Friday, June 29, 2012

There’s Lots To Do in Southern Delaware, Rain or Shine

Best known for its great beaches, Southern Delaware has a great history as well.  So when its not a “beach day” there is a wealth of great things to explore here. 

                                               Guestroom at Bellmoor Inn in Rehobeth.

Located where Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic, it has a long and illustrious maritime history. Captain John Smith of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia explored and mapped the rivers Southern Delaware in 1608-09. Surveyors Mason and Dixon established the southern boundary of Delaware in 1764, the line that separated North from South during the Civil War. At the small stone marker you can stand with one foot in Maryland and the other in Delaware.  You can also visit a marker in Lewes, where the Dutch first landed in Delaware in 1629. 
The first state in the United States (by virtue of being the first to sign the U.S. Constitution in 1783) Delaware might never have been a separate state. Pennsylvania and Maryland both wanted the land, but in the end because it had been first settled by the Dutch it was granted separate statehood.
For more modern attractions, you can tour the historic Lightship “Overfalls” in Lewes.  Coastal waters could be treacherous and ships needed signal lights to guide them. Anchored lightships were used where light houses could not be built. Only 17 lightships remain of the 179 commissioned between 1820 and 1952. The Overfalls is one of very few open to the public.
In Bethany Beach, you can tour the Indian River Lifesaving Station built in 1876.  When ships ran a ground on coastal sand bars during storms and were sinking, the exceptionally brave men of the Lifesaving Service came to their aid.  Its a fascinating story that is little known. 
Nearby in Fenwick Island you’ll find the Discover Sea Shipwreck Museum.  This free museum is located on the upper floor of a souvenir shop, but don’t be fooled.  Its an excellent museum filled with millions of dollars worth of treasure and artifacts reclaimed from dozens of sunken ships off the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean.  Many of the ancient sunken ships were Spanish vessels loaded with treasure from the “new world” headed back to Europe.
Even before the America entered World War II, there was much concern that Germany would
attack our Atlantic coast. In 1941, the military began building massive coastal fortifications.  Today, at Fort Miles Historic Area just north of Lewes you can visit one of these facilities built to defend the Philadelphia Ship Yards, oil refineries along the Delaware River, and Dupont chemical works from attack.  There is a massive artillery piece here with a 12 inch bore. Originally there were two, plus a number of smaller guns.  The big guns could fire a 275 pound payload up to 25 miles -- really big bang.
A gun barrel from the U.S.S. Missouri (the battleship where the peace treaty was signed ending the war with Japan) has been acquired recently. The Missouri was the last American battleship ever to be built and went into service in early 1945 just months before the treaty signing.  The gun barrel is 66 feet long and has a 16 inch bore.  It will be placed on a (yet to be built) outdoor mount for public display at Fort Miles. 
Southern Delaware also has some great food.  At Luca Restaurant in Millsboro they always use the freshest local ingredients in keeping with Italian tradition of following the rhythm of the seasons. The daily features are chosen from what is delivered fresh each morning.  Its pasta and bread are made fresh daily. Wines are hand picked by an Italian Master Sommelier, some specifically for Luca. It is an Italian wine experience like no other. Located in a former bank building, the vault at Luca has been converted to a private dining area that can seat up to six guests.
The difference is in the extra little touches at Nage Bistro in Rehoboth Beach. From the specially formulated cocktails to the handcrafted garnish on the bistro's chef-created sandwiches, entrees and desserts, everything is just a little bit better here.  Its a great meal at a reasonable cost.
The Bellmoor Inn & Spa offers upscale lodging in Rehoboth Beach, with a variety of luxury hotel features and special amenities. Its elegant, beachside accommodations are the ideal lodging option for family vacations or romantic weekend getaways.  Its centrally located near the best attractions, beaches, museums, entertainment, shopping, and dining. The Bellmoor the ideal hotel choice in Rehoboth Beach.
Southern Delaware has an abundance of ecotourism activities. There's everything from whale and dolphin watching to beach combing, nature walks, photo opportunities, canoeing, and bicycling. Part of the Atlantic Flyway, the area home to a variety of land and sea birds.  Other options include a choice of great beaches, camping, nature trails, boating, and fishing including surf, ocean, bay, and freshwater.
The cultural experiences are numerous here, including a summer arts festival, a winery, art galleries, dinner theater, historic train rides, outdoor performances by the ocean, and sounds an annual Nanticoke Indian Powwow, which draws native Indians for tribal dances from near and far.
Order your free Visitor's Guide at and begin enjoying Southern Delaware.
Photo Information ---
 Recovered artifacts on view at Shipwreck Museum.

                                      Overfalls Lightship is open to public in Lewes.

                                   12” Gun from WWII is on exhibit at Fort Miles
                                                     outside Lewes.

                                   Lifeboat at Rescue Service Museum at Bethney Beach.

                                              Bank Vault seating at LUCA Restaurant.
James Weaver
GolfWiz Blog
Senior Travel Editor

Friday, June 22, 2012

Golfing In Western Canada Offers Spectacular Views

Some of the most scenic views in the world are in the Canadian Rocky
Mountains.  Resorts here have the very best, plus lots of great golf.
See if you agree.

15th Hole, The Fairmont Banff Springs
This 479-yard par 4 is the original first hole of this historic course,
nestled against its famed Waldhaus Restaurant and pub.  The view
from the elevated tee includes a distant view of the valley, edged by
mountain cliffs and the Bow River

18th Hole, Stewart Creek Golf Club
The par-5, 520-yard finishing hole at Stewart Creek not only provides
one last crack at making birdie it also saves the golf course's best
view for last. The view may cause you to lose focus on the golf shot as
it provides a panoramic view of the 18th green, #9 green and Hole #1
with Cascade mountain providing the back drop.  Take a virtual tour
of the hole via Stewart Creek’s website.

10th Hole, Canmore Golf & Curling Club:
The first and tenth holes are great opening holes running side by side,
featuring a large bunker between the approach of both holes.
  A 520-yard par-5 hole, the 10th is situated in the valley between
two towering mountain ranges.

9th Hole, The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge:  Known
as Cleopatra, this voluptuous par 3 measures 231 yards from the back
tees.  Any of the tees have an incredible view from a high elevated tee,
with a mesmerizing backdrop of Pyramid Mountain. Check out new
flyovers of the course from The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge’s Website.

4th Hole, Mount Kidd Course:  This 197-yard par-3 hole
is Kananaskis Country’s most photographed hole.  The backdrop to your
tee shot is the impressive Mount Kidd to your left and directly in front
is Mount Lorette, the namesake for the other 18 holes at Kananaskis. 
To the right of the tee is the crystal clear, fast flowing Kananaskis
River and further right is the snow covered Mount Evan Thomas.

18th Hole, Silvertip Resort:  The
par-4 finishing hole sums up your Silvertip experience, with tees
sitting at the highest point on the golf course.  A dogleg-left
orientation drops dramatically to the Timbers Clubhouse below, allowing
both golfers and diners on the outdoor patio with a view of great golf
shots, the breathless Bow Valley and towering peaks of the Rocky
Mountains. An online webcam gives travelers a wide-angle view of
the hole each day.

Canadian Rockies Golf courses are easily accessible via Calgary
International Airport, with service by most major air carriers.
Learn more at

By Jim Weaver
GolfWiz Blog
Senior Travel Editor 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Berlin, Now 775 Years Old, Is An International Symbol For Peace and Unity

I went to Berlin hoping to learn how it has changed since the collapse of  Soviet controlled
East German government, the GDR, in 1989.While most visitors are simply looking for the
tourist sites, I was looking for something more.
Having visited Leipzig just days earlier, I had seen St. Nicholas Church near the city center and learned of the “Peaceful Revolution” of October 1989 inspired there. It resulted in  nonviolent demonstrations in Leipzig, in Berlin, and in other GDR cities and the collapse of the Soviet controlled government.  Berlin was a divided city for nearly 30 years and the Berlin Wall (the "Wall of Shame" according to former mayor Willy Brandt) had symbolized the "Iron Curtain" that separated the city and Germany.  Today, only a small section of the wall remains and its a graffiti art gallery.
The Berlin Wall Memorial is a stark reminder of the division of Germany.  Located next to the former border, there is a piece of the Berlin Wall next to the infamous border strip and watchtower. The facility shows how the border facilities were constructed and imparts to the visitor a lasting impression of the nation’s tragic division.  The Reconciliation Church was located at this site. It was blown up in 1985, as it stood right on the no man’s land “death strip”. After the fall of the Wall, a Chapel of Reconciliation was erected and opened in 2000.
Victims of the Wall (more than 1,100) are regularly remembered during church services.
There are also several other “Wall Memorials” in the city. 
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, is located near the Brandenberg Gate. It consists of  nearly five acres covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or "stelae", arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. According to the architect, the stelae are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.  An underground information center here has the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims. 
The Jewish Museum Berlin, one of the finest (and most recognizable) examples of contemporary architecture in the city, was designed by Daniel Libeskind.  He has called it “Between the Lines”, a title that reflects the tensions of German-Jewish history.  The permanent collection extends over 2,000 years of German-Jewish history. 
Every Berliner over 40 years of age can remember the years when the city was divided
and the Soviet Union controlled East Berlin and East Germany.  The DDR Museum (GDR in English) here recalls life as it was for millions of Germans during the years of the Soviet regime.
Visitors can see a furnished apartment and a Soviet made car. The interactive exhibits demonstrate the many pressures and limitations that made up everyday life under Soviet rule.
The Brandenburg Gate, erected between 1788 and 1791, has been one of Berlin’s most important monuments for over two hundred years. A former symbol of the divided city, it drew visitors who would climb to an observation platform to glimpse of the world behind the Iron Curtain which separated East from West Berlin, geographically and politically.
I asked my guide what Berliners thought following reunification. “Initially everyone was very pleased,” he said. “Later, some from East Berlin missed the old system where most all of their needs were provided for, and some West Berliners complained strongly about the high cost of rebuilding East Berlin and East Germany.
Berlin has 170 museums (Museum Island in the Spree river alone is the site of five internationally significant museums) which makes it an impossible challenge to visit all.
However, American travelers will no doubt appreciate The Kennedys Museum and The Ramones Museum. President Jack Kennedy make a great impression on citizens when he visited here in 1963, at the height of the Cold War, and made his famous quote “Ich bin ein Berliner.”  The president and his family are remembered at this museum.  The Ramones were a punk rock band from New York City.  They had a 30 year career before retiring in 1996. The museum exhibits the impressive personal collection of artifacts from a Berlin fan.
Berlin is blessed with some of the world’s greatest architecture, both classic and contemporary.  One could spend weeks just
exploring architectural gems. 
The baroque-style Hohenzollern Palace, once the seat of German government was a landmark in the city since the 15th century, when the Prussian royal family began construction, until 1950, when the GDR decided the war-ruined palace was a reminder of a decadent old world and destroyed its remains.
In 1976, The Palast der Republik was built. It housed not just the East German parliament (largely a ceremonial body) but also a bowling alley, a disco, and other public space. In 1993, it was torn down because it was riddled with asbestos, but critics argue that asbestos problems in West Berlin were solved without demolishing buildings. They believe a remnant of Cold-War politics was behind its demolition and the neo-Hohenzollern palace construction project now in the works.
The question is when it might be finished. The due date is 2013, but its budget still has to make up an 80 million Euro shortfall in private (corporate) donations -- and 32 million Euro from the city of Berlin, which was deeply in debt even before the current financial crisis hit. For now the "Schlossplatz," or palace square, is empty, and not all of Berlin will mind if it stays that way.
I had hoped to see the new Berlin International Airport scheduled to open in June 2012, however, here to, construction delays have pushed the opening back a full year.  A good reason to return in 2013.  Berlin is a fascinating city and I hope to see more.
If you’re traveling to Berlin, you should consider staying at Indigo Hotel, a new boutique hotel
well located in the old East Berlin . Owned by the same folks who own Holiday Inn, it is very comfortable and has an excellent restaurant. When planning your trip view and
The DDR Museum remembers life in Berlin as it was under Soviet control from 1945 to 1990.

The Berlin Wall and “No Man’s Land” strip (looking into East Berlin) as it was before the fall of the GDR regime.

 Brandenberg Gate was the dividing line between East and West Berlin for nearly 30 years.
 Holocaust Memorial remembers the millions of European Jews who died under Nazi rule.
  In 1989 Berliners demonstrate against the Wall and help bring down the Soviet backed government.
Olympic Stadium built by the Nazi government for the 1936 Games now fully restored was the site of the World Cup Soccer Championships in 2010.

James Weaver
GolfWiz Blog
Senior Travel Editor

Thursday, April 12, 2012

TIger Woods Announces Upcoming Schedule

Tiger Woods, after his disappointing play in the Masters, will make his next appearance May 3-6 in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, the tournament announced Wednesday.

Tiger Woods And His Actions At The 2012 Masters

In follow-up to the Masters golf tournament was my appearance on ESPN Outside The Lines (April 9, 2012 at 3:00 EST). I received lots of feedback. It's always good to hear the thoughts and opinions of others.

One Viewer emailed me to say: “So are you going to just defend Tiger no matter how immature he acts? Seems pretty racist to me. Bet if he wasn't African American you'd agree with everyone else who thinks he's a disgrace now.”

My response: Calling Tiger a "disgrace" is a bit too much in my opinion. His actions were not in the spirit and tradition of the game and he should have been able to maintain his composure regardless of how he was playing. But he didn't and he deserves to be chastised and called on it.
But what I feel is disgraceful is the double standard some fans have with Tiger Woods. They love the fiery competitive attitude and energy he brings to the game, but they criticize any and every slip-up or mistake he makes.
Let's not forget who makes the needle move in the world of golf. Like it or not, Tiger Woods is the face of professional golf regardless of how he is playing. Four shots ahead, or seven shots back, the cameras and fans want to watch Tiger play. He makes money for everyone in the game.

Due to the fact that he is so popular the cameras and microphones are always on him and they seem to capture his every move: good and bad. I am 100% sure that if other touring pros had the same exposure you would see some slammed clubs and hear some off-color comments when they hit poor shots too. But who cares about the guys who aren't in contention?

Henrik Stenson slammed his club and dropped a few choice words during the Masters this year after hitting a poor shot on the 18th hole Friday, but where is the article about him being a disgrace to the game? I guess when the Henrik Stenson 2013 golf game is released we might read something about that incident. But hold on; He doesn't have a video game named after him.

Your comment about me being a racist is almost laughable. I write and say what I believe in my heart and regardless of the color of the person I am commenting on. I keep it as real as possible. You, if you think I have this undying devotion to Tiger because I am Black, remember Tiger refused to say he was Black, and not everyone in the Black community loves him. I realize that may come as a shock to you. But, yes, some Black people don't like Tiger Woods.

When you use the word disgrace remember players like Tommy Bolt—the famous club thrower— and John Daly who not only disgraced the game but himself, countless times on and off the course. I work with words and I choose them wisely. If Tiger Woods is such a disgrace to the game, do us all a favor and don't watch him play anymore.

Let me know your thoughts on this. Fine me at or friend me on Facebook.

Edward S. Wanambwa

Stonington, Maine: A Vacation Away From The Tourist Crowds

My wife and I first discovered Deer Isle, Maine,about twenty five years ago.  I had friends who recommended it and we were interested in experiencing the “real” Maine, not the “tourist” Maine.  We drove most of two days from Philadelphia staying overnight along the way.  When we reached Portland, we thought we were almost there. When we reached Elsworth, we were certain it was close by, but it was still an hour’s drive before we crossed the high green bridge to the island and another 30 minutes before we reached Stonington the largest community at the southern most tip of Deer Isle. You might say it’s “off the beaten path.”
Nevertheless, Stonington is a charming little town with much to offer visitors and permanent residents. Deer Isle is home to 2,500 people year-round and the number more than doubles in the summer.  The 28 mile-long island was once a major center for quarrying granite (some is still done) and many of New York City’s early skyscrapers and the Brooklyn Bridge are of stone from Deer Isle.  Lobster fishing is now the main business here and like much of rural Maine people often have more than one job. 

Stonington’s block long main street, next to the harbor, has a food market at one end and the century old Opera House at the other (now an arts center and movie theater).  There are a couple of restaurants, a hardware store, several art galleries, an antique shop, two small motels, and a real estate office.  Summer rentals are big on the island. Our favorite restaurant is Fisherman’s Friend where they serve a delicious lobster stew.  Lots of lobster without all the work.  Its wild blueberry pie is the best I’ve ever eaten.  

But its hard to beat Eaton’s Pier at the north end of Little Deer Isle (there are actually two islands connected by a twisting causeway).  They unload some of the lobster catch from boats here and will boil them for you in 50 gallon steel barrels with propane burners.  You eat them at wooden picnic tables on the dock.  There are no fancy tools to help you get to the lobster meat, just some grapefruit size rocks to crack the shells. A roll of paper towels helps keep you neat. Nothing fancy, just great taste.

Every Christmas we buy fresh pine wreaths (handmade by Deer Isle women) for family and friends from Harbor Farm, a lovely retail business on the island.  See www.  Also see Nervous Nellie’s Jams & Jellies at and help support the local economy.

We were on Deer Isle over the July 4th and got to see the holiday parade at the island’s other
little community Deer IsleVillage.  It’s less than half the size of Stonington and has two streets each about a block long.  The parade begins at the fire house and marches to the point where the streets intersect and makes a left turn. In another hundred yards, it turns around and heads back to the fire house. You see the whole parade twice, but don’t be late for its over in about ten minutes. 

The parade “Band” a ragtag group of various musical instruments and ages does not march, but sits at intersection of the two streets so the music can be heard the full length of the march. There were fire trucks, kids with decorated bikes, scout troops, and old veterans.  The Haystack School of Crafts here attracts artists from across the country each summer and they always take part in the parade.  This year a dozen artists were dressed as giant misquotes in handmade costumes.  It was a big summer for pesky insects and the small crowd of spectators laughed and cheered loudly.

Haystack is one of the treasures on Deer Isle.  Although its only open to the public for its
craft auctions, which occur in the evenings near the end of each two week workshop session, its well worth visiting. Fine crafts (in various craft media) from workshop participants and faculty are auctioned off to benefit the scholarship program.  There are many excellent bargains to be had by craft enthusiasts and lots of fun for all.

Back in Stonington, a popular activity is taking the mail boat to Isle of Haut, a few miles away.
A portion of the Isle is now part of Arcadia National Park and great for nature walks, bird watching, and hiking.  There’s a lovely inn on the island where you can enjoy a delicious meal, but don’t miss the mail boat back to Stonington or you’ll be an overnight guest.

There is golfing near Stonington at the Island Country Club.  Rental clubs are available at this
nine hole, 2,400 yard, par 34 course, open to the public.  Stay on the fairway, however, since the rough is pretty much impossible to navigate.  Tee times are first come, first served.

Near Fisherman’s Friend Restaurant is a sandlotball field where locals of all ages play
ball.  After dinner one evening we watched a pickup game of young kids (both boys and girls of various ages and skill levels, who shared ball gloves playing field) who were too few for full teams.  It was a delightful throwback to the past and a reminder of my own youth.

Deer Isle has a new high school and each Spring graduating seniors (about two dozen) paint the first names of their classmates on foot long pieces of wood and nail them to the telephone poles along the road into town.  No need for last names, everyone here knows who they are.  Its like that in Stonington, Maine. 

James Weaver
GolfWiz Blog
Senior Travel Editor 

Quebec City: A Little Bit of Paris in Nearby Canada

No place in Canada (or North America) is more like Europe than Quebec City, Quebec.  While French is the official language, nearly everyone is bilingual and American`` English is widely spoken.  Both languages are taught in the schools.  But its more than just language, its the culture -- the architecture, the gardens and fountains, the public art, the hospitality, the charm, and the food (especially the food).  Like Paris, there are small cafes and bistros that offer tasty croissants and other fine pastries. Virtually every one has tables on the sidewalks where you can sit and enjoy your espresso while you observe the passing scene.  Very Parisian.
We were fortunate to have the opportunity to dine at one of the city’s leading French bistro restaurants  l’Echaude Our opening course was a wild mushroom soup followed by entrees of calves liver and duck confit.  The food and service were both suburb.  It was raining when we left, but fortunately our hotel the Auberge St. Pierre was only steps away.  A fine establishment in the European tradition with a great location, we enjoyed our stay.
The business center of the Old City is a very walkable area and has numerous art galleries, antique shops, fashion boutiques, book stores, jewelers, chocolatiers, and other welcoming shops. Near the center is a impressive bronze statue of Samuel de Champlain (1567-1635), "The Father of New France", a French navigator, cartographer, soldier, and explorer. He founded New France and Quebec City on July 3, 1608 (12 years before the Plymouth Colony and a year after the first Jamestown Settlement).  Nearby, there’s a colorful three story high mural on the exterior wall of a building that depicts the history of Quebec from its founding to modern times.
The city is built on two levels.  The Old City, the place most visited  by tourists, is below a high cliff and closest to the river. There are seven stairways to the Upper City and an annual contest where runners race up and down all seven.  Fortunately, there is also a tramway connecting the two sections of the city and several streets.
The British tried to oust the French from Quebec  in 1690 but failed. When the envoys delivered the terms of surrender, the Governor General famously rebuffed the British declaring "I have no reply to make to your general other than from the mouth of my cannons and muskets."  However, the British return in 1759, and following a three month sedge, defeated the French in 15 minutes in surprise attack at the famous Battle of the Plains of Abraham. It lead to the creation of Canada.  You can visit the battlefield, now a beautiful park.  In 1775, American colonial troops (under the command of Benedict Arnold) tried to drive the British out, but they too were defeated.
Quebec City is the Provincial Capital, the seat of government for Quebec.  The impressive Parliament Building was completed in 1886. Its Second Empire architectural style was popular for prestigious buildings at the time both in Europe and America. It resembles Philadelphia City Hall somewhat, another Second Empire building.  In front of the building is a beautiful fountain, reminiscent of Paris, donated to the city by a local department store owner a decade ago.  Across the front of the building are a number of bronze statures of prominent Quebec leaders from the past.  Throughout the city there are many fine examples of public art (think Paris).
The Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is a luxury hotel in the Upper City that dominates the skyline. It was one of a series of "chateau" style hotels built for the Canadian Pacific Railway to encourage luxury tourism and attract wealthy travelers to its trains. The hotel is near the Dufferin Terrace, a walkway along the edge of the cliff, offering extraordinary views of the Saint Lawrence River.
A major attraction, just east of the city, are the Monmorency Falls.  The falls are 275 feet high (98 feet higher than Niagara Falls) and 150 feet wide.  They are located  at the mouth of the Montmorency River where it drops over a cliff and enters the Saint Lawrence River opposite Orleans Island. The falls were named for Henri Montmorency, who served as viceroy (governor) of New France from 1620 until 1625.
There are staircases that allow visitors to view the falls from several different vantage points. A suspension bridge over the crest of falls provides access to both sides as well as a spectacular view. There is also an aerial tram that carries passengers between the base and the top of the falls. Each summer an international fireworks competition is held here with the falls as a backdrop.  In the winter, mist from the falls freezes creating spectacular piles of ice that
a few adventurous people scale for sport.
Orleans Island, located between two channels of the Saint Lawrence River east of the city was the site of the first settlements.  The island retained its traditional rural way of life until 1935, when construction was completed on the two lane bridge connecting it to the mainland. In spite of this, the island has maintained its pastoral image and historic character, with more than 600 buildings classified or recognized as heritage properties. In 1970, the entire island was designated a National Historic District. Today the island is a mix of year-round and vacation homes and farms. It is a popular destination for day trippers and bicyclists.
Orleans Island, known as the "Garden of Quebec", is still an essentially rural place famous locally for its produce, especially strawberries, apples, potatoes and wine. Sugar maple outlets offer maple syrup and other sweet products.
We visited the Bilodeau Apple Orchard and enjoy its delicious sparking “ice cider” made from apples frozen before they are picked.  The island attracts more than 600,000 visitors each year to its numerous bed-and-breakfast inns, regional cuisine restaurants, roadside fruit stands, art galleries and craft shops.
For further information on Quebec City view

James Weaver
GolfWiz Blog
Senior Travel Editor 

A Spring Getaway In The City of Brotherly Love

Although I lived in Philadelphia for more than half my life, I moved away a few years ago to a retirement community.  Fortunately, I’m still close enough that several times a year my wife Barbara and I get back to visit.  Coming back to the city now as a “tourist” has become
a delightful experience.
On a recent trip, we visited the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (America’s first art school founded in 1805) for the opening of a spectacular new exhibit “Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit” which runs here through April 15th before traveling to Cincinnati and Houston.
Tanner was a Pennsylvania Academy graduate
(1865) and the first African American to receive international acclaim as an artist.  However, because of racial bigotry in America he was forced to move to Paris to pursue his career abroad.
The exhibit features over 100 Tanner works, some of which have never been shown in the United States.  One of my favorite paintings
is “The Banjo Lesson” (1896) which depicts an old black man teaching his grandson to play the banjo. From the Hampton University Art Museum collection, it is one of the first painting
by any artist to show African Americans in other than a serving role. 
Outside the Academy on the new Lenfest Plaza
there is a fascinating new sculpture by American artist Claes Oldenburg.  The 18 foot tall “Paint Torch” with orange paint blob at its base depicts
a giant upright paintbrush which become a lighted torch at night.  Oldenburg’s famous “Clothespin” sculpture is located near Philadelphia City Hall. 
At the Philadelphia Museum of Art currently is an exhibit featuring of works Vincent Van Gogh.
Titled “Van Gogh: Up Close” it will run
through May 5th. 
Nearby on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway the new Barnes Museum is set to open on May 19th. It will feature the Dr. Albert C. Barnes Collection including masterworks of the world’s great Impressionist and Postimpressionist artists.
After a delicious lunch at the Pennsylvania Academy’s cafe (in the school’s architectural treasure, the Frank Furness Building), we went shopping at the old John Wannamaker’s. Although its now a Macy’s, it stills retains much of the charm of years gone by when it was the city’s leading department store.  The large bronze sculpture of the eagle is still located at the center of the first floor grand court.  “Meet me at the Eagle” was once a phrase every Philadelphian knew.
Looking upwards from there you encounter the world’s largest (confirmed on the web) pipe organ. The Wannamaker Organ is still played twice a day, Monday through Saturday, more often at the Christmas season, and for special concerts.  Christmas brings an amazing light show in the space in front of the organ pipes.   Go to YouTube online and search Philadelphia Opera Company’s “Hallelujah” Random Act of Culture (held in the Wannamaker Grand Court). 
Several decades ago I attended a national convention held at the Warwick Hotel
(now the Raddison Warwick) just off Philadelphia’s upscale Rittenhouse Square.
It was a pleasure to return here and to see how its been improved without losing its beauty and charm.  Because it is a historic property, muchhas remained as I recalled it, but much is also new and most attractive.  It was wonderful to have valet parking at the front entrance and a fabulous breakfast at Tavern 17 (for 17th Street).  I loved the Egyptian cotton sheets and 42 inch HD/TV and the service was both timely and courteous.  Learn more online at
After a delicious dinner at a nearby restaurant (there are about 60 restaurants within easy walking distance of the Warwick), we caught a cab to the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall for a concert by the highly esteemed Philadelphia Orchestra.  Artistic Director Designate Yannak
Nezet-Seguin conducted a program of Bach’s Brandenberg Concerto #5 and Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.  It was a thrilling performance in all respects by one of the world’s leading orchestras. 
I can hardly wait for Spring and the Philadelphia Flower Show, the Philadelphia Antiques Show, and the opening of the new Barnes Museum.  To learn more about this great city and upcoming events view and  

James Weaver
GolfWiz Blog 
Senior Travel Editor 

Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush Golf Club Is Site of 2012 Irish Open

The 2012 Irish Open Championship will take place at Royal Portrush Golf Club June 28 to July 1.  Northern Ireland's most famous club, 
Royal Portrush is home to two links courses. Dunluce Links is widely hailed as one of the best layouts in the world. In 1951, the golf course became famous for being the only course outside of Great Britain to host the British Open Championship. It is named after the nearby 13th century Dunluce Castle that is perched above the course overlooking the pounding waves of the Atlantic. The golf course has challenging rough areas and tricky greens that will test even the best golfers.  
The Valley Links golf course is slightly shorter than the more famous Dunluce, making it a bit less demanding but it is a challenge no less. Valley lies between the East Strand, a popular beach for surfing, and Dunluce. The aptly named golf course plays through huge sandy hills that are situated along the Atlantic.
Many top golfers have portrayed Royal Portrush Golf Club as one of the most challenging golf courses in the world. It is a testing course, requiring skill and concentration, but set in one of the most scenic parts of Europe.
In 2002, Royal Portrush was voted 14th in "The World's Top 100 Golf Courses" by US Golf Magazine. The survey is compiled by an international panel of 100 golfers, journalists, architects and industry figures looking at each courses' strategic integrity, how well a course tests the full range of golf skills and its rhythm of design, location, ambiance, conditioning, tradition and visual appeal.
As befits a golf course of such quality, Royal Portrush Golf Club has hosted many major events over the years. The Irish Amateur Championships were inaugurated here in 1892, while the first professional event on Irish soil was also hosted at Portrush in 1895. In the same year the first Ladies Championships were held. From the exclusive group of clubs so honored, only one has been located outside Scotland or England, when Royal Portrush Golf Club hosted the British Open Championship.
For more information on the Irish Open, see

Jim Weaver
GolfWiz Blog 
Senior Travel Editor 

Hershey Golf at it's best

Hershey, Pennsylvania, is home to HERCO, the Hershey Chocolate Company, known world over for its choclate candy products.  It’s also known for its outstanding golf courses.  Milton S. Hershey, founder of the company and of the community of Hershey.  He envisioned a chocolate enterprise whose profits would enrich the community, providing a finer and fuller life to the people connected with it.
“In 1930, he founded Hershey Country Club, giving up the first floor in his High Point Mansion to serve as the Clubhouse. Since then, sporting excellence has been the key, attracting legendary golf heroes and players of all levels.”
“Known for impeccably maintained greens and the natural beauty of its rolling fairways, with rich history on every hole, Hershey remains a golf favorite for players, as well as those who prefer the sidelines. Host to prestigious national events, including the 1940 PGA Championship and the LPGA Tour’s Lady Keystone  In its 82-year history, Hershey Country Club has attracted the game’s top players including Ben Hogan, Henry Picard, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Jim Furyk, and Nancy Lopez.”
“In a legendary setting, which golf icons Ben Hogan and Henry Picard once called home, the tradition and challenge of championship golf remains at the heart of the Hershey Resorts golf experience. Four unique and distinctive courses combine to form the Hershey Golf Collection, offering top-notch service and amenities to guests of Hershey Resorts and the public.”
“Whether guests choose the prestigious East Course or West Course at historic Hershey Country Club or the challenging Hershey Links, each layout is distinctive and rewarding in its own right. This trio is complemented by the family-friendly Spring Creek Golf Course, an exceptionally well-crafted nine-hole course that was designed for kids, but is just plain fun for everyone.”
“The West Course at Hershey Country Club
was designed by Maurice McCarthy in 1930 - a classic example of a traditional American-style layout. It hosted the 1940 PGA Championship, with the legendary Byron Nelson taking home the Wanamaker Trophy.”
“Designer George Fazio captured the natural beauty of Central Pennsylvania's countryside when he designed the East Course at Hershey Country Club, which opened in 1969. It was home to the Reese's Cup Classic from 1997 to 2004.”
“The land now occupied by Hershey Links began as a 175-acre cattle and pig farm.  A links-style course, it opened its front nine officially on August 3, 2003. Since 2005, Hershey Links has been owned by the Hershey Trust Company; it has been managed by Hershey Entertainment & Resorts since November 2007.”
“Spring Creek was the nation's first public golf course created for players under age 18. Scottish golf course architect Maurice McCarthy designed the original nine-hole course for Milton S. Hershey while working on the famed West Course at Hershey Country Club. Originally called the “Juvenile Golf Club,” the course allowed youngsters to golf for a green fee of 35 cents for nine holes when it opened in 1932.”
“In 1969 the name was changed to highlight Spring Creek, the water hazard that repeatedly confronts players. In 2006 Tom Clark oversaw a course renovation that included three new hole designs, restoration of six existing holes, a tee-through-green irrigation system, turf grass replacement throughout the course, and the addition of 220 playing yards.”
To learn more about the golfing opportunitiesat Hershey, Pennsylvania, view

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Here are the GolfWiz Blog predictions for 2012:

  1. Tiger Woods will win the Masters: Tiger finally broke through in 2011 and he will continue his winning ways in 2012. I predict four wins including the 2012 Masters in April.

  2. Lexi Thompson will not only contend on the LPGA Tour this year but she will win: Thompson is a rising star and her stellar play will continue in 2012. Yani Tseng will have a new challenger.

  3. Lee Westwood will finally breakthrough and win a major this year: He has proven he has the game and consistency to play on the big stage and in 2012 he will finally hoist a championship trophy.

  4. The Young Guns of golf will continue to shoot it out this year on the PGA and LPGA Tour: The rising crop of young players on both tours will make some serious noise this year. There is far too much talent out there for them not claim some tour wins in 2012.

  5. U.S. wins the Ryder Cup: With the Ryder Cup being played on U.S. soil and the reemergence of Tiger Woods the U.S. team will pull a stunner and win the 2012 Ryder Cup 16 1/2 to 12 1/2.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Is Tiger Woods Back?

The number one question on the minds of golf fans around the globe in 2012 is: Has Tiger Woods returned to his winning ways? I wish I had the answer to that question but like most golf writers I can only speculate.

Woods broke a 270 day slump by winning the Chevron World Challenge in December in dramatic fashion. Coming down the stretch he birdied the 17th and 18th holes to edge Zach Johnson out by a shot. His win was not only a major win for Woods but it was a shot in the arm for the golf world as a whole. Let's face it golf needs Tiger Woods.

In his absence golf was that also ran sport on television right behind professional bowling and beach volleyball. Rating dropped and there was little or no buzz about golf in general. During Tigers' absence no one really stepped up and grabbed the spotlight. I agree Woods left some huge shoes to fill, but no single player dominated golf in the manner Tiger did in the past. Granted there were some great individual performances in 2011, but nothing to duplicate the accomplishments of Tiger Woods.

I know I sound like a die hard Tiger Woods fan and in many ways I am. However I love the game of golf a lot more than any single player and I feel like Tiger Woods embodies what the game of golf is all about. His tenacity and drive to win in unparalleled in his sport. Woods has set a standard that is so difficult to attain that he may never reach it again himself. In 2011, we saw Woods struggle with his game and his life. the world saw a man who seemed lost on the golf course. It seemed as though Tiger didn't know who Tiger Woods was. But in typical Tiger Woods fashion he kept grinding and found the winniner circle at the end of the year.

What does 2012 have in store for the world former # 1 player? Will he regain his form and dominate the game he once ruled with a iron fist or was his year ending win a mere fluke? Only time will tell. As the 2012 Masters nears all eyes will be on the well- manicure grounds of Augusta National to see if Tiger Woods will win his fifth green jacket and once again become the Tiger we all knew and sometimes loved.