We are Heading to Paris for Our Own Cycling Tour de France

Our friends at Backroads Travel will once again be hosting us, this time for a phenomenal journey through Normandy along the Seine River. And since it’s summer travel time, we will be combing two of our favorite activities, biking and boating… CONTINUE READING >> 

Follow all of our adventure with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Our friends at Backroads Travel will once again be hosting us, this time for a phenomenal journey through Normandy along the Seine River.

And since it’s summer travel time, we will be combining two of our favorite activities, biking and boating.

We most assuredly will NOT be doing any racing (or doping for that matter) but by day we will pedal pathways that lead to many of France’s most famous historic sites, as well as the homes and inspirations for many of her renowned artists.

At night we will board our AmaWaterways ship, which will serve as our luxurious home away from home for the week, to be transported to the next incredible destination.

Highlights of our two-wheeled touring will begin with a ride from Paris to the Palace of Versailles, where we will once again fall head over heels for Louis the Fourteenth’s fabulous château.

In the following days we will ride deep into the history of the region with stops at numerous Norman villages, such as Les Andelys, home to Château Gaillard, the ruined medieval castle of Richard the Lionheart, and Rouenx, the historic capital of Normandy.

The stop at Rouen will certainly be unforgetable, as our tour will take us past a soaring Gothic cathedral and immense clock tower, then on to The Old Market Square where Joan of Arc was tried for heresy and burned at the stake.

The historic highpoints of the trip are capped off with a stop at the site of the D-Day landing, Omaha Beach. It is hard to imagine a more important World War II site and emotions cannot help but be running high at this poignant remembrance.

To fulfil our artsy side, we will also stop in the towns of Giverny, best known as the location of Claude Monet’s garden and home, to see his Water Lilies come to life and Auvers‐sur‐Oise, where van Gogh and Cézanne once lived.

Of course, no visit to France is complete without food, and there shall be ample supplies. Normandy is best known for dairy products and apples, so we will visit a local farm and taste delicious ice cream made by the Norman cows.

Wait, these cows aren’t that talented are they? Perhaps we should say produced with their milk.

We will also pedal through quintessentially Norman scenery, reveling in the scenes of thatched roof farmhouses sprinkled among the orchards that provide our bountiful snacks.

As for when we are dining aboard the ship, the chef always endeavors to capture the essence of the area while creating locally inspired specialties.

All in all we expect a fantastic French encounter, just as much as our Backroads Bike tour in Cuba.

While we will be too busy having a blast to report every twist and turn of the journey in real time, though we will certainly be updating as often as possible across all of our social media channels, so be sure to follow all of the adventure along with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Then check back here for in-depth coverage after the trip.

Viva la France!

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

A big thank you to Backroads Travel  for providing this adventure, as always, all opinions are our own.

Bicyclists: Stay Cool In Hot Weather

Summers in the city can get very hot, very quickly, and are also notoriously humid and muggy. Fortunately, there is plenty of stylish bicycle clothing that you can get to look and feel cool as you cruise the city’s streets from morning through evening… CONTINUE READING >> 

As a cyclist in New York City, you want to look hip and stylish–but you’re really a hot mess because you’re panting and drenched in sweat.

Summers in the city can get very hot, very quickly, and are also notoriously humid and muggy. Fortunately, there is plenty of stylish bicycle clothing that you can get to look and feel cool as you cruise the city’s streets from morning through evening.

The folks at Bike Rental Central Park shared some tips to help you have the best experience possible biking around the Big Apple. “The right clothing can make all the difference,” said Blair Nicole of Bike Rental Central Park.  “You want to be comfortable, but yet stylish and safe.”

Plan For The Weather–Sort Of

Since you can’t predict the weather in summer, plan for a variety of conditions. When riding in the cooler hours of the day, such as morning or evening, consider dressing in layers.

Layer On Top

The wind can be surprisingly cool on a bicycle in New York City, particularly if your skin is damp with sweat. An easy and stylish choice for layering on top is a zip-up hoodie. Most zip-up hoodies designed for riding are windproof, and some are also waterproof. The advantage of a zip-up hoodie is that you can take it off quickly and safely when needed.

If you’re planning to commute or go for a longer ride, look for a lightweight hoodie that will fold away easily in a bag or fit in your bike’s basket.

For something lighter weight than a hoodie, a long-sleeve shirt is a good option; make sure to get one with moisture wicking material, such as mesh and built-in UV protection.

If you don’t want layers, a biking jersey will do just fine. Jerseys designed for women have a close fitting cut that is both flattering and safe, as excess fabric moving around can be distracting and dangerous. Bike jerseys also have a deep back pocket where you can stash items that you might need to reach easily, like directions, granola bars, or a cell phone.

What You Wear On The Bottom Is Equally Important.

Traditionally, the standard item to wear in the summer has been padded biking shorts. The built-in padding on bike shorts prevents uncomfortable chafing and rubbing, which can quickly make any Bike Rental Central Park experience miserable.

Luckily, many brands have heeded the call to make more fashionable shorts, which has led to more options on the market, so you can find anything from knee-length capris to fashion-length shorts with discrete but still effective padding built in.

Some also have two layers with a fashionable outer shell and padding on the interior, zip pockets and even strips of reflective fabric to enhance visibility.

Cycling Kits

Another alternative to mixing and matching summer bike clothing is a cycling kit. Cycling kits are one-piece outfits with integrated shirts and shorts. They’re typically worn by professional cyclists, and they’re also ideal for long-distance riding.

Don’t Forget The Hands And Face

Sunglasses are vital for cyclists in the summer. In addition to shielding your eyes from the sun, they also keep debris out of the eyes. Some even have padding on the nose and around the ears so they really stay in place throughout the ride. Multi-lens glasses are a popular choice, as they enable maximum visibility in all lighting. To keep your hands protected from chafing, consider getting a pair of women’s fingerless cycling gloves with plenty of padding to prevent blisters and sores.

Now that you have your new stylish summer biking “uniform,” you’re ready to ride!

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

Where to Find the Best Gluten-Free Goodies in Manhattan

It wasn’t that long ago when people in this country sort of pooh-poohed the idea of gluten-free. But It can be a serious health issue, so it’s necessary to acknowledge it–and the best news is it can be really delicious.  In fact, some people who aren’t gluten-free go to these places just for the taste… CONTINUE READING >> 

With an increasingly large number of people following a gluten-free diet, the availability and variety of foods that meet this dietary restriction have expanded.

“It wasn’t that long ago when people in this country sort of pooh-poohed the idea of gluten-free (GF), although it had been  acknowledged by Europeans for many years,” said Blair Nicole of Liberty Cruise NYC. “It can be a serious health issue, though, so it’s necessary to acknowledge it–and the best news is it can be really delicious.  In fact, I know some people who aren’t gluten-free who go to these places just for the taste!”

Erin McKenna’s Bakery (formerly called Babycakes)

Address: 248 Broome St, New York, NY 10002

Erin McKenna’s Bakery, formerly called Babycakes, is an establishment with a 1950s soda shop feel, which sells treats that are free from harmful ingredients.

This is really a story about how some of the best ideas are born out of necessity.  McKenna, owner and founder, couldn’t find anything to satisfy her sweet tooth, because she had so many food allergies.  So she decided to do it herself, and Babycakes was opened in the late 2000s.  Soon after she was on the cover of Inc. Magazine with celebrity chef Tom Colicchio and at the helm of an empire that included several locations around the country, as well as a best-selling cookbook.  

Later, she renamed it to Erin McKenna’s Bakery.

Products are vegan, Kosher, GF, and also don’t contain any refined sugars, wheat or soy. Soft serve, cupcakes and donuts are popular items, but sweet breads and other treats are also available.

Celebrities, such as Pamela Anderson and Natalie Portman, have been spotted here. Madonna has been known to come in for the donuts.

Even if you aren’t gluten-free, we promise you’ll swoon–especially when you taste her scones and donuts. Trust us, you want to go to this place.

Rubirosa Ristorante

Address: 235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

With dim lights, a chic yet familial atmosphere and big pizzas, Rubirosa is a favorite of both tourists and New York locals. There is an entire GF menu, including mozzarella sticks, fried calamari, meatballs and pasta. The vodka pizza is a standout on the menu.

Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co.

Address: 25 E 17th Street, New York, NY 10003

Warm weather means that traditional baked goods sometimes do not cut it. Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co. has sundaes, fruit pops and soft serve. The soft serve fruit base is only organic cane sugar, water and fruit. It comes in flavors such as banana, dark chocolate and mango.

Tu-Lu’s Bakery

Address: 338 E 11th St, New York, NY 10003

Tu-Lu’s is conveniently close to Erin McKenna’s bakery. Visit one place before checking out the other one. Paninis and homemade croutons share a menu with cookie dough balls and cupcakes.

Baked by Melissa

Address: 110 Fulton St, New York, NY 10038

Baked by Melissa offers bite-sized cupcakes and macarons in GF varieties. Served in trays, these can satisfy any foodie’s sweet tooth. Triple Chocolate Crunch, Red Velvet and Birthday Cake are just a few flavors that are part of the OMFG. assortment. Get some to much on as you explore Manhattan.

Smile to Go

Address: 22 Howard St, New York, NY 10013

The GF desserts at Smile to Go are unique, from the PB&J Cookie to the Banana Quinoa Muffin. The Banana Buckwheat Bread is a more filling menu item. Take one with you while you wander the streets and shop until you drop in Soho.

When you hit land from you Liberty Cruise NYC cruise, your sweet tooth just may be talking to you–so venture around downtown Manhattan later for some GF goodness. Enjoy your foodie adventure!

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

Seeking Something Strange in Stockholm

On our second visit to Stockholm we figured we should seek out the stranger side of the city. From smörgåsbord, to history, to street art, see how we did… CONTINUE READING >> 

The view of Stockholm's Old Town from the Viking Star

Not long ago Stockholm wasn’t really on our radar as a destination, then we ended up visiting the Swedish Capital twice within the span of one year.

How to smorgasbord in Sweden

We have to say we’re glad we did, because the first time was mostly taken up with the more traditional activities one looks for, such as the amazing Smörgåsbord at the world renowned Grand Hôtel…

The Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden

…or the incredibly preserved ship, the Vasa, that sank while leaving the harbor on its maiden voyage only to become one of the best specimens of shipbuilding from the Age of Exploration to be found anywhere in the world…

Captain's suite at Victory Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden

…or the luxurious accommodations and cuisine at The Victory Hotel and the Djuret restaurant.

We also stumbled upon some slightly quirky attractions during our explorations, being surprised by the odd assortment of seafood at the Östermalm Food Hall, a huge covered market where members of the royal family are often spotted…

…and by taking a ride to the top of the world’s largest spherical building, the Ericsson Globe.

Since we felt as though we had done the town once, we figured our second pass should be spent seeking out the even stranger side of Stockholm.

As we wandered the narrow cobblestone lanes of the old town, Gamla Stan, we noticed an array of whimsical statues ranging from the somewhat normal, yet mildly amusing, to the fully eccentric, which oddly enough did not seem at all out of place.

One, at the Royal Dramatic Theater, depicts the actress Margaretha Krook standing at the spot she was famous for occupying before each show, while another has the country’s most famed singer and songwriter (at least of any who wasn’t a member of ABBA) Evert Taube in Järntorget , The Iron Square.

Some more peculiar pieces also caught our attention among the wide variety of street art.

Outside of the city’s old central district there was more quirky artwork to be discovered.

Such as the Untitled (standing man) by Sean Henry…

…or one of the weirdest we found, Torso, a sculpture by Dan Wolgers that sits outside of Fotografiska, which is one of the world’s largest centers for contemporary photography.

As is the case in many cities, Stockholm has a statue that is said to bring good fortune if given a rub, so of course we stroked the Järnpojke, or Iron Boy looking at the Moon.

The little guy was sculpted by Swedish artist Liss Eriksson, and at less than six inches high, has been renowned as the smallest statue in Stockholm for over fifty years.

More unconventional art awaited us inside of the Hallwyl Museum. Countess Wilhelmina von Hallwyl set about preserving her home as a museum long before her death and a big part of those preparations included collecting artworks during her worldwide journeys.

The rest of the house / museum is not at all weird, but gives a fine view into the late Victorian period in Sweden, with a look at the lifestyles of the nobility in Stockholm at the time.

Other historic idiosyncrasies revealed themselves as we explored further, such as a story we heard about the Rowing Madams, or Roddarmadam. The ladies, using row boats, ferried people between the fourteen islands that the city is scattered across before bridges were built.

Besides the fact that women were not known to be in the workforce back then, they were also famous for their extensive use of foul, um, shall we say colorful language. Accounts date back over five hundred years, but as Stockholm’s famous fifty-seven bridges were constructed their numbers dwindled, and by the early nineteen hundreds the Madams had disappeared altogether.

Even more ancient were the runestones that we noticed incorporated into the stonework of several buildings in the city. These inscribed rocks are often well over a thousand years old and were originally erected in honor of dead men, not as grave stones, but as memorials.

One thing we know for certain, these remembrances will remain in our memories for many years to come.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

See all of our adventures in Sweden here.

Un-nesting. Could it be Blissfully Real?

I’m constantly searching for material that dispels my internal anti-mantra, “You are a bad mommy. You shouldn’t be so happy that your children have left the nest. You are a bad…” In my latest frantic search, I came across a theory that I love. Un-nesting.

Suzanne Koven, M.D. writes in her post for Psychology Today entitled “The Un-Nesting Instinct”:

Celia’s story started out sounding pretty familiar-a cliché almost. She was fiftyish and going through menopause and, in addition to the weight gain and hot flashes, she found herself irritable and sad. Her children, she told me, were a particular source of sadness. “You mean because they’re growing up, moving away?” I asked. ‘No,’ answered Celia, ‘Because they’reCONTINUE READING >>

I’m constantly searching for material that dispels my internal anti-mantra, “You are a bad mommy. You shouldn’t be so happy that your children have left the nest. You are a bad…”

What keeps that inner nag going? Guilt? Self reflection? Stupidity? I suppose it doesn’t really matter, it is what it is.

In my latest frantic search, I came across a theory that I love. Un-nesting.

Suzanne Koven, M.D. writes in her story for Psychology Today entitled “The Un-Nesting Instinct“:

“Celia’s story started out sounding pretty familiar-a cliché almost. She was fiftyish and going through menopause and, in addition to the weight gain and hot flashes, she found herself irritable and sad. Her children, she told me, were a particular source of sadness. “You mean because they’re growing up, moving away?” I asked. ‘No,’ answered Celia, ‘Because they’re not.’‘”

WOW! You bet my interest was piqued – could I finally have an answer, and from a doctor, no less?

Dr. Koven continues: “This ‘un-nesting instinct’ is the opposite of what some women experience at the end of pregnancy when they find themselves scrubbing floors, straightening drawers and otherwise ‘feathering the nest'”

Could it be that my un-nesting instinct is just as potent as the nesting instinct? Are my feelings just as valid now as when I was pregnant and wanting to feather our little home with love?

She goes on to add: “At menopause a woman may find herself with a very different urge: to get rid of stuff instead of cleaning and rearranging it, to downsize.”

THAT’S IT! The validation I needed! Of course, Dr. Koven insists that her observation with Celia is just a theory, but WHAT A THEORY! I’m taking it as fact and going on with my bad self. And this Celia chick? My kind of gal.

Then there is this survey that further bolsters my mood:

According to a Del Webb survey (tip o’ the GN hat to Grace Curtis who found these stats for us!):

58 percent (of the Baby Boom Generation) say they are or were emotionally ready to get the kids out of the house. Males (70 percent) are significantly more likely to be emotionally prepared than females (55 percent.)

The older the Boomers become the more ready they are to clear the Nest. In fact 71 percent of the Boomers between 53-58 years old are emotionally ready to be Empty Nesters.

I am not alone.

And, best of all, I have some anti-venom for the “bad mommy” anti-mantra.

Veronica, GypsyNester.com

YOUR TURN: Do you find validity in the un-nesting theory? Are you one of the 58% that are or were ready for the empty nest? Is my “bad mommy” mantra correct?