Wednesday, October 22, 2014

An Amazing Restaurant in Palm Springs!

I really want to talk about the great golf opportunities in Palm Springs but an amazing restaurant experience forces me to bring it to the forefront.

Last night at the end of the day of pretty vigorous activity we, as tired as we were, we went to fulfill our reservation for dinner at the French restaurant Le Vallauris in downtown Palm Springs.

Le Vallauris is situated about two blocks off of the main drag Palm Canyon drive on a quiet non commercial street, 385 Tahquitz Canyon Way.

We were greeted inside by the soft music of a truly professional trio of musicians and soon ushered in to our table below the stars. Actually below the canopy of trees that were planted when the restaurant first opened 41 years ago by Paul and Tony Bruggemans.

You can choose to dine inside but why would you not choose the patio option considering its size, greenery coverings, and comfortable seating.

Carey and I would share appetizers here but after each almost wished we had selfishly ordered the entire dish for ourselves.

We started with the Ahi Tuna dish which we both agreed was way more than exceptional and perhaps the best either of us had ever tasted.

Then we shared the pear salad. Also exceptional it was stuffed with blue cheese and surrounded by a most delicious sauce.

Then we shared the goat cheese fritters with endive, also great.

For the main course we would not share the filet steak orders since we each want that for our main course to match the 2007 Chateau Pipeau St Emilion Bordeaux.

With this two inch steak came stuffed mushrooms with creamed spinach and savory mashed potatoes.

Desert...for Carey.... he chose the 3 tasty bites option, while the fruit tart with ice-cream.

I get to eat in a lot of very nice quality restaurants when I travel. This was a most positive experience and should you come to Palm Springs this is quality dining at its best.

Have travel questions or travel comments email me at Looking for travel products? Go to ...For everything you need to travel!

posted by That Travel Guy @ 11:07 AM  |  0 Comments

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Busy Day in Palm Springs!

With a two hour time gap between Winnipeg and Palm Springs, getting up earl,y regardless of when one went to bed, is easy.

Since yesterday was Sunday, the day I do my Journeys Travel Show, I was happy to have the time I required to prepare for the show.

We had experienced a tremendous meal at the Kaiser Grille the night before (as per my previous blog), I had a chance to better explore this property (the Hyatt Palm Springs) and after interviewing a couple of the key staff Carey and I would be soon picked up by the Red Jeep company for a mountain and valley tour of the nearby
Andreus Canyons.

The Hyatt Palm Springs people really did and excellent job on the radio show of painting a picture of the region demonstrating why it has become such a major tourist destination. You can hear that show on the CJOB audio vault at and clicking on to the 12 PM hour of November 19.

Our guide and driver of the Red Jeep was friendly and affable Russ. He really knew the history of the area with loads of stories about how the first natives, the Agua Calliente Cahuilla, built and lived upon these lands.

The rock formations on the mountain sides are impressive and the two hour hike up and down the valleys of the Palm and Andreus Canyons was just right, with enough explanation stops to make it quite easy for this overweight guy to handle.

Contact the Red Jeep Tour company at hhtp:// 

We both needed a rest after we got back to the hotel but it would be a short one since we had make a reservation at a unique new bar and restaurant directly across the street from the Hyatt.

Called the Tonga Hut, this attraction is much more about the drinks than the food at this stage. It's winter menu will not be introduced until next week but its drinks. If you get here you need to go there.

The Tonga Hut builds upon a trend that is bringing back the history of the Tiki Lounge. From Great Falls Montana to Las Vegas, new Beachcomber type lounges are on the rise with a publication called the Tiki Magazine enhancing the aura around this revitalized style of enjoyment.

This is a relatively new establishment with with a sister bar in Los Angeles.

Should you make it there ask to see the secret room.

This structure was obviously built to include a high degree of privacy for the well heeled who did not want to be seen by ordinary folk.

Open a door and on the wall of a small booth is a pay phone, as would be expected in days past.

But push the door when it is not bolted shut from the inside and you enter a private enclave set as both a dining and living room.

Walk in and push the next wall and you are into yet another escape, this one now used as a staff lounge.

While the Tonga Hut offers the traditional Tiki treats like the Mai Tai, the Zombie, and the Pina Colada, they have brought in originals of their own.

We tried the Nutti Chi Chi, the Cucumber Caliente, the Rum Barrel and Burmuda Dunes.

Contacty the Tonga Hut at

After many unique drinks made at the Tonga Hut sleep would come easily for both of us as we looked forward to our first golf game ahead.

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posted by That Travel Guy @ 12:17 AM  |  0 Comments

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Going to Palm Springs? Get to Kaiser Grille for sure!

Prime Rib at the Kaiser Grille

 Carey and I landed in Palm Springs shortly after noon.

The Hyatt Palm Springs, where we are staying, is less than 10 minutes from the airport so we had the entire afternoon to do a bit of exploration.

I am not much of a shopper but my vote didn't count as soon we were on the way to the Desert Hills Premium outlet Mall in Cabazon, about a 20 minute drive.

True to form, Carey bought a number of things for himself and Rachel as I got frustrated looking for a big and tall shop, of which there were none.

Actually I did find a few stores that had my size in a few items, but as I said, I am not much of a shopper.

Finally we were back at the Hyatt for a short rest before heading out for dinner to the Kaiser Grill.

Our room at the Hyatt is perfect. This is an all-suite hotel so Carey and I can watch our own televisions, and since there is also a pull out couch, even though we have two double beds he can escape to the living room area if one of the people in the bedroom happens to snore.

The view from our bedroom balcony is truly magnificent with the swimming pool and lounge area immediately below us, the greenery of a golf course just across the road, and all this framed by a mountain in the background.

I will try to post both hotel photos and the view from here later today.

I have to credit Hillary Angel of the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism for recommending the Kaiser Grille where we dined last night.

This truly was a magnificent experience from both  service and quality of food perspectives.

We shared appetizers. Mussels and sauce were spectacular!

Carey and I shared three appetizers. As good as the mussels were, should you get to this restaurant you need to try the Ahi Tuna Poke. A blend of mango , avocado, cucumber, seaweed salad, sake soy sauce served in a tuile cup made it an absolutely delicious treat; one of the best appetizers I have ever had.

I chose a beet salad while Carey went with the Caesar.

We shared again and the Caesar was truly a traditional Caesar with anchovies included. You can leave them out if you want but they sure added to the taste.

Carey and I agreed we were going to go with different main courses but with the raving reviews of the server neither of us wanted to switch from our salivating desire for prime rib.

While I missed the idea of reviewing another option both of us were extremely pleased with the choices we had made.

There were fancy desserts but I stayed with a scoop of ice cream while Carey went with a sorbet type option.

Mark Anderson, whom we met is the affable and interesting manager of the Kaiser Grille. Originally from Great Britain he has travelled around, working with Wolfgang Puck and other top chefs, he finally settled in Palm Springs, an interesting story unto itself.

If you are receiving this blog as I complete it on Sunday morning, be sure to listen to the Journeys Travel Show on at noon CST.  Mark will be my guest as will people from the Hyatt who will talk about the region as well as their own property.

If you don't listen live you can also listen to it later by going to the audio vault past shows which are posted within a couple of hours after the live show runs.

You can see some of the menus of the Kaiser Grille at http://www.kaisergrille.com .

If you have questions about Palm Springs or other questions in general about travel email me at

If you are looking for travel products before your next trip check out 

posted by That Travel Guy @ 9:58 AM  |  0 Comments

Friday, October 17, 2014

Palm Springs is on my immediate horizon!

I may not have the photos yet but in my mind's eye I can visualize what sights are about to welcome me.

It is strange, given all the travel I have done, that I have never been to this beautiful area before.

I have many friends who either vacation in the Palm Springs area or winter there.

Starting tomorrow my first experience begins. And it couldn't be better given the fact it will be another golf discovery tour with my son Carey.

We have done this to some great golf destination annually except for last year when we welcomed my amazing grand daughter Misha to the family fold.

I will try to report on our experiences every day going forward. Our first stop will be the Hyatt Palm Springs, which is an all suite property.

Perhaps Carey will be able to escape my night snoring in an adjacent connect...or me escaping his.

Either way it promises to be a great time!
posted by That Travel Guy @ 11:39 AM  |  0 Comments

Friday, August 1, 2014

Passport Renewal – the nightmare that wasn’t

Guest Blogger – Denise F. of Journeys

It was that time again, time to renew the passports. We were dreading it. We’d last renewed our passports 5 years ago and it wasn’t fun. The rejected pictures, getting there before they open, not enough chairs in the waiting room, lineups down the hall, the cranky federal servants. Not something we were anxious to repeat!

Our plan was to do anything and everything we could to keep our visit under 2 hours.

First, we were going to renew in summer. Definitely better than high travel season when half the city is trying to escape the cold.

Second, we were going mid-week. Although in peak season it might not make much difference, in summer I was hopeful.

Plus, we chose the Tuesday before a long weekend hoping people were preparing for other plans or already out of town.

Originally we intended to get there shortly after they opened but delay after delay saw us get there closer to 11am. I was not amused. This was really going to mess up our day.

I was not amused.
We drove around a couple blocks, found a parking spot and made our way in.

Several people in the elevator were also going to the passport office so we hit the button and up we went. (BTW – that’s probably the fastest elevator in Winnipeg!)

When we walked through the double doors it was as I suspected: lineups, people at the counters finishing their paperwork, and no two chairs together. We walked up to the gentleman who gives out the “deli counter numbers” and got our ticket. But what had he said? We thought we hadn’t heard him right. We were up in four??

We took a closer look around the room. Okay, so there were some chairs available after all, in fact a whole section hardly being used. And those lineups? Large families including two with strollers. At the counters, where people were putting the finishing touches on their paperwork, it was actually just 2 couples. But still, how could we be fourth?

Turns out, the simplified passport renewal is a get-out-of-line free card!

There are a few conditions to qualify for this method. First, you have to be over 18. You also have to have a current passport, or your last passport has to be expired for less than a year. You had to have been at least 16 when that passport was issued to you. And finally, you have to be in Canada. All pretty straightforward!

For a passport renewal you definitely want to fill it out online. This way, the system can tell you if you’re missing anything important. It makes things a lot faster at the window if they don’t have to ask a lot of questions, or worse, send you away to do it again.

So, with photos in hand and paperwork completed online we had walked into the passport office with trepidation. When you reach the person who greets and gives out your number in line they ask if it’s a simplified renewal, or new. Turns out if it’s a simplified renewal your number gets pulled from a different queue.
So while some people in the waiting room were going to be there for an hour or more, we were behind just three other people!

When it was our turn we headed to a wonderful agent, cheerful and friendly. She asked a couple questions, checked all our paperwork (which didn’t need any changing or clarifications), and we were on our way. The entire process was less than 20 minutes from lobby and back again.

Now that’s the way to renew a passport!

Playa del Carmen



posted by That Travel Guy @ 10:43 AM  |  1 Comments

Friday, June 6, 2014

Four Days in Pittsburgh Changed my mind

Amazing stay at the Buhl Mansion an hour and a half from Pittsburgh!
No one I know actually decides to go to Pittsburgh.

It is an out of the way place, it seems, whose image is dominated by steel and three major sports franchises.

But after my first visit the worm has turned.

The people seem extremely friendly, the rivers give it a nice feel, and the lush greenery of a city nestled below large rolling hillsides make it quite attractive.

It is a city loaded with culture. Some rich people keep while others give.

It seems that Pittsburgh has done well as its wealthiest citizens of the past for sure put back into their city in big ways.

There are lots of them but perhaps it is the legacy of Andrew Carnegie, that great turn of the 20th century industrialist who made the biggest impact by spreading his fortune around the city building icons of culture that last to the present day.

The art museum houses pieces of past and present.

The legacy lead to the foundation of the Andy Warhol museum and the displays of dinosaur bones seems as complete as anywhere.

The steel industry is gone but the city has reinvented itself and renovated the old broken down areas...turning them into a gathering strip for young and old.

Pittsburgh is also a city that will not break your pocket book. Golf is very inexpensive. Food and beverage prices are moderate and even hotel prices seem more manageable than other jurisdictions.

All in all a perfect first visit. Now I want to go back and explore other areas including Gettysburg where the great battle of the civil war took place.

On this trip I used both my PacSafe RFID wallet and my Eagle Creek Necksafe.

I golfed with my protective Tilley hat and wore two of my best ExOfficio shirts for half my days.

If your on the go take a look at the wide selection of travel products at the Journeys website at

If you have travel questions or travel comments email me at .

posted by That Travel Guy @ 5:21 PM  |  1 Comments

Friday, April 11, 2014

Make Sure Souvenirs Are All You Bring Back From Your Holiday !

There have been a number of recently publicized cases where returning travelers to their home countries, including Canada, have come back and gotten quite ill from diseases they have brought back with them.
A recent study states that many of these cases that developed could have been prevented.
Some of those diseases that returned with the travelers, such as malaria, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, along with typhoid fever and tuberculosis could have been prevented by a simple visit to a travel health professional.
Others could have been minimized by a visit to a doctor when the first signs of any kind of usual or unusual symptoms of illness were first felt after their return.
These cases are on an increase, not just because of vacation travel, but in an increasingly mobile population commerce is carried out in every corner of the world. Not your usual traveler adventure seekers are increasingly looking far off the beaten path of normal vacation destinations for satisfaction. It is therefore no wonder that contact with communicable diseases is growing.
The study pointed out the fact that two thirds of the patients in the study, which included over 4000 participants, did not even try to consult a doctor for input before departing on their journeys.
The study underscored that even for the most popular vacation destinations where we may take travel health safety for granted; some measures of caution and protection are usually advised.
These include vacations in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Mexico, where the greatest numbers of Canadians travel.
At least 20 percent of returned travelers suffer some kind of illness or other.
Longtime immigrants to Canada often feel, because of their history and culture relating to the country from which they came, that they don’t need to take the same pre-travel health precautions. They believe because they once lived in the country, they are immune to diseases that the rest of the populations of visitors are susceptible to catch.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The facts are that those travelers who went back to visit friends and relatives require medical treatment in double the numbers of all returned travelers. And worst of all, this group also were in the lowest percentage of all those who chose to meet with a professional for pre-travel consultation.
The immunity that they may have had when living in the country is eroded more quickly than most expect when they start living under the standards in a health developed environment of Canada or the United States.
While pre-travel consultations are very important there are other actions travelers should undertake when they are visiting any country where health standards are not up to those here in  Canada.
If you are already under medication for medical issues you have had, the most obvious of recommendations is to be sure to check with your own physician before you even consider booking a trip to be satisfied he or she supports that decision.
Carry more medication than you will need, and whenever possible keep them in the original containers. Never store medications in your checked baggage.
Stay away from fruits that don’t need peeling and never eat raw meat, fish, or shellfish in countries or resorts where you are not sure of their storage and usage policies.
While it really is exciting to want to try foods sold by street vendors, safety first would suggest you avoid the desire to do so. It may seem like you are experiencing local life better when you do, but your innards may balk at the intrusion.
Stick to commercially bottled water, soft drinks, and fruit juices over tap water. There is a number of water purifying tablets and liquids that can be purchased as well.
If you are travelling to a region where mosquitoes are prevalent be sure to take along insect repellent containing the largest amount of DEET you can find. The higher the concentration the longer the product will protect you. A repellent with 30% DEET should provide protection for about 6 hours.
Even during hot evenings long sleeves and long pants and socks are advised. Light coloured clothing attracts fewer bugs.
For traveler's diarrhea treatment and prevention, there are some over the counter products that can be taken to prevent or alleviate at least some of the symptoms.
To repeat my on-going precautions in this area always check and double check your travel health insurance policies to know inclusions and exclusions beforehand.
In Winnipeg you can book your pre-travel health visit with the Journeys Travel Clinic by calling 204 982-9489. Other places in Canada can be found at
For safety and other prevention and comfort travel accessory products visit  on line. You will find just about everything you need to travel anywhere in the world on that site.

posted by That Travel Guy @ 1:03 PM  |  1 Comments