Reading the Reviews

Why a Carrot?

Maggie O'Hare eating dill
Why not? Actually, I selected carrots because rabbits are my favorite critters and they are rumored to love carrots. In truth, the ones who have graced my life would just as soon have had a piece of dill, banana or apple rather than a carrot. For those unfamiliar with lagomorphs, rabbit personalities are a varied as those of any other animal. Miss Drucilla Wigglesworth was laidback and cuddly with a penchant for surreptitiously chewing computer cords. Maggie O’Hare was a reincarnation of Attila the Hun, thoroughly enjoying hiding under the herbs in the backyard when she wasn’t eating the woodwork around doors. Pepper Bun only really liked men, rarely tolerating the attentions of females; however, she would allow young children to gently rub her nose. Cadbury Z-man loved crackers in any form and was quite willing to sleep on the back of the sofa. Lily was curious and very opinionated as to who she did and did not like. Dutch loved everybody and would hop up into your lap any time you sat still. Whether they. So in honor of the rabbits whose company we enjoyed, whether they were part of our family or only visitors, I’ve selected carrots to represent levels of quality.

To review what the rating system means for food, lodging or activities, click on one of the links.




Restaurants, cafés, road houses, bistros, cafeterias, diners, and eateries: We’ve eaten food that we’ve called fabulous, wonderful, great, good, okay or nasty, and yes we can be snobs about certain things (if chocolate isn’t dark I probably won’t even taste it). The reviews give dates and our impressions. Pictures give you some idea of the portion size and presentation of the foods. Prices change, but I’ll also add whether or not the food, service, setting were a good value for the price at the time. You may also see my reviews through other travel sites (i.e. the one with the owl face), but those generally don’t provide a place for thorough explanations of good/bad points. The ‘must haves’ for restaurants depend on the type of eatery: well prepared food, good quality ingredients (don’t give me ground meat with hard bits of gristle in it), a table large enough to accommodate the diners and their plates and drinks, cleanliness, attentive wait-staff (I expect someone to check that my food is tasty and that I have what I need), readable menus, and efficient staff. Although I hate giving negative reviews, nothing irritates me more than poor service and/or not delivering on what is advertised, so when that happens the reviews will be harsh no matter how personable the staff appears to be. As to setting, if the restaurant is highly rated, I expect a quality experience. I don’t anticipate linen table cloths or wait staff in tuxedos at a café on the beach, but I do expect a certain level of decorum and certainly cleanliness. When I have a meal with someone, I want to be able to hold a conversation without shouting; this includes giving my order to a waitperson. Earsplitting music is fine at an outdoor concert, but not in a restaurant. Most of the folks I travel with are willing to walk into any eatery that has a number of other guests, looks inviting, or seems like a reasonable alternative to ‘fast food’. I agree with that philosophy but I really prefer table service; the exceptions are parts of the world where table service is not common or highly recommended restaurants that happen to serve buffets. Cafeterias are simply ‘not my thing’; I only eat in these establishments if there is no other choice.
Five Carrots
This is the perfect eatery. The food, service and setting are excellent; the value is reflective of what the customer receives. Really good restaurants give you the appropriate amount of food ~ no one needs four cups of pasta, for instance. They also have interesting offerings, a reasonably broad drink menu, and a chef/cook who can adapt to special diets. For instance, since I have food allergies, it is sometimes a challenge to choose from a menu without asking about how the food is prepared. When a waitperson knows about the food preparation (or goes and finds out), then tells me that the chef can alter most dishes to my needs, I am impressed. This also implies that many of the menu offerings are made to order rather than prepared hours, days, weeks earlier. I am also impressed when the chef comes to discuss the meal either before or after I’ve eaten. This is a busy professional making an extra effort to please one customer who he/she may or may not ever see again. At an excellent restaurant, the waitperson is attentive yet not suffocating; he/she does not ask a question just as you take a bite of food! The setting supports the offerings on the menu: no stuffed animal heads and loud, heavy metal music in a tearoom or fine china and white cloth napkins in a barbecue joint. What makes this sort of restaurant a cut above is that the experience provides extra, surprising things to make me smile.
 
Four and one-half Carrots
Almost perfect, but the food, service, and/or setting are as expected rather than having an added touch that would make the restaurant stand out.
Four Carrots
This sort of restaurant is much better than average. There is a good value to cost relationship, but something isn’t quite right. Perhaps the waitperson is having a bad day, the ingredients aren’t as fresh as expected, there’s a packet of sugar supporting one table leg but the table still wobbles, or the hostess is screaming at a pigeon…any one of these things makes the experience less comfortable.
Three and one-half Carrots
 Whether it is the food, service or setting, there is an effort made to see to the customer’s needs in this type of eatery. For instance, the food is average but the waitperson is attentive, keeping your water glass filled and making sure that you have what you need. Or this could be a lovely setting with average food and barely adequate service. Most aspects are good with the one or two others being at least average.
Three Carrots
Average restaurants are simply that: average. No one aspect stands out as very good or very bad. In this sort of place I don’t expect that I can get anything beyond the most basic foods prepared at the time I order. If I ask for a burger without onions, I can probably get it but I can’t get a tossed salad without onions because the salads are already prepared.
Two and one-half Carrots
With a bit more effort, these establishments could be average. The cook could choose fresher produce, the wait staff could be attentive, the tables and chairs could be ‘de-crumbed’. I’d give a place such as this another try if there was something on the menu I particularly liked such as homemade pie.
Two Carrots
Pretty much everything in this restaurant needs improving, but the restrooms are clean. I won’t be returning here unless it is the only place to eat and I’m really hungry.
One and one-half Carrots
Everything needs improving including the restrooms.
One Carrot
Oh my, how did I end up eating here??
One-half Carrot
This place has royally irritated me and the only reason there is any sort of rating is as a place holder so the reader won’t think I accidentally didn’t give a rating.


Hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, inns, guest houses: We’ve stayed in fabulous, wonderful, great, good, okay and no-way-ever-again places. The reviews provide dates and our impressions. Pictures give you some idea of the size and décor of the rooms and bathrooms. Prices change, but I’ll also add whether or not they were a good value for the price at the time. You may also see my reviews through the booking company (Travelocity, Booking.com, TripAdvisor.com, etc.), but those generally don’t provide a place for thorough explanations of good/bad points. These reviews are based on many things including our enjoyment, the quality for price paid and truth in advertising. We tend to be relatively easy to please but do not tolerate incompetency, lack of manners, or misrepresentation. Although I hate giving negative reviews, nothing irritates me more than poor service and/or not delivering on what is advertised, so when that happens the reviews will be harsh no matter how personable the staff appears to be.
Five Carrots
This is the perfect place to stay. The comfort, service and setting are excellent; the value is reflective of what the customer receives. There are a few ‘must haves’ when we write about lodging: cleanliness, heating/cooling, available necessities (soap, toilet paper), sufficient space (for ourselves, luggage, toiletries), two rubbish bins (one in the room and one in the bathroom), comfortable bed/pillow, sufficient bathroom linens, hair dryer (at least available if not in the room), fast and reliable internet, and on-site parking. Breakfast at the hotel is always nice but if it is available, it must be well prepared. It’s also nice to have in-room coffee/tea makings, a refrigerator and a microwave. Places that really make me smile have a 24-hour reception desk, free and fast internet in the room, free on-site parking, facial tissue (I hate having to use toilet paper to wipe my nose), a ceiling fan and a sheet between me and the comforter. What makes this sort of hotel/motel a cut above is that the experience provides extra, surprising things to make me smile.
Four and one-half Carrots
Almost perfect, but the comfort, service, and/or setting are as expected rather than having an added touch that would make the hotel/motel stand out.
Four Carrots
This sort of hotel/motel is much better than average. There is a good value to cost relationship, but something isn’t quite right. Perhaps the windows overlook a noisy street, the rooms aren’t cleaned early enough that I can come in after lunch for a nap, or the purported view is only if you hang your head out the window.
Three and one-half Carrots
Whether it is the comfort, service or setting, there is an effort made to see to the customer’s needs in this type of hotel/motel. For instance, the comfort is average but the free parking area is more than adequate to allow guests to always find a place for the car. Or this could be a lovely setting with average comfort and barely adequate service. Most aspects are good with the one or two others being at least average.
Three Carrots
Average hotel/motels are simply that: average. No one aspect stands out as very good or very bad. In this sort of place I don’t expect that I can get anything beyond the most basic accoutrements; there may be a hairdryer, but you’d do better with a comb and a good strong wind.
Two and one-half Carrots
With a bit more effort, these establishments could be average. I’d give a place such as this another try if there was something I particularly liked such as an ocean view or a location next to one of my favorite places.
Two Carrots
Pretty much everything in this hotel/motel needs improving, but it is relatively clean. I won’t be returning here unless it is the only place to stay and I’m really tired.
One and one-half Carrots
Everything needs improving.
One Carrot
Why did I choose this place? Do I need to put the mattress between me and the door to keep the bullets from coming through?
One-half Carrot
This place is completely awful and the only reason there is any sort of score is to show that I did give a rating.


Museums, galleries, gardens, hikes, amusement parks, aquaria, zoos, sights: We’ve done some adventurous, exciting, stimulating, interesting, dull and we’re-not-doing-that-again activities. The reviews provide dates and our impressions. Within the reviews will be links to pictures that give you some idea of what. Costs vary, but I’ll also add whether or not they were a good value for the time spent. You may also see my reviews through the booking company (Travelocity, Booking.com, TripAdvisor.com, etc.), but those generally don’t provide a place for thorough explanations of good/bad points. These reviews are based on many things including our enjoyment, the quality for price paid and truth in advertising. We tend to like adventurous and thought-provoking experiences; we do not ‘suffer fools’ at all, including accidental or purposeful misrepresentation. While I hate giving negative reviews, nothing irritates me more than poor service and/or not delivering on what is advertised, so when that happens the reviews will be harsh.
Five Carrots
This was a wonderful combination of physical and mental adventure. It lives up to recommendations from both professionals and the general public. What makes this sort of activity a cut above is that the experience provides extra, surprising things to make me smile.
Four and one-half Carrots
Almost perfect, but the activity is as expected rather than having an added touch that would make it stand out.
Four Carrots
This sort of activity is much better than average. There is a good value to cost or time relationship, but something isn’t quite right. Perhaps the hike is longer or shorter than the signage indicates, there is no specific about how to get to the area, comfort areas are not clean or some other shortcoming.
Three and one-half Carrots
There is an effort made to see to the customer’s needs. For instance, the comfort areas are average but the parking area is graveled so that you don’t track mud into the car. Or this could be a lovely setting with average cost and barely adequate signage. Most aspects are good with the one or two others being at least average.
Three Carrots
Average activities are simply that: average. No one aspect stands out as very good or very bad. In this sort of place I don’t expect to be particularly surprised by a collection, information or event.
Two and one-half Carrots
With a bit more effort, these activities could be average. I’d give a place such as this another try if there was something I particularly liked such as an exciting zip through tree tops or a great place to watch a sunset.
Two Carrots
Pretty much everything about this activity needs improving, but it was sort of fun. I won’t be returning here unless someone I’m with really wants to see/do this.
One and one-half Carrots
Everything needs improving.
One Carrot
Why did I choose to do this? Why would anyone spend money/time engaged in this activity?
One-half Carrot
This is entirely dreadful; it has a score only because I need to show that I was there.