Taos, New Mexico

Road trip! 12 hour drive. Going to fly fish in NW New Mexico in the “Juan” or San Juan River properly. 

First stop, Taos to see the Taos Pueblo. It is the only living Native American community. Also has UNESCO designation. We had driven to Santa Fe in February and the Pueblo is closed to the public for 10 weeks in the winter.  Need coffee!

Guess what? The Taos Pueblo was closed again. It is only 2 miles north of downtown Taos, but a separate community. We drove up and there was a teenager dressed in black, holding up his hand and a sign saying Pueblo closed today. We had to pull into a parking lot to turn around. I went to ask the young man. “So the Pueblo is closed”? (Yes obviously). He then told me there was a funeral. There were several older women dressed in full black. I said sorry for your loss. We had to go back down the road we came in on. 
We looked at other things to do, besides shop and eat. Low and behold there is fly fishing nearby. All of the guides were busy. We did drive 10 miles to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.  Second highest US Highway system bridge. It is on US 64. 
We walked the bridge. It is only 1280 feet long. Took photos. It was amazing to see this Canyon in the middle of flat fields. Nice day.  Best part was the Native Indians selling handmade goods. Did I see jewelry? Oh yes I did. Fell in love with several pieces. Bought one 3 strands of beads. See photo 
Husband asked the elderly Indian lady where she was from. A different Pueblo over the mountains. He then asked “Do you know who died in Taos Pueblo”?  She said it was a young man who committed suicide. 
There it went, swoosh, all my disappointment about not seeing the Taos Pueblo again.  It was a beautiful day, a beautiful place to be, we were together on another adventure. No more disappointment. 
We stayed at the nicest local hotel. El Pueblo on Hwy 64, within walking distance of Historic Taos.  Very nice property, excellent upkeep and updates.  Wood ceilings. Tile floors. Nice bed. Lots of lights. Nice linens. Best full Buffett breakfast we have found on the road. Definitely 5/5. There’s a hot tub and pool too. 
We ate at Orlando’s, nice Tex-Mex/NewMexican Cuisine. It is a short 1.3 mile drive north of the hotel. No sidewalks to walk all that way. Hwy 64 is the main road in town and is busy. No honking. No road rage. 
We did some shopping in the John Dunn shops. Great book store, 2 stories. Many used books. Great mineral store. Saw things like Bowls made from Zebra Onyx, I had never seen before. Lady in shop was great. Not pushy. 
Husband found Guerrilla Expressions, a funny T-shirt and bumper sticker shop. Let’s just say they don’t like Trump in Taos. 
We then drove to Santa Fe to have linner. (Late Lunch early dinner) at Jambos. More on that in the next piece. 

Allegiant Air

Being retired means finding bargains. We decided to test out a discount airline. Allegiant flies directly to a few cities and airfares start at $59 each way. Cheaper airlines may use smaller airports. However we liked the non stop both ways.

We made our plans only 30 days in advance for March in Florida. Southwest did not beat the total price and I bought many extras.

Since a few friends have asked for a report here it is. I say give it a try but check against other airlines once you figure all the add ons.


Buy the cheapest flight. Nice new planes. No WiFi. No free drink even water, no peanuts.   The seats don’t recline. Very clean. 

Every cost is both ways.  So double it for total cost. We used electronic boarding passes on our phones. There is a charge to print boarding passes at the airport.


If it fits under your seat you are allowed one free personal bag. You have to stuff your purse in that personal bag. Most people use backpacks or duffles.

Checked bag only 40 pounds, not 50. $25 when you buy your ticket.

You can pay $20 for a standard roll on. Or if you really need to put your carry on bag up for leg room. I need to put my bag up and I did pay $20 each way.  In hindsight there was plenty of bin space. Will not be doing that again. Savings $40. Medical devices like CPAPs, canes are free. 

However unless you buy Priority Access another $7 or so each way, you will be zone 5 or zone 4.  We bought one priority access and were able to cut the check in line. Being zone 5 was not a problem.

You will get a seat.  No guarantees on bin space.  However this was not a problem since we reserved seats and most people try to fly as cheap as possible.

Reserving seats next to each other costs $12-$15 each way.  Front of plane is more.  Extra leg room is more. Figure it was about $50 total for us to sit by each other.  Not sure we would sit apart. 💑

Middle seats in the back are the cheapest.

Most people choose to save the money and not sit together. They do not allow seat switching. Unless there is a big reason. Ex. A guy paid for a window seat. Is in the last seat of the plane and it has no window.

On our return flight the back of the plane had empty rows so I moved behind my assigned seat so we would not be so cramped. They do not encourage this, do it when the flight attendants are not looking. 

Talking to our friends that use Allegiant to go back and forth between KC and Punta Gorda (near Ft. Myers). They only bring a back pack. Do not reserve seats. However they buy the insurance so they can change their flights.

Another story about TSA and the Punta Gorda Airport.  You should get there 2 hours before your flight leaves. They start boarding 30minutes before take off. And they are fast. It is an old fashioned TSA. John and I both had to do a pat down. Took over 30 minutes to get through and there were only 2 people in front of us in the first line. 

Punta Gorda is a bit of a headache.  More Later.

It was a beautiful trip

Lost Dutchman Mine

What sounds better a lost treasure? Or Superstition? We decided to do a hike at the Lost Dutchman Mine State Park, in Apache Junction, southeast Phoenix in the Superstition Mountains.  So we opted for both 

A few things to do in this area. Goldfield Ghost Mine http://goldfieldghosttown.com/ a historic old mining town with wooden sidewalks, a small train ride, a saloon, a bordello, ice cream, a jail, horseback riding, and several small shops. I bought some Queen Mine Coal Black Soap. No it doesn’t make you dirty. It’s a charcoal base and you better hope you don’t get this coal in your stocking.

We spent about an hour hiking up 200 feet the Treasure Loop Trail (#56). It continues to go up and then back down. A total of 2.5 miles. We saw a horse tour go by. Truly felt like we were in the Wild Wild West. This is a less heavily traveled area. Highly recommend for a half day or even full day trip from Phoenix.  We ran out of daylight and time to see the Lost Dutchman Mine Museum across from the Goldfield Ghost mining town. There is a $7 stateLost Dutchman State Park park daily pass fee. Or $75 for 12 months. 
Green dessert!

Amsterdam Food Tour

We took an Amsterdam Food tour, with Amsterdam Urban Adventures. Tyler was our amazing guide, They also offer Beer tours and Bicycle food tours. There were only 5 of us in the group so it was very enjoyable. No crowd!This was so worth it! About $50 each.

The food was mostly “fast” food, as that is what is popular and people do eat standing up. . the group can decide  if you prefer savory or sweet. Beyond all the food offerings, there was a great deal of history and architecture.
Unfortunately the favorite herring kiosk Frans Haringhand was closed. But I think I was the only one that actually wanted herring.
We had the Famous Dutch Fries at Vleminckx, Literally a hole in the wall shack, There is a line at Voetboogstraat 33. Fries to order are served in a cone with a choice of mayo sauces, including a curry. Potatoes are cut and then fried, no frozen, no pre-mashing, no starch on the outside.Fries were invited in Belgium not France! Who knew?
Stroopwaffels, Big thin waffles with a caramel filling. These are everywhere, so many choices, very fancy with toppings at van Wonderen, or Kwekkebbom, we held off until Old town for Lanskrron on Singel Centrum. It is a good place to sit outside and people watch as cars, bicycles and people interminglenavigate this small intersection. . The cookies come in a choice of regular of coffee caramel and are baked to a crisp in the oven. Instead of cooked very thin in a waffle iron. YUMMMM!
We were amazed by the “automats” for vending coming back, self service hamburgers. See photos, Any one else remember these from the 70’s?
At a HEMA, had the dutch sausage (hot dog) in a paper wrap without a bun but with a side of mustard. HEMA which is like a Target, besides the stores, has popups in various locations,
Non food stop at Theater Tuschinski, an old Art Deco Movie Theater, that was not bombed. Do not eat the popcorn, it is not popped on site.. You can walk in the lobby to see the artwork and murals.So worth the visit.
Stopped at Rembrandt Square. Life size Night Watch statues
We ate at Von Dobben. which is so old the alley is named Korte Van Dobbenwarsstraat. Kroket or know as Croquettes, which are fried with a filling of mashed potatoes and bacon. I did no t care for these, but the Dutch love their potatoes. We had other croquettes with other fillings which were very good.
Tyler also gave great recommendations for other restaurants. Casa di David, best Italian in town, Seafood Bar, several locations, Best Fresh Seafood prepared many different ways. d’Vijff Vlieghen (five Fireflies)  Which is very expensive. We did not have time to go there. We had other great meals though.
Cheese, wonderful cheese,Go out of your way and look for Dutch Delicacy, wow you can eat so many samples and bring the vacuum wrapped cheese back to the USA. We bought Ed’s Farmer Cheese, which was a style of Gouda with those tasty lactic acid crystals and a black olive Gouda. I wanted to buy a lot more, they did travel well, because the cheeses are fairly dry and not too fatty. Customs had no problem as long as they are vacuum packed, do not bring meat back!
Next stop for a sit down for little puffy pancakes, I think these are called poffitjes, served hot. Butter, Powdered sugar and brown cane syrup, they don;t have maple trees, Recommend to shake powdered sugar all over the pile,dip in butter, dip in a pool of cane syrup. These were tasty but I am not a big pancake fan, Busy old place, not a lot of ambiance, but the bar looked nice.
Last stop for a drink,Jenever,(gin or corn derived) but we had Bols flavored shots. This was De Drie fleshjes (Three little bottles).a “brown” bar. It was established around 1650 and used by politicians to make deals. Brown bars mean old and literally brown from all the smoking that used to be allowed. It did not smell of smoke but was small, We sat outside.
The most charming thing was the 5 of us crowded in, and two younger Dutch guys at the small bar offered to move out of our way/. Has his ever happened in the US?  I would go back here due to the charm. Amazing how a small experience like that can make you feel welcome.

In the photo there is a church behind us with a “head” shop in the neon lights. On the other side of the church was an erotic shop. No ideas of NIMBY (not in my back yard). Everyone tolerates everyone. There were no homeless or beggers to be seen, Quite a feat as everywhere else we go including the USA we see the people begging.
Automatic Food!
 Wow and this was only for 2 and 1/2 hours. Did we mange to eat dinner? Yes we did but that’s another story.
More Later,

Amsterdam. Rijksmuseum and ADAM Restaurant

Remember those Dutch Masters Cigars? You can see this painting at the Rijksmuseum

First of all book your tickets to Van Gogh before you leave and Ann Frank Museum, months before you leave. Both sell out. 

We left the Viking boat at 9:30. Went to the Amsterdam Marriott dropped our bags. A very short walk to the museum. 

For The Rijksmuseum book on line so you can avoid the ticket buying lines. I used my phone 

Most good restaurants require a reservation. Especially on a Friday or Saturday. Dutch love their reservations. 

Loved this painting by Therese Schwartz. Very few others paintings by women. The colors and pose drew my attention.

If you like art the Rijksmuseum holds the most Rembrandts, Veemers, and old Dutch paintings. If you preload the Rijksmuseum App you can use your app for the Audio tour. If not it is 5 Euro to rent a headset. Very nice and takes you to the highlights. Go early. Go late. It is crowded midday. They have a restaurant we did not eat there. 

Rijksmuseum allows no flash photos. Van Gogh Museum does not allow photos. 

Found Pier 62, Fish and Chips Place for lunch. Leidsesplene area. I had the fish soup which was good but plain compared to Cipponio. Plenty for lunch. John had the fish w fries and the Dutch Mayo. Yum and decadent.  

Walked the streets for a while. 

Dinner at ADAM. 50 Euro for 5 course surprise menu. You have to ask for a drivers version of the wine pairing, only 18.75 Euro. The waiter did a fantastic job of explaining each wine. None from California but from all over the world. Menu is either meat/fish or vegetarian. When you reserve you can note food allergies. 

above is one of the Fish Dishes

Courses included an amuse bouchée. Croquettes with a tapananade inside were my favorite.  
Croquettes are an Amsterdam thing. These are little fried balls with a stuffing. Typical mashed potatoes. Yuk. 

Above photo was dessert. I had “knocked” it down. It looked better.

The food was complex, so I did not get the full descriptions. Service was great. Food was tasty, fresh, and well presented. Wine was fantastic. 

Courses as best I can remember. 
Cod with a German Dry Riesling. Bullfish with an Australian Semillion/Chardonnay blend. Pheasant with a South African “Good Hope” Pinot Noir style. Venison with a bold Spanish red Laya brand, Grenache blend. Finished with a papaya citrus dessert served w a small but sweet nutty “brownie”. Served with an Australian Three Rivers sweet wine. 

So worth it!  One note insist on tap water wherever you eat. Bottled water is always offered and costs 5 E each. The water here is fine. Beer and wine and fairly cheap compared to the USA.

Nativity scene from Rijksmuseum for Ellen T.

More Later

Kinderdijk, Netherlands

Kinder=child. Dijk=Dam/Dike
This was the last site we toured with Viking. The guide said children were used to dig the ditches to help w lowering the water levels. 

Yeah! The sun came out. It was cool but a beautiful afternoon, as you will see in the photos. 

Kinderdijk is a Museum. People do pay to live in the 17 windmills on this property. They cannot change anything as it is an UNESCO world heritage site. 

Windmills were 90 percent for reducing the water levels. Very few were used for “milling”.  Once steam power was invented then electrical. The dykes are kept dry even though below sea level by huge augers. 

Lots of beautiful photos. Load the boat towards Amsterdam. 

This area mostly grows lots of grass. The cows munch around the plots surrounded by water.

Cows make milk. Man makes cheese. Gouda?
Below is a photo of the steering device so the sails catch the wind. Lots of work!


Cologne Germany on All Saints Day

Bells ringing and ringing for 30 minutes before holy day mass at Cologne Cathedral. The 24 ton St. Peter’s bell is only rung on high holy days. It is the heaviest swinging bell in the world. Along with lots of bells including an 11 ton and 6 ton. 

First noted how the cathedral is dark and dirty. It is right next to the Banhoff or large train station and for years when steam powered engines were used, the soot from the wood or coal burning engines deposited on the Cathedral. 

We did see part of the old Roman Wall. All roads lead to Rome means that. There is a road that you can walk from the Cologne Cathedral to Vatican City. 

Our Viking provided tour guide here was fantastic. Lots of stories. All of Cologne was bombed by the Allies except the Cathedral. His own parents were rescued from the rubble after several days by an America G.I.  The G.I. gave up his meat in a can and a chocolate bar to his starving parents, then he took them to the nearest medical help.  Photo below shows devastation.

Cologne makes Klosch beer. You can only get it here. It’s warm fermented with an ale yeast.  Then conditioned in cool temperatures like a lager, but has short shelf life  Several beer halls exist. They will keep refilling your beer glass unless you put a coaster on top of it. At the fifth beer you are buying one for the bartender. We did not have time for all this drinking.

We went back to the Cathedral after mass to see the gold and silver plated Shrine of the Three Magi. This large case holds the bones of the Three Magi.

It is a beautiful church. Soaring ceilings with stained glass. Dark wood choir stalls. Two organs. Beautiful side chapels some with porcelain figures. This Cathedral was on my bucket list so I am done. 

We finished our afternoon at the train station, paid 1 Euro for the toilet. (Very clean with an attendant). John had his first Starbucks of the trip. We enjoyed a slice of apple pie. Which was almost 3 inches deep with mostly apples and not a lot of filling/sugar.

Even though it was chilly and raining we had a wonderful time in the city. They have one of the craziest Mardi Gras according to our guide. There are also tons of bachelor parties in Cologne. I would not want to be part of that craziness.

We saw Berliners, jelly filled donuts in every bakery. Remember JFK said “Ich ben ein Berliner”? In Cologne it means “I am a jelly filled donut”.  

Then Bill Clinton visited and said “Ich ben ein Kölsch). Which can mean “I am a beer” 

Cracks me up.