Faro’s Food – Fluctuating Finery

Food is about anticipation, expectations, and enjoyment. At times they all come together at the same time, often they offer us the chance to chuckle a bit and enjoy the experience as it is.

The first time I ever had Portuguese food was many years ago when I was in Hong Kong to do a couple of seminars, piri-piri chicken as I remember. Then when I would travel to Darwin in Australia, as I often did, I frequented a fast food placed called Ogalo, which featured Portuguese grill, and of course piri-piri.

Piri-piri is spicy hot and I loved it in both places, as a result I was looking forward to eating it in Portugal. When we were in Lisbon in January I never saw it on the menu, so I was hoping for better luck in Faro. Sure enough we saw a rather nice restaurant that had piri-piri on its blackboard, we went there for lunch. The wait was a nice comfortable European wait (way too slow for most Americans) but I figured it was well worth it for my long awaited reconnection with piri-piri.

Finally it came. First off it was not near as hot as what I had in Darwin where they cooked your order by the degree of heat you wanted, but the flavor was quite good, yet it was also quite dry. Actually it proved my father’s advice that “anticipation is greater than realization.”

The food here in Faro has been some of the best ever, more on that in a moment. Yet some things do get lost in translation even food. We stopped at a sports bar for a quick late afternoon snack. Futebol was on one screen and Formula 1 was on the other. The menu was quite like something you would find at a sports bar in the US, it even had hot dogs, which I resisted. I went for the nachos, other than when we make them at home it has been a long time. Here is what I got… not exactly what I had in mind.

Yet while in Faro I have had two of the best meals ever. The first was at Ostraria Lodo, just a short walk from our hotel. Thanks to the warm weather we could eat outside and received some amazing service, along with the totally enjoyable food.

For the entree I had a croquette trilogy of razor clams, prawns, and cockles.

Thanks to Tricia for many of these photos, check her blog out at Travels Through My Lens

Photo by Tricia

Tricia’s main was a fried shrimp salad, mine was grilled razor clams.

Then we could not resist trying Eton Mess for desert, oh my.

Photo by Tricia

Ostraria Lodo was a meal to remember. Yet there was more good food to come. We were wandering about yesterday looking for a place to eat and stumbled upon Resturante Dois Irmãos. Oh my! I did not think the Lodo could be outdone but this place was amazing, it is hard to say which is the best.

Tricia had a shrimp risotto. Let me be clear that for very good reason she is quite discerning with risotto, frankly because she makes about the best risotto either one of us have ever had, and since we both love it we have it often, so for her to say that this risotto was as good or better than hers says a lot. I begged for a taste, and must say she was 100% correct in her assessment.

Lamb is one of those things that I rarely ignore when on a menue, so lamb stew done Portuguese style was the obvious choice. Like Tricia’s Risotto it was le meilleur.

We have a couple other places marked for today. One thing we don’t do a lot of is read reviews, something that I learned from using Yelp when I traveled for business. Often a place with a few bad reviews would be so good, and often the reverse was true. And we enjoy finding the less popular spots. We prefer to wander the streets and see what we stumble on, it is a central part of why we travel, and so far Faro has not let us down.

I need to post this as there are food adventures awaiting us today… I think I saw Portuguese sausages stewed posted someplace, hmm…

Best Memories Our First Year in France I

Just a year ago today we were in Cynthia’s (Tricia’s sister) basement putting the finishing touches on packing for our move to France, our friend Dave was set to pick us up on the 14th to take the three of us, Tricia, Neville, and me, to the airport. This was an endeavor that began in earnest at the end of 2021 – already two years behind schedule thanks to COVID.

Moving to a different country is always a challenge so we had a lot to do just to satisfy the French thirst for documents. Dave, who has himself worked and lived abroad in the Middle East and South Africa reminded me that the large companies he worked for took care of most of the details. We hired a consultant for advice but the dossier gathering was on us. And of course after arriving we have had plenty of situations to try our patience, but as they say here, C’est France!

Now lest anyone think that the French bureaucracy or the French culture (i.e. frequent strikes that cancel trains, etc.) has dampened our affection for this country I felt I needed to relate some of the highlights of living here. My plan was to do a blog titled “The Five Best Memories From Our First Year.” But… I came up with a list that I could not pare down to five so will just pass on some good memories now and then.

This is a photo of one of my favorite moments since arriving here, it was on 14 April, 2022 – the first time Neville went outside since we kept him inside for the first month. Tricia’s comment was that he must be thinking, “Is this heaven?” There is quite a backstory to this moment.

Photo by Tricia – Travels Through My Lens

Neville was an outdoor cat before we moved into our Martha’s Vineyard condo in Mukilteo where he became an indoor cat with only his catio for going outside, and it was quite small. So if cats have emotions I would think all this space to roam felt great, like “heaven.”

Just getting Neville to France was quite an effort. The EU is quite demanding on their pet requirements, and of course France adds more just because C’est France. Between vet visits, Fedex payments to the USDA in Olympia, and some stressful moments because of narrow time requirements, we had a complete dossier on Neville and had spent over $800, not counting the extra that Delta would be charging us to take him in the cabin with us. We were doing all this while we were packing to move and shipping household items to France, I am sure Neville had no idea what these boxes represented in his life.

Adding to our stress was the vet’s diagnosis in January that Neville had a serious kidney failure in progress, he talked about needing regular IV’s of fluids etc., just to survive, quite serious. I doubted that he would actually live to make the trip to France. Well make it to Normandie he did, after 21 hours in a carrier – checking in at the airport, waiting for the flight, ten hours under the seat at my feet, then a four hour car ride to where we live in Normandie. Neville did quite well. Oh! And never an IV.

It was spring and warm, Neville loved his rural yard. The old picnic table is good for sharpening claws, sleeping in the sun, and helping me sketch.

We did have some cool days that made a fire necessary, our main source of heat. Neville exchanged the gas fireplace at the condo for a place in front of the wood stove.

It did not take him long to make our 230 year old cottage his own, settling into his bedroom, where he allows us to join him at night.

So here we are one year later and Neville is as healthy as can be expected for a 13+ year old. He doesn’t go out as often nor for as long, so he is slowing down a bit, but that is what all us senior folks do.

Thankfully he has not lost his touch when it comes to hunting, he is our mighty hunter. I am pretty sure of the count, though Tricia might come with a different number, but I think this is close: 1 in the house while we were gone, the neighbor found it when she came to feed him. 1 or 2 outside, 3 more inside. He always brings them to us for approval, looking quite proud don’t you think? We do live in a rural farm setting so there are mice, but with Neville on the job we sleep well – except of course when he catches one in the night and brings it upstairs while we are sleeping.

Neville has his own Instagram @Nevilleofnormandie and he would love it if you followed him there. He is often featured on Tricia’s blog, Travels Through My Lens and her photos are far better than mine.

One of my fondest memories is that Neville is getting to spend his senior years in this wonderful place that he loves. As I write this he is sleeping in the sun in a basket we found at one of the many brocantes in the area. It warms my heart.

French Eating – Apéro Time

Apéro or Apéritif. In France apéro is just short for apéritif. In the USA an apéritif is an alcoholic beverage enjoyed before a meal, in France it is an event and one of the most enjoyable components of the meal, at home or out.

The closest concept in the USA to the French apéro would be a happy hour. In the USA happy hour translates to reduced prices on snacks and beverages, along with a gathering of friends. In France apéro is a time to relax with friends before a meal, or as in the USA, gather with friends for a chat. You do not see “apéro” signs in front of restaurants here, though you do see “Happy Hour” signs in a few places that cater to tourists. Why would you advertise something that is just considered the norm?

You order a beverage, the food is a surprise. Whole blogs have been more knowledgeably written by others on common apéritifs in France. Beer, wine, and Champagne are frequent, though our personal favorite is a kirkir pétillant is sparking wine flavored with something like cassis or peach, kir normand is cider similarly flavored, both are quite enjoyable. A kir with Champagne is quite good, but the price goes up a lot.

When they bring the beverages they also bring a snack of some kind, also called an apéro. This could be as simple as a few nuts or pretzels, or as elaborate as this apéro that we had last week at Auberge de la Source, one of our favorite places just 20 minutes away in the tiny village of Saint-Cyr-du-Bailleul.

You are not charged extra for the tasty treat, it is expected. This had a mini-quiche Lorrain, a savory mousse that must have had a bit of smoked paprika, and a small puff pastry with a light coating of cheese. The chef here is international, and one of the best.

The apéro tradition is quite as prevalent at home. La supermarché has whole sections, both fresh and frozen, of small bites suitable for apéro. For us this is so perfect. Our main meal of the day is lunch, which in itself is quite French, I have written before regarding how lunch is a sacred time here. We rarely have a traditional evening meal, it is just too much food. So we have an apéro at home: store bought, made ourselves, or a bit of cheese and baguette.

Apéro is just one of the ways we have learned the wonderful custom of slowing down when it comes to food. In larger cities you do find crepes and sandwiches to take away and eat on the go, but slowing down to enjoy a meal is most desired, and we have adapted quite well. C’est la France!

An Expat’s Struggles With Ordering Food

The stereotype for many in the USA is that the French are not friendly, well after multiple trips to France, and living in France for a year I can say that is just not true. In general the French are so kind and helpful. When we butcher their beloved language they may correct a bit but most often they encourage our efforts. Sometimes they are too helpful, particularly when it comes to food.

Now before I continue a DISCLAIMER is in order. I enjoy my British friends and their quirky language, we all get to laugh over terms and pronunciations. However my eating preferences are not British and therein is the problem. In an attempt to cater to our tastes, as they (the French) perceive them, they often make adjustments to my order that don’t work for me.

In my last blog I alluded to one of those adjustments, ordering le café. In one hotel they actually brought me a mug of coffee from a 12 cup coffee maker common to most homes in the USA. Other times I say, “Je voudrais un café, SVP,” the server pauses for a minute then asks if I mean an espresso, a question they would never ask a French person. It comes from their experience of bringing an English speaking person a French le café and having the customer unhappy because they wanted a mug of drip or at least an americano – like I said the French are so helpful most of the time.

Second DISCLAIMER. When it comes to anything bureaucratic that help may be hard to come by – this post is all about food.

The French are carnivores, big time. Vegetarians often struggle, though we are seeing some changes making it easier. Meat preferences in France are often quite foreign to US or UK diners.

When it comes to le boeuf they like it rare, really rare. The go-to degree of doneness is bleu, which, just as it sounds, means blue. The piece of meat is seared for no more than 30 seconds on a side and served. For most UK and USA folks they see this and say it is raw, which of course it pretty much is. Here is a photo of one such steak I had when we were with our friends in L’Isle-sur-la- Sorgue.

The next degree of doneness is sanglant which literally means bloody, this would be extra rare in most restaurants in the USA, it is my normal way to order here. Yet what often happens is the server questions me, “medium?” Or the cook just cooks it so there is barely any pink at all. You see the Brits tend to like meat well done, which is considered unthinkable to the French, and to me as well, so like with the coffee they often adjust.

Here in Normandie andouillette, not to be confused with the spicy, smoked andouille from Cajun Louisiana, is on most menus. Here are photos of both.

French andouillette are made from pork large intestines, spices, grains, and onions. They are quite corse compared to the Cajun smoked sausage. Wikipedia says, Andouillettes are generally made from the large intestine and are 7–10 cm (2 3/4 – 4in) in diameter. True andouillettes are rarely seen outside France and have a strong, distinctive odour coming from the colon. Although sometimes repellent to the uninitiated, the scent is prized by its devotees.

The first time I ever ordered andouillette the owner of the open-fired grill restaurant tried to talk me out of it. He said that Americans don’t eat this. I assured him I did. With mustard sauce it is quite OK on occasion. On other occasions the server has asked if I know what andouillette is, or if I am sure. I know they are trying to be helpful, but I also know this expat is not like all the others.

A third challenge here is finding spicy food. With the exception of mustard, which is always Dijon, the French don’t eat much that is spicy. We wanted some salsa, they have Old El Paso, the same brand as we could get in US, but it only comes in mild and extra mild. I can’t imagine what extra mild would be, tomato sauce???

Soon after we moved here we discovered an Indian restaurant not too far away, craving a bit of spicy food we went. It took us a few visits for me to convince the very nice server, that we have come to know well, that when I asked for spicy I meant spicy. In fact last time he actually brought something out that was too spicy for me, that is rare. Yet he is so used to compensating for the French palette that he just naturally tones things down.

In all my years of travel I have attempted to eat like the locals do. I am not like Tony Bourdain was, nor Andrew Zimmern, there are some limits, but in general I say give it a go. Often I end up liking things that might put some folks off, that is one of the joys of travel, and this expat loves the journey of food.

I guess I do agree with Zimmern when he says, “If it looks good, eat it.”

Un Café – The Price of Admission

In France un Café is more than a beverage, it is the cornerstone of the café culture. In the USA coffee is something you do while you do something else, in France it is much more deliberate, for a traveler it is a perfect entry into the local culture.

I have never seen a drive-through Starbucks in France; the drive through food and beverage concept is as rare here as it is ubiquitous in the USA – as are insulated travel cups. In France you stop what you are doing to have un café. The Dunkin Donut idea of unlimited refills is just as strange, as would be a “grande” or “venti” size. These are uniquely American concepts where quantity often supersedes quality.

In France this is un café

In its most basic form it is a shot of espresso, always served in a cup and saucer, with a small spoon, sugar – never cream – and a petit biscuit. There are other drinks that are only coffee: un double which is two shots served the same way, un café allongé which is a single with more water forced through, and an americano which is espresso diluted with hot water to cater to the taste of Americans in WWII that found un café to strong – an americano is as close as you will get to a mug of coffee in France. One of my favorites is un café noisette which is an espresso with just a dollop of steamed milk.

One of my frustrations is that often when I order un café, with my best attempt at a French accent, they will either bring me an americano, or clarify that it is espresso I want, as they are so accustomed to folks from UK and USA not wanting a real un café.

In France coffee with milk is rarely consumed after early morning, having a latte in the afternoon clearly signals you are from Starbucks country. Un café is the norm after a meal, but of course without milk.

Un café is also your ticket into the café culture, you can sit for hours at a table, with no one implying that you need to give up your table, participating in the French pastime of people watching, or in my case sketching.

Le café and les cafés are one of the things I like the most about France. Whenever possible I go early and enjoy starting my day watching, sipping, and sketching.

Manifestations and Menu du Jour

Menu Blackboards, about A4 size (8.5×11.5 inches), for setting on a table, or 2×3 feet for leaning up on the floor next to a chair, or as an a-frame next to the entry of the restaurant are the ubiquitous icons of French dining, as is the Menu du Jour which is chalk-written on them each morning. With a reputation for the best food France is obsessed with normalcy.

Photos courtesy of Tricia and Travels Through My Lens

A Menu du Jour has three courses: entree, main, and dessert. There may be a choice in each course of two or three items, but the menu is pretty well fixed. Many restaurants will have other menu offerings, but if you observe the locals they tend to order the Menu du Jour, or the Plat du Jour which is simply one of the mains. Why? Because the French are obsessed with normalcy, deviation can result in manifestations – or protest. The stability must not be threatened.

French food is most always done well regardless of the price. We have had quite good meals at obscure, mundane establishments. However there is always predictability. Fridays will have fish, though the country is officially secular according to the constitution, the centuries of Catholicism still are considered normal, even for the majority who never enter a church. The menu will have mostly meat mains, except for Friday, as the French are carnivores, some think fish counts as a vegetarian meal. For dessert you can almost bet there will be chocolate mousse, even if other more creative offerings share the blackboard.

There is good, even great, food to be found and it is worth the search. One such place was Chez Dumonet, an old resturant in Paris where we ate in December – yet even they had a prix fix menu – because the three courses are expected – normalcy.

Lunch is sacred, it is a long and slow affair, even in rural areas with a clientele of farm or construction workers; no sandwich in the cab of a pick-up truck here. Normalcy. There is even a law, though relaxed during COVID, forbidding eating lunch at your desk. Lunch is sacred, normalcy, don’t rock the boat.

Yet even a cursory glance at the history of France makes it clear that it has never been a stable country. For much of its history France was really just Paris, the rest of the country was run by dukes and such who ignored the king and spent their time fighting with each other while taxing their subjects. The famous French Revolution was not some break from tyranny resulting in a government by the people; just a short time later Napoleon was a dictatorial emperor. It was not until the 1900’s that the France we see today began to emerge, and even that was disrupted with occupation by neighboring Germany.

Today the French cling to stability, protecting established practices and institutions. When these are threatened by new laws or programs manifestations are soon to follow. Street closures are even posted on days when a protest is expected, and the Parisian response is “C’est France.”

Tricia took this photo of a protest when we were in Paris in January – Healthcare workers.

As I write, protests are happening in major cities, for the second week in a row, with another “General Strike” planned for Saturday, because the government wants to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. The railways and Metro are shut down, a million people marched along the Champs-Élysées, some turned violent resulting in teargas and broken shop windows. Don’t mess with the normalcy of the earliest retirement of any industrial country.

Yet you can be sure that the restaurants not on the parade route have their blackboards set up, even protesters need a sense of normalcy and where better to find it than over a predictable meal and a glass of wine, ok maybe two glasses, but it is also true that over drinking at lunch is not a French thing. Normalcy.

Though France can be quite tolerant, there is also an undercurrent of selfishness. Shutting down the transportation system does make a statement to the government, but it totally disrupts the lives of millions.

Twice we have had to make major travel changes due to the railway strikes. And with our daughter coming to visit us next week we are concerned about another strike since they are taking the train from Paris Montparnasse, which seems to be protest central, to Flers in Normandy. If the train is shut down we will have no stability and even the best blackboard menu will not make it normal.

Cruise Ship Food – a Bellcurve

Cruise ship overeating is legendary, even Rick Steves suggests using the stairs as much as possible to burn off the calories, but what is the food really like? In general, on land or on the sea, a restaurant’s food quality fits a perfect bell curve – the more people they try to serve and/or the more locations they operate, the more they approach the mediocrity-of-average, not bad, just not great.

Disclaimer: we have only been on two cruises, both operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, so my observations are limited to the two ships we were on. One ship was the Epic, a huge ship, the second cruise was on the Sun, which carries half as many people, there are however a lot of similarities between the two.

There are three categories of onboard dining experiences. Included in your basic cost are the buffets, and a couple of table-service restaurants. The third category is the a la carte restaurants. Each of these are quite different.

On Norwegian (NCL) The Garden Cafe, along with a couple of smaller buffets usually near the pool area, is standard. These are open from early in the morning until well into the evening, changing the offerings from breakfast, to lunch, to dinner. I think a majority of the folks onboard eat most of their meals here.

On the plus side is that there are a lot of choices, from grab-and-go, to prime rib. But the quality is always mediocre, and at breakfast a crowd of people, often pretty aggressive people, jam the place; no relaxed morning coffee and croissant here – though the croissants are quite good. For folks in a hurry, or those who tend to eat because it is required to live and quantity is more important than quality, these buffets are fine. Again, they are not bad, but as with most buffets, just not memorable.

On our most recent cruise aboard the Norwegian Sun there were two table service restaurants that were included with our basic booking: The Seven Seas and The Four Seasons. Both have the same menus which change every day. They are white tablecloth, there is a sommelier, and great servers – nothing fast-food about them at all.

These restaurants are quite a few notches above the Garden Cafe, being the food-motivated-travelers we are, this is where we ate most often. They are not open for lunch so if we were onboard our only choice was the Buffett. Tricia had some good soups: spinach, cauliflower. The entrees (appetizers for non-European readers) were quite nice, and the mains (entrees for non-European readers) were varied and done well. They definitely move the quality of food and dining experience to the right of average on the bell curve.

The third option is the a la carte places, we bought a package in advance that gave us two visits, you can buy packages with more visits, or you can just go and pay as in any restaurant. On both ships Le Bistro was the top restaurant, a bill there for two including wine would be about $150, similar to what we would experience in Seattle. On this ship there were a couple of steak houses, a Mexican cantina, teppanyaki, and sushi.

These restaurants do give a fine dining experience, though they will push your budget significantly above the initial cost of the cruise. The service is always well above average, and if you get there early you can usually score a table by a window to watch the water go by as you dine.

My desert at Le Bistro on the Norwegian Sun just a week ago, quite nice.

Here are photos Tricia took of some of the dishes we enjoyed. (Be sure to visit her blog for more photos)

We ate well, avoided the Garden Cafe when we could, which should come as no surprise to those who know me since I am not a fan of any buffet, on land or sea. On NCL you can have average meals, good meals, and really good meals, but you will pay for the really good ones. In the end I don’t think I would go on this type of cruise for the food. If food is one of your prime reasons to travel, as it is for Tricia and me, other options for travel are a better choice than cruising – though I have heard of gourmet cruises, hmmmm?

Perth, Peace in Western Australia

Sunday 3 April 2011. First a two hour flight from Seattle to Los Angeles, a layover that was usually a couple of hours, then a 14 hour flight to Brisbane, Australia. I lost a day in the process, thanks to time zones and the International Date Line, so it was now Tuesday, 5 April. After another layover a five hour flight to Perth on the western side of Australia. It was late afternoon when I landed, over 21 hours in the air, plus a few hours of layover. Note: Many folks don’t realize that Australia is about the same size as the United States, it’s really big. 

A taxi ride took me to the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel on Wellington Street, by 2011 I had already stayed at this hotel multiple times, and held a number of seminars in their meeting rooms. Thankfully my room was ready so I dropped off my things, changed my shirt, and headed out for Murray Street, the part of Perth that I am most familiar with. 

Walking east On Murray Street the familiarity of Perth did its magic and the effect of the long plane rides faded away. In Perth the first landmark I look for is the Belgian Beer Garden, as Belgian as any pub you will find in Brugge with a nice selection of Belgian beers. I was in Perth for a few days so mussels and frites would have to wait. Right now I had another pub in mind, a few blocks down Murray street, in the area where Murray becomes a walking mall.

The name escapes me, but I have been there many times. It is a comfortable place, with outside tables, and I remember a large tree trunk wrapped in lights. I was in the mood for a pint.

When I landed in Brisbane I called home, from a pay phone using a calling card. (Hard to believe just nine years ago international calls on cellphones were rare.) Tricia answered, confirmed quickly that my flights went well, then told me to brace myself. My mind raced, was something wrong with the house, something financial; our minds go through a checklist of possibilities. 

“Jay died.”

I am rarely speechless, but this did it. Jay was a good friend from church, he was the contractor that had remodeled our kitchen into a beautiful place to cook and eat. Big E Brewery was our meeting point to discuss the world, challenges, and food, which Jay loved as much as we do. Jay was in his 50’s, too young to die, but heart problems do not always check in with birthdays.

I needed to get to a place that Jay and I would have frequented if we lived in Perth. Picking a table in a corner with a view of the street traffic I ordered a pint of James Bogle and a bag of Salt and Vinegar Crisps. When it arrived I made a toast to my friend, “Jay, this ones for you. Will miss you but see you in glory.” Then I did a sketch.

Perth is one of my favorite places in OZ. It is a major city, yet is isolated from the rest of the country by four or five hour flights, with thousands of miles of outback in between. Yet with all of that it is one of the most fashionable of the cities, it is noticeable in how people dress. The buildings and parks are clean and well maintained. It is expensive, over the years I would pay about 2ASD more for a pint in Perth than I would in Darwin, which is one of the less expensive places.

On my trips to Australia I always looked forward to Perth, the seminars were good, as Australian audiences are great. And my rambles along Murray street and Hay street are still vivid in my mind.

I do believe that it was on this trip that I met a friend, Miranda. She had recently arrived from South Africa and helped with registration and organization at the seminars. We had a couple of wonderful chats after the seminars about the state of things in the world and in South Africa, another place that has a soft spot in my heart. We have stayed in touch thanks to Facebook and emails, with all of my complaints about social media it does help us keep in contact with distant friends.

Reality says I will most likely never get back to Perth, nor take the train out to Fremantle where the Americas Cup was held so many years ago. I will probably have to settle on mussels and Frites in Belgium instead of at the pub on Murray street. But I will always remember the many pleasant times I had in Perth, they bring back smiles every time.

Meandering – Darwin, Australia


All this time in Le Confinement has me thinking back to all the years I spent traveling the world as a seminar speaker, I am passing on some of those memories.

If I ever just wanted to disappear you just might find me in Darwin, Australia. Darwin holds some kind of attraction I have never been able to explain. In the list of Australian tourist destinations I imagine it is pretty low on the list, yet for me it is one of my favorite places in OZ for no definable reason.

Thanks to the heat and incredibly high humidity you don’t see people in long pants much, shorts are the de rigueur.It is so hot that the pubs serve cans of beer in insulated sleeves.

Darwin is the kind of place where people don’t ask a lot of questions, seems most everyone is pretty much left alone. Thanks to the lower prices of everything it attracts backpackers, the main drag of Mitchell street is lined with hostels. Athletic young folks and shaggy gray beards seem to coexist quite comfortably.

It does cost less. On one of my many Australian trips my first stop was Perth, another of my favorite places down under, my second stop was Darwin. More on Perth another time, but it is everything Darwin is not, Perth is expensive and stylish. A pint in Perth was about 6A$ (about US$8 at the time). After checking in to the Darwin  Hotel, just off of Mitchell,  I walked the two blocks to Monsoons, my favorite place in Darwin, ordered a pint, it was 3A$, nice.

Of course I did a sketch, sitting on the deck with a view of the street and the people. Inside the air conditioning had it down to Antarctic temperatures, me, I love the heat and humidity; rugby or cricket on the TV – life is good. Monsoons at night is quit different, it is a party bar, big time – not my kind of place at all. In the evening I would often wander down to the other end of Mitchell Street to a restaurant on the bottom floor of an office building with a huge deck wrapped around a banyan tree. 


The Hog’s Breath Pub, down Mittchel street a few blocks, was always a good place to drop in – more of a sports bar.  Just around the corner from Monsoons there is a Turkish restaurant, outside seating under a banyan tree eating lamb is pretty hard to beat.

A lesser know fact about Darwin is that it was the only place attacked by the Japanese during WW2. Not long after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the same air squadron bombed Darwin, on the bluff overlooking the ocean there are informative memorials that tell the story.

Yes, for some reason I do like Darwin. The white hat that I wear while sketching in the summer came from a hat shop just a block from Monsoons. Reflecting on Darwin brings back good memories. As always I am so gratful for the opportunities the being a seminar speaker afforded me.