Saturday, December 19, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
This is the start of my LONG journal of my recent cruise from Rome, Italy to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. It was wonderful and I had a great time with Tony and my friends.
More to come!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
These are a few photos from my current cruise. Today is our last day at sea before arriving in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from Europe. I will be writing up my journal very soon and will also add my photos to my regular photography web site, so stay tuned.
At Dulles airport
Tenerife, Canary Islands
Poblet Monastery near Tarragona Spain.
Camel ride on Lanzarote
The Roman Colosseum
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Back on July 17th, I ordered the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 lens from Adorama. I've purchased from them in the past with great results. Their prices are competitive and shipping is prompt. However, I had been emailing Adorama every two weeks since I placed the order to get status. I kept getting the same comments that because it's a popular lens, it was still on back order. I was given figures on how many people ordered the lens: 1000+ then 800+, then 600+ (about 2 weeks ago).
Yesterday it was "700+" Huh?? I want this lens for my trip in November. Since they didn't know when I would get mine, I went back to searching for other companies to purchase from. Many of the others also had the lens on back order (Amazon, B&H, etc).
By chance I found one persons comment on Flicker (dated 26 Aug) stating he purchased the lens from Competitive Cameras out of
I googled the company name and there are lots of positive feedback, as well as a few negative comments about some of the employees being brusque. They weren't with me. I talked to the first person who answered my questions (price, warranty, availability) and forwarded me to the next person who was also very nice and helpful and who took my order. I was told they are the "Authorized Nikon and Canon Dealer in
I am expecting delivery on the 10th of September, so I will edit this posting when I receive the lens. I am happy to have found this company!
9/13/09: Here are some photos I took this morning with my new lens. I'm very happy with it!
You can see the rest on my photography web site: Click here.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Inside my house with the a/c running non-stop, I hosted a pre-cruise get together. We’re all sailing on the Celebrity Equinox in the fall, which sails from Rome, Italy to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A 14-night transatlantic, we will stop in Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Cartagena, Lanzarote, and Tenerife, followed by 6 hopefully-smooth days at sea.
This is the inaugural crossing of the Equinox, which recently left the dry docks. “The new ship will sail its maiden voyage roundtrip from Southampton on July 31, 2009; it'll cruise an eight-night Norwegian Fjords itinerary, calling in Stavanger, Flam, Geiranger and Oslo. The first cruise will be followed by a 10-night "Best of Europe" itinerary, calling in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Gibraltar en route to Rome. The ship will then sail a series of 13- and 14-night "Ancient Empires" cruises from Rome, featuring two new ports of call: Haifa and Ashdod, Israel. These voyages also include an overnight stay in Egypt's Alexandria.” (Celebrity Equinox Review - Countdown to Launch. M Paloti. Retrieved 11 August 2009 from http://www.cruisecritic.com/reviews/review.cfm?ShipID=382).
All of us a great time, enjoyed some delicious foods, and even had an "AA" session in the family room where we all took turns introducing ourselves. There were lots of laughs, as we talked about past sailings, where we lived, and how much we are looking forward to getting onboard this beautiful ship.
Back Row: Glenn, Susan, Caryn, Wally, Carolyn, Terry, Pat, Mark, Mark, Barry, Michael, Lorraine
Middle: Carol, Rich, Bonnie, Marilyn, Skip, MaryRuth, JR, Mary, Sherry, Linda, Nessa, Monica, Tony
Front: Sharon, Janet, Kathi
Friday, July 24, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Lunches in Paris
Las 'du Falafel
32, Rue Rosiers, 75004 Paris, France
Metro: St Paul
Louisa and I dined here one night for dinner in 2007 (see below) and knew the next time we were in Paris, we would return. Just like the last time, we ordered (Elizabeth too) the falafel special: A large pita bread over stuffed with falafel, hummus, grilled eggplant, cabbage, radish, tomato, cucumber. Yum! Delicious just like the last time! There was a long line of people waiting to buy their falafel sandwich at the take away window. We decided to sit inside because the sandwiches can be quite messy to eat. We waited only 10-15 minutes for a table, as the service was fast with the waiters moving quickly to get people in an out. 7€.
22 Place des Vosges, Paris
Café Hugo is in an excellent location in the Place des Vosges. We sat outside under the arches and enjoyed the atmosphere of this café. It should be renamed, as I didn’t think it was a café but more of great Parisian restaurant. All of us enjoyed the croque monsieur and side salad for lunch. Simple, yet delicious. 8.50€.
Les Deux Moulins
15 rue Lepic, 18th Arrondissement
This place was listed in my ‘Paris Walks’ guidebook. We came here for lunch after walking around Montmartre. This place reminded me of a diner from the 50s with its tables, chairs, and dining counter that matched the era. It almost seemed out of place Paris. I had baked salmon and julienne vegetables, which were well prepared. 10.20€
16, Rue Soufflot, Paris
Tel 43 26 57 56
The three of us had the house special: Salad and quiche Lorraine. It was very good and reasonably priced for such a touristy area. It was nice to sit outside and people watch while we ate. Our waiter kept asking if we wanted any drinks, but we were thirsty for water. He was an energetic man, as he tried to lure people to this typical French café. 9.90€.
Vins et Terroirs
66, Rue Saint-André des Arts 75006
Tel 01 46 33 00 77
I found a place for lunch just before reaching rue Buci, which looked the least touristy in the area. There are two levels to the restaurant and I sat downstairs. The room was small with a bar on the backside, tables close together, dark red walls, and floral-shaped hanging lights. Three older French women sitting next to me were enjoying fish for lunch. I had a delicious house terrine, thickly sliced, and salad, followed by baked salmon and rice. The salmon was excellent and very moist. While in the restaurant, I listed to songs from Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, and Dionne Warwick. Oh, how the French like American music. With a glass of white wine, I paid 14.90€.
73, Avenue Bosquet 75007 Paris, France
Tel 45 51 21 69
Pizza Tina is known for delicious pizza, I decided on the pasta carbonara. It was excellent and a huge portion that I couldn’t eat it all. I enjoyed it with a ¼ carafe of white wine while chatting with the Sicilian owners. 19€.
Dinners in Paris
Bistrot de l’Oulette
38, rue des Tournelles, Paris IV
Tel: 01 42 71 43 33
Metro: Chemin Vert - Bastille
Dinner was delicious!! Louisa and I ordered the escargot appetizers. They were not served in their typical shells with butter and garlic, but with diced artichoke hearts and what looked like huge pine nuts, but I think they were blanched almonds. The appetizer was in a light green foamy sauce of some sort. Elizabeth had a cold asparagus soup. For my plat, I had the duck with potatoes au gratin and a salad; Louisa had a beef dish wrapped in a cabbage leaf and 'stuffed' with a pate/foie gras. Elizabeth had sea bass. All of it was very good! Decadent desserts all around with a chocolate like fondant; and I had a sort of apple pie with a crisp puff pastry on top and a side shot of icy/slushy Grand Marnier. Total bill was 150€ with a nice bottle of white wine, recommended by our waiter, and a round of aperitifs. 50€/$67.50.
2, rue Roger Verlomme, Paris III
Tel: 01 42 72 28 41
Métro: Chemin Vert Daily noon-3pm and 7:30pm-midnight
Louisa and I ordered the same dishes as our dinner back in 2007. The portions seemed to be larger. I had the risotto with four large plump scallops, and so did Elizabeth. Louisa had the pasta with escargot. We shared two appetizers: A mixed sautéed mushroom dish and baked mussels. The restaurant was 100% full at 8pm when we arrived. There is no smoking in the restaurants, so it was a treat sitting inside with the French. However, due to the non-smoking policy throughout France, many of the outdoor cafes are now filled with smokers. The place was very lively and such a typical French restaurant. 30€/$40.50.
Place de la Bastille
3 bd Beaumarchais 75004 Paris
Leon Bruxelles is a good place for an inexpensive dinner of moules (mussels). It’s a chain restaurant filled with locals and tourists who enjoy a heaping pot full of tasty moules. We started the evening with a kir (4€). I had the moules with a light curry sauce (not heavy in curry flavor) and Louisa had moules a la Provencale; both served with fries (18.60€). Elizabeth had salmon. For dessert, we all had Belgian waffles that was served with a decadent chocolate sauce. 23€/$31.05.
Le Petit Prince de Paris
12, rue de Lanneau, Paris, 75005
Tel: 01 43 54 77 26
I had our hotel receptionist make dinner reservations for 8pm at Le Petit Prince de Paris. I dined there with my cousin several years ago and which I really enjoyed. It was just a short walk to the restaurant, which is located in the heart of the student quarter. In fact, we had to pass two cafés that were filled with students enjoying their drinks and company.
The restaurant has a cozy, yet lively atmosphere and is decorated in dark reds and oranges. Music played in the background ranging from French songs to American oldies to songs from the 50’s. Tables were closely placed to one another. The place filled up within 20 minutes of our arrival. In fact, we had to squeeze into a corner table with two chairs and a corner "couch", which had colorful pillows to lean against. Our hotel receptionist had told us the restaurant would need our table by 10pm; however, once we were settled in, the waiter took his time serving us and we were never pressured to leave.
I had a delicious starter of escargot with a field green salad and roasted red pepper sauce, followed by chunks of lamb with potatoes and artichokes in a brown sauce. The Menu was 22€ and of course, we had a bottle of wine. 28€/$39.48.
Le Petit Pontoise
9 rue de Pontoise, 75005
Tel: 01 43 29 25 29
For dinner, the three of us dined at Petit Pontoise, which was recommended by our friend Sandy. It was located about a 15-minute walk from our hotel. The welcoming dining room filled up quickly, mostly tourists. The night air was too cold to sit outside. There was no pre-fixe menu but only a la carte. It was our most expensive meal of the trip, but it was very good. I had a baked Camembert cheese topped with nuts and honey and a side salad, followed by a scallop dish with julienne zucchini and bean sprouts topped with a light vanilla sauce. It was delicious and not overly sweet. The portions were huge, which made up for the pricey menu, and I even gave some of my appetizer to Louisa and Elizabeth. Even Louisa shared some of her pâté appetizer. Reservations are a must at this popular place. 51.50€/$71.59.
Restaurant Perraudin “Vieux Restaurant Typique”
156, rue Saint Jacques, 75005
Tel: 01 46 33 15 75
I had set up two “fodorite” get together’s at Perraudin. It’s quite a lively restaurant with tables set close together. On our first night, 12 of us met up for dinner. We had the back room to ourselves. The waiter did a great job in taking care of us and seemed very patient with our questions. The special of the evening was a veal dish with wide pasta and mushroom sauce, which I ordered. The meat was slightly overcooked for my taste, but it was very flavorful. I shared a bottle of Chardonnay with Julia – Louisa and Elizabeth were at the other end of the table. 31€/$43.
On the 23rd, 17 of us met up for dinner. We sat in the main dining room at two tables. We were a noisy but fun group! For my meal, I started with - Profiteroles de chèvre chaud au coulis de tomate (goat cheese profiterole with tomato coulis) and then the chef’s recommendation of the evening: Steak with roquefort sauce and fries. The steak was almost 2” thick and cooked saignant, very rare, like I like it: Mooing. Seems like most enjoyed their dinner, although I heard the Bœuf bourguignon was just passable. Our waiter, the same one from the first night, took good care of us and seemed to enjoy the fun we were having. A few of us kept changing seats in order to talk to everyone. We had several photos taken with several cameras that another waiter joined in to help take the photos. Finally we took pictures of the waiters! 36.20€/$50.32.
Lunches in Provence
Au Porte Mages
rue Porte Mages
Les Baux 04 90 54 40 48
The three of us ordered crepes for lunch. I had one with ham and cheese. We shared a demi carafe of wine. The crepes were alright, nothing special to write home about. The best feature of Au Porte Mages was the outside terrace, which was covered with beautiful trees and flowers all around. We were in France at the right time for the beautiful flowers in bloom. 8.50€
Place Albert 1er, Uzes
Tel 04 66 22 17 25
Uzes is a lovely town with many small streets to wander around. This restaurant is located next to the tourist office along with another restaurant that shares the same outdoor space. We all had salads for lunch, which were large servings. I had one with smoked salmon, eggplant, olives, and tomatoes. Tasty lunch! 12€.
6, avenue Victor Hugo
94490 St. Saturnin Les Apt
Tel: 04 90 71 15 75
Closed Monday and Tuesday
Louisa and I both had veal meatloaf with a mushroom sauce, noodles and a side salad (13€). Elizabeth had a salad with fried Camembert. We shared a demi carafe of white wine (6€). 15€.
Café de L'ormeau
place de L'ormeau,
In the center of town is Place Ormeau with three cafés. We chose café de l'Ormeau since it was the only café that had one available table outside; and it was a perfect day for outdoor dining. I had a croque monsieur, which I think was the best I’ve ever had. It had to be the thick béchamel sauce that hit my taste buds. It was so creamy and tasty! It was very nice to sit outside and enjoy the town’s atmosphere. There was a wedding party at the café too enjoying their drinks before going off to take their pictures in a nearby field. With wine 8.50€.
Le Petit Jardin
I'Isle sur la Sorgue
Tel 04 90 20 87 67
I'Isle sur la Sorgue is a very crowded town on Sundays because of its fabulous market day. All of the restaurants in the area were filled at lunchtime. It was impossible to find one with seats outside, so we opted to dine inside. After waiting 20 minutes without service, Louisa asked if any outside tables were available. Yes! It’s so much better to sit outside under a covered roof, umbrellas, or trees, especially with the great weather we were having. For lunch, I had a salad with fried goat cheese, tapenade, sundried tomatoes, and parmesan cheese. Louisa and Elizabeth shared a salad and croque monsieur. Shared demi carafe of white wine. 11.50€.
104, rue Marcellin Poncet
Tel: 04 90 72 36 08
This place has a small outdoor seating area across the street from the main restaurant. The menu of the day included a tossed salad and escalope turkey (they ran out of pork), in a mushroom sauce, and thinly sliced French fries. The turkey was tender and the fries crispy. 12€.
32 rue de Bernardines
Tel: 04 42 26 77 56
We dined in the back terrace for lunch. There wasn’t much of a view to speak of, but the weather was beautiful and we sat under a canopy. I enjoyed their excellent terrine foie with toast points (huge portion) followed by veal escalope in a rich mushroom sauce with chanterelles. Louisa ordered the same dishes and Elizabeth ordered some vegetable dishes. With a demi-carafe of white house wine (50cl), lunch came to 19€.
7 degrees Sud
rue Albert Jean Geoffroy
St. Saturnin les Apt
The three of us shared a fresh-made pizza with mushrooms for a quick/late lunch. 8€ for the pizza.
Dinners in Provence
Restaurant a la plancha
8 bd Marceau
13210 St. Remy de Provence
Tel: 04 32 62 03 82
Avern, our hostess from Residence Les Sources, made dinner reservations for us at Le Cigalon, which she highly recommended. We walked to town, which took 15 minutes. We had a fabulous meal. We started with kirs’ and a suze followed by a bottle of semi-dry rose wine. I had a sampler of different types of pâtés with a small salad. The other two had a seafood salad with calamari, shrimp, and fresh baby bib lettuce with light vinaigrette and a hint of pesto. Louisa and I both ordered the seafood sampler, which included salmon, scallops, shrimp, and another fish, along with a vegetable mousse and a vegetable coulis; and a vegetable rice dish. Elizabeth had scallops with the same sides. For dessert, I had the chocolate fondant, which was the best I ever had.
Service was great and always with a smile. We all were quite impressed with the quality of the food. This is a fairly new restaurant and we highly recommend it to other fellow travelers. The presentations of the dishes were unique and modern. We sat on the terrace in perfect evening weather. After our meal and some flirtation with our waiters, we were offered an after dinner drink, so we had lemoncello. It was a nice ending to a wonderful evening. 28€/$38.
Route de Saint Remy
13103 Mas Blanc Les Alpilles
Tel: 04 90 49 10 90
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
While staying at Residence Les Sources, we met up with Michael, who was from Arizona and on vacation with a friend. Both are bikers. I had made dinner reservations in town, but he suggested we join him at one of his favorite places “Les Lavandes”, which is located about a mile or so west of Les Sources on route D99. Michael offered to drive us to the restaurant. We certainly enjoyed our food. The portions were huge!! We all began with a kir. I had the “salad cesar” (9€, which had goat cheese rounds, slightly melted on toast points; followed by a liver and pasta dish (10€). Oh my, it was rich and delicious. I am still amazed at the portions and prices. We could have easily shared one salad and pasta dish between the three of us. I hated to leave what I didn’t eat and my dish looked liked I barely touched it. Louisa had a pasta dish with mushrooms and Elizabeth had pasta with Roquefort. 19€/$25.65.
Restaurant Hotel des Voyageurs
2 place Gambetta 84490 – St Saturnin-Les Apt
Tel: 04 90 75 42 08
Restaurant des Voyageurs was a great place to eat; however, the dining room was so quiet when we arrived! Four other tables were filled with customers, but you could hear a pin drop. The three of us began to talk, not loud, but enough to get the rest of the diners to relax, enjoy the evening, and to break the ice. For dinner we enjoyed the volute asparagus soup followed by baked salmon with a barley rice dish and zucchini. Next was a cheese course - choice of roquefort with nuts or chevre - and dessert: Fresh strawberries. While waiting for our first course, we looked out the window and saw two beautiful rainbows! Service (only one woman served) was great in this upscale restaurant. With wine, dinner came to 33€/$44.55.
Restaurant La Fontaine
Place de la Fontaine 84400 Villars
Tel: 04 90 75 48 55
Kevin, the owner of the B&B that we stayed in, recommended La Fontaine for dinner one night. The restaurant is in the small town of Villars, which was located just a few miles from the B&B. It was a pleasant, quiet town. We dined outside with several other diners. Louisa said, “Lets splurge, let’s live it up” in choosing the 16€ wine over the 15€ wine. Too funny. We started with a kir (Louisa had her usual suze). For the starter, I had the crevettes salad and sliced duck for my main dish. For dessert, a decadent café tiramisu. I couldn’t finish it, but it was delicious! Service was good and it’s a place I would highly recommend for a satisfying meal. 30€/$40.50.
Café – Restaurant Le Bistrot de Roussillon
Place de la Mairie 84220 Roussillon
Tel: 04 90 05 74 45
This was a great place for dinner, not just for the delightful Provencale cuisine, but also for the terrace with its fabulous views of the town. We enjoyed our dinner while the sun set, giving the colorful buildings a lovely glow. Reservations are a must in order to grab one of the tables on the terrace. This place filled up within minutes of our arrival. I had the salad w/prosciutto, cheese, a poached egg on top of toast and balsamic vinaigrette. Next I had the lamb with potatoes and vegetables. We shared bottle of wine. 28€/$38.08.
Le Saint Hubert
Tel: 04 90 75 42 02
Louisa, Elizabeth, and I dined at Hubert two times. We enjoyed our dinner so much that we made reservations for our last night in Provence. I had a pâté with a salad, olives, and a raisin ‘jam’ followed by duck confit with vegetables and potatoes au gratin. For dessert, I had crème brulee. The chef came out and talked to everyone at all tables asking how we liked our meal. Everything was excellent! He had his white apron on but from behind we could see his shorts and hairy legs. Dinner, with a carafe of wine (13€) came to 26€/$35.10.
On our last night in Provence, we met up with Kathy and Charley. I met Kathy via Slowtrav.com. Our waiter from the other night remembered we wanted to sit on the terrace, so he had a nice table set up for us. And the chef smiled when he saw us. The evening was beautiful and company was great. I had the same pate appetizer as the other evening; whole fish for my main dish; and wine. Dessert was a rich chocolate-like cake, which I couldn’t finish. 28€/$38.08.
All in all, all of our meals were good to excellent. None were, in my mind, poor. My top favorites were:
Las 'du Falafel
Vins et Terroirs
Bistrot de l’Oulette
Le Petit Prince de Paris
Restaurant Hotel des Voyageurs
My trip journal: http://luvtotravel.homestead.com/France2009.html
Sunday, July 5, 2009
At last, here are my photos of Roussillon. I hope you will enjoy them, as they are some of my favorites from my trip. Such a colorful town!
Friday, June 19, 2009
This is the third time I've been quoted in their guidebooks. The first time was for their 2008 Paris guidebook. The second time was for their 2009 Italy guidebook.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The canal area was packed with people checking out the many great artwork. I personally checked out the photography.
Here are a few photos from the day. As you can see, the festival was quite a success! Even Lucy enjoyed the day.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Alex, Julia, Marna, John, Linda, Louisa, Elizabeth, Michael
I'll post more photos from dinner, but we are off to Giverny!
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Here are the specific links:
NIAF (National Italian American Foundation): Relief Fund. The Italian Red Cross: Croce Rossa Italiana.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
My dear friends Anne and Kirk Woodyard are owners of Music and Markets Tours. They have just posted their 2009 Summer tours on their web site:
"It’s not too early to reserve your spot on one of our summer tours!We’d love you to join us for a fun-filled week on the Amalfi Coast (followed by Tuscany ), in Provence , or in Amsterdam – enjoying the best of live classical music, delicious food, and the unique beauties of each region. Plan your holiday early, reserve your spot by April 15 and receive a $300 discount! Please contact us if you have any questions about a particular tour. Best regards- Anne & Kirk Woodyard."Please visit their web site, as I am sure there is a tour just for you!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Today is a special day for me! I just completed my last class for my bachelor's degree in business administration. It's been a long process taking one class at a time over these years. On again, off again. Time to celebrate with some champagne!
Happy, happy, happy!!
24 February 2009:
The University emailed me yesterday saying I needed nine more credits before I could get my degree! Needless to say, my heart skipped a beat, although I knew they were wrong. I immediately emailed back, as well as to my student rep, a copy of my most recent application evaluation report. I also called the auditor. The auditor was looking at my original evaluation report (from 2006), rather than the latest (from March 2007). He also said it was never filed in my records. Thank goodness I keep every email!
He was quick to review the correct document and I received a second email (within 15 minutes) stating, “…you have met all academic requirements needed to complete your degree.”
Now the business affairs office has to do the financial part (I hope my organization paid all the school bills!) and I’ll get another email with the final results. Phew! The interesting thing is: When I emailed my student rep asking about the audit procedures, I seriously considered emailing a copy of my latest report. My instincts told me they were going to look at the wrong document. Boy, what I right!
It pays to keep all documents until something is completed. And even then, depending on the situation, you may want to hold onto it just a little longer.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Anyone who has a dog, or knows someone that has a dog, should know about the dangers of this toy. Some of you may have the ball at home and not realize it. No ball should ever have just one hole in it. It needs to have at least two or more so that suction does not occur if the dog sticks his/her tongue in it. The company has a recall announcement on their web site, but many may not know about the dangers of this toy.
I did not view the video that is on the blog based on reading many of the blog comments. I don't think I could see a dog suffering. Here’s the link about Chai: The Chai Story
I have to say that this could happen to any ball with only one hole. Check your dog’s toy box. I suggest you drill 2-3 extra holes in any ball or destroy them. Keep your pet safe and healthy.