Main

Land Travel Archives

February 5, 2006

Rome 2005

Marc and I took our first trip to Rome in November of 2005. It was sort of a belated honeymoon. We were there for a week and saw most of the tourist destinations, since this was my first trip to Rome. Our hotel was Capo D'Africa, about a 5 minute walk from the Colosseum. We enjoyed our stay...I highly recommend it.
Rome was everything I had imagined! We walked all over the city...I even walked holes in my socks on the last day. Everything was interesting...even the trash cans were works of art! Marc took this night picture of the Colosseum.
Castle%20088.jpg
This next picture is something that intrigued me. I'm not sure what it's called, but it was on the side of a church. You could walk up, drop in a coin, light a candle and say a prayer for someone. They are all over the city. I thought they were beautiful. My grandmother would have loved this.
S.Giovanni%20004.jpg
Of course, we ate well all week and managed to get in a little shopping, too.
I made sure to toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain, so I can be sure to return.
I LOVE ROME!

August 5, 2006

Disney World, October 2006

In October of 2006 Marc and I headed for Orlando. I had a business trip, so Marc went with me and we extended it from 3 days to a week. We rented a convertible, put the top down, and the party was on! We went to Daytona Beach, NASA and Disney World. I think Disney World was the highlight of the trip because we got to act like kids all day and it was encouraged.
This picture is Marc with Ariel...he has a thing for her...we waited in a long line of little kids so he could have his picture taken with her. Doesn't he look like a happy guy?
DSC_0090.JPG

Does anyone know who these guys are? They kept trying to steal my jewelry?
DSC_0133.JPG

February 5, 2008

Christmas in New York City 2007

In December of 2007 we decided to take a five day trip to New York City. We wanted to be home for Christmas, but we wanted to experience New York during the holidays, and it did not disappoint. We wanted to experience some nostalgic NYC, so we stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. One morning we took a very cold ferry ride to Ellis Island. The timing was great because there was a huge temporary exhibit about Sicily. I spent a lot of time at this exhibit and learned quite a bit about life in Sicily at the turn of the century. This was fascinating to me because my great grandfather came from Messina, Sicily during that period.
We spent one afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wow, we could spend days in there!
Of course, I had to have at least one cannoli each day. They are my favorite dessert, and I can't get them where I live. I introduced Marc to a hot pastrami sandwich at a Jewish Deli...he was in LOVE. It was so big that he couldn't eat the whole thing. He still whines about the part he couldn't finish.
We did a lot of shopping, and a lot more window shopping. There's nothing like the holiday windows in New York City! I took this picture of a little boy looking in a window. He just stood there for the longest time, mesmerized. It was so sweet, I just stood there watching him. It makes me think of how much fun I had with my boys at Christmas when they were little.
PC170316.JPG
We also went to the 75th Anniversary Rockette's Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. It was quite fabulous!
PC180303.JPG
We had good food, shopped till we dropped, and were home in time for Christmas with our family. It was a great trip!

September 5, 2008

Boston Vacation July 2008

In July of 2008 we decided to spend 8 days in and around Boston. We chose this time of year because we wanted to attend the Saint Joseph's Feast in the North End. Boy, did we have fun! The Society of Saint Joseph puts on a big parade where men carry a statue of Saint Joseph through the streets of the North End. The parade has a huge following of people of all ages, winding up and down the streets for several hours. Of course, there was plenty of food...and you can't miss Mike's Pastry for a cannoli or two.
DSC_0228.JPG
DSC_0214.JPG
That was my kind of FUN!


May 31, 2009

Planning our Tuscan Adventure

WoooHoooo! The countdown is on...just 13 days till our next adventure. June 13th we'll be heading to Italy again. The plan is to spend the first four nights in Cortona. We'll be taking a balloon ride with Robert Etherington of Ballooning in Tuscany...can't wait. We'll also be spending a day cooking with Alessandra Federici in Cortona...we've heard wonderful things about her.
The next five days we'll be based in Florence. I'm going to meet my man "David" and eat plenty of gelato. :) We haven't really planned more than one thing per day...we want to really experience Florence the slow way. I've spent a lot of time reading the SlowTravel forum, and I hope I've learned how to take my time and become part of my surroundings.
Life is good...let the packing begin!

August 4, 2009

2009 Italy Trip

ReadyForTakeOff.JPG
On June 12, 2009 we sold our house. The next day we left on a trip to Italy. We spent 9 glorious days based in Cortona for 4 days, and Florence for the other 5 days. We had a wonderful time cooking with Alessandra Federici in Cortona, and floating over the Tuscany Valley with Ballooning in Tuscany.
You can read all about it in my trip report. We had such a great time we're already planning the next one.

August 5, 2010

Ceramics from Cortona, Italy

I really enjoy viewing the pictures people share of the treasures they've found on their trips, especially the ceremic treasures, so I thought I'd share a few of my own.
These are two of the 6 pieces Marc and I purchased last summer from Casantonio in Cortona. It was a great little store. We had a very hard time deciding what we wanted...I wanted it all!
We had never shipped anything home, so we were a little nervous. The box arrived in perfect condition within a month. I was quite impressed by how well it was packed.
The delivery time couldn't have been better. The box arrived about a week before we were moving into our new home, so it was kind of our own housewarming present.
DSC_0061.JPG

DSC_0066.JPG

September 1, 2010

It’s the Little Things…

In November I’ll be back in Rome and I’m counting the days. Here are a few of the little things I love about Rome.
Prayer.jpg

I love the walk-up shrines where you can drop in some coins, light a candle and say a prayer. It makes me smile and wonder how many little old ladies do this on a regular basis. My grandmother would’ve loved this.

I love to walk with Marc late at night. The last time we were in Rome we stayed near the Colosseum. One night we went for a walk at about 3 am. The city was sleeping and it was so peaceful and absolutely beautiful.

I love the quaint little flower shops. Even in December these little shops are bursting with flowers spilling onto the street. It’s hard to walk by and not buy some. This year I’ll be bringing lots of fresh flowers back to my hotel room.

I love to watch people driving their Vespas. I get a kick out of seeing a woman in a dress and high heels, or a man in a suit, driving them to work. It’s very interesting to see how they cover parts of the Vespa to protect themselves from the cold and rain. It’s just a little thing, but I like it.

I love to look at the doors in the residential areas. It makes me wonder what’s on the other side. Sometimes there is an apartment, sometimes a whole courtyard. One time we were walking down the street when a door opened and a beautiful woman in her mid 60’s walked out. She was wearing a fabulous coat and very high heels…stunning! For the next 10 minutes I daydreamed about where she might be going.

These are the things I’m dreaming about while I wait for my return to Rome.

September 5, 2010

1,000 Places To See Before You Die

About two years ago I added this book to my library of travel books. It's called 1,000 Places To See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz. It provides information about places all over the world. Much more than just the tourist attractions. There is also a website to go along with the book.
http://www.1000beforeyoudie.com/

books.jpg

It's been a valuable addition to my collection.

September 6, 2010

Ballooning in Tuscany

Ever gone on a hot air balloon ride? Last June, Marc and I were fortunate enough to have that experience with Robert Etherington of Ballooning in Tuscany.

We met Robert and his wife Liz at about 5:30am at their home, just outside Montisi, Italy. He was getting the balloon ready as we drove up. Marc and I assisted in the cold and hot inflation of the balloon. That was great! We didn’t realize we’d be able to help put up and take down the balloon.

Tuscany Valley

Robert and Marc discussing the view

Deflating the balloon

A tug of a lever by Robert, extreme heat from the burner, and we slowly lifted toward the new day. A smile came across my face that would last for hours after our flight. We slowly floated over the Tuscan countryside. It was surprisingly peaceful, just an occasional dog barking us away from its territory. The views were breathtaking. Neither words nor any of the photos we took do it justice.

Robert was excellent. He was the perfect combination of balloon pilot, tour guide, history professor and comedian. All delivered with his peppy British accent. He is a very memorable character and I’m glad to have met him. When we were done floating, we landed ever so gently on a farmer’s field, three castles in view, close to the road.
Once the balloon was deflated and I was pried out of the basket we all adjourned to the shade for the customary champagne toast.

With our Ballooning in Tuscany certificate in hand we left Robert and Liz for our next adventure. This was one of the highlights of our trip. Robert gave us the very best possible view of the Tuscany Valley. It’s an adventure we’ll never forget!

September 10, 2010

Gelato for two...

As my trip grows closer, my mind turns to gelato. Even in November, I'll be eating gelato.

This image was taken at a cozy little restaurant in Rome, in the area around the Colosseum. Marc and I shared a bowl of gelato because it's all we had room for, after a wonderful dinner.

gelato.jpg

I hear many comments about where to find the best gelato in Italy. I wish I had an answer, but I don't. It's all good! I've yet to be disappointed, but I'll be happy to keep searching.

September 12, 2010

These Boots Are Made For Walking

With our next trip only 2 months away, it's time to think about what I'll be wearing on my feet. There are several things to consider.
1. We're only taking carryon luggage, so I'll probably only bring one pair of shoes.
2. We'll be in Rome, Venice and Munich, so there will be plenty of up and down walking.
3. It will be November, so I need something waterproof, because of all the rain.
4. November will probably be cold in Munich, so I need something warm.
5. Over the years I've managed to break at least one bone in each of my feet, so I need support.

The last time I visited Rome was in the month of December, when it was chilly and rainy. I wore a pair of hiking boots and was very comfortable. Since it was winter, and they were covered by my pants, I didn't really feel out of place. The pair I have are getting a little worn, and since the airlines will not allow me to bring gel insoles on the plane, I've decided to invest in a new pair.

boots.jpg

Yesterday Marc bought me a new pair of Asolo hiking boots. He also purchased a pair of Superfeet insoles. Marc wears the same boots, but not the insoles.

The salesman told us these boots have a steel shank and will be very hard to break in. At the moment, there is absolutely no 'give' in these boots, but that means they are very sturdy....and I have a plan. Marc and I are going to take a 1 hour walk every evening until we leave for Rome. That will help break in my boots, and also get us in better shape for all the walking we'll be doing on our trip.

If we get to Rome and it turns out these boots weren't the right choice, I'll just have to buy a different pair of shoes. Sounds like a win/win situation to me!

September 14, 2010

Photo Hunt: Subtle

The subtle beauty of fog over the Tuscany Valley in Italy, as seen from a hot air balloon. This picture was taken on a morning in June 2009, just after dawn.
We were ballooning with Robert Etherington of Ballooning in Tuscany.

TuscanyValleyFog.jpg

September 15, 2010

Sing Me To Italy

This may sound a little corny, but whenever I go on a long road trip, or when I'm planning a trip to Italy, I break out some music to get me in the proper mood. One of my favorite CD's is Dean Martin's Italian Love Songs. I LOVE this music. If I had to name my top five all-time favorite songs, Viene Su (Say You Love Me, Too), from this CD, would be on that list.

album-italian-love-songs.jpg

I let Dino sing me all the way to Italy!

December 13, 2010

Days 1 and 2 of my 50th Birthday Trip

November 12
Today Marc and I leave on my 50th birthday trip to Europe. We’ll be gone for 19 days to Rome, Venice, Munich and Amsterdam. We decided to have a service take us to the airport so we wouldn’t have to leave our car at the airport for so long, which worked out great. We also decided to just take backpacks so the airline couldn’t lose my luggage again. That didn’t work out so great…they’re too heavy. We tried to pack light, but they’re still heavy.

November 13
Our flights went from OKC to Atlanta, then Amsterdam, then Rome. Everything went smooth until we went through security in Amsterdam. The alarm went off when I went through the x-ray machine, and I was taken aside by some woman and patted down. This was no ordinary pat down. I left feeling a little violated. She felt everything from the bows on my underwear to the underwire in my bra. The only things she didn’t mess with were the fillings in my mouth. I am all about security, I just didn’t expect that much of a pat-down.
We arrived in Rome on time with our luggage. WooHoooo, two points for Delta Airlines! We checked into our apartment at the Hotel Crosti. It’s a very basic little apartment, with everything we could need on a 5-day stay. It even has a washing machine. My only issue is that it’s on the 5th floor and the elevator is very small, about 4x3, but I’ll deal with it. The weather is perfect, about 75 degrees and sunny.
We unpacked and went to the Capuchin Crypt at the Church of the Immaculate. The bones of deceased friars were transported from the old friary and laid to rest in this cemetery. According to the literature we received, the bones were arranged along the walls, as well as the bodies of poor Romans. This picture is a scan of a postcard, because we could not take pictures.

Capuchins%20Crypt.jpeg

Soon after, we walked to the Spanish Steps and shopped. I bought 3 bars of soap for 14 euro. I’m sure this is just the beginning of my soap purchases…I LOVE Italian soap! We ate ravioli for dinner near the apartment, and went home. We were very tired and sleeping by 8:30pm.
I‘m so happy to be back in Rome…it was a wonderful first day.

December 19, 2010

Day 3: Strolling Around Rome

November 14th
Today is day 3 of our trip, and we were so tired we slept until 11:30am. First, we had lunch and then took the Metro to the Colosseo stop. When we stepped out onto the street, there it was…the Colosseum. That’s my favorite view of Rome and here I am again…life is good! We stopped in the area and had a prucuitto pizza…yummy. Again, the weather was in the 70’s and sunny. Even after dark the weather was warm.
Next, we walked around the back of the Palatine Hill area to the Circus Maximus. It’s much bigger than I had imagined. We sat for a few minutes and tried to picture the events that may have happened there.

240%20-%20Copy.JPG

We continued our walk to the Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin. We put our hands in the Mouth of Truth, but did not ask any questions…we’re not stupid. Next we went into the church. It’s a beautiful little church with lots of wood and frescoes. It looks like it’s either in ruin or being restored, but we couldn’t tell which. When we left we heard men singing. We couldn’t tell where it was coming from, but it sounded beautiful. I bought a 2011 hunky priest calendar in the gift shop. Is that wrong?

265%20-%20Copy.JPG

Our next adventure was over the bridge to Trastevere. As we walked over the bridge we could see remnants of an old bridge. It was fascinating to see the history in this old bridge. We both loved Trastevere. There were families out for the afternoon, walking and visiting. We stopped at the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere. As we walked in, the lights were dimmed and a choir started to sing. It was very beautiful and moving.
We walked around Trastevere until well after dark. Gelato was calling me…mmm, chocolate. Then we crossed the river and headed to Piazza Navona. This was my first time to see it all lit up at night. People were dining al fresco, all around the piazza. Each table was lit with candles, which made it very romantic. We went into Chiesa Sant` Agnese in Agone. I wasn’t expecting it to be so beautiful on the inside. This is Italy, what was I thinking?
We walked the few blocks to the Trevi Fountain so we could toss our coins to make sure we’d return to Rome. After that important business was taken care of we stopped for dinner. Marc had Lasagna and I had Spinach Cannelloni. Yummmy!
I must mention the bathroom at the restaurant because it was a ‘travel experience’ to share. There were his and hers bathrooms. Each only had a single toilet. The toilet was so small I thought it was a child’s toilet, almost small enough to be a potty chair. It didn’t have a toilet seat and there wasn’t even a place for one. When I walked out of the bathroom there was a fountain that was shared by both bathrooms for hand washing. Hmmm…very curious.
After dinner we headed back to our apartment. It was about 10pm and our legs were worn out.

December 20, 2010

Day4: More Rome...Scavi Tour

Nov 15
This was the day of the Scavi Tour beneath St. Peter’s Basilica and we were so excited! The tour didn’t begin until 1:45pm so we took the Metro to the Ottoviano stop and roamed around for awhile.
We decided to go to a trattoria for some pizza and had yet another ‘travel experience’ to share. We were eating our pizza when we saw a man come in and speak to the worker at the counter. I don’t know what was said, but the worker came from behind the counter, grabbed the guy by the coat, quickly walked him to the door and pushed him out of the restaurant. He actually threw him out the door and then gave him a swift kick in the pants! We don’t really know what was going on and we weren’t about to ask…we made sure we were on our best behavior during the remainder of that meal.
Next, we moved on to the Vatican. We scoped out where we needed to go for the tour and then went into the Vatican. The weather was around 60 degrees today and the sun was behind the clouds, so inside the Vatican was kind of dark. It was bright enough to see the dove window and it was beautiful. I didn’t get to see it the last time I was here because of the clouds.

Day%203%20026%20-%20Copy.JPG

Soon it was time for the Scavi Tour. We had to check our bags and could not take pictures. The tour was about 1½ hours long and the guide spoke the whole time. She was extremely knowledgeable and we hung on her every word. What we saw was incredible! When I get home I’ll be searching for everything I can get my hands on to learn more. I am so fortunate to have seen this. Here is a link to a site that allows you to take a virtual tour of the Vatican Necropolis. http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/necropoli/scavi_english.html
When the tour ended we roamed around the Castel Sant Angelo area and then the area around Campo dei Fiori. Of course, we went into several beautiful churches along the way. Here is a statue on the bridge in front of Castel Sant Angelo.

Day%203%20089%20-%20Copy.JPG

We also stopped into a pasticceria and bought some sweet treats and a small panettone. It’s close enough to Christmas that I’m craving my panettone. I was not disappointed.
In the evening we went into Chiesa dei Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio, across from the Fontana di Trevi. The lights were off and the only light came from the many candles. There were quite a few people sitting in the church enjoying the peaceful glow of the candles. It was beautiful. I keep using the word “beautiful”, but this is Rome and EVERYTHING is beautiful. I love this city!
We finally decided to call it a day and returned to our own neighborhood for dinner.
When we returned to our apartment Marc decided to use the washing machine. The instructions are only in Italian and we couldn’t read them. Marc watched the washer go round and round for about an hour …were his clothes clean…who knows. Here is a picture of the tiny elevator at the apartment. It has a limit of 3 people…I wonder why?

Day%203%20120%20-%20Copy.JPG

This was yet another wonderful day in my favorite city. Life is good…

December 21, 2010

Day 5: Capitoline Museum

November 16
This was day 5 of our trip. We woke up late again and went to lunch at a little back street restaurant over by the Colosseum called Na Machia. It’s a neighborhood joint where mostly Italian is spoken…that seems to be where we find the best food…just follow the locals. Marc had ravioli and I had tagliatelle caco e pepe…the best I’ve ever eaten! I’ve eaten at this restaurant before, and I’ll be going again the next time I’m in Rome. One of the many things I love about Rome is the little flower shops that seem to be everywhere. This one was across the street from the restaurant. What a nice view during lunch.

Day4%20006%20-%20Copy.JPG

After lunch we went to the Capitoline Museum. It was great. There was so much to see! Even the ceilings were fabulous.

Day4%20103%20-%20Copy.JPG

Day4%20226%20-%20Copy.JPG

We spend a lot of time walking whenever we travel because it’s the only way to really see the city. This day we walked all around the Forum area. Here is a picture that shows some of the many layers of history.

Day4%20041%20-%20Copy.JPG

Day4%20054%20-%20Copy.JPG

We stepped into several churches around the Forum. One of the churches held only enough pews for about 60 people, but was just as elaborate as any other I’ve seen in Rome. It’s amazing just how beautiful every church is in Rome.
We also went to the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, and walked up the stairs just in time to see the guards change.
At about 5:30pm it was time to head toward Santa Susannah Church to pick up the tickets for the Audience with Pope Benedict XVI. When I wrote to ask for tickets I said I would be celebrating my 50th birthday. When we arrived at the church I gave the priest my name so he could find my tickets. He handed me the tickets and wished me a happy birthday. That was so sweet and it made my day.
We then spent some time window shopping on Via Nationale, which included a cannoli. Later in the evening we went back to our neighborhood for dinner. I had ravioli e spinaci and Marc had spaghetti and meatballs. After dinner we went back to our apartment.
I probably should explain a little more about the apartment. The Hotel Crosti apartments are about a 5 minite walk from the hotel. Floors 5, 6 and 7 of the building belong to the hotel and the lower floors belong to another hotel. The apartments are in a quiet residential area, about 3 minutes from the Centro Pretorio metro stop, Line B. The neighborhood is mainly residential, but there are several good restaurants nearby. The apartment price was very reasonable and we felt safe in this area.
By 10pm I was sitting in bed, eating another cannoli…Life is Good!

December 22, 2010

Day 6: Audience with Pope Benedict XVI

November 17
This was day 6 of our trip. It was the last day before I turned 50, and a perfect day to be a part of the Audience with Pope Benedict XVI. This was a really big deal for me.
We arrived at the Vatican at 9:15am. It was a beautiful November morning. The weather was in the 50’s and just a bit nippy, but it warmed up as soon as the sun came out. We weren’t really close, but we did have a seat, which is more than I can say for several thousand other people. Pope Benedict made a grand entrance in the pope mobile at 10:30. I was shocked to see just how much security there was. I guess I’d just never thought about it. He was driven up and down the aisles for about 10 minutes while he greeted everyone. People were waving and snapping pictures…it was very exciting!

Pope.JPG

Day%205%20088%20-%20Copy.JPG

Day%205%20164%20-%20Copy.JPG

The audience lasted about two hours. I couldn’t understand some of it because it was done in several languages, but that was part of what was so interesting. There were people from all over the world, many waving small flags of their countries. There was an amazing energy in the crowd. What a grand way to end the first 50 years of my life. I can’t think of a better way to start the second part of my life than with a blessing from the Pope. I’m a lucky girl…Life is so very good!
When we left the Vatican we roamed around that area and did a little shopping. I always notice that Italians wear great shoes, and since it was November they were wearing great boots. I’d been watching all the boots for several days and just couldn’t take it anymore, so I bought myself a cool pair of black boots. This was my birthday present to me.
We brought my boots back to the apartment and walked to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. WOW! What a beautiful church. After about 15 minutes a service began, which started with a procession that included about 10 priests. I’m not sure what kind of service it was because I couldn’t understand enough Italian to figure it out. It didn’t matter, it sounded wonderful.
Later we went to Termini Station and purchased our train tickets for Venice. The plan was to take the slow train, so we could get a glimpse of the 11 towns along the way where it made short stops. Most of the towns we haven’t visited…yet.
In the evening we returned to our neighborhood one last time and had dinner. After dinner we walked to the neighborhood pastisseria for some sweet treats for the morning train to Venice.

January 16, 2011

Day 7: Happy Birthday to Me!

November 18
WooHoooo! Today is my 50th birthday. Happy Birthday to Me! It’s going to be a wonderful day. For the last two years I’ve been trying to decide where in the world I wanted to be on the day I turned 50. I had narrowed it down to Rome and Venice, but couldn’t decide which one. I finally decided on both… I’ll just have it all. I’ll begin the day in Rome and end it in Venice.
I woke up to a beautiful sunny morning in Rome. It was a little cool outside…enough to wear my jacket, but not cold. It was the perfect place to begin the next chapter of my life.
We took a slow Intercity train to Venice. The train took 6 hours, which gave us the perfect chance to take a little break between adventures. We had a hard time finding our seats on the train. There didn’t seem to be a seat for Marc’s reservation, so we just sat in seats that were close. My reservation was next to a cranky little old lady that kept shooing people away when they tried to sit next to her. I wasn’t about to show her I actually had a reservation for that seat… that might have sent her over the edge. The train was full of mostly Italian people, so there was a constant hum of Italian being spoken, which added to the charm of the train ride. This is the Italy I came for.
We sat back and watched as we passed vineyards and small hilltowns. The land was still very green, with warm shades of gold, brown, and red, sprinkled with he occasional castle ruin. The most beautiful area was between Arezzo and Bologna, because the hills were very tall and there were houses built all over, from the top of the hills down into the valleys. The colors of the houses fit just perfectly with the colors of the land…absolutely beautiful!

present.JPG

Here is a picture of me showing off my birthday present. Marc gave me a Rolex! It has a two-toned band and a blue face with diamonds. WooHoooo! Happy birthday to Me!
At about 5pm we reached Venice. When the train first approached the water my first thoughts were “Don’t drive into the water!”, because I was a little shocked to see water all around me. I got over it.
We walked out of the train station and into another world…Venice! It was dusk and the lights were beginning to come on and the church bells were ringing. I felt like I was in a movie in some far away exotic land, but this was real. It was gorgeous! We took a water taxi to the Accademia stop in Dorsoduro, and walked about 4 minutes to our B&B, Ca`Centopietre. After we settled into our room we went out to explore for about 2 hours. Venice has beautiful old street lamps, so the light in the evening has a soft glow. It started to drizzle slightly, which made the atmosphere amazing. There were people strolling around, but it was quiet and peaceful. I love Venice!
At 8pm we went to see the opera La Traviata at the Musica a Pallazo . The opera was performed in a palace. The music was performed by 4 people, and each of the 3 acts was performed in a different room. It was a small audience of about 40 people, so we were very close to the performers…sometimes only 3 feet away. At that distance I could feel the power in their voices. I loved it.
After the performance we capped off the evening with dinner across the street from our B&B. I had a very good lasagne. By the time we finished dinner it was about 11:30pm, so we went home. What a glorious birthday! LIFE IS SO GOOD!

January 18, 2011

Day 8: Another beautiful day in Venice

November 19
We woke up late again. The church bells were ringing and the sun was already shining on a beautiful day. The first thing we did was find the closest pasticceria for our morning pastries.

Nov%2019%20Lisa%20027%20-%20Copy.JPG

Luckily, it was about a one minute walk from our B&B. Mmm, they were good!
Now we were ready to explore Venice.

Nov%2019%20Lisa%20025%20-%20Copy.JPG

Nov%2019%20Lisa%20032%20-%20Copy.JPG

Nov%2019%20Marc%20050%20-%20Copy.JPG

First, we headed to St. Mark’s Basilica.

Nov%2019%20Marc%20064%20-%20Copy.JPG

This is Marc’s favorite church…I can see why.

Nov%2019%20Lisa%20114%20-%20Copy.JPG

The gold mosaics are fabulous! We also picked up our tickets for the Doge’s Secret Itinerary Tour, which we’ll go to tomorrow. Next, we got our Chorus Passes and visited Chiesa di Santa Maria del Giglio and Chiesa di Santo Stefano. I’m always amazed at how beautiful the churches are in Italy.
Our next stop was the Museo della Musica. This museum has a huge collection of musical instruments from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Nov%2018%20%26%2019%20034%20-%20Copy.JPG

I think this is a ‘must see’ if you’ve ever played an instrument.
We did some shopping and Marc bought me another birthday present, a music box from Sorrento…more about the music box in a later post. We returned to our room and took a break to rest. Walking up and down the bridges in Venice is hard work!
Later, we went back out and ate a slice of pizza as we strolled around the Dorsoduro area. I bought two more bars of soap from a little old lady in a tiny shop that sold only soap. I couldn’t understand much of what she said, but we could both understand the importance of wonderful smelling Italian soap. I have a thing for Italian soap, so I’m sure I’ll be buying plenty more.
It was a good day.

January 22, 2011

Day 9: Doge's Palace and more...

November 20
Today we woke up to the aqua alta sirens. I know the flooding is not a good thing for Venice, but I have to admit I was a little excited to experience it.
After breakfast we headed toward the Doge’s Palace for the Secret Itinerary Tour. There was plenty of water on St. Mark’s Square and we had to walk on the flood planks in many places including in front of St. Mark’s Basilica. It was a fun adventure, although I was sad to see how much water actually gets into the churches. I did enjoy watching the local people going about their business in rubber boots. Many Venetians even wear designer rubber boots…how cool is that?

Nov%2020%20Marc%20064%20-%20Copy.JPG

The Secret Itinerary Tour began at 11:35am and lasted for about two hours. We had a guide that was very passionate about her job, which made it an amazing tour! She gave us so much information about how the political system worked… about the secrets…torture… a murdered doge. There also was a lot of information on Casanova. We went to his cell…Bridge of Sighs…it was great! Up to this point he had only been a person I had heard about through books and movies…now he was real!
The cells in the prison were dark and cold, not a good place to be. We saw lots and lots of armor and weapons. There were so many painful ways to be killed.

Nov%2020%20Lisa%20003%20-%20Copy.JPG

I was intrigued by the snitch boxes. In the late sixteenth century they were placed around the palace. All you had to do to accuse someone of a crime was to write it in a letter and drop it in the mouth of a snitch box(above). They were not anonymous, but were confidential. If you were convicted of a serious crime your name was etched in stone for everyone to see and your house was burned…now the internet does that for us…fascinating stuff!
After the tour we did a little shopping as we wandered around the streets. I bought 3 more bars of soap and three Murano glass necklaces. I’m starting to wonder how we’ll get everything home.
We dropped our treasures back at our room, grabbed a coke and a big slice of pizza, and took a water taxi from the Accademia stop all the way around Venice. We took the opportunity to sit outside at the back of the taxi so we could see the beautiful view of Venice from the water.

Nov%2020%20Lisa%20067%20-%20Copy.JPG

Nov%2020%20Marc%20130%20-%20Copy.JPG

It’s such a beautiful place. I understand why people want to visit and stay for months. I love Venice!

January 23, 2011

Day 10: Festa della Madonna della Salute

November 21

Today we woke up to the aqua alta sirens again. I think it’s just another part of the charm of Venice. It rained all day, so it was a little chilly, but not cold.
Today was the day of the Festa della Madonna della Salute. This holiday is in memory of the 1630 plague and the vow of the Doge to build a church called the Salute, and honor the Virgin Mary each year on November 21st if she would rid the city of the plague.

Nov%2020%20Marc%20300%20-%20Copy.JPG

Nov%2021%20Marc%20022%20-%20Copy.JPG

There was a candlelight procession from St. Mark’s, over a temporary pontoon bridge, to the Santa Maria della Salute Church. Inside the church mass was held, and people prayed and asked the Virgin Mary to keep them in good health.
There were thousands of people at the church. This is a serious holiday for the people of Venice, so although I wanted to be a part of it, I quietly stayed in the background.
Outside the church were stalls selling candles, and around the corner were stalls selling food. We bought some aroncini, pistachio cannoli’s and candied nuts.

Nov%2021%20Lisa%20012%20-%20Copy.JPG

Nov%2021%20Lisa%20025%20-%20Copy.JPG

Later, while exploring the Dorsoduro area we came upon a gondola repair shop. It was very interesting. I love strolling in this area because I get to see how the local people really live.

Nov%2021%20Marc%20052%20-%20Copy.JPG

We walked to the Frari Church. It was so beautiful! It took us a long time to find it, but we were so glad we kept looking for it. I know every church has a statue of the Virgin Mary, but for some reason this one seemed special. I guess I’m not the only person that felt that way because there were so many flickering candles in front of this statue, I could feel the heat. I lit my own candle and said a prayer for my family.
We decided to purchase a cheap piece of luggage, because we were buying too much stuff to fit in our backpacks. We bought a large rolling suitcase for 25 euro. The plan was to check it on the flight home. It was cheaper than shipping and it wouldn’t take a month to get it.
We dropped of the luggage and went to the mask shop. We purchased two masks from Ca` Macana in Dorsoduro. We’d been looking for a few days and finally had to decide which ones we wanted, since tomorrow is our last day in Venice. The lady at the shop packed them very well, so they’d make the long flight home.
We went back to the room and packed our bags. We certainly needed the extra piece of luggage. After packing we went to dinner and bought a few pastries for a late night snack.

Nov%2020%20Marc%20384%20-%20Copy.JPG

At 8:45 the sirens were sounding again. I’m going to miss this place…but I’ll be back.

February 6, 2011

Day 11: Ca`Rezzonico and Train to Munich

November 22

We checked out of our room at around 10am. We were happy that Carlo kept our bags, since we aren’t actually leaving Venice until about 11pm. It was a beautiful, warm sunny day…perfect for exploring Venice.
We went back to La Salute Church so I could see it without the crowds. I think this may be my favorite church in Venice. We realized we hadn’t given our room key to Carlo, so we returned the key and headed to the San Paolo area. We visited a few of the Chorus Pass churches in the San Paolo and Santa Croce areas. The Chorus Pass was a good deal for us because we love to visit the amazing churches.
We also went to the Ca`Rezzonico Museum. This museum is a beautiful palace on the Grand Canal. It was huge and had great views of the city. What a grand place. I could certainly get used to living like that.

Nov%2020%20Marc%20127%20-%20Copy.JPG

Nov%2022%20%26%2023%20005%20-%20Copy.JPG

22%20Nov%20Lisa%20040%20-%20Copy.JPG

We didn’t see many museums in Venice because we spent quite a lot of time just getting lost. It’s a wonderful place and I can’t wait to return.
While we were out I bought a few more bars of soap, a few leather bookmarks and a purse. In the evening we had dinner, then grabbed our bags and headed toward the train station.
A funny thing happened at the train station. We arrived about 2 hours early and settled in on a bench. We met 2 couples from Brazil. They were sitting on a bench directly across from us. A man in his 60’s walked up and sat next to them. He was pushing a 2-wheeled dolly with two duffle bags and 2 tote bags hanging on the handles. I wasn’t sure if he was a bum or if this was just his way to carry his bags.
He sat for a few minutes and read the paper. We all watched as he took off his boots and socks, and rubbed the dirt from between his toes. When he was done cleaning his feet he put on some red slippers. Next, he spread the newspaper across the bench, stretched out across it and went to sleep. He was completely oblivious to the 6 people that were watching him. Every few minutes he would turn over and stretch his legs. His feet kept poking the lady that was sitting nearest to him, so finally the two couples moved down a few seats. They kept motioning to us that the man had smelly feet. Finally they all moved to our bench because his feet were just too stinky. We all had a good laugh and spent the next half hour getting to know each other. The man was still sleeping on the bench when we all boarded our trains.
We took an overnight train to Munich. We had a cabin with two beds and a bathroom with a shower. The cost was 185 euro each. We received 2 small bottles of wine for a nightcap when we went to our rooms. The cabin was nice and warm, but the bed was very hard. There were a few times while going through the mountains I thought I might fall out of bed…I never did. It was a cool adventure, but I think I would prefer to take the day train so I could see the scenery and skip the hard bed.
WooHoooo! On to the next part of our adventure.

March 6, 2011

Day 12: Munich, Germany

Tuesday Nov 23
We arrived in Munich, Germany at 6:30am. It was a cold morning and drizzling just a little. We bought a 1-day Partner Pass for the train at a cost of 9,40 euro. This was a good value because we could both use the pass for an entire day.
We found our way to the hotel, but our room wasn’t ready, so we left our bags and went exploring. The hotel was very easy to find. Just a two minute walk from a U-Bahn stop.
We decided to explore the Marienplatz area today. Just a few minutes on the train and we were there. It seems to be very easy to get around Munich. The U-Bahn is much like the Metro in Rome. Cheap, efficient and takes you just about anywhere in the city.
The Marienplatz area was great! There were beautiful old buildings and fabulous bakeries all over. I’ve never seen so many beautiful breads and pastries and chocolate candy! There were also many sandwich shops with more kinds of sausage than I knew existed. The area was bustling with preparations for the Christmas Markets. One thing that was very visible…Munich is VERY CLEAN!
We went back to our room with a pastry and pretzel. Can you say YUMMY?!!
Eating a pretzel in Munich is an experience. The pretzels are very fresh and very big. They slice them in half and spread soft creamy butter all over. You are then handed a warm buttered pretzel. They were so good I had one every day. I love Munich!
We stayed at the GHotel. It’s a hotel that also has small apartments. Our apartment was clean and modern. We took a two hour nap and again headed out to explore.
We decided to go to the Hofbrauhaus for dinner. We really enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. Marc had pigs knuckle and I had chicken. My chicken was really good. I tried Marc’s pigs knuckle…it was interesting. Not what I would choose, but I liked it. We had a good time listening to the Oompah band. There were lots of couples dancing in the aisles. There also was a young girl walking around selling pretzels and gingerbread cookies. And there was beer…lots of beer! It would be very hard to go to the Hofbrauhaus and not have a good time.

Nov%2022%20%26%2023%20179%20-%20Copy.JPG

Nov%2022%20%26%2023%20182%20-%20Copy.JPG

Nov%2022%20%26%2023%20211%20-%20Copy.JPG

Nov%2022%20%26%2023%20172%20-%20Copy.JPG

Nov%2022%20%26%2023%20213%20-%20Copy.JPG

It was a good day.

August 28, 2011

Day 13: Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Castles

Wednesday Nov 24
Today we met the people from Viator at 8am for an 11 hour tour of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof castles. There were 83 people in our group. At first I wasn’t sure I’d like a big tour group, but we had a very nice modern double-decker bus, and it turned out to be a great way to see the castles.
The scenery going through the upper Bavarian Alps was beautiful. The first real snow of the season had just fallen, and since it was early in the morning, the snow was untouched by anything other than a few farm animals. The weather was a bit cold at 33 degrees, but that added to the charm of the scenery.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Make a free photo slideshow

Linderhof was built by King Ludwig II in the French Rococo style. Ludwig II never married and lived there alone with his servants. One thing that was very interesting about this castle was the magic dinner table. Ludwig would sit in his chair for dinner and the floor would open in front of him. Within 1 minute the table would rise from the kitchen below, with the first of his usual 8 course meal.
Our next stop was Oberammergau. This was such a quaint little town with paintings on the outside of many of the buildings. This town is known for fabulous, although expensive wood carvings…it did not disappoint.
Our final stop was King Ludwig’s Neushweinstein Castle. First, we stopped in the town below and had lunch. Next, we walked 1 mile uphill to get to the castle. We could’ve taken a carriage ride, but it only goes about half way up the mountain. It was a very long walk, but so worth it. The castle was very grand, with breathtaking views from all directions. It had a beautiful interior with a 2 ton chandelier...the biggest I've even seen! The master bedroom was very interesting. It had so much wood that it took 40 woodcarvers 4 years to complete. This fairytale castle was the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
At the end of the day we boarded our bus for the ride back to Munich. We were very tired, and appreciated the comfy seats and the fact that we didn’t have to drive. As the sun went down it began to snow. It was a magical day.

August 29, 2011

Day 14: Dachau Concentration Camp

Thursday, November 25, 2010
Today is Thanksgiving Day, and we are meeting the Viator people at 11am in Hauptbahnhof station for a trip to Dachau Concentration Camp. We chose today for this particular tour because I thought it would help me realize just how thankful I am for the good things in my life. This picture is the entrance to the camp.

Dachau.JPG

The day was cloudy and very cold, which fit well with the somber atmosphere. We traveled 30 minutes each way on a train and bus to the town of Dachau. We chose this 5 hour tour because we wanted the benefit of hearing the history from a German perspective. As it turned out, the guide was not German, but he was a very knowledgeable historian. We were given about 3 hours of information, then an hour to roam around on our own. I think everyone should visit one of these camps. It’s a very sobering view of history.
Later in the day we went to the Tollwood Festival. It was very interesting and very international and nothing we’re used to seeing. There were all kinds of food and crafts for sale, along with loads of entertainment.
After the festival we headed back to Hauptbahnhof station to get some food to take home for dinner. I had some fries to hold me over…they were really good! We brought home chicken, bread and pastry for our Thanksgiving dinner. It was good and as close as we could get to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

August 30, 2011

Day 15: Munich Christmas Markets

Friday, November 26, 2010
Today is a beautiful day. It’s the first day of the Christmas Markets and it’s snowing…perfect! The Christmas Markets opened at 10am and we were at the Marienplatz by 11. The market is huge, with all kinds of things…glass ornaments, candles, wooden ornaments, wood carvings, wood bowls, Santa’s of every shape and size. There are hats, gloves, scarves…all kinds of warm weather clothing. There are many good smells…gluhwein, hot chocolate, pommes frites, candy, pastries and many other goodies to eat. We tried the lubkuchen and gingerbread…it was so good. I got a bag of pfefferneuse cookies…Gram used to buy them for me and I’d let them get hard before I ate them…so yummy. Marc downed a huge piece of apple strudel in no time…I guess it was pretty good!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
There are many Christmas Markets in Munich and we went to several of them. I particularly enjoyed the Manger Market. It was loaded with wonderful wood carvings by some very talented people. We visited a few antique stores along the way. Marc saw a cool sword and I saw some really old religious pieces. They were in good shape and different than anything I’ve seen. We didn’t buy anything, but sure enjoyed looking. We stumbled onto a permanent outdoor food market. There were all kinds of stalls like the Christmas markets, but these were permanent. It was great! There were little houses with cheese, fruit, vegetables, sausages, meat, Christmas evergreens and flowers. The store windows were decorated, some with animated scenes. Everywhere I looked there were elaborate decorations. It snowed throughout the entire day, sometimes just a few flurries and sometimes so heavy we could barely see each other. We even saw an organ grinder. It was an enchanting place! I bought a smoker and Marc got a nutcracker to add to our Christmas decorations. Marc also bought another piece of luggage because we knew we still didn’t have enough space to get all our new treasures home. It was a cheapie at 29 euro, much cheaper than shipping our goodies back to the states. The Marienplatz had live Christmas music beside the Glockenspiel at 5pm. It sounded really nice, but there were thousands of people crammed in front of the band, so we listened for about 15 minutes then headed back to our neighborhood Christmas Market. My most memorable part of the day was standing in the middle of the bustling market, with the snow coming down all around me, drinking a hot chocolate. What a wonderful day! Life is good.

August 31, 2011

Day 16: A Day in Salzburg, Austria

Saturday, November 27, 2010
Today we took a day trip to Salzburg, Austria. This wasn’t part of our original plan, but it sounded like a great idea, so we did it. We went with Radius Tours at a cost of 32 euro. The trip began with a two hour train ride through the countryside to Salzburg, followed by a 1 ½ hour guided walking tour of the major sites. The three remaining hours were ours to explore the city.

We ate lunch at the Skiftskeller Saint Peter, which dates back to the year 803, making it the oldest restaurant in Europe. Marc and I both chose wiener schnitzel w/boiled potatoes…it was fabulous! We did a little shopping at the Christmas Market and in a few stores. There were outdoor food stalls in addition to the Christmas Market that sold fresh produce and meat…very interesting.

Click to play this Smilebox photo album
Create your own photo album - Powered by Smilebox

One of my best memories is of Saint Peter’s Cemetery. Most of the grave markers are made of iron and very ornate. It was very cold that day and a light blanket of snow covered the cemetery. It was breathtaking.

We had such a nice time in Salzburg. We both think it would be a nice place to spend the Christmas holiday.

We were back in Munich by 7pm and walked out of the train station onto the Marienplatz Christmas Market. We wandered around for a little while and returned to our room to pack.

September 2, 2011

Day 17: Amsterdam

Sunday, November 28, 2010
Today was the last day of our vacation. We Left Munich at 10:15am on a 1.25 hour flight to Amsterdam.
We took a free shuttle to the Novotel Amsterdam Airport Hotel. After checking in we took the shuttle back to the airport to catch a train to Amsterdam Central Train Station. The cost was about around 9,40 euro. Next, we took a tram (2,50 euro), to Westermarkt stop and around the corner was the Anne Frank House. This was the reason I wanted the 1 day layover in Amsterdam.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox

We waited in line for about 20 minutes…there were many, many people in line. It was a very moving and sad place to be. It was especially meaningful after visiting Dachau Concentration Camp earlier in the trip. I’ve read her diary several times, and this made the story more real…sad, but real.

We walked around the city for about 4 hours before we returned to our hotel to pack. It was very COLD outside, but there were tons of people on the streets.

The buildings and canals were beautiful. I’d like to see Amsterdam in the spring when the flowers are in bloom. I’ve never seen so many bicycles! Everybody rides a bike, even in the freezing weather. I’m sure I annoyed a few people because I didn’t know I had to watch out for the bikes…I learned very quickly...and survived with all my toes intact.

We enjoyed our short stop in Amsterdam and would like to stay again for a few more days. The hotel was clean, cheap, and a good place to stay for an overnight visit. Monday morning we made the trip home and started planning our next adventure.

October 16, 2011

We're Off To New York City

This past week we took a trip to New York City. As usual, we had a great time, and when we returned home we were so exhausted we needed a vacation from our vacation.

This time we stayed at The Wall Street Inn at 9 South William Street. It’s a nice hotel that we are happy to recommend. It’s quiet in the evening and very close to the subway, which will get you anywhere in the city.

Here is a picture of what Ground Zero looks like today. It’s amazing how much progress has been made since the last time I was there, almost four years ago.
310%20-%20Copy.JPG

October 17, 2011

Let's Go Shopping!

As you may know, last year I was on a mission to lose some weight. It went really well until we had a foreign exchange student come to live with us. My diet went out the window when I started cooking for a sixteen year old boy. After he returned to Germany I resumed my diet and finally lost the weight.

Now I’m at my goal weight and have nothing to wear. It was such a pity to be going to New York and have nothing to wear. What’s a girl to do? Can you say SHOPPING SPREE?!? I sent Marc to explore the city on his own and I hit the stores as they opened. Half way through the day Marc met me at a store and lugged my bags back to the hotel. When the stores closed that evening he met me again and helped me drag more bags back to the hotel. Now that’s a GREAT husband!

I replaced my whole wardrobe in one big shopping day. What a nice reward for dropping the extra pounds. I’m buying a size 6 now…and it feels so-o-o-o good!

Here is a picture of me at Shoegasm. It’s not my finest picture taking moment…don’t I look a little crazy? That’s how I get when I buy shoes.
378%20-%20Copy.JPG

I bought four pairs of boots on this trip. The tall dark boots are actually rubber rain boots. I bought them for when I have to deal with the aqua alta (flooding) in Venice, Italy…the next time I’ll do it in style.
DSC_0198.JPG

October 18, 2011

Grand Central Station Goodies

If you’ve ever been to Grand Central Station in New York City you know it’s much more than a place to catch a train. There are restaurants and many specialty stores. During the holidays there is a Christmas market, and many other events can be found throughout the year.
One of my favorite spots is the food market. It’s an open market that looks like a long hallway. You can find fresh produce, flowers, candy, pastries, bread, pasta and meat. It’s a great place to pick up dinner items on your way home from work.
My favorite sections are the cheese counter and the Italian meat counter. Look at all the beautiful prosciutto! YUMMY!
DSC_0097.JPG

DSC_0103.JPG
It's the next best thing to actually being in Italy.

October 19, 2011

A Beautiful Morning in Central Park

Saturday morning we went to Central Park. We decided to hire a bicycle rickshaw to take us around the park. The cost was $70.00 and lasted about an hour…money well spent. It was a beautiful day and we had a very nice ride.
The highlight of the park was when we got to the Strawberry Fields mosaic dedicated to John Lennon. It was his birthday and a band was playing. The music was not loud and overpowering, but the voices were…in a good way. There were several hundred people softly singing John Lennon and Beatles tunes. It was quite a moving tribute.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Create your own slideshow design

October 20, 2011

American Museum of Natural History

Last Saturday we made a stop at the American Museum of Natural History after our ride through Central Park. It’s at the north end of Manhattan, right across the street from Central Park. My favorite part was the dinosaurs. I’m certainly glad I don’t live in the time of the dinosaurs. Meeting any one of these creatures couldn’t have ended well.
DSC_0074.JPG

DSC_0082.JPG

DSC_0087.JPG

October 22, 2011

Columbus Day Parade in New York City

We attended the Columbus Day Parade in New York City. It was great fun!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Customize a slideshow

October 23, 2011

My Favorite Burger Joint

Over the years I’ve enjoyed eating in many restaurants, but one of my favorites would have to be Wilson Hamburgers in my hometown of Findlay, Ohio.
At Wilson’s you’ll get a made-to-order hamburger, fries and a coke and/or frosty. You can also get a piece of pie. The pie is fresh and the meat is, too! It’s simple and delicious.

P9040233%20-%20Copy.JPG

Wilson’s is in the heart of downtown on Main Street. EVERYONE goes to Wilson’s.
After the Findlay High School football games we walked to Wilson’s. When we “cruised the circuit” we went to Wilson’s. The older crown gathered there to visit and have coffee and pie. They opened very early and closed very late. Every time I return to Findlay I stop there at least once a day. The food is as good today as it was when I was sixteen.

P9040228%20-%20Copy.JPG

When I think nostalgia, I think Wilson Hamburger. Still YUMMY after all these years.


October 31, 2011

The Waldorf Astoria

On a past trip to New York City we stayed at the Waldorf Astoria. I was looking for the glitz and glamour of an old New York City hotel...it did not disappoint. It's a beautiful old hotel and I was treated like royalty. I can't wait to stay there again.

Copy%20of%20DSC_0222.JPG

November 2, 2011

Patsy's Italian Restaurant

When we were in New York we ate at Patsy’s Italian Restaurant. It’s said to have been a favorite of Frank Sinatra. Judging by the pictures on the walls, it’s a favorite of many celebrities. I can understand why…the food was delicious.
We also bought their cookbook, which has interesting stories as well as recipes. The veal meatballs are outstanding!

Patsys.jpg.JPG

February 20, 2012

Goodies on Vacation

Williams Sonoma is one of my favorite stores…Marc and I LOVE to eat their Peppermint Bark during the holidays. Since we were going to spend the week of Christmas vacationing in Savannah, Georgia we decided to just bring some with us. I stashed a box in my luggage, along with a hot chocolate pot with a frother, chocolate shavings and marshmallows. When we got to the hotel we picked up a bottle of milk and we were set. Rich creamy hot chocolate and candy…YUM!
Hot%20Chocolate.JPG

February 24, 2012

Emilia Romagna-Let the Planning Begin

We’ve decided to travel to the Emilia Romagna region of Italy this October. That gives me about 7 months to plan. I think planning the trip is half the fun…woohoooo!

Much of my information and help usually comes from fellow travelers on Slow Travel, along with a few travel books..

travelbooks1.JPG

So far we’ve decided to spend about 10 days in Italy. We’ll fly in and out of Bologna and use it as our base. We’re thinking we’ll spend 2 days in Ravenna and 4 days in Bologna. The remaining days may be spent on day trips to Parma, Modena, Faenza and possibly Ferrara.
This is as far as we’ve gotten, and plans may change by the time we actually get around to booking the air and hotels.
I’m really excited to explore this part of Italy! Does anyone have any tips or ideas?

February 27, 2012

German Smoker

When I was in Munich, Germany I purchased this smoker. There were so many to choose from, probably more than a hundred. Many of them had a Christmas theme, but I chose this cute little waiter so I could keep him on a shelf in my kitchen year round.
The top half of the smoker comes off at the waist and his chest is hollow. You place a lit piece of incense on the bottom half and replace the top portion. Smoke will come out of his mouth.

GermanSmoker.JPG


He makes me smile. Life is good!

February 29, 2012

The Salt Table

When I was in Savannah, Georgia I found an interesting shop called The Salt Table. It’s a great little place that sells salt, honey, tea, sugar, popcorn and vanilla in different flavors. They also have various seasonings on offer.
We were able to sample many items and they were very good.

SaltTable.JPG

We purchased a jar of Wildflower Honey and Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt. I can’t wait to grill a steak with the salt. Mmmmm!
I also purchased these jars to store some of the spices I normally buy in bulk.

October 8, 2012

Back To Bella Italia

Marc and I just returned from a trip to the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. Once again, we had a fantastic vacation! Our home base was Hotel il Guercino in Bologna, with day trips to Faenza, Ferrara, Modena and Ravenna.
copy_DSC_0229.JPG
This is a picture of the front of our hotel. It was very reasonably priced, clean, and neat as a pin. The staff was always friendly and ready to help. Our room was very small, but that’s part of the charm of Italy.
We ate till we couldn’t eat anymore, then ate some more. You know, Italy is all about the food! There was a foodie tour, and a cooking class. I even met up with a high school friend that I haven’t seen in over 30 years.
One of these small towns just may be the place I live when my ship comes in!

November 11, 2012

Cooking Class in Bologna

I am a huge fan of cooking classes. How could I possibly go to Bologna, Italy and not take a cooking class? I found the perfect class with Chef Stefano Corvucci at the Culinary Institute of Bologna.
Marc and I scheduled a 3-hour class to learn to make Tagliatelle, Pappardelle, Ravioli, Tortelloni and Ragu Bolognese. The class was held at 4pm in the back room of Chef Stefano’s restaurant. We had the room to ourselves, but were able to watch the pastry chef prepare desert for the evening crowd. Her Tiramisu was HEAVENLY.

DSC_0280.JPG

Chef Stefano is a really effective teacher because he is so passionate about his food. We learned to make pasta by hand, not a machine.

DSC_0295.JPG

DSC_0277.JPG

DSC_0271.JPG

It was hard work, but so worth it. When we were finished cooking we sat together in the restaurant and ate what we had cooked. It was so good!

DSC_0302.JPG

DSC_0303.JPG

I’ll certainly be taking another of his classes on my next trip to Bologna.
Life is Good!

November 18, 2012

My Santa Maria Novella Soap Fix

I love the products from the Santa Maria Novella Perfumery. The main perfumery is in Florence, Italy, but I found them in Bologna, too. WooHoo!

soap1.jpg.JPG

The hand cream is wonderful! It smells good, is not greasy and makes your skin feel smooth as silk. I also got my italian soap "fix" and a jar of shaving cream for my husband.
It's the little things...Life is good.

December 3, 2012

2012 Travel Ornaments

Each year I try to get a Christmas ornament from each place I visit so I can be reminded of the wonderful adventures I've taken. This year we went back to Italy and spent time in Bologna, Faenza, Ravenna, Ferrara, Parma and Modena. I don't seem to have an ornament for Parma...but I do have five pounds of cheese! I also didn't get an ornament from Modena, but I do have several bottles of Aceto Balsamico DOP. Hmmm, I think I have my priorities straight, don't you?
Here is my ornament from Bologna.

Bologna.jpg

This is from Ferrara.
Ferrara.jpg.jpg

Here is one from Ravenna.

Ravenna.jpg.jpg

We visited Saura and Ivana Vignoli in Faenza. They do such beautiful work, which I'll show you in a later post. Saura gave me this ceramic fish to use as an ornament.

faenza1.jpg