Saturday, May 5, 2012

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

we go then he leaves

we have never been to Charlie Trotter's - kind of a protest on our part... we know too many doctors I work with who have been and I kind of liken it to "doctor hotels" - always very nice - very good - even really excellent - but never what you might term a "value"-

but today we made it there as we went as part of ChicaGourmets luncheon to celebrate their 15th anniversary and Trotter's 25th (and final) year.

reasonably fun meal  with good food and wine pairings which are detailed on the menu below- and some photos which may not be indicative of the lovely presentation but certainly beat out the old blackberry photos from the Africa lunch I went to Sheila & Mary last year...learned that lesson.

this white bordeaux was poured in place of a wine from Columbia Valley (we win!)

time in the kitchen to see how things are done- lots of work being done in a fairly small space---

some ingredients we saw - "spargle" and morels and plenty of eggs:

the final step- the scullery- LOL

guess I can now say "I was there" once.... LOL- lots of folks in the group obviously ate there regularly - but Phil balks every time he had to wear a jacket (like today- LOL) and as I said to him on the way home - like Next Paris 1906- it didn't wow me the way Alinea did the first time we went - when by the third course I had gone from saying I would never go back (due to attitude) to - I am coming for my birthday!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

a milestone

of sorts- I just posted my 300th post on semifreelife... and am about ten days past the 18 month anniversary of starting the blog-  I would have done the 300 within the anniversary date but for the lack of Internet connections in Cuba--- from 4/14- 4/25 I had no way to post (4/22 was the 18 month anniversary) alas- I guess I will have to see where I am on the 2 year anniversary....

now- on to the Cuba photo book and the preparations for the Greece trip (5/22 departure)- places to go - people to see - things to do....

one more photo from Cuba- didn't seem to fit into the narrative - these folks were on their way for a fishing picnic below the fort on the first morning we arrived- I saw them from the top of the wall overlooking the harbor.... everyone going somewhere sometime....

final day of people to people trip

in Cuba. this morning started out with a tour of the huge cemetery (named after Columbus) where there are dozens of funerals held each day.

the statuary is spectacular - as much of Havana also shows - this was once a place of enormous wealth.

from there we went on to visit Munchkin Land  and the three-year-old kids in a day care/pre-school program for the most disadvantaged children in the area of Old Havana.  the kids were delighted when we came bearing balloons! they sang us several songs and we trotted out our "Old MacDonald" (extremely lame) for them. we had a lot of fun just being with them.

one stop on the way - Revolution Square (formerly Jose Marti Square) images of Camillo Cienfuegos and Che decorate nearby buildings:

some last views of vintage American cars- still being used as taxis:

then back to the hotel for lunch (poolside- and including batidos of guava and banana) - then off for afternoon activities of the Ebony Dance Company in rehearsal... 

one final activity before the farewell dinner- a lecture about US and Cuban relations:

our final dinner is in Old Havana and we are all getting "end of trip" sentimental....

below: Mirelys - our Cuban Guide and Heberto- our driver!

we head back to the bus to return to the hotel and Leo springs his final SURPRISE! - vintage convertibles and a drive home with the top down along the Malecon! really quite a spectacular way to end the trip.

the Cuban Mel Gibson is our handsome driver

later a group of us take our rum and wine down to the Malecon (like the locals do) and spent some time just trading stories while overlooking the sea and saying "no Gracias" to a dozen musicians wanting to play for tips or sell us CDs- LOL

below- a view of the hotel from the Malecon:

the following morning - check out of hotel - check into the airport - check through customs after flight to MIA and check onto another flight home----

the sunrise over Havana

hope you enjoyed following along as we explored the country, met the people and learned about the culture of Cuba with us... a special thanks to Leo, Mirelys and Herberto for their gracious hospitality and unflagging patience.