A hundred miles east of Los Angeles lies the desert city of Palm Springs. It has drawn visitors for over a century for its dry heat, laid-back vibe and mountain views. It's a popular retirement destination, a seasonal home for "snowbirds" escaping winter in other parts of North America and an escape from urban life for the residents of Los Angeles.
During the winter months, the city's population triples. This makes February and March a pleasant time to visit although, as in many parts of the world, early 2019 saw more extreme weather than usual! A cold streak and flooding let to highway closures and damage to housing. On the drive from LA to Palm Springs, snow can still be seen on the surrounding mountains.
The landscape during the drive is quite varied, taking you from mountains to desert. Thousands of wind turbines dot the landscape on either side of Highway Ten, just outside Palm Springs. Some are hundreds of feet tall, with wing-spans as long as a football field. They provide a gre...
We are in Barcelona, Spain for a brief visit to fulfill a "bucket list" wish of seeing La Sagrada Familia, the church designed by architect Antoni Gaudi.
Our hotel is located in an old side street just off Las Ramblas, a long pedestrian promenade running from Catalonia Square to the waterfront. For centuries Las Ramblas has been a central point of city life and locals and tourists wander - or ramble might be the best word? - day and night up and down its length.
On each side of Las Ramblas are old theatres, shops and eateries. On the other side from our hotel is the entrance to La Boqueria, an open air public market considered one of the best in the world for its food.
The market stands sell a variety of fresh seafood - raw and cooked - and cured pork products such as chorizo sausage. Most prized (and expensive) of all things pork-related is "JamÛn IbÈrico de Bellota", called by many the finest ham in the world. It is made from free-range black Iberian pigs fed on a diet of acorns, whi...
Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is formed from two cities - Buda and Pest. They are divided by the Danube, Europe's second-longest river. In the mid 19th century the first permanent bridge was built linking the two (although it was sometimes closed depending on weather). In 1873 Buda and Pest officially became Budapest, and now of course there are many ways to get from one side to the other.
Today Pest is busier and more touristed. On the hilly and more sedate Buda side, most international visitors may go to see the Castle or the Gellert Hotel & Baths. Few venture further into the residential area where locals live and shop.
"Taste Hungary" is a company offering walking tours of Budapest to give a taste (literally!) of local life. Their tour of Buda gets underway with a visit to one of the city's historic coffee houses, a family business over 140 years old. (The family did lose ownership during the communist years but were able to regain it later - for a substantial price.)