Dispatch from Living the Nomadic Life, A Global Odyssey: Indonesia

Sunrise trek to Mount Ijen in far east Java. © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Eric Leiberman and Sarah Falter, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Eric and Sarah are on a 6-month around-the-world sabbatical, joining a huge movement of young people who are choosing to live the nomadic life (at least for a time) and travel or work remotely, becoming immersed in local life and culture. They are filing these dispatches periodically. They previously reported about their adventures in MexicoSouth Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia. Here’s their dispatch (#4) from Indonesia:

Oddly enough, we write this from basically our last day of summer, as we wrap our 3 months of traveling Southeast Asia and head south to Melbourne, Australia tonight where deep winter awaits. If ya’ll are wondering how we are possibly spending every minute of every day together, the answer is our deep, eternal bond and newfound zen mentality. JUST KIDDING, the answer is podcasts, we listen to a lot of podcasts. 

Living the nomadic life. An overnight layover in Singapore Airport. © Sarah Falter/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We kickstarted the month of June with an overnight layover at the Singapore airport, which we were somehow excited for (what is wrong with us?). Perhaps because we expected that we could make our experience at least as good as glamping at this airport-from-the-future. We peacefully strolled the airport’s mall and butterfly garden, and even peeped the medical center and movie theater (sadly no movies during the pandemic), all the while unknowingly giving up any and all of the free sleeping pods. The airport hotels and spas were grossly out of budget, so when 10PM rolled around, cut to Eric on the floor with his trusty eye mask and earplugs, and Sarah curled up on a hard chair with a true-crime podcast to lull her to sleep.

Java, Indonesia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

A short plane-ride later we touched down in Java, Indonesia’s most populous island, where we encountered probably the most difficult language barrier of the trip thus far. We also found ourselves consuming some form of fried rice or noodle, sprinkled with egg, meat and veggies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But our main mission here was tackling two volcano treks; first up- Mount Bromo. We set out on the sunrise trek to the viewpoint of this beautiful volcano at 3:30AM. Along the way we’d come to understand that treks in Indonesia have accessible peaks by many means-jeeps, motorbikes, horses, and even human carts (yes, you can pay approx $35 USD to have three men push you in a rickshaw/adult stroller up the extremely steep face of a volcano).

Fun first day exploring Mount Bromo! © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Fun first day exploring Mount Bromo! © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

At first, Sarah found the many options beyond hiking really cool from an accessibility standpoint (you can take the OT on a sabbatical, but you can’t take the OT out of the OT on the sabbatical.. or whatever). But, we came to find these avenues (including the cart) are utilized by fit people, even dressed in hiking gear (!?). The views were incredible, and we were proud of ourselves for earning the trek, but the peaks were super crowded.

Viewing Mount Bromo volcano at sunrise © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Viewing Mount Bromo volcano at sunrise © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Second, we journeyed to Mount Ijen in far east Java. Mount Ijen is unique in that it is home to one of the last sulfur mines still mined exclusively by hand, and the most sulfuric lake in the world (with a pH of 0.2). Sulfur vents burn neon blue flames in the middle of the night, which is what we were aiming to see when we woke up at 1AM and motorbiked up the dark and steep winding mountain roads to begin the trek at 2AM. 

Sunrise trek to Mount Ijen in far east Java. © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Mount Ijen is unique in that it is home to one of the last sulfur mines still mined exclusively by hand, and the most sulfuric lake in the world © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Mount Ijen trek involved hiking up to the top of the crater, then down into it (with gasmask in hand because of the sulfur fumes) alongside the sulfur miners who do this backbreaking trek with 150–200 lbs of sulfur bricks multiple times a day © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The trek itself involved hiking up to the top of the crater, then down into it (with gasmask in hand because of the sulfur fumes) alongside the sulfur miners who do this backbreaking trek with 150–200 lbs of sulfur bricks multiple times a day (!!). We cheaped-out and didn’t hire a guide, so we stuck close to a guided group during the crater descent for some free advice. The one thing we heard: “be careful this water is very hot” as we came upon a creek. But uncoordinated and distracted Sarah (remember the part above about the murder podcasts?) stepped on the first rock jutting out of the stream, immediately panicked, wobbled, and stepped off her rock, one foot, then two.. *SPLASH* right into water more acidic than battery acid. She quickly scampered to the side, gritted her teeth, and waited for her feet to dissolve. BUT PHEW, by some good fortune, absolutely no harm was done.

Mount Ijen sulfur vents burn neon blue flames in the middle of the night © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Mount Ijen sulfur vents burn neon blue flames in the middle of the night © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Mount Ijen Trek in far east Java. © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Mount Ijen Trek in far east Java. © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The blue fire was cool but Eric was sure we were doing lifelong damage to our eyes and lungs so we snapped some pictures and got THE HELL out of there. We walked back up the crater rim to see the sunrise, and chivalrous Eric lent his dry hiking socks to Sarah before we scurried down the mountain to try to beat the rickshaws. 

Sunrise trek to Mount Ijen in far east Java. © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Mount Ijen Trek in far east Java. © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Mount Ijen Trek in far east Java. © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Our  accommodation down the hill from Ijen–a bamboo hut with curtains instead of walls © Sarah Falter/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We went home to crash at our accommodation down the hill from Ijen–a bamboo hut with curtains instead of walls–which looked quite dreamy online, but the constant ripping from sleep by the sound of critters scurrying around, and in, our hut (and Eric’s accompanying yelps) made this a true instagram-vs-reality situation. The hosts were very sweet, but we were excited to get THE HELL out of there (again).. we packed our bags and took the $1 ferry east to Bali. 

Indonesia as a whole has a Muslim-majority population, but the island of Bali is predominantly Hindu. We observed their appreciation and respect for nature when they’d place offerings of flowers, fruits, and leaves on their doorsteps each day to nourish the gods. North Bali felt largely untouched by mass tourism, and we took serious advantage of the empty beaches and $5 fish dinners (for two).

Once we made our way south to Ubud, we were transported to another world of pre-pandemic travel. Streets full of tourists flocked to cafes where the most popular item on the menu was something like Buddha Bowl, or Keto Kale Bowl. We dabbled in many different yoga classes (even accidentally signing up for 90 minutes of breath work), and ate smoothie bowls to our hearts’ content.

Further south in Canggu and Uluwatu we sat on many-a-beach watching absolutely insane surfer talent, on literally every wave. Though we must admit the beaches weren’t the best for the non-surfers; sticky sand, lots of rocks, and strong currents.

In very Bali fashion, we lunched next to Kelly Slater in west Uluwatu. Unfortch, it was at this spot that Eric’s burrito fell apart as soon as he picked it up. As he was putting it back together, he spotted a worm crawling through the lettuce. Eric plucked it out and we watched it inch across his hand. We had to act cool in front of Kelly of course, so we just made pity faces at each other and shrugged. Eric blissfully chewed on while Sarah stared off in space, thinking about all the bugs we’ve likely consumed, buried in street food this trip.

In very Bali fashion, we lunched next to surfer Kelly Slater in west Uluwatu. © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Before leaving the island of Bali, we followed a friend’s recommendation of spending an evening at The Istana: a luxury wellness and “biohacking” center on the edge of a cliff. After locking up our phones, per policy, we explored the various hot/cold pools and chatted with the characters (mostly expat locals) who frequent The Istana. Along the way we met Poppy, a ~12 year old girl (?? she didn’t actually know how old she was) who was born to British and Swedish parents on a sailboat in Panama when her parents were living at sea for 6 years. She told us she goes to forest school in Uluwatu with 4 other expat kids in her age group, and that her older brother (who sounds like he’ll be a professional surfer) was pulled out of school because his parents thought he was being taught “too many sad things”. Hippie parents take on entirely new meaning in Bali.

On Flores, we spent 3 nights on a remote island living in a beach hut, playing ping pong and attending movie nights & bonfires with the same 30 people every day © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Our last stop in Indonesia (where we write this dispatch) is the island of Flores, a plane-ride east of Bali. This leg of the trip started great – we spent 3 nights on a remote island living in a beach hut, playing ping pong and attending movie nights & bonfires with the same 30 people every day (essentially Jewish summer camp). But when we got back to mainland Flores, things took a turn..

We didn’t intend to spend an entire week at the port-town of Labuan Bajo, but we did. Did we like Labuan Bajo? Lets just say we ate pizza for four consecutive nights and our highlight each day was going to Starbucks and ordering an iced matcha/espresso hybrid (the classic coffee is tragically bad in Indonesia-mostly instant coffee or pour-over in your mug that’s watery and gritty, which while drinking Eric constantly remarked, “HOW IS IT SO BAD, THEY GROW IT RIGHT THERE?! [points to any mountain in the vicinity]”).

This town is known basically for one thing, and that is its proximity to Komodo National Park, a boat ride away. Eric be-friended (then be-enemied) all of the local guys in town running the racket of booking boats. We’d come to learn that the dozen of them are all in cahoots, upselling while funneling you to the same 1-2 boats actually in the harbor. Our boats were confirmed, deposits paid, and then canceled the night before for varying fabricated reasons, keeping us in the vortex of this mind-numbing town for more days than we’ve spent in any single town on this trip (read: gut-wrenching). We finally got a boat on our last day in Indonesia, and saw the elusive Komodo, which exists in the wild only here (it’s a carnivore and cannibal, mothers even eat their own babies so the little ones hide in trees for the first three years of their lives- WTF). Our boat also plopped us on an island with a pink sand beach for an hour, so we left happy 🙂 

We finally get to see the elusive Komodo in Komodo National Park, which exists in the wild only here © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
We finally get to see the elusive Komodo, which exists in the wild only here © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Pink sand beach on Padar Island © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Padar Island, part of Komodo National Park. From here, you can see three beaches on the island – white sand, black volcanic sand, and pink sand © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 

Onward to the depths of winter – first in Australia, then New Zealand then closing out this crazy adventure in South America.

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© 2022 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

‘The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do’ at Museum of Jewish Heritage Holds Lessons, Warning for Today

Seeing the faces, meeting “ordinary people living through extraordinary times,” whose lives, and world were turned upside down, and seeing the same worrying patterns today, is the point of “The Holocaust: What Hate Can D,” the new exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.  © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The visit to the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s new exhibit, “The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do” kind of bookended for me my recent trip to Europe, where I started in Prague and visited the Jewish Quarter and Shoah Memorial, on through Dresden, Meissen, Wittenberg and Magdeburg t, into Berlin. In Dordrecht, Netherlands, I walked on a sidewalk with metal plaques recalling the names of the Jewish families taken from here, and onward to Amsterdam where I visited its Jewish Quarter, with its Holocaust Memorial and Jewish Museum (couldn’t get into the Anne Frank house though because tickets book up well in advance.)..

In this exhibit, I see the faces and personal effects of people who would have come from these places – a shaving brush that belonged to Yaacov Mordechai Satt in the Lodz ghetto has a hollowed out handle as a hiding place for a gold chain given to him by his mother; a piece of soap given to Esther Tikotzki to wash with after she was deported to Theresienstadt (Terezin), just outside Prague; a wooden ornament made by a pharmacist, later murdered at Auschwitz, given to Erika Jolinkova who was deported from Prague with her school friend Gertrude Jojtasova to Theresienstadt (Terezin).

A shaving brush that belonged to Yaacov Mordechai Satt in the Lodz ghetto has a hollowed out handle as a hiding place for a gold chain given to him by his mother © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Museum of Jewish Heritage is devoted to keeping alive the lessons of the Holocaust, which are resonating with all the more volume and pitch today. Putin’s brutal, torturous invasion of Ukraine. The Christo Fascist Supreme Court ending women’s reproductive freedom, autonomy and self-determination, immediately turning half the population into 3/5 of a person. Deciding cases based on Christian orthodoxy; overturning the Separation of Church and State, from Hobby Lobby to allowing a coach to proselytize to players. Marginalizing gays, criminalizing speech, banning books, an attempted violent overthrow of a democratically elected government. A record number of antisemitic hate crimes, as political terror, intimidation and violence take hold in mainstream political life.

What you realize as you go through the first floor of the exhibit is how the cancer takes hold – starting slow and steadily but the coup de gras coming even overnight. Women in the United States can now see this exhibit with different eyes, having gone to sleep believing they had freedom and equality and waking up second-class citizens, lacking bodily autonomy, self-determination and in some places, having their movements tracked and their ability to travel curtailed.

And implicit is the question of the choices and decisions that are made. “Who could have imagined?” can no longer be an excuse for standing by.

“Sadly, the exhibit has taken on new urgency: resistance, immigration, invasion taken on new meaning,” says Michael Berenbaum, consulting curator. “Solidarity in the wake of evil takes on new meaning. We thought this was ancient history. We little imagined how vital the message is in this day, in our time.

“Sadly, the exhibit has taken on new urgency: resistance, immigration, invasion taken on new meaning,” says Michael Berenbaum, consulting curator. “Solidarity in the wake of evil takes on new meaning. We thought this was ancient history. We little imagined how vital the message is in this day, in our time. Events that gave rise to Holocaust are thought to only be in the past, but echoes in our world.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

 “Events that gave rise to Holocaust are thought to only be in the past, but echoes in our world. This reminds people…They understand more clearly what it means to fight for honor, to resist. They understand when seeing people fleeing for life, they need to be welcomed. If this causes people to think twice, to reflect, to imagine what you can do to make a better world, then we have succeeded,” Berenbaum says during a press preview.

This major new exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust that has just opened, The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do offers an expansive and timely presentation of Holocaust history told through personal stories, objects, photos, and film—many on view for the first time. 

The 12,000-square-foot exhibition features over 750 original objects and survivor testimonies from the Museum’s collection. Together, these objects tell a global story through a local lens, rooted in objects donated by survivors and their families, many of whom settled in New York and nearby places, which is resonating with eerie and frightening relevance today.

In keeping with the Museum’s mission to educate people of all ages and backgrounds on the broad tapestry of Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust, the exhibition features countless beginnings, middles, and too many endings that make up the stories of The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do. Each room, and each object, contains generations of experiences and information about who Jews are, what sustains Jewish communities, and what life was like during the period of European modernization, World War I, and the political and social movements that brought about the rise of the Nazi Party. Within the Holocaust experiences of legalized racism and fascism, pogroms, ghettos, mass murder, and concentration camps are instances of personal and global decision-making, escape, resistance, and resilience, and ultimately liberation and new beginnings. 

“The title of our new exhibition speaks to our institution’s very reason for being,” says Museum President & CEO Jack Kliger. “Antisemitism and fascism are again on the rise throughout the world. Right here in New York, we have witnessed not only a surge in antisemitism but an uptick in violence and harassment targeting many marginalized groups. The time to speak out and act is upon us, and it is urgent. We hope The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do will educate and inspire our visitors and honor those who perished in the Holocaust, whose memories are a blessing.”

At the opening of “The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do”at the Museum of Jewish Heritage: Paul Salmons, consulting curator and creative developer; Michael Berenbaum, consulting curator; Bruce Ratner, chairman of the board of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Toby Levy, Holocaust survivor and member of Speakers Bureau; Jack Kliger, president and CEO of the Museum © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Paul Salmons, consulting curator and creative developer of the digital guide that accompanies the exhibit, and is available to all on Bloomberg Connects, raises the question of “what was known, what choices, what decisions, what significance of their action. The Holocaust is not a story of faceless victims or bystanders. It is a profoundly human story. That was our challenge when we created the audio guide. The intensely personal stories behind the artifacts, the documents, the personal  stories of ordinary people living through extraordinary times.”

The exhibit also tells the story of resistance, escape and survival © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Indeed, so many of the objects on view are those everyday items –an engagement ring fashioned from a silver spoon given by Eli Rigman to Henny Rosenbaum on August 22, 1943, to mark their engagement while they were imprisoned in the Riga ghetto. She kept it on even after Eli was killed cleaning minefields, even as she was deported to several camps and during forced labor in 1944, her fingers swelled from the cold causing the ring to crack, even so, she kept the engagement ring on”. There is a photo that brings chills, of the happy couple celebrating with their friends, another photo of Henny Rosenbaum from 1937 shows this happy young woman.

An engagement ring fashioned from a silver spoon given by Eli Rigman to Henny Rosenbaum on August 22, 1943, to mark their engagement while they were imprisoned in the Riga ghetto. She kept it on, even after Eliwas killed cleaning minefields, even as she was deported to several camps and during forced labor in 1944, her fingers swelled from the cold causing the ring to crack, even so, she kept the engagement ring on.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

They create a thread for the visitor to follow one family – the bag used to scavenge scarce food in the ghetto, the cooking pot the family used. The wonder is how they were able to trace back these objects to the people, connect with their stories, even photographs.

“We address common myths and misconception that Jews didn’t fight back or resist.” On display is a shirt that one of the freedom fighters wore in the forest – there were 30,000 Jewish partisan fighters in the forests of Eastern Europe. They fought the German occupation and rescued Jews – 1200 Jewish refugees lived in one camp which had its own medical center and school.

“We were unrecognizable as women.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

They fought back and resisted in other ways, as the exhibit shows. Fighting the dehumanization, they fashioned ID bracelet;  a Star of David necklace made by Margit Rosenfeld in Auschwitz using material from the inside of her shoes and brown thread from her garments. “Something of their identity, their past life in a place of utter dehumanization.” They also secretly observed religious service, taught school, some were able to create art, music.

A Star of David necklace made by Margit Rosenfeld in Auschwitz using material from the inside of her shoes and brown thread from her garments. “Something of their identity, their past life in a place of utter dehumanization.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The films that have been made, the powerful survivors testimony, and the audio notes narrated by … are available to museum goers as well as people who do not personally visit, on Bloomberg Connects app, which can be downloaded for free. The Bloomberg Connects partnership allows access to the museum’s collections and educational resources. “The partnership demonstrates the commitment of the museum to make this vital story accessible.”

Toby Levy, a Holocaust survivor and a member of the museum’s Speakers Bureau, relates, “The year I was born, in Poland (now Ukraine, near Lebov), was the same year Hitler came to power.  Jews lived in this place for 1000 years. Life was OK. My father was a merchant – I don’t remember much. We lived nicely until 1939. In a divided Europe, our part was in Russia. But in 1941, Germany broke the pact. We tried to run, but there was no place to run. We were locked in and out. No help from anywhere, especially in my part of Poland. The first day the Germans walked in, they made it clear who they are and who we are and where we’re going.

Holocaust survivor Toby Levy, a member of Museum of Jewish Heritage Speakers Bureau:“I have my revenge. I am alive, enjoying my life, have Jewish children, grand children, great grand children.” But she warned against “revived anti-Semitism. I’m scared now, not for me – I’m old – but for my children, grandchildren. Everyone must become a witness. Be a witness for me when I’m gone.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 

“My father realized immediately that none of us will make it, even though my father had been a German soldier in World War I. He realized these weren’t the same Germans, that the Germans were lying. Germans used the language of deception when they said they would relocate Jews. There were 5000 Jews in our town. Some say Jews followed like sheep. But we had no place to go.

“My father approached many people to try to find someone who would hide us. Stephanie Struck said she would. We were a family of four, then my aunt and uncle and their children, grandparent, we became 9 people. Two Ukrainians saved 9.” The family remained in hiding in her barn from 1942-1944.

“In hiding, my father talked had a tallit and whatever money he had; he gave material to Stephanie for food.  We were four children – 4, 6, 8, 12 years old. I was 8. My father tried to teach us not to hate. “Hate will bring you to where you are today. Be kind, be moral, be a good person.”

“I have my revenge,” she says. “I am alive, enjoying my life, have Jewish children, grand children, great grand children.”

But she warned that antisemitism is very much revived. I’m scared now, not for me – I’m old – but for my children, grandchildren. Everyone must become a witness. Be a witness for me when I’m gone. Understand what it is to be antisemitic. That’s how started in Germany – language, media has to understand what anti-Semite is. Colleges are full of it. Our children are not prepared because they take for granted [religious freedom in the United States].”

Indeed, one of America’s great historic figures, a leading capitalist, Henry Ford, was a leading proponent and propagandist for antisemitism. I knew he was an anti-Semite but did not realize that he propagated antisemitism through his newspaper, in which he serialized the Protocols of the elders of Zion.

A Brazilian edition of “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion fabricated records detailing secret meetings of Jewish leaders planning world domination – is the most widely circulated antisemitic text of modern times,” the notes that accompany copies say. Plagiarized from a 19th century French book unrelated to the Jews, Protocols (author unknown) it  was first published in Russia at the turn of the 20th century. In 1920 Henry Ford used it as the basis for ‘The International Jew’ article series in his newspaper. In 1938, American priest Father Charles Coughlin serialized The Protocols in new newspaper, ‘Social Justice,’ and  the book played an important role in the Nazis’ antisemitic propaganda campaign. “Some still believe its claims today.” Indeed, the imagery of an international Jewish cabal of financiers and media moguls is being used by MAGA candidates and elected and is so often connected to charges of those who advocate for social justice and economic opportunity as socialists and communists.

So it is understandable why Henry Ford, a pioneering industrialist, would embrace anti-Semitism.

The exhibit notes, “Antisemitism flourished in early 20th century America. The Great Wave of Immigration (1881-1914) brought 2.2 million Eastern European Jews to America, fleeing persecution and seeking opportunity. They were often met with suspicion, and even violence. The 1917 Russian Revolution raised fears of Jewish immigrants being internationalists and Bolsheviks. In 1915, an Atlanta mob hung Leo Frank, accused of murdering a 13-year old girl. During the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan targeted Blacks, Catholics and Jews. Car manufacturer Henry Ford published the International Jew in his Dearborn Independent newspaper. Based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which described an international Jewish ruling conspiracy, the article series alleged such a conspiracy was infiltrating America. It ran from 1920 to 1924, reaching hundreds of thousands of readers.”

Antisemitic caricature depicting Jews profited from the war, likely World War I. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

(Also on view is a letter of apology that Henry Ford was forced to write under a legal settlement after being sued by for by Jewish publisher Herman Bernstein for libel against himself and against the Jews of America. See https://mjhnyc.org/blog/herman-bernsteins-fight-for-truth/).

The letter of apology that Henry Ford was forced to write under a legal settlement after being sued by for by Jewish publisher Herman Bernstein for libel against himself and against the Jews of America is on view.

It is an important exercise to see how antisemitism is cultivated, developed, spread and used as a weapon of power – the theme that dominates the first floor of the exhibit – and then the effect on ordinary people, how their lives are upended, a dominant theme of the second-floor of the exhibit.

There were efforts to sound the alarm in the United States and in the world that were ignored © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 

But there is a flip side – the story of resilience, resistance and survival – and ultimately the responsibility of the others – the leaders of other countries, the foundations and organizations, the bystanders. The exhibit concludes with the formation of Israel, the immigration of Jews to America and other places, the Nuremburg trials which were supposed to make Hitler-wannabes think twice.

“America must act now.” An advertisement in the New York Times pleading for help for Jews © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

I learn for the first time of the Ritchie Boys – German-Jewish refugees, originally considered “enemy aliens” who were recruited to be an advanced intelligence combat unit. Trained at Fort Ritchie, Maryland, they were returned to Europe where they had just escaped, risking their lives to use their linguistic and cultural skills for combat, interrogation and lie detection. They fought in major battles and succeeded in gleaning tactical information from captured German soldiers. After the Allied victory, the Ritchie Boys interrogated thousands of war criminals and civilians. We meet “Ritchie Boy” Fred Neumann who emigrated to the US in the 1930s, enlisted in 1942, and worked as an interrogator and investigated the Ohrdruf and Buchenwald concentration camps.

“Ritchie Boy” Fred Neumann emigrated to the US in the 1930s, enlisted in 1942, and worked as an interrogator and investigated the Ohrdruf and Buchenwald concentration camps. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“Working on The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do has been one of the high points of my professional career,” says co-curator Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz, Professor and Director of Holocaust Research in the Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. “As a historian specializing in the Holocaust, I have always taught my students, through stories and documentation, about what happened, and why it happened. Here, for the first time, I can actually show people how it happened and to whom it happened through hundreds of objects and graphics, most from the Museum’s collection, via the stories of the people behind the artifacts, through wall texts and an audio guide, documentary films and survivor testimonies, all put together in a unique and thought-provoking display. The Holocaust may be part of the past, but hatred, and what it can do, are very much part of our present. This path-breaking exhibition serves as a stark reminder of what can happen if that hatred is not stopped in time.”

The exhibition was curated by a team of esteemed Holocaust scholars, historians, and Museum curators that included Professor Baumel-Schwartz, Scott Miller, Ilona Moradof, and Rebecca Frank, and consulting curators Professor Michael Berenbaum and Paul Salmons. The Scholars Advisory Group included Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi, Dr. Charles L. Chavis, Jr., Rabbi Sholom Friedmann, Atina Grossman, and Paul Wasserman. 

“It is a particular point of pride for our institution that this exhibition gives new life to the Museum’s collection. The hundreds of artifacts, many of them donated by survivors, that visitors will experience were all donated to our institution with extraordinary trust and vision, and we are grateful. Each offers up its own story, and together these artifacts present an irrefutable record of history,” says the Museum’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Bruce Ratner. 

The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do is the Museum’s first exhibition to open in its core galleries since its award-winning and widely acclaimed Auschwitz. Not Long ago. Not far away. concluded last spring.

“We are proud and honored to be long-time supporters of The Museum of Jewish Heritage, an eternal memorial to those who perished, but also a beacon of hope: the hope that through learning from history we can avoid repeating the tragedies of the past. We are privileged to support this important new exhibition and the expansion of the Museum’s vital educational mission,” says Lily Safra, Chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, a lead funder of the exhibition.

The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do is an important exhibit, highlighting the impact of unchecked hatred. It is imperative that future generations understand that the Holocaust was not only a state-sponsored murder of the Jews but was, in many cases, also a communal act of complacency. Only through education can we begin to understand the outcomes bigotry and social silence inflicted on the Jewish people during the Holocaust. It is our job to give voice to the 6 million Jews who were murdered in that annihilation and to help future generations avoid the same complacency,” says Gideon Taylor, President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, a lead funder of the exhibition.

Photos of Child Prisoners at Auschwitz: Auschwitz-Birkenau identification photos of child inmates were taken by Polish portrait photographer and prisoner Wilhem Brasse,, ordered to document prisoners in the camp by SS administrators. From top left to bottom right: an unidentified Ukrainian boy, Mamet Merenstein, Anatol Wanukiewicz, Anna Weclawik, Czeslawa Kwoka, Janina Bleiberg, Helena Zalewska, Jadwiga Repec, Jozefa Glazowska, Alex Meller, Krystyna Trzesniewska, and Emilia Lis.

“We were eight brothers and one sister with loving parents; only me and my brother Yankel survived. I am from Lodz and was in the Lodz and Warsaw ghettos, the Deblin and Auschwitz death camps, and on the death march from Magdeburg. As a survivor, number 189897, I feel a responsibility to teach the lessons of the Holocaust—that hate is an insidious murderer of humanity. May we never forget those who perished in the Holocaust, and may we always be courageous in standing up to hate. This is why I am so happy to support the work that the Museum of Jewish Heritage is doing, especially in such an important city like New York, that embraces its diversity as a strength,” says benefactor David Wiener.

Prisoner Number issued to Dora Krymalowska, Wittenberg, Germany, Feb. 1944-April 26, 1945. Dora Krymalowska wore this prisoner number while doing forced labor at a German airplane factory. The yellow bar signifies she is Jewish, the red triangle with black P signifies Polish © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“Eighty years ago, on May 29,1942, my great grandparents Berel and Sara Fish Hy”d and Velvel and Zissel Poltorak Hy”d perished in mass shootings alongside 287 other Jewish families (over 800 people), all of whom were relatives and friends in Yanushpol (renamed Ivanapol after the War), Ukraine,” says Eli Gurfel, a major donor. “I honor their memories with my support of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and the importance it places on diverse Holocaust scholarship to broaden Holocaust awareness and education. As Elie Weisel said, ‘Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness.’ Especially given current events in Ukraine, my hope is visitors will see this exhibition and come away with broader understandings of what happens when hate and bigotry go unchecked.”

The audio tour guide accompanying the exhibition, available for download through the free Bloomberg Connects app, features narration from actress Julianna Margulies, winner of eight Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and a Golden Globe, and Eleanor Reissa, the Tony-nominated director, Broadway and television actress, prize-winning playwright, author of the memoir “The Letters Project: A Daughter’s Journey,” and former artistic director of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell, acclaimed vocalist and Yiddishist, and actress Lauren Lebowitz are also featured on the audio guide, for which Paul Salmons Associates provided creative development (Paul Salmons, tour concept and historical interpretation; Leah Kharibian, scriptwriter).

The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do is made possible with leadership support from The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, The Oster Family, Patti Askwith Kenner and Family, Edmond J. Safra Foundation, and Evelyn Seroy in memory of her parents Julius & Ruth Eggener. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, click here ($18/Adults, $12 ADA/Access, Seniors, Students, Veterans; FREE to children under 12 and NYC DOE K-12 students; FREE to Holocaust Survivors, active members of the military, first responders).

Museum hours: Sunday, Wednesday, Friday: 10AM to 5PM; Thursday: 10AM to 8PM; closed on all other days, on Jewish Holidays, and on Thanksgiving.

A Living Memorial to the Holocaust

The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is New York’s contribution to the global responsibility to never forget. The Museum is committed to the crucial mission of educating diverse visitors about Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust. The third-largest Holocaust museum in the world and the second-largest in North America, the Museum of Jewish Heritage anchors the southernmost tip of Manhattan, completing the cultural and educational landscape it shares with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage maintains a collection of almost 40,000 artifacts, photographs, documentary films, and survivor testimonies and contains classrooms, a 375-seat theater (Edmond J. Safra Hall), special exhibition galleries, a resource center for educators, and a memorial art installation, Garden of Stones, designed by internationally acclaimed sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. The Museum is the home of National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene and JewishGen.

In addition to The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do, also on view is Boris Lurie: Nothing To Do But To Try, a first of its kind exhibition on the 20th century artist and Holocaust survivor on view through November 6, 2022.

Each year, the Museum presents over 60 public programs, connecting our community in person and virtually through lectures, book talks, concerts, and more. For more info visit: mjhnyc.org/events

The Museum receives general operating support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts.

Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, 36 Battery Place, New York City, mjhnyc.org,646-437-4202.

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© 2022 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

New York Philharmonic Returns to Parks; Photo Highlights of Central Park Concert

The New York Philharmonic with Music Director Jaap van Zweden make a triumphant return to Central Park presented by Didi and Oscar Shafer © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The 2022 New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, made a triumphant return to Central Park on Wednesday, June 15, marking the return of the beloved series following two years of cancellations due to the pandemic. It was the second of four free outdoor concerts conducted by Music Director Jaap van Zweden – the first had taken place at Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx on June 14, followed by Cunningham Park, Queens (June 16); and Prospect Park, Brooklyn (June 17). All four outdoor performances conclude with a fireworks display.

Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducts the New York Philharmonic and soloist Bomsori Kim in Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in its free concert in Central Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The stunning program includes Wagner’s Prelude to Act I of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with a masterful performance by Bomsori Kim as soloist, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7, and works by New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers: 14- year-old Naama Rolnick’s Keep Walking, who wrote her sensational piece at the age of 10 and who flew in from her home in Israel to enjoy hearing it played by the New York Philharmonic, and 17-year-old Alexander Rothschild Douaihy’s thrilling “A Human Rhapsody,’ which he composed at the age of 15.

New York Philharmonic’s Young Composers program played works by 14- year-old Naama Rolnick’s Keep Walking, who wrote her sensational piece at the age of 10, and 17-year-old Alexander Rothschild Douaihy’s thrilling “A Human Rhapsody,’ which he composed at the age of 15 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In addition, Musicians from the New York Philharmonic are perform inga Free Indoor Concert, on Sunday, June 19, 2022, at 4 p.m., at St. George Theatre in Staten Island. (Tickets are free but required.)

“Like so many New Yorkers, Didi and I missed tremendously the Concerts in the Parks these past two summers,” said Philharmonic Chairman Emeritus Oscar S. Schafer. “We love the parks, and we love this orchestra, so we’ve been eagerly awaiting their return. We look forward to seeing people come together in these beautiful parks across the boroughs to enjoy magnificent music performed by this virtuosic orchestra. It will truly mean that New York City is back!”

New York Philharmonic Chairman Emeritus Oscar S. Schafer, who has been presenting the orchestra’s free concerts in the parks series for 15 years, welcomed the audience back to Central Park: “We love the parks, and we love this orchestra, so we’ve been eagerly awaiting their return. We look forward to seeing people come together in these beautiful parks across the boroughs to enjoy magnificent music performed by this virtuosic orchestra. It will truly mean that New York City is back!” Some 15 million people have enjoyed the “priceless music for free, under the stars.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“What a joy to be returning to the Parks of New York after two years of not being able to perform for the Parks’ audiences,” said Music Director Jaap van Zweden. “Music speaks to our hearts better than any language, and the New York Philharmonic players and I cannot wait to reconnect with the thousands and thousands of people throughout the Boroughs of New York who come to the Parks to hear us.”

The New York Philharmonic with Music Director Jaap van Zweden make a triumphant return to Central Park presented by Didi and Oscar Shafer © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“We are so excited to welcome back the New York Philharmonic for the iconic Concerts in the Parks series!” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “This series brings together people from all backgrounds to enjoy world class music for free, in some of our most picturesque parks — this is summer in New York at its best!”

The New York Philharmonic’s free parks concerts have become an iconic New York summer experience since they began in 1965, transforming parks throughout the New York area into a patchwork of picnickers, and providing music lovers with an opportunity to enjoy “priceless music absolutely free, under the stars”. More than 15 million listeners have been delighted by the performances since their inception. All programs are subject to change.

Picnicking in the park is a tradition for enjoying the New York Philharmonic’s concert in Central Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The New York Philharmonic concerts in the parks presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer conclude with a fireworks display © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Here are more photo highlights from the Central Park performance:

The New York Philharmonic with Music Director Jaap van Zweden make a triumphant return to Central Park presented by Didi and Oscar Shafer © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The New York Philharmonic with Music Director Jaap van Zweden make a triumphant return to Central Park presented by Didi and Oscar Shafer © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducts the New York Philharmonic and soloist Bomsori Kim in Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in its free concert in Central Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducts the New York Philharmonic 1 in its free concert in Central Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducts the New York Philharmonic and soloist Bomsori Kim in Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in its free concert in Central Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Soloist Bomsori Kim gives a masterful performance of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the New York Philharmonic in its free concert in Central Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducts the New York Philharmonic 1 in its free concert in Central Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Soloist Bomsori Kim gives a masterful performance of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the New York Philharmonic in its free concert in Central Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducts the New York Philharmonic 1 in its free concert in Central Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Soloist Bomsori Kim gives a masterful performance of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the New York Philharmonic in its free concert in Central Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducts the New York Philharmonic and soloist Bomsori Kim in Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in its free concert in Central Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducts the New York Philharmonic in its free concert in Central Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The New York Philharmonic with Music Director Jaap van Zweden make a triumphant return to Central Park presented by Didi and Oscar Shafer © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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© 2022 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

DISPATCH FROM LIVING THE NOMADIC LIFE, A GLOBAL ODYSSEY: MALAYSIA TO CAMBODIA

Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Eric Leiberman and Sarah Falter, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Eric and Sarah are on a 6-month around-the-world sabbatical, joining a huge movement of young people who are choosing to live the nomadic life (at least for a time) and travel or work remotely, becoming immersed in local life and culture. They are filing these dispatches periodically. They previously reported about their adventures in Mexico, South Korea and Vietnam. Here’s their dispatch from Malaysia and Cambodia:

Salutations from the two-shower-a-day club! We both agree that if these last four weeks of our trip had a title it’d be “Never Not Sweating”. The combination of oppressive humidity and laundry machines that never seem to get our clothes fully clean nor fully dry (could definitely be user error, still unclear) make us think the clothes we brought will never smell normal again. BUT the lingering scent of delicious food past, present & future prevails!

Cat Ba island © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Since our last update, our love fest for Vietnam continued a couple weeks longer with visits to Cat Ba island (including an epic stay on a houseboat amongst a floating village of 200+ dwellings), Central Vietnam (Hoi An & Da Nang for a change up of beach yoga, morning runs, and smoothie bowls), and Ho Chi Minh city before boarding our flights to Malaysia. We definitely squeezed out every last drop of our hard-earned 30-day visas.

Penang © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Malaysia really surprised us in the best way. We immediately appreciated the multiculturalism and quieter calm of daily life, which was a pretty stark contrast to our previous month in Vietnam. The melting pot of Indian, Chinese & Malay populations with all the many permutations of ethnic and religious cultures within each group made for a wide sampling of options every meal. And we were reintroduced to traffic lights and crosswalks, adding the months back to our lives that we likely lost from the heart palpitations navigating the streets and highways of Vietnam.

George Town, Penang © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

Penang © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Air Itam, Penang, Malaysia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The places we visited were a pretty broad sampling of western Malaysia. Penang, a gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage site, is a food stall mecca with funky street art woven throughout. It scores extra cuteness points for being home to the smallest national park in the world. Langkawi feels like how we’ve heard/imagined Kauai to be, amazingly lush and mountainous with lots of wildlife and white sand beaches. Here, we treated ourselves and balled out on Eric’s Marriott Bonvoy points at the Ritz Carlton, enjoying every free amenity the hotel had to offer and surviving almost solely on contraband fruit, cereal, instant noodles and turn-down snacks (hey, we’re on a budget y’all.. don’t judge!).

Penang © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Ritz Carlton, Langkawi, Malaysia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Ritz Carlton, Langkawi, Malaysia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Langkawi, Malaysia   © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

And our last stop in Malaysia landed us in Kuala Lumpur, which has a cool hybrid feel of both East and Southeast Asian megacities with its traditional houses and stray animals juxtaposed next to sleek luxury skyscrapers (spectacular infinity pools with massive skyline views are a dime a dozen).

Langkawi, Malaysia   © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Langkawi  Kedah, Malaysia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Ritz Carlton, Langkawi  Kedah, Malaysia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Ritz Carlton, Langkawi  Kedah, Malaysia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Ritz Carlton, Langkawi  Kedah, Malaysia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Malaysia   © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Malaysia   © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In our experience, the only thing we found to be stronger than the infinity pool game in Malaysia was the army of monkeys. We encountered them pretty much everywhere we went – during both city and jungle explorations, on beaches, and even on our hotel balcony. It was cute and fun for a while, but it got personal when Sarah was peacefully enjoying her apple with peanut butter, only to look up (at first excitedly) to see monkeys gripping the balcony rails. This excitement quickly turned to terror as the gaggle of conspirators jumped to her, and one mother monkey with baby hanging on ripped the PB jar right from Sarah’s grasp (which is quite strong, not sure if anyone here has ever tried to take PB from Sarah). Sarah is trying her best not to now think of them as glorified rats, and has Eric to remind her diligently of our shared ancestry (monkeys are Eric’s favorite animal.. shocker). Yesterday, a new friend we met on the train told us a monkey recently ripped her pants attempting to get a snack from her pocket! No thanks. Sarah’s mind is set for now.

Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia © Sarah Falter/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Next, we skipped over to Cambodia to see the ancient temples of Angkor, just north of the town of Siem Reap. We were blown away to learn that this site was home to 1 million people at its height about 900 years ago (the largest pre-industrial city in the world, with 1/400 people on the PLANET living there). The temples throughout the 250 square mile archaeological park are in varying states of being consumed by the jungle due to a combination of factors over the years – namely neglect, war, vandalism and (thankfully) restoration efforts.

Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

More fun factoids – the temples have changed hands (and actual coats of paint) between different religions over the years, based on the beliefs of whoever ruled at the time. Originally Hindu, then swapped to Buddhist, then back to Hindu again when the leading man embraced Brahmanism. Many of the Buddha statues were defaced in some way (missing a head or an arm). But can you blame the people?!.. sounds very confusing to be constantly switching horses on the path to salvation! -Editor’s note: Eric thought that was funny; Sarah thought offensive.

Angor Wat sunrise © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Eric dragged Sarah out of bed at 4AM three consecutive days in a row in order to be at the Angkor temples for sunrise. But Sarah admits it was pretty special to be on the scooter on those dark mornings, slowly making our way through Siem Reap with the few locals and shopkeepers awake at that hour. It was also so worth it to escape the heat of the day and have many of the temples all to ourselves (our guide told us that pre-Covid this site could see 12,000-13,000 tourists per day, compared with 400-500 right now). We feel lucky to be able to tour the utterly magnificent sites with such freedom, but heartbroken at the economic impact the pandemic has had on so many in the tourism industry. Some we’ve met have lost their homes/homestays/hotels, and many changed their jobs entirely (to farming, fishing..) to make ends meet. They all vocalize that they can’t wait to see more and more tourists again. 

Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Kuala Lumpur © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We went on to continue the whole not-really-sleeping thing for our first week in Indonesia, first due to an overnight layover at the Singapore airport, and then chasing first light for some epic volcanoes in Java. We’ll be making our way east in Indonesia over the next month, so please send over any/all recommendations! Sarah is 50/50 at this point in thinking we should do a week-long silent retreat.

See also:

DISPATCH FROM LIVING THE NOMADIC LIFE, A GLOBAL ODYSSEY: MEXICO

DISPATCH FROM LIVING THE NOMADIC LIFE, A GLOBAL ODYSSEY: SOUTH KOREA TO VIETNAM

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© 2022 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Dispatch from Living the Nomadic Life, a Global Odyssey: South Korea to Vietnam

For our Oxalis tour of the Hang Tien cave system we strapped on army boots (provided) and spent the next three days walking straight through rivers, jungle and caves © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Eric Leiberman and Sarah Falter, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Eric and Sarah are on a 6-month around-the-world sabbatical, joining a huge movement of young people who are choosing to live the nomadic life (at least for a time) and travel or work remotely, becoming immersed in local life and culture. They are filing these dispatches periodically. They previously reported about their month in Mexico. Here’s their report from South Korea and Vietnam:

“This is the way so many of the great meals of my life have been enjoyed. Sitting in the street, eating something out of a bowl that I’m not exactly sure what it is. And scooters going by. So delicious. I feel like an animal. Where have you been all my life?” -Anthony Bourdain eating in Vietnam (and we couldn’t agree more). 

We write this second installment of our sabbatical dispatch from Phu Quoc, Vietnam (an island in the Gulf of Thailand very close to the Cambodian border).  We were very stoked to make it into Asia just a couple of weeks after border re-openings, and it’s been fascinating (and at times eerie) to be some of the first tourists here.

We spent our first week traveling Asia in Seoul after Eric was denied entry into Vietnam because he accidentally mistyped the entry month on his e-visa (*Note: if you want to read Eric’s best Aaron Sorkin impression in further documenting the gripping drama of being turned away at the border, see the PS). In South Korea we saw 100% mask compliance inside and outside everywhere we went (though those smoking cigarettes on the street get a nonsensical pass hehe), and never in our lives have we seen every single person in sight staring at their smartphone! It can look dystopian at times. Sarah happily embraced the quiet, introverted culture. Eric had to fight the impulse to chat up uninterested locals. 

Seoul © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

But, we came together in our love for chilly mornings spent at the market scarfing down some impressive form of dumpling/kimchi soup while seated on heated benches, saving room for lots of lunch/dinner Korean bbq (and in Seoul you don’t lift a finger when prepping your bbq–it’s all done for you by extremely impressive waiters who manage 8+ grills at once). We also checked out a local baseball game where cheering is technically banned because of Covid (cheer in your heart), though when a team scores, their fans impulsively scream anyway. To our delight, the stadium allows BYO beer/soju and fried chicken, all conveniently sold right outside.

 

Joining the fun at a baseball game in Seoul © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Our second attempt at clearing customs in Hanoi went off without a hitch (thanks to Sarah triple checking all of Eric’s documents), and being able to finally taste the forbidden fruit made it all the more sweet! We immediately felt invigorated by the delicious smells coming from every direction, and having to be on our toes when crossing the street (the rushing river of cars/scooters never stop, they just, without fail, go around you). We loved figuring out that what seems like complete and utter chaos really has a very predictable and harmonious rhythm to it. 

Hanoi, Vietnam © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Hanoi, Vietnam © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Hanoi, Vietnam © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Hanoi, Vietnam © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In the food department, we quickly realized that the best meals come from street stalls with tiny plastic chairs and just one thing on the menu. The insane combination of unlimited chewy rice noodles, tangy broth, chilis, crunchy peanuts, and mountains of herbs make every dish a choose-your-own adventure of deliciousness. We could’ve been convinced that some of the street food we were eating for $1-2 came off a Michelin tasting menu – the Bun Cha and Banh Cuon were especially incredible. We also learned that the French colonial rule in Vietnam is what sparked the popularity of bread here, consumed daily by millions in Banh Mi, and re-invented with rice flour here. We’ve enjoyed the food scene endlessly, but there is also a hint of sadness in this reopening world. Many stalls/restaurants we research and can’t wait to try have no reviews the last two years, and, we come to find, have just disappeared. 

Continuing on in Hanoi (our favorite city in Vietnam) we were captivated by the Hoa Lo Prison, where French colonists imprisoned and killed Vietnamese political activists in the late 1800s through the mid 1900s, and this same location is where American POWs were incarcerated during the Vietnam War. Learning about the many generations of occupation that the Vietnamese have endured brought us deeper meaning and reflection as we thought about the US’s recent departure from Afghanistan and Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine. And we also really enjoyed the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, where we learned how valued women are in the work and family unit in northern Vietnam, and that Vietnamese women even propose marriage.

With the constant beat of vehicle horns in the air in Hanoi, Eric was beginning to itch to get on a motorbike (no shock there). So, we hopped on an overnight bus north to Sa Pa and hired a motorbike guide named Kin- a pure soul, the same age as Sarah and a father of three. Kind Kin said yes to all of Eric’s crazy ideas and before we knew it we were motorbiking from Sa Pa to Ha Giang along the Chinese border (a total of about 500km over 3 days) stopping at small homestays on our scenic way. 

Settling in on the overnight bus north to Sa Pa, Vietnam © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Motorbiking from Sa Pa to Ha Giang© Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Kin said yes to all of Eric’s crazy ideas and before we knew it we were motorbiking from Sa Pa to Ha Giang along the Chinese border (a total of about 500 km over 3 days) stopping at small homestays on our scenic way © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Stopping at small homestays on our scenic way © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Motorbiking from Sa Pa to Ha Giang© Sarah Falter/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Kin said yes to all of Eric’s crazy ideas and before we knew it we were motorbiking from Sa Pa to Ha Giang along the Chinese border (a total of about 500 km over 3 days) stopping at small homestays on our scenic way © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Motorbiking from Sa Pa to Ha Giang© Sarah Falter/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Motorbiking from Sa Pa to Ha Giang© Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Motorbiking from Sa Pa to Ha Giang© Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Motorbiking from Sa Pa to Ha Giang© Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Stopping at small homestays on our scenic way © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Eric did all of the driving while Sarah dutifully snapped pictures and videos from the bumpy backseat. The scenery was absolutely stunning-terraced rice paddies (which we learned are made that way for irrigation) every shade of green, heaps of green tea drying in the sun, and farmers markets where locals insist we sit down for “Happy Water”–Vietnamese moonshine–which Sarah does happily and Eric does also happily but with more responsibility because he is our forever DD. Lots of fog rolled in in the north, which made us appreciate the views when it did clear, even more.

Our campsite for our Oxalis jungle trek-caving trip © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
For our Oxalis tour of the Hang Tien cave system we strapped on army boots (provided) and spent the next three days walking straight through rivers, jungle and caves © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
For our Oxalis tour of the Hang Tien cave system we strapped on army boots (provided) and spent the next three days walking straight through rivers, jungle and caves © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Trekking through the jungle to get to Hang Tien caves © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Trekking through the jungle to get to Hang Tien caves © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We moved south to central Vietnam so that Sarah could realize her bootcamp potential, signing up for a multi-day jungle trekking & caving tour. The caves in Phong Nha, Vietnam, are otherworldly. In fact, the world’s largest cave is here (Hang Son Doong–first discovered by a farmer by accident just three decades ago, and so big it has its own rainforest!). We found availability on a tour of the Hang Tien cave system with the tour company Oxalis (highly recommend), so we strapped on our provided army boots, and spent the next three days walking straight through rivers and caves (fully clothed in long layers to protect against plants and insects), and then scaling rocks up and down in order to capture some incredible Vietnamese nature. Our group of 10 (5 domestic and 5 foreign travelers) bonded Birthright style during the tentside hangouts, and we were fed constantly (and deliciously) which kept us smiling 🙂 despite the unrelenting heat and humidity.  (https://oxalisadventure.com/ contact@oxalisadventure.com)

Exploring the Hang Tien cave system with the tour company Oxalis © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Exploring the Hang Tien cave system with the tour company Oxalis © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Exploring the Hang Tien cave system with the tour company Oxalis © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Exploring the Hang Tien cave system with the tour company Oxalis © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Exploring the Hang Tien cave system with the tour company Oxalis © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Dining al fresco inside the cave © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Exploring the Hang Tien cave system with the tour company Oxalis © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Exploring the Hang Tien cave system with the tour company Oxalis © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Our campsite in the Jungle during our Oxalis jungle trek-caving trip © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Our campsite in the Jungle during our Oxalis jungle trek-caving trip © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

After a desperate shower and laundry session we made our way to Hue, also in central Vietnam. Eric wasted no time seeking out a tailor for his absolute favorite–custom clothes. His request was so specific, that our amazing tailor Bo (we really have met people unbelievably patient with Eric here) offered to take us to the fabric market to pick one out that she didn’t carry at her shop. One scooter ride together and a couple of hours later she nailed it! Sarah also got her first custom clothing with Bo and agrees, it is really fun. Another highlight of Hue-the salt coffee. Each region of Vietnam highlights a unique version of their rich coffee, but our favorite variation is this one–salted cream that perfectly compliments the strong black coffee blend creating an almost caramel taste. 

Picking out fabric for our custom-made clothes in Hue © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Done! Custom-made clothes © Sarah Falter/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We now find ourselves on the beach in Phu Quoc, southern Vietnam. Sarah is wrapping up book number three and Eric is taking the hotel’s paddleboard about 100 times further than the buoy’s limits. The hotel seems to be approximately 10% full. Seeing as we now recognize every fellow guest were living out our White Lotus moment giving them all backstories and deciding who will get murdered (just kidding!! and watch the show White Lotus if you haven’t yet!). We continue to thrive on almost strictly street food–we went to a nightmarket the other night with a German couple from our cave tour and to Eric’s delight, found Banh Mi with steak and runny white cheese a la the Philly Cheesesteak, and sea urchin with herbs and peanuts. No food is left untried. And while Eric has been brave enough to weigh himself this week (somehow lost weight!?), Sarah continues on in ignorant bliss. 

The beach in Phu Quoc, southern Vietnam © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

* * *

PS – So there we were..3 flights and 36 hours of travel from Mexico City to Hanoi (by way of Dallas and Tokyo). It was 11PM. We were beyond exhausted because we had to wake up at 2:30AM in Mexico City to return our rental car and get to our first flight. We slept but a wink on the planes, but the in-flight viewing of the Anthony Bourdain and Alpinist docs (both must-sees btw) sustained us and we were stoked to have touched down in Asia. 

BUT NOT SO FAST the travel gods said. At immigration in Hanoi, Sarah lifted her bucket hat and mask, flashed her million dollar smile and breezed right through to the promised land. But the immigration officer looked longer at Eric’s documents. “You have to go over there,” the officer said after a few minutes of scrutinizing the documents. A lot of back-and-forth with immigration officers and airline attendants facilitated by the Google Translate app ensued, and Eric came to realize that the dates on his e-visa were wrong – it was for a May 9th entry, not April 9th. An hour of pleading for a date change on the existing visa or the issuing of a new visa on arrival fell on deaf ears. “You need to get on this plane back to Tokyo now,” the officers forcefully told him. “But my partner is on the other side,” he pleaded.

The airline officer ran to retrieve Sarah while Eric placed dead end calls to the US embassies in Vietnam, Korea and Japan. Pleading to let us book different flights to countries that were newly open to US tourists like Thailand, Singapore or Korea (instead of Japan, which was still closed, and we expected once we got there they’d tell us we needed to go all the way back to the US) didn’t work either because these countries, while open, still needed processing time for visa/Covid paperwork.

After fortunately being reunited at the boarding gate (and Sarah’s last attempt at pleas to stay), the officers forced us onto the plane for Tokyo stating our passports were now being held in the cockpit and that we’d be blacklisted from ever entering Vietnam if we didn’t board the plane NOW. We felt beyond exhausted and defeated, but quickly fired up our laptop for the 6hr redeye flight back to Tokyo to investigate our options.

Thanks to persistence and a lot of help from our travel savvy family, we were able to show proof of flights and visa documentation in Tokyo to ensure we could enter Korea and wouldn’t need to be forced all the way back to the US (and btdubs for future reference, when something like this happens, you are responsible for paying whatever the flights costs which is astronomical because of the same day booking rate; so tl;dr don’t be like Eric and always quadruple check the dates on your visas!)

© 2022 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Dispatch from Living the Nomadic Life, a Global Odyssey: Mexico

San Miguel de Allende, a 3-4 hour drive from Mexico City, is a very charming town, known for its colonial architecture which drew many artists in the 20th century © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Eric Leiberman and Sarah Falter, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Eric and Sarah are on a 6-month around-the-world sabbatical, and are filing these dispatches periodically. Here’s their report after a month in Mexico before moving on to Asia.

We finally did it–rented out our house, packed a tiny sliver of our possessions into four packing cubes inside a large backpack, strapped on our water shoes and hit the road for the adventure of a lifetime–six months of uninterrupted travel! We have now been traveling together for exactly five weeks and we’re delighted to share that we still like each other!!

 

Setting off on our six-month, around-the-world sabbatical © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

After visiting our beloved family in LA and NY, we spent the first month of our trip traveling throughout Mexico.

We began in Mexico City (for a brief bit, then later returned), where the ridiculously long lists of food recommendations did not disappoint. Then to Oaxaca with our travel bestie Julie, where colorful winding streets all lead to delicious mole. We did an awesome Airbnb experience where we learned about all seven types of mole and that the labor intensive process + cost of ingredients dictates when they are consumed (for example verde every day after school, up through negro, which can take a week to prepare for special occasions like weddings). And we tried this very delicious treat in Oaxaca called a Tlayuda!?!? It’s like a giant pizza/crepe layered with beans, cheese, lettuce, meat, and then folded and roasted over an open charcoal oven (enjoyed with a multitude of salsas). And speaking of SALSA, Sarahs new obsession is salsa macha. It’s a deep and bold, sharp and spicy salsa, and its made with crushed PEANUTS (kind of like the Bitchin’ sauce of salsa, IYKYK!)!? It is divine and we ordered it with pretty much every meal from that point forward.
Our food odyssey in Mexico © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Our food odyssey in Mexico © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We’d come to learn that this sort of deep, bold and soulful flavor was uniquely Oaxacan, and was pervasive throughout their history, cuisine & art. They have a fascinating history of protest and human rights advocacy that permeates the art all throughout the city – from the large format street murals to the gallery walls in fine art museums. It is dark and expressive with lots of skulls, fire, protest depiction & political symbols. Learning more about this history brought new meaning to the intense flavors of mole and mezcal.

Our food odyssey in Mexico © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We continued our journey on a 7-hour drive almost entirely on mountain roads with dramatic switchbacks to the coast of Oaxaca (Eric drove and Sarah passed out on drowsy Dramamine). Over the next week, we made stops at three beach towns: Puerto Escondidio, Mazunte, and Playa Bocana. Puerto Escondido prevails for its cliff-like coast line and amazing street entertainment (imagine our surprise when a man with a guitar and an amp shows up on the beach, usually a nightmare scenario at any Bay Area park, and ends up providing the most perfect sunset vibes)! 

Off beaten track beaches in Mexico © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Mazunte gave us some good laughs because its “hippie” vibe is out of control and almost cartoonish; you’re weird if you actually wear shoes around town/on hikes, and if you don’t like acai and bulle proof coffee you need to get your ass out of there. But, thankfully, we (gladly) dabble in some aspects of the hippie lifestyle, so the vegan nomz, acai bowls & a two-hour (very stinky) yoga class were a welcome change-of-pace. Eric even bought a turquoise pendant (maybe a Buddhist symbol? We’re not sure; we’re posers) there that he wears most days now as a lucky charm 🙂 

Off beaten track beaches in Mexico © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
A sunrise swim © Sarah Falter/goingplacesfarandnear.com

And the last stop on the Oaxacan beach tour was La Bocana; a true surprise gem. It is a tiny town with just two restaurants, one boutique hotel and several local women who provide mud scrubs (with the special mud from this beach) daily.

Our Oaxacan beach tour takes us to La Bocana, a tiny town with just two restaurants, one boutique hotel and several local women who provide mud scrubs (with the special mud from this beach) daily. Our AirBnB is a mere 50 yards from a spectacular long stretch of beach that feels like it is all ours © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Our cute little airbnb was a mere 50 yards from a spectacular long stretch of beach that felt like it was all ours. And when we started exploring the beach, we’d come to discover that a 15-minute walk up the beach led to the intersection of a gorgeous river with the ocean; which was utterly picturesque and made for a best-of-both-worlds situation of enjoying the beach while swimming in the calm of the river. During our short stay at La Bocana beach, we made both sunset and sunrise pilgrimages to this beautiful spot. Anyone who knows Eric knows he can’t resist a sunrise/sunset swim. And we ate delicious camarones a la diabla (shrimp in spicy sauce) and fresh langosta from that river basically every meal there, happily.

Our food odyssey in Mexico © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The return to Mexico City was a happy one because we were excited to spend more time exploring and Sarah’s mom Marci came to join for a week! Major highlights included visiting a Luis Barragan house, discovering more neighborhoods/parks & going to the Mexico vs. El Salvador World Cup qualifying futbol game (where we tried nearly every food item sold in the stadium.. even Cup of Noodles with shrimp & hot sauce which yes, is cold and soggy by the time they sell it to you at your seat!)

Enjoying the Mexico vs. El Salvador World Cup qualifying futbol game © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Another gem we discovered in Mexico City is the weekly shut down of major streets on Sundays (up to 50km we learned) to promote safe and uninterrupted biking/running/roller blading. We stumbled upon this by accident in our first CDMX stint, and were so excited to show Sarah’s mom! We went basically the entire route out to the big park, down to the neighborhood of Coyoacan, and back. Mexico City is truly as lovely and vibrant as everyone says it is. It’s like the best of both worlds of East and West Coast US cities; it has the serendipitous cosmopolitan feel of NYC with the wide open green spaces of LA/SF. Everyone is in love with Mexico City these days and it’s obvious why.

Last stop on the tour landed us in San Miguel de Allende, a shorter 3-4 hour drive from Mexico City. San Miguel is a very charming town, known for its colonial architecture which drew many artists in the 20th century. It’s a must to find a terrace to enjoy the sunset, taking in the gorgeous pink church and red rooftops while obliging every other couple’s request for a photo (Eric is a hot commodity because he takes multiple angles and never skimps on the portrait mode). Eric did finally succumb to the first round of food poisoning of the trip here (which is shocking given what he’d eaten in the previous 4+ weeks), though he recovered in a day and we’re happy to report that Sarah’s stomach of steel is still going strong (knock on wood).

San Miguel de Allende is a charming town, known for its colonial architecture which drew many artists in the 20th century © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
San Miguel de Allende is a charming town, known for its colonial architecture which drew many artists in the 20th century © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
San Miguel de Allende is a charming town, known for its colonial architecture which drew many artists in the 20th century © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Eric and Sarah in San Miguel de Allende, get ready to continue their around-the-world odyssey in Asia.

At the present moment, we’re in Seoul after a failed attempt at Vietnam entry (and over 50 straight hours of travel), but were super stoked to begin the Asia chapter of our travels, where Sarah’s love for headbands and bucket hats is bound to flourish. It’s crazy and refreshing how “home” has become having each other, and our backpacks….

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© 2022 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Photo Highlights: US Navy Blue Angels at the Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach

US Navy Blue Angels demonstrate their daring-do in their F/A-18 Super Hornets  at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The US Navy Blue Angels were the headliners at the 2022 Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend, performing their heart-stopping maneuvers in their F/A-18 Super Hornets.

The two solo US Navy Blue Angels demonstrate their daring-do in their F/A-18 Super Hornets  at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend, coming at each other at 500 mph © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

The Blue Angels were formed in 1946 by Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester Nimitz, who had a vision to create a flight exhibition team to raise the public’s interest in naval aviation and boost Navy morale (and likely Congressional funding). In the 1940’s, the demonstration team thrilled audiences with precision combat maneuvers in the F6 Hellcat, the F8 Bearcat and the F9 Panther. During the 1950’s, they flew their aerobatic maneuvers in the F9 Cougar and F-11 Tiger and introduced the first six-plane delta formation, still flown to this day. By the end of the 1960’s, the team was flying the F-4 Phantom, the only two seat aircraft flown by the delta formation. In 1974, the Blue Angels transitioned to the A-4 Skyhawk, a smaller and lighter aircraft with a tighter turning radius allowing for a more dynamic flight demonstration. In 1986, the Blue Angels celebrated its 40th Anniversary by unveiling the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet. In 2021, the team began flying its current aircraft, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and celebrated its 75th anniversary.

US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 
US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

A total of 17 officers voluntarily serve with the Blue Angels at one time, according to the Blue Angels’ website www.blueangels.navy.mil/. Each year the team typically selects three tactical (fighter or fighter/attack) jet pilots, two support officers and one Marine Corps C-130 pilot to relieve departing members. They typically serve two years with the team and then return to the fleet after their tours of duty.

US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 
US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

Who gets selected? “The Chief of Naval Air Training selects the “Boss,” the Blue Angels Commanding Officer. Boss must have at least 3,000 tactical jet flight-hours and have commanded a tactical jet squadron. The Commanding Officer flies the Number 1 jet. The Chief of Naval Air Training also selects the “XO,” the Blue Angels Executive Officer. XO is a Naval Flight Officer (NFO) or Naval Aviator with at least 1,750 flight-hours.

US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 
US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

“Career-oriented Navy and Marine Corps jet pilots with an aircraft carrier qualification and a minimum of 1,250 tactical jet flight-hours are eligible for positions flying jets Number 2 through 7. The Events Coordinator, Number 8, is a Naval Flight Officer (NFO) or Naval Aviator who has finished their first tour. The Marine Corps pilots flying the C-130J Hercules aircraft, affectionately known as “Fat Albert,” must be aircraft commander qualified with at least 1,200 flight hours.

US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 
US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

“The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the teamwork and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps through flight demonstrations and community outreach while inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country.”

US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 
US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets demonstrate their legendary precision at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

Just about every two years, the Blue Angels come to the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach to thrill audiences. This year, they performed in front of a capacity crowd of 181,000. Here are photo highlights.

US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets demonstrate their legendary precision at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Navy Blue Angels in their F/A-18 Super Hornets demonstrate their legendary precision at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Blue Angels typically alternate with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds who are scheduled to headline 2023 Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach next Memorial Day weekend.

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© 2022 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Photo Highlights: Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach

The U.S. Army’s Golden Knights parachute team brings in the American flag to open the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach this Memorial Day weekend as hometown hero, stunt pilot David Windmiller of Long Island, flies rings around the flag. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

A capacity crowd of 181,000 turned out at Jones Beach State Park for the 2022 Bethpage Air Show on Sunday, May 29 (after the Saturday show was all but cancelled due to poor weather).

Viewers were thrilled to see The United States Army Golden Knights Parachute Team making their 16th appearance at Jones Beach, military performers including the Air Combat Command F-22 Raptor, the U.S. Navy F-35C Tac Demonstration Team, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the 106th Rescue Wing NY Air National Guard HC – 130 / HH 60 Demonstration Team.

Three World War II planes from The American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale circled over the crowd including a Douglas C-47, a supply and troop transport plane with stripes on its fuselage so allies knew not to shoot it down. The others were a British Curtis P41 Warhawk and a P-51 Mustang © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

They witnessed the daring do of Jessy Panzer, a renowned female aerobatic pilot, flying for her second time at Jones Beach in a bi-plane; three of the American Air Power Museum’s flying fleet of Warbirds; the SUNY Farmingdale State College Flying Rams; Long Island’s own David Windmiller; and Mike Goulian, the most decorated aerobatic pilot in North America.

The US Navy’s F-35 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
If one US Navy F-35 is exciting, two are thrilling © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Mike Goulian, the most decorated aerobatic pilot in North America performs at the Memorial Day weekend Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Jessy Panzer, a renowned female aerobatic pilot, flying for her second time at Jones Beach in a bi-plane © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Long Island’s own David Windmiller performs at the Memorial Day weekend Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Air Combat Command F-22 Raptor © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Also, the world-famous Skytypers, who are based at Republic Airport (and basically invented and patented skytyping) demonstrated thrilling combat maneuvers in their flight squadron of five vintage WWII aircraft.

The Skytypers, based out of Republic Airport on Long Island, perform in every Bethpage Jones Beach Air Show © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Skytypers, based out of Republic Airport on Long Island, perform in every Bethpage Jones Beach Air Show © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Skytypers demonstrate combat maneuvers at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Skytypers demonstrate combat maneuvers at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Skytypers, based out of Republic Airport on Long Island, fly World War II era training planes © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See next: Photo highlights of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels

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© 2022 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Photo Highlights: TD Five Boro Bike Tour Returns to 40 Car-Less Miles of NYC Streets with 32,000 Riders

32,000 cyclists set out on the 44th edition of the TD Five Boro Bike Tour from lower Manhattan © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

On an absolutely perfect, sunny spring day when New York City is at its absolute best, the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, the world’s largest charity bike ride, returned to its full strength: 32,000 cyclists, hailing from all 50 states and 32 countries, got to 40 miles of car-free streets across all the city’s five boroughs.

Italian cyclist Massimo Stefani leads the second wave of the 32,000 cylists in the 2022 TD Five Boro Bike Tour 32,000 cyclists set out on the 44th edition of the TD Five Boro Bike Tour from lower Manhattan © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In addition to being the largest bike ride in the United States, it’s the most diverse and inclusive ride in the world – with people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities, said Bike New York CEO Ken Podziba.

Bike New York CEO Ken Podziba © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The sheer joy and delight – omnipresent for the ride – was particularly exuberant this year for the 44th edition of the bike tour after a hiatus in 2020 and last year’s (held in August instead of May) limited capacity of 20,000.

Riding up 6th Avenue through Greenwich Village © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Cheerleaders, bands, banners and signs, marquees greeted and cheered on the riders as they made their way up through Manhattan, into the Bronx, back into Manhattan, down the FDR Drive (a personal favorite), over the Queensborough Bridge (what a view!) into Queens and along the revitalized waterfront, then over another bridge into Brooklyn, onto the highway and over the Verrazano’s one-mile expanse, into Staten Island to the Finish Festival at Empire Outlets on Staten Island’s North Shore, before taking one of New York City’s best rides back to Manhattan,  the Staten Island Ferry (and in my case, a delightful ride up the Hudson River Greenway). 

NYC’s iconic Radio City Music puts greetings to the Five Boro Bike tour riders on its marquee © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

What is so special about New York City’s TD Five Boro Bike Tour is how, for one day, you and 32,000 of your closest friends, feel like you own the city. The streets, bridges and highways – like Sixth Avenue, the FDR Drive, the Queensborough Bridge, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Verrazano (the longest suspension bridge in the Americas) are your domain. It makes you giddy. Neighborhoods – so colorful, with their distinctive personalities and character, ring with sound and spirit – Greenwich Village, Harlem, Astoria, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, DUMBO, Staten Island’s north shore. Central Park’s blossoms seem to burst open just for us.

Just three of the 1200 volunteers, marshals, captains, who serve snacks, refill water, help with bike repairs, give care if there is an accident, stop/slow traffic, shout cheers of encouragement along the route © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Some 1,200 volunteers – captains, marshalls, EMTs, bike repair people, people who hand out snacks and refill water bottles – add to the Big Apple-sized welcome riders receive.

The annual event raises money for bike education. Bike New York operates bike education centers, after school programs, summer camps, as well as its first membership program.

Four of the 50 members of the LetsShareaMeal.org group from New Jersey (Sikhs: Warming Hearts & Bellies) pose on the Queensborough Bridge. The TD Five Boro Bike Tour is the largest charity ride in the world. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Numerous charities also use the event for fundraising, purchasing registrations which participants then raise money against.

The ride is designed to be a family friendly tour, not a competition, appealing to all abilities, ages – volunteers hold signs to slow the pace and alert riders to turns and obstacles.

Riders in the TD Five Boro Bike Tour span age groups, right down to this young fellow © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

TD Bank has been the title sponsor for the past 16 years; Manhattan Portage was the presenting sponsor.

Among the dignitaries on hand to send the cyclists off: Ken Podziba, President & CEO of Bike New York;  Andrew Bregenzer, Regional President of Metro NY – TD Bank; Su-Hwei Lin, CEO  of Manhattan Portage; New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez;  Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine; NYC Council Members Christopher Marte and Lincoln Restler; and representatives from Prosecco Cycling, including Italian elected officials.

More information about events and programs offered by Bike New York at bike.nyc.

Here are more photo highlights:

Riders are sent off by the choral singing of the national anthem © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
“Always Conquering. Never Conquered.” The TD Five Boro Bike Tour is the most diverse, inclusive ride in the world © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Gotham Cheer cheers on riders as they exit Central Park into Harlem © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Angela “Missy” Billups and the Voices of New York© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Bomba Yo performs for riders as they ride through the Bronx © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Special treat – a personal favorite: biking down the FDR Drive © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Another special treat: biking the Queensboro (Edward Koch) Bridge from Manhattan to Queens © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Coming down the ramp off the Queensborough Bridge you get a perspective of the city you can’t get otherwise © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
A thrilling ride coming down the ramp off the Queensborough Bridge you get a perspective of the city you can’t get otherwise © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
A rest area in Astoria Park, on Queens waterfront © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 
The TD Five Boro Bike Tour is distinguished by the colorful neighborhoods, like Greenpoint, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Live Poultry Slaughter (Comedy Club) in Greenpoint, Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
One colorful scene after another – you get to the city’s granular level.  You go through real New York City neighborhoods © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Riding through DUMBO, in Brooklyn © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
One of most dramatic and iconic views of the ride: Empire State Building framed by Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO, is very popular with TD Five Boro Bike Tour riders © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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© 2022 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Bike Tours Are Most Satisfying Way to Experience World Sustainably; Operators Expand Horizons

Biketours.com bike-and-boat trip among the Greek Islands © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Celebrate Trails Day on April 23 follows immediately after Earth Day for a good reason – biking fulfills the best attributes of sustainable, responsible travel while minimizing the adverse impacts of tourism. Biking lets travelers, adventurers, explorers experience places far and near with the least carbon impact of going place to place; taking the slow-road so you can really connect to local communities you would never see otherwise and spending your tourism dollars with the people who need it most; you can stop and get off to interact with people, take a photo, travel at a pace and a perspective – sitting in a saddle without the wall of windows – to really see, focus, smell the roses, and yet have an ever changing view to see, with the excitement and intrigue of new experiences that might be around the next bend.

And then there’s that endorphin thing that happens as you pedal and take in the fresh air that revs the brain and fills you with good feelings. And biking also affords  a way to be in community but socially distanced and in open, uncrowded spaces.

Tour operators are responding to the desire to explore by bicycle with new itineraries, near and far: such as close-to-home (reachable by car) programs that take advantage of New York State’s new 750-mile Empire State Trail (you can ride north-south from the tip of Manhattan to the Canadian border and west-east from Buffalo to Albany), or for a close-to-home foreign experience, biking in Quebec, as well as to trips to exotic locales – like New Zealand, Vietnam, Chile. Or how about Albania, Bulgaria or Transylvania?

More offerings that combine boat and bike make the trip even more convenient (you only unpack once) and add a special element of plying waterways by a small river boat, canal boat or barge, or go from island to island. And many offer an e-bike option, opening a whole new dimension for exploration on two-wheels, especially for people who are concerned about physical abilities.

Here are examples of what’s being offered:

Discovery Bicycle Tours’ Coast of Maine cyclists enjoy a classic view at Thurston’s Lobster Pound © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Discovery Bicycle Tours has an amazing array of itineraries in the United States (including new itineraries on the NYS Empire Trail), Canada, Europe, Chile, New Zealand and Vietnam. What I love best (I biked with them last summer on the Maine Coast/Acadia national park, and before that Vermont) is that the programs are really geared for a vacation, the guides there to make your experience purely enjoyable. There are all these extras, as well. A new itinerary on New York’s Empire State Trail; an itinerary on the Erie Canal Trail and New York’s scenic lakes, canal path from the Buffalo area with added scenic riding along Lake Ontario to the Finger Lakes on six-day Erie Canal & NY Lakes tour; a new 3-day Hudson Valley Weekend tour (bike car-free paths & quiet roads, dine at the famous Culinary Institute of America and visit a family-owned winery; a gentle six-day Lake Champlain Islands bike tour with beautiful views of the Green Mountains and Adirondacks; and a challenging six-day biking/camping Green Mountain Gravel Adventure  on gorgeous Vermont dirt roads and trails and experience famous Vermont craft breweries and swimming holes.

Nearby but exotic: a six-day tour of the Quebec Eastern Townships known for their beauty, their villages and their wineries.

Among Discovery Bicycle’s international itineraries is a new six-day in England, Cotswolds & Stonehenge Bike Tour and a Moselle River Bike & Barge tour. From close to home to far, far away, Discovery is introducing an 11-day New Zealand Trails tour to experience New Zealand’s unmatched scenery, riding car-free rail-trails and quiet bikeways along deep blue lakes amid soaring ice-covered peaks, through rolling grasslands and hidden valleys (Nov., Jan., Feb.)

(Discovery Bicycle, 800-257-2226, info@discoverybicycletours.com, discoverybicycletours.com)

The Crazy Horse Monument, just off the Mickelson Trail, is visited on Wilderness Voyageurs’ Badlands Black Hills bike tour in South Dakota © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Wilderness Voyageurs, starting out from its home base in Ohiopyle, PA, has spread throughout the US. We’ve traveled with them on their South Dakota “Badlands & Black Hills” tour and on rides along the Great Allegheny Passage with Rails to Trails Conservancy.

Wilderness Voyageurs’ 4-day Chesapeake Bay Bike Tour takes advantage of the easy elevation gain for a charming journey along the Maryland coastline. Cycle through farms, woodlands and see bald eagles and endangered species in the Blackwater National Wildlife Preserve. Enjoy seafood feasts, ferry rides, and century-old architecture.

Wilderness Voyageurs is also featuring a specially designed five-day Type 1 Diabetes Ride on the Great Allegheny Passage (July 24)., biking, hiking, visiting Fallingwater, with Dr. Jody Stanislaw, a naturopathic doctor and a Type 1 diabetic, who will be guiding each day with tips on the balance between insulin, exercise, and diet. It’s an ever-changing equation and if you’re tired of the sugar roller coaster, this is an exceptional opportunity. Ride together with fellow type 1s and Dr. Jody. 

Other Wilderness Voyageurs biketours include Katy Rail Trail: Iowa Trestle Tour; Idaho Coeur D’Alene The Hiawatha; New Mexico Hub & Spoke; Colorful Colorado; Seneca Lake Backroads and Brews.

(Wilderness Voyageurs,103 Garrett St., Ohiopyle, PA 15470, 800-272-4141, bike@Wilderness-Voyageurs.com, Wilderness-Voyageurs.com)

Predjama Castle, improbably built into a crevasse halfway up a 123-meter cliff-face, and connecting to a cave system, visited by our BikeTours.com group on the Slovenia tour © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

BikeTours.com, specializing in European biking adventures (guided, self-guided and bike/boat tours), has listed its top destinations for 2022: The Greek Islands (which I did); Czech Republic; Croatia; Transylvania, Romania; Salzburg, Austria; Umbria, Italy; Scotland; Dolomites, Italy; Southern France and Albania (which I did). I’ve also taken their self-guided Venice-Croatia trip and their guided Slovenia biketour and for our first self-guided bike tour, the Danube Bike Trail (ideal for families and first-timers).

“If you’re itching to get back in the saddle with a European bike tour but want to explore destinations heavy on beauty and light on people for most or all of your tour,” Jim Johnson, president of BikeTours.com, suggests Bulgaria, Slovenia (which I did – biggest surprises were visits to Predjama Castle and Postojna Cave), Apulia (Puglia), Transylvania, and Connemara (Ireland).

But this year, recognizing that some may still be more comfortable traveling closer to home, is offering new tours from its sister company, Bike the South. One of them is “Tennessee Hills and Stills,” focusing on the state’s whiskey producing tradition.

Check the really user-friendly site: Biketours.com, info@biketours.com, 877-462-2423, 423-756-8907.

Butterfield & Robinson, long known as a luxury tour company, has introduced a series of departures geared to families with young adults (late teens and up), who will relish this opportunity to share an experience before their YA flies the coop. Among the itineraries: Switzerland E-Bike, Alsace E-Bike, Tuscany biking, Berlin to Prague Active, Mallorca E-Biking, Prague to Vienna; Alentejo, Portugal; Catalonia; the Camino do Santiago Biking,

Perhaps most intriguing: Cambodia & Vietnam: in Cambodia, see the spectacular ancient Khmer temples at Angkor, comprising one of the most jaw-dropping temple complexes in the world; then head to Vietnam and experience the buzz of Ho Chi Minh City and the serene landscapes of Can Tho; delve deep with three nights in Hoi An and wrap up in the Imperial City of Hue.

 (Butterfield & Robinson, travel@butterfield.com, 866-551-9090, butterfield.com)

More biking tours are incorporating camping options. TrekTravel is going a step further, with a new partnership with AutoCamp (autocamp.com) to provide (get this) Airstream suites (those famous RVs) for two brand new itineraries; Palm Springs & Joshua Tree, and California Wine Country.

Among TrekTravel’s most popular itineraries this year: Prague to Vienna, New Mexico (cycle on the historic streets of Santa Fe, within the expansive pine forests, and beneath high desert mesas and Badland formations).

The itinerary I’ve been eying: Portugal, featuring the Alentejo wine region, a majestic countryside of wheat, olive trees, vineyards, and the seat of the world’s cork production where you see the cork tree groves and Roman temples in towns like Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

TrekTravel is also continuing to offer private trips for 10 or more guests (Top 5 destinations: California Wine Country, Ashville to Brevard, Puglia, San Juan Islands, and Tuscany).

(TrekTravel, 866-719-2427, Trektravl.com)

Duvine Cycling & Adventure Co. is another high-end active travel company with trips that combine wine and gastronomy in such lavish places as France (Ride Through France’s Most Fabled Terroirs) and Italy. Duvine’s newest itinerary is Bike and Boat in Amalfi: The Amalfi Coast has dazzled travelers for decades, but there’s another side of this destination that’s rarely seen. Our two new tours hold the key to the Cilento Coast, Italy’s best-kept secret. Whether by bike or private yacht, you’ll wend up the Amalfi Coast with views stretching back to Calabria, climb to towns memorialized by Hemingway, and hike Positano’s Path of the Gods to vertiginous vineyards.

(duvine.com, 888-396-5383)

B’spoke Cycling Holidays, based in London, are geared for the harder-core, but for more leisurely cycling, look to their sister brand Cycling for Softies which offers luxury cycling tours in Europe’s famous wine regions.

BSpoke Tours, Unit 3, Walton Lodge Laundry, 374 Coldharbour Lane, London, SW9 8PL, info@bspoketours.com, bspoketours.com.

I’m headed to Europe for Boat Bike Tours’ eight-day Bruges-Amsterdam tour. A leading European operator of boat-and-bike tours which more or less founded the concept 40 years ago, the company offers 70 itineraries in Netherlands, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Danube Countries, Austria and Serbia. Germany, Greece, Hungary, France, Italy, and Slovakia incorporating their fleet of 50 ships, from barges and sailing ships to motor yachts. (More when I return.) You can live chat on their website, boatbiketours.com, +31 20 72 35 400

Celebrate Trails Day

Riding over the Rosendale Trestle on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, near New Paltz. Now part of New York’s 750-mile Empire State Trail, the trail has been improved largely with the advocacy of such groups as Parks & Trail NY and the Rails to Trails Conservancy © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnar.com

Hosted on the fourth Saturday of April, Celebrate Trails Day (formerly Opening Day for Trails) is an annual spring celebration of America’s trails. Started by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in 2013, the celebration encourages people across the country to get outside and enjoy the nation’s exceptional trails and trail systems. There are featured events throughout the country, and if you let RTC know you will #CelebrateTrails, you can win prizes (railstotrails.org/celebratetrails).

“Trails make getting outdoors and around by foot, bike and wheelchair more accessible for everyone. These essential outdoor spaces give us the space to swap car trips for bike trips, reducing emissions and helping the environment; bring  powerful economic opportunity to communities big, small and in between; and deliver health and happiness for so many people. This year, in a time when trails are more in demand than ever, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating these special places. Let’s get out and make more trail moments!” the organization states.

Rails to Trails advocates for creation of multi-purpose trails using strong arguments of health and quality-of-life for locals, economic opportunities for communities along the route, and climate benefits of non-carbon-emitting transportation. Since 1992, RTC has advocated for more than $15.6 billion in funds to support more than 54,000 trail and active transportation projects. The Trails Transform America campaign has this message for Congress: Trail networks are as fundamental to America’s transportation systems as roads and rail lines and deserve robust federal investment. Explore trail network projects that are bringing transformative benefits to communities nationwide.

The most ambitious of projects is The Great American Rail-Trail which, once completed, would enable riders to cross the entire nation on linked rail trails. Stretching more than 3,700 miles between Washington DC and Washington State, through 12 states, the trail will directly serve nearly 50 million people within 50 miles of the route. 

The RTC site is also a great place to find trails near and far and download the TrailLink app, https://www.traillink.com/mobile-apps/

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 2121 Ward Court, NW, 5th Floor, Washington, DC 20037, 866-202-9788, www.railstotrails.org

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