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The Road to Middle Earth

In 2012, director Peter Jackson returned to Middle Earth for a new trilogy based on the works of beloved author J.R.R. Tolkien. An Unexpected Journey, the first installment in The Hobbit series, received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, with many quibbling over Jackson’s decision to release the film in a controversial high frame rate format. Nevertheless, it helped spark a renewed interest in the real-life locations used in the film. Continue reading

Summer Cycling With Aspen’s Little Nell

There are certain bragging rights that come with riding my beat-up used bike as I slalom between the trucks and taxis in New York City. Last July, however, I decided to exchange the exhaust of Manhattan’s avenues for the pristine air of the Rockies and my $200 Taiwanese ten-speed for a state-of-the-art Orbea road bike as I put my vacation in the hands of the “adventure concierges” at Aspen’s Little Nell.

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Spain’s Other Coast

Europe has always been a popular destination for American travelers in the summertime. While flights to France, Italy and the United Kingdom can be pricey this time of year, Spain tends to be a bit cheaper. But instead of heading to the overcrowded beaches of tony Marbella or touristy Barcelona, take a detour to the northwest Basque coast. Here are my top-three reasons to visit San Sebastian this summer.

You Gotta Have Art

Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa (Guggenheim.org)

San Sebastian is home to a thriving art and cultural scene, showcasing the region’s unique history—the Basques are an ancient culture and vehemently independent. Throughout the summer, the city hosts music and cultural festivals galore. The 54th Heinekin “Jazzaldia,” the city’s jazz festival, happens the last week of July and is the longest running festival of its kind in Europe. Classical music concerts are held throughout August at the Musika Hamabostaldia. Film lovers flock to the region in September for the world-renowned San Sebastian Film Festival. Basque culture is celebrated during Basque Week in early September. If you love art, head to one of the city’s many museums, but don’t forget to take a side trip to nearby Bilbao, home to the Guggenheim museum.

Dinner is Served

Arzak (Trip Advisor)

Most of us who have tried Spanish cuisine stateside have encountered regional fare from Sevilla and Madrid. Basque cuisine is entirely different. Fish and meat are grilled over large coals, and hearty stews and bean dishes are extremely popular. The area is home to a large proliferation of Michelin–starred restaurants—second only to Paris—including Arzak, Akelarre and Mugartiz. For less chichi dining, opt for a cider house, which can be found throughout the region.

The Great Outdoors

Surfers at Zurriola Beach (San Sebastian Tourism)

While most visitors to Spain don’t do anything more strenuous than climb a cobblestone street to visit a historic site, for more adventurous travelers, San Sebastian offers a wealth of great outdoor opportunities. You can hike to the top of Monte Urgull or one of the other peaks or bike the surrounding hills. Surfers head to Zurriola, Fuenterrabia and Hendaia beaches for their great waves and relative breathing room.

TRENDING

7 Great Hotels In San Francisco

With new ownership and recent renovations, a number of the City By The Bay’s most iconic hotels remain the best places to stay.

While San Francisco may have become too expensive to live in, it is still relatively affordable to visit. And unlike New York City’s hotel scene which seems to grow and grow, with trendy newcomers stealing the show, many of San Francisco’s top places to stay are the same properties they have always been—despite minor name changes.

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6 New England Seaside Resorts to Stay at This Summer

Note: We don’t recommend anyone take any chances by traveling, dining out or participating in other “travel and leisure” activities during the Covid-19 crisis. But we’ll continue to write about these lifestyle activities for your knowledge and current daydreaming pleasure.     

 

While booking a summer rental has its merits, there is something about beach resorts—convenience, amenities and hospitality to name a few perks—that can make it much easier than hassling with the research and paperwork normally associated with summer rentals. Here are 6 resorts in New England that are sure to satiate your summer travel cravings, without any hassles. 

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The Road to Middle Earth

In 2012, director Peter Jackson returned to Middle Earth for a new trilogy based on the works of beloved author J.R.R. Tolkien. An Unexpected Journey, the first installment in The Hobbit series, received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, with many quibbling over Jackson’s decision to release the film in a controversial high frame rate format. Nevertheless, it helped spark a renewed interest in the real-life locations used in the film. Continue reading

Summer Cycling With Aspen’s Little Nell

There are certain bragging rights that come with riding my beat-up used bike as I slalom between the trucks and taxis in New York City. Last July, however, I decided to exchange the exhaust of Manhattan’s avenues for the pristine air of the Rockies and my $200 Taiwanese ten-speed for a state-of-the-art Orbea road bike as I put my vacation in the hands of the “adventure concierges” at Aspen’s Little Nell.

Continue reading

MOST POPULAR

Nomad Hotel Library Bar

Best Library Bars

Ah, the library bar. An urban oasis steeped in history (quite literally). Vintage, deep-seated armchairs, mahogany shelves and leather bound books ease the soul, while a single malt scotch calms the nerves after a long day of work. Ron Burgundy’s kind of place. My kind of place. Continue reading

OPINION & VARIETY

Trying To Find The Silver Linings During COVID-19

As I sit down to write this, we’re (my family, friends, and fellow New Yorkers) heading into our 4th week of stay-at-home orders and remote learning due to the Corona virus, Covid-19. For other states it’s been longer. It’s April 5, 2020, and never did anyone think something like this would happen in our country, in our world, in our lifetime.

Covid-19 has devastated the globe and its people on so many levels, it’s hard to begin to comprehend and process the situation. For that, I’ve been very quiet on this blog until now. “Where do I even begin?” I’ve asked myself so many times. I’m certainly not going to post my guide to my latest international vacation destination.

More than that, though, it’s been difficult to write. The news has been changing every day and every hour. Every minute. There’s been so much to take in, and so much to learn. Social distancing, remote learning, shelter in place, stay 6 feet apart…all completely foreign things until now. Needless to say, it’s been hard to focus.


Hike in the woods with our dog

 

In the very beginning – when news of the corona virus first came out – there were times when I came close to writing a post. I thought of writing a post on best places to visit on the East Coast within a drive’s distance from New York. As the news changed, that idea quickly went out the door. Then I thought about writing a post on best day trip ideas, but then that idea quickly went into the trashcan as well. Perhaps I’ll write a post on nice places to go hiking – but my fear is that some places might get too crowded, and I don’t want to misguide anyone. We shall see.

When the first week of stay-at-home happened, it was paralyzing in a lot of ways. I was glued to the news from my sofa in my den, and that seemed all I could do. My kids were learning how “to learn” remotely (which so far, I must say, has gone well. My girls’ teachers have been unbelievable at figuring out how to teach from afar in such a short period of time), and every time there was a glitch or they didn’t understand something, I begrudgingly pulled myself away from the sofa to help them. I was lethargic, lazy and completely consumed by the news. Let’s face it, it’s depressing!


Stationed on my den sofa

 

Then there’ve been the things like the dishes and the 20 meals a day for the kids and the cleaning. The cabin fever, the rainy days, the trying to monitor screen time (I’ve given up). These are tough times and they are a true test!

But as time has continued on, the active and positive person that I am has started to fall back into place. Like so many others, I’ve taken this opportunity to do projects that I normally don’t have time for. I’ve turned my house upside down and gotten rid of a ton of clutter and unnecessary things, and it feels good. Maybe I’ll learn some lessons from this too – no more random junk from CVS! Seriously, enough is enough!

Donations

 

 

 

 

It feels good to be donating so many clothes and books and unopened games to those in need, and to be contributing in that way too. I usually do it, but have been way behind. I’m finally going to put those photos in my stack of photo frames, clean out my kitchen cabinets, and go through the garage (currently incomplete projects).

My girls and I are in discussion about how we’re going to redesign our basement, and they’ve been perusing design websites, which I find totally cute, not to mention productive and educational as well. We’ve been taking daily walks with our dog – something usually relegated to just me when they’re in school, and our dog has loved it. He’s loved all of the family time. We even enacted an episode of the cooking show “Chopped”, where the girls each made a dessert. The strawberry shortcake won, and the Reese’s chocolate bars got “chopped”.


“Chopped”

 

As Governor Andrew Cuomo says, there are silver linings to take from all of this. Of course, no one wishes Covid-19 and all its death had happened to begin with, but it’s important to see the good things, if you can. For instance, a new family ritual has arisen, something we never did before. Most nights these days my family eats dinner together and then plays B.S., the card game. It gets raucous and competitive and is a blast. Normally, on school days, we’re crazed with after school activities, then I’m trying to get dinner on the table in a rush, and then it’s homework time. There’s no time; it’s been nice to have the time.

Another silver lining is of course all the online social connections. I’ve connected with people I haven’t talked to in 20 years. Facetime, Zoom and the good old-fashioned phone have been a god-send, catching up with everyone from my current life to my childhood friends. Cocktail hour via Zoom with my college roommates was the best. Sending texts and memes to and between my earliest friends, so fun. Side note: a shout out to all the comedians and funny people on Instagram – you have seriously gotten me through this! Laughter seems to have been my medicine.

No, these are not laughing times, but if we can’t laugh, then where does that bring us? We have to find comfort in the little things. Whether it’s through de-cluttering, walking, running, cooking, reading, working on our homes, making art, writing, spending time with our kids, playing with our pets, re-connecting with family and friends, gardening, doing home work-outs, and simply laughing – those are going to be the silver linings in all of this. The things we’re normally too rushed to do or appreciate.

 

When I was cleaning out my closets, in the last closet I was cleaning, I found an old bag I hadn’t seen in years. It says: Silverlining. I viewed it as a sign.

 

This article was originally published on fifi + hop (Travel and Adventure, with Kids). Republished by permission.