An Adventure A Day

Because "life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all" – Helen Keller

Rome. It is many things, but most of all, it is Resilient. It has changed much since it was first founded, but it endures, it continues. Walk along almost any street in Rome and you are inundated with evidence of the passing of time. An ancient archeological site sits next to a Renaissance palace. Exit …

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“I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” Hilaire Belloc Here’s the thing about summer breaks in Italy – they are really long. I’m talking June to September long. That’s three months long. Which is …

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Travel Theme: Breathe

May 20, 2016

This week the travel theme at Where’s My Backpack? takes a look at slowing down and remembering to breathe.

In my ideal, dream world, when I need to breathe I’d simply head off to the mountains. It is in the mountains where I find a calmness and peace unlike anywhere else. As a mother of two young children with a spouse who travels a lot, this is often times just that. A dream. So it’s those places closer to home that I turn to most often.

Moving every few years leaves you a perpetual newcomer, always trying to locate something. For me, it’s important to add finding a space to breathe into my explorations of a new area. Sometimes it can be difficult to find a place close by that allows you to get away from it all – a place that gives you a sense of inner peace.  That is one of my great joys when I explore. Finding a place that is still and quiet that allows me to simply be, to simply breath. Solitary paths in the woods exhilarate me, but it’s not always a possibility. I try to find some space in each day to breathe simply by taking time to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee in the quiet stillness of the early morning.

Some days though, I need to get out. I need to explore. I need to shake up the routine and rhythm of everyday life. I need to find someplace wild, someplace calm, someplace new to hear the myself think over the day-to-day necessities.

Living in Germany is a great place if you’re looking for breathing space. Both of the towns I lived in were small towns in a rural setting, offering a multitude of beautiful green spaces to explore. You were guaranteed to find someplace quiet. Someplace where you were the only one around. I loved exploring the trails and the woods. Even though I have a terrible sense of direction, I rarely got lost. The trails in Germany are usually well-marked.

When we moved to Rome, one of the things I feared was that in this giant city, I would never find a quiet place to breath. I was wrong. You may not think of green spaces and quiet places, but they are there. If you know where to look. I don’t begin to think I’ve unlocked all of the secrets of the quiet places of Rome in just 9 months, but I have found a few places where I can breathe.

Here are just a few of the many breathing spaces I found in Germany:

And here are a few of the breathing spaces I’ve found in Rome. So far.

If you’d like to explore the way others view this topic, visit Where’s My Backpack? Travel Theme Breathe

Let me take you back in time to a cold midwinter’s eve early in 2011. It is early in our second calendar year living in a small German town in Southern Baden-Württemberg, and we are in the midst of our first pre-Lenten celebration in Germany. It is the last night of Fasching and the witches are jumping over a bonfire. …

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Friday Photo: Alphabet

January 22, 2016

This week, the WordPress Photo Challenge takes on the theme of Alphabet

In his children’s book “From on beyond Zebra!”, Dr. Seuss writes about a character whose alphabet does not end with the letter Z, but goes on to include a smattering of the fanciful words and creatures Dr. Seuss is known for. At the end of the alphabet, little Conrad Cornelius o’Donald o’Dell is just learning his letters. When he reaches the letter Z, the narrator takes him on a tour of the letters beyond Z, the ones that most people don’t bother to learn. As the narrator explains:


“You can stop, if you want, with the Z.

Because most people stop with the Z.

But not me!!!

In the places I go, there are things that I see

That I never could spell if I stopped with the Z.

I’m telling you this ‘cause you’re one of my friends.

My alphabet starts where your alphabet ends!”

From On Beyond Zebra! by Dr. Seuss (1955)


Themes like the arbitrary nature of language and the alphabet itself, the importance of creativity, the value of imagination, and the importance of continuing to look beyond what is known. Dr. Seuss is an incomparable genius of children’s literature, surreptitiously drawing the reader through several entertaining and thought-provoking elements.

When I read this book, I realized that like the narrator, my alphabet has expanded, through the study of language and travel. My thoughts are peppered with phrases and letter sounds that far exceed the 26 letter alphabet I was taught in grade school.

The Austrian-born philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote “Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt“. The boundaries of my language signify the boundaries of my world.

Learning new languages has provided an opportunity for me to expand my alphabet, and my understanding of the world around me.

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When we travel, I become the designated family passport carrier. This makes sense, because at home I am the caretaker of all the paperwork that enters the house. Over the years, I’ve developed systems for controlling paper flow and important document storage, but I was still searching for the perfect system to handle all of …

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Friday Photo: Happy Place

October 16, 2015

I enjoy the city, I am at home in the country, I appreciate the ocean, but I love the mountains.

And while I adore spending time exploring just about any mountain, it is in the Austrian Alps that I find my happy place.

I must admit that I’m hard-pressed to find a spot anywhere in the Alps that I don’t enjoy, but the Austrian Alps hold a special place in my heart.

I love the people who live in the mountains of Austria, I have always found them warm, welcoming, friendly, and aware of just how fortunate they are to call such a spectacular place home.

The landscape is overpowering, it is a place that puts the world into perspective, and I cherish every moment I am able to escape to these breathtaking environs.

Whether it’s a hike through an alpine meadow, a swim in an alpine lake, or hitting one of the countless ski slopes, there is an amazing and unequaled beauty in the mountains. It’s no mystery to me why Maria (from The Sound of Music) goes to the hills when her heart is lonely.


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Travel Theme: Paint

October 15, 2015

In keeping with this week’s travel theme at Where’s My Backpack?, I thought I’d take a look at some of the paint I’ve seen around Europe.

When you think of paint and Europe, you probably first envision the masterpieces, then maybe the great churches,  or the magnificent murals. Perhaps you think a particular artist who leaves you mesmerized by their work.  I admit, I do to. Until I go for a walk that is. When you vacation somewhere, you are looking for what’s special, but in doing so, you often overlook what’s special in the ordinary things around you. One of the nice things about living somewhere new is being able to look beyond the main attractions of a town to find the beauty in everyday. To stop and admire how the people who live somewhere have added color to their lives.

Some of the most lovely buildings I’ve seen were simpler than the grand palaces and cathedrals, yet no less beautiful.


Even in the mountains, paint adds a touch of color and accentuates the beauty around every corner of a trail.

And of course no painted tale would be complete without a few fishing boats.


For more examples of paint in travels, head over to Where’s My Backpack?

Travel Theme: Intense

October 3, 2015

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To travel is to live intensely. You are constantly inundated by new sights, new sounds, new smells, new languages, and new experiences. To travel is to learn intensely. History leaves the pages when you see the places, walk in the footsteps, visualize the realities of the people who lived their lives in times that shaped the world.

Travel can elicit intense emotions, especially when you encounter memorials. In Europe, you’ll pass a memorial in nearly every town. There are war memorials, memorials to Christian Martyrs, memorials to victims of plague, to victims of communism, and to victims of the holocaust. There are large memorials, and small memorials, memorials that are well-known and well-attended, and memorials that are all but forgotten.

The travel theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? is intense, and I wanted to focus on one of the most intense memorials I’ve observed. The story behind the memorial is a lesser known event in the history of World War II, intense in its callousness. The memorial itself is simple, and the intensity lies in the simplicity of design, of what is given to you to interpret. The memorial is Budapest’s Shoes on the Danube.

Within sight of the Chain Bridge, in the shadow of the Hungarian Parliament Building and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, sixty pairs of metal shoes line the banks of the Danube. They remain a silent reminder of a horrific period of history. The monument was erected in 2005, conceived by film-maker Can Togay and sculptor Gyula Pauer to honor the memories of the Hungarian Jews who were lined up and shot by the Arrow Cross Militia on the banks of the Danube River between 1944 and 1945. The location was chosen to allow the Danube to sweep away the bodies – after the victims removed their shoes.

The memorial includes shoes in all sizes and styles. There are men’s shoes, women’s shoes, and children’s shoes. There are work shoes, and dress shoes, old shoes and new. Standing before this row of shoes you are forced to consider not only the individuals who faced such an undeserved death, but the perpetrators of such a crime. Intense indeed.

Visit Where’s My Backpack to view more Intense travel.