2022 in Review

2022 was definitely a year of travel! My first trip was in late Jan/Feb for almost a month in Honolulu, Oahu. Although I went by myself, I had lined up a few dates through online dating and also went to a couple of Meetup.com happy hours. It was a nice escape from the winter here in Northern Kentucky.

I left in early April for almost three months in Europe, 5 countries, 21 accommodations, with 18 day trips. It was a trip of a lifetime! When you travel solo, you tend to meet people more easily. I met a man at the beach in Mykonos, Greece and had dinner with him, a man and his family from a Facebook Europe travel group in Colmar, France, another lady from the same group in Colmar, France, and was invited to a friend’s country home in Chania, Greece.

I started in Rome for six nights with day trips to Tivoli and Orvieto. (Photo at Villa d’Este, Tivoli, Italy)

I traveled by train most of the time. Next I spent seven nights in Spoleto with day trips to Perugia, Assisi, and Spello. (Photo in the town of Spello)

My next destination was Florence where I spent eight nights with day trips to Siena (photo below), Lucca, and San Gimignano.

With nine nights in Paris, I was able to take day trips to Rouen, Versailles, Chartres, and Troyes (photo below).

Rouen shown below

During my five nights in Tours, France I took a shuttle bus to see some amazing Chateaus: Villandry (the gardens)…

Azay-Le-Rideau…

Cheverny…

Amboise, Chambord, Clos Luce, and Chenonceau.

I also had my hair colored/cut and had a spectacular 90 minute massage!

The seven nights I spent in Colmar, France were some of my favorite. It’s a magical place.

I took day trips to five quaint towns surrounding Colmar: Riquewihr, Kayserberg-Vignoble, Ribeauville, Equesheim, and Turckheim.

I also took a day trip from Colmar to Strasbourg, which I loved!

I began my time in Germany with five nights in Freiburg Im Breisgau (Black Forest) with day trips to a couple of area lakes. My Airbnb host let me borrow her bicycle which I rode often. I also went to a day spa with indoor/outdoor mineral pools.

Next, I made the journey through towns along the Romantic Road and spent one night each in Wurzburg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbuhl (photo below), Noerdlingen and Augsburg.

The last stop was in Fuessen for two nights. The Neuschwanstein Castle is located here. The first photo was taken while on the uphill walk to the castle…

I flew from Munich to Mykonos where I spent four nights.

Then took a ferry to Santorini for three nights.

To finish my Greek Islands experience, I flew to Chania, Crete, and spent three glorious days.

Next up was Switzerland…I flew to Zurich, took the train to Lucerne and spent two nights.

I backtracked and spent three nights at Lake Como, visiting Varenna, Menaggio and Belaggio (photo below).

I spent eight additional nights in Switzerland and discovered it’s my favorite European country! The hiking is amazing!

Took the Bernina Express Scenic train to St. Moritz for two nights. (Photo taken from a hike)

Took the Glacier Express Scenic train to Zermatt for two nights. (Photo taken from a hike)

Spent four nights in Lauterbrunnen (Photo taken from a hike)

In September I took a 10 day road trip through Michigan, Traverse City, Taquamenon Falls State Park, Marquette, Munising in the Upper Peninsula, and Mackinac Island. My dear friend Sherry joined me for the UP and Mackinac. (Photo: Pictured Rocks Boat Tour)

In October, a friend and I drove to the Smoky Mountains and hiked for a couple of days.

Finally, in December I found an inexpensive ($160 including luggage) flight to St. Petersburg, Florida and rented a beautiful Airbnb for 10 days. A new girlfriend joined me for part of the trip.

The holidays are rough for me since my husband and only child passed away a few years ago. I don’t contemplate suicide like I used to. I’m getting used to living alone. On Christmas Day I had brunch with my brother and his wife and then went to a get-together at a girlfriend’s home.

A few other things to note: I had my bathrooms and kitchen remodeled and after a six month break from online dating, joined five sites and have gone on too many first dates to remember 🙂 I also joined a health club and have been working out pretty regularly.

I’m writing this on my deceased son’s birthday. We named his Justin, because he was born Just-in time for the new year. I miss him so much. I’ve been invited to go out this evening, but I’ve decided to stay home.

I’m looking forward to a trip I planned to Mexico City for the month of February. I’ve always gone to beaches when I’ve visited Mexico, so this will be a nice change.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Bike riding in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida

A friend joined me for five nights of my 10 night stay in St. Petersburg, Florida. We rented bicycles for 2 days and took the complimentary bus from our Airbnb to downtown St. Petersburg. There are some slots for bicycles to be stored while riding on the bus.

These are some of the sites we saw while cycling.

My friend Beth.

I love areas like this where you can cycle along the water front.

The Salvador Dali Museum

I took the complimentary shuttle from my Airbnb near St. Petersburg Beach, Florida to downtown St. Petersburg and then walked about a half a mile to the Salvador Dali museum.

Love the architecture of The Dali
I did a Facebook post and included this photo along with a few others from my visit to the museum and of course a few of the men liked this particular painting.
There is an interactive activity where you can type in a dream and have it depicted as a painting. My dream was that my deceased son kissed me. Not sure this depiction represented my dream.

Salvador Dali was from Figueres, Spain. Major themes in his work include dreams, the subconscious, sexuality, religion, science and his closest personal relationships. 

The admission price is normally $30, but on Thursday evenings from 5:00 until 8:00 p.m. it’s half price.

St. Petersburg and Treasure Island Beach

I’ve been to the beach a few times since I arrived here in St. Petersburg, Florida. My favorite things to do at the beach are to walk and people watch.

There was a sandcastle competition at Treasure Island Beach.
The sunset was amazing!

Cool Airbnb in St. Petersburg, Florida

I left home on December 5th for 10 days in St. Petersburg, Florida. Since my family has died, there’s not much for me to do around the holidays so I decided to get away for some fun in the sun.

The Airbnb I picked out is less than 2 mi from the beach and there’s a complimentary shuttle that stops a few blocks away that transports you to the beach and also to downtown St. Petersburg.

The trees in the yard are gorgeous!
The salt water pool is beautiful, although it is quite cold.
The owner of the Airbnb pictured here with her two birds.

A girlfriend joined me for 5 days which was nice. I go home on Thursday.

Taking advantage of freebies on Veterans Day

My day started at 6:00 a.m. when I went to the gym to work out. Then I headed to Bob Evans for a complimentary breakfast since I’m a Veteran.

Later I stopped at Applebee’s…

And finally I went to BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse for dinner and met a potential date there. He’s also a Veteran. We split our entrees. I don’t usually eat at these places but it’s nice to have complimentary meals.

Happy Veterans Day!

Esporta

I decided to join a Fitness club…Esporta is a 12 minute drive for me. I was there at 5:00 a.m. this morning and worked out for about an hour. They have a variety of classes, water aerobics, yoga, boot camp, zumba, spinning and also have a sauna and hot tub. Looking forward to taking some of the classes.

They also have racquetball courts and a basketball court.

I’ve been working out off and on for almost 45 years. I’ll be back in fighting shape before you know it!

Halloween Party

I went to a Halloween party last night. It was at a couple’s home located 30 minutes from my home in a suburb of Cincinnati. Their costumes were quite creative.

I only stayed a couple of hours. People were still arriving when I left. I’m not into large gatherings anymore and am not close to any of these people. I used to live near this area of town and it actually made me sad driving through it. I began missing my son and husband and the life I used to have.

Their home and landscaping is beautiful.

The fire was so hot you couldn’t sit by it. More creative costumes…

I wasn’t going to attend but changed my mind the day of. I’m making more of an effort to get out and do things.

Kitchen and Bath Remodeling Mishaps

A few months ago I decided to have my kitchen and bathrooms remodeled. I was taking a walk in my neighborhood and there was a guy painting a garage, so I asked him if he knew of anyone. He gave me the referral and after a five week wait, they began. During the five weeks, I picked out the tile, faucets, granite, etc. The owner of the remodeling company said he could have it complete in three weeks. They began in the guest bath and one week into the project, a pipe burst. I had been taking a nap (I only average 5 hours sleep a night) and upon awakening, went to check out their progress. They had left for the day about 45 minutes before I woke up.

Approaching the door I heard a noise and when I opened it, water was gushing out from behind the new vanity. I tried turning the water off but realized a pipe had burst. That’s when I noticed the carpet in my foyer was completely soaked and partially in my guest bedroom. After turning the water off at the main line in the laundry room, I frantically called the owner and the guy that did most of the work and left them a voicemail. I called the owner back again, he answered and said they were on their way with fans. While I waited the 45 minutes for their arrival, I began researching water damage and called a water damage restoration company. They told me I would need a lot of “air movers” (a certain type of industrial fan), and an industrial de-humidifier.

Initially upon arrival, they thought they could salvage the carpet but realized they couldn’t. After cutting it into more manageable pieces, they took the screen off of the guest bedroom and threw it outside. Wet carpet is very heavy. They only had two fans with them and I told the owner what the restoration company told me, so the following day he had a company come out to survey the damage and give him an estimate. The following day the baseboards were removed and the equipment was set up. The noise level was off the charts…think jet plane taking off. After moving everything from my office and guest bedroom into the great room, I stayed in my bedroom or on my patio for four days until they removed the equipment. Nine days later new carpet was installed.

The night of the “mishap”…

Before and after photos…

Granite, backsplash, and new sink in the kitchen…

Master bath…

Master bathroom (the shower was enlarged)…

Guest bathroom (the photo isn’t the best…looks like there’s blue stripes on the walls, but there aren’t)…

Guest bathroom (tub removed)…

The middle drawer of the vanity needed to be replaced from the water damage, but it was missing the hardware, so I’m waiting for that to arrive.

I painted both bathrooms. The three weeks turned into 4 ½ weeks, but I’m pleased with the result. The only good thing about the “mishap” was that I now have new carpet in my foyer, guest bedroom, office and steps. Including some new decor, the project cost $22,000.00.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Autumn

My friend Scott and I left Tuesday Morning on a road trip to the Smoky Mountains National Park. I had booked an Airbnb for two nights above Gatlinburg. It was more room than we needed, with three bedrooms and two baths. The highlight of our lodging was the view from the balcony on the third floor.

The following day we did a 2 1/2 mile hike at Laurel Falls.

Autumn is my favorite season, I love the colors!

We stopped to check out Mannish Branch Falls, but weren’t able to cross the creek to see it up close.

Our next stop was “the Sinks”.

Our second hike was 5.5 miles at Rainbow Falls. The elevation change was 1,500 ft.

The mountains were dusted with snow.

Since it hadn’t rained much for a while, the falls were smaller than usual but still beautiful.

We saw two bears from the car.

All together we walked over 10 miles yesterday, and my body knew it. After a hot shower, some pizza, and a couple of Tylenol, I was almost good as new.

Blink 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio

Last night I went with a friend to Blink in Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s an annual global art display, spanning 30-blocks, with 39 large-scale projection mappings, murals, interactive light sculptures, music from over 80 bands, and diverse entertainment from both local and international artists. It lasts for four evenings. We walked about three miles to see about two-thirds of it.

This is in an area called Over-the-Rhine

Washington Park, also in the Over-the-Rhine area, had some beautiful installations.

Cincinnati Music Hall

Fountain Square

There’s even a parade

One wall of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

My friend Scott

Next to the Moerlein Lager House near the Ohio River

The Banks area near the riverfront

The beautiful John A. Roebling Suspension bridge crossing the Ohio River into Covington, Kentucky

I highly recommend taking a road trip to visit Cincinnati during this event!

Eden Park to Mt. Adams Hike in Cincinnati, Ohio

I had a date Saturday morning to take an urban hike. I suggested meeting at Eden Park Overlook and hiking to Mt. Adams…approximately 3 miles round trip.

Eden Park

Eden Park Overlook

We took a break at The Bow Tie Cafe and had some water. The view was gorgeous!

View from the Holy Cross Immaculata Church

He wasn’t a match, but it was a beautiful day!