Saturday, June 26, 2010

Where do lonely luggage go?

It's doubtful anyone would willingly leave their luggage at the airport baggage carousel. It's more likely that the lone piece of baggage circling around was misrouted and the owner is somewhere else in the country waiting for it. If it's properly identified, the owner will get it back but if there's nothing in the bag that indicates the owner's name and address, it may find its way to Scottsboro, Alabama. Why there? Lonely Planet answers the question, "What happens to unclaimed baggage?".  http://insidedigital.blog.lonelyplanet.com/2010/06/25/what-happens-to-unclaimed-baggage/?affil=fb-fan

*  *  *

Sur la Table - San Francisco Bay Area

HongKong Lounge - San Francisco

Dinnertime is hectic at the HongKong Lounge. We arrived at 5 p.m. when the restaurant was still empty of customers but from then on, diners filled the main hall and private rooms in no time. Those who arrived after 6 p.m. had to wait till the early birds finished their meals. Why would anyone want to wait in line for dinner?  I had never heard of this place before but my niece chose this restaurant for her graduation reception. It's not in San Francisco's Chinatown but in the Outer Richmond area which may just as well have worked to the restaurant's advantage. Half of our group were vegetarians so it was a little difficult to please everyone's appetite in our party. There were four dishes I enjoyed from the lot and these were the meaty and juicy lobster tail, the bokchoy, the mu shu chicken and the white buns which were served with the Peking duck. I didn't like the prawns in hastily scrambled eggs. I found the prawns to be half cooked and I didn't like the dripping eggs.  Corkage fee is $10.00 per bottle if you decide to bring your own wine. The HongKong Lounge is at 5322 Geary Blvd, San Francisco. Finding a parking space is a challenge in this neighborhood.

Il Fornaio - Palo Alto

At Il Fornaio recently, I discovered my favorite dish on their menu, Cappellacci di Zucca, which is ravioli filled with butternut squash and walnuts with tomato sauce and brown butter, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and crispy sage (I found the sage incredibly tasty). What I did appreciate most was that I could order a primi or small portion which was three large pieces of ravioli, the perfect number for eating light in the evening. And dinner is served with generous slices of bread from the restaurant's own bakery. My friend ordered the Barilotti alle Melanzane (shown above) which is barrel shaped whole wheat pasta with eggplant in tomato sauce, fresh basil and smoked mozzarella. I must try that dish next time. It looked quite inviting. The small portions were $10.79 each. Il Fornaio is at 520 Cowper Street, off University Avenue.

*  *  *

Images by Charie

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lake Tahoe Weekend

Sand Harbor beach overlooking snow capped mountains

It's been  ages since I've been up to Lake Tahoe. I'm glad the entire brood went and surprise, not much has changed! The lake is still clean and clear and, according to Guest Magazine, the water in the lake is 99.7% pure or about as pure as distilled water. Lake Tahoe is an alpine lake, sitting at over 6,000 feet above sea level.  It's 22 miles long and 12 miles wide. The drive around the lake is simply breathtaking, as cliché as that may sound.



The photo above illustrates the purity of the lake which magnifies the gradations of colors.


Carefully traipsing over rocks and boulders on a peaceful Saturday afternoon in early June.  The beach,coves and trails are for the lucky few who want to enjoy nature at its very best.

In the summer months, Sand Harbor presents the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. For more info call 1800-747-4697.  Sand Harbor is on Highway 28.

*  *  *
Images by Charie

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Chihuly Glass Spotting


I saw this stunning chandelier at the Hotel Sofitel in Redwood City. I verified with the front desk attendant that this is indeed by Dale Chihuly. If you would like to see more of Chihuly's works, check the following links:
http://travelswithcharie.blogspot.com/2009/06/dale-chihulys-glass-flowers.html
http://travelswithcharie.blogspot.com/2010/04/post-trio-san-francisco.html

* * *

Image by Charie

"Americans abroad run into trouble using credit cards"

Is the magnetic strip credit/debit card becoming a thing of the past? Roger Yu reports in USA Today on this worrying travel issue. Many European countries have now adopted the chip-and-PIN credit card and more countries are going in that direction. So why can't the U.S. follow suit and save millions of American travelers from nervous moments when their credit card is unacceptable at some merchant outlets? Because it would cost an impressive $8.6 billion for the U.S. credit card industry to switch to the more secure chip-and-PIN smart card.

What's a European bound American traveler to do? Charlie Leocha from Consumer Traveler has some answers: 7 credit card rules in Europe: U.S. magnetic strip vs. smart chip — both should work.

* * *

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Sur la Table - Oahu

Roy's at Ko Olina Golf Course

This is the third Roy's restaurant I've dined at and as in previous occasions, I had a delightful experience.  (See Roy's Las Vegas Hawaiian Aloha Hour) For starters, I ordered Roy's haupia and fresh fruit float, a nice cool welcome after a hectic morning packing, getting a rental car, and driving to Ko Olina. Roy's is located at the Ko Olina Golf Course in Kapolei. The entrée I selected was the macademia nut crusted island fish (which was shitome) with lobster sauce. The fish was fresh and prepared as I had requested. It was my first time to eat a shitome fish and it was a pleasant revelation. The combination of lobster essence and butter sauce further enhanced the flavor. After all that, I decided to eat dessert which was poor judgement on my part as I was pretty full. I tried the macademia tart with a scoop of vanilla ice cream - rich and supersweet! I should have shared it with someone as I was served quite a generous portion. Total with beverage came to about $45.00.  http://www.roysrestaurant.com/

Village Noodle House

In all the years I lived in Honolulu, I've never been to Chinatown for lunch or dinner. So when my friends invited me for a get together at the Village Noodle House on Smith Street, I was more than happy to oblige. And the food did not disappoint. We had honey walnut shrimps tossed in garlic and green onion cream sauce, Singapore noodles stir-fried with shredded char-siu, vegetables, shrimp and bean sprouts and served with a special curry sauce and mushroom and snap pea stir fry.  Total with steam rice and tea came to approximately $35.00. 

The restaurant fills with guests quickly as they are close to downtown businesses. For more info, check here: http://www.littlevillagehawaii.com/.

Kincaid's at Ward Centre

Kincaid's was recommended by friends so I was eager to try it. It's at the Ward Warehouse where you can find one-of-a-kind shops and a few restaurants, including an outdoor food court. Kincaid's is on the second floor and is right across from the harbor so there is a nice view of the ocean.  Unfortunately my meal wasn't all that good. I ordered mahi mahi (dolphin fish) with papaya and mango sauce. When the mahi mahi was first served to me, it was a little raw for my taste so I sent it back to the kitchen.The mahi mahi was hard and rubbery.  I was totally disappointed as Kincaid's was highly recommended.  All that and a beverage came to $25.00.

*  *  *

Images by Charie

The 10 Worst Travel Rip-Offs ... and How to Avoid Them - SmarterTravel.com

From baggage fees to bank surcharges for foreign credit card transactions to car rental CDW/LDW insurance and hotel wi-fi charges, here's smart advice on how to avoid these fees that can add up to a "big shock" when we return home from vacay.  May I add that bringing your own headphones take little space and will save you a few $ should you decide to watch a movie or listen to in-flight music.

The 10 Worst Travel Rip-Offs ... and How to Avoid Them - SmarterTravel.com