• Interview: Sunny Ozell

    Sunny Ozell is an Americana vocalist who splits her time between Brooklyn and LA with her husband Sir Patrick Stewart. Her latest album Overnight Lows was released in March and tells personal stories through the heartfelt lyrics that can take the listener on their own reflective journey. Her music is one of my new finds during this time at home.

    Sunny has also been doing a YouTube series exploring Medieval churches across the English countryside. She loves to do research and then visit these locations across Europe in person to experience the rich culture and ancient artwork at the sites. Her videos take the viewer on an adventure to places that they may not be able to visit in person with descriptions that tell the details of past generations with wonderful live performances inside.

    I was very happy to catch up with Sunny at home in LA to discuss the new record, favorite travel destinations and her love of medieval history.

    Where are you actually quarantined?

    We are in Los Angeles.

    At least it is clear blue skies there for the first time in a long while.

    Indeed yes. We have seen some birds in our yard, and mind you we just moved into this house so we are not that familiar with the neighborhood. I have seen some birds I have never seen before which is really fun.

    Has the virus disrupted any of your touring or performance plans?

    My whole summer, yes.

    Have you postponed yet?

    That decision is more on the festivals but I know it is not going to happen. It is such an interesting time. Other touring acts that I know say they had a gig at the 100 Club in London that has already been re-booked for the Fall or early winter of 2021. I don’t know when I am going to preform again.

    I am now questioning if any festivals are going to happen in 2020 at all.

    In the absence of any kind of leadership in the UK and the US, there is not a clear dictate for how this is going to work and this is how we are going to do this. Germany and France have had such a better response to all this.

    I have been listening to your new music. I saw some of your videos highlighting English Medieval churches. What drew you to these churches? You describe them in detail at the start of some of the videos. Are you spiritual or religious? 

    I am not religious. I definitely lean atheist. That said, I believe in the power of people coming together in a common spiritual pursuit. For me, it is not the religious aspect that draws me to these buildings but the human aspect that these buildings in the UK are these wonderful receptacles of centuries of life in that country. 

    I was also drawn to them because I am from Reno, Nevada and the oldest thing we have is maybe 100 years old but in England this church was built before the Norman Conquest. This is a Saxon church from 900 AD and that blows my mind. The amount of human lives that have passed through in 1000 years is incredible. You can mark out these different periods of religious life in the UK. You can see where the Reformation happened. You can see where there was maybe counter-protests like Catholicism and Calvinism and all the -isms of Christianity. There are several time capsules in a single building where you can see various stages of development. 

    Definitely Europe and Asia have so much more history than the US in general. Are there any churches you would recommend, your highlights, your favorites, ones you would say if you are in England you should go visit?

    For me there are two schools of thought. There are the really big glorious churches, the cathedrals and the minsters. While those are all astonishing, they were more exposed to The Reformation, for example the Canterbury Cathedral. There is a lot that survived the Reformation and there is a lot that didn’t. 

    Whereas smaller kind of parish churches may have escaped some of those destructive forces. We lived in a region called West Oxfordshire in that central belt of England. Oxford is where the wool trade was really thriving in the 14th century. 700 years ago, there was a significant amount of wealth in that area. It shows in all the ecclesiastical buildings of that time period. A lot of them are so tucked away in these towns decimated by the Plague or 100 Years War. All of these forces were going on in that time in 13th, 14th, 15th centuries so maybe people moved away from that village and the church just sat there housing all these wonderful relics form the past. 

    There are a couple churches where I love the wall paintings, like a Fresco. In the UK, instead of calling them a Fresco, you call them a Wall Paintings because they are little. They are not a true Italian Fresco where there is a Gesso layer applied. They are more fragile unfortunately. During the Reformation, they would often throw whitewash up over the paintings. During the 17thand 18th centuries, they started picking away at the whitewash and find these unbelievable, vibrant, vivacious Medieval paintings still in place. To me it is almost like treasure hunting. It is so wonderful. It is a legitimate hobby in the UK called Church Crawling where you go look for things. Everyone has their favorites, some people like to go see Memorials, as in tombs. Some people are really into the woodwork. Some people are into the Baptismal Fonts. I love looking for graffiti. I miss it so much.

    You have an album called Overnight Lows. Where did the title come from?

    Interestingly, the title came to me even before I wrote the song. I have been a bit of an insomniac all my life. I liked that it is a double entendre. I loved overnight lows could refer to weather or the dark places we sometimes go to in the night when we can’t sleep. I like the Ray Charles lyric “The night time is the right time.” There is something sexy about it. I was pretty thrilled to land on it.

    Is there a favorite song on the album to perform live?

    That has been a moving target a bit. Surprisingly I really like singing “The Garden,” the kind of power ballad. Usually in a live setting you tend to sing the more upbeat things because people are drinking and out to have a good time. That one is more contemplative but I have found people really listen and that has been fun to be able to hold people’s attention even though it is a more somber experience.

    My two favorites are “Driving Highways” and “Not Afraid”. Are there any stories behind either of those you would like to talk about?

    “Driving Highways,” as I said I am from Reno, Nevada and it is one of the most unpopulated states. It is just big empty roads, you know? I moved to New York City in 2004 and drove the whole way there in a U-Haul and it was a very evocative experience. That kind of experience of taking a step forward not knowing where you are going to go but feeling everything you are leaving behind in the process. That is “Driving Highways.”

    You have traveled all over the world. Are there any special places that you would recommend for people or any special places you would like to go back to?

    Small Italian towns, not the big ones. Florence is absolutely amazing and Venice is amazing but I prefer the small towns. We went to Perugia recently and it was unbelievable, totally unbelievable. Perugia has a museum that has a collection that rivals anything else in Italy. Assisi is absolutely amazing. Verona is amazing outside of Venice. Oh my God, we went to Ravenna recently.

    Italy blows my goddamn mind how rich in history it is. It is just fascinating. It has to be that it is this big peninsula. As a region it has so much coastline so people would be coming and going from a maritime perspective. That has to be why, and Rome of course. Ravenna used to be this coastal town but the coastline has moved with the river that floats through the city deposited all this silt so the city no longer had access to the coastline and declined. At one point it was the capital of the Roman Empire after Rome had fallen. Before the idea of the Roman Empire was over and before the Byzantine Empire became centered in Constantinople, for a small time Ravenna was the imperial seat and there are these buildings still standing from that time period, like 380 or 410 ADS, and they are filled with mosaics and beautiful marble paneling. I am getting emotional thinking how astonishing the historic fabric in Ravenna is. I cannot recommend it enough. Go to Ravenna and have your mind blown.

    I love hearing about places that are not always well-known travel destinations.

    I think you have to be interested in that time period, coming out of the Classical time period into the early Medieval period, but it is just nuts and it is really beautiful.

    After this quarantine, do you have any dream vacation spots?

    Yes, I want to go to Sicily. I am really obsessed with Medieval history if you can’t tell. It is a funny thing. It is almost like collecting. I don’t walk away with any object but it feels like I am collecting knowledge and experience every time I go. We went to Ravenna right before Christmas and it was somewhere I had wanted to go for years. It was so satisfying to finally get there and see it and it will be the same when I get to Sicily.

    What is your one must have quarantine item?

    Booze. Isn’t it insane. We had to actually get another recycling bin. It is not good. I saw this meme on Instagram of a photograph of a massively packed stadium titled Alcoholics Anonymous 2021.

    I have been talking to a lot of chefs and secretly getting their cocktail recipes through questions so I don’t think you are alone. Are there any charities or groups you guys are supporting through the pandemic?

    I lived in New York City for 15 years and a huge part of my time in New York was defined by working in restaurants and that industry has been absolutely decimated. I don’t know what I would have done if my restaurant had to close and I didn’t know when it was going to open again and if it was going to open again. I really like what the New York Hospitality Coalition is doing.

    I know you lived in New York City many years. Are there any favorite New York City activities you love to do?

    You are going to make me all nostalgic. Before I got a car in New York, I would get a Zip Car with a girlfriend and we would drive out to Jacob Riis Beach, which feels like it is at the end of the world, take a cooler and smoke a joint on the beach and swim in a dirty ocean. 

    I loved walking the high line when it first opened; it felt like magic. I basically loved walking around New York. Say you get off the F Train at 4th Street and you walk to Union Square and instead of taking the train again you decide to keep walking to Madison Square and it is so nice out and you keep walking. You get a coffee, maybe you get an ice cream, run into somebody you know. It is such a beautiful city and it is so strange not to be there right now. It feels like I am betraying my chosen city, we might have been in Brooklyn but I had a gig here in LA. 

    This is crazy, I had my record release in LA on March 10th and literally the next day it became clear holy shit we shouldn’t be going to restaurants or anything anymore. My gig was a Tuesday night, and not to toot my own horn, but it was packed. I spent the next solid two weeks taking my temperature everyday and wondering if it was allergies or Coronavirus.

    This is such an unprecedented experience. Everyday is different. I don’t see how it can be over anytime soon with anything short of a magic bullet vaccine with enough for the population of the planet. 

    I am hopeful. I feel like good things might come out of this. People will hopefully more respect for the planet and for the environment. I am hoping there are lessons to be learned out of it.

    We need better social safety nets. We need to take care of each other better.

    Do you have any messages for your fans?

    Just lean into love and read a good book.

    Photo provided by the artist

  • Interview: Mickela Mallozzi

    Mickela Mallozzi is a four-time Emmy-award winning host and executive of Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi, a show that takes viewers all over the world through the lens of dance.

    Season 3 of the show which takes her to destinations that she has personal and cultural connections to, a road trip of her own DNA. The new season premiered on June 6 on NYC Life and will air nationwide in October on PBS. It has about 11 episodes as Mallozzi goes from Italy and Ireland to Spain, Morocco and Uzbekistan.

    The Travel Addict got the chance to catch up with Mallozzi who talks about her favorite travels, her passion for dance, combining the two, her love of plov and more. Check out the Travel Addict’s Interview with Mickela Mallozzi below:

    What can viewers expect on this new season of Bare Feet?

    Some tears, all for joy, but there are parts of this season where I get pretty emotional.  This entire new season has me dancing my way through my own DNA map, so there are some incredible moments where I feel especially connected to a place, whether that’s because someone looks like me or someone in my family or the people are just so incredibly kind to me that I am overwhelmed with emotion. 

    It’s also such a beautiful new season, to be honest – Seasons 1 and 2 were shot with just 1 camera – now I’m traveling with a crew of 2 camera people, which makes such a difference.  We’re still telling the touching stories that our fans love so much, it’s just even more visually appealing – I’m so proud of these new episodes!

    What has been one of your favorite places to film/visit either in this new season or in previous seasons?

    I know this sounds cliché, but I feel so lucky in every, single place I go when I’m able to film for the show.  I really see it as a privilege to have this opportunity – I mean, really – I think traveling through dance and music is the best way to see the world!  But If I had to pick from this new season, I would have to say The Republic of Georgia because I got to live out my dream of dancing with the Sukhishvili Georgian National Ballet!  That is something I will never forget!  Also, dancing with Dar Gnawa in Tangier, Morocco – talk about tears, I was dancing and definitely had an out of body experience.

    Describe one of the best dishes you have ever had on your travels and what country were you in?

    Plov in Uzbekistan!  Plov is this amazing dish made of rice, meat, and yellow carrots and it’s almost like a pilaf – it is so delicious, and the most beautiful part is that you eat it communally with everyone at your table, all sharing the same dish together.  It’s just so wonderful!  Bekruz, my guide in Tashkent, said it best – “Plov is love!”

    When did you know you wanted to combine your love of dance and travel?

    I’ve been using dance to communicate and connect with strangers since I can remember – it’s how I travel normally, which is why I started the project in the first place.  But the very first time I was conscious that I could make new friends by dancing with strangers was when I was 18-years old in Edinburgh, Scotland dancing a Scottish Ceilidh at my friend’s father’s wedding.  I had a smile across my face the entire time, and that’s when I fell completely in love with the feeling of using dance to break down barriers when traveling.

    What is a piece of advice would you give to young women who want to turn their love of travel into a career?

    I would say be very clear with your intention and figure out from the beginning what it is that you love about travel.  For me, even when I worked corporate jobs, I had to travel a lot, which I loved!  And even when I traveled for fun, I was never just relaxing at a beach – I always kept myself busy and filled my schedule with dance classes, events, things to do.  So transitioning to making travel my career wasn’t too far off from what I loved about traveling in the first place.

     I know a lot of people who love to travel, but their definition of travel may mean something very different from what they picture building a career through travel would be – coming to terms with those definitions early on is very important.  For me, travel is work, which I love.  When I want to be on vacation, I actually like to stay put and be a homebody (probably because I never get vacation time!).

    What is something you wish you knew before you started on this journey of dancing around the world?

    They say ignorance is bliss – I’m actually really glad I had no idea how long it would take for me to get to this point, with our third season of the show on PBS (9 ½ years, by the way!).  But what I did wish I knew earlier on was to enjoy the moments as they happen – just because something isn’t captured on camera doesn’t mean it never happened.  I’ve really embraced that mantra now – I don’t overshare on social media, and I try to be in the moment as much as possible now that I’m working harder than I ever have before.  And it’s been quite liberating, plus I’m enjoying my travels more than I had been.

    What is one place you would recommend people travel to?

    Travel to the place you have always wanted to visit!  Just go there, make that trip!  I think a lot of people always want to know where is the next place to go, what the hot new spot.  We hit so many great destinations in this new season – Uzbekistan, Romania, Cyprus, Morocco, Puglia, and more.  But if there is a place that has been on your mind to visit – whether that is 50 miles away or on the other side of the world, take the steps now to make that trip a reality.

    What is one place you would like to visit (that you haven’t been to yet)?

    I would really love to dance with the Maori people in New Zealand to learn the Haka, and also dance the Haya in Tanzania.  I would also really love to step with a sorority at HBCU in the US – that has been a dream of mine forever!  I’m hoping to do all of these and more in our next season of the show and beyond!

    Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi Season 3 will start airing nationally on PBS stations across the country later this fall!

    Interview by Liz Ramanand.

  • No Sunsets

    As our trip came to a close on Ortelius, I was kind of sad to leave the boat that had been home for the past 9 days. It was a magical adventure and as crazy as it sounds, I would highly a trip to the Arctic in the middle of the summer. Oceanwide Expeditions provides a unique travel experience for trips of a lifetime to see one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

    Travelers can witness wildlife only found in these regions and see first hand the impact of climate change as you sail to the polar ice cap. Take some time off and go to the land where the sun never sets on your next holiday!

    Total distance sailed: 1,445 Nautical Miles
    Most northerly position 82°28‘N, 017°30‘E

  • Walrus Beach

    Our last morning of arctic excursions started with the anticipated welcoming 7:30 am a wakeup call from Expedition leader Ali. We had now fully circumnavigated the Svalbard archipelago and we arrived at Poolepynten. Good news came over the ships address system that the walrus that we had been looking forward to seeing were home at their expected location on the beach.

    This point of land is a favored site for these marine mammals as it is easily accessible and the location provides a plentiful supply of nearby food, soft sand and relative shelter. We split into two groups for the landing. This allowed for premium viewing in smaller numbers, as well as not to overwhelm the walrus with our presence.

    Once ashore we walked with our guides to the animals, at a certain distance beyond the minimum 30 meters we were instructed to form a line and slowly walked in unison towards the herd, stopping periodically to observe and appreciate these giants of the Arctic without disturbing them. At one point a few of these giant animals took a swim and came up on the beach right next to us so we had to quickly move back to keep the 30 meters distance.

    As our visit on land was coming to a close, a Humpback whale appeared and passed by, very close to shore. Day 9 and it’s the first whale we had sighted.

  • Goose Bay

    Back onboard after our morning trip to Paierlbreen glacier, Captain Mikka set a new course to Gåshamna (Goose Bay), a scenic bay surrounded by high mountains, with the highest peak in Hornsund – Horsundtind at 1429 meters.

    The afternoon brought some of the best weather of the trip so the expedition staff was able to offer us a landing with several hiking possibilities. I chose to hike for the first time with no camera and only iPhone in hand for the first time throughout the trip.

    Those who took the long hike profited in a  breathtaking view from the top. With almost clear skies on the summit, we could see the whole of Hornsund up to Brepollen.

    We also had time to explore the historical Pomor sites as well as the English land-based whaling station in the bay. Remnant whale bones and blubber deposited in the ground still lend nutrients to the soil, thus creating small satellite biospheres of flora to the stark glacial outwash landscape. There were amazing rock formations along the jagged coastline and stunning views on the sea wall.

  • Paierlbreen Glacier

    Overnight on the Ortelius, as we headed into Day 8, we sailed around the southern tip of the archipelago and up to Hornsund, one of the most spectacular areas of Spitsbergen. Named by Jonas Poole, an English whaler in the 1600s after his crew returned to the ship bearing a deer’s horn, it is a place of deep, high sided fjords, active glacier fronts, and rocky ridgelines.

    When we woke there was low-lying fog and mist in the air, but the weather forecast suggested that it was meant to improve so we wrapped up warmly and the zodiacs were lowered ready for our morning cruise. Our destination was Paierlbreen, a huge valley glacier at the end of the Burgerbukta fjord. We spent two hours cruising in and around the glacier and it was by far one of the most spectacular glaciers I have ever seen. The zodiac boats full of red coats of cruise mates made the most spectacular photo opportunities of the day.

    On the way back to the boat we found two more polar bears at the entrance to the fjord but they were positioned in a way that made photographing them difficult.

  • Austfonna

    After our exciting time with the guillemots, we headed to see the expansive ice wall called Austfonna. Austfonna is an ice cap located on Nordaustlandet in Svalbard archipelago in Norway covering an area of 8492 sq kilometers.

    Just as we approached the massive wall of ice, the sun came out and an old sailing ship made its way into the photo frame. It captured a scene that looked like it was from a different time in history.

  • Alkefjellet – Mount Guillemot

    Day 6 of our Arctic journey sent us to Akerfjellet, which is known for the guillemot birds covering the cliff side all summer before taking their heroic journey south. These little birds are a tough species. When the birds reach adolescence at only 20-21 days old they must jump off the high cliffs into the arctic waters joined by their fathers for a swimming migration in the rough seas to travel away from the breeding ground to areas around Iceland and Greenland. They travel back to the same breeding area each spring.

    As we entered the zodiac boats to take a closer look at the birds, gone are thoughts of framing that perfect wildlife shot. Rough seas and swells were crashing against the small boats. Instead, hastily taken photos to be cropped later are snatched between sheltering one’s camera from sea spray and the ever-present risk of aerial excrement.  It was definitely a risky boat ride with a boat full of photographers with expensive cameras. Giant zip-lock plastic bags were the saving grace of the day.

  • Arctic Ice

    Late on Saturday evening, Ortelius had entered the fringes of the pack ice; I stayed up in anticipation of this moment. Around 1 am, a patchwork blanket of ice covering the ocean started to appear. We were moving at a steady able continuously northward. By 6 am we had reached 82° 23’2 N, which was much further North than the trip was planned to reach. The ice was 400 miles more north this year than in previous years.

    It was cold but all guests seemed to stay on deck as long as possible to enjoy the spectacular views before warming up in the lounge area with hot coffee and warm hot chocolate. This is a vista uniquely arctic and one that is sadly in decline. It is a pleasure to enjoy the expanse of such a landscape and be in the moment.

  • Karl XI Part 2

    The visit to Karl XI was a little heart-wrenching. The bears on the island had clearly missed their ride on the Arctic ice and were stranded on the island until the freeze would come back. The bears had limited food supply and most likely they would all not make it through the long summer until the ice returns. One of the bears was injured and we also witnessed the saddest scene of a mother carrying her dead cub around. The cub had died at least a month before based on reports and she was still grieving.

    The week before our visit there was a large controversy after a polar bear was shot by a crew on a German tourist ship after one member was attacked on land. This brought up the debate on whether this type of tourist excursion to the area where there is the risk of human interaction with the vulnerable status bears should be continued.

    This particular German expedition did not participate in information sharing about bear locations as part of the treaty in the Svalbard area with 99% of boats in the area. This could have likely resulted in preventing this incident where this bear was known to be on land for several weeks. The crew has strict guidelines and share information daily on the locations of all bears in the area to avoid these types of interactions.

    My personal opinion is that the more people see and learn first hand about the effects global warming and the retraction of polar ice caps have on the environment maybe they will do something to prevent further climate change issues. My eyes were opened on this trip to the realities of the shrinking of the Arctic ice by seeing first hand the impact on these amazing animals.