An oasis in the meadow!

Ladies and gentlemen may I please have your attention.  I would like to introduce you to an oasis in the
middle of Indiana meadows; it has been attracting guests since 1845.  Please without any further delay let’s begin to acquaint you with  French Lick Resort located in French Lick Township, Orange County Indiana.

West Baden garden view
The allure began with “miracle waters” from the natural sulphur springs inspiring people to travel over 100 miles back in the 1850’s.   The resort has been visited by hundreds of famous individuals including Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Hope, Duke Ellington,  Louis Armstrong and several US Presidents.  The Chicago Cubs hosted their spring training here for several years including 1908 which is coincidentally the last time the Cubs won the World Series.  


All aboard the train to French Lick!Unfortunately due to economic hardships the hotels had lost their luster;  however in 2007 a $500 million project restored both hotels to their glory days and beyond.  While the renovation has restored the buildings I think the largest asset the resorts currently have is their staff.  

The staff at French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs Resort possess a rare trait of providing the highest quality customer care imaginable which is the cornerstone to their success.


West Baden Springs Resort

I had the pleasure of staying at the West Baden resort this past weekend.  The resort greets you with a long cobbled stone driveway where the valet service is ready to assist with your luggage.  The valet offers parking services so get ready to say farewell to your beloved car for the duration of your stay.  There are shuttles and trains available continuously throughout the day to both resorts, golf courses, casino, sports & exhibit complex, and the stables.

Upon entrance to the hotel you will probably find yourself speechless in the lavish palatial atrium utilizing European architecture.  In this breathtaking atrium you marvel at the creation built in 1901 showcasing the world’s largest free-span dome which was dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. West Baden lobby


West Baden figurine

West Baden dome at night









The hotel rooms are extremely spacious with a wet bar that included a small fridge that was stocked with complimentary bottled water.   The bathroom was enormous and nearly the same size as the bedroom with a shower, seperate tub, private enclosed toilet and closet areas.

West Baden hotel room


West Baden patioA daily resort bulletin summarizes key events with upcoming 3 day weather forecast and detailed information on the variety of activities including times, prices, etc.   The resorts have over 100 things to do so get ready to have some fun! I would recommend advance reservations for Afternoon Tea with live harp music to relax you during the afternoon.  While there are no reservations required the rocking chairs on the patio are pure childhood joy.  There is also live jazz music in the library every Friday and Saturday evening which was a splendid surprise.

I would make an appointment at the West Baden Spa to partake in some classic luxury indulgence.  The spa offers a variety of services and the hot stone massage will melt away any stress.  The spa has won numerous awards including Top 20 List of Top 100 Resort Spas, Condé Nast Traveler.  Trust me it is divine!



French Lick Springs Resort

French Lick lobbyWhile most of the weekend was spent at West Baden we visited French Lick Springs twice.   Historically the only transport option between the two hotels was a train which still operates today on a regular basis.  The train station has been modernized providing a GPS map including visual update on current location. The French Lick Resort is designated as a National Trust Historical Hotel of America and has actively operated the current building since 1901.

The front door entrance to the hotel has a lovely patio complete with rocking chairs to enjoy.  The hotel lobby is intimate and ornate which encircles you like a warm blanket.  You instantly feel comfy and relaxed.  The Neoclassical paintings on the ceiling provide a view beyond delight.

French Lick has a casino which includes Vegas-style gaming facility including a non-smoking section!   In addition French Lick offers a six-lane bowling alley, game arcade, and a 60,000 sq ft Sports & Exhibit Complex.  This hotel has something for everyone.


Get outdoors

The outdoor recreation options are limitless including 4 golf courses with impressive golf course awards:

  • Pete Dye CourseCarriage ride
  • Donald Ross Course
  • Sultan’s Run Course
  • Valley Links Course
  • Hiking including 5 miles of trails
  • Indoor & Outdoor pools
  • Mountain Biking including 6 miles of trails
  • Horseback riding
  • Bike rentals
  • Carriage rides


Ready to go?

This is a resort where you can achieve ultimate relaxation and I recommend spending a few days.  Simple and pure bliss.   My only regret for the weekend is not leaving Chicago earlier in the day to spend more time at the resort.

Seek your adventure!

Do you know the way to Transnistria?

In last week’s post I shared with you highlights from my amazing recent vacation to Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria.   Well friends,  I saved the best for last or at least the most unique.

Raise your hand if you have ever heard of the Transnistria or  Trans-Dniester.   Anyone?  I had never heard of it until I was preparing for my trip to Moldova.  So this is 1 of only 4 breakaway territories stuck in post-Soviet “frozen conflict” zones.   It is officially defined as Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR)  also known as Pridnestyrovie.  While this territory has their own military, currency, and government; it is not recognized as a country by the United Nations.

We travelled from Moldova with a private guide who was very comfortable with the procedures of entering this territory.  We approached the passport control and my fellow American traveller got his passport approved in seconds. However my passport seemed to cause some problems as they appeared to be having a hard time translating my name into Cyrillic.  Thankfully our private guide spoke Russian and could translate their questions as they wanted to know my father’s full name and city of birth.  Given it is not a recognized country there is no passport stamp but an immigration card that you must return when you leave the territory.  Finally after 10-15 minutes we were in.  Well not so fast actually.  Next came the full car inspection to ensure we were not transporting anything illegal.  While the inspection lasted only a few minutes our guide was brought into the office for paperwork and allegedly required insurance fees.  So after nearly an hour at the border and additional alleged taxes we were off to see Trans-Dniester.

Interesting facts about Trans-Dniester:

  • Population is about 30% Russian, 30% Moldovan, and 30% Ukranian
  • Only electric tram in the world which crosses 2 cities Bender & Tiraspol
  • Only territory to display hammer and sickle which is a traditional communist symbol on their flag
  • This territory was previously part of Moldavian ASSR from 1924 – 1940 which was an autonomous republic of the Ukraine
  • The Transnistrian ruble coins  are made of plastic and huge collectors item on eBay

P4281063 P4281067

Hands down the strangest place I have ever been and I have been around many blocks in many countries.  We spent a few hours touring around the city of Bender and eventually on to the capital Tiraspol.  We were grateful to have the wisdom of our private guide Chip from who travelled with us for several days.  He was able to provide guidance on the importance of not taking any photographs of military, police or major infrastructure.

Tiraspol P4281126

The capital is Tiraspol with a population of 150,000 yet we saw only a few people on the streets that day.  You could clearly see all of the CCTV cameras that were recording your every move which might explain why all of the locals walked briskly looking down at the ground.   It was a completely surreal experience.  It seemed as though we had been transported into a movie set and I was waiting for the director to shout out “Hey you in the white shirt…yes you…can you move a little to the left please?”.  It instantly reminded me of the The Truman Show movie where the character portrayed by Jim Carrey had his whole life staged.  Imagine it for a moment.


On exiting the country, sorry got that wrong….territory, there was some additional trouble with my passport.  My passport is due to expire in December 2017 and I had additional pages inserted a few years ago; yet regardless it is pretty full with immigration stamps along with several visas for India and Brazil.   This apparently raised some concerns at the border control.  Once again my guide with his Russian translation came to the rescue to explain that I was not a secret agent spy but simply one girl who travels.

Seek your adventure!


Amazing sites & great wine at affordable prices: Highlights from Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria

When I tell people I have just returned from vacation in Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria most people  get that funny look on their face.  For any of you hard core travelers out there you know this look.  I have seen this look before and I can usually guess what comes next.  Their question is always the same “Why in the world would you want to go there?”.   My response is pretty standard “I had never been there before and it sounded interesting!”.

Let’s start with the big reasons visit…

  • There are 17 UNESCO sites within these three countries which is pretty amazing!   Even more incredible trying to put this in perspective all three countries total square miles combined is smaller than California yet there are only 23 UNESCO sites in all of the United States.  Apologies to my dedicated readers but this needs another shout out;  although not all UNESCO sites interest me however those that I do find interesting never disappoint me!  Bottom line:  You can see a lot of amazing places that are relatively close together!
  • Enjoying simple living and wholesome local food.  While our hotels were in urban areas we would drive through the countryside during the day filled with many farms.  It was commonplace to see a horse and buggy as a mode of transport between farms into the villages.
  • The language barrier is minimal as majority of locals speak English.  We visited a few open air markets where communication were a little challenging however with basic hand gestures we managed to sort it out.  We learned only the basic phrases that while our pronunciation may have been terrible most locals were touched that we had made the effort.
  • It is very inexpensive.  The exchange rate is extremely favorable to the US Dollar, Euro or British pound.  We had very nice 2 course dinners for $15-$30 for 2 adults not including alcohol.

Best thing I ate and drank in each country…

In Romania:  A lovely bean soup in a bread bowl and raspberry lemonade.     IMG_7694    IMG_7639

In Moldova: A cheese plăcintă which is similar to a pot pie or pasty and a glass of Negru du Pucari wine.

IMG_7717   IMG_7761

In Bulgaria:  A stuffed pepper with tomatoes, onions, beans, topped with feta and a perfect cappuccino.

IMG_7791    IMG_7900

While we visited so many places along the way I have summarized them with photos in a video for your viewing pleasure.  Grab some popcorn, sit back and watch the brief movie.

In order of appearance and all UNESCO sites denoted with *:






Seek your adventure!


I don’t do jet lag!

I just returned from an amazing trip to Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria this past weekend which reminded me to share my routine to avoid jet lag.   Anytime I am going to cross 4+ timezones I have a process to avoid jet lag that what works for me.  Keep in mind that everyone is different but this process could become your solution to avoiding jet lag.

When I was living in the UK I would get terrible jet lag from traveling back to the US or vice versa.  Over the years I have learned a few tricks along the way to eliminate the sleepy, dizzy and nauseous feeling so common place with jet lag.    I am not completely immune to jet lag.  There are rare instances when I fall victim to jet lag; for example when returning from Bali to Chicago which involved over 42 hours of travel crossing 14 timezones.

So here is my typical process for US to Europe transatlantic assuming an overnight flight.

24 hours before the flight

  • No caffeine at a minimum of 24 hours before the flight but ideally 36 – 48 hours prior to travel
  • Eat only healthy foods 24 hours before travel; absolutely no sugar, alcohol or heavy meals

Day of departure

  • Get up earlier than normal
  • Get some physical exercise: long walk, bike ride, yoga, etc
  • Keep yourself hydrated and increase amount of water consumed early in the day
  • Consider taking an aspirin an hour before departure; consult your doctor for advice based on your medical history
  • Eat small and light meals or snacks throughout the day.

IMG_7959During the flight

  • Stay hydrated during the flight and bring your own water bottle on the flight.  I never board an airplane without my own water bottle.
  • Wear compression socks
  • Try to keep moving.  It is becoming more difficult to get up and walk around on flights but at a minimum do some leg exercises in your seat just to keep your legs moving
  • Limit your alcohol ideally only 1 drink but definitely stop at 2 drinks
  • Continue to eat small and light meals
  • Bring your earplugs, eye mask, inflatable headrest, etc to attempt sleeping as much as possible on the flight
  • Consider taking some homeopathy pellets to help get your body back on track or even JetZone homeopathy chewable tablets

Upon arrival

  • Keep moving!  It is your first day perhaps in a new city so go for a walk.
  • Continue to eat small and light meals
  • Enjoy some caffeine to help get you through the day
  • Get your body adjusted to local time; stay awake as late as possible on your first day
  • Go swimming if your at a hotel that has a pool and utilize the jacuzzi to loose your muscles or consider taking a bath.

For the return journey from Europe to the US transatlantic I would suggest following the same steps with one very important difference.  On a day flight back to the US do not sleep on the flight except for a brief 20-30 nap.  Be sure to set an alarm to ensure you don’t nap for too long.

Do you have any routines to avoid jet lag that work for you?  Please respond with your comments or send me an email at

Seek your adventure!