Sunday, June 10, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
There are some FANATICAL Disney folks on this ship and I don't mean those under three feet. Come on, you know them. In fact you might be one. Their future always includes the next Disney destination. I just don't understand it but I guess I don't need to. I guess I also didn't understand all they hype about Joey Fatone and Kim Johnson being on board. It doesn't help that I was too old for the whole N'Sync thing and out of the country for the whole "Dancing with the Stars" thing.
It had me thinking...who would I really be star-struck by? I like to think I wouldn't be fazed but I don't know...I'm still thinking.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
The golf course in Edinburgh, Braid Hills, was interesting. Most courses in Ireland and Scotland are walking, there aren't any golf carts, this was one of them. And I can see why, there would be no way a golf cart could navigate this path.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
I am constantly thinking about things to do. All of my kids will be in school this Fall. And while I won't have loads more time for myself, there will be a few more hours in the day I would like to occupy with something new. Maybe college courses, piano lessons, volunteer work, creating a family travel website, are just a few ideas. What are some of things you look forward to doing or starting when the time is right?
Thursday, May 10, 2007
I have so many travel blogs to write and pictures to post but even the thought of it is exhausting so instead I bring you these: Curly Wurly They are reminiscent of the Marathon bar from long ago but without the waxy chocolate. This chocolate is creamy and with the caramel is very, very yummy. I don't know if these are available in the States but if you see one, try it. If you can't find them and think you might need one, let me know.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
We flew into Milan and took the three hour train to Venice. Here we met our good friends, Wendy and Eric for a week in Italy. We spent three days in Venice. We stayed at the Hotel Al Piave, which I definitely recommend. The breakfast is very light but nice and the location superb. Infact, while sitting in the small lobby-type area, who comes walking in, but the travel guru himself, Rick Steves. A good indication, I believe, on my choice of hotel.
After arriving at the train station we purchase our Vaporetto (waterbus tickets). Venice is beautiful and the water mesmerizing and the buildings dream like but I, and only speaking for myself, would get tired of the restricting water. For our three shorts days it was a novelty but if I had to live there I would surely tire of it. And it is just as you can imagine it or have seen in the pictures. Old buildings with window boxes overflowing with flowers, narrow streets, stucco chipping away revealing brick underneath, large shutters, beautiful large doors. I remember seeing houses in Utah now trying to achieve this same effect. It just isn’t even close. What a perfect week to visit Italy, lower to mid 70’s our entire trip with bright sunshine.
Our first day was spent visiting the Church at San Marco square, feeding the pigeons, visiting the Rialto Bridge. The Church at San Marco is massive and covered with gold mosaics made with the tiniest of tiles. The floor is also covered with small tiles which I don’t recall in any other church we have visited. The kids and the adults had a great time feeding the pigeons as they flew up on our arms and even occasionally someone’s head. We headed over to the Realto Bridge that is lined with shops. Our friends, the Reynolds, are getting their first introduction to Europe, walking and lots of it. They had no idea, I’m sure, that there wouldn’t be much relaxation on this vacation.
Sunday we awoke to visit a couple of churches, Santa Maria de Miracoli and S. Giovanni e Paolo. We were able to see Mass in one and a group in traditional dress singing outside the other. Our guest overslept so we went back to get them and headed out to the beach. The Lido is a mainland barrier between Venice and the sea. The public beaches aren’t maintained very well. You would need to go to one of the private resorts to find a really good spot but the public beach was good enough for wading, a bit too chilly for swimming. We walked around the island for a while and took the 20 minute waterbus ride back to San Marco. After dinner Cameron and I decided to walk around. And walk we did. The streets are so confusing. The majority of our walk was trying to figure out how to get back to the hotel.
Monday morning we headed over to the Doge’s palace. This is the seat of government that ruled for 1000 years. It is a pink and white marble structure with apartments, assembly rooms, and the bridge of Sighs that leads to the prisons. We all enjoyed this tour. We then headed over to a Franciscan church, ate a good and cheap lunch at Pizzaria Alle Oche. It is the only restaurant I can recommend. We didn’t have really good food in Venice. We went over to the Ca’ Rezzonico. A home of affluent Venetians. A life of indulgence and enormous rooms. After a small break we headed out for our last dinner in Venice and the obligatory gondola ride. The rides are expensive, about 80 euro for 35 minutes and they get more expensive from there. But it was nice and the kids loved it.
Venice was nice. I didn’t realize how quiet it was until we went to Florence the following day and then I really appreciated the lack of motorized vehicles. Venice was quiet and charming but I must go against the tide and say it wasn’t one of my favorite destinations in Europe.
Pictures should be posted tomorrow www.beantracker.phanfare.com
Sunday, April 01, 2007
I will let the photos tell the story but the weather was great and again so easy to get around, communicate (I am so glad that English is a universal language, well in larger European cities at least), and no strange foods to contend with.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
I have not accomplished many of my dreams
Yet, I don’t feel unfulfilled.
It was as if there were different dreams awaiting me
That I could not imagine
I have just followed this path
With a listening heart and a wandering soul
I am surrounded by love and friendship
Yet I did not dream this for myself
I have been blessed with an abundance
Yet I did not dream this for myself
I have gone to faraway places that I did not know existed
Yet I did not dream this for myself
Someone’s dreams for me are bigger than my own
And I recognize Him and feel comfortable following His lead
I did not dream this for myself
And that is a dream come true.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Jay’s parents came into town for 10 days and we are so happy to have them here. We spent the first three days letting them acclimate and touring around
Anyway, the dinner was great in Killarney. The following day we went to see the Muckross house but unfortunately it was closed until April. So we hired a jaunting cart (pony cart) to see the waterfall. The guy that took us up I am convinced is a leprechaun. Listening to him sing and talk was like flipping through a television station every 5 seconds. He knew about 5 words to 15000 songs. But it was entertaining and interesting enough. The falls were gorgeous but he kept reminding us they were not Niagara. We headed out of town and missed the turn off for the Ross castle so we will have to catch that with the kids. We drove on towards Ennis, sort of a layover destination on the way to
This drive didn’t include as spectacular scenery but still beautiful and continued through all the quaint towns with their colorful store fronts and large signage. For some strange reason, the Irish are not afraid to paint their homes and business, ANY color. Bright purple was my favorite but yellow paint seems to be a best seller. There isn’t much cultivation and the only livestock you see are occasional cows (never a herd) and mostly sheep. Our hotel in Ennis was the
We headed towards our final destination,
Now, our accommodations for
We had a superb dinner and the next morning I was hoping to go to Connemara west of Galway but we first headed up to Cong, a village 45 minutes north in County Mayo. Here was where the movie "The Quiet Man" with John Wayne was filmed and with folks intrigued by that sort of thing we headed over. Well, the cottage was closed as seemed most of the sleepy town but it was a nice drive. We didn't have time to take in Connemara so we headed home to Dubin.
It was an excellent trip with wonderful beds, tasty food and great company.
Friday, February 16, 2007
~Being seven hours ahead we get to see things earlier like, New Years and breakfast
~We get to wear compulsory swim caps at the pool
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Friday, February 02, 2007
1) Despite my love of travel, and five years working for Southwest airlines, I don't like flying. It makes me nervous and anxious.
2) As a freshman in highschool we had to write a report on the career that we wanted. I wanted to be a television journalist. For some reason, I was researching how Barbara Walters got into the industry and decided to call her. What?! I think I called the studios where she was working, they asked me who was calling and put me through. Barbara answered and was shocked as how I got transferred to her. She answered a few of my questions then directed me to the Who's Who in the library. The only reason I can think they put me through is they heard "Jodi"- apparently that is her daughter's name.
3)I once tried throwing change into a toll basket in Dallas without stopping. I missed.
4) I have owned 4 cats: returned one, closed the garage door on another, a dog got the third and the last one we gave away. No more cats for the Beans.
5)I have only recently joined the sudoku craze.
This was incredibly difficult. During this moment of introspection I can either not remember anything or I am just not interesting or both.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
It is with great honor that I announce the first winner is Melinda S. She has sent many packages and we are so grateful. Her prize comes from The Louvre in Paris. And fitting for her, it is this statue of Bastet, a cat goddess from Egyptian mythology, circa 6th century B.C. Here she is portrayed with her kittens symbolizing maternal love but a watchful expression ready to attack if necessary. There are many legends of this goddess but we will leave it at this gentle one and not the "female devourer" which is the literal meaning of Bastet.
One thing we have found is that food is just better here in Europe, especially the sweets. For Mitch, we have the famed and very yummy official Mozart candy "Mozarkugeln" it has a core of pistachio and almond marzipan surrounded by nougat and covered in bittersweet chocolate. It was invented in Salzburg in 1890 and named after Mozart who was born there. While I wasn't able to get the original Mozarkugeln recognized by the blue and silver packaging this is still very good. Enjoy!
Chocolate covered wafers from Manner's, delicious meringue, and chocolate covered cookies with nonpareils (by the way, it is a Dutch custom to put "sprinkles"on children's sandwiches. Bread with nutella and "sprinkles" we will try that tomorrow) but I digress, all in a cute Christmas tin for Derek. Thanks for the card and the pancake mix!
These wafers from Manner are soooooo good. The original ones with hazelnut are addictive. I am so glad to be able to give these to Jed and Nyla for sending a card all the way to Ireland.
A cute card with kids that are growing so fast from Travis earned him these great mugs. 4 awesome colors with fun prints which we picked up in Spain.
I hope you all enjoy your gifts. Let me know here:)
Monday, January 08, 2007
We were able to see two shows on the West End. I LOVE live theatre. I love thinking that I could do that if only I could sing. And dance. We kept seeing posters everywhere showing Don Johnson starring in “Guys and Dolls”. While this wasn’t a real motivating factor (maybe 20 years ago, did I just say that? I am not old enough!) I did think it would be interesting to see him. So we bought tickets at the same day discount booth and although the seats weren’t great the prices were, half priced. Well, what all the posters failed to tell us, me, is that Don Johnson wouldn’t actually be appearing until the day after we leave. So, no Sonny Crockett but it was still entertaining. The second show was “Blood Brothers” which has been running for 20 years and spent a couple of years on Broadway. It was a more serious and sad show with a bit of humor but we liked it as well.
Right now is a great time to be shopping in London assuming your currency of choice is the Pound. There were great sales everywhere but after doing the conversion to dollars it just didn’t seem like a great deal after all. We stopped into Harrod’s and the place was a zoo. So many people and so many floors. We took advantage of the luxurious water closet and headed out figuring we wouldn’t be buying anything there anyway. I had about 5 stores I wanted to visit: Liberty, Waterstones, a stationery store, Sephora and Designers Guild. Our first stop, Designers Guild where they were having a huge sale. So much fabric, bed linens, home décor, I was in heaven. However, Jay was not. While he was a hero being my shopping cart for linens, I knew I couldn’t torture him by looking through bolts of fabric. I really need someone to walk through the shops in Chelsea with me. The only other store I made it to was the very cute store of Cath Kidston. But both were such great finds, I will save the others for another trip.
Just as a side note on eating: We ate at a Mexican restaurant in Leicester Square, Chiquito, and while it wasn’t too bad, it wasn’t familiar Mexican. A vegetable wrap and shrimp fajitas with hardly a spice but that is Europe for ya. We had the Sunday buffet at The Blue Elephant at the Fulham-Broadway stop. Very good Thai food.
The weather was expected London winter but nothing an umbrella couldn’t help. I am thinking that the British are very concerned for my safety. On the elevators you are constantly warned “Doors opening” “Doors closing” “Doors opening”. On the Underground, painted along the platform as you enter and exit the train reads “Mind the Gap” with a constant recording reminding you as the doors open and close. Hence the the title of this blog. So my first glimpse of London did not disappoint and I am looking forward to going back.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
This is Gene Gray, Jodi’s brother, going to let u know what’s happening here in Ireland. I came over from December 24-January 3 to spend Christmas and New Years’ with the Bean family. We spent Christmas here in Dublin which was great but just felt different because their werent’t lights everywhere like there are in the States. Of course, it’s all about spending time with family and making sure the kids have a good time which they did. They had plenty of presents and Santa was very kind, also. I was able to attend church with them on Sunday, Christmas Eve morning which is the day that I arrived. I want wish to all of u, as the Irish say, ”Happy(Merry) Christmas”. It was a very long flight but well worth it. The Irish are very nice and outgoing people and the city of Dublin is a great town with loads(lots) of old buildings, bridges, churches, and pubs for sure. I will be putting in some of the words or phrases that the Irish use from time to time with the meanings after them. Sometimes they can talk very fast but I seemed to start understanding them but had to really listen hard if they spoke quickly.
On Wednesday, we were headed for London because ever since I saw Peter Pan as a young lad(kid), it was a place that I had always wanted to visit. I truly love my sister and her family very much and am very thankful for the opportunities to spend time with them in such grand(great) places. It was Jay, Grant, Noah, and yours truly that took the road trip to England because Jodi wasn’t feeling well so Cameron and Tori stayed home. Hey, don’t feel bad for them too much because they will be taking the journey later on in the new year. For those wondering about Brianna, she was able to go home for the holidays to visit her family in Colorado. Anyway, we took the van by way of the ferry over the Irish Sea and had to drive what was supposed to be about 4-5 hours but took almost 8 because of the holiday traffic. The drive was worth the sight-seeing because we were able to drive down part of the coast which was amazing with water on one side and rolling hills plus mountains on the other. There were some castles and some terrific views of the countryside with horses and lots of sheep. We were on the motorway(freeway) for most of the time with some country roads mixed in between.
We arrived in London at approximately 9 p.m. and stayed at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel which was just sensational. The building was very old but had been refurbished in 1998 which had a beautiful courtyard and staircases that had several different kinds of marble. It was very lovely(nice). We went around the city on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday by Taxi, the Tube(subway), and the Big Red Bus which had an opening on the top deck. On Thursday, we took the bus around quite a bit of the city streets and saw St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, and got off on the stop for the London Eye. This was built in 2000 and it looked just like a wheel similar to a huge ferris wheel with big viewing capsules that went around very slowly to view the entire city. It was a perfect place to take pictures and hopefully u will be able to view some of them. The wheel went probably as high as the St. Louis arch with only one exception being that u could see everything from the front and sides of the capsules. It was very crowded and took about two hours to get tickets and actually get all the way around the wheel. We proceeded on by going to a merry-go-round for Noah, who thought that was the best thing about London. After Noah and Grant rode on the grizzly bears, the next stop was across the bridge to the Houses of Parliament with Big Ben and the Westminister Abbey. I had always wanted to see that big ol’ clock but it was even better than anything on tv or books where I had viewed it. The Abbey was exactly what u had seen on tv and resembled the Salt Lake Temple in size, just absolutely amazing. If u have never been to London, it is a trip u have to do someday, it is a lot like New York City. Now, one thing I will tell u is that with the exchange rate everything costs double what it does in the U.S. Many Brits will travel to New York City just to go shopping to save money. I never realized how lucky Americans are but trust me I will never take for granted our roads, grocery stores, shopping centers, and even gas prices ever again. Other than the high prices though, London is a lot like New York City with tourists from all over the world and their cabs and phone booths are very unique. We have a lot in common with Brits and are very similar in a lot of ways.
Anyway, I am starting to get tired of typing so I will go through this a little bit quicker. During the next few days, Noah got sick at Hard Rock Café, Grant and I went to the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge, Jay and the kids went to the Science and Natural History Museum , I went to Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, Horse guards, Green Park, National Gallery, and Trafalgar Square. On Sunday, we went to Kensington Palace and Princess Di’s fountain but finished off with what had brought me to this grand city, the Peter Pan statue. I knew so much about London even without that movie but just having my picture taken in front of that statue really meant something. We left London on the morning of New Year’s Eve and stayed the night in Birmingham but also stopped at Costco’s. So we spent New Year’s Day driving back and taking the ferry and returned to Dublin about 6pm. On my last day here, I was tired from so much walking so I took it easy and we went downtown to one of the oldest pubs in Ireland to eat or supposedly the oldest but I’m not one to argue when your buildings been there since 1198. I guess that really shows what is so neat about these places, they have been around for thousands of years.
My sister and her family are so lucky to be able to stay in Ireland for a year and travel to these other countries but they still won’t be able to see everything because there are so many places over here. But I’ll just leave u with this, U know u are somewhere special when, I am standing amongst these buildings I have seen on the tele(tv) or in the movies and I actually have to pinch myself to remind me that I am really here. I just want to let the Bean family know how much I appreciate the opportunity to spend time with them in such a believable place, I can truly say that can’t I…..