Categories
Eastern Europe

How To Help Our Friends in Ukraine.

UPDATE July 3rd, 2022 – I’ve just returned from filming in Przemyśl, Poland & Lviv, Ukraine. It was an intense shoot full of mixed emotions. We met many volunteers on both sides of the border, committed to helping Ukrainian refugees, including many Americans from places like Massachusetts, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, California, DC, and more. We witnessed firsthand the great work organizations like World Central Kitchen, Unicef, and The Red Cross are doing.

I also witnessed first-hand the fear and trauma Ukrainians must go through daily as air-raid sirens forced us into bomb shelters at various times, day or night.

We met one particularly inspiring soldier, BMW (nickname), from the front, recently injured, who was thankful for American support. He was on injury leave. He’d recently had three fingers blown off by a missile attack near the front. He assured me his American donated flak jacket saved his and many fellow soldiers’ lives. His wife and children were with him. Their gratitude and his bravery were palpable. He was heading back to the front the following week.

This brave Ukrainian soldier was recently injured but heading back to the front.

I met several refugees. One recent arrival was a young man of 17, on his own for the first time in his life and seemingly unmoored. The rest of his family remained behind in the fighting. I think our visit cheered him a bit.

I met another from Russian-occupied Maritopal who escaped. Still, since his family remained behind, he couldn’t be on camera for fear of retribution. The stories he relayed to us off-camera (but with audio rolling were horrific).

We visited the famous Lychakiv cemetery in Lviv, where they’ve recently had to add a massive Mars Field to accommodate all the dead Ukrainian soldiers. This particular day was perhaps the most challenging part of the shoot. Here we witnessed grieving mothers, daughters, wives, girlfriends, sisters, and brothers at freshly dug graves. Tough.

Lychakiv Cemetery’s Mars Field

But in the end, we saw a country and people committed to pulling together for victory. It wasn’t all grief, fear, and sadness all the time. Ukrainians in Lviv seemed committed to showcasing some sense of normalcy. There were street performances daily, with joyful people dancing, clapping, and singing.

I returned across the border on foot with thousands of Ukrainian refugee mothers and children escaping the war. We stood in line for 3.5 hours trying to get out of the country. I could get into Poland much more quickly because of my US Passport (in a matter of 20 minutes or so). Still, the poor Ukrainians had to stand out in the brutally hot and blazing sun for God knows how much longer to get into Poland.

On his day off, a kind Polish volunteer gave me a ride into town to catch my bus back to Krakow to catch my flight home (where Austrian Airlines promptly lost my luggage for almost a week).

Crossing the border on foot from Ukraine into Poland.

Having caught covid in Paris and possibly breaking a toe or two (non-war related), I felt every bit of my age. Still, I would not trade the experience for anything. I was trying my best to figure out how to extend the trip to get to Kyiv as initially planned. Because I caught covid in Paris, I had to isolate and delay my trip to Ukraine by over a week. But alas, overland travel in Ukraine is slow and unpredictable. I had to be back in NYC to attend to business.

However, Anastasia, our uber-talented Ukrainian refugee Videographer, traveled onward to Kyiv to film a little and, most importantly, reunite with her mother, albeit briefly, before returning to Paris.

Anastasia Filming Street Musicians in Lviv as Soldiers walk by.

The unsung hero of the trip is the drone we brought from the USA to Ukraine that will help some Ukrainian soldiers surveil Russian troops more safely.

There’s a lot to tell, and we will tell more soon and in episodes in our upcoming Season 10 beginning November 2022.

HOW TO HELP NOW

In the meantime, please visit our MERCH PAGE or our GO FUND ME to donate to help us help the Ukrainian kids and people with medical and school supplies.

You can read more about our efforts below.

God bless, and God bless the people of Ukraine! Slava Ukraine!
Rob

ORIGINAL POST

Raw Travel has deep connections in Ukraine, having filmed three episodes in Lviv and Kyiv in 2019.

Anastasia, our Ukrainian videographer, and her family are two times refugees, having already fled Donbas for Kyiv, and she and her younger brother are now separated from her parents, who remained behind.

Anastasia on location in Madeira, Portugal

In addition to Anastasia, we have several friends from Ukraine who are either exiled refugees or are serving their country fighting. Ukrainians aren’t the only ones drastically affected by this war.

Our musician friends from Russia who have helped craft music for Raw Travel are also refugees because they cannot return to Russia for fear of arrest.  They must also find a new country to call home.

We want to help Ukraine heal. We will be traveling to the Ukrainian border in June to film an episode focusing on giving back. The money raised on our Go Fund Me Page “Raw Travel Helps Ukraine” will focus on grassroots giveback segments in the show, which we hope will represent the Raw Travel ethos of socially responsible travel.


One of the organizations we have identified to work with is called Keep Kids Learning  – run by Joseph Nichols,  a US Citizen who has been working on engineering projects in Ukraine for eight years and teaching English.  You can find out more about their fundraising campaign here – Keep Kids Learning

There are other needs and organizations as well which we’ll be showcasing during our filming of course.  War is, of course, unpredictable but you can be assured that if we cannot film and use the money outlined above for reasons beyond our control, we will proceed to donate to a legitimate charity that we feel is best helping Ukraine.  
PINT GLASS – All donations over $50 are eligible for our Pint Glass or Coffee Mug with our exclusive “Let Freedom Ring for Ukraine” artwork, based on a photograph by producer Robert G. Rose at Kyiv’s Independence Square in August of 2019.  

Let Freedom Ring Coffee Mugs Available in White or Light Blue

You may also buy directly at Raw Travel Merch and approximately $10 of each item (shirt, pint glasses, coffee mugs) will go towards fundraising.

If you donate through our Go Fund Me and would like to take advantage of the merchandise on offer, please message us directly there with your shipping address and we’ll order it for you.

You can also follow our progress by following us on Social Media @RawTravelTV at Facebook Twitter Instagram or YouTube .

Thank you for your support.  Stay tuned here and to social media for progress updates.

Unfortunately, regardless of when this war finally ends, there will likely be a need for humanitarian relief for some time to come. Please stay tuned to this blog and our social media posts for details.

God bless you and God bless the people of Ukraine.

4/20/22 – UPDATE FROM CARE4UKRAINE:

This update is from Joseph from Care4Ukraine (Formerly Keep Kids Learning). As the situation on the ground is changing dramatically, so is the mission. He’s now switching to a more urgent need for medical supplies. We are hoping to meet Joseph in Chicago at the end of the month and roll with him in late May/early June in Poland/Ukraine as he continues his excellent work. Please stay tuned and please help him if you can. Below is slightly edited for brevity and clarity only – from Joseph sent the day Lviv had been bombed:

FROM JOSEPH – I am sure you know that Lviv was more directly impacted with a missile attack today. Normal kids “classes” will be cancelled today. A space was found in Ivano-Frankivsk and one in Uzhgorod along with a number of volunteer teachers. 


There was a bit of growing complacency in the IDP population as the number of refugees returning from Poland has been increasing. The number of people returning to Kyiv and Chernihiv has been growing as well. This reverse exodus has been attributed to a sense of security, though regional administrations have been urging people not to return. 


Refugees in Poland are having to deal with the sticker shock of EU prices, lack of housing, and the expected refugee fatigue that has begun to surface.

In the IDP population there are three camps that appear to have formed.

  1. The first is comprised of those with above average resources (e.g., money, relatives with large homes, vacation homes) and freedom of movement.
  2. Second, those that were able to secure housing early – but will soon have exhausted funds. The third group are those dependent on aid, charity or have become transient.
  3. It is this third group for which we have most concern. The human-trafficking sharks are circling as well – very nasty people. Keeping an eye on the 15 – 17-year-old’s is important.

    Most are just families of women and children. Many have left older parents behind in the care of elder children. As always, these are just observations based on data that is at best….. fragmented.


    As the Kids Learning Program develops, I am going back to my roots (medical equipment/healthcare facilities management) and getting aid delivered to more eastern regions. As previously mentioned, getting medical and communications equipment deployed is becoming a priority; as is medical supply deliveries.
    I will arrive in Chicago on 30 April to assemble donations from various hospitals and public health services that are culling recently expired/ soon-to-be expired disposables, and basic equipment, for shipment to Ukraine via Poland.

GoFundMe: https://gofund.me/e1494ea8

Based on what I’m being told, we can expect some very rough months ahead for Ukraine, and these supplies need to be place.

UPDATE May 2, 2022 – ROB INTERVIEWS JOSEPH

Rob caught up with Joseph via zoom, while Joseph made a quick trip to Chicago to pick up some medical supplies to take back to Ukraine.

UPDATE 5/21/22 – Here’s an update from Joseph of Keep the Kids Learning / Help 4 Ukraine in Lviv, Ukraine. Joseph is looking for school space and giving an update on how it’s the economy that is hurting most in non-heavy day-to-day combat locales like Lviv, Ukraine. It’s not just OUR grocery or gas bill that has gone up. Putin has singlehandedly wrecked the global economic recovery, and as usual, it’s the poor or vulnerable that suffer most. You can bet your depleted 401K’s last dollar that the world’s richest man (Putin, not Musk) won’t miss a meal. But good always prevails, IF we are willing, and we are aren’t we? That’s why we’re heading to Ukraine next month to hook up with Joseph and show you firsthand the good people he and so many others like him are doing. Thank you for your continued support. Visit RawTravelGiveBack.com for more information and thank you for your continued support.

UPDATE 5/22/22 – July 2nd and 3rd, 2022 – Raw Travel Episode 913 – “Let Freedom Ring in Ukraine” will premiere in the USA. Here’s a sneak peek.

Raw Travel’s Episode 913 – Let Freedom Ring Trailer

Categories
North America

Raw Travel Presents – Let Freedom Ring in Ukraine!

RAW TRAVEL TV TO HELP FREEDOM RING IN UKRAINE!

Multifaceted Media Campaign Poised to Help Ukraine for the “Long Haul” –

NEW YORK, NY: June 1st, 2022 – AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV), producers of the nation’s most-watched travel show, Raw Travel®, announced “Let Freedom Ring in Ukraine” to help Ukrainian refugees. The multi-platform and multi-faceted initiative will provide grassroots, long-term financial, and tangible assistance to externally and internally displaced Ukrainian refugees and citizens affected by the Russian invasion. 

In June, producer, and host, Robert G. Rose will be filming in Paris, France, and then at the border of Poland and Ukraine with Raw Travel videographer and displaced Ukrainian refugee Anastasia Zui. Conditions permitting, they hope to go into Ukraine embedded with “Keep the Kids Learning” and “Help 4 Ukraine,” two small, independent organizations founded by American logistics engineer Joseph Nichols, living in Ukraine, and other Expatriates. The grassroots organizations are dedicated to helping keep Ukrainian refugee children and teachers in school and moving needed medicines and medical supplies from the US and Europe into Ukraine. 

On July 2nd and 3rd, 2022 just before USA Independence Day, Raw Travel will premiere a special episode entitled “Let Freedom Ring in Ukraine.” The special will feature updated, relevant Ukrainian segments that showcase the country before the 2022 invasion, along with updated narration and ways viewers can help. The episode will re-air on August 27th-28th. 

“Raw Travel offered valuable context to viewers when filming in Ukraine and the border areas of Russian-occupied Georgia in 2019,” said Robert G. Rose, Executive Producer and Host of the series. “Given our past coverage of Russian aggression’s consequences in both Georgia and Ukraine, we feel we can offer a unique perspective,” Rose continued. “I think we can show a different, potentially more uplifting angle of this tragedy that may inspire people to help the many good folks and organizations helping Ukraine on the ground, long after the raw emotion of Russia’s 2022 invasion has subsided, but the need persists.”

The “Let Freedom Ring in Ukraine” effort has already begun in a limited capacity

with on-air billboards and social media posts encouraging viewers to visit 

RawTravelGiveBack.com. The special web page is a constantly evolving, dedicated entry point for concerned viewers. There, they can get updates about Ukrainians featured in the show and donate directly to vetted organizations or buy specially designed Raw Travel “Let Freedom Ring in Ukraine” merchandise (shirts, mugs, glasses, etc.) benefitting the efforts of these organizations. 

Raw Travel’s milestone Season 10 begins September 19th, 2022. A trailer of Raw Travel’s Let Freedom Ring episode can be viewed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nl88AHSCsGo

###

ABOUT RAW TRAVEL TV

Raw Travel is an adventure travel & lifestyle series showcasing socially and environmentally aware, independent travel. The series weaves together themes of eco-tourism and voluntourism (giving back) with underground music and authentic culture in a unique way. Each weekend the show is seen in 174 U.S. cities on major broadcast affiliates and several international territories (Asia, Africa, Europe…). It can also be found on several major airlines. AIM Tell-A-Vision Group produces the show and oversees its domestic and international distribution. Visit RawTravel.tv for more information. 

ABOUT AIM TELL-A-VISION GROUP

AIM Tell-A-Vision (AIM TV) Group is an independent production, content, and distribution company founded by media veteran and entrepreneur Robert G. Rose. Since 2000, AIM TV has been producing and distributing positive, compelling content that reflects a mission of presenting “Media That Matters.” Visit AIMTVGroup.com for more information.

ABOUT KEEP THE KIDS LEARNING AND CARE 4 UKRAINE

Joseph Nichols is a US Citizen and logistics expert that has lived and worked in Ukraine since 2014. He and other US Expatriates are raising money for medical supplies and medicines distributed to Internally Displaced People (IDPs – Ukrainians displaced within Ukraine). They are also purchasing computers, books, and supplies to set up learning centers in Lviv, Ukraine, for children that the conflict has displaced. They have established transport lines across the Ukrainian/Polish border into most areas of the country and have received donations of supplies, equipment, and medicines. They are also offering space on trucks to other aid groups. Visit https://gofund.me/13be73ab and https://gofund.me/06fa1840 for more information on Keep The Kids Learning and Care 4 Ukraine. 

Categories
North America

Let Freedom Ring Coffee Mugs

Thanks everyone for your donations and for buying the exclusive Raw Travel designed “Let Freedom Ring” T-Shirts and Pint Glasses based on my photo of Freedom Square in Kyiv that I took in 2019.

We’ve finally received the official “Let Freedom Ring” Coffee Mugs to Help Ukraine. We’re offering them in background two colors, white and light blue. The mugs sell for $17.99 (excluding shipping) and almost $10 from each sale goes to help the fundraising efforts of our pals at Keep Kids Learning who are not only keeping refugee kids learning by donating and funding school supplies but are also raising funds for medical supplies as well.

You can order yours at our special merch page

or if you prefer, you may also donate at our GoFundMe Page

Let Freedom Ring – Coffee Mugs

I’m including below the latest update from Joseph there, who is planning a trip back to the USA to gather medical supplies, etc. to take back. I hope to catch up with him in person or by zoom. My trip to Ukraine has been delayed a bit until early June, but it’s still on.

Thank you for all your support once again!

Here’s the latest update from Joseph at Care4Ukraine / Keeps Kids Learning.

As you might know, the areas we are starting these “pop-up” classrooms are located in the western region of Ukraine. Not only have IDP’s relocated from where the intense fighting is concentrated to cities like Lviv, Ternopil, and Uhzgorod, but also to the smaller villages. Recent attacks in the west have knocked out power in many places and our sister-site on GoFundMe – “Care4Ukraine” is beginning to address needs of IDP’s in these areas.
Many refugees are returning to Ukraine as the war drags on. Issues like the higher cost of living and separation from family takes it toll, and the choice to return begins to look better than being a refugee in a foreign country. It is now estimated that there are eight million IDPs in Ukraine, economic output is down more than 50%, and the conflict is growing more intense each day.

Thank you for your help. Joseph

UPDATE May 2nd, 2022 –

ROB INTERVIEWS JOSEPH NICHOLS OF “KEEP THE KIDS LEARNING” FROM UKRAINE – Rob caught up with Joseph via zoom, while Joseph was making a quick trip to Chicago to pick up some medical supplies to take back to Ukraine.

Categories
North America

RAW TRAVEL ANNOUNCES UPCOMING SEASON 10 AS FINALE

200th Episode in 2023 Will Mark End to Remarkable & Unlikely Run

NEW YORK, NY: March 30th, 2022 – AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV), producers of the nation’s most-watched travel show, Raw Travel®, announced today that their upcoming Season 10 (2022-23) set to debut this September, will mark the show’s final full season of original productions. The show’s last season is scheduled to end in September 2023 with the production and broadcast of its milestone 200th episode.

The producers are currently editing the back-half of its ninth season (2021-22). Still, they have already begun filming for Season 10 and planning for the show’s finale season, which will feature a season-long celebration. 

The celebration will include “Look-Back” promos, trip and gear giveaways, and culminate with a big celebratory event in New York City to celebrate the show’s unlikely ten-season run.

The producers also announced that the show will continue in syndication with re-runs until at least September 2025, with Seasons 11 and 12 mining their library of 200 (primarily evergreen) episodes. Incumbent stations will have first-right-of-refusal to carry the library content. The library will also feature never-before-seen digital and broadcast content such as international segments, producer commentary, did-you-knows, behind-the-scenes, and refreshed content when appropriate. 

“This has been a surreal ride, and it’s far from over, but I see an exit ramp,” said Robert G. Rose, Executive Producer and Host of the series. “We felt strongly about presenting a new kind of travel show focusing more on travel than celebrity while communicating the importance of social responsibility wherever travel takes us. We haven’t achieved all our objectives, but there is time yet, and I can say the show long ago far exceeded my expectations. We’re excited about the future and producing our most memorable and important season to date with Season 10,” Rose continued.

Highlighting the importance of the show’s final season, the producers are planning a trip to the border of Poland and Ukraine to film a “Giveback” themed episode on the Ukrainian refugee crisis. They hope to showcase how travel and tourism, combined with giving back, can create a more fulfilling travel experience. They are also raising funds from viewers and fans to help refugees. Raw Travel visited and filmed in Ukraine twice in 2019 and offered valuable pre-war context to viewers. More information on their efforts to help in Ukraine can be found at RawTravelGiveback.com

Raw Travel’s milestone Season 10 begins September 19th, 2022, and the final broadcast will occur the weekend of September 16th and 17th, 2023. 

Season 10 One Sheet

Season 10 (2022-23) One Sheet

Seasons 11 & 12 One Sheet

Categories
North America

Too Whack for Weekends

Too Whack For Weekends – Video

HOW DARE I?

I have been privileged to work in the broadcasting industry for most of my adult life. I began in local ad sales and progressed to management. My current role as a business owner and independent producer of Raw Travel TV has been the most fulfilling and eye-opening of all.

I have overseen all facets of a completely vertical (independent) television syndication service (production, ad sales, distribution, marketing, etc.) for over 22 years. I’ve worked with scores of general managers, programmers, and station group executives, as well as advertisers and related industries.

My company, AIM Tell-A-Vision Group, has strived to produce missing or under-served content in the grand and growing video landscape for over two decades.

Media that matters – I know that “media that matters” could sound glib and trite, but we genuinely pursue this mission. And because, at least with Raw Travel, my name and face are all over the show (and credits), I sometimes take it personally.  

This may be why I never, ever “mail it in.” Be it good or bad, I always strive to do my best. For Nine Seasons, I’ve done my best work as a commitment to our viewers, our affiliates, our advertisers, and myself. I wouldn’t be writing these words nine seasons in if it hadn’t worked.

The broadcasting industry and viewers have largely rewarded those efforts. Raw Travel has grown to become the nation’s most-watched travel show on commercial TV, and I owe a debt of gratitude to too many people to list.


THIS IS WHACK!

And there are so many caring and talented people in the broadcasting business, many of whom have become friends over the years. I’m grateful for what this business has given me. Therefore, I’m declaring “War” on “Whacked Weekends.”

I’ve watched the quality of weekend syndicated steadily decline over the years, and I’ve wondered “why”? Sports are on the weekends, and big-name event programming is on the weekends. Many families are all together and at home on weekends. Weekends are nearly 30% of an entire week’s schedule. Weekend programming can help lift weekday and local news ratings.

This is why I scratch my head when some broadcasters in some markets seem content to program shows that are borderline unwatchable or, in some cases, embarrassing. Sometimes directly after big-time sports or news with big-time lead-in audiences.

It can be the salacious, embarrassing content disguised as sports bloopers, or old content disguised as new, or content jammed with beyond the industry standard commercial load. These hurt stations more than an immediate clicking of the remote (or the powering up of the laptop or smartphone).

In each of these instances, the producer(s)/distributor(s) is betraying the trust of affiliates, advertisers, and most sacred of all, the viewers. To me, this is unforgivable anytime, but especially now when viewers have so many choices.

GREED IS NOT GOOD (TV)

Consider the long-time indie syndicator turned “mogul” cramming in more commercial interruptions than the industry standard. Often this is within programming that can, at best, be described as borderline watchable if it didn’t have a single, solitary commercial.  

The commercial interruption count comparison included doesn’t even take into account the numerous archaic but annoying interruptions advising the viewer, “don’t go away” or “we’ll be right back.” 

Given the sub-par quality of some of the shows this producer is putting out, it sounds less like an invitation than a threat or challenge to endure.  

We know this results in more clutter but more money for the producer. In the process of this naked display of greed and negligence, this incredibly self-serving and short-sighted approach sheds viewers (see research below). I’m assuming most stations want more viewers but are unaware of this issue.

Understandable with all the content, smaller and smaller staffs are tasked with overseeing. 

Are broadcasters aware of the bikini-clad girls that are jump roping or hula-hooping (or anything that requires bouncing and jiggling)? It’s a “sports blooper” show, or so we thought. 

Or of the minute-plus long end-credits that drive viewers away at the end of shows?

Or of the non-evergreen and dated content put out as fresh that is no longer relevant, much less compelling.

WEED THE WEEKENDS

I believe good weekend programming and a healthy, unique first-run ecosystem can help broadcasters compete against the onslaught of competition for viewer attention.  

We need more independent producers who work in a broadcast-first platform. And many of them are doing good work.

But for these good producers and programs to survive, they need room to grow.

Just as one weeds a garden so the vegetables can bear fruit, the same should be said for weekend programming. Stations need to weed out the lazy, the greedy, the inappropriate, and the just plain bad and plant more of the good.

Give the producers, programs, and stations the room to grow with more runs of the good stuff and less of the lousy cluttering up the landscape.

I created this “Too Whack for Weekends” video to hopefully bring some light-hearted attention to this issue.

As I said, I love this business and the people in it. It’s been very good to me.

But I’m getting a little long in the tooth for these types of causes. I could easily just bump along and not cause waves. However, I don’t think that is in anyone’s best interest, except perhaps the lazy, greedy, or incompetent producer.

So here we go! Go ahead and call me Don Quixote if you like. It won’t be the first time, and I won’t take offense.

After watching the video, please feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line at RawTravel (at) AIMTVGroup.com

ADDITIONAL RESEARCH BELOW:

Cynopsis 1/24/22

Eighty-five percent of TV viewers would be willing to hand over personal information like age, gender and location in exchange for fewer ads, according to a survey from Sharethrough. Other key data points in the report include:
· 66% of people indicate they don’t actively watch TV ads and grab their phone once a commercial starts
· 73% of respondents said they would pay more attention to the ads if they were better targeted to their interests, more diversified, and with less ads per commercial breaks
· 58% said they would use their TV remote to buy a product or get a coupon for a product they liked in a commercial

Cynopsis 1/25/22

It’s no secret that TV viewers don’t like heavy ad loads during their shows. But according to Hub’s “TV Advertising: Fact vs. Fiction” study, a heavy ad load not only leads viewers to say the number of ads during a show is unreasonable, but it also has a negative impact on their viewing satisfaction generally. Asked to rate the overall experience of watching the show – all things considered, not just ads – positive ratings went from 44% among those who saw 5 or fewer ads, to 33% among those who saw over 11 ads. Those who were most satisfied were those who found the ads relevant, with 58% giving a thumbs-up among those who said the ads had featured products that matched their interests.

NATIONAL AD INVENTORY COMPARISON

Categories
North America

Sneak Peek Episode 901

Recently wrapped edit on Episode #1 (Ep. 901) of Season 9, premiering in October 2021. Here’s a sneak peek of Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Categories
Caribbean North America

Finally… Puerto Rico!!

I’ve visited Puerto Rico before. I always stated that technically correct fact. But truth be told, I remembered little about my first and only trip so many years ago. I remember it was a long weekend. I remember I stayed in the newer part of San Juan, ventured into Old San Juan for the day, and the next day rented a car to drive to Ponce where it proceeded to rain. That’s it. That’s about all I remember. What a disservice.

Ever since Hurricane Maria I’ve been itching to get back. Something about witnessing people recovering from a devastatingly miserable experience from afar moves me to get closer. Then there was an earthquake, then Covid. After a long absence from travel (20 months), now seemed the time. So I scheduled back-to-back trips “abroad.” First to Croatia, then to Puerto Rico. In both instances, I was hardly alone.

US travelers abounded in Croatia. That was surprising to me. US travelers abounded in Puerto Rico. That did not surprise me. Puerto Rico is, after all, for better or for worse, a US territory and there is no need to test for a Covid infection before returning to the mainland. I’m not sure if that’s what drew so many US travelers to Puerto Rico during their traditional off-season (the summer), if it was just pent-up demand for travel or the fact that no passport is needed. My hunch is it is a combination of all of the above.

But I did get a distinct impression that many first-time “international” travelers were in town, at least in Old San Juan this time. They were likely taking advantage of the good deals to be had as Puerto Rico welcomed back travelers from the mainland US.

Palacio Provincial Hotel Courtyard

But, alas, those were just my first impressions during a second trip. This time, my second trip to Puerto Rico would be the second impression that meant the most. This time I’d be filming with a crew of locals, and I’d be staying in the heart of Old San Juan, at the beautifully recently restored “Palacio Provincial Hotel.”

I was told that this beautiful, historic, building in the heart of Old San Juan was originally built in the 1800s and that it was a former government building before being restored fairly recently.

It did not disappoint. I loved the hotel’s classic style and old-school atmosphere of Spanish style courtyards and high ceilings- while simultaneously basking in the modern, almost luxurious features like an infinity pool, hot tub, gym, uber-comfy bed, modern hot shower, super fast wifi, etc.

Typical Puerto Rican Cuisine at Restaurant El Jibarito

But my favorite thing about Palacio Provincial was location, location, location. I was within walking distance of so many sites, great bars, and restaurants. Indeed, this trip, I felt a part of Old San Juan.

Almost every morning, I’d head to the corner coffee and pastry kiosk at the park nearby and get a Cafe Negro (black coffee) con Mallorca sandwich pastry. Or I’d hit up the Restaurant El Jibarito nearby for an authentic, down-home Puerto Rican lunch.

Or visit the Poets Passage on open mic night. Here I’d be treated to traditional poetry slam from poets as far away as Minnesota; or some Brazilian Batucada fused with Puerto Rican Plena and African drumming from a surprise musical act Baturepike who simply rocked the place.

Thanks to my local pals and film crew from Discover Puerto Rico, I’d eat very well (it was Rocio from the Spoon Experience who introduced me to my new favorite sandwich, the Mallorca) while venturing outside of Old San Juan frequently.

Our visit to the nearby beach community of Loiza was memorable for a few reasons. Mainly thanks to Rafi from the famous foodie Vlog and IG account La Mafia who showed me the ropes of eating Alcapurrías and Bacalaítos (two types of cuisine I’d never even heard of before).

Food Kiosk in Loiza

Rafi instinctively knew which local food kiosks were best and did the thinking for me. I’ve never interviewed anyone on the show with such an obvious knowledge and love of their local cuisine. We both did the eating, and I didn’t need to eat dinner that evening. I can’t speak for Rafi’s dinner that evening but given the performance he put in at lunch, I do recall wondering how the guy maintains any semblance of svelte appearance.

We also visited gorgeous Bahia Beach Resort to see the work the resort is doing to save Sea Turtles, Manatees, and various bird species on the island.

The “Alma De Bahia Foundation,” which translates to “the Soul of Bahia,” is their non-profit arm focusing on local sustainability through conservation initiatives and environmental education.

The Foundation works very closely with the residents and guests at Bahia to give back to our community and the natural environment. Our guide, Marcela, is an inspiring mixture of environmental warrior / marine biology nerd. She knows her stuff.

Marcela with one of the local dog rescues

Marcela kindly offered us a bonus tour of the rescue shelter for dogs (watch the show to see how that ties into saving wildlife) and their farm, where they grow fruits and vegetables for the resort and surrounding community.

Speaking of farms, I must be getting old because I have this inexplicable desire to get back to my farm boy roots these days. Which I find ironic considering my city boy ways (yes, I know, I’m far from a “boy” anymore, but you get the point).

Anyhow, one of my favorite day trips outside of OSJ was a visit to the town of Maniti to tour Frutos Del Guacabo . There I finally milked a goat successfully, putting the “great Romanian goat milking scandal” from Season 2 in the rear view mirror. I hope!

Feeling out my future?

I also learned a new term, culinary agriculture, which is a fancy way of saying that you’ll get to taste some delicious results of their cutting-edge hydroponic and natural farming methods.

Efran showed us how it’s grown. Chef Adrian showed us how it’s cooked. And , you guessed it, I showed them how it’s eaten.

Other day trips were on our agenda, like our trip out to El Hippie Waterfall in Naguabo. Unfortunately, it had rained earlier and created a situation where I wouldn’t be able to get into the raging water. But it made an alternative beauty that showcased just a taste of the tremendous power of nature (though most Puerto Ricans likely don’t need reminding).

The raging El Hippie Waterfall

We ended the “official” shoot with a trip to Fajardo. After I finally got my mofongo fix at a late lunch, we night-kayaked to the Nestor Martinez Luminescent Bio Bay, one of three in Puerto Rico and five in the whole world (all in the Caribbean). Because of the temperature of the water, light pollution, and overall climate change, the luminescent critters took some work to see. But my favorite thing about the whole experience was the relaxing kayak trip back (going with the current on the way back) and hearing the sounds of the water and coqui frogs singing. I could have stayed out there all night, if they’d let me.

But alas, I had to fly back the next day and get to work editing, writing scripts, backing up, and in general, getting ready for Season Nine. We were far ahead pre-covid but now are behind. But I’m so happy to be traveling again, and I’m so grateful for this opportunity to get a second opportunity to visit Puerto Rico.

Speaking of covid, I was very comfortable filming there. Most people I knew or worked with closely indicated they were vaccinated and the retail establishments, generally speaking, enforced mask policy. I was tracking the numbers, they were lower than where I live in NYC and far lower than parts of the unvaccinated USA. Puerto Ricans seem to understand tragedy, and more importantly, the resilience required to overcome tragedy. They did not seem eager to court more tragedy and seemed to understand the balance of living their lives, making a living, while doing everything possible to keep everyone, visitors and locals alike, as safe as possible. It worked for me.

BaturePike at Poet’s Passage in Old San Juan

Yes, I was only in Puerto Rico for five days, but thanks to so many, this second trip was far more memorable than the first. So when I say it feels like the first time, this is what I mean. Besides, if I forget any details, this time, for better or worse, we have it on video… well, most of it! And besides, it gives me a good reason to return.

See more photos of our adventure HERE.

Look for the first one of two episodes of Raw Travel’s trip to Puerto Rico to premiere in November 2021. Stay tuned to facebook, twitter, and RawTravel.tv/Episodes .

Categories
Eastern Europe Europe

Digging Dubrovnik’s Alternative Side – Port Gruz

I recently went abroad for the first time in 20 months to film. I had both my jabs back in April, so I was itching to use my get out of jail- I mean, get out of the USA, free card, and Croatia was welcoming vaccinated US travelers. I’d never been. This seemed an opportune time to hit up this over-touristed travel darling before the crowds bounce entirely back. I’m glad I did.

Dubrovnik’s Old Town

I began my trip in Dubrovnik, staying in the Old Town, which seemed crowded to me. But I was told the crowds were like 40% of 2019 levels. Dubrovnik has been struggling with over-tourism the past decade or so, culminating and untenable crowds in 2019, so 40% is not necessarily a bad thing. Of course, the locals catering to tourists would like to make more money, I get that. But the reality on the ground is many of the more touristic local establishments cater to same-day in-and-out cruise crowds. Hence, quality control is not a big deal in many places. It was also expensive. While Dubrovnik tourism is working to come back smarter, not bigger, the Old City is charming and will always be a draw for travelers, pushing locals out. Thus it didn’t feel very punk rock.

Ivo of Urban and Veggies
Urban and Veggies – Delish! 

But I was told to head over to the Port Gruz (Gruz Harbor) area, and indeed I got a much different vibe. Port towns always seem a bit more bohemian, and I’m not 100% sure why, but probably back in the day they were a little rough around the edges, while also being welcoming point for travelers (unlike the Old Town which had only two entrances and required foreign visitors to quarantine centuries ago… well before Covid). 

Port Gruz felt more real, if not exactly punk rock, at least DIY. After stopping in a new vegetarian restaurant I’d heard about called Urban and Veggies, I had one of the most amazing vegetarian meals of my life. Scratch that, one of the most amazing meals ever, vegan or not. Ivo, the talented proprietor, wasn’t expecting me, yet he rolled out the red carpet and prepared a feast fit for King whatever-his-name was from Game of Thrones (GOT was famously filmed on location in Dubrovnik). I was hungry but there was no way I could eat that entire spread myself. 

Dubrovnik Beer Company

After stuffing myself, I waddled my way to the Dubrovnik Beer Company, where I met the proprietor Dario and his merry band of craft beer mates. The beer was excellent, but the conversation was even better. These smart fellas are doing everything they can to showcase another more authentic side of Dubrovnik away from the tourists-laden old town, and it’s working… or at least it worked for me.

Kreso of Red History Museum

After the sun went down, Dario escorted me down a dark side street to meet Kreso, owner of the Red History Museum. Kreso refused to talk shop until we’d had a few shots of Rakia and no arguments from me. After three or four shots of Rakia, I was ready to relive some communist history.

The Original “Yugo” from Yugoslavia

The Red History Museum is a highly entertaining way to see what the former Yugoslavia was like during communism. For those who don’t know, Yugoslavia had a much different history than the rest of the Soviet Union, thanks to Tito, the enigmatic, Dictator who held the territory together through his reign. Ask a Croatian today about Tito, and you’ll get decidedly mixed reviews. Still, there is no denying he kept the place together as shortly after his death, a power struggle ensued, war broke out. Some of the worst crimes against humanity and mass murder in recent history occurred.

Head to Port Gruz in Dubrovnik, Croatia to avoid crowds


But all that seems blissfully behind Croatia now. You can still see the wounds of war, but not so much on the Dalmation coast where Dubrovnik is located. Though I did stop by the Museum of Martyrs to get an idea of what the town went through. I’d find much more damage and destruction as I wound my way inward toward the Serbian border town of Osijek. However, I still had a few days left on the Dalmatian coast. Next stop, Split. You guessed it, it was time to split for Split but not before bidding a regretful goodbye to the friendly folks of Dubrovnik and especially my new pals in the Port Gruz area.

Categories
North America Public Relations

Raw Travel is Go For Season 9

– TV’s Most Watched Travel Show Ready to Help Lead Travel’s Comeback –

NEW YORK, NY: July 15th, 2021 – AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV) announced that its first-run, syndicated TV series Raw Travel® has been greenlit for a ninth consecutive season. The long-running, syndicated travel show’s new season will kick off in late September with a retrospective from the early days of Raw Travel’s past episodes. Viewers will have the opportunity to vote on their desired destinations and episodes at RawTravelRebooked.com and on the show’s various social media platforms.   

Coming in November, a full slate of brand-new episodes will debut. These new episodes will include Raw Travel Host and Producer Robert G. Rose’s first trip to film abroad in over 18 months as he heads to Croatia to film. It will also include a taste of the Caribbean as Raw Travel showcases Puerto Rico’s road to recovery from Hurricane Maria and the pandemic. 

Next up, the series will turn its attention to the US, with travel in the northeastern United States, including a stop in New York City documenting the Big Apple’s comeback. In typical Raw Travel style, the show will focus on the less publicized, off-the-beaten-path hidden gems and neighborhoods of the beloved city that was once the pandemic’s global epicenter. 

Then it’s RV Road Trip time as Rose jumps in the new Raw Travel branded Jeep Gladiator and Sunset Sunray Mini Travel Trailer on a solo road trip originating in Tennessee before heading on a route westward. Current plans call for Rose to make his way to the Pine Ridge Native American Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, which he initially visited in 2016. Rose will document how the nation’s poorest county has fared in the years following. Rose will then loop the travel trailer back home, stopping and filming at points of interest along the way.

“Like so many other vaccinated travelers, I can’t wait to get back out in the world to see our neighbors,” says Host and Executive Producer Robert G. Rose. “Travel has always been a way to heal my soul. It’s been a rough stretch for so many people. I hope that we can help provide some relief and inspiration for those seeking travel’s healing power,” Rose added. 

Raw Travel’s 9th Season will debut in over 170+ US cities in over 95% of US TV homes. The show currently airs each weekend in the USA on broadcast affiliates such as WNYW Fox 5 & WWOR My9 in New York, KCBS 2 & KCAL 9 in Los Angeles, WCVB ABC 5 in BostonKPRC NBC 2 in Houston, etc., with multiple airings each week in most markets. 

Raw Travel continues to expand its international footprint on various outlets worldwide. Viewers can also watch it via several In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) offerings on airlines such as American Air, Delta, Air Canada, Virgin America, and more. The show’s first season can also be streamed on various platforms such as Vimeo On Demand, Crackle, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Flex, with more being announced soon. Visit RawTravel.tv for more information. 

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ABOUT RAW TRAVEL TV

Raw Travel is an adventure travel & lifestyle series showcasing socially and environmentally aware, independent travel. The series weaves together themes of eco-tourism and voluntourism (giving back) with underground music and authentic culture in a unique way. Each weekend the show is seen in over 170 U.S. cities on major broadcast affiliates as well as in several international territories (Asia, Africa, Europe, etc.). It can also be found on several major airlines and Over the Top (OTT Digital) platforms as well.  AIM Tell-A-Vision Group produces the show and oversees its global distribution. Visit RawTravel.tv for more information.

ABOUT AIM TELL-A-VISION GROUP

AIM Tell-A-Vision (AIM TV) Group is an independent production, content and distribution company founded by media veteran and entrepreneur Robert G. Rose. Since 2000, AIM TV has been producing and distributing positive, compelling content that reflects a mission of presenting “Media That Matters.” Visit AIMTVGroup.com for more information.

Categories
Ecuador Europe

Killer Crows in Rome, Lucky Shirt in Quito.

KILLER CROWS IN ROME, LUCKY SHIRTS IN QUITO, When I was filming Raw Travel​ Season 1 in Quito, Ecuador, a raptor or some enormous avian creature excreted on me in mid-shoot. Cameras weren’t rolling, and we didn’t have the presence of mind to film a “When Travel Goes Wrong” segment at that point, sadly. I thought someone had thrown something on me, but alas, it was just a big old bird with digestion problems. In Latin America, it’s supposed to be a sign of good luck. Hmm, maybe, but the color was obscene (not the typical white), the amount voluminous, the smell was rank, and the look even worse.

Before Splat – Lucky Shirt.

I went to a public bathroom, washed off the shirt as best I could, and proceeded to film the rest of the day’s shoot shirtless, in a zipped up hoodie (Quito is high altitude, it’s chilly even during the day), until I could finally replace with a shirt bought off the street.
Just in case the “luck” thing is true, I still have the original shirt that was splat upon to this day. I love that shirt and can’t find myself willing to part with it. Not sure of the replacement, probably not since it was likely something cheap and, most importantly, a bird hadn’t shat it upon.

Post Splat – No shirt under that hoodie.


Why on earth am I relaying this story? Good question. Avoiding work, I saw this article and thought of it. It seems Rome, Italy has something to crow about these days. EA Poe & Hitchcock would be proud. So traveler beware, leave the black hat at home & bring a stick and an umbrella (not black).
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/04/world/europe/rome-crows-attacks.html?smid=url-share