About jaynezak

"I havent been everywhere, but it is on my list." I can eat anything raw. I can go to the bathroom standing up. I am fluent in hand motions and can speak Spanish in the present tense only.. Though directionally challenged, I can find my way in any airport to the gate and the luggage terminal. I must be an airport savant. I can cram more things into a suitcase than it is supposed to hold. If I have a few drinks, I forget that I cant speak the language of the country i am in. I still carry travelers checks for an emergency thought no one will cash them anymore. I make sure to learn how to say coffee with milk and no sugar in every language. I have accidently used tap water to brush my teeth in countries that you shouldnt and I am still here to write this. I have been to the gynecologist in Greece, the dentist in the Kyushu Islands in Japan and the emergency room in Edinburgh twice ( that trip was with my kids). Heels are my walking shoe of choice. (though I always have the appropriate shoes with me in case I need them) Ive perfected speed shopping and no matter how many bracelets i buy as gifts, it is never enough. Im afraid on small planes. I always have another trip planned (even if it is just in my head) before I return from the one I am on. Those are my credentials. Fly Safe JAZ

Things That I Have Learned In Iceland

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Things That I Have Learned In Iceland

“The problem with driving around Iceland is that you’re basically confronted by a new soul-enriching, breath-taking, life-affirming natural sight every five goddamn minutes. It’s totally exhausting.” Stephen Markley, Tales of Iceland or “Running with the Huldufolk in the Permanent Daylight.”

Icelanders are big shoppers.

Forbes listed Iceland  as the best country for personal freedom in 2015.

In summer, the government hires teenagers to keep the parks, beaches and public places clean. The number of hours depends on your age.

While very close to Danish and Norwegian, the Icelandic language remains unique. Words with far too many consonants abound, and syllables seem to just blur together. Unlike other languages that have changed drastically over the centuries, Icelandic remains very close to its original roots.

Iceland is always building tunnels because the mountain roads are icy and dangerous in winter. The tunnels are  very long and scary narrow.

Gay Pride is huge in Iceland.

Iceland has a 99.96 renewable energy supply. Heat and electricity are the only things that are very cheap in Iceland.The hot water is so cheap that Icelanders are known for their long showers.

Iceland has more hot springs than any country in the world.

It was the smallest country to qualify for a World Cup.

As astonishing as it sounds, Iceland does not have a McDonalds.  Yes, you can find KFC and even Taco Bell in Reykjavik, but forget about picking up a Big Mac or some Chicken McNuggets.

The most popular food in Iceland is hot dogs.

You can also try  whale, puffin, dried fish, fermented shark, sheep’s head, and  pickled ram’s testicles.

It was illegal to import or make beer in Iceland till 1989.

Women’s rights are better in Iceland than the US. It was the first country to have equal pay for men and women. However, don’t wait for an Icelandic man to open a car door for you. 

Iceland was the first country to have a woman president.

Everyone is Iceland is related. Ninety per cent of the population is pure Icelandic. People can now easily, and on the go, look up how they are related  using the bump technology and just bump their phones together to instantly see if they are related.

Speaking of phones, they still have a phone book and it is  in order of first names (like mine). 

Icelanders have a high life expectancy and health and wellness is a priority.

The population of Iceland is a little over three hundred thousand. This population is supposed to have a very sarcastic sense of humor and an accepted level of rudeness.  

Fishing is Iceland’s main industry, and the nation remains one of just a few in the world that still allows commercial whaling. This, of course, is quite controversial, and has caused tension between the peaceful country and other nations.

Free Willy was an Icelandic whale named Keiko.

Game Of Thrones was shot in Iceland.

Do not call Icelandic horses ponies.

If a driver kills a sheep who is wandering on the road, he must go and find the owner and pay him a few thousand dollars.

Birds are the dominant animal in Iceland and there are no mosquitos and snakes.

The most dangerous car accidents involve the tourists short stop in the road to take yet another photo of even more beautiful scenery. Icelanders believe that tourists should be given driving instruction before they rent cars. 

There is little crime in Iceland, and virtually no violent crime. The country does not have a standing army, and its police officers do not carry guns.

Iceland like California is waiting for the Big One (earthquake). 

There are endless names for precipitation in Iceland.

Icelanders are not known for their creativity in naming places – Puffin Island, Glacier Lake etc.

More than fifty per cent of Icelanders believe in elves and trolls. Many less believe in religion. Neopaganism is on the rise (belief in Norse gods).

Fly safe,

JAZ 

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Best Things To Do In San Francisco,California With A Little Help From My Friends

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  Best Things To Do In San Francisco With A Little Help From My Friends

“One day if I do go to heaven~I’ll look around and say, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.” Herb Caen

My  favorite day in San Francisco involves Kabuki Hot Springs – shiatsu massage, hot and cold pools, and fresh crab salad at Swan Oyster Depot. In the afternoon, I head to City Lights Bookstore and eat a cannoli in Little Italy at Stella’s, Mara’s or the first bakery I see.   JZ

 I like Union Square. I know it’s touristy, but when I go there, I always find unique things in their shops – candles, teas, flavored chocolates, cards, household items – things that I don’t see anywhere else.  The shops are really fun. DGB

I never miss the exhibits at the Museum Of Modern Art And The Asian Art Museum. Both gift shops are irresistible. BE

 If you’re ever craving a bit of rustic fine dining (grass fed burger, perfect fries, best pork chop in the city, blue bottle martini) late at night  go to NOPA. San Francisco’s food options shut down fairly early, but NOPA is open late and where chefs go to eat after work. If you like Korean food, go to Toyose. It’s a bit of an adventure in that it’s in a garage…but it’s truly a great and authentic experience. People go there to eat Korean bar food (kimchi fried rice, fried chicken, pancakes etc.) and to drink Soju.  If you’re bar hopping in the mission late at night, go get a burrito at 2am at El Farolito right next to the 24th Street Bart Station.  You’ll see a line of drunk folk going out the door.  Take a walk at sunset on Baker Beach and admire the bridge and all the naked people. When I think of it, San Francisco can be boiled down to burritos and beaches…haha.  NH

Go see the Giants at Oracle Stadium… maybe the best of the new “old school” ballparks, and McCovey Cove is so cool (the Bay is just over the right field wall, and fans chase “splash homers” in kayaks).   CW

I loved  being able to walk everywhere. San Francisco is all hills and some of the views of the city are spectacular. CL

My favorite restaurants are Acquerello for Italian food, upscale, elegant, very skilled chef, attentive wait staff, an evening to remember;  House of Nan King for Chinese food – no reservations, lines out the door at rush hour – worth the wait Tarantinos Seafood –  wharf area, standard traditional fare, very fresh, best location.  Macys Mens Store is an  entire building –  5 floors . The stock shows very different taste – more upscale and better quality than L.A.   BH

I love to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge  and have lunch in Chinatown. It is the biggest Chinatown outside of Asia and the deeper into it you walk, the more authentic it is. BB

I love our mini-neighborhood of Hyde Street between Union and Green on Russian Hill.  Within a block we have Elephant Sushi, Za Pizza,  two Mediterranean restaurants (Frascati and Abrazo), two wine bars and the original Swensen’s ice cream shop. Jayne’s mother (my favorite aunt) once asked ‘Doesn’t anyone in San Francisco ever cook?  LM

One of my favorite spots in the City is the waterfront along the Ferry Building (and the Ferry Building itself). On any day, rain or shine, you can’t get a better view of the water than you do by walking along the Embarcadero, which brings you so close to the water itself. Gulls scream and the boats’ horns blast in the distance. The shops inside the Building include Heath Ceramics–a little curated outpost of the larger stores you can only find in San Francisco and Los Angeles. TFN

Fly safe,

JAZ

 Ten Things That I’ve Learned About Him After Two Months Of Living Together

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 Ten Things That  I’ve Learned About Him After Two Months Of Living Together

“If you can stay in love for more than two years, you’re on to something.”  Fran Lebowitz

Living with another person is always complicated and perfect is not going to happen over night.  You face all the same issues that dating couples face -time together, managing friends, ex-partners — but you also face all the issues married couples face, like household contributions and managing money together.  We slid into certain habits and discuss others.  I think we are just going to have to settle for “really great most of the time.” Here is what I’ve learned so far about him. 

If I leave dishes in the sink for more than an hour, he will wash them. 

He listens to the news all day every day.  Rachel Maddow’s voice echoes in my sleep.  My Trump anxiety is through the roof. 

He has had a few cups of coffee before I wake up and immediately starts talking in depth about whatever is in his brain. My brain is just coherent enough to make coffee. 

He decided not to edit  his photography collection. 

He hates parking. 

He loves to go to the farmers market every Saturday morning and I love to relax and go out to breakfast. We are compromising. 

When he decides to learn a new difficult song on the guitar he plays it over and over for days – which will turn into months until it is perfect. Luckily, it is Beethoven and I love it.  

He talks to me in great detail about guitar fingering and tunings as if I am a person who understands what he is talking about. 

He wakes up happy.

 He often say weird things like babe did you see my keys? did you see my wallet?

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Things That I Want To Do In Iceland

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Ten Things That I  Want To Do In Iceland

“Architects cannot teach nature anything.” – Mark Twain

The Blue Lagoon is probably the most famous attraction in Iceland and this is a geothermal spa which is made of heated seawater that is a striking turquoise color. The waters here had long been said to have healing properties as they contain silica and other minerals.

Explore Reykjavik (and learn how to pronounce it). There is a brightly colored old town with rows of wooden houses. The capital of Iceland has some cool art galleries, restaurants, clubs and cafes.

Located in the capital city of Reykjavik is the Hallgrimskirkja Church which  is the largest of its kind in Iceland. The church is actually modeled on the Svartifoss Waterfall in the south of the country.

Gullfoss Waterfall is perhaps the most famous waterfall in Iceland and lies on the Hvita River. The name actually means ‘Golden Falls’ as the sediment in the water glints gold in the sunlight.

Snæfellsjökull National Park sits on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and is best known for its signature glacier called Snæfellsjökull. It is this glacier that was featured in Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne.

The Tectonic Plates sit on the Þingvellir Plain which is the point between North America and Europe where the plates are shifting away from each other.This movement causes cracks and rifts in the landscape and results in rivers, lakes, and ragged gulleys. There is a path here that you can trace along the fault lines and watch this freak of nature up close.

Rauðasandur Beach has sand that is pink and red against a turquoise lagoon. Sunbathing is not really the most popular activity here as the weather in Iceland is not especially conducive to sunning yourself on the sand.

Half a mile away from the capital city Reykjavik are the islands of Akurey and Lundey which are known for their gorgeous and cuddly puffin colonies. Puffins are cute.

The Leidarendi Lava Caves are famous for their colorful lava interiors, the stalactites and rippling rock formations.

 I want to photograph everything. I hear that this small island has the most diverse and beautiful landscape which changes every two hours.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 Ten Things That I Want to Do In Stockholm, Sweden

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Ten Things That I Want to Do In Stockholm, Sweden

“Don’t you worry about me. I’ll always come out on top.”Astrid Lundgren, Pippi Longstocking 

Visit Fotografishka. Situated in an old red brick on the waterfront that once belonged to the customs department is Fotografiska. It’s a big  photography gallery that delves into the history of the art form, with wall upon wall of stunning images (not unlike my new living space).

Eat Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam because Pippi Longstocking and her friends ate them.

Walk around Gamla Stan – Stockholm’s Old Town. Cobblestone streets, winding alleyways and colorful, classic architecture abound creating a medieval atmosphere.

Go to the Nobel Museum which houses exhibits about the Nobel Prize and its laureates.

On Saturdays and Sundays, Hornstull Marknad is the ultimate hipster flea market. It also attracts the best food trucks. 

On the island of Skeppsholmen at the Baltic Sea entrance to the city is Stockholm’s Museum Of Modern And Contemporary Art.

I might have to go to Junibacken. Based on the stories of children’s author Astrid Lindgren, it is a theme park aimed at young readers. Pippi Longstocking was one of my favorite books. I have to see the Villa Villekula.

I’m not sure about the Abba Museum. They are a cultural phenomenon. It’s a must visit for fans and dancing queens but sounds like it could be a fun thing to do for anyone. 

Stockholm is a city that  lies on the water and has lots of islands. One of the best ways to explore the city (and see it from a totally different perspective) is via a canal boat tour, taking you around the main sights in the city.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Are You A Republican Or Democrat In The Time Of Trump?

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Are You A Republican Or Democrat In The Time Of Trump?

“Thinking is difficult. That is why most people judge.” Carl Gustav Jung

Whenever I ask someone if they are a Democrat or Republican and they are Republican, there is always a silence or I am asked if that will make a difference in how I treat them. That is how I know that they are Republican in the time of Trump. There is such a widening divide between Democrats and Republicans these days. The divergence is everywhere from Washington to my dinner table. We avoid discussing politics in”mixed company” more than we ever have before. 

I think part of it is the media. We all don’t listen to the same objective  news anymore. Our news is biased. Republicans watch Fox News and Democrats watch MSNBC or CNN . Opinion news is our new reality. Between the internet and all the cable networks, you can now get the news with whatever personal  bias you choose.

If someone on the phone tells me that he is Republican, that fact alone would make me think that he is not black, lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual or  nonreligious. If he says that he is a Democrat, I would assume that he is not Evangelical Christian and does not live in Kentucky. There are plenty of people who break their party’s stereotypes but it is not the first thought that comes into my mind.

We can always blame the Russians. It is said  on my news stations that the trolls and bots (still not 100 per cent sure I understand these words) help to increase the fact that life in America is no longer great. It’s now well-established that Russia attempted to influence the results of the 2016 US Presidential Election though the propagation of online misinformation. Whether it did influence the election, and to what extent collusion occurred and by whom, remains a matter of partisan debate. It is a subject we intensely avoid with people who do not share our political beliefs.

As I learned from traveling, when you talk to people  you find out that we are not as different as we think. If we have different political beliefs, we can always find some common ground. Democracy is based on the idea that people from different cultures and different political beliefs can sit at a table and find a solution for the greater good. What is best for America is more important than whether our party wins or gets what it wants.

 We have always been a country where anything is possible and our destiny is in our own hands. We  face huge challenges but so does the rest of the world. We have always had “the right stuff” to ride out the coming storm. We are not a perfect country but we are founded on the loftiest ideals that any country has every articulated. We have to learn, progress and grow.  

Fly safe,

JAZ

A Tramp Abroad

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  A Tramp Abroad

“Nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people.” Mark Twain in a letter, dated May 18th, 1867

They say that books can take you anywhere. Reading is a great way to visit far away places, without having to move an inch. I always want to go everywhere I read about.

Mark Twain is considered to be one of the great writers of the nineteenth century. I read Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in school. There was way too much class discussion about  youth, naivete, racisim, fence painting and Becky Thatcher for a twelve year old girl to relate to.

What I did not know, was that Mark Twain also wrote non fiction and was one of the first travel writers. In the 1880’s he wrote books about travel: The Innocents Abroad , Roughing It, A Tramp Abroad, Following The Equator and Some Rambling Notes of An Idle Excursion. 

I was told about a Tramp Abroad and wanted to read it.  It was free on Apple Books and Kindle. I did not have high hopes for a book that they were giving away.  

The book is about Mark Twain’s travels through Europe “on foot,” except that he takes  every available opportunity to do anything other than walk. He travels by boat, raft, donkey, carriage, train, etc.  Twain has little patience for the standard requirements of travel literature. He dispatches with Baden-Baden, for instance, in a single sentence: “It is an inane town, filled with sham, and petty fraud, and snobbery, but the baths are good.”

The story  is a bit scattered and there are a few too many wordy passages describing mountain ranges, but it is so funny.  It contains some good information mixed up with many amusing anecdotes that lampoon just about everyone. His sharp commentary on society, culture and American tourists in Europe is still relevant over a century later.

 No traveler, whether today or in Twain’s time, would gain any practical benefit from hauling this not short story on a trip. It is not an essential Twain book but should be because it’s educational, informative, and very entertaining.  I am loving it.

Fly safe,

JAZ