Jun 27, 2018

Vacationing in Maine in Joyful June!

Rogers and Hammersteins song 
from Carousel is a joyful song about JUNE. 
Ironically the 1950's musical "CAROUSEL" starring
Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae was filled on location
in Boothbay Harbor and Camden, Maine.

The 1950's musical "CAROUSEL" was filled in Boothbay Harbor and Camden, MAINE

There's something special about the month of June in New England. Nature is in full bloom;the trees are verdant, flowers are colorful, the skies are blue, the days are warm and long, and the children are off from school. Soon it's vacation time and those seeking an idyllic getaway couldn't pick a more beautiful place to be than MAINE. Quaint fishing towns, peaceful harbors, rocky beaches,winding country roads, clapboard houses, lobster shacks, historic lighthouses, and farms with belted galloway cows are just some of the things that await you in the "Pine Tree State." Maine is located in the easternmost part of the United States with close proximity to Canada. 

Whether you want to visit Acadia National Park, hike the mountains, swim in the Atlantic, shop the outlets, explore a major city, or ride a carousel chances are you'll find what you're looking for in Maine. From campgrounds to bed and breakfast to five star hotels there's no shortage of accommodations. The only difficult part is choosing which region to visit in Maine. Why not visit all of them? Maine is divided into eight tourism regions:

1.Greater Portland

2. South Coast
3.Western Lakes & Mountains
4.Kennebec Valley and Moose River Valley
6.Downeast & Acadia
8.Katadin & Moosewood

Working in New England for a few summers gave me the opportunity to really explore Maine and even when I lived and worked in New York City I made a point to visit Maine when time permitted. There are so many places in Maine that are dear to my heart; Bar Harbor, Bangor, Bethel, Camden, Caribou, Kezar Lake, Monhegan Island, Ogunquit, Portland, Wells.....but one of my favorites is Camden.


Camden has never left my mind. The moment the bus dropped me off in town, it was love at first sight.
I stayed in a private home for several days owned by a very kind woman. Her home was located 2 miles from town in a serene setting close to the Camden Hills State Park. Each morning I'd wake up to the sounds of birds singing from my window. I'd enter the kitchen and brew coffee and than make blueberry pancakes or eggs with toast. Afterwards I had the rest of the day to explore the beaches, the farms, the mountains and shops. Plenty of hiking at Camden Hills State Park, excellent kayaking on the bay, bicycling through the countryside and on a rainy day there's the Camden Public Library for reading books. One afternoon I went strawberry picking and made strawberry pies for an authentic Maine picnic. A picnic in coastal Maine is like no other.


The picturesque Camden Harbor on Penobscot Bay feels likes the pages of a children's fairytale. It's June and all the shops and restaurants are open longer this time of year. The waters beckon and no trip to Camden would be complete without a windjammer cruise. If you prefer to be ashore than head to Barrett's Cove and enjoy swimming in Megunticook Lake. This grassy area with a sandy beach is relaxing and has lovely views of Camden Hills State Park.

Camden Attractions:     

Aldermere Farm in nearby Rockport. Visit the famous belted galloway cows. These breed of cows hail from Scotland

Camden Harbor Park and Amphitheater

Curtis Island

Kayaking on Penobscot Bay connects you to the Atlantic waters

Maine Windjammer Cruise

A picnic and swimming at Barrett's Cove

Shopping; lots of unique shops in Camden


Maine Windjammer


                    Belted Galloway Cows at Aldermere Farm in Rockport                                 

Where to Find Good Food:

Boynton-McKay; winner of best breakfast in Maine by "Food Network Magazine"

Camden Farmer's Market, baked goods, breads, cheese, produce, it's all here.

French& Brawn Market; an array of specialty food choices

Natalie's Restaurant; sophisticated French fare, located on the harbor

Waterfront Restaurant; serves very tasty local seafood, on the waterfront

The Classic Maine Lobster Roll can be found all over Maine!

           Boynton-McKay is a super popular place to dine in Camden


An hour's drive from Camden, Boothbay Harbor is quintessential Maine.
Known as "the boating capital of New England" Boothbay Harbor is a summer getaway dream.


Boothbay Railway Village, Carousel Music Theater, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Maine State Aquarium, Schooner Lazy Jack Cruises.


Harbour Towne Inn on the Waterfront
The Thistle Inn & Restaurant

It's June in beautiful Maine; come visit the "New England Pine Tree State"and be swept away by all the marvelous things it has to offer!


Jun 19, 2018

Impromptu Toronto (Enjoying Toronto in the moment)


It can be done.....an impromptu visit to Toronto with no planning and that's what makes it so adventurous and spontaneous. Twice in less than a year my boyfriend and I have arrived in Toronto with no lodging reservations and limited data on our phones. We almost ran out of gasoline too. Fortunately a kind woman delivering mail in Cabbagetown directed us to a station. My boyfriend and I love Toronto because it's such an exciting international city with diverse neighborhoods, outstanding public transportation, amazing restaurants, unlimited shopping, and culture galore.You too can enjoy all the wondrous things that Toronto has to offer at your own pace. Impromptu Toronto is a unique way to enjoy Toronto by the moment. Trust your instincts, grab a Toronto map, and don't hesitate to ask the locals for directions and recommendations.

                                                                    Enjoying Toronto's Harbour

Parking in Toronto is an adventure in itself. It's not easy to find a parking and parking can get expensive. However most hotels in Toronto offer parking to their guests. Other options to get to the heart of Toronto are by VIA Rail train or taking a subway or a bus from hotels outside of downtown Toronto.The Toronto Transit Commission operates the city buses, street cars, and the subway. This is the best way to get around Toronto besides bicycling or walking. Fares are $3.25 per ride, $12.50 for a day pass and $43.75 for a weekly pass. You can also purchase a $9.00 ticket or token that's good for three rides which comes out to $3.00 per ride.

Toronto Transit Commission website:

It's amazing how things sometimes work out when you trust the universe. During both our visits to Toronto we somehow made our way to the Whole Foods Market on Bayview Avenue  It's a wonderful Whole Foods Market with lots of healthy and tasty prepared foods. There's free parking, the staff is terrific and there's WIFI. After filling up on pizza and salads at Whole Foods Market I used the WIFI and was able to find an affordable rate at Montecassino Hotel in North York. Couldn't resist checking out the ever so adorable homes of Cabbagetown and snapping some photo's.Why is it called Cabbagetown? Back in the late 1840's the poor Irish immigrants who moved to this neighborhood in Toronto were so poor that they grew cabbage on their front lawns.

Impromptu Toronto: One Day of exploring:
We got off the subway at the Saint George station and had a short visit at Royal Ontario Museum www.rom.ca.Afterwards strolled past the upscale shops on Bloor-Yorkville and went inside the legendary Tiffany before heading to Greektown on Danforth to immerse in Greek culture. Enjoyed a piece of baklava and a Greek coffee in Greektown than took the bus to Gerrard Street to experience the Gerrard India Bazzar. Here you can smell incense, shop for Indian products, see some rickshaws, and eat delicious authentic Indian food with exotic spices. After being transported to India for a couple of hours it was off to the famous Yonge Street to do some shopping. The Eaton Centre is a shopping paradise. Stopped at Booster Juice for the ultimate smoothie and then walked over to the harbour to view the Toronto Islands in the distance. Spent a few minutes in the lobby of the stunning Westin Hotel. Walked over to Dundas and then took the bus to Spadina and explored Chinatown and Kensington Market. Kensington Market is one of the most laid back neighborhoods in Toronto and you'll find some unique shops and restaurants here. From Kensington Market we took the awesome streetcar on Spadina to the ever popular Annex and enjoyed our last couple of hours back on Bloor Street.

Hint: To escape the urban congestion head to Riverdale Farm. It's a 7.5 working farm with beautiful gardens and all kinds of animals.  riverdalefarmtoronto.ca
TORONTO is a fascinating city and what's even more fascinating is that half the people who live and work in Toronto are from other parts of the world. In this international city there's so much to see and do. There's no city quite like TORONTO.

                                                     Lots of "high class" shopping in Bloor-Yorkville

Things Not to Miss in Toronto:

Air Canada Centre/Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game
CN Tower
Eaton Centre
Distillery District
Hockey Hall of Fame
Kensington Market
Lake Ontario
Royal Ontario Museum
St. Lawrence Market
Toronto City Hall
Toronto Islands

                                          Baklava in Greektown!

                              Authentic Indian Food on Gerrard Street

                           Amadeu's Restaurant; Kensington Market

Jun 6, 2018

Mushroom Houses, Shopping, and Relaxing in Charlevoix (Episode 4)

Episode 4

It's been a week since my last visit to Charlevoix
and this is my recommendation for having a fun filled
and memorable time in Charlevoix.

Make a reservation at the Weathervane Terrace Inn & Suites located at 111 Pine River Lane. It's right in town close to the beach and all the shopping and restaurants. Once you arrive in Charlevoix check into the Weathervane Terrace Inn & Suites. Walk over to Bridge Street and have a bite to eat than do some shopping.

Head over to the mushroom houses and check out the unique one of a kind architecture of these houses, then enjoy a relaxing time at the beach before returning back to the Weathervane Terrace Inn & Suites. Take advantage of the outdoor pool and when evening arrives have dinner at one of the restaurants.

                                           Let the scents of the fragrant flowers lead you to Bloom Flower Design

Where to Shop:

American Spoon Foods
315 Bridge Street
This cozy shop is famous for its artisanal condiments and preserves. Sample various products at the tasting demo table. I highly recommend the new Citrus and Passionfruit curd which goes nicely with scones.

Bloom Flower Design
100 Van Pelt Place
Situated on a corner in a beautiful building the scent of flowers will beckon you to enter the doors of this extraordinary shop. Candles, flowers, lotions.....everything here is top quality.

Central Drug Store
301 Bridge Street
A local pharmacy that's been in business since 1897. Here you can get everything from prescription drugs to greeting cards. A classic building with lots of great merchandise.

113 Bridge Street
A family owned clothing store, Glik's is full of treasures; accessories, clothes, shoes. The staff is

The Taffy Barrel
211 Bridge Street
Don't miss a visit to The Taffy Barrel for bulk candy and delicious taffy in a multitude of flavors.
Pick what you want to purchase from barrels. Prices are $4.75 per half pounds.

Where to Enjoy a Beer:

Lake Charlevoix Brewing Company
111 Bridge Street
An awesome place for beer brewed right on the premises. Seating is available indoors and outdoors.

Where to Stay:

Weathervane Terrace Inn & Suites
An remarkable place to stay. Enjoy the complimentary breakfast, outdoor pool, cozy lobby and more.

Where to Eat:

Terry's Restaurant
Treat yourself to dinner at Terry's Restaurant. 


If you love "The Hobbit" house than you'll enjoy taking
a tour of the mushroom houses in Charlevoix.

Thanks to the architectural talents of Earl Young Charlevoix has a collection of one of a kind designed mushroom houses. As early as 1919 Mr. Young, a self taught builder started constructing mushroom houses in Charlevoix. These homes are made of stone. Mr Young used boulders, fieldstone and limestone that he found around Northern Michigan. Pick up a  self guided map in town to help you navigate to where exactly the mushroom houses are located..The Weathervane Terrace Inn and Suites & Stafford's Weathervane Restaurant located at Pine River Lane in Charlevoix were also constructed by Earl Young and are well preserved.

Jun 4, 2018

Charlevoix; Elegance on Belvedere Avenue (Episode 3)

Episode 3

Sometimes a detour makes all the difference. How grateful am I that on that hot July day the drawbridge in Charlevoix was up, traffic was at a standstill and I made a right turn onto Belvedere Avenue and discovered an elegant summer place. 

It was my day off and I was on my way to Petoskey to visit a friend when I got stuck in traffic in Charlevoix. Drivers were all waiting for the drawbridge to come back down. It was taking longer than usual, typical for  the middle of July in northern Michigan. It was hot outside and my air conditioning wasn't working but fate had things worked out in my favor. I was able to make a right turn from Bridge Street onto a street I wasn't even familiar with. That street was actually known as Belvedere Avenue. My first impression was "What beautiful homes, who wouldn't dream of living in one of them?" I wanted to park my vehicle and take a walk. I found a parking spot right in front of the Inn at Grey Gables. The inn was so lovely and it beckoned me to come in.

I walked up the path and stood on the wraparound porch of the Inn at Green Gables in awe. I was greeted by a kind and cheerful woman. "May I help you?" she asked. "Just want to take a quick peek at your place" I said to her as I admired the furnishings.  I was a complete stranger to this innkeeper but I felt like a long lost friend. The woman invited me in and gave me a tour of the historic inn full of treasures. She asked me to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine. with her. She told me about the affluence of the neighborhood and that "The Belvedere Club" was exclusive to members only. We talked about the history of the Inn at Grey Gables and about summering in Charlevoix. I wasn't even a paying guest but that hour spent at the Inn at Grey Gables made me feel so special as I sipped on wine, ate made from scratch cookies, and admired the serenity of the inn.

For the next 2 hours I walked around the area, enchanted by the wealth around me. The Belvedere Club is very unique. It's only open to members and these members own the beautiful homes and have access to the gardens, golf club, tennis courts, sailing, and yacht club. There's a private beach  with colorful cabanas on Lake Charlevoix, just one of of many perks of being a member of "the club."The whole neighborhood is quite extraordinary and it's an absolute pleasure to walk the sidewalks of Belvedere Avenue.

                                     One of the best places to stay in Charlevoix: Inn at Grey Gables

Inn at Grey Gables
306 Belvedere Avenue
Charlevoix, MI
(231) 547-2251
Seven guest rooms in a historic setting. Peaceful and relaxing. Enjoy a free hot breakfast during your stay and daily cheese & wine tastings.

Grey Gables Inn Restaurant
308 Belvedere Avenue
Charlevoix, MI
(231) 547-9261
Open 7 days a week. Lots of entrees to choose from. American, and International cuisine.

This small hamlet of Charlevoix known as "Belvedere" is regal indeed and worth checking out. A stay at Inn at Grey Gables is an option as is dining at Grey Gables Inn Restaurant.

I'm just an average girl who experienced a couple of hours of elegance on Belvedere Avenue in the beautiful beach town called C H A R L E V O I X.

Jun 1, 2018

Charlevoix, A Beautiful Beach Town, Episode 2 (On a Budget)

Episode 2:
I'm an adventurous gal whose always looking
for new found treasures. Fisherman's Island State
Park just outside Charlevoix is a jewel of a park for
camping and it's only $17.00 a night for a campsite.

Not all those that come to vacation in Charlevoix are affluent and wealthy. There are ways to enjoy this beautiful beach town without spending a fortune. My go to place is Fisherman's Island. For only $17.00 a night you can camp at this breath-taking state park. It's very primitive; no flush toilets, no sinks, no showers....just an outhouse but there are those of us that are okay with roughing it. I discovered Fisherman's Island State Park last year. I was subletting my apartment in Traverse City for a couple of nights and needed someplace to stay and that place was Fisherman's Island.  

                                              Marvelous beach shoreline at Fisherman's Island

Fisherman's Island State Park sits on 2,678 acres. With six miles of Lake Michigan shoreline you couldn't ask for a better paradise. The rustic campground is close to the beach and hiking trails. You can camp or park your trailer here and enjoy true wilderness for only $17.00 a night and the best part is that the glitter of downtown Charlevoix is only minutes away by vehicle.

In a mood for shopping? The nearby Rainbow Thrift Shoppe is a one of a kind shop with hundreds of items to choose from all under one roof at ridiculously low prices. Located at 6480 Old US 31 South the Rainbow Shoppe is a non-profit thrift shop and the proceeds go to local outreach needs. Accessories,Books, Clothes, Hardware, Housewares, Linens, Shoes.....it's all here.

Rainbow Thrift Shoppe

6480 Old US 31 South
Charlevoix, Michigan 49720
(231) 547-2815

The staff here is friendly and helpful and you can really find some good items.

How about some cultural stimulation?

                                     Harsha House Museum on State Street

Harsha House Museum (Charlevoix Historical Society) is worth the $5.00 suggested admission. The Victorian house was built in 1891. Exhibits include the original marriage license of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, a player piano, a reed organ, artwork by Charlevoix artists, an eight foot tall, 200 story Petoskey Stone tower and much more. Current hours are Wednesday-Saturday 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm 

Harsha House Museum

103 State Street (in a quiet neighborhood)
Charlevoix, Michigan 49720
(231) 547-0373

Craving some comfort food?

                                        Affordable Comfort Food!

Pigs Eatin' Ribs is known for Smokehouse style flavors of the south. Brisket sandwiches, burgers, wings, ribs, fish tacos, mac & cheese, cornbread...you can really fill up on the food and bring the leftovers back to your campsite at Fisherman's Island State Park.

Pigs Eatin' Ribs

1418 Bridge Street
Charlevoix, Michigan 49720
(221) 547-7447

Don't miss out on a sunset over Lake Michigan. The view is priceless and cost is free!!!

Enjoy Charlevoix on a budget!

AUSTRIA; Ever-So-Wunderbar

                                                                            Everyone has a favorite place on this earth, for ...