Wise Travel Words: Finding Magic in the Moments


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Stick painting on the beach.

Stick painting on the beach. It’s amazing what an open, creative heart and a piece of tree can do together. Click to enlarge.

Something I’ve learned about life, which has been only reinforced by travel, is that you never know where you’re going to find magic.

It can be in a shared experience with a stranger, kind words, or seeing a treasured sight for the first time.

Or, as in this photo, it can be on a windy beach in Sonoma County in June, when my father picked up a piece of driftwood to create some sand art.


How to Score Cheap Tickets for Broadway Shows


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I love New York. There are many, many reasons for this, but one of the biggest is because I’m kind of a theatre nerd (<-notice how I automatically spell theatre the silly British way with the RE instead of ER, heyooo!) and I also adore musicals. So, naturally one of the reasons I love New York, is for BROADWAY!
Breakfast at Tiffany's on Brooadway

Breakfast at Tiffany’s at the Cort Theatre in NYC! We got tickets for the March 4 show, first night of previews!

In the few trips I’ve made to NYC, I’ve seen a handful of Broadway shows–both plays and musicals–and have managed to land some killer seats (like, 2nd or 3rd row) to Tony award-winning shows without paying more than $35 for a ticket.
So how did I find affordable tickets for hit Broadway shows? The ticket lottery.

Daylights Savings? Or, How I Had Coffee with a Bishop



Written October, 2009.*

Apparently, daylight savings went into effect last Saturday at midnight. Nobody told us. As an Arizonan, I have never had to deal with the whole daylight savings ordeal; never had to figure out which way to change my clock, never wondered what would happen if I forgot. Time travel of the most man-made kind, and iit did not even remotely exist in my world. Simply not an issue.


So, I wake up, put on my Sunday best, and go to church, just as I have been doing for the past month. I arrive, and the door is locked. No sounds of chairs scraping inside, no chatter of the kidlets who go to Sunday school. I check my phone clock. 10:25 a.m. The service starts at 10:30. I am confused. I turn around and see a portly man walking towards me. He has the build of a linebacker, but is wearing a large cross necklace, in the design of the 7th c AD, one of those squarish ones.

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How Living in a Small Town Taught Me About Travel



Agatha Christie is one of my favorite mystery writers. Most folks love Poirot, but I loved Miss Marple, the old lady from a tiny town who was a genius sleuth. Characters were always very skeptical about her detective skills, because who was she? Just some spinster who  never left her little corner of the world. But Miss Marple knows something that people forget: it doesn’t matter where you come from to garner lessons about humanity and life.

At this point in my life, I’ve spent a bit more than an accumulated year in  Italy. Most of that time was passed living in Orvieto. Now, Orvieto isn’t very large. Wikipedia says it’s 20,000 people, but I”m skeptical. In any case, Orvieto was certainly the smallest place I’ve ever lived. And guess what?

The Orvieto duomo and skyline of Orvieto

Orvieto: where I learned how to travel.

I learned some of the most important lessons about traveling by living there.

Lesson 1: Be flexible. 

In a small town–especially an Italian one–shops close early, they might be open at random times (i.e. the grocery store randomly closed every Wednesday afternoon), they might go on vacation *gasp!* for two weeks and you won’t be able to find your favorite bread or whatever.

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How to Buy Awesome Souvenirs (Without Overloading Your Bag)


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As you know, I’m a light packer. And as much as I love shopping (when I’m in the right mood), I have a hard time justifying buying souvenirs unless I’m on a short trip and don’t have to lug stuff around too long.

But traveling for 8 months and seeing things you’ve never seen before sometimes prompts a desire to take home a relic or two. Here are some of my favorite souvenirs that not only fit into my bag, but will also remind me of my fabulous trip and the incredible people I met along the way.

Look for Unique and Practical Garments

If you buy a t-shirt for every destination you travel, you might end up with a lot of extra weight in your pack. Trust me, there were so many clever and cute t-shirts I wanted (Appelman in Berlin, anyone?) but really often at souvenir shops they’re kitschy and overpriced.

The good thing about buying t-shirts as souvenirs is that if you’re traveling long-term, you’ll probably have to toss or donate your old, ruined ones at some point. And what better to replace them with than ones that are both practical–I mean, you can wear them!–and have a story behind them.

The trick? Look for items that you might not be able to get anywhere else. And that you WILL USE AND WEAR.

Example 1: In October, I traveled in Italy with the fantastic Emily & Logan. While they were off being their badass selves cycling 135 km through the picturesque Tuscan hills, I was eating porchetta and watching as people came in at the finish. Oh, and I also perused the L’Eroica market place.

There, I stumbled upon the tent for Borracce di Poesia, a project joining the joy of cycling with love of reading. Literally translated to “Water Bottles of Poetry,” its founder inserted poems he’d written that focused on urban cycling. I LOVED the idea behind this, and they had the coolest design for their t-shirts. The founder and I had a really great chat, and I asked myself: Where else would I get something like this that was paired with this experience?

Overlooking Siena and promoting poetry!

Overlooking Siena and promoting poetry!

I love my Borracce shirt and can’t wait until there’s warmer weather to wear it all the time again–I did in Italy!

And by the way–now you can get their t-shirts online! They are super cool and come in many colors.

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Favorite Five: Hostels I Stayed In


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Now that I’m back in a non-shared sleeping space and don’t have to rent a towel, I can reflect on the many types of accommodation I’ve used. I’ve been welcomed into homes, which were always my favorite, and stayed in some very cute budget hotels and AirBnB rooms.

Our hotel room in Litochoro--NOT a hostel. They upgraded our room to a triple with a balcony...

Our hotel room in Litochoro–NOT a hostel. They upgraded our room to a triple with a balcony…

But much of my travel and time was spent in hostels. Here are my five favorite hostels I stayed in during my nearly eight-month stint traveling Europe.

Click on the name of the hostel in the header to get to their site, which has all their details and current pricing!

Art Hole Hostel: Prague, Czech Republic

Know when you watch a trailer, and the movie is totally NOT what you were expecting? Well, at Art Hole Hostel I totally got what I wanted–and expected–from their description. On their description for Hostelworld and Hostelbookers, they clearly say they are not a party hostel and are great for solo travellers.

This was absolutely true on both counts. With a great location nearby to bars, guests could go out and dance the night away or party to their heart’s content, but quiet hours started at midnight and were pretty well enforced, meaning those of us who wanted to stay in (read: I am an old grandma and like my beauty sleep) or go to bed before 3 a.m. could do so.

Plus, they don’t book big groups, and it was really easy to chat with other travelers there. AND breakfast is included–WITH protein! Cute little hard boiled eggs in egg cups right in the kitchen, ready for your enjoyment.

I also loved the look of the place; it’s in a big old building with wood floors and high ceilings, and the lockers were big enough for me to fit my entire bag into it.

The cons? The number of bathrooms is a little low compared to the number of folks staying there, and for those of you who are unwieldy packers, you’ll have to lug your stuff up a few flights of stairs, as there is no elevator.

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On Coming Home



For the past few days, I’ve had three songs stuck in my head on repeat:

“New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra

“NYC” from the Broadway musical, Annie (aka one of my favorite musicals of all-time, especially at age five)

“Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys.

Why, you ask?

BECAUSE THAT’S MY FIRST STOP STATESIDE. And although it’s not technically my home in that I don’t legally reside there, it feels like home (and I’d love for it to be  someday).

This is what I saw arriving into JFK in NYC on Feb. 28th.

This is what I saw arriving into JFK in NYC on Feb. 28th.

I could barely contain my excitement during my flight. When we finally touched down at JFK, I had a huge crazy person grin on my face. The sun was setting and as I made my way from the terminal and entered the fray of the MTA to get into the city, as I heard not only English but Russian and Mandarin and thick Bronx accents,  I saw Chelsea Papaya and Doughnut Plant and my crazy person grin fit right in.

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Kurentovanje, Slovenia’s Carnival


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Although relatively well known in Europe as Slovenia’s biggest festival, I had no clue what kurentovanje was until I started researching my trip to Slovenia in early January. The photos alone prompted me to book my accommodation: huge groups of people running down the street in full body sheepskin costumes, horns and feathers, wearing bells and shaking their groove thing to ring them.

Masks waiting for their wearers in Ptuj.

Masks waiting for their wearers in Ptuj.

I had to see this in person.

So on Saturday, February 10 I arrived in Ptuj, Slovenia’s oldest city, home to a castle, famous spas, Slovenia’s oldest wine cellar and kurentovanje.

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Brief Update and BIG Announcement!



Sorry I’ve been so absent the past few days.

I’m on the final leg of my huge Eurotrip and am trying to soak up as much Berlin as possible before flying home on Thursday morning (and by home, I mean the great New York City, not my hometown but a place I feel very much at home).

I can’t wait to eat in NYC, and try my luck again at the show lottery (seriously, I’m gonna get those front row seats to Book of Mormon at some point!) and hang out with some of my favorite people!

I'll definitely be going back to Maison Premiere for some oysters and absinthe while in Brooklyn!

I’ll definitely be going back to Maison Premiere for some oysters and absinthe while in Brooklyn!

So far, I’ve been to a bunch of museums, wandered around Kreuzberg (I even used some Turkish there!), took myself to the movies (saw Django Unchained–nice one, QT, nice one) and have eaten my very first currywurst! (SO. GOOD. More on this later).

Look forward to more posts about Turkey, Slovenia, Germany and more in the coming weeks!

Will be posting soon about the coolest carnival EVER in SLOVENIA!

Will be posting soon about the coolest carnival EVER in SLOVENIA!

From NYC I’ll head up to Boston to see some family & friends, as well as do an Irish 5k in Sommerville! Ireland, I’ll never leave you! 😉

Then, I”ll be back in sunny Tucson for about a month before heading out on another GRAND adventure: Costa Rica!

Here’s my big announcement! **cue drum roll**

That’s right, I’ll be going to Costa Rica for about 7 weeks, and will be using that time to write the next Go! Girl Guides guidebook! Stay tuned for my postings from Costa Rica, and be sure to find Go! Girl Guides on Twitter, Facebook or add it to your blogroll. Better yet, buy one of their amazing guidebooks (Mexico, Thailand and Argentina currently available) on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble!

For now, I’ll just say that although I have had the time of my life on my travels so far, I will be really glad to be home for awhile. I’ll let you in on those reasons in the coming months.

Hope everyone’s doing swell, and remember: if you like Bumblings of Miss Button here, don’t forget that I’m also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!