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Wanderlust Wednesday | Nonna

If I could pinch her cheeks I would.

Photo credit Nick Zungoli

Photo credit Nick Zungoli

Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

Worry then breathe

Quotation-Martin-Luther-world-change-Meetville-Quotes-88625I worry.  I’m a worrier by nature.  By design.  I come from a very long line of worriers.  I have learned that I must spend time every day focused on gratitude to help plant my feet in the present and keep me from anxiously looking too far into the future.

Worry isn’t always a bad thing.  As a travel planner it helps me anticipate potential issues before they ever become problems.   I map out not only Plan A but B and C.  My worry channeled appropriately and effectively becomes a powerful toll of intuitiveness.  Worry keeps me sharp and prepared.

Worry sometimes gets the upper hand though and begins to spill into my every thought, filling the corners of my mind and wreaking havoc in my dreams.  Writing helps to control and contain.  I once read, “If you want to change the world, pick up a pen and write.”  I’m happy to just change the climate of my thinking with my words.  So here I sit.

I worry about Ebola.  Just like everyone else in recent days.  Although around for decades, it has made a dramatic debut here and we are now painfully aware of how truly under prepared we are.

I worry about travel.  I selfishly worry that my plans for Italy next fall will be effected; that my business will suffer.  I worry that this will change us, isolate us.  Make us more distant and less trusting.

And I worry for nurses.  I am a nurse.  I’ve been in the ER and ICU for over 17 years.  I’ve worked from the barrios of Phoenix and the best trauma center in Seattle to small town Montana.

I can promise you that I’ve seen it all.

I have stories that ban me from dinner tables and ones that still leave me in tears.  I have worked under pressure so intense to this day I have no idea how I fought through.  I’ve held hands and whispered in ears that it’s OK to let go more times than I can count.  I’ve carried a tiny baby to the morgue.  I’ve been spit at, peed on, kicked and nearly choked during my pregnancies.  I’ve been called every name in the book.  And then some.  I actually know what brain matter looks like and I’ve watched two students pass out because of it.  I’ve fought for my patient’s rights and dignity, sometimes defending them from doctors.  Sometimes their own families.  I shared a hug with a man no one ever thought would survive.  I even borrowed a smoke from a bum on ER curbside.

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I worry most because I am a nurse.  I know exactly what a critically ill dying patient looks like.  Nurses maintaining the ventilators for breathing while titrating a myriad of IV medications along with watching labs, giving blood, pushing fluids and keeping things clean.  Constantly cleaning.  Blood, vomit, sputum, drainage, pee and stool.  Endless amounts of stool.  Care of this kind of patient is tremendous, let alone if improperly supplied.  Are we expected to roll up our sleeves and do the best we can with what we have available?  Make due like we all have done so many times before.  Like those nurses in Texas?

I worry about fear.  Fear can be as great a danger as the danger itself.  Tweets, posts, rants and blogs all with more undertones of fear than fact.  How can one safely tip toe around the edges without falling in.

I worry about balance.  Finding a way to prepare for anything without letting my efforts become a obsession that destroys the one true thing I do have at this moment.  Now.  This day. The present to be with what is mine.  They sometimes wake me up at all hours in the night and hand me boogers but they are beautiful and full and my treasures.

I breathe now.  In and out.  Often.  I hold on to faith and hope while always keeping one eye on my Plan A.  And B.  And C.

 

Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

Wanderlust Wednesday | Venice, Italy

Photo credit unknown

Photo credit unknown

The city that feels like a dream.  Venice.

 

Copyright 2014, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

Cinque Terre weather alert continues

Cinque Terre remains under Weather Alert 2 until midnight tonight.
Visitors are asked NOT to come today. The rains have been held at bay, probably due to the wind. My thoughts are with everyone in the area and those that suffered tremendously in Genova. Photo credit L. Castrucci

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The problem with commitment

The reality of the difficulty in committing to travel really hit home as I re-read an article I wrote years ago.  I felt like I was reading the words of someone else much wiser than myself.  At the time I penned that article I was full to the brim with the heartfelt intention of traveling within the year.  I remember feeling it in my bones.  Life had other plans for me though.  And the year after that as well.  And the year after that.  Three full years later I am finally set to fulfill my promise to myself.  Three extremely full and challenging years later.  During that time I caught myself feeling defeated at times, wishing for things to play out differently.  Or for a huge trust fund.  I realized soon that attitude was truly the only thing I could ever control and so I took a step back for a better perspective.  I found I have nothing to be disappointed about nor discouraged.  My babies were now well on their way through toddler-hood and they knew what it felt like to have a mommy who was always there wrapping them up in love.  All the pieces had finally fallen into place and we were putting down roots in a place I’ve been longing to call home.  I had personally grown and learned how to put myself out there, get comfortable with being uncomfortable and take chances to obtain what I wanted with my business.  I have the satisfaction of standing by my husband and watching his dreams come true after taking the terrifying leap into self employment.  My wanderlust heart may have ached for adventure but the framework of my life had been solidified and I am now right where I need to be.

just go travel bozemanAlmost everyone I talk to gets misty eyed when the topic of travel comes up.  Everyone has somewhere that calls to them.

They also have bills, jobs, kids, family and responsibilities that call louder.  Taxes, tabs and a dishwasher in need of replacement.

I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t understand the reality of life when I push to travel despite obstacles.  I’m in the trenches too and I can honestly say that I am knocked down backwards more often than I am able to pull myself up.  My war cry remains the same.  Just Go.

If you can’t swing a flight across the ocean I understand.  Believe me.  Grab the keys instead and discover what is lurking next door.  I may have missed exploring the back roads of Tuscany but I discovered the jaw dropping beauty of Glacier National Park (and the heart pounding terror of a grizzly encounter).  My little kids have yet to play in the piazzas but they can name their favorite forest service cabins and we have hiked nearly every local trail.

Just Go.  Travel anyway.  Any where.  Travel to grow, to learn, to heal, dream, recharge, teach, change.  Travel to become a better version of yourself for yourself.

 

My original article posted in 2012 ‘Commit to Travel’

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

Copyright 2014   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

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Wanderlust Wednesday | Seaside Sunset

From the amazing Renovating Italy.renovating italy

Travel with me to Italy

It’s time to put my money where my mouth is.  Practice what I preach.  Or as we somewhat crudely say in Montana, shit or get off the pot.

 

italy travelI’ve written about the importance of traveling; how to make things happen even when it feels nearly impossible.  I have articles to help budget; ways to pinch pennies and stretch those euros.  I’ve shared my secret places and best times to travel.  Ways to skip lines and save on time.  Where and what to eat.  Even how to flush a toilet.  While all my written information and guides have helped many travelers, nothing beats showing someone.  Actually going through the motions visually.  That is what I intend to do.  I want to take you all with me to Italy.  OK, not in my suitcase but as close to that as possible.  I want to show you how I will prepare and plan through my posts, photos and videos.  I want to create a discussion; an interactive place where ideas are shared.  I want to infect as many people as possible with the travel bug.  And wanderlust.  Fernweh.

I intend to inspire not just others but myself.

Dreaming of Italy?  Follow me.

Copyright 2014   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

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Wanderlust Wednesday | Capri, Italy

A new series for the Wanderlust in us all.

Capri, photo credit unknown

Capri, photo credit unknown

Understanding Italian Culture | Dining, Tips, Gelato and Coffee

DINING

In Italy, the food is an experience.  Lunches and dinners last at least two hours; you linger over your meal.  When you sit at a table, it is considered yours for the night.  A restaurant would be considered awful if it tried to turn tables like we do in the states.  The waiters are all ‘slow’ by American standards and they do not rush for anything (except keeping wine on the table for the locals).  Your waiter will only bring the bill when you ask for it, to do so before is considered rude.  When you are ready to leave, simply catch their eye and say ‘Il conto’ for the bill or make a motion of writing something out on your palm.  Many restaurants have a ‘pane e coperto’ charge (bread and cover) of a few euros per person and/or ‘servizio incluso’ (tips) built into the bill.  You will find both of these on the bill with the ‘servizio incluso’ usually on the bottom.  If that is not included in your bill, round up by a few euros (or less than half of what you would do at home).  I know it feels wrong not to leave a big tip for a great meal, we Americans are notorious for over tipping while some Italians never do.  Rarely I have run into annoyed waiters who were expecting me to tip like a typical tourist, but that reaction is not at all normal.  Another time I tipped an excessive amount because I had drank an excessive amount , and the owners made sure I left with a bottle of wine on the house.   An example for a meal that cost 37.50 would be to round up to 40.  Try to always leave a cash tip on the table, even if you are paying with credit, otherwise your server may never see the money.

Dinner service usually begins around 7:00pm and lasts well into the night.  If you want to dine with tourists, be there when they open.  Linger until around 8:30 and you will dine with the Italians.  Food is served in courses, but you are not expected to order one of each.  For example, I often order my own pasta (primi) but share an anitpasti (appetizer) and secondi (meat or fish dish) with my friend.  Just remember that the food will be brought out in order and if you skipped a course you will spend that time watching others eat.  I find I never go wrong with the house wine but if you want to try a bottle, ask the waiter what would pair well with your meal.  While you can’t always trust the bill you can trust them with their food and wine recommendations!  I personally find that you can never go wrong with the daily specials.  Italians eat with the seasons and chefs pride themselves in finding the best and freshest ingredients.  I will often go with their suggestions as well.  Europeans love fizzy water, so if you don’t want bubbles you must ask for ‘acua naturale.’

A few dining tips to make you look more like a local:

Don’t use a spoon to twirl your pasta and NEVER cut the noodles with a knife.

If cheese or other toppings didn’t come with your dish then it was not meant to go with it.  It is considered insulting to add anything to a dish that the chef prepared as they pride themselves in knowing exactly what ingredients pare with each dish.

By all means, use your bread to sop up the extra sauce.  This is considered a great compliment to the chef.

End your meal with an espresso (you can request a decaf).

Take your time to enjoy the meal, each one is an adventure in itself!

I caution everyone to pace themselves or you will find yourself groaning in bed with an overfilled stomach.

COFFEE

It’s the only place on earth that is more crazy about coffee than Seattle.  For about one euro, you can get a teeny cup of pure heaven.  It’s probably the easiest thing to do in Italy.  Head right into any bar and ask for un caffe.  You might be asked to clarify that you want an espresso and not an American cup of coffee.  Just use your fingers to show a tiny cup and they will understand.  Watch the locals.  They pour in about as much sugar as coffee and sit stirring it for some magical amount of time, then sling back the liquid in one sip and out the door they go.  This is not a Starbucks society where you savor your espresso or even take it to go.  I also love my morning cappuccino (which I do take my time with) but only tourists drink them after 10am.  Some bars have you pay first and then take your slip to the counter while others do the opposite.  If you are unsure just watch how everyone else is doing it and copy.  It is a courtesy to leave a small coin to ‘hold the paper down’ for the server.  You will also pay more for your coffee if you sit down to drink it, about twice as much as the same cup enjoyed at the bar.  The cost can be well worth it if you’ve found a cozy little spot for people watching.  The bars usually have quick and easy snacks as well; panini’s are a favorite type of sandwich and great for on the go.

GELATO

Italian ice cream is another national addiction, and a personal one.  I challenge anyone to beat my consumption record:  6 double scoops in one day!  Just remember that not all gelato is created the same and if you aren’t careful you could end up disappointed.  Follow my advice below and you are sure to never go wrong.

There are a few important things to look for when choosing a gelateria.  Only places that make their gelato fresh each day on the premise are legally allowed to display the sign ‘fatta in casa.’  This is a good start but that is not all you want to watch for.  A long line is one of the best signs of great gelato.  If you see more Italians than tourists, even better.  Italians tend to avoid tourists at all costs but will stand shoulder to shoulder with them for a good scoop and you know that your gelato will be worth the wait.  If all looks well, step inside and make sure that the gelato is in metal containers and not plastic ones, this will confirm that the ice cream was made in smaller batches and of a better quality.  The final check is in the gelato itself.  If you notice tons of bright unnatural colors run away.  Banana will be your gold standard.  If it is gray you have found the perfect spot, if it is any shade of yellow don’t waste another second there.  Gelato should be made from fresh ingredients with the primary concern being taste not color.  Be wary of any shop that has a big area with table and chairs.  While we are used to this set up, in Italy gelato is meant to be consumed on the go and a gelateria trying to encourage you to stay is focused on tourists.

No day is complete without gelato and there is no reason to feel guilty.  Gelato’s fat content is at least a third less than our ice cream because it is made from milk and not fresh cream or butterfat.  Ordering gelato is similar to getting your coffee.  Most places have you buy your gelato ahead of time and the cashier will give you a ticket to take to the counter.  Take your time looking around while you decide, but for the server’s sanity make sure that you are ready with your order when it is your turn.  You will be ignored if you do not have a ticket.  If you are having trouble getting his attention just hold your ticket like a torch and push your way to the front.  Be exotic and try different combinations; everything is good.

GROCERIES AND MARKETS

You will be able to find little grocery shops in every town and even some larger more modern ones in the cities.  In the produce section there are a few different ways to handle the vegetables.  Sometimes the checker (or another employee) will select the produce for you, bag it and weigh it on the spot.  All you do is point to what you want.  More commonly, you will bag it yourself and then put your selection on a scale.  There will be about 100 different buttons with pictures of fruits and veggies.  Find yours and simply push, the weight and cost in Euros will be printed on a sticker you attach to the bag (make sure you aren’t LEANING on the scale when you push!).  Don’t forgot to wear the disposable plastic gloves, otherwise you will draw many disgusted looks from the local shoppers.

Every city, town and village has a market on a certain day and some are daily.  Go early to get the best choices and have the most fun with the pushy old ladies.  Markets aren’t limited to just produce; usually you will find trucks full of cheese and meats.  If you see someone selling Porchetta sandwiches get one!

I’m obsessed with feedback, let me know what you think.

Love it??  Pass it on!

Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Happiness depends more on inward disposition

italy travel rome inspirational quotes

I’m obsessed with feedback, let me know what you think.

Love it??  Pass it on!

Copyright 2014   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

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