TRAVEL with pat and lew

Archive for the ‘… 2014’ Category

* Portofino … view from the terrace … after 20 years

Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 2, 2014

Visitors to our home in Key West, or our former home in Manhattan, will recognize this painting by Kerry Hallam, which we purchased in NY about 20 years ago. Many of you have asked where it was painted and if we had ever been there. Well, it was painted in Portofino, and yesterday, we were there.

portofino - Kerry Hallam


Our intent was to identify the exact buildings that Hallam painted and the precise spot where he painted from. And we succeeded!

The buildings were easy, the patio not so. We lined up the sight lines but could see nothing like the terrace on the hill opposite those buildings. Then we found some shops on a hill and continued up. There it was. For us, it was a really exciting moment.

Here is the view, from ground level and from Hallam’s terrace.

portofino buildings

And here we are on the terrace.

pat & lew on terrace

We walked back into town and looked up. No terrace visible. We had to walk all the way out to the last buildings in the port to catch just a tiny glimpse of the terrace nestled into the hillside foliage.

terrace composite

We felt triumphant and decided to treat ourselves, first to a glass of prosecco, than to a delightful meal at the best-located port-side taverna.



Posted in ... 2014, ... Italy - Portofino | Leave a Comment »

* our Oxford Experience … 2014

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 8, 2014

Oxford seal
This is our third time at Oxford, the other two being in 2010 and 2012. The Oxford Experience summer program runs for six weeks, from Sunday to Saturday. About 12-14 courses are offered each week, in a variety of areas: British history & literature, music, philosophy, science, and of course Alice in Wonderland, since Alice lived in Oxford.
Paris to Oxford … taxi to Gare Nord, Eurostar to London, taxi to Paddington Station, train to Oxford, taxi to hotel. We arrived on Saturday and stayed in a small hotel in Oxford. First stop: The Bear, the oldest pub in Oxford, for a cold one and a bag of crisps.
at the bear composite
We went to Blackwells in Oxford, maybe the best book store in the world. While I was in the history section looking for more books relevant to my research, Pat took a break and read a book of poems by Billy Collins, her favorite poet. Here she is with Billy at the KW Literary Seminar in January.
Pat and Billy Collins 2
Just when we decided to go to dinner on  – the only night not included in our Oxford Experience package – the heavens opened and it began to pour. Streets were flooded and it came down in buckets. Not to worry. Our hotel is located just above a restaurant, and not any restaurant, but Jamie Oliver’s (aka The Naked Chef) Italian. We each had an excellent meal and by the time we were done, it looked like it had never rained.
 Jamies Italian 2
Check-in begins at noon on Sunday, and we saw some familiar faces from our prior visits. Students are assigned to help with the luggage and we were soon ensconced in our lovely en-suite dormitory room. Pat ran off two entries down to iron the clothes that had been living in our suitcases for five weeks. One does dress differently at Oxford. The jeans have been retired for the time being.
arriving at Oxford
One of the great thrills of being at Christ Church in Oxford is that we eat all of our meals in the dining hall built by King Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey. Queen Elizabeth ate here – both Queen Elizabeths. And so did Harry Potter.
great hall
Our course this year – we both took the same course for the first time – was titled Toulouse Lautrec and the Artists at the turn of the Century in Paris. There were 12 in our class, and everyone contributed. Out tutor was Gillie McNeill. Gillie taught the course on the brain I took in 2012; she is a neuroscientist. Her avocation and lifelong passion is art, and she has lobbied for years to get Oxford to schedule her course. We were the beneficiaries of her persistence. Class goes from 9:15 to 12:30, with a tea break in the middle.
in class composite
We studied many outstanding paintings, by Lautrec and others (Manet), spending intense minutes with many of them, seeing in a new way. Gillie is so much fun to be with, and she led what all of us thought was a great learning experience. Here is Paris in 1900, the Opera and the Moulin Rouge.
Paris 1900
This one by Manet evoked long discussion, in class and on the web – I posted it and invited comments.
manet - behind the bar
Here are some of the almost 50 comments from my great Facebook friends …
  • There’s a sadness in the girls eyes. She’s probably the minimum wage fast food worker of the 1890s… serving drinks to the 1% in a dress that cost her a month’s wages out of her own pocket just to get the job. I say this because she looks detached and distant from the revelry around her.
  • With her detached expressionless face, she daydreams of a life of wealth and aristocracy instead of being a servant to them . Sort of like our own middle class today .
  • she is damn tired of serving those ignorant aristocrats
  • a woman standing alone on her own two feet was not feeling independent but rather sad and vulnerable!!!?
  • If catering to this decadence means I have to wear this corset ONE MORE MINUTE… Lord, another hour before my shift ends.
  • there seems to be a man in the mirror that is speaking to her, but she clearly is not looking at him
  • She wants the party to end, as none of the champagne, roses, fruit, and chandeliers are for her.
  • what sort of interaction there is going on between “the man in the mirror” and the woman?
  • She is young, beautiful and vulnerable- BUT her back is turned to the crowd, to le monde. Her gaze is introspective. She’s not looking at the man in the mirror who is looking at her. Yet I think she IS seeking that special person, who will see her individuality rather than her functionality as a mere dispenser of food and drink. Does the separate rose in the glass before her have symbolic significance? I’ve never seen this fascinating painting but would bet my life that nothing in it is accidental!
  • She’s thinking I’ve had enough. I’d like to go home. He’s thinking I sure would like to go home with her.
  • She was alone in a room full of people, invisible in a way..she wants you, the viewer to take her away, to some new and more interesting place,life.
  • she will always be the secret, never in the crowd with him, always in the shadows without him. Always behind the bar, never in the crowd, properly acceptable, enjoying life like those surrounding her.

HTL photo 1

 One of the traditions of the Oxford Experience is a night at High Table at the front of the dining hall where students share the meal with faculty. Each student is invited to one High Table during their stay. We met early for sherry and were treated to unlimited wine during the meal. I’m wearing a bow tie in Princeton colors which Pat bought for me just for this night. After dinner, we went to the Master’s Garden for croquet and champagne. Of course.
OX - High Table & croquet
Jane Avril was one of Lautrec’s friends and also a frequent model. She was a dancer at the Moulin Rouge known for her strange ability to twirl her leg.
Avril composite
Lautrec never ridiculed or look down on his subjects, who were often prostitutes. He always treated them with respect. Notice he put himself in the Moulin Rouge scene.
Moulin Rouge composite
Our Key West friends Norma and Dick have a long-time friend Joan who lives in Oxford. We had a delightful lunch today with Joan and her daughter Helen.
lunch with Joan
On the last day of class, each of us was asked to choose a painting and talk about it for 2 minutes. Pat and I chose Lautrec’s portrait of his friend Van Gogh, and rather than critique the painting, we wrote and performed a skit about the night Lautrec showed the portrait to Van Gogh.
Van Gogh by HTL

an original skit by Pat and Lew

An apartment in Montmartre. It is 3:00 am. There are bottles and plates and glasses strewn about. Henri and Jane are talking after the others have left the party.

Henri: Jane, are you sober enough for serious conversation.

Jane: How dare you, Henri. You had 3 drinks for every one of mine. What conversation do you want to have?

H: I’d like your opinion as to how this evening went? Do you think Vincent like my portrait of him?

J: Why do you care what Vincent thinks? He’s half crazy and he’s never sold a painting, and probably never will.

H: Oh Jane, that’s not nice. He’s my friend. And besides, I think someday his work may be noticed.

Jane looks at the painting, which is on an easel off to the side of the room.

J: Well, I liked it. I especially liked the way you put in the bright colors. You haven’t done much of that lately.

H: Who do you think encouraged me to do that? And also those bold brush strokes.

J: Why did Vincent tell you to use color? He paints all those dark scenes from Holland. Who wants to look at his dark paintings? He has one of people eating potatoes. Who cares?

H: He may agree with you. In his latest work, he’s starting to use more color. We’re learning from each other and helping each other experiment.

J: Theo (Van Gogh’s brother) seemed to like your painting.

H: Yes, he even mentioned he might want to buy it.

J: If he does, will he put it up for sale? Or maybe give it to Vincent as a gift?

H: So let’s get back to my question. Did Vincent like his portrait?

J: He probably did. If not, he might have doused it with wine and set it on fire. You just never know what he’s going to do.

H: Please, Jane. He would never do anything like that … What did the others think?

J: Your cousin Gabi certainly liked it. And I think Emile did also.

H: As much as I love Gabi, his opinion is biased. Emile may be more objective.

J: Emile said he thought you made Vincent look older than he is. He was surprised by the colors. First he thought they were a little childish, but the more he looked at it, the more he liked it.

H: You mean the more he drank the more he liked it.

J: Well, that too. By the way, Vincent was quite surprised when you unveiled it. How did you paint it without him knowing about it?

H: We met for drinks one day last week. I stayed in the shadows when Vincent arrived and made a quick sketch. Then I did the rest in the studio that night.

J: Quite devious of you, Henri. Do you have sketches of me that will someday appear on your canvas?

H: Ah, Jane. I love you but you have to allow me my secrets. You’ll just have to wait and see. Maybe some day I will make Jane Avril as famous as this portrait will make Vincent Van Gogh.

J: And also as famous as Henri Toulouse Lautrec.

Henri & Jane

 On the last night, the dinner in the great hall is a little more formal. The men wear coats and ties, the ladies dressed in their finest and looked fantastic. One of our new friends gave a sparkling party before the final reception …
party before the party
Here is most of our class at the champagne reception before the final dinner …
reception in Alice's garden
Our final dinner in the great hall, and a last look at the Christ Church quad …
dinner & quad

Posted in ... 2014, ... UK - Oxford | Leave a Comment »

* 3 times in Paris in a month

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 8, 2014

Our European travel plans started in Paris, then to Amsterdam, back to Paris, Eurostar to London & Oxford, then back to Paris. Three times in Paris for a total of 11 nights.

The first time we treated Paris as if it was our home city, which in many ways it is. We stayed at the Perle Hotel in the 6th, where we have been many times before. After morning coffee and croissant at one of our favorite cafes, I got a new carryon bag at Galeries Lafayette after not being able to get a wheel changed on the one I brought. Pat found an optician to change out her lenses into a new frame. We met up with our friends Rawy and Nijole, had a nice dinner around the corner from our hotel, ice cream across the street.

paris composite #1

At the church of Saint-Sulpice, down the street from the Perla, are three magnificent generally unknown paintings by Eugene Delacroix. This one is a portion of Heliodorus Driven from the Temple.

Delacroix at St Sulplice

We left most of our luggage at the Perle and took the train to Amsterdam for our houseboat adventure. On our return, again staying at the Perle, we went to a magnificent exhibit at the Petit Palais – Paris 1900: The City of Entertainment. This is but a small sample of what is a remarkable collection.

petit palais composite #1

petit palais composite #2

From the Petit Palais it’s a short walk to the Champs-Élysées, where we enjoyed a small repast at an outside but shaded table at La Duree

la duree

Abercrombie and Fitch opened its flagship store on the Champs in 2011. From the front gate to the excitingly dark interior to the half-naked studs available for photos, this is way more than just a store.

A&F composite

Last year in Paris we accidentally met Philippe Benhamou and were invited to attend his two-man comedy show, which was great entertainment even though we didn’t understand a word. (He told us his part was in English, but neglected to mention he didn’t say any words.) This year we met on purpose and learned he is preparing a one-man show which will open in January.

philippe composite

Whatever else we do in Paris, the best thing to do is to walk around and just soak it all in. The building below is the Musee D’Orsay, which was magnificent as always but does not permit photos.

paris composite #3

We often forget to take photos of our apartments. This is one of Adrianne Leeds, on rue de Roi du Sicile.

our apartment

Time to go. No more Paris until next year. Of course, you never know.



Posted in ... 2014, ... France - Paris | Leave a Comment »

* even supposedly seasoned travelers can still do very stupid things

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 3, 2014

Because of our adventures with the baggage handlers at Orly we were over an hour late arriving in Nice. Richard, who had arranged to meet us around 2:00 pm, had gone off to handle other business on what for him is a very day (He manages several apartments in different locations and Saturday is a transition and cleaning day). But he soon returned and let us into our apartment (see prior posts). Then he left.

We immediately recognized that we had failed to ask several questions and ran out into the hall to catch him. The door blew shut behind us. Both keys were inside the apartment.

Pat raced down the stairs but Richard was already gone. All of our luggage (including our phones), was inside the apartment. We were now in the lobby, realizing just how stuck we were. We couldn’t leave the building since we would be unable to get back in without the keys and fob. We couldn’t contact Richard since we didn’t have phones or his mobile number – we had always before contacted him by email. There was no place but the hard marble floor on which to sit, and no readily available bathroom. Richard would probably return eventually, but it might be many hours and there was always the chance he had gone for the night. There is a building concierge but he was not on duty.

A couple entered the building. The woman spoke no English but the man did. We showed him the mobile number of the concierge, which was posted, and he agreed to make the call. Pat went with them to their apartment and I stayed in the lobby in case Richard returned. The concierge did not answer his phone. The man said his neighbor had Richard’s mobile number, went to get it, and called. Richard did not answer. Pat left a message.

An hour had passed. We considered other options. It might be possible to climb from the adjoining apartment balcony to ours. Two problems. How to get in the other apartment. And how to survive the fall from the 5th floor if the climb failed. Think of something else. Call the police? We’d probably get arrested ourselves. The fire company? We decided to wait, calling Richard every 30 minutes or so. Another hour passed.

Richard answered his phone and said he would return in five minutes. That was the good news. The bad news was he did not have another key. The concierge had one, but he was not reachable.

Richard arrived, expressed no anger with our stupidity which had clearly interrupted his busy day, and said, “I don’t have a key, but I will arrange a solution.” For the first time in hours, thoughts of sleeping on the marble floor, or the beach, or even being arrested as vagrants, left our minds. Richard set about calling the cleaning personnel who did have keys. He found one, who was just about to leave Nice, but who gave the key to her daughter who said she would bring it to the apartment.

Another hour passed. Richard entertained us in his apartment and I went to the supermarket (optimistically) to get wine and cheese for the evening. The young lady arrived while I was gone. Pat went up with her and retrieved our keys. By the time she got back down, I was back and Richard was already gone, back to his tasks.

We like to think we are really good travelers and I think, on balance, we are. But when we make a stupid mistake, it can really be a doozy. Thanks so much to Richard, the young lady, and the couple who helped us. We unpacked, then sat on our terrace as it got dark, eating cheese and potato chips, and finished the entire bottle of wine.

terrace at night DSCN4292

Posted in ... 2014, ... France - Nice | Leave a Comment »

* Paris to Nice was an adventure … kudos to Air France for dealing with a baggage handlers’ strike

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 3, 2014

air france

Earlier in the week, we had dinner with our Paris friends Marilyn and Bernard. When we told them we were planning to fly to Nice on Saturday they told us it was the absolute worst travel day of the year, which the French call Black Saturday, the first Saturday of the August vacation season. We were advised to leave plenty of extra time, or even go to Orly on Friday night and stay in a nearby hotel.

We opted to arrange a taxi at 8:00 am for a 12:20 flight. and were pleasantly surprised when the drive to Orly took only 15 minutes, half the usual time in normal traffic. We quickly used the kiosk to get both our boarding passes and our luggage tags. So far so good, but it still turned out to have been a really good idea to have left early.

By 8:30 we were in line to drop the already tagged luggage. The airport was crowded and it was a long line, but one which should have taken no more than 20-30 minutes. It took over 2 hours. A baggage-handlers strike had put the Orly terminal into chaos. There are automated machines for taking the pre-tagged luggage, but most passengers could not figure out how to make them work, and the baggage handlers stood by and did not help. It was taking 5-15 minutes to process each piece of luggage.

air france composite

Air France management personnel did a terrific job answering questions and supplementing the baggage handlers, who stood there but did nothing. I tried to find out what the strike was about, and was told it had to do with “working conditions.” When I asked for more details, the condition they were complaining about seemed to be that they were being asked to work.

We finally got through the line and had time for coffee and croissants. Then the flight was delayed, probably due to the baggage handlers not moving the luggage quickly onto the plane. We took off over an hour late, but amazingly, our luggage arrived with us in Nice.

Posted in ... 2014, ... France - Paris, problems, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

* five nights on a houseboat in Amsterdam

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 28, 2014


We were two days in Paris before taking the train to Amsterdam, and two more days after returning to Paris. I’ll include those days later, making one Paris post for 2014.

Our houseboat was located on the Prinsengracht canal next to the Noordermarkt in the Jordann district of Amsterdam, a perfect spot to enjoy the casual sophistication of a great city. Inside it was larger and more comfortable than I had expected. But the main joy was the porch along the water side, perfect for reading and watching the boats go by.

Houseboat composite

On our first morning in Amsterdam, we walked to the fabulous Rijksmuseum. This is a small sampling of the great masterworks to be found there …

Rijksmuseum composite

Amsterdam is a great walking city, with exquisite views in every direction (well, most directions), and many fine restaurants. We had tapas during the World Cup final, cottage pie in an Irish pub, and a really splendid meal in an Italian restaurant. Here are a few shots just walking around, including our houseboat from the other side of the canal and the window-washer-in-a-boat.
Amsterdam composite

Posted in ... 2014, ... Amsterdam | Leave a Comment »

* two weeks in Martha’s Vineyard … sublime

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 22, 2014


From New York, we flew from LaGuardia direct to the Vineyard. Our first night was in a B&B in Edgartown which Pat found on AirBnB. The next morning our very helpful host (who had picked us up at the airport) also drove us to the lovely little cottage (half of a duplex) on Herringcreek Road just past the Katama fork.

We settled in and the next morning rode our bikes to the beach (2.5 mi each way). Check that one off. Now we don’t have to go again.

MV - Pat & Lew on beach

Menemsha is a special place. Our wonderful landlady Rita drove us over and we each had a terrific dinner – the lazy lobster, mahi-mahi, and lobster pot pie – at Homeport on the bay. Then Rita led us down along the waterfront for a beautiful sunset.

Menemsha composite

pat & lew at menemsha - cropped

… a Sunday morning bike ride to the Edgartown harbor, buy a NYT, enjoy coffee (& tea) and donuts, and our 1st selfie … quite pieceful.

MV - sunday am composite

We biked 8 miles from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown today. Some of you may wonder how we got to Oak Bluffs with our bikes. Answer: MV has a magnificent bus system; just hang the bikes on the front. Seeing kids jump off the bridge was expected. The old concert sign with Richie Havens was not.
biking from OB
It’s great when we travel to meet friends from home in different places. Tom and Debbi set off from Key West in February, with a van, a smart car and two bikes, for a 14 month sojourn through the eastern US. This week they’re on Cape Cod and they took the ferry to the Vineyard to join us for lunch.
MV - Tom,Debbi,Pat
Pat planned the route for us to bike to Morning Glory Farm. Would anybody be surprised if I report that we got lost and ended up on a sandy dirt road where we felt safer to walk the bikes. But we got there.
MV - DSCN3747 Morning Glory

After the Vineyard, we flew to LGA, drove to Cherry Hill, saw the kids again, spent a day “down the shore,” and flew from PHL to Paris, where I’ll pick up the story next.


Posted in ... 2014, ... US - Martha's Vineyard | Leave a Comment »

* New York City … there is no other like it

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 21, 2014

New York

We lived in Manhattan for about 14 years, until 2005, and we try to return at least once a year. One of the highlights for Pat is the “Pizza Night” arranged by her Mercury Masters friends. (Mercury Masters is the running club of women over fifty who run marathons that was a major focus of Pat’s life in NY. BTW, she ran 10 marathons)

NY - pizza 1-NYC

Usually I join the ladies for pizza; they are all my friends as well. This year, I had time to stop by to say hello before heading to Yankee Stadium, where I saw 3 games on 3 consecutive nights. ALL YANKEE WINS!

NY - Yankee composite

Pat and I believe that John’s Pizzeria on 44th St near 8th has the best pizza on the planet. Tonight this again proved true. Great ambiance in what used to be a church, and great pizza! When we lived in Manhattan, Friday night at John’s was a regular, and Bonnie was our regular bartender, with the draft beers on the bar even as we walked in the door. Bonnie became a character in my novel A GOOD CONVICTION, but she had moved on by the time the book was published and I never got to give her a copy. Tonight we met Jeffrey, who knows Bonnie and offered to make a connection for us.

NY - John's composite

A great new place to walk in Manhattan, with the Hudson River on one side and an ever-changing collage of city views on the other. Currently along 10th Ave from 30th to just past 14th, to be extended north. We were there on a Friday midday and it was full of people but not over-crowded. No bikes or dogs. We dropped down (stairs or elevator) at 16th to explore Chelsea Market and enjoy a crepe. That was about all we could eat after our unexpected adventure at the dentist in the morning.

NY - High Line composite

The best part of New York is often just walking around. We especially like Central Park, where you never know who you’ll meet. Here’s Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) taking time off from portraying LBJ on Broadway to watch his show team play softball.

Brian Cranston copy


Posted in ... 2014, ... US - NYC | 1 Comment »

* We began our 2014 European summer travels in Cherry Hill

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 21, 2014

Cherry Hill

4 of our 6 children and 6 of our 8 grandchildren live near Cherry Hill, so this is often our first destination when our plane leaves Key West. Actually, we were there twice, with New York and Martha’s Vineyard in between.

First up, my daughter Missy and her family …

whitmore composite

Next, Pat’s group …

CH - Lenny composite 2

My son Josh and his family …

Josh composite

Ocean City has been part of Pat’s life for decades, and these ladies have shared decades of experiences …

OC ladies

And it turns out that we have good friends from Key West who also live “down the shore” …

KW in OC

There was also time to see my brother and sister-in-law …

coffee w:Steve & Karin




Posted in ... 2014, ... US - visiting family | 1 Comment »