Luggage Personality Quiz

What’s your luggage personality?

You can tell a lot about a person by looking at her luggage. Having spent a lot of time in airports, I’ve become an expert at luggage profiling.

Parents with small children carry a ton of extra gear when they travel. Backpackers stuff everything into one (ginormous) khaki pack. College kids have more technology in their pockets than you can find at an Apple Store. Business folk carry a laptop in one hand and a Starbucks cup in the other. And opera singers pack a bunch of “extra” ballgowns… bet you didn’t know that.

So how about you?  What’s your travel type? Take my quick quiz:

1. When they unzip your bag at customs, you blush because you know you packed too many…

a. handcrafted Aboriginal beads

b. diapers, LEGOs, Spongebob toys, remote control dinosaurs, doll clothes, pack-n-plays, pipe cleaners and hamster pellets

c. iPods

d. ballgowns

2. When you empty your pockets at security, you find:

a. a folded street map of Vladivostok

b. crumpled receipts, loose change, bubble gum wrappers, and one yellow sock

c. your wallet

d. something with rhinestones on it

3. When buying luggage, you ask:

a. “Does this have a compartment for my collection of collapsible hunting knives?”

b. “This suitcase isn’t big enough. Do you have a steamer trunk?”

c. “Do people still buy luggage?”

d. “Does it come in pink?”

4. When the airline attendant tries to check your carry-on because there’s not enough space in the overhead compartment, you reply:

a. “Can you check it all the way through to Abu Dhabi, or do I have to re-check it in Amsterdam?”

b.”It’s heavier than I am. You’ll never get it off this plane.”

c. “But it fits right under my seat!”

d. “Je m’excuse! Je n’ai pas compris, madame. Parlez-vous français?”

5. When the lady at the check-in counter tells you that your luggage is “overweight,” you reply:

a. “This one bag contains everything I need for the next 189 days.”

b.”Yeah, my suitcase always gains weight on vacation.”

c. “It only weighed 16 ounces at home. You must be leaning on the scale.”

d. “I’m carrying the full orchestral score of the greatest opera ever written. Can’t you make an exception? The world needs this music.”

 

ANSWER KEY:

If you chose mostly A’s, then you’re a SUPER NOMAD.  You can travel the world with a few handy items and the clothes on your back.  I would be just like you, except that I wouldn’t know where to put my extra ballgowns. But you should check out this post about how to pack for the Western Sahara.

If you chose mostly B’s, then you are a BLOATED FLOATER.  You have a lot of baggage, and I mean that literally. Are you traveling with young kids?  (If so, you’re doing great! Keep up the good work.)  Are you setting sail for the New World with all your worldly belongings?  (If so, you’re doing great! Keep up the good work.)  But if not, then you’ve got way too much stuff!  Before you park your U-Haul at the airport, think about what you really need.  Organize. Simplify.

If you chose mostly C’s, then you’re a CARRY-ON CAPTAIN.  You know how to fit everything into a compact space.  You breeze through security with no extra hassle, and you disembark a full thirty minutes before that poor family with the twin toddlers.  I envy you.

If you chose mostly D’s, then, congratulations! You are a true JET-SETTING DIVA.  You understand that luggage has to be both functional and fabulous. Your suitcase might be heavy, but at least it’s pink. You are a savvy traveler with a sense of dramatic flair. You should probably order this passport cover by Sicura.

Now that you know your luggage personality type, you’re ready to board. PanAm image courtesy of ScreenRant.

Traffic Jam in Kathmandu

I never thought I’d say this, but I actually miss Nepali traffic jams.

When I’m sitting motionless on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, I occasionally flash back to my experiences in Nepal.  And I think, “driving would be so much more exciting if I were back in Kathmandu!”

I never expected to travel to South Asia until my good friends at Hope Partnership Nepal started telling me thrilling stories about life in Kathmandu.  And then in 2009, I had an incredible opportunity to create the Kathmandu Music for Peace Festival, funded by Davis Projects for Peace and hosted by the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory. I felt so privileged to visit that beautiful country and meet such wonderful people. It was the experience of a lifetime.

But my first taxi ride in Kathmandu left me feeling a little shell-shocked! Suddenly, I was at the mercy of my taxi driver; I felt like I was trapped in a video game, with all kinds of vehicles whizzing past (and honking) as we careened around tight corners.  I winced whenever I saw five people hanging off the back of a bus, or a baby strapped onto the back of a motorcycle. I instinctively held my breath whenever I thought we were going to smash into a van, a building, or a cow.

Now, I first learned to drive in the concrete jungles of Los Angeles when I was 16 years old — and that was stressful enough! — but nothing could have prepared me for Nepali traffic.

And yet, at the end of my first week in Kathmandu, the traffic started to feel normal. In fact, I developed huge admiration for Nepali drivers! Driving is an art form, and they have mastered it.  We always got where we were going, and we never hit anyone else (well… we didn’t hit them very hard). Best of all, I never saw anyone get angry; there was no “road rage.”

Driving in Kathmandu can be terrifying, but it is never boring. So just occasionally, when I’m stuck on the freeway in L.A., staring at the same old license plate for ten minutes, I get a little nostalgic for scenes like this:

The Flying Medicine Cabinet

Because I’m a singer, I am often asked how to get rid of a cold.

My personal remedy is very simple: SLEEP!  9 times out of 10, I can fight off a cold virus by taking a nap.

But when sleep doesn’t work, I do have some favorite products.  And since I’m a frequent flyer, I travel with my own personal pharmacy.

Some singers hoard antibiotics.  This is generally a bad idea. Always consult a doctor before indulging in the meds that end in -cillin and -mycin!

But what do you do if you get a toothache on the day before an important audition in Germany? Two weeks ago, I was preparing an audition when the left part of my jaw started to ache. An impacted wisdom tooth had chosen this particular day to get infected.

So I did what anyone would do: I sent a panicked text message my dentist in Pasadena!   He texted me a prescription for Amoxicillin.  (Hooray for technology!) When I got to the local Apotheke (apothecary), I simply handed my iPhone to the pharmacist.  She squinted at the screen and asked me in German, “Is this from a real doctor?”  I was able to demonstrate my dentist’s credentials, so I got my meds. The next day, I went to my audition happy and pain-free.

Of course, it helps that I speak German. I do not speak Russian (except for phonetically, which doesn’t help in a medical emergency). When my father broke his foot in St. Petersburg in 2007, I couldn’t find the word for “ace bandage” in my pocket dictionary. So I went to the pharmacy and mimed wrapping my leg with strips of gauze. Judging by the Russian pharmacist’s reaction, it was a very entertaining performance. He was giggling uncontrollably as he went to find the bandage. But that’s another story for another blog post…

Back to business. Here is my list of favorite cold remedies:

1. Tantum Verde (one of my all-time favorites, which I discovered at a farmacia in Rome)

2. Grapefruit Seed extract (don’t ask me why it works. It’s probably a placebo. I don’t care.)

3. Sudafed (not as good as Actifed, but it will do)

4. The neti pot (if you can handle it)

5. Foods with garlic. (Seriously.)

6. SLEEP!!! and lots of tea

7. Afrin sinus

8. Zinc lozenges

If you know another product that works for you, please tell me about it in the comments section!  I’m actually very healthy, so I haven’t had a chance to sample many things! But I’m constantly asked about these products, so I like to be well informed.

Some singers also take beta blockers to deal with nerves.  I have never done this because I don’t like to play around with my biochemistry.  Avoid the powerful drugs, people!  They can affect your voice. They can affect your life. Just say no.

In the world of pharmacology, a little goes a long way. I will never forget how helpful it was to have Imodium when I landed in Kathmandu and discovered that I was allergic to yak’s milk (yaktose intolerant?).  Or the herbs that I drank when I had an unexplained fever in Tokyo. These were just simple over the counter remedies, but they made it possible for me to get onstage and sing all my concerts.

Here’s a link to a funny little video about opera singers and hypochondria. Stay healthy!

Florence for Beginners: Part II (Museums & Churches)

Want to enjoy some sacred sounds? Open this LINK in a separate tab and then come right back, so that you can listen to a little Rossini as you read…

#1. DUOMO (Cathedral) and BATTISTERO (baptistery does not open until 12 PM)

Now here is a cathedral with a huge amount of floor space! I would like to sing in there someday. I’ve performed in several Florentine churches, but alas, not yet in the Duomo.

The massive dome was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and it can be seen for miles around. But I’m more entranced by the exterior façade of sparkling polychrome marble panels in shades of green and pink bordered by white. It’s hard to describe just how cool it is, but when you see it for the first time, you may be tempted to spend all day just watching the Duomo’s façade change colors in the sunlight.

There is also a bell tower (Campanile) with a breathtaking view. I love it up there. But to access the tower, you have to be able to climb a lot of stairs while squeezed between other tourists. If that makes you queasy, stay below and take pictures.

The Bapistery’s golden doors have been grabbing headlines since 1401 when Lorenzo Ghiberti submitted them as his entry in a competition. (He won.)  Don’t you wish we still had competitions for “best bronze doors?” That might liven things up in downtown Fresno, for example.  Anyway, Ghiberti’s doors were so popular that he added another set of doors featuring imagery from the Old Testament. A younger Florentine artist called Michelangelo dubbed these the “Gates of Paradise” … and the name stuck.

Inside the Baptistery, you’ll find my favorite mosaic ceiling in the whole world. It’s hard to take your eyes off of the mesmerizing image of Christ.  But there are other surprising details to enjoy, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with their laps full of children (on the bottom panel beneath Christ’s right hand)!

#2. THE UFFIZI MUSEUM  is a must-see for any art-lover! I had a club membership to the Uffizi when I lived in Florence, so that I could focus on a different room every day. But if you don’t have several weeks to enjoy the Uffizi, you’ll want to order your tickets ahead of time. You will be assigned a specific time to see the museum; it’s better to request an early arrival (9:30 or 10 AM) to avoid the crowds. I have used this website: Weekend a Firenze.

There is an additional handling fee for this service, but it is more than worth the money. So many people freak out when they see the line of tourists standing outside the Uffizi; in their panic, they miss what could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the Birth of Venus and the Sacra Famiglia in person. There will be a throng of restless people who have been waiting outside the museum since dawn, but you can squeeze past them and use your confirmation number to pick up your pre-ordered tickets at the glass counter.

The gift shops are on the first floor and the museum is on the second floor. (There is a mezzanine floor with sketches, but most people skip it.) Most tourists take the stairs, but you can ask for the elevator. There are 45 rooms in the Uffizi, so be sure to take lots of breaks, and don’t worry about skipping some rooms if you’re tired. It’s impossible to memorize the entire museum in one day, and you’ll have a happier experience if you spend 20 minutes resting on the benches in the Botticelli room, trying to decide which of his paintings is more perfect, Primavera or The Madonna of the Magnificat?

The Uffizi Cafe has a great view of the Palazzo Vecchio and the Piazza della Signoria. The prices for coffee and cake are exhorbitant, but again, it’s worth the money. The museum is shaped like a U and tourists usually move in the same direction, so that the cafe is at the VERY END OF THE TRACK before you go back downstairs. Don’t wait until the end, especially if you are traveling with younger art lovers, because the kids will need sustenance! When you are getting drenched in Italian art, you need some fluffy cake to absorb all that genius. So after you have seen the first half of the museum (medieval stuff, Botticelli, Da Vinci, etc.), skip ahead to the cafe and take a break; then you’ll all be refreshed enough to enjoy the second half of the museum (Michelangelo, Rafael, Tintoretto, etc.)

#3. THE CHURCH OF SANTA CROCE

The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan church in Florence. You will find some amazing works of art there, both inside the church and in its adjoining cloisters.

You have to buy a ticket to get inside, but Santa Croce is still a true place of worship. It is also the burial place of some famous guys like Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and Rossini. I attended St James Episcopal when I lived in Florence, but whenever I went to mass at Santa Croce, I would always sit “next to Rossini” in church, by choosing the pew next to his memorial.

If you’re not so interested in all the art and you simply need a good place to pray, just whisper “per preghiere” to one of the guards at the side door and he will show you a peaceful side chapel with candles. You cannot access the rest of the church from here. But in the middle of all of Florence’s noise, this is one place where you can just be still for a minute.

#4. PALAZZO PITTI

The Pitti Palace is a vast mainly Renaissance palace in Florence, situated on the south side of the Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio. It is a treasure house as various generations amassed paintings, silver, porcelain, jewelery and other luxurious stuff.

This is a good place for families because you can split up into 3 groups: 1) museum group 2) group that sits in the sunshine, eating ice cream in front of the palace 3) group that wanders through the gardens.

Kids usually enjoy the Boboli Gardens (attached to the Palace with a separate ticket fee), because they can run around on the little garden trails and in the big amphitheater.  Adults like it because they can take photos that make all their friends jealous when they upload them to Facebook – there are some amazing backdrops here.

#5. THE ACCADEMIA

This is where you can find Michelangelo’s famous statue of  David. (You will see copies of him in other places in Florence, but he looks even better inside.) But David is not alone in there. Going to the Accademia gives you a chance to meet some of Michelangelo’s unfinished statues, which are also very powerful. Once again, you will want to buy your tickets ahead of time to avoid the long line!

6. MUSEO SAN MARCO

If you’re into late medieval scandals (and who isn’t?), this where Girlamo Savonarola (the Dominican mystic & political reformer) ran his monastery. Each monk’s cell features a different fresco by Fra Angelico.

Other favorite churches & museums (if you have time) include:

7. Medici Chapels
8. Medici Riccardi Palace
9. Palazzo Vecchio
10. Church of Santa Maria Novella
11. Chapel Brancacci – try to catch the film about 15th century Florence
12. Bargello National Museum
13. Museum of History and Science
14. Dante Museum

…and many, many more!

Florence for Beginners: Part I (parks & piazzas)

I lived in Florence for almost 2 years, I am often asked for tips.  And I thought it would be fun to share those with all of you. So here’s the first installment of Lindsay’s Guide to Florence.

I recommend that you open this LINK in a separate tab and then return immediately to this page, so that you can listen to Puccini while you read this post.

Piazza della Signoria  used to be the political center of medieval Florence, and it’s my favorite piazza in the whole city. It is especially beautiful early in the morning (when it’s quiet and bright) or late in the afternoon (when the sunlight makes shadows on the old Palazzo Vecchio.) There is a great fountain featuring a very cranky-looking statue of Neptune and some long-necked nymphs. The Uffizi is on the south side, towards the Arno River. The Piazza is dominated by the Loggia dei Lanzi, with a Gothic roof that covers 15 statues (including Perseus holding up the head of the Medusa, which is fun.) If it’s a hot day, you can climb up into the loggia and sit in the shade next to some beautiful statues, although there are strict policemen who will keep you from eating anything in there. (The Uffizi Café is on the roof of the Loggia but is only accessible from the museum). Theoretically, someone could toss down a piece of very expensive cake for you to eat inside the loggia, but it would probably be intercepted by one of the aforementioned policemen, so be good and don’t eat near the art.

Piazza della Repubblica was once the city’s forum, and then the city’s marketplace. Now, it’s a good place to find a post office or a bookstore! There’s a carousel in the center of the square, which is fun for kids. The Giubbe Rosse cafe has been a meeting place for famous artists and writers, and the square still has a bohemian feeling at night. There are often musicians busking in this piazza and aspiring artists making impressive chalk drawings on the ground.

Piazza Santa Croce is another lovely square facing the church of Santa Croce. Note the big statue of Dante outside the church, if it’s not still under scaffolding. I used to meet my friends next to the statue’s pedastal, just so that we could say, “Let’s meet at the foot of Dante.”  But this once backfired on me – when I arrived at Dante, the square was full of protesters.  Not the best meeting place, after all, if the Florentines happen to be on strike.

The Piazzale Michelangelo overlooks one of the most famous cityscapes in the world. Sometimes, brides and grooms will stop here to have their picture taken in front of the Florentine skyline. There is also a café nearby with good banana splits! But the walk up the hill is a steep one – try to find a bus unless you want some real exercise.

Piazza Santo Spirito was once an open-air theatre for the monks to preach, but it’s been used more recently for rock concerts and flea markets. It’s the “hip” part of the city, full of pubs and parties on a Saturday night. As I recall, part of the church dates back to the 14th Century. I used to sit on the steps of that church with my friends – we formed a group called the Zanzara Artists Network that is still making beautiful art today.

Piazza Santa Maria Novella is near the train station, just outside the Church of Santa Maria Novella. There are some lovely benches near a fountain. Beware of hungry pigeons.

PARKS & GARDENS

There is a lovely green park on the north side of the Arno, up by the Ponte San Niccolo. It’s very romantic. One sun-drenched Italian afternoon, a young man proposed marriage to me in that park. (I said no. Mostly because I’d only just met him. But parks can be very romantic.)

List of great gardens open to the public in and around Florence:

1. Boboli Garden (my favorite, great labyrinthine place behind the Palazzo Pitti with good views of the city)

2. Botanical Gardens
3. The Garden of Palazzo Medici Riccardi
4. Giardino dell’Orticultura
5. The Garden at Villa della Petraia
6. The Garden at Villa di Castello

SAFETY TIPS: While walking around Florence, be aware that street vendors and poll takers will approach you on the street and ask you for money/food/signatures, etc., in a variety of languages. Be friendly but firm, and don’t let them harass you. If you are in a crowded area, stop making eye contact and stare at people’s hands – the pickpockets will try to distract you, but it’s very hard for them to steal without using their hands! When crossing the street, listen for vespas (motorcycles) that are speeding around the city at record speeds – you will hear them before you see them. And if all that motorbike noise is irritating you, seek refuge in a restaurant or a park.

the Frozen Glockenspiel

an Austro-Bavarian tale of food, friends and figurines

Today, I caught up with my friend Mirva Lempiäinen, a very talented globe-trotting journalist. We met up for lunch in Munich, Germany.

As we pushed open the heavy door to the Augustinerbräu, we inhaled the unmistakable aroma of malted wheat. There were lanterns beneath the vaulted ceilings and deer antlers on the white-washed walls.  It’s a very traditional Bavarian beer hall, and the food is delicious, even if you don’t plan to imbibe.  Mirva and I sat down on a long wooden bench and munched on doughy pretzels; we hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years, so we traded our latest travel stories from Bucharest and Zürich, Havana and Kathmandu.

After lunch, I attempted to show Mirva the famous Rathaus-Glockenspiel.   We jogged towards Marienplatz to catch a glimpse of the clockwork statues doing the “Dance of the Coopers.” Unfortunately, I completely forgot that the Glockenspiel only comes to life at 11 AM and 12 PM.  So when we finally emerged from within a throng of German tourists at 1:04 PM, we saw… nothing much.  There were no chimes and the life-size figurines were frozen in time. But this is what it should have looked and sounded like:

 

The Glockenspiel is neither an amazing feat of technology nor the very height of culture, but – come on – it’s cute!

My whole trip to Munich was made possible by a wonderful little invention called the “Bayern-Ticket,” which enables me to travel anywhere in Bavaria (and certain parts of Austria) for just € 21.  It is valid on the train and it even allows me to use the public transportation in Munich while I’m there.  This is smart marketing because it encourages day trips!

In the evening, when I got back to my flat in Salzburg, I found a house-full of people there! I got to spend time with some good friends I hadn’t seen in years, and we chatted about opera while eating Gugelhupf by candlelight. I have to admit: it’s a wonderful life.

My Life in Passport Pictures

My parents must have known that I would become a world traveler: I was issued my first passport at the age of 4 weeks!

I was born in Hollywood, but my family moved to Scotland a few weeks later so that my Dad could earn his PhD at the University of Edinburgh. This photo tells a whole story: my Mom looks like a supermodel (she still does.) My sister Heather is obviously not thrilled about the whole passport picture experience. But I appear to be sleeping through it.  In fact, I’m told that I slept through the entire transatlantic flight!  Perhaps this explains why I am still able to sleep on planes: early conditioning.

But I almost didn’t survive that first flight to London Heathrow.  My mother tells this story:

As we boarded the plane, I followed after Heather, clutching a purse, a diaper bag, an overstuffed carry-on case and wearing a backpack designed to carry a toddler.  At barely two months of age, Lindsay was only a sleeping bump in the bottom of the backpack but as I edged down the aisle, one of the shoulder straps broke! The pack began to sway gently from side to side behind me.  Unable to even turn around, I went white and yelped!  An attendant quickly figured out the problem and helped me re-fasten the strap while I started babbling that we were moving to Scotland for three years and, and, and…. “I didn’t think you were going for three weeks, Luv,” he said with a wry smile as he helped me limp to my seat with the baby and the luggage.  We were seated next to an elderly lady in a black chador who seemed terrified, gripping a row of beads, rocking back and forth and softly chanting prayers throughout the take-off.  That was our first flight to Europe.

It’s quite fortunate that I didn’t get dropped on my head before I’d even had a chance to travel the world. But my real passport drama occurred in Rome, twenty years after that first international flight.  I was in Italy for the very first time, and as a naîve young music student, I managed to get my passport stolen before I had even laid eyes on the Colosseum!  So I spent my first day in Rome at the American Embassy on the Via Veneto.  I ducked into an automatic photo booth to get this photo for my temporary replacement passport.  After the blinding flash, I staggered out and handed the picture to the Italian man behind the desk. He glanced at the photo, did a theatrical double-take, kissed his fingertips and exclaimed, “Ma che bella!  È venuta bene, la foto, no?”  I smiled and blushed. It was a very Italian moment.

My “Roman” passport served me well. I got it extended at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna and filled it up with stamps (and student visas) from Austria, Italy, Spain, Japan, Russia and a host of other countries. But then before I went to Nepal and Thailand in 2009, I decided it was finally time for a new passport.

Just a couple of days ago, I discovered that my friend Mirva Lempiäinen (a world-traveling journalist who writes a fabulous travel blog for Finnair) is in the possession of a pink passport cover that reads “JET SETTING DIVA.”  Seriously.  Yeah, I gotta get one of those.  Happy travels, everyone!

Salzburg’s Brand of Magic

Salzburg is a magical place.

I could feel it even before my plane landed at Mozart Airport on Tuesday night. As soon as we entered Austrian airspace, my pulse got faster.  Like a little girl, I pressed my nose to the window to gaze at the twinkling lights of the Old City. I can’t help myself: I love this town.

When we landed, I grabbed my bags and ran outside to take a breath of cold Alpine air, which felt refreshing after last week’s heat wave in Los Angeles. I got in a cab and joked with the taxi driver in Austrian German. I couldn’t wait to get to the flat that I share with a friend here.

I had been away from Salzburg for four months but it felt like I had never left. When I finally arrived, I pulled my suitcases up the old marble stairs and saw my friends’ smiling faces framed in the doorway. It was a beautiful feeling. This is truly my second home.

This week, I have enjoyed readjusting to my bohemian Salzburg lifestyle.  My circle of friends here includes an extraordinary number of amazing musicians. As one might expect, we spend a lot of our time singing and dancing.  I stay up late into the night — singing and talking and laughing with my friends — and then I sleep until noon.  It’s really a perfect schedule for an artist with jet lag.

Living in Salzburg is a bit like living on the set of The Sound of Music. However, contrary to popular belief, the hills are not alive. They are freezing, like the rest of us, in the frosty autumn weather. But even so, this city is absolutely saturated with MUSIC! And I have some exciting musical plans for this fall.  So let the magic begin.

The Hanging Jewelry Box

My favorite jewelry box is a miniature mahogany wardrobe that I picked up at a street market in Bangkok. The bejeweled doors and secret compartments make me feel like a Thai princess whenever I touch it. The wood shrinks and swells, and I have to open the drawers ever so slowly, so as not to disturb the tiny jade tiger who sits on the top of the box with his teeth bared. I carried this treasure across the Pacific in my lap, but it is far too fragile to come with me every time I board a plane.

 

When I travel, I use a hanging jewelry organizer instead. It is simple and functional and I got it on Amazon for just $7.42!

Hanging Jewelry Organizer

Obviously, this is not appropriate for your most delicate jewelry.  That diamond necklace will need its own cushioned box!

But a hanging organizer is perfect for the traveling diva on a budget, who needs to  pack her cache of costume jewels without adding too much bulk to her luggage.

My own “hanging jewelry box” has 37 zippered compartments.  Never get an organizer without zippers – even sparkly objects tend to shift during flight!

Getting Launched

When I was 20 years old, I ran off to Europe to become an opera singer.  It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Actually, it was a brilliant idea. I have never regretted that decision – that deliciously risky decision – to cross an ocean and follow a dream. Singing had become a physical need for me; I was literally hungry to sing.  I wasn’t sure if I had what it takes to be an opera star, but I just had to try.  And several years later, when I graduated from the Mozarteum in Salzburg with my master’s degree in opera performance, I was ready to conquer the world!

Of course, I had no idea how hard it would be.  Living out of a suitcase, auditioning for every new role, negotiating contracts, dealing with backstage politics, learning a ton of new music, trying to grow as an artist, and taking a LOT of day jobs to pay the bills… it can be a crazy lifestyle.

But it is also a beautiful way to live. I get to spend time in glamorous locations, singing gorgeous music with amazing people. What could be better than getting paid to sing your heart out?  And life is never boring when you are dipping in and out of various languages and cultures. So I want to share some of that joy with all of you, and include you in my daily craziness!

This week, I am singing the role of Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore with Repertory Opera Company in Pomona, CA, while packing my bags for autumn in Austria. You see, I am now based in both Salzburg and Los Angeles, and this year, I have divided my time pretty evenly between the two places.

Salzburg and L.A. are my “home base(s)” while I travel around, performing and auditioning in other cities.  This means that I am a walking dictionary of travel information! Or perhaps a singing dictionary. Anyway, I will entertain you with the latest news about planes, trains, restaurants, museums, attractions and concerts — so that if you’re planning a trip to one of my destinations, you’ll find all kinds of useful details right here on my blog.

This fall, I have some fun travel plans and some exciting musical projects. But as any experienced traveler (or performer) knows, there may be some unanticipated hijinks. In fact, that’s all part of the fun! I’m sure that this blog will include plenty of hilarious adventures and misadventures as I sing my way around the world.

So sit back and enjoy the ride!