Area

Easier than by country, this is by the region or area of the world.


Can an independent traveler find happiness on an organized tour? 1

Can an independent traveler find happiness on an organized tour?

After well over 6 solid years of days traveling on my own, traveling solo, going where I wanted when I wanted, seeing whatever I wanted on my own schedule — I signed up, paid for, committed to, an official 9-day tour.

I have to admit, I have been a bit of a tour snob. I’d watch groups of look-alike people follow a red umbrella or an orange flag, sticking together in a mini-mob, looking at what the guide said to, taking photos even when they seemed not to know why, standing in front of some monument for a photo just to show they’ve been there. That wasn’t my idea of fun or of cultural enlightenment.

Yes, I was going on a group tour. I was committing to travel with a group of people I didn’t know. I was facing the potential to be stuck with people I didn’t know, like, or have anything in common with.

However…
I knew this tour organizer so I knew it would be a worthwhile experience full of great places, people, and experiences…

One of many fabulous dinners with La RosaWorks Tours.

Deb in Prague train station

Side-trip from Bratislava to Prague

One of three popular destinations from Bratislava is Prague. It’s a relatively short train or bus ride. As I had not been to Prague or any of what was Czechoslovakia during my first travels, I decided that a couple of days in Prague, Czech Republic (as it is now called) would be a new experience and more worthwhile. So today, having relaxed and enjoyed much of Bratislava at my leisure, and knowing I needed to be back there for my friend Annaline to arrive and travel with me to Israel, it was the perfect time to take my side-trip.

I don’t always know where I’ll stay upon arrival to a new place but in this case, I had already selected and reserved my accommodations for the night. All that was left was to enjoy getting to Prague and making it my next home.


At home feeling at Palermo’s On The Way Hostel 1

Starting and ending each of my days at the On the Way hostel in Palermo, I give Palermo a 5 out of 5 for friendliness. Fantastically located on Via Roma, owned by a true traveler and staffed by helpful, enjoyable volunteers such as the great Matt from Wales. This is my recommendation for a hostel to stay at while in Palermo, Sicily.


Catania to Palermo by train, finally going to start seeing Sicily

My first morning in Sicily wasn’t where I had planned it. I’d planned to arrive into Palermo, but due to circumstances had to end my into-Sicily travels in Catania instead. This morning I would continue onto Palermo with just enough time to start my first-ever organized tour — Sicily’s Beating Heart Tour with La RosaWorks.

I woke up at 10 — only because I’d set my alarm for the last possible minute that I could shower quickly and still make check-out. Still groggy and with my coordination not intact, I started my day.


Stranded no more – out of Miami and into Sicily!

Once released from Miami International Airport by my Hero Customer Service rep I was safely in NYC. From there I had 2 more planes, a train, an automobile in between, and my own blistered feet. That got me to Sicily. After an overnight stay in Catania I was able to take yet another train and finally arrive in Palermo.

Deb on the American Airlines plane that the nice AA man got me onto.

10 Acres of beauty in Chace Park, Marina del Rey

Marina Del Rey, a man-made place of beauty and boating, is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. Burton Chace Park is a great place to enjoy its air and views.

If you’re traveling to Los Angeles and have the time I highly recommend Marina Del Rey as a place to spend an afternoon.


Bus from Jerusalem to Israel’s Airport

if you’re traveling light you can now take an inexpensive bus — 16NIS ($4) — from near the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem to Ben-Gurion Airport airport, the international airport of Israel. This makes travel a lot easier for those who wish to start or end their trip in Jerusalem rather than Tel Aviv. (Tel Aviv has a train that goes directly to the airport.)


Best amusement park in the world – people-powered!

In the forest about an hour north of Venice, Italy, is a 100% people-powered amusement (theme) park built by one local restaurant owner named Bruno. The story, images, and video is inspiring and amazing.

I certainly don’t want to visit Italy again without dining at Pioppi and trying some of his 40 electric-free rides amongst the trees. I think it must be one of the most unique restaurant/theme park experiences!


Touring Jerusalem’s Shuk & Nachalot with Chana Mason 3

I was lucky enough to meet Chana Mason and be invited on her unique “Machane Yehuda Shuk & Nachalot Experience” here in Jerusalem. The one and only Machane Yehuda Shuk (outdoor and covered) is THE market in the center of Jerusalem. Nachalot is one of the original areas built outside the city walls as Jerusalem expanded in the late 1800s.


House sitting in Tzfat Israel 1

This week I had a new experience in Tzfat. A woman I have known for a while invited me to her home. Then she needed to go away but she also needed to be here for the refrigerator repairman. So I got to house-sit. I cleaned out the fridge and salvaged food.

Sound boring? Sound crazy?
Here’s the thing: that fridge is in a stone-walled kitchen!


Buying Peanut Butter in Israel

This is for all the Americans backpackers and other Americans who are traveling to Israel and love our Peanut Butter.

As you shop for Peanut Butter in Israel, you’ll find plastic jars with screw tops like we’re used to in the USA — but you’ll also find a solid plastic contain with either a green or red lid.

It’s not the same as the stuff in the screw-top containers. See how liquidy it is.


Music and bonfire dinner in Qatzrin (Katzrin) Israel

Upon arrival at the comfortable Golan Garden Hostel in Qatzrin (Katzrin) , Israel, I was invited to the Bonfire Music Jam and Donation Dinner. After a fast tour of this nice, comfortable hostel, some great conversations and a bit of work time, it was time to head to the bonfire. I was hungry and ready, as were we all. This clearing and fire ring were an easy 15 minute walk from the Golan Garden Hostel. I asked what town we were seeing in the distance. The lights in foreground are Rosh Pina and those at the top of the mountain are Tzfat. After living in Tzfat for so long and looking out at the lights of other towns, I was now enjoying the lights of Tzfat in my view. It was a beautiful warm evening. Perfect weather, stars high above us. People from a variety of countries. The fire was even interesting. There was a […]


Learning about Fiji – in Israel

Today I shared Kava Kava, a traditional Fiji drink made from a root, with a great group of people from Fiji. I learned to clap my hands twice first, then drink it from their traditional bowl, then clap again.

No, I have not flown or otherwise been magically transported to Fiji. Fiji came to me – at the New Tiberias Hostel in Tiberias Israel.

This is what happens when you travel, stay in hostels, and say hello to other guests as you come across them.


Great Pizza in Tzfat, Israel 1

If you’re craving pizza while in Israel, you will do very well to have that pizza at Pizza Simta in Tzfat! Crispy crust generously sprinkled with sesame seeds surrounding nice-tasting sauce and cheese, freshly made right in front of you, then served bubbling hot!

My pizza standard was formed by growing up with NY and then NYC pizza. It was furthered by pizza in Naples, Italy. If I had pizza in other states or countries, I was unimpressed to remember it either way. For me to say I love a pizza is a pretty big thing.


0-100 in Hebrew — by age

It’s always important to learn at least basic numbers for countries you visit. Here’s the most fun you’ll have being introduced to the numbers 1 to 100 in Hebrew! And even if you don’t want to learn Hebrew, it’s a great video. It took Tom Ross and It took Maya Cohen three journeys to Israel to make this video. 101 people, one from every age between 0 – 100.

Counting 1 to 100 in Hebrew - by age

I created a real snowball.

My winter days in Tzfat Israel

I am working in a rooftop office and it sounds like there’s a tornado happening outside. Tin roofs being torn up and flapping. Winds shaking these dual offices. Freezing cold air whipping around me outside of the heater’s range.


A bit of Old City, Tzfat 1

I love my little forays up the beautiful white Israeli stone steps to Rehove Jerusalem, the main street — to the fruit store where large avocados and prisimans are 30¢ each, and of course there is great falafel. So tonight I am sharing photos of my short walk home. It begins in light alley. Rehove Jerusalem, the Main Street, is at right at my back. Then I walk down two sets of white stone stairs. And down another short flight of steps that lay before me in this last photo. The lit patio at the end is Ascent of Tzfat. As you can see Ascent is in the Old City. Just at the edge. It is so beautiful.


Slovenia into Croatia by train

I am writing this as I sit, alone, in a six-person compartment on the 3:10 train from the Ljubljana (Slovenia) railway station to the Rijeka (Croatia) train station. As I entered the first available train car, the back-most car, I was at first taken aback and disappointed by the car full of 6-seat compartments. The separate compartments can be nice, but I was disappointed because I’d hoped to meet people on the train. I’d met my Ljubljana friends on a train.

I don’t want to be leaving. Slovenia is a beautiful area, I enjoy Ljubljana, and more importantly, I love my friends. However, I must leave. Today is my 89th day in the Schengen Area and 90 days is the limit.

As I stepped off the train there was one other woman with me, I asked about a hostel and she told me there was one just down the road five minutes, but that was all I had from her. I will never know if I found that hostel.

Traveling from Ljubljana into Croatia

Šiauliai Lithuania to Riga Latvia by mini-bus

As I headed to Lithuania, world-traveling friend Esther Snippe “Facebooked me” telling me that if I was going to be in Lithuania, I had to go to Riga (the capital of Latvia). Due to the Schengen Agreement, my time in Europe was limited to three months. In all of my years (3 + 1½) of traveling, I had never entered a country and only gone to one town. That just isn’t in line with how I travel.

But Riga and its many fine Art Nouveau buildings beaconed and the Schengen limitations make me crazy — so I made an exception and went to Riga.

Want to join me on my 2½-hour bus ride from Šiauliai (show-leh) Lithuania to Riga Latvia?


Hill of the Crosses, Lithuania

The story of the Hill of the Crosses in Šiauliai is a testament to humanity as well as of faith. As I am not Christian, a cross doesn’t have the same feeling that it does to Christians. However, this is a show of people who, through the generations, fought Czarist Russia and then Soviet Russia for their freedoms.