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World Vegan Travel Podcast TEXT Episode 125 Gita Dev Finger Lakes Vegan Tales: Exploring Plant-Powered Adventures with Ginger Cat B&B

Finger Lakes Vegan Tales: Exploring Plant-Powered Adventures with Ginger Cat B&B | Gita Devi | Ep 125

Introducing Gita

In this podcast Gita will take us on a thrilling adventure through the wonders of the Finger Lakes As we explore the enchanting Finger Lakes as a destination, Gita will be our expert guide, sharing her favorite vegan recommendations for dining, sightseeing, and immersing ourselves in the region’s breathtaking natural beauty. From serene lakeside walks to awe-inspiring waterfalls, Gita will show us how to experience the Finger Lakes with an ethical and conscious approach to travel.

But that’s not all; Gita is also the innkeeper of the delightful Ginger Cat B&B, where compassionate travelers find solace and comfort. During her stay, she’ll reveal what it’s like to experience the warm embrace of her vegan-friendly bed and breakfast, nestled amidst picturesque gardens and offering a sanctuary for mindful relaxation.

Let’s open our hearts and minds to the beauty of ethical travel as we savor the flavors, sights, and experiences that this remarkable region has to offer. Get ready to be inspired and enchanted as we set forth on this compassionate exploration together!

In this episode we discuss:

  • Exploring this remarkable region as a destination, discovering its breathtaking natural beauty and unique offerings.
  • Gita’s expertise as a guide, providing listeners with favorite vegan recommendations for dining, sightseeing, and immersing themselves in the Finger Lakes experience.
  • Gita’s approach to exploring the Finger Lakes emphasizes ethical and conscious travel.
  • Staying at Ginger Cat B&B, a vegan-friendly sanctuary nestled amidst picturesque gardens.
  • Gita’s impactful work as an animal advocate and how her journey in compassion led her to embrace a fulfilling vegan lifestyle
  • The noble mission of Farm Sanctuary in New York.
  • Valuable sustainable living tips, offering practical ways to minimize your environmental impact and contribute to a more eco-friendly travel experience.
  • Embracing the opportunity to savor flavors, sights, and experiences that contribute positively to the region and its inhabitants.
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Transcript

Brighde: Welcome, Gita. Thank you so much for joining me on the World Vegan Travel Podcast.

Gita: My pleasure.

Brighde: I am so pleased to have you here to talk about this very interesting destination, the Finger Lakes. And I didn’t know anything about this destination until one of our guests at the Vegan Travel Summit in January this year talked about it.

And the way she talked about it made me realize that I definitely want to go and check this place out, and then when I realized that there was a vegan bed and breakfast in the Finger Lakes, I just knew that I wanted to talk to you. Thank you Gita so much for coming on the podcast and sharing a little bit about this remarkable destination.

Gita: Sure. I didn’t know anything about it until I moved up here.

Brighde: Let’s talk about that. Tell us a little bit about why you ended up here. Because you were originally from Massachusetts, right?

Gita: Correct. I lived outside Boston and I moved up here to take a job at Farm Sanctuary.

Brighde: Okay,

Gita: You’re familiar with Farm Sanctuary,

Brighde: I am. But why don’t you let our listeners know, because maybe there are some that are not familiar?

Gita: Right. Farm Sanctuary is the first and the oldest sanctuary for factory-farmed animals in the United States. And I had been a supporter for years and a friend of mine told me that they were looking for some help, and I happened to be in a situation where I needed a job. So I interviewed and I was driving from Massachusetts up here in the winter to interview.

Got the job. Ended up selling my house in Massachusetts to a good friend of mine. Found a house up here, and moved up in April. Started my job in April, and then when the weather started getting better and I started driving around the area, I realized how incredibly beautiful it is up here. The Finger Lakes If you look on a map, it looks like five fingers, but there’s actually, I think almost 13 Finger Lakes and it’s just an exquisitely beautiful country with waterfalls, and the hills and the valleys, and the lakes. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. And because of Farm Sanctuary, you have almost every restaurant has vegan and vegetarian options because of the tourism trade they have to cater to that, the wineries, the breweries, and the distilleries are making more of their beverages, and are now vegan. So it’s a great place to visit. Yeah.

Brighde: That, that’s really cool because generally speaking, in rural areas, places where there are national parks, there are very few options at all. So this is fantastic that you could go to a place and experience outstanding natural beauty and at the same time have some fun food.

Gita: We now have two vegan restaurants, right in Watkins Glen and Montour Falls, which is the next town over. And the local ice cream shops always have homemade vegan ice cream options, and they’re very careful to make sure that they don’t cross-contaminate.

Brighde: That’s amazing. I really want us to get in deep into all of the things there are to see and do in this area because I’m sure there are a ton of activities and a ton of must-dos. Tell us a little bit about why you decided to open up your bed and breakfast because bed and breakfasts are such a wonderful accommodation style for so many reasons.

So why don’t you tell us a little bit about your bed and breakfast story?

Gita: Okay. As I said, I moved up here to work at Farm Sanctuary. That was in early 2006 and I loved it. I was in charge of event planning, and doing tours and volunteer-based. And then in 2007, the economy tanked here in the US, and it affected Farm Sanctuary as a nonprofit quite heavily. And so they ended up having layoffs.

And the old story last in, first out. So in October, I believe, I was notified that I was gonna be let go, and I was like, I totally freaked out of course. And I said, “Now what do I do?”. Because again, as you said, it’s a very small area. There’s not a lot of options as far as work.

But I knew having been working at Farm Sanctuary and doing the tours, and we had accomodations there, that there was a definite need for a vegan bed and breakfast, and my house when I first bought it, the way it was laid out when I walked in, I was like, this house is really big.

It’s bigger than what I need, but the way it was laid out, I could easily separate the two bedrooms, a bathroom, and the breakfast area into a bed and breakfast. So that’s what I decided to do. So after I got laid off, I did some remodelling, because my background also is in remodelling, and doing that kind of stuff. I opened up officially in 2008. So I’ve been in business since doing the B&B since 2008.

Brighde: Wow.

Gita: Yeah.

Brighde: That’s 15 years now. That’s amazing. I’m sure you’ve got tons of stories. So tell us a little bit about the situation of your bed and breakfast. Is it in a very rural area or is it attached to a little town? How many rooms are there that are available? Do you have a garden?

What? What’s the breakfast like? I’d love to know more details.

Gita: Okay, I only have two rooms and they share a bathroom. And because of Covid, I’ve now restricted it to renting only one out of the two rooms at a time unless it’s a family or friends who are traveling together because I didn’t feel comfortable asking people to share a bathroom during Covid, and I am still asking people to be vaccinated before staying here just because it’s my home,

and it’s a small space. But now basically if you stay here, you have the entire bed and breakfast to yourself. Basically, it’s half of the house. I have a huge deck that’s 15 by 30. I have 15 acres of land. I’ve cut some Trailways through, maybe one and a half acres.

I do have gardens. I was a very avid perennial gardener. So right now the gardens are flourishing, of course, with the rain they need to be weeded, but I haven’t been out there as much. I’m in a rural area. It’s a very small town, but I’m only five miles outside of Watkins Glen.

I’m only nine miles away from Farm Sanctuary, and I’m up at around 1200 feet elevation, and there are no streetlights. So at night when it’s a clear sky, you can sit out on the deck and literally you see the Milky Way and the planets, and it’s absolutely exquisitely beautiful up here. It blew me away.

I moved up here in April, and I was out on the deck and I was looking up, and I was like, where did these clouds come from? Because it had been such a clear day. And then I realized as my eyes had adjusted, that I was seeing the Milky Way. And the only other place I’d ever seen stars like that was up in the Rocky Mountain National Forest. And the other nice thing about being up at 1200 feet elevation, is that even with the heat wave that we’re having now during the day, at night it cools down to about 65, 70 degrees. So you can open up the windows, turn off the AC, have a ceiling fan going, and it’s just really pleasant.

And I’m pet-friendly. One of my rooms is pet friendly, and I have some folks coming in next week with their dog. And for my breakfast, I’m a really good cook. I have to give myself some credit. But you know, pancakes, waffles, quiche, frittatas, french toast, you name it, I can make it.

Brighde: And do people have their breakfast in their own dining area or do come and sit with you?

Gita: No, it’s in their own dining area. My space is completely separated because I have cats. I’m down to two and I don’t want the cats out into the B&B area because people do have allergies. And it’s also easier for me to keep clean. I don’t have to worry about cat hair, just dog hair, and people can bring their dogs too.

And I’ve had a couple of dogs stay here and cats, they’re separated. If they wanna meet the cats, they can come into my side of the house ‘because one of my boys is very friendly and he loves greeting everyone. Yeah.

Brighde: That just sounds lovely. I really love Bed and Breakfast. Generally speaking, I don’t usually stay in them. My partner, for various reasons that I won’t bore you with, generally prefers hotels. I don’t understand it, but I really like it when breakfast, because you are supportive,

in this case, a vegan business. And what are they gonna do with their money? They’re probably definitely not gonna be supporting animal agriculture with the money that they make, and I love that. And you’ve just got somebody there that’s a wealth of knowledge and they’re really passionate about what they do.

It sounds like you are an extremely conscientious bed and breakfast host, and there are just so many things to love about it. I love it. And where can people find your bed and breakfast? Do you just have a website or are you on Airbnb? Like how does that work?

Gita: I have my website. I am listed on Airbnb. But there are so many listings now unless you specify that you’re looking for a bed and breakfast and also pet-friendly. I’ll show up. Otherwise, it’s hard. This whole area has now become Airbnb. It’s crazy. I’m also on Expedia, and Google, I have almost all five-star reviews on Google, so people can find me if they want to.

If they’re looking for vegan B&B, and let’s say, Watkins Glen, I should show up.

Brighde: Fantastic. Now, I’m sure everyone listening to this is definitely thinking, that sounds like the place that I will go to if I’m ever in the area, but what is the Finger Lakes actually like? You’ve talked a little bit about the geography of the area and the altitude, and I guess I’d love it if you could give our travelers a bit of a sense of what the vibe is like, what other kinds of things there are to do, what kinds of people would like to come to the Finger Lakes? So that’s a lot. Let’s start with the first question like, who finds the Finger Lakes particularly appealing?

Gita: Oh, that’s a really good question because there’s such a vast thing, so many things to do up here. You’ve got people who are into wine, into beer, into distilleries, breweries, into food. They’re into nature, hiking, and boating. Because we have Watkins Glen National State Park, they get over a million visitors a year.

There are 19 waterfalls. So you can walk the state park from the base all the way up to the top and back down, and you’ll have visitors from all over the world. There are tour buses that are coming. A lot of folks are from India, Asia, and obviously the United States. This area also, it’s interesting, it’s Amish and Mennonite.

We have the Mennonite farm stands and the Amish farm stands and their produce, they may not be totally organic, but they hardly use any pesticides. And just amazing. I have one a mile and a half from my house, so if my garden isn’t producing, I just drive down the street and pick up my stuff if I don’t go to a CSA.

And then you have, like I said, People who wanna go hiking, people who wanna go camping, like I said, the wineries. And then there are universities. So you have Cornell and several other universities and colleges there as well. And we joke that Ithaca is a very liberal outpost because this area is surrounded. It’s not the most liberal place to be, but the folks,

I found that we may not agree politically on a lot of things, but some of the nicest, kindest people I’ve ever met. My neighbors, if I was ever in trouble, are the first ones who would come and help me. And that’s the vibe up here. Granted, like I said, politically you may still see, excuse me for saying, the Trump signs and stuff, but they respect you for who you are and they accept you for who you are,

and I’ve just been very happy up here.

Brighde: Oh, I’m so pleased that you’ve been enjoying your time. Tell me, how is it to get there? I’m guessing New York is the closest city, how do people get there? How do people get around?

Gita: Most people drive their cars or again, tour buses, and I don’t know if New York City would be the closest. You have Rochester and Syracuse. We’re actually Western New York versus upstate is Albany, but Rochester and Syracuse are only an hour and a half away,

and Toronto is only four hours away.

Brighde: Only four hours?

Gita: Oh yeah, we have a lot of Canadian

visitors that come here from Toronto. Yeah. Big tourist attraction for them because they like to come to the States or I guess their money goes further. Then you have Pennsylvania. So we have a lot of visitors from New York itself, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Canada. Yeah, it’s interesting how many people come and visit. I would say most people are driving.

Brighde: I see. And is there good public transportation between the towns? Of course, we would need vehicles to get to the trailheads and get to the lakes, I’m sure. But is there any public transportation?

Gita: Not really.

Here in Watkins, they do have a bus that a lot of folks who don’t drive can use to go shopping, and it has pickup stops. And then this year they just started what they call a wine trolley. So you can park your car down in Watkins, hop on the wine trolley, and it’ll take you up to some of the wineries in the breweries and probably the distilleries, and then back into Watkins,

and that’s new this year.

Brighde: I like that ‘because it encourages people to not drive when and enjoy the wineries to the max. I’m sure people would stop going to certain wineries because they only want to do one or two in a day, for example. That’s really cool. So they actually do have grapes growing in that area?

Gita: Yes. That’s the thing because the Finger Lakes being like Seneca Lake, which is the lake that I’m closest to, is over 600 feet deep, so it very rarely ever freezes in the winter. So you’ll see the grapes growing along the sides of the lake, and it’s now, this whole area has now been, I think, designated as one of the finest wine-growing regions in the world. We went from being just like a boutique kinda wine spot to world famous, and they’ve expanded now. It used to be just like the Rieslings, they were very known for the Rieslings. Now they’re known more for a huge variety of reds, whites and Rosés, and all sorts of stuff.

I’m not a huge wine drinker myself, I have to admit I’m more of a beer drinker, and we’ve got some really good breweries up here, but the wines are phenomenal. And champagne.

Brighde: Wow, that is so surprising. I would not have thought of New York State as being a wine-producing area. That’s so interesting.

Gita: Do a Google search and you’ll find that they’re consistently now rated as one of the top wine regions to visit in the world.

Brighde: Wow. Incredible. I can’t wait to check that out. That sounds so fun.

One of the things that I love about having people who are very familiar with the destination that we are talking about is that they’ve done a lot.

So as a result, they know many of the best things to do in a local area. So, I’d love to talk about your favorites of certain things. So what is your favorite hike that you’d recommend to people and why do you recommend it?

Gita: Well, for sure, the Watkins Glen State Park. I’ve hiked it quite a few times, and it’s different every time you hike it because it depends. If we’ve had a lot of rain, the waterfalls will be just booming. And there’s one, it’s called the Rainbow Falls, where you actually walk underneath the falls and if the sun is out, it creates rainbows, from the water vapor.

It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s exquisitely beautiful, and there are several trails. It’s not just one trail. There’s one main trail that goes up and then you can take what they call the rim trail. So you get to look down. It’s like a 10,000-foot drop. It’s huge. So that’s my favorite and I haven’t walked too many of the others, but there are some other smaller ones locally, but I would say Finger Lakes the Watkins Glen State Park

Brighde: So is that hike like a several-day event or is it just something you can do in a day?

Gita: It’s several hours, and then when you’re done and you come back into Watkins, then you can go get some vegan ice cream.

Brighde: That sounds amazing. So let’s talk about the food then. What are your favorite vegan restaurants or vegan-friendly restaurants?

Gita: We just had a new one. There was a Thai restaurant that had opened up several years ago, Thai Elephants, and they had extensive vegan and vegetarian options. And then, maybe three or four months ago, they opened up a separate 100% vegan Thai restaurant called Green Elephants. Also in Watkins, owned by the same people, because I think their chef who had been working at the old one is vegan, and the demand for that was obviously big enough for them to say, let’s open up a separate one. So they’ve been open only a few months and I’ve probably eaten there now seven or eight times. And it’s small, it’s intimate.

The food is freshly made and prepared, and they give you a huge amount of food. The prices are so reasonable. During the week you can get a lunch for $12, and that includes soup salad, and the main course.

I send everybody there. And if you look at their reviews online, they’re all five-star reviews.

So that’s one of my favorites. And then a year ago, another small restaurant opened up called Grandma’s Kitchen, which is hundred per cent vegan, and their byline is, it’s, “Food like grandma used to make”, but vegan. They’re only open now on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. But again, worth it. They’ve catered events at Farm Sanctuary and they’ll do special events during the weekends and weekdays for the locals to come in.

So those are two of my favorites. There’s a Chinese restaurant that has a separate vegetarian menu. I’d say 90% of which is vegan, but almost everywhere you go. Because of Farm Sanctuary, you can get food, you will not go hungry here, ever. And then there’s Ithaca and Angel Heart’s Diner is a hundred percent vegan.

And again, more of the restaurants are also very vegan,

Brighde: Wow! That just sounds so delicious. And of course, at the ice cream place. That sounds amazing.

Gita: Yeah. And we have a Ben and Jerry’s, and they always have a couple of vegan options at the Ben and Jerry’s as well.

Brighde: Fantastic. Something I’m curious about. Are there other outdoor activities that are possible to do? For example, I don’t know, lakes, I think of kayaking and canoeing. So tell me a little bit about how people can access those kinds of activities.

Gita: There are a couple of companies right down in Watkins Glen that offer that, that offer kayaks for rent, and I believe, probably canoes for rent as well. And there are several that you can actually book a boat and take a boat tour. One is a three, two or three-masted schooner, and the other one takes you up on the lake.

And they also do dinner. They have music, live music, that’s Captain Bill Seneca Lake Cruises. It’s interesting to be on the lake. To get a different perspective because this is a large Native American area, formally, so when you’re going along the inside the lake, you can see along the sides of the lake, almost like hieroglyphics, that the Native Americans who had lived here, had designed and done, and you get a different perspective of the lake itself.

Brighde: That’s so interesting that it’s, by the sounds of it, still has a high indigenous population, so are there other ways that people can access that? For example, where I live, we live close to Whistler and we have this fantastic museum, that talks all about the groups that were living there before

colonization, before the area was settled, and of course insights into how it is right now. So are there ways that people can become familiar with and educate themselves in that area?

Gita: I believe so there’s in Montour Falls, which is the town just south of Watkins, there’s a historical museum. And so they can go there, and there’s a fairly active community keeping I guess, the traditions of the Native Americans alive or they’ll have events where they’ll do their dancing and storytelling.

I haven’t been there personally just because the B&B usually keeps me busy at the times that these things are happening on weekends. So weekends are when it’s my busiest time, which is a little sometimes like really frustrating because you wanna go, but you’re like, I’ve got guests coming in and I have to prepare food.

But yeah, it’s a fairly active community. To keep their traditions alive because let’s face it, they were not treated very well, at all.

Brighde: Of course. Yeah. It’s something that I always recommend people that go to when they come up to my part of the world because the center is so well put together. So interesting, and so insightful, and I feel sometimes it’s put further down on people’s list of things to do because there are so many other amazing things to do in regards to the natural beauty and the outside activities, but this is such an important thing that we learn about as well, and it will usually help us to get a better understanding of the geography and the history of the area as well. So, definitely, people should put these things higher up on their list.

I think.

Gita: Right.

Brighde: So. What about other kinds of activities? I’m thinking of cycling or rock climbing, or parasailing. I recently did my first parasail. That was incredible. So what about those sorts of more active extreme activities?

Gita: There was a company that did the balloon rides, air balloon rides.

Brighde: Oh, hot air ballooning.

Gita: Hot air ballooning I had listed with them because my property is big enough that they could take off. I’ve never had anyone sign up, but I know that was there. You see a lot of cyclists on the roads here because there are a couple of cycling events that they have, and you can cycle all the way from here, all the way down towards Elmira, which is 30 miles away.

And then we also have NASCAR Watkins Glen International Racetrack. So you, yeah, that’s one of the oldest racetracks and when they’re running, because I’m up at 1200 feet, you can actually hear the car, the zoom, zoom going on. When Phish played a concert there, we could sit in my driveway and listen to the music because it was just in the air.

It was like, wonderful. So there’s that, there’s NASCAR, there’s cycling, the boating, the hiking. There are museums. Corning Museum of Glass is one of the most fascinating places to visit ‘because people think of Corning as Correl Ware, but it’s so much more. They make the glass for your iPads, for your cell phones.

And they’re doing a lot of industrial glass. And their museum is, it’s one of my favorite places to visit if I have the time ‘because you can sit and watch them. They have live blast-blowing shows. And to watch someone start with basically sand, and end up with these gorgeous creations. And I tell people, if you’re going to go to the museum, plan to spend the entire day there because you can’t see everything, and their gift shop is phenomenal as well.

Museums, there are a lot of museums again, in Corning. There’s a Rockwell museum, which is not the Rockwell that you normally think of, but it’s like a historical museum. And then again, Ithaca is just, there’s a lot of stuff to do in Ithaca. Yeah there’s just a lot of folks when they come here, for a day or two or a weekend, and then they say to me, they said, “We could have spent an entire week here and still not done everything.”

I said, “Then come back”, and folks do that, they’ll plan out what they’re gonna do the next time they come.

There are over a hundred wineries just on Seneca Lake alone. You yeah, you can’t possibly visit all of them.

Brighde: So do a lot of people just come up for the weekend from one of the biggest cities, I’m guessing so. So in your mind, what would be the perfect long weekend? So let’s say two full days of visiting the Finger Lakes area, of course basing themselves in your bed and breakfast, if they’ve never been to this part of the world before and don’t plan on coming back, what would you say is the perfect itinerary for that?

Gita: Okay, first you’d come in and get settled here, go out for dinner, and then come back. The next day you’ve set up an appointment to go to Farm Sanctuary to take a tour. To me, Farm Sanctuary is, it’s heaven on earth. You get to meet the animals and learn their stories, and you can hang out there. Then after that, you can go into town, get some lunch, hike the Gorge Trail at the state park, and have dinner. Then, just chill out. If it’s a nice night, come back here, watch the stars, have a bottle of wine, some beer, whatever. And then the next day, if you want to do your wineries or your breweries, hike the Gorge. Again, there’s just so much to do and it’s pretty astounding Even though it’s like I said, over a million visitors visit the Watkins Glen State Park, Watkins Glen is a very small town and the towns around here are very small. And they’re geared toward tourism. So tourists are treated like royalty, and everyone goes out of their way to accommodate, which is really nice.

Brighde: That is really nice. What times of year are best to come to this part of the world? I’m thinking, maybe this is like a two-pronged question in terms of the weather and the climate, and also in terms of, maybe there are some interesting festivals or events that are going on that people might like to check out. So why don’t you tell us your dos and dont’s regarding recommended times?

Gita: If you are coming up predominantly for the wineries, I would say come up in May and June before tourism season gets really going because they’re not crowded, and they can spend more time with you during your tasting. And you’re not hitting all the traffic because the roads up here, they’re very narrow. They’re one way each way. Farm Sanctuary opens up in May, so come up, if you’re visiting the sanctuary come up in May. They close at the end of, I believe, October. If you’re not into NASCAR, don’t come up during a race weekend because we can have a hundred thousand people coming into town. Granted a lot of them camp up there and they stay up on the property, but then they come in for meals at night. I love May and June, July, and then September, and October. The weather is just, it’s cooler and it’s perfect. And if you’re into the lakes, and just kayaking almost any time of the year.

I really recommend if you do the wineries and the breweries come up early in the season. They’re open almost now, year-round. When I first moved up here, they used to close down in the winter because they didn’t get the tourism and then they decided they were losing too much money by closing down.

So they stayed open and they have events throughout the year now on weekends, and they’re drawing more crowds.

Brighde: So, that’s my next question, Gita. What is it like during the winter months? What are the winters like?

Is the area still accessible? You talked about the wine tasting still being accessible, which is great, but I’m thinking about activities, for example, where I am, we have skiing and of course cross country skiing.

But there are still a number of ways that people can enjoy the winter and it’s not too cold, so it’s not too challenging where we live. So tell us about the wintertime. Is it an interesting winter destination?

Gita: I used to be open year-round, but then I didn’t get enough traffic, so I tend to close down after Thanksgiving but the roads up here, the road crews are phenomenal. So the roads are almost always clear. The wineries are open. You can get to Ithaca.

There are things to do. The museums stay open year-round. The state park closes down because the trails get too icy and it’s just too dangerous. But, there are things to do depending on what you want to do. Farm Sanctuary closes after, I think October. But the museums are open, the wineries, the breweries, and the distilleries are all open, and it’s quieter.

It’s more peaceful. There are times when the winters up here can be really severe, and you may get a lot of snow if you’re not used to driving. That’s the funny thing. I have folks that come here from New York City who doesn’t drive very often, and they have to admit, they totally freak out if there’s like an inch of snow on the ground.

But like I said, the road crews. The roads are cleared. They’re out there overnight clearing the roads, and I clear my driveway, I’ve got a snowblower. It depends on what you want and what you want to do. Winter times it’s more quiet. I tend to hibernate more, just because at my age it’s just a nice respite, just to chill out and just be with friends and see who I want to see.

Brighde: Fantastic. So I think our listeners who have never heard of or been to the Finger Lakes before, I’m sure they are dying to come because it just sounds like such a special part of the world. And of course, I really invite listeners who do go there, to go and check out Gita’s lovely, welcoming bed and breakfast. So before we go, Gita, can you tell us how people can book with you? Are any other details that you didn’t yet talk about that you think would be helpful for people to know, and how people can book?

Gita: To book, go to the website, which is www.gingercat-bb.com. You’ll save money. Rather than booking through Expedia or one of the other OTAs, you save, you don’t have to pay a commission and I don’t have to pay a commission. So ginger cat dash bb.com. You’ll see immediately there’s a link to go to the reservation page and check the calendar.

And I would love to have you come and stay. I have a lot of openings this year. As I said, are two rooms, and one shared bathroom, but right now, if you are coming and it’s just you and your family, you will have the place to yourselves.

If you need both rooms, you can book both rooms. I’m located five and a half miles north of Watkins in a very small town. It’s very peaceful. I’m on 15 acres of land, which I leave mostly alone and naturalized so that the deer in all the wildlife, you can hear them, the birds, the chipmunks are out every morning.

As a matter of fact, the chipmunks and the squirrels are waiting after breakfast to see what leftovers they will get. It’s really pretty funny to watch them. They’re sitting on the stoop looking like, “Okay, you gotta bring us some stuff. What’s going on buddy? Give us some food”. And it is a little bit of a sanctuary.

It’s named The Ginger Cat. It was named after one of my foster failures because I’m involved with cat rescue and have been most of my life. I ran a shelter back in Massachusetts, and we rescued this ginger boy actually around the corner from Farm Sanctuary when I was working there. And Wally was like the favorite cat of everyone who came to visit.

He, unfortunately, passed about a year ago, and people miss him when I posted it on our Facebook page, which is, Facebook, ginger, cat, bb so many people wrote in and were tributes and photographs that they had taken from him. But his best friend, Sebastian, who’s a big black and white Maine Coon, now has taken his place, greeting my guests when they want to come in and say hi.

So, I would love to have you come and stay. As I said, I have a lot of openings. My food is really good, and I can accommodate if you’re gluten-free if you don’t eat sugar. I have some folks coming tonight who don’t eat oil. You know that I think they’re whole food plant-based, so I will not use any oil in whatever I make, and I try to accommodate whatever your requirements are, and there’s a lot of food, you’ll not go hungry.

Brighde: I love that. Gita, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to join us on the podcast. I appreciate it and can’t wait to get down to the Finger Lakes myself. Thank you so much.

Gita: I’d love to be your hostess.

Brighde: Thank you.

Gita: Thank you. Finger Lakes Vegan Tales: Exploring Plant-Powered Adventures with Ginger Cat B&B

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COMING SOON: THE BEST OF THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE: Paris, Loire & Dordogne

This trip is still in the planning stage, but you can expect:

Scheduled for September 2025
100% vegan local French cuisine
stay in a château!
Visit castles and medieval villages
17,000 year-old prehistoric cave art
Visit & tasting at a Loire winery

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