Saturday, May 28, 2011


This lovely little building in Porto houses one of my favorite memories of Portugal. Ode Porto Wine House is a gem among the many memorable places Porto offers their visitors. The proprietor, Cristovao welcomes guests by saying "I want you to treat this place as if it was your home" and he isn't kidding. In fact, if I were to own a home, I would have exposed beams, rustic charm and the same glorious wine storage. So, it wasn't hard for me to sit back and relax in this wonderful "home".
The stone, the wood, the orange...I fell in decor love!

The kitchen was open so you could see the fresh ingredients and interact with the chef. Guests are encouraged to send back food if it is not exactly what you want. However, I find this hard to imagine since every dish looks amazing and prepared with care. I ordered tiger prawns on top of smashed peas and to this day, I can't stop dreaming about those peas.
My dream wine storage!

Cristovao, Ode's gracious host
I wish I had more time so I could have visited one more time before leaving. Until next time, Cheers to Ode!!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Home Away From Home

I stayed in the room with the balcony
We stayed in this wonderful guest house in Porto. The name says it all. This place is definitely 'homey'. Our hostess, Sofia, told us to treat it as if we were in our own home. Every corner had a special touch down to ribbon tied around each towel in the bathroom. There are five floors, you enter on the second floor, street level, into a small reception area with a beautiful mural painted on the wall. The breakfast room is down the hall where guests have sparkling water, fresh fruit and tea waiting for them. The first floor is down a flight of stairs from reception. It leads to a room with comfy chairs and a projector screen. They were playing silent films on the screen when we arrived! So special.
The third-fifth floors consisted of guest rooms, two on each floor. Three rooms face the river, three rooms face the street. We had the street facing rooms. I stayed on the fourth floor and enjoyed my view, especially at night. One morning, I woke up to the sound of a child singing while kicking a soccer sweet.
Everything is vivid in Porto...the colors, the people, the energy. I loved staying in the middle of it.
This is in between the breakfast room and reception. There are books, a record player and old records waiting to be perused. I adored this little corner.
Breakfast room

personal touches everywhere

Sofia, our gracious hostess
When I return to Porto, I will stay here again. However, I will ask for a room on the river side.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beautiful Portugal

Portugal is absolutely beautiful. I was not expecting so much charm, warmth, delicious food and jaw dropping beauty. Everywhere I turned, there was something magnificent to see. I never had enough space on my memory card, no matter how many times I emptied it, to capture everything that left me filled with joy. There is an ancient simplicity that layers the country with history that captivated me.
 The City of Porto is vibrant with colors popping up everywhere. What struck me most, was the ceramic tiles on all the buildings. Some were monochromatic, others were intricately painted with amazing designs.
The Douro River flows through to the sea. Across the river is Vila Nova de Gaia, where you can find many Port tasting rooms. There are boats with barrels on them, just like the used before trucks to transport Port wine to the sea.

I can't wait to return!

Marrettimo Island

A cruise on the Mediterranean was the perfect way to begin the visit to Sicily. We departed in the morning and headed to Marrettimo Island from the port of Trapani. The sun was warm and bright, the water was bright blue-green and the company was a mix of people from all over the world. Good times! 
 I was fascinated with the color of the water. Of course, being on a boat with biochemists and such, they had to explain the reason for the color. I wanted to keep it less technical and more dreamy! But, I do appreciate the explanation of the copper in the water causing the color...thought I'd share.
 Marrettimo Island is small and has 600 or so residents. The structures are white with blue doors and windows and the streets are very charming! I was so excited to see the contrast of the town with the water and the mountainous backdrop. Little did I know I was about to climb the steep hills and get views that took my breath away.
 I wanted to stay on the island and explore a bit longer. But, the trail was calling and up the mountain I went...
 What I saw along the way seemed surreal to me. The plants, the Roman ruins, the water, the trees...Amazing! The long hot hike was well worth it. At the top, they prepared a Sicilian picnic for us. YUMMY!
I can't forget to add that there were horses grazing along the road. I was so excited to see them, especially the pony. When we found them, the little one was nursing. Isn't nature awesome?!

Monday, May 16, 2011


I had the pleasure of working in Sicily this week. My company is based in Italy, but our business is worldwide. So, this week, the International team met up at a resort in Trapani, Sicily. The team includes South Africa, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Argentina, Chile, China, Australia, New Zealand and USA. It was fun hearing many languages fill a room and meeting many wonderful people.
Sicily is a beautiful place. The people are friendly, the air is warm and breezy and the food is AMAZING! We spent time in Trapani and Marsala. The architecture mixes Roman and Greek influences and History runs quite deep there. I couldn't help but realize how very young the US is compared to this place. Time seemed to slip away and 24 hours wasn't enough to get my fill of Sicily every day. I can only imagine how much time I would need to explore the entire island.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Inspired through a discouraging circumstance

Sometimes, it is so hard to find motivation. For instance, today I locked myself out. I was so upset with myself at first. I was famous for locking my keys in my car throughout know the times when you see the key in the ignition or on the seat and continue to shut the door? So, I had one of those moments today. In fact, I opened my door to leave and noted that I forgot to lock my door last night, but was able to lock the one person that has the freedom to enter whenever...ME!!!
My landlord was available to come rescue me in 3 hours. Defeated, I couldn't figure out what to do. I was very task oriented today. I had an entire project laid out in my apartment for work. What was I to do now? For some reason, I carried my Blackberry out with me. So, I walked down the street to the cliffs and started working remotely from there. My frustration was soon turned into joy. It is amazing how something so trivial can upset and then refresh me.

So, while I was 'trapped' outside, I made a list of things that motivate, refresh and inspire me...
-The ocean--seeing, hearing, feeling and even tasting it!
-Running. Nothing like a good run to jump start me.
-Reading something inspiring (The Hiding Place leaves no room for me to complain)
-Hearing 'writing' music (check out Explosions in the Sky my writing music. They just released a new album)
-An Amazing wine...the kind you can sip 1 glass forever because it is that good!
-My family and dear close friends. They keep me in check as well as love me unconditionally.
-Redwood Trees
-The Eel River
-Vineyards in the morning
-A new passport stamp
-My faith, it always seems to pick me up when I forget I have it.
-Learning new things. I never ever want to stop learning
-Meeting new people and hearing their story.