Dismal Dirty Dungeon
We booked this hotel through the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts program. We’ve traveled around the world and never been disappointed by the service…..UNTIL NOW. When we arrived, we immediately knew something was wrong. The lobby was tired and tatty with dirt in the floor corners and open torn boxes behind the front desk. The clerk noted our reservation and assured us we had been upgraded. She was nice enough and escorted us to our room. Down a long long hallway with stained carpets and chipped paint on walls. It was not looking good..but she boasted that we had been placed in a newly remodeled room. When she open the door I immediately smelled a foul odor in a blast of cold air. The room was on the first floor above the trash bins. There were actually gnats buzzing about. But that was just the beginning. The floors, walls, and ceiling were black which made the minuscule room look even smaller than it was. Very depressing and dungeonesque. To make matters worse, the bed was flanked by two pendulum lamps hanging from 6 foot cords that swung about a foot from side to side from the breeze from the ac system. Reminded me of a Cold War interrogation room in an old movie. Horrific. We immediately complained but were told there were no other rooms available. We knew we could not stay in that room so we called American Express. They called the hotel. A half hour later, we were shown another room on the 4th floor. Small also, but a bit brighter and now 3 floors above the trash bins. Less gnats (further for them to fly), but very tired. Rips in the carpet, pealing paint in the bath, a rock hard bed on an awkward 4 inch step up, but we were so tired we accepted the accommodations. It really seemed like a cheap roadside motel room and not the luxury suite we were paying for. I could go on and on with more amusing disturbing tales of our two day sentence at the Caledonian, but I will leave the rest up to your imagination. We will be petitioning American Express to remove this substandard property from their list.
Our fantastic bartender on the Windstar happens to be a fab wannabe chef. He deserves a shot with his own restaurant. Go Casey!
2 1/2 Golden Spoons
I had such high expectations for this restaurant, located in Rome’s most luxurious and prestigious hotel. I was even more excited as we had cocktails in the lounge two nights in a row with spectacular bar snacks prepared by the chef. However, when we decided to actually have a full dinner at Brunello, the experience was less than disappointing. We were seated in a much too brightly lit dining room at a table with barrel chairs too short to eat at the table properly. We needed pillows on our seat and behind our backs just to be able to sit up. Bad sign of design.
We almost walked out at this point, yet were so impressed by our server, Sylvia, that we pressed on. The menu was intriguing. A long list of specialties including a unique authentic country style selection. Prices ran from about $25-$35 for starters with entrees in the $30-$50 range. Definitely on the upper end.
Gelato is a local speciality in Portoferraio Italy, a gorgeous little port known for its big iron mines and little exiled resident, Napoleon, who lived here for a short time. Ironic.
There are many reasons why the Regina Hotel Baglioni in Rome is considered one of the finest hotels in the world. They even make having a martini a luxurious experience. Believe it or not, a personal tray of delectables is complimentary with your drink. A petite prosciutto club sandwich, delicately fried potato fritters, and a shot of garbanzo balsamic soup with micro croutons. Sublime.
Traditional Bouillabaisse at a charming little seaside restaurant in Marseilles. Lobster, crab, shrimp, mussels, scorpion fish and more with a classic saffron bisque This serving was for two, and we couldn’t come close to finishing it even with the help of friends. Completely decadent afternoon in one of the most charming cities in the world.
5 Golden Spoons
Cruise ship cuisine often falls short but it is completely the opposite aboard the Windsurf, the world’s largest sailing ship. On our first night at sea just south of Barcelona, we dined at Stella Bistro on the star deck. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a team of service staff who warmly introduced themselves and escorted our party of four to our table. The ambiance was elegant but not pretentious and we had a lovely view of the sparkling coast. We were presented with an extensive menu that would delight even the most experienced foodie.
Honestly, I wanted every dish so making choices was quite a challenge. I opted to start with the house made wild boar pate which arrived on a toasted seasoned baguette chip atop a delightful frisée with a delicate mustard sauce. The pate was sweet and tart, country style with just the right amount of texture. A pure delight that melted in my mouth with a gorgeous vinegary finish. (more…)
Our first taste of tapas in Barcelona courtesy of two young ladies Kirstie and Becka from England. What a lovely and tasty surprise. Mussels in a tomato tapenade.