Accommodations, Architecture, ART, Attractions, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, Performing Arts, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Bagpipes in the Desert

TRAVEL THERE: WESTIN KIERLAND RESORT OFFERS UNIQUE ENTERTAINMENT

Remember how I was reeling from lack of sleep when we got to the Westin Kierland Resort, but all the staff was trying to welcome me with more information than I could grasp.  Well, I figured I had misunderstood them when they told me I could go hear a bagpiper at the Dream Weaver Canyon on various evenings, but they do in fact have a bagpiper that comes and plays their bagpipe.  It was actually pretty cool.  Let’s go!

Farewell Phoenician

It was almost as hard to quit taking pictures at The Phoenician as it was to say, “No, thank you, we don’t want anymore, tea or dessert.”  We backtracked out of the resort through the golf courses and made our way back to the Westin.  Along the way we stopped to pick up another gallon of water.  You have to stay hydrated in the desert.

The Bagpipes Are Now!

Getting back to the hotel via the grocery store took a little more time than we anticipated, so we screeched into the parking lot and trotted into the hotel, hoping we could find the Dreamweaver Canyon.  The canyon is actually a patio outside the hotel and by the time we got there, all the good seating was gone and lo and behold, as advertised, there was a kilted bagpiper entertaining with his bagpipe.

It really was a cool experience, but it was also quite incongruous.  The Dreamweaver Canyon area is by a small man made lake beside a golf course.  In the lake is modern non-figurative sculpture.  There’s also a fire-pit.  What that has to do with kilts, Danny Boy and the theme from Outlander beats me.

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Since seating was at a premium we found ourselves wandering around taking pictures from every possible angle and then just for the heck of it, we took pictures of each other.  I will also admit that while I like bagpipes, I’m really only interested in hearing a song or two.  This guy played for what seemed a long time and the more he played, the more people started wandering off to other places, so by the time he quit, there was actually room to take a seat around the firepit.

Photo Safari  

After the last lonely note had sounded over the fairway, we took a little photo safari around the lobby.  We were all done with our photo taking until we walked out the front door and were overwhelmed with the sunset. 

You might think we’d already done enough for one day, what with shopping at the Quarter, having tea and the Phoenician and then hearing the bagpipes, but no, the day is not yet over.  I was as surprised as you are.  Mr. Bill was ready for action and I had done my homework, so as soon as we got back to the room, we reorganized for another adventure and headed to downtown Phoenix for yet another adventure.

Enjoy these photos from our photo safari and then come back next week to enjoy the Phoenix First Friday Art Walk.

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

Lucking Into a Good Time

Scotttsdale’s North Italia Restaurant

TRAVEL THERE: AN UNCOMMON EVENING AT KIERLAND COMMONS

So, we’ve had an amazing day.  Early morning travel, fun shopping, spectacular art show and an itsy tiny set-back that was quickly resolved.  The Westin provided us with a brochure called “Local Restaurants” and using what we discovered there, we headed our for round two.

A Confession

It’s hard for a leopard to change it’s spots, but not impossible.  I’d vowed to be easy-going on this vacation and not let the schedule dominate my thoughts, but I had done my homework.  I knew it was Thursday and so Scottsdale Artwalk was happening in Old Town.  I had plotted out the trolley route on my handy dandy map and was ready ready with information to make it a good time. 

However, I also knew we’d spent the best part of the day in the endless studios of the Celebration of Fine Art.  Mr. Bill was ready to eat and trying to coordinate him with the trolley schedule to view more artists’ studios did not seem like a wise thing – even if Artwalk was happening.  I recommend it to you every Thursday evening, but we didn’t make it.  

Heading to the Commons

So, instead we headed to the Kierland Commons, a nearby playground full of restaurants, bars and shopping opportunities.  Parking was a challenge akin to parking at NorthPark on the Saturday before Christmas, but the travel gods were with us, so we did find something.

Next we strolled around to take in the atmosphere and check out the dining options we’d seen in the brochure.  After a little strolling, North, the restaurant chosen most likely to succeed back at the hotel, did win out as our choice.  However, something was definitely happening across the street, so we went there first.  

The Anticus Gallery Re-Opening Party

Describing Anticus challenges traditional categories.  Yes, it’s an art gallery and studio.  Yes, it’s a book store.  Yes, it’s a jewelry store.  Yes, it’s also a gift store.  It’s most similar to a really good gift shop in a great museum, but instead of the museum you’ve got a studio AND they have a bar.  

When we got there, Anticus had outgrown a space two doors down and was hosting their grand re-opening.  We didn’t realize it was a by-invitation-only kind of thing, but the host soon found us and let us know it was cool for us to be there.  I think it should be noted that Anticus has moved again and they are now down in Old Town (where Artwalk was happening), but please put them on your list and tell them I sent you!  Spreading the word about them is the least I can do after they showed us such a good time.

Though we were serendipitous guests, we thoroughly enjoyed the party.  Bill was feeling very artsy after his afternoon at the Celebration of Fine Art.  He chatted up anyone who’d stay still long enough to start a conversation.  We drank a couple of glasses of cheap wine and handled a good portion of the delicious merchandise.  I doubt the folks at Artwalk had anything on us.   

Closing time rolled around and even though no one was exactly running us off, I felt we’d more than worn out our non-existent invitation.  Besides, we’d headed out to get dinner and hadn’t ticked that off our list, yet.  With some resistance on his part, I dragged Bill out of the shop.  I was afraid he was going to head back to the bar for his third glass!

North waited for us across the street.  Come back next week for that delicious conclusion to an uncommon evening at the Commons.

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, TRAVEL, United States

Hit the Pause Button on Perfection

Here’s one room you don’t want at the Kierland Resort!

TRAVEL THERE: NOT THE VIEW WE EXPECTED

Having been up since since 2:15 AM, when 4:30 PM rolled around I was ready for a nap – especially since I woke up on Texas time and was living in AZ time. However, we were in the lobby of the Westin Kierland Resort and they were doing everything they could to prove to us they were glad we were there.  I just wanted to lay down.

How Does This Look?

The check-in desk was a little overwhelmed when we got there, but the staff didn’t want us to think we were being overlooked, so they were trying to chat us up about any number of things.  They were giving us all kinds of brochures and maps, marking off the things we’d be most interested in and telling us how lucky we were to be there.  I just smiled and nodded.  There was no way I’d remember any of it told to me in my catatonic state.

Finally, we got to check in and I got the definite impression that the cleaning staff hadn’t managed to keep up with the demand.  We’d been pre-assigned one room, but they were hustling to get us into something else, because it was not done.  Bill let them know I was about to pass out in the lobby.

The desk clerk wanted us to be perfectly satisfied with our room and he was a little concerned we’d be unhappy with seeing a little of the parking lot from our balcony.  So he showed us a picture from the room and asked, “How does this look?”  It looked fine, because it wasn’t a live shot and it didn’t have that green container with all the trash bags in it.  He went about checking us into that room.

How Does This Look Now?

Here’s the funny part.  If the clerk had not made such a big deal about the view, chances are we would have gone into the room and directly to bed.  What lay out our window would have been the least of my concerns.  Instead, since he’d made such a big deal about it, I walked to the balcony and whipped open the curtains – and look what was there!

Bill immediately wanted to get another room, but I knew that if I didn’t lay down, I was going to fall down.  I was actually trembling from exhaustion.  I let him go to the lobby and laid down.  All I wanted to do was get a few moments of rest.  Instead I fell dead asleep and my precious husband wouldn’t allow anyone to disturb me.

Hours later I came awake and my first thought was, “Where the hell am I?”  Bill was anxious to go check the room they were ready to move us to.  I was still a little groggy, but totally appreciative he’d let me get my nap, so I was willing to do pretty much whatever the man wanted to do.

A Better View

We checked out the new room  and gave it our seal of approval.  The first thing I wanted was a bath.  After that I unpacked and got our suite organized.  I figured the day was over and we’d just grab a bite at the resort.

Au contrare! Our little nap time and the chance to get all cleaned up had re-freshened Mr. Bill and he was all for heading out again.  One part of me thought, “Are you crazy?” But another part of me was like, “Alight, alright, alright.”  My inner Matthew McConaughey won the day.  I got cute and headed out into the world with my marvelous husband.

 

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.