Monday, March 31, 2014

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA: CEMETERIES, A CITADEL, AND A COVE



BY JANET STEINBERG

Halifax is the cosmopolitan capital city of Nova Scotia.  It is Canada’s 13th largest city and its residents, called Haligonians, make up 40% of Nova Scotia’s population.  It is a friendly city where visitors might be welcomed by the "Oyez, Oyez" of a vociferous Town Crier.   

Nova Scotia, the second smallest province in Canada, is approximately half the size of Ohio.  In Halifax, a city that embraces the sea, all roads lead to the shore. It is a city that Mother Nature carved out of a hill…where you are never more than 35 miles away from the water.

THEODORE TUGBOAT DOCKED IN HALIFAX
With a population just under 400,000, Halifax is the largest city east of Quebec City and north of Boston.    It offers a dynamic and intriguing mix of heritage and culture.  Since its founding in 1749, Halifax has played a key role in the economic and cultural development of Canada and the northeastern Atlantic seaboard. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

SANTA BARBARA: AMERICAN RIVIERA

BY: JANET STEINBERG



With its lush, year-round Mediterranean climate, 100 miles of sweeping prime Pacific coastline, an annual average of 300+ days of sunshine and fresh ocean breezes, burgeoning wine country, and Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara is one of America’s best-kept secrets..

Its unique east-west coastline (the only one from Alaska to Cape Horn) Riviera provides soothing year-round southern exposure and perfect temperatures ranging from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year.



 STEARN'S WHARF, CALIFORNIA'S OLDEST WORKING WHARF

Monday, February 17, 2014

FOR WINING AND UNWINDING, IT’S NAPA TIME

BY: JANET STEINBERG

Stress got you down?  When all else fails, head to Napa Valley.  With more than 270 wineries set amidst 38,000 acres of rolling vineyards, hundreds of divine restaurants, a myriad of championship golf courses, and a plethora of world-class accommodations, Napa Valley is the place for your own personal Urban Renewal.

Napa Valley, 50 miles northeast of San Francisco, exudes the flavor of Italy’s Tuscany and France’s Bordeaux.  Stretching only five miles across at its widest point and 35 miles from north to south, the Valley is divided into vineyard regions called “appellations”, and consists of 6 different cities and towns, each with their own distinctive character.

The most heavily traveled hot air balloon corridor in the entire world, Napa Valley (Valley of Plenty) was so named by the native Wappo Indians.  Today’s Napa Valley is unabashed in its abundance and is rich in agricultural bounty and man-made offerings.

From the San Francisco airport, I headed to the town of Yountville.  Although Yountville has the smallest population of Napa’s incorporated towns and cities (pop. 2957 in 2011), it is the hub of the Napa Valley where the Wine Country experience begins to unfold.  Yountville is a walking town, rich with history and character rooted in a century past.
         
It is also the locale of the 23-acre Vintage Estate that consists of Vintage Inn, an 80-room French country-style inn, the 112-room Villagio Inn & Spa and the historic Vintage 1870 specialty shops complex.  

The intimate Vintage Inn blends 19th century romance with simple wine country elegance, Vintage Inn is a step back in time to a French country boutique hotel of the late 1800’s.
VILLAGIO INN AND SPA
           

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

KEY WEST ICONS: A SALOON KEEPER, A WRITER, AND A PRESIDENT


BY: JANET STEINBERG

Key West, Florida is many things to many people.

This Southernmost Point in the continental United States (only 90-miles from Cuba) is a place where pirates once preyed and presidents once played.  It is a place where straight meets gay, where drunk drinks with sober.  lt is Caribbean and continental, traditional and avant garde. It is Mallory Square Pier where the local Conch people, the visitor, the juggler, the belly dancer, and the mime, all gather for nature's nightly spectacular…a fiery sunset when that great orange ball seems to drop off the edge of the universe.

But for me, Key West is best remembered for three salty characters that made a permanent place in the city’s history…a saloon keeper…a writer…and a president.

THE SALOON KEEPER: Joe Russell is a name you may not recognize, but I’m sure you’ve heard of “Sloppy Joe’s”, a bar that was born on December 5, 1933, the day prohibition ended.

Joe Russell was the original proprietor of a bar named the “Blind Pig”, located in a rundown building that Russell leased for three dollars a week.  Upon addition of a dance floor, the name was changed to the “Silver Slipper”.  It was a shabby, uncomfortable saloon where good friends gathered for gambling, fifteen-cent whiskey, and ten-cent shots of gin.

Ernest Hemingway, Joe’s friend and a favorite patron of Russell’s bar, suggested that Joe change the name of the bar to Sloppy Joe’s.  The new name was adopted from Jose Garcia’s Rio Havana Club that sold liquor and iced seafood. Because the floor was always wet with melted ice, his patrons taunted this Spanish Joe with running a sloppy place…and the name stuck.


 SLOPPY JOE’S BAR

Monday, January 20, 2014

SILVERSEA’S SILVER SPIRIT: ESCAPE FROM WINTER BLAHS

BY: JANET STEINBERG



I was lucky to “get out of Dodge” just in time.  Well, it wasn’t really Dodge City, Kansas, but it was Cincinnati, Ohio just before the ice and snow piled up.  I headed south, way south, for fifteen glorious sunny days which I am about to share with you.

Day 1: As Silversea’s Silver Spirit set sail on the first leg of its 1726-nautical mile round-trip Caribbean cruise from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the ship’s 476 passengers and I settled in for a relaxing evening at sea.

Day 2: Another day was spent sailing the Florida Straits and Caribbean Sea as we continued our 536-nautical mile cruise to Cozumel.  By this second day, I was already so pampered and spoiled that I didn’t care if I never got off the ship.

Day 3: The Silver Spirit docked at Cozumel, Mexico at 8 AM.  Smaller than Cancun, Cozumel is a marriage of commerce and Mother Nature.  When it came time to select a shore excursion, I chose Silversea’s “Living History – Mayan Traditions and Island Tour”.

SILVER SPIRIT DOCKED IN COZUMEL