• Stomping on Grapes

    Persuaded by the prospect of crushing grapes and a free lunch (Hey, who said there’s no such thing?), I just couldn’t ...

Aranjuez – A Truly Royal Escape

Spring seems to arrive early in Madrid (at least by my Midwestern standards) marked by daytime highs that can flirt with the upper 70’s as early as March. It was on a warm and sunny Saturday morning when my friend and I boarded a commuter train from Madrid’s Puerta del Sol station headed for a [...]

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Valencia – Sun, Sand, & Paella

As the last bus to Madrid begins its four-hour journey from the Mediterranean city of Valencia, the taste of white wine lingers on my tongue and sun-filled memories are already forming in my mind. A beach weekend away from the chilly autumn air and reminders of daily life in Madrid was just what the doctor [...]

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…Getting Real at BlogHouse Chicago

19:02 CEST Friday, March 14th  – What’s BlogHouse? I hit the send button. My application to BlogHouse Chicago 2014 was flying through cyberspace and then the waiting game began. On my early morning commute a few weeks earlier I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I came across a tweet from a travel blogger [...]

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Finding Beauty in Bilbao

In the weeks leading up to my trip to Bilbao (Bilbo in Basque), I was faced with one of two reactions (and sometimes both) from my Spanish friends as I shared the news:  “Why?…San Sabastián is more beautiful.” or “The food is the best in Spain!” Although I can’t vouch for the former, I certainly [...]

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Home at Homeboy Industries

When most people think of a non-profit organization, they likely think about creating a business that will aid the poor and marginalized by providing services, food, care, and other donations. That’s not what Father Greg Boyle thought when he conceived the idea to create Homeboy Industries. Homeboy is a unique non-profit because it employs the [...]

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Vincentian Living

We were lost! I was the navigator fighting with the Garmin as we found ourselves at the correct address, but not the right place. So technically we weren’t lost, just in the wrong ‘local.’ This evening my service group and I were looking forward to a home-cooked dinner hosted by the Vincentian Service Corp located [...]

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MADE by Downtown Women’s Center

One of my favorite days on my service trip was the day we walked to the Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) and their associated retail store called MADE. The facility is a renovated warehouse that has an apartment community exclusively for women living in Skid Row. It is a beautiful, historic facility and home to a number of [...]

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A Community for the Arts

When I was passed a flier that promoted the ‘Skid Row Art Festival’ I was honestly taken by surprise! I had not thought about Skid Row as a community that appreciated and gave focus to the arts. After going to the karaoke night, I was able to see a lot of people who were quite [...]

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Reality Check at Midnight Mission

“Wiggle your fingers and toes. It’s going to be a good day!” Margaret, our group leader, would say this softly as we were waking up around 5AM. We woke up this early before the sunrise for a few days to serve breakfast at the Midnight Mission. The mission offers many services, one of which is [...]

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The Electric Slide: Breaking Social Barriers

A smile, laughter, music, dance…these are all parts of life that can transcend any level of wealth, social class, and culture. Think about those little things that make all of us on this earth human. So what do you do on a Wednesday night in Skid Row? Join the residents singing karaoke and dancing at [...]

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