Thursday, December 24, 2015

My Favorite Things: It's Hard to Stop!

747 landing at LAX

Well, folks, there you have it...this is the twelfth story in the series of some of my favorite things. These are no where near all of them. I love my job to the point where often I find that on my days off, I would rather be flying. There are many and numerous times I say out loud, “That's my favorite!” In fact, it was having said this a few times within only a few minutes, just over a month ago, that led me to the idea to work on this series. I sure hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

In this final installment for “My Favorite Things” in 2015, I thought I would include a list of favorite things from around the world. Most were experienced in the course of doing my job. Some were discovered on personal travels. The world has become a much smaller place for me now that I travel around it as much as I do. There are still so many nooks and corners to discover, and there is hardly any place on the planet I would not love to see.

Penguin Claus
Thank you for going on this journey with me; my little holiday gift to you. And now, here are a few of my favorite things:

My favorite yogurt: In Sydney, Australia's Circular Quay is a small, narrow restaurant selling salads, sandwiches and desserts. If you happen to go there, you'll find it near the street under the overpass. They have a bin of fresh yogurt with fresh fruit. I get it by the pint and eat it during my 2 day layovers. It's thick and creamy- delicious- and full of fresh fruit. If you're nowhere near there, I've found yogurt almost as good in the grocery stores.

My favorite butter: Almost every country outside of the US has wonderful butter. I'm not sure why we don't have dreamy butter in my home country. My first meal in Paris was in a dark, fancy restaurant. I was with fellow crew members from my SFO flight. On the table was a pail full of creamy delicious butter. I recall saying, “Just give me a spoon, I'll eat the butter.” The sentiment was shared by others.

My favorite city: Untouched by war, Brugges, Belgium is a quaint town full of Gothic architecture, ornate church towers, waterways and a wonderful town square to enjoy. The closest you can get to Brugge without actually going there is to watch the movie, In Brugges, starring Colin Farrell.

A stormtrooper boards a 737???

About the best Mexican dinner I've ever had was in a small restaurant in Old Town San Diego. It upset me having been raised in Texas to find what I thought was better tortilla soup and carne asada out in California. It was also very hard to accept that the best steak of my life was found in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was so tender, you didn't need a knife. It was flavorful, lean and simply to die for. Something about the amount of rich soil just under the grass eaten by the cows. Sorry Texas, you're known for TexMex and steaks, but you will just have to share the stage on these two items in my book!

My favorite beer: I've always had a thing for light-colored wheat beer, such as Blue Moon. It all started in 1994 when I discovered Cellis White. The Cellis brewery went out of business a short time later, dammit. Then I found, while on vacation in Brussels and relaxing in the town square, cherry flavored Lambic beer; it was on special. It was equally refreshing when enjoying it on my day trip to Brugges.

My favorite airport layover hotel: The worst part about trips to Vancouver is having to deal with customs. The best part is staying at the airport hotel: The Fairmont. One of the best hotel chains in the world (and one I once worked for when in high school), it's only a short walk from baggage claim, across the terminal. It has fantastic views of airport activity (my favorite), no matter what room you get. Wonderful location, friendly staff, fantastic rooms with comfortable beds, nice-smelling lotion and mint tea. I love the water pitcher that allows me to enjoy tea without that slight taste of coffee you get when making tea in the coffee maker.

View of the Sydney Opera House from door 5R.

My favorite layover: No longer a destination for me now that I'm based in Houston, I still loved my trips to Australia. Situated on a natural harbor, it's one of the more beautiful cities in the world. The people are more laid back and their manners are much better than those found in other major cities. I once noticed that when people took cell phone calls while walking down the sidewalk, they stepped to the side to talk. It has a feel to it of what I expect the US was like in the 50's. And with all the water, between the harbor and the ocean, there are so many walks one can take on the well constructed pathways that wind along the shores and above the cliffs. I enjoyed a different walk on each layover and never repeated the same one. It's also home to the best fish dinner I've ever had.

My favorite Barbecue: While you can't really beat the BBQ stuffed baked potato at Dickey's at the DFW airport, I think the best BBQ I've had in my travels was in Kansas City. Thanks to a passenger who told me about Gates BBQ and their burnt ends sandwich, I found a piece of heaven between bread and smothered in tangy sauce. While maybe not the best BBQ I've had, it definitely made quite an impression on me.


Wonderful pizza: A few months after the tsunami that struck Thailand, I spent a week on the shore in Phuket. My hotel had a wood-fired pizza oven and I ate that pizza each night of my stay, but one. I regretted that one. (Not really.) It was hand tossed and thin crust, fired to perfection with melted cheese. I don't know that Italy itself could make a pizza this good, and I've been to Italy! They even let me refresh my culinary background by allowing me to make my own pizza one night!

Best Cuban sandwich: I don't know the name of the hotel, but at the Miami airport I once had an extended short layover. The 'Cuban', my first, was quite tasty and the fries were dusted in Parmesan cheese. Nothing like a hotel meal that surprises at how good it is. My favorite.

My favorite downtown hotel: A few years ago, I was holding red eyes from San Francisco to Boston for 30 hour layovers. I loved being able to explore Boston and the Freedom Trail. We stayed at the oldest continuously run hotel in the country, the Omni Parker House. It's a notably haunted hotel, and I believe it! The experiences I had there will be the subject of its own story. The hotel is the birthplace of the Parker House rolls and the Boston Cream Pie. It has a great work out room and has fostered the inspiration for several stories that I have written, most notably being the history of Doctor Evil. (See my Fiction Blog.......)
Some of my favorite culinary finds: Street waffles in Brussels and street churros in Mexico City for their wonderful texture and perfect flavor. Clotted cream in London for its creaminess and divine when combined with warm scones. Seafood burrito in Puerto Vallarta full of grilled shrimp, octopus and seasonings in a grilled flour tortilla. Espiritu Santo Restaurant in Valparaiso, Chile, one of the better restaurants I've ever eaten in, dishing out garden fresh food with charm and warmth. These all had me melting.

London's Battersea Power Station with a pig I found on the Tube.

It's difficult to stop writing about my favorites; there are so many. This list isn't so much about the job as it's
about the perks of enjoying my job. The places I've seen, the places I get to visit, the cultures I am able to gain knowledge of and the wonders of the world I am able to explore. It's true magic and I'd not trade this in for anything (except winning the lottery, in which case I'd still travel, but more often than not, in my own jet plane!). I'm a first responder, I'm a safety professional, I am a flight attendant. It's my favorite!

1 comment:

  1. Loved it! Burnt end sandwich is the best. Someday you and I will travel together and eat our way around the world....