Trip to Brazil with friends

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Curry seafood salad

This salad was a good way to use al the crab we use to catch while boating with friends in the water around the north west.

3/4 cup of fresh cooked crab meat

3/4 cup of shrimp.  I wi

 

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A few days in Italy spending time with friends

Carl and I flew into Milan and then took the speed train to Florence. Just a note, if you want to do this plan ahead. You will need to get to the main train station in downtown Milan to catch the train. Allow at least 1 1/2 hours. We took the shuttle bus for $8 each instead of 120 euro taxi. The bus is fast and very clean.

We arrived in Florence, walked a couple of blocks and picked up our rental car. Our friends live close to the beautiful resort, Costello di Casole in the Siena region about 90 minute drive from Florence. Since we were staying with friends our days were planned around where our next lunch was. We fixed dinner at home and talked about what the next day would be. 

On the first afternoon we drove to the village of Volterra for a great lunch at Borge Pignano, villapigano@ borgopigano.com, if you are any where close this hotel and restaurant is a must. The grounds/ gardens and amazing pool carved into the rock is a perfect hideaway.  Manager Angelo Pais is there to take care of every detail and the chef created an amazing lunch.

The next day we drove to Siena, wandered through the streets and after a visit to the Duomo, a must if you are in town. Then we had lunch at a charming 75 year old restaurant “Osterisa Le Logge, Via del Porrione 33” just off the main square.  The food was the old style of local dishes, all perfectly prepared and served. 

After these great 3 hour lunches our simple low key dinners on the outside deck watching the sunsets was the perfect way to end the day. Ready for the next day adventure to explore a new village and share another lovely lunch. We drove to the village of “Colle de Val d’ Elsa. Our lunch at IL Frantoio was clean simple Italian fare. This is the village that you will find the famous Lotti terra-cotta cookware lottiterracotte1926@gmail.com. This village is also the place you will find the famous stared restaurant a”Adalfo”. 

The last night we had dinner in Castillo di Casole, they have a menu with many American favorites in the bar with an Italian flair. The next morning we headed north, the area of Parma is where we have long time friends that welcomed us for a short 3 days of food, conversation and exploring new restaurants in the region. After dinner at home and a good nights sleep we headed to the town of Cremona. We visited the Museum of Violins, lunch at a The Tavern La Botte just down the street was a nice local restaurant with lovely home made pasta and soup. After wandering through the town of Fidenza where our friends live and a couple hours of rest we drove to the town of Busseto to a great fish restaurant “L’ Araba Fenice”. If you are in the area this is an excellent choice for dinner, no fancy decor but excellent food. 

A great experience the next day was the opportunity to visit a “Labyrinth  in the village of Fontanellato. This experience was something we don’t get to try figuring out how to navigate the hidden paths,in the U.S. something like this is known to most of us as a maze. Libirinto@francomariaricci.com, is created as a huge maze of paths winding through tall stands of bamboo. When you make your way to the end, if you get lost the have a help number posted in several places, you can enter the museum of the art collected owned and created by Franco Rocci.  You can enjoy lunch at the Labyrinth, but we suggest going to La Forcheta Ala in Fontanellato. Chef owner Chiuso Matedi is there to greet you and promises to bring you the best frito misto and Pizza in Italy. With great memories and a fond farewell to our week in Italy we headed back to the airport in Milan.

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Trip to India with Path, global health leader

In the past year I have had the opportunity to travel to many amazing places with friends and family in celebration of tuning 70. I decided I needed a shot of reality so when the opportunity arose to travel to India with a global health group called Path. This trip to India was to see a country that has many needs in global health, the people on the ground and the clinics that are making a difference. On October 27th I arrived a couple days early to explore Delhi before the Path team arrived on Sunday evening October 29.

PATH IS A LEADING INNOVATOR IN GLOBAL HEALTH to learn about what a difference they are making around the world go To WWW.PATH.ORG. Path is working with doctors and clinics in 20 different countries to eradicate TB, Malaria, HIV plus working with innovations to develop better ways help people and countries dealing with water, feeding and sanitation issues in 3rd world countries. I had a couple of days to prepare for the eye opening week ahead.

When we arrived in New Delhi we checked into ITC Maurya Hotel, a diplomatic hotel. Not an area for walking around,  but nice place to stay. Next morning I went to the spice market and got my pepper and a few other things. If you are there visit “MEHAR CHAND AND SONS, The golden horse –6535 Khari Baoli

A visit to Gandhi’s memorial tomb was interesting.  I had a good driver — Hem Raj number 91-9918278127 he stayed with me for 3 hours took me to visit many sites, including while I wandered through the National Museum and the Gallery of Modern art of India. Hem speaks good English and drove through terrible traffic all for 30 dollars. The next day a couple of the Path team had arrived and wanted to join me in exploring. Hem came back and drove us to K and K jewelers–G 23 South Extension on the ring road.  Through the years I have bought nice things at K & K and always feel like they give you a good price for quality jewelry pieces. The next stop was ” Delhi Haat Cottage Emporium” 51 Panch Kuian Road. This is a good place to see scarves, clothes, table linens all made in India and every quality. The prices are flexible depending on how well you negotiated. We headed back to the hotel for a good massage and dinner. The air was so poor in Delhi that we did not want to stay out and explore much longer. There was always tomorrow.

Sunday was the last day on our own to venture out so Hem picked us up and drove us to the India Gate, the area where the parliament buildings are located then back to the hotel for dinner with the team at a great restaurant Dum Pakht on the lower level of the hotel. “Dum Pakht” is very top Indian cuisine and served with all the right dishes in each course.

The journey began early at the Local Path Offices meeting those responsible for working with the clinics and doctors to ensure the patients being treated for different levels of illness are given the proper drugs and getting screened for not just TB, but other possible diseases. Path has been able to offer a safe place for women to receive proper screening for many health issues and then providing resources for them to receive treatment that they can afford.

Our next stop was to visit the Impact Lab on the IIT campus. This lab will provide a space for creative interactions with professors and students working on the next products developed to solve world wide health issues like their water sanitation project.

Lunch was at a fun outdoor restaurant called Lodi Gardens restaurant on Lodi road. This was not how we were served but a couple enjoying a fun seating option in the garden.

After lunch we had a few hours to visit the market again for those that wanted to do a little more shopping.

I believe that every trip is made better when the person introducing you to a new country enjoy their job and their country. In our case we had one of the best guides you could ever ask for. ROHIT GEHLOT went above and beyond everyday, Gehlot.robit@gmail.com. Phone +919829041006 book him in advance he is very busy. His company, Raconteur out of NY can also help with the booking.

Rohit was with us through out the trip and made sure we were safe, had plenty of water and always got the best attention from any restaurant, shopping experience or entrance to any national monument through the fast lane.

We then had dinner in the market in a newly remodeled old private home now a small hotel and restaurant. Haveli is located in Chandni market, http://www.haveliharampura.com, good food and very interesting building.

Up early and took the train to Agra about 3 hours, clean and fast in reserved seats. Checked into the ITC Mughal Taj Ganj Hotel. Close to the Taj Mahal so an easy ride to the back gates for entry through the VIP lines. We were there for what was to be sunset but the smog was so bad you did not see the sunset but enjoyed the whole overwhelming site of the huge white building. Amazing in any sky. We had a nice dinner in the hotels restaurant, more Indian food but well prepared. Next day we headed back to Delhi and then a flight to Mumbai.

we arrived in Mumbai after an easy 2 hour flight and transferred to Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, across from the Gateway to India. The traffic was so bad it took almost and hour and half to make our way to the hotel. We walked to an interesting restaurant about 5 blocks away, “KHYBER” 145 MG Road wide selection of Indian dishes to share.

Next morning we headed to the Path Office in Dharavi. For the next couple of days we were introduced to the many project that Path is helping fund. Meeting the doctors and staff that make it possible for so many people living with TB, HIV and many other health issues to be seen and given medications to help save their lives and those in their family. Our visit to the slums that are serviced by the clinic and then on to the hospital and visit to the infant ICU and project mothers milk bank opened our eyes to the needs of the whole country. It was getting late so we had a crazy lunch at Cafe Mysore, serving South Indian snacks

. After such a busy day we decided to enjoy a beautiful Chinese dinner in the Taj hotel, Golden Dragon, amazing selection, including chili crabs.

The next morning we boarded buses for a drive over the mountains to the town of Pune, about a slow 4 hours. We had the privilege of meeting Doctor Dravidian at his clinic and several of his patients. The problems in this area are much different, dealing with more HIV because of all the prostitution issues with the truck drivers.

After lunch we had the opportunity to visit a vaccine Manufacturer, Serum Institute of India. It was amazing to tour through the halls of this huge company producing the serums for millions of vaccines distributed over the world. With the help of groups like The Gates Foundation and Path these vaccines are being produced for one fourth of similar drugs in other parts of the world. We spent the night at Vivanta, a Taj Blue Diamond hotel.

Next morning we headed back to Mumbai to prepare for our flight home. We stayed close to the airport at a great hotel, LEELA, thy have a lovely pool, good spa and several restaurants. Since the flights depart in the middle of the night I took a room to rest after a nice massage, glass of wine in the lobby bar and dinner upstairs in the Italian restaurant a couple hours nap and quick 5 minute trip back to the airport.

I feel so humble after spending time with the Path team seeing up close where the money we donate and grants from many national foundations is spent. If you are looking for a place to donate money as the year draws to a close I urge anyone to look into including Path in your giving. WWW.PATH.ORG

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November 25, 2017 · 10:18 pm

Trip to Montenegro viewed from the water

We charter boats in Turkey every other year with our group of friends we refer to ourselves as The Dudes. This year we had the charter broker bring the boat up to Montenegro with the thought that we would cruise the waters of Croatia. We flew into Dubrovnik and had a car pick us up to drive us to our hotel in village of Tivat, Montenegro where we picked up our boat. We spent the first night at The Regent Porto Montenegro, a beautiful new resort with a huge marina and shopping village. The hotel has several pools, spa and the waterfront has many fun restaurants to choose from. We had dinner next to the hotel at a good Lebenese restaurant, BYBLOS, everything we ordered was fresh and beautifully presented and not expensive. 

The next day we had some shopping in the local village and sat by the pool until we could get on our boat at 4pm.  

Once we got settled onboard our captain told us he was not given permits to go to Croatia so we would only cruise Montenegro. There are often things that are out of your control and we had to just go with the change of itinerary and enjoy the next adventure. 

The airline had lost our luggage on the flight over a few days before so we were already wearing the few things we found in Tivat at little shops. The water in this area is not as warm as past cruises and we expected a few big rain storms so we got our books out and poured our first glasses of wine. The crew was great and the chef did an amazing job. The first night we anchored out not far from  Tivat. The next day we cruised along the shore going south to a small bay and village of BIGOVA. We went to shore took a hike and got caught in a big thunderstorm.  When we returned to the boat the chef had prepared one of our many course meals of fresh vegetable salads, fish and homemade bread.The next morning we went south to BUDVA the most popular tourist town in Montenegro. We made lunch reservations at the AMAN resort at SVETI STEFAN. This resort is two separate properties one on the pink sand beach and one on the small island that they have totally redone. We are on the top of the island then took the grand tour so we all marked on our notes to come back and stay. We spent the night anchored in the bay and the next morning we to shore in BUDVA. The old walled city has been well preserved, but of course the narrow streets are full of tourist shops and little restaurants. The newer area outside the old city has long beaches full of people sunning themselves and the beaches are lined with restaurants. We went back to the boat after a few hours and had the best lunch in town served by out great staff. 

We cruised north again to the bay of Morintsley this area has a great amount of history from years of war and the high mountains coming down to the water makes for dramatic scenery. We spent most of the next day n the lovely village of KOTOR. Carl and I hiked to the top of Castel St. John Illyrian Fort, it was 11,685 steps according to our watch counter. When we got back into town we met the rest of the group at a wonderful waterfront restaurant Galion. Montenegro is famous for the mussels they raise in many mussel farms. We ordered them and they did not disappoint. A great day from start to finish. Later some of the group decided to try out the water sports and a swim, but the water was very cold. 

The next day we took a transfer to Dubrovnik for our flight out to Amsterdam for the night before we headed home. We stayed at the Sheraton Amsterdam airport hotel. It is connected to the airport so it is easy to board the flight in the morning. The hotel has a good restaurant, so if you get in late and do not want to go into the city it is a good choice. 

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First trip to Berlin and know we will return.

On September 12th we arrived for our first time in Berlin and all our expectations we met. We checked  into Hotel de Rome on the square looking out over the memorial created when thousands of books were burned. Now you can look down through a small glass window to a room filled with white empty book shelves to commemorate the event. The hotel is a great location for walking through what was East Berlin. The breakfast was beautifully presented each morning and the service was top notch.

The first day we wandered the area and got our barring. We had an early lunch at “Alpenstuech” known for their SCHNITZEL. The portions are very large so perfect to share. It was a short cab ride but worth the trip. Make reservations at info@alpnstueck.de. 

The next morning our guide Caroline, stummeline@web,de,  met us at the hotel for a walking tour. We headed to the area know as Museum Island and since it was a light morning rain it was a good time to see the museums, starting with the German history museum, the Pergamon museum, and a quick tour of the Egyptian museum. Then we started walking to understand the areas in the East and how the people lived during and after the war when the wall was built. We went toone of the many inside courtyards that have now tuned into shops and restaurants. Carl wears bow ties and we went to the famous shop called “Auebach” galleria and manufacturer, a dream shop for ties and crazy socks.

Lunch was at the KAUTINE a small lunch spot on the grounds of the Arcitecture school,  Joachimstrabe, excellent soup and small salads.  From there we wandered through the amazing Berlin Cathedral before returning to the hotel, my app said we covered 4.7 miles.. That night we had a dinner to remember at an amazing restaurant,  PAULY SAAL. +49 30 3300 6070. 

Pictured above a couple of the dishes served, it is a prix fix menu, but the choices are many and not that large. The pea shells were a gift from the kitchen filled with small sweetbreads next to a mini croutons.  Be sure to make reservations and enjoy every bite.

The next day Caroline organized a car and driver so we could get a better idea of the difference of the East and West areas of Berlin. We cruised past and around the Bromdenburg Gate, Check Point Charlie and the Jewish Holocaust Memorial which is a full block of granite blocks etched with names of those who lost their lives. There is a section of the wall still standing along the river so you can walk along and feel how it must have been for the people of Berlin. There is so much history you really need more than just a couple of days.

Standing in front of the piece of the wall still topped with barb wire, and the new apartment building behind.

Our last night in town and we had dinner at Le Petit Royal, owned by the same guy as Pauly Saal. Very nice simple menu, casual dining at its best. We really wanted to go to Bandol sur Mer, but not enough nights, next time. 

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A few days in France, before our barge trip and Lyon after

We arrived in Paris a few days before boarding the barge, Nenuphar. Since we only had a couple of days we needed to walk fast. We checked into the Hotel Regina, 2 place des Pyramides, across the street from the Louvre. This was the first time we stayed at this hotel and it was a great experience. 

After checking in we headed out to walk along the river toward the French quarter with a plan to have lunch at an old favorite, ALLARD, 4 Ave St. Andre des Arts. We started with a lovely pate then shared a local specialty, frog legs in garlic butter and fresh local strawberries.  A little shopping and wander through the book stalls open along the river bank. Back to the hotel for a rest before dinner at a great bistro, L’Ami Jean C’Est. We walked back to the hotel and with the full moon above and the Eiffel Tower in the background it was a lovely first day in Paris.The next day we gathered for a walk through the Morais heading to the market by Faubourg and Denis. The food stalls were filled with large white asparagus spears, fresh local berries and stacks of small melons. Our appetites were peaked so we started walking through the neighborhood looking for a restaurant  for lunch, we chose “Le Square Frousseau” 1 Ave Antoine Vollon, a busy bistro with plenty of sidewalk seating.

We then headed to the Picasso museum  we had not been there since they had reopened after a remodel. Dinner was at a fun casual bistro ( d’Chez Eux ) they wheel over a great antipasti trolley and created huge platters for us to share. Several people shared  the amazing roast chicken, others had the fish of the day or lamb chops. The evening walk back to the hotel can take your breath away, Paris at its best in the evening. It was a long stroll, but after so much good food we needed it. Next day we only had a couple of hours before we left for the barge so a casual walk through the gardens and lunch at a great new restaurant “52” at Faubourg Saint Denis, after you enter the street through the huge arch you will arrive on the busy street loaded with restaurants and small food shops.  White asparagus at 52 was great!!!

 After a week on the barge Carl and I headed to LYON for city life. We checked into a very nice hotel, Hotel Carlton, newly updated with a great staff. The hotel is located on the small island just across the river from the old part. Lyon is famous for all their great restaurants and it did not disappoint.  After wandering the streets for several hours and a quick nap we headed to dinner. We had been eating French food for a week and chose a pizza/pasta restaurant close to the hotel, CASA NOBILE. This was not gourmet but go for the pizza and their great antipasti of fresh veggies and local meats. 

The next morning we walked to the area about 10 blocks from the hotel in the newer part of LYON. The food halls, LES HALLES OF PAUL BOCUSE.  There are over 100 food stalls with everything from pastry to one of our favorite stops at Bellota, serving perfectly sliced Spanish ham and Spanish wines.  This is a must see place if you get to Lyon. We then ventured back to the old section of the city and took the funicular to the top of the look out and walk through the Notre Dame basilica at the top. We walked back down and wandered along the RUE MERCIERE where we stopped for lunch at a cafe and shared mussels and fries. This is a great walking stree since there are no cars and plenty of ice cream shops.

That evening, since it was out last night in Lyon we took a cab back to the top of the lookout for dinner at CHRISTIAN TETEDOIE. if you go ask for a seat next to the huge windows overlooking all of Lyon.  The staff was very attentive and from the start with several amuse bouche, helping us work through the huge wine list and deciding if we wanted to choose the multi course meals or alacarte. I had a lobster starter and the braised rabbit, Carl had the pidgeon.  The next day we took the fast train back to Paris and stayed at the Sheraton airport hotel.  For dinner we took the train into town for a wonderful dinner at Chez Julien, 0142783164, make reservations and enjoy sitting outside in the courtyard. 

Our friend Joanne Weir gave us two restaurants that we have to try on our next visit, SEPTIME AND CLOVE CLUB,  until we return only good memories remain. 

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