Story and photos by Mark Wessel

This article is from the February 2018 Issue of Forever Young

FYng Feb 2018 Vienna Market

When I first visited Vienna in 2016, the city’s promotional theme was ‘Vienna, Now or Never.” It was inspired by the fact that the city had been recognized that year by consulting firm Mercer, as number one in the world for quality of living. So the thought process was that you really should go there to find out what the fuss is all about, or perhaps you never will. Of course, what those crafty Viennese knew all along is that once you experience this achingly beautiful city, you will feel the urge to return from the moment you depart; and that urge will stay with you until you go back again.

Last summer, a little more than a year after my first visit, our 30th anniversary was more than enough justification to both share not only some of my favourite Vienna experiences with my wife Dee-Anne, but also to continue to explore the city’s enticing mix of old an new, with each district possessing its own unique character.

For those who have never visited, Vienna conjures up the image of the city as the birthplace of Mozart (and Marie Antoinette), home of the world class Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna Boys’ Choir and arguably, the centre of the classical music universe (although the Germans and Italians may wish to dispute that. And while all of that is true, Vienna is so much more.

But far from being a museum piece, Vienna’s vibrancy stems from the fact that it is constantly reinventing itself and finding new ways to showcase the old with the new. The first time this reality hit home was when we checked in to the grätzlhotel. The whole premise behind grätzlhotel’s unique experiential model, is to transform abandoned stores into hotel rooms. So instead of the stereotypical bricks and mortar of most hotels, grätzlhotel consists of a pod of suites situated in different neighbourhoods throughout the city.

We stayed in the grätzlhotel Karmelitermarkt neighbourhood and in the spirit of what’s old is new again, our lamplighter suite, which was once a lighting store, had been transformed into a tastefully decorated self-contained suite. In addition, blending functionality with art by showcasing some of the former store’s lighting fixtures, we found the suite had much more of an apartment feel to it, with a stainless-steel kitchenette, a full-sized kitchen table on the lower level, and a few steps up, an open concept bathroom and bedroom area.

The great thing about the grätzlhotel concept is that instead of staying in a hotel district as a tourist, you are ensconced in a lively neighbourhood, replete with hip shops and restaurants and as the Karmelitermarktr name suggests, a full-blown farmers’ market every weekend. And because we were staying in a former storefront operation, everything was literally at our doorstep. So on any given day, we would walk over to the bakery for fresh baked goods, I would traipse around the corner while wife Dee was exploring the shops to patronize Brendl, which showcases local microbrews. Or we’d grab a late-night snack and cocktails at Tewa am Markt, the local Israeli restaurant specializing in organic Mediterranean cuisine.

Winter Getaway in Southern France a Culturally Rich Experience

By Dee-Anne Wessel

This article is from the January 2018 Issue of Forever Young

FYNg Jan 2018 Feature Image
Narbonne’s historic core features a network of narrow streets and hidden shops waiting to be discovered.

We’re fair weather travellers. Neither myself, husband Mark or 17-year-old daughter Kate are content to lie on a crowded beach and soak up the sun as we’d much rather be on the move making new discoveries in a temperate climate. Which is why we find ourselves in the idyllic region of Occitanie in southern France with the plan to explore the charming city of Narbonne and its outlying areas before making our way north to vibrant Montpellier, France’s fastest growing city.

Narbonne – A Historic Centre with a Canal Running Through It

We take a relaxing trip aboard a high speed train from Paris and arrive four and a half hours later in Narbonne. Founded by the Romans in 118 B.C., one of the most striking features of the city is the scenic Canal de la Robine that runs through its heart with its inviting promenades and Merchants’ Bridge - an inhabited bridge that is an UNESCO listed sight.

The historic centre of Narbonne is easily explored on foot and our first stop is the Archbishops’ Palace, now home to the museums of archeology and art and history. We climb the 180 steps to the top and are rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view of the town and surrounding countryside and upon descent take a few moments to contemplate in the peaceful garden adjoining the 14th century cloister.

Next we visit Saint-Just-et-Saint-Pasteur Cathedral, the tallest in southern France whose unfinished nave provides a fascinating insight into ancient construction techniques. We venture below the surface and explore the Roman Horreum where background voices and lights bring the impressive 1st century B.C. warehouse eerily to life. In the centre of town, we view the Via Domitia, part of an original Roman road that was uncovered in 1997.

We’ve worked up an appetite so we head over to Les Halles, one of Frances’s most beautiful covered markets. Inside the iron and glass structure are 66 stalls offering a fantastic selection of produce as well as olives, cheese, meat, seafood, fruit, flowers and wine. Lively, vibrant and open daily it is an important meeting place for locals. “Narbonne is here,” says guide Christophe Cabier.

Narbonne is also a convenient home base for many other excursions. Our adventures include a biking tour with Languedoc V.T.T. Evasion along the Canal de la Robine with magnificent views of the lagoon, coastal ponds, the Mediterranean Sea and a stop at Saint Lucie Island. Guide Hugo Blanquier hangs back with me when I find the return 10 km ride into the wind challenging.>> We visit Gruissan, a medieval fishing village that is built in a spiral around the Barberousse Tower, where we enjoy a guided Segway tour of the harbour, stroll the back streets of the village and walk along the wide, open beach famous for its wind surfing and unique stilt chalets. We stop at the The Saltern of Saint Martin’s Island and wander through the Eco Museum and Boutique before having a simple lunch of fish and meat cooked in a crust of natural salt accompanied by local wines at its rustic outdoor restaur
ant with its stunning views of rosy salt evaporation ponds.

This article is from the December 2017 Issue of Forever Young

When you think about The Salvation Army, what comes to mind? Sure, we know they are there to help those in need, but who exactly are those in “need”?

This past summer, thousands of people who have never been on welfare, never been short of groceries or needed a food hamper, found themselves being helped out by The Salvation Army due to the 2017 floods and fires.

The first stream of new arrivals began flowing through the Kelowna Salvation Army doors on May 5. “We partnered with the Emergency Social Support Services here in the Central Okanagan and opened our doors for those impacted by local flooding,” says Pastor Darryl Burry of the Kelowna branch of The Salvation Army, “so all the month of May and most of June, we were dealing with people impacted with flooding.”

Once the flooding receded towards the end of June, it was just over two weeks later when a whole new group of people found themselves at the doors of The Salvation Army as victims of what turned out to be the worst fire season in the history of B.C. “With the exception of an 18 day gap, we went straight through from May 5 to Aug 26,” notes Pastor Darryl.

“For the most part, when we partner with ESS, they come in and provide for those who cannot go home,” he says, “and our role is to help with emotional support and the immediate things they need. For instance, there were a number of families who had to evacuate very quickly and they fled without enough diapers or formula, so we are able to provide those immediate needs.”

But the biggest help the Salvation Army played over the summer to their new acquaintances was providing emotional support. “We’re able to provide that listening ear because there is a huge fear for them of wondering, will we ever be able to go home again,” notes the Pastor.

“Over the course of the summer, we had more than 3000 people – not just from our local area but from all over the province – come through our doors to register and we had the chance to walk alongside them.”

From the fire victims in Lake Country to those who watched their new condos on Lakeshore Road go up in flames, the shell-shocked faces that arrived at The Salvation Army were not the low income people we usually consider to be those most in need.

This article is from the November 2017 Issue of Forever Young

 FYng Nov 2017 Feature


By Tom Morrow

Bob Hope was an actor, singer, vaudevillian, dancer, athlete and author. He is best remembered as a wise-cracking comedian. He’s so fresh in many minds that it’s difficult to wrap around the thought that he’s been gone for almost a decade and a half.

Leslie Townes Hope was four-years old when his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, from suburban London, where he was born May 29, 1903. It was an inauspicious start for the man who would become one of the world’s most famous entertainers for most of the 20th century.

During a career that spanned some 80 years, he appeared in more than 70 feature films, including a series of “Road” movies and long-time friend, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour (who often was befuddled by the on-camera ad-libs between the two buddies), hosted the Academy Awards a record 19 times, appeared on stage and television, and wrote 14 books. The song “Thanks for the Memories” became his signature song.

Hope began his show-business life on stage in the early 1920s and moved on to radio in the ‘30s with his one-liners and rapid-fire delivery of jokes.

His Hollywood debut was with Paramount Pictures in the 1938 film The Big Broadcast of 1938, which also starred comic W. C. Fields.

Hope also is remembered for his travels to entertain U.S. military personnel. He made 57 tours for the USO between 1941 and 1991.

His first USO show was May 6, 1941, at March Field near Riverside, Calif. He entertained troops during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War as well as American military men in the Iran–Iraq War and the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War.

During the Vietnam War, Hope’s pro-troop stance made him a target of criticism and he had trouble convincing some performers to join him because of anti-war sentiment. So he recruited his own family members. His wife, Dolores, sang from atop an armored vehicle during the Desert Storm tour, and his granddaughter, Miranda, appeared with him on an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean.

In 1943, John Steinbeck, then a war correspondent, wrote: “When the time for recognition of service to the nation in wartime comes to be considered, Bob Hope should be high on the list. This man drives himself and is driven. It is impossible to see how he can do so much, can cover so much ground, can work so hard, and can be so effective. He works month after month at a pace that would kill most people.”

This article is from the October 2017 Issue of Forever Young

 oct 2017 feature story image


By Robin Esrock

A decade ago, I set out on a year-long adventure to discover the world, and hopefully myself in the process. Travel teaches us as much about the planet as it does about ourselves, and my journey to 24 countries was far richer than my formal years of education. I chased ancient wonders and exotic cultures, romance and adventure. My first port of call was Peru, a country that borders five other South American nations and seems to soak up the best of all of them. Mountains, colonial towns, beaches, world-class dining, ancient ruins, and jungles – the “Land of the Inca” also boasts 28 of the planet’s 32 climates, and 20 percent of the world’s birds and butterflies. It's no surprise that travellers flock to the continent’s third largest country with hopes to discover it all.

Unlike several major cities in South and Central America, Lima is more than just a gateway to something better. I arrived in the coastal capital during the city’s remarkable rise to the very apex of South America’s culinary scene. World-class restaurants helmed by rock star chefs have mastered the country’s ample and unusual ingredients, picking up international awards in the process. Here, you’ll sample fruits, fish and flavours you can taste nowhere else: dorado cooked in bijao leaf, grilled paiche with snake fruit puree, and for dessert: charapita chilli pepper marshmallows! Peru’s mouth-watering national dish is ceviche, comprised of raw seafood delicately cooked in lime juice, salt, cilantro and giant corn kernels. Wash it down with the deceptively sweet Pisco Sour, Peru’s national drink, consisting of pisco (a clear brandy), lime, egg whites, bitters and sugar. Both drink and dish are definitely refreshing after a full day exploring Lima’s historical colonial centre, and wandering about the ornate colonial churches and buildings, alongside the city’s ample green spaces, like the Parque Kennedy.

One doesn’t think of beaches in Peru, and yet 24 hours after my plane touched down in Lima, I found myself eating homemade ceviche at a private beach club. The owner had invited me, and he raved about a surf town north of Lima called Chicama that is blessed with the world’s longest, most perfect left-breaking wave. World-class surfing in Peru? I had no idea, but after a wonderful and tasty introduction to the country, I was eager to catch a wave to the country’s most famous attraction: Cuzco, and the ancient wonder of Machu Picchu.