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!

Travel Tour websites… Why go it alone?

Egypt Rock TempleA girlfriend of mine is going to Italy in May and was looking up travel tours. I’ve never done a travel tour… OOPs, I take that back. My mother found a 10 day river cruise in Egypt that we went on. It was a FABULOUS trip. A travel package was critical in seeing all of the different sites. We needed a tour guide, he gave us the history behind the Abu Simbel Temples, Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx — there was so much to see. Incredible!

Other than that, I’ve normally gone on a trip and done my own planning. Why? Well, I don’t enjoy being on a constant schedule. If I am on a vacation, I want to relax a bit.

However, trips/tours make life easy, especially when the package is all inclusive (airfare, hotel, transportation), it takes the stress out of planning.

I came across these travel websites that were interesting.

horse riding tour

In The Saddle – This is a tour group that specializes in horseback riding holidays. Wow, right. I know, you’re wondering if I am an accomplished rider. No, but I found their trips interesting and adventurous. Check them out. I might have a sore bottom, but it would be worth it for a different type of adventure.

AdventureWomen – For 35 years, they have been focusing on unique adventure tours for active women. This is great, because in the past there were places that women could not travel alone (i.e. Botswana, Russia, Morocco, India, etc.), or if they did, it was at their own risk. If you are a woman, you’ll enjoy this website.

GROUPON Getaways – A girlfriend speaks highly of their travel packages. She bought a trip to Ireland through them. She said the hotel in different locations was great, they had a rental car, it was a good deal, everything went smoothly, hard to pass up.

Global Drifters – A new site I came across through their Blog. Clicking here and there, I found their travel packages. They are a younger company, visit and see what you think. Their tag line, “Not a Vacation, but an Experience.” They offer small group tours for the independent traveler.

Can you tell I am getting Spring fever?

Anyone open for a horse riding tour? Mongolia, to see the Eagle Festival? Bhutan maybe or back to Italy?

Hoping winter is coming to an end. It’s time for an adventure somewhere in the world!

Japan: Becoming a Geisha / Maiko for a day!

I was transported back to my childhood days when I read Josy’s post, “Maiko Makeover – Dress up like a Maiko in Kyoto.

As my parents traveled the world when I was child, my mother started bringing me dolls from each country where she traveled. I had two favorites. The first was a Japanese Geisha doll in a beautiful glass container. The second was a pair of dancing dolls from Thailand. While I don’t have the dolls anymore, I was able to find a good representation on http://www.pixabay.com, see photos.

F0A4B597-AC57-48E5-A734-E4C20BB16EA1The geisha doll was absolutely beautiful. As you can see in the photo, the doll’s face was painted white, stunning kimono, the sash at the waste, her white socks with black sandles and incredible hair piece. Oh, and the cute umbrella was fascinating to me. Certainly in Indiana we did not see this type of dress. It was a treasure.

So, when I came across Josy’s post, I smiled and had to look twice at the photos. WAS THAT REALLY JOSY dressed as a geisha? Yes, indeed it was! Josy was in Kyoto, Japan and in her post she explains in detail how she went for a Maiko Makeover. By the way, a maiko is an apprentice to a geisha. Josy takes us step by step through the stages of getting the makeover, which is fascinating. She includes location and price as well… all we need is a plane ticket over to Kyoto!

I learned something new. I didn’t realize that going for a makeover in Japan is a big touristy thing to do. If you are an avid hiker, you’ll enjoy Josy’s Blog, “A Walk And A Lark,” you’ll see spectacular photos from her different hiking adventures.

Thanks, Josy, for bringing back such nice childhood memories for me!

Visit Atlas Obscura -> An adventure guide to hidden wonders in the world.

Travel the worldLast week I was going through my Junk folder on Outlook. As expected most of it was junk; however, I came across an email from, “Atlas Obscura.” Normally, I would not open an unknown email, but the subject header said, “You can spend the night in this formerly abandoned Scottish village.”  This piqued my interest, I want to visit Scotland one day.

Before opening the email, I decided to research “Atlas Obscura.” Turns out it is an online magazine created in 2009 by Joshua Foer and Dylan Thuras. They wanted to create an atlas / guidebook for people to learn about and explore obscure places around the world. They certainly have done that.

If you sign up for their weekly newsletter, you’ll be amazed at the different places you can explore. On their website, you can choose a country (Germany, for example) and you’ll be brought to a map of Germany where they have pointers you can click on with stories for that particular area, i.e. the world’s largest cuckoo clock, the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Worms, the “floating railway” to name a few.

On Eventbrite, I noticed they have Atlas Obscura Society Chicago. For the remainder of February and into March, they have some interesting events going on, i.e. learning about volcanoes and the birth of the most precious stones, interactive history of comics, murder mystery soiree, scavenger hunt, roller skating in the movies, immigrant stories and connections. I wrote to one of the field reps to see what the age range was for people attending. Have not heard back yet.

If you enjoy traveling and you’re getting bored with the normal tourist attractions, I highly recommend visiting “Atlas Obscura’s” website. You’ll definitely find obscure things to explore on your next adventure.

Chicago: Painted Lighthouses by artists, many with disabilities

Lighthouse 2If you’ve been to Chicago, you know our Magnificent Mile is gorgeous in the summer. The flowers are in bloom in front of all the shop windows, the Chicago river looks fantastic and tourists are everywhere. We really enjoy summer, because we know that soon winter will be upon us.

Lighthouse 3A few days ago, I was walking down Michigan Avenue and I saw a lot of painted Lighthouses. Each one had it’s own theme. The Lighthouses on The Mag Mile™  are displayed for the public to enjoy celebrating people with disabilities. There are 51 six-foot lighthouses to see. I found a few and took pictures.

Lighthouse 4My daughter saw one that looked really spooky she said, with hands painted as if they were coming out of cracks in the wall. I was looking, but didn’t come across that one.

Lighthouse 1It’s a wonderful project, fun to see how creative the artists have been. The Lighthouse Art Display runs from June 19 – August 11, 2018.

Florence – YES, I found a 99 cent store…

DC6A821E-F171-4F8F-93CE-85290D3A99F4The Family Dollar stores are all over America, but I didn’t expect to find one in Florence. I thought you might enjoy seeing this, so if you travel to Italy you can save money by buying water and other small items here! They really have quite a bit, it’s amazing how the store looks small on the outside, but upon entering it’s quite big.

If you save on water, etc….  you can enjoy a gelato!