Rhode Island – Sunset on way home.

I’ve always wanted to see Rhode Island and this was the time. I traveled with my daughter, we stayed in Providence and took a day trip to Newport. TRAVEL TIP: Take the bus from Airport to the city – $2 / bus versus $35+ / Uber. We also took the bus to Newport about one hour 15 min ride. Again, $2 per trip versus $60+ / Uber. Can’t beat that and it was a pleasant bus ride driving through the different cities along the way to Newport.

I REALLY liked Newport. It’s on the water and has the most amazing homes, shops, etc. In fact, on our way to the Cliff Walk, I found an Irish shop and bought this cute hat. You can see a view of the Cliff walk too.

This huge home is The Breakers. Cornelius Vanderbilt II built this as a summer home between 1893-1895. In 1994 it was declared a National Historic Landmark. It’s now a tourist spot with tours, owned and operated by the Newport Preservation Society. The Society agreed to let the Vanderbilts live on the third floor, which is closed to the public. It appears in 2017, the Society wanted the Vanderbilts out. After 120 years of living there the Vanderbilts were told there were issues with electrical/plumbing, etc.

So many articles, hard to keep up with the latest. I will leave that to YOU, if you are interested. BUT there is an article stating that Trump bought The Breakers for $112M, plans to turn it into a casino? That would be sad, I hope not. This is such a beautiful area, why have a casino there.

This house is next door to The Breakers.

Many homes are hidden by bushes, so you cannot see them. In many ways, this walk reminded me of parts of Ireland on the cliffs and also the weather was sunny, then shady like it might rain.

There are a lot of nice shops down by the marina. Shop owners said they really suffered last year during COVID, not sure if they could stay open with no tourists, hard to pay the rent, so some places closed, some remained.

It’s a BEAUTIFUL area. I’d like to go back and stay a few days in Newport, explore that area more.

Travel Virtually– NEW site — Heygo!

I just came across this virtual travel site called, “Heygo.” It looks like a great site, the idea is good. Of course, right now it is FREE; however, you can’t view a tour unless you sign up on the site. They are asking that you tip the tour guides, which is fair.

It appears that “VirtualTrips.io,” was founded in May 2020 by Liam Garrison and John Tertan. This year, April 2021, they changed name to “Heygo,” which is a fun name (HEY – GO!). They say new name better reflects who they are. I was able to view a snippet of a Quebec tour, it was quick before they cut me off. Need to sign up on site to view full tour.

Sharing with you. We can’t travel Internationally yet, virtual it is.

They have 200+ tours around the world. A place for everyone to travel.

Let me know what you think.

Florence, Italy… I miss you!

I was taking to my Italian mother the other day. She said was one of her cousins was in Florence and it felt so strange. There aren’t many tourists, so to be able to walk and “see” the city was an eery feeling. We are used to so many tourists that we are elbow to elbow with them. Instead, my mother’s cousin arrived in Piazza Della Signoria with open eyes, as if seeing the Piazza for the first time. BEAUTIFUL!

I remember that feeling years ago. I was in Florence in June, it was so packed with people that I could not enjoy the city and I wanted to leave. I thought, I am DONE, I do not need to visit Florence for a long time.

THEN, one year, I visited in late November. I was walking the streets, hardly any people. Like my mother’s cousin, I had this strange feeling that something was wrong. Where were the people? My next thought was… ah, it’s late November – no tourists – this is GLORIOUS!

Fast forward to COVID 2021. My friend is in Florence right now. She said that August is SO HOT, over 100 degrees, she can see why the Italians go to the seaside the whole month of August. She remembers going around town with me, but couldn’t remember where restaurants and shops were.

So, I marked up this quick map for her. Once I did that, she had her bearings. She said there are not that many tourists. When outside you don’t need a mask, but inside you must have it. Also, because of COVID there were no new things to see in the market place or the shops. Everything seemed as it was from 2 years ago. Oh… this was funny. She was looking forward to a good dish of pasta. The pasta came, but it was SUPER AL DENTE. Not good.

My Italian girlfriend said her husband did that sometimes. I mean, there is AL DENTE, and there is ULTRA AL DENTE. She would tell her husband, “You must have been REALLY HUNGRY to serve pasta like this! YUK!”

Anyhow…

Traveling right now is challenging and different, because COVID rules / regulations keep changing.

If you are traveling… BE SAFE!

Florence… I miss you. I’ll be back.

Who’s eating the bird seed?

Visiting with friends in Michigan. A cardinal came by, but I was not fast enough to take the picture. We filled up the bird feeder in hopes of seeing more birds.

Later in the day, we wondered why the bird feed was so low.

WELL, look who was visiting. Amazing how athletic these squirrels are. They spook easily, so I had to be quick to take some photos. It was challenging. The wind was making the squirrel twirl around while he was trying to eat. I laughed and thought, “He’s a CIRCUS squirrel!”

Nature is amazing!

Traveling… Idaho – A Potato Hotel?

I think many of us would agree, we like to EAT potatoes, but would we like to SLEEP in one?

Due to COVID travel restrictions, we’ve been exploring fun trips in our own country.

Somehow, I came across the, “Big Idaho Potato Hotel.” Yes, IN IDAHO. It’s a HUGE 6 ton potato near Boise, looks like these russet potatoes. You’ve got to check it out. YouTube: Tiny House Giant Journey: Want to Sleep in a Potato? The Most Unique Airbnb in Idaho!.

This hotel was designed by Kristie Wolfe. She also designed a Hobbit House in Orondo, Washington about 160 miles from Seattle.

I would LOVE to stay at the Hobbit house, wish it was closer to Chicago for a weekend getaway.

Have you found anything interesting like this during COVID? Amazing what is out there.

San Diego: Ships, Horatio Hornblower…

When I was in San Diego I saw these two ships. I immediately wanted to climb aboard and stand at the helm like Horatio Hornblower OR Errol Flynn as the pirate. If you haven’t seen the Horatio Hornblower series (1998 – 2003), I highly recommend it. While it’s an older show, it’s not outdated. You will be engaged the entire time.

Take a look:

Here was another ship I saw. I didn’t have enough time; otherwise, I would have signed up for the tour.

It’s amazing to see these ships up close. A few years ago when I was in Sardinia there was a tour ship that was on the horizon. It looked BEAUTIFUL, I longed to see it up close there is such a mystery around these ships. In San Diego, I got my chance, they are a work of art. Intricate with all the details. I did not see a plank.

I hope you enjoy these ships as I did.

LAND AHOY!!

San Diego: “Save the Kiss”

I came to San Diego for a few days. It’s quiet here, not so many people because of COVID. Also, the weather is cool and cloudy.

This is an amazing picture and a bit deceiving. It looks like real people. That’s the beauty of this statue, it looks real. As you can see it’s gigantic, I was amazed to see it.

Here is the description:

As I was walking, ZOLTAR spoke to me in a deep voice, asking to read my fortune. So funny. I almost put a $1 in to see what he would say, but I didn’t have the proper change.

I’m an Aquarius, I read somewhere that it is my Emerald year. I wish I could remember where I read that. Somehow the planets are aligning for it to be the year of Aquarius. When I think of emerald, I think of the Wizard of Oz, and going to meet the all powerful wizard.

After our crazy COVID year, I’d like to hear what the powerful wizard would tell me.

ZOLTAR – I might just find that $1 and hear what you have to say…. just for chuckles!

Italy – The Uffizi Gallery prepares for overtourism in Florence…

Yesterday, I read an article in CNN’s Travel section, Italy has a new way to combat overtourism, by Julia Buckley. My mother was born and raised in Florence, so I immediately stopped what I was doing to read the latest news. This article is specific to Florence and The Uffizi Gallery.

Before COVID, anyone who had traveled to Italy experienced first hand overtourism. In Florence, it was impossible to walk on the streets. So many tourists, we were elbow to elbow with them. It was not an enjoyable, add to that making sure you were not pick pocketed, due to the crowds.

This article talks about a new project, Uffizi Diffusi, which means “scattered Uffizi.” Eike Schmidt, Director of the Uffizi, came up with the idea of multiple (100) exhibition spaces for art from the Uffizi to be displayed all over Tuscany. This does two things, it shares the tourism burden and also allows locals to visit exhibits in their area.

COVID has allowed Florence to take a breath from the fast paced tourism. To think, plan and re-invent tourism for the future. My mother’s relatives are out in the country, it’s nice, no tourists. Selfishly, I hope it stays that way.

If you have been to Florence or have planned to go, you can read the article for more details.

World Travel: Walking / Hiking Tours

I don’t know about you, but I‘ve definitely got Spring fever. I’d really like to travel somewhere. While that is not possible with COVID right now, we can research and plan.

Look what came to my inbox, information on walking/hiking tours. This Country Walkers site looks interesting. They have tours all over the world. They’ve been around for 40 years, located out of Vermont. I was happy to see they offer different types of tours, i.e. guided, self-guided and partially guided. Do you opt for flight in package or not, lots of things to consider price-wise.

It’s never too early to start planning. One day soon, we will have the green light to travel Internationally, I’ll be ready!

Fitness Virtual Challenge – IRELAND

January 2021 – The start of a new year, it’s time for a fitness challenge.

My girlfriend was on Facebook and found this Run West Ireland – Cancer Fundraiser – Virtual Challenge. It was a no brainer to sign up. We love Ireland, happy to donate to cancer and need to exercise. A win/win all around.

Here’s how it works. Race Duration: January 18 – May 31. Miles: 502; however, you can sign up to do less. Doing the math, as I signed up for the 502 miles, it seems I need to walk about 5 miles a day. It’s hard to find 1.5 hours a day to devote to exercise, but that will be the challenge.

They have a Facebook group page, which is nice. So, there is some camaraderie and then other perks along the way. I clocked my 5.6 miles in today. Feeling good.

So the race begins!