Notes from the Road: The Far East Part 1

Heading Charles’ bucket list has always been a trip to Hong Kong and Singapore, with Angkor Wat in the mix. Top of my list was South Africa, and if you are following my blogs you will know what a fantastic trip that was last year. See,,, .

Now it was time to follow Charles’ wish. As tour planner, I decided to combine visits with our kids and their families at Christmas and Chanukah, take a cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong, spend time in both of those cities, and then return by way of Vancouver and Toronto, back to our winter home in Orlando. Whew! We spent a month away, 9 flights, all good, and returned with marvellous memories that I will share in the next few blogs.

The day after Christmas, we headed off with our new suitcases. I believe I mentioned in earlier writings about my love of suitcases. Charles calls it an addiction. We needed space for a long journey, nice stuff for the cruise, gifts for the kids, and my computer for the ship, and we were told that we should wear special cool covered up clothing for Anghor Wat. I usually take only my ipad when I travel, but knew I would be writing my blogs aboard, and prefer working on my laptop.

I am an economical packer, but I did need a large suitcase and a carry on. I chose a light weight four-wheel Briggs and Riley expandable in olive. I bought two (one for Charles as well) and found a store that gave me a deal on both and I carted them home. They more than did the job and I love them.

We celebrate Christmas Eve in Danish style, a tradition that began with Charles’ father, Niels. Our good friend, Sheila, who is Scandinavian, makes the best gravlax, marinated salmon. We drink chilled aquavit with this and later switch to wine with the main course. I stuff a well-seasoned pork tenderloin ( I use a salt-free seasoning from Penzey’s called Mural of Flavour, also some dried basil, pepper, or whatever I see in my spice cupboard that strikes my fancy). The stuffing is torn up pieces of rye bread that has been moistened with warm water, add slices of one onion, and sprinkle with sage. I tie the large tenderloins with rubber string that I got in a cooking store. This is much better than butcher string because it expands. I serve it with red cabbage cooked with strawberries and a splash of cranberry juice, carrots, scalloped potatoes, and apple crisp, both recipes from my mother’s Naomi cookbook.  Often we have aebleskiver or apple pancakes that Charles makes in a special pan.


Gathered round the Danish Christmas Eve/Chanukah table

This old Naomi cookbook has a lovely story. I have carted around a worn out, food splattered copy of this book that belonged to my mother, who died in 1961, for years.  The back is broken, it is faded, and many of the recipes are illegible, but it is a delightful record of recipes from the 1940’s, and it is particularly endearing to me as I made many of them with my mother when I was a child. (See Aria: Song of a Life Two years ago, my darling husband, Charles, found a new copy of the exact cookbook online, and surprised me with it. Much tears all around for such a caring gesture. Now I can actually read the recipes and enjoy them.

Naomi Cookbooks old and new 

This year Chanukah also fell on the 24th so we lit the first candle, and I also made small potato latkes, which are traditional for the holiday, and served the gravlax with them, and added some chive filled yoghurt for spreading. The apple crisp is a perfect dessert for Chanukah, pork roast not so much, but Danish/Jewish who is judging?

On Christmas day we ate leftovers, and packed for our big journey. The 26th we headed to Montreal to see our youngest son, James, and our two grand daughters, Rose and June. I had previously given James a shopping list for our dinner there; a Hunukah/belated birthday party for June.

We were ready for cold weather after Florida, and had some appropriate clothing in our new large suitcases, but we weren’t ready for an ice storm when we arrived. Our plan was to rent a car at the airport (always on points), and then head to our hotel, which is not far from James’ apartment in St. Anne de Bellevue, west of Montreal, and about a half hour from where the girls live with their mother, in a small town called Tres-Saint-Redempteur, and is in the mountains.

After we checked in at the amiable Chateaux Vaudreuil, where we have been staying for over ten years, we normally head out to pick up the girls and say hi to their Mom. However, the ice was at least an inch thick on our windshield and the highway was a skating rink. The trucks had not yet had a chance to do their sanding. We asked James to pick the girls up as he was far more comfortable on the roads, especially as we were in a rented car using Google maps to find our way.

After we slid into the hotel and were warmly greeted by the staff, we headed to our suite (we almost always get upgraded to the Presidential suite if it is available), and book a second adjoining room for one night for James and the girls. Carol and Benito Migliorati are charming hosts and we have gotten to know them and their daughters over the years. It feels like a second home. I particularly like it because the indoor swimming pool is warm, and the dining room and bar are comfortable with very good food. The grounds are gorgeous, situated by Lac de Deux Montagnes, and the place is always buzzing during the summer and fall months when there are many weddings.

I have discovered that Rose and June like routines when we visit. The program goes like this: Friday night a dinner at James’ place that I prepare. This year it was a Chanukah meal with candle lighting. The girls play with their toys that are there and they sleep over. Then Saturday they come to the hotel, check into their room, and we all head out to do some shopping.


With Dad at Chateau Vaudreuil 

At Christmas or birthdays we go to a local toy store, and give the girls a specific amount of money to spend on toys of their choosing. Occasionally we will go to a movie. We all loved The Jungle Book for example. Then we have lunch in a local restaurant and head afterward to the hotel where we swim for a couple of hours. Afterwards we eat in the bar/restaurant downstairs and sit at the same table that we love. There is a small band and we all dance together. Then bed. Next morning breakfast, swimming again, and we depart around noon.


Rose and June shopping for toys with Grandpa

We have fun and they have fun. Instead of heading back to Florida, or to Toronto, if we drive there during the summer, we took a plane to Vancouver to meet the newest member of the family, Ms. Sway Petersen, a 3-week-old darling little girl. Our third son, Niels lives in Vancouver as well so it was a wonderful family time, and after visiting with the baby, smelling her sweet skin, and adoring her bright eyes, we all headed out to dinner, baby in tow to Campagnolo restaurant, a simple place that encourages family style sharing of dinner. Charles and I stayed downtown at the Sutton Place Hotel, a bustling place with an excellent, albeit outrageously expensive, restaurant. However, there was a good pool, and the location was excellent. They have the most frustrating website, not user- friendly at all, but after many phone calls I was able to sort out package deals that included parking.


Sway at three weeks, first visit

We ate at our favorite, Salvio Volpe one night, with all of us again sharing family style. This seems to be a trend in Vancouver. The food was outstanding; such offerings as wood fired rosemary chicken, rabbit cacciatore, meatballs with neck bone gravy, and many unique vegetable dishes like faro with fava beans, pine nuts and mint, and pecorino cheese. Sway was getting her first experience in a very noisy happening restaurant. This popular place is within walking distance of Kate and Corby’s home so it was perfect.

dinners at Campagnolo and Salvia Volpe with mommy and daddy


Nana says bye to baby Sway

The morning after our Vancouver visit we headed back to the airport for the 13-hour flight to Hong Kong, the third so far of our great journey. Very nice to be travelling in Business class. I booked a multi-city trip see where I describe different flight options that I have taken over the last few years.

morning sunrise in Vancouver before boarding for Hong Kong

We checked in at Air Canada and headed to the lounge to relax before we embarked. I bought a cell phone plan for $60 from our carrier, Telus, for the month away in Asia so we could stay connected. Our excitement was palpable.

In the next few blogs I will relate how truly wonderful our Asian adventure turned out to be. Meanwhile I am in Florida. It is Mid April and we are packing up to travel to our home in Toronto. Hope the snow is gone, and it warms up there, and I can watch the fresh pale green leaves burst forth from our maple trees, and see my daffodils peaking up through the ground. I will miss our wonderful friends here, my beautiful garden, my swims in the pool across the road, the gorgeous golf course, El Campeon, and our favorite new restaurant, 1921 by Norman Van Aiken.


garden nestled under palm, some iris, roses, ginger & sand cranes on the golf course


More to come from Hong Kong





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