Jan 31, 2013

Russia for the Countdown

left to right: me and Christy modeling Snowhemian Chic
I feel like it is turning 
into Russia 

said my sister's Russian neighbor as we were all shoveling snow. There is that much snow in Utah right now.

Now for travel related news . . .
  • My flight is booked!
  • I will be in Europe in 19 days!
  • My sister Christy is traveling  with me for the first week!
  • And yes, I'm going to make her Yodel with me as we cross the Millenium Bridge (for more about this see the Mission Possible List). 
Let the Countdown begin  
*Cast your vote on the right if you think you know where I'm going first.

Jan 26, 2013

Food Heaven

Have you heard about this book!

Phaidon who produces beautiful books, just published it (2013). Do you see how they've printed on the book edge as well--it goes all the way around. Inside, the pages are clean, no fuss and loaded with information.

It's just about restaurants. Here's an excerpt from the preface: 

we sent questionnaires to an international line-up of leading chefs, asking them to tell us where they go for breakfast, where they eat late at night, where they think is a bargain, and which high-end restaurants they like to go to for a treat.

Organized by geographic region -- Oceania, Asia, Europe, Africa, North America and South America -- you can travel the globe or stay somewhere near home to judge one of these establishments for yourself. The U.S. restaurants are in large cities like Los Angeles and Chicago. And with a large selection in Europe you know what that means: this book is coming with me (in spite of the heft) and I will share what I find.

The book as well as the on line synopsis indicate there is an iPhone and iPad app. Until they are available I will travel with the hardback version of Where Chefs Eat

Update: Thanks for the info from Adrián. The iPhone and iPad apps are due out in early February.

Jan 25, 2013

Rome with a load of coins

  • Cast a coin [or several] in the Trevi Fountain in Rome and make a wish and let us know when it comes true - Jeff
I'm going to need a lot of coins to help me complete the to do's on this Mission Possible list because the theme is Amore!
  • Have a romantic lunch with a sexy Frenchman - Allison
  • Tell an Italian or French guy he is very handsome - David
  • A date in every country! xoxo - Carrie - every country? phew, no pressure or anything. Then on the flip side . . .
  • If a Frenchman tries to pinch or flirt with you just say "Non!" - Laurent 
In addition to coins I need to pack a lot of luck, guts, flirty winks and cute clothes. So if anyone knows a cute nice single guy in any of the countries on this list please help a girl out and let me know.

Or . . . maybe I just need to learn to Mambo Italiano

Jan 21, 2013

A Straight Jacket

That's what the Italians will put me in when I'm caught doing this:
  • riding a bike and singing "my country tis of thee" (at the tops of my lungs) while wearing red white and blue somewhere in Italy. Thank you Tanni
For the second installment in the Mission Possible list the theme is Culture.
All the "to do's" below will immerse me in the culture of a locale while the item above will only validate the negative opinion that many Europeans have of Americans. I will have to get creative with that one. I seriously love my friends.
  • Clog dressed in traditional clothing in Germany - Adrian
  • A cooking lesson in every country! - Carrie
  • A once in a lifetime experience in every country! - Carrie
  • Drive on the autobahn in a BMW - Michelle
I mean really. I get to drive on the autobahn in a BMW without feeling the least bit of guilt for my frivolity.

Jan 19, 2013

A Field of Barley

Yes, that's right. I asked a group of friends to share what they would have me do while on my adventures in Europe and one said, "Run your hands through a field of Barley".

So here's the first installment of these zany to do's and the theme is Nature/Great outdoors.
  • Run your hands through a field of Barley -Armando
  • Yodel every time you cross a bridge -Katie, who will also Meet Me In Prague
  • Run through the grass wearing a dress while singing "the hills are alive with the sound of music" (don't forget the nun hat) -  Tanni
  • Visit the Ice Bar in Sweden - Michelle
I'll give it my best effort to accomplish all or die laughing or crying. For now we'll call it my Mission Possible list.
Barley 3
Barley 3 by Michał Ludwiński

Jan 17, 2013

A Packing Frenzy

Did you know the abominable snowman lives in southern CA? Okay maybe not the abominable snowman but decked out in all the snow gear I own I was a sight to behold. That's what happens when packing every single book, fondue pot, book, sofa pillow, book, refurbed dresser, bookcase . . .  during cold temps the likes of which we wimpy Californians haven't seen in 22 years.

But glory hallelujah it's all packed . . . phew. After 5 days of packing, 2 storage containers and 2 almost overweight suitcases (repacked at the jetblue check-in counter) I'm on my first leg of the trip: a month in Utah hanging out with my other most adorable niece and nephews.

Tomorrow . . . a sneak peak at some zany stuff on my adventure list.

Jan 12, 2013

Option A

Here are the countries from my post titled Anticipation with a very rough timeline. I fully expect things to change, heck I can't even decide which coat to take, so this rough itinerary is a big step.

Cinque terre, Italy
Cinque Terre, Italy photo by Pierpaolo Corona

  Portugal - maybe
  Spain - maybe, because I really
         want to start with . . .
  ITALY - but if I I want to hit Portugal
          and Spain it just seems logical to
          visit those prior to Italy.
          Ah who says any of this is logical.

Prague, Czech Republic image from stock.xchng

                                   Czech Republic

Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey, Ireland photo by Belén Galán




Copenhagen, Denmark photo by Marc Garrido i Puig

                                 Central Asia (a "stan" or 2)

Savannah Park Path
Savannah Georgia photo by Roger Kirby


  And finally a couple stops in the US

Jan 10, 2013


I watch a certain movie over and over and over again. Not Pride and Prejudice although it is on the list. In this movie I'm drawn to:
  • the interiors -- I am an interior design fanatic
  • the dream of meeting and marrying a man with a beautiful accent -- I could devote an entire post to this topic
  • owning a cottage in the English countryside -- kinda sounds like Pride and Prejudice up to this point, but it's not
  • having someone as hot as Jude Law show up on my door
  • having the body to wear Cameron Diaz' wardrobe
  • having someone as sweet and funny as Jack Black's character show up on my door
  • the friendship and mentoring from someone full of wisdom and insightfulness
So when a friend at work said I had gumption for taking this leap I was overjoyed at the thought. Because . . . that one word sums up all my hopes for this adventure and maybe, just maybe, this huge risk will lead to something just as fantastic as the stories in this movie or something better. Maybe the stretch, and stepping into the unknown with both feet, will help me develop all that gumption represents, to make more things happen. Because I'm tired of waiting for things and tired of letting my fear be my own worst enemy.

I have a load of fabulous friends that inspire me with their individual lives of gumption. Here's to them. And if you are one of those that think you don't have it YOU DO.

[guhmp-shuh n]  noun, Informal.
1. initiative; aggressiveness; resourcefulness
2. courage; spunk; guts
3. common sense; shrewdness.

The Holiday

Jan 9, 2013


Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a cute pair of comfortable travel shoes that don't scream "American Tourist"? I have been on this quest for at least . . . um . . . 6 years.

Recently rededicating myself to the effort, I'm sure the UPS man thinks some kind of strange illegal shoe trafficking scheme is going on here with the frequent delivery of shipping boxes large enough for both my niece and nephew to play in at the same time.

But thanks to Zappos convenient return policy I was able to try on and return many a pair and I'm happy to announce: we have a WINNER!

All my requirements are met in these boots from Born: all day every day comfort; protection from rain, snow, and cobblestones; substantial tread for said rain and snow; to be worn with pants or skirts; warm but not too warm; no duck feet please and of course cute.

Jan 7, 2013

The Map Department

As a kid I poured over maps, atlases, globes. Still do. I've found some really great ones recently.

1. I'm already trying to figure out how to best transport this one on my trip. I mean really, it's a scratcher map! I'm not really sure what else to say except "I WANT IT". And the fact that Luckies sells a travel size is genius.
Scratch Map Travel Edition

2. Isn't this adorable you can have it customized. I love it and can see it hanging just about anywhere to commemorate a special trip. From the clever HereAndThereShop.

3. For the last, more practical option..Pop Out Maps are just too cute, seriously they fit right in your hand. They open (and close) easily and highlight popular destinations. I was lucky enough to receive four of them from my not so little brother for Christmas: Florence, Rome, Paris, London.

Jan 6, 2013

A Good Book

A dear friend gave me a fantastic book to help me prepare for and make the most of my travels. The title is Writing Away. It's a lovely little guide to journaling about your adventures. The author, Lavinia Spaulding, provides oodles of hints and ideas to make your journal fun and layered. Because of this book I started blogging prior to my trip rather than waiting until the the plane takes off.

While on the topic of books here are a couple of reads to wet your travel appetite.
  • Paris, My Sweet takes you through a year+ with Amy Thomas  as she works and lives in Paris sampling pastries and chocolates along the way.
  • The Shoemaker's Wife  is by Adriana Trigiani and if you haven't read anything by her, you must go now, and read Big Stone Gap. Yes, it's a mushy love story but it's smart and fun and set in the Blue Ridge mountains. I can almost imagine the fall leaves crunching under my shoes now as I think about it. The Shoemaker's Wife is more of an epic novel spanning the lives of several characters, but no less captivating or endearing. I've added a chalet in the Italian alps to my travels because of this book.

Jan 1, 2013


A short time ago the voice in my head saying, "it's a bigger risk not to go on the adventure of a lifetime," became the loudest.

So here I am in 2013 job free, making preparations to travel, feeling ecstatic about the future, and doing my best to soak up the love and support shared by family and friends.

February 18, 2013* is D-Day (aka Departure Day) to travel for several months in Europe, then to central Asia, possibly another destination (TBD), and back to the USA to hit a few key places. Some things are scheduled and a lot of things we'll call "moments of planned spontaneity"--woo hoo! And all along the way friends and family will MEET ME IN various locations. So to those who've listened to me ramble about traveling, voiced your encouragement, who will be traveling with me or joining the experience by reading along . . . thank you for sharing the ride.

*give or take a few days dependent on loose ends like organizing finances and schedules, packing and filing taxes, you know all that practical stuff.