Travel Treasures: Portugal, Singapore, Italy and Vietnam

It was a typical “June Gloom” morning here in Southern California yesterday, and I decided to bake some muffins for breakfast to help brighten my day.

I served the muffins on a small plate I recently purchased when I was in Portugal, and I used a placemat that I brought back from Singapore.

IMG_7608I love using items from my travels at home – it reminds me of my trip to a different part of the world, the people I met, the food I ate, and then shop or market where I purchased the item.

The plate I purchased in a gift shop in Fatima, Portugal, outside of the town center. We stopped there before visiting Fatima and the site of the apparitions of three local children in 1917. I love the blue and white colors of this small plate. It is the perfect size for small snacks, a sandwich, or in this case, muffins.

The placemats I purchased along with other printed fabrics in the Little India section of Singapore. I do not remember much other than I bought different sets of placemats and napkins for friends and family.

This morning, the sun was shining, and I used a bowl from Sorrento, Italy, and a ceramic juice glass from Vietnam for my breakfast.

IMG_7616The bowl I found in a ceramic shop run by the artist, on one of the streets in Sorrento. His work had a pale blue color to it, and most of the items had an ocean theme. You can see some of the fish swimming at the top of the bowl.

The ceramic juice cup I purchased in Can Tho, Vietnam, at the Victoria Can Tho resort. When our group arrived to check-in, we were greeted with hand towels and fruit juice in these ceramic cups. I have bowls at home in a similar style – a matte brown glaze on the outside, and the inside muted colors. The cups are the perfect size for a small juice, and they are dishwasher safe. When I have juice for breakfast, I fondly remember my time at this lovely colonial hotel.

What are your favorite treasures from your travels? Do you bring back dishware to use at home?


A Colorful FriFotos

Here are some of my photos from last Friday’s #FriFotos theme: colorful. This week’s theme is roads. Start posting your road photos on Friday, June 12, 2015!

My first trip to Ireland was in March, and I was there for St. Patrick’s Day. Many of the buildings around Dublin were lit in green for the holiday as part of Tourism Ireland‘s campaign to #GoGreen4PatricksDay.

Dublin went #GoGreen4PatricksDay

Dublin went #GoGreen4PatricksDay

My friend Claire first told me about Liberty London when I was planning my first trip to London about fifteen years ago. After almost yearly trips to London, I had not visited in almost nine years, so when I arrived, one of my first stops was to visit Liberty and see their iconic prints – on scarves, on blouses, dresses, notepads, cards and makeup bags. I will be back in London in July, and I will be sure to visit Liberty again (the store itself is beautiful too).

Scarves at Liberty London.

Scarves at Liberty London.

While in London, I also visited another iconic department store, Harrods. The food halls at Harrods offer just about anything you can imagine, and I enjoy walking around to see the delicious foods and desserts. This marble cake looked particularly pretty.

Marble cake at Harrod's.

Marble cake at Harrod’s.

During my trip to Britain in April (see Liberty and Harrods photos above), the weather was beautiful. I think I only used my umbrella one day during my fourteen day trip. When we arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland, after a long day of driving, I needed to stretch my legs. Luckily, our hotel was near the Scottish Parliament building, and close to Holyrood Park. Even though it was late afternoon, I was determined to climb to Arthur’s Seat. It was windy and chilly, but perfect weather for walking, and the light was spectacular.

Climbing to Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park.

Climbing to Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park.

My final photo is one my friend Laura took. Over Memorial Day weekend, three of my high school girlfriends and I traveled to New Orleans for a girls weekend. On our final day, we went to Commander’s Palace for their Jazz Brunch. As the jazz trio played for our table, Laura took this picture of me surrounded by musicians, a colorful way to end our weekend of fun!

Jazz Brunch at Commander's Palace.

Jazz Brunch at Commander’s Palace.

New to #FriFotos? Here’s a quick guide on the rules by Jeffrey Epstein.

#FriFotos was started on 15 October 2010 by Jonathan Epstein (@EpsteinTravels). Jonathan is the President and Owner of Celebrated Experiences, a company focusing on travel to the UK and Ireland. He is passionate about photography, his favorite hobby. Each week Jonathan cohosts #FriFotos with Stephanie Diehl (@TravelDesigned), Charles Yap (@CharlesYap), and Spencer Spellman (@SpencerSpellman). Jeffrey Epstein (@jeffreyinmotion), CEO of HBIM was a key advisor in the creation of #FriFotos and continues to assist in the Forum’s growth and success.

Morning Walk: Salamanca

It is hard to believe that a month ago today, my Insights Vacations tour of Amazing Spain and Portugal was coming to an end. Our group arrived in the late afternoon to Salamanca and checked in to the beautiful Hotel Alameda Palace. We all went on a treasure-hunt type walk of the city, looking for figures on some of the city’s buildings and were then on our own for dinner.

Hotel Alameda Palace in Salamanca.

Hotel Alameda Palace in Salamanca seen in the early morning.

When I woke the next day, I could see the early morning light casting a beautiful glow on some of the buildings from my hotel room window. I decided to quickly pack my bags and head out for a walk through the city before breakfast and our departure shortly thereafter.

The pedestrian streets were empty – it seemed that no one except for the street cleaners and trash collectors were out, so I was able to walk quickly through the streets trying to capture some golden light on the buildings and churches.

Golden morning light makes the top of this Salamanca church glow.

Golden morning light makes the top of this Salamanca church glow.

I probably needed to be outside the old city boundary in order to see the sun encasing the buildings in light, as walking within the old town, only the very tops of the structures were lit. It was still fun to walk around on my own and see the buildings with no crowds in front of them, unlike our walk the day before when it seemed like everyone was out enjoying the beautiful night.

The Church of San Juan de Sahagun was just down Calle Toro and could be seen from my hotel, with its spire brilliantly lit by the morning sun.

Salamanca church full

Church of San Juan de Sahagun in Salamanca, Spain.

After walking through the empty Plaza Mayor, I came to this street with two prominent buildings that made you look up to the sky to see their detail – the Iglesia de la Clerecia and the Casa de las Conchas, both had a beautiful orange glow thanks to the morning sun.

Salamanca churches red

On the left is Iglesia de la Clerecia and on the right you see the Casa de las Conchas.

The new cathedral in Salamanca is a massive late Gothic and Baroque structure completed between the 16th and 18th centuries. It took forever to walk around the perimeter of the building to see if it was open this early in the morning. Sadly, it was closed until 10:00 am, well after our bus would be departing. The previous night, we arrived shortly after it closed but we saw people walking along the top of the building – it must be a beautiful vantage point to see the entire city.

Salamanca cathedralI saw some beautiful street art on some of the walls covering work being done on the buildings. I am not sure of the style but I saw it repeated in several places.

Salamanca street artSalamanca street art closeLooking up, I thought I saw some nests up above.

I think these storks have the best "condo" in the city!

I think these storks have the best “condo” in the city!

Using my camera, I zoomed to catch a glimpse of this stork couple with one of the best views in the city.

Salamanca storks close upI thought the shadows on this building created by the iron balconies was pretty.

Salamanca shadowsWalking back towards the hotel, I looked back on San Juan de Sahagun, and it was still bathed in sunlight, but it lost the earlier golden glow I saw.Salamanca bright lightI enjoyed walking around the city, and would have liked to learn more about the University of Salamanca and other sights, but we had only a few hours the night before, and then the early morning when I took this walk to explore. I heard the Art-Deco museum, Casa Lis, is interesting too. Hopefully I can return to wander the streets of Salamanca again.

Have you visited Salamanca? Please share your thoughts below!