Showing posts with label Victoria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Victoria. Show all posts

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Top Ten Things to Do This Summer and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new film "Lucy," DVDs "The Beautiful Person," "Le Weekend" and the book "The Untethered Soul" by Michael Singer and I also weigh in on how I am doing with my project of shaking up my life by instilling a new habit every month for the next year. Check out how I'm doing]

But First

Top Ten Things To Do This Summer

Ah, summer.  We are in the midst of a gorgeous summer here in Seattle.  Sometimes it arrives kicking and screaming-but when it does get here, it is glorious. 
Now we get to enjoy our two months of nice weather before hunkering back down into the gloom.
But let’s not think about that right now.  Let’s talk about fun and (mostly) cheap things you can do to enjoy what Seattle and its environs have to offer this summer. 

And if you don't live near Seattle, hopefully you will come out to visit or some of these ideas will spark your enthusiasm for your own part of the world.

My daughter and her husband are coming to visit this month, so I am thinking about all of the fun things we can do together.
All of these activities have been personally tested by yours truly,  so I can attest to the fun you will have!

Seattle Stair Walking.

I adore outdoor steps, especially the hidden little gems that populate Seattle (San Francisco has them, too). 
If you have been reading my blog, you know that Hubby and I climbed and descended all of the steps in "Seattle Stair Walks" by Jake and Cathy Jaramillo.
It took us a year to do all 23 walks, but it not only helped us learn more about Seattle, it was fun and healthy alone time for us.  Well, the Happy Hour after was probably not so healthy, but we had to have some kind of reward for all of those stairs.

Eat Your Way Through Pike Place Market.

Granted you can do this any time of the year, but on a sunny day it’s just that much more fun.  Get there early to watch the Market come alive.  Grab an espresso at the original Starbucks (before it is full of tourists) and a piroshky from the Piroshky bakery a couple of doors down.  For lunch, restaurants abound, and later have a martini on the deck at the Pink Door and take in the view and the sun. There are a wealth of options for dinner, but a personal favorite is the Steelhead Diner (can’t resist the poutine).  Walk past the gum wall to the Alibi Room for a nightcap and some people watching.  If movie people are in town you might catch a famous face. In between eating at the Market, you can watch flying fish, shop for produce and crafts, listen to street musicians, and take a picture with Rachel the Pig.

Take the Clipper to Victoria.


“More British than Britain,” Victoria is one of my most special places. 

I have my little rituals – mussels at Santiago’s Cafe, buy a supply of tea at Murchies, head over to Munro’s Books (one of the last great independent book stores) to buy an autobiography of some obscure British television actor who only I have heard of published only in the UK, take the “putt putt boat” across the Inner Harbour (note my British spelling) to Barb’s for the best fish & chips, tea at the James Bay Tea Room (locals laugh at you if you have tea at the Empress, but you have to do it at least once), but definitely drinks at the Bengal Lounge in the Empress, take in the lights that outline Parliament at night and walk, walk, walk.  You don’t even have to spend the night if you don’t want to. You can get on the Clipper at 8am in Seattle and be in Victoria by 10:30 in the morning and have the whole day to enjoy Victoria and then go home in the evening.  A little bit of England just a few hours away.

Water Taxi to West Seattle.

Hop the King County Water Taxi over to West Seattle for killer views of the City. There is a free bus to take you to “The Junction,” the heart of West Seattle and then you can wind your way back on foot to Alki Beach (more stairs, too!)

Ballard Locks and the Fish Ladder.
 I will never forget the first time I visited the locks.  My husband, my children and I were visiting Seattle for the first time and went to the locks to see the salmon make their way up the fish ladder.  There we were, noses pressed to the glass awaiting the leaping, flying salmon as they made their way up the ladder. We waited and waited and waited.  Nothing.  Finally, along came one lone little minnow who reminded me of Don Knotts in "The Incredible Mr. Limpet." 

On a recent visit, however, Hubby and I were rewarded with a salmon jumping so high it almost hit Hubby in the head. However, salmon or no salmon, the locks are situated in a beautiful park and as you walk across the locks, you can watch a lock fill up, chat with the boat people as they wait and then make your way over to the Magnolia side for a pleasant walk around the neighborhood. 

Take your dog to an off-leash dog park.

Or if you don’t have a dog, go anyway.  It’s a hoot.  Or should I say a woof!

You can watch a Yorkiepoo try to provoke a Great Dane, a white fluffy Bichon Frise roll around in the dirt and German Shepherds chasing Frisbees into the water and then shaking the water off onto their owners.  A personal favorite is the scene around the communal drinking bowl.  Have you ever noticed that when a dog looks up after drinking out of a bowl, water continues to ooze out of both sides of its mouth. They are so ridiculously unselfconscious! (Particularly noticeable with a collie, and she knows who she is). And along with the canine shenanigans, dog parks are often in prime locations. Edmonds has one right on the Sound; and the one at Magnuson Park in Seattle is ginormous.  Your little Fido could think he was a free dog there.
(And for you etymologists, yes, ginormous is a word and made it into the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2009. It’s definition?  Humongous. )

Snoqualmie Falls.
Lovely drive into the foothills. For those of you who are of a certain age, it is difficult to not think of the TV show “Twin Peaks” when standing near the Salish Lodge overlooking the Falls.  As the mist rises, so do images of the dancing dwarf and FBI Special Agent Cooper drinking his cup of “damn fine coffee.” If you snag a seat by a window in the restaurant, you will have a wonderful view while dining.

Wine Tasting and Concerts in Woodinville.

When I moved here eight years ago, there was Chateau Ste.Michelle and the Columbia Winery.  And the tastes were free.  Now there are something like 300 wineries populating the Woodinville area and tastings are anything but free unless you are a member.  But on a lovely day, there is nothing finer than a stroll on the grounds of the Chateau, discovering a new wine tasting room or a new wine.  Just be wary of “palate fatigue,” if you know what I mean. 
The Chateau also hosts music concerts in its outdoor venue, a gorgeous setting to listen to music while drinking that wonderful wine.


The last time my daughter and her husband visited we rented kayaks at Aqua Verde and ventured out into "The Cut" toward Lake Washington.  Not long into the trip, Hubby lost control of the foot rudder and we had to manage on our own. We were sharing the waters with much bigger boats.  I think they could hear me yelling at Hubby all the way to Bellevue.  My first and last kayaking adventure.  But I know you all are much more brave than I.
A mere 20 minute ferry ride and you are in a rural paradise (though in the summer, lines to get ON the ferry can be long.  Plan accordingly). Miles of beaches, wineries, good food and lovely, historic towns like Langley and Coupeville.  You know those Penn Cove mussels you love you much?  They are from here.


No Matter Where You Live, Visit Your Library. Make it a destination.
Your local public library has all kinds of summer activities.  Take your child or grandchild and have some fun summer adventures sharing the joy of reading.
 What summer fun are you looking forward to?

Now on to The Week in Reviews
***In Theatres Now***


This Sci-Fi thriller explores what could happen if humans were able to use 100% of their brains while juxtaposing that with drug-smuggling Taiwanese gangsters.

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), currently living in Taiwan, finds herself involuntarily involved in a drug smuggling operation.

Her boyfriend of about a minute, Richard, forces her to deliver a briefcase to a Mr. Jang by handcuffing her to the briefcase. Jang and his gang of thugs then turn her into a drug mule by planting a bag of CPH4 into her and three other men's stomachs (CPH4 will be explained in the film, so I don't need to do it here).  When Lucy's bag of drugs is dislodged by an over amorous and brutal goon, the drug starts to leak into her system and takes her brain from the usual 10% usage we humans supposedly and arguably only use to an ever-increasing amount as the film progresses and eventually to 100%, turning her into a superhuman, capable of unimagined strength and knowledge.  With that as her weapon, she goes in search of Mr. Jang to seek revenge.  But when she realizes the drug will also kill her, she seeks out the preeminent mind on brain function, Dr. Samuel Norman, played by Morgan Freeman (what movie ISN'T he in?), to help her make sense of her gift and whose lecture about the human brain parlays back and forth from the action at the beginning of the film.

Writer/Director Luc Besson ("La Femme Nikita," "The Fifth Element") has combined a bit of Quentin Tarantino (I had my hands over my eyes for the first half hour)  and a bit of "2001: A Space Odyssey" to create a tense thriller with an examination of what constitutes existence and humanity. He has created another strong female like Nikita and Scarlett does not disappoint.  She starts out as a sort of air-head slutty girl and turns into a mental superhero. The film is all about her. It is a tour de force.

True to his "Transporter" roots, Besson also treats us to a fantastic car chase through the streets of Paris that can only be imagined as CGI or some other special effects - if not, how could Paris officials agree to a car chase like that?  The sequence through the pedestrian arcade was amazing - I think I walked through that one - and when Lucy was driving against traffic, it was spectacular.

My one irritation was the montages of animals mimicking the action and during Freeman's lecture.  I'm not a fan of that stuff and I don't need to be bonked on the head to know that our Lucy is a reference to the "famous Lucy fossil."

Rosy the Reviewer says...whether or not you think this is believable, you will be gripping the arms of your chair while you try to decide.  Thrilling.
 See it in Imax.

                                   You Might Have Missed
                        And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
                         (I see the bad ones so you don't have to)



La Belle Personne (The Beautiful Person) (2008)


Sixteen-year old Junie changes high schools mid-year, following the death of her mother, and goes to live with her cousin Mathias, who introduces her to his friends. All the boys want to date Junie, especially Otto, but her real attraction is to the lothario Italian teacher, Nemours. 
This French film, adapted from the classic French novel “La Princesse de Clèves,” by Madame de Lafayette (1678 ) and directed by Christophe Honore explores the illusion of love and whether or not enduring love is possible.

When we first meet Nemours, who looks young enough to be one of the students, he is having an affair with another teacher and a student.  Junie's cousin, Matthias is having a secret affair with Martin and they fear exposure from a love letter that fell out of Martin's pocket. Otto, another student, loves Junie and when he is rejected by her, jumps off the third floor balcony of the school, all the while lip-synching the lyrics to a French pop tune.  Strange.

When Nemours becomes love struck with Junie, he breaks off his other affairs to concentrate on her, but Junie fears that love won't last and gets the hell out of Dodge.

If you are a fan of French films, then you get how they roll - all very New Wavy, not a lot happens, but it's all very deep and moody with French pop tunes playing in the background while people look off into the distance.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I can tell I am getting to the bottom of my Netflix queue.  You can pass on this one. (subtitles)

Le Weekend (2013)

A British couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary return to Paris to try to rejuvenate their failing marriage.

Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan play Nick and Meg, a married couple who you can tell right away have "issues."  They have fallen into a pattern of insult, boredom and taking each other for granted.  This weekend is meant to be a time to find each other again.

It begins with Meg objecting to their room because the bathroom is too beige.  So Meg impulsively changes hotels to one very much more upscale than the original and when Nick tells Meg he has been forced to retire from his professorship for saying something inappropriate to a black student, it becomes apparent that they can't afford this hotel.  The weekend continues with their running out of a restaurant without paying and other shenanigans, all of the while Meg insulting Nick and Nick trying to get Meg to love him.  Meg seems to have great contempt for Nick.  These are not pleasant people.

Both Nick and Meg have had teaching careers and they have two sons.  But when Nick runs into an old school chum, Morgan, (Jeff Goldblum, who overdoes it a bit here), who appears to be everything Nick is not - successful, optimistic, and he has a young, pregnant wife - Nick is moved to deliver a dinnertime soliloquy about the disappointments of his life.  But the film ends where it began.  Nick and Meg are still together.  A long marriage can be a strange dance.

Hanif Kureishi ("My Beautiful Laundrette" and "Sammy and Rosie Get Laid") wrote the screenplay, and I know he's edgey, but with Roger Michell ("Notting Hill") directed so, I was expecting the charm of "Notting Hill" and instead got "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." 

This film is a testament to what a long marriage is:  tender, cruel, boring, exciting, recriminations and reconciliations, but this film is not exactly an endorsement and not exactly entertainment. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...Broadbent and Duncan are wonderful actors and they do a great job showing the ups and downs of a long marriage.  But that doesn't mean this is a pleasant film to watchIf you are expecting a "mature" version of "Notting Hill," you will be disappointed.
***Book of the Week***
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer (2007)
 More on the quest for inner peace.

I first heard of Michael Singer when Oprah interviewed him on her "Super Soul Sunday" show.  I was so impressed I had to buy his book as I continue my own journey to enlightenment.

It's not an easy concept - that your thoughts are not you.  He likens the voices in your head to an unruly roommate.  Would you really be friends with someone who says the crazy things your mind says?  Would you listen to that person?

Singer hopes to free us from those voices that cause us so much pain.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Learn how to put an end to the habitual thoughts and emotions that hinder you by tapping into meditation and mindfulness to dwell in the present moment. It's only 181 pages. A small price to pay for enlightenment, wouldn't you say?

UPDATE: If you have been following my blog, you know I wrote a post on my 66th birthday called "Today is the First Day of the Rest of My Life," where I talked about wanting to shake up my life a bit and instill some new habits.  For July, I said I would NOT order my usual Starbucks drink, but rather anything but...try some new ones.  AND I DID IT!  I did not order a Tall Skinny Vanilla Latte once.  I tried hazelnut, caramel and my new favorite, cinnamon dolce. 

Now it's on to August, month #2, where I said I would moisturize every day! I know, but this new habit thing isn't easy.  Check back next month to see if I did it! 

That's it for this week!

Thanks for reading!
See you Tuesday for
"It Seemed Like a Good Idea At The Time"

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, 
email it to your friends and
LIKE me on Facebook at

Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 
Here is a quick link to get to all of them.  Choose the film you are interested in and then scroll down the list of reviewers to find "Rosy the Reviewer."
Or you can go directly to IMDB.  
Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list. Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

10 Places I've Seen Before I Died

[I review the movies "The English Teacher," "Oblivion," "How to Survive a Plague," "I Wish," Shirley Jones' memoir and comment on food and fashion.]

But first

This now classic travel guide calls us to exotic places and experiences, but as a retiree, it's unlikely I will get to Robert Louis Stevenson's home in Samoa or Namibia's Skeleton Coast or stay at The Ritz before I die (unless I win the lottery) -- but, I guess, you never know. 

However, I have been to Balzac's house in Paris, climbed the "The Old Man of Coniston" in the Lake District (England) and lived in an apartment in Venice.

With the exception of a cross country trip in the 1970's, my traveling life began in the mid-1980's.  I have been to England countless times, in most part because hubby's work took him there frequently.  I have also been to Europe many times, especially to Sweden, because my son studied there, and I have relatives there.

Since my humble blog cannot compete with the "1000 places" book, and I can't possibly recount all of the great travel experiences I have had while traveling without it also turning into a book, I have pulled out the ten places I have seen before I died -- the ones that were stand-out experiences and hopefully some of these might be experiences you would like to recreate for yourself.

So won't you join me
 as I share some of my own
"Places You Must See Before You Die?"

1.  Tallin, Estonia, from Stockholm by overnight ferry.

I was warned by a colleague not to go to Tallin on the weekend because that was where the Finns and the Swedes go to drink.  I guess it was a sign as we got off the subway and walked to the ferry that hordes of people were getting off the ferry that had just returned from Tallin, pulling pallets piled high with cases of beer -- and getting on the subway with them! 

You see, it is very expensive to drink in Sweden.  Not so much in Tallin, so it was a destination for Swedish folk, much like our going to Costco to stock up, I guess, except it involved a boat ride.

The overnight ferry to Tallin is actually a smaller version of a cruise ship, with all of the requisite amenities.

So we had a lovely stateroom with a view of the sea.  We spent some time up on deck enjoying the sunny day and an adult beverage, and then took our seats for dinner. 

After dinner, we headed to the main stage area where the Cruise Director was giving out information on the evening's entertainment. After discovering that not much was going on there except little children writhing around on the dance floor, we decided to explore more of the ship. It dawned on me that we were the only Americans on board. 

When we discovered a bar that was going to have karaoke, Hubby's ears perked up.  As an aspiring rock star, he is always up for a bit of karaoke.  I have fond memories of him back in the day blowing the audience away with his version of "You Put a Spell on Me."  So he signed up.

The show began with a matronly woman who appeared to be a regular.  Her specialty was Estonian folk songs.  We couldn't figure out why mushrooms appeared on the video behind her while she was singing.  Was she singing about mushrooms?

Then it was Hubby's turn. 

He sang Tom Jones' "You Can Keep Your Hat On," complete with gyrating hips and footwork.

He was followed by a couple of other locals. 

Then it was the folk song lady again.  More mushrooms on the video screen.  Must be an Estonian thing.

Then Hubby came on again and sang Roxy Music's "Love is a Drug."  Now the audience was growing and he was getting big applause.




Then the Cruise Director came over to our table and asked Hubby to close the evening.  She was clearly impressed.  He closed the evening with the full version of "Bohemian Rhapsody."  You had to have been there.

As he was leaving the stage to full applause and whistles, I could see a woman approaching him and touching his arms.  Later Hubby told me she had asked him, "When will I see you again?  Will you be on the boat coming back?"

Hubby, in full rock star persona, said, "I can't.  I'm here with my wife," to which the poor woman replied, "No, no, no.  I just wanted to hear you sing again."

Later we were joined by a young Swedish man who was Hubby's first Swedish groupie.  He complained about the Mushroom Lady, who I guess is always on the boat and couldn't stop gushing about Hubby.  He also seemed to like the United States too, which was refreshing.

One thing about Sweden:  almost everyone speaks English.  I was astonished the first time I turned on the TV and Oprah was on without Swedish subtitles.  Hubby's theory is that there are 6,000,000 people in Sweden speaking Swedish, a language no one else speaks but them.  If they don't learn English, they won't have anyone else to talk to!

Tallin is a the oldest capital city in Northern Europe and has never been razed or pillaged.  It's a medieval town, but when you discover the disco across the street doesn't even open until 11am, you know it's a party town!  At our hotel, we had a disco on one side of us and strippers on the other!

2.  Paris

What can I say?  Paris is, well, Paris.  The whole City is an experience, but once you have done the museum and the usual sights, here are a couple of special experiences:

***Pont des Arts Bridge AKA "Lover's Bridge***
It's my understanding that this is becoming a phenomenon all over the world, but Paris is for lovers so this is THE place.  You bring your "Love Lock", you lock it to the bridge, kiss, and toss the keys into the Seine to symbolize your unbreakable love.  Awwww, I know.  But we have almost 30 years to celebrate.  Must be somethin' goin' on there.

If you forget to bring your lock with you, I noticed you could buy one right there on the bridge, which cheapened it a bit for me. 

So that my children and friends can find our lock, I specifically counted the poles on the bridge.  The lock is toward the center of the bridge around the 4th pole on the left as you walk toward the Left Bank. I wanted to be able to describe where it was so others can find it when they go to Paris. 

Think they will?


The Rue de Rosiers in the Marais is a special street unto itself but is made even more special if you stop at the window where the fellow makes you a crepe while you wait. 

This last time I had a Nutella and banana.  Yum. 

While we were waiting, a young woman approached us.  She was not only American, but from Seattle, and had been living in Paris for several months.  She noticed Hubby's ever-present Mariner's cap (I know, I try to get him to stop wearing the damn thing, especially in Europe.  Gee, do you think people can tell we are Americans?).  Anyway, she was very sweet and just wanted someone to speak English with.  But in so doing, she also recommended a lovely restaurant called Chez Robert et Louise, which turned out to be a wonderful Parisian experience that we would not have otherwise had.  So don't underestimate those short but sweet interactions with those you encounter when you are traveling.

3.  Oxford, England by way of a narrowboat on the Oxford Canal

Who would think this would turn out to be one of our most wonderful vacations?

As the Anglophile that I am, I subscribe to a few magazines devoted to the UK.  I read an article about renting a canal boat in England.  I had also seen them in the canal in the town where we mostly stayed when Hubby was in England for business and the idea fascinated me.

We invited my Swedish cousin, Jane and her then boyfriend, Lars (they are now married), our daughter and my sister.  We all met in Oxford and headed out to secure out boat, "The Damselfly," which we had reserved months before.

When we arrived, we didn't realize we had to schlepp our bags over several boats to get to ours.  Did I really need one suitcase just for shoes?  I was beginning to question this whole idea.

When we were situated on the boat, which had three bedrooms, two bathrooms and everything we would need, we were given brief instructions and off we went.  Hubby took the wheel which was outside at the end of the long boat. 

When we arrived at the first lock, there was immediate confusion.  Do you think the guys had read the instruction book on the counter?  No!

Daughter and Lars at a lock

I read the instructions, relayed them to the guys at the lock and off we went again. 

And then the rain came.

Since the driver has to be outside all of the time, this was not a good thing. Thankfully, there was only one day with rain and Lars had a flask for the driver.

You can't travel more than about two miles per hour.  There are signs all along the canal about the speed, especially when you pass people who are tied up to the bank and living on the boats.  One time Hubby cranked it up to 4 miles per hour and a boat resident came out and shook his fist at us.  He was probably making a cuppa tea and we rocked his boat!

But slowing cruising through the English countryside is bliss.  And I mean slow.  This was our itinerary.

Day 1
8.4 miles to Thrupp.

Day 2
7.7 miles to Lower Heyford.

Day 3
13.5 miles to Oxford Aristotle Bridge.

Day 4
6.7 miles to Eynsham Lock.

Day 5
1.5 miles to the Boathouse.

Total 37.8 miles in four days!

At night, we would tie up at a village pub, have dinner, get to know the locals and then head back to the boat where we drank wine and played music. 

My older sister, Posy, enjoying some down time.

When it came time to turn around, once again Hubby had not paid attention to the instructions. 

What is it with men and instructions/directions?

We knew we could only turn around at a wide place in the canal specifically for that purpose (called a "winding hole," pronounced as in the wind that blows, not the top you wind), but as usual Hubby had not read the directions and went in the wrong way, thus flummoxing his attempts to turn around.  With some help from the locals, we made it out.

Did we bump into things?  Duh.

The boat had no brakes - the only way to turn was to increase the engine and turn the rudder.  When we were heading back into the Thames to return the boat, the rudder would not turn the boat because of the wind coming from the direction Hubby was trying to turn into. So we kept going straight - right into the tree!  The rest of us were all sitting in the front talking and laughing when all of a sudden I saw a tree looming ahead.  Boom.  Into the bank we went.  Comes with the territory.  The boats are fitted with metal sides for just such occurrences and amateurs like us.

The last night, we tied up just outside of town, no one was near and we blasted our music and had a wonderful time finishing off all of the booze and singing "Red, red wine" at the top of our lungs.

Our ages ranged from 20-70, from three different cultures (Sweden and East and West Coasts of the U.S.), close quarters for four days and nary a cross word.

4.  Smaland, Sweden

My mother's parents both immigrated from Sweden at the turn of the century.  Most Swedish immigrants came from there as the land was so rocky it couldn't be farmed and there was a great deal of poverty. 

My mother went back to meet the relatives that remained and that is when she met my cousin, Jane.  Jane's grandmother was my mother's first cousin. Jane was a teen when she met my mother and really wanted to come to America and she did!  She stayed with my parents for a time (I had moved to California by then) and then found work as an au pair. 

I knew about this connection but had not met Jane.  However, when my son wanted to study in Lund, Sweden, I wanted to connect with Jane so my son had someone to call upon if necessary.  My mother and father were gone by then so I took some chances with some emails - "Are you the Jane who...?" and found her.  We arranged to meet and the rest is history. 

Jane has connected us to all of the remaining relatives who have all been welcoming and kind. 

We have been there several times to visit, but the highlight is always visiting the family home, where my grandmother was born in 1880.  It's still in the family, outhouse and all (would be tremendously expensive to put in indoor plumbing because of that rocky soil I mentioned earlier).

I can't tell you the feeling to be in that house, to walk down the road, to breathe that air that my grandmother did as she decided to leave her family and go to America. What made her decide to go off to America all by herself?  I wish I knew the whole story.  I do know that Jenny, my grandmother, went back to Sweden to visit and tried to get her sister (Jane's great-grandmother) to come back with her to America but she was afraid or her father wouldn't let her.  How that would have changed things for my cousin Jane!

5.  Vienna

Though we toured "The Ring," the Hofburg Palace and The Opera House, what I remember most is the art nouveau architecture.  We did quite a thorough tour of the many art nouveau buildings that were a protest against the historical style.

 But the most fun was the "Toilet of Modern Art."  

I made use of the facilities.

6.  Lower Slaughter, the Cotswolds, England

Here is my very favorite English village. 

I have been an Anglophile for as long as I can remember and read a book called "Life in Lower Slaughter" by Robert G. Deindorfer.  It was written in 1975 and painted the most idyllic picture of life in the English countryside. I had to go there. 

The second time I accompanied my husband on one of his business trips to England, since I had to entertain myself while he was working and I was in England, for god's sake, I finally got up the nerve to drive a car and went in search of this village. 

There is a walk you can do from Lower Slaughter to Upper Slaughter, through a sheep pasture, over some stiles and then around again on a country road.  I was all alone and couldn't believe that here I was, in this bucolic setting all alone in England. 

I have gone back there several times, each time encountering more and more people taking that walk.  The last time we stayed there overnight in the Washbourne Court Hotel (now The Slaughters Country Inn) and after dinner walked out into the foggy evening.  I get goose bumps just writing this.  There we were.  We had the sleepy, quiet town all to ourselves. 

I could pretend for a moment I lived there.

7.  Venice

All I can say, the canal does not stink, you can get away from the crowds and if you don't see Venice before it collapses into the sea, you will have missed one of the most magical cities in the world.

During one trip we stayed in an apartment with my son and his wife.  We were off the beaten track and could walk the narrow walled streets out to the little supermarket and feel like locals.  We were right across from a hospital so an ambulance would go by from time to time -- an ambulance boat, I might add.

Our View from our apartment.

A big thrill was having a drink at Harry's Bar. 

Though it's a bit of a tourist trap these days, I still felt in the presence of Hemingway and other expats who frequented the place and the staff was surprisingly friendly, which isn't often the case with famous places like this that have become meccas for tourists.  Like a tourist, I was craning my neck all around looking for celebrities, while trying to act and look like I was also one!

When we were there with our son and his wife, we sat near some young fellows who were drinking quite a bit and then all of a sudden there was a commotion and the bartender ran out.  Those fellows had run out without paying their bill. 

Must have been those prices!

8.  Prague

Here is another special City. 

One caveat: Some cabbies that pick you up at the train station are not honest.  So what happened?  Despite our knowing about this, we ended up in one of those.  When we arrived at the hotel, Hubby was enraged to find out how much the guy was charging us.  Our travel guru, Rick Steves, had offered that when this happens go into the hotel and report them.  Hubby did just that but the response in the hotel was "Welcome to Prague." Hubby was not amused. Needless to say, when we left, the hotel booked us an honest cab driver.

A highlight of Prague was the Jewish Cemetery. 

Twelve thousand headstones; 100,000 people buried in this small space.

I have a little work story about that.  When I worked as a research librarian, I was asked about the oldest grave in the cemetery.  A tourist had just been there but was not able to remember what that was.  This was pre-Internet days and searching through indexes and articles didn't help me.  However, I was able to find an email address for the gift shop at the cemetery.  I sent them an email saying "A librarian in the U.S. needs your help" and shortly after, I received a nice reply with the answer I needed.   The oldest grave belongs to the Prague rabbi and poet Avigdor Kara from 1439, just in case someone asks YOU that!

9.  Bruges, Belgium

This medieval city is a wonderful walking town.  Too bad it rained the entire time we were there! 

But we stayed in a gorgeous hotel - Grand Hotel Casselburgh (highly recommended) for a good price especially compared to what our hotels were like in Paris and London, for the same price.

We had fun interacting with the young bartender who wanted to open a Belgian Beer Bar in San Diego!  You know how I feel about young, er, good bartenders!

And then there was the Frites Museum!  According to them, our fries should be called Belgian Fries, not French Fries!

For a tour of Bruges while watching a really good film get In Bruges.

10.  Victoria, B.C.

Closer to home is one of my favorite cities. 

In fact, when we were contemplating our move from California to the Northwest, it was between Portland and Seattle and I voted for Seattle so we could be closer to Canada.

Now that we have been to Victoria many times and done the tourist things such as Butchart Gardens and tea at the Empress, I now have my routine.

We get to the hotel, walk around the Inner Harbor and then I head for Murchies to get my tea (they have the best tea ever and you can order online) and then over to Munro's Books, one of the last great independent book stores which was recently featured in "16 Bookstories You Have to See Before You Die."  (Do you sense a theme going on there?).  I am always looking for biographies and autobiographies of lesser known British actors that are rarely available in the U.S.

In the evening we have a drink in the Bengal Lounge, a recreation of England's Colonial era in the Empress Hotel

and stroll back to the hotel admiring the lights around Parliament.

In the morning we walk over to the best Starbucks in the world in Cook Street Village, where we can hobnob with the locals and pretend we are one of them.

Oh, I forgot to warn you.

"This list goes to 11.  It's one longer."

11.  Iceland

From Seattle, one of the less expensive ways to get to Europe is via Iceland on Icelandic Air.  And it comes with a stopover in Iceland in either direction where you can stay for as long as you like for no added expense.  So we availed ourselves of this one year. 

Iceland is like being on another planet

But it's such an interesting culture.  There are Icelanders who can read the Viking language because it is so close to Icelandic. 

Since there are no trees, the buildings are mostly tin imported from Norway. 

We rented an apartment and had a wonderful time, the highlight being swimming in the Blue Lagoon, a natural hot spring in the middle of a lava field. 

If you go, just know they want to make your stay easy.  They will pick you up at your hotel or apartment to transport you to some outdoor adventure and cater it with fine dining.  It's an outdoorsman's paradise.

I remember joking to Hubby, wondering if the Blue Lagoon had a swim-up bar. 
Guess what?

I have had so many wonderful travel experiences, it wasn't easy to choose which to share. 

But those are some special places I've seen before I died and now I need to work on those other 990!

If you had to pick your all-time favorite travel experiences, what would they be?

Rosy the Reviewer's
Week in Review


Really liked this film especially seeing Julianne Moore in a lighter role.  This also stars Nathan Lane who always makes me laugh.

Rosy the Reviewer enjoyable comedy with dramatic overtones that didn't get a lot of attention when it came out.  Worth a look.

Oblivion (2013)

Had no idea what was going on here. But keep your eye on Andrea Riseborough.  She starred in "Shadow Dancer," which I recently reviewed. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...Oblivion is where this film belongs. 
Sorry, Tommy.  I have always loved you but couldn't get my head around this one. 

Touted as one of the best documentaries of 2012, this history of the AIDS crisis reminds us of the stigma involved with this disease when it first came to light, a stigma so intense that hospitals were turning people away and no one was working to find the proper drugs to treat the disease.  But through activism things changed.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a case of the patient curing himself.  But we must not get complacent.  AIDS is still out there.  An important film.

I Wish (2012)

I wanted to like this film as I am a sucker for adorable children, especially highly animated, joyous kids.  In this Japanese film (and yes, subtitles), two little brothers who have been separated by divorce believe that if they make a wish at just the point that two bullet trains pass each other, their wish will come true.
So they and their friends make the trip.

Rosy the Reviewer says...slight premise and overlong but the child actors were delightful.


If someone can give me recipe that actually turns out well in a slow cooker I would be amazed.  So far everything I have made in a slow cooker has been tasteless and/or mushy.  The only reason I can think of to use something that takes 7-8 hours to cook is to have your food ready when you get home from work.  But if the food tastes bad, what's the point?  You might as well cook for an hour when you get home.

Rosy the Reviewer being retired and using a slow cooker an oxymoron?


Remember last week, I told you that a big trend for fall is "bedazzled black? " 

Well, aren't these hot?

Am wearing them to Hubby's and his partner's big rock & roll gig this weekend!

Rosy the Reviewer comments.  I am wearin' 'em. 
Now I need to start practicing my twerking!



"Shirley Jones: A Memoir"

And what a memoir it is.  Mrs. Partridge, we hardly knew ye!

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like celebrity autobiographies that dish the dirt, here it is right here.  Delicious!

---Stair walking...

Am starting to question why this falls into the "fun" category. 

On this last walk of 90 minutes, 2.6 miles and 588 steps down and 477 steps up, it occurred to me as I dragged my butt up step number 450 that it was surprising we were not more like Pavlov's dogs. 

Shouldn't we have an aversion to getting up and getting in the car to head to a stair walk when we know how much it is going to hurt? 


And yet we continue to do it. 

Must be the "No pain, no gain" principle.  

But if it has to hurt, then I like the pay off - the gorgeous views and the sense of accomplishment.

As we head down some stairs, we catch a glimpse of someone's deck.

Can you believe someone actually gets to live with that view?

Well, that's it for this week. 

See you next week when I plan to do an appreciation of Lifetime Movies. 
Or not.

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at