Love this series of pictures. Check it out!
We lay in the afternoon sun, at once restless and content. Time passes slowly with one of us gone, our balance thrown off and the silence unnerving. Elena refuses her nap and I stopped trying to get her to sleep.
I imagine that outside our walls, it is cold, but I wouldn’t know. I hear cars whoosh past on the highway. Down the street, a door slams, sending my dogs barking in defense of the house and my baby girl into my arms, clutching me for protection.
The dogs are enjoying the closeness; little do they know, it will be gone in two short weeks, once I’m back in the office. Shane kisses the top of Cheddar’s head, and Elena bends and does the same, checking first to see if I’m paying attention. The sun turns her gray eyes blue and shines on her straw-colored hair.
At lunch, I spilled cheese in the oven, and a faint charred odor remains in the house. My daughter has a red line running up her leg where my ring scratched her as I helped her get dressed. Her nose is raw and chapped from Kleenex.
She is hosting a tea party with star-shaped blocks as cups, filled with paper clip tea. I helped her open the packages of paper clips. Sitting on my lap, she reaches back and puts her arm around my neck. There is a trail of paper clips spread down the hall, indicating where she has gone and where she cannot go.
Shane’s white hairs are on the cushions, blankets, my sweater, Elena’s knit pants. I know that years after he’s gone, we’ll still find traces of the millions of hairs he shed in our home.
Time passes, and the sunlight patches drift and shrink. The dogs move, little by little, until they favor a spot curled next to me on the couch. She lays her head on my chest, I feel her heart beat through her shirt. Her breathing slows, and I reach carefully for a book. I read a few chapters in the dying sunlight.
Soon we will hear the grumble and feel the rumble of the garage door opening beneath us. Shane and Cheddar will fly down the hall, whining and howling, and you will be home, and she will awaken and shriek your name, “Daddy!”
You want romance? Forget Jared, forget Fannie Mae. Hop on a flight to Marco Polo airport in Venice (or better yet, take the train in to Santa Lucia station, because, seriously, trains are romantic, and you may as well set the mood off right). For starters, Venice is definitely more memorable than some diamond-crusted heart-shaped pendant. That’s not reason enough? Well, let me elaborate …
- A trip to Venice is a trip back in time. It’s old-world Europe at its best– the city’s centuries-old history lends an unbeatable charm.
- Venice has a beautiful architectural fusion of Roman and Byzantine influence. From Doge’s Palace to Scala Contarini del Bovolo, St. Mark’s Basilica to the Rialto, you’ll drink in the beauty around every corner. How can you go wrong?
- It’s an island– or, rather, 118 tiny islands linked by bridges, set off from the rest of the country by an expansive canal. When you’re here, you’ll leave reality behind on the mainland.
- Venice is quaint — the cobblestone streets, canals, and complete absence of cars combine for this incredible trifecta — you’ll want to immediately sell your car once you return home (if you return home).
- It’s incredibly secluded, if you stay away from the tourist hot spots. Sure, the train station is overcrowded, and Piazza San Marco, but walk a few blocks, turn the corner, and suddenly you’re alone.
- Those beautiful wrought iron lampposts on the piazza.
- Cicchetti. Rick Steves will not steer you wrong. We set off on a giro d’ombra (a fancy name for a pub crawl) on our second night in Venice, sampling delicious Italian munchies and vino (the cicchetti is the origin of Italian tapas). We found ourselves in some very hard-to-find baccari, rubbing elbows with the locals, getting more and more lost as the night wore on.
- Speaking of getting lost, it’s unavoidable. The buildings are tall, the streets are narrow, and there are very few wide open spaces to use as points of reference. Embrace it and enjoy it. Getting lost is part of the intrigue.
- Venice is quiet, due to the absence of cars, and the absence of people, and the tall buildings that frame the streets. Good thing it’s walkable.
- It seems the best hotel rooms are furnished with beautiful Rococo pieces. I don’t care if you prefer clean lines– by staying someplace modern, you’ll miss out on the complete experience. We stayed at the Hotel Antico Doge and loved it.
- Harry’s Bar. Hemingway frequented this place, and all those American ex-pats from the 1920s who exuded romance. Just be sure to dress nicely and expect to pay $10 for a cup of coffee.
- Peroni. We spent a day walking the city, going nowhere in particular, stopping periodically at bars and cafes, and now any time I drink Peroni, I think of Venice. I’d recommend enjoying a Peroni at La Rivista, in the Dorsoduro, near the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
- The dueling bands on Piazza San Marco, and accordion music.
- Gondola ride for two. Need I say more?
- It’s fleeting, a sinking island. Someday, Venice may be our Atlantis. See it now before it fades into oblivion.
Venice is romance. More than Paris, more than New York. It’s compact and old and complicated and full of mystery. Explore it. Experience it. Just be sure to do it with someone you love.
It’s February, and winter has finally arrived in Chicago. Snow, sleet, freezing temps, negative wind chills. The whole package. Granted, it’s a little late, but its intensity makes up for the delay.
Everywhere I turn, I see ads for tropical getaways, lists of the year’s top destinations, and pictures of friends basking in the warmth of the faraway sun, on the beach, in bathing suits, drinking beers.
And I’m sitting inside my lukewarm house, wrapped in a blanket, drinking a cup of hot chocolate, gazing outside at my freshly blanketed backyard, and listening to cars make slush on the road.
And now I’m regretting passing up the chance at a family vacation last year.
It’s been almost three years since Jacob and I spent a week away from real life, relishing the California lifestyle in San Francisco and Monterey. And a heck of a lot has happened since then.
Yeah, I guess if I really wanted to, I could count our two months in New Jersey last summer as a vacation. True, we were away from home. And being away from home is a major vacation criterion. Plus, we spent our weekends exploring New York City, driving to the Jersey Shore, and laying out by the pool. Sounds like stuff you’d do on vacation, right? But that doesn’t account for every weekday (and some weekends, too) spent commuting to and from the office to work and make a living.
Plus, who goes to Jersey on vacation?
When I talk about vacation, I’m talking about a sand-between-my-toes, umbrella-in-my-drink, room-service-and-fresh-towels, not-a-care-in-the-world vacation!
It’s been three years. I know what I need, and I need one now.
It’s gonna happen this year. I don’t know how or when, exactly, but it’ll happen. And soon. Because I’m gonna make it happen. I’m not letting another year go by without any tacky souvenirs, photo albums and postcards to prove to the world that I let loose for a week.
That’s all it needs to be. Just a week. A little week. Heck, I’d even settle for a three-day weekend at this point. But why settle?! It’s been three years!
Chicago, I love ya, but this frosty February is making me crave something a little more, shall we say, Caribbean? Someplace with accents, spicy food, a temperate climate, beaches, waterfalls … Something that requires a plane ticket, a full-size suitcase, and is far, far away from my snowy backyard and my home office.
I’m writing this while sitting motionless on a plane, waiting to take off. Pilot announced it’ll be an hour before we get clearance. I want to be annoyed, but I can’t muster up the conviction. This happens every time. Standing in long lines in security, experiencing boarding delays, losing our position for take-off, being unable to find an open gate to taxi to and debark. It seems like, bad weather or not, I get stuck in each situation, every time.
I tried changing airports, but that didn’t help. Didn’t help to fly at a different time of day, either.
Everyone on the plane is so patient. I haven’t heard anyone lose his or her temper on this flight yet (although I witnessed plenty of idiots yelling at airline ticketing agents throughout the morning). They must all be used to the discomfort and ennui, as well.
Here’s hoping for a shortened delay and a safe flight.
I just joined this website for tracking my fitness progress. We had beautiful, sunshiny weather today, so I ran two miles– the most I’ve run in five months. I also joined a new yoga studio, so I’ll be attending classes regularly.
This could be the start of something good. Who knows, maybe I’ll start making healthier choices when I eat, too?
If I stick to my fitness goals, I’ll lose seven pounds just in time for summer vacation. Next steps: sign up for a 5k and buy a super-cute bikini as motivation!
Hi, friends in blogland!
One of the ways I plan to use this blog is as a trip planning tool, and this is where I need your help.
I’m planning two big trips coming up next year: one for me, and one for a friend. I want to go to the Caribbean, leaning heavily toward the French West Indies. The trip for my friend is to Australia and New Zealand.
Over the next several months, I’ll share discoveries from the planning process. Chic hotels, helpful planning resources on the web, and things I uncover during my research.
And I’ll ask you for your feedback.
I’m just getting started, so look for more to come. For now, if any of you have been to these places or know someone who has, please comment! I prefer getting tips from people I know and trust, and who know me.