Category Archives: Italy

Oh the Places You’ll Cruise??

My dear co-worker and friend Candace married her long time girlfriend Genna last month in Chicago. They had a lovely wedding, but like all weddings go…it is finally time for the honeymoon!!

Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio

They booked a Mediterranean cruise that goes from Barcelona to Naples/Pompeii to Rome to Florence/Pisa/Livorna to Cannes to

Pisa Cliche
Mom at Pisa

Palma, Majorica. I have been to six of those nine places. I thought I could give some good insight to it. Then I decided for a wedding gift that I would make them one of my iWander books of their cruise for free of charge!

It was a lot of fun to make, because I have always wanted to know all the potential places I could go to in limited time and therefore I (or whoever I am writing it for) would have lots of options once there. But, this was a cruise.

I gave Candace her book!
I gave Candace her book!

They are only allowed 10-12 hours in each place. How does one see all of Rome in 10 hours?! Well. Actually. One doesn’t. So I did a lot of research of finding the best one day excursions in each place. I looked up blog suggestions, must-do’s and must see’s, and travel sites suggestions. It was a really fun book to make because I was able to set personalized suggestions of where to go and when.

Here is a blurb of my Barcelona part:



History: The city is the capital of Catalonia and is Spain’s second biggest city. They have a population of about 1.5 million people. Best known for the Olympics being hosted in Barcelona in 1992, and since then the city has changed its neighborhoods and the way the city is presented today. It was originally under Roman rule. Barcelona was founded under two stories: the first being Hercules (yes, the Mythological God) founded the city, and the second being founded by Hamilcar Barca the statesman of Cyrene. He was said to command the forces in Sicily from 247 BC to 241 BC. The Roman redirected the city as a military camp around 15 BC, and used for its excellent harbor.  After the Romans were the Visigoths conquer, and this was a rule by the Moors for the next 100 years. The city gained a reputation during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century with the World’s Fair in 1888. Catalonia fought for freedom from the rule of Spain through the 20th century, and with this heightened Barcelona’s importance.

Suggested Options for A Single Day in Barcelona:
(On your first day, with only a few hours, it might be beneficial to start one of these and then finish the suggested list on your return back and be able to spend more time in a museum or Cathedral.)

    – Mirador de Colon         – Placa de Catalunya                 – Parc Guell
    – La Rambla                 – La Rambla                          – Train to Sangrada Familia (Go in?)
    – Detour thru Barri Gotic   – Mirador de Colon                  – Av. Diagonal to Casa Batllo (Go in?)
    – Visit Museo Picasso      – Placa Reial                         – Casa Mila (Go in?)
    – Walk back by Catedral     – Thru Barri Gotic                   -Thru Barri Gotic
    – La Boqueria (off of La Rambla) – Visit Catedral               – Visit Catedral (Go in?)
    – Placa de Catalunya           – Walk to Can Culleretes         -Visit Town Hall
    – Casa Batllo (Go in?)          – Montjuic                           – Olympic Stadium
    – Casa Mila/Pedrera (Go in?)  – Sangrada Familia (Go in?)        – Montjuic hill
    – Avinguda Diagonal              – Train to Parc Guell        
    – La Sangrada Familia (Go in?)                    
    – Train to Parc Guell                        

* (G) signifies Gaudi Work

– Avinguda Diagonal – A collection of bars and restaurants on one of the most important streets in Barcelona. It was designed by IIdefons Cerda (one of the city original planners).

– Barcelona Catedral (of Holy Cross) – The cathedral was started in the 13th century and finished in the 15th century. It was built on the site of an old Roman town (close to what was once the Roman Forum). The Roman city’s gate was once across the street (Carrer del Bisbe) and you can still see the lower segments of the towers as well as a Roman aqueduct at the base of the Bishop’s Palace (Palau Episcopal).The cathedral was spared by the anarchists during the Civil War and is the place where Santa…..cont.


In Pompeii God Priapus Made Me Wanderlust


This industry of travel seems to be exploding before my very eyes. It is almost difficult to keep up sometimes. So why be a part of it? Why continue to write even when I am not being paid for it? Well as one blogger says “because I like it.” Somehow through sharing my own stories, it feels as if I am keeping them alive. The memory of them is stronger. I don’t know if anyone is really reading any of them, but if they are then they are getting quite the Shannon education.

I am flying off to Ireland in 26 days. That feels like it is so soon and I am still preparing,but also too much time. Sometimes when I am in between trips it just feels like I am waiting until my next one. Do you know what I mean? As if I am just trying to pass the time with bills, and rent, and a job until my next flight.

I am going to Ireland with my mom. Last time my mom was in Ireland, she was visiting our family while studying abroad in England. It was also the time when she found out that she

My mom and I in Europe
My mom and I in Europe

was pregnant…with me. This is probably when I was realistically bit with the travel bug. Wanna hear a fun story? (I just told this to some of my customers) My mother will kill me, but its ok….

My mom, Laura, was 21 at the time and in her last years of college. She was studying in London and having the best time…as one does when 21 in England. She was seeing an Australian fellow at the time when she and a friend went down to visit Italy and Pompeii. Pompeii in the 80’s was a bit more relaxed than now, then you bought an entry ticket in but then you were allowed to roam around the archaeological sites on your own. Well Pompeii is a city, and its big. Laura and her friend were wandering and found themselves in a brothel type building. There were paintings of naked women everywhere and a massive statue of the God Priapus and it was said that if you touched his….ummm…member, then you will become instantly fertile. Laura went to Ireland the next week and low and behold….there I was!

Visiting ruins in Italy
Visiting ruins in Italy

Lesson from this story: Either I am 1. Australian or 2. a God from Pompeii. I tend to side with the latter 😀 Don’t touch just anything in Europe….could be a big ol surprise! I am super excited to be back in Ireland with my mother to continue the adventure. And finally, I was doomed to be a traveler at conception….

Wait…What happened?

My 17-year old cousin left for Italy as a high school exchange student yesterday. He has been wanting this and working towards it since he was a kid and registered for Italian class when he was required to take a foreign language in school. He is a totally head strong and big hearted guy, and he very strong willed. All this being said, he is STILL my little cousin and I am so excited for him, but the world is so big and there are so many people who could possibly take advantage of him. It thrills me to think about the number of people I can meet at any given place, and the sights to take in, and the foods to taste, and the excitement of finding my way through a new foreign city. But he is so young, and it worries me….now I know how my mother felt when I left on my own to study abroad. Truth is I know Sean will be fine and he is perfectly capable taking care of himself, and this trip will be one of the highlights of his life.

I just think of all the scary, and sometimes dangerous situations I have found myself in overseas unintentionally, and even times my mother was overseas and in bad situations. In the mid 1980’s, my mom and a few friends were staying in a pension in

Mom's return to Italy
Mom’s return to Italy

Italy while on a trip. During this time, it was not common for women to be out on town very late at night. It was common knowledge for the safety of girls to not be alone at night if they were out. Well, my mother and her American friends at the time we unaware of this knowledge and when they were coming back from being out at night, a car came speeding up and cut them off on the sidewalk. These Italian men got out of the car and began to pull my mother into it, saying “come beautiful American, come with us.” A round of “Tug of War” between these men and my mother’s friends with my mom as the rope then commenced.  My mom’s friends won.

I had an altercation on the public transit system in Prague with supposed Prague police. They took my friend Elise’s passport and wouldn’t give it back unless we paid for it. So I argued and fought and paid to get it back, with them threatening me all the while with putting us both in jail.

Elise and I in Prague
Elise and I in Prague

My good friend in college went to Italy and got very very drunk in a bar in Italy a few years back. Next thing I know, there are pictures of him on Facebook in an Italian hospital completely soaked in blood because of his broken nose. Turns out he said something very American (quite ignorant) drunkenly to the wrong Italian dude.

Italian couple in Rome enjoying views out their window

Now, in no means am I saying that bad things always happen when traveling abroad. Not at all. All I am saying is that there is always potential for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and there is NO…NO way to prepare yourself for this. Today each of these events are part of a really darn great traveling story, but at the time were a little scary. It’s part of the package experience, but I am worried about my little cousin. I would never want anything to taint this trip for him. I’ll just have to trust the universe and hope that you dear Italians out there watch out for a cute 17 year old American boy from Arlington Heights, Illinois.