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Sunday, 15 June 2014 02:28

Liselund, Denmark

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    The summer for me means time to catch up on personal goals I pushed into the corner of my life throughout the winter and spring season. There are many things I catch up during the summer months  but the most important goal is writing. I have been writing since I was ten years old and find I feel the need to reach for a pen and a piece of paper at least once a week but with the holidays and demands I don't always find the time until the summer. I make a point of searching for a retreat to steal myself away from every day life and write for a solid week or at least attempt to. This year I have opted for a place in a Danish castle far from my home. 

    Off the cliffs of Denmark sits a castle called Liselund and a writing retreat aptly named Hamlet's Retreat. Here two women have created a place where writers of all experiences can come and submerse themselves into their writing. The retreat is a week long writing event where one can be involved in all the wonderful workshops. The workshops consist of how to do research and write a scene to how to write fiction and nonfiction. There is even a workshop discussing how to pitch your work for publication. The Workshops last for six nights and seven days. It is all-inclusive stay with a restaurant on the premises along with a cafe. Anja Klemp Vilgaard and Shawna Kenney, the teachers of this wonderful retreat only accept seventeen people for  the workshop as to give undivided attention to each writer.

    Even though there are quite a few workshops you can immerse yourself in, they are purely optional. You have the opportunity to discover the castle ruins, or enjoy yoga in the morning and venture off by yourself to work on your writing. The rooms are beautifully furnished as well as tables set up inside and out to dine on while you find the next line for your book. If you're looking for a place to run away and find your writing muse again, this is the place. 

Thursday, 29 May 2014 01:46

Ready to speak Italian…

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       During the colder months I crave a mocha cappuccino but once summer is upon me and the sun is warming the beaches I go to my favorite wine shop, choose a few tasty reds and whites, come home and make a pitcher of sangrias for me and my friends. This year will be no different except I have recently finished a two year course in Italian and all I want to do is try out my new found speaking skills in Italy; at a vineyard of course. There are so many wonderful places to visit in Italy, I’m quite certain any of them will be outstanding but the one I’ve chosen is Vignamaggio; a beautiful villa outside of Greve in Chianti.  If you’re a Shakespeare fan, you may have heard of it before. The movie Much Ado About Nothing was filmed here in the early ‘90s. It is also rumored the famous Mona Lisa is from the villa, her name actually being Lisa Gherardini. 


The villa is spread out over 140 acres of land with 50 of them used for growing grapes turning them into different types of Chianti. Depending on when you go, you’re able to take a tour of their vineyards and at the end taste different selections of wine. While on the tour, you’ll see rows of grapes, and olive trees (they also make their own olive oil), barrels of wines and the estate itself.  There are three types of tours depending on your preference. You can tour the vineyard, cellar and gardens without tasting or you can choose to do a tasting with lunch or if you really want to be extravagant (I know I do) have dinner with your tour that will include different wines and olive oils from their fields. 


      The villa has beautiful cottages you’re able to stay in with all the amenities you may want. Each of them decorated with antique furniture. You can even bring your fur babies with you! This is a pet friendly villa as well as kid friendly. Enjoy an authentic meal at their restaurant dining on locally made olive oil, fresh vegetables, pasta and of course one of their many wines. You have a choice of sitting inside or dining outside on their patio surrounding by the hillside. The villa even has a spa. This is not your typical spa. If you want something a little different you can take a bath in wine. Yes, in wine. Now that is a splendid way to end a two year Italian course; being surrounding by cypress trees, drinking wine and dipping freshly made Italian bread into olive oil. Molto bene!!!


Wednesday, 30 April 2014 20:26

Salt and Sun

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        The beginning of May brings flowers, rain and the best part, margaritas. May 5th is Cinco de Mayo day and that means it’s time to celebrate. The holiday has many meanings depending where you’re from but in America we celebrate to honor Mexico’s heritage.  All over the United States you can find a restaurant or a city celebrating the entire day; however if you’re looking for the largest, most expansive celebration that would be in Los Angeles, California. 

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated for an entire weekend in Los Angeles and expands over to the surrounding areas. On Olvera St. there will be live music including folk dancers, and mariachis. Piñatas will be about and activities will be set up for the younger crowd. Olvera St. is home to a Mexican marketplace as well as the oldest structure in Los Angeles, the Avile Adobe ranch house.  The museum of Latin America will have a beer tasting event in honor of the holiday that will include live music. In Santa Ana there is a carnival with rides, games, all kinds of food and music. The LA plaza museum will have free tickets for the holiday. On Sunday in West Hollywood there will be a huge block party for the afternoon and all the proceeds will go to the Project Angel Food. 

At the end of April the largest festival will be held. It consists of a 24 block party with over half a million people. Just like the weekend of Cinco de Mayo, there will be numerous activities, more food than you can imagine and music being played all across the festival. 

If you want to go to your local restaurant and have a few margaritas to celebrate the day or if you want to go to the biggest block party with some of the most fabulous Mexican food you will ever taste, the options is yours. 


Saturday, 19 April 2014 16:47

Grand Canyon

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Spring is in the air…Okay, well not really in this very cold city of Boston. I can still look at the calendar and remember only a few short days ago, it snowed during the night. Still, I’m ready to move on to warmer days with flowers blooming and trees budding. I’ve traveled across country twice in my life. I enjoyed every minute of it and when I did I always had the desire to see the Grand Canyon. But I never stopped because I had in the back of my mind what movies always depict it as. You go, you see (for a few minutes) and you leave. I don’t know. It never seemed worth it. I realize how wrong I was and am ready to make the journey across the country and actually stop this time. 

The Grand Canyon is located in the state of Arizona in the southwest of the United States. The Grand Canyon is approximately three hundred miles long and twenty miles wide. Not a small canyon by any means. Going through the bottom of the canyon is the Colorado River. The actual walls of the canyon are about a mile long from the top to the bottom floor. 

Get your cameras ready. First and foremost when you get there you’ll want to take in the scenery of this magnificent place and enjoy its view. Afterwards, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know you can explore the area in more ways than one. There are guided tours you can take, what type of tour is up to you. You can travel by foot, bike or if you really want to be outside the box, a mule. Depending on how long you stay you can hike for a day or you can gather up your gear, grab a backpack and explore the canyon for multiple days. The trails range from a few miles to twenty miles. When you’re done hiking head down to the Colorado River and you can do a little rafting (book well in advance).  This can also be a one day rafting event or several days. If you want to see the canyon from the sky, go on an airplane or helicopter tour.  If you have family with younger adults there are programs just for them. They will even receive their own certificate, badge and patch by completing activities listed in the junior booklet.

The places to stay near the Grand Canyon vary depending on your taste. There are upscale inns, old lodges, and campgrounds. I am always pleasantly surprised at how naïve I am when it comes to the world and traveling. The Grand Canyon is no exception. While it is beautiful to pull over on the side of the road and take a quick peek at the canyon, knowing I can explore the area and learn some of its secrets has certainly caught my interest and has made its way onto my bucket list. 


Sunday, 16 March 2014 00:00

Not quite ready to say goodbye…to snow

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Spring is almost here, and I can’t wait. As the warmer weather arrives I have to admit as much as I dislike being cold, I will miss the snow. I love the idea of going outside making snow angels, building igloos and coming back in to warm my hands by the fire. Do I want to do this every day? Probably not. I could definitely live in a place where palm trees were the norm. With that being said, I would still want to see snow on occasion and if I had the nerve, take a trip to the North Pole to experience it in a way not possible in my back yard. 


First let me start off by saying getting to the North Pole can be done in all kinds of dramatic ways. Let’s face it, any way you get there is dramatic but you have options to make it even more spectacular. You can go by dog-sled, helicopter, skis, ice-breaker ship or simply parachute in. Seriously? Seriously. 


As you make your way to the North Pole, you’ll be on an ice-breaker ship part of the way and will see the front part of the ship cut away at the ice and push it to the sides as it makes its way through. I would not venture out into this expedition if you have any fears of whales tipping ships (I may have one or two) as you might see them swimming in the ocean as well as native birds that will land on the ship. When you arrive you have the option of getting out and taking a small hike to the “top of the world.” Most tours do a champagne toast. Because each tour is different, you’ll have all kinds of options like taking a helicopter ride and sky-diving over the North Pole. You can make your own mini movie or take lots of pictures to brag to all your friends and family back home. 


Just like how you get there, where you stay is as dramatic with just as many options. You can visit for the day and take as many pictures to show all your friends and family or you can stay at or near the North Pole in an igloo. Igloos are all different. You may be the rugged kind and want to go all out. This is definitely doable. In Svalbard, part of the islands in Norway, you can stay in an authentic igloo. While there, check out the museums nearby, go dog-sledding and depending when you go, you may see the Northern lights. 


Perhaps staying in a real igloo is not for you but you still want the experience.  In Finnish, Lapland, the Kakslauttanen Igloo Village (located above the Arctic Circle), there are a few ways you can stay warm. They have log cabins, authentic igloos and not to be outdone glass igloos which are by far the most romantic. At least I think so. The bottom part of the igloo is nestled down into the ground with only the top part showing. The top or the roof of the igloo is made of glass, so as you sleep you can watch the night sky. Romantic right? Each glass igloo has its own beds and bathroom. In the morning if you really want to be adventurous you can swim in one of the ice holes or head to the sauna. Once a year the Kakslauttanen Igloo Village builds sculptors made out of ice, including an ice bar, chapel and a snow restaurant. 


After planting your spring flowers and watering your gardens, a trip to an igloo with huskies, polar bears and the occasional jump out of a helicopter to drink champagne may be in order. 

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