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Guest: Pasadena
Everything's Coming Up Roses
In Pasadena

By Caroline and Steve Lake

Meet Our Guest Writers

Caroline and Steve Lake are freelance travel writers based in Las Vegas. They have travelled extensively throughout the US and Canada and have been filing travel articles about their adventures since 1991. During that time they have been to all 50 state capitals, nine out of the 10 Canadian provinces, 47 major league baseball parks, over 500 universities and eight Presidential libraries. Steve has also worked in the casino industry for over 25 years while Caroline was a professional makeup artist for Chanel and Guerlain for 21 years.

Quite simply, Pasadena, California is a treasure. There are more wonderful, surprising things to do then you can count.

The Westin Pasadena comes highly recommended for its comfortable rooms and perfect location. The California Pizza Kitchen rests on the courtyard beside it, with the magnificent Pasadena City Hall at its end. Regarded as one of the finest examples of the California Mediterranean-style, the 80-year-old City Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Fountains, Waterways and squared ponds grace the courtyard behind it, making the complex of restaurants and office buildings a venue of elegance and enhancement. The Westin is within walking distance of Old Town and the Convention Center. The hotel also offers use of their shuttle and driver. Since there is limited parking in Pasadena, take advantage of the shuttle that will take you anywhere within a 10 minute radius of the hotel.

The Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens are a short drive from the Westin. The Art Gallery, a total of 55,000 square feet, was built as the home of railroad and real estate mogul Henry Huntington and his wife Arabella. When finished in 1911, it was considered one of the finest villas in Southern California. It is actually in the town of San Marino, that is basically a suburb of Pasadena.

This lovely villa is now The Huntington Art Gallery with high quality European art. Both British and French art are displayed. The portrait gallery houses Gainborough’s famous “Blue Boy” and Thomas Lawrence’s “Pinkie.”

In the main exhibition hall there is a Gutenberg Bible, and early editions of Shakespeare works, manuscripts of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and a folio edition of Audubon’s Birds of America.

The Botanical Gardens cover 120 acres. The Desert Garden is remarkable, with a large grouping of huge unusual cacti and succulents.

the Chinese Garden at the Huntington Botanical Garden, Pasadena
The beautiful Chinese Garden at the Huntington Botanical Garden features a lake, tea house, restaurant and shops and five stone bridges.
Photo courtesy: The Huntington Library.

the Rose Garden
The magnificent Rose Garden shows the history of the Rose over 2,000 years.
Photo courtesy: The Huntington Library.

Make reservations for high tea at the Huntington. Hot scones are brought to the table along with your choice of tea. While there serve yourself from the buffet of tea sandwiches, salads, caviar and delectable desserts. If you are lucky enough to get Kimberly as your waitress, she will add to the delight of a real English high tea.

a float at the parade of the Tournament of Roses, Pasadena
The Tournament of Roses is what Pasadena is most famous for. Photo courtesy: The Huntington Library.

The Tournament of Roses, held on January 1st or 2nd, consists of a stunning parade of marching bands, equestrian groups and floats, made of flowers, seeds, leaves and stems. The floats seem to get more spectacular each year. To see the floats in person instead of on television is quite a unique experience. They can be viewed before and after the parade. To see the floats up close and smell the lovely flowers is a real treat.

dining on Chinese food at The Equator Restaurant, Pasadena
The Equator Restaurant which serves up excellent Chinese dishes is one of the dining experiences enjoyed on a Melting Pot Food Tour. Photo courtesy: Melting Pot Tours.

The Melting Pot Food Tour of Old Pasadena is not to be missed. Learn about the history and architecture of Old Pasadena, which is on the Register of Historic Districts, while enjoying the frequent stops at restaurants of different cultures.

The hidden courtyard and alleyways offer some of the best food to be found in Pasadena. The stories behind the different cuisines offered are fascinating and the food at each stop is delicious. There are eight stops in all, both savory and sweet. One of the restaurants is Choza Mama with fabulous Peruvian cuisine and don’t miss Mignon Chocolate that offers an exotic range of chocolates.

Known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled, the Norton Simon Museum is a must see. The collection starts from the Renaissance and takes you to the 20th century. There are Monets, Rembrandts, Van Goghs and Renoirs along with Asian and Indian sculptures. Although flash cameras are not permitted, pictures taken without the use of flash come out remarkably well.

a sculpture of Buddha at the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena
A sculpture of a Buddha at the world famous Norton Simon Museum. Photo courtesy: Norton Simon Museum.

The Theater District is acclaimed for being the home of the Pasadena Playhouse founded in 1925. The Pasadena Playhouse has been recognized as California’s State Theater. The beauty of the theater as well as the offering of fantastic talent is wonderful. Recently Hershey Felder as George Gershwin in “George Gershwin Alone” gave a brilliant performance.

The Gamble House was built for Proctor and Gamble heir David Gamble. The house was dedicated to the City of Pasadena in 1966. Built in 1908 the Gamble House is a great structure built in the Arts and Craft mode. Seventeen varieties of wood are used throughout the lovely home and can now be toured.

Forty miles west of Pasadena in Simi Valley is Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Library and Museum. Situated on a 100 acre site with spectacular views. There is a full size replica of the Oval Office when Regan was President. Air Force One the “Flying White House” can be boarded. The Library and Museum are definitely worth the visit.

With a population of 133,000 the vast array of cultural activities available in Pasadena is amazing. Pasadena is a place to return to again and again to discover innovative museums, restaurants and theater.

If you go - Los Angeles International Airport is 29 miles to Pasadena. Bob Hope Burbank Airport is 16 miles to Pasadena.

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I enjoy your newsletters -and particularly Patti Nickell's article about the 'Pudding Club' in the Cotswold's. An old friend of mine is taking a holiday there this year and plans to try their Jam Roly Poly and Spotted Dick - amongst many!

--- John & Maggie - UK


The way I read this article, you stayed at the "Breeze and Waves". Do you have any pictures of the cottages, and would you recommend to some first time visitors to Caramoan?

--- Richard Simons, Stockton, CA

Hi Richard,

Breeze and Waves was still under construction when I stayed there in Feb. 2010. It should be finished by now. You can see pictures of the resort on this page. We got to stay in one of the small cottages in the picture. I'll recommend it to budget travelers but you might want to look at other options. We chose it because of its location right by the beach. You can try other resorts in the Caramoan town proper (you have to get a ride to get to the beach and the jump-off point to go island-hopping but it's a relatively short distance). There are also two higher end resorts located on a cove and very near the islands: Gota Village Resort (unfortunately there is something wrong with their website right now) and its twin resort Hunongan Cove. Caramoan is a relatively new tourism development so resorts are just now being built.

You can go to this site for a good list of choices for accommodations in Caramoan.

I should add that it might be good to go to Caramoan (and almost anywhere in the Philippines) during the dry season from December to May. June to November are the typhoon months and sometimes typhoons will still come during early December.


* * * * *

Hi, I'm planning to go to Caramoan this coming May. Would you know the number of Breeze and Waves Cottages? Thanks!

--- Ann, Manila, Philippines

Hi Ann,

Breeze and Waves' phone number is 0908-2911072. Look for Freddie. Hope you have a grand time at Caramoan!



For Nature's Playground: The South Island of New Zealand

Hi Wendy,

In winter, Heritage Heights Apts. now offers free shuttle service to and from Queenstown 24/7 to guests without cars. We own a 7-passenger 4-wd Toyota Highlander used specifically to taxi guests up and down the hill during winter months. We also run advance purchase winter promotions which include a 4-wd rental.

If any of your readers head over this direction, I will enjoy extending Heritage Heights hospitality!!


--- Ailey, Owner, Queenstown, NZ

* * * * *

New Zealand text and pix top drawer! Almost as good as making the trip. ( but one still wants to. . . ) Full of useful detail. Only trouble with the website: It's tough figuring out which feedback goes with which article, and the more there are, the tougher it gets!

--- Ken W., Camarillo CA

Thanks Ken..."álmost" is right, you really have to experience the South Island firsthand. Granted this piece is long, but still all I can think about is how much I left out! I agree abut the relevancy factor re the feedback--it can be confusing...sometimes I have a "Wait a minute...what?" moment myself.

Thanks for writing,


* * * * *

Okay Wendy, from now on whenever you book your travel, please reserve space for me. I will carry your luggage, bring you cold drinks, massage your shoulders, and change the film in your camera (oops, I guess you don't have to do that anymore). Wonderful ideas and recommendations. Can you get to New Zealand from Boston in less than a week?

--- Carl A., South Easton, MA

Ha ha ha Carl, you're quite the comedian! But you'd be surprised how short that flight feels. I suspect Qantas isn't the only airline who's figured out that 3 movies, 2 full meals, lots of snacks and a complimentary travel pack (eye mask, warm socks and neck pillow) equals a quiet, well-behaved cabin. It really isn't bad. Just fly direct--pick the shortest flight w/ no lengthy layovers and you'll be fine. Re: signing on as my Super Sherpa...why not? I think you know I seldom travel in anything less than Party mode. There's just that pesky background check...

Thanks for writing,


For Excellence Riviera Cancun:

Wendy, I truly enjoyed your info especially since we leave in a week to celebrate my 50th Birthday. Was it necessary to make reservations at the restaurants? Was there a dress code for the restaurants? What would you recommend not missing while there? Was the spa experience worth it? Did you travel away from the resort while there? Thanks,

--- Kim P. Fuquay, Varina, NC

Hi Kim.

Sorry for the delay in had heavy competition with the holidays. Reservations at Excellence restaurants are not necessary and you will not find a wait. The dress code is basically no bathing suits and flip-flops...with a decided a mix of atmospheres. Mostly the open-air beachside spots are super casual, the rest slightly more formal. Truly, as long as you are clothed, I don't think you'd be turned away anywhere, though most people seemed to enjoy dressing up at night...I suspect more for their own pleasure than any sense of decorum.

The spa experience was worth it, though my favorite part wasn't the actual massage. The precursor was a 45 min. or so rotation from sauna to a series of (kind of wild) water jets which was very different and very cool, not just for women. In its' entirety, and with the serenity of the beach/champagne/strawberries, it was memorable.

We did not travel away from the hotel this trip, but the hotel is very helpful in arranging day excursions to fit your desires and you do not have to book these until you arrive.

Have a great time!

--- Wendy


I enjoyed Nino's contribution, since we all read about the frightening terrorist attack. Having travelled somewhat through India years ago, I am continually impressed with this country and the gentle spiritual aspects of this nation. Some day I look forward to going back. Nino has encouraged me. Thank you!

--- Yoka Y., Westlake Village, CA


Dear Mr.s/counselors Brown and Koro,

Thank you for a very informed and succinct article on motorcycle accidents and the law. It inspired me to think about getting a motorcycle, but not have an accident. But, if I do I am now well informed with the basics of what to do providing I do not perish in the accident. Any tips about that too?

--- Unnamed

Dear Rush and Chuck,

I wish I had read your article before our camping trip the Friday prior to President's Day.

My wife and I were in a car accident on our way to a camp ground. We were "rear-ended" and the impact caused our car to crash into the car in front of us. The contents of the truck that we were riding scattered onto several lanes. It's a miracle our two dogs decided to stay inside the car. My wife and I were shaken up badly but despite the mess, I was still able to walk out of the car. I got the license plate of the driver in front of me but, to my surprise, after reviewing the little damage on his car, he then sped off. I didn't know you could do that! The driver who hit me from behind gave me his information and then he too left the scene without saying good 'bye. When the police arrived all I had to go by was the little information I had jotted down which I hope was truthful. What if it was bogus? What if I had written the plate number incorrectly? How would that affect my insurance? What if we were unconscious, who would have written down all that information?

I do have one suggestion if you are injured in an accident. The police asked if my wife wanted an ambulance to bring her to the hospital but we declined the offer. I remembered when I rode an ambulance years ago that it was not a comfortable ride. I was strapped to the stretcher and there were all sorts of medical equipment dangling noisily above me. As long as you are able, it is a more relaxful ride inside a car. Besides, isn't there a fee for ambulance service?

--- Dave S. of Pasadena, CA

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