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Friday, March 29, 2013

Vacation Day Two by Margot Justes

The morning was spent at the hotel restaurant, sitting outside in the sunny warmth, drinking coffee, writing my daily journal, and waiting for everyone to join me. I love mornings like that. After a buffet breakfast at the hotel that included everything from freshly squeezed orange juice, to an omelet station to plain Greek yogurt, and not bad restaurant coffee, the day was mine.

On my second day in Ft. Lauderdale, I found the Bonnet House, and wrote a blog about it. I love to walk, so taking a cab was not an option for me, I find pleasure in seeing as much as I can on foot, whenever possible.  All I can say it was an exhausting and exhilarating day, and the trek to find the Bonnet House was worth every blister.

After the visit I went back to the hotel to meet up with friends, who are gold members at the Hilton. Nothing went right for them from registration going forward, the staff apologized at every turn and were always ready with free vouchers; they were flowing at a rapid rate. The last mishap included a sixty dollar credit at the restaurant. Guess where we ate lunch? The management handled everything with aplomb, and abject apologies, and the ever ready free vouchers.
The hotel restaurant was located by the pool, a lovely place to sit and relax. I do not have a Hilton membership, but everything went according to plan, that included a beautiful room, with a view of the water, so there were no free vouchers for me. I do however intend to join the club.

Diet not going too well, after a solid breakfast, we had to use the sixty dollar voucher, after all, we were checking out the next morning for our cruise. A Margherita Pizza seemed like a good idea for lunch, filled with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, it was delicious. The rest of the late afternoon was spent with friends. We fell in love with the Casablanca Café and we went back there again for dinner. We did not go hungry.  
I know we should have tried something new, and usually that is what happens-but you have to realize-the eggplant was simply amazing and not to be missed. I would go back there again just for the Moroccan eggplant. We saw a small fender bender on the A1A, no one was hurt and people involved were chatting amicably. The roar of the cars is amazing on that road, it seems to be non-stop.

After dinner, the walk along the shore was a delight, blisters and all; the area is stunning, we had a full moon and the reflection in the water was mesmerizing.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
www.mjustes.com

 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Day One by Margot Justes

For the first time, I decided to keep a daily log of my vacation, and I would like to share it with you.

The morning arrival at the airport was uneventful, as was the flight to Ft. Lauderdale, just the way I like it.
The Hilton Ft Lauderdale Beach Resort is lovely, the room had a view of the ocean, and the hotel is hidden and a bit away from the hubbub and incredible loud environment along the A1A. Talk about vibe-the ground shook from the all the people drinking, enjoying themselves and the cars roaring up and down the street.

I will I say, I have never seen so many beautiful cars on parade; Lotus, Aston Martin, Ferrari, to name just a few. The revved engines purred like wild kittens. I have retained an affinity for sports cars, in my youth I used follow formula one races.
We decided to eat at Café Casablanca. I had a Moroccan sampler, how can one go to Café Casablanca and not order a Moroccan dish. I also had a traditional gratinee French onion soup. It was almost as good as the ones I used to have in Paris many years ago, in the old market place known as Les Halles; it no longer exists.  

My Moroccan dish had the best ever roasted eggplant with lots of garlic; nice chunks of eggplant and garlic. I love eggplant and garlic. The vampires stayed away, there was so much of it. Positively yummy. Hummus, tabouleh salad served with warm pita completed the meal. The hummus was rich with olive oil and a tad spicy.

The restaurant is situated across street from the water, and dimly lit, so even the atmosphere was pure magic. I highly recommend it. Did I forget to mention we sat outside? We did, and the view was fantastic.
A short stroll back to the hotel in the evening along the shore was delightful. We decided to sit by the Jacuzzi and dunk our feet, too tired to change. I helped my friend down the stoop, she didn’t want to get wet. Alas, I didn’t have a firm grip on her hands, she missed the step and flopped in the water. No worries about getting wet. Much too late for that.

At first we weren’t sure whether to laugh or not, but that lasted for about a second, after making sure she wasn’t hurt, we burst out laughing.  The water was warm and the bubbles soothed my aching feet. Not a bad day-not at all. In fact it was perfect.
Cheers,
Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bonnet House by Margot Justes


I always assumed that Ft. Lauderdale, Florida was all sun and fun, mega yachts on its many waterways, and sports cars that rev up the A1A; the beautiful motorway along the shore. It’s a place to get away from winter, but I found out there is more. There is the Bonnet House.
I found it, but not without getting lost first. Wrong Way Rodal struck again.  I even had a map, but didn’t bother looking at the legend. It was close to the restaurant where we had dinner the night before. So I walked toward the Casablanca Cafe, and walked, and walked, and no Bonnet House. Well, I walked in exactly the opposite direction. The concierge said to turn right, and I sometimes have a problem with left and right, and I turned left, because it was so close to the restaurant. Well, it was not.
It is not an easy place to find, but well worth any effort.  Bonnet House is pure magic. According to our tour guide,  it was so called because there were alligators in the inlets, along with water lilies, and when the gators surfaced, they seemed to wear the lily, and it looked like a bonnet.
The property was originally purchased by the Birch family and later through marriage, American artist Frederic Clay Bartlett, enjoyed spending winters in what was pristine, ocean front property in Ft. Lauderdale . The Birch-Bartlett union brought with it art and philanthropy.
Frederic Bartlett was a successful artist, and in high demand. The house reflects an eclectic taste in art, furniture,  right down to the design of the home. He possessed another talent, his undeniable appreciation of the new art movement in Europe.
Impressionism was in full swing and Post-Impressionism was lurking in the forefront, and he collected what we now consider the masters of that period, Seurat, Gauguin, Matisse, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Renoir, Picasso to name just a few.
Our guide told us Frederic Bartlett offered his collection to the Metropolitan  Museum of Art in New York, and they turned him down. Fortunately for us in the Chicago land area, the Art Institute  did accept his gift.    
Now, whenever I visit my old friends, I’ll thank Mr. Bartlett for his incredible generosity.
If you’re in the Ft. Lauderdale area, do not miss the Bonnet House, it is well worth a visit.
Cheers,
Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com