To exercise restraint during my first time outing to shop at the Las Vegas North Premium Outlet Mall I set myself three rules of operation.
Number one, I needed to keep in mind the maximum allowable duty free allowance coming back into Canada - and this would keep me within budget. Number two, to achieve rule one, was that I had to stick to my pre-written list of items - no random purchases. Number three - if an item wasn't absolutely perfect for what I had in mind, it had to stay on the shelf - no buyer's remorse allowed.
Browsing the jewelry section in the Brighton Collectibles store to find gifts for the upcoming holidays, my eye was drawn to a pair of colourful earrings. I had had great success finding what I needed for myself at the previous day's visit to the Las Vegas North Premium Outlet Mall, and had no intention of buying anything more for myself.
But the colours of the cabachons of the earrings so beautifully matched the colours of my multi-coloured smooth ballroom dress that they called out to me to buy them. Then I found that there was also a matching bangle and added that to my purchase.
Right now, in November 2014, the High Roller giant Ferris wheel in Las Vegas, Nevada holds the record for being the highest in the world.
As two new visitors to Las Vegas to attend a FoodWriting Conference, we spent the day before the conference exploring the lavish and luxurious public spaces and lobbies of the huge hotels along The Strip. Distracted by the lavish displays and the incredible art in many of the hotels, we did not see half of what we had intended to do.
Seeking sun and fresh air we found ourselves strolling down The LINQ’s outdoor promenade, admiring the eye-catching graffiti art. Only one signature was identifiable so I don't know who all the artists are but the work is certainly striking.
Although like many travelers I love to indulge in the trappings of luxurious surroundings, I have been known to declaim smugly on several occasions that “all I really need is a clean comfortable bed, lots of hot water from the shower, a hair dryer, a toilet where I don’t need to squat, and a fast wireless internet”. During this week long stay at the Plaza Hotel I’ve realized that is not really true. My standards are higher than the basics and there are other minor niceties needed to make me a “happy camper.”
Over many years of attending professional conferences, with sessions starting as early as 7 or 8 AM, I have learned to make a point of staying at the conference hotel. So when planning my trip to Las Vegas to attend a food-writing conference, I reserved a room at the conference hotel, the Plaza Hotel and Casino. The hotel offered a very low rate for the days of the conference.
I have never ever stayed in a hotel that charged less than $40 a night (plus the “resort fee” of about 14.00) but hey! I thought, this is Las Vegas where high rollers stay for free in luxury suites bigger than my condo. I booked partly on-line but ended up having to talk to a reservation clerk who expounded on weekend rates, week rates and conference rates. I should have listened more carefully.
Oscar's Steakhouse at the Plaza Hotel and Casino
1 S Main Street, Las Vegas
Ph: (702) 386 7227 or reserve online
The aroma of warm sour dough bread with embedded slivers of caramelized onion, rising from the white napkin-covered basket compelled me to erase all thoughts of a bread-free dinner. Lightly buttered, the fresh airy slice tasted as good as its aroma promised, and kept me content while I decided on my dinner choices.
La Mer at the Halekulani Hotel
2199 Kalia Road
Ph: (808) 923-2301 or reserve online
This elegant restaurant is the signature restaurant for the Halekulani Hotel. It is a Five diamond (AAA) and five star (Forbes Dining Award) restaurant featuring French cuisine with local tropical ingredients.
It was a short walk from the hotel where we were staying. On arrival we were seated at a window table next to an open window, looking out over the outdoor entertainment area to the blue water beyond. A warm breeze wafted in from time to time, and I had a great view of the singers and the Hawaiian dancer on the stage below.
A light Vancouver rainfall dripped from my umbrella as I crossed the street to enter the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. I was wishing I could be enjoying the blue skies, turquoise seas and white sand beaches of the islands of the Bahamas but no matter how many times I clicked the heels of my chic black boots together the grey sky of Vancouver was still shedding rain drops. Maybe if I'd worn red shoes instead of the boots... but then on the other hand maybe I would have landed in Kansas, instead of the Bahamas.
Luckily, from mid-December, Vancouverites will not need magic slippers to transport themselves directly to the island of Grand Bahama, because Sunwing Airlines will be offering new direct flights between Vancouver International Airport and Freeport, on Grand Bahama Island.
Starting from November 1st for seven Saturday Vancouver departures, Sunwing will fly via Calgary to Freeport. From December 19th through to April 10th, 2015 flights will depart Vancouver on Fridays for a non-stop flight to Freeport. The Memories Bahama Beach Resort on Lucayan Beach, Grand Bahamas, opened earlier this year.
Benares - Mid-town West
240 West 56th Street (between Broadway and 8th Avenue)
Ph: (212) 397 0707 or reserve online
On this brief pre-cruise stopover in New York I had only two opportunities for restaurant dinners. Having picked French cuisine (Ca Va Brasserie) for the first dinner, my second choice was Indian cuisine, a favorite cuisine of my fellow diner.
The Mid-town West location of Benares was my first choice.
Stella 34 Trattoria
at Macy's Herald Square 6th Floor
151 West 34th Street, New York
What a surprise it was to me to find an excellent restaurant located in a major department store and this discovery came about in quite an unexpected way. My westbound trans-Atlantic cruise on the Queen Mary 2 ended in Brooklyn early on a Wednesday morning, and my direct flight from JFK to Vancouver YVR was scheduled to leave at 7 that evening. So unusually for me, I decided to sign up for a ship's transfer to the airport, with a half day tour of Manhattan included. So after disembarking, our bags were placed on the bus, and a tour guide came on board to give a commentary on the various neighborhoods we passed through. At lunch time the bus dropped us off near Macy's for an hour of free time, during which we could get lunch for ourselves.
Three hundred and fifty kilometres within the Arctic Circle, lies the city of Tromso, our furthest north destination of this Norwegian Fjords cruise to the Arctic Circle..
At about 7 AM yesterday morning the Queen Mary 2 crossed into the Arctic Circle. I was watching the seas from my verandah. The sky was clouded and gray-blue waters stretched out to the horizon.
There was not a ship in sight, and sadly, King Neptune did not appear from the depths in person to issue his call (as written in the Daily Programme) for “all icebergs, sea lions, narwhals, polar bears, whales, mermaids and other creatures of the frigid north to show due deference and respect to all those bluenoses crossing over into the northern reaches” of his realm. So just like crossing the equator, I had to take the crossing of “the line” on faith. Hard for an empiricist to do.