Thursday, August 28, 2014

Montreal's Food Scene More

Montreal's food scene. It's known for its bagels.  #canada #montreal #bagels #travel #travelpics #traveltips #travelingcynthia 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Montreal's Food Scene . . . And Sweet Tooth

Montreal's food scene. Desserts at Omnivoriois.  #omnivorious #montrealfood #canada #montreal  #travel #travelpics #traveltips #travelingcynthia #traveltips #travelingcynthia #dessert

Montreal Food Scene . . . Even More

Montreal's food scene. Don't miss smoked meat at Schwartz's. And don't called it corned beef.  #schwartzs #smokedmeat #montrealfood #canada #montreal #travel #travelpics #traveltips #travelingcynthia #traveltips #travelingcynthia 

Montreal's Food Scene

Montreal's food scene. It started with breakfast. Continental at Le St-Martin Hotel Particulier Downtown. @hotelstmartin#canada #montreal #mapleleaf #travel #travelpics #traveltips #travelingcynthia 

Oh Canada!

Oh Canada. #canada #montreal #mapleleaf #travel #travelpics #traveltips #travelingcynthia 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hotwire's "Hottest" 10 Destinations for Labor Day Weekend

Hotwire's "Hottest" 10 Destinations for Labor Day Weekend are: 

Photo by Cynthia Dial
1. Chicago
 2. San Diego 
3. New York City 
4. Las Vegas
5. New Orleans 
6. Boston 
7. Los Angeles 
8. Atlanta 
9. San Francisco 
10. Washington, DC 
#travel #travelingcynthia #traveltips #laborday #labordaytravel

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Guide to San Antonio: Where to Go, Eat & Stay for the Best Texas Experience

As a native Texan, now Californian, I made the trek to San Antonio often in the past. Based on this background, smart money might be that I know the region well, right? Well, you would lose that bet as my last visit acquainted me with a Texas town I had not yet met.

Let me introduce you to San Antonio, Texas. The nation’s seventh largest city and the state’s second in size, San Antonio is no small place. Yet, its downtown is modest, it’s quaint, it’s easy to stroll. Bottom line: San Antonio is unlike most major U.S. metropolitan areas. Its made--in-Texas hallmarks are distinctive: the Alamo, the River Walk and an international history that’s a colorful combo of Western cowboys and Spanish vaqueros, blended with a German population.
Dating back to its 1718 beginnings, five Spanish missions were located along the river. One of these missions, San Antonio de Valero, became a military barracks known as the Alamo, a fortress whose impressive 13-day battle during the Texas Revolution forever put this surprisingly tiny structure on the map. Nearby is another piece of the past. The Spanish Governor’s Palace, now a National Historic Landmark, is one of Texas’ oldest standing residential buildings.

Add to the mix brew houses that were long ago erected and now repurposed as exciting, different venues, and you have today’s San Antonio. The former Lone Star Brewery houses the San Antonio Museum of Art. Pearl Brewery Company’s 22-acre complex (locally known as Pearl) may have brewed beer from the 1800s to 1999, but it’s become a 21st century “culinary gathering place.” It is the address of 12 restaurants, 12 retailers, a Saturday farmer’s market and the third campus of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA)
The River Walk takes you deep into the heart of Texas – the moment you step onto its cobbled footpath, you’re immersed into this distinctive destination. Running alongside the city’s eponymous river, one story beneath it for approximately two miles of downtown streets and miles beyond, it is a lush network of walkways and stairways. An annual magnet for millions, the tropical setting is green with cypress and palms and scattered with al fresco eateries, toe-tapping music venues and an assortment of hotels and boutiques – all commingling with back-in-the-day structures.

With the River Walk’s recent expansion to 15.5 miles, it represents America’s longest linear park. It not only connects prime-time tourist attractions – the Alamo, Pearl and the San Antonio Museum of Art – but hiking and biking trails now reach its Missions Concepción, San José, San Juan Capistrano and Espada (nominated for UNESCO World Heritage site status, along with the Alamo). For those not exploring on foot or by bike, there is Rio San Antonio Cruise’s 45-minute narrated boat ride and the Rio Taxi’s 39 River Walk stops.

Exploration of the river reveals a hospitable setting on a historic stage. La Villita, the “little village” and former garrison that housed the Alamo’s soldiers in the late 1700s, is a thriving arts center. Though a contemporary setting for art galleries, one-of-a-kind shops and specialty restaurants, the past is omnipresent.
Fast forward to the 1968 World’s Fair and HemisFair. Now a multi-acre downtown green space, it is home to the Institute of Texas Cultures, the Instituto Cultural Mexicano and the iconic 750-foot tall Tower of the Americas (now an observation deck and restaurant).

Newest on the River Walk is the Briscoe Western Art Museum. Having opened in October 2013, and named for Dolph Briscoe, a former governor of Texas and the state’s largest private landowner, the museum showcases everything “Western” – from a replica of a Wells Fargo stagecoach and collection of more than 100 spurs to Pancho Villa’s last known saddle and an interactive diorama of the Alamo’s noted battle.

With 18 properties given AAA Four Diamond status, there is no shortage of hotels for luxury loving cowboys. Nor is there is a lack of choices.

Though Eilan Hotel & Spa is 20 minutes north in Texas Hill Country, a stay at this Tuscan-inspired hotel is rewarded with three pools, a 10,000-square-foot spa and its signature restaurant, Sustenio, created by award-winning Stephan Pyles in collaboration with Executive Chef Mike Collins. Opening in February 2012, it is one of two Texas hotels named to Leading Hotels of the World. 

An overnight at Omni La Mansion del Rio replicates a stay in a grand hacienda. Its Spanish colonial architecture and classic European appointments, coupled with the romance of its River Walk location, ensure a luxurious peek into a privileged background. 

Upon entering the marble lobby of Hotel Contessa, the striking portrait of the hotel’s Spanish matriarch Lady Contessa sets the stage for a world-class visit. Punctuated with such appointments as wooden-framed mirrors, colorful tile bar tops, exposed brick walls and expansive archways, it’s been named as one of the country’s Top 100 Hotels. Its restaurant, Las Ramblas, features an exhibition-style kitchen.

San Antonio is indeed a happening, but there’s more. “Of all of the things going on in this town, its culinary scene is the most amazing,” said a long time resident.

Let’s begin with Pearl and its food-and-drink scene. Here, two-time James Beard Award nominee Chef Andrew Weissman features dual eateries: a five-star Italian café, Il Sogno Osteria, and an upscale oyster bar, the Sandbar Fish House & Market. Called a “gastropub with Hill Country feel,” Cured is the delicious child of Chef Steve McHugh (former Chef de Cuisine for New Orleans’ Chef John Besh). Located in Pearl Brewing Company’s administration building (circa 1904), its menu showcases cured meats and brewer’s crackers made with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Rounding out Pearl’s offerings is Blue Box, a self-described “swanky, hip cocktail bar.”

Jason Dady is a local celeb chef with such eateries as Umai Mi, known for Chef's spin on Asian fare; Tre Trattoria, an Italian restaurant whose focus is "fresh"; Two Bros. BBQ Market described as "true Texas pit-to-table" barbecue and DUK (acronym for Dady's Underground Kitchen) Truck, an on-wheels cookhouse that roves San Antonio and features an ever-evolving gourmet menu. 

When detailing San Antonio’s lively food scene, homage must be paid to Chef Johnny Hernandez, a native San Antonian and grad of New York’s CIA. Inspired by his restaurateur father and his own travels through Mexico, Chef’s take on Mexican food is entrenched in tradition. His restaurants: La Gloria is inspired by street foods from the interior of Mexico; Fruteria - Botanero reflects the country’s fruit stands; El Machito features “all things meat” and his monthly barbacoa brunch at Casa Hernán, his urban hacienda home, is always a sold-out affair.

Though traditionally known for such crave-worthy cooking as Tex-Mex and barbeque, San Antonio’s culinary dance card has expanded to include Asian, cured meats, Italian and more. Add to this lineup the expanded River Walk, an inventive museum scene and the revitalization of its storied past, and you have a city that shouts, “Visit!”

After sipping, tasting and exploring the state at its Lone Star best, my verdict is in: You can take the girl out of Texas but . . . well, you know the rest. 

By Cynthia Dial
Appeared in

#travel #traveltips #travelingcynthia #texas #sanantonio #traveltuesday

Travel Quote of the Day

 “You may have the universe if I may have Italy.”
Giuseppe Verdi
Photo by Cynthia Dial
#travel #traveltuesday #travelquote #travelingcynthia #italyquote #italy

Monday, August 18, 2014

What to Do When a Kid Won't Stop Kicking Your Airline Seat

Article from Wendy Perrin, The Perrin Post, Condé  Nast Traveler 
When you’re stuck in an airplane seat in front of a kid who won’t stop kicking the back of your seat, what should you do? The question was raised by Gary Leff of View From the Wing, who laments that there's no such thing as "Children-Kicking-Your-Seatback-Cancelling Headsets." I’m firmly in the camp that it’s the parent’s job to keep their children from kicking other passengers, and, as a mom of two boys who were once hyperkinetic preschoolers, I do have a few tricks to suggest:
If your child is kicking the seat, remove his shoes. With feet covered only by socks, children will kick less hard—since they don’t want to hurt their toes—and the passenger's back will feel it less.
When reserving seats on a flight, book one parent into the seat in front of the child who’s the kicker (as opposed to seating the family in one long row). That way it’s the parent, not a stranger, whose back gets kicked.
Place your child’s beloved stuffed animal, Pillow Pet, or similar plush comfort toy—every child travels with one—in the seat pocket in front of him. He won’t want to kick his favorite animal friend. If he does anyway, tell him that if he kicks it again, you'll take it away.
Carry a large printout photo of the child’s grandmother and tape it to the back of the seat. You can’t kick grandma.
Physically restrain the child's legs. My husband sometimes spent hours holding my boys' feet on flights. (My hands were too busy blogging on my laptop).
If your child is disturbing any passenger, offer to buy that passenger a drink.
I asked my frequent-flying children (now ages 10 and 11) to weigh in, and they also have suggestions for parents:
Bring duct tape and tape your child’s legs to the seat (but only if he’s wearing long pants; otherwise it might hurt). Bonus: If you've got a couple of different colors of duct tape, you can also use it for arts and crafts on the plane.
Give the child your iPhone and say that, if he kicks the seat, you’re going to take it away.
It's trickier, of course, when you're the passenger getting kicked—as was the case with Leff—and you're not sure how to approach the parent. My suggestion would be to turn around and tell the child to stop kicking you because it's hurting your back and your feelings. Children are used to being told to keep their hands to themselves, so they'll understand a command to keep your feet to yourself. Kids, especially toddlers, often won’t listen to their parents—rather, they want to test how far they can push them—yet will immediately do as a stranger says. Too bad the captain can't walk back and order kids to stop kicking. They'd definitely listen to him!
#travel #traveltips #airlinetraveltips #travelingcynthia #airlinetravel #travelwithkids

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Airline Travel - First Class Passenger Sues over Toilet

Two US travellers are taking legal action against Alaska Airlines over use of a domestic first class toilet, claiming US$11,498 (A$12,375) in damages ranging from medical to emotional.

The young couple flew from Las Vegas to Portland in February this year in Alaska Airlines' first class (aka Australian business class) cabin when one of the two, according to the couple’s attorney, needed to use the restroom.
However, she was unable to do so because "passengers from (economy) kept walking up to use the first-class restroom", reports Oregon Live, making her "more uncomfortable by the minute as she waited for an opportunity to use the toilet."
According to Oregon Live, the female passenger asked a flight attendant if she would make an announcement stating that passengers were only to use the restrooms in their assigned cabins.
The flight attendant not only refusesed to do so but "got real snippy,” claims the attorney, and when the passenger eventually made it into the restroom, "the flight attendant slammed the door shut", injuring the passenger's shoulder.
Then – and again, this is the attorney for the couple telling their side of their story – it was time to add insult to injury.
The flight attendant later claimed the couple "had created an in-flight disturbance by verbally assaulting her", and when the plane arrived at Portland, "passengers were told to remain seated while Port of Portland police boarded and escorted (the couple" off."
“It was embarrassing for them,” attorney Thomas Patton said, although after 30 minutes of questioning they were released because police found no criminal wrongdoing.
So, that US$11,498?
The female passenger claims she suffered "a rotator cuff injury and impingement syndrome" requiring two months of physical therapy, for which she is seeking US$1,498 in medical expenses and US$7,000 in "non-economic damages for pain, suffering and inconvenience."
The couple are also asking for US$1,500 each "for humiliation from being taken into custody."
Alaska Airlines has declined to comment on the story, although it reportedly offered offered to settle the case by paying the US$1,498 in medical expenses – an offer which the travellers rejected in favour of filing a lawsuit for closer to ten times that amount.
Article by David Flynn for Australian Business Traveller
#travel #traveltips #travelingcynthia #airlinetravel #firstclass #firstclasstoilet

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Travel News - "Botlr" - Hotel Robot Butler

Here's the newest on the travel scene.

Meet A.L.O. (pronounced: “el-oh”), Aloft Hotel’s new robot butler! Just under 3 feet and dressed in a vinyl-collared uniform, this robot butler (also known as Botlr) is ready to serve guests with aplomb!

The industry’s first automated bellhop can carry out all the usual room service tasks, reveal officials at Alof Hotels, a brand of Starwood Hotels. Guests at the hotel just need to call the front desk and specify their requirements. The staff will load up the Botlr with requested items, punch in the guest’s room number and send it off to make the delivery. Also, guests won’t have to pay tip for all that service. With the delivery complete, the Botlr will request for a review. If the guest puts in a positive remark on the built-in screen, the robot does a happy dance.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Where, oh where, in the world is this?

Where, oh where, in the world is this?

#traveltuesday #travelpics #travel #traveltips #travelingcynthia

Monday, August 11, 2014

Travia - Paris - Le Kilometre 0

Travia: All distances from Paris are measured from a point in the square at the front of Notre Dame. A bronze plaque, called Le Kilometre 0, marks the starting point. 

#travel #paris #notredame #travia #traveltips #travelingcynthia

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Travel Quote

Travel Quote of the Day:
Photo by Cynthia Dial

"There was nowhere to go but everywhere" 
Jack Kerouac

#travel #traveltips #traveltuesday #travelingcynthia #travelpics #antarctica #penguin #snow

Friday, August 1, 2014

Nashville - Music and More

Standing on a downtown Nashville street corner waiting for the “walk” signal, my toes began to tap.  I heard music. It wasn’t coming from a restaurant, bar or nightclub, of which there are many—it was playing from the metal box controlling the traffic light. Music is everywhere in this city. From the moment you arrive, you’re immersed in melody. Treble clefs decorate the airport restaurant and a guitarist provides the entertainment at the terminal’s coffee shop. Even the year ends on a musical note, as at midnight on New Year’s Eve it’s not a ball that drops but a musical note (the world’s only).

Known as Music City, Nashville is where the world of music meets southern comfort. This is a land where the tunes are country along with jazz, blues, and rock and where the food can be grits and gravy as well as a grilled lobster and where “Yes ma’am” and “Yes sir” are only a two of the niceties you repeatedly hear. Though it’s home to such high-profile artists as Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Keith Urban, and Nicole Kidman, it’s a downhome kind of place—one where you’re just as apt to see these celebs on the street as on the stage.

The best place to begin is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Located on the west bank of the Cumberland River, it’s a short walk from the historic Ryman Auditorium of Grand Ole Opry repute , Lower Broadway’s honky-tonks, and Music City’s Walk of Fame, which resembles Hollywood’s similar sidewalk tribute. At the museum you’ll pass beneath a doorway that reads “Honor Thy Music” and you’ll hear music as you walk the length of the exhibits. Culled from a rotating collection of two million items, the Hall of Fame’s collection has historic video clips, musical instruments (from Eddy Arnold’s customized guitar to Taylor Swift’s Swarovski-covered six strings), Elvis’ solid gold Cadillac, and celebrity performance outfits, including the Dixie Chicks’ black nylon dresses accented with safety pins and an ebony outfit from Johnny Cash, aka “the man in black.”

A perk of the museum is the off-site tour of RCA Studio B on Music Row, one of the world’s most important recording studios. So renowned is this area (16th and 17th Avenues South) that locals say that it’s to music what Wall Street is to finance. Called the “Home of a Thousand Hits,” Studio B’s recording stats are impressive:  more than 35,000 songs produced (including over 1,000 U.S. hits), 40 “million-seller” singles and more than 200 of Elvis’ recordings (far greater than any other studio). It opened in 1957 and closed its doors the day after Elvis died in 1977, an unintended tribute that was a mere coincidence.

“Hello! I’m Johnny Cash,” reads the wall at the entrance of his namesake museum. With more than 1,500 songs recorded in his career, visitors can observe videos of some of his performances from the 1950’s through 2000 and clips of his T.V. appearances which show his attempts at an acting career. But it was the personal items that caught my attention—Johnny Cash and June Carter’s marriage certificate, the tux that Cash wore for his White House appearance, and a handwritten manuscript of his last song which was written shortly before his death.

The museums provide a complete picture of Nashville’s musical history, but the real deal is found on Lower Broadway amid four blocks of restaurants, retail stores and innumerable honky-tonks. Open every day from 10 to 3 a.m., this music scene is live, legendary and varied. Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is where big name performers like Waylon Jennings and Patsy Cline honed their skills. Even today such luminaries as Kid Rock and Vince Gill are known to pop into Legends Corner. And every day you’re treated to the talent of countless hopefuls who play these venues to fine tune their repertoire and showcase their skills.

If you’re a fan of the television series, “Nashville,” you’ve heard of the Bluebird Cafe. But viewer or not, this music outlet should be at the top of your itinerary. Located away from downtown in a strip mall, at first glance it’s not impressive, but don’t let its nondescript appearance fool you.  This 90-seat music club is steeped in history for singers and songwriters alike.  The Bluebird is where Vince Gill and Kathy Mattea perfected their craft, where 15 year-old Taylor Swift was discovered and where an unknown artist named Garth Brooks first heard his future hit, “The Dance.”

For many, though, the Grand Ole Opry is Nashville. A noted American icon, it’s the city’s number one attraction. Dedicated to country music’s past and present, the Opry showcases a mix of celebrated country stars and the contemporary crooners who have followed in their footsteps. Among its members are such notables as Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Brad Paisley, and Carrie Underwood; and among its memories are over-the-top moments like the night 4’11” Little Jimmy Dickens climbed atop a stepladder to be eye to eye with 6’6” Trace Adkins when he presented the towering songster with an official invite to become an Opry member. It was 1974 when the Opry moved from town to its current location by the Gaylord Opryland Resort, leaving its longtime (1943 – 1974) home at the Ryman Auditorium vacant.

Two decades later in 1994 the Ryman was restored to a national showplace, adding another vital venue to Nashville’s downtown scene. Known as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” you sit in church pews and experience acoustics second only to the Mormon Tabernacle and surpassing even Carnegie Hall. It continues to feature the best of Nashville’s performers. Today, the Opry returns to the Ryman Auditorium every Tuesday night for a special ‘Opry at the Ryman’ performance, where a celebrity host shares great stories and songs, guests sing their own hits and a spotlight artist headlines the show; and it also comes back from November to January when the Rockettes seasonally appear at Gaylord Resort’s Grand Ole Opry home.

Nashville is music, but Nashville is also much more, its past the stuff of romance novels. Founded on Christmas Day, 1779, among its pioneers was Rachel Donelson who became the wife of President Andrew Jackson. The country’s 11th president, James Polk, was a Nashville resident, as was Oprah Winfrey, the city’s first female and first African American news anchor, who began her career at the local station WTVF-TV.

Only a block from the state capitol and Nashville’s highest point, Capitol Hill, is The Hermitage Hotel.  Named for Andrew Jackson’s nearby Hermitage estate, the 103-year-old hotel represents the city’s first million-dollar hotel and Tennessee’s only Mobil Five Star and AAA Five Diamond hotel. The decor utilizes only the finest materials, the entrance of Italian marble from Siena and the paneled walls of Russian walnut. Its noted restaurant, The Capitol Grille, was built by craftsmen from Germany. Even the men’s restroom has garnered an award. Voted America’s best restroom, it’s decorated with gleaming green and black leaded glass tiles, green fixtures, and a terrazzo floor and even has enough room for a shoeshine station.

Far from Capitol Hill and away from Lower Broadway are sloping green lawns, massive oak trees and mansions defined by shuttered windows and Greek columns—all reminders of Nashville’s southern roots. Belle Meade Plantation represents Tennessee’s most exclusive, from its 37205 zip code to it racing horse farm success. Many famous horses were bred here or can trace their lineage to the farm, including Iroquois, Seabiscuit and War Admiral. And the list of visitors to the 150 year old antebellum mansion throughout the years is equally impressive: President and Mrs. Grover Cleveland, President Franklin Roosevelt, Robert Todd Lincoln, and General U.S. Grant. Underscoring its link to the Civil War, bullet holes in its columns are the result of a battle fought right on its front lawn.

Cheekwood was built on a portion of the original Belle Meade Plantation by Leslie and Mabel Cheek of Maxwell House coffee fame. A visit to the 30,000 square foot Georgian style mansion and its surrounding 55 acre botanical garden takes one back to a grander time. Opening in 1960 as a Museum of Art, its American art collection includes 5,000 prints, drawings and photographs, in addition to 600 paintings by such prestigious artists as Larry Rivers and Andy Warhol.  

Belmont Mansion was home to one of the nation’s richest women, Adelicia Acklen, who is said to have been the inspiration for Scarlett O’Hara. A three-time bride, the reception following her third marriage, deemed a “modest” affair, hosted 2,000 guests; and Napoleon III sent a diamond tiara for her to wear on the occasion.

Though my visit was short, it was long enough to uncover Nashville’s mansions, museums and music … always music.

Standing in line at the airport’s departure counter reflecting upon my visit, I heard music. A nearby passenger waiting to check his guitar case hummed a familiar tune. “Going home?” I asked. “No, going on tour for a gig in Asia. I’ll be playing Singapore tomorrow night.”

As they say, the beat goes on.

#nashville #visitmusiccity #musiccity #travel #traveltips #travelingcynthia #grandoleopry