Blogs > News-Herald Food and Travel

Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Friday, September 20, 2013

France by train

It's been a lovely week traveling by train in the south of France, challenging at first in dealing with an unfamiliar mode of transport  mode of transport in a language I don't speak. But just as any new experience becomes easier with familiarity so did the process of changing trains, and finding the correct platform, car and seat.

After a day in Paris our group of writers began our journey at the Gare de Lyon, one of four major train stations which surround Paris. Our start was delayed when one of our group couldnt be found so we ended up rushing at top seed with luggage. Thank goodness our overnight had been at the Novotel Gare de Lyon, right across the street from the train station. We made it just in the nick of time...not the greatest way to begin a trip  since jet lag was compounded  by the adrenalin of anxiety.  But soon we settled into our seats, strolled up to the dining car and ordered breakfast, which we could eat there or take back to our seats. Amazing what a croissant and cafe au lait can do for the disposition.

As we headed south toward Aix en Provence, a lovely palmy college town where Cezanne lived for much of his life, we saw the characteristic white cows of this part of France, and the agrarian lifestyle which seems little changed over the centuries. The high speed TGV train,  which travels at a 295 Km/hour speed, doesnt pass through towns or areas where a chance person or animal could wander onto the tracks, so the views are timeless ones. Our trip was made easy by Rail Europe tickets purchased in advance. It's late harvest season there as here and the weather, which began with sprinkles, soon gave way to the sunshine for which this part of the world is known.

I'll tell you more in coming weeks, here on my blog and in the travel section. So stand by to share my journey, warts and all.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Global entry card: willl it help?

I'm en route to France for another series of stories that will run in The News-Herald this winter, and now at Dulles International waiting to board and Air France flight to Paris. One of the reasons for choosing this as my gateway is because Ive applied for a Global Entry card which will supposedly speed my entry back into the country by allowing me to bypass long lines at customs and imigration. In addition to the paperwork about me and my life Ive filled out online I need to have an in person interview and be fingerprinted. Although  there are several  places to have these interviews, Dulles International is one of them, and my appointment is scehduled about a half hour from now.

Part of the plan is the the card will help me get home sooner. No matter where I come back into the US, there's usually a long layover for a flight to Cleveland. And hanging aorund an airport is the last thing I want to do after the end of a long flight home,which often means 24 hours en route before I hit my bed in Mentor. If I can get through customs quickly on Sept 21 I have hope of being able to catch a 3 p.m. flight back to Cleveland instead of waiting at Dulles another couple hours for a later flight. But since my Air France flight will arrive at 1 p.m.  and westward fflights not only take longer they are ferequnelty late because of prevailing winds, a 1 pm arrival likely wont give me anough wiggle room to make a 3pm flight home, given how long the customs precess will likely take with 450 passengers aboard .

So wish me luck. I'l let you know. This could be the best thing since hot bread...or not.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Look back at Chautauqua 2013

Jean Mitrovich looks back on the just concluded season at Chatauqua, where she and her husband Paul spend many summer weekends.She also blogged in this space back in June. (I take that back it was in May and you can read it  here. Time sure does fly when you are having fun)

 Here's Jean:
The Chautauqua season has again brought many enjoyable and informative experiences and the Bemus Bay Pops season certainly surpassed everyone's expectations. Besides outstanding musical shows, they added the Chippewa Lake Water Ski Show Team, incorporating gymnastic and artistic movement set to music in motion on the water.  Floating dock presentations included Michael Israel  who paints larger than life canvasses on stage to high energy music and can be best described as Cirque du Soleil meets Picasso.  I  watched him spin the canvas  in circles as he created his master pieces - which were auctioned  after the show. The first two went for $40K, with most  of the funds  donated to  Hospice of Chautauqua County!

 Bemus Bay performances  included imitators of the Beach Boys, Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen, Bee Gees and many more!  Favorites were the Hitmen with  hits from the 60's, 70's, and 80's. Two of the performers were from the original Four Seasons and two others play in bands for Elton John and Luther Vandross.

 Judge Robert Jackson had an  interesting three day free seminar at theAntheneaum Hotel at Chautauqua, presented  each year after the closing of the Chautauqua Institution.  This year "The Long Hot Summer After the Arab Spring" was the discussion and program with  international prosecutors from International Courts and Tribunals from Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Tunisia and  others including M. Cherif Bassiouni who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.

The real treat was forming individual groups on the porch with the prosecutors leading the questions and answers.  I opted for the group which discussed educational  and children issues.  At the end of the seminar, they presented a program which skyped a young woman from Afghanistan who has attempted to educate young girls.   Talking with this brave young lady was a chance of a life time.  Her life is in constant danger, but she continues to try to educate young woman.  She is an example of a real hero for everyone.

We discovered The Kinzua Viaduct which  spanned the Kinzua Gorge for more than a century before it partially collapsed under a tornado in 2003.  It was reinvented as a spectacular pedestrian walkway--The Kinzua Sky Walk, now considered the 8th Wonder of World. It is 301 feet high and 2,053 feet across and breathtaking to look through the glass sections of the viaduct as you walk along.

There are so many museums of interest in the Chautauqua area.  The Fenton Museum in Jamestown was the home and mansion  of Governor Reuben Fenton.  We attended a special event about the Civil War and also enjoyed the information and displays of Jamestown's notables including  a Supreme Court Justice, A Governor, Lucille Ball, and a world renowned naturalist. After visiting surrounding museums, a visit to the Lawson Center is a museum which highlights the boating heritage on Chautauqua Lake.  Many of the boats are made of mahogany and include many insights to "boating" on the lake. The museum is  next to the  floating dock in Bemus Point.

The Lucy Fest was another enjoyable event this summer. You feel that you are part of the Lucy cast when you participate in recreating  the Lucy and Ethel conveyor belt candy feat.  I am looking forward to the Fall Fest at Peek'n Peak, Oct  12-13  and Oct. 19-20 It includes a Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, Pumpkin Canon, craft show, children's crafts and entertainment, petting zoo and pony rides, rail jam, horse and carriage rides, classic car cruise and ski lift rides.  I can't wait to continue the fun activities in the Chautauqua area!