Posts Tagged ‘trip report’

I want a new tradition which is to go to sleep in a new place for my birthday. I have been time to time in other places but it was never really a tradition it just happened to work out way. I decided my tradition would start with Charleston.

Charleston you sure are PRETTY!  Shockingly pretty actually.  Houses are so big you can never get the whole photo with your camera.  Block after block, street after street some just take your breath away!

Here is a brief account of my thoroughly enjoyable stay and inexpensive digs that fit the bill perfectly.

I am a budget traveler so if it isn’t cheap, I can’t go so with that I do my research which led me here.  Since I traveled to Charleston for my birthday I decided on a private room as a treat instead of my usual dorm.  I was on the 2nd floor, the Dylan room and the front porch was just outside my window.  Perfect morning coffee spot!  (bring your own if you are up before breakfast being served)

Charleston has free buses and free trolleys.  There is also a $3 dollar bus from the airport to the Visitor’s Center in town.  From there I jumped on the free 213 bus and made by way to NotSoHostel and was dropped off a couple of blocks away.  I used free buses and Uber whichever worked out better during my stay.  Charleston has some very good public transportation as well as a horse & buggy to get you through town.  (poo poo bag attached to horse)  This explains why the streets are pretty clean even on the horse routes.

I went on two outstanding walking tours with “Free Tours by Foot.”  I had used them on a recent trip to New Orleans.  Scott was my guide both tours and he is outstanding, has a passion for history and a love of Charleston that shines brightly.  (and a witty sense of humor)   I did the Historical Walking tour as well as the Civil War.  Did you know that many of the brick houses standing today still have the fingerprint indention’s of the slaves who made the bricks by hand?  I put my fingers right where their fingers were and it was a haunting feeling to say the least.   Charleston had two types of slavery.  There is the gang system (brutal and used throughout slave states) and there is also task slavery considered a bit less brutal.  After a task was completed, the slaves’ time was their own.  This was usually reserved for low country rice plantations.

SCIWAY states:

It has been suggested that the task system allowed far more freedom to the slave. To some degree this is true – tasking could be better than unrelenting gang labor. There was time to tend a garden and raise crops for either home use or sale. But life was never easy. Sam Polite, a freed slave explained what slavery was like.

Every slave have task to do, sometime one task, sometime two, and sometime three. You have for work till task through. When cotton done make, you have other task. Have to cut cord of marsh grass maybe. Task of marsh been eight feet long and four feet high. Then, sometime you have to roll cord of mud in cowpen. Woman have to rake leaf from wood into cowpen …. If slave don’t do task, they get licking with lash on naked back.

Another freed slave, Prince Smith, explained that on Wadmalaw Island

There was three kinds of day’s work on the plantation. One is the whole task, meaning a whole hand, or a person in his prime. He was given two task for his day’s work. A task carried from twenty-four to twenty-five rows, which was thirty-five feet long and twenty-five feet wide. The three-fourth hand was given one whole task, which consists of twelve rows. All the young chillun was included in this group. Us half-hand was the old slaves who did a half task for their day’s work. When it was time to pick cotton, the three-fourth hand had to pick thirty pound and the half-hand twenty for their day’s work. Those who attended to the gin only include the three-fourth hand.

So sad…. I can’t wrap my mind around it but one thing Scott the tour guide said that rings so very true, you need to see and enjoy all the beauty of Charleston but the flip side of  this place in history needs to be addressed and thought about as well, I agree.

There are many many stately homes & plantations you can visit here.  With such a short trip, I was only able to visit one house.  The Nathaniel Russell House.  Here is a bit of information on the stately home.  It was GORGEOUS inside and also had beautiful gardens that you are free to roam.  Next time, I am coming with a book, finding a bench and having a good read pretending I live here.   In the fall, I will be coming for a week.  I found so much more that needs to be explored and I intend on doing just that with the added benefit that instead of 100 degrees it might be 70!  Lord did I sweat, let me count the ways!

Remember Bubba from Forrest Gump?

Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.

Said in the voice of Jaqen H’ghar, “Does a girl eat shrimp”?

(for you Game of Thrones people)

She does….

Every church I passed by that had graveyards, I would duck into explore for a bit and   Charleston had many old hauntingly beautiful ones.  There are many ghost walks in Charleston and some of them are through these cemeteries.  I didn’t see or feel any but I  did announce to anyone listening, you go about your business and I’ll go about mine.  🙂


I walked miles and miles, ate everything , met loads of nice people, road in a horse & buggy  and learned lots of new things.   What more could a girl want?   Well one thing, 80 degrees or less.  That could be very good.

Charleston Strong

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My visit was after the memorials held to honor the victims .  Here is a link to the Charleston Strong tribute.

Random photos from my trip

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OH and btw being a Maryland girl I consider myself to be a crab con·nois·seur !  We are crab fanatics!  The She-Crab soup was GREAT!  Next time, I plan to explore all things crab as well.  *I might bring my own can of Old Bay*  We shall see.

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Useful links:   Nathaniel Russell House   Free Tours by Foot    NotSo Hostel

It’s an older place but who cares that just brings on the ole Southern charm!




My favorite months in Italy are May & September.  If you have an opportunity to visit any other month of year, I recommend you seize the moment.  The moment for me came in November.  My agenda was to revisit Rome and an overnight trip to Assisi.  I only had eight nights.  That’s rather short for me.  I generally always stay two weeks in Europe.  I decide eight will have to do and I shall be utterly grateful for them all.

I have visited a lot of the usual tourist attractions so for this trip, I decided let’s try to visit some places off the radar plus whatever I happen to stumble upon while roaming.  I did not think this fellow would be one of them.  We gazed at each other a long long time.  Love at first sight.


My Buddy


Let’s see what is going on in Rome & Assisi



this was on my old blog….needs to be on my new one 🙂  Leaving snowy Maryland while I’m California dreaming 🙂

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that’s me in there ready to land

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ewww ewww and more ewww

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We love castles, we love tiara’s, we love villages with old warm charm, cold beer, wine, music, vineyards and adventures. Germany was going to fit the bill nicely for us girls. We like grumpy people who we make smile. We like happy people who already smile. We got lost, we got found, we danced and were sung to by older German men. We were scolded. (mild infraction regarding touching something on display) We rode boats, horse carriages, cable cars, buses, trains and we made friends. We ate & drank everything! We had one flasher but that’s for later. Now a lot of that above is really a reminder list of what I need to write about for this report. Germany gave it all to us and more. First stop – Rudesheim My first tip – pronounced Ru des hime , at first we thought it was like “shine.” This part of the trip includes three Maryland girls (me, Kelly & Vivian) Ellen from New York and Kathleen from Ireland. We moved around far more than usual on this vacation because there was a lot we wanted to and accomplish. At times it was grueling but I’d do it over again.

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Day One –  after the long plane ride and a train here it was a matter of find the hotel, eat and rest. Day Two – GREAT DAY ! We start our Rudesheim exploration with the Ring & Romantic ticket.  This gets you a chairlift to the Germania monument, cable car to Assmannshausen town and a riverboat tour.  If that’s not enough there is a bonus, a deer sanctuary plus you get to feed them!  Oh and did I tell you the chairlift goes over vineyards?  It does!  Coolest thing ever! You want to get over jetlag? You get this ticket! Scenes from the day: oh and Ellen laid an egg and Kelly had to run with an omelette !!!



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Funniest thing ever is when that egg fell out of Ellen’s bag at the restaurant.  I’m going to stick to the story that she laid it though right in that town we nicknamed Assman.  We did indeed run with Kelly’s omelette!  The food came too late at another place and the boat was pulling up and we had to “Runnnnn Forest” with the omelette.  It was delicious.   When I go back to Rudesheim I am going to do this ticket again.  The photos speak for themselves. Our evening leads to merriment! (more…)

Unfortunately, I did not get the time to write a proper trip report on Greece but instead did a travel video that I think captures the essence of Greece and our wonderful trip.

Delos is magic and has incredible history !   What a place, I am so glad that we made that a priority to visit.  At the little refreshment stand we meet a fellow who lives there.  I told him you are so lucky.  He said to me thank you really for that because my family says, “WHAT ARE YOU CRAZY STAYING THERE”?  there’s nothing around”?   He told us that’s why I love it so much and offers us to see some of his photos.  I said, “sure,”  and he brings me his camera and proceeds to show us some of the most incredible sunsets and photos of Delos that I have ever seen.

He gets a call that a group has lost their 80 year-old grandfather so he zooms off  in this tiny white truck to find him.  He says just keep the camera and when you’re done looking just give it to one of them inside.  It was getting close to the last boat leaving Delos and before you knew it he was back.  The elderly gentleman had taken an earlier boat.  Kelly and I say our goodbyes because we didn’t want to miss our boat and off we go walking while he waves.  On the walk, we come to a dead-end.  Ummm this isn’t it we realize.   In the next moment, the fellow comes around the bend in a tiny white truck with the dust blowing.  He yells, “says get in the back,”   The next thing you know we are speeding along the paths of Delos  being bounced laughing our butts off drunk from happiness.  Who would have thought we would be roaming around Delos like this?

He took us to the boat and stayed till we left.  Than he took the truck along the island following us waving till he was a tiny white dot left in Delos.  What a nice guy!  That’s Greek hospitality.

our wild ride:

This is a video I made for my trip to Sicily.   I am very happy with the results!


I can tell you it has outstanding scenery, a town that’s not too big, friendly folks, musical folks, very close to stunning countryside, pubs, a sense of humor, green green fields, coastlines that no movie will ever do justice and rainbows.  Than there is the animals a plenty a favorite of mine and well it’s got rain.  Not a worry though because in about an hour you’ll see the sun, once you have that awhile the rain must get lonely and decides to come back.  The sun gets lonely too and decides to push the rain right back out to sea.  This tug of war between the two pretty much sums up each day.    While they work that deal out you must go about your day and experience all the gifts Ireland is going to bestow on you.  You won’t be disappointed I promise.

I feel like the way we organized our trip worked out perfect for me.  We booked Connemare & Cong with Galway bus tours.  We booked Celtic Compass Tours with Walt and Faherty tour for the Aran Islands.  I still got time to wander thru Galway on foot and tried to walk the promenade to Salt Hill but the wind wasn’t seeing it that way for me.  It kept blowing me back to town.  My umbrella broke in more ways than I thought possible so I attempted it again by bus.  That worked.

The musical people of Ireland are one of a kind.  I hope they never lose this talent.  Their sense of humor has its own brand of excellence as well.  A life without laughter is not really a life and the Irish get this.  I for one got my taste of it in the book Angela’s ashes which remains my favorite book of all time to this day.  Frank McCourt I will always love you.

Okay so back to Ireland and the animals.  I love how you ride down the roads and the sheep are deciding to cross or maybe not cross at all?    They may just decide to camp out till the driver yells out “come on Nelly, you’ve got to move over love.”   Walt took us to places with the animals.  He just would stop the car, we’d hop out and over a stone fence and would visit them.  Now I am afraid of the animal teeth.  The driver for Galway said watch the teeth and that stayed in my mind for every animal visit.   The donkeys were a delight too until I saw one get happy which truthfully I never saw anything like that in my life and ran to the van.  LOL   Oh my gosh and that’s all I have to say about that!

When you read or see photos about the natural beauty of Ireland that’s not tourist lure.  It’s 100 times better than you could have imagined.  Seeings believing so you seriously have to go for yourself and experience this.

I didn’t get to kiss the blarney stone for luck and the gift of gab but I did get to smooch an Irish man a couple of times for luck so I hope it’s still with me.  If not, I’ll go back and smooch another to get more!  joking……

Another benefit we had was the oyster festival so we sampled oysters that were to die for, excellent!    I love the names of pubs and restaurants in Ireland.   I could honestly take a trip and just photograph the names.    I bought a ring which I still wear today and was very surprised while just in Spain smoking at a stinky airport lounge when a fellow asks me if I’m Irish.  No, why did you think that I asked?   He said because of your ring.

My advise to you is to wear waterproof clothes.  On my day at the Aran Islands while on our way up to the ancient fort Ireland threw everything it had at us.  Raindrops as big as me, hail, wind and a path that turned into a river but no worry it gave us a dog too!   This dog barked hello and led us all the way up to the top!  He was funny he’d run ahead, stop look back, bark at us come on girls, than run ahead again.  He and Sandra made me nervous at the cliff’s edge, apparently she and the dog are not scared of heights.

Like I told you regarding the weather battles by the time we got back to the van the sky was turning blue, the sun was out but I was soaked thru and thru.  I thought I had waterproof boots on which did not turn out to be the case.  I did dress in layers and I can tell you every single layer was soaked.  This happened early on so I stayed a prune for the rest of the journey but that’s my fault.   I had to peel myself  like an apple later back at the hotel and I jumped in the bed and rolled myself up in the covers like a cocoon and swore I would never leave them again.  Never.

Promises are made to be broken and I did leave for dinner and music later because sadly our trip was coming to an end.  It was a wonderful journey thru London, Chester, Liverpool, Dublin & Galway.   The next time it will be all Ireland not combined with another country.  I didn’t realize how much more there is to see and experience.    As you can imagine, there’s still a lot on my list.    They say Irish eyes are smiling but I can honestly say so are American ones when I think of the memories of our trip to Ireland.

July 2012


On Saturday morning, Megabus is our best friend to New York. Arriving on time, we head to our friend Ellen’s house to spend one night.  The next day we are moving to a hotel I wanted Kelly to check out.  Kelly goes home Monday, me on Tuesday.  This trip is going to be short but sweet.

The plan is to train to New Jersey later in the evening.  Another friend (Barb) will pick us up from a station there and take us to the State Theater in New Brunswick. We are going to the Glen Burtnik & Friends/The Music of Paul McCartney show. Not that we don’t love Glen Burtnik but the draw for us is Reagan Richards who’s going to sing at this show as well. (on my blog I have videos posted of her) I love her music videos and voice so I was thrilled when Barb suggested let’s go see Reagan.  Maxine our other friend who lives outside of NY city is coming into town as well and will see the show with us.

The Show

The show was excellent and a wonderful trip down memory lane! Reagan’s persona and voice is even better live on a stage. She’s a force to be reckoned with, so watch out! Her time in the sun is coming! It’s all we can do not to hop up and dance in the aisles but we sit on our hands. Kinda! What I liked about the show was that Glen Burtnic showcased so many musicians and singers. Some known, some not, it was all wonderful to me. We all really enjoyed this show. I have to tell you one funny thing or thought. As I looked around the theater, I see quite a bit of older couples, 70ish and I think wow that’s strange them all coming out to this show– than it dawns on me in the next thought,– well of course they would, Paul McCartney will always look like a boy to me but he’s not, he’s 70! These are his mates, his era, his people.

Ding dong I say to myself.

Headed back on a train to New York, we can’t keep our eyes open. Is that bed going to feel good tonight?  Today has been about planes, trains, automobiles and fantastic music.

Oh btw, we didn’t get sleep the night before leaving because the Olympic opening was on plus I had taped a show about the Frick museum I wanted my friend Kelly to see since that was on our New York agenda.  We had an early bus but all in all I think we did alright.

New York Highlights:

  • I’m in love with a market. Agata & Valentina, go see for yourself
  • The Frick museum. I give thanks to this man for opening his home and sharing his treasure. The painting of Sir Thomas More is my favorite. Fascinating man in his own right till Henry the VIII had him executed. Sharing the same wall with him. Thomas Cromwell a man I’m not fond of in history. He was whacked too later. What comes around goes around. I think the painting makes him look like a squinty eyed weasel. Fair depiction I say. (see the Tudors if you like your history with some fine actors, drama and dresses to die for) On Sundays at the Frick , it’s pay what you want till 1 p.m.
  • Having a Corona viewing the New York skyline just when the lights are starting to twinkle on
  • Katz deli and I’ll have what he’s having. This is restaurant where Meg Ryan did her bit mimicking the throes of fake passion and the lady says, “I’ll have what she’s having” I was dying to say it to the waitress. Oh you cannot do that, it’s so damn corny I thought. A man gets served at a table in front of me. It’s probably the most beautiful Reuben I’ve ever seen. Waitress comes to our table next, are you ready to order? “Yes,” I say and “what is that sandwich he has?” Is it a Reuben? Yes she answers, BEAMING I say, I’ll have what he’s having! It was my crowning moment. LOLLLLLLL
  • The tenement museum. It’s a little pricey because you pay per tour. Since we’re going to Ireland we picked the Irish tour. It was very good. I don’t think I would have wanted to be an immigrant in the 1800’s. It’s a very hard life. The generations that came later ought to thank their lucky stars that these people persevered and give thanks.

Heard in New York in a NY accent.  (always a treat)

  • while asking a bus driver what bus I needed he shouts out with enthusiasm “there go your bus” pointing down the street.”
  • In Chinatown, a lady is impatient waiting to get into the backroom for the fake goods. She’s been waiting 20 minutes. She leaves goes into the next shop where we were too! She tells the heavily NY accented shopkeeper that’s she’s miffed she stood over there 20 minutes waiting for her turn. His reply “whadaya think you’re a princess? Should get right in?
  • Construction workers with steel or iron bar looking things. Big guy shouts out to the others down the street a bit as me and Kelly are approaching, DOUBLE BABES COMING YOUR WAY! The others who have been alerted all kind of nod their heads when we get to them saying how u doin? have a nice day ladies?  Kelly and I were so proud we were called double babes. At our age, it was our Miss America moment walking across the stage!
  • A bum asking us if we were having trouble outside Penn station with another bum who was mad we wouldn’t give him a cigarette.  He says, he gives you trouble let me know, this is my block!
  • A well-dressed guy pleading for money to get a ticket for the train.  I have $2 dollars which he shows me in his hand, he  only needs $5 more.  The sucker that I am gives him $5.  A Chinese man comes up to me after and says he’s a liar he does this stint every day.  Walks off miffed.
  • A lady cussing us all out in a subway car in another language.

Saw in NY

  • On the subway, a guy dressed like a woman, do let me describe…………..Flaring short black skirt, black fish net stocking on one leg, a hairy manly leg on the other, heels, black hat, glasses, sexy top holding a beautiful broccoli salad.  Apparently he’s dressed for a garden party.
  • The Imagine mosaic  while having a hotdog breakfast at Strawberry Fields.  Two girls approach, cute girls, one wearing short shorts, she proceeds to sit on the mosaic legs spread from here to Ethiopia, right above the word Imagine.   Onlookers are  British tourists, (couples) eyes are big as saucers trying not to laugh.  “Imagine” one says, “I don’t have to imagine anything we’ve seen it all”  and we did.
  • Celebrity Jon Cryer walking down the street (Two and a half Men)

Things that fill you with such pride, make your heart hurt and tears well in your eyes.

Hallowed ground the 9/11 memorial

I applied online to receive a ticket for the memorial.  You cannot attend without one.  Each person visits with their own feelings and emotions so this is just from my own personal perspective.    This memorial is not complete but is open to visitors.

For me, if the memorial was only the North and South Pool with the names it could be enough.  The cascading waterfalls stir a feeling of peace in me.  The names stir a feeling of sadness.  These names are people just like you and me.  Innocent people.  The sound of the construction equipment stirs a feeling of pride and of spirit.  We are going to be stronger than before, we are America. The Freedom Tower is going to be 1776 feet and the tallest building in the US. Bigger and better and I feel tremendously proud of this.  There are more plans for the memorial which will include a museum, 400 trees will be planted, a Memorial Glade for gatherings and ceremonies and a train station.  It’s going to be a beautiful place to honor the victims of terrorism.  Bring sunglasses you are going to need them.

I love NY!

very emotional dance

Of course always being a Three Dog Night fan, I probably decided when I was little that Spain would be on the horizon.  It took me till the year 2012 to make that happen but hey better late than never.

for your listening pleasure, the song I mention:

This trip included Madrid, Segovia and Toledo.  It started with four days in London, a flight to Spain and later a flight back to London in time for some Diamond Jubilee celebrations before heading home to the good ol’ US of A.

Flight over not too bad, about 24 hours before the flight I was armed and dangerous at the computer for check-in for my beloved seat with LEG ROOM J16, well a girl from Egypt beat me to it because I got K16 right next to her, my friend Kelly’s usual seat but hey no screaming baby.  I love babies….I don’t like babies during flights unless they are sleeping.  Sorry.

The plan is Chris my friend from the UK is picking me up from Heathrow.  I warned her look for Godzilla because I can’t sleep on planes.  I worked 10-1/2 hours the day of the flight than flew all night arriving 9:30 a.m. looking just like Godzilla as promised but alas she found me!

Two days in South End Sea….

The people:  Sir Winston Churchill & Anne Boleyn

Once picked up by Chris and her family, we all head to the South End where she lives.  It feels weird driving on the wrong side.  Is it the wrong side?  I’d like a list of who’s driving where now.

Jet lag heavy we plan nothing really but relaxing for Day One and dinner by the pier for dinner, longest pleasure pier I might add.   Out back we sit catching up; laughing having wine and I get my first “spotted dick”.  Candy bar that is……it’s a famous dessert in the UK, kind of clever with the name wouldn’t you say?

Did I tell you London was boiling?  I joked some two weeks before leaving.  London put away those umbrellas; get out that sunscreen the sun is going to shine everyday because I’m coming.  That was a joke of course but you check the weather reports and you will find I was right!  So we sit out in the fantastic sunshine and enjoy the heat.

In a while, I’m down for the count and have a nap but not too much.   Me, Chris, Stuart, Janet & Paul head to the Fisherman’s Wharf.  I like it a lot.  Those who know me can imagine my sheer delight on finding Corona on the menu.  Me and Stuart, Chris’s son had two!  This place would make a true Marylander’s heart jump, seafood is all over the menu and some things are done in a new way like Chris’s shrimp and guacamole, two things I never would dream of merging but darn it was good.   I had fish and chips.  I ordered the small and wow it came out big!  (the place)

So with a lovely dinner, cold beer, GREAT company and a view I end day number one.  Thank you Chris, Stuart, Janet & Paul.

Tomorrow I’m visiting Mr. Winston Churchill, well not really him but as close as I can get and that’s his home in Chartwell.  After that, Anne Boleyn and her childhood home, kind of creepy knowing what happened to her.

What’s not to love about Winston Churchill?  That cigar….  J

Next morning:

We rise early and I am refreshed.  Chris’s sister & hubby are driving us to Chartwell.  This is the home of Winston Churchill till his death.  I admire this man; he was a symbol of courage, a good author, decent painter and stood up to Hitler.  With that alone I’m hooked on the man.   That I get to step foot in his home, an absolute honour.

It’s an easy ride there and I am enjoying reading some of the road signs.  US and UK to me are so much alike but at the same time so very different, signs being one of them.  My personal favorites:

Emergency Escape Lane (who are we escaping from, a monster, aliens?)

No hard shoulder for 150 yards (aren’t all shoulders on the road hard, will we sink?)  Later I saw “soft shoulders”?  Maybe we will sink?

 ! Caution Wild Animals (what kind? Lions and tigers and bears oh my?)

Chris thinks maybe badgers.