Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Palace Hotel

The Palace Hotel's Garden Court Restaurant is one of the most beautiful dining places in California.
The Gilded Age opulence and wonderful service make dining here a real treat.

The fresh fruit section featured some of the biggest berries I've ever seen.

After breakfast we took a guided tour of the hotel, and other historic buildings along Market before sampling Cow Girl Creamery cheeses and Acme Bakery breads at the gourmet markets of the San Francisco Ferry Building.

San Francisco Elegance

San Francisco has so many beautiful architectural details. We visited the murals in the historic post office that has been preserved as part of the modern Rincon Center.

The Flood Building is a graceful flatiron building once owned by James Flood of Comstock Lode fame.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Kendall Jackson Wine & Food Pairing

What an exquisite experience we had at Kendall Jackson, where we tasted 7 different wines, each paired with food to enhance the wine.
The event was held in Kendall Jackson's opulent tasting room. I'm sure glad we did not have to wash glasses.

Janine Whaley is French, so she really knows wine. Looks like she in enjoying.

Kendall Jackson also has lovely gardens, including a vegetable garden that provided some of the ingredients of the food we enjoyed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Giant Sequoias

There's nothing like spending time among 2,000+ year old trees to restore the meaning of life and how small we are in this world.

You can see where a bear worked on a locked garbage can.

Roaring Falls is a spectacular waterfall in Kings Canyon National Park.

Kings Canyon Picnic

While it was cool in Sequoia, the weather in Kings Canyon was perfect, as it was around 3,000 feet lower.

An old fashioned picinic is always a fun activity.

Stan & Joyce proved they were picnic veterans, making themselves at home on a log.

Sequoia in Skirts

A highlight of our trip was watching a mama bear and her twins amble across logs and over patches of snow near the motor coach. We were able to watch them for several minutes.

With cold weather coming in we visited the General Sherman Tree our first day in the park. That meant several of us were not able to change from the skirts we wore to the Monastery.

St Nicholas Monastery

Before entering Sequoia National Park we stopped for a tour of the St. Nicholas Monastery, which is as close as you can get in California to stepping into a medieval orthodox church.

The quiet pride the nuns take in their work is evidenced by the beautiful gardens and the care taken in each of their duties. Out of respect we do not photograph the nuns, who wear long habits.

Like the monasteries in Europe, there are no chairs, as worshipers stand during the long services. The beautiful chandelier is made to swing back in forth, like angels dancing. The nuns hand make the candles used to light the chandelier.

The ladies of our group don head coverings and skirts to show respect. If you look closely you will see some of the group wrapped in my tablecloths, which double as skirts.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 6: Down Town New York & Mary Poppins on Broadway

Down Town Tour and Mary Poppins

The tour of down town covered a lot of ground. Memorable places included: Garment District, Greenwich Village, SoHo District, Little Italy and Chinatown.

Next Stop: Ground Zero. It's been 9 years since 9/11 and you can really see the progress now. They expect the new center to ready by the 10th anniversary.

We had a lovely hosted luncheon at the Paris Cafe on 119 Street

Only 17 people went to Mary Poppins with us. It's too bad because it was unbelievable. It was one of the best shows I've seen in years. The stage settings are being compared to the Lion King which is consider to be one of the best stage set ups ever.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 5: Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island & West Side Story

New York Landmarks!

The day began with a taste of what its like to be a real New Yorker: The Subway!
We took the subway to the Ferry for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The line to purchase tickets for the ferry was three to four hours long. Thank goodness for group reservations, we didn't have to wait at all.

Interesting facts about Ellis Island: Between 1892 and 1924 approximately 16 million men women and children set foot on 27 acre facility at Ellis Island. This includes my grandfather Mathias Matheaisen Setnas (Setness is the post Ellis Island spelling) who was 17 years old coming from Norway. The next time you go to Ellis Island remember to track your ancestors.

Lunch was hosted at the Ellis Island Cafe.

For the people who did not attend the West Side Story show, their day was over and they were free to relax all evening. For the rest of the group, we started walking over to the theater about 7:30. On the walk we got to enjoy the bright light of big city. West Side Story was absolutley fantastic.
For those who did not go to New York with us, you can join us to see West Side Story in San Francisco on November 17, 2010.

Day 4: New York City (Midtown & Uptown)

Our First day in New York

While we always do enjoy staying at a hotel as long as possible, it was time to pack up our bags and head out. New York City....Here we come!

First adventure of the day was Midtown Manhatten. We visited Rockfeller Center, Saint Patrick's Cathedraland Grand Central Station. Here in New York we had the pleasure of being joined by Peggy Beezly's son.
We had our very own celebrity siting today. Coach from the reality TV show Survivor. He even was wearing a bag that said Coach on it.

After lunch we headed over to midtown to see Lincoln Center and Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. It is capable of holding over 6000 people and tall enough to fit the Statue of Liberty in it. Construction on the Cathedral started in 1982 and i estimate that it will be finished in....never.

Our new temporary home is at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers

After dinner we took a trip to the Empire State Building to get a peek of the city at Night from 102 stories high.

Day 3: Longwood Gardens & Winterthur Museum

A day of Gardens and du Ponts.

We first toured Pierre S. du Pont's property: Longwood Gardens. It all started when du Pont wanted to save trees from being cut down for lumber in 1906. A half of a century later it is a magnificent horticultural showplace.

Yes this is the General Motors du Pont family if you were wondering.

Breathtaking would be a nice way to describe what lots of money and time can do for property.

For lunch we had a hosted lunch in at the Longwood Gardens Cafe.

Lunch was followed by the Winterthur Museum and Gardends.
This estate was built by Henry Francis du Pont and his father Alegernon du Pont in the early 20th century. Henry Francis is famous for his antique collection. You may have heard of the Winterthur Catelogue? If you are antique lover you would have loved the tour of this man's home.

The tour of the house was followed by a garden tram tour and stroll through gardens.
The rest of the evening was spent at the hotel with and independent dinner: Meet you down stairs at the bar.

Day 2: Historic Philidelphia & The Amish Country

A Blast from the Past!

The day started with breakfast at the hotel and then a whirl wind tour of everything historic in Philidelphia. Stops included:
Independence Hall
Carpenter's Hall
Congress Hall
The Liberty Bell
the Betsy Ross House
Ben Franklin's Gravesite and
Christ Church

The tour reminded us of 1st: A LOT of history and 2nd: Ben Franklin was a very interesting man. Even though Ben was a very successful public figure, he lead a pretty contriversial life for his time. He had children out of wedlock, the drank copious amount of alcohol and was overweight. He didn't even believe in God but being the good man that he was still supported the church.

After an independent lunch we headed over to the Amish Country.

This included a tour and dinner in Lancaster Country. Did you know that the Amish can eat....a lot? Dinner includes 3 different kinds meat, all the fixings, and then topped off with 2 different kinds of pie. Wow! What a meal!

We returned to the hotel after dinner but not to late for a cocktail. The bar in the Warwick was a popular place for our travelers to congregate during down time. Besides the drinks, we also enjoyed the Sliders and shrimp cocktails.