Notes from Home: On Cruising

January 31, 2016Notes from Home

“I see skies of blue and clouds of white, The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night. And I think to myself What a wonderful world.” ~Louis Armstrong, What A Wonderful World  I took my first cruise in the summer of 1994. It was a short, three-night affair on the Viking Serenade, a long-ago ship … Read More

When Accidents Happen: Falling Hard for Aix-en-Provence

January 25, 2016France, Spain

“I was looking up. It was the nearest thing to heaven.” ~Deborah Kerr, An Affair to Remember  Like the character from that classic film, I wasn’t looking where I was going. I was too engrossed in the way the sun was splashing across the beautiful old limestone buildings, with their green shutters and wrought iron balconies … Read More

Dalian, China: Not Quite Ready for Prime Time Touring

January 20, 2016China

Our cruise on the Crystal Symphony from Hong Kong to Beijing was packed with famous and fascinating places – a trip of a lifetime, as people often say. The final stop before disembarking in Beijing, however, was a bit of a mystery. Dalian, China – a financial center and seaport in northeastern Liaoning Province and … Read More

The Great Escape Room: San Diego’s House of Hints

January 15, 2016California

“Mrs. Peacock did it in the Conservatory with the Candlestick?”  Well, not quite… I first heard of “escape rooms” while doing research on Bilbao, Spain, for an upcoming trip.  The premise sounded intriguing:  You are locked in a movie set-like room and must solve a mystery using puzzles and clues hidden in the room in … Read More

When Plans Change: Turning Lemons Into Limoncello in Naples

January 12, 2016Italy

You could almost hear the collective echo of disappointment throughout the ship when our captain announced that the Tyrrhenian Sea was too rough to anchor in Sorrento. Instead, we would be docking in Naples, about 14 nautical miles north, with some excursions cancelled and others continuing as planned. I, however, couldn’t believe our good fortune. … Read More

Notes from Home: On Souvenirs

January 8, 2016Notes from Home

Souvenir:  from the French, “to remember.” Their memories dance across our Christmas tree, sparkling in the glow of the white lights. Like voices from Christmases Past, they stare out from the branches as if to say, “You remember when you found me, don’t you?  It was at that…” I quickly cut them off, because of course … Read More

Meeting My Hero: A “Carpe Diem” Day Trip

January 7, 2016California

This is not a political post. It is a story of carpe diem, of saying “yes” when it would be much easier to say, “next time.” Some background: I’ve always been a big fan of Jimmy Carter. Ever since he campaigned in Des Moines when I was living there, I found him fascinating and inspirational…his … Read More

Taking A Break: Tea & Coffee Shops Around the World

January 2, 2016China, Denmark, Estonia, France

“Would you like an adventure now, or would you like to have your tea first?” ~J.M. Barrie, The Adventures of Peter Pan Finding a special café for taking a break between sightseeing outings is a great way to discover some local flavor while getting ready for the next stop. Sometimes it’s a place that I simply … Read More

From Russia With Love: The Fast Train to Moscow

January 2, 2016Russia

“Everything had changed suddenly-the tone, the moral climate; you didn’t know what to think, whom to listen to. As if all your life you had been led by the hand like a small child and suddenly you were on your own, you had to learn to walk by yourself.”  ~Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago All of … Read More

Notes from Home: Beginning

January 2, 2016Notes from Home

It was early September 1974 when my college friend Jan and I arrived in London for our semester study abroad program. It was my first trip beyond the United States – with the exception of Canada, but growing up in Minnesota, I never counted Canada as “foreign” – and my first flight across the Atlantic. We … Read More