Thursday, August 26, 2010
Lapping its edges, the Andaman Sea is spectacularly beautiful, its brochure-blue waters interrupted by romantic islands, exotic looking watercraft and striking thrusts of karst that form almost hidden coves. The interior is mountainous and precipitous slopes can be encountered along the edges. The eastern side is less touristy, the western side, especially at Patong, is international party central. You can drive from one side to the other and back again in an hour or so.
East. Phuket Town is marked on the maps but it's hard to tell exactly when you've reached it. The strip-store virus is rampant. I was so busy with water-oriented activities there wasn't time to explore the town or, horrors, even shop. I'm told the east side is where the bargains are.
Spent the better part of three days in the Andaman sea and wish it could have been more.
Food Afar: Recipes from a Travel Writer.
Tip: Like many similarly situated resorts in Thailand, Vijiit maintains a fleet of golf carts that ferry guests from their cottages to wherever they want to go within the complex. It is efficient and pleasant to be delivered door to door so don't let topography deter you from staying anywhere offering this service.
The massage, a combination of techniques rather than the Thai massages we had been spoiled with, was one of the best all of us had ever enjoyed and the surroundings were rustically elegant and comfortable.
Warning: Yes, but the massage rooms were a good walk or stair climb away from the reception area. We were requested to remove our shoes before the walk/climb which was fine in the morning but when we were done those wooden stairs and walkways were hot enough to seriously burn your feet. Ask your attendant to bring your shoes to you before leaving the treatment room.
NOTE: For a recipe from our meal that day, go to my other blog, Food Afar: Recipes from a Travel Writer.
Tip: SS Hideaway is situated along the steep sides of a mountain so only the man made elements are level. You will encounter stairs, too, so make sure the golf carts are running before you book.
Next post: By sea around the cape to Patong and the wild west - and secluded elegance.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Non-equestrian activities range from spending a day in a Shaker village to sipping your way along the Bourbon Trail.
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is America's largest restored Shaker community. April through October costumed interpreters and crafts people bring the original back to life, complete with horse and wagon rides. May through October, you can take a ride on a riverboat.
Tip: There are a dozen hiking trails ranging from 1-mile to 6-mile loops, easy to strenuous, if you feel up to it. Otherwise, tour, shop, eat, even stay overnight. The seed-to-table restaurant is a destination must-do for many locals.
Historic homes abound, including
Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate;
Latrobe's Pope Villa, one of the few remaining examples by an architect of the U. S. Capitol;
Mary Todd Lincoln House, the nation's first shrine to a First Lady;
Waveland State Historic Site, a Greek Revival built by a grand-nephew of Daniel Boone.
Warning: When it's historic, you are going to encounter stairs with no alternatives.
The eight historic distilleries - Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, Four Roses, Maker's Mark, Heaven Hill, Tom Moore and Jim Beam - that make up the trail are in the Lexington Bluegrass area. Both Buffalo Trace and Woodford are local favorites. All offer tours and tastings, many require reservations and all have gift shops and historic photographs and memorabilia.
Warning: Hills and stairs are a given but a few, such as Heaven Hill in Bardstown makes a tour of the 50-acre property easier with a trolley.
Best of all, the drives between them will take you through some of the Bluegrass' most beautiful countryside. Even National Geographic says so.
Revolutionary and Civil War sites abound in these hills and dales if that's what pulls your gotta-go cord.
For book worms, Joseph-Beth Booksellers has been named by Publisher's Weekly as North America's best bookstore.
And wherever you go, prepare for residents to treat you like a favorite new member of the family. Stay here more than 24 hours and you'll wish you were.
For all the information you need for a memorable stay, go to www.visitlex.com.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I visited two Thoroughbred farms and passed by dozens on my visit, spent a delightful afternoon trying to pick winners at Keeneland, plus took a fascinating tour of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, the horsey equivalent of the Mayo Clinic.
Tip: Thoroughbreds are valuable, so wherever they walk, the surface will be well-groomed, good news for Levelers.
This is where the last Triple Crown winner Affirmed, bred and owned by Patrice and Lou Wolfson, stood at stud, died and is buried adjacent to the stallion barn. Most thoroughbred race horses of note have their head and hooves buried and memorialized, but Affirmed was buried in tact, standing up and facing visitors.
Tip: Owned by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, Darley at Jonabell is a showplace and one of the best places for Levelers to tour. You walk on paved surfaces that are relatively flat and the interesting tours are compact. Visitors are welcome by appointment and tours are frequent, www.darleyamerica.com. 1-859-255-8537.
Only drawback: The two racing seasons, spring and fall, are short. Tout Lexington makes it a point to attend at least one day of each, however, and so should you if lucky enough to be in the area at the right time. If not, the public is welcome to watch morning workouts year-round and its track kitchen is famous for cheap, filling and good breakfasts. www.keeneland.com.
A very small sample
Tip: Again, flat and smooth for walking but you'll stand a lot.
Good read, great information: Patti Nickell's Horse Lover's Guide to Kentucky.
Monday, August 9, 2010
If you love horses, you have to visit Lexington. If you love good food and drink among beautiful scenery and congenial people, you need to visit Lexington, too.
I did, as a guest of Visit Lexington to preview the Alltell FEI world Equestrian Games in September-October, but any undue influencing already had been done. One of my early memories was sprawling on the floor listening to a radio program that was interrupted to announce the death of the great race horse Man o' War.
I was delighted to find that Lexington, one of the most influential sires in American Thoroughbred history, has been miniaturized, dyed blue and become the infectious logo for Visit Lexington, promoters of the center of Kentucky's famed bluegrass and Thoroughbred industry. Also liked that we were staying at a hotel filled with equestrian images, Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa, and that the rooms featured Tempur-Pedic beds, a Lexington-made product.
You can try riding to a walk, trot and canter on the simulators (like the ones used filming Seabiscuit) at the Morgan Horse Exhibit or schedule a ride on the real thing (for an additional cost).
Tip: The terrain is mostly flat with a few gentle hills and smooth or paved for walking, but you will walk a lot. Take the free, horse-drawn tour of the main part of the park to orient yourself and decide what you want to see. You walk to but get to sit during the Parade of Champions at the Hall of Champions. You'll walk around meeting residents of the Breeds Barn but you'll sit during the Parade of Breeds when the horses show off their strengths.
If you aren't a horse nut, the Park will entertain you for a full day, especially if one of the many competitions held there coincides with your visit. If you neighed before you talked or spent childhood afternoons galloping around the neighborhood, you will want more, much more.
And much more to come about Lexington, its Thoroughbred industry, fabulous food and drink and truly hospitable residents.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Back from hip replacement with a tip for handling stairs, thanks to physical therapists from Brooks Rehabilitation Center.
So I guess it was natural for later architects to manufacture their own hills of steps in order to make buildings appear more monumental and important.
Having to climb to the top to see the good stuff is a bugaboo for many of us travelers.
It's impossible to avoid steps, especially when traveling in countries without accessibility requirements.
Tip: When you absolutely have to get to the top - or bottom, take steps one at a time - both feet on one before going on to the next. It's the safest and least physically stressful way to go.
If one leg is weaker than the other, remember the therapists' mantra:
Up with the good, down with the bad.
That's an easy way to remember to step up with your strongest leg, down with your weakest. Use the railing or wall for stability.
You'll see the wonders at the top and return safely.