Would You Live In A Haunted House?

The New York State Ghostbuster Law

We drove to Nyack to see the house on the right at the dead end street overlooking the Hudson River. It’s haunted. In 1991, a couple in contract to buy it, suddenly wanted their down payment returned when they learned the house had ghosts. They had to take the case to the New York Appellate Court which ruled in their favor. The case is known as Stambovsky v. Ackley And New York State laws now says that an owner has to disclose if a house is haunted. Not too many people know about the law or the house, except for real estate agents and law students.

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Our Visit to Laveta Place

A Mini Cooper convertible was parked in front of the house when we arrived, but it didn’t look like anyone was home so we took our picture in front and then walked across the street to a similar house that had a for rent sign. I walked up to knock on the front door but I could see through the window that the house was completely empty, except for a rocking chair. The wraparound porch has spectacular views of the Hudson River. We took our photo.

This empty house felt more haunted than the famous one. A former owner of the 1 Laveta Place home described the ghosts as two girls in 18th century hoop skirts and a small man in a red coat, which indicates a British soldier from that era.

No one was home in either of the houses at the end of this street when we visited, but it didn’t feel like we were alone. A case of nerves, maybe…? Or maybe not…

You might thing that buying a known haunted house would mean a discount. The house the law was written for is valued by Zillow.com at $2.2 million. The other house, the one in our Instagram post, is valued at $5.3 million. It’s much larger, modern and has a stone staircase leading to a tile and stone deck at the riverside!

Do you believe in ghosts?

A HuffPost/You.gov poll found that 43% of people in the United States believe in them. A Chapman University poll found 53% of their survey believe. The comments on my Instagram post were a mix. I imagine the four people who have bought the house in these past 28 years didn’t believe in ghosts, but they didn’t keep the house for very long. This is a house by the water and water is a portal for spirits. That’s why bridges are often rumored to be haunted.

This entire Hudson Valley is filled with rumors and stories of ghosts. From the porch in my photo, you can see the town of Sleepy Hollow, the setting in the famous Legend of Sleepy Hollow! written by Washington Irving in 1820. The famous haunted scene of the story is of the headless horseman on a bridge!.

Last Halloween, we visited Washington Irving’s home for a Halloween tour (Instagram post just above). If you had strong binoculars, you would be able to see the Nyack homes acrosss the river.

Spooky Photo

Are ghosts real? That’s for you to decide…

My grandmother always told me, “Don’t be afraid of the dead, be afraid of the living.”

I’ll leave you with this last photo taken during a visit to someone’s house. The window is too high for this to be a person in the window.

It sure looks like Coco is trying to alert us to something…. In this case, there was no one in the window! It’s just a shadow of a wooden post!


Sunday Stills is a great inspiration for new blog posts! I often come up with ideas I would never have thought about. Come join us!


Would You Stay In This Unusual Lighthouse Hotel:

Saugerties Lighthouse: This Hotel Is Like Nothing You’ve Ever Imagined!

Saugerties Lighthouse: This Hotel Is Like Nothing You’ve Ever Imagined!

Saugerties Lighthouse (built in 1869) to signal ships on the river that the town’s harbor was here. It’s now a hotel.

Before going sightseeing in town, check if the high tide will prevent you from returning to your hotel. On my Instagram post (further below), one person couldn’t believe the hotel would let you be stranded away from your room. He thought there must be a boat. Well, there isn’t. That’s why they suggest you pack your belongings in a small backpack. My Insta-friend shouldn’t feel bad for expecting a boat. I did too, and so did some other people we found along the trail.

Even in low tide, make sure you’re back before sunset when the trail closes. It’s the only way back unless you have your own boat to dock. You wouldn’t want to walk the half mile after dark anyway. It’s not the distance, it’s the terrain. You’ll walk through sand and over little wooden bridges and you’d have nothing but moonlight and your cell phone flashlight to guide you.

The tall grass in July along the trail to Saugerties Lighthouse hotel.

This is a trail that can flood at times so you really don’t know what you’ll find on the path. The soggy terrain has caused several big trees along the path to fall over and you see the bottom of the trees like a wall as you pass by. This is a sandbar with sediments from an 1888-89 channelization project. There are 100 species of flora here.

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I’m looking at the roots of a fallen tree!

Facts About The Hudson River

I told you this is a river. It’s the Hudson River, but it has tides. That’s because it’s not exactly a river. It’s a 153-mile estuary with currents in two directions and contains both salt and fresh water. The river has two high tides and two low tides in every 24 hour period.

Things To Do

So you already know you will be at the hotel between sunset and sunrise, and maybe during the day, depending on the tides. That’s why the lighthouse recommends you bring fishing tackle, swim wear, books, knitting… anything to stay occupied. They tell you to bring your favorite snacks and beverages, too.

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There’s a separate tiny island where you can eat or just relax. Btw, my husband almost never wants to appear in a photo


 

So You Still Want To Spend A Night At Saugerties?

You will have to book far in advance. The hotel has just two rooms and one shared bathroom, and it’s difficult to book. They recommend you get on an availability email list. When I checked at the end of July, the earliest reservation was for January 3rd. Here you go: www.saugertieslighthouse.com

The Appeal Of Saugerties:

The views are beautiful and the lighthouse is romantic. You are completely alone at night. Even the hotel staff may not always be present. There’s a little island deck alongside the lighthouse which is a wonderful place to eat or just sit and relax.

So, would you stay in a place like this?

Make you need a quiet place to relax under the moonlight and forget the world for a day or two. Or maybe you would feel trapped.

Day Trip To Saugerties

You can also visit Saugerties for the day. Bring your lunch and eat on the deck where my husband is sitting in the photo. You can call ahead for a tour on the weekend. It’s free, but with a suggested $5 contribution ($3 for children).

You won’t be able to see the lighthouse at night, unless you can rent a boat. Then you can get some awesome photos!

Let me know in the comments.


Sunday Stills is a fun weekly photo challenge, open to all bloggers!


If you feel like reading a little more, try this recent post:

The House By The Railroad, Or, Feelings Of Loneliness & Isolation

Drunk With… The Emotion Of The Moment! France Wins The World Cup 2018!

Our sunset cruise on the River Seine in Paris was at the same time as the World Cup semi-final between Belgium and France.

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It was a perfect hour for a river cruise as we got to enjoy each phase of the sunset, the golden hour, the pink clouds… and as we passed restaurants along the river, we could see the large screen televisions and hear the people cheering on France. We heard France’s first goal from the boat and we felt the excitement of the people of Paris! Travel is at its best when you feel you are part of a place!

At the end of the cruise, the streets around the Eiffel Tower were wild with honking horns and people wearing the French flag as capes. Our metro ride back to the hotel was exciting and a little scary when the train stopped in the tunnel and the power went out. There was very little air and it was very hot!

It wasn’t all of Paris in euphoria. We had to transfer to another train and this one was very calm.

The Final Game: France vs. Croatia

We arrived in Montpellier and went to the beach late that afternoon and when the game begin, the restaurant on the boardwalk was absolutely full. We asked for a table for dinner to watch the game but they weren’t serving dinner. The cooks and waiters were watching the game too.

We drove back to the hotel, changed and ran into the plaza up the block where each restaurant had a crowd of people in front, cheering on France.

The streets were lined with police vans and riot police. My Insta-friend Emma (@blugalen) from Florence, Italy, started messaging me through Instagram, excited that I would experience the European soccer euphoria up close! My other Insta-friend Mai (@lotus_jazz) from Paris was messaging me the night before during the Bastille Day celebrations. I will never forget how they thought of me at these moments!

All of the tourists watched from a distance in the plaza, a little concerned about how people in the town would react.

We still hadn’t eaten but now it was impossible. The restaurants were completely full to capacity with people getting very drunk. We found a tiny supermarket which was also full of people buying wine and beer. The streets were a little frightening. The next morning, part of the hotel window was shattered.

It was fun to be part of the moment but I also loved this Croatian team. The following day, someone sent me a video about the Croatian players who were refugees. I love watching the exciting World Cup games but in sports, the human stories are always my favorite part.

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Sunday Stills: Embrace (Plus, A Brief history of NYC That You Never Knew)

The NYC skyline

Welcome to Terri’s Photo Challenge: Sunday Stills! This weeks them is Embrace.

I embraced New York City, my home for the past 20 years! In this post I will tell you briefly an important story of NYC that you never knew!

 

At one time, New York City consisted only of Manhattan island. Brooklyn was its own city too, but it was much smaller than it is today. Queens was made of many separate towns.

The old railway tracks by the river

Ferries brought merchandise to the water fronts where the merchandise was transferred to trains.

So How And Why Did All Of The Towns And Cities Unite?

Brooklyn was incorporating many of the surrounding towns and growing fast. However, Chicago was growing very fast and was in a position of becoming the largest city in the United States. This meant that the largest corporations might move to Chicago, causing a collapse in New York City real estate prices.

The NYC skyline

The decision to incorporate into New York City was left to a vote by all of the surrounding towns and cities. The results were so close, but after millions of Brooklyn votes were counted, the yes vote won… by just 277! If Brooklyn hadn’t recently incorporated the neighboring towns of Bushwick and Williamsburg, the results would have been very different, since people in these two towns voted overwhelmingly in favor of becoming part of NYC. Some people stilll call this The Great Mistake of 1898! Only the town of Yonkers voted no, and it remains its own town, just north of the Bronx.

We went to the Long Island City waterfront on Friday night to take photos for this post 😉 Of course, Long Island City was its own city, although it’s now part of Queens.

The Bowery Boys do a fun podcast about New York City, full of interesting facts and highly entertaining stories!


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Costa Rica With Caravan Tours, part 2

The Nicaraguan border

Rio Frío Cruise to Nicaragua, War and… Relaxation

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It was early in the morning and we were headed to Los Chiles, a border town close to Nicaragua where we boarded a river boat on the Rio Frío (the Cold River).

Bats along the bank of the Rio Frió
Long-nosed bats along the bank of the Rio Frió

Rolando pointed out howler monkeys and spider monkeys in the trees, caiman in the river, many different types of birds, iguana and other animals.

Google Maps Almost Caused A War…

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In 2010, when Nicaragua saw that Google maps placed a disputed territory in Nicaragua, they declared this to be Nicaraguan territory.

Costa Rica’s deputy foreign minister complained to Google and the map was adjusted, but Nicaragua left 50 soldiers in the disputed area, holding onto the claim. Costa Rica has no military,

The disagreement dates all the way back to a succession vote in some border towns back in 1824.

Costa Rica moved the fight to the U.N. Security Council and a decision was just reached in February 2018, returning the territory to Costa Rica.

Interesting!

When our bus passed a baseball field, Rolando said this was for Nicaraguan migrant workers, since Costa Ricans don’t play baseball.


The Nicaraguan border
We made it to the Nicaraguan border. There were no soldiers waiting to capture us!

Volcanic Hot Springs

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We ate lunch in Los Chiles, the border town on the Costa Rican side, and then headed back to the hotel to shower and take a five-minute bus ride to the volcanic hot springs at the base of Arenal Volcano to soothe our tired muscles from all the running around we were doing. I don’t have photos (except this one right above) since it’s not practical to wade through hot sulphuric water with a camera raised in one hand so it doesn’t get wet, but these springs were built right in volcanic rock! There are acres and acres of springs to relax in.

The Hanging Bridges of Arenal National Park

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Early the next morning, Rolando brought us to walk the hanging bridges at the upper level of the rainforest canopy. There are hills so you’re still walking on ground, but there are parts where you cross through the canopy on hanging bridges.

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A naturalist park guide takes you through and he’s an expert at spotting the snakes, birds and groups of biting ants (don’t wear open-toe shoes!). He also explained the vegetation and the climate to us.

Guanacaste Marriott Resort

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By day 6, it already felt like a long, busy trip and everyone appreciated the stay at the 5-star Marriott, with its infinity pool, private beach, luxurious buffets and an open bar for three hours in the afternoon!

Varied Climate

Costa Rica is a small country but has a varied climate. We had been in higher altitudes where it’s cooler and more humid. If you live in these areas, you’ll find moss on the clothing in your closet.


Now we were on Costa Rica’s west coast, which is dryer and much hotter. On the bus, Rolando pointed out the drastic change in landscape. We arrived in Guanacaste, full of resorts with its perfect beach weather.


 

Manuel Antonio National Park

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The last stop was Manuel Antonio National Park. Our hotel had a rooftop bar with a view of the rainforest and the ocean behind it! Each room also had a view of the rainforest and again, we were able to hear all of the animals at night, as well as see some monkeys from your hotel room window.

Rolando had to take an elderly gentleman to the nearest hospital, over two hours away. The man was dehydrated. Rolando warned us from the beginning:

  1. Eat yogurt every morning to help you with digestion
  2. Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration

Caravan provides you with a fresh bottle of water every two days with unlimited refills of filtered water from a dispenser on the bus.

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The next morning, Rolando brought everyone into Manuel Antonio National Park for a sunrise tour, but we opted out. We took a taxi into Quepos, the nearby coastal city. The two things we lacked on this wonderful tour was time alone, and the opportunity to explore on our own and meet new people.

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We dined alone, too. We took a taxi to El Avion (the airplane) restaurant for a sunset dinner. The restaurant is built around an old Fairchild C-123 cargo plane that President Reagan’s military used in their secret Iran-Contra operations, where the United States sold arms to Iran. The money was used to fund operations against the Contras, the paramilitary group fighting the Sandinistas. This plane was shot down over Nicaragua. Years later, the restaurant owners bought it, shipped it to Costa Rica for their restaurant.

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The fuselage is a bar. Walk through the fuselage and you enter onto a large patio restaurant with a breathtaking view of the ocean!

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Don’t worry about the geckos on the ceiling. They eat insects.

I have written about the highlights, but we saw much more, including sloths and iguanas. Whereas Guatemala was all about the Maya, as you can tell, Costa Rica is all about wildlife.

What Makes Caravan Such A Good Deal?

Our traveling companions ranged in age between 4 to 80 and everyone got along well.

Although we prefer traveling on our own, it’s not as affordable as a Costa Rica package tour like this one from Caravan. Airport pickup, all meals included, beautiful hotels, all day tours paid for, all you can drink at open bars at two hotels, and a highly-skilled tour guide for a 9 day tour at $1,195 during peak travel season is what they promise and exactly what you get!

Did you read part 1?

Costa Rica With Caravan Tours

WPC: Smile

Ozgur, Chef Hatice and me in the kitchen of Restaurant Olive Anatolian
Ozgur, Chef Hatice and me in the kitchen of Restaurant Olive Anatolian
Sharing a smile with Chef Hatice and Ozgür

During our visit to Istanbul, I took a private 2-hour cooking class with Chef Hatice and Ozgür at Olive Anatolian restaurant. After the class, Dan and I went back to our hotel room, showered, and returned to the restaurant to eat the meal I had prepared.

Connecting with people is one of the main reasons to travel. It’s why I opened an Instagram account.

Cooking is an international language. My love of cooking gave us a lot to talk about. It was so much fun to learn the culinary similarities and differences. It was also so nice to share this time and Smile with Chef Hatice and Ozgür!

Interesting!

Once when I was in a restaurant in Caracas, Venezuela, I asked the waiter if the chef was Peruvian. The chef later came out to meet me, so surprised that I could tell by his cooking!


In Istanbul, connecting with people felt very challenging at first, even though Istanbul has always been the city where I’ve had the most Instagram followers!

My Instagram Followers by City

Chart showing Istanbul as the city where I have the most Instagram followers
Cities where I have the most Instagram followers
  1. Read about our experience with culture shock…
  2. Learn how we finally connected with people…
  3. See how my meal came out!

How To Survive Culture Shock: Our Week In Istanbul

I highly recommend Olive Anatolian restaurant for the great food and the breathtaking views of the Bosphorus River and the Hagia Sophia!

Costa Rica With Caravan Tours

When I showed Dan the small Caravan Tours ad in Real Simple magazine, he immediately began reading dozens of glowing Trip Advisor reviews and, within the hour, we began our way through the booking process for our Costa Rica tour vacation.

This would be our first group tour since we like to explore on our own, talk to people, and make spontaneous decisions about what to do next. But this would be an extra trip that year and the value was too good to pass up! There’s no way that you can match the high-volume discounts that Caravan Tours receives.

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Sunday Stills Photo Challenge

The 9 days were packed with activities and filled with information from our knowledgeable and entertaining guide, Rolando. Rolando was one of the highlights of the trip, teaching us about Costa Rican history and culture, spotting animals and arranging for all of our needs, while making us laugh the entire time! Rolando is a Tico (Costa Rican) but speaks flawless English!

I won’t write about every single thing we saw, just the best parts… Costa Rica tourism offers a lot

Poás Volcano and the Escalonia Cloud Forest

At the mouth of Poás Volcano in Costa Rica

Rolando brought us to the mouth of the volcano, an elevation of 2,574 meters (8,860 feet). Poás Volcano is sulphuric, so that means there’s no lava. These sulphuric gases you see cause acid rain. You cannot stay here for too long.

The volcano was temporarily closed in 2017 due to volcanic eruptions.

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Poás is next to the Escalonia Cloud Forest, where we got to explore on our own. A cloud forest is like a rain forest, but it’s high in humidity with much less rainfall than a rain forest. The walk was perfect to unwind from work stress.

Doka Estate Coffee Plantation

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Poás is also a region of quality coffee production, so our next stop was the Doka Estate coffee plantation. Here we learned about the region’s coffee production and this plantation’s process of growing the coffee beans and producing high quality coffee.

The guide explained how some countries opt to produce high quantities/low quality and others opt for low quantities/high quality. Costa Rica’s coffee is high quality.

Arenal Region

Town of Fortuna
The town of Fortuna with the Arenal volcano behind us.

We arrived at the town of La Fortuna near Arenal volcano, just in time for lunch and some free time in town. We ate and then headed straight for the supermarket, one of our favorite things to visit wherever we go!

Moving To Costa Rica

Many Americans, Canadians, Europeans and Austrailians have moved to Costa Rica for its simple, slow lifestyle, beautiful landscapes and its low-cost living. Rolando even told the group the income required and the paperwork that needs to be done to become a legal resident. Costa Rica is on our list of possible places to live.


Arenal Manoa Hotel and Crossing an Alligator Swamp In The Dark

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Everyone was excited to see how beautiful the hotel was! Each cabin had a patio and a view of the volcano.

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I had been teasing Dan, telling him there would be flying ants at dinner. Once at a hotel on Margarita Island in Venezuela, flying ants swooped onto our plates as soon as the waiter set them down on the table. I was comfortable just pushing them off with my knife with each bite, but Dan couldn’t eat a thing that night.

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I teased him but he had his revenge… fast! The restaurant was a ten-minute walk along a dark path. We used Dan’s iPhone flashlight to see where we were going and to make sure we wouldn’t fall off the bridge into an alligator swamp.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while or my Instagram, you know that the one thing I’m terrified of is frogs. As we were walking to dinner, Dan shined his flashlight and illuminated several frogs in our path! We made it passed the frogs and across a bridge, over what looked like it could be an alligator swamp. The restaurant had a full buffet ready for us and it was delicious! Luckily, there were no flying ants at the restaurant.

Bed(time) & Breakfast

When we turned out the lights to sleep, there was total darkness and we could hear the symphony of animals outside. We slept very well that night, until the alarm went off.

We headed for breakfast early. In the morning light, we could see that the “alligator swamp” was really just a stream…

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We wanted enough time to eat breakfast and make sure we were fully packed for the next adventure. We remembered how Rolando had explained to all of us the difference between a tourist and a hitchhiker (“5 minutes” 😮 meaning, “Don’t be late!”). This next day turned out to be a lot of fun, full of adventure as we headed up the river into Nicaragua and found ourselves in the middle of an international border dispute and later enjoyed the most beautiful volcanic hot springs I could ever imagine!

View from breakfast at Arenal Manoa hotel
Buffet breakfast at Arenal Manoa hotel with Ana

Continue to Part 2

  • Will everyone make it back from the river cruise into Nicaragua, right in the middle of an international border dispute?!
  • Relaxing in the volcanic hot springs at the base of Arenal volcano
  • Enjoying luxury and drunkenness… in Costa Rica???
  • And more…

Costa Rica With Caravan Tours, part 2