Travel, Etc.

Travel, Etc.

Travel, Etc.

Travel, Etc. --> Early 2007 Readers Survey

Early 2007 Readers Survey
This time, readers tell us where to go

We conducted our first Readers' Survey back in 2002, and a second in 2004. In both cases, we were amazed by the responses. In 2004, we had almost 300 replies recommending everything from restaurants to enjoy to wineries to visit that we were able to share with our readers. And we just haven't taken the time to call upon you again.

We think that the problem with most general surveys is that the demographic they draw from is always too broad and generic. Places like Don Pablo's are always chosen "best Mexican" or the "best steak" will always be at St. Elmo's. Since the love of good food and wine seems to be a common denominator among our customers and readers, we got some great responses in the past. The result was that almost everyone discovered something new through the shared experiences...and we'd like to do that again.

Since we have requested your thoughts on restaurants in the past, we thought we should try something new ... travel! We all have special places we enjoy visiting. In our case, we keep winding up on Sanibel island in February and taking long weekends in Saugatuck, Michigan in August. So how about it ... where do you like to go? Maybe the rest of us are missing something good that you need to tell us about.

1. What's your favorite vacation destination? What should we do? Where should we stay? What restaurants should we try?

2. Where is your favorite weekend getaway? What should we do? Where should we stay? What restaurants should we try?

First up, road warrior Greg Hoover has some great suggestions for us...

I travel a LOT...about 100k miles a year on AA. So my stuff might be a little outside what you're looking for — I mean, after sixteen business trips over the course of a year, a weekend in Chicago or NYC doesn't quite hold the same charm, you know? But I gotta participate....

1. What's your favorite vacation destination? What should we do? Where should we stay? What restaurants should we try?

This is a tough one. Hawaii is always great, but that's such a long trip. I guess I'd say Cabo, and it's hard to beat staying at the One and Only Palmilla (yes, that's really the name — part of the "One and Only" chain). The food and service there are incredible. That money from Oprah's 50th b-day was well spent! Past the kitchy tourist stuff and party bars, Cabo is pretty thin...but hanging out in a hammock by the Pacific with a Charlie Trotter meal and wine list ahead of you for dinner is my idea of unwinding.

Domestically, I'm a San Francisco guy: close to both Napa and Sonoma for all day outings, amazing restaurants, and so much culture and history. The restaurants are pretty well documented, but you have to try Bix sometime if you're there: it's this funky little piano jazz place that is literally off an alley--when you leave the front door to the alley at night, you look up and the Met bldg is towering over you enshrouded in fog. Great music, great food, a terrific bar, and excellent wine list.

One of my favorite little side trips whenever I'm out there is to go to the old WW II gun placements up in the hills on the north side of the Golden Gate bridge. Gorgeous views of the bay, the city and the ocean...but bring a coat — if it's 80 in the city, it will be 50 up there with the wind off the ocean!

You can also do the little known state park near Half Moon Bay — redwoods and terrific hiking that isn't as well known as their sequoia cousins further north up the coast. And finally, consider Half Moon Bay on its own — there are a couple of great hotels, including a fairly new Ritz Carlton, and this great little fresh seafood dive bar right by the pier...classic place to sip on a cold beer as they bring you bucket
after bucket of mussels and oysters. Mmmmm!

2. Where is your favorite weekend getaway? What should we do? Where should westay? What restaurants should we try?

I used to live there, but I love St Louis. I think for the size of town, its dining is on a scale with any city in the country. There are some great B&Bs — it's a little further away but check out the unique little River hotel in Godfrey Illinois. Otherwise the Danielle in Clayton is always good, as is the Chase Park Plaza.

For dining: Annie Gunn's in Chesterfield is my old local hangout...awesome wine list and terrific menu--broad variety. Roxanne's in Clayton is a wine bar with a tremendous menu too--if you end up there for lunch they have a steak sandwich that is thickly sliced, perfectly medium rare, with an incredible herb sauce/blue cheese blend on a soft roll. Outstanding. And if you are in the mood for Prime Rib, the best I've ever had is at Kreis' on Lindbergh...not to be confused with Ruth Chris. Mouth-watering tender and you can cut it with a fork straight out of the frig on the second day. Get the Queen's cut--it would feed a family of five. The Central West End is great too--some funky little bars and one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Cafe Balaban.

To do? World class zoo, Forest Park, the Science Center, the Magic House, and of course -- my beloved CARDINALS! WORLD SERIES CHAMPS and a beautiful brand new roost! :-)

Sebastiani winery representative and Michigan resident Paul Criger knows where all the good restaurants are in his state....

Being a Michigander, I have a geographical advantage on you in Indianapolis. For us in the Detroit area this is a weekend destination, but if I was coming from Indy I'd make it a week.

My favorite part of Michigan. Head up to the NW corner of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Especially Petoskey, but Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, Walloon Lake, Boyne City... all will do. Try in June or September, before or after the "peak season crush" (or October for the colors). In summer stay up late, get out of town on a clear night and look for the Northern Lights.

From Charlevoix, Boyne City, Walloon Lake or Petoskey try a day trip up to Cross Village. I recommend going up US 31 through Petoskey (stop to shop etc. on the way up or the way back) to Cross -Levering Road and then west to Cross Village for lunch at Leggs Inn. If it's nice, dine out back overlooking the lake and the straits. Come back south on M-119 through Harbor Springs. Stop for a walk along the harbor, some shopping, get something to eat at the New York, (say hi to Bill Bugera or his son Matt for me)... Back to US 31 south. Go to Boyne City and get out and walk the town.

Dinner spots: (reservations are a good idea)
Tapawingo - Ellsworth (Former James Beard nominee)
The Rowe - Ellsworth
Walloon Lake Inn - Walloon Lake (also B&B rooms [say hi to Chef/ Owner David Beier for me])
L'Attitude - Bay Harbor
Andante - Petoskey (say hi the Chef/Owner Bob Stark for me)
Villa Ristorante - Petoskey (Great wine list — authentic Italian cuisine (say hi to Alex for me)
The New York - Harbor Springs
Chandler's - Petoskey

Lunch spots:
Leggs Inn - Cross Village
Red Mesa Grill - Boyne City
Whitney's - Charlevoix
Village Inn - Charlevoix
Mitchell Street Pub - Petoskey
Stay at Stafford's Waterfront Inn. Walk the town and enjoy life.

Reader Noel Jansen has some suggestions for Turks & Caicos, one of Linda and my favorite islands. And, if your still a member of the Ambassadair Travel Club they still have some direct charter flights there from Indianapolis.

Our favorite vacation spot is Turks and Caicos Islands. Providenciales is the island we stay on, and we love staying at Ocean Club West. It is moderately priced and has beautiful grounds. We stay there as a couple or with our family and find it to be perfect for us either way. The units are condos so that you can buy groceries for breakfast and lunch and then splurge on dinners. There are more exclusive and expensive options for accommodations as well.

The currency is the American dollar and English the primary language making this a very friendly destination. There are a reported 12 miles of beach, and it does seem to go on forever. The beach is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, and the ocean color an amazing turquoise.

The restaurants are fabulous. Our very favorite is Coyaba, which is an eclectic gourmet restaurant with a wonderful wine list. Also excellent are Anacaona, Caicos Cafe, and Gecko Grill. (All are within walking distance from Ocean Club West.) For Italian, try Bella Luna or Baci. We have been amazed at the high quality food and restaurants!

Things to do include snorkeling off the beach at a National Park (off Coral Gardens hotel), scuba diving if you are so inclined, long beach walks, sailing and RELAXATION! It is a great place to leave behind the hustle of everyday life. For a fun casual restaurant, try Da Conch Shack. It will require a car or cab ride to get there.

From Bill Phillips, a great destination that Linda and I could not agree more with. We thought it was beautiful in July....

If you ever have the opportunity, you should visit Banff in the Canadian Rockies. I suggest July or August, but I am not into winter sports. It is also a great ski destination in the Winter. I highly recommend timing the trip during the Calgary Stampede and spending a couple of days in Calgary as well … that is, if you are into Western version of Mardi Gras!

You can fly into Calgary and drive about 1.5 hours west to get to Banff. If you make the effort, then you must try to stay at the Banff Springs Hotel. It is like a Castle nestled in the Bow River valley at the outskirts of Banff, built by the Canadian Pacific Railroad in the 1800s. Book reservations well in advance. It is a very popular place. Also ask for a room with a view of the valley, golf courses, etc. It is a spectacular view.

Bus tours are available, or just get a tourist map and take off in your car. Must see places include Lake Louise, a drive up the Ice Field Parkway, and the Town of Jasper several hours north if time permits. There are also a lot of sights in the immediate area of Banff.

Banff and the Canadian Rockies are in my opinion the most spectacular scenery in North America.

Patrick and Kelly Link love Charleston….

What's your favorite vacation destination? What should we do? Where should we stay? What restaurants should we try?

Charleston, South Carolina! An absolutely romantic southern coastal city that has landmarks and features that date back to the 1700s. Stay on the battery at the Charleston Place Hotel in Charleston. While in Charleston you can walk and tour the Market, tour the Citadel grounds, walk along the bay and view the beautiful homes in the battery. Visit the many shops and quaint old-time stores.

There are many fine dining restaurants there. Two places that my wife and I love to eat at are High Cotton - Traditional southern style fine cuisine. I recommend the roasted duck filets with one of the many fine 2005 Pinot Noirs they carry from Willamette Valley.

The second restaurant we would recommend is the Planters Inn Restaurant. This 1700s style Inn and Restaurant is second to none. Eat out on the open garden. This restaurant carries the finest Atlantic Seafood along the eastern shores. Wine selection again is broad and will meet anyone's tastes.

There are many restaurants in Charleston and all vary on price points. Charleston is for the person who truly enjoys a sophisticated area with great foods, good shopping and fine spirits. The crowds tend to be those who enjoy the finer things in life.

Bob and Nancy Dorwart enjoy San Diego. I checked, The West Coast Fancy Food Show is there next January... I think Linda and I need a business trip!

Our favorite destination is San Diego, Coronado Island. Stay at the Del Coronado Hotel and enjoy walks along Ocean View Drive. Marvel at the hotel's Victorian architecture and history. Don't miss Sunday Brunch in the Crown Room (9:00-2:00). Plan on two hours and pace yourself -- so much to enjoy, so little time. For nearly equal quality brunch at 1/3 the price of Sunday Brunch at Crown Room, eat at Sheerwater's Restaurant and be sure to sample the flatbread. They serve every morning starting at 7:00.

Sightsee at Balboa Park and San Diego Zoo, Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum.

Eat at The Blue Point Restaurant in San Diego's Gaslamp District. Don't miss the scallops and be sure to have a Mandarin Martini. Expensive but worth the price. Great wine list.

Also try Tomaso's Restaurant on Coronado Island (don't miss the Italian wedding soup -- best we've ever had) and sample any pasta with their meat sauce (outstanding flavor). Moderately priced (by San Diego and California standards).

Another nice restaurant on Coronado is Primavera's. Exquisite seafood specials -- can't lose selecting one of their daily specials. Ask for table 5, 6 or 7.

The Marine Room in LaJolla is a great setting and service is terrific, food is outstanding and beautifully presented, albeit pricey. This restaurant is literally on the ocean shore adjacent to the LaJolla Beach and Tennis Club, and scenery is wonderful, with waves crashing on a beautiful beach just outside restaurant windows. The white crests reflected in the lighting are a wonderful view to complement the evening.

Reservations are needed in all of these, especially at high season (May-July), so go online and call before you head out there. Don't use online San Diego restaurant reservation service -- too glitchy.

We can't wait to repeat visit.

Laura I. enjoys Lake Michigan...

My favorite week end get away... I was just there this past weekend! New Buffalo, Michigan. Drive time is about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Beautiful, blue waters of Lake Michigan, and sandy white beaches. Several darling shops, several very good restaurants. Stay at the Harbor Grand, enjoy the Terrace restaurant summer and fall (outdoors). One of my favorite restaurants is Brewster's Italian Cucina. Sitting outside with a fabulous glass of Soave, great pizza, salads, pasta... or drive to Tabor Hill and enjoy wonderful meals in their own vineyard restaurant. Tosi's is another favorite restaurant near St. Joseph, Michigan. There are so many places to enjoy and explore, pure relaxation.

Here are some ideas from St. Martin expert Steve Russo....

Our favorite vacation destination remains the island of St. Martin/St. Maarten. The French side -- particularly Marigot & Grand Case -- have the most fantastic collection of fine cuisine restaurants in the Caribbean (sorry St. Bart lovers).

To make your selection, we advise heading to Grand Case (20 minutes north of Marigot) some day and walking the main street to check out the various bistros in advance of your dinner.

Our faves are Le Tastevin -- on the water, French Island cuisine, wonderful ambience, Le Cottage -- great French entrees, including several foie gras specialties and Stephane, one of the island's best sommeliers, will recommend from their many excellent wines, by the bottle or glass. Il Netuno and Restaurant du Soleil are side by side bistros -- good for late lunch or early light dinners. Sunset Cafe or California are also good places for lunch in Grand Case. Of course, you can always stroll down to the beach and buy some savory goat ribs from a local vendor.

If traveling to Marigot (French St. Martin capitol), head to either the harbor district or (our favorite area), the Marina Royale district where bistros line side by side around a marina filled with ocean-going yachts and sailboats. Breakfasts at La Croissanterié are a must (and surprisingly affordable). Dinner is always good at La Brasserie, La Tropicana (better service if you speak French), Le Chanteclaire (fried crab in mango raviolis, duck livers & lobster) and Le Brasserie (casual, great pizza).

Uncle Harry's on Airport Road is a back-water, hard-to-find, Graham Greene kinda place that serves outrageous broiled lobster and memorable margaritas. And Mario's Bistro (on the water at the pier in Sandy Ground) is known for its romantic dinners.

For a brush with Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, enjoy a luxury dinner at the famed La Sammana resort (south of Marigot). Overlooking the Baie Longue beach, your intimate dining experience includes 3-star cuisine, impeccable service and this guy with a huge wicker basket of fresh-baked French breads. RSVP in advance.


SUNSET BEACH BAR - a great hang-out bar on Maho Beach, perched on a rise directly next to the airport. Sip your favorite libation while watching tourists running for their lives off the beach when Air France comes in for a landing.

CLIFFSIDE BAR - located through the Cupecoy Beach Club, this bar literally hangs off a cliff and provides the best vantage point for St. Martin's famous sunsets. We've seen the famous "Green Flash" sunset from here.

AMERICA'S CUP 12-METER CHALLENGE - This is so cool. You crew on an actual 12-meter yacht - the same as raced in the America's Cup! Grind the winch and trim the sails on Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes...or the French and Canadian ships. Find out more and book in advance at:

PLUM BEACH - Want to see how Steve Hilbert's spent his Conseco spoils? Every beach in St. Martin is open to the public. Find Plum Beach and look for the estate that looks like a mini-resort. Yep, that's Steve's pad -- the largest private home on the island (which is saying something). Plus, the beach is beautiful and rarely has over a dozen people on two miles of sand.

FERRY TO ANGUILLA - We used to go to Anguilla for a day of privacy. Now we head over on the every 2 hours ferry to ogle the humongous condo complexes and visit trendy euro-bistros that have exploded on this spar of white sand (16 miles long - 2 miles wide) over the past 5 years. Once sleepy, now trendy, head to Shoal Bay Harbor for snorkeling or diving. Bikes and scooters are available for rent

A DAY ON ORIENT or DAWN BEACH - Euro hedonism runs amuck on these two beaches famed for their topless women, short fat guys in speedos and shack after shack of bar/food joints. Para-sail, scuba, wave-runners, beach umbrella/lounge chair rental, waiters bringing drinks -- it's a day-long party that's worth a try.

Sandy Lindstrom and here husband were married on Angullia, a small Island just off the coast of St. Martin... here are her Anguilla favorites.

1. Fly into St. Maarten..There are one stop flights from Indy. That's the best way top go,i.e. US Airways thru Charlotte.

2. Hire a private boat to take you to Anguilla…The small planes from St. Maarten to Anguilla are hot and uncomfortable, not to mention severe luggage limitations, and hassles/delays at customs in the Anguilla airport. Our man is Captain Lyle and his fabulous boat. His numbers are…Email: and FAX: 1-264-497-0779, and cell-1-264235-6205.

3. After crossing the street from the airport to the dock buy Champagne for the boat trip over to Anguilla at the small grocery (yes, they have the good stuff!). Tell Captain Lyle you need Champagne flutes and ice for the trip (that plus serving the bubbly is included in the crossing price of $250).

4. After disembarking at the harbour of Blowing Point, you go thru a relatively painless customs check and are greeted by Nell or his nephew Julian the best taxi service in Anguilla. Nell's numbers are FAX: 1-264-497-6410 and Cell: 1-264-235-6409. I make reservations via FAX and ask him to verify receipt (give him your FAX or Email for his nephew has an Email address). Nell will take you to the resort or villa and will provide taxi service for the rest of your stay and charge you at the end of the week if you wish.

5. Best websites for Anguilla are and Explore these sites for best beaches, restaurants, activities and nightlife. Having said that I will give you a list of my favorites.

6. Restaurants…Anguilla is a cornucopia of great food places. Good idea to make reservations for dinner. I'd do Blanchard's before leaving…it's very popular. If you see the owners, Bob or Melinda, say hello from the Lindstrom's. Blanchard's is our favorite. They wrote a book -- A Trip to the Beach -- which is a must read before your trip. They also have a cookbook out. Simple, fresh island flavors..YUMMM.

Scilly Cay (pronounced silly key) is an incredible experience not to be missed. A small island just offshore serves only lunch of lobster and chicken and their special sauce. The best though is their special rum punch. Don't plan anything for the rest of the day...not even dinner. Most people don't make it past 5 PM awake. We do this at the end of a morning of snorkeling offshore on Captain Lyle's private boat.

Georges's and Pimms (romantic and lovely) at Cap Juluca (we love lunch at George's and their beach IS THE BEST!!) We were married there in 1998.

Lunch or dinner at Maillouhana. Again if you do lunch plan to play on their beach or if you do dinner go early to the lounge and watch the sunset...pick an evening when they have Sprocka at the lounge playing (he's the island's most romantic guitar player!! He played at our wedding!). If it's quiet they make take you on a tour of the wine cellar at Maillouhana. It's spectacular... the largest in the Caribbean.

Altamer is elegant and romantic. We stayed at their villa with 8 others from Indy a couple of years ago so if you see Maurice, the chef say hello from Chuck and Sandy Lindstrom -- he's the best. Call ahead if you like chocolate soufflé and he'll make it!

Corals is good (it's near Maillouhana and the Dolphin Experience so you could do beach or dolphins and work in lunch).

Mango's is good and fun (check for when they have live music...when we went the whole restaurant was dancing by the end of the evening!)

Palm Grove Bar and Grill for lunch and play on a deserted, beautiful beach afterwards (he rents's about a 20 minute cab ride but sooo lovely….Nat, the owner, fires up a generator to make frozen drinks.

Oliver's has a beautiful view so an early dinner to watch the sunset would be nice. Have Nell (the taxi driver) make the reservation for he is a good friend of the owner.

Cuisnart...Santorini wasn't our favorite meal on the island but we are giving it another try this trip. It is pretty and Sprocka plays on certain evenings. Their beach bar is one of our favorites(and play on the beach).

Flavours...overlooks Road Bay so another earlier dinner would be nice. Great seafood.

Straw Hat is a bit of a drive but good food and on the water.

Koal Keel is in an historic building and has great food but it's in the middle of the island so pick a cool, breezy night only!

Elodias on Shoal Bay…a stunning beach and snorkeling offshore. A bit of a cab ride but sooo worth it. Pick a beautiful, sunny day for lunch and beach.

Roy's on Crocus Bay and Smokey's at the Cove are on our list for this trip. Both bays are beautiful so we want to try the food destinations (a lunch and play on beach!).

7. Nightlife…not a big deal in Anguilla but The Dune Preserve next to Cuisinart on the beach (famous people jam here) and Johnnos at Sandy Ground harbour (Friday and Saturday nights) are the top spots. Food won't be stellar but they hop on certain nights. The Dune Preserve has a special full moon party so check your calendar.

8. Shopping…The best is a day trip by public ferry to Marigot in St. Martin. It's French and the shopping is wonderful. Market days are Wednesday and Saturday. Great places to eat along the marina. After shopping hop a cab to Orient Bay and Bikini Beach Bar restaurant. Good food (Lobster salad and piña coladas...YUMM) and they rent chairs and umbrellas for the afternoon. It's a nude beach!!

If you want a quieter more romantic experience have lunch at La Samanna Resort in St. Martin and stroll their beach. And there is Friar's Bay and the beach bars there. Not as crazy as Orient but not as fancy as La Samanna…also closer to Marigot. Check with Nell on the time of the deluxe ferry for a nicer trip across. Take care on days with choppy seas or even the toughest folks get a little queasy. North Hill area has a neat shop called Irie Life that has nice beach clothes, T Shirts, and sandals. The drugstore in The Valley has inexpensive souvenirs. The resorts all have nice shops as well.

9. Activities…Beyond playing on different beaches each day, you can play with dolphins at Dolphin Fantaseas (1-264-497-7946) at Mead's Bay. Make reservations ahead for they limit participants. Very cool experience but expensive…well worth it. Eat lunch at Coral's or Frangipani.

A morning for snorkeling offshore with Captain Lyle is a must too. He'll pack up any drinks you want. Get some snacks and off you go. End up at Scilly Cay for lunch and then let Captain Lyle take you home to bed!! It usually runs about $100 per hour.

10. Check out the calendar of events. There's always fun events going on!!

The travel notes continued to flow in last week and they are all so good I hate to not use them. This is the longest newsletter I have ever sent, and I still could not use them all! Let's go to Paris, Spain, Hawaii and Argentina all by way of Stowe, Vermont!

Ivan Ivancevich has discovered that not only is Argentina a great destination, it's a serious bargain!

While not “world travelers,” the second to the last time my wife and I were in Argentina, my wife proclaimed “Before we return to Paris, we are coming back to Buenos Aires.” We have been back. Buenos Aires is like Paris, without the Parisiennes! Rather, the folks there in Buenos Aires are like Chicagoans. The extremely favorable exchange rate makes it the all time travel value. The arts, sites, restaurants are non-pariel.

Stay at the Etoile Hotel in Recoleta (the Lincoln Park of Buenos Aires) . El Cemeterio Recoleta is nearby, beautiful mausoleums and Eva Peron rests there.

Restaurants - Definitely LOLA in Recoleta, El Birol (where the Buenos Aires famous go to “See and be seen” and for the very best Asado (grilled meats)….El Portugese in the Hippodrome area. A neighborhood restaurant with the best, famous Argentine beef and sausages. Until my boss once stated that there is no beef in the world like Argentine (I thought him a little over the top) and I traveled there to try it out……it can not be described……NO BEEF you can buy in the US comes near it. Until you have had Argentine beef , asado style, you simply haven't had beef.

A trip to Mendoza (the Napa) of Argentina is well worth it. Maipu, near Mendoza, has Bodegas Lopez. Take a tour and have and Asado deep in the cellars, surrounded by the vineyard's 25 year old Malbec vines. Argentine wines are spectacular and Cigarros Cubanos a deal in Argentina. Visits to “Farias”, flea markets, reap jewelry, artesinal offerings, antiques and novelties like none you've seen.

While in Buenos Aires take in El Teatro Colon, an exact replica of La Scala, hosts not just opera, but classical offerings, plays, and modern performances. An evening at El Catedral, a very off-beat tango bar/ vegan restaurant, take tango lessons , and watch a performance surrounded by posters of Che. Contact Pancho Rebollo Paz, a thirteenth generation Argentine ( for guided tours of El Tigre and a day outing to an estancia (ranch) for horse back riding on the pampas and an on-site asado hosted by genuine gauchos.

Go to Buenos Aires Puerto Madero, take the hydrofoil across Rio De La Plata for a day trip to Colonia in Uruguay. A quaint South American village with great restaurants, home loomed wool sweaters for $4 and a couple 1956 Studebakers here and there. Look into it. After the airfare, count on paying one-third what you would elsewhere for lodging, food, etc. Three pesos (Argentine dollars) to each US dollar.

Sandy Lindstrom, who also told us about Anguilla, loves Paris too. Here are her Paris favorites.

Invalides/Eiffel Tower Area (Ecole Militaire Metro)
1. Eiffel Tower and Jules Verne Restaurant. Check to see when they turn the sparkling lights on at night!!
2. Dome Church - Napoleon buried here
3. Rue de Cler - Beautiful pedestrian market street turn and go down Rue de la Champ de Mars-super cheese shop 1 block on right, Marie-Anne Cantin. You'll see the Hotel du Cadran where we stay. Also great bistro on corner of Rue de Cler and Rue de la Champ de Mars.
4. Rodin Museum - Beautiful grounds as well and a nice restaurant for a snack.
5. Boulangerie Jean Luc Poujauran - 20 Rue Jean Nicot- heavenly pastries

St Germain
1. Walk the Boulevard for cafes and shopping.
2. Luxembourg Gardens and St-Sulpice Church (From the Da Vinci Code) (Odeon Metro)
3. Musée d'Orsay - The old train station filled with Impressionists works!! A must see!!

Ile de la Cite and Ile St Louis
1. Notre Dame - Vieux Bistro nearby, 14 Rue de Cloitre Notre Dame
2. Pont Neuf - beautiful views down the Seine
3. Berthillon - great ice cream on Ile St Louis
4. Pont des Arts - beautiful down the Seine

1. Place des Vosages - incredible square with cafes and shops all around.
2. L'Ambroisie - good restaurant at Place des Vosages
3. Musée Picasso - 5 Rue de thorigny

Forum des Halles - great shopping

Opera Quarter
1. Our favorite wine bar L'Ecluse on Place de la Madeline near Lucas Carton. Zillions of Bordeaux by the glass.
2. The Opera House is worth a visit-soooo beautiful.

Champs Elysees
1. Rue du Faubourg Saint Honore - Fashion world headquarters, all the top designers, great restaurants and bars.
2. Pont Alexandre III - Fantastic view toward the Eiffel Tower (and where Chuck proposed!)
3. La Maison du Chocolat - Rue Francois 1st and 225 Rue du Faubourg st Honore- need I say more

From the sound of this Liz Cullen may be a member of the Stowe, Vermont Chamber of Commerce... in any case it sounds good to me!

Stowe, Vermont is a wonderful destination four seasons of the year. There are lots of recreational opportunities in Vermont. Stowe is blessed with a wonderful 5 mile recreational walking/bike path that runs along the West Branch river. It starts in the lower village and extends up the Mountain Road toward the ski area. There are plenty of places to rent bikes, roller blades and skis along the path. It is beautiful at all times of the year. It is wonderful to watch the leaves on the trees bud up in the spring and then turn to gorgeous colors in the fall.

Summer allows one to take a dip in the river while on the path. Stowe Mountain Resort offers many attractions in the summer: gondola ride, alpine slide, bungee jumping and a ride up the toll road to the top of Mount Mansfield. There is passage over the mountain that is only open during the summer/fall when there is no snow. It is called Smugglers Notch and is a twisty road with many large boulders. This area is a starting point for many hikes up the mountain and for rock climbers to practice their skills.

There are many wonderful places to stay such as the Trapp Family Lodge (Sound of Music Fame), The Green Mountain Inn, The Stoweflake, Top Notch, Stowe Mountain Resort. In addition there are many smaller inns and bed and breakfasts in the area. One of my favorites is the Edson Hill Manor or the Brass Lantern.

The larger inns have their own restaurants and activities on site. My favorite is the Trapp Family Lodge. They have a small lunch spot that overlooks the mountains while you eat a traditional Austrian meal. There is also a wonderful bakery that sells breads and pastries daily attached to it. Dinner is served in the Main dining room and is really a special experience. They also have monthly wine tasting parties.

The village and Mountain Road area have many wonderful restaurants along the route. There are no chains in the Stowe. Our favorite was the Foxfire. It is an Italian restaurant and also has a small B&B attached to it. Their tomato sauce is wonderful and I really enjoy the eggplant parmesan with a glass of wine. The Swiss Pot (Fondue) and Michaels on the Hill are also favorites.

It is easy to travel to other destinations in Vermont from Stowe. If one is flying to Stowe they would fly to Burlington, Vt. And then drive to Stowe. Burlington is also a wonderful city that is on Lake Champlain. Lake Champlain is considered to be the 6th Great Lake. Cabot Cheese, Ben and Jerry's Ice cream, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Cold Hollow Cider Mill are worth visiting while in the Stowe area.

Ray Boucher made one of those great discoveries that makes poking around France so much fun....

I had a great experience on a business trip to Nice, France that your readers may find interesting. A colleague and I were walking a market in Antibes and went into an olive oil shop. We asked the proprietor to show us what he had and he pulled out a couple of small plastic cups and proceeded to pour a substance we thought to be olive oil into each. He then pulled out another bottle which he said was sugar water and added it to the prior mentioned substance. The milky solution that formed was not what I would have expected when water met olive oil, sugar or not. He handed us each a cup and without hesitation we drank it all. It had an anise flavor and was obviously not olive oil.

It turns out that he sold both olive oil and absinthe and had the only absinthe museum in France below his shop. We went downstairs and were treated to the entire absinthe ritual of dripping cold water from an urn onto a slotted spoon holding a cube of sugar into a glass of absinthe. A customer in the bar gave us the entire history of absinthe. It turned out to be one of those unexpected moments that made the entire business trip memorable. If any of your readers journey to the South of France, have them find this shop. The olive oil wasn't bad either.

Absinthe Bar La Balade 25 Cours Masséna, Antibes - Tel. 04 93 34 93 00 -email:

Phil and Janice McCord are very enthusiastic about Maui, Hawaii....

In response to the best vacation destination.... We love going to Maui Hawaii in January. Arriving in January is the best time, the whales are really busy having their calves, they play all day long...its a sight to see. The Mercedes Golf Championship is in January which is a lot of fun...the Senior Skins Game is shortly there after, sometimes it works out time wise that we can go to both in one trip. The best thing to do in Maui is "Relax" nothing or do a lot. There is plenty to do in Maui, or you can become a local and just hang loose.

We have found that wine is plentiful in Maui, a lot of good buys around and many of the restaurants have "wine nite". Vino's up in Kapalua has a half price pupus (appetizers) on Tues. and Wed. nite, and a great wine selection. Silver Oak Cabernet is $79 a bottle. Of course, the view there is spectacular. Our favorite place to hang out is the Hula Grill at Whalers Village in Kaanapali. The dining room Chef, Bobby Masters delights in cooking for you at the counter. What a treat, the Shrimp/Crabmeat appetizer in phyllo, his version of baked Alaska that is made with pineapple ice ream and fresh pineapple, it is fantastic. One thing we love to have there with wine is bread and sweet chili water. Yummm.

They have happy hour at their barefoot bar daily from 3-6, what a view to sit and watch the whales and all the activity on the beach, last time we were there just this last January we had wine in Reidel wine glasses and saw gorgeous sunsets. If you should make it to the Hula Grill, be sure to walk across to Leilanis and try the Hula Pie, what an experience that is, be sure to share it with someone. Orrin Cross is the General Manager at the Hula Grill, give him a Hoosier Hello when you are there, he is a great guy and will always make you feel welcome. If you enjoy college basketball, a good time to go and the whales are still in season, is Thanksgiving week, the Maui Invitational is played right up the road there is Kaanapali.

We always stay at the Kaanapali Villas, the price is right, there is a nice restaurant on the property, Castaways, they have one of the best wine lists on the island. They offer a free shuttle down to Whalers Village, which is really nice if you've have wine to drink. Right next door to the Castaways is Don the Beachcomber, a cute little bar to hang out at that has live island music in the evening. Its great to live in Indiana and spend some of the winter in Paradise!

And Paul Sims agrees with the McCords... he just finds different things to do.

Maui, Hawaii. Hike in the rainforest, or along the shore on the King's Highway Trail; Go for sunrise and then Bike down Haleakala volcano; Take an afternoon speed-sail on Paragon and snorkel the Coral Gardens; Take in Art Night on Fridays in Lahaina; Visit the black sand beach at Waianapanapa St. Park near Hana; Go for Sunset at the summit of Haleakala; Play and swim at Big Beach in Makena, Kaanapali Beach, or Kapalua Beach on Kapalua Bay; and lots, lots, more.

I recommend staying on the Northwest Side of Maui in the Kaanapali, Napili, or Kula area -- we prefer a condo, but there are houses for rent too ... and of course there are all the overpriced hotels ... and if a hotel is your preference, we would recommend the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, or The Grand Wailea in Wailea on the Southwest side. Our favorite restaurants are: Mama's Fish House, The Plantation House, Roy's Kahana Grill, Longi's, and Kimo's.

Debbie F. loved Barcelona....

Barcelona, Spain has been my favorite. I lived there for a several months and learned that driving in Europe is not such a scary thing after all. You just better know where you are going. Top 5 things to do from my experience...

1) The absolutely first thing you should do is go to the top of the Ramblas and take that tour bus of the city. It will take you everywhere and show you all the neat tourist things to see. Be careful in the Ramblas though -- widely known locally for pickpockets and such.

2) Walk around the Barrio Gotico. It's very neat and has little cafés all over in the most unusual places. Very nice everywhere I went. Four Cats Café was known to have hosted Picasso and his buddies on somewhat regular basis.

3) Rent a car and go North to Girona and the beaches at Roses and the fishing town of Cadaques.

4) Take the train and go South to Sitges and my favorite beach, Castell d'Altafulla (had to look this one up.) There are wineries near here too, but need a car for that.

5) A hike up the mountain in Pedralbes near ESADE was always a great time for me. However, it's steep, so beware of rocks and slippery spots. But the view was unbelievable. There's also a restaurant you can go to for drinks on this mountain a few miles away. You have to take a trolley up. Not very accessible to tourists, but very neat if you can get to it.

Where to stay... of course, there are plenty of places to stay in the center of town. Otherwise, there is a neat bed and breakfast in Pedralbes I think (a very well-to-do area of town that hosts tennis Grand Slams).

Restaurants... hmmm. Spain, in my opinion, is not known for its food. However, they have great charcuterie and beef. So, any of the tapas places along Passeig the Gracia are fun as well as regular restaurants where you can order some nice beef dishes (Citrus, Agua, La Fonda, El Hostal de Rita -- had to look these up too.)

Thanks for letting me reminisce. Hope someone else enjoys these wonderful places as much as I did. Ciao!