August 29, 2017

Great Sleeps: Swanburg Hotel, Wencheng County, Wenzhou, China


WENCHENG COUNTY, IN WENZHOU, CHINA

This forested area is reached via a twisting two-lane mountain road lined with well-maintained trees with white-painted bases.  You pass through hills with views of terraced rice fields and small villages, some with crumbling brick buildings and brand new buildings side-by-side.  A mild subtropical marine climate means it is always warm and moist with plenty of rainf.  The population is 360,000, with 170,000 more living abroad in 70 countries, giving the are the nickname “Hometown of Overseas Chinese.”  Hundreds of waterfalls, lakes, caverns and deep gorges are found in the Tongling Mountain National Forest Park, which opened in 1999.  The park has been divided into three parts –Tongling Gorge, Little Yaochi Lake, Tongling Village.  Also, Baizhang Waterfall is found here.  At 1,158-feet-high, it is China’s highest waterfall and called the most beautiful waterfall in the world.  It has three falls, with more than 4,000 steps to climb before reaching the first.

scenery on the way to Wencheng, China
scenery on the way to Wencheng, China

Swanburg Hotel  0577-59026999; Shiyang Linchang, Wencheng, Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province.  230 rooms.  Breakfast included.  Built in 2013, this still-growing resort complex was inspired by the Swanburg Hotel in Germany.  Facilities include a yoga gym, a hot springs complex (the Chinese absolutely love hot springs), and indoor skiing, and it will have more than 400 buildings when completed.  The area also offers hiking, an area with monkeys, and a temple.  An European-style village opens in 2017 and will accommodate more than 5,000 people.

Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China
Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China

welcome at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China
welcome at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China

The simple, pleasant hotel provides rooms with a restive view of pine trees, plus operable windows that let in the sweet fragrance of the pines as well as the soft sound of a river below.  (This peace was broken early one morning by loud firecrackers and lights in the woods.  Though I found this scary, it turned out to be the arrival of a boisterous group celebrating a wedding.)  Guest rooms have natural wood floors, comfortable beds with white duvets, and a shower with a clear window looking into the bed area and on to the outdoors through the windows beyond.  And, surprisingly, Wi-Fi is free.

guest room at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China
guest room at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China

view from guest room at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China
view from guest room at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China

Meant to honor my American group, which was a peculiarity in the area, a sign indicating “Foreigners Section” was displayed in the dining room.  It reserved for us a particularly comfortable area.  Some of my favorite buffet items include kung pao chicken with giant hot peppers, peanuts in vinegar, boiled peanuts, and rice wine served in teeny glasses.

selections from breakfast buffet at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China
selections from breakfast buffet at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China

dinner buffet at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China
dinner buffet at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China

vegetable art at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China
vegetable art at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China

The hot springs are reached by a 10-minute walk.  Female and male changing rooms with lockers and showers are provided, and a gift shop sells bathing suits and related items.  Approximately 20 pools of various sizes and temperatures are sprinkled over a compact hilly area.  Just like in the story of the three bears, some were too hot, some were too cold, and some were just right.  Colors and fragrances varied, but there was no explanation in English as to what each spring was best for.  When using the hot springs, it is advised to wait one hour after eating, take off all jewelry, and drink plenty of water after.  

hot springs complex at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China
hot springs complex at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China

swim suits in hot springs gift shop at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China
swim suits in hot springs gift shop at Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng, China

 

More things to do in Wenzhou.

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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


August 25, 2017

Good Eats: Lafayette, NYC


Lafayette  380 Lafayette St., b/t 4th St & Great Jones St., NoHo, (212) 533-3000.  This spacious and elegant French grand cafe and bakery is an air-conditioned oasis on a hot NYC day and makes the perfect lunch stop.  The complimentary bread and butter is exceptional, and I could have happily made a meal of just that--perhaps with a small salad.  I chose a Jambon Cru Baguette which was actually a delectable ham sandwich made especially delicious with a French baguette enhanced with stone-ground mustard and cornichons¬.  Oh yeah!  Next time I think I’ll try the L’Italien with mozzarella, rapini, and peperonata.  Salads, entrees, and more are available.  I made room for a ring ding dessert that rang my bell--a devil’s food cake with vanilla filling fashioned after a similarly named popular common version--but macarons in many flavors were also an option.  Next time.  

interior of Lafayette restaurant in NYC
interior of Lafayette restaurant in NYC

fabulous bread and butter at Lafayette restaurant in NYC
fabulous bread and butter at Lafayette restaurant in NYC

ham sandwich at Lafayette restaurant in NYC
ham sandwich at Lafayette restaurant in NYC

coffee service with flair at Lafayette restaurant in NYC
coffee service with flair at Lafayette restaurant in NYC

wrapped ring ding at Lafayette restaurant in NYC
wrapped ring ding at Lafayette restaurant in NYC

unwrapped ring ding at Lafayette restaurant in NYC
unwrapped ring ding at Lafayette restaurant in NYC

bakery counter at Lafayette restaurant in NYC
bakery counter at Lafayette restaurant in NYC
 
outdoor tables at Lafayette restaurant in NYC
outdoor tables at Lafayette restaurant in NYC

Lafayette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 


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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

August 23, 2017

Sights to See: Merchant’s House Museum, NYC


Merchant’s House Museum  29 East Fourth St./Lafayette St. near Bowery, in NoHo, (212) 777-1089.  Thur-M 12-5pm, Thur to 8pm.  $15, seniors+students $10, under 12 free.  Tours, including a Ghost Tour, are available.  When it was built in 1832, this 4-story late Federal-style row house, built with red brick and white marble, was quite fashionable, and the neighborhood was known as the Bond Street Area.  It was the home of a prosperous middle-class hardware merchant and his family.  Visitors today are provided with a loose-leaf binder that guides you through the house and provides information about each room.  The last time it was extensively redecorated was in the 1850s.  Then, after being a home for 98 years, it became a museum in 1936.  With its careful preservation both inside and out, including original furnishings, it offers a rare glimpse into the past.  A narrow, creaky staircase leads to the upper floors, though the children’s rooms are now staff office space.  At the very top, the “Irish girls’ room” in the attic was lived in by a succession of servants and shows a simpler life style.  Today, the neighborhood is fashionable once again, though now it is filled with high-rise apartment buildings and condominiums, boutiques, and restaurants.  Be prepared to leave your purse and bags at the reception in an unlocked space.  Ironically, the attendants expect you to trust them with your valuables but don’t trust you not to steal if they let you carry your own bags, using the excuse of tight spaces.  This policy was almost enough to be a deal breaker for my visit, but I did give in to it, and though I was very uncomfortable leaving my purse with a stranger, and I did remove my wallet and cell phone to carry with me, I enjoyed exploring the premises though I did not enjoy the previous premise.  


front exterior of Merchant’s House Museum in NYC
front exterior of Merchant’s House Museum in NYC


hallway at Merchant’s House Museum in NYC
hallway at Merchant’s House Museum in NYC

Imari china breakfast set at Merchant’s House Museum in NYC
Imari china breakfast set at Merchant’s House Museum in NYC


kitchen at Merchant’s House Museum in NYC
kitchen at Merchant’s House Museum in NYC

bedroom at Merchant’s House Museum in NYC
bedroom at Merchant’s House Museum in NYC

back yard at Merchant’s House Museum in NYC
back yard at Merchant’s House Museum in NYC

back exterior of Merchant’s House Museum in NYC
back exterior of Merchant’s House Museum in NYC


The perfect place to have lunch before or after is at Lafayette.  


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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers
 

August 18, 2017

Good Eats: Ruby’s, NYC


Ruby’s  219 Mulberry St., (212) 925-5755.  Daily 9am-10pm.  There is no better place to be for lunch on a warm summer day in SoHo.  That’s when this tiny Aussie-run spot opens up their entire wall to the elements, allowing happy sounds to fill the air, and it gets so overstuffed that there is always a wait.  I lucked onto the best item on the menu with a simple B.L.A.T., made extraordinary with a delicious meaty bacon.  My dining partners were also happy with their choices--a kale salad enhanced with pumpkin and sunflower seeds plus dried cranberries--and a portobello mushroom burger (it was more like a panini).  We couldn’t resist sides of the spectacular, super-flavorful Brussels sprouts and colorful, crunchy corncakes, but that was a lot of food for three people so we lugged away the leftovers to give to a street person, but wouldn’t you know that on this beautiful day in the neighborhood we didn’t find one?  So we finished them off at home.  

line at Ruby's restaurant in NYC
line at Ruby's restaurant in NYC
 
kitchen at Ruby's restaurant in NYC
kitchen at Ruby's restaurant in NYC


interior at Ruby's restaurant in NYC
interior at Ruby's restaurant in NYC

interior at Ruby's restaurant in NYC
interior at Ruby's restaurant in NYC


B.L.A.T. at Ruby's restaurant in NYC
B.L.A.T. at Ruby's restaurant in NYC

kale salad at Ruby's restaurant in NYC
kale salad at Ruby's restaurant in NYC

portobello mushroom burger at Ruby's restaurant in NYC
portobello mushroom burger at Ruby's restaurant in NYC

Brussels sprouts at Ruby's restaurant in NYC
Brussels sprouts at Ruby's restaurant in NYC

corncakes at Ruby's restaurant in NYC
corncakes at Ruby's restaurant in NYC
Ruby's Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

August 15, 2017

Sights to See: Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, California


Palm Springs Art Museum  101 Museum Dr., (760) 322-4800.  Sun-M-Tu-Sat 10am-5pm, Thur-F 12-9pm.  $12, 62+ $10, students $5.  Free on 2nd Sun, & Thur 4-8pm.  This small museum is well worth a visit.  Galleries display local and Western art, Native American crafts and art, modern and contemporary art, and contemporary glass works.  Two outdoor sculpture gardens offer a restive retreat; one is part of The Muse Cafe and is a choice spot for a relaxing lunch.
These two sub-museums are also worth a visit:
Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center  300 S. Palm Canyon Dr., (760) 423-5260.  Free.  This sub-museum is worth a visit just to see the classic midcentury international-style building it is located.
Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert  72-567 Hwy. 111/El Paseo, in Palm Desert, (760) 346 5600.  Tu-Sun 10am-5pm.  Free.  Art exhibitions are presented within a Silver Leed-certified building.  The beautifully landscaped 4-acre Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden that surrounds it is always open.  


"100 Tear Drops" at Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, California
"100 Tear Drops" at Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, California


"The Hunter" at Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, California
"The Hunter" at Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, California


The Muse Cafe sculpture garden at Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, California
The Muse Cafe sculpture garden at Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, California


sculpture garden at Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, California
sculpture garden at Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, California


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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

August 9, 2017

Good Eats: Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, NYC--Queens--Astoria


Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden  29-19 24th Ave./31st St., Astoria, (718) 274-4925.  17 M-F from 5pm, Sat-Sun from noon.  No reservations.  No pets.  New York’s oldest and biggest beer garden, this wildly popular spot has been in business more than 100 years.  When it originally opened in 1910, it was a place for Czech and Slovak immigrants to socialize. 
exterior of Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens, New York
exterior of Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens, New York


It took me a long time to finally get here, and I was delighted that it fills my beer garden fantasies.  With more than 100 picnic tables and plenty of sun-sheltering umbrellas, it can serve up to 1,600 people at a time.
overview of beer garden at Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens, New York
overview of beer garden at Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens, New York






Through the years the menu has changed.  Currently it offers the traditional--bratwurst, schnitzels, fried Muenster cheese--as well as the trendy--a veggie burger, vegan and gluten-free gazpacho, vegetarian crostini.  I personally favor the big pretzel, potato pancakes, and pierogis.  As you might expect, the beer selection is vast, but you can’t go wrong with Pilsner Urquell.  
menu selections at Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens, New York
menu selections at Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens, New York


Live music is scheduled regularly, and a raised dance floor encourages getting down.  
dance floor at Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens, New York
dance floor at Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens, New York


The adjacent Bohemian Hall offers interior space for use in inclement weather, but in good weather it is empty. 
interior at Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens, New York
interior at Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens, New York

Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato




More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images and video ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers