Teri B.

Teri B.

International TravelWining/Dining

Thanksgiving in Vancouver Part 1

Van 12

Our family vacation during the Thanksgiving holiday is a favorite tradition. It is a time to do a deep dive into the agreed-upon destination. That includes, of course, amazing food, local sights, some R&R, shopping and always a movie. Since 2009, we’ve been to New York, Chicago, Nashville, New Orleans (twice), Memphis, Charleston & Savannah, Maine & Vermont, Napa (twice), Portland, and now Vancouver.

It’s obviously an easy flight to this particular destination, with no time change and many daily departures from Burbank airport via Alaska Airlines.  Avoiding LAX is a bonus.  Additionally, we come home the day after Thanksgiving to avoid the weekend craziness.  And we’re thankful to have excellent and patient caretakers as a family with five dogs — all disparate in temperament and needs!  Shout out to Jillian and Jacob for making sure the crew is well cared for in our absence, and keeping us up to date via WhatsApp.

Back to this beautiful city of Vancouver, we are situated in the heart of downtown at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.  The Rosewood brand is on a major expansion. Currently, there are 44 hotels worldwide with 30 more in the coming years. Their promotion of “third night free” for our 7 nights was extremely advantageous, besting rates at the iconic Fairmont hotels here. We were delighted with our spacious accommodations, which is always a key factor for a memorable trip.

A hat tip again to son Sam for introducing us to the TripIt app.  Every flight, transporation, restaurant, sightseeing destination, etc., is there. We all have access to the app so knowing what is planned is there for all to see (except the hubby, who basically just wants to be advised).

The first activity was special.  Daughter Hannah works at Disney Animation and their annual major release is the day before Thanksgiving.  Seeing the movie has been part of our plans for several years now.  The company has a smaller studio in Vancouver who planned a Friends & Family screening to which we were invited.  What a phenomenal way to begin, seeing the glorious “Wish” which I highly recommend.  We had a studio tour as well, which has grown to nearly 400 employees in less than two years.

At the screening above (with the proud mom screen credit inclusion); below at the studio tour with co-workers met for the first time “in person”

We were so grateful to have a lengthy lunch and catch up with L.A. expats and dear friends who moved to Bellingham, WA, nearly 10 years ago.  They made the 90 minute drive north.  Granville Island Public Market proved to be an ideal spot, not least of which was Lee’s Donuts! Never have I ever seen a line like that .. for donuts! Oh, my, they are delicious.

Sam found the exceptional Italian restaurant Acquafarina for a delicious dinner. A highpoint certainly was standing in their four-story wine cellar housing roughly 5,000 bottles.  A forklift is at the ready to grab those bottles way up high.

Sam in the proverbial “happy place” above

Does one go to Vancouver and NOT visit Stanley Park? I think not. It’s hard to miss at nearly 1,000 acres in adjacent to the downtown area.  We enjoyed walking the perimeter with spectacular views (below) across the water to the skyline.  The photo at bottom shows just a few of the Canadien Geese in the park.

Something not planned in advance but thoroughly enjoyed was attending a hockey game.  The Vancouver Canucks played the San Jose Sharks at the Rogers Arena.  Hockey is an exciting game to watch where one dare not look away for a second as a goal might just happen. Additionally, the Canucks are the only professional sports franchise in Vancouver, no doubt adding to their popularity. And who knew we would see royals (are they still?) at the game — Prince Harry and his wife (I’m not a fan to say the least).  His Invictus Games are to be held in Vancouver and Whistler in 2025. So they soaked up a bit of attention via the big screen.  And not long later, those images were all over social media. The Canucks won, by the way.

Receiving high praise from the concierge when sharing some of our restaurant bookings was a great sign that I had done my “due diligence.”  In particular, that was the case with  Published on Main.  While their style may be somewhat quirky, the food is definitely anything but.  By “quirky,” it’s because there’s no clear server but rather a team effort.  The staff wear whatever they want except for a lapel pin that identifies them as an employee.  The menu changes practically daily with some very complex offerings — save for a few that never go off the menu for fear of anarchy (like the Bee Pollen Milk Muffins thank goodness).  We were very happy with the choices seen below.

Counterclockwise from top right:  Those muffins!; Homemade chips with smoked fish dip; grapefruit & broccoli (it worked); Steelhead with pumpkin & chard

Schnitzel with 10,000 island dressing; Coffee & Caramel roll; Frozen Pumpkin Cheesecake

Part 2 will cover the Sea to Sky Gondola and Whistler, White Rock Pier and more great meals.

Canadien Geese in Stanley Park
Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

Navigating Travel in 2023


October — is there a better month in which to travel? Perhaps only May. Virtually anywhere one wants to go — for autumnal leaves, grape harvests, Oktoberfest, manageable crowds and wonderful weather — that is October.  I personally don’t take advantage in the ever-present hope of the Dodgers going deep in the post season (emphasis on “hope”). Plus we have standing family travel over Thanksgiving. Posts to follow from this year’s upcoming trip to Vancouver.

So when the State Department just issued a Worldwide Caution Alert, obviously as a result of the heinous terrorist attacks on Israel, what does one do? Cancel that trip to Iran?

To state the obvious, we never know what is going to happen. Full stop. So trying to protect oneself can often be a fool’s errand. There are the well-known “hot spots” — including Iran — that are currently listed as Level 4.

But what about everywhere else? Here’s my advice. Travel, but always be aware of your surroundings. Allow extra time for security at every airport. Sign up for STEP (that is a must) for travel alerts and general information. For anyone wondering how travel insurance figures into the equation, that will be covered in a separate post.

Beyond that, I say go. Always go. As a wise but anonymous person once said:

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”





Snippets from the Road


sleeping on a plane

Do you stress about where you sit on a flight?  I do. When it comes to international flights, where I sit is nearly as important as the flight schedule and/or the cost. It sets the tone for the beginning (or ending) of memorable journeys.

I think about where I am most likely to avoid small children.  It’s not the kids; it’s the parents who think their children do not need to lower their voices or stay in their seats. Beyond that (over which I obviously have no control), I think about sitting on the left side window.  Why? Because I sleep on my left side, so that way I am facing away from the distractions.

Did I mention I stress about my seat?

For years, I went to SeatGuru for guidance.  You entered your flight details and voila — up came the seat configuration map. Additionally, the passenger reviews of the aircraft were very helpful.  Comments might be “this bulkhead seat eliminates some storage space” or “the window is not aligned with the seat” or “anticipate noise from the galley or restroom.”

A recent column in The Points Guy indicated that SeatGuru is certainly obsolete if not essentially non-existent.  The good news is:  AeroLOPA

AeroLOPA is a portfolio of aircraft seating plans, carefully developed and uniquely detailed to help you make the very best decision about where to sit on-board your next flight

In perusing the site, I found links to virtually every major airline.  So assuming you have the equipment details available via your booking (or flight you want to select), the site appears to have all of the seat maps.  While customer reviews are absent, the site provides much greater detail about a given aircraft’s cabin seating and even includes wi-fi and entertainment offerings.

Do I wish I were one of those people who gets on a plane without a second thought and drifts immediately into a blissful sleep?? Well, the hubby got that gene. I just figured out how to deal with what I have and feel victorious when it all works out.

International TravelThings I LoveThings You Should Know


london 29

An 8-day stay in London provides so much time to do and see, a second post is necessary to cover all our activities. This is in addition to the one covering Wimbledon (HERE), and the side trips covered in the previous post (HERE).  With just four remaining days, a lot of ground was yet to cover.  And here you go:

Not knowing how peppy we might be from Friday at Wimbledon, Saturday plans were open. A last- minute decision to acquire theater tickets was an unplanned but deliciously enjoyable afternoon!  First, a random choice for Vietnamese food near the theater was one of those “scores” — amazing food! Next, seeing Crazy for You, a revival directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, was just a marvelous experience. Gershwin’s “I’ve Got Rhythm” and “Nice Work if You Can Get It” had us smiling (and singing along) throughout. At the Gillian Lynne Theater now though January 2024, I highly recommend it if you have the opportunity.

Bardo St. James is a supper club in the St. James area (obviously) I found during research for our big Saturday night.  It is an extremely well executed restaurant/club. The food is delicious and the setting is gorgeous with nightly entertainment. We thoroughly enjoyed a young lady singing from the Great American Songbook with barely a hint of British accent. We spoke with her at a break and the accent was most definitely there, so kudos to her for singing “American.” The hubby and I have long frequented Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood, but strictly for the entertainment. Food and ambience are most definitely secondary.

The singer is visible in the background (above); below our dinner and perhaps the single best dessert ever — a magnificent fruit tart.  Perfection. 

Our return visit to Buckingham Palace happened Sunday morning, early enough to still watch the Men’s Finals. Our first visit in 2011 featured a display from the Cambridge wedding (with illicit photos of Kate’s dress). This visit featured all the Coronotion regalia (with accompanying illicit photos).

The “backyard” is roughly 6 acres, including a gorgeous pond shown below.

Part of the tour included The Royal Mews adjacent to the palace, where all means of transportation are maintained. 

After watching the final match with a little picnic in our room, we had a lovely walk to a pub in Chelsea for dinner and nearly made it back to the hotel before the rains came. And came. And got us pretty soaked! Nevertheless, got those steps in.

Below, the magnificent sun setting prior to giving way to the rain.

Tickets for Windsor Castle were intentionally booked for Monday. The reason? To see the Queen’s final resting place there at St. George’s Chapel, closed on Sundays for worship services. This was also a return visit for us so we mostly did a quick perusal inside and headed to the chapel. After a fairly long queue, with full view of the tomb, I became quite emotional.  All I thought of to do was curtsy and say “thank you for your life of service” before welling up. I have always been enamored with her unfailing and lifelong devotion to service. Seeing the finality of it all just got to me.

Side note: Prince Phillip was not initially interred in the chamber. He was relocated there after the Queen’s passing. I don’t know the reason, but was told so by the guard on duty. Together with her parents, they shall remain so forever. Yes, I snuck a photo (below), not unlike what has been widely shared in the press.

Above, inside St. George’s Chapel; below, beautiful grounds at Windsor Castle

Our last evening included a spectacular performance of  Guys and Dolls at the Bridge Theater, so called as it is located steps from the Tower Bridge. What’s most unique about the venue: “It is the first wholly new theatre of scale to be added to London’s commercial theatre sector in 80 years.”

Suffice to say, any production of Guys & Dolls is by virtue of the score a joy. I would say this was exceptional.  “An immersive audience experience” — meaning guests could choose to stand during the performance. Stage management dressed as cops moved audience members about as actors on risers performed — flawlessly without interference. At the end, actors danced with audience members after the final “formal” curtain call.  An absolutely joyous experience where everyone walks out happy.

The magnificent bridge, seen after and before the performance

What to do until it was time to head to Heathrow for an overnight prior to our early flight the next day? Why, head to Harrod’s!  One can certainly spend countless hours browsing the endless floors and rooms and departments. “Go big or go home” were both true with lunch at Gordon Ramsey Burger.

Terrific people watching accompanied the delicious food. My favorite was a woman with her four children who ranged in age (I’m guessing) maybe 13 down to 6. When we left, I made a point to compliment her on their behavior. Imagine a scene where kids all sit quietly (reading/drawing/talking) without a single electronic device to occupy them!! Extraordinary, especially today.

At Harrod’s in what many women also call “the promised land.”  (No purchases in answer to your question)

We ended as we began, with a British Airways flight to Houston and a switch to United for the flight home. The hubby got to experience Wimbledon to celebrate his milestone birthday (early) and we both came away feeling extraordinarily grateful to again see and do so much.

International TravelThings I LoveThings You Should Know



Suffice it to say, a week in London offers virtually endless possibilities. That is the amount of time allocated for the trip where attending Wimbledon was the centerpoint (see last post). But that was just one day’s activity!

I’ll start with how we flew to London. I’ve often talked about booking mileage seats for international flights. The number of miles to fly into Heathrow is officially crazy, not to mention the taxes. Arguably the worst route is LAX-Heathrow. But if you begin heading east from LA, the number of miles is less. Often by a lot. That means, find other cities with non-stop flights to LHR:  Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, and (bingo!) Houston. Why get excited about Houston (in the summer especially)? A chance to visit with longtime dear friends as a bonus for this trip. Even with the addition of round-trip air from LAX to Houston on United, the spend was less than originating in LA. Below, with various members of the Zeidman family in Houston (who tried their best to get us to divulge the nature of the trip – to no avail!)

After a fun overnight catching up, we had a uneventful flight into London. “Uneventful” is a word that cannot be assumed these days. Both our LA and Houston drivers shared with us the turmoil their schedules have been subject to recently. It is very difficult to plan with so much air travel disruption.

It’s always a big and time-consuming endeavor deciding on a hotel (for me, anyway). Consideration includes location, cost, amenities, hotel size, etc. Staying a full week in one hotel is highly unusual for our travels. We tend to move every 3 days or so. Accordingly, even more thought went into this one.

I chose the Baglioni London for a few reasons. It was one of the most “affordable” among the Amex Platinum offerings; it has just 60 rooms (definitely prefer smaller hotels); and I like the location for walking (near Kensington Palace). It’s also a member of Leading Hotels of the World, through which I often book. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed the hotel along with their top-notch team. In particular, the concierges were extremely helpful and very knowledgeable.

Like the recent trip to Singapore, I booked an international outpost of a beloved LA restaurant – Pizzeria Mozza. We managed to keep awake long enough our first evening to thoroughly enjoy the meal while adjusting to the time change. The delicious food below:

The following day took us back to Heathrow but for an excellent reason!  Getting our rental car (for the day) and driving on from there to Wales. Why Wales? Why not? We’ve been to all the other UK countries. But it wasn’t just to have a “look about”in the area. The route provided us an opportunity for another first: visiting Stonehenge.

Back to the Wales visit, the country has an entirely different language.  I mean, it is barely understandable. And it’s full of consonants with few vowels. Try deciphering the one below while driving!

After lunch in Cardiff, Wales – chatting with a local

I mapped our return route to see the historic site Stonehenge. It is quite amazing — a monument made of stone assembled thousands of years ago that attracts more than a million visitors annually. It is well worth the trip.

And then a trip highpoint (for me at least):  Highclere Castle — the filming site for Downton Abbey. Getting there is fairly easy via train from Paddington Station, then a short cab ride.  I pre-booked our tickets and we arrived with time to walk around the immense grounds and visit the gift shop (no purchases!).  The first glimpse below.  Don’t you half expect to see Carson walking up the path??

Photography is prohibited inside (wink, wink), but a very nice person took the photo below at the entry.  (The entry doors seemed larger on the show!) Once inside, the path is pre-ordained to include the main “great” room, reception rooms, upstairs bedrooms and the well-known and familiar grand staircase. The downstairs kitchen was filmed off premises.

Several iconic areas below that are easily recognizable from the show:

A few people asked me if tourists are allowed inside. Many grand estates in the UK are only able to exist with the funds raised by people who are curious enough to pay for a visit. Highclere has been in the same family for 8 generations and encompasses 5,000 acres. That requires a lot of “pounds” to maintain!

The rest of our London (and beyond) adventure in the next post.

International TravelThings I LoveThings You Should Know



For those who read my annual “Happy New Year” post highlighting the year’s upcoming travel plans, I listed a 70th birthday trip for the hubby but kept the details “secret.”  There is a method to my madness, and it’s all about superstition.  It’s certainly not because I think people are that infatuated with what we’re doing.

It’s not easy planning something to mark a milestone birthday. Especially since the actual date is during baseball playoffs.  Typically I’m off the hook as the plan is to attend if not certainly to watch a game.  This one, however, involved going to another much-coveted sporting event.  And that is Wimbledon.

What’s that, you say?  “I didn’t know Bruce is a tennis fan!”  Well, he is to the point of getting up basically in the middle of the night to watch important matches live.  And not just recently, but for as long as I can remember.  His playing days are long since past, but being a fan never faded.

So how exactly does one get tickets? Well, I contacted the office for Debenture (seat) Holders right after the 2022 tournament and found out when the seats go on sale for 2023. The hubby picked the day to attend: the Men’s Semi-Finals. Seeing two top matches (Novak vs. Sinner and Alcarez vs. Medvedev) as opposed to one final match would guarantee an outstanding experence.

What happens if we can’t go? The seats after purchased become “ours” to sell via StubHub or any other ticket reseller. We just can’t sell them back to the Debenture office.

With that information in hand, we pulled the trigger for a wildly extravagant, once-in-a-lifetime (probably), what the hell/go for it trip. By the way, one doesn’t get to choose their seats.  Debenture seats are all on the same level –arguably the best (shown below – the 200’s).  They will take requests with no guarantees, such as sitting on an end for instance.Finally getting the email a month ago with our tickets was a thrilling experience! Section 211, one over from the section for the player’s family and teams.  Wow. Perfect.

Stawberries & Cream – a Wimbledon must!

So why not share the plans in advance? Superstition. Get there first and then share the news. No point in building expectations (ours!) only to have it not happen.  Many a friend said “You can tell me! I promise not to say anything!!”  It wasn’t about that; it was about counting those proverbial chickens …

Congrats to 2023 champion Carlos Alcarez — we now know your name is next!

Was it worth the secrecy, planning, expense, travel, etc? In a word, the experience was priceless .. Happy early 70th to the one and only hubby.  You’ve worked your ass off your entire life and deserve it all.

The Royal Box above: Princess Beatrice; below the late Queen’s cousin the Duke of Kent

Above; Novak v. Sinner; and Novak below in the post-match interview

Mass exodus above; and the best way to get to the taxi queue in

an enclosed, bike-driven “cab”