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Africa, Consumer Advice, Europe, Lifestyle

In search of the missing parts of me

December 27, 2016 • By

There’s something to be said for knowing who you are and where you come from.  There’s clarity when you have evidence, documented or anecdotal, of which ancestor first arrived on these shores.  There’s closure when you can pinpoint the village that your forebear(s) left in their quest to seek a greater fortune or better life.  That is the story of so many who live in this country called “America”.  Unfortunately, it’s not mine.

My ancestors didn’t come here of their own free will.  They didn’t come to seek a greater fortune but rather were forced to create fortunes for others.  They were held as chattel, beaten, worked relentlessly from sunup to sundown, raped and dehumanized because some people were too lazy to do their own work, they would rather cross an ocean to savagely kidnap people from a foreign land to do it.

I had started my own journey into my past by signing up for an membership.  It’s not as easy when you try to review the limited documents kept by men who deemed it acceptable to own humans like the people who are responsible for my existence.  In fact, when reviewing the slave schedules, it’s a bit unsettling and hurtful to see your ancestors listed as property with no names… will have to guess if the male slave listed as aged 6 is that missing great, great grandfather that you are searching for.  If you are fortunate enough to find the right family that owned them, surmise the age of the ancestor and sex and where they lived, you will have a chance….otherwise, it’s not until after slavery was abolished that they are mentioned by name (which isn’t really theirs or yours – but the slave masters).READ MORE

City Views, Europe

Travel Photo Thursday – Paris, France

December 8, 2016 • By


I am sitting in the cab taking in my surroundings when I look ahead and see a partial view of a tall spindle right in front of me. I am overjoyed to see one of the most iconic symbols of the city that I have loved for so long and finally get the opportunity to see in person. I knew that my first trip to Paris was going to be quite the experience.

City Views, Europe

Travel Photo Thursday

November 17, 2016 • By


During our visit to Prague in 2005, we took this photo of The Vladislav Hall in Prague Castle. We were dwarfed by the incredibly high ceilings and massive chandeliers. We could almost envision the many feasts held here, centuries ago.

City Views, Europe

Travel Photo Thursday

November 10, 2016 • By


We’d decided to take a day trip from Rome. We’d just left the port in Naples and were heading to the “Blue Grotto” at Capri, Italy. Look at that water! My daughter said the color reminded her of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and I have to agree.

City Views, Europe

Travel Photo Thursday

November 3, 2016 • By

Inside The Vatican

Flashback to our first trip to The Vatican City in March 2003. It was so intimidating to walk these hallowed halls that we had only heard about on the news. I will never forget how resplendent our surroundings were and how fortunate we were to witness it.

Europe, Reviews, Travel Advice

The 8 Things that Surprised Me During My Trip to Rome, Italy

June 25, 2013 • By


The Beauty of Rome

Rome, Italy was my second sojourn into Europe. Having visited Paris the year prior, I thought myself very fortunate to be going back so quickly. I had been intrigued with Rome for awhile, mostly through the lens of a movie camera.

There were so many great films like “Three Coins in the fountain” and “Roman Holiday” that set the tone for my romanticized (pun intended) and lofty expectations.

As wonderful as the city is, when I finally got the chance to visit this beautiful country, some things were were not as I expected.  Not everything one envisions matches the fantasy, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have a fantastic time anyway.READ MORE

Europe, Travel Advice

A Review of My Overnight Accommodations On Megabus UK

January 3, 2013 • By


I’m always up for any alternatives to expensive airline or rail tickets. Earlier, I’d written about the Chinese bus companies that had cropped up to go head to head competition with the transportation stalwart, Greyhound. Roughly six years ago, another company begins to make waves in the U.S. by offering newer, comfortable luxury buses with free wi-fi service (though not available on every bus) and a small but functional restroom in the rear. For the longest time, their service was limited to the northeastern U.S., fortunately, they began to service the southeast by offering $1.00 introductory fares and the rest is history. Megabus USA is experiencing phenomenal success, much like its parent company in the UK which launched in 2003.

As I was planning my recent trip to Paris, I thought it would be nice to use Megabus UK to visit either London or Amsterdam while I was there. We opted to go with Amsterdam since the trip time was considerably less (by two hours) as was the cost (by £8 each way). Our fare for our trip to Amsterdam was a grand total of £20.50 roundtrip ( £10 per person plus a 50 pence booking fee which is charged for all reservations) and the trip time was a little over 7 hours. Since our departure time was at 11:30 pm this worked to our advantage since we would be able to sleep overnight and wake up refreshed in Amsterdam the next morning.

The Megabus station is located at the Porte Maillot Coach park which is right across the street from the Palais des Congrès de Paris on Boulevard Pershing. It is easily reached by Metro on line 1 (Direction La Defense). Simply go up the stairs and exit right outside the metro station. The Palais des Congrès de Paris will be straight ahead and the coach park will be right beyond it.READ MORE

Europe, Reviews

The Top Five Things to Do in Amsterdam in 24 Hours

December 20, 2012 • By


I have to admit, before my visit in November, my impression of Amsterdam was that it was a party town, a place to score mary jane and watch lots of live porn. Mind you, this was coming from a very uninformed point of view. The Amsterdam that I actually witnessed is the polar opposite. In fact, it struck me as being very family friendly, cultural, progressive, stylish and a historical bulwark of days gone by.

We’d decided that we wanted to take a day-trip while we were in Paris. My motto is if I am going to cross an ocean, I’m going to make it worth my while. So, what better way to maximize our experience than to visit a city that I had long wondered about after seeing so many beautiful pictures posted on various social media by my travel blogger friends. Maybe I should give the city a try despite the questionable reputation that preceded it?READ MORE

Europe, Reviews, Travel Advice, Trip Reports

A Review Of Two Sisters, The Hotel Taylor and Hotel L’Annexe in Paris, France

December 10, 2012 • By

Hotel Taylor


There is nothing more comforting when you visit a city far away from home than knowing that your newer and more temporary digs offers you that same warmth and familiarity. I felt that way as soon as I found my way to the second and third hotels that we would be staying at in Paris, France. I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary; a clean room with a comfortable bed were the limits to what I had hoped for.

Hotel Taylor would be the first of the twin or sister hotels that we would have the pleasure of staying during our last two days in Paris. The second was right next door, the Hotel L’Annexe. While they were both owned by the same couple, that is where the physical similarities ended. Both hotels were immaculate and traditional, very much what you would expect from a European boutique hotel. They are modern in the sense that all conveniences were provided like television, a buffet breakfast (at an additional cost of 15 euros) and updated bathrooms. Plush and comfortable mattresses were juxtaposed with traditional, period furniture, which seemed to give guests the best of both worlds.READ MORE