Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Three Places

This week my post on Travel Tuesday is based on the following theme by A Compass Rose:

“Share three places… the place you have been that you have loved the most, the place you cannot wait to visit and something about the place you live in.”

The common theme I kept returning to as I selected my three cities is Art and Architecture. Both are deeply rooted in the history and culture in a city and have become part of my favorite excursions the more I travel. 

Rome, Italy

On my honeymoon I had the opportunity to visit Italy for the first time. I've always had a fascination with history, and for me Rome was one of the places I couldn't wait to see. I was looking forward to seeing the Colosseum in person first and foremost. I love that the developers of Rome incorporated early elements of architectural design as the city continued to expand. Perhaps stones from early buildings were reused in the creation of others, but the ruins still exist rather than being completely demolished. One of my favorite parts of the trip was walking from one historical site to the next. En route we would always pass through multiple piazzas with fountains. I also love that there are drinking fountains throughout the city for a quick drink or to fill up a water bottle.   

Interior of the Colosseum

Fountain in Rome


I produced a seminar essay on Iranian women and diaspora as part of my undergrad degree in History. As part of the project I read memoirs and collected oral histories from Iranian women. I had the privilege of interviewing several women from Iran that currently call the United States home. I learned so much about the religion, culture, history, and political conflict of Iran. It is my dream to visit Iran some day and visit many of the World Heritage sites and mosques that the country has to offer. The architectural achievements are astonishing and beautiful representations of skill that exist centuries after construction. I would also love to meet with local women to learn more of their experience and witness the beauty of a culture we are so seldom exposed to. 
Chicago, IL

Although I really live in the suburbs of Chicagoland, I attend graduate school in the city of Chicago. One thing I love about Chicago is the many museums, art and architecture that the city has to offer. Most often my excursions within the city involve a visit to one of my favorite museums or a self guided walking tour of the city to view the famous sculptures. Another favorite is the Architectural Boat Tour. The guided tour takes you up the river as you view some of the influential buildings in Chicago. It always amazes me how much the trends in building design changes the landscape of the city. I pick up on a new detail each time I visit.   

What are some of your favorite cities?


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Dublin

Ireland will always hold a special place in my heart. Truth be told, it was never on my list of places to visit before I started planning for my honeymoon. I had always dreamed of seeing Rome so that was on the list for sure. My husband contributed Ireland to the itinerary since he is Irish. To be even more honest, I wasn't that crazy about indulging his wish until I started to research all that Ireland has to offer. If I haven't mentioned enough before, I love food! I love to eat it, cook it, write about it, smell it, describe it, you name it and I want it. Unfortunately Ireland is kind of a meat and potatoes type place and did not meet my culinary expectations. However, Ireland does have a lot to offer: great beer, Irish whiskey, history, culture, ruins and the nicest people you will probably ever meet! And because they receive so much rain all year round, it is incredibly green and picturesque.

Our last two nights in Ireland, we spent in Dublin. We only had one full day to explore Dublin, but we took in quite a few of the sites. If you are in Dublin and enjoy history I highly recommend you visit the Kilmainham Gaol and take a guided tour. The tour was very informational and we learned a lot about the Easter Rising. Of everything we did in Dublin, this was by far my favorite.

Kilmainham Gaol
Of course, being an Irish whiskey lover, my husband insisted that we visit Jameson to take a tour. The tour was informative and even though I don't care for it myself, my husband really enjoyed participating in the taste testing at the end. If they ask for volunteers, be sure to speak up if you love tasting whiskey.

Jameson Distillery
After the Jameson tour, we had to try one of Dublin's other well-known beverages so we walked over to the Guinness Storehouse. Guinness is no longer made on site, but the process is documented along the walls museum style as you wind your way up to the top where you can taste a pint for yourself. We made our way up to the Gravity Bar which offers 360 degree views of Dublin and we enjoyed a pint of Guinness and relaxed for a moment. 

Guinness Store House
Following the tours of Jameson and Guinness, we ended our sightseeing for the day with a visit to St. Patrick's Cathedral. My favorite part was the Door of Reconciliation on display. As the exhibit described, in 1492, two wealthy families of Ireland were feuding, the Butlers and the FitzGeralds. One of the Butlers fled to a room behind this door to escape FitzGerald's soldiers. However, wanting to end the dispute, FitzGerald cut a hole in the middle of the door and extended his hand to shake in agreement. He was risking his arm, because it could have easily been chopped off on the other side. All ended well though and his brave gesture led to a truce between the families.     

My husband loves posing for photo ops, so he made the gesture of offering his arm to me, as his new wife, for any future needs of reconciliation. 

St. Patrick's Cathedral - Door of Reconciliation

Have you been to Dublin? Which were your favorite stops?


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Rock of Cashel

It is difficult not to fall in love with Ireland. Due to all of the rain they receive, the grass is always a beautiful green. Plus, the people of Ireland are the nicest you'll meet anywhere and the many ruins of old castles and abbeys make for a picturesque backdrop. On our way from Kilkenny to Doolin we made the side trip over to the Rock of Cashel to tour another medieval site. Just as all the rest it was completely beautiful. 

Beautiful Irish countryside

We skipped the guided tour because one was finishing up when we arrived and the next didn't start for another hour. Although, at the end, we heard the guide say that legend has it, whomever can reach their arms around the post (above) and touch their hands on the other side...will never have a toothache again. So being 6'3", my husband gave it a try and now we know, he'll never have another toothache!

I was really excited to see some of the farm animals in Ireland, so it was great to take a few pictures of the sheep milling about the ruins.

Rock of Cashel

Have you visited Ireland? What was your favorite site?


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Chicago City Sights: Cloud Gate

Two weeks ago today was my 34th birthday. I am a huge fan of birthdays and usually celebrate for more than just the one day. As I am in the midst of completing the last few weeks of my master of arts degree program, we took a short break over the weekend to celebrate in Chicago. We spent the night at the Intercontinental on Michigan Avenue, which was a perfect location for walking everywhere we wanted to go. 

There are a few sites we almost always visit when we head to Chicago and the Cloud Gate, or the "Bean" in Millennium Park is one of them. This is one of my favorite places to visit, especially when the weather is warmer. Over the weekend we lucked out with 50 degree temperatures and the sun was shinning so it was a great weekend to enjoy the outdoors.

The Cloud Gate is one of my favorite sights to see because it is a modern art piece that people love to interact with and I love to stand back to enjoy that atmosphere. Visitors surround the sculpture, taking photos of their reflections or using it as a backdrop. People walk under it and take photos from different angles as the inside somewhat resembles a fun house mirror. I've seen a variety of unique shots that people take either of themselves in the reflection or of friends and family. I love to see people interact and have so much fun with a piece of art work. No matter how many times I visit, it just never gets old for me. And you can't miss that great reflection of the Chicago city skyline! 

Cloud Gate at Millennium Park

And of course I took a picture in front of it as well, because I just had to show off my new favorite coat! I love the royal blue and I can't get enough of it!

What's a favorite spot you always visit in your local city?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What Would You Choose To Do With Your Life If You Could Do Anything?

A friend once asked me what I would choose to do with my life if I could do anything (and I'm adding without the fear of failure or financial worry). This is an easy question for me to answer and I hope I am on my way to achieving at least some version of it, someday.  

Statue of William Tecumseh Sherman at the entrance to Central Park in NYC

My dream is to travel the world and to experience other cultures and history through food, photography and writing. 

I would love to financially support my lifestyle by contributing articles to publications as a freelance writer, selling photographs, teaching courses or seminars, and even giving a lecture series or presentations. In addition to working (for income), traveling at leisure and enjoying the spontaneity of life as a nomad, I would also dedicate some of my time to philanthropic causes. Nearest and dearest to my heart are causes that support women and children and promote their well-being, education and lively hood. I believe that everyone has something to give back to society whether it is time or money or something else altogether.

I would love the freedom of being my own boss, taking any assignments that come my way and following my true bliss. This might mean living in one place for six months or a year or even as little as a few days to a week. I would love the opportunity to experience so many different places and then return to the ones that truly captivate me. I would hope to accomplish all of this by documenting my experiences and sharing them with the world to inspire others and to help people achieve their own dreams. 
So tell me, What's your dream?

I was inspired to write this after reading Latitude Adjustment's post, Question of the Day: Dream Job. Be sure to stop by and check it out. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Cliffs of Moher

I visited Ireland in September 2009. The one site I was most looking forward to visiting was the Cliffs of Moher. I had heard about how beautiful they were and I had seen photographs of them before so I couldn't wait to check them out for myself. I can say that the cliffs are just as beautiful in person as they are depicted here.

We arrived in Dublin, rented a car and drove straight to Kilkenny for our first night in Ireland. The next morning we drove over to Doolin on the opposite coast. Ireland is relatively small and it only took a couple hours to drive from the east coast to the west coast. We stayed at a lovely bed & breakfast in Doolin which is a ten minute drive from the cliffs.

I definitely recommend a stop at the Cliffs of Moher if you're ever in Ireland!

What is your favorite site in Ireland?

Travel Tuesday