Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rising High on the Palm Springs Tram!

As I was reviewing my recent blogs of our Palm Springs experience, I realized I had not posted photos of the great views from our rotating tramway experience.

Enjoy!













posted by That Travel Guy @ 8:29 AM  |  0 Comments

Tonight We We Went Looking For Babes!

Babe's, the home of pigs in Palm Springs


All we found were pigs, which of course is what we were looking for.

After driving by the pork oriented restaurant Babes several times, we decided that a slab of ribs might be just what we wanted this evening.

After an enjoyable game of golf with just a couple of muffins for breakfast, we wanted something filling.

It is a restaurant with 'statues' of swine all over the place with a menu that is over half comprised of different pork recipes.

It was a fun and filling choice.

Tahquitz Creek Golf Course

On a more serious basis, the last few days we really have buckled down to the reason we came to this area in the first place.

The greater Palm Springs region has well over a hundred golf tracks. Many of them were created by the top golf designers in the business like Arnold Palmer and Pete Dye just to name a few.

Our first game was at the Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort. Situated just minutes away from downtown Palm Springs and the International airport, the resort offers two championship courses.

We golfed on the new Resort Course designed by course designer Ted Robinson. We played the 6,500 tees. While not a ton of trouble it will give most golfer quite a challenge to navigate it successfully.

The view from this course is really impressive with mountains forming a an excellent backdrop to its waterfall ninth hole.

Rancho Las Palmas Country Club
Yesterday we moved on to the Omni Rancho Las Palmas course connected to the resort at which we were now staying.

The course and other club activities at the Omni are managed by Michael Walker, a Canadian who spent many of his formative years in Regina, Saskatchewan where his parents and other family members still reside.

He went to college in Scottsdale and then eventually made his way to the Palm Springs area, which he loves for its community feel and easy access to most anything you want to do.

From our hotel room we overlook the par 3 sixth water challenge hole on the course.  It is quite fun watching the golfers celebrate or expression their frustration. The pro shop of the  golf course is close and we were able to get there  in just a couple of minutes.

This course has a number of water holes which make it very challenging.

What is most interesting about Palm Springs golf is the manner in which the best golf courses close for a period of time in the fall for what is called over-seeding.

There are three nines and Rancho Las Palmas so the over-seeding is done is stages so two of the three nines are always available to Omni and other guests.

The staff here were also excellent helping with advice and information.

Today we ended up at the Gary Player course at The Westin Mission Hills Golf & Club.

Gary Player course at Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Club 

The Westin has two courses, one, the Pete Dye track is right at the resort. The Gary Player course is a few miles away.

Unlike most golf courses in resort areas this one is not fully surrounded by homes which makes them more open, but no less difficult.

This has been a totally enjoyable golf experience, considering it is our first trip to the Palm Springs area.

Tomorrow we will golf on the Indian Wells course which guarantees to be another positive day, with dinner at the course in the evening.

On this trip to keep in touch with the office as I do on all my 'thattravelguy' excursions, I have been using the Roam Mobility SIM card which is sold at Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre either in store or online.

If you have travel questions or travel comments email me at askjourneys@journeystravel.com .

posted by That Travel Guy @ 12:49 AM  |  0 Comments

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 askjourneys@journeystravel.com. Looking for travel products? Go to www.journeystravelgear.com ...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 www.cjob.com 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://red-jeep.com/ 




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  http://tongahut.com/tonga-hut-palm-springs.html

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.

If have travel questions or travel comments about this blog or anything else travel contact me at askjourneys@journeystravel.com.



  Check out our travel products at www.journeystravelgear.com 



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 www.cjob.com 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.comhttp://www.kaisergrille.com/index.htm .

If you have questions about Palm Springs or other questions in general about travel email me at askjourneys@journeystravel.com

If you are looking for travel products before your next trip check out www.journeystravelgear.com. 

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