Our Switzerland Inspired Travel Happy Dance!

For those of you that follow along on my personal site, you may be aware that I have been on the mend for the past few months, which has meant a number of months of me being unable to do some of the things that make me the happiest – dancing and travel.

And if there was one thing I learned during that time of abstinence, it was how much I missed dancing and travel, and in returning to them, how great they both make me feel.  In fact they were both exactly what I needed to push my healing forward.  And really, when you think of healing in terms of travel, it is hard to find a better destination to heal in than Switzerland.  Just look at how it made Erica and I feel!



While Switzerland, as a whole was incredibly healing for me, with the fresh air and tasty food, helping to get me stronger, there are a few places I’d like to highlight, as having been extra restorative to me: B2 Boutique Hotel in Zurich with their therapeutic Thermalbad & Spa, the farm fresh air at La Ferme du Bourgoz in Gruyere, and the indulgence of Grand Hotel du Lac in Vevey with the pampering of their Spa Bellefontaine. Thank you all so much!


I heart Chexbres!

This cobblestone mosaic in Chexbres pretty much sums up how I feel about Switzerland!


In fact all of this made me realise that our Roamancing Red Boot Stomp was in fact our Travel Happy Dance!  This also got us thinking that there are likely other travellers out their with their own #TravelHappyDances.  We showed you ours!  Now show us yours!  Share your dance with the #TravelHappyDance hashtag and we will be sure to give it some social media love!


Emme  xoxo

Dining: As Seen On TV at The Brats Brothers in San Fernando Valley

I am someone who enjoys salivating over food related television shows, occasionally getting inspired to try and up the level of my own cooking.  Some of the more spirited shows have even encouraged a few friendly competitive challenges between Emme Rogers and myself. ( I totally beat her in an onion peeling contest inspired by Bob Blumer’s Gluten For Punishment!) I also quite often find myself pining away for travel when I watch shows that showcase different establishments around the world.  Knowing this, you can imagine my excitement when one day while watching Diners Drive-ins and Dives, they featured a little restaurant called The Brats Brothers only 5 minutes away from my house!  The crazy thing is … I had never even heard of this place.


German Bratwurst restaurant Brats Brothers

The Brats Brothers Entrance


My cousin was in town visiting, which was perfect because we grew up eating a lot of Hungarian and German food, and this place promised amazing bratwurst, sauerkraut, and beer! She was the perfect person to accompany me on my ‘as seen on TV’ dining experience.


Sausage Fan

My first reaction upon walking in was ‘Oh my gosh, they have pretzels hanging from the ceiling!’ Then I noticed the fan was sausage!


The ambiance was just right for the occasion.  We sat at picnic style tables surrounded by rustic decor, all providing a bit of a Bavarian drinking hall type of vibe.  Speaking of drinking … they have authentic German beer on tap here, and they even have their own home brew!  If you have never enjoyed a true German beer, you must know there is something so fresh and pure about the taste.


German Beer

I went with their home brew!


Now, knowing me and my inability to make decisions when faced with so many great ones, you can imagine how it took me a whole beer to choose from the extensive list of brats they have.  I knew it was going to be good no matter what I chose, because of the interesting ensemble of ketchups and mustards they had.


They had curried Ketchup, Smoked Ketchup, Spiced Mustard and more!

They had curried Ketchup, Smoked Ketchup, Spiced Mustard and more!


My cousin and I finally discovered and settled on their sampler plate so we could experience at least 4 of their different brats.  We of course included sauerkraut and their little house dumplings called spaetzle. This ended up being a grand idea!


Perfect Choice!

Perfect Choice!


Our favorite brat turned out to be the spicy Hungarian one.  Having a grandmother who made sauerkraut and dumplings all the time, I have to say that this place is pretty authentic!  I classify it as one of those places that only the locals would know about (despite having been featured on TV), which I think always have the best food and the best patrons.  Let this stand as my tip for you then, should you ever be in the San Fernando Valley: look up The Brats Brothers and then stroll around the main street of Ventura Blvd for some great little independent store shopping!


Roamancing the Prose

Roamancing Hurghada

A loving moment in Hurghada!


We (Janis Stammler) and myself created some romantic prose for all of you from our Roamancing crew. Here they are:


By sea or by air
To travel is always a grand affair
The adventures await
So pick your date


Roamancing Wadi el Gemal

A romantic moment in Wadi el Gemal!


Paris, Brazil, Jamaica or Rome
No matter where you’re led to from home
It will be nothing but great fascination
To reach your destination


New cultures and history;
True love’s mystery
Awaits your eager mind


New memories unfold
Through adventures most bold
See what you will find


Roamancing Paynes Prairie

A child’s love on Paynes Prairie!


Happy Valentine’s Day!

With love,

From me (Lori), Janis and the rest of the Roamancing Crew!


Falling in Love with Hostels, Thanks to Freehand Miami!

After one terrible hostel experience in Banff during the Banff Television Festival, I made a judgement call on hostels … thinking they were all thin walled, with less than comfortable beds, intended for immature party obsessed late teen and early 20-somethings (I think I was a late 20-something at the time).  Now don’t shoot me for this judgement … in my first night at the hostel in question, my roommate and I did not sleep a wink, as we had people start partying outside our room at 2 am, got to listen to teen relationship drama outside our door half the night, followed by the police showing up due to breakins and stolen goods. All this, while the front desk staff at the hostel did nothing about the complaints. If you have ever been to the Banff Television Festival, you’ll know that whatever sleep you are able to get is vital to surviving and to your success, so we moved out at 8 am the next morning.

Thanks to Filmgate Miami, that was not my last hostel experience after all. Instead they made me fall in love with hostels, by booking me in to stay at the Freehand Hostel in Miami, over the course of their Festival.


Tikki Bar in Freehand Miami Courtyard

Fountains & Tikki Bars, Oh My!


What I was greeted with, upon arriving in Miami and at the Freehand Miami, was with a warm and friendly style of place, with a bohemian feel, and a mixture of travellers of all ages.  Yep!  This was definitely my style of space.


Hanging out in the Freehand Miami Lobby

“I don’t want to work! I want to beat on my drum all day!”


The sun filled lobby hosted an eclectic array of furniture and instruments, designed to make people feel at home and want to linger and chat.


Playing the piano in the Freehand Miami lobby.

Loved following the sound of music to find someone playing the piano in the lobby.


Painted map on the wall at Freehand Miami.

Gotta love a place thats not too afraid to paint their own map.


I studied the homemade map of the area, trying to get my bearings, and figure out where everything was, and where I’d be spending the next few days, over the course of the festival. While I waited my turn to checkin, I eyed up the activities board, mulling the Festival schedule in my head. Would I able to make the Sunday Beach Yoga or Backyard Barbecue?  I had heard from my Filmgate Miami hosts that the weekly Sunday night Barbecues were always a good time.



The Week, Freehand Miami style.

Hmm … what do I have the time to do???


So far so good! And then they showed me my room …


Freehand Miami Standard King

Home Sweet Home!


Wow!  This was a room in a hostel!?!  With the interior design by Roman & Williams, this was nicer than many 5 star hotels I’d stay in.

The room included a walk-in closet … my own bathroom with some rather divine toiletries


Dr. Broanner's Magic at Freehand Miami

My first experience with Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, and hopefully not my last, as they were rather divine!


… artwork by local Miami artists … a safe that fit both my laptops and camera gear …


Freehand Miami Laptop Size Safe

Brilliant! Surprised 5-star hotels are not in the habit of equipping rooms with laptop size safes.


… everything I needed to work (including complimentary wifi) and more (iPod docking station) …


Retro Freehand Miami ipod dock

Rather fancied this touch!


… and then there was the bed …


Roamancing Red Boots right at home at Freehand Miami

Yes, our Roamancing Red Boots were right at home!


… I still dream about that king size bed … so comfy!  The red boots were right at home here!

And to give you the full picture, here is what the shared rooms look like with their beds with their 10-inch mattresses!


Super 8 Room at Freehand Miami

The Super 8 Room


Sleep, however, would have to wait!  There was after all a backyard pool to check out!


Freehand Miami Backyard beckoning!

With an entrance like this, how could the backyard not beckon!


I certainly was not disappointed by the pool …


Freehand Miami Pool LOVE

‘LOVE’ is about right!


… the courtyard, where conversation with interesting travellers would spark up …


Cascading flowers over Freehand Miami Courtyard!

Love that flowers cascaded over this courtyard bordered with herbs!


… the backyard games area …


Backyard Games at Freehand Miami

Ping Pong, anyone?


A bit of bocci at Freehand Miami

Care for a game of bocci?


… the tiki bar …


Coconut Man at the Freehand Miami Tikki Bar

Not a bad fellow to make acquaintances with!


… and even bicycles …


Freehand Miami Bicycles

Ideal Miami transportation!


Forget the room, this would be my office for the next few days … as well it should be … under the Miami sun!


Our office at Freehand Miami

Must say, the office is looking rather delightful today!


And as soon as the sun went to sleep, that tiki bar – The Broken Shaker, came alive, giving this courtyard a rocking nightlife of it’s own, perfect for a nightcap … or in Emme‘s case, to experiment with filming her first ‘Art Film’!


Broken Shaker Cocktail at Freehand Miami

My first time trying a cocktail containing egg white. Was rather delicious!


But even with the buzzing backyard nightlife (and dare I say, cocktails – tasty things, that packed quite a punch), the design of the space, meant that by the time I’d found my way to bed, there was no noise to stop me from peacefully drifting off to sleep.

After all there was a beach beckoning before the Festival begun again the next day … both in wind …


Paragliders in Miami

Could easily have watched these paragliders sail all afternoon!


… and shine!


Miami sun and colour!

Got to love a blast of sand, sun, and colour in the dead of winter!


Can’t wait to return!


Freehand Miami Stone Alligator

I wonder if this fellow will be awaiting my return?


The concept of happiness is a universal thing, yet the idea of what makes each person happy is different.  For each of us, regardless of age, physicality, or socionomical background, there are obstacles that sometimes get in the way, yet ultimately happiness generally wins thanks to our creative human spirit!

To demonstrate this common thread we all have, we’re sharing a collection of short interviews where people answer the two simple questions of: ‘What makes you happy?’, and ‘Is there an obstacle to that happiness?’ This idea was spawned from the ever so talented Realwheels Theatre Company, who are at the forefront of the disability arts scene, and the team from the OneStory interview platform App.

We are especially fond of this video featuring Roy, that Eric filmed.  He has two of the same loves as us…music and traveling! We love how he plans on letting nothing get in the way of him seeing the world, and his ever positive attitude about music being with you even if all you have is your own voice, makes us smile.



To see the full collection of videos, visit the OneStory Realwheels What Makes You Happy Campaign Page.  Everyone (that means you!) is invited and encouraged to add an interview of yourself or a friend to the campaign.  Let’s try to get this to be a world wide glimpse into what brings people joy.  Perfect timing to receive some holiday cheer we think! It’s simple to video using your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or personal computer, but click here for full instructions provided by Ahimsa Media to get you started if you need to.

Looking forward to watching this grow! To follow along with us, search and interact with the hashtags, #WheelVoices and #DisabilityArts.