Testaccio…is it a neighborhood, a culinary treasure, or both?

Back in 2013, Glenn and I wandered into the La Taverna di San Giuseppe osteria in Siena, and we’ve been haunted by potatoes ever since. 

And no, there weren’t any vampires present…

As we wandered our way across Tuscany in 2013 and 2015, we were drawn to the odd assortment of fantastic wrought iron torch holders that were scattered on buildings throughout the region. 

In the month of October, 2015 we enjoyed our second stay at a lovely boutique hotel in Florence, the “Antica Torre di via Tornabuoni No. 1”. Yes, it’s a long name. But stick around and get to know this place and its history, and you’ll find that it’s worth the effort to remember all of those syllables. 

We embarked on our sixth journey in Cloud Nine over the weekend, feeling like pros, but we met a family who taught us a thing or two about wandering.

One of the things that Glenn and I love so much about Rome is the unique blend of the ancient and the everyday that permeates the city. Walking its streets, one can accidentally bump into fascinating bits of antiquity on practically every corner. For us Americans, whose ancient history is less noticeable, this is pretty irresistible. For Card Carrying History Nerds (really, I have one), this is the equivalent of Christmas Morning every… Read More

January 2015

I had been looking forward to this particular day on the itinerary for quite a while. There were going to be three really interesting sites packed into one day: Qumran, En Gedi, and Masada.

We were embarking on the 5th day of our trip, but I felt like I’d already seen a month’s worth of sites. The days were jam-packed with touring and learning, and they were flying by at lightning speed. By this time I’d begun to bond with some of my fellow travelers; these were folks who went to my church back home, but that I didn’t know at all before this trip. When… Read More

After our tour of Jerash, we ate lunch at a restaurant that had two things: an incredible buffet, and amazing pita bread. I had to chuckle as I watched the bread being made using an ancient time-honored process – by a guy on his cell phone 🙂

We got up on the morning of Friday, February 21st, and prepared to enter the country of Jordan, Israel’s neighbor to the east. I felt a sense of sadness as I caught my last glimpse of the Sea of Galilee from the bus window; it was so beautiful there, and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be back again.

After leaving the very thought provoking site of Caesarea Philippi, we were going to visit a Druze village and get a bite to eat for lunch. I had never heard of the Druze people before, and was interested to learn about them.

We left the Tel Dan Nature Reserve sometime in the mid-morning and headed about 4 miles to the east, to the area that was known in the first century as Caesarea Philippi.

Thursday, February 20th would prove to be perhaps one of the most interesting days thus far in my entire life.

(Wednesday, February 19, 2014, continued)  After leaving the Tabgha region and the Church of the Loaves and Fishes, we drove the short distance to the remains of the village of Capernaum. I was really excited to see Capernaum, because while the other sites we had seen on this day were “probable locations”, there was no arguing with the fact that Jesus had lived and taught at this actual site, and it was… Read More

We spent the next few days based in the city of Tiberias, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Tiberias was established in approximately 20 AD, by Herod Antipas (son of Herod the Great)

I fell asleep somewhere over the Hudson River, and woke up somewhere over Turkey. Opening the airplane window shade to let in the bright sunlight, I looked out and saw a rather fierce landscape below.

Saturday, October 12th, was to be our last day of fun in Italy. The next morning we were scheduled to make our way to Milan, where we would catch our flight back to the states. We were sad to see our trip coming to an end, but determined to enjoy our last day to the fullest. The day was mostly sunny and crisp, and we could see from looking out over our… Read More

When we went to bed the night before, a fierce storm was on its way, with crazy gusts of wind and rain. Although the rain had started just after dinner, it hit full force sometime in the middle of the night, with a howling wind that I hadn’t heard the likes of since Hurricane Ike, back in Texas. The next morning though (Friday, October 11th), was an absolutely gorgeous day to be… Read More

On the morning of day twelve, Thursday, October 10th, we said fond farewells to our beautiful room in Siena, and set out for our longest drive in Italy yet. We were embarking on the very last leg of our journey, the roughly three hour drive from Siena to the Cinque Terre region, on Italy’s northwest coastline, known as the Italian Riviera.

We woke up on day 11, Wednesday, October 9th – our last day in Tuscany – ready to attempt another drive in our rental car, this time to the south. We were feeling adventurous, and had the towns of Pienza and Montepulciano in our sights.

We were beginning to understand that being in Italy in October meant that we were going to encounter at least little bit of rain every day, usually in the afternoons. This was fine with us, since we were coming from Texas, which at that time had literally been through almost a decade of serious draught conditions. Rain can be a beautiful thing.

Day nine, Monday, October 7th, started innocently enough. But you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men…

We left San Gimignano around 4:00 pm, and headed for Siena.

We fell in love with the variety of doors that we saw in Tuscany. So many different shapes, sizes and colors. I always wondered what was on the other side…

After the downpour we had on day seven, I was a bit apprehensive at the start of day eight, Sunday, October 6th. But I needn’t have worried; the morning was crisp and cloudy, but the rain clouds were moving to the north.

Our plan for our final day in Florence, Saturday, October 5th, was to do more walking. I was interested in maybe touring the Basilica of Santa Croce, to the east, and then the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, to the west, and then if we had time, walk through the Boboli Gardens south of the Arno.

On Friday, October 4th, we had a mid-morning appointment with David. Or I should probably say “THE” David, as in Michelangelo’s statue of the shepherd king. We woke up in plenty of time for breakfast at our hotel, which consisted of a really nice rooftop buffet. The seating was indoors, but they had large windows with views over the city. It was a great way to start the day.

As our train pulled into Santa Maria Novella railway station, we craned our necks to get our first glimpse of Firenze. There really wasn’t much to see, other than the graffiti covered walls of the station. We grabbed our bags and disembarked. We were approached by a few kind souls who offered to help us for a small fee, but by this point we felt like train experts, and breezed through the… Read More

Day five dawned clear and beautiful, with literally not a cloud in the sky. We woke up eager and ready to start the next leg of our journey. Next stop – Florence, via the high speed train from Rome, first class. We had a Segway tour of the city planned for 2:00 pm, and we were really looking forward to it.

I won’t lie, I was a little cranky on the morning of Day Four.  The thing is, we stayed up a little too late on Day Three. We were hanging out at Da Claudia, and one glass of wine turned into four…and, well, you know how it is.

Tuesday, October 1st dawned a bit too soon for me. I’ll admit it, we had a little too much wine the night before, and it was very difficult to get up early. But we had no choice; today we had to be at the Vatican at 9:00 AM for a three hour tour. (Why are they always “three” hours?)

We had covered a lot of ground in one day (Tuesday, September 30), 2013, but we didn’t come to Rome to sit around. 

We shook our wet shoes off, and left the small cafe where we’d waited out the rain and had some lunch. Our next stop was the church known as “San Pietro in Vincoli”, or “St. Peter in Chains”. I was interested in this site for two reasons. It was home to the relic chains that the faithful believe had bound Peter when he was held prisoner in Jerusalem, and it was also… Read More

We woke up very early on Monday, September 30th, which dawned with a clear blue sky, and had time for a quick breakfast at our hotel. All of the hotels that we stayed at in Italy had a wonderful breakfast buffet. Some of the more common items were Italian bread, mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes, and of course coffee. Eating in Italy was never a problem…

The flight over the Atlantic (leaving from Newark) was mostly uneventful, other than some pretty severe turbulence at one point during the evening. I’ve never been on a flight before where my sparkling mineral water (my drink of choice when I fly) threatened to slosh out of its little plastic cup, but on this flight it was very nearly a big mess. I was tens and little bit scared, but the flight… Read More

Well, I must be honest. I believe that on Day 10, Thursday, June 12th, 2008, I left a wee bit of my soul on the Island of Skye.

Wednesday, June 11th was devoted to exploring the beautiful island of Skye.

Anyone who has made it to Day 8 on this particular blog will realize by now that I am a certified History Nut. (Really, I have a card in my wallet, and everything.) Touring Scotland and walking in the footsteps of legends – how can words describe what that meant to me? Each day brought with it the chance to retrace the adventures of the past, and to fall into the magical… Read More

On Tuesday morning,  June 10th,  we checked out of the Bunchrew House and said our farewells to Peter, our faithful bartender and butler.  Before getting on the road for the day, we made sure to get down to the dining room in time for breakfast. Once again, our accommodations did not disappoint. What I really enjoyed about breakfast at Bunchrew was that the dining room overlooked the Beauly Firth. Don’t get me… Read More

In spite of the fact that we were in Scotland for two weeks, there is a lot of it that we DIDN’T get to see. Northern Scotland would fall into that category. A whole month probably wouldn’t suffice to see everything in Scotland, but I did, at least, earmark one day for a day trip north of Inverness. Our destination for the day was Dunrobin Castle, near the village of Golspie, on… Read More

Breakfast at Castle Stuart (Sunday, June 8th) was another special occasion. There was enough food on hand to feed both of the armies of Culloden, and only four of us on hand to eat it.

We rose early on the morning of Saturday, June 7th, in time for breakfast at our hotel. We were beginning to get an idea of what a “traditional” Scottish breakfast was all about. Most places usually served a first course of porridge. Yes, oatmeal, but not the Quaker Instant variety. Scottish porridge is delicious; very hearty and filling, and the perfect way to get energy for a day of sightseeing. The porridge… Read More

On the morning of Friday, June 6th, we had to wake ourselves up early for the first time on the trip. Most of the wonderful places that the we lodged in offerred a special breakfast, and Ethie was no exception. Check-out time was 10:30, and breakfast at 9:00, so with a little bit of effort I rolled out of bed and took a shower. (Which I had no trouble with, incidentally, but… Read More

On the morning of Thursday, June 5th we ate our favorite pastry hangout on Grassmarket, checked out of the Apex, and hailed a cab. We were heading back to the Edinburgh airport, to the Arnold Clark car rental company. The next leg of our journey was about to begin. This involved driving across Scotland. Being adventurous people, equipped with a good map and a Garmin Nuvi GPS, we felt confident that we… Read More

Our second day in Edinburgh, Scotland dawned bright and clear. I was expecting more of the drizzle that we’d had on the previous day, so it was a pleasant surprise to be greeted with a blue sky and lots of sunshine on the morning of Wednesday, June 4th.

We arrived in Edinburgh on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008, sometime around 10:00 in the morning. The flight from Newark was mostly uneventful. Glenn was able to sleep (he can sleep anywhere), but I think I was too excited to get more than a few minutes of real REM in. The fun began after we disembarked, and I realized that my luggage was still in Newark . Or somewhere.

October 2005