world wanderer: Swede dreams

Surrounded by beautiful woods, Stockholm entrances with sleek style and a dose of Old World charm. Built on a series of islands, bridges connect the land masses of Sweden’s capital. Take an adventure with me to this beautiful Scandinavian country.

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Find new meaning to serving a cocktail “on the rocks” at Icebar by IceHotel Stockholm.

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Discover the inspiration for Game of Thrones at The Royal Palace. Curious to know the real story behind “the red wedding?” I bet you are…

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Unearth history aboard a 330-plus year-old warship at Vasamuseet.

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Commune with the wolves at Skansen.

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“Drop in” on the royal family at Drottningholm Palace.

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Discover a seaside escape on one of the many islands that makes up the Stockholm Archipelago.

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Welcome to Stockholm, Sweden.

Stop in soon for a closer look at each of these wondrous sites and a taste of Scandinavian culture. Up next, my latest dining adventure… You’ll never guess what exotic meat I sampled!

world wanderer: architectural gems in Chicago

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At the turn of the 20th century, the term skyscraper finally was coined. Chicago led the way in architectural design, creating the modern skyline. Now, it is hard to call to mind a city without imagining its soaring high buildings and industrial landscape. So, when we swung by Chicago for a psychology conference, I tried to capture the magnetism of these formidable buildings known as skyscrapers…along with a few other eye-catching urban designs.

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Greg, pictured at top, stands looking out on the deck of the Shedd Aquarium. While waiting in the tremendously long line (this place is wildly popular), I caught the aquatic details in the building’s ceiling tiles and light, as seen below.

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The Palmer House Hilton is a decadent ode to love. Potter Palmer originally built the hotel for his bride, Bertha. The Great Chicago Fire destroyed it completely, but that didn’t stop him from rebuilding in grander style, and creating one of the world’s most luxurious hotels.

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Marked by the steel globe, the famed Willis Tower, commonly referred to as the Sears Tower (it changed names with new owners), was built in 1973. It surpassed the World Trade Center’s twin towers in height, and held the title of tallest building in the world for a quarter-century. Now, it ranks as the second highest building in the United States and No. 13 in the world.

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Hope you all missed me as much as I missed you!
From a weekender’s guide to Chicago to Scandinavian culture and a list of Stockholm’s must-see sites, I promise my upcoming posts are worth the wait. Safe travels, dear readers!

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mapped it: best eats in Chicago, Illinois

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The Windy City has entertained us more than a few times. Yet, we still find new reasons to visit Chicago again & again. The birthplace of skyscrapers & deep-dish pizza tempts with high-end fashion & soaring buildings made for sight-seeing.

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Greg & I are making our way back to Chi-Town this spring for a psych conference.
We already have a few must-sees on our list based on successful excursions in the past to the Windy City.
& if there is one thing we’ve learned about this city, it is to bring an appetite.

Foodie destination No. 1: Orange Restaurant.

Fair warning, parking is an absolute nightmare in Chicago. Since we were in the city last for a concert, we opted to park at the venue for the day & walk the city blocks.  We were rewarded for our efforts as we stumbled across this original brunch spot.

Orange 4-jelly jam pancakes & steak salad

Ingredients from local sources, served up freshly-made, guaranteed we were in for a delicious dining experience.  The contemporary brunch menu includes a wide array of choices for smoothie combinations made from seasonal fruit, & we took advantage.  I chose mango, orange, & pineapple to create an intoxicating flavor.  We filled our bellies with homemade entrees, like the pancakes sandwich with a jelly-jam center, the chai tea french toast topped with carmelized apples, and the steak salad with big & tender meat portions.  We’re making this a must for our upcoming visit to see what other smoothie concoctions we can devise.

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Foodie destination No. 2: Uno Pizzeria & Grill.

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Bringing new meaning to a “pizza pie,” Uno’s launched the famous deep-dish style for which Chicago is well-known.  Baked in the oven for almost an hour, the thick pizza loaded with a cheesy layer is sinfully tasty.  Uno’s may be large to accommodate the steady stream of hungry customers, but it still very much has that pizza joint atmosphere with dark interior & tall booths.  The original location has hand-written messages all along the walls, making for entertaining reads as you dive into dinner.

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  As we countdown to our trip, I look forward to finding new restaurants to add to my best eats list.  Stop in soon to discover the must-see sites of the Windy City!

dream it: 5 inspiring travel quotes to encourage your wanderlust

You probably have dreams aplenty that keep your bucket list brimming with possibilities.  If you still need motivation to pack your bags and head out on that horizon, let these 5 inspirational travel quotes be your mantra.   Hit the road or hop a plane because the world beckons!

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-Ibn Battuta

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Author unknown.

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-J. R. R. Tolkien

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-The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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-Francois Rabelais

mapped it: Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice

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Venice appears almost like a dream.  Completely situated on water, the roadways are all canals while the alleys and sidewalks are all built with stone.  At every turn, artists brush paint on their canvases while musicians strum along to the rhythm of the water.  It seems only right to pay homage to the beautiful artwork housed in this picturesque city of the sea.

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L to R: Empor by Vasily Kandinsky & The Antipope by Max Ernst

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Taking an artsy selfie.

Come explore the rich artworks housed at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice along the Grand Canal.  This collector of modern art (married to artist Max Ernst) gathered pieces from Picasso to Warhol, Dali & Chagall.  You will find featured works of Expressionism, Futurism, Abstract, Surrealism & more.  Each painting, sculpture & photograph shares a unique story with its beholder.  We ate up the tales like they were mystery chocolates in a box.

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L to R: (Translated from French) Very Rare Picture on the Earth by Francis Picabia
& La Croix ancree by Antoine Pevsner.

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La Baignade by Pablo Picasso.

Get to it: stop off in the neighborhood of Dorsoduro by water taxi at Accademia (or stay a couple blocks away at a reasonable price like we did!)

Cost: 14 euros per adult.  Discounts offered to students, seniors, & children.

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.  Closed Tuesdays & Christmas Day.

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L to R: Flowers by Andy Warhol & Setting for a Fairy Tale by Joseph Cornell.

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L to R: Surface Developpable by Antoine Pevsner & Logogriphe aux Pales Jean Dubuffet.

dream it: Ireland

Happy holidays to you near & far!  I hope that wherever you are you look forward to celebrations with the people you love most in the world.  Here’s hoping you get many of the things on your wishlist.  Of course, there are some Christmas wishes you make just for yourself, knowing that it is up to you to make those dreams come true.  For instance, I wish to take a new adventure somewhere in this grand world.  How about you?  What is on your travel wishlist?  I’m dreaming of touring Ireland in the next couple years.

Surrounded by water, Ireland offers mysterious beaches like this rock bridge in Donegal known as Stroove Beach.

Considered one of the most beautiful places on the planet by the likes of National Geographic, Dingle Peninsula offers winding roads by seaside cliffs & sandy shores for you to dip your toes in.

Standing at over 700 feet tall & 5 miles wide, the Cliffs of Moher are nothing if not magnificent.  Plus, some of my favorite films showcase the cliffs, such as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  You can also catch them as the “Cliffs of Insanity” in The Princess Bride.

I fully plan on taking part in the tradition of kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle & earning the gift of gab during my visit.

Trinity College in Dublin is considered an ancient university as it was built in the late 16th-century.  The library boasts of literary wonders, including the Book of Kells.

Last but not least, a pub crawl through Dublin is an absolute must!  It’s really all a matter of deciding what pub crawl suits my speed…  I think a musical tour of Dublin’s brewhouses is right up my alley.

Dream big this holiday season & share your travel wishes for next year with me.  I’ll be back after the new year with fresh content, more European travel guides & additions to my city “hotspots.”  Till then, I wish you & yours the merriest of times & the happiest new year!

mapped it: top 3 reasons Venice is the real City of Love

A young couple visiting the city built on water stops in at a wine & spirits shop.  Grabbing a bottle to share, they are told by the shop owner, “You drink Prosecco, you make love!”  The passion-filled Italians encourage bold behavior while the city itself lends to a romantic ambiance by which lovers are sure to be swept away.  Welcome to Venezia, the real city of love.

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In a land where world-renowned lovers such as Casanova & Romeo existed, you are hard-pressed not to indulge in your amorous side while visiting Italy.  The sinking city however (seriously, it’s sinking, so you better visit quick!) knows how to step it up.  Take away the noise produced by auto traffic in a typical city & replace it with the soft sounds of a whirring boat or gondola rowing by.  Now, add in lush gardens & vines crawling up the sides of architectural beauties or pots of vibrant flowers lining each windowsill.  Imagine a nighttime stroll through this urban oasis & watching the city lanterns burn brightly for you.  Here is a lover’s list of things to do in the City of Love:

(Do not) add your lock to the lovers bridge.

This tradition’s origins are relatively unknown, but some claim love locks began back in Serbia a hundred years ago.  Much more recently though, an Italian novel called Ho Voglia di Te (I Want You) by Federico Moccia where two teens place a lock on a bridge as a symbol of their relationship has inspired this tradition to prosper in Italy.  Greg & I attached our pink padlock to the Ponte Dell Accademia (a wooden bridge with special metal railing for the locks) & threw the key over the bridge into the water to show our eternal love for one another.  Taking part in this tradition is controversial though.  Love locks have shown up all across the world.  From Paris to New York and Ireland, bridges all over are covered in this symbolic gesture.  Many love locks have caused deterioration and structural damage to famed bridges.  The Rialto Bridge in Venice faced this problem & it is now illegal to add a padlock to Venetian bridges.  However, the love locks are beautiful street art that you can easily admire & appreciate by reading the names written or engraved.  Maybe it’s time we come up with a new (less harmful) tradition for lovers: any suggestions?

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Take a gondola ride.

Seriously.  Take it.  You may think gondola rides are cheesy & a tourist trap, but there is a very good reason this boat ride is admired by so many.  Gondolas offer a leisurely tour of Venice, allowing you an up-close-and-personal view of the outstanding architecture & a chance to see some of the inaccessible parts of the city.  Expect to pay 80 euros for a gondola ride, which is the standard price for a 40-minute tour (although sometimes you can bargain for lower).  A few tips: a ride at sunset is spectacular.  If you want your gondolier to act as a tour guide, ask a few to find who seems the most talkative.  We preferred a quiet experience for us to enjoy to ourselves.  And make sure to ask the gondolier to take you down the side streets rather than the Grand Canal.  You will have a less crowded waterway as a result & capture incredible views of the city homes & sites.  You can opt to pay extra for a gondolier who will serenade you, but often on the side streets, you’ll round a corner to hear a street musician who seems just as talented playing for you & your lover.

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Indulge in one tourist trap: the San Marco Piazza.

Expect crowds of people & pidgeons.  This famed square is overrun with both tourists & birds, but for good reason.  (Okay, the birds are pushy & a bad result of the tourists, but nonetheless, they are entertaining!)  Shops & restaurants line each side leading up to the San Marco Basilica, so sit down for a bottle of bubbly or a cup of coffee with your lover & take in all the madness.  Let the lively music reverberate through your bones to give you a pleasant desire to sashay your hips & toast to this one-of-a-kind town.  Then, shimmy up to the top of the Clock Tower for a breath-taking view of Venice, the city of love.

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