We ended up going into Cuba a total of three times throughout the day. We came back to the ship to take a nap to prepare for the evening when we heard about the Old Havana Perfume Museum from our friends. Of course we then decided to skip the nap and head back into Havana off the cruise ship. This perfume shop was adorable, interesting and so weird all rolled into one. Of course I got a little souvenir bottle of the oldest Perfume in Cuba called "Passion".
I can not take photo credit for all of these pictures. It's great to travel with 9 other sets of eyes, especially if I am filming! Fusterlandia is an area in Cuba with spectacular mosaics and art shopping that someone knew to take us to. Most all of my souvenirs were purchased in this area from local artists and would definitely make this a stop in Cuba.
The video below is on real time and lets you ride along on our trip to the cabaret. The driver "Shrek" was quite adorable and smitten with me so I thought fun to share his banter.
We got tickets while strolling in Havana to one of the cabaret shows. The hotel we stopped into that sold us tickets recommended this show. It was located at Hotel Nacional. The hotel itself was absolutely beautiful from the little we were able to see. The show is in another building and I describe it in the first video. :).
I will admit, a little over half-way thru this show I was sitting there somewhat baffled that I was bored. I was literally having a mental battle with myself of what the heck when I turned around and the entire table of 9 others waves they were ready to go. So...I'm guess that isn't the best option for a show. Besides the aesthetics of the theater and such, the only thing we could figure caused the boredom was simply none of it was in English. So we truly didn't understand the show and part of what they were wanting to share about their culture.
Leaving Cuba caused me to do more research about their culture and the communist rule. I don't believe I truly understood what it meant and then once I observed it it led me to do more research to understand what these people have gone thru. These people are not their government. They were born into the law and they don't have any options because they can't get out. It makes me appreciate how blessed I truly am.
All in all, the trip was amazing. I was able to float in the ocean with rays of sun, explore the beauty of Cuban culture, hang with 9 amazing people and meet 8 new friends.
I do want to give a shout out to Jennifer Blomer. Jennifer was the travel consultant that planned and laid out this trip for us. I typically do all of my own travel but I was joining in a group of friends so I didn't have to handle anything. So if you are a frequent traveler and haven't been to Cuba, or have never taken a cruise, or are terrified of planning a Cuban trip, Jennifer would be perfect for you.
There were quite a few extra things that Jennifer handled for us that even I as an avid traveler thoroughly appreciated. So if you were one that were unsure what would be needed or expected for travel, Jennifer would hit it out of the park for you. She has the patience of a saint (hello, there were 9 of us, and we had zero cell service. ) and if you had questions or needed extra attention to detail, Jennifer would take care of it.
Thank you for following along on my crazy adventures. I love getting to hear who follows along....
Why yes! That is NOTO $ in Cuba #iamtopeka
I am trying to finally catch up on some fun things but I hate to slow down to take the time to write!
Where I left off on my trip was after our crazy, yet extremely memorable Irish wedding, that happened to be located in the middle of a cemetery, up a long walk, in the rain. If you haven’t had a chance to read that, it is a must! I know that is something I will never forget.
After the wedding and we took the ferry back to the mainland, they had scheduled into the day a nap in between festivities, and I needed it. Granted, I am not an Irish drinker but my one cider that I used for the toast required a disco nap for me. We knew going into the reception it was scheduled to go late because of the Irish customs which is what I was most excited about. I believe all the Americans were excited about.
We went to the reception site which is where the family and members of the wedding party stayed. It was the Castello Lodge which we learned, and heard from multiple different sources the story of how that location came about. One of the original owners of the Titanic was the builder of this home. In the movie, there is a man who carries off a child at the end and that is the owner of the blue necklace. He survived the sinking by sink supposedly in reality by dressing as a woman in order to save his live. There is much folklore about him and have done minimal research thus far. Somehow people found out about his dishonesty of getting off the boat and exiled him after burning his house down in the UK, which is how he ended up in Ireland and building the property where the wedding was held. Beautiful property and I can’t wait to find out more about the story.
Anyway, Shannon headed over to the wedding before me since this was her shin dig. I hadn’t been sleeping well and struggling with my jet lag so I finally made it over closer to 9. There was supposed to be basically three receptions. Typical American style, kind of mix of the two, and then the final one was to be how many Irish end their evenings in family song and music bringing up the sun. That was our goal, thus why I had to take a nap! Needless to say, all Americans were so flipping excited for the final reception part and to partake in the Irish music with his family. It didn’t happen. We laughed as it is getting early into the morning that all the Americans were left standing as the Irish were passed out and had to retire. Granted, most of the Americans didn’t drink much and had to take a nap to get ready for the late night but still! The laugh was on us as all the Americans left the reception late, hoping for some fun to pop off and they were all passed out.
Either way you look at that day it was nuts, crazy, one for the history books and most definitely a once in a lifetime wedding. The stories and laughter over the craziness of the day have made it so worth going, especially now that we have dried out and our clothes are finally dry to be able to take home!
I’m not sure that this wedding will ever be able to be topped as most memorable, but if you know of one that is crazier than this, I need an invite!!
Holy shamoly this is going to be a crazy, amazing day! Shannon and I are currently on a ferry to the isle Inis Oirr to attend a traditional Irish wedding ceremony of one of Shannon’s childhood friends daughters. I have always wanted to attend a traditional Irish wedding and also a wake and this fills one of them! The day has started with more color and flair then we could have imagined as we all (the entire wedding) boarded a shuttle bus to take us to the ferry bringing us to the big day, which happens to be a Thursday!
The bride is marrying an Irish lad who is born and raised here in the area. So when we say a traditional Irish wedding, it is traditional! The groom is one of 13 and is a full of color, fun group that as the day progresses I can’t imagine the fun. As the ferry was starting to depart the groom, his father, and I am assuming uncles, pose for a picture and as someone hollers to smile, as up come the middle fingers on cue. As you can see we happened to catch it just in time. The family love on the groom is fun to watch, especially since the mother was tragically killed a year or so ago.
One of the best parts we are noticing so far is the attire. Wow...I have obviously witnessed a lot of weddings in my day, especially in the last six years and I have never seen anything of the sort. It’s crazy and will totally make you smile. The only uniform or semblance of uniformity is comfort and perhaps favorite pieces of clothing. Tattoos, piercing and more are celebrated and welcomed. Love it! I noticed the first beer being drank starting around 10:45 am and the reception is supposed to go until the sun comes up.
Ferry is pulling up to the island and we are on to the next adventure!! 11:45
2:03. Well...we are all officially sopping wet , the couple is married, and we are back on the ferry and beyond thrilled to get back to land and dry clothes after the most amazing, unique experience I may have ever been witness to.
As we all exited the ferry and started off we all were wondering where the next shuttle was. Well, there wasn’t one! We watched as the bride and the priest pulled out their umbrellas and started the trek, uphill, in the rain. It literally may have been a mile walk up the road in the driving rain. Watching the massive of line of us crazy nuts walking in this was fun and hearing the banter was the best, not to mentioned everyone taking pictures of the crazy wedding party. Especially as we are walking up this hill towards what looks like a cemetery! We knew the grooms mom had been killed recently while she was walking to prayer so we thought perhaps it was traditional to visit her grave and bring the wedding party along. Nope! In the middle of the cemetery is an historic chapel set down in the middle where the wedding party and family climbed down to partake in the ceremony (I’ll find out more details for history buffs and share when can). The best was as we are walking up a gentlemen in front of us leans over to his wife and says, “we aren’t heading to the graveyard right?”
After the ceremony we then walked half the way to a local pub at which we all had pints before the ferry back. Granted we didn’t know we were supposed to eat so our nap time will also include lunch time!
Although we are literally ringing out our clothes and have a full ferry full of soggy Irish and Americans, it was spectacular and will definitely go down as the most memorable wedding thus far.
Ferry boat is another hour ride back and then shuttle to one local drop off and then another shuttle back to the Airbnb. We will dry off, change clothes, regroup, eat, disco nap and make our way back to the first of three receptions.
I’m going to sign and try and catch an extra few winks before we make it back to dock. I’m not the best Irish day drinker so my half a cider will make my nap much easier.
Life is good! So many times people will tell me I sure know how to adult. I try!! I am a single, divorced woman who loves to travel and experience life and I only have to worry about myself and my sweet little dog and she is as game for an adventure as the next. Well, as long as there are treats involved.
I am currently sitting on a plane on my way to Dublin, Ireland, via Reykjavik, Iceland. I am heading overseas for my friends Shannon’s god child’s wedding and of course, I wasn’t going to miss the chance to attend an authentic Irish wedding!
As I started to type and kick off my trip I realized, wait! There are so many other amazing things I have had the chance to experience since my last blog I figured I should share a few highlights of life before I jumped into the next adventure!! I started to scroll thru pictures to see what to not leave out and realized I have had quite a few things I have forgotten to share so we are going to do some abbreviated sharing!
CONCERTS! I obviously love to get out and support live music. Regardless of the size of the audience, supporting musicians and getting to enjoy their passion and talent has always been something important to me. I have attended all kinds of concerts starting as a child from Alabama and Kenny Rogers to Ozzy Osbourne and Guns and Roses and my list keeps growing. Sometimes performers on my list are bucket list performers and then there are some it’s an experience, I love their music or I had the opportunity to go.
Kesha & Macklemore was a fun one I was able to see in Cincinnati, Ohio with Shannon and a crew. I actually brought two of my employees to Ohio as a reward trip and had my step daughter Addison and her partner Liz join us for the event. They were able to drive over from Lansing, Michigan where Addison is attending graduate school. Plus, my neice Megan happened to be traveling cross country so I kidnapped her to join us for the fun. The energy of this concert was so much fun, especially the people watching!!
Melissa Ethridge was another concert I had the opportunity to go check out. She happened to be in Ohio over Shannon’s birthday so of course we had to go check her out! That was another fun people watching concert, and of course her being a Kansas girl gives her a special place in my heart.
Seal/Eric Wortham II was the third concert which was a bucket list concert. I have always wanted to attend a concert at the famed Red Rock in Colorado, so when I had the chance to cross off a Red Rock concert in addition to watching my incredibly talented friend Eric play for Seal, I can’t complain!! I did have the opportunity to catch this tour while they were in England and I must admit it was such a different feel! They changed the play list and added a few songs, but the performance to an outdoor, sold out crowd under the Colorado sky was breathtaking.
My sister was able to go to this concert with me and was quite the sport. As we rolled into Colorado, the rain started to pour. We had literally prepared for 94 degree weather as a torrential rain came down instead. Patti was a fair enough sport and made the trek with me to Red Rock. We found rain ponchos as we entered the venue and prepared for a fun night!! Eric was able to come say hello before the concert and he was able to check out where we were sitting so could monitor our enjoyment of the concert.
If you have followed along on my other journeys you will see Eric has quite an good eye while center stage playing piano. So good if you make dumb moves or face the wrong direction or don’t pay attention, he will catch you and call you out! So…we behaved and had a wonderful evening although we did sneak a few pics of the view Eric and Seal were able to admire.
Our goal was to try and catch Eric at the end of the concert before he was heading out to continue the tour when we basically got in a hospitality room with a few other band members, fans and Seal!! Yup, as Patti and I are sitting there waiting, Seal himself walks in to greet some fans and grab a cup of coffee.(Patti swears he smelt like a strong pot of coffee) Realizing we might look like assholes trying to excuse ourselves from the meet and greet of Seal to catch up with his pianist, we did introduce ourselves and had a quite wonderful chat with him about his children and life.
I’m going to sign off for now. The flight attendants have out their duty free and are hitting the aisles and I hate to miss a good deal.
Lots of love,
My UK observations for the day...
Shifting from second to third gear is not my strength.
Their malls are ridiculous in so many ways. Not only the stores within them, they are impossible to get into! It’s like a scavenger hunt sometimes or a puzzle. Who has floors with escalators going down and none up?!
Many Londoners have been terrified by the sound of my lil Peugeot being thrown into first gear instead of the intended third gear.
It is embarrassing each time I try to get into the wrong side of the car.
My middle of bathroom shower confuses me where to put the bath mat...and the toilet paper.
And my brain is still working on how to get my British door paint. Can I carry on?
Pizza express doughballs for 11 pm snack are a must.
I don’t notice very many car accidents with all the traffic and craziness. Why?
I’m on my first flight out of Cincinnati and looking forward to my upcoming travels and adventures. I flew to Cincinnati last night bringing my fur child Roma to my best girlfriend Shannon. She is watching her the first week and spoiling her rotten then she will be spoiled the next week by her husband Doug who happens to LOVE Roma. I realized she may look more forward to me traveling with the treatment she gets when I’m gone!
I land tomorrow morning at Gatwick airport in London and not sure where I want to head! When Shannon flies in next week we have a great flat rented in Nottinghill off Portobello road. Portobello market has to be one of my favorite things so I am looking forward to enjoying that week but the days prior I haven’t decided where my adventure will take me.
One of my favorite things of traveling Is exploring new areas and honestly seeing what that area does “Right”. So many times there is not reason to reinvent the wheel, just explore other options. Look at other parts of the country or world and I guarantee someone has come up with what you are looking for. Seeing fun display, products, how it is set up and handled of similar businesses is always a highlight. Brighton, England is an area I haven’t spent any time in and have learned a friend will also be in area so perfect time to head up to explore that area. They are known for their pier and board walk, not to mentions all their markets and carboots. So travels my take me north for some new exploring.
I also wanted to try and do some tidbits along the way for those who are not travelers or whom haven’t ventured this far. I know I’m asked often about my travels. Many have crazy perceptions on pricing and such and as a bargain shopper I’ll try and share some tips and tricks. So...as heading out of the country as a shopper, those sometimes are challenges with bag and weight restrictions.
One of my travel tidbits is with southwest airline credit card. I love it. I rarely pay for any tickets airline tickets within the United States. I earn miles every month and try to use for domestic flights so when searching for this adventure I needed to find reasonable flights basically to London. I have free airfare using points so I’m flying to Boston and catching a flight direct from there. How some of my dates fell with meetings and such made my tickets a bit more expensive because lack of flexibility but my flight was around $450 round trip Boston to London. Of course tons of options more expensive but also a few more options cheaper. I have used many times wow air which goes thru Iceland and honestly is cheap and great and their flights would have been a less expensive option but the straight thru was calling my name. Will keep you posted as can!
After our gorgeous day in Paris, we headed back towards Amsterdam and wanted to hit some towns along the way. Our first stop was Ghent, Belgium 🇧🇪, which is a little town we stayed at in March. Adorable town a fun to explore. We only stayed a couple hours there, ate and hit the road to Antwerp, Belgium.
Antwerp is somewhere I have never been and is the diamond capital of the world. I have always heard how gorgeous it is so we wanted to check it out. It was along our route back to Amsterdam so perfect reason to spend an evening there.
We pulled into town pretty late so we didn't explore until the following morning. But as we were pulling into town, we noticed massive amounts of Jewish men and boys, in their full regalia, walking the town. Like hundreds of them! All of them with traditional hair locks and elders with large fur hats.
The next morning as we were heading out, again there were droves of Jewish families out and about, men in groups, and children in groups. Not very many women. We asked the wonderful host of our b&b about the groupings and such. She explained Antwerp had Jewish extremists that were concentrated in certain areas. She explained about the partial use of electric, how children move thru town, and a little bit about them in the community.
The fascinating thing about the groupings were how the children were moved from place to place. It was the responsibility of the eldest child in the group during their travels across town. So an example would be we saw a grouping of 5 children walking thru town. The ages ranged from probably 2-10 at the oldest. And they were alone! No adults...the eldest was in charge. If they was a child in the pramm a caretaker or mom was present.
Again, this is quite a site seeing hundreds of men in full regalia and herds of children roaming the street alone. So as Shannon and I were leaving our b&b, a large grouping was headed down the street. Of course, we try and capture many things that are parts of our trip, including traveling to Antwerp on the Jewish new year! Shannon has her phone out and is taking a couple pictures of the street scene and the groupings walking down the street when two teenage boys pop out into the street to block us! The one came to my window and started questioning us. "Why are you here? What are you taking pictures of? Why are you on this street?" We started to answer and then realized...why do we need to? What authority did they have? The boy then asked Shannon for her phone, saying he wanted to see her phone and pictures. He wanted her to go thru her pictures to see what were on there. When he started demanding her phone, Shannon said "just go!" The kid heard her and grabbed onto car and we basically took off! He started radioing somewhere and hollering as a few more teenage boys came running and chasing after us. We got off the block extremely quickly and took off to get the heck out of there. I will say, the stoplight at the corner may have been the longest stoplight ever!!!
So...moral of the story is...do NOT take pictures of the Jewish men, and that a majority of the diamond shops are owned by Jewish in Antwerp and trying to visit during their new year isn't very smart. 80 percent of the diamond stores are closed for their holiday and because of terror attacks they increase their security which means army walking around with machine guns and big armored vehicles. A little disarming so we were okay with moving on.
Antwerp wasn't our favorite stop and we can probably say we have been there done that and cross it off our list.
I'm coming up on our first Friday art walk so sadly we must head back to the states and be responsible. I'll try and post about our final days soon but hope to see many of you this coming Friday! Love so many of you follow along on my crazy adventures....
One could not ask for a more gorgeous day all around! It was perfect for us to explore Paris and get to see the sites. Although we all started our day out around 4, we couldn't have asked for a better time with friends.
Last night Shannon and I were able to meet up with our friends, www.zachharmon.com, who are playing a European tour and were at their stop in Paris. The played a jazz club and had packed the house. After their show, all of us went to probably one of the most memorable bars I have ever been to. It was a Cabernet variety show, basically underground in one of the most amazing stone basements, with cave like rooms filled with energy and people. I honestly could not begin to tell you how much it was like what one see in the movies, or begin to describe it, but it was just wow. Singing, dancing, dancing on tables, bottles of champagne, cheering and chanting....it is a memory we won't forget!
Since the bar didn't close until 5 am, we were there until four, and by the time we got back to hotel and such 6 am here we are...thus, our late start of our adventure today. We rounded up three of the guys and they headed out with us to explore. Slim, www.texasslim.com, Chris, Ralph, Shannon and I took off to enjoy the weather and sites. Of course our first stop had to be the Eiffel Tower.
We walked around, took our pictures, ate crepes and hotdogs and then made sure to go by other sites, did some souvineer shopping and then decided to find a park and enjoy a cafe and people watch. We talked and gabbed and just had a ball when we planned to walk back to car and go see the sites at night. Well...our plans got a little delayed.
As we walked up to our car, we quickly realized we were not leaving anytime soon. As you can see police were involved, they tried to push cars out, bump back and forth and there wasn't any luck. Two hours later and 4 desserts, 5 Jameson, 2 espressos, a Coke and a milkshake were great time killers. We sat at the most hospitable cafe and enjoyed the night while waiting for the bad Mercedes driver. All things happen for a reason because it was wonderful to sit, relax and enjoy the company.
Not sure where the wind will take us tomorrow. We don't have anything planned so who knows where we will end up. But will try and share when can!
Lots of love,
I once had a friend post that I did a great job "adulting", and that may have been one of my most favorite things. I took it as I embrace my life as an adult and enjoy it! Well, not too many could say they started out their birthday in Amsterdam and finished it in Paris! I am enjoying this adult life thing.
We landed in Amsterdam on Thursday and have had an absolutely wonderful time having nothing that we had to do. We shopped a few open air markets which is one of our favorite things which we love. We have had amazing food and some of the best people watching ever! 😜
Last night we went to dinner in a little area of Amsterdam that is two blocks of street blocked off, so the street is packed with people!! And, then tend to be very entertaining since quite drunk and quite stoned. So we love to find a table with chairs to sit back and enjoy. You see all kinds of things!
We ended our night by stopping in a city square that was full of entertainment. We found a wonderful bar that had outside seating and it was game night. After Shannon trying to teach me backgammon, unsuccessfully since she couldn't remember how to play, we switched to cards and had a ball. Gorgeous weather, great people watching, and playing cards when it hit my birthday here. I told Shannon this was the best way to celebrate because I got 7 extra hours for my birthday celebration!
We are currently on the road to Paris to spend the evening there. Small world that friends of ours that have played Serendipity happen to be touring here and are playing this evening. So we are looking forward to that and enjoying some great music.
Have loved and appreciated all the birthday wishes. You know how to make a girl feel loved...
The children on bikes and motorcycles here is just crazy! I captured a few fun pictures...from cart with kids on way from from school, mom holding up kids head while he was out cold in car seat, and three year olds riding scooters.