Archive for April, 2017

Traveling with Fibromyalgia: 5 Tips to Make Your Trip a Success3 min read

Traveling with Fibromyalgia

Traveling when you’re perfectly healthy can be hard on your body. When you have chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia, it can be grueling. You’ll have to deal with lots of walking through the airport, cramped seating, time changes and irregular schedules, food you’re not familiar with, and a bed that’s not your own. If you’re not careful, any one of these challenges could trigger a fibromyalgia (FM) flare-up that could ruin your trip.

However, with a little planning and help from your travel companions, you can have a successful trip. These tips will help you anticipate some of the potential triggers you’ll encounter during your trip, and how to avoid them or deal with them while you’re traveling.

Changes in the Weather and Temperature

Many people with FM are extremely sensitive to temperatures and changes in the weather. While it’s not always possible to avoid the conditions when you’re traveling – especially if it involves another climate or time zone – you can prepare. And remember that airports can be cold since they crank the air conditioning – I myself spent an uncomfortable 2-hour layover shivering in SFO.

Tip: Like the Boy Scouts – always come prepared. Have a light jacket available at all times in the bag you’ll be carrying with you, so you can pull it out as soon as you need it. Layers are your friend.

Stress

Stress is one of the biggest FM triggers and there’s no shortage of it when you travel. Delayed flights, missing baggage, sick kids – they can all get your heart rate going. Again, these may be unavoidable but remember, as Jack Sparrow said in Pirates of the Caribbean – “The problem is not the problem. The problem is our attitude about the problem.”

Tip: Let some things go when you’re traveling. If you miss a flight, there will always be another one. Remember your deep breathing exercises and forewarn your travel companions that you may need to take some time for yourself to practice them.

Lack of Sleep

You won’t have access to your regular bed and you may have a time change to deal with as well. These factors, combined with the general hustle and bustle of traveling, can lead to missed sleep – a big no-no if you have FM. Know going into the trip that you’re going to have to make sleep a priority.

Tip: Many FM sufferers find it beneficial to bring a thin roll of foam on a trip to smooth out the lumps and bumps of a strange bed. You may also need to schedule a few naps and regular bedtimes, even if it means missing an excursion with your travel companions or some late-night fun. Avoiding an FM flare-up is worth it.

Breaks in Your Treatment Plan

Anything that breaks your normal treatment plan can put you at risk for an FM flare-up. This includes changes to your routine, which the tips above will help you to avoid. But it also includes missing doses of your prescribed medications and other therapeutic approaches you use on a regular basis.

Tip: Make sure you stock up on the medications you’ll need before leaving for your trip, and search online for pharmacies at your destination in case you need them. You can also ask your doctor for recommendations for service providers – such as therapeutic massage therapists and acupuncturists – who can help alleviate symptoms and keep your fibromyalgia management on track.

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Posted by Lustige Bilder - April 27, 2017 at 16:21

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What’s coming next? Scientists identify how the brain predicts speech

An international collaboration of neuroscientists has shed light on how the brain helps us to predict what is coming next in speech.
ADHD / ADD News From Medical News Today

Posted by Lustige Bilder -  at 11:22

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Healthy Recipe: Turkish Chickpea Grain Salad1 min read

Turkish Chickpea Grain Salad

Turkish Chickpea Grain SaladThis bright and refreshing grain salad bowl comes together in fifteen minutes flat, making it perfect for those hectic weeknight dinners. Packed with plant based protein and fiber from chickpeas, healthy whole grains from the couscous, vitamin C from the lemon juice and tomatoes, and beneficial monounsaturated fats from the olive oil, this recipe is a health homerun. Feel free to top it with grilled chicken or salmon, crumbled feta cheese, or some grilled vegetables depending on your preference.

Serves: 2

Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 small handful chopped parsley
  • 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 -15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ a ripe avocado, pitted, sliced, and peeled
  • Hemp hearts, to serve (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the couscous, cumin, paprika, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour in just enough boiling water to cover it, then cover the whole bowl with a plate and allow it to steam for 5 minutes.
  2. While the couscous steams, mix together the parsley, tomatoes, chickpeas, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste it, and add more lemon, oil, salt, or pepper as needed.
  3. Use a fork to fluff the couscous, then mix in a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  4. Divide the couscous between two bowls, top with the tomato chickpea mixture, sliced avocado, and a sprinkling of hemp hearts if desired. Serve with extra lemon wedges on the side. Enjoy!

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Posted by Lustige Bilder - April 25, 2017 at 22:19

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The Healthiest Boutique Hotels for 20172 min read

Boutique hotels - Molitor, Paris

Staying in a chain hotel is usually nothing special. Regardless of the city or even the country you’re visiting, you get pretty much the same thing each and every time. Sure, the service is reliable and you can count on clean sheets, but there’s nothing much to get excited about.

Boutique hotels, on the other hand, offer a much more unique experience. They’re usually one-of-a-kind and focus on providing an extra level of service, personal touch, or specific theme. Some are known for their luxury, their relaxing atmosphere, or their dedication to your health and fitness pursuits. You can find ultra-modern to historically accurate boutique hotels – and pretty much everything in between.

The following are some of the best boutique hotels for the summer of 2017. If you’re looking for a healthy vacation with a unique flare, you can’t go wrong with any of the following choices.

Boutique Hotel Vivenda Miranda in Portugal

This former home of a 17th-century noble family is now a boutique hotel focused on your healing and relaxation. Vivenda Miranda hosts regular classes and courses to help you reboot your mind and body. You can take a Tai Chi class in their luxurious gardens or on the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean, followed by a guided excursion to the nearby Monchique mountains and the famous caves of Ponta da Piedade. All meals are locally sourced to ensure that you’re getting the freshest ingredients while giving back to the local economy.

Wellnesshotel Golf Panorama in Switzerland

The Wellnesshotel Golf Panorama is the perfect boutique for the golf lover – who wouldn’t want to play 27 holes with the majestic Swiss mountains as their backdrop? After a long day on the links, you can relax in luxury while receiving a golf-specific massage designed to get you ready for your next round. When you’ve had enough of the course, arrange for a cycling or Nordic walking tour in the nearby countryside.

Pondoro Game Lodge in South Africa

If seeing the Big Five in Africa – lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard, and rhinoceros – has always been a dream of yours, book your stay at the Pondoro Game Lodge now. It’s perfectly situated in a private game reserve attached to Kruger National Park to put you in touch with all the African bush has to offer. You’ll enjoy twice-daily game drives to spot your favorite wildlife, along with guided nature walks and nighttime stargazing.

Molitor Paris Club & Spa in France

The Molitor Paris Club & Spa was once the city’s most popular swim club. It’s been converted into a swanky boutique hotel focused on four key goals: wellbeing, spa treatments, exercise, and energy. The staff includes experts in a variety of disciplines who will teach guests how to integrate the lessons they learn during their stay into sustainable strategies that will last a lifetime. You’re far enough away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Paris to fully relax – and yet major tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower are just a 20-minute cab ride away.

There’s a Perfect Boutique Hotel for You

These are four of our favorites, but there are thousands of boutique hotels around the world just waiting to be explored. If you want to avoid the chains and try something a little different, it’s worth taking a chance on a boutique hotel for your summer vacation this year.

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Posted by Lustige Bilder - April 21, 2017 at 21:18

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Slight Turbulence6 sec read

Slight Turbulence - Terry LeBan

Slight Turbulence  - Terry LaBan

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Posted by Lustige Bilder - April 20, 2017 at 15:17

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Surf’s Up! How to Recreate Your Own Endless Summer Surfing Vacation2 min read

Surfing in Costa Rica

Remember The Endless Summer, the film that first introduced us to the excitement of the “surf-and-travel” culture? Bruce Brown’s 1966 classic followed two surfers on their worldwide quest to find the best surf spots. For many surfers, recreating a modern day Endless Summer would be the ultimate vacation. But before you grab your GoPro and book a plane ticket, make sure you know where to go to catch 2017’s best waves.

Costa Rica

Pura vida. Costa Rica’s most famous phrase, “pure life” is more than just a saying – it’s a way of life that every visitor can experience firsthand. Costa Rica is a popular destination among surfers because the weather is beautiful and the waves are consistent year round. Whether a beginner or a pro, Costa Rica is filled with incredible surf spots.

Vacationing with someone who isn’t a surfer? Not to worry. Costa Rica offers plenty of other family-friendly activities. With great food, hot springs, fantastic parks, and (of course) gorgeous beaches, it’s hard to get bored in this Central American country.

Indonesia

From Bali to Java to Sumatra, Indonesia is home to some of the greatest surf spots in the world.  At Bali’s Kuta beach you can find waves for everyone, whether they’re a seasoned expert or just getting their feet wet. For the daring pros, take a trip further south to Nusa Tenggara and try to tackle Desert Point, one of the world’s most legendary waves.

When you’re not busy finding Indonesia’s perfect wave, you can visit the ancient Prambanan and Borobudur temples, wander through Kuta’s famous Legion Street tourist strip, or just hang on the beach basking in the strong Southeast Asian sun.

The Maldives

If you’re up for a bigger challenge, the Maldives is calling your name. An intermediate level of expertise is recommended to surf, though in the Southern Atolls waves can be quite powerful and require even more experience. The best time to surf the Maldives is sometime during the Southern Hemisphere winter, between March and October.

Even if you aren’t an expert surfer, a visit to the Maldives can still be a great getaway. Whether laying poolside at an all-inclusive resort, scuba diving down to see the sunken Maldives Victory, or exploring Male’, one of the world’s tiniest capital cities, there’s always plenty to do.

Australia

The only destination on this list featured in the original Endless Summer, Australia has remained one of the best places to surf. Byron Bay is often referred to as both the greatest surf city in the world and the quintessential Aussie beach town. Waves and temperatures are pretty consistent year-round and all levels are welcome.

If surfing isn’t your thing, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy what Byron Bay has to offer. Known for its relaxed vibe, it’s the ideal place to paddle out and enjoy the sunset or perfect your yoga practice. Whatever you choose to do, you can expect the ultimate chill vacation.

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Posted by Lustige Bilder - April 18, 2017 at 20:18

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A Trip Back in Time: Cruising the Yangtze River and China’s Three Gorges10 min read

The river seemed to disappear behind the mountains and cliffs in front of us. As the boat steamed forward, it came dangerously close to scraping the rocks…only to be saved at the last moment when the mountain gave way to yet another gorge. It was unlike anything I had ever seen anywhere else in the world. And it was totally appropriate, since everything about this trip up the Yangtze River was new, exciting, and a little bit wild.

When it comes to the great rivers of the world, the Amazon and the Nile get all the good press. If you’re not a geography buff or haven’t been to China yet, you may not have even heard of the Yangtze River. But it’s time to stop and take a look. It’s the third longest in the world and arguably the most interesting to explore. It’s brimming with spectacular scenery, thousands of years of culture and history, some of the best food in the world, and one of the largest, most innovative –and controversial – hydroelectric projects in human history.

So when my wife’s family invited us to visit them in Hong Kong with a stop in Shanghai before taking a cruise up the Yangtze from Wuhan to Chongqing, you can bet we jumped at the chance.

Before we begin the story, let me make one thing clear up front. If you ever take this trip, be forewarned that the word “cruise” probably doesn’t mean what you think it does in this context. You won’t be on an ocean-going ship stocked with caviar and lobster. There’s no rock wall to climb or wave pool to surf. And no, Kathy Lee will not provide the entertainment. This is a riverboat – so think small. You can almost touch both cabin walls at the same time by spreading your arms wide. The accommodations are nice, but “nice” in a country where a 500-year-old building is considered new is merely adequate by Western standards. If you’re OK with that, this trip is for you.

Cruising with the Current of the Yangtze, or Against It?

Deciding to travel upstream or downstream on the Yangtze is a big decision. Sure, you’ll still see a lot of the same sights either way you go, but they’re completely different trips in my opinion. Many people traveling downstream start with a visit in Beijing before embarking on the river from Chengdu of Chongqing. Upstream visitors start at the river delta near Shanghai where the Yangtze meets the East China Sea.

How are they different? The trip down the river is faster and usually you make fewer stops. You’ll also dock at nighttime. Upriver is a little more leisurely and you see a little more. If you only have a few days – or don’t like the idea of rocking back and forth while the boat travels at night – travel downstream.

We opted for the upstream adventure – partly because we were visiting Hong Kong first (a story for another post).

A Few Days in Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta

If you travel upriver like I did, try to plan for a day or two in Shanghai and the nearby cities in the Yangtze River delta. Shanghai is as modern as it gets and was an excellent benchmark for how different China is depending on where you travel. It’s like New York City on steroids and seems to grow by leaps and bounds nearly every day. Turn your head for a second and it seems like another building has materialized out of nowhere.

The Bund in ShanghaiThe Bund is a waterfront area centered on a section of Zhongshan Road along the banks of the Huangpu River. It’s a major tourist attraction in Shanghai and for good reason – it’s a hotbed of activity and one of the most unique mashups of architecture in the world. It was originally built as an international settlement for the British after the First Opium War in the nineteenth century. It then grew to include banks and trading houses for companies all over Europe and the United States. For that reason, you get a mix of old colonial buildings in the European style, traditional Chinese architecture, and huge modern skyscrapers adorned in neon lights. It’s a can’t-miss.

Before we jumped on the boat for the cruise, we also checked out Suzhou and Hangzhou, two cities within driving distance of Shanghai. Still touristy but a little less modern and glitzy than the big behemoth that is Shanghai.Silkworms in China

Suzhou is popular for two reasons: silk and the Classical Gardens. I never thought I’d really care about how silk is made until we visited Suzhou No. 1 Silk Mill and were greeted in the lobby by a glass box showcasing little silk worms doing their thing. Fascinating and a little gross at the same time. The rest of the tour took us through how silk is made step-by-step, and ended – of course – in the gift shop.

Pro Tip #1: Avoid buying a $ 150-dollar Chinese silk tie that you’ll wear a grand total of two times.

Suzhou is also known for its Classical Gardens, a group of really beautiful and peaceful gardens replete with lily ponds and delicate arches. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and worth a look if you’re there. 

The Broken Bridge in West LakeAfter Suzhou we visited the city of Hangzhou, where you’ll find West Lake. It’s a huge freshwater lake divided by causeways and bridges. My favorite part of this visit was seeing the famed Broken Bridge. Depending on whom you ask in China, there are many different reasons behind the name of the bridge, from star-crossed lovers’ meetings to the way the snow melts faster on one half of the bridge than the other. From the middle of the bridge you can see the entire lake.

Pro Tip #2: Watch your wallet here. As soon as we arrived we were surrounded by locals looking for easy pickings from unaware tourists. One member of our group was pickpocketed.

Wuhan and the Yellow Crane Tower

River cruises start in a variety of different cities along the Yangtze depending on which operator you book with. Ours began in Wuhan, a short flight from Shanghai. We had some time to explore the city, including the Yellow Crane Tower. It’s known as one of the Four Great Towers of China and it’s been around in different iterations since AD 223. As you can imagine there are plenty of legends about its origins. From the top of the tower you get a great view of the city and Yangtze River. If you can make the nearly 1-mile hike from the banks of the river and handle the steps, the view is worth it.

Pro Tip #3: Wuhan is known as one of the “Three Furnaces” of China – one of the cities that is extremely hot and humid during the summer. I’m not kidding you—it was HOT and unpleasant. Avoid going here in August if you can.

We’re Finally on the Boat!

And it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. It’s big but a little dark inside. There’s a bar in the middle and a dining room called “The Jade Ballroom” at the bow. Our standard cabin is tiny with two single beds along the walls, and one of those bathrooms that doubles as a shower – just pull the shower curtain around the toilet and voilà! – it’s a shower. Overall, it’s comfortable and the staff is very accommodating, so we’re more than happy.

Pro Tip #4: If you’re planning to sleep in, you may be in for a shock. At 6:15 a.m. the ship stewardess made an announcement about breakfast being served in The Jade Ballroom, followed by the sound of hundreds of hungry tourists scurrying to a delicious meal.

Yichang and the Three Gorges Dam Site

After a quick stop in Yichang for lunch and some sightseeing, we were back on the boat and headed upstream to the Three Gorges Dam.

Let me tell you, this thing is impressively large and powerful. It’s the world’s largest power station, and building it forever changed the composition of the Yangtze River and the lives of the people living along its banks. Once it was completed, the water level rose to a maximum of 574 feet, which is more 350 higher than it is downstream. As you can imagine, many of the cities and historic sites along the banks of the river were completely wiped out when the dam was completed – the price of progress. We took a guided tour of the dam and the power station to learn about how it worked and the power generation and flood-control benefits it provides China.

Pro Tip #5: Going through the ship locks near the dam is really cool – don’t miss it. Make sure you get a good spot on the deck of the boat. If you have a camera with time-lapse capabilities, this would be a good time to use it.

Navigating the Three Gorges

After the dam, we entered the Three Gorges territory – a 120-mile stretch of the river surrounded by mountains and cliffs on either side. Seeing the gorges is the reason most people take the trip. I have to say that the scenery is spectacular and the picture-taking opportunities were phenomenal. I have framed pictures (that I took) of the Wu Gorge and The Broken Bridge hanging in my den.

If you’re headed upstream, you’ll see the Xiling Gorge first, followed by the Wu Gorge, and Qutang Gorge – obviously vice-versa if you’re coming downstream.The Three Gorges in the Yangtze River

The Qutang has my favorite. It’s the shortest at about five miles long and also the narrowest – at some points you feel like the boat may not even fit between the mountains, which shoot up as high as 4,000 feet next to you. Since the Qutang is so short, your captain will likely make an announcement to get on deck so you don’t miss it – ours did.

Pro Tip #6: You’ll get a good view of the gorges no matter where you stand on deck, but my personal preference was to be as close to center on the bow of the boat. This way, you get to see the mountains coming right at you.

The Shennong Stream and the Hanging Coffins

Your itinerary will likely include excursions to different towns and historical sites. One of the best on the trip was the trip up the Shennong Stream in a boat a little bigger than a canoe. The stream is bordered by tall limestone cliffs dotted with trees teeming with wild monkeys. And hanging high among the cliffs are the famous “hanging coffins” of the Bo people – a small minority population nearly wiped out during the Ming dynasty.

It’s remarkable to think that 2,500 years ago, without the help of modern machinery, the Bo were able to “bury” their dead some 400 feet off the ground – suspended by wooden logs drilled into the side of the cliff face. Truly a labor of love and respect for their ancestors, this ritual was performed to bring the dead closer to god and protect the bodies from being taking by animals.

Pro Tip #7: If you take this excursion, bring a little cash with you. Kids from nearby villages will swim up to your boat with trinkets to buy. They’re unique, small gifts – with a great story – to bring home to your relatives. And it’s a nice way to support the local economy. 

Chongqing, Hot Pot, and the Magical Face-Changing Opera

After over a week on the river, we disembarked from our boat for the last time deep in the heart of the Sichuan province in the city of Chongqing. If you’ve ever had Sichuan food in the United States, you know the cuisine is all about spice. But I’ve never had anything quite as spicy as the hot pot in Chongqing. Hot pot is a bubbling cauldron of sauce and broth accompanied by raw meats and vegetables. You cook the food in the pot to your liking and enjoy the meal family-style around a big round table.

Pro Tip #8: As for a variation of the hot pot only found in Chongqing called má là – which translates to “numb and spicy.” It includes the Sichuan pepper, which isn’t like black pepper back home. It creates a tingling numb feeling in your mouth that helps regulate the other spices your about to experience.

After you get your face melted off at the hot pot, check out the magical face-changing opera called Biàn Liǎn in Chongqing. Although I didn’t understand much of the story, since it was in Mandarin, the performance is incredible. The actors wear brightly colored masks that they change instantaneously with the flick of their head of a wave of their hand. It’s impossible to see how they do it. Consider this: It’s so amazing that a famous Chinese pop star offered to pay one of the opera masters $ 3,000,000 yuan (about US $ 360,000) to learn the secret about 10 years ago.

Back Home Again

Like many of the famous stories about river journeys throughout history and in literature, the physical journey up the Yangtze River was a spiritual journey as well for me. It took me to a time and place completely foreign, where the pace of life and priorities are different. Getting on the flight from Chongqing back to Hong Kong and then the United States was a bit like waking from a dream. I still stop and think, “did that really happen?” and reflect on how the journey changed me. It’s made me a better and more adventurous traveler. And beyond that, it kept me open to new ideas and experiences in all parts of life.

Do you have your own trip on the Yangtze River in your future?

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Posted by Lustige Bilder - April 7, 2017 at 19:23

Categories: Travel   Tags: , , , , , , , , ,