Tag Archives: Relax

It’s Not “Luck.” Just Do it. Wander.

While on the train this morning, a twenty something girl came into my car. She recognized the other girl about the same age sitting

Byron Bay
“Lucky” in Australia

across from me and sat next to me instead. She squished her over sized bag and coat between my body and the car pole by the seats. She explained that she did not want to sit next to her “friend” because she felt that she was getting sick….gee…thanks….

I tried to point my face from then on in the other direction, which meant my ear was turned toward their entire conversation. They joked about work and friends and a silly new exercise class they wanted to take together (which obviously was never going to happen by the tones of their voices). Then they started to talk about a friend of one of them visiting from London. My interest perked up. She was living in New York, but from London. The girls then joked about being very touristy in Chicago in order to show their English friend around.  But, what really intrigued me, (and to be completely honest) actually pissed me off a little was when they were talking about how she just visited Portugal.

“Portugal sounds so interesting. It would be cool to go there,” says

White House
“Lucky” in Washington D.C.

Girl 1.
“Oh yeah. It would definitely be a place I would want to go to,” replies Girl 2.
“We should go there sometime.” Girl 1.
“Sure. Like Right now.” Girl 2.
“Oh yeah lets just get on the Blue Line straight to O’Hare (Airport)” Girl 1
“Ok. Next stop” Girl 2 .
Giggling for too long.

Why is this so annoying to me? I know their type. They are not going to go to Portugal. They’re not. I know they’re not. It is more fascinating to spend vacation money to go to an all-inclusive in Mexico to them. This is a very common American mentality and it just really boils me up. They laughed it off like the idea was completely absurd. It’s not absurd. Save and do it. Just do it. Go to

Hakuba Skiing
“Lucky” in Hakuba Japan

Portugal. Why does that seem so impossible? Life is just waiting to be lived outside of your hometown. So go. Enough giggling about something because it seems hard. You work and earn money and have the curiosity about a place. So Go! Do it. Enough joking about it.

I guess it really gets to me because people always look at me as if I am “lucky” to have gone to all the places I have been. I am not “lucky.” Please do not call me that. I just save, plan, and do it. Anyone can. I am tired of people of equal or higher wage look at me like I am crazy because I go places all the time. I am not crazy. I am curious. I have Wanderlust. Don’t judge. Just do it.

San Diego
“Lucky” in San Diego at the Ocean

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.


Quito Food Adventure

“Supposedly the intestines are really good. You can go try them if you want.”

The steam rose with meats cooking from the food carts in the plaza area. We were in the area called the “food market.” Everyone in Quito knows it. When we got into a cab from the airport, Danielle instructed the driver to go to the “food market,” because addresses are pretty useless in Ecuador. The driver’s response was “the one

Danielle’s street

with the intestine’s” as reassurance. Now, I am a person to want to try new things, but sometimes I get a little cold footed when it comes down to it. When traveling in Africa, we saw boys selling roasted field mice on a stick on the side of the road. Fur, feet, teeth and all. I was curious, but my mom couldn’t chance the idea of parasites on this trip. And I was secretly relieved.

We walked through Danielle’s neighborhood into the dark night. The air in Quito is nothing like any other major city. New York is beautiful but smells of a porta-potty most times. Chicago also has that sewer smell sometimes, or the smell of exhaust. Quito smells of fresh air. Perhaps this is because it is so high up into the Andes, but whatever the case it is a delightful surprise. Most of Quito feels as if you are walking uphill. I am sure that this is an unfair assessment on my part since I haven’t been in high altitude since living in Colorado, but that was how it seemed this night.

On Teleferico in Quito
On top of Teleferico in Quito

I was trying to enjoy my only night I had out in Quito, but I had a very uneasy feeling within me. Sometimes when I am nervous or upset, my stomach turns and is not able to process or settle. (While living through my first bad break up in Colorado, I lost 25 pounds.) Earlier that day, my mother yelled at me over email and called Wayne with worry, which made me really upset. And then I was supposed to fly out the next day, but no ATM was working in Quito. I came to Ecuador with $400 in cash, because I was prepared to be in the jungle and ocean with no ATM’s. Now on my last day in Quito, of course no ATM works. Tomorrow…I have to take a cab to the airport…

My stomach just kept feeling worse. I was trying to calm myself down, but for some reason it wasn’t getting any better. I kept thinking that I was totally over working myself. How could I be this stressed out over something out of my control? We checked 4 different ATM’s. Finally found one that was giving out cash, but at that point the pain in my stomach was so severe I had to sit. My wonderful cousin hurried with her new cash and ran to the store.

Center of Ecuador
My great cousin!

She came back with Sprite, Club Soda and water. I didn’t want to ruin everyone’s time out, so I insisted on going out to the bars still. While at the first bar (which was Mexican), I was curled up on the couch in increasing pain. Finally, after finishing the Sprite, I sat up and ran to the bathroom.

Sadly, I could not find the light in the bathroom and it all started without my permission. I tried to keep my mouth closed but some got on the broken light switch and I turned to the stall. Not sure how to explain what occurred immediately after, but I DID find a light in the bathroom stall. And it was not very good. Well, then it was quite apparent that I work in the restaurant industry (and perhaps a pretty sensitive traveler) because I started to clean it all up. It was on the sides. It was on the top. It was on the floor. I did my best with toilet paper. Still feeling really queasy. It was not very good the rest of the night after this point.

Five days later….I found out it was Ecoli. And my cousin had it too.