Chicago – Visit “21c Museum Hotel – MGallery,” newly opened

The talk of the town in Chicago this week is the newly opened “21c Museum Hotel.” It’s an elegant boutique hotel, which has a small contemporary art museum. The art gallery features some thought provoking pieces.

I found this art piece interesting called, ‘The Police State,” by Sebastian Errazuriz, his take on the three world leaders. There were other interesting pieces, but since the museum is so small, I’ll let you visit to see the rest.

The Reception desk said that 21c Museum Hotels have quite a few other locations, you can visit their website to see where. Condé Nast Traveler has written about this hotel chain, so worth a visit. Now, I am inspired by art, need to go to the Art Institute.

Puzzles… exotic travels

14B9E8F5-458A-4694-9E92-33DD6FBCFFC6I’ve always enjoyed doing puzzles. When my children were little we had a few favorite Disney puzzles that were about 35 pieces. Super easy, but just enough pieces to put some effort into making them without getting bored or tired.

For a few years now, I have been looking for a good puzzle, nothing caught my attention. This Christmas though, I found this puzzle by accident. I immediately liked it. Exotic travels, super colorful, and it looks like a group of stamps put together.

I started my puzzle with such excitement.

THEN THE LET DOWN… turns out this puzzle is an oversized shaped 24 x 30. As I was making the puzzle my pieces were not going to fit on my table. My table is 24 inches long, I need 30.

So, I started investigating puzzle tables. I didn’t even know they existed. However, do I really want a big table? Where would I store it when I’m not making a puzzle?

I don’t have the answers yet, BUT I do want to make my puzzle!

Not sure where to start… Rome, Hong Kong, Egypt, Bahamas?

My puzzle — HOW WILL IT GET DONE?  I need a puzzle expert!

Munich — Department Store Holiday Window Decorations

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On Sunday, all of the stores were closed in Munich, except places to eat and the Christmas Market stalls. This was good, because there weren’t as many people out, so I could walk and really look at the store windows.

I thought you’d enjoy these holiday decorations. Really beautiful with the gigantic nutcrackers. Notice that I was able to take pictures with no “shoppers” in the photo. The store had Christmas music playing in English, I was singing along.

The perfect way to end the day!

Travel – self guided walking tours, TRY GPSmyCITY App

GPSMYWALK AppI’m heading to Munich soon. While I have been there before, I was interested in exploring different areas of the city. As I researched places to see, I came across GPSmyCITY App, which offers self guided city walks.

I haven’t tried this yet, but I thought I would share it with you. It was a brilliant idea. Bypass normal tours and with this APP, do the walk yourself. On their website, they have different tutorials that teach you how to use the App, it seems easy. You can download different walks to use “off-line,” which was great, because my phone drains the battery very quickly and in Europe it is hard to find places to charge your phone.

They also offer articles on each city with the usual, i.e. best restaurants, cafes, museums, historical sites, products to buy, markets to visit, nightlife venues and more. They have self guided tours of 1,000+ locations all over the world.

The reviews for this App are mixed, some people love it, others don’t. Their location is out of Las Vegas. If anyone has heard of and/or used this App, let us know.

Happy touring!

Florence, Italy… Move over Starbucks, introducing “TSH Collab,” and “The Student Hotel”

The Student HotelThis is a brilliant concept. Instead of going to Starbucks to get work done, you can now sign up for a membership with TSH Collab, which gives you access to different co-living, co-working spaces in different European cities (Florence, Amsterdam City, Amsterdam West, Dresden, The Hague, Maastricht, Rotterdam, and Vienna/Bologna (coming soon). Their mission is to give people a place to live, work, dine, workout and they say to swim. Sounds great, yes?

However, I think they missed the boat with name, “The Student Hotel,” because their business model welcomes more than just students. They also include travelers, expats, mobile entrepreneurs, and professionals. Unfortunately, for me, the word “student” is restrictive. Maybe by using the word student, they were referring to a clientele between 18-35 years old — not clear, but their business model is something ALL ages want.

Last year, I was in Florence for a few months, not as a tourist, but visiting relatives. I looked for a cafe where I could sit and get work done. Florence does not have coffee shops like we do in America, where you can just camp out for a few hours. Starbuck’s has not been allowed a location in Florence.

So, when I saw this TSH Collab on LinkedIn, it sparked my interest, especially since they are in Florence, where they will have two locations. They are working on the Belfiore location now.

Charlie MacGregor, is the Founder, his concept is fantastic. The funding is coming from an Amsterdam headquartered developer investor. While he says he includes travelers, expats, etc. he is really catering to a “younger student audience,” but maybe that will change, because Florence is a major tourist destination.

FOR SURE, when I am in Florence or any city where The Student Hotel is located, I want to visit, see what the hotel is about and see how it feels. If you happen to visit before me, let us know what you think.

Why won’t my bus pass work?

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Yesterday, I was rushing to catch the train as usual.

I scanned my train card and tried to go through the turn style. Negative, the turn style was not moving. Once again, I scanned my train card, and tried to quickly pass through the turn style. AGAIN, it was not working. The night before I had added money to my card, so WHY wasn’t it working. I scanned the card “one more time,” and the turn style would not budge.

At this point, I had to move away from the turn style. It was embarrassing, all of the busy commuters looking irritated that I was “holding up the line.”

WHAT was the PROBLEM!

I looked at my train card…  It was NOT my train card. It was my devotional card for Saint Leopoldo of Padua. I visited his shrine in Italy a few years ago. He is known as the Saint who could heal you of your illness. At his shrine, there was a room full of photos that family members had sent of loved ones that they asked Saint Leopoldo to pray and heal them. He had a small room where he would hear people’s confessions. I bought this devotional card and always carry it with me.

So, I did have to SMILE!

This was Saint Leopoldo’s CLEVER way of telling me to slow down. Time for a trip to Padua and Abano Terme. For those of you who do not know, Abano Terme has hot springs and mud baths. People go here to rest and rejuvenate.

Sometimes in life, we need a SIGN to take care of ourselves!

Thank you, Saint Leopoldo. We have a three day holiday coming up, I will rest!

Florence, Italy – The Negroni cocktail!

Negroni cocktailI was reading “Girl in Florence,” blog post “A Love Letter to the Negroni Cocktail: Celebrating 100 Years of this Iconic Italian Cocktail,” and I smiled at a few points she made.

First, that this drink might look nice, but it is extremely bitter. It is an acquired taste, like drinking coffee. Second, I found her comment on friends ordering a beer and sipping it like it was a cognac amusing. I fall in that category.

In fact, last year I was visiting Italian relatives outside of Florence. We had a Sunday luncheon with aunts, uncles, cousins and their children, so there were about 20 of us. They had “one” bottle of wine on the table for all of us. I was surprised. In America the wine would be flowing — DRINK, DRINK and drink some more.

In Italy, NO, the objective of a nice dinner was not to get tipsy and drunk, but to have a little wine, while focusing on the food and good family conversation. Some children were given a few drops of wine added to their water glass.

I did not try the Negroni cocktail until a few years ago. When I went to Florence, I always stayed with my grandmother at her house. We did not go out for meals, we ate at home, no cocktails.

However, a few years ago, some American friends came to Florence, so we went out for apertivo. I saw someone having this refreshing reddish/orangey drink, given it was hot weather, I ordered the same. What a mistake! The drink was not refreshing, it was so bitter. It’s an acquired taste, I’ve ordered it over the years ALWAYS hoping for a spritz kind of taste and always disappointed. I KNOW, you’d think I would have learned my lesson, but it is a famous Italian drink; I’m Italian, I must learn to like it, right!

So, as our temperatures soar to 90 degrees today, the negroni post came as a pleasant surprise to my inbox. I am actually longing for the negroni drink a “tiny bit,” because it brings memories of Florence and I am due for a visit soon.

Ah… the Negroni!

I miss you Florence!