My First-Ever Ocean Cruise On The Luxurious “Viking Star”

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Are you ready? It’s time to embark, as I share highlights from my journey aboard my first-ever ocean cruise on the luxurious Viking Star. It was a “star-studded” 15-days traveling courtesy of Viking Cruises.* My lucky, lucky boyfriend L was my companion for the trip.

Our voyage on the Cities of Antiquity & The Holy Land took us to Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and Italy. During the two weeks, we spent time exploring the cities of Athens, Mykonos, Rhodes, Limassol, Naples, Rome and visiting the holy land in Jerusalem. (Note: We missed visiting Crete due to weather conditions.)

Viking Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Greece; Israel; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travel

Our Viking Ocean Cruise took us to Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy.

An Elegant Vessel For Ocean Cruising
Having been on two previous Viking River Cruises — on the Douro in Portugal and on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland — I was familiar with Viking Longships. With its Ocean Cruises, as they say, Viking has taken “that same small ship, destination-focus experience to the seas with an elegant fleet of vessels setting sail in Scandinavia and Baltic, the Mediterranean, North America and the Caribbean.” The ocean itineraries have been carefully designed to access the best destinations up close, with more time in the port than other cruise lines.

Viking Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travell

Viking Star is an elegant ocean liner designed for small ship destination cruising.

Accolades Galore For Viking Star
With Viking, I knew our ship, the Viking Star, was going to be special. Viking was named a #1 Ocean Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure readers in the World’s Best Awards 2017 and 2016. Plus, Cruise Critic editors honored Viking Ocean Cruises with two awards in 2016: “Best Luxury Cruise Line for Value” and “Best Luxury Cruise Line Spa,” (Ooh, ooh, ooh, wait until I tell you about my treatments at the spa. I had to try a massage and facial. It was part of my duties as a blogger. Did I say I love my life? I do. I do.)

Viking Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travel

The spa has a relaxing warm water pool with jets.

Cruise Critic editors also selected Viking Star as the “Best New Ocean Ship” of 2015, noting “the ship is so beautifully designed—with terrific al fresco restaurants, a beautiful pool area, a superb spa and the two-level Explorers’ observation lounge—that you’ll be hard-pressed to go ashore.”  (We spent three days at sea and it was so relaxing to walk around the deck and sit on lounges looking out over the Aegean Sea.) Continue reading

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Stay Healthy and Happy This Holiday Season

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellness“It’s December and the holiday season is in full swing. As your jolly CVS Pharmacy Ambassador*, I’m here to remind you about ways to stay healthy and happy so you can enjoy this month’s festivities and celebrations.

Did You Get Your Flu Shot?
My boyfriend L and I got our flu shots back in October at our local CVS MinuteClinic. According to the experts at CVS, “Getting a flu shot is the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from catching the flu.”

If you didn’t get your vaccine, you can still get one at CVS’ 9,600 retail pharmacy locations and more than 1,100 walk-in MinuteClinics. The MinuteClinics are open every day, including evenings and weekends, with no appointment needed.

CVS Pharmacy; MinuteClinic; boomer wellness; flu shot

You can get your flu shot at CVS MinuteClinics across the country.

If you do happen to catch the flu, CVS can be a helpful resource. For example, with the CVS Pharmacy mobile app, you can shop via the app, place an order and have it delivered right to your car door with CVS Curbside pickup! This is especially nice when you’re not feeling well.

What About Other Immunizations?
In addition to the flu vaccine, it is important to make sure all your common immunizations are up to date before heading off to a crowded gathering. The CDC says to get the pneumonia vaccine if you are 65+ and the shingles vaccine for those 60+.

Ooh, ooh, ooh, that will include me, me, me next month! I’m going to check out the new shingles vaccine, Shingrix®, that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) says it prefers for healthy adults aged 50 years and older to prevent shingles and related complications.

Take Care When You Travel
Are you traveling overseas during the holidays? I went to the MinuteClinic before I left for my Viking Ocean Cruise last month. The Nurse Practitioner Karen prescribed medicine for motion sickness, which luckily neither L nor I needed on our voyage. (Stay tuned for my posts about my travels coming soon.) 

Viking Star; motion sickness prevention; MinuteClinic; boomer wellness

Before going on an ocean cruise, I went to the MinuteClinic to get medicine for motion sickness.

Are you traveling out of town during the holidays? With the CVS Pharmacy App you’re able to quickly and easily transfer prescriptions to a CVS location nearest you if you forgot your medication.

Health Tips For The Holiday Season
The experts at CVS provided some additional suggestions for staying healthy when your world gets fast-paced: Continue reading

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My 2017 Gift Guide Filled With Goodies For All

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer womenEach year, I save a list of favorites from my visit to the NY NOW Show – The Market for Lifestyle, Home + Gift – held at the Javits Center in New York City in August — to share with you during the holiday season. I’ve included items only where I know you can purchase them online.

Is my 2017 gift guide as good as Oprah’s? You decide!

IIf you haven’t finished your holiday shopping, perhaps you’ll find an idea for the perfect gift for a loved one or maybe a treat for yourself. Plus read down all the way to enter my Rafflecopter giveaway. I’m giving away a handmade Makeup Junkie Bag filled with Send These – a set of 20 postcards with positive attitude from Compendium, and a Spongelle Rose Body Buffer.

2017 holiday gift guide; giveaway

Enter my holiday gift giveaway via the Rafflecopter below.

For Those Who Like Inspiring Jewelry
The b.u. collection of simple, handmade necklaces, bracelets, and earrings feature charms so you can, as they say “wear your hopes and dreams, a symbol of empowerment or good luck around you. This jewelry inspires that you b.u.

b.u. jewelry; 2017 holiday gift guide

b.u. jewelry encourages you to b.u.

When you wear Dogeared jewelry perhaps it will spur good things to happen. Dogeared jewels “embrace the stories, happy moments, milestones and experiences that celebrate, connect and inspire. Each piece tells a story of individuality, self-expression, love, and friendship.” Yogis may especially like the mandalas and mystical selections.

Dogeared jewelry; 2017 holiday gift guide

Dogeared jewelry has introduced a variety of new collections for the holiday season.

Jewelry by Viki is handmade in Portland, Oregon (if you read my blog posts about my visit to Portland you know how much I adore this city). Viki uses recycled precious metals and natural stones to create artisan jewelry. Each piece is carefully designed to express a love of nature with abstract leaf shapes and earth toned colors.

Jewelry by Viki; 2017 holiday gift guide

Viki’s jewelry features natural stones.

According to the creators of Moonglow jewelry, “every moment has a moon and gives us an opportunity to share our lives and dreams with those we love.” With the Moonphase calculator, you can create a piece of personalized jewelry that showcases a moon phase that aligns with your birthday or another special day.

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More Fun Things To See and Do In Portland

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Hopefully by now you read my post about my first day visiting popular places in Portland, Oregon. Could my Day Two top it? Yep, yep, yep. Long time friends S and her sister B, who were tour guides for my stay in the Rose City (S has lived in Portland for 35+ years and B is from Brooklyn), put together another agenda of fun things to see and do in Portland.

I left the Inn at Northrup Station, where I was staying (arranged by Travel Portland Tourism*), and hopped on the Portland Streetcar for a ride downtown. Having already traveled by Streetcar the day before, I was starting to feel like a local. I knew how to navigate departure and arrival times on the PDX Total Transit app.

The Best-Ever Farmers Market
Our guide Damon from the previous day’s Walking Tours of Portland had mentioned that there are 42 farmers markets in Portland. One of the largest markets is the Portland State University (PSU) Farmers Market at South Park Blocks between SW College & Montgomery Streets. The market is open year round on Saturday from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm.

PSU Farmers Market; Portland Farmers Markets; Portland; pdx; Travel Portland; #YouCanInPortland; Oregon; boomer travel

PSU Farmers Market is held year round on Saturdays in downtown Portland.

How great was this market? It was SO GREAT! One of the best farmers markets I’ve ever experienced.

PSU Farmers Market; Portland Farmers Markets; Portland; pdx; Travel Portland; #YouCanInPortland; Oregon

Flower bouquets were a spectrum of many colors.

Portland’s soil is fertile from all the rainy weather, making it a wonderful place to grow fruits and vegetables and flowers. I was in awe of the abundance of unique produce — cranberry beans, red gold nectarines, long beans, bitter melon, artichoke flowers. Oregon is also known for its luscious berries, local honeys, and hazelnuts.

PSU Farmers Market; Portland Farmers Markets; Portland; pdx; Travel Portland; #YouCanInPortland; Oregon

Unique varieties of vegetables like Cranberry Beans are sold at the PSU Farmers Market.

I bought packages of Sun Gold Farm’s “Ruby Red” and “Shaman’s Blue” Heirloom Popping Corn to bring home to my kids. According to Sun Gold Farm, their popcorn requires no extra flavoring to bring out the subtle nuttiness and sweetness of the real popcorn. Continue reading

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A Glorious Day Exploring Popular Places In Portland

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50I promised I would tell you more about my trip to Portland, Oregon and I’m staying true to my word. If you read my previous post about the 10 reasons you need to visit hip and cool Portland, you know how much I loved my recent visit. As I share my first day exploring below, I think you’ll see why this city is so great.

I met up with two longtime friends, S, who has lived in Portland for 35+ years, and her sister B, from Brooklyn, who was visiting while I was there. They are both big foodies, so our plans for Day 1 included sampling several Portland specialities — coffee, chocolate, donuts, and eating street food from a food cart.

Portland; pdx; travelportland;Oregon; boomer travel

Longtime friends B (pictured left) and S (pictured right) were my fellow adventurers in Portland.

Navigating My Way To Downtown Portland
Since I knew we would be doing a lot of eating, I skipped breakfast at the Inn at Northrup Station Hotel where I was staying, grabbed a city map and free pass for the Portland Streetcar from the front desk, and made my way to the North South line to take the Streetcar into downtown. It was a 20 minute ride from the Northwest part of town. (If you are visiting download the PDX Total Transit app for all your transportation needs.)

Portland Streetcars; Portland, Oregon; alternative transportation

Portland Streetcars are a convenient form of transportation in the city.

The team from Travel Portland Tourism* had arranged for me to have a Walking Tour Of Portland, which is an educational way to learn about the historic sites and culture of the city. S and B joined me for the two hour tour and enjoyed it as well.

Downtown Portland; Portland; pdx; Portland art; Oregon

There is so much artwork all over the downtown.

Time To Eat The Donuts
Having walked for two hours around the city, the three of us were ready to go scouting on our own. “Where would you like to go now?” S asked. “I think it’s time to eat the donuts,” I replied. Portland is known for its gourmet donuts. Blue Star Donuts didn’t disappoint.

Here’s the scoop on these donuts: “Our donuts are made from a classic brioche recipe that originated in the south of France. The dough takes 18 hours to make and is made by hand every day; we start with a high quality bread flour, add cage-free eggs, whole hormone-free milk, and then fold in a European-style butter.”

Blue Star Donuts; Gourmet Donuts; Artisan Donuts; Portland foodie; Oregon; boomer travel

Portland people love to eat donuts.

How good are these donuts? We tried Blueberry Bourbon and Orange Olive Oil. They were so good, so good, so good.
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10 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Hip and Cool Portland

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Having arrived in Portland following three wonderful days in The Tualatin Valley (Oregon’s wine country), I knew I was going to love this city from the minute I stepped into the artsy Inn at Northrup Station Hotel in the Northwest part of town. The team from Travel Portland Tourism* had secured my complimentary accommodations and provided a list of activities to see and do in Portland during my two day stay.

Portland, Oregon; Portland Symphony; Travel Portland

The Portland Symphony sign is a landmark.

My research on Portland indicated that it is a hip and cool city, but after a Best of Portland Walking Tour, I was more convinced than ever why The New York Times Travel included Portland as one of its “52 Places to Go In 2017.”

Inn at Northrup Station Hotel; Portland, Oregon

The Inn at Northrup Station Hotel is a great place to stay in Northwest Portland.

If you’ve never been, or haven’t been back in a while, I’m going to give you 10 reasons why I recommend you visit this authentic city. The reasons are based on all that I learned from our tour guide Damon, who spent two hours walking and talking with us about what makes Portland so great. In upcoming posts, I’ll share more specifics. For now, hear me out: Continue reading

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A Beautiful Cycling Adventure on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50

It was my last day in The Tualatin Valley of Oregon, courtesy of The Washington County Visitors Association (WCVA),* and I was looking forward to a cycling adventure on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. The Banks-Vernonia State Trail is one of Oregon’s Regional Trails and runs 21 miles through open glades of green, pine-scented forests and babbling streams.

 

Banks-Vernonia State Trail; bicycling; Oregon; The Tualatin Valley

The Banks-Vernonia State Trail is 21 miles.

Breakfast At The Trailhead Cafe
“We’re having breakfast at the Trailhead Café,” Jackie, a member of the WCVA team, said. “It’s a perfect place for fueling up before a ride or relaxing after one.” It was a short drive from my lodging at McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove. We met Ariel, her colleague, who would be my riding companion.

Trailhead Cafe; Oregon; The Tualatin Valley; Banks-Vernonia State Trail; boomer travel

We stopped for breakfast at the Trailhead Cafe before going cycling.

The Trailhead Café is a cute eatery near the trail. It specializes in made-to-order wraps, salads and panninis for lunch and boasts a selection of pastries, eggs and coffees for breakfast. My egg sandwich was quite yummy.  Continue reading

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One Life, A Treasure Chest of Stories

life after 50, over 50, retirement, baby boomer women, baby boomersIn honor of October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’m pleased to bring you an essay written by Antoinette Truglio Martin, the author of an inspiring memoir, Hug Everyone You Know, A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer.

In 2007, when Antoinette was nearing 50, she received a Stage I breast cancer diagnosis. A speech therapist and special education teacher by training as well as a successful children’s book author, Antoinette started her fight against cancer with words, journaling and sending emails to family and friends who wanted to offer their support. The emails were addressed to ‘Her Everyone’ and she signed each email with the reminder to’hug everyone you know.’

Those emails and journal entries are at the heart of her memoir. The book is moving, brave, informative, and occasionally funny. As the the press release says: “It speaks to us all.”

I hope Antoinette’s essay will touch you with the tenderness that it touched me. I give you Antoinette’s essay:

One Life, A Treasure Chest of Stories
by Antoinette Truglio Martin

Antoinette Truglio Martin; Hug Everyone You Know; SheWritesPress; breast cancer awareness month

Antoinette Truglio Martin is author of a new book “Hug Everyone You Know.”

“Stories fill our lives. We wake up, meander through our routines, and return to the day’s end. Along the way, stories collect. They are born from our observations, interactions, and adventures. The upsides of life are celebrated. The hardships are pondered and wrestled with as we attempt to steer from a dark abyss. Stories that stand out are shared. Memorable ones are retold, rewritten, remembered through the generations. We are truly the keeper of story treasure chests. Continue reading

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Enjoying A Day of Tasting and Touring In The Tualatin Valley

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50The sun was shining for day two in The Tualatin Valley, during my visit to Oregon’s Wine Country last month. My trip was courtesy of The Washington County Visitors Association (WCVA).*

Jackie, a member of the WCVA team, picked me up early at my lodging at McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, to begin a full sunrise-to-sunset of tasting and touring around the area.

The Tualatin Valley; The Willamette Valley; Oregon Wine Country; Oregon

The Tualatin Valley is situated in the northern Willamette Valley wine region.

Breakfast At Maggie’s Buns
Maggie’s Buns, known for its baked goods, is a fun, quirky cafe with delicious, homemade food,” said Jackie. It was a perfect place to go for breakfast. The cafe, located right by Pacific University, one of the oldest universities in Oregon, was packed with students.

Good thing I left my gluten-free diet at home. The pastry case was filled with freshly baked  buns, muffins and scones. Ooh, ooh, ooh, the smell of cinnamon filled the air, as did pots of Stumptown coffee, a favorite beverage of Oregonians.

Maggie's Buns; The Tualatin Valley; Forest Grove; Oregon

Maggie, pictured left, and her team enjoy serving homemade baked goods.

We sat at one of the mixed matched tables and chairs and poured two large mugs of coffee. Then Maggie and her team came out all smiles holding a tray of assorted baked goods. It was so good, so good, so good.

Maggie's Buns; The Tualatin Valley; Oregon wine country; Forest Grove; boomer travel; travel

Maggie’s Buns baked goods were scrumptious.

I could have lingered all morning, but we had to leave to make it to the town of Sherwood for our tasting at Ponzi Winery.

A Progressive Wine Tasting
I was eager to see what the Ponzi Winery had to offer, especially since The Tualatin Valley is situated in the northern Willamette Valley (WV) wine region, which was named by Wine Enthusiasts as 2016 Wine Region of the Year.” Ponzi Vineyards is internationally acclaimed for producing some of the world’s finest, limited production Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, White Riesling, Arneis and Dolcetto.

Ponzi Winery; Ponzi Vineyards; The Tualatin Valley; Williamette Wine Region; Oregon wineries; boomer travel

Ponzi WInery has been producing wines since 1970.

The Ponzi Winery, founded in 1970, is a family affair. Our guide Jake shared the story of owners David and Nancy Ponzi, who went to Italy to find their original grapes. “They brought back clippings in suitcases to start their winery,” said Jake. “Ponzi is one of six founding wineries in The Tualatin Valley. They share a lot of knowledge with other winemakers in the community. It strengthens the region.” Continue reading

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Happy October! It’s Time To Get Your Flu Shot

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellness“It’s October. The flu season has officially started. Let’s go get our flu shot,” I said to my boyfriend L last weekend. Since I’m a CVS Ambassador*, we went to the MinuteClinic at our local CVS Pharmacy for our shots. There was no line. We walked right in.

“Who wants to go first?” said Karen, the nice nurse practitioner. “Me, me, me,” I replied. I’m not a fan of needles so I wanted to get it over with. I rolled up my sleeve, took a deep yogic breath, and before I could say ‘one, two, three,’ NP Karen shot the vaccine into my left deltoid.

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I got my flu shot at the MinuteClinic at CVS Pharmacy.

It was L’s turn next. “Do you want the higher dose?” asked NP Karen. “The higher dose is recommended for anyone over 65.” L agreed and soon his left deltoid was vaccinated too.

CVS Pharmacy; MinuteClinic; flu shot; influenza; flu prevention

My boyfriend L went with me to get a flu shot.

Why Should You Get A Flu Shot?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone who is eligible and at least six months old get a flu shot when the vaccine becomes available, preferably by October. Plus, according to the experts at CVS Pharmacy, getting a flu shot is the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from catching the flu.

“People may not realize that it can actually take up to two weeks for the flu vaccine to build immunity,” said Angela Patterson, Chief Nurse Practitioner Officer at MinuteClinic. “For this reason, CVS Pharmacy actually recommends that patients get their flu shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available to ensure you have the best protection before flu season peaks. Additionally, influenza strains tend to change each year, so it’s very important to get vaccinated every year to make sure you are protected.”

Are you convinced yet? Continue reading

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