Category Archives: Uncategorized

Asheville, North Carolina

An evening in Asheville and delicious food at Salsa’s led us to the Biltmore the next morning, the largest house in America. 20170601_140300141_iOS

The family still owes it but does not live in the main house. It is an enormous property that now includes two hotels and a winery. The winery has a great setup and can accommodate a large number of people. Our pourer mentioned that it is the largest winery in the country which isn’t surprising when you figure that every ticket comes with a free tasting.20170601_162555686_iOS

The house is enormous and was designed to be fireproof, therefore made out of stone and cement without wood elements. It has a beautiful garden conservatory and V for Vanderbilt throughout the house. They only had the child, a girl I believe, she was the one who opened it up to the public after her parents died.

I found it fascinating that there was not an outdoor pool and only an indoor one. There were a large number of changing rooms to accommodate changers. They didn’t have bikinis in those days.

The balconies of the house looked out forever. There is now a highway that runs elevated through part of the property. Stone was used to decorate the base as part of the agreement to let it go through in the first place.20170601_142353643_iOS

While we were there, the rooms were decorated with costumes from Finding Neverland. 20170601_144145713_iOS

There are beautiful gardens and property that you can both walk and drive through.

West Virginia. Ohio. Kentucky.

Did you know that the way to describe West Virginia is as a fist with the middle finger sticking up?


Do you see it? Well we were on the middle finger for a stretch. We then headed over to Ohio to check out Ohio State. In some ways I felt our trip was a BIG 10/SEC college road trip.

Here’s Ohio Stadium, designed to have features of the Coliseum.

Then it was on to Cincinnati. Home of Rogue. We enjoyed dinner down on the waterfront near the stadiums. The waterfront area was apparently recently finished for the MLB All-Star game.

In Lexington, Kentucky we checked out Rupp Arena, which is right in the center of town. A block away is the home of Mary Todd Lincoln. We arrived too late for a tour but read the brief displays in the garden.


European Rest Stops

Are quite different from U.S. rest stops…

Honestly I think that they are one of my favorite things about driving in Europe, especially as I tend to stay well hydrated.

They come in a wide variety but tend to have a couple of things in common: they’re large and they are clean. I’ve seen that span over the entire roadway, having been built over it.

One I stopped at along the way had a McDonald’s, another restaurant, a hotel, an erotic shop, toilets (obviously), an artisan cheese and meat shop, a small Swiss museum, and a general convenience store.

I stopped at the McDonald’s for a snack and was intrigued by some of the offerings. They had a large touch screen as well that I have seen a couple of times in the States. I should note that the only time I ever eat at a McDonald’s is overseas as I find there local offers intriguing. It’s fascinating what they come up with. In this case I had guacamole and salsa fries, a caprese chicken wrap and an apple pie (fried, not baked as is customary in other parts of the world). They also offered a quinoa curry burger. One nice thing about the touch screen is that it offers multiple languages.


In the tourist information center of Vaduz, one can pay 3 Euro (or CHF) and receive a passport stamp. This was my first stop! I also picked up a map here.

Liechtenstein is a total of 62 square miles and has 11 communities. The lowest point is 1410.8 feet and the highest point 8,529.9 feet. It is run as a constitutional hereditary monarchy on a democratic and parliamentary basis. The official language is High German and the Swiss Franc is the official currency although the Euro is accepted in most places.

I first checked out the Cathedral which was small but beautiful.

There is a stamp/post museum, one of the things that the small country is famous for. The center of town is a nice pedestrian area which allows for the curious tourist to move around easily.

Above this pedestrian area is the castle, still occupied by the royal family. Up for a hike, I climbed up above the city. There are different infographics along the path with information about Liechtenstein. It does remind you both on the map and the route that there is not access to the castle. Signs are posted around the castle as well.

There are some nice views on the way up.

Nearby is the Prince’s winery. Unfortunately this had closed by the time I arrived which I knew would be the case. It would have been on my list to do otherwise.


I took advantage of a free walking tour beginning in Marienplatz, named after the statue of Mary.

  • 85% of the city was bombed during WW2 so now there are multiple building materials per building, showing the patched up places.
  • It is mandatory for high school students to visit a concentration camp. They also have classes about the psychology behind the war.
  • There’s a monkey tower, named because a monkey grabbed a baby, Ludwig IV, and carried him up it. The tower was destroyed during WW2 bombings but was able to be recreated due to an unusual source – Adolf Hitler. Hitler moved to Munich in 1915 to become a painter after he was rejected from an art school in Vienna. The monkey tower was one of his many painting spots.20170613_124647945_iOS
  • Traditional clothing: A dirndall for women has a blouse, skirt, and apron. A knot on the left means you’re single. Liederhosen is the traditional outfit for men and literally means leather pants. Both of these were working gear initially and now have turned into the traditional costume of festivals, for example Oktoberfest.
  • Oktoberfest started with Ludwig I’s wedding celebration. He gave free beer to the people and they demanded he continue the tradition. While originally in October, it was moved to September to attract more tourists.
  • The Residenz was the king’s city residence. It was bombed by the allies because they thought it was the Nazi HQ but it was not. As a result it has been completely redone. One of the first rooms is a semi-outside room that is decorated all with shells. It is quite amazing!
  • The English Gardens is a large park area behind the Residenz. A river runs through it and there’s one area where people surf. It’s crazy! You’ll also notice some skinny dippers of all ages enjoying the fresh air and cool water.
  • Field Marshall’s Hall is at one end of Ludwigstrasse with the victory arch at the other end. The Nazi’s used this area to show off on parade. The building are close together so the marching military would be loud and echo off of the buildings.
  • Church’s towers at Frauenkirche supposedly have a devil’s footprint.
  • The famous Glockenspiel “performs” a couple of times a day, depending on the time of the year. I went to the evening performance. It was not the most exciting but it is something to see if it fits into your day. I do believe that if you are going to see it you must stay for the entirety of the performance, including the final cuckoos at the very end. Otherwise I don’t feel as though you can say you actually saw it.


As soon as I arrived in Munich, my colleague whisked me away to the Hofbrauhaus for dinner. It was quite the “Welcome to Bavaria!” experience.

We found a place on the outdoor patio and were serenaded by singers lined up on the stairs and then by the band which marched through the tables before going to its traditional spot in the main hall.

In true Bavarian fashion I ordered Wienerschnitzel.20170612_184533722_iOS

Hofbrauhaus was the King’s beer house. in 1844 there was a beer revolution as the beer tax kept getting higher and higher. There were a few more revolutions over the years as well.

In 1995 the government ruled that biergartens had to close at 1:00am. People boycotted and refused to leave for the weekend so the government gave in and got rid of the curfew.

Mozart was banned for starting a bar fight. Hitler was a regular here as well.

My colleague told me that there was a Airbrau at the airport so I made sure to make a visit on my way out of town! There is a nice outdoor patio as well.

When in Chicago…

Eat a Chicago Dog!


It was beautiful during my most recent trip to Chicago! Last year I got caught in a little bit of snow.

Lake Michigan has a thin covering of ice in some areas, with the sun slowing melting it away.


I had been down to the Navy Pier area before but wasn’t aware of the small park near the entrance. On the water here, there was a thick snow/ice build up. Lots of owners walking their dogs which made for some fun dog watching.

On my first trip to Chicago a number of years ago, I was able to go to a Cubs game in the historic Wrigley Field. As a solo traveler I feel as though my ears are always open to what others are saying, which I guess could also be called eavesdropping… In this case, and most times, it provided me with a unique opportunity so I hopped on the ‘L’ and headed up to to Wrigley. It’s definitely not a new stadium but it has historic charm.


One of my favorite parts about visiting the South is sweet tea. It’s a requirement in every restaurant.

I had a quick turnaround in Memphis and was bummed that the one thing I really wanted to do was closed on Tuesdays – The Civil Rights Museum. I should have learned after earlier this year I trekked for miles to find that a museum I wanted to go to was closed… I at least had the good sense to look it up first this time.

As I arrived too late and left to early for dinner at Rendezvous, I did make sure to engage in two other musts.20170207_184728752_iOS.jpg

The first was a visit to the historic Peabody Hotel to see the ducks. The ducks visit the lobby every day at 11:00am and 5:00pm. I recommend stopping by. It’s quick, cute, and free! They lay out the red carpet for these special ducks and reserve a special elevator just for them.

The second must is of course Beale Street. I was there in the middle of the day so it wasn’t as busy as it can get at night. There’s a lot of history and some great restaurants as well. I stopped off at the Blues City Cafe for lunch before heading out again.


For those Elvis fans, don’t forget to check out Graceland. It is outside of the downtown corridor but definitely worth a visit. They’ve even created their own hotel now!

On my way into town, my uber drive doubled as a tour guide and had us stop at the historic Sun Studios where many famous musicians have recorded.