So Many Reasons To Fall In Love With Clearwater Beach

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50

Glorious sunshine by day and picturesque sunsets at dusk, miles of pearly white sugar sand beaches, clear blue gulf waters, an abundance of restaurants with fresh fish and seafood, and luxurious resorts with gulf coast views — there are so many reasons to fall in love with Clearwater Beach.

It’s easy to see why this Florida spot has won multiple accolades in recent years, including #1 Best Beach in the US and #20 Best Beach in the world by TripAdvisor, plus “Best Beach” recognition from USA Today, Travel Channel, Condé Nast Traveler and Fodor’s Travel Publications.

Clearwater Beach; City of Clearwater; best beach; Florida

I had a chance to soak it all in courtesy of The City Of Clearwater and I’m back to share the details.* My lucky boyfriend L joined me for five fantastic days at the new Wyndham Grand Resort Clearwater Beach, the second biggest hotel on the beach with waterfront vistas and waterside bar and restaurant.

Wyndham Grand Clearwater Hotel; Clearwater Beach; City of Clearwater; best beach; Florida; Florida beaches; gulf coast; boomer travel

Wyndham Grand Clearwater Hotel; Clearwater Beach; City of Clearwater; best beaches; Florida; Florida beaches; boomer travel

It was nice to meet other writers on the FAM trip including Lisa Niver from WeSaidGoTravel.com and Jason Frye from TeaKettle Junction Productions, Inc. (Note: A familiarization trip, known as FAM Trip, is where media are invited to visit a city by the Tourism Board or Visitor Bureau or City Marketing Organization.)

Clearwater Beach; #1 best beach by Tripadvisor; Florida

My new FAM friends and travel mates.

Easy To Travel To
We flew into Tampa International Airport, which is about a 30 – 40 minute ride to Clearwater Beach. (Note there is also a Clearwater/St. Pete airport that services many cities.) There’s free local transportation with FloridaFreeRides.com, so we didn’t need to rent a car. You just call for a ride and tip the driver afterwards. It was very convenient. There is also Jolley Trolley that runs up and down the beach and coastal route 7 days a week. Plus Uber is available if you need a ride.

The Best Beaches
I had heard that there was something special about Clearwater Beach. The minute we stepped on the sand with our bare feet we smiled. “Ooh, aah, ooh, ahh! This is amazing sand,” I said to L. It felt so good to stroll along the soft sand. My Fitbit quickly hit 10,000 steps. We walked along the water’s edge, the water was warm. It was relaxing, shedding our worries and enjoying our time together.

Clearwater Beach; # 1 TripAdvisor Best Beach USA; Florida; boomer travel

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“Welkom” to the Beauty of the Philadelphia Flower Show

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Welkom to my blog this week where I share beauty from the 2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show. I welcome you in Dutch because this year’s Flower Show celebrates “Holland: Flowering the World.” According to Philadelphia Horticultural Society (PHS): “No other country is as well know for its floral industry as the Netherlands, which fills the world with color.” Having traveled to Amsterdam and Kinderdijk on my Viking River Cruise last summer, I was especially excited to hear about the Flower Show theme.

Philadelphia Flower Show; tulips

A Visit To The Philadelphia Flower Show
It was my first time attending the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, which is the nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event. Special thanks to sponsor FTD Flowers for providing my tickets and honoring inspiring women as part of its #ILooktoHer campaign. (Note: If you stop by the FTD booth and take a photo and tag a woman who has inspired you personally using the hashtag above, they will be surprising some participants with free bouquets!)

The Flower Show is at the Pennsylvania Convention Center from March 11 – 19. If you love flowers and have never been, it’s well worth a visit. In addition to the major garden displays, the Flower Show hosts world-renowned competitions in horticulture and artistic floral arranging. There’s also a World Marketplace where you can purchase seeds, bulbs, flowers, and anything to do with gardening.

Philadelphia Flower Show; tulips

My BFF L (not my boyfriend L — who I might add that I adore because he still brings me flowers after eight years of courtship) and I spent more than two hours walking the Flower Show, admiring the rainbow of gardens and award-winning flower arrangements, blooms and plants. There was jewelry made with seeds and bark and paintings made with pressed flowers too. Continue reading

Where Do You Want To Travel During Your Life After 50?

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50From my visit to The New York Times Travel Show held at the Jacob K. Javits Center, N.Y.C. in January, it’s clear that boomers are a prime audience for many destinations. From Costa Rica to California, from Florida to the Philippines, from Morocco to Martinique, and everywhere else you can take a plane, ship, train or drive to visit, the post 50 market is on the move and so are their millennial children.

In fact, The New York Times announced that its annual Travel Show reached a new record of 30,099 participants during the three-day event —the highest attendance in the Show’s history.

The New York Times Travel Show; boomer travel; travel

The New York Times Travel Show reached a new record of more than 30,000 attendees.

So where do you want to travel during your life after 50?

I always like to see what places The New York Times Travel recommends each year. On the list of 52 for 2017, I’ve been to Canada (a variety of eastern and western cities), Detroit, Hamburg (Germany), Minneapolis, Kingston (Jamaica), Napa Valley (California), Sedona (Arizona), Madrid (Spain), Portland (Oregon), and yes, believe it or not South Bronx, N.Y., which is on the list. Since I was born in the Bronx I am curious to know more about this “industrial neighborhood’s revival!” That’s only 10 spots. Looks like I have much more traveling to do in my lifetime.

What’s Trending In Travel?
There were a few trends that I noticed from the panels at the Show. I also attended a media event sponsored by Trav Media, where I met with Convention and Visitor’s Bureau representatives to learn about their destinations and chat with Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) members to hear about their itineraries. Continue reading

So Much To Explore and Do In St. Pete’s Vibrant Downtown

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50As a former New Yorker, I love exploring new cities whenever I travel. That’s why I so enjoyed my first visit to St. Petersburg, Florida. St. Pete has the best of both worlds – the beautiful beaches on the Gulf Coast and St. Pete’s vibrant downtown that’s filled with great restaurants, shops and cultural destinations. If I ever decide to spend my life after 50 winters in a warmer climate, I could definitely see myself residing in St. Pete, or a Florida city nearby.

downtown St. Pete, Florida; Bodega Cuban Sandwiches; Local Market; Dali Museum; Florida

A sampling of downtown St. Pete.

The downtown area is very close to Pass-a-Grille, where my boyfriend L and I stayed at the Inn on the Beach. (Did you read my first post about all the things to do in Pass-a-Grille? If not click here.) By car, it’s only about a 20 minute ride. We found parking to be inexpensive —  it cost only $5 to park in the garage on Saturday. You can also grab a trolley from Pass-a-Grille to downtown which takes about 45 minutes.

Inn on the Beach Pass-A-Grille; Pass-A-Grille; St. Pete Beaches; life after 50; Florida; St Pete, Florida; Pass-A-Grille, St. Pete

The Inn on the Beach in Pass-A-Grille, St Pete, Florida.

A Best-ever Cuban Sandwich
One of our first stops for dinner was Bodega on Central Avenue, suggested by a member of the @VSPC Tourism team. The corridor is filled with a diverse selection of hip and cool small businesses run by entrepreneurs. Bodega was voted “Best of the Bay” for their Cuban sandwich, which is exactly what I ordered.

 

Bodega SignsIt was OMG, OMG, OMG, the best Cuban sandwich I’ve ever eaten. L ordered a roasted pork platter with plaintains, which was so, so good too. Bodega is known for their freshly made juices, a trend that I found all over Venice Beach, California last November as well. We sampled two different varieties with ingredients like ginger, turmeric, carrots and apples. I would recommend sharing a sandwich and juice if you go – it was way too much food for L and me to consume for dinner.

Bodega Cuban Sandwich; St. Pete's Vibrant Downtown; Florida

Best-ever Cuban Sandwich.

 

Bodega Pork and Plaintain platter; Bodega; St. Pete's vibrant downtown

Delicious pork and plantains.

 

To Market, To Market
On Saturday we headed back downtown to experience St. Pete’s Saturday Morning Market, held every Saturday, October – May from 9 am – 2 pm. It is the largest fresh market in the Southeast US. There’s food, crafts, and music. It’s so much fun. Continue reading

A Pleasant Winter Retreat In Pass-a-Grille, St. Pete

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50“I really like your blog, and wondered if you would care to come and visit us at Inn on the Beach for a two-night stay. To tell you a little about ourselves, we’re a complex of recently refurbished self-catering cottages and rooms situated on St Pete Beach, many of them offering beautiful views out over the gulf,” said the invitation from D.*

Having never explored the west coast of Florida, I was excited to visit. My boyfriend L was also glad to get away. So when the cold winds roared last week, we packed our bags and headed for a long weekend in sunny St. Pete. We added a few extra nights to lengthen our stay giving us time for a pleasant winter retreat at the Inn on the Beach in Pass-a-Grille.

Inn on the Beach Pass-a-Grille; Pass-a-Grille; St. Pete Beaches; life after 50; Florida; St Pete, Florida; Pass-A-Grille, St. Pete

The Inn on the Beach in Pass-a-Grille, St Pete, Florida.

The Inn on the Beach Is A Little Bit Of Paradise
We arrived after a short flight from Philadelphia to Tampa International Airport, rented a car, and were at the Inn on the Beach in about 30 minutes. The Inn is located on 14th Street and Gulf Way in the historic Pass-a-Grille area,

Inn on the Beach in Pass-A-Grille; Pass-A-Grille; Pass-A-Grille, St. Pete; Florida; St. Petersburg; life after 50

My boyfriend L and I were excited to arrive at the Inn on the Beach.

We rented the Blue Heron room on the second floor with a terrace overlooking the beach. The room had a king size bed, open closet to hang our clothes, renovated bathroom and little efficiency kitchen. There is onsite parking, daily maid service, daily coffee, and continental breakfast is served in the courtyard on the weekend.

Inn on the Beach; Pass-A-Grille; Pass-A-Grille, St. Pete; Florida; life after 50

Our room had a kitchenette and king size bed.

Inn on the Beach in Pass-A-Grille; Pass-A-Grille, St. Pete; Florida; St. Petersburg; life after 50

A beach view from our balcony.

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Why You Need To Escape To Venice Beach, California This Year

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50

“Let’s take a trip to Venice Beach, California,” I said to my daughter A. I love California and wanted to visit my BFF R out there. I boarded the plane in Philadelphia early morning November 9th and was glad to be heading to a warm and sunny place to drown out my post-election blues. My daughter A met me from NYC and the two of us embarked on a six day escape for sun and fun.

California Venice Mural; Venice Beach, California; boomer travel; California

We rented a lovely guest house in Venice Beach on Airbnb. It was within walking distance of the town center on Abbot Kinney Blvd, about a mile or so from the beach and a few miles from Santa Monica. We rented a car and parking was available on site and on the street. You just have to move your car some days for the street sweepers.

California Venice Airbnb; Venice Beach, California; Airbnb; boomer travel

So why should you plan a vacation to Venice Beach, California this year? Besides the spectacular sunny weather and relaxed vibes, here are more reasons to book your trip now:

California Venice Sunset

 

♥ Sun Bathing On Beautiful Beaches: The sunrise and sunsets over the ocean are magnificent. We took long walks on the expansive beaches in the morning and early evening. I even found my little sandpipers from Brigantine, New Jersey skipping along the sand. They’re smart birdies. They know where to go for the winter. Continue reading

My Travels On “Rhineland Discovery” – A Beautiful Day in the Black Forest

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50It had been a glorious week on the Viking EIR, (courtesy of Viking River Cruises).* Our voyage on the “Rhineland Discovery” river cruise would soon be coming to an end. There was one last day to savor — with a morning excursion to the medieval village of Colmar, France and an afternoon exploring the beauty of Germany’s fabled Black Forest.

A Walking Tour Of Colmar, France
“Welcome aboard,” said our tour guide Rhona as we readied for the bus trip to Colmar. It was a brief ride and Rhona provided a history lesson on the way. She told us that this area of France was occupied by Germany during WWI and WWII.

Colmar, France; VIking River Cruises; river cruises

Colmar, France is a quaint village.

As we neared the roundabout there was a replica of the Statue of Liberty. “We have a tiny bit of New York City here,” said Rhona. “In 2004 an honorary statue was placed at the entrance of Colmar to honor it’s hometown creator Bartholdi, who designed the original monument as a thank you to Americans for their help in WWII.” Continue reading

My Travels On “Rhineland Discovery” – A Best-Ever Full-Day Feast in Strasbourg

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Are you ready to join me for my best-ever day in Strasbourg? If you are hungry now, you’ll be ravenous when you’re done reading about and viewing all the pictures from the “Taste the Best of Alsace” excursion I went on during my “Rhineland Discovery” river cruise (courtesy of Viking River Cruises).* Better yet, I guarantee you’ll want to book a visit to the Alsace region of France during your life after 50.

Arriving In The Alsace Region of France
It was the next to last day of our cruise on the Rhine and activities were reaching a peak. Following visits to Bruges, Amsterdam, Kinderdijk, Cologne, Heidelberg, and Rudesheim, the Viking EIR arrived outside Strasbourg, the largest port on the Upper Rhine and the center of France’s Alsace region. Since Strasbourg borders on France and Germany, it boasts a unique cultural blend of both countries.

Strasbourg; Alsace Region of France; boomer travel; Viking River Cruises; Rhineland Discovery

Food and City Tour of Strasbourg
While my boyfriend L stayed back and rested, I departed our ship early morning with five fellow female foodies for what would be the most ah-may-zing day of eating — literally ever, ever, ever from 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m. — with Food and City Tours Strasbourg.

Strasbourg; Food and City Tours Strasbourg; Viking River Cruises; boomer travel; baby boomer women

Bonjour,” said our guide Virginie as she greeted us for our bus trip into town. We each were given a shopping bag to fill with foods for our lunch at a local wine shop. Continue reading

My Travels On “Rhineland Discovery” – The Great Castles of Germany

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50It’s a raining and cold outside. But my thoughts are elsewhere. I’m thinking about my river cruise on the Rhine this past summer on the Viking EIR (courtesy of Viking River Cruises).* The days on “Rhineland Discovery” were sunny, tranquil, and full of dramatic and awe-inspiring scenery — from our time in Bruges, to our stay in Amsterdam, to our visit to the windmills of Kinderdijk and the vibrant city of Cologne. Each day was better than the next.

Conquering the Marksburg Castle
“Are you ready to conquer the castle?” asked our program director Daniel as we arrived for our tour of the Marksburg Castle in Koblenz, Germany. My boyfriend L and I climbed the cobblestone steps up to the hilltop.

Marks burg Castle, Germany's castles; Rhineland Discovery, Viking River Cruise

Marksburg Castle was high up on the hill

Our guide Sasha opened the gates and led us through the rooms. We saw the wine cellar, the kitchen where big oxen were cooked centuries ago, the chapel, and the seated chamber or living quarters. “People in the Middle Ages were smaller,” said Sasha. “They slept sitting up because it was superstitious to sleep lying down, which was the position of death. They drank a lot of wine. It was safer to drink the wine than the water.”

Marks burg Castle, Germany, Rhine river, Viking River Cruise, Rhineland Discovery

We toured the rooms in Marksburg Castle.

We maneuvered up narrow staircases. Sasha told us that these slim passageways were built to slow the enemy so only one person could go up at a time. We toured a room filled with heavy armory from the different time periods. “Would anyone like to try on a helmet to test how heavy it is?” Sasha asked. My Lancelot’s head was too large to fit, so guess who offered hers? That helmet was really heavy!

Marks burg Castle; Germany; Rhine river; Viking River Cruise; castles; Rhineland Discovery

Guess who?

Sailing to Rudesheim
We spent a relaxing afternoon sailing along the Middle Rhine, one of Germany’s most scenic regions. According to Viking, “castles and wines take center stage, particularly along the Middle Rhine, brimming with remarkable beauty, history and culture.” L and I had a chance to partake in the best Rieslings during our dinner in Rüdesheim that evening. Continue reading

My Travels On “Rhineland Discovery” – Welcome to Kinderdijk and Cologne

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50After a fabulous five days on the “Rhineland Discovery” pre-trip to Bruges, Ghent, and Amsterdam, it was time to set sail aboard the Viking EIR (courtesy of Viking River Cruises).*

Welcome to Kinderdijk
By Saturday morning we arrived in Kinderdijk, a village community in the Dutch countryside, home to the largest concentration of windmills in The Netherlands. My boyfriend L and I were ready to go exploring.

“I’m very proud to have you in this area,” said our guide Hans as he led our group across the dike to the windmills. “There are 19 mills. Everything is automatic with computer systems. The pump stations do what the windmills used to do,” said Hans. “However, the windmills are in working condition if needed.”

Kinderdijk; windmills; Viking River Cruise; Rhineland Discovery; boomer travel

There are 19 windmills in Kinderdijk.

He told us about the millers, who live in the mills. “They must complete schooling to operate the mills. The millers have regular jobs and maintain the mills,” said Hans. After touring outside, we went inside, climbing up narrow ladders to reach each floor. It was amazing to think that centuries ago a family of 13 lived in such a tiny space.

Kinderdijk; windmills; Viking River Cruises; Rhineland Discovery; Travel and Leisure; Boomer Travel

A very large family lived in the mill centuries ago.

Before leaving Kinderdijk, I bought a few delft blue china souvenirs and made L take a picture of me with my feet in the big wooden clogs nearby the gift shop.

Kinderdijk; Viking River Cruise; Rhineland Discovery; Boomer Travel;

I had big shoes to fill.

Setting Sail For Germany
I spent the afternoon on deck while we cruised to Germany. The Rhine was just as the Viking brochure had described it, “bucolic waters, lush landscapes, Friesian cows, and tidy villages with their neatly laid farmhouses.” It was a very relaxing ride.

Germany; Rhineland Discovery; Viking River Cruises; boomer travel; travel and leisure

Bucolic views on the Rhine.

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