Travel

witaly115.jpgJill was done.  For three weeks I'd been force feeding her on a take-no-prisoners march through the restaurants of Italy.  I had all but nailed her feet to the floor.  And then four days in Rome – dio mio, Roma!  If you don’t eat well in Rome, you’re an idiot.    

Now she was on strike. “Forgive me, honey, but I have to go light tonight”, she said.  “Just a little grilled fish and a salad.  And no wine.”    

This last was underlined as if to indicate it should have some special meaning for me.    

“Just eat what you want, baby” I said, moving right past it.  My focus was on the menu, planning my point of attack.    

We were in Ristorante Lorenzo in the stylish seaside resort of Forte Dei Marmi, just down from Pietresanta on the Tuscan coast.  Versilia is the beautiful name Italians give to this region.   Lorenzo is not only the best restaurant in town but one of the most stylish, most satisfying in all of Italy.

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If you are looking for a most romantic place to celebrate an anniversary, holiday, or any day for that matter, then why not take a quick hop across one continent and one ocean to Paris. For centuries this has been the romantic center of the world regarded as such by those whose spirit soars with the magic of this beautiful city.

To wander through narrow winding streets happening upon gracious squares and fascinating houses under clear blue skies; meander along the banks of the river Seine, and over ancient bridges whose stones emanate the passing of history and all the colourful characters who have crossed; the wide avenues and soaring monuments, and immense museums storing great treasures from around the world.

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brendaage6.jpgLike a mother hen sweetly teaching their young how to find the water and food bowl is the way our Mother taught us how to appreciate the world of wonderful food that awaited us at a very young age. We were on our first trip to Europe, I was 6 and my sister was 11 when my mother became very ill in Paris. We were staying in the 5th Arrondissement at the Lutetia Hotel and as my mother faded in and out of consciousness she was worried that we needed to eat. She gave us money and told us that we weren’t allowed to – #1 not cross any streets and #2 we had to hold each other’s hands. We could eat what ever we wanted and we were armed with plenty of francs.

On our first sojourn, we happily discovered a precious little Bistro with a delightful French female owner that surely must have wondered what the story was with the two small hungry American children popping into her restaurant hand in hand. But all curiousness aside, her mission was to feed us and introduce us to French food and maybe our story would unfold. For three days we visited morning, noon and night always hand and hand. As we waited for our meal she placed a tiny kitten in each of our hands to help pass the time until we ate and to make us feel at home.

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lisasunset.jpg Every other year for the past 10 years my husband and I make the long and arduous trip from Los Angeles to Bangor, Maine for a week’s vacation at his family’s camp on Lake Pushaw. There’s nothing like relaxing on the dock with a nice glass of wine and listening to the Red Sox games on the radio. Usually we have to stop in New Hampshire or Massachusetts to get anything remotely drinkable because, in past years, the wines found in the grocery store were for emergency use only.

Always on the lookout for wine shops with a wide selection and affordable prices – it’s my  not-so-secret obsession – I noticed a listing for the Bangor Wine & Cheese Co. on the Bangor city website and was intrigued. I still stocked up in MA before we left, because we couldn’t be left high and dry. A week is a long time without good wine.

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DeathValleySignRight up front let’s just say Death Valley is not a destination trip for foodies. Don’t fool yourself for a minute on that score. Death Valley is where you go to see extraordinary beauty, hike mind blowing rock formations, find God or ingest mushrooms (not particularly in that order), but one does not go for culinary arousal. Not that you can’t eat well and enjoy some surprisingly good meals but as my illustrious travel companion (i.e. foodie daughter) pointed out, that is because we weren’t expecting much.

Having said that, Death Valley is an absolute must see. Take it off your bucket list and move it straight to your “to-do” list. Now. The shame about Death Valley is its name. And the older one gets the less fun it is to say, “I’m going to Death Valley.” It was my daughter’s idea. At 63, I couldn’t bring myself to suggest it. Palm Springs was the closest I could come on my own. And we all know whose waiting room that place is!

My daughter, home from the east coast, freezing east coast, I should say, in between jobs and exploring her options (read sleeping & being fed by mom) could have proposed Bosnia as a mother/daughter road trip and I would have blurted my “Yes” out. Death Valley sounded perfect! For those who have never experienced a mother/daughter road trip, once the daughter half of the team is over 21, it is a wonderful thing! Totally different from those nightmare road trips back in the day when they were teenagers and being in the car with them for more than ten minutes gets ugly. A road trip? Only a total masochist on a pain run would attempt it.

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