All posts by champagnediva

Aging. A blessing, not afforded to everyone. One life to live.

Image result for age quotes funny

How many of you wake up in the morning ,look at yourselves in the mirror and say ” holy Crap !! “what the Hell ? whose been playing in my face during the night?. I am convinced that before I go to bed, there is a little group of wrinkle fairies , just waiting for me to close my eyes. You all know what I’ m taking about !! as far as the rest of the body  is concerned, still don’t know  who’s  working on that part during the night.

People say “age is only a number” “You are only as young as you feel”. Yeah rriiight !! OK !!! You can always fix it with a little Botox ,some filler , all new !! . Yes !! when you are healthy, it’s all that, but lets not fool ourselves into thinking that we can buy youth, maybe retard it a bit. Some have gone as far as disfiguring themselves in the              quest of escaping the inevitable.

I’ve been to parties where I wonder  “I know I met you before” all the women look-alike , never sure “have we met before, like 5 minutes ago.” .  the quest to remain young , has women now all looking alike . One look !!!   Yes its Vanity !! .We live in a society where Age matters , Looking young matters

Then you start loosing friends ,who are just too young to go. Friends whose only wish, is to live a little longer. Reality sets in. Yes reality !! That feeling that literally slaps you in the face and says wake the hell up. Reality , what  a concept . You start asking yourself , should I feel guilty about having the privilege to bitch about aging? It’s a questions I ask myself every time a friend  goes too soon. Knowing how important just being alive was to them. Knowing they didn’t have the opportunity to be shallow . knowing how unimportant  that wrinkle and that scar  was  in the grand scheme of things.

As time passes and I am lucky enough, to be healthy enough, to worry about how I age. Be arrogant enough , not to want to age gracefully. Not that I think aging gracefully is such a bad thing. just letting nature take its course.  Being in the job market in later years, unfortunately requires energy , clear thinking , all associated with youth.

So what is the choice ? Doing the best you can, being in a state of constant repair (very exhausting) Like a car you can’t afford to get rid of, or a monument falling apart..Sadly it’s one of Those things in life, that we can’t control . Is it a curse or a blessing ? depends on where you are  in life ..

Youth is venerated , age is not. Age is associated with disease , medication , lack of energy not sexy. Yet some women have managed not only to age well, but to do it fabulously. Now we won’t pretend they didn’t have a little tweak here and there. Wink , Wink !!

This is the fabulous 79-year-old Clarisse , met her in the lady’s room . She walked in , on tiger print booties , 6 inch heels ,that most people 30 years younger couldn’t even maneuver . She reminded me of  “The Lady  Chablis”  in the movie “Midnight in the garden of good and evil”. I had to photograph her. she was just Fabulous !!!

Only a few of the marvelous ladies known and unknown ,who have done it beautifully.

So ladies fix it, don’t fix it  it’s a personal choice. In the end do it with grace , attitude  and joie de vivre. ONLY ONE LIFE , MAKE IT COUNT..




I love street art.Fun tags and street scenes in New York -photographs .

So Much to see, so little time. The streets and neighborhoods of New York are just so loaded with talent , that its hard to photograph everything. Like the person driving around with an ” I stop for Tag Sales” sticker… I stop for street Art .Don’t be behind me , cause if  I notice some wall art, the brakes go on and the camera gets pulled out. . so be warned.


Kobra is back with a new wall finished last week. Amazing!!


DSC_0669 (1)

DSC_0642 (1)



DSC_0633 (1)

DSC_0663 (1)

DSC_0632 (1)

DSC_0631 (1)

DSC_0630 (1)

DSC_0629 (1)

DSC_0627 (1)
Interesting garage doors

DSC_0626 (1)

DSC_0625 (1)DSC_0624 (1)

DSC_0623 (1)


Chalk drawing on the sidewalk


DSC_0613 (1)

DSC_0620 (1)DSC_0618 (1)

Enter a caption

Enter a caption

The 17th karmapa 33rd birthday elebration.Photographs.

Sunday was the 17th Karmapa’s  33rd birthday . Although I am not a Buddhist I was lucky to find myself at the  Karma Triyana Dharmachakra  a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Woodstock, New York, which serves as the North American seat of the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu lineage..



The celebration was most  inspiring, and fun. Beautiful people traveled from all over the world to have the opportunity to meet this man and get a blessing. The amazing performances from various dancers and singer from Nepal and Bhutan dressed in traditional costumes and clothing transplanted everyone back to Tibet and Nepal for a day. It was not only spiritual but it was like taking a trip to a land not many people have seen or visited.


The weather played games with us, at one point the celebration had to be stopped because of pouring rain , as people stood over the birthday cakes with umbrellas to keep it from getting washed away.The sun came out a few times , then the fog rolled in very strangely and suddenly, then it lifted and a bright sun showed its face, only to have the skies once again close up and shower the crowd with a fine mist of  rain.


The birthday cake had to be protected from the heavy downfall..

















And the day ended with everyone feeling blessed and happy.


Meli Melo , Haitian , Cajun restaurant.

Looking   for a wonderful Haitian/Cajun restaurant  with amazing food ?., One just opened a few weeks ago and a wonderful surprise awaits you . Meli Melo  located at 153 Dubois avenue in Valley stream is such a place, Relaxing ambiance , great and timely service. The space is beautifully done and the music nice and “Melo” . Transport yourself to New Orleans  and Haiti ,with  live music . This is a wonderful place to spend a romantic evening  or great times with your friends. Plenty of parking in the rear.


My lovely waitress Enrica from Palermo was the best.. Very attentive and simpatico


The Poisson gros sel is fabulous , a light and finer version of the dish, not too spicy ,just spicy enough.You can always request a side of Pikliz to add some heat if you require.It is also their best seller.

Poisson Gros Sel
After trying the Poulet en Sauce , my friend said ” the only problem with the food is that you cant stop eating because its so good”
Of course had to have the Pain Patate, a  dish not easy to prepare  and hard to find  is most restaurant. The work involved in creating this dessert , keeps it off most menus. Chef ASH does a wonderful job with this dessert, served nice and warm straight from the oven with a topping of vanilla ice cream .It’s been a long time since I’ve had  an authentic pain patate. 
Credit to Executive chef Ash who does a fantastic job and has never disappointed me.


The cocktails are wonderful and if you like mangos , do try the  Marigo. If I didn’t have to drive,  I think I would have drowned myself in this delectable concoction.

A beautiful , relaxing place to have dinner and drinks. They have a very large bar area where you can sip those marvelous cocktails and maybe a shot of rhum Barbancourt and listen to some great jazz .

Happy hour drink specials weekdays  $5 & $6 . they open at 4 pm  .This restaurant is only weeks old, so they are still working out the kinks , give it a chance you wont be disappointed. 

My overall experience was super positive and I highly recommend that you try  Meli Melo . I have been back several times and plan on going back often.


The owners Patrick and Judy  and their partner go out of their way to make everyone feel welcomed and I sure wish them the best of luck.

Bon appetit…

Cuba , can you still go? a definite YES !! It’s legal and safe .

Do You want to travel to Cuba ? .Can you still travel to Cuba sin problema?  Si Si Si !!! last year it was the all the rage , until the rules changed :(. Well I will be going this Year.


My dream of visiting Cuba has not changed , but how do you go about doing it ? No more Canada runs, which was my first idea Shhhhhh !!!! . No more Bahamas runs. Considering we have so  little vacation time in the USA , any days lost travelling , is a day not spent on the beach with a Mojito .

Not Knowing what to do , can keep travelers from experiencing a fabulous island and its people . Sure if you have the time and want to do your own thing , by all means go for it.

For me booking a flight out of any USA airport instead of  loosing time, is best.

My friends who visited Cuba  last year , told me ” You Blew it” “Its too late now“. Not true !! . A few things have changed. It’s just that now the new program is called “‘Support for the Cuban people“.

Going on your own.

  1.  book a ticket non stop on jet blue from JFK or United from Newark. the fare is quite inexpensive , Approx 300 usd. Remember to get health insurance .
  2. select “support the Cuban people” as the type of travel.
  3. use Airbnb  or a casa particular to reserve a room.
  4. Eat in private restaurants
  5. If you need a guide Hire them privately
  6. Internet is a challenge but it can be bought  by the hour in some places . you will be disconnected for the most part , so enjoy the good old days.

Some people prefer to use a tour company, more expensive but also trouble free.

Passports and Visas

A valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity after your return date) is required for entry into Cuba. In addition, you are required to show your passport at all accommodations. A tourist card (visa) is required and might be obtained from the airline with  which you have booked your flights. It is important that you keep your tourist card in a safe place, as it will be necessary to show it upon departure from Cuba.

Currency/ one country, two currencies

how to use the local Cuban currency

The most widely used by foreign visitors is the Cuban Convertible Peso. Its currency code is CUC, which earns it the nickname “kook”.

US citizens should also be aware that the USD also attracts an extra 10% charge to exchange to CUC. This means that USD $100 will only get you about 87 CUC. If you are heading to Cuba with USD notes it may be worth changing them to another currency before arrival – perhaps Canadian Dollars, or Euros. You will lose less doing this than paying the hefty extra 10% fee. Bring cash , from what I hear no ATM’s or Credit cards.

I will bring 100 Usd for every day after payment of hotel  . Hope it’s enough .Will tell you how i managed the two currency issue.

If you have any questions before I go .Please put them in the comments  and I will be sure to do the research for you  and they will be answered upon my return.

If you have been to Cuba and would like to share your experience for other readers , or if you have any advice for me, please comment , it is most welcomed.

So keep an Eye on my next blog on Cuba . and my beautiful photographs .

Essaouira, Morocco. a beautiful coastal city.

DSC_1084A little more than 3.50 hours drive by car from Marrakech is the coastal city of  Essaouira, formerly known as Mogador. Surrounded by seawalls and city walls, designed by a French architect in the 18th century, a harbor with fish market, and a long beach with numerous water sports opportunities. Once a hippie hangout, Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens spent some time here. Orson Welles filmed part of his Othello “The Moor of Venice” in town. The city is also a designated UNESCO world heritage site. it’s a hip laid back town.



Essaouira is also renowned for its kitesurfing and  wind surfing , the powerful trade wind blowing almost constantly onto the protected, almost wave less, bay. Several world-class clubs rent top-notch material on a weekly basis. Located 25 km south of Essaouira The township of Sidi Kaouki is becoming one of the best locations in Morocco for surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing.There are several businesses which offer gear rental.


It goes without saying that the seafood is amazing , and you have a big choice of restaurant.Lots of wonderful restaurant.

I know ! those two look totally innocent, but don’t be fooled. They are just waiting for you to head to the docks, where the boats arriving with their catch, are welcomed by a massive amount of their friends. These seagulls, hundreds of them ,just fly like dive bombers for scraps and I don’t have to tell you ” duck for the droppings” . It’s still worth seeing.




Essaouira at night

This is a beautiful resort city, really worth visiting after Marrakech.. The best way to go is with the bus  Supratours   from Marrakech for approximately  130 dirham. The buses are very modern and comfortable and they do make a pit stop for some tea and PP.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you are a big fan of music , do not miss the Gnaoua Festival this year on the 21st to the 24th of June. The Gnaoua Festival is an eclectic music, arts and culture festival in the Moroccan port city .Deeply rooted in North African styles, sounds and traditions, the festival is a vibrant and immersive experience, filling the city’s streets, squares, docks and performance venues with a fantastic extravaganza of sound and color.

Beyond traditional local rhythms to include contemporary funk, blues, jazz and soul both from Africa and from further afield, transforming Essaouira into a musical, artistic and cultural hub over the course of four days.


Essaouira is also a center of argan oil production. It has become a tourist attraction due to the tree-climbing goats who are unique to the region, as argan trees are the only type the goats climb. They call them the flying goats.

The carving of Thuya wood  (using the Tetraclinis tree) has been practiced for centuries in Essaouira. This wood is very rare and very fragrant , a bit like cedar. It’s expensive but you can pick up a small PC for a reasonable price. Makes a fabulous fragrant souvenir.

Essaouira has so much to offer , you will have to discover it for yourself. Go ! Go! Go!





This morning I receive a call concerning driving in other countries with a USA driver’s license.. So I thought I would clarify the process of getting an international driving permit.

Most European countries will accept your USA driver’s licence , but do requires a driving permit. Get a IDP which is an international driving permit. How do you get one  what is the cost and how long does it take ?.

There are  several agencies  providing  issuing IDP. These can be found online.

1-AAA trough an online application the process takes 2 weeks and cost USD 20.00.

It take about 2 weeks to receive, and it some cases can be expedited.  If you have any questions about specific countries ,just  put a comment on the blog and I will answer

How it WorksThe International Driver’s Document will help break the language barrier when traveling.

Our high quality translation booklet translates your valid driver’s license in 9 languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Russian, French and German.

Up to 16 languages are accessible with our advanced non- governmental ID card, adding; Thai, Turkish, Korean, Hindi, Greek, Italian and Dutch!

As a complementary feature, you may also save a digital copy of your valid driver’s license in your smartphone!

Iphone Animation

Simply download a QR code reader app from your mobile marketplace and our patent pending technology enables you to scan the QR code on the back of your card to access the foreign language translations and digital copy of your driver’s license.

try it back

The magnetic stripe also stores basic information of your driver’s license.The security shield hologram located on the front, prolongs the life of the card and inhibits counterfeiting.

The IDD is useful for Car Insurance and Car Rentals in many countries.

Apply Now

Our application process is fast and simple. Complete the IDD application form and attach a copy of your valid driver’s license, your hand written signature and a color ID photo.

You may apply online, by regular post mail or in person.

Apply now!

Bonne route et Bon Voyage .

Marrakech ,Morocco.


Marrakech ,one of my favorite cities  in the world. The city that inspired me to photography. A city that welcomed me with open arms. A former imperial city dating back to the Berber empire. It’s the 4 th largest city after Casablanca , Fez and Tangiers.

I was told not to go , specially not alone . Fear is a crazy thing !! it keeps you from living.  I decided to go anyway, as it was on my bucket list . I read all I could , in order to make sure I was safe. The first day I aired on the side of caution , Of Course ….

As my plane few over the Red City , landing in Marrakech . the excitement started to build. After a long flight , I had to navigate  the massive amount of taxis waiting to take me to my resort. Of course not knowing my way around, I  overpaid for the taxi ride, but that’s 0k, since it always happens the first time  😦

Arrived at the Palmeraie golf and  resort . a really beautiful resort . My room absolutely 5 * .  was more like of an apartment.

Unpacked my bags and immediately decided I was going to start my Moroccan experience immediately .  For sure  it was a couscous day, and I was starving .  All I  could find walking distance , was pizza.  . Somehow a New Yorker eating Pizza in Morocco, unheard of.. At Least not on the first day.

Went back to my hotel to ask the concierge wether there was a restaurant nearby, they suggested

EL KARMOUSSA  restaurant, just in the neighborhood.

grabbed a taxi and off I went..My mouth was watering as I arrived , only to find the restaurant closed .

I could not get over the resemblance of my waitress with a good friend of mine in Miami.
The Band and staff could not have been nicer.

I walked in , expecting to be turned away and explained ,  I had just arrived from New York and really needed  a good Moroccan meal. To my surprise they asked me to come in and sit , they  prepared a wonderful meal . WOW!!! This was just unreal…They  brought in two musicians to play ,while I had lunch. The only client, in a closed restaurant. Now  that’s VIP treatment.


Throughout the day a seemingly endless stream of merchants, tourists, locals, and entertainers arrive with the activity only slightly interrupted by the frequent calls to prayer from the many nearby mosques. While there is a large Muslim population in Morocco there are also many other groups, Berbers being the most numerous, who are split between Muslim and Christian populations.


Koutoubia Mosque

The name is derived from the Arabic al-Koutoubiyyin for librarian, since it used to be surrounded by sellers of manuscripts. Koutoubia Mosque.


My morning ritual, the sweetest  fresh squeezed orange juice , I’ve ever had.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


How can you resist such a beautiful face.



My experience as a solo woman traveler, made walking around the Souk an experience in itself. Needless to say you will be approached by all kinds of seller and  people wanting you to take photos with monkeys and snakes ect.. some people may Yell “Hey La gazelle” at you  and tattoo “artist” may just grab your hand and start  decorating ( just pull you hand away and say no), I just found that there are better places to get a henna tattoo). Of course it can get more annoying than dangerous , so either ignore or politely say no and move on.  I must admit I did take the monkey and snake photos. HaHaHA



Don’t be afraid to explore, if you get lost just ask for the golden doors. They are close to the exit.


Had a really funny experience the first day in the Souk. When I travel I don’t buy souvenirs but I always try to take home a pc of local art.While visiting an art gallery ,  the gallery owners daughter took a liking to me and decided I was the perfect woman to marry her brother Jamal.

So she started asking me questions about my status  and decided that since I was single , she was going to play match maker.I kept insisting that I had no intentions of getting married on my first day in Marrakesh , but she was insisting more than me.So she called her brother Jamal  , cause she figured , once I saw how handsome he was I was going to change my mind.

Jamal arrived and I agreed with her that her brother was handsome ( what else was I going to say LOL)  but I still was not getting married. Then she suggested that she would have her mother come and meet me , and probably seal the deal. Needless to say this was going a bit too far for me.I bought a lovely painting and told her I would be back after I have had time to think this proposal over.  Hahahaha

My almost sister in law  LOL
The man in question Jamal
No Clue what they are doing . possibly just passing time ,waiting to do henna tattoos.
The souk is separated into different departments , this is the Morrocan Olive market
Spices arranged  in pyramids , the scents are overwhelming.



Water bearer


Dancers entertain at night in the Plaza ( this is a boy dressed as a women)



Nightime  Jeema El Fna


Food stands built in the evening just for the night.



Snails anyone ? Delicious !!

There is so  much to see, do and experience in Marrakech.  I could not possibly cover it all, this was one day. a surprise waits at every corner. Marrakech is also inexpensive.

Please follow me for further blogs, on this amazing destination.  If you have question or experiences, good or bad  Please comment.


Club Med Cancun , Mexico

4.5 Star Hotel SPA

A beautiful Hotel .The ultimate all-inclusive family resort located at the tip of the iconic Riviera Maya. Lined by three white sand beaches alongside the world’s second largest coral reef. I Had the opportunity to stay at this location for a week end.  As you arrive , you are welcomed by a very friendly and helpful staff. The decor is very tropical  and I found the pink color to be quite soothing and welcoming.



The hotel is Spotless  and the rooms very welcoming.  Accommodations were modern and spotless. Staff was so friendly and super helpful.img_5404

Rooms very Clean and spacious. My room had a lovely balcony over the lagoon. If you miss breakfast because you were partying too late the night before , you can sit on the balcony and have your coffee.  Bathroom was very clean and spacious, and just in case you see the toilet missing , it’s in a little room all by itself next to the bathroom.   Don’t bring your blow dryer ,already equipped. The first night I passed out on the bed which was really very comfortable.DSC_5089

They have 3 restaurant on the premises ,Taco Arte Beach Lounge (reservation required for dinner )  The Estancia restaurant (reservations), and  La Hacienda restaurant , which is a buffet style available to all .

My favorite restaurant was the Cafe Arte and I must admit that I got addicted to their  marinated tuna. The food is very good and the staff makes the place , Such genuine friendliness. You need to make a reservation for dinner but can have lunch at your leisure. If you want to see and photograph  the best Sunset in Cancun , go to the bar , have a drink and wait to witness the sunset.,




Of Course Clubmed would not be Clubmed without the nightly entertainment . The G.O’s are unbelievable. The world class performances do amaze both young and old. The spa  and gym are all very nice.

Premium wine and liquor are also available and as you can see here , the staff wine tasting.


You can also book direct from the hotel , excursion to the pyramids, swimming and diving in the cenotes.

Of course lets not forget the beach, that’s why we are there.




Security is a very important priority when you travel and the Club does a very good job of having security all day and night. Did not have any  concerns.

Club-med Cancun did not disappoint  and I will surely return..

Morocco, inside the dyers souk of Marrakech.

On a very hot August day, while strolling thru the street of Marrakesh’s souk , I  was attracted by the beautiful color of  yarns hanging to dry.


I investigated further to find steam coming out of a cave like room made of stone.        The heat was intense and the steam almost blinding at times.



The colors are vibrant and all created with natural dyes.


The heat is indescribable , it must be experienced.
Hung to dry
This is the work that goes into a rug, 



Photographs Ingrid kaempfert