Mother’s Day Traditions Around the World

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Mother’s Day, in the US, is May 9th. It’s a day for honoring and appreciating our mothers.

I wanted to know what other cultures do, to honor mothers. My curiosity led me to countries around the world, and a wide range of celebrations.

Mother’s Day Traditions Around the World is a fun sampling of what I found.

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England

In the UK, Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Lent. The holiday originated from an earlier custom in which families who had moved away returned to the “mother” church they used to attend. By the 1700s the holiday shifted into a day for house servants to return home to spend the day with their mothers.

Today Mothering Sunday is still strongly connected to the church however the focus is on mothers and families. Many churches hand out daffodils for children to give to their mums. And girls in the family traditionally bake Simnel cakes…luscious fruitcakes…for the entire family to enjoy.

United States

Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday in May, in the US. We have a variety of traditions from serving Mom breakfast in bed to giving her cards, handmade or purchased gifts and bouquets of flowers.

Our version of Mother’s Day began in 1908 when Anna Jarvis imagined a day set aside to honor all the sacrifices mothers make. Anna’s mother, Ann, started Mother’s Work Day Clubs, an organization that taught women how to properly care for their children.

With persistence, Anna’s idea led to the first official Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May, 1914.

Today Mother’s Day is an important celebration in the US. Mothers receive recognition, cards, gifts, flowers and dinners out.

Mother's Day Traditions Around the World usa
Mother’s Day traditions around the world – USA

France

Mother’s Day in France is celebrated on the last Sunday of May or the first Sunday in June. Their holiday originated during the Napoleonic Era, when families with a large number of children received medals.

Some regions in France still present moms with traditional medals on Mother’s Day. A more modern celebration involves baking or buying Mom a cake shaped like a flower bouquet. Children also gift their mothers perfume, jewelry, chocolates and handmade gifts.

Peru

In Peru, Mother’s Day is a week long celebration leading up to the actual holiday on the second Sunday in May. Families organize events such as trips, dinners, lunches and parties throughout the week. Art exhibits and musical performances are common too during those seven days.

Mothers attend these activities and festivities, museums and exhibits, free of charge. Children present moms with gifts and flowers and may recite poetry and stories.

Peru also honors their deceased mothers. People take balloons and flowers to cemeteries and place them on the graves of mothers, grandmothers and wives.

Mother's Day Traditions Around the World peru
Mother’s Day traditions around the world – Peru

Mexico

The origins of Mother’s Day, or La Dia de la Madre, in Mexico has a story behind it. The Mexican magazine, El Hogar, met with the Association of Catholic Ladies and published an article about motherhood and traditional Mexican values. This happened in conjunction with mothers venturing out into the professional world and choosing to have fewer children.

The first Mother’s Day, May 10, 1922, was celebrated in support of this campaign.

Today families go out to eat on Mother’s Day, typically for lunch. They listen to music together and children give their mothers flowers, candies or small gifts. They sometimes perform a play, to show their love and appreciation.

Japan

The earliest Mother’s Day in Japan was held in March, 1913. However, the celebration ceased during World War II. Afterwards, Mother’s Day became a time to comfort mothers who lost children during the war.

Today all mothers are celebrated in Japan. Children give their moms carnations to symbolize purity, love and endurance. Traditionally, they gave red carnations to their living mothers and they displayed white carnations if their mothers had passed away. White carnations are now the favored color for all mothers.

Kids also do the household chores for the day and prepare meals.

Mother's Day Traditions Around the World japan
Mother’s Day traditions around the world – Japan

Ethiopia

The Antrosht Festival, observed yearly during the fall rainy season, is dedicated to mothers.

Families gather for large meals. Daughters traditionally bring vegetables and cheeses while sons supply the meat. Together the children prepare a hash. Later they sing and perform dances that tell the stories of their families.

Italy

Mother’s Day is called La Festa della Mamma in Italy. Mothers are highly esteemed throughout the year in Italy. However, on Mother’s Day…the second Sunday in May…mamma is pampered even more.

Families gather for a meal together. If someone can’t make it for the meal, they must call. Children give small gifts, fresh flowers…traditionally roses…and handwritten poetry. Dessert after the meal is a heart shaped cake.

Mother's Day Traditions Around the World italy
Mother’s Day traditions around the world – Italy

Indonesia

The Indonesian Mother’s Day is celebrated late in the year, on December 22. The holiday began as a time to recognize the spirit of Indonesian women and honor their achievements.

Today Mother’s Day honors all mothers. It’s a time to show great love and appreciation. Mother’s take the day off from household chores and children bring them gifts and flowers.

Germany

Germany’s Mother Day is called Muttertag and it’s also celebrated on the second Sunday in May. It’s origins date back to the Middle Ages when relatives visited and wished each other a happy spring. During the German Reich, mothers who bore four or more children were presented with a Cross of Honor.

Today the celebration honors all mothers regardless of the number of children. Kids bring colorful flowers to their moms…the more colorful the better…and gifts and cards are common too. German mothers are often surprised with travel tickets! They then get to revisit a favorite place or experience a new part of the world.

Mother's Day Traditions Around the World germany
Mother’s Day Traditions – Germany

What Are Your Mother’s Day Traditions?

As a kid, I loved making gifts for my mom. I cringe when I think of some of those “creations” but I poured my heart into them. Typically, my sisters and I take Mom out to eat now, when we aren’t experiencing a pandemic. This year we are having a big “work in the yard” day at her house.

My kids used to make homemade cards and bring me breakfast in bed. As adults they call, text or surprise me a gift.

I love the different traditions that I learned about. Of course, the German custom of gifting trips is amazing to me! However, I love the gifts of handwritten poetry, singing and performing plays. They seem so personal.

What are your favorite Mother’s Day traditions? Do you take your mom out to eat? Do your kids bring you breakfast in bed?

Mothers Day Traditions Around the World mothers

Looking for thoughtful gifts for Mom? Check out this post!

And did you know you can order fresh flowers from Amazon and have them delivered to your mother? Click picture below to get started!

 

 

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Travel Quotes for the Wanderer

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This post combines two of my favorite things in life…travel and inspiring quotes. Words possess power and energy. For that reason, I surround myself with words that encourage, inspire, teach and motivate.

During these months of non-travel, quotes about traveling help feed my soul and keep my desire for exploring the world stoked. Some make my heart beat faster, in anticipation of the day I hop on a plane and fly over the ocean. Others remind me of my “big why” and the importance of travel in my life. And some quotes bring tears to my eyes as the longing for other places becomes an ache that cannot be eased.

Check out my favorite travel quotes for the wanderer. A photo from my travels accompanies each quote.

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 “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Ibn Battuta

I’m a storyteller, from a family of travelers and storytellers. It’s how I love to communicate with others. Travel enriches my life and so many of my tales.

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Travel quotes for wanderers – Island of Burano, Italy

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.”  Anais Nin

One of the things I most love about travel is meeting other people. My daughter, grandson and I toured Italy with Globus Tours. We joined a group of people from around the world. After 12 days together, we felt like family. Our amazing tour guide, Fabi, and incredible bus driver, Luciano, created that sense of togetherness on day one of our journey together.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – Rome, Italy

“To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” Freya Stark

Although I have not done so yet, solo travel is my next big adventure. It’s fun to go on adventures with family and friends. And, I believe I’ll learn new things about who I am as I set off on my own.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – Dublin, Ireland street in the shopping district

“Live, travel, adventure, bless and don’t be sorry.” Jack Kerouac

What a recipe for the adventurous life. I especially love the inclusion of “bless” and “don’t be sorry”. Blessing others I meet as I travel is important to me, even as I am blessed by others. It’s an ongoing ripple of energy made up of kindness and compassion. And equally important is experiencing it all without regrets. No holding back, no waiting until another time, no thinking I can do it later.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – Temple Bar in Dublin

“He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him.” Dutch Proverb

Such a Tokien-like quote, these words remind me of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. There’s nothing wrong with being an armchair traveler. However, we don’t experience the life changing events if we always stay safe within our homes. It takes courage to step through the door and allow adventure to sweep us away.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – Door in Dean Village, Edinburgh, Scotland

“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” Anna Quindlen

I began traveling internationally when I was well into my 50s. Just because I’ve not traveled much before doesn’t mean I can’t now. Thankfully, past actions don’t predict future actions. And even when those first travel opportunities came, I didn’t ever see myself as a travel “influencer”. How fun, on my most recent trip to Scotland, to experience comped meals in amazing vegan restaurants, in exchange for posts and social media shares.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – the beginning of a fine vegan meal at Seeds for the Soul, Edinburgh

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” Anonymous

Yes! My travels are not an escape from my life. The purpose beneath my journeys is to deeply participate in life. New adventures, new cultures, new people, food and languages all broaden my life experiences and raise my awareness so that I see with fresh perspectives.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – Dublin angel

“Not all those who wander are lost.”  J.R.R. Tolkien

Wise words from one of my favorite authors. They remind me that while it’s perfectly okay to plan out a trip it’s also okay…desirable even….to wander down intriguing streets or veer off the beaten path. Small towns in Italy beg the visitor to get a little lost, wandering the narrow lanes and exploring unexpected courtyards.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – street in Orvieto, Italy

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”  Susan Sontag

So strong is my connection to Scotland’s capital city that sometimes when I say I long to travel what I really mean is, I’m so missing Edinburgh. However, when I see photos of Bali or Greece or Brazil I think “I want to see it all.” As a result, my travel list is quite long! And Edinburgh remains, always, at the top of that list.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – Thistle Street Apartments, Edinburgh

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oh I dearly love new experiences! Seeing something for the first time, even something familiar from photos and films, is one of my favorite things to do. How powerful to see Michelangelo’s David for the first time in person and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. And touring my ancestral home, Thirlestane Castle, after I’d read about it all my life, literally made me sit in silent wonder for a while before climbing the steps to the massive front door. I am changed and expanded by such experiences.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – my first glimpse of David, Florence, Italy

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” Anita Desai

We all collect souvenirs when we travel. However, my favorite things to take home are bits and pieces of the experiences themselves. I adopt practices and customs from other countries, such as afternoon tea. Phrases from Italy or Ireland flavor my speech. Those countries become a part of me. Travel becomes written into my DNA.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – my beloved Edinburgh, Scotland

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” Mary Anne Radmacher

How magical, when perspectives shift the familiar. Seeing the moon from a country across the Atlantic or tasting fresh basil pesto in a tiny village perched on a mountainside makes the ordinary extraordinary. My sense of curiosity and wonder spikes when encountering familiar things in fresh settings.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – Rome, Italy as dusk gathers

“Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.” Lovelle Drachman

Following curiosity leads me to such amazing adventures. Curiosity opens my  heart and soul and allows me to see with more than my physical eyes. Details stand out that I might miss without curiosity as my guide. And surprises await as I travel paths unknown.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – trying to adequately capture what I see

“Wanderlust – noun. a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world” dictionary definition

I experience wanderlust quite frequently. That strong desire or impulse to wander and travel and explore the world motivates me to make my dreams reality.

Travel Quotes for the Wanderer passport
Travel quotes for the wanderer – my passport

“The more often I do things I want to do, the less bitter I am at people for doing what they want to do.” Glennon Doyle

While not exactly a travel quote, Glennon’s words remind me to express gratitude and happiness for others as they do what they most want to do. For me, doing what I most want to do involves travel. For someone else, it might include rescuing animals, acting in films or building houses. We are not competing for limited resources. Another’s success or joy does not diminish mine.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – Eilean Donan Castle, Highlands, Scotland

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Long one of my favorite quotes, Twain’s words encourage me to live life beyond the edges of fear, comfort zones and limiting beliefs. I’m not created to play it safe and remain tied to a dock. I’m made to live in expansive freedom and explore, dream and discover.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – La Spezia, Italy

“When you have a dream, you’ve got to grab it and never let go.” Carol Burnett

Oh, am I ever a dreamer. Since early childhood, I’ve crafted the most vivid dreams about my future. As an adult I’ve learned that dreaming is vital to creating the reality I desire. If I imagine it, I can achieve it.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – Dean Village, Edinburgh

“And then there is the most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” Randy Komisar

These powerful words serve as a reminder to not wait. Honestly, at age 63, waiting is a greater risk than going for it. I refuse to spend my life “hoping for an opportunity later”. Every step I take toward realizing my dreams takes me closer to the reality of them.

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” Anthony Bourdain

This is currently my top travel quote. The late Anthony Bourdain understood how travel changes a person. It’s not always pretty or comfortable or easy. It can be exhausting to the body and painful even.

However the impression travel makes as it leaves its marks on me is life shifting. Coming home I’m not the same person who left. I bring back with me experiences and new connections and discoveries I make about myself and the world around me. Every trip I take changes me a bit more. How can I not long to keep exploring and keep challenging myself to grow?

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Travel quotes for the wanderer – travel can be exhausting and life changing. On the train to London, England.

Favorite Travel Quote

My collection of travel quotes shifts and changes, as I do. They reflect different points on my journey. And sometimes they serve as a beacon, guiding me to the next right spot along the path.

Do you have a favorite travel quote? Please share it in the comments below!

Grand Canal of Venice
Grand Canal of Venice

 


 

 

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Ghost Stories from Venice

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In the second installment of the Ghost Stories from… series, we turn to beautiful Venice, Italy. This magical city, occupying a cluster of islands in the Venice Lagoon, captivates with its canals, history and charm. My daughter, grandson and I loved exploring this amazing city.

Haunting is another word that describes Venice. Like most cities, Venice has its dark side too. Wandering the narrow streets after sunset, especially when the fog rolls in, sends a chill down the spine that isn’t entirely caused by the weather.

The city’s long history is filled with stories of rebellions, conquests and death. It’s not surprising that energy lingers there. Check out these ghost stories from Venice, for a peek at the city’s mysterious side.

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Ghost Stories from Venice

Water is a great conductor of electricity and also of supernatural energy. Hauntings and water seem to go together. Whether from deep dark pools, rivers or even the moisture that accumulates within the walls of a house, water often amplifies ghostly activity. With its lagoon and 150 canals, water literally surrounds Venice and flows through it. And because the city is slowly sinking into the lagoon, many buildings and cathedrals have flooded subfloors and crypts.

No wonder Venice is not only one of the most uniquely beautiful cities in the world, but also one of the most haunted.

As you explore Venice, keep these locations and ghost stories in mind.

Ca’ Dario

Also known as Palazzo Dario, or Dario Palace, this house is also dubbed “the house that kills”.

Giovanni Dario, a local official, built the gothic palace on the Grand Canal in the late 1400s. After financial ruin and death, his daughter Marietta and her husband inherited the house. The husband died soon after, murdered, and Marietta committed suicide by throwing herself into the Grand Canal. Their son died a short time later in an ambush.

Over the centuries the palace continues to change hands. The owners have all been murdered, committed suicide, suffered horrible accidents or illnesses or experienced disastrous financial ruin.

Even leasing the palace comes with risks. In 2002 bass player John Entwistle died of a heart attack a week after renting the palace for a vacation.

A US company purchased Ca’ Dario in 2006, on behalf of a wealthy American woman. It’s currently undergoing renovations. Would you stay there? I would not!

Ghost Stories from Venice Ca Dario
Ghost Stories from Venice – Ca’ Dario, the house that kills.

Ghost of the Venice Bell Ringer

There once lived a man who rang the bells in the bell tower, or campanile, on St. Mark’s Square. Because he was quite tall, a Venetian scientist offered the bell ringer a large sum of money for his skeleton, after death.

Spurred on by greed, the tall man accepted the cash in exchange for giving his skeleton to the scientist. With this unexpected wealth, he promptly drank himself into an early grave.

After death, the bell ringer apparently regretted the deal he made. His ghost haunts Bressana Court where he begs visitors for money so that he can buy back his skeleton.

The actual skeleton of the man resides in Venice’s Natural History Museum. The skeleton shows that the man was indeed very tall. It is also said that the skeleton creeps out of the museum at night to ring the twelve bells of St. Mark’s Campanile.

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Ghost Stories from Venice – the ghost of the bell ringer

The Bride Ghost of Venice

Those who walk Venice at night risk running into the ghost of a young bride.

Tosca, a beautiful but poor young woman from Treviso, was betrothed to a wealthy, older nobleman. However, she fell in love with a young hunter and the pair ran away to Venice. The jilted groom tracked down the couple and killed the hunter. He cut off Tosca’s ring finger, declaring that no man would wed her if he didn’t.

Tosca took her own life on September 22, 1379. Her ghost, wearing a wedding dress, wanders Venice after dark, searching for her missing finger.

Ghost Stories from Venice bell tower
Ghost Stories from Venice – watch for the Bride Ghost wandering Venice after dark

The Serpent of Punta della Dogana

Ghosts aren’t the only supernatural inhabitants of Venice. Punta della Dogana is the triangular shaped land mass jutting out between the Grand Canal and The Guidecca Canal.

Allegedly, a cousin of Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster inhabits the swirling waters just off the tip of Punta della Dogana. This beast’s body resembles a large, dark colored snake while the head looks horse-like.  It hides in a hollow beneath the land.

Fishermen swear that the sea serpent appears out of the dark waters on moonless nights, earning it the nickname “the black water monster”. One witness, in 1933, claims he saw the serpent rise above the surface to catch and eat a sea gull in a single gobble.

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Ghost Stories from Venice – the domed buildings in this photo are on the Punta della Dogana

Poveglia Island

Known as one of the most haunted places in the world, Poveglia Island, located between Venice and Lido, originally served as a port. During the bubonic plaque, the small island became Venice’s dumping ground for dying and dead Venetians. Over the centuries, anytime an epidemic came along, the infected went to Poveglia. Most remained there until they died. The dead were buried in huge mass graves.

In 1922 Venice established an asylum on the island as a place to hide the city’s mentally ill and seriously ill citizens. Sadly, one of the asylum doctors performed cruel experiments on patients, in the island bell tower. He met his death by falling from that very tower. Some claim the ghosts of his victims pushed him. The story goes that he actually survived the fall, but a mist surrounded him and swallowed him up, finishing him off.

More than 160,000 deaths reportedly occurred on Poveglia, earning it the name of “the island of no return.” Visitors are no longer allowed on the island. Past visitors, including paranormal researchers, call it the final restless place of thousands of diseased and insane people who died there.

Ghost Stories from Venice Poveglia Island
Ghost Stories from Venice – Poveglia Island, one of the most haunted places in the world

October Ghost Story Series

You can check out last week’s Ghost Stories from Dublin, the first post in this month long series. Next week, watch for a local ghost tale from my own city. I’ll be checking out the famous Joplin Spook Light.

Have you ever had an ghostly encounter?

Share your stories in the comments below.

Ghost Stories from Venice
Ghost Stories from Venice

When in Venice, check out this walking ghost tour.

 


 

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When Travel Plans Go Awry

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I spend many hours planning a trip and months anticipating the fulfillment of those plans. That’s part of the fun of traveling.

And yet, invariably, I encounter snags during the trip, when travel plans go awry. I’ve learned that when the unexpected happens, staying open and going with the flow helps me to find the good in the situation. New opportunities usually arrive. And at the very least, I learn from the experience.

These five lessons learned during recent trips offer great examples of well laid plans going awry and the take aways from each experience.

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GPS Failure

Using a smart phone equipped with GPS is a popular way of getting around in unfamiliar places. Most of the time, GPS is reliable and accurate, taking me where I want to go without a problem.

What happens though when GPS fails? Then the journey gets interesting, or at least it did in 2017 while traveling by car in Scotland.

My sister Debbie bravely volunteered to drive our girls’ group around that gorgeous country. Remember that compared to the US, traffic flows on the opposite side of the road in Scotland and the steering wheel is on the right, rather than the left. Debbie expertly drove us all over the country, relying on the car’s built in GPS system to guide us to where we wanted to go.

Are We Lost?

Except….one day it didn’t. Driving from the Sterling area northward into the Highlands, with the Isle of Skye as our ultimate destination, we suddenly realized we were approaching the Firth of Forth. The iconic Forth Bridge appeared, paralleled by the newly built but not yet open Queensferry Crossing.

We knew then we were headed the wrong way. And this time, my sister was not at fault. (See Wrong Way Sister for more about my sister’s challenges with directions.) However, the magic began as we crossed the Firth of Forth and entered the Kingdom of Fife.

Both bridges and Fife were on my “must see” list for Scotland. And yet, I didn’t expect to see them this trip. As the rest of us appreciated the views of the bridges and the forth, Debbie startled us by exclaiming, “What is that?”

Looking toward the front of the car, expecting to see a bus careening toward us, my mouth dropped open in surprise at the sight ahead. Two large, gleaming horse heads towered over the trees. We “accidentally” stumbled upon the amazing Kelpies, 30 meter tall sculptures of Scotland’s mythical shape shifting water spirits. We were enchanted. And I got to check another item off my list.

Lesson Learned

Sometimes the GPS fails. Sometimes we get lost. And yet, that’s okay. Getting off track might lead to a new adventure or unexpected experiences. We never figured out why the GPS failed that day. It worked perfectly the remainder of our time in Scotland. I am grateful though for the detour. I’ll never forget the wonder of seeing those majestic Kelpies.

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When travel plans go awry…you find Kelpies

We All Fall Down

Or maybe I should say, two of us fell down. On the girls’ trip through the UK, in 2017, we almost didn’t make it out of the US.

At the Atlanta airport, the stuff of nightmares happened. Riding the escalators down a level, my sisters exited, pulling their carry ons behind them. My niece Ashley followed a few steps behind my mother and me. Like many people, I get a bit nervous as the escalator stairs disappear at the end, knowing I need to time my step off correctly. As I pulled my carry on closer to me and prepared to disembark, I saw my mother falling.

In slow motion, it seemed, Mom’s legs folded and she sunk toward the steps. Panicking, I reached over to pull her up. That was a mistake. Her carry on toppled, knocking my legs out from under me and down we both went, on the moving escalator.

Do you know that 17,000 people receive serious injuries each year, while on escalators and elevators? And 30 people die? I didn’t know the stats, as Mom and I fell. However, I knew that clothing and hair getting caught in escalators are the main causes of injury or death.

We Get Back Up

Instinctively, I stuck my legs into the air and curled my upper torso upward, trying to keep pant legs and my long hair from getting snagged. Mom’s snacks from her purse bounced by me. It felt important at the time to grab the container of hummus. My niece and the man behind her bounded up the escalator stairs, searching for an emergency OFF button. They never found one.

Somehow, I flipped over onto my hands and knees and crawled off the escalator. Debbie helped our mother up. We felt shaken, and received scratches and bruises, however we didn’t sustain any serious injuries. Well, my carry on was a goner. The fabric suitcase did get caught and it tore. However, tape held it together until I returned home.

I still shudder when I think about that experience.

Ironically, the trip ended with another fall, this time on the London Tube. It was my fault. I stood near a pole with my suitcase. Thankfully, my mother found a seat. When the announcement comes to hold on because the tube is departing, they mean HOLD ON. I fiddled with my carry on a moment too long. The sudden movement threw me off balance and I smashed into the closest wall, cracking ribs. Thankfully a man caught me and halted my journey onward to the floor. It took three months for my ribs to heal.

Lesson Learned

Never let your mother step onto an escalator pulling a carry on!  If someone falls, get yourself off the escalator and then turn to help the other person. Also, practice awareness on escalators and subways. Keep luggage secured. Lack of attention may result in pain and injury. And that’s not a fun way to start or end a trip.

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When travel plans go awry – Mom seated on the London Tube, bless her

We Can’t Control What We Can’t Control

Weather played a significant role in several of my travel plans that shifted.

Tornadoes on the ground in Charlotte, North Carolina diverted the plane my grandson, daughter and I traveled on, during the first leg of our journey to Italy. We stayed in Chattanooga, Tennessee until the all clear sounded in Charlotte. However, we missed our connecting flight to Rome. Thousands of people missed their connecting flights.

The resulting storm of emotions inside the airport rivaled the storms outside. We witnessed crying, angry words, displays of temper and glum resignation. Rather than join the masses, we chose to stay calm and hopeful and open to opportunities. On a night when very few people flew out of Charlotte, we ended up on a plane to London. And from there, we journeyed on to Rome. We missed our welcome dinner however we arrived in time for the start of our tour. I believe miracles happened that night in Charlotte. Read the whole incredible story HERE.

Weather Delay Allows A Problem to Surface

Last year, Debbie and I found ourselves stuck in an airplane out on the tarmac at JFK Airport in New York City, awaiting departure for Edinburgh. Thunderstorms kept us grounded for five hours. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Shortly before we were cleared for takeoff, a horrible clanging noise filled the cabin. One terrified woman stood up and demanded to get off the plane.

It turned out a mechanical problem surfaced, as we waited for the weather to clear. Imagine if that problem had occurred, out over the Atlantic? Grounded as we were, mechanics ably corrected the issue and at last we took off, in the middle of the night. We arrived late in Edinburgh, and yet thankfully, we arrived safely.

Allergies in Italy

And one non-weather related incident happened in Italy, during the trip with my daughter Elissa and grandson Dayan. We discovered that Dayan is allergic to the flowering vine, jasmine. In late May and early June, jasmine is everywhere in Italy, vining over stone walls, archways and buildings. This situation, totally out of our control, necessitated new strategies. We kept hotel windows closed at night, avoided the vine as much as possible in villages and accepted that Dayan might sneeze…often.

Lesson Learned:

We really can’t control much of anything, and certainly not the weather or mechanical problems or allergic reactions to flowering plants. Staying open to possibilities and in the flow of life, and disconnecting from outcomes, frees us to accept what is and move forward. Believing there is a reason for everything, even if I can’t see what the reason is, allows trust to grow.

When Travel Plans Go Awry jasmin
When travel plans go awry – some people sneeze due to jasmine

It’s Closed

In spite of well researched plans, disappointments may occur. On the girls’ trip to the UK, everyone picked places to see and things to do. We found it very doable to please five different people by giving everyone a say in what we did.

In Dublin, Ireland, my mother chose Trinity College Library for us to visit. Built in 1592, the library houses the Brian Boru harp, Ireland’s national symbol, and the Book of Kells, considered one of the country’s national treasures. This ancient manuscript, created in 800 AD, contains the four gospels of the New Testament.

We arrived at the library a few minutes after it closed! Unfortunately, we flew out of Ireland the next day, Scotland bound.

In Edinburgh, we couldn’t get into Real Mary King’s Close or into a crowded Elephant House cafe. And in London, a sign on the door of the dungeons beneath the Tower of London proclaimed them closed for maintenance.

Lesson Learned:

We pre-selected certain activities but in the case of the Dublin library, we didn’t prioritize it that day. Mary King’s Close was a spur of the moment attempt and we had no control over the busyness of the Elephant House or the dungeons’ maintenance work. However, the library should have been first on our activity list for the day, not toward the end of it.

I like spontaneity while traveling. Yet there is a place for order, especially when scheduling tours or group activities. We learned to do both: arrive on time for events and wander freely when the desire to explore called. And when met with a “no” we always found other places to go and things to see.

When Travel Plans Go Awry trinity college library
When travel plans go awry – you miss touring Trinity College Library

Missed Opportunities

This is an important personal realization I’ve had, as I travel. Don’t let opportunities slip away. It’s one thing to miss getting into a building because it is closed or too crowded. It’s another to walk away by choice and then regret the decision.

Sometimes, my reasons for missing an experience are physical. My back hurt from lugging a huge suitcase around, the day my cousins climbed to the top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. I stayed behind and rested at the bed and breakfast. Five months later, one of those dear cousins passed away. I missed the opportunity to experience Arthur’s Seat with her.

I chose to stay on the ground in Italy too, while my daughter and grandson climbed the bell towers in the little villages we visited. Sure, I might have huffed and puffed my way to the top. Now, I think about the magnificent views I missed.

The three of us were too tired to walk to Trevi Fountain in Rome, having arrived so late the night before. My coin for the fountain remained in my pocket. And we stayed out of a gondola in Venice, because those rides are mostly sought out by romantic couples. Who cares? We did, while in Venice. Now, I wished I’d gone for a gondola ride alone, if no one else wanted to go.

I’ve visited Edinburgh three times and still have not experienced the Royal Military Tattoo, where bands of pipers and drummers perform in their tartans at the castle. Why haven’t I?

And…I never, ever take enough photos as I travel.

Lesson Learned:

This lesson is a big one for me, as I desire to live a life without regrets. If I want to DO something, then DO it. On my most recent trip to Edinburgh last July, I visited Dean Village, the Botanical Gardens and Calton Hill, all places I’ve wanted to see that I’ve missed before.

We don’t always get second or third chances. I’m learning to step up and do what I want to do, in all areas of my life. I want to write. So, I’m writing. I want to travel. So, I’m traveling. I want to visit the Edinburgh Christmas Market. So, I will make that happen.

I’m telling myself, don’t wait. If it is important, find a way to do all that I desire to do. Be ready, when opportunities arrive. And capture those magical moments with photos….lots of them.

When Travel Plans Go Awry gondola
When travel plans go awry – you miss riding in the gondola

The Traveler

Life is a journey…and for me, journeying through travel is life. I acknowledge and accept my gypsy soul and my wild heart. It is time to release the wildness and go where my heart will take me. And to take along the many lessons I’m learning as I travel.

Have you had travel plans go awry? Share your stories in the comments below!

When Travel Plans Go Awry on the tarmac
When travel plans go awry – tired but in good spirits, waiting for the storm to pass

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Wrong Way Sister

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Today’s travel story comes from Scotland. I intended to craft a tale from another country, such as Italy, since I posted the Scottish story The Pole Dancer last week. However, this story is the one that surfaced again and again. Perhaps it’s because yesterday was my sister’s birthday, and she features in this account.

This is Wrong Way Sister. And yes, I have my sister’s permission to share these snippets from our trip.

Wrong Way Sister title meme

Sisters’ Trip to Scotland

Last July, my sister Debbie and I experienced a series of firsts together. We grew up in the same household and see each other often as adults. And we enjoyed a girls’ trip to the UK in 2017, traveling with our mother, our other sister and Debbie’s daughter through Ireland, Scotland and England.

We’ve shared many adventures and yet we’ve never traveled together, just the two of us.  For this trip, we flew back to Scotland to take part in a clan gathering. Debbie and I are members of the Maitland Clan. The gathering gave us the perfect excuse to return to a country we both love and to meet with other clan members from around the world. Check out this post for more about that amazing time with our clan chief and family that we met for the first time.

Knowing how full the clan gathering schedule was, we tacked extra days onto our trip, so we could explore Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh. Debbie and I share many common interests, including a powerful love for this extraordinary city. Before the clan gathering began, we spent our days happily wandering the city, riding the hop on/hop off buses, and popping into quaint shops and cafes.

Wrong Way Sister adventure
Wrong way sister – the adventure begins

Wrong Way, Sister

Sharing a cute little self serviced apartment, cooking our own plant based meals, sleeping in the single bedroom and big comfy bed, my sister and I bonded. People mistake us for twins, because we both choose to embrace our silver hair and wear it long. We often think the same way about situations or say the same words out loud. I woke up one night and discovered we slept in identical positions, a phenomenon we jokingly called synchronized sleeping!

During shared meals and tea times, late night chats and explorations in Edinburgh, we learned new things about each other. One trait I discovered is that my sister does not have a good sense of direction!

Our apartment on Thistle Street became home for ten days. Every morning we exited the building, off on adventures. Charming Thistle Street is populated with pubs, cafes and blocks of apartment buildings. It’s conveniently located a block from Hanover Street, which leads to Princes Street and the bridges that connect New Town with Old Town. Perhaps because of my many years as a realtor, I’ve learned to navigate by directions rather than landmarks or using “right” or “left”. I could mentally call up Edinburgh’s grid of streets in my head as we explored.

Debbie, on the other hand, generally headed in the opposite direction from our intended destination. It became humorous, watching her stride with great purpose…in the wrong direction! On one occasion, I stood at our apartment building door, watching with amusement as she walked down the block to Hanover Street and prepared to cross. Not sensing me behind her, she turned to see where I was.

“It’s this way, right?” she asked. On this day, our destination was Charlotte Square. “No,” I called out, laughing and pointing down Thistle Street. “Exactly the opposite direction.”

Wrong Way Sister Thistle Street Apartment
Wrong way sister – Thistle Street Apartment
Wrong Way Sister Hanover Street
Wrong way sister – Hanover Street

The World’s End

On another day, the hottest ever recorded in Scotland, Debbie and I decided to walk to a section of Edinburgh’s original wall.

In Old Town, on what’s known as The Royal Mile, there’s a pub called The End of the World. It marks the outer edge of Old Edinburgh. The exterior wall of this 16th century building formed part of the Flodden Wall that surrounded Old Edinburgh as a defense against intruders.

For the residents of the city at that time, the wall truly was the edge of their known world. People lived and worked and died within that protective barrier. To go beyond it meant entering a dangerous unknown.

After mentally determining the location of the remaining section of the wall, we set off. Debbie and I walked…and walked…and walked. In the record breaking heat, we quickly became hot, draining our water bottles and rolling up our sleeves.

At last we spied our destination ahead. With a sigh of relief, we remarked that the wall section was much farther from The Royal Mile than we anticipated. I was thinking of the long return trek back to our apartment when Debbie voiced the same concern. Our conversation went like this:

Me: “This was a lot farther out than I realized!”

Debbie: “It was! I’m tired and thirsty. At least we are walking toward our apartment, right?”

Me: ….

Debbie: “Right?!”

Me: Laughing. “No. No, our apartment is in the opposite direction. We’ve been walking away from it all this time!”

We stopped at a pub on the way back, for a much appreciated rest, snack and cup of tea.

Wrong Way Sister Lauderdale Bus
Wrong way sister – it was fun to see coaches with our last name on them
Wrong Way Sister Flodden Wall
Wrong Way Sister – a section of Flodden Wall

Until We Return

I treasure the memories from that trip. I loved spending those 10 days with my sister. As the oldest sibling in my family, I always felt protective of my younger sisters and brother when we were children. I still feel protective, even now all these years later. Wandering about Edinburgh that protectiveness showed itself again. I wanted my sister to enjoy the experiences and arrive at our destinations, without getting lost!

In return I recognized that Debbie trusted me, completely. If I said, “It’s this way”, she turned around without question and headed the other direction. The only time we ended up not lost, but traveling to our destination the “long way around”, it was because we followed the GPS on my phone. Instinctively, I knew how to get to Dean Village in Edinburgh. I learned that day to trust myself the way Debbie trusts me. After exploring beautiful Dean Village, we arrived back at our apartment via the shorter route, the phone’s GPS silenced.

I look forward to more shared trips with my sister. One of my greatest desires is to travel and share experiences with my family members. My big WHY involves seeing that desire become reality.

After 10 glorious days in Scotland, Debbie and I bid Edinburgh “farewell until next time” and headed home. At JFK International Airport in New York, we sat wearily, waiting for our flight to Atlanta and then home.

Debbie excused herself to go to the ladies’ restroom. I watched her enter the restroom and happened to see her exit it as well a few minutes later. She hesitated for a moment, and then with confidence turned left and strolled down the wide hallway, away from me!

I chuckled. Wrong way sister was at it again. I knew she would eventually figure it out and turn around. I’d be waiting for her.

Wrong Way Sister sibling love
Wrong way sister – sibling love

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The Pole Dancer

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I’m excited to expand my writing into more travel related posts, as I have more travel experiences. One of my biggest dreams is to work remotely, from my laptop, anywhere in the world.

However, what is a traveler to do, when the whole world is under a travel ban? She revisits the places she’s been, via photos and memories. And she crafts stories from those previous trips.

Today I introduce the “Tales from…” Series with a funny story, The Pole Dancer, from a trip to Scotland in 2017. I hope you enjoy it. And watch for travel tales here each Friday…until this wanderer can wander again and deliver new content.

The Pole Dancer title meme

Tales from Scotland, The Pole Dancer

Stepping off the tour bus, we disembark into a changed Edinburgh. When our girls’ group began exploring the city that morning, people overflowed the surrounding landscape, covering streets and parks like an international patchwork quilt. Visitors from around the world jostled shoulders as they scrambled for buses or pulled up maps on their phones and set off on foot.

Now, nearby streets empty as weary wanderers move toward cheerful pubs and cafes, intent on refreshment. Even the piper on the corner has vanished, taking the signature sound of Scotland with him.

I glance at my tired traveling companions, my mother, sisters and niece, and shrug.

After spending the day wandering the city, including a tour of Edinburgh Castle, and shopping along the Royal Mile, we thankfully boarded the last hop on/hop off bus for the day. We looked forward to a hot meal and hotter showers and a good night’s sleep. Except…we missed our hop off spot. The bus parked for the night, with us still onboard.

It’s up to us to find a way to our lodging.

The Pole Dancer Hop On Hop Off Bus
The Pole Dancer – Hop On/Hop Off Bus

George to the Rescue

We have options. The bus tours begin and end on Waverley Bridge, near the train station tucked into the heart of Edinburgh. The three span iron bridge we stand on literally connects medieval Old Town with 18th century New Town. Cabs regularly swing through this area, assured of a steady stream of arrivals.

“Are you ladies lost?” 

A guide approaches us, a smile on his round face. An unruly thatch of gray hair caps his head, and in spite of the long day, his good humor remains intact. Laugh lines frame bright blue eyes that disappear when he chuckles. His rumpled white shirt stretches over a rounded belly. GEORGE is etched across his name tag.

George sees damsels in distress. He nobly offers assistance. We like him immediately.

He listens as we share our dilemma. We aren’t lost, we explain, only temporarily displaced. Perhaps George can flag down a cab for us? He concocts a better plan.

“Where are you staying?” he inquires in his soft Scottish brogue.

The Pole Dancer Edinburgh Church
The Pole Dancer – Edinburgh Church

A Private Joke

I supply the name and address of our serviced apartment near Grassmarket, south of Edinburgh Castle.

George’s reaction surprises us. He rocks back on his heels, his smile widening. Laughter bubbles up and George waves other guides over. As he tells our story, they raise eyebrows and chuckle too. The band of guides shares some private joke and we aren’t in on it.

Wiping his eyes, George steers us toward a bus, empty except for the seated driver. “My friend, please take these ladies back to their apartment,” George instructs. “They’ve had a long day in our city.”

The Pole Dancer Girls Trip
The Pole Dancer – enjoying the Royal Mile

An Impromptu Game of Charades

The driver nods. George gives him the address. His mouth quirking into a lopsided smile, the driver looks at us with amusement as we settle gratefully into seats.

“Okay, what’s so funny about where we’re staying?” I ask.

In response, George hops into the bus. With an infectious grin, he prances toward the metal pole nearest us. Placed there to steady standing travelers, George has other intentions.

Humming, the Scotsman grabs the pole and dances, surprisingly agile. He twirls around and throws back his head, amid cheers from guides gathered near the bus door. Hooking one leg around the pole, George looks at us, expectantly.

Our dancer plays a spontaneous game of charades. My family members exchange glances as understanding comes. He’s pole dancing, as a clue!  

We are incredulous. “Are we staying in Edinburgh’s red light district?” 

Applause from the guides confirms the guess. The driver snorts and waves George off his bus. He exits with a wink and an admonition to behave ourselves.

The Pole Dancer View of Castle
The Pole Dancer – Our view of the castle, from our five star lodging

A Street with a View

As the bus pulls away from the curb, we look back at George and wave. Laughing, he performs another little twirl on the sidewalk and bows. 

Walking up to our apartment building, we stop and really look at our surroundings. We arrived late the night before, eyes captivated by our first sight of Edinburgh Castle perched high on its volcanic rock.  And we left eager for adventure that morning. Now, turning slowly in a circle, we realize that our five star lodging is located in the middle of strip clubs, lap dance parlors and adult shows. No wonder George and the other guides laughed. We are amused too.

My sister Debbie recently returned with me to Edinburgh, my favorite city in all the world. We stayed in a different serviced apartment, in New Town. However, every time our hop on/hop off bus passed through Grassmarket, we peered up the hill toward our previous lodging. And we smiled, remembering George, our rescuer, our pole dancer.

The Pole Dancer Edinburgh Castle

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