I’d been enjoying lots of cuisine choices since I’d arrived in Scottsdale Old Town but I had been really looking forward to this next place since my last trip: Hula Modern Tiki Lounge! Located in the heart of the tourist area, Hula kinda sticks out from the usual cowboy-themed diners and resto-lounges. I love my tiki bars – I’ve enjoyed many around the world, my fave being the now-deceased (!) Trader Vic’s in Waikiki. In Toronto we have the fabulous Shameful Tiki but ever since I found it on the ‘net last year, I’ve wanted to visit the Hula Tiki Lounge and I was not disappointed…I felt like a real old fart as it was only around 5:30pm – too early for a real dinner – but this golden girl decided on an early-bird special. As it was “happy hour”, I chose a few appetizers plus my fave tropical bevvie, a Painkiller, which the bartender kindly served in a mermaid tumbler. Wow!I topped off the meal with a slice of tropical coconut cream pie (more like a cheesecake) and Kona coffee. Yummm – I definitely recommend you drop in and indulge when you visit Old Town: www.hulasmoderntiki.com
I then went for a stroll around town afterwards – needed to walk off the calories, LOL – and viewed the Christmas lights.The next day, I opted for a fab American full-on breakfast and dropped in to the Denny’s a block from the hotel. OMG, it was deelish – I ordered the Lumberjack special and yes, I cleaned the plates.Had to go back to my room for a nap to sleep off all the carbs, but it didn’t take long to get my ass in gear and head to the second touristy area of Old Town where I’d previously visited with AJ and enjoyed the “galloping horsey fountain”.A team of “groomers” were busy cleaning the fountain and decorating the stunning equine sculptures for Christmas. I made sure to drop in to Berdena’s Cafe across the road for a fresh squeezed orange juice. AJ and I had a pleasant time there in April and I loved the fresh, bright decor and friendly servers. www.berdenas.comThe cafe is located in a small plaza and as I walked through, I spied a storefront that had been turned into a “campaign HQ” for the “Save Old Town Scottsdale” movement. So what’s this all about?Apparently a local developer (with tons of $$s) wants to tear down a huge section of this quaint tourist destination and turn it into a wall of hi-rise condos and chi-chi boutiques and has subsequently driven up the rents on the mom and pop retail stores. Yes, there are quite a few of the traditional souvenir shops but there are so many classy boutiques and jewelry designer stores there, already along with beautiful cafes and galleries. If this development goes ahead, they might very well all be wiped out. I was crestfallen – Old Town is my “spirit home” and I care deeply about the charm and uniqueness of the area. Plus I’ve made lifelong friendships here…I have to get involved, I have to contribute and support somehow….Beverly and Brian Moore of Earthen Rare told me how!Beverly is a very talented designer of leather and hand-crafted bead jewelry and Brian, her husband, works closely with her in creating unique pieces. They are very involved with the campaign and suggested I videotape a plea for petition signatures & support plus my observations on the situation from a tourist’s perspective. So I did – I recorded a “call to action” that has since gone out on social media and I hope it helps. www.standupforoldtownscottsdale.com
But back to Bev and Brian – what a beautiful studio/store they run…the positive energy is palpable and the two of them are the nicest people you could ever want to meet. I spent a great deal of time with them, chatting about the current social and political climate in town as well as browsing the display cases. And yes, I made a couple of purchases there, too, including something very special for my sister back in Australia who, I know, will love the artwork and superb quality. Check out Earthen Rare’s beautiful treasures (below)So another full day of sight-seeing, local engagement and making new friends was done…whew! I was exhausted. Another big day tomorrow so let’s call the hotel van for a pick up and home for some R&R on my sunset balcony.
Sunday Dec. 15th dawned sunny, as usual, and I was excited to see my friend AJ (below) and his husband Tom who were meeting me for brunch at the famous Valley Ho hotel. Poor pneumonia-plagued AJ had mustered enough energy for a couple of hours of catching up, enjoying a great meal and showing me his and Tom’s fave hotel in Old Town.We saw a gingerbread version of the famous mid-century modern hotel (above) on the way into Zuzu’s cafe for our brunch. Isn’t it cute? After our deelish meal, the guys showed me around the property, much of which has been preserved in its original form, complete with colourful wall tiles on each balcony, sexy lounges and outdoor courtyards….After being dropped off by AJ & Tom, the remainder of the afternoon was spent out on my balcony, enjoying the sunshine and watching the palm trees “dance the hula” in the high desert wind.
Next day, I decided on what genuine touristy experiences remained for me to explore so off I went for my morning latte at Barista Brothers to plan the next few days before returning to cold grey Toronto.I just walked around and watched for interesting photo opps, like this one of the colourful buildings surrounding the Civic Centre:And checked out the artful sidewalks near my hotel (below)…such civic pride makes me wish that Toronto took as much care with their public spaces.Just a few more days remaining on my holiday – I wonder what adventures remain?
The second day in Scottsdale dawned sunny and with clear blue skies…as usual! Based on the recommendation of friend AJ, I headed out to Merci, a cute little French bistro located in an unassuming plaza about 10 minutes from my hotel. Off I went in the courtesy van….…and walked into the cute tiny boite where I enjoyed THE best Quiche Loraine and refreshing salad. https://mercifrenchcafeandpatisserie.com/Did a little shopping for family & friends then returned to the hotel for a swim in the heated pool and some sunbathing…had the perfect balcony for catching rays…and I stayed out there until the sun started going down. What a wonderful relaxing afternoon.Day 3 started off brightly (again!) so I headed downtown Old Town and landed smack in the middle of tourist heaven – in front of famed Bischoff’s gallery & store where even their grounds contain stunning sculptures. I spent a great deal of time there on my last visit…I love their lemon tree out front and surprisingly, nobody steals any fruit so here it is, laden with lemons, surrounded by sculptures and cacti. www.bischoffsgallery.comI hadn’t previously explored all the parkland behind so imagine my surprise when I discovered the Scottsdale Civic Centre located there along with several chi-chi restaurants, a performing arts theatre, the contemporary art gallery and so many fountains…
The famous LOVE sculpture is also located there…After hiking around the grounds for over an hour, it was time to head back to the hotel so I could get ready for dinner, so I enjoyed another hour of sunbathing on the balcony and as the evening drew close, I was thrilled to see these amazing clouds that went from soft fluffy white cotton balls to gold. Dinner was amazing – I went back to Merci French Cafe to try their Beef Bourguignon and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve never tasted anything so good. Mmmmmm. Tomorrow, Sunday, I’ll be enjoying brunch with friends AJ and Tom. AJ’s pneumonia was finally on the mend so he is making the heroic effort to get dressed up and come downtown where we’ll celebrate an early Christmas.
Although he was suffering a little jet-lag, French artist VIKKA came straight from the airport and walked through the doors of Urban Gallery last night to see his latest art project hanging on the walls…and it all looked great!The multi-disciplinary self-taught artist is showcasing his pop-art paintings, sculptures and photography in his first ever Canadian month-long solo show titled “In Memory of Witold and Max” – a visual tribute to his beloved grandfathers, both of whom were talented artists, too. He was joined by his sister, Bénédicte, who also assisted with translations, when necessary.
His colourful, surreal street art style canvases attracted a lot of attention last night and visitors marveled at the details and intricacies of each painting – you can stand there for half an hour and still discover new little embedded characters and features! There are a trio of paintings dedicated to 3 of his art heroes, Warhol, Basquiat (pictured above) and Haring; here the artists talks about these pieces, mostly in French but his passion transcends language!
Gallery Director Calvin Hambrook (below L) and Curator Allen Shugar (below R) were thrilled with the artwork which was shipped direct from France and only arrived earlier this week.In Memory of Witold & Max runs in Toronto now until December 28th – for directions and gallery hours, visit: www.UrbanGallery.ca and to learn more about Vikka’s work, follow him on IG @vikkaartist