Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

I consider myself both a veteran and inveterate traveler. There are certain travel rituals that I practice that enable me to hop on a plane with little or no notice without having to think about what to pack. All I do, in advance and courtesy of a spreadsheet is combine “mix ‘n match” pieces of clothing that can cover climates from Dublin to Durban. However, there are five essentials that don’t necessarily fit neat and tidy onto a spreadsheet. I keep these in a medium-sized mesh travel bag always at the ready that is, pre-packed in my suitcase.

1. Protein bars are essential, especially if you’re crossing time zones. A protein bar can hold you over between meals, and if you wake up hungry in the middle of the night, it saves you money and calories. Avoid mini-bar madness.

2. A Pashmina shawl works in any season. It’s a perfect extra layer of clothing if you’re traveling to colder climates in winter or air-conditioned restaurants, movies, museums or shopping centers in summer.

3. A Shower Cap comes in handy especially if there are none immediately available, and calling down to reception while you’re wrapped in a towel is not an option. More and more hotels make you request amenities, so having your own saves time and aggravation.

4. Wacoal Hope on a Hanger biker shorts feel good on you and smooth out all of the wobbly bits. They’re perfect if you’re traveling light as you can wash them up in the sink at night and by morning they are ready to go again.

5. A white cotton blouse, with a bit of elastin and princess seams, looks great over dress pants or jeans and can be laundered easily in a hotel. When you send it to the laundry, be sure and call it a man’s shirt and not a blouse because it will save you money.

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/scanrall

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Thank you.

I am grateful to two fellow bloggers who have nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award – and it’s not just about the recognition and exposure for The Chronicles, although that’s a huge part of it. It’s about more than that. It’s about helping me define exactly what my blog is. In other words, I no longer have an identity crisis; I have a category, and that category has a name: Versatile Blogger.

Several months ago, as I wrote and rewrote the description for my Facebook fan page, the best I could come up with was a kitchen sink kind of blog. I was a little slow on the uptake because the word versatile more than covers what I do, and in a much more elegant way.

One of my nominators, Jacqui Murray − WordDreams − and I met nearly a year ago when WordPress featured one of her posts on “Freshly Pressed.” We entered into a cyber-conversation that continues to this day. Jacqui is now my go-to person for all things writing / publishing. If she doesn’t know it, she knows someone who does.

My other nominator is Divya Srikanth, (aka Dee Shrek) − of Literally Challenged – who is from Chennai, India and writes with a very wicked wit.  I suspect that if she ever wanted to swap writing for stand up she’d pack the house.

My thanks to these two very talented bloggers for nominating me. I’m honored. Their blogs are well worth checking out.

There’s more to this award than this cool graphic. I’m also supposed to share seven things about myself and pass along this award to 15 blogs I’ve discovered. So here goes:

Seven Secrets 

  1. I’ve always wanted to own a steel mill.
  2. I cry when I hear the “American National Anthem” and France’s “La Marseillaise.” I think it’s because I actually pay attention to the words when I hear them. People at sporting events must think I’m crazy.
  3. If I didn’t sell color, and couldn’t own a steel mill, I’d be a private investigator.
  4. My favorite food is donuts, the sickly sweet kind filled with frosting inside and out.
  5. I’ve memorized all of the lines in Casablanca.
  6. I want to take a freighter cruise around the world.
  7. I hate shopping.

Twelve Terrific Blogs 

Okay I’m a wee bit short of 15 but I promise you’ll love the one’s I’ve listed here.  In addition to Jacqui and Divya’s blogs I also follow these fabulous blogs.

Arlene’s New Beginnings – Observations on Life, People and the Universe.  Arlene is a gifted writer, artist and photographer with a great sense of personal style.

Savvy Savings Bytes – If you want to really love NYC on a shoestring then this is a must read.

Gal About the Globe – This blog is the perfect travel companion.  It covers lots of ground from global happenings, fashion, and profiles of successful up-and-coming Gals about the Globe. And you don’t even need a passport! Pay it a visit.

Three Great Tango blogs – Since I’ve been too busy writing to dance lately but my spirit dances to the beat of these blogs.

Passionate about prose? Then visit Nissi’s blog Plantain Periodicals. 

Get Inspired at Clicking50.  Sonia’s blog is a visual feast. See the world through her eyes it will give you a fresh perspective.

If you want to nourish the poet in your soul, read Carolyn Donnell’s blog Deeper Colors. 

Under the writer’s category and a second time winner is Nicole Basaraba’s Uni-Verse-City. You’ll love this forum for words on writing.

Meet Gracie, the magnifi-cat of the Tiniest Tiger.  She’s a celebri-cat and is passionate about saving her cousins in Africa through the Conservation Cub Club. You gotta love her!

Okay fellow bloggers now it’s your turn to pass it on.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about old sayings –you know – the ones we use to help us make decisions.

For example, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

I used to think that made sense until experience proved me wrong. It’s always better to keep both hands open.

Not too long ago I had a lovely golden bird in the hand. I was so happy and pleased that this golden bird chose to alight in my garden and stay awhile that I became oblivious to all of the other beautiful birds visiting my garden that summer.

One day the golden bird and I had plans to rendezvous at a little love nest in the south of France. I decided to take a day for myself in Paris prior to joining him in Nice. I stayed in the very posh neighborhood, at the lovely L’ Hôtel de Banville in the 17ieme. It was a beautiful summer’s day and I decided to take le Métro to the Les Tuileries and walk in the gardens.

The closest Métro stop was Porte de Champerret  in a well-to-do treed residential area  with small shops and restaurants. Thinking and smiling to myself about my upcoming tryst, I happened to glance up and catch the eye of a very attractive Frenchman.

He wasn’t too tall – I’d say about 5’10 – and dressed: very French in his summer slacks, form-fitting white Lacoste shirt, and a cardinal red sweater tossed carelessly over his shoulders, the sleeves looped in front of his chest. His eyes were the color of cornflowers.

He rested comfortably against the hood of a high-end performance sports car, his Gucci-clad feet crossed at his tanned ankles. He was talking on his cell phone.

He returned a smile that wasn’t intended for him. That caught me by surprise, and I smiled back. I guess you could say we had a “moment”. But what to do about it? I was not going to start a conversation with a total stranger, especially since I already had a man waiting for me. I didn’t need another devastatingly handsome, and charming (all Frenchmen are charming) European man.

And so I walked straight into le Métro and headed for the platform. Somehow I knew he would follow me. Sure enough, when I got to the platform and turned around, I saw him walking toward me, like he had every intention taking the Métro that morning. I walked farther down the platform curious to see if he’d get in the same car. I momentarily lost sight of him when the train pulled up. I walked into the car carrying my guidebook and, there he was, he came in right after me. He sat across from me and made eye contact, looking for some sign of encouragement from me. I smiled but I was determined to play it cool. If he was that interested, and he looked like he was, it was up to him to approach me. I was done doing the modern girl thing. Plus I was in France; I was determined to play the coquette – short of batting my lashes.

We continued to exchange meaningful glances all the way through the next stop but nothing happened. We rolled into a third stop and exchanged fleeting eye contact. I knew I should proffer something more than passing glances, but the golden bird was waiting for me so I was more than willing to let this one get away. Unless of course he came up with an introduction, a beau geste, that would make my heart skip a beat.

The fourth stop came and he rose to leave. Dejected, he glanced back over his shoulder as the doors closed and I shrugged as if to say, “It was your move, why didn’t you make it?” With a hint of unexplainable sadness, I waved goodbye.

A day later I was in Nice basking in the Mediterranean sunshine with the golden bird, and a month after that he flew the coop without so much as an email or tweet goodbye.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had only been a bit more receptive to the mysterious French stranger. If I had given up the bird in the hand, or what I thought was a sure thing, for the potential of two in the bush. Had I made a cardinal mistake? I guess I’ll never know. He will forever remain the one that got away.

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/Johnny Greig


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Travel is in the cards for me this year

The year got off to slow start but I will be making up for it in spades this spring – starting with a trip to Las Vegas.  Look for posts from Amsterdam to  Zealand and points in between – coming soon.

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/tonyoquias

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Laissez le bon temps rouler!Coming soon posts from New Orleans to Tokyo and a few places in between.

PS if any one knows of any good places to dance  Salsa or Tango in either of these cities, I would love to hear from you!

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/kiskamedia

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Ideal 017Dancing for me has been a real lifesaver lately.  It’s always been the perfect prescription for a broken heart.  Last year, Salsa could have saved me from feeling sorry for myself  and embarking on a long-term relationship with Ben and Jerry. But it didn’t;  it wasn’t enough to get me through my most  recent  relationship derailment.  Salsa is such a joyful dance but I was too sad to even attempt it.

When it comes to dwelling in sadness, Tango is just the thing.  The music, the lyrics, the longing: it was exactly what I needed.  During my week in BsAs, the sad strains of tango pulled me back from a trail of tears. I channeled all of my regrets and melancholy on to the dance floor.

My friends like to tease me about my passion for dancing. Like everything else in my life (including my love life) it’s an all-or-nothing deal.  “Soon,” they say, “we’ll be seeing you on Dancing with the Stars.”  Ha! If they only knew…

I am not a natural dancer.  I come by lots of other things naturally (languages, diplomacy and falling for the wrong men), but when God was giving out grace and coordination I must have been the last in line.  Whatever little talent dust was leftover in the cosmic gift bag and was sprinkled on me never made it past my neck.

So I have to work for every step.  And work I do.  When it comes to mastering a skill that is just slightly beyond me, the one thing that saves me is my stubbornness.  It’s an “I’ll Show You” attitude that allows me to shrug at my missteps, laugh at myself and try again and again and again.

Take, for example, my morning technique classes.  I practiced walking for five days.  How hard could it be, right?  You would think walking is an easy thing since we do it every day.  But let me tell you, it is not.  Walking in Tango requires deliberation, precision and balance, and I was as wobbly as a newborn colt.  After my first class I felt a bit dejected at not being able to master such a simple task.

Later that day, my first Tango dance lesson was only slightly better.  Since I was in Latin America, I was doing my best to channel that superstar of song, that mistress of movement, that diva of dance Shakira, but to no avail.  She’s right,  “hips don’t lie,” and mine were a dead give away.  Trying to master the contradictory movements of keeping your upper torso still while moving only your hips is nothing short of impossible – at least for me.

I was dreading my first milonga that evening at Nino Bien.  But since I had nowhere to go but up, I surprised both myself and my practice partners on the dance floor.  Every day the steps got a little easier as I became more confident.  By the end of the week and my last  Milonga at Confiteria Ideal (photo), I was dancing steps I never thought possible: the elegant walz, the fast paced milonga and, yes, even a little salsa.

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