Georgia Fan

I’m a Georgia fan! You’ve seen my posts on wild, undeveloped Cumberland Island and the lovely, languorous Savannah

cumberland-beach-path-3

Cumberland Island

Savannahstreet

Savannah

But here are five Georgia gems that may not be on your radar… and should!

Thomasville

Come see the gorgeous houses built by the rich “Yankees” (e.g., Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, Mrs. B. F. Goodrich, Alexander Graham Bell) when they came down from cities in the Northeast and Midwest in the late 1800’s.

thomasville house

Col. Oliver Hazard Payne,  an organizer of the American Tobacco trust, who also assisted with the formation of U.S. Steel, and was affiliated with Standard Oil, bought Greenwood Plantation in Thomasville for a shooting plantation. (photo, circa 1899. courtesy of the Pebble Hill Plantation)

“As the terminus for the railroad, Thomasville was accessible from the north and, during the late 1800’s, became known as the ‘Winter Resort of the South.’ In the beginning of this era, Northerners and other visitors came to Thomasville for their health, breathing the pine-scented air as a curative for pulmonary ailments. They were soon joined by friends to enjoy hunting, fishing, and an active social life, including golf, horse racing and bicycling. Thomasville came to represent the best of Southern hospitality with the lavishness of the resort lifestyle…

IMG_0292.jpg

random gorgeous house in Thomasville

Once they discovered that it cost less to purchase land than rent hotel rooms, these wealthy families bought property and built grand Victorian mansions and plantation homes. Many of these plantations are still owned by the families who built them and…have been lovingly restored,” according to Thomasville’s website.

IMG_0302

I desperately wanted to buy this pre-Civil War house!

Thomasville is definitely worthy of an overnight. Stay at The Paxton and request the first floor room, as they don’t have an elevator and who wants to lug heavy suitcases upstairs?! The Paxton is in Thomasville proper, so you can walk to restaurants around this small town. Dine at the Sweet Grass Dairy, a cheese shop (123 S. Broad Street) and restaurant with cheese-centric dishes. Shop at Kevin’s Fine Outdoor Gear & Apparel (111 S. Broad Street). In addition to hunting and fishing gear, Kevin’s sells beautiful tableware, splashy coffee table books, and even offers travel services

kevins

(photo courtesy of Kevin’s)

If you would rather experience staying on a plantation, book a cottage at nearby Pebble Hill Plantation…or just visit for an afternoon. “Hard times during the Civil War and afterwards during Reconstruction created rundown, disheveled property all across the South. Pebble Hill was no exception. The beautiful Main House, designed by architect John Wind in 1851, was in desperate need of repair when Mel purchased the property in 1896,” according to the Pebble Hill Plantation’s website. “Mel” was one of the rich “Yankees” who came from the Midwest to escape the snow.

IMG_0165

Pebble Hill Plantation garden in winter

For an excellent list of more things to do in the Thomasville area, click here. BTW, did you know that Joanne Woodward was born in Thomasville? You just know she brought Paul Newman (swoon) home to visit!

Milledgeville

  • is on the Southern Literary Trail, connecting places in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi that influenced great novelists and playwrights of the 20th Century. Writers Flannery O’Connor (“Wise Blood,” etc.) and Alice Walker (“The Color Purple,” etc.) grew up near Milledgeville. Visit peaceful and evocative  Andalusia Farm, where Miz Flannery completed the bulk of her literary work when she lived there from 1951-1964.
  • is a thriving, small college town, thanks to Georgia College & State University, founded in 1889.
  • has a dramatic Governor’s Mansion with an interesting history.
IMG_0142.jpg

Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville

IMG_0143.jpg

Alex Hitz

Alex Hitz, who The Wall Street Journal called “the very best host in the world,” grew up in Atlanta. This summer, I have been cooking my way through his beautiful and sophisticated cookbook, “My Beverly Hills Kitchen.” His recipes are classic Southern cooking with a French twist. Three traits make his cookbook a stand-out:

  • The recipes are consistently good.
  • The intro paragraph to each recipe is always interesting.  For example, did you know that Vichyssoise was invented in the U.S.?
  • Most of his recipes include recommendations for accompanying dishes.

You might want to make some of Alex’s pimento cheese for a snack on your road trip around Georgia. When my friend, Mary Ann, took me on a trip to a small town in Georgia, I was offered glorious pimento cheese sandwiches from three different hosts within 24 hours…and that’s what I like about the South!

Plains

IMG_0147-136794406-1565269146880.jpg

Jimmy Carter’s former presidential campaign HQ in Plains’ old train station

  • President Jimmy and First Lady Rosalynn Carter are from Plains, a small, unpretentious, rural town, where the Carters were prosperous peanut farmers. Jimmy and Rosalynn were high school sweethearts, whose families were good friends. This couple has come a long way, baby!
  • Visit the Old Schoolhouse Museum for the story of President Carter’s life from boyhood to the presidency.
  • I have heard from a reliable source that the Buffalo Café (118 Main Street) is wonderful!
IMG_0145-3861458954-1565274818875.jpg

random street scene in Plains

  • Visit Maranatha Baptist Church where President Carter still teaches Sunday school, attracting people from all over the world. So impressive, especially given that he is 94 years old! Click here to read an article about this in The Washington Post.
  • Check out nearby Andersonville Civil War cemetery, former site of a prisoner of war camp.

IMG_0238-3583992873-1565269541705.jpg

Between Plains and Macon is beautiful Massee Lane Gardens in Marshallville, home of the American Camellia Society. Best in winter for blooms.

IMG_7214

Farmer Brown’s (photo courtesy of my friend from Georgia)

Also en route from Plains to Macon, stop at Farmer Brown’s Produce Market in Montezuma, GA.  Summer or fall for peaches, produce, peach blossom dessert and ice cream, and zinnia picking. Sounds like a little slice of heaven to me!

Macon

Check out its…

  • eye-popping architecture
IMG_0254

Macon’s Cowles-Bond House, circa 1836

  • Southern throwback comfort food at
    • S&S Cafeteria
    • H&H Restaurant located downtown, with the same wonderful food as S&S, but almost a shrine to the Allman Bros. along with other musicians who dined there in the heyday of Capricorn Records, per my Georgia friend, who took this scrumptious photo…IMG_8496.jpg
    • Dovetail – “divine new Southern cuisine downtown,” according to my Georgia friend, Mary Ann, who knows good food!
    • Rookery – “downtown institution with great bar food,” says Mary Ann.
  • Wesleyan College, the first woman’s college in U.S.. Ever heard of the Soong sisters? I bet you’ve heard of Madame Chiang Kai-shek. Well, before she was Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, she was one of the Soong sisters, from far away China. They attended Wesleyan College. Click here, for their intriguing story.
IMG_0269

We stayed at Macon’s 1842 Inn (pictured here), which was okay and in a great neighborhood.

Musical Travelling Companions

Pack your CDs, hop in your car, crank up the volume and get your groove on with Southern rock and soul bands produced by yet another Georgia gem, Capricorn Records!

Otis-Redding

Sing to me, Otis!  (photo courtesy of performingsongwriter.com)

We’re talking the incomparable Otis Redding, the Allman Brothers, the Marshall Tucker Band, Delbert McClinton (that man’s got soul) and many more.

Literary Travelling Companions

Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell, The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, and An Hour Before Daylight, by Jimmy Carter

IMG_7214

peaches from Farmer Brown’s

A hearty thanks to my Georgia friend, Miz Mary Ann, and her wonderful parents, without whom I would not have known about most of these gems. It sure pays to know interesting and interested people!

England’s Gravetye Manor has it All

Gravetye 2018-57

This looks like countless country house hotels, at first blush. But it’s far, far better than them all. (photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor)

Gorgeous Gardens created by a Groundbreaking Designer

The gardens were designed by one of THE GREATS in garden design, Mr. William Robinson, who pioneered the English country garden look. Robinson’s home was Gravetye Manor for many years, during which time he transformed the 1,000-acre property. Today, Gravetye Manor employs eight full-time gardeners, lest you be wondering why your garden doesn’t look quite like this.

Long border view

(photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor)

Gravetye 2018-32

Take a stroll through the gardens, cocktail in hand, as the sun is setting before dinner. (photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor)

June (2)

(photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor)

GravetyeOldNov08 140

Garden design revolutionary, Mr. William Robinson, on his 94th birthday surrounded by the 94 white peonies he received as a present. (photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor)

Gravetye_0499 (1)
Gravetye Manor grows much of the fruits and vegetables it serves, as well as a profusion of flowers, which you will see on tables, windowsills, desks, everywhere around the house. (photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor) 

Beautiful Restaurant with a Well-Deserved Michelin Star

Gravetye Manor Hotel & Restaurant

That’s the Michelin-starred restaurant in the glass-fronted room looking onto the garden (photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor)

Gravetye 2018-34

(photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor)

IMG_8853

When sitting inside the restaurant after dark, one can see the garden thanks to tasteful up-lighting. (my fab photo)

Gravetye 2018-1

Eating at Gravetye Manor’s restaurant is like eating inside of a Monet painting! (photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor)

I usually find food photos intensely boring but had to make an exception here.

ALC Starter (Salad)

When I requested a starter with lots of vegetables, they whipped up this beauty with a perfect egg yolk in its center, despite its not being on the menu that night. (photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor)

ALC Dessert (Souffle)

Rhubarb souffle with ginger ice cream: Swoon! (photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor)

Old, Pretty Manor House in Mint Condition

Built in 1598 Gravetye Manor has had many an owner but its most notable was Mr. William Robinson, who lived here from 1884-1935 AND pioneered the English country garden look. He grew up poor, became a gardener, worked on increasingly fine gardens, wrote about them, and gradually saved enough money to buy the 1,000 acres that make up Gravetye Manor today. Read about him here!

Gravetye 2018-70

The wood is polished to a sheen and nary a speck of dust is in sight. (photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor)

Hall

Reception: warm, welcoming, and flower-laden (photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor)

Gravetye Manor has 17 big, handsome bedrooms with beautiful views. Holly and Chestnut are among the best.

Excl Deluxe (Chestnut2)

This was our room, called Chestnut. (photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor)

IMG_8796

This is the view from our window! Despite it being early Spring, the garden is still stunning. (photo courtesy of moi)

Flawless Service

Among THE best service I have ever experienced anywhere, including Asia, which is famous for its service. The managing director is a gentleman who is down-to-earth, has a sense of humor and believes it’s important for the staff’s personality to shine through because only that way does the customer receive genuinely warm service. Perfect! Considerate attention to details included:

  • When I merely glanced in the closet, the lovely woman who showed us to our room volunteered to bring more hangers.
  • When I asked for another soap, she brought two.
  • When we arrived back to Gravetye after a hike, they offered to clean our hiking boots, as if they were the finest of shoes.
  • Room service arrived when requested.
  • When we came back to the room after dinner,
    • the TV guide was open on our bed with the controls on top of it,
    • the tea kettle had been filled with water for the next morning,
    • a detailed map of the local area with the sites marked on them was open on the desk,
    • and a bookmark had been placed by each of our books.

Fun Facts

  • Gravetye Manor is 12 miles from England’s Gatwick Airport…though nary a plane will you hear when staying there.
  • While Gravetye Manor is 30 miles from central London, don’t think about taking a day-trip here, as you will be sad to leave after dinner.
  • We went to Gravetye because I had seen this article in Flower magazine about its glories. Check it out!
  • Things to Do: Many historic houses, famous gardens and fun activities abound nearby, including Winston Churchhill’s home, Chartwell, and Hever Castle, the girlhood home of Anne Boleyn, one of Henri VIII’s wives.
IMG_8797

My photo, of which I am VERY proud!

Tulips 4

(photo courtesy of Gravetye Manor)

When you go the Gravetye Manor, please try to get that Rhubarb Soufflé recipe from the chef and pass it on to me. So good!

Paris Hotel Crush

I have a crush on Paris’ Hotel Lutetia. Why?

20180622_TodaysBrew_HotelLutetiaParis_CF007651_Advanced

Swoon! (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

lutetia_details_0090__edit

Built in 1910 & renovated from 2014-2018 (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

The Lutetia was opened in 1910 by famed Paris department store, Le Bon Marché, for its important clients, many of whom lived outside of Paris and needed a nice place to stay while making their semi-annual shopping trip to LBM, conveniently located across the street.

lutetia_details_0066__edit

Let’s go inside…(photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

lutetia_details_0064__edit

The Lutetia’s architecture is a mix of Art Nouveau (the style-of-the-day in 1910, when it was built) and the then-emerging Art Deco style. Those details! (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

20180622_TodaysBrew_HotelLutetiaParis_017630

The swirls of Art Nouveau meet the lines of Art Deco. (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

PUBLIC_SPACE_034

Sparkling art deco design in the Lutetia’s courtyard: Sit on the terrace below and soak up its peacefulness, far from the madding tourist crowds…just you, your Veuve Cliquot, and great architecture. (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

Salon-St-Germain-2-2

(photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

Salon-St-Germain-2

ceiling of Salle St. Germain (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

SALLE_ST_GERMAIN_003

Salle St. Germain, where old world meets new (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

20180622_TodaysBrew_HotelLutetiaParis_017453

Brrrr, this feels a bit cold, but on the other hand, it would be a good place to sit and observe the people in the Salle St. Germain. (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

Yves Saint Laurent Couture House co-founder, Pierre Bergé, stayed at the Lutetia during his house renovation in 2009. That man knew style!

Chambre-1-1

Hmmm, this room feels a bit small and chilly…but that view! and the history of the place! and neighborhood make up for it. As with all great loves, one must overlook one or two tiny flaws. (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

“De Gaulle, then a young officer, spent his honeymoon at the hotel. In June 1940, the General slept there the night before his departure for England,” per Lutetia’s website.

Chambre-3-1

big room, big view (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

Great location on a stylish, lively street in the beautiful Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of the 6th arrondissement on Paris’ Left Bank…book it!

PUBLIC_SPACE_013

I like a view, don’t you? (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

“Shortly after the Lutetia opened, its early success was interrupted by the First World War and later again in June 1940, when the French government evacuated the occupied city. The hotel itself (like other palace hotels in Paris) was requisitioned during the Second World War by the occupation forces and used to house, feed, and entertain the troops and officers. In 1944, the Lutetia resumed its intended role and at the orders of General de Gaulle, the hotel became a crucial centre for displaced people and families seeking to be reunited with their loved ones. The hotel welcomed up to 2,000 arrivals each day,” per Lutetia’s website. Fascinating, nest-ce pas??!!

BAR_JOSEPHINE_002

Let’s have a kir royale in the Lutetia’s Bar Josephine, and ponder those who drank here before us…Josephine Baker, Picasso, Matisse, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Saint-Exupery (The Little Prince) and more, more, more. Imaginez! (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

“Originally most associated with literature, just some of the historical and culturally significant figures who lived, worked and entertained at the hotel include Andre Gide and James Joyce, who wrote Ulysses at the hotel with Ernest Hemingway acting as occasional editor, Samuel Beckett, André Malraux and Saint-Exupéry followed,” per Lutetia’s website. Close your eyes and picture them drinking here.

BAR_JOSEPHINE_004

Bar Josephine: Order a coupe of the Taittinger Cuvée Lutetia, in honor of champagne producing family who owned the hotel from the 1950’s to 2005.  I could go for a coupe right now! Note the circa-1910 fresco on the ceiling.  (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

“Picasso and Matisse took up residence, Josephine Baker was a regular, and during the 50’s and beyond the hotel and its bar became a key part of the emergence and celebration of jazz,” says Lutetia’s website.

20180622_TodaysBrew_HotelLutetiaParis_CF007689

Paul Belmondo (father of actor, Jean-Paul Belmondo) was one of two sculptors to decorate the hotel’s wonderfully undulating Art Nouveau façade. (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

20180622_TodaysBrew_HotelLutetiaParis_CF007680

While the Hotel Lutetia is a little bigger (184 rooms) than those to which I am usually attracted, no crush is perfect! (photo courtesy of Hotel Lutetia)

Literary traveling companions:

  • “Pierre Assouline’s novel, Lutetia, …takes place in the hotel, where he gives life to a vast number of characters that really have lived or stayed in the Lutetia during the war from 1938 to 1945,” according to Lutetia’s website. The daughters of Irene Nemirovsky (see below) are among those characters. Pick it up for your stay at the  Lutetia!
  • Suite Française, by Irene Nemirovsky, which “opens in the chaos of the massive 1940 exodus from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion during which several families and individuals are thrown together under circumstances beyond their control,” per Amazon. How does this relate to the Lutetia? As the plaque on the front of the hotel explains, “From April to August 1945, this hotel, which had become a reception centre, received the greater part of the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps, glad to have regained their liberty and their loved ones from whom they had been snatched. Their joy cannot efface the anguish and the pain of the families of the thousands of disappeared who waited in vain for their own in this place.” The daughters of Irene Nemirovsky were among those who waited, in vain. Their mother was murdered in a Nazi concentration camp. And her novel, “Suite Française,” was published posthumously in 2004.

Bissous, chéri!

Cornwall, England: Three Magical Destinations

Cornwall is gorgeous! Stunning beaches, spectacular hiking, charming little towns and ancient history. Cornwall’s got it all. I highly recommend THREE magical DESTINATIONS in Cornwall–the Isles of Scilly, St. Mawes and Portloe–each different one from the other.

scilly

Isles of Scilly (photo courtesy of 2017 Cornwall Guide)

scillyancient

Chun Quoit, a 2,500-year old chambered tomb (photo courtesy of 2017 Cornwall Guide)

flowers-steps

(photo courtesy of 2017 Cornwall Guide)

ISLES OF SCILLY

There are 150 Isles of Scilly, of which five are inhabited by a grand total of 2,200 people. These Cornish islands are the westernmost part of England. They offer beaches, kayaking, sailing, birding, hiking, golf and biking. A lot of places offer these BUT what makes the Isles of Scilly magical? Their windswept wildness and natural beauty;  lack of commercialism, crowds and traffic;  wild horses gracefully meandering the heath-covered moors; children going to school by boat; and stumbling upon ancient stones while hiking its hills. Stay for at least three full days, but five would be so much nicer.

scilly_tresco_towards-norwethel

(photo courtesy of Visit Isles of Scilly)

Temp’s on the Isles of Scilly are above 50 degrees 360 days of the year, thanks to the Gulf Stream. Due to these temperatures, flower farming thrives here. Surprising flora and fauna (seals and puffins) live on the islands, due to their isolated location. It’s easy and fun to island hop by public boat service.

22790431581_68d13b2f19_o

Scilly puffin (photo courtesy of Visit Isles of Scilly)

Getting to the Isles of Scilly

  • FIRST take the Great Western Railway from London to Penzance (5.5 hours) “Rail hounds used to say the real name of the GWR was ‘God’s Wonderful Railway,’ and it’s easy to see why once the train leaves London and ventures into some truly iconic countryside. Castles, rivers, puffy clouds, thatched roofs, it’s all here. Sit on the left side” for best views. (Departures magazine, 2015)
  • NEXT take taxi or Isles of Scilly Travel Shuttle from Penzance (not particularly scenic) to Land’s End airport and catch the 20-minute helicopter flight west to St. Mary, one of the Isles of Scilly.
  • NOTE: Of course, if you want to be a party pooper, you can always fly from London to Land’s End.

STAY on the Isles of Scilly

hell-bay

Hell Bay Hotel

  • Hell Bay Hotel (on the island of Bryher)—Bryher is two kilometers long by one kilometer wide, so the views from the hotel are of water and meandering wild horses on the surrounding moors. The hotel is very attractive (neutrals with enough splashes of color to add happy) with spacious bedrooms, a spa, heated swimming pool, bar, restaurant, large terrace for dining, and nice ambience. Bryher is traffic-free, w/ half a dozen houses, a bar, convenience store and deli. (25 suites, some with balconies, most w/sea views)
hellbayroom

Your room at Hell Bay Hotel

hellbaybalcony

View from your room at Hell Bay Hotel

SEE THE SIGHTS on the Isles of Scilly

  • Tresco Abbey Gardens–Outstanding! Tresco is the island closest to Bryher. These gardens are spectacular and feature highly unusual subtropical plants, thanks to the Gulf Stream effect and tall windbreaks constructed by the garden’s designers…all set in the ruins of a 12th century priory; five generations have built this garden over decades, collecting plants from all over the world specially for this garden. From its website: “Many of these tender floral gems would stand no chance on the Cornish mainland, less than 30 miles away. Yet even at the winter solstice more than 300 plants will be in flower. All in all, the tropical garden is home to species from 80 countries, ranging from Brazil to New Zealand and Burma to South Africa.” It’s heavenly!
scilly_tresco_abbey-gardens_1

Tresco Abbey Gardens (photo courtesy of Visit Isles of Scilly)

22156623464_0baa08d425_o

Tresco Abbey Gardens: Note the tropical succulents growing on that arch (photo courtesy of Visit Isles of Scilly)

scilly-tresco-abbey-garden-girl-running

Tresco Abbey Garden (photo courtesy of Visit Isles of Scilly)

  • Bronze age and Celtic ruins
  • Spectacular beaches, like the one at the top of this post
  • Wild horses
  • Bird watching is big here!
  • Hiking and biking.
scilly-tresco-girl-cycling

(photo courtesy of Visit Isles of Scilly)

ST. MAWES

Back on mainland England, St. Mawes is a charming small town on an idyllic small bay, approached by classic narrow Cornwall lanes. I recommend you stay at least three nights.

STAY in St. Mawes

Hotel Tresanton–This is a smallish and comfortably sophisticated hotel. It is quite perfect! All bedrooms, which are beautifully decorated, have views across the little bay to the St. Anthony Lighthouse. It has a restaurant, bar, and very attractive gift shop.  (30 rooms, some with a balcony or terrace)

tresantonterrace

Lunch, anyone? Yeah, baby!  (photo courtesy of Hotel Tresanton)

pillows

This photo captures the Hotel Tresanton’s style: beautifully decorated throughout!

tresantonbedroom

Hotel Tresanton’s bedrooms are individually decorated.

tresantondr

Note the view from the Hotel Tresanton’s dining room. We saw a triple rainbow from here, and ran out onto the adjoining terrace to check it out.

SEE THE SIGHTS in St. Mawes

tresantonboat

Charter the Hotel Tresanton’s gorgeous 8-meter classic yacht, pictured above, from May-September

  • Just  back from St. Mawes, my cousin highly recommended the hike to see St. Just in Roseland’s church, as well as The Watch House restaurant in St. Mawes.
  • See the bottom of this post for more sights to see near St. Mawes, which is nearish Portloe.

PORTLOE

Portloe is a tiny village that looks just like Portwen, the fictitious fishing village featured in “Doc Martin,” a public TV hit show. Portloe is nestled in a charming cove and tiny harbor, surrounded by cliffs and headlands. When we were there several years ago, Portloe had only two commercial establishments: a nice pub (good fish pie) and The Lugger Hotel. It was great, so genuine! I suggest you stay at least three nights.

Bespoke Hotels - The Lugger

Portloe (photo courtesy of The Lugger Hotel)

Bespoke Hotels - The Lugger

Portloe (photo courtesy of The Lugger Hotel)

STAY in & near Portloe

  • The Lugger Hotel–Charming, updated 17th century inn located on the water, with an attractive restaurant. (22 rooms, some with a terrace, plus a 2-bedroom cottage available for rent)
Bespoke Hotels - The Lugger

Your room at the Lugger Hotel: Can’t beat that view!

Bespoke The Lugger

breakfast room at The Lugger Hotel

& nearby…

  • The Nare Hotel–We walked along the spectacular Cornish Southwest Coast Path from Portloe to The Nare Hotel, stunningly located on a huge, undeveloped cove with huge, crescent-shaped beach. The NH has the cove all to itself! The Nare is not in a town but is self-contained with its own restaurant , bar and other amenities. (36 bedrooms and suites, some with balconies and terraces)
nare_hotel_panoramic_view

The huge crescent beach in front of the Nare Hotel (above) is among the prettiest I have ever seen!

SEE THE SIGHTS in & around Portloe

trevose-head-walker

Cornish Southwest Coast Path (photo courtesy of 2017 Cornwall Guide)

  • The Lost Gardens of Heligan
  • Tregothnan, the largest private botanical garden in Britain
  • St Just in Roseland (two miles north of St. Mawes)  is famous for its 13th-century “St Just’s Church, St Just in Roseland set in riverside gardens luxuriantly planted with semitropical shrubs and trees, many of which are species rare in England. The church perches on the edge of a tidal creek beside the Carrick Roads on the Fal Estuary just outside the main village. The path from the road to the church is lined with granite blocks carved with quotations and verses taken from the Bible,” per Wikipedia. My cousin just hiked from the  Hotel Tresanton to St. Just and reported that it was WELL WORTH the trek through some mud. She wished she had seen the Hotel Tresanton’s wellies, set aside for the use of its guests!
  • National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth
  • St. Michael’s Mount–This striking National Trust property  is the English equivalent of France’s Mont St. Michel.
Godolphin ArmsSt Aubyn Estates

St. Michael’s Mount (photo by Mike Newman, courtesy of St. Michael’s Mount)

From the St. Michael’s Mount website: “By the time of the Norman conquest in 1066, St Michael’s Mount had come into the possession of the monks of its sister isle, Mont St Michel in Normandy. In the 12th century it was their hands that built the church and priory that still lie at the heart of the castle today. From 1193 when the Mount was seized by Henry La Pomeray who disguised his men as pilgrims, through the Wars of the Roses in 1473 when the Mount was held by the Earl of Oxford, to the Civil War, when Royalists valiantly held back the forces of Oliver Cromwell – the Mount has weathered many times of battle. Gaze out across the rows of cannons which once drove a Napoleonic ship to its capture on Marazion beach or peer up to the top of the church tower where the first beacon was lit of the series that warned London of the approach of the Spanish Armada.”

june-east-terrace-credit-claire-braithwaite

St. Michael’s Mount (photo by Claire Braithwaite courtesy of St. Michael’s Mount)

Literary Traveling Companions: “The Shell Seekers,” by Rosamunde Pilcher   and “Rebecca,” by Daphne du Maurier

DVD’s to Watch in Advance of Your Trip to Get You into the Cornwall Mood: “Doc Martin” PBS series

e

New Orleans’ Sultry Style

New Orleans’s got soul! Style! Respects tradition and quirkiness! This is a city for all of the senses: great food, drink, architecture, gardens, musicians, artists, writers, and museums. Pull up a chair, stay a while!

gallery-1133

Sit on this glorious porch and watch the world go by when you stay at the lovely Soniat House hotel, pictured above.

STAY

  • Soniat HouseMimi’s Travel File personal fav! I have stayed here twice and loved it. Set in several adjoining 19th century French Quarter houses with two beautiful courtyards, this elegant boutique hotel is a 3-minute walk from Bourbon Street and an 8-minute walk from the French Market. PLUS they serve the BEST biscuits for breakfast! The rooms are traditionally decorated with antiques and the ambience is relaxingly elegant. (31 rooms)
copy-of-soniat-house_front

Soniat House: Just far enough from the madding crowd

  • Windsor Court Hotel–The WCH is frequently touted in travel pub’s but I did not feel the love. I found it lacking in personality and warmth.

Vogue magazine (2016) likes:

  • “Situated in the Garden District, the intimate Henry Howard Hotel, a gleaming white 1860s mansion (both built and named after the beloved native architect), feels like a friend’s house. Its 18 guest rooms are accented with custom toile wallpaper, second-line instruments, and poppy, whimsical portraits by artist Hayley Gaberlavage. Corner rooms 201 and 202 grant glorious balcony access, and come early evening, the light-filled parlor or shaded backyard garden are both ideal for a cocktail.” (18 rooms)
  • “…the 35-room Catahoula Hotel, nestled in an iconic 19th-century Creole townhouse, retains exposed brick walls, original patinas, and candlelit courtyards. There’s also a rooftop deck, coffee shop, and café offering Peruvian small plates and plenty of pisco cocktails.

SEE THE SIGHTS

Vogue magazine (2016) suggests:

  • Ride a streetcar uptown to the crumbling, gothic-tinged Lafayette Cemetery #1, where the iron gates reveal a pathway framed by a double line of magnolia trees. A quiet stroll warrants hauntingly cinematic images sprinkled with perfectly worn, elaborate mausoleums and gravestones randomly peppered with loosely strewn plastic Mardi Gras beads. It’s a ghostly photographic portrait of the past, a decidedly beautiful depiction of lingering spirits.” (located in the Garden District)
06-new-orleans-travel-guide

Lafayette Cemetery #1 (photo courtesy of Musik Animal via Vogue)

  • Afterward, curate your own walking tour of the posh Garden District (or pick up a paper map at Commander’s Palace). Ramble along those narrow sidewalks flanked by stately oaks trees, shady magnolias, and leafy palms. Note the intricately designed wrought-iron gates and, behind them, the elegant, dreamy homes with stunning architectural styles from Neoclassic to Beaux Arts. The spooky bourgeois manor on Chestnut and First Street is where goth fiction queen Anne Rice once lived and gussied up her Southern occult novels. And nearby, the three-story, pink-hued Carroll-Crawford House, with its ornate cast-iron balconies, reportedly hosted lavish parties for guests like Mark Twain and Edgar Degas.
new-orleans-culture_garden-district_2000x1333

(photo courtesy of Tim Graham/Getty Images)

  • “Back downtown, on the cusp of the Quarter, the funky, boho-meets-punk–flared vibes of the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods remain a creative, hipster hub with a quirky cast of characters. This diverse milieu calls for prime bike cruising exploration past rows upon rows of kaleidoscopic Creole cottages, where both locals and a recent influx of New Yorkers and Los Angeleno expats reside. And, if it’s the second Saturday of the month, pedal up Camp Street and over to the sweet Little Flea NOLA for vintage and resident artist wares, and afterward, pop into Hi Volt for a hit of coffee,” per Vogue.
  • City Park–50% larger than NYC’s Central Park and “holds the world’s largest collection of mature live oak trees, some older than 600 years in age,” per Wikipedia.
  • The St. Charles and Riverfront streetcar lines are a fun and easy way to see NOLA. Leaving the Garden District and traveling up St. Charles Avenue, beautiful Victorian mansions border the lush, oak-lined boulevards of Uptown New Orleans.
  • The Cabildo is a Spanish colonial building on Jackson Square that houses a museum focused on Louisiana history. The Cabildo was the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer in 1803, which finalized the United States’ acquisition of the Louisiana Territory and doubled the size of the fledgling nation. The Cabildo served as the center of New Orleans government until 1853 and the Louisiana State Supreme Court, and became a museum in 1908.
  • Longue Vue House and Gardens is a stunning National Historic Landmark house with gorgeous gardens.
01

(photo courtesy of Longue Vue House and Gardens)

  • Mimi’s Travel File Fav: Ogden Museum of Southern Art–Saunter through this fine fine arts museum with Morgan Freeman describing what makes southern art southern on your audio guide.

EAT

Gumbo! Crawfish Etoufee! Jambalaya! Muffulettas! Beignets! Po’ Boys! Order all these traditional NOLA foods and walk it off around New Orleans’ gorgeous neighborhoods. Mimi’s Travel File Insider Information: My longtime family friend who lives in NOLA and is a foodie–and KNOWS what he’s talking about–highly recommends:

  • Herb Saint–Don’t you just want to sit on that upstairs balcony, eating glorious food and sipping a cocktail, while gazing at the views of New Orleans?!
02

Herbsaint: Note the streetcar going by!

  • Kenton’s – Check out the seafood mousse appetizer with roe on top!  They have really fresh fish as well as good steak and chicken dishes – but their menu goes with what the chef finds that is fresh and special that day.
20

Yes, please! (photo courtesy of Kenton’s)

  • Baru – great for tapas – eat until you are almost full – and then order a crispy whole fish to finish it off! The food is “Latin Caribbean.”
  • Galatoire’s  – in the French quarter – Tip from  my friend: “Ask for Shannon as your server.The only way to get served at Galatoire’s is to have a server!”
02

Galatoire’s (photo courtesy of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation)

  • Eat a Po’ Boy: The place for them is Parkway Bakery – – – – this is where they took Obama for his Po’ Boy.
  • Elizabeth’s – go here for breakfast – many variants of eggs Benedict – and try the praline bacon
02

Elizabeth’s (photo courtesy of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation)

  • Eat the BBQ oysters at Drago’s
  • Casamento’s – This is THE place to go for oysters! But call in advance – because if the chef doesn’t like the oysters available that day – the restaurant doesn’t open that day.  Gotta love their high standards!
  • Mimi’s Travel File Personal Fav’sBayona and August, both with lovely food and ambience. 

COCKTAILS, ANYONE?

06

(photo courtesy of the Sazerac Bar)

Vogue (2016) recommends:

  • “The sophisticated uptown James Beard Award–nominated Cure whips up refreshing seasonal cocktails like the Maybe Always with a bright mezcal and negroni with hints of anise…
  • While its downtown Caribbean-inspired sibling Cane and Table slings tiki-themed rum-centric drinks and fancy Pineapple Sazerac.
01

Cane and Table (photo courtesy of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation)

  • The long bar at the hip, rustic Barrel Proof is for whiskey (more than 250 varietals) and beer.
  • The vino-inclined head to Bacchanal, a wine shop and leafy outdoor space set amid a torch-lit backyard with live music.
  • At the lively French Quarter landmark Old Absinthe House, vintage football helmets dangle from the ceiling and business cards are pinned to distressed walls. Sip the signature house frappe made with local Herbsaint, anisette, and a splash of soda.
  • Saunter down the street to Arnaud’s French 75, a warm, wood-paneled bar known for its elegant namesake libation, a mix of cognac, champagne, lemon, and sugar. And, upstairs, the little-known Mardi Gras Museum houses a collection of elaborate gowns and costumes from the mid-1930s to 1960s.” Mimi’s Travel File loves this classic!
6-french-75-at-arnaud-new-orleans-travel-guide

(photo courtesy of French 75 at Arnaud’s via Vogue)

LIVE MUSIC

Vogue (2016) likes:

  • “Of course, jazz is synonymous with New Orleans—just thank native legend Louis Armstrong for that. In the French Quarter, visit famous venues such as the tiny beloved Preservation Hall (est. 1961), run by local tuba player Ben Jaffe and famed for its standing room (and liberal BYOB) policy.
08

(photo courtesy of Preservation Hall)

  • Uptown, the unfussy, pressed tin–ceilinged Maple Leaf Bar retains its outstanding Tuesday evening Rebirth Brass Band concert.
  • Away from the tourist-laden Bourbon Street, the alluring, indie-flared Frenchmen Street hosts a high concentration of cafés and clubs like intimate, old-school Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, along with d.b.a. and the weathered The Spotted Cat Music Club.” My family friend who lives in NOLA highly recommends “Snug Harbor – they are always reliable – and an authentic NOLA Jazz place.”
  • Mimi’s Travel File Fav: Rock ‘n’ Bowl–SO MUCH FUN! Live zydeco band plays to a packed dance floor while people are bowling mere feet away. The dancers are old, young, stylish, unstylish, black, white…all shapes, sizes and colors and all having a blast. (see below)

SHOP

Vogue (2016) recommends:

  • “For the design savvy, browse the assortment of mid-century goods like early Jens Risom chairs and ’70s Lucite table lamps at Loisel Vintage Modern.
  • Nearby, Perch (click thru to its gorgeous web site) blends vintage pieces with seriously old antiques.
  • The airy shop Loomed works with artisan weavers and stocks a bright, handsome mix of organic Turkish towels and lightweight scarves.
  • In the lower Garden District, DVRA’s vibrant tropical pouches (think: banana leaves and pineapples) beckon summer (it shares space with Tchoup Industries and vinyl outfit Disko Obscura).
  • And in the Quarter, brush up on American fiction and New Orleans history at the hidden literary landmark Faulkner House Books, where author William Faulkner once lived.
  • Pied NU: This West Magazine Street boutique features clothing, jewelry, and housewares by independent designers and an aesthetic that’s one part Anthropologie, one part ABC Carpet & Home, and one part vintage. You’ll recognize some of the brands (think: John Derian and Aigle boots), but most are small and relatively unknown.
  • Hazelnut is a quirky home shop beloved by locals and co-owned by Bryan Batt (aka Salvatore Romano of Mad Men). Come for the New Orleans–themed toile and stay for New Orleans kitsch like a King Cake Baby–inspired pin.
page-14-0014

I want these bags!!!! (photo courtesy of Hazelnut)

page-5-0005

(photo courtesy of Hazelnut)

  • Soniat House Antique Galleries: Like so many other businesses in New Orleans, this antiques shop is attached to a hotel (the Soniat House hotel). If, after a weekend in the Big Easy, you want to bring some of the feeling home, stop by to browse its collection of 18th- and 19th-century French furniture and housewares.”
10-soniat-house-antiques-new-orleans-travel-guide

(photo courtesy of Soniat House Antiques via Vogue)

THE NOLA LOOK: Traditional meets Quirky

Bon Voyage!

Galapagos & Machu Picchu: Wahoo!

gallery

blue-footed booby feet (photo courtesy of National Geographic Expeditions)

If you’re going to the Galapagos Islands, you’re probably going to spend 2-3 nights in Quito, Ecuador. Do not resist going to Quito in the interest of saving time! Old, colonial Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage site…a nice city with lots to see. Suggest two full days here

STAY in Quito, Ecuador

  • Villa Colonna–HIGHLY recommend! This is a B&B but VERY upscale: beautifully decorated 19th century mansion with Latin American antiques, plus a lovely interior courtyard, plus amazing breakfasts (linens, crystal, fresh flowers & wonderful food) and interesting, non-intrusive, informative hosts. Great location in the heart of old Quito. (6 rooms)
VillaC3

view of Quito from Villa Colonna’s pretty rooftop terrace

  • Casa Gangotena–“the stateliest hotel in town” and “one of the most beautiful colonial buildings in the country,” according to Travel + Leisure, 2013. Andrew Harper and Departures magazine (2017) also like it. (31 rooms)
hotel-gallery-patio

Casa Gangotena: Looks like a pretty place to rest after a day of seeing the sights!

SEE THE SIGHTS in Quito

  • Independence Square–Independence Square has it all: City Hall, alfresco shoe shines for $3, the Presidential Palace, the HUGE national cathedral with its green-and-white-checked tiled domes, boutiques tucked in niches, and lots of museums nearby, beautiful flower-filled gardens w/a big fountain at its center and lots of people, mostly native Ecuadorian Indians…in native Indian dress, which is refreshing because it is genuine, i.e., not put on for the tourists.
gallery

(photo courtesy of National Geographic Expeditions)

Fun and great eye candy!

independence-square-66230

Independence Square

  • Jesuit Church of La Campania de Jesus–Decorated with seven tons of gold leaf, this is referred to as Quito’s Sistine Chapel.
  • San Francisco Square–A huge (the largest in S. America!) monastery built in the 16th century occupies one corner of the square
MTE2084

San Francisco Square (photo courtesy of Casa Gangolena, which has a lovely elevated terrace overlooking the square)

EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY in Quito

Ask the sophisticated proprietors of Villa Colonna. They steered us to Zazu (in 2011), which we liked a lot.

GALAPAGOS!!!!!!

Blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies, pink flamingos, snorkeling with giant turtles, sea lions, purple starfish, penguins…they’re all here, and more, plus stunning water, islands and silence.

sealionskids

The water really is this blue and the wildlife really is this relaxed with humans. This sea lion can jump 5′ up into the air! (photo courtesy of QuasarExpeditions)

itinerary-header

You’ve heard of the famous blue-footed boobies, of course. (photo courtesy of National Geographic Expeditions)

gallery

But have you heard of the red-footed booby? You will see them in the Galapagos! (photo courtesy of National Geographic Expeditions)

normal

Ever seen a Sally Lightfoot crab? You will in the Galapagos! (photo by Andy Coleman courtesy of National Geographic Expeditions)

The gorgeously colored animals were expected. The beauty of the various Galapagos Islands was unanticipated. For example…

dsc02997a

Bartolomeo Island (photo by Paul Schicke courtesy of QuasarExpeditons)

gallery-1

sea lions taking a siesta (photo courtesy of National Geographic Expeditions)

STAY in the Galapagos:

There are two ways to see the GI’s: Stay on a ship and cruise from island to island or stay at one of the few hotels on land and take day trips from it to the islands.

HOTEL/ship in the Galapagos

GraceSunny

The Grace (photo courtesy of QuasarExpeditions)

  • The Grace…as in, THAT Grace! Highly recommend this ship, built in 1928. Its one-time owner, “Ari” Onassis, gave it to Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier as a wedding present…a little bit of Hollywood glam in the Galapagos! Nice staff, highly knowledgeable naturalist guide, mediocre interior decor and food (but who cares, given the scenery and staff)…per my 2011 trip. (8 cabins)
  • Ecoventura‘s MV Origin…”The Origin is [Ecoventura’s] most luxurious vessel to date, with 10 staterooms for 20 passengers on the 142-foot yacht,” per Departures magazine (2017). I just looked at the MV Origin on Ecoventura’s website and think its public areas look a bit stiff and uncomfortable. The Grace is a much prettier ship.
GraceDeck

The Grace’s serene deck (photo courtesy of QuasarExpeditions): Don’t worry, we never saw as many other ships as are pictured here.

Gracebreakfast

breakfast aboard The Grace (photo courtesy of QuasarExpeditions)

The guide aboard The Grace was wonderfully knowledgeable, enthusiastic and fun.

turtle

Yes, you CAN swim with the giant turtles in the Galapagos! They ignore you. (photo courtesy of Galapagos Safari Camp)

SIZE MATTERS: You want a small ship for two, key reasons: (1) It can get into smaller anchorages/coves than a big ship, so you can go more places; (2) You will not have to wait for a large number of fellow passengers to lumber off the ship into dinghies taking them to/fro the various islands. At 145-feet long, The Grace was the perfect size.

TIP: Higher is not better. The closer your room is to the top, the more it will sway when the wind blows the ship. Go low for a smoother trip.

Suite

Suite on The Grace (photo courtesy of QuasarExpeditions)

SHOE TIP: From The Grace (or any ship), you will get into a dinghy that will take you to various Galapagos Islands. Some have a dock and some don’t, which means that you will sometimes have to step out of the dinghy into water a foot deep or less. So leave the Jimmy Choos at home and succumb to practical amphibious (read: ugly) shoes that will give you support for light, uphill hiking! You will thank me.

Gracewland

The Grace and her dinghy (photo courtesy of QuasarExpeditions)

HOTEL/land

  • Pikaia Lodge–While I think its website is a bit cold, Pikaia Lodge is recommended by Departures magazine (2017) and travel aficionado Andrew Harper, who has rarely steered me wrong. PL is also a member of the Small Luxury Hotel group.
PikaiaPool

Pikaia Lodge’s infinity pool

  • Galapagos Safari Camp–upscale, African-style tented camp, recommended by Andrew Harper, with a beautiful website!
CampEntrance

Galapagos Safari Camp

SafariCampcloseup

This could be you  on your room’s deck a the Galapagos Safari Camp!

MACHU PICCHU

CUZCO, Peru

Cuzco is your jumping-off point for Machu Picchu and well worth a visit. But brace yourself: This former Incan capital is 11,000 feet above sea level. As in, LOTS of huffing and puffing while walking up its hilly streets. Hydrate!  Recommend 1-2 full days.

HOTELS in Cuzco

  • La Casona Inkaterra–Located on a lovely, quiet square, this former conquistador’s mansion is small, sophisticated, and beautifully decorated with colonial and Incan accents. Andrew Harper recommends it, as do I, as this was our base in Cusco. (11 rooms)
ITLC_Balcony

La Casona Inkaterra

ITLC_Balcon0091

La Casona Inkaterra

LC_Plaza

La Casona Inkaterra

  • Belmond Hotel Monasterio–Converted from a 16th century monastery, this hotel has received a lot of mention in the travel media and is perfectly nice but lacking the charm of the Inkaterra. (122 rooms & suites)
  • Belmond Palacio Nazarenes–“Dating from the 16th century, this former convent is now a luxe hotel with 55 suites, the city’s first outdoor heated swimming pool, lush terraces…” (Elle Décor, 2015)

SEE THE SIGHTS in Cuzco

  • The Cathedral–baroque, 17th century
  • The Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun)–a huge Dominican monastery built atop the ruins of a former Incan temple
  • People-watching–because MANY of the local Indians wear their colorful and beautifully woven shawls, hats, skirts, etc. Such a variety of hats!
  • Museum of Pre-Columbian Art–Located on the same square as La Casona and Hotel Monasterio, this is a beautiful building with a semi-interesting collection due to its uninformative descriptions next to each object
  • UNSAAC–Yale International Center for the Study of Machu Picchu and Inca Culture (320 Calle Santa Catalina Ancha)–recommended by a 2012 Departures article
gallery

Peruvian next to an ancient Incan wall in Cuzco (photo courtesy of National Geographic Expeditions)

SHOP in Cuzco

  • Pedazo de Arte (Plateros 334B)–“The owner of this charming boutique, Miki Suzuki, has an eye for the best local handicrafts, which she sells for bargain prices…” (Elle Décor 2015)

MACHU PICCHU! (advise 1 night w/5 hours total of MP touring time)

FYI: Machu Picchu is an abandoned fortified town built by the Incans in the 15th-century, which is pretty amazing, when you consider how hard it must have been to construct without modern tools and atop a mountain ridge 7,970 ft above sea level! It is located in Peru, 50 miles northwest of Cuzco. Although known locally, it remained unknown to the outside world until Hiram Bingham brought it to international attention in 1911. Bingham, a Yale and Harvard man who later taught at Princeton, discovered Machu Picchu with the help of local farmers who led him to it through the remote mountain jungle.

IMPORTANT TIP #1: The typical transpo from Cuzco to MP is a crowded van-to-train-to-bus. However, who wants to be typical?! Advise you not to settle for that crowded van; instead, contact Inkaterra (upscale Peruvian travel agency and hotelier) to arrange for private transportation from Cuzco to the train. During the non-rainy season, you can get a train from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes. The train portion of the trip is wonderful because it is clean and travels through stunning, flowered-filled jungle scenery up to Aguas Calientes, the small town at the base of MP’s mountain. We saw wild impatiens, hydrangea, orchids and many more.

MPS-DET_08

(photo courtesy of Belmond)

IMPORTANT TIP #2: Do not travel to MP during the rainy season because sometimes the rain is so torrential that the train to MP is cancelled.

itmp_fauna001_mail

We saw this bird! Machu Picchu is waaaay up high and in the middle of nowhere, hence its exotic birds and flowers. Such an unexpected treat!

IMPORTANT TIP #3: Upon disembarking from the train in Aguas Calientes, you have two options: hike up to MP (must be in good shape & have acclimated to the altitude, as it is steep…but possible) or take the bus up the switchbacks to MP.

hero-interior

Machu Picchu is surrounded by nothing but VERY high mountains as far as the eye can see=seriously remote! (photo courtesy of National Geographic Expeditions)

 HOTELS in Machu Picchu

  • Belmond Sanctuary Lodge–Do it! The BSL is the one and only hotel located on the mountaintop with Machu Picchu. Strongly recommend you spend the night, so you can see the grand and glorious MP after the day-trippers depart, as well as avoid long MP entrance ticket lines. Though the Lodge was nice when I was there in 2011, a 2012 article in “Departures” described it as “a bit down on its ear.”
MPlodgefront

Belmond Sanctuary Lodge (photo courtesy of Belmond)

MPS-REST-04

View of MP from the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge (photo courtesy of Belmond)

TIP: If the BSL is full and you can’t spend the night, I would not recommend spending the night in Aquas Calientes (the town at the base of MP’s mountain, from which you catch the bus up to MP), as it is dumpy.

I really wish I had known about this before going to Machu Picchu…

“Between Cusco and Machu Picchu, the geographically dramatic Sacred Valley abounds with views of the snow-capped Andes and largely unvisited Incan sites, including Moray, where agricultural terraces in concentric circles descend almost 150 feet.” (Departures 2012)

Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba

Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba in the Sacred Valley: Gorgeous Andes!

I also wish I had known about sophisticated, high-end Inkaterra, the Peruvian travel planner and hotelier that can arrange smooth, comfortable transport to/from Machu Picchu and other great areas of Peru, like the Sacred Valley. Look at Inkaterra’s beautiful hotel there…

Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba_Room

I could have stayed in this lovely room at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba while touring remote, ancient Inca sites by day! I didn’t, so you will have to do it for me.

“Stop for lunch at Hacienda Huayoccari (51-8/425-4197) where the estate’s owner, José Ignacio Lambarri Orihuela…opens his home to a select few, showing off one of the most impressive private collections of pre-Colombian artifacts.” (Departures 2012)

Other hotels in the Sacred Valley include:

“In Urubamba, one of the valley’s largest towns, Tamba del Inka…a member of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, opened its 128 rooms…on the banks of the Urubamba River in 2010…The lovely Sol y Luna meanwhile, recently added 15 deluxe casitas to its 25 gardened acres…with private patios, fireplaces…” (per Departures 2012) The photos on Sol y Luna’s web site look beautiful…a bit like Colorado in the summertime. Sol y Luna is one hour from the airport and Cuzco.

itmp_orquidea020_mail

orchid near Machu Picchu (photo courtesy of Inkaterra)

itmp_fauna005_mail

Machu Picchu flora and fauna (photo courtesy of Inkaterra)

Beaufort, SC: The Newport of the South

Most people have heard of Charleston and Savannah but many don’t know about Beaufort. Yet once upon a time, they were referred to as the Three Colonial Sisters, each stunning in her own way. Beaufort is located in between her sisters, an hour’s drive north of Savannah and hour and a half south of Charleston.

IMG_0443

Beaufort has a cosmopolitan history: “10 flags have flown over this area, including those of Spain, France, England, Scotland, Switzerland, and the Confederate and Union forces; not to mention the many Native Americans that have lived here for at least 5,000 years.” (from the Rhett House Inn brochure)

“…from the mid-1700’s to the mid-1800’s, Beaufort enjoyed a prosperity and way of life comparable to that of wealthy elites in Charleston, Savannah, and…Beaufort was known as ‘The Newport of the South.'” This largesse was courtesy of the slave labor and lucrative indigo, tobacco, cotton and rice crops grown on Beaufort’s plantations.

The Castle_Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce

(photo courtesy of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce)

I stayed in Beaufort for five wonderful days in 2015 and loved every second. These houses pictured are within walking distance of the lovely Rhett House Inn.

SEE THE SIGHTS

  • Walk, bike or drive around Beaufort to see its many MANY perfectly gorgeous houses and gardens. My Beaufort-savvy friend suggests viewing the houses and port of Beaufort from the water via a kayaking tour lead by a local guide. Sounds like fun!

FullSizeRender_1

BFT Historic Home1_Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce

(photo courtesy of Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce)

  • Attend Sunday service at the Tabernacle Baptist Church (907-911 Craven St.)–The TBC was built in 1811 as a “praise house”and later morphed into a black meeting hall, referred to as a “tabernacle.” The present building was built in the 1840’s. The services are inclusive, welcoming, and filled with inspirational foot-tapping hymns. “Built in 1840, Tabernacle Baptist Church is the resting place of one of Beaufort’s most beloved icons, Robert Smalls, who was born into slavery in 1839…he went on to a distinguished career of public service including serving in the South Carolina House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and four terms in the United States House of Representatives,” per the Beaufort Chamber of Commerce.
  • Bike to Port Royal–Established in 1562, PR is a low-key little town on the water with a lot of history and no pretense whatsoever (read: no fancy houses).
IMG_0275

Port Royal

  • Old Sheldon Church (17 miles north of Beaufort)–built between 1745-53, burned in 1799 by the British during the Revolutionary War, re-built in 1826, burned in 1865 by General Sherman…this baby’s seen some history! Old Sheldon Church’s beautiful setting is in the country, by itself, and surrounded by lovely old trees.
Old Sheldon Church2_Lyndi Leary

Old Sheldon Church (photo courtesy of Lyndi Leary)

  • Explore evocative, Spanish Moss-draped St. Helena Island, just over the bridge from Beaufort–
    • Parish Church: one of the oldest churches in the U.S., established in 1712
    • Penn Center: lovely setting and interesting. Of its 16 buildings registered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, three are especially worth of a visit, as they reflect different points in Beaufort’s history:
      • The Brick Baptist Church, built in 1855–“In 1862, the U.S. Navy declared victory at Port Royal Sound, South Carolina and freed 32,530 slaves from plantations in the Beaufort District. White inhabitants fled the Lowcountry. Northern abolitionists recognized the need to educate the freed slaves, and the Philadelphia-based Port Royal Relief Committee sent funds and a progressive young woman named Laura Towne to teach former plantation slaves “habits of self-support” and to “elevate their moral and social condition.” Towne was joined by Ellen Murray, a Northern Quaker. They settled on St. Helena Island, one of South Carolina’s largest sea islands. Their first class was held at Oaks Plantation with nine scholars. It soon expanded to The Brick Baptist Church, which survives today,” per the Penn Center’s website.
Gantt Cottage_Lyndi Leary

Gantt Cottage (photo courtesy of Lyndi Leary)

  • The Gantt Cottage: “In the mid 20th century, Penn Center again shifted focus…Penn Center became a center and meeting place for interracial social activists—the only place in the south where segregated meetings were held without excessive legal and violent harassment. It was a safe haven and retreat for Martin Luther King, Jr. until his death in 1968…,” per PC’s website. Dr. King wrote his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Gantt Cottage, pictured above.
  • The York W. Bailey Museum, located inside the Penn Center visitors center, features “artifacts and photographs that depict the history of Penn Center, as well as the Gullah Geechee history and the strong African cultural influences they’ve maintained,” according to PC’s website. The YWBM also showcases beautiful art exhibits.
britton

painting by Diane Britton Dunham at the current art exhibit at the York W. Bailey Museum

STAY

  • Rhett House Inn–big, beautiful rooms with deep porches that span the front of the inn, built in 1820 in the Greek Revival style. Think wicker porch furniture, hanging ferns, pots of red geraniums…all spic ‘n’ span and in good taste. (10 rooms, some in the main house and some in an adjacent building; we stayed in the two on the front of the house on the second floor and loved both)
rhett2

Rhett House Inn

IMG_0260

upstairs porch at Rhett House Inn

SHOP

ScoutSouthernInside

Scout Southern Market

  • Scout Southern Market (709 Bay Street)–The owner has great taste!! This shop sells all things Southern and stylish for entertaining (decorative lanterns,  embroidered linen cocktail napkins, charming serving dishes painted by local artists, bar ware), sophisticated or whimsical South-centric coffee books, etc.
ScoutSouthernOutside

vignette featuring Scout Southern Market’s beautiful wares

  • Red Piano Too Art Gallery  (870 Sea Island Pkwy., St. Helena Island, SC)–wonderful, graphic, colorful Gullah art; per its website, “Art Gallery with a focus on Lowcountry/Gullah original Art to include paintings, sculptures, glass, baskets, quilts, books, calendars, notecards, jewelry and much more.”
RedPiano2

(photo courtesy of Red Piano Too Gallery)

  • Penn Center Visitors Center gift shop (St. Helena Island)–When I was there last year, I fell in love with a couple of LARGE, beautiful, evocative paintings, for sale in the Penn Center’s Visitors Center. This a visitors center with KICK! They also sell folk art, books, and charming knickknacks.

EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY

  • Sweetgrass Restaurant and Bar (100 Marina Drive, St. Helena Island, 11 miles from downtown Beaufort)–This restaurant is the new, personal fav of my good friend, whose been summering in Beaufort for over 25 years. At the dinner-only SR&B, it’s all about local: local fish from the surrounding waters and local produce from the surrounding farms. While it is located in a private marina, they will let you in to go to the restaurant. Go for dinner at sunset!
114809_1380131

photo courtesy of Sweetgrass Restaurant

inside lcp2

inside Lowcountry Produce and Market Cafe

Traveling Companions

  • Reading Companion: Pat Conroy’s “The Great Santini” or “The Prince of Tides”
  • Driving Companion (book on tape): Pat Conroy’s “My Writing Life”
  • Movie Companion (hopefully your hotel room comes w/a DVD player): “The Big Chill” because the house around which this movie revolves is in Beaufort
Downtown Beaufort_Lyndi Leary

entering downtown Beaufort (photo courtesy of Lyndi Leary)

IMG_0603

–posted August 2016

Bermuda Bliss

67

photo courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority

Going to Bermuda? Lucky you, because Bermuda is a happy, fun island, surrounded by bright blue/green water, and covered with hibiscus and lush jungle-green vegetation. Plus, Bermudians are all nice! I wonder if it’s because Bermuda’s population is only 60,000 people and the island is relatively small (22 square miles).

SEE THE SIGHTS

  • Scooter around the island—It’s really fun! Plus, the speed limit for cars and scooters is only 20 m.p.h. (and everyone obeys it) so the likelihood of being run over is low.
  • Check out the island’s Bermuda National Trust gardens and historic properties. Elle Décor especially liked the Verdmont Museum (Collector’s Hill, Smith’s Parish), describing it as a “house museum treasure.”
  • Try out every beach: there are MANY, all gorgeous and uncrowded. They really are pink! That’s because tiny pieces of broken coral are interspersed with the sand.
Stonehole Bay

Stonehole Bay (photo courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority)

Western Bermuda

  • One of the BEST beach walks–is from stunning Horseshoe Bay to the Swizzle Inn. It’s dotted with many gorgeous coves, including heavenly Jobson Cove. Timing: This walk should be done at low tide because it includes a series of beaches interrupted by rocky promontories, most of which can be walked around at low tide but not at high tide. Note: While the Swizzle Inn is not great, you can sit on its road-side terrace and try a Rum Swizzle, the island’s signature drink.
Horseshoe Bay Beach (photo credit Bermuda Tourism Authority)

Horseshoe Bay Beach (photo courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority)

  • Gibbs Hill Lighthouse–built in 1844, this is the oldest cast iron lighthouse in the world…it also provides GREAT big views of the island, as it is on a hilltop; one can also dine here.
  • Somerset Bridge–if you are into Lilliputian draw bridges, this sight’s for you! I must admit, it’s pretty charming. Its’ opening is 18″, just wide enough for a sailboat to pass through.
  • Royal Naval Dockyard–19th century dockyard with an excellent museum and fort…and beautiful, high-up views of Bermuda, plus shops and restaurants
  • Take the ferry from the Royal Navy Dockyard to St. George’s–it’s efficient, clean, inexpensive, and a great way to see all of Bermuda’s southern coast from the water; also, it motors inside the reef (no exposure to rough seas) so is quite comfortable.

Mid-Island

  • Hamilton, Bermuda’s capital, is quietly attractive with pastel-painted buildings, but the main reasons to visit are the following……
    • Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute: so interesting!
    • Bermuda National Gallery (in City Hall, 17 Church St.)–lovely paintings of and by Bermudians and non Bermudians alike, like Winslow Homer
    • Royal Yacht Club (15 Pt. Pleasant Rd.)–is private but if you can get a letter of introduction, it’s worth it because it is old (built in 1844, one of the oldest royal yacht clubs in the world) and beautiful, w/a lovely terrace overlooking the very snazzy boats docked there
    • Fort Hamilton  (NE corner)— Civil War era fort that now features terraced gardens

Unknown

  • Bermuda Botanical Gardens (169 South Rd., Paget Parish)—36 acres of specimens. John Lennon named his “Double Fantasy” album after the Double Fantasy freesia he spotted here.

 Eastern Bermuda

  • Crystal Cave (8 Crystal Ca Rd.)–Floating pontoon pathways span a 55′ deep azure blue underground lake, beautifully lit up for tourists. Above the lake are gorgeous white stalactites, soda straws and helectite formations.
hero3

Crystal Cave (photo courtesy of The Crystal Caves of Bermuda)

  • St. George’s–charming, historic town AND a UNESCO World Heritage Site; oldest continuously inhabited town of English origin in the New World, with fortifications built in 1612…lovely streets and houses with some decent shopping and waterside dining opp’s; be sure to visit!
St Georges Bermuda 2016-0475

St. George (photo courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority)

  • St. Peter’s Church –Located in St. George’s, this is the oldest Protestant church in continuous use in the New World, est. 1612
HomeDefaultLeft

St. Peter’s (courtesy of St. Peter’s)

  • Mid Ocean Club–This private club’s décor is cold, though location is dramatically pretty. A friend of mine, who has been going to Bermuda for years, told me the MOC has the best golf on the island.

Seasonal Sights Of Note

  • Every spring, the Garden Club of Bermuda sponsors the Open Houses and Gardens Tour. Wouldn’t that be glorious?! www.bermudatourism.com
  • At midnight every New Year’s Eve, they drop a giant Bermuda Onion in the town square at St. George’s…think a MUCH tamer version of NYC’s Time Square ball drop
  • The 35th Americas Cup will be hosted in Bermuda in June of 2017
Artemis Racing practice session

photo courtesy of Sander van der Borch

STAY

  • Coral Beach Club (on the south shore)–Pure heaven! BUT, this is a private club, so you can only stay there with a letter of intro from a reciprocal club. Beautiful uncrowded beach, good food, dining and dancing on the terrace several stories above the beach, nice staff and happy rooms, some with balconies. The Crow’s Nest cottage is the best! Nobel Prize-winning playwright, Eugene O’Neill, wrote “Desire Under the Elms” and “The Great God Brown” in the Crow’s Nest. Tennis, putting, and croquet. CAUTION: If you like the beige, no-rough-edges at all, faux-luxury of a Ritz-Carlton, the CBC is not for you. But if you like old-world elegance with one or two very small imperfections, beeline to the CBC! (40 rooms)
FullSizeRender-2

view from Coral Beach Club

  • Cambridge Beaches (on western tip of the island)–lovely, refined, off on its own, croquet, pink cottages with white roofs, putt-putt, beautifully and cheerfully decorated (87 rooms, in the form of cottages, spread out over the property)
209_aerial

photo courtesy of Cambridge Beaches

  • Rosedon Hotel (w/in walking distance of Hamilton)–recommended by Elle Décor; a former family estate, the RH is surrounded by gardens and a pool; looks really pretty on its website! (39 rooms)
  • Rosewood Tucker’s Point (in Hamilton Parish)–The web site looks a bit cold but Travel + Leisure (2014) and Andrew Harper recommended it (2015), and Mr. And Mrs. Smith Hotels give it 4 (out of 5) stars. It has golf, a spa and a beach club. (88 rooms)
Rosewood Bermuda 2016-0360

Rosewood (courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority)

  • Granaway Guest House (Warwick Parish)–recommended by Travel + Leisure (2014) and Trip Advisor describes it as a “great value”; no beach but pool (4 rooms)

While the following don’t appeal to me because I prefer small hotels, they are mentioned in every travel article:

  • Fairmont Hamilton Princess (76 Pitts Bay Road, Hamilton Parish)–overlooks the Hamilton harbor and a five-minute walk to Hamilton. Not on the beach but it has a beach club (157 rooms)
  • Fairmont Southampton Princess (101 S. Shore Rd., Southampton)–HUGE w/all the amenities you would expect from a biiiiig resort. (593 rooms)

EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY

Bermuda is not a foodie destination. In general, the restaurants serve mediocre, expensive food…and that is the ONLY imperfect thing about Bermuda. However, the island specialty is fish chowder, and it is mmmm, mmmm, good!

  • Marcus (Hamilton Princess Hotel)–I have not been here but plan to on my next trip because its chef, Marcus Samuelsson (of Red Rooster in Harlem, NY fame), is highly acclaimed!
  • The Dining Room (at the base of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse)–super spectacular views at night! The restaurant is small so be sure to make reservations.
jpegDARK N STORMY-4770

Coral Beach Club’s Dark n Stormy cocktail (photo courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority)

 SHOP IT!

  • Hamilton is Bermuda’s shopping hub.
    • William Bluck (4 Front Street)–GORGEOUS crystal and china, in biz for 160+ years; in addition to all the usual high-end brands, they have a several lovely Bermuda-centric china patterns, such as Bermuda Reef Fish and Bermuda Flowers, both by Herend
blucks2

(photo courtesy of Bluck’s)

morninggloryBlucks

(photo courtesy of Bluck’s)

  • Island Shop (3 Queen St.)–The IS sells informal serving dishes, linens, home décor items, and all things Bermuda and bright.
IslandShop

(photo courtesy of the Island Shop)

  • The English Sports Shop (49 Front St.)—reasonably-priced, traditional men’s (& some ladies’) clothes. “Since 1918, the home of the original Bermuda shorts,” per its website.
04.13.14-TABS.153

They really do wear Bermuda shorts with blazers, ties & high socks in Bermuda! (photo courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority)

  • St. George’s
    • Lili Bermuda (5 Queen St.)–very sweet little perfume shop and adjacent tea room.
    • The English Sports Shop (30 Water St.)

WHEN TO GO

May to October is universally recommended but we also went for Easter & New Year’s Eve and had lovely weather.

WARDROBE

Bermuda is more formal than the US, so consider that when packing. That said, the only places I encountered a dress code were private clubs.

04.13.14-TABS.183

(photo courtesy of Bermuda Travel Authority)

moxely 51

(photo courtesy of the Bermuda Travel Authority)

Stonehole Bay Beach (credit Bermuda Tourism Authority)

Stonehole Bay Beach (photo courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority)

-posted July 2016

.

Maine’s Coastal Charmers

If this is what comes to mind when someone says, “Maine,” you will not be disappointed because it really is this beautiful!

048

(photo courtesy of the Pentagoet Inn)

96495cf94172718be9ef80b955737daeb93598ac

Hiking near Blue Hill, Maine—lots of blueberries! (photo courtesy of the Pentagoet Inn)

036

You will see lots of classic old sailboats in Maine (photo courtesy of the Pentagoet Inn)

Based on articles in my file, my husband’s multiple sailing trips along Maine’s coast, and our trip a couple of years ago, following are Maine’s most charming coastal towns:

Castine

MOST perfect! Historic, not touristy, peaceful small town, with beautiful houses, situated on the tip of a peninsula overlooking Penobscot Bay. The best introduction to the village of Castine is to read the history and then to follow the self-guided walking tour in the “Welcome to Castine” brochure, which describes historic sites and homes, and anecdotes about early citizens. It’s fun, easy and relaxing…oh, and a bit educational to boot!

IMG_2648

Castine’s history is amazing!

011

Having lunch in Castine (photo courtesy of The Castine Inn)

STAY in Castine

  • Castine Inn–What could be more welcoming than the Castine Inn’s front porch, below?! Built in 1898, one block from the harbor, wraparound porch, gardens,  and its own pub. 19 rooms with private baths
001

The Castine Inn (photo courtesy of The Castine Inn)

020

room at Castine Inn

Blue Hill

Lovely, lovely!

STAY in Blue Hill

  • Blue Hill Inn–Such a classically pretty inn! The bedrooms look every bit as nice, so check out BHI’s website for photos. Located on an acre of land in the center of the village of Blue Hill and a block from the head of Blue Hill Bay, the inn, built in 1835, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
unnamed

Blue Hill Inn—oh, those rhododendrons!

unnamed-1

Blue Hill Inn’s parlor

EAT in Blue Hill:

  • Wonderful Restaurant: Arborvine
  • Excellent Carry-out: Blue Hill Co-op
  • Kitsch-at-its-best diner: Fish Net (no web site, of course!)
  • The Boatyard Grill: It’s a fun one! (no web site for this one, either)
  • Blue Hill Country Club: The house we rented came with use of this private club, whose upscale casualness charmed us, so you might want to see if your club has reciprocity with the BHCC, which has golf, tennis, etc.
carousel-07

photo courtesy of the Wooden Boat School

Stonington

Perfectly charming! Stonington is one of the few working fishing villages left in Maine and boasts one of New England’s largest fishing fleets (lobstering, fishing, urchining, scalloping, clamming and musseling). Stonington sits on the southernmost tip of Deer Isle, with lovely panoramic views of fir-dense islands. What to do in Stonington and Deer Isle: hiking, kayaking, tennis, golf, bird watching, jogging, biking, and fishing.

STAY in Stonington

  • Inn on the Harbor-This is not a fancy place BUT it is perched right on the edge of lovely Stonington Harbor, has a great view of the Penobscot Bay islands, and was built in the 1880’s. It is a bed and breakfast, with 13 simply furnished rooms, 10 of which face the sea, and a spacious flower-covered deck extending out into the harbor. Several rooms have wood burning fireplaces and/or private decks; all with private baths.
schooner641-home

Inn on the Harbor

SEE THE SIGHTS in Stonington

  • The Inn on the Harbor’s innkeepers will introduce you to Captain Walt Reed, who takes 1 to 4 passengers aboard his 21′ vessel to explore around the islands, see lighthouses, seals, and water birds. He will let you create your own tour, including the timing thereof. Stonington harbor is the departure point for daily cruises (by the Isle au Haut Boat Company) around the islands and to Isle au Haut, part of Acadia National Park, which offers hiking trails, rugged beaches and gorgeous sea vistas.

IMG_1143

EAT in Stonington

  • Aragosta–Breaking news: My cousins just visited Stonington and highly recommend this farm-to-table dining overlooking Stonington’s beautiful harbor.
4th

photo courtesy of Aragosta

SEE THE SIGHTS

In nearby small, sweet Brooklin, Maine (setting of E.B.White’s  “Charlotte’s Web”):

  • Brooklin Inn:  has a good restaurant
  • Brooklin Boat Yard, where E.B. White’s grandson builds beautiful, classic boats
  • Wooden Boat School: great gift shop (selling boat models and books) & gorgeous location on a 64-acre campus on the water where you can learn to make your own wooden boat
carousel-26

photo courtesy of the Wooden Boat School

carousel-05

IMG_2699

regatta as seen from the shores of the Wooden Boat School

SEE THE SIGHTS

A little farther afield:

Miscellaneous well-rated hotels in Maine:

  • Whitehall (Camden)–My cousins-with-good-taste recently returned from Camden and, while they agree with my sailor husband’s description of the town (“not bad, a little touristy”), they loved this hotel. And you will see why when you go to its website. Here are some photos to whet your appetite:
camden5

Whitehall (photo courtesy of Lark Hotels)

camden2

Whitehall (photo courtesy of Lark Hotels)

camden3

Whitehall (photo courtesy of Lark Hotels)

  •  Camden Harbour Inn–This is a Relais & Chateaux but as we all know, the hotels in that group are only guaranteed to be great in France. Outside of France, sometimes they’re great, sometimes not. The CHI’s website looked okay, with only a few hints of tackiness.
  • The White Barn Inn (Kennebunkport)–This is the only hotel in Maine recommended by Mr. and Mrs. Smith, who have good taste. Here’s what they say, “Set on a prime plot of Atlantic coastline, The White Barn Inn hotel in Kennebunkport, Maine, captures the region’s nautical spirit without resorting to sailor stripes and ship-inspired design. The airy riverfront cabins and 19th-century guesthouse often include dual-sided fireplaces, marble bathrooms and antique furniture. As for the namesake barn, it’s home to a local-centric restaurant, which serves some of the best food in all of New England.” Based on a few articles I have read, I worry that Kennebunkport might be touristy, though I haven’t been there.

From  Andrew Harper‘s always-helpful website (April 2016):

“Contrary to popular belief, not all of the Maine shoreline is rocky. Many of the beaches in the southern part of the state offer sandy shores.’Goose Rocks Beach is one of the best beaches in Maine, and quite possibly in all of New England,’ says Justin Grimes of Hidden Pond. ‘It’s protected by two small islands that shelter the bay and make it especially great for swimming.’ In case you think it’s too cold, Al Black of The White Barn Inn says water temperatures are typically pleasant from late June through early September. Plus, you get two-for-one in Kennebunkport: From the coast, drive a mere mile inland and you’re in the thick of the forest.”

AVOID BECAUSE PACKED WITH TOURISTS: Bar Harbor

AVOID BECAUSE STRIP-SHOPPING CENTER CENTRAL: Freeport

Reading companions to get into the Maine spirit: any E.B. White books, but especially E.B. White’s “One Man’s Meat” (witty essays on daily life at his Maine farm on Allen Cove, between Blue Hill and Brooklin) and, should you want to re-live your childhood, “Charlotte’s Web,” part of which is set in Brooklin

IMG_2639

carousel-21

photo courtesy of the Wooden Boat School

-posted June 2016

London (part 1/2): Hotels & Sights

  • union-jack-flag-1365882581V0R

Pip Pip, Cheerio, Let’s Go! Here’s the scoop, based on many articles in my travel file and over 30 trips to London:

STAY

Chelsea

Sloane Square Hotel 2013

Sloane Square Hotel

  • Sloane Square HotelIf modern décor in a great location is your thing, the SSH is attractive and sits right on Sloane Square, with its wonderful shops off the Square on Kings Road and on Pimlico Road, plus plays at the Royal Court Theatre right on Sloane Square, plus the nearby & lovely Chelsea Physic Garden, good restaurants, and a tube stop on the Square). Request a room overlooking always-buzzing and stylish Sloane Square.
RMPH7795

The Draycott

  • The Draycott Hotel–Two blocks from Sloane Square, the Draycott is refined, homey elegance, with traditional décor. This article from the HuffPost describes it best.The rooms are named after famous stage actors and your name will be inserted into the discreet name plate on your guest room door. Nothing flashy here, plus it is reasonably priced (though not cheap, because nothing good in London is). Request a  room with a balcony looking onto beautiful quiet Cadogan Square.

NOTE: If you are staying at the Draycott, drop by the nice bar at 11 Cadogan Gardens, a Small Luxury Hotel half a block away. Here’s what it looks like:

LH - Bar

11 Cadogan Gardens bar

  • The Sloane Clubis my personal fav, so if you can swing a letter of intro to this private club, go for it! In addition to individual rooms, they also have apartments. Great location just off of Sloane Square on Lower Sloane.

Knightsbridge

  • The Knightsbridge (10 Beaufort Gardens)–stylish, cheery, townhouse hotel decorated by its owner, the fabulously creative and successful Kit Kemp!
Exterior

The Knightsbridge Hotel

St. James

  • The Stafford (16-18 St. James Pl.)–VERY nice, old-school townhouse hotel with cozy, elegant bar. This photo shows the mews rooms (left). Ours was called The Daisy room because, in a former life, it was a stable for a horse named Daisy.
Blue Ball Courtyard

The Stafford

Following hotels get lots of positive press:

Mayfair

  • Claridge’s (Brook St.)–formal, traditional, fabled past, art deco, très élégant! Two beautiful bars. “…the suite with the prettiest of all balconies is 406,” per Departures (2015).

Claridge's lobby

  • The Connaught (Carlos Pl.)–very nice, with a buzzing, snazzy bar! This is where the Middletons stayed for Kate’s wedding. “The Apartment suite is London’s best example of making a hotel feel like a private home,” (Departures 2015)
  • Beaumont Hotel (Brown Hart Gardens)–Masculine art deco, upscale, nice neighborhood very near Grosvenor Square.

Beau_lobby_chairs_KM_Hi

Soho

  • Ham Yard Hotel (1 Ham Yard)–“the happiest hotel in London,” per Departures magazine (2015) PLUS beautifully decorated by owner Kit Kemp. The lobby was a-buzz with stylish people drinking tea and tasting champagne at 3:00 pm on the weekday afternoon when we popped in. It is a fun, happy place!
HYH Bar Orangery with plants MR

Ham Yard Hotel

SEE THE SIGHTS

London has too many fascinating sites to list here. Following are my fav’s, organized by neighborhood, from least obvious to most:

Embankment

  • Somerset House–history, fashion, art, good food, sublime terrace for drinks overlooking the Thames…it’s all here; SH is a former royal palace on the Thames, with four huge buildings and a central courtyard, in which Fashion Week’s fashion shows take place; the four buildings house art and fashion exhibits. PLUS Departures (Oct. 2015) recently named Spring restaurant at SH as one of 25 “tables of note.”

The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court at Somerset House © Jeff Knowles 2

Chelsea

  • Chelsea Physic Garden–LOVE this walled garden founded in 1673 to provide plants for medicinal purposes to the neighboring Royal Hospital; today, a section of its garden is organized by plants with healing ingredients for specific ailments. The CPG has a simple café, the Tangerine Dream Café, with very good food; suggest you make a reservation if you want to dine in the garden on a weekend, as fashionable Londoners fill up the tables for pastoral lunches…nice gift shop, too!
CPG August 20th-105

Chelsea Physic Garden

  • Chelsea Flower Show (every May): HEAVEN ON EARTH because so fabulously over the top, the best-of-the-best horticulture specimens and garden designs, beauty and brains meet creativity. The photos below say it best!
RHS Chelsea Flowe Show

Chelsea pensioners look at ‘Peter Beales Roses’  at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London

RHS Chelsea Flowe Show

Two men look at a flower display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London

Westminster

  • The Houses of Parliament–in session: House of Lords and House of Commons (the H of C is better because they have more meaningful debates). Be sure to get tickets in advance through the U.S. Embassy because you do not want to wait in those long lines. The very best ticket is for the “Prime Minister’s Question Time,” though hard to get. No line or ticket needed for the House of Lords, whose ceremonial chamber is worth a short visit.
  • Westminster Abbey–lots of famous people buried here, gorgeous in and of itself, PLUS Kate and Wills were married here, so you gotta go!
  • Buckingham Palace–The public is allowed inside once a year, in summer when the royal family is in Scotland. Otherwise, you are limited to watching the changing of the guard (not a life-altering experience), visiting the Queen’s Galleries (traditional, top quality, art), and the coach collection in the Royal Mews.
  • St. James Park–In front of Buckingham Palace, this is one of London’s several beautiful public parks.
  • The Tate Britain–fantastic, traditional collection in classic building
  • Churchill’s Underground War Cabinet Rooms–I found these fascinating. My husband, who reads a lot of history, found them superficial. Go anyway! They’re great.
The Map Room at IWMCMCWR. 7th October 2009. Shot for Film Location.

The Map Room at Churchill’s Underground War Rooms

©IWM

Directly Across the Thames from Westminster

  • The Eye–This is a ferris wheel whose views are like looking at a giant map of London. It takes about an hour to go around and that’s because it does so verrrrrrrrrrry slowly. Each “car” is clean and big, so not claustrophobic. I did not wait in line either time I went, so you probably won’t have to, either.

875

Southwark

  • The Tate Modern–art museum in a very modern building with very contemporary exhibits/collection

Kensington

  • The Victoria & Albert Museum (“V and A”)–has exhibits on any and everything related to design, be it design of wrought iron hinges, sterling silver or fashions; huge and something for everyone here; they even have an ice skating rink in the winter

St. James

Holborn

  • British Museum–historic artifacts on a major scale, e.g. THE Elgin Marbles are here, as is THE Rosetta Stone=fascinating and transporting; if you are short on time, the museum has a Top 10 pamphlet that directs you to the highlights.

Street walking: Yes, I am listing walking as a sight in and of itself because it’s a great way to soak up the many, charming details of London streets and architecture and style and history.

TIP: If you like to see the sights on foot, pick up a London A-Z, the small, detailed map book with every street in London, available at most bookstores and newspaper kiosks.

DAY TRIPS

  • Hampton Court: Henry VIII’s castle with beautiful garden; recommend you go one-way by boat (depending on the tide) & the other way via rail.
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew–impressive and historic
  • Greenwich’s Royal Observatory–as in, Greenwich Mean Time! Go if you’re interested in clocks, longitude & the British Naval Museum. Take a boat (make sure you’re going with the tide; recommend you pick up at Westminster or the Eye, for best city views) one way and the tube the other way,

WARDROBE

London is dressier than most US cities. You will see more women in heels and skirts here than in US cities. Also, they are not big on bright colors…except for men’s shirts, socks and waistcoats. Lots of black and grey assembled with panache.images

For RESTAURANT & SHOPPING recommendations, go to my “London: part 2/2 post.”

-posted May 2016