Saturday, November 28, 2009
The nose-numbing crisp winter air of Central Washington tempts at Stehekin, the tiny hub nestled on the slope of the Cascade Mountain range at the tip of the 55-mile-long glacier-fed Lake Chelan. Stehekin Landing Resort (www.stehekinlanding.com) has become a favorite summer/fall destination but unfortunately, they don't rent rooms in the winter. We don't have the equipment - nor desire - to camp in the snow. Two cabins are available for rent so we may just round up some adventuresome friends to join us in this mountainous wonderland where the winter days are short and the piles of snow tall. If nothing else a day trip aboard the Lady of the Lake to the Landing for a bowl of steaming hot soup may be in order. For more about Stehekin in the winter, check out my article in the Seattle Times, November 26, 2009.
Monday, November 23, 2009
If the town is half as much fun to visit as its Visitors and Convention web site (http://www.austintexas.org/), we will have a great time.
Founded in 1839, it sounds like there's a lot of history to be found there. Two free guided walking history tours are offered each week; one of Congress Ave./6th Street (Thurs - Sat. 9 a.m. and Sunday 2 p.m.)and one of the Bremond Block Historic District (11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday). All we need do is register 48-hours in advance by calling 866-GO-AUSTIN.
Getting to Austin will be a snap as Alaska Airlines (http://www.alaskair.com/) just started non-stop service between Seattle and Austin, (every day but Saturday when they loop passengers through a San Jose, CA, connection to get back to Seattle). Alaska's introductory fares are starting at $119 each way.
We'll be staying at the Courtyard by Marriott at the Downtown Convention Center. The conference rate of $185 per night drops to $135.96 AAA rate per night of our weekend stay. However, a friend who just returned from Austin reports even better deals; she nabbed a 4-star hotel in downtown Austin for $105 a night, including taxes, on http://www.hotwire.com/
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Hotels were a different story: The Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa (http://www.marriott.com/) that two years ago had January city view rooms at $269 per night currently is offering a $144 (AAA rate) per night. That seemed an incredible savings until Joel, this travel duo's researcher, found the Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio, (www.hiltonhotels.com) located on the same intersection as the Banyan and Marriott, had ocean view rooms for our January time period at $99 per night. We booked it.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Our nightly ritual for the three of us -- Joel and I and Rob, the traveler from Australia with whom we forged a friendship as we hauled suitcases up the hill in Folegandros -- was to sip a Kitron (or two) at Kitron Naxos, a popular waterfront bar, across the street from the marina. We had actually begun our nightcap tradition in Folegandros, sipping Greek raki, and we continued the ritual sipping Kitron in Naxos.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Batobus, (http://www.batobus.com/) operates river boat taxis that travel the Seine making stops at eight notable locations in Paris, including Notre-Dame, Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower. A day pass, that allows hop-on, hop-off stops is 12E these days. Multi-day passes are also available. From the back deck of the boat you can get some great photos although the glass enclosed walls and ceilings can get a bit steamy when sitting inside with a large group of other tourists.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
We arrived at the restaurant at 6:40 p.m., twenty minutes before it opened for the evening's dining. There were only four others outside the restaurant when Joel read the hand-written menu posted outside the door. Not wanting to perpetuate the image of Americans -- who eat unfashionably early -- we went down the street and nursed a small glass of rose, finally giving in to hunger and returning to the restaurant at 7:20 p.m. In that 40 minutes the place had filled. Jam-packed filled.
We sat shoulder-to-shoulder, with other diners, our tables only inches apart. The only thing we had to decide was "rare, medium, or well-done" and the rest is taken care of by teams of efficient wait staff. We were served a green salad with walnuts before the entre: steak frites, french fries and a cut-it-with-your-fork rib steak drenched in an herb sauce that lived up to decades of accumulated accolades. Wait staff whirled around the crowded room, but kept a watchful eye on their assigned diners, as the moment we finished this first plate, they returned with platters from which they served us a second round.
And of course, we had to try a dessert; a delightful artery-clogging, calorie-laden Profiterolles Chocolat a plate of ice cream filled puffs swimming in dark chocolate (almonds are good for you though, I reasoned):
We had this gastronomical romp for 69E, just over a $100US which included a bottle of house wine. It was one of the best food buys we had, particularly when 1E = $1.50US. When we left at 8:30 the line of people waiting to eat their stretched into the street:
Reservations aren't taken at this place but we recommend it highly no matter how long the wait. We dined at the original restaurant location, however its website http://www.relaisdevenise.com/ says it is now open in Manhatten and Bahrain as well.
In addition to the vendors the organ grinder kept the atmosphere lively much to the delight of children drawn to his music. Just a bit further down the block this kid stole the show.