Monday, November 28, 2016

I'm Lost...In an Airport

You've flown before. You've been in lots of airports.

How come you feel lost in this one?

The world's biggest international hubs like Dubai International, London Heathrow, Hong Kong International, and Paris Charles de Gaulle take being busy to a whole other level.

Hallways that appear to stem out of nowhere, custom checkpoints, re-check-ins, maps that don't seem to make sense, signs in languages you're not familiar with, and multi layers of terminals can be confusing if you don't know what you're looking for or where you're going. What if you land in an international terminal but need to leave out of a smaller domestic one?

You may need to pick up your bags and then recheck them before you leave, going through security again.

International airports in Europe often serve as routine connection points or layover airports for travelers from all over the world.

If you know you will be at a busy hub, plan accordingly. Allow two or three hours if you need to change terminals. Find out in advance if there is a train or bus between the two. Keep your passport and documents handy. Check out the airport's website for a map before you leave home.

Good luck...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Have a Happy Thanksgiving...

Monday, November 21, 2016

Bonjour, Montreal

Notre Dame, Montreal
A Montreal house takes a lot of care. So you've got to worry about pipes freezing and roofs leaking so sometimes I think I'm not here long enough to justify the care it takes, but that feeling evaporates very quickly, as soon as I come into the place.
- Leonard Cohen, writer/poet/singer/artist

Given the proximity to US major cities, one might think Montreal wouldn’t be that much different than others in the Northeast. They would be wrong.

Everything from the architecture, language, cuisine, and culture, Montreal certainly distinguishes itself as a bustling French influenced city. On first glance, high rise buildings might fill the sky but look closer to see the Victorian brownstones at their feet or the stately neo-gothic churches that sit quietly next door.

Speaking of churches, take some time to experience The Notre-Dame Basilica located at 110 rue Notre Dame Ouest. The Gothic Revival style of this massive stone church is as a result of additions and reconstructions.

Once inside, the dazzling combination of blue and gold is almost overwhelming. The effect is to make you feel like you’re sitting outside under an amazing sky. Representing Calvary, beneath the altar, is a magnificent wood sculpture of the Last Supper. Or, if you’re lucky enough to be there to hear music from the great Casavant organ, you’re in for a real treat. Not everyone can play this instrument with its 7,000 pipes ranging in size from 32 feet to a quarter of an inch, 92 stops, four keyboards, and a pedal board.

The stained glass windows, depicting the history of Montreal, were brought to life at Francis Chigot’s workshop in Limoges, France. In fact, the architecture, the blue and gold colors, and the gilded leaves on the columns are all based on the symbolism of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.

You really do need to take some time to sit and reflect. Once you see it, you will never forget it.

If you’re looking for another impressive church, take a walking tour of The Cathedral-Basilica Mary Queen of the World and St. James the Greater. Yes, that’s the name. Dominated by its green copper dome and spires, thirteen statues circle the roof representing the thirteen patron saints of the parishes of Montreal. Inside, the great organ is almost as grand as the one in Notre-Dame. The magnificent interior was built to closely resemble St. Peter’s in Rome.

But, there is more to Montreal than fabulously grand churches. Take some time to explore Mount Royal Park, Montreal’s highest point and a grand lookout where you can see forever. At least it seems that way. Check out Olympic Park with its famous Olympic Tower, home of the 1976 Olympics.
Montreal’s Botanical Gardens, a wonderful 185 acres, includes over 22,000 varieties of plants. The Chinese Garden is a joint venture between Montreal and Shanghai. Visit the Insectuarium if bugs are your thing.

Don’t forget to relax at one of the many sidewalk cafes. People watching, shopping, museum hopping, strolling through one of the city’s wonderful outdoor markets, or bike the city…there is such a variety of things to do.

Check out these facts when thinking where you should take your next trip.
Montreal, surrounded by the St. Lawrence, Ottawa, and Prairie Rivers, is actually an island. It’s one of over 400 islands in the St. Lawrence.

Mount Royal Park was designed by the same man who designed New York’s Central Park.

Montreal has the second highest number of restaurants per capita in North America, right behind New York City. It lies on the same latitude as Venice, Italy. Montreal is the second largest French speaking city in the world, following Paris.

Montreal’s Underground City, covering 18 miles, is a maze of tunnels, shops, and metro stops, connecting apartments, office complexes, banks, museums, and universities.

Exploring Montreal could take days or weeks. Yet, it’s also a city you can go back to again and again…and always find something new to visit.

If you go, here’s a starter kit to the local language…
Hello............................. Bonjour
Goodbye........................ Au revoir
Please........................... S’il vous plait
Thank you..................... Merci
See you soon!............... À la prochaine!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Enchanted Hill

Thompson: Mr. Kane was a man who got everything he wanted, and then lost it. Maybe Rosebud was something he couldn't get, or something he lost. Anyway, I don't think it would have explained everything. I don't think any word can explain a man's life. No, I guess Rosebud is just a piece in a jigsaw puzzle...a missing piece.

Citizen Kane, the movie, and the hilltop structure known as The Enchanted Hill in San Simeon, California have much in common. The first is supposedly based on the life of American newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst and has been labeled the greatest film ever made. However, Hearst prohibited mention of the film in any of his newspapers.

The Enchanted Hill is what Hearst called his home with its magnificent gardens and exotic zoo. Sitting high above the Pacific Ocean, this Mediterranean style country house features guest cottages each named for its view, endless gardens, over-sized swimming pools, and countless terraces. The zoo is long gone but zebras and other critters still roam around the property mixed in with the cattle.
Check out the Neptune Pool, supposedly rebuilt three times before Hearst was completely satisfied with it. Looking at it today…it was worth all that tinkering. Marble statues of nymphs and swans around the pool were carved by French sculptor Charles Cassou. Holding 345,000 gallons of water, this pool was heated year round until the 1970’s. Crystal clear it is still filtered using a sand filtering system.

Slightly smaller at only 205,000 gallons the Roman Pool, apparently styled after the Roman Baths, is decorated from floor to ceiling with one inch mosaic tiles. Blue and orange glass tiles alternate with clear ones having fused gold inside. Looking up at the roof and dome, you see more mosaics…this time midnight blue ones interspersed with stars. Eight marble statues complete the setting. ‘Wow’ is the only word you will be able to utter when you round the corner. 

Back outside, saunter along the Esplanade walkway connecting gardens with the rest of the buildings. Every direction you look provides visual pleasures. Roses, flowering annuals, boxwood hedges, citrus trees, and palms mix with 19th and 20th century statues, ancient sarcophagi, fountains, and the Sekhmet sculptures, four Egyptian pieces over three thousand years old. Stop for a minute on the Main Terrace and look around. Endless views of the Pacific Ocean are to your south and the Santa Lucia Mountains are to the north. In the background you will hear the sound of water, an important effect in Mediterranean gardens.

Hearst inherited the 250,000 acre working cattle ranch from his mother and called it “Camp Hill”, a wilderness place for family members and friends to rough it on camping trips. Keep in mind roughing it meant accommodations included elaborate arrangements, separate sleeping quarters, and dining tents. At one point Hearst decided camping out in the open was not what he wanted. Enter famed San Francisco architect Julia Morgan who worked with Hearst to build his dream home…and it ended up as one of the world’s greatest showplaces.

By 1947 La Cuesta Encantada was completed. Blending the architectural styles of a Spanish cathedral and Mediterranean Revival style houses and utilizing the surrounding California land, this was a creation to behold. After all, who would expect to see this grand structure rising high on the hills complete with grazing cattle and a zoo with zebra to polar bears?

Engineering and architectural features are everywhere.  A gravity-based water delivery system, private cinema with rare books lining the shelves, 56 bedrooms, ceilings imported from all over the world, an indoor pool to delight even the non-swimmers, hidden terraces, doors to secret hallways, an amazing wine cellar, and a kitchen with some pretty fascinating appliances are only a few surprises.

This is no longer just a place for celebrities and famous guests to come and enjoy. It is a palace in every sense of the imagination.

If you go: Hearst Castle is located in the hills at San Simeon, on California Highway 1, about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Advanced reservations are highly recommended, especially during the summer months. Check out or call 800-444-4445.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Palm Springs Art Museum

Chihuly Glass

Think back to 1938. Or, at least, think about 1938. What do know about art at that time?
In 1938 the Palm Springs Desert Museum, specializing in Native American artifacts, the natural sciences, and the environment of the surrounding Coachella Valley was founded. What started as a museum about the desert has evolved into the primer cultural center of the desert.
Since 1938, the Museum has moved several times within the downtown area. In 1958, the first 10,000 square foot permanent structure was built, but by the end of the 60s, there was a need for a much larger building. Since then, the current building designed by architect E. Stewart Williams, was built. Additional growth resulted in adding and administration building, an additional wing, an education center, two sculpture gardens, four classrooms, a 90-seat lecture hall, and a 433-seat theater.
The Museum’s permanent collection of more than 55,000 objects features art of the Americas and 20th Century California art. Collections include modernist and contemporary painting and sculpture, Western American art Native American and Mesoamerican art and artifacts, contemporary studio glass art, photography, modern architecture and design, and graphics/works on paper.
By the area’s many affluent residents loaning or donating individual pieces as well as entire collections, this museum now rivals much more well-known urban metropolitan museums. You will see works from Marc Chagall, Picasso, Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, Louise Bourgeois, Ansel Adams…just to name a few.

Situated 123 miles east of Los Angeles, the Palm Springs Art Museum serves the greater Inland Empire, which covers Riverside and San Bernardino counties with a population of approximately 2.4 million residents. Located in the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs is one of the nine cities in the valley.
Keeping with the vibrant nature of the Palm Springs area and the microcosm where diversity and unique cultures blend, it’s easy to see why the Palm Springs Art Museum membership continues to grow.
If You Go: The museum is open every day except Mondays and major holidays. Thursday evenings from 4 to 8 and every second Sunday the admission is free. With the inside temperature at an even 75 degrees, it’s an excellent place to escape the summer heat while perusing the latest collections. The café and museum store both offer something for everyone. More information may be found at

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Johnny Jet and His Travel Site

Looking for a wonderful resource before you plan your next trip? Want to read what other travelers have to say about a destination?

Check out this website...

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be featured on his site. You can see what I had to say here:

I love finding new sites, learning from other travelers, and planning for my next trip. How about you?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Oasis in the Desert

The Indian Canyons are the ancestral home of the Ague Caliente Band of of Cahuilla Indians.

In the midst of Indian Canyons and the desert is this cool, palm-filled oasis. With a variety of walks and hikes, everyone has a chance to explore some part of this unique landscape.

Minutes from downtown Palm Springs, the green palms and soothing water of this oasis contrasts vividly with the surrounding stark desert landscape.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

8,516 Feet Up

Mountain Station, at the top of the Palm Springs Arial Tramway, is at elevation 8,516.

No matter which way you look, views are amazing.

If you visit Palm Springs, this is definitely worth the ride.

Stay tuned for more information...