Day Dates In Los Angeles

Day Dates In Los Angeles

“A sip of wine, a cigarette, And then it’s time to go. I tidied up the kitchenette; I tuned the old banjo. I’m wanted at the traffic-jam. They’re saving me a seat.” Leonard Cohen

L.A. is a car city. Most people drive; whether it’s to work or to grab a coffee at the Starbucks down the street. It doesn’t matter if your office is in walking distance, you’ll hop in your car to get there. Since everyone drives everywhere, LA traffic can turn a quick trip into a long commute.

Los Angeles had the world’s worst traffic in 2016  beating out Moscow for the top spot in the rankings released by traffic firm INRIX. According to the survey, Los Angeles motorists spent an average of 104 hours stuck in traffic last year. The worst traffic day is Friday.

I moved to the Venice Marina Del Rey area last summer if you did not read my sad moving blogs. My friends and family live on the other side of the 405 freeway. This means that the city’s congestion now confines me to my own area on week day evenings. Local neighborhoods have had to become more self-sufficient with interesting restaurants, bars, cultural and recreational sources as more and more  people do not want to sit in traffic to go out at night.

It’s traditional to make plans with people at night. I tried when I first moved here to continue to meet people during the week. “I’ll be there in twenty minutes,” I would say when I was in standstill traffic and knew it would be at least an hour. I would have to leave at four o clock for a seven o clock dinner. A two-hour dinner in town became a five-hour dinner with traffic and parking.

I began to only accept invitations to things I had to do – celebrations, rock concerts and a few events. I stopped going to the theatre, ballet and gallery openings downtown on week nights.  All these things were available on weekends. I started to stay home on weekday evenings unless people wanted to drive to the beach or at least to my side of the 405.  I blamed it on my puppy’s anxiety (which is sad but true). My friend’s and family did not want to make the drive here after the first new house inspection. Guys will do it.

 Recently I started making day dates with my friends on the other side of the 405 and the east side of town. If you go to a movie in a crowded mall on an afternoon, the theatre is empty. You can park on the first level and not spend a half hour getting out of the parking lot. The ridiculously crowded restaurants have plenty of space available. The concession stand is empty and will even make a fresh batch of popcorn or pot of coffee if you ask nicely. There are no lines for the bathroom. I do the weekend theatre matinees  downtown and have an early dinner to try a trendy downtown restaurant. Weekend brunches are my best friend though as it gets closer to the summer the traffic  near the beach will be a problem.  Lunch dates always work.  My friends aren’t thrilled with the new arrangement but they are doing it and agree it is relaxing and fun.

I am no longer losing entire days of my life sitting in traffic. There are plenty of other things I can do with those 104 hours.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Day Trip From Florence To Fiesole, Italy

Day Trip From Florence To Fiesole, Italy

“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.” – Giuseppe Verdi

Fiesole is eight kilometers north of Florence. It is an ancient Etruscan city in the Tuscan countryside. There is a beautiful chapel, Roman ruins and spectacular views of Florence.

It’s nice just to go for a stroll, walk around the winding streets and see what ancient wonders you will find, what charming little stores you will stumble across and the locals you will meet along the way. It is full of art, history and literature.

Leonardo da Vinci spent much time in Fiesole testing his flying machine, while Michaelangelo learned his carving trade on the hillside stone works.Robert Browning, who moved to Florence during the Victorian era to elope with fellow poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, mentioned Fiesole in his poem ‘Andrea Del Sarto’

The Archaeological Museum gives you entrance to the Roman and Etruscan ruins as well.  The Roman amphitheater, baths and the Etruscan walls are amazingly well-preserved. The theatre is still in use today.

If you are a fan of the Uffizi, then you will also fall in love with the twelfth to fourteenth century works at the Bandini Museum. There are works from Della Robbia, Taddeo Gaddi, Bernardo Daddi, Lorenzo Monaco and Nardo di Cione.

Fiesole’s main square, Piazza Mino, is the setting for an antiques market every first Sunday of the month. It is also the setting for recurring markets, so it is always likely you’ll find one going on when you visit.

The slower pace of Fiesole after frenetic Florence  makes it easy to go to a coffee-house, bakery or pizzeria and sit and relax in the Tuscan countryside.

The monastery of San Francesco is  located at the top  of the hill. It will be a tough climb but worth the view you’ll have over Florence. There are nice restaurants with great views on the street leading up to the monastery.

If you’re looking to burn off the unavoidable carbs of Italy, you can  hike to Fiesole from Florence, enjoying the steep ups and rapid downs on the curvaceous roads and bumpy country trails. The number seven bus from Florence drops you in the main square of Fiesole. As with all Italian public transportation, watch for pickpockets.  You can also share a taxi with some new friends like I did.

Ciao, Fly safe

JAZ

Countries My Friends And Family Have Emigrated From To America

Countries My Friends And Family Have Emigrated From To America.

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” Warsan Shire

Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica,  Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand,  Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Serbia, Scotland, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe.

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Growing up in New York, with immigrant grandparents, the Statue of Liberty meant something. “Tell us the story of when your parents saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time again” we asked.   My mother would say that to her parents and many like them, the statue meant freedom to live in a country where you could be whatever you wanted to be. America was the place to go to flee from oppression, racism, class-ism and poverty. We understood that it was something special to be born in a country with ideals like that.

America is not perfect. We have racism and poverty. But that doesn’t destroy the dreams it was built on. Millions of people came to America to build a better life for themselves and for their families and still do to this day.

On the Statue of Liberty, there are words I know so well: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” That’s the spirit that made me feel like an American.  I wouldn’t be here without that philosophy.

Fly safe.

JAZ

Things I Have Learned In Queenstown And Milford Sound

Things I Have Learned In Queenstown And Milford Sound

“Rover did not know in the least where the moon’s path led to, and at present he was much too frightened and excited to ask, and anyway he was beginning to get used to extraordinary things happening to him.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Queenstown was originally named the ‘Camp’ by William Rees in 1860. The name Queenstown has two theories, the most common being that it was gold prospectors, captivated by the beauty of the surrounding mountains and rivers, who hit upon its name when they pronounced it a “town fit for a Queen”.  The other is that it was named Queenstown after Queenstown in Ireland (now called Cobh). or basically no one knows.Queenstown’  Some of Rees’ descendants still live here. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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The Remarkables mountain range was so named in 1857 by a surveyor Alexander Garvie who called it that after seeing the dramatic razorback mountain range in all its glory at sunset.  The view across the lake to the Remarkables has now become one of the most photographed in the Southern Lakes region.

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The Remarkables mountain range is one of only two mountain ranges in the world to run directly north to south (the other is the Rockies).

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Every other store  in Queenstown seems to sell either souvenirs of wool and wood or adventures in nylon and neoprene. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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Renowned as Queenstown’s ‘Lady of the Lake’, the TSS Earnslaw steamship was first launched in 1912 – the same year as the Titanic.  It was built by J.McGregor and Co in Dunedin, cost £20,850 to complete. (photo by  Cordula Reins)

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The TSS Earnslaw was a working ship for many years transporting sheep, cargo and passengers to surrounding high country stations.  In 1969 she was retired and purchased by Fiordland Travel (now Real Journeys).  She is now one of the oldest tourist attractions in Central Otago and the only remaining passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the Southern Hemisphere. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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Despite being almost 100 years old, the TSS Earnslaw still works 14 hour days in the summer months and cruises for 11 months of the year.  She even made a brief cameo appearance as an Amazon River boat in the 2008 movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

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 In 1885 all Queenstown hotels were run by women who all happened to be widows.

The Shotover River is known to be the richest gold-bearing river of its size in the world.

Sir Henry Wigley founded commercial skiing in Queenstown in 1947.

Set up in 1958, Queenstown’s Kawarau Jet was the world’s first commercial jet boat business.

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New Zealand’s Kawarau Bridge bungy site (established 1988) was the first commercial bungy operation in the world.

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The highest bungy jump in the Southern Hemisphere is Queenstown’s Nevis Highwire at 134 metres or 45 stories high.

People over 75 years old can bungy jump for free in Queenstown. The oldest person to bungy jump is a 94-year-old man from Southland, New Zealand.

The most people who have bungy jumped together in New Zealand is 8.  The record was set in 1999 at the Kawarau Bungy Bridge.

In September 1999, President Clinton was the first US president ever to visit Queenstown.

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The Frisbee Golf course in the Queenstown Gardens was the first of its kind established in New Zealand and continues to be a popular activity for visitors and locals.

Queenstown’s Skyline Gondola moves 35 cabins up and down Bob’s Peak 365 days a year and at its fastest rate it can move 1,100 people per hour. (photo Cordula Reins)

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When passengers arrive at the top of the gondola they are at 790 meters above sea level. 

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Queenstown’s stunning scenery and world-class expertise makes it an ideal destination for shooting feature films, commercials and promotional videos.  Queenstown and the Southern Lakes region have featured in movies like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Vertical Limit and Prince Caspian.

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At the height of filming the Lord of the Rings, over 500 people a day queued outside the casting rooms in Queenstown.

New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum curator Ian Brodie is the author of the much acclaimed The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook published by HarperCollins.

There are 82 registered wineries in Central Otago. The majority of grapes are Pinot Noir.

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Every Saturday, the Creative Queenstown Arts And Crafts Market enjoys the waterfront setting of Earnslaw Park. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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It’s an opportunity to meet local artists displaying their wares accompanied by live music and memorable views.

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Fergburger is a Queenstown institution. It is not going to be the best burger of your life but  it is a compulsory burger loving thing to do in Queenstown.  Instead of the burger the size of my head I went for the Sweet Bambi and was not disappointed.

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You can order online and get it to go to bypass the lines but I went for the whole Disneyland experience. I hate to say it but I will now be one of those people who says to those of you going to Queenstown- make sure you go to Fergburger.

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The Queenstown area has captured hearts and imaginations since the first Maori came in search of pounamu (greenstone) and the giant Moa bird.

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More recently, gold miners, adventurers, filmmakers, wine enthusiasts, and Hollywood stars have been drawn to this magical region and its intense alpine energy.

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Milford Sound is located in Fjordland National Park in the south-west corner of South Island. Visitors come from all over the world and it is one of the world’s top travel destinations. It is awe-inspiring and Rudyard Kipling called it the eighth Wonder Of The World.

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Milford Sound is the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand. The perfect day in Milford Sound is  one with rain.

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The enormous granite peaks don’t absorb a drop of water and they have no beaches. The result is thousands of stunning waterfalls flowing straight into the fiord.

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The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, and a very different experience to visiting Milford Sound. The hike is absolutely stunning. It is an economically sensitive area so  the local government allows 90 people on the track each day (50 guided, 40 unguided).  You can only hike it for 6 months of the year, whereas Milford Sound itself is accessible year-round. The track was initially developed by Donald Sutherland so people could get to his newly discovered Falls. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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i would like to thank  our guide and extraordinarily patient driver Nick McGregor, Tanya  and everyone at Moatrek and my fellow travelers on this journey for making it a fun and memorable trip.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things That I Have Stopped Thinking About Since I Started Traveling

Things That  I Have Stopped Thinking About Since I Started Traveling

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.’  Lillian Smith

How I look when I travel   I’m a little vain. I’m the kind that doesn’t like to go out without makeup or the right kind of casual attire. (Which jeans should I wear today?) But when I travel, I don’t think about my appearance, which lifts an incredible burden off my shoulders. I wear what’s comfortable, easy to travel in, and just go. I notice from my photos wearing the same clothes in every country, that I have a travel wardrobe. It works.

Personal Drama   Someone is inevitably mad at me because I say whatever comes into my head. There is usually drama in my life. Real relationships and friendships stand the test of travel because going away puts life into perspective. There are people who I miss and keep in contact with while exploring the world. Traveling does have a way of quickly separating strong, healthy bonds from dysfunctional, dramatic ones. Some of the people I have left behind should probably have been left behind a while ago.

Possessions    When I travel, my possessions boil down to essentials. As I packed up my house that I have lived in for a long time, I reminded myself of how little I need around the world.

Anxiety   Traveling keeps you in the present moment. I rarely have anxiety when I travel because whatever I am worrying about is usually not happening at that moment.  It helps me in my not traveling life as well. Not as much as I would like, but I’m working on it.

My weight   I’m genetically a thin person. I’m basically a healthy eater with a closet junk food mentality. I’ve learned that I can eat what I want in moderation . I don’t get on a scale very often any more. I don’t worry that I’m not perfectly ripped and toned. i don’t work out like a maniac. I’m a foodie . I enjoy trying food and restaurants here and abroad. I don’t eat meat or gluten except when I do. My focus has become on everything else around me and not on how I come across. It’s a big thing when you realize the world is not about you.

Social media   The robotic and frequent opening of email and Facebook stops when I am traveling. A lot of places I go to don’t have service and whatever is going on at home seems very far away from what I am doing. Other than posting on instagram and sending out my quotes, I tend to read a lot more instead.

What people think about me   I used to care a lot about what people thought of me and my family. It’s human nature to care what people think.  At the end of the day, you are the one who has to live with the choices you make. Now I only care about where I’m going next.

Having regrets   Everyone has their own path in life, and their own way of achieving it.
When I am traveling, I don’t worry or compare — I know that this is exactly the path I was meant to be on.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Foods I Ate In A Day On A Road Trip Through New Zealand

Foods I Ate In A Day On A Road Trip Through New Zealand

“On the road again. Goin’ places that I’ve never been. Seein’ things that I may never see again. And I can’t wait to get on the road again” Willie Nelson

When it comes to eating healthy on a road trip through New Zealand, the struggle is real. Most people look for food that’s quick and convenient when traveling. There is typically neither time or patience on your side. You have to make do with the options available in the time and space you’re given. Unfortunately, New Zealand doesn’t cater to healthy fast food though gluten-free has come to even the smallest town. 

Breakfast. Breakfast is usually included in many hotels outside of the United States and often served buffet style. Ours ranged from light to full breakfast. I tried to fill up at breakfast eating scrambled eggs (often greasy and not that warm), yogurt (some flavor in a container), fruit, coffee, tomatoes and avocado if available. I  would take apples or bananas if I saw them for the road.

Morning Stop New Zealand makes great coffee so there was always an interesting coffee shop wherever we stopped. Sometimes the coffee was more interesting than other times.

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If I was already car sick, I would have a donut or scone. New Zealand food is very influenced by the UK. Carbs, diet coke and sweet hard candy help me with carsickness.

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I drink a lot of water and I am happy to say that I saved money because New Zealand has the best tap water. I just refilled my bottle where ever we stopped.

Snacks  There is something about being on a road trip that makes you want to eat the kinds of foods that you would never eat at home. Orange cheese chips (called Twisties), Burger Rings (chips that taste like a burger?) and unidentified dried meat in a package look appealing – especially when you are in another country with different snacks.

I bought almonds, walnuts and kiwi fruit. I  bring vitamin C bars, gum, hard candy and Jelly Bellys from home.

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Lunch   We always stopped somewhere that had shopping or photo ops so I wanted to eat fast and not spend the time sitting. Every roadside restaurant serves quiche and mince and cheese pies. Pies are a staple of the New Zealand diet and everyone is eating them.

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Pre made sandwiches seemed to be the healthiest quick option most of the time.  Ham and cheese on white bread with lots of butter – sometimes toasted was my usual lunch. One day somewhere on South Island, I went to a bakery that had sandwiches. I saw a loaf of wheat bread. I asked for ham and cheese on wheat bread without butter. They said that they only made the ham and cheese on white bread.  It was my Jack Nicholson Five Easy Pieces moment.

“You have wheat bread. You have ham and you have cheese.”

“Yes, but we only make the sandwiches on white”, said the girl behind the counter.

“Well, I’d like a loaf of wheat bread – throw it away except for two pieces and I will have the ham and cheese on wheat, hold the butter.”

She said that she would speak to her manager.  She did not look happy but returned with my request and only charged me for the sandwich – best sandwich of the road.

Afternoon stop.  I was usually sleeping after my sandwich and needed a good New Zealand  coffee and something sweet. Hopefully, it would be a banana. Sometimes it was chocolate covered kiwi fruit, Pineapple Lumps( chocolate covered pineapple marshmallowy thing), chocolate covered marshmallow fish, Jaffa (chocolate covered in red hard candy), ice cream or yogurt blended with fruit, pie or Anzac biscuits (oatmeal biscuits from WWll).

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Dinner On long driving days, dinner was tricky. I wasn’t always hungry. Sometimes I would have a proper New Zealand dinner. I loved those green lipped mussels and fresh salmon -or a Maori Hangi – (could be chicken fish, pork, lamb potato, cabbage  and root vegetable such as kumara) cooked in the steam in the ground.

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 Other times dinners were Egg McMuffin, wine and cheese, protein bars, fruit and yogurt,  Fergburger or pizza.

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The thing about a road trip is that the same exact eating starts all over the next day.

Fly safe

,JAZ

President Trump And The Media

President Trump and the Media

“It may not be good for America, but its damn good for CBS “Les Moonves

If you need to boost traffic to your site, increase circulation, get people to pay for internet subscriptions, get higher ratings or bigger audiences – be all Trump all the time.

it is definitely a co-dependent relationship between Trump and the media, especially CNN. Out of all the networks, CNN seems to have given Trump the most air time. CNN is also the most criticized by Trump. He is always talking about how they don’t understand him, report what he says correctly,  have a very liberal point of view and eventually banned them from certain events.

Before the political season, CNN and the twenty-four hour news channels were suffering in the ratings. This campaign changed  all that for them. It also benefited SNL and some of the late night talk shows. TV news ratings surged during the political season. Unknown newscasters have become celebrities through the Trump coverage.  It is no longer Jake Tapper who?

Codependency is a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s failings or mental health issues or perhaps ratings. Are they like a codependent family? It’s exhausting. Trump tweets something crazy at 2am and the news programs go berserk for the rest of the day. The media doesn’t have to do this every single day, but then they wouldn’t get the attention either.

At first I was afraid, that the censorship of the press was the beginning of American fascism. I now see that Trump still gets a lot of criticism from the media every day. As we know in Hollywood, if you need attention, then any attention is good attention.

They hate each other to the benefit of both off them.

Fly safe,
JAZ