Santa Monica and Santa Barbara Farmers Market — feasts for the senses

By Sandra Hutchinson

It’s a long winter here in northern New York State. Now that it’s warming up, we look forward to our local outdoors farmers markets that will spring to life in May.

We were lucky to get an early taste of some outstanding California farmers markets during a visit to Los Angeles (including Santa Monica) and Santa Barbara in March. No visit to southern California is complete, in my opinion, without a visit to one of the region’s fantastic farmers markets. (N.B. Per the AP Stylebook, I’m not using an apostrophe in “farmers markets” because it’s a descriptive, not possessive, phrase.)

I’m sharing some of my photos from two of those markets — one, in Santa Monica (said to be the largest farmers market in the state), and the other, in Santa Barbara.

 

Quintessential southern California— blue sky, palm trees and luscious produce available at the many farmers markets. Here, Santa Monica’s Wednesday downtown market.

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On to Rajasthan — Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodphur and Jaisalmer

By Sandra Hutchinson

This is the fourth installment on my blog about the trip I took to northern India in January, 2017. Earlier posts focused on Delhi and visiting Agra (site of the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort). I also posted about the new United Airlines Polaris class for long-haul flights. Please see the end of this post for information on the heritage tourism agency we used to book our driver and hotels.

The northern Indian state of Rajasthan — literally, meaning “land of kings” — is the country’s largest state by area. The region is a popular tourist destination, known for its palaces and forts, wildlife preserves and religious sites. On its western border, the Thar desert borders Pakistan.

This blog post will just touch on some of the highlights of our trip. Rajasthan is large, complex and diverse. We spent a week in the region, visiting four major cities, as well as driving through some remote, rural areas.

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On to Agra: the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and Chand Baori stepwell

By Sandra Hutchinson

This is my third blog post on the trip my husband and I took in January, 2017 to northern India.

The Taj Mahal — termed one of the “wonders of the world,” and probably India’s most famous structure, is actually a marble mausoleum that was constructed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan after the death of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Completed around 1653, it is perhaps the best example anywhere of Mughal architecture. After this “monument to love” was constructed, one of the emperor’s sons murdered his three elder brothers and overthrew his father to acquire the throne. Shah Jahan was imprisoned at Agra Fort, with a view of his beloved wife’s tomb, until he died. He is buried alongside his wife in the Taj Mahal.

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A Week in Delhi, India

By Sandra Hutchinson

This blog post is my second about the trip to northern India that my husband and I took in January, 2017. My first post covered our nonstop round trip flights between Newark, NJ and Delhi on United Airline’s new Polaris class. (See my personalized tips at the bottom of this post for some quick Delhi travel ideas.)

Delhi, a region encompassing New Delhi, the capital city of India, is teeming, crowded and polluted. One of the most densely populated metropolitan areas in the world, figures vary on how many people live there. Over 25 million people are believed to live within the region, with many thousands of people entering Delhi every day from outlying regions and other parts of the world.

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Fun at Sagamore’s Glacier Ice Bar on Lake George

By Sandra Hutchinson

Having heard a lot of buzz about the “Glacier Ice Bar” and all the associated wintertime activities at the Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing on Lake George, a few of my best friends from childhood joined me in an overnight at the iconic hotel in January, during one of the two “Ice Bar” weekends. Turns out, there’s a whole lot more going on than just chilling out with a cocktail while standing around some blocks of ice.

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Front view of Sagamore Hotel, on a wintry January morning

Although the Sagamore’s foray into the “ice bar” only began several years ago, it has turned into a phenomenon, drawing huge crowds to the hotel on two weekends in January, a time when the hotel has in the past been closed. A number of other bars and restaurants in the region have followed suit, creating their own happening spots and events with the idea that people will stand outside in the cold to drink cocktails and beer if the mood and music is good, the fires are burning, and your friends show up. Continue reading