Jaunts

Honoring on Memorial Day 2014

My photo from the 10th Anniversary of September 11th in Battery Park, NY.

My photo from the 10th Anniversary of September 11th in Battery Park, NY.

In honor, remembrance and respect.  

May the legacies of the Men and Women, who served the United States of America and lost their lives, be memorialized.

Mother’s Day Dishing!

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How to climb Masada at sunrise (on your own)!

I can see the Dead Sea!

I spy the Dead Sea!

Masada is an ancient fortress built by King Herod of Judea between 37 and 31 BCE atop a rock plateau situated in the South District of Israel on the eastern border of the Judean Desert near the shore of the Dead Sea. Herod is not credited with discovering the site, which had historically been chosen for its remote location that naturally provided protection to its dwellers but it was he who built a mini-city there as a refuge against his enemy, the Romans.  Around 73 or 74 CE, the Romans sieged Masada to find that the inhabitants, most likely Jewish freedom fighters, had chosen to take their own lives rather than surrender. To many, Masada symbolizes the brave human struggle for freedom from oppression.

The highest point is approximately 1,300 feet on the east edge of Masada and the top of the flat plateau is about 1,800 feet x 900 feet.

In 2001, Masada was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is a top attraction in Israel due to its historical significance and magnificent views of the Judean Desert and Dead Sea.

First sign at the bottom to ascend the appropriately named path.

First sign at the bottom to ascend the appropriately named path.

WHY HIKE AT SUNRISE?

So glad that you asked! The answer is simple: witnessing the sun beginning to rise over the Jordanian Mountains and emerge over the Dead Sea is a breathtaking experience. There is a sense of accomplishment after reaching the top and you will be rewarded with extraordinary panoramic vistas and the ability to tour the impressive remains of Herod’s fortress.

First Photo Break!

First Photo Break!

WHICH PATH TO CHOOSE?

Great question! There are two paths to hike to the top:  The Snake Path (East side) and The Roman Ramp (West side). You must choose your path beforehand in order to plot your driving route to one of the two entrances, accordingly. Driving between the two is quite a distance so it is important to note that you will have to descend/exit on the same side that you ascended. The visitors’ center, cable car, restaurant and gift shop are only accessible on the East side (but none of these are open at sunrise).  If you are weary of the hike, then skip sunrise and take the cable car to the top later in the day. Definitely look into the evening light show (West side) and offerings at the visitors’ center (East side).

Beautiful.

Beautiful at the top.

More beauty.

More beauty at the top.

WHAT WAS THE CANDI DISH EXPERIENCE?

It was dynamic and invigorating!  Many choose to take a private or group tour from Jerusalem to hike Masada at sunrise given that the arrival will be in the dark and in unfamiliar territory coupled with the desire to be guided and educated on the sites the entire time by a pro.

We chose to do it on our own. This is how we did it:

1) ROAD TRIP with a rental car from Tel Aviv airport after arriving in Israel specifically for this 24-hour journey to the Dead Sea. The drive was less than 2 hours and gave us a glimpse into the diversity of the State.

En route from Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea

En route from Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea

Car rentals in Israel are reasonably priced but note that there will be an airport pick-up charge and most likely a maximum limit of 250 km per day.  So, if you plan to only use the car for a day it may be worth reserving it for two to give you the 500 km limit (assuming that you will not be penalized for returning the car early).  Rules and regulations are clearly explained by the rental car companies so be sure to read them. Lastly, you may wish to become familiar with the various English spellings of cities (i.e. Masada = Metzada, Massada.) for inputting into the GPS.

2) Consider STAYING at a resort in Ein Bokek, which is an approximate 15-minute drive from Masada.  Most hotels have relaxing spa facilities (farewell jet lag!) and are within walking distance to the Dead Sea. Other options in the vicinity are the guest houses/hostels at Ein Gedi or at the base of Masada. The Candi Dish visited this seaside area “off season” which is a totally different ball game from “peak season” with respect to costs and crowds.

Ruins of Masada

Ruins of Masada

3) BREAKFAST is a MUST to fuel up pre-hike!  Given that it will be too early to eat at your hotel before you head out, I highly suggest buying non-perishable food ahead of time.  There are establishments in the shopping centers along the Dead Sea in Ein Bokek but you should check for their opening times beforehand so that you are not stuck without grub.

4) Planning a TIMETABLE is key.  Sunrise was at 6:33 am that morning so the goal was to be atop Masada by then. We departed the hotel at 5:10 am to allow 20 minutes for the drive (there was construction on Route 90) for the 5:30 am opening of Masada National Park.

Herod’s Palaces

Herod’s Palaces

5) The ROUTE from Ein Bokek to Masada’s Snake Path (the route to the Roman Ramp is different on Route 90; via Arad) is a straight shot and you will see a sign that prompts you to take a left into the park (this is helpful in the dark).  Follow the road to the guard gate and take a left (before the barrier) to the parking lot. Purchase tickets, pick up a map and enter at the guard gate.

Water cisterns (BCE-style) - amazing!

Water cisterns (BCE-style) – amazing!

6) Thankfully we had FLASHLIGHTS because it was really dark at first. The summation is that The Snake Path is challenging (blame it on jet lag, dehydration from traveling and the fact that we did not pace ourselves at first)!  Our climb took an hour (including water and photo breaks).  There was a group of experienced hikers that made it in approximately 30 minutes and other folks took longer than 60 minutes.

Palatial marble mosaic floor

Palatial marble mosaic floor

7) AH HA! Reaching the top was exhilarating!  We seized each moment and took in the endless photo opportunities and explored the self-explanatory sites for over an hour.  Spending time discovering Herod’s ancient city gave us the chance to take the cable car down in a zippy 3 minutes.

Captivating cliffs

Captivating cliffs

 

 

 

 

It is amazing how different everything looks in the broad daylight.

Continuous captivating cliffs

Continuous captivating cliffs

Summary List before your Masada Hike:

Plan ahead:  check sunrise time and weather conditions
Dress in layers according to temperatures
Don’t forget to bring: a flashlight; abundant water; camera, hat, sunscreen.

Summit swimming

Summit swimming

Moab Mountains

Moab Mountains

 

Whether you visit independently or on a tour…go for it!

 

Everything. Is clear in the daylight! Cable Car descent

Everything. Is clear in the daylight! Cable Car descent

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!

Hello lovely ” Dish-ees”!

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May your Valentine’s Day be a happy one!

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Happy 4 Months to The Candi Dish

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I am sitting in the port of Old Jaffa, Tel Aviv, basking in the winter sun (with strong Wi-Fi) feeling content and in awe.

Israel is a marvel.

I shall dish stories, snapshots & suggestions soon…..

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Philanthropic Friday – EXCITING NEWS at The Maya Macey Foundation!

The Maya Macey Foundation www.mayamaceyfoundation.org

The Maya Macey Foundation www.mayamaceyfoundation.org

You may recall that The Maya Macey Foundation was highlighted for Philanthropic Friday on The Candi Dish last month!  Well, NOW is the perfect time to re-familiarize yourself with this dynamic organization because there is excitement to report!

Everyone knows the importance of empowering children to flourish because  young people ARE our future. The Maya Macey Foundation makes it VERY easy for generous donors to help make education a reality for students that need help.

Here is the exciting part!  Currently, the Foundation is tirelessly working on organizing the Annual BBQ FUNdraiser, which will be held on March 9, 2014 in Palmetto Bay, FL.  The BBQ is not only a fantastic event, but the funds from selling raffle tickets and auction items allow the Foundation to help dynamic young people.

Right now, the Foundation is looking for donations of products and services for its celebrated raffle and live auction! Current donated items are Florida Panthers tickets (including a meet & greet with players); a 5-night stay at a 2-bedroom condo on Playa del Carmen in Mexico and a stay at Waldorf Astoria in Naples!  Great stuff!

So, Candi Dish fans: if you know a business that is interested in donating products or services for this amazing cause, please let me know!  No donation is too small.

 

The Maya Macey Foundation provides educational scholarships to deserving young students who have overcome adversity in their personal lives and need assistance pursuing their dreams in spite of the obstacles they have faced. It  is a federally recognized 501©(3) non-profit.

www.mayamaceyfoundation.org

 

 

Winter Wonderland Wednesday – Winter Storm Janus Photos

American Snowstorm on Fifth Avenue

American Snowstorm on Fifth Avenue

I may have been born and raised in Florida, but even as a kid, I was a Northerner at heart. Perhaps the fact that 1 of 2 parents and 4 of 4 Grandparents grew up in the North had something to do with it.  Don’t get me wrong, many people who I love and like are in the South (plus I love grits) so I am “down there” often, but Manhattan is my home.

The snowy dome of St. Bart’s Church

The snowy dome of St. Bart’s Church

The Windshield Wipers UP Trick (this is not my car)

The Windshield Wipers UP Trick (this is not my car)

It is freezing in Burger Heaven!

It is freezing in Burger Heaven!

Because my childhood winters were very mild (I remember swimming at the end of December), it was quite a thrill to experience cold weather when I was on trips. Fast forward to my first winter in NY. It was glacial!  Once I figured out that it was all about layers, keeping my ears covered and my hands and feet warm, I was golden.

I love experiencing 4 true seasons (particularly fall and spring) and would not trade it for year-round warmth and certainly would not trade in the NY lifestyle.

“Bigfoot was here”  Park Avenue

“Bigfoot was here”
Park Avenue

On Tuesday, the early part of the storm’s blanket of snow made Manhattan look delightful. I was out and about:  first by taxi, then by bus when I could not get a taxi and then by foot the rest of the day, which served me well until the sun went down and it became blistery.  I even dared to remove my gloves to capture a bunch of snapshots of sights that caught my attention.  I posted several of these on Twitter and Facebook and received a flatteringly huge response.  I hope that you enjoy my “Janus photos”.

Snowy fountain on East 55th Street

Snowy fountain on East 55th Street

Travel Tips Tuesday – Firenze (Part 1)

Battistero di San Giovanni (Florence Baptistery) & Giotto’s Campanille (Bell Tower)

Battistero di San Giovanni (Florence Baptistery) & Giotto’s Campanille (Bell Tower)

The summer between my junior and senior years of college, I attended the FSU Study Abroad Program in Florence, Italy and it was fantastico! I hit the jackpot with the excellent professors and of course, my fellow students who are still my friends over two decades later.

Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo)

Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo)

 

I remember the elation that I felt when I received my acceptance letter from the International Programs office, the anticipation that kept me from sleeping on the overnight flight to Rome and when we touched ground in Firenze, I had that distinctive “this is it” feeling.

The Annunciation

The Annunciation

Being surrounded by a language that is not mine; surrounded by the aroma of garlic sautéed in olive oil wafting from the trattorias and being surrounded by astounding architecture, statues, art and adornments at every turn took my breath away and still does whenever I am in my second favorite city. The adventure that I took over twenty years ago opened my eyes, mind and senses to Italy and Italian culture. I try to visit a new city or region each time I am there but I make sure to always include a return to Firenze.

When visiting Firenze, there are the must-sees: Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (also known as the Duomo), which should be admired from a 360-degree perspective on the outside and inside, from the ground to the top of the dome ( 463 steps up) to take in views of the city. Take another climb to the viewing platform at the top of the Campanile (Bell Tower) and visit the Baptistery.  Your “to do” list should include Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Accademia , Galleria deli Uffizi, San Lorenzo, San Marco, Palazzo Vecchio, and every.single. Piazza.  Depending on how long you visit (or revisit), I highly suggest exploring the Oltrarno area on the south side of the Arno River by taking any of these three bridges: Ponte Santa Trinita, the famous Ponte Vecchio, and Ponte Alle Grazie. Highlights are the Piazalle Michelangelo, San Miniato al Monte, Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens and an abundance of charm.

The “Olive Tree of Peace” memorializing the victims of the 27th of May 1993  attack near the Uffizi

The “Olive Tree of Peace” memorializing the victims of the 27th of May 1993 attack near the Uffizi

Whichever side of the River, I am a big enthusiast of strolling! Veer off the main streets to explore. While it is very difficult to get completely lost in Florence, one should try to get a little bit lost, as you never know what you may discover!

Ponte Santa Trinita over the Arno

Ponte Santa Trinita over the Arno

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEXT: Stay tuned for The Candi Dish Firenze Faves!

a presto! ciao!

 

 

Dishing 2014 Wishes!

Happy 2014!

Happy 2014!

A precious friend recently reminded me of the beauty of receiving greetings in the mail, particularly holiday greetings.  I completely agree.  There is something special about finding an envelope in your mailbox accompanied by the brief anticipation of wondering what is inside!

In the world of texting, email and e-cards, it is easy to forget the warm feeling you get when you receive a personal note.  This year, my mailbox was aglow with Christmas, Chanukah and New Year’s cards: pre-printed, handwritten, photos, collages – all of it fantastic!   I display all of the cards that I receive in my entryway. So many well wishes and cute faces to see each time I walk past.  When I take the cards down (which happens later and later each year), it is impossible to not feel treasured.

When I think about the first day of 2013, it would be an understatement to say that my life is completely different on this first day of 2014.  My 2013 can be summed up as the year of learning and doing.  Last year was filled with innovation, unblocking, creativity, mourning, collaboration, reconnecting, missteps, progress and clarity.  I witnessed the best of the human spirit by those I know and by strangers. This will continue to inspire.  There was also disappointment from the weakness of character that I witnessed.  This will continue to inspire as well.

Launching The Candi Dish and receiving positive support and compliments for my blog posts has been incredibly gratifying.  I am not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions but I do have huge plans for 2014!  Writing and creating and seizing the day, oh my!

Thanks for digging into The Candi Dish in 2013!  I hope to serve up some good stuff in 2014!

 

Dishing on Music City

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Nashville, Tennessee seems to be popping up all over the place in The Candi Dish world: several friends visiting the city, it played a part in the Treme finale, there are billboards around Manhattan advertising a new reality show based there…and as such, I am fondly remembering my visit this past June.

Right before my trip, I was able to get my hands on a copy of the “Nashville Field Guide” from the author himself, Taylor Bruce.  Another huge perk of living in Manhattan is that one can easily access talent, in this case, literary talent. The Wildsam Field Guide is a charming and unique “part almanac, part urban lore, part best-of, part memoir” that I highly suggest for visitors and locals.  The guide is beautifully written and entertains the reader with interviews, stories, essays, lists and illustrations.   www.wildsam.com

Broadway

Broadway

Broadway
Big Boot on Broadway

 

Tennessee State Capitol

Tennessee State Capitol

Although I visited Music City very briefly in high school, I was technically a newcomer this time around.

Nashville is quickly becoming a destination for southern food lovers and of course for its famous and “funky” music scene where live music can be seen and heard day & night… 365 days a year!

Nashville is fun!

Nashville is fun!

 

Gold Records at The Country Music Hall of Fame

Gold Records at The Country Music Hall of Fame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please note that most of The Candi Dish jaunts are not focused on country music and southern cooking so even if you are not “into” either, Nashville has a lot to offer and will not disappoint!

Here are The Candi Dish suggestions for a Nashville visit:

Breakfast/Lunch:
Arnold’s, Puckett’s Grocery, Loveless Café and Union 417

Dinner:
Lockeland Table Community Kitchen and Bar, Capitol Grill (not the chain), Jimmy Kelly’s Steakhouse and Etch

Sightseeing:
Country Music Hall of Fame, The Capitol Building, The Frist, cruising on Broadway including a visit to Hatch Show Print.

Music:
Hit the Honky-Tonks on Broadway; Station Inn, Ryman Auditorium

Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Music Hall of Fame – Doesn’t everyone love the Rhinestone Cowboy?

Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Music Walk of Fame – Dolly is the BEST!

 

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