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Archive for Hotels

Hotel Del – Coronado Island, San Diego – 2012 Christmas Tree

Visiting some of the more famous trees at Christmas time is such a pleasure. Click the tree several times to see the full image and zoom in on some of the decor. Happy Holidays, everyone!

This is a photo of the main Christmas tree in the lobby of the Hotel Del, Coronado Island, San Diego, CA.

Hotel Del Christmas Tree 2012

Terranea Resort and Beauty in the Eye of the Dessert Beholder

I can’t help myself; I see beauty everywhere, especially in Nature. Next, I see beauty in objects that Nature inspired, like cake. And I take photo after photo of those moments that catch my eye because I love to share, make greeting cards or paintings from them and of course, they provide me with thousands of vivid memories or inspiration.

It was a beautiful day on the coast. Sea birds, birds of prey, dolphins and whales spouting in the water made it a magical day atop the bluffs in Palos Verde, CA. It wasn’t quite happy hour; more like afternoon tea. A coffee and small bite of something decadent was just the ticket and Sea Beans Cafe inside the hotel grounds is just the thing a traveler needs for a little pick-me-up. Here are some of my images from my visit to this cafe at Terranea in January.

This is a photo of the chalkboard menu inside the Sea Beans Cafe at Terranea Resort.

This has YUMMM written all over it.

This is a photo of the dessert display case inside the Sea Beans Cafe at Terranea Resort.

What's not to like? I'll take one of everything.

This is a photo of candy signage in front of a tray of gourmet chocolates.

Stop and think about this for a moment. Read the sign again and let your imagination take flight. Yes, two servings will help confirm that you got the tasting notes correct!

This is a photo of handmade chocolate cups filled with Tiramisu dessert at Sea Beans Cafe in Terranea Resort.

It does more than pick you leaves you changed forever.

This is a photo of a pecan tartlette.

For times when you feel a bit nutty.

This is a photo of a a fruit tartlette at Sea Beans Cafe in Terranea Resort.


Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas Nevada – Fun Stuff I Saw

Inside the hotel, there are numerous areas that have been decorated in a fantastical manner. The artsy touches and designs change with the season and are always spectacular, designed to be whimsical and take one’s breath away. As my visit coincided with Mother’s Day and Springtime, the presentation was along the lines of “April showers bring May flowers, what do Mayflowers bring?” –the answer might surprise you. Take a look!

Handpainted umbrellas with large colorful poppies hang upside down from wires in an artistic show, under the glass ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Icelandic Poppy Painted Umbrellas Overhead

This is a photo of hand painted umbrellas hanging from various wires in the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

Poppies always delight the eye

This is a photo of umbrellas hanging from the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

This is a photo of hand painted umbrellas in detail as they hang from the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Seriously, what's not to love?

This is a photo of hand painted umbrellas as viewed through an archway into a garden.

I want to have cocktails under these umbrellas!

This is a photo of the garden scene behind the concierge desk at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

Maybe after a few cocktails I'd feel like Alice...

This is a photo of large planters with flowers tucked into a large fountain basin at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Genius! No need to throw out your old fountain, stuff it full of planters. But make sure they've had a few cocktails first.

This is an image of a vintage Schwinn bicycle resting against a ticket booth in a flower bed inside the Bellagio Hotel and Casino Conservatory of Flowers, as part of an artistic display.

No locks needed

This is a photo of the heron bird sculptures made from moss, seashells and paint inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Bigger than life herons

This is an image of a floral sculpture at the Conservatory in the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Floral Sculpture or Floral Painting?

This is a detail of the floral sculpture inside the Conservatory at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

All I could think of when I saw this masterpiece was, "Wow!"

This is a photo of the painting referenced by the floral sculpture inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

The floral sculpture is inspired by this painting by David Hockney. The original is inside the Bellagio Hotel in the Fine Art Gallery.

This is a detail of the floral sculpture inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Someone gets an "A+" for artistic cleverness. How I wish it was me...

This is a photo of a handcrafted butterfly that hangs from the ceiling inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Butterfly Magic!

This is a photo of a large pink butterfly resting against a handcrafted tree inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Butterflies are best seen from a distance. Up close, they are quite creepy.

This is a photo of a handcrafted tree with pink blossoms and butterflies inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Blossoms and much more enchantment can a person handle?

This is a photo of my daughter Arabella inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Arabella inside the Bellagio Conservatory

Terranea Resort – Things That Catch The Eye

This site has provided me a platform to write and show image of all that I love: the beauty of the outdoors, the beauty of the indoors, food and wine and more. Terranea captured my eye in many ways from the wide sweeping views to minute decorating details in the resort. Take this wall in the spa for example. I think it is made from saki cups that have a hole bored out in the bottom for attaching them to the wall in a concentric manner to replicate the white blossoms of spring. Dang! That is clever in my mind!

This is a photo of what appears to be white ceramic saki cups nestled into each other and attached to the wall in a formation of scattered blossoms.

White Ceramic Blossoms at the Spa in Terranea Resort

This is a photo of the spa wall from a distance to capture the look of white blossoms cascading from the ceiling towards the floor. The blossoms appear to be made from white saki cups.

Spa wall of blossoms

Other things that caught my eye there:

This is a photo of an oil painting of a sailboat at the dock framed in gold.

Plein Aire Impressionism Abounds at Terranea Resort

This is a photo of an oil painting (Plein Air Painting of the Cove at Terranea Resort, Palo Verda, CA.)

Plein Air Painting of the Cove at Terranea Resort, Palo Verda, CA.

And the outdoors are decorated here and there, too:

This is a photo of glass Morrocan Hanging Lamps hanging by the pool area.

Morrocan Hanging Lamps

Outdoors I spotted many beautiful plants, flowers and details.

This is a photo of the center of a cactus plant.

Ruffled Succulent

This is a photo of a lucious lime green cactus plant.

Geometry in nature casts a spell!

Florist setting up a magnificent outdoor wedding let me poke around with my camera.

This is a photo of the center of a white lilly in a wedding arrangement.

Oh, Lily! Where are your stamens?

This is a photo of white hydrangeas in a wedding arrangement at Terranea Resort, Palos Verde, CA.

Pure. Fresh. White Hydrangea.

This is a close-up photo of the center of a decorative white cabbage.

When did cabbage start looking like a rose?

This is a photo of a wedding arrangement at Terranea Resort, Palos Verde, CA.

Timeless arrangements...

I hope you enjoyed some of these images. I could do an entire month of posting on the artwork hanging in the resort there is enough to fill a museum! Does anyone know if the artwork is by local artists?

India’s Rich Cuisine – Part II

in Food, Hotels, India      tags:

Breakfast in Jaipur highlighted the foods of India’s south – dosas, rice and lentil batter pancakes made on a dark griddle.  It was served on top of a green banana leaf, on a platter formed to resemble an artist’s palette with wells indented in which to put railway chutney, curry leaf, tomato and coconut chutney.  Inside was a scoop of hot spicy potato mash.  Delicate and delicious!

Other Southern Indian breakfast items included the small white idlis, made of steamed rice flour, and medhu vada, a dense doughnut made of lentil.  Also, sago vada- chick pea gram flour soaked for 24 hours, then ground fine, formed into balls and fried.

Lunch at the Maharajah in Jaipur treated us to the desert cuisine of Rajasthan.  Laal Mas, lamb curry and Kher Sangri, the skinny desert beans and berries, dried, then rehydrated and cooked with onions and spices, was a superb introduction to the region, and to dishes we had never heard of before.  We ordered a rice dish and mint (methi) parantha bread to accompany it.

At the Ranthambhore Taj Hotel, our stay was marred by unexpected monsoon like rains for 2 days.  I struck up a conversation with Nagendra Singh, the General Manager, and soon I was in his office for 2 hours of talking about our mutual love of Indian cooking.  I told him how delicious the food had been the first night, and soon he was calling in the chef and his assistants, bringing ingredients and equipment to show me, such as a wooden butter churn, dried desert berries and beans, gourds, carom seeds for digestion and for stopping bleeding after childbirth. That afternoon was my favorite memory of India.   I was furnished photocopies of each day’s menu, which I transcribe below:

Monday lunch:
Bhindi Jalfrezi – okra fried, tomato, onion, ginger, garlic

Bainghan Bhurta- eggplants baked in charcoal oven, stripped, crushed, with spices and onion

Paneer Achari – farmer’s cheese with pickle and mango sauce from pickling

Pittod Pullao – specific to that region, rice pilaf with gram flour-chickpea, oil, salt, chili powder, aniseeds, curry

Ghosht Saag Nala – Mutton/goat bones in a bright green sauce comprised of mustard greens

Makkhan Wada – refined wheat flour, sugar, ghee, cream dessert

Monday dinner
Paneer Mutter – green peas and cottage cheese

Cabbage Tamater – cumin seeds and grated cabbage strands, tomato shreds

Ghiya Kofta – white gourd, green coriander powder, crushed cottage cheese, crushed potato, balls in tomato gravy

Kadhi – thin chick pea flour gruel, yogurt, coriander powder, turmeric, mustard seeds, garlic, onions, asafetida, made into balls

Vegetable Biryani – light, fluffy rice with small bits of vegetables

Moong dal Halwa- intense, sweet, grainy dessert

Tuesday lunch
Bharwan Capsicum Stuffed with Cheese & Tomato, meltingly delicious and light

Paneer Palak – light farmer cheese in delicate green mustard/spinach sauce

Mutter Tamater Curry – peas, tomato

Chutneys & Tamarind sweet sauce

Pullao – with vegetables, beige, almonds

Keema Liver Masala – ground meat with small vegetables

Tuesday dinner
Murg Methi Malai – chicken with cream gravy, spiced with fenugreek, ginger, garlic, onions, turmeric, tomatoes and red chilies

Gobhi Tamater tomatoes with other vegetables

Sarson ka Saag – spicy mustard/spinach greens with turnip, dill, radish, ginger, green chili

Paneer Tikka Lababdar – farmer’s cheese

Lemon Rice- yellow, light and fluffy

Seviyon di Kheer dessert

We were rolling our eyes with pleasure every time we took a bite.  As soon as Nagendra found out we adored the chef’s food, he organized an outdoor cooking demonstration, under the veranda eaves.  A stainless steel cart with clay tandoor on it was rolled out, and eggplants were impaled on a 4’ skewer and roasted.  After removing the skins, the eggplant was combined with spices and onions and garlic and presented as an appetizer.

There are, according to Nagendra, 5 key ingredients that a cook is able to get anywhere in India: meat (lamb/chicken), clarified butter (ghee), salt, whole red chili, water, garlic.  The chef whipped up a curry using these simple ingredients.

Lastly, he combined chick pea flour with yogurt and oil to form a dough.  He rolled it into tubes and cooked these in water until it foamed.  Then he made a curry with the cooking water and spices.  All were delicious.

While we were in India, we didn’t have one bad meal, only good, delicious, and ambrosially delicious meals!  I won’t recount all the meals we had, but the other really good ones happened at the Lake Palace Hotel.

Chicken Murgh ka Sole, and Mixed Vegetables. This was accompanied by mango pickle, green coriander chili hot sauce, and chutney.  We brought the chef out to compliment him.  He has promised to send the recipes by e-mail, which I will share if I manage to obtain them.

In Jodphur for our 2010 Thanksgiving feast, we enjoyed a blend of north and south India.  Cauliflower and potato stir fried with chili, coriander,coconut, mustard and curry leaves (south) and gosht baghar (north),well marinated lamb cooked slowly with yogurt, mustard seeds, fenugreek and red chilies. Scrumptious cheese paratha accompanied our meal.

Culinary regards,

Claudia and Gail

Christmas 2010: “Hotel Del Coronado”, Coronado Island, CA

This is a photo of Tina Benino sitting in a chair in the lobby of the Hotel Del Coronado. The hotel is decorated for Christmas and everything is merry and bright. Including the visitors!

The Incandescent Tina Benino Waiting for Santa

On a whim, my girlfriend Tina and I, who were hoping to see the December Nights in Balboa Park but got stuck in the worst traffic imaginable trying to get there, hung a u-turn and headed over to Coronado Island and were rewarded with a magical night of Christmas lights. From the dramatic and colorful display of living trees uniformly lit down the center divide on Orange Avenue to the roof line of the Hotel Del Coronado illuminated with miniature white lights, Coronado Island is worth a visit in December, after sunset.

As you draw near the Hotel Del Coronado, the pleasant sound of the ocean crashing onto the stretch of beach outside the hotel adds to the excitement. It’s almost winter here in San Diego, CA but the atmosphere is beach resort all the way. The mood is young, festive and lighthearted. Families split up and go their own ways; Children take to the ice rink while parents hang out at the bar within sight of the rink.

This is a photo of the famous Christmas tree in the lobby of the Hotel Del Coronado. It is at least twenty feet tall and heavily decorated with candy- and Christmas-themed ornaments and white lights.

Candy-themed Christmas tree in the Hotel Del Coronado lobby.

Rather than take photos without a tripod outside, I opted for using my Flip camcorder to take some brief clips of the sights and sounds as it is more forgiving without a tripod. The photos posted here are from my 2009 visit.

One of my favorite trees is the aqua colored tree in the passage way between the shops and restaurants. It has an underwater theme and I just love it!

This is a photo of a starfish Chrsitmas ornament in aqua blue and pearl colors.Behold! A star…fish…shining in a tree!
This is a photo of a fish Christmas ornament with glitter stripes.

A rare specimen of Glitter Fish

This is a photo of a gold sea horse Christmas ornament.

Giddy-up, horsey! Let's go to town!

This is a photo of a toddler reaching up to pull on Frosty the Snowman's big red pom-pom buttons. Frosty is a six foot tall stuffed toy.

Ooooooo! Belly button!

I hope you are enjoying the sights and sounds of the Holidays where ever you are in the world!


The Grass in Greener in Bordeaux

We felt the weight of the additional inspections during the trip from San Diego, through Dallas and London Gatwick to Bordeaux.  The airline felt the weight of all the oat bran, psyllium, toilet paper, paper towels, coffee and bicycle helmets we had in our luggage.  By 10:30 a.m. we were in the pub at Gatwick ordering up half-pints of John Smith Yorkshire ale and Directors’ Courage.  The stress disappeared.  Soaring over the French countryside, we saw the offshore islands of Ile de Re and Ile d’Oleron.  It was brilliantly sunny over Aquitaine for miles, and we could see the muddy river Garonne widen to become the Gironde estuary.  Thousands of vineyards and a castle were visible down below.  Then the white limestone buildings of the city of Bordeaux came into view on the river’s west bank. 
For the first few days, we rest from jet lag in a hotel before driving a car.  We reserved a one bedroom apartment with kitchen at a new aparthotel, called Appart City, near the Merignac airport.  This cost 50 euros a night plus 10 euros for high speed internet.  We didn’t find out until later that, although messages were coming in, our messages weren’t getting out!  The dim bulb attendant at the desk didn’t tell us we needed to change the outgoing server name to 
Each year we book our car through Renault Eurodrive.  You “buy” a car for $30,000, then sell it back to Renault at a pre-agreed price.  The difference between the buy and sell prices reflects your daily rental.  In this case, we paid about $33/day for a 1.9 liter Renault Megane 4-door diesel 6-speed manual car.  Fuel has really gone up since last year.  Regular gas is 1.29 euros per liter, and diesel is 1.06 euros per liter.  One euro is now worth $1.28.
On Friday we picked up the Megane and drove immediately to a gas station (because they only give you 10 liters in the tank).  We were warmly welcomed at the pharmacy in the little town of Cestas Gazinet where we are staying.  We bought a new chip for our GSM cell phone.  It was lunchtime, so we reserved at the Clos Tassigny, where we fortified ourselves with some pate, delicate salmon and beef .  Even if you only “reserve” a half hour in advance, you get the royal treatment when you come back in earnest!
Xavier Guibert, the owner of this gite, suggested we check in one day early (usually gite rentals run from Saturday to Saturday).  We have been coming here since 2001.  We like the combination of the spacious, elegant house, and the location.  It’s a long, low “longere”, rectangular 2 story house.  It has 4 bedrooms, and 3 bathrooms.  The living room is wallpapered in turquoise, and chairs in yellow print.  There is a black marble table in the center, and a grey marble fireplace.  The ceilings are 12 feet high.  It is about 190 square meters, or about 2,000 square feet.
There was a new oriental rug in the living room, new bedspreads, chair covers and tables.  Most important to us, Xavier hooked us up to his wireless high speed internet connection.
The house is located a short walk from the train station (14 minutes north to Bordeaux), bakeries, vegetable market and butcher.  Behind the gite are an immense span of grass and 100 year old trees.  On the white stone terrace are umbrellas, table and a barbecue.  All around is the magnificent oak and pine forest with bicycle and hiking paths.  In the garage are our bicycles, which we bought 4 years ago.  In the attic are 8 boxes of sheets, towels, knives, phone and satellite TV receiver, everything you need to be at home in France.
Our neighbors Jean-Paul and Rachel came over bearing the case and a half of wine they had stored in their garage since we left last November.  They invited us on a bike ride in the pine forest this Wednesday.  We spent Saturday setting up the gite.  On Sunday we greeted the vegetable lady and the cheese person at the outdoor market in Cestas Bourg, then returned to the gite to grill duck breasts, in a sauce of fresh peaches, Cointreau, butter and shallots, accompanied by fresh green beans and garlic basil potatoes.
We caught up on all the gossip from our friends.  Our friends Carole and Michel just split up (they live near Spain in the Pyrenees Orientales).  The secretary of our former gite owner Evelyne Allien just lost her husband to liver cancer at 51.  Our friend Nicolas just succeeded in getting his teaching credential and will begin as an instructor in LeMans on Monday.  Jennifer and Francois, whom we were tutoring in English last fall, have gotten jobs in teaching and forestry with a long-term contract.  These young people truly deserve it, for they were willing to move to another city and even work for free, just to achieve their dream.
Everyone told us how unbelievably hot July was, and how it rained almost every day in August.  How will this affect the famous Bordeaux grapes?  We shall soon find out.  The ferns and corn are green, greener than we have ever seen them at this time of year.  But, one thing in the forest is not right:  the iron-rich spring down by the stream has completely dried up.  We pray it returns.
It’s hot this afternoon, so we have closed the tall white shutters to the terrace.  It’s comfortable and cool in the stone house.  Tomorrow we will take the train into Bordeaux.  We will pay the gite rental for October, shop for olive oil and perfume, go to the House of Japan to try to find a Japanese language tutor so I can continue my studies, and have a nice lunch in town.  Friday is the book club meeting. I am reading the books in French as fast as I can.  Saturday we will drive south to the fantastic Bazas market for herbs and sausages and then see our favorite Sauternes winemaker, Evelyne.
All these things unfold in the same order, at the same rhythm, as they have every year.  We can’t call this adventure travel.  Rather, we are walking down a path we have followed for many years.  We just enjoy the everyday pleasure of living in France.
The grass is greener over here.  But not so green when the chill winds arrive in November.  We’ll be back home by the end of October. 
Claudia and Steve