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Dublin Weekend

Dublin, the capital of Ireland, offers historic charm and modern attractions, making it the perfect destination for a long weekend. Begin your journey at Trinity College, home to the Book of Kells. This historic manuscript, dating back to the 9th century, is a marvel of early medieval art. Then, take a leisurely stroll through the college’s picturesque grounds and visit the iconic Long Room in the Old Library. This room houses over 200,000 of Trinity’s oldest library books.

Next, head to Dublin Castle, a symbol of the city’s evolution from a Viking settlement to a bustling metropolis. The castle’s grounds offer a fascinating glimpse into Ireland’s complex history. Don’t miss the Chester Beatty Library. Located within the castle complex, it showcases a remarkable collection of manuscripts, prints, and rare books from around the world.

Dublin’s Cultural Scene

Dublin’s cultural landscape is rich and diverse, offering something for every taste. Dedicate a morning to exploring the National Gallery of Ireland. Here you can admire works by Irish and international artists, including Caravaggio and Vermeer. Art lovers should also visit the Irish Museum of Modern Art, set in the magnificent Royal Hospital Kilmainham. This is the contemporary Irish art hub and can’t be missed.

For a taste of Dublin’s literary heritage, take a literary walking tour or visit the Dublin Writers Museum. Both will expose you to lives and works of literary giants like James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, and Samuel Beckett. To experience the local performing arts scene, watch a play at the Abbey Theatre, showcasing the best of Irish drama.

Dublin’s Modern Sights

No visit to Dublin is complete without indulging in its modern delights. Start with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, where you learn the history and brewing process of Ireland’s iconic beer. The tour ends with a pint at the Gravity Bar, offering panoramic views of the city. For whiskey enthusiasts, the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street provides an engaging tour and tasting experience.

Dublin’s food scene has flourished in recent years. Enjoy a meal at one of the city’s many gastropubs, where traditional Irish fare is served with a contemporary twist. For a special treat, dine at Chapter One or Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, both Michelin-starred establishments offering exquisite cuisine.

In the evenings, experience Dublin’s vibrant nightlife in the Temple Bar district. This area is famous for its lively pubs, live music, and bustling atmosphere. Whether you’re enjoying traditional Irish music at The Cobblestone or sipping cocktails at a trendy bar, the spirit of Dublin comes alive at night.

Spending a long weekend in Dublin promises a delightful mix of history, culture, and modern pleasures. This trip promises a memorable experience in a charming, historic city.

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Benefits of Solo Travel

Traveling solo opens doors to new perspectives, increases personal growth, and allows for exploration of diverse cultures. Here is why I love solo travel, and it’s benefits. I’d recommend it to anyone needing a getaway this year.

Authentic Connections

Solo travel provides a unique opportunity for deep cultural connectivity. When exploring the rich makeup of Europe alone, you are more likely to engage with locals or fellow travelers. Whether enjoying a meal in a local eatery or bustling market, solo travel encourages authentic connections. You will understand the places you visit on many more levels.

Personal Growth

Navigating a foreign land alone improves self-discovery and personal growth. The challenges and triumphs of solo travel enriches resilience, adaptability, and a heightened sense of self-reliance. From conquering language barriers to navigating unfamiliar public transportation, each experience contributes to a greater sense of independence and self-confidence.

Flexibility and Spontaneity

One of the beneficial aspects of solo travel is the freedom to be spontaneous. Without the constraints of group dynamics, you have the flexibility to change your itinerary on a whim. You can explore hidden gems off the beaten path or linger longer in a place that captures your spirit. Embracing spontaneity allows for a more organic and fulfilling travel experience.

Restful Retreats

Solo travel provides moments for mindful reflection and introspection. Whether sitting by the calming lakes of Switzerland or meditating in a temple in Asia, solo trips offer a break. You will not have the demands of daily life to wear upon you. These moments of solitude become a backdrop for self-reflection.  You foster a deeper connection with yourself and the world around.

Journey for Your Interests

Traveling alone enables you to tailor the journey entirely to your interests and preferences. Whether you’re an art enthusiast exploring the museums of Paris, a nature lover hiking through the landscapes of Japan, or savoring local foods in Thailand, the solo traveler has the freedom to craft a personalized itinerary that speaks to their passions.

Building Confidence

Solo travel is a powerful spark for building confidence and independence. Navigating unfamiliar environments, making quick decisions, and solving problems contribute to a profound sense of empowerment. These newfound skills extend beyond the journey, influencing various aspects of life upon return.

Your first on a solo trip overseas is a remarkable adventure that surpasses sightseeing. It’s an adventure of self-discovery, cultural immersion, and personal growth. The freedom to explore at your own pace, connect with cultures, and embrace spontaneity makes solo travel an enriching experience. Your memories will remain in your heart long after you return home.

Where do you want to go?

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Summer Vacation

As the school bells ring their final chime, it’s time to decide on the family summer vacation plans.  Coming up with a trip that provides “fun” for everyone (and all ages) requires thoughtful planning. Here’s a guide to help you plan the perfect summer getaway for your family this summer.

Your Family’s Vacation Goals

Begin by gathering your family for a discussion on vacation goals. Identify shared interests and preferences to create an itinerary that resonates with everyone. Whether it’s sandy beaches, a mountain adventure, or cultural exploration, understanding your family’s vision sets the tone for your vacation.

Realistic Budget

Establish a realistic budget that aligns with your family’s financial comfort. Consider factors such as accommodation, transportation, meals, and activities. Research cost-effective options and explore discounts or package deals to maximize your budget. Without compromising on the quality of your vacation, you will enjoy savings and fun for the family.

Family-Friendly Destinations

Select a destination that offers diverse interests for all ages within your family.  Look for destinations offering a variety of activities, attractions, and amenities suitable for children and adults. Whether it’s a theme park, a national park, or beach resort, choose a location that’s a well-rounded experience for your family.

Age-Appropriate Activities

Tailor your itinerary with age-appropriate activities to ensure everyone has a good time. Consider the interests of your younger children, teenagers, and all the adults. Be sure to incorporate a mix of adventure, relaxation, and educational experiences for all tastes.  Strike a balance between planned activities and free time for spur-of-the-moment exploration or relaxation.

Create a Flexible Itinerary

While planning is essential, allow room for flexibility in your itinerary. Unexpected discoveries and adventures often become the most cherished memories. Leave space for downtime and unplanned activities, ensuring your family can embrace the joy of exploration without feeling rushed.

Pack Thoughtfully

Encourage each family member to contribute to the packing process. Create a checklist to ensure essentials like clothing, toiletries, and any specific items related to planned activities are not forgotten. Pack snacks, entertainment, and comfort items for the journey, especially if traveling with younger kids.

Planning a family summer vacation involves a delicate balance of organization and flexibility. By defining goals, setting a budget, and choosing a family-friendly destination you set the stage for a memorable vacation experience. Embrace the chance to create lasting memories, strengthen your family bonds, and enjoy shared adventures under the summer sun.

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Traveling to Scotland

Scotland, a land of rugged landscapes, ancient castles, and warm-hearted people. It invites travelers on a journey steeped in history, culture, and breathtaking views. From the dramatic Highlands to the historic cities, every corner of Scotland unveils a unique part of its rich history. Plus, it’s also the filming sites for my favorite book series and TV show, Outlander!

Edinburgh – The Capital

Start your Scottish adventure in the capital city, Edinburgh. This city is a blend of historic charm and contemporary energy. Explore the iconic Edinburgh Castle, balanced atop Castle Rock, offering panoramic views of the city. Wander down the Royal Mile, a historic main street lined with medieval architecture, lively street performers, and traditional pubs. Plunge into the city’s cultural scene with a visit to the National Museum of Scotland or a stroll through the art-filled Dean Village.

The Highlands

Plan to travel north to the Scottish Highlands, where dramatic landscapes and historic castles await. Drive through Glencoe, a valley of towering peaks and haunting beauty with a tragic history. Explore Eilean Donan Castle, an iconic fortress nestled on a small island. This castle provides a glimpse into Scotland’s medieval past and you can stay on the grounds. Hike through the Cairngorms National Park, a wilderness of rugged mountains, ancient forests, and pristine lochs.  If you love the outdoors, the Highlands is for you.

Stirling

Stirling, with its historic significance and cultural richness, is a must-visit destination. Explore Stirling Castle, a symbol of Scottish royalty, and the surrounding Old Town with its cobbled streets and ancient architecture. Pay respect to the iconic Wallace Monument. This icon is standing tall on Abbey Craig, commemorating the national hero Sir William Wallace. Stirling’s blend of history and vibrant culture captures the sense of Scotland’s resilience and national pride.

Glasgow

Travel to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, known for its contemporary flair and artistic vibrancy. Explore the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, housing a diverse collection of art, artifacts, and natural history exhibits. Stroll through the trendy West End, filled with independent boutiques, cafes, and the beautiful Kelvingrove Park. Glasgow’s modern and creative spirit offer a dynamic contrast to the country’s historic landscapes.

Castles and Battlefields

Embark on a castle-hopping adventure through Scotland’s scenic countryside. Visit the, the majestic Fort William or the fairy-tale-like Craigievar Castle, soon to be newly renovated in late spring 2024. Each fortress carries tales of centuries past, from royal intrigues to battles fought on Scottish soil. The Battle of Culloden was fought on a soggy field over 200 years ago, and would change Highland culture forever. The well-preserved historic sites stand as guardians of Scotland’s history and heritage.

Scottish Traditions

Experience the warm hospitality and traditions of the Scottish people. Attend a traditional ceilidh dance, where lively music and energetic dancing showcase Scotland’s rich cultural heritage. Taste traditional Scottish cuisine, including haggis, neeps and tatties. These treats can be savored with a “dram” of Scotch whiskey a beverage deeply rooted in the nation’s identity.

Scotland’s pull lies not only in its breathtaking landscapes and historic castles but also in the warmth of its people. Don’t forget the resilience of its culture too. Whether you’re exploring the streets of Edinburgh, hiking the Highlands, or exploring Glasgow’s art scene, Scotland promises a lifetime experience. A journey that transcends time and leaves unforgettable memories of its beauty and tradition.

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Celebrities Like Us

Finishing up the book, “My Name is Barbra,” I never thought celebrities were like us.  But after reading this book it made me realize you can have all the fame and money in the world and still have setbacks.  Here are the lessons learned from music and cinema legend, Barbra Streisand’s 60-year career.

Stand Up for Yourself

Ms. Streisand had to overcome a great deal of prejudice in her career, and not just in the beginning in the 1960’s. As a twenty-year old Broadway star to a 40-something director, she prevailed despite unfair treatment. I love how she was a rule follower, (even when there were no rules) wanting to “do the right thing.”

When she was harassed on a movie set for more than year, she tried to “toughen up” and work with the famous actor.  It wasn’t until months later when her health was at risk, the situation changed for the better.  No one stood up for her, she had to advocate for herself. Be your own support system and act. If you are in a bad situation, you need to make it better. Seek help and take action.

Take Risks

Barbra was a trailblazer from the very start. Growing up without a father since age 8, her mother was overly protective. Barbra learned early on to take risks and do what “felt” right in situations at school and her career. Call it “street smarts” or intuition, she listens to her gut.  If she feels something is calling her, like being the first female director of a major motion, she does it!  “Yentl” was her first movie of many more directorial credits.  “You’ll always regret not trying, and you always lose unless you do try!”

Keep Learning

As we get older your experiences provide wisdom and learning opportunities. Hard work was always a pillar of Barbra’s success, along with learning new aspects of show business. She went from night clubs, to Broadway to movies to behind the camera. She kept learning for herself and for own curiosity. This growth mindset keeps her open to new opportunities along the way. She found love again in her 50’s by pushing herself past her shyness in social situations.  Keep learning to stay healthy!

To sum up, the details of Barbra Streisand’s career is fascinating. But overall, she took chances, nurtured her talent, and pushed beyond current norms to build a very successful career. Strong women would love her story and might also see aspects of themselves in her life and lessons.

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Valentine’s Day Gifts

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, and what better way to express your affection than gifts from the heart? While grand gestures are wonderful, sometimes it’s the simple, thoughtful presents that leave a lasting impression. Here are three heartfelt and budget-friendly gift ideas that will surely make your Valentine’s Day special without breaking the bank.

Handwritten Love Letter

In the age of online everything, there’s something incredibly intimate about receiving a handwritten love letter. Take the time to put pen to paper and express your feelings in a heartfelt note. Share your favorite memories, the reasons you love your partner, or your hopes for the future.

A handwritten letter adds a personal touch that can’t be replicated by a text or email. Consider placing the letter in a decorative envelope or tying it with a ribbon for an extra romantic touch.

Customized Memory Jar

Create a personalized memory jar filled with cherished moments and shared experiences. Gather small pieces of paper and jot down memories, inside jokes, or reasons why you love your partner. Fold each note and place them in a decorative jar.

Your significant other can pull out a memory whenever they need a pick-me-up. It’s a sentimental gift that continually reminds both of you of the special moments you’ve shared. This gift not only reflects on your shared history but also looks forward to creating more beautiful memories together.

DIY Book

Gift your loved one a homemade coupon book filled with redeemable gestures. Include IOU’s for a homemade dinner, a movie night of their choice, or a relaxing massage. Personalize the coupons based on your partner’s preferences and the things they love.

This gift shows your commitment to spending quality time together. It also allows you to tailor the coupons to your partner’s tastes. It’s a meaningful and cost-effective way to offer your time and attention, making for a memorable Valentine’s Day.

Thoughtful and affordable gifts can be just as meaningful, if not more, than expensive ones. By putting in the effort to create something personal, you not only save money but also show your partner that your love is genuine and comes from the heart.

This Valentine’s Day, let your creativity and affection shine through these thoughtful, budget-friendly gift ideas.

For more inspiration or a travel idea for Valentine’s Day check out my travel website: KathyHusserTempe.net

 

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Weekend in New York

 

Looking for a holiday getaway or a quick trip in January?  A weekend in New York City might fill the bill as long as you dress warm!

Flights

To maximize our budget think about flying into a smaller neighboring airport such as Newark in New Jersey.  Even Long Island Airport in Islip is doable with the train station so close.  Planning your flight midweek or even on a Thursday will help with airfare and might be less crowded.

But even these days, my flights this year have all been full. Be prepared to have extra time checking in at TSA or think about signing up for Pre-Check or Clear to make security lines less of a hassle. (Some credit cards will also reimburse you for these and other services, so check with your card company.)

Sights of NYC

Be sure to secure your hotel or VRBO near a subway or train line. NYC’s mass transit system is one of the best in the United States.  Being within walking distance of Times Square, Central Park, and museums are the best “home bases” for your trip.

Plan your visits along the subway line so you don’t miss out on winter activities in New York. Ice skating at Rockefeller Center and the NYC Rockettes usually have audiences through January.  Don’t forget the standards such as The Metropolitan Museum or Museum of Modern Art for your art and history lovers. Lines might be long at MoMA, so check the website for hours and special events. At night with the Christmas lights is also a site to see and enjoy this time of year.

Food

 Dining options are everywhere in New York. From fast food pizza to fine dining, you will have your pick for any budget. If you’re only in NYC for the weekend, maybe one or two “nice” dinners at an Italian eatery. Then the next day, think about grabbing breakfast (some are still free) at your hotel or café to people watch. Asking the locals (at your activities) is one of the best ways to get reliable local restaurant and eatery recommendations.

Remember to be flexible with your travel companion and plans in general. You might want to think about extending a work trip to enjoy the sights.  More people than ever are traveling and patience is needed to navigate trips these days.

Just enjoy the memories, photos, and last-minute trip flying off to New York.  Travel is the best way to experience new places, people, and cultures…so enjoy!

For more travel inspiration check out: KathyHusserTempe.com

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My First Waymo Ride

 

Ever wonder what it’s like trying something totally new?  My first Waymo ride in a driverless car for work was wild and here’s why.

No Driver

Yep, the car got me from Point A to my home without a driver! The car maneuvered through traffic and “watched” for foot traffic (which can be challenging in Tempe near Arizona State University.) All six miles without a bump or hitch the entire drive. The car maintained the speed limit and was never “aggressive” like some people in vehicles can be.  Plus, all the stares from the other cars was hilarious since I was in the back seat!

Easy to Use

To locate a Waymo vehicle and have your ride arrive, install the Waymo app.  The app is similar to Uber or Lyft in that Waymo knows where you’re currently located and the address of where you want to go. Once paid, the app tells you how long the wait will be and your estimated time of arrival.

When Waymo arrives, driverless, you enter the code provided by the app to unlock the door and enjoy your ride. Easy to use for work or personal errands any time of day even during a late night.

The car takes over, and safely drives you to your final drop off spot. That’s it, except for that weird feeling of being out of control and anticipating traffic. The car’s multiple computer sensors detect obstacles and maps out other vehicles surrounding the car. The trip was uneventful and so convenient when you just “need a quick ride.”

Tempe, Arizona

I live in Tempe and Waymo, along with other companies, is piloting the driverless program here. The cars regularly “hang out” waiting to be called up in my neighborhood. I’m located next to Arizona State University, so I live in an urban hub with lots of activities, tourists, and students. Tempe is a perfect “testing ground” for this innovative technology that is being refined to go mainstream in time.

I think the main obstacle to overcome isn’t the technology or driverless ride, but rather people’s expectations. It’s difficult to change behaviors especially as something as emotional as driving and our love of cars.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 10 or 15 years and how this new industry is adapted.

For more living well, tips check out: KathyHusserTempe.com

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Health Retreats

Going on a health retreat by yourself can be a great way to take some time for yourself. You can focus on your physical and mental well-being. However, it’s important to do your research and choose a retreat that meets your specific needs and goals. Here are some things to look for when going on a health retreat solo.

The program

Make sure that the retreat offers a program that aligns with your goals. If you’re looking to lose weight, a retreat that focuses on yoga and meditation may not be the best fit. Also, if you’re looking to detox and cleanse your body, a retreat that focuses on clean eating is a better fit.

Location

The location of the retreat can have a big impact on your overall experience. If you’re looking for a peaceful and secluded retreat, consider a remote location. A location that is far from the hustle and bustle of daily life is a good match.  If you’re looking for a more active retreat, consider a location offering outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, or swimming.

The staff

The staff at the retreat can make or break your experience. Look for a program that has experienced and qualified staff who are dedicated to helping you achieve your goals. Read reviews and testimonials from past guests. These will give you an idea of the level of care and attention you can expect from the staff.

Accommodations

The accommodations at the retreat can affect your overall experience. Look for a retreat that offers comfortable and clean rooms that will help you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. Consider the type of space that best suits your needs, such as a private suite or a shared room.

Your Budget

Look for a program that fits your budget. Retreats can vary widely in price, so it’s important to find one that meets your financial needs. Keep in mind that a higher cost doesn’t always guarantee a better experience. Do your research…always!

Length of Your Stay

Look for a schedule that offers the length of stay that best fits your individual needs. Some retreats offer a day, a weekend, or a week-long program.  Consider the success (and joy) you’ve had on similar trips. You are the best judge to know your limits, so don’t push it.

Finally, look for a retreat that offers follow-up care, such as coaching or support groups. This is to help you maintain the progress you make during the retreat. Sustainable habits will last a lifetime and so will your memories.

Remember, taking care of yourself is a lifelong commitment. Your first health retreat can be an excellent step towards that goal.

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Beach Reads 2023

As summer ramps up and vacation calls, it’s the perfect time to read a good book while lounging beachside. As a librarian, here a few “beach read” recommendations sure to please any reader.  Each title promises to transport you to different worlds and capture the heart of this summer season.

Strong Women

Dive into a story of love, self-discovery, and sandy shores with “The Summer of Lost and Found” by Mary Alice Monroe. The story is set in the enchanting coastal town of fictional Sullivan’s Island. This novel brings together the lives of three generations of women as they navigate their personal journeys.

With vivid descriptions of the beach and an exploration of family dynamics, this book is a perfect beach read. For those seeking an emotional and touching summer read about family, chose this story. 

Thriller

If you’re craving a suspenseful thriller, “The Woman in the Window” by A.J. Finn is sure to keep you riveted. Set in the bustling city of New York during a hot summer, this psychological thriller follows an agoraphobic woman. (She’s deathly afraid of going outside of her home.)

She believes she witnesses a disturbing event in her neighbor’s house. As secrets unravel and tensions rise, the story will keep you on the edge of your seat, turning the pages.

Hollywood Glitz

If you want a blend of romance, history, and exotic settings, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” is for you.  By Taylor Jenkins Reid (author of Daisy Jones & the Six) this book is a must-read! A captivating novel taking readers on a journey through the glamorous and wild life of Evelyn Hugo a fictional movie star. With its rich character development and fascinating narrative, this book brings you into the world of Hollywood and forbidden love.

Self-Discovery

If you’re in the mood for a light-hearted and delightful summer read, “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman is an excellent choice. Meet Eleanor, a socially awkward woman with a strictly structured life. Join her on a heartwarming journey of self-discovery and unexpected connections.

This uplifting novel explores themes of loneliness, friendship, and the transformative power of compassion. This book makes a perfect companion for lazy days by the seaside.

No matter which book you choose for your summer adventures, find one that speaks to you. A book’s well-crafted story has the power to transport you to far-off places, stir your emotions, and leave lasting impressions.

So, grab your beach towel, slather on some sunscreen, and lose yourself in the pages of an enthralling summer read. Whether it’s a tale of romance, mystery, or self-discovery, these book recommendations are sure to boost your beachside bliss. Make your summer even more memorable and check out a book today from your local library!

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