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June 2011 Archives

June 1, 2011

Pagosa Springs, Colorado: A Town for All Seasons

By John T. Egan

“Wolf Creek Pass, way up on the Great Divide; truckin’ on down the other side.” Maybe you’ve heard “Wolf Creek Pass,” the 1970’s country song by C. W. McCall. But did you know there really is a Wolf Creek Pass and, more importantly, did you know there really is a Pagosa Springs, the little town mentioned at the end of McCall’s hair-raising ride down the San Juan Mountain’s western slope on U.S. Highway 160 in southwestern Colorado?

Don’t feel bad if the name Pagosa (Pah-GO-sah) Springs doesn’t ring a bell -- it falls into Colorado’s ‘best kept secrets’ category. The little town nestled at the foot of the southern San Juan Mountain Range isn’t flashy like other Colorado ski towns. It doesn’t have hundreds of pricey pancaked condominiums and there are no four-lane highways choked with throngs of cars crammed with desperate fun-seekers fleeing their urban work-a-day worlds.

What you will find is a real community of Coloradans who live, work and enjoy life in this understated and charming mountain town that offers the savvy traveler 365 days of reasons to visit.

From spring through the dog days of summer rollicking guided raft trips on the San Juan River carom through the center of Pagosa Springs’ downtown to the whoops and hollers of drenched daredevils braving the high speed waterway. Less adventurous -- but no doubt warmer -- visitors relax in the many historic geothermal pools on the banks of the San Juan River in the midst of downtown. The San Juan and Weminuche Wilderness trails give hikers of all skill levels just the right challenge, from a leisurely stroll through an Aspen tree wilderness to secluded Opal Lake south of Pagosa Springs to backpacking the snow-capped alpine peaks in brilliantly bright daylight to relaxing by a campfire on frosty nights above 10,000 feet in elevation along the Continental Divide Trail.

Winter in Pagosa Springs, not unlike so many other towns in the mountains of Colorado, offers plenty of downhill skiing on peaks above 10,000 feet and cross-country skiing in and around downtown Pagosa Springs and outlying areas. But Pagosa Springs’ other big secret is that Wolf Creek Ski Area, a leisurely day ski area about 30 minutes from downtown Pagosa Springs, normally gets more powder snow earlier than any ski area in Colorado, and it is less expensive than most.

Cheaper, less crowded, best snow -- what’s not to love?





Accommodations in Pagosa Springs are plentiful and range from quaint and inexpensive downtown ‘Mom and Pop’ style motels to homey rental condominiums and pricey resort properties. Dining is as varied in selection and price as the lodging. Restaurants like The Alley House and JJ’s Riverwalk Restaurant and Pub serve very respectable upscale fine dining that includes steaks, seafood and game along with smart wine lists, while simpler and less pricey dishes can be found at local favorites like The Elkhorn Café and Chavolos Taqueria. (TIP: For a great breakfast burrito or pastries baked on property and coffee that speaks with authority, plan to visit The Pagosa Baking Company on San Juan Street in downtown Pagosa Springs. It’s a favorite spot with the locals and offers that cozy ‘bakery’ feel travelers look for.)

To get to Pagosa Springs, most major airlines will route you into Denver’s international airport (DEN), but the savvy traveler will fly into Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Sunport (ABQ) and drive from New Mexico’s awe-inspiring high desert to the calming alpine forests of southern Colorado. The drive is easy, scenic, quicker (four hours as opposed to six hours) and flatter than the route from Denver. The closest commercial airport is located in Durango, Colorado (DRO), only an hour west of Pagosa Springs. (Pagosa Springs does not have a commercial airport.) There are plenty of flights in and out of Durango, but the airfare will be considerably higher.

For more information including myriad events and music festivals (Four Corners Folk Festival, held over Labor Day Weekend, may be the best small music festival in the country) visit http://pagosachamber.com/pagosa-vacation.asp.

Pagosa Springs may be a ‘best kept secret’ in Colorado, but it can be your personal getaway any time of year. Pagosa Springs is truly a town for all seasons.

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Not Just Pizza, Not Just a Pub

By Manning Lee

Whether you’re looking for a slice of pizza on the go, calling for delivery at the hotel after a long day in the sun, or looking for a great place to go for dinner and drinks after hours, Johnny’s Pizza Pub is the place to go.
Johnny’s Pizza Pub is not just pizza. It’s good ol’ American pub food that features crab cakes, the ultimate cheeseburger, super Italian cold cuts and killer subs, signature salads, and 28 chef-inspired, award-winning, mouth-watering buffalo wing sauces. Plus, Johnny’s Eastern Shore Raw Bar serves steamed shrimp and clams.

Since Johnny has been making pizza for thirty years, he knows how to make a great pizza. Johnny’s singular style gives each pizza an original flavor all its own. The new pizza this season is the Neptune Seafood Feast Pizza. Literally a seafood feast for a king, it’s loaded with crab imperial sauce, shrimp, jumbo Maryland blue crab, and extra cheese -- a meal that will satisfy any appetite for seafood. Other international pizzas include: Aloha Pizza, Jamaican Jerk Pizza, Thai Chicken Pizza, and Mediterranean Chicken Pizza.

Johnny’s offers super fast delivery. With their midtown location in the heart of Ocean City on 56th Street bayside, a driver is always ready for a speedy delivery to your door. After a long day on the beach you may have no desire to go out or make dinner, but the kids (and you) still have to eat. Johnny’s Pizza is a great solution to the dinner hassle, with their ‘no hassle’ delivery to any hotel room or condo in town.

Looking for a place to meet up with friends for a few drinks and catch a live band on the weekend? Johnny’s books some of the best emerging acts on the East Coast, and there’s never a cover charge. Johnny’s bar has a state-of-the-art sound system, and wall-mounted flat screen televisions with the latest technology are everywhere! Johnny’s brags about serving the coldest beer and the biggest pitchers in town. The bar has a cool tropical feel, and with an imported tiger wood bar and master tile the pub is one of the most upscale on the beach.

Insomniacs, night owls and partygoers unite for the “after” party. While bars in Ocean City close at 2 a.m., Johnny’s grill doesn’t close down until 4 a.m. It’s perfect for a sober-up, or to satisfy any late night munchies with their Philly Cheese Steaks and Jumbo Cheese Pizza slices, or to finish out the night playing Keno at the bar.

In the morning, after a late night out, why wait in the long lines at all the well-known breakfast spots? Come early -- or mid-morning -- for breakfast at Johnny’s. It truly is one of the best kept breakfast secrets in town. They feature Bloody Mary’s, mimosas, breakfast pizzas, breakfast sandwiches and the rise-and-shine classics. Dine in from 9-11:30 a.m.

Whatever you need to satisfy a big appetite, fast, Johnny’s Pizza Pub is sure to satisfy. Call for delivery at (410) 524-7499 and don’t forget to ask for delivery specials.

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Autumn Glows in Idyllic Deep River, CT, Full of Historic Intrigue

By Lindsay Godfree

ITWPA Member

Discover the glow of glorious autumn leaves in Deep River, a picturesque New England village where you can appreciate the history of the area while strolling on a sunny autumn day. The foliage of orange, red and yellow sashays lazily from the trees and forms a colorful potpourri on the water. The town’s water feature cascades over reflections of multicolored trees in a lovely central park that beckons you to stay awhile.

Everyone has told you that you will love Connecticut in the fall, with the crunch of dried leaves under your feet and colors dripping from the trees all around you. Indeed, how could you not love it? Just wandering around town for a few hours can turn your thoughts to New England again every autumn.  







After thoroughly soaking up the colors, the splashing water sounds, and the crisp, earthy smells, you can stop for a delightful lunch at The Ivory Restaurant & Pub at #1 Kirkland Street. Relax on the outside patio and enjoy their famous Lobster Bisque or Blackened Salmon and Spinach Salad while surrounded with trees in their golden glory. Outside on the wall is an informative plaque explaining the historical significance of the restaurant’s name.






It seems that the historical intrigue of Deep River dates back to 1635 when sloops and schooners were built here to sail to Africa to import the curved ivory tusks used to manufacture piano keys and hair combs. The ships also sailed to cities not so exotic but still exciting with the hustle and bustle of import/export trade, such as Philadelphia and New Orleans, to deliver locally-hewn granite.



The manufacturing of ivory products began when George Read started a business at the site now occupied by Piano Works Condominiums. The town grew up around this industry and for generations the children of Deep River “cut their teeth on ivory rings,” as they say. Their parents were skilled at turning ivory into combs, buttons, and piano keys. In fact, the Pratt, Read & Company factory became the nation’s main supplier of piano keyboards.

During World War II, the factory was converted to produce more than 900 Waco CG4A Glider Aircrafts to carry troops and supplies into combat. The CG4A could carry a jeep, supplies, or 15 infantrymen. A glider built here and christened “VooDoo” embarked from Montreal behind a tow plane on the first and only transatlantic glider flight on June 23, 1943. The present building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Deep River is an ideal spot for boating from the town landing located where Kirkland Street intersects with River Street. There you will find a boat launch area for canoes, kayaks, and other boats. It also features a picnic area with a gazebo. You could boat over to the island park of Seldon Neck State Park, where the Nature Conservancy calls the Lower Connecticut River Valley and its tidal estuaries “one of the last great places.” There are unspoiled walks, hikes and biking trails for all to enjoy.

To get there: From I-95 take Route 9 north or from I-91 take Route 9 south, then take Exit 5 and just follow the signs to Deep River.  

If you go:
Relax at The Riverwind Inn Bed and Breakfast and discover more local color. http://www.bedandbreakfast.com/connecticut-deep-river-riverwind-inn.html
Or perhaps go camping: State Park Camping in Four River Parks

For more information: Deep River, Connecticut

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New Hampshire by Train and Bicycle: A Different Perspective in Foliage Season

By Bob Starink

New Hampshire is a beautiful state all year round. However, autumn is the season when New Hampshire attracts most of its visitors to see the magnificent foliage colors.

Even though you hear horror stories about standing room only throughout all of the New England states at this time of year, there is a lot of land area to spread the crowds out and overpopulation is not really an issue. Of course, booking accommodation in the region does need to be made well in advance and prices are higher but not ridiculously so.




The White Mountains and near-lying areas are foliage magnet destinations. The 34-mile Kancamagus Highway joining Lincoln to Conway is a preferred route to navigate to appreciate the vivid reds and yellows the forests have to offer. Away from the car, there are numerous hikes to immerse yourself in the beauty.

Two other options are train and bike.

The Hobo Railroad and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad offer varied train rides leaving from Meredith and Lincoln. We spent big ($130 each) for seats on the President’s Car for the four-hour tour from Meredith to Livermore Falls and back, which included a hot lunch at the Common Man Inn at Plymouth. This train is like a step back in time. A cheerful old attendant welcomes all on board and serves drinks and snacks as the train slowly moves along the historic track past blue lakes, across rivers and through farms and forests, all enhanced by the multi-colored landscape. Friendly locals wave as the train passes by. A man in the carriage playing a piano accordion completes the old-time scene. For more details and other tour options, check out www.foliagetrains.com.



The Adventure Center at Loon Mountain Resort, just east of Lincoln, offers the Franconia Notch Bike Tour for $36 per person. Once fitted up, you are driven to Echo Lake north of Lincoln and dropped off with a map to make your own way the 12 or so miles back to Loon. Half the journey is on a specially designed bike path while the rest is on local roads.

This is an extremely clever way to see the local attractions. The trail is mostly downhill so you don’t need to be super fit to take the tour. The route connects the major tourist spots along Route 3, including Cannon Mountain Cable Car, The Old Man of the Mountain, The Basin and The Flume.

The Old Man is the state symbol. It’s a giant rock face profile that looks like an old man (obviously). Unfortunately for New Hampshire, the Old Man collapsed seven years ago, so now it’s the very flat-faced Old Man. Imagine the horror of the local tourist authorities and the politicians when their number one state attraction and the symbol on all the road signs disappeared one night.

The joy of the bike ride is that you glide down the trail and stop wherever you want to shoot photos or take a hike and then continue on the bike. No traffic problems, no parking problems.

The Basin and The Flume are water-based features, with The Flume the more spectacular. A path winds its way along a creek in a narrow gorge where at its upper reaches, the creek falls in several cascades. The wooden walkway at one stage seems to have been built right over the top of one of the waterfalls. The track continues in a scenic circuit, including a covered pedestrian bridge over another rivulet looking down along a valley lined with colored foliage. The Flume is privately operated so there is a cost of $12 per person to do the walk.

While we were at The Flume -- for over 90 minutes -- we left our bikes in a bike rack in the parking area without locks. When we returned to them, they were still there. I doubt two unattended bikes here in Australia would be left unstolen or undamaged over that length of time.

The hired bikes are yours for the day so there is no rush to get back. This tour would be a highlight of any visit to the White Mountains.

And finally, when you’re finished leaf viewing, take some time to go to the Settler’s Green, an outlet mall in North Conway. New Hampshire has no state taxes, so the bargains which abound are an even better value.

If you go:
A rental car is the best way to get around. National has excellent rates, especially for one-way rentals. There are many good hotels in the region. We chose the economical Days Inn in Campton (about $120 per night). A great meal can be had at Fratello’s in Lincoln, an Italian restaurant with a big menu and delicious food. For more details on activities at Loon see www.loonmtn.com.

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The World’s Great Ballet Companies Prefer Washington

By Gerald F. Sweeney 

Lovers of ballet across America are learning that Washington, D.C. is the best destination to see the world’s premier dance companies. For the past few years, the Kennedy Center, under the dynamic leadership of Michael Kaiser, has presented two world-famous Russian troupes, the Mariinsky and the Bolshoi, and their American counterparts, the ABT and the NY City Ballet, in week-long programs. This coming season brings the Paris Opera Ballet to the nation’s capital. The Danish Ballet appeared recently, while the Joffrey is a regular visitor at Christmas.

The Center is also the home of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet that reflects the expressive ballerina’s style and crispness. The Farrell company will be celebrating its 10th anniversary on October 12-16 by offering two mixed programs that will include Diamonds, a Balanchine fragment that Farrell herself once danced to the everlasting appreciation of those lucky enough to have seen her.

A visit to the Kennedy Center is a treat in itself. The spacious white marble shrine to the fallen president overlooks the river from a promenade where strollers can read JFK’s enduring comments on the arts that are engraved in the side of the building. The landscaped promenade on the river side offers a waterside view of Georgetown and the distant Washington Cathedral. The terrace fronting the Potomac runs the full length of the edifice outside the Eisenhower Theater, the orchestral hall and the red plush opera house where ballet is performed. The panoramic view of the city on the other side of the building offers a unique look at the Lincoln Memorial.  

During their trip to Washington this spring, the NYCB danced three programs devoted to Balanchine’s black and white ballets. All but defining the Modernism that dominated mid-century taste, the company’s outstanding bevy of young female soloists displayed their abundant talent -- Megan Fairchild, Sterling Hyltin, Abi Stafford, Ashley Boulder, Tiler Peck, and Sara Mearns, the best crop of Lincoln Center dancers since Farrell, McBride and Ashley.

This coming 2011-2012 season, the Bolshoi Ballet will feature the whimsical Coppélia, while the Mariinsky will present Les Saisons Russes, hopefully a recreation of Diaghilev’s Parisian seasons when the St. Petersburg company exploded onto the twentieth-century stage. Devotees can only pray that Obraztsova will dance.

The ABT will offer the world’s reigning choreographer Alexei Ratmansky’s Nutcracker along with the old favorite Le Bayadére (December 8-11). The NYCB will present two mixed programs after the first of the year. The Paris Opera Ballet will bring in Giselle.

Detailed information about these and other programs can be accessed at www.kennedy-center.org or by calling (202) 416-8485.

The Kennedy Center, of course, is only one of the many jewels in the crown of the capital city. Side trips to the National Gallery, the Phillips Collection, the Corcoran and Freer will widen the eyes of any cultured visitor. Not to speak of the other Smithsonian museums nearby -- American History, Air and Space and the new Indian -- along with the many other war and presidential memorials that rise alongside the Mall...

If only the Royal Ballet could be induced to join the premier companies that visit D.C., the roster would be complete.

Hints to visitors: For weekend and evening performances, visitors can avoid the outlandish fee (often more than the ballet tickets) at the KC by parking across the street in the Watergate. Near the garage is Cuppa Cuppa that offers inexpensive but tasty dining, though the Cafeteria on the top of the KC offers fine fare.

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June 24, 2011

How to Buy the Perfect Panama Hat

By Heather Rath

ITWPA Member

What do actresses Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow and celebrities like Miss Ecuador have in common? (Hint: When they were alive, President Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Humphrey Bogart and Gary Cooper were already part of the trend.)  

Wearing a Panama hat!

Contrary to popular belief, the glorious Panama hat originates in Ecuador -- not Panama. This remarkably functional, fashionable fedora has existed under its misnomer for more than a century, when the hats from Montecristi and Cuenca, Ecuador, traversed difficult Andean mountain ranges to Panama, where they were exported to the world. Hence, the false signature name Panama hat. 






Light, flexible, durable, and a life-saver in the hot sun, a Panama (oops, Ecuadorian) hat is expensive but worth every penny. Several hundred dollars -- or even thousands of dollars -- for the best of the best is not uncommon, but you can actually purchase one of these straw gems for a reasonable amount.

The original hat was made of toquilla straw, a name that has ancient roots. When the Spanish first arrived in Ecuador, they saw indigenous people wearing a strangely woven hat that looked as if it had vampire wings. In 1630, the people were persuaded to wear these hats without the brim; this new version was called a toquilla. In 1796 Charles V encouraged the introduction of craft leagues in Ecuador, including one for this straw hat. Because of their growing popularity, the meticulously woven hats became the principal export product of Ecuador between 1944 and 1945.




The palm-like plant that produces the straw used to weave the hats is native to Ecuador. When tender leaves sprout, workers cut them from the parent plant. Removed from the sun to air dry, they transform into thin, blonde, cylindrical fibers. This important step requires great patience and care because the fibers’ strength and color depends on this process.

The quality of the hat depends not only on the thickness of the raw material but also on the manual skill of the weaver whose dexterity is passed from generation to generation. The weavers work at home, often in poor light in difficult surroundings, and deliver the hats in their first stage to the factories. It takes at least four months, and often more, to produce a tightly-woven, earth-scented, cream-colored, true ‘panama’ hat.







When you enter one of the hat factories in Cuenca, the array of styles and colors at different prices makes even the most ardent shopper stop, think, and shop wisely. Attendants can easily alter the fedora so that it fits snugly and will not blow off even in a strong wind. My husband and I visited two high profile factories in Cuenca, coming away with a passion for the workmanship and an Ecuadorian ‘panama’ hat we are proud to wear.












For more information check out these links:
www.homeroortega.com and www.sombrerosecuatorianos.com


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There’s More to Albuquerque than a Left Turn

By Bob Starink

Albuquerque is hard to spell and you may only recognize the name from Bugs Bunny’s directions to turn left there. However, not only is this city in the desert a great place to use as a base camp to travel to exotic places in all directions, it is a tourist attraction in its own right.

Albuquerque, New Mexico, is an easy flight from all major U.S. cities. From here, the Rocky Mountains in Colorado are to the northeast, the magnificent desert national parks of Utah lay northwest, the Grand Canyon in Arizona is due west and Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Monument are southeast.

The road system in Albuquerque makes navigation to the variety of attractions easy. These attractions include Old Town, which celebrates the city’s history dating back to 1706; the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center which, as the name suggests, concentrates on the 19 local native tribes; the Sandia Peak Tramway, a cable car ascending nearly two miles from the desert floor to seasonal snow fields; and the Albuquerque Aquarium, which is very popular with kids.

Albuquerque’s greatest claim to fame, though, is the annual Balloon Fiesta the first week in October. Balloons from all over the country converge for a spectacular air show where up to 700 balloons take to the sky in the Mass Ascensions. This balloon festival began in 1972 with 13 balloons and has developed into the largest event of its type in the world. A unique weather combination makes Albuquerque ideal for ballooning -- varying winds at different altitudes allow balloonists to circle the area rather than fly away in a single direction.







The many different shapes of balloons make the show even more fascinating for spectators. During some of the Fiesta nights, balloonists fire up their crafts on the ground to create a multi-colored light show. Food and souvenir stalls that line the field provide more entertainment after the balloons are done.

Entry to the Fiesta is only $6 per adult and parking is $10 for those who drive in. The Mass Ascensions occur just after sunrise (about 7 a.m.) so a pre-dawn awakening is necessary.










For a special treat, Rainbow Ryders provide rides in their balloons during the Ascensions. Aloft for up to two hours, you can watch balloons taking off from the field below, landing in nearby clearings and surrounding you in the air. This is an extraordinary way to appreciate the Fiesta. With only about 50 people per day allowed, the price of $375 per person is not that unreasonable for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.








Visiting Albuquerque during any season of the year is worth your time but doing so in October adds remarkable memories that are treasured forever.

If you go:
A flight from Los Angeles to Sunport International Airport in Albuquerque costs around $150 per person. An interesting alternative is to take an Amtrak train. A seat from Los Angeles will set you back approximately $65 for the 16-and-a-half-hour overnight journey (a sleeping car is extra).

There are many good hotels in Albuquerque, especially around the airport. Prices during the Fiesta are naturally higher than the rest of the year. Car rental is cheap. Advantage has cars for $55 per day (including all taxes).

Food options are plentiful. Try the Genghis Mongolian Grill at least one day. It’s a stir-fry chain restaurant but it’s a great value and very tasty.

For more information and photographs, visit www.balloonfiesta.com and www.rainbowryders.com.

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Lerici -- Poets’ Paradise and the Italian’s Italy

By Keely L. Herrick

Every Italian tour includes the greatest hits of Rome, Venice, and Florence, but if you want to vacation in Italy like the Italians do, spend a few days in Lerici on the Bay of Lerici. (Be careful to pronounce it “Lay-ree-chee,” with the emphasis on the first syllable, or the locals won’t know where to direct you!) This postcard-perfect beach village is accessible by bus or taxi from the La Spezia train station and provides access to the more-frequented hills of Porto Venere and the Cinque Terre by ferry several times daily.

The Bay of Lerici is nicknamed Golfo dei Poeti, or Poets’ Gulf, for the first famous English-speaking tourists in the area, Romantic writers Lord Byron and Percy Shelley. A plaque in Porto Venere commemorates the Byron Grotto, where Byron was said to have started his swim across the bay back to Lerici. Sadly, the seas were less kind to Shelley, who drowned in a storm attempting to sail home to Lerici from Genoa. Today, you have your choice of bards -- you may stay in Hotel Shelley or Hotel Byron, among other places.






Take a walk down the serene boardwalk to see Casa Magni, the last home of Shelley and his wife, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. Enjoy your early-morning cappuccino while watching the waves, and for lunch follow your nose down a side street to one of the tiny trattorias offering simple, well-made meals such as squid ink pasta with seafood fresh off the boats in the bay.

As late as October, vacationing Italians can be found on the shores of Lerici, swimming and sunning with their families. It is nearly impossible to reconcile the clear, gentle waters with the tragic storm that claimed Shelley’s life.

The hilltop Lerici Castle is accessible by stairs or elevator, although you may have to wait a minute or two for the call button to rouse the operator -- like everyone else, he is often lost in the view of the bay from the castle walls.

Even Fellini admitted that La Dolce Vita was difficult to find in Rome, but in Lerici, the sweetness of doing nothing flavors the air. You may claim a boardwalk bench for your afternoon gelato and find yourself still sitting there as the sunset quietly dazzles its way below the horizon. At night, leave your window open and let the bells of the boats lull you to sleep. It’s not on the standard itineraries, but Lerici is a tranquil treasure with stories to tell. 

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How to Vacation Like a Movie Star in Mexico

By Connie Werner Reichert

ITWPA Member

It’s easy to vacation like a movie star in Mexico. All you have to do is cross the border from San Diego into Tijuana and drive south for a few miles until you reach Rosarito Beach, an area in Baja/Cal-Mex known for its Puerto Nuevo lobster, glorious coastline and movie stars.

What do Sinatra, Hayworth, Douglas, Peck and Monroe have in common besides the obvious? They all stayed and played at the beautifully-renovated Rosarito Beach Hotel Resort & Spa.

2011 marks the 86th anniversary of the legendary Rosarito Beach Hotel, a haven for the cinematic stars of the golden age of Hollywood. To celebrate such a milestone, they are offering free historical tours of the famous resort throughout the year.  

This is the place that was proudly proclaimed as Frank Sinatra’s favorite bar, and where Rita Hayworth had her steamy love affair with the son of the Shah of Iran (later, they were to marry). And now, this luxurious hotel invites you to be a part of its history and a member of the family. They certainly know the definition of “high-class hospitality.”





The hotel had a humble beginning as a 12-bungalow hunting lodge in 1925. Their star-studded era of the 1940’s and 1950’s included a galaxy of luminaries as guests. Now the Rosarito Beach Hotel has completed its brand new, exquisite, 18-story Pacifico tower.

As part of The Legend, which is more like a hotel-condo, the tower is a montage of the tradition and beauty of Mexico’s past and all the current creature comforts and excitement of Mexico’s future. The suites are beautiful and zen-like, while also being luxurious and very modern. There’s a coffee table in the great room with a sand tray of pebbles to play with, and a full kitchen with stove, fridge, cupboards full of dishes and drawers filled with cutlery. There’s a huge bathroom with a sunken bath tub and separate shower. Plus some of the most comfortable beds and pillows you’ll ever sleep on in the beautiful master bedroom… complete with dramatic lighting. All the suites boast two plasma TVs.




Aside from the many tourists, pop-performer Britney Spears recently spent a few days there, and actor Mickey Rourke (9½ Weeks) decided he liked the atmosphere and surroundings so much he stayed for several days. Movie studios are located just a few miles down the coast, where Russell Crowe starred in Master and Commander, Brendon Frasier was spotlighted in The Eye and Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet demonstrated their on-screen passion in the award-winning film Titanic.

At Rosarito Beach Hotel, their free tour will allow you to learn about the couple who started it all -- businessman Manuel Barbachano and his gorgeous wife, Mexican actress Maria Luisa Chabert. Not only do their descendants still own the hotel, but Chabert’s nephew is actually the Mayor of Rosarito Beach. You’ll be amazed as you look around the beautiful mansion they called home. It’s now the decadent Casa Playa Spa and the elegantly refined Chabert’s Restaurant, known for its “Frenchican” fare, serving up escargot, flaming crepe suzettes, grilled Puerto Nuevo lobster, traditional fluffy Mexican rice and freshly hand-tossed tortillas.




The tour takes you to the beginnings of the hotel through the Pasillo Maya corridor, where you’ll discover unique, ancient art as you go along. From there, you’ll revisit the past as Rosarito Beach Hotel began to grow and expand -- preserving the past while still planning for the future.

Why not travel to Baja and book your suite at the Rosarito Beach Hotel? It’s a memorable journey through Baja’s largest and most historic oceanfront hotel -- and through time, one you’ll always remember. So put on those movie-star sunglasses and scarves and come travel back in time and tradition as you vacation at the exclusive, but not elusive, legendary Rosarito Beach Hotel. See www.rosaritobeachhotel.com.

10 tips on what to bring to Rosarito Beach:

1.     Cash (American money is accepted in Baja)

2.     Casual clothes

3.     A formal outfit with the appropriate shoes

4.     Sandals

5.     Sunscreen

6.     Camera

7.     Always bring a sweater or wrap -- no matter what day of the year it is it might get chilly!

8.     Always bring some shorts -- no matter what day of the year it is it might get warm!

9.     Your partner

10.   A feel-good attitude. Be ready to have some fun!

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Art in the Sun

By Allen Dale Olson

If you could create the Mediterranean village of your choice, you’d create Ceret. Ancient stone houses along cobblestone streets. Roman arches. Plane trees shading the village square and the cafe tables that spill out into it. Only 7,600 inhabitants. Backed up by the eastern slope of the Pyrenees, including the snow-capped Mount Canigou. Fronted seven miles away by the Gulf of Lion, home to France’s sandiest beaches. A ten-minute drive from the border with Spain. A half-hour ride to the nearest airport.

Ceret already exists. And there’s even more to it than those fantasies already identified. Consider the Pablo Bar and its walls lined with sketches Picasso used to pay his bar bills in 1913. The village is filled with mementos of the great artists of the early 20th century who hung out here from time to time -- Braque, Gris, Matisse, and Miro, to name a few. Artists like Dufy and Dubuffet fled to Ceret to escape Nazism in World War II, and Salvadore Dali even popped over for visits from his home just across the border.

By the 1970s, the Ceret Friends of Art Association had gathered a sufficient collection of art left behind by their famous visitors to start a small museum. In 1993 they proudly dedicated a new building they named the Musee d’Art Moderne. After the d’Orsay in Paris, it would be hard to identify a more significant collection of contemporary and 20th-century art. Today it is supported primarily by the private Friends of the Museum Association with backing from corporate sponsors and grants from regional and national arts agencies.

For an admission fee of five euros (free for children), you can wander through the intimate but brightly-lit salons to see original work by Picasso, Dali, Gris, Chagall, Miro, and the locally-born Aristide Maillol along with splendid collections of Catalan painting, pottery, and sculpture.

The museum is closed Tuesdays and opens at 10 a.m. on other days, staying open till 7 p.m. from May 1 to September 30 and till 6 p.m. the rest of the year. It is also closed in November and on January 1, May 1, and December 25.

This fantasy village has six comfortable hotels. Our favorite is Les Arcades, home to the Pablo Bar and delicious snacks. For upscale dining, though still boasting a Catalan flair, we like Les Feuillantes. No matter where you stay in Ceret, you can walk to any place in town. The cordial Tourism Office staff can suggest other accommodations in the mountains or bed and breakfast country lodgings.

Tourism Office

1, avenue Georges Clemenceau

F-66400 Ceret, France

Tel: 04 68 87 00 53


Museum of Modern Art

8, boulevard Marechal Joffre

F-66400 Ceret, France


Hotel Les Arcades 

1, place Picasso

F-66400 Ceret, France

Tel: 04 68 87 12 30


Restaurant Les Feuillantes

1, Boulevard La Fayette

F-66400 Ceret, France


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About June 2011

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