Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Short North in Columbus, Ohio: A Retrospective

I loved living in the Short North after college. Officially ranked #7 on Trip Advisor's Things to Do in Columbus, Ohio, you can find something for everyone here. And every year when I visit home, I borrow my mom's car and drive down High St. just to see what's new and to also reminisce on the good times had. Here are some of my favorites:


The Short North in Columbus, Ohio: A Retrospective

The North Market: I used to run 5 miles to campus and back then come here for a tasty lunch. Serafino's was my most favorite pizza slice in Columbus (not including late night slices from Victory's on S. High or whole pizzas I would eat at Ange's, Donatos and late night HoundDogs). Unfortunately, I lived here at a younger age when I lacked an interest in cooking or eating fresh, local foods. I had no idea what I was missing!
Lots to do the North Market, lots to do.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Enjoy Those Roses or Die: 5 Ways to Enjoy Life Everyday

Morcom Amphitheater of Roses

"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today." Dale Carnegie


When I think of my ultimate "room with a view," it usually involves pictures I've seen on Pinterest of
Just search "palm trees" and
Pinterest shows you the good stuff
beach views with palm trees or city skylines.  Actually, this view has been my personal measurement for success since I could remember. Anyone who knows me knows my one goal in life - to own a house with a palm tree in the front yard.

Sometimes, reality strikes in and I see my real view from the patio sliding doors: it's 15 ft. away from another building looking at the window of another apartment. And it's also part of a sound tunnel where I can hear everything that moves outside (or during the summer when windows are open) as well as conversations inside other people's apartments.

Even though this view sounds quite city-life dismal, I like it. Because right now, I have a private patio with an urban jungle of hanging plants and I also have a rose garden. 
Morcom Amphitheater of Roses


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

17 Surprising Things I Noticed While Traveling in Europe: A Must Read for the Novice American Traveler

About 15 minute read or a 5 minute skim...enjoy!

Bologna, Italy
At the beginning of my 7 week Euro-trip to Poland, Spain, and Italy, I wasn't sure of what to expect while traveling Europe. I knew what to pack, what to wear and how to say three words in Polish/Spanish/Italian combined, so I was ready in some aspects. But I didn't know how this experience would change me.

As early as the first international airport in which we landed, I immediately started noting things that were different in Europe. Some things were barely notable, while others were re-occurring and forced me to take notice. Because I knew my fellow Americans would be itching to hear my exact thoughts on this very topic, I took short notes throughout the trip so I could report my findings. Those extremely scientific notes turned into this very detailed report of what to expect while traveling in Europe and broken out into 3 subgroups - Exceptional Attitudes, Europe-Exclusive Activities and Major Epiphanies:

17 Surprising Things I Noticed While Traveling in Europe

Exceptional Attitudes
1. Quality food is meant to be enjoyed with others and is also made with pride, love and care. Someone recently asked me if the food is really that much better. My answer was an emphatic "yes" and #1 is the reason. In Europe, most restaurants the main goal is the quality of food and customer experience, not the volume of customers they could serve or how fast they can turn over tables. For example...

Dinner is a 3-4 hour experience. In Italy, we rarely went out to any bars because dinner was the main attraction...and a long one at that! Sometimes you order 4-5 courses, drink a bottle (or 2) of wine, had wonderful conversations, then enjoy the ambiance...and that was the night!

They will tell you NO. If you ask for something they don't think you should have...they'll just say no. Ordering food at a restaurant with limited access to WiFi & Google Translate means you're guessing most of the time. And if you guess wrong, they will tell you "no" then either patiently wait for you to order something else or make a better suggestion. Believe or not, this is true customer service because they want you to have the best items on the menu.

2. Nobody cares. Well, they do...but they don't. This was my answer when my good friend, Tina, asked what my favorite thing was about Europe. I'm sure she was expecting a place or an event, but it was actually a general attitude. Actually, Europeans do care, but as business owners their priorities are providing great quality food/products for their customers and then spend the rest of time enjoying life. This is reflected in their lifestyle, for example...

Siestas...and business hours in general. Places typically open at 10am, then shut down from 1pm-4pm and then re-open. There are a handful of places that are still open then entire time, but when it comes to food, be weary of them because it probably means that they're horrible. Europeans don't always care about accommodating everyone at every moment. And I think that's ok.

Low and/or no drama and stress. You know how you people watch and can just see the stress on people's faces? Or how you walk into a meeting at work and feel the tension? Or every clip on Real Housewives of Anytown? Yeah, I didn't really notice that behavior in Europe.

3. Old people don't gotta chill. A couple years after graduating college, one of my
Seville, Spain: Puerto de Cuba
friends I always saw out, eventually stopped going out. When I asked why, the answer simply was, "Old people gotta chill." While living in a medium-sized city at the time, it was a fairly accurate statement - same people doing the same stuff every weekend.

This is actually the opposite in Spain and Italy. I noticed that "old people don't gotta chill." For example...

Bologna, Italy on Monday night. As G and I were heading back to our hotel to relax, drink some wine, and enjoy the view, when we noticed these 2 older couple leaving their apartment to go out on the town. And when I say older, I mean 60s or 70s. Go ahead, grandpas!

Seville, Spain on Saturday night. We were out that night like, "Where the party at?" but at all times we were surrounded by a more mature crowd. It wasn't until we found the club on the water, Puerto de Cuba, did we see younger people. And it wasn't like the more mature crowd wasn't there either. I have to say, it's the only club I've been to that had that much age diversity...ever.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bergamo, Italy: The Most Beautiful Layover I've Ever Experienced

This cute little town (well "little" meaning 100,000 residents) is located just outside of Milan. And even though the elevation reaches to almost 1000 ft, it's still at the foothills of the Alps. It has a Medieval town on a hill called Citta Alta, with a magnificent 360 degree view of the region, as well as a more modern city below, Citta Bassa. All of these elements combined equals the most beautiful layover I've ever experienced.

Bergamo, Italy: The Most Beautiful Layover I've Ever Experienced

We were only here for 8 hours and first things first - EAT. La Marianna is a deli right next to the last bus stop...sounds delicious. I must note, there was this little thug bird next to our table that tried to punk me and take a bite my sandwich - while I was eating it! Guess who won... 
The streets are narrow and some of the buildings were painted this striking shade of peach. It felt like we were walking around on a movie set!

The city gate. I love city gates. I think we need to retroactively build more in the U.S.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Part I: A Week in Seville, Spain - Traveling Like a Boss (on a Budget)

Patio de las Doncellas or Courtyard of the Maidens
Seville felt like home. It was a picture-perfect city with Moorish-themed architecture, magnificent tapas (small plates of food) and warm people. And the vibe at night was lively, to say the least.We were lucky enough to stay there for 5 nights, which gave us enough time to truly see most of what this city has to offer. Note: one side effect of staying in a city that long actually makes you believe you kind of live there.

My "Traveling Like a Boss (on a Budget)" series for Seville is broken into 4 different parts. Since we were there longer than any other city, this seemed like the best way to present it. Plus, editing the 600 pictures I took into 100 pictures, and then putting all of that into one blog post is pretty impossible. This is Part I and what I consider to be my favorite pics. I know you'll enjoy them!

Seville, Spain Part I: Royal Alcazar

Alcazar - Originally built in the 10th century as a Moorish fort, it's now a royal palace located in the heart of Seville. And because there were many hands in the pot making this better than the century before, please note it's actually a series of palaces and gardens. We literally set aside a full day to take in all of its visually glory! Read more here or here. This was my favorite place we went all summer!
Patio de la Montería near the entrance

Patio del Yeso - all engravings were done via plaster

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Part II: A Week in Seville, Spain - Traveling Like a Boss (on a Budget)

Plaza de España
Seville felt like home. It was a picture-perfect city with Moorish-themed architecture, magnificent tapas (small plates of food) and warm people. And the vibe at night was lively, to say the least.We were lucky enough to stay there for 5 nights, which gave us enough time to truly see most of what this city has to offer. Note: one side effect of staying in a city that long actually makes you believe you kind of live there.

My "Traveling Like a Boss (on a Budget)" series for Seville is broken into 4 different parts. Since we were there longer than any other city, this seemed like the best way to present it. Plus, editing the 600 pictures I took into 100 pictures, and then putting all of that into one blog post is pretty impossible. So I'm starting with Part IV and then building my way up to the most exciting pictures in Part I. I know you'll enjoy them!

Seville, Spain Part II: Plaza de España and La Raza

Plaza de España - Built in 1928, this magnificent superstructure is located in the Parque de la Maria Luisa nearby our hotel. It was definitely one of my favorite buildings we saw all summer and the beauty was in the detail. Wiki info here. And crazy enough, it was 105 F degrees that day - we were close to seriously melting away.
Que hermoso!
There were details errrywhere...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Part III: A Week in Seville, Spain - Traveling Like a Boss (on a Budget)

Taberna el Papelon
Seville felt like home. It was a picture-perfect city with Moorish-themed architecture, magnificent tapas (small plates of food) and warm people. And the vibe at night was lively, to say the least.We were lucky enough to stay there for 5 nights, which gave us enough time to truly see most of what this city has to offer. Note: one side effect of staying in a city that long actually makes you believe you kind of live there.

My "Traveling Like a Boss (on a Budget)" series for Seville is broken into 4 different parts. Since we were there longer than any other city, this seemed like the best way to present it. Plus, editing the 600 pictures I took into 100 pictures, and then putting all of that into one blog post is pretty impossible. So I'm starting with Part IV and then building my way up to the most exciting pictures in Part I. I know you'll enjoy them!

Seville, Spain Part III: Hotel Alfonso XIII and Taberna el Papelon


Hotel Alfonso XIII - We lucked out with this Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel because of the nice discount we received for paying in full while booking (ballin' on a budget) through their website. This historic building has been a hotel since 1928 hosting royalty and elite...and then us :) It was one of my favorite buildings I saw in Europe. I personally like African/Moor influence on architecture so this was the perfect fit!

  • Our room - was bigger than our last apartment

Friday, September 13, 2013

Part IV: A Week in Seville, Spain - Traveling Like a Boss (on a Budget)

Crossing the bridge to Triana
Seville felt like home. It was a picture-perfect city with Moorish-themed architecture, magnificent tapas (small plates of food) and warm people. And the vibe at night was lively, to say the least.We were lucky enough to stay there for 5 nights, which gave us enough time to truly see most of what this city has to offer. Note: one side effect of staying in a city that long actually makes you believe you kind of live there.

My "Traveling Like a Boss (on a Budget)" series for Seville is broken into 4 different parts. Since we were there longer than any other city, this seemed like the best way to present it. Plus, editing the 600 pictures I took into 100 pictures, and then putting all of that into one blog post is pretty impossible. So I'm starting with Part IV and then building my way up to the most exciting pictures in Part I. I know you'll enjoy them!

Seville, Spain Part IV: City Pictures and Other Oddities

View from Triana - We walked around this cool neighborhood on a Saturday night - the views are spectacular. People were out. And I mean people above the age of 60 - we barely saw anyone young people. That's cool though...way different than most places I've lived in the States.
Triana as seen from Barrio Santa Cruz

Centro Historico as seen from Triana

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Valencia, Spain: Vacation Relaxation

Painting by artist EKATERINA MORÉ at the Westin Gallery. Her website
We were only here for one night - a sort of layover between Malaga and Seville. And it was HOT. So you will almost see no daytime pictures. And Valencia's most famous landmark, The City of Arts and Sciences, an architectural & culture wonderland, we never made it to. It's possible that we would have melted while in transit.

Both of us spent the day lounging in our sweet Westin bed and relaxing by the indoor pool and sauna. The next day, we made it to the beach - it was huge! And then, on our way to the airport, almost missed our plane to Seville due to some navigational errors.

And that's about it. I don't have much else to report on Valencia :) Now, for your viewing pleasure:

Valencia, Spain: The Experience

(as seen in less than 24 hours on oppressively hot days)

The Westin Valencia
This is a historical  building has been redone with an interior garden/courtyard inside. The Westin

Our room was nice! Thanks SPG Reward points :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Malaga, Spain: Travel There Right Now, Part Dos

As a continuation of Malaga, Spain trip (See Part Uno HERE), I present the rest of my magical pictures:

Life Experiences in Malaga
Hotel Room Mate Larios - our place for 2 nights!
Our hotel was towards the end of Calle Larios shopping area next to a small square. Baaallllllin'...on a budget

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Malaga, Spain: The Place We Will Move (well...one day), Part Uno

Disclaimer: I admit, I've been back from Europe for over a month now and I still have more pictures to share! I should be able to show all of Spain's glory (or at least what I've seen) by the end of the week. I'm still a lady of leisure so technically I could take all year, but I still like being productive!

Seriously, Everyone Needs to Travel to Malaga, Spain

G and I L-O-V-E-D this city smaller-feel-but-actually-big-city. Everything you need in life is located within the city limits. And things started to get real once we scoped out apartments in which to live (hey, we were still technically homeless at that time). First, inside the old city almost all of the streets are marble (this includes alleys) which they clean every night promptly at 12midnight.  Second, there are lots of beaches - amazing! This trip to Spain was more of relaxation-based vs. touristy Italy so beaches were welcomed. Third, the tapas there are amazing, especially the fish tapas. In addition to all points mentioned above, the buildings, are beautiful, the public transportation is modern and fast, and the people there are so nice. And Pablo Picasso and Antonio Banderas are from here. Take that!

As with any city, there's always a downside. Ours was the fact that we only stayed there 2 nights but should have just moved there.

Overall, really liked Malaga and seriously do want to move there part-time at some point in life. Heck, we scouted out an apartment available for only 300 Euros (that's $400 U.S. dollars) per month! But seriously, before this happens I need to brush up on my Spanish. Oh, and make some money too. Details...

Sightseeing in Malaga
Gibralfaro/Alcazaba entrance
This is the entrance to Alcazaba - an old palace. We didn't have time to explore because...
We had this mountain w/ a fortress to conquer: Gibralfaro.
What a beautiful view on the way up! Malaga is a port city, and the port splits the 2 beaches closest to downtown. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

"The Secret to Life" | Start Living Right, Looking Better and Being Happy in 5 Steps

“Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.” -Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren, boldly living. Photo: brilliantlectures.org
People living in Italy know the best way to live.

My boyfriend and I spent the majority of our Italian vacation this summer in northern Italy and fell in love with the lifestyle. In fact, any person with a soul who has vacationed in Italy has definitely left inspired for the same reason.

The group that specifically caught our attention was mid-aged Italian women. They had a got-it-going-on attitude and beauty to match. We often stared in awe at these women because of the grace, confidence and happiness they had at this stage of life.

I wondered, "How is this? In America, most mid-aged women I meet are the exact opposite."

So while in Italy - in between my sips of wine - I decided to investigate this further. I started observing the culture and contemplating how it differs from my experience in the U.S.. Here are my findings:

3 Reasons Italian Women Are Different than American Women

(as observed in Italy by a self-proclaimed Rare Dame)

1. Italian women look at their best, no matter how young or old.
  • They used the best beauty products suited for them. For example, the makeup they wore was a perfect match for their skin and facial features. And hair length was past their shoulders, professionally cut and colored in a style that complimented their individuals features. 
  • Outfits were of modern style in sizes that fit them perfectly. Designer pieces or not, these ladies were well put together. And there were some mid-aged women with nice bodies rockin' tight skirts, short shorts and tank tops (gasp) in a classy way. They were definitely werkin' it!
  • Bodies were more fit due to a healthier lifestyle. From what I understand, most women do not eat or drink in excess. And it seems most people living near the city walk, bike, or scooter to their destination. For example, G and I often stayed in residential areas outside the main squares and walked everywhere - probably 3-5 miles of walking per day.
  • In America, when it comes to beauty and health, most of us either a) follow the trend or use what our best friend/favorite celebrity uses, b) rarely update our look as we age or c) live an unhealthy lifestyle with little to no exercise.  This can be a deadly combo of wrongness.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Relics: Rome, Italy

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As I've stated in previous blogs, I hate waiting in lines for tourist stuff. Unfortunately, I had to suck it up for Rome because 1) I can't go through the Vatican drunk at night like my Florence sightseeing experience and 2) there are way too many things to see here!

Vatican City - Everything we saw was magnificent! However, it was so hot and there were too many tours going through at the same time. There wasn't even time to admire the art because a stampede of people would've bulldozed me over. Is there a way I can be Oprah for a day and get a private tour? (Not sure if she's gotten a private tour before, but she's my best bet of someone who could shut down the building.) 
This hallway had many, many statues. Many.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Happy Labor Day in Wine Country!

Feliz Labor Day Weekend everyone! We went to Sonoma Valley "The Real Wine Country" for a couple of hours to celebrate. Here's how it went down:
Real Wine Country means there's no playing around. This wine is for REAL!
Viansa Winery - There's a lot going on Labor Day weekend in the SoVa (I just made this term up, please don't use it in intelligent conversation) and we narrowed it down to this winery. It's because they specialize in Cal-Itali wines (a real term), and being a self-proclaimed Italian wine connoisseur, I'd thought it'd be best if we tested this place out.
It's on top of a cute grape-producing hill.
Food, fun and music!
The grounds are beautiful and romantic. Just like Tuscany!   

Don't be fooled, it's not my wedding. But is is a great day for one!
All good things must come to an end. We headed back home from a perfect day with a bottle of our new favorite Cali Sangiovese and smiles on our faces.

As always, please everyday open your mind, try something new, and live life on your own terms :)
#Versace, Versace, Versace

Best,
Paula

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Experience: Rome, Italy

Part of Forum near Colosseum
"When in Rome, live as the Romans do; when elsewhere, live as they live elsewhere." - Saint Ambrose

When walking around Rome, we were in awe of all buildings, ruins and structures. Some people say being in Rome is like being in a living museum. You could just feel how old the city is. I mean, you're standing on the same grounds as the old dudes we read about in history books! 

As with any city, there are positives and negatives about visiting. Most people love Rome for the sightseeing, good food & wine, and shopping. I personally loved walking around at night and seeing all of these historic buildings lit up - there's such a stunning contrast of the buildings to the dark sky. 

However, the downsides are quite considerable. One is the summer heat - it can literally beat you up. Rome summers are hot, hot, hot! Second, there are waaaay too many tourists at this time as well.  Third, as with most big cities, is it's so expensive. For example, we were on a 4-city tour and this was our last one. In the smaller cites, we had great wine and food for a fraction of the price - there's great food and wine everywhere in Italy!


Rome at Night - the best way to see the city!

Altare della Patria is stunning at night
Overlooking Rome all the way to Vatican City. After eating near the Spanish Stairs, we wandered up a random street that had the best views!
Some cool Romans just hanging out

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Fave 5 Expreiences: Florence, Italy

Here's a clue - it's all food...

Notice the family finishing dinner in back. So cute!
1. Trattoria Pandemonio - My jetsetter friend, VB, suggested we eat here and we put our trust in him. Upon arriving, we were the 1st clients to enter this family restaurant. In fact, they were just finishing their dinner! You can just tell how family-oriented this restaurant is - "Mamma" gives the entree suggestions and "Babbo" gives the wine suggestions. Even the grandson was involved...serving us champagne!

The food was phenomenal. The experience was superb.
*And it stands the only place all vacation that we did NOT limit ourselves to the cash budget. Debit cards (gasp) were used. Oh yeah, that IS octopus to answer your question.
It stands out as one of our favorite memories of life. You could tell everything there was done with love (and a lot of perfection). We almost didn't want to leave. Mamma even said we could stay there as long as we want...as long as it was before 11:30pm when then close. 
Us and Mamma. She's a no bulls*&$t kind of business woman with a kind heart.


Friday, August 2, 2013

My 5 Fave Sites: Florence, Italy

We stayed in Florence longer than any other city in Italy just based off of a hunch - we were so lucky! It was a beautiful city full of sights, shopping and really good food. Actually, it's smaller in scale than one would expect - all of these places we could walk to. And of course, like the rest of Italy, very happy people everywhere (except for the 2 homeless women that cussed me out for not giving them money :-o ).

My 5 Fave Sites

1. Florence at Night - View from Piazzale Michelangelo showing the Duomo, Santa Croce, Palazzo Vecchio and a very happy couple.


2. Drunk Sightseeing at night - Pictures taken after bottles and craft of wines then had forgotten by the next day. The next day, I re-saw the same sites again...de ja vu.
Piazza della Signoria

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My 5 Fave Experiences: Siena, Italy

This was my favorite town because it just made me feel so happy inside :) I don't think most people stay in the actual city for very long - there's so many other places in Tuscany to see, do and wine to drink - so the full experience may be overlooked. 

Even though Siena is a smaller city, it is one of the more beautiful towns we visited: It's a place where almost all locals will say "ciao" to each other in passing. And the food & wine here is amazing, you will have a hard time finding a bad experience with either. Because of this, and our quick 22-hour travel turn around, we stayed close to the city, wandering through all of it's cobbled streets for our amusement, drinking the night away.

My 5 Fave Exepriences


1. Hotel Minerva - we LOVED the balcony at night. We grabbed a bottle of wine, sat back and enjoyed the view!
Postcard worthy!
2. Zest Wine Bar - mostly recommended for their food and wine, we decided to relax in their wine bar and drank :) I feel this interior is how every wine bar should be!
Sitting outside, you can see the duomo; G & I enjoying Nobile Montepulciano

"Eat - Drink - Love:  Everything else does not matter." A true Italian quote if I've ever seen one!
I'm showing my photography prowess in the last 2 pics ;)