Entertaining Yourself in cool places around the globe


Münster Aasee

It’s summer for just a few more days, so let’s hop over to northwestern Germany for the weekend to enjoy some time by the Münster Aasee. We’ll take some time to explore the quaint city of Münster later on, but for today let’s concentrate on the hotspot just off the city centre, the Aasee. Pronounced “AH-zay” (“zay” rhyming with “say”), this is a lovely artificial lake that measures 5.7 kilometers (3.5 miles) around and offers myriad outdoor opportunities.

On sunny summer weekends, Münsteraners turn out in droves and set up camp around the Aasee for barbecues, kite-flying, and general sunbathing. (On New Year’s, the lake will be ringed with people setting off fireworks – check out the debris the next day.) You can also go out in sailboats or take a leisurely stroll along the path ringing the lake. The path is ideal for runners, and you’ll definitely encounter a lot of them at most times of day.

If you forget your barbecue equipment and don’t feel like exercising, there are a few restaurants and cafes dotted along the Aasee’s shores. From the Aasee it’s also a short jaunt to the Münster Zoo and, in the other direction, back to the city center’s pristine cobblestoned streets and many churches. But for today, let’s find a sunny spot of grass to relax on and watch the people go by.


St. Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge

IMG_4361Nestled a block south of Hyde Park, between Hyde Park Corner and Knightsbridge Tube stations, lies St. Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge. This hidden architectural gem is in the Victorian style and was consecrated as an Anglican church in 1843. Enter the church through a door in the tall tower, and you’ll be welcomed into an open, light-filled space. Take a few moments to enjoy a 360-degree view of the stained glass windows and the beautiful organ. The domed ceiling is simply decorated with statues of angels, and there is just enough ornate gold work towards the altar.

Visitors are welcome at St. Paul’s Knightsbridge: you can attend one of the daily masses, stroll in at a different time to look around without worshipping, or attend one of the BBC radio live recordings. That’s right – the renowned BBC Singers sometimes record live concerts in this church for BBC radio. If you’re a classical music fan, this is a great way to hear beautiful music in a gorgeous acoustic space.

St. Paul’s Knightsbridge is a bit off the beaten track of busy Knightsbridge road, hidden between Hyde Park and Green Park. But next time you’re in the area – perhaps while walking from Hyde Park down to the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea – step into this lovely church for a few moments of quiet and calm.


Kensington Palace

IMG_5846We’ve visited  Kensington Gardens before, to see the Albert Memorial and explore the museums on Exhibition Road. But we haven’t yet ventured to the far western end of the Gardens, which is where we go today to visit Kensington Palace.

This royal residence has housed members of the British Royal Family since the 1600s and is currently the official place where various Dukes and Duchesses stay when they are in London. But even though it is used as a residence, parts of Kensington Palace are open to the public to visit. You can pay to see the State Rooms, various exhibitions, and of course the marvelous gardens. Book an afternoon tea at The Orangery for when you’re tired of wandering the Palace looking at portraits and royal fashions.

Even if you don’t want to pay the entry fee to the Palace, you can find a bench somewhere near the pond across the Broad Walk and enjoy people- and dog-watching to your heart’s content. There’s never a dull moment in Kensington Gardens!

Highgate (Image from their website)

High Tea of Highgate

Highgate (Image from their website)

Highgate (Image from their website)

It’s a rainy Monday here in London, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun indoors! We’ve talked about afternoon tea before (remember those finger sandwiches and scones with jam?), so today we’re headed to a lovely little tea shop in north London’s Highgate Village.

Tea, anyone?

Tea, anyone?

High Tea of Highgate (their website alone is worth a visit) is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it on the “high” street. If you don’t see a free table in the front, walk past the scrumptious-looking cakes on the counter to the little back room, which houses three more tables. This tea spot has more of an à la carte style – the menu features “savoury snacks” as well as the usual scones and the cakes you saw walking in. For a substantial afternoon snack, you can order the cream tea, which gets you a pot of tea and two scones with clotted cream and jam. Not in the mood for a scone? Order one of those amazing-looking cakes…

Your tea and scones or cake will appear on whimsically patterned, mismatched china, which just adds to the charm of the place. Even after you’ve finished eating and sipping your tea, you’ll want to linger in this cozy atmosphere to chat with your companion – and to avoid that rain outside! When you do decide to brave the weather again, you’ll find yourself atop Highgate Hill with a great view of central London.


Image from Highgate website

Image from Highgate website



High Tea of Highgate
50 Highgate High Street
London N6 5NX United Kingdom
+44 208 348 3162


Abbey Church of Waltham Holy Cross and St. Lawrence

Abbey Church of Waltham Holy Cross and St. Lawrence

Today we’re driving to the northern edge of London, to Waltham Abbey in Essex. This town is the home of The Abbey Church of Waltham Holy Cross and St. Lawrence, more commonly known as Waltham Abbey (same as the town – who’d have thought?!). Architecturally, this is an incredible church: the current Norman-style structure dates from the 12th century, and it is believed that there has been a place of worship on this site since the 7th century. Not bad!

10574364_792718787416447_6881021798710327103_nIn the UK, Waltham Abbey is best known as the supposed burial place of King Harold II, who helped rebuild the church in the 11th century. King Harold II famously died – perhaps due to an arrow in the eye – in the Battle of Hastings (1066) and may or may not be buried at Waltham Abbey.

Waltham Abbey also carries some significance for classical music enthusiasts, as English Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis served as the Abbey’s organist in the mid-16th century. Indeed, the Abbey’s nave has beautiful acoustics, particularly suited to a capella choral music. But whether or not you care for classical music, Waltham Abbey is worth a visit for its historical significance, beautiful architecture, and stained-glass windows. Even if you’re not religious, standing in the ancient nave may give you chills.


“I’m Looking for a Safe House”


For most Wisconsin residents, the city of Milwaukee offers five main attractions: beer, brats, baseball, basketball, and a beautiful lake. From touring the Miller Brewery Visitor Center and witnessing the historic origins of the “Beer City of the World,” to testing your luck at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino, to even experiencing the adventures within the Harley Davidson Museum, a day in the prosperous city can never be uneventful.

However, for others, Milwaukee serves as a secret refuge for spies engaging in covert operations.

IMG_5351While the shadows of Milwaukee’s City Hall may fall on what appears to be a nondescript alleyway, an observant eye will discover a sign that reads International Exports, Ltd., 779 Front Street. Many pass by this sign without any regard. Some, however, choose to enter the hidden door adjacent to the sign and are greeted by a woman known as Miss Moneypenny. She sits at an antique desk in a dimly lit waiting room, and startled, asks you for a password of entry.

Without knowing the password, you may start to panic. What is this place? Am I upsetting her? Miss Moneypenny will proceed to ask you to perform different “tricks” for access to a secret world in return. However, by simply whispering the words “I’m Looking for a Safe House” Miss Moneypenny will hesitate no longer. With the pull of a hidden lever under her desk, a bookcase suddenly moves aside to reveal a mysterious hallway. You too should not hesitate, and instead proceed before Miss Moneypenny changes her mind and closes the bookcase once again.

IMG_5359Upon entering through the bookcase, the obscure hallway seems to continue forever. The lighting barely reveals an atmosphere, and a subtle musty odor lingers in the air. Black and white photographs and framed documents hang from the walls around you, and after looking closer, you start to discover the secrecy of your surroundings. You may try to retreat through the bookcase, but after finding out that it exists no longer, your only choice is to continue to venture forward.

IMG_5355You eventually reach yet another entry way; however, this time you step foot into what appears to be a restaurant. A bar stretches across an area to your left and features a large map with specific locations repeatedly circled in red. Hidden rooms are to your right and each hold tables, seating, and mysterious wall accents. You are greeted by a hostess who refers to you as a spy and asks if you would like to be seated. You say yes and ask her where exactly you are. She hesitates but eventually responds “The Safe House.”

Upon being seated, you are confronted by a waitress who hands you a menu and brings you water in a red glass with a black key hole on one side. She also hands you a folded piece of paper that is stamped with the word “CONFIDENTIAL.” You anxiously unfold the document and reveal a Spy Mission that is to be completed before leaving the Safe House. Without further delay, you read the ten tasks that make up the mission.


The first task is to find a room with a green ceiling that features a “cracked code.” You begin to wander around the restaurant until you come across such a room. After searching the surroundings, you eventually discover a framed two inch card surrounded by photographs of James Bond 007. The card is signed by a former spy and reveals a code in which you use to complete the mission. You jot down the code, and continue up some wooden stairs to explore another bar and secret area of the restaurant.

IMG_5366The second task is a little more risqué. It involves a woman having to enter a specific ladies’ room located within the restaurant and discovering a poster of Burt Reynolds. When the woman finds the poster, a siren sounds for the whole restaurant to hear, and everyone knows what that woman just witnessed  She then has to walk out of the ladies’ room and is usually greeted by laughter.

Around the corner from the ladies’ room lies the destination that contains the third task of the Spy Mission. A long wall stretches across the area that features various cartoon illustrated individuals. A third bar is present in the room and seating is available alongside the wall for an extra special dining experience. The challenge asks you to discover a button that turns the current stationary wall into action. Upon finding the button and pushing it once, the wall suddenly breaks up into puzzle pieces. The shapes then begin to move over and past one another until the bodies and heads of the illustrated characters are swapped. Once the wall is finished moving, a woman’s body often times now has a man’s head.

IMG_5364After completing three tasks of your Spy Mission, you venture back to your table and order a Spy Burger off of the menu. The Safe House features creatively titled lunch and dinner items ranging from burgers, salads, sandwiches, and soups. The restaurant has won multiple awards for the peculiar atmosphere and decorations as well as for the delicious food. Four bars exist throughout the restaurant as to provide the spies with multiple secluded meeting areas. The Safe House even features an upstairs room that is available for private spy conversations.

IMG_0043While many more tasks await you, I will not reveal any other information about the Safe House other than the route of exit. In order to successfully leave the restaurant, you must exit through a way that you did not enter. Upon wandering throughout the restaurant in an effort to discover this secret route, you will come across a CIA telephone booth in which you should insert a quarter and follow the directions prompted to you. This will then allow you to leave through a mysterious alleyway, but only after being taken into the Interrogation Room.

To complete the entire Spy Mission and discover all that the secret refuge has to offer, visit the Safe House yourself at 779 North Front Street!





To view my complete album from my trip to Milwaukee, visit EY’s Facebook page!




All Aboard A Scenic Railroad

I am an explorer; I love discovering what the world around me has to offer. I have done my best to travel the 22,000 acres of the “Emerald Necklace” of the Cleveland Metroparks, sampled the historical Cleveland tradition of ethnic diversity at the West Side Market, and gotten lost in the memories of a magical time period at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens. Recently, I have boarded another timeless journey: the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

From serving as a transportation corridor for the Indians thousands of years ago to later providing settlers with an easy way to move bulk goods, the Cuyahoga River and Valley in northern Ohio has always been an asset to people of all ages. The Valley Railway was primarily built to transport coal from south of Canton, Ohio to the prosperous industries developing throughout Cleveland. Today it serves as transportation through beautiful meadowland, the homes of beaver, fox, deer, and owl, and shopping and lodging destinations. Children anxiously climb aboard the “Polar Express” during the Christmas season and experience a magical trip to the North Pole to visit Santa Claus. Families travel alongside the railway on miles of the Towpath Trail to bike, walk, and even canoe.

With twelve main points of interest and eight stations, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad stretches across 33,000 acres of our National Park. I have visited and photographed two of the stations including Peninsula Depot and Brecksville Station. Each station offers various forms of entertainment ranging from recreational activities, dining, shopping, and art galleries.


Peninsula Depot
The Peninsula Depot sits in the small town of Peninsula that offers various tourist attractions for its visitors of all ages. A few dining options include the Winking Lizard and Fisher’s Cafe and Pub, stores range from Burda Books to Yellow Creek Trading Company, and art galleries include Diane Seskes Photography and Elements GallerySpecial events are held throughout the year and attract families from all over the Midwest. Not only is the town packed with excitement during the day, but it also has a great night life featuring various bars, karaoke events, and live musicians.

While visiting I traveled the Towpath Trails. Not only was I able to observe wildlife throughout the dense forest, recreational activities on the trails, and the beautiful scenery, but I also came across the Canal Feeder Dam, a historical landmark of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. While the dam was originally built in 1827 to provide water for the Ohio and Erie Canal, today it functions as more of a memory for the town. Peninsula once greatly depended on this dam and the Cuyahoga River, and many of the buildings throughout the town still stand as to portray the purpose it once served.

I also walked alongside the Cuyahoga River which has created a series of peninsulas over the course of its existence. While the river was once completely polluted and disregarded by society, it now serves a different purpose. I observed two children skipping rocks across the water, a family canoeing on the calm rapids, and a blue heron searching for its lunch.


Brecksville Station

The Brecksville Station also offers much excitement for its visitors.  Well known restaurants are just around the corner and offer a wide variety of dining options including Creekside Restaurant and BarSakura Japanese, and The Courtyard Cafe. Shopping centers are within walking distance from these restaurants and feature unique stores such as Riverview House Antiques Gifts and Florals and ABC Art and Coin Exchange. The area also serves as a great recreational destination as people come to hike, golf, play softball, and run cross country.

While visiting I photographed the beautiful fall scenery around the station. The Route 82 bridge spans the Cuyahoga Valley and runs directly over the railroad at the Brecksville Station. Built in 1931 the bridge stands at a height taller than the Statue of Liberty and its unique construction the evolution of bridge engineering.

From recreational opportunities to gourmet dining to experiencing historical landmarks, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is truly a beautiful asset to Northeast Ohio. While I have only visited two of the stations, I look forward to exploring and photographing more in the near future. Board the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad yourself and discover all that it has to offer!





Check out my complete Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad photography album
on EntertainingYourself.com’s Facebook page!


St. Paul's Cathedral as viewed from Millennium Bridge

EY Travel Tips: London

I love exploring new cities on foot. There’s no better way to “take healthy steps” – as my family says – and really get to know a place. You may wonder how it’s possible to explore London, a sprawling metropolis of almost eight million people, on foot. Let me try to convince you that it is easily – and best – explored this way, as long as you don’t plan on trying to walk around the entire city. The Tube (a.k.a. the Underground or metro) system is excellent and a good way to travel longer distances through London, but certain areas are much better enjoyed outdoors at a leisurely pace.

I spent four sunny days in London at the end of March – not nearly enough time to see and do everything I wanted to do, but enough time to stroll around some of London’s many beautiful boroughs. (Visiting London became even more significant because I had learned not long before the trip that I would be moving there after finishing my Peace Corps service.) Here are my recommendations for a few nice walking-sightseeing routes if you find yourself in London for several days.


Marylebone/Fitzrovia and Regent’s Park

At the Marylebone Farmers’ Market

This posh, neighborhood-y area is known for its proximity to peaceful Regent’s Park. One of the friends I was visiting lived in this area, on Weymouth Street just a few blocks from the Sunday Marylebone Farmer’s Market, which even in late March was already full of gorgeous greens, plenty of parsnips, delicious homemade goat cheese, and the best carrot cake I have ever had. I recommend trolling for postcards and souvenirs on Marylebone Road – if you like wax figures, also check out Madame Tussaud’s – before ducking into Regent’s Park for a stroll around the lake or a run on the many winding paths that offer glimpses of the London Zoo’s residents.

Bloomsbury and Russell Square

Enjoy a picnic lunch in Russell Square

After your morning stroll through the park and farmers’ market snack, walk east out of Fitzrovia to Bloomsbury, the district from which the early 20th-century Bloomsbury Group – the Woolfs and E.M. Forster were some of its prominent members – took its name. Drop into one of the many Sainsbury’s grocery stores to pick up picnic fare, then take it to Russell Square – most famously featured in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair – and enjoy people-watching while you nosh. Once your legs (and stomach) feel rejuvenated, walk one block to the British Museum. If you don’t have time for the whole museum you must at least stand gazing upwards in the glass-domed atrium for a few minutes. If you’d like to continue your literary tour, walk east on Guilford Street to Doughty Street, where you’ll find the Charles Dickens museum, situated in the house where Dickens lived for much of his life in London.

The British Museum atrium


Tottenham Court/Charing Cross Road to Trafalgar Square to Whitehall; the Houses of Parliament; Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace, St. James’ Park, and The Mall           

If your feet feel up for it, use a leisurely second day to take in many famous sights. Start on Tottenham Court Road in Fitzrovia and walk south; when you cross Oxford Street it will become Charing Cross Road in Soho. Take your time to stroll along, pop in and out of bookshops, and check out what’s playing at the theaters. Not far from Leicester Square you’ll run smack-dab into Trafalgar Square (contrary to popular belief, when I was there people actually outnumbered pigeons). If the weather is nice, grab a bite at Pret A Manger and people-watch while sitting on the steps of St. Martin in the Fields; if you’re lucky you’ll catch a choir rehearsal or concert in the church.

Westminster Abbey


When you have sufficiently refueled, walk south through Trafalgar Square to what becomes Whitehall Road; you will be flanked by tall, white buildings and soon will glimpse the Houses of Parliament and the famous clock tower known as Big Ben. Pause for some photos and then swing right to Westminster Abbey. You can pay to see the entire Abbey, but if you’d rather get a feel for it without shelling out any pounds, walk around to the west entrance and sit in on Evensong or Evening Prayer (check the schedule first; they offer free services and small concerts every day).


From the Abbey, continue walking west toward St. James’s Park, in the center of which you will find Buckingham Palace and the Queen Victoria Memorial. Walk away from the Palace along The Mall; you’ll eventually come out under the Admiralty Arch and find yourself back in Trafalgar Square. Stop in at the National Gallery or Portrait Gallery if you have time.



South Kensington and Chelsea

Start in Chelsea’s Sloane Square and visit the Saatchi Gallery, an art gallery that had an exhibition of contemporary German art when I was there. Even if modern art is not your cup of tea, the gallery is free and worth spinning through for its gorgeous design and use of space. Do you prefer shopping to art galleries? Walk up Cadogan Square to the famous department store, Harrods, where you will find anything you could ever want.


Prince Albert Memorial

From Harrods, it’s a short walk down Brompton Road to South Kensington and Exhibition Row, an area also known as “Albertopolis” for Queen Victoria’s establishment of museums, concert halls, and colleges in honor of Prince Albert, her husband who died too young. You could easily spend the rest of the day here in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum. Take some time to walk up to Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park to see the ornate Albert Memorial and the spot of the 1851 Great Exhibition’s Crystal Palace.


City of London



If you still have energy after the previous three days, start this day in the one-square-mile City of London, the oldest part of London and now the financial center. Spend some time at the Museum of London, free and chock-full of London’s history from the earliest times to today. When you feel saturated, walk south and follow your eyes to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Ogle at its dome and design – if you want to spend some money you can go inside – before continuing south to pedestrians-only Millennium Bridge, leading straight to the Tate Modern art museum. While crossing the bridge you will see the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. If you have time, catch a performance at the Globe after enjoying some modern art at the Tate. (Unfortunately I didn’t have time to do either of these things on my visit.)

St. Paul’s Cathedral as viewed from Millennium Bridge

Obviously, you cannot see all of London in four days. But if you like to walk, admire architecture, and really get the feel for a city, I recommend the four above walks as good starting points. I look forward to discovering many more great London walks after moving there – perhaps I shall share them with you. If you have suggestions for other walks, feel free to leave them in the comments section. Happy exploring!


hollywood rainbow

Over The Rainbow

Photograph of LA, taken by Martin Mudry









If this picture is to be believed – Then “YES” the  pot of gold really is in California!

Last time Martin was in LA, he captured this rainbow over Hollywood while he was looking out his window.  Stunning isn’t it?  And is it any wonder  he can’t resist returning?

Interested in EY’s West Coast Adventures?  Here are a few stories from our archives worth a(nother) read!

Jumping In California Style


Don’t Knock It If You Haven’t Tried It


The Key to Sea Kayaking Part 1

The Key to Sea Kayaking Part 2

Road Trip West – Part 4 


Sunny Spot – Mountain View, CA 


Who’s Guarding the Roost?



SAS F12 Route

A Broad Abroad – Semester at Sea

Rebecca, Maddie, and Milly in the WJCU studio.

Like every Tuesday night, the “twelve to two crew” and I were sitting in the WJCU radio studio getting ready for our weekly show – “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Jackie, one of my co-hosts, had attended a John Carroll study abroad informational session earlier that day. London, Australia, and Ireland were only some of the options mentioned; she paused to remember – “oh yeah, and they talked about this thing on a cruise ship.”

That caught my attention.

The next day, I was glued to my computer screen researching this cruise ship study abroad program. Why settle for one country? With Semester at Sea (SAS), I could visit 14!

And so I worked towards my goal. I applied for the program and all the financial aid that they had to offer; SAS awards over $4 million in scholarships for need and merit grants alone. The program not only stresses the importance of culture, but expands knowledge of cultural differences by requiring a Global Studies class for every participant. In addition to Global Studies, I’m taking Irish Literature and Film, Introductory Astronomy and World Religions.

The MV Explorer

The MV Explorer accommodates over 2,000 students each year. SAS calls it their personal “floating university.” We study while we’re being transported from country to country and, while we’re in port, we have the opportunity to explore by either going on SAS-sponsored trips or finding new things to do on our own.

For the 111th Semester at Sea trip, this is the first time that they are using this particular route.

The Father Matthew Bridge in Dublin, Ireland

Soon enough, I’ll be docking in Tema, Ghana and assisting SAS alumnus deliver toothbrushes to the Freedom Center. In London, I’ll be spending 3 days with Milly, a foreign exchange student that spent a year at John Carroll. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to check out some classic Irish pubs in Dublin and witness the breathtaking landscapes that I saw in a book my mom bought me when I was little. Since we’re allowed to travel from Antwerp, Belgium, I get to see Anna, another foreign exchange student, in Germany. I’m looking forward to making friends and going on crazy adventures together which might include trying some local cuisine like Brazilian churrasco (chicken hearts)…if we don’t get too intimidated.

Aside from planning trips, sending out my passport to get visas for Ghana and Brazil, booking my flights, and buying books, I had to visit the traveler’s clinic to get my yellow fever vaccination.

One of my best friends, Jaclyn, came with me for moral support. I was glad she was there when they handed me a side effects list that included “death,” “severe brain damage,” and “organ failure.” Once my initial freak out had passed, we walked into the consultation room where I received the vaccination. The doctor began playing an informational video while she snuck around to her Wonder Woman lunchbox to get the loaded needle. Having survived that, maybe now I’ll have the courage to cage dive with sharks in South Africa.

For 107 days, I get to be cruising on the coolest campus in the world. As the SAS employees say – the world will be my campus!

*More information can be found at semesteratsea.org


This is an international program meaning SAS accepts students from around the world! There’s a special Facebook group for every voyage, so I took a look at the colleges everyone attended. In case you’re interested, here are a small portion of the schools that accept Semester at Sea credit:

University of Virginia (Academic Sponsor of Semester at Sea)
John Carroll University
The Ohio State University
Case Western Reserve University
Baldwin Wallace University
Kent State University
St. Mary’s College of California
University of San Diego
University of South Carolina
Stanford University
Southern Methodist University
University of Alaska Fairbanks
University of Colorado
Tufts University
University of New Hampshire
Vanderbilt University
Elon University
Lawrence University
Rollins CollegeCurry College
Western Kentucky University
Bentley University
New York University
Rutgers University
Wheelock College
Loyola University Chicago
Elizabethtown College