Atlantis Alumni

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Spectacular Blue Passionflower

Growing in a container on our deck this summer, the first bloom of a 

Passiflora caerulea...

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Trip Final: London 6/26/18

We spent the final day of our European vacation in warm and sunny London. A visit to the National Gallery is always a treat and so we spent the morning and early afternoon at the museum. Our time there included a lovely lunch at the museum cafe, one of our favorite venues in London, and a visit to the special exhibit on Monet and architecture. Tuesday morning we'll leave the Royal Horseguards hotel in Westminster and begin our trek back home. It's been a great trip!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Further Adventures On The Orient Express, Arrival in London 6/25/18

Sunday morning we awoke in our sleeping compartment on board the Orient Express as it made its way through the French counrtryside toward Paris. Our cabin steward re-configured the cabin from upper and lower sleeping berths to regular seating, then he served us a continental breakfast in the compartment. Around 9 AM we arrived in Paris, where some passengers left the train and it took on fresh supplies and was attended to. After about an hour the train departed for Calais. The culinary highlight of the day was the sumptuous brunch served at about 11:30 am. We had reservations in the third of three different beautifully appointed dining cars in the train consist. All of the dining on board the Orient Express is five star quality. While we were scheduled to arrive in Calais in the early afternoon, we were informed that a signal difficulty would delay the train for about an hour and therefore push back our Chunnel crossing, and arrival in London. When we finally did arrive in Calais, we were informed that the Chunnel was closed due to a power failure, and the crossing would be made by ferry, further delaying things. On the bright side the ferry crossing was pleasant enough with the Belmond Orient Express company providing complimentary drinks and snacks. We also got a glimpse of the famous White Cliffs of Dover as we arrived in England. The final leg of our Orient Express train trip to London was most enjoyable. Serenaded by a four member 20s music band, we boarded a special train at Folkstone, near Dover, that consisted of a rake of beautiful vintage British Pullman cars owned by Belmond that are every bit as beautiful as the Wagons Lits of the Orient Express. Since the twin delays would mean a late arrival in London, we were delighted that the scheduled afternoon tea turned out to be typically lavish and delicious, making a scramble for a late dinner unnecessary once we finally got to our hotel. After such a long an exciting travel day, it felt food to hit the soft pillows in our hotel room in London.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Festivities On Board The Orient Express 6/24/18

The dress code at dinner on board the Orient Express is formal wear. Cocktails in the bar car served with delicious canapes are enjoyed first, with live piano and the vintage sounds of music from the 20s and 30s played by several talented musicians from Berlin. The food on board is of exceptional quality, and the master chef greets all diners at some point during the meal to insure that all was satisfactory. A nightcap in the bar car is followed by a return to one's sleeping compartment, where the steward has re-configured the interior into upper and lower beds. We spent the night traveling through Germany finally crossing the border into France during the early morning hours Sunday. We'll make a brief stop in Paris around 8 am, then continue on toward Calais for our Channel crossing. Once in the UK we'll board a special vintage Pullman car for the final leg of our rail trip destined for Victoria Station, London.

Traveling The Orient Express 6/23/18

We boarded our train Saturday morning in Berlin to begin our overnight adventure on the Orient Express destined for London. The train, pulled by a fast DB German railways electric locomotive includes three dining cars, a bar car, two service cars and several sleeping cars, all vintage rail cars built between the late 1920s and about 1940. All of the cars have been restored to their pristine original condition with beautiful heavily lacquered woodwork and shiny gilded fixtures throughout. The handsome dark blue Wagons Lits cars attract a lot of attention at stations along the route with many people taking photographs of the train. A delicious lunch was served in the dining cars in the early afternoon, preceded by refreshments in the bar car served with a three piece musical accompaniment. Tea tine will be served in our compartment around 4 pm and dinner in the dining cars at about 8 pm. This elegant mode of travel from days long gone is relaxing yet exciting, a rare opportunity to enjoy a real vintage experience.

Berlin 6/23/18

The smaller art museums of Berlin are located in Charlottenburg. First we saw the Berggruen Museum, notable for Picasso, but also featuring works by Matisse, Braque and the Swiss sculptor Giacometti. Across the way was the Brohan Museum with sterling examples of Jugendstil, Art-Nouveau and Art Deco. Less interesting were the minor Surrealist pieces at the Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection. After vegetarian lunches at the very German "Schloss Garden" restaurant - where the owner was an American football fan - we headed to the immense and rewarding Schloss Charlottenberg. The Baroque and Rococo interiors have been lovingly re-created and the palace also has an important group of paintings by Watteau and his followers. Such rooms as the "Golden Gallery" and Chapel are stunning. We returned by subway to rest at the hotel before a final Berlin dinner in our favoritw locale, the Hackescher Courtyard. - Dan