Old Town Salzburg is a UNESCO Worlds Heritage site.

Salzburg, Austria

 Six Hours in Salzburg

We had planned to explore Salzburg’s ancient buildings and cathedrals, and venues from The Sound of Music. We took the 10 a.m. train from Munich to Salzburg and arrived around 11:30. We left the train station and walked about 15 minutes then crossed the Salzach river bridge heading toward the shopping district Hagenauerplatz.

The Salzach River

The Salzach river winds through Salzburg.

The Salzach river was a transport route for salt.

Salzburg building remains date back to the 7th century.

The Salzach river winds through Salzburg, Austria

Old Town Salzburg is a UNESCO Worlds Heritage site.

Hohensalzburg Fortress perches on the Festungsberg and the Monchsberg Mountains.

What to do in Hagenauerplatz or Hagenau Square

St. Blasius Church is at the end of Getreidegasse.

St. Blaise is the”patron saint of throat ailments.”

We arrived in Hagenauerplatz and perused the shops, and as we neared the street’s end, the meticulous sculpture of Jesus on the cross caught our attention on St. Blasius or St. Blaise’s Church. Though it was September, a note posted on the church advertised an Advent music event. We knew that we were in a town that celebrated Catholicism.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born at Getreidegasse 9 in Hagneau Square.

Pandora is one of the shops that we had recognized in Hagenauer Square.

Getreidegasse and Mozart

We turned down Getreidegasse and spotted Amadeus Wolfgang Mozart’s birthplace and the home that he lived in for 17 years at Getreidegasse No. 9. Mozart’s house is one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in historic Salzburg.

Hohensalzburg Fortress

Festung Hohensalzburg is known as "the mightiest fortress in Central Europe.

Hohensalzburg Fortress was built in 1077 to protect the archbishops and their land from attacks.

Cobblestones pave an alley in Old Town Salzburg.

Old Town Salzburg, Austria preserves their ancient remnants.

We then walked toward the Hohensalzburg Fortress, and instead of taking the cable railway up to the fortress, we began our climb up the steep hill. We stopped about halfway at Stieglkeller beer garden for lunch. After lunch, we continued our trek up and toured the castle.

Churches and spires dot the Salzburg skyline.

The best view of Salzburg is from Festung Hohensalzburg.

Salzburg, Austria

Festung Hohensalzburg offers a view of the Alps and the Salzburg countryside.

Nonnberg Nunnery “Abbey”

Nonnberg Nunnery and Abbey in Salzburg

By Andrew Bossi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons 2163_-_Salzburg_-_Stift_Nonnberg

After the tour, we directed our path down the hill to the Nonnberg Convent that was founded between the years 712 to 715 and is known as the oldest working nunnery in the world. To this day, you can still hear the nuns sing every morning at 6:45. The real Maria von Kutscher who had inspired The Sound of Music had lived at the abbey, and scenes from the musical were filmed at Nonnberg.

Residenzplatz Square

Next, we entered the square where horse and carriages are available for hire for The Sound of Music tours, or dinner tours, and more. In one of the scenes in Residenzplatz Square, Maria had splashed in the Residenz Fountain on her way to the von Trapp home.

Fiaker Tours offer "The Sound of Music" tour.

Visitors can take horse and carriage tours in Salzburg, Austria.

Salzburg Cathedral or Dom zu Salzburg

The cathedral was rebuilt and consecrated three times

The original Salzburg Cathedral was constructed in the year 767.

Salzburg Cathedral in Austria

The three dates, 774, 1628 and 1959 represent the consecration times after it was rebuilt from fires and a bombing during WWII.

We passed Salzburg’s holiest and most famous Cathedral, Dom zu Salzburg where 370 years ago someone marred the marble entranceway with graffiti. We proceeded west to Mirabell Palace and Gardens where Maria and the von Trapp children had sung “Do Re Mi.”

Mirabell Palace and Gardens

Maria and the children finished the song on the gaited steps.

Hohensalzburg Fortress and the Salzburg Cathedral are visible from Mirabell Gardens.

We enjoyed the gardens and the view of the cathedral and fortress, but today the palace is used for municipal government business, so we entered the foyer only. With time to spare, we relaxed at a cafe and sipped some Austrian wine paired with a selection of cheese.

One day, we hope to return and stay longer. Salzburg, entrenched in history, classical music, and religion, seems like the perfect place to celebrate the Christmas season.

King Ludwig II slept in his castle eleven nights.


King Ludwig II Mystery: Murder or Suicide

In 1886, King Ludwig II of Bavaria was deposed when four government psychiatrists certified him insane and transferred him to Berg Castle. He and one of those psychiatrists were found dead near the castle in Lake Starnberg. To this day, it’s questionable whether it was murder, suicide, or both.


Neuschwanstein castle overlooks Hohenschwangau and the Alpsee lake in Bavaria.


King Ludwig II grew up in Hohenschwangau castle, and when he was eighteen, his father died, and he was crowned king.

Hohenschwangau overlooks the lake Alpsee

King Ludwig II grew up in Hohenschwangau Castle.

King Ludwig II “The Mad King”

Two years later, King Ludwig allied with Austria during the Austro-Prussian War, and Prussia’s victory eliminated the king’s sovereignty. Because of this setback, Ludwig became a recluse and built extravagant castles that created a fantasy world where he could reign like a medieval king.

Obsession with the Composer Richard Wagner

This is the view from Marienbruke.

Neuschwanstein Castle overlooks Hohenschwangau village and the lake Alpsee in Bavaria.

In 1868, the king had broken ground for his most famous castle, Neuschwanstein, and within four years he had access to parts of the castle. Ludwig was fixated on Richard Wagner, and Neuschwanstein became the embodiment of this obsession.

Not only had Ludwig attended “private performances” of Wagner’s operas where he was the sole member of the audience, but he had also built Neuschwanstein to honor the composer by hiring a theatrical scene painter to design the castle with scenes from his operas. Ironically, Wagner died before he saw it.

View of Queen Mary’s Bridge or Marienbrucke Bridge

Queen Mary's Bridge sways over Pollat Gorge.

This is a view from Neuschwanstein of Queen Mary’s Bridge and the Alps.

The Interior of Neuschwanstein Castle 

While building Neuschwanstein, Ludwig used technology unheard of in the 19th century. His builders installed flushing toilets and central heat and furnished his kitchen with two ovens, a stove, spit, sideboard, and hot and cold running water.

Queen Mary's Bridge is named after King Ludwig's mother.

The waterfall and Pollat Gorge from Queen Mary’s Bridge in Bavaria are spectacular.

Ludwig’s extravagances incurred massive debt, and his ministers deposed him by reason of insanity. However, though his behavior was Exceptional, there is evidence that he may have been set up.

Neuschwanstein Castle over looks Alps the lake.

This is the view from Queen Mary’s Bridge of Neuschwanstein Castle.

Within weeks of his death, Ludwig’s descendants opened the castle for tourism. Since then, it has become one of the most photographed castles in the world and attracts as many as 6,000 visitors a day.

Neuschwanstein Castle and Walt Disney


Sleeping_Beauty_Castle_Disneyland_Anaheim_2013           https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Walt Disney was inspired to create Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and Disney’s Magic Kingdom after he had toured Germany and Neuschwanstein.

Neuschwanstein overlooks the Alps.

Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy the Bavarian Alps.

We visited near the end of September and purchased our tickets at 11:30 a.m. for a 1:00 p.m. tour. We rode the bus up and ate lunch at the castle restaurant. The crowds were not overwhelming, and the temperatures ranged in the high sixties to seventies with a slight breeze that cooled our skin.

The foliage colored the Bavarian hills and valleys with splashes of orange, gold, and green. We felt like we had arrived at the perfect time.

Visiting Neuschwanstein

Tickets can be reserved in advance or purchased at Hohenschwangau ticket office on the day that you visit. Management suggests collecting your tickets an hour before your tour. On busy summer days or holidays, tickets can sell out early.

You can hike, take a carriage, or a bus up to the castle. Tickets include a guided tour, but inside photos are prohibited. Once inside the castle be prepared to walk up 165 steps and down 180.

Neuschwanstein Ticket Cost

Adults: 13 euros

Children under 18 accompanied by an adult: Free

Groups and senior citizens: 12 euros.

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Winzerer Fahndl seats 8,450 people inside.

Octoberfest Munich, Germany

 Octoberfest History

A wedding between the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen inspired the first Octoberfest. The reception began on October 12, 1810, and ended on October 17. Munich citizens attended the five-day party that included music, parades, food, and drinks; and ended with a horse race.

Munich’s Octoberfest Today

Octoberfest previously took place in October, but today the festival starts in September and lasts 16 to 18 days. September is the chosen month because the days are longer and warmer. The festival ends on the first Sunday of October unless it falls on the first or second of the month. Then it ends on the third.

The first Octoberfest was held in a field that today is named the Theresienwiese in tribute to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

Men and women dress in the traditional garb; men wear lederhosen, leather shorts with suspenders and plaid shirts; and women wear dirndls, wide skirts bowed at the waist, and they often braid their hair.

 Octoberfest Carnival 

Octoberfest walkway

Octoberfest in Munich offers a variety of rides.

Octoberfest covers about 102 acres and attracts over six-million people worldwide. The carnival includes rides for children and family and thrill rides for that heart-dropping experience. Also, prize-winning carnival games abound like popping balloons with darts and air gun shooting.

If that’s not enough, merrymakers can watch parades, participate in contests, or go to the Schichtl Theatre and get executed by fake decapitation.

Octoberfest Beer Tents

Festival goers enjoy the music in Winzerer Fahndl tent.

Winzerer Fahndl tent serves Paulaner beer.

Beer tents are the preferred venue, and it’s a good idea to buy your tickets in advance.  Each tent features its own beer. We recognized our tent, Winzerer Fahndl, by the big beer mug perched on top. Tents offer indoor and outdoor seating, and large tents hold thousands, while small tents accommodate hundreds.  Our tent held 8,450 people inside and 2,450 outside.

About ten people sit at each picnic table, and if you don’t have ten in your party they combine groups. Benches butt up against each other, so there is little room to maneuver. Our tent had clean bathrooms and the wait in the ladies’ restroom line was about seven minutes, and there was no wait in the men’s room.

Winzerer Fahndl tent Octoberfest

Winzerer Fahndl tent is geared for an older Octoberfest crowd.

When we entered,  I smelled grilled chicken and watched waiters carry large platters of food through throngs of people. We found our table and opened the menu that included traditional food like roast ox meat, pork sausages with sauerkraut, roasted leg of veal, grilled duck, potato dumplings, the featured beer Paulaner, and other drinks. We started with the beer that tasted malty and medium bodied. We loved it.  However, the next day we had sore arm muscles from holding the heavy mugs.

The band played songs geared toward an older crowd on a stage in the center of our tent.  Many lined up and danced, or swayed to the beat in unison and sang along.

Theft at Octoberfest

With thousands of people attending, I shouldn’t have been surprised by what I saw. I entered the ladies room where an attendant had a basket of tips on the table by the door. When I was leaving, I saw the flash of a brown-haired-young man dressed in lederhosen charge in the ladies room, grab the attendant’s tips and dash. I heard someone curse in English, and I suspected that theft wasn’t a first.

Why you should attend Octoberfest

There is something for everyone at Octoberfest whether its thrill rides, shows, parades, or enjoying Bavarian food and drink. Attending one of the biggest parties in the world is a great way to soak up the culture and meet people. Though the festival ended yesterday, there’s always next year.










Baltimore Ravens in London

Boycott NFL Sponsors

It’s unfortunate that the NFL has decided to make a political statement supporting their players that “take a knee” during our National Anthem. If you want to be heard, you can boycott these NFL sponsors.

Baltimore Ravens in London

Baltimore Ravens “take a knee” during the National Anthem in London.

Belmond El Encanto is a beautiful wedding venue.

Belmond El Encanto, Santa Barbara, California, Hotel Review

Belmond El Encanto, “Santa Barbara’s only Forbes Five-Star resort,” comprises 92 suites or rooms that huddle in the hills below the Santa Ynez mountains and overlook Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean like sentinels. Though it opened in 1918, the resort was sold to Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. in 2004 and had undergone a seven-year refurbishment.

The gardens at Belmond El Encanto are filled with palm trees and succulents.

The Belmond El Encanto gardens are rich with greenery.

Rates start at $525 per night and hotel packages are available. A $35 per night resort fee gave us access to WI-FI, motorized bikes, the El Encanto spa and gym, the daily local paper, an in-room Nespresso coffee machine, bottled water, garden tours, backyard games, shoe shining, and shuttle transportation. We used all of the amenities except for the motorized bikes, garden tours, backyard games, and shoe shining. We especially enjoyed making espresso in our room.

Belmond El Encanto is a luxury hotel in Santa Barbara.

Belmond El Encanto in Santa Barbara, California, offers luxury and serenity.

I had booked late for a Memorial Day weekend wedding, and I was initially disappointed that I wasn’t able to reserve a room in town within walking distance of bars and restaurants. That changed when we arrived at this hillside oasis. We entered the expansive lobby, located in the main building, through a flower-covered arbor. The receptionist welcomed us with a smile and ensured us that the staff was available to assist us.

Belmond El Encanto is a luxury resort.

Flower-filled gardens line the walkway at Belmond El Encanto.

We followed the bellman along curved brick walkways lined with gardens brimming with succulents, purple lilies, ferns, and canopied palms. We passed a pond where orange fish darted among water lilies, turtles sunned themselves on rocks, and a pair of ducks waddled. This was the perfect venue for a Belmond El Encanto wedding.

An arbor surrounds the pond at Belmond El Encanto

The Arbor and Lily Pond pond at Belmond El Encanto is a beautiful venue for an outdoor wedding.

We approached our bungalow covered with a red tile roof and equipped with a patio decked with two chairs and a table. We entered the living room furnished with a sofa, tables, a few chairs, a widescreen TV, and a desk. The living room led to a short hallway with closets on the left and a marble bathroom with a heated floor on the right. The hallway ended at our bedroom outfitted with a king-size bed and a few tables. With the addition of a cot for our daughter who joined us for a night, the suite accommodated our family of four, it felt cozy but elegant.

The infinity pool at Belmond El Encanto is the perfect place to relax.

Belmond El Encanto infinity pool overlooks Santa Barbara, California.

We unpacked and donned light-weight jackets and strolled down the hill to the El Encanto restaurant for lunch. We dined outside on crisp Caesar salad hearts topped with moist Scottish salmon while overlooking Santa Barbara. We lingered sipping wine from their extensive wine list while absorbing the panorama. The scenery and food enticed us to return to explore their other menus.

Belmond El Encanto Restaurant

View of Santa Barbara, California and the Pacific Ocean is spectacular from the Belmond El Encanto Restaurant.


Belmond El Encanto’s ambiance left a lasting impression on me, and I hope to return. As we headed to the airport, we felt restored and refreshed. I suspect that was their plan.


The Eiffel Tower was the tallest structure in the world.

Best Things to do in Paris

Following is a 4-day list  of things to do and historical facts about Paris. When we visited in July, the sun rose at 6:14 a.m. and had set by 9:38 p.m. We had plenty of daylight for exploring.

Day 1

Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa.

The Mona Lisa became famous when she was stolen.

Rive Droite or Right Bank of La Seine

Take a half day guided tour of Musee du Louvre and check out Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa who became famous because she was stolen in 1911 and was missing for two years.

Walk through the Tuileries Gardens that was originally created by Catherine de Medicis in the 16th century.

Visit the Place de Concorde where many were guillotined during the French Revolution. Today, the 3,300-year-old Obelisk Luxor marks the guillotine location.

Napolean's Are de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe rises from the west end of the Champs-Elysees.

Walk the Champs-Elysees and lunch at one of the cafes. Work your way to the Arc de Triomphe that was built by Napoleon.

Day 2

Rive Gauche or Left Bank of La Seine

Les Invalides houses Napoleon Bonapartes tomb.

Les Invalides was a former military hospital.

Visit Les Invalides, formerly a military hospital, where Napoleon is entombed. Explore the World War II wings.

Napoleon's tomb is is in Hotel des Invalides.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb rests in Les Invalides.

Tour Rodin Musee and find The Thinker and The Gates of Hell that Dante’s Divine Comedy inspired. The Thinker initially represented Dante who was positioned over The Gates of Hell pondering the chaos of the damned.

Dante inspired Rodin to create The Thinker.

The Thinker is displayed in the Musee Rodin.

Rodin's The Gates of Hell are displayed in Musee Rodin.

The Thinker leans over The Gates of Hell to ponder the damned.

Head to the 6th arrondissement, my favorite, and relax at one of the many sidewalk cafes and people watch while sipping wine or cafe au lait.

Day 3

Visit one of the open-air markets like Raspail organic market, though Raspail is only open on Sundays, where you can buy fresh bread, desserts, a variety of cheese, fruits, vegetables, meat, flowers, and more.

Peruse the multitudes of shops and eateries on the Left Bank.

Dine at Les Deux Magots, one of the oldest Paris cafes, where Ernest Hemingway,  Pablo Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre and many other renowned figures frequented.

Visit the Eiffel Tower at night when it shimmers in gold.

The Eiffel Tower is 1,023 feet tall.

The Eiffel Tower illuminates the night.

Day 4

Ile de la Cite

Take a half-day tour of the Notre Dame Cathedral and then hop in a cab to Montmartre.

Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France

The Cathedral of Notre Dame is an example of French-Gothic architecture.


Walk Montmartre where Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gough, Auguste Renoir and many other famous artists had lived.

Montmartre is known for art.

Montmartre in Paris, France offers spectacular views.

Montmartre, or “Mount of Martyrs,” was named because, in the 3rd century, the first Parisian Christians were martyred where the Basilica of the Sacre-Coeur stands today. Walk up the 270 steps to the top for panoramic Paris views.

The Sacre-Coeur offers spectacular views of Paris, France

The Sacre-Coeur is located in Montmartre in Paris.

The Sacre-Coeur basilica is located in Monmartre in Paris.

View of Paris, France from the Sacre-Couer is spectacular.

Hire an artist to sketch your portrait at Place Du Tetre and browse through the local artwork.

A Salvador Dali Museum is in Paris, France

Salvador Dali artwork is displayed in Espace Dali.

Salvador Dali was a surrealist.

Saint George and the Dragon was sculpted by Salvador Dali.

Explore the Salvador Dali Museum that “holds the largest collection of Dali’s art in France.”

Though there is much more to see, these are my top suggestions for 4 days in Paris.






Best Time at the Beach: Fall

If you miss salt sticking to your skin as you inhale the sea-laden air or the crunch of Fischer’s sweet caramel popcorn or the rhythm of the reggae beat, you’re in luck.

Fall, or the beginning of the off-season, is the best time to travel to your favorite summer beach resorts. Visitors can still sunbathe, swim, shop, fish, crab, boat, play tennis and golf, visit museums, take classes, and enjoy the nightlife.

 Beach Net is an excellent resource for year-round information for the Maryland/Delaware Eastern Shore. It includes an event calendar to help maximize your stay.

In addition to an abundance of activities, the following lists the reasons that autumn, especially September and October, is the best time to visit the beach.

September and October Temperate Weather 

  • Clear skies and mild temperatures are the best beach weather ingredients.
  • The ocean has warmed over the hot summer months, and the temperature is easier on your body.
Uncrowded East Coast Resort Town

Crowds are limited during the off-season in this Delaware beach resort.

Reduced Crowds Means Less Stress

  • You arrive at your destination quicker with less traffic.
  • Bike riding is less dangerous.
  •  Restaurant hostesses can seat you quickly.
  • Parking at retail stores is easy and there are fewer, or no, lines inside.
  • Golf tee times and tennis court reservations are usually available.
  • Beaches are less crowded, and sometimes no one is in sight.

Relaxed Rules

  • Surf fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and surfboarding are allowed during the day.
  • Dogs are permitted on the beach during certain dates, depending on the town.
A man walks his dog on the beach in Delaware.

Dogs are allowed on most beaches during the off-season.

Best Time for Heavy Blue Crabs

Fall is the best time to enjoy heavy steamed blue crabs. I recommend  Captain Mac’s Fish House & Seafood Market, The Crab Bag, and Fenwick Crab House, in that order.

Packages and Deals

  • Restaurants run specials and advertise happy hour prices to draw customers.
  • Hotels offer vacation packages, and condominium and beach-house-rental costs drop.
  • Shoppers can stock up at “end of season” sales.

In my opinion, the best time to stick your feet in the ocean and squeeze the sand between your toes is now.



Jazz Funeral is held Labor Day in Bethany Beach.

Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral

In rhythm with the tuba’s moan, the death march began. Mourners strolled to a solemn “Amazing Grace” southward on the Bethany Beach Boardwalk. They were paying their last respects. Some donned fedoras, dark sunglasses, and black tee-shirts, others draped their faces and bodies in black and purple veils using the corners to blot their tears.

Bethany Beach, Delaware, Labor Day Event

Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral mourners process towards the bandstand.

A white-faced-red-wigged woman played a red accordion, and her partner with his strapped on gray beard played the banjo. A nun with “Nun Of Your Business,” printed across her head-piece and “Nun For You” across her black and white habit wailed, “We will miss her!”

Bethany Beach Bandstand Event

Mourners bid farewell to summer.

“She was too young,” and “very sad” howled some from the crowd. A white plastic skeleton dangled from a man’s black coat and a spider hung by a string from his brown fedora. He sauntered to the victims final resting place with Mardi Gras beads draped through his hands that held a tarantula and skull.

Labor Day Bandstand Event

Bethany Beach, Delaware, hosts the Jazz Funeral on Labor Day.

A blond-haired angel bejeweled with cheap necklaces, and a white puff halo hovering over her head carried, “Summer’s” tombstone inscribed with “Rest in Peace Dear Summer,” born Memorial Day and died Labor Day.

Black cats, bats, witches, crescent moons and stars danced on Halloween cloth that draped “Summer’s” casket. “Summer’s” bright orange lipstick accentuated her tan face.  A bright yellow wig and straw hat covered her head, and fake flowers enshrouded her.

Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral

Dixieland bands entertain the Labor Day crowd.

When the procession arrived at the bandstand, Dixieland music replaced the dirge. Participants and onlookers tapped their feet and swayed to “Has Anyone Seen my Gal,” “Ain’t She Sweet,” “When You’re Smiling,” “God Bless America,” and more. “Summer” enjoyed a good send off. “Yes, I ask you very confidentially, ain’t she sweet?”

Jazz Funeral is held Labor Day.

“Summer” is laid to rest on Labor Day.

This year’s Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral is held Labor Day Monday at 5:30 p.m. starting at the north end of the Bethany Beach Boardwalk. Three jazz bands will serenade the crowd: Dixie Cats, Downtown Dixieland Band, and Jazz Funeral Irregulars. It’s a family-friendly and free event, and costumes are welcome. It’s a great way to celebrate summer’s end.

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Best Travel Tip and Trick


I carry a small cross-body-organizer that includes compartments for credit cards and cash, and two zip pockets. One I use for makeup, keys, and sunglasses, and I place my change in the other. My cell phone fits in an outside sleeve where it is easily accessible. When I travel, I toss my purse in my tote to use at my destination.

You can find organizer bags starting for twenty dollars and up at Macy’s, but spending more may ensure that they last longer. Two bags that I recommend are Brighton, that you can purchase at Kokopelli or you can order it online, and the other is a Brahmin. Both wear well.

In the past, I had carried a large bag, but I have found that these organizers are convenient. Though I had bought them for travel, I use them daily.

Was this PDA an Experiment?

It seemed staged. This couple kissed at the train station the entire twenty minutes that we had waited for our Amtrak train. They hugged in an area where they were highly visible to arriving and departing passengers and those checking their Amtrak train status.

I found their behavior odd, and I wondered if this was a performance to elicit a reaction.  People stared, others looked away, some smiled or laughed, one rolled her eyes, and an elderly lady said that it “looked boring.”

Do you think this was an experiment to determine how public displays of affection, PDA, affects the behavior of bystanders or was this couple’s constant kissing normal for them?

The White Marlin Open Tournament draws crowds.

White Marlin Open: Highest Bar Tab

The White Marlin Open on 14 St. in Ocean City Maryland

Spectators flock to the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Md.

I had sidestepped through throngs of spectators to attend the White Marlin Open, in Ocean City, Maryland, labeled the “World’s Largest and Richest Billfish Tournament.” As I stood on the pier breathing pungent bay air, I was hoping to spot the qualifying White Marlin, Blue Marlin, Tuna, Dolphin, Wahoo, or Shark that could win big bucks.

A White Marlin Open boat

A fishing boat enters Harbour Island in Ocean City, Md. with their catch.

The boats churned in the harbor after a day of fishing, and I watched for flags flying from the outrigger that indicated the crew had boarded a fish. Boats that had caught fish docked and handed their catch over to the White Marlin staff that measured it and attached a rope below the tail fin and used a pulley to hoist the fish up in the air to weigh it.  The spokesman announced the length and weight, and if it was a contender.

Spectators watch the arriving boats in the White Marlin Open.

A boat entered in the White Marlin Open motors in the harbor.

By the end of this year’s tournament, the White Marlin Open had paid out over $4.7 million with over $3.3 million won by the three boats that hooked the qualifying White Marlins. The tournament drew visitors that supported the local businesses, and one of the bars ran an unusual contest that capitalized on the event.

Sunset Grille hosted the Teasers Cup. Participants, often White Marlin Open winners, competed in running up the highest bar tab, and they invited other customers to join in and drink on their tab. They bought champagne to drink and spray. Partiers shook champagne bottles, popped corks, and showered anyone close by.

During the week of the White Marlin Open, the boat, Goin’ In Deep, ran up a $20,550.05 bar tab and some say that they added a $6,200 tip. They drank champagne, that retailed for thousands, and liquor, beer, and wine. This crew had won the Teasers Cup five years in a row. Ironically, they were not among the 2017 White Marlin Open winners, but they ensured that the owners of Sunset Grille were.




Governors Island Ferry Dock

Governors Island, New York

 Governors Island 2017 

Governors Island is open and hosts events from May 1 to October 31.

What to do on Governors Island

While many take the ferry to Governors Island–ten minutes from Manhattan and two dollars round trip fare–for music festivals, performances, art exhibits, historic building tours and more, we escaped mass moving Manhattan on a cloudy weekday to see something different, at our own pace.

Manhattan Skyline

Lower Manhattan rises across the harbor from Governors Island, New York.

The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island

The Statue of Liberty stands proudly on Liberty Island.

Staten Island Ferry from Governors Island

The Staten Island Ferry cruises New York Harbor.

We rode bikes without dodging people or vehicles. We drifted through paths lined with perennial gardens where golden rudbeckias, pink cone flowers, and mixed grasses swayed. We saw Manhattan’s skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and the Staten Island Ferry from a unique perspective. We spied star-shaped Fort Jay and toured Castle Williams, a circular fort that imprisoned Confederate soldiers. We passed food trucks, Island Oyster restaurant and bar, hammocks, a compost learning center, a teaching garden, and an unusual junkyard adventure playground.

The Freedom Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center rises in the background.

We rode Citi Bikes on Governors Island, New York.

Castle Williams was a prison for confederate soldiers.

Castle Williams is the “best preserved circular fortification in the nation.” https://govisland.com/activities/castle-williams

Adventure Playground NYC

Children create with scrap materials

Governors Island junkyard playground sparks children’s creativity.

The junkyard playground allows children six to twelve years old to build and experiment with scrap materials using hammers, nails, and saws, while supervisors watch and parents are kept at bay. Boards, sheets, blankets, rubber tires, metal sheets, orange construction cones, wheels, and large plastic duct tubes–large enough to crawl through–are examples of junk that litters the playground. Though the facility was closed when we visited, it is open on Saturdays and Sundays until September 25, and children can attend weekly camps.

Adventure Playground on Governors Island, NY

Children experiment with scrap materials creating a structure.

Adventure Playground

Children can attend weekly summer camps in the junkyard playground.

Junkyard Playground

Supervisors keep parents away while children build with junk.


Though we didn’t attend any scheduled events or mix with crowds, we unwound, exercised, and learned. Though I love Manhattan, Governors Island was a nice diversion.

Governors Island Ferry Schedule






The Freedom Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center rises in the background.

Warning: ​Citi Bike Overage Fees

Citi Bike App

These are the facts, and you be the judge. My daughter, J, and I rented Citi Bikes in New York on Governors Island, a ten-minute ferry ride from Manhattan. I downloaded the Citi Bike app on my iPhone and paid twelve dollars for the day pass which is good for 24 hours. I received a code to unlock the bike.

We explored the island and returned the bikes. J docked her bike. She snapped it in the rack, and the light blinked green indicating that she locked it properly. She helped me dock mine. It clicked in, and we both saw the green light flash.

Citi Bike Customer Service

We boarded the ferry and headed back to Manhattan. At 5:20, after the last ferry had left from Manhattan to Governors Island for the day, I received an email from Citi Bike that read that my bike hadn’t been seen for three hours. I called the number, and the agent stated that they knew that the bike was at the docking station and that I had tried to secure it but it wasn’t done properly. He also said that they were charging me additional fees until it was latched. I had the option to jump in a cab and take the ferry to Governors Island that had stopped running for the day or swim over and re-dock the bike.

I said, “I already regret that I rented the bike, I’m not taking a ferry back, and I have a train tomorrow morning. What do you want me to do?”

He said that my best bet was that someone would rent the bike tomorrow, and the charges would stop.

I sent an email to customer service about my bad experience with Citi Bike, and I wrote that I felt that we had fastened the bike correctly and I didn’t understand why I had to pay more. I also wrote that I am a blogger and I had planned to write a good review.

Citi Bike Cost

I received an email the next day that congratulated me for docking the bike correctly and that they would remove the $100 penalty. A Citi Bike agent explained that it is not a bike rental but a bike share.

Citi Bike Usage Fees for a Day Pass or 3-Day Pass

According to Citi Bike, “The first 30 minutes of each ride are included in the pass price. If you keep a bike out for longer than 30 minutes at a time, it’s an extra $4 for each additional 15 minutes.

To avoid additional usage fees, keep your rides to 30 minutes each. Take as many rides as you want while your pass is active!”

In other words, you have to dock the bike for two minutes for each 30 minute-ride to avoid a $4 fee.

Citi Bike Annual Membership

An annual membership is $14.95 per month or $163 per year. The first 45 minutes are included, but you are charged an additional $2.50 for each 15 additional minutes unless you dock the bike between rides.

Citi Bike Complaints

A Citi Bike agent admitted that they have received complaints about these fees. However, they have your credit card on file and can deduct the penalties.

I wonder how many customers Citi Bike has hammered with overcharges. Do you think that the average person would know that the bike is subject to these fines? What are your thoughts?


Blood Donation Surprise

I entered the American Red Cross where gray-haired people with brown spotted skin filled the waiting room. This would be easy, I thought. I was the youngest potential blood donor in the room by at least fifteen years. I checked in, took a seat, and waited my turn.

I was healthy and in my forties. I had contacted a local American Red Cross office for information, and I had decided to donate. I followed their recommendations carefully: the night before I had retired early, and I consumed the recommended food and drinks.

A staff member called my name and escorted me to a padded chair, and after I sat down she reclined it slightly. The phlebotomist arrived and wrapped a plastic band around the upper part of my arm and wiped the underside with alcohol, that felt cold and smelled sharp and sterile. She found a vein and slipped the needle under my skin, I felt a slight intrusion. I relaxed and blood began to flow in the clear printed bag that had a UPC code. This was better than I had anticipated; I felt no pain and the donation took about nine minutes.

Afterward, the phlebotomist removed the needle and raised the back of my chair to a full sitting position. Then an assistant arrived and supported my arm to help me up. When I stood I felt a cooling sensation flow from my scalp and goosebumps rose on my back. It was like I had entered a freezer. I was nauseated and almost fainted. Two staffers supported my arms and walked me to a chair in the recovery area, where I reclined for about ten minutes.

Meanwhile, the silver hairs from my group rose from their seats, grabbed snacks and drinks, and chatted with their fellow donors like they were at a cocktail party celebrating their retirement. When staff members checked and released them, I wondered if they were skipping in the parking lot.

I sat up and washed down three Lorna Doone cookies with juice, and I improved. Within thirty minutes, an employee deemed me OK to drive. Before I left, a volunteer pressed a sticker on the upper right side of my shirt that read, “I donated blood to the American Red Cross.” She smiled and said, “Keep this on incase you pass out in the parking lot, someone who sees you will know what happened to you.” I had hoped some of the elderly had dawdled outside in case I needed CPR. Fortunately, I had left without incident and continued my errands.

According to the American Red Cross, my experience was the exception rather than the norm. Regardless, for me, it was worth a brief dizzy spell to help someone. If you are interested in more information, please check out the American Red Cross. Hopefully you will donate too.