Red Rock Inn at Zion National Park

Red Rock Inn  Located in Springdale, Utah at the southern entrance to Zion National Park

I’m guilty of just neglecting to get back and write about this and there is no excuse since this is the most delightful B&B Inn we have stayed in over the last five years.

Because the town of Springdale sits in a narrow canyon as you leave Zion National Park there really is only Zion Park Blvd. for a couple of miles thru town. This is partly a blessing as every where you look are the stunning red rock walls towering above you. Unfortunately this also creates major traffic tie-ups as cars enter and exit the park down this two-lane street (TRAFFIC INFORMATION HERE). In season afternoon traffic trying to enter the park virtually comes to a standstill.

On our visit we had driven into Zion thru the northeast entrance and after a day in the park we exited at the south end and stayed at the Red Rock Inn. From there we just walked around the town which is very convenient from the inn. The town is nice to stroll through with great shops, cafes and restaurants. After that the Zion NPS shuttle is the easiest way to get back to the park and explore the southern trails with no wasted time trying to find a parking space. The Inn is located only about a mile from the park entrance if you are inclined to hike.

The Red Rock Inn sits in a beautiful setting with tastefully decorated, spotless rooms. The Inn is operated by Trevor and Sharon and you couldn’t ask for more attentive hosts who can offer great tips on what to see in the park or where to eat nearby. Your stay also includes a great full breakfast at Oscars Cafe only a short walk up the boulevard.

998 Zion Park Blvd.

Springdale, Ut 84767

(435) 772-3139

If you are looking for a getaway weekend or are planning a grand tour of the Utah parks you really can’t do any better than a stay at The Red Rock Inn.

 

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Having Coffee in Rüdesheim Germany

Recently we spent a little time in the very picturesque town of Rüdesheim Germany with a local coffee being one of the afternoons highlights.

Rüdesheim am Rhein in the heart of Rhine wine country is a town that has become maybe too cute for words. A favorite day trip destination for area Germans, its streets are packed with cafes, restaurants and gift shops. The town is also famous for its local brandy and Rudesheimer Coffee. The center of the cafe district is Drosselgasse, a walking passage that takes you past wine gardens, shops, restaurants and cafes.

The fortunes of the town are indebted to a local distiller. In 1892 Hugo Asbach opened the company Asbach & Co. in Rüdesheim. He created a brandy giving it his name and it remains as popular in Germany today as it was in the late nineteenth century. In 1937 the company coined a marketing slogan that added to the fortunes of the brand, “The spirit of wine is in Asbach”.

in 1957 Rudesheimer Coffee was created, a popular coffee drink with Asbach and cream that has become the signature drink in the town and is served in every good Café. Similar to Irish Coffee it is the perfect hot drink for the winter months and special occasions. There is even a signature shaped cup that’s supposed to be used with this concoction.

Recipe for Rudesheimer Coffee

Ingredients

1.5 ounces Asbach Uralt Brandy

3 cubes of sugar

Hot coffee (regular or decaf)

Whipped cream sweetened with vanilla sugar

Grated milk chocolate

 

Instructions

– Warm the brandy by using a double boiler or very low flame in a pan. Do not bring to a boil!.

– Place 2-3 cubes of sugar in an original Rudesheimer Coffee cup, and pour over the heated Asbach and light it by using a long match.

– Stir with a long-handled spoon to dissolve the sugar completely.

– Let it burn for about 1 minute, then pour in hot coffee to about 1 inch below the rim.

– Top off with freshly whipped cream and sprinkle with grated chocolate or dust with cocoa.

Don’t have any Asbach Brandy (it’s not available in the U.S.) or the proper cup? We wouldn’t let that get in the way because this recipe is a good challenger to Irish Coffee. Substitute any good brandy and a tall mug, but follow the recipe.

 

 

Vineyards grow everywhere around Rüdesheim

Goulash, New York Cafe and Kürtőskalács

Eating In Budapest

In planning for our recent trip to Budapest we went on the internet looking for food specialties and where to find them. Hungarian goulash was high on the list of course but once there I decided I prefer the lighter soup version of goulash. My wife discovered it was going to be restaurant week while we were there with many establishments offering special menus of their favorites at special prices. We managed to book a number of reservations before we left for the trip.

Almost a universal recommendation for visitors was breakfast at the New York Kávézó (that’s Hungarian for café) located in the Budapest New York Palace Hotel. After our visit we agree this is a very special place. What a gorgeous place and the orchestra played unobtrusively while we sipped our coffee and cappuccino.

My search on the internet came across Kürtőskalács which were advertised as the pastry of Budapest. It is a sweet, spiral-shaped pastry that originated in Transylvania. It’s also known as ‘chimney cake’, because of its unique shape. Making kürtőskalács requires a cylinder to wrap the dough around and a rotisserie for baking so it is usually not something made at home.

Budapest’s Market Hall

Two articles I read said you could find them at shops in the Market Hall, a famous food hall and discount venue in Budapest. No trip to Budapest is complete without spending some time in this institution (Tip: the deeper into the hall you go the lower the prices) shopping for t-shirts and paprika.

On our first visit to the Market Hall I had the name Kürtőskalács displayed on my phone (there was no way I was going to attempt to pronounce it) and I would show it to various merchants. Everyone thought you could find this nearby and one man gave me directions to go out and across the street. After about an hour we came to the conclusion that there were no Kürtőskalács to be found anywhere nearby and we moved on.

Kürtőskalács stand at the train station

I would occasionally show Kürtőskalács displayed on my phone as we traveled around the city but still came up empty. Who would have thought it would be so hard to find?

A few days later we were coming out of the central train station just after dark and guess what? Right on the sidewalk was a Kürtőskalács stand with about ten people waiting in line. This delicacy costs about two dollars and you select your coating flavor. Don’t leave town without trying one.

Traveling With A Starbucks Card

Starbucks is becoming as ubiquitous as McDonalds around the world. We have become accustomed to looking for these outlets as we travel. While we are not huge fans you can expect a consistent coffee offering along with free WiFi from Starbucks as you travel.

We just got home from Europe and we just jumped to conclusions about using our Starbucks Gold Card in Europe from our experience on previous trips. Several years ago we cautiously started using a Starbucks card to purchase coffee in various cities. Over time we came to expect it to work everywhere.

While traveling in Australia and Ireland we were very surprised at how the process worked. After paying with the balance on our card we would get a receipt that showed the amount used in local currency along with the card balance expressed in Dollars and local currency.

After this trip a correction is in order. We were in Hungary, Austria and Germany and our card wouldn’t work at all. Checking the Starbucks web site we found the following statement:

Starbucks Cards activated in any of the participating countries can be used to make purchases and be reloaded in any other participating country. Starbucks Cards must first be activated by loading money onto the card in the country of purchase before being used internationally. The participating countries are; UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Mexico, and the Republic of Ireland.

I guessed we jumped to conclusions based on too small a sampling. The good news is the coffee was what we expected and the WiFi is still free.

A Hotdog in Vienna

Street Food Is Sometimes A Good Option

We became”pen pals” with an Austrian couple after cruising with them a while back. In one of many e-mail exchanges, we told them we would be visiting Vienna which prompted them to send us a list of things to do while there. High on the list was a hot dog stand behind the State Opera House. Being too intriguing to pass up, as soon as we got into the center of Vienna, with cell phone in hand to navigate, we headed off in search of Bitzingers, the famous hotdog stand.

Arriving shortly after noon there was a line already formed. The customer directly in front of us was a member of the Polizei, the Austrian police. He provided inspiration for our selection choice as the proprietor was filling a carry away bag with a large number of different varieties of hot dogs/sausages/toppings.

Being unable to read the German menu, when it was our turn we very simply asked for two hot dogs, one plain and one with mustard. The preparation process involves having an end sliced, at an angle from what can best be described as a small baguette. The baguette is than pushed down on a stainless spike to make a hole for the hotdog. A squirt of mustard goes into the hole followed by a really good hotdog and than wrapped by a square of foil.

Simple, fast and remarkably tasty. Sometimes following the advice of locals is the best bet. Later while walking around Vienna we passed a couple of other Bitzingers stands, so this isn’t a one-off operation. However, most new visitors to this city are drown to the city center with its palaces, museums, cathedrals and blocks of shops and cafes so knowing the downtown location of Bitzingers could come in handy. It is right behind the State Opera House which is an easy landmark to navigate towards. Also within a few blocks of the Opera House quick a search on your phone with Google Maps should provide a precise directions.

A McDonalds in Budapest

In Praise of McDonalds

We are in Budapest this week at the beginning of a long planned trip across central Europe. I’m not sure what I was expecting in Budapest but it is much more than I had ever imagined. While things have been going slightly wrong since we left home with a few problems already forcing some changes in the weeks ahead we will just have to adapt.

With over 35,000 restaurants in over 100 countries, there are times when we travel McDonald’s can seem like a touch of home. While we prefer to eat local, sometimes familiarity, price and convenience win out. While the restaurant’s menu and appearance has a tendency to change based on the country there are always some common choices.

In Budapest, Hungary, one particular McDonald’s has actually become a destination itself. Located in the Western Railway Station (Nyugati Pályaudvar) that was designed by August de Serres and built by the Eiffel Company of Paris. The construction took three years and the iron structure was cast in Paris. Nyugati Pályaudvar was opened in 1877, 12 years before the Eiffel Company built the famous tower in Paris. Almost 150 years later the station has managed to retained its original style.

Over the years much of the iron structure has been replaced. On the right side of the terminal is the what has been called the most beautiful McDonalds in the world. This is one of the oldest fast food establishments behind the Iron Curtain, dating back to the Soviet occupation of Hungary. This McDonalds occupies a large multi-story space with ornate an colonial ceiling in the railway station complex and is a favorite with locals and tourists alike.

We visited around six on a Friday and the restaurant was packed. The lines moved quickly with attendants moving thru the lines taking orders on hand-held pads that printed out an order ticket. Our order priced out a little less than we would have paid back home and featured the usual fare. Placed on a balcony on the second floor was a MaCafe furnished with overstuffed sofas and chairs and staffed just to make coffee based drinks.

While we are not sure this is the most beautiful McDonalds in the world it is for sure the most beautiful we’ve ever visited.

 

 

Wahoo’s Bistro Patio Bermuda

Bermuda is probably one of the most expensive islands we’ve spent time on as well as one of the most beautiful. Off season hotels average above $200 to $300 a night and food is also pretty pricey.

One afternoon we took a bus out to St. George just for a look around. St. George is the town on the far eastern tip of the islands and a great place to walk around. After checking out menus in a number of restaurants around town we decided on Wahoo’s. The entrance is located at 36 Water Street just two blocks from the main bus stop and four blocks from the ferry dock. The back patio is the place to sit as it overlooks St. George’s Harbour.

This Bistro is popular with locals and gets consistently high marks with online revieerss. Alfed is the owner and works hard to make you feel welcome. The staff is friendly and efficient and the Picasso Mahi Mahi and Wahoo nuggets come highly recommended by the locals. For Bermuda the prices are moderate, the atmosphere is great and the back patio is the place to sit and enjoy the view and breeze.

SEE LOCATION ON GOOGLE MAPS

All in all we highly recommend Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio.