Showing posts from September, 2010

#10 - New York City: Checklist

On my first visit to New York, I wanted to see the famous New York City landmarks (the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State building, Central Park, and Rockefeller Plaza), but my friends told me that we did not have time to play tourist. We came to New York to check out the hottest nightclub. So we went ‘clubbing’, and hung out at SoHo and Greenwich Village. I guess for a twenty-something, New York City was a 'happening' destination. Many New York City sites have been used as backdrop or featured in numerous films that we become so familiar with these sites. For me, the familiarity takes away the excitement from seeing a site for the first time. But New York City has so much more to offer than the tourist sites. Now or as a grown-up, I view New York City as a 'life-style' destination.  I visited New York on various occasions: to attend business conferences, to check out colleges or universities, and to attend graduation ceremonies. And it was during these types of vi

#9 Study Tour: Lessons Learned

My sister and I were supposed to leave for a European Study Tour on Monday, Sept. 13, 2010. But this trip did not materialize. Our itinerary supposedly included a visit to Munich, Prague, Krakow, Warsaw and Medjugorje, and to see the ‘Passion Play’ at Oberammergau.  Yes, we’re among the hundreds of travelers who have fallen prey to Mr. Francis (Frank) Gonzales DBA: American Academy of Family Medicine travel scam.   BUSINESS NAME: Gonzales, Francis MD - American Academy-Family Mdcn (AAFM) TELEPHONE NO: (714) 432-7000 ADDRESS: 1525 Mesa Verde Dr E, #203, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 WEBSITE: OTHER BUSINESS INFO: Has a travel-related business in the Philippines. Website: In retrospect, Mr. Gonzales and the American Academy of Family Medicine’s practices were telling signs of a possible travel scam. So my goal is to share some of the lessons that can be learned from this whole experience. I’ll spare you from having to read the details o

#8 Chez Panisse: The Restaurant That Changed the Way America Eats (Revisited)

T hree weeks ago, I volunteered to drive my niece to her appointment in Oakland. Somehow, I found myself driving on Highway 13 toward the northern section of Shattuck Avenue – Berkeley’s gourmet ghetto. Since we were in the area, I thought I would grab some cheese from Cheeseboard and order ‘pizza to go’ from the pizzeria next door. As I pulled over to park my car, the towering monkey puzzle tree caught my eye. Suddenly, I felt a pang of hunger for tarte tatin or call it nostalgia for I remember having the best dessert from the restaurant hidden behind the monkey puzzle tree. We walked across the street and squeezed into Chez Panisse, where the maître d’ greeted us with, “Do you have a reservation? Sorry, we’re fully booked.” Since it was rather late for lunch, I thought the maître d’ would be able to accommodate us if I told her we would order dessert and coffee only. She said, “It’s not that I don’t have food to serve you, the problem is that I don’t have a table.” As if to take