... the tales of two sisters

Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.

The Vessel

Today, I wrap up my recap of beautiful Portugal and the journey to get there.  As Gary and Linda were driving us to The Ivens Hotel in Lisbon from Cascais, my eye caught a glimpse of a wine bar perched on the corner. The door was open, and I could see a room with the sweetest view.  I knew I had to visit it before we departed.  We met for a final glass(s) of vino, after a scrumptious meal at JncQuoi Asia, there. The intimate room and the tranquil view did not disappoint.

As we shared our parting goodbyes, my mind drifted to how Eric and my trip began with a quick stop over in NYC. I was reminded of how fortunate we are to have such dear friends and how distance does not separate the heart. These are my people, and although they relocated nearly six years, and it took me 14 hours and 15 minutes flight time to see them, when we are together, it is as if time stopped.  Gary and Linda, like the beautiful view from the wine bar did not disappoint and had shown us such a phenomenal time.  I’m a big baby, so I’m not good at “arrivederci”. I will be back.

Unfortunately, in NYC, time did not permit me to see many of my loved ones in the Big Apple, however, we were able to re-connect with dear friends, Karen & Randy Miles.   We met at their SPECTACTULAR new home (I won’t even begin to go there, Weezie).  Karen and I have such a history and sense of humor, so the sentiment was the same that distance and years did not separate our bond.  We walked through the Hudson Yard where we happened upon The Vessel.  For those not familiar – as I was not, here’s a little history.  Vessel (TKA) is a structure and visitor attraction built as part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project in ManhattanNew York CityNew York. Built to plans by the British designer Thomas Heatherwick, the elaborate honeycomb-like structure rises 16 stories and consists of 154 flights of stairs, 2,500 steps, and 80 landings for visitors to climb. Vessel is the main feature of the 5-acre (2.0 ha) Hudson Yards Public Square. Funded by Hudson Yards developer Related Companies, its final cost is estimated at $200 million.

I love the word vessel. Although the definition is a ship or a large boat, I always tell my children I was their vessel as my mother was mine.  I refer to my orchid containers as vessels.   A vessel is meant to hold or contain in my mind beautiful contents. So, it saddened me to realize this monumental structure in NYC, called The Vessel which opened in March 2019, has since been the site of four deaths by suicide and is now off limits. 

It’s so sad for the lives that were lost and for their families.  Sometimes, we can’t contain what was meant to hold.  Just let this be a reminder to protect your vessels in life and keep them full of treasured memories which will last forever.

To all our friends, thanks for keeping our vessels running over.  Tell someone you love them- just because you do!

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Wine Bar Lisbon


Vessel NYC

Me checking on my “Vessels” from Portugal

Cheers to Portugal!

Upon our arrival in Cascais before we visited to Lisbon, Gary and Linda hosted a party to welcome us. It was easy to see how these ex-pats (people who live outside of their native country) could embrace living abroad in this Portuguese Riviera.    They hailed from as far as South Africa, England, Ireland and a former Mayor aptly named Will Wynn from Austin Texas. (Damn that’s such a great name!)  It’s no surprise that Gary, the appointed “Mayor” of their community has created an extended family with this crew. They bike ride, swim, golf, shop at the local market, dine and drink together.

I learned interesting facts about Portugal from this diverse crew and what drew them to leave their native homes.  Language was not a barrier, even though Gary is now fluent in Portugues and Linda can certainly get by on her own.

For those considering traveling to Portugal, I thought today, I’d share some interesting facts.

One thing that may surprise you is that the Portuguese language is spoken by over 236 million people worldwide including 210 million natives.

It is the eighth most spoken language in the world and is the official language in 9 countries which includes Portugal (of course), Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Principe, Sao Tome and Equatorial Guinea.

So, if you’re looking for a new language to learn, Portuguese might be a great option

Who could imagine that the oldest bookstore in the world, is in Portugal?

Yes, it’s true. The Bertrand Bookstore in Lisbon is the oldest bookstore in the world and was opened in 1732. This quirky little shop is 283 years old. You can find this piece of history in Lisbon´s Chiado, where it still stands. There are around 50 branches of the bookstore throughout Portugal. If you are around, why not check out the colorful mosaic tiled exterior!

Devastating fact: Beautiful Lisbon was struck by a massive earthquake in November 1755, which was followed by a tsunami and fires that brought the city to rubble. This happened on All Saints Day, a major holiday when the churches are filled with burning candles.When the earthquake struck it caused major fires with the candles. 275,000 people were killed and 85% of the buildings were destroyed.

Portugal is the largest producer of cork in the world!  I was fortunate as Linda gifted me a cork purse, and it will always be a reminder of our trip and time there.

Love Tempura?  Thank Portugal:)

Portuguese missionaries invented the Japanese tempura which is a dish of battered, deep-fried vegetables and seafood. Not only did they invent Piri Piri and tempura, but the Portuguese also introduced chilli, pepper, potatoes and tomatoes to India and Thailand.

Surfs Up! The biggest wave ever surfed was in Portugal. An underwater canyon in the area makes this part of the Portuguese coastline the world’s biggest wave generator. In February 2011, Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara rode a massive wave at a whopping 80 feet tall off the coast of Nazaré in Portugal – and created a new world record.

Have you watched I Am Georgina on Netflix?  I have- and yup, soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo was born here.

Cross the bridge and get there!  Well, not only is Portugal the oldest nation, but it also has the longest bridge in all of Europe.

Cheers to Portugal!  Port Wine is Portugal´s most famous export and its national drink.


Cheers to Gary and Linda too!  

A Message from a Red Carpet in Amsterdam: Travellers be Aware!!

A Message from a Red Carpet in Amsterdam: Travellers be Aware!!

My sister and co-blogger Dana is sharing her experiences this week from her trip to Portugal, Europe’s oldest nation, and stories from the travels of other folks as well. 

After all, Wanderlust is my middle name! But my friends, please be aware. Here’s a story:

You arrive at your hotel and check-in at the front desk. Typically when checking in, you give the front desk your credit card (for any charges to your room) and they don’t retain the card.

You go to your room and settle in. The hotel receives a call and the caller asks for (as an example) room 420 – which happens to be your room. The phone rings in your room. You answer and the person on the other end says the following: “This is the front desk. When checking in, we came across a problem with your charge card information. Please re-read me your credit card numbers and verify the last 3 digits numbers at the reverse side of your charge card.”

Not thinking anything wrong since the call seems to come from the front desk, you’re on vacation, and feeling lovely, you oblige. But actually, it is a scam by someone calling from outside the hotel. They have asked for a random room number, then ask you for your credit card and address information. They sound so professional, that you think you are talking to the front desk.


If you ever encounter this scenario on your travels, tell the caller that you will be down to the front desk to clear up any problems. DO NOT GIVE THEM ANY INFORMATION. Then, go to the front desk or call directly and ask if there was a problem. If there was none, inform the manager of the hotel that someone tried to scam you of your credit card information, acting like a front desk employee.

Please, consider spreading the word by sharing info. Who knows– you might just help someone avoid a nasty experience.

ANYONE traveling should be aware of this one. 


Reisende aufgepasst!!

Meine Schwester und Co-Bloggerin Dana berichtet diese Woche von ihrer Reise nach Portugal, dem ältesten Land Europas, und wir sind dabei! Ich genieße auch die Bilder und Geschichten von den Reisen anderer Leute in den sozialen Medien. 

Fernweh ist mein zweiter Vorname! Aber meine Freunde, seid bitte vorsichtig. Hier ist eine Geschichte:

Du kommst in deinem Hotel an und checkst an der Rezeption ein. Normalerweise gibst du der Rezeption beim Einchecken deine Kreditkarte (für eventuelle Abbuchungen auf deinem Zimmer), und sie behalten die Karte nicht ein.

Du gehst auf dein Zimmer und richtest dich dort ein. Das Hotel erhält einen Anruf, und der Anrufer fragt nach (als Beispiel) Zimmer 420 – was zufällig dein Zimmer ist. Das Telefon klingelt in deinem Zimmer. Du nimmst ab und die Person am anderen Ende sagt Folgendes: “Hier ist die Rezeption. Beim Einchecken sind wir auf ein Problem mit Ihren Kreditkartendaten gestoßen. Bitte lesen Sie mir Ihre Kreditkartennummern noch einmal vor und überprüfen Sie die letzten 3 Ziffern auf der Rückseite Ihrer Kreditkarte.”

Du denkst dir nichts Böses dabei, denn der Anruf scheint von der Rezeption zu kommen, du bist im Urlaub und fühlst dich gut, also gehst du darauf ein. Aber in Wirklichkeit handelt es sich um einen Betrug von jemandem, der von außerhalb des Hotels anruft. Sie fragen nach einer zufälligen Zimmernummer und bitten Sie dann um Ihre Kreditkarten- und Adressdaten. Sie hören sich so professionell an, dass Du denkst, du würdest mit der Rezeption sprechen.


Wenn du auf deinen Reisen jemals auf dieses Szenario stößt, sage dem Anrufer, dass du zur Rezeption kommen wirst, um alle Probleme zu klären. GIB IHNEN KEINE INFORMATIONEN. Geh dann zur Rezeption oder ruf direkt an und frag, ob es ein Problem gab. Wenn nicht, informieren Sie den Hotelmanager, dass jemand versucht hat, von dir deine Kreditkartendaten zu ergaunern, indem er sich als Rezeptionist ausgab.

Bitte denkt daran, die Information weiterzugeben. Wer weiß – vielleicht hilft das jemandem, eine unangenehme Erfahrung zu vermeiden.

JEDER Reisende sollte sich dessen bewusst sein. 


Palaces of Portugal..

“The Monastery of Our Lady of Pena was built between 1503 and 1511.  It stands out with Moorish art, Spanish and Arabic Tiles, and Portuguese architecture of the early 16th century, which brought together elements of the Gothic with the novelties of the Renaissance.”

I read the sign as Eric and I patiently in line for entrance to the Pena Palace, one of the finest tourist attractions in Portugal.  The interior of the Palace had been restored to reflect the decor of 1910, when the Portuguese nobility fled to Brazil to escape the revolution.  The time was 12:20 and our admittance tickets read 12, so we merged our way up the long corridor to the guard who informed us we had to wait in line no matter what time our tickets read.  I discovered that Mondays are the worst day to visit as Lisbon’s museums are closed and most visitors then make the trek to Sintra.  I also discovered Thursdays are the least traffic and any day it’s best to arrive late afternoon.  As Eric and I made our way back down and through the long winding crowd, I saw the woman we were originally standing behind making progress to the entry. “Oh, hey- remember us?” I said happily, not desiring to head back to the ever expanding flock. She had been taking continually selfies and I was certain our faces were in her photo album.   She looked at me and in perfect English shouted, “I don’t know you and I don’t speak English!”  The kind lady now standing behind her in our place however did recognize us and let us re-take our previous position, saving us at least an hour of additional wait time.

I hoped the one who claimed she didn’t remember us and didn’t understand English understood when I said loudly that she favored  the mythical gargoyle which guarded the entrance.

Well, the heat and wait was worth it.  Eric and I always make a point to visit museums on our trips.  In previous blogs, I have shared our visit to The Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina which was built by George Vanderbilt in 1889.  I’ve shared our trips to historical Plantations in Tennessee and castles in Kotor, Montenegro. Time and again, I can only marvel  at the intensity of the craftsmanship, grandiose staterooms, and decor.  It’s mind boggling imagining the artistry. In Pena Palace,  I asked one guard why the beds were so tiny assuming that the people were small in stature.  He explained people of that era believed sleeping laying down was only for the dead, so they slept sitting up.

Gary, our dear friend and now local Portuguese resident and the best tour guide ever met us at our designated spot, and we all toured The Monserrate Palace. The history of Monserrate starts out in 1540, the point in time when Friar Gaspar Preto ordered the construction of a hermitage here dedicated to Our Lady of Monserrate.  Again, the landscapes, architecture, and design were breathtaking.

Monserrate Palace

Pena Palace

Cascais! Day One Portugal Then and Now

This week as promised, I’m sharing our trip across the pond to Portugal.

Today we celebrate Juneteenth, and I would be remiss to not begin this post by acknowledging the word CELEBRATE in what this day means.  In 1441 the first slaves were brought to Portugal from west Africa. Soon many merchants entered the Portuguese slave trade and hundreds of slaves were being shipped to Europe each year. By 1470 Lisbon had become the leading slave port.  As I walked these historic streets, I imagined my ancestry in the humid, hot climate and how they built upon the land I stood.

Day 1


Well, it only took me five and a half years after they moved for me to get back there.  I can partially blame Covid for the delay, but aside from missing my dear friends, Gary and Linda madly, a trip to Portugal was not high on my bucket list.

I had been to the Algarve thirty plus years ago with my mom, sister, nephew and former brother- in -law.  In my mind’s eye, a repeat of that excursion was what I envisioned. Admittedly, I wasn’t too excited when Eric pushed for our first post Pandemic out of the country trip there. A windy beach too frigid to swim in, bad coffee, trouble communicating, and rustic roads hard to get around on was what I imagined.  I was longing for a hot beach, resting under swaying palm trees, while being served fruity concoctions of alcohol infused beverages, and reading a great book.  Yup, you read my mind- Necker Island.

Portugal 1989

I was, however, eager to reunite with Gary and Linda.  Gary had been my free therapist when they lived in Seattle.  He helped navigate me through my divorce, and subsequent dating relationships.  He and Linda would host incredible SeaFair gatherings and some of the best dinners with close friends, Chuck, Kerry, Tom, Alice and Ron, Kelly and Karen.  I was even invited to Friday night Beer with the Boys.  Gary, like me, has never met a stranger and   I immediately knew I had made the right choice in agreeing to the trip, when Gary, the community appointed “Mayor of Cascais” awaited us at the airport. My husband and I were in for the time of our life. Sir Richard Branson will have to wait!

Gary stuffed his white mini-BMW with our luggage and off we headed to the Farol Hotel. This charming property was perched on the waterfront overlooking the Atlantic coastline. Eric and I got settled- jet lag be damned, and Gary and Linda met us poolside for cocktails.  Gary had recently celebrated a milestone birthday and as he opened his bag of goodies, we were in for a great laugh. In our travel sleep deprivation, Eric judiciously packing per Marie Kondo’s space saving rolling tips had stuffed some of my pink underwear in one of his gifts, a bourbon glass which said Vintage Aged to Perfection.  Not sure if Gary thought it was the Nashville bourbon, drinking glass or my undies which had aged to perfection, but the look on his face was priceless.The four of us headed to Praia Grande for dinner at a restaurant named Bar do Fundo. I was in at the name alone!  Linda, knowing that I am a finicky eater had even reached out to my sister to see if my palate had expanded. I don’t think I ever order direct off a menu.  No CHEESE, no red meat, no, pork is not the other white meat, sauce on the side, well done please!    I was in luck as Portugal is known for fish which I love.  Eric was thrilled as Octopus (the one fish I am not a fan of oh that and the Portuguese staple sardines) was on the menu as well.  The first night, as the windy ocean air kicked up and we enjoyed Portuguese wine, I settled on a local favorite, Bacalhau, which is a Portuguese word for cod – dried and salted.  Washed down with some Portuguese wine (very tasty I might add), and the entire meal with wine and a few cocktails for the four of us was approximately $100 Euro. I looked at Eric and said, aren’t you glad I picked this?

Obrigada…. More to come

Gary and Linda

He should watch my Octopus Teacher- he won’t!


View from our room at Hotel Faro


Loved these signature chairs in the Faro Hotel Lobby

It’s Still Erect: The Penis and the Shewolves of Pompeii

And once again, it is Friday and we are stepping into weekend mode. 

Are you planning a vacation? Perhaps a staycation? If you’re planning a staycation, I hope you’ll discover something in your  hometown that will make your eyes light up. Just saving the money on flights and gasoline right now will certainly give you peace of mind. Take and enjoy this precious time and reconnect with yourself, family, and your friends–you’ll also be doing  something good for your local economy. And I DO hope you can unearth an unknown treasure! 

Speaking of unearthed treasures, I’m sharing a post today about one of my most favorite destinations of all time–so much so, that I even took Mama there. Pompeii, Pompeii, Pompeii…Pompeii has been a tourist destination for over 250 years. Today it has UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, with approximately 2.5 million visitors every year.

Come along and find out why… 

It’s Still Standing: The Penis and the Shewolves of Pompeii

I’ve been spellbound by the Roman city Pompeii, located a few miles southeast of Naples, Italy, between the Mediterranean Sea and the base of Mt. Vesuvius since I first heard about it as a young girl.

The reason for my intrigue is because I couldn’t then, nor can I now, wrap my head around the sobering truth that most of the inhabitants of this city suffocated and burned to death when the mountain exploded in 79 A.D.

Pompeii is the most important archaeological site in the Roman world and as I stood in its midst, I felt as though I was standing face to face with antiquity. And I was.

Adding to my fascination is the fact this was an ancient, ancient time. Just what were the people like who lived there? If my parents would have paid my college tuition, which they did, and if Daddy would have let me study archaeology instead of Business and English, which he didn’t, that is what I would have done, for this world bewitches me. Pompeii, the remains of an entire civilization, lay buried for 1700 years (!) before excavation began and even this excavation was only by accident.

Let’s jump back in time and imagine. . .

It is the 24th of August, A.D. 79, sometime around noon. This bustling agricultural port town’s 20,000 inhabitants are busy: bakers are baking fancy bread prepared with spices, eggs, and honey; slaves are preparing for the evening; the men are in the public baths while mothers are tending to their children, and the Shewolves are perhaps not yet howling. (We will come back to the Shewolves in a moment).

The earth has been rumbling over the past few days, but no one takes notice until suddenly the ground shakes violently. Mt. Vesuvius roars, spewing forth a poisonous, smothering, blinding ash that buries daylight into darkness. Red hot clouds permeate the air. Enormous amounts of rock shoot into space here, there, and everywhere. Panicked, confused, and frightened beyond comprehension, between 1000 and 2000 of the 12,000 inhabitants die on the spot while others flee. Pompeii is destroyed forever.

At the time, there were about 800 houses, three public baths and in the city streets, horses and carriages were the means of transportation. No one knows really how many Shewolves there were at the time. It is estimated quite a few because their industry was big business in Pompeii.

And what was that business? Some say it’s the oldest profession in the world: Prostitution.

Artifacts and relics unearthed beneath this city buried between 4 to 6 meters or 13 to 20 feet of ash, revealed that there existed an elaborate system of sex. 

Today, near where the Forum stood, on the main street, stands the excavated remains of the oldest brothel, the Lupanar of Pompeii. And how do we know it was a brothel? Well for one, there are carved penises on the stones in the road pointing in its direction, and graffiti from the walls has been transcribed. An example in Latin: “I came here and had a good. . .f@#k.”And still visible today above the door of each of the 5 dark, gloomy rooms on the main floor is a pornographic fresco depicting which service and/or delight one would receive in that particular room. Built adjacent to one side of the wall in each of these rooms is a concrete bed with an elevation that served as a pillow. As I entered each enclosed space and touched the walls, I felt like I was standing in a prison cell.

Now, outside under a clear blue sky, an erect penis emerges from the structure over the entrance. This was Penis Avenue! I’m serious. What we have to remember is that Naples was a port town; men sailed in from all over the world, each with his own language (and desires). An erect penis on a building’s facade spoke for itself as it knocked down all language barriers. If sex was what you were looking for, you knew you were in the right place. Kind of like driving along the highway or Autobahn and seeing the Golden Arches. You know what’s on the menu.

Brilliant those Romans were!

And now we come back to the Shewolves or to the Lupa as they were referred to at the time.

I was told that the prostitutes were called Shewolves because they would beckon their tricks from the street below by howling like wolves perched from an opened upstairs window in the Lupanar.

Archeologists have turned up at least 41 brothels in the ruins of Pompeii and that is to say nothing of the taverns and hotels which were also common sites for prostitution. We also have to remember that 80% of the population was poor, so this was probably more often than not, as we would say today, a “hit it and quit it” kind of thing. No time for having a cigarette and talking about it afterward. Many of these women were slaves. Even though their pay was on the low end and was the equivalent of the price of a loaf of bread (and not the fancy egg and spiced variety), it was still more than what an average laborer was paid. So this in effect was a relatively high-paying job for them. Nonetheless, they still had to keep it moving.

And keep it moving they did. Literally.

Until Mt. Vesuvius blew her top putting an end to it all.

If you stare up at the open perch from where a Shewolf beckoned her prey, and concentrate, you think you can faintly hear the echo of her howl. And you know that she really was here nearly two thousand years ago, because the Penis, still erect atop the small opening of the exterior wall above the entrance, tells us so.

Food for Thought

“Animals are such agreeable friends— they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” —George Eliot

Something for Your Toolbox

Something for Your Toolbox

Set Yourself Free with a Good Mood Fruit this Weekend

So how many of you folks like pineapple out there? 

You should, I mean, after all, a ripe one tastes deliciously sweet and fruity, and tropical-like sunshine. A good mood fruit.

And it’s really good for us: did you know that some of its numerous possible health benefits include aiding in digestion, acting as an anti-inflammatory agent, and helping reduce the pain of arthritis. It may also be an anti-clotting, anti-hypertension, and anti-cancer substance.


There was a time before my divorced that I really enjoyed fresh pineapple–it wasn’t my favorite fruit, nonetheless, I really enjoyed a succulent bite or two especially on a warm day. 

The day I began my divorce proceedings, I decided that I didn’t like pineapple anymore because my ex-husband loved it– it was his favorite fruit. In my anger, disgust, and contempt at how he dragged out our divorce proceedings and the actual hell he put me through, I felt that I would be getting some kind of revenge by denying myself something that was healthy for me and tasted like sunshine to boot just because he liked it.

How could I possibly like something he liked, I reasoned. After a time, a long time, I came to realize what I knew all along and that was that I was physically and mentally free and that the time had come to replace my negative thoughts with… pineapple!

My joy has led me to a crazy discovery! I have found a way to eat pineapple– you won’t believe this–without cutting it. Grab yourself this good mood fruit this weekend and get some happy. 

Check out this video for the reveal of how to eat a pineapple without cutting it! Try it —it’s awesome!