Monday, July 30, 2012

Did You Know?

Photo by Cynthia Dial

I Love . . .

I love golf!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Italy's Food and Drink

"When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine, that’s amore,” sang crooner Dean Martin.

Nowhere do the lyrics ring truer than in northern Italy, the upper portion of the boot-shaped country where regional foods and wines stroll arm in arm with the surrounding terrain like eternally intertwined lovers.

In this locale, pleasures of the palate reflect their environs and indulging in an epicurean experience is much like falling in love.
So, with themed visits defining the latest travel trend, we set out not only to sample the country’s seductive sightseeing and shopping but also to eat and drink with purpose along our Italian journey — where local wisdom is that wines work well with foods that grow around them.  Buon appetito.

Photo by Cynthia Dial
For more on Italy's food and drink, check this out.

Quote of the Day

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." -- Helen Keller   

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Photo Op

Nothing quite like a Texas sky.

Travel Surprise

TSA surprise at DFW a/p. When giving instructions for body imaging, the TSA agent said, "Put your right foot in, put your left foot in, put your right foot in and you shake it all about." Doesn't a sense of humor make all the difference in the world, especially when it involves the hokey-pokey?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Quote of the Day

“If life’s a journey, 
give me a first-class window seat
and free cocktails.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Insider's San Diego

If you've been to the Del Mar Racetrack on Opening Day, I don't have to describe the frenzy - ladies in made-for-Ascot hats, Turf Club-goers in jackets, horses on the paddock, diners in the restaurants and wagers being placed everywhere.  So today's visit (Opening Day is tomorrow, 7/18) in order to shoot a segment for Live Fit Magazine revealed an unexpected atmosphere.  As our camera rolled, I noticed begonias being planted, signage being placed and the best part of all, Bing Crosby singing When the Surf Meets the Turf in Old Del Mar (the track's signature tune), a test run I am certain for tomorrow's debut of the 2012 season.

Photo by Cynthia Dial
So, off to the races!

Hot Tip San Diego

Photo by Cynthia Dial
Crab Stack appetizer at Roppongi's restaurant in La Jolla.  The restaurant's Happy Hour is one of San Diego's best - 1/2 off all appetizers.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hot Tip San Diego

Temptations' singing their national anthem: My Girl @ San Diego Pops. Don't miss this San Diego Symphony summer treat by the bay.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Today's Travia

Greenland, the world's largest island is 85% covered with ice, with the ice 11,000 feet deep (more than 2 miles) at its maximum. BTW There are only 4 stop lights in all of Greenland.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Where, oh where, in the world is this?

Photo by Cynthia Dial
In honor of my birthday, it's where I spent a recent b-day celebration.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Travel Mystery

Will miniature horses, pot-bellied pigs and monkeys soon earn frequent flyer miles?
Photo by Cynthia Dial
For insight into this travel mystery, read on.

E-book Recommendation

If you're in the mood for a good read of travel tales, check out my colleague, Jules Older's e-book, Death by Tartar Sauce.  It's available on every e-platform: Kindle, Nook, iTunes, et al.  Here's one of the chapters.  Happy reading.

Loser in Leukerbad

Some people travel so easily. They walk lightly on the earth. They exude peace and harmony. They hold onto their belongings.

I envy these people. I'm the traveler who loses his wallet, loses his guide, loses his way. I'm a loser.
Take my trip to Switzerland. As I board the United flight in San Francisco Airport, I suddenly realize I’ve left my shirt in Security. The flight attendant warns: “Not sure you can make it. Security’s a long way, and we depart in 15 minutes… with or without you.”

“I'm a runner,” I lie. And off I run. Fourteen minutes, 30 seconds later I'm back, gasping for breath but shirt in hand.

Then, in Chicago, as I board the airport train, I drop the backpack containing cell phone, camera and camcorder on the platform. A Black women’s quartet spots the disaster-in-the-making, directs me to the pack and holds up the train while I dive for my invaluables. Then, they serenade me with a sweet rendition of Just a Closer Walk with Thee.

I have always relied on the kindness of angels.

When I reach Switzerland, I make my way south on the country’s famously punctual trains. The scenery is pleasant and green, but I've come for the snow. And from Z├╝rich to Vitz, there isn't any.

Just when I'm losing hope, snowy mountains appear. Two trains and a bus later — all on time to the minute — I’m in snowy Leukerbad munching on apple strudel and enjoying it so much that I leave my parka on the back of the chair.

Leukerbad — it’s the Brigadoon of Switzerland. The bus climbs, the road winds, and when the road ends, an impossibly perfect Alpine village suddenly appears: ancient wooden barns, crookedly narrow streets, echoing church bells.

And that’s not all. Leukerbad is surrounded by craggy, snowy peaks so close, so awesome, they lure the eyes to the sky.

Leukerbad combines two Swiss traditions: snow tourism and health curism. Since 1501, it’s been a destination for ailing Europeans taking the waters. Indeed, Leukerbad is full of waters. Sixty-five thermal springs feed thirty pools: hot pools, warm pools, cool pools and freezing-cold pools. This town of 1,500 may have the highest pool-to-person ratio in Europe. Roughly half the visitors come for the restorative aquatic experience.

The other half comes for the snow. The tram to the snowfields leaves right from town and exits onto miles of wide-open skiing. It’s not Vail, but there's enough variety to keep most skiers more than satisfied.

For lunch, I try the onslope Restaurant Briand, which serves excellent schnitzel and delicious Swiss wine.
The Swiss make wine? Indeed, they do, and in great variety. The reason nobody’s heard of it is that 97 percent is consumed in-country.

The next day, after I've recovered the fanny pack I left at breakfast, I intend to ski again, but a blizzard at the top has closed the lifts. So I go snowshoeing instead.

The snowshoe experience is lovely and silent…except, what's that roar? A plane? A turbine? No — an avalanche!

It’s one of the most chilling sounds I've ever heard. Loud enough to rattle windows, long enough to make me consider my mortality.

And there's an intrusive thought: This town has been wiped out by avalanche before. No, wait — the last time was January 17, 1719. Guess I'm reasonably safe, after all.

After the hike, my fellow snowshoers and I head for Leukerbad’s modern ice rink for a quick hot chocolate and a long, competitive game of a sport I've made fun of my entire adult life.

Now, I'd like to apologize. Curling is not the incredibly lame, totally unathletic, funny-hat-on-the-head faux-sport involving brooms I took it for. There's considerable skill involved. Even that crazy brooming is kinda fun. Think bowling on ice. Picture croquet with a forty-pound rock.

But that night, I join a Leukerbad activity that makes curling look normal. It’s called “Kino im Pool.” I have no clue what that means.

I do as I'm told: Don a swimsuit and head down to the big indoor/outdoor pool at the Alpentherme. As we relax in the warm waters, the lights dim, and a large screen fills with... James Bond. Yes, it’s Quantum of Solace. I've been to drive-in movies; this is my first swim-in movie.

So what do we have here? A perfect Swiss mountain village that lives on water. Some is in the form of snow; some as ice, and the rest in healing pools. How sweet it is.

And here's an inside tip. At the many-pooled Burgerbad, a.k.a. City Bath, swimsuits are required. At the tasteful Walliser Saunadorf, a.k.a. Sauna Village, swimsuits are verboten. Not discouraged — verboten. Unless you enjoy a stern lecture in Swiss-German in front of a lot of naked people, don’t bring your swimsuit.

Wasn't a problem for me — I'd lost my mine two days before.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sighting: San Diego

Photo by Cynthia Dial
Sighting on San Diego harbor: the mega-yacht, Attessa IV, belonging to Dennis Washington (the 58th richest person in America). Known as one of the world's largest such vessels, it's equipped with a helicopter copter/landing pad, theater, gym, spa, etc., etc., etc.  We noted all this from a 29-ft sail boat, where we dined on guacamole, chips, salsa, sandwiches and sangria. Is there any parallel here?

San Diego Surprise!!

Photo by Cynthia Dial
7/7/12 San Diego Padres game surprise was bad boy Charlie Sheen throwing out the first pitch to the musical accompaniment of "Wild Thing!"

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hot tip San Diego

Easier than a trip to Russia: Pomegranate restaurant. Ask for Dmitriy (he's one of the 2 owners; the other is also named Dmitriy).. Suggestions: Borscht, Georgian cheese pie, Beef stroganoff. Delicious meal, great atmosphere, wonderful memories. Go, just go.

Friday, July 6, 2012

San Juan: Land of Gastronomic Adventure

Confession: I’ve been to San Juan twice. Each time I visited as a cruise ship passenger for a partial day visit and each time I departed liking it but not loving it. So when the opportunity arose for a more comprehensive peek at the Puerto Rican haunt, it was with mild enthusiasm that I returned to the island. However, not being one who refuses to admit that I was wrong, I admit it. I was wrong. This is the Puerto Rico I found.
Photo by Cynthia Dial
Read more on San Juan.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Insider's San Diego

Maybe it seems strange but I thought San Diego's 20-minute fireworks celebration, which was inadvertently reduced to a 15-second syncronized fireworks fest, was exciting.  We watched from Mt. Soledad in La Jolla and though we were initially perplexed, it certainly was not boring.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hot Tip San Diego

4th of July tradition. Coronado celebration in the park, complete with every branch of the military represented, especially the Navy.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Quote of the Day

Dial Family in Austria
“The best things in life are the people we love,
the places we’ve been
and the memories we’ve made along the way.”