By Don and Linda Freedman

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Argentina, Buenos Aires - Jan-Mar 2010
Argentina, Buenos Aires - Jan-Mar 2009
Argentina, Buenos Aires - Jan-Mar 2008
Austria - Fall 2005
Belgium, Brussels - Fall 2000
Canada - Summer 2002
Canada - Summer 2001
Canada - Summer 2000
Czech Republic - Spring 2000
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France, Paris - Fall 2000
France, Paris - Spring 1999
France, Lyon - Spring 1999
Germany, Berlin - Fall 2009
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Greece - Fall 2012
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Hungary - Spring 2000
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Netherlands - Spring 2000
Portugal, Azores - 2019
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Portugal, Sao Miguel & Lisbon - 2017
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Portugal, Azores - 2016
Portugal, Azores - 2015
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Portugal, Azores - 2013
Portugal, Azores - 2012
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Portugal - Fall 2006
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Spain, Barcelona - Winter 2006
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U.S. Florida, Key West - Fall 2006
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U.S. Maine - Summer 2002
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U.S. New York State - Fall 2005
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U.S. New York State - Summer 2001
U.S. Washington,DC - Spring 2000


Summer 2004

The Rochester <-> Toronto Ferry is no longer operational!


An exciting event occurred on June 17th, 2004. The first new border crossing in about 50 years was opened between the United States and Canada. Luckily for us, it links our home town of Toronto, Ontario with Rochester, New York.

With Lake Ontario permanently settled between the two cities and no bridge in sight, the vehicle for creating the international passageway is a high speed ferry, named The Spirit of Ontario, commonly known by its nickname, The Breeze. This four deck catamaran can reach 50 plus miles per hour and can carry 750 people, 220 cars and 10 trucks or tour buses. It was built by Austal Ships of Western Australia. The Spirit of Ontario ferry arriving in Toronto

When an editorial appeared in our newspaper expounding the virtues of Rochester, accompanied by an ad offering opening package specials, we were onboard. The package we chose included our passage, one night in The Clarion Riverside Hotel and transfer to and from the hotel.

The ferry leaves Toronto from the Cherry Street port area just east of the downtown core. We took the subway to Union Station where we transfered to bus 72B on the south side of Front St. just east of Bay St. We were dropped off right in front of the departure terminal where we were greeted and treated with smiles, energy and excitement from the ticket office and the Breeze staff. This same attitude and demeanor was prevalent when we arrived in Rochester. Even the customs officials managed to be cheerful at both ends. The day was sunny and clear and the views of the city skyline, the Toronto Islands and the sailboats on the sparkling lake kept Linda snapping away. The waiting area was comfortable and complimentary coffee was available.

We got a heads-up from the staff that "The Breeze" was 10 minutes out and we dashed outside to watch its progress to the dock. At five stories tall, 284 feet long and 78 feet wide, it is as big as a football field. As it drew near we were intrigued that something so large could be designed to look so sleek.

The cheerful crew welcomed us onboard where we were impressed with the interior design featuring agreeable colors of blue and tan. This was more like a cruise ship than a ferry. Our biggest problem was which seating to choose. The upholstered chairs are in high back and low back. There are groupings around tables that are ideal for people traveling together or to easily enjoy a meal or beverage from the bistro cafe or bars. We had met Maureen and Harry from Australia in the departure lounge so we shared big blue chairs and a table for what turned out to be a smooth voyage across Lake Ontario, skimming along the sparkling waters. Harry and Maureen will be joining TheTravelzine when they get back to Queensland at the end of September.

There are sufficient amenities to make the scheduled two and a quarter hour crossing just fly by; a bistro cafe and bars, satellite television, two cinemas, video game room, children's play area, duty free shopping, wireless internet service and a business class lounge.


Yacht club on approach to the Port of RochesterAs we approached the Rochester Port we were impressed by the gorgeous beach and park area, as well the attractive marina and yacht club. The newly constructed terminal is very pleasant and efficient. We were quickly thru customs and on our way only to find that the van from the hotel had not arrived. The sales representative at The Breeze station was on the phone immediately and our transportation was on the way.
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The Clarion Riverside, 120 East Main Street is located on the banks of the Genesee River in the city center. The hotel offers complimentary transportation service to its guests; just drop by the bell stand to make a reservation. We found the staff to be extremely caring and helpful offering thoughtful advice and suggestions. Our large king bedded room and sitting area included an ironing board and iron, a safe, microwave, coffee maker with the fixings, internet access and a large screen TV. The furnishings were of good quality and taste. The bathroom was nice size and supplied with an array of personnel care products.

Since it was now mid afternoon and we had tickets for the 7:30 show at The Downstairs Cabaret, we decided to walk over to the nearby High Falls area, named for the 96 foot waterfall in the Genesee River Gorge. By the way, the Genesee River is the only river in the U.S. that flows south to north. A few steps north of the hotel, we crossed the river on the Sister Cities pedestrian bridge which took us to State St. where we proceeded north to Platt St. turning right to the Ponte de Rennes pedestrian bridge high over the gorge with picture perfect views (quite appropriate as Rochester is the home of Kodak) of the falls. There is a nightly laser show during the summer months.

At the end of the bridge is the High Falls Brewing Company. The production plant of the brewery resembles a small castle. Rochester is historically an industrial town and many of its factory buildings were beautifully designed and built with pride in this heritage. There are some wonderful industrial and mill buildings beginning to be refurbished around this National Register Historic District housing restaurants, nightclubs, pubs, gift and souvenir shops and offices.

At the Visitors Center at High Falls, 60 Browns Race, there is a museum depicting the history of the Rochester's industrial development from 1812. The waters of the falls were diverted and sent rushing through a maze of water passages turning giant water wheels and turbines which raised huge triphammers that flattened iron tools. The mills along the banks of the Genesee produced lumber, scythes and flour (became known as the world's leading producer of flour) with the natural power of the falling water. When the Erie Canal opened in 1825 linking the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, Rochester became a boom town. On the second floor of the Center is a wonderful gallery displaying and selling the works of local artists. There is a signature yellow cab on the museum level in which you can relax in the rear seats and enjoy an entertaining ten minute video presentation of the highlights of the city. Here's an important tip: feel free to use the clean bathrooms at the High Falls Visitors Center.

One of the giant water wheels and a turbine are still in place and an awesome sight. There is a Festival Site with terraces that provides a close up view of the falls but we could not take advantage of it as the site was closed in preparation for an evening concert. We learned that Rochester has a great schedule of concerts and fairs of all kinds throughout the year.
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When Linda and I get the overwhelming urge for barbecued ribs we are off to Cafe Klos in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. But we now have a much closer option when the need arises. The Dinosaur is at the corner of South Ave. and Court St. in a vintage train station (1905). When we were two blocks away, finding the place was just a matter of following our noses.

This Rochester institution was founded by three bikers so it came as no surprise to find the small parking lot filled with bikes (it didn't hurt that there was a Harley-Davidson convention in town). We figured that everybody must be going to an early show because the joint was jumping. Their slogan is that it is "a genuine honky tonk rib joint" and that it is. Walking into the open kitchen the aroma and sight of ribs on the grill, pulled pork sandwiches being put together and folks eagerly waiting to be seated really gets the hunger into full gear. Walking to our table the sight of platters of ribs, chicken, beef brisket, pulled pork and steaks with sides of mashed potatoes, fries, cole slaw, cajun corn and lots more just added to our cravings.

We were sure everything was wonderful, but we were very focused on ribs and ordered a full rack to share. All mains come with a choice of two sides dishes and since we had heard that the mashed potatoes were amazing, we ordered double mashed. The ribs are very, very special. They are smoked for 6-8 hours. When ordered they are coated with a luscious barbecue sauce and placed on the grill allowing the sauce to become caramelized. The result is tender pork on the bone with a crisp exterior. Sheer heaven for rib lovers. The real, peppery mashed potatoes are a perfect partner for the ribs. The rack was huge and the portions of mashed generous. The prices are very reasonable for the quality, service and environment. Live blues are featured in the evening.
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The Downstairs Cabaret Theatre, located at 20 Windsor St., is incorporated as a not-for-profit organization. It is funded by corporate and individual sponsorship as well as ticket sales and various revenue generating activities. Although there are generally fifteen to twenty productions per year, last year there were thirty. In addition there are performances in satellite facilities around the area. Productions range from world premieres of new works to second productions (following NYC premieres) of other plays. They also have an educational mission for students and adults.

The seating is typical cabaret style around individual tables. The theatre seats 99. This evenings play was “I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change". Last year it became Off-Broadway's longest-running musical. A comfortable chair, a glass of red wine and we were on our way to a lovely evening. The show portrays the many different stages of relationships, from dating to marriage, parenthood and the death of a spouse. It was pure fun with a few moments of seriousness. The lyrics and music were delightful and beautifully presented by an accomplished cast.
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We had heard that there was a very special shop in the Southeast part of town, Rochester's cultural hub. Since we were in the market for a few special gifts for friends and relatives we had the Clarion van drop us at the corner of Park Ave. and Goodman at Parkleigh. The moment we entered, it was evident that this was a unique store. The history of the establishment tells it all. Two pharmacist brothers opened a small drug store in 1960. The front shop of health and beauty aids and greeting cards etc. gradually expanded, as did the space, leading to the eventual demise of the pharmacy. Today it is a creative collection of the finest lines of products for the home and body. The greeting cards are still there but not the mass market brands, rather a large assortment of wonderfully interesting choices. Next to the cards you can choose a nibble or gift from a variety of candy from fine chocolates and truffles to jelly beans.

Mackenzie-Childs at Parkleigh in Rochester, N.Y.As we wandered thru the original wood floors and brick walls into the various rooms formed by the expansion of the space we were captivated by the comfortable environment and the thoughtful product presentation. The sales staff were knowledgeable, helpful and friendly without being aggressive in any way.

It's a wonderful shop whether you want to pamper yourself or someone else. If you're in the market for innovative and a bit whimsical hand made ceramics, enamelware, glassware, furniture and home furnishings then the exclusive Mackenzie-Childs collection will blow your mind. If you want to pamper your body, the Kiehl's and Anthony Logistics lines for women and men respectively will do the trick. Acme Studios international designs of products like fountain pens, business card holders, necklaces and watches will catch your eye. There's gourmet coffee to take home or to enjoy while shopping. It's a fun place that you won't find at home. We found our gifts and were happy campers. We paid a nominal charge to have the goods packaged beautifully and shipped right from the store.
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We had time for lunch before the ferry departure time and wandered into Hogan's Hideaway at 197 Park Ave. In 1948 the Lazuca family opened a neighborhood grocery store on the premises. In 1978 it became what is now a flourishing restaurant featuring a basic menu of soups, sandwiches and salads augmented by a daily lunch and dinner menu offering market fresh specials. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual with an eclectic assortment of vintage kitch adorning the walls. We started with a New England style seafood chowder that was thick (heavy dose of flour) and creamy and filled with pieces of clams, white fish, and shrimp. We were in the mood for burgers and boy was it a great choice! Thick, juicy, excellent quality beauties grilled perfectly medium rare served with lettuce, tomato, onion (Linda had her onions grilled), fresh cut wedge fries, and onion rings were a burger-lover's dream come true.

The Clarion van picked us up in time to gather our overnight bag at the hotel and deposit us up the street from the terminal at famous Abbott's Frozen Custard (several locations around, another planned for the ferry terminal), for a smooth and tasty treat. As we walked to the terminal, spooning away with a smile on our faces, we knew this was a fitting ending to our breeze thru Rochester. There's a lot more to see and do in this city and the nearby Finger Lakes area. We will return in August to continue the adventure.*Lake Ontario approach to Toronto

There were long lines waiting to be ticketed when we arrived at the ferry terminal. We realized that this was Gay Pride parade week-end in Toronto, which attracts about a million visitors. The trip back was smooth and comfortable again. This time we sat at a table in the fore Panoramic Lounge breezing across the sparkling waters of Lake Ontario enjoying the sight of the Toronto skyline drawing ever closer. It's a spectacular sight and we were soon surrounded by digital cameras clicking away.

Two wonderful cities are now easily accessible to each other, offering a different yet complementary experience for the inquisitive amongst us. Make plans to get acquainted with your neighbor across the pond.
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