Tag Archives: travel

TOP 100’s


There have suddenly appeared many top 100 lists on facebook – places we’ve been, what we’ve eaten, etc.  Instead of a list of where people have been, how about everyone’s TOP FIVE FAVORITE PLACES?  Mine are:

VENICE   – Awesome water reflections and the very colorful island of Burano


ZION NATIONAL PARK, UTAH   where hiking The Narrows was one of the most exciting adventures ever!


BARCELONA – art everywhere and the BEST FOOD!!!


CAPRI – Complete beauty


CINQUE TERRE, ITALY – intense hiking between the towns


Yes, I see that 3 of my top 5 are in Italy!  I also love Rocky Mountain National Park, Durango (and all of Colorado for that matter), Yosemite, Boston, northern California, New Orleans, Yellowstone, Sedona.  I could go on and on…


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More photos from Italy – these are from Cinque Terre, a steep and rugged portion of the Italian Riviera comprised of five villages, Monterossa, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomagiorre.  The coastline here is absolutely gorgeous, and you can take the train from one village to the next or you can hike the trails.  We love hiking so there was no question about our mode of transport.  We had read that the hike from Monterossa to Vernazza can be strenuous, and it was – maybe more strenuous than the hiking we did last year at Zion and Bryce Canyon, Utah.  After being revived by lunch in Vernazza, we decided to do the hike from Vernazza to Corniglia.  This was supposed to be less strenuous and it was, but not by much!  All the hiking  was of course worth the effort because we were rewarded with such stunning views.  Photographs can’t really capture the true grandeur, but here are a few anyway…

Vernazza 1view from the trail between Monterossa and Vernazza, photo by Wayne

Vernazza 2view from the trail between Monterossa and Vernazza, photo by Wayne

Steps 1a small fraction of the steps we climbed, photo by Shelley Brucar.  Italy is quite hilly, and although I know we must have been going downhill sometimes, it seemed like we were always going UPHILL!  As a result, I am in better shape that I was before the trip.  I have almost doubled my time on the stairmaster – in spite of all the pasta, wine and gelato – which are too wonderful for words!  

Vernazza from above 1Vernazza from above, photo by Shelley Brucar

Vernazza from above 2Vernazza from above, photo by Shelley Brucar

I really love Cinque Terre and  definitely want to go back there to do more hiking.  We also had planned to do a boat trip in PortoVenere, but it got cancelled due to rain, and we were leaving for Sorrento the next day.  So we must return to do that as well.

We stayed in Levanto, which I think is a good base for exploring this area.  It is the town just north of Monterossa, easy to get to by train, very cute and charming, and lots of good food.  One recommendation for dinner is Ristorante Da Rino, wonderful food and very nice owner who welcomed us back the second time we ate there with smiles and after-dinner linomcello, a tasty discovery.

The topic of dinner brings me to one of my observations about Italy that actually relates to stress management.  Meals in Italy are obviously meant to be SAVORED, not rushed through as is often the case in the US.  You choose as many courses as you want from several options: antipasto, zuppe (soup), primi piatti (pasta), secondi piatti (entree), insalata (salad), dolce (dessert), and of course finishing with cappaccino.  And vino – really good vino – accompanies every meal.  The expectation is that, once seated for dinner,  you will be there all night, no pressure to turn over tables as we are used to in America.  Servers take your order, deliver the food (one slow course at a time), then leave you alone to enjoy your meal and your company.  You don’t get your bill until you ask for it (il conto, per favore).  Of course Italian food deserves savoring! And that’s true of much American food as well.

Try eating your next meal, whether out or at home, more slowly.  Really taste what you’re eating and enjoy every bite – time to give up the fast-food-in-the-car habit!


Filed under Art Stuff, travel



all photos by WAYNE BRUCAR

Wayne and I love New Orleans and have been to “The Big Easy” many times.  We  just returned from our first trip back since Hurricane Katrina hit in October, 2005.  After 3 1/2 years, New Orleans is slowly coming back from the devastation of that hurricane.  It was as much fun as it always has been to be there, and in spite of some subtle differences, we had no trouble finding great food, music, scenery and relaxation.  We returned to some of our favorite places – The Old Coffee Pot, Mothers, Red Fish Grille, the Garden District and galleries on Royal Street.  We also found some new spots and had some new adventures – The Crazy Lobster, Plantation Laura tour, galleries and museums in the Arts District, and Audubon Park and Zoo.   We heard wonderful New Orleans music at the Royal Sonesta jazz club as well as on the street, and we were happy to find one of our favorites, Doreen, still going strong. 

New Orleans has not yet returned to the level of tourism from pre-Katrina, and if you’re in the mood for a get-away, this is definitely a place for many wildly varied experiences.  From the decadence of Bourbon Street to the elegance of the Garden District and the beauty of Audubon Park, here are some photos from NOLA.  So “Laissez les bon temps rollez” or Let the good times roll!

Blog4“We’re jazzed you’re here” – the ever-present trolley makes it quite easy to get around

Blog3Bird of Paradise at Audubon Park

Blog1Egret at Audubon Park – There were hundreds of them!

Blog6Audubon Park

Blog11Audubon Zoo

Blog12Did you ever see a white alligator?

Blog8Jackson Square where there is usually music, art and good people-watching

Blog18And here’s Doreen – We found Doreen and Lawrence Ketchens on Royal Street

Blog16This was the first time we saw a street musician with a piano!

Blog23Beautiful windows in the Garden District

Blog26The Garden District

NOLA – Cajun food, incredible jazz, beautiful parks, history and a variety of art.  It’s only a 2 hour flight from Chicago – what a fascinating and relaxing get-away!

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Filed under Relax, travel



Wayne’s photos are all about connecting with nature.


Hiking “The Narrows” slot canyon at Zion National Park, Utah – one of the most exciting and amazing adventures of my life!

img_1031Sedona, AZ

img_10351Jackrabbit on trail in Sedona

img_1183more Sedona – the rocks really are this color!

img_16411Calf Creek Falls – the reward after an already gorgeous hike through red rocks on Calf Creek Trail, east of Bryce Canyon, Utah

p1040725Calf Creek Falls

img_1526The Narrows at Zion

img_1868Here I am among the Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon.  I’ll show you more photos of these in a future post.


Filed under Art Stuff, Relax