Striking Gold


Our family recently discovered a hidden gem while on vacation in Spain. When we were planning our trip, our oldest daughter discovered a little known city called Merida, between Fatima, Portugal, and Seville. Though it is one of the oldest cities in Spain, it has been only in recent years that Merida has become a destination for tourists. A small, quiet town in southwest Spain, it is the site of several Roman ruins including a coliseum and amphitheater. Like much of Spain, the city comes alive at night when locals and visitors as young as three years of age can be seen playing in the streets and watching futbol in the outdoor bars into the wee hours of the night. Read more

Finding The Way

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Several times in the past month, El Camino de Santiago has come up in conversation among my friends.  For those who are unfamiliar with it, El Camino is a pilgrimage route in Spain.  The Way of Saint James is a series of routes, predominantly taken on foot, along the Pyrenees and Asturias Mountains (though one can also take a route from Seville) leading to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the burial place of St. James the Apostle.  Every year, tens of thousands of pilgrims walk El Camino.  A few years ago, Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez brought El Camino to the big Screen in the movie, The Way.  Ever since I first heard about it and subsequently saw the movie, I have wanted to walk it.  Read more

The Family that Travels Together…

Explore. dream, discoverVacation planning time is upon us.  Tis the season when families are cementing their summer plans and dreaming about visiting exotic locales.  Growing up, our vacations always consisted of borrowing a friend’s condo at the beach for a week or traveling with my father on business to places like Dover, New Hampshire or Long Island, New York.  We didn’t go far, but we always had fun.  I’ll never forget the time we stayed at a motel outside of Williamsburg.  I still remember thinking that it had to be the grandest hotel in the world with its strawberry shaped pool and vending machines right in our hallway.  In my mind, it was truly a magical vacation that included stops in Colonial Williamsburg and the now extinct pottery factory, a must-see place for all travelers at the time. Read more

Strangers in a Strange Land

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Our Group of Pilgrims

It was early when we gathered, strangers in a strange land, having flown through the night and disembarked bleary-eyed, yet ready for adventure. A few people spoke; many smiled and nodded in acknowledgement. We shared a purpose, the same excitement and expectations, but were strangers nonetheless. With suitcases in hand, we boarded our assigned buses, most of us now having met three or four others. What would this week bring? How would we get along? How would this land of Moses change us? Read more

Unbound

DSC05175Standing in the Academia Museum in Florence, Italy, in all his glory, is Michelangelo’s David.  Said to be the perfect depiction of the human body, this sculpture is visited by approximately 3 million people each year.  But just around the corner from the statue of the perfect body stand Michelangelo’s non-finito sculptures, the Slaves.  For many years, it was thought that these four pieces of marble were simply unfinished works, but many scholars now believe that the great master purposely left them the way they are to portray man’s struggle to break free of his bondage – perhaps his own internal or perceived shortcomings. Read more

A Whale of a Tale

DSC06345If I were to ask you, or most people, what your favorite animal is, I’m sure you, or most, would answer “cat,” dog,” or other similar such creature.  My children have always thought me a bit strange because I have a great love for (they would call it an obsession with) elephants, sharks, and whales.  Since I was a small child, I have always been fascinated by these three majestic creatures.  When I was very little, I had a small collection of whales – glass figurines, stuffed animals, and such.  As a teenager and young adult, I had quite an extensive collection of elephants – everything from clothes to glass and wooden figures to unique collectibles from around the world (gifts from friends and family).  For Christmas a few years ago, my husband gave me a shark dive in Australia.  It was the most amazing experience ever! Read more

Fine Wine

This afternoon, my husband, his sister, and I had the chance to visit a vineyard. What an amazing place with many, many years of operational history. Out of all of the steps taken to produce the number one wine in the country, the step that amazed me the most was the very first one. In order to ensure that every single grape is absolutely perfect, the vitner hand picks only the perfect grapes from the vine. All of the grapes are used in what he termed “every day wine,” but the award winning wine is made only from these hand picked grapes. What love and care must go into that process! Imagine spending the hottest days of the entire year, the first days of August, outside in the blazing sun, painstakingly choosing only the very best grapes – not too heavy with juice, perfectly colored, and without blemish. Read more

On the Road Again

DSC00380Have you ever taken a long road trip with your family?  Movies and television shows always portray these trips as the absolute worst kind of torture a family can inflict upon itself.  Sure, everyone can get irritated with other, and someone always falls asleep and wakes up cranky, but there’s a lot to be said for spending time together in a small space with nobody to talk to but each other. Read more