WINE DINE & TRAVEL ADVENTURES WITH RON & MARY ALL POSTS

it’s what we do

Join Ron & Mary James as they wine, dine and travel around the World

THE CACHOPO CHRONICLE

THE CACHOPO CHRONICLE

A few years ago, we unintentionally ended up in the Spanish coastal town of Santa Pola on a day trip from Alicante that had gone wrong. That’s when we stumbled on Restaurante Asturiano La Sidrería de Santa Pola and discovered Asturian cuisine–comfort food on steroids....

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HISTORY & FINE DINING MEET IN MADRID

HISTORY & FINE DINING MEET IN MADRID

The highlight of our short visit to Madrid with our friends Gary and Debbie Wasserman was undoubtedly our memorable lunch feast at Botin, the world’s oldest continuously operating restaurant. We had dined here once before at the suggestion of our friend Mary Ann Eger....

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FEASTING IN ALICANTE

FEASTING IN ALICANTE

During our last three visits to Alicante, Spain, we walked by La Taverna del Racó del Pla a dozen times. Hidden in a narrow side street a couple of blocks from the Mercado, it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but when we peered through the windows, we were...

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CRAZY ABOUT CADIZ

CRAZY ABOUT CADIZ

You may have wondered why I haven’t posted much about our stay in Cadiz for the last eight days. Besides the fact we’ve been busy exploring the city, I wanted to confirm our first impressions of this place, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe....

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THE TROUBLE WITH PORTUGUESE WINES

THE TROUBLE WITH PORTUGUESE WINES

It may come as a surprise, but Mary and I enjoy a glass of wine now and then. (Cue the laughing hysterically soundtrack). In our household, wine time has been an important ritual for more than 33 years. It always begins at 5 p.m. sharp, unless we're traveling, but I...

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A LUSOPHONIOUS DINING EXPERIENCE AT BAHR

A LUSOPHONIOUS DINING EXPERIENCE AT BAHR

For the most part, we focus our travel dining on well-reviewed family-owned eateries that serve traditional fare. Occasionally, we take a break and enjoy a good steakhouse or an Italian or Asian restaurant. Rarely, usually once during a long stay, do we splurge on a...

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MAD ABOUT BACALHAU

MAD ABOUT BACALHAU

Portugal has some quirks. One of the biggest head-scratchers is its love affair with bacalhau or stinky salt cod to laypeople. Why a country known for its seamanship and rich fishing grounds would prefer salted dried cod over the tasty fresh stuff is baffling. Equally...

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A VISIT TO THE NATIONAL TILE MUSEUM

A VISIT TO THE NATIONAL TILE MUSEUM

Portugal is best known for explorers, bacalhau, Pastel da Natas, sardines, wine cork, and decorative tiles not necessarily in that order. You know they’re important because there’s a museum dedicated to almost all of them. One, in particular, caught Mary’s fancy, the...

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A SUNSET CRUISE ON THE TAGUS RIVER

A SUNSET CRUISE ON THE TAGUS RIVER

Mary and I sailed the Tagus River last evening to watch the sunset on a glorious summer day here. It's a popular pastime among visitors and locals. So during our time here we've eyed some of the commercial big-name tours. Too often they looked crowded and...

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PASTEL DA NATA COOKING SCHOOL

PASTEL DA NATA COOKING SCHOOL

It's one thing to savor Portugal's favorite sweet pastry, pastel da nata, but it's another to make it from scratch. This morning we took the always exciting number 28 tram to the Compadre Cooking School to learn the secrets of this tasty tart, first sold at a...

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PORTUGAL’S SURF CITY

PORTUGAL’S SURF CITY

We're taking an overnight break from Lisbon in the surfing town of Ericeira, about an hour away from the big city. We were pleasantly surprised by the charm of the old town that hugs the rugged coastline. We enjoyed a fun meal at a popular little eatery, Taberna O...

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FERRY TO STREET ART AND GREAT FOOD

FERRY TO STREET ART AND GREAT FOOD

Amazing day, even though our elevator has been out for the last two days — that’s seven days out of 14 since we moved into our apartment. My calves are becoming massive. Here are some shots of our excursion to our restaurant across the Tagus river. After we exited the...

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BELEM WALKING TOUR PART 2

BELEM WALKING TOUR PART 2

Our guide, who skipped the long line to buy Pastel da Natas for us, couldn't do the same at Jeronimos Monastery or the adjoining church of Santa Maria de Belém. We decided the line to Jerónimos Monastery, which stretched the length of two football fields, was too...

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BELEM WALKING TOUR PART 1

BELEM WALKING TOUR PART 1

Our first walking tour on this visit to Portugal took us to historic Belem, a political power center of Portugal for centuries. A short train ride from Lisbon, it's the home of the Presidential Palace, a grand cathedral, the riverside point where Portuguese explorers...

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CELEBRATING OUR ELEVATOR

CELEBRATING OUR ELEVATOR

Beautiful day in Lisbon. We’re celebrating the restoration of elevator service at our apartment. It’s been out for three days, and since we’re 7 floors up, we’ve moved to a hotel until it’s fixed. An hour after we checked into the Lisbon Wine Hotel, we got word that...

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A HEALING LUNCH AT DA PRATA 52

A HEALING LUNCH AT DA PRATA 52

We had a great night's sleep last night, so things are looking much better this morning. The shower was perfect and Alexa is playing Moonlight on jazz piano. Also, the silver lining of our challenging day yesterday was our outstanding meal at a little restaurant just...

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SORRY, THE ELEVATOR IS BROKEN

SORRY, THE ELEVATOR IS BROKEN

We like to say that in these times, getting there is the hardest part of travel. After a backbreaking 22-hour trip to Lisbon, our experience here so far is proving the exception. We thought the hard part was behind us as our driver stopped outside our just restored...

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THE SAD FUTURE OF AIRPORTS?

THE SAD FUTURE OF AIRPORTS?

The future of airports? In Toronto, there’s practically zero traditional seating at your gate. Instead, the bean counters have replaced them with restaurant seating, each equipped with a touch screen menu with an 18 percent default tip. Handy for a quick, expensive...

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SPLENDID ISOLATION? DAY FOUR

SPLENDID ISOLATION? DAY FOUR

Another rather dull day in isolation. I learned this morning that they would test me tomorrow and the next day for COVID. That’s good news, but it also creates a little anxiety. A negative result would free me to join Mary in our balcony suite on deck seven. A...

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SPLENDID ISOLATION? DAY THREE (HUMP DAY)

SPLENDID ISOLATION? DAY THREE (HUMP DAY)

Not much new here on day three. One thing of note is that I now make my bed. I learned how in the Navy many decades ago, but I’ve been spoiled for the last thirty-some years by my loving wife who takes on this chore. Evidently, my housekeeping abilities don't equal...

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SPLENDID ISOLATION? DAY TWO

SPLENDID ISOLATION? DAY TWO

I’m really not sure if this is day two or not. For me, it’s day three, but the ship’s doctor considers yesterday the first full day toward my required five days in isolation when they will test me again for Covid. I’m feeling fine and my temperature and oxygen levels,...

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SPLENDID ISOLATION? DAY ONE

SPLENDID ISOLATION? DAY ONE

It was really only a matter of time; I suppose. Traveling is a risky business to begin with, and even more so in the time of COVID, no matter how careful you are. Sometimes your luck just runs out. Mine did yesterday and I'll be alone for at least five days in an...

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RON & MARY’S TAPAS & ANCESTRY ADVENTURE

RON & MARY’S TAPAS & ANCESTRY ADVENTURE

Tomorrow we're off on a three-plus month adventure that will take us from San Diego to Spain, Miami to Montreal, and to New England. We’ll be staying two nights in Madrid to get over jet lag, then bullet train to Alicante, where we’ll spend a month and a half. Then...

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Villajoyosa: Spain’s Happy Beachtown

Villajoyosa: Spain’s Happy Beachtown

Our visit to one of the city’s chocolate factories had a sweet ending, but the genuine star of our visit to Villajoyosa was the seaside town itself. The adventure begins at the top of the old town, where the remnants of ancient castle walls merge into narrow three and...

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Alicante’s Castle Santa Barbara

Alicante’s Castle Santa Barbara

Alicante's Santa Barbara Castle, among the largest medieval fortresses in Spain, is the symbol of this historic city. It also dominates the dramatic view through the wall-to-wall glass doors in our apartment. After watching it for the last twenty or so nights, we...

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The Trouble With Tabarca Island

The Trouble With Tabarca Island

On our trip from the Alicante airport to our apartment of the many stairs and no elevator, our nice landlord pointed out a sleek orange catamaran docked in the marina. “That’s the Kon Tiki,” she said, “the ferry to Tabarca Island. It’s a good day trip. The island is...

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Playing James Bond at the Palacio

Playing James Bond at the Palacio

Celebrating an Aztec football win at the Palacio Estoril Hotel bar with a 007 “Vesper” martini. Shaken not stirred. Ian Fleming stayed here as an intelligence officer during the war and frequented the casino next door. That’s where he met a spy who inspired James...

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A Delicious Routine in Portugal

A Delicious Routine in Portugal

After a month in Portugal, things are becoming routine, like making Saturday and Sunday breakfasts. This morning I made us bacon, cheddar cheese, and egg sandwiches. What makes it special was that the beautiful rolls were super fresh. This morning I just walked a few...

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Portugal: A Food Lover’s Paradise

Portugal: A Food Lover’s Paradise

Shopping yesterday at a bustling Cascais supermarket yesterday was like finding a mammoth Whole Foods with Trader Joe's prices. The vast market showcased an abundance of beautiful produce, including avocados and fall-fresh apples. Wonderful fresh breads and sweets...

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Hello Alfama, Lisbon!

Hello Alfama, Lisbon!

Jet lag city. After our somewhat grueling journey from San Diego, we grabbed a quick bite, checked into our apartment, and flopped down on the comfy bed until we came to four hours later. Feeling human, at least for the moment, we invited our traveling companions from...

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The Fine Art of Packing

The Fine Art of Packing

With only a few days to go before we begin our three-month adventure in Portugal and Spain, we’re packing — no, make that Mary is packing. She is the main packer in our household primarily because she’s seen me pack — and it’s not very organized and always at the last...

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Travel Gallery

Ron and Mary’s favorite travel photos and videos.