Report Cards for June 2004

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From Ubud, Bali, INDONESIA, March 15, ’04. . .

Pertiwi Bungalows (Monkey Forest Rd., Ubud) — gracious service, magnificent grounds and beautiful wood and marble in the rooms. We paid $64 for a double room (Internet rate), including breakfast.

Lamak (Monkey Forest Rd.). This is a beautiful restaurant with wonderfully presented dishes, terrific food and impeccable service. Our dinner for two, including one drink, was $30.

• Singapore Airlines from San Francisco to Singapore and then to Denpasar, Bali. This is the airline that sets the standard for all. Business-class seats make into flat beds. The flight attendants were attentive and gracious. Orchids in the bathrooms.

— Penny Strohl, Oakland, CA

From Lima, PERU, March 1, ’04. . .

El Señorio de Sulco (Malécon Cisneros 1470, Mira Flores, Lima). The Sunday buffet (12-5 p.m.) cost us 91 soles (near $26) per person and included a pisco sour and dessert wine. There were many choices — this was one of the best buffets I have ever had. We also could choose from a menu, with many entrées in the $10-$15 range.

This restaurant has a beautiful view of the Pacific and a flower garden. It was listed in the Arthur Frommer guide.

The Mango Café (Av. Malecon de la Reserva, Mira Flores, Lima) — located in the Centro Comercial Larco Mar area and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Decent food and great ambiance.

We had the lunch buffet (4:30-8 p.m.), with all kinds of sandwiches, pizza, quiches, etc., plus dessert. A Margarita or pisco sour and coffee were included. The price was 26 soles ($7.50) per person.

— George Lauscher, Bohemia, NY

From Istanbul, TURKEY, March 4, ’04. . .

New Deal Travel Agency (Meh­metmimaraga Cad.) — very near the Blue Mosque and the Blue House Restaurant. The agent Remzi speaks English. He is great at getting tickets to events and arranges nice trips, lodging, air and bus tickets. Reliable and fair.

• Traveling through Turkey, we discovered Safranbolu, an old Ottoman town, where we stayed with Gengiz Saritung, a charming host, at Tabag Ahmet Bey, Konagi, Safranbolu. Rooms were $30 with breakfast.

— Homer & Alma Somers, Wal­lingford, VT

On the QM2, March ’04. . .

• My wife and I were on the inaugural Caribbean cruise of the QM2. Great ship! While other premium lines (e.g., Holland America and Celebrity) have equally as good food and service, the QM2’s public areas and enrichment programs are more extensive. And Sean Watier, the new head chef in the demonstration kitchen, is great.

— Gene Krueger, Salisbury, NC

On SCOTLAND, March ’04. . .

Brockies Lodge Hotel Restaurant (Kiltarlity by Beauly, Inverness-Shire, IV4 7HW, Scotland; phone 01463-741 257 or fax 01463 741 258).

We’d like to recommend the delicious 5-course Sunday dinner. We stopped in on Sunday and it was the best meal we had during our month’s stay in bonnie Scotland. The cost was about £11 ($21) each.

After touring around in the area on another day, we stopped in again for afternoon tea. Tea wasn’t being served, but we three were nonetheless provided with a big pot of tea and a big plate of Scottish shortbread with smiles. For free. That’s what we call Highland Scottish hospitality.

— George & Edith Hislop, Edmonton, Alberta

On EGYPT, February ’04. . .

• We took a package tour to Egypt with Grand Circle Travel (phone 800/221-2610). We stayed at the Marriott in Cairo, then went on a 7-night cruise of the Nile aboard Grand Circle’s own ship.

It cost $1,500 and we thought it well worth it. All the sightseeing, lectures and comments were great. The entertainment on the ship was much fun, and the food and service were perfect. We felt safe (security escorts were mandatory).

We had a wonderful guide who works for Grand Circle and also for private hire. His name was Raed
Elkabbany (e-mail tourguide@link. net).

— Homer & Alma Somers, Wal­lingford, VT

From NEW ZEALAND, February ’04. . .

• While Vinnies has longed claimed to be the “best restaurant” in Auckland, recently it has slipped, in our opinion. In 2002 we had a pleasant, friendly and good meal. This year, the food was down a notch and their friendliness had been replaced by a decidedly anti-American attitude.

Although we had made reservations weeks ahead, we were the only couple seated in the bar area while the locals enjoyed the ambiance of the dining room. The service was proper but detached.

The price of a meal here (and at the following restaurant) was approximately NZ$120 (near US$80) for two, including wine.

• For an exceptional dining experience in Auckland, head for the Gault at George Restaurant & Bar on Parnell Road. The food was inventive and exciting, the welcome and service were warm and attentive and the atmosphere was cozy and elegant. Our dinner at the Gault was our best dining experience in New Zealand.

— Jim Stevenson, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

On SOUTHERN AFRICA, February ’04. . .

• Took a tour to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, Feb. 2-22, with Overseas Adventure Travel (call 800/955-1925) — a great safari with extensions in Cape Town, South Africa.

It exceeded all our expectations in the areas of food, guides and accommodations. There was much exposure to animals at all four lodges. The weather cooperated, too.

The only downer was the long flight from New York to Johannesburg (17-18 hours), but I don’t know how this can be avoided. We thought the trip was a wonderful value for the money. The base cost from New York was $4,490 per person for 18 days (14 nights), and the Cape Town add-on was $690 for four nights.

— Bob Becker, Moorestown, NJ

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From Ubud, Bali, INDONESIA, March 15, ’04. . .

Pertiwi Bungalows (Monkey Forest Rd., Ubud) — gracious service, magnificent grounds and beautiful wood and marble in the rooms. We paid $64 for a double room (Internet rate), including breakfast.

Lamak (Monkey Forest Rd.). This is a beautiful restaurant with wonderfully presented dishes, terrific food and impeccable service. Our dinner for two, including one drink, was $30.

• Singapore Airlines from San Francisco to Singapore and then to Denpasar, Bali. This is the airline that sets the standard for all. Business-class seats make into flat beds. The flight attendants were attentive and gracious. Orchids in the bathrooms.

— Penny Strohl, Oakland, CA

From Lima, PERU, March 1, ’04. . .

El Señorio de Sulco (Malécon Cisneros 1470, Mira Flores, Lima). The Sunday buffet (12-5 p.m.) cost us 91 soles (near $26) per person and included a pisco sour and dessert wine. There were many choices — this was one of the best buffets I have ever had. We also could choose from a menu, with many entrées in the $10-$15 range.

This restaurant has a beautiful view of the Pacific and a flower garden. It was listed in the Arthur Frommer guide.

The Mango Café (Av. Malecon de la Reserva, Mira Flores, Lima) — located in the Centro Comercial Larco Mar area and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Decent food and great ambiance.

We had the lunch buffet (4:30-8 p.m.), with all kinds of sandwiches, pizza, quiches, etc., plus dessert. A Margarita or pisco sour and coffee were included. The price was 26 soles ($7.50) per person.

— George Lauscher, Bohemia, NY

From Istanbul, TURKEY, March 4, ’04. . .

New Deal Travel Agency (Meh­metmimaraga Cad.) — very near the Blue Mosque and the Blue House Restaurant. The agent Remzi speaks English. He is great at getting tickets to events and arranges nice trips, lodging, air and bus tickets. Reliable and fair.

• Traveling through Turkey, we discovered Safranbolu, an old Ottoman town, where we stayed with Gengiz Saritung, a charming host, at Tabag Ahmet Bey, Konagi, Safranbolu. Rooms were $30 with breakfast.

— Homer & Alma Somers, Wal­lingford, VT

On the QM2, March ’04. . .

• My wife and I were on the inaugural Caribbean cruise of the QM2. Great ship! While other premium lines (e.g., Holland America and Celebrity) have equally as good food and service, the QM2’s public areas and enrichment programs are more extensive. And Sean Watier, the new head chef in the demonstration kitchen, is great.

— Gene Krueger, Salisbury, NC

On SCOTLAND, March ’04. . .

Brockies Lodge Hotel Restaurant (Kiltarlity by Beauly, Inverness-Shire, IV4 7HW, Scotland; phone 01463-741 257 or fax 01463 741 258).

We’d like to recommend the delicious 5-course Sunday dinner. We stopped in on Sunday and it was the best meal we had during our month’s stay in bonnie Scotland. The cost was about £11 ($21) each.

After touring around in the area on another day, we stopped in again for afternoon tea. Tea wasn’t being served, but we three were nonetheless provided with a big pot of tea and a big plate of Scottish shortbread with smiles. For free. That’s what we call Highland Scottish hospitality.

— George & Edith Hislop, Edmonton, Alberta

On EGYPT, February ’04. . .

• We took a package tour to Egypt with Grand Circle Travel (phone 800/221-2610). We stayed at the Marriott in Cairo, then went on a 7-night cruise of the Nile aboard Grand Circle’s own ship.

It cost $1,500 and we thought it well worth it. All the sightseeing, lectures and comments were great. The entertainment on the ship was much fun, and the food and service were perfect. We felt safe (security escorts were mandatory).

We had a wonderful guide who works for Grand Circle and also for private hire. His name was Raed
Elkabbany (e-mail tourguide@link. net).

— Homer & Alma Somers, Wal­lingford, VT

From NEW ZEALAND, February ’04. . .

• While Vinnies has longed claimed to be the “best restaurant” in Auckland, recently it has slipped, in our opinion. In 2002 we had a pleasant, friendly and good meal. This year, the food was down a notch and their friendliness had been replaced by a decidedly anti-American attitude.

Although we had made reservations weeks ahead, we were the only couple seated in the bar area while the locals enjoyed the ambiance of the dining room. The service was proper but detached.

The price of a meal here (and at the following restaurant) was approximately NZ$120 (near US$80) for two, including wine.

• For an exceptional dining experience in Auckland, head for the Gault at George Restaurant & Bar on Parnell Road. The food was inventive and exciting, the welcome and service were warm and attentive and the atmosphere was cozy and elegant. Our dinner at the Gault was our best dining experience in New Zealand.

— Jim Stevenson, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

On SOUTHERN AFRICA, February ’04. . .

• Took a tour to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, Feb. 2-22, with Overseas Adventure Travel (call 800/955-1925) — a great safari with extensions in Cape Town, South Africa.

It exceeded all our expectations in the areas of food, guides and accommodations. There was much exposure to animals at all four lodges. The weather cooperated, too.

The only downer was the long flight from New York to Johannesburg (17-18 hours), but I don’t know how this can be avoided. We thought the trip was a wonderful value for the money. The base cost from New York was $4,490 per person for 18 days (14 nights), and the Cape Town add-on was $690 for four nights.

— Bob Becker, Moorestown, NJ