Category Archives: travel

Travel Theme: Mountains

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, this is an extremely busy time of year at work. My brain is working much more than full-time right now, so I have not had the brain power to do much more than the Tunes Tuesdays series here lately. But Third Eye Mom’s post on the Where’s My Backpack Travel Theme of mountains grabbed me, since mountains are my happy place.

I didn’t get to share any photos from our trip South yet, so I will use this opportunity to do just that. Here are my favorite recent mountain photos from El Chalten and Calafate, on the Argentine side of Patagonia.

My husband at the beginning of our adventure...Copyright JC Politi Photography

My husband at the beginning of our adventure…
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El ChaltenCopyright JC Politi Photography

El Chalten
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Perito Moreno Glacier, Calafate, ArgentinaCopyright JC Politi Photography

Perito Moreno Glacier, Calafate, Argentina
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Perito Moreno GlacierCopyright JC Politi Photography

Perito Moreno Glacier
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What do you think? What is your favorite mountain location? Do you prefer the mountains or the sea? What do mountains mean to you?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

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Filed under International, Photography, Photos, travel, Travel Challenge

Tunes Tuesday: Dixie Chicks

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This song spoke to me from the first time I heard it. Maybe because I had recently moved to Austin, Texas and was seeking out some wide open spaces of my own. The line “Dad yells ‘check the oil'” just really hit home for me.

This song tells a common story with wonderful imagery and emotion.

This week, for Tunes Tuesday, I bring you Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks.

Wide Open Spaces
Dixie Chicks

Who doesn’t know what I’m talking about
Who’s never left home, who’s never struck out
To find a dream and a life of their own
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone

Many precede and many will follow
A young girl’s dream no longer hollow
It takes the shape of a place out west
But what it holds for her, she hasn’t yet guessed

[Chorus:]
She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

She traveled this road as a child
Wide eyed and grinning, she never tired
But now she won’t be coming back with the rest
If these are life’s lessons, she’ll take this test

[Repeat Chorus]
She knows the high stakes

As her folks drive away, her dad yells, “Check the oil!”
Mom stares out the window and says, “I’m leaving my girl”
She said, “It didn’t seem like that long ago”
When she stood there and let her own folks know

[Repeat Chorus]
She knows the highest stakes
She knows the highest stakes
She knows the highest stakes
She knows the highest stakes

What do you think? What is a song that tells of a common human experience for you? Or a song that got you through a certain phase in your life?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

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Filed under Culture, Love, Music, Parenting, travel

Photo Friday: Frankfurt

The European Central Bank – I like the reflection of the historic building in the windows
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We arrived in Frankfurt by train from Berlin bright and early. We thought this would just be a quick stop on our way to the airport.

We were exhausted from all of our adventures, so we thought we would finally step foot on a tour bus for the first time this trip. We realized that we had not been in a car during the entire journey! How refreshing!

We took the train from our hotel near the airport, to the main train station, with the idea of hopping on a tourist bus. But when we got to the tourist information center, the woman informed us that Frankfurt is small enough to walk.

So, we set out on foot to explore the city. And we loved it!

We were too tired to go into any actual museums or anything, so we spent the day like locals.

We ate bratwurst from a stand outside the train station, walked through the city taking in the mix of old and new, ate pastries by the river, and finished the day in a residential neighborhood with one of the most authentic meals we had the entire trip.

The Bratwurst stand outside the train station where we had lunch
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We did not consult a guide book for the first time in weeks, and just enjoyed exploring the city without plans or agenda. It was decadent.

What struck me most about Frankfurt was the contrast of history and progress. Castles stand side by side on the same street with sky scrapers.

An Occupy Frankfurt demonstration outside the Central European Bank illustrated the ongoing debate about the European Union and Germany’s role in the Union.

It was delightful to experience the city without feeling like tourists. My favorite part had to be simply sitting outside in a residential area we discovered and watching the world go by. I hope we get to return and do more of that.

I feel so fortunate to have been able to take this trip. It was an extraordinary opportunity to visit places with such rich history. The museums and cafes and food and lifestyle were simply seductive. I must go back.

But for now, I will have to survive by looking back at some of my favorite photos. Here are my favorites from Frankfurt.

Castles next to skyscrapers – A great reminder that we don’t have to tear down the old to make way for the new
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The Occupy Frankfurt demonstration
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A cafe outside the Opera House
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One of the signs from the Occupy Frankfurt demonstration. I don’t know what it says, but I figure that anything with Millionaire and Democratic on the same sign is probably something I would be interested in
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The view across the river
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The Beer Garden where we had our last meal in Europe. It was a charming neighborhood restaurant where everyone knew each other. Such a perfect ending!
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Flowers from a neighborhood shop
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What do you think? Have you ever been on a trip and just decided to skip all of the tourist attractions and live like a local? When and where? What was that like? If not, does that sound like something that appeals to you or do you feel like if you are going to go somewhere, you have to see the most famous destinations in that location?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.      

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Business, Culture, Economy, Food, History, International, Photography, Photos, Policy, Politcs, Role of Government, Technology, travel

AMIGOS: Leadership Through Experience

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For one year, from 2008 to 2009, my husband and I lived in Houston, Texas. We lived through Hurricane Ike, which was directly over our house for about 7 hours; finding a copperhead in the bathtub; and a torn pup-ACL. It was not our best year.

But I also found Amigos de las Americas (AMIGOS) when I lived in Houston. I worked for this unique organization for about two years, fundraising to support their international youth leadership programs. This organization really touched me.

The people I met doing this work, from the dedicated and passionate staff at the office in Houston, to the parents and former volunteers who now serve on the board, were some of the most thoughtful and hardest-working people I have ever met. And don’t get me started on the young people who were participating in the programs.

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I had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua to see the programs in action, which was a special treat. I have shared some of the photos from that trip here and on my new photography website.

This organization is truly unique. When I worked there, we received letters from parents all the time saying that their child left home as an unruly teenager and came back a grown up. This was a consistent refrain from the parents.

Young people came back and talked about how much their world view had expanded from the experience and how it was going to influence the trajectory of their future pursuits. And I have met many former volunteers for whom the program did just that.

I was skeptical about AMIGOS in the beginning. I asked a lot of questions ranging from “Does AMIGOS have a religious bent?” to “Is there government involvement in AMIGOS?” The more I learned about this organization, the more impressed I became.

The intensive training that young people are required to complete in order to participate in the program should be a model for any organization or person doing international development work. The training requires kids to work through issues of cultural awareness and distrust of volunteers from the United States.

One very unique aspect of the AMIGOS program is that it is youth led and driven. Projects in Latin America are run by teenagers and college students who have been volunteers in the program. The training provided to the volunteers who work their way up the ladder to become project staff covers topics that I did not learn about until I was around 30. Topics include critical conversations, supervisory skills and budgeting.

This organization simply does it right.

I thought I would dedicate a post to this inspiring organization, in the hopes that there may be some of you out there with kids in high school or college, who might benefit from this program. Or perhaps you are in high school or college yourself and would like to learn  more.

AMIGOS just came out with a new video that illustrates the great work the organization does year after year. That is what inspired this post. But I encourage all of you to check out this organization’s website to learn more about the organization.

What do you think? What is your favorite non-profit organization and why? Have you heard about AMIGOS and considered sending your child through the program? Would you have fears or concerns about doing this? Did you ever participate in a program like this? What was the best part and what was the worst part?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

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Filed under Culture, Education, International, Parenting, Photography, Photos, Poverty, Religion, Stereotypes, travel, Youth Leadership

Photo Friday: Berlin

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Border between East and West Berlin, where the Berlin Wall used to stand. Most of it is torn down now.

After leaving the quaint, but bustling Amsterdam, we took an overnight train to Berlin. We stayed in East Berlin, just down the street from Alexanderplatz, which was really the heart of East Berlin.

After all of the beauty of France, Spain and Holland, East Berlin was striking for its lack of decoration. It was a fascinating place to visit for its history, but the sadness and anger were palpable.

From what we observed, the division between East and West Berlin still exists to this day. We spent the vast majority of our time in East Berlin, going to what we were told was the trendiest neighborhood for dinner and visiting the historic sites.

But it is striking to stand where the wall used to stand and to look to the East and to the West. The East is full of cranes and development, but I couldn’t help feeling that the West kept moving forward while the East was stuck in time.

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Construction in East Berlin

East Berlin feels like a savagely damaged city, just now showing signs of rebirth. The evidence is everywhere, showing a city devastated by war, and then severely restricted and terrorized during the Communist occupation. It is simply tragic.

There is a solemn beauty to the city, however, even in the midst of the melancholy. I share some of my favorite photos here.

For those who would like to read more of the history of Berlin, this 1963 speech by President John F. Kennedy is a powerful denunciation of the communist occupation. When you visit Berlin, you understand this speech much more.

What do you think? Have you been to Berlin? What was your impression? Do you think that East and West Berlin will ever truly integrate? What kind of impact do you think a history like this would have on a culture?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

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This has to be one of my favorite photos from the whole trip! I snapped this shot at a metro stop.

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A watchtower over Checkpoint Charlie

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The view from our hotel. You can see the Soviet TV Tower in East Berlin and the tall hotel in West Berlin. The hotel staff told us this was done intentionally by West Berlin to show their strength and contrast.

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An old car in East Berlin

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A powerful holocaust memorial

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A pretzel seller

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Berlin Cathedral

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Chairs in an historic East Berlin Cafe

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You can see the bullet holes in the old buildings

 

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Checkpoint Charlie now

 

 

 

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Filed under Culture, Economy, History, International, Photography, Photos, Politcs, Privatization, Role of Government, social pressures, Stereotypes, Terrorism, travel, Uncategorized, violence, War

Photo Friday: Amsterdam

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After a sad goodbye to Paris, we left for Amsterdam. What a lovely surprise!

I had never put much thought into Amsterdam and knew nothing about the city, but was wooed by its charms right away.

I got a chuckle after reading the warning in the guide book to look out for the “silent transport.” In Paris we were told again and again to look out for pick-pockets. In Amsterdam, the concern is the silent transport.

But soon after arriving, we completely understood what this means. Amsterdam is the wild west of bicycles.

We saw people pedaling as fast as they could through intersections full of other bikers, some texting, some with children hanging off of them and not one bike stopped to make sure an intersection was safe before going straight through. The motorized scooters even use the bike lanes – it is absolute chaos for a first-timer!

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I love this one because of the reflection of the bikes in the window. This was Amsterdam to me!

We were amazed that we didn’t witness an accident. When we asked the hosts at our Bed and Breakfast how people know who has the right of way, the response was “The person who looks the fiercest.”

Amsterdam is really a study in contradictions. On one street, you have peaceful, picturesque canals with rows of historic buildings. On the next street, you have the red light district, where scantily-clad women pose in windows, calling out for business.

The city is surprisingly urban, but geographically tiny. The smell of marijuana pervades the city and shops selling mushrooms and bongs are simply another form of commerce.

We loved Amsterdam. It is a high energy city with a little something for everyone.

Highlights of our trip included the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum and a bike ride through the countryside.

Since this is Photo Friday, I thought I would share some of my favorite photos.

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Parking lot at the train station. This was at least 4 stories high of bicycles!

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These were the houses lining the canals. They all lean forward and have hooks at the top so they can use a pulley system to pull furniture up and through the windows!

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This is a brewery that is under one of the last windmills in the city. The windmills helped regulate the water flow to Amsterdam, which is below sea level.

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Amsterdam canals at night

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We went on a beautiful bike tour to the countryside and visited a farm where they made cheese and clogs.

What do you think? When you think of Amsterdam, what comes to mind? Have you ever been to Amsterdam? If you were to go, what would you look forward to seeing most?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

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Filed under Art, Culture, International, Photography, Photos, Stereotypes, travel

Hunger Knows No Borders: Poverty at Home and Abroad

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There is an article in the New York Times this week about the increasing number of people living in poverty in Spain.

The article references the fact that the unemployment rate in Spain is over 50% for young people and that over 20% of families in Spain live in poverty. It tells the stories of people who find themselves forced to search for food in trash bins in order to feed themselves and their families.

It is striking to read about how dire the situation is in Spain right now, especially after having just visited the country. We were blown away by the food and the beauty, but this article makes it clear that there is another, much more tragic, story to be told.

As I read this article, I felt like I was reading about the United States. The article spoke of people who had never been on government assistance who are now accessing food pantries or searching through dumpsters for food.

So frequently, we read an article like this and look at it as an interesting, but sad anecdote from a foreign land. But the truth is, we can see the same thing here in our own back yards every day.

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The recession has had far-reaching implications across the globe. The number of people in the United States who are accessing public benefits has sky-rocketed.

Some people complain about the number of people who are accessing government assistance, including food assistance. I don’t understand this.

If jobs are not available and people are hungry, why would we not be grateful to live in a society where people who have hit rock bottom have a place to go to feed themselves and their children? How can we be so sure that we will not be the next family to come upon hard times, through a loss of a job or through a medical emergency that leaves us financially devastated?

I am honestly baffled and saddened by the lack of compassion in much of the United States during these difficult economic times.

What do you think? Why do you think people are so critical of government efforts to support low-income families? Why do you think people are so quick to judge families who have come upon hard times? How can people be so sure that they will not be the next person to need a little help? And how can we reduce the stigma associated with accepting government assistance so that more people can have a bridge to survive their current hardship in the hopes of eventually getting a job and escaping poverty?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

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Filed under Culture, Economy, Ethics, Health, Income inequality, International, Photography, Photos, Policy, Politcs, Poverty, Relationships, Role of Government, Stereotypes, travel

36 Hours in Baltimore, Hon!

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Water Taxi in Fells Point

When the New York Times does a 36 hour story on Baltimore, I feel that I have to add my two cents. I am a Baltimore girl, from head to toe. While I have lived all over the country, I still feel like a Charles Villager, who is happiest eating steamed crabs and going to Orioles baseball games.

It’s fun to see an article in the New York Times about your hometown – it kind of shows what your city looks like from the outside.

I love Baltimore’s quirkiness and flair. Baltimore is sassy!

I remember the first time I realized that Baltimore was maturing in front of my very eyes. I had gone to the then newly-developed Power Plant area, and found an ESPN Zone, a Hard Rock Café, and a wide range of other stores and restaurants in a previously run-down part of town.

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Revitalized Power Plant Neighborhood

I got tears in my eyes, feeling pride in my hometown. Maybe this is what my family felt like when the Inner Harbor opened in the early 80‘s.

I remember, as will all of my schoolmates, the excitement in the air when the Inner Harbor opened and we stood in line for hours just for a taste of Thrasher’s French fries!

I also remember visiting Baltimore after I moved away from home after college. It was the first time I can remember seeing people in bars in Fells Point who had not grown up in Baltimore. I realized that some people actually moved to Baltimore, instead of away from Baltimore, when they grew up. This was an illuminating moment for me.

For anyone who has not visited Baltimore, I encourage you to give it a try. People frequently tell me that they have driven through Baltimore on their way to Washington, DC. That is a shame. DC is well-worth a visit, but anyone who does not take time to stop in Baltimore to get a taste of its gritty character is missing out on something special.

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The best part of Baltimore – aside from my family, of course!

While you’re there, make sure to eat steamed crabs full of old bay and wash them down with a Natty Boh beer, catch an O’s game, take the water taxi to Fells Point for a drink and some mussels at Bertha’s Mussels, and check out the national aquarium. I am sure my friends and family could add quite a few other things not to be missed.

What do you think? If you were to describe your city or hometown to visitors, how would you describe it? What are some must-do activities in your community? Have you been to Baltimore? What is your impression of the city? What city or town do you identify most closely with?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

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Filed under Culture, Food, Photography, Photos, travel

Photo Friday: Paris

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View from the Pompidou Museum

Paris – doesn’t just the word itself transport you to another world? As I mentioned in an earlier post, I fell in love with Paris at first glance. Yes, figuring out the metro system and where we needed to go was a challenge at first, but when we came out of the subway the first time, my jaw dropped.

We have all seen places that are described as “French-style”, so I was expecting beautiful architecture. But to see every single building with wrought-iron balconies as far as the eye could see – it is hard to describe. It is clear that beauty is simply the top priority in Paris, held in the very highest esteem.

I loved the cafes and the restaurants, the business-people and beautiful women on bikes, the churches, the plazas, the museums, the pastries, the music which seemed to be ever-present, the small boutiques, the bread shops, the cheese shops, the wine shops – I even loved the metro, which turned out to be easy to use and convenient to get us everywhere we wanted to go.

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View from our sidewalk restaurant in Montmartre

Montmartre had to be my favorite place. Even though it has become more commercialized, you could feel the bohemian energy all around. And while it was filled with tourists, I felt a kindred spirit with many of the tourists there who made the trip to seek out this bohemian enclave.

What I found so amazing about Paris was how charming and intimate it feels, despite its size. We did all the requisite tourist activities, but I would give anything to go back and skip all tourist areas and just get to know some of the neighborhoods. I will do that one day.

For this Photo Friday, I wanted to share some of my favorite Paris photos with you. I hope you enjoy the photos and are able to feel a little bit of the romance around every corner.

What do you think? Have you been to Paris? What was your favorite part? If you haven’t been, but would like to go, what would you look forward to most? Where is the most romantic place you have ever visited?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

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Plaza in Montmartre, Paris

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Stained Glass Window in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

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The Eiffel Tower, Paris

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Birds in flight outside the Pomipdou Museum, Paris

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Paris, France

For those wanting more:

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Filed under Culture, International, Love, Music, Photography, Photos, Stereotypes, travel

Travel Challenge: Texture as displayed by Antonin Gaudi

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Wall in the Courtyard of Casa Battlo, Barcelone, Spain

Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack has issued a Texture travel challenge this week. I thought this would be the perfect time to share more photos of Gaudi’s work.

If anyone knows texture, it is Antonin Gaudi.  If you are not familiar with this famous Spanish architect, I encourage you do a little research. His style is described as Modernism and I think people either love it or hate it. I don’t think many are ambivalent to his work.

I found that I really disliked the exterior of La Sagrada Familia, but that his work with mosaics and in houses was very interesting. All of it is over the top, but you really can’t take your eyes off of it.

So, with no further ado, I bring you Gaudi and my interpretation of the Texture theme.

What do you think? Do you like the Gaudi style? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it? Do you have a favorite architect or style of architecture?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

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La Sagrada Familia

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Inside of La Sagrada Familia

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Stairway inside La Sagrada Familia

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Outside of Casa Battlo, Barcelona, Spain

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Outside of Casa Battlo, Barcelona, Spain

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Roof of Casa Battlo, Barcelona, Spain

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A ceiling in the Casa Battlo, Barcelona, Spain

 

Other Interpretations of the Texture Challenge:
http://thirdeyemom.com/2012/09/15/the-texture-of-guatemala/
http://eastofmalaga.net/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture/
http://campanulladellaanna.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture/
http://scrapydo.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/travel-theme-texture/
http://laavventura.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture/
http://s1ngal.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture/
http://max510.com/2012/09/14/weekly-travel-theme-texture/
http://theurgetowander.com/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture/
http://imissmetoo.me/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture-land-meets-sea/
http://windagainstcurrent.com/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture/
http://cinova.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/travel-theme-texture/
http://lucidgypsy.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture/
http://windagainstcurrent.com/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture-take-two/
http://canoecommunications.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/travel-theme-textures-of-art/
http://therewildwest.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture/
http://lucidgypsy.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture/
http://ohmsweetohmdotme.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture/
http://lucidgypsy.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture/
http://gatheringbooks.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/photo-journaltravel-theme-texture/
http://shaanthz.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/travel-theme-texture/
http://memoriesaremadeofthisblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/travel-theme-textures/
http://rfljenksy.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/travel-theme-texture/
http://chasingbutterfliessunshineandfreedom.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/travel-theme-texture/
http://annarashbrook.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/travel-theme-texture/
http://ayearinmyshoes.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/weekly-travel-theme-texture/
http://50yearproject.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/travel-theme-texture/
http://joycannis.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/travel-theme-texture/
http://picturesinlivingcolor.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/texturefeeling-natural/
http://adinparadise.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/ailsas-travel-theme-texture/
http://ididitforjohnny.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/travel-theme-texture/
http://frontrangescribbles.com/2012/09/15/travel-theme-texture-2/
http://stephenkellycreative.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/ailsas-travel-theme-texture/
http://jobryantnz.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/travel-theme-texture/
http://jessworrall.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/travel-theme-texture/
http://lovinthetrip.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/texture-its-everywhere-can-you-feel-it/
http://francineinretirement.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/travel-theme-texture/
http://canadiantravelbugs.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/travel-theme-texture/
http://fourdeeroak.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/travel-theme-texture/
http://lynneayersbeyondthebrush.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/2944/
http://catbirdinoman.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/travel-theme-texture/
http://thewanderlustgene.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/touch-it-feel-it/
http://seraphim6.me/2012/09/15/travel-theme-texture-man-imitates-nature/
http://mothergrogan.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/travel-theme-texture/
http://quotidianhudsonriver.com/2012/09/16/travel-themetexture-9-15-12/

51 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Art, Culture, International, Photography, Photos, travel, Travel Challenge

Make new friends, but keep the old: The Champs-Elysees

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Arc de Triumphe – Paris, France

There is an article in the New York Times this week about the Champs-Elysees and since, as you will read on Friday, Paris was my very favorite city on our European tour, I felt that I had to write a little bit about this article here.

The article discusses concerns that the Champs-Elysees is becoming too commercialized and mainstream and losing the Parisian joie-de-vivre that defines French culture.

We visited Paris last week and it was love at first sight. Our first tourist destination was the Arc de Triumphe and the Champs Elysees. We walked the entire length of the boulevard and were mesmerized by the luxurious shops and cafes.

We ate the most delicious pastry I have ever tasted – or seen. I wish I had a photo to share with all of you, but this gallery of sweets, which has been in operation since the 1800’s was off-limits to photographers. The word pastry simply does not do justice to this decadent delight.

The New York Times article examines the influence of new chain stores like H&M and Banana Republic opening on the boulevard.

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Champs-Elysees: Paris, France

We did a Rick Steve’s walking tour down the Champs-Elysees and learned that there was a lot of concern when McDonalds opened.

Steves notes that McDonalds was only allowed to open as long as they agreed to paint their arches white and maintain a café feel, including sidewalk tables.

I understand the concern over losing the artistic and luxurious energy of this iconic avenue. And I certainly saw some signs of this deterioration firsthand. But I also saw the future compromising with the past in a way that held some beauty.

It is hard to explain, but as an example, I was absolutely blown away by the Abercrombie and Fitch store. The outside of the store – we did not go inside – was as beautiful as any museum. We did not learn the history of that building, but I have no doubt that it is a place with great historic significance.

Frankfurt was another incredible example of the old meeting the new, where sky-scrapers share a block with castles, which I will share on my Photo-Friday about Germany.

I find myself wondering how I feel about this. It was wonderful to see historic buildings being preserved and put to use rather than destroyed like we are so quick to do here in the United States.

But is it OK to have a McDonalds in a place with such a rich history? Something doesn’t sit well with me about that. Perhaps it is the desire to slow down the rapid pace of change. But can we do that?

What do you think? Do you have issues with historic buildings being put to use for modern-day services? Would you have a problem if a castle turned into a Walmart, even if it maintained the architectural integrity of the original structure? Have you seen any positive examples of old things being repurposed for new uses that could serve as a model for others?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

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Filed under Business, Culture, Economy, Ethics, History, International, Photography, Photos, Politcs, Privatization, Role of Government, social pressures, Stereotypes, Technology, travel

Friday Photos: Spain

We just got back from the most amazing trip last evening. We visited Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Frankfurt. I am going to dedicate my Friday photos posts to a different country each week for the next four weeks.

Today, we visit Spain. Our first stop was Madrid and we only had one short day there. But the city enchanted us from the start. So much beauty everywhere we looked. And it may have been the time of year, but there really weren’t many crowds.

We loved visiting the royal palace and the Reina Sofia Museum, but our favorite part had to be the food.

The yummy Spanish ham – we couldn’t get enough of it and wanted to take some home to our pup!
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More yummy ham in Plaza Mayor in Madrid.
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Our next stop was Barcelona. We loved the food and the markets in Barcelona as well, but Barcelona was really about Gaudi and Catalunya.

We happened to catch this Catalunyan tradition, which is meant to show strength and unity.
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La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain is a site not to be missed!
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La Sagrada Familia Almudena Cathedral, Madrid
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On the roof of one of the Gaudi houses in Barcelona – I wonder if the word gaudy came from this man’s work.
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We had a wonderful time in Spain and would love to go back. Next week, Photo Friday will feature Paris!!

What do you think? Have you been to Spain? What was your favorite part? What is your favorite Spanish food?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!!

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Filed under International, Photography, Photos, travel

Tuesday Tunes: Ramble On and Awards Galore!

Fall in Colorado
Copyright JC Politi Photography

This week’s Tunes Tuesday pick is Ramble On by Led Zeppelin, who may just be my favorite band of all time. I chose this song this week because I am heading out of town for a 40th birthday and five year anniversary celebration vacation to Europe!

I will be gone for the next two weeks, so this post is meant to keep you occupied while I’m out. I will honestly miss all of you when I am gone and I may even peek in from time to time to see what is happening in your worlds. But for the most part, I will be eating chocolate croissants and tapas and drinking sangria and champagne…and taking pictures!!

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions for must-do unique activities in Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam or Berlin? Have you taken any special trips to celebrate a milestone? What is your favorite memory from that trip?

I will include the Tunes Tuesday lyrics below, but I first wanted to acknowledge some awards I have received over the past month. My hope is that while I am gone, readers will take time to visit the great blogs who have honored me with awards and to visit the blogs I am passing awards on to. I promise, you will not regret taking the time to do this!

I have been honored to receive awards from some inspirational and educational bloggers:

Beautiful Blogger Award

Hugh Curtler

Narcissista.me

Sticky Notes and Quotes

Canadian Travel Bugs

Super Sweet Award

Grandmother Musings

Super Sweet questions:

1. Cookies or Cake? Molasses cookies or Snickerdoodles

2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Strawberry

3. What is your favorite sweet treat?Vacarro Cannoli!

4. When do you crave sweet things the most? 2 PM on a weekday.

5. If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be? Sugar 😉

One Lovely Blog

Le Blog de Marie

Sisterhood of the World Blogger

Magnolia Beginnings

Very Inspiring Blogger

Real Woman’s Health

Waiting for the Karma Truck

Most of the awards require that I tell things about myself that people don’t know. So, here goes:

1.)    I just cut my hair pixie-short. I do this about every 10 years.

2.)    I never took a math class in college.

3.)    I love cookbooks, but I really don’t cook at all.

4.)    I have lived in 5 states and the District of Columbia.

5.)     Moves have been easier for me when I moved for a life-priority and not for a job.

6.)    I love Fall and everything associated with it, as you can see from the photos here.

7.)    I have always wanted to be a Peace Corps volunteer and still think I may when I am older.

8.)    I have a photography exhibit at a local Boulder restaurant in October!!

9.)    I love mashed potatoes – have I mentioned this before? It’s pretty important for anyone who knows me to understand this fully.

10.) Age 40 has been a surprise, but a great one so far!

A group of us have developed an amazing community and I encourage you to visit their blogs, including Waiting for the Karma Truck, Musings of an Old Fart, Hugh Curtler, Carr Party of Five, Magnolia Beginnings, Real Woman’s Health, Talk to Diana, The Curtain Raiser, Healthy Warrior, Jensinewall, Serenity in the City, Where’s My Backpack and Life with the Top Down.

I really encourage folks to visit these exceptional blogs. I am inspired and informed every day by each of these blogs and if any of these blogs do not have any of the awards listed above, please consider yourselves nominated! I really love and appreciate all of you!!

A few blogs I have recently come across that I have really enjoyed and would like to pass along each of these awards to:

Dr. Bill Wooten

Lead.Learn.Live

Gen Y Girl

Paperkeeper

The Jotter’s Joint

Third Eye Mom

Polka Dot Palace

Zeebra Designs and Destinations

Rendevous with Renee

And last but not least, I bring you Led Zeppelin for this Tunes Tuesday

Fall in Colorado
Copyright JC Politi Photography

Ramble On
Led Zeppelin

Leaves are falling all around, It’s time I was on my way.
Thanks to you, I’m much obliged for such a pleasant stay.
But now it’s time for me to go. The autumn moon lights my way.
For now I smell the rain, and with it pain, and it’s headed my way.
Sometimes I grow so tired, but I know I’ve got one thing I got to do…

Chorus: Ramble On, And now’s the time, the time is now, to sing my song.
I’m goin’ ’round the world, I got to find my girl, on my way.
I’ve been this way ten years to the day, Ramble On,
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams.

Got no time to for spreadin’ roots, The time has come to be gone.
[Chorus]

Mine’s a tale that can’t be told, my freedom I hold dear.
How years ago in days of old, when magic filled the air.
T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her, her, her….yeah.
[Chorus]

Gonna ramble on, sing my song. Gotta keep-a-searchin’ for my baby…
Gonna work my way, round the world. I can’t stop this feelin’ in my heart
Gotta keep searchin’ for my baby. I can’t find my bluebird!

I would love to hear your thoughts! Thank you so much for reading!

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Filed under Awards, Blogging, Colorado, International, Music, Photography, Photos, travel

Photos Galore! Travel Photo of the Year Contest, Travel Theme – Silhouette, Weekly Photo Challenge – Urban

I love the juxtaposition of the photo challenges this week, at least in my photos.

Where’s My Backpack’s Travel Theme this week is Silhouette. You should really go check out her spectacular photos. She has definitely inspired me to take more photos of silhouettes. My silhouette photos are mostly found in nature, but after looking at Ailsa’s photos, I may need to change that.

Here are some of my favorite silhouette photos:

Patagonia, Argentina
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Patagonia, Argentina
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The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Urban. Most of my photos are of nature, but I was able to unearth a few urban ones, a few of which which I am sharing here:

Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Baltimore, MD
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Baltimore, MD
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Please don’t forget to vote in the Bucket List Publications Travel Photo of the Year Contest! There are 18 finalists and I have some stiff competition. I would love your help!

Perito Moreno Glacier – Patagonia, Argentina
Copyright JC Politi Photography

You can vote every day for the next few days. All you have to do is go to see all the finalists and click on this picture and click “like” or share to mark it as your favorite! You can send it to friends and family to encourage them to vote though Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and lots of other ways. It would mean a lot to get your vote!

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

Other Interpretations of the Theme Silhouette:

Travel Theme: Silhouette | Wind Against Current

Travel Theme: Silhouette | Lucid Gypsy

Travel Theme; Silhouette « So where’s the snow?

Travel Theme: Silhouette « East of Málaga

Travel Theme: Silhouette | rfljenksy – Practicing Simplicity

Travel Theme: Silhouette | Autumn in Bruges

Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Silhouette | Stephen Kelly Creative

Travel theme: Silhouette | tahira’s

Travel Theme: Silhouettes | Spiritual World Traveler

Travel Theme: Silhouette | mothergrogan

Travel theme: Silhouette | thirdeyemom

travel theme: silhouette | catbird in america

Waiting « primo piano

Travel challenge: Silhouette – dawn in the mist | Have you ever…

Travel theme: Silhouette « Healthcare Updates

Travel Theme: Silhouette | The Retiring Sort

Silhouette in Piazza San Marco | Beyond the Brush

Travel theme ‘Silhouette’ | Campanulla Della Anna

Travel Theme: Silhouette « A year in the Life

Travel Theme: Silhouette « Hunters Holidaying

Urban Silhouettes « Ink.

 

Other Interpretations of the Urban Theme:

 

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Filed under International, Photography, Photos, travel

Travel Photo of the Year Contest and the Booker Award

Heather over at Bitsnbooks has presented me with the Booker Award, which is a little different from the other awards floating around. I love any award and am so grateful and humbled to be recognized by my talented peers. I hope you will take a moment to check out Heather’s blog.

This particular award is fun to accept for a geeky gal like me. The rules for accepting this award are to:

1. Nominate other blogs, as many as you want but 5-10 is always a good suggestion. Don’t forget to let your recipients know.

2. Post the Booker Award picture.

3. Share your top 5 books of all time

First, I will post my five favorite books of all times. This is a tough list to come up with, as I have loved many books over the years, but there are a few that have really stuck with me:

1.)    The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)  – I have shared some quotes from this book in past blog posts. This book may have just come into my life at the right time, but I don’t think there is ever really a wrong time to reflect on what is important to you. The messages in this simple story are potent and powerful at any time of life.

2.)    The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) – This book knocked me over. Again, a story with a very deep message. This book delivers a strong social justice message and you end up feeling like you know and love this family by the end. I have only cried in a very few books, but the last paragraph of this one will live with me always.

3.)    Roots (Alex Haley) – This book made me cry from the start. It is an important portrayal of one of the largest scars on the American history – the fact that slavery was accepted and justified by our government. It puts a human face on something that most people would rather not examine closely. A very moving read.

4.)    Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) – There is something about this book for me. The writing is so lyrical and beautiful, my blood pressure goes down with the first sentence.

5.)    The Elements of Style (Strunk and White) – Someday I will know whether a period goes inside or outside of quotes, but until then, this book will be on my desk.

I would like to present this award to the following bloggers:

Hugh Curtler

Musings of an Old Fart

Waiting for the Karma Truck

Carr Party of Five

Magnolia Beginnings

Analyfe

Life with the Top Down

Real Woman’s Health

Writing Your Destiny

The Healthy Warrior

The Jotters Joint

The Curtain Raiser

Talk to Diana

Third Eye Mom

The Bookshelf of Emily J

What do you think? What is the one book that has really impacted you? What is the one book you have read more than once and why?

Please don’t forget to vote in the Bucket List Publications Travel Photo of the Year Contest! There are 18 finalists and I have some stiff competition. I would love your help!

Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina
Copyright JC Politi Photography

You can vote every day for the next few days. All you have to do is go to see all the finalists and click on this picture and click “like” or share to mark it as your favorite! You can send it to friends and family to encourage them to vote though Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and lots of other ways. It would mean a lot to get your vote!

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you so much for reading!

57 Comments

Filed under Awards, Blogging, Books, Culture, Education, History, International, Love, Photography, Photos, travel