Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wednesday Walking - Favorite Place Close to Home

The college campus near our home is a great place to walk. I won't say it's my absolute favorite place but it's close and that makes it very convenient.

It's also a diverse place with plenty of sidewalks, a quarter mile track and walking trails through the woods. There's also a lovely pond where the geese and ducks live year round.

A beautiful place to walk at sunset.

Do you have a favorite walking place close to home?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A-Z Guidebook - Levanto, Italy on the Ligurian Sea

One of the places on our must see and do list was the Cinque Terre on the Ligurian Sea. But you know the old 'no room in the inn' thing. The hotels in the villages of the Cinque Terre were either closed for the season (that's what happens when you visit in November) OR they were way out of our budget. So we checked out the town of Levanto. Just a stones throw from Monterossa, the first village on the Cinque Terre. And guess what? We fell in love with this quaint little town.

Levanto is just north of the Monterossa and right on the Ligurian Sea. It has a beautiful, sandy beach and a lovely downtown area which boost a fishing tackle store, a bakery, several cafes and small hotels. Easy access by train to the Cinque Terre and friendly locals were the icing on the cake so to speak.

We stayed in an apartment in the Lyrica Hotel right on the town square. High ceilings, marble floors and staircases, tall French windows. I loved our hotel! In the evenings we could hear the children playing in the park and the people walking by the sea for a stroll after dinner.

Levanto is such a lovely, intimate little town  we're contemplating an extended stay in the future.

Check out other L places by visiting 

A-Z Guidebook Badge

Monday, May 16, 2016

Restaurant Review - Fraunces Tavern in New York

Fraunces Tavern is located in the Financial District at 54 Pearl Street, New York . The tavern is where George Washington bid farewell to his officers at the end of the Revolution. As one of the oldest building in New York, Fraunces Tavern has been an operating Colonial American tavern since 1762.

We had brunch at the tavern before heading to the airport. We picked this place for two reasons. First I was intrigued by the historic aspect. I mean George Washington was here! How could we not stop by? The other reason was simply because it was half a block from our hotel. Since we'd already walked 34 miles the day before this was a no brainer.

It was Mother's Day and they had a special menu that we ordered from. Choice of a two Bloody Marys or two Momosas, appetizer and entree for $30. That wouldn't have been too bad but we added a beer, two coffees and two desserts. The total for brunch not including tip was $105.00. Yikes! Even on vacation that was a bit steep for us.

 Appetizers and Entrees

I started with an appetizer of Scotch Eggs and it was yummy. The eggs were hard boiled just right, wrapped in a concoction of three sausages and deep fried. Served on a wooden tray with sweet pickles,porter cheese and a tangy mustard and honey sauce. For an entree I chose the fish and chips. Big pieces of deep fried cod and french fries served with tartar sauce and mint pea sauce on the side.

For an appetizer John had Salmon Chowder which he said was so good and filling he could have had that as a meal. For an entree he had the chicken pot pie. A big puff of pastry made for an impressive show but he said overall it wasn't any better than the pot pie at KFC. He loves the pot pie from KFC so that's not necessarily a bad review.

Dessert and Coffee 

There were only four items on the dessert menu: Tavern Cheese Board,  Meyer Lemon Tart, Sticky Toffee Pudding and Classic Sundae for Two. 

Sorry but to me cheese does not constitute dessert so I went with the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Not sure where the toffee was. It was more like a gingerbread cake with chocolate topping. It was topped with some really good whisky flavored ice cream. Overall very tasty. 

My dining partner decided on the Meyer Lemon Tart. Made a very pretty presentation on a platter with the tart, whipped cream and berries. I had a taste and it was okay but then I'm not a fan of lemon desserts. 

I love a good cup of coffee and the coffee here was excellent!

Of course we were in a tavern so we had to try the Samuel Fraunces Ale a 16 ounce draft for $8. So many beers so little time...


I will say that the atmosphere was beautiful. We ate in the cozy bar area and just checking out the beer menu was impressive. The food was good but I don't think it warranted the cost and the service was a little slow.  That didn't bother us too much because we were killing time before we had to head to the airport. It made for a nice relaxing meal but I expected a little more attention from an upscale restaurant.

Fraunces Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Inspired Sunday - Church of the Good Shepherd in Spanish Harlem

While participating in The Great Saunter, a walk around Manhattan, we passed through Spanish Harlem also known as El Barrio.  As we made our way down Isham Street we got a fleeting look at the Church of the Good Shepherd. It was a solid, impressive granite building that took up the entire block. 

The Church of the Good Shepherd is a Catholic church established in 1915. The original wood structure was built on land purchased from the Isham family. In 1935 Architect Paul Monaghan designed the present Romanesque-style building you see today.

The Church of the Good Shepherd was originally established to minister the Irish community. Today the church and adjacent school serves a largely Hispanic congregation. 

This church was only one of the many interesting sights we passed on our long walk around Manhattan.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

We Did It! The Great Saunter 2016 - A Walk Around Manhattan

If you want to really see New York take a walk, a nice long 30 plus mile walk!. All the way around the island of Manhattan! 

The Great Saunter is a walk sponsored by the Shorewalkers walking club to draw attention to the shoreline, greenways and parks around Manhattan's riverfront.

On Saturday we joined 1498 walkers for the annual Great Saunter. And what a great walk it was!

Woo Hoo!!! Woot Woot!!! Blow the horns and throw the confetti because we were two of the 630 that finished the whole entire walk!!!! 

My biggest fear on tackling this walk was the weather. I knew if it was hot I'd never make it. But it turned out to be a beautiful day for walking. Even though the weather predicted rain at various times on Saturday we didn't experience any drops on our heads. It was a perfect day to walk. Overcast, cool and dry! Perfect!

7:30 Start Time!

It was a very short walk from our hotel to the start point at Fraunces Tavern. We were preregistered but we checked out the line before we took off walking. People were lined up all the way around the corner of the building waiting to register.

An overcast sky above the Hudson River...

Couldn't resist getting a photo with Lady Liberty

Battleship Intrepid

The centerpiece of the Sea, Air and Space Museum on the Hudson River

Little Red Lighthouse

We walked up north on the east side of the island beside the Hudson River past Chelsea Piers to Riverside Park. And then on to Riverbank State Park. Next stop the Little Red Light House under the George Washington Bridge.

When I think of New York City I think tall buildings, concrete and crowds. It was a pleasant surprise to find so many parks to walk through.

Innwood Hill Park 

Walking through Innwood Hill Park I'd swear we were out in the middle of nowhere. Trees and rocks surrounded the path and there was no street noise! Hill is appropriate in the name of this park. These were the first hills we encountered and they were quite steep in parts.


As we got on the west side of the island heading south we lost the riverfront in a few places. This meant a zig zag into South Harlem. 

There was actually a graffeti contest of sorts going on...

Bridges Galore!

If you like bridges this is the place to be. Thankfully the Saunter didn't require walking over any bridges but there were plenty to walk under. I think I counted 15 bridges along the walk. 

Williamsburg Bridge

Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty up ahead. 

Finally Made the Finish Line!

Even though it's advertised as 32 miles, it's actually a little over 34 miles. But what's a couple of miles here or there? It took us right at 13 hours to get to the finish. We certainly weren't the first ones but  we also weren't the last! But that's OK it wasn't a race or a competition. Although we were determined to finish and we did!

Wonderful day for a slow walk around the shoreline of Manhattan!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wednesday Walking - Two New Parks

We often enjoy a walk though the Old Ortega neighborhood located in southwest Jacksonville. The area was developed by the Ortega Company founded 1909 by John N. C. Stockton and Charles Bettes.  The neighborhood was designed by the prominent architect Henry J. Klutho. You can see many examples of Klutho's work around Jacksonville.

One of the real joys of exploring an area on foot is finding hidden gems that you might not see from a car. On our last walk through Old Ortega we found two such places.

Cortez Park

Cortez Park is one of four circular parks located along Baltic Street. The park was named for the world explorer Hernando Cortez. At one time an electric trolley traveled to Cortez Park where it turned around for the return trip downtown. 

Beautiful old Oak trees provide shade and numerous benches make for a pleasant place to sit and take a break.

Seminole Park

At Seminole Park on McGirts Blvd. a  beautiful grassy area slopes gently to the Ortega River. Sit on a bench, do a little fishing or launch your canoe from the boat ramp are just a few way to enjoy this small neighborhood park. 

Get outside and explore the world at 3 miles per hours. You might be surprised at what you see!

Walking Wednesday is where I share my favorite walk of the week.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Inspired Sunday - Avondale United Methodist Church

Riverside-Avondale is a wonderful example of a walkable neighborhood. Sidewalks that run under a beautiful canopy of shade trees, parks and benches scattered here and there, the river and lovely old houses to drool over make for a nice walk. Not only that but the neighborhood is pretty much self contained.  A hospital, grocery stores, restaurants and numerous churches are all within walking distance. This is one of our favorite areas to walk and so many churches to look at it's hard to choose just one to highlight...

Avondale United Methodist Church

The church was organized as the Avondale Methodist Episcopal Church and a lot was purchased and a small chapel built in 1927. In 1941 the Gothic style sanctuary was built by architect Leroy Sheftall. The message engraved above the sanctuary doors reads "To the Glory of God".

A lovely day of walking in a beautiful neighborhood!