Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Kauai’

LOOT! The extreme smörgåsbord brought to me by my father on his current visit. An odd variety of smoked salmon, gourmet pancake & scone mixes, and a "limited edition" Christmas pudding from Harrod's, made with vintage Port and contained in a velvet box - it cost more than many of my monthly bills

Today, the last day of 2011, is a Saturday.  What a year.  I’ve not blogged in a while, as has been the recent trend, not that I’ve not been collecting material.  So, it’s a great time to share a review of recent, and not so recent events, as some of them are quite awesome.  As for the year to come?  Well… that’s for another post, but I suspect I’ll be reading more classic literature, traveling more, and studying for a wine certification…I hope.  Enjoy the photos!

March - June: Alkalai Wine Bar, I lived in Bourgogne-wine-land every day

WINE: I transformed my career, somehow, with luck, with some concrete planning, with hard work. I went from an online marketing/editing/PR drifter and hopeless fiction writer, who worked part-time doing wine tastings, to a wine bar sommelier and cook, to an invitee representing the winery in a French exhibition, to a full-fledged winery employee.  I’m proud of myself for going for something I wanted and succeeding.  You never know what was entirely based on chance, but I know that whatever had happened, I would be working full-time in wine at this moment, whether at the winery or a restaurant or a hotel.  I learned how to leave a job I hated, work hard, ask for help (which was not easy), and ask for what I wanted (which may have been even harder).  I love my new job.

Christmas Day: Katzrin, Israel. Visit to the winery. I'm pouring our Yarden Heights Wine 2009, a Gewurtztraminer ice-wine-style dessert wine. Yummy.

Christmas: Yonatan vineyard, Golan Heights. Organic Cabernet Sauv.

TRAVEL: Hmm… where did I go…  Bordeaux, Paris, Giverny (in Normandie), Chicago, Kauai… I changed planes in Amsterdam, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles – though those aren’t supposed to count… and that’s it.  Fantastic adventures…but not as far and wide a selection of places as in years past.  I was very privileged in these, however.  They really were incredible trips.  Wine, food, laughter, hard work, hard play, art, beautiful weather – always – and especially the interesting people that I traveled with and met along the way. (on an interesting side note – after having been featured on an American Travel Channel television show, I was recognized all over the world, by random people, some of who plotzed and took photos with me and my sister).

June: the legendary Shakespeare & Co bookshop, Paris. Incredible book reading, and I met and spoke with author Nathan Englander, who graciously signed my book, in Hebrew and English. Extraordinary last day in Paris

April & June, Tel Aviv & Bordeaux: OYSTERS! Huitres!

FOOD: I cooked less this year, but ate just as heartily.  Perhaps too heartily.  The most typical New Year’s resolution may be in order for me this year.  From scrummy wine bar fare like prosciutto & Parmesan, fatty French cheese platters, and freshly steamed Thai dumplings; to oysters, foie gras, chestnut creme crepes,  Armagnac ice cream, crisp lemon squid, a simple Chateaubriand steak I’ll remember for a long time, more hearty soups than I can remember, and much much more.

March: squashing tomatoes with my bare hands for shakshuka at the wine bar

KAYAKING: an odd adventure sport I picked up and stuck with.  I suppose I needed some more exotic expensive exercise-induced adrenaline in my life.  Begun as a crazy lark in Hawaii (the Na Pali coast is rated the #2 adventure to take part in by National Geographic), I was thrilled and proud I survived the craziness, I decided to roll with the momentum and immediately join a kayak club in Tel Aviv.  It’s been interesting, and terribly challenging.  It has added another dimension to this ever-changing life.  It has also added  painful dark bruises to my legs and arms every week, and taken a large chunk out of my paycheck for water-tight clothing.  Oh well.  Life.  Better to go for it than to sit on the sidelines.

August: Kauai, Hawaii - kayaking the Na Pali coast

December: Rosh HaNikra, Israel - border of Lebanon - inside the deep caves

December: my kayak club with the Israeli navy

AND let’s end the year with some videos!  Going along with the title of this post, Tom Lehrer wrote some excellent songs that still ring true today.  In honor of all of the revolutions this year, in Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Tunisia, and Libya. In remembering all of the precarious situations that remain, Iran, North Korea, the Euro-zone crisis, the upcoming American elections, the environment going to hell, flu, honeybees dying out, and Israel practically becoming a misogynist theocracy, and of course the future of my physical, mental, and especially social fitness.  Let us hope, but more importantly, let us work hard for a better year and a safer, happier world.  And here’s some laughs and satire for us all.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Kauai’s NaPali Coast – no roads or inhabitants on the entire western third of the island – the rugged breathtaking region can only be viewed in its entirety from the ocean

I kayaked the entire Na Pali Coast – 18 miles of rough open ocean with no “bail out” spots.  After rafting the Colorado river, National Geographic ranked kayaking the NaPali the #2 adventure in America.  And I did it.  And I survived, rather, I thrived, with flying colors.

Now – I am not an adrenaline junkie.  I hate “adventure sports” for their own sake.  You will never find me attached to a bungee or a parachute.  Hiking is cool, even difficult hiking, but I won’t ever veer from the path.  So why oh why did I sign up for what seemed like a suicide mission?  I’m not quite sure.  It’s not like anyone helped me out psychologically there — everyone I spoke to said it was really difficult, an event that would push you to the limit, and one woman even compared it to childbirth.  So why, again, would I do this?

I kayaked from the end of the north road to the end of the south road. Yes, that's about a third of the entire island.

Stress.  Life.  Powerlessness.  Who knows.  The feeling that I was not actually relaxing and having a vacation (see previous post), combined with somehow wanting to prove something to myself – prove…what?  Prove…I don’t know…that I’m not a weakling, that I can deal with life, control my body, tackle seemingly huge and scary tasks…all of that.  And kayaking in the ocean takes all of that.  You cannot think or worry or stress out about anything else because you have to be right there and only there.  In fact, if your mind wanders, you can flip your kayak or crash into cliffs or both.

Of course, being on one of the most beautiful, unique islands in the world helps — nobody can see this beautiful coastline in its entirety — except on a kayak.  Even a motorboat isn’t enough – they cannot enter the caves and nooks and crannies or land on the tiny beaches that are only accessible to small small boats like kayaks.

Miloli‘i Beach - accessible only by water - a favorite spot for monk seals, which I saw from a distance

I wish I could report that I was scared.  Before or after.  Or during.  But I wasn’t.  I think beforehand I had resigned myself to the “fate” of it all — it would be hard or easy or somewhere in between…I would survive fine or I wouldn’t and it would be a disaster.  Whatever, it would be what it would be and there was no point in worrying about it.  What I didn’t expect was that it would be as fun and smooth and effortless as it was.  Well, not effortless – the paddling was brutal – but I didn’t tire out in the first hour like I thought I would.  In fact, I was among the best.  I was paired with another single woman (what they were thinking, I don’t know – the guide could have taken one of us, and there was a single guy, too — even out the men/women ratio — but no).  We had the most solid consistent rhythmic stroke of anyone.  We NEVER flipped over.  One friendly couple, who wasn’t even fighting, flipped over 7 times!  We almost always led the pack – next to the lead guide.  Crazy.  Every other kayak had a strong man in it, strong men with decent upper body strength — I was shocked myself at how good we were doing — I had expected to be the trailing kayak who needed help flipping over every few minutes.

In any case – I have never felt my body so entirely.  It was like a full day’s meditation.  18 miles is no small feat – whether you’re walking or running or swimming or whatever.  My arms did a lot of that work.  The ocean, the cliffs, the caves, the sky, all so beautiful.  We also saw a group of small dolphins close up (I believe they were called bottle dolphins).    And talk about beating the stress out of yourself physically — there is nothing like such an intense challenge to shove all of the “everyday life” out of you.  Perspective.  I’ll be remembering this for a long, long time.

All in all – if you’re even on Kauai and you’re not a 90 pound weakling, I would highly recommend kayaking the coast.  You can only do this in the summer, though, and I wouldn’t recommend it to people with bad motion sickness issues (I usually do, but I took some new pills the night before and morning of, and had no trouble – the ginger I took with me also helped).  That said, this isn’t an airplane or a sheer drop into a valley.  People have been traveling the world in small vessels since prehistoric times.  It’s how we got to where we got.  Ancient Hawaiians lived on these remote cliffs and valleys.  It’s only natural we see these places in the way they would have.

 

The forbidden island Niʻihau seen in the distance

The kayak company I chose was Kayak Kauai — nicer more professional folks I’ve not met in ages.

The Na Pali National Park website — for permits on camping and hiking, as well as kayaking info.

Read Full Post »

 

So much to tell, so little time!

I am flying to the USofA today!  But I will be spending less than 35 hours of it (cumulatively) on the contiguous 48.  That’s right.  My family and I are off to the gorgeous lush relaxing island of Kauai, the northernmost (and slightly less touristic) in Hawaii.  It’s hard to believe.  I’ve been working 18 hour days for a week now preparing for leaving, and now I’m leaving in about 10 hours, and I’m still working, and I haven’t started packing or cleaning or anything.  I’m going to end up on a beach, completely strung out after 2 days of endless flights, and not know how I friggin got there.  Oh well.  C’est la vie.  And I must say, I’m liking my vie very very much these days.  Now if I could only catch some more zzz’s and do better catching up on work and studies.  But I’m lucky.  Quite.

Some things to report:

The Golan Heights Winery stand being built at the Jerusalem Wine Fest

Last 2 days of the Jerusalem Wine Festival!  It’s at the Israel Museum tonight (17/8) and tomorrow (18/8) from 7pm-midnight.  You pay about 70 nis at the door, get a lovely Riedel glass (that you get to take home with you if you haven’t broken it yet), and drink endlessly from your choice of 30+ Israeli wineries.  With Jacob’s fresh cheeses and locally made gourmet chocolate also at hand, it’s a fun time.  I managed our stand the last two days, and all I have to say is GAMLA NEBBIOLO.  If you’re reading my blog, which hardly anyone does, but if you do, and you go, ASK FOR THE NEBBIOLO at the Golan Heights stand.  It’s under the counter.  And it’s incredible.

The Jewish High Holy Days are coming up.  If you like wine at all (and I’m assuming you do if you’re reading this), it’s the best time of year to taste almost every wine you’ve been curious about.  Pesach and Rosh Hashana are the biggest wine sales events – so the week before you’ll find free tastings at almost every wine store and supermarket in the country.  So go!  Explore!  Drink!  This is everyone’s chance to expand their horizons without having to leave their own neighborhoods.

Read Full Post »