Posts Tagged ‘history’

Did I ever mention that I’m 100% Italian…?

(Well…in my heart, that is…)

The moment I set foot in Italy, I knew it was something special.

Even though I’m a mix of French Canadian, Polish, Indian and English (and proud of it!), I’d like to think that in a previous life, I lived in an enchanting, medieval, Italian hill town overlooking the canyon below.

Maybe even a hill town like this…

CivitaCivita di Bagnoregio

On the last leg of our honeymoon in 2010, my hubby and I traveled around Italy, and the one place I couldn’t wait to visit the most was the once thriving, now quiet hilltop gem known as Civita di Bagnoregio!


Once the gateway to Rome, Civita now sits high above a decaying plateau and is connected to its neighboring town of Bagnoregio by a “bring-supportive-shoes-this-is-an-extremely-steep-foot-bridge” bridge constructed when years of erosion, earthquakes and wind took effect and left it isolated from the modern world.  (Hence its nickname “The Dying Town.”)  Now, less than 15 people call Civita home.


Prepare to be transported back in time as you enter the arched gates of the city.  Founded by the Etruscans over 2500 years ago, Civita is untouched by the modern world and is a wonderland for artists and photographers alike.


Charm oozes out of every nook and cranny —
from the lush foliage clinging on arches and walls…

…to the colorful potted plants dotting the staircases.

CivitaRising out of the Umbrian countryside and sitting high above the clouds, Civita provides stunning panoramas that captivate and mesmerize.

CivitaThere are surprises around every corner —
from spiral staircases decending into the canyon’s abyss…

Civita Kitties…to precious kitties snuggling side by side…

Civita…to a chapel deep inside a cave…

…to a secret garden just beyond the gate.

All you have to do is stroll along the cobblestone paths to discover visual treasures.

CivitaCivita was also the birthplace of Franciscan friar and theologian, St. Bonaventure.
His childhood home fell prey to erosion and has since fallen off the cliff into the precipice below.


There are many enchanting places to visit in Italy, but if you have to visit just one, I highly encourage you to experience this modern day medieval fairy tale!  It’s only 90 miles north of  Rome…so why not be transported into this dreamland?

Civita is waiting for you!

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Can I get a drum roll please?  I am so excited to announce the newest addition to Passport to Bliss…Video Bliss!

Throughout my travels and wanderings through life, I have enjoyed taking videos.  Some are scenic, some are interesting, some are silly, some are totally random but kinda fun…and then there are those where I provide my own travel narratives in an attempt to be like a famous host on the Travel Channel or something…and those will probably remain in the vault!

Well, it’s time to dust off the videos & showcase them to the world!

This first video is one that I created and posted recently after welcoming the mighty Shuttle Endeavour home (Space Shuttle Endeavour – A Homecoming to Remember.)  I was really happy with the outcome and thought it would be a great way to kick off Video Bliss.

I hope you enjoy!

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You know what brings me bliss?

Space Shuttle Endeavour!Spaceships traveling down the streets of Los Angeles, of course!

Last Saturday on October 13th, my husband and I got to be a part of history as we joined thousands of excited spectators on the streets of Los Angeles in welcoming the Space Shuttle Endeavour home.

It was a celebration like no other!

Streets were blocked off, family and friends partied in their front yards and on rooftops, cameras, tripods and media appeared in droves, news crews lined the streets, strangers became friends, the Goodyear Blimp circled the skies and helicopters hovered overhead in anticipation for her arrival.

Talk about celebrity treatment!

As we stood on the sidewalk with enthusiastic spectators, a spirited “Woo-hoo!” came from the crowd followed by “Oohs and ahhs” with fingers pointing down the street.  In the distance, inching her way up Crenshaw Boulevard (with quite the  police escort) was the guest of honor, the Space Shuttle Endeavour.


I swear she was smiling and gleaming with pride as her wings stretched out over the cheering crowd.


People laughed, cried, stared in awe, waved, hugged, sang and cheered.  It was a beautiful thing to come together in celebration of the mighty Endeavour.

Just thinking about it gives me the chills.


I was so inspired that over the next couple of days I created a fun video comprised of photos and video footage we took set to a well known musical score.  I hope this brings you as much joy as it did for me.  Enjoy!

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Growing up, the best part of school was summer vacation.  Sure, not having homework and getting to play away each afternoon was pure bliss, but what I looked forward to the most were the annual family road trips.

The family mobile

There was such excitement packing up the Volkswagen Bus (aka…the “family mobile”) the night before, mapping out our course and setting our alarm clocks for an early start the next day.  Visions of adventure would dance in my head until our alarms chimed in at 3:30am.  Even though my eyes were heavy, the anticipation of the day ahead would keep me awake  so I wouldn’t miss any sights along the way.  Little did I know that this was the beginning of my love affair with travel.

Through the years, my love for travel has grown beyond measure, and with each passing trip, I discover yet another reason why travel brings me such bliss.  Below are 25 of the countless reasons why I love travel.

1.  Experiencing Different Cultures
I love learning about different cultures, meeting the people of the region and learning about their customs and traditions.   Without this amazing diversity, the world wouldn’t be the spectacular place it is!

Transportation on the beautiful island of Santorini.

2.  The Local Cuisine
And I’m not talking about McDonald’s either!  When I travel, I love to try the local cuisine and experience the flavors of that country.  I may not be too adventurous when it comes to sampling anything & everything put on my plate (like my husband), but I definitely have an open mind.

Eating raw herring (the Dutch way) in Holland.
I was applauded by the locals for my technique!

3.  New Friendships
I’d have to say the greatest reason for travel is the opportunity to meet new people & make new friends.  The friends I made across the globe are some of the most warm and interesting people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.  Because of them, I’ve grown as a person and have a deeper understanding of their cultures.

My wonderful host family in Lake Como, Italy.

4.  The History

No text book can provide you with the first hand experience and knowledge that travel can.  Growing up, history wasn’t my specialty mainly because I’m a very visual person, and I needed to be among history to really understand and appreciate it.  It makes all the difference to actually be among ancient ruins, touch a monument or stand in a field that was once a battlefield.  Travel is the text book I always wish I had in school.

History at my fingertips…the spectacular Colosseum in Rome.

5.  The Sights & Sounds

When I visit a new destination, I love spending the day just soaking up the atmosphere of that area, listening to the sounds, watching people go about their daily lives,  and just being a part of it all for that moment…it can be quite magical!

The Spanish Steps is a great place to people watch!

6.  Become More Adventurous
I don’t know what it is about travel, but it brings out the adventurer in me and gives me a confidence I don’t usually have at home.  Maybe it’s because all of my senses are heightened, but I embrace the challenges of the unknown, become more daring and throw caution to the wind…and I like it!

Skydiving in Queenstown, New Zealand.

6.  Inspires Creativity
Being a Graphic Designer, there are times when the creative juices just aren’t flowing.  Sure, I can look through some magazines and the internet for inspiration, but nothing makes the right side of my brain come alive more than when I’m traveling.  The sensory overload races through my mind, and I can’t get the ideas into my moleskin fast enough!  It’s the architecture, the people, the food, the cityscape, the colors, the sounds, the landscapes, the language, the culture…everything inspires me in new & exciting ways!

It’s easy to be inspired in Venice, Italy!

8.  Best Version of Myself
Travel brings out the best in me.  At home, I’m more of an introvert, but when I travel, I’m more outgoing and I strike up conversations easily with strangers.  I want to be more involved in what’s going on around me, my senses are heightened and so is my spirit, and I genuinely feel like myself.  Travel changes me for the better.  I’d love to bottle up that version of me, take it back home & put it into practice!

The best version of myself…even in Death Valley!

9.  Learning New Languages
Would I have immersed myself into taking an Italian class if I wasn’t going to Italy?  Probably not.  But I loved the language, and I actually flourished when I traveled solo to Italy.  It’s a rewarding feeling being able to speak to a local in their native tongue…and actually make sense!  Now I look forward to learning new languages when I travel abroad.

Chatting with a few Romans  🙂

10.  Capturing Memories
I admit it…I’m a photo junky.  Photography has been a passion of mine since I was a child, and it continues to be a part of my life today especially when I travel.  When I experience the warmth of a different culture, a beautiful sunset on another continent, or the vibrant pulse of an exotic city, I capture these moments through photography so I can look pack at these moments and relive the magic.

Glorious sunset in Holland.

11.  New Experiences
There’s always something new and exciting to experience when you travel.  Even if you didn’t plan on a particular experience, why not give it a try!  It might turn out to be the highlight of your trip!

An invigorating experience…a Turkish bath!

12. To Find Yourself

I didn’t initially start traveling to find myself…but to my surprise, I did just that!  It was traveling solo that helped me discover that I am fully capable of achieving much more than I thought possible.  It shaped me into the person I am today.  If you want to discover something about yourself – just travel!  There’s really no better learning experience.

I also learned that it’s not wise to wear shorts whilst glacier trekking!  LOL!

17.  Rest & Relaxation
You can’t deny the chance to just exhale, recharge the batteries and enjoy the experience at hand.

A little R&R overlooking the Mediterranean.

20.  Planning the Trip
Yes, you read correctly.  I can’t help it – I love planning the trip!  Some people would consider it “work”, but not me.  Sometimes it’s almost as fun as the trip itself (I said ALMOST.)  I love plotting our course, tracking down that amazing online bargain for flights, researching all of the things we want to do & see, booking our stay at some quaint b&b…or maybe rustic lodge…heck, even surfing on someone’s couch, and looking up train & bus schedules.  It’s nice to have things like accommodations & transportation planned, but I’m not the type of person who has to have every second of the day planned…part of the fun of traveling is…

No trip to Paris is complete without a stop at the Eiffel Tower! 

21.  Spontaneity!
You may have your trip all planned out, but a bit of spontaneity may enrich your experience even more!  We weren’t planning on going wine tasting in Orvieto, Italy, but after a trip to the visitor center, we discovered that Custodi Winery was just a bus ride away.  My husband called to confirm the time we’d be there, &  through his broken Italian, he somehow got his point across, and the owners (husband & wife) waited for our arrival.  We were the only ones there, & their daughter (who spoke English) gave us a personal tour of the winery, & we also enjoyed olive oil & wine samples.  She even personally drove us back to the Orvieto hilltop!  We wouldn’t have enjoyed such a pleasant afternoon or filled our bags with yummy wine had we not been open to spontaneity!

Spontaneity took us to Custodi Winery in Orvieto, Italy.

22.  Packing!
I’m not joking!  Ok so I used to hate packing because I would always pack way to much into one suitcase.  It was a chore hauling around this overstuffed suitcase wherever I went, and it lessened the joy of traveling.  One day I saw a backpacker moving around easily and freely with one small pack on his back.  I thought, now there’s a clever guy.  From that moment on, I learned to pack lightly with the bare essentials and clothing that I could mix & match.  Now I look forward to packing to see how “light” my bag can be.

My husband is an expert light packer!
(And packing light helps when you find yourself in confined spaces!)

23. I Feel the Most Alive!
Travel makes me feel alive and reminds me that I have a pulse.

Cruising my way to Ensenada, Mexico.

23. Romance
C’mon…I couldn’t leave that one out.  Whether it be with your honey or maybe a chance encounter on the road, travel does bring out that spark in people.  Travelers are more open to opportunities and adventure, and that is an attractive quality…don’t ya think?  🙂

My husband & I on the Grecian island of Hydra.

25. To Have Fun!
Enough said  😉

Fun in Cannon Beach, Oregon

So that concludes my list of why I love to travel (although that’s just the tip of the iceberg!)    I’d love to hear the reasons why you love to travel.  🙂

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