Friday, August 28, 2015


I will never forget the first time I saw London.  I had dreamed of seeing this old city when I was a little girl watching Peter Pan, as a teenager seeing My Fair Lady and as a young adult reading so many novels about the British Royals from Henry the VIII to the current house of Windsor.  Your flight will probably land in Heathrow, one of the largest international airports in the world and the airport itself is an adventure.  People from virtually, every corner of the globe, rush to claim their bags, speaking languages that I had never heard before.

From there, we took a double decker bus to transfer to our hotel.  The accommodations in this great city are as varied as the nationalities encountered at the airport.  Most rooms come with a full English breakfast every day.  The Brits early morning meal differs from ours, only slightly, offering tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans, but include also, eggs, sausage, bacon and toast with butter.  Of course, tea is their beverage of choice and I avoid the coffee in England, it is not the best.   This generous meal is a great way to start a day of nonstop sightseeing.

There is so much to see and do in London that I can only touch on the most popular sights today.  On our first trip we jumped on a Hop On Hop Off double decker bus to just get the lay of the land and it worked really well for us.  Our first view of the majestic Parliament Buildings on the Thames, took my breath away.  I had seen the pictures a million times but to see them in person is so different.  I sat on a bench for a few moments so I could be right below Big Ben as it rang Westminster chimes on the hour. Yet another, "goosebump" moment for me

 Among my first stops was St. Paul's Cathedral which has the second largest dome in the world (the largest is St. Peter's in Rome) and is an iconic feature of the London Skyline.  Climb to the top of the dome and experience the Whispering Gallery where you can speak lowly and your companion can hear you, clearly, on the other side of the dome.  Another "must see",  is Westminster Abbey, the site of so many royal coronations.  It also contains the crypts of many of them.  My favorite place in Westminster Abbey is Poets' Corner where the likes of Chaucer, Lord Byron, Dickens, Kipling and more recently, Laurence Olivier, among many others.  Though arguably the greatest of them all, Shakespeare is not buried here but is honored by a memorial.

From there, we moved on to the Tower of London.  We did the Crown Jewels tour and a tour given by one of the Tower's famous Beefeaters.  It was well worth doing.  If you are going and have planned your trip more that six weeks prior, you can arrange to do the Ceremony of the Keys, where you accompany them on the evening rounds as they lock up the allegedly, haunted Tower.  Though I have yet to do this myself, I am told that the Beefeaters consider it part of the job to scare tourists to death on this tour.  It is something I will do on my next visit.  It is a very eerie place when you can stand in the spot where Anne Boylen lost her head on the orders of Henry VIII.  Built in 1066, the Tower has a very long and sordid history that is well worth exploring.

Of course, no trip to London is complete without a visit to Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard.   The Guard has performed this ritual since 1660.  It takes about 45 minutes and is done daily from April until the end of July at 11:30am.  Any other time of year, check the schedule before your visit so that you sure to see it.

I also highly recommend a stop for high tea at Fortnum and Mason's or Kensington Palace.  This is a nice British tradition and it is still done today as it was a hundred years ago.  The tea sandwiches are very good and the sweets will satisfy any sweet tooth.  On the day that we schedule high tea, we always plan on a very light dinner because it is all that is necessary after this late afternoon snack.

Lastly, do not, I repeat, do not, miss London Theater on your visit.  I try to see at least one or two shows on every visit.  Tickets for the most in demand shows should be purchased prior to your trip but if you aren't picky about what you see, tickets are readily available through your hotel concierge or at the theaters themselves.

We love London and always eat in the Pubs.  We have met so many delightful people, both locals and other tourists. (Believe it or not, I once met a woman in a London Pub who knew two of my daughters.)    Pub fare is usually very good and reasonably priced and with the strength of the British pound, reasonable is a good thing.  Again, there is an unlimited variety of dining options for you to chose from budget to gourmet, or grab a delicious meat pie from one of the many shops, to eat as you explore.

Well, that's it for today, I will blog on London again, sometime in the future because I have just touched on the many things to do and see.

Until next time, safe travels!

Westminster Abbey

Tower Bridge
St. Paul's Cathedral
Tower of London

Beefeater at the Tower of London
Big Ben

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Orleans

Need a quick four day getaway, then try one of our favorites, the beautiful city of New Orleans.  We always, stay in the French Quarter so we can walk to just about everthing.  .

We love those walks past the many unique specialty shops and the antiques dealers.  Every corner provides some kind of street entertainer that perform to the delight of the tourists and music resonates through the whole area.  Be sure to stop by the French Market for souvenirs.  It is full of many vendors with everything you can think of, offered at a good price. After a leisurely stroll down the Mississippi River, a  "must do"  tourist stop is Cafe du Monde to snack on beignets, that are covered in powdered sugar complemented by the chicory flavored coffee that is served with them.  As you guiltily savor this New Orleans delight you are serenaded by the ever-present music.

After this savory snack, you can take a tour of the Garden District that is full of gracious and stunning southern homes and enormous Pin Oak trees.  Or take a horse and buggy tour that stops at the oldest bar in New Orleans where you can order a drink delivered right to your carriage. This is a wonderful way to learn the history of this lovely southern city.  Other tour options include a Swamp tour through the Louisiana Bayou which is like entering another world that is full of alligators.  It was well worth seeing.  Or you can opt for a Cemetery Tour.  New Orleans cemeteries are very unique because people cannot be buried underground as the city sits below sea level, so centuries ago, they designed a cemetery system that is really interesting and unique.  One of the highlights of these tours is a visit to the tomb of the Queen of Voodoo.  Voodoo has had a presence in the city for centuries and for those who are interested there are many museums and tours available to further explore the darker side.  A visit to the Mardi Gras Museum is educational and a nice way to spend some time.

The best time of day in New Orleans, is meal time.  The dining options are endless and the local dishes have to be tried.  A Po'Boy sandwich (NOLA's answer to a hoagie) for lunch usually consist of meat of some kind or seafood.  Of course the choices for dinner on at least one evening should be jambalaya or gumbo and the more daring among you, should try alligator.  I have tried all three while visiting and really enjoyed it.  One dinner should be reserved for a trip to Emeril's or NOLA, Emeril Lagasse's restaurants in his hometown.  It is well worth doing and I enjoyed every savory bite of it.

In the evenings, a stroll down Bourbon Street, while sipping a frozen margarita (or just about any drink of your choice) will provide you with some entertainment but when you want to settle in somewhere,  the options are endless.    We have spent many an hour at a piano bar singing along to show tunes.  Or on other occasions, we have stopped into a local Irish pub.   And of course, there are many local jazz clubs where you can enjoy the music that put New Orleans on the map.

I am always so sad to leave this lovely place but I always leave with great memories

Until next time, safe travels!

At the French Market
Jackson Square

Horse and Buggy tour

Thursday, August 13, 2015


One of our most memorable family vacations, and one that I highly recommend, was to the beautiful state of Wyoming. We began out trip in Cody, Wyoming, a small town with a very western flavor.  There were accommodations to suit every pocketbook and family restaurants in abundance.  During the summer, Cody hosts a rodeo every night.  Tickets are very reasonable and readily available.  My children, without exception, relished this very new experience.  During the day, I would recommend a trip to the Buffalo Bill Museum for those of you interested in the Old West.  Cody sits at the northeastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park, so I would recommend that your book accommodations early.

From Cody, we drove to Yellowstone along an incredibly scenic stretch of highway.  Our older children were full of questions and observations and the younger kids seemed awestruck.  Of course, Old Faithful was a high point but do not miss Cascade Canyon.  The sheer depth of the canyon is incredible and it is sight that you won't soon forget.  The thing the kids enjoyed most was the abundant wildlife.  Buffalo stretching out for miles on all sides gave you some idea of what the pioneers experienced.  Pelicans, elk, moose, deer and even a couple of coyote grazed by the roadside in close proximity to the cars and we were just enthralled.  I recommend that you allow at least two full days in Yellowstone just to see the most popular things but you could easily spend a week exploring this fascinating place.

We left the park reluctantly and headed for Jackson Hole.  The Grand Tetons rise from the flats in a manner that takes you by surprise.  Jackson Hole is a tourist town that offers a tremendous amount of family oriented activities.  Take a horseback ride up the mountain and have a real chuck wagon dinner, under the stars.  Or, take a boat ride across Jenny Lake and hike up the mountain.  At Jenny Lake, don't miss the Chapel of the Transfiguration.  This simple little log chapel was designed so a large picture window behind the altar, frames the Grand Tetons.  My kids were absolutely silent as they sat in this little church that was so moving in its simplicity.   For the more adventurous, white water rafting is available at whatever skill level you desire.  Until you have had this experience, you can't begin to know how much fun it is.  As we floated in calmer waters, we observed dozens of bald eagles along the river's edge.  Jackson Hole offers plenty of shopping for the teenagers and a daily shootout and stagecoach rides for the little ones.  A great family destination with plenty of hotels and condos available.

Check out Wyoming, it is well worth the trip.  Until next time, safe travels!

Chapel of the Transfiguration

Old Faithful

The Beginning

My cousin asked me recently if there was anything that I would do differently, given the opportunity.  I told him that I had missed my calling and if I had it to do all over again, I would become a travel writer.  He looked over his glasses and said, "Well, just what is stopping you?"  I didn't have an answer.  His wise words stayed with me and evolved into this blog.  The only thing that I love as much as travelling is sharing my experiences and adventures with others.  It is my hope that my readers will find my tales interesting and informative.  Would love to hear your feedback.  In the meantime, compose a bucket list and don't waste one second making it happen.  There is a great big, beautiful world out there, full of wonderful people with so much to share.  Embrace the opportunities.  Until next time, safe travels!