My River Cruise On The Douro – Welcome Aboard!

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50“We are delighted to welcome you aboard Viking Hemming, and look forward to serving you,” said our program director Jorge. My boyfriend L and I were excited for our cruise along Portugal’s Douro River, compliments of Viking.*

A Stop Off In Ciombra
It was a fun day of travel to the ship, leaving our pre-trip in Lisbon in the early morning and heading north to Coimbra, the original capital of Portugal, and home to one of its oldest universities. Students gave us a tour and shared stories about their “black capes,” which are a tradition on campus. The capes were originally worn so students would not be judged by their clothes if they were rich or poor. “During graduation festivities, we cut the cape,” said Maria, a student of engineering. “A middle cut is for your boyfriend, but must be sewn up if you break up.” Moi tried on one of these heavy woolen capes and almost fell over.

Portugal, Coimbra, Viking River Cruise, life after 50, over 50 travel, boomer travel

The university at Combria is one of the oldest. Black capes are a tradition for students.

Welcome Aboard!
We arrived in Porto, Portugal’s second largest city, by early evening and boarded the Viking Hemming, The small ship holds about 105 people, Our third floor room was lovely, with a veranda, a king-sized bed, contemporary bathroom (that even had a night-light), and plenty of closet space. “I could definitely live on this ship,” I said to L. “It’s great waking up to a magnificent views of the Douro river and Portugal’s mountainous terrain of vineyards. My only wish is that they had yoga classes on the deck instead of shuffle board and pitch and putt.”

VIking Hemming, Douro Valley, river cruise, life after 50, over 50 travel

Our room on the Viking Hemming had a veranda with a beautiful view of the Douro Valley.

There was a top deck with a teeny pool and lots of seating (we spent most of our time on deck when cruising); a third floor lounge with comfy seating, a bar and small dance floor, (we relaxed here during the evenings and L finally agreed to dance with me on the night of the captain’s dinner); and a dining room on the second floor where we ate most meals.

Porto, Viking River Cruise, Portugal, life after 50, Douro River

The Porto landscape while cruising the Douro was especially beautiful at night.

Breakfast and lunch were buffet-style with an omelet station in the morning and a pasta station in the afternoon. There was no assigned seating – which was good since we liked to mingle and meet new people each day. Breakfast was my favorite meal. L enjoyed his daily double espressos and I devoured the freshly baked croissants and Portuguese bread with homemade jams. So much for my gluten-free diet, I was more of a gluten-glutton by the end of the week. Dinners were casual with a menu of choices. Wanting to try as many local foods as available, I often chose the fresh fish entree and seafood appetizer.

Viking River Cruise, Portugal foods, Porto, Portugal, life after 50, over 50

Meals on board: fresh fish, homemade croissants and jams, pasta to order and tasty salads.

A City Tour of Porto 
Each day we had an option to join the shore excursion or stay on the boat while it cruised along the Douro to the next port. Trips were either in the morning or afternoon, with bus rides to our destinations and then walking tours of each city or village.

During our city tour of Porto:
♥ we walked the limestone streets stopping high up on the hilltop at the Porto Cathedral;
♥ we visited the Porto train station with it’s panels of tiles depicting the history of Portugal and named one of the most beautiful in the world by Conde Nast Traveler;
 went to the famous Lello book shop, where author J.K. Rowling supposedly wrote chapters from her Harry Potter novels while living in Porto.

Porto, Lello bookstore, Portugal, Viking River Cruise

Porto places (l to r): Cathedral, Lello bookstore, train station

My First Sip Of Port 
We also visited a local winery outside the city to taste our first glass of port, Portugal’s most famous and popular export. There would be many different kinds of port throughout the trip and I realized that I really, really like this sweet wine which I learned has a really, really high alcohol content. It is in the Douro Valley that the only grapes that produce the authentic port are grown.

Port wine, Porto, Portugal, Viking River Cruise, life after 50

A first taste of Portugal’s popular export: port from Porto.

Finding Time To Shop
During our free afternoon, I headed back to Porto with new friends J and P while L stayed on board for the cruise to Biteto. We did a good job of navigating the city map and went shopping along Flores Street where I bought a pretty cork bracelet (Portugal is the largest producer of cork and cork products) and some prints of Porto’s colorful city landscapes and bridges (Porto is known as the “City of Bridges”). Note that our last evening of the cruise was also spent in Porto along the river where we found many more street vendors for good shopping and artwork.

Flores St in Porto, Portugal, Viking River Cruise

Flores street is a favorite place to shop in Porto.

Evening At Alpendurada Monastery
Each evening, we gathered in the lounge for our daily briefing by Jorge. He shared the next day’s agenda and sometimes shared other facts and figures about the Douro and Portugal.

“Tonight we will depart the ship and have dinner at the Alpendurada Monastery,” said Jorge. Dinner wasn’t the best, but it was a picturesque spot and the monastery had its own charm with ceilings made of chestnut wood.

Porto, Portugal, Alpendurada monastery, Viking River Cruise

Alpendurada Monastery had picturesque views and chestnut wood ceilings.

Having sipped my share of Portugal vinho, my head was ready to hit the pillow. Tomorrow would bring another glorious day of sunshine to explore the Douro Valley.

Boa noite.

Judi

P.S. For more posts about my trip to Portugal, visit my Travel and Leisure page.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” Viking River Cruises provided me with a complimentary press trip river cruise on the Douro. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

 

 

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My Travels To Portugal – Falling In Love With Lisbon

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50“This is a beautiful city and I’m sure you are going to fall in love with it,” said our Viking Program Director Ileana as we boarded the buses to tour Lisbon. It was day two of the pre-cruise trip on “Portugal’s River of Gold,” courtesy of Viking River Cruises.* My lucky boyfriend L (always remind him how lucky he is) and I were assigned to Bus B for the morning and all future tours during the cruise.

Touring Historical Belém
We started our guided tour of Lisbon in Belém, located in the southwestern tip of the city along the Tagus River, one of the longest rivers in the Iberian Pennisula bordering between Portugal and Spain. Our guide Maria told us all about the ravishing earthquake, tsunami and fires that destroyed much of Lisbon in 1755. “Portugal’s royal family moved to Belem because it wasn’t destroyed by the earthquake,” said Maria.

Belem, Lisbon, Tower of Belem, Pasteis de Belem, Monastery, Lisbon, Portugal, VIking River Cruise River of Gold

Sites in Belem (l to r): Tower of Belem, Monastery, Pasteis de Belem

Belem is home to many of Portugal’s historical landmarks and we visited several: Continue reading

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My Travels On “Portugal’s River of Gold” – First Stop Lisbon

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50In yoga we learn to flow with the river. That’s exactly what I did during my travels last week on “Portugal’s River of Gold,” courtesy of Viking River Cruises. I was invited to, as Viking says, “explore the world in comfort” along the Douro.* My boyfriend L (I tell him how lucky he is every day) joined me.

As our first-ever cruising experience, L and I agreed that river cruises, because of their small size of only about 100 or so people, are the way to go cruising during one’s life after 50 and after 60, 70, 80, and even 90 (I will share more in future posts about the two inspiring friends R and A who were in their 90s.)

If you haven’t planned a trip yet, not to worry – there’s plenty of time ahead. While not inexpensive, we found that these inclusive cruises are well worth the value and convenience if you want to travel with ease.

Viking River Cruises, Portugal, life after 50, boomer travel, aging

 

There were many stops on our Portugal cruise and I took time to do as the young students in the small village of Favaios (one of my favorite excursions) encouraged me to do: “observe, feel, taste, smell, buy, play, enjoy, and learn.”

It was an amazing trip and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

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Is John Stamos Really “Grandfathered” This Fall?

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer womenWould you like to attend a preview of the new television show, Grandfathered, with John Stamos?” asked C from the BlogHer team. The preview was a special event during the BlogHer ’15 Conference held at the Hilton in New York City.*

“OMG, is John Stamos really playing a grandfather?” I exclaimed. “How is that possible? Wasn’t it yesterday that he was Uncle Jesse on Full House?” I watched that TGIF show with my daughter A and son D. It was one of their favorites, even on syndication.

John Stamos, Grandfathered, life after 50, FOX

John Stamos plays Jimmy in “Grandfathered.” Image courtesy of FOX.

Flash forward 20+ years and Stamos is now fifty-something with a “likely dyed” full head of jet black hair. Grandfathered follows a longtime bachelor, Jimmy, played by Stamos, whose life is turned upside down when he learns he’s not only a father, but also a grandfather. Josh Peck, another child star (from the Nickelodeon duo Drake and Josh), stars as his son Gerald. The series airs on Tuesday evenings on FOX beginning September 29th.  

The sitcom is cute. Being a foodie, I liked that Jimmy is a restauranteur. It’s sweet to see how this ultimate bachelor sheds his independence and eventually warms up to his new family.

I had a chance to meet Josh Peck at the preview. He has grown into a handsome young man – almost felt like I was talking to my son D, as they are close in age. I told Peck that D was a big fan of Drake and Josh during his pre-teen years. Peck said that the show still airs on Nick-At-Night. No longer a chubby kid, Peck was dressed in a tailored suit for the occasion.

Josh Peck, Grandfathered, FOX TV, #BlogHer15, lifeafter50, boomer tv

I met actor Josh Peck at the “Grandfathered” preview.

When Will I Be “Grandmothered?”
As I watched Grandfathered, I thought of my own adult children and how much they both have matured in recent years. I wondered if and when I will be blessed with grandchildren during my life after 50 — likely not until I’m in my 60s. But then again, perhaps I may be “grandmothered” in different way.

Cockapoo, Biscuits and Bath, lifeafter50, Grandfathered, grandmother

I could fall in love with this cockapoo grand pup.

“I really want to get a puppy,” said my daughter A last weekend. “I saw this adorable cockapoo. You will love her.” “You’re way too busy to have a dog,” I said to A. “That’s not true,” said A. “I can walk it early in the morning and when I come home from work. If necessary, I’ll get a dog walker during the day. Plus, I can purchase pet insurance if she gets sick.”

I was hesitant to approve. Then there was more chatter. “You’ll come and babysit or I’ll bring her home sometimes. A puppy is a great conversation piece and maybe I’ll meet a guy while I’m walking the dog.”**

“Hmm, hmm, hmm,” I started to waiver. “Maybe this is not such a bad idea,” I thought as I passed by Biscuits & Bath dog retreat near A’s apartment. I could take my “grand pup” to the local spa when I’m babysitting. Might be nice to introduce her to Grandma Judi’s favorite spa delights early on in life. Just no mani-pedis for my baby cockapoo!

Meantime, I look forward to seeing how John Stamos manages through the trials and tribulations on Grandfathered in September. Maybe I’ll learn some good tips.

Judi

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” FOX and SheKnows Media who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

** Disclosure about my potential “grand pup”: While I think that this baby cockapoo is absolutely cuddle-proof, I do not recommend that my daughter A get a dog at this time in her life. If she can rent one on weekends, then maybe I’d say “yes.” And her mother (aka moi) is not going to adopt the “grand pup” after A realizes that she is too busy.

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The Brilliance of Women Inspiring Women At BlogHer 15

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersEach summer for the past nine years, I either hop on a plane or train and travel into the blogosphere to attend the BlogHer Conference. It’s an enlightening experience being around so many brilliant and inspiring women.

BlogHer 15, held at Hilton Midtown in New York City, was equally empowering and educational.  When I began my first blog in 2007, only about 400 bloggers attended. A few years later, the blogosphere exploded – more than 5000+ bloggers filled the ballroom. This year, while still large (likely a few thousand) – the crowd seemed more manageable. Blogging continues to be a profession where women excel.

BlogHer15, blogging, blogosphere, #BlogHer15

Change Is Constant In The Blogosphere
In 2014, BlogHer founders sold their company (in a deal worth between $30 – $40 million) to She Knows Media, forming the #1 women’s lifestyle brand in the digital space. Their content, including videos, now reaches 80 million monthly viewers and even more social media influencers. New programs such as the Femvertising Awards, honoring excellence in pro-female advertising (check out these great ads), and Hatch, a track to engage the next generation of content creators (don’t you love the name – so cute – and so were the young girls who spoke!), were introduced this year.

Gen Stem, Hatch from She Knows Media, BlogHer15

“Hatch” was introduced by She Knows Media as a way to engage the younger generation of social media influencers.

Women Inspiring Women 
There were many uplifting speakers at BlogHer 15. The rousing keynotes made the blogosphere blossom: Continue reading

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A Remarkable Story About “Woman In Gold”

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer womenI pass the Holocaust exhibit at Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, NJ, each day when I go to my yoga class. It’s a constant reminder of the atrocities that Jewish people endured during World War II. I shudder every time I look at the pictures on display.

Feelings about these times were stirred deep down as I watched Woman in Gold this weekend. The film is based on the true story of a Jewish woman’s journey to reclaim her family’s artworks that were seized by the Nazi’s. She aims to seek justice for what happened to her family more than 60 years ago after being forced to flee her home in Vienna.

Helen Mirren, Woman in Gold

Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Anchor Bay Entertainment provided me with a copy of the Blu-ray and a $100 gift card to help me mark my own moments in history. In addition, they are providing the same sample and prize package to one of my readers – so after you read my review, I hope you will enter the giveaway below. It’s a movie worth watching.

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My Foodie Feast At The Fabulous Fancy Food Show

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer women“I’ve never eaten so much at a food show,” said my friend J as we exited the Summer Fancy Food Show held at the Javits Center in New York City last week. “Me either,” I replied after  five hours of walking through what seemed like hundreds of booths filled with all kinds of foods.

I often attended this show when I was working in the food industry. I still consider myself a ‘foodie’ and am ever curious about what’s trending in the culinary world.

So dear readers, do you want to know what pleased my palate, tantalized my tastebuds, and made me go “wow-o-wow, can I have some more?” Here’s what’s cooking and what you might want to try. Note that some products may not be on the market yet, but are coming soon. Others can be ordered online or via Amazon.

Gluten Free: I was pleased to see many products now being made without gluten, especially since I’ve been trying to be gluten-free as part of my FODMAP diet for IBS. I sampled many of these products, some better than others. I liked new Pretzel Crisps Dark Chocolate Covered Mini Pretzels, Toufayan Gluten Free Scoop-able Pita Chips, Conte’s Gluten Free Pizza, and Birch Bender’s Pancake & Waffle Mix (miss my pancakes).

gluten free, Summer Fancy Food Show

♥ Jerky: My late husband used to snack on jerky. One time I came home from work and he was drying beef in the oven to make homemade jerky. Now it’s become very trendy. It’s full of protein so I guess that’s why it’s popular. I had my picture taken with Perky Jerky.

beef jerky, Perky Jerky

♥ Popcorn and Nuts: As an avid consumer of almonds I was glad to see so many nuts in all kinds of packaging. Almonds are a sacred food in the Ayurveda diet, along with ghee (which I will introduce you to later), milk and honey (more on honey later too). The cutest was Drive Me Nuts with pictures of babies on their packaging. Half popped popcorn kernels were trending too – I would not recommend for the post 50 crowd – I almost broke a tooth trying to eat these kernels. Continue reading

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My Reinvention After 50: Featured on Interprize Blog

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersThis week, I was pleased to be interviewed by Bill Magill, founder of the Interprize Group. Bill contacted me several years ago as he was evolving his organization to talk about how I was evolving my life after 50. He had read about my background and asked if I would share more about my reinvention on the Interprize blog. We finally had a chance to catch up and chat virtually.

Bill is a reformed Silicon Valley venture investor now living simply in the south of France. (Lucky, lucky Bill to live in such a beautiful part of the world.) He also directs start-up activity at the INSEAD business school as Director of Science Entrepreneurship. As Bill says, “I am fascinated with the notions of self-realization, positive psychology and how we flourish; of personal worth as opposed to acquired wealth.”

Reinvention After 50: A Boomer Blooms

Bill Magill, Enterprise Group, life after 50, reinvention, transformation

Bill Magill is founder of Interprize Group, helping post career individuals achieve their grand, legacy ambitions and live mindful lives.

It was a gratifying experience to look back over the past seven years as I answered Bill’s questions. He wanted to know about my core career, what precipitated my new direction, and where I’m headed in the next five years. He asked me about what processes and resources I used to create a plan for change.

Bill inquired if I had adopted any new life practices as I pursue my different interests and what advice I would give to others considering a new and grand ambition, or a dramatic shift toward a new direction.

All good questions for this point in my life. (Maybe there is a memoir or self-help book within these words of wisdom.)

 

I hope you will take time to visit the Interprize blog and read my interview at:

Judy Freedman on Reinvention After 50: A Boomer Blooms

new year, seasons, life after 50, over 50,

Like the changing seasons, I’m continuing to reinvent my life after 50.

Let me know what you think. Leave a comment or share your thoughts about how you are changing post 50.

Helpful Resources For Post-Career Individuals
There are lots of helpful resources and insights on the Interprize Group website, including recommended reading, positive psychology resources and events, and holistic health and wellness tips for post-career individuals pursuing a more meaningful life.

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Buzzing About New Books At 2015 Book Expo America

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersWhen I was a young girl growing up in the Bronx, NY, I loved to go to the public library. My mom would drop me off at the library and then go shopping at the supermarket.

The library was my babysitter. I’d head over to the “NEW BOOKS” display and scan the binders and jackets of each book. I liked the fresh smell and feel of new books — there weren’t any dirty fingerprints all over the shiny covers.

My mom would return after an hour or so. I’d check out my books and then we would stop at the bakery for a big sprinkle cookie (a large round shortbread with chocolate sprinkles on top) to eat on the walk home. Ah, the simple pleasures of life.

When I grew up and had kids of my own, I often took my daughter A and son D to the library near our home in Cherry Hill, NJ. Once again, I’d wander over to the shelf that said “NEW BOOKS” and pick out the pretty picture books. There’s nothing as wonderful or as relaxing as the joy of reading a book to a young child.

Going To The 2015 Book Expo America
These days I never go to the library. I purchase most novels on Amazon and download them onto my Kindle. I do still adore books, especially new ones. That’s why I was delighted to attend the 2015 Book Expo America (BEA) at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC last month. The BEA is where publishers showcase their upcoming releases for the year.

BEA 2015, Book Expo America, Dyan Nyad, Tom Foreman, books, life after 50

Fun at BEA 2015: I met Tom Foreman, author of “My Year Of Running, A Dad, A Daughter and A Ridiculous Plan,” and Diana Nyad, swimmer and author of “Find A Way.”

The BEA Book Bloggers Conference
On day one, I attended the BEA Book Blogger’s Conference with fellow midlife blogger and friend Helene Bludman Cohen of Books is Wonderful (a great place to go for book recommendations). It was interesting to hear the cognoscenti of the book blogosphere share their passion for books. We also heard self-published authors talk about the triumphs and challenges of being a writer. (Okay folks, I’ve now added ‘writing a memoir’ to my bucket list. I just have other things I want to accomplish first!) Continue reading

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Conquering My Fears At SUP YOGA

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellness“What time is yoga class?” I asked the nice instructor at the Adventure Center at the The Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort in St. Thomas, USVI, while I was visiting for my niece’s wedding. “It’s at 7:00 a.m.,” said Katie. “Ooh, that’s very early. A little too early for vacation,” I replied.

“You should try SUP YOGA VI,” said Katie. “It’s so much fun. I teach it at 9:00 a.m. at the Cove beach.”

“What is SUP YOGA?” I asked. “SUP YOGA Stands for Stand Up Paddle board yoga,” said Katie. “We paddle out on the water to nine feet and then we do yoga on our boards. You just need to know how to swim.”

Nine feet deep. Uh-oh. Oh-no. Asanas on a paddle board on the water. I’m not the greatest swimmer. Uh-oh. Oh-no. Should I? Would I? Could I do SUP YOGA?

My body tensed up as Katie put the sign-up sheet in front of me. “I’ll go with you for moral support,” said my son D. (What a nice son. He doesn’t even practice yoga.) “All right then,” I said, “I’m going to conquer my fears. Let’s do it.” (Go Judi! Go Judi!)

“You’re going to love it,” said Katie. “SUP YOGA on the water is so relaxing.”

A New Level of Mind, Body, and Spirit
The next morning I awoke early, put on my swimsuit (and lots of sunscreen) and headed down to the beach. Katie provided each of us a board with a paddle and guided us out onto the water. She showed us how to paddle forwards, backwards, and turn our boards around. Then we were on our way.

SUP YOGA VI, yoga, St. Thomas USVI

My son D and I got ready for SUP YOGA with our boards and paddles. Poses were done on the ocean water.

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