Category Archives: Travel

Good News Monday: Praise for Pinot Noir

Here in Oregon, we drink a lot of pinot noir, since there are so many wineries (more than 700 now) making delicious wine.

I was happy to discover that pinot noir is one of the healthiest wine options to choose, the caveat being, of course, “if you drink in moderation”.  (Spoilsports!)

According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, the much-touted healthfulness of red wine is largely due to its antioxidants. Resveratrol, part of a group of compounds called polyphenols, lowers the risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease, among other benefits.

For you non-drinkers, resveratrol is also found in peanuts and berries.

Among red wines, pinot noir has the highest concentration of resveratrol. And, as a top sommelier explains in the article, “Although virtually all red wines have almost no residual sugar, pinot noir typically has a lower initial sugar level before fermentation, resulting in a wine with less alcohol and fewer calories than, say, your average cabernet. [With] its thin skin, pinot noir has fewer tannins, which, while they may have some health benefits of their own, can cause trouble for those susceptible to heartburn.”

Cheers to a great week ahead!

person pouring wine into wine glass

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Lost and Found

I’ve always had a terrible habit of hiding things in “safe” places, only to forget where I’ve put them. Keys wind up on a hook under a hat, jewelry can turn up in coat pockets, a dressy wallet might be in a bag I’ve stopped carrying. I had a near-panic attack when I first got engaged to DH and couldn’t find my engagement ring… forgetting that I’d taken it off to put in my purse because we hadn’t gone public yet.

This sort of thing happens especially when guests are expected, and I’m straightening up in a rush. On days like these, every drawer in my desk becomes a “junk drawer” and stray shoes live under the bed until I have time to put them back where they belong.

For months, I’ve been baffled by the location of some books I bought last year in anticipation of our month- long journey to the UK. I’m a huge fan of Alexander McCall Smith‘s writing, and have been slowly working my way through his delightful 44 Scotland Street series, savoring each one.

I’d read the first four novels and purchased the rest, planning to read the next three on the trip.  But in the chaos of moving house last year (which necessitated having to pack four months in advance) the books never made it into my suitcase.  I assumed I’d left them in storage. After we returned from the UK, moved to the new house and unpacked all our boxes, books #8-onward turned up, but #s 5, 6 and 7 were still MIA. I concluded that I’d left them at our summer house but when I looked for them last month I couldn’t find them here either.

Giving up, I recently ordered book #5 (which I’m currently reading) and figured I’d just have to buy the others.

Today, I moved a file box that was sitting on top of another box in my little home office area and — surprise — books 5, 6 and 7 were grinning up at me! I have no idea why I put them there instead of in the bookcase. Overall, this is a good thing, except that it costs nearly as much to return my duplicate Amazon purchase, so I guess I’m stuck with two copies.

Random question: Why do we say we “lose” our tempers? Isn’t our bad temper kept nicely under wraps most of the time until we get angry and it comes out; i.e. we find— and unleash — it? Maybe the origin of the phrase was to “let loose” our temper? Or if not, it should be.

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Travel Safety: This App May Help

Did any of you see the recent news story about a woman who was savagely attacked while staying at a posh Dominican Republic resort? Here’s a travel safety suggestion from Voyages of Mine.  I’ll be checking out this very apt app as soon as I have a chance.

Have a happy — and safe — weekend! xo, Alisa

woman standing inside alley tunnel

Photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas on Pexels.com

Good News Monday: It’s a Jungle Out There

Some animal populations are on the upswing again. (These are, too.)

  • African elephants, Chad
  • Channel Island foxes, California
  • Beavers, Scotland
  • Mountain gorillas, Rwanda/Uganda
  • West Indian manatees, Florida
  • Blue iguanas, Cayman Islands
  • Asiatic lions, India

                                                                     (All images, Pixabay)

Two Exhibits and a Hotel Surprise

Ah, the holidays are over and I can finally finish writing about our fall trip (late October/early November), which we wrap up with a few days in London and Paris.

One day, as we stroll through the Marais in Paris, we stumble upon a weird but surprisingly entertaining museum with both permanent and temporary exhibits dedicated to hunting and nature.  It certainly makes a change from the Louvre, D’Orsay etc. even if you’re not into taxidermy (which I’m decidedly not).img-0789

More my style is the wonderful Atelier des Lumières installation, an immersive experience quite unlike looking at art hanging on a wall.img-0829Still photographs cannot do justice to these huge projections of paintings by Gustave Klimt and more, set to music to create an intensely dramatic adventure which surrounds you with ever-changing sound and images. Do check out this website if you can’t get there in person!img-0817img-0810img-0816img-0827img-0822We’ve bookended our short trip to Paris with some time in London, arriving October 31. Highlights include a tapas dinner with friends at Ibèrica on Great Portland Street (who roll their eyes at our having chosen Devon rather than, say, Cornwall), lots of walking, and the new production of Sondheim’s musical Company at the Gielgud Theatre. Highly recommend you see this show if you can.

We return from Paris on my birthday and our hotel has a nice surprise: They’ve upgraded us to the ridiculously huge Governor’s Suite — essentially the size of a nice London flat, with kitchen, dining room, two bedrooms, two baths and a generous sitting room. img-0844img-0839My favorite find is the enormous copper bathtub, perfect for indulging before the long flight back to the US the following morning. img-0837First week November, 2018.

It’s True: Copenhagen IS Wonderful

Can’t resist the cliché pic of all time! And despite the corny Danny Kaye song, we did indeed find it completely engaging.

Copenhagen is Scandinavia’s largest city, dating back to the 11th century. The reigning monarch Queen Margrethe II can trace her ancestry back to the Viking Age, making Denmark the world’s oldest kingdom. Cobbled squares, charming narrow streets, many parks and lovely old buildings provide a beautiful backdrop to a lively, modern city famed for its excellent restaurants and air of welcome.

IMG-0695It also has the dubious distinction of being one of the world’s most expensive cities, as we soon discover. It’s extra confusing to figure out what things cost, since 1 DKK is equal to about 15 cents US, a calculation I cannot do in my head.

IMG-0694Having booked this side trip rather unexpectedly, DH and I are woefully underdressed for the frigid, wet weather.  On the plus side, the city isn’t very crowded, but it’s easy to see why anyone who actually planned ahead would likely choose a different time of year to visit.IMG-0697We only have about 3.5 days, so we cram in a lot of walking, sightseeing and eating out, plus two nights at the opera (a fabulous production of Il Trovatore and a less-fabulous La Boheme). Definitely a highlight of our month away.

Day One: We check into our excellent hotel, 71 Nyhavn, which overlooks the harbor. IMG-0726We walk around to get oriented, taking a long trek to see the famous Little Mermaid, which is both smaller and closer to shore than I’d expected. Even in this freezing weather, she draws a crowd.

IMG-0701Dinner at Hummer restaurant, a short walk from the hotel, is delicious. They make an oatmeal-crusted whole wheat bread I need to replicate.

 

Day Two:  It’s Sunday and not much is open, plus the opera is a matinée, so we hit the Thorvaldsen, National Museum,  and Jewish Museum before our 3 pm curtain. We walk over to the opera house (OMG is it COLD!) and take the ferry back, which is much faster. Apparently you can’t pay on the boat, but the ticket taker takes pity on our ignorance and lets us ride for free. Good thing because I do NOT want to swim back to Nyhavn.

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Ugly costumes in lobby, but building is quite beautiful.

Dinner at Havfruen, featuring seafood (the name means “mermaid”) and an odd playlist of 1960s American rock music, is again near the hotel (hey, it’s too damn cold to be very adventurous).

IMG-0724IMG-0730Day Three: We do a little shopping, explore the Round Tower (very cool) and the botanical gardens to kill some time before our late lunch reservation. IMG-0737

Street view from the Round Tower

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Schonnemann’s is a landmark restaurant known for its traditional specialties, open-faced sandwiches and many kinds of schnapps. It’s been recommended by two different friends and is not my favorite type of food but turns out to be quite good and, although a tourist destination, it’s also popular with the locals.

 

Tonight it’s back to the opera house. We’ve now figured out the app for booking the ferry so getting there is a lot more pleasant. Too bad the production kind of sucks — it’s REALLY hard to screw up La Boheme.

Day Four:

Today we visit the Rosenborg Palace which is so dark inside that you can barely tell what you’re looking at, The National Art Museum, and — because we’re unlikely to come back here and should “check the box” — Tivoli Gardens amusement park.

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The sky has brightened by the time we get to Tivoli. It IS kind of amusing to watch the little kids squealing while slamming their bumper cars into each other, and it’s less tacky than most of these sorts of places. Anyway, it’s a good distance from the hotel so it provides an excuse for our last long walk.

 

We’re actually tired of seafood so we opt for a nearby Italian place called La Sirène.

IMG-0769.jpgIt’s dark, quiet and quirky, and the most fun part of dinner comes towards the end, when somehow we end up chatting with the group at the table next to us. They live up near Oslo, are about our age, one couple has a daughter who lives in Dallas, and all are opera lovers, so we find a lot to talk about.

A delightful conclusion to a very delightful getaway.

Last week of October, 2018

 

Westward Ho! and Beyond

Happy holidays, everyone! Time for a quick blog….

We return from Wales to our cramped and clammy cottage.  Neither of us wants to be the first to state the obvious: Devon is not all it was cracked up to be. (Or maybe it is and we just weren’t listening.) In any event, we don’t want to spend another full week here.

IMG-0338What to do? After briefly considering other UK options, we decide: What the hell, let’s go somewhere neither of us have visited and probably won’t otherwise.  Brainwave: Copenhagen! We’ll drop off the rental car early at Heathrow, zip over for a few days, and fly back on the day we were supposed to arrive in London.

Much happier now, with travel plans set, we use our next few days for final explorations of the countryside, including nearby Westward Ho! and the beautiful Lanhydrock estate.

First up, Westward Ho! (yes, that is its actual punctuation).

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Creepy haunted-looking house at Westward Ho! parking lot is decorated for Halloween.

Westward Ho! is a beach town whose most notable resident was writer Rudyard Kipling. He attended United Services College here in 1878 and the first verse of “If” is inscribed on the promenade.IMG-0608.JPG

The town features a large sandy beach and beautifully-painted beach huts.

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Eat your heart out, Bermuda!

Another day, we tour Lanhydrock, a magnificent late Victorian property.

IMG-0649 (1)It’s well worth seeing for the stunning kitchens alone: individual rooms for cheese, game, cleanup etc.  Very Downton Abbey. I covet the copper pans — and of course a room dedicated to making bread and pastry.

The house encompasses many other rooms…

…and extensive grounds.

IMG-0670Best part: lawn care is provided by free-grazing cows and sheep!

IMG-0647A plate provides a useful recipe tip:

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And back to reality: our own little National Trust cottage.

IMG-0678Lanhydrock is so much more my speed. Maybe in another life….

3rd week of October, 2018.