It’s hard to believe now that there was a time when traveling roundtrip from Lisbon to Calcutta could take two years… During the Age of Discovery, that’s exactly how long it took the great Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, to sail a maiden voyage from his native home southward, rounding South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, and on northward through the turbulent ocean to India. Eager to return home, da Gama ignored monsoon warnings that would sink two of his four ships and afflict half of remaining survivors with scurvy. These were considered successful results at the time, as da Gama returned home to a hero’s welcome. He was later named “The Admiral of the Indian Seas.”
- Editors, CityRoom Stories / Travel
The Jean-Talon Market is situated in the center of a huge urban residential area of Montreal, and it is the largest outdoor public farmers’ market in Canada. At it’s peak in the summer there are over 130 vendors and shops that set up mostly outdoors and people flock to the market in hordes like it’s another festival. A food festival, if you will…. Every day.
The central corridors of the market are lined with stands that set up daily deals, often advertised with sharpies on handwritten signs. You can buy a colorful plethora of fresh fruits and veggies by the basket, at bargain prices. There are plates of sliced samples to try before you buy. There is no checkout line and no cash registers. If you want a receipt they might have to write one up for you on a piece of notebook paper and it might say: “1 panier concombres, $2, Ferme Raoul et fils, le 20 de avril, Raoul.” There are also two Florists with fresh cut flowers and potted plants, and you have 3 different vendors selling eggs. Double yoked eggs and duck eggs cost a bit extra but you can’t find them at the supermarket down the street. Around the perimeter of the market there are permanent buildings with more specialty stores that offer a variety of goods all year round.
You will find Fromageries where a real cheese addict could drop over a thousand dollars to get their fix (author witnessed this), Boulangeries that cover the neighborhood with the smell of baked baguettes and croissants, and Boucheries that sell Horse meat, Bison filets, and Wild Boar sausages. Then there are 4 Poissoneries with fresh seafood on ice, health food stores, restaurants, cafes, spice shops, an SAQ (liquor store), and a Maison du Chocolat, to name a few.
Premiere Moisson is the champion of all baked goods in Montreal and they occupy the largest building in the market, where they put their artisanal cakes, pies, and quiches on display behind glass like a fine arts museum exhibit. There is a service called Talon Courier that takes orders online for anything from the market, and delivers by bike within a 4 km radius.The Jean-Talon Market has come a long way in the last few decades to cater to more of a city shopper crowd. Not long ago you could buy live chickens and/or live goats for a few dollars, and now it’s a bit more like a suburban mall. Nevertheless, it remains and grows as a healthy alternative to the corporate factory food ‘Supermarket’ model. Knowing where to go, for what, and when, is key.
In a non-global economy shoppers understand that produce is seasonal. Sure, you can find strawberries in February if you want, but they are from South America and they arrived on a plane, get it? Local food doesn’t pay airfare. After all, what do you buy on a daily basis that is more important than FOOD? And what is more important than your HEALTH? You can’t put your trust in a huge corporation to give you nutrition, sustainability, or even taste. But you can trust them to pump your foods full of hormones and chemicals to maximize their profits. And you can trust them to grow their resources wherever it is the cheapest, then fly the foods halfway around the world, all year long. So it is not surprising that people are going back to the basics of food. Local farmers and small farms. It’s not the stuff that has a shelf life longer than you. It’s the fresh gifts from Mother Nature. It’s the pictures of the things on the food pyramid, folks. And the joy of cooking and eating. Humans’ oldest, favorite pastime.
Now a National Historic Landmark, Las Trampas was founded in 1751 by twelve Spanish families from Santa Fe, it is known for the San José de Gracia Church, built between 1760 and 1776 and considered a model of the adobe architecture found throughout New Mexico. The church was once used by Los Hermanos Penitentes, a flagellant Catholic order founded in colonial Spanish America. We will visit the church before heading to Taos and a stop at the famed St. Francis of Assisi Church. This mission church was built between 1772 and 1816. It is located on the plaza in Ranchos de Taos, itself a historic district named Ranchos de Taos Plaza. Construction on the church began around 1772 and was completed in 1815 by Franciscan Fathers and its patron is Saint Francis of Assisi. It is made of adobe as are many of the Spanish missions in New Mexico. It is located a few miles south of Taos Pueblo and has inspired among the greatest number of depictions of any building in the United States. It was the subject of four paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, and photographs by Ansel Adams and Paul Strand. Georgia O’Keeffe described it as, “one of the most beautiful buildings left in the United States by the early Spaniards.”
A favorite whisky book from my library is a first edition by Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, KCMG*, published in London in 1951. Scotch – The Whisky of Scotland in Fact and Story bears the bookplate of a Mr. Frank Hardy, who owned it in 1952. It smells like an old book. In this 175 page narrative, Sir Robert sprinkles short verses and humor among the book’s three chapters about The Water of Life, The Whisky Barons, and War, Prohibition and Dollars:
On how to drink Scotch whisky:
“To-day pure malt whisky is rare. To those who can still obtain it, a little water is permissible with the whisky, but preferable after it. Soda water is an abomination and degrades both the spirit and the soul. By and large, the connoisseur still abides by the old Highland saying: ‘There are two things a Highlander likes naked, and one is malt whisky.’”
On the Glenlivet Distillery:
“Glenlivet it has castles three, Drumin, Blairfindy and Deskie, And also one distillery, More famous than the castles three.”
… and about Glenfiddich, founded by the Grant family:
“Lord grant guid luck tae a’ the Grants, Likewise eternal bliss, For they should sit among the sa’nts That make a dram like this.”
Recent incursions into the world of Italian wineries by famous architects have added daring design to some of the world’s most tantalizing landscapes. The intoxicating result? Italy’s new “archi-wineries” – and thanks to a series of exclusive new day trips, no one is better prepared to show them to savvy travelers in style than Select Italy. The tours, collectively the ‘Archi-Wine’ Tour: When Architects Meet Winemakers, are three tours (with new tours already in development), and focus on the hottest wineries in Tuscany and the Piedmont.
A wedding with a Mayan twist… Officiated by a Mayan Shaman, the traditional Mayan ceremony is a spiritual, interactive celebration honoring the four basic elements of earth, water, air and fire. Serving as the “spiritual guide” during the beach ceremony, the shaman blesses the union through an altar of flowers, fruit, seeds and fire.
Alpine wonderland: Whether seeking a speed-defying black diamond run or the perfect place to push your kids down a fluffy white hill on a toboggan, Interlaken is packed with cold-weather activity for everybody. With the Swiss Alps peering in from above, the snowmobiling and sledding doesn’t get any better, and there are courses designed for all capability levels. Spending your winter somewhere else? Head to Interlaken during the summer for amazing hiking, casual shopping and great eats in town.
Photo © MLHS
Julie Paterson of Venus Adventures shares her experience — an exploration of a traditional East African beauty treatment — during VA’s Cultural Tour in Ethiopia…
A large cloak was draped around me and I was led into a room that had what looked like 3 long-drop toilets with small smouldering fires in front of them. I was seated over the hole in the “long drop”, my cloak draped over the box and the smokey fire, and three thick blankets wrapped around me to stop the smoke escaping, and to ensure I get a good sweat up. My knees were pushed apart as far as possible, smoke rose up all around my body, butter ran down my back, and my thoughts flashed back to the Afar tribe a year ago … Holy smoke, I was being smoked! – Julie Paterson, Venus Adventures
What is so rare as a day in June? How about a day in Irelandin June, at a castle, playing golf? Many Americans go to Ireland to play golf on some of the finest courses in the world there. Others go to the Emerald Isle to visit many of the most stunning castles ever built. We decided to do both at the same time.Ireland not only has lovely ancient castles scattered throughout the country, but many of them have been restored to pristine, 21st Century condition, and many of them have their own golf course in their backyard. June is an optimum time for golfing in Ireland, with the prospect of warm temperatures and relatively little rain.
So we hopped into a rented car at Dublin Airport and – taking our lives in our hands driving on the “wrong” side of the road with their brain-teasing, reverse-directed roundabouts – drove to three fairytale castles to play a round on a noble course during the day and to live like royalty each night. Here are the three castles with golf courses attached that we visited:
Magnificent and awesome is what we felt as we drove into the entrance of this beautiful castle built in 1228. It is set on 350 acres of woodland on the western side of the country about three hours’ drive from Dublin, and a joy to visit. Given the period furnishings, original art, Waterford crystal chandeliers everywhere, the staff should be snooty, but they’re not; they’re warm and friendly, typical of Irish lodging personnel throughout this delightful country.
Our suite featured a four-poster bed, a view of Lough Corrib, the second largest lake in Ireland, and an enormous bathroom with claw-footed tub, fireplace and state-of-the-art glass shower with tiny stained glass castle windows. Normally we would have been more than happy to settle into this grand accommodation for our entire two nights’ stay, but the Ashford golf course beckoned.
A friendly nine-hole course, next to the castle in what was originally a Red Deer park, it was designed by Irish golf architect Eddie Hackett, with no water hazards and little or no rough. It lacked the excessive manicuring that American golf courses offer (you putt on natural grass greens that may reveal an occasional worm residue), but if Bob Hope and Tom Watson could enjoy it, so can we.
In fact, there is a plaque on Hole 3, now called Watson’s Way, stating that Pro Watson once hit an unbelievable 391 yard-drive from the tee to the green, over the trees and around the dogleg, to come within a few feet of the tee. One putt later he had an amazing, never duplicated Eagle. Hole 4 is known as the Shamrock Hole, with an elaborate bunker formed in that shape.
You can ride horses at Ashford, learn how to train a hawk to come to your hand in Ireland’s first school of falconry, fly fish in the lake or the River Cong, shoot clay pigeons, stroll to the gardens and of course enjoy all three meals in three different restaurants on the castle grounds. Oh yes, and the golf course is complimentary to all Ashford guests. We fit as much as humanly possible into our two-day, two-night stay. Room prices range from $254 to $1400.
The gray stone walls of the gothic fairytale 16th Century Dromoland Castle may be ancient, as are the paneled corridors graced with portraits of esteemed ancestors, antique furniture and coats of armor, but its bedrooms and baths, designed by the esteemed decorator Carleton Varney, are all 2011, and gorgeous.
Vibrant colors and floral patterns abound, and while the royalty who lived here originally had no indoor plumbing at all, our marble bathtub was fitted with a built-in television set so we could watch the news or sports while bathing.
Dromoland was the ancestral home of the O’Briens, Barons of Inchiquin, one of the few native Gaelic families of royal blood. You can feel the royal touch in the formal Earl of Thomond restaurant with its oak wainscoting, and in the cocktail bar formerly the baron’s study. The restaurant features locally sourced produce and customized fine wine recommendations by the knowledgeable sommeliers.
The new Dromoland Spa includes vibrating lounge chairs so that you can be massaged by the chair while waiting for your real life massage; and the 18-hole parkland golf course, designed by Brook L. Wigginton, winds around Lake Dromoland. Golfers are accompanied on the course by meadowlarks and pheasants. The fescue is rough and challenging and the greens are well manicured with elevated tees, most especially the 7th hole which presents a spectacular view of the castle.
In the sweet town of Newmarket-on-Fergus, Dromoland takes up 410 acres of unspoiled woods and parkland. Dromoland boasts a state-of-the-art golf academy with nine driving range bays and fully automated “Power Tees” alleviating the need for bending down for your next ball.
In addition to falconry, guests can go clay shooting on the property, play tennis, cycle using the castle’s complimentary mountain bikes, practice archery, and fish in the lake, which is well stocked with trout and perch. Dromoland is near Limerick and just eight miles from Shannon Airport. The average room price is $546
The castle of Castlemartyr, near Cork, in southern Ireland, is an 800-year-old ruin. However, it provides a glorious setting for the restored 18th Century manor house where guests sleep, luxuriate and enjoy, among other amenities, one of the largest (24,400 square feet) and most complete world-class spas, wellness and fitness centers in all of Ireland.
To have a pedicure while gazing down at the enormous swimming pool, which overlooks the formal gardens of the baronial estate, while dreaming of the dinner of smoked Irish salmon and young spring Irish lamb in the pretty Castlemartyr dining room is luxurious relaxation at its finest.
But we were there to golf, and Castlemartyr’s inland links-style golf course challenged us to the core. Too bad the former owners Knights Templar, Sir Walter Raleigh and the first Earl of Cork were not here when the Ron Kirby-designed course was made. The natural shaping of lows and hillocks create unpredictable bounce and lies. A range of native grasses, fescue and gorse surround the long holes. This was obviously designed as a walking course, as cart paths are sometimes far from the hole and tee.
The members’ clubhouse, while copying the same gray of the castle ruins, is a surprising Bauhaus-like contemporary boxy structure that shocks the golfer looking for a traditional place from which to start the game. The 220-acre woodland estate, built by Henry Boyle, Earl of Shannon, includes a lake graced with swans, a ballroom, and a Knights Bar with its renowned Irish whisky collection. From 1929 to 1996, the Carmelite Fathers owned it and opened a boarding school for boys. Everything since has been restored and modernized, and the guest rooms are up to the minute with their amenities and décor.
The beautiful restaurant at Castlemartyr, overlooking the manor gardens offered Irish fresh local fish, meat and produce taken to gourmet heights. Example: a starter of confit duck and foie gras, celeriac remoulade, caper and raisin puree and a main course consisting of pan fried sea bass with bok choi, potato gnocchi, onion, chervil and mussel sauce. Heaven.
And of course, Castlemartyr offered the traditional Irish breakfast of bacon and eggs, black and white pudding, fruits, and breads of all kinds. Rooms start at $418 in June.
In Oregon Wine Country, a full service Inn and Spa awaits any traveling desire… whether you are looking for a culinary tour, wine tour, or corporate travel for your company’s next off-site meeting, you will find a powerhouse chef crafting elegant and delicious dishes featuring local ingredients and an interior that has been masterfully executed by renowned architects.
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