Architecture, ART, Attractions, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, Fashion, Gardens, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village

TRAVEL THERE: ARTSY FARTSY MORNING

So, I admit I love shopping, but what I love best is buying bargain clothes and shoes.  My favorite price is $9.99.  It’s like a game with me to find gorgeous things that the stores want to give away at ridiculous prices.  There are only a few people I buy for when I am traveling and while I enjoy that, I don’t usually hang out in retail establishments.

Bill is a lot more likely to shop on vacation.  He loves consignment stores and will wander around a shopping mall just to see the architecture.  Since we’re not going to buy anything, I sort of see it as a waste of time, but I accommodate his desires.

When we are in Sedona that all changes.  We both love Tlaquepaque with a passion.  We can’t afford most of it, but we want all of it.  Come along with us.   

What’s Not to Love?

So, to begin with, Tlaquepaque is in Sedona.  We pretty much love everything in Sedona.  Even when we have a pizza and think the crust was way too thin, we enjoy it and look back on it fondly.  Maybe there is something to that whole vortex thing.

Next up, Tlaquepaque is visually appealing.  You do not have to enter a single store to enjoy it.  Wandering among the archways and courtyards, listening to the splashing fountains, smelling the delicious food cooking, people watching…it’s all good.  The architecture is part Spanish colonial, part southwest –  tile roofs, black rod iron ornamentation, brick walkways, desert foliage…all the stuff we like – all gorgeous.

But what’s more, the shopping in fun.  It is perfectly OK to wander around for hours, stopping into shops, some multiple times and not buy a single thing.  Maybe they’re lonely.  Maybe they’re just nice.  Whatever it is, everyone is thrilled to see you.  They greet you and chat you up.  They do not hover over you as if you are about to steal the whole store or try to sell you everything you linger at.  They want your opinion on the goods they are unpacking or will ask you if a particular wall is a good place to hang something.  They will let you try on every ring in the case without huffing or puffing and won’t be the merchandise monitor limiting you to one item at a time.  Here – try them both on, go show your husband, step out in the courtyard to see it in the light.

Some of the stores are also studios, so you can watch someone do whatever they do.  Or there’s a partially finished something that allows you to see how they arrive at finished products.  You smell clay and leather and paints.  You’re just as likely to smell magnolia blossom essential oil, patchouli perfume or burning incense.  

How It Went This Time

Bill made friend in one of the first shops we entered.  He didn’t so much love the merchandise as he discovered the proprietor goes to Egypt every year – so Bill being Egyptian, they had a lot to talk about.  So much so that I had time to discover the bargain of the day – a pair of blue topaz earrings set in silver – but it was that blue topaz that is visually interchangeable with aquamarines, which are my birthstone.  They were quite a bit more than my $9.99 price, but a steam nonetheless.  So much so, that Bill bought them for me!

Then we wandered – for hours.  We barely scratched the surface.  We strolled without any particular pattern.  We had a marvelous time enjoying all the things I just described to you above.  About halfway through, I found a cute shop with unique hand-blown wine stoppers – not cheap, but reasonable.  I’d found the gifts I wanted to buy.

The weather was a little gray and a little nippy, so it didn’t beg us to linger outside or take photos.  Sorry about that.  Bill did fall in love with these pieces in one of the galleries, but they didn’t come home with us.

We could have gone on for hours more, but we had a plane to catch.  El Rincon Restaurante Mexicano was wafting amazing aromas into the courtyards.  We followed our noses and had an amazing meal before heading out to the airport.

Home Again

The drive back to Phoenix was without incident.  We returned our rental car with ease and the shuttle bus delivered us to our terminal without a hassle.  The Southwest plane was on time and the flight was fine.  Our car was right where we left it and we got home with no trouble.  See we can go on a trip without a single hassle.

What’s next?  Right this minute I don’t know.  It’s July as I blog about this February trip and our lives are dominated by the pandemic.  I tried to plan another trip out west during December, but there are so many unknowns right now that I finally gave up.  Stay tuned, though.  You know I won’t be able to stay home!!

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Downtown Sedona

TRAVEL THERE: ROLLING UP THE SIDEWALKS

As we made our way from Oak Creek Canyon to Downtown Sedona, I have to confess that Google was not much help.  Perhaps they need me there to help them get on Google My Business or maybe they just don’t care.  Anyway, what was listed was either fast food or pizza.  In self-defense, we chose pizza.

Sedona Pizza and Pasta

It was only about 6 PM, but they really were rolling up the sidewalks.  There was one jewelry store that seemed to have some activity, so we strolled in.  Everything cost the world and the proprietor was an as er… a jerk.  We didn’t stay there long.

Across the street was a little plaza where there were a couple of restaurants open.  The sandwich shop had big plate glass windows featuring the view, but it was virtually empty and the light was fading fast, so the view wasn’t going to be visible in the next few minutes.

We opted for Sedona Pizza and Pasta.  The prices were more than we would have expected for a casual dinner, but we didn’t have a choice.  So, we ordered up and watched the guys behind the counter cooking up and serving meals.  When our pizza was delivered we were disappointed.  We already knew it was going to be a thin crust pizza, which is not our favorite, but we’d never seen a crust so thin.  We’re talking paper thin.  The service was good, it was clean and the staff was really nice, but we really can’t recommend a pizza place that virtually puts their pizza fixings on paper.

Back at the Adobe Village Inn

We stopped by a convenience store on the way to the Inn and picked up a bottle of wine.  Back at the inn we chose some free DVD’s to watch – a documentary about Sedona and High Crimes with Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd. 

We also took advantage of the Inn’s hot tub.  We’d let the manager know we were interested and he had it all cued up for us.  It really was quiet nice.

After the hot tubbing and a shower, we crawled into bed and watched our selections.  After all the activity we had in Scottsdale and Phoenix, it was nice to take it easy – and after all the challenging driving we’d done during the day, we were pooped.

Up and Out

Breakfast was served from 8-9, so Bill could not linger in bed.  The Adobe Village Inn’s website is very proud of their breakfast tradition.  As soon as we made our reservations, they emailed to ask about food preferences.  I confessed to my prejudice against eggs and that resulted in a breakfast that was way too sweet for both of us.  I mean, in small bits, all of it was delicious, but breakfast is an important meal and we needed something besides carbs, sugar and fruit.  I’m betting if you didn’t tell them no eggs, you could get something absolutely perfect.

Our target for the morning was Tlaquepaque, but we took a driving tour first.  Come back next week and join us!

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

Vacation Club Intro

TRAVEL THERE: SAYING NO AND MEANING IT

Our extraordinary bargain came with a caveat.  We had to give them a couple of hours for a vacation club introduction.  It was the first time for a “vacation club.”  Other similar experiences were offered as a time share.  We’ve been through some elbow twisting in our travel adventures and we hoped we weren’t in for another.

Starting at Mickey D’s

To fuel up before the sales pitch ordeal, we opted for McDonald’s.  It was just around the corner and we grabbed several meals/snacks from there.

On this particular morning I had the obstacle of 10K runners and the policemen directing traffic had no sympathy for an out-of-towner.  While I’m trying to negotiate the runners, police, roads and parking lots, I had Bill frantically texting me to be sure I got pepper to go with his order.   I may have cussed a couple of times.  

Checking Things Out

After breakfast we had a little time before our vacation club appointment.  We headed over to the pool and entertainment areas to see what they offered.  We’re not really resort people.  Flying across the world to hang out by a pool, play golf and enjoy the spa is really not our kind of vacation.  We understand why people with kids would do it, because Lord knows they need a break, but we go to an area to see it and one resort looks pretty much like another.  Besides, while a lot is included, it’s not all-inclusive.  A golf game here, a spa appointment there and a few drinks by the pool and you can be spending some serious dough.

As resorts go, the Westin is a nice one.  We checked out all the pools, the golf course and various entertainment venues where games and classes are offered.  When we reported for our appointment, we were anxious to get it behind us.  In fact, we were early.  They sent us to some lounge area with a fireplace to wait our turn.  Anxiety was building.

The Dreaded Appointment

All in all, it wasn’t so bad.  They introduced us to our guy and took us to his office.  He chatted us up a bit to get our measure and then took us to view the available floor plans.  They have something they call the Two-Bedroom Lockoff Villa, which is really two One-Bedroom Villas, which can be used separately or in tandem.  Our room for the stay was a One-Bedroom Villa with a kitchenette, about 530 square feet.  Were we to actually invest in the property, we would want the One-Bedroom Premium Villa with a full kitchen and about 870 square feet. 

Then there was the pitch, which we softly but firmly tossed back.  We explained I was a devoted cruiser and that the timing wasn’t right for us to invest (not that it would ever be the right time), even if we were interested.  Our guy happily turned us over to the closer.  She was ready to wheel and deal, but Bill said if we were to buy-in, it would be with cash, not financing.  That took the wind out of her sails and her sales.  They wanted to sell it to us like a car – so many dollars a month for the rest of our lives.

Then we were released.  We’d lived through yet another timeshare vacation club sales pitch without signing on the dotted line.  I must say this.  Were we actually good candidates for this product, a two career family with four kids, three dogs, two cats and some extended family, I would think this was a deal.  They showed us some magic we could pull off with my Marriott credit cards points, but we don’t do points, we go for the 2% rebate on another card.  They knew as well as we did that we weren’t going to buy, so they saved us and them a lot of effort.

Oh look!  It’s time to go golf.  We ran to a Chipotle for lunch and then drove to the golf course. Come back next week for a round of golf at Dave Valley Ranch.

DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Dinner at Positano

Image from the Positano Website

TRAVEL THERE: IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A WINE BAR

In my humble opinion, if an establishment advertises itself as a wine bar, then wine should be the main attraction.  In fact, I sort of expect to be able to get a wine flight.  That not the kind of wine bar Positano is.  Our food was quite good and the service was great, but wine bar? Nah!

Keirland Commons is Hopping

Remember a few days ago when we went to the Anticus Grand Re-Opening and had dinner at NORTH. Well, that’s when we figured out that Keirland Commons was the center of nightlife in Scottsdale.  After our golf game we checked out a few of the other entertainment areas in the same vicinity, but while they had lots of places to eat and lots of cars in the parking lot, they didn’t have the energy of Keirland Commons.

So, we decided to return.  We contemplated going back to NORTH – it was that good – but opted instead for its next door neighbor, Positano.  Let me tell you, we were not alone.  It was hopping!

However, they could seat us if we were willing to go upstairs.  We were hungry, so we were willing.  To get upstairs we had to negotiate a winding metal staircase – not for the faint of heart.  Then they showed us to our table – a high two-top with tall bar stools.  That part was OK.  What got me was the view.  Over the rod iron railing, was a significant drop to the ground floor.  Have I ever mentioned the fact that I am a little acrophobic?

Bill could tell immediately I wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of our seating option.  He quickly offered to sit next to the railing, but that would have meant I was looking over the railing for the whole meal.  I opted to sit next to the railing with my back to it.  That way I could look at my handsome husband and avoid contemplating what the splat would sound like if I fell.

Service, a Smile and Some Bruschetta

Things got better from that point.  Our waiter was very nice and chummy.  He identified us as neophytes and explained our menu options to us – they were (and I quote) “Snacky Things, The Boards, Bruchetta, Soup & Salad or Panini.”  I’ll be honest with you, to me that meant the whole menu was snacky things, but I like snacky things, so that’s OK.

The Boards were tempting.  I love your basic meat and cheese platter and they had several nice renditions, including one featuring “soft pretzel, schreiner’s chorizo, cornichon, aged cheddar and peruvian corn nuts.”  However, the waiter informed us it was all about the Bruschetta.  Now I’ll be honest with you, when I think bruschetta, my mind goes to a small over-toasted piece of baguette with a tomato, a basil leaf and some mozzarella.  

However, the waiter was so insistent we should have bruschetta we decided to give it a shot.  There were no pictures on the menu, so we thought we were getting some appetizers and we thought they sounded very expensive (4 for $15.75.)  In fact, we each got a bruschetta plate and thought we would be ordering a panini to share afterwards.

Instead of a baguetta slice, each bruschetta comes on a generous slice of French bread and we ended up with more than we could eat.  The descriptions read like this ” PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA, FIG & MASCARPONE”, “SWEET N’ SPICY PEPPER JAM & GOAT CHEESE” or “BRIE, APPLE & FIG SPREAD.”  I failed to note exactly which we chose, but it didn’t matter, everything was delish.

Coming Soon to Dallas

It got better.  We really did have a friendly waiter and it was like he had adopted us.  He chatted us up on-and-off throughout the evening.  A lot of the things he told us had to do with his personal life, but he did reveal (ta dah!) that Positano is coming to Dallas.  I checked the internet and they are supposed to come to Deep Ellum.  So keep your eyes peeled.  The bruschetta is great, but don’t expect a wine flight.

After dinner at Positano we went back to the resort and chilled.  The next day would be Bill’s choice, so come back and see what we got up to.

ART, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Yummy Delicious Incredible Afternoon Tea

TRAVEL THERE: AFTERNOON TEA AT THE PHOENICIAN

Often in life, you dream about, look forward to and anticipate something, and then when it happens it just wasn’t worth all that energy.  However, when you’ve looked forward to something for decades and it surpasses even your greatest expectations, how rewarding that is.  Afternoon Tea at the Phoenician was everything I ever hoped it would be and even more!  Come let’s sip and savor.

Entering by the Back Door

Of all the things that have ever been invented for travel, the GPS is by far one of the very best.  That being said, sometimes it has an odd way of getting you where you want to be.  On all my other visits to the Phoenician Resort, I had come in through the main entrance and in my imagination, that’s the way I thought we’d enter for our Afternoon Tea.  Instead, the GPS took us to some back entrance, through the golf courses.  Don’t get me wrong.  It was lovely, but it didn’t match my memory and it made finding where we should park a bit of a challenge.  Hence we were running a few minutes late and though I was keeping a clamp on my anxiety, after we did find someplace to park, instead of being near the lobby, we were wandering through the ballrooms and shops and every where except where we needed to be.

When we did get to the lobby cafe, where Tea is served, they seated us in what should have been a very advantageous table, overlooking the beautiful pools, but the sun was shining in so brightly, that even with my sunglasses I felt like someone was poking me in the eye.  As soon as we told the waitress our challenge we were moved to another table which was just as nice, but between the gauntlet we ran to get there and the small ado over moving, it took me a few moments to realize I was at the Phoenician for Afternoon Tea.

The Experience

Linen tablecloths and napkins, heavy flatware, Wedgewood china, elegrant crystal, clotted cream, orange marmalade and berry jam set the scene for our meal.  Huge pots of tea were delivered, which we enjoyed so much they had to be refilled throughout the meal.  Then they started bringing food and they just kept bringing it until we had to tell them to stop.

The first course was finger sandwiches:  cucumber, asparagus, salmon, chicken salad and egg salad.  Each tiny finger sandwich was a little masterpiece to look at.  And to eat – YUM! 

Next came the scones.  Bill decided he preferred what Starbucks calls scones, but those aren’t really traditional scones.  The Phoenician scones were what I call scones and they were good.  They weren’t the best I’d ever had.  That honor goes to the little tea shop I used to frequent in San Luis Obispo, but there was nothing wrong with the Phoenician version.

Once we’d had all the scones we wanted, the desserts started and they just kept coming.  Eclairs, coffee operas, scottish shortbreads, mango domes, fruit tartlets, milk chocolate bavarois, sable bretons, chocolate dipped strawberries and brandied cherry pompomettes.  

Every single one was more delicious than the last one and look how pretty they were.  Theoretically, we could still be there eating them, because they kept trying to get us to have more, but we were stuffed!

The service was gracious, friendly and attentive.  I was carried away with the china, almost as much as the food.  It was gorgeous.  The people watching was spectacular.  Once was not enough, I can’t wait to go back!

Enjoying the Resort

With our meal over, we wanted to see everything, especially the wonderful veranda which overlooks the pool.  We went on a little photo safari.  I hope you enjoy it.

Next up – a little bagpipe music.  You don’t want to miss that!  So, come back next week!

 

 

Architecture, ART, Attractions, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, Fashion, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Breakfast Snooze and Cruise

TRAVEL THERE: SNOOZE, THE QUARTER & MORE

The next morning gave us the chance to try yet another breakfast place recommended by the Phoenix New Times: Snooze, an AM Eatery.  We visited the location at the Kierland Commons.  We totally endorse the New Times choice.  There are multiple locations in Scottsdale and Phoenix so don’t miss it.

Scottsdale Quarter

The Quarter imagines itself to be superior to its “Commons” cousin across the street.  The Commons is upscale.  The Quarter endeavors one ups-manship.

Though the Quarter is just across the street from the Commons, it’s a busy thoroughfare that separates them, so we moved our rental Jeep to a closer position.

One of the anchor stores is a huge, monolithic gray block.  Upon exploration, we discovered it was a Restoration Hardware showroom.  You don’t buy anything there and load it up in your car.  You lounge around on ginormous furniture and let gracious salesladies talk you into letting go of enormous amounts of money.

We confess, we’re not your basic Restoration Hardware customers, so we didn’t realize they had transitioned into this showroom format over the stores we’d visited in the past.  However, we had a lovely time hanging out there.  The restrooms were spectacular!

One of those gracious salesladies chatted us up about their transition to showroom and said some of their showrooms actually included a sort of restaurant, where they hosted dinners.  One imagines exactly how much money you’d have to invest in Restoration Hardware goods to be hosted in their dining room.  For all we know, common people like us might be able to go in there and pay for our meals, but we got the idea that wasn’t the point.   

She also said they had a surprise coming to Dallas.  I don’t know how much of a surprise it is, since a June 2019 edition of The Dallas Morning News announces the location with a restaurant is coming.  However, a quick look at their website doesn’t mention the potential restaurant, so one wonders if it is a victim of Covid.

The Quarter Beyond RH

The RH was lovely and I’m guessing we spent an hour enjoying their store.  It was a lazy sort of morning – a filler before what was to come next.  I was happy as a lark, because later in the day, we had reservations for Afternoon Tea at the Phoenician Resort.  In the meantime, I was perfectly content to wander around the Quarter.

Though the Quarter presented itself as an upgrade to the Commons, I noticed they had more in the way of empty retail spaces than their cousin.  The RH showroom is the only store we actually wandered into, but we did stroll throughout the complex, noting a number of restaurants we’d love to try out.

This is sort of where we started talking about our next trip to AZ and saying things to suggest that while we wouldn’t have time for everything on this particular visit, we’d be back to the Greater Phoenix Area sooner rather than later.

Enjoy the pictures below of the Quarter.  It was a lovely development and I hope it thrives through Covid and will actually be there next time we go to the area.  After taking the pictures, we had to get back to the resort and get all dressed up for the afternoon activity.  Come back next week for tea.

 

 

DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Head to NORTH Hungry Person

TRAVEL THERE: FOODIE FUN

Well, there we were in Scottsdale, running around the Kierland Commons like 9 PM is the usual time we head out to dinner.  Only it’s not.  We’ve just crashed a private party at Anticus and now we’re going to have dinner.  Not our usual travel experience, at all, but I’ll take it.

NORTH Italia

It’s hard to go wrong with us if you are serving Italian.  At NORTH, there were no missteps and we fell in love.

We were greeted at the door by a charming, attractive hostess.  She led us to a table with a great vantage point.  We could see the kitchen peeking through the stacked dishes and hanging pots.  We could see almost the whole restaurant and I could even see the action on the street from my side of the table.

Our waiter was a nice guy who was ready and willing to chat about the menu.  I know we had delicious crusty bread with olive oil, but I forget what the entree was.  We couldn’t have gone wrong if we wanted to.  All around us we saw delightful servings of Italian food and people were obviously thrilled with what they were eating.  However, I can’t remember exactly what we had.  

We’d had enough free wine to be very relaxed and the service was also VERY relaxed, but that’s not a complaint.  The place was busy and we were having a great time.  

NORTH in Dallas

I interrupt this travelogue to tell you something exciting.  We may have discovered NORTH in Scottsdale, but on a recent ramble through Uptown Dallas, we found out there’s a NORTH here, too.  Our Sunday afternoon goal was to find a rooftop bar and pretend the pandemic wasn’t boring us to death.  Instead, we found a sort of food mall tucked on the second story of a high rise and there it was, a NORTH!  Plan A was ditched and we immediately made our way to their patio seating.  Great afternoon! 

Meanwhile, Back in Scottsdale

Sorry, about that!  I just couldn’t resist.  We loved our Scottsdale visit to NORTH and are so happy it’s available to us here in Dallas.  We also found out there is one in Plano.  So, we’re happy about that, but back to Scottsdale.

At the end of the meal we were happy we had a bit of a stroll back to our parking spot and that was a good thing.  The Commons was still hopping.  Stylishly dressed patrons of all ages strolled back and forth and in and out of local hangouts.  The most popular place was Shake Shake which had a sort of backyard scene as their front yard.  Happy families eating burgers and sipping shakes dominated the area.

We found our car and headed back to the Westin.  In spite of my nap I was seriously ready for bed.  The next day promised to provide the highlight of my travels, but it would be later in the day.  Come next week week and see how we spent the next morning. 

 

ART, TRAVEL

The Phoenix New Times Breakfast List

TRAVEL THERE: F`A-ME CAFFE HEADS THE LIST

In a number of cities, like Phoenix and San Luis Obispo, they have a great little publication called New Times.  The same company publishes other entertainment magazines, like the Dallas Observer.  I have discovered they have very reliable restaurant recommendations, so if I am going to a city or town that has New Times, then I always take advantage of their online publications to plan meals.  Phoenix is one of those towns.  I knew we’d be getting in there early and would want some breakfast, so I googled “best breakfast Phoenix” found the New Times site and chose a spot. 

The Laid Back F`a-me Caffee 

Bill navigated his way out of the Alamo rental lot and I programmed the GPS to take us to F`a-me Caffee.  It was just an upscale cafe in a strip center.  On our own we would have never found it and that would have been a great loss, so thank you New Times.  We took this photo at about 9 AM.  Apparently, that was during a lull, because by the time we left, the place was hopping.

F`a-me was the perfect place to relax and have a bite between our flight and our day of sightseeing.  We started with a coffee for Bill and a hot chocolate for me.  A little later we ordered, French Toast for Bill and a Croque Madame for me.  In a word, DELICIOUS.

We loved the service.  It was friendly, but without chirpy people telling you their name, chatting you up and trying to rush you through a meal.  After we had eaten, I presented Bill with our choices for the day.  The Westin wasn’t available to us until after four and it was getting close to 10. My vote was the Celebration of Fine Art, a three month art show in its thirtieth year, held in big white tents.  That sounded good to Bill and we headed off to continue having fun.

The Detour

I confess, I’m very structured.  I like having a solid itinerary and sticking to it.  Bill is very fluid.  He thrives on not having any itinerary at all.  I have discovered if I will just let him flow from time to time, we’ll be more likely to enjoy the things we do together.  Drives me a little insane, but the current of his flowing river is a lot stronger than anything I can offer up, so I’ve learned not to let myself get drowned.

The F`a-me Caffee was mere minutes away from the Celebration of Fine Art tents.  When we got there, Bill asked if we could just drive around a bit and I said, “Of course,” even though every ounce of me was straining towards the white tents of the Celebration.

I would say we entered a very upscale section of Scottsdale, but I think that’s about the only scale they have there.  This part of it was known as Airpark, because it was near Scottsdale’s regional airport.  Driving along we passed the TPC Scottsdale Golf Course, which still had signs up for the Waste Management Phoenix Open from the week before.

Then suddenly, we were in a sort of design district, with lots of consignment stores.  To his credit, Bill did ask if it was OK to stop, but I wonder if I’d actually been able to keep him from doing it.  We probably killed an hour browsing through the consignment stores and I will confess that I enjoyed it.  This was prime merchandise and the staff just let us browse.

Eventually, we hopped back in the car, made our way back to the big white tents and visited the Celebration of Fine Art.  Come back next week and I’ll tell you about it.

 

Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, International, Restaurants & Bars, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

The Last Day of Cruising

Palma de Mallorca, Tapas Walking Tour, Beewi Tapas Bar
Spanish tortilla mushrooms in a sauce patatas bravas and a typical Mallorca sweet cake at Beewi in Palma de Mallorca

TRAVEL THERE: TAPAS TASTING IN PALMA DE MALLORCA

Confession, this is where my travel journal ended.  For some reason I happily journaled all through the trip and just quit after our day on the French Rivera. Another confession, while I blogged about most of this trip in the weeks right after the cruise, life got busy and I took a break that lasted longer than I anticipated.  So eleven months after the cruise, here I am finishing up the last few posts of this trip.  Glad you are still with me. 

Large Storm in a Small Teacup

While traveling is fun, it is also tiring and while traveling with your friends has a lot of benefits, after the trial by vacation we’d been on, it was time to go home.  Everyone needed some personal down time, but it was still a few days away.

One of the things that got my visit to Monaco off on the wrong foot was a scheduled meeting with the photographer.  Bill hadn’t wanted to have a photographer at the vow renewal ceremony in the first place, because he thinks the onboard photography thing is a racket – one that charges entirely too much.  However, the photographer was non-negotiable.  Since he didn’t want the photographer there, he really wasn’t interested in a meeting with them to look at the photos and when it conflicted with his desire to go visit Monaco, well, Monaco won.  I’m so ruled by the things that I am supposed to do, that I wasn’t able to blow off the appointment with as much aplomb as he was, especially since there was no way to contact her and let her know what was going on.  We just stood her up.  I felt bad for the photographer.  She was just trying to do her job.  

Eventually, she got in contact with us and I was able to apologize.  The appointment was reset for this day.  If we had gone in Monaco, then we would have gone on our own and quite possibly would have said thanks, but no thanks, except for perhaps a few as gifts to our friends.  As it was, we ended up with the whole crew of us in the very small space of the photo office and not everyone was on the same page.  It was also the very last moment.  If we didn’t make a decision right then, there would be no photos for anyone.

The photos were beautiful.  The price was astronomical.  Some folks thought that I should have every single one.  Bill was paralyzed with sticker shock.  I just wanted it to be over.  We arrived at a compromise that wasn’t quite what anyone wanted, but we moved on.

The Shore Excursion

Everyone went their separate ways after the photo storm.  We knew we’d be seeing each other at 2:15 for the Tapas Walking Tour.  The meeting place instructions changed and even after we started gathering on the pier, there seemed to be some sort of question about where we were supposed to be.  I think our crew was almost as ready for us to go home as we were.

The good news was our guide was somewhat better on this day.  She loaded us on a bus and delivered us to  Bellver Castle.  It was really just a photo op with a great view of the harbor.  From there, they parked the bus and we set out on foot.

Our first tapas stop was El Pesquero, a sea-side patio restaurant.  The food was delicious and the patio was amazing.  I personally could have just stayed there and been perfectly happy.

El Pesquero was in the shadow of the old cathedral, so our walking tour began there.  We passed lovely plazas and canals along the way and then we arrived at Beewi.  Beewi was just a small cafe with nothing much to recommend it, besides the food and what they served was delicious.  Deb and I agreed the view in the cafe was also quite nice, if you like to look at handsome Spanish men.

Next up was Es Rebost where we were able to order whatever we wanted.  I went for something with beef, since we hadn’t had any of that yet.  Then it was time to head back to the boat, where an absolute delight waited for us.  Come back next week and see what I mean.

Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

It’s Nice in Nice!

Travel There: Lunch and Shopping in Nice

Life on a cruise:  another bus ride, another meeting point and another meal.  That about sums it up, but come on with me and enjoy Nice.  While I’d still take Cap d’Antibes over Nice, there nothing not to enjoy about the city.

An Dining Opportunity

One thing I can easily say about this trip is that we bought more food onshore than we usually do on cruises.  Some of that may have been because our shore excursions were such marathons and not all of them included a meal.  However, I think it also had a lot to do with Jim and Melanie.  One of their primary interests at every stop was where to eat and drink, while Bill and me on our own tend to find other things to do.  I’m not complaining though.  It was fun.

Though it seemed as if we’d just left the sidewalk cafe in Cap d’Antibes, the first order of business in Nice was to find another sidewalk cafe.  This time it was Le Gande Balcon and we were getting more than a snack. 

Bill and I both had prawns and oh my goodness, I have rarely seen such big ones.  Mine came with pasta and Bill’s came with risotto.   Glasses of wines and adult beverages were enjoyed by all.

A Shopping Opportunity

Le Grande Balcon was in the middle of a shopping area.  Nearby shops filled the sidewalks with their wares and a little further down was an open air market.  We’d all been so busy being tourists, very little shopping had been happening, in spite of all the shopping opportunities the guides had forced on us.  Those opportunities usually came with a pretty heft price tag.  Though there was one more day of touring left, no one wanted to get home without the requisite souvenirs, so after our wonderful meal, we hit the shops.

The shop closest to the restaurant had laminated place-mats and for some reason Bill was all over them.  He picked out four odd place-mats – two with roosters and two with cartoon cats.  They were the absolute last thing I would have chosen as a souvenir of this trip, but hey, Bill rarely shows any interest in any souvenirs.  So, if he wanted plastic place-mats, by golly, I thought he should get plastic place-mats.

Further down I found a shop of linen goods.  They had a darling dress I knew my sweet next door neighbor would love, so I had to get that.  Continuing down the street we wandered into the open air market.  I found a delightful vendor offering gifts of lavender sachets in the printed cotton which Provence is known for.  That’s where I bought my souvenirs.

Visiting the Beach

There wasn’t much time left, but we wanted to get a few pictures of the gorgeous beach.  We headed back to the meeting point, which had been across from the beach.  We wished for a few more hours to explore the area, but we had minutes, not hours.  Another reason for us to head back to the French Rivera someday.

After having time for just a few photos, it was time to get on the bus and ride back to the ship. We had a quiet afternoon in our cabin.  Bill napped.  I caught up on my journal and did some reading.

That evening the rest of the gang had decided to fork out big bucks to eat at Eden.  They say it was fabulous and for the first time in his life, Bill actually admitted that he wished he’d had any idea it would have been so good.  He actually wished that he had spent the money.

Instead, we had dinner at the Cosmopolitan, which was actually the third time we ate there.  I was surprised Bill didn’t want to go back to the Italian or French restaurant, but I think it may have had more to do with proximity than anything else.  We enjoyed the downtime.

After dinner we took in a show called Gilly and Girl in the Theater.  It fit the easy-going mood of the day – just a couple doing love songs and ballads.  We strolled the shopping area where various events were supposed to be happening, but it was all just a come on to get passengers shopping.

Even the shopkeepers didn’t want to participate, so we just went back to our cabin.  Guess what!  We’d both left our keycards in the room and had to go back to guest services.  We giggled all the way there and all the way back to the room.  We’ve traveled entirely too much to have both made that mistake on the same evening – but that’s just what we’d done!

One day of touring left.  Come back next week for Palma de Mallorca.