Last Day in Spain

19 Nov 2017 Gini Travel
On this last day in Spain,  I'm reviewing my visits here...
The colors that I associate with Spain are blue and orange--the sky and all the tiled roofs and buildings.
All things Spanish seem to be of terra cotta and marble-- lots of marble:  marble floors, marble walls, tiles of marble, stairs of marble-- slippery when wet--cool in the heat-- resilient yet breakable. Ancient and beautiful, what is older than stone?
Like agates, each piece is a work of art...
Though, the true prize seems to be the unmarred-- whitest of white-- a sculptor's delight and yet I prefer the colored and striated, created by nature--recording experiences of the elements---true markings of time-- more practical than gold.
My time here is waning.
So many sights and insights--I marvel at culture and people and history with hope in my heart.
It's a step out of time, being away and on the move.  But as I make-ready, I become excited about returning--coming home--gathering with family and friends.

Head too heavy?

16 Nov 2017 Gini Aging issues
Do you sometimes feel that your head is too heavy and your neck is too tight to turn? Remind your self to use your headrest and take advantage of the support.                         Here's where a little "self-talk" comes in--be conscious of relaxing the neck muscles that you are not using when you rest your head against something. In that moment, a release can make all the difference.                                                       Exhale the tension that has built up--really empty your lungs as you sit with your head agains the top of the couch or the backrest of your car--or wherever... It only takes a few moments to change your situational discomfort.  And the relief becomes worth the effort--believe me.

Don’t confuse stiffness with decrepitude

14 Nov 2017 Gini Aging issues
Don't confuse stiffness with decrepitude. Turn on some music and dance a little--you'll soon smooth out your moves and groove. Just because we are stiff, does not necessarily mean that we are arthritic or "losing it". When you move and stretch to music, you find a way to unlock those stiff, rigid muscles. Go ahead--try it--you'll see. Research shows that music stimulates motor cells (muscles) using a different part of the brain. During WWI, patients who were shell-shocked and catatonic, began to move and even dance in ways the medical community would not say is possible when they heard familiar music. Experiencing some polio-effects, I can relate.  When I walk, I seem to have more power and movement possible when I'm grooving to my tunes.

Fürth–who knew?

12 Nov 2017 Gini Travel


Fuerth, Germany Yay!  We decided to take in one more little town before flying back home.  Near the Nuremberg Airport is Fuerth (pronounced, Furt), a town that Ellioto had visited before; he thought that I might like it. Oh yes-- I loved it the moment I stepped into the quaint little hotel lobby.  Although part of the Quality Inn group— it’s called, Hotel Bavaria and has all the markings of a boutique hotel—including a brand new sauna—European style. Quite nice.  Large and sturdy, wood-framed windows opened into the night, lit softly by the street-lights, inviting in the old world charm. It’s always a good idea to eat where the locals do—so we followed the advice of the desk manager and went down the street to Zu den Sieben Schwaben.         It turns out that this restaurant has historical significance— on the ceiling is a painting which reads, “"Whether Heid, Jud or Christ, in what is thirsty!", "Wunderdocktor all alone, is the beer and the wine.”, meaning that it served anybody who is thirsty, regardless of religion or creed.  Somehow, it was preserved during the Nazi era. Spatzle —not your mama’s mac and cheese!  (your grandmother's, perhaps) Yum.  Incredible. I ate every bite of my spatzle/cheese dish, letting go of the cringe I’ve developed when eating so many empty carbs—it was delicious!  I’m going to attempt to reconstruct it for my next SnaZZy Threads Boutique Open House. Lovely Park.                  Feeling the need to bring back some fun clothes before I left Germany, I found an upscale “2nd hand shop” on Yelp.  Cutting through the park between the hotel and the boutique made the day ab-soul-utely magical.  The morning was dew-fresh and soft with an unworldly mist hugging the grass, enveloping the trees.  Discovering a pond, we walked quietly to better blend with the surroundings: ducks bobbing; birds twittering, a jogger passing through…     I was thoroughly charmed even before we approached the color splashed windows of the resale shop—and even more lit up to find such treasures within.         I chatted with the owner who confided that this was her passion—not her career.  Relating to her on many levels, we did what women love best—we bonded and laughed.    (Shop:  Einzelstuck) She told me of a cafe` where she suggested that I have my “auf wiedersehen milcha kaffee", (dark roast coffee w/ frothy milk) before Ellioto and I departed, later that day. “Ah oh—I just gave you all my euros!”  And no one takes credit cards. She smiled and pulled 5 Euros out of the cash box and said, “Have something good on me.”        Women. The best!      

Next SnaZZy Threads Open House:        Wednesday, November 15, noon-6:00 p.m.

In the clouds on Tenerife–our last day

10 Nov 2017 Gini Aging issues, Travel
I got up early so that I could have alone-time with the sun as it breaks the night into the early morning's light.
Far to my right, the shore begins to sparkle in coy flirtation as the sun turns its gaze.  A voyeur, I watch as he spreads his favor, lighting each little village in its own special time. This is the most rugged country that I've ever seen.  People told me that the Canary Islands remind them of Hawaii--but I didn't find that to be true of Tenerife.  For one thing, they seem to have more roads  and dwellings in precarious places!
Rooftop rentals beckon me to climb for the view. Urg--but once I'm up there, it's worth it!   (Is that a life metaphor?)
Ancient lava fields have given over to ambitious plants, greedy to grow, reproduce and change the landscape.  People follow--and lizards too.
Agricultura is huge on the northern part of the island.  Netted greenhouses stretch as far as I can see.  The climate is so moderate that the growing season is long and produce is really inexpensive--nearly 1/2 of what I spend back home in Ohio.  I just bought 12 perfect tomatoes for $1.13.  A quart of marinated olives is less than $3.00.   Olive oil is hearty and wholesome,  with-or without the crusty bread that I love so much! Rooftop rentals beckon me to climb for the view--urgh!  But once up there, I'm glad to have made the effort.  (Is that a life-metaphor?)
The views never disappoint.  (Photo below by my new friend, Manuel Ortega, owner of our Airbnb in Tacorante.)
Driving the island, I'm impressed by its variety.  The beach-seeking tourists and families hit the south-side.  Many snake our way up the mountain to see the volcano, Teide,  still vibrating and channeling steam through its spout. (FYI: If you want to rent a car, you must obtain an international driver's license-no big deal, you can apply at AAA and get it on the spot for around $20.  I can't help wondering: Wouldn't it be a good idea to offer relative traffic laws when rent a car?) One of our reasons for visiting Tenerife was for Ellioto to visit the solar and radio telecsopes.  They look quite futuristic and appropriately alien.
Tiende is a Strato-volcano, also known as a composite, with its cone built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice and volcanic ash.
The road goes nearly to the top where Ellioto took the cable car another 2000-3000` up to see the view and walk the ancient lava field--which is precisely why I stayed below in the visitor center/cafeteria. There a hostel up there and it gets quite cold, snowing in the Winter and breezy most of the time.  To stay, you must obtain permission. Driving here becomes a skill;  the hairpin turns are best described as hairy-which rhymes with scary-and it was at times!  Especially when the clouds wet the road and shroud the view-whew!  It makes for slow-going. Stopping for gas at about $3.50/gal, an attendant pumped for me while a charming wizened elderly man broke into rich baritone, singing in Spanish--dispelling my nervousness--making me smile!  Sometimes it's a challenge being a good natured traveler--but I'm up for it!

A day for myself on an exotic island in the deep blue sea…

10 Nov 2017 Gini Aging issues, Travel
On a day alone--on an exotic foreign island, what do you like to do?
Talk about delicioso!
Ellioto is touring the Observatario del Teide  (Teide Observatory),  7,840 feet above sea level!  The mild and consistent weather goes far in making this a great site (pardon the pun) for a radio telescope searching the skies.   More
So I have a day of solitude in a terrace apartment, top-floor-- just me and the birds.  (Im not totally convinced that these Canary islands weren't really named for these little warblers.)  
I'm blogging as I go...
I'd hoped for a bright and sunny day to take in some vitamin D, whiling my time on the outside terrace.
But when opting for rentals in high places, you surrender to the whims of the weather, like emotions that seem to surface unbidden at unwanted times.   Today, the wind is active, adding drama as it howls and whistles through the French doors, opened just a crack so I don't entirely miss the exotic trade winds.  It's exciting and relaxing at the same time.  Quite conducive to a nap!
The view is obstructed by the occasional wraith-like clouds passing over and surrounding me,  unaware that I even exist.  Gliding westward, they become indistinguishable from the ocean as water meets water.
Perspective is a lesson in such a place-both physically and mentally, methinks.
Last night, I argued that the lights we saw in the distance had to be stars.  
This morning I see that when you are looking from an elevated perspective, the horizon stretches out further --making it appear higher in the distance than it looks at sea level.
Yet I was so sure- a good lesson about what we call reality- it's is all about perspective.
And time is another perspective-- sometimes it flies and sometimes it crawls.  I'm eager to see how this time-out kind of day behaves!
Coffee, my standby (I usually pack my own-I'm guilty of being picky.)
1/2 papaya, locally grown, seeds scooped out and eaten from its own skin
1 banana, sliced onto the papaya where the seeds had been
Left-over Muesli, 3/4 cup, cooked yesterday and mixed with lemon / lime yogurt
(FYI: European yogurt is runnier than U.S.)
A good time to work out the kinks that come from traveling in the miniature car in traffic-- a little stressful, for sure.
And I carry a tool or two to help me exercise and to relieve tight knots.
Ah... feeling better already!
VIDEO:  Check out my YOU TUBE, workout--quick and easy ! Self-Care, a go go! Hydrate!  Yes, I am doing that too.  We are using bottled water here--when in doubt, we play it safe.
Catch-up time  on Blogging, Emails, etc.- one of my Big goals!
Nap-time!  Hour or so.
Lunch-delicious and nutritious
2 Canary tomatoes-small, full of flavor;  Chopped.
1 1/2 oz  nice hard cheese; Chunked
1 T White beans (Alubia, here in Tenerife)-2 T would be better!
2 perfect olives 
1 pickled garlic clove (comes in the jar of olives)
Dash of coarse salt
Sprinkle of coriander
Black Pepper
Just a few more stretches;  a little dancing to Youtube's Canary salsa
Ahi.  Bueno--  I needed that!  (Spanglish is when you combine Spanish and English and hope you get your point across.)
Hey!  How about another nap?  Why not?  It's my party.   Plus, I'm getting old(er), right?  Take latitude when necessary-that's one of my increasingly numerous mottos!
Gini PS I would like your help:  I made a self-care-on-the-go VIDEO on You Tube.  Your feedback would help me decide how--and if--to proceed. Self-care a go-go

Tenerife–yes, it’s Spanish territory

10 Nov 2017 Gini Travel
It's not possible to avoid expletives when your vantage point is 500` above the deep blue sea--complete with the stereophonic rhapsody of waves, ever-scouring the black sand shore below.  What else could be persistent enough to erode the dense, hard lava rock, belched forth then cooled,  thousands of years before?
Tenerife is showing off for us today, with just enough clouds to create an interesting sky-scape and a playful breeze dancing across the terrace, offering perfect temperatures in a place that I didn't even know existed a few weeks ago.
This Spanish island has been moody since we arrived- even chilly at times with its latitude being the same as Orlando, Florida.  No longer playing hide-and-seek, the sun illuminates the shallow shoals of the ocean's floor in the bay below.
Level with the birds, I watch them air-surfing, while in the distance, bathers float in the salty brine.
Did I die and this is Heaven? Tenerife is the biggest of the 7-island archipelago located between Spain and Africa, just off the southwest coast of Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean.  Boasting 785 sq. miles, it hosts approximately 10,000 tourists a year.  43% of the Canary population lives here.  Canary, by the way, is named for the dogs that are indigenous--not the birds: FYI.  (But weren't those dogs named for hunting canaries, I wonder?) Santa Cruz, its capital and La Laguna, the oldest city and its previous capital,  blend into a city congomerent-much bigger than I'd imagined.
I think every intersection is a round-about, making me a little crazy as I try to anticipate which turn is my exit!  I am determined to become expert before I leave, circling and weaving like a pro. Little fishing villages dot the shore, with  houses and buildings painted in tropical variety that shouts, "quaint and charming".
The fish is fresh and the fruit plentiful, along with enough vegetables to make a vegetarian smile.   Peaches, squat and small are surprisingly juicy and the bananas, though miniature, are sweet and nourishing for our not-so-early-morning rise. And the wine is local with vines aplenty in the northern area of this island.
We are staying in Tacorante--which is green and more lush than other regions of the island.  If you look closely, you can see our Airbnb on the side of the cliff!
In another blog,  I'll make a comparison with the dryer, southern half , as well as Teide National Park--a UNESCO site,  in the center-- where the volcano keeps watch!

Kindness in the Subway

8 Nov 2017 Gini Aging issues, Travel
Ellioto is a mass-transit-kind-of traveler.  He loves the hunt, the economy and the expediency.  So when we travel, taxis and Uber, etc. are considered only when public transport doesn’t make sense.  Sometimes we rent a car but usually we (he) study the maps and figure it out. Grumpy when the elevators/lifts/escalators aren’t working, I grudgingly pull my weighty luggage and feel quite sorry for myself. Often—not just occasionally—someone comes to the rescue.  I’ve had a young girl pick up my suitcase and deposit it at the top of the stairs as she hurried to catch her ride in London's underground—not even looking back to catch my thanks;  we had a rabbi turn around and take us in the opposite direction in order to ensure our safe passage;   once a young Turkish student intervened in our discussion to advise us that we were headed for the wrong train;  people who don’t even speak our language have offered us their cell phones and personal aide; in Istanbul, as we were trying to decipher a map, someone called from their passing vehicle, "Do you need any help?". It goes on and on… My point is three-fold:
  1. People are kind.  Most people are.
  2. How often do I (we) reach out to foreign people in our country?
  3. When I quit feeling sorry for myself, and go with the flow—I receive so much more. Not only am I blessed but I pass that along to them as I thank them with my heart.

The Elephant in the Room: terror in the streets

5 Nov 2017 Gini Aging issues, Travel
The Elephant in the Room: Traveling with terror on the streets I hesitate to write this post.  As the Good Natured Traveler, I prefer to view the world through rose-colored glasses.  I believe that most of the time, our expectations influence the events that we experience.  Self-fulfilling prophecy. But in light of the awfulness that we have seen and heard, around the world, it seems that bad things can happen.  Bad things do sometimes happen. “Every time you go somewhere, there’s a tragedy, it seems!”, my sister wrote following the Las Vegas, Canadian and French killings this past Autumn. Is that true? Two weeks following our trip to Turkey, there was the terrorist attack in front of the Blue Mosque,  where we reveled in the exotica of the area. Another one occurred in the Istanbul airport where we’d spent several hours waiting for a connection--how scary to imagine the scenario. Just two weeks following our trip to Paris, there was attack at the nightclub followed by the bombing in St. Denis, where I'd marveled that Marie Antoinette lay these many centuries.  (I''d hurt my knee and could not have crawled out of harm's way, had I needed to.) We had Irish coffee just across the street from the London Bridge attacks—only a month before that first hit.  Too close for comfort. I'm not superstitious, but it definitely makes me pause with wonder. Do we jinx the places we go?  or  Are there that many crazies in the world and our visits are examples of good timing? So very disturbing—yet most of the travel blogs that I read, make no mention of trepidation of travel in these troubled times.  Of course not— I get it: Who wants to hear about it when you are planning a trip?  The news inundates us already—and to contemplating bad scenarios could be self-fulfilling as well. But-- Perhaps the best thing is to face the possibility that these are troubled times. Perhaps it’s a good idea to take precautions that make good sense. Scott Smith, is a sergeant on the police force at Miami University--he's also my brother.   His masters thesis was about countries who live and make provisions for terrorist activities in their everyday lives. Proactive thoughts:
      • Avoid large crowds when possible
      • Stay on the edges of the crowd
      • Avoid well-known tourist spots
      • Take taxis rather than the underground metro
      • Form alliances ahead of time, if possible.  If you know people, those people might be able to help you.
      • Have meeting places-- in case you get separated from your partner or group
      • Situation awareness:
        • Look for escape routes
        • Ask yourself,  “Ok, If it happens, what would I do?”
        • Look for cover ahead of time: Concrete berms, steel pillars, etc… and keep these things between you and it, if trouble comes.
        • Look behind you—often-- you can use your phone on “selfie mode” if you want to check, without seeming obvious
Taking it to a survivalist level, Scott suggests::
  • Have a working knowledge of emergency techniques and proper bandages
  • Avoid well-known tourist spots
  • Take taxis rather than the underground metro
  • Form alliances ahead of time, if possible.  If you know people, those people might be able to help you.
  • Have escape plans—meeting places-- in case you get separated from your partner or group
  • Situation awareness:
  • Fill the bathtub with water at hotels—just in case… (emergencies; fires;) Self-defense and life-saving courses just might save your life—or someone else's.  And so, I am deciding not to trade my good nature for a fearful one.  But I am listening and looking around more, in case... just in case. PS Crazy as it seems, this is my horoscope for today: " must be careful or you could miss a hazard in the road ahead. Thankfully, there is a simple remedy to your dilemma: keep one eye on the rearview mirror and the other on the path in front of you. Time traveling in your mind expands your perspective and gives you more choices in the present moment." (and yet--traveling has re-stored my faith in humanity and trust... check out:  Kindness in the Subways)

On the Road Again: Upper State New York

9 Oct 2017 Gini Travel
Who knew that it would be warm enough to be sunning myself in upstate New York during the first week of October? Ah… my gratitude is immense—you may remember that I’m the one who mourns  summer’s passing. (It’s not like i haven’t paid my dues—having lived in the north woods of Maine for 7 years;  I can split wood and build a fire with the best of them.) But I’ve never been to the Hudson River Valley before and it is soothing to the eyes and a balm to the mind; I recommend it heartily. The distant mountains remind me of the Smokies in height and hue—though Ellioto says they are not as high. And the trees are beginning to yellow, tinging the landscape with the promise of changing colors as the reds are now beginning to blush. I see what all the fuss is about.   Wineries prosper between N.Y. City and Troy, extending in full force near the Finger Lakes,  due west of here. Fruity whites—particularly Rieslings—are the favored flavor, if a bit sweet for my astringent taste.     Saratoga Springs is a happening place—well suited for my shopping urge. Upscale resale didn’t let me down!            

The restaurants are plentiful and creative as are the wine bars, trendy with their Indy beers.

 Busking on the sidewalks, musicians                                entertain, a perfect setting for Ellioto’s birthday!            

Saratoga Springs was named after the sparkling mineral water that feeds the soil and those who care to fill their bottles.  In the early 1900’s, there was a movement to halt the over-consumption of the bubbly sustenance which was being bottled for its natural carbonation.


We dined at a tavern that has been in business since the early 1700’s at a time when the area was occupied by the Algonquian-speaking Mahican Indians before they were displaced by both Dutch and British colonists. The springs were appreciated by the natives for their healing qualities. which they shared with their interloping friends (sorry, if I sound a little caustic). Our deep-dimpled waiter told us that many report hauntings on the premises. The Inn is quaint and the food was delicious—I hope to copy the creamy, tangy tomato bisque recipe` which they were generous enough to promise to send to us, for the asking. You may recognize Saratoga as being famous for horse racing which began in 1863, which greatly increased the city as a tourist destination. But did you know that the creation of the potato chip is purported to have been here? Legend has it that in 1853, a diner visiting Moon’s Lake House was dissatisfied with the fried potatoes that he ordered and sent them back to the kitchen multiple times. The chef sliced them thinner in response then covered them in salt and deep fried them—and that’s the beginning of America’s most unhealthy snack!   Soon, we'll be moving on to Germany--thanks for reading and may Peace be with you. Ever-lovin', Gini The Good Natured Traveler