Posted on June 24, 2019 by The Travel Authority
Tea for Two... and While You Are There

BY JANET STEINBERG

 

“It’s hot…it’s sweet ...it’s tea for two.” So claimed the classic 1950’s musical “Tea For Two” made famous by Hollywood icon Doris Day who passed away on May 13 at the age of 97.  Whether it’s tea for two, or just tea for you, a mid-day tea break is a most civilized custom wherever in the world you may be.  Although the time-honored ritual of afternoon tea is quintessentially British, it is now being enjoyed around the world.  As would be expected, freshly brewed tea is the headliner at this ancient afternoon ritual.  However, you will also be indulged with an assortment of scones, sandwiches and sweets…and lest we forget the jam and clotted cream.  An afternoon tea break refreshes and revitalizes the weary traveler and gives just the needed energy to carry on the exhausting task of sightseeing.  It can be an expensive white-gloved, stiff-pinkie production at a fancy hotel, or a gaucho-simple maté tea break at a ranch in Argentina.  

When traveling, consider planning your afternoon tea break around seeing a special sight…WHILE YOU ARE THERE.  

 

 

SCONES, SANDWICHES AND SWEETS…A TYPICAL TEATIME SPREAD

 

LONDON, ENGLAND:  There is nothing as British as afternoon tea. It is said that this sandwich-and-scone combo was invented by a crotchety, and hungry, noblewoman tired of waiting for Queen Victoria at supper.  It then became a social event for the upper classes and eventually trickled down to the working masses on a simpler scale.  If you can’t spare too much time from touring and shopping, you can kill two birds with one stone at Harrods’s the world-renowned Knightsbridge department store that offers a traditional afternoon tea experience in their century-old Tea Room (formerly known as the Georgian Restaurant).  Harrods' contemporary classic venue offers a unique take on a range of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and exquisite seasonally changing fancies.  The Earl Grey Cooler is a tea-inspired cocktail that features No. 42 Earl Grey tea, orange marmalade, vodka and Chambord. 

 

 

SHOP AND SIP: THE CLASSIC BRITISH TEATIME TAKES PLACE DAILY AT HARRODS


WHILE YOU ARE THERE:
 Be sure to check out the London Eye, the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel.  It is located by the River Thames opposite Big Ben.  On a good day you can’t see forever, but you can see approximately 25 miles. When the London Eye opened in March 2000 to celebrate the new millennium, it was supposed to be a temporary attraction. However, because of its popularity, it is there to stay. The Eye consists of 32 capsules, each accommodating up to 28 people.  One full rotation, in what has become the country’s most popular paid attraction, lasts about 30-minutes.

 

 

SEE LONDON FROM THE LONDON EYE  


FUNCHAL, MADEIRA: 
 Funchal, the capital of Portugal’s autonomous region of Madeira is part of the Portuguese archipelago that hugs the North Atlantic Ocean 400 miles west of North Africa.  Reid's Palace Hotel, perched on a cliff-top overlooking Funchal Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, epitomizes the spirit of travel from the heyday of luxury, style and adventure. This elegant hideaway, opened in 1891, has honed the art of pampering and perfected the art of indulgence. Afternoon tea is a timeless affair at Reid’s Palace.  Choose from delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and homemade pastries, all accompanied by your choice from a selection of 24 teas or an indulgent glass of champagne.

 

 

TEATIME ON THE TERRACE AT REID’S PALACE

 

WHILE YOU ARE THERE: Be sure to check out the not-to be-missed wicker toboggans atop Monte. The Monte toboggan is a wicker basket assembled on an iron frame with wooden runners.   It carries two people and is controlled by ropes and manpower that races its passengers down winding, narrow streets at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.   This 19th-century style of transportation from Monte to Funchal is quite a contrast to the 21st-century cable car that zips you from Funchal up to Monte.

 

 

A RIDE YOU'LL NEVER FORGET

 

PUERTO MADRYN, ARGENTINA: If you’re cruising South America, or headed to Patagonia, you’re most likely to make a stop in Puerto Madryn, the access point for Patagonia.  As you head to Estancia San Guillermo for a typical Argentine tea ceremony, you’ll pass through Punta Loma, where, from a rocky cliff top location, you should be able to view a colony of sea wolves below.  As you approach the doorway of the estancia (the Argentine word for ranch) you’ll be greeted by sheep and domesticated guanacos (South American animals that look like, and are related to, lamas and alpacas). The typical, highly caffeinated Argentine tea is called maté (pronounced ma-tay). It is usually enjoyed with friends and served in a hollow gourd with a special metallic drinking straw called a bombilla.  However, in Argentine tea culture it is considered poor etiquette to stir the tea with the straw. It is also considered poor manners to wipe the bombilla when sharing maté.  Drinking the semi-bitter, grassy, smoky maté has been described as “slurping hot water through dried leaves.” 

 

 

NO BONE CHINA HERE! TEA IS POURED FROM A TIN TEAPOT INTO A HOLLOW GOURD

 

WHILE YOU ARE THERE: Be sure to check out a sheep-shearing demonstration at the ranch where traditional shearing techniques are demonstrated for guests.  While most estancias of the Pampas are famous for raising cattle, San Guillermo specializes in raising sheep.

 

 

TAKING OFF THAT WINTER COAT

 

SEA TIME IS TEA TIME: Daily afternoon tea, a flashback to the days of the great ocean liners, is a ritual on many cruise ships.  White-gloved waiters pass buttery scones, berry tarts, petit fours, watercress sandwiches, and a selection of teas as you glide from port  to port.  Elaborate presentations include themed teatimes such as the Mozart Tea where the staff is dressed in period costumes and a string quartet plays Mozart throughout the event; the English Colonial Tea where waiters are decked out in white ties and tails;  and the Chocoholic Tea-At-Sea where everything on the buffet contains chocolate.   And, as if that isn’t enough, every nautical teatime is topped off with a spectacular ocean view.

 

 

TEA AT SEA: A CHOCOHOLIC’S DREAM 

 

WHILE YOU ARE THERE: Be sure to check out the most unusual shore excursion that you can experience from your cruise ship.  My favorite was when the ship anchored in the ocean, tendered its passengers to a nearby island and then had its crew set up the quintessential wet-bar just off shore.  Delighted passengers waded out in the ocean to the bar where they were treated to caviar and champagne served by a fun-loving crew.

 

 

CHAMPAGNE AND CAVIAR...OCEAN-STYLE 

 

HAMILTON, BERMUDA: The Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Bermuda's oldest hotel (1885), was named in honor of Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria, who is credited with putting Bermuda on the map as a tourist destination.  This palatial “Pink Palace”, the reigning Grande Dame of Bermuda hotels, has been the hotel of choice for discriminating guests including Mark Twain, Ian Fleming, and Prince Charles.  Bermuda’s first waterfront hotel, the Hamilton Princess personifies what Bermuda is all about…courtesy, quality, and hospitality.  Afternoon tea at Crown & Anchor continues the tradition that incorporates old English charm with the tropical setting of the island paradise of Bermuda. From the British silver tea sets and Belgian fine china to the Italian fine woven linen, this elegant teatime has been called one of the best afternoon teas in the world.  A most civilized custom on a most civilized island. 

 

 

A PRETTY PRINCESS SERVES TRADITIONAL AFTERNOON TEA DAILY

 

WHILE YOU ARE THERE: Be sure to check out the smallest working drawbridge in the world. The Somerset Bridge, measuring a mere 32 inches wide, was originally built in 1620 and was cranked open by hand in those days.  It connects Somerset Island with Sandys Parish on the Bermuda mainland. Today, two cantilevered half-spans are separated by an 18-inch gap and bridged by a thick timber panel that must be removed whenever a yacht wishes to pass beneath the bridge.  This allows the mast of the yacht to pass through the gap

 

 

SMALLEST WORKING DRAWBRIDGE IN THE WORLD 

 

MACKINAC ISLAND, MICHIGAN: The Grand Hotel, a circa 1887 island jewel set on a bluff above the historic Strait of Mackinaw, might well be the most enchanting destination in Michigan.  This stately grande dame, its covered porch bedecked with 43 white Grecian columns, 88 white rocking chairs and 180 geranium-filled flower boxes, is a pristine reminder of the elegance and glory of a bygone era.  It will transport you back somewhere in time, which happens to be the name of a Christopher Reeve movie that was filmed there.  Afternoon Tea at The Grand Hotel, a timeless tradition for more than 100 years, takes place each day in the hotel’s Parlor.  In the 1840’s Afternoon Tea became popular as an activity to break up the day and provide a snack between lunch and dinner Today at the Grand Hotel guests still partake in this tradition between 3:30 and 5:00 p.m. They enjoy tea, sherry, champagne, petite finger sandwiches, fresh-baked scones and an array of pastries, accompanied by a music  recital performed by some of the hotel’s full-time staff of musicians.

 

 

TEATIME AT THE GRAND HOTEL: TRADITION, TRADITION, TRADITION!


WHILE YOU ARE THERE: Be sure to check out Fort Mackinac, the fortress that provides an exciting view of British life during the 1700’s. Also check out the Missionary Bark Chapel that sits below the Fort.  The Chapel is a recreation of the first birch bark chapel built by Father Charles Dablon in the 1600’s.

 

 

 THE MISSIONARY BIRCH BARK CHAPEL 

 

Janet Steinberg, winner of 47-travel writing awards, resides in Cincinnati but calls the world her home.

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