I write Cruise Port Excursions

Outside the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain – photo by author

Among many other hats, I wear that of a freelance writer and editor. One of my clients sends me 300-400 cruise Port Excursions a year to write/rewrite. You know, you’re taking a cruise and at each stop there are tours you can take. I’m hired to make the descriptions of those tours desirable – punch them up, so to speak – and make needed corrections. Here’s an example I just finished on a port I’d visited several times and knew intimately – Bilbao, Spain.

First – this is what they sent me:

Bilbao, the industrial and financial capital of the Basque Country, is situated between two ranges of hills and on both sides of the River Nervion. The iron ore mines near the city were discovered by the Romans, who paved the way for the numerous foundries later built on both banks of the river. Today, the city is undergoing a spectacular transformation: factories and port installations are being renovated into spectacular urban projects such as the ultra-modern Guggenheim Museum.

On your exclusive shore event today enjoy a sampling of historic buildings and the opportunity to explore the city’s main attraction, the Guggenheim Museum on this half-day excursion of Bilbao which also includes a chance to discover the famous local gastronomy.

Depart the pier for the scenic drive through the outskirts of Bilbao and continue down the city’s main thoroughfare, the Gran Via, which reflects Bilbao’s 19th century mining and industrial prosperity.

Enjoy a guided visit around the outside of the hugely popular Guggenheim Museum which opened to international acclaim in October 1997.  The building is the work of architect Frank O. Gehry and is an architectural masterpiece in its own right.  Covered with a dazzling 30,000 sheets of titanium, this monumental masterpiece became Bilbao’s main attraction overnight. The great titanium, stone and glass sculpture houses nineteen galleries of modern and contemporary art collections supplemented by works from the Solomon R. Guggenheim. Museum of New York.

Following your outside explanation enter the museum to visit the exhibitions. The enormous atrium, more than 150 feet high, is connected to the nineteen galleries by a system of suspended metal walkways and glass elevators. After your guided tour, some free time is provided to explore the museum at your leisure.

Continue to Bilbao’s Old Quarter with its famous ‘Seven Streets’, interesting architecture and medieval heart. The heart of this industrial, port city is the Old Quarter, where the narrow streets are lined with Renaissance, Baroque and Modernist buildings.  Here you can discover the Basque Country’s gastronomy. In the Seven Street’s area pause at one of the various Tapas Bars and sample some of the popular local specialities – the pintxos – like “finger food“, a type of “tapas”, served on a slice of bread, usually cold, which makes them much like canapés, and are known as the “miniature“ cuisine. Following your refreshments rejoin your coach for the return transfer to the ship.

Notes: Basque is not a “Country”, “today” is not 20 years ago, and Bilbao has no “Tapas Bars.” Plus, the repetitive writing had to be cleaned, converted to American spelling and reduced from 395 words to 300-350

This is what I returned:

Bilbao, once the industrial and financial capital of the Basque region of Spain, is now a culinary and cultural destination featuring the ultra-modern Guggenheim Museum, arguably the most visited museum in the world. Bilbao is in a “bowl” on a bend of the River Nervion between two ranges of hills. With iron ore mines famous since Roman times, Bilbao grew into a ship-building capital and busy industrial port. Today, the port is moved downstream and the cleaned up river is a boating and recreational asset to the city.

Your (company name here) begins with a scenic drive through the outskirts of Bilbao upriver to the city’s main thoroughfare, the Gran Via, which reflects Bilbao’s 19th century mining and industrial prosperity.

Your first stop, the Guggenheim Museum, which opened to international acclaim in October 1997, begins with a tour of the magnificent exterior.  Architect Frank O. Gehry created this architectural masterpiece of stone and glass covered with 30,000 dazzling sheets of undulating titanium. It is surrounded by fountains and reflecting pools dominated by Louise Bourgeois’ gigantic “Spider” sculpture guarding the beautiful Nervion riverside walk. Streetside, the massive topiary by Jeff Koons called “Puppy” patiently sits by the entrance.

Inside, the enormous atrium, more than 150 feet high, is connected to the nineteen galleries by a system of glass elevators and suspended metal walkways, one of which offers the best view of Richard Serra’s sculpture collection called “The Matter of Time” – massive steel ellipses housed in a room built for them. After your guided tour, some free time is provided to explore the museum at your leisure.

Your next stop is the Old Quarter, Bilbao’s medieval heart located further around the bend in the river. The pedestrian-only narrow streets are lined with Renaissance, Baroque and Modernist buildings. Here you’ll visit one of the many small bars for the Basque version of tapas called “pintxos” and a local beverage. Following your refreshments, you’ll rejoin your coach for the scenic return to your ship.

There – now you know what I do. What do you think? Which version do you like better? Which would make you buy the tour?  Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. It will help me with my work.

Posted in Cruise, Culinary, destinations, food, free lance writer, journalism, Spain, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heather Ridge Farm Harvest Fair Oct 22

How would you like to help raise funds for the Regional Food Bank of the Northeastern New York which supports and supplies all the food pantries of the region while enjoying a Catskill Mountain Harvest Fair? What a crazy question! Everyone wants to enjoy a pleasant afternoon of good family fun while helping to feed hungry members of our community.  Join your friends and neighbors this Saturday (Oct 22) at Heather Ridge Farm in Preston Hollow, NY, for a fun-filled day of good food and family activities.

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Farmer John Harrison will show you how to press your own apples

Come celebrate the season’s bounty with local farmers, artisans, musicians, craftspeople, and more, from 11am-3pm.  Renowned children’s book author/illustrator Hudson Talbott will be signing copies of his award winning books throughout the day. Meet Wes Laraway and The Birds of Prey of the New York Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, as featured on National Geographic TV, to learn more about everything owls, hawks, and falcons. There will be sample tastings of 1857 Spirits, the new potato vodka from Barbers Farm Distillery.

Bring your own apples and Farmer John Harrison will show you how to press them on the farm’s cider press. Enjoy live music by Hilary Schrauf and Daniel Pearse. Peruse local vendors including I.U. Tripp Antiques, Cluckin’ A Critter Farm, Smyth-Cid Pottery, Cotton Hill Creamery, and The Cheese and Dairy Society of NYS. Enjoy fresh, farm made treats like apple cider doughnuts and maple bacon popcorn.

Visit the Root Beer Social tent for glasses of Patent Root Beer and root beer floats with farm-made ice cream. All proceeds from the sale of the root beer drinks will be donated to the Food Bank.

Patent Root Beer is created by Chef Rob Handel of the Bees Knees Café, on the farm, and consists of 19 natural ingredients to make an outstanding soda.  It is the new house drink of the Bees Knees Café. Admission is free for everyone.  In addition to the Root Beer Social tent with drinks and food, The Bees Knees Café will also open and be serving food from 11am-3pm.

For more information about the Harvest Fair at Heather Ridge Farm visit their website at www.heather-ridge-farm.com or call 518-239-6234.  The Harvest Fair will be from 11am-3pm, on the farm at 989 Broome Center Road, Preston Hollow.

Posted in Entertainment, Farm to Table, Festivals and Fairs, food, Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains, music, Travel, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Summer Hiking in Minnewaska State Park Preserve

The Shawangunk Ridge runs roughly north and south from Stone Ridge to Ellenville on the west side of the Hudson River. It is most dramatically viewed from New Paltz, looking to the west at the tall rock cliffs rising up from the Wallkill Valley flood plain.  The area is an international destination for people seeking luxury accommodations, world class rock climbing, and the natural, pristine environment the thousands of ridge-top acres provide.

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photo by Sam Lewit

Originally where Esopus Mill Stones were quarried, and where some of the best huckleberries were found, the Shawangunk Ridge was largely owned by the twin Smiley brothers, Albert and Alfred, who had the Mohonk Mountain House at the north end of the ridge on Lake Mohonk. In 1878 Alfred left Mohonk  to develop a similar resort hotel on Lake Minnewaska in the middle of the ridge.

The Mohonk Resort continues today as a luxurious National Historic Register Hotel & Spa surrounded by 1000s of acres of nature preserve. Alfred’s holdings were the kernel of what eventually became the more than 21,000 acre Minnewaska State Park Preserve which opened in 1993. It has 3 lakes, miles of gravel carriage trails, hiking trails, and extensive day-use facilities. There is no overnight camping.

The southern portion of the ridge was the Ellenville watershed, where the Town’s reservoir is still located. Now called Sam’s Point Preserve, it has the Ice Caves and extensive dwarf evergreen forests. A network of well-maintained carriage roads and trails connect all the properties, but they are most accessible to the public off Route 44-55 at Minnewaska State Park Preserve.

For the most enjoyable walk along the 35 miles of carriage roads, or hike along the 25 miles of trails, it is best to park in the Awosting Parking lot just west of the main entrance. There is a fee for parking. Maps and trail descriptions are available online and for purchase  at the booth. (Parking fees and swimming hours are adjusted daily and seasonally.) Remember to pack a picnic lunch, plenty of water and your bathing suit and you’ll be ready to explore miles of groomed trails. Minnewaska State Park Preserve is a “carry in – carry out” property with no camping or fires allowed, and no water, food or garbage pickup available.

Provisions for bicyclists, hikers, strollers, rock climbers and even horseback riders allow access and recreation for all manner of motor-less locomotion throughout the park, with some trails all-inclusive and others restricted to the peripatetic enjoyments. Swimming areas at both Minnewaska (follow link to see warnings)  and Awosting Lakes, replete with changing booths, composting toilets and life guards, make walks on even the hottest days bearable. Clearly marked trails, maps at intersections with handy “you are here” indicators and frequent places to enjoy the panoramic vistas over the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains  make for a pleasurable day of hiking the level and gently-sloped gravel lanes.

Located a mere 90 minute drive from New York City, the Minnewaska State Park Preserve entrance is on top of the ridge, on the south side of Route 44/55, about ten miles west of New Paltz, NY, exit 18 on the New York State Thruway.

Posted in free lance writer, Hiking, historic preservation, Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fields of Interest

Even though Oxford University Press referred to me as “a most notable food expert” and I’m commonly referred to as a “culinary travel writer”,  my recent articles are all over the place – from subject matter to placement. In the last month alone I have two food articles and two general travel articles published on the #30 top travel website in the world:

http://outoftownblog.com/the-culture-of-food-in-san-sebastian-spain/ http://outoftownblog.com/continuing-the-culture-of-food-in-san-sebastian-spain/ http://outoftownblog.com/which-side-of-niagara-falls-should-you-visit/ http://outoftownblog.com/welcome-to-san-sebastian-spain/

a ship building/nautical history article on travelingboy.com:  http://www.travelingboy.com/travel-frisbie.html

a cruise destination article and a wine article below on this blog, a fashion article coming out (that’s funny!) on EDGE, the largest lgbt network in the world, a horticulture article ready to place and a forestry/hiking article coming out in Wild Northeast Magazine’s fall edition.

In the past I’ve written about architecture, urban planning, adventure travel, politics, regional history, military history and historic preservation.That ladies and gentlemen is diversity! Is it any wonder that I bristle when an editor tries to categorize me? (Are you listening New York Journal of Books?)

Words to live by: “Don’t limit yourself and don’t let anyone limit you.”

Posted in Adventure/Sports, book review, Canada, Cruise, Culinary, destinations, diversity, food, free lance writer, gay, historic preservation, Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains, journalism, LGBT, military, New York History Books, Railroads, Spain, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized, wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The wine of summer – Txakoli

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When it comes to wine, Spain offers the best value, at least according to sommelier Kelly Coughlin, GM and Beverage Director at Smyth and The Loyalist, two new Chicago eateries, in a June interview on Eater. She said “Whether you’re looking for a white, red, or sparkling wine, Spain pretty much covers it when it comes to value.”

When asked to name varieties, she began with “Since summer is right around the corner, I initially think of Txakoli from Spain’s northeastern Basque Country. Being slightly effervescent, and offered in white, rosé and red, it is easy, light, and refreshing, with a price to match.” Having just returned from San Sebastian in the Basque region of Spain, I can only agree with her.

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I had my first taste of Txakoli (in Basque, “tx” is pronounced “ch”) and immediately thought of Albarino, a similar wine from the neighboring region of Galicia. Txakoli is a verdejo, or green wine, meaning not its color, but that it is new and meant to be drunk fresh, not aged for years in a cellar. Their newest wine is Olatu, which means “ocean wave” in Basque and is produced right on the shore in Getaria, just a short and quite lovely drive from San Sebastian. It’s distinctive blue bottle will be highly visible on store shelves soon.

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Iban Unzeuta, in charge of publicity for Akarregi Txiki, gave me a tour of the vineyard and the stainless steel fermenting tanks as he talked about the plans for the new winery. Most interesting to me was that the vines were grown horizontally, overhead, not vertically.  I’d seen them grown like that in Madeira (Portugal) so that seasonal crops could be raised under the vines after the leaves dropped in the fall. Iban explained that here it was to allow for better air circulation because of the dampness on the shore, and because it made the grapes easier to harvest. Either way, it was very nice to walk beneath the shading vines to a table set with live oysters and chilled bottles of wine.

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I was with a group of culture mavens exploring the many cultural offerings of San Sebastian, the European Capital of Culture for 2016. Since San Sebastian has more Michelin Stars per square foot than any other city in Europe, it has also become quite a foodie destination, with culinary travel high on its cultural list. Our host explained, “We bring top chefs over from San Sebastian to prepare meals that feature our wine for groups large and small, and for everything from business meetings to weddings.  It is a great use for our facilities and a perfect introduction to our wines.”

The alfresco tasting, paired beautifully with oysters, was a refreshing introduction to a wine I drank almost exclusively during my visit.

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After the “picnic” in the vineyard, we went inside where Ismael Iglesias, the chef of KATA.4 restaurant was serving us that day. He’d created a menu of seasonal specialties grown within just a few miles of the winery that included white asparagus, precious green peas and strawberries, but the first-of-the-season tuna he brought to the table was the best I’ve ever tasted.  Simply seared on both sides and served red in the middle, it needed nothing more to shine. As Chef Ismael explained: “using the freshest local ingredients means you can taste the purity of the food without embellishment.” The tuna went perfectly with the slightly salty taste of the Txakoli produced here on the hillside above the crashing ocean waves.

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When next in Getaria you’ll surely taste the terroir of the txakoli and appreciate how well it goes with light summer fare. Until then, take the advice of leading somms as well as my own – Txakoli is the wine of summer, and this easy drinking white from Akarregi Txiki will compliment any meal.

For more information on this and other attractions of Donostia/San Sebastian during the European Capital of Culture year, please visit this San Sebastian Tourism website.

Posted in Culinary, food, Spain, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized, wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Studio Art Tours in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains

saugertiesartisttourSaugerties and Shandaken, the two largest townships in Ulster County, also have the two most active artist’s communities. I know, you’d think it would be Woodstock, but these two have the most active and innovative studio tours. Shandaken’s is July 15-17 and Saugerties’ is August 12-14, giving us twice the opportunity to view the studios and art of some of the best known and most accessible artists in the region.

Shandaken, ever the more imaginative, bills theirs as a Studio Tour & Whole Arts Catalog and includes striking web site visuals reminiscent of the Whole Earth Catalog. It includes a listing of all the art venues (Festival of the Voice, Belleayre Mountain Festival, Catskill Interpretative Center, etc.) as well as a map to all the artist’s studios.

Shandaken Studio Tour & Whole Arts Catalog Calendar for Friday, July 15 – 7-9 p.m. “Short Tall Tales” Storytelling hosted by MC Sparrow @ The Arts Upstairs.

Saturday, July 16: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Open studios followed by a 6-9PM artist reception and concert by “Jude & Jon” at The Arts Upstairs, starring Jude Roberts, Jon Coghill and Priscilla Bright.

Sunday,  July 17: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Open studios.

Saugerties, on the other hand, is more focused on art in its Studio Tour presentation. First there is a gallery-style show at the Kiersted House Barn where members of the Saugerties Artists Studio Tour together with the Saugerties Historical Society will present the work of more than 36 artists at The Dutch Barn Art & Heritage Gallery on July 15 through July 30. (Behind the Kiersted House on Main Street.) Think of it as a preview to the Studio Tours. An artists’ reception will be held on Friday, July 15, from 5-7 p.m. and the exhibit will be open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Then, August 12 is the kick-off reception at 5 p.m. in the earthwork Opus 40, a major work of art in its own right.

Saturday, August 13 & Sunday August 14 feature studio tours from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.

There you have it, a month-long celebration of the arts and artists of Saugerties and Shandaken! Maps are available online to download.

#Saugerties, #Artists, #Shandaken, #StudioTours

Posted in historic preservation, Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.)

 

I’m going to Charlottetown, P.E.I. (Canada) in August, but I’m not going by cruise ship. I’m flying in on Air Canada Express-Jazz to taste the famous seafood and explore the island for four days. And even that is not enough! Many folks just cruise in and out by ship. This is a suggested itinerary for a too brief visit:

When your cruise ship docks here you have a lot to see in a little time. This is a description of a port excursion available through your travel agent, for approximately $150 per person, that offers a scenic overview of the island, plus two lighthouses, a wine tasting, mill tour, lunch and sightseeing in the Historic District that can be done in 4 hrs leaving plenty of time for exploring the Historic District on your own.

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Charlottetown is the capital and largest city of Prince Edward Island, Canada. It is a modern thriving port city with one of Canada’s only two downtown historic districts, which dates back to the 1770s. Prince Edward Island is the seafood center of the Canadian Maritimes whose PEI brand is recognized throughout the world for its quality and freshness.

You’ll begin aboard an air-conditioned motor coach for a scenic drive through beautiful agricultural areas outside of Charlottetown to Point Prim to view the unique Point Prim lighthouse, the oldest on Prince Edward Island.  On the way you’ll see where cranberries are grown and harvested.

Next you’ll visit the second lighthouse on this tour – the Wood Islands Lighthouse.  Here you’re able to climb the lighthouse for a panoramic view. You’ll also see several interior rooms, each dedicated to a theme such as rum-running, lighthouses of Prince Edward Island, the ferry service between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island through the years, the Burning Ghost Ship, and other items for a good overview of the regional and nautical history of the area.

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From lighthouses you’ll move on to Rossignol Winery where you can enjoy tasting Prince Edward Island wines and cheeses, before going to Belfast Mini-Mills, where you will be taken on a guided tour with demonstrations of the machines and processes of transforming fibers into yarns.

Then, leaving the agricultural area behind, you’ll return to Charlottetown for a sightseeing drive around Victoria Park overlooking the harbor, view Fanningbank, the official residence of the Lieutenant-Governor, and City Hall.

You’ll also drive up historic Great George Street, one of only two National Historic Districts in Canada, viewing Saint Dunstan’s Basilica and Province House along the way, before stopping at a local restaurant for a light lunch of local specialties.

After partaking of the culinary specialties the region is famous for, your tour is over. If time allows, you can explore Charlottetown’s charming Historic District, or you can return to the cruise terminal.

Certainly time better spent than wandering aimlessly around the harbor for the afternoon, but whatever you do, enjoy the food & scenery! #PrinceEdwardIsland #PEI # Charlottetown, #Canada #cruiseexcursions #AirCanadaExpress-Jazz

 

Posted in Air Lines, Canada, Cruise, Culinary, destinations, food, historic preservation, Travel, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SAVE THE RAILS

To the elected officials of Ulster County

My name is Richard Frisbie. I’m a voting resident and business owner in Ulster County. I greatly resent the County’s attempt to remove an important historical element of our cultural heritage – the rails that follow the Rt 28 corridor west from Kingston to Belleayre and beyond.

Instead, I wish the legislature would instruct the executive to release the funds to repair the rails and endorse train traffic for tourism, commuting and freight – in effect providing options to insure the future economic growth of Ulster County.

We have a generation of millennials, now the largest block of our population, who eschew car ownership. Many don’t even have a driver’s license. Yet we are committing them to restricted access to vast recreational areas of Ulster County and the Catskills by eliminating the rails.   A dangerous and congested Rt 28, an access destined to become even more so as development along the corridor continues to grow, will remain the only option unless you insist the rails remain.

To do less is short-sighted and against the wishes of a majority of Ulster residents.

The Catskill Mountain Railroad is one of the top tourism draws in Ulster County. A rail trail along the tracks is feasible and would only increase tourism. Please, don’t replace one with the other, move to make both part of our long term economic goals. Ulster County will be better for it.

Thank you for your attention

 

Richard Frisbie

15 Jane Street

Saugerties NY 12477

Posted in environment, historic preservation, Railroads, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Saugerties Pro Musica – Dr. Herman Ash Memorial Music Scholarship

Each year Saugerties Pro Musica awards a $500 scholarship in memory of Dr. Herman Ash, our founder and friend. This year’s scholarship will be awarded to a graduating Saugerties student pursuing an education in music or music-related field. Consideration will be given to one who has demonstrated dedication to his or her education, and displays compassion and concern for community, classmates and fellow citizens.

Completed applications along with a letter of recommendation from a music teacher or mentor should be forwarded to: Scholarships, c/o Saugerties Pro Musica, P.O. Box 276 Saugerties, NY 12477.

Scholarship applications are available in the Saugerties High School guidance office or can be downloaded from http://www.saugertiespromusica.org .

The deadline for submitting applications is April 29, 2016.

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No more orange zest

I used to cook a lot with orange zest, it’s a great way to pop that orange flavor in everything from sauces to dessert toppings. Lately, though, I’ve been peeling my oranges and toasting the skin on my wood-fired kitchen cooking range. As they dry out a roasted orange scent fills the kitchen. When totally dry, even a little charred, I crumble them, even sometimes pulverizing them in a spice grinder. The result is a full flavored addition to marinades, dry rubs, dressings – even desserts – you name it. It adds much more depth of flavor than the one-note zest ever could!

Posted in Culinary, dessert, food, Food Fads, orange zest,, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment