TRAVEL THERE – DEFINATELY NOT ON PAR WITH PUNTA CANA
The Dining Room
The happy face you see above only appeared one time in the dining room at Sandpiper Bay and when he actually sat down to eat this delicious looking crepe, he was sadly disappointed.
At Punta Cana we had three delicious choices for dining and we thoroughly enjoyed them all at various times. If it was a buffet meal, the tables were burdened with delicious choices. Whether we should blame stingy management or Covid, we’re not sure, but the one choice we had for meals at Sandpiper Bay was disappointing by comparison.
At Punta Cana, we wandered around multitudes of bounteous tables. We had a large plate in our hands and were allowed to serve ourselves whatever we wanted as much as we wanted. At Sandpiper Bay, they hid the food behind those irritating cough panels and dished up scanty servings of whatever was on for that particular meal.
At Punta Cana, you could always find a waitperson to get you more wine, more silverware, another napkin, whatever you needed. It wasn’t exactly five star service, but it was adequate. At Sandpiper Bay, you were virtually on your own. We figured out where they kept the opened bottles of wine and served ourselves most of the time, but the wine wasn’t as good as Punta Cana either.
At Punta Cana, meal time was one of our favorite events. At Sandpiper Bay we were lucky if we found enough of anything we liked to keep from being hungry. Not exactly the luxury experience we expected.
I hate to keep kicking Sandpiper Bay around the room, but the dining was a pretty sad situation. Before our four nights were over, we did find things to enjoy, but it just wasn’t the experience we’d anticipated from our previous Club Med stay.
Another marvelous thing about Punta Cana was the entertainment. The Boss of the Village was almost a natural entertainer and you could tell he made his people rehearse. Night after night we saw great shows. They were not professional, but they were something they could be proud of.
The entertainment at Sandpiper Bay was pitiful. It was so sloppy in its execution that you knew all they’d done is have a verbal walk thru. No one had a singing voice worth anything and instead of being funny, they were silly. And sloppy. Did I mention sloppy? Costumes never fit and were barely pulled up over shorts and bathing suits. Wigs were never combed and always awry. The Boss of the Village was there, but she was among the sloppiest and the silliest. She was barely filling in the blanks, not leading the way to quality anywhere in the resort.
I’m not bothering to catalog menus or describe any of the various shows, because nothing was worth noting. We’d show up each night in hopes of something, anything to eat, to drink, to pass the time, but always left a little hungry and very disgusted. None of the other meals were any better, but it was the evenings which were the most pathetic.
Come back next week and I will try to find something worthwhile to share with you. We were together and we weren’t working all the time, so there were good moments. We just had to make them ourselves, because there was little on offer from the resort.
So, sometime during the winter, Bill built a bunch of shelves in my attic. Yes, we have separate attics. What that means is that I get most of the larger attic. Now he built those shelves so he could navigate more easily to his stuff, but I’m not going to complain, because shelves are shelves and I love them.
However, winter is not an optimum time to reorganize your attic, so I used the shelves to make Bill a path to his stuff and went on with my life, waiting for better attic weather. While winter is not optimal for attic cleaning, summer in Texas is impossible, so when spring hit, I started on the project. I began with a corner of the attic with books and games, but lo and behold my shelves were broken. So, I unloaded everything on Monday, but Bill didn’t get around to fixing them until the last thing Sunday evening.
That left my guest bedroom looking like a storage room, but to tell the truth, it had already been leaning that way, which was the second impetus for reorganizing the attic. Frustrated in my efforts to complete that job, I started working on summer-izing my closet. A lot of my clothes can be worn year round, especially since this is Texas, but I do have seasonal stuff and I keep the off-season on a third row of hanging bar in my closet.
Switching out the season in my closet is a big job and I made it bigger this year by forcing myself to actually try on everything that was going to stay in the to-wear area. Last year I lost down to my goal weight, but before I had any time to enjoy it, I got a monster case of hives, which threw all my discipline out the window. I couldn’t exercise and the meds turned me into an eating machine. That made me angry, which caused me to eat more and for months I just hid beneath those finger tip sweaters and coats I love to wear, trying to ignore those extra pounds.
In March, I worked on a serious attitude improvement program and at the end of it, I bit the bullet and started back on Noom. I’d say I know at least ten health and fitness coaches, but I’m just not into smoothies and supplements, so I go it alone with a little app to make me accountable. I’m having a rough start with a lots of up and down, but that’s the nature of weight loss at my age, so as long as I stay on the plan and the overall direction is down, I’m trying to suffer the spikes with grace.
A lot of people go on diets so they can buy new clothes in a different size. I go on diets so I can get back into the clothes I already have. After my time in the closet last week, I have four feet of summer clothes I can’t wear and at least four feet of clothes that I wish were too big. Segregating the too small stuff saves me time when I’m getting ready, but also provides a great motivation to stay on track with my diet, because those clothes I can’t wear are my favorites.
But wait, just going through my clothes did not satisfy that urge to purge. Next, I attacked the drawers and cabinets in my bathroom. On Good Friday I woke up with the same organizing bug, decided to skip the new networking meeting I had intended to attend and headed back into my closet. The hanging clothes were all organized, but the rest of it also needed a purge. All of this resulted in more stuff for the attic. So, Saturday night I moved all that next to the stairwell and carried it upstairs on Sunday. No, you do not want to see my upstairs right now, but Bill finally fixed the shelves, so guess what I did with all my “spare time” this week!
When I was a little kid, my parents did the whole Easter thing, but somewhere along the way, my dad quit going to Christmas and Easter services. He said he went the rest of the year, so he was going to make room for all the visitors. For years, we stayed away from church on these big attendance days. Once I was on my own, I did not follow his lead, but this year I was going to.
If you’ve been keeping up, Bill and I are church shopping, again, a job we don’t particularly enjoy, but becomes necessary from time to time. We’ve visited several churches with varying degrees of success, but haven’t found the one. Last week, Bill just wasn’t up to it and this week I wasn’t. So, when my bestie called and invited us to join her for Good Friday services, that was a good way to work in some worship without visiting a strange church – her church is my old church. It was a great service and I enjoyed seeing my friends.
Afterwards, we went to Casa Mama, again. It’s her favorite. I’m on a diet, so I didn’t care.
My plans for Saturday underwent many changes. Initially, I was going to meet my Dot friends, of the local Polka Dot Powerhouse chapter, for a walk. However, the organizer got sick and I was the only “for sure” attendee, so I redirected my exercise endeavors to my gym. Then I came home and organized my earrings for a while, which was the last job in organizing my closet.
I had been going to go meet my bestie on the other side of town after my walk, which would have been at the end of her dance lesson, but without the walk, it made more sense for us to meet on our own side of town. So she came and picked me up. For lunch, we went to one of my favorites, Fable & Fire. Yes, I know the service is slow and they’re a tad bit expensive, but I love the vibe. It was my first Saturday visit, so I was pleased to discover they have live music on Saturday afternoon. It made for a pleasant lunch. I had the salad with the fruit and nuts – yummy!!
After lunch I got back to my earrings and finished up the closet job. Hubby was taking a nap on the sofa, so I sat down to read a little, which turned into a lot.
Since I always wake up early, so matter whether I need to or not, I used the time to get ahead on my weekday tasks by doing some social media stuff. Bill and I shared a quiet coffee time together, then we went out in the yard for some of that unpleasant, but necessary stuff that needed to be done.
Afterwards, I got cleaned up, because we were supposed to be going out to run some errands, but when I walked out cute and ready to roll, someone was relaxing on the couch. So, I started reading again. He changed couches and I moved to the couch he vacated to continue reading. I was getting chilly and thought about changing clothes, but it seemed as if we were going to have an at home day, so I decided to just change into lounging clothes. The minute I sat back down on the couch, he was ready to roll, so I changed again, but this time into something a little warmer.
We needed to buy a birthday gift for a nephew and the last time I’d been to the Dallas Museum of Art, the gift shop had a good assortment of cute kid stuff. So, we went there, only to discover all the cute kid stuff had sold out. Nada! So, we just enjoyed the museum for awhile. We spent most of our time in the European Art, something we hadn’t done in a while and I must say I liked what was on display. Some old favorites were in different spots and there were other items I either hadn’t seen in a while or didn’t remember ever seeing.
From the museum we went to Fadi’s. He likes the schwerma and I love the veggies. It was delicious as always. Next stop the grocery store, then home again, home again jiggedy jig.
For a girl on a diet I sure did eat well this weekend, but it was a lot of salad and veggies, so nothing to feel guilty about. Come back next week for some more of New York and the usual Memory Keeping 101. Then we’ll see how I did on my diet this week and if I got my attic back together!
Traveling is my thing and every year, when the Travel & Adventure Show comes to town, I feed that passion. I remember the first year I happened into it with my hubby at the Dallas Convention Center. He was more excited about the Belly Dancers on the Global Beats Stage and I didn’t worry him by picking up every brochure in sight, like I do these days, but I knew I’d found something.
The next year, bestie went with me and a tradition was born. We schedule our day around various speakers, grab every brochure that even slightly interests us and get our picture made at the photo booth. It’s a good time.
This year she had a dance lesson and we met afterwards. Confession, the last few times we’d been, it want’s the marvelous hit it had been in those first few years and we couldn’t even blame it on Covid. Somewhere along the way they’d moved to Dallas Market Hall and it just wasn’t what it had been. So, bestie and I decided we didn’t need to rush over there. We could have lunch first. I mean we’re not about to miss it, it had just fallen short in helpfulness since it first came along.
So, we grabbed lunch at Torchy’s Tacos, near one of her dance studios. We have one in Rockwall, but I rarely get there. In truth, I think it’s a little pricey for street tacos, but that’s me. This time it was well over $20, basically for fast food, but I did splurge and get a specialty margarita. It was bigger than the standard margarita and while Deb complained her regular margarita was a tad tart, mine was awesome.
Then it was on to Dallas Market Center. This year did not feature some of the big name travel types we’d seen in the past, but I thought it was an improvement over the last few years. The first time it was at DMC it was pathetic and the Covid years were tough, but we’ve hung in there and this year it really was worth the effort. It’s easy to be worth the price, because it was only $10. What else can you do for $10.
We started off with “How to Travel Solo, from the Experts” in the Savvy Traveler Theater, for Deb, who is contemplating a test drive in the world of Solo Travel. There had been a similar seminar last year, but it had been a total waste of time. This year was better – marginally so, but better. Deb was encouraged to discover more and more companies are doing away with an upcharge for solo travelers, but disappointed the cruise industry is slowest on the uptake.
The next seminar was right back in the same place, but it was Gabe Saglie of Travel Zoo talking about “How to Prioritize Travel in Uncertain Economic Times. He talked a lot about trends and offered up travel tips, but his goal in life was to get us to sign up for Travel Zoo. He made it sound good enough, that I actually just did so.
We immediately went to “”The Insider’s Guide to Visiting Arizona Parks,” but the seminar was misnamed. It should have been, “Look What I Did.” Some lady who worked for the Arizona Office of Tourism spent the time showing videos which are on the National Parks’ websites. Apparently, she had been tasked with making the National Parks websites more accessible and she was very proud of her videos. Thank you, I know how to use the internet. You have wasted my time. She got away with showing one. We left when she started showing the second one. She may have made the websites more accessible to the general public, but she made her presentation a real snorefest.
Next up was “Cruise Tips, Trends and Personal Stories from Our Adventures at Sea,” in the big Travel Theater. This seminar was also misnamed. It was an advertisement for Princess cruises to Alaska. The MC for this talk was Alanna Zingano, a social media travel influencer (No, thank you!) and Jeff Corwin. I confess, he looked a lot like Steve Irwin, the Australian Nature Dude who got killed by a stingray, so I thought he was that guy’s son. Not so. Somehow Jeff Corwin has gotten a job as the Nature & Adventure Ambassador, probably because I’m not the only one who thinks he’s Steve Irwin’s son. Anyway, Alaska is not at the top of my travel list and Deb has been four times, so that was a loser.
The final seminar of the day was probably the best. Someone named David McGuffin did a talk titled, “Exploring Europe: Top Destinations, Attractions and Experiences.” Of course, he was advertising his European travel company.
David and our friend from Travel Zoo were the most informative guys at the travel show, but I wish that wasn’t giving them more credit than they deserve. In the past, we’ve seen Samantha Brown, Rick Steves and other travel luminaires behind the podium. So, it was not a star-studded event. However, they have ramped up the quality of their vendors and I felt as if it was more worth the trip than it had been in recent years.
David Solomon at the Biblical Arts Museum
The other big event for the weekend was an opening reception for a new exhibition at the Biblical Arts Museum. I’m not sure how I get on these lists, but the museum invited me to opening of the “Flowers of the Holy Land” Exhibit. A little honesty here. I’m not really fond of this museum. It’s mostly a warehouse for copies of various religious art – including Thomas Kinkade prints. They also cram entirely to much stuff into the space they have, so actually enjoying one of their oversized look-alikes is difficult to do.
I can’t say I walked away from this exhibit with much more respect for what they are doing. Bill and I both thought an exhibit of my own photographs from the Dallas ARboretum would offer better photography and certainly FOREVER would have done a better job printing the large format photos. The refreshments offered were bad wine and bagels – a little odd, but the jazz band which played was actually pretty good.
Glad I went, so I know what’s up. I wonder if the exhibit will be there later this month when the Crowley Chamber Concert will be. While I’m not crazy about the museum, I do love the Crowley Chamber Concert Series.
For now, I must run! See you next week for travel, memory keeping and another weekend report.
“Best calamari I’ve ever had!” That statement, from a Facebook friend is what got us to Carmine’s. I was looking for an authentic Italian restaurant to enjoy during our stay. The reviews on Google were also overwhelmingly good. Why wouldn’t we go?
So, after our Rock Pass Extravaganza, we returned to the hotel for a little cocktail time, before our dinner. We visited with a nice couple from Shreveport on the sofa across from us. One of them was a music teacher, so Deb, my friend the opera undergrad and ballroom dancer, had plenty of fodder for conversation.
I have to say, I’ve always considered myself the chatty one, but in my old age something has happened. I seem to spend more time listening to other conversations than making them myself. Am I just lazy or have I suddenly gotten boring? I’m not sure, but even when I am out with my husband, who is certainly not loquacious, I find myself not saying much. Perhaps having a platform, like this blog and my Facebook feed, where I can write what I want to say uses up most of my words. I like being able to edit before I hit the send button.
I asked above why we wouldn’t go to Carmine’s. Well, one reason might be because it was Friday night on Times Square. What a zoo! The photo above was actually taken on an earlier stroll up Broadway. On this night, the marijuana fumes were thick, the knockoff bag sellers were everywhere and it was crowded. Crowded yes, but not as crowded at Carmine’s. We had reservations – even so, we had to wait.
By the time we sat down, we were just happy to get a table, any table, but we certainly didn’t have a good table. We were tucked into a nook at the top of a stairway. It was hectic and loud. As all the reviews warn, the servings are huge, well more like ginormous. While it may be an amazing experience for a large group, we felt both overwhelmed and lost in the shuffle. I wouldn’t recommend it for couples.
It was not the best calamari I had ever had. It was probably the most calamari I’ve seen on one table, if size counts, but I didn’t give it any extra points. It was also not the worst calamari I’d ever had. It was the real thing, not those plastic rings they sometime claim are calamari, and certainly good, but not the best.
What was incredible was the garlic bread. I know, we were carbing out, but we’re eating Italian, right! That stuff was made in heaven. The wine was OK. I think we had some Chianti for a bit of a change.
When it was over, we left behind enough food for four people, and we hadn’t even had an entree. After yet another long day of walking, we were exhausted, so back to the hotel and ready for another day.
Next week we’re headed to the Frick and a bucket list item I hadn’t actually hoped we’d manage to tick off my list, but we did! Come find out what it was.
Well, my bestie’s big weekend arrived, The Texas Lone Star Ball. Some time in the Fall she had gotten a new dance partner and I’ve been sharing her with him on weekends as they took lessons and practiced.
Around the first of the year, Deborah asked if I’d be available to go with her to their first competition in mid-March. I love any excuse to hang with my bestie and I try to see her dance any time I can, but I’d never seen behind the curtain at a competition, so sure, I was ready to check it out.
Friday, she picked me up around two and we headed off to the Galleria Westin. We checked in, took our luggage to the room and unpacked for the weekend. Then we hit the mall. Now, we are big shoppers, that’s for sure, but we weren’t casually checking the sales. We were on a mission. Deb needed pantyhose – not the big box store variety with reinforced panty, but sheer toe-to-waist pair.
See, while Dancing with the Stars competitors just come out with as little in the way of clothes as possible, in real competitions, each style of dance has a mode of dress. Deb would be dancing both Smooth and Latin numbers. Her smooth ensemble was complete, but she needed the panty hose for Latin. The ladies are supposed to wear fish net hose for Latin and apparently that’s a very uncomfortable prospect if you don’t have a regular pair on hose on underneath and in Latin, you also have open toed shoes and a very, very short skirt.
So, we hit Macy’s first and they recommended WalMart. Knowing WalMart didn’t have what Deb needed, we tried Nordstrom’s instead. Back in the day, the hosiery department was part of accessories and held pride of place on the first floor of any department store. A wide variety of brands in rows of self serve counters vied for your attention with promises of sleekness, durability and style.
Heck, I can remember when there was no self-serve. You walked up to a counter and discussed your hosiery needs with salesclerk which would then pull out selections for you to choose from. The your selection would be put in a thin box with tissue and sometimes a ribbon. I miss those days.
At Nordstrom’s we discovered hosiery had been demoted to the second floor and resided in one lonely fixture with very limited choices, but that put them lightyears ahead of Macy’s, who thought you could only get pantyhose at the big box stores.
That done we had one more small task. Though I’d been talking to Bill for days about the dance competition, he waited until thirty minutes before my departure to freak out about my absence, which resulted in me forgetting to put in a dress-up outfit for the Gala Dinner. Deb wasn’t even sure how dressed up they would get, but if everyone else was decked out, I didn’t want to be sitting there in the jeans and sweater set I’d be wearing the rest of the day.
I hit a store called Image, which had throw away fashion on the cheap, where a found a black swing jacket with silver glitter woven into it. At Lovisa I found a cheap rhinestone necklace to dress up the turtle neck sweater I’d wear under it. I was gala ready!
While Deb’s been dancing in competitions for a number of years, she’s always done it on the cheap, skipping the money eaters like Gala Dinners and expensive restaurants, but her new partner goes first class. So, she decided to go all in this time and I had the privilege of going with her. That meant dinner at Oceanaire with her partner and his teacher.
The prices on the menu were not the denominations Deb and I usually see. Sure, we’ll splurge on something like a birthday dinner, but Oceanaire was expensive, no two ways about it. There’s two ways to go about a meal like that. You can go in budget first, eat a Caesar salad and be practical. Or you can dive in with both feet and break the bank. Deb and I went for the latter.
We started with escargot, had the Seafood Mixed Grill for our entrée and finished off with cheesecake. Each and every bite was out of this world, but we ate so many bites that when we finished we felt like balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. After dinner, Deborah and Aimee (the dance instructor) went up to the room to try out hairstyles. I read for awhile, giving them a thumbs-up now and then, but eventually fell asleep. I woke up at mid-night, had to get ready for bed and then go back to sleep.
Why I Will Never Dance in Competition!
The alarm went off at 4 AM. Deb needed to be on the floor rehearsing at seven and she had a lot to do before then. Stage make-up is the first hurdle. A little lipstick and mascara will not do on the dance floor. Then there are all the things that go on before you put on your gown – this kind of hosiery, that kind of undergarment, etc. and so on. Then getting on the gown is like suiting up for a joust.
At that point, Aimee came in to go after the hair, which had been in hot rollers while the rest of the activity was going on. This is a big deal. Hair can’t just be fluffed up, it also has to be anchored into place so that it won’t fall as Deb makes her way around the floor. Apparently, there are hair pros who start styling even earlier than Deb and I woke up, but Deb doesn’t feel as if she’s in that league yet and she also doesn’t want to spend the money. They ended up with something which looked very 40’s starlet and I doubt a pro could have done any better.
After the hair was glued into place with copious amounts of hairspray, it was time to add the jewelry. The jewelry we’d selected for her smooth performances, a shimmering full length gown in in gunmetal gray decked out with pearls and crystals, was long dangling clear rhinestones earrings and a clear rhinestone necklace. The piece d’resistance was her bright red elbow length gloves which matched her bright red lipstick.
Meanwhile, I fell into a pair of jeans, a pair of sweaters and a pair of boots I’d brought to battle the extreme cold of the ballroom. I put on some makeup, but my hair was a total loss. That was OK, with peacocks like Deborah running around, no one was going to pay any attention to me anyway!
A Day of Dancing
At 7AM Deb and Richard, her partner, were on the floor to warm up. I was in charge of keeping up with the dance heats and videoing their performances. It’s more difficult than you might think. From 7:30 AM on into the evening, every 90 seconds there’s a new group marching out on the floor for their heat. Deb and Richard had 24 performances and then Richard has his pro had at least that many more.
Though Deb has explained how the heats work and how they score it doesn’t quite click with me. Some points are awarded for just showing up to dance and for the number of heats that you dance. When you are out on the floor, multiple judges are looking at multiple levels of competition. So, even though everyone may be dancing a Paso Dobles or a Viennese Waltz, there will be various age groups and categories of the dance competing at the same time. You and your partner may be the only Intermediate Silver in the Senior Amateur competition and you may end up with first place, but it was actually the only place.
You can usually tell some of this, like who’s dancing with a pro and whose dancing with an amateur, by the number the man wears on his back, but then there are amateurs like Richard, who dance with both and who dances in everything from Intermediate Silver to Full Gold levels. Yes, it’s confusing.
The morning was given over to smooth dances waltz, foxtrot, tango and Viennese waltz. Then while the country dancers took over the floor, Deb ran upstairs and put on her Latin outfit, changing everything from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet. I have to confess, I thought the second half of the day was more fun – salsa, samba, paso dobles, bolero, even the hustle! Though I would have loved to get on the floor and rock out a bit, one look at the precise costumed dancers on the floor kept me permanently bolted to my chair, but I might have chair-danced a little.
By the end of the day, all the sambas and rumbas ran together and I did good to keep from falling asleep. The judges changed out every hour. I was glued to the table announcing heats and taking photos. I love DEb, but I was done.
Wrapping It Up
The Gala Buffet didn’t have much pizazz to it. I could have saved myself a few dollars, but we didn’t know that. After the buffet, the dancers went in to participate in the awards ceremony and see more dancing. I went to bed. I didn’t go to sleep until later, but I read while I reveled in the quiet of our hotel room, hoping the ringing in my ears would go away some day.
The next morning we got packed up and met for breakfast there in the hotel. After that we loaded up the car and headed home. I was glad to get there. I had a quiet day at the scrapbooking table and finished up my 2022 everyday album. I am now officially caught up.
Come back next week, Deb and I will be attending the Bubbles and Bunco Brunch to benefit Lone Star CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) – a fun party with bottomless mimosas and a great cause. All the other usual things will be happening, too. So, stay in touch.
It was supposed to be Joe Allen’s and Moulin Rouge, but I had a little planning hiccup, so we ate at Sardi’s instead. All of my life I’d heard of Sardi’s, so I wasn’t too upset, until I got there. BORING!! There is no longer any sizzle, only a very tired restaurant, mediocre food and a zombie waitstaff. Let’s move on to more exciting things.
So, while Sardi’s was a real disappointment, Moulin Rouge was not. There was frisson in the air as we approached the Al Hirshfield Theater. Everything was under construction along the street, which added it’s own chaos to the gathering crowd, wearing their masks and whipping out their phones for entrance into the theater. Apparently, actual paper tickets are a thing of the past.
Once inside the theater, we were all Bohemians, but you’d better not be carefree enough to take off your mask. All around me I heard stories of a show being stopped while an usher beamed a light at unmasked people. Someone else said they’d seen people thrown out of the theater for taking off their masks. A flyer warned us of all the things we were not supposed to do and just in case we missed it, an usher explained the seriousness of the crime of masklessness.
The musical was everything you’d want a Broadway production to be. The set, as you can see above, was amazing. The costumes were great. And the voices? WOW!! We were in the balcony, but we could see and hear everything with ease. We loved it.
I’ll be honest though, I did not love the music of the musical as much as I did the music of the movie. It wasn’t the singers. It was the songs. What I didn’t know is that the show was written in a way to include current music in the story. I’d especially loved some of the songs in the movie and was waiting eagerly to hear them. One of the first songs belted out was Lourde’s Royals. It fit in perfectly and it’s a song I like, but it was my first clue that I’d be hearing different music that night than I had anticipated.
It’s a great show and very much like the movie, but not exactly like the movie, even beyond the music. Logistics was part of it. You just can’t fit the movie set of Moulin Rough into a Broadway theater, so you saw only the inside of Satine’s dressing room, not the huge elephant it was on. While absinthe, the dangerous green spirit, plays a role in the live show, it is somewhat different than the movie. In the movie it was almost exalted, while in the show it is more clearly a villain.
Should you go? Absolutely! It was one of the highlights of the trip, but don’t eat at Sardi’s. All in all this was a red letter day. To go to the Met and a spectacular Broadway show, all in one day, was pretty amazing.
We trotted back up Broadway to our hotel, doctored our various ailments and got ready for the next day. Getting old really does suck, but it is better than the alternative.
Next up, a walking tour of Mid-Town, so be sure to come back next week for the Morgan Library, the New York Public Library, St. Patrick’s and Top of the Rock.
My Saturday highlight was FOREVER’s Pet Milestones Online Event, but I started my day at the scrapbooking table. I’m working on a personal album, because I will have a client’s album to start soon, and I want to be caught up with my own stuff. Over the weekend I got up to October 2022, so I only have a few more pages to go.
My bestie is a Memory Keeper, too, so she joined me to watch the Milestones program. She doesn’t do it as a business, but she is her family’s historian and has been working with me on albums for years. However, I think she’s about to abandon the traditional scrapbooking route and embrace the digital side of things, because her sons have no interest in her carefully created scrapbooks, but they dig digital.
She enjoyed the Pets focus of the presentation, because even though she’s inherited all her family’s media and memorabilia, her phone is full of cat photos and videos. A number of the segments were devoted to auto print projects and we were both fascinated with how quickly they could be print ready. I still enjoy the creative process, but for those who just want to get it done, Auto Print is auto-amazing!
After the hour long program it was time for lunch. We decided to try the new seafood restaurant around the corner. The Anchor is a casual restaurant and bar. There’s a patio, but it was a bit brisk for that on Saturday, and there’s a bar, but we were there to eat.
You go to the counter to order, get a number to display on your table and then they deliver the food to you. I opted for a shrimp basket and margarita. The food is affordable, but the drinks are a little pricey in my opinion. I guess one makes up for the other. However, both food and drinks were great.
I’m sure they will do fine on that busy corner, but I found the layout a little disappointing. The primary view is the business end of the restaurant, including a peek into the double door leading into the kitchen and the utility sink. Very utilitarian and it certainly embraced the industrial décor vibe, but I’d rather not look at it.
Then it was time to go shopping. I still had birthday coupons burning a hole in my pocket, so we went to Firewheel, where I could use them all. First stop, DSW! I walked out of the store with a new pair of shoes for all of $10. Then on to Kirkland’s, where I scored a 20% off deal on the cute rabbit in the meme above. Next stop was Chico’s and they had a valentine-themed top on the clearance rack. I hadn’t had any valentine-themed clothes for awhile and decided I’d get it for next year. I only had to contribute a few dollars to go along with my coupon. Last coupon stop was White House|Black Market. My coupon would have almost covered a cute pair of earrings, but I opted for a gorgeous bracelet which would take a few more dollars out of my pocket, but guess what! I had earned enough in their loyalty program over the years to pay the balance! Score!!
You work up a thirst when you’re coupon shopping! Or maybe it was the fried shrimp? Anyway, we went to Sonic to grab a soda and the server overheard us talking about my birthday coupons and gave me a large drink for 99 cents. Another score! Then we made our way to the plaza to enjoy the fountain (and a little people watching!) Then it was time to go home.
Sunday was a quiet day. We visited Lutheran church and marked it off the list, which was too bad, since it is so close to home, but it didn’t meet any of our criteria, except perhaps for the decoration of their sanctuary, but that wasn’t enough to get us back.
We had a few stops to make before we went home. Deb and I had visited Tuesday Morning on the way home from Firewheel and I saw a few things I thought Bill might like. I was right and we did buy a Cuisinart frying pan, to replace the scratched up thing we needed to replace, a table cloth and Bill found a treat he wanted to try. Next was Costco for beverages and Bill found a few other things he wanted to try. Then we enjoyed some of our favorite fast food, Cane’s!
At home, Bill retired to the sofa for a little nap and I hit the scrapbooking table. And then the weekend was over.
The upcoming weekend I will be going to a dance competition with my bestie. She’s going to dance and I’m going to be her dresser and moral support. Come back next week for a report on the world of competitive dance, after traveling to NYC and enjoying some memory-keeping.
So far in NYC, our days have started with a long list of attractions. On this day the list narrowed down to the one thing I’d been wanting to do for as long as I could remember – visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. No aimless wandering for this Museum Girl. I’d read everything I could get my hands on. I had my tickets in hand. I had also printed out a map from the internet, highlighting the most important areas and numbering the order we should see them in.
I know sometimes you look forward to something for a long, long time and when you get there it is a disappointment. That was not the case in this situation. I loved every minute of it and would go back again tomorrow – but my map would look different.
Getting There was Part of the Fun
I’ve mentioned before how perfect the Sheraton New York Times Square hotel was as the headquarters of this vacation, but I’m going to say it again. If I ever get back, I’ll stay there again.
Excited about the day to come I woke up at 1:30, 3 and 5. At six I finally got out of bed and made myself ready for the day. We had our breakfast and set out on the sidewalk towards Central Park.
It was a glorious day, crisp and clear. Other tourists and New Yorkers went about their business. Something that surprised me about the city it was the lack of crowds. I thought the sidewalks would be shoulder to shoulder and the streets, bumper to bumper, but it was oddly sedate. Since I’d never been there before, I can’t tell you whether this was the result of the pandemic or I’d just over-imagined it.
I cannot tell you the joy I felt strolling through Central Park. It’s a beautiful place and the city is so lucky to have it. Even though I’d never been there, it felt familiar, because so many movies and TV shows are filmed here. I kept saying to myself, “I’m here! I’m really here!”
We took a turn to the east at the famous Bethesda Fountain and made our way to the Met. If I’d been wanting a crowd, here it was. A line snaked around the front of the building and down the sidewalk. Unfortunately, those were the people with tickets. It really didn’t take long, because it was just a security check and then we were in. We’d entered on some lower level and I’d planned my tour to begin on the main floor, so getting oriented was a bit disorienting, but soon I was gawking at all the things I’d dreamed of.
Galleries of Heaven
Our day at the Met began with European Sculpture and Decorative Arts. We saw the Robert Lehman Collection and visited the European Paintings. I was in heaven. I love it all. I really couldn’t believe I was really there.
We took a lunch break at The Eatery. Like the café on Ellis Island, everything is prepped and wrapped in cellophane, but the fare is a notch above. The atmosphere is much tonier also. Everything is modern, white and accented with blonde wood. If you’re going to be at the museum all day, like we were, then it was the perfect spot for lunch.
We enjoyed the break and headed towards the American Wing. Those Europeans might have been around longer than us, but we caught up fast. I wandered around just as amazed in this wing as I had been during the morning. As much as I love paintings and sculpture, decorative arts are my passion. I can look at vases, cups and spoons until the cows come home. The Met delivered. Deb and I wandered into a section which held case after case after case of humble items made beautiful. These are not the showstoppers of the museums, more like the pantry, but I loved them.
It was time for another break, so we went to the American Wing Café for a glass of wine. This is such a great space. You are actually in the American Wing Gallery, not hidden away like The Eatery. Table space is at a bit of a premium and I suppose the abandoned glasses, cups and plates were a sign they were a bit understaffed, but it was a break we needed.
I’d saved ancient history for the end of the day and we saw as much as we could, but we were pooped. I wish I’d had time to go back the next day and start filling in the blanks, because I know there were many, but there’s just so much that a brain can digest on a single day. We walked across Central Park to catch the subway, which delivered our weary bodies almost at the doorstep of our hotel.
But the day is not yet over! Come back next week for a taste of Broadway. We’ll go to the All Hirshfield Theater for Moulin Rouge.
Get ready for a wild ride! It’s my birthday weekend!
My favorite restaurant in Dallas is Javier’s, has been forever and it was my top choice for celebrating my birthday, this year and every year, but on Tuesday the earliest reservation possible on Friday night was 9:00. That wasn’t going to roll.
Bestie suggested the new Sear Steakhouse here in Rockwall and I was really glad, because I have been wanting to visit. I just can’t think past Javier’s on my birthday. We made reservations for hubby, bestie and me at 7:30. Here’s how it went.
Let me say first the food is AMAZING. I loved every bite and so did everyone else at our table. I started out with Lobster Bisque to die for, moved on the the perfect porkchop and topped it off with creamed corn better than my mother used to make. Bill stuck with a Wedge Salad and Deb did have a steak.
Let me also say the service was impeccable. Brandon guided us through a wonderful meal and fielded every complaint with grace. Complaint? Yes, there were a few.
The décor has a cool, hip edge we really enjoyed and the chairs were even comfortable, something some restaurants seem to think is no longer necessary. So what’s the beef? Sometimes, the closer something is to perfection, the more the flaws stick out.
The first jarring detail was the fake red rose in the cheap vase on the table. Had there been no floral offering, we wouldn’t even have noticed. Even the cheap vase would have been alright. What wasn’t right was the cheap fake rose. Any fake flower would have been a disappointment, but this was one of those tightly rolled numbers Amazon offers in bunches of 24 for $12.99. It didn’t even pretend like it wanted to look like a rose. It just looked fake. Don’t want to pay for real roses? I get it. Carnations and lilies are nice. In fact, a more convincing fake carnation would have been passable. What they chose was awful.
So in a critical mood we looked around at the fake roses on all the tables and that’s when we noticed the big bouquet of fake tulips. I will admit these were a better quality silk flower than the rose, but they still looked fake. If they hadn’t been there, we would have had a better view of the lovely fireplace they must have spent a fortune on. And that’s my point. In this case, less is more. Give the fake flowers and cheap vases to a nursing home or something. Just don’t leave them in the restaurant to spoil what is otherwise a very delightful décor vibe.
Other complaints? Seven dollars for sauces. A good steak doesn’t need a sauce, but if you are going to offer sauces with your steaks, just add it to the price of the entrée or if you have to charge something (I looked at other steakhouses, like Lawry’s, and they do have an upcharge, but it’s $4, not $7). My creamed corn was $7. Why would a sauce be that price? We wondered if it was the size, but the corn was a generous serving and when our server showed us the size of the sauce plate, it was about the size of half a business card.
Bread was the final faux pas. They had bread and it was good, but we didn’t get any until we were almost to the main course. As we sat, enjoying our drinks, we asked if they had bread. The answer was yes and he’d bring it as soon as it was ready. We asked for it again when the appetizers were served. Then I got down right ornery about it when they started trying to remove my soup bowl. At that point it was a matter of principle. We had a reservation at 7:30 on a Friday night. If a restaurant is going to have hot bread, that seems the right time to put it on the table. When the bread finally arrived, I scooped of the last vestiges of the best lobster bisque I ever had and then I let them take my soup bowl.
We did have dessert. We shared some carrot cake and it was really good, but it wasn’t chocolate. They had chocolate bread pudding, but I don’t like bread pudding, and they had a flourless chocolate cake, but it was about as generous as the sauce servings and I wanted to share. The carrot cake slice was so big, we actually had enough to take some home, but I forgot the box on the table.
Super Sized Saturday
My birthday weekend was only beginning. I had a very busy Saturday. It started with some early morning scrapbooking and coffee with Mr. Bill in the sunroom. Then Deb and I headed across town. First stop was Sam Moon’s. Deb has a dance competition in a couple of weeks and nothing in her jewelry collection did justice to her Latin dress, which has flames sewn around the skirt. She also wanted brightly colors long gloves to go with her shimmery grey smooth dress. We found both and I managed to get out of there without buying anything. Sure I wanted to buy the very big white Easter hat which looked lovely on me, but Easter Sunday is not what it used to be. I’d need to have tickets to the Kentucky Derby or Ascot to justify it.
Next up was the Dallas Contemporary where her son Gino is the Director of Development. They were having an art book fair for the Dallas Library and Gino had a table selling some of his zines and such, with his girlfriend, who is also an artist.
Along with buying a surprise envelope from Gino’s old fashioned vending machine, we walked about the other tables, lingering at the Deep Vellum Bookstore offerings, where Deb showed me a t-shirt Gino had designed. When the girl behind the table started trying to tell us how talented the artist was, Deb said, “I’m his mom.” The girl got all flustered and excited like Deb was a celebrity.
The envelope is Gino’s work, the yellow lady was by another artist at the fair. I would have paid a quarter to get the envelope. I am a big fan of Gino’s work. I’m also a big fan of Shepard Fairey who is currently on exhibition is the galleries. Mr. Fairey’s beautiful and interesting work will be on display through late July and you should go see it. Those are his murals on the collage at the top.
So, for lunch, we stayed in the Design District and ate atEl Bolero. Now, this is a restaurant I can recommend with vigor. Is it perfect? No, but they also aren’t claiming to be Rockwall’s “local high end steakhouse” either. It’s just a funky Design District Mexican restaurant with great food and a really enjoyable patio. I had something called the Texas Peach Margarita. That’s reason enough to visit, right there. OMG good!! But then we shared the Nachos de Tejas and they are worth a visit, too. Just go, you’ll love it. We finished off the meal by sharing a Snickerdoodle Bundtlet from Nothing But Bundt Cakes, who had sent me a birthday coupon.
But my Super Saturday is not over! Then I left Deb at a dance lesson and picked up hubby for bowling. I don’t bowl. I hate bowling, but I love my Dots.Polka Dot Powerhouse is an international networking group for women. I belong to the Plano/North Dallas Chapter and I’ve got to tell you, it’s the bomb! Is there great business networking? Of course, take Sarah Head of Sarah K Photography. She and I connected, because Spot On Images does not do head shots and she doesn’t do real estate photography. Our meeting was just a couple of weeks ago and we’re already sharing leads.
However, what’s more important is that Sarah is a new friend. We don’t just see each other at lunch meetings, we also go bowling and we’re both looking forward to the pool party in July. And the same is true for a wonderful group of women I have met since November and have already begun to call friends. Want to visit? I’d love to host you one lunch or dinner meeting. You’ll be hooked!
Slow Down Sunday
After such a busy weekend, we were ready for a quiet Sunday. We visited another church. It was Church of Christ. While it was a good sermon and there were nice friendly people, the acapella music and the uber-plain sanctuary did not fit the model church in our head. We were going to try Lakepointe’s Classic Service, but it’s an 8 AM service. The goal is to get Bill to go with me more frequently and he was never going to attend at 8 AM. So, the search continues. We’re going Lutheran next week. Trying to find a mix that fits a born Baptist and a raised Coptic pair is not easy.
After church, a quick trip to In & Out, because we had a coupon. Because it was a coupon kind of day, we decided to visit a few of the stores who offered me birthday coupons. We picked up some stuff for the house at Target and At Home, but I saved the DSW, Chico’s and WHBM for shopping with my bestie. Mr. Bill was on the sofa for his nap by 3 PM. I read a little bit and started organizing photos for next album, but ended up just playing my favorite game on my phone.
And that’s it! Come and visit me next week when we’ll enjoy a little more Travel Talk about NYC and some Memory Keeping 101, before the next Weekend Report.
Travel There – Happy Hour and Dinner in Lower Manhattan
What a day Deb and I had! It was just the kind of day we love, running from early until late and seeing things we’ve never seen before. We rode the New York subway from Mid-Town to Downtown. We visited the sculptures around Battery Park. We island hopped on ferries. We climbed to the crown of the Statue of Liberty and connected with our ancestors. We saw museums, historical gravesites, a church and a famous sculpture.
Now it was time to slow down. Deb, my co-conspirator and best bestie ever, thought we should find The Dead Rabbit. The same person who suggested Fraunces Tavern ( a real winner in our book) had also said his friends and family enjoyed The Dead Rabbit. So, out came the phones and we googled it up. (See, I’m flexible. I don’t always have to have a map.)
If you googled it up today, it says it is “The World’s Most Awarded Pub.” Last year it said the bar was Manhattan’s best kept secret. Personally, I’m glad I was there when it was a secret. The name of the pub is loosely related to a historical Irish gang that ran in the area back in the days when Ellis Island was busy. Personally, I think the founders of the pub heard about the gang and decided it would be cool to name the pub after it.
The founders also couldn’t quite decide what kind of establishment they wanted to have, so they have three – The Taproom, The Parlor and The Occasional Room. Though all three are part of the same place, they are three distinct destinations with three different audiences.
Deb and I just wanted a drink, so we went to The Taproom. Deb does cocktails. She loves to browse the drink menu, discuss things like bitters and ryes and then try new things. My cocktail is a Margarita and the rest of the time I drink white wine. I love red wine, but the histamines make me miserable, so I stick to white.
I think she either had an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan and I had either a Margarita or a Pinot Grigio – or we both had one of each. I don’t think it matters. Deb struck up one of her conversations about bitters and ryes with the bartendress which resulted in some ideas she wanted to try as soon as she got home. I mainly stared off into space and was so happy to be there. I was not working and it was blissful.
If you remember, we’d made dinner reservations at Fraunces while we were there and we were still just around the corner from it. Lower Manhattan is actually a pretty small place. After our two drinks at The Dead Rabbit Taproom, whatever they were, we struck out to follow up on our dinner plans.
The place was virtually empty, which was a crying shame. Not only do I want the restaurant to support the museum upstairs, but oh my goodness, did they ever have good food. We shared a ginormous porkchop with mac & cheese. It was time to get back to Mid-Town, so we headed to the subway and did a fine job of getting back to our hotel.
After our very active day, we needed a little patching up. Deb’s heels had been rubbed raw. I’d broken my prescription sunglasses and a finger I’d banged up back in Dallas needed further attention. We found a Walgreen’s and bought up what we needed to keep going – moleskin, super glue and New Skin. Oh, and they had Diet Dr Pepper!! Happy day!!
One might think we couldn’t top a day like we’d had, but that one wouldn’t know we had the Metropolitan Museum of Art on our schedule, something I’d been wanting to see my whole life – even more than I’d wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. The only reason we didn’t go to it on this day, the first full day in NYC, was because it was closed on Wednesdays.