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Doing it The Czech Way--The Cesky Krumlov Hotels

Český Krumlov, the Czech Republic's answer to Camelot, is so fairy-tale perfect you half expect mini-chiclets to rain down on its cobbled streets. Marionettes deck the panes of its gingerbread shops. Bears roam a castle moat. And the town's very name describes the bend in the Vltava River that rings this UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 13th century.

It's no wonder Hollywood came here to shoot The Adventures of Pinocchio and opening frames of The Illusionist. All that's missing in the medieval fantasy set is a green ogre. Český Krumlov's mediating role between filmed artifice and real world makes it an ideal junction after summer's cinema rites in another corner of Bohemia, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
Yet unlike the spa town of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), this South Bohemia destination lacks thermal waters to drink in or splash about. The closest thing is the indoor pool, sauna and solarium of its five-star Hotel Růže, housed in a 16th-century Jesuit monastery and university.

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Getting On To The New Normal, NYC's New Year’s Eve Celebration in Times Square Returns Unrestrained

It was cold on Tuesday, but thankfully, not too cold as a few days before so I headed up 25 floors above One Times Square. Nothing would have stopped me from visiting the New Year’s ball with its myriad of glass crystals made by Ireland’s Waterford company. Joining a gaggle of international press, I made my way upstairs to head to the floor where I could see and touch THE BALL.

tom brenOver the years Fiskars — the owners of Waterford Crystal — Countdown Entertainment and The Times Square Alliance have invited journalists to view the ball as they prepare it for installation before it’s raised, then dropped, as New Year’s day kicks off. With 192 freshly designed crystals replacing those of the previous year –and photographed for this story — the ball’s presence is one constant in a life and a city full of many more changes than expected — or desired.

Though every New Year’s eve portends for a celebration that suggests a better year from the last, this year’s ceremony means so much more. After such a tumultuous 2022 with political and economic turmoil front and center of many people’s minds, there is more hope than ever that 2023 will build on 2022 to make for a better world and life for the planet.

Finally, this year’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square is back to normal and the crowds are allowed to return to the city center unhampered. Though the current triple threat of respiratory infections suggests that people should mask up, it’s not mandatory. In-person shopping has even surged this season and people are hitting restaurants and events — though not quite in the numbers hoped for — unabated.

So there I was, posing before it, seeing it in the light of day — getting a view behind the veil as you can see from the pictures included here. Talking with the Fiskars’ point person Tom Brennan — who was among those fine folks that were there — about the pleasure of seeing him again and this return to normal, he pointed me in the direction of a fact sheet on the Ball’s history

With that in mind I thought to include a few of those facts about the ball. The actual notion of a ball “dropping” to signal the passage of time dates back long before New Year’s Eve was ever celebrated in Times Square. The first “time-ball” was installed atop England’s Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833.

For Times Square 2000, the millennium celebration at the Crossroads of the World, the New Year’s Eve Ball was completely redesigned by Waterford Crystal and Philips Lighting.  Waterford has been fitting the Times Square Ball with brilliant crystal panels since then. The crystal Ball combined the latest in lighting technology with the most traditional of materials, reminding us of our past as we gazed into the future and the beginning of a new millennium.

The inaugural New Year’s Eve bash, held in 1904, commemorated the official opening of the headquarters of The New York Times with a fireworks display at midnight. Since 1999, replacements for the 2,688 crystal panels that make up the ball have been designed and made by hand by Irish craftsmen at Waterford.

Each year, millions of eyes from all over the world are focused on the sparkling Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball. At 11:59 p.m., the Ball begins its descent as millions of voices unite to countdown the final seconds of the year, and celebrate the beginning of another new year.

Actor Stanley Tucci Learns a Thing of Two About Olive Oil Thanks to The Petroni Way


When actor Stanley Tucci came to visit the Petroni family olive groves in Puglia to film a segment for CNN’s “Searching For Italy,” he was trying discover the authentic Italian olive oil experience. Tucci loves food and now lives in London with his wife Felicity Blunt — sister of his Devil Wears Prada co-star Emily Blunt. The couple met thanks to Emily and were married in 2012 with Tucci continuing to act, write and follow his love of food and cooking.

His latest project — the CNN produced series “Searching for Italy” — received two Emmy noms and was also screened by the BBC. First aired in 2021, The program was so successful it was renewed for another season. The actor and gourmand tours Italy discovering the secrets and delights of the country’s regional cuisines.

The Petroni family patriarch expected to meet an experienced pro when it came to Italian products. Especially since he is Italian, they thought, at least, he would know a few things about Italian food, in particular, olive oil. Petroni had invited Tucci to the family farm’s olive groves that day while he visited Puglia, Italy, during a taping of “Searching for Italy.”

During the visit, revealed Agricola Petroni family owner Pier Francesco Petroni, they learned a few things about Tucci. “Stanley didn’t know the correct way to taste olive oil. In fact, most people don’t know. But we showed him how. And he loved it.”

petroniLOnce the noted actor learned the “right way” to taste olive oil, it not only changed him, it changed the Petroni family business forever and has created a sensation here in the States.

Says Pier, “Our sales have more than tripled to the U.S. And this is just from orders through our website. We are looking for an importer/distributor to take us on for all of the American market.”

Tucci isn’t the only American who doesn’t know much about olive oil. According to Petroni, while Americans love Italian food, most of us are totally doing olive oil all wrong – especially the extra virgin variety. According the taste master, “Americans burn it, drench with it, and (gasp!) Deep fry stuff in it.”

Surveys have also shown Americans have a very low OOIQ (Olive Oil IQ). Olive oil is becoming such an important and essential product for people’s good health, the FDA recently declared it as a medicinal product that can help prevent coronary heart disease. It’s not an ordinary condiment. the FDA officially recognized extra-virgin olive oil benefits us.

The featured olive oil, some of which is born from 300-year-old trees, is considered some of the best in Italy. Petroni olive trees are located at the foot of the Alta Murgia National Park in Puglia, between 150 and 300 meters above sea level and the temperate climate makes their cultivation perfect. In this wonderfully rich land, each olive tree has its roots in a calcareous soul consisting of the typical tuff, a rock of magmatic origin that gives the oils produced intoxicating aromas and superfine flavors.

Adds Petroni, “We have over one thousand years of history. Our territory is Canosa di Puglia and it has charm and it has so many ancient customs. It contains ancient traces of so much history. The underground treasures of what is known as The Dauni hypogea, fragments of the world of Magna Graecia and it shows just how powerful and far reaching the power of Rome was. In fact, the Romans were so grateful to have these places they renamed it ‘Little Rome.’ Inside this ancient city there are numerous archaeological sites to visit including the hypogea and authentic ceramics that reveal the Hellenistic culture.”

Agricola Petroni does olive oil tastings at their Puglia facility. Should you decide to visit, call or email in advance and schedule a visit.

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Summer at the South Street Seaport Museum


Looking to enjoy some history while taking in the warm summer weather? The South Street Seaport Museum has you covered. The South Street Seaport Museum has announced their summer exhibitions, sailing season, and events at 12 Fulton St and on Pier 16. The free exhibitions on offer include the new, introductory gallery South Street and the Rise of New York, as well as a newly reconfigured return of the popular Millions: Migrants and Millionaires Aboard the Great Liners, 1900-1914.

Also now open is Seaport Discovery: Exploring Our Waters with Eric Carle, a discovery room of maritime-themed art by the late Eric Carle, beloved creator of picture books for young children. Each exhibition and the Eric Carle discovery room will be open to the public on Wednesdays through Sundays from 11am to 5pm. In addition, tall ship Wavertree, lightship Ambrose, and the outdoor exhibition on Pier 16 are continuing to welcome visitors for free on Wednesdays through Sundays from 11am to 5pm. General Admission includes access to the galleries and Wavertree, and advanced timed tickets can be reserved at, where you can also choose to add on a free guided tour of the Ambrose or $5 tickets to the Eric Carle discovery room.

The 2022 sailing season for 1885 schooner Pioneer and rides aboard the 1930 tugboat W.O. Decker is now underway, with departures from Pier 16 (Fulton and South Streets) through October 30, 2022. Tickets for rides aboard Pioneer and Decker are available at

Monthly upcoming public programs include Sea Chanteys and Maritime Music Live Sing-Along, Vinyasa on a Vessel, a sail freight cargo delivery by schooner Apollonia, Coffee with Captains, and more to be announced. For more information, visit

Vinyasa on a Vessel
Starting May 21, 2022, join the South Street Seaport Museum for a 60 minute vinyasa-based yoga practice on the deck of the tall ship Wavertree. Start your Sunday with a mindful and physical practice that is accessible and challenging for all levels, peppered with information about the Wavertree itself. The practice will be followed by a tour of Wavertree for anyone who wishes to participate. Yoga will continue every third Sunday through August. The event is free, and registration is required at

Coffee with Captains
The Seaport Museum is partnering with schooner Apollonia to bring sail freight cargo like cider, wool, and honey from the Hudson Valley to Pier 16 between May and October. See Apollonia deliver her cargo and join a rotating selection of ship captains, including Apollonia‘s Capt. Sam Merrett, for coffee brought to shore that morning. Meet some of the crew who will share sailing stories and answer your questions about sailing, navigation, and sustainable shipping. Apollonia will dock at Pier 16 on May 28, June 25, August 27, September 24, and October 22. The event is free, and advanced registration is recommended at

Apollonia Boat Boxes
Members of the public are invited to order a monthly Boat Box subscription for pick up on Pier 16. This is a new offering for Apollonia's second sail freight season hauling goods down the Hudson River to New York Harbor. Each Boat Box contains a number of Hudson Valley goods sourced from local shipping partners, ranging from maple syrup to hot sauce to soap. Proceeds from the Boat Box sales go directly to pay the sailors aboard Apollonia to keep her low carbon mission sailing along. Orders must be placed at least 10 days before scheduled delivery dates of May 28, June 25, August 27, September 24, and October 22. For more information, visit

June Sea Chanteys and Maritime Music Live Sing-Along
South Street Seaport Museum’s monthly sea-music event Sea Chanteys and Maritime Music – the original NYC chantey sing, now made popular on TikTok – continues on Sunday, June 5, 2022 at 2pm ET, in-person aboard tall ship Wavertree. Join a round-robin of shared songs featuring members of The New York Packet and friends. Singers of all levels, as well as listeners, are welcome to lead or request a song, join in the choruses, or just listen as we present traditional maritime work songs and ballads on the first Sunday of every month. The event is FREE. For more information and to sign up, visit

Sail the New York Harbor on 1885 Schooner Pioneer
The only place to sail New York Harbor aboard a historic 1885 schooner! See the sights of New York Harbor, the magnificent Lower Manhattan skyline, and Governors Island from the decks of this National Register of Historic Places-listed vessel. Bring your family for an afternoon sail, a date for a sunset sail, or just yourself to enjoy history at sea. See the city from a new perspective as you grab a halyard to help raise a sail or simply sit back and enjoy the view. Bring a picnic lunch or dinner, afternoon snack, beverages, or a bottle of wine to enjoy on your two-hour sail.

Take a Ride on 1930 Tugboat W.O. Decker
Take an exciting 75-minute ride on the last surviving New York-built wooden tugboat W.O. Decker, recently named "Tugboat of the Year" by the Steamship Historical Society of America. Cruises will explore New York Harbor, and views may include the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Battery, and Governors Island, as you set out on an adventure unlike any you've had before!


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