Sounds good on Paper – top ten


I’m changing the name of my blog to “Sounds Good on Paper.”

The reason…because all travel sounds good on paper, at least to me.     We’ve done so many things that sounded so good on paper.  It’s funny how the fantasy of travel can be so different than the reality. Not that it’s worse than planned, but almost always different.

Here are some travel related things we’ve done that sounded so good on paper and turned out so differently than planned.


1. Live in Italy for a year on a tourist visa.

On paper – We’ll move to Italy with eight pieces of luggage, a tandem and tourist visas.  We’ll hop over the border every three months to renew our visa.

Reality – Turns out after three months you have to leave Western Europe all together for the next three months. We ended up moving to Malta. I had never even heard of Malta before moving there.

Malta - not too shabby

2. Take a tandem bicycle to Europe.

On paper – We’ll take romantic rides all over Italy, have picnics.

Reality – Tandems are long and don’t fit in most rental cars and no taxi’s. Winter in Italy is not a good time to ride a bike.  Malta and Sevilla are not good places to ride tandems.  It took us eight months and a move to northern Spain before we ever went for a bike ride.

3. Take malaria medicine for 6 months while traveling SE Asia.

On  paper –  The chance of going crazy from the malaria medicine is small.   Besides, if either of us goes crazy we’ll see warning signs and stop taking the medicine.

Reality – I pretty much went crazy overnight. Poor Jeff had to deal with Thailand, Malaysia and a crazy wife who couldn’t function for over a month.

4. Visit a monkey forest in Bali

On paper – We’ll see amazing temples and baboons in a sacred forest.

Reality – I got in a fight with a baboon, Jeff took the monkey’s side. I’m still mad about it.


5.  Learn Thai language in Bangkok

On Paper – We would take a week long intensive language course.  We’d learn the language for a richer, local experience.

Reality – I had a panic attack on the taxi ride to class, and it went downhill from there. Turns out Thai is really hard.


6. Travel through southern India in April

On paper – Off season is the best time to visit India. Sure it’s hot, but we’re from Chicago. We can handle hot and humid.

Reality – No we can’t.  India is a special kind of hot, only a few degrees cooler than hell.


7. Take Jeff’s racing bike to Argentina

On paper – Jeff will ride through idyllic mountain roads with malbec vineyards and gauchos.

Reality – The bike suitcase is too big to fit in taxi’s and buses .  The idyllic roads are too dangerous. He’s told he will get mugged and the bike stolen if he rides on those roads.

8. Live in Argentina, travel throughout South America

On paper – We’ll rent a cheap apartment in Argentina.  On weekends we’ll fly to all the other countries.  It will be so cheap it will almost be free.

Reality – Airfare is expensive.  South America is big.   Buses are cheap, but 50 hours on a bus on way? I’m too old for that.  We’ll see those other countries on some other trip.

9. Ride an elephant in Thailand

On paper – We’ll sit in a little chair on an elephant and ride through through the forest, cross a river, laugh our heads off

Reality – No chair on elephant, Jeff told to stand on elephant’s neck, elephant doesn’t like Americans standing on its neck, begged to get off elephant after five minutes. Scared to death.

10. Camp on beach in Baja, Mexico.

On paper -We’ll camp on deserted sandy beach, no one in sight, just us and the sea.

Reality –  Spent first night with locals driving up and down beach in a pickup truck yelling at us.  Following nights spent looking for biggest, best lit, most Canadian RV to camp next to.

Categories: travel blah blah blah | 13 Comments

Chicago ethnic food – Italian and Polish

One of the things I love about Chicago is that there are a lot of ethnic neighborhoods.   My sister Jenny and I decided to visit an Italian and Polish neighborhood in celebration of our heritage.

Italian and Polish immigrants play an important part of the history of Chicago, but they’ve also played an important part in our family.    My  great grandparents on my dad’s side came over from Italy. My great grandparents on my mom’s side came from Poland.    After a visit with my two grandmas, My sister and I decided we should celebrate our  Italian and Polish roots with sausage.

Jeff, Jenny, Italian Grandma Betty, Polish Grandma Evelyn

We started in on Taylor street in  Little Italy, a neighborhood that had once been the biggest Italian neighborhoods in Chicago, and also where our grandmother grew up.

We had lunch at Rosebud, one of Chicago’s most famous and oldest Italian restaurants.

The Italian sausage was super good and tasted pretty close to what our grandmother used to make us.

I love Italian sausage.

So does Jenny.

The dish of parmesan cheese didn’t stand a chance against a parm lover like me.

I once ate a pound of parm in one sitting.

Then it was time for espresso at an Italian coffee shop.   Starbucks is good, but espresso at a coffee shop in Chicago’s Little Italy is divine.

We also checked out some Italian grocery shops in the neighborhood.

My new favorite dessert topping perhaps?

Then it was off to a Polish neighborhood.  My other grandmother grew up in a Polish neighborhood on the South side of Chicago.  This neighborhood is no longer Polish.   My grandparents raised my mom, aunt and uncle in a different Polish neighborhood on the south side of Chicago.  But, traffic was bad and Chicago is big.  I didn’t want to make my sister drive all the way to the south side, so instead we checked out the Polish neighborhood on Milwaukee Ave.

I'm pretty sure Pope John Paul II was not affiliated with this store.

The advertisements of the meat in the side window was a bit off putting.

But, once inside we checked out every kind of sausage.    It seemed like all the food came directly from Poland. Everything was in Polish, even the bottled water and Barbie cake mix.

how do you say Barbie in Polish?


row of horseradish


I had no idea how many kinds of Polish sausage there are.

Unfortunately, the weather outside was freezing, so we had to eat our pierogies and Polish sausage in the car.  The sausage was great. The pierogies were good, but my grandma makes better ones.

It's hard to photograph oneself eating a Polish sausage in a car without looking super weird.

By the end of the day we really didn’t know anything more about our heritage from our sausage quests.   But, both sets of grandparents have taught us a lot about our heritage throughout the years. So, really this was just an excuse to hang out together.

Jenny: Do you know more about our heritage now? Sheryl: No, but who cares.



Categories: Chicago, USA | 6 Comments

Chicago food, no not pizza – Indian

It’s been ten years since we’ve been to India and six months since we’ve had Indian food.   So, on our second night back in the US, it wasn’t pizza or hot dogs that we craved.  It was Indian food.

Jeff has been sick with bronchitis for the last two weeks.  He’s been lying low so we haven’t ventured into downtown Chicago yet.  But, I was able to drag my sick husband over to Devon Avenue for what is as close as I think you can get to India in Chicago.  Devon Avenue is a long mutli block corridor of Indian restaurants, sari shops, Indian video stores and grocery stores.

First we ate some of the most amazing Indian food we’ve had in a long long time.

After dinner, I walked up and down the street, peeking into sari stores and peeking into all kinds of cool shops.

sari shops

grocery stores

cool stuff

who knew you could get goat in Chicago

this place hold how many people? 700? Now that's a banquet!

Poor Jeff had to wait in the car with the heat on, but I didn’t let a little thing like a husband with a lung infection stop me from looking around.  Not only were the sari’s amazingly beautiful. The mannequins didn’t disappoint either.

If you are ever in Chicago and dying for a samosa, you have to go to check out Devon Avenue.  It’s more than just a place with good Indian restaurants. It’s a glimpse into a really cool ethnic neighborhood.  That is one of the things I love about Chicago. Sure there is the Sears (Willis) Tower, Michigan Ave, and Art Institute that make Chicago great, but the thing I love about Chicago are all the ethnic neighborhoods.

I’ve postponed the White Castle slider eating contest until Jeff feels better. I already know I’m going to win, but I want there to be a little competition.


Categories: Chicago, USA | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Goodbye Argentina and thanks.

As we leave Argentina there are so many things we are thankful to have been able to experience and that we know we are going to miss.

dulce de leche

yerba mate

new friends


Buenos Aires

cheek kissing




dog walkers




Most of all we’ll miss the Argentinian people who were always friendly, patient with my bad Spanish, helpful, and welcoming.   We’ll miss Argentina, but I know we’ll be back.

Next stop is Chicago to visit friends, family and attend our nephew Matt and his fiance Melissa’s wedding.  I’ve also challenged Jeff to a White Castle slider eating contest.   I’m pretty sure I know who’s going to win.

Categories: Argentina | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mendoza to Buenos Aires -on the fancy bus

Normally a 13 hour overnight bus ride would fill me with dread. But in Argentina it’s something to look forward to, especially if you go first class.

A first class ticket on the bus line Cata gets you a  big seat, foot rest,  blanket, pillow, newspaper,  curtains to section off your seat and a personal tv.  You also get your own personal garbage bag which doesn’t sound like much unless your husband has a cold and is going through a lot of tissues.








Soon after the bus started out we got served this sandwhich with either water or coke. My first thought was, “Nice, but this is not going to hold me for 13 hours.”

Ham item #1

It turns out this was just the appetizer.  The second thing we were served was this plate of assorted mini ham sandwiches.

Ham items #2-#5. Guess what the empanada was filled with.... ham.

This course came with it’s own mini bottle of wine.

not bad for bus wine

Then came the main course,  breaded meat, potatoes all covered in ham.  It looks weird, but was strangely delicious.

Ham item #6 - ham covered meat and potatoes

We had the choice of coffee, tea, water or champagne with dessert.  It was so tempting to get champagne because when do you ever have the chance to drink champagne on a bus? But, I went with water.   I wasn’t sure how champagne would taste with flan.

bus flan - delicious

Then it was movie time. We had the choice between two different movies, both in English with Spanish subtitles.  Once the movie was over everyone pulled their curtains around their seats, lowered their seats back and put up their foot rests. The seat turned into a fully horizontal bed.

The best part besides the fully reclining seat, wine, and garbarge bag was that for the entire night the rest of the bus, all 18 other passengers were silent. No cell phones, talking, kids crying, nothing. Just pure silence.   We both actually got a pretty good night’s sleep considering we were on a bus.

The next morning we were served orange juice, coffee, and a plate of assorted cookies, no ham.    If we weren’t leaving Argentina tomorrow I’d take a few more buses. It was that much fun.  But, then again I do amuse easily.





Categories: Argentina, Buenos Aires, Mendoza | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

Eating an entire cow (not in one sitting) part 10 – sweet breads, blood sausage (which is from a pig)

With less than a week left to go in Argentina, I realize there is no way I can do it.  I was very eager early on, but then as I ran out of the popular cuts and was left with lots of organs, I lost my appetite.   When faced with the choice at a restaurant – the best, most tender rib-eye steak you’ve ever had, or kidneys, it was not a hard choice.

I’m so not ruining this wine with something gross.

So, I continued to eat lots and lots of beef but stopped trying to eat all the parts.   I did recently add one new part of the cow to my list, and  a scary part of a pig.

First the pig, no it’s not a pig head.

Blood Sausage

I love sausage of all types. But, there is something disturbing to me about blood sausage, it’s not even the name or idea of blood sausage. It’s the color. Blood sausage is really dark, almost black. I think if it was bright red it wouldn’t be so disturbing.

these all look kind of gross

So when our friends Nati and Frankie came over for an asado (Argentinian barbecue) with blood sausage, I knew now was the time to try it.

Try it! All the cool people are eating it.

Jeff cooked it up and left it on the fire until it sort of split open.

Jeff: Is there really blood in it? Frankie: Yes, yes there is.


And then I tried it. Here’s the thing, blood sausage is amazing!  It doesn’t taste like blood, it is soft and slightly sweet.   I’m not sure what it tastes like in other countries, but in Argentina, cooked over a wood fire, it’s incredible.



Mollejas are also known as sweetbreads or the thymus gland of a cow.    When our friend Leandro came over for an asado he brought all kinds of meat including mojellas.   One last  thing to add to my cow list.


I promise you, you will like them.

I have to admit, they didn’t look pretty raw.

Vegetarians – look away

He doused them with fresh squeezed lemon juice and salt.   Once on the grill they started to look better.

And then, when we actually ate them, they were really good.  The texture is a big weird, sort of spongy, but they taste great.

So, that’s it for the cow eating on this trip.   I plan to eat several more pieces of cow between now and when we go back to the US, but they will be my favorite cuts bife de chorizo and bife de lomo.   Not only will I not be eating an entire cow in one sitting, I won’t be eating an entire cow in one country. The rest of the parts will need to be eaten on other trips.

Categories: Argentina, Cow eating, Mendoza | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments