Do Not Fear Travel to Africa – A Talk by Ebola Survivor Dr. Rick Sacra

This past Friday evening, I was privileged enough to attend a local talk given by ebola survivor Dr. Rick Sacra. He was the third American doctor that contracted the ebola virus while working in a West African country. Dr. Sacra spoke highly of the ELWA Hospital that he oversees, in Liberia’s capital city Monrovia. The hospital was originally built in the year 1951 by missionaries. They have an Ebola specialist onsite, as well as a 50 bed facility for patients. It is the facility in Liberia for patients being transported for critical care, due to the ebola virus.

He spoke of the vast spread of the disease due to the uninformed general public, the remote and difficult terrain to reach villagers in Liberia, and the initial response of medical staff to treat any patient that walked in the door. The hospital medical staff now uses protective gear, regardless of the medical procedure, even during the delivery of a baby. Other staff members assist them with their protective gear removal and subsequent disinfecting with bleach.



The doctor also talked about misconceptions and irrational fears that some of the general public still harbor to this day. He stressed the fact that the illness can only be spread by bodily fluids such as blood or saliva and direct contact with eyes, mouth, or broken skin. Another fact that he mentioned is that none of the relatives became ill, after the infected Americans arrived back in the USA. Even being in close proximity to an infected person, will not spread the disease, as long as no bodily fluids are exchanged.

I shook hands with Dr. Sacra myself, and confidently understand that it is perfectly safe to do so with a person who has recovered from the ebola virus!

His talk culminated with an encouraging amount of new information! Several medications and a couple of vaccines will be transported to Africa soon. They hope to be a positive step towards the fight of Ebola.
The general population in Liberia is being reached by ELWA’s radio station which is broadcasting a program by ebola survivors. The survivors respond to questions and share information about the virus, its causes, and how to go about their daily life in order to avoid it. More and more people in western African have been informed to not touch the body of anyone who has succumbed to the disease. This information is helping to halt the progression of ebola. Debbie Sacra, Dr. Sacra’s wife also spoke highly of the hospital and of their beloved Liberia.

A question and answer session with Dr. Sacra followed his talk. I specifically asked him questions pertaining to travel and the mass hysteria of the media and the global population, in regards to traveling to Africa at this point in time. His first response was that no one should delay or cancel a trip to an African safari in East Africa due to the ebola crisis in the western African countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. He stated that the distance from Liberia to Kenya is just about as far as the distance from Anchorage, Alaska to Houston, Texas in the United States! In other words, the African continent is huge and one should not worry or fear travel to the eastern part of the continent, due to what is occurring on its western coast! Likewise goes for western African countries, such as Ghana that do not border those three countries. Additionally, Ghana does not currently have an outbreak of the disease.

The distance factor between ebola-stricken countries and the rest of Africa, the fact that many African countries are not in the middle of an outbreak themselves, and the fact that the disease can only be spread by direct contact with bodily fluids(not airborne) should be sufficient proof that travelers should continue to travel and tourists should continue to book tours!

The ELWA hospital in Liberia and its brave and caring physicians are doing amazing work treating ebola patients. They appreciate financial contributions to keep the medical supplies and treatments ongoing. I feel honored to have attended this talk by Dr. Sacra. He alleviated any concerns that I may have had regarding travels to the African continent at this point in time.

Given the health info that was shared, why not plan an amazing vacation to an African country?! Prior to your holiday, you could sample some of the local African foods in your own city! Fortunately for me, there are restaurants offering many international cuisines in my home state of Massachusetts, here in the United States!

I found an East African restaurant in a local city near my home. The restaurant serves food representing the countries of Uganda and Tanzania. I opted for a delicious plate of cornmeal, beans, cassava, plantains, spinach and carrots, and sweet potatoes with a peanut sauce. My beverage of mixed fruit juice was a nice complement to the meal.

For my next African meal, I visited an outdoor African festival in Boston, Massachusetts. My entree included collard greens, spinach in coconut milk, tomato and onion salad, and jollof rice. The rice dish is popular in both East and West African cuisine. What a wonderful meal it was!

Next up was my visit to a local Senegalese restaurant. I selected the nem fried spring rolls filled with veggies, as my appetizer, served with a dipping sauce. For a main course, I chose the traditional mafe veggie stew in a peanut sauce base, with a side of rice. My dinner was superb!


For my final dab into authentic African cuisine, I dined at a Nigerian restaurant in Boston. I chose the fufu with a veggie stew in a peanut sauce base. Fufu is a staple food in West Africa. It is made by boiling a starchy crop and pounding it into a dough-like texture. Fufu is dipped into the stew then eaten. The fufu I ordered was made with pounded yams. The spicy stew was quite flavorful!

I also enjoy a guava juice with my meal.

Given the health and safety information that Dr. Sacra shared at his talk, there is no reason why anyone should avoid traveling to uninfected countries such as Tanzania in East Africa or Ghana in West Africa. The fascinating culture and music, the scenic landscapes, the incredible wildlife, and the amazing African food that I sampled locally, should be incentive enough to want to plan a visit to the African continent!

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“The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” of Travel: Getting ill, Missed Bus Connections, & Other Challenges

An ice cube, a fly, a metal overhead door on the luggage compartment of a tour bus.. What do these things all have in common? They are all sources that can cause illness or injury during your travels! Now don’t get me wrong.. I LOVE travel! I love airports for the excitement mounting in my thoughts while I eagerly await my journey. I love being on the flight and daydreaming about my upcoming adventures. I love BEING in my destination country and experiencing all that the local culture, landscape, food, and peoples have to offer. However, we must face reality too. Nothing is as glamorous as it initially appears. We must accept and yes even expect “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of travel!

Those who are familiar with my writing, know that I always focus on the positive experiences of travel. I am not trying to deter from that focus. This time, I am merely wanting to illustrate that bad things can happen, that you should prepare as best as you can to avoid unfortunate circumstances, and that you can frequently bounce back and enjoy the remainder of your vacation!

The particular countries and attractions to which I will refer, will not be mentioned by name, as to “protect the innocent”. After all, it is usually not the fault of a tour company or the accommodations that these negative circumstances occur. The displayed photos are indeed from my travels. However, the photos that I display with each scenario below, were not taken at that particular destination. Only the last scene depicted in this article, is shown with its actual photos. This is so that we don’t easily recognize or point a finger to any location, to associate it with a particular bad circumstance. Despite the scenarios that I am about to describe, I thoroughly enjoyed my trips abroad!

I will now share the worst travel experiences of my life: the injuries, “Montezuma’s Revenge”, missed bus connections, and so forth.

1. Food Poisoning – My travels to a particular country were hassle-free.. That is, up until my final meal there. The restaurant where my tour group dined was a spacious and clean establishment filled with customers. The meal was good. Nothing out of the ordinary seemed to happen during my visit to that country. I decided to go for some salad at the salad bar. The vegetables appeared to be in decent condition. However, I noticed a few flies swarming above the veggies. I was fine for a couple of hours. When my flight that afternoon took me to a neighboring country, I fell ill shortly after arrival. The hotel staff told me that they would send for an English-speaking doctor. When he arrived, it was obvious that he had not mastered the English language. In fact, he could not speak any English at all. Fortunately, I could speak enough of HIS language to describe my medical symptoms of nausea and so forth. What caused my malady? Could it be the flies carrying disease over the salad bar?

Or could it be an effect of poor air quality on my incoming flight, as the doctor suggested? OR was it the food itself? It most likely was one of these possibilities. He gave me some medicine for my aches and nausea and I was well enough to join my tours on the following day! With quick and proper care, your condition can turn around soon enough for you to enjoy the remainder of your travels!


2. Bad Water & “Montezuma’s Revenge” - Bacteria-ridden water can also cause “Montezuma’s Revenge”, as they say! In many parts of the world, tourists are warned “not to drink the water”. I typically abide by those rules! However, the ice cubes in your beverage can also be a culprit! At one particular destination, I drank some orange juice with my breakfast. Apparently the ice cubes were made with the local water, not from the supermarket. Again, I was fine for a couple of hours. During my train ride to a popular attraction, I threw up. The nausea started to kick in! Upon arrival at the touristic site, I threw up violently at the entrance gate! Fortunately, a doctor’s office was located just meters away. He gave me an exam and an inoculation for a mere $35US, while I reclined to alleviate the sick feeling! He stated that within 15 minutes I would feel well enough to join the tourists. Indeed, he was correct! Within 15 minutes time, I was able to get up and even RUN to catch up with my tour group and enjoy the attraction tour! My meals in several other countries(four total) caused extreme nausea also. In one particular country, my symptoms and pain were to the extent that I didn’t think I would survive! The stomach pain and sensations were excruciating! However, everything turned out just fine! Was it the water in the ice cubes? Was it the meal itself? Either or both are good guesses!


3. Altitude Sickness – Altitude sickness is another common woe that befalls many a traveler. As a well-prepared traveler, I had taken some prescribed medication for this very reason, prior to my trip. This mountainous region took my breath away, both figuratively and literally! In general, I fared much better than most of my fellow tourists. However, it was still quite a feat to even climb one step on the stairwell or to walk across the field. It felt as though my foot was weighted down with lead, as well as my stomach. Every step took what appeared to be an exorbitant amount of energy to accomplish! Regardless of this inertia, I was able to maneuver around comfortably enough to experience and enjoy my daily walking tours!

4. Injury & Concussions – Sometimes to be more budget-friendly, I chose to take overnight buses between my destination cities. You really need to be observant during evening travels. Things can go “bump in the night”..literally! I learned this the hard way! After a fairly length bus ride, we were told that we needed to switch to yet another one. Every time we had an overnight journey, I waited for the bus driver to remove my luggage from the luggage bin. That is, until one fateful night. It was quite late and I was concerned about potentially missing that connecting bus, so I decided to grab my luggage myself from the bin. The luggage compartment was located on the side of the bus under an overhead door. Well.. when I stuck my head in there to grab my luggage, I stood up too swiftly and banged my head on the compartment door above my head. The hard metal surface made me shriek from the impact on my head. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Although it hurt, I ignored it for a few days since pain was common for me at this point: sore shoulders from carrying tote bags, back pain from cramped sitting quarters, and headaches from various noises were all “par with the course”. Four days later, the severe nausea, tight headache, sharp neck and shoulder pain, and dizziness set in. Yes, I needed to get to a doctor pronto! The tour agency asked its English-speaking guide to accompany me to the nearby hospital. I received a cat scan of my brain for free due to their free medical care for all. The exam showed no brain bleeding. Thank goodness! (However, my own local hospital upon arrival back in USA, confirmed that I had a concussion. Physical and emotional rest were prescribed for me). I was able to return to my tours the following day, after getting some much needed rest.

5. Missed Bus Connections – And speaking of buses.. I have had yet another unsettling experience with a bus excursion. Another region..another overnight bus. No injuries this time. Instead, my tour guide was misinformed and in return had misinformed me about my overnight bus. Apparently it was not a direct route. It stopped in some town that was not known to me. Where was I?! Due to its arrival time, I ended up missing my bus connection(since my guide didn’t realize I need a connecting bus that left at a particular time) and thus worried about potentially missing my scheduled tour in the morning. But there were more immediate concerns on my mind. This was an inter-city bus. I was the sole English-speaking rider. Yikes! When I arrived at the final bus stop in this city unbeknownst to me, I tried speaking with the attending bus company representative. His broken English convinced him that I needed assistance, as he glanced upon the incorrect info on my bus ticket. He brought me inside the huge bus depot and found an employee whose brother spoke some English. She put me on the phone with him while he explained to me that his sister will try to get me to a proper connecting bus. After what seemed like an eternity of panicking, she brought me to a bus line that actually still had tickets remaining for the correct destination, leaving during the wee hours of the morning! She called my tour company’s owner and he assured me that he would reimburse me for the new ticket that I had to purchase for this other connecting bus. I proceeded back outside to await the next bus arrival. But to make matters worse, there was some kind of political protest at the bus station, with protesters beating on drums and setting off random loud fireworks between their loud verbal rants. I was scared! What on earth was going on here in the middle of the night?! It turned out to be a celebratory ‘send off’ for a young person entering the armed forces. No cause for concern among tourists! Fortunately, my connecting bus finally arrived to whisk me away to my proper destination! I arrived at my destination just in the nick of time to meet my guide, freshen up, and embark on my scheduled tour! Whew! Crisis averted!

6. Smoke/Fire on Transportation – Yet another holiday tour brought a new and somewhat frightening experience under my belt! My tour group was cruising along the waterway in a small boat, when all of a sudden we smelled smoke! We saw smoke! The engine in the back of the boat started spewing thick gray smoke. Could our small craft be on fire?! We were terrified at the thought! Our quick-thinking and alert captain then shut off the engine and asked for volunteers among the tourists to start “rowing” the boat with oars until hopefully another boat would see us and offer to help.

Dangerous creatures lurking in the waters!! – As if this wasn’t enough, we noticed a group of crocodiles in the not so distant view! One of the crocs started jumping out of the waters, flashing his grin then flexing his jaw wide open! Just what we needed at this point!(NOT!). Fortunately, they did not proceed closer to our small boat! Another boat did indeed appear and pulled us to safety with ropes, to a nearby island. Another crisis avoided! The small island was a tourist base for getting snacks and unwinding before or after their cruising. Our captain had us board a different small boat, with a working motor, which brought us safely back to our starting point.

7. Insect Bites – The final travel emergency I’d like to share is an unusual experience I had during a pleasant dinner by the waterfront. My meal was delicious. The scenery was breathtaking. While I was soaking it all in, I felt an itch then a pain on my right foot. I looked down at it and noticed it had swollen up like a balloon! What could it be?! I recalled that earlier in the day I had taken a ferry to a nearby island to visit a tourist attraction. Had I been bitten by an insect as I walked through the brush and tall grasses? Had a creepy crawly thing bitten me as I strolled along the shore prior to my return trip on the boat? I may never know for certain! Back at the hostel, the manager suggested I go to the hospital up the hill. For a measly $50, the emergency room doctor examined me and gave me some ointment for my foot. I applied the ointment each day for the remaining seven days of my trip. Would my foot shrink down to its proper size so that it would fit into my sneakers on the day of my returning flight home? My foot was in pain during the rest of the week. To alleviate some of the pain, I kept my foot elevated on the bus tours. I was able to enjoy all of the remaining tours on my itinerary. Fortunately, my foot did return to its normal width just in time for my return journey back to the USA!



All in all, the majority of my travel woes resolved themselves in plenty of time for me to enjoy my travels! I did not let these negative and somewhat frightening experiences destroy or take away from my holidays. With some slight logistical adjustments and a positive attitude, I have been able to truly focus on the positive and appreciate all of the spectacular adventures that world travel can bring! With a little pre-planning, caution, and a enthusiastic attitude, you too can experience the joys of travels!

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An Architectural Tour Across The Globe

As a seasoned world traveler, one begins to notice the unique geometric patterns, shapes and sizes, and color schemes of the various architectural structures in each region of the world. Window panes, doors, ceilings, and walls are each designed with the utmost care and attention to detail, per local culture and tradition. Tourists appreciatively gaze at awe at many of these architectural splendors! I would like to take you on a visual journey of some of the spectacular and distinctive designs that have crossed my path during my world travels.

In Europe, historic villages, as well as grand palaces and castles from the medieval period, provide some splendid architectural designs to behold!

During my visit to The Netherlands, I visited a region where small homes dotted the landscape with classic Dutch windmills as their background. The little houses contained windows that were simple and minimalistic. The ordinary glass panes were well-suited for the quaint homes of the time period. The homes themselves were painted neutral tones, except for several which were of various hues of green.



My holiday in Belgium brought me to the Grand Place in Brussel’s main square. The town hall is a Gothic building with arched windows and entrances. Intricately carved figures line the top of the entranceway.


During the cold winter months, I visited the Arctic region of northern Norway. I was drawn to the colorful stained glass windows depicting glorious religious scenes in Tromso’s cathedral.


Denmark is home to several renowned castles and palaces. I had the opportunity to visit several of them. Their grandeur shines brightly for all to admire. The walls, doorways, and ceilings were adorned with shimmery gold borders. Murals of various politicians or royalty were painted onto ceilings. Colorful stained glass windows contained family crests or clan insignia. Figures of various individuals of stature or animal symbols were intricately carved into doorway arches on the outside of the edifices.







For an African holiday, I chose to vacation in Morocco last year.
The doors of the various mosques, palaces, and government building were like no other I had ever seen or imagined. Every intricate and ornate detail imaginable can be found in them. Shiny gold patterns, as well as a colorful palette of blues, greens, and reds can be found in the opulent buildings I encountered. Many of the doors were quite substantial in size. Even the wooden doors contained beautiful painted patterns.














My vacation in Asia brought me to the country of Turkey. Again, more brilliant patterns of shimmery gold and colorful hues greeted the tourists at every church, mosque, and palace that was visited. Symbols and geometric patterns were sometimes found on entrance doorways.








The rock villages and church cave buildings have elaborately painted symbols to the sides of their rock carved door entrances, as well as above the doorways.


Our world is filled with many fine examples of magnificent architecture possessing the most intricate details of color and pattern. One must only travel across the globe to experience all this beauty that architecture has to share with us!

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Vegan Travel: A Fall Foliage Road Trip to Northeast Connecticut’s Scenic Byway RT169

Northeast Connecticut is known as the state’s “quiet corner”. The region’s Route 169 National Scenic Byway has gained popularity as a premier destination for a Fall foliage drive! its colonial dwellings, stonewall farmlands, and lovely inns greet the traveler with charming views along the winding roads. My quest for this past Saturday was to spend some time appreciating the beauty and history there, as well as discovering some vegan dining gems!

Heading south from Massachusetts, the first stop on my planned itinerary was the “Heirloom Food Company Restaurant”(Heirloom Food Company Restaurant)for some breakfast. A visit to this vegetarian/mostly vegan restaurant is just the right way to start the day! I selected the Organic Vegan Morning Scramble to start my day! It consisted of scrambled tofu with organic onions, mushrooms, red peppers and melted vegan cheese with a side of home fries. My breakfast meal was delicious!

The restaurant also serves up quite a nice selection of nutritious smoothies. I opted for the special of the day: a pumpkin smoothie with organic pumpkin, coconut milk, organic banana, vanilla, almond butter, spices, and agave. Wow! My beverage was incredibly satisfying and I could definitely taste the wonderful pumpkin flavor! ‘Tis the season for pumpkin after all, thus my choice was an easy one!

The restaurant also offers a display counter with several vegan baked goods such as cookies and muffins. A small gift shop within the restaurant space displays vegan cosmetics, skincare, and other personal care items for purchase.

Prior to doing some sightseeing, I had to make one additional stop. “Dee’s One Smart Cookie” (Dee’s One Smart Cookie) is a vegan-friendly bakery about an hour west of the region; located in the town of Glastonberry. I paid a visit for some vegan treats.

My purchases included a pumpkin cupcake with vanilla frosting and pumpkin mini-coffeecake. I just had to purchase the flavor of the Fall season: pumpkin! They are absolutely delectable!

I met the kind and generous Dee who gave me a vegan red velvet cupcake and a chocolate sunseed cup free of charge. I really enjoyed these yummy treats! She explained how one day a week, the bakery offers vegan doughnuts and another day they offer vegan pizza.

It was time for me to head to the town of Brooklyn, the starting point of my touristy agenda. Then pronto I started on my late morning drive through the charming and scenic route 169 National Byway! Brooklyn was settled in the 17th century. It was home to Revolutionary War General Israel Putnam. He was the most significant resident. Rumor has it that he may very well be the person who yelled “Don’t fire til you see the whites of their eyes” at the Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston, Massachusetts. A statue of General Putnam stands in the center of the Brooklyn Green. The Brooklyn Green Historic District occupies the center of town. It houses buildings from the 1750 to 1850 time period.

A colonial style white building with a pointed steeple is located closeby. This historic structure was originally the Unitarian Meetinghouse, constructed in the year 1771. Samuel May (uncle of author Louisa May Alcott) became the first Unitarian pastor at the church in 1882. He was a true reformer, preached temperance and an anti-slavery advocate.


The architecture in this area represents the late Colonial, Federalist, and Greek Revival styles.

Brooklyn’s 18th century Town Hall is situated across the road. This time of year, decorative scarecrows and pumpkins line its entrance walkway.

Trinity Parish on the other side of the street, was built in the year 1866. It is the oldest, still in use Episcopalian church in Connecticut. The original building located 3 miles away, was built in 1771 with beautiful stained glass windows.

Heading north along scenic Route 169 in Brooklyn, I quickly noticed the lovely New England-esque stonewalls surrounding the manicured lawns of the homes, inns, and farmlands.

Several small ponds came into sight encompassed by tall maples and other trees proudly presenting their Autumn foliage.


Many tall and mighty trees lined the side roads with brilliant color displaying in their leaves. Hues of yellow, orange, red, and brown captivated my every glance!


Finally I arrived in the vicinity of the town of Pomfret. Even more grand trees with gorgeous tones greeted my drive.

The Vanilla Bean Cafe(Vanilla Bean Cafe) is a very popular dining establishment in town. The inexpensive restaurant serves sandwiches and other light meals to hungry, leaf-peeping tourists. A sign above the counter mentions that they indeed offer a vegan sandwich. The venue also entertains diners with live music.

As I started to make my way a bit further north on route 169, I noticed a group of trees displaying stunning hues of deep oranges!

Woodstock was the next stop on my day’s itinerary. Tourists love to spend time at the local Scranton’s Antique shop. I entered the shop to browse among the collector’s items and classic pottery, home goods, statues, jewelry, furnishings, and other goods.

The free cup of warm apple cider; another Fall favorite was a nice surprise for a vegan treat!

Further down the road, is the old McClellan House, now known as McClellan Arms. The historic building, built circa 1760, was the residence of Revolutionary War General Sam McClellan. He led a local regiment to the Battle of Bunker Hill. The home is now an antique shop.

Onward northbound to the town of Woodstock! The Inn At Woodstock Hill is an elegant and spacious inn set on sprawling grounds. Visitors can catch a gorgeous view of the local foliage from its back patio.


The annual Woodstock Art Fair takes places each October on the grounds of the Roseland Cottage. Art and crafts vendors showcase their wares for the discerning visitor to peruse and hopefully purchase.

Some vendors were exhibiting their traditional pottery.

Taking a break from the art fair, I signed up for an organized tour of the Roseland Cottage. This national landmark, built in 1846 is a unique Gothic Revival style home. It was the summer residence of wealthy businessman Henry Bowen. Several US presidents visited the estate. Fancy wall coverings, elegant stained glass, and the world’s oldest indoor bowling alley occupy its interior.

After my tour of the ornate and beautiful home, I strolled through the rows and rows of tented arts and crafts exhibits at the fair. Debbie’s Jams displayed jars of fruit jams, such as peach and pear. I sampled some of these tasty vegan-friendly snacks.

Several craftspeople featured their unique and colorful blown glass creations.

A classic style New England church across the street also displayed some of the art exhibits.

My next goal was to visit a local farm stand for some freshly picked veggies! Fortunately, Woodstock Farm was only a couple minutes down the road on rt 169. The Apple Barn farm store stood on its premises.

Fall decor abounds at New England farm stands! The Apple Barn’s outdoor display of pumpkins, colorful flowers, and tall cornstalks gave one a good sense of the the Autumn season in all its glory! Apple Barn sells apples fresh from local orchards, freshly picked corn, jars of fruit jams, and much more.



I purchased some of the freshly picked corn and some peach butter.


Woodstock is also home to a vegan-friendly bakery. Soleil and Suns Bakery(Soleil and Suns Bakery) is a wonderful find along route 169. I purchased a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and a ginger scone. The two sweets were delightful!


Vegans will enjoy dining at The Inn at Woodstock Hill’s restaurant(Inn at Woodstock Hill Rstaurant). The eclectic menu and stylish restaurant space are welcoming to visitors. One of the vegetarian options on their menu is actually vegan. The chef is happy to accommodate. The meal included a choice of salad. I opted for the green salad with balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil.

For my entree, I selected the chickpea, vegetable, and mango saute; simmered in coconut and cilantro-lime sauce served over rice. My gourmet lunch was delicious!

My plans for the remainder of the afternoon included driving along route 169 north, while admiring the foliage-filled views and historic 17th and 18th century homes along the way. When I arrived in the town of Putnam, I noticed the fanciful and decorated bicycles in the main commercial district.

A live theater performance of “Frankenstein” at the 113 year old former vaudeville theater; the “Bradley Playhouse” was next on my agenda. It was a contemporary version of Mary Shelley’s classic tale.

After the splendid performance, it was time for dinner! The spacious 85 Main Restaurant(85 Main Restaurant ) is a vegan-friendly treasure within the center of downtown. The menu offers several vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. My dinner selection was the “Vegetarian Experience”. The entree consisted of risotto with grilled zucchini, broccoli, red peppers, grilled asparagus, and green beans, served with a side of tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce. I really enjoyed my dinner!

My road trip to northeast Connecticut’s route 169 National Scenic Byway was complete. I enjoyed the glorious Fall foliage, the historic old homes, and the wonderful vegan dining options in the region! I recommend that vegan travelers visit this area of the state to appreciate all that this region has to offer for scenery and vegan foods!

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Vegan Travel: A Fall Foliage Weekend in The Litchfield Hills of Connecticut

The “New England” states, in the Northeast region of the United States, is the premier destination for observing the Fall foliage! When the summer air gives way to the crispy cool Autumn weather, we await the tree leaves to turn into their splendid hues of golden yellows, burnt oranges, and deep reds!

My goal for this year is to visit two regions: one in the early to mid-peak and another during peak foliage. Last weekend’s journey to western Connecticut’s “Litchfield Hills” gave me the opportunity to view the state’s foliage during its earlier stages. For many years, I experienced the “turning of the leaves colors” in my own state of Massachusetts or in one of the northern New England states. This year, it was about time to see what southern New England had to offer!

Online research and a quick google search revealed the “Connecticut Tourism” site (Connecticut Tourism). The Route 7 drive along western Connecticut’s “Litchfield Hills” region was recognized by National Geographic Traveler as one of the premier foliage drives in the United States! Hence, the reason I chose this destination, along with the fact that I had never visited there in the past.

As any seasoned vegan traveler, I preceded my journey with research on the best vegan-friendly dining in the area. My first stop that morning was a visit to “The Sweet Beet”(The Sweet Beet). This vegan bakery and cafe offers a nice selection of mini-sized treats and many savory options for a filling meal.

My breakfast purchase included a mini pumpkin spice muffin. The kind waitstaff gave me a mini apple cider doughnut ‘gratis’. Both were absolutely delicious! Moist and tasty bites satisfied my hunger for breakfast! Apple cider donuts are a New England favorite, so I was thrilled to find a vegan version!


The refrigerated cases of homemade meal options caught my eye. I purchased a savory carrot pie with potato crust for my lunch. The vegan ricotta and pesto filling was smooth and tasty. It was a filling and delicious meal!

I was offered a free mini container of eggless potato salad. Every morsel was delectable. I highly recommend that visitors to Connecticut pay a visit here!

My final purchase at the bakery was a box of four mini cupcakes. Know as “sweeties”, these mini-treats are a delightful offering for customers! I purchased the Fall flavor “Pumpkin Pie”, Coco Beet Chocolate, Coconut, and Snickerdoodle. I took a couple of bites(prior to my onward drive) and enjoyed them immensely!

It was time to “hit the road”! I started my day of exploration in the town of Ridgefield, Connecticut at the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. The town was settled in the year 1708 by English colonists. The Battle of Ridgefield; a Revolutionary War skirmish, took place within the Main Street area. The town militia fought alongside Benedict Arnold.

The Lounsbury House, built in the 1870s was later purchased by Governor Phineas Lounsbury as his residence. The classical Revival-style building is now home to the town’s community center.

Around the corner I found the Benedict House and Cobbler Shop, built in the year 1740. The structures on these grounds are among the oldest colonial buildings in the entire town.

Maynard House is a neo-Georgian style home in town, built circa 1900.

The Keeler Tavern and Inn maintains a Revolutionary War cannonball still lodged into the side of its structure. It was built as a home by Benjamin Hoyt around the year 1713. His grandson Timothy Keeler purchased the property in 1769 and converted it into an inn three years later. Mr. Keeler operated the town’s post office from the tavern building. Napoleon’s younger brother was a guest there for a brief period. The architect Cass Gilbert purchased the property as a summer home in 1907 and added some gardens and cherub fountains.

After I had made the rounds about Ridgefield to embrace its place in US history and to peruse the various architectural styles represented in its buildings, I was ready to forge ahead to another section of the Route 7 corridor!

My drive took me next to the city of Danbury. Its nickname is Hat City, because at one point time, it did indeed manufacture a large percentage of hats in the United States.Settled in 1765, it played an important role in Revolutionary War due to its military stockpile.

The first hat factory in town was established in the year 1780 by Zadoc Benedict. The early part of the 20th century was Danbury’s heyday as a hat manufacturer leader!

Within the perimeter of a small square on Main Street, one finds several structures of historic significance.
I visited the John Dodd Hat Shop built in 1790. It is the oldest commercial building in this district.

Next on my agenda was the John Rider House, adjacent to the hat factory. The wooden home was built in the year 1785. Mr. Rider was a carpenter who served in the Revolutionary War. The home remained in his family until the early 20th century. It is on the National Historic Register of Historic Places.

Also located within the same block, is the “Little Red Schoolhouse”. Built as a one room schoolhouse during the 18th century, it was rebuilt during the 1950s on the same spot after some structural damage had destroyed it. The desks and interior layout represent what it would have resembled during its day.


The final building on the block was the Marian Anderson Studio. Marian Anderson was a noted African American opera singer of the 20th century. Singing a variety of genres, she frequently toured the United States and Europe between the 1920′s and 1960s. She resided in Danbury during the 1940s. The studio houses her piano, her opera ball gowns, her music compositions, and photos of her performances and appearances.

After a full day of sightseeing and long drives, the thought of an evening meal sounded perfect just about now. I headed back to Ridgefield for dinner at the vegan “Food Evolution” (Food Evolution Restaurant). This elegant restaurant offers an eclectic selection of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. I opted for the butternut squash soup and a veggie paella entree consisting of veggies, chickpeas, seitan, and rice. Everything was delicious! If you seek a truly creative and upscale menu, than this is your place!



The drive up north on Route 7 provided beautiful views of foliage in each color of the Autumn rainbow: gold, orange, red, and green!

After a lovely drive, I finally entered my destination town of Kent. I beheld a glorious mountain before me, showcasing its orange and yellow foliage at its top elevation.

The Kent Falls Bridge greeted me to my left. This gray-colored bridge is one of the many popular covered bridges on New England byways.

When I arrived in the town center of Kent, the bright red old railway station was among one of the first sights that stood out. Built around the year 1872, the Victorian style station was once part of the great Housatonic Railway going from New York City to Hartford.

The nightfall gave way to dark roads, so it was time to settle in for the evening. I drove south on Route 7 to the town of New Milford for an overnight stay at an inn. When morning arrived, I headed back to Kent again for breakfast. The Villager Restaurant (The Villager Restaurant) appears to be the own place in town that opens early enough for breakfast. Luckily for me, they did offer an option that was coincidentally vegan. The packaged plain oatmeal was my breakfast option. I ordered it with raisins and a bowl of fresh sliced fruit. It was good and indeed satisfied my hunger during the morning hours.

Kent Falls is a popular tourist attraction in the area, so that was to be my AM destination. The waterfalls are located within Kent State Park. The two falls make a pretty sight among the colorful trees and red covered bridge nearby.

Onward north on Route 7, I landed in the town of West Cornwall. Very long and winding roads that twist up and down like a roller coaster entertained me on the drive towards this destination. The picturesque red covered bridge was well worth the drive through the foliage-rich region!


I drove south on Route 7 back to Kent for some additional exploring. The town center proudly showcases quite a few unique artistic pieces and sculptures on the town green.

The “Barns” are actually shops where one can purchase art, clothing, and gifts.

Another interesting sculpture caught my eye! A fall favorite: apples!

My exploration on western Connecticut’s Route 7 was complete! I headed east on Route 341 from the center of Kent towards Warren.
The foliage went from early stage to at least mid-peak colors. It was stunning! I stumbled upon a large pond surrounded by trees with gorgeous orange and red foliage, reflecting on to the waters!

As I drove further and further eastward, more and more captivating foliage kept appearing! Rows of tall trees standing by wooded forests, trees surrounding ponds and swamps, and colorful trees on the National Byways greeted me with every turn on the road.



Heading a bit eastward brought me into farm country. I paid a visit to a local farm to purchase some freshly picked turnip, broccoli, kale, and pumpkin gourds. Every tourist in the area should pick up some fresh vegan produce at a local New England farm.

Huge cornfields with a palette of colorful trees in the backdrop, provided a superb Autumn New England scene.

The final destination on my weekend agenda was the town of Litchfield. A hidden gem for vegan dining, I dined at “West Street Grille”(West Street Grille). This vegan-friendly establishment is a very popular dining spot in town. They offer vegan items, clearly marked on their menu. For my lunch, I selected the tofu tempura with green beans, shiitake mushrooms, leeks, and coconut chili peanut sauce. My meal was scrumptious! The flavorful entree was delicious gourmet dining at its best!

For dessert, I opted for the chocolate raspberry ganache cake. The decadent sweet was superb!

In the nearby town square, I glanced upon its historic buildings such as the town hall and church.


I enjoyed my weekend road trip to Western Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills! The Fall foliage, historic architecture, winding country roads, and vegan dining made lasting positive impressions for me!

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