10 minute walk and the colosseum/forum is about a 15-minute walk south.

Katie was kind to make my dinner reservations (a must in Rome for any popular place) during my stay, as well as reservations for the Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel tour.

I had booked the hotel last year and since I paid in cash, she honored the 2006 prices (125 euros per night); however, I believe her average price is about 145 euros - still very good for the room quality, service, and location. Breakfast is included with the price.

I would gladly stay at Hotel Giardino on my next trip to Rome!

Italy May 11-25th, 2006


Hotel La Residenza
via Tornabouni, 8
I spent four nights in Florence. I was quoted 100 euros/night for cash payment. I had room 25, which was on the top floor facing the small portion of the terrace. The room was small but perfect for me. The room had a tv, single bed, small table, mini-bar; bathroom with tiny shower (not suited for a large person); hair dryer. The closet has a safe inside so that was nice to have. Because my window was right at the terrace, I couldn't keep my windows open at night. However, keeping the window closed kept some of the noise out.

Service was great. The staff was very friendly and helpful with my dinner reservations. It's located near the Arno river, and about a 15 minute walk to the train and bus stations. Breakfast is included in the price of the room, with typical foods that's served in most small hotels. I would definitely stay here again. Ask for Ms. Lara, who runs this hotel.


Hotel Paradise
Vicolo Cattani 7
40126 Bologna
Tel 39 051 231792
Fax 39 051 234591
Room Rate Quoted 76 Euros for a double room with private bathroom and breakfast.
I stayed in
room 306, which was an interior room. It was very quiet at night, which I liked after staying in Florence. My room had a large bed, tv, desk and two outlets, room safe, large mirror in the bedroom and bathroom with plenty of bright lights; hair dryer. The shower was small but larger than the one in Florence and with an accordian door. The bathroom also had a small window. A/C too! I would definitely stay here again. As in Florence, the service and people were very friendly. Good location, only a 10 minute walk to the main piazza in town. Good restaurants nearby (Maristoca and Il Portico).


Pensione La Calcina

Dorsoduro 780 - 30123 Venezia - Italy
Tel: 041.520.64.66 Fax: 041.522.70.45
E-Mail: info@lacalcina.com
I stayed at Pensione La Calcina for 5 nights (May 20th - 25th) and will state right away I will definitely return again! After being in Venice 4 times, this is the best place for me.

I got a quote of 106 Euros per night for a double room with private bathroom, a view of the Guidecca Canal, and buffet breakfast (with cash payment).

I stayed in
room 31, which faces the side canal; however, I could also see the Guidecca canal. My room was small with a single bed, closet, desk with lamp, chair, tv; mini bar; A/C; decent sized bathroom with shower and window in the shower; and a horrible vacuum type hair dryer. There's also a safe in the closet. This room is located on the third floor. No elevator but there is always someone around to lug the luggage up those flights of stairs. On the main level next to the reception desk is a telephone booth to make calls, as well as a computer for free Internet access. There is also a nice sitting area and a breakfast room.

Breakfast, which was terrific, is served either inside, outside on the terrace, or on the roof terrace (for additional 4.50 euros). I enjoyed the terrace outside, as it hung over the water. Cruise ships passed by on a daily basis. Breakfast was always filling with choices of breads, cereals, pastries, eggs, ham, cheese, coffee, tea, and juice. Service from all waiters was fabulous. They were busy all the time but always with a smile. They were very professional in their uniform. It made me feel like I was at a 5-star hotel.

I had dinner one night at the hotel, choosing their 32 Euro (rather than 22 Euro) menu for hotel guests. It was probably one of my best meals in Italy! Service was impeccable. If you are not staying at this hotel, I still recommend dining here.

The location of the hotel is great, as it's away from the touristy and always crowded San Marco (especially when more than two cruise ships are in port) area. It’s only a 15-minute walk to Piazza San Marco...if you don't stop to window shop along the way. The location is just down from the Zattare vaporetto stop, so there is no bridge to go over to get to the hotel. I highly recommend this place and will keep La Calcina as my choice for future trips to Venice.

Italy May 12 - 27, 2004

Albergo Diana

Via del Molinetto, 11
Lucca, Italy 55100
tele: 0583/492202
Email: info@albergodiana.com/
Quoted 67 Euros/night (Total came to $162.92), without breakfast, in the main building
POC: Mr. Giovanni Bellucci
We stayed in room 20 in the main building of the hotel, located on the first floor. It was a nice room and very basic. The
room had a king bed, desk, tv, armoire; large bathroom with toilet, bidet, and shower (no curtain - but there was a partial wall which kept most of the water in one spot).

The location of the hotel is excellent just inside the town walls and close to the main sights (well, Lucca is pretty small anyway). Limited parking is available for 5 Euros/day. There is also street parking outside the town walls, but that means about a 20 minute walk to the hotel. I would definitely stay at this small hotel again. The personnel were pretty friendly and helpful with recommendations.

Politian Apartments
via del Poliziano, 32
Montepulciano, Italy
tele: +39 0578 758822
Email: gstuart@lycos.it
POC: Mr. Giacomo Stuart
Quoted 400 Euros/week (Total of $488 for the week)
Rentals: Saturday to Saturday
We stayed in Apartment #1, located on the third floor of the building. We enjoyed the beautiful views from the living room and bedroom. It's a very nice apartment! We kept the windows open to enjoy the cool breeze that came through. There was terracotta style flooring, a living room with two couches (one fold-out), a fire place, small dining table, books to read, and a CD player with a few CDs. The bedroom was quite large with a king bed, dresser, armoire, nightstand. The kitchen had a small table, 2 chairs, refrigerator, stove, toaster, cooking utensils, pots, pans, etc. The bathroom was tiled and a was a good size room with tub (no curtain), toilet, bidet, sink, and even a small washing machine. Outside the window was a clothes line. In the small cabinet were cleaning agents, as well as a hair dryer (though mine worked much better). The apartment is in an exellent location, only a few minutes walk to the main piazza and restaurants. Parking is available along side the building.

Piccolo Oliveta
Via E.S. Piccolomini, 35
53110 Siena, Italy
Phone: 0577-283930, Fax: 0577-270009
Email: mail@oliveta.com
POC: Antonio and Alexandra
This was our second stay at Piccolo Hotel Oliveta. Antonio and Alexandra were wonderful hosts during our first visit, so we booked here again. We stayed again in room G, which was recently renovated. The room is large with twin beds, 2 chairs and a small round table at the opposite end, dresser, t.v.; the bathroom was near the entrance, while the shower stall was at the opposite end of the room. Our window had a partial view of the valley and the reception building. In the reception building, there is a computer/library room, a breakfast room, and a lounge/bar. We were quite comfortable at Oliveta. I can't say enough about Antonio and Alexandra! They were just wonderful throughout our stay.

Hotel Guelfa
via Guelfa, 28
Florence, Italy
tele: 055.215882
Quoted 85 Euros/night with continental breakfast (Total of $312 for three nights)
We stayed in room 24, which was very plain. The room had a king and a twin bed, small table with tv, and armoire. The carpeting needs to be replaced, as well as the "lock" on the bathroom door. The bathroom was very large with tub and curtain, toilet, bidet, and sink. Our room was very quiet as it faced a courtyard. I do not recommend the place based on a few things: Reenie complained about the tub because there was no stopper for her to take a bath; the cat that hangs around proceeded to use the tile floor of the lobby bathroom as its toilet; and the place needs to be updated, such as the carpeting. This hotel was recommended in Sandra Gustafson's Great Sleeps in Italy Book, so it was a big disappointment.

ITALY May 2003

Hotel Caneva

Castello 5515
Church Fava 30122 Venice
Phone: 522 8118
Fax: 5208676
Directions: Rialto stop, walk up Larga Mazzini, 2nd left on Aprile; 1st right C. Stagneri; over the bridge; walk to the right of the church; hotel just at the next corner.

Room #36; twin beds, head-to-head with a table and lamp in between and the sink in one corner next to the window. The floor was crooked, so we had to make sure the closet door was shut tight so it wouldn't swing open. There was a step up to the bathroom, which had an enclosed glass shower stall along with tile on the walls and floor. There was also a small t.v. in the corner. It wasn't the prettiest room I've been in, but for 90 Euros (100 Euros if you use a credit card), the place was fine for us.

ITALY November 2001

Locanda Leon Bianco ***
Cannaregio 5629
30131 Venice
Phone: 39-041-523-3572
Fax: 39-041-241-6392
Email: info@leonbianco.it
Cancellation policy: 48 hours
210,000 Lire per night with taxes, no breakfast
230,000 Lire per night with taxes and breakfast served in the room
Credit cards not accepted

DIRECTIONS: Catch the public boat no.1 and get off at the Ca' d'Oro stop. From the landing stage go to the right on Strada Nuova until the first bridge, cross it and turn right again.

Our room, #5, was very large with
twin beds put together, sitting area with a small round table and 2 chairs in the center, a hugh glass chandelier above the table, a decent size bathroom with toilet, bidet, sink, tiny shower with doors; hair dryer; ample storage space, and an armoire. The floor was marble, probably the original marble when the building was built. This hotel was in a great location, ugly entrance, (to the right the stairs) just a 5 minute walk from the Ca d' Oro stop and a little further to the Rialto bridge. Next to the hotel is an internet cafe, which charges 5.000L for 15 minutes.

Hotel Sole
Corso G. Mazzini, 35
06081 Assisi, Italy
Email: soleassisi@hotmail.com or sole@tecnonet.it
Fax: 039-075813706
Cancellation policy: 2 days
Paid with Visa

Room #62. Very basic room, large, clean, comfortable, for 4 people. Great
views from our window down to the valley and rooftops of the buildings below us. 1 King bed, 2 twins (one twin bed is located next to the entrance of the room, large bathroom with tub (no curtain); tv. Terrace with a bench and great views.

Piccolo Hotel Oliveta
Via E.S. Piccolomini, 35
53110 Siena
Phone: 0577-283930
Fax: 0577-270009
Email: mail@oliveta.com
POC: Antonio Ginanneschi (owner), Alexandra, and Serena
1 week cancellation policy
200.000L/night with buffet breakfast, parking, and all taxes.
Paid with Visa
This was our favorite hotel! Our hosts,
Alexandra and Antonio, were wonderful. They were very attentive, informative, and helpful to answer any questions we had. They provided suggestions for our stay and visit around the area. The hotel was once a farmhouse, then a student house. Our room "G" was quite large with twin beds, 2 chairs and a round table, dresser, t.v.; the bathroom was near the entrance, while the shower stall was at the opposite end of the room. This room was once 2 separate rooms. Our window had a partial view of the valley and the reception building. In the reception building, there is a computer/library room, the breakfast room, and a lounge/bar. Quite cozy and comfortable. We felt so much at home; were offered complementary wine and cheese one night, and were given small bottles of first pressed olive oil.

s.a.s. di Garbuzzi Alberto & C.
Via de Pinedo 1
21019 Somma Lombardo
Località Case Nuove, Malpensa
Phone: 0331-230821
Fax 0331.230156
email: hotelcervo@malpensa.it
160.000L/night with breakfast
Room #4 was nice with twin beds, large
bathrooom and heated towel racks. The hotel's restaurant served o.k. food, but not the best. Dinner was 64.000L.



Vicolo dei Chiodaroli, 9
00186 Roma
Phone: 011-39-06-687-5929
Fax: 011-39-06-8805-495.
We paid L160,000 per night. This hotel is in a great location as it is around the corner from the Campo di Fiori and within walking distance of the Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Trastevere, and other sights. The Largo Argentina bus stop is very close. Take the #64 from the Termini train station. The room was a nice size, comfortable bed, clean, and with our own private bathroom and t.v.

Accademia - Dorsoduro 878/a
30123 Venezia
Tele/fax: 041/520-4172
email: galleria@tin.it
Ask for Luciano or Stefano, both speak English; L150,000 per night with bathroom and breakfast in the room) next to the Accademia bridge. Great location. The room was very small yet clean. The bathroom was tiny and had a toilet, sink, and shower with a door. We had a room with a view of the Grand canal, though I wish there were balconies from the rooms.

Via Speronari 4, 2023, Milano.
Phone: 02-86-46-1125.
L130,000 with bathroom and t.v. ($75 per night). MC, V.
This hotel is your basic, simple, clean hotel in a good location. The only gripe Tony and I had was the bathroom. Very small! Because this hotel is in a good location, I'd probably stay here, but would ask to see the room first. The hotel is on a small pedestrian street, which has a wine shop and a bakery. The Duomo is just around the corner as well as the underground.

France Hotels

Paris, May 9-18, 2007

°11 - 32 rue Vieille du Temple 75004, Paris, France
75 Euros per night

I spent 9 nights in Paris and decided to rent a studio instead of staying in a hotel. My friend Louisa joined me for a week and although the place was small, we had no problems moving around. However, we did move the dresser next to the left side of the bed, near the refrigerator, as it was in the way when the bed was down. There was still room to open the refrigerator.

The location of this apartment is wonderful. The bakery in the building has wonderful pastries and breads. Make sure you open the windows in the morning to smell the fresh baked goods. Nadia, who works in the bakery was wonderful, as she would add in an extra goodie or two to our purchase. There are lots of wonderful cafes and bistros in the area and I felt quite safe at night, especially having three keys to get inside the building and studio. I would definitely stay again, even though I didn't use the kitchen or the washer/dryer. For the price and location, it was well worth it. Both Fabrice and Jean-Pierre were very nice and helpful.

France, May 2002

(Exchange rate of 1.08E to the $1)

3,rue Casimir-Delvagine 75006 Paris
Phone: 01-46-34-78-50
Fax: 01-46-34-06-27
Email: Resa@balcons.com
Price quoted: 90 Euros per night for a room for two people and all appropriate taxes.
This will be my third stay at Grand Hotel des Balcons. We stayed in room 401. It was a corner room with a twin and full size bed. There was a small balcony, a small closet, tv and full bathroom. The bathroom had a tub (no curtain) as well as a small window out the back. Room 16 (for our last portion of our trip), was smaller than #401, above. Same amenities, but not window in the bathroom.

26 Ave Albin Gilles
13210 Saint Remy de Provence
Phone: 33-40-92-32-17
Fax: 33-490-24-94-29.
Email: sourcesStRemy@aol.com
Contact: Philippe Boets
Price quoted: 45 Euros for their room
#7 which was renovated in March. See their web site for room details as well as map with location of their B&B and photos of our room #7. Philippe was a wonderful host, as well has his partner's wife Avern. This is a place I highly recommend for those that are looking for a quiet, simple place, with easy access to get in/out of town for those great Provence day trips. The B&B is located about a 10-minute walk from the center of town, which I liked better than being in town because of the traffic noise. Philippe has a boules court, which a group of us played one evening (see journal for details). In addition, there is a grocery store nearby. Our room had a small kitchen, so one evening we cooked our own dinner! We even had breakfast items on hand, which was great.

Thanks Philippe for your hospitality!!

20, rue Galante
84000 Avignon.
Phone: 33-490-800-885
Fax: 33-490-271-658.
Email: hotel-garlande@avignon-et-provence.com
Contact Ms. Michele Michelotte. Price quoted: 71.20 Euros per night for a room with twin beds.
Our room,
#7, was located on the second floor. The only thing negative about this place is there is no eleator and we had to lug our heavy suitcases up 2 flights of stairs (but one time up and one time down certainly can't beat the great location and price). Our room was a corner room with twin beds, a tv, table, armoir, and a bathroom with tub, curtain, and a small window. The room faced the pedestrian street, which was fairly quiet at night. The hotel is in a good location with restaurants and shopping nearby; and the train station is only a 10 minute walk away.

France, October 2000

3,rue Casimir-Delvagine 75006 Paris
Phone: 01-46-34-78-50
Fax: 01-46-34-06-27.
Email: hotel-balcons@gofornet.com.
620FF per night for the first two nights (room #601) and 525FF per night for the remaining 6 nights (room 305), plus taxes. Like last year, I enjoyed this hotel very much. Room 601 is a corner, top floor room, with a tiny balcony and great view of the Eiffel Tower! Although it's a distance away, we did enjoy the view, especially at night. The room has a twin bed and a full sized bed. The room was small and because it was a corner room, the base of the beds were close together. Room 305 was a little more roomy with twin beds and a larger balcony. Our total bill for 8 nights was $570.54.

France, May 1999.


3,rue Casimir-Delvagine 75006
Phone: 01-46-34-78-50
Fax: 01-46-34-06-27
Email: hotel-balcons@gofornet.com
505FF ($83 per night) for a double room with private bathroom. This hotel was in a very good location, just a few minutes walk to the Odeon Metro, the Luxembourg gardens, and the Buci market. There are many restaurants and cafes in this area which we enjoyed. Our room, #102 was very nice. It faced the street, but don't let that bother you. It was fairly quiet at night. The hotel is located on a small street, so there is not a lot of traffic in the evenings. We stayed at this hotel on our last night in Paris, room #30 on the ground floor. This was a good sized room and also comforatable. The hotel provides wash clothes and had a t.v.

29 rue Cler
75007 Paris France
Phone: 01-47-05-49-15
Fax: 01-47-50-49-36
400FF ($67 per night)for a twin bedroom with private bathroom. We stayed in room #59, an inside room. The room had a t.v., hair dryer, and a safe. This hotel is also in a great location. The 7th arr. is a residential area and is quiet in the evenings compared to the more lively areas of the 5th/6th arr. Rue Cler is a wonderful pedestrian street filled with various food shops: cheese and wine shops, meat market, vegetable markets, cafes, a bread shop on one corner which serves breakfast as well. The Eiffel Tower is about a 10 minute walk away and the nearest metro is 2 blocks away.

21 rue Saint-Patrice
14400, Bayeux, Normandy.
Phone 33-2-31-92-88-86
450FF per night, included all taxes. We stayed in the main house overlooking the garden. There is another building around the corner. The room was quite big with both a twin and queen bed. The bathroom was very large and included a tub, no shower curtain, with a hand-held shower spray. A t.v. and mini bar was in the room. Parking is free, though limited space (about 8-10 cars). Very good location, about a 7-10 minute walk to the tourist office, the Tapestry museum and other main sights. Across the street in the plaza there is a great market held on Saturdays.

FRANCE, October 1997.

My Mom and I were supposed to travel to Italy (October 1997), but as stand-by passengers, we couldn't get on board as the flight was overbooked. We found out that the flights to Italy were overbooked for the next several days. We decided that since there were two flights a day to Paris, we would go there. My husband and his father dropped us off at one of the hotels at the airports(this was in Philadelphia) I pulled out all my Italy information from my suitcase since I obviously didn't need them for France (maps, books, hotel confirmation letters, etc). I asked my father-in-law, who is Italian, to call the hotels in Italy to cancel our reservations. The next day, Mom and I headed into town to buy new books: a French phrase book and travel guide book (Frommer's 1997 guidebook on France). We easily got on board the first flight to Paris and we were off! Talk about a spontaneous trip! As I normally take several months to plan my trip making hotel reservations, train reservations, etc., it was a little scary at first not knowing what we were going to do or where we were going to visit. Upon arrival in Paris, I called one hotel listed in the travel book, Hotel Le Home Latin, listed below. We went through 2 hotels before settling into our "Paris home." This turned out to be a wonderful trip in France. I just had to stop every few days to plan for the next few days. Making last minute reservations at hotels was pretty easy. The French people were great and helpful (with the exception of the rude woman at Hotel Diana). Here are the hotels we stayed while in France, 1997.

15 et 17, rue du Sommerard
75005, Paris
Phone: 33-1-43-26-25-21
Fax: 3-1-43-29-87-04.
440FF double bed and private bathroom ($75 per night). MC. My Mom and I stayed here just one night as the hotel was fully booked the following nights. This room was on the ground floor and was small. I understand that rooms on the upper levels are larger and more comfortable. The hotel is near two metros: St. Michel and Maubert-Mutualite, about a 5 minute walk away. This hotel is in the heart of the Latin Quarter.

73, rue Saint-Jacques
75005, Paris
Phone: 33-1-43-54-92-55
450FF for twin beds and private bathroom ($77 per night). MC, V. We stayed here just one night. The room was fairly nice with the exception of the beds! Lumpy, lop-sided, uncomfortable. On our way out for the day, after a bad night sleep, I asked the woman at the desk (must have been the grandmother) if we could have another room. I explained to her the beds were very uncomfortable. She spat at me and said in a nasty tone, "Go to another hotel!" I was so startled. We like the hotel, location, and price, but not the beds. She didn't care to hear anything else I had to say. The younger woman came into the room and explained that new beds were to be delivered in a week (I didn't believe that) and stated if we didn't like the place we should find another hotel. So, we walked out and spent 1/2 hour looking for another hotel. We found one, came back to pack our bags, and checked out of the hotel. We headed to Hotel Studia.

51 Blvd. St. Germain
75005, Paris
P365FF with 2 full sized beds, shower and sink (toilet across the hall) ($63 per night). V. We didn't care for the toilet being across the hallway (shower and sink in the room), but the other rooms with private bathrooms were booked. The hotel is next to the Maubert-Mutulaite metro stop, which was very convenient. Also next to the metro was an outdoor roving market. The beds were comfortable and the room included a small balcony facing Blvd. St. Germain. We would pull our two chairs onto the balcony and write in our journals or write our postcards while watching people walk by. It was noisy at night if the windows were left open. We also stayed at this hotel for the last 6 nights in Paris. The second room was much nicer as it had a complete private bathroom, but a smaller balcony. We couldn't put our chairs on the balcony. 384FF ($65 per night).

21 rue Berthelot
37000, Tours, France
Phone: 02-47-05-46-44
Fax: 47-66-10-26
350FF with twin beds and a very nice private bathroom ($62 per night). MC. I selected this hotel from the Frommer's book as it had a nice description about the hotel. At first we were disappointed when we walked to the hotel from the train station (10 minutes) to find that it's actually a 3*** Best Western. We NEVER stay in American hotels in Europe! However, this was not a typical American hotel. It was very nice and well priced. Our room was on the top floor (4th) and we had a wonderful view of the rooftops of Tours. The view from the bathroom was of the Cathedral, which was lit up at night. The hotel is in a good location, just a 5 minute from the old town area and around the corner from a pedestrian street with several restaurants. The owner was friendly and everyday we were greeted in the lobby by her 2 french poodles.

London Restaurants, May 2005

I spent a few nights in London before going on a 2-week Baltic Sea cruise. London is very expensive, especially for dining, but I think I managed well for the most part.

Pret A Manger
These sandwhich shops are located all over london! Sometimes I saw 2 within the same block. Excellent, fresh made sandwiches, salads and soups. See the following link to their menu: http://www.pret.com/menu/ 3.30£


This is another chain restaurant located all over London. They serve a variety of saimin, ramin, and noodle soups; rice dishes, etc. I had a delicious Japanese chicken saimin soup for lunch at Wagamama’s next door to the Tower of London. The meal, with a glass of wine, was a little pricey: 11.25£. The restaurant filled up quickly with tourists and area office workers.

Very good Indian food with regular menu along with a Regional menu to choose from. Service was good but watch out if you use a credit card to pay for your meal. I was charged with a higher exchange rate by doing the exchange rate themselves rather than putting the charge through “normally” where the bank would convert the exchange rate. Pay in cash! 14.90£


I ordered from their Pre-Theatre menu, available 4-6:30pm. Excellent potato/leek soup served with sourdough bread and for my entree the Brown’s Steak, mushroom, and Guinness Pie with mashed potatoes and string beans. 12.50£

Bluu Grass
6 Plender Street
Tel: 08713325053
Excellent Vietnamese food. I met my friend Kavey at one of the nearby tube stops and we had an enjoyable dinner sharing a few appetizers, followed by our entrees. 14.70£

Rock and Sole Plaice
Wonderful fish and chips; however, when paying the bill with my credit card, I ran into the same situation as Chowki. So, I didn’t leave any tip! It’s places like this that makes it hard to recommend. The food was excellent (loved the batter on the fish) but when a place rips a person off by charging at a much higher exchange rate, who wants to go there?? 10£

Note: The exchange rate at the time was $1.00 to 1.89£.

San Diego Restaurants, April 2006

I spent a week in San Diego, part pleasure, part business. Most restaurants in the Downtown area are expensive but I think were well worth the price.

The Fish Market
750 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
PH: (619) 232-3474
Panko Calamari; Louise Shrimp Salad; glass of Chardonnay. $29.86

Anthony's Fish Grotto
1360 N. Harbor drive
I had a late "snack" of their clam chowder and a couple of glasses of wine. Although I asked for their "house" wine, they were expensive. $20.70

Busters Beach House
807 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
Telephone: (619) 233-4300
I ordered the 1/2 stack of pancakes, which I could eat only 1/2 of that! With some hot tea, my meal came to $10.

Charlie's at Cardiff by the Sea
Jeff and I shared their chicken quesadillas and had a round of drinks. $15.

275 Fifth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 233-4323
Dinner was excellent. I ordered a glass of white wine and their ragu Bolognese. The prices were very reasonable. As my starter, I had some delicious olive bread, sourdough bread, and flat bread with olive tapenade, a sweet butter, and hummus. (I could have had that as my meal! I could eat only 1/2 of my meal and took the rest back to the hotel. $27.27.

Old Town Mexican Cafe
2489 San Diego Ave
San Diego, CA 92110
Tel: (619) 297-4330
I sat at the bar, as the wait was at least 45 minutes to an hour. I enjoyed one of the house specialties: Pork Carnitas served with tortillas, cilantro, onion, avocado, tomatoes and beans with shredded cheese on top. Also, wedges of lime were included to squeeze on the food. I also enjoyed the 1800 Cadillac margarita, made with 1800 Reposado Tequila and Grand Marnier. Approx $20.

Fresh Seafood Restaurant
1044 Wall Street
La Jolla, CA 92037
Potato Leek soup; Coriander Crusted Mahi Mahi served with a shrimp risotto and port reduction ($25.95). Pat ordered the White Prawn Crusted Seabass served with spinach. With a couple of glasses of wine (Campagnola) and tip, my meal came to $58.27.

Miguel's Cucina
2912 Shelter Island Drive
Chicken quesadilla Suprema with avocado, melted cheese, and sour cream (very good and quite filling). They also serve with their tortilla chips a white cheese dip, salsa, and pickled carrots. $11.

Star of India Express
Horton's Plaza
Store e-22 (food court)
Telephone: 858-453-5300
Chicken tikka kabab; Ground beef dish with peas and carrots; basmatti rice and nan; two beef Samosas; bottled water. $11.29.

Andre's Cuban Restaurant
1235 Morena Boulevard
Ropa Vieja: Shredded beef simmered with onions, green peppers and tomatoes in a delicate wine sauce. Served with rice and Cuban style black beans. They also served some bread, which was drizzled with olive oil and garlic. I had a glass of house red wine. $23.88.

Dakota Grill and Spirits
901 Fifth Avenue
I dined here with friend Melissa, who flew in from Hawaii. We started our meal with the Bacon Wrapped Sea Scallops (3 huge scallops) with sautéed wild mushrooms drizzled with a balsamic reduction. They were delicious and perfectly cooked ($10.95). For our entree, we ordered the Mixed Rotisserie for Two, consisting of a pork prime rib, half chicken, and beef tenderloin (cooked rare - perfect), served with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans ($42.95). I thought this was a very good deal compared to the other very expensive menu items for 1 person. Along with two glasses of wine and tip, my bill came to $49.51.

San Diego Pier Cafe
885 West Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
Cup of clam chowder (not much, if any, clams in the soup, although a good flavor); Salmon Coronado (a chef specialty): Grilled fresh salmon filet over avocado tomato salsa with white wine sauce and fresh basil. Served with rice. The sourdough rolls (3) were huge. I also had a glass of Chardonnay. This meal was probably one of the better-priced meals and it was very good. $40.31.

Mister Tiki Mai Tai Lounge
801 Fifth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Tasty Haole Mai Tai. $8. The bartender paid for my drink, so I tipped him well.

NYC Restaurants, Jan 2003

Tony and I spent a couple of nights in New York City and we had some very good meals.

John's Pizzeria
260 W. 44th Street
Between Broadway and 8th Avenue
(Closer to 8th)
This place is across the street from the Milford Plaza. They have absolutely delicious pizza! It's the kind of pizza many people talk about: thin crust and foldable. We had a small sausage and black office pizza. They charge $11 for the small plus $2.50 per topping. We also had a glass of wine (Tony had beer).

23 W. 32nd Street
Between Broadway and 5th Avenue
(Closer to Broadway)
Korean barbeque
There are two floors to this restaurant. Upstairs is where the barbeque tables are located. We had a great meal here. We had the Bulgogi and Kalbi beef. At the table the guests cook their own meats. The waitresses do come around to assist. Along with the meats, we were served side dishes of kimchee, rice, pickled vegetables, a tasty dipping sauce, and lettuce leaves. Lettuce leaves are used to wrap the cooked meat. They also served crab, but we couldn't get the meat out. Needed a knife and the crab was covered in a sauce. Didn't want to mess with that. We had 2 bottles of sake. This place is open 24 hours! $65

200 W. 44th St
Between Broadway and 8th Avenue
(Closer to Broadway)
Carmine's was a fun place to dine. We didn't have reservations, but were placed on the waiting list. We were told "come back in an hour and check again." About 50 minutes later, we did. We only waited 3 minutes before they sat us. Although they take reservations for parties of 6 or more, the waitress told us to call ahead next time and make our reservations. Plates averaged $20. We enjoyed their huge platter of Veal Parmesan as well as their Penne a la Vodka (marinara sauce with cream and vodka). We couldn't finish it all, but did squeeze in a cannoli for dessert. It's best to visit Carmine's with a minimum of 3 people. We saw platters such as their salad piled high.

Kat's Delicatessen
205 E. Houston Street
(on Corner of Lodlow Street)
Lower East Side
We took the subway F to Second Avenue. From there it was a 5-7 minute walk to Kat's. Approx. $10 for the Pastrami. I had ½ sandwich and chicken noodle soup for about $9. Excellent food.

Restaurants in Greece

Greece 2001

We found the food in Greece to be very inexpensive. Local wines were very good. We even purchased a 5 liter container of local white wine to keep in our room, which was only about $4.70! After a couple of days when we were heading to the next island, we poured the wine into 2 empty water bottles. We never did finish it as there was too much! The beer selection was limited, but their local beer was also good. The gyros were delicious and for about $1.15, great deals for lunch (or breakfast). Most of the menus had the same typical Greek dishes as well as a variety of seafood and fish dishes. The meze platters can serve as a main meal as they are filling. We did this a couple of times.


The Flame of the Volcano

Phone: 0286-25245
Visa accepted
This restaurant
is on the main street of Fira, heading towards Firastefani, about 100 meters past the cable car. We enjoyed fried calamari, an eggplant spread, taramasolata, moussaka, pork souvlaki, white wine and beer. $31.

This little place is across the street and up a block from the local bus stop. We enjoyed delicious gyros! 450DR, or about $1.15. Other gyros (chicken, lamb) were served as well as kebabs. We had lunch here two times as take outs. We took them back to our hotel and enjoyed them on our balcony. These were the best gyros we’ve ever tasted!

Phone: 0286-24550
This place has no menu, but a blackboard of the days specials. We enjoyed taramasolata as an appetizer, then stuff squid with rice and potatoes; Tony had moussaka again! Wine and beer. $17. Very good meal and inexpensive! The place was packed with locals and tourists.

Phone: 0286-23203
Credit cards accepted
On the caldera rim, next to the cable car. We enjoyed a greek appetizer
plate of stuffed vine leaves, feta cheese, eggplant salad, tzatziki, olives. We also had fried eggplant topped with shredded cheese. When the bread was brought out, they also included a small serving of bluecheese dip. For our main entre, I had lamb with cheese and tomatoes wrapped and baked in foil; Tony had fried calamari. We enjoyed a 1/2 bottle of Santorini wine; beer. This was an excellent meal. $37/


Kellari Restaurant

Port area of Naxos
Phone: 0285-22395
Pizza place with Greek food. We had their margarita pizza. We were also served bread. We had dessert and ouzo complimentary of the
manager. We purchased two carafs of wine and while enjoying our chat with the manager, he brought us a caraf of wine, compliments from him. Very nice man. $9. A very inexpensive meal indeed!

Port area
One man was grilling octopus, calamari, cuttle fish, sardines, etc. We dined here two times! The grilled octopus was fabulous! as well as the calamari and cuttle fish. The first night we had two plates of octopus and calamari with beer and wine for about $16; the next night we had three plates: octopus, calamari, and a combination of calamari and cuttle fish. We also tzatziki, 3 carafs of wine and a beer. Paid about $26.

In Apirathos, a hillside town in Naxos, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at a taverna. We had a plate of assorted cheese, moussaka (me this time), grilled chicken with potatoes; delicious fresh bread, and a couple of diet cokes. $15.


Distrato Cafe
In Paros town in the shopping/tourist area, we enjoyed a grilled sandwich with salami, mozarel, tomatoes, and olives; as well as a meze platter of tzatziki, olives, cucumber, tomatoes, cheese, and meat. We obviously ordered too much food. The sandwich was hugh! We could have had the sandwich or the meze platter. We also had 2 house wines and 2 beers. $14.

On the waterfront
Phone: 23410
Credit cards accepted
Prior to getting to this restaurant, Tony noticed one of the transformers on an electric pole was sparking. He said, "that's not supposed to do that." Well, just as we got to the restaurant, the power went out for the whole port area. Buildings and homes in the distance were fine. So we dined by candle light. Our food selection was limited to foods prepared via gas. We started with an assorted cheese plate and pickled octopus, followed by fried mullet and fried shark. All was delicious, including the shark. We had a bottle of Paros wine (a little pricy), which was very good. $32.

Kutsuras, Naoussa
On the waterfront
We were hungry after driving around the island. We enjoyed taramasolata, grilled shrimp with fries, and fried calamari; diet coke and 1/2 liter of white wine. $17. Several of the local fishermen were enjoying their wine and ouzo and singing songs. When do they work?

Across the street from the port. A place for gyro's. $3.50 for 2 gyro's and a coke.


Near the Cathedral
We had fried eggplant, moussaka, and lamb with vegetables baked in parchment paper; 1/2 liter of wine and beer. $17. The food was very good.

On the south side of the port.
Phone: 22297
This restaurant was recommended in the Frommer's guidebook. We Skipped having an appetizer. We had lamb cooked in a ceramic pot; I had a delicious meal of chicken, mushrooms, and bits of bacon in a cream, garlic sauce. It was rich and delicious. Their menu was different than the typical Greek menus. We also had their local white wine. This was one of our best meals. $17.

Picnic Lunch:
For our 5 hour boat trip from Paros to Piraeus/Athens, we went to the grocery store that morning and purchased a picnic lunch. I had read that the food on the boats were expensive. We purchased a loaf of fresh baked bread, cheese, salami, taramasolata, and marinated octopus. We also bought a can of dolmades, but didn't eat them. So, with our food and local wine, we enjoyed a delicious meal for about $8.


Kouklis Ouzerie
Tripodon, 14, Plaka
place serves a dozen different mezes. The waiter brings a hugh serving platter where you can pick and choose which meze you want. We had tzatziki, eggplant, meatballs, calamari with onions and escarole, and stuffed vine leaves. There were other plates to choose from such as beans, sausage, etc. The choice of plates changes (maybe on a daily basis). A bottle of house red Krasi wine as well as a bottle of water is included in the meal. Delicious meal! $19.

10 Agion Anargiron, near the Iroon square.
Phone: 3215-368
Behind our hotel a couple of blocks away is the Psiri area. There were lots of restaurants in this area. We didn't see too many tourists, but locals, especially young people. For lunch Tony had a sausage and peppers in tomato-based sauce and I had pork, cheese, and vegetables baked in parchment. Beer, wine. $21.

Taverna Platanos
4 Diogenous Street, Plaka
We had a hugh meal. Two spinach pies (one is large enough to share), eggplant salad, lamb with eggplant and lamb with peas. We had a bottle of Santorini Boutari white wine. Delicious, filling meal. $29. A Frommer's recommendation.

Taverna Sigalas

#2 Plateia Monastiraki Square, across the metro.
Donar kebabs for lunch with 2 beers and 1/2 liter of white wine. $14. Delicious kebabs. This restaurant is filled both at lunch and dinner. The restaurant next door is owned by the same owner. Walking by these two places in the a.m. you can see the large gyros being cooked. By the afternoon, they are practically gone.

18, Kidathineon Street
PlakaOur last meal in Athens. We enjoyed delicious calamari, fried zucchini with garlic dip; hard cheese; and eggplant/cheese croquettes; 1/2 liter of white wine. $20.

Restaurants in Spain



Jerusalem 18
Back side of the Mercardo

Both Mom and I had their large mixed salad (with lousy tomatoes, when just 10 feet is the wonderful mercardo with its beautiful displays of fruits); excellent sausage with white beans in a garlic and parsley sauce; bottled water; bread. 24.20 Euros/$28.16

Mikel Etxea
C/ Ferran 15
Our meal started with house red wine and a plate of cooked pulpo - octopus cooked in a spicy paprika sauce. We also tried several other tapas, which were delicious. Great choices in tapas in a variety of prices. About $40 for the two of us.

Restaurant El Port Vell
Along the port
Bottle of house wine; steak with a blue cheese topping; potatoes. Mom's steak was tender, while only 1/2 of my steak was tender (and I like it rare). My recommendation is to stick to the tapas and typical Spanish foods. $40.

Spain 1996


Calle Ferran, 16, Barcelona
Off the Ramblas
I had a great fish soup and a steak dinner. My Mother had small meal of fried calamari. White house wine included. $16

Santa Ana

Santa Ana, Barcelona.
Next door to Hotel Cortez. I dined on lamb shoulder with wild mushrooms, a huge salad with sardines, anchovies and tuna. My Mom had salmon in a cream champagne sauce. We had a very dry white wine called Bach. $41

Calle Jaime, Zaragoza.
This is near the Basilica. For lunch we had fried calamari, fish, asparagus, and a delicious potato salad. We had wine with our meal and flan for dessert. $29.

TAPAS: We had wonderful tapas at the following places in Zaragoza:

- TABERNA de CARLOS, on Calle Flandro

- EL TIO on calle A. Augustin

- CASA LUIS on Romea, 8, recommended from the Frommer's guidebook.

All had a very good variety of tapas and we were the only tourists there! We enjoyed: Fried calamari, salmon on toast, gambas (shrimp) in garlic oil, battered/buttterflied anchovies, pate, mushrooms, Spanish omlets, octopus. El Tio was a lively place packed with locals.


Plaza Mayor, Madrid.
We ate here a few times in 1994 and 1996. I had ribs, salad; Mom had chicken in a cream sauce with a salad; wine. $43. Another time we had roast-suckling pig. This restaurant is located two doors down from the famous Casa Botin, where Hemingway used to dine here. (1996 and 1994).

Espoz y Mina #20,
Off the Puerta del Sol, Madrid.
The owner, Ramon Val Leocadio was a very nice man. He treated us like we were his most special guests and had great food. We had pork, salad, wine, bread, and flan for $17.50. On another night we had breaded veal with fries, a mixed salad, wine, bread, and flan (love that flan!) (1996).


C. Meson de Moro 6, Seville.
This is off Calle Mateos Gago where we stayed at Hostal Goya (one of our favorite hotels). This restaurant, recommended by the Frommer's guidebook, is located inside an old Arab bathhouse. Great Italian food and great prices. We ate here twice we enjoyed it so much. Get there as it opens because it packs up quickly. We had Scalopini de Gorgonzola with fettucini, salad, and wine. Moms scalopini came with a marsala sauce; tiramisu for dessert. $34. Another time I had a lasagna type dish, which came in a casserole (hot and bubbly) with mortadella, cheese, tomato and eggplant. Mom had crepes with ham and mushrooms in a bechamel sauce; red wine and tiramisu ($27). Very good meals here! (1996).

Directly down from the bullring in Ronda. An interesting ham and egg soup; salad; pork in a wine sauce; lamb; red wine. On the house, Mom enjoyed a brandy and I had their apple liquor. $35. (1996).

Restaurants in Germany

Germany 2000

Hotel Cafe Post

Rheinuferstrasse 2a
Assmannshausen am Rhein
email: jhoetger@sparkasse.net
We enjoyed dinner here two nights. This is the hotel we stayed in while on the Rhine. Many small hotels have their own restaurants serving very good food. The food was prepared by Herr Hoetger's son, who also prepared the breakfasts. The meals were very good and reasonably priced. Our first night on the Rhine (and in Germany), we enjoyed dinner with new friends Miriam and Oliver Berk. They are from Germany and live in Frankfurt. We had a great night enjoying wine, beer, and dinner. In season during the spring is the wonderful, delicious white asparagus. Many German menus include several creations of this delicate vegetable. I enjoyed their white asparagus cream soup, followed by a breaded pork cutlet and more white asparagus with a hollandaise sauce. Just divine! Dinner with several drinks averaged about $40 per person. I enjoyed the local Reisling.

For breakfast, we had an assortment of meats, cheese, bread, soft-boiled eggs, orange juice, coffee, and tea. This was included in the price of our hotel price. Frau Hoetger served her guests every morning.

The hotel also has a small outdoor dining area where one can sit out and enjoy the Rhine River views. Barges and boats pass by all day long.

Zum Bomstein
Trier, Haptmarkt 5
We enjoyed dining in their biergarten. We had a typical German lunch consisting of Bratwurst and sauerkraut. Tony had a beer or two and I had white wine. $25.

Hotel Eger-Delfterstuben
Lorcher Strabe 5
Phone: 06722/2766
This hotel had good food. We dined here on a Monday night, so the place was pretty quiet. We both enjoyed their schweineschnitzel for the main course. With dessert, Reisling for me and beer for Tony, our meal was $22.

Pasha Grill Haus
For lunch I enjoyed their lamb kebab with rice and a salad, while Tony had a gyro. Lunch was inexpensive and quite good. $12.50.

Obere Schmiedgasse, 3
We had their sauerbraten, loin of pork, spatzel, and a salad. Wine and beer. $32.

Marktplatz 6
This place served a delicious white asparagus soup. I also had a hugh salad with artichokes, ham, and cheese. Tony had bratwurste with sourkraut. $25.

Kirchplatz 8
For appetizers, we had smoked salmon and escargots. We both enjoyed their weinerschnitzel with spatzel; beer and wine. We had dessert too, but I don't remember what we had. $54. This was one of our best meals in Germany.

Landgasthof u. Cafe
Schonach-Hof, Hohenfurch
This was our hotel while visiting Bavaria. We enjoyed their delicious Jagerschnitzel with a mushroom, cream sauce as well as their Schlemmerschnitzel. Salads were included and I enjoyed their Reisling wine. Dinner for the two of us was $39. We enjoyed this meal so much we switched plates 2 nights later (paid $25 - must have had less wine than the other night).

Post Hotel
We both enjoyed their grilled pork chop stuffed with spinach and hollandaise sauce with potato croquettes, wine and beer. $34.

Weinstrasse #1
Just off the Marienplatz, Munich
We dined here two nights enjoying foods such as pork schnitzel with mushroom cream sauce, a large pork shank with potatos; beer and wine $28. The second visit we had wiener schnitzel, potatoes, and a salad, beer, wine. We shared a table with 3 students. The place was filled that evening. We had such a nice evening with them that we treated them to dinner. $65 for the 5 of us! This place was very inexpensive. No meal was over 12DM. Salads were extra.

Next to our hotel, Blauer Bock
We enjoyed a very good greek meal and beer and wine for about $25.

Glockl am Dom
While Tony was off sightseeing at an old airport, I wandered around Munich and found this place. For $6.50, I enjoyed their Nurnberger Bratwurst and potato salad, with a glass of Reisling.

Restaurants in Hawaii

October 2005

Oahu Dining

Tiki’s Bar

Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
Second Level
2570 Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96815
Kalua Pig Quesadilla: Grilled taro tortilla filled with Kalua pig, Pepper Jack cheese and island corn relish served with guacamole, caramelized Maui onions and sour cream. This was an excellent appetizer that Tony and I shared with our friend Melissa. I wouldn’t wait to return to Tiki’s to have it again! This is a definitely “must order” dish. For my main entrée, I ordered the Ahi w/cajun seasoning and kalua mashed potatoes. Tony ordered the Opah. The bill was very inexpensive, as Melissa had a coupon for the quesadillas and the manager came by and took off $20. Total for the two of us came to about $40, which included a round of Mai Tai’s.

Big City Diner
108 Hekili St.
Kailua, HI 96734
Tony and I dined here with his sister Doris and her husband Bill. The place was packed with locals enjoying the variety of food that the diner serves. I enjoyed the pan-seared salmon with fresh sautéed spinach, along with fried rice and a salad. Tony ordered the meatloaf, which he liked. We all shared some appetizers, including the calamari and steak appetizer. My sister-in-law likes this location better than the one at Ward avenue (less crowded and friendlier service). Portions were large, with the exception of the appetizers – better for 2 people than 4.

Duke’s Canoe Club
At The Outrigger Waikiki Hotel
2335 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 116
Honolulu, Oahu, HI
tel. (808) 922-2268
This was our second visit to Duke's. We ordered the ahi poke (raw ahi with Maui onions and sautéed in rice paper), which was wonderful! Tony wanted to order the Ono, but they ran out, so he ordered the same dish as me: Opah, lightly covered with a parmesan cheese/macadamia nut/breadcrumb seasoning and pan seared. With the salad bar, which we enjoyed the Caesar salad, and fresh baked bread, I couldn't finish my dinner. The dish also included rice. We ended our meal with the Hula Pie. Yum! We had a nice table facing the beach and enjoyed the live entertainment that went from table to table. The next time we're in Hawaii, we'll head back to Dukes. Since this place is always packed, be sure to make dinner reservations. The bill with a few round of drinks (and included Doris’ dinner – Tony’s sister) came to $140.

Keo’s Thai Restaurant
2375 Kuhio Ave.
Honolulu, Hawaii
This was our third visit to Keo’s and enjoyed our meal. We started with their famous spring rolls, which you wrap in lettuce and top with chopped peanuts. Our other appetizer was their shrimp, which was wrapped in a pastry with mushrooms, water chestnuts and chives and deep-fried. We shared the Pad Thai and Pork with Basil dish. Everything was very good and tasty. With wine and beer for our drinks, our meal totaled $66, which we felt was quite reasonable.

2146 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii
This is a ramen-type noodle shop filled with Japanese tourists. In addition to the many noodle soups to choose from, they have fried rice, gyoza, and fried noodle dishes. Tony had the lunch special: Charsui ramen, which came with fried rice and 4 gyoza for $9. I believe my soup was close to $8. The lunch special was a great deal but there was no way I could eat all that food for lunch. $22.

Plumeria Beach House,
at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel
5000 Kahala Avenue, Honolulu HI 96816
We dined here with Doris Ching, who treated us to a wonderful meal. This restaurant had an excellent buffet. We had sashimi, which included tuna, salmon, shrimp, etc; main entrees were baked salmon and prime rib. There was a nice selection of salads, fresh baked bread fresh fruits, and of course desserts Our table faced the ocean. Part of the restaurant is under roof, while the rest of the tables are under large umbrellas. Service was exceptional. I believe the buffet was about $35 per person.

Yummy Korean BBQ
Koko Marina
Hawaii Kai Shopping Center
Excellent plate lunches here. I ordered the Kalbi ribs and spicy chicken and Tony ordered the Kalbi ribs and an egg battered steak (thinly sliced). The place lunches include 2 scoops of rice and four choices of vegetables. There must have been 15 vegetable choices. We had the kim chee, pickled sprouts, tofu, pickled cabbage, pickled radish, etc. $19.

Big Island Dining

Lava Rock Café

Volcano, Hawaii
We both had the saimin soup for lunch. Just average. Certainly not as good as at Ezogiku. $20

Thai Thai
19-4084 Volcano Road
Volcano Village, HI 96785
(Volcano District)
Tel. (808) 967-7969
Tony only had their spring rolls, as he wasn’t very hungry. I had a curry dish with chicken (or pork – I didn’t write it down), which was very good. It wasn’t the typical panang curry that you can order in most Thai restaurants. This had a unique flavor. $32.00.

Keauhou Resort– Veranda Bar
We snacked on the kalua pig quesadillas. Not as good as Tiki’s in Waikiki, but still enjoyable. We had a bunch of drinks, so the bar bill was expensive: $48 A couple of days later we bought a large bottle of Mai Tai mix and dark room and were able to save on our bar bills.

Keauhou Resort – Main dining room
I Ordered Ono, which came with mashed potatoes and sautéed bok choy. Tony ordered the fish and chips.

Kimo’s at Uncle Billy’s Kona Bay Hotel
Breakfast buffet. Decent food for breakfast and cheap! $16

L&L Drive In
75-5595 Palani Rd., Unit A-6, Kailua-Kona
Good plate lunches, especially the chicken katsu served with 2 scoops of rice and macaroni salad. Tony had the pork cutlet, which had a gravy on top. Sodas. $13.

Drysdale’s Two
Keauhou Shopping Village
78-6831 Alii Dr., Keauhou, Hawaii
Late evening snack of chili nachos (average) and drinks. $27. This is a sportsbar, which wasn’t crowded the evening we were there. This place was recommended to us by a waitress at the Keauhou resort. The hotel’s dining rooms were closed for the evening.

75-5591 Palani Rd, Kailua Kona, HI
ood Filippino food but they didn’t have any lumpias! We were very disappointed with that. I ordered a combo of squid in a tomato sauce and chicken adobo. Tony had the pork adobo. Salad and rice were included. Lots of locals were dining here. This is located/attached to a bowling center. $17.50.

Waimea Ranch House
65-1144 Mamalahoa Highway Kamuela, HI
Very good dinner here. Expensive but worth every penny…with the exception of my $9 glass of wine that I had at the bar while waiting for our table – I switched to a house wine for dinner. We started with a baked mozzarella and fontina cheese with marinara sauce appetizer. With this dish, we knew the portions would be huge. I had their filet mignon, topped with gorgonzola and merlot sauce. It included mashed potatoes and zucchini. Tony had the NY strip. It wasn’t as thick as he likes them but he stated his steak was cooked perfectly. Salads were extra, but we certainly need need anything else. $90.43. I highly recommend this place.

Choice Mart
Captain Cook, Hawaii
This grocery store had a small selection of plate lunch options. We ordered one to share: kalbi ribs and shoyu chicken. As usual, it came with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad…all for $7.80! Grocery stores are a good option for inexpensive lunches. We had picked up some sushi another night for about $6 and there were 12-14 pieces. Very reasonable.

Rios Seafood Grill and Bar
Coconut Grove Marketplace
75-5805 Alii Drive, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Tony was disappointed with the size of the fish (Wahu) he ordered (although he liked the flavor). The waiter stated he always checks to make sure everything is correct, but apparently didn’t see Tony’s dish. The waiter took of the price of my Mai Tai. I had the macademia pesto Opakapaka, which was excellent, and mashed potatoes. Dinner and drinks: $64.08.

75-5819 Alii Drive. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Average food and slow service (only 1 cook working). I had the spicy chicken quesadillas with a tomato tortilla and Tony ordered a burger topped with peanut butter. The burger came out over cooked and very dry. We were getting impatient, as we wanted lunch before our flight back to Honolulu, so we asked the waiter if they could make another burger in a timely manner. No problem with that and the burger came out properly cooked: however, the burger looked like it was one of those pre-made patties that they just heated up in a pan for a few mintues. $26.15.

October 2002

Oahu Restaurants

Keo's Thai
2028 Kuhio Avenue
Waikiki, Hawaii 96815
We had an excellent meal starting with their famous spring rolls (take a lettuce leaf, add a little of the sauce in the center, top with the spring roll, wrap and eat), evil jungle prince chicken; eggplant w/beef, and phad Thai. Mai Tai's white wine. $75.36. We dined here in 1988 while on our honeymoon. At that time, the restaurant was located in a different area of Waikiki.

Hale Koa Room
Hale Koa Hotel, Waikiki
Our waiter brought us a small container of liver pate with fresh baked bread to munch on while we reviewed their menu. I had their crab bisque soup, which was served in a large bowl for only $3.95!, while Tony had their California spring rolls. We both had their special of the evening: filet mignon and lobster tail. Though we didn't order dessert, they did bring a small one out, which resembled a smoking volcano. Drinks. The service was very good; nice, elegant atmosphere. $95.29

Gordon Biersch
@ the Aloha Tower
Good variety of food (I had the fettuccini pasta with grilled chicken); Tony had a burger with garlic fries. Mai Tai's. Lively restaurant. We dined outdoors. The lighting is pretty bad, as we had to use the candle on the table to read the menu! We went out with Tony's sister and her husband. $49

Todai Japanese Buffet
Near the Hale Koa
1910 Ala Moana Blvd.
This is an all-you-can-eat Japanese buffet restaurant. We enjoyed items such as sushi, sashimi, tempura, lobster tails, etc; there's also a noodle soup bar and a hugh dessert section. Go there hungey! $64

Hoku's at the Kahala Mandarin Hotel
5000 Kahala Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96816-5498
Friends of mine took us out to dinner one evening. We had a wonderful time. We dined in an elegant, contemporary dining room. We sat next to a corner window area. Exceptional service. The staff knew my friends very well - they use this restaurant for family functions. This is an expensive restaurant but well worth it. Entrée's cost $28-$35; appetizers averaged $10. Our dinner started with fresh baked Italian bread served with an Ahi (raw tuna) mayonnaise dip. We all shared the Ahi Poke Musubi (see http://www.khon.com/hi_kitch/hk111499.asp for recipe). It was fabulous! I had the osso bucco with risotto, which I couldn't finish while Tony had prawns, which were lightly coated with flour and sautéed with vegetables, which he said was divine. I should have ordered it too since I could get osso bucco anytime at home but it was fabulous! The Chings both had fresh baked fish, which looked very good. For dessert, Tony and I shared their Lemongrass crème brulee. This place is worth the splurge.

Nick's Fishmarket
2070 Kalakaua Avenue
We started with the fried calamari, which was very good. It was cooked perfectly with a light batter ($9). Then we had a very expensive but excellent mixed grilled seafood entrée: scallops, shrimp, Mahi Mahi, Salmon, ½ small lobster tail on top of tomato/garlic mashed potatoes ($37). We drank wine and beer and enjoyed a complimentary dessert for our 14th wedding anniversary. $123. Service was very good. All the waiters worked together.
Note: Check the tourist brochures/booklets for coupons at the back of the books. In one there was a "buy 1/get 1 dinner free" for Nick's, which I found the next day!

Duke's Canoe Club

At the Outrigger Waikiki next to the Royal Hawaiian
Neat place, busy, noisy, popular. We started with Ahi spring rolls wonderful! I had Opah, which is Moon fish (very light in taste with a medium texture) which was coated with a macadamia nut/parmesan cheese and pan-fried; rice and vegetables. Tony had their ribs. Everything was Very good. There was a trio of performers singing various Hawaiian songs. Drinks. $65.

In Kailua
Our family took us to dinner at Pinky's. Very colorful restaurant. Casual. We shared fried calamari and kalua pig quesadillas. I had their salmon stuffed with crabmeat with a light cream sauce; Tony had a burger with fries. Mai Tai's (not the best). $40.

L&L Drive Inn
Located throughout the island
Local plate lunch meals. Very inexpensive and filling. I ordered a regular size plate of curry chicken with white rice and macaroni salad. It was too much for me. Tony had the chicken Katsu (fried chicken). $14 for the 2 plates and sodas.

Vicky's Filipino Restaurant
Downtown Honolulu
Tony's sister Doris took us to this small hole in the wall restaurant for some delicious Filipino food. We had their pork with noodles along with lumpia, Filipino style egg rolls. Very good meal. $18 for the 3 of us including sodas.

Kauai Restaurants

Hanalei Mixed Plate

5-5190 Kuhio Highway
Ching Young Village
Hanalei, Hi. 96714
Similar local plate lunch menu as the L&L Drive Inn. We shared a large mixed plate of ginger chicken and kalua pig and rice. Sodas. $9.

Wrangler's Steakhouse
9852 Kaumualii Highway
Route 50 Waimea
I had their special "Kau kau tin lunch" which consisted of teri beef, tempura, rice; and soup/salad bar while Tony had his usual burger with their salad bar. $19.

Oki Diner
3125 Kuhio Hwy.
Lihue, Kauai, HI 96766
Large menu with lots to choose from and large portions. I had a triple plate (again too much for me) of Neal's chicken, fried noodles, rice, and macaroni salad. Tony had a large bowl of saimin soup. $17. Friendly service.

Pattaya Asian Café
2360 Kiahuna Plantation Drive
Poipu, HI 96756
This Thai restaurant is located in the Poipu shopping village across the street from our condo. Dining was outdoors, so we enjoyed the evening breeze. I was disappointed in that they had ran out of their Thai spring rolls. I had fried calamari, which was pretty good. Tony had their satay the chicken was on the dry side. For my entrée, I had the chicken with eggplant. $35

2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr
Koloa, Kauai,HI
tel. (808) 742-7534
We dined here two times we enjoyed it so much. This is another restaurant in the Poipu shopping village. Our first evening, I had shrimp in a garlic, pesto sauce with wild rice. Tony had the Moon fish (Opah), which was fabulous. Complimentary Hula pie for dessert! Drinks. $57.85 We had a round of drinks at the bar while waiting for our table. Very good meal!

On our second visit, we both had the Moon fish and Hula Pie again. We enjoyed their mai tai's. $82.

Hamura Saimin Stand
2956 Kress Street
Lihue Kauai Hawaii 96766
This is a small local restaurant serving bowls of saimin, a delicious noodle soup consisting of egg, vegetables, wontons and roast pork. We had their Saimin Special ($6.25 each) along with fried won ton. The soup was very filling. $17.50. Get good directions, as this tiny hole-in-the wall is located down a small side street in Lihue. We were the only non-locals that evening.

Beach House Restaurant
5022 Lawai Road
Koloa, Kauai 96756
This restaurant is located on the beach near Poipu. We had a fabulous meal. I tried to make reservations so we could dine and watch the sun set, but the place books quickly. I had seared scallops in a delicious sauce while Tony had their fire-roasted Ahi with furikake mashed potatoes. We also had dessert and a few Mai Tai's. $114. Excellent service.