Travels with Penelope

Travel, Food, Wine, Spirituality and Everything Else

Tag: Pilgrimage

October 19, 2015 The Art Inn



As we drove into Lisbon towards the Art Inn Hotel in the glossy Mercedes, I began to have second thoughts about my plans for a pilgrimage. Pilgrims let go of normal life; they walk, carry little, face deprivation, and visit sacred sites. Like the pilgrim in The Way of a Pilgrim, I had chosen my mantra and a practice that I planned to use as I made my way around Portugal, but, with my “way” so paved in luxury, could I realistically call it a pilgrimage? With some reflection, I soon realized that I had to let go of my antiquated parameters and allow the tao to unfold. Facing what it brought my way seemed much more in alignment with my intentions. Continue reading

Oct. 13, 2015 Portugal, Pilgrimage, and Jackie Lovato

Dear Friends,

While poking around in my library, a book inadvertently, but not accidentally fell off a shelf. I picked it up, mused over it a bit and noted a quote on the back cover from Jacob Needleman. He called it one of the most influential spiritual books of the 20th century.

The Way of the Pilgrim is the story of a man who made his way across 19th century Russia carrying a Bible, a bit of dried bread and a prayer rope, obviously, a traveler with purpose. As he walked, he focused his mind on an ancient orthodox practice known as The Jesus Prayer. I have witnessed a similar process in India where orange robed sadus walk the country, mala beads and begging bowl in hand, reciting mantras.

If the book is as influential as Needleman pointed out, perhaps it indicates that while most of us may not be called to the life of a wandering sadu or mendicant, the thirst for inner spiritual growth is innate.

For several weeks I had been thinking of a trip to a European country, but for no apparent reason I could not bring myself to make the necessary arrangements to get there. I felt conflicted. Then the migrations from Syria turned to a major issue in my intended destination. With that, I decided that the trip would have to wait until a later date. Fortuitously, the conflict cleared unexpectedly, and “out of the blue” the sound of Portugal entered my mind like the kind of mantra that called me to hyper-loop to Baku in Azerbaijan several months back. On the spot, I decided to go, but having dallied so long and my allotted travel time closing in, I was faced with last minute reservations. Flight schedules and hotels were put together almost as the plane was gliding down the runway. I know so little about Portugal, the customs the ways of its people not to mention the lay of the land, but the omen of the falling book lead me to understand that the trip is metaphor. It is indeed a pilgrimage. As to why Portugal, that will be revealed as I journey.

I write from the plane, a US Airways jet. The recent merger of American Airlines and US Airways created the largest airlines in the world. An agent told me that on Oct. 16 the merger with all changes to planes, flights, etc. would be completed. My pilgrimage begins under the old regime; when I return on American the new will be established.

Yesterday Jackie Lovato  blog consultant and my teacher of all things teckie, changed the opening photo to a shot I took on the Mekong Delta two years ago. It feels far more suitable than the old photo for the pilgrimage I am commencing. Jackie, not only a great photographer, college teacher and web site consultant, she is as her name indicates, a love. Need blog or web help, wedding photographer, fashion shoot, she is your woman. This is my first commercial in a post. Just cannot help but promote such a wonderful person.

If you follow the pilgrimage I would welcome your comments.

From the air and the airport in Philly,


6-16-2014 On to Rome

My partner called Uber at 6:00 AM. Within fifteen minutes Kushal picked us up. I knew it would be a safe ride to the airport the moment I saw Ganesh on his dashboard. With traffic on the 405 amazingly light for the early morning commute slot, we arrived at John Wayne Airport aptly named for the big guy, by 6:30. At barely ten years old I can remember seeing JW at the local Thrifty’s Drugs former home of the nickel ice cream, and probably the nearest drug store to his home on Lido Isle. Sightings of celebrities were common in those days with the coastline a preferred playground, and are still so today, but not only was John Wayne famous, the people of south OC loved him.

Kushal described how he worked his way around the world to get from Nepal to the US. As a driver for hire, he worked in Israel, Italy and Germany, the latter for a handicapped man, as he related it. All the while his intention was to work his way to the US. Now, finally settled in his home of choice California, he has started a family. To show his loyalty to his new home he gave his four-month old daughter an American name.

Kushal’s is one of many amazing stories, I have heard recounted by Uber drivers since we joined up last month. The ride to the airport cost us 25.00. The same for a taxi would have been 40.00 sans tip! No wonder taxi drivers are rising up against Uber! In some places Uber has wiped out fifty percent of taxi business.

On the flight to Chicago the man next to me all dressed up like a CEO in his crisp white shirt, perfectly creased, light coffee pants and spit shined oxfords read through reams of charts making notes here and there. I noticed Southern Wines and Spirits in bold print across the top of the pages. I would have struck up a conversation about the wines part, but noticed late in the flight and at that point I was not much in the mood for conversation.

A few minutes before landing he pulled out a new hardback—Collective Genuis. I could not help peering over his shoulder, checking out a few lines. I had the middle seat he had the window so I faked looking out the window when in fact I was checking out his book. What young executive geniuses are reading these days roused my curiosity. I picked up that the book’s purpose is to help top leaders in management deal with their role as group leaders. Leaders I read, should hold group meetings, try to get everyone to share ideas, encourage experimentation, enlarge on the collective genius of a group, and so on. It all reminded me of what my developmental psychology teacher imparted as I was preparing to go into teaching about forty years ago. Same lines, different times.

There is also a priest on the plane. It’s comforting to know that last rites are a possibility should something go awry.

The pilot provided a moment of shock and awe when he hit, rather dove into the runway. I cannot recall a landing so hard. When we disembarked and I smelled popcorn right out the gate, I knew we had hit Chicago.






Cozy now on the flight to Rome, we are more than halfway. On an old American Airlines plane, so old it reminds me of the TWA plane I flew in on my first plane ride, a flight from LA to Pittsburgh back in the sixties. The meals skimpy, no snack in the kitchen, thank goodness they are coming out of bankruptcy.

Sorry I forgot to get some melatonin. Impossible to sleep.