Tag Archives: happiness

Motivational Travel Thoughts

dsc02310In this episode, we answer some of the emails we receive. As we claim to learn a lot about ourselves in the opening and closing of each of our podcasts, many of our listeners want to know what we learn from our travels. We share a little of ourselves and the things we learn, like listening to others, accepting others beliefs and not trying to make others believe the same as we believe. We also share a story of how we learn gratefulness. So join us and share your own thoughts with us!


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Happiness is…A Rainy Day or Six

To some happiness is a feeling of joy and of peace.  To others happiness is a fun time spent with friends or strangers, and still to others happiness is a moment of accomplishment. However each of us decide to define happiness, to me it is something that usually comes from unexpected happenings. When you least expect it is when you find it, fleeting or not.

In a recent rainy day, let me correct myself, a recent rainy bunch of days strung together, we found fun, and happiness through the gloom of being stuck in a hotel room in a foreign country.  Sometimes it is what you make of it. It’s your attitude.

The most interesting thing about those rainy days in Dubrovnik, Croatia is the fact that our Dubrovnik, Game of Thrones  podcast became a top three travel podcast by Spreaker and their favorite one of all of our other podcasts.

So even though we felt doom and gloom from all the rain, unexpectedly we found happiness that we projected into our podcast, and received a completely unexpected recognition.

Happiness comes from the most unexpected places and directions. Sometimes it’s just a matter of going with what you have and not thinking about that which we do not.

Montserrat, Day Trip Out of Barcelona

This is one of those bucket list checks.  Numerous people have heard of Montserrat.  Here is a brief outline just touching the surface of this historical place.  Spending time here can be productive.  To start, Montserrat is a mountain top monastery carved into the side of the mountain called Montserrat.  It is located just 30 miles north and east of Barcelona, still in the Catalonian province.  If you are staying in Barcelona, a visit here is a good day trip, and as mentioned earlier a bucket list check.

MontserratTo get there is relatively easy, unless of course you do not pay attention, yes, like me.  It is simply a train or two and a ride up the mountain.  It is that easy, if you pay attention to your directions.  So, if you start in Barcelona, first make your way to the main train station at Placa d’Espanya, do not fret, the trains leave on the half hour, err, every 30 minutes.  You will be looking for the R5 line to Montserrat.  It is recommended that you purchase the full pass, a round trip ticket consisting of the train to and from Montserrat,  and the Funicular train up the mountain.  There is an alternate substitution instead of the funicular.  But in order to make that choice, know this first.  The main rail, the R5 line drops you at the station in Montserrat at the bottom of the mountain.  A short walk across the street and you can board the Funicular.  It is a fairly simple trip just note the directions you are traveling.  I know this sounds funny but the return train will be to Barcelona.  I’m just saying.  It happens.  It is about twenty euros, assuming prices have not changed.

The alternate substitution, mentioned earlier, is to substitute the funicular for the Cable Car.  I know it sounds like a fun switch, but I threw caution into the wind, literally.  On the mountain, it can get windy and shut the cable car down.  If that happens you will be fighting for the funicular.  I mean that, the crowds can be, well, crowded.

The train ride out of Barcelona can be well, let’s just say, uneventful.  However, once you reach the mountains, err, foothills, the ride becomes scenic.  Then the funicular ride is just that, fun too.

Okay, now you are at the monastery and here is the brief history.  The place has been cared for and maintained quite well.  Gaudi, that artist guy who designed that church in Barcelona that is still under construction and has been for the past too many, way too many years, and  I do not want to digress so the details on that place come in a later post, but anyway, he had a hand in the design of the Altar.  You will see the resemblance between the Altar at Montserrat and his other creation in Barcelona.  I am not a fan of Gaudy, but when I say Dr. Seuss , well you will understand that the architect does not work with straight lines.

Moving on, the most publicized pinnacle of a visit to Montserrat is the original replica of the Black Virgin or Black Madonna.  It is a twelfth century carved statue of the Virgin.  Legend has it that it became dirty over the years, but there are tons of other stories swirling around.  It sits wrapped in Gold behind the Altar.  You can reach it, touch and stand right next to it by traversing a small stairway.  Others will be there, so patience is helpful.  The real statue is still in the cave and under secure watch.  There is a way to get to it that requires some effort, and I wish you luck. The one behind the Altar is just fine.

Every day the Montserrat boys choir sings in the chapel, right in front of the Altar which is in front of the Virgin. That is a beautiful sight and sound.  Close your eyes and listen to the chants and songs of the choir.  It is extremely relaxing and very soothing.  The sound is amplified perfectly with the construction of the church interior by itself.  No electronics are needed.

DSCN2052 Venture outside the grounds of Montserrat.  There are numerous walk ways and paths to share some great alone time.  One walk takes you up the side of the mountain through the stations of the cross, depicting Jesus’ last journey to the Crucifixion.  It can be a very spiritual meditation.  Bring some snacks to enjoy along the way.  You will find some great vistas and benches and large boulders to sit on to take in the beauty of this serene place.

Stay safe by staying on the trails that look like they are used a lot.  This particular trail of the stations should be fine.  But remember, just like you would anywhere in the US, be aware.  The same advice could be given hiking the grand canyon.

Here is a trivia note: The Caribbean Island of the same name was named after this place, Montserrat.  Read on, it was Columbus.

Some History:  At about the year 1000, an Abbot and Bishop founded the monastery, a cloistered place of prayer. The Benedictine order had some influence over the years.  And in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a church was built with the carving of the Virgin Mary, now known as the Black Madonna.  The first recorded evidence of the Boy’s Choir shows up at about twelve hundred.  The monastery grabbed more notoriety when, in 1493, Columbus named a Caribbean island after the Mountain.  At the turn of 1800, Napoleon was out conquering the world and blew the monastery right off the side of the mountain.  Apparently he didn’t like the ability it would have had to house his enemies.  Fifty years later, the monks returned and rebuilt the monastery.  The Spanish Civil War took its toll on the monastery killing numerous monks and halting the reconstruction until the end of the war.  The place is all rebuilt and redesigned to comfortably handle the many pilgrims and tourist a-like that visit the monastery each year.  The monastery was visited by the Pope in 1982.  Today, there is a somewhere around 100 or so monks there at the monastery.  The Benedictine order runs the place well. They live on site and in the building, closed to the public, adjacent to the Basilica.

Upon returning back to Barcelona from your day long trip to Montserrat, grab yourself a bottle of vino, sit out on the porch of your hotel room, slowly sip the wine, and contemplate what life is all about.  Think of the serene place you just visited.  Think of what it was like to hike up to such a place.  You just rode up in a great comfortable train which didn’t exist.  Imagine what it might have been like getting there in 1200.  Think how dedicated was that activity of contemplation.  The search for a higher spiritual person or self, the search for salvation and redemption was a strong pull.  Whatever else comes into your mind, just let it go.  You may be spiritually renewed.  Life can take on new meanings when new experiences are contemplated.

For more information, go here; informacio@larsa-montserrat.com

What to do in Naples, FL; Fifth and Third Walk

One of the to do’s in Naples Florida is to take in Fifth Avenue, and if you are a walker add Third Street to the journey. If you make it to Third Street, time it so that you reach Third slightly before sunset. Then, while you are enjoying Third, stroll over to the Naples Pier, you can see dolphin hanging out around the Pier as they come up for air. Manatee hang there in season. You may also catch a glimpse of a sea turtle if you are there during the right time.

Ok, so now for the details. Start at one of the two parking garages. They are free, and both are located on the east end Fifth Ave. One garage is on the north side, the other is on the south side. Follow the “Blue P” signs. There is also ample parking in the streets, but be aware of any permits that might be required. The parking garages are the safest bet.

Numerous restaurants and shops flank Fifth Avenue. A partial list of eateries includes, Chops, Yabba, Pazzo, Bistro 821, Vergina, Bellini, Café Luna and many others. Café Luna advertises the best value on the strip. Their tagline is  “A Veally Good Deal“. You might have guested, it is Italian food. There is a link to each of the websites here. Check them out directly to determine you own cravings.

Walking all the way down Fifth, that is, in the opposite direction of the garages, puts you right onto the beach. So if you do not feel like hiking over to Third to see the sunset from the Pier, you can catch the sunset and a view of the Pier from the beach at the end of Fifth.

If you take the stroll to Third Street you will turn left onto Third Street from Fifth Avenue. Know that streets run north and south and avenues run east and west. The sun sets in the west over the water. Being an east coaster, making that adjustment was DSCN0002slightly disorienting at times, as on the east coast the program runs the opposite with the water being east.

The sunset is beautiful over the Gulf. Hope for a few clouds and you can really get a great light show, with different hues of reds bouncing off all the clouds, lighting up the area in a mind-blowing spectacle when the sun is below the horizon. So sometimes with random clouds, the real color shows up five minutes after the sun falls below the horizon. Hope you do not see the green flash.

Stroll back along the beach to Fifth if you want, take in dinner at the numerous places along Third, or head back to Fifth for a dinner alfresco.
Whatever you fancy, this is the basis to a fun evening, customize it to fit your own schedule. You will not be disappointed.

Keewaydin Island, Naples

Someone sent me this video about an adventure to Keewaydin Island in Naples, Florida. I think the videography, editing and the music are very professional. The very last scene in the video captures a moon, not the lunar kind. I just wished they had edited that one out. But I elected to go with the video because in my opinion it is not really offensive. We have all scene bums. This one is from a distance for a split second. But the rest of the video is enjoyable, really.