November 14, 2018

Israel… A Wedding Destination Close to My Heart

I often get inquiries from my clients to recommend a venue in Israel where they can get married. Many are observant Jews who want to book their wedding close to one of the Jewish Holidays so they can celebrate both during one trip. This requires a venue that is Shabbat “friendly”.  Meaning for instance, that there is no key needed to enter the hotel room during Shabbat.

I asked Sharon of  Valerie Wilson Travel to provide me with a venue that will cover all the relevant requirements and she recommended the fabulous Ritz Carlton just outside of Tel Aviv. This venue is perfect for couples who don’t want to be in the middle of the hustle of Tel Aviv, but still close enough to enjoy the fun and able to explore the rich history, holy sites and culture of Jerusalem.

Nestled right above the marina, The Ritz-Carlton, Herzliya is the perfect spot for guests to fully immerse themselves in everything that makes this region so incredibly compelling. Herzliya is known as “the Palm Beach of Israel”, and is just 15 minutes away from the energy of Tel Aviv. The hotel is less than an hour’s drive from the holy city of Jerusalem, where visitors are enveloped in the uncompromising awe of an ancient land. Whether you choose to venture out and explore the area’s many attractions and points of interest or relax on the pristine Herzliya beach and let the sun warm your spirit, you are sure to return home with memories and pictures that will last a lifetime.

If you are into exploring, there are many activities to choose from, such as a one day drive to Caesarea, where the past and the future come together. There are live music concerts in the famous roman theater along with spectacular 18-hole golf course.

Then there is the Dead Sea – the lowest point on earth and known as the ultimate natural healing spa for an unforgettable experience of pampering and rejuvenation.

You could also stroll around the great walls and between the beautiful colorful quarters of Jerusalem. Embrace the spirit feeling of this unforgettable ancient holy city, which is sacred to many religions. Visit the iconic and spiritual Wailing Wall which reveals thousands years of history.

Masada is a UNESCO heritage site overlooking the desert and the Dead Sea. One of the most exciting tour sites in Israel combining a story of historical battles with Archeological pieces.

Israel is not just an interesting and stunningly beautiful country to visit, the Ritz Carlton is one of the top venues should you choose to celebrate your wedding there. They will celebrate each couple’s unique story. You can have your wedding in either their indoor or outdoor areas and their menu will delight the most discerning palate! They have experts on site at your disposal who understand that planning is simply the first step to bringing your vision to life. Imagine the stunning wedding pictures!

Contact Sharon for more information. She will ensure that all your needs are meticulously taken care of!

Sharon Bame Associate Advisor                                                                           sharon.bame@vwti.com  | O 650.485.4545 | D  415.215.1079

Thank you for spending this time with me! More info on weddings and event planning, wine and food pairings and much more coming up on this blog.

Batyah

 

Where Did I Travel for my 100th Country? Tanzania!

Here is my August News 2018 FOR We Said Go Travel:

For my 50 New Things Before I am 50 project, I went to my 96, 97, 98, 99th countries and in July 2018, I went to TANZANIA which was my country #100! It was so exciting to travel with Abercrombie and Kent Tailor-Made Small Group Journeys on Safari! I have been posting photos to my social media and have many videos to share with you. Thank you for all of your support for We Said Go Travel and me. 

Videos: Abercrombie and Kent Safari in Africa

More info and rates: https://wesaidgotravel.com/AKAfrica

Lisa Niver in Tanzania with a giraffe

Selfies on Safari: Lisa Niver with a giraffe in Tanzania

PHOTO AWARD

All of the entries from the 2017 Photo Award are now published. Please view them here.

Find the Finalists: Part One and Part Two

We anticipate announcing the winners from our 2017 Photo Award in September 2018. Thank you for your participation and patience!

Our 2018 photo award is open! Our four judges look forward to seeing your best shots! Learn more here!

On Safari in Africa! Baby Elephant Crossing the Road

On Safari in Africa! Baby Elephant Crossing the Road

WHERE CAN YOU FIND MY TRAVEL VIDEOS?

Here are links to my video channels on YouTubeAmazon Fire Tv, and Roku Player. My views on Roku are now over 1.2 million and I have nearly 800,000 views on YouTube! My total video views across all platforms is now over two million! Thank you for your support!

Recent videos from Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas:

I am now planning and booking travel! Where do you want to wander? Find more information about me and my luxury travel advising as an independent affiliate of CRUISE and RESORT, Inc with Virtuoso Luxury Travel Network on my new microsite!

My fortune cookies said “Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you imagine it,” and “A mile walked with a friend contains only a hundred steps.” I hope you are actively imagining your next dream destination and goal. I am!


Thank you for your all of your support. Lisa

Discover more on my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTube, and at LisaNiver.com. My social media following is now over 125,000 and I am verified on both Twitter and Facebook.

Have you always wanted to know more about We Said Go Travel and Lisa Niver?
Here are two new interviews:

Nomad No More on Explore with Erin
How One Woman is Inspiring a Traveling World on Vagabondway
See other interviews from Business Insider, The Penny Hoarder and more on my One Page

Lisa Niver on her way to Country #100

Lisa Niver on her way to Country #100

Booking your destination wedding or honeymoon

If you recently got engaged and started the very exciting and challenging process of planning your wedding; one of the first things on the “to do” list will be to decide where you will have your wedding and honeymoon. There are couples who know exactly what they want and then there are those who have no idea and are feverishly discussing all their options. Will you get married locally or do you have an exotic destination wedding in mind? You could have your wedding in Italy and honeymoon in France! So many options and if you follow us, I will be posting about some dreamy and exciting destinations for any occasion.

Destination weddings have become increasingly popular, especially for those couples who don’t want to go through the “father of the bride” situation! Seriously though, having a destination wedding could mean that it can involve just the two of you, a select handful of family and friends or enough guests to constitute a bona fide week-long family reunion or vacation. They can be much simpler and depending on what you envision, also faster than planning a traditional wedding and reception for two main reasons; Most resorts and cruise lines have made it really easy to have weddings on site and many have experienced wedding coordinators to help you with all your requirements. They are familiar with the Country’s marriage license requirements and offer wedding packages that take care of all your ceremony essentials. All you do is spend time with your loved ones, while the coordinator takes care of the rest and follows your direction.

If you are considering getting married in another country, it may have crossed your mind to book everything yourself online to “save money” … You know the deal – you type “cheap tickets/accommodation” in a browser and then you have to go through twenty websites all offering some deal or another, only to discover in the end, that you didn’t quite get what you expected or hoped for. When asked whether I recommend booking a wedding or honeymoon online, my answer has always been a resounding NO! Not unless you want to spend your time dealing with one issue after another and trying to find resources, instead of enjoying your time together. I have literally not heard of one successful wedding or honeymoon booking that was done online by the couple on their own.

People, this is your wedding and/or honeymoon! This is a trip where you want to spend as much of your precious time enjoying each other’s company before you start your life together and have a fabulously romantic, relaxing experience. This is the one trip where you let the professionals deal with the details, or the drama if something should not quite go smoothly during your trip. If dressmaking is not your expertise, would you try to make your own wedding dress? Of course not!

If you are going to travel for your wedding and/or honeymoon, I suggest you work with a travel advisor; a professional travel consultant with the resources, connections and expertise to add great value to your travel plans. They are your advocate, they negotiate on your behalf, they have relationships with suppliers and can get you into places that you possibly could not and they curate the noise for you. This is their expertise, let them handle the details.

You will be busy with decisions such as the timing of your wedding and honeymoon, deciding whether you will buy the dress locally and take it with you or buy it where you are getting married, who will be in your bridal party, who will be invited to come along, what food you would like and what you will pack. Depending on your religious observance or lack thereof, you will need to find a Rabbi or officiant of your choice to perform the ceremony. When you have a travel advisor all you have to tell them is your vision for your special day, where you want to go for your honeymoon, what your budget is and they do the research for you. You just plan on having the time of your life. They can suggest what time of year will be best for your preferred destination and give you tips on the area to ensure a memorable (and insta-worthy) experience.

If you are planning to invite a group of family and friends, everyone might not be travelling together to the destination or back home. Some guests may want to remain after the wedding is over, or go earlier to enjoy some leisure time on their own prior to the wedding. Someone needs to keep everyone’s itineraries straight and ensure they all arrive in time for the wedding! All you need to handle once you are at your destination should be the details with the wedding coordinator. Not worry about your loved ones arriving on time. One thing I do recommend, is to have a scouting trip with your significant other to make sure the venue can fulfill your vision. Once you have confirmed your destination, ask your advisor if she can connect you with the wedding coordinator and go for a scouting trip at least a few months out.

We all know that we plan for the perfect wedding or honeymoon, but we also know that the flight or location details sometimes get muddled up, or the weather doesn’t play along. As I was writing this post, I had a discussion with a really helpful lady who is a travel advisor, Sharon Bame from Valerie Wilson Travel, who came highly recommended. She said when you are thinking about a destination wedding and/or honeymoon, she recommends you start planning as far out as you can; preferably a year or more. This is particularly important if you have a specific place in mind that is exclusive and also wildly popular. Other important factors are of course the size of your group and how flexible you are. If you do your bookings last minute, you might have to settle for the group to be spread out over several hotels and you might not find that spot you have been dreaming about. Last minute arrangements, especially if you have your heart set on a specific location, might also mean additional cost, so it is always best to book your destination wedding or honeymoon as far out as possible.

If you have any questions, Sharon is clearly experienced, creative and on top of it. The colleague who referred me to her for destination travel tips, said she has amazing attention to detail, was extremely focused and is passionate about her work and that is the perfect combination. Sharon specializes in Italy and France; particularly, Paris, South of France, Rome, Florence, Venice, Positano, and the Amalfi Coast. She is also into exquisite food and wine experiences, yoga, and hiking which means she can help you with any additional activities you might want to experience whether you are travelling locally, or outside of the US. In addition to her own travel experience she also has resources through their partners throughout the world and the cherry on the top is they are a member of Virtuoso: an organization with access to resources not available to the general public. You literally cannot go wrong when you have experience and almost endless resources at your disposal and while Sharon may specialize in the above areas, she can help you with just about any location. Sharon’s info is below. Do contact her if you have questions.

Sharon Bame Associate Advisor sharon.bame@vwti.com  | O 650.485.4545 | D  415.215.1079

Last but definitely not least; congratulations on your engagement – we wish you every happiness in the world!

Thank you for spending this time with me! More info on weddings and event planning, wine and food pairings and much more coming on this blog.

Batyah

 

The Enchanted Galapagos: A Treasure Worth Preserving

The Galapagos Land Iguana is one of several animals endemic to the islands, but urgent intervention is needed to preserve the population. Photo courtesy of Karson Leperi.

 

There’s a reason the Galapagos Islands have been called enchanted. Some of the first explorers to land on this family of islands – young in geological terms at only about 6 million years old – noted that the animals didn’t flee from humans. This unusual behavior makes it possible to do more than just observe wildlife up close. The wonders of nature will truly be at your fingertips.

Sea lions often blend in with the dark rocks on the beach, but their distinctive calls can be heard all over the islands. Photo courtesy of Karson Leperi.

 

When you travel with Ecoventura, you’ll have the opportunity of a lifetime to learn about the Galapagos Islands’ unique ecosystem, guided by local naturalists. Imagine kayaking with sea turtles or swimming with sea lions while spending a week living aboard a state-of-the-art yacht.

Ecoventura offers these opportunities and more, with two itineraries and three ships to choose from. Itinerary A focuses on the eastern islands. Itinerary B travels further west, with the added excitement of sailing across the Equator!

The Origin, a luxury yacht, is the newest addition to Ecoventura’s fleet. Sister ships Eric and Letty are also a comfortable accommodation, home to a maximum of 20 passengers at a time. The small group size ensures that the naturalist guides can cater to your interests and answer all your questions as you explore.

Dinghy boats were the primary method of transportation from the yacht to each island.

 

Charles Darwin was the most famous visitor to the Galapagos, and the finches he observed there were essential to establishing his theory of evolution. While the number of distinct species on the islands is small compared to mainland Ecuador, the percentage of endemic species – ones found nowhere else in the world – is high.

The Galapagos penguin is the second-smallest type of penguin and the only one that can be found north of the Equator. Photo courtesy of Karson Leperi.

 

The Galapagos penguin is a notable example. This species is the second-smallest type of penguin and the only one found north of the Equator. They are able to survive in the relative warmth due to the chilly Humboldt Current, which comes to the Galapagos from the south.

Ecoventura passengers enjoy the opportunity to observe these adorable birds up close. Penguins groom themselves on rocks near the beach, easily accessible for snorkelers to take photos with waterproof cameras. Sometimes, they surface near dinghy boats for a tantalizingly brief moment before diving back out of sight.

Tortoises on the Galapagos can grow to be over 500 pounds. Photo courtesy of Karson Leperi.

 

Animals on the Galapagos show a wide variety of physical and behavioral adaptations to their environment. They fill niches not available to them in other places. For example, the reason tortoises grow so large – sometimes over 500 pounds – is because of the absence of other large animals competing for the same food supply.

Frigates also behave more aggressively. According to one naturalist guide, half of their diet comes from attacking other birds when their calls indicate they have something in their beaks, the equivalent of humans talking with their mouths full. In locations outside the Galapagos, frigates catch fish near the ocean’s surface. Only about five percent of their food comes from attacks on other birds.

The uniqueness of the animals in the Galapagos gives a particular urgency to conservation efforts. At the Charles Darwin Research Station, on Santa Cruz Island, visitors learn about breeding programs and other interventions that seek to protect animals from threats like invasive species and habitat loss.

A successful breeding program at the Charles Darwin Research Station has saved the hoodensis species of tortoise from the brink of extinction. Photo courtesy of Karson Leperi.

 

Diego, a saddleback tortoise, is a striking success story. There were only 14 individuals of the Chelonoidis hoodensis species left on the Galapagos when Diego – so named because he came from the San Diego zoo – was moved to the research station. He has fathered hundreds of descendants, saving his species from the brink of extinction.

Lonesome George, another famous tortoise, highlights the risk that other animals face. He was the last of his species,Chelonoidis abingdonii, which has been officially extinct since his death in 2012.

Ecoventura takes its commitment to responsible tourism very seriously. All activities in the designated Galapagos National Park area are tightly controlled. Travelers are only permitted to visit certain islands and snorkel or kayak in designated locations.

Risks to the islands’ ecosystem come from a variety of sources. Tectonic plate shifts cause periodic volcanic activity. In addition, the weather pattern known as El Niño has resulted in warm years when some species have no offspring – a natural check on population growth.

Marine iguanas are showing the impact of climate change with an extended mating season. Photo courtesy of Karson Leperi.

 

The impact of global climate change is already noticeable. For example, marine iguanas are usually black. But during mating season they display red and green coloration, caused by pigments in the algae they eat. Different weather patterns have influenced when the algae bloom, in turn extending the mating season.

Invasive species are yet another challenge. On South Plaza Island, invasive rats have decimated the prickly pear cactus. Land iguanas depend on these plants for their food supply. But the population has grown too large, recently turning to bird eggs to supplement their diet. An intervention is in the works, with nets in place to guard young cactus plants.

Gaby, an Ecoventura guide, was emotional as she told our tour group that she hopes we’ll be able to return to the Galapagos with our grandchildren and enjoy the same unforgettable sights that greeted us every day.

Male frigate birds with their sacs inflated, indicating that they are seeking a mate, are visible year-round on the Galapagos. Photo courtesy of Karson Leperi.

 

Albatrosses mate for life and are known for their elaborate courtship dances. Photo courtesy of Karson Leperi.

 

The marvels of the islands defy description. Male frigate birds inflate red sacs on their chests when seeking a mate. Albatrosses do an elaborate courtship dance.

Baby blue-footed boobies are fully grown at just a couple months old, but they are white and fluffy until their feathers come in. Photo courtesy of Karson Leperi.

 

Of the three species of boobies found on the Galapagos, red-footed boobies are the only one that nests in trees. Photo courtesy of Karson Leperi.

 

Blue-footed boobies take care of their young, fully grown at just a couple months old but fluffy and white until their feathers come in. Red-footed boobies are the smallest of the three booby species on the islands and the only one that builds nests in trees. They have curved feet that allow them to grip branches.

Other surprises may wait at every turn. Our tour group was in the lounge before a daily briefing one evening when the captain announced over the intercom that there were dolphins. We rushed out onto the deck and saw dozens of them, in every direction. A group of four was swimming directly beneath the yacht. I could have reached out and touched one.

A leaping dolphin was a spectacular conclusion to a surprise dolphin sighting. Photo courtesy of Karson Leperi.

 

Then, all of a sudden, one dolphin leaped into the air, some five or six feet above the water. It made a graceful arc before diving elegantly back into the water.

A few days into the cruise, my longstanding fear of stingrays had abated. I enjoyed watching a school of golden rays swimming peacefully in a quiet lagoon. None of the travelers in my group wanted to get near a shark at first. But by the end of the week we relished the sight of a solitary shark in the sand below as we snorkeled at the ocean’s surface.

For a curious traveler seeking a unique and memorable adventure, the Galapagos Islands are a perfect destination. Flights are available daily from Quito or Guayaquil, two historic cities well worth a visit before or after your time on the Islands.

Look to Ecoventura for responsible guides who will make sure you leave no trace – but you’ll leave with incredible photos and memories.

 

If you go:

Ecoventura

1-800-633-7972 (toll-free US & Canada)

1-305-262-6264

info@galapagosnetwork.com

Wondering Where to Wander in Montreal?

I explored Montreal for the first time during the Travel Classics Montreal conference in May 2018 during Montreal’s birthday (17 May 1642).

Last summer for Canada’s 150 birthday,  I wrote several articles for USA Today 10 Best about 10 unique places to visit10 places for an outdoor adventure and 10 sites to explore the history of Canada. These three articles were part of a group that created 150 things for Canada’s 150th! I have been working my way through all of these incredible things to do in Canada.

For our pre-conference experience, I stayed at Monville Hotel which had literally just opened its doors and was centrally located so we could walk to many attractions or for our dinner! I loved meeting their resident robot.

VIDEO: Staying in the brand new Monville Hotel in Montreal

We arrived into Montreal by Rail after several days in Québec City.

VIDEOTraveling on Via 1 from Quebec City to Montreal

Where did we go? What did we see?

*Museum of Fine Art

*Mount Royal

*HA with Francisco Randez:  They have two locations and great food

*Studio 16 and the Street Art Festival

*Pointe A Calliere

From my USA TODAY 10best article: “Most people don’t know that Montreal is one of the oldest cities in Canada, let alone North America. So, the Pointe-à-Callière Museum showcases Canadian history through both permanent and temporary exhibitions.  Permanent exhibitions provide insight on how Montreal began, how it was built and how archaeologists uncovered what the city was like before human settlement.”

*Cite Memoire for Montreal at Night definitely see as many of the 60 projections as you can!

*Escondite! I loved this Mexican restaurant! Thank you to Bernardo and the entire team Vive Mexico!

VIDEO: I Loved Exploring Montreal with Travel Classics

A highlight of my trip was discovering Jewish Montreal with Mélissa Simard on her Jewish food tour.

VIDEO: Want to Discover the Jewish Heritage of Montreal with Food?

I tried something new: AERIAL YOGA. My instructor, Veronique´ Jalbert, at Club Sportif Maa was fantastic! I cannot wait to find my 2nd class.

Video: Club Sportiff MAA Aerial Yoga with Veronique´ Jalbert

Thank you to Maren and #TravelClassicsMontreal! See my next article about the conference and look at my Canada videos from Vancouver to Montreal Summer 2018:

 

Lisa Niver at Escondite in MontrealLisa Niver at Escondite in Montreal

Discover more at We Said GO Travel

Discover the Jewish Heritage of Montreal with Mélissa Simard

Thank you to Mélissa Simard for the fantastic Jewish Food Tour of Montreal on May 16 2018 with Round Table Tours. I LOVED our day exploring!

See it come to life in my video:

Where did we go?

Lisa and Melissa at Lesters Deli

Lisa and Melissa at Lesters Deli
Photo by Paul Shiro

*Lester’s Deli

 

Cheskie Bakery has the best Rugelach in Montreal! Photo by Paul Shiro

Cheskie Bakery has the best Rugelach in Montreal! Photo by Paul Shiro

*Cheski Bakery

 

My favorite bagel on the planet is from St. Viateur Bagel! Photo by Paul Shiro

*St. Viateur Bagel Shop

*Home of Mordechai Richler

*Former B’nai Jacob synagogue

*Fairmont Bagel Factory

 

Sharon Wilensky is the third generation to run Wilensky's Light Lunch! Photo by Paul Shiro

Sharon Wilensky is the third generation to run Wilensky’s Light Lunch! Photo by Paul Shiro

*Wilensky’s Light Lunch

*Hof Kelstein Bakery

*Steinberg’s Grocery

*Leonard Cohen’s home

*Globe Theater (now Cinema L’Amore)

*Cooper Building

 

Schwartz's Deli: World famous smoked meat in Montreal. Photo by Paul Shiro

Schwartz’s Deli: World famous smoked meat in Montreal. Photo by Paul Shiro

*Schwartz’s Deli

*Bagg Street Shul

and don’t miss the Shalom Montreal exhibit at McCord Museum.

Musée McCord Shalom Montreal Exhibit. Photo by Paul Shiro

Musée McCord Shalom Montreal Exhibit. Photo by Paul Shiro

Thank you again to Mélissa Simard for making the Jewish heritage of Montreal come to life. My grandfather was born here and this was my 1st visit to this marvelous city.

 

More about ‘Round Table Tours:

‘Round Table Tours offers a guided exploration of Montreal’s diverse neighbourhoods, cultures and food establishments. Your adventure will bring you beyond cheap clichés normally destined for tourists.

  • Weave together the tasting of culinary delights with the stories of the chefs and entrepreneurs that create those dishes
  • Discover flourishing communities, their histories and interesting and diverse people from the past and present
  • Explore emerging styles of cuisine and business models that are eco-responsible, including urban farms, restaurants, food trucks and food production sites

More about Travel Classics Montreal:

I was in Montreal to participation in “The World’s Most Exclusive Conferences for Professional Travel Writers and Editors.”  I am honored to be able to participate. Want to know more about it? Watch this video: Why Go to Travel Classics? Ask the Editors:

Lisa and Melissa Montreal Jewish Food tour

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Motherhood 101 – Travelling

My son Charlie is wrapping up a 17-day vacation in Japan. He is with one of his best friends, and they are traveling around the country not only seeing the sights, by experiencing the culture and meeting the people of Japan. They have encountered nothing but kindness and generosity. I am impressed with the beauty of not only the country, but her people. Thank you to this enchanting place and her residents for taking such great care of my son.

Charlie has taken me with him on his trip, which has been simply thrilling. Thanks to modern technology I have walked through the bamboo forest, seen a sumo wrestling match, watched a blue fin tuna auction, fed monkeys and deer, and lit a wishing stick in a Buddhist temple. I have been on a bullet train and strolled in the rain through busy and exciting streets. I believe seeing the world is important and am so happy my son is able to have these experiences. It really expands your world view to actually see the world in person.

Sidebar: Important to note that while I’m sure I sound like a supportive and loving mother when it comes to Charlie traveling, in the interest of full disclosure, you should know I am actually a crazy person. I track the movement of his flights and train rides, I ask him to text me when he is in for the night, and I have asked him 422 times if he has his epi pen with him.  Each time he goes away I relax a little bit more, but I am a Jewish mother through and through and the truth is there will ever never be a trip where I don’t worry and that will be not only with Charlie, but with his wife and kids too when come along. Luckily he takes it all in stride, humors me, and includes me in ways I haven’t even demanded. I am thankful he is such a good boy, and grateful for vodka.

I am sending best wishes to the people in Japan who are dealing with the heavy rains and flooding. I hope you stay safe. To my Charlie, enjoy the last few days of your wonderful trip. Be safe, have fun, eat strange things, be kind, take pictures, and be aware of how blessed you are to see the world. I am so thankful you have included me on your adventure. I really enjoyed Japan and can’t wait to see Scotland with you this fall. Travelling is a wonderful reminder to keep the faith.

 

 

Banff Sunshine Village: Tackling My Fears

My goal is to feel more confident on the mountain. I believe that I am a solid blue (intermediate) skier but that it not true. I am actually an advanced (black) skier in my body but my mind is not always with me. I had challenges learning to ski as a child and when I hear skis scrape on the ice or the light goes flat, I can forget that I have been skiing for years at many mountains and I can do it.

VIDEO:  Why to Ski and Stay at Banff Sunshine Village

Sophia Faller has been teaching skiing at Banff Sunshine Village for 2 years and was at Lake Louise Resort and Gondola for three years before that. She is spending two days with me to show me around the three mountains and give me a few pointers! Her teaching style is to add tools to attack different ski conditions and use great metaphors like stepping down the stair case so you can understand what your body is meant to do.

Ski Banff May 2018During our first day we skied at Wawa, up the Great (Continental) Divide where we were in two provinces in one run and to the harder part of the three mountains, Goat’s Eye Mountain. The most challenging section of the mountain is not open right now due to spring conditions in May. Safety is paramount at every ski mountain and it is no different here on my first trip to ski in Canada.

I can see Delirium Dive which is inside the boundaries of the resort and has restricted entry. You must wear a transceiver to enter and you should be with your ski buddy and carry avalanche gear. Maybe someday I am going to ski there.

Lisa Niver and Sophia Faller at Banff SunshineMy goal is to go helicopter skiing and cat skiing next season. That was my goal this season but the snow in Utah did not cooperate on the trip where I had planned to cat ski and then I got a bit afraid that I was not ready yet.

With Sophia, I learned that my next step is to take an avalanche course so I know how to use a beacon. I would go with an instructor into Delirium Dive but I want to know how to use the tools and be prepared. Sophia has given me another goal to come back and ski the chutes. I like to know the steps to reach my goal because it feels less overwhelming. I know I can do it if I just keep going.

It is a mental choice. I am strong enough and I have been practicing. I still need more days on snow but I also need to believe in my abilities. Sophia gives a ten week class which meets once a week and often the goal is to take strong blue skiers to the next level of skill and confidence and at the end they ski the shoots.

What if you believed you could do anything you tried?

What would your goal be?

Banff Sunshine Village Photo by Lisa Niver

Sunshine Mountain Lodge is a family owned mountain side hotel which is only reachable by gondola. Banff Sunshine’s 2018 season ended this year on May 21, 2018. They will reopen in November 2019. Will you be here? The Ski Team is ready to welcome you and help you take your skiing to the next level.

GEAR: Blizzard Black Pearl from SkiBig3

I took the train from Vancouver to Banff and then skied at Banff Sunshine Village. I rented my ski clothes and gear from SkiBig3. I was thrilled with the top skis. I have used Black Pearls at several resorts and they are phenomenal skis. The clothes were perfect and the service was superb.

STAY: Sunshine Mountain Lodge

Gondola is open until 5:30pm.

I loved my room which is the only property with ski-in/ski-out in all of Banff. Sunrise from my room was gorgeous over the ski mountain. It was so much fun to stay overnight at the top of the world. The food is fantastic and the room was really comfortable. It was great to stroll through the building to dinner and breakfast and be able to be first on the mountain.

EAT: Eagles Nest, Chimney Corner, Mad Trappers. There are many choices at Banff Sunshine Village.

TRANSFER: How to get here? Fly into Calgary and it is a 90 minute car or bus transfer to the mountain, a 20min gondola ride to the top, and your luggage will be transferred up and down seamlessly! I arrived in Banff on the Rocky Mountaineer Train

Lisa Niver skiing at Banff Sunshine Village

More from We Said Go Travel.

 

Jewish Choco-Travel Tips

Choco-dar first erupted on our multi-country circuit of Europe in a VW van. That adult onset, self-diagnosed radar for chocolate experiences led us serendipitously to many wonderful chocolate discoveries and surprises. In the process I learned some chocolate travel tips. Chocolate travel generated the book and the website that I came to call On the Chocolate Trail. It all started with travel. Chocolate is a migrant food and the first Jews in the business were refugees from the Spanish Inquisition. Consider building your travels to places where there are particularly interesting Jewish chocolate stories, such as Bayonne (France), Israel, Liege (Belgium), and Courtelary, (Switzerland).

So here are a few delicious tips for fun chocolate exploration, I encourage you to exercise your own choco-dar as you forge your own chocolate trail.

Tip #1: Plan

Plan your adventures before departure. Check On the Chocolate Trail for a list of worldwide chocolate festivals, museums and tours. Do an online search for chocolate in the towns, countries, and regions where you will be traveling. If possible head to chocolate centers. We aimed for chocolate hubs such as Belgium, France, Mexico, Spain, and Switzerland.

Tip #2: Stock Up

Items for storing your chocolate purchases and samples may be packed ahead or picked up at your destination. Carry an insulated bag or two, especially in hot climates. Keep a supply of small plastic bags to protect each find separately and a marking pen to identify. Alternatively, take a photo to provide a visual record, with date/time/location stamp.

Tip #3: Practice Choco-dar

While on the road, stay alert to chocolate events, treats, information, and more as you wander and enjoy. It was choco-dar that led us to a local chocolate festival in Turin, Italy. Choco-dar raised my head from my reading just in time to notice the international headquarters of Valhrona Chocolate as we drove through the small town of Tain L’Hermitage, France. While crossing the Alps into Italy, my choco-dar found the factory store for Venchi Chocolate.

Tip #4: Inquire

Search out local specialties as you explore. Also, it is worth asking the chocolate shop staff for their favorites and whether samples are available. I learned about the mendiants and chocolate fish of France this way.

Tip #5: Buy Local

Check out local groceries in addition to specialty chocolate stores. Some chocolates will be less expensive in local markets.

Tip #6: Record

Keep a journal of what you have tasted, where, your experiences, and what you thought of it.

Tip #7: Collect

Collect pretty wrappers as souvenirs of your trip.

Most of all, enjoy!

Who is the Top Female Travel Blogger? #Travel1k May 30, 2018

Thank you #travel1k Top 1000+ Travel Blogs for your list! I am so excited and honored to be #5 of the top 1000+ Travel blogs and the TOP FEMALE TRAVEL BLOGGER!

 

Lisa Niver Top Female Travel Blogger May 30 2018 #Travel1k

Rank Travel Blogger #travel1k score
1.   Profile Image Matt Matt 96.84
2.   Profile Image Charles McCool (McCool Travel) 93.82
3.   Profile Image Rick Griffin 90.62
4.   Profile Image Andrea Pizzato 87.31
5.   Profile Image Lisa Ellen Niver 83.72

Click here to see the full list May 30, 2018

 

#Travel1k We Said Go Travel #5 Top Travel Blog May 30 2018

More about Lisa:

After exploring 99 countries and sailing for seven years on the high seas, Lisa Niver is ready for more unique active adventures! Find her talking travel on KTLA TV and her We Said Go Travel videos with over 1.8 million views on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and YouTube. Her stories include Dutch designer villas for Luxury Magazine, interviewing Fabien Cousteau for Delta Sky, skiing with the blind for Sierra Magazine and writing about WWII for Smithsonian and Saturday Evening Post. Her 2018 publications include American Way (American Airlines), Robb Report and Wharton Magazine.
Her latest projects are a book, “Brave Rebel: 50 New Adventures Before 50,” and Facebook Live for USA Today 10best. She has run 13 Travel Writing Awards publishing nearly 2000 writers from 75 countries and the first We Said Go Travel Photo Competition received over 500 entries in summer 2017! She has over 90,000 followers on social media and is verified on both Twitter and Facebook. We Said Go Travel was read in 222 countries in 2017 and listed as #9 on the top 1000+ travel blog list on Valentine’s Day 2018.
Lisa Niver is part of the Bixel Exchange Startup LAunch with the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce for her website and tech media innovation with We Said Go Travel. Niver was recently invited to apply for the inaugural class of Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, Powered by Techstars for Fall 2018.
She was a finalist in two categories in 2017 for the 59th Southern California Journalism Awards and received 2nd place for her Jewish Journal story: “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers.”
Lisa Niver is #5 on top 1000 Travel blog List

Croatia: The Trending Wedding Destination

Whenever destination weddings come up in conversations with my wedding clients, the countries that usually pop up first are Paris or Italy which are known as the most romantic places for lovers and are the usual Countries that inspire romantic visions. Lately though, couples have been asking more about off the beaten track destinations which got me doing some research about the latest trends that are NOT France or Italy of course, and Croatia kept popping up as trending. In case you were wondering… The country is situated just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy. It’s no wonder that it has the perfect climate for making wine and olive oil! Well there is no better way to get the down low about a country, than from a dynamo travel agent with many years of experience and hails from Croatia!

I have followed Julia’s travel pictures for a while now on FB and seen her posts about a variety of exotic Countries, but her pictures of Croatia really got my attention. I am just a pushover for blue waters and bluer skies! She told me about the stunning beauty of Croatia’s coastal areas and judging by the pictures I saw online and on her website, I could not agree more!

Apparently Croatia is fast becoming a leading wedding and honeymoon destination, which is no surprise considering its historical cities, vibrant culture, breathtaking scenery and fairytale islands, which all combine to make it a gorgeous location for a wedding abroad.

An ideal wedding needs at least ideal weather and Croatia has an abundance of sunny days. The Adriatic coast has a Mediterranean climate with cool, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Kind of like Los Angeles. This means that Croatia gives you beautiful weather on the coast throughout the whole year.

Additional points in Croatia’s favor are excellent value for money, safe cities, the tourist resorts are extremely clean, it definitely has the WOW factor effect every bride wants at her wedding and English is widely spoken in the cities which is always helpful. In addition the destination wedding industry there has a proven track record. Beautiful, clean and stylish are all adjectives that describe Croatia.

If you are a foodie you are in luck.  You cannot go wrong with Croatia’s gastronomic delights. Fresh Adriatic fish and seafood combined with homegrown vegetables and fruits; not to mention perfectly balanced spices, will reassure  you that the food for your wedding will leave your guests very pleased!

With all this amazing food you will also expect good wine to accompany those scrumptious dishes! Whether you prefer white, red or rosé – Croatian wines are some of the best in the world! Istria’s signature wine varieties are Malvazija and Teran. Malvazija, an easy-drinking white wine with good minerality and apricot and apple notes, pairs well with seafood dishes. Teran, a robust red, goes well with meat dishes including boškarin and pršut. Your wedding venue management will provide a connoisseur to help you choose the perfect wines for your meals.

This gorgeous country has become quite a festival destination over the years. Ultra festival, Hideout, Electric elephant, Fresh island, Soundwave, Sonus, Dimensions, Outlook…  some of these could be a fun start to your wedding celebrations, or…. be the ideal bachelorette party or girls night out!

With all the festivals, film events, music events, folklore events and carnivals, yacht parties and cocktails, your wedding could be one continuous celebration and become an adventure your guests will never forget. Just imagine the photos on Insta showing a gallery of breathtaking locations with crystal clear turquoise water surrounding them? Imagine the envy from everyone who didn’t join you!

As it would anywhere, your budget will depend on many variable factors; the region you would like to get married in, the time of year, the number of guests attending, your personal tastes … and on and on. Although Croatia is still less expensive than many other European countries such as the UK, France or Italy, do not expect to have a full wedding for pennies.

However, what comes as standard, are breathtaking and luxury ceremony and reception venues (near the crystal clear sea), delicious haute cuisine, amazing wine and the summer breeze!

The best dates for a wedding are between April and October (June and September are great for milder weather and less crowds). Its natural beauty however, is just one of the many reasons why so many couples are choosing to marry here.

Croatia is a truly a best kept wedding destination secret!

I am betting once there, you will also want to spend some time exploring this beautiful country as part of, if not your entire honeymoon, as it is considered one of the hottest travel destinations. From what Julia told me the country’s appeal is its unique combination of culture, history, cuisine, accessibility and affordability. To me, these are all the essentials that makes for a great wedding abroad.

Don’t hesitate to stop and ask the locals for their favourite konobas (taverns), which are casual establishments, where you’ll find some of the most authentic cuisine. Julia recommends you try simply grilled fish drizzled with piquant Istrian olive oil, garnished with parsley and paired with a glass of crisp, dry malvazija wine. Yummy food, delicious wine, summer breezes and those views! What is not to love!

Croatia might be one of the most overlooked destination wedding for the past few years, but it looks like it’s making it’s way to the top, as couples are paying more attention to this gorgeous travel destination. It offers many amazing venues and talented wedding vendors so you will have all the help you need with planning and finding all the vendors you need.

Croatia has been heralded as the “Next Riviera” and with its stunning beaches and islands it makes an affordable alternative to the pricier Mediterranean. The fairytale Medieval cities, warm friendly locals, magnificent cuisine and especially the fact that it has has not yet been “over-touristed” makes it an even more desirable destination and it has an excellent tourism infrastructure that suits both adventurous travellers and those who need a degree of comfort in their planning. Guests who are invited to a wedding in Croatia will be thanking you and their lucky stars for ever!

It is a truly magical country and will be a great choice for your wedding. There is so much more to tell about this often overlooked wedding or travel destination, so don’t hesitate to click on the link below for Julia’s blog about Croatia and contact her directly if you need more information.  http://www.juliastravels.com/croatia/my-croatia-3/

BTW – for those of you who are Games of Thrones fans… Ever since the city of Dubrovnik was selected as the filming location for the fictional city of King’s Landing in Game of Thrones, travelers and digital nomads have been flocking to this seaside country known for its rugged beauty and uniqueness.

Last but not least… if you are Jewish and want to get married in Croatia but want to have the ceremony in a synagogue… there is a small but active community in the country.

Warmly;

Awesome April News 2018 with We Said Go Travel

Awesome April News 2018 with We Said Go Travel:

Thank you for all of your support for We Said Go Travel and me. According to Buzzoole, the reach of my site and social media is 174k. Buzzoole 174K reach We Said Go Travel

I am now planning and booking travel! Where do you want to wander? Find more information about me and my luxury travel advising as an independent affiliate of Cruise and Resort, Inc with Virtuoso Luxury Travel Network on my new microsite!

What is Virtuoso? Virtuoso is a network of the best luxury travel agencies, with more than 17,500 advisors worldwide. We represent the best of the best in travel, with a portfolio of nearly 1,700 preferred partners – top hotels, cruise lines, tour operators, and more. Our advisors use their global connections to plan the most memorable experiences for their clients, from weekend getaways to dream vacations. 

Why Use a Travel Advisor?

A Virtuoso travel advisor elevates every trip. They know how to get the best value for your time and money, and, thanks to their global connections, they can VIP you at hotels, on cruise lines, on tours, and more.  

Are you looking for where to travel next?
Here are some ideas:

Lisa in the News and Media:

Find all my article links on my LisaNiver website.

Lisa Niver at the Grand Canyon with Maverick Helicopters

WHERE CAN YOU FIND MY TRAVEL VIDEOS?

Here are links to my video channels on YouTubeAmazon Fire Tv, and Roku Player. My views on Roku alone are now over one million! My total video views across all platforms is now over 1,795,974,285 (1.8M)! ! Thank you for your support! What should I do to celebrate when I get to 2 MILLION views?

Recent videos:

Video #755: Sky Diving for my birthday with GoJump Oceanside!

Video #767: Scuba Diving with Scuba Diving with Bull Sharks

Four new videos from my recent #AccessExcess journey to Las Vegas:

Ready to stay and play in Vegas? Click here for rates and more information about The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

My fortune cookies said “Don’t pursue happiness – create it.”  and Of all our human resources, the most precious is the desire to improve.”

Thank you for your support. Lisa

Discover more on my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTube, and at LisaNiver.com. My social media following is now over 100,000 and I am verified on both Twitter and Facebook.

 

TRAVEL PHOTO AWARD:

All of the entries from our first Travel Photo award have now been scheduled. After July, when all the entries are published, we will announce the winners.  Thank you to everyone who participated and to our judges, Gary Arndt from Everything Everywhere and Jeana from Surf and Sunshine. We hope you will submit a photo in our next award.

TRAVEL WRITING AWARDS: 

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our 13 We Said Go Travel Competitions! Find the winners for all of them here.

Lisa Niver at the Grand Canyon by Helicopter

Cocktails and Motherhood

When my son turned 21 we went out for a drink. It was strange to have a cocktail with him and it didn’t feel as cool as I thought it would. I watched him drink a beer and all I could see was a baby drinking. It actually made me a little sad. When you have a drink with your kid you are forced to see them as a grown up, which is bittersweet. It was uncomfortable to drink with him, but at the same time I was proud my delicious baby was now a remarkable man. I am blessed to be this human’s mother and I thank God for every single moment we have together, but drinking with him was a hard pill to swallow.

I turned 52 last week and went to San Francisco for the weekend with my son. We walked, ate great food, and had a few drinks. I love a cocktail, as my readers know, and since it was my birthday, I enjoyed several libations. I started with a drink at the airport and ended with a drink at the airport. My son drank too, but it was different this time. He was still my baby, but also my friend, and it was lovely. He isn’t a big drinker, but enjoys big boy drinks. His cocktails of choice are a Negroni or a Whiskey Sour. I think they taste like cough medicine.

We sat in great bars and talked about life, love, politics, and plans. We laughed and debated, and were also happily quiet together. I love him very much and he is simply my favorite human being. He makes me happy. He makes me think. He makes me grateful. He makes me want to be better. He makes me feel better. He heals me. He eases my sorrow. He is my sunshine. He is my closest confidant. I trust him. Being a mom is hard. Being a single mom is really hard. Having a 22-year-old son allows me to celebrate not only my child, but also myself.

I have spent over twenty-two years being his mother and he is a wonderful human being both because of me, and in spite of me. I have had moments of real greatness as a mother, along with moments of epic failure, but all of them led to now, and now is good. My son is terrific and he loves me. He enjoys my company, asks me for advice, heeds my advice, and makes good choices. I won’t make a habit of having cocktails with my boy, but when it does happen I will embrace the moment. We worked hard to get here and having a cocktail with my son is all about keeping the faith.

 

 

Marvelous March News 2018 with We Said Go Travel

Marvelous March News 2018 with We Said Go Travel: Happy Spring, Happy Easter and Happy Passover to me!

Lisa at Google for International Women's Day How have you been celebrating Women’s History Month? I went to Google International Women’s Day for Women Techmakers and it was amazing! I also went to an event with Bixel Exchange about Diversity and Inclusion and Designing Equality – Advocacy, Advancement and Action for Women in the Workplace.

I was invited to a workshop at AT&T to learn about taking 360 and Virtual Reality Videos. I cannot wait to try it out on my next trip.

In Las Vegas this month, I stayed at The Cosmopolitan Hotel. I cannot wait to share photos, video and all of the “just the right amount of wrong that happened!

Did you want to know more about my adventures in Utah:  A Festival of Food at Firewood and Best Meals in Park City.

New Articles:

American Airlines Tweet about Lisa Niver's article

 

Lisa in the News and Media:

Find all my article links on my LisaNiver website.

 

WHERE CAN YOU FIND MY TRAVEL VIDEOS?

Here are links to my video channels on YouTubeAmazon Fire Tv, and Roku Player. My views on Roku alone are now over one million! My total video views across all platforms is now over 1,736,974,919 (1.7M)! ! Thank you for your support! What should I do to celebrate when I get to 2 MILLION views?

Recent videos:

Lisa Niver Scuba Diving with Bull Sharks

 

Video #755: Sky Diving for my birthday with GoJump Oceanside!

Video #762: How Do You Create Freedom On The Mountain?

 

Video #766: Make Your Candy Dreams Come True

Video #767: Scuba Diving with Scuba Diving with Bull Sharks

My fortune cookies said “Do What Makes You Happy!”  and All things are difficult before they are easy.”

Thank you for your support. Lisa

Discover more on my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTube, and at LisaNiver.com. My social media following is now over 100,000 and I am verified on both Twitter and Facebook.

 

TRAVEL PHOTO AWARD:

We are now publishing the entries from our Travel Photo award! After all the entries are published, we will announce the winners. This will take several months. Thank you to everyone who participated and to our judges, Gary Arndt from Everything Everywhere and Jeana from Surf and Sunshine. We hope you will submit a photo in our next award.

Want to make your own video? Use code WESAIDGO10 for 10% on your project. Lisa loves working with EpicMakers and they were a sponsor for our first Travel Photo Award.

TRAVEL WRITING AWARD: 

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our 13 We Said Go Travel Competitions! Find the winners for all of them here. We hope you will participate in our 2018 Awards.

Deer Valley

Are you looking for the Best Meals in Park City, Utah?

Are you looking for the Best Meals in Park City, Utah?Tupelo

Carl, Heather and I agree with Emily Summers from Deer Valley Resort and highly recommend the hot Buttermilk biscuits with honey butter at Tupelo! We cannot wait to eat them and everything else again!

Carl and Heather raved about the Beef with Barley made with Nirman Ranch Sirloin which they both said was nearly like risotto! They loved it. I had the tasty Mary’s Airline Chicken which had great spices and was so juicy. This chicken is cooked by Sous-vide which uses hot water immersion to cook food slowly over a long period and then you have succulent and tender meat.

Next time we are eating the tempting desserts FIRST!

Thank you to Chef Matthew Harris, the entire team and especially our server, Sean O.

Are you looking for the Best Meals in Park City, Utah?Waldorf Astoria Park City

After skiing all day, are you wondering where to dine?

Heather, Carl and I loved POWDER at the Waldorf Astoria Park CityThe Red bicycle wheat and beer batter bread with black Hawaiian sea salt and Wisconsin butter was a delicious beginning. I loved the carrot ginger citrus bisque!

We shared the simple artisan greens and the wood grilled cauliflower. It was hard for me to share a taste of my buttermilk fried organic chicken, because it is so outrageously good! Heather loved the guajilli rubbed buffalo tenderloin and Carl highly recommended his unique Ora king salmon from Tasman, New Zealand. See more photos on Facebook.

Thank you to Chef Michael Zachman, Nick, Ryan and of course, Danielle!

“Powder is the ideal location to gather for breakfast, lunch, après, dinner and drinks with unique fresh and flavorful menu offerings for the entire family. We offer indoor private dining and additional outdoor season seating with views of the pool and scenic outdoor courtyard.”

Congrats Waldorf Astoria Park City

They have been voted the United States’ Best Ski Hotel and Top Three World’s Best Ski Hotel 2017 at the World Ski Awards™ ceremony in Kitzbühel, Austria. The World Ski Awards™ is the only global initiative to recognize, reward and celebrate excellence in ski tourism. This year, a record number of votes were cast by ski consumers from across the globe – over 1.5 million!

Are you looking for the Best Meals in Park City, Utah?HIGH WEST DISTILLERY 

People often ask me, “Can you drink in Utah?” YES YOU CAN!

At High West, you can have Whiskey that is distilled in Utah and was named Whiskey Distiller of the Year in 2016! They make craft spirits which you can find in 49 states and internationally but it might be best if you come in and taste them yourself with some fantastic food. I love that for Pioneer Day they make the historic Mormon whiskey recipe! YES! Mormons used to drink and have their own whiskey recipe.

Carl and Heather loved the smoked cheddar, bacon and jalapeno mac but my favorite was the warm corn and pepper salad.  What else to eat? The Bison Burger with caramelized onions and the chicken schnitzel. YUM! Oh and try the pretzels too!

HighWest FACTS:

2006 High West Becomes Utah’s First Legal Distillery since 1870. Yippee Ki-Yay!

2009 High West Saloon in Park City opens

2015 High West Distillery on Blue Sky opens - Marks the beginning of a new High West era.

2016 High West is Named Distiller of the Year by Whisky Advocate

Are you looking for the Best Meals in Park City, Utah?

FIREWOOD

 Whether you live near Main Street, Park City, Utah or you are in town to ski and celebrate, I can promise the food, service and company will be fantastic at Firewood Park City. We chose to go there to celebrate my very first art sale at Artworks Park City. Carl, Heather and I were ready to enjoy our evening but were unprepared for the great lengths the team would go to accomodate us. I have several food challenges which were no problem at Firewood. We dined on incredible food and even tasted new things that quickly became favorites.

 

Wondering about some of my other favorites? Read my article about Amazing Meals, my story in Trivago and watch my Park City videos.

More about my skiing adventures with National Ability Center in

Ski Utah

Sierra Magazine

USA Today 10 best

Deer Valley

We loved skiing at DEER VALLEY RESORT!

First published on We Said Go Travel 

Looking for Hamantashen of His Youth in Jerusalem

I’m in Machane Yehuda Market — the big shuk — in Jerusalem — just as I am every week. The “oznei Haman” have arrived. In Israel, hamantashen are called “Haman’s ears” and with a bit of imagination, I can almost make sense of that. Every year, I wander from bakery to bakery during the weeks preceding Purim, and I end up carbohydratedly disappointed. The hamantashen of my youth are nowhere to be found.

The bakeries in Jerusalem, and especially in the shuk, make amazing hamantashen. You want hamantashen filled with halvah? We have that. Chocolate dough hamantashen filled with chocolate? Yeah, we have that, too. How about date filling? Poppy seed? Yup, they’re all here. But like Proust taking a bite of a madeleine, I want that hamantashen that takes me back. Way back. I want to travel back about 50 years.

When I was a child growing up on the South Shore of Long Island, all the way out in Suffolk County (yenevelt — a faraway place, as my grandfather called it) our community was a tightknit enclave of Jewish immigrants from Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, all seeking a suburban life far from the city.

My parents were deeply involved in the synagogue. My mother was Sisterhood president. My dad taught the confirmation class and was the youth group director of Temple Sinai of Bay Shore.

As youth group director, organizing the annual Purim carnival was his and the teenagers’ responsibility. Games were devised, booths were constructed, prizes were purchased, food was ordered.

To play games or obtain food, guests had to purchase tickets. “Five dollars’ worth is all you get,” my mother would tell us. But I was not going to waste my precious tickets on mundane activities like “Shave the Balloon” or a terrifying Senior Youth Group “Fun House” that would culminate in me putting my hand in a bucket of pitted olives and being told they were eyeballs. I spent my money on the hamantashen.

Without warning or advance notice, the yeast-dough hamantashen fell out of fashion.

Fresh from Stanley’s Bakery (which is still on Main Street) were platters of hamantashen that were the real deal. No halvah. No chocolate. And they were huge. The filling — cherry, prune or apricot —  oozed from the seams. And the dough? The dough was a golden yeast dough and not this crumbly cookie stuff that tries to pass for hamantashen. Like the Danish my father always brought home on Sunday morning —  only better.

Without warning or advance notice, the yeast-dough hamantashen fell out of fashion. They disappeared, never to be found again. Like those Long Island Purim carnivals, they became a distant memory.

Nonetheless, I persevere in my search. Like a relentless explorer, I wander through Jerusalem’s alleys and byways in search of a cherry-filled, yeast-dough hamantashen.

Recently, at one of my favorite bakeries in the shuk, I asked the owner (in Hebrew): “You ever make hamantashen with a yeast dough?”

With a wave of his hand, he responded, “You want a yeast dough? Buy a challah.”

This year, the search is over. I’m making them at home.

Happy Purim!


Before making aliyah, Cantor Evan Kent served Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles for 25 years. In Jerusalem, he is on the faculty of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

How to go from City Slicker to Cow Girl

Want to Saddle up with me at Tanque Verde Ranch?

During my first horsemanship fundamentals course, I did not forget to breathe. That happened the following day when I took the same beginning class again. At Tanque Verde Dude Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, I was willing to get back on a horse. I had been terrified as a child when an adult took me riding and cantered on the horse. I had been promised we would only walk. I remember grabbing at her and screaming to get off but she just laughed and kept going. I did not ride again for decades.

Tanque Verde: From City Slicker to Cow GirlYears later, I was again promised that we would only walk. This time I was in Costa Rica and again I was on a horse that was running away with me. My friend, Janine, said, “I cannot get you off of that horse until you stop screaming!” I yelled back at her, “I cannot stop screaming until you get me off of this horse.” Yes Dallas, we had a problem.

I did continue to ride that day in Costa Rica on a decidedly more docile horse but I remained so scared that at one point, my contact lens fell out of my eye and onto my jeans. I was no longer blinking and my contact simply dried up and landed on my leg.

VIDEO: From City Slicker to Cow Girl at Tanque Verde Dude Ranch

So it was with trepidation that I agreed to try again. Braelyn, the wrangler, helped me get on my horse, Frankie, and explained the basics to myself and four other riders in the arena. We were to walk our horses around some barrels and in-between cones. I was focused on the facts that I was up high in the air and there was no seatbelt on a horse. I did as she requested and walked my horse around the arena. Towards the end of our beginner class, Braelyn came over and asked if I wanted to trot with my horse. I said, “No. Thank you. I am good.” She said, “Everyone else has done it so I just want to know if you want to try it.” I said, “Not today.”

Tanque Verde: From City Slicker to Cow GirlI had no idea that there would be accidental trotting the following day. I showed up the next morning for Horsemanship Fundamentals and reminded Braelyn and the other wranglers that I wanted a nice calm horse. The class that day was much larger and we had two wranglers with us. As the children were in the closest arena, we had to walk on our horses to the next arena. I was told to lean back as we went down the incline so I would stay on my horse. I was scared but I did it and Stetson, my horse, seemed to know what to do. Someone asked me if I audited the beginner class the day before as most people were eager to get to Intermediate Horsemanship or Loping and I was taking fundamentals again.

Tanque Verde: From City Slicker to Cow GirlWhen Nicole and Courtney told me to walk my horse around the cones, all of a sudden we were going so fast. I kept repeating, “Something is happening!” I did not scream but I was very surprised. Nicole came over on her horse and said, “Breathe. You have to breathe. Take deep breaths down to your pockets. Feel your pockets on the saddle.” I was not sure what happened exactly but Nicole said that my horse knew I was unsure of myself and was taking advantage and went trotting toward the barrel.

I was able to control Stetson during the rest of the session and even noticed how beautiful it was in the desert. I signed up for the afternoon walk ride as I was promised that we would only be walking and there would be no trotting.

Tanque Verde: From City Slicker to Cow GirlWhen I got off my horse, it was not my most graceful walk back to the room. Another rider told me, “Motrin is your friend. We call it ranch tic-tacs.” I stretched and did not need any painkillers but I enjoyed the camaraderie of ranch life.

I loved when I was at lunch and someone told me, “I am going to saddle up right now so I will talk to you later.” I realized I did not have to go on another ride. I took two classes and I was getting over my fears. But I decided I wanted more time in the saddle to feel more comfortable.

Tanque Verde: From City Slicker to Cow GirlFor my first walk ride, my horse, Casey, was not renown as the best behaved. He did not like another horse right behind him or he might kick the offending intruder. He needed his space. I needed a space right near the teacher and I went on this ride right behind Wrangler Taylor. She was the perfect leader for me because she told us all about the cactus and the environment and gave many helpful tips about leaning back when we were going down and leaning forward as we were going up. If I had known we would be traveling up to Cowboy Lookout, I might have chickened out but Casey and I went one step at a time and I remembered to breathe!

The entire team of wranglers was on a first name basis with all 170 horses and extremely skilled in managing the groups of horses and riders. I was working on keeping my heels down and toes up and remembering to enjoy the moment.

I took a class with Hope, the head wrangler, and learned about her journey to the ranch. She and her family used to rescue horses in Oregon and she studied Animal and Comparative Biology of Equine at University of Arizona. Her knowledge about horses was extensive. I learned about King who is a percheron or French Draft Horse and looks like a clydesdale. This giant horse can pull thousands of pounds. I learned that a bigger horse still has the same number of vertebrae in their back so they cannot carry more weight on their backs. The limit for any rider at Tanque Verde Dude Ranch is 250 pounds.

I learned about thoroughbred horses but did not realize I would ride one the following day. These horses are more long legged and built for speed.

Did you know that horses have no muscle below their knee? They only have tendons and ligaments similar to a cow. If your horse has a healthy foot, they are a healthy horse which is why horses need their hooves trimmed and have a “shoe” nailed on. It does not hurt the horse and keeps them safe.

I learned some quirky facts about horses:

*Horses cannot throw up

*There are only male horses at Tanque Verde—-they are all geldings

*Horses do have to lay down to sleep. They can have a nap standing up but must lie down for REM sleep.

For my second walk ride, I was on Sticks, a Thoroughbred horse, and again I walked right behind the wrangler, this time with Sarah. Braelyn made sure I had a good horse and as our group was eleven riders she was with us too.

This time when we got to Cowboy Lookout, I felt very comfortable. My horse was very tall and I was breathing into my pockets. I learned so much about riding and about sitting in the saddle. I can highly recommend Tanque Verde Dude Ranch and being out in the Tucson desert.

Tanque Verde: From City Slicker to Cow GirlThere is so much to do at Tanque Verde. I had an evening stroll through the desert with Marcia from the Nature Center and learned about how to use a barrel cactus as a compass, when saguaro grow their arms and which plants are native to Arizona. I met Cal the 86 year old artist who gives the afternoon watercolor class and is part of the evening marketplace once a week. During the evening rattlesnake viper class, I learned that dinosaurs were really more like birds and probably had feathers.

There is something for everyone here. You can fish, swim, hike, play tennis or mountain bike at Tanque Verde. You can participate in Team Penning and round-up cows, you can take a sunset ride or sit on your porch and star gaze. There are private lessons, half day rides and two hour loping rides in the National Park. You can sign up on the website tvrfun or with the manager at dinner or just call the office. You can participate as much or as little as makes you happy.

Tanque Verde: From City Slicker to Cow GirlPersonally, I loved watching the sunset when the sky looks like a painting but I also loved the Sunday night homemade bread.  Every day there is a very good new flavor to try like Green Chile and Cheddar, Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia and Honey wheat. Do not miss the Cowboy cookout on Weds or Sat night and taking a horse or mountain bike to Thursday or Sunday brunch at the Old Homestead.

Tanque Verde Ranch is 2400 feet above sea level so it is cooler than Phoenix. It is about 70 miles from the Mexican border and eight hours drive from Los Angeles. There are over one million people living in Tucson but you could never tell that at the Ranch.

Spending time at Tanque Verde is a great way to relax. The desert air, amazing sunsets and fantastic food are a terrific complement to the wonderful wrangler team and all the amazing activities. The children looked well cared for during their horseback riding lessons and activities and were thrilled to eat their meals in the kids-only room in the dining hall.

Thank you to the entire team at Tanque Verde Ranch for taking such great care of me! I cannot wait for another chance to saddle up! Hope to meet you riding into the sunset someday soon.

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Tanque Verde: From City Slicker to Cow Girl

This post first appeared on We Said Go Travel

5 Gadgets That Will Help You Stay Healthy While You Travel

Do you plan on traveling around the world this year? If so, I’m sure you’ll want to stay healthy at all times. It’s not a pleasant experience when you’re sick in foreign countries. Travel insurance won’t be able to help you out.

By the time you need it something will already be wrong. Instead, you should rely on gadgets to keep you safe. Especially those small enough to squeeze into your backpack. Let’s discuss a few good ones you’ll want to take with you.

1. Wear The Right Watch On Your Wrist

 

These days, a good watch doesn’t just tell you the time. They can all do something a little special. Have you looked at the affordable watches for nurses they’re investing? You’ll love the features built into them.

Some come with a special secondhand designed to keep track of your vitals. You can turn to your watch if you think something is wrong. I’m sure you know it’s better to seek help before disaster strikes.

2. Start Using Noise Cancelling Earphones

 

What will you do if you have to sit beside a screaming child on a bus? By the time you reach your destination your head will be sore. In fact, any time you have to endure loud noises it will affect you.

If you wear noise canceling earphones you’ll be able to keep the external sounds out. Listening to music is also more enjoyable when you can actually hear it. It’s a crucial piece of kit when you’re traveling.

3. Always Keep A Backup Battery With You

 

Walk down the street and you’ll see everyone staring at their phones. It’s the same when you go traveling, which is kind of sad. If you’re out all day there is a good chance your phone battery will die.

What will you do if you need to call the emergency services? It’s a situation you never want to find yourself in. Carry a small backup battery around with you and you’ll always be able to call an ambulance.

4. Reading Your Books On A Kindle

 

You can’t carry hundreds of physical books with you. If you enjoy reading you’ll be forced to read digital books while you’re away. Don’t try to read them on your smartphone or tablet if you value your eyesight.

If you stare at a bright screen all day you’ll end up in tremendous pain. Your eyes will sting so much you won’t be able to see right. It’s worth investing in a Kindle Paperwhite because it’s similar to reading a paper book.

5. A Filtered Water Bottle Is A Must

 

If you don’t drink enough water you’ll end up in big trouble. Drink unfiltered water in certain countries and it’s nearly as bad. You’ll be curled up in bed wishing you were still dying of thirst.

When you’re on your adventures you want to feel safe when drinking water 24 hours per day. The only way that will happen is if you carry an effectively filtered water bottle around with you.

You’ll Be Able To Come Up With More

 

Think carefully and you’ll be able to come up with even more gadgets you should take. Your health should be your number one priority. Hopefully, these suggestions have sparked your imagination.

Montreal: A Winter Wonderland

Mount Royal Park offers a spectacular view of Montreal.

In the days leading up to my trip to Montreal with my husband, I watched the weather forecast with increasing dread, bracing myself for highs less than 0 – and yet despite the cold, Montreal proved to be the perfect destination for a holiday getaway.

With an apartment near the historic Old Town as our home base, we were within walking distance of museums, restaurants, bars, and the famous park at Mount Royal. We even took a day tour to Quebec City that began and ended just a few minutes’ walk from our apartment. While French is the first language of many residents, most were also English speakers, so it was very easy to get around.

Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts was one of our first stops. The museum’s extensive permanent collection is free and does not require a ticket. One of its buildings is devoted exclusively to Quebec and Canadian art, ranging from contemporary Inuit sculpture to 18th-century painting and silverware.

Montreal’s Barbie Expo features dolls in traditional clothing from around the world, such as these dresses from Peru.

 

Around the corner, a shopping mall houses the Barbie Expo. This collection includes over 1000 dolls dressed in traditional costumes from around the world. There are also dresses by well-known designers such as Christian Dior and Vera Wang, dresses reflecting popular brands such as Coca Cola, and beloved movie characters.

The Montreal Biodome in Olympic Village showcases plants and animals, such as this puffin, from various climate zones.

 

Other museums include the Biodome, located in Olympic Village. A botanic garden and planetarium are nearby, and a combined ticket can be purchased for all three attractions or any combination of two.

We also visited the Pointe-a-Calliere museum complex, part of which is built directly on top of the foundations of a 17th-century fort. A temporary exhibit there detailed the illustrious history of the Montreal Canadiens and other local and national hockey teams.

The Notre-Dame Basilica’s breathtaking interior has a beautifully carved altar.

 

Even more impressive than the museums, the Notre Dame Basilica is an architectural gem not to be missed. Spectacular stained-glass windows, a masterfully carved altar and an organ with 7,000 pipes are just some of its crowning features.

When it comes to food, Montreal has numerous specialties – in particular, it’s known for smoked meat, bagels and poutine. The most recognizable location for smoked meat sandwiches is Schwartz’s Deli, but a local recommended skipping the line and heading to the Main Deli Steakhouse right across the street. We enjoyed a signature sandwich of tender, flavorful smoked meat piled on rye bread with mustard.

Fairmount Bagel is one of the city’s top bagel shops, and we stopped by its original location after ascending Mount Royal. From the chateau at the top, we were rewarded with an awe-inspiring view of Montreal, from McGill University almost directly below to the St. Lawrence River in the distance.

Open 24 hours a day, Fairmount Bagel has no tables – just a counter, with busy bakers visible in the background. We tried the plain, cumin, and garlic varieties. All three had a crispy exterior but a soft, delightfully doughy middle. The bakery also offers crunchy sweet bagels and a selection of toppings.

In the summer, tourists can zipline over Montmorency Falls, but even in the winter the park offers spectacular views.

 

There is plenty to do in Montreal, but Quebec City, a three-hour drive away, is worth a trip. During our brief time there, we went to the famous Montmorency Falls, nearly 300 feet high and only partially frozen. A cable car brings visitors to the top of the falls, and in the summer, it’s possible to ride a zipline across the water.

In the city, we went to the 31st floor of the Marie-Guyart Building for a 360-degree panoramic view of the city, with interactive displays describing the history of notable buildings. Before leaving, we had time to explore the charming Old Town with its variety of art galleries.

The Chateau Frontenac is Quebec City’s most recognizable building.

 

The Chateau Frontenac, Quebec’s most recognizable building, also welcomes tourists to visit its art gallery and an exhibit detailing its history. In the lobby, a variety of thematically decorated Christmas trees created a festive mood.

Montreal’s gorgeous architecture makes it an exciting city to explore on foot, and a day pass for public transportation is only $10, making it easy to travel throughout the city. Although we decided against outdoor activities, sports like cross country skiing and ice skating are just a few additional options for winter visitors.

Overall, we decided we will plan our next trip to Montreal for July or August – but it’s an incredible city that we look forward to visiting again!

 

If you go:

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

1380 Sherbrooke Street, Montreal H3G 1J5

(514)285-2000

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday with extended hours on Wednesday for the Major Exhibition only

 

Barbie Expo

1455 Peel Street, Montreal H3A 1T5

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

 

Montreal Biodome

4777 Avenue Pierre-De Coubertin, Montreal H1V 1B3

(514)868-3000

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Notre-Dame Basilica

110 Notre-Dame Street West, Montreal H2Y 1T2

(514)842-2925

Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

 

Main Deli Steakhouse

3864 Boul. Saint-Laurent, Montreal H2W 1Y2

(514)843-8126

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday

 

Fairmount Bagel

Multiple Locations

(514)272-0667

5 Best Things to Do in Singapore

SONY DSC

Singapore has topped the chart as the most expensive city to live in for nearly half of the last decade. This prosperous island-state is situated at the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula in Southeast Asia. But that doesn’t mean that there are no things you can do here for free. In the following list, you will discover many great activities you can do in Singapore without opening your wallet.

Watch Wild Dolphins

 

At the Marine Park on the Sisters Island, you will find blue warm water. The clear water here makes it a great place for snorkeling and viewing the amazing biodiversity below the water surface. You can also find Singapore’s best coral reefs here. Apart from swimming and snorkeling in clean water, you may enjoy a nice picnic beneath the palm trees. Best of all, you can have a free guided tour during summer and see lots of playful dolphins.

See the Tooth Relic Buddha Temple

 

This majestic temple attracts Buddhist devotees from around the world because it is home to one of the teeth of Buddhism’s founder, Siddharta Gautama. The tooth is supposed to be on the topmost floor of the temple. As you approach the temple, you will see worshipers chanting at the ground floor. It could be a unique cultural experience for you as you will not be disturbed by the monks who lead the worship. You can also partake of the vegetarian dishes served here for free, although voluntary donations are always accepted.

Hike to the Top of Mount Faber

 

Mount Faber offers one of the most breathtaking views of the city of Singapore. But before you arrive at the second highest peak in the city, reward yourself with the scenic views of flora, fauna and city landscape as you walk up from the foot of the mountain. You will see different aspects of the rich history of the island as you trudge along and then the final bird’s eye view of the skyline will be yours at the peak of Mount Faber. If you are coming to this amazing place by car, you should stop at the Mount Faber Loop and walk up from there.

Enjoy the Hot Spring at Sembawang

 

In the northern part of Singapore, you will find the Sembawang Air Base. That’s the place where you can enjoy the soothing effect of a natural hot spring for free. The water from the hot spring is supposed to have medicinal properties so it is not uncommon to see people scooping up pails of hot spring water. The hot spring water can help to improve the condition of the skin and it may be a nice to visit before going for liposuction in Singapore. This may not be like the luxurious hot springs that most travelers are used to but it’s a great experience to have for free. If you want to enjoy a special feeling, you can lie down on the ground patiently and wait for the hot natural water to shoot unto your back.

Walk Along the Changi Coastline

 

Walk on the coastline of the Changi beach and enjoy the picturesque sunset as you take out your digital camera and take a few shots of the moment. You will also have a chance to bask in the view of the huge open sea and the ancient tall trees. The 2.2km boardwalk gives you the unique opportunity to see planes flying over your head as they prepare to land in the airport.

Those are some of the best things you can do in Singapore for free. Before you include these activities on your itinerary, take some time to read a few reviews from those who have visited recently.

Jewish Traveler: How the Digital Age is Changing Travel Currency

Travel currency has changed in this digital age. These changes are affecting everyone, including travelers within the Jewish community. Most people know how to track the exchange rate so they can trade in their cash at the right time, but the digital age has impacted this part of traveling more than some may think. Travelers can now choose discount airlines, do a flight check-in through their phones, and even book a room in a stranger’s home through shared-economy apps.

Some might find it refreshing to know that some things have not changed. For example, those who are thinking of exchanging cash might want to consider doing this in the country being visited since they usually have better rates.

Another thing that has not changed is that post office still offer some of the best rates compared to banks. There is no telling how long these realities will remain, but it is best to use them while they are available. Getting the best currency deals in today’s digital age truly depends on how much a traveler knows.

One change most savvy travelers are getting wise to is the traveling currency card. Many people are using digital cash now, and this card capitalizes on that fact. Those who use cards should find it easy to use. The purchased currency is loaded onto the card, which can be used like any other card.

There are a few things to consider when purchasing a travel currency card, some bad and some good. For one, travelers need to make sure that the locations traveled to accept the card or that there is an ATM nearby where cash can be withdrawn. This can be an inconvenience to the traveler who loves to go to remote areas, but this issue can be solved by planning ahead. Thankfully, many locations in Israel are digital-friendly, so the likelihood of cards being accepted is pretty high.

The good thing about using the travel currency card is that carrying cash is no longer necessary. This makes it easier to walk around cities or towns and not worry about someone stealing from you.

It should be noted that providers of these cards offer different perks. Some offer fraud protection while others offer policies that make it easy for the owner to recuperate his or her cash should the card be misplaced.

Some of the companies that offer these cards also offer free cash withdrawals. Clearly, this is an option that needs to be studied, but it definitely helps travelers step into this new digital age. Most of these cards allow users to log in through an online page to monitor their budget, too.

Jewish travelers who are more in touch with the digital age might be interested in knowing that cryptocurrency is targeting their community in the form of the BitCoen. Yes, traveling with cryptocurrency can be a little more complicated. For one, it is important to have access to an ATM that exchanges cryptocurrency for cash. It is also wise to make sure there are local cryptocurrency sellers nearby to exchange digital monies when needed.

The good thing is that many countries are friendly to the cryptocurrency traveler such as Denmark, Israel, and the UK just to name a few. People within the Jewish community who want to travel using cryptocurrency should pay attention to the BitCoen since it is being called the first Kosher cryptocurrency.

The company is going to feature prominent Jewish leaders to ensure decisions align with what the Jewish community might find appealing. Another thing that might be appealing is that the company is going to give 10 percent of its cryptocurrency earnings to Jewish organizations as the company’s tzedakah.

It should also be noted that the BitCoen company is planning to give members interest-free loans as tzedakah. This definitely makes traveling and handling currency easier in this new digital age.

The BitCoen will likely come with the benefits most cryptocurrencies come with, like digital monitoring, stable exchange rates, and security since physical cash will not be necessary.

It behooves travelers to keep an eye on how this new digital age is changing the way one might travel regarding currency because the changes could mean convenience and savings.

5 Tips for a Jewish Road Trip in New Zealand

There is a lot to look forward to if you are heading for the remote and astonishingly beautiful territory of New Zealand. Most tourists come to experience a wildlife adventure, exploring the vast wild landscapes of this country and there is no better way to do that than embarking on some New Zealand road trips. But besides the long scenic routes and lively exotic cities, Jewish travelers can explore the history of their ancestors, who have started settling here since the 18th century. We gathered some useful advice for a beautiful journey to New Zealand with Jewish cultural highlights:

1. A Brief History of Kiwi Jews

 

New Zealand is a culturally diverse country and the home about 10 000 Jews, gathered in a few insular communities. However, these communities are strong and active and gave many skilled people to the public life of the country. Jews settled here since the 18th century and had an important role in the economic development of these territories by doing trade with Australia and The Great Britain.

2. Fun for a One Week Plan

 

If you have just a week to spend in New Zealand, opt for Auckland and the Bay of Islands. The weather is pleasant all year round and you can enjoy the vibe of the City of Sails and admire the countless yachts which rest in its harbor at sunset. At the Orthodox Auckland Hebrew Congregation, you will find two synagogues, a Holocaust memorial, and a Jewish Deli. Among other landmarks, don’t miss the Old Synagogue on Princess Street and stop by to admire the historic Symonds Street Jewish Cemetery. Further on, visit the beaches of Omapere, the vineyards of Waiheke Island and the bohemian Matakana Coast.

3. An Extended Stay in the North

 

If you planned over two weeks in the North Island, head from Auckland to Wellington, taking the thermal route. Stop by and let the view sweep you off your feet at Lake Taupo, Tongariro National Park and the wine lands of Martinborough. In the capital, you can learn about the stories of the survivors of Nazi persecution who came to New Zealand at the Holocaust Centre or check the available exhibitions and events at the Jewish Community Center. Check out the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial and pay your respects at the Bolton Street Memorial Park.

4. The Southern Itinerary

 

Beware of the weather if you don’t like snow, the South Island of New Zealand is covered in it in July and August. In this part of the country, you’ll enjoy smaller and quieter towns with a Jewish history, like Dunedin and Christchurch. You can visit the southernmost synagogue in the world in Dunedin, designed by the famous John Goldwater, but also the site of the Old Synagogue in Moray Place or Olveston, the mansion of a prominent Jewish businessman where you will see European and oriental artifacts. Drive to the rugged beaches of Otago Peninsula and admire the penguins or go to the Royal Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Head, the only natural habitat for this majestic bird.

5. Enjoy the Diversity

 

Take some time to explore the various cultural influences of New Zealand. In the North, you will have many opportunities to meet the Maori culture, whether you choose to stop at one of the villages around Rotorua or experience a Marae stay at Waiheke Island. Also, the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum has an amazing architecture and impressing collections.

New Zealand offers the opportunity of visiting themed museums and synagogues and connecting with the local Jewish communities, while you will also have the chance to enjoy the rich and diversified wildlife and to immerse in the laid-back atmosphere of the harbor cities.

Which Photo will you share in Best in Travel Award 2017?

For our first ever WSGT Travel Photo Award : 2017 Best in Travel Photo Award, share your favorite shot! Why do you love it? How did you create it? Submit a photo taken in the last two years.

Thank you for your participation!

What Picture will you share in WSGT Travel Photo Award 2017Date: Enter from August 1, 2017 to October 1, 2017

Theme: Your Favorite Photo

Deadline: Enter by midnight PST on October 1, 2017

Fees: This competition has no fee.

WSGT Travel Photo Award 2017

Prizes:

1st Prize – $200 usd
2nd Prize – $100usd
3rd Prize – $50 usd

Winners will be selected by our judges and We Said Go Travel Team. Cash prizes will be paid through PayPal in United States Dollars. All winning entries will be promoted on We Said Go Travel.

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RULES

Photos will be published with the accompanying information given with the entry dependent on appropriateness and being family friendly (G rated). If your photo information is written in a language other than English, please also send an English translation.

Travelers of all ages and from all countries are encouraged to participate. You may submit up to three photos for our first photo competition.

We are looking for an inspiring travel-oriented image that shows us your experience in the world with great subject, composition, lighting, perspective and storytelling. It must be your original photo that shares the people, places or cultures you have encountered. Do not submit studio or commercial photos.

All photos, which meet the requirements, will be published on this site, WeSaidGoTravel.com. Void where prohibited.

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Jeana

Jeana Surf and Sunshine Travel Photo AwardTravel / Lifestyle Blogger | Geeky Mom (the cool kind, of course)
North American Travel Journalists Association
International Travel Writers Alliance
Huffington Post / Surf and Sunshine

Rarely caught without a camera, Jeana is an adventurous traveler with a passion for people, cultures and food that has led her to 38 countries in 5 years. Recently named by Social Media Week as one of eight people who have more social influence than some large travel brands, Jeana is also consistently listed in Klout’s top 10 Travel influencers as well as the top 5 of Rise Global’s Top 1000 Travel Blogs. When she’s not using her powers for social good, she enjoys photography, cooking and building LEGOs with her son. On occasion, you may also find her crocheting cute things to hide in her husband’s underwear drawer.

www.surfandsunshine.com

Gary Arndt

Gary is a self-taught travel photographer who was named Travel Photographer of the Year by both the Society of American Travel Writers and the North American Travel Journalists Association. Join his Travel Photography Academy!

www.everything-everywhere.com

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Five iconic film locations you must visit in 2017

We’ve all got a favorite movie or two, and might even have daydreamed about starring in them from time to time. Unless we’re outrageously talented, lucky or driven (preferably all three and then some) we’ll never get to appear on the big screen, so the next best thing is to visit the scenes and sets. We’re lucky that many of the best movies of all time have been filmed in The States – including these five locations.

Hawaii – Elvis

 

The recent Disney hit Moana has brought Hawaii back onto the big screen, carrying on a long tradition of movies featuring these paradise islands. A quick snapshot would include Godzilla (which used 200 local people as extras on Waikiki Beach), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Hunger Games, 50 First Dates, Pearl Harbour, and the Jurassic Park Series. In Oahu, you can even pay for a 90-minute tour of many of the scenes from more than 50 movies.

Among those 50 are the works of The King himself – Elvis Presley. Perhaps the most well-known are Blue Hawaii from 1961, which was shot at the Coco Palms Resort in Kauai and featured the famous wedding scene. Although abandoned since Hurricane Iniki in 1992 and demolished last year, the hotel is currently being rebuilt as part of the Hyatt Unbound Collection – so disciples might choose to wait until then.

Girls! Girls! Girls! followed in 1962, while the final Elvis movie shot in Hawaii was the 1966 comedy Paradise, Hawaiian Style, and you’ll find a number of locations still remain including the Maui Sheraton Hotel and the LDS Polynesian Cultural Centre in Oahu.

Las Vegas – Ocean series

 

We probably think immediately of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Leaving Las Vegas when considering Sin City. But there’s a clearly whole lot more to be seen than these eponymous movies, and perhaps the movies that evoke certain scenes of Vegas locations are the Ocean’s series.

The original Rat Pack version sees Sinatra and co carry out an audacious heist on five casinos in a single night; sadly, only one out of those five is still there in its original form. The Sands was demolished in ’96 and replaced by the Venetian; The Sahara is now known as the SLS; The Desert Inn was closed at the start of the century and the Riviera was demolished in 2015-16. Only the Flamingo remains.

On to the sequels, and who wouldn’t want to recreate the glorious conclusion in front of the Bellagio Fountains in the remake? For that matter, catching a fight at the MGM Grand Garden is still a must for many fight fans, although you’re unlikely to see long-retired heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis in the ring again.

Fremont Street is the original location for high-stakes and heavy drinking, and has featured in Dodgeball to Honey I Blew Up the Kid to Diamonds Are Forever. On the Strip, Caesar’s Palace is one of the most used casinos. It features in Rainman and Iron Man, and devotees of the original Hangover might want to revisit the debauchery in flamboyant style in one of the grand suites.

Finally, if you just want to live like the movie star A-Listers, rooms at the Julius Tower start at just $1,949 a night, while some at MGM Grand cost up to $10,000. The Napoleon Suite at the Paris is so exclusive that there is no price tag.

New York – Taxi Driver

 

For the movie fan, a trip to New York is essential and unforgettable, although worth researching as it’s all too easy to simply walk past many of the more famous spots. As an example of the less obvious destinations, consider the 1976 vigilante movie Taxi Driver. The poster looks as if it could be taken anywhere in the city, but the actual location is the West Side of Eighth Avenue, just below West 47th Street. Looking for this is made that little bit more difficult by the fact that the adult movie signs in the background have long gone, to be replaced by pharmacies and information centers. The big shootout at the end takes place in a tenement block at 226 East 13th Street.

Other movies filmed in New York include The Seven Year Itch (with ‘that’ Marilyn Monroe scene); Big, with the famous duet between Tom Hanks and Robert Loggie on the giant keyboard (now in Philadelphia) and Where Harry Met Sally – at Katz’s Delicatessen in East Houston Street.

Fans of Ghostbusters will recall that two of the most famous scenes in 80s film history involved giant apparitions strolling through the Big Apple; the Stay Puft marshmallow man in the original, and an inhabited Statue of Liberty in the sequel. Surprisingly, the scene in the hotel where we’re first introduced to Slimer was actually filmed at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, so you won’t be able to stay there – but any one of New York’s many hotels will suffice for a tour of this great city!

New Orleans – Benjamin Button

 

The list of movies filmed in the Big Easy is as extensive, vibrant and diverse as the city itself. Bourbon Street witnessed a jazz/voodoo funeral in Live and Let Die in 1973; 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street filmed various scenes around Riverdale High School and Lafreniere Park, and various John Grisham book-to-film adaptations such as the Pelican Brief have been filmed on Riverwalk. Elvis filmed at the fabulous French Quarter in King Creole, which also hosted scenes from Interview with the Vampire on Royal Street.

Fans of the Brad Pitt movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button should head for Nolan House on Coliseum Street, the near 8,000ft mansion where much of the filming took place.
Apparently, director David Fincher was so set on using the house that he flew to Houston to have dinner with owner Mary Nell Porter Nolan, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Some scenes were also shot in (or designed to replicate) the numerous cemeteries in the city, while something more romantic might be found at the wonderful Newman Bandstand in Audobon Park, a popular venue for the wedding and private events.

Philadelphia – Rocky statue and steps

Quickly – what’s the name of the building with the 72 steps that Rocky runs up in ‘that’ scene? Even though it’s one of the most recognizable scenes in movie history, you might be unaware that the answer is the Philadelphia Museum of Art – which is well worth a look in its own right.

The Oscar-winning film series has given the sport of boxing and cinema history so much; from the iconic ring entrance music used by so many, to the unusual training techniques of chasing chickens and sprinting up snowy mountains. And it continues to flourish, with the latest iteration Creed 2015 sweeping more awards and picking up much critical acclaim.

While there, have your picture taken with the Sylvester Stallone statue, donated by Sly in 1980, although expect a small queue of other fight film fans eager to participate. The steps, filmed with a Steadicam to bring more realism, have been used in several of the movies and give an outstanding view of Eakins Oval, City Hall, and Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

So lace up the gloves and get up those steps – you never know, the great man himself may even be around….

 

 

There’s a $149 deal on flights to Israel? Don’t believe the hype.

WOW air has plastered Israel with advertisements about its bargain flights there featuring its distinctive purplish logo. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Wow, what a deal! Or not?

The headlines screamed at me from every Israeli newspaper, in both English and Hebrew: only $149 for a flight from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv to New York on WOW air.

The Iceland-based airline has plastered Israel with advertisements featuring its distinctive purplish logo for the new deal, and many Israelis are talking about it. Flights begin on Sept. 20.

Of course, the no-frills flight goes through Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, but that is not much of a hardship — people travel through European capitals all the time in search of cheap flights between Israel and the United States.

However, the Israeli business daily Globes helped to put the $149 fare into perspective.

For starters, the $149 price is only for a one-way ticket, and there is no guarantee that you will get the same fare for a return trip. The cost of flying home on the airline is more likely to cost around $400, according to Globes.

In addition, one suitcase of 44 pounds or more costs $70 dollars, each way — though a personal item such as a purse or backpack is thankfully still free.

Choosing a seat costs another $10 each way, which is not necessary but comfortable, especially if you are not travelling alone or cannot live without an aisle seat.

As for food, don’t even think about free snacks on a no-frills flight like this one. You will be brown-bagging it, unless you want to buy very over-priced offerings once you’re in the air.

After adding all of those considerations together, a round trip between one of several major cities in the United States and Israel on WOW air would cost around $700 or $800.

To put this into perspective, El Al, Israel’s national carrier, has $665 mid-week one-way fares on a round-trip flight to New York in September, the round trip being some $1,170.

And for all of you who do not live in New York or one of the major cities served by WOW, you would need a separate flight to your final destination. WOW does not appear to have any add-on deals with any domestic U.S. airlines — so if I wanted to travel to visit my family in Cleveland, for example, I would have to pay hundreds of dollars more. My total with an add-on to Cleveland on El Al comes out to $1,400. A stand-alone New York to Cleveland round trip is about $400, bringing my bargain WOW total to $1,200.

WOW isn’t sounding so, well, WOW anymore. I’ll take one of the major airlines, please.

Visiting Springfield, Illinois: The Land of Lincoln and other Americana

People have preconceived notions and prejudices that prevent them from seeing cool places and interesting things in life. I grew up in Illinois. Back in the day, at least, all the public schools brought their students around 8th grade to Springfield, Illinois – the place where Abraham Lincoln lived in the only home he ever bought, practiced law, ran for office and eventually was buried. But I went to a private school that was more concerned with us reciting La Marseilles in perfect French, than seeing a Presidential library and museum in our own state. Later, when I moved south of the Mason-Dixon Line, I saw many battlefields of the Civil War. They’re extremely popular. But for some reason, people don’t talk about visiting Springfield . . . and they’re really missing out.

Getting there: I took a very modestly priced Amtrak from Chicago’s Union Station. Chicago is a big train hub, so you’re likely to be at the beginning of a long haul trip, with classic sleeper cars, full service dining cars with freshly made food, observation decks, ladies’ lounges. Along the way, you see what others ignorantly refer to as “flyover country,” including the funny stadium for the Frontier League Joliet Slammers. Another way you can go: drive or ride. The famous Route 66 goes right through the center of town.

Where to stay: High atop “Aristocracy Hill” sits an inn — Inn at 835 — that used to serve as apartments for movers and shakers and indeed, still features long-term residences for them. After all, Springfield is Illinois’ capital; legislators from here have gone far up the political ladder. The place was conceived and designed over 100 years ago by a high-society florist. It’s still very grand! Rooms are very spacious, some with a butler’s pantry filled with books, Jacuzzi with heat lamp, four-poster bed, gorgeous antiques. Wine and cheese is left out for guests downstairs, but they bring cookies in a basket to your door at night. They provide a free shuttle from the Amtrak station until 8:30 pm.

What to do: See how Lincoln and his family actually lived at the Lincoln Home, a national historic site. He expanded the premises as his success and prosperity grew. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is simply outstanding! I started out at its fantastic gift shop. The museum’s permanent exhibit takes you through life-sized recreations of his log cabin home, his law office, and political ascent. Walk through the whispering gallery of political sniping from both ends of the spectrum – just like elections today! – and nasty gossip against Mary Todd Lincoln. Feel yourself attending the play at Ford’s Theater. We all know how it ends . . . but I wasn’t prepared for the stunning majesty of the darkened recreation of the closed casket in the Representatives Hall in Springfield’s Old State Capitol. Today, we are reminded that Lincoln’s catafalque was lent by Congress for Justice Scalia’s funeral.

Of course, there’s no substitute for the real thing. President Lincoln is buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery. Also in town is his law office, which had a business-friendly location by the courthouse and right on what is now Route 66.

Edwards Place is the oldest remaining structure in Springfield. The Edwards were Illinois’ most powerful political family, with one serving as the first Governor when Illinois became a state after serving as Kentucky’s Chief Justice on the Court of Appeals. Illinois was originally settled mostly by Kentuckians and this family crossed the Ohio River with their slaves. Another Edwards was the first person born in Illinois to graduate from Yale. Their home is beautifully restored, with many interesting archeological finds.

Art and architecture enthusiasts will be fascinated with the Dana-Thomas house, an early example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s design. At the time, Wright was young and not as well known enough to totally impose his will upon homeowners, but he managed to ink some covenants. The lady of the house had enough money and social clout to include some of her Art Nouveau era preferences, so the fusion here is one-of-a-kind.

Springfield has a cute, thriving main street. There are several quality antique stores; Abe’s Old Hat has several rooms, each with its own specialty and vibe. Check out such Americana finds like feed sacks upcycled into men’s ties and cornbread scented candles.

A small town has got to consider itself sweet with two independently owned candy stores, both with Depression-era origins. Pease’s is older by a tad; their specialty is chocolates made to look like actual designer shoes! Del’s Popcorn Shop is now located next to the Lincoln-Herndon law office, with a real old-timey feel inside. They have all kinds of flavors of freshly popped corn, which feels like the perfect snack to crunch on in Illinois, plus it makes an inexpensive souvenir gift.

Where to eat: Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery & Eatery is located in a rehabbed historic home, owned by direct descendants of neighbors of Abraham Lincoln. They brew the freshest beer in town and also have excellent locally made, fruit forward cider. Their growlers are so cute, with tributes to Lincoln and Route 66, I happily paid for plastic boxes and checked luggage to bring some cider home. They’ve got a real gastropub thing going, with highly flavorful offerings like spicy cheesy soup, an old family recipe for 15 spice chili and Scotch eggs.

D’Arcy’s Pint is an Irish pub that’s enormously popular. They serve bar food as well as the famous Springfield Horseshoe. Lots of cities have a beloved big sandwich, this is theirs. It’s generally slices of thick Texas toast, topped with meat, French fries and cheese sauce. You can get veggies or hotdogs on it . . . even Midwestern walleye!

American Harvest Eatery is a new restaurant little bit up the road from the state capital building, so it’s not quite run over by lobbyists yet. While still finding its footing when I was there, they have an admirable concept: using the foodstuffs of Illinois to re-create comfort food favorites.

I saw a Quonset in the middle of nowhere and wondered how it could be a restaurant. Well, Charlie Parker’s Diner is world-famous and has been featured on the Food Network many times! It’s a fun, 50’s party atmosphere with that kind of classic menu.

Anecdotally, I wondered in the land of farms if things like heirloom tomatoes, etc., were popular. It turns out, not so much: commercial agriculture earnings are so crucial, people aren’t playing around with specialized, small-yield crops here.

Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln life-like figures at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Photo by Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

Figures of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debate at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Photo by Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

Recreation of the scene at Ford’s Theater at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Photo by Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

President Abraham Lincoln’s tomb Photo by Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

 

April News: I am so PROUD of my accomplishments

April NEWS: Plant seeds and Watch them GROW!

At times over the last few years, I have wondered if I am making progress. Was leaving teaching to write about travel the right choice? Lately, I see that the seeds I have been planting are taking root and growing! I am very proud of my accomplishments!

Lisa Niver is the Adventure Correspondent on The Jet SetMy trip to the Solomon Islands for two weeks in March was incredible and I am working on my story for Smithsonian. I have 31 videos to share from my adventures and will have more articles to share soon. I hosted a twitter chat and shared many photos which can now be seen on my Instagram about my trip. I have over one million video views, I am verified on Twitter and all my social media accounts are growing! Thank you for all of your amazing support!

I am now the Adventure Correspondent for The Jet Set! See my first segment about Utah and skiing with the visually impaired here. I also reported about my first ride on the Winter Comet Olympic Bobsled! Did you see my interview on The Jet Set: Interview of Lisa Niver: Transformational Travel

I loved flying on Delta and reading my article about Fabien Cousteau in Delta Sky Magazine! That was amazing! And I loved when Fabien Cousteau shared about the article when he flew on Delta and read about himself in my article. What a great month!

Lisa Niver wrote for Delta Sky Magazine about Fabien Cousteau.Where did I travel in April?

I traveled to New York City to celebrate a family birthday and Passover. I also went to the Auto Show to learn more about the e-Grand Prix as I am going to Monaco for a race in May! I have new two stories on Sheknows:

  • Discovering New Sports: 50 Things before I am 50 about my first hockey game, my first NCAA Basketball Game and learning to play tennis! Also about my story for The Jet Set in Utah skiing with the visually impaired and going on the Olympic Bobsled!
  • Where to stay in NYC? I loved my stay at the DoubleTree By Hilton and I love their new Cook(ie)Book! Read more about it here! 

I also LOVED being at the Sugar Sand Festival in Clearwater Florida. I love sand art sculptures and this festival supports a local elementary school! Photos and video are coming soon!

Newest Videos:

Where can you find my 650+ travel videos? Here are links to my video channels on YouTube, Amazon Fire Tv, Amazon Short Video and Roku Player. I hope you enjoy my “This is What it is Like” Episodes!

Recent Articles written by or featuring Lisa:

Lisa Niver in the Solomon IslandsTravel Writing Award: 

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our We Said Go Travel Competitions! We will announce the winners of the 2016 Gratitude Travel writing award in May 2017. The 2017 Inspiration We Said Go Travel Writing Award entries are currently being published. The Summer Independence Award will open on May 11, 2017. I have been honored to publish nearly 2000 writers from 75 countries with the dozen writing competitions I have hosted on We Said Go Travel. I hope you will consider participating in the next competition or sharing it with someone who wants to tell their tale. Thank you for all the support over the years.

I love the Oprah and Deepak 21-day Meditation Challenge. Recently Oprah said: “Let life carry you. Life is the dancer and you are the dance.”  She also said, “Be one with life. You don’t live your life, life lives you!”

Thank you for your support. Lisa

Discover more on my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTube.

Newest Videos from Lisa and We Said Go Travel: Lisa Niver on at the LA KINGS Game!

March News: Where in the Wonderful World is Lisa?

March NEWS: Where in the Wonderful World is Lisa?

When this newsletter publishes, I will be in the South Pacific with little to no Wi-Fi! I want to say thank you for your support of me on my journey with We Said Go Travel! In 2017, I have written for Delta Sky Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Sierra Club Magazine and am currently on assignment for Smithsonian.  I have been working to build We Said Go Travel one step, one word, one video, one day at a time. I now have over one million video views and many print and online articles. I am grateful that you have been walking this road with me.

Where did I travel in March?

Where in the world is Lisa?I accepted a challenge to ski at all three Vail Resorts in Lake Tahoe, California as part of my 50 new things before I am 50. I have two stories about it for Sheknows:

I loved Kirkwood, Heavenly and Northstar for different reasons and cannot wait to go back. See all four of my videos below.

I am currently on assignment in the Solomon Islands. I promise to share video and photos from my adventures as soon as I am back in the land of Wi-Fi.

Newest Videos:

  • I was invited to give a talk about travel but don’t worry if you missed it! CLICK HERE to see the video!
  • At Utah’s Olympic Park, I rode the Winter Comet Bobsled. I did not chicken out but I did think about it! See us going 65mph: Watch it here on my Instagram!
  • I met Cindy Crawford at Umami Burger! For my 50 before 50 bucketlist: PHOTO with a SUPERMODEL! See it here!

Where can you find my 640+ travel videos? Here are links to my video channels on YouTube, Amazon Fire Tv, Amazon Short Video and Roku Player. I hope you enjoy my “This is What it is Like” Episodes!

Recent Articles written by or featuring Lisa:

Travel Writing Award:

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our We Said Go Travel Competitions! The 2016 Gratitude We Said Go Travel Writing Award entries are currently being published. The Summer Independence Award will open in May 2017. I have been honored to publish nearly 2000 writers from 75 countries with the dozen writing competitions I have hosted on We Said Go Travel. Thank you for all the support.

As my fortune cookie said: “Pack your bags. You are bound for an exciting destination.”  I will leave you with an Irish story for St. Patrick’s Day. Thank you for your support. Lisa

This “Irish Blessing” was shared with me on St. Patrick’s day 2017
His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog.
 
There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death. 
 
The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved. 
 
‘I want to repay you,’ said the nobleman. ‘You saved my son’s life.’

‘No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,’ the Scottish farmer replied waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family hovel.
 
‘Is that your son?’ the nobleman asked.

‘Yes,’ the farmer replied proudly. 
  
‘I’ll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he’ll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.’ And that he did.
 
Farmer Fleming’s son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated from St Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin. 
  
Years afterward, the same nobleman’s son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time? Penicillin. 
 
The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill … His son’s name?
 
Sir Winston Churchill 
 
Someone once said:  What goes around comes around.  
  •  Work like you don’t need the money.
  •  Love like you’ve never been hurt.
  •  Dance like nobody’s watching.
  •  Sing like nobody’s listening.
  •  Live like it’s Heaven on Earth. 
AN IRISH FRIENDSHIP WISH: 
  • May there always be work for your hands to do;
  • May your purse always hold a coin or two;
  • May the sun always shine on your windowpane;
  • May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain;
  • May the hand of a friend always be near you;
  • May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Newest Videos from Lisa and We Said Go Travel: Lisa Niver in Lake Tahoe skiing:

Thank you for reading and participating with We Said GO Travel.

Discover more on my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookTwitter, Pinterest, YouTube.

Where in the World is Lisa?

Check In to Hotels, Check Out Decorating Ideas

The Paramount Hotel lobby.

Among my biggest design inspirations are hotels. When choosing a hotel, the first thing I consider is not the room rate or location, but how cool the décor is.

My love affair with hotel design started in the ’90s when, fresh out of college, I splurged on a New York vacation to stay at the Philippe Starck-designed Paramount Hotel on West 46th Street in Times Square. The moment I stepped into the hotel lobby, I felt the transformative power of interior design. Not only was every square inch of the hotel awesome to behold, the hip factor had rubbed off on me. Suddenly, I felt like a model in a Calvin Klein fragrance commercial — glamorous, mysterious and full of ennui. The only thing that could have made it better was a free breakfast buffet.

Now, whenever I stay at a boutique hotel, I take lots of photos that go into my inspiration file, and design elements from many of them have found their way into my own decorating.

The Paramount Hotel.

The Paramount Hotel.

Paramount Hotel,
New York City

Design inspiration: Upholstered headboard

My favorite part of the room at the Paramount was the giant upholstered headboard featuring a Vermeer painting. I had never thought that something as utilitarian as a headboard could be art — literally. I’ve since created framed, oversized headboards for clients that have depicted goldfish swimming around orchids, an angel sunbathing by the pool, and even a photograph of the exterior of Tiffany’s in Beverly Hills. (Sadly, the Paramount was sold to a hotel conglomerate in 2011, and the Philippe Starck décor is no more.)

Hotel Zeppelin.

Hotel Zeppelin.

Hotel Zeppelin, San Francisco

Design inspiration: Typography

Perhaps because I’m both a writer and a designer, I like the idea of decorating with words. Text is used quite whimsically in the rock ’n’ roll-themed Hotel Zeppelin in the Union Square district. The graphic wallpaper in the bathroom incorporates names of singers and bands in a retro font, giving new meaning to bathroom reading. And the overhead light above the bed surprises you with a message when you turn it on. Depending on your room, the word could be “love,” “peace” or “prosper.”

Door murals at the Hotel Max.

Door murals at the Hotel Max.

Hotel Max, Seattle

Design inspiration: Door murals

An artist-centric hotel, Hotel Max showcases the work of a different local photographer on each floor, covering the doors to each guest room with that photographer’s work. When I saw those doors, they really got my creative juices flowing, and I could not wait to do something similar. I got the chance when designing the Jewish Journal offices, and I needed to cover the dull wood doors that came with the space. I found vintage stock photos of reporters and newsrooms, had adhesive murals made of them and applied them to the doors. Walking down the hallway, it’s like a gallery.

Hotel Le Bellechasse, Paris

Hotel Bellechasse in Paris.

Hotel Le Bellechasse in Paris.

Design inspiration: Decorating the ceiling

Designed by Christian Lacroix, Le Bellechasse is a kaleidoscope of pattern and color squeezed into tiny rooms typical of Parisian quarters. Once you get over the puzzling fact that the bathtub is in the bedroom, you can appreciate the marvelous design details, like quirky wallpaper that extends across the ceiling. Lying in the bed and looking up, I truly appreciated the attention paid to the ceiling. It is valuable decorating space that is rarely used. Now, I always consider how to design above the eye line, whether it’s as simple as painting the ceiling or hanging an interesting light fixture.

Tasty, authentic Mexican cuisine: Chicago’s Maxwell St. Market

Rubi's Taco "Lengua" - Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

Though Chicago’s been in the news a lot lately — dealing with political issues, a crime wave and harsh weather — it’s still one of the great cities in the world! From its very beginnings, Chicago rose above the neighboring prairie towns in sophistication and culture. Folks came up from the Mississippi Delta and also, from around the globe.

One of the city’s historic outdoor markets — Maxwell Street Market — isn’t even on Maxwell Street anymore, but its quirky mystique follows it wherever it goes. For over 100 years, the market has been a famed melting pot of ethnic foods, flea market and back in the day, a well-known place to fence stolen goods! Unlike some of the city’s other farmer’s markets, Maxwell Street is open every Sunday, year round. I visited it on a gorgeous, unseasonably warm November day. The market was packed with neighborhood South Loop residents, as well as people the north side by way of bikes on this lovely day. Some brought their dogs, as the market seems to be dog-friendly.

These days, Maxwell Street Market’s food vendors are Mexican and other Latin street food, in all of their glory. Have you had pozole? It’s a traditional Mexican stew made with pork, hominy, spices and herbs, all slow-cooked. It felt so warming and perfect as a brunch starter on a warm-cool morning. Sitting at the pozole booth’s communal picnic table, I chatted up a couple of local fix-it guys: they felt the same way. The recipes are the real deal . . . I’m sure of it. Many of the vendors don’t speak English and my Spanish is sorely lacking.

Pozole Booth at Maxwell St. Market - Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

Pozole Booth at Maxwell St. Market – Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

As I finished up my stew, I glanced at a growing line in front of one of the vendors across the way. It was unlike anywhere in the whole market! I’ve always known that when it comes to local restaurants — even if it’s a food truck or a truck stop — the ones with huge crowds are where you want to go. The locals know what’s best!

Rubi’s Tacos

Rubi's Taco "Lengua" - Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

Rubi’s Taco “Lengua” – Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

Rubi’s Tacos are revered by people all over Chicago. The vendor serves varieties that aren’t dumbed down for tourists. They take a while to get to your order, because everything is made of the freshest ingredients to order. I got a taco with chopped tongue, along with huitlacoche: a corn fungus known as “corn truffles”.  You can get your taco garnished with your choice of roasted spring onions, roasted chili peppers, fresh cilantro, onion, tomato and lettuce. The shell is a freshly baked soft taco. Luscious! There wasn’t a single person in the long line who was disappointed.

Rubi's Tacos at Maxwell St. Market - Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

Rubi’s Tacos at Maxwell St. Market – Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.