Archive for the ‘Vacation’ Category

Beached in Barbados

Posted: February 16, 2016 in Travel, Vacation

With the nest now (at least intermittently) empty, Shawn and John took the opportunity for some adult vacationing at Sandals Barbados in early February. Traveling with pals Terry and Brian was awesome. We had plenty of fun both together and apart!

Activities included the gym, aqua-size, scuba diving, swimming, and, of course, eating and drinking. Sandals had some of the best resort food we’d ever had and we made sure to sample it all! Even the sushi!

We enjoyed the warm air, friendly people and pleasant company!  Can we go back now?


Posted: August 3, 2015 in Family, Home, Lakeside, Vacation

On July 31, we closed on our new place that we’re referring to as “Intorcio’s Lakeside.” For now a vacation home, we plan on this being our retirement home once things cool down with jobs and family.

The house has a nice lakefront on little Opechee Bay between the big lakes of Winnipesaukee and Winisquam in Laconia, NH. With 4.4 acres of our own and 30 acres of conservation land next door, there’s plenty of forests and fields to make us feel like we’re in the country while still being convenient to Laconia’s restaurants, hospital, shopping, etc. A perfect mix!

We spent the first weekend cleaning the place up but there’s a LOT of work left to do to make it ours. We plan to paint, replace some floors, trim some trees, add furniture, etc. before it’s ready to show off.  A grand opening bash in the summer of 2016 is planned and we hope for many fun times to follow!

Cruising Baltic Style

Posted: July 29, 2015 in Family, Travel, Vacation

We gave Jake several options for a trip to celebrate his graduation. When he chose a Baltic adventure, we were all thrilled!

After our good friend Bob drove us to the airport on Friday afternoon, we were off to Stockholm via Iceland. Our evening flight over Greenland was beautiful and we were hypnotized watching the ice flows. Landing on Iceland’s volcanic tundra, in daylight, just before midnight was surreal. Taking off, still with natural light, was just as impressive.

We rolled into our hotel in Stockholm Saturday morning to find our rooms available and showers very enjoyable. From there we explored the old city, took the ferry to Djurgården to see the amazing Vasa Museum, and enjoyed a historical canal tour by boat before finding a traditional Swedish restaurant near our hotel and sampling herring, reindeer, elderflower schnaps, and more.

On Sunday, we enjoyed the Hotel Reisen‘s vast buffet before a final stroll and a taxi to the cruise port where we’d meet the Serenade of the Seas. We’d actually sailed on the same ship back in 2006 so it wasn’t completely unfamiliar. We found our upgraded balcony cabins and settled into life at sea!

Monday was our first stop – in Helsinki, Finland. We rode a shuttle bus into the city and enjoyed our explorations. We strolled the Esplanadi and enjoyed its open air performers, crossed the Senate Square and climbed the stairs at the Helsinki Cathedral, strolled the waterfront and viewed the magnificent Uspenski Cathedral, and shopped the open air market before lunching at the Kappeli Cafe back on the Esplanadi, shopping a bit more, and returning to the ship.

Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted to the centerpiece of the cruise, St. Petersburg, Russia. We met up with our local guide, Kseniya, and our driver, Anatoly, who would spend the next two days showing us their home city. Anatoly’s English vocabulary consisted of “Vodka” and a few choice phrases, but Kseniya spoke fluent English and taught us all about the Russian Czars, the history of the city, and even told stories of her parents and grandparents. They were a great team.

We toured the city including the Rostral Columns, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and the Saviour of the Spilled Blood Cathedral, before driving to Peterhof, snacking on Russian calzones, and returning by hydrofoil to tour The Hermitage. Though we had plans for dinner in the city, the day was too much and we returned to our ship for a little rest.

Rested and ready, we started the next mornign at St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral and then took a tour of the incredible Metro System. We emerged to tour a farmer’s market before snacking on meat and fish pies and driving to the amazing Catherine Palace. We finished up at The Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral before, exhausted, returning to our ship.  Just wow.

Our next stop was the medieval city of Tallinn, Estonia. After a brief walk from the pier, we were immersed into the high walls and cobblestone streets of the old city. We strolled the market squares, St. Nicholas’ Church, and the 12th century St. Olaf’s before stopping at an outdoor cafe for local treats including wild boar stew. Though crowded with the cruise boat passengers, we loved the charm of this small ancient town.

Our final port was Riga, Latvia. Docked at the cargo port, we took a shuttle through stacks of wood and coal to reach the city where we rented some bicycles to tour the local monuments. We rode around the city and then found a midtown cafe for lunch (including Sea Red Mullet and Mussels in green curry for John!) and people watching. We finished with a stroll around the old city and a visit to the local churches including the Riga Cathderal, the magnificent St. Peter’s, and the awesome ceilings of St. John’s.

Want to see more?  Here’s a ten minute video that gives a taste of what we saw!

If you still haven’t had enough, even more photos can be seen here.

Summer Tour 2014

Posted: July 27, 2014 in Family, School, Vacation

With Jake having been home less than 12 hours from the Spanish Exchange, we left home for our combination college tour and beach vacation under cloudy skies and drove through a mix of clouds, sun, and downpours. Our first stop was at the University of Delaware for a quick walk around the gorgeous campus.

We continued on to Fairfax, VA where we enjoyed a great meal at the Auld Shebeen, spent the night, and toured George Mason the following morning.

With half the college touring done, it was time for fun! We aimed the family wagon south and Headed for Emerald Isle, NC where Shawn’s brother’s wife’s family owns two lovely homes! We were treated like royalty throughout our stay! We were granted the penthouse suite, served homemade ice cream, fantastic barbeque, and more food and drink than we needed!

The real attraction, of course, was the beach, where we played and played! The 82° water made our pool at home feel cold!

Scott’s wife Susan was joined by her sister Gena and her son Nate and even 89 year-old Mrs. Burroughs was on the beach for the fun!

Cousin Pete was a great sport! He gave kayaking and surfing lessons and really kept the guys busy!

Scott and John chose a generally more relaxing approach to the beach – although John did give kayaking a try – much to the amusement of those on the beach!

Dinner out on our last night was a fun family night out – we sure wish we could see these folks more often!

Heading back north, we cruised into Times Square on Saturday night just in time for a nice dinner a Osteria al Doge and a great performance of Phantom. Our hotel was in the middle of it all making everything a quick walk – well, except for getting through the thick summer crowds!

Sunday morning it was a drive-by at John Jay and then a walking tour at Rutgers-Newark – both really cool places!

We arrived home tanned but tired with a pile of pictures and some great memories!

Kennebunkport 2013

Posted: September 30, 2013 in Anniversary, Vacation

Shawn and John celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary with a trip back to the Captain Jefferds Inn in Kennebunkport – the same place they had stayed last year. They were once again warmly welcomed and felt cozy and comfortable in their “Hideaway” room.

We drove up on Friday night after a soccer game, checked into the Inn, and walked off into town for a casual dinner and some great beer at Federal Jack’s. – our favorite bar since it was founded on the day of our marriage.

Unlike last year, the weather this time was perfect!  Warm and sunny was the order of the day on Saturday and we made the best of it with a long stroll on Goose Rocks Beach.

Then it was back to the Inn to borrow some bicycles. We took a leisurely ride down Gooch’s Beach and then found ourselves at Pedro’s for lunch. Just around the corner from the cruise ship-swollen throngs on Main Street, Pedro’s provided a relaxing patio lunch with friendly staff and great Mexican food.

We finished our bike ride at the mouth of the Kennebunk River on Arundel Beach watching the fishing boats returning to port and the kayakers and sailors playing in the afternoon sun.

A little time watching the Boston College football game at Alison’s Restaurant was followed by an incredible dinner at On The Marsh Bistro and a nightcap back at Federal Jack’s.

The Sunday morning fog was just burning off as we finished another three course breakfast at the Inn and started for home and reality.  We love the Kennebunkport area and know this won’t be our last visit! (More pictures here.)

In early August, Joshua returned from North Woods camp and the family was reassembled… So we packed up and flew off for a Mediterranean adventure!

Our Thursday night departing flight was delayed by almost three hours but we were able to adjust connections in Munich and still managed to land in Venice only a couple of hours late on Friday afternoon. We took a water taxi to the Hotel Olympia and still had time to shower up, do a little exploring, and find a leisurely cafe for dinner.

Saturday morning was a leisurely breakfast at the hotel buffet before we were off to meet the nearby Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas.  We boarded quickly and without incident and were poolside with an umbrella drink before noon! We’d sail out of Venice just as the afternoon sun began to sink with marvelous views of the island’s southern coast, as well as Giudecca and San Georgio.

Sunday morning we sailed into the port of Dubrovnik, Croatia, past a bridge that reminded us a bit of Boston’s Zakim Bridge.

Not previously on our vacation radar, we found the city beautiful and the people friendly. Though it was hot and crowded, we thoroughly enjoyed walking the ancient city’s walls and exploring the streets and back alleys.

This is Jake on the “Balancing Step” at the front of the Franciscan Monastery.

On Monday we were ar the Greek island of Corfu where we’d enjoy a day trip on The Nautilus. Our captain, Iakis, took us on a wonderful tour of the northeast portion of Corfu allowing us to swim and relax away from the cruise ship’s crowds. Sharing the boat with just one other friendly family, we gawked at the landscape, swam in the clear waters, and enjoyed Iakis’ lunchtime barbecue. Beautiful and relaxing! Well, at least until we were pulling into port just moments before our ship was due to sail. Nothing like boarding just as they’re announcing your names as missing passengers!!!

Iakis was an incredible host. He pointed out the sights, shared the history, shared ouzo and his fathers wine, provided bread and tzatziki sauce, cooked saganaki, chicken, and fish, and took us to all the places we wanted to see!

Tuesday was Athens. We’d arranged a taxi tour to get us around the city as we knew there was a lot to see! Our driver, Dimitrios, was outstanding. He was a non-stop fountain of knowledge! He advised on itinerary, introduced us to all of the sites, pointed out all of the buildings of note, suggested an authentic cafe for our lunch, took pictures, and was generally wonderful to us! We saw everything we could handle!

This is the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

In the Agora, there’s a fantastic museum at the Stoa of Attalos. We loved the artifacts on display here!

Throughout Athens, we were serenaded by the many cicadas!

We really enjoyed watching the changing of the presidential guard, The Evzones, at the Tomb of the unknown soldier.

Next we were up to the Acropolis itself with a stop on Mars Hill where the Apostle Paul preached to the Athenians.

Wednesday, we were at Mykonos. Everything here is white, Heck, they even paint the sidewalks and streets! Most trim is a blue – a few in other colors. All of this gives the island a glow that requires constant use of sunglasses! We strolled the streets, dodged the vehicles, shopped the shops, saw the windmills, and enjoyed a nice Greek lunch at Katarina’s.

On Thursday, we docked at Argostoli on Kefalonia. With afternoon temperatures reaching 103°,  we were glad that we’d arranged an air-conditioned bus tour of the island that took us to the Saint Andreas Monastery (where we could see the Apostle Andrew’s right foot!) and the Cave of the Nymphs at Lake Mellisani. Along the way, we enjoyed many sights, including the fabulous Myrtos Beach.

Friday was a day at sea as we worked our way back up the coast. That meant a leisurely day by the pool with music and whacky pool games, and sun to spare. Saturday we arrived back in Venice with just enough time for a quick final shopping run before heading back to the airport for the long trip home!

Overall, we had a blast! It was great being back together as a family and the adventure was non-stop. There are many more pictures for the curious!

Alabama Homecoming

Posted: September 24, 2012 in Family, Travel, Vacation

John made a pilgrimage to Alabama in September. He flew to Mobile where he’d be greeted by his cousin Jim at the airport. They’d share a great lunch at The Hungry Owl before John drove north to meet up with more cousins in Laurel, MS. It took some of them a moment to figure out who was who again but it was quickly clear that they all shared the family bond!

Dinner out at The Loft gave them the chance to share some stories and catch up. It was awesome.

The next morning they drove to Isney, AL, a wide spot in the road just over the state border, where the McCoy sisters had grown up.

They were gathered for the interment of two of John’s Aunts, Ruth and Carrie. They met at the Isney Baptist Church and Cemetery for the “Homecoming” event.

The Isney Cemetery is dotted by names that occur frequently on the maternal side of John’s family tree: McCoy, Beard, Mason, Knight, McKelvaine…

Holes were dug, urns were presented, stones were placed, and many kind words were said. It was a bittersweet event filled with happy memories of departed relatives.

This much of their family being together doesn’t happen so often. They’re spread from Boston to California and from Pennsylvania to Alabama and it just all have busy lives. But when it does happen, it’s great.

The five McCoy sisters had a total of thirteen children. Eleven of them are pictured above. From left to right are Dale Jansen, Larry Jansen, Bob Sadler (Ruth’s widower), Eric Jansen, Kim Sadler, Tass Jansen, Mary Jo Giuli, Gary Jansen, Rob Sadler, John Intorcio, Johnny Giuli, and Jim Taylor. Missing are only Michael Giuli, deceased, and Coco Giuli, who couldn’t make the trip.

After some tearful goodbyes at the cemetery, a few of them drove just a bit further east to the former location of the McCoy farm at the corner of Choctaw County Rd. 45 and Toomey Lane.

The house is gone, the land overgrown, and the farm forgotten. But they were able to find the “cooler” by the stream and the remains of the fireplace – the remainder is long gone.

After a nice Barbeque dinner with the Sadlers, John left Saturday morning for a drive through Lucedale and back into Mobile where he played tourist and watched some football.

Sunday included a trip to Dauphin Island before John returned home.

Despite the sobering purpose of the trip, it was a great time seeing family and exploring Alabama. Many more photos are here. Rest well Ruth and Carrie!

Grand College Tour 2012

Posted: August 28, 2012 in Family, School, Vacation

The boys did some great things this summer. Jake attended soccer camps both with John Smith Camps at Merrimack College and with Soccer Plus at Northfield-Mt. Hermon School. Josh participated in a six-week architecture program for high school Juniors at the Syracuse University Summer College and then spent a week as a volunteer at North Woods Camp.

But… What really capped off the summer was the “Grand College Tour of 2012” – 11 states, 10 colleges, 2500+ miles, and one Waffle House. Along the way, we threw in some fun too!

It all started in New York City. We left on Saturday morning, found our hotel, kicked around the city a bit, and then took the train to Yankee Stadium. We’d all been to the OLD stadium during its last season so it was fun to check out the NEW one. We were even treated to a flyover by the USAF Thunderbirds.

Since the Red Sox won, we think this may have been a plot to confuse Boston fans…

We also had a chance to check out the 9/11 memorial! We’d seen it from the outside before but this time we planned ahead and got passes to go inside.

The “college” part of GCT2012 got underway with a “drive by” at Cooper Union. No campus here, just a cool building or two. This is a pretty elite school and would be a stretch for Josh, but it was fun to check it out.

We got back to earth with a tour of the campus at Pratt Institute. A true campus within the city of New York was pretty cool. We enjoyed all of the art around the campus.

Next we were off to Philadelphia. We stayed in a great hotel right next to Independence Hall so we got to play tourists a bit on our arrival and later quenched our thirsts at Rotten Ralph’s.

In the evening, we celebrated Shawn’s birthday with a meal at Buddakan. Awesome asian food here in an upscale setting!

Next we visited Drexel University and had a nice chat with one of the Professors there about their unique program. Josh liked the urban setting and the proximity to the city.

Then we were off to Penn State. We toured the campus and had dinner at the Corner Room in the great town of State College followed by ice cream at the Berkey Creamery. We talked with the Architecture department and toured the studios. Josh was more impressed here than he expected!

The University of Virginia was next.  We strolled Charlottesville’s pedestrian areas, checked out the South Street Brewery, and enjoyed a nice dinner at the Blue Light Grill while being serenaded by the Mennonites.

We took the standard UVa campus tour and enjoyed the history and tradition. After that, we tried to sneak into the architecture building and happened upon the Dean of Architecture who set us up with a great tour of the facilities and information on the school. Josh was less impressed than he thought he’d be here.

Virginia Tech was added on the fly based on some feedback from other schools. We checked in at the visitor’s center and then took a self-guided tour of the camps and wandered our way through the architecture building.  Josh liked the campus a lot.

Next we arrived in Charlotte which was a much cooler city than we anticipated. We toured the downtown area and the “Music Factory” (including some great beers at VBGB) and were really pretty impressed. We even found a pizza parlor where we celebrated Jake’s 16th birthday with a ride on Muffin!! Later, we discovered TACOMAC and its great beer selection!

We found the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to be pretty impressive with it’s expansive recent construction. Clearly a growing school!  It’s large commuter population was a bit of a turn off though.

We checked in at North Carolina State next and found our way around the big campus. Some neat stuff going on in the architecture department here!

The Southern terminus of our trip was Clemson University in South Carolina. A great campus and a beautiful new architecture building but both mom and dad were happy to hear Josh say this seemed too far from home. We dined at the Pot Belly Deli before starting our drive back north.

We stopped for dinner in historic Fredericksburg and happened upon the Capital Ale House for a nice dinner before wearily pulling into Baltimore.

The next morning, it was back South a bit to the The University of Maryland. John and Josh managed to sneak into the locked and deserted architecture building for a bit of a tour and watched the traffic snarl as the freshmen moved into the dorms. Another campus that Josh seemed to really like.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the city of Baltimore. A nice lunch at Tír na nÓg, overlooking the harbor, was followed by a nap for the boys and a couple beers for mom and dad before heading to see Cirque du Soleil perform. Josh stopped for an iced mocha after that and that was followed by a traditional crab dinner at Captain James Crabhouse – a fun experience but we all agreed that lobsters are superior!!

Finally, on our way home the next morning, we made the ultimate stop… The Waffle House. We found the omelets quite fluffy and the waffles much to our liking!

That was our trip! We learned a lot along the way – about being a family in a car together for nine days, about college towns, about campuses, and about what Josh might and might not like about these schools.  And all the way, Jake was a good sport and maybe got some ideas of his own. For now, we’re happy to be staying home for Labor Day weekend.

Spring Break Punta Cana

Posted: April 24, 2012 in Travel, Vacation

Once the boys were signed up to participate in their spring school trip to Italy, the next question became, what should Shawn and John do? Of course! Punta Cana!!!

So… Off they went for a week in the sun at the Riu Palace Bavaro. A new hotel just opened this past December, the place was much to their liking.

Their room had a view across the pool to the ocean – even from the shower!

Bavaro is on the Atlantic (north) side of Hispanola and, as such, is exposed to wind and sea. The first couple of days were a bit rough at the beach but all smooth at the pool. Particularly at the swim-up bar.

The pool was the center of focus most days. Lots of sipping and dipping, many books read and people watched!

John did some scuba diving – both in the Atlantic off the beach and then, on an “excursion” day while Shawn sipped champagne on the beach, on the Caribbean side of the island from the resorts at Bayahibe.

All in all, it was a decadent and relaxing week!  What fun!

Land of the Tiger

Posted: December 11, 2011 in Vacation, Work

In December, John made a business trip to Bangalore India to visit a customer there.

Departing on a Saturday night, the first stop was Sunday morning at London’s Heathrow Airport. John was here just long enough to catch a nap and a pint.

From there, it was on to the city of Bangalore and the Blue Petal hotel.

After a nap and a trip to the local mall to do a little Christmas shopping, we had the first of many Indian meals and settled into a routine of working with the folks back in the USA as their day began in our evening.

Work occupied the next days. We did have an exciting trip to a cell tower…

Of course, every trip in Bangalore is exciting because of the notorious traffic. It’s not just the cars, it’s the plethora of motorbikes, auto-rickshaws, trucks, buses, and even cows that make the roads really exciting! Here’s John’s video excuse for being late for an evening conference call – pretty typical in Bangalore.

There is an amazing range of culture here – from the poorest to the richest. We tried to see the full spectrum!

On our last night in Bangalore, our hosts treated us to an outstanding dinner at the absolutely gorgeous ITC Windsor Hotel. The building had served as a British government headquarters until India’s independence in 1947. Today, it’s a magnificent hotel with restaurants including the Royal Afghan where we dined in luxury by the pool. What a treat!

It was up early the next morning for the marathon trip home. Up at 3:30 AM for a 4:30 departure from the hotel, a 7:50 AM 11 hour flight from Bangalore, a quick beer at Heathrow, and another 7-1/2 hour flight before arriving in Boston, 26 hours after waking, at 7:15 PM.  Talk about a long day!

It was an exciting trip but it’s good to be home.  Give me Massachusetts any day!