Springtime in London

“You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to
leave London. No sir, when a man is tired of London,
he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can
afford”. Samuel Johnson, 1777

I have been to London probably eight times and never ever tire of it.
It’s a bustling city that has so much to offer the visitor. The Tower
Bridge, the famous Red Telephone Booths, the Black Cabs, museums,
beautiful parks and gardens, shopping, history, the London Theatre,
beautiful buildings, Sherlock Holmes, Scotland Yard, all those
James Bond movies, and of course the Monarchy, which we all love
to follow.

Springtime in London is lovely and May is the perfect time to visit this
wonderful city. The crowds are sparse and airfare usually is reasonable.
So on a beautiful morning in May, my friend Sandy and I landed at
Heathrow Airport in London and jump in a taxi that would take us to
our apartment (flat) as the British would say, for the next week. We
have been pretty lucky to be able to stay in this flat on Sloane Square,
the last several times we have been here.

Sloane Square is a small landscaped square on the boundaries of
Central London, districts of Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Chelsea,
southwest of Charing Cross, in the Royal Borough of Kensington
and Chelsea. The square lies at the east end of the trendy Kings
Road and at the south end of Sloane Street. The square has two
noticeable buildings, Peter Jones Department Store and The Royal
Court Theatre. Sloane Square Underground Tube Station is at the
Southeastern corner, actually almost right next store to our flat.
Sloane Square and it’s surroundings are one of the less crowded areas
of London. It is home to quiet neighborhoods of small mansions
and townhouses. There is even a nursery school in the area that
Princess Diana worked before she married Prince Charles. From
Sloane Square down Kings Road there is tons of boutiques, cafés,
restaurants, Patisserie Paul’s, with the best maroons, or Waterstones
Bookstore, just to name a few. Sloane Street is where the upscale
shops are such as, Gucci, Dior, Armani, Prada, Harvey Nichols, Louis
Vuitton, Versace, and many more. It’s just a great street to window
shop your way to Harrods.

This would be our apartment for the next week. It is so lovely.
It is in a typical townhouse like building on the bottom floor. We have
been lucky enough to have stayed here several times, so it felt like
coming home when we opened the door to this sweet place. The
flat has one bedroom and two full baths. I would sleep on the
pull out couch and have my own private full bath. It worked out
beautifully and besides our week stay here was always a gift to Sandy
and I was just lucky enough to be invited. London is a very expensive
city and this area is pretty upscale, but it has so much to offer and
the stores are pretty great. There is a wonderful store, Partridges,
it’s like an upscale Whole Foods or Trader Joes. It has everything
you could want with a great food section that is chock full of amazing
dishes. We will usually come here to do our shopping for the week.

On Saturday mornings, there is always a market on this square right
outside Patridges that sells everything from produce, sweets, fruit,
fish, you name it they sell it. With over 70 vendors you have your
choice of the freshest of the fresh. It’s fun to walk through the market
and people watch as all the Londoners are doing their shopping.
What is great about staying in this area is that you don’t have to
always eat in restaurants, you can shop for the best quality and
save money at the same time. I love this area.

“London has the trick of making the past, always
a part of its present. And for that reason it will
always have meaning for the future, because of
all it can teach about disaster, survival, and redemption.
It is all there in the streets, it is all there in the books”.
Anna Quindlen

The various and diverse villages of London reflect the full spectrum
of the city’s residents. From exclusive elite establishments to dingy
dives, there is something for every visitor.
Walking the streets of London is a feast for the eyes. Century old
buildings and establishments like this, make London so lovely.
You feel like you have stepped back in time.

Buckingham Palace is the London Residence and principal workplace
of the Monarchy of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of
Westminster, the palace is often the center of state occasions and
royal hospitality. The palace has 830,000 sq ft of floor space . The
Picture Gallery is 55 yards long and has numerous works of art including
Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Rubens and Vermeer. The Guard Room contains
white marble statues of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Bow
Room is where thousands of guests pass through annually to the Queens
Garden parties in the gardens beyond. The Ballroom is the largest
room in the Palace. There are so many more rooms in the Palace,
but this is just a tiny handful of descriptions to give you an idea. I
had the opportunity, many years ago, to go through the palace and it is
stunning. I actually need to do this again sometime. The Palace
State Rooms, have been open to the public during the months of
August and September, since 1993.

The forecourt of Buckingham Palace is used for the Changing
of the Guard
, a major ceremony and tourist attraction daily
during the summer months; every other day in the winter.

The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons
and the House of Lords, which make up the Houses of Parliament.
The Palace of Westminster is a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1987.
The Elizabeth Tower, in particular, which is often referred to by the
name, “Big Ben”, is an iconic landmark of London.

One of the most popular attractions in London these days, is the
London Eye or otherwise known as the Millennium Wheel. It is a
giant Ferris Wheel on the south bank of the River Thames in London.
The entire structure is 443 ft. tall. It is Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel and
is one of only two of the highest public viewing structures in London.
It opened to the public on March 9, 2000 and by June 5, 2008, it was
announced that 30 million people had ridden the London Eye since
it opened. That was in 2008, the numbers probably have doubled
since. Of course riding this giant Ferris wheel is really a delight.
Stepping into the air-conditioned capsule, I noticed that it is actually
larger than you think. We were able to walk around the capsule to
take pictures and I must say the views were spectacular.
It was Sir Richard Rogers, that said:
“The Eye has done for London what the Eiffel Tower did for
Paris, which is to give it a symbol and to let people climb above
the city and look back down on it. Not just specialists or rich people,
but everybody. That’s the beauty of it: it is public and accessible,
and it is in a great position at the heart of London”.


Taking the Train to Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City

Wouldn’t a train trip, in the fall, be perfect to Toronto, Montreal,
and Quebec City ( which I already wrote about)? I had not been
to Montreal since the 70’s and never to Quebec City.
So my friend and I had some productive travel meetings, agreed
on when, where, and how, and our plans began to take shape.
We contacted Bee Kalt Travel, in Royal Oak, Mi., and they put
together a package to these cities, with hotel and transportation.
We would be traveling by train from Windsor, and by choice,
staying at the Fairmont Hotels in all three cities.

We left Windsor by train at 5:30 am on a Wednesday morning for
our seven-day adventure in Canada. With our suitcases tucked
safely away, we took our seats and were off to Toronto.
After a quick and relaxing five-hour train ride, we arrived at Union
Station in Toronto. With luggage in hand, we followed the signs
to the Royal York Hotel, going through Union Station. A couple
of passageways, up two sets of stairs, we were suddenly standing
in the grand lobby of the beautiful Royal York Hotel.

I try to stay here when I visit the city by train. It is very convenient
to the train station, five minutes to the Hockey Hall of Fame, ten
minutes to the CN Tower, and a twenty-minute walk to Eaton Center,
a grand shopping mall on Yonge Street in downtown Toronto. It’s
location is perfect, no cabs, no waiting. You are at your hotel before
you know it.
After checking into our hotel, which we had a standard room with
two queen beds, we decided to walk to Eaton Center down Yonge

Eaton Center is a huge mall with over 330 stores and restaurants, with
an attached office complex. It is Toronto’s top tourist attraction. After
spending a good couple of hours walking, looking and a little shopping,
we decided we were famished. We walked back down Yonge Street
towards our hotel and decided to eat dinner at Houston’s right on
Yonge Street. We had a great dinner, a couple of glasses of wine
and decided it had been a long day. Before going to our room
we went to the hotel lobby bar for a nightcap. Perfect ending to
a perfect day.

Toronto is the most popular city in Canada and is the provincial capital
of Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern
shore of Lake Ontario. The city is consistently rated as one of the
worlds most livable cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the
Mercer Quality of Living Survey. Toronto has so much to offer the
visitor with its shopping, restaurants, harbor, museums, neighborhoods.
and even a castle. Toronto is to Canada, what Chicago is to Illinois, and
New York City is to New York.

We were up very early the next morning for our train to Montreal at
9:09 am. So after a quick breakfast in the hotel and a short walk
across the street to the train station, we boarded exactly on time and
sat back for the five hour train ride to Montreal. Due to the fall
colors, it made the scenery very nice passing through several towns,
industrial areas, and farmland.

Arriving at Central Station, we only had to follow the signs to the
Queen Elizabeth Hotel, located above the station. Down a few long
walkways, up some stairs, or elevator, we again were standing in the
lobby of this beautiful hotel. This hotel is not only conveniently
located in the train station, but is connected to a massive underground
city with thousands of boutiques, stores, restaurants, and cafés.
The hotel has 982 rooms with two grand restaurants and a full lounge
for relaxing with your drink of choice.

Our lovely room overlooked the stunning, Mary Queen of the World
Cathedral, otherwise known as Marie Reine Du Monde, the third
largest church in Montreal. It is a small replica of St. Peter’s in Rome,
built between 1870 and 1894. Not only is it stunning on the outside
but also the inside. It was such a pleasure to look out our window
to this amazing sight amongst the modern tall buildings.

Instead of the statues of the 12 apostles as on the facade of St. Peter’s,
the front of the cathedral is topped by statues of the patron saints
of 13 parishes of Montreal who donated them, including St. John
the Baptist and St. Patrick. All of the statues were sculpted by
Olindo Gratton between 1892 and 1898. On March 28, 2000, the
Cathedral was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

The interior of the Marie Reine Du Monde Cathedral is a copy of
St. Peter’s in Rome, except a 1/3 of the size. The beautiful lush
Baroque architecture, the columns, the thirteen surmounting statues,
the large dome, the decoration of the vault, the Baroque Canopy,
the side chapels, the stained glass ornate details, the art and
statues, make this a must see when in Montreal.

My main purpose in coming to Montreal was to visit the Notre Dame
Basilica. So in the early evening we took a taxi to the old part of
the city to see a light show in the Basilica called, “Then There Was Light”.
At first glance as you enter the church, you first notice the ceiling
with bold and striking colors, deep blue with gold stars on the ceiling.
The rest of the sanctuary is in bright blue, reds, purples, silver and
gold. There are beautiful stained glass windows imported from
Limoges, France, to depict the religious history of Montreal, instead
of biblical stories. There is also a grand organ with 7,000 pipes
and four keyboards that has the most glorious sound.
There were sheets covering the altar and some of the walls for the
light show, so at first we were not able to get the full impact of this
amazing sight. The light show tells the story of the Basilica and its
history. After a 30 minute, somewhat interesting show, the sheets
fall back and that is when you are spellbound.

The beauty of the altar is indescribable. I can only say, that I have never
experience this kind of beauty, that actually leaves you speechless.
Now I understand why they say, the Basilica of Notre Dame, is to
Montreal what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.
Can you only imagine Celine Dion, in 1994, walking down the aisle to marry
Rene Angelil, in this beautiful Basilica.

The beautiful stained glass windows imported from Limoges, France.

James O’Donnell, an Irish American Protestant architect, was hired to
build the Basilica in 1824 and finished in 1829. He loved his work
so much on the Basilica, that on his deathbed he converted to
Catholicism, just so he could be buried in the crypt.

Montreal is one of the most beautiful, well-preserved vibrant “old
towns”, this side of Europe. It is a key component in what makes
Montreal a “truly different North American city”. Montreal is safe,
cultural, cosmopolitan and proud of its french legacy, especially it’s
language. It is the second largest city in Canada.
The old Montreal is right outside the Basilica of Notre Dame. It’s a
delight to walk the cobblestone streets of the area, amongst historic
buildings, restaurants, shops, museums, and galleries. It oozes
French charm. It’s like a miniature Paris.

The next day we went on a Viator City Sightseeing tour that took us all
over Montreal with a knowledgeable guide to show us all the highlights
of this beautiful city. The tour took us to Old Montreal, Notre Dame
Basilica, St. Joseph Oratory, of the worlds most visited shrines.
The Basilica’s huge dome reaches 320 ft and is second in height to
St. Peter’s in Rome. This Basilica stand atop Mt Royal, a scenic lookout
which offers a striking view of the city and River. Other highlights
included, City Hall, Bonsecours Market, Place Jacques Cartier, Place
Ville Marie, Chinatown, Olympia Park, built for the 1976 Summer
Olympic Games, and many more.
It was a full day of major sightseeing and would recommend this
tour if you come to Montreal.

The next day was spent in the underground city, shopping and
enjoying all that it had to offer. I must say, I loved Montreal.
I saw all that I wanted to see and was so impressed with what this
City has to offer. The hotel was superb and the service was

The storefronts, the desserts, the horsedrawn carriages. A few more
enticing draws to this city.

Tomorrow it is on to Quebec City. Please see my post of June 25, 2014.

Quebec City in the Fall

One place that was always high on my bucket list was Quebec City.
I had always seen pictures of Quebec and thought it looked like
the ideal European city that was the closest to Paris, without having
to spend a small fortune on an airline ticket, and yet was a train
ride from home.

So a Fall trip was planned by train from Windsor, with a night in
Toronto, a train ride to Montreal for three nights and then on to
Quebec City for a four night stay at the fabulous Chateau Frontenac.
It is a grand hotel in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, which is operated
by the Fairmont Hotels. In 1980, it was designated a National Historic
Site of Canada.

The hotel is generally considered the most photograph hotel in the
world, largely due to its position in the skyline of Quebec. Although
several of Quebec City’s buildings are taller, the landmark hotel is
perched atop a tall cape overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, with
a spectacular view for several miles. The hotel has 611 guest rooms
and suites with three restaurant to satisfy anyone’s palate.

The hotel was opened in 1893 and has been host to many Presidents,
Winston Churchill and in 1944, the Chateau became the action center
for the Quebec Conferences of World War 11. In 1953, it was used
as a setting for an Alfred Hitchcock film, “Confess”, featuring Anne
Baxter and Montgomery Cliff. It is also featured as one of the main
locations in Rick Riordan’s book, “The Lost Hero”.
After checking into the hotel and dropping our bags off in our lovely
room, we hit the streets to see what the city had to offer, and wow,
we were not disappointed.

The crown jewel of French Canada, Quebec City, is one of North
America’s oldest and most magnificent settlements. It’s picturesque
old town is a living walking museum of narrow cobblestone streets,
17th and 18th century houses and soaring church spires, with the
splendid Chateau Frontenac towering above it. It’s like walking
around Europe with its classic bistros, sidewalk cafés, and manicured
squares. For an American it is France, without jet lag.

Walking the cobblestone streets of this city was a feast for the eyes.
The brilliant fall colors of the trees against the backdrop of the city
was unbelievable. The artist’s with their paintings on display in
the squares, the cafés busy with customers, the little streets with
many vendors selling a variety of their goods and a constant glimpse
of the St Lawrence River was perfection. Walking around upper
town to Montmorency Park with its fall foliage and Halloween
decorations was certainly one of the many highlights of this trip.

The city was certainly ready to celebrate the coming Halloween holiday.
Everywhere you turned, the city was beautifully decorated to celebrate
this day. I have seen many cities as this time of the year, but never
have been so impressed with how much work and thought went into
this holiday. This time of year is a great time to visit due to it is
considered off-season, crowds are sparse, and prices are lower.

The main focus of a visit is Old Town, split between the Haute Ville
(upper town) perched above the St Lawrence River, and Basse Ville
(lower town) where Samuel de Champlain established the first of the
French settlements in 1608. The old town is packed with museums,
century old houses and cobblestone streets.
A funicular ascends the very very steep hill from lower old city to the
upper old city for $2.25 Canadian. A variety of boutiques, cafés,
bistros and beautiful old houses, dominate this area of Quartier
Petit-Champlain. Also Vieux-Quebec has the same to offer anytime
of the day. This is a great walking city. Every street, every corner
has something to offer everyone. Horse drawn carriages carry
visitors along the streets from upper town to lower town.

Visitors to old Quebec’s Place Royale can’t miss the immense Fresque
des Québécois. The mural recounts the story of Quebec City, placing
unique architecture and larger than life personalities. If you look
closely at the building’s windows you will see some 15 historic figures
and nearly a dozen of Quebec’s leading writers and artist. It is truly
a breathtaking scene.

Another mural on the walls of the buildings. Notice the rich colors in
this modern-day times along the Terrasse Dufferin.

There are many great restaurants in Quebec but this was one of my
favorites, Aux Anciens Canadiens, housed in the historic Jacquet House,
which dates back to 1676. It specializes in robust country cooking
and typical Quebec specialities. It is quaint and homey and the food
is exceptionally good. We ate here two nights in a row.

This was another good restaurant we ate at, Au Petit Coin Breton,
located in old Quebec. It was a creperie that was very unique.
The place was styled in an old fashion decor and the crepes were
light and yummy. It was perfect for a light dinner with, of course, a
dessert crepe, vanilla ice cream with maple butter. Yum.

If you have the time take a city sightseeing tour. Because we were
there more than a couple of days, we decided one afternoon to take
a Viator city tour that took us through the highlights of the city.
We wanted to soak up the French charm of Old Quebec and be
enchanted by the old world atmosphere and stunning beauty of
sites such as Place Royal, the Plains of Abraham and Place d’Armes.
During the two-hour tour, you will be shown numerous historical
treasures on the banks of the St Lawrence River, giving you a great
overview of the city.

The adorable small restaurant in the train station in Quebec City.

After a wonderful four nights at the Chateau Frontenac Hotel and
walking the cobblestone streets, in and out of little churches, and
views to die for, I was sorry to leave this city. It was everything I
had hoped it would be and more. I know I will return soon, and
wouldn’t Christmas in Quebec be perfect.

The Detroit Zoo

The first thing you need to know is that the Detroit Zoo is not in
Detroit, it's in Royal Oak, about 2 miles outside of the Detroit city
limits. It's located at the intersection of Woodward Avenue, 10
mile and Interstate 696. It officially opened on August 1, 1928,
and is on the US National Register of Historic Places.
I had not been to the Zoo in many years and decided to check it

The grounds are quite lovely. This pretty Lily Pond that
surrounds this walkway, was so pretty. What is it about
Lily Ponds that are so tranquil looking. Maybe it’s that
it reminds me of a Monet painting, or perhaps strolling
through his gardens in Giverny. Whatever it is, I could
just stand here and look at this all day.

The Butterfly House at the Detroit Zoo is quite lovely. It has
hundreds of free-flying butterflies representing 70 species.

You don’t see butterflies as much as we did years ago, it was really
fun to stand amongst them while they are flying around you.

The Article Ring of Life is North America’s largest poplar bear exhibit,
which also houses article foxes and seals. It is a 70 foot long clear
tunnel that winds through a vast underwater marine setting. This
12 foot wide, 8 foot tall tunnel takes visitors underneath diving
and swimming polar bears and seals.

Visitors feel like they have arrived in an ice world, passing through
a frigid ice cave and finally entering the Exploration Station with
additional indoor viewing. This Arctic Ring of Life was named the
number two Best Zoo Exhibit in the U.S. by Intrepid Traveler’s guide
to “America’s Best Zoos”.

The Detroit Zoo’s herd of Zebras include female, Zoe, born in 2002,
and female Elvira, a resident since 1993. The male Zebra is ZZ, he
arrived in 2003. Elvira is the leader and Zoe is a follower. They both
stay away from ZZ, as he is to aggressive, they say. A few facts:
All Zebras are uniquely stripped. No two Zebras have the same
strips. The Grevy Zebra is not related to the horse, but to the Donkey.
The Detroit Zoo is home to three Giraffes, a 4-year-old male. Jabari,
and two females, Chardo, 27, and Kivuli, 3. Facts: No two Giraffes
have the same spotted coats, but may have similar. They weigh
1750 to 2800 pounds. A Giraffe’s neck can weight 600 pounds itself.
Height can be 14 to 16 feet. The Detroit Zoo has a program called
Giraffe Encounter, the program started in 2007 and up to 50 people
can feed them at a time. You must buy a ticket for this at the ticket
counter, with a timed reservation. I must say, this was the most
exciting part of my visit to the zoo, the Zebras and Giraffes were
so beautiful. It makes me think I would love to go on an African
Safari someday.


Science on a Sphere is a global display system that uses computers
and video projectors to display planetary data onto a 6 foot diameter
sphere, which projects it to a giant animated globe. It allows us
to easily view and interpret global phenomena and is a great teaching
tool to educate audiences on environmental issues that impact our
lives. The Detroit Zoo is only the second zoo in the country to install
the system as a permanent attraction. It was actually, a very good
and interesting display, which gives the visitor a broader knowledge
of how important our environment is to our well-being.

The Detroit Zoo’s Penguinarium, which opened in 1968, was the first
of its kind in North America designed specifically for penguins. It is a
three-sided habitat that is surrounded by a continuous pool which
allows the penguins to swim fast enough to fly through the water, as
frequently seen in the wild. The amazing thing here, is that they have
started to break ground on a $29.5M new penguin center. The outside
of the center will have an iceberg like look. The interior will include
effects such as arctic blasts, waves and snow. It will include a penguin
deep dive with views from above and below a 326,000 gallon, 25 foot
deep tank. It will be home to 80 penguins of four species.

I so enjoyed my day at the zoo and was very impressed with not only
the grounds, but the animals and their displays.

Greenfield Village Museum

It was Henry Ford that said, “I am collecting the history of our
people as written into their hands, made and used. When we
are through, we shall have produced America’s life as lived,
and that, I think is the best way of preserving, at least a part
of our history and tradition”.

Another favorite of mine in Michigan, is the Henry Ford Museum.
I had the opportunity to go for the first time in several years and
so enjoyed it. They still have some of my favorite exhibits, along with
several new ones. The museum was built-in 1929 and located at
20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn, Mi.20140618-163852-59932861.jpg
The Henry Ford Museum began as Henry Ford’s personal collection
of historic objects, which he began collecting in 1906. Today the
twelve acre site is a collection of antique machinery, pop culture
items, automobiles, locomotives, aircraft, and many other items.
The museum also has a large IMAX Theater which features films
of all types.20140618-165518-60918521.jpg
The museum is filled with vintage Model T’s, including a 1896 Ford

An Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

The bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, leading
to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The 1961 Lincoln Continental, SS-100-X, that President John F. Kennedy
was riding in when he was assassinated on November 22, 1963.
Other limousines in the exhibit is, The Ronald Reagan Limousine,
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bubble Top and Franklin Roosevelt’s,
Sunshine Special.


The Driving America, is a fun exhibit that features some of the
original signs highlighting some of America’s favorite pastimes.
The McDonald sign I remember, oh so well, as it was at the Madison
Heights, Michigan location that was near my house and where we, as
young teenagers, would hang out. Ahh memories. It was donated
to the Henry Ford Museum in 1986.
The portion of the original Holiday Inn Sign.

A replica of a Texaco Station from the 1960’s, complete with the interior
duplicated as it would have been in those days.

President Abraham Lincoln was sitting in this rocking chair during the
performance of Our American Cousin at Fords Theatre, when he was
assassinated on April 14, 1865.

I walked around this museum really struck by the historic treasures
that The Henry Ford Museum has collected through the years.
You might think these should be in the Smithsonian’s Institution,
but this wonderful museum, in Dearborn, Michigan, proudly has
obtained them and proudly displays them.

Driving America Sign outside a theatre in the museum. The two
different types of lodging that really no longer exist, taken over by
the newer, more modern hotels of today. The Buckminster Fuller’s
prototype Dymaxion House, developed in the 1940s, this prototype
is a round structure with innovative features, including revolving
dresser draws.

This was one of my favorites. Who doesn’t love a Diner. This is
Lamy’s Diner from the 1940s in Malborough, Massachusetts. A 40
seat diner that was opened from morning till after midnight. In the late
1950s, the diners were being taken over by larger establishments.
In 1984, The Henry Ford Museum purchased the diner and in 1987
it opened to the public. This immaculate nostalgic diner now serves
light lunches in the museum.


A 1917 Overlander made in Toledo, Ohio, the second largest selling
car with an electric starter at a cost of $660.00. When the Model T
came out at $350.00, the average worker was much able to afford
the Model T, and sales declined for the Overlander, eventually stopping
production on this car.

This museum has so much to offer everyone, no matter what age
group you are in. Visitors from all over come to The Henry Ford
Museum, along with the village, (I will write about the Village soon) to
share in the historic memories and walk the streets of yesteryear.

The kitchens of yesterday,

Women Who Rock Exhibit

An enormous guitar stands outside The Women Who Rock exhibit.

I just recently had the opportunity to go see the traveling exhibit,
Women Who Rock, Vision, Passion and Power, at the Henry Ford
Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. It is presented by the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame to honor women who have greatly contributed to the
world of Rock. It is a provocative exhibit, illustrating the important
rolls women have played in this strongly male dominated world
of Rock and Roll. The exhibit highlights the first, the best, the
celebrated, and even the lesser known women, who moved Rock
and Roll music and American culture forward.

The piano that was in the home of Lady Gaga during her early childhood.
Left: The dress worn by Leslie Gore when she sang “It’s my Party” 1963
Right: The dress worn by the group,The Shirelles, when they sang
“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”. 1964

The exhibit walks the visitor through the days of Rock and Roll starting
in the 1950s with Billie Holiday, an American Jazz singer, whose life
was portrayed in the movie, Lady Sings the Blues. Her still famous
classics, “Too Marvelous for Words”, “My Man”, and “God Bless the
Child” amongst many others. Also it pays tribute to Bessie Smith,
an American Blues Singer, who was popular in the 20’s and 30’s.
These women, including Ella Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, and Nina
Simone, amongst many others, paved the road to the female singers
of today.

Brenda Lee’s dress she wore on the Ed Sullivan in 1962.
She was a 4ft 11in, powerhouse talent, who started in gospel at an
very early age, then sang her way to Country and Rock and Roll.
Her hits were many from, “All Alone Am I”, “Break It To Me Gently” and
“I’m Sorry”, amongst many classic Christmas songs including
“Rocking Around The Christmas Tree”.

The Supremes. Mary Wilson wore the short dress to the left on the
cover of the album , Diana Ross and The Supremes sing “Funny Girl”
in 1968. Middle: Mary Wilson’s dress she wore on The Ed Sullivan
Show, “Tribute to Irving Berlin” in 1968. Right: Darlene Love wore
the red dress on The Ed Sullivan Show, “Tribute to Irving Berlin” in

Who can forget this outfit worn by Cher in 1973 for her Album Half-
Breed. Right: Siouxsie Sioux wore this fur hat and coat. “Streets on
Fire”. 1987. She was a British singer, popular in the 70’s and 80’s.
She sang with a group the Banshees.

Madonna from her “Blonde Ambition” tour in 1990. The gold
Bustier was designed by Paul Gauthier. Left: Madonna wore this
black tuxedo in the “Girlie Tour” in 1993.

Left: Janet Jackson wore this short jacket in the video, Rhythm Nation
1814 Tour Video winning in 1990 for MTV Best album.
Right: Lady Gaga wore this Armani in 2010 for “Poker Face”,
Winning the Best Record and Dance Album.

Left: Carrie Underwood wore this Roberto Cavalli white dress in
2009 at the Country Music Awards, winning “Entertainer of the Year”.
Right: Taylor Swift gold dress for Crossroads in 2009. Also this was
her first guitar her parent bought her when she was 12 years old.
The guitar cost $350.00.

The dress was worn by Aretha Franklin in 1974 at A Radio Music
Hall concert. The Hat was worn on January 20, 2009, for President
Obama’s inauguration. The hat was designed by Luke Song.

The exhibit has over 250 items from clothing, music sheets, props,
and many other interesting memorabilia for the Rock enthusiasts.
The exhibit will be shown from May 17, 2014 through August 17, 2014.
There were several more displays including, Loretta Lynn, Tina Turner,
The Ronettes, Donna Summer, and many more,
I would encourage anyone to see this well put together exhibit
celebrating, Women In Rock.

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday”
Berthold Auberbach

Hitsville, USA – Motown

There are two things Detroit is known for, the Auto Industry,
and the music of Motown.

Motown was started in the early 1960’s by Berry Gordy, a
young auto plant worker, who developed a love for music and
had a dream of writing and producing a special sound. With
his vision, and a loan of $800.00 from his family, Berry
Gordy started the Motown sound, and the rest is history.

In 1959 Berry Gordy purchased this former photography studio
at 2648 W. Grand Blvd in Detroit, Mi., and nicknamed it
Hitsville, USA. The music produced in this small studio,
opened 24 hours a day, would produce a sound that would
change a racially divided country and segregated society
and touch people of all ages and races.

It was Smoky Robinson that said it best. “Into the 60’s,
I was still not of a frame of mind that we were not only
making music, we were making history. But I did recognize
the impact because acts were going all over the world at
that time. I recognized the bridge that we crossed, the
racial problems and the barriers that we broke down with
music. I recognized that, because I lived it. I would
come to the South in the early days of Motown and the
audiences would be segregated. then they started to get
The Motown music and we would go back and the audiences
were integrated and the kids were dancing together and
holding hands”.

Hitsville, USA would become home to the most popular
recording acts in the world, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder,
The Temptations, The Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the
Miracles, The Four Tops, The Contours, The Spinners,
The Marvelettes, and many more. Detroit was already
on its way to producing great sounds when Motown came
on the scene, making Detroit a powerhouse of great
music. Many of these performers, including Aretha
Franklin have been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall.

It is a joy to tour this museum. Every year there are
tens of thousands of visitors that came to Hitsville,
USA. The museum was founded by Esther Gordy Edwards in
1985, displaying an extensive array of Motown artifacts,
photographs and other memorabilia. It also gives the
visitor an opportunity to stand in Studio A where their
favorite artist and groups recorded our much-loved music.
Also on display is the upper flat where Berry Gordy lived
with his wife and young child during the early years.

I was in my early years of high school when the Motown
sound hit the airwaves. I immediately fell in love with
the music like all of us. The lyrics, the beat, the sound,
I was intoxicated with this new music. I can remember
rushing home from school to watch American Bandstand and
then playing my records over and over. I memorized every
word of the songs, especially the Supremes, which at some
point in time, I actually thought I was Diana Ross. I can
remember going to the Michigan State Fair and watching
The Supremes perform in their very early days. I can
even remember what they wore, a two piece black and white

This music changed the course of history and I am so
proud that this former Detroiter, who had a vision,
started this life changing phenomena. Thank you,
Mr. Berry Gordy.

“Music is the universal language of the universe”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Mackinaw Island, Michigan

My favorite destination in Michigan is by far, Mackinaw Island.
I have been countless times and never ever tire of it. It’s
a bit of everything, beautiful, tranquil, touristy, scenic, I could
go on and on. So on September 8, 2013, my friend and I packed
the car and was off to Mackinaw Island for a two night stay.
With a quick breakfast stop at a Bob Evans restaurant, we
arrived in Mackinaw City, almost six hours later to a beautiful
crystal clear day. We parked our car in the secured lot of
Shepler’s Ferry, bought our tickets for parking the two nights
and the ferry ride to the island, and almost immediately
boarded the ferry for the 16 minute ride to the island.

The approach to the island always puts a smile on my face.
It’s so beautiful and unique, that I sometimes forget that this
wonderful island is so close to home.

In our traditional style, we jump immediately into the pleasures of
The islands Main Street, going in our favorite shops. No need to
worry about our luggage, you check it in when you board the
ferry and they deliver it to your hotel by bicycle.

I always stay at the Harbor View Hotel. A charming inn that was
once called Chateau LaFramboise, owned by Madame Magdelain
LaFramboise, a successful fur trader in 1822. She would retire
to the island and built the Chateau, that we now know as the
Harbor View Inn.

The Inn has three buildings, including the main Chateau. It is said,
it is one of the best places to stay on the island. The rooms are quite
large, decorated in a mixture of French, Victorian, and a Shabby Chic.
The rooms are spotless and the hospitality is superb.

The view from our room was great. We were able to overlook
the small Lighthouse and a portion of the Harbor.

The harbor of Mackinaw Island is lovely. A portion of it is open to
the public and a portion is private.

The Mackinaw Island Yacht Clubhouse. There are over 300
members, many of whom are residents of the island. Notice
the immaculate groomed landscaping.

One of our absolute must when coming to the island, is to have
lunch at the Iroquois Hotel in the Carriage House restaurant.
The lovely glassed in dining room is overlooking a beautiful
garden patio, that runs down to the edge of the water.
In our tradition, after lunch, we ordered a Grasshopper drink.
It is one of the best I have ever had. It is a mixture of dessert
and drink. I have never had one that matches this. Mmmm
I like! I am not really a drinker, but I do look forward to this treat
when coming to the island.

In walking the little streets of the island, I think, what is different
today than other times I have visited? It finally dawns on me that
today the colors are the most brilliant and vibrant I have ever seen
on the island. I have been so many times and always thought
it was beautiful, but today was exceptional. Was it my imagination,
was it the Grasshopper making me tipsy, or was it for real.
I say it was the real deal. The color of the flowers, the bluest
blue of sky, and the trees with their stark colored flowers, was

This is the lovely Metivier Inn on the island. It is a charming
welcoming place to stay. The rooms are decorated in a homey
feel of colorful prints and absolutely spotless. One of these
times I would like to stay here. The landscaping is always

See how vibrant the colors are in the grass, trees and flowers.

A pretty street with blossoming trees. The island has no motorized
vehicles, except for emergencies. The only way to get around is
by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage. This is what makes the
island so unique.

The Little Stone Church is a beautiful small church that is made
of local field stone dating back to 1904. It is a popular setting
for many weddings. The church seats 200 people and has
exceptional stained glass windows. I feel like I am in the English
Countryside whenever I visit this church.

The Grand Hotel is a spectacular setting with a 660 ft front
porch. The yellow gold awnings that compliments the stark white
exterior is beautiful. The hotel has more than 2,500 red geraniums,
making it the hotels trademark. There are 260 flower boxes adding
to the colorful facade.

The hotel opened in 1887 for a rate of $3 to $5.00 a night. In 1890
the grand porch was added, making it the longest porch in the
world. In 1897 the West Wing was added. In 1989 the East Wing
was added, and in 2001 the Millennium Wing opened on the east
side of the hotel. In 1919 the rates would go up to $6.00 a night.

In 1947, a movie was filmed on the island and at the Grand Hotel,
This Time is for Keeps, with Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams.
In 1980 the film, Somewhere in Time, with Christopher Reeves and
Jane Seymour was filmed here. Every October, it hosts a festival
celebrating this movie. It is also home for the Detroit Regional
Chamber of Commerce Conference, attracting politicians, labor
leaders and businessmen.
It is a historic hotel that has hosted 5 U.S. presidents, the Russian
Prime Minister and President, Mark Twain and Thomas Edison.
It is on Conde Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure Magazine’s Gold
List as “One of the Best Places to Stay”. Also, Gourmet Magazine
lists it as “The Top 25 places in the World”. In 1972 it was registered
on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1989 it became a
National Historic Landmark. This is truly a Michigan treasure.


This is the Island House, another great hotel with a good restaurant.
We rented bicycles and rode the 8 mile perimeter around the island.
It was early morning the next day and the streets were almost empty,
making this a peaceful and scenic ride. Passing many trails and paths,
along with gorgeous views of the water and eventually the Mackinaw
Island Bridge, makes this a must when visiting the island.

Let’s talk food. A favorite of ours is Woods Restaurant, owned
by the Grand Hotel. Located a short horse-drawn carriage ride into
the wooded interior of the island, makes this a very unique experience.
The opulent Tudor mansion with Bavarian charm provides a casual
dining experience.

A venison dish made to perfection. Their menu is a little limited,
but the food is excellent.

Is this Creme brûlée? Am I in Paris? No, but good anyways.

Another delightful restaurant on the island is Mary’s Bistro.
They specialize in wood grilled and spitfire entrees. It is at the
end of the Main Street and sits right on the water. We were
lucky enough to get a picture perfect table overlooking the

There are almost 500 residents that live on the island year round.
Their only mode of transportation are snowmobiles, allowed in the
winter months when the island is pretty much empty. There are
a handful of stores that stay open during this time for the residents.

The little post office that serves the island.

All of Mackinaw Island became a National Historic Landmark in
October, 1960.

There are so many more places I would love to tell you about
regarding this island. They are just too numerous. All I can
say is that, this is a very special place, that I am so proud to have
in my State. Kathy Lee Gifford, The Today Show, visited here
several years ago and said it is one of the most beautiful places
she has ever seen and would love to live here. Even showing a
short video of the island. How cool is that.

Charleston, South Carolina

“I’m going back to dignity and grace. I’m going
back to Charleston” Rhett Butler, Gone with the Wind 1939

Charleston is one of the prettiest cities in the South,
if not, in all of the United States, at least that is
my opinion. The City has received many accolades
including “Americas most friendly city” by Travel
and Leisure magazine and also Conde Nast Traveler
magazine. Southern Living magazine says “the most
polite and hospitable city in America”.20140609-225502-82502106.jpg
The Gardens of Charleston are beautifully manicured with statues
and flowers adorning many.



The hidden courtyards are so special. A lot of the garden areas
are like this, peeking out of areas you would not expect.




So many beautiful flowers in bloom throughout the city

Just look at the beautiful flower boxes adorning the homes





Strolling down the streets, makes you think you have stepped back
in time, maybe I am on a movie set. It’s so unique that sometimes
you wonder, is this really real.


There are countless blooming trees that compliment the backdrop
of the homes


So many of these homes are behind beautiful wrought iron fences
like this


The lovely gates that are so plentiful in this city.

Now how would you like to have that in your driveway

One of my favorite places is the Historic Charleston Market. Steep
in history and charm, it is a popular destination for those of us
visiting the city. I remember many years ago buying a blue and
white afghan, decorated with the historic homes of Charleston.
It is one of my favorites.

Outside the Market and along the streets, you can always find
vendors selling their handmade sweet grass baskets. They are

There are many Parks scattered throughout Charleston, many have
beautiful fountains such as this. Palmetto Fountain, Battery Park.

A statue stands tall of George Washington in Washington Square
Park, Charleston’s first public park. George Washington first visited
this city in 1791 and was honored in grand fashion with a parade
and other festive activities. Notice the replica of the Washington
Monument behind his statue

Charleston is one of those rare places where you can enjoy the
beaches (they have three of them) and still stroll through a historic
downtown area.

A walkway along the pier and across the street from Battery Park.

For four nights, I was able to call the Andrew Pinckney Inn home.
It’s a 41 room elegant but causal hotel. If you are looking for a
unique hotel with historic charm, this is the one. It’s a boutique
style inn with gracious hospitality and undeniable charm, located
in the Charleston Historical District. It’s a short walk to the scores
of retail shops and street vendors selling their handcrafted
jewelry, art and the lovely Sweet Grass Baskets. There are also
numerous restaurants surrounding the area with the best
seafood around.

The presentation and taste was superb.

Charleston is the oldest and second largest city in the Southeast
State of South Carolina. Known for its rich history, well
preserved architecture, distinguished restaurants and mannerly
people, it continues to attract hundreds of visitors daily.
It is like stepping back in time, perhaps reliving the many movies
that have been filmed here, The Notebook, The Patriot, The Jackal,
The Prince of Tides, or just remembering the history of the
Civil War days. Whatever the reason, you will always remember
and long to return.

Petoskey, Michigan

One of my favorite cities in Michigan is Petoskey. It
is a part of lower northern Michigan, on the northwest
shore of Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan. It is
about 267 miles from Detroit and a very popular
destination with a list of many things to see and do
around the area, such as golfing, camping, boating,
wineries, shopping, and great restaurants, just to
name a few. It also has Petoskey State Park nearby
and is close to Bar Harbor, Traverse City, Mackinaw
City and Charlevoix.

It has a lovely downtown area, Gaslight District, where
all the stores, restaurants, and artist boutiques are.
It’s a charming place to spend several hours just enjoying
the area with Lake Michigan in sight.

One of my favorite lunch spots in town is Jespersons.
It is a 110 years old, a place where Ernest Hemingway
would often eat, earning him his own stool at the counter.
It is a plain, but unique place, that satisfies your palette
with its homemade food. It specializes in chicken pot pies,
meatloaf and homemade fruit pies. I usually will grab a
sandwich and a piece of pie with a scoop of ice cream.
Their food is always good and it’s a must when you are
in the city.

One of the hotels I stay at in Petoskey is, The Apple Tree
Inn. It’s a large yellow painted hotel that is reasonably
priced and always meets my satisfaction. The rooms are
clean and spacious and has a pool and complete fitness

Less than two miles from the downtown area is a village
called Bay View. It is filled with Victorian homes dating
back to the 1800’s. It is a very prestigious area known
for its history of who’s who that lives there. It became
very popular in 1873, when a Grand Rapids newspaper proclaimed
The Petoskey area “Land of a Million Dollar Sunset”. In
1874 it was a regular stop on the rail system for city folks
to escape the noise and smog of the big cities.

Ernest Hemingway spent his childhood summers in this area,
in nearby Walloon Lake, making this area the settings for
his Nick Adams stories.

A wonderful charming inn in this area is Stafford Bayview
Inn. Built in 1886, it is like stepping back in time as
you enter the lobby. It is decorated in a Victorian style
with charming furniture to enhance this feeling. It has
a wonderful enclosed sunroom that is made comfortable with
it’s wicker and Victorian mixture. It is an elegant and
charming inn with a wonderful view of the gardens and Lake
Michigan. The rooms are decorated with that same decor and
is void of TV or Phone, which enhances this tranquil stay.

The Roselawn Dining Room at the inn is divine. The food
is great and the lovely setting overlooking Lake Michigan
is perfection. You must treat yourself to this experience
at least once.

Another favorite of mine when I am in this area, is to
drive the famed scenic route M119, along the lake passing
beautiful homes and vast forest like areas. You will
eventually drive through a tunnel of trees, which is formed
exactly as its name. It is very unique. You will eventually
reach Cross Village, a tiny town with a very well-known
restaurant, Legs Inn. It is a mixture of polish meets
Indian, with heavy wood carvings scattered throughout the
rooms. It specializes in Polish food with waiters actually
here from Poland to work the summers. The food is great.
I will usually get the polish combination plate with a variety
of polish favorites.
The garden area in the back is breathtaking. It’s on a bluff
overlooking Lake Michigan. The Detroit Free Press rates
Legs Inn as one of the 14 best restaurants in Michigan.
It has been written up in the Chicago Tribune Travel
section “Legs Inn in Cross Village is a must”. It is
also known for a place of beautiful sunsets. It’s on a bluff
casual place that can get very crowded. If you time your
visit right, you can get right in, if not, you can sit with
a drink in hand in the garden area, looking out into Lake
Michigan and know that this is a special place.