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Walking the Camino Santiago – Thoughts and Photos

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Bon Camino! Buen Camino! Bien Camino! I must have heard or said some version of “Good road” fifty times a day for 35 days but never tired of hearing it. That is over 1,750 wishes of good traveling from and to people that honestly meant it – not the oft said Have a Nice Day people say without expecting a response back. Those heartfelt greetings were heard as I walked across Northern Spain from France on the east to Santiago just miles from the Atlantic Ocean on the west.

a foggy start to the day

The Camino Santiago is what they call a pilgrimage and people have been walking these routes since the middle of the 11th Century; some of those cobblestone roads are still in existence today. Many people take this journey for religious or spiritual reasons. Others walk the hundreds of miles to clear their heads – eight to twelve hours a day of walking provides a lot of silent time to think. It can be a social experience – allowing people from all over the world to meet, walk, talk, eat and sometime share rooms together. Many of the hikers, or pilgrims, stay in accommodations called alburques where for a small price people sleep in shared rooms with bunkbeds – I did that twice and, fortunately, got the bottom bunk. In these alburques, those staying there share their stories over evening meals- as best they can as English is not always a traveler’s native language. Most are up early to start their next day’s trek. What people may not comprehend is that there are no maps; I had no guide or GPS; all that we needed to go from place to place were arrows; painted on walls, posts, the ground or made of stones and twigs.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2019 close to 350,000 people took to the road; pent up demand over the next three years elevated the number to near 440,000 travelers in 2022; over 500,000 are expected to journey this year. Along the route in May and June, when I walked the trail, people were amazed at how crowded the roads and towns were; but I found that amazing as I compared some of these villages to old western ghost towns and sang to myself the song Long and Winding Road many times.

Longer articles may follow but right now I want to share photos of my journey along the way.

The Camino starts in a small town in France called St Jean Pied de Port. Here I am enthusiastic and ready to begin.

The scallop shell is the symbol of the Camino. It represents the different routes to Santiago as the ribs of the shell all lead to one spot. It was also carried by the pilgrims as a cup for water and as other utensils that may be needed along the way. My companion’s and my feet are at the first marker of this route. Every long journey begins with one step.

The archway includes a statue of St James who is supposed to have walked this route spreading the gospels. You can see other pilgrims starting their trek with their backpacks. We had heavier loads to carry so we opted for the daily transport service that took our bags from one night stay to the next.

Just steps passed the archway is a beautiful sky and river flowing. Love the reflection of the sky on the still waters.

At the end of our first day on the road, nature presented us with an optimistic sign – a rainbow and Santiago is our goal

An early morning start often starts with a foggy walk through wooded areas until the sun burns through the clouds.

Bon Camino

As we travel from France to Spain our greetings changed from Bon Camino to Buen Camino but all languages are spoken along this journey. We met people from Brazil, Korea, Germany, Japan and every continent except Antarctica.

What you might find most amazing is that we used no maps, no GPS, no tour guides or modern digital guides. Arrows in any form available along the way guided us the entire 500 miles.

The camino has been traversed for hundreds of years and some of the original cobblestone roads still exist (barely). Foot travel and rain water have eroded and moved these stones over the decades making them far more treacherous to walk than if they were no longer there.

So even a flat dirt road can be a welcome path as we walk through fields of wheat and barley.

We have many, many miles to walk and challenges ahead; but, this is not a race so it is essential to stop and smell the flowers.

It is amazing that people say that the trail is crowed this year. Have they never been to Grand Central Station at rush hour?

Family

Tech Gifts for Outdoor Enthusiasts

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Summer is one of the best times to enjoy the outdoors with your family and friends. Here are some great and various modern technologies to add offering exciting options.

GPS Devices

Our first gift option is a GPS. It is a must-have tech gift for summertime excursions. It can be challenging to navigate different locations, but with a reliable GPS, you are assured that you are heading in the right direction. There are many really good options such as the  Garmin GPSMAP 66i. It has comprehensive charting, two-way texting, and SOS features. Another option to check out is Suunto Traverse Alpha.

Portable Laptop Monitor Extender

Are you creative and have multiple things to do simultaneously on your laptops. A portable laptop monitor extension improves productivity and easily connects to all laptops. The Mobile Pixels Trio/Trio Max, is our favorite with exceptional HD displays for multitasking. The Duex Float  can easily adjust with a 180-degree rotation.

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Portable Solar Chargers

A  good-quality portable solar charger will keep your gadgets charged and helps with extended outdoor travel. These portable solar chargers are an ideal option for an off-the-beaten-path excursion with few power outlets. An example is the Anker PowerPort Solar, which has twin USB connections for quick charging. Another option is the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus.

Action Cameras

Want to make an impression give an action camera. These incredible tech gadgets can effectively record all the exciting events in high definition. are favorite is the GoPro HERO9 Black, which is an excellent GoPro action camera with 5K video and modern stabilization. With the option of twin displays, 4K HDR video, and RockSteady stabilization for fluid filming is DJI Osmo Action.

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Wearable Tech

Lastly, a wearable technology that can offer various advantages like a fitness trackers and smartwatches. These presents help monitor your health, navigate paths, and measure fitness data. Garmin Fenix 6 and Apple Watch Series 7 are our picks.

Most travel lovers need the convenience of editing photos/videos, creating captivating content, and more. with a portable laptop monitor extender you have the world at your hands.

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Art

A Weekend In The Hamptons

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I started off my weekend in The Hampton’s at an event for Hamptons Social Magazine.

Ilene Smith and Roger Sichel

Erika Katz and her daughter

The event was at Zadig & Voltaire East Hampton. The beautiful jewlery by Stacy Engman, was highlighted.

Stacy Engman

We were treated to some delicious ice cream and wine.

Then our friend photographer, artist and festival producer, Roger Sichel had a showing of some of his art at at Romany Kramoris Gallery, 41 Main Street in Sag Harbor. We attended his opening

Roger is prolific in creativing experiences that span generations and genres. From creating one of New York’s first erotic film festivals with judges Andy Warhol, Gore Vidal and Milos Forman to producing rock concerts with the Doors, Four Seasons and Isaac Hayes nationwide, Roger identifies most as a cultural observer and photographic journalist. Sichel has now entered the next phase of his artistic career and is choosing to explore neo-pop mixed media, inspired by his own life, as well as current events, while simultaneously preserving the legacy of his work in photojournalism.

Ann Liguori

Ann Liguori

Ann Liguori

The next day we attended the book signing at Barnes and Nobles of  Ann Liguori, sports Radio and TV Personality. Ann is the author of a new book called “Life on the Green, Lessons & Wisdom from Legends of Golf.” Hopefully we will have her on “Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents,” because this book sounds fascinating.

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Film

Maidstone, The Hampton’s And Norman Mailer

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I use to be friends with a woman named Beverly Bently, she has since passed on. She was married to Norman Mailer. For years, I heard about the filming of “Maidstone,” that was filmed in The Hampton’s.

Roger Sichel

This weekend when my friend Roger Sichel said he was going to The Maidstone, I jumped at the chance. Finally I was going to be able to see one of the places the film took place and put the pieces together.

The hotel

The restaurant

They filmed in multiple locations. The Maidstone, itself is a hotel and restaurant that defies time.

The Hydrangeas that surround the property

Walking from the parking lot

What made “Maidstone” so interesting was that it was Mailer’s improvisational attempt to blur the line between documentary and reality. Mailer played a version of himself in the film, as a film director turned political candidate, Bentley his wife and Rip Torn was enlisted to play the director’s contentious brother. During the filming Torn and Mailer improved a brawl that ended up to be real. Torn hit Mailer with a hammer. Mailer responded by biting Torn’s ear. You can see the scene here. Part of the problem was a booze, as well as other substances that fueled an increasingly drawn out shoot in East Hampton, as Torn took method acting a step too far. Both actor’s actually had violent natures, which is highly documented.

Lounging and bikes, for the perfect summer relaxation

Inside elegant comfort

A dinning table to confer with friends

more elegance

Dinning

cozy with a fireplace

more dinning choices

A table laden with brochures and unique gift items

Longing to soak up the sun with a garden view

Besides staying in the main house, you can stay in roomy cottages and you get your own dinning nook

The adorable cottages

It was nice coming full circle and seeing The Maidstone of today. It truly was a step back in time in so many ways.

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Lifestyle

Royal Caribbean Names Meghan Trainor Godmother of Utopia of the Seas

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Royal Caribbean has named GRAMMY-winning artist Meghan Trainor as the godmother of the new Utopia of the Seas.

The duo is celebrating the collab with an invitation for fans to see Trainor name the ultimate short getaway and perform live on a 3-night celebration just days before the new vacation’s official July 19 debut. The party kicks off in Port Canaveral, Florida, where Utopia will sail 3- and 4-night vacations to Royal Caribbean’s award-winning private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau, The Bahamas.

Until today, July 7, at 11:59 p.m. EDT, fans can enter for their chance to join the celebration and find the giveaway’s official rules on Royal Caribbean’s Instagram channel.

On deck for the 3-night cruise is one party after the next, from a live performance on Utopia by the “Timeless” singer while at Royal Caribbean’s award-winning private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas to the one-and-only naming party joined by the newly named godmother. It all takes place just days before the new vacation’s official July 19 debut in Port Canaveral (Orlando), Florida.

“It’s an incredible honor to join the Royal Caribbean family as godmother of Utopia of the Seas and set the tone for the parties to come,” said Meghan Trainor. “The best part is that we get to bring that weekend energy to the stage with my family and fans. What’s better than being on vacation with the people you love and dancing to your favorite music? Let’s make some beautiful memories and get this party started!”

Kicking off the 3-night celebration, Royal Caribbean and Trainor will officially name Utopia in the company of special guests, the ship’s crew members, media, partners and 52 fans – one for every weekend of the year – and their guests. Trainor, as godmother, will join a longstanding maritime tradition when she bestows safekeeping onto the ultimate short getaway, its crew and the millions who will vacation on Utopia for years to come. Keeping the party going will be Trainor’s exclusive show in the iconic open-air AquaTheater, and fans will also be able to slip behind the velvet ropes to meet the star in person.

“Utopia of the Seas is where making the most of the weekend and every moment are more than a state a mind, they’re a reality any day of the week. This is the short getaway that’s all about celebrations, celebrating friends, family and the memories you make together,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Meghan embodies that in every way, from who she is to how she shares her music with the world, making her the perfect godmother to match Utopia’s big weekend energy. We’re thrilled to welcome her to the family and host a party of epic proportions fit for the ultimate short getaway.”

The celebration will set the tone for vacations on Utopia, welcoming adventurers to make more memories on short getaways than ever before with the first of its kind to debut with 3-night weekend and 4-night weekday vacationers. Friends and families can celebrate any occasion or just getting away their way with a lineup of experiences that brings unmatched weekend energy to the table. There’s everything from more than 40 ways to dine, drink and party, including a lineup of parties only on Utopia, two casinos and Royal Railway – Utopia Station, a first-of-its-kind immersive train car dining experience; to more pools than the days to count, thrills; show-stopping entertainment across air, ice, water and stage; and more.

For more information, please visit HERE.

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Broadway

Broadway and Vine Brings Ariana DeBose, Darren Criss, Aaron Lazar, Shoshana Bean and Alan Cumming To Wine Country

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Broadway and Vine, a nonprofit organization bringing the best of Broadway to the best of Wine Country, kicks off its 2024 season on July 9 and 10 at 7:30PM, with Academy Award® Winner Ariana DeBose (West Side Story, The Prom, Schmigadoon, Hamilton) at Carneros Resort Vineyard Lawn (4048 Sonoma Hwy, Napa, CA) in Napa Valley.

The vineyard concert series will continue throughout the summer at Tre Posti Vineyards (641 Main St, St Helena, CA) on July 25th at 7:30PM with Golden Globe, SAG, and Emmy Award® Winner Darren Criss (The Assassination of Gianni Versace, GLEE,  Broadway: Maybe Happy Ending, American Buffalo, Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Aaron Lazar (Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Last Ship, The Light In The Piazza, Les Misérables) on August 28 at 7:00PM  and Two-Time Tony Award® Nominee Shoshana Bean (Hell’s Kitchen, Mr. Saturday Night, Waitress) on September 23 at 6:30PM.

Closing out the season will be Tony Award® Winning Broadway icon Alan Cumming (The Traitors, The Good Wife, Cabaret, Macbeth, The Threepenny Opera) with the Bay Area premiere of his new solo show UNCUT at Francis Ford Coppola’s Inglenook (1991 St Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA) on October 13 at 5:00PM.

Upcoming performers for Broadway and Vine include Jelani Remy (Back to the Future) and Abby Mueller (Six). Additional details will be announced at a later date.

Broadway and Vine was founded and is produced by Tony Award® nominee Jacob Langfelder (Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age, Sea Wall/A Life) with a mission to provide mentorship, masterclass and performance opportunities for students and pre-professional performing artists.

The concert series is paired with world class wineries and wines including Arietta, Chateau Montelena, Inglenook, Frog’s Leap, Lloyd Cellars, Prescription Vineyards, Tansy, Titus, and more. Chefs Nash Cognetti, Jeffrey Jake, and more will showcase their cuisine in the picturesque vineyard and resort settings.   Tickets begin at $95 and are on sale now at www.broadwayandvine.org

Broadway and Vine was founded by Tony Award® nominee Jacob Langfelder (Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age, Sea Wall/A Life). Based in Napa Valley as a vineyard concert series, it launched in 2021 and quickly became a San Francisco Chronicle critics’ pick with concerts by Brooke Shields, Lea Michele, Tony Award® winners Sutton Foster and Beth Leavel, Jelani Remy, Christopher Sieber, Tony Yazbeck and more. Broadway and Vine is a 501(c)(3) with a mission to provide mentorship, masterclasses, and performance opportunities for students and pre-professional performing artists. www.broadwayandvine.org

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