Monday, September 29, 2014

Sights to See: Hanalei town, Kauai, Hawaii


Hanalei town


Hanalei Valley Lookout in Kauai, Hawaii
 Before arriving here, stop at the scenic Hanalei Valley Lookout to admire the lushly pastoral landscape of the Hanalei Valley--home to the legendary magical, musical dragon Puff.  Continue on, driving the winding road that is very much like the famous Road to Hana on Maui, with many one-lane bridges.


house on stilts in Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii
 Just before the end of the road, you’ll see houses on stilts and the Dry Cave (described by one unimpressed kid as “just a big dry cave”) and the Wet Cave (which contains a lake).


Kee Beach in Kauai, Hawaii
At the end of the road is Kee Beach, where a reef-protected lagoon makes this the island’s best beach for swimming, but be aware that strong currents and dangerous waves break out on the rocks.  Scenes from the TV mini-series Thorn Birds and the movies South Pacific and Lord of the Flies were filmed here, and the sunsets can be magnificent.  Bring a picnic lunch or dinner. 
    The end of the road is also the beginning of the spectacularly scenic and green Na Pali Coast and the infamous 11-mile-long Kalalau Trail that is popular with back-packers. 

More things to do in Kauai.

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, September 26, 2014

Good Eats: The Garden Cafe at Common Ground, in Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii--CLOSED


The Garden Cafe at Common Ground  4900 Kuawa Rd., Kilauea, (808) 828-1041.  Located on the grounds of the old Guava Kai plantation, this organic farm now provides its cafe with fresh produce and as well serves beef and lamb from named ranches.  Prices are high, but so is quality.  It is especially nice to enjoy brunch or lunch on the serene outdoor patio.


sandwich wrap at The Garden Cafe at Common Ground in Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii
I am fond of the sandwich wraps and the Vanilla Thrilla smoothie consisting of coconut milk, pineapple, bananas, mac nuts, dates, vanilla bean, hemp protein powder, and oat milk.  Yum!


The Garden Cafe at Common Ground in Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii
Order at the counter, find a table, and you’ll be called when your prepared-to-order food is ready.  Many items are vegan, vegetarian, and/or gluten-free.


gardens at The Garden Cafe at Common Ground in Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii
Before or after, you can take a hike out to the old stone dam or stroll past fields and along the river.

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Good Eats: Duke’s Kauai, in Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii


Duke’s Kauai  At the Kaua’ Marriott Resort & Beach Club, 3610 Rice St., at Kalapaki Beach, (808) 246-9599.


fresh fish plate at Duke's Kauai, in Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii
 Famous for its fresh fish


salad bar plate at Duke's Kauai, in Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii
and expansive salad bar (the potato salad is really good), this always-bustling restaurant features a 30-foot waterfall that splashes into a koi pond


outrigger canoe at Duke's Kauai, in Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii
and it displays a 40-foot outrigger canoe and three of surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku’s surfboards.  The menu is not extensive but manages to squeeze on coconut shrimp with spicy ilikoi dip, a cheddar burger, and mango barbecued baby back ribs.


Kimo's Original Hula Pie at Duke's Kauai, in Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii
Described as “what the sailors swam to shore for in Lahaina” (on Maui), Kimo’s Original Hula Pie is rich and delish.


mai tai at Duke's Kauai, in Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii
And you won't want to miss the mai tai.

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Great Sleeps: Hanalei Colony Resort & Good Eats: Mediterranean Gourmet Restaurant, in Haena, Kauai, Hawaii


Hanalei Colony Resort  5-7130 Kuhio Hwy., 5 mi. west of Hanalei, in Haena, (800) 628-3004, (808) 826-6235.  48 condos.  Pool, hot tub.  Free parking.  No resort fee.  Located on beautiful Kepuhi Beach in secluded Haena, Kauai’s northernmost town, this resort is unspoiled and unplugged.  It features a restful atmosphere, with units blessedly free of  televisions and telephones.  Guests can unwind and relax and enjoy the area’s natural beauty, including hanging out at the beach and watching sunsets.  Jet-lagged, I also watched a gorgeous sunrise.  The resort is made up of thirteen rustic two-story buildings, each with four units.  All are attractively decorated island style and get twice-weekly maid service.


guest room at Hanalei Colony Resort in Haena, Kauai, Hawaii
They have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and dining area, a private lanai, and a fully equipped kitchen.  The best rooms are on the point with an ocean view.  Barbecue/picnic areas and a coin-operated guest laundromat are available.


flowers in guest room at Hanalei Colony Resort in Haena, Kauai, Hawaii
Guests staying two-plus nights are greeted by a  gift of fresh flowers, locally-made cookies, a recyclable shopping bag, and a deck of playing cards, and all guests are invited to a complimentary continental breakfast and an afternoon mai tai party once each week.  Free in-room WiFi is provided, but I tried to stay unplugged and not use it.  Personal concierge service assists in arranging dining, activities, and special requests.  Beach mats and towels, books, toys, puzzles, and games are available for loan.  In summer, a variety of cultural and craft activities are scheduled for both children and adults.  For a small fee, “Keiki Kamp” is offered several days and evenings each week, and babysitting can be arranged.  From morning until sunset daily, a free shuttle van transports guests to and from safe nearby beaches and to and from Hanalei Town.  Evening shuttle service is available at $10/unit and goes to and from Hanalei Town, Princeville Shopping Center, and the Westin and St. Regis resorts in Princeville Resort.  This resort is at the top of my list for a return visit.


view from Hanalei Colony Resort in Haena, Kauai, Hawaii
Currently, a special fall rate of $240 per night for an Ocean View suite is available for stays through November 23.  The rate represents a 1/3 discount off the usual Ocean View rate of $356 per night.  This special is applicable to Ocean View category suites only and requires a two-night minimum stay.  In addition, a seventh night is offered free after six consecutive paid nights.

Mediterranean Gourmet Restaurant  (808) 826-9875.  L-D daily; happy hour daily 4-6pm; live entertainment 5 nights/week; luau Tu 6-8:15pm, reservations required.  Of Lebanese ancestry, owner Imad Beydoun was born and raised in Beirut.  He moved here with his family in 2005.  His surprising restaurant features both traditional Mediterranean dishes and island cuisine, so you can enjoy fresh fish with a Mediterranean twist.


Greek salad at Mediterranean Gourment Restaurant at Hanalei Colony Resort in Haena, Kauai, Hawaii
While others in my group opted for heavier fish and meat plates, I enjoyed a lighter dinner featuring a Greek salad and a plate of hummus and babaganush with housemade pita.  More exotic items include grilled kafta, stuffed grape leaves, hand-rolled fatayer, gyro and falafel wraps, garlic chicken, and various kabobs, but the menu also offers quesadillas, Caesar salad, rack of lamb, and New York strip steak.  Desserts include cheesecake, housemade baklava, and Turkish coffee or French-press teas.


Blue Crush coctail at Mediterranean Gourment Restaurant at Hanalei Colony Resort in Haena, Kauai, Hawaii
The restaurant has an ocean view from every table and a full bar--don’t miss the colorful and tasty Blue Crush cocktail made with silver rum, pineapple juice, and blue Curacao. 
          The beachfront family-style luau features a buffet dinner of traditional Hawaiian food, hula dancing, and Hawaiian music. 
Mediterranean Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Hanalei Day Spa  (808) 826-6621.  Located adjacent to the resort, this independent business offers a variety of therapeutic massages, spa services, rejuvenation programs, and customized yoga and Ayurvedic retreats.

Napali Art Gallery & Coffee Shop  (808) 826-1844.  Daily 7am-5pm.  This cozy spot offers morning coffee, espresso, and pastries as well as mid-day snacks to go.

More things to do in Kauai.

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, September 8, 2014

Things to Do: Ocean Beach Antique District, San Diego, California

Ocean Beach Antique District  4800-4900 blocks of Newport Ave., (619) 233-9020.  A large concentration of shops in this two-block area specializes in American antiques, glassware, jewelry, and collectibles.  Parking is plentiful and free, yet it is very difficult to find a space because this area is also close to the beach. 


Newport Avenue Antique Center in Ocean Beach Antique District in San Diego, California
Newport Avenue Antique Center in Ocean Beach Antique District in San Diego, California
Newport Avenue Antique Center  4864 Newport Ave., (619) 222-8686.  More than 100 dealers are part of this large cooperative.  A coffee bar in the back provides rest and refreshment, and an adjacent customer parking area here is almost worth its weight in antiques. 

Ocean Beach Antique Mall  4926 Newport Ave., (619) 223-6170.  Open daily.  The area’s longest-lived antiques shop, this spot specializes in jewelry.

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, September 5, 2014

Things to Do: Little Italy, San Diego, California


Little Italy stretches along India Street, between Cedar and Fir, at the northern edge of downtown.  


neon street sign in Little Italy, San Diego, California
Anchored by an old-time arched neon street sign, this quaint and lively neighborhood is filled with outdoor cafes, restaurants, pubs, art galleries, and shops.


boutique in cottage in Little Italy, San Diego, California
Boutiques are scattered along India Street, and several colorful cottages on Fir Street have been converted into browse-worthy boutiques.     

Kettner Art & Design District  Runs along Kettner St.  This area is home to retail shops and art galleries that feature upscale home furnishings and fashion accessories.  Restaurants and antiques stores are also found here.  My favorite don't-miss is:

 
Antiques on Kettner in Little Italy, San Diego, California
Antiques on Kettner  2400 Kettner St., #106, (619) 234-3332.  Daily 10am-6pm.  Here you'll find a nicely curated collection of art, jewelry, pottery, metal, glass, and more.  And the fact that this shop is on the airport descent route adds some excitement to browsing.

La Pensione Hotel  606 W. Date St./India, (800) 232-4683, (619) 236-8000.  68 rooms.  Fitness room.  No breakfast.  Underground parking is limited; $15.  Located in the heart of the Little Italy neighborhood, this boutique hotel offers stylish clean-lined contemporary rooms colored in cool greys and whites.


bed in La Pensione Hotel in Little Italy, San Diego, California
Platform beds feature ostrich-leather headboards and are made up with luxurious 300-thread-count white bedding with a duvet.  Some rooms have a balcony; all have a desks, rich wool carpeting, a flat-screen TV, good lighting, a mini fridge with complimentary cold bottled water, and a shower with rain head tiled either in black or white Carrera.  I could hear the digitized chimes from a nearby church, and the Mercato Farmers Market sets up a block away on Saturday mornings.  Because of its central location, you can use buses and trolleys to get around. 
          Independently operated on-site restaurants include Caffe Italia--an espresso bar and café featuring Lavazza coffee beans imported from Italy and offering a selection of salads, panini sandwiches at lunch--and Na Pizza, San Diego’s first green-certified pizzeria.

Bencotto Italian Kitchen  750 W. Fir St., in Q building, (619) 450-4786.  L-D Tu-Sun, also M in summer.  Pasta is made fresh daily here, so it makes sense that one of the specialties is Pasta Your Way--you choose the sauce and the pasta.


pasta with salsiccia sauce at Bencotto Italian Kitchen in Little Italy, San Diego, California
I selected my favorite salsiccia sauce—a spicy sausage tomato sauce—topping wide hand-cut pappardelle noodles made with eggs and semolina flour.  The portion was large and delicious.


Cesare salad at Bencotto Italian Kitchen in Little Italy, San Diego, California
This combined with a Cesare salad topped with a slab of parmigano and I was set.  Next time I plan to try the gnocco fritto (fried bread dough) and the gnocchi ripieni (potato dumplings filled with gorgonzola) topped with pesto sauce.  The contemporary industrial space features a high ceiling, concrete floors, and floor-to-ceiling windows inside, as well as sidewalk-side tables outside.  Diners are justly happy, and the noise level is high.
Bencotto on Urbanspoon

Trattoria Fantastica  1735 India St., (619) 234-1735.  B-L-D daily; $.  No reservations.


Trattoria Fantastica in Little Italy, San Diego, California
This cozy haven features a sidewalk-side patio dining in front.  Old Dean Martin songs like “Papa Loves Mamo” play in the background, and the waiters sometimes sing along.  Sicilian food and wood-fired pizzas are menu specialties.  Breakfast offerings include an Egg Panini on a croissant (like an omelette in a croissant), Uova Due (two eggs), and an a la carte croissant or bagel.  Dinner favorites include Gnocchi alla Florentine, Gamberi alla Fantastica (shrimp in a lemon sauce), and Imbottiti (a savory eggplant dish).
Trattoria Fantastica on Urbanspoon

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sights to See: San Diego, California


panda in tree at San Diego Zoo
San Diego offers the exhilarating opportunity to mix learning about California's historical beginnings with the pleasure of sunning on beautiful beaches and the adventure of visiting the world's largest zoo.  It is the home port of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet, and so has a fabulous collection of military ships.  You’ll also enjoy getting to know a few of the city’s approximately 90 museums.  Good Mexican food is easily found, and many of the restaurants prepare dishes that you don’t often see.  Do try them.  The state's fastest-growing city is also its second largest, and the eighth largest in the U.S.  Renowned for excellent weather, its temperatures average 70 degrees.  Though summer is the most popular time to visit, the year-round good weather makes it a pleasant vacation destination any time.  Be aware, though, that this generally sunny town does get summer fog, and is famous among the locals for it “June gloom.”  However, summer is the time of year when the Jacaranda trees bloom, and the gorgeous lavender blossoms more than make up for a little chilly mist.  You will need a car for convenient access to the many nearby recreational areas, which include ocean, mountains, and desert, and you’re going to love the fact that parking is free almost everywhere.  Train-lovers and most kids are also going to enjoy the many required stops at clanging crossings enhanced with flashing lights.

More things to do in San Diego.

More information about San Diego.

Things to do in nearby La Jolla. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.  

image ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers