Keep that passport dry, or risk hassles



On a return trip home from Paris to the United States recently, I broke my No. 1 rule, and put my passport in the pocket of my nylon shoulder bag instead of a secure place beneath my clothes.

No, the passport wasn't stolen. I was exiting U.S. Customs in Seattle, so felt I was home-free as far as theft goes. What I didn't account for was feeling seriously jet-lagged when I decided to put my bag in the washing machine later that afternoon.

I washed my passport, and thus begun a saga far that was far more hassle than simply renewing a travel document.

The laundered passport didn't look damaged. It dried out fast without many wrinkles. A few stamps inside were slightly blurred, but the main page and picture, coated in plastic, looked fine. Then I found out what most people who have been through a flood or a hurricane know: Passports with water damage can no longer be used, and must be replaced - not renewed via the convenient mail-in application -but replaced, as in applying for a brand new passport as if it was your first time.

Even thought the passport looked OK to me, there was no way of telling if the RFID chip (the microchip inserted into passports to deter fraud) inside was damaged, an official told me over the phone. Surely someone in the Seattle Passport Agency would be able to check, I thought. I brought the passport in for inspection, but was told they had no way of testing the chip. Further, I learned, water damage invalidates a passport, no matter how current, and any attempt to use it is a federal crime. I could take my chances that the chip was OK, but given the current political climate, I decided to pass on the potential hassle the next time I reentered the U.S.

It's been a long while since I applied for a passport in-person. I've always renewed by mail. Now I had to start over, not only by filling out a detailed form, but by coming up with all the necessary documentation to prove citizenship and identity. The U.S. State Department lays it all out on a page titled "Replacing your Passport after the Storm.

Here's what's required:

You must apply in person to replace a damaged passport at an acceptance facility or at a passport agency. I went to an acceptance facility a few miles from my house, located in a City of Seattle neighborhood services center.

You need to send the following:  The damaged U.S. passport, a signed statement explaining the damage. Form DS-11 (Application for U.S. passport), Citizenship evidence  (e.g. birth or naturalization certificate),  a photocopy of citizenship evidence,  ID presented in-person, a  photocopy of the ID, and one passport photo taken in color without glasses.

An alternative to sending a certified copy of a birth certificate is to present a fully-valid, undamaged, expired U.S. passport.  Luckily, I have a stack of old passports in my desk drawer, and was able to use one as proof of citizenship. An officials told me that the expired  passport would be returned to me, but my current "invalid" passport would not. 

I paid the fee - $110 for the passport plus $25 to the acceptance facility - and went home, expecting to wait 4-6 weeks for routine delivery rather than pay extra for expedited service (2-3 weeks).

My new passport arrived in 10 days, and is now in the hands of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan, awaiting a visa for spring travel. Uzbekistan requires applicants to include copies of inside passport pages with stamps, along with the passport itself. I hope they will understand why all my pages are blank. Just in case, I included a note of explanation. 

So here's a lesson for all you experienced travelers: Whatever rules you set for yourself on the road, don't break them once you're home. And hang onto those expired passports. You never know when you might need one.


Bordeaux reborn: How to spend a weekend in the world's wine capital


Bordeaux's annual wine and flea market festival

Bordeaux ranks as France's second-favorite city, after Paris. Had anyone visited here 20 years ago, they might wonder why. Always prosperous due to the wine trade, it was a city whose beauty was hidden behind blackened buildings and traffic-clogged streets.

Credit Alain Juppe, the mayor and former prime minister, for kick-starting a clean-up campaign in the mid-1990s. With its riverfront promenade, mostly pedestrianized town center, neighborhood markets and neat rows of 18th century wine merchants' homes, the Bordeaux feels a little like Paris, minus the crowds and prices.

New high-speed train service introduced last summer means visitors can travel from Gare Montparnasse in Paris to the world's wine capital in two hours instead of three, incentive enough for my friend, Jen, and I to plan a three-night getaway.

Villa Bordeaux

It was around 11:30 a.m. when we settled into La Villa Bordeaux, a five-room bed and breakfast just outside the gates of the former medieval town center. Hidden behind a wall on a busy street were lush gardens and an open-air terrace, perfect for sipping wine on a sunny afternoon. Owner Sylvain Deon served breakfast buffet style- three or four kinds of cheeses, cured meats, homemade yogurt, fruit, cereals and assorted pastries and croissants. Had it been raining, it would have been easy to stay put. But the sun was out, and it was lunchtime. On Sylvain's advice, we headed into town, passing the booksellers on the Place de la Victoire, and found the art deco-style Cafe des Arts off pedestrianized Rue Sainte-Catherine, Bordeaux's main shopping street.

Cafe des Arts
Fast-food restaurants and chain stores catering to students have mostly replaced classic bistros like this one on Sainte-Catherine. We ordered a cheese plate and salad listed on the menu under "desserts," a choice that drew a puzzled look from our waiter. The French have their mealtime rules, and one is that you sit down for a proper lunch, meaning a starter and "plat" or main dish. Stopping for a snack is doable, but may mean selecting something intended as an appetizer or in our case, cheese, often eaten after the main dish but before actual dessert.

Rue Sainte-Catherine bisects the city north and south. It's a convenient path across town, but not the most interesting route for exploring Bordeaux's backstreets. Detouring a bit after lunch, we walked under the Grosse Cloche bell tower, one of the oldest in France, and the only remaining part of the ramparts that once surrounded the city.




Our destination was the Saint-Pierre district of old Bordeaux, one of the first areas to be renovated and pedestrianized under Juppe's plan. Since 2002, Bordeaux has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tourists generally head straight to the riverfront to see the 17th and 18th century buildings lining the quays. Right behind those buildings is Saint-Pierre, home to dozens of little wine bars and restaurants with outdoor tables set up under strings of colored lights. It was here we discovered one of 16 identical statues placed at various point around town by an English artist. The game is to find them all while wondering around.


From Saint-Pierre, it was an easy walk to the Place de la Bourse, Bordeaux's most photographed 1700s-era monument, fronting on the Garonne River. Refurbished and on one of the city's modern tram lines, its main attraction is Le Mirror d'eau, the Water mirror, an art installation of granite slabs with a thin layer of water and erupts into fog every 15 minutes or so.

Place de la Bourse

Almost everything in the old city is walkable or reachable by a short tram ride. A few stops from the Bourse is the wine merchants' district of Chartrons. We joined the locals at the annual wine and flea market festival, held each October to celebrate the harvest. Here life takes on a village-like atmosphere along Rue Notre Dame and the Eglise Saint Louis. In between browsing for antiques and listening to street musicians, we sampled vin bourru, a fizzy, not fully fermented "new wine," drunk a few weeks after grapes are picked.

Vin bourru

Upriver from Chartrons is the $90 million euro La Cite du Vin wine museum opened in June to mixed reviews. Its stunning riverfront location and 20 euro entry fee promise more than the exhibits deliver. Given the price includes an English audio guide and a free glass of wine on the top floor with views around Bordeaux, it's worth a stop if only for the interior design and techno tricks used to keep visitors entertained.

La Cite du Vin



While Mondays are often the worst times to do or see anything in France (most museums are closed and some shops open late), Sundays are often the best. Next on the city's list of neighborhoods to get a face-lift is working-class Saint Michel district, built around the Gothic-style Saint Michel's basilica. Locals gather here for a huge Sunday flea market, followed by shopping and lunch at the Marche des Capucins covered food market.

Saint Michel's flea market 
I wasn't quite ready for oysters at 10:45 a.m., but how could I pass up the chance to sample six for 9 euros, including a glass of white wine at this charming little bar. Food is really the best part of travel.

Marche des Capucins

Savoring the local life in Lille



Taking a bike ride with a local guide is one of the best ways I know to get the feel of a new city. Nothing seems as far away on a bike as it does on foot, and if you're lucky,  she or he will share tips on favorite places to eat, museums to visit and short-cuts that save precious steps when you're out sightseeing on your own. Sign up for a group tour, and you may even score a private guide as I diid on my first visit to Lille, a city in Northern France near the border with Belgium, an hour's train ride from Paris.

I signed on for a tour with a company called Le Grand Huit, but it turned out to be a slow Friday. I was their only customer. Instead of cancelling, my guide, Frédérique Lamoureux, above, treated me to a 2.5-hour, one-on-one ride on a sunny fall morning. We road along riverside bike paths, dedicated bike lanes and cobbled streets. Flemish before it became French in 17th century, Lille has a different feel than other French towns.Think beer instead of wine, strong cheeses, waffles and architecture reminiscent of what you might see in Brussels or Amsterdam. 

Just as interesting as riding around town with Frédérique was learning a bit about local life. She is the mother of three girls, ages 3, 5 and 7, and uses her Dutch bike to carry all three, although the seven-year-old now often rides on her own. Each morning, she and other mothers take thier children to school in what they call the "bike bus," a caravan of kids and mothers riding together. At 41, she recently started working again after taking a government-funded, two-year maternity leave. 

 Frédérique pointed out that Lille was originally an island bisected by canals and rivers, now mostly filled in with buildings. Most visitors stay in Vieux Lille, the picturesque old quarter, filled with quaint restaurants and bars, but also lots of tourists. Neatly-planned row houses reflect laws that required new owners to copy the styles of their neighbors. Not everyone follows those rules today. Note the tiny pink ball in the left corner of the photo below on the Place de Theatre, one of Vieux Lille's two main squares. The owner of a lingerie shop painted one of the original cannonballs built into the facade of his building pink to resemble a woman's breast.




I booked a B&B (a room on the top floor, six flights, 60 steps up from ground level, no elevator) in 19th century Lille, the expanded new city about a mile away from the old town. I was disappointed at first that I hadn't found a room in the Vieux Lille, but staying in a local neighborhood turned out to be a great choice. Vietnamese, Cambodian, Moroccan and Indian restaurants lined little side streets, along with inexpensive French bistros.  My hostess at L'Art de Vivre B&B served local cheese, croissants, yougurt, fruit and homemade jams at breakfast, leaving me no room for lunch. At the Saturday market a few blocks away, farmers set out bottles of homemade pear and apple cider and rows of giant cauliflowers. Cheese trucks and olive trucks shared a parking lot with vendors selling mattresses and sweaters. 



Lille has many fine museums, including a massive fine arts museum, the Palais des Beaux-Arts, and a small museum devoted to Louis Pasteur who came to Lille at the behest of brewers to work on the study of fermentation. One afternoon, on Frédérique's advice, I took the metro (Lille's system is driverless, which locals like to say is immune to strikes) to the town of Roubaix.  It's a short walk from the station to La Piscine (French for swimming pool), a museum of art and industry, in an Art Deco building on the site of a former community swimming pool. Architects incorporated water features and shower cabins into display spaces, and used old bath tubs to house the museum's fine art collection. 





Like Paris, Lille has its share of American-style fast-food restaurants and coffee shops. I was disappointed to see a cafe on Place du General-de-Gaulle serving coffee in paper cups. Worse was the prospect of a "FIve Guys" burger chain due to open soon on a main pedestrian street. 


Why this when I found in my own neighborhood excellent food, served at charming little bistros brimming with local ambience. At Le Chat Dans L'Horloge (The Cat in the Clock), I sat at a little wooden table next to a wall decorated with copper pans and old magazine covers. The night's fixed-price special was a creamy goat cheese tarte, steak frites and a glass of wine for  $17. 


The next night it was a chicken tangine with pears, almonds and orange-flavored honey at Le Souk, a Moroccan restaurant that even on a Saturday night was quiet and uncrowded. The bill, with a small pitcher of white wine, was $19. Meanwhile, the guys at Five Guys must be onto something. A friend reports a 45-minute wait at the chain's new location in Paris.

Coping with Trump's war on travel


Istanbul's Blue Mosque

When Donald Trump took office last January, many of us were asking ourselves how his policies might affect travel for Americans abroad.

Nine months later, we have some answers. 

Our dollars are worth less against almost every major currency. 

Travel to Cuba has been restricted. That country along with 40 others, including Mexico, Egypt, Jordon, Colombia and parts of Israel, have been hit with U.S. government travel warnings advising Americans to stay away.   

And the latest: U.S. citizens can no longer get a visa to enter Turkey, disrupting travel plans for thousands, and leaving tourists, business travelers, tour operators, airlines and cruise lines in limbo when it comes to future plans.

What might be next is anyone's guess. In the meantime, here's a rundown on where things stand in the immediate future.

Turkey

Turkey's decision to stop issuing visas to American travelers either in-person on arrival or online through it's e-visa program, came in direct response to a move by the U.S. to suspend the issuing of visas for Turkish citizens hoping to visit or study in the United States after Turkey arrested a U.S. consulate employee on allegations of espionage. The U.S. suspension followed a March travel warning, reissued in late September, recommending Americans citizens carefully consider the need to travel to Turkey. By the time you read this, the latest spat may have ended, but until then, and perhaps after, due to the possibility of this happening again, we will have no choice.  

This is sad, because Turkey is one of the most fascinating places in the world to visit. More than 37,000 U.S. nationals traveled to Turkey in 2016, a drop from the 88,000 visitors in 2015, a change that can be attributed to the coup attempt and security crackdown in Turkey last year when many cruise lines and U.S. tour operators cancelled trips. 

Tour operators and airlines are coming up with refund policies to help Americans who had already booked trips. Intrepid Travel said travelers booked on coming trips who are affected by the visa suspension will be issued refunds or can use their deposit toward another tour.



The dollar

The U.S. dollar, long a symbol of American economic might, has fallen steadily since Trump took office.

As of August, the value of the dollar index, which tracks the dollar against six major global currencies, had fallen about 10% since January. Europe's political and economic problems apparently haven't outweighed the effect chaos and uncertainty in U.S. In January, the dollar exchange rate against the euro was $1.06. Today's it's $1.17.

Cuba

The State Department has issuing a travel warning, urging Americans not to travel to Cuba after 21 U.S. diplomats and family members became ill after a string of mysterious attacks. No tourists were affected, and no other major country has issued a similar warning.

The travel warning has created plenty of confusion and resulted in some cancellations of planned trips to Cuba, but RESPECT (Responsible Ethical Cuba Travel), an association of 150 travel agencies, tour operators and others who provide travel services to Cuba, told the Miami Herald that the warning is unjustified and its members are continuing to organize trips to Cuba.

“This is just not a question of travelers’ safety,” said Bob Guild, co-coordinator of RESPECT and vice president of Marazul Charters, which organizes group tours and individual travel to Cuba. He told the Herald that so far this year there have been 500,000 U.S. visitors to Cuba, including Cuban Americans. “None of them, to the best of my knowledge, has experienced similar health issues. The State Department warning is a political warning, not a health warning.”

The warning comes on top of new restrictions the Trump administration placed on Americans travesl earlier in the year, forcing most to go on expensive group tours instead of traveling independently as people from most other countries freely do.

Other countries

Consult the U.S state department's long list of advice on travel elsewhere, then check to see what Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia are telling their citizens. Official government travel  warnings can sometimes impact travel insurance coverage, so be sure to check on coverage details before buying a policy. 

Where to go?

Donald Trump's idea of "foreign travel" might be a quick hop to Puerto Rico followed by a golf game in New Jersey, but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to buy into false fears. Exercise caution, just as anyone visiting the U.S. should be doing right now. Change plans when it makes sense, but by all means, keep on traveling.

Air France to add Seattle/Paris nonstop flights next March


Air France will restart Seattle to Paris nonstop service next spring, six years after handing the popular route over to code-share partner Delta Airlines in 2012.

Starting March, 25, 2018, Air France will fly between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, five days a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays in Boeing 777-200 aircraft.

The new service will be in addition to a daily flight offered by Delta, meaning Seattle will have two flights a day and two airlines from which to choose. The competition can expect to impact fares and hopefully service, with Delta faced with finding ways to match Air France's reputation for food, wines, seat comfort and overall ambience. Atlanta-based Delta has a huge base of operations in Seattle, and recently opened a new Sky Club at the airport. 

The Air France flight will leave Paris-Charles de Gaulle at 1:30 p.m., arriving the same day in Seattle at 2:20 p.m. The flight will depart Seattle at 4:30 p.m., arriving in Paris the next day at 11:10 a.m. 

Delta's flight leaves Seattle at 1:11 p.m., arriving in Paris at 8:20 a.m. the following morning. It returns at 10:10 a.m., arriving in Seattle at 11:51 p.m.

Flight time for Air France will be around 9.5 hours, slightly less than Delta's 10-hour flight aboard Airbus A 330 aircraft.

Sea-Tac one has been one of the fastest growing U.S. large hub airports for the past three years. Between 2015 and 2016, international traffic increased by more than 11 percent. Since 2007, 14 new international carriers have come to Seattle which now offers nonstop service to 26 international destinations.

Construction started earlier this year on a new international arrivals facility,  scheduled to open in late 2019. The facility will double passenger capacity and reduce connection times. Gates capable of serving international wide body airplanes will increase from 12 to 20. 

B.C.'s Galiano Island: Settle in for scenic wonders and serendipity


A Canadian ferry travels through Active Pass 

Quiet beach walks. Check

Hikes through old-growth forests. Check

Whales and wild deer: Check

Mix the usual island pleasures with a dose of serendipity - as in who knew we'd find ourselves on a bus filled with passengers shaking maracas and singing Beatles' tunes - and it's easy to fill a weekend exploring British Columbia's tiny Galiano Island. 

One of the least-developed of the Canadian Southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the lower mainland,  Galiano is just 17 miles long and 3.7 miles wide at its widest point. 

"We're about people wanting to be quiet," says glass artist Marcia DeVicque, one of the island's 1,000 or so residents. "If I get more than three cars in my drive, I call it Galiano Gridlock."

Just an hour's ferry ride from Vancouver, Galiano could be an easy day-trip, but my husband, Tom, and I found plenty of reasons to settle in, starting with the peach and raspberry scones from the Sturdies Bay Bakery and Cafe, down the hill from our Airbnb, a three-room cottage close to the ferry dock. 

Our host, Alexandra, pointed out the location of a Saturday farmers' market at the end of her street, and several hikes and walks we could take from her front door.
 With half the island used as a tree farm by the lumber industry until the early 1990s, almost one-fifth is protected land, most of it open for public use. 

 "It's acceptable to hitch-hike," Alexandra told us. "The locals will pick you up." Perhaps, but much better to bring a car, we concluded, given the mountainous geography and abundance of forest trails. 

Using a Galiano Parks and Recreation Commission map we picked up at a kiosk next to the ferry dock, we followed dozens of numbered access points to well-maintained beach and bluff trails, with time outs for visits with artists, farmers and the world's most entertaining bus driver.

Here are some suggestions on where to walk and stop along the way:

Retreat Cove and Tapovan Peace Park

Most visitors find their way mid-island to Bodega Ridge Provincial Park, known for its cliffside trails and views over the Gulf islands and the Olympic Mountains. 
Nearby, off Porlier Pass Road, are two lessor-known sites and the studios of two well-known artists.

Reachable on foot are a small sandstone caves at Retreat Cove (No. 31 on the map). We parked, and followed a path to the water, heeding a sign that said "Access to caves at your own risk." It also noted we were on private property, not unusual on Galiano where trails often border or go through private, residential land.

Trails lead to sandstone caves

Easy to miss is the small sign off Porlier Pass for Tapovan Peace Park, 200 acres of forested land dedicated to the life of Sri Chinmoy,  an Indian spiritual leader dedicated to world peace. 

A  Tapovan is a forest or wilderness for spiritual practice, according to a Galiano Trails Society map we found at the entrance. A steep, half-hour walk up a series of stone steps lead us to a bluff overlooking Trincomali Channel and a statue of Sri Chinmoy.
Hidden in a grove of cedar trees just north of the park are the galleries of potter Sandra Dolph and glass artist Marcia DeVicque

Glass artist Marcia DeVicque

Dolph draws inspiration from her daily walks with her dog along Pebble Beach, incorporating shells and leaves in some of the pieces she displays in her open-air Cedar Grove Gallery.  Devicque shows off her colorful mobiles and bird feeders in a garden populated with hummingbirds and hundreds of tiny frogs.


Cedar Grove Gallery

Montague Harbour/Gray Peninsula 

Sheltered Montague Harbour is the gateway to Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park, and Gray Peninsula, home to First Nations peoples before the arrival of Spanish explorer Dionisio Galiano in 1792. A loop trail is an easy hour's walk through the forest and white shell beaches. Locals say it's one of the best places to watch the sunset. 

A few miles away is the Hummingbird Pub, an island institution popular with families. We could have easily driven, but instead we parked the car at the marina, and waited for with Tom Tompkins  (aka Tommy Transit) to show up behind the wheel of the free Hummingbird Pub Bus. 



The Humming Bird pub bus

Suddenly we're all back in high school as Tompkins, 71, hands out maracas and tambourines, cranks up the music, and bangs on symbols and a cow bell mounted above the dashboard. 

"If you're not shakin' it,  you're not makin' it," he yells as we  rock and roll to the Beatles' "Help."


"Tommy Transit"

Burgers and beer aside, it's possible to find Indonesian, German (served from the same food truck) and Thai food on Galiano. The award for most creative use of local ingredients goes to Pilgrimme where chef Jesse McCleery composes dishes from food mostly foraged, grown or produced on the island. 



Dinner on the deck at Pilgrimme

Relaxing on the deck of his wooded cottage one evening, we sampled our way through four or five shared plates including a bowl of marinated olives tossed with chopped pine needles, herbs and chiles and a salad of roasted peaches, local greens and blue cheese. 

Active Pass/Bluffs Park

Close to the ferry terminal on the south end of the island, is Bluffs Park, Galiano's oldest wilderness park, overlooking Active Pass. Galiano is one of the main feeding routes for ORCA whales, and the best viewing spots are near here. A detour through the Galiano Cemetery took us along a path marked "Whale Trail," and down a flight of concrete steps (No. 17 on the map) to a sand beach with a long view up the pass.

We didn't spot any whales day we were there, but we weren't disappointed. 
Serendipity kicked in once more when we noticed a flier advertising the Galiano Conservancy Association's "Musical Walkalong for Learning," an annual, three-hour guided walk through the forest, accompanied by musicians playing flute, cello, horns and more. 

Musical "Walkalong"

Whales, I've seen before, but never have I hiked through the woods, and come upon a bass player standing in a clearing, or harpist perched on a bluff above a crystal blue bay. 


If you go:

Tourist season on Galiano winds down after Canadian Thanksgiving (Oct. 9 this year). Some businesses close or keep seasonal hours. Best to call ahead if you have a specific restaurant or art gallery in mind for a visit. Year-round activities include golf, kayaking, biking and hiking.

Getting there: See www.bcferries.com or call 1-888-223-3779 for schedules and prices from the ferry terminal in Tsawwassen, near Vancouver.  Travel time is 55 minutes. Reservations recommended.

Getting around: With no regular public transportation, Galiano is best explored with a car, or if you don't mind hills and narrow roads, by bike.  

Galiano Adventures rents mopeds May-September. The free Hummingbird Pub bus runs from Montague Harbour Marina and the park campground to the pub and back from the end of May through the last Saturday in September. 

Where to stay: Cabins, bed and breakfasts, Airbnbs and campsites are available in various price ranges. We paid $108 (U.S. dollars) per night for our Airbnb, a small cottage with a kitchen and private bath on the south end of the island near the ferry dock. 

Looking for a splurge? Within walking distance of the ferry dock is the Galiano Oceanfront Inn and Spa. Fall rates on oceanfront spa and villa suites range from $199-$299 Canadian dolllars ($161-$241 U.S. based on the current exchange rate). The hotel provides Smart Cars for guests. 

Upcoming events:

Find local artists and farmers at the Saturday Market, from late May through October 7,  10 a.m.-2 p.m. The island's annual Blackberry Festival is Oct. 7.  

Galiano's annual Literary Festival takes place next February 23 - 25, hosted by the Galiano Island Bookstore

Continuing through May is the Galiano Concert Society's 2017-2018 "Baroque and Beyond" series. 

Tourism info: Pick up maps at the Galiano Island Chamber of Commerce information booth on Sturdies Bay Road, near ferry dock. More trail information on the Galiano Trail Society's website.

A night at the movies in Washington State's historic Port Townsend

Kombucha on tap at the Rose Theatre in Port Townsend

It's Friday night at the movies in Port Townsend, a historic maritime community on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula. Friends and I arrive 45 minutes before show time at the Rose Theatre's Starlight room on the third floor of a former Elks club hall. Upholstered chairs and comfy couches face tall windows with views of Puget Sound's Admiralty Inlet. One of three cinemas in a vintage multiplex that began as a vaudeville house in 1907, the room has just 46 seats, and often sells out.

"Everyone has their special chair," says Port Townsend resident Jane Kilburn,  seated in the front row next to an antique end table. Someone calls out "Lauren Bacall," Kilburn's signal to take a small back and white photo of the film star to the bar, and retrieve her order of house-made hummus, olives and peppers.

The Starlight Room

We find spots several rows back, and wait for someone to shout "Paul Newman." Raspberry mojitos and microbrews appear along with lentil sliders and salads. Until the screen comes down and the chandeliers dim, it's easy to forget we're here to see a film. But mood lighting and gourmet snacks aside, the main course at the Rose is a rotating buffet of on-screen entertainment well worth a weekend visit.

"It's always been my goal to show both commercial and art house films," says Rocky Friedman,  who along with partner Phil Johnson,  went door-to-door with rose-patterned carpet samples to find community investors willing to finance restoration of the theater in 1992. Twenty-five years, 15 tons of popcorn and 3,176 movies later, the Rose thrives by offering a mix of entertainment designed to appeal to this community of well-educated population of retirees along with tourists and younger locals.

Gourmet snacks and drinks in the Starlight Room 

Friedman might rotate as many as a half-dozen selections within a given week, giving visitors a chance to create their own mini-film festival.  Showing recently on three screens (158 seats in the original Rose Theatre, 79 next door in the smaller Rosebud Cinema and 46 in the Starlight Room upstairs in an adjoining building) were Wonder Woman, Paris Can Wait, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf, the Wedding Plan, Restless Creature, a documentary about New York City ballet star Wendy Whelan; and Baby Driver.

In addition to films, Friedman streams performances by New York's Metropolitan Opera. London's National Theatre and Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet. He staged a dance film festival last May, traveling to New York to preview 42 movies before selecting 23 to show over four days. To celebrate the Rose's 25th anniversary on July 11, there was a free screening of The Godfather and free popcorn.

With 34 investors involved, the Rose is more than a labor of love, says Friedman, 64, a filmmaker and screenwriter. It's a viable business, managing to turn a profit even as theaters such as the Seven Gables and Guild 45th in Seattle, have closed.

For an independent theater to succeed,  "You've got to create reasons for people to set down the remote and come out and go to the movies," he says. "The intent has always been to personalize the whole experience."

Popcorn with real butter

A grand staircase with 55 steps leads to the Starlight Room, opened in 2013 in partnership with Port Townsend's Silverwater Cafe on the ground floor. A former photographer's studio with floor-to-ceiling black-out curtains, the room was ready-made for a theater. Seattle interior designer Michele Bayle combed local thrift stores, estate sales and auction houses for vintage furniture and fixtures. Silverwater created a menu of small plates and drinks. Vintage movie posters and black-and-white photos of film stars decorate a bar area stocked with a popcorn machine and bowls of chocolates and gummy bears.

Just as regulars have their favorite chairs in the Starlight Room, they also come early to sit in a cozy, nine-seat balcony in the Rose Cinema where the popcorn comes with real butter and patrons can order local Finnriver cider and Kombucha on tap

Friedman no longer personally introduces each film as he once did, but the tradition continues with his theater managers providing a bit of background on the movie or the director before each screening.

His goal from the beginning was to create a business that allowed him to do what he loved.

"For me, it's all about the work. "I feel grateful for being able to do what I love for 25 years."

If you go:

Chances are you'll be taking in a film at the Rose Theatre in the late afternoon or evening, which means you'll be looking for things to do earlier in the day. Some suggestions:

Farmers Market

Don't miss the Jefferson County Farmers Market Saturday, 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. in Port Townsend's historic Uptown District. Organic farmers, artisan food producers and arts and crafts vendors are celebrating the market's 25th anniversary this year. Bring a cooler or a picnic basket, and stock up on small-batch cheeses, pastries, soaps, ciders, and seasonal produce. New this year is Fiddlehead Creamery selling vegan ice cream in flavors such as sesame tahini and raspberry Thai basil.

Saturday market


Northwest Maritime Center

Port Townsend's maritime legacy lives on at the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St., host to the annual Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival (Sept. 8-10). There's a marine thrift store, library and boat rental center on site.

Fort Worden and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center

Visit Fort Worden State Park, a former U.S. Army installation about 1.5 miles from downtown. Near Point Wilson, where the Puget Sound meets the Strait of Juan De Fuca, the park is home to the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, an interactive natural history museum with a hands-on aquarium.

Finnriver Orchard and Cider Garden

What began as a small cidery on a family-run apple orchard and blueberry farm has grown into a destination with food, music, a bocce ball court and a new tasting room at 124 Center Road in Chimacum. Stop on your way in or out of Port Townsend for samples of Finnriver ciders and fruit wines. Food vendors sell wood-fired pizzas, crêpes and bratwurst.


Finnriver tasting room

Getting there: Port Townsend is at the northeast tip of Washington's Olympic Peninsula. From the Seattle area, take a ferry to either Kingston or Bainbridge Island,  cross the Hood Canal Bridge, and follow WA-19N. Travel time is a little more than two hours. See http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries

Where to stay: Port Townsend is known for its bed and breakfasts in historic Victorian-style homes.
Choose from an inn on the beach to a room in a house built in the 1800s.  See listings at www.enjoypt.com along with information on hotel/motels, vacation rentals and RV/camping spots.

Rose Theatre reservations: Movies in the Starlight Room (21 and over)  sometimes sell out. Order advance tickets online at http://rosetheatre.com Prices are $10 for adults; $9 for seniors and students and $8 for children 12 and under. Matinees are $1 less.

Tourism info: See www.enjoypt.com, or stop in the visitor information center at 2409 Jefferson St. Suite B.