100 Best Cities in the World – Where have you been?


Part 2 – Cities 50 – 74

I finished Part 1 – Cities 100-75 with a score of 13/25. Let’s see how I do with this part of the list.

Keep in mind that I’ve had 73 years to do all this travelling – and it’s not surprising I suppose that I’ve been to lots of places. But let’s be honest here – years 1-15 were spent growing up (Atlanta, New London, and a Navy Base), and years 16-21 were spent going to University and meeting my husband. Of the two – I probably worked harder on the later. But that’s a story for another time.

Bottom line – I started to seriously travel my junior year at Tufts. I spent a year abroad in London – and we took several trips to parts of Europe during school breaks and the summer that my year aboard ended. Be careful what you allow your kids to do I must say. That experience definitely set the tone for the rest of my vagabond existence.

74. Lyon – been there. Lyon is best known for it’s train station – and I think that’s were we spent most of the time we were there. Again this is pre-internet – so you visited the places you could find in a travel book. Lyon was more of a pass thru than a visit kinda town in those days.

73. Shanghai – Missed it! Toured almost all of China and didn’t manage to visit Shanghai. Oh well.

72. Minneapolis – Been through there. Big city in the middle of flat flat flat everything. Might be nicer to live there. Not a wonderful place to visit.

71. Warsaw – Missed it. Same trip as Cracow and Kiev – which is why the price got so out of hand. Check it on a map. You can’t do all three in one tour. We were nuts to even consider it.

70. Brisbane – sigh. See Perth. Never been. Love to go. Not now though.

69. Valencia – Been there! Great oranges. We spent a night there on our way from seeing the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Which I have to tell you is an absolute must see place! Valencia was a disappointment in comparison. Way it goes.

68. Helsinki – Nope – never been there. On a long list – not a short list too. So I won’t put the odds in it’s favor….

67. Ottawa – Been there lots! It’s the capital of Canada of course – and only about 1.5 hours from Montreal. They have a fabulous Regency weekend there every year – and we’ve been several times. They also have nice bridge sectionals and regionals. And of course we’ve taken folks who visit us there – particularly if they come from overseas. It’s an impressive kind of place – not a big city of course – but a lovely small town. I’m proud of our Capital.

66. Portland – Now here’s a question – Portland Maine or Portland Oregon. Doesn’t really matter because I’ve been to both. Portland, Maine is the cuter place – trust me here. Nice museums, nice shopping, cute water front, nice restaurants, easy walking. Portland, Oregon has big trees. And it’s a fairly big city. 66,000 for Portland, Maine, 695,000 for Portland, Oregon. So that’s really it in a nut shell.

65. Brussels – Ah, Brussels. Can’t even think about Brussels without thinking of Jacques Brel. Love his music – and of course he’s famous through out the city. Brussels has some of the best food in Europe in my opinion. And it’s so accessible. There are great places to stay that won’t break the bank, there are museums to see and enjoy, and there’s the food. Let me repeat – the food alone is worth the trip! And not just the Pates Frit! (Fries to you who don’t read French. And don’t call them French Fries – you are Brussels – that’s in Belgium.)

64. San-Jose – My son and his wife live in San Jose – so of course I’ve been there. We came thru several times – once on our way to Anza for an Napoleonic Re-enactments which I fondly remember. We had rented a motor home planning to visit some of the National Parks. Great plan – but it had issues. For starters – it took us 2 days to get out of San-Jose. We were simply too new to the entire Motor Home thing to feel safe leaving the driveway of my kid’s home. But once we got on the road – it was better. Truly scary thing – driving the highway from San-Jose to Los Angeles. Cross winds and a motor home are not fun!

63. Buenos-Aires – Been there. One of our good friend’s was in the middle of a rather nasty divorce and they hadn’t told the kids yet. And his son was getting married in Buenos-Aires. He commented that the only people he’d know would be his wife (and they weren’t speaking), his son and his daughter. So we volunteered to come to the wedding! It was an awesome trip. We included a trip to Iguacu Falls (they are amazing), went into wine country, rode horseback in the Andes, and had some incredible Argentine BBQ. We toured Buenos-Aires from tip to tail – even paying homage to Evita Perron’s grave site.

62. Delhi – Nope. Not on the list. Frankly – India scares me. I know folks that love it – they call it home. But they are seriously wealthy, and I think that might make a big difference. I love watching movies about India I will admit, and we once were invited to join a photography trip to take pictures of Tigers – in India. That might have been a lot of fun, but still – India scares me. Too crowded, too many really really poor people, Too much class divide.. I know myself well enough to know that I’m not comfortable in a country that treats parts of it’s population like dirt.

61. Riyadh – Nope. Never been

60. Philadelphia – City of Brotherly Love. Been many times, for many different reasons. It’s lovely. Classic even. A little bit of everything, tons to see and do – hard city to resist!

59. Stockholm – on the short list.

58. Denver – Mile High City. It’s not the city itself that’s so amazing – it’s the location. So near the Rocky Mountains you could spit on them. A bit of a cowboy kinda of place, mixture of rough and ready and high tech. Fun to visit. Skiing is incredible. Apparently the Mountain Climbing is also ‘to die for’ – but way out of my comfort zone.

57. Oslo – nope. Like Stockholm (and all of Norway, Sweden and Finland – it’s on the short list)

56. Naples – Florida or Italy? Doesn’t matter actually – I’ve been to both. And like the Portlands – I think I like the smaller one better. Naples, Italy has amazing food, lots and lots and lots of hills, some incredible views, ice cream I can still taste today, and of course – Herculum and Pompeii. I loved Herculum – partly because I had no expectations. And I admit that Pompeii was exhausting and hot and dusty. But still – worth the visit. Naples I’d go back to. Just for the food.

55. Phoenix – been there. Fell in love with it. I was totally ready to move there until my husband pointed out that there is no ocean. Right. That’s a problem. Ok – I’ll just have to visit. Don’t go in the summer though. We were there in the late fall and it was incredible. Still warm enough that you could enjoy going for a late night swim, but the days weren’t so insanely hot that you couldn’t walk outside!

54. Austin – missed it somehow. Which given how much of Texas I’ve visited seems a surprise. Maybe I was there and don’t remember. Hmmm.

53. Lisbon – Love it. My husband hated it. Ok – I admit, it’s hilly. And we were walking everywhere which drove my husband’s hip nuts. But it’s a simply wonderful place. Tons of things to do and see and some of the most incredible shopping. I loved our Air BnB with it’s private garden, I enjoyed riding the buses (a way to avoid the walking), and I found the food delicious.

52. Osaka – My kind of town. I had never been despite at least a dozen trips to Japan and frankly – I was impressed. Great museums, beautiful parks, tons of history, friendly people, nice walking, good bus/metro service – and like all of Japan – very very clean. What’s not to love. Oh – and the food was good. A win, win, win!

51. Hamburg. Germany again – and this one I know I visited. Lots of clocks, lots of old architecture, and lots of Germans.

Ok – so we’re half way thru – and my count is now 15 + 13 = 28 out of 50… Getting there!

Le Papillon in San Jose – Expensive, Great Service, B rated food!



We wanted something a bit old-school – and in theory Le Papillion should have been perfect. Like so many other restaurants in San Jose – it’s location is not the best – there’s nothing within walking distance but a furniture store and a 7-11. But the older home that has been renovated into this charming restaurant is glorious inside. The dinning ‘room’ is all muted gold, brown, and white – with cali lilys on each table and a huge floral arrangement taking up the center area of one of the rooms.

There’s a bar area that doubles as a semi-private dining room, and an outdoor area that I imagine must be for people needing a smoke, and wanting a location that’s more elegant than the driveway.

Waiters wearing tuxes, including our pleasant young waitress who was proudly 7 months pregant, made the elegant atmosphere even more refined. And I must say I totally appreciated the no cell phone policy – which didn’t distract from picture taking given the ‘special night’ atmosphere. The clever use of a single lit candle to take a dessert offering from elegant to Congradulations was totally in tune with the atmosphere.

I just wish the food had been of similar quality.

My duck entre was tough – I badly needed a sharper knife, and there was none on offer. My quail appetizer featured a farro base – too much farro, not enough Quail. The result was like having oatmeal served with a marsalla reduction. Weird. But most truly disappointing were the desserts. The ‘souffle’ was mostly egg white, although given the number we saw served, not a problem for most diners. I guess people just have forgotten what a real souffle should be. My berry Coulis looked lovely, and the berries were lovely – but the commerically produced pastry cup was stale tasting. At this price range – not acceptable.

On the other hand – my husband thought his beef tenderloin was quite good.

We also tried the ‘gourmet’ cheese course. With all the wonderful artisan California cheese producers around – how could they just give us commercial cheese of relatively common quality. At least one surprise would have been appreciated.

So – beautiful restaurant, very energetic service, so-so food at a fairly high price. I give them a B – and that’s generous.

Oh well.

Le Papillon on Urbanspoon

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A restaurant worth Blogging about – Zeni in San Jose, CA



Ever eaten ‘Ethiopian’? Me neither. So when my son and brand new daughter-in-law suggested we try their favorite restaurant on our trip to visit them this week – we were delighted to accept. And what a meal it was!

First a bit about the restaurant. It’s located in a mall (not totally surprising around here – there are lots of restaurants in malls) in a rather laid back and lower-income section of San Jose. As my son joked – it’s the ‘wrong’ side of the tracks. But once thru the front door – the restaurant exudes love, warmth, and welcome. From the smiling staff in their very attractive bright blue blouses to the gentleman playing jazz on 3 – count’m 3 – keyboards in the corner, this is a delightful space.

There are 2 sections to the restaurant – and we were fortunate to score a table in the more traditional section with its wicker tables and low stools. These are perfectly suited to the very traditional way the meal is served – on a single large platter with a pancake like flat bread serving as the base on which the food is lovingly placed. Along with that pancake (intended to be used to mop up the remains of the meal) they gave us a basket of rolled flat breads. The basic idea – use the bread to grab the food – and good luck getting it from the platter to your mouth!

Cautioned by our kids to be careful about ordering too much food – we opted for just 3 main courses for the 4 of us – a vegetable combo, a lamb dish (stewed lamb in a curry like sauce), and a spicy beef dish that came with home-made cheese. We also ordered one appetizer to share – a filo dough pastry stuffed with meat. Everything – and I mean everything was totally yummy. I particularly liked some of the vegetable options – colorful and tasty, they were a delight to the palette. But I’m ready to eat Eggplant under just about any condition.

What was most surprising – beside the extremely reasonable price of just $70 for everything – including 2 drinks – was how incredibly filling the meal was. Despite our cautious ordering – we simply could not finish everything.

According to my kids – who apparently eat here regularly – coming early is critical. If you arrive around 7:15 – you can expect to wait in line – a truth that was obvious as we left, pushing our way thru waiting customers!

Another note – during the day they offer a ‘coffee’ ceremony that must be ordered at least 24 hours in advance – costs $40 for up to 10 people – and includes a server who roasts the beans right in front of you. My husband was keen to come back to try that – and I must agree – it would be cool to watch.

Definitely an A restaurant – do check it out!

Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon