Oh hey, we’re in Norway. I know, I know, why would cheapskates like us be traveling in one of the world’s most expensive countries?  What happened was, I was looking at airfares online and I saw flights to Norway for $333 round-trip from Chicago.  How could I resist? So I bought two tickets to Oslo with […]

The way I understand art is through other art.  Like I don’t just look at something and say to myself, “Oh here we have a rare example of Midwestern Stick Style architecture from the 1880’s.” What I actually think is “Oh here we have an example of Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring in the form of […]

Sandwiched between boring high-rises, the Chicago Loop Synagogue is one of those sacred spaces that make you say “Gah!”. The building, constructed in 1957, is nothing special, but step inside… And CHECK OUT THIS STAINED GLASS. Artist Abraham Rattner loaded his glass masterpiece with symbols of the Jewish faith. And G-d said, “Let there be […]

Fellow church hounds, I know you get it: the delight of stumbling on an unexpected and, more importantly, unlocked church. With an unanticipated free afternoon in northeast Portugal’s Vila Nova de Foz Côa, HOB and I were lucky to find the 16th century parish church Igreja Matriz, smack in the middle of Foz Côa’s main […]

There’s a monastery in the town of Batalha that looks as it is carved from crystalized honey.  One of my finer life choices was to spend an entire day looking at it. (Okay, full disclosure, I probably would have crammed in at least one other monastery in our itinerary that day had the bus schedules […]

Arriving at the site of the 22,000 year old rock art in northwestern Portugal was uncomplicated—too uncomplicated.  I enjoyed getting there so much that I was hoping to drag the experience out more.  After sharing jeep ride with our guide from the Museu do Côa and another couple, we hiked a short distance through a […]

Growing up in the rural Midwest, I lived for several years in a resort for well-off city dwellers.  (My mom had remarried and some of my stepfather’s family owned and operated the place, and for a while he worked there too.)  The resort had artificially created lakes, golf courses, a concrete castle, and hilly roads […]

Oh 2018, you were a lot to handle.  The Manchurian Cantaloupe spent the year calling the free press the enemy of the people, changing cabinet members more than I change my sheets, putting babies in cages and licking the posteriors of authoritarian leaders.  I did my best to maintain a sense of humor (dicey at […]

Do yourself a favor and go see Jerónimos Monastery, a Manueline-style UNESCO World Heritage Site just outside of Lisbon.  Do yourself another favor and get there early.   HOB and I did arrive early, though not early enough to avoid a giant line.  While this was annoying and the catalyst of predictable marital discord (why, […]

Every country has what I call “the circuit.”  The circuit is the travel itinerary most tourists follow (Rome-Florence-Venice-eat lots of gelato-fly home).  When I put together our Portugal itinerary, I stuck to the circuit much more than I usually do.  HOB was having problems with his foot and I couldn’t anticipate if he’d be able […]