Tag Archives: Storiesfacesplaces

Panama City, Panama: A Juxtaposition

Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo

Panama City is a juxtaposition of old and new. We give some interesting information on Panama City. Our visit to the indigenous tribe on the Chagres River is fun and educational. Al offers up his arm for a small native tattoo. All this and more are on this episode of Stories Faces Places. Remember to join on our website and see the pictures and videos that go along with this podcast, it’s free.

Embera Indians
Embera Indians

Madrid: What area should we stay? Listener Question and Answer

"Live Statue" in Sol
“Live Statue” in Sol

 A couple from California is visiting Madrid in June, to explore the city, see museums, eat good food, and relax.

Q: We’re thinking of renting an apartment for a week in Madrid.  We have seen some units that we like around the Prado, and others around the Puerta del Sol. We like walking to restaurants and enjoying the city ambiance, but also appreciate a bit of quiet now and then.  Any recommendations are appreciated?

A:   Out of the 2 areas you mentioned, choose the Prado area for a more quiet apartment along with easy proximity to the museums, Retiro Park, restaurants, and shops. The area surrounding Puerta del Sol is a bustling, busy area; however there are plenty of side streets that are very quiet at night.  We like staying in the Sol area because it is right in the heart of it all.  All streets radiate from Puerta del Sol like the spokes of a bicycle.  It is an easy walk in one direction to Plaza Mayor, Mercado San Miguel, the Palace, Opera House, and the El Rastro area with the Sunday Market.

In the opposite direction you can walk to the Prado and museum campus along with Retiro Park.

In another direction you find Gran Via and many other shopping streets.

In a forth direction from Sol, you quickly find an endless supply of great Tapas places and restaurants.

Located one block off  Puerta del Sol is the huge department store and grocery, El Cortes Inglese, which makes it very convenient for picking up any items you may need, such as water and snacks, food and any household goods for living in Madrid.

We also enjoy being able to drop into our hotel or apartment throughout the day for a quick rest, and staying in the center of it all provides that with ease. There are so many great neighborhoods in Madrid to explore and stay in, each with it’s own personality.

Enjoy the planning and fall in love with Madrid, as we have! Please contact  us for any other information you may require.


Bologna, Italy: Wine, Food and Laundry

DSCN4395“Hey Al,” said Laura, “are those your boxers hanging in the courtyard?”
To my surprise, the answer to her question was in the affirmative. But before I go there,  allow me to digress and start from the beginning of our memorable experiences from our Bologna, Italy trip.

Bologna dates back at least 1,000 years. I said I would start at the beginning.  The University of Bologna is the oldest in the world, dating back to 1088. How interesting is that fun fact? To put it in perspective, our whole country, the U.S. is only 250 years old. We’re talking historical here in Bologna. There are more fun facts sprinkled throughout this podcast.DSCN4374

Our hotel was a unique and cozy family owned place called Hotel Porta San Mamolo.

“Would you guys join me for some wine in the kitchen later tonight?” asked Roberto the general manager and owner of this establishment, Mamolo.  “Of course,” we responded in stereo.

That wine meeting led us to his family’s vineyard and to a local restaurant that in my opinion is the only place needed to satisfy the palate while in Bologna.DSCN4439

So take a listen to this episode as we reminisce about our trip to Bologna, Italy and the Vineyard that became a resort.

DSCN4415We look forward to hearing from you by email, reviews, subscribe, and like us on Face Book.


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The Perfect Trip

Unfortunately,  there is no such thing as the one single perfect trip. They all are perfect, in their own little imperfect way, aren’t they?

So there you have it, the answer to that question we are asked most often. What’s the best place you’ve ever visited?

Don’t get discouraged so soon, read on and at the end you will know what it takes to find that perfect trip.

Maybe an answer like, “Oh”, said with lots of emotional seduction, when we stayed at the ultra-mega luxurious palace of the King on the little Island of always sunny, or when we swam naked with the humpback whales or was that swam with the humpback whales naked, as in without a protective cage, would be a more fascinating response, instead of that boring answer with which I lead this story.

The answer to the perfect trip is coming. Stay with me a second longer while I revisit my high school days at the all boy school run by religious brothers. I had just finished physics class with Brother Sullivan, and questioning my existence, I asked him what and why? What am I here for and why me?

I know, it sounds heavy, but it’s really not. It’s an inspiring  story that may give you that little bit of  “go for it”, putting any fears aside and opening up an enjoyable time. It is, as I see it, a road map on how to find that perfect trip.  Wait, I thought I said in opening this article that the perfect trip didn’t exist.   Yes, I did. You are not crazy, it’s probably me who is the crazy one.  Regardless of judging me as the nutcase,  read on, the perfect trip answer will be revealed.

Now, back to the story in which I asked Brother the what and why question.

With that, Brother said, “follow me”.

I know it sounds religious, but it’s not. He simply meant walk this way.

Walk this way I did, back to the empty lab room. He proceeded to tell me that I am sitting under the apple tree looking up at all the apples. He left me there, not physically, just mindfully. He went about shuffling papers around on his desk as if he was getting ready to correct them, which he probably was.

Three or four moments might have passed as I pondered the apple tree scenario. Then, I asked, “Are they ripe red apples?”

“Maybe”, he responded, taking a moment to stop with the papers. He was now looking at me, eye to eye.

My mind was racing, seeking something more definitive. “Can I climb up the tree and pick one,” I asked?

“If you want,” he said.

“Should I just sit here and wait for one to fall on my head,” I said, becoming more anxious for definiteness?

“You could,” he answered.

“Well,” I said with my frustration reaching new heights.   “How will I know if it is the right apple, what if it has worms, how will I know?”

He smiled. Then, rising from his chair,  he grabbed my right hand and placed his other hand on my shoulder saying, “Now you are getting it.”

With that, our conversation had ended.

If, in reading this now, and you are like me, you are a bit dumbfounded, asking what’s the point in all this and how does it relate to the perfect trip?

Maybe you just had that light shine. Either way, just take the trip. To this day, I’ve not found a worm in any apple I’ve bitten. There have been a few times when the apple was just ok. Sometimes you must add your own ingredients, but that’s when we’ve experienced the best apple pie. Then there are the times we find sweet and juicy apples.

If you choose not to climb the tree and wait for that apple to hit you on the head, you have taken away your own ability to pick your trip. In order to know the perfect journey, one must have a journey to compare. It’s the not so good apples that make the sweet and juicy ones great. We need both.

There you have it, the steps required for the perfect trip. Enjoy.

Note: When I wrote this post it was a simple stand alone article. It has now become the idea behind our new podcast titled Spain: The Perfect Trip in Retrospect.  It’s a story of a string of miss-queues told in reverse, changing disaster into the perfect trip.  It will be posted Friday, October 23, 2015, in two days. I am always amazed at how things go, come, and are.




Podcast: Ljubljana, Slovenia: Diversity, Great People, and How We Ate Raw Horse

Join us  as we answer the question, Did the waitress say, “horse”?   Yes she did; and we ate it. But with this disclaimer, “Andrew Zimmerman, it did not make us”.  We visit a Castle in which the king was de-throned by a cannonball while answering the call of nature. We experience medieval castle torture. We visit the wonderful natural countryside of Slovenia, and have fun at a food fest. Those stories and a few others are on this episode of Stories Faces Places.

Eat like a local.
Good Eats
Hiking in a gorge and ending at a waterfall.
Hiking in a gorge and ending at a waterfall.








The below is a link to an article from an earlier blog post on Ljubljana

Predjama Castle
Predjama Castle

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Dragons, Argonauts, and the Golden Fleece


How to Protect Yourself from Pickpockets, Scammers, and Scoundrals

Al's contribution to gluttony
A Contribution to Gluttony

Brussels, Belgium, Brussels, Belgium, yes, I repeated myself. I’m thinking. Brussels, Belgium is the capital of Europe and the setting for many spy films.  Well, on second thought, maybe not. I can’t think of one spy thriller actually filmed here.  But hey, the spy thing works well as an opening for this podcast.

Once upon a time, another great opening, what started out as an innocent evening of a contribution to gluttony, turned into a spy thriller, not really. It was more like that seventies cop show quote,  Book’m Dano.   So we dubbed it the day Laura became the self-appointed Chief Pickpocket Inspector of the Sûreté de l’État.  Yes, we joined the ranks of Barney Fife and Inspector Clouseau. Excuse me, Chief Inspector Clouseau.

Once you get past Al’s wish to simply make it through the evening alive, you may glean some insights about preventing future pickpockets,  scammers, or scoundrels from making a catastrophe out of your next holiday.  That story, and a few other scams we’ve encountered are on this episode of Stories Faces Places.


Podcast: Palermo, Sicily; What no Towels?

Palermo, Sicily,  land of primo lasagna, fresh seafood, wine, song, and as some believe, Cosa Nostra.  Maybe it’s my naivety, but it seems to me that the younger generations have a different entrepreneurial spirit, but who knows?  We were there for the Lasagna (with a capital L), the fresh seafood, and the pleasing wine.  In addition,  we visit a catacomb exposing the bodies fascinatingly different from any other, bringing a new slant to that over used Latin phrase paying tribute to our beloved passing, “In Memoriam”.   Our visit ends with an overnight voyage to Napoli aboard a ferry/freighter, freighter/ferry. I am not certain what to call it, a freighter or a ferry. It could be either or both.  Those stories and a few other tidbits on what to do in Palermo are on this episode of Stories Faces Places.

Pick up some fresh catch at Palermo's daily market!
Pick up some fresh catch at Palermo’s daily market.
Daily Market in Palermo
Daily Market in Palermo
Exit the overnight Ferry from Palermo to Sorrento right along with the semi-trucks and cars!
Exit the overnight Ferry from Palermo to Sorrento right along with the semi-trucks and cars.