15 Random Things I Learned in Italy

Just a few choice memories from my recent trip to Rome and Florence, Italy, with a couple of my travel photos. There are also a few tips for travelers included.

  1. I will no longer skip over the Italian wine section at home. I have a much better appreciation for Italian wines than I did before this visit.
  2. Many key museums here are far less expensive than in the US. Why don’t we let children go free here in the US? Note that it often helps to buy tickets ahead with a set entry time. And skip all of the obnoxious hawkers at the front of every tourist destination.IMGP6087
  3. Limoncello is considered a digestive aid. It is often given freely at the end of the meal. I had it served as a shot, on the rocks, and sipped. Room temperature or iced, it all tasted splendid.
  4. Using a printed map can be challenging in older cities that are not set up on grids. (Ie. like Chicago or New York). Having some phone data can help you find your way.
  5. Keys were my nemesis before this visit.–no longer! I worked a lot of very fussy keys in the two flats I stayed.
  6. Wash cloths and tissues can be hard to find. Bring your own.
  7. Renting a “first floor flat” often means walking 1 to 2 flights of stairs before you reach that flat.
  8. The doors. Huge. Heavy. A presence.IMGP6145
  9. I can get a lot accomplished working remotely, as long as I don’t need phone calls. No distractions wherever my office was.
  10. The many “cuts” of the meat in the window is appealing to shoppers, but that I can do without.
  11. For the cheapest meal in Florence, grab an aperitivo. It’s a flat fee for one drink (make it a special one!) and unlimited buffet of delicious food.
  12. Gelato can be eaten at any time of day. And found on every corner.
  13. Churches abound around every bend. It is NOT obligatory to visit every one, but pick a few. They are inspiring, humbling, surprising, awe-inspiring, or forgotten.
  14. Wear comfortable shoes. There are a lot of uneven steps and many sites to see.
  15. Finally, if I wasn’t a pushy bitch before this trip, I am now! You have to be, with all the groups clogging sidewalks, tour and tchotchke hawkers, people trying to sell, sell, beggars, distracted walkers, and potential pickpockets.

The journey continues.  Cindy


New Orleans Scenes

A bit delayed, but here are a few shots of the characters and character of New Orleans.


Great people watching–anything goes! 
Louisiana Loom Works has a myriad of cats, working looms, and amazing pieces.  Worth a visit!
Daytime street view of never-ending live music. 

IMGP4859Next trip I should have better plan of what to focus on.  We were so busy with varied days this visit it was hard to have a single shooting goal….other than the pre-wedding pics from last post.

The journey continues.


Untitled Poem

boat sunset

Enchanting blue waves
frolic and play
chasing those they cannot outrun
before they collapse back onto themselves
merging with the surface,
tiny white caps
with their spittle of salty froth
spraying jumping
then vanish as they mix
with the undulating surface.

Caribbean secrets swirling, swimming, sucking, sexing beneath
as we glide south
the horizon beckoning
topaz and navy
as it remains unchanged since before man
and will long after
hopefully not too spoiled by humans,

27 March 2016


written and photos taken on Independence of the Seas cruise ship

Some Trips are Worth Repeating

Sometimes a brief getaway with friends is exactly what you need to restore your center, step outside your routine, push your worries to the recesses of your mind, free your spirit.  We recently spent the weekend with a group of friends in MI–two years in a row of glorious weather, biking, fire pits, cooking, laughing over morning coffee, sharing wine, lunch at a local and super-friendly bar, strolling the beach, picking berries, talking, laughing, reading, spending a moment alone.  And a surprise boat ride with new friends at sunset, along the shoreline.

Different experiences from last year, but the same warm memories.



walking and talking
A lunch destination. Cheap, local, welcoming, fun.


Sunset on Lake Michigan








For some pictures from last year’s adventure, visit this post.  C

Perfect New York Visit

Hello, lonely blog.  Summer used to be a slow, lazy time for families. No more.  Between working overtime, kids choosing to continue sports camps, family obligations, volunteering, and blistering hot  weather, it feels only like a slow-motion of the school year.  Since we did not have a long summer trip planned, I took my girls with me to New York for a business trip and play weekend.  It was wonderful to spend time with them when there was no sports tournament, no college visits, no homework.

Here are 8 highlights (non-work-related) from our recent trip:

8. The only perfect-summer-weather for 6 consecutive days this year. Fantastic for walking the Highline or taking photos on the final day of the year to take pics between the buildings.

Sunset view in NYC

7. Friendly, sometimes unusual people sparking up conversations in taxis, hotels, shops, the park, coffee shops.

6. Eating a different ethnic food daily–Greek, Thai, Italian, Mexican. Some our own finds, some recommendations from friends.

5. Friends sharing our hotel for a night, with a day walking from Central Park to Rockefeller Plaza and beyond, sharing appetizers and drink at the lively Eataly before dinner.

Yummy fresh cheese, meats, fruits and wine at Eataly.

4. A day of sight seeing at Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and WTC Memorial.  A ferry ride, lots of walking, a bit of learning, no teenage complaints.

3. Shopping, shopping, shopping at familiar stores, one-of-a-kind places, in So-Ho, Chelsea, Times Square, Fifth Ave and everywhere in between.

2. Seeing the fantastic Tony-award winning play “Once” on Broadway , then watching the girls’ faces as we exited the theatre, walking into Times Square the first time nearing midnight.  The masses, the lights, the chaos.  Then seeing Steve Kazee, the “Once” lead several days later by the theater, chatting and taking photos with him.

1. Spending unhurried, explorative days with my two daughters in such a phenomenal city as New York.  It’s a trip we will always remember taking together.  one day off work felt a week to me.  C

Lenten Journal, Week 5

Week 5 with the Thankfulness Journal for Lent is easier, throwing a vacation into the mix.  I am behind posting, just returning from Mexico.

3/21/12 I am thankful for

bringing all needed documents to the accountant, and hearing the taxes will be finished in time.

Welcoming book club after frustrating clothes shopping.  Wine and Rob Lowe much enjoyed.

Winning the “quintessential 80’s hair cut” photo at book club.  What fun I had looking through my old photo albums to choose a photo.

True 80's hair, while in England.

3/22/12 I am thankful for

DEVON!!  Happy 14th birthday!

A meeting postponed results in outdoor lunch with Colette on a gorgeous day.

Birthday dinner at Cheesecake Factory.  Yum!

3/23/12  I am thankful for

completing all vacation prep shopping, packing, errands, bank runs, work with a few hours to spare.

Theresa, for inviting us for dinner the last night in town.

Kerry’s spirit.

3/24/12 I am thankful for

leaving the country.

The smell of salty air.

Soft, white sand beneath my toes.

3/25/12 I am thankful for

no alarms for several days, no dogs jumping on the bed to awaken us.

Fresh sliced fruit and chocolate croissants.

Sky color = water color.  Amazing.

 3/26/12  I am thankful for

friends arriving, finding us on the beach.

Unending cocktails.

Watching my girls get massages on the beach.

3/27/12 I am thankful for

early morning walk on the beach, camera in hand.

finally, a drink at the poolside bar.

Group dinner, on the outdoor patio, divine.


Montreal Boot Camp

C’est tres chaud au Montreal.  HOT-HOT-HOT!

The great way to explore Montreal is with the Bixi rental.  Bike stands throughout the city, you rent from one location, then simply drop off the bikes at your destination at another stand.  Brilliant, along with the multitude of bike paths throughout the city thoroughfares.  In two days, we saw more of Montreal than most tourists see in a week, and learned just how hilly this city is in parts.

Our first day we rode to the summit of Mont-Royal Park on a steamy, hazy day.  On our journey we passed through Chinatown, the city centre,  McGill University  (VERY steep hills) on our way to the summit of the park, overlooking the city towards the St. Lawrence River.  We then visited St. Joseph’s Oratory, walking up the 300 steps to the basilica, one pilgrim kneeling her way up while saying the rosary each step.  Bless her patience on a 90-degree day!  2.5 hours biking, about 8 miles walking including our evening out.

Yesterday we biked to still-standing by sad looking Olympic Park remains then returned the bikes Olympic Stadiumfor a 4-hour exploration of the incredible Botanical Gardens.  Indescribable heat, indescribable beauty.

Chinese Garden
My dream yard--brought tears to my eyes.
waterfall in Chinese garden
Waterfall in Chinese Garden

We saw all types of people who live and visit this city, invisible to those who only follow the tourist routes: the pinstripes, the dock workers, the 10-am beer drinkers, the haggard, the joyous, the crackheads, the explorers, the day campers, the bikers, the goth, the hidden, the am shower-takers-in-the-fountain-wearing-bra-and-shorts, the squeegie beggars, the fashionistas, the hikers, the photographers, the lost, the innocents wallowing in a pool off the deck, the phone talkers, the ipod listeners, the man in the wheelchair scooter–just how and why was he just watching us in the abandoned grassy area, the taxi drivers, the sweaty paper delivery man, the drug dealers and users, the hippies, the found.

We hiked, we biked, we climbed steps, we breathed in deeply in air conditioning, we ate hungrily after our sweats, we explored, we drank beers et du vin apporter to the restaurants, we shopped, we opened our eyes to the forgotten corners of the alleyways and quais.  An incredibly cosmopolitan city with many areas of outdoor cafes and clubs (I think we saw ALL of them in 3 days), we could barely skim the depth of it.  A return trip is needed for that.  And the purchase of some man-capris, which abound here.  C