Rob Dolin's Blog

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Recommendations for Walla Walla, WA

This summer, we did a road-trip from Seattle to Walla Walla and had a great time dining and wine tasting.  Below are some of my recommendations:

  • Breakfast / Brunch
    • Bacon and Eggs – This converted convenience store serves a serious breakfast focusing on its namesakes.  They also have great breakfast cocktails.
    • Maple Counter Café – Third generation restaurateurs serve a variety of pancakes and usual breakfast fare.  You’ll notice there are no lunch recommendations as after eating breakfast here, we were good until dinner.
  • Dinner
    • Whoop Dem Up Hollow Café – A 20-30 minute drive away in Waithsburg, WA this was an excellent choice for very reasonably priced “southern comfort food” and great service.
  • Wine
    • Airport – Walla Walla has what felt like a winery incubator in old hangers and barracks near their airport.  Wineries are close together (a short drive or a long walk) and often staffed by the proprietor.  Syzygy was one of my favorites.
    • Downtown – Downtown Walla Walla is packed with tasting rooms.  Of a half-dozen that we visited on a Saturday afternoon, all were good.  Charles Smith‘s modern rock vibe and fruit-forward reds are great.
  • Where to Stay
    • Marcus Whitman Hotel – A great location in the heart of Walla Walla.  Ask for a room in the “tower” section of the hotel (as opposed to the recently added Howard Johnson-style section of the hotel.)
  • On the way – It’s a long drive from Seattle to Walla Walla (and back)
    • Taqueria El Rinconsito in Yakima – Of all of the Mexican restaurants I have eaten at in Washington state, this came the closest to my memories of food when traveling in Mexico.
    • Anthony’s in Richland (Tri-Cities) – The Anthony’s in Tri-Cities has great fish, lower prices than its sibling Seattle locations, and a great view of a marina on the Columbia River
    • L’Ecole No. 41 Winery – At the side of the road between Tri-Cities and Walla Walla is the old school building that houses L’Ecole.  In the last few years, they have re-branded from their colorful labels with a crayon drawing of the school house and have built larger production facilities behind the school house, but the wine is still very good.
  • Skip It – Places I do NOT recommend
    • Whitehouse – Crawford Restaurant – This downtown restaurant had good food (but small portions), was over-priced, and service was terrible.

Filed under: Travel

Recommendations for Lake Chelan, WA

My spouse’s family has been going to Lake Chelan since she was young.  I started going a few years ago and we’ve been going back every summer and many winters.  Below are some of my favorite places to go in the Chelan valley:

  • Breakfast
    • Apple Cup Café – This friendly diner-style restaurant offers a great breakfast.  Some of my favorites are the Swedish pancakes and the HUGE breakfast burrito.  They’re close to town (just up the main street)
    • Blueberry Hills – Above Manson they serve some GREAT waffles as well as large breakfasts like the “cowboy” and of course u-pick-em blueberries from their farm.
  • Lunch / Casual
    • Lakeview Drive-in – For a quick burger or sandwich and a great view
    • Chelan Teriyaki – Ask for the mixed teriyaki and orange sauce
    • Local Myth Pizza – This is where we see the locals going for pizza in the winter when the tourists are gone.  The homemade chicken sausage is great
  • Dinner
  • Wine – The Chelan valley has nearly 20 wineries.  Below are some of my favorites:
    • North of Chelan (toward Manson) – Benson Vineyards, Wapato Point Cellars, Tildio
    • South of Chelan (toward Wenatchee) – Nefarious Cellars, Chelan Estate Winery
  • Hiking
    • Chelan River Trail – There’s a nice, easy 3-mile roundtrip hike with views of the Chelan Dam and Chelan River
    • There are also
  • Other activities
    • Boating – Shoreline rentals has multiple locations and will rent speed boats, jet skis, pontoon boats, and more
    • Bowling – There’s a ten-lane bowling alley in Chelan which is great on a rainy day
    • Mini-Golf – There’s outdoor mini golf in the park in downtown Chelan.  If you’re staying at Wapato Point, they also have their own mini golf course
    • Water Slides – Slide Waters waterslide park was a good time when I took a younger sibling.  I was

Filed under: Travel

Camping with the Pontiac Aztek in Leavenworth, WA (with Pics)

This past weekend, H, her siblings, and I headed over the cascades to Leavenworth, WA for a weekend of “camping” and exploring the Bavarian-themed town in the middle of Washington state, USA. 

We stayed at the Leavenworth / Pine Village KOA campground which had nice facilities including a light and water hook-up at our campsite, but felt a bit cramped.   For the six of us, we had three tents include the camping package that came with the Pontiac Aztek:

Below are a few of the collected recommendations from our group:

  • Renaissance Café – Great breakfast menu including smoked salmon scramble and bowl of granola. 
  • Osprey Rafting – We made a reservation for six people and one dog.  While the six people enjoyed the river float (and the subsequent BBQ) it seems like our dog (even with her doggy personal floatation device) was not too keen on river floating.
  • Kestrel Tasting Room – The Leavenworth tasting room of Kestrel vintners was a cozy and comfortable break mid-day.  H liked their wine so much, we enjoyed a bottle of their red with dinner that night.
  • Front Street Park – H’s older brother, the dog, and I took a break in the park in the center of town to just sit in the shade and relax.  They had a live band initially and then switched to recorded music.  The benches were comfortable and a nice place to relax while still feeling close to all of the happenings.
  • Leavenworth Sausage Garten by Cured – We took an afternoon snack here.  They had a great variety of sausages; though disappointingly no chicken; a nice selection of beers, and an incredible selection of maybe 16 mustards. 
  • Ducks and Drakes – Huge meals overwhelmed us at this restaurant-lounge-garden.  It was great to be able to sit outside with our dog in the downstairs patio / garden.  The food had great range from a NY steak to chicken parm. to fried brie to pizza. 
  • Café Verona – Large portions awaited at this downtown Leavenworth café where four eggs is the default size for their omelets and scrambles. 

And one warning to fellow Leavenworth, WA tourists:

  • The Danish Bakery – Around 9am when the pretzels came out of the oven, they looked great.  Unfortunately, around 3pm when we came back to get one (or actually four) they were pretty dry. 

Happy travels–


Filed under: Travel

Recommendations for Fortaleza, Brazil

As some of you know, my spouse spent a year in high school in Brazil.  The nephew of one of her hosts was getting married and we were invited to the wedding so we decided to fly-down and attend.  (This was in September 2010, but I’m hoping to get caught-up on a few blog posts this weekend.)

We flew into Sao Paulo and spent a few days exploring.  We stayed at the L’Hotel Porto Bay which I recommend both for its comforts and its location just off one of the largest commercial (business) Avenues in Brazil and a short walk to Oscar Freire Street where there are beautiful boutiques (outside of our price range.)  We did stop at an ice cream shop though.  😉

Brazil is geographically larger than the contiguous 48 U.S. states.  Sao Paulo is in the south and the wedding was to take place in Fortaleza in the north so we took a flight on one of the domestic airlines to Fortaleza.  Below are some specific recommendations for Fortaleza:

  • Walk down the beach in the evening – The 2-3 mile downtown beachfront in Fortaleza seems to come to life as the sun starts to fade.  At one end are some impressive beach volleyball and soccer players and in the middle is an open-air market.  It seems to capture both the calmness of the water on one side and the energy of the city on the other.
  • Eat at a Churrascaria – Obviously the all you can eat beef is great if you’re a meat lover, but the buffet of other items that Brazilians include will enhance your culinary experience whether your primary focus is beef or if you’re a vegetarian.
  • Go to the Central Market – This multi-story building has tons of interesting food, clothing, and other goods for sale.  The building is also very interesting as it seems to be designed for browsing with softly sloping bridges up through an open center atrium.
  • Take-in the view – Fortaleza’s downtown area is filled with relatively  tall (~10-25 story), skinny buildings.  Our hotel had one glass elevator and you could see the public beach in downtown Fortaleza.
  • Relax at the beach – There are a few beaches close to the city (but not the main beach) that are very nice.  We spent an afternoon at Croco Beach which was somewhat crowded but offered rentals of umbrellas, large bean bags, and the like to make relaxing even more comfortable.  The beaches close to the city will have many vendors walking the beach and offering their wares including fresh fruit, coconuts, sunglasses, and more.  If you want a more calm experience, you may need to go to a beach outside the city (as we did for one day.)  This can be especially beautiful and places tourists are referred often have the same amenities of the close beaches like lockers, a restaurant/bar, and more; but without the crowds or vendors.
  • Watch someone make lace – There are artisans who make lace (for table runners, table cloths, etc.) by hand.  The have a bunch of thin threads each tied to small sticks with a ball on the end and then quickly weave a pattern using pins in a circular cushion to hold the in-progress pattern.  My Portuguese-speaking spouse says that this art is fading away so you may need to ask around to meet people who do this.
  • Go to the market at the old Jail – My spouse liked this market the best.  I was especially impressed with an artisan who made designs from delicately pouring different colored sand into a glass.

While we enjoyed Sao Paulo and Fortaleza, our original purpose was to celebrate the wedding of Paulo Henrique to Camila.  The ceremony was held in a beautiful, circular, modern church and the reception afterwards was as if it was out of a fairy tale.  Brazilians really celebrate at their weddings.  In addition to full dinner and dessert, there were three small courses of snacks planned to sustain revelers through the evening and into the morning.  Hillary and I left after the second snack course (chicken soup) around 3 am.

Filed under: Travel

Archived Posts from Rob Dolin’s space

If you’re interested reading some of my blog posts from 2006-2010, you can find them on  Specific categories that might be of interest include:

Filed under: Blogging, Food and Drink, Humor, Microsoft, News and Politics, Online Communities, Personal, Social Networking, Step-by-step, Technology, Travel, Windows Live

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