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COVER PHOTO: I took this shot just before our group camel ride in Wadi Rum, Jordan. The shot was nice, but the ride was a different story as you’ll find in the cover story of this issue. I used an Olympus EM-1 camera with an Olympus 12-40 mm 2.8 Pro lens. ~ Ron James



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publisher/executive editor


e’re getting ready for our next travel adventure, flying out in two days for Hawaii and then on to New Zealand and Australia. It seems as if we just got back from our last outing – six weeks of travel in the Middle East and Europe that ended right before Thanksgiving. Obviously we love to travel. But, we also love to be home as well. It’s our current yin and yang of living. The adrenalin rush of travel is addictive. Different cultures, politics, places and people – in fact just being “out there” invites thrills both good and bad. It also can be exhausting. Unpacking and packing, moving from place to place, coping with the unexpected take a physical toll after a couple weeks.

Ron James is the "wine, food and travel guy." He is a nationally award-winning print and online journalist, graphic designer., television producer and radio personality. The native Californian's nationally syndicated wine and food columns have appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world. He is passionate about great wine and food and enthusiastically enjoys them every day!

MARY JAMES publisher/editor

Then there’s the discovery of different cuisines and beverages. Yes it’s a top reason hopping on a plane or ship, but it too can be problematic, causing great discomfort for a few days. Being on the road also exposes you more sick people than you are likely to encounter if you didn’t travel. On a cruise, elevators, cafes and such can seem like hospital wards, given the cacophony of coughs, sneezes and nose blowing going on around you. Our beloved cat Shadow also is a bit confused by our prolonged disappearances – although we provide her with very loving house sitters, who make sure she gets her quota of kitty treats and playtime. Almost all travelers feel guilty about leaving their pets – especially when they curl up in your suitcase as you’re packing or follow you around the house with sad, accusing eyes. All traveling pet owners wish they could explain – “Don’t worry – we’ll be back soon.” So after three weeks or more travel adventure, the safety, normality and certainty of home becomes very attractive. Absence makes you appreciate home life and everything connected to it. You look forward to starting new projects, relaxing on the couch and petting a kitty. You yearn for the relative tranquility of no shore excursion mishaps or conversations with strange strangers at dinner. So travel makes home sweet home even sweeter, and life as a whole better. But as good as home can be, in two or three months the siren call of travel has us checking airfares and making hotel reservations. Pretty soon we’re packing our bags, again in the company of a sad eyed kitty.

Mary Hellman James is an award-winning San Diego journalist and editor. After a 29-year-career with the San Diego Union-Tribune, she currently is a freelance garden writer and a columnist for San Diego Home-Garden/Lifestyles magazine. Mary and her husband, Ron James, travel extensively. Upcoming next month is a four-week adventure in the land down under.

This issue illustrates all of these points – whether on a camel ride on “Mars” or tasting wine in Provence, visiting the royal yacht or pigging out on sausages and beer at a German Christmas Market. We hope you enjoy our stories and make some stories of your own on your next travel odyssey. We’re ready for another adventure, but we’ll

inevitably be looking forward to being back in our sweet home with our reluctantly forgiving cat Shadow. Have safe travels and happy homecomings, Ron & Mary

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Alison DaRosa Alison DaRosa is a six-time winner of the Lowell Thomas Gold Award for travel writing, the most prestigious prize in travel journalism. She served 15 years as Travel Editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune and was the award-winning editor of the San Diego News Network Travel Page. She created San Diego Essential Guide, a highly rated travel app for mobile devices. Alison writes a monthly Travel Deals column for the San Diego Union-Tribune and is a regular freelance contributor to the travel sections of the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and AOL Travel.

Sharon Whitley Larsen

Sharon Whitley Larsen’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Los Angeles Times Magazine, U-T San Diego, Reader’s Digest (and 19 international editions), Creators Syndicate, and several “Chicken Soup for the Soul” editions. Although she enjoys writing essays, op-ed, and people features, her favorite topic is travel (favorite destination London). She’s been lucky to attend a private evening champagne reception in Buckingham Palace to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, to dine with best-selling author Diana Gabaldon in the Scottish Highlands, and hike with a barefoot Aborigine in the Australian Outback. Exploring sites from exotic travels in the Arctic Circle to ritzy Rio, with passport in hand, she’s always ready for the next adventure!

Carl H. Larsen Carl H. Larsen is a veteran journalist based in San Diego. He now focuses on travel writing, and is summoned to pull out his notebook whenever there’s the plaintive cry of a steam locomotive nearby. In San Diego, he is a collegeextension instructor who has led courses on the Titanic and the popular TV series “Downton Abbey.”

Maribeth Mellin Maribeth Mellin is an award-winning journalist whose travel articles have appeared in Endless Vacation Magazine, U-T San Diego and Dallas Morning News among others. She also travels and writes for several websites including CNN Travel, and Zagat, and has authored travel books on Peru, Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, Hawaii and California. Though known as a Mexico pro, Maribeth has written about every continent and was especially thrilled by the ice, air and penguins in Antarctica.

Joanne DiBona Joanne DiBona does what she loves best….capturing the beauty of her home town, San Diego California as well as other visitor destinations around the world, through the eye of her camera. Joanne’s photos and articles appear on countless web sites as well as in guide books, magazines, newspapers, and brochures, both nationally and internationally. She is a contributor for USA TODAY/, where her photo essays from travels around the globe are featured. She is an active freelance travel writer and a member of the esteemed Society of American Travel Writers.

Priscilla Lister Priscilla Lister is a longtime journalist in her native San Diego. She has covered a many subjects over the years, but travel is her favorite. Her work, including photography, has appeared in the U-T San Diego, Los Angeles Times, Alaska Airlines magazine and numerous other publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. She currently writes a weekly hiking column for the U-T, photographing every trail and its many wonders. But when the distant road beckons, she can’t wait to pack her bags.

Robert Whitley Robert Whitley writes the syndicated “Wine Talk” column for Creators Syndicate and is publisher of the online wine magazine, Wine Review Online. Whitley frequently serves as a judge at wine competitions around the world, including Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, Sunset Magazine International and the Dallas Morning News TexSom wine competitions. Robert also operates four major international wine competitions in San Diego: Critics Challenge, Winemaker Challenge, Sommelier Challenge and the San Diego International.

Jody Jaffe & John Muncie Jody and John are the co-authors of the novels, “Thief of Words,” and “Shenandoah Summer,” published by Warner Books. John was feature editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune, arts editor of The Baltimore Sun and writer-editor-columnist for the travel department of The Los Angeles Times. His travel articles have been published in many major newspapers; he's a Lowell Thomas award-winner. Jody is the author of "Horse of a Different Killer,"'Chestnut Mare, Beware," and "In Colt Blood,” As a journalist at the Charlotte Observer, she was on a team that won the Pulitzer Prize. Her articles have been published in many newspapers and magazines including The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. They live on a farm in Lexington, Va., with eleven horses, three cats and an explosion of stink bugs.


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PUBLISHERS Ron & Mary James EXECUTIVE EDITOR /ART DIRECTOR Ron James EDITOR Mary James STAFF WRITERS Alison DaRosa Priscilla Lister John Muncie Jody Jaffe

COLUMNISTS Amy Laughinghouse Robert Whitley Susan McBeth

FEATURE WRITERS Sharon Whitley Larsen Carl Larsen Maribeth Mellin Photo by Ron James

Amy Laughinghouse Joanne DiBona

WINEDINEANDTRAVEL.COM CONTACT WDT respects the intellectual property rights of others, and we ask that our readers do the same. We have adopted a policy in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) and other applicable laws.

You never know who you’re going to run in to at the Chelsea Garden show in London. This couple found out that we were from WD&T magazine and asked to pose for it. They said it was their favorite travel magazine.

Wine Dine & Travel Magazine is a Wine Country Interactive Inc. publication @ 2016

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WADI RUM: WHERE THE MARTIANS ROAM Millions have seen it, but few have ventured to the closest you can be to Mars on earth. Wadi Rum, in Jordon, is barren, bleak and beautiful. The hit movie, “The Martian,” was filmed here, but it’s also a destination for those who love exotic landscapes and clear stary nights. They also can ride camels, but do so at their own peril.

CELEBRATING GERMAN CHRISTMAS MARKETS Envision yourself snuggled in woolens, meandering the cobbled streets of a snow-dusted medieval fairytale village. With a steaming mug of glühwein in hand.

FIT FOR A QUEEN The Britannia--one of the most famous ships in the world, and which has been rated the UK’s No. 1 Attraction for 2014-2015 by TripAdvisor--has been owned by the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust and berthed in Edinburgh’s Leith port. Via self-guided audio tours, some 300,000 annual visitors get to see how royalty once lived at sea.

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GLAMIS CASTLE The massive castle, generally dating from the late 14th century, has been added to and changed throughout the centuries. It has an amazing history. Originally it was a hunting lodge used by the kings of Scotland. Mary, Queen of Scots stayed here, and so did Scottish novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott.

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I’m a sucker for a narrow, winding cobbled lane. I’m always sure it will lead somewhere interesting. Usually, it does, and when I find whatever that is, I have my camera at the ready.


You can’t go to Texas without buying cowboy boots. Well at least one of us can’t. We’d just scored the perfect pair — cherry red boots with broncos bucking down the shins — when we heard a twangy version of Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” coming from South Congress Avenue.



THE FRENCH CONNECTION For wine enthusiasts, almost nothing is as exciting as visiting a new wine region. And there are no wine regions that stir the soul and prime the palate like the legendary vineyards of France.

THE GOWER | PAGE 78 In front and a bit above of me, paragliders rode the currents in their aerial ballet. Beyond, and somewhat lower was an expanse of broad sandy beach – virtually empty – arcing to the left for three miles with the sea gently sweeping in.

HEY-ON-WYE | PAGE 84 This charming market town in the Upper Wye Valley, on the border of England is a book lover’s dream! Nearly everywhere I turned—on most narrow streets, I spotted a secondhand bookstore.


MYSTICAL JOURNEY | PAGE 88 When I sat down to write my narrative of a remarkable small ship adventure cruise though Alaska’s Inner Passage, the adjectives “enchanting,” “magical,” “unbelievable,” “overwhelming,” and “awe-inspiring” coursed through my brain. I think I finally settle on “mystical.”

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s avid world travelers, my wife Mary and I are always on the lookout for exotic locales to visit. In the last few years we’ve traveled to breathtaking otherworldly places like the Ganges in India at sunrise; the ghostly limestone islands and caves of Vietnam’s Halong Bay, and the moonscaped lava fields of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. But our most recent trip topped the exotic scale -- we spent three days on Mars.


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Photos from The Martian. Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox


ell not exactly Mars; but we For decades this Valley of the Moon has visited a place that could – lured film makers seeking a stand-in for and has – passed for the Red Mars for space thrillers like “Red PlanPlanet. et,” “Mission to Mars” and “The Last Days of Mars.” Our destination was Wadi Rum, a nearly 300-square mile patch of stark, very Mar- Today movie fans are thrilled by the metian-like desert in southern Jordan. T.E. ga-hit “The Martian” where Matt DaLawrence, better known as Lawrence of mon plays a Mark Watney, an American Arabia, called Wadi Rum “vast, echoing astronaut and botanist forced to become and God-like.” an interplanetary MacGyver when he is stranded on Mars. Damon has earned a And the description fits its long desert val- lead actor Academy Award nomination, leys punctuated by spectacular red sand- but Wadi Rum, where key scenes were stone mesas and peaks that change colors shot, deserves an Oscar for best dramatwith the passing of the moon and sun. It’s ic location both amazingly beautiful and a little spooky.


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“We shot exteriors at Wadi Rum,” explained director Ridley Scott in an interview published in “To me, it’s the Eighth Wonder of the World. … And I didn’t do anything but shoot it at the right time, from the right positions, then added a bit of red dust to everything. So our film world looks pretty accurate — at least I’m hoping Mars looks a little like that.” A few months before we landed in Wadi Rum we had never heard of the place, it could have been a crater on Mars for all we knew. “The Martian” was new in theaters and promotional pics showed Damon sitting in the stark, red Mar-

Top right and left: Matt Damon in spacesuit sits on the same spot as Mary James facing opposite directions. Right: Film crew in Wadi Rum for the shooting of The Martian. Below: Matt Damon playing in the Martian sand.

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tian landscape. We never dreamed that Mary soon would be perched on that same spot. Martians and astronauts aren’t the only movie subject shot here. Perhaps no movie was as famous as David Lean’s work of art, “Lawrence of Arabia,” that recalled British office T. E. Lawrence’s many visits there during Arab uprisings at the turn of the 20th century. Getting There is Part of the Adventure Our group of adventurers car caravaned from Israel to Jordan, an eight-hour trip that passed though some of the most historic and iconic places on earth. Among them is the lowest point on earth (1,378 feet below sea level), home of the Dead Sea. To our eyes, it resembled California’s Salton Sea, though much larger, deader and sporting check points populated by very young bored men and women with very bad-ass guns. 16

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Top: The coast of the dead sea -- starkly beautiful. Right: Our caravan enters Wadi Rum on a narrow dirt road. Opposite: The imposing mountain of Masada in the distance as we made our way past the Dead Sea into Jordan.

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We skirted the Dead Sea cruising about 50 miles though the Jordan Rift Valley with Jordan visible across the Dead Sea on one side and stark mountains pockmarked with caves on the other. Along the way is the entrance to the Qumran Caves where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.

Top opposite: Bait Ali Camp taken at sunrise. Left: Guest checking into Bait Ali after a long ride from Israel. Right top: Entrance to Bait Ali Camp.

way to Wadi Rum and Petra. The border crossing into Jordan can be an ordeal as all papers are triple checked and fees are collected. It took our group a couple of hours to cross.

Across the border, we quickly weave through Aqaba and climb into large mountains, eventually passing through a Tired and shuttered seaside resorts dot barren wasteland of dirt and squat conthe sides of the well-maintained highway crete huts that may have been for the several hundreds of yards from the wa- goat herders and their families. We get ter. Yet that doesn’t seem to bother some a glimpse of what’s ahead as massive hardy tourists who hike to the sea to bob mountains and hills sculpted into fanin the alkaline water. The shrinking sea tastical windblown shapes rose from the is slowly leaving these once popular at- desert floor. tractions high and dry. When we made a pit stop at one, nasty sulfurous smells as- A small sign and a dirt road between saulted us, making anything at the snack two imposing sandstone plateaus led to bar less than desirable. our home for the next three nights, Bait Ali Lodge. The expansive resort was Back on the road, we passed the impos- flanked on one side by steep escarpments ing, and legendary mountain of Masa- of sculptured sandstone hills; the othda, which is climbed by many dedicated er sides merged into the endless desert young Israelis as a rite of passage. We sands and mountains. Even the kids in leave the Dead Sea for the biblical bad our caravan were silent as got out of our lands, the theoretical sites of the former cars and took in the enchanted panorama kingdoms of Sodom and Gomorrah -- that -- indeed -- looked a lot like Mars the good time communities that were de- -- with a deluxe Bedouin resort attached. stroyed by fire and brimstone. We didn’t see and fire or brimstone, although we Some visitors opt to just spend a day in did pass a massive horizontal rock col- Wadi Rum, and head for an overnight at umn (salt?) with a sign touting Lot’s Petra or go back to the ship for sail-away Wife. that night. But that would be a shame, because the place is at its magic best in After a few more check points we en- the mornings, evening and night. ter the Red Sea city of Aqaba, the only port city of Jordan and the tourist gate- There are a number of camps scattered

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though the area, all run by Bedouins, and all reflecting their history and culture to some degree. A few are the real deal, offering the “Bedouin� lifestyle to hardy tourists who don’t mind cold water, no-flush toilets and a mattress on the ground with a blanket and no sheets.

service. We found a perfect match at Bait Ali, which had accommodations ranging from elaborate tents with beds and shared showers and toilets to adobe looking cottages with king sized beds, modern baths and flat screen TVs. We chose the latter.

Still there was one glitch that made for After our experience at a similar camp in an uncomfortable first night. We noticed India, we look for creature comforts like a what smelled like pesticide when we first good bed, private bath with a flush toilet, entered the room. This was not unusual in heating and air conditioning and maid many of the countries infested with bugs


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we have visited -- and usually the pesticide smell dissipates in an hour or so. But when we returned after dinner, the smell was still strong even though I turned the air conditioning fan to high when we left. After a fitful night highlighted by burning sinuses and eyes, I went to the front desk and requested a move. Without any drama our luggage was moved into another cabin with the same amenities.

The offending cabin, we learned, was constructed of recycled wood, in this case scavenged from old railway ties soaked is creosote. This tar has serious consequences, I later learned from a Google search. I took two stars off my Trip Advisor review for the camp for the loss of a good night’s sleep -- it would only have gotten only one star if we had croaked.

group had the run of Bait Ali; but it also meant that the folk dancing and music programs usually held were missing. Instead, loudspeakers in the common areas played western pop hits mixed with some disco, which was a bit off putting considering the exotic surroundings. Other than that, the resort was beautiful, spotless and the staff was friendly and accommodating.

It was a bit off the tourist season so our

The room rate included a hearty buffet

breakfast that had an egg station and a chef making fresh Jordanian shrak bread, similar to very thin flour tortillas. Dinners had more Bedouin flare. Each night about dozen or more dishes or mezze were laid out for the buffet line including colorful and tasty salads and appetizers with equally colorful names like koubba maqliya, labaneh, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, as well as a wide assortment of olives and pickles.

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The star of the meal was wood-fired meats including chicken and lamb. Yogurt was served with every meal. We loved the traditional wood-pit roasted lamb, but didn’t get the ultimate Bedouin feast, stuffed camel which is served at weddings and grand occasions. This delicacy is composed of a medium-sized camel stuffed with a sheep or a lamb – kind of like a very large Turducken. Tea, coffee and juices were included with the meal. Unlike other camps in Wadi Rum, the dining area had a full bar that provided mixed drinks, wine and beer -- even Carakale from Jordan’s first craft brewery. Beer, by the way, was invented in the area by the Sumerians over 5,000 years ago. Bait Ali (which I think means Americans will pay anything for alcohol) charges a fair bit for their offerings, about the same as the Ritz Carlton, but without the peanuts. After dinner some of our group hopped into vans to visit the nearby observatory – but the rest of us just sip our pricey beverages and observe the universe without telescopes. The air is crystal clear and no city lights make the heavenly views just that. The Milky Way looked like a solid band of silver set with billions of diamonds; shooting stars evoke oohs and ahhs from the kids and grownups. The next morning, I arose early to shoot photos of Wadi Rum at sunrise. It was beautifully still and peaceful as I climbed up the narrow path up the butte that bordered the camp. A golden glow edged the mountains in the distance. At the top I surveyed the landscape below. In the distance, the village Clockwise from top: The tidy grounds of Bait Ali Camp; Adventurous family crossing natural sandstone bridges; Bedouin guides making tea; Father and daughter looking like they’re on Mars’; Mary James surveying our room; youngsters enjoying the Bait Ali Swimming pool.


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Bait Ali Camp guest begin to gather for the evening dinner. Below: Locally brewed craft beer from Jordan. Opposite top: Bedouin. Chef grill lamb and beef. Opposite bottom: Studio photo promoting Lawrence of Arabia starring Peter O’Tool and Omar Sharif.

of Wadi Rum sparkled with morning lights as the Bedouins were rising to get ready to entertain their guests with ATV, jeep and of course camel rides. There is a lot to do in Wadi Rum. Day trips in 4x4 trucks, SUVs and vans, driven by the local Bedouins in full native garb, took adventurers to an number of filming locations including The Transformers, Lawrence of Arabia and, of course The Martian. Because of my painful experience with a camel (story to come) that morning, I didn’t make our scheduled desert trek that day. But Mary did and that’s why you see her – not I sitting in the very spot Matt Damon sat on in the movie. I also missed a visit to the supposed home of T.E. Lawrence while he campaigned with the Bedouins so many years ago.


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Mary and our friends had a great time rolling around the giant red dunes and sipping tea with the Bedouin guides who told stories about their experiences

as part of the film crews in the recent movies. The braver families crossed the natural sandstone bridges sculpted by wind and weather over the past millennium. If I could have walked a bit better I would have loved to have been a part of the fun. Before I share the story of my camel ride, I want to recall one of the best actors of our time… and surly one of the most interesting off screen. Before our ride I remembered a PBS Terry Gross interview with him about his time in Wadi Rum where he starred as T.E. Lawrence in the 1962 film epic Lawrence of Arabia. “I loved the desert, I really did,” explain Peter O’Toole. “I was there three months before filming started and the idea was to learn to ride a camel. [It was] impossible. What you see is a European perched uneasily on the top of

this huge brute, snorting and galloping. of something in the saddle bag. I was ... I found after a while my bottom was quite comfy.” bleeding from bouncing up and down on this snorting great dragon.” “I went to Beirut buy sponge rubber and it was, I remember, mucous membrane pink. And I arrived back to my Bedouin friend with this lump of thick rubber and I stuffed it, shamelessly onto my saddle. ... But after a while they looked and they saw it was quite comfy, too, and they could bounce more easily on sponge rubber than you could on wooden hump, so they began to ask me to buy more.

I tell this story because unfortunately there seems to be a dearth of sponge rubber in Jordon or I must have inherit-

So I was requisitioning tons of this damn stuff, yards of it. I think I introduced sponge rubber into Arabian culture. ... They called me [in Arabic] ‘the father of rubber’… I had a transistor radio plugged into my ears and I had a cigarette going and I had a little bottle

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ed the same wooden saddle that bloodied O’Tool’s backside. This was not my first camel ride; we had a quite nice ride at the Pushkar Camel Festival in India a few years back. But this ride… this was the camel ride from hell. I must say that my Wadi Rum camel was a beauty – a pleasant face, long eyelashes and pretty friendly as camels go. But the saddle was made of wood featuring a 3 inch hardwood slat running down the middle from the horn to the butt end, all covered with a thin layer of cloth to disguise the terror to come. I knew there was something wrong when I first boarded the camel, which is an adventure in itself. But I said to myself, it’s only an hour ride, if the little kids in our group can handle it, I could do it.


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Our caravan headed out toward the lovely mountains shimmering in the desert heat. The first ten minutes were tolerable… I tried to take my mind off the meeting of my bottom with that hardwood board. Then the pain began to get serious and my prostate was getting the beating of its little life. The mountains began to get larger “my god,” I shouted to our Bedouin guide who was walking “we’re not going to those mountains are we?” He smiled a knowing smile and everyone laughed -- but me. Our guides, I guess, had decided to give us the deluxe long tour and we were at least 45 minutes out before they decided we had had enough and turned us around to head back to the camp. I wanted to cry. I tried to go into a Zen like state

Riders of all shapes and sizes take to their camels in the heart of exotic Wadi Rum. Top: The author, Ron James, pleading to the guides to cut this ride short to no avail.

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and that didn’t really help much… kind of like white knuck- 300 thread count sheets for the rest of the day. ling it during a root canal without pain killer. I was so relieved when we finally returned to the camp, I laughed slightly idi- In the end -- so to speak -- I felt close to Matt Damon, Peotically like I just had the time of my life. ter O’Tool and even Lawrence of Arabia. We had shared the same Wadi Rum. Our Wadi Rum adventure would be a memMy understanding camel tried to be a gentle as possible as it orable one, and good for a story and a laugh. We all experidid its thing to get me off its back. My legs were so weak and enced the isolation, beauty and adventure of Mars on Earth rubbery I could hardly walk back to our little hut in the desert -- only Damon didn’t have ride a damned camel. where I took a horizontal position on or king sized bed with 28

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Bait Ali Camp

Always check with the state depart- The camp is by far the most comfortment regarding the safety of areas in able in Wadi Rum and caters to Westthe Middle East. Visas can be issued at ern visitors. Reservations are strongly recommended. most entry points into Jordan.

Sunrise comes to the tiny village of Wadi Rum. Camel and 4WD vehicle tracks mark the way to tourist camps that provide the life blood for the Bedouins who live there. Wine Dine & Travel 2016 


Frohes Weihnachtsfest! (A Joyous Christmas Celebration!)


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Celebrating German Christmas Markets



nvision yourself snuggled in woolens, Frazzled and jet-lagged after flying from the west meandering the cobbled streets of a coast of the U.S. to Frankfurt, then hopping a train snow-dusted medieval fairytale village. to Baden, I checked in at Der Kleine Prinz hotel, With a steaming mug of glühwein in hand, unpacked my swimsuit, and walked straight to the you’re browsing festive stalls decked with Caracalla Spa. twinkling holiday lights, admiring hand-crafted wooden toys, one-of-a-kind ornaments and sam- Romans were the first to note the healing power of pling a cornucopia of seasonal eats. the thermal waters here – and two millennia later, the magic thrives. Baden means bath; 29 natural You’re dreaming of German Christmas markets. mineral-rich hot springs feed the town’s spas. During almost two weeks last December, I visited a Road weary, I sank into the warm, bubbling waters diverse collection of those markets. There are doz- at Caracalla’s big indoor/outdoor pool. I drifted laziens of them – in big cities, small towns and remote ly from station to station in the flow channel, leanvillages. Many date back to the middle ages. Each ing into massaging jets, comforting aching shoulvisit was unique, but all gave me the opportunity to ders under soothing waterfalls. I allowed my brain mix with locals and enjoy the Christmas traditions to breathe; stress dissipated into the starry Black and treats they know and love. My trip was enrich- Forest sky. ing, enlightening and just plain fun – a perfect holiday gift to myself. Back inside, I sampled the aromatic stream bath, a brine inhalation room and an upstairs sauna extravBaden-Baden in southwestern Germany was the aganza. By then, the tangled knots of long-distance perfect place to start. The town has a compact, economy class travel had slowly, deliciously unravclassy Christmas market, a bounty of cultural at- eled. For dessert, I treated myself to a 30-minute tractions, multiple Michelin-starred restaurants – back massage. Pure bliss. and an array of thermal spas.

Food and drink vendors (left) in Nuremberg provide warm sustenance for Christmas Market shoppers. At Garmisch –Partenkirchen in the Bavarian Alps, the small Christmas market offers a colorful collection of hand-crafted wooden toys. Wine Dine & Travel 2016 


Baden-Baden’s Christmas Market offers something for everyone: Sausages, grilled on an open fire, (clockwise from above) Santa’s arrival in a hot air balloon, fresh-fried langos frosted with Nutella and a wide assortment of artisanal charcuterie from local chefs.

I hit Baden’s Christmas market the next day full of energy – and vowing to kickstart every long-haul trip with a spa visit. Set in Lichtentaler Allee gardens, at the foot of the town’s glamorous old casino, Baden-Baden’s Christkindelsmarkt is pure delight: a wintry wonderland of shimmering lights, open-air entertainment and 110 festively decorated stalls offering everything from locally crafted lambskin slippers to sugar-dusted waffles and Nutella-frosted langos (deepfried flatbread). Visitors savor the magic as they inhale the scent of pine mingled with aromas of roasted nuts, grilled sausages, cinnamon and yeasty fresh-baked breads. 32

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Everything offered at the market is juried – so shoppers find quality and variety. A sommelier even comes early in the season to choose the best mulled wine. Daily entertainment, on an open-air stage, ranges from Christmas caroling by local school children to big band performances. One afternoon I applauded St. Nick as he arrived by hot air balloon to distribute gifts to wide-eyed youngsters. Another time I watched children up to their elbows in dough, making their own Christmas cookies. I gave myself four full days in BadenBaden – and wished I allotted more time. The town is a cultural arts cen-

ter. When I wasn’t Christmas marketing, I inspected jeweled treasures at the Faberge Museum, wandered among modern and contemporary masterpieces at the Richard Meier-designed Frieder Burda Museum, even lucked out and landed a seat at a Cassandra Wilson concert at Festspielhaus, Germany’s largest concert hall, opened in 1998 in the former Baden-Baden railway station. Of course, I saved time for another dip into Baden-Baden’s thermal waters. This time I chose an afternoon at historic Friedrichsbad, a Roman-style bath where swimsuits are verboten. For nearly 140 years, it has been a bathing temple. Mark Twain swore he lost his rheumatism here, and described the

place this way: “Here at the Friedrichsbad, you lose track of time within 10 minutes and track of the world within 20....” Baden-Baden would be a hard act to follow, but the next morning I was off to the train station. Destination: Nuremberg. The first written record of the Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt dates to 1628. Since then it has become one of the most popular holiday markets in Europe, drawing about 2 million visitors each December to this city of 500,000. There are actually three Christmas Wine Dine & Travel 2016 



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The 14th century Frauenkirche (“Church of Our Lady�) is the backdrop for the popular Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany. More than 2 million visitors join the festivities each year.

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Claudia Siegel-Weiss offers a sample of Nuremberg Lebkuchen, the city’s famous gingerbread. The sweet and spicy treat has been a holiday tradition for more than 600 years. “Prune people” are another local sign of Christmas – dried plums and nuts decked out in winter attire. Kids get into the spirit making cookies at the Nuremberg Children’s Christmas Market.


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markets in Nuremberg – all within a few steps of each other in the heart of the city’s old town. The main market includes 180 stalls, assembled in long rows under redand-white-striped awnings, in the city’s historic market square. “There are 200 vendors on the waiting list,” said Ingrid Petermann, a city guide. “We have limited space; if we spread out to more space, it just wouldn’t be the same atmosphere. In the 17th century there were 140 booths.” Multiple stalls offer food and drink – the city’s famous gingerbread (Lebkuchen) and of course, sausages and glühwein. I quickly learned two important lessons: A Nuremberg brat is no ordinary sausage. It must weight 20-25 grams (less than an ounce) and be 7-9 centimeters (about 3 inches) long. “This makes them good; they’re so roasty crusty,” said Nuremberger Karola Gartner. “The rules have been around for 700 years.” These are the only sausages you’ll find at the Nuremberg Christmas market – usually served three to a bun. The second lesson: As temps dip at night, a steaming mug of hot mulled wine is an excellent hand warmer. And a pretty good body warmer, too.

Steps away, the Markt der Partnerstadt (Sister Cities Market) adds international flair to Nuremberg’s holiday scene. About two dozen cities from around the world – from Atlanta to Venice – sponsor stalls offering arts, crafts and foods from their home nations. Venice did brisk business selling masks and pizza; Atlanta fans lined up for Jack Daniels and Jim Beam. “All Partnerstadt profits go to charity,” Petermann explained. “That’s what Christmas is about – or should be about, isn’t it?” Nuremberg’s Kinderweihnact, its children’s Christmas market, is its youngest. It began in 1999 – and offers a wide selection of family friendly fun: old-fashioned kiddie rides, yummy eats and hands-on adventures such as decorating and baking gingerbread cookies. It’s magical fun. I spent my last night in Nuremberg soaking up more magic: the Nuremberg Opera’s production of "Hansel & Gretel.” This opera is a holiday tradition for Nuremberg families; even on a Monday night, every seat in the century old opera house was filled – many by children. For a few hours, I became part of the family.

Only authentic handcrafted items are permitted for sale at Next stop: Munich. Nuremberg Christmas stalls. Mass-produced kitsch is a sure ticket to banishment. Even canned music is prohibited here – Silly me. I allotted only two nights here, but needed way more so what visitors hear is real: brass bands, choirs, laughter and time. Munich has 22 “official” Christmas markets. They’re the squeals of excited children. spread all over town, including at the airport. Plus, there are

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dozens more small neighborhood markets. About 3 million visitors join the celebration each December. The best place to start is the city’s Main Market, aglitter against the neo-gothic backdrop of the historic town hall, where the market tradition began in the 14th century. More than 100 wooden stalls here still sell predominantly Bavarian crafts and foods. Aromas of sizzling bratz, roasting nuts and freshmade crepes permeate the air. It’s hard to tell where one market stops and another begins in Munich’s old town. The Main Market bleeds into the Kripperlmarkt, which has been selling exquisite handcrafted manger scenes (and accoutrements) since 1757. The savory scent of spit-roasting pig is a sure sign you’ve reached the Medieval Market. Steps away, the carefree effervescence of little voices means you’re approaching Weichnachtsdorf der Residenz, a magical children’s Christmas village. Just beyond, at the town hall’s “Heavenly Workshop,” staffers from the city’s Children’s Museum help kids 6-12 years old craft holiday gifts, bake gingerbread cookies – and get into the holiday spirit by dressing up as Christmas angels. It’s all free. Across town at the Chinaturn Market, children learn traditional woodcrafting at Opa's (grandpa's) cottage – while their parents partake at the market’s traditional beer garden. At Schwabing Market, visitors shop for original art – everything from paintings and pottery to hats and handbags. Shoppers can meet more than 100 artists, from all over Germany, whose juried pieces are for sale. I spent one evening at Tollwood – a grand alternative fest that focuses more on ethnic cultures and the environment than traditional Christmas fare. Think organic foods (including vegan options) and exhibits with an ecological or social message. Staged at the fairgrounds in a series of huge tents, there’s a range of international entertainment – from Cirque-style shows to interactive art installations. The most crowded Munich Christmas market is also one of its smallest: the "Pink Market." It was the first gay 38

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Christmas market in Germany when it launched 10 years ago with a three-day festival; today it’s a vibrant four-week party that attracts wall-to-wall people: locals and visitors, young and old, gay and straight. The boutique-size market has a few very, very busy food and glühwein vendors and only a dozen or so shopping stalls. Don’t expect to find anything risqué for sale. “We’re in Bavaria, which is quite Catholic,” explained Bernd Muller, a market organizer. Nevertheless, most of the very popular nightly holiday shows are drag performances – and great fun. The next morning, I was off to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Bavarian Alps. Garmisch and Partenkirchen were separate towns until 1935, when Hitler ordered them joined to stage the 1936 Winter Olympics. Twenty-eight nations, including the United States, participated in those games. Today, the Garmisch Christkindlmarkt has a cozy small-town feel. The 30 or so vendors who gather at Richard Strauss Plaza all know each other. Local musicians play Christmas tunes each evening – townsfolk sometimes join in. Along with yard-long sausages and glühwein, visitors can sample regional Alpine specialties such as Raclette and cheese fondue. Gift shopping is simplified: fewer choices, better prices. “I’d always heard Garmisch had a wonderful Christmas market with old fashioned flavor,” said Jonathan Uhrig, visiting from Chicago. “It's true. It’s festive here, but relaxed and cozy. Neighborly. By the end of the evening, you’ll know all the vendors; they’ll be your friends,” he said. “Isn’t that what holiday spirit is really about? “ Munich has 22 official Christmas Markets. At the Main Market, an enormous glittering tree lights the night in front of the city’s historic neo-gothic town hall. Two colorfully dressed youngsters light the holidays in their own festive way.

IF YOU GO Rates at Baden-Baden’s Hotel Der Kleine Prinz ( start at about $180 a night. Learn more about Baden and its Christmas Market at www. In Nuremberg, Hotel Agneshof, is a few steps from the Christmas market (www. Rooms for two start at about $110. Learn more about the Nuremberg Christmas market at In Munich I stayed at Arcona Living. ( where rooms start at about $110. Learn more about Munich Christmas Markets at: www.bavaria. by/christmas-market-in-munich-bavaria. Near Garmisch-Parrtenkirchen, I stayed at Schloss Elmau ( en/offers), the luxe 5-star castle/spa where the G-7 met last year. Rates start at about $600 a night. Learn more about the Garmisch Christmas Market at www. Learn more about travel to Germany at Learn about travel to Bavaria at Wine Dine & Travel 2016 



“This is the one place where I can truly relax.�


Leith port. Via self-guided audio tours, some 300,000 annual visitors get to see how royalty once lived at sea.

hus once stated Britain's Queen Elizabeth II about The 83rd royal yacht since 1660, the Britannia was completed her home on the high seas--the 412-foot Royin April 1953 by John Brown's Clydebank Shipyard in Scotland al Yacht Britannia, which sailed over one million to replace the aging Victoria and Albert III, and had the ability miles in 44 years--to over 600 ports in 135 counto also function as a hospital ship, if needed. It could produce tries, on 968 official royal visits, with a crew of 276. its own fresh water from seawater, and a two-month supply of meat and fish could be stored in the cold rooms. The dairy and Since October 1998, the Britannia--one of the most famous vegetable rooms could hold enough supplies to feed the entire ships in the world, and which has been rated the UK's No. 1 ship for a month. Fresh bread was baked daily, and 100 chickAttraction for 2014-2015 by TripAdvisor--has been owned by ens could be roasted at a time in the ship's two ovens. the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust and berthed in Edinburgh's 40

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The Royal Yacht Britannia has been rated the UK's No. 1 Attraction by TripAdvisor for 2014-2015. It was Queen Elizabeth II's floating home, sailing over 1 million miles, and is toured by some 300,000 it each year. Photo Š Marc Millar, Royal Yacht Britannia.

Launched on April 16, 1953, it has hosted everything from were aboard for 16 days on their 1981 honeymoon - noted for formal state dinners to royal honeymoons--although not al- the princess participating in a sing-a-long in the crew's mess. ways a token of luck, since the four royal couples who honey- And the Duke and Duchess of York were the final honeymoon mooned onboard ended up on rough seas, so to speak, even- couple, sailing for five days in 1986. The honeymoon suite, tually divorcing. the only room onboard with a double bed, was also used as the nursery. The first couple, Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones (later known as Lord Snowdon), honeymooned The royal cabins have extra high portholes to allow for privacy on the ship in 1960. Princess Anne (who celebrated her 21st in case a crew member passes by. The ship also houses a post birthday onboard) and her first husband, Capt. Mark Phillips, office, three galleys, sick bay and operating theatre. spent an unforgettable 1973 honeymoon enduring seasickness their first four days. Prince Charles and Princess Diana Prior to boarding, visitors can browse a vast display of royal Wine Dine & Travel 2016 


The Sun Lounge was the queen's favorite place onboard, where she would have breakfast and afternoon tea, enjoying the ocean views through large windows. Photo © Marc Millar, Royal Yacht Britannia. Below: The State Drawing Room was where the royal family relaxed, playing games, reading, or singing. Alas, the queen wasn’t able to have her wish granted for an open coal fireplace, so it’s electric instead. Photo credit Sharon Whitley Larsen

photos, mementos, letters, and ship items. Lifts between the decks make the tour easily accessible. I particularly noticed several men gawking at the Rolls-Royce Phantom V, presented to the queen in 1960, housed in the ship's small garage. Some furniture was recycled from the previous royal yacht, Victoria and Albert III, and the queen and Prince Philip--a former Naval officer--delighted in decorating the Britannia to their tastes, personally selecting the fabrics, paintings and furnishings. The Britannia--light, airy and stylish--is unpretentious and comfortable, with brass metalwork, mahogany wood and white walls adorned with artwork, family photos and personal mementos. When the yacht was first completed, no press were invited aboard and publications offered a huge amount for a photo of the queen's bedroom. Alas, none was successful. However, today visitors can get a close-up look at her former 42

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sleeping quarters, which were decorated to utilize the bed linen bought for Queen Victoria on the previous royal yacht. There's a single bed with a floral bedspread, a custom embroidered silk panel on the wall above, a small desk, vanity and a full-length, three-way mirror. A connecting door leads to Philip's quarters, and each has its own bath. The queen and Philip could press a button next to their beds to summon a royal steward. The queen selected the deep blue color for the ship, instead of the usual black. Its crest is on the stern, and its name does not appear on the side of the ship. For a state visit, the queen would take five tons of luggage aboard, including royal jewelry and Malvern water for her tea. Up to 45 members of the royal household would accompany her, including her surgeon, detectives, hairdresser, valets, footmen, ladies-in-waiting, press and private secretaries and chefs.

The royal barge often transferred the queen and Prince Philip to and from shore from the anchored Britannia. They last cruised up the Thames River in it during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Photo by Sharon Whitley Larsen

The Sun Lounge--a cozy area decorated with a blue-patterned lands) are in glass display cabinets on the side of the room. sofa and bamboo furniture purchased by Philip in Hong It takes three hours to set the 56 places for a state banquet Kong in 1959--was the queen's favorite place onboard. This (each place setting meticulously measured with a ruler), and is where she would have breakfast and afternoon tea, enjoy- the menus--in French--were given to guests as souvenirs. ing the special ocean views through the large windows. When the royal family was onboard, food was prepared by chefs from Buckingham Palace, who were flown out to the The Verandah Deck was used for cocktail receptions and ship. Today this room is rented out for corporate or private group photographs taken with the royal couple by the ship's dinners, with food still prepared onboard. photographer, dubbed Snaps. It was not uncommon for the queen and Philip to sneak away during a state dinner and When the anteroom, drawing and dining rooms are opened autograph the photos, which were then framed and handed together, up to 250 guests can be accommodated. The drawto the guests upon their after-dinner departure. This deck ing room, with its mix of antique and modern furnishings, is where Philip enjoyed painting with an easel, where fam- including comfortable chintz sofas and chairs, Persian rugs, ily members sunbathed or played deck hockey. A collapsible a fireplace and fresh flowers (often flown in from the gardens canvas pool was set up here for use by the royal children. The of Windsor Castle), was used as the main reception room. It two-inch thick teak deck was scrubbed daily with sea water; was also where the royal family could relax together, playing the crew worked in silence and completed the task by 8 a. m. games, reading James Bond novels or singing. The Walmar If royals strolled by, the crew had to stand quiet and still. baby grand piano, firmly bolted to the deck in case of rough seas, was often played by guests, including Noel Coward, or The State Dining Room hosted such dignitaries as Winston by Princesses Margaret and Diana. Churchill, Rajiv Ghandi, Boris Yeltsin, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Bill and Hillary "Overall, the drawing room was to give the impression of a Clinton. In the early years, it doubled as a cinema or for short country house at sea," explained the ship's interior designer, church services (which all crew members were invited to at- Sir Hugh Casson. tend) and for dancing: The ship was decommissioned at 3:01 p.m. on DecemGifts given to the queen (which include shark's teeth swords, ber 11, 1997 (hence all clocks onboard are stopped at that daggers, arrows and boomerangs from various South Sea Is- time). It was said to be the only time the queen was seen Wine Dine & Travel 2016 


shedding a tear in public. She hasn't been onboard since then. One of the last events attended by royalty--including Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge--was the July 2011 pre-wedding party of Zara Phillips, daughter of Princess Anne. The queen originally had requested an open coal fireplace for the drawing room, but since Navy regulations required that a sailor would have to be on round-the-clock watch with a fire bucket, that idea was nixed. Instead, an electric fire was chosen. Well, even the queen can't have everything.

Left: The Royal Yacht Britannia was Queen Elizabeth II’s floating home, sailing over 1 million miles. Now it’s berthed just outside Edinburgh. Some 300,000 tour it each year. Photo courtesy of VisitBritain. © Marc Millar, Royal Yacht Britannia

IF YOU GO Royal Yacht Britannia, a 15-minute bus ride from Edinburgh city centre. Board via the second floor of the Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre; Self-guided tours take about 1 ½ to 2 hours. There is a tearoom on the top deck, a shop selling fudge and other candy made onboard, and a large gift shop. We stayed at the Apex Waterloo Place Hotel: en/hotels/edinburgh/ We enjoyed dining at the tiny Field Restaurant and at the Witchery: http:// (Reservations highly recommended for both). For more information: and 44

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GLAMIS CASTLE Scotlands Most Haunted Residence

Above: Glamis Castle. Right: The Queen Mother on her wedding day. 46

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f you love to be spooked on Halloween--or anytime!-look no further than Glamis Castle, said to be Scotland’s most haunted residence! Legend has it that among several resident spirits, there’s a lady ghost in the Chapel, a “Monster of Glamis”—and that the Devil himself visited here and still hangs around!

My first impression of this fairytale castle—as my husband and I drove our rental car down the mile-long, tree-lined avenue one summer afternoon--was dramatic. Suddenly the massive red sandstone castle appeared, its many spires, towers, and turrets reaching to the sky. “Stop the car!” I royally demanded of Carl. “I want to take a picture!” I had always wanted to tour this famed castle—pronounced “Glams.” It’s the childhood ancestral home of Britain’s beloved Queen Mum (Elizabeth, the Queen Mother), who died at 101 on March 30, 2002. The previous month she had endured the death of her younger daughter, Princess Margaret (Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister), who was born in a room at the castle in 1930, the first royal baby born in Scotland in over 300 years! And the massive castle, generally dating from the late 14th century, has been added to and changed throughout the centuries. It has an amazing history. Originally it was a hunting lodge used by the kings of Scotland. Mary, Queen of Scots stayed here, and so did Scottish novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott. It was immortalized in William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” During World War I it was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers. For over 600 years, since Sir John Lyon was given Glamis by the king, it has been the family home of the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne for 23 generations, still used today.

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Century old painting of Glamis Castle in the winter. Below; The Crypt where the Devil plays cards. Opposite: Young Queen Elizabeth and a photo wall at the castle.

We first entered the dramatic, high-ceilinged Dining Room, "My family have lived at Glamis Castle since 1372,” writes Michael Bowes-Lyon, the 18th Earl of Strathmore and King- in a wing of the castle demolished in 1775 and rebuilt 1798horne, in the guidebook. He and his third wife--and his 1801. It was later designed during 1851-53 and its table, circa 1850s—ladened with valuable antique silver, china, cutyoungest son, age 11-- currently reside here. lery and glass--can seat 36. Its main feature is a massive oak Although the main entrance is actually in the front—at the fireplace; large family portraits hang on the walls. end of the long drive—visitors use the “back door” for small, From the elegant Dining Room group-guided tours through we entered a 10-foot hidden 10 principal rooms. Some door and were immediately 120,000 tour it annually. transformed from the Victorian era to the Middle Ages! The castle didn’t have elecHere we were in the castle’s tricity until 1929, and one can imagine how eerie it Crypt, complete with suits of must have been in the darkarmor. Formerly the Lower ened passageways, holding Hall of the 15th century tower a flickering candle or lanhouse, it's where the servants tern to climb the 143 wide, once slept and ate. From here stone steps on the large centhey would nervously peer tral, spiral staircase which through a small hole in the wind to the top of its 17th wall to the Dining Room to see century tower. when to serve the next course! 48

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But this is where the spooky stories start: As our group of eight stood eerily still, our guide told us the chilling tale of how the Devil came to be here. There are various versions of the story, but supposedly during the mid-15th century, The Lord of Glamis and Earl of Crawford were in a small room off the side of the Crypt, playing cards late on a stormy Saturday night. When the card-playing continued into the wee hours of Sunday, a servant chastised them for gambling on the Sabbath. The Lord of Glamis replied “that they would play cards until the Devil himself joined them, that they’d play ’til Doomsday,” said our guide. Well, some folks think that’s just what occurred, since after that the servants heard eerie noises coming from the room as the card game supposedly continued. One peered through the keyhole and was zapped by flames! Finally, 300 years later, those residing in the castle could take the disturbing sounds no longer, and the room was filled in and permanently sealed off. But that didn’t seem to stop the ruckus. Reportedly just before midnight on Saturdays, people say you can still hear them! Apparently the Devil has been playing cards with the duo ever since! Another room we visited is the Billiard Room, formerly the Library, built between 1773 and 1776. It’s much like a typical family room (in a mansion, that is)--with a huge fireplace, pool table, and a chess set and jigsaw puzzle on one table. Numerous books, tapestries, and family portraits line the walls. Atop the piano, purchased in 1866, are family photos, including one of the young Queen Mum, then Lady Bowes-Lyon, playing this same piano in 1923, shortly before her marriage. Also on the tour is the 60-foot long, 17th century Drawing Room, with its curved ceiling and large family portraits. This has long been the family "hang-out" and where they've entertained guests. One wall has a painting of the Queen Mum as a girl in 1909 at age 9. More family photos are displayed atop the

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1923 Steinway grand piano, including one showing Laura Bush posed with the Strathmore family when she visited the castle during the G8 Gleneagles Summit in 2005. We also toured a threeroom suite in the royal apartment—the Sitting Room and King and Queen’s Bedrooms. This is one of the oldest parts of the castle, dating from the 15th century, and these private rooms were used by the Queen Mum since her 1923 marriage; she and King George VI spent part of their honeymoon here. After the king died in 1952, she used primarily the Sitting Room.

Then there’s the legend of the “Monster of Glamis,” which was circulated for years. Apparently it began when Lord and Lady Glamis, the Queen Mum’s great, great grandparents, had a baby, Thomas Bowes-Lyon, who died on the day he was born in Oct. 1821. For years, however, there was speculation that he was really horribly deformed and was kept hidden in a small room off the castle’s Chapel, fed through a grilled gate by a servant. But perhaps the most chilling tale is that of Lady Janet Douglas, wife of the 6th Lord Glamis. She was falsely accused of being a witch and burned to death in 1537. Since then people believe that it's her ghost occasionally seen here, garbed in gray. Dubbed the “Gray Lady,” she’s been known to pop up in the Chapel, praying. Completed and consecrated in 1688—with richly colored religious panels on the ceiling and paintings on the walls—the Chapel is still used by the Strathmore family today.

“She didn’t like to have anything changed and it’s pretty much the same as it was since her wedding 93 years ago,” noted our guide. Until their deaths, she and Princess Margaret visited the castle a few times a year. The Sitting Room is warmly furnished with comfortable armchairs and a sofa, Chippendale chairs, family photos (including charming blackand-white ones of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret as children), 18th century tapestries, and a carved oak chimneypiece displaying Dutch and Chinese porcelain. However, visitors are told to knock three times before entering so they don’t frighten the Gray Lady—or get frightened And in this room is where the ghost of a little, mischievous themselves! pageboy has been noticed sitting atop a small stone seat just inside the door! Above: Vintage poster featuring Orson Welles and Glamis Castle. The Queen Mother’s Bedroom has a four-poster bed, with a quilt made by her mother, Countess Strathmore, who also Photos courtesy of VisitBritain Images, WIKI Commons, and embroidered the padded canopy with the names of her ten Sharon Whitley Larsen children and their birth dates, including the Queen Mum’s.


In Duncan’s Hall—one of the oldest and eeriest areas of the castle—the slaying of King Duncan by Macbeth is commemorated, although the actual killing took place near Elgin. “Macbeth” was written for King James VI by Shakespeare, who may have heard stories about Glamis Castle and used it as a setting in the play. “There’s no historic link between Glamis and Macbeth,” said our guide. “Shakespeare gave them great publicity!”


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For more information--and regarding activities throughout the year, as well as tours--please see:

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o, what do you like to…do… when you travel?” my mother asked me recently. She posed the question with a slightly furrowed brow, in the sort of dubious tone you might typically reserve for quizzing the man next to you on the subway about why he’s wearing a lime green mankini and clutching a jar filled with human hair and toenail clippings—except, of course, that you would never speak to that man, or even look him in the eye.

You see, my mom is not an especially avid traveler, having endured numerous road trips trapped for 14 hours in a car with two whiny children and three Siamese cats (one of which was always inevitably in heat—the cat, that is). So it was a fair query, and it should have been easy enough to answer. Right: Amy Laughinghouse sitting on the house of thrones in Dubrovnik. Below: Men in diapers and balloon halos beside the Seine. Bottom left: Colorful pom pom slippers stacked in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

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But to be honest, I had to think about it. I’m not a keen collector, so I’m unlikely to spend my days bustling between boutiques searching for the perfect addition to my “Cities of the World” limited edition ceramic thimble collection. Nor am I a real “culture vulture.” I get hives if I spend too much time in a museum— particularly if it’s a sunny day—and, I’m ashamed to say, I fall asleep at the opera and the ballet. "Well,” I finally admitted, “I guess I just like to wander.” When I’m in a new city, I enjoy simply stepping into a strange street with a map and a short, scribbled list of recommended restaurants and cafes (and bars, of course), and then…getting lost. That last bit happens quite naturally, because I have such a poor sense of direction, I wouldn’t know up from down if it weren’t for gravity. I’m a sucker for a narrow, winding cobbled lane. I’m always sure it will lead somewhere interesting. Usually, it does, and when I find whatever that is, I have my camera at the ready. I come back from every trip with hundreds of photos. A wall of graffiti. An imposing door. An intriguing sign. A gargoyle hunkered in a sunbeam atop the roof of a cathedral. Two grown men, inexplicably clad in diapers, loitering beside the Seine. Although I’m never going to melt my credit card in a buying frenzy, if I see a shop that’s particularly unusual, I’m not averse to crossing the threshold. Istanbul’s labyrinthine Grand Bazaar, for example, is an absolute must. Not only is it an Aladdin’s treasure trove of hookahs, mosaic lanterns, Turkish rugs, tasseled slippers, belly dancing outfits, designer underpants and the occasional axe and chainmail, but it’s also cheap entertainment--if you’re not intimidated by the aggressive sales pitches of the proprietors. My favorite? “Excuse me, lady. May I sell you something you don’t need?” It was so cheeky, it almost worked. I’m also a huge fan of cemeteries, which might seem morbid, but I think of them as big, leafy parks filled with 54

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Photos Copyright Amy Laughinghouse

intriguing sculptures. In many cases, they also provide your best opportunity to get up close and personal with celebrities (albeit dead ones) without having a restraining order issued against you.

thing about meandering along crumbling walls and imagining the scenes witnessed by those centuries-old stones. The whispered conversations by a fireplace. The secret assignations on a spiral staircase. The arrows that might have flown from those window slits. The…oh crap… did I just step in a wad of gum?

The first time I visited Paris, I dragged my poor beleaguered husband to every repository of human remains in the city, including the granddaddy of And so, sometimes, Mom, I also find them all, Pere Lachaise. There you’ll myself shopping for a new pair of find Jim Morrison, his grave marked shoes. by flowers, empty liquor bottles and tiny plastic cups filled with…well, Glass lamps are big at the Istanbul’s Grand how the heck do I know? I certainly Bazaar . Opposite top: Oscar Wilde’s tomb at wasn’t drinking from them. But the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Opposite true rock star is Oscar Wilde, buried left: The ruins of Corfe Castle in Dorset, beneath an Egyptian effigy that is covered with red lipstick kisses ev- England erywhere. EVERYWHERE, people.

You can find Amy at WWW.AMYLAUGHINGHOUSE. COM and on Twitter @A_LAUGHINGHOUSE.

My other great indulgences are ruins and castles. Give me a ruined castle, and I’m in heaven. There’s just someWine Dine & Travel 2016 



m o r f s d r a c t Pos

X T n i t s u A

This is a series of “postcards” sent to WDT Magazine publisher, Ron James, from veteran journalists and friends Jody Jaffe and John Muncie as they travel the globe.

Dear Ron, You can’t go to Texas without buying cowboy boots. Well at least one of us can’t. We’d just scored the perfect pair — cherry red boots with broncos bucking down the shins — when we heard a twangy version of Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” coming from South Congress Avenue. It was James Anthony Johnson, whose cowboy hat and guitar picking matched his twang. He’s been singing the blues on South Congress for 15 years and he’s watched the neighborhood change. “Used to be, it was full of transvestites, prostitutes, and transsexuals ...and politicians cruising to find them,” he said. Nowadays it’s full of retro shops where you can buy the ugly clothes we wore in the ‘60s; folk-art stores with the obligatory Day of the Dead skeletons and turquoise squash blossoms; shoe shops where the half the proceeds go to Haitian children; and high-end booteries where you can easily drop $2,000. And that’s just on one block.

City marketeers have been trying to re-brand this seven-block area, “SoCo,” a nod to New York’s SoHo, that locals find amusing at best. “No one but tourists and PR people call it that,” we were told repeatedly. The trendiness has spilled one block west to the edgier First Street, with funkier stores like the vegan grocery called “Rabbit Food.”

South Congress is the trendy section of Austin’s main drag, 10 blocks from the state capitol and just across the famed “Bat Bridge” over the Colorado River. From March through October, 1.5 million bats — the largest bat colony in North America — roost in the crevices underneath the bridge. And every evening We wandered both streets for a couple of days, shopping, eating crowds gather to watch the clouds of bats fly off for dinner. While and just getting a taste of urban Texas hip. Just like you can’t go we missed the bats, who were keeping warm in Mexico, there was to Texas without buying cowboy boots, you can’t go to South Constill plenty of entertainment on the south side of the river: Pin- gress without eating a Hopdoddy burger and their killer truffle striped suits in the rear-view mirror, blue jeans, ironic beards and fries. Here’s where it pays to be old. Eating dinner at 5:30 is now normal, which is good at Hopdoddy because when the hipsters tattoos dead ahead. eat, the line stretches out the door and into the parking lot.


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When we walked in, the average age skyrocketed. The wait staff wore T-shirts saying, “Hopdizzle fo’ sizzle” and “We spank our patties and they like it.” In the first 10 minutes we counted 10 ironic lumber-sexual beards (think Luden Brothers cough drops). “Beardos,” our waiter said, who was sporting the fullest one of the bunch. The burgers — of course made from humanely raised cows never fed antibiotics or growth hormones — were delicious. The truffle fries and aoili dipping sauce — scrumptious. But the real magic: the Nutella Pretzel Milk Shake. That alone is worth a trip to Austin. While the South Congress area has its share of fancy restaurants, we zeroed in on the food trucks where we found everything from cupcakes to ravioli to fried chicken to dal. But we were in Texas so we went straight for the elevated tacos at Torchy’s in a food court of sorts on First Street. The complicated fried oyster taco and green chili pork taco were so good we headed back there for our final Texas meal, two breakfast tacos with brisket, eggs, potatoes, avocados and surprising sauces. South Congress has a handful of stores that have survived its raunchier days. Folk-art gallery “Mi Casa” has been there for 20 years. Owner Jim Luedeke pointed to the far wall covered with religious paintings and said, “The working girls used to live right above there.” The antique/junque store Uncommon Objects, where you can buy everything from used horse shoes for $4 to Top: Right: Colorful paper mache animals in Austin folk arts Galleries. Bottom: Silverstream Texas Taco shop. Opposite: Jeff blaylock “I’m a sucker for the pretty girls.”

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a millinery store head for $398, has been there 25 years. Allens Boots, where we scored our boots has been there 38 years. And The Countinental Club, where we listened to a rockabilly singer, has been there for 58 years.

dropped these wise words about work and pleasure: “I ain’t got no business riding a horse,” he said. “A horse is a tool not a pet. It’s like a truck driver going out for a Sunday drive in a truck. But if a pretty girl wants to come around for a ride, I’ll get on a horse. I’m a sucker for the pretty girls.”

Our favorite place, Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds, started 31 years ago as a vintage clothing store and morphed into And we’re a sucker for cowboy boots and South Congress. an enormous costume emporium. Asked why Austin needs 8,000-square-feet of wigs, masks, feather boas, makeup kits, and Love, costumes, employee Walter Young said, matter-of-factly, “People will dress up and just go downtown all year round. We dress them John and Jody up for lots of crazy things.” Like, 26-year-old Maxim Pozderac, who was hosting a Star Wars Christmas party, and trying on a Chewbacca costume. South Congress likes to dress up, too. The blocks are daubed with cute neon signs, painted storefronts, mosaics, and tricked-out food trucks. And on the corner of James and Congress, is the area’s most famous graffiti, the spray-painted message -- redletters-on-green wall – “i love you so much.” Talk about a Kodak Moment. We came to Austin right before the holidays – the decorations outside Doc’s Bar and Grill included cacti wrapped with Christmas lights – and every store piped in Christmas music or country music or country-Christmas music. “Silent Night” meets “Boot Scoot Boogie.” Speaking of boots, we can’t end this postcard without telling you about Jeff Blaylock, who started making boots 25 years ago after getting bashed up one too many times as a bull-rider. He was showing us around Texas Custom Boots over on First Street where he works. The conversation turned toward riding when he

Texas crooner, James Anthony Johnson. Bottom: Custom cowboy boots from Allens Boots. Opposite: Torchy’s Damn Good Tacos stand.

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or wine enthusiasts, almost nothing is as excit- We considered renting a car to visit some nearby wineries, but ing as visiting a new wine region. And there are were deterred by memories of a very bad experience a couple no wine regions that stir the soul and prime the of years earlier that turned into a cruiser’s worst nightmare. palate like the legendary vineyards of France. The last time we cruised into this port, we rented a car for a On our most recent Mediterranean cruise on day trip to Aix-en- Provence. After getting lost and circling Aix the Celebrity Silhouette we stopped for one for close to hour, we finally found the entrance to the old city day stop in working-class Toulon, France’s second largest port and enjoyed a nice stroll and lunch in this charming village. and gateway to the beautiful coastal towns and wine country Then we began a hellish two-hour ride back, filled with traffic, of Provence. tolls and a search for a gas station. If we didn’t return the car 60

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with a full tank, we faced a ridiculous penalty from the rental car company. After dropping off the car, we hailed a cab and slipped the driver an extra 20 bucks to get us back to the ship before it sailed. He drove like a crazy man through the narrow busy Mary James tempting fate as she happily waves from the edge of the one of the tallest sea cliffs in France. Right: Our classy cruise ship and home for nearly a month; the Celebrity Silhouette. Wine Dine & Travel 2016 


CLOS D’ALBIZZI streets - like Steve McQueen flying down One company, Wine in Provence, stood erwise see –through the lens of French San Francisco streets in the movie “Bullet.” out right away, probably because of the food and wines.” We made it to the ship with less than five four TripAdvisor Certificates of Excelminutes to spare. No problem. lence listed on the bottom of the com- My email to the tour company received pany’s webpage. I was also reassured by a prompt reply, promising an outstandSo this time, we almost decided to stay on the fact that they were featured in Rick ing tour of wine country, even if it was the ship, which would have been sin con- Steves’ guidebooks. A quote from Steves off-season. Done deal. sidering we were in one of the most beau- on the homepage hit my sweet spot too: tiful corners of France. To salvage our port “At Wine in Provence, smart, young, It was sunny, but cold and blustery, as stop, I Googled wine country tours in Tou- and enthusiastic Americans…are eager our party of four headed down the ganglon, hoping to find someone who could to help you discover French wine and way for a short walk down the pier and provide a first class wine country experi- food… Their dream is to show you a through security gates to the controlled ence and get us back to the ship on time. side of Provence that you wouldn’t oth- chaos of tour guides loading bundled-up


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groups of cruisers. The owner of Wine in Provence, Michael Ippolito, pulled up in a shiny new SUV with comfy seats for the four of us, a basket of fresh pastries, and water. Michael drove expertly though the narrow streets of Toulon while giving us an intro into French wine tasting. He explained that American wine enthusiasts over analyze wines, sniffing and swirling in search of exotic fragrances and complex acidity, sugar, color and even texture.

Below: Michael Ippolito translates for François Dumon owner and winemaker for Clos d’Albizzi. Below left: A painting of an ancestor of the Albizzi family who settled in the area in 1523. The family was a powerful dynasty in Florence. Below right: Ron and Mary James with traveling companions Carl and Sharon Larsen. Left: Beautiful white wine from Clos d’Albizzi. Opposite page: François Dumon in his vineyard with his faithful winery dog.

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In France, he explained, most everyone drinks wine, most at every meal. They open the bottle, pour it into a glass and if it tastes OK they drink it. This suited my world view of wine perfectly: If it tastes good, I like it. According to our guide, most French winemaking operations don’t have formal tasting rooms. Retail marketing doesn’t rank high there, unlike the majority of small wineries in America where wine tasting rooms and wine clubs provide significant income. French winemakers focus on farming the land and hand off their products to middlemen 64

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for distribution. The times are changing, though, as a new tech-savvy generation of family members takes charge and turns to social media, tasting room sales and wine clubs.

Michael explained that the now 35-acre vineyard was owned by the Albizzi family who settled in the area in 1523. The family was a powerful dynasty in Florence, in the same league as the Medici. Our host, François Dumon, was a direct descendant of Florentine family. In my mind’s eye, I expected a sort of gentleman’s farmer sporting French designer causal togs a la Lord Grantham in “Downton Abbey.”

Our schedule was to visit four wineries and scenic highlights along the way with a lunch stop at a nice bistro. The idea was to visit a diverse cross-section of wineries, small and large. After a short hop on the freeway we headed west on the Route de Crêtes toward the beautiful French As we pulled into the driveway bracketcoastline north of Toulon to our first des- ed by rows of gold and red vines floating in a sea of dainty white flowers, a tination in Cassis, Clos d’Albizzi. tall man dressed in blue mechanic’s

Overlooking the coastal town of Cassis from one of the highest points in Calanques National overalls emerged from a door of a clas- started pouring his finest. In this region wine,” a Provencal specialty made from sic Provencal two-story farmhouse. His of Provence, white and rose wines are grape juice concentrate by evaporation hands were covered with black grease. king. The soil, the sea breezes and sun and fermented. The sweet wine is served He must be one of the farm hands, I are ideal to produce delicious, easy-to- as an aperitif and traditionally accompathought. Michael immediately greeted drink wines. Each one we tasted passed nies Christmas dessert. François was a him in French. After a few moments, my French test of fine wine - they tasted gracious host and communicated with smiles when his limited English failed the man nodded to the four of us and great, pour me another please. him. After the tasting and stroll around smiled. It seems that winemakers in these parts, even ones with blue blood, The winemaker blends Marsanne, the winery and vineyard, we piled into work on their own tractors. Clairette and Ugni Blanc for their fruit our SUV for our next adventure. forward white wines with just enough François excused himself to clean up and acidity to keep them bright and refresh- We continued up the winding two-lane emerged dressed in French farmhouse ing. The rosés are blends of Grenache, Route de Crêtes for several miles and casual blue jeans and tan golf shirt. He Cinsault and Mourvèdre grapes, offer- pulled off into a public parking lot. A also was wearing a warm welcoming ing the same drinkability with slight dirt path led to dramatic view point smile as he led us into a rustic room and cherry notes. We also tasted “cooked from inside Calanques National Park Wine Dine & Travel 2016 



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high above the seaside town of Cassis. The view was spectacular, and despite a few tastes of wine we were not lured to the cliff’s edge as some locals were. My wife Mary did go for a walk and waved to us from what seemed like a perilous point. I motioned for her to step back, but she said she was never in any danger. We were amazed to see rock climbers emerge from the vertical sandstone cliff stretching many hundreds of feet below. Personally I would rather wine taste than rock climb… but that’s just me. You can never tell a book by its cover and our visit to our second winery, Domaine Ray-Jane, in Le Castellet, just north of Bandol, was proof that first impressions can be seriously wrong. We parked in a small lot fronting a slightly run-down building and stepped inside a small office cluttered with paperwork and a few cases of wine. Opposite: Raymond Constant, winemaker owner of Domaine Ray-Jane shows his family coat of arms. Top: Old bottles still used for bulk wine by the regulars. Right: Roses take front and center in the wine tasting room.

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We were introduced to winemaker/ to a winemaking facility I’ve ever expe- staircase into a large room, I expected to see the typical vats and presses, but owners Raymond and Jane Constant. rienced. instead there were thousands of antique Dressed in a well-worn wool sweater, Raymond looked like he didn’t mind Like the Albizzis, the Constant family wine-related items stacked ceiling high. getting his hands dirty making wine. He has been making wines for a very long I was blown away by the volume of stuff didn’t speak much English, but was en- time, in their case since 1288. His fam- – and then he led the way to a number thusiastic as he led us on a tour of his ily’s long history drives Raymond’s pas- of similar rooms just as full of artifacts complex – and Michael proved to be an sion for not only for making wine, but and machines. All I could say was wow! excellent interpreter. I really didn’t ex- collecting the tools and equipment used pect much on this tour, but it turned out in vineyards and wineries for nearly 800 Finally we made our way to his ulto be one of the most interesting visits years. When we made our way down a tra-modern winemaking room with


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state-of-the-art temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Right next to straw covered jugs used to sell wine to the locals for the last century were boxes of wine ready to be shipped to markets around France. Thinking that we were at the end of our tour, winemaker had one last surprise for us. Raymond explained that he was building a winemaking museum to showcase

the rare tools of his ancestors. Then he led us to a brand new building still under construction that wouldn’t look out of place in Napa or Sonoma. The new museum was being built with beautiful stone quarried from local mountains; giant wooden beams crisscrossed the room above the stone floor. We were honored to vist this place. It will surely be a destination for wine enthusiasts and historians around the world.

Above: Raymond Constant with Michael Ippolito touring the old barrel room. Opposite: one of the many rooms filled with ancient wine-making tools. Below: Raymond Constant with Ron James; the empty building to become the wine-making museum; bottles of Domaine Ray Jane and the wine-maker in the tasting room.

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Of course there were the wines, most- time from her home office in Aix-en- of Le Castellet, with a population of just ly roses, made mostly with Grenache Provence, was urgently trying to move under 4,000. One of the region’s top grapes, blended with 20 percent each us along. We ended up having to cancel tourist attractions, the feudal village is of Mourvèdre and Cinsault varietals. one of our tasting appointments so that perched on a promontory overlooking a patchwork of Bandol vineyards. The cobThey were great examples of the famous we would get back to the ship on time. blestone streets are lined with beautiful wines of Bandol and we bought a couple of bottles to enjoy on the ship. We bid If Domaine Ray Jane was memorable old houses covered with wisteria and adieu to Raymond and headed to lunch. for its wines and vast antique collec- bougainvillea. Many have been carefulDuring the previous hour, Michael’s cell tion, our lunch was equally memorable ly restored and now house craftsman’s phone had rung constantly. We were – perhaps the best dining experience of workshops, art galleries and eateries. running quite late and his wife Cyri- this six-week travel adventure. Michael elle, who coordinated the tour in real drove us to the nearby ancient village We expected a quick sandwich and soup


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for lunch but we were delighted to be beautifully plated. D’Orio honed his treated to a full-on French gourmet ad- skills with star chefs Régis Marcon and venture. La Goguette, a tiny but charm- Jean-François Rouquette at the Park ing restaurant that seats 16, is the pride Hyatt Vendôme in Paris. The modern and creation of Chef Maxime D’Orio French dishes he served reminded me and his wife Stephanie who almost sin- of the best farm-to-table California. Evgle handedly runs the front of the house. ery dish was delicious and flawless and the local wine proved equal to the meal. We ordered the three-course tasting Stephanie’s friendly and professional menu which consisted of a choice of service capped off a world-class lunch. two starters, two mains and two desserts – each meticulously prepared and Our leisurely meal consumed close to

Top: Views of the cobblestone streets of village of Le Castellet. Above: Vews of the Bondol wine country from Le Castellet. Opposite: View of the town of Le Castellet from the Bondol vineyards.

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two hours, so we had just enough time Unlike, the two previous wineries, Buto visit our final winery of the day, Do- nan is a baby, and a beautiful one at that, maines Bunan. Unlike our previous founded in 1961 by Paul and Pierre Bustops this winery operation was de- nan, who had emigrated from Algeria. signed to host a lot of visitors – it would They fell in love with the land in Bandol have been at home in the best of Califor- region, and managed to scrape together enough to buy it. nia wine countries. After Michael took us on a tour of the Paul’s daughter Françoise is in charge large modern wine making facility and of the communications and public relaa quick taste of rose wine out of a gi- tions and Pierre’s daughter Claire, is a ant two-story stainless steel tanks, we budding wine marketer and has and has made our way through the well tended developed sophisticated social marketbeautiful gardens to the tasting room ing strategies including a multimedia where we met our hosts Françoise and tour app for touring the winery. Claire Bunan. Claire and Françoise represent the new 72

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Some of our amazing lunch dishes at La Goguette, a tiny but charming restaurant that seats 16, owned and opperated by Chef Maxime D’Orio and his wife Stephanie who almost single handedly runs the front of the house.

We arrived too late for a further expedition up another mountain trail to the archaeological site, but found plenty to admire within the nature reserve at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, where I'd stayed on my first expedition. After searching in vain for the rare cockof-the-rock (Peru's national bird) on a short nature hike followed by a dinner

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Clockwise from top: The Bunan family in their vineyard; Three old wine barrels displayed in the garden; The modern Bunan wine tasting room; Michael Ippolito pouring young white wine from steel tanks; The beautiful barrel room in the Bunan winery.


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generation of French winemaking families. They treated us to some more wonderful Bandol wines as they told us the story of their family and winery – a perfect cap to a perfect day. Three distinct wineries offering wonderful wines, friendly and enthusiastic winemakers, a gourmet dining experience and a great guide who will forever be our man in Provence. It was a shore excursion we will always remember – and we made to the ship in plenty of time for sailaway.


Unless you’re a native or an expert in

Provence, the only way to get this experience is to hire a top rated tour company like Michael Ippolito’s Wine in Provence. It was absolutely a day to remember. Cruiseship Celebrity Silhouette - www.celebritycruises. com/ Tour Company Wine in Provence Wineries Clos d’Albizzi - Domaines Bunan - Domaines Ray-Jane - Restaurant Le Gougette Wine Dine & Travel 2016 


Whitley ON WINE



here is a widely quoted statistic that about 75 percent of all Champagne consumption in the United States occurs in the final two months of the year, over the prolonged holiday season.

But there is one other category of wine that is even more of a holiday novelty: dessert wine. Americans don't give premium dessert wines, aka stickies, much love or respect until the season of elaborate feasts are upon us. The good news for those who produce top-notch dessert wines is that the sweet spot for stickies is just around the corner. With that in mind, I can confidently recommend three of North America's finest dessert wines, including an unusual stickie from Virginia. That would be the Barboursville Vineyards Paxxito, a passito-style dessert wine made from the moscato ottonel and vidal grapes. The passito method, which involves drying the harvested grapes on specially designed racks, is common in Italy but almost unheard of in the United States. The process of drying the grapes concentrates the sugars and produces remarkably intense aromas and flavors. The 2010 Barboursville Paxxito retails for $32 for a 375-milliliter bottle and is worth every penny. This is a wine that can be cellared for decades. Dolce is America's answer to the fabled dessert wines of France's Sauternes and Barsac regions, areas of Bordeaux that routinely produce the botrytis mold, or "noble rot," that concentrates the sugars and gives Sauternes and Barsac their distinctive flavor profile of apricot, peach and honeycomb.


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Dolce imitates the Sauternes and Barsac blend of sauvignon blanc and Semillon, but does not strive for botrytis, preferring a late-harvest style that is much more predictable from vintage to vintage. Dolce is America's finest dessert wine. The 2009 Dolce in 375-milliliter bottle retails for $85. Dolce is rivaled in quality and intensity by the beautiful Icewine of Inniskillin, produced from frozen grapes grown in the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario, Canada. The process of making wine from frozen grapes originated in Germany but has become a specialty of the Canadian wine industry. Allowing the grapes to freeze before picking dehydrates the fruit and concentrates the sugars and flavors. Inniskillin's 2013 Vidal Icewine in 375-milliliter bottle retails for $55 a bottle. The Inniskillin 2013 Gold Vidal Icewine is a hefty $85 for a 375-milliliter bottle. What these three stickies have in common besides impressive concentration and sweetness is exquisite balance, each with enough acidity to keep the wines fresh and prevent them from developing the cloying character that puts many wine enthusiasts off sweet wines. Robert Whitley is publisher and managing partner of Wine Review Online, author of “Wine Talk,” a column syndicated nationally by the Creators Syndicate, a monthly contributor to the Reuters “Vine Talk” column, host of an online radio show ‘Whitley On Wine’, and director of the following international wine competitions: Critics Challenge, Sommelier Challenge, Winemaker Challenge and San Diego International. (,, www., www.SDIWC. com).

CELEBRATE WITH AN EXCLAMATION POINT! For a party as bright, bold, and colorful as you’ve ever seen, come to Tri-Cities and celebrate at a multitude of vibrant festivals and events. Revel in the brilliant colors of our world and the bold colors of our lives. Thrill your senses with exceptional entertainment and world-class food and wine. We don’t do anything halfway. Add an exclamation point to your life’s biography. To learn more, visit

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THE GOWER Where Poetry Lives In South Wales


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| BY CARL H. LARSEN | or a few seconds, I was back home in San Diego looking up the coast from the cliffs of Torrey Pines.

Much of the Gower is held by Britain’s National Trust, which owns about 10 percent of the peninsula, keeping developers at bay. Secluded beaches, rocky promontories and historic sites are part In front and a bit above of me, paraglid- of the Trust’s domain. ers rode the currents in their aerial ballet. Beyond, and somewhat lower was an Another protector watches over the expanse of broad sandy beach – virtually Gower. The Gower Society sponsors empty – arcing to the left for three miles hikes along the many trails, and helped with the sea gently sweeping in. create the Gower Path, a 60-mile hiking trail covering coast and inland areas. And, what were those specks in the water on this glorious summer afternoon? But for surfers, the Gower’s unspoiled Surfers! coast is the premier destination in Wales. But the plaintive baa-ing of sheep nearby “It’s touch and go whether you’ll get persoon broke my spell, as did the expanse fect waves if you come to the Gower, but of dense gorse, an underbrush so thick there are a few characters to meet, the that it is an impenetrable refuge for night life in Mumbles is classic – and birds and other wildlife. Not to mention the sheep are friendly,” said Carwyn Wilthe lush green coastal plateau. liams, a veteran surfer from the nearby community of Mumbles. This, then, was the tip of Gower Peninsula of South Wales, running roughly That said, there’s plenty of surfing action seven miles across by 14 miles long. The along the peninsula. The crowd clusters Gower, as it is known, is Britain’s first at PJ’s Surf Shop in Llangennith. Area of Outstanding Beauty, proclaimed by government decree in 1956. No one At remote Rhossili, the end of the road, need ask why. there’s a National Trust interpretative center, a pub and hotel, art gallery and “Gower is unlike the rest of South Wales,” a few homes. In 2011, a world’s Skinny said Blue Badge guide Bill O’Keefe, who Dipping record was set here when 400 leads tourists along the byways and naked people ran into the surf as part of through the sites of a magical land well a cancer fund-raising effort. on the way to recovering from the ecological ravages of unrestrained coal-mining. Up from the beach is Rhossili Rectory, Here, however, the scars of mining were a former parsonage that the Trust now mercifully avoided. Left instead is an rents to overnight visitors. area of primal beauty now protected by government and community watchdogs. The Gower is a naturalist’s mecca, full of Sheep grazing on a pasture overlooking the Gower Peninsula coastline.

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hiking trails, interesting geologic forma- Dylan Thomas, who grew up in nearby I had struck a traveler’s bargain here – tions and a profusion of birds and other Swansea, described the enduring scene finding a poet’s lair in this setting that animals as well as historical sites dat- some years before his death in 1953: is as much a part of the territory as ing back thousands of years. There are the protected bays and buffeted coastal Bronze and Stone Age ritual and burial “Laughing on the cliff above the very long headlands that mark the Gower. sites and hints of smugglers' roosts. golden beach, we pointed out to each other, as though the other were blind, Now, it was time for a conversion – takTurning around from my beach overlook, the great rock of the Worms Head. The ing a half-hour ride to Mumbles, a seaI took in Worms Head, a mile-long rocky sea was out. We crossed over on slipping front community in the city of Swansea outcrop jutting into the sea that is acces- stones and stood, at last, triumphantly with trendy hotels, bars and an old-style sible to hikers by a causeway only during on the windy top. There was monstrous, pier. You can base yourself in the many low tide. When the tide is in, all that can thick grass there that made us spring- rustic B&Bs of the rural Gower but, for be seen is the “head and humped coils” heeled and we laughed and bounced on the action, Mumbles is the place. of what looks to be a worm. it, scaring the sheep who ran up and “The infamous ‘Mumbles Mile’ seems down the battered sides like goats.” The late Welsh poet and playwright to have as many pubs, nightclubs and 80

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restaurants as paving stones, some of which may have been sampled by two of Swansea’s most famous residents, Dylan Thomas and Catherine Zeta-Jones,” wrote Alex Wade in “Surf Nation,” about the British surfing scene.

One of Wales' most beguiling figures, Dylan Thomas -- just Dylan in these parts –occupies center stage in Swansea and held the Gower Peninsula deep in his soul.

The mercurial Dylan was the type of Two more names to add among the locals man who could buy you a pint in a pub shaped by this area: actors Anthony Hop- and then break into a heated argument kins and Richard Burton. Burton’s mem- minutes later. One of the greatest Enory is kept alive in the mining village of glish-language poets of the 20th century, Pontrhydyfen, where he was born, and casual observers best know him for his the town of Port Talbot, where he devel- works “Under Milk Wood” and “Do Not oped his interest in acting. Hopkins also Go Gentle into That Good Night.” grew up in the area. His life’s story unfolds in Swansea’s Dylan Thomas Centre, opened in 1995 by

former President Jimmy Carter, himself a big Dylan fan. It has a permanent exhibition on the writer’s life, as well as a bookstore and café. The teetotalling Carter is an unlikely fan. People magazine in 1977 said “he could Top: Grey seal at Rhossili on the Gower Peninsula, South Wales. Opposite: A dramatic sky sets the mood off the coast of Gower Peninsula.

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not have picked a less likely hero than the roistering, wenching, boozing Welsh man who died in New York in 1953 of a ‘massive alcoholic insult to the brain.’’’ “We love our archetypes in Wales,” said Welsh actor Matthew Rhys, who played Thomas in the film “The Edge of Love.” “The big drinker, the carouser, the nogood boyo. Dylan’s image fitted incredibly well. And he was irreverent at a time you weren’t supposed to be, the 1950s.

and as stragglers raced the tide to hike back from Worms Head. This was definitely a moment, a newly discovered “I’ll be back” place. Next time I’ll be prepared with a map, hiking boots and a certain book of poetry. That’s all you need on The Gower.

IF YOU GO Blue Badge Guide Bill O'Keefe: www.

“We haven’t got many hell-raisers, but Thomas stuck two fingers up at it all and Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea: www. lived the life he wanted. Richard Burton (who was friends with Dylan and who was buried with a copy of Dylan’s poet- The Gower Society: ry) was exactly the same,” Rhys said. Today, literary and film pilgrims interested in Dylan and Burton can embark National Trust – Gower Peninsula: www. on hikes tracing their lives in South, including stops at pubs with con- gower-coast/ nections to the two local icons. Patricks With Rooms (Mumbles hotel): Back at Rhossili, a favorite of Dylan’s, I could see what were like toothpicks sticking out of the otherwise pristine Richard Burton heritage trails: beach below. These were the rotting timbers of the barque Helvetia, left from its wreck in 1887. There was time to take it all in for a few minutes more, watching the sun draw closer to the sea’s flat horizon as the paragliders remained like gulls overhead

Swansea and area: Visit Wales: Horses grazing on the heather with the Worms Head in the background. Top: Arthur’s Stone on the Gower Peninsula, South Wales. Photos courtesy Wiki Commons and Wiki Media

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was on my third visit to Hay-onWye, Wales, a charming market town in the Upper Wye Valley, on the border of England—and a book lover’s dream! Nearly everywhere I turned—on most narrow streets, I spotted a secondhand bookstore. The former fire station, the old cinema— even the castle! Some two dozen of


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them in this town of 1,500 house over one million books on every topic imaginable—collectible, used, discounted new, children’s--priced from 50p (about 75 cents) to over 2,000 pounds (about $3,000). Where to go first? Each shop—from “The Sensible Bookshop” to “Murder and

Mayhem”--begged me to enter. I darted in and out of various shops filled with books everywhere—on shelves so high that one needed a stool or ladder; books piled on chairs, stacked on floors. Never mind the dust! Or the musty smell. Or the requisite literary cat sleeping atop a counter or in a front window!


Some half million visit Hay each year. their owners to book racks; some bibBibliophiles of all ages—some on canes liophiles sat on stuffed chairs, sofas, old or pushing baby buggies--strolled church pews, leisurely reading. through the small streets on this crisp, sunny day as the church bell chimed In another shop, in a locked, glass case, noon. A few carried their book purchas- was a first edition of “You Only Live es in burlap bags. Twice” by Ian Fleming for 750 pounds (about $1120). A first edition of “TwenIn one large shop dogs on leashes led ty Five Poems” by Dylan Thomas was

Above: Many books can be found for a bargain in Hay-on-Wye. Left: In the charming “Town of Books”---Hay-on-Wye, Wales--it’s a book lover’s paradise, so don’t pack your Kindle!

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READING ONLY ZONE: Don’t park yourself here unless you have a book in your hand!


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Another bookstore sign proclaimed: “. . .IN THE MEANTIME, LET PEOPLE STIR THEIR STICKS AND GO TO AN ACTUAL BOOKSTORE RATHER THAN A DIGITAL ONE. . . .Stephen King.” ~ Bookstore sign at Hay-on-Wye priced at 400 pounds (about $600).

(today, semi-retired, he owns The King Tony Blair, John Major, Jimmy Carter, of Hay Bookshop on Castle Street). His Doris Lessing, Bill Bryson, Toni MorriKnown, not surprisingly, as “The Town vision was to create the largest second- son, Judith Dench, Desmond Tutu, Ariof Books,” Hay-on-Wye (called Y Gel- hand book center in the world. anna Huffington and John Updike. (The li—“The Grove”--in Welsh) is about 175 next one is May 26 to June 5, 2016). miles from London. No longer served And he pretty much did just that. Gradby trains, it takes a bit of planning to get ually more enterprising bibliophiles Hay booksellers acquire secondhand to Hay, unless you have a rental car. with dreams of owning secondhand books from all over—via donations or bookshops opened them in Hay, con- sales from old country houses, schools, Set near the River Wye in the foothills verting old buildings into a haven libraries, individuals. And some sell via of the Black Mountains—near the Gold- for book lovers. Through advertising the Internet, shipping books all over the en Valley, touching Brecon Beacons Na- and publicity gimmicks, the popular- world. tional Park, and boasting vivid green ity spread, and people now come from hills with grazing sheep—it’s the ideal around the world to visit tiny Hay-on- “But there’s nothing like actually browsplace for outdoor lovers. It’s perfect for Wye on a literary pilgrimage. ing in a bookshop, holding a book in those who want to take a stroll, go cyyour hand,” one owner told me as shopcling, hiking, camping, or canoeing—or “The Hay,” as it’s fondly dubbed by long- pers milled around the tiny store. who simply want a fresh-air break from time locals, has been known as a biblioreading! phile’s paradise ever since. “You can lose yourself in a shop,” added Cardiff-based Blue Badge guide Bill The earliest known reference to the town On April Fool’s Day, 1977, the beloved, O’Keefe, who laments that he never can was a 944 A.D. survey—but it wasn’t eccentric Booth—fed up with local po- visit the town without taking a handful until the 12th century that it was given litical bureaucracy—proclaimed Hay an of books home, much to his wife’s disthe name of La Haie (meaning “a fenced independent kingdom, crowning him- tress over where to put them all. or hedged enclosure”)—then became self King of Hay (his horse was dubbed Hay-on-Wye in 1947. Due to its loca- prime minister). He later got on the tion, Hay was the site of many battles. book bandwagon himself, writing “My IF YOU GO Its castle was founded in the early 13th Kingdom of Books” (with Lucia Stuart). For more information on the town’s century—and then destroyed in 1216. In later generations it was destroyed by Hay-on-Wye became even more fa- bookshops, activities, accommodation, fires or uprisings—and rebuilt numer- mous in 1988, when the Hay Festival restaurants, and directions: www.hayous times--as various tenants came and of Literature and Arts was founded by went. Most recently it’s the site of one locals Norman and Peter Florence with of the town’s largest bookshops, Hay winnings from a poker game. An event Hay-on-Wye bookshops: http://www. Castle Books. which really put Hay-on-Wye on the map, it has been referred to by the The asp On the castle ground’s cubbyhole book- New York Times as “a literary Sundance shelves, I was amused to see a sign tout- festival.” Today up to 100,000 swell the The Hay Festival of Literature: May 26 ing, “Honesty Bookshop; Paperbacks tiny town for 10 days each spring to at- to June 5, 2016: 50p, Hardbacks 1 pound. Please put tend the festival, where they can be enmoney into box.” An arrow pointed to tertained and educated by book authors, Blue Badge guide Bill O’Keefe: www. the small, hanging red box. actors, politicians, scientists, philoso- phers, poets, musicians, and comedians. For additional information: www.amerIt was book lover Richard Booth, a colwww.visitwales. orful Oxford grad--a collector of books Previous celeb authors and speakers, since age 14--who started this all. In have included Bill Clinton (who referred com and 1962, he converted Hay’s old fire sta- to the festival as “The Woodstock of the tion into a used bookstore, gradually Mind”), Paul McCartney (who read poopening other bookshops around town etry), J. K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie,

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t took a while to call up adjectives to describe the various emotions I experienced during my first visit to Alaska.

Yes, Alaska had been on my “places to visit” list for years. I’d heard friends wax poetic about their Alaskan travel experiences, recounting their impressions as they came face-to-face “Enchanting,” “magical,” “unbelievable,” “overwhelming,” and with pristine wilderness for the first time. Only in retrospect, “awe-inspiring,” were some of descriptive words that coursed once I myself had my spirit lifted by images of surreal landthrough my brain as I sat down to write this narrative of a remark- scapes and unending forests and tundra, could I understand able travel adventure. I think I finally settled on “mystical.” their reaction to being as close to untouched nature as many of us urban dwellers will ever get. 88

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Dawes Glacier My epiphany came one evening on the deck of the Safari Ad- soaked in the glory of Glacier Bay National Park’s Margerie venture, operated by Un-Cruise Adventures, one of the pre- Glacier, shimmering blue in the midnight sun. mier boutique adventure cruise lines conducting small ship cruises through Alaska’s Inside Passage. It was late evening That “mystical” evening, NPS Ranger Amy Brobeck definiteand some 80 passengers, crew and a National Park ranger (as- ly struck a chord in my soul when she stood on the bow and signed to our ship to help share the wonders and history of quoted a text from renowned naturalist John Muir. Her the bay and answer our endless questions), stood in awe as we words rang out clearly as passengers from all walks of life and Wine Dine & Travel 2016 


Near Juneau Alaska, a cruise ship navigates the Gastineau Channel.Opposite: Beet & Quinoa Salad, Alaskan Beer Battered Rockfish from the SALT Restaurant in Juneau.


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countries around the world quietly listened: “Wilderness is not only a haven for native plants and animals but it is also a refuge from society. It is a place to go to hear the wind and little else, see the stars and the galaxies, smell the pine trees, feel the cold water, and touch the sky and the ground at the same time ….”

can be easily admired from the expansive visitor center observation deck. We wanted to get a closer look and decided to set off on the relatively easy (but very picturesque) Nugget Creek Trail, which led us past pristine forest glens, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking glacier views.

A ride on the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway is another Our discovery began in Juneau, hub for all Alaska cruise ship “must do” on a visit to Juneau. Cable cars rise 1,800 feet from departures, big or small. Blessed by glorious late May weather, the cruise ship dock in downtown to the mountain peak, which my husband Tony and I spent several pre-cruise days in this offers expansive views of Juneau and the Gastineau Channel. charming town, which is also the capital of Alaska. Not content to stop here, we hiked up a glorious sub-alpine meadow path, resplendent with spring flowers, and enjoyed a We started out with a bang. The day of our arrival, we walked 360-degree view on Juneau and the channel below. a few blocks from our hotel to the historic Juneau waterfront and boarded a Wing’s Airways float plane to experience a After our vigorous hike, we enjoyed a fresh seafood dinner on five-glacier discovery tour. We took off gently from the water the terrace of the tramway’s Timberline Bar & Grill, munching under azure blue skies and soared over the Tongass National on crab tacos as we gazed out on miles and miles of old forest Forest (the largest national forest in the United States) and and kept our eyes out for bald eagles gliding from tree to tree. five majestic glaciers that make up the 1,500-square-mile Ju- We also spent some time meandering through the unique neau Icefield. Raven Eagle Gift Shop, which is not your typical tourist gift store, but more of an educational museum experience. Many I was privileged to see nature in all its wonder like a bird in of the exquisite artifacts for sale are produced by Native local the sky. I gazed down on magnificent glaciers, fjords, snow- artisans and are one-of-a-kind objects made from indigenous capped mountains, vernal lakes, and an expanse of wilderness artifacts. as far as the eye could see. As an added delight, our visit to the remote Taku Glacier Lodge included not only a freshly-caught Juneau is a picturesque town and we enjoyed leisurely walks salmon feast, grilled to perfection, but our very first bear through the quaint historic neighborhoods cascading up the sighting in the Alaskan wilderness. mountainside; savored memorable seafood dinners in the local dining establishments; enjoyed an eclectic shopping Our next stop, on land this time, was the Mendenhall Glacier, experience in the diverse stores lining Franklin Street, the one of the world’s few “urban” and “drive up” glaciers. Located main thoroughfare; and even learned much about the colorful less than a half hour drive from Juneau, this world wonder history of the region, and its indigenous people, in the Ju-

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Passengers observing Dawes glacier from sun deck. Bottom right: Dawes glacier excursion, guide and passengers. Bottom: Kayaking among ice floes


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neau-Douglas City Museum.

through the rain forest at Glacier Bay National Park’s Bartlett Cove; If you have the time to rent a car bushwhacked with a guide through to drive “Out the Road,” (a collo- pristine Alaskan landscapes to learn quial term to describe the 45-mile about the unique flora and fauna highway that leads past some of only found in this part of the world; Juneau’s backcountry until it dead gently glided through breathtaking ends at Echo Cove), you will be re- fjords on a SUP, and photographed warded with more breath-taking majestic bald eagles as they soared scenery. The highway winds past in the skies above. coves and majestic mountain vistas. Interesting stops en route include While I love adventure, I also love the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery, the my creature comforts at the end of Jensen-Olsen Arboretum, and the an activity-packed day. After peeling Shrine of St. Therese. The Eagle off our boots and waterproof pants, Beach State Recreation area is locat- it was definitely a joy to return to our ed at the end of the road and offers a comfortable cabin and await the call perfect spot for beach combing, hik- to Happy Hour. This was the time to ing, bird-watching and viewing the meet up with our fellow passengers whales, sea lions and other marine and share tales of our daily exploits. wildlife easily visible from the shore. We then convened in the dining room (no assigned seating so we sat Before we knew it, we were ready with different passengers at each to board our adventure cruise ship, meal) to enjoy a multi-course menu Safari Endeavor, and join fellow pas- that focused on locally-sourced insengers from around the world in gredients. Fine wines accompanied our exploration of the Alaskan wil- each meal and our on-board pastry derness. We sipped champagne and chef made certain that each sumpnibbled on succulent fresh shrimp tuous repast ended with a heavenly and crab hors d’oeuvres as we made dessert. our way through the Gastineau Strait, in the glow of a magnificent True to its name, a boutique advenAlaskan sunset. ture cruise is a combination of the excitement of actively communing Each day that followed offered one with nature, while being pampered memorable travel experience after afterwards with five-star service and another. The first day we sailed near- amenities. Our cruise even included ly 60 miles up-bay to the Margerie a luxurious, one-hour massage— tidewater glacier, a highlight of our sheer bliss for our aching muscles cruise through Glacier Bay National after kayaking for hours around ice Park, as described in my opening re- floes. marks. Traveling on a boutique adventure One of our last stops was a visit to passenger cruise has more benefits Dawe’s Glacier, in Alaska’s rugged than may meet the eye. The relative- Endicott Arm. As we enjoyed our ly small size of the ship allows entry dinner of fresh-caught Alaskan into fjords and inlets not accessible halibut, we gazed out the ship’s exby larger cruise ships. An added bo- pansive picture windows (which are, nus is the ability to enjoy off-ship incidentally, washed every day to excursions daily, which include kay- ensure an un-marred vista from all aking, skiff boat tours, and bush- the common areas) to marvel at cliffwhacking experiences--not to speak walled fjords, azure blue inlets, and of top-notch wining and dining and scenery widely acclaimed as one of spectacular scenery right outside the most beautiful in Alaska. your cabin door. The next morning, while we sipped And we certainly made use of these our cappuccinos on the upper deck, wonderful on-ship adventure offer- we heard a rumbling roar and ings! Tony and I kayaked through watched a huge section of the Dawe’s glacier ice floes; marveled at breech- glacier fall into the ocean right being whales from a skiff boat; hiked fore our eyes. It took me a moment

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Sunset on the Gastineau Strait. Bottom: Happy couple toasting their Alaskan adventure. Opposite: Safari Endeavor approaching inlet at Baranof Island.


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or two to realize we had actually witnessed a calving, something I had read about, but never thought we would experience. Chalk “calving” off my bucket list! That night, as our ship sailed back to Juneau, we celebrated our festive farewell dinner. Champagne glasses were raised in a salute to a remarkable journey. There was a communal camaraderie in the dining room, fueled no doubt by our collective experience in together discovering the still untouched wilderness of Alaska. I’ll never forget standing on the deck outside our berth that night, hand-in-hand with Tony. The heavenly sky in this wilderness defies description. Without any external lights to mar its glory, the night sky above was a jet black globe peppered with glowing stars and constellations of an amazing clarity, rimmed by the majestic Alaskan mountains that provided a perfect frame for that memorable scene. Now that I think about it, “mystical” is, without doubt, the right word to describe this extraordinary adventure.

IF YOU GO Check out Un-Cruise Adventures ( for information on boutique adventure cruises through various regions of Alaska, as well as other destinations around the world. Learn more about Juneau’s attractions at the Juneau Convention & Visitors Bureau (www. the official resource for comprehensive visitor information on the city and surrounding area. For the flight of a lifetime over Alaska’s magnificent glaciers, coupled with a succulent fresh salmon bake, contact Taku Glacier Lodge & Flightseeing ( Goldbelt Mt. Roberts Tram information can be researched at www.mountrobertstramway. com Juneau Restaurant Pick: Though it is a bit off the beaten track (just a few blocks uphill from Juneau’s restaurant row), SALT ( offers creative and unique Alaskan cuisine in a chic modern setting.

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the gracious traveler Etiquette Expert’s 10 Tips to Make Flying More Enjoyable ith airports and airplanes packed to capacity, flying isn’t always the most pleasant way to go. Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore, founder of The ProtocSchool of Palm Beach and a former flight attendant, offers these 10 tips to have a more enjoyable flight:

Be respectful of those around you. Airplane seating is tight and interaction with your seatmates is inevitable. Keep the volume of your headphones at an appropriate level and lower the light on your electronic devices so you don’t disturb or distract the person next to you.

Check before you recline. Airline seats recline to allow passengers to sleep and relax, but it may cause discomfort for the person behind you. If you intend to recline your seat, do it gently or better yet, turn around and make sure you don’t inconvenience the person behind you. Raise your seat during mealtime so the person behind you can enjoy his or her meal.

Parents, be prepared. When babies cry uncontrollably in flight it’s probably because their ears hurt from the air pressure. It’s a good idea for parents to be prepared with a bottle or a pacifier or something to make their children swallow and relieve ear pressure. And remember: smell travels. Parents should not wait until the plane takes off to change their baby’s diaper. Change your child’s diaper in the lavatory – not on the seat beside you.

Bring your own food. Don’t depend on the airline to offer Check in online and arrive early. Most airlines allow you food for sale. Many don’t offer more than peanuts or pretzels. to check in online within 24 hours of departure. This will Bring some snacks from home or buy something in the airport save time at the airport. Give yourself plenty of extra time to hold you over until you reach your destination. Stay hydratin case you encounter airport parking difficulties, long ed with plenty of bottled water. Steer clear of packing pungent lines at security checkpoints, or an oversold flight situa- foods that contain garlic and onions. tion. Arrive at the gate at least 30 minutes prior Pack the Pepto. To be on to departure to avoid getthe safe side, tuck some ting bumped. Prior planPepto-Bismol into your ning helps relieve stress. suitcase, especially when you travel overseas. ForBook your travel eign food and water may during off-peak times. cause an upset stomach, You’ll avoid the crowds which can ruin a holiday. and save money if you travel during late night or Allow those in front of early morning hours. You you to disembark first. may have to give up an Rather than grab your lugextra hour or two of sleep, gage and make a run for but you can always rest the door, follow protocol. on the plane. If you need to make a connection or know you’ll be Don’t pack more than in a rush, try to arrange to you can lift. The number be seated near the front of one pet peeve of flight the plane. attendants is passengers who bring carry-on luggage too heavy for them to lift. Don’t expect the flight attendant to Hold your tongue. If you have a complaint about another lift your bag into the overhead bin. If you pack it, you stack passenger, don’t take matters into your own hands and don’t it. Or flight attendants will be happy to check it for you. Be demand that the plane land at the nearest airport. Alert the mindful that some airlines also charge for checked luggage. flight attendant.

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