Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Olympics - Past, Present, and Future

  In the last couple of weeks, preparation for the Summer Olympics in London has been all over the news and media.  Yesterday rung in the opening ceremonies and yesterday I also read an amazing article about a man from China.  His name is Chen Guanming and he's a 57 farmer who started his journey a little over 2 years ago.  He was inspired to go to the London Olympics after the 2008 Summer Olympics were held in Beijing.  He says that he pedaled his rickshaw through 16 countries and endured flooding, war zones, and freezing temperatures.  After the 2012 Summer Olympics, he said that he would like to take a boat to the United States and then eventually make it down to Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics.  You can read an article about his story through this link:

  After reading this article, I started to think about what cities I had been to that had once been hosts to the Olympics.  Although I have never been to the Olympics I thought it would be fun to do some research about the history of the Olympics and where they have been throughout the years.
  The "modern" Olympics started in 1896 and since then have mainly been held in Europe, North America, Asia, and Oceania.  The 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil will mark the first Olympic games to be held in South America.  As of these Olympic games, London will be the first city ever to host 3 times (1908, 1948. 2012).  They would have hosted in 1944 but the games were cancelled due to World War II.
  I have visited six cities that have at one point in modern history hosted the Olympics.  I hope to visit many many more cities and who knows what the future holds, maybe one day I will be in a host city during the Olympics!

Athens hosted the Olympic games in 1896, 1906, and 2004.  This is me standing on the Acropolis overlooking Athens. 

St. Louis hosted the Olympic games in 1904.   I'm the dark figure in this photo.  This was taken by a non-digital camera, so before camera quality was as good as it is today.

Berlin hosted the Olympic games in 1916 and 1936.  The 1936 Olympics are significant because this was when the Nazis were in power and there was rising tension.  Also Jesse Owens from the United States won 4 gold metals.  In this photo I am sitting on the steps of the Reichstag.

Los Angeles hosted the Olympic games in 1932 and 1984.  In this photo I'm standing outside of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Munich hosted the Olympic games in 1972.  In this photo I'm standing in front of Nymphenburg Palace.
This was an Olympics that stands out in many peoples' memories.  Sadly, during these Olympic games, 8 Palestinian terrorists kidnapped 9 Israeli athletes, coaches and officials and held them hostage in their apartments.  Initially, 2 hostages were killed in the first few moments of the kidnapping and in the end the final 9 hostages died.  It is known as the Munich massacre.  

The final host city that I have visited is Atlanta.  My family and I did a road trip when I was young so unfortunately my photo for this city is at my parents' house.  Atlanta hosted the Olympics in 1996.

Which cities have you been to that have at one point in history hosted the Olympics?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Galena, Illinois

  With summertime comes thoughts of barbecues, pool parties, and weekend getaways.  No matter where you live, you know of a place that you can drive to for a day or even a couple of days.  I currently live in the Chicago suburbs where many people take weekend trips to Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan.  There are also plenty of fun day trips right within Illinois' borders.
  In September 2008, my husband and I went to a popular tourist spot, Galena, Illinois.  Galena is located in the northwestern corner of Illinois.  It can take anywhere from 3 to 3 1/2 hours to get from Chicago to Galena depending on traffic conditions.  Galena is comprised of a main street with many shops and restaurants but also boasts Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery and Ulysses S. Grant's home.  Even though many people might only think of visiting Galena during the warm months, it does have year-round activities that include the "Wine Lovers Weekend" in March and the "Nouveau Wine Festival" in November. 
  All different types of accommodations can be found in Galena.  Hotels go from $75 a night at the Ramada Hotel to $200+ a night at the Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa. Galena also offers interesting bed and breakfasts and even some vacation rentals.  We stayed at the Ramada and it fit our needs just fine.
  Just recently a friend of mine did an overnight trip to Galena and Dubuque, Iowa.  Dubuque is about 16 miles from Galena and is situated along the Mississippi River.  My friend said that she did some great hiking there and got some great views of the Mississippi River.  Dubuque also has 2 ski resorts that I'm interested in checking out one winter weekend in the future.

This is probably my favorite photo of Galena.  We were up by Grant's home when I took this picture.  It overlooks the main street area.

  This is Ulysses S. Grant's home.  There are tours of the house but unfortunately we were too late for a tour.  For more information on the home, Ulysses S. Grant, and tours, visit:


  The photo above is of the vineyards of Galena Cellars Winery.  They offer tours and wine tastings.  At the time when we went, tastings were only $3 for 6 different wine samples.  They had a large enough variety of wines that even the pickiest wine drinker would be satisfied.


  I will end this post with a nice "Mid-West" photo.  This is America's Heartland.

  For more information on Galena, Illinois, please visit: also has information about Galena's Main Street area.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Los Angeles - Movie Trivia

This past spring I went to visit a very good friend in Los Angeles.  She's lived there for a couple of years and it was actually my third time visiting her in L.A.  Los Angeles and the area around it is chock-full of things to do and see.  One fun thing to do is to quiz yourself on the different movie locations that you see around the city.  Let's try a couple...
Which movie was this house (at the top of the hill) in?

Answer:  This house was the house that Paul Rudd's character was trying to sell in the movie "I Love You, Man".  It's where Paul Rudd's character met Jason Segel's character and they became friends.

What movie took place at this location?

Answer:  This is the area around Rodeo Drive....which is also one of the settings for the movie "Pretty Woman".  When I took this picture, the filming of an unknown movie was actually in progress.  (You know you're in Beverly Hills when the fire hydrants are silver).

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lisbon, Portugal - Monument to the Discoveries

Every photo has a story....even the above photo of a map that appears to be just another map of the world.  It is hard to tell from the photograph but this map can actually be walked on.  It is also a very special map in that it did not come from the place where it is currently at.  The above map is located in Lisbon, Portugal.  It was a gift from South Africa in 1960 and it shows the world with the routes of various Portuguese explorers.  The year 1960 is an important year because it marked the 500th anniversary of Prince Henry the Navigator.  The world map spreads out in front of another monument called the Monument to the Discoveries which celebrates the Portuguese Age of Exploration during the 15th and 16th centuries.


The monument and map sit along the Tagus River which was an important trade route in Lisbon's history.  The map is made up of different types of marble while the Monument to the Discoveries is made up of cement, rose-tinted stone and limestone.  The Monument is flanked by statues including Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama and many other important figures from history.

I visited Lisbon on my honeymoon at the end of May 2010.  We were on a bus tour of Spain and Portugal and we were only in Lisbon for 2 nights.  In total, I've taken three separate bus tours in Europe.  There are both positives and negatives about these types of tours.  Bus tours are great when viewing monuments and tourist "hot spots".  With the Monument to the Discoveries, our bus was able to pull right up to the monument area.  It was easy for us tour-goers to hop on and off the bus at each tourist stop.  A negative to the bus tour idea would be that we were exactly that, tourists.  While on the bus, we never got a feeling of being fully immersed in the culture.  However, we did have free time that allowed us to get more into the "local" scene, especially at night.  Almost every night, we had some kind of free time to go out and enjoy the culture.  We enjoyed the nightlife within limits though because very early every morning our bus was ready to take us to the next destination.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Tribute to Lonesome George

  Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.  The Galapagos Islands are a group of volcanic islands located about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador.  Instead of taking a boat cruise like most people who visit the Galapagos Islands, I stayed in a hotel on the island of Santa Cruz.  The main inhabited area of Santa Cruz is called Puerto Ayora and it is also home to the Darwin Research Center.  At this Center, the giant tortoises of the Galapagos are studied including a tortoise named Lonesome George.  Lonesome George was the last known giant tortoise of his sub-species.  He came from Pinta Island and he was believed to be over 100 years old.  Since Lonesome George was the last of his kind, there was a hope that he would mate with other female giant tortoises from other sub-species so that his DNA would still be passed on.  Mating Lonesome George proved to be unsuccessful and unfortunately on Sunday June 24, 2012, he died.  Above is a photo of Lonesome George in the forefront with a female companion behind him.  It saddens me that a creature as both wonderful and gentle as Lonesome George would be forced into extinction because of mankind.  Giant tortoises were largely exploited by humans for food at the end of the nineteenth century and in the end humans were the ones that attempted to save what they had so long ago damaged.  Lonesome George will be a symbol that will live on and teach people to respect all living creatures and not take lives for granted.

Introduction to Carpe Diem Traveling

  I started this blog because I want to share with my readers different places that I have visited over the years.  After reading my blog, I would like people to have a better understanding of different places in the world and maybe to even have inspiration to visit new and interesting places.  I enjoy trying to find the best travel deals possible and I trying to prove that no matter how much money a person has, he or she can still experience a wonderful trip.  Some of my posts are about my personal experiences or the experiences of others.  I also love including travel tips and deals.  All of the photos are my own except for "guest posts".  My Profile Photo was taken by Mark Hampton.  If you have any questions about a particular place, please feel free to ask in the comments section.
  Carpe Diem;  Seize the Day and Travel as Much as Possible!

Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands, 2012