Apr 30, 2014

A visit to "Old Hollywood" (California, USA)

Hollywood, California is known the world over for the movie industry. The 21st century Hollywood has the 20th century Hollywood to thank for starting the incredible movie industry in Southern California many years ago.

Superstar "MICKEY ROONEY" who passed away this month was the last male star of the "golden age of Hollywood." Mr. Rooney made hundreds of films and his legend will live on for years to come. I'd like to dedicate this post to him.

Once upon a time there was a fabulous movie studio known as Metro, Goldwyn, Mayer (MGM). A lot of amazing films were filmed on the MGM sound stages.  MGM had a lot of major stars too including Mickey Rooney who was the #1 star in the world from the late 1930's until the early 1940's. Spanning a film career that lasted ten decades Mr. Rooney was truly a hollywood legend.

Although "LOS ANGELES" is an ultra hip city with 21st century trends one can still take a trip down memory lane and get a taste of what "HOLLYWOOD" was like in the golden days when stars like Fred Astaire, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Shirley Temple and Lana Turner were household names.

Here's a listing of some places to scout out for a feel of "Old Hollywood"

1. The Hollywood Museum (the former Max Factor Building)
    1660 North Highland Avenue

2.  Griffith Observatory (Griffith Park)
     4730  Crystal Springs Drive

3.  Grauman's Chinese Theater
     6925 Hollywood Blvd

4.  Hollywood Bowl
     2301 North Highland

5.  Million Dollar Theater
     307 Broadway

6.  Formosa Restaurant
     7156 Santa Monica Blvd

7.  Musso & Franks Restaurant
     6667 Hollywood Blvd

8.   Original Old Pantry Cafe
      877 South Figueroa

9.   Pink's Hot Dog Stand
      709 La Brea Avenue

10. Tommy's Original World Famous Hamburgers
      2505 Beverly Blvd

11. Sony Pictures (former MGM Film Studio)
      10202 West Washington Blvd, Culver City

12. Warner Bros Studio
     3400 West Riverside Drive, Burbank

                                               Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney
HOLLYWOOD was quite a place back in the old days and because of the pioneers that founded the film industry we can enjoy HOLLYWOOD films for years to come. A trip to HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA should be on everyone's bucket list.

                          MGM was known as "having more stars than in the heavens"

Apr 24, 2014

A Tribute to Mickey Rooney (Hollywood Superstar)

The one and only "Mickey Rooney"

The passing of Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney really saddened me because I was a huge fan of his. I had the honor of meeting him in person twice and seeing him perform on stage a few times. 

Mickey Rooney made films for HOLLYWOOD for many decades. Join me on my next post as I take a trip down memory lane to the "Golden Age of Hollywood" when Mickey Rooney was the biggest star in the world and when HOLLYWOOD was the place to be.

A trip to HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA is a combination of old and new. 

Apr 20, 2014

Sunday in LOS ANGELES (City of Angels)

Today is Easter Sunday and as I'm enjoying a restful day I can't help but think about my first visit to sunny Los Angeles on a Sunday. I arrived at the beautiful Los Angeles Union Station by Amtrak train and headed straight to Hollywood via the Metro. Yes, Los Angeles actually has a decent public transportation system of buses and a subway system that runs from Downtown Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley. The metro stops right in the heart of Hollywood and that's where I recommend staying when you arrive to the "City of Angels."

Staying in Hollywood is a legend in itself especially if you check into the Orange Drive Hostel at 1764 North Orange Drive. This boutique hostel was once a 1920's manor home that later became a boarding house. Residents of the boarding house before they became famous were Marilyn Monroe, Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth, Kim Hunter and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The Orange Drive Hostel with its old world charm is a great value and it's close to all the Hollywood action. So once you check in and get settled in at the Orange Drive Hostel you can walk a short distance to an affordable supermarket located at 7021 Hollywood Blvd called Fresh & Easy. At Fresh & Easy you can get everything from fresh strawberries to ready made sushi. Stock up on some 
beverages and food at Fresh & Easy and head to the beach.

                     Santa Monica Beach

The beach rules in Los Angeles and that's where the locals and tourists go for sand, sun, and surf. Popular beaches in Los Angeles include Hermosa, Malibu, Manhattan, Santa Monica, Venice, and Zuma Beach. Whether you prefer amusement parks, beach volleyball, dolphin watching, paddle boarding,roller blading, swimming, surfing, or just working on a nice tan, a day at the beach is a must when visiting Los Angeles. 

After hanging out at the beach you can return back to Hollywood and enjoy the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Have your smart phone handy to take photo's of your favorite stars who have been honored with their name displayed inside a big star on the sidewalk. Over at 1521 North Highland Avenue is Hollywood High School where stars like Cher, Judy Garland, and Lana Turner were students. Quite a few films and television shows have been filmed within the walls of Hollywood High School and it's worth taking a peak at this high school's exterior.

                       In-N-Out is awesome!

Dusk is approaching but your first day in the "City of Angels" isn't over until you eat at In-N-Out Burger. With some of the best burgers and fries in the country In-N-Out Burger is a fast food craze in Southern California and for good reason. The Hollywood location is located at 7009 Sunset Blvd. 

So whether you arrive to Los Angeles on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or SUNDAY I hope you have as much fun as I did my first day in sunny Los Angeles.

                     Orange Drive Hostel (my favorite place to stay)

Apr 10, 2014

Singapore (Food Haven)

Singaporean cuisine is a combination of Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian with influences from England, Portugal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. With such an ethnic diversity of dishes to choose from eating in Singapore is a national pastime enjoyed by locals and tourists.

A national favorite dish that can be found at hawker centers, food courts, and upscale restaurants all around Singapore is Char Kway Teow; a mix of noodles, seafood, and vegetables. Below is a recipe you can try wherever you are.

CHAR KWAY TEOW (Singapore Noodle Dish)

2 cups mung bean sprouts (rinsed)
1 pound fresh rice noodles
3 carrots, sliced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup shredded cabbage
4 chilli peppers (seeds removed and chopped very finely)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 pound barbequed pork
7 ounces cooked & peeled shrimp
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
3-5 tablespoons of oil for frying

Mix together the oyster sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar in a small bowl; set aside.
In a large wok heat the oil and fry the beaten eggs over medium heat; add the carrots, onions, chili peppers, and garlic. After everything is cooked remove, set aside and heat some oil in a wok cooking the cabbage, mung bean sprouts, barbecued pork, and shrimp. Add the mixture of oyster sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar along with the rice noodles and allow to cook. Once it's cooked add the previously cooked egg mixture into the wok combining everything together. Place 2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro on top of the dish to enhance the flavor.

Apr 9, 2014

Singing for S I N G A P O R E

I love to sing especially when I think of the unique country of Singapore. This is one country worth singing about.

                                                   Singapore Skyline
Small SINGAPORE (Republic of Singapore) is an island country located in Southeast Asia. It consists of 63 islands including the main island known as Singapore Island. It has one of the busiest ports in the world and is a major commercial hub. With a tropical rainforest climate SINGAPORE can be enjoyed anytime of year.

With a population of 5.3 million those that make Singapore home are very fortunate. Singapore has the world's highest percentage of millionaires with one of out every six households having a million dollars in disposable income. Most residents own property even though property in Singapore is among the most expensive in the world.

S I N G A P O R E is a global city.

S I N G A P O R E has four official languages; English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil.

S I N G A P O R E is the most densely populated country with the exception of Monaco.

S I N G A P O R E has the largest fountain in the world made of cast bronze.

S I N G A P O R E is the stopover for migratory birds traveling the East Asian Flyway.

S I N G A P O R E  has the #1 cost effective public transportation system with the average bus fare only being .65 cents.

S I N G A P O R E has won the "World Airport Reward" ranking it in first place out of 190 airports worldwide.

S I N G A P O R E is the third most popular place to relocate in the world.

S I N G A P O R E ranks first place in quality math and science education.

S I N G A P O R E has the best shopping street in the world known as Orchard Street.

There's lots of attractions to enjoy in Singapore and long time residents have a hard time catching up with all the new and exciting things that continually develop in Singapore.

                                   Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum

S I N G A P O R E   A T T R A C T I O N S

Asian Civilisations Museum
BaBa House
Break Out Games
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum
Cloud Forest Dome
East Coast Park
Esplanade Theaters on the Bay
National Orchid Garden
Parkview Square
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore Flyer
Singapore Zoo
The Helix Bridge

Resort World Sensota is an integrated island resort on an island with two casinos, Maritime Experimental Museum, Marine Life Park, Festive Walk and Universal Studios.

Orchard Road is a shopping haven consisting of endless mega malls. With top name fashions and everything in between Orchard Road is the place to shop.

SINGAPORE "The Lion City" never disappoints. It is the perfect travel destination for business or leisure. Once you discover this unique country you'll be "Singing for Singapore."


Apr 1, 2014

Pierogies from Heaven

PIEROGI'S are dumplings of unleavened dough that are boiled. They can be filled with cheese, potatoes, sauerkraut, fruit, or meat.

My mother who comes from Eastern Europe makes some of the best pierogies in the world. Since the time I was a toddler I was accustomed to eating pierogies made by hand by my mother and grandmothers. I craved them week after week. Now as an adult I make them myself and share them with other pierogi lover's.

Pierogies are an economical meal and they can be prepared with all kinds of fillings like cheese, fruit, ground meat, potatoes, and sauerkraut. Once made they can be frozen and re-heated weeks later but I prefer them fresh out of the boiling pot of water.

Here's my all time favorite recipe for pierogies passed down by my grandmother. This recipe makes about 40 pierogies.


Potato, Cheese, & Onion Filling:

Wash, peel, and cut 6 large potatoes. Boil the potatoes until soft. Drain the potatoes and set aside.Finely cut one large onion & sauté it in melted butter until soft. Mash the potatoes then add the sautéed onions along with 3 ounces of crumbled sharp feta cheese and 3 ounces of grated cheddar cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.


2 cups of flour plus extra for kneading
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup softened unsalted butter

In a large bowl mix flour & salt. Add the beaten egg and softened butter. Work the dough for several minutes until it loses stickiness. Let dough stand about 10 minutes.

Roll dough on a floured countertop or cutting board until it's 1/8 inch thick. Cut the dough into 3 inch circles with a drinking glass. Place a small ball of potato filling (one tablespoon) on each dough round and fold the dough over forming a semi circle. Press the edges together.

Place about 2 cups of cold water in a pot and let it boil. Put 5-6 pierogies at a time into the boiling water. The pierogies are done when they float to the top. Use a large metal spoon strainer to remove one pierogi at a time and place them in a bowl of melted butter (1/2 stick of butter). Chop a large onion and sauté it in butter in a pan.

Place the pierogies on individual plates with sautéed onions and some freshly chopped parsley. A few spoonfuls of sour cream are an added bonus. The sour cream can be placed on top of the pierogies or on the side.

(Leftover pierogies can be re-heated by frying them in melted butter)

Last Stop:Saint Petersburg (Part 3)

RUSSIA'S vastness can be a bit daunting and if you only have a few weeks to spare there's only so much you can see but don't leave RUSSIA without making a last stop to the beautiful and cultural stimulating city of SAINT PETERSBURG.

Surrounding over a hundred islands and filled with canals Saint Petersburg is often referred to as the "Venice of the North." It's a beautiful city with breath-taking architecture that just can't be beat. So make your last stop Saint Petersburg and fill your days with memories that will stay with you for years to come.

On your first day head to the The State Hermitage Museum. With over 3 million works of art you'll see paintings, sculpture, and graphic works. There's also the Winter Palace (the former state residence) of Russian emperors and The Menshikov Palace to visit. The main museum complex is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:30am-6:00pm and Wednesday from 10:30am-9:00pm. The State Hermitage Museum as of this writing is always closed on Mondays.

The following day follow your way to the glistening cupola of St. Isaac's Cathedral. With a dome dominating the skyline of Saint Petersburg you can climb up the 300 steps to the observation walkway at the base of the dome and see spectacular views of the city. The famous St. Isaac's Cathedral was built as the main church of the Russian Empire. It consists of granite columns and is decorated with many icons. Approximately 14,000 worshippers can be accommodated  at St. Isaac's Cathedral.

A good spot to eat near St. Isaac's Cathedral is the Cafe Idiot. This was a favorite restaurant of famous Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky. With an added addition of vegetarian dishes the Cafe Idiot is quite a popular place to eat. Afterwards head to Peter & Paul Fortress. Situated on the Neva River St. Petersburg was founded at this citadel which was built by Peter the Great.

On your third day in Saint Petersburg why not enjoy some ballet, opera or theater productions. The legendary Marlinsky Theater has some of Europe's best talent performing on its stage and this is the place to come for first rate productions.

Marlinsky Theater

Surrounded by water Saint Petersburg is interlaced with a web of canals, channels, and rivers. A boat cruise is an ideal way to capture great vistas of Saint Petersburg's classical architecture. A visit to Saint Petersburg just isn't complete without saving a day for a boat trip or river cruise.

Boat Cruises
Website for boat trips and river cruises (click on Boat Cruises)

One of the best places to stay in Saint Petersburg is The Grand Hotel Europe. It's a luxury hotel with lots of class. Other options are Talean Imperial Hotel, Pushka Inn, Nevsky Inn or the Hostel Luna. It's all a matter of whether you prefer top notch accommodations vs a simple budget hostel.

The outskirts of Saint Petersburg are home to the palaces and estates of former noble residences. Some of the most popular ones to visit are Catherine, Konstantine, Lomonsosov, and Peterhof. Treat yourself to an imperial experience by visiting one or all of the opulent palaces.

                                   Take a tour of one of the "Imperial Palaces"near Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg serves as a grand last stop before departing Russia so make your last stop:

                                          S A I N T    P E T E R S B U R G

Getting by in Saint Petersburg: 

How are you?-Kahk dee lah
My name is-Men-yah zah voot
Please: Shah-loos-tah
Thank You-Spah-see bah
I speak only English-Yah gab-vah ryoo tol' kah pay-ahn glees-kee


Where is: Gdyeh

Where is metro-station? Gdyeh meet-rah stan-tsee yah meet rah

Where is hotel? Gdyeh gahs tee nee tsah

                        A boat trip or river cruise is a top attraction in Saint Petersburg

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