My Top 20 Favorite Podcasts

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When I moved back to the United States, I realized that I had missed the beginning of a big podcast movement. However, I quickly rectified that situation. At first it was a way to entertain myself during my commute to and from work, and now it is a great distraction during this time of social distancing.

Books:

1. What Should I Read Next by Anne Bogel
2. The Bookstore by Awkwardly Social Media
3. Reading Women by Reading Women
4. Book Riot – The Podcast by Book Riot
5. All the Books! by Book Riot

Comedy:

6. Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend by Team Coco & Earwolf
7. Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! by NPR
8. My Dad Wrote a Porno by My Dad Wrote a Porno

News:

9. Up First by NPR

Self-Help:

10. Happier with Gretchen Rubin by Gretchen Rubin/The Onward Project
11. Productivity Podcast by Tonya Dalton of InkWELL Press
12. By The Book by Stitcher & Jolenta Greenberg, Kristen Meinzer

True Crime:

13. My Favorite Murder by Exactly Right
14. Murder Minute by Murder Minute
15. This Podcast Will Kill You by Exactly Right
16. Jensen and Holes: The Murder Squad by Exactly Right
17. And That’s Why We Drink by And That’s Why We Drink & AudioBoom

Travel:

18. Extra Pack of Peanuts Travel Podcast by Travis Sherry
19. Women Who Travel by Condé Nast Traveler
20. Zero to Travel Podcast by Jason Moore

Do you listen to podcasts? What are your favorite podcasts? Please share the podcasts you listen to in the comments below.

A Day on St. Kitts – January 2019

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St. Kitts was our 5th and final port stop on our Caribbean Cruise. After a pretty chaotic experience on Barbados, we decided to take it easy on St. Kitts. We wanted to just find a beach where we could soak up some sun and breathe in some fresh air, while on solid ground, as we would be sailing nonstop for a few days after this.

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After disembarking from our ship, we found an information desk right inside the port entrance. Everyone was so helpful, and we easily found transportation to Cockleshell Beach. This beach was on the other side of the island, so we had a nice drive around the island. I was pleased to find that the beach had a restaurant attached to it, so we immediately decided to eat and have a few drinks at the Reggae Beach Bar before lounging on the beach. This was our first time eating conch, and we both agreed that conch is not for us, but we are happy we tried it.

After we finished eating, we took our bucket of beers and went to go claim some loungers on the beach. The beach staff was super helpful and got us hooked up with an umbrella. We would relax here for most of the afternoon, and it was glorious. Secretly, we may regret not taking advantage of the jet skis and having some water fun. There is always next time.

This may not have been the most exciting part of our vacation, but it was a nice and relaxing way to end it. Plus, the beach and water was beautiful!

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Until next trip….HAPPY TRAVELS!!!

 

Hometown Adventure-Milwaukee-July 2019

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There is nothing like being a tourist in the city that you grew up in! My parents still live in Milwaukee and actually embraced our Milwaukee adventures during my short visit with my husband.

DAY ONE:

Summer is my favorite time to visit Milwaukee, and it is not just because I am soooo overMilwaukee_Summerfest_logo snow, but I love all the outdoor festivals, especially Summerfest – the largest outdoor music festival in the world. While I did not have an opportunity to attend Summerfest on the lakefront this year, I did manage to head to the lakefront for Milwaukee’s 3rd of July Fireworks. This has been a tradition in my family for years. Some families even camp out on the lake for days prior to the fireworks. We always head down in the afternoon with our cooler full of food/drinks, blankets/chairs, and games/books, where we will have a few hours to enjoy some fresh air and family time. We had an interesting experience this year, where we had perfect weather until about an hour before the fireworks when a wall of fog moved in. After a few test fireworks, we all realized we couldn’t see anything, so we packed up and started to walk to the car. We were actually on higher ground when the fireworks started, and we managed to see them afterall.

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DAY TWO:

My dad took my husband and I to the Milwaukee Public Market in the Third Ward. This is a great place to meet friends for food or drinks. There is free Wi-Fi and plenty of seating options. Sticking with my objective to be a tourist, we spent a majority of our market time at the cheese stand, but we also visited the spice stand and had to buy a 4th of July decorated treat.

From the Public Market, my husband and I walked along the Milwaukee River. We were blessed with perfect weather – see the picture at the top of this post. As we got near the theater district, we had to stop and say “Aaayy” to Henry Winkler’s Happy Days statue. At this point we opted to take a mini lunch break on the riverside patio of the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery.

20190801_091013Then we met my parents at the Lakefront Brewery for a brewery tour. Definitely, try their appetizers. We enjoyed their pretzels and fried cheese curds so much. The tour and beer were outstanding. This is a must visit!

We decided to keep with the brewery theme and had dinner at the Water Street Brewery. This is a great place for a social dinner.

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DAY THREE:

20190801_090439We traveled around a lot more. I didn’t get to experience the new public transit called The Hop, but I saw it. We walked around the20190801_091301 Historic Third Ward again, where you will see a lot of boutique stores, art galleries, and even a speakeasy or two. I love the fact that Milwaukee now has bike rental stands, but I especially enjoyed that the rental bikes are called Bublr. You will understand why that is humorous if you are from Wisconsin. After learning a bit more about the history of the Third Ward district in Milwaukee, we saw another 20190704_194521historic landmark – Trinity Lutheran Church.

Trinity Lutheran Church has been around since 1878. My grandmother actually got married there. Unfortunately, less than one year before the horrific fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Trinity Lutheran Church also caught fire and had extensive damage, but at least it still stands, and I hope that they can repair the damage.

My parents then indulged my love of books and took me to an independent bookstore in Milwaukee called Boswell Books. It is large with perfect spaces to lounge with a good book. Actually it would be a great place to host a book club too.

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Down the street from the bookstore, we had a nice dinner. One beer I always like to have when I visit Wisconsin is Spotted Cow from New Glarius. It is one of my favorites. Even my mom ordered that, so that is a good recommendation right there.

No dinner is complete without the best Wisconsin dessert – frozen custard. While Kopps is a favorite custard stand in Milwaukee, and I enjoy them as well, my family has been going to Gillies Frozen Custard stand for years. I can’t visit Milwaukee without going there at least once. They have added a lot more outdoor seating too.

SIDE EXCURSION:

While there is still so many things to do in Milwaukee, my parents and I decided to take a20190731_151550 trip up north to visit some family. Some times it is nice to explore rural Wisconsin for a bit. We visited a small town just outside of Oshkosh, which is not just known for its kids clothing brand – OshKosh B’Gosh – but is also home to the EAA Aviation Center. The yearly airshow, which brings people from all over the country, was just this last weekend. Just outside of Oshkosh is the dairy farm my dad grew up on. It still has its beautiful red barn.

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There is something to be said for going back to the city you grew up in and just being a tourist. When you live in a place, you often don’t experience all it has to offer. For example, I love books and have for years, and yet I don’t think I ever stopped by one of Milwaukee’s largest independent bookstores. It’s nice to be able to go back and truly appreciate where you grew up. I hope to go back soon and experience a whole new list of what Milwaukee has to offer, and, of course, try some more beer…

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St. Lucia – January 2019

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What better way to start the new year than by spending a day having adventures around sunny St. Lucia. St. Lucia was the third port on our Princess Cruise in the Caribbean.

While it may be scary to book an excursion outside of your cruise line (for fear that the excursion won’t get you back to your port in time for departure), we are so glad we did, as it was the best time of our trip! We managed to do just a little research before leaving for the Caribbean and found a wonderful excursion option suggested by Excursion Everywhere. This excursion was hosted by Cosol Tours and was an adventurous way to see so much of St. Lucia in a day. We were given clear instructions on a meeting point near where our ship docked. Here we met up with our guide, Cassius. He was fantastic! Here are some highlights from our day:

Banana Plantation: Cassius gave a tutorial on the production of bananas on St. Lucia, which is the second highest source of income for the island. Here we also got to try banana ketchup, banana bbq, and banana spiced rum.

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Fishing Village of Anse La Raye (see picture on the right)

Brunch: Multiple tables full of local cuisine

Overlook of the Twin Pitons (see picture at top of page)

Sugar Beach: We gook a water taxi to a beach located between the Twin Pitons, where we had plenty of time to relax on the beach, swim and snorkel.

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Soufriere Volcano & Sulphur Spring Park: We drove into the volcano, the world’s only drive-in volcano, and then took a mud bath in the hot 20190112_211452springs. (see picture on the far right)

Toraille Waterfall: We of course did not get all the mud off from the hot springs, but a quick soak under a rapid waterfall helped with that problem. (see picture on the right)

Another meal: We worked up quite an appetite after all those wonderful water activities. We were fed delicious bread and cheese and enjoyed some local beer.

They certainly filled our day with lots of adventures and got us back to our ship with plenty of time to wander around the port a bit, though to be honest, we were pretty exhausted. It was the best $75 per person we spent on this trip!

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A Day in Antigua – December 2018

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Our second port on our Caribbean cruise brought us to Antigua. We again did not have a plan of what to do or see in Antigua. I guess you could just say that we were winging this trip. Luckily after disembarking from the cruise ship, one of the first buildings on the main street was an information office. We stopped in there to try to see if we could arrange a zip-lining excursion, but we were unable to get others to join, which would have made the excursion affordable, so we opted to take the free self-guided walking tour of St. John’s that was included in the map that they gave us.

Here are some of the highlights of that self-guided walk:20181231_113858

  • St. John’s Cathedral – a focal point of St. John’s landscape was originally built in 1681 but destroyed twice by earthquakes. The current structure, built in 1848, is located on a hill overlooking much of the city.
  • The Government House – official office of the Governor General, a position created after Antigua and Barbuda became independent in November of 1981.20181231_105616
  • The Antigua Recreation Grounds – hosts premier football, international cricket matches and the annual Carnival festival.20190204_105630

We had worked up an appetite from the walk around the city and stopped at the Antigua Habour Cafe and Restaurant that overlooks the harbor for a relaxing lunch and tasty fruity drinks. After lunch, we found a cab just one block over. We wanted to visit one of the forts on the island and maybe go to a beach. The cab driver recommended Fort20181231_160614 James, which turned out to be right next to Fort James beach. We got two great options and only had to spend $25 (solely for the roundtrip cab ride), plus the cab driver waited for us and took us back to the ship when we were done. We walked around the fort for about 45 minutes, enjoyed the beautiful and secluded beach and then decided to have a beer at Beachlimerz, which is a high-rated bar and restaurant. Overall, it was a very affordable and convenient excursion.

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However, our day wasn’t without a little stress and excitement. We are going to share our little embarrassing story just as an example that even if you travel frequently like we do, you can still make mistakes. After paying and exiting our taxi, we started walking over to an outdoor market, when my husband realized that he didn’t have our backpack. We had either left it in the cab or at restaurant. While we had our money and identification on our bodies, we still didn’t want to lose the items we had in our bag. Unfortunately, our cab had driven away. We remembered what our cab looked like and who our driver was and, by nothing short of a miracle, found she hadn’t driven very far due to the busy traffic on the main road. Our bag was not in the cab, and she agreed to take us back to Beachlimerz to see if we left it there. She was super nice about it and chatted with us during the ride, which eased our stress a bit. Luckily, the bag was still sitting where we left it at the bar.

We met a lot of nice people that day, but our cab driver was the best! It is her kindness, generosity and selflessness that I will remember most from our time in Antigua.

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A Day on St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands – December 2018

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We took a Caribbean cruise that left from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We disembarked at our first port, which was St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. After two days on the ship, we were very ready to be on solid ground.

We docked right outside Havensight Mall, which is a great location to do a little shopping. We did not have an excursion planned and really did not need one. St. Thomas was very easy to navigate. Plus, there was an Information office right next to Havensight Mall, which provided free maps and free wifi.

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20190115_142911Since it was a beautiful morning and the skies were clear, we decided to take the Skyride to Paradise Point for some amazing panoramic views before going to the beach. The skyride lift does cost $21 per person, but it is worth it for the views, and there is a restaurant at the top where you can stop and get some food and/or drinks. Their specialty drink is the Bailey’s Bushwacker.

After having some lunch at Paradise Point, we descended back to Havensight Mall to pick up a taxi to take us to Magen’s Bay beach. There are convenient taxi signs everywhere. The key to taking a taxi in most places in the Caribbean is that it costs less the more people you have riding with you. We were fortunate to be in a taxi with 8 other people, so we only paid $4 per person for the ride to Magen’s Bay. I believe we only paid $10 per person roundtrip. The beach was wonderful. However, it is a popular tourist destination, so it was a bit crowded. You can rent loungers and umbrellas. We did end up renting an umbrella. We then spent hours relaxing on the beach, reading and occasionally going for a swim. We even had drinks brought to us. It was all perfectly relaxing.

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IMG_20181230_112841_610We made it back to the port with plenty of time to grab food before getting back on the ship. While there was free food awaiting us on the ship, we felt that it is always more important to invest in businesses and restaurants on the islands and indulge in local cuisine, especially on the US Virgin Islands, which were devastated by a series of hurricanes in 2017. Some businesses have still not reopened. If you are an avid golfer, USVI is known for its golf courses – many of which were completely destroyed as well. St. Thomas was a beautiful island that warrants a visit. Although, I warn you: you may never want to leave.

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Princess Cruise Experience 2018-2019

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My husband and I decided to spend the holiday season after Christmas through New Years (December 27-January 6th) in the Caribbean. We’ve been on a few cruises before. Our most recent cruise was in the Mediterranean (see post 20 Years of Travel #13: Mediterranean Cruise). When searching for which cruise line to take, many people recommended going on a Princess cruise. As we did with our Mediterranean cruise, we booked a Princess cruise through Vacations To Go, which was super easy and efficient (shout out to Ernie for assisting us).

On first appearance, we were really impressed with the Crown Princess ship. It was far20181227_162837 larger than any ship we had been on before. I was still having to consult the ship map to navigate my way on the final day. Our room was spacious with a balcony. The Crown Princess had so many wonderful features, including many pools and hot tubs, multiple dining options and bars, a spa, fitness center, library (with books and games), a casino, entertainment venues and an outdoor movie theater. I am sure there were other wonderful features that I am not mentioning as well. As we wandered around the ship that first day, it all seemed like it was the beginning of a dream vacation.

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But how do you know if the cruise or cruise line is bad or if cruising is just not for you? Please, if you have been on multiple cruises I would love your input on this, because my husband and I are seriously starting to believe that cruising is not for us, and maybe it isn’t.

I’m sure we have all heard some horror stories regarding cruises, like the most recent cruise in the Caribbean, where hundreds of passengers got sick with a contagious virus.20190102_195542 Our cruise was not that bad, but it wasn’t the dream I had been hoping it would be. We did have some good moments. We enjoyed the company of the people we sat next to at dinner; got to see some movies we had been wanting to see (see picture on the right); got plenty of sun and fresh air while relaxing on one of the many deck chairs; was thankful for the housekeeping staff who were amazing and always kept our room clean and comfortable; appreciated the helpfulness of the guest service individuals; drank the best cappuccini at the International Cafe every morning (see picture below); and enjoyed every island visit that was made on this cruise.

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The cruise didn’t start off so well for me and many other passengers. We were in rough seas for two days. We actually could not get to our first port because of that, so I spent two miserable days on a ship that was rocking back and forth constantly. I had never suffered from seasickness before and the Dramamine I had with me did absolutely nothing for me. However, one of our kind dinner friends gave me a Bonine tablet, and that worked miracles. Wish I had taken that right away, so I wouldn’t have been suffering for two full days. Missing our first port made it that much harder to overcome seasickness too. A lot of passengers were complaining about not just the rockiness of the ship but also the fact that all the pools had to close because of that as well. I can only imagine how many angry or miserable passengers the guest service attendants had to deal with, and the cruise had just begun.

When we considered the fact that we paid 3x as much to cruise with Princess as we did when we cruised with Costa in the Mediterranean, I’m not sure it was worth it. The drink package was expensive but worth it in the end, but the food was just not great. They had a cafeteria-style restaurant that was open all day long. We tried to eat there a few times, but it was just horrible food – most of it was inedible. Our sit down dinner time every night had great food, but the service was so slow all the time that we couldn’t enjoy some of the evening shows, because we would still be finishing our meals. We often snuck out during the meal to get ourselves more wine, as the wait staff took forever to refill some of our drinks. On top of the food not being great, I had two separate occasions where food service workers argued with me that what they gave me was correct when it wasn’t. The thought it was a bit too ridiculous when I ordered a slice of Margherita pizza, and they gave me plain cheese pizza, even though the sign in front of the counter gave all the ingredients that are suppose to come on a Margherita pizza. It sounds like we are being overly picky, but it was just disappointing. So yeah…we weren’t happy with the quality of the food or food service.

During our Mediterranean cruise, we booked two excursions through the cruise line and enjoyed both. This time, we booked an excursion on our own through a company on one of the islands and one excursion through the cruise line. They were both around $70 a person, and the one we booked through the cruise line was just terrible in comparison. When we got on the ship, we signed up to take a beach/snorkeling adventure in Barbados. Basically, it was a 3 hour excursion that was suppose to include relaxing on a beach, snorkeling with sea turtles and snorkeling to see some shipwrecks. I figured that divided nicely to spending 1 hour doing each item. The excursion started off nice. The beach was beautiful. However, the boat that was to pick us up to take us snorkeling was more than 30 minutes late and then decided not to dock by the beach we were on, so we had to walk a mile through town to find the boat. In the end, we probably only had about 30 minutes total time of snorkeling, which was really disappointing. Then they docked the boat literally on the beach, not at a pier, so the waves made it near to impossible to not fall as you tried to get off the boat. One passenger fell pretty badly. It was not a great excursion. It was maybe worth half of what we paid for it. Luckily, Princess agreed and refunded some of our money, so I do believe they handled that situation well, but I may not book an excursion through a cruise line ever again.

The incident that bothered me the most on this cruise was when we got a notification in20190208_082909 our room that they would be doing balcony maintenance the following morning (see photo of the notice on the right). The notice clearly states that maintenance would start at 9am. We thought that would be a perfect morning for us to order 8am room service breakfast, insuring that we would be awake and out of our room by 9am. Our breakfast arrived on time and by 8:15am, my husband and I were in our robes on our private balcony enjoying our coffee and breakfast. That was also when a maintenance worker came onto our balcony without any warning. He actually opened the door right into my husband, as the balcony was pretty small. I personally was mortified as I was far from clothed, sitting there in my 20181231_083141robe. We booked the room we did for the private balcony and now our privacy was being invaded with no warning. When we told him to leave that it wasn’t 9am yet, the maintenance worker responded that they were starting early. I know he was just doing what he was told, but that didn’t make the situation okay. I am sure it was awkward for him as well. I immediately called down to guest services and was told that someone would call us later in the day, as the manager was not available at that time. No one ever called. Through our persistence, we did finally talk to a guest service manager, who offered us a bottle of wine for our troubles. Seriously?!! We purchased the drink package. What do we need a bottle of wine for? However, what could we do? That seems to be all they were offering us. They told us we could pick any bottle of wine we wanted, and since we had both been enjoying Chianti with our dinners, we requested that. They said that that was not something they had available but would bring us a Cabernet instead. Cabernet is not the same as Chianti, and that was not a wine that we both enjoy.

There seems to be so many people who love Princess Cruise Lines, but we just don’t understand. We didn’t have most of these issues on our Costa cruise (though that was far from a perfect cruise as well). While we did love exploring the Caribbean islands and soaking in some sun and warmth, I think it will be a long time before we cruise again.

If you have been on cruise, especially a Princess Cruise, please share your experiences below in the comments. Have you experienced similar issues or other issues?

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Happy Holidays: A Year in Review 2018

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As the holiday season is in full swing, and we are getting ready to go on vacation, we wanted to put together a note to let all our friends and family know what we have been up to in 2018.

We continue to build and grow our lives in Houston. It has been a bit of a struggle to grow accustomed to life back in the States after living in Italy for a few years, but we feel that we are finally adjusting.

Earlier this year, Sarah left her position at a local public library to become a Grants Administrator at MD Anderson Cancer Research Center. After nine months at this position, she is thriving and really enjoying her work. MD Anderson has been named the top cancer hospital in the United States and, as of this year, can also boast of having a Nobel laureate as one of the faculty members. The work that MD Anderson does is very important in caring for patients with cancer and researching a cure for all cancer. This summer, Sarah realized first hand how important this work is, as her aunt passed away from lymphoma cancer.

Aunt JoAnn meant a lot to us. We have been fortunate enough to have spent quality time with her in Arizona, Texas and when she visited us in Italy. We shared many wonderful moments and laughs with her. We admired her love of life, family and friends. We love her and miss her every day.

Greg had a lot of traveling this year to exciting locations like Paris France (see pictures below) over the summer (the absolute best time to get out of the Houston heat) and Sao Paolo Brazil, as well as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington DC.  He also had a trip to Cincinnati, so not all of the travel is to somewhere exotic.  Fall 2018 was his first semester teaching undergraduates, and he had 130 students in an intro to physics course.  It went well overall, and every week was able to get a laugh during class (which means the students were awake).  The reviews aren’t back yet, but the students probably learned something!  He’s been doing research with two really good students on neuroscience and the physics of the cytoskeleton as well.

While Greg did travel a lot for work this year, we didn’t travel collectively for fun that much, mostly because of Sarah’s new job. We did visit Greg’s brother and sister-in-law in Ohio for a weekend, but that was our only real travel adventure this year. As we are big adventurers, we had to rectify this, so after spending time with Sarah’s family on Christmas, we will be heading on a Caribbean cruise. We are looking forward to island-exploring, basking in sun, and lots of rest and relaxation.

I hope you all have an enjoyable holiday season! Feel free to drop us a line below to let us know how you are doing. We love you all!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

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Weekend in Columbus, OH – October 2018

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I have not had a lot of adventures this year, but I was fortunate to visit some family for a weekend getaway in Columbus, OH this Fall. We were blessed with some sun and warmish temperatures. Also, the trees were turning colors, which added to the beauty.

As a booklover, I had to visit a local independent bookstore called The Book Loft in the German Village. The charm of the outside is matched by the extensive collection in the inside. If you are looking for something specific, I would highly recommend picking up a map at the front register – yep…that is how big it is!

If you have amazing weather like we did, I would recommend a nice walk along the Scioto River (see picture at the top of the page). The Scioto Mile was developed just a few years ago with beautiful walking paths lined with trees and flowers. If you want to take a break from your walk along the river, you can stop in the COSI – Columbus’ Center of Science and Industry museum.


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Ohio is rich with Native American history. If you find yourself in Dublin, Ohio, make a stop at the Leatherlips Monument (pictured on the right). Leatherlips was a Wyandot Native American leader that was executed in the early 1800s.

There are so many great places to eat and have a few drinks in the Columbus area. A great place to get a drink and have some fun with friends is the Pins Mechanical Co. There are three locations in the Columbus area. Here you have a lot of drink choices, including a20181018_102740 large selection of draft beers, while you play a round of duck pin bowling or some pinball or other fun bar games. Some of the places we ate include Valter’s at the Maennerchor (German restaurant in the German village), which serves a nice weekend brunch, and Cap City Fine Diner, which is a wonderful diner with fantastic food and service. If you are from the Midwest or have a love of frozen custard like I do, you must stop and have some frozen custard at Whit’s Frozen Custard (see picture on the right). So amazing!

I am very fortunate to have family in Columbus now. It is a fun town with lots to do and lots of places to eat. If you are there and confused by the sea of red and white, Columbus is most well known as the home of the Buckeyes of THE Ohio State University. Don’t forget that Columbus is also the capital of Ohio (see picture of the capital building below). If you have any suggestions of things to do or places to eat in or around Columbus, feel free to let me know via the comment section below, as we hope to go back for another visit there soon.

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20 Years of Travel #20: Washington, DC

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Over the summer I began a series called my 20 Years of Travel. As 2018 comes to an end, I am concluding the series with my home away from home – Washington, DC. This place means so much to my husband and I. Washington, DC (and its surrounding areas) is where my husband earned his PhD; where I got my first professional job; where we made lifelong friends; and where we met and fell in love. Since this place means so much to me, it is hard to sum up all the wonderful things to do and see in one blog post, but I’m going to do my best.

SIGHTS/MUSEUMS/MONUMENTS:

  • Capitol Building (pictured above)
  • Library of Congress
  • National Mall
  • White House
  • Smithsonian Museumsmy favorites include The Air and Space Museum and the American History Museum
  • Some Other Museums not included in the Smithsonian –
    • National Art Gallery
    • Archives
    • Holocaust Museum
    • Spy Museum
    • Newseum (my personal favorite)
  • Monuments (not listing all of them – just ones near National Mall & a couple in Virginia)- highly recommend doing a nighttime tour
    • Washington Monument
    • Jefferson Memorial
    • Vietnam Memorial
    • Korean Memorial
    • WWII Memorial
    • Lincoln Memorial (pictured below)
    • Roosevelt Memorial (my personal favorite)
    • Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (pictured below)
    • Arlington Cemetery
    • Iwo Jima Memorial (I like this area because it is elevated with great views of the National Mall area.)

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES: (see additional items under “DAY TRIPS” below)

  • Parks
    • Rock Creek Park
    • National Arboretum
    • Great Falls Park
  • Potomac River
    • Ferry boats
    • Sailing
    • Kayaking
    • Paddleboarding

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DC SPORTS TEAMS:

  • Baseball: Washington Nationals – Nationals Park
  • Basketball: Washington Wizards (men) & Washington Mystics (women) – Verizon Center
  • Football: Washington Redskins – FedEX Field
  • Hockey: Washington Capitals – Verizon Center
  • Soccer: DC United (men) – Audi Field & Washington Spirit (women) – Maryland SoccerPlex

FAMOUS HOTELS:

  • The Willard InterContinental Hotel – famously known as being the location where Abraham Lincoln, prior to his inauguration, hid due to assassination threats, and where Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his “I Had a Dream” speech. For booklovers like me, many famous authors have stayed here like Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, and many others.
  • Mayflower Hotel – known for hosting many political events throughout history and also known for some infamous sex scandals.

THEATERS:

  • Ford Theater – Well-known as the theater President Lincoln was attending when he was assassinated.
  • Performance Theaters
    • Kennedy Center
    • Warner Theater
    • National Theater
  • Music Venues
    • Jammin Java (Virginia)
    • Black Cat (DC)
    • Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (Virginia)
    • 930 Club (DC)
    • Wolf Trap (Virginia)

BOOKSTORES: 

  • KramerbooksSecond Story books
  • Politics & Prose – opened a new location on the Wharf that is wonderful
  • Busboys & Poets
  • Capitol Hill Books (my favorite – love getting lost in this bookstore)
  • Second Story Books

Food: (these are just a few of my favorite and notable places)

  • Ben’s Chili Bowl268472_10150246351517986_7747990_n
  • Old Ebbit Grill
  • Dukem Restaurant (Ethiopian)
  • Elephant & Castle (British) – I feel I have to include this one because I waited tables at the Pennsylvania Avenue location before landing a salary job in DC.
  • The Inn at Little Washington – just received DC’s first 3-star Michelin rating. (For full article, click here.)

BREWERIES:

  • Capitol City Brewing Company (DC)
  • DC Brau Brewing (DC)
  • Heaving Seas Alehouse (Arlington, VA)
  • Old Dominion (Hyattsville, MD)

CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL:

A gift from the Japanese in 1912, 3,000 cherry blossom trees line the Potomac River near the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial. Every spring thousands, if not millions, of people come to view the cherry blossoms in bloom. While the cherry blossom trees only bloom for about 1-2 weeks, there is a month-long Cherry Blossom Festival during this time that includes parades, fireworks, music and many more events. You can find out about this festival and get a more accurate bloom timeline on the Cherry Blossom Festival homepage.

DAY TRIPS:

  • Mount Vernon (VA) – this was President Washington’s estate.
  • Monticello (VA) – this was President Jefferson’s home. I highly recommend a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to get there from DC (pictured below)
  • Ocean City (MD) – my favorite ocean spot getaway
  • Harper’s Ferry (WV) – where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, and where John Brown led a raid to end slavery prior to the American Civil War
  • Antietam Battlefield (MD) – very interesting Civil War battlefield for American history buffs

Some other great suggestions for day trips can be found at Pink Caddy Travelogue’s post Best Day Trips from DC.

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I hope you have enjoyed a look at my 20 favorite travel spots in the 20 Years of Travel series. If you want to see the complete list, please visit my Travel page. Hopefully the next 20 years will be just as exciting, as I explore more of the world!

HAPPY TRAVELS!!!