Ancestry kits have made it to the top of the Christmas gifts lists this year. Have you ever wondered about your roots? Where you came from? I have been thinking about this since high school. I dreamed to trace our roots back to our hometown back in Sicily. I knew we had more family out there. My dad is one of six kids, my grandpa one of six and it goes up from there. Could they be living right next door to you?
I remember a conversation I had with my father when I was in high school about our Italian roots and the history of our family. I was intrigued by our Italian culture and wanted to know more about our family’s history. Why did we come to America? My Father’s side of the family is Sicilian and originate from Corleone (yes that Corleone, the one from the Godfather’s Movies.) My Father is from a large Italian family, He was one of 6 siblings, my Grandpa one of twelve, and it goes up from there. When I was growing up, I only knew about my Grandfather’s family, his six children, my cousins. I knew of distant family back on the east coast, but that was all. I had many questions. For starters, Is there any family still living in Sicily?
Bergen is a fishing town in Norway. Bryggen the fishing harbor is a tourist attraction that attracts millions of visitors per year by air and sea and land. It is on the UNESCO World heritage sites. It has burnt down and rebuilt several times as the buildings are all made from wood. Going back from the 11th century. We arrived by train from Aurland. This is where we were to meet the ship for our Arctic expedition. We arrived a few days before we were to board, as we wanted to fully experience Bergen. I had heard many tales from previous travelers on how wonderful this town was to travel to and it did not disappoint.
It was a breathtaking 6 hour train ride from Flam. As we climbed the mountains with lush green scenery to snow capped mountains and back down to sea level again.
The hotel was a ten minute walk from the train station through many construction zones. The colorful vibrant buildings that lined the narrow streets the curved around to the hotel. Street art was everywhere you turned, from fine art to political. I do not know about you but I like street art.
We arrived in the city later in the evening, hungry. We had dinner in Bryggen at the highly rated Unicorn restaurant known as Enhjor Ningen. The food was delicious and service was good.
Later, We wandered into the night. It was still early in the summertime when it still got dark. We wandered down to the wharf to take in the view.
Arising early gave us the blessing of having the whole city to ourselves as everyone else was still sleeping. We wandered the streets exploring and taking pictures. I enjoyed exploring Bergen. It was walk-able with beautiful colorful streets lined with restaurants, shops and homes.
The next day we were to boarded the ship, which indeed prove to be an adventure of a lifetime. I will write about that soon.
Happy New Year!
I am back in the States. After traveling the last few months, starting in Vietnam and ending in Poland visiting my Mom’s side of the family over the Holidays. The Holidays were lovely, and nice to experience a real Polish Christmas, hosted by my cousins. My Aunt flew in from Chicago and we were all together for Christmas Eve which is the night all the activity happens. Presents are opened dinner is served and wishes are shared for another year.
Coming home to the states this time, from this trip especially has changed me again. I guess it is also the influence of the new year. Solo trips always change or move me to make changes in my life. Traveling by yourself, teaches you a lot about yourself. You are constantly learning more about what you are really capable of. For example, Vietnam is the first country I have ever been really sick away from home. That required hospitalization. That is right folks, I got food poisoning, severe enough to require 2 days in the hospital. Nothing like being in the hospital by yourself in a foreign country to teach you more about yourself. More on that experience in a future post, that I am still working on.
A new year always brings reflection of the past year and goals for the year to come. Last year had many up and downs for me both personally and professionally. Professionally, breaking my camera in Yosemite last year was devastating. It is only a material item but it also became like a fifth appendage. But again, just a bump in the road. Which in the end, is just life. It is how you recover and handle those bumps. Now comes the new year, new challenges and new goals to be met.
What is new with the blog you may ask? As you may have noticed, you have not heard from me in awhile. Wow! Ok a long while. To be honest, I am still trying to figure out where this blog is going. In a world now of thousands of travel bloggers and thousands more signing up everyday. How do you stand apart from the next guy or blogger rather. Well? I’m still trying to figure all that out. In the meantime. I am not going to leave you hanging any longer.
Notes from the Road will continue. You will receive monthly updates on where I am in the world and what is going on it in. These will be more personal stories from the on and off the road, including more from my nursing life too.
Once a month you will also receive either Travel Stories or Foodie meets ….
Lately I have been getting more of where are your favorite places, food, etc. I am going to give you my favorite not to miss from my favorite places as well as some travel tips. Or, we will talk food. You know how much I love to travel to eat, and bring you some of my favorite restaurants. I would love to learn more about the culture of food around the world. Ready to come with me?
Thank you for support and sharing the road with me in 2017. Looking forward to all the new adventures that 2018 will bring. See you Soon.
Notes from the Road
Big changes in my world. Not only did I buy a beautiful new to me RV. My Art is being displayed in one of the local breweries here in Santa Rosa, California.
I’ve been wanting an RV for a few years now. I narrowed it down to a few models but it wasn’t until I went to a local RV shows here in Northern California that I walked in the this model the Forrest River Sunseeker. I walked in sat down on the couch and said “I’m Home!” I could really see myself living in an RV was soon to be a reality. The only thing was I didn’t want a new one. I didn’t want to take that hit or spend that money. See more money on the RV is less money for trips, and I have two big trips coming up at the end of the year. More details on the trips to come.
My camera was repaired, I was without my camera after I returned from Canada. Nikon held onto it for a painful month. I was definitely going through withdraws. During that time I had to renew my passport and felt really helpless. No camera and no passport. But those are first world problems. I move on. Its back and I can’t wait to see how she handles. It's like a brand new camera.
I am also learning new processing software as I am trying to eliminate my extra software and edit only by hand to produce what my eye saw in the field.
Now that brings me to today, where I renewed my acls for another two years for my nursing license and hung my work with a helpful friend at a local brewery Cooperage, in Santa Rosa, California. I’m a big fan of their beer. This brewery is new and a local favorite. Did I mention that they have great beer too. This is the first time I have had this big of an audience for my art. I received good feedback so far and looking forward to hearing what’s to come.
That’s all the updates I have for you now.
See you next time on the road!
It has been a long dream of mine to visit Venice during Carnevale. Not to attend the balls, but to photograph the people and magic of the city. I arrived in Venice on my two month tour through Italy for one week. I was elated upon arrival, late one night in the train station. I jumped up and down even with my heavy bags as I made my way to the hotel for the night. I wanted to be up before sunrise. I was too excited to sleep and slept for a few hours before the crack o dawn alarm went off. I made my way downstairs. Fortunately, my hotel was only a five minute walk from San Marco’s Square. I Hurried to take what I thought were mere landscape photos. I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of people in full costume posing already for photographers. I hurried got into the mix and let me tell you, it was a mix! Photographers were throwing elbows and tripods legs to get their shot. Luckily, there were plenty of people in costumes to go around, and as the morning past more and more people in costumes arrived. The majority of the mornings, it was cloudy, with a light layer of fog and very cool feeling. It did add some pleasing drama to the background.
I had much respect for the people in costume not only were their costumes beautiful and highly detailed, They also full committed to their characters. They worked the camera, and knew how to pose and worked their costume. Many I had seen dressed well before sunrise and then also spotted late into the night, still deep into character.
Photographers, bring your business cards to handout to your models. While I have yet to have anyone contact me yet. I hope they do get to see the how amazing their images are.
Flight of the Angel
Legend has it that many years ago, A Turk walked across the a rope on top of San Marco square. Soon after, someone with angel with wings walked across and it became the flight of the Angel, a tradition at Carnevale in San Marco Square.
A tip: Get there early San Marco Square will soon fill up and feel like a sardine can. Watch your belongings and find a spot to plant you won't be able to move until after the parade and the flight of the Angel.
I have been dreaming for months about this shot. As I traveled numerous times over the Golden Gate Bridge, as I daydreamed about this image. I have often noticed this location where I could line up with the Bridge and get this shot. Next, I waited weeks for the right sunset. I wanted a golden sky with a little bit of clouds to add drama, but no fog to block the bridge or the car trails, although I may have to go back and see what that would look like. Next in post, I applied HDR along with a few car trails layered on each other, with some final dreamy edits. I love how it turned out. What do you think?
Do you want to check out some of my other images from California? Click here.
Off to Canada!
Tomorrow I fly to Canada to see one of my favorite adventure friends. It all started in Turkey in 2014. Six countries and many adventures later, here we are. Its not often you find good people you can travel with you and when you do you hold onto them! I can not wait to see what we get up to.
Can not wait to see you Lori!
Japan has always been high on my list of destinations for years not only because of its photography potential, but also for its food. I love Japanese food. Sushi, Ramen, yes please! The first stop in Japan was Osaka. When My girlfriend and I travel together we are a true foodie pair ordering and sampling for four. I love to travel with her. I know, I will eat well! As soon as we land we typically drop off our bags and run to the local spot we heard or read about and begin our journey there. This time in Japan, another co-worker decided to stop hearing about our adventures and decided to join us. Girls trip for our express tour of Japan.
Next, we have to talk about the Ramen. Oh the Ramen. This might be my over all best dish of Japan. It was delicious far beyond dreams that I knew of Ramen, you know back in the day, with the small square packages. This bowl had thick curly noodles, half a boiled egg, some beautiful pork, or chicken, in a delicious broth.
We also tried dipping Ramen in which the noodles and the broth are in separate bowls and you dip the noodles and enjoy. The broth however is thick more like the peanut dipping sauce. I was not a fan of this type of Ramen. Ordering Ramen is typically done via vending machine.
High on the top of Mt Fuji. They cook their eggs in a special way. They use what they have around. The eggs were cooked in large wire baskets in the hot springs which contain iron and sulfur, that turns the egg black. Don’t worry, inside is the still the same egg you know and love, and it tastes the same too. Legend has it that if you consume one you extend your life by seven years, if you eat two you double that.
Also on that mountain you will find wasabi and black ice cream. We sampled both. The wasabi was surprisingly good, not hot, with just the flavor of wasabi, and the black tasted like vanilla.
Which translates to grill “ as you like it ”. Okonomiyaki is a pancake made with flour and egg, topped with cabbage, protein of choice , and a large variety of condiments. We sat down as a group to watch as they assembled the pancakes in front of us. First was the pancake, followed by the cabbage layer, then onto the protein, mine was bacon, then a flip and onto the condiments.
What were your favorite dishes? Do you need to see more images from Japan? Check them out here.
One of the first thing that comes to my mind when I travel is what am I going to eat? You all know that I love food and it is one of the reasons I love to travel. I love to sample the local fare and see how the locals really eat. I will try almost anything. One of the ideas for this blog will show you some of the delicious options you have in these beautiful destinations. I am always looking on blogs to see what other travelers are eating around the globe. I do not want to miss a delicious dish and I hope you will not either.
While I will bring you amazing images from across the globe on the website, I will also be showing you some of the amazing local food and dishes from around the world in the blog.
Apple Strudel definitely made the list! This is from the Sound of music tour we did while in Salzburg. It's a big bus where they take you around the famous movie scenes while singing the famous songs. One of the last stops by the church where they got married, is this delightful little cafes. It is across the street from the church and on a sunny that warm strudel with vanilla ice cream and a vanilla syrup wasn’t too sweet to the teeth but just enough letting the sweetness of the apples through. NOM NOM!
Is a light a fluffy dessert I found at a local restaurant in Salzburg. As the waitress explained it reminds the locals of the beautiful snow capped mountains in the area.
Here’s a recipe if you want to try it at home.
In Vienna especially, they are know for coffee, knowing me to be a serious coffee lover. I indulged quite a bit tasting their different types of coffee beverages, I still favor a good cappuccino.
Here is a recipe for Viennese coffee
Here are the descriptions of the coffees here
Well it seems from this list so far that I have only consumed dessert and coffee while in Austria. While, I did partake in a few sweet dishes, I also enjoyed some tasty Wiener Snitchels and Goulash, I also sampled yummy Goulash in Germany, Hungary and in Prague.
What is your favorite Austrian Dish? Tell me in the comments below. Or at least share your favorite Strudel recipe.
Do you want to see more images from Austria? Check them out here.
Upon arriving back in the States, I have hit the ground running. I started my new Nursing assignment in California. I also had a ton of editing to do from Italy trip, and to be honest I still a few trips behind in editing. I take my time, sit on the image for a few days return with fresh eyes and then add the final touches.
In addition, one of my best girlfriends, gave me the honor to photograph her wedding. The pictures turned out beautifully. I can’t wait to show you, but I must show the bride first. ;) I meet her next week!
I have a ton of other fun projects I will be working on this summer as well as some exciting new changes to the website. Summer always means more night shots. I absolutely love the night and shooting the stars. I going camping this weekend. The moon is setting early the the Milky Way will be bright in the sky! Get ready for some night shots!
I can not believe how fast time has flown, since I have arrived back from Italy, This new assignment comes to an end here in a few weeks. I just had my last weekend of call. Whoo Hoo! And at the end of an assignment that means a new trip and a new adventure! This next trip is not a new country or a new city. I am visiting a good friend for new adventures. Cheers to the summer!
I love cooking classes. It was an added bonus to my two weeks immersion at Dante Alighieri school in Siena. I love to cook but, I am a stronger baker. I have been baking since I could stand. I am always looking for new tips in the kitchen. I try and take cooking classes both on and off the road. There were four cooking classes included in my Italian immersion package school. I mean, it is Italy, and being Italian, We are all about our food. I was excited and eager to start. In each class we prepared four courses, Antipasto, pasta, main course, and dessert.
Me being the eager student, I always arrive early to class. After I had just finished immersing myself in the beautiful museums all afternoon around Siena with my instructor. More on the school here.
The Chef greets me warmly, upon arrival with a glass of vino. He is still preparing things as the rest of the students filter in. There are eight students in class in varies levels in our Italian immersion. Most are well ahead of me. Each of us don paper apron, we write our names written across the front. The Chef begins by explaining the menu, then demonstrating how we are going to prepare it. The chef, Nando speaks only Italian, but not to worry their is also an instructor from the school to translate if we do not understand. Nando taught the first and the last class. The other cooking class was taught by a local Chef, who reminded me of my mother and cooking with my mother, and I can't remember her name! Ugh! Her mannerisms and the way she cooked, she was the Italian version of my mother. My mother was Polish, but she was an cook and knew how to cook Italian food. It felt like being in the kitchen with my mom again. (My mom died right before my 18th birthday) It was an amazing night to remember, only to forget her name. I will find it!
The first class we made Tagliatelle pasta, a long skinny flat pasta. The other types, we made in class were ravioli, and pici, a small tube shaped pasta local to Siena. We begin by making the dough, a mountain of flour with the center of a marble table Volcano shaped to make a bowl for the water. We crack eggs in the center first, salt lines the flour ring, then water is added to make the dough. Chef making sure each one of us had our turn. Then we let the dough rest, while we move onto the antipasto course. Each class was a different yummy bruschetta except the first class, where we made a savory carrot tart. At this point in class we were broken off to different tasks as we prepare the rest of the dinner. A couple of us finish off the Tarts, Others we tasked with the main course and then dessert. Dessert the first night was a chocolate lava cake, you know the one, where you cut into it and it's still hot and out pours out chocolatey goodness! Yum! The other desserts, were Tiramisu, a staple in Italy, and Silky Chocolate mousse. Onto the main course. First night we stuffed chicken with spinach, second night was pork topped with artichoke and third pork in a pasta dough shell with mushrooms.
As we finished our tasks, we headed to the dinning room and the Chef finished off the details and plated dinner. We sat down as a group to enjoy the fruits of our labor. It was indeed, delicious.
Try an add a cooking class to your travels. You get a more of a local experience into the culture of that country. Not to mention great tips and wonderful memories. I also highly recommend immersion school. I wished I had a few more weeks to take more cooking and language classes. I enjoyed my time in Siena.
You maybe asking yourself why I said four classes and only wrote about three menus is the last class was cancelled due to lack of Chef to teach that night. The school substituted it for another wine tasting to the Chanti region. (one was already included, that blog post coming soon). It was a welcome compromise.
Two weeks of immersion school at Dante Alighieri in Siena is complete, and I can say that my Italian has improved. While I may not be completely fluent, yet. I can hold a light conversation and understand what is being said. That is, if they don’t speak too fast. The classes went by quickly. I had class from 9 am (930 on Mondays, you know, it's hard to get motivated on Monday) till 1 pm. Homework except on Friday. Who wants to do homework on the weekend? Tuesdays and Thursdays, were cultural classes with my instructor. He accompanied me to the museums to discuss Italian culture while speaking only Italian. The first class it was about 50-50 Italian and English, the final outing was all in Italian. Later on that evening, I finished with a 3-course cooking class. I looked forward to the cooking classes. I love cooking. I learning new ways to cook food that I love. I have a another blog post about that coming up soon, as I am still processing the pictures.
It has always been a long dream of mine to be fluent in Italian. I have been studying off and on for years making little process. When I began researching this trip to find my family history and see where my family came from. I found this Immersion school Dante Alighieri. I signed up for two weeks of immersion. The school will place you with a family if you chose or you may find lodging on your own. I opted for staying with a family. As I hoped it would help me even more, and bonus see what Italian life is really all about. The program consists of 20 language courses. 4 cultural classes, 4 cooking classes, one weekend excursion, and a wine tasting. My kind of school.
I arrived in Siena on Saturday, by train and met my host on Sunday. Marcello and his wife Anna greeted me. Marcello is 75 and Anna is 73. They have been married for 47 years, and have lived in this house for most of it raising their 3 kids. They do not speak any English. They started hosting students since their own kids started moving out. It keeps Anna young she says. She enjoys the company. Like true Italian style, They welcomed me into their warm small but beautiful kitchen, hunter green cabinets, long family style table that takes up the most space in the middle of the room. On the kitchen table was a long white table cloth with dough, I initially thought they were making fresh pasta. As there was a pasta press at the end of the table. “Fame?” She says as I enter the kitchen. Always! She places a plate in front of me and places a few Galani on my plate. Galani, she tells me, is a typical dessert for Carnivale. It is fried dough with powdered sugar on top. It is yummy. It reminded me, when I was younger and the family dinners we used to have and cooking with my mother. The sweets or dolce in Italian were just the first course. She made me lunch, and a few hours later dinner which included two more courses not including dessert. Dinner first course was penne with meat sauce. Second course was, sausage, chicken and cauliflower. I had forgotten the second course was coming. And went for seconds on the pasta and now i was really stuffed. I rolled out of her kitchen and into bed hoping to get some sleep, as jet lag is kicking my butt, that is a whole other story. The next morning as my alarm sounds Ana is knocking on my door that breakfast is ready. She again outdoes herself. There is toast. Toast in Italian is ham cheese toasted, Yogurt, cereal and most important she made me coffee! I love her already.
School started at 910. The school is a five minute walk from my hosts. Some students live outside the downtown and have to take the bus. I feel lucky to have both Anna and Marcello and the short distance. Our class is small, only 3 of us in class. One woman is from Washington DC and the other is from Pakistan. It makes it very intimate and you receive one on one attention. The first day we learned how to say where we are from, some nationalities and then we went into vocabulary, at 1:00pm we were off to lunch to return for an new student orientation of the school and downtown Siena.
Do you have any tips on learning a new language? Leave them in the comments below. :)
Do you want to see some more amazing images from my Italy trip? Check them out here.
Ciao, from Siena, Italy! Tomorrow, I meet my hosts for the next two weeks while I attend Italian immersion school here in Siena. I was excited this morning about my progress, I’ve have been studying my butt off, flashcards, watching movies. I was feeling excited. I say excited because, I was understanding about 60-70% of what was said while I was in Florence. I listened to conversations, I tried as much as I could to speak only in Italian. I was feeling good. Earlier this afternoon a lady complimented me on my bag, and I understood every word. That was until I talked with my host, who doesn’t know a word of English, and I could only understand certain words of her sentences. UGH! (Inserted wide-eyed emoji here.) This is going to be interesting. Ah well, Back to the books.
Have you ever wished you could travel the world? I have been seriously dreaming of this for many years. I have always wanted to be a traveler, as a little girl, I told my mom I want to be a flight attendant. She always encouraged me to travel. Then as an adult, I became a nurse. I love being a nurse for the last 15 years. The dream and desire to travel never went away. In fact the desire got worse to the point where I couldn’t ignore it anymore. In these last few years I began traveling to 3-4 countries a year, It helped, but It still has not taken the itch away. I want full time travel. I would love to be “location independent” someday. I ache for to stand in certain cities and partake in its beauty and culture. Traveling the world trying to capture and record the amazing beauty. I am working harder on making this dream come true. I’m giving it the full “college try”. I don’t want to look back and wonder, what if? it is scary? Yes you bet it is! Will I be able to maintain traveling long term? I will not let fear hold me back, anymore.
In less than two weeks I will embark on a an adventure, that will bring me closer to the dream, I will be traveling for the next two months.
The Sun and Ice tour contains 6 countries, 12 cities, a numerous adventures in between. I can barely contain myself! This trip is not solo either, I will be sharing with some amazing friends who love adventure.
The Adventure begins in Lisbon, Portugal. I have been hearing the most amazing things about Lisbon lately. Everyone is in love with that city, from the food, the scenery and the Fado (Portuguese music.) From there we travel through Spain, Then onto London for a week. Another friend joins me for the next length of the journey. We travel to Croatia, and sail down the coast, ending the tour in Dubrovnik. Off to Amsterdam for a few days, before we head off for a week of adventure in Iceland. I have been planning this trip for months. Why so many places you ask? It was a random conversation between friends that combined forces that drove the trip. A good friend and I take a trip every year to a different country for our birthdays, last year we went to Japan to see the Sakura or cherry blossoms. This year we, wanted to go to Spain, We are both foodies. Lets face it, we love to eat. Especially what the locals are eating.
I met another friend, while traveling in Turkey and she called looking for an adventure. We didn’t know where to go so I named off a few places that we floating on the top of the list and absolutely love her for this. She said “Let’s go!” Half the fun is planning the trips, researching looking at photos and history, and of course the food. I’m going to be sharing with you over the next several months, how I plan to accomplish this and all the amazing adventures as we go. I want to take you all with me. Join me on the road. Sign up to receive updates.
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