Remembering how we all enjoyed the trip we did over the summer to Starved Rock state park. I really wanted to venture on another day trip outside Chicago, this time to see the beautiful colorful autumn leaves. Unfortunately work commitments, life commitments and rainy weather all combined to delay this trip.
I have sadly neglected this little blog of mine recently because life got very busy. However, now the kids are back in school and the after summer holiday chaos has calmed down so I am back to posting pictures and writing.
After our sun drenched mediterranean summer holiday in Sardinia we went to visit my parents in Wales for a week. Our house in Wales is in a small village called Catsash on the outskirts of a city called Newport in South Wales. When I was growing up in Wales I took the countryside around me completely for granted, in fact as I got older I longed to get away. My surroundings were too empty, too still and too quite. But now that I have lived in a city like Chicago for 10 years, I appreciate the slower pace of life that places like Catsash have to offer. The little cottages, the country pubs and the rolling hills, the peace and tranquility is beautiful.
For most of the week that I was in Catsash it rained. The dewy weather had made the green of the countryside particularly lush. On the few days that we had dry weather I took my camera and photographed the countryside. I hope you like the pictures.
One of the highlights of my summer every year is my summer holidays in Europe. Every August before going home to visit my parents in Wales we go somewhere on the continent for some rest and relaxation. This year the sun drenched paradise we chose to visit was the Italian island of Sardinia. I love going on summer holidays to the European islands – the shimmering blue mediterranean sea, the olive oil drenched food and mingling with the boisterous, sun tanned Europeans make a perfect end to the summer season.
After our four day holiday in Los Angeles, we completed our trip to California by flying to San Francisco. I think a more appropriate heading for this post would be “Hello Again, San Francisco.” This is an annual vacation we take every year over the 4th of July holiday, to visit my brother and his family in the Bay Area.
Every year, for the 4th of July holiday, we visit my brother Kaustuva and his family in San Francisco. We usually tag on another California destination to make a week long holiday. This year we decided that the other destination would be Los Angeles. I was beyond excited to go to LA. I had not seen the city since I was a child visiting with my parents on a trip to DisneyLand. The weather in Chicago had been so inconsistent all spring that I was looking forward to some consecutive warm days, feeling some west coast laid back vibe and just getting to know the city.
This weekend I answered the call of the country. If you know me you will know that is a very unusual statement for me to make. I am not a nature person. I lived in a house with an acre of land once and happily traded it in for a city house with no land because I could not be bothered to deal with nature. However, as much as I love the excitement and energy of the city there are times when the great outdoors beckon. Twice a year usually once in the dead of winter and at last once in heat of summer I start going stir crazy in the city. I yearn for the openness, greeness, slowness of the countryside. The body and mind need to be refreshed. My longing for the country was satisfied this weekend by taking a trip to Starved Rock State Park, a national park 100 miles outside of Chicago.
After 5 days in Florence enjoying the city, the food and the shopping, we ended our Italian trip in the perfect way with a 2 night stay in Venice.
We took an early morning train to Venice from Florence – a two hour trip which we slept through. On arriving at the Santa Lucia train station in Venice we dragged our bags and sleepily emerged from the station building. I can tell you, Venice knows how to make an impression, the scene outside the station is so beautiful that it gives you a jolt. The Grand Canal is right in front of the station with the water taxi’s bobbing up and down. Across the canal is a wall of beautiful buildings displaying the Byzantine architecture Venice is famous for. Sleep vanished in a second as we joined the rest of the crowd taking iphone pictures of the beautiful scene.
In my last post I talked about my exciting trip to Florence. In this post I want to tell you some of the dining and shopping experiences I had in Florence.
Love of Italian food is universal, everyone has a favorite Italian dish, whether it be a pizza topping or a pasta sauce -Italian food is eaten by everyone everywhere. Tuscany with it’s wines, olives and olive oil is especially famous for food. Truffles are in many dishes and are used as shaved toppings on pasta or as sandwich spreads.
The places we had good dining experiences in were Il Sanito Bevitore www.ilsantobevitore.com we went to this popular restaurant on our first night in Florence.The place was packed it seemed like the whole of America on spring break was at Santo Bevitore.The food is good authentic Tuscan.
I had visited Florence in Italy with my parents when I was about 15 years old. I loved the city and had always wanted to return. When my family decided that we would make a spring break trip to Florence and Venice this year, you can imagine my excitement. The renaissance art, the buildings, the fashion, the prosecco, the truffles, the great coffee – I was anxious to revisit this city, experience it and see it as an adult.
There are 26 miles of public beaches in Chicago. I will admit in my nine years living in Chicago I only started going to the beach two years ago. My son and I would go in summer, rent bikes and ride along the bike trail. During summer the beach and lake front in Chicago is a continuous party. Volleyball tournaments, bikers, sun worshippers, families having picnics and groups of teenagers there to see and be seen all inhabit the sand.