Friday, November 29, 2013


Sights & Sites
Wari-Bateshwar Ruins – near Dhaka; ancient fort city dating back to 450 BCE near old course of Brahmaputra River; perhaps ancient emporium “Sounagora” mentioned by Ptolemy in Geographia (other emporia mentioned include Arikamedu (India), Mantai (Sri Lanka), Kion Thom (Thailand), all of which were most ancient civilizations in their respective regions, each was river port, and all produced monochrome glass beads.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


(includes Atlixco, Cholula & Santa Maria Tonantzintla)

Museo Amparo Cafe – 2 Sur Centro Historico; 011-52-222-229-3850;; on rooftop; perhaps city’s most romantic spot; great coffee; open at 10:00 a.m.

El Breve Espacio – 8 North 7th Street (Centro); 011-52-222-246-2693;; “art” bar and cafe.
Hotel Puebla de Antano – 206 East 3rd Street (Centro); 011-52-222-246-2403;; rooftop bar with cathedral views.
La Pasita – 602 East 5th Street (on Plazuela de los Sapos) or 504 South 3rd Street; 011-52-222-232-4422;; oldest cantina in Puebla; not for mezcal or tequila shots; instead, barkeeps pour locally-made liqueurs, such as house’s namesake pasita (sweet raisin liqueur served with salty cheese cube & shriveled grape on toothpick in glass); all of its liqueurs distilled in same way they were at 20th Century’s beginning; popular, tiny hole-in-wall.
Profetica – 701 South 3rd Street (Centro); 011-52-222-246-9101;; great place to meet for drinks.
Sapito Pulquero – South 4th Street (between East 5th & 7th Avenues); pulqueria; flavored and plain pulque.
Utopia Belgian Pub – 1B East 9th Avenue (Centro); 011-52-222-130-4909;; 80 beer brands and Belgian pub food.

Casa Reyna – 1007 East 2nd Avenue, private (Centro); 011-52-222-232-0032;; 10 suites, colorful and modern; decorated with ceramics and vintage wooden furniture.
Hotel Puebla de Antano – 206 East 3rd Street (Centro); 011-52-222-246-2403;; 19 opulent suites and elegant French restaurant on ground floor; rooftop bar with cathedral views.
La Purificadora – 802 North Callejon de la 10 (Centro, Paseo de San Francisco, Barrio el Alto); former 19th Century water-purifying center (next to Iglesia de San Francisco); design by architects Ricardo Legorreta and his son Victor; black and white are only colors, bringing out construction materials' subtleties (stone from original building, old wood, onyx and custom floor tile, as well as found materials such as bottles and glass fragments, also integrated in hotel’s graphic design); minimalism shouldn’t be confused with lack of luxury: roof terrace and 30-metre pool; 26 guestrooms with spectacular city views; ground-floor restaurant, patio, library, and extensive wine cellar.

Barbacoa de Marcia – Avenida Independencia (Atlixco, at Mercado de Atlixco); slow-roasted mutton stall.
El Breve – 8 North 7th Street (Centro); 011-52-222-246-2693;; “art” bar and cafe.
Casona de la China Poblana – 2 North 4th Street (Centro); 011-52-222-242-5621;; in courtyard; Mexican breakfasts.
La Conjura – 201 East 9th Street; 011-52-222-232-9693; Spanish food; combinations of old- and new-world ingredients, such as chistorra (Spanish sausage) tapas; menu changes daily, with beef, lamb, and seafood; try arroz negro con calamares (rice with squid cooked in squid’s ink), huachinango en alberino (snapper in wine sauce topped with clams, mussels, and shrimp); attractive, small dining room with low, vaulted ceiling in former bodega.
Fonda la Mexicana – 706 Avenida 16th de Septiembre; 011-52-222-232-6747; unassuming eatery; great mole poblano; set lunch with few options; good-value Puebla and Oaxaca specialties.
Hotel Puebla de Antano – 206 East 3rd Street (Centro); 011-52-222-246-2403;; elegant French restaurant.
Mural de los Poblanos – 506 Calle 16 de Septiembre (Centro Historico); 011-52-222-242-0503;; attractive, elegant restaurant; archways trimmed with orange, wood beamed ceiling, tile floor, abundance potted greenery, antique mirrors in ornately carved wood frames, and black wrought iron lanterns gracing tiled and stucco walls that illuminate large-scale mural dominating 1 wall; in addition to fine wine list, restaurant has excellent spirits selection, including mezcals and tequilas; excellent, traditional poblano dishes; house specialty is 5 mole types.
Museo Amparo Cafe – 2 Sur Centro Historico; 011-52-222-229-3850;; on rooftop; perhaps city’s most romantic spot.
Profetica – 701 South 3rd Street (Centro); 011-52-222-246-9101;; great place to meet for breakfast.
Las Ranas – 102 West 2nd Avenue; 011-52-222-242-4734; for tacos arabes (marinated pork on flatbread); Lebanese-Mexican.
Taqueria la Oriental – 14th South Avenue; 011-52-222-248-2631;; 77 years in operation; old favorite; have tacos arabes.

All About Puebla –; English-language website that is best source for event, festival, and food news.

Legendaria – 207 East 5th Avenue (Centro); 011-52-222-246-3311; hand-rolled puros cigars.
Manos de la Tierra – 4 South 6th Street (Centro); 011-52-222-447-7346;; silversmith.
La Pasita – 602 East 5th Street (on Plazuela de los Sapos) or 504 South 3rd Street; 011-52-222-232-4422;; oldest cantina in Puebla; not for mezcal or tequila shots; instead, barkeeps pour locally-made liqueurs, such as house’s namesake pasita (sweet raisin liqueur served with salty cheese cube & shriveled grape on toothpick in glass); all of its liqueurs distilled in same way they were at 20th Century’s beginning; popular, tiny hole-in-wall.
Profetica – 701 South 3rd Street; 011-52-222-246-9101;; bookstore-library in sprawling 16th Century house.
Siuamej Puebla Crafts Cooperative – Avenida Palafox y 206 Mendoza; 011-52-222-232-3694; traditional textiles made by women; look for quechquemitls (embroidered poncho-looking things) made with natural dyes and woven on backstrap looms, and distinctive tapestries.
Talavera de la Reyna – 2413 Camino a la Carcana (Recta a Cholula); 011-52-222-225-4132;; ceramics workshop.
Tierra Verde – 601 East 5th Avenue (Centro, Plazuela de los Sapos);; non-profit; for Pop Art a la Mexicana.

Barrio del Artista – North 6th Street y North 6th Avenue; 011-52-222-242-4029;; in 1940, brothers Jose and Angel Figueroa Marquez were part of student group that endorsed outdoor painting; they founded this arts district; tacky yet lovely evening scene, if only for drinks and live music.
Biblioteca Palafoxiana – 5 East 5th Avenue (Casa de Cultura); 011-52-222-777-2581;; New World’s 1st public library, founded in 1646.
Capilla del Arte – 6 North 2nd Street (Centro); 011-52-222-242-2808;; University of Americas’s loft-like gallery.
Capilla San Juan de Letran (El Hopitalito) – 2nd Avenue South at 7th Avenue East (Centro); 011-52-222-232-9134;; austere; decorated with wooden statute that tell Christ story in gory fashion.
Capilla de San Miguel – Cerro de San Miguel (Atlixco); nice walk to 18th Century chapel.
Cholula Pyramid – San Pedro Cholula; known as Tlachihualtepetl (Nahuatl for “artificial mountain”); New World’s largest archaeological site; traditionally viewed as dedicated to Quetzalcoatl; architectural style linked to Teotihuacan and El Tajín.
Church of Santa Maria Tonantzintla – Avenida Reforma Norte, plaza (Santa Maria Tonantzintla, 3 miles south of Cholula); 16th Century church’s exterior relatively simple, but inside color and swirling shape explosion; to facilitate local conversions, Franciscan monks incorporated elements recalling local goddess Tonantzin cult in chapel’s ornamentation; result is jewel of style known as Churrigueresque; polychrome wood-and-stucco carvings, columns, altarpieces, and main archway completed in late 17th Century; carvings, set off by ornate gold-leaf figures (angels, plant forms, and saints) made by local craftspeople.
Fototeca Juan C. Méndez – 15 East 7th Street; 011-52-222-246-3165; exhibits photography in 2-story house.
Galeria del Palacio – 12 Portal Hidalgo (Centro); 011-52-222-409-7424;; contemporary art.
Iglesia Santo Domingo & Capilla del Rosario – 5 de Mayo at 4 Poniente; 011-222-242-3643;; completed in 1660; strikingly understated exterior belies extraordinary Mexican Baroque interior of Capilla del Rosario (left of transept); profuse gilding and interlacing in stuccoed wood celebrates Virgin of Rosary (who brings Christians rosary) worshipped by Dominicans.
Mercado de Atlixco – Avenida Independencia (Atlixco); food stalls.
Mercado de Sabores Poblanos – between North 11th & 13th Streets and West 4th & 6th Avenues; food stalls dedicated to indigenous Poblano cooking.
Museo de la Talavera Alarca – lateral sur Recta a Cholula (Cholula); 011-52-222-225-4058;; pairs contemporary artists’s work with that of traditional artisans to create gorgeous sculptures; museum store sells some of highest-quality work around.
Museo Amparo – 2 Sur Centro Historico; 011-52-222-229-3850;; among country’s most impressive indigenous and colonial era artifact collections.
Museo Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Mexicanos – 1005 North 11th Street (Centro); 011-52-222-774-0105;; Sundays are free; outdoor train museum; retired rail cars and steam engines rest on lawn beside former terminal; impressive photography collection documents train lines and railway workers’ lives.
Paseo Bravo – South 11th Street (between West 11th y Reforma Avenidas); among city’s most central spot; founded in 17th Century as alternative neighborhood to Village Center (because outside Spanish influence); originally, 5 blocks that covered large housing estates; monument commemorates Nicolas Bravo; park located opposite Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Bars & Nightclubs
Oloffson – 60 Christophe Avenue; 011-509-2223-4000;; lively, sociable expat hangout.
Hotel Oloffson – 60 Christophe Avenue; 011-509-2223-4000;; immortalized as Hotel Trianon in Graham Greene’s Comedians; elegant gingerbread building, tricked out with paintings and Vodou flags; sadly, fixtures, rooms & service don’t quite live up to cost.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Design Center – 6 Kalai Fatullah; 011-93-799-888-123;; carpets cover floor and candles fill recesses; overhead, amber, pale green & turquoise lamps shed festive air; order mint lemonade; limited menu accessible to Americans.
Design Center – 6 Kalai Fatullah; 011-93-799-888-123;; local and imported home design products.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


(includes Waiheke Island)


Moustache Milk & Cookie Bar – 12 Wellesley Street West;; coffee, cookies & ice cream.
Theatre Coffee Co. – 256 Karangahape Road; 011-64-09-303-0501;

Fukuko – 43 Tyler Street (at Britomart); 011-64-09-300-5275;; Asian-themed cocktail bar that also serves small plates.
Golden Dawn – 134 Ponsonby Road (Ponsonby); 011-64-09-376-9929;; perhaps best bar in town; excellent outdoor courtyard, weather permitting; good beer selection.
Xuxu – Levy Building (corner Commerce & Galway Streets, at Britomart); 011-64-09-309-5529;; table-service bar serving small southeast Asian plates & inventive cocktails (try Chanh Bac Ha, Vietnamese mojitos).

Mollies – 6 Tweed Street (St. Mary’s Bay); 011-64-09-378-6592;; small luxury hotel in central business district.

Café Hanoi – Levy Building (corner Commerce & Galway Streets, at Britomart); 011-64-09-302-3478;; old-Hanoi atmosphere; Vietnamese cuisine.
Depot – 86 Federal Street; 011-64-09-363-7048;; seafood-centric bistro.
Meredith’s – 365 Dominion Road (Mt. Eden); 011-64-09-623-3140;; formal tasting menu only; cozy.
Theatre Coffee Co. – 256 Karangahape Road; 011-64-09-303-0501;; great breakfasts.
Toru – 136-138 Ponsonby Road, Shop 3 (Ponsonby, at Ponsonby Central); 011-64-09-555-1229; ‎; new complex packed with restaurants and shops, including bakery & organic market; lunch cafe; pressed sandwiches & fries.

Iko Iko – 195 Karangahape Road (Newton); 011-64-09-358-0220;; delightful Kiwi-kitsch.
Juliette Hogan – 170 Ponsonby Road; 011-64-09-360-9347;; floral print women’s wear in modern styling.
Kate Sylvester – 134 Ponsonby Road (Ponsonby); 011-64-09-360-5283;; colorful women’s fashion.
Maaike + Co. – fashion arcade for men and women; New Zealand labels.
Parnell Farmers’ Market – 545 Parnell Road (Grafton-Parnell); 011-64-09-555-5154;
Ponsonby Central – 136-138 Ponsonby Road (Ponsonby); 011-64-09-376-8300;‎; new complex packed with restaurants and shops, including bakery & organic market.
Toi Gallery – 145 Ocean View Road (Waiheke Island); 011-64-27-773-2975;

Albert Park – bounded by Wellesley Street East, Princes Street, Bowen Avenue & Kitchener Street; 011-64-09-979-7070;; occupies much Albert Barracks’ original site (early European military fortification, in turn built on Te Horotiu pa original site); barracks converted into public park in 1880s; beneath park are Albert Park tunnels (built in 1941 to be used as air raid shelters, but sealed up after WWII & generally forgotten); lies beside site of 1 of earliest volcanoes in Auckland Volcanic Field; from entrance at corner of Bowen Avenue & Kitchener Street, sealed footpaths climb steeply through native trees to large flat area at summit, where flower gardens encircle fountain; to north of 1881 cast-iron fountain is 1897 bronze Queen Victoria statue; to south is 1901 bandstand; large 1953 floral clock lies near Princes Street exit; marble Boer War memorial & Sir George Grey statue, relocated to this spot.
Auckland Art Gallery – corner Kitchener & Wellesley Streets; 011-64-09-307-7700;; extensive international & national art collection; many turn-of-century Maori portraits.
Auckland Domain & Museum – Park Road (Grafton, near Parnell Farmers’ Market); 011-64-09-379-9956 (Auckland Museum);; 185-acre park southeast of city; paths and wooded areas; city’s oldest park; includes Wintergardens & Auckland War Memorial Museum (actually not limited to war but encompasses all New Zealand history); formal gardens, duck ponds & extinct volcano that forms natural amphitheater; 1913-1914 Great Industrial Exhibition contains idealized New Zealand house, 1912 band rotunda & statuary.
Cable Bay Vineyards – 12 Nick Johnston Drive (Waiheke Island, Oneroa); 011-64-09-372-5889;
Gibbs Farm –; private sculpture garden, open monthly by prior appointment only; must arrange by email; 1K acres owned by Alan Gibbs (among New Zealand’s wealthiest men); his private art park; features massive sculptures by 22 of world’s most famous artists, works incorporated into unique landscape; property itself dominated by Kaipara Harbor (Southern hemisphere’s largest harbor), which occupies entire western horizon; water is quite shallow so when tide goes out, shallows are exposed for several kms and light shimmies and bounces off it across land.
Mt. Eden Garden – 24 Omana Avenue (Epsom); 011-64-09-638-8395;; peaceful sanctuary; 5.5-acre garden; plant collections include bromeliads, camellias, perennials & vireyas; rock formations & waterfalls; resident native birds; city & harbor views.
Sky Tower – corner Federal & Victoria Streets; 011-64-09-363-6000;; basically, Auckland’s “Space Needle.”
Waiheke Island – accessible by ferry;; 35 square mile island; artist’s colony.
Waiheke Community Art Gallery – 2 Korora Road (Waiheke Island, Oneroa); 011-64-09-372-9907;

Saturday, July 20, 2013


(includes Montebuono di Magione, Montegabbione, Olmo, Passignano sul Trasimeno & Solomeo)

Cioccolateria Augusta Perusia – 2 Via Pinturicchio; 011-39-075-573-4577;; ice cream; try Raffaello (coconut-white chocolate).
La Fonte Maggiore – 3 Via della Gabbia; 011-39-075-573-2939; ice cream that focuses on rich, chocolate flavors distinguished by cocoa content.
Pasticceria Sandri – 32 Corso Vannuci; 011-39-075-572-4112; Swiss café since 1860; chandeliers hang fro vaulted, mural-covered ceiling; Perugian landmark; wood-paneled setting.

La Bottega del Vino – 1 Via del Sole; 011-39-075-571-6181;; jazz club & wine bar.
Gus – 19 Via Mazzini; 011-39-075-573-4365; outdoor tables perfect for glass prosecco during break from passeggiata along Corso Vannuci (city’s main drag); prime people-watching.
Osteria a Priori – 39 Via dei Priori; 011-39-075-572-7098;; small restaurant with tiny streetside patio that is good place for post-dinner drink.
Il Punto di Vista – 2 Via Indipendenza; 011-39-339-662-0326; go for sunset and sit at outdoor table while having glass of wine and looking out over Umbrian hills.

Borgo Mondoleto Country Hotel – 15 Strada Mandoleto; 011-39-075-529-3119;; surrounded by Tuscan countryside, near Empoli, Florence & Prato; 22 apartments & suites (with kitchens) for both short and long stays; made from farmhouses, Borgo built in 17th Century; fully equipped with all modern conveniences, as well as electronic system that controls guests’ functioning and safety; set in ancient park.
Locanda Solomeo Country House – 1 Via Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa (Solomeo); 011-39-075-529-3119;; ancient country residence transformed into charming country resort; restaurant; 12 elegantly furnished rooms.
Castello di Monterone – 3 Strada Montevile; 011-39-075-572-4214;; crenellated, 13th Century castle; small but fit for princess; 18 rooms set smong manicured courtyards, stone terraces, fragrant rose gardens; 2 onsite restaurants, and swimming pool; great views.
Hotel Brufani Palace – 12 Piazza Italia; 011-39-075-573-2541;; at Corso Vannuci’s end; 94 elegantly styled rooms; sweeping countryside views; basement level, glass-bottom pool exposing Etruscan ruins below.
Hotel Faliero – Via Case Sparse (Montebuono di Magione, on Lago Trasimeno); 011-39-075-847-6528;; no frills complex on lake.
Hotel La Rosetta – 19 Piazza Italia; 011-39-075-572-0841;; briskly efficient and impeccably central; higher-priced rooms have magnificent views.

Alter Ego – 2 Via Floramonti; 011-39-075-572-9527; oddly and unnecessarily chic but excellent food.
Faliero – Via Case Sparse (Montebuono di Magione, on Lago Trasimeno); 011-39-075-847-6528;; no frills trattoria frequented by Bruno Cucinelli’s employees; try torta al testo.
Osteria Macoma – Strada Fontana La Trinità (Olmo); 011-39-075-518-1053;; eclectic, Cucinelli-family favorite.
Osteria a Priori – 39 Via dei Priori; 011-39-075-572-7098;; small restaurant dedicated to Umbrian-sourced products.
Il Postale – 3 Strada Montevile; 011-39-075-572-4214;; Perugia’s only Michelin starred restaurant; 4 small tables in frescoed dining room in stone castle; modern menu; not prohibitive.
Ristorante Il Cantinone – 6 Via Ritorta; 011-39-075-573-4430; excellent pizza just few steps from duomo.
Ristorante la Taverna – 8 Via Streghe; 011-39-075-572-4128;; classic Umbrian food.
Trattoria da Faliero – 23 Via Case Sparse (Montebuono di Magione); 011-39-075-847-6528;; simple roadside spot overlooking water; short on signage but legendary among locals for its speciality, torta al testo, filled warm flatbread.
Vecchia Perusia – 9 Via Ulisse Rocchi; 011-39-075-572-5900; also known as "Da Franky" (owner is wisecracking guy known as "Franky Banana"); great food; try strangozzi (thick-noodle spaghetti).

Umbria in Vespa – 42 Via Case Sparse (San Savino); 011-39-075-843-062;; on Lake Trasimeno; good way to see lake environs.

Cucinelli Outlet Store – 6 Piazza Alberto Dalla Chiesa (Solomeo); 011-39-075-529-4855;; cashmere.
Mastri Carte Editori – 77 Via dei Priori; 011-39-075-572-5549;; everything decoupage, from minimalist lampshades to elaborate rocking horses.
Osteria a Priori – 39 Via dei Priori; 011-39-075-572-7098;; small speciality food shop dedicated to Umbrian-sourced products.

Capella di San Severo – Piazza Raffaello; 011-39-075-573-3864;; includes fresco by Pietro Vannuci (Perugino) and his pupil, Raphael.
Cathedral of San Lorenzo – Piazza IV Novembre; 011-39-075-572-3832; although church on this land since 900s, current version begun in 1345 from designs created by Fra Bevignate in 1300; building continued until 1587; doorway built in late 1700s; main facade never completed; inside, dramatic Gothic architecture, altarpiece by Signorelli, and sculptures by Duccio.
Ecclesiastical Museum of Umbria – 7 Via Beato Lodovico da Casoria; 011-39-347-874-0224;
Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria – 19 Corso Vannuci; 011-39-075-5866-8410;; Umbrian art kept in Palazzo dei Priori, grand stone building dating to 13th Century.
Lake Trasimeno – 10 Piazza Mazzini (Passignano sul Trasimeno, Servizio Turistico Territoriale del Trasimeno); 011-39-075-965-2484;; 10 miles outside of town; entry fee; hiking; Italy’s 4th largest lake (after Garda).
Perugia Chocolates – 47 Via San Sisto; 011-39-075-527-6796;; on town’s outskirts; offers tours.
Piazza IV Novembre – central square on which Cathedral and fountain dominate.
Pozzo Etrusco – 18 Piazza Danti; 011-39-075-573-3669;; eerie Etruscan well that dates to 3rd Century BC.
Rocca Paolina Fortress – Piazza Italia; 011-39-075-572-5778;; spooky, well-preserved medieval street warren that spreads out as city below current city.
La Scarzuola – Frazione Montegiove (Montegabbione); 011-39-076-383-7463;; by appointment only; located on dirt road next to former Franciscan convent; home to Roman-style buildings, theaters, villas, etc., modeled on Acropolis; surreal; by appointment only.
Il Teatro Cucinelli – 1 Via Giovine Italia (Solomeo); 011-39-075-529-4506;; concerts & plays.


Panificio del Ghetto di Giovanni Bianchini – 167 Via Zuccarelli; 011-39-056-461-4182; for sfratti (stick-shaped biscuits filled with ground walnuts, honey, nutmeg, and orange peel).

Bar Centrale – 22 Piazza Della Repubblica; 011-39-056-461-7021.
One Bar Il Ghetto – 47 Via Zuccarelli; 011-39-056-461-5031.

Albergo Guastini – 4 Piazza F. Petruccioli; 01-39-056-461-4106;; only old town hotel; some rooms have magnificent views.
Il Tufo Rosa di Pavolini Annalisa – 97-101 Piazza F. Petruccioli; 011-39-056-461-7019;; 6 rooms in restored, “old town” house.

Ristorante Guastini – 4 Piazza F. Petruccioli; 01-39-056-461-4106;; terrific.
Hostaria del Ceccottino – 64 Piazza San Gregorio VII; 011-39-056-461-4273;; outdoor tables; good local food; try local wine, bianco de Pitigliano.
Trattoria La Chiave del Paradiso – 209 Via Vignoli; 011-39-056-461-4141; lovely location, excellent pasta; outdoor seating; popular with locals.

Little Jerusalem Association – Vicolo Marghera; 011-39-056-461-4230;; Pitigliano was home to Jews, possibly from 15th Century’s end; important refuge center; constructed temple in 1598; changing economic and social conditions determined constant, slow emigration of Pitigliano Jews towards cities and bigger centers; during war, many Jews saved by local population; organization promotes conservation of Jewish monuments (Synagogue, ritual bath, kosher cellar, kosher butcher, unleavened bread bakery, dye-works, cemetery, and Jewish museum).
Rafaella Agresti – 59D Piazza Fortezza Orsini; 011-39-347-055-8178;; tour guide with excellent English.

Church of San Rocco – Via Generale Orsini (at town end, near Porta di Sovana); has own charm that stems from incredible marble worked exterior and unique frescoes; dates to 12th or 13th Century; rose-colored exterior; on left outside wall carved low relief from 12th Century, showing nobleman with his thrust into 2 dragons’ mouths.
Jewish Cemetery – Strada Provinciale del Pantano (beyond Meleta Stream, which borders village to south); goes back to 16th Century’s 2nd half, when Count Niccolò IV Orsini gave small land parcel to his personal Jewish doctor, Davide De Pomis, who buried his wife there.
Jewish Museum of Culture – 16 Via Firenze; 011-39-056-461-6006;; remains of ritual bathing basins, wine cellar, kosher butcher shop and bakery, and restored synagogue, where religious services still held on Sabbath.
Alberto Manzi Open Air Archeological Museum – Strada Provinciale del Pantano (Cava del Gradone); 011-39-056-461-4067, 011-39-056-461-4074, or 011-39-347-796-8901 (call for tour);; educational museum; protects archeological site (Etruscan funerary monuments) from general deterioration and vandalism; guides explain how city was built over centuries, starting from Bronze Age; original round huts and Etruscan houses with 3 rooms and porticos; also underground “city of dead” and Etruscan Gradone necropolis with its various tombs.
Old Jewish Quarter (Ghetto) – well-preserved and can walk around for about 3 hours.
Orsini Palace – 25 Piazza Fortezza Orsini; 011-39-056-461-6074;; palace museum with several rooms featuring paintings by Zuccarelli (born in Pitigliano in 1702); also, Madonna carved in wood by Jacopo della Quercia (1371/74-1438), 14th Century crucifix, & numismatic collection.
Synagogue – Vicolo Marghera; 011-39-056-461-4230;
Parco Archeologico Città del Tufo (Vie Caves) – Sovana (from here walk 10 minutes (under 1 km) to archaeological park entrance or drive out of town, along narrow paved road following signs for Saturnia); 011-39-056-461-4074;; network of “roads” that radiate out from Pitigliano; seems to be infrastructure that links landscape to nearby towns, and incorporates religious sites and necropolis; perhaps specially designed channels to bring water from planes to valleys, strategic enemy-proof roads, ceremonial paths, or simple roads for transportation of goods and information; given width (hardly enough for cart) and fact that they were not paved, probably not for transporting vast amounts of goods.


(includes Chiusdino & Pievescola)

Nannini – 24 Via Banchi di Sopra; 011-39-057-730-3080;; for baked goods and espresso at stand-up bar; try ricciarelli (soft, almond-based cookies with crunchy tops and honey-vanilla flavor.

Bar Il Palio – 47 Piazza del Campo; 011-39-057-728-2055; great for outside, after-dinner drinks with people-watching views.
Da Trombicche – 66 Via del Terme; 011-39-057-728-8089;; 1 Euro spritzes at aperitivo time.
Un Tubo – 2 Via del Luparello; 011-39-057-727-1312;; live music club; wine cantina; members’ club but can pay entrance fee.

Hotel Borgo San Felice – Castelnuovo Berardenga; 011-39-057-735-9260;; beautiful location looking over Chianti countryside; excellent restaurant; beautiful rooms with lovely views.
Borgo Santo Pietro – Localite Palazzetto (Chiusdino); 011-39-057-775-1222;; 35-minute drive from Siena; 11-room hotel; 13 acres of lush gardens; 13th Century villa; 1 room spa; excellent food.
Borgo Scopeto – 14 Strada Comunale; 011-39-057-732-0001;; 10 miles out of town; rural feel; 2 pool, spa, and tennis courts; view, especially at night, lovely.
Campo Regio Relais – 25 Via della Sapienza; 011-39-057-722-2073;; excellent location outside main tourist fray but within major sites’ walking distance; Duomo panorama; friendly service.
Casa Fabbri – 9 Strada di Cetinale (Sovicille); 011-39-057-731-1147;; old Tuscan cottage that sits alone in olive grove on Montagnola Senese edge beside “Thebaid” (“Holy Wood”); property has private entrance to wood, with famous statues by Guiseppe Mazzuolil where Cardinal Flavio Chigi would spend much time in quiet contemplation; following recent renovation, property now includes 3 double bedrooms, each with own bathroom, as well as swimming pool & dining terrace with excellent views to south, towards Monte Amiata.
La Cerbaia – 9 Strada di Cetinale (Sovicille); 011-39-057-731-1147;; farmhouse at Montagnola Senese’s foot on Villa Cetinale estate; situated at end of private road between “Thebaid” (“Holy Wood”) & gardens; entirely independent with own garden & terrace and large swimming pool equipped with umbrellas and sunbeds; what was once pigsty has been converted into huge, well-equipped kitchen, dining room with table that seats up to 16 & living room with fireplace; pizza oven & ping pong; satellite tv, dvd player & stereo; sleeps 12/13.
Relais La Suvera – Via della Suvera (Pievescola); 011-39-057-796-0300;; featured in Trip to Italy; perched on hillside covered with forests & vineyards; view over Senese Chianti valley; few kilometers from medieval Colle Val d’Elsa; building has medieval origins, owned by Countess Ava Matilde de Franzosi, related to France King Clovis; looks like small village where Villa Papale is central pivot; around it is church dedicated to San Carlo Borromeo; extensive Italian garden, with statues, fountains & leafy trees; 32 rooms, 7 suites & 5 doubles in Villa Papale, all with history setting; 9 suites & 11 doubles in old farm & stables; every room in Villa Papale has special name tied to historical personage; modern health club; restaurant “L’Oliviera” located in old mill; outdoor heated pool with whirlpool.
Villa Cetinale Gardens – 9 Strada di Cetinale (Sovicille); 011-39-057-731-1147;

Enoteca I Terzi – 7 Via dei Termini; 011-39-057-744-329;; for bistecca Fiorentina (grilled steak from prized Chianina breed); excellent wine list.
Osteria le Logge – 33 Via del Porrione; 011-39-057-748-013;; housed in former pharmacy, with beautiful open kitch; just off campo; be sure to ask for table in ground-floor sala with painted ceilings and armoires lined with wine bottles.
Poggio Rosso – Castelnuovo Berardenga (at Hotel Borgo San Felice); 011-39-057-735-9260;; perfect Tuscan dishes; try steak Florentine.
Tre Cristi – 1/7 Vicolo di Provenzano; 011-39-057-728-0608;; fresh seafood from Tuscan coast; open since 1830; inventive; try calamari Eggplant parmesan.
Da Trombicche – 66 Via del Terme; 011-39-057-728-8089;; Osteria-type lunch place; simple with tables crammed with friends and plates that don’t stop coming; only 7 tables.

Castel Monastero – 19 Monastero d’Ombrone; 011-39-057-757-0001;; spa.

Antica Pizzacheria – 93/95 Via di Citta (in Palazzo della Chigiana); 011-39-057-728-9164; atmospheric deli with picnic offerings.
Dolci Trame – 4 Via del Moro; 011-39-057-746-168;; wonderful, if pricey, women’s clothing.
Mag – 49 Via dei Termini; 011-39-057-741-043;; fashion lovers’ must.

Monteriggioni – beautifully preserved village with watch towers.
Museo Civico – 1 Piazza Il Campo; 011-39-057-729-2615;; frescoes by, for example, Simone Martini and Ambrogio Lorenzetti (Sala della Pace and Allegory of Good & Bad Government); climb to adjacent Torre Mangia’s top for tremendous countryside view.
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo – 8 Piazza Duomo; 011-39-057-728-6300;; unfinished cathedral portion (would have been nave); make sure to see Maesta (spectacular, 2-sided altarpiece designed by Duccio, considered by some to be most important late medieval artwork).
Museum of Art of Chianciano – 280 Viale della Liberta (Chianciano Terme, outside Siena); 011-39-057-860-732;; Dali, Delacroix, Goya, Magritte, Munch, Rembrandt, and Tiepolo; also modern shows and works.
Piazza del Campo – center; ideal Italian palazza in front of city’s exquisite town hall.
San Galgano – 40 miles from Siena; Benedictine Abbey; now roofless; evocative.
Santa Maria della Scala – 1 Piazza Duomo; 011-39-057-753-4571;; built as 11th Century hospital, transformed into enormous complex; includes archeological museum.
Villa Cetinale Gardens – 9 Strada di Cetinale (Sovicille); 011-39-057-731-1147;; originally built in 1680 on Etruscan settlement ruins, was transformed into Roman Baroque villa for Pope Alexander VII; lovely designed garden with climbing roses, vine-covered pergolas, antique statues & Scala Santa (“Holy Stair”) said to be “epitome of garden design” & among most beautiful in Italy; arrange visit in advance.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


(includes Leith, Linlithgow, North Berwick & Roslin)

Elephant House – 21 George IV Bridge (Old City); 011-44-0131-220-5355;; where J.K. Rowling wrote much of her Harry Potter books; average coffeehouse fare but lovely castle views from back room.
Urban Angel – 121 Hanover Street (Central/New Town); 011-44-0131-225-6215;; for baked goods & coffee or tea.

Cafe Royal Bar & Oyster Bar – 19 West Register Street (New Town); 011-44-0131-556-1884;; 140 years-old; Victorian touches remain; ground-level Circle Bar is open throughout day; bar highlight is notable inventors’ tile pictures collection.
Deacon Brodie’s Tavern – 435 Lawnmarket (Old City); 011-44-0131-225-6531;; named after character upon whom Robert Louis Stevenson based Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.
Doric – 15-16 Market Street (Old Town); 011-44-0131-225-1084;; among city’s oldest pubs; 50 different single malt whiskies or Edinburgh-brewed ales on tap; built in 17th Century (originally as linen shop); promotes fresh local produce to supplement food menu, but also has traditional pub fare.
Gillie Dhu – 2 Rutland Place (West End); 011-44-0131-222-9930;; traditional Scottish pub.
G&V Bar – 1 George IV Bridge (Old Town, at G&V Royal Mile Hotel Edinburgh); 011-44-0131-220-6666;; fancy.
Monteiths – 61 High Street (Old Town); 011-44-0131-557-0330;; modern mixology at high level; atmosphere is cross between speakeasy & private club; loud but in good way.
Shore – 3 Shore (Leith, at Fishers Restaurant); 011-44-0131-554-5666;; old, wood-paneled pub overlooking Water of Leith.

Balmoral – 1 Princes Street (Central/New Town); 011-44-0131-556-2414;; old world luxury; unreasonably expensive.
Hotel du Vin Edinburgh – 11 Bristo Place (Old Town); 011-44-0131-285-1479;; affordable; 1739 stone building with decidedly modern interior; great restaurant.
George Hotel – 19-21 George Street (Central/New Town); 011-44-0131-225-1251;; 5 connected, 1757 townhouses; average restaurant.
Glasshouse – 2 Greenside Lane (Rosewell); 011-44-0131-525-8200;; chic hotel with bright, stylish rooms & suites feature free WiFi, iPod docks & Nespresso machines; upgraded rooms add access to rooftop terrace, bottled water & minibars; suites have sitting rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows & wraparound terraces or luxury bathroom with walk-in showers; high-end restaurant serves locally sourced Scottish fare, as well as afternoon tea; rooftop has 2-acre garden/terrace.
Le Monde – 16 George Street (Central/New Town); 011-44-0131-270-3900;; occupying handsome 19th Century stone building on George Street; ask for Marrakech, Miami, Paris, or Rio de Janeiro rooms.
21212 Restaurant With Rooms – 3 Royal Terrace (Broughton & Calton); 011-44-0131-523-1030;; modern, refined rooms in Georgian townhouse, set above fine-dining restaurant & chic lounge.

Cafe Royal Bar & Oyster Bar – 19 West Register Street (New Town); 011-44-0131-556-1884;; 140 years-old; Victorian touches remain; main menu offers more than just oysters (langoustines, lobsters & salmon), as well as beef & rabbit; closes after lunch & reopens for dinner, but ground-level Circle Bar open throughout day; bar highlight is notable inventors’ tile pictures collection.
Dogs – 110 Hanover Street (Central/New Town); 011-44-0131-220-1208;; gastropub; serves Scottish favorites, like steak & mushroom pie, haggis, black pudding & bacon hash with duck egg; some vegetarian options, oddly.
Elephant House – 21 George IV Bridge (Old City); 011-44-0131-220-5355;; where J.K. Rowling wrote much of her Harry Potter books; average coffeehouse fare but lovely castle views from back room.
Gardener’s Cottage – 1 Royal Terrace Gardens (East End, below Calton Hill, enter from London Road); 011-44-0131-558-1221;; 19th Century building that once housed actual gardener for Royal Terrace Gardens; seasonal dishes at 3 communal tables.
Monteiths – 61 High Street (Old Town); 011-44-0131-557-0330;; modern spins on traditional Scots food; off Royal Mile down old-world “vennel,” under welcoming wicker fairy light arch; cozy bar area, decked with ‘tartanalia’; drinks take as much center stage as food; little dining room in back feels crowded in Medieval architecture sense; atmosphere is cross between speakeasy & private club; loud but in good way; really imaginative Scottish food & charming service make all that slip away from your consciousness; try haggis bon bons with Bloody Mary jam.
Mussel Inn – 65, 61 Rose Street (Central/New Town); 011-44-0843-289-2481;; informal, lively, seafood bistro.
Outsider Brasserie – 15 George IV Bridge (Old Town); 011-44-0131-226-3131;; whitewashed walls & minimalist décor; Edinburgh Castle views; mostly Mediterranean menu; reservations recommended.
Stac Polly Restaurant – 29-33 Dublin Street (Central/New Town); 011-44-0131-556-2231;; ground-floor brasserie & fine-dining restaurant in stone cellars, serving Modern Scottish cuisine.
Stac Polly Restaurant – 38 St. Mary’s Street (Old Town); 011-44-0131-557-5754;; best Scottish food.
Terrace Café – 20 Inverleith Row (Stockbridge/Dean Village, at Royal Botanic Garden); 011-44-0131-552-0606;; for afternoon tea, weather permitting.
Urban Angel – 121 Hanover Street (Central/New Town); 011-44-0131-225-6215;; for lunch; bright blonde wood bistro emphasising fair trade, organic & locally-sourced ingredients.
Witchery by Castle – Castlehill (at Royal Mile); 011-44-0131-225-5613;; mostly for atmosphere; like eating in a medieval private club; next to Edinburgh.

Iain J. Mellis Cheesemonger – 6 Bakers Place (Stockbridge); 011-44-0131-225-6566;; make sure to try Grimbister (crumbly, slightly lemon-y Orkney farmhouse cheese) & Bishop Kennedy (slightly peaty, velvety, unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese).
Iain J. Mellis Cheesemonger – 330 Morningside Road (Morningside); 011-44-0131-447-8889;; make sure to try Grimbister (crumbly, slightly lemon-y Orkney farmhouse cheese) & Bishop Kennedy (slightly peaty, velvety, unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese).
Iain J. Mellis Cheesemonger – 30A Victoria Street (Old Town); 011-44-0131-226-6215;; make sure to try Grimbister (crumbly, slightly lemon-y Orkney farmhouse cheese) & Bishop Kennedy (slightly peaty, velvety, unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese).
Jenners of Edinburgh – 48 Princes Street (Central/New Town); 011-44-0131-225-2442;; department store in late 1800s, remarkable Victorian building with glass roofing.

Arthur’s Seat – Holyrood Park (Central/New City, on Queen’s Drive); 011-44-0744-365-8890;; main peak of hill group that forms most of Holyrood Park, described by Robert Louis Stevenson as “hill for magnitude, mountain in virtue of its bold design”; beautiful views.
Bass Rock – Harbour (North Berwick, at Scottish Seabird Centre); 011-44-0162-089-0202;; Bass Rock is island in outer part Firth of Forth; approximately 1.2 miles offshore; steep-sided volcanic rock, 351' at highest point; home to large gannet colony (150K); currently uninhabited, but historically settled by early Christian hermit; later site of important castle, which after Commonwealth period used as prison.
Calton Hill – central city (just east of New Town);; tremendous views of & from, often used in photographs.
Edinburgh Castle – Castle Hill (Old Town); 011-44-0131-225-9846;; worth seeing are Great Hall, Royal Palace, St. Margaret’s Chapel & Camera Obscura; can be ridiculously crowded; claustrophobic in crown jewels room.
Linlithgow Palace – off M9 (Sulisker, Boghall Linlithgow, 15 miles outside Edinburgh); 011-44-0150-684-2896;; 20-minute pleasant train ride from Waverly Station; palace overlooks Loch Linlithgow, with huge grounds ideal for picnicking; where Mary Stuart born in 1542.
National Museum of Scotland – Chambers Street (Old Town); 011-44-0300-123-6789;; recently renovated; diverse exhibits encompass Scottish history, natural world, science, art & design; also cloned sheep, Dolly, preserved by taxidermy.
Palace of Holyroodhouse (& Holyrood Abbey) – Cannongate, Royal Mile (Central/New City, Horse Wynd); 011-44-0303-123-7306;; royal family’s official residence; even more famous as 16th Century home of ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots; tour highlight is Mary’s Bed Chamber, her home from 1561-67, where her jealous 1st husband, Lord Darnley, restrained pregnant queen while his henchmen murdered her secretary & favorite, Rizzio (plaque marks spot where he bled to death; 89 portraits of Scottish kings (commissioned by Charles II, supposedly record his unbroken lineage from Scota, Egyptian pharaoh's daughter who discovered infant Moses in reed basket on Nile River’s banks); includes ruins of Holyrood Abbey.
Parliament – Parliament Square (Old Town); 011-44-0131-348-5200;; home to pre-Union Parliament of Scotland & now houses Supreme Courts of Scotland.
Princess Street Gardens – Princess Street (Central/New City); 011-44-0131-529-7921;; public park in city center; created in 2 phases in 1770s & 1820s.
Rosslyn Castle & Chapel – Chapel Loan (Roslin); 011-44-0131-440-2159;; Dan Brown’s novel Da Vinci Code & subsequent Hollywood film has caused visitor flood to descend on Scotland’s most beautiful & enigmatic church; built in mid-15th Century for William St Clair, 3rd Earl of Orkney; ornately carved interior, rich in symbolic imagery; as well as angels, biblical figures, flowers & vines, carved stones include many examples of pagan “Green Man”; other figures associated with Freemasonry & Knights Templar; make sure to take 5 minute stroll to remains of Rosslyn Castle below Chapel.
Royal Botanic Garden – Arboretum Place (Stockbridge/Dean Village); 011-44-0131-248-2909;; 70 acres; highlights include glasshouses (home to palm trees & tropical plants), Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden & Scottish Heath Garden; nice place for afternoon tea at Terrace Café.
Royal Lyceum Theatre – Grindlay Street (West End); 011-44-0131-248-4848;; live performances.
Royal Mile – extends from Old City to Central/New City;; from Edinburgh Castle to Palace of Holyroodhouse (Queen’s official residence in Scotland); be sure to explore narrow alleys that lead off Royal Mile to “closes,” with names like Fleshmarket Close.
Sir Walter Scott Monument – East Princess Street (Central/New City, in Princess Street Gardens); 011-44-0131-529-4068;; gothic tower built in 1840s to honor Sir Walter Scott; circular stone stairway ascends 287 steps above with 360˚ views.
Scottish National Gallery – 1 Queen Street (Central/New City, on Mound); 011-44-0131-624-6200;; collection includes works range from Bernini to Gauguin to Sir Henry Raeburn; among 1st pieces you will see is Titian’s Venus Anadyomene, bought for nation for more than £11m in 2003; 500-year-old Renaissance work, described by then director general Sir Timothy Clifford as “very sexy lady,” had hung in gallery for 60 years on loan from Duke of Sutherland; further in are Canova’s Three Graces, purchased jointly with V&A in 1994.
Scottish National Portrait Gallery – 1 Queen Street (Central/New City); 011-44-0131-624-6200;; among Edinburgh’s many free museums; famous Scots’ portraits, ranging from Mary Queen of Scots to Sean Connery.
Usher Hall – Lothian Road (West End); 011-44-0131-228-1155;; live performances.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Charles L. Brown – off south coast; former cable-laying ship; sunk in 95' water.

Bars & Nightclubs
Queen’s Garden – 1 Troy Hill Drive (Troy Hill); 011-599-416–3494;; cocktails at outdoor bar, which overlooks pool (and, below that, ocean).

Diamond Rock.
Eye of Needle – coral-covered pinnacle 95' deep; reef sharks.
Man O’ War Shoals – twin pinnacles 70'; reef fish.
Outer Limits – far off West coast; for advanced divers; deep, with strong currents.
Tent Reef.
Third Encounter – far off West coast; for advanced divers; deep, with strong currents.
Twilight Zone – far off West coast; for advanced divers; deep, with strong currents.

Juliana’s Hotel – Park Lane (Windwardside); 011-599-416-2269 or 866-783-3319;; apartments, cottages & rooms; reasonable prices, great views & accommodations from good-luxurious; on 1 side of hotel, hill leads to Windwardside’s bustling Main Street; on other, sweeping views of tropical flora; free Wi-Fi & balcony hammocks; 1 cottage — Eva Marie — located near Brigadoon Restaurant; air-conditioning in garden view & Orchard Cottage; for more privacy, ask for lovely Lily Pond Cottage.

Brigadoon – Flat Point Saba (Windwardside); 011-599-416-2380;; exceptional fare in entertaining atmosphere; specialties include Chowder Michael & Shrimp Michael; Thursday & Saturday are prime rib and sushi nights; as for desserts, cheesecake & peanut-butter pie are standouts; also try Madagascar vanilla bean–ginger rum ice cream.
Queen’s Garden Restaurant – 1 Troy Hill Drive (Troy Hill); 011-599-416–3494;; in lovely garden with sweeping Bottom views; dimly lit venue; romantic; for true honeymooners, “Bird’s Nest,” tree house for private dining; excellent service; try Saban lobster, as well as smoked duck-breast salad.
Restaurant Eden – Windward Side; 011-599-416-2539;; on rooftop amid lovely garden setting; European-French menu; try Frutti del Mare, pasta with seafood & garden vegetables topped with lobster cream sauce.

Jobean Chambers Glass Studio – 1 Boobie Hill (Windwardside); 001-599-416-2490;; custom-designed, handmade glass artworks.

Sights & Sites
Mount Scenery – Windwardside;; volcano; can hike to top, weather permitting, or hike Sandy Cruz trail (through rain forest); potentially active & dangerous; latest eruption was in or around 1640.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Lowtide Guide Service – Port O’Connor; 361-564-7032 or 361-564-7032; Capt. Curtiss Cash has been fishing all his life on Texas coast, from 6"-600 fathoms; notable for tarpon.
Captain Scott Null – Galveston; 281-450-2206;; devout shallow water fisherman offering guided adventures via kayak, poled skiff, and wading.
Eric “Oz” Ozolins – Padre Island National Seashore;; or or; offers shark-fishing (catch & release).
Scott Sommerlatte – Lake Jackson; 979-415-4379;; fly-fishing & light tackle guide.
Trout Tracker Guide Service – Corpus Christi; 361-688-3714; or; Kevin Cochran is longtime fishing guide specializing in speckled trout.
Jay Watkins – Rockport; 361-729-9596;; specializes in redfish & trout.

Sights & Sites
Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail –; state-designated trail system through nature preserves & bird sanctuaries, along the entire length Texas Gulf Coast; Texas hosts more bird species than any other US state so trail system offers some of world’s most unusual bird-watching opportunities; 43 separate driving & hiking trails that include 308 birding sites; more than 450 bird species.

Fling Charters – 1203 North Ave J; 979-233-4445;; for dive trips out to Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
Sights & Sites
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary – northwestern Gulf of Mexico (105 miles south of Sabine Pass); offshore salt domes in warm waters provide coral colonization site; 2 reefs, East Flower Garden Bank and West Flower Garden Bank; smaller, nearby Stetson Bank; 300 fish species, 21 coral species, several crustacean species, 4 dominant sponge species, and wide variety rays, sharks & skates; loggerhead sea turtles; several resident whale sharks turn in frequent appearances; manta rays are also commonly sighted.

Bigo’s – 464 Paredes Line Road; 956-986-0787; murals in vivid colors; sky blue ceiling;; great Mexican food; also one in Matamoros.
Bigo’s Bar & Grill – 7200 Padre Island Highway; 956-832-0857;; great Mexican food; also one in Matamoros.
Sights & Sites
Camp Lula Sams – 280 Fish Hatchery Road; 956-350-9093; or; built by Earl C. Sams Foundation & gifted to Girl Scouts of South Texas in 1953; over years camp has served as life lesson venue for Ks of children; recent sightings include ocelot, clay colored robins, groove billed anis, guava skipper butterflies & Texas Tortoises.
Farm Road 511 – supposedly haunted; at night, “ghost cows.”
Gladys Porter Zoo – 500 East Ringgold Street; 956-546-7187;
Isla Blanca State Park – 33174 State Park Road 100; 956-761-5493;
Lennox Foundation Southmost Preserve – by appointment onl); 956-546-0547 or 956-459-6121 (cell);; on meandering Rio Grande bend; part of Boscaje de la Palma region; 1.034K-acre preserve; encompasses among last native sabal palm tree stands in US.
Palo Alto Battlefield National Park – 7200 Paredes Line Road; 956-541-2785;; on 8 May 1846, Mexican & US troops clashed on Palo Alto prairie, being 1st battle in 2-year war that changed North American map.
Sabal Palm Sanctuary – 8435 Sabal Palm Road; 956-541-8034;; home to among the last “old-growth” palm forests in US; pay entrance fee at Rabb Plantation House, built in 1892; ancient, otherworldly ecosystem; great bird-watching; hike Resaca Loop Trail for full experience.
World Birding Center Resaca de la Palma State Park – 1000 New Carmen Avenue; 956-350-2920;; largest native habitat tract in World Birding Center network; etched by Rio Grande, its 1.2K semi-tropical acres provide quiet retreat from hustle & bustle of international urban center only few miles away; over 6 miles of trails, 4 decks that overlook 4 miles of resaca & 3.2 mile tram loop that winds through park.

Sights & Sites
Arroyo Park (C. B. Wood Park) – 400 West Harding Avenue; 956-216-5951;; birdwatching.
City Lake Park/Liberty Gardens – 410 ‘76 Drive; 956-216-5951;; great for birdwatching; 8 acres, consisting of .95 mile Hike & Bike Trail, lake, mediation garden & 11 benches.
Harlingen Thicket – 311 East Taft Avenue; 956-216-5951;; 40 acres of native brush in city center, restrooms, parking, extensive trails.
Hugh Ramsey Nature Park – 1000 TX-499 Loop; 956-216-5951;; 40-acre wooded parkland includes 6 wildlife observation posts, 1 restroom facility, 1.5 miles of Hike/Bike trails & medium pavilion.
Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area (Longoria Unit) – from US 77 intersection with Texas Highway 186, continue south on US 77 to FM 2629 (Sebastian), then west on FM 2629, then veer south on FM 506, continue approximately 1.5 miles south on FM 506 from its intersection with FM 2629; 956-565-1223; from Rio Grande Valley to Big Bend, there are numerous units that comprise Las Palomas WMA; all properties within Las Palomas WMA purchased to provide habitat for White-winged Doves in Texas; hunters furnished funds for these acquisitions; these properties also provide critical habitats for various other valley birds; Longoria Unit has short accessible trail with feeding & watering stations; during hunting seasons, certain Las Palomas sites may be closed to birders (review public notices posted in public information kiosks); as TPWD properties, wildlife management areas are open to public on fee basis; WMAs lack staff to collect fees on site; birders visit these sites on honor system; therefore, please take time to purchase Limited Public Use Permit at any state park, TPWD law enforcement office, or from merchants selling Texas fishing & hunting licenses.
World Birding Center Harlingen Arroyo Colorado (Hugh Ramsey Park) – 1001 South Loop 499; 956-427-8873;; Texas ebony woodlands dominate 55-acre Hugh Ramsey Park to east, while 40-acre Harlingen Thicket to west represents mixed upland thorn forest; Green & Ringed Kingfishers, Common Pauraque, Groove-billed Ani, Long-billed Thrasher & Olive Sparrow; Endangered Red-crowned Parrots are found here.

Los Fresnos
Inn at Chachalaca Bend – 36298 Chachalaca Bend; 956-233-1180;
ç ●Julia’s Restaurant – 220 West Ocean Boulevard; 956-233-5653;; try chili cheese enchiladas.
FWS Habitat Tour – 22817 Ocelot Road (run by US Fish & Wildlife Service); 956-748-3607 or 3608, ext. 111;; explores 14-mile Bayside Drive (currently closed to private vehicles); weave & wind past brushlands, wetlands & Laguna Madre; interpretive tour; fall & winter sightings may include osprey, redhead ducks, sandhill cranes, reddish egret (we have many white phase), tri-colored heron, shorebirds, snow geese, white tailed deer, nilgai antelope, bobcat, coyote, javelina, western diamondback rattlesnake, Texas tortoise & American alligator; includes several short stops along way with short walk up to observation deck overlooking lower Laguna Madre; 50-passenger, open-air tram runs October-March on ticket system (12-passenger shuttle bus used during inclement weather, which also runs April-September & requires reservations due to limited space); tickets issued at visitor center on first come, first serve basis day of tour so plan to arrive 30-60 minutes prior to tour (road leading to refuge is in rough shape & will be under construction beginning October 2015 so driving may take longer than expected, and there may be detours; come prepared for great coastal breeze on open-air tram (i.e., jackets recommended); binoculars highly recommended; after rains, mosquitos so insect repellent recommended.
FWS Kayak Tour – 22817 Ocelot Road (run by US Fish & Wildlife Service); 956-748-3607 or 3608, ext. 111;; tours depart from visitor center at 8 am, return by 1 pm (time actually spent on water approximately 1.5-2 hours, depending on group size, skills & weather conditions); tandem (2 people per boat), sit on top Ocean Kayaks; advance reservations required.
Sights & Sites
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge – 22817 Ocelot Road (visitor center closed on Tuesdays & Wednesdays); 956-748-3607;; largest protected natural habitat area in Lower Rio Grande Valley; 98K acres; Peregrine Fund began reintroducing captive-bred northern aplomado falcons (Falco femoralis septentrionalis) to refuge in 1985, which had been nearly extirpated from Southwestern US; today, it is home to 40 pairs; 9 other endangered or threatened species inhabit refuge, such as Texas ocelot (Leopardus pardalis albescens) & Gulf Coast jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi cacomitli); hike to Osprey Point.

Rio Hondo
Sights & Sites
Las Palomas Arroyo Colorado – from State Highway 107, travel east (road will change names including State Highway 107, Combes Santa Rosa Road, Combes Rio Hondo Road & FM 508) until FM 508 merges with FM 106 heading east, then ontinue to Rio Hondo & Arroyo Colorado, once across Arroyo Colorado bridge, park at picnic area adjacent to City Hall (on north side of FM 106); 956-501-4793;; 761 acres, most of which have reverted from farm & ranch land to native brush; Green Kingfishers have nested under this bridge & picnic grounds offer excellent opportunity to see all 3 kingfisher species that frequent North America.
Rio Hondo City Cemetery – South Arroyo Drive at Parkway Avenue; 956-748-2102 (city hall);,51196007w; native trees (Texas Ebony, in particular) at this cemetery attract numerous Valley specialties such as Green Jay & Great Kiskadee.

Palms Resort, Cafe & Bar – 3616 Gulf Boulevard; 956-761-1316;

Original Marini’s Empanada House – 3522 South Mason Road; 281-391-4273;; authentic Argentinian empanadas; local craft beers, Blue Bell ice cream & huge variety of sweet & savory empanadas; favorites include Humita, Tia Maria & Beef Gaucho; finish meal with Apple Gabriela empanada.
Sights & Sites
Katy Heritage Museum – 6002 George Bush Drive; 281-574-8618;
Katy Veterans Memorial Museum – 6202 George Bush Drive (VFW Community Building); 281-391-8387;

Great Oaks Manor – 419 Macek Road; 281-343-9551;
Sandy McGee’s – 314 Morton Street; 281-344-9393;; lovely, quaint restaurant.
Sights & Sites
Fort Bend Museum – 500 Houston Street; 281-342-6478;
George Ranch Historical Park – 10215 FM 762 Road; 281-343-0218;
Morton Cemetery – 900 Morton Street; 281-239-3648;; famous interments include Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (2nd Republic of Texas President); General James Long (Long Expedition leader); Jane Anne Herbert Wilkinson-Long (“Mother of Texas”); & Hilmar Guenther Moore (at death, longest serving mayor in US history, 1949-2012).

Country Pho – 1912 Avenue H; 832-595-8868;; spring rolls with peanut sauce & Vietnamese BBQ Sandwich.
Witt Pit BBQ & Catering – 2516 1st Street; 832-759-5182;
Sights & Sites
Rosenberg Railroad Museum – 1921 Avenue F; 281-633-2846;

Sugar Land
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Anonymous Cafe – 9920 Highway 90-A (Sugarland); 832-886-4037;; coffees.
Sights & Sites
Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land – 13016 University Boulevard; 281-313-2277;
Sugar Land Foundation Museum – 198 Kempner Street; 281-494-0261 (call in advance; this is volunteer coordinator number, all that is available);

Galveston (includes Crystal Beach, Dickinson & San Leon)
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Mod’s Coffee & Tea House – 2126 Post Office Street; 409-765-5659;; enjoy on patio, weather permitting.
Bars & Nightclubs
Railean Distillery & Buccaneer Bar – .
Gaido’s Seaside Inn – 3802 Seawall Boulevard; 409-762-9625;; old school, motel-like atmosphere.
Hotel Galvez – 2024 Seawall Boulevard; 409-765-7721 or 877-999-3223;; built in 1911; multi-million dollar restoration; still maintains much original charm; sweeping circular drive surrounded by plantings similar to those found in early 1900s; inside, gold leaf topped columns, mahogany ceiling, and period stenciling.
Harbor House – Pier 21; 409-763-3321 or 800-874-3721;; beautiful views; nautical-themed rooms.
Tremont House – 2300 Ship’s Mechanics Row; 409-763-0300 or 877-999-3223;; renovated.
Café Michael Burger – 11150 Termini San Luis Pass Road; 409-740-3639;; closed Mondays and Tuesdays; try Tiki burger; cash only; great fries.
Casey’s – 3802 Seawall Boulevard; 409-762-9625;; huge portions; run by Gaido’s.
Eatcetera – 408 25th Street; 409-762-0803;; hip bistro in arts district with vegan options.
Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant – 3800 Seawall Boulevard; 409-762-9625;; from moment you enter Gaido’s, you feel sense of place and time alive with family tradition and history (since 1911); landmark; long, elegant dining rooms draped in plush period attire make it easy to envision old days; ultra-fresh seafood served with sweeping, panoramic Mexico Gulf views; peels shrimp, shucks oyster, and filets fish fresh and by hand; every meal, from signature Wade Watkins’ bisque to Fresh Fish with Lump Topping, is prepared with old time simplicity and attention to detail; surprisingly amenable to beach attire (facing Mexican Gulf across only thin pavement stretch); busy in evenings).
Gilhooley’s – 222 9th Street (Dickinson); 281-339-3813; difficult to find much fresher oysters because Gilhooley’s pulls its bivalves off boats only few blocks away; children not allowed; try char-grilled Oysters Gilhooley around fire pits outside on ramshackle patio.
Leon’s World’s Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que – 5427 Broadway Street; 409-744-0070;; great pork ribs.
Luigi’s Ristorante Italiano – 2328 Strand Street; 409-763-6500;; romantic venue with good, solid Italian food.
Rudy & Paco – 2028 Post Office Street; 409-762-3696;; best restaurant in town; elegant and warm atmosphere; Latin-American seafood; must try snapper Elegante (topped with lump crab, pico & avocado).
Sonny’s Place – 1206 19th Street; 409-763-9602;; neighborhood joint features bar area, as well as restaurant; muffulettas, spaghetti & seafood; looks like old house, which it is.
Star Drug Counter – 510 23rd Street; 409-766-7719;; Texas’ oldest drug store; Galveston’s 1st integrated lunch counter.
Stingaree – 1295 Stingaree Road (Crystal Beach); 409-684-2731;; watch barges go by; try bread pudding with bourbon sauce.
El Tucan – 190 South Gulf Freeway (League City); 281-724-9318; tucked in shopping center; cheery spot with among area’s most extensive Mexican food menus.
Circle H Outfitters – 715 North Holiday Drive; 281-535-1930; or; Captain Scott Hickman from National Geographic series Big Fish Texas; charters out of Galveston on 36' powerboat; red snapper.
Sights & Sites
Galveston Island State Park – 14901 FM 3005; 409-737-1222;; beaches, biking & hiking.
Galveston Seawall – Seawall Boulevard (Pleasure Pier starts at 25th Street); 409-797-5000 or 409-763-2700;; like Texas’ Coney Island.
Maison Rouge – 1417 Harborside; or; 1870s structure built over foundation of Pirate Jean Lafitte’s wine cellar, in his Maison Rouge; no entry & no museum.

Sights & Sites
Mainland Memorial Cemetery (formerly Gold Bond Cemetery) – 6602 O’Brien Street; 409-986-1270.

La Marque
Sights & Sites
Rising Star Cemetery – Albert Street (between Kansas & Rosalee Streets, at Petroleum Street).

Port Bolivar
Sights & Sites
Old Point Bolivar Lighthouse – 419 Everett Lane;; historic lighthouse built in 1872; served for 61 years before being retired in 1933, when replaced by different light.

Alamo (includes Santa Ana)
Alamo Inn – 801 Main Street; 956-782-9912;; low rates with bird bookstore inside.
Casa Santa Ana – 3239 South Tower Road; 956-783-5540;; adjacent to world famous Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge; gated bed & breakfast residence built specifically for birders & other wildlife enthusiasts; detached guest wing, each room with private bathroom; shared recreation room/kitchen with laundry & entertainment facilities. Restaurants
Original Willie’s Bar-B-Q – 320 South Alamo Road; 956-702-1370;; make sure you go to this specific address.
Sights & Sites
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge – 3325 Green Jay Road; 956-784-7500;; subtropical jungle refuge; 12 miles walking trails; try Jaguarundi Trail & Owl Trail Spur; also check out historic cemetery.
Sights & Sites
Edinburg Scenic Wetlands – 714 South Raul Longoria Road; 956-381-9922;; beautiful birding venue.

McAllen Ranch – 33820 Texas FM 1017; 956-802-5796;; 70K acre, historic (since 1791) ranch notable for raising natural beef & hunting; 7 room El Indio Lodge is way to go.

Los Ebanos
Sights & Sites
Los Ebanos Land Entry Port – 200 Flores Street (Los Ebanos, 2 miles south of State Highway 83); 956-485-1084;; last hand-operated, international ferry, border crossing; large Texas ebony tree anchors 3-car barge on US side, pulled by 6 large men; Mexican-side village is tree-shaded but, even at mid-day, place is charming, but spooky.

El Divino – 5001 North 10th Street; 956-627-3990;; about as good as it gets for McAllen; steaks & seafood, as well as tapas-style dishes.
House Wine Bistro – 1117 West Business Highway 83; 956-994-8331;; wine bar with imported wines; pizza.
Pelican Cove – 520 Ash Avenue; 956-630-2478; what appears to be boat run aground is actually popular restaurant that specializes in Italian and seafood.
Quisqueya – 3503 North Ware Road; 956-627-3325; Dominican food.
Republic of Rio Grande – 1411 South 10th Street; 956-994-8385;; sumptuous indoor & outdoor Mexican grill dining.
Salt New American Table – 210 North Main Street; 956-627-6304;; by House Wine Bistro group.
Sights & Sites
McAllen World Birding Center (Quinta Mazatlan) – 600 Sunset Drive; 956-681-3370;; 1930s historic Spanish Revival adobe hacienda in city heart; lush tropical landscaping & native woodland; quiet trails wind through more than 15 acres of birding habitat; formal tropical gardens surround 10,000' square mansion; outlying acres of wild Tamaulipan thorn forest have been enhanced with water & bird feeding stations to make them even more attractive to wildlife; Plain Chachalacas nest in palms & Common Pauraques, Clay-colored Thrushes, Green Jays, Buff-bellied Hummingbirds, and Olive Sparrows seen regularly.

Bars & Nightclubs
Riverside Club – 214 East Chimney; 956-581-1033;; visually appealing and sort of upscale.
Riverside Club – 214 East Chimney; 956-581-1033;; visually appealing & sort of upscale.
Sights & Sites
Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park (World Birding Center) – 2800 South Bentsen Palm Drive (at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park); 956-584-9156;; World Birding Center headquarters.
Chihuahua Woods Preserve – take Expressway-83 to west side of Mission, take Inspriration Road Exit (will lead you to Bus-83), go west, under Expressway onto Bus-83 & continue towards Bentsen Palm Drive, continue west on Bus.-83 from its intersection with Bentsen Palm Drive for 3 miles, at 3 miles, Bus-83 will make sharp right turn, at turn, carefully turn left (southwest) onto Chihuahua Road, across Bus-83, go about 50 yards, crossing railroad tracks & park on left (do NOT block gate); 956-580-4241;; 349-acre preserve is relic of what Rio Grande Valley once was: unique ecosystem with expansive variety of trees, shrubs & thickets; home to rare & native hook-billed kite.

Sights & Sites (includes Edcouch)
Delta Lake County Park – 28312 FM 88 (Edcouch); 956-973-7910;; birding.
Estero Llano Grande State Park (World Birding Center Estero Llano Grande) – 3301 South International Boulevard (FM 1015); 956-565-3919;; spectacular array south Texas' wildlife.
Frontera Audubon Thicket – 1101 South Texas Boulevard; 956-968-3275;; few cities cultivate urban green spaces as successfully as at Frontera Audubon Society Preserve & Visitor’s Center; instead of restoring habitat after urban development has destroyed natural growth complexity, this 15 acre urban preserve is mature, old vegetation that offers spectacular oasis for birds & birders alike; trails winding through property are gravel & paved routes; feeding station located deep within thicket provides exceptional views when birds actively foraging; butterfly garden is also part of property.
Valley Nature Center – 301 South Border Avenue; 956-969-2475;; 6-acre park with native birds & plants.

Beaumont (includes Nederland & Port Arthur)
Bars & Nightclubs
Suga’s Deep South Cuisine & Jazz Bar – 461 Bowie Street; 409-813-1808;
Bando’s – 215 North 11th Street; 409-212-8445;; tearoom, ladies-that-lunch-kind-of-place; also gift shop.
Crown Pizza – 5535 Calder Avenue; 409-899-9550;
Finch Hutton – 1147 Boston Avenue (Nederland); 409-722-3100;; mid-country bistro that is destination-spot; try jumbo lump crab cake.
Pine Tree Lodge – 3296 Pinetree Road; 409-796-1600;; owned and operated by Miller family since 1984; burgers, seafood & steaks on Taylor’s Bayou’s banks; during summer months, live music every Sunday afternoon under patio with waterfront view.
Suga’s Deep South Cuisine & Jazz Bar – 461 Bowie Street; 409-813-1808;; at lunchtime, limited menu; expanded in evenings; more upscale than one might expect.
Vautrot’s Cajun Cuisine – 13353 Texas Highway 105; 409-753-2015;
Willy Burger – 5535 Calder Avenue; 409-892-3407; great breakfasts and great burgers for lunch.
Bando’s – 215 North 11th Street; 409-212-8445;; gift shop; also, tearoom.

JuJu’s Cajun Crawfish Shak – 18277 FM 365; 409-794-2020;; ask for all 3 house-made sauces (red cocktail sauce, pink mayo-spiked concoction & clarified butter).

Sabine Pass
Sights & Sites
Sea Rim State Park – 19335 Texas 87; 409-971-2559;; camping, wildlife observation, birding, beach combing, walking Gambusia Nature Trail (boardwalk through marsh), canoeing, kayaking, beach swimming (5 miles of beach), fishing & public waterfowl hunting (in season); alligators.

KLEBERG COUNTY (includes Kingsville & Riveiera)
Young’s Pizza – 625 West Santa Gertrudis (Kingsville); 361-592-9179;

Birds of Paradise Inn – 602 South County Road 1150; 361-297-5145;; lodging on south Texas Gulf coast; fantastic bird watching; accommodations offer “home away from home” with complete kitchen, dining rooms, living rooms, and large porches or gazebo; all suites have free wireless Internet and satellite HD TV with sports package; lighted, private pier with barbecue grills, fish cleaning station, and picnic tables.
King’s Inn – 1116 South County Road 2270; 361-297-5265;; open 64 years (since 1945); specialties are sliced avocado salad, onion rings, and shrimp; most famous people to eat here are George W. Bush, Matt Dillon, Nolan Ryan, George Strait, and Betty White; gets fish locally and from other countries (like Australia); closed Sundays and Mondays.
Sights & Sites
Dick Kleberg Park (Kingsville Visitors Center) – 501 East Escondido Road; 361-595-8591;; waterfront park.

Lodge at Karankawa Village – 22996 Highway Texas 60; 979-863-7737;; nice.
Sights & Sites
Matagorda Bay Nature Park – 6430 FM 2031; 979-863-2603;; makeshift kayak trails along FM 2031 are only way to reach tidal estuaries.

Corpus Christi
Bars & Nightclubs
Lou’s Saloon – 5101 Leopard Street ; 361-882-0723; old, seedy bar; 2 levels; also serves burgers and fries.
Texan – 3625 South Staples Street; 361-854-1571; 7 am-2 am, Monday-Saturday; noon-2 am Sunday; live music, pool tables, and Internet jukebox; bands start around 10 Friday and Saturday nights; never cover charge; sometimes place fires up barbecue pit on patio for free eats and washer pitching (can’t be bothered with horseshoes), but not free drinks; patio perfect place for private parties, too; dart board; vintage 1940s shuffle board.
Dobson Café – 1902 North Shoreline Boulevard (at Art Museum of South Texas); 361-825-3523;; overlooks intersection of bay and canal; good food.
Dragonfly – 14701 South Padre Island Drive; 361-949-2224;; French-International; try seafood crepes.
Mamma Mia’s – 128 North Mesquite; 361-883-3773;; try braised lamb shank.
Snoopy’s Pier – 13313 South Padre Island Drive; 361-949-8815;; somewhat mundane but reliable fried seafood; great birdwatching, however; also, ice cream next door at Scoopy’s.
Sultan Mediterranean Cuisine – 6646 South Staples (Market at Timbergate); 361-993-6100;; excellent Mediterranean food.
Torch – 4425 South Alameda Street; 361-992-7491;; Greek food and steaks.
Vietnam – 701 North Water Street; 361-853-2682;
Yardarm – 4310 Ocean Drive; 361-855-8157;; seafood.

Port Aransas (includes Aransas Pass, Fulton & Rockport)
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Lisa Bella’s Bistro & Java Bar – 165 Social Circle (Cinnamon Shore); 361-749-4222;
Bars & Nightclubs
Paradise Key – 165 Cove Harbor North (Rockport); 361-729-6000;
I. B. Magee Beach Park – 321 North On Beach; 361-749-6117;; good for fishing (drum, seat trout, shark & tarpon).
Angel Rose Bed & Breakfast – 902 East Cornwall Street (Rockport); 361-729-3189;; Victorian home.
Aransas Princess (#214) – 720 Access Road 1-A;; 6 guests, 3 bedrooms, 3 beds; professionally decorated for enjoying Texas Gulf Coast in comfortable, casual elegance; scenic views of Gulf & golf course at Pamilla Beach Resort from 3 patios.
Crane House – 911 South Water Street; 361-729-7239;; 2-bedroom cottage with kitchen on Nature Conservancy-protected land offering whooping crane viewing.
Curlew Casa – 38 Curlew Drive (Rockport);; average rate $929 night for 5-bedroom coastal palace, but sleeps 14; hot tub, fire pit, kayaks & private boat slip.
Alby’s Seafood – 3402 Highway 35 North (Fulton); 361-729-1521;; grubby restaurant seafood supplier that also sells (to be consumed outside at picnic table) some of area’s best french fries, fresh shucked oysters, and oyster po’boys.
Charlotte Plummers’ Seafood – 202 North Fulton Beach Road (Fulton); 361-729-1185;; seafood.
Glow – 1815 Broadway Street (Rockport); 361-727-2644;; intimate, homey space in converted boathouse for inventive seafood dinners, plus Sunday brunch.
Hatfields BBQ & Blackjacks Beer Garden – 209 East Cornwall Street (Rockport); 361-729-2337;; tidy cedar cabin that serves excellent barbecue.
Lisa Bella’s Bistro & Java Bar – 165 Social Circle (Cinnamon Shore); 361-749-4222;; try Mermaid Soup; great seafood.
Paradise Key – 165 Cove Harbor North (Rockport); 361-729-6000;
Pelican Club – 914 Tarpon Street; 361-749-4888;; excellent seafood.
Poor Man’s Country Club – 1009 Texas Highway 35 (Rockport); 361-729-7667;; beers and burgers.
Port Aransas Brewing Co. – 429 North Alister; 361-749-2739;; burgers.
Whooping Crane Tours – 202 North Fulton Beach Road (Fulton); 361-727-0643 or 800-979-3370;; Captain Tommy knows his birds (not just Whooping Cranes); we saw Caspian tern, Whooping crane, Crested caracara, Anhinga, Loon, Cormorant, Dolphin, Plover, Belted kingfisher, Small blue heron, Merlin, Peregrine falcon, Long-billed curlew, Snowy egret, Whillet (sp?), Foresters’ tern, Aplomado falcon, Roseate spoonbill, Herring gulls, Golden-eyed terns, American oystercatcher, Pelican (brown, white), Mottled duck, and, on island-sand-bar, 20-25 great blue herons nesting; very cool.
Alby’s Seafood – 3402 Highway 35 North (Fulton); 361-729-1521;; restaurant seafood supplier; sells area’s freshest fish and oysters.
Sights & Sites
George W. Fulton Mansion – 317 Fulton Beach Road (Rockport); 361-729-0386;; among earliest 2nd Empire style buildings constructed in Texas & among most important in southwest US still in existence; Colonel George Ware Fulton & Harriet Gillette Smith began building 3.5 story structure overlooking Aransas Bay in 1874 and finished in 1877; dubbed “Oakhurst” by its owners George & Harriet, featured most up-to-date conveniences for time, such as indoor plumbing, central gas lighting and heating; added to National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Goose Island State Park – 202 Palmetto Street (Rockport); 361-729-2858;; surrounded by both St. Charles & Aransas Bays; established between 1931-35; Civilian Conservation Corps built earliest facilities; home to “Big Tree,” Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana), thought to be over 1K years old; circumference of 35', 44' h & has crown spread of 90'; no designated swimming area as shoreline consists of concrete, oyster shell, mudflat & marsh grass.
Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center – Ross Avenue; 361-749-4111;
Mustang Island State Park – 17047 Texas Highway 361; 361-749-5246;; paddle Mustang Island State Park Paddling Trail, 3 segments of which follow island’s western shoreline; close-up views of coastal birds.
Port Aransas Nature Preserve – Port Street or off State Highway 361 near Mustang Beach Airport; 361-749-4158;; encompasses 1.2K acres undeveloped land in area formerly known as Charlie’s Pasture, where early island residents once grazed cattle; located between ship channel, community park, State Highway 361, and Piper Channel; over 3 miles hike and bike trails, pavilion, boardwalks over algal flats, crushed granite trails on uplands, covered seating sites, and 2 towers overlooking wetland areas around Salt Island; extensive tidal flats provide feeding areas and important habitat for shorebirds and endangered and threatened species such as piping plover.

Sights & Sites
Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center – 2111 West Park Avenue; 409-670-9113;; 252 acres of private botanical gardens & nature reserve; adjacent to Botanical Gardens is bird blind that allows visitors to observe nesting birds in heronry.
Stark Museum of Art – 712 Green Avenue; 409-886-2787;

Port Arthur
Sights & Sites
Veterans Memorial Bridge – State Highway 87; 409-985-7822;; spans Neches River between Bridge City & Port Arthur; 1st cable-stayed suspension segmental concrete bridge in state.

PADRE ISLAND (includes La Feria, Los Fresnos, Port Isabel, San Benito & South Padre Island)
Las Arenas Condominiums – 3104 Gulf Boulevard (South Padre Island); 956-761-4003;
Palms Resort on Beach – 3616 Gulf Boulevard (South Padre Island); 956-761-1316 or 800-466-1316;; small, low-key, comfortable; best affordable place to stay on island; directly on beach; small pool; best restaurant on island.
Pearl South Padre Hotel & Resort – 310 Padre Boulevard; 956-761-6551 or 855-887-3275;
Redfish Inn – 207 West Aries Drive (South Padre Island); 956-761-2722;; offers wildlife tours; 6 rooms; waterfront property.
Sapphire Condominiums – 310A Padre Boulevard; 956-761-4600 or 800-503-6138;
Las Ventanas Condominiums – 3504 Gulf Boulevard; 956-761-4564;

Palms Resort Cafe – 3616 Gulf Boulevard (South Padre Island, at Palms Resort on Beach); 956-761-1316;; small, low-key, comfortable; best restaurant on island.
Will & Jack’s Burger Shack & Beer Garden – 413 East Maxan (Port Isabel); 956-640-7440;; outdoor courtyard & great burgers.

Sapphire Spa – 310A Padre Boulevard; 956-389-8888;

Sights & Sites
Freddy Fender Museum – 210 East Heywood Street (San Benito); 956-361-3800;
Little Graceland – 701 West Ocean Boulevard (West Highway 100, Los Fresnos); 956-233-5482;; Simon Vega, Elvis’ army buddy, has turned his home into memorial; relates personal stories as he shares 2 memorabilia rooms; recreated Graceland gates enhance his driveway; sells tee-shirt; nice guy.
Mont Meta Memorial Park & Cemetery – 26170 State Highway 345 (San Benito); 956-399-3097;; good bird-watching.
Tio Cano Lake – Palis Road at Pomelo Road (La Feria); 956-423-5440 (Harlingen Chamber of Commerce); bird-watching location.
El Zacatal – travel south of El Zacatal Cemetery on Highway 281 to County Road 1550, right on CR 1550, then right again on County Road 1575; these lakes are dependent upon wet season rains, so during long drought periods eventually become dry; when wet, look for Common Moorhen, Purple Gallinule, Least Grebe & various waterfowl in these resacas; Kingfishers often found perched on snags & migrant shorebirds feed along exposed shore as water levels drop during late spring.

Crofutt’s Bakery & Sandwich Shop – 1610 FM 136 Road; 361-529-6663;

Port Mansfield
Windjammer Restaurant & Lounge – 1088 East Port Drive; 956-944-2555;; it is what it is.