Tag Archives: Adventure

2017 RECAP OF THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME ACTIVITIES — IT WAS A GOOD YEAR!!

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As I reflect over the 2017, I realize it was an extremely busy year.  It was a year of a lot of firsts for me, particularly as it relates to building my two year old business This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM).

It was a year that allowed me to see how I brought dreams to fruition for others and just how much satisfaction I derived from playing a role in that.  It was also a year where I faced some long-standing doubts and fears, and surprisingly I came out on the other side!  I like to do yearly recaps mainly so that I can not only see what I’ve accomplished, but examine the misses and areas where I still need to grow, as well.

So for all that it brought, here is TIDFM’s 2017 recapped:

TRAVEL

January — I, along with nine female relatives, took (what has become known as “The Cousins’ Trip”) a four day jaunt to Atlanta, Georgia. Our cousin and her husband treated us royally.  The trip was made especially memorable because we traveled there during the time Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s  birthday was being celebrated in his hometown.   It was also magical to spend that time with family members.  We took in the movie “Hidden Figures”, saw Roy Ayers perform at the City Winery, ate at some fabulous restaurants, laughed and talked, talked and laughed, and more importantly, we paid homage to Dr. King by visiting his grave site,  along with that of his dedicated wife and comrade Coretta Scott King.

 

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March — I was able to visit a close friend who lives in Berkeley, California.  This was the first time that I spent my entire time in Berkeley versus spending time in Oakland or San Francisco.  We saw an art exhibit at Berkeley Museum of Art, ate Bi Bim Bap at a  Korean restaurant (ate there twice because I can never get enough of Bi Bim Bap), watched a myriad of movies at her home and toured the campus of The University of California, Berkeley.  I have always wanted to see this campus, especially because of its history of protest, advocacy and of being a change agent.

A visit to the Bay area would not be complete without paying a visit to the outstanding restaurant Burma Superstar!  That place! That place!  They offer every imaginable way to please your palate; their coconut rice alone will have you begging for more, and the variety of Burmese food offered is amazing.

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September — I finally got to travel to a city that I have been longing to visit for quite some time.  This trip, like my excursion to Atlanta, allowed me to spend time with family — 3 cousins — who made my trip so special.  Not only is Seattle a most gorgeous city, its food scene is amazing and as diverse as its residents.  You want good ice cream?  There is Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.  You want really good Sushi?  There is Trappers.

And I can’t  forget my visit to the famed Pike’s Market, The Northwest African American Museum and the city’s Space Needle!

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The University of Washington’s campus is picturesque, and situated on that campus are some of the most architecturally unique buildings I’ve ever seen. Needless to say, Seattle’s weather is my kind of weather.  Although it was overcast on several days, the breezes and fresh air made the trip all the more enjoyable.

Also, Seattle gave me a chance to be mesmerized by The Chihuly Exhibit held on The Seattle Space Museum Caampus — what magnificent work!

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October — Reykjavik, Iceland — Not a place I would have ever imagined myself visiting until I came across an incredible fare offered by Southwest Airlines, but AM I GLAD I DID!  Naturally, once I really began to research Aurora Borealis (aka The Northern Lights), I was determined to witness this phenomenon first hand.  On a cold Iceland evening, I got my chance.  How awe-inspiring it was!

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Who would have thought I would have paid to join an excursion to whale watch?  I maintained the attitude that “as long as I am here, I might as well immerse myself in Icelandic culture.”  It was cold and wet, but I felt like a trooper because I pushed myself to do something that I would never have done before.  I saw not only whales, but but I saw humpback dolphins, and other unrecognizable water bound animals.

I shivered my butt off, but I enjoyed every minute.

 

 

 

I was also able to partake in a two hour Icelandic Beer Class where you not only tasted a variety of beers (that was a lot of fun), but I learned about what was going on historically in Iceland at the time those beers were crafted.  Our class members were from Canada, Italy and Sweden.

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Of course we took the obligatory city tour — Reykjavik’s Cultural Building was hosting a run of Tosca, along with some lesser known productions and exhibits.

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We also saw the building (pictured below) where President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary of the Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev held in 1986 made progress toward creating The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and The Soviet Union.

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The highlight of the city tour was seeing the Lutheran Church Hallgrimskir, which is one of Iceland’s hallmark tourist attractions. Running a close second was bathing in the iconic Blue Lagoon.

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November — The end of the year saw me revisit Sydney, Australia, but unlike my first visit in 2015 where I went Down Under solo, this time I escorted eight women aged 50+ to the land of Oz!  It was a monumental trip because it was the first official excursion for This…I…Do…For…Me and it was the first time some of the ladies had ever left the United States.  AUSTRALIA WAS EVERYTHING!

Our Sydney, Australia  Itinerary Included:  The Sydney Opera House Tour, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Cronulla Beach, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Seeing the Southern Cross at the Sydney Observatory, Sea Life Aquarium, Madam Tussaud, Watson’s Bay and Doyle’s Restaurant, Bondi Junction (for shopping) Day Trip to The Blue Mountains and numerous restaurants representing Thai, Greek, German, Italian and Mexican Cuisines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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OTHER 2017 THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME GROUP OUTINGS AND EVENTS

  1.  We took a Greek Cooking Class at Sur La Table in Chicago;
  2.  I and 12 TIDFM patrons participated in a Wine Tasting and Food Pairing led by Sommelier Brian Duncan at Eddie Vs on The Gold Coast;
  3. We attended The City Winery’s Sunday Concert Series; classical, jazz and choral music was the fare;
  4. We attended a Salute to Katherine Dunham at The Harold Washington Library;
  5. We attended both The Annual African American Film Festival and viewed a film monthly at The Gene Siskel Film Center;
  6. TIDFM sponsored its First Annual Book Swap and Dinner at Eddie Vs;
  7.  We attended three theatrical productions — Hamilton, An American in Paris and The Bodyguard;
  8. TIDFM in conjunction with Chisiko offered a Women Warrior Masterpiece Art Class at Robust Coffee Shop;
  9. We attended The Chicago Cultural Center’s showing of the documentary “Still I Rise” featuring the life of phenomenal Activist, Writer and Renaissance Woman Maya Angelou;
  10. We attended a musical performance featuring drummer extraordinaire Terri Lyne Carrington and Liz Wright;
  11. We attended Dixon School’s Annual African American Cultural Festival;
  12. I attended “Black Girls Gather” in Chicago hosted by “For Harriett “Writer and Activist Kimberly Foster;
  13. I was invited to join The Shanghai Committee for The Chicago Sister Cities Program;
  14. I even learned how to play Mah Jong;
  15. Attended The Annual Good Food Conference;
  16. I threw my first Paella Party (see pics below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am excited about 2018, as TIDFM will be traveling to Greece in September!  We will continue to experience the wonderful cultural scene that Chicago offers.

I will keep you posted on our other exciting events scheduled for throughout the year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  MAY PROSPERITY ABOUND! #thisidoforme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Musings on a Helicopter Tour and Being Daring at 50+ Years Old!

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NEW BLOG POST!

Recently, at a conference I attended in California, I met Katie Wilks, a representative from the travel and ticketing resource company Mighty Mongoose. This company has developed a reputation for offering exciting and fun ways to explore major cities across America through a wide range of attractions, tours and events.

After being given the opportunity as a blogger to experience one of their tours, I set out to select something different  — something that I wouldn’t ordinarily position myself to do.  I could have picked any one of their great offerings — a Walking Italian Food Tour, The Botanic Gardens (I’ve never visited there) and several trolley and bus tours. Although these were all packaged nicely, the one that stood out was The Helicopter Tour of Downtown Chicago. It was as if neon lights encircled it.

I have wanted to do something daring for quite some time!  When I was a child, I vowed that I would be a skydiver when I grew up.  I was that kid who was always enamored with people who were mountain climbers or something that had an element of risk.

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Photo: We (that’s me on the left) are in the cabin of the “copter”

Now, I must admit — I had to give taking advantage of this helicopter excursion a second thought.  After all, when I first dreamed of skydiving, I was a kid.  Now I’m a 50+ woman, who likes daring, but with caution. After I did due diligence, but more importantly after I thought about how I would feel if I didn’t go on the ride, I said yes!!!  I’m at that stage in life where I don’t want to let fear hold me back — it’s now or never!

Mighty Mongoose was gracious enough to allow me to bring a guest along for this exciting opportunity, so I ran a “Can You Guess My Favorite American City Contest” on my  This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM) Facebook Page!

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Twanda Gates of Milwaukee, Wisconsin guessed correctly — San Francisco!  Love that city!  Twanda, like me, loves to travel, and even more ironic, she has a bucket list of things to experience and a helicopter ride was on it!

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I just love when a plan comes together, especially when it involves playing a role in helping to bring someone’s dream to fruition.

Upon arrival at Chicago’s premier helicopter tour company Rotorzen, located at 1339 S. Wood Street,  we were given an orientation by its professional staff.  We were given an overview of the helicopter that we would ride in and the iconic Chicago sites we would see.  We then met the man of the hour — our experienced pilot, Travis, who would guide us on this excursion! By the way, Rotorzen operates out of the largest heliport in North America.

As we took off on Saturday, September 10, 2016, at 2:30 p.m., I and Twanda took a deep breath, then relaxed long enough to enjoy a new experience.

It’s one thing to see The Willis Tower, Millennium Park, The Hancock Building, Museum Campus, Soilder Field, Navy Pier, Trump Tower and even Lincoln Park Zoo all on ground level, but to see these well known sites well above 1,000 feet, is awe-inspiring.  All I could keep thinking was “I AM ACTUALLY DOING THIS!”

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TIDFM contest winner Twanda Gates put it this way, “The helicopter ride was such an exhilarating experience.  The pilot was personable and professional, and he was an excellent tour guide. Thanks to TIDFM and the excursion sponsor Mighty Mongoose for my first helicopter tour.”

As I reflect on this wonderful day, I can’t help but to feel encouraged by the fact that just because you’re 50+ years old, your dreams (both postponed or denied) can still manifest.

Too many times we look at situations and opportunities from the view point that we are way too old to try something new and daring.  We feel it’s too late, so we over enmesh ourselves  in other things and other people to compensate for our fear.  This is not healthy.  We want a balance between doing our thing and assisting others to do theirs.

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Too many times we say we are going to do something after we lose some weight, or after the kids are off to college or some other moment in time.  The time is now! Stop putting things off and LIVE!

Make a list of those things you want to do, do them, and add new items to the list on a regular basis. You will be amazed at yourself.

Thank you Mighty Mongoose and Rotorzen Tours for playing a role in me living my dreams.

 

All Photos Were Taken by Robin Tillotson and Twanda Gates

 

A RECAP: ONE YEAR OF THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME!

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It was exactly one year on August 15, 2015 that I launched This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM)! It has been a year of tremendous growth, creativity, meeting fascinating people, traveling to places that I thought I’d never visit and stepping out with the belief that I could carry TIDFM off into the world for the benefit of women who are 50 years of age and older!

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I am most proud of the business’s website thisidoforme.com; this is the pipeline for posting information for our clients and readers in the areas of Art/Literature, Theater/Dance, Music/Concerts, Food/Restaurants, For the Soul, and Travel. I chose to focus on these areas for the website, as well as the blog thisidoforme.wordpress.com because activities, outings and excursions would serve as the focal point to encourage our target population to immerse and treat themselves, particularly since they have spent countless years caring for others.

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Here are some of the fun things that I, along with my adventurous clients explored this past year:

TRAVEL

In September 2015 – It was 11 cities in France – Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Avignon, Monaco, St. Paul de Vence, St. Balme Maxime, Nice, Lyon and St. Tropez! I left feeling like France was my home.

In November 2015 – It was magnificent Sydney, Australia! I have a trip planned for eight people planned in November 2017!

In January 2016 – It was the beautiful shores of Orange County and Los Angeles, California!  Shopping and sheer relaxation was the order of day for a solid week.

In June 2016 – I had the honor of traveling to Madrid, Salamanca and La Alberca, Spain! It was here that I fell in love with the culture, the magnificent food and the warm and loving people. I even had the chance to take a short side trip to Dublin, Ireland! I must go back there if for no other reason than I must spend more time in some of neighborhood pubs that are full of life, laughter and good food to accompany that fun environment.

ON THE TRAVEL RADAR FOR 2017:

It’s looking like Atlanta, Georgia in January, Cuba in February and back to Sydney, Australia in November 2017! Life is Good!

THEATER AND DANCE

Some of the theater outings that TIDFM clients participated in included Byhalia, Mississippi at The Steppenwolf Theater, Lorraine Hansberry’s The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window at The Goodman Theater, the musical 42nd Street at The Cadillac Palace Theater, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at The Oriental Theater and Satchmo at the Waldorf at Hyde Park’s Court Theater.

ON THE THEATER AND DANCE RADAR FOR 2017:

The critically acclaimed Hamilton (hopefully my group’s name will move up the wait list)! If I see nothing else except Hamilton in 2017, it will have been a good year.

FOOD AND RESTAURANTS

Yes, I and my clients love to eat! I, along with food critic Eleni Murphy reviewed some interesting restaurants. Eleni even shared some of her London, England favs. Oftentimes, these restaurants were sampled following a theater performance. What a way to top off a great production!

Here are some of the restaurants visited and reviewed during TIDFM’s first year of operation:

1. Café Ba Ba Reeba (Chicago, Illinois)
2. Sobrino de Botin (Madrid, Spain)
3. NAC (London, England)
4. Kappacasein Dairy (London, England)
5. Granger and Co (London, England)
6. Berners Tavern (London, England)
7. Sweet Mandy B’s (Chicago, Illinois)
8. Del Seoul (Chicago, Illinois)
9. Summer House Santa Monica (Chicago, Illinois)
10. Dove’s Luncheonette (Chicago, Illinois)
11. Cemetia’s Puebla (Chicago, Illinois)
12. Nini’s Deli (Chicago, Illinois)
13. Podhalanka (Chicago, Illinois)
14. Mercado San Miguel (Madrid, Spain)

ON THE FOOD AND RESTAURANT RADAR IN 2017

1. Army Thai on Damen
2. La Palapa on 34th Street

ART AND LITERATURE

I and a client attended the “Portraits of Motherhood” Exhibit, which highlighted the artistic talent of Antonia Ruppert. I found a gem on the south side of Chicago – The Creative Room located in the heart of the Park Manor community. This design studio’s mission is to provide a space for people to create their own DIY (do it yourself) interior design projects.  Clemenstien Love is the mastermind behind this hidden treasure.

I provided overview of books that I’ve read over the past year – including a few children’s books. There were a mixture of travel, music, autobiography/memoirs, short stories and social justice commentaries.  They ranged from biographies of culinary icon Marcus Samuelsson to children’s classics like “Corduroy” by Don Freeman.  For reviews of the other selections, please check out the art and literature link on thisidoforme.com

ON THE ART AND LITERATURE RADAR IN 2017

I plan in conjunction with another entity to include my clients on a few Famous House Tours during the holidays. Please stay tuned.

FOR THE SOUL

One of my favorite things to do in conjunction with the business is learning about the myriad ways in which women care for themselves even in the midst of dealing with life’s stressors. This section of the website spotlights a diversity of women who share with TIDFM’s audience how they care for their souls, especially as they are taking care of other people, their jobs/businesses.  Please check it out as you might find some helpful hints on self-care and the exploration of new things.

My first year has been loaded with fun, doubt, new experiences and places, great people and a true excitement about TIDFM’s future growth.

The growth of TIDFM has manifested through the creation of a logo, connecting with Mighty Mongoose Tours to write a blog post of an upcoming helicopter excursion, participation in The Diverbo program in Spain, serving as a guest on the radio program “Living it Up After 50,” hired two freelance writers for the website, ran two TIDFM contests, announced TIDFM’s first international excursion to Sydney, Australia, and I was asked to review a self-empowerment book by a coaching expert.

I am grateful to our readers, those who traveled with me and those who joined us on a number of outings. In the coming year, I plan to broaden TIDFM’s reach, and I hope you will stick around for the ride.

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PHOTO ABOVE:  Me enjoying Indoor Skydiving!

 

MY ULTIMATE SOLO COOKING ADVENTURE — CELEBRATING MEALS ONE AT A TIME!

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Kweli Kitwana is a regular contributor to this blog (This…I…Do…For…Me!).  She openly shares her journey from taking care of others all of her life to now giving herself permission to focus on herself.  In this post, Kweli discusses how single people can have a great dining experience.  

Thank you, Kweli for sharing. 

Over two years ago, I found myself single again. Wait, let me rephrase that — over two years ago I ended 37 years of taking care of others, and I found a path toward taking care of myself. With this came the responsibility of rethinking how I nurture myself (including cooking for one). This seemed simple enough, because, I always saw myself as an excellent cook, host and creator in the kitchen. I could whip up a party for 20; a meal for eight; and make homemade vegan cookies by the batches–all in one day!! So, cooking for one, should have been easy.

It turns out that it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  Truth be told, I didn’t really understand that all of that fanfare of cooking was “fed” by making others happy and full. In retrospect, I now see it was fueled by a deeper journey with my own personal relationship with food.

I recall going on my first “singles” shopping trip during which I noted, I needed apples. Wait, I thought, I don’t need apples, I need AN apple. Looking at the apples, I realized at that moment I could choose any apple I wanted without the slightest consideration of one other person. It felt liberating, yes; but, it also brought about a complicated emotion. At that moment I knew that I hadn’t ever taken full control of my health, as I deferred my nutrition to other folks’needs.

Taking a survey of what I wanted meant one clear thing — doing for MYSELF what I have done for others!! It meant embracing, celebrating and recognizing that eating is an individual experience.

Logistically, this took some planning. I needed to downsize my effort without reducing and skimping on the outcome. Therefore, I committed to creating a beautiful, nutritious and kick-ass dining experience for myself every dang gone day!!

Here’s how I do it:

It seems silly to say this, but you simply keep doing what you always do, except on a smaller scale.

I bought myself a toaster oven. It makes cooking for one really easy.  How about that?
I literally created a set of toaster oven size bakeware for myself. I did this at the local ceramic studio. It may sound overwhelming to some, but it was simply rolling out clay, firing it and designing it. I wanted to cook in and eat on some special dishes. You can also buy toaster oven size bakeware if you aren’t interested in making your own.

Another helpful hint is that I shop in the bulk food section at my grocer.   Here I could buy small batches of grains and spices. Also, I get to explore more foods by purchasing them in smaller quantities.

Buying  produce when it is on sale and cutting them up to freeze gives me the option to eat more variety. Fresh is great, but I have realized when you eat as a single person, you have to plan for getting the most from your produce.

Giving myself permission to cook small batches of rice, beans and other items, I typically cook for more. I had to stay aware that the directions on most items are for 2-4 servings. Unless you want to have leftovers, do the math for one serving. I regularly cook one cup of dried beans.

Speaking of leftovers, I don’t like eating the same thing over and over, so I avoid this by  cooking using the “single-method.” I have become extremely creative!

For instance, I bake a cookie (or two…ok, three) at a time (cutting the recipe in half) and freezing the dough.

I have invested in various sizes of mason jars. These suckers are the best thing for storing food!! But, I also use them to bake small batch recipes.

Here is what I’m saying — treating yourself to a great meal is not only a good way to take care of yourself, but it’s been the best thing I done for myself in a long, long time. Now, I look forward to cooking and eating alone.

 

Sydney, Australia! PART 1

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Me at The Sydney Wildlife Center With Erica the Kaola!

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Photos: Robin at The Sydney Wildlife Center; on Bondi Beach; the Queen Victoria Building Clock; the famed Sydney Opera House

 

At the beginning of 2015, taking a trip to the continent of Australia was the furthest thing from my mind. Even though the country was on my bucket list, it was way down on the list — mainly because I knew very little about that continent. It seemed like a whole other world.  I just assumed that I would get there, sometime before I left this earth, not in 2015, however.  I hadn’t even identified a particular area (e.g. Melbourne, Perth, Tasmania, etc.) that I wanted to visit.  The mantra? JUST GO TO AUSTRALIA! JUST GO TO AUSTRALIA!

Ironically, though, my mind always went back to the many New Year’s Eve Day celebrations I watched on television over the past 10-15 years.  It is at this time that I, like many Americans, get to watch the New Year arrive first in Australia.  You always see the iconic Sydney Opera House, its beautiful architectural sails displaying some celebratory image, along with a fire works show that had you longing to be right there in the middle of all of the festivities.

Even though one could easily visit Melbourne, Perth, Cairns or even Tasmania, Sydney and its many beautiful sites — Darling Harbour, The Taronga Zoo, The Rocks, Bondi and Manley Beaches — was embedded in my subconscious mind to the point where I didn’t even think about other destinations in Australia.  Besides, even the name Sydney has a sophisticated ring to it!  Then the most serendipitous happening occurred — I came across an incredible fare (flight, accommodations and excursions) with Qantas Airlines!

At the time the opportunity to visit Sydney came up, I was already a month away from going to 11 cities in France. As  I began to mull this Sydney travel opportunity over in my mind,  each time I would try to convince myself to take advantage of that trip at another time. I said to myself,  “After all,  one major trip (France) a year should be enough for you, Robin.”

I continued to go back and forth, back and forth until…I finally decided the price and the amenities were too good to pass up.  Once again, I began talking to myself “Besides,  you only live once.”

I wouldn’t allow myself to think about Sydney, until I returned from France.  Even though it took me three weeks to recover from France jet lag, I still managed to muster up the energy to create an imminent dream trip that would be taken in less than two months. And a Dream Trip it was!

I must also mention that with all of the traveling that I’ve done, both domestically and internationally, Sydney was my first solo trip!

I know a few people that have traveled solo for many years, and they always touted that they loved these trips because they could awaken when they wanted, eat where and what they desired, be open and available to meet new people, and set their own schedule of daily sites to be seen. I have to admit, this was a new way to travel for me, but I was game!

Here is what I did:

DAY 1:  After getting settled in my hotel room at The Great Southern on George Street, I immediately ventured out for the first of my scheduled excursions — A Captain Cook Sydney Harbour Cruise.  This allowed me to see a panoramic view of The Sydney Harbour Bridge, along with the stunning Sydney Opera House.

I happened to befriend a group of Monks from Thailand, who were as friendly as they were serene and soft-spoken.  We took turns taking pics with each other’s cameras and/or cell phones.  We all stood on the ship awe struck that we were “Down Under” and grateful for having crossed each other’s paths.

I then enjoyed a delicious meal Al Fresco at Rossi’s, also on the Harbour.  The Italian food offerings were mouth watering.  Ironically, the eatery was Russian owned and operated.  It is important to mention that 44 per cent of Sydney’s population is not from Sydney.

DAY 2:  I awoke highly rested and energized to take on my next Sydney site — The Queen Victoria Building (QVB).  After The Opera House, The QVB, was my second most desired site to visit.  Talk about stunning — the architecture, the six domes atop of the building and the elegance of its interior was breath taking.  It was already decked out with Christmas decorations, and each store and boutique was beautifully organized and receptive to its customers.  Because my hotel was only seven blocks from The QVB (also on George Street), I ate breakfast there every morning.

Afterwards, I went back to Sydney Harbour, grabbed some good street food, and listened to the musicians situated at various points there.  Sydney is a great place to people watch, and again, I was struck by the amazing diversity of the city with its huge concentration of Asians.

I struck up a conversation with one of the musicians who hailed from Liverpool, England (the home of the Beatles). He specialized in the music of American folk artists.   He asked me if I had any musical requests, and being a big jazz fan, I couldn’t think of one folk artist or song in that moment. So he delighted me and all the others on The Harbour with tunes from Tracy Chapman, James Taylor and Joan Baez!

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In my next post, I’ll talk about the surprise new friendship that I formed.  Chat with you later, mates!