Tag Archives: Old Town Scottsdale

20191216_174952

ADVENTURES IN SCOTTSDALE – Pt. IV

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…20191216_163627 20191216_163711I 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!20191216_163248 20191216_164019 20191216_170728I 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.20191216_174855 20191216_174746The 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.20191217_094026Had 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”.20191217_122013 20191218_121010A 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.com20191217_120025The 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?20191217_120930 20191218_120903Apparently 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!20191217_125604Beverly 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)20191218_121648 20191218_121656 20191218_12184320191218_121746So 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.20191218_173347

 

 

20191216_135553

ADVENTURES IN SCOTTSDALE – Pt.III

 

 

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.20191215_132650 20191215_132736 20191215_132708We 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….20191215_133514(0) 20191215_133255 20191215_132831 20191215_13305420191215_133607After 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.20191217_11211320191216_135603bac12bdaf26e0111784ffb89e3c2967bI just walked around and watched for interesting photo opps, like this one of the colourful buildings surrounding the Civic Centre:20191218_125015And 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.20191218_084500Just a few more days remaining on my holiday – I wonder what adventures remain?

20191216_135553

ADVENTURES IN SCOTTSDALE OLD TOWN – Pt. II

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….20191213_092841…and walked into the cute tiny boite where I enjoyed THE best Quiche Loraine and refreshing salad. www.mercifrenchcafe.com20191213_095146 20191213_100019Did 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.20191213_143347 20191213_162438Day 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…20191214_103501 20191214_103337 20191214_103430I 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.com20191214_103717I 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…20191214_104504 20191214_104954

The famous LOVE sculpture is also located there…20191214_105820After 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. 20191214_161513 20191214_172133Dinner 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. 20191214_181436Tomorrow, 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.

20191216_135553

Adventures in Scottsdale Old Town – Pt.I

Having had such a wonderful time there last spring, I decided to again visit the friendly Old Town Scottsdale as a Christmas/birthday gift to myself – and it was the bestest gift ever! Last time I stayed with my old Aussie mate, AJ, with whom I worked at a Toronto TV station back in 1999; this time I booked myself into the Holiday Inn Express Suites (pictured below) located close to all the tourist action and very affordable for an 8-day stay.20191218_113254 20191218_113219I took a late night flight out of Toronto and arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport around midnight and after a 15 minute cab ride, checked in and slept until dawn, and this is what I saw when I pulled the drapes back in the morning…..sunshine,palm trees and the pool!!20191213_162438After a quick breakfast, my Day One adventures commenced…the hotel offers a courtesy van that takes you to and from whatever destination you request within a 3 mile radius and my first trip was straight into the touristy hub where I dropped in to say hello to Diana at the Scottsdale Jewels store where I previously purchased some great bling…I wonder if she would remember me?20191212_110646You betcha she remembered! What joy to be welcomed back with a big hug. Diana showed me lots of new fine pieces, native American handcrafted silver and gems and yes, I did quite a bit of shopping there including rings, earrings and even some mini Kachina dolls (currently sitting on my kitchen island bar, waiting to be located somewhere special along with some Navajo “fetishes” I picked up at the Gilbert Ortega Gallery).20191221_175325There’s so much to see, try on and buy at Scottsdale Jewels and Diana is always happy to give shoppers a tour of the turquoise, silver, coral, spiny oyster and even introduce you to the bears!20191212_110609 20191212_11115220191212_11061820191212_110604 20191212_111200Check out their website: www.scottsdalejewels.com and if you visit, tell Diana (and the bears) I said hi!

Next, it was down a couple of doors to the wonderful Mexican Imports souvenir store…so much fun & soooo much to see. Picked up a few souvenirs and the lovely ladies there remembered me from my previous visit. They have very affordable trinkets and nic-nacs. You can see more on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MexicanImports20191212_134155

Time for a sit down and a latte and I was thrilled to discover Barista Brothers, a modest little cafe & gelato shop run by fellow Aussie, Chase. When Aussies connect, it’s time for a real chin-wag (chat) about back home, what we miss food-wise, etc. and he was kind enough to let me sit and upload pics & posts to my social media…thanks, mate.20191212_140039More wandering around, checking out all the touristy stuff, before finding somewhere for a late lunch…20191212_142607 20191212_143223 20191212_142632…and lunch was fabulous at the kitschy but deelish Sugar Bowl diner- a legend for frugal foodies!20191212_144603 20191212_144834I had the turkey dinner special with all the fixin’s, thanks to recommendations from fellow tourists I met outside. Looked like something out of Happy Days…all pink vinyl banquettes and kitchen chairs – I definitely recommend a visit. www.sugarbowlscottsdale.com/

Once my hunger was sated, it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for “Art Walk” in the evening – every Thursday during the cooler months, the gallery district hosts open galleries and artist studios, welcoming art lovers  with wine & cheese soirees, live music on the street and all sorts of “meet the artist” events. Oh my, there must be at least 50 indie galleries in a 3 or 4 block area, all offering contemporary and native American paintings, sculptures and stunning hand-crafted jewellery and silver work. So much to see and photograph, although the dark night and modest illuminations made it difficult to really capture the colour and energy of the event…but here goes:
20191212_193751 20191212_194757 20191212_201652I started at the Wilde Meyer gallery (below) where I had already purchased a miniature I saw online a couple of months back (see last pic in this series) – they have lots of beautiful works on display so join me on a photographic tour of their gallery:20191212_19221920191212_19234220191212_19231220191212_19251320191212_19270320191212_19253420191212_19245620191212_193248Thanks, Laura, for greeting me and wrapping up my darling little saguaro cactus painting for a safe trip home.  www.wildemeyer.com

I also loved visiting the R.C. Gorman gallery featuring the work of the late artist of the same name. And I fell hard for the local Navajo fine jewellery – I just had to buy a beautiful ring that kept calling my name! www.rcgormannavajogallery.com20191215_13503120191215_13495620191215_13501520191218_150712I must have spent nearly 3 hours wandering the streets that night, stopping to enjoy the music from artists such as Mike Randall pictured below doing his best Buddy Holly, along with his lovely lady in the most beautiful red & white poodle skirt.  www.comebackbuddy.com
20191212_190645 20191212_194518 20191212_193903Thanks to all the gallery owners & curators, artists and entertainers – I had a blast meeting you and dropping a few $s into the local economy, too!  Back to the hotel for a well-earned rest, all set for the next day’s adventures….