Dead Sea Travel Guide

dead sea tips

Disclosure: My trip to Israel was sponsored by the Israel Ministry of Tourism. All opinions are my own.

There are few experiences that rival floating in the Dead Sea. From the weightless feeling to the silky skin after effects, if you find yourself in this area of the world, taking a dip in the Dead Sea is an absolute must.

Because it is such a strange sensation, it’s important to note certain protocol before diving in (ex. Don’t dive in!!!!). Continue reading

  • Avoid shaving. If lady or man-scaping your body is a part of your daily routine, I highly recommend skipping this step at least the day before, and ideally 3-4 days prior. The high salinity level of the sea (which gives it the density necessary for you to float) will have a stinging effect on any tender parts of your skin (i.e. razor burn). If a day without shaving leaves you resembling a wooly mammoth, remember two things: you will certainly not be the only one who is hairier than normal, and the water will soften up said hair and will much easier to remove après float.
  • Apply an antibacterial gel to cuts/scrapes/burns. When I tried floatation therapy in the U.S., they advised applying Neosporin to any cuts or scrapes on your body to avoid a painful session. I suggest you do the same prior to entering the water.
  • Try to arrive with your bathing suit on. There are bathrooms/changing rooms on site, but they are a complete calamity – avoid if possible.
  • Rent a locker, or rotate floating times with your party. Obviously, it’s best to not bring valuables, but it’s inevitable that you will require a few basic items: cash, credit cards, your phone, and possibly your camera. If you rotate dips, you won’t have to worry about your things, and you’ll also have the added benefit of the non bather being able to shoot photos from the shore side.
  • Wear water shoes. As soon as you step in the water and head towards the muddy section, there are sharp rocks peppered at the bottom, and it is difficult to walk around without stubbing a toe (like I did). Instead of dodging boulders, I suggest wearing water shoes or Teva-like sandals to minimize injuries.
  • Wear goggles. I had the unfortunate episode of water making its way into my eyes. To compare it to soap getting in your eyes would be a gentle explanation – it stung, and it stung hard. I had to quickly exit the water (not that easy to do, by the way), and rush to the outdoor shower for relief. Surprisingly, once I rinsed my eyes, the pain completely dissipated. Instead of a dramatic event like this, do yourself a favor and wear goggles.

swimming in the dead sea

  • Walk to the left of the ladder to the mud pile. Applying mud all over your face and body has amazing results. Your skin will truly feel like silk, so don’t miss this free spa experience!
  • Once your apply mud, get out of the water and take pictures. It’s not a great idea to bring your camera into the water, and even those that tried to capture the moment were disappointed to learn that a salty film dries on the lens (even with a GoPro), ruining your photos, and possibly your camera.
  • Do NOT open your mouth. Getting a few drops of water in your mouth won’t produce the same painful results of eye contact, but the taste is incredibly awful – shockingly so.
  • Don’t try to swim. This should be obvious by now, but keep your head/hair out of the water at all times, and remain on your back, or you will risk dunking your face right in. I tested this theory and quickly learned that if you do try to swim, the water will simply turn you back around – every time.
  • Go out deeper than your height. When you can no longer touch the bottom, the water will lift you up all on its own – a very cool feeling. As a bonus, you’ll be in a less crowded area.
  • Don’t plan to stay more than a few hours. Floating carelessly in the sea may seem like a perfect afternoon, but after a few minutes, the mud begins to burn your skin a little, and floating eventually becomes boring. Plan 2-3 hours to allow time to change (if necessary), apply mud, and soak for a bit. After your dip, you might be hungry (or want the gross salty taste out of your mouth), so grab an ice cream like I did, or sit at the waterfront restaurant.
  • Do not buy the products in the store. It’s tempting to purchase the packages of mud at the gift shop, but be forewarned. Yes, they contain real Dead Sea mud, but they’re also filled with harmful chemicals and cheap fillers. Your best bet is leave the store and stick with the well known brand Ahava.

Have you floated in the Dead Sea? If so, have I missed a crucial tip? Let me know in the comments!

Summer 2015 List

original explorerThe windows are open, birds are singing and it’s the best time of year to be in Connecticut: summer.

I’ve made a list of my summertime goals the last couple of years, and keeping with tradition, here’s a little taste of some of the summer activities I’m looking forward to this year:

  • Stopping by the Sycamore Drive-in for a classic drive-in dining experience.
  • Searching for shooting stars.
  • Trying glamping for the first time.
  • Visiting The Graham & Co. in the Catskills.
  • Going to Rockaway Beach’s newest resto, Tacoway Beach.
  • Swimming with sharks.
  • Building a grownup fort in the backyard. 
  • Get in shape, and in Shape.
  • Throw a champagne and croquet soirée
  • Take my spin classes outside by riding a bike.

I would love to hear all about your summer plans – leave me a comment below! 

Tomorrowland Review

tomorrowland movie reviewHappy Memorial Day weekend! Whether you plan on barbecuing, heading to the beach, or taking it easy, if you decide to head to the movies, here is my take on Disney’s latest film, Tomorrowland.

On Tuesday night I was invited to a special advanced screening of this much anticipated film. And in the strange way confidences seem to happen, the theme of this week undoubtably Coca Cola. Continue reading

From the controversial ending of Mad Men, to my movie companion, Marcos, leaving our seats to retrieve popcorn only to come back with – what else – a Coke with two straws (aw), and finally, a funny interlude towards the end of this film (don’t worry, no spoilers here!), this classic brand (not a sponsor of the post, btw), has made fleeting but significant appearances in my life this week.

I bring this up to mention one of the best reasons to see this film – the almost unlimited amount of Easter eggs hidden throughout the movie. I won’t give away too much (that would ruin the fun), but I will tell you to keep an eye out for a Mr. Incredible action figure, Emperor Zurg (from Toy Story 2), and Lightning McQueen.

tomorrowland555a72be0d34cSpeaking of fun, that is exactly why you should see this film. It is a true joy to watch. The lead actors’ (George Clooney and Britt Robertson) performances make the unbelievable… believable, and ground the film, but I was blown away by Raffey Cassidy, who at just 13 years old shines in her substantial role.

She asks in the film: “Which direction do you want to go? Backwards or forwards?”. This line is crucial to the plotline but also a personal question we should all be asking ourselves.

At certain times in my life I would’ve said backwards, if only for another taste of the truly sweet moments I’ve experienced, but now that I’ve accrued more wisdom, I would only choose to move forward and embrace all of the unknown wonders, adventures, and also inevitable heartbreak that’s to come.

This is the central message of the film. We cannot move backwards to undue our past mistakes, nor should we perpetuate dystopian fears and fetizization (a direct dig at The Hunger Games? You decide).

What we can do is to use our imagination and wit to solve those problems with the advancements of the future and those that dare to be different, dreamers.

There are a few holes in the plot, but overall it was very enjoyable and it achieved what Disney does best – it made me excited and hopeful in a childlike way.

The parts of the film that are the most entertaining have drawn inspiration from classic sci-fi films like Star Wars, Terminator 2, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, The Matrix, Men in Black – and even The Da Vinci Code (there is a hidden history and repurposing of a famous Parisian landmark – sound familiar?).

Overall, I really recommend taking the kids, your friends, or even your parents to see this feel good movie to inspire their dreaming because, as we all know by now: “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, just a dream away!”.

Tomorrowland is now playing in theaters nationwide. Rated PG.

 

A Quicks Trip to the Cape

bike riding at the capevampire weekendAs I mentioned in this post, it is nearly that time of year for lazy days and magical nights: summer.

And as any true New Englander will tell you, no summer season is complete without a trip to the Cape. Continue reading

Walter and I had the pleasure of taking a “Quicks” trip to the Quicks Hole Tavern at the Woods Hole Inn before the winter chill hit (remember that?).

The weather was undoubtably in our favor and we were able to enjoy the gorgeous day with a complimentary bike ride (provided to all guests by the inn) around the Cape before settling down to a very special wine dinner at Quicks Hole Tavern.

Travessia WineUnlike other hotels in the area, the Woods Hole Inn has proved itself to be a culinary destination. The innovative menu and special dinner themes made possible by Executive Chef  Stephanie Mikolazyk, keep tourists and locals coming back year after year.

For this particular dinner, Quicks Hole was honoring the truly phenomenal Massachusetts vintner, Travessia Urban Winery

I had the esteemed pleasure of sitting with Wood’s Hole owner, Beth Colt, whose vibrant personality and passion for the hospitality industry (and “Wicked Fresh” cuisine) makes her guests feel like they are true friends staying in her home. 

Woods Hole Inn

Each dish of the four course menu was paired with a crescendo of liquid complements. My favorite of the night was the Quahogs with spiced pork, and the mini doughnuts with lemon curd for dessert. 

Very full and content, we settled into our cozy room at the inn and slept soundly to the gentle waves of the ocean.

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We awoke to the intoxicating smell of a breakfast buffet of coffee and homemade sweet treats such as muffins and french toast, and the more savory options of eggs, bacon, and sausage. 

Had it been in season, we would’ve definitely enjoyed the the now famous lobster tacos at the Quicks Hole Taqueria, and taken the Martha’s Vineyard ferry located just across the street, but instead, with full bellies again, we bid our farewells to our new friends and returned home.

For more information about the Woods Hole Inn and to schedule restaurant or overnight stay reservations, visit woodsholeinn.com.

Jennifer Lawrence Louisville

lawrence family

As I mentioned in this post, my first visit to the Bluegrass State was last September.

Besides the Derby and bourbon, my knowledge was pretty limited.

Walter, knowing full well that I have a liking for The Hunger Games (see this post), took noticed of the magazine cover story in our hotel room: The Lawrence Family’s (yes, J Law’s parents) favorite Louisville spots.

It didn’t take much for me to declare that we would be following at least some their suggestions, but with less than 24 hours left in the city, we only have time to try out one. 

If you have limited time Louisville, here is my recommended timeline for a surprisingly relaxing day in Louisville filled with a lot of local treasures.

IMG_4799Jennifer:

Thanks to the Lawrence recommendation, we started our day (after coffee, of course) by walking over the Big Four BridgeThis pedestrian only bridge stretches over the Ohio River and connects Louisville to nearby Jefferson, Indiana.

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The beautiful September weather had locals and tourists flocking to bridge, but its large size accommodate crowds without feeling cramped. There is a beautiful riverside park on the Louisville side, and plans to build a similar public space in Indiana. 

IMG_4803The bridge will undoubtedly attract more people now that a multicolored lighting system with nightly shows was installed in February.

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Gina:

gina zammit blogger

Next, we headed to Churchill Downs for the second time that weekend to visit the Derby Museum
gina zammit travel blogger
 
Included with admission ($14) is a 30 minute guided walking tour of the Churchill Downs grounds, a short film, and two floors of permanent/special exhibits.
I suggest taking the time to do all three, and also opt in for the Barn & Backstable Tour ($11), which is your only opportunity to see any of the active horses and their stables. 
 
gina zammit travel blogger
 
We worked up quite an appetite by this point so instead of going to The Brown Hotel again for hot browns, we chose to stay at the museum and order it at the attached Derby Cafe (pictured above).
 
If you’re a vegan or a craft beer fan, I suggest heading downtown instead and visiting Against the Grain Brewery. Walter and I enjoyed their smoked porter and seitan honey “wings” a day earlier. 

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We finished our day by touring the immensely cool 21c Museum Hotel.

Staying at this hotel is an opportunity to live amongst the hundreds of modern art pieces scattered throughout the hotel floors and housed in the – 24 hour and open to the public museum – on the bottom floor. 

The museum pieces are a mix of bold choices including paintings, films, and installations – even an industrial alleyway smoke ring exhibit (below).  

IMG_4822It’s rare to see a hotel open itself to the public as much as 21c does, and I think it’s something more properties around the country should consider.

Walter and I stayed for dinner at Proof on Main, and we were very impressed. The entire menu – drinks, food, dessert, was extremely diverse in its offerings, and had many local options we were not familiar with. 

We shared the Sunday supper option ($38) and ordered a few items from the ala carte menu, and we enjoyed all of our selections. 

IMG_4832Although my time spent in Louisville was short, I definitely hope to return again and experience even more of the modern gems in the city. 

What’s your favorite place to visit in Louisville? Let me know below or on Twitter!

 

Beyoncé + Jay-Z Vegan Challenge Day 17. Grown Woman: Choose Your Own Adventure!

beyonce vegan challenge

I’m a grown woman, I can do whatever I want.

Today, you will exercise your adultdum by eating whatever you want. Craving a salad? Or maybe a hearty vegan chili? Today is free for whatever you like, and here are a few suggestions:

Enjoy your own selection, grown ladies!

Today’s Activity: This is the most dance-able track on the album, so go ahead and shake that booty so fat!

How to Win at the Kentucky Derby

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The 141st Kentucky Derby is less than a week away, and the question on everyone’s mind is: how do I win big? 

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Luckily, you found your way to this post, and I’m here to help detail exactly how I won $$$ at Churchill Downs last September.  Continue reading

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The reason for my trip to Louisville was to attend a friend’s wedding – but, you don’t care – you’re here to learn how to win. So, here my three easy steps to betting on a winning steed. 

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Step 1: Go it alone… 

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Or choose your partners “wisely”. 

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Walter and I were joined by two of our college friends. Stephanie (below, far left) and Christen (to the right). 

Since none of us wanted to pony up the $50 for a single betting ticket, we decided to join forces and choose a single horse together.

winning at the kentucky derby

Step 2: Choose your horse “wisely”. 

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Our combined knowledge of horseracing added up to just about what we were comfortable spending on a bet (clarification: hardly any at all).

Instead of pretending like we knew what we were doing, we chose our horse based on its colors (in this case, blue and white for Penn State – all of us are alums) and then placed our bets (accidentally on the wrong horse).

Our mistake also happened to be our gain, and we ended up winning $125 (less the $50 spent), making our total profit $75. 

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Step 3: Spend your winnings “wisely”. 

Instead of divvying up our small win, we chose to treat ourselves to mint juleps and hot browns at The Brown Hotel, and I suggest you do the same. 

hot brown brown hotel

I hope you enjoyed my betting “tips”. If you have any of your own, leave them in the comments below, and Happy Derby Day!

Food.Fashion.Travel.Fun

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