Friday, October 14, 2011

three roads

today I got an email from a woman we went on safari with-  about the royal wedding in Bhutan. it reminded me of the fall we went to Bhutan and India.  we had a busy travel season and actually made (in the span of about eight weeks) three fairly big trips.  each of these trips involved a "road trip" of some note.

we started in early fall in Hawaii- I was there for a business meeting and we decided to spend some time on Maui for a personal getaway.  once on Maui the thing every book and guide recommends is to drive the road to Hana.   we dutifully bought an audio guide CD for the car to follow along the lengthy drive (of more than five hours one way) by mile marker signs.  and as we started off that morning I said to Phil- I have a feeling that this is something everyone says you should do but that it is going to turn out to be a lot of raving about something that we won't find all that interesting -

but we headed out early as we wanted to be there and back in by midnight.  we stopped for breakfast    

six hours later we arrived in Hana- here is the main attraction in Hana -

we had lunch in an overcrowded overpriced burger place (no competition except from the Spam dumplings steaming away in the general store) LOL

along the way we saw some really lovely scenery- but all of Hawaii has scenery and you don't usually have to drive on two lane roads with 50+ one lane bridges to see it -

some of the good views-

 look at the color of that water!

OK so maybe the guy in the photo was not such a "good view" but the blow hole was pretty darned good!

then, less than a month later we were in Italy on another "road" and that was the Amalfi Coast road- as many twists and turns and as narrow as the Road to Hana--- this time we were smarter - got ourselves a driver and let him do the driving while we took in the marvelous views!  AND to top it off when we got there- we actually were someplace!

we left Sorrento after several days stay and headed to our next accommodations - the Santa Caterina in Amalfi.  we stopped along the way in several other places including Positano and Ravello.  every stop brought either great views or great food- sometimes both! what more can you ask for?  (maybe the Italians could help the Hawaiians with the food options)

first the view from our hotel room in Sorrento: 

the area is renown for citrus fruit and especially limoncello:

we arrived in time for some of the olive harvesting- done "high tech" with nets to catch the falling olives:

fruit for sale outside the entrance to nearby Pompeii:

the pool deck at our Sorrento hotel:

the road brought some wonderful views:

ther awning in the center of the bottom of the photo was a place we went to eat several nights later- beautiful views from the porch where we dined on fabulous food!

our next hotel - was lovely as well - here views of the pool and from the terrace of the breakfast room:

some photos from Positano and Ravello and Amalfi - all places we stopped on the road along the Amalfi Coast:

and then not long after we returned home - we left again. 

this time we were headed for Bhutan.  we would follow the trip to Bhutan with a journey to India (Phil's first trip to India) to visit with friends Mac and Niti in Chandigarh.  but the reason I got started on all of these roads was Bhutan's royal wedding.  the king (who just got married) had then recently been named king and when we visited they were preparing for his coronation.  one of the things that was being done was the paving of the main road from Paro (where the only airport in the country is located) to Thimphu (the capital of the country.)  the road was being built by hand by Indian laborers and what was once bad pavement was now abysmal dirt and potholes.  the driver, Mr Ganga and the guide, Karma, warned us when they picked us up at the airport and although we had a Toyota SUV four wheel drive vehicle, I have never bounced and pitched in the way we did that day for nearly five hours (the journey is only 55 kilometers - 33 miles- and now takes about an hour)

however- that being said- Bhutan (the last shangri-la) is probably the single most beautiful country on the planet...

so there you have the tale of three roads - each taken- each bringing its own story and its own experiences.  as I said it was a busy fall.

today I began to get some materials ready for our next adventure- Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Bosnia.... stay tuned....

serious dysfunction

last night we went to see a new play at the Remy Bumppo theater company- a new play to them but an older play to Americans- by our own Nobel prize winning playwright Eugene O'Neill...

I can't even begin a review of any note except to say that the play contained only a single likable character and actually had a couple you wished to have perish (which they obligingly do at various times in the three acts.)

the story revolves around an amazingly dysfunctional family in New England at the end of the Civil War.  the main characters include a hateful spiteful revenge driven daughter Lavinia and her almost as horrible mother Christine, Christine's other child Orin - a wimpy whiny baby of a boy who "suffers' from the ghosts of the "rebs" he killed in the war (OK so we will give him the ghosts) but his unnatural affection for his mother and then later his sister (really unnatural as in sexual) is beyond the pale - the father/husband is a General who may or may not lay traps for his treacherous wife- who ends up killing him which leads to the son killing the mother's lover (and the unrequited love of the jealous sister/daughter) which leads to the mother killing herself and the brother killing himself and then finally the hateful daughter killing herself (but not until after she confesses tha she has "sinned" with a south sea islander while away with her brother after the deaths of their parents and their mother's lover) did I mention the son/brother killed him? LOL

for a more coherent synopsis read:

if this sounds like a big swamp of dysfunction - it was... the good news is that the actors did a fine job the bad news is that the play is so awful about a third of the audience left at the first intermission and another third at the second... which is sad because it is not the actor's fault the people they played were so distasteful.

so my review is a thumbs down on this one.  LOL- and apparently it is not just me- here is a review from the NYT in 2008 of another company's re staging of the play

"There are bad nights at the theater, and then once in a blue moon comes a lulu like the revival of Eugene O’Neill’s “Mourning Becomes Electra, four hours of quicksand from which you begin to fear you will never, ever escape."

at one point Phil turned to me and said "what a nightmare" -  LOL so I guess our perspective was not as unique as we feared...

one more NYC photo

I was completely taken by this- a scene in the Red Carpet Club--- or more accurately - the past made present-

can you believe it?

real phone books - even more rare than a pay phone in a phone booth these days....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

and the winners were

or should I say the award goes to???

anyway- for my part I would say the best course was

a tie between the foie-lafel at wd-50 and the foie gras sandwich at SHO Shaun Hergatt

and for the best meal all around - Nougatine

honorable meal mentions go to: Chat Noir and Rouge Tomate

and honorable course mentions to: the truffle tagliatelle at Novita and the butter lettuce & endive salad at The House.

best service award goes to - hands down- wd-50

last full day

of our NYC trip - we headed to Katz's deli for lunch- pastrami for Phil and corned beef for me.

then we visited the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (they had just added a new family history to their list of "tours" - this one on the Moore's an Irish family.)

we had visited several times before - and seen the Greek (Ladino speaking Jews) family and then the Jewish and Italian families and the German family and now the Irish.  this is a fascinating museum about immigration and family histories told through the residents of the tenement apartment building at 79 Orchard street in the LES of NYC.  highly recommended!

we traipsed back uptown to the hotel to change for dinner with Laure and Arno and Angela and Lee.  we went to the roof deck of Laure and Arno's apartment and hung out for a while - drinking champagne and enjoying the perfect weather

darkness fell and we then headed to SHO Shaun Hergatt nearby.  I would say the meal was very very good and a much better value than the wd-50 meal - I especially loved the celeriac foam soup course and the foie gras sandwich served on these amazing little spice cake slices so that it was like a luscious ice cream sandwich.   

we said our farewells after waling back to L&A's building and Angela & Lee headed out on Lee's scooter and we on the subway-  thinking about packing and heading home the next day.

wonderful trip- great to see Angela and Jeremy and their friends and especially nice to spend time with Laure and Arno and Alix since we hadn't seen them since their move in August.... they are settling in and creating a new life.  and oddly enough - so are we - creating a new life... now that I am retired and need a new goal to work towards I have decided that we will find a way to get Phil retired too! LOL

a day off

of walking and walking-

we got up a bit later as it was Sunday and no pounding noises awoke us at 7 AM.  we headed to the UES for lunch at the Bistro Chat Noir.  it was delightful little hole in the wall bistro with four tiny tables outdoors on a patio. one of the tables outdoors was clearing so we scored a table in the shade on a glorious autumn afternoon.

they are known for the black cat burger - which we both ordered with blue cheese and Phil started with an excellent mushroom soup and I with the tuna tartare - both great choices. service was friendly and relaxed - we will definitely return.

after leaving lunch we walked across fifth avenue to the park and hung out for a while there

then we walked back to the hotel in the late afternoon and caught up on some email etc.  before we headed to meet Angela and Lee at Novita (again near Gramercy)

we had eaten there before with Jeremy when visiting and when Angela was off on her first trip to Israel, so it was her first time and we were just meeting Lee. We had a great meal with a shared course of tagliatelle with truffles (YUM!)   a nice evening all around, catching up with Angela and meeting Lee.

we headed back up town on the subway and when we emerged I took this shot of the deli across the street from our closest subway on the NR lines (F was closer but not always useful)