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Vacations, Day Trips and Getaways

Vacations, Day Trips and Getaways



Cindy Tether: Come to Iceland--It’s Like Visiting Another Planet, but It’s a Lot Closer than Mars PDF Print Email

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By Cindy Tether, Bronxville Author and Traveler


Feb. 28, 2018:  While touring the Golden Circle, my friends and I visited a hydroelectric plant, saw a demonstration of the four gaits of the sturdy Icelandic horses, were amazed by the fantastic shapes of the lava hills and mountains, and were thrilled by the eruption of the Strokkur geyser, along with all the steaming geothermal pools nearby.

Another day, we lounged in the luxury and warmth of the Blue Lagoon, sampling blueberry smoothies, wine, and beer, then coating our faces with silica and algae masks. Emerging from the therapeutic lagoon, we agreed that our skin had never felt so smooth, so soft, and so replenished.

Our South Shore Adventure turned out to be another experience of a lifetime: We marveled at the force of the Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Skógafoss waterfalls; then, bundled up like indomitable snowmen, we walked to the tip of a glacier, battling strong winds, as ice pellets pounded our faces (at one point, I asked our guide if we had reached the North Pole yet!). 


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Warm lamb soup and hot, tasty rolls with fresh butter awaited us at the Lava House, followed by a film on the four most recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland.

The next day, on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, we greeted a group of curious seals as the sun rose in the East, and several kilometers farther along, we were humbled by the power of the surf as it lashed the basalt cliffs and hollowed out sea caves below. We also paid homage to the “trolls” who were caught in the daylight and became forever transfixed overlooking the ocean.

A bit farther down the road, we climbed the remains of a volcanic crater and later stood in awe of Kirkjufell mountain and its nearby extreme waterfalls, frozen, unforgiving, but still raging through the tunnels of ice created by their spray. As magical as all this was, there was nothing to compare to the Northern Lights, which we were so fortunate to experience, both in the darkness of Thingvellir National Park and, another night, as we sipped hot chocolate overlooking the Whale Fjord.

What an amazing treat the Northern Lights are! To see them, one needs the confluence of four key variables: the right place; the right time of year; dark, cloudless, starry skies; and a solar storm to have taken place 36 to 48 hours beforehand (it takes that long for the sun’s supercharged particles to reach the Earth’s atmosphere and interact with the oxygen and nitrogen molecules causing the lights to appear and, hopefully, “dance”). A little divine intervention helps as well.

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First faint, then more distinct, and, finally, ending in a blaze of glory, the Northern Lights danced and waved to the hoots and howls of the patient onlookers. The Northern Lights were worth waiting four hours in the cold for, as they started puffing and swaying and waving across the dark night sky after midnight.

In closing, I must say: “I’m in love with Iceland,” from the protein-packed dreaminess of the Icelandic yogurt called “skyr” to sustain us through the day, to the friendly, helpful people, many of whom are descendants of the original Vikings, to the sights and sounds like no other. Iceland is a charmer, a treasure not soon to be forgotten!

Pictured here:  Scenes from Iceland.

Photos by Cindy Tether





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Bayside Travel Wins Small Business Award from '914INC.' Magazine PDF Print Email

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By Sally Winston, Bayside Travel


Sep. 20, 2017:   Bayside Travel won a 2017 Small Business Award from 914INC., a Westchester magazine. The agency is honored to have won in the category of General Excellence.

Bayside Travel was one of fifteen local noteworthy businesses selected from hundreds of nominations. Judging was based on the consistency of success, impact on the community, and customer/client base.

This year, Bayside Travel is celebrating 30 outstanding years under Barbara Nichuals's ownership. The company is headquartered in Bronxville. It specializes in custom-crafted itineraries from exotic safaris to multi-gen family trips to island escapes. The staff is multi-lingual and averages over 20 years of experience per person in the travel industry. 

914INC.’s annual Small Business Awards pay tribute to the success of these outstanding businesses and to the businesses that support them.

Bayside Travel, along with fellow Small Business Award winners, will be honored at a cocktail reception on Thursday, September 28, at The Crowne Plaza in White Plains.

Pictured here:  Barbara Nichuals, owner and CEO of Bayside Travel.

Photo courtesy Bayside Travel

 
Adrienne Smith, the Constant Traveler: Malaise in Munich PDF Print Email

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By Adrienne Smith


Apr. 12, 2017:  What to do in Munich? Your constant traveler has been there many times, visited all the wonderful art museums, faithfully stood in the central square, Marienplatz, watching the colorful glockenspiel figures come out dancing on the hour, visited the superb Deutsches Museum to see huge displays of model trains.

Time for something new.

An exhibition at the Münchner Stadtmuseum titled National Socialism in Munich caught my eye. Clearly some sort of description of the rise of Nazism in Germany.

What made this particularly interesting to me, requiring that I expose a familial black sheep, was that my grandfather, a rabid conservative who tended to rant at our Thanksgiving feasts when talking about the likes of Franklin Roosevelt (but otherwise a very nice man), had been in Munich on business in the mid-1930s.

His hotel overlooked a large square and, from his room, he could see a massive, Trumpian crowd and could hear what he described as the hypnotic voice of the man addressing said crowd, none other than Adolf Hitler.

Overcome by the experience, my grandfather decided to pen a letter of praise to Hitler, receiving, in return, a missive of thanks from his secretary, which I now possess. As you can imagine, this is not something that I care to display prominently and proudly in my house.

So off I went to the museum. Luckily, an English audio guide was available for use, since most of the exhibition was, quite naturally, in German. The audio plus the visuals made for a depressing tale of increasingly insane measures taken against Jewish residents of the city.

Munich, itself, was the center of the National Socialist Party and for Hitler, himself. He had attempted a putsch in 1923 and finally achieved control of the national government in 1933, a government that at that time was headquartered in Munich.

Starting that year, laws were passed limiting the rights of Jews to work in designated professions, marry non-Jews, and otherwise enjoy the rights of full citizenship.

Documents list businesses and individuals banned from plying their trade. One photo shows a prominent Jewish lawyer, who had gone to the police station to defend a client, stripped to his underwear and forced to walk the streets with a denigrating placard hanging from his neck.

The saga of Uhlfelder Department Store, illustrated in detail, sums up the progressing horror of the times. The store, the second largest in Munich, was noted for its installation of then-unusual escalators. Starting in 1933, the Jewish owner was placed in "protective custody." In November of 1938, as part of the Nazi night of terror throughout Germany that became known as the Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass"), the store was broken into, damaged, and set on fire. 

Herr Uhlfelder and some of his employees were sent to Dachau, seven miles from the city center. After four years, he was released upon surrender of all his assets, and, absurdly, payment for the damage done to the store.

The exhibition also features details of the crackdown on "decadent" art and replacement of it by obviously inferior scenes of pastoral harmony and military bravery, much resembling, in their sugary sweetness, the murals that line the Moscow subway system.

A very depressing show but significant for the public acknowledgment of Munich's dark days.

Pictured here:  Uhlfelder after Kristallnacht.

Photo by Adrienne Smith

 
Adrienne Smith, the Constant Traveler: Many a Slip PDF Print Email

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By Adrienne Smith


Mar. 1, 2017:  I left on a weeklong trip to Munich, Germany, recently. As luck would have it, my flight to Munich was destined to depart right in the middle of what was forecast to be an epic snowstorm. So, as a precautionary measure, I booked hotel space out at Newark Airport for the night before at one of those dreary but adequate chain motels that look out on highways and barren industrial areas. 

I woke up the next morning to quite an accumulation of snow but sat smugly in my lodgings, acknowledging my success in dealing so cleverly with the weather's vagaries. That is, until noon.

Channel 1 on my room's TV listed all the upcoming flights at EWR, most either canceled or massively delayed. Search as I might, I couldn't find my flight number listed. Strange! As the wheels in my brain whirred, I thought I might as well double-check my flight reservation.

Disaster! My Lufthansa booking was from JFK!

What's a girl to do? I dug myself out of my motel parking space, and, with great trepidation, started what I feared would be an impossible, accident-risking trip across New Jersey, Manhattan, and Queens.

To my surprise, hardly any vehicles were on the road, and I arrived at the Lincoln Tunnel in jig time. Then through the tunnel and across a rather deeply slushy Manhattan, into the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and, gasp, onto the Long Island Expressway. 

Dizzied by my success, and seeing long hours of wait time stretching ahead of me, I determined to detour to my beloved White Castle, where, after slogging through blocks and blocks of slippery roads, I arrived at the blazingly regal vision of my ever-revered gustatory desire.

After consuming this manna from heaven, I mushed back through the less-than-manicured outer-borough byways, arriving at JFK unscathed. Wending and weaving my way to long-term parking, I arrived to find it looking like an arctic outpost.

The lot was covered with a foot of snow, making the idea of traversing any aisle foolhardy. After several go-rounds, I found a small plowed area where, with great relief, I came to a halt.

Then it was off to the terminal on the AirTrain, into the pleasant Lufthansa lounge, some light reading, and, of course, Candy Crush.

Hours after we were scheduled to leave, we finally boarded our plane. But, as luck would have it, we couldn't back out of our gate, because an Alitalia plane had skidded on the tarmac right behind us and had to be towed away. Great! What was the runway going to be like?

At last, five hours after our originally scheduled departure, we zipped down the runway, and, in the shortest time span I can recall, my giant bird leapt skyward. The trip was on!

Pictured here: A Lufthansa Airbus taking off. 

Photo by Adrienne Smith

 
Valerie Wilson Travel Celebrates 35th Year with Travel Industry Leaders from Around the World PDF Print Email

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By Kimberly Wilson Wetty, Co-President, Valerie Wilson Travel, and Mary Clifford


Feb. 15, 2017:  Travel industry leaders--including luxury hoteliers, resort and cruise line operators, airlines, and their teams from across the United States and around the world--gathered in New York City last week to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Valerie Wilson Travel (VWT). The event featured two days of instruction and networking among some of the best luxury travel representatives in the industry. The highlight of the celebration culminated on Wednesday evening with an exclusive black-tie evening gala at Cipriani 42nd Street. 

VWT is one of the largest family-managed full-service travel consulting agencies specializing in high-touch services.  Chairman & CEO Valerie Ann Wilson, who has lived in Bronxville for over 40 years, founded the company in 1981 in New York City. Today, Valerie continues to run the company along with her two daughters, co-presidents and co-owners Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg and Kimberly Wilson Wetty both of whom are also live in Bronxville. With a diverse client base, there are 16 offices nationwide with a network of 315 travel advisors and associate agents. 

"Our future is rooted in the past and our 35th anniversary is the perfect time to reflect upon that," said Valerie Ann Wilson to a crowd of over 600 guests. "We would not be the success we are today without our people. It is our advisors who are curating, facilitating, protecting, and enhancing the travel needs, significant life events, and adventures for our clients. And that is why it was so important to invite them to New York to personally thank them in a momentous way." 

In true VWT fashion, the gala event was celebrated with a global experience and an attention to detail that created a path to "Paint the World Peach" (the VWT iconic brand color) where a "who's who in luxury travel" walked the peach carpet. "I was thrilled yet humbled to have so many friends, clients, and partners celebrate with us," said Valerie Ann Wilson, who personally greeted guests--each with a hug and a kiss. "It is so important for us to honor the relationships that we have. That personal touch truly makes a difference and goes a long way." 

The heart of the celebration focused on gratitude and giving. During the evening, Valerie, Jennifer, and Kimberly presented the Longevity Awards to almost 90 individuals who have been VWT partners and employees for 15 years or more. "Who we are as a company comes down to a simple, yet powerful, concept of people caring for people," said Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg. "We wanted to show our gratitude to those with whom we work in a great way. The Longevity Awards are our way of saying thank-you to those who exemplify our core values of consistency, loyalty, and longevity. They are an inspiration, and without them, we would not have all of the successes that we have today." 

During the gala, VWT announced its continued dedication to making a difference in the world and the lives of others. Over the past five years, VWT has donated $1 million through the combination of cash and in-kind gifts to hundreds of organizations across the globe--and the journey continues. As VWT commemorates its 35th anniversary, in lieu of gifts, it will be donating $35,000 of charitable gifts to 20 hand-selected nonprofit organizations. VWT engaged its leadership and staff to establish two tiers of giving. Tier 1 features five charities (which were selected individually by Valerie, Jennifer, and Kimberly) and two additional charities that support the travel industry. The five charities are American Heart Association, Dream Foundation, Swim Across America, Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy, and Tourism Cares. Tier 2 includes 15 additional charities handpicked by VWT associates and employees that will receive smaller donations. "This is part of the role we play in our global footprint," said Kimberly Wilson Wetty, "and giving back is a part of our DNA."

The evening was filled with memorable stories, live entertainment, and exquisite food and drink. The night concluded with a toast to three-and-a-half decades of integrity, trust, and loyalty and an inspirational speech by Valerie. "Our journey in travel advocacy and travel management continues to evolve," she said. "After 35 years, we are still committed to servicing our clients, and we look forward to further enhancing our preferred partner relationships, expanding our Power of Access®, increasing our presence worldwide, and continuing to make a difference in the world in which we travel."

Pictured here:  Valerie Ann Wilson with family.

Photo by Robert Stanzione

 
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