Some Adventures Are Internal

December 8th, 2011 at 11:21 am (AST) by Jake Richter

It’s been about a year since my last post here, in small part because the Traveling Richters have done very little of the regular traveling we had done in prior year, and in greater part because one of life’s not so great surprises, well, surprised us. In March of 2011 I was diagnosed with Stage IIIB melanoma, and my treatment plan ultimately involved finding temporary housing in Boston, Massachusetts close to Massachusetts General Hospital. We’ve been learning about the benefits and detriments of living in an urban environment as part of that process. Details on the evolution of my cancer and the treatments I’ve been going through, including most recently radiation treatment for brain tumors, can be found in another blog: Jake’s Take. Here’s hoping your year has been less exciting than ours.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Traveling Richters.

 

Attending a Movie Premiere & Party

December 16th, 2010 at 8:07 am (AST) by Jake Richter

I was in New York City last week on business, and my timing was good because a contact had a couple of tickets available to the world premiere of the movie “The Tourist“, and the party afterwards.

Tickets to the The Tourist world premiere and after-party

Tickets to the The Tourist world premiere and after-party

As the rest of the family was still on Bonaire, I invited our family friend Eva to join me at the premiere.

Never having been to a world premiere (shocking, I know), I had no idea what to expect. We arrived at the Ziegfield Theatre at around 5:30pm to pick up the tickets shown above (my name was “on a list”), had a nice dinner at Molyvos, a nearby Greek restaurant I highly recommend, and just before 7pm walked down our private side of the sidewalk, through security, and into the theater. Alas, we did not get to walk the red carpet – obviously they didn’t know us well enough. As we entered the theater the street exploded with cheers, apparently as the real stars arrived.

The theater slowly filled, and around 7:20pm, Angelina Jolie (one of the two major stars of the film) and hubby Brad Pitt showed up and were seated. Johnny Depp (the other major star) stayed out in the lobby for a while since apparently he never watches his own movies. The movie started at 7:30pm, thankfully without the previews movie goers are typically subjected to.

Enjoyable film, but certainly no masterpiece. I had figured out the major plot twist less than half-way through the film, but if you’re looking for entertainment and good performances by Depp and Jolie, it’s worth a look.

After the film those of us with tickets to the after-party were ushered out to buses in the back of the theater, but as we took our time to leave, it ended up being a long wait for the next bus, so we cabbed it to Gotham Hall, the location of the party.

The party was an interesting experience – we saw some faces we recognized, but no one we personally knew. Everyone there seemed to have an agenda, and was trying to determine whether the people around them were “someone” they needed to talk to. One woman I spoke to referred to the event as a “celebrity petting zoo”. I thought that was pretty funny. We did spot Brad, Angelina, Brooke Shields (just visiting), and Danny Strong (whom I recognized from a small part on the last season of Mad Men.

In any event, the party offered a great venue for people watching, food, and an open bar, and was its own form of entertainment.

Photos from our world premiere and party experience, including a photo of Eva with Brad Pitt, can be found here on Flickr.

 

Off to Spain with a Jaunt to France

September 23rd, 2010 at 3:04 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

We had not planned on going anywhere for exploration for the rest of the year, but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity arose for us (the adult half of The Traveling Richters) to dine at the famed elBulli restaurant in Spain and personally meet famed chef Ferran Adrià, so we have wrapped an expedition for all of The Traveling Richters to explore parts of Spain around that event to take advantage of being in Spain for the special occasion at elBulli.

Our Itinerary:

  • Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2010 – Bilbao & San Sebastian, Spain
  • Oct. 1 – 2, 2010 – Toulouse, France. Just passing through southern France
  • Oct. 2 – 4, 2010 – Roses, Costa Brava, Spain
  • Oct. 4 – 5, 2010 – Zaragoza, Spain
  • Oct. 5 – 8, 2010 – Madrid, Alcala de Henares, and Toledo, Spain

In addition to having secured reservations at three of the top restaurants in the world for this trip, we’ll be exploring various museums like the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Prado and Reina Sofia in Madrid. We also have a docent to guide us through the history of Toledo, the life and times of Cervantes (author of “Don Quixote”), and an olive oil, ham, chocolate, and Tapas tasting tour in Madrid. It will be tiring, but we’re up for the challenge!

And we’ll be home just in time for our country to change on 10-10-10. We stay on the same island, of Bonaire, but the country of the Netherlands Antilles will be dissolved on 10-10-10, and Bonaire will become a municipality of The Netherlands. More on that here.

Depending on how busy we are in our travels, we may or may not post travelogues. Jake has started an on-line graduate program in photography, so we expect most of his on-line time on the road will be spent meeting his obligations for his classes.

However, if any of you have recommendations on other places we should not miss in the areas we will be traveling in, please let us know!

 

Sometimes, Adventure is Near Home

September 9th, 2010 at 3:25 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

There are times when you don’t have to get on a plane, or even into a vehicle, to find adventure. Sometimes you can experience it from the comfort of your own home.

For us, that’s the case today as a lightning strike set a large fuel storage tank on fire at the BOPEC facility on the northern part of Bonaire. The incident happened yesterday, and if anything the fire is larger than before. Official news has been difficult to come by. The word on the street is that our island is completely out of fire extinguishing chemicals at this point, but the fire has been contained to one tank and will be allowed to burn itself out. From our house, 9.5 miles as the crow flies from the fire, it is stunningly visible and huge. We hope that reports are right and that there’s no chance of other tanks catching fire from this one.

In case you were curious, BOPEC is the Bonaire Petroleum Corporation, owned by PDVSA, the Venezuelan oil company. The BOPEC facility is used as a storage and transshipment facility for Venezuelan crude. BOPEC is not a local source for fuel, which is a fortunate thing in this situation.

Fire at the BOPEC facility on Bonaire, from my roof, 9.5 miles away

Fire at the BOPEC facility on Bonaire, from my roof, 9.5 miles away

More live eyewitness reports and some amazing night time photos can be found on BonaireTalk.

 

Eaten Alive By Little Fish in Hong Kong

September 6th, 2010 at 2:22 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Yes. It’s true. We (our feet, actually) were eaten alive by hundreds of voracious little fish.

Fortunately the effects were temporary.

Fish nibbling on my foot, presumably removing only dead skin

Fish nibbling on my foot, presumably removing only dead skin

One of our last days in Hong Kong in July was spent taking a trip up to Victoria Peak – the highest point of Hong Kong island.

The Peak Galleria Shopping Centre, atop Victoria Peak on Hong Kong island

The Peak Galleria Shopping Centre, atop Victoria Peak on Hong Kong island

Located at the top of the Peak is the Peak Galleria Shopping Centre (pictured above), where we found ourselves confronted and intrigued by the sign below.

Advertisement we saw in the mall for the Wonderfish Spa

Advertisement we saw in the mall for the Wonderfish Spa

We made our way to the advertised Wonderfish! Spa tucked away on an upper floor of the Peak Galleria mall, and committed to the 20-minute treatment (which cost about US$20 per person).

We put our belongings in a basket which was stashed away in cubby holes in full sight, then had our feet washed, and then were seated on the edge of large square tiled “tub”, filled with about 18 inches of water and hundreds of small (2-3 inches long) fish. We were directed to slowly put our feet in the water.

As soon as our feet touched water, the small fish swarmed all over them, creating an odd tickling/scratching sensation that at first was a bit discomforting, but soon became quite entertaining – both from a sensation of touch as well as visually.

Here’s the video of our experience:

I had a small waterproof camera with me, which helped in capturing some of the above clips, in case you wonder.

The fish are related to carp, and legend has it that a farmer in Turkey discovered the foot fetish properties of these fish by accident some thousand(s) of years ago.

They are apparently strongly attracted to dead skin, and that’s what they focus on as they munch their way over your feet, although I can’t help but wonder what happens after they have consumed all the dead skin there is to be had.

We found 20 minutes to be just about long enough. Our feet felt refreshed and tingly after the treatment. And we had a good time with the whole experience.

However, I found that my feet, ankles, and lower calf, where the fish had dined, were still extra sensitive to excessive heat for several days afterwards. Linda did not have a similar issue.

It was a really entertaining and fascinating experience, but not one that either Linda or I have any need to experience again anytime soon. Once was probably sufficient.

The Wonderfish! Spa web site has ample details on the process.

 

The Traveling Richters on CNN.com

September 1st, 2010 at 9:17 am (AST) by Jake Richter

When we looked at the main page of CNN.com’s travel section this morning we were pleasantly surprised to find… Us! (Linda and myself, that is.)

CNN.com Travel Page with The Traveling Richters (September 1, 2010)

CNN.com Travel Page with The Traveling Richters (Sept. 1, 2010)

The photo on the CNN.com Travel home page links to an article about First Class dining experiences.

A reporter from CNN.com contacted us last week after finding our blog post about first class travel to Hong Kong, and interviewed me by phone for today’s CNN.com story.

The article by Ms. Pawlowski discusses how different an experience it is to dine in international first class cabins compared to lower cost sections of planes, and the effort that airlines make to ensure that their first class passengers have great dining options. Well worth a read as an incentive to use those frequent flier miles (or cash) collecting dust in your account.

In any case, it’s nice to see the final story on-line so soon, and we think it’s a great way to start September.