Photography by Yuri Krasov

Some call it the best county in California, and some are just lucky to live and work here. As if the fertile and abundant land stretching from the ocean to the mountains wasn’t enough for a resounding success, Sonoma County is also blessed with talented folks who grow grapes and cattle here, make wine, distil spirits, brew beer, make cheese, cook amazing dishes and express themselves in countless art forms.

A short picturesque ride up north from San Francisco delivers us to this heavenly place, easy to navigate with the help of Sonoma County Tourism’s maps and guides, and visitor-oriented educational programs put together by the Sonoma County Winegrowers’ and Sonoma County Vintners’ associations.

Our Sonoma County experience is wonderful and festive, just like those neat vineyards on the green hills, peppered with wild flowers and studded with California oaks.

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As is customary in the best homes of Europe, our day in Sonoma starts with a glass of champagne… or three – at the famed Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards.

Hailing from Spain, and carrying on the great tradition of Spanish cava that has to be aged in caves, Gloria Ferrer boasts its own cave cellar, an exhibition of multiple awards won by the brand, an art collection of vintage and contemporary champagne glasses, Bubbles and Bites room for club members, and a sunlit tasting room with an outdoor terrace.

In addition to tasting Gloria Ferrer’s pinot noir- and chardonnay-derived bubblies the guests can enjoy a stunning view of vineyards and mountains from the winery’s enviable top-of-the-hill location.

I must admit that in all my life I’ve never opened a bottle of champagne before. It used to be always someone else who opened it for me. This time, at Gloria Ferrer, I’m entrusted with a precious bottle of Royal Cuvee 2007 with its distinct purple label and golden foil, first produced in 1987 for the royal family of Spain. Since then all other Royal houses of Europe got it, and the White House now places its orders for the Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvee brut, made of hand-picked Carneros grapes, year after year.

Feeling the weight of responsibility on my hands I’m holding the Double Gold winner from the Sonoma Country Harvest Fair 2015, of which only 3000 cases were made. I’m advised to hold the French handmade bottle “like a baby,” to gently release the cage, to rotate the bottle until the cork gives (pointing away from the people in the room) and finally to release the cork almost noiselessly and without spilling a drop of the perfectly balanced blend, aromatic and full-flavored from the late harvest.

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St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, where we venture next, introduces a new program, implemented this year as part of Sonoma County Vineyard Adventures program.

A self-guided Vineyard Walk is a 1.2 mi tour with a handout map and 10 interpretive stops along the St. Francis’s certified sustainable vineyards. The Walk, during which we are accompanied by the friendly winery dog, Will, is accompanied by a tolling bell (made in Assisi, Italy) from the winery’s own bell tower, and of course with the tasting of St. Francis richly-flavored distinct wines – 2014 viognier from Wild Oak Vineyard, 2012 cabernet sauvignon from Lagomarsino Vineyard, and 2012 merlot from Behler Vineyard.

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At Farmhouse Inn, owned and operated by Catherine and Joe Bartolomei, siblings and fifth-generation Forestville farmers, we sit down to a white-tablecloth lunch, prepared by the Estate Chef Trevor Anderson.

Amuse bouche of red radishes covered in miso butter, garnished with beet pesto and topped with smoked tea leaves is the most delicious radish I’ve ever tried!

The first course – pork belly and candy cap mushroom hash with hedgehog mushrooms and pickled mustard seeds is paired with Moonlight Brewing Company’s “Misspent Youth” dry pale ale – a classic American pale ale – soft and smooth with slight bitterness.

Second course – beef tenderloin, braised beef arancini and fava leaves – is matched with medium-bodied 2012 Lost and Found Winery pinot noir from Russian River Valley; its label adorned with an international symbol for lost and found – an umbrella and a glove under a question mark.

Our dessert course, prepared by the Pastry Chef Phil Ogiela, presents Gianduja ice cream, pear cider gelee, and hazelnut lace with Asian pear slices and caramelized hazelnut, and 2014 Tilted Shed Ciderworks Barred Rock barrel aged cider.

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To walk off all the delicious lunch calories, we make a short excursion into Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, where a knowledgeable docent Glen Blackley takes us on a short trail through the majestic redwood grove. Here, walking into a tree trunk hollowed by a fire I feel just like a mouse, but it’s a safe, magical, fairy-tale feeling…

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And then there is the Barlow – formerly the world’s largest Gravenstein apples processing facility, and now a bustling marketplace of Sebastopol’s diversely talented producers of art, wine, food, spirits, and various crafts.

Tibetan Gallery & Studio is a working artist’s studio and a retail shop of exotic jewelry and fascinating trinkets. The artist, Tashi Dhargyal is currently working on a giant painting – the first thanbochi (a very large thangka for special prayer ceremonies) painted by a Tibetan outside of Tibet. The project is going to take up to five years, and when completed, the canvas will be two stories high. It is being made with hand-ground mineral pigments and 24K gold leaf. When finished, it will tour museums before being donated to a monastery.

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Spirit Works Distillery produces grain-to-glass vodka, gin, barrel gin, sloe gin, barrel reserve sloe gin, straight wheat whisky and straight rye whiskey – all tasting amazing and bottled beautifully.

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MacPhail Tasting Lounge provides a complete tasting experience of MacPhail Family Wines. Exceptional pinot noir is the trademark varietal of the family winery, made of fruit coming from the most coveted vineyards of the Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley. The wines are paired with charcuterie, artisanal cheeses from local makers, and fruit jams made in house.

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At the end of the day of wonders, we are having dinner at Zazu kitchen + farm – the award-winning genuine farm-to-table restaurant, owned and operated by a husband-and-wife team – celebrity chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart, founders of the Black Pig Meat Company.

The dinner starts with Black Pig antipasti and the freshest salad of chicories, blood oranges, pomegranates, and pistachios. The seasonal main course is porcini noodle Stroganoff with Sebastopol mushrooms, arugula, and Redwood Hill goat cheese.

The participating winemakers introduce their outstanding wines: Balletto Vineyards & Winery – Anthony Beckman (2012 brut rose from Russian River Valley); Laurel Glen Vineyard – Bettina Sichel (2012 Sonoma Mountain Estate cabernet sauvignon) and The Callings – Sandy Robertson (2014 pinot noir from Russian River Valley).

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Coming up in Sonoma County:

Farm Trails events familiarizing visitors with the local agriculture, artisanal producers and family farms. Spring Tour: Blossoms, Bees & Barnyard Babies April 30 and May 1; BBQ, Brews Barn Dance May 21; Gravenstein Apple Fair August 13 and 14; Fall Tour: Weekend Along the Farm Trails September 24 and 25; and Farm to Fork Fall Festival October 22. www.farmtrails.org.

Free farm tours of Tara Firma Farms that sustainably grow cows, pigs, and chickens delivered to households, businesses and farmer’s markets through CSA program. Tarafirmafarms.com.

Here’s how you can get to Sonoma County.

Get the FREE Visitors Guide and Wine Map Discover Things to Do Browse Wineries & Wine Find Hotels & Lodging and Deals

 

 

Photography by Yuri Krasov

 

In America, the beautiful, not many cities have their own face, their unique character. In the majority of American cities an observant traveler often experiences a kind of déjà vu: street names start with Main and delve into a roster of Presidents, or just go through alphabetical and numerical orders; the same bank and retailer logos bookend every street in every town in every state, and similarly dressed folks buzz around, running their identical chores.  New Orleans, Louisiana (or NOLA, as its dwellers call their passionately beloved city) falls out of this routine like a golden nugget from gray sand.

Bourbon Street

NOLA is a constant celebration, for a reason or no reason, officiated by the motto, Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler! which means in French, “Let the Good Times Roll!”

The good times are mostly self-made by the suave, upbeat and resilient residents of New Orleans, since the fate is not always favorable, and the circumstances are often detrimental.

Garden District tour

Throughout its colorful history the city withstood yellow fever epidemics, floods and tornadoes, social and political turmoil, and not too long ago – the infamous Hurricane Katrina and its devastating aftermath.

And yet, the city is constantly bustling with creative energy, attracting tourists and artists from all corners of the world, drawn to its indelible optimism, its legends and traditions, and its generous spirit.

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A Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour on a double-decker bus by City Sightseeing New Orleans will take you to the Garden District, where the ancient sidewalks are blown up by the roots of century-old Virginia live oaks; their branches covered with bright-green sprouts of Resurrection fern and pale swaying moss beards… Here, the houses of native Cajuns and Creoles, and the newly arriving after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 American settlers, stand next to each other in stark contrast of architectural styles, daily habits, and life philosophy.

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The bus rides past the gilded statue of Jeanne d’Arc, the city’s patron saint; around the French Quarter, stops at Jackson Square with St. Louis Cathedral – the oldest in the United States (since 1794), and visits sites as diverse as The National World War II Museum, Louisiana Superdome, Mardi Gras World (the largest in the world workshop of carnival floats and costumes), and several historic cemeteries.

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Those are called “cities of the dead” for a reason. Spectacular crypts and mausoleums form streets and squares lined with palms and elms. The city dwellers learned to bury their dead above ground long ago, after Mississippi floods washed out the coffins from the graves in the below-the-sea-level areas of New Orleans… Since then people were carefully choosing their “last real estate” to accommodate families, social circles, and professional associations. A whole fire brigade is buried in a vault at Lafayette Cemetery. In times of mass disasters the demand was overwhelming the supply. According to the historical chronicles, a record number of 37 family members were buried in the same grave during the yellow fever outbreak of 1878.

Napoleon House

The history is alive on the streets of the Big Easy. Napoleon House Bar and Café on Chartres Street is located in a 1797 building erected by the then city mayor to meet and greet Emperor Napoleon in New Orleans. That plan was destroyed by the Louisiana Purchase, but the Mayor Girod House is a National Historic Landmark, and while on the first floor you can indulge in the house specialties like Pimm’s Cup cocktail and mufuletta sandwich, the second floor, almost completely intact since its construction, is now open for weddings and other special events.

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Although the nearby Bourbon Street is crowded with boisterous out-of-town revelers day and night, Hotel Le Marais around the corner offers a quiet respite to a weary traveler. This chic French Quarter boutique hotel features cozy, well-appointed rooms with contemporary design, four-star amenities, included breakfast, and friendly personable service.

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The hotel’s lively bar Vive! opens into a courtyard with a heated swimming pool, and serves signature cocktails; the first one upon your arrival – complimentary!

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There’s a number of great eateries in a short walking distance from Le Marais. On the second floor of the classic Parisian patisserie Sucré with colorful macarons and eclairs in the shop windows there’s a newly-open upscale haute cuisine restaurant Salon by Sucré. In addition to select international wines, artisanal beers, and creative cocktails, one of the brand founders and the acclaimed chef, Tariq Hanna offers its guests a refined menu of enticing French-inspired dishes. On the Amuse list there’s an amazing combo of Belgian fries of thrice-fried potato with chive cream and American bowfin caviar elegantly served in a porcelain egg shell. Another amazing creation is called Corn Pups and presents “lollypops” of Mortadella in corndog batter with honey mustard.

On the Savory part of the menu there’s a not-to-be-missed Foieklawah – a whimsical and delightful construction of seared foie gras, pistachio, fig jam and yogurt in Phyllo dough.

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The Brennan’s Restaurant was originally opened on Bourbon Street in 1946, but later moved to the Royal Street location into a historic building constructed by the great grandfather of Edgar Degas! Now, after a thorough restoration, the restaurant is one of the city’s best, with positively Impressionist atmosphere, impeccable service, and Creole cuisine with staples like turtle soup, fried squab, and classic steak in brandy sauce.

Cafe Beignet

Cafe du Monde

Breakfast at Café Beignet on Bourbon Street is bound to be festive – even at an early morning hour a jazz singer is entertaining the fans of music and delicate, crisp, generously covered in powdered sugar beignets, served hot from the oven. A non-stop 24-hour service is offered at the world-famous Café du Monde known for NOLA’s traditional chicory coffee and beignets, beignets, beignets!

Great jazz musicians play nightly at the Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse inside the posh Royal Sonesta Hotel. Dim lights, cozy tables for two, red curtains and velvet armchairs immediately transport you into the golden era of classic jazz.

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The best evenings in New Orleans are spent on Frenchmen Street, just down the Mississippi river from the French Quarter. It’s a hotbed of jazz clubs, bars, cafes, and various street musicians, tirelessly performing the most romantic, most profoundly-touching, most popular music in the world! The majority of places ask you to buy just one drink and revel all night. That’s what I could’ve done many more nights, vaguely daydreaming about the good times, if it weren’t for my too short visit to the golden NOLA.

Downtown NOLA

Find all necessary information about traveling to New Orleans, LA at: www.neworleanscvb.com.

You can get right into the holiday spirit in The Rockies of Colorado Springs, Colorado since it is cool, crisp and often snowy at this time.

It was my first choice to bring in the New Year here in the Pike’s Peak region 6,035 feet above sea level with the dynamic rocky-mountain setting.

Old Colorado Springs celebrated its old fashioned holidays with parade and festive street decorations, while downtown Colorado Springs had its tradition Festival of Lights Parade.

My plans were set for an exquisite holiday getaway at the pride and joy

of Colorado Springs, AAA’s Five Diamond and Forbes Travel Guide’s Five-Star longest running consecutive award-winning and “Grand Dame,” The Broadmoor.  It was created and built in 1918 by Spencer and Julie Penrose, who gave so much to the city, including this world-class resort set on 300 acres on Lake Cheyenne.

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The Broadmoor is where luxury meets The Rockies. Every one of my visits here have been a timeless pleasure, yet none as beautiful as the holiday season. In its tradition the hotel is generously decorated in all public areas augmented by the culinary masterpiece Ginger Bread House in the lobby. No doubt about it the night lights twinkling on the trees, with its 150,000 lights, are magical and mesmerizing.

When it comes to The Broadmoor, the experience begins on arrival at the airport with their welcoming booth. They were expecting me and greeted me warmly, then whisked me away to the resort for some quality time during the last days of the old year with anticipation of the

New Year.

It was easy to relax in a welcoming suite that was innovatively styled with one touch system controls and lake view, which I loved. I looked forward to early morning strolls around the lake. Here there are many dining options and it is a way of live to eat, drink and be merry. The ultimate in fine dining is consistent at the historic Penrose Room; however, I do favor the chic Summit Restaurant, a French bistro with an American touch and classic dishes. If the Broadmoor’s walls could talk, they would reminisce over the many Presidents, celebrities, entrepreneurs and persons of interest that have savored the lifestyle and plush dynamics of this all-inclusive resort during the decades.

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My wish list on my short sojourn included a day at The Broadmoor Spa for my favorite Hot Rocks Massage; this is the place to kick back, relax and renew with treatments galore, refreshing indoor pool and comfy lounge- a time to forget all cares. Late afternoon, it was shopping time in those stunning fashion boutiques, where I indulged in some jewelry and knitwear while taking advantage of the winter sales.

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Sure, it’s effortless to spend every moment at The Broadmoor and never leave the resort, yet there is a curiosity to visit Downtown Colorado Springs. The temperature was brisk and fine for walking and to stop by

Acacia Park to watch the ice skaters in the middle of the city. Through

December there are holiday events like: holiday afternoon tea, Colorado

Springs Philharmonic concerts, a train excursion to Pike’s Peak on the Cog Railway with Mr. and Mrs. Santa, sleigh rides and round the city holiday performances.

New Year’s Eve in Colorado Springs draws the crowds downtown for entertainment and music broadcasted on large screens plus fireworks.

The Broadmoor delights with its year New Year’s Eve gala and offers a special NYE package with overnight visit, dinner and party. The New

Year’s Eve party was sensational with orchestra and entertainment, joined by visitors from near and far. My New Year’s sojourn here is what memories are made of, those moments have stay with me through the year. Georgia O’Keefe once said, “If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it-it’s your world for the moment.”

Colorado Springs has its own year round style, check out www.visitcos.com or call Colorado Springs CVB at 800-888-4748.

Find out everything about The Broadmoor at www.broadmoor.com or call 855-634-7711.   Happy New Year!

 

 

 

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Photography by Terry Zinn

Hotel Mousai is worlds away from the ordinary upscale all-inclusive resort. The high rise column of luxury accommodations, nestled on a juggle covered mountain side, is indeed a world away from expectations. In fact, lunching or cocktail imbibing or swimming in the roof top infinity pool (one of three in the Mousai complex) one can hardly believe they are not on the French Riviera, or at some exotic South East Asia retreat.  Surprisingly, Hotel Mousai is only a moderate nonstop plane ride away to the destination popular Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta.  Puerto Vallarta is named as one of the friendliest Mexican towns.

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The roof top pool at the all adult Mousai is accompanied by another infinity pool half way down the mountain side, where again, food and beverage and the uninterrupted vast exotic ocean side horizon embracing the soul.  Down by the ocean is the sister accommodation of the Garza Blanca family friendly resort where again a pool with food and beverage service is accompanied by a modest white sand beach, complete with access to jet skis and kayaks.

Upon your greeting with a cool refreshing towel, and a cool beverage perhaps made of green tea and fruit, you are adorned with a ribbon bracelet which identifies you as an honored Hotel Mousai guest, and grants all-inclusive privilege throughout the compound. No tacky rubber or paper bracelet but a handmade braided ribbon, which is an example of the details that exist to accentuate a guest’s stay.

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You may be assigned your personal butler, acting more like a second concierge than a room assistant, to guide you during your stay and perhaps accompany you to your high rise, ocean view room.  Here be sure and detain your host to explain in detailed the plethora of digital light switches and other amenities. Here you will find your touch control switches to open and close two sets of panoramic curtains, the playing of a variety of music, in addition to several lighting configurations, including sedate illumination of onyx décor and a more conventional room temperature control.  Of course a traditional TV remote is a welcomed companion to the super wide screen, complete with CNN and a few English stations, mounted on a wood and mirrored wall.  The pristine maintenance of that wood and glass mosaic to the everyday accumulation of salt sea breezes and fingerprints is unimaginable. But such are the details you’ll witness.

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Besides your room’s dual shower and dual sinks atop massive onyx bases, a Jacuzzi may adorn your balcony view, where you may also enjoy room service dining or an addictive retreat to a large welcoming hammock. Submerged in your gentle Jacuzzi you may forget that this is another infinity designed pool.

The complex offers several all-inclusive restaurants. A favorite is the morning terraced breakfast option off the main lobby, which converts to Oriental dining later on and of course offers beverages. While during the off season of summer you may dine at, Hiroshi, Blanca Blue, BocaDos STK, Aquazul and the Terrace without reservations, and let your whim be your guide.  The attentive staff at this relatively new hotel have been hired for their friendliness and personal affinity for the guests, and maybe not so much for their previous hotel experience.  A forward thinking hotel management philosophy.

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The additional cost Spa is an over the top experience, offering several types of hydro therapy, a variety of creative massages (Ever had a Tequila wrap massage?), and salon complete with expert manicures and pedicures. Of course there is an upscale and extensive work out facility, with again that beautiful vista you come to expect.

With all of your resort needs filled at the complex, it may be hard to pull yourself away to take a tour of the town of Puerto Vallarta.  If you have never visited before you will find the everyday seaside resort a touch of old Mexico mixed with touristy venues, and some good dining experiences.  Your tour provided by the hotel may include a Tequila tasting with stops near the famous ocean side views of the movie location of Night of The Iguana, along with a brief stop at a quaint village called “Mouth of the Tomato.”

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An added convenience is the frequent hotel shuttle trolley to take you up and down the mountain side to your various venues, or a golf cart can also be arranged. This is a detail appreciated by seniors and all who what an ease of access. All in all Hotel Mousai is fit for an out of this world contemporary James Bond experience, and/or for you requiring the best in exotic resorts.  For more information and your reservations:  http://www.hotelmousai.com/ or Goggle Hotel Mousai.

 

Photography by Yuri Krasov

The more I travel around the globe the more I appreciate home. Granted, my home is San Francisco – the legendary American city of sophistication, elegance, and intellectualism as well as artistic spirit, inclusiveness, and openness to everything new and exciting.

I like to play tourist in San Francisco – visit its gorgeous hotels, eat in its posh restaurants, marvel at its museums and historic theaters, walk along the sights of unparalleled natural beauty. Swept with Pacific winds, steeped in summer fog, or baking in the hot autumn sun this city is endlessly magical, eternally majestic.

As a frequent traveler, I also appreciate all the little things that are readily available for the tourists (and for the locals) within the hospitality industry of San Francisco. The downtown Palace Hotel – one of the most magnificent hotels in the world – recently implemented a daily tea service in its spacious Garden Court restaurant, lavishly decorated with Italian marble columns, Austrian crystal chandeliers, and potted palms under the enormous Edwardian-style glass dome.

For a weary business or leisure traveler, just arriving from a long journey, what can be better than a pot of hot fragrant tea, beautifully served in the most welcoming space, alongside the light and elegant meal of freshly made finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries?

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How I wish I could have THAT in so many hotels in so many cities of the world, where the only thing I could count on without venturing out was a full bar (as if I needed alcohol after all those dehydrating hours in the air) and deep fried bar food, heavy and greasy, and not helping at all!

But let me start from the very beginning. The daily tea service was inaugurated at the Palace Hotel in the glamorous year 1910. The corridors of the Garden Court were crowded with guests in opulent dresses and hats of the Belle Époque. Since then it became a staple of the hotel, and over the years, the iconic dining room has become part of San Francisco history, and afternoon tea – part of its many traditions. Shared stories of fond childhood memories, bridal and baby showers and engagement celebrations have helped make a tea at the Palace a truly magical experience. For 105 years, the tradition has continued, but for the past few decades, tea has been served only on Saturdays and over the holidays. Today, this Saturday Signature Tea experience continues, while the Palace has added a more contemporary daily service in the GC Lounge (in the front area of the Garden Court). Specifically designed with the modern traveler in mind, Tea Time with its restorative attributes can now be enjoyed every day.

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Saturday Signature Tea

Signature Tea is served exclusively on Saturdays from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., and is one of a kind experience. Service is upscale, and fine china and silver are used to present delicate tea sandwiches and house-made scones with Devonshire cream, lemon curd and fruit jam. The sandwich assortment might include Sonoma breast of chicken with toasted almonds on brioche bun; roulade of salmon with chive crème and salmon roe on dark rye bread; asparagus and egg salad with Dijon parsley aioli on mini-croissant; lobster and shrimp on buttermilk toast, and Black Forest ham and artisan cheese with lavender mustard aioli on focaccia.

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Assorted pastries are served on a three-tier tray, and are always abundant and breathtakingly delicious. A variety of teas – black, green, white, oolong, herbal – from the most reputable tea distributors in the world includes classic blends and creative infusions with high, medium and low caffeine. Signature Tea is always enhanced by the decadent ambiance with large bouquets of freshly cut flowers and live harp or piano music. Reservations preferred.

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Tea Time

Tea Time is served Sunday through Friday from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. It is offered in the GC Lounge. Tea Time restores an experience more than a century old, now re-imagined for today’s savvy, cosmopolitan traveler. Service is refined but a little less formal. An a la carte menu showcasing locally sourced items allows visitors to enjoy the time-honored tradition with a casual approach. Tea Time menu options might include warm crab and Asiago cheese tart, organic egg remoulade sandwich, panini toasts with artisan meats and cheeses, and smoked salmon roulade. On a sweet menu there are raspberry tart, sweet and salty walnut short bread, dark chocolate torte, strawberry and almond milk gelee, and house-made scones with all the trimmings. What a great way to relax and reinvigorate, have a break from sightseeing and shopping, a friendly meeting, or a brief business discussion. Tea Time in the GC Lounge is perfect to relax after a long flight, or recap the day’s adventures and plan for the night ahead. Reservations are not required.

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The Palace Hotel offers 556 newly renovated rooms, three ballrooms, 45,000 square feet of function space with 23 meeting rooms and 4 executive boardrooms, a self-contained conference area and full service business center. Luxury features include three famed restaurants – The Garden Court, GC Lounge and Pied Piper, 24-hour in room dining, and a newly renovated Fitness Center and indoor pool. Centrally located, the Palace is steps away from the Financial District and Moscone Center, and within walking distance from designer boutiques, shopping areas, cable cars, the Embarcadero, Ferry Building Marketplace, Chinatown, AT&T Park, museums and theaters.

For tea reservations visit opentable.com or call 415-546-5089. Menus and more information are available at sfpalace.com.

 

Photography by Emma Krasov There are vacation travelers who think that long international flights are only justified by prolonged stays at their travel destinations. They even came up with a formula, “for every hour in the air a day on the ground.” Say, you fly to Munich for 12 hours, so you plan a 12-day leisurely vacation in the city for walking around and exploring. I love leisurely vacations as much as the next girl, but by the nature of my job I have no such luxuries. My travel formula is a crude one, “for every hour in the air two hours on the ground.” Three, if I’m lucky. That’s why I’m a big fan of Hop-on Hop-off buses available in all the big cities. The large comfortable double-deckers take visitors through the city streets to all the major attractions and stop right by the doors of palaces and museums. 3. Rathaus Staying in Munich for only one full day I knew exactly what to do to make my short visit memorable. Neat and clean, and equipped with a substantial breakfast, TRYP München City Center hotel provided exactly that – proximity to the city center as well as to the main train station Hauptbahnhof from where my Gray Line Sightseeing bus took me on a Grand Circle Tour of the city. Just riding through the streets of the Bavarian capital is a great excursion on its own. Munich’s architecture is a mosaic of styles and time periods, with Gothic and Baroque buildings framed by the glass-and-cement cubes of contemporary design. An imposing Neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) with a famous animated clock and 43 chiming bells on the central square Marienplatz is only steps away from the double-domed Frauenkirche which became the symbol of the city. In front of the town hall there’s Mariensäule – a 1638 column commemorating the end of the Thirty Years’ War and Swedish occupation. 7. Marienplatz A cluster of sights is conveniently located in and around the city center – the 15th century Old Town Hall, several historic theaters and art museums, an awe-inspiring 1746 Asamkirche – a genius creation of two brothers – an architect and a sculptor – and of course, a number of Bavarian-cuisine restaurants, like Cafe am Marienplatz, serving local brews and white veal sausages invented here in 1857. Asam detail My stop of choice in a sight-saturated city was Residenz Palace – the largest city palace in Germany and a former winter residence of the rulers of Bavaria in the course of 400 years. The House of Wittelsbach started its rule back in 1180, and continued until 1918. The enormous architectural complex called Residenz has 130 rooms and 10 courtyards, and combines Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Neo-Classic styles in its lavishly decorated and well-preserved facilities. Tall wooden double doors, guarded by the two bronze lions lead into the unimaginably rich collection of historical artifacts gathered inside the whimsically appointed ballrooms and bedrooms. The very first 1586 Grotto room with a multi-figured fountain in the middle is made entirely of sea shells and crystals with a gilded statue of Perseus at the top – its elaborate design inspired by the Italian Renaissance gardens. 4. Residenz The opulent 1571 Antiquarium (The Hall of Antiquities) contains an array of antique statues positioned under the densely frescoed arched ceiling. 8. Renaissance Hall The 1616 Imperial Hall with exquisite pink marble floors, tapestries and crystal chandeliers is followed by the endless rows of rooms encased in silk wall panels and adorned with gilded pilasters and countless paintings and statuettes. 8a. Imperial Hall Hours later, upon reaching the end of the display I could hardly walk, and my camera was shaking in my unsteady hands. Primarily, I had an ambitious plan to use a few Hop-on Hop-off stops to visit several sights, but by the time the Residenz palace was closing I barely managed to hop on the last scheduled bus. 9. Red room I was hungry, thirsty, and tired, but oh so happy to accomplish quite a feat in sightseeing in one full day in Munich! I got a fast relief from thirst and hunger at the oldest city restaurant/brewery Augustiner Großgaststätten. This historic eatery still serves beer invented in 1294 by the local monks, which pairs splendidly with the many traditional dishes on the menu, like beer-marinated pork with crackling skin. 11. Chapel I knew that my body will soon forget its tiredness, but my eyes will always remember the amazing and inspiring sights (also stored in photographs I took on this trip). Additional information at: www.muenchen.de.

We drove to Pebble Beach 17 Mile Drive, which is a MUST for anyone in Monterey County. It is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. If you are on a bicycle or walking along the seaside sports path it is free, or if you drive through in your car it is $10 but worth it. We drove along beside the world famous golf course on one side and the mighty Pacific on the other side. The homes on the far edge of Pebble Beach Golf Course are enormous and each is quite unique. The people along the way are so friendly, and there are many turn-outs for parking to take photos, or go for a hike on the path, or down to the ocean.

2    pebble beach golf course

The rocky shore attracts all kinds of sea life and myriads of birds. There are cliffs for photo ops, of which Lone Cypress is the most famous with its single tree surviving the winds and storms and rough seas alone for over a century. There are several hotels and restaurants along the drive and, Yes, even if you are not a member of the Golf Club or staying at a hotel you CAN pay to play golf at one of these golf courses, IF you can afford the exorbitant fee!   In this drought year some of the course is allowed to go natural and is brown already in May. At the time of this article California is in one of its worst dry periods in history.

We continued South down the coast on Highway 1 to enjoy BIG SUR. We had started out early because it was a holiday weekend and we knew the traffic on this beautiful drive will be tight. Bill wisely (with a little objection from me) skirted all the viewing points and Los Lobos Point because the Memorial Day crowds were huge and parking nil. He said it would be more open on our return Northward since everyone is stopping in the morning.

3   Pfeiffer Park

We stopped for lunch and a view at the little village shops at the entrance to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, where we saw some beautiful giant Redwood trees. At Riverside Hotel we debated eating lunch at the crowded restaurant where the food looked delicious, but we decided to enjoy our picnic by the river instead. We watched hotel guests who were sitting in Adirondack chairs in about 6 inches of water, and children gleefully splashed over large pebbles in the cold creek. We walked the Pfeiffer Forest Trail inhaling the Christmas-like scent of some huge redwoods high above us.

4   giant Redwoods

We have driven the entire coast along Highway 1 several times, once in our RV which was a terrifying mistake! The entire 85 miles of dramatic scenery along the high cliffs and rugged coast of Big Sur makes everyone want to stop a thousand times to take pictures, or hike, or enjoy the wildflowers. Monterey County has what we consider the most impressive part of the drive, so we did not venture below Pfeiffer on this trip. We started the return route northward and the viewpoints were easily accessible because the mid-afternoon traffic had thinned and ample parking was available, but we were across the highway from the photo spots. We wanted to see more Redwoods and were directed to Palo Colorado Road, 15 miles north of Pfeiffer State Park Entrance. We had expected much thicker forest and taller trees like in Northern California, but these were beautiful. The narrow road went past many little cabins like fairy tale habitats and some larger homes, where people can truly get away from civilization.

If you can possibly find a parking place (which may require a half mile hike) Point Lobos State Reserve at the northern end of Big Sur just south of Carmel is a must-see stop. There are many trails and great hiking in the area, so check the Internet or seek guide service and maps in Carmel. This is the very best way to get spectacular photos. Look for the very rare Monterey Cyprus trees which grow only on the north shore of Carmel Bay.

At Point Lobos you’ll find the Whale Museum in a historic whaler’s cabin fascinating. This area is both a Marine Reserve and a Marine Conservation area, and many people come here to SCUBA dive. Whale watching along the shore and the cliffs above is usually successful at most times of the year. Look for grays, blues, and humpbacks. We were fortunate to see them all! Many species of wildlife abound here and you will probably see thousands of harbor seals lolling in the sun, cormorants and gulls nesting on the rocky cliffs. This is the place to see Pacific animals and birds in great numbers. We loved seeing the fierce sea lions and adorable see otters and several whales.

5     Big Sur

At the end of our day of beautiful scenery and exploration we drove into the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, where upscale shops, restaurants, entertainment, hotels abound. On this holiday weekend the town was very crowded. The pretty little park in town center was ready for a big Memorial Day service the following day. We enjoyed perusing the elegant shops and art galleries and stopped at the irresistible bakery Café Carmel to have a coffee and a sinful pastry. This shop was so crowded we waited in line to order about a half hour, but it was worth it. The creations are as delicious as they are pretty (which is often not true in a bakery.)

6   Carmel Bakery

Is there a more beautiful place in all of the United States than Monterey County? And such contrasts between the wealth of resort communities and the vast agricultural centers, which provide much of the fruit and vegetables for the country! You could spend a week or a lifetime here and never tire of new things to see and do.

Photography by Emma Krasov

There are dozens of cities and little towns along the so-called Deutsche Fachwerkstraße (German Timber-Frame Road) – a tourist route showcasing the traditional historical architecture developed in the 13th-19th centuries.

The Baden-Württemberg part of the Road is especially picturesque with thousands of timber-framed structures in stunning landscapes of rocks, gorges, and forests. With their characteristic wood-skeleton bases and curtain walls made of brick or clay, these houses vary in size, construction style, and the use of decorative elements, but invariably emit romantic charm and evoke the images of European fairy tales.

The regional timber-frame route in Southern Germany that stretches from river Neckar to Lake Constance is covered with fertile farmlands, vast forests, and green mountainous valleys studded with Alemannic and Franconian style buildings.

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Bietigheim-Bissingen at the confluence of the rivers Enz and Metter, unites two little towns in one. Surrounded by vineyard-covered hills of the Neckar Valley, the double town is steeped in more than 12 centuries of history, with Middle Ages and Renaissance buildings, often enlivened by ivies and climbing roses, abundant in the city center.

Besides the handsome half-timber city hall built in 1507, with asymmetrical tower, the round mayor’s balcony, and the external baroque stairway, Bietigheim-Bissingen has a 1536 family home, now Municipal Museum, Hornmoldhaus – a massive timber-frame building with thoroughly preserved period paintings decorating the inside walls and ceiling.

Contemporary art pieces adorn the streets and squares of the clean, well-kempt town. Here, in the middle of Kronenplatz I meet Ku(h)riosum – a wild-eyed Kuh (cow) created by sculptor Jürgen Goertz.

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On a side street I see a group of corpulent town gossipers Schwätzweiber by Karl-Henning Seemann.

On the façade of Villa Visconti there are many familiar faces – Mother Teresa, Columbus, Charlie Chaplin, and Stephen Hawkins. In front of the red brick façade is a sculpted portrait of Le Corbusier.

9. IMG_0524 copy Besigheim

In Besigheim – reportedly the most beautiful wine village in Germany, known for the local red wine trollinger, I have a gastronomical encounter of the most delicious kind. At a Swabian cuisine restaurant Ratsstüble I try maultaschen – delectable dough pillows stuffed with mixed meats, onion, and spinach. Their invention is attributed to the medieval monks of the Maulbronn monastery nearby. Presumably, on days of abstinence the monks were trying to conceal the meat inside the dough to hide it from the all-seeing eye.

11. IMG_0559 copySchorndorf

Schorndorf is called die Daimlerstadt (the city of Daimler). Gottlieb Daimler – the legendary inventor of the small high-speed internal combustion engine that gave start to the automotive industry – was born in 1834 in a timber-frame house on Höllgasse 7, where there’s now a museum dedicated to his family history and his engineering genius.

In Schorndorf, all tourist groups necessarily stop by a tiny crooked timber-frame house that dates back to 1730. The House on the Wall is literally tied to the ancient city wall built in 1265. While the city was growing and expanding, the new wall was built along its outer limits, and the old one was used by the industrious citizens to serve as a backbone for their newly built homes.

13. IMG_0605 copyEsslingen

Esslingen am Neckar has a recorded history since year 777, and the entire street of the oldest in the country timber-frame houses. One of them was built in 1261. More than 200 timber houses from the 13th to 16th centuries are crowded in the old city center around the majestic red-walled Renaissance Old Town Hall with the original astronomical clock.

One of the largest in Southwest Germany, the gothic Church of St. Dionysius, which is also a museum, still dominates the Market Square today. Its highlight – enormous awe-inspiring masterfully crafted stained glass windows.

In Esslingen I meet a tightrope walker – a contemporary sculpture visible above the city skyline. It’s called Arrival and symbolizes the medieval town’s tradition of newcomers supporting themselves for a year before being considered the citizens of Esslingen.

In 1486 the town council declared that the trade of Esslingen was based entirely on wine. Sekt-Kellerei Kessler, Germany’s oldest sparkling wine producer is located in a 1000-year-old former monastery building. Georg Christian Kessler, who founded his cellars in 1826, has learnt méthode champenoise from the widow Clicquot herself, whom he met while visiting Reims, France. Among other things, he learned from Veuve Clicquot the exact size of a champagne bottle – allegedly established by Napoleon who considered it a perfect size for a man.

Weinkeller Einhorn restaurant in one of the winding cobblestone streets of Esslingen serves Swabian specialties, accompanied by Pilz beer in ceramic steins.

1. IMG_0795 copyBlaubeuren

An incredibly blue body of water in Blaubeuren is called Blautopf (blue pot). It has a peculiar shade of blue that mostly closely resembles a color of blue eyes – just like Schöne Lau (beautiful water nymph) would have… She comes from a 19th century fairy tale written by Eduard Mörike who used to visit Blaubeuren (blue village), and was very impressed with the blueness of Blautopf. His heroine with flowing black hair, big blue eyes, and webbed fingers and toes, lived at the bottom of the pond, until one day she ventured outside to meet the locals and make friends with human women.

Blautopf is very deep (69 ft), funnel-shaped, and formed by an underground spring, coming from a giant limestone cave underneath Blaubeuren. Unsurprisingly called Blauhöhle (blue cave) it’s been discovered only recently; it’s extremely dangerous, and open strictly to the professional speleologists and divers.

On the banks of the Blautopf there’s a circular trail meandering through the leafy forest with limestone rocks sticking from the ground. It leads to a quaint old mill, reflected in the mirror surface of the pond, and a former Benedictine monastery founded in 1085.

Digging dipper into the area’s past, the Prehistoric Museum of Blaubeuren displays a small mammoth ivory figurine – the oldest ever found representation of a woman, approximately 42 000 years old, called the Venus from Hohle Fels (Hollow Rock Cave).

The medieval town center of Blauberen is one of the best preserved in Germany, with a 1425 timber frame Town Hall, a mill quarter by the river Blau, and hospitable little inns and shops lining the narrow cobblestone streets.

At a tiny local distillery, Brennerei Rößle, I meet a husband-and-wife team, Elke and Daniel Rößle who produce delicious schnapps and liqueurs made with the old regional species of apple, pear, plum, peach, and berries from 80-year-old orchards.

At the Ochsen Hotel restaurant, I enjoy a seasonal plate of white asparagus generously supplemented with sourbraten in mushroom gravy and new potatoes. Everything is more delicious with German beer!

18a. Margret biberach

Biberach an der Riß is a medieval settlement of weavers, tanners, and other craftsmen who lived in half-timbered houses lining the hilly streets. Here I meet “Margret,” the “wife of a master weaver.” Dressed in a period costume, she leads a walking tour of the restored neighborhood of Weberberg, where at the beginning of the 16th century there were at least 400 active looms.

St. Martin’s Church, built in 1337, one of the oldest in Germany, is called “simultaneous.” Originally Catholic, it was turned Protestant after the Reformation, but has been used by both denominations since 1548.

Like so many towns along the Road, Biberach has a burgeoning restaurant scene. Conditorei Café Confiserie Kolesch offers an enormous menu of cakes and confections, among them – chocolate cockroaches and other sweet bugs.

20. IMG_0847 copyPfullendorf robber

In Pfullendorf, located between Danube and Lake Constance, I meet a “town robber” dressed in colorful rags. He starts his walking tour of the town by the Upper Town Gate Oberes Tor, and introduces all the landmarks – Church of St. Jakobus built in 1481, Altes Haus, built in 1317, Steinscheuer – a stone barn from 1515 (a great illustration to the old German saying “stone-rich” referring to those who could afford it) and Rathaus, built in 1524. A stop at Restaurant Felsenkeller is a must. Among the signature dishes are seasonal asparagus soup and a whole ham baked inside a loaf of bread.

24. IMG_0999 copyMeersburg

Meersburg is a gorgeous lakeside town overlooking Bodensee (Lake Constance). Panoramic views of the sea-like lake and its vineyard-covered banks open from the old park that surrounds the baroque Schloss Meersburg.

Tourists flock to the town to engage in sailing and picnicking, or to take part in a wine-tasting session with a certified sommelier Karin Streng at the Staatsweingut Meersburg, and have a farm-to-table dinner at the neighboring Restaurant Gutsschänke.

The city center is a quintessential Timber-Frame Road town, with a cluster of historical buildings from all time periods. I’m here on a Saturday, and so I meet a wedding procession walking from an uphill church with festively tolling bells down Kirchstraße.

More information at: www.germany.travel.

Photography by Emma Krasov

 

1. O'Connell monument

Dublin

A poet of the Silver Age of Russian Poetry once referred to “the oceanic Ireland” as a country of profound lyrical influence, asking, “Why her foggy ripples are entwined into the clarity of my day? Why the sharp edges of her cliffs cut into my melancholy? How can I remember her black and scarlet dusks in sea foam and seagulls’ moans?”

The poet haven’t ever seen Ireland, but I have! All was true – the poignant oceanic beauty, the dizzyingly sharp cliffs, the black and scarlet dusks of the country’s history, laden with tragedy, and yet never yielding its glory, its quest for freedom, its poetic destiny.

In Dublin, the city of literary geniuses, first of all I visit the American College building on Merrion Square – a childhood home of Oscar Wilde, the king of paradoxes. Entering the United States with a course of lectures in 1882, he famously told the New York Customs officer, “I have nothing to declare, except my genius.”

2. Dublin Castle

I spend countless hours exploring the city on foot, walking along the banks of high-watered Liffey, and crossing its many bridges on a whim. At least three of them are named after Dublin’s writers of international fame – James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Sean O’Casey.

I cross O’Connell Bridge, built in 1880, and pay my respect to Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847) – the Liberator of Ireland, the national hero, and a strong advocate for human rights and non-violent political struggle. His monument in the city center bears the tragic traces of Ireland’s long road to independence that was finally achieved in 1922 as a result of Anglo-Irish and civil wars. Cast iron angels and allegories that surround the statue of O’Connell are pierced with bullets from the 1916 Easter Rising – the beginning of the Irish War of Independence. I stop at the National Museum of Ireland to see the text of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, and – the many artifacts from the Emerald Isle’s rich history – from bog bodies to Celts gold, to Viking blacksmithing, to the weapons from Brian Boru’s 1014 Battle for Dublin.

5. Yates exhibition

Next door, at the National Library of Ireland I immerse myself in “The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats,” and then hurry to the Trinity College to marvel at the Book of Kells, and to inhale the intoxicating air of the Old Library, ever so slightly saturated with book dust, the air previously breathed by Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Samuel Beckett – all the former students of the college!

3. Trinity Library

Then, traveling on Hop-On Hop-Off Dublin Bus, I visit Dublin Writers Museum, the Chester Beatty Library at the Dublin Castle with its overwhelming collection of manuscripts and early printed books, and the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, where I observe the modest grave of the author of “Gulliver’s Travels,” who was also Dean of the Cathedral from 1713 to 1745.

4. Jonathan Swift

For a sweet farewell to the city so remarkably reverent toward literature I embark on an evening Dublin Literary Pub Crawl – a very special attraction, never to be missed while in Dublin. An experienced tour guide, actor, literary expert, and entertainer Colm Quilligan and his actor assistant lead a group of guests on a wild excursion into historic pubs frequented by the world-famous Irish writers who liked to spend time in these select establishments with a pint or two of Guinness. The tour starts at The Duke Pub, and continues along the most important city landmarks (like Trinity College) and the most exciting city pubs for a couple of hours, ending at Davy Byrne’s adorned with Belle Époque murals, mirrors, and light fixtures.

6. Pub Crowl

Wild Atlantic Way

14. View from Cliffs

Despite the enormity of its historical, geological, and geographical events, Ireland is a small country. A road trip from Dublin to Doolin on the west coast of the island takes a little more than three hours – along the smooth newly updated motorways, past the emerald fields bordered by the “lace” stone walls. Sheep and cows – the sources of renowned Irish wool and dairy – graze all year round, since the temperatures never go below freezing, keeping the pastures green.

Doolin is a tiny fishing village on the northwest of County Clare – a traditional music capital of Ireland and a gateway to Aran Islands where Arctic and Alpine plants grow between the ancient rocks. The area of fertile grasslands is fed by underground rivers running over limestone plateaus. At the local tourist attraction, Doolin Cave, there is the longest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere – a stunning 24-feet underground wonder. The Cave owners are a family of farmers, and their fluffy goats pasture on the slanted roof of the Cave entrance, covered with green grass and yellow dandelions.

Fine Doolin eateries – Chervil at Hotel Doolin, and Cullinan’s Seafood Restaurant – serve local North Clare beef and Kilshanny lamb, and fresh Atlantic seafood from a morning boat.

In the neighboring town of Lisdoonvarna a small family business, Burren Smokehouse, implements traditional artisan methods to produce incredibly delicious hot and cold smoked salmon. The Burren Smoked Irish Salmon ships worldwide, and as far as the White House.

13. Lace walls

In the morning, our group of international travelers takes Doolin ferry to Inis Mór – the largest of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay. Martin McDonagh’s “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” that I’ve seen on stage in Berkeley, California, all of a sudden acquires a solid ground. Inis Mór (meaning “Big Island”) is a place of strong Irish culture, where people speak Irish as their first language, and where several national monuments are located, among them Dún Aengus – a Bronze Age hill fort surrounded by flowering gorse shrubbery on the highest point of a sheer cliff, and “The Seven Churches” – a site of 10th century masonry.

3. Inishmore

At the hospitable Tí Joe Watty’s we sit outside for lunch, eating delectable crab claws with butter and lemon. A big white cat is lounging nearby allowing strangers to pet him. “This is Odie, he’s very old,” says the hostess. “My children used to play with him, and they are now in their thirtieth.”

Oh well, I guess, anything is possible on Inis Mór.

7. Cliffs of Moher

Out of a hundred Geoparks in the world that include the Islands of Hong Kong, the volcano of Katla, Iceland, and the petrified forest of Lesvos, Greece, The Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark stands out as a place of inspirational beauty. A member of the Global Geoparks Network, supported by UNESCO, it’s managed by Clare County Council with dedication to responsible tourism, learning, and education.

The Cliffs of Moher, formed about 320 million years ago, is Ireland’s most visited natural attraction complete with easy hiking trails and stunning vistas, and teeming with wildlife. Peregrine falcons, puffins, kittiwakes, razorbills and fulmars nest on the ledges of the cliffs, while dolphins, seals, and even humpback whales can be spotted in the blue waters underneath. Our 10-kilometer walk atop the cliffs grants one breathtaking view after another – from green meadows covered with a rainbow of wild flowers to dramatic rock formations along the ocean edge.

2. Music Makers

Traditional Irish Guinness at Gus O’Connor’s Pub, and later an impromptu concert of traditional Irish music, presented by the students of The Music Makers of West Clare in Miltown Malbay, fully restore our high spirits.

4. Barrtra Seafood

That night, we dine in Lahinch, at Barrtra Seafood Restaurant, where Theresa and Paul O’Brien serve platefuls of Atlantic lobsters, oysters, and mussels, and various preparations of freshly-caught fish.

10. Scattery Island

Next morning, in the drizzling rain we depart Kilrush for Scattery Island – a site of a monastic settlement founded in the early 6th century by the locally born St. Senan. The monastery was attacked by Vikings several times in the 9th – 10th century, but then recaptured by Brian Boru. The ruins of six stone churches, a 120-feet high round tower, and old cemeteries look especially picturesque and mysterious under the cloudy sky.

11. Loop Head Peninsula

The Loop Head is another natural attraction of the area – a long and narrow peninsula with a lighthouse at its tip – the furthest point west on the Clare coastline. It’s a wild, wind-swept place with endless rock formations and naturally carved by wind and water stone “bridges.” The Loop Head Peninsula is also home to a thriving community of artists. Kilbaha Gallery & Crafts presents their wares, and has a little café operated by Liz Greeny and Ailish Connolly.

In Kilrush, we lunch at Crotty’s – a traditional Irish pub, founded by a prominent musician – concertina player Elizabeth Crotty and her husband, Miko. Back in 1914, the pub was divided into separate areas – the kitchen, the store, the tap rooms, and the “snug” – a hidden place for ladies to enjoy their drinks out of the public eye. The current owners, Kevin Clancy and Rebecca Brew serve hearty portions of pub fare with prevalence of fresh seafood.

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Away from the coast, and off Wild Atlantic Way there is a city of Limerick, whose name became famous in time of medieval poetry contests. King John’s Castle, built in 1212, holds a vast exposition dedicated to the history of Ireland. St. Mary’s Cathedral dates from 1168, and Hunt Museum boasts a comprehensive collection of archeological finds and artifacts. Today, the city is vibrant and full of life, with the abundant Milk Market and a bustling Limerick Craft Hub, where more than 40 artisans work in textiles, ceramics, and jewelry under their motto, Handmade in Limerick.

More information at: www.ireland.com.