Saturday, July 28, 2012

Visiting Prince Eric in Sacramento

Going to Eric Kunze's shows around the country affords me the opportunity to get to know cities I might not otherwise visit.  It also gives me the chance to plan travel opportunities with friends and family members.  Since they are usually long weekend trips I can do them more often than extended vacations and, thanks to my obsession with collecting frequent flyer miles, it usually is more affordable that way and doesn't cut too much into my work schedule. 

This trip was one of the first times I have been able to travel with my sister Caroline.  Her business and family keep her busy most of the time.  But she had never been to California and this was the perfect chance for us to experience it together.  Hopefully, it is not the last time we will be able to have so much fun traveling together! 

We saw "The Little Mermaid" three times at Sacramento's Music Circus, a theater in the round which seats 2200 people and there is not a bad seat in the house.  The set is minimal, some of which is dropped from the ceiling, some is brought onto the stage by crew and some of the action takes place in the aisles.  After the shows, we waited for Eric as he patiently signed autographs and posed for pictures with the throngs of dressed up little girls eager to catch a glimpse of "Prince Eric" and "Ariel".  We organized and attended an Eric Kunze fanclub meeting at Cafeteria restaurant with other fans who had traveled into Sacramento for the occasion. 

Caroline and I also took two day trips, one to the Napa Valley area and one to San Francisco.  In Napa we had a scrumptious meal at Morimoto (of "Iron Chef" fame) and visited a winery designed after a Tuscan castle.  In San Francisco we had a great meal at Scoma's, an institution that has been around since 1965, visited the Japanese garden at Golden Gate Park, drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and ended our day overlooking the water in Sausalito.   The five days went by so quickly, but we are hoping to do it again really soon. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Nevis: An Overview

I always gain perspective on trips when I am back home in my normal routine. It is only then I can appreciate all the people we met and the beauty we were able to see. They are memories that stay with me for a lifetime. No luxury I can buy, no house, no car, no jewelry, could ever enrich me more than the money we spend on travel. I will do it as long as I can draw breath. Thank you to everyone on Nevis who made our trip so special: from those adorable kids at St. Thomas Primary, to Isaac, to Marlon, Paterson, Armena, Ethan, Doreen and especially Jane of the Lazy Turtle.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nevis Day Six: More Lobster!

Some days it seems as though we are going from one meal to another on this vacation, interspersed only by napping and floating in the pool. Today we were not only treated to a free lunch AND a free dinner at two different exclusive resorts on the island, we also were personally brought a freshly caught lobster to our door. I had casually expressed the desire to cook a lobster here at the villa to Armena, the owner of the pottery we visited yesterday. She talked to someone and secured one for me from a local fisherman. They are hard to come by, because the restaurants on the island buy them all. She remembered where we were staying and brought it over personally. Amazing!

Now the question was: how the heck do I prepare this beast? After looking it up on Google, I managed to do an OK job and the result is in the fridge for tomorrow's lobster salad sandwich lunch.

Our first free meal was lunch at Nisbet Plantation next door. We had lobster sandwiches, little knowing we would have lobster delivered to us later. I am hooked on lobster, especially on some good bread, cut into chunks and simply dressed with mayo, salt and pepper. We had a lazy afternoon, then dressed for dinner at the Mt. Nevis Hotel. We got there in the nick of time for sunset. It was Mexican night. We were greeted at the entrance with tequila shots and led to our table overlooking thr twinkling lights of the island of St. Kitts.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Nevis Botanical Gardens

This Thai-inspired garden was so beautiful no further words are needed...

Nevis Day Five: Lobster!

Last night at the beach barbeque our maitre d', Paterson, told us of his own place called Lime Cafe on Pinney's Beach. I had been on a quest for the perfect grilled lobster and he assured me that would be the place to get it. Once there we realized we had passed by on the way to Sunshines a few days ago, right next door. Paterson greeted us with a big smile, only this time not in a dark suit, but a colorful shirt, shorts and sunglasses. He looked like a cooler, younger, more relaxed version of the formal man we had met the night before. As soon as we were seated he bought us mint-scented, ice cold washcloths, a really nice touch. There was no question what we were going to order. The Caribbean spiny lobsters are different than the Maine lobsters we typically get in the States. They are smaller and sweeter, split down the middle and grilled. He was right: it WAS the perfect grilled lobster. From now on I will be comparing all future lobster dishes with that experience.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Nevis Day Four: Babies and Beach Barbeques

Our villa, The Lazy Turtle, has these great pineapple wall sconces, which are also to be found at Nisbet Plantation next door. They would be the perfect addition to our cottage at home. I found out from the nice lady at Nisbet's reception that they are made and sold at the pottery right across the street. Of course that was first on my "to do" list for the day.

I got so much more than a wall sconce. The building was so nondescript we had passed it by several times before noticing the sign, which was propped up near the ground. In the entryway sat a man holding an adorable baby, trying to keep cool in the shade. The shop owner and artist (Armena?), her hands grey from the clay, had been expecting me, since her daughter works at Nisbet and had told her of my interest. The baby was her little boy and the man her father. Luckily there was one pineapple sconce to be had and I happily purchased it. The baby, Ethan, who up until now had been sitting contentedly in his grandfather's lap, started getting a little fussy. I asked if I could hold him for a minute. He came to me readily and reached up and started playing with my blond hair. It is a precious moment that will remain in my memory forever.

That evening was the weekly beach barbeque at Nisbet Plantation, complete with music and dancing. We were greeted at the entrance with a rum punch, which we sipped while perusing the wares of some local gift shops which were on display. After listening to the steel drum bank for awhile, we proceeded to the pool area to be seated for the buffet dinner. That is when we first met Paterson,the maitre d'. He is the kind of person you never forget. Very formal, dressed in a dark suit and colorful tie and a big smile, he seemed to know everyone and everyone knew him. Throughout the evening he constantly checked on us to make sure we were well taken of.

The buffet was an assortment of Caribbean fare: plantains, rice, vegetables, seaweed salad, barbequed steak, shrimp and different kinds of fish. We strolled home in the dark and floated in our pool, looking at the brilliant star-lit sky, the steel drum music wafting its way across the sand to us.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Nevis Day Three: Schoolkids, Killer Bees and Sheep Crossings

After a lazy morning of swimming and sunning, we set out in the car on a mission. Before the trip I had read that people sometimes bring school supplies for the island children. We had packed a small collection of markers, paint pots and brushes, scissors and finger puppets and were looking for the right place to donate them.

Before long we spotted an elementary school called St. Thomas Primary School with kids running around the schoolyard for recess and we knew we'd found the right place to visit. The children swarmed around me, asking my name, asking me to take their picture, telling me I was "nice", admiring my skirt. I wished that we'd been able to bring more supplies. We had a hard time tearing ourselves away and we waved goodbye to each other until we were out of sight.

. Our next stop was of a more adult nature: the infamous Sunshines, home of the "Killer Bee". The recipe is a closely guarded secret, but is reputed to contain the homemade moonshine made on the premises. It's a colorful beach bar with an equally colorful owner. The beach at Sunshines is pleasant and restaurant patrons are entitled to use their beach chairs and umbrellas. For the second day in a row we had a lobster sandwich. Perhaps we should try to find the best lobster sandwich on Nevis? What a fun project!