Ge Ge Gelato💕

After visiting over a dozen gelaterias (ice cream shops) in Italy last February and sampling a whole lot of gelato, I can’t get enough. I’m in love, ge ge gelato 💕.

Cone with limone and crostatina flavors from L di Leopoldo Infante
Naples, Italy

What makes gelato unique?

Cone with zabaione, stracciatella and caffè flavors from The Palazzo del Freddo di Giovanni Fassi, the oldest gelateria in Rome established 1880

Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream. It starts out with a similar custard base as ice cream, but has a higher proportion of milk and a lower proportion of cream and eggs (or no eggs at all). It is churned at a much slower rate, incorporating less air and leaving the gelato denser than ice cream.

Gelateria Della Palma – Rome, Italy

When visiting a gelateria I decide whether or not I’m going to order from them based on the coloring of their flavors – particularly the banana and pistachio flavors, avoiding any shop with unnatural coloring. The banana color should not be bright yellow and the pistachio color should be light brown with only the slightest hint of green as shown below in my cone from Old Bridge Gelateria

So, just how many gelato flavors are there?

As many flavors as one’s imagination can think up, Gelateria Della Palma boasts having over 150 flavors. Based on my sampling of gelato flavors, here is my list of 20 must try flavors…

Gelato 💕 to you…

Please refer to my prior post for Rome, Italy gelateria recommendations.

Til next time, walk good.

Alecia 💞

Eight Amazing Days in Italy before COVID-19 Lockdown

Detailed Travel Guide

I’ve been wanting to go to Italy for the longest time, over twenty years. I’m currently 41 and from the time I was 19 years old, I’ve had this big Mediterranean trip planned out which include Italy, Greece, Turkey and Crete but hey, life happens. Fast forward to November 2019 BC ~ Before COVID-19, Black Friday to be exact when the only thing on my agenda that day was scooping up great travel deals. To my delight Norwegian Air who boasts affordable à la cheap flights to Europe from New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seatle, Chicago, Denver, Austin, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale had mouth dropping round trip flights from the aforementioned US cities to Rome-Fiumicino (FCO) airport for $200.00! I’d heard of Norwegian Air having previously been on a Norwegian cruise to the Bahamas where I had a stellar time but before getting ahead of myself and booking this flight, I had to run a Google search on the aircraft and read the reviews. Norwegian Air had good review after good review which sold me. Upon booking my flight came the fun part, forming my itinerary. I’m a Type A personality and did not waste any time in sorting out an itinerary that combined a good balance of experiences, tours, art, culture and food. I took to Instagram and Pinterest saving Italy related content out the wazoo, I was hyped. Still excited as I reminisce on the process leading up to the day of my trip, Sunday, February 16th. Oooh let’s talk about the flight experience. Oh my goodness, what an amazing flight. It was a non-stop night flight departing New York JFK airport at 9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, February 16, 2020 (4:00 AM Monday morning, Central European Time (CET)) and arriving at FCO airport at 11:00 AM Central European Time (CET) on Monday, February 17th. From the flight crew to the clean and spacious aircraft, everything ran smoothly on the flight.

Once I boarded the flight and settled in, I plugged in my ear plugs and went to sleep for a good five hours before waking up for the duration of the flight. My flight landed at FCO airport on schedule and once I cleared customs which only took about 15 minutes, I was ready to get rolling, the perks of traveling by carry-on.

Before leaving the airport I decided to change over some currency, Italy uses the Euro (€). I changed out $100 US dollars just to have some cash on hand and because I was hungry. I’d get more money later on, as needed, directly from ATM machines for the best exchange rate. From my research and as an FYI for you, hardly any of the local businesses accept credit cards so you’re gonna need to have cash on hand.

It was now time for me to leave the airport and make my way to my Airbnb located in the Rome city center, 5 minutes from the Colosseum. The FCO airport is approximately 20 miles from the center of Rome. Depending on the mode of transportation (train, bus, taxi) and time of day, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour to reach the center of the city. I chose to take the Leonardo Express train which cost 14€. The Leonardo Express is a Trenitalia train connecting FCO airport with the main train station in Rome, Termini – the only place in the city where the primary metro lines, Metro lines A and B cross.  The third metro line, line C is currently undergoing major reconstruction scheduled to be completed in 2023.

Purchase tickets for the Leonardo Express train at the FCO train station (within the airport) – from automated ticket machines or manned agent window, (the machines accept credit card). Be sure to validate (date and time stamp) your ticket by punching it in one of the little green and white oval machines located on the platform area before boarding the train, I can’t stress this enough, you could be fined up to 100€ if your ticket is not validated. You may also buy your train ticket online by using the Trenitalia website however take note that these tickets come pre-validated with a 4-hour travel window so there’s a risk that they could expire if your flight gets delayed.

Train agent checking my ticket on the Leonardo Express train, again, make sure you validate your ticket before boarding the train.
My adorable Airbnb located in the city center, 5 minutes from the Colosseum

Exploring during the day…

I wanted to see as much as possible without over exerting myself so I created an itinerary that allotted time for rest which was no issue cause Italians don’t play when it comes to riposo pomeridiano (afternoon rest).

My primary mode of getting around Italy was walking, using the bus and metro to get around Rome and using Trenitalia Frecciarossa, high-speed train to go from Rome to Naples and Florence.

You’ll want to plan ahead particularly for museums you want to checkout. Don’t make the mistake of rushing to go to a museum on a Monday since all of Rome’s public museums are closed on that day. Instead, plan to visit other attractions around the city on that day to make the most of your visit. In addition, restaurants tend to close in the afternoon, riposo pomeridiano (siesta) then open back up in the evening. Look to have a sit down dinner around 9:00 PM and don’t expect speedy service, each course takes time.

I purchased museum tickets online directly from the museums, booked free walking tours through New Rome Free Tour , paid tours through The Roman Guy, part of The TOUR guy family, the leading provider of incredible tours and authentic experiences throughout Europe and other unique activities such as a cooking class and light painting photoshoot through Airbnb experiences.

Plan to walk a lot!

Every day in Italy is literally leg day so wear comfortable shoes. Italy has lots of cobblestone streets which have no mercy, they will in deed wreak havoc on your legs and feet.

Keep hydrated…

Gelato 💕

Gelateria Recommendations

Keep up your strength

Eat, drink and eat some more – breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a snack or two in between meals…

Dining Recommendations

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Explore at night…

Bar/Lounge Recommendations

Closing thoughts…

Please checkout my Instagram Italy highlight albums for more pics, Album 1 and Album 2.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and are inspired to explore Italy once there’s a handle on COVID-19 and travel restrictions have been lifted; feel free to reach out to me for further recommendations.

Belli Domani = Beautifull Tomorrow

Til next time, walk good.

Alecia 💞

New Norms in the Midst of COVID-19

As an essential healthcare worker in New York City, an epicenter of COVID-19, the past few weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster to say the least and medical experts say we’ve yet to see the worst of it, yikes 😬🤯🤬.

What is COVID-19?

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the respiratory born disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan, China back in December 2019. 

In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.

Many types of human coronaviruses have been identified, including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. The name of this disease was selected following the World Health Organization (WHO) best practice external icon for naming of new human infectious diseases. Checkout these helpful links Coronavirus symptoms: A list and when to seek help and What You Need to Know for more information on COVID-19.

This situation is not easy, but easy times don’t forge character – hard times do – and we will get through this together and be better and stronger people for it.

Governor Andrew Cuomo

It’s a challenge in these times to cling to the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34…

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25‭-‬34 NIV

But like the early Christian believers who lived in a frightening world of uncertainty and massive shift, I hold on to faith over fear.  In these days, scripture finds a renewed sense of immediacy and power in our lives.

Jah know, I’m running on faith as I navigate this new norm of social distancing and traveling to work in Personal protective equipment (PPE) – protectiveclothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury or infection. The hazards addressed by protective equipment include physical, electrical, heat, chemicals, biohazards, and airborne particulate matter.

NYC has had a long history with the homeless population taking refuge in the underground subway system however with the pandemic this issue has become more pronounced

I want to know, how are you coping though this pandemic? Please share.

New Yorkers can call the COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 1-844-863-9314 for mental health counseling.

Hold on to hope during these trying times

A Prayer for Our World

God, You alone are worthy of honor, glory, and praise. With You, we can overcome every storm—including the global impact COVID-19 is having on our world.

Right now, we are asking You to:

  • Heal those who are sick and protect those who are not.
  • Give our leaders extra wisdom as they navigate this pandemic and economic uncertainty.
  • Strengthen Your global Church. Reveal to us how we can partner together to reach the needs of those around us.
  • Calm our fears. Fill us with Your hope, joy, and peace as we continue to trust in You.
  • Use this pandemic to pave the way for spiritual renewal. We want Your glory, power, and healing to be on display.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Grace, peace and love be with you.

Stay safe and Walk good, Alecia 💞

Happy Black History Month

𝐑𝐎𝐘𝐀𝐋𝐓𝐘 ♛ ~ Black, Proud & Powerful

Closing out Black History Month by saluting the Father of Black History, Carter Godwin Woodson (December 19, 1875 – April 3, 1950). Carter Godwin Woodson was a historian, author, journalist and the founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now called Association for the Study of African American Life and History). Woodson was one of the first scholars to study African-American history. A founder of The Journal of Negro History in 1915, Woodson has been cited as the father of black history. In February 1926 he launched the celebration of “Negro History Week”; it was the precursor of Black History Month.

We must never forget that Black History is American History. The achievements of African Americans have contributed to our nation’s greatness.

Yvette Clarke

Black History Month was first proposed by black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, from January 2, 1970 – February 28, 1970. Six years later, Black History Month was being celebrated all across the country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers, both great and small, when President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. He urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”.

The impact of Blacks in advancing our society is far and wide, going beyond the realm of America. Share what Black history means to you.

Peace, love and happy travels.

Truly Live Your Dash

That period of time between your sunrise and sunset

The phrase “live your dash” comes from one of my favorite poems – The Dash, by Linda Ellis…

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
From the beginning…to the end
He noted that first came the date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years
For that dash represents all the time
That they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
Know what that little line is worth
For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering this special dash
Might only last a little while
So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life's actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent YOUR dash?

The Dash calls on us to be mindful that we’re only on this earth for a short while and to live each with passion and purpose while inspiring others. Having lost my beloved mother when I was 5 years old, I learned rather early on that our existence here on earth would be a transient one and to truly take advantage of the time we’re allotted. However, I wonder if we, as a collective, are living our dash as idle onlookers or as active participants, with a sense of urgency to be purposeful in how we live our lives.

“A higher rate of urgency does not imply ever-present panic, anxiety, or fear. It means a state in which complacency is virtually absent”

John P. Kotter

It’s been said that “we don’t remember the days, we remember moments.” Being present and in the moment provides some of life’s greatest joys. Remember life is short, make every moment matter.

There is a danger in the word someday when what it means is “not this day.”…The scriptures make the danger of delay clear. It is that we may discover that we have run out of time. The God who gives us each day as a treasure will require an accounting. We will weep, and He will weep, if we have intended to repent and to serve Him in tomorrows which never came or have dreamt of yesterdays where the opportunity to act was past. This day is a precious gift of God. The thought “Someday I will” can be a thief of the opportunities of time and the blessings of eternity.

Henry B. Eyring

Each day above ground is a gift from God, a whole new 24 hours to use as we choose. We can squander or relish in the gift, the choice is ours. I choose to make good use of my dash. It’s my goal to not tarry and to not merely exist but to live joie de vivre, living with a ravenous thirst for life using my first name as an acronym…

A ~ Adventurous

L ~ Loving

E ~ Empowering

C ~ Confident

I ~ Inquisitive

A ~ Adaptable

Seize the day, never have regrets!

“Go out and grasp the seconds of the day as if you had only that day to live. Experience and enjoy the moments of your life. We only have one life to live, so live it like a champion.”

Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Soul
“The journey of life is not about the destination but about exploration.”
― Nitin Namdeo

“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do.”

Kobe Bryant

Live your dash well. May my capacity to make genuine connections and leave a positive impact on others grow exponentially.

“Alecia – You appreciate the best in every man, wish all of us could do that!”

Dr. Sushma K. (University of Michigan)

Walk good!

Knock knock, who’s there? Alecia!

The Bookgirl from the University of Michigan...

Henry P. Tappan, the first president of the University of Michigan (U-M) envisioned an institution where education meant the “unfolding of the capacities of the mind.” U-M extended that desire to me in 1996 when I was welcome as a future wolverine. I came to U-M as a wide-eyed 17 year old from Queens, NY by way of Jamaica, West Indies and left the university, a true ‘Leader & Best’. Michigan gave me the courage to reach within myself, typ think outside the box and grow intellectually and emotionally. Day in, day out, the Michigan spirit is a part of me.

U-M had the awesome advantage of not only fostering a community that included people from all walks of life but also a variety of programs, both educational and social that went beyond the realm of the classroom providing me with the necessary tools to face the challenges of the twenty-first century head on.

“What makes people smart, curious, alert, observant, competent, confident, resourceful, persistent – in the broadest and best sense, intelligent- is not having access to more and more learning places, resources, and specialists, but being able in their lives to do a wide variety of interesting things that matter, things that challenge their ingenuity, skill, and judgement, and that make an obvious difference in their lives and the lives of people around them.”

John Holt~ Teach Your Own

When it came to summer jobs during my early college career, I went for adventure; during the summer recess after both my freshmen and sophomore years, I worked on the West Coast (California and Utah, respectively) as an independent contractor of Southwestern Advantage of Nashville, TN, running my own business as a door-to-door sales person of educational reference products.

Fond memories from the bookfield

As Spring semester came to a close at the end of April, a caravan of at least thirty of us – all college students, would drive from Ann Arbor, MI to Nashville, TN to attend sales school for a week where we would interact with other college students from approximately 200 campuses worldwide. At the close of sales school, we’d drive cross country to our respective summer destinations, college students who attend schools on the East Coast would be placed in locales in the South to work for the summer, those who went to schools in the South would work in the Midwest for the summer, etc, etc. Essentially, everyone got placed in a total opposite locale from where they attended school. Since 1868, Southwestern Advantage has offered a sales & leadership program that gives university students a way to afford their degrees, gain entrepreneurial skills, and build character.

Door-to-door sales was interesting to say the least, it wasn’t so much about making a sale as it was meeting people, people I wouldn’t have otherwise meet. Sure, there were folks who wouldn’t give me the time of day, dogs who’d try to bite my head off, the dry, hot heat and sun that would just be blistering between the hours of noon and 3:00 PM. But there were those instances when I’d knock on someone’s door and that individual would open their door, greeting me with a smile and before I knew it, somewhere between saying hello and my name is Alecia, I’d be popping a squat with that individual on their porch, in their living room or around their dining room table, drinking a tall glass of lemonade, iced tea or water and discussing life, family and career aspirations, somewhere in their I’d squeeze in my sales pitch, where I may or may not make a sale, either way I’d leave that individual’s presence all the wiser for the experience of meeting someone who enriched my life.

So keep an eye out this summer for the bookperson! These young people are doing a great thing – promoting education to families in our communities. If the bookman or bookgirl knocks on your door, give them a minute. Whether you buy anything or not, they’ll leave you in a good mood. I guarantee it will be the most positive conversation you will have all week!

Til next post…Live, love, learn, inspire, travel and walk good ✌🏾💞

Carry-On State of Mind

“If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light.”

Cesare Pavese
Bathroom selfie at Toronto Pearson International Airport

When it comes to traveling, do you prefer to go the route of carry-ons or checked luggage? Between having my luggage mistaken and taken by another traveler a few years ago at Miami International Airport baggage claim (we both had the same Joy Mangano luggage and he totally missed the tags 🤷🏾‍♀️), held luggage due to layovers and increased costs in checked bag fees, I prefer going with carry-on. Sooo, how does one pack using carry-on luggage, especially when traveling for more than a week?! Given airline luggage size and weight restrictions, I’ve managed to travel with only carry-on using Eagle Creek Compression Cubes, Hibag Compression bags and solid carry-on luggage such as Nautica Carry-On Expandable Spinner Luggage and TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior……

TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior packed with 2 weeks worth of luggage including 3 pairs of shoes
Packing Game Changers
Closing up the compression cubes

I tend to move around quite a lot while in transit and find traveling carry-on not only cost effective but convenient, offering great ease maneuvering through airports and when it comes to hopping on and off trains and buses.

Brussels-South Railway Station/Brussels, Belgium

For more of my travel highlights, follow me on Instagram CLICK HERE 

Til the next post, take care…Live, love, learn, inspire and travel!

First things first, introductions!

Pictured above: Secluded in the hills of eastern Kamakura, an hour south of Tokyo, this beautiful, small bamboo grove found behind the Hōkokuji Temple’s main hall consists of over 2000 dark green Moso bamboo (the biggest species of bamboo) stalks. It rained and poured for a good 2 hours and I literally had the grove to myself ~ showers of blessings 😊

Sun Voyager ~ Reykjavik, Iceland. Sun Voyager is described as a dreamboat, or an ode to the sun. The artist intended it to convey the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom.

Greetings! I haven’t written a blog post since the days of MSN Spaces and Myspace, well over a decade, sigh. Here we are, new year, new decade and I figured I’d get back into the swing of blogging, sharing more of my life and travels beyond my Instagram page. So, who am I?! I’m Alecia (pronounced with 4 syllables, uh-LEE-see-uh) and I’m a wanderer, not a wonderer who loves Jesus, uplifting people, my alma mater – The University of Michigan (Go Blue), music, travel and food which you’ll see incorporated throughout my posts.

Breathing in the crisp Caribbean air in Kingston, Jamaica

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote: To travel is to live.”

Hans Christian Anderson
Otsego Lake ~ Cooperstown, NY… Being born under the scorpio zodiac water sign I’m a proud water baby and no matter where I go, I’m guaranteed to be in or on the water in some capacity – swimming, sailing or kayaking.

Travel offers great enlightenment and engagement, I hope you enjoy my posts as I strive to broaden horizons and inspire wander.

Asakusa Shrine ~ Tokyo, Japan. Though I’m a Christian I wanted to visit a shrine while in Japan and be respectful in doing so.

Please subscribe and leave a comment, your feedback on anything of mine is welcomed and much appreciated.

Live, love, learn, inspire and travel!

💋 from Tower Bridge (often mistaken for London Bridge)
London, England

Til next time, walk good (Jamaican expression for take care/stay safe).