An interview with Onward Travelers Jan Spadaro and Cathy Phipps Sine by Onward Travel’s summer intern, Caitlin Sweeney, Cornell SHA ’19

I had the chance to talk with two spirited and enthusiastic travelers, Jan Spadaro and Cathy Phipps Sine. When considering who to feature for the first traveler spotlight, Molly and Kat decided upon the perfect duo. From the beginning of our conversation, these two showed their sense of humor, all around enjoyment of each other, and love of travel. From cooking classes to getting lost in Rome, these two have done it all together.


How did you hear about Onward Travel?

JS: Hmm, I think I saw a post about a trip on a friend’s Facebook, someone who had been on trips with Onward Travel previously.

CPS: I was familiar with The Cooking Cottage that predated Onward Travel.

Cathy and Jan enjoying breakfast in Italy.

Which Onward adventures have you gone on?

CPS: Jan and I have been on three trips. First, in 2015, to Anna Maria Island with Kat as our guide to explore the area and enjoy a meal hosted by Peggi, Molly & Kat’s mom. The second trip was to Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos in New Mexico to see and taste the Southwest in 2016. Our third trip was this past spring, to Italy’s Amalfi Coast with Kat and Chef Jenna as our guides.                                                

How long have you known each other?

JS: I’d say about 20 years (let’s see what she says!) but we’ve really gotten to know each other since her husband passed away in 2006 ~ 5 years after my husband passed, in 2001.

CPS: Jan & I met in 1999 when my daughter signed up to play soccer and Jan was her coach! There were 4 Emily’s on the team that year – one was mine and one was Jan’s. Our Emily’s became friends and so did Jan and me. On a side note, Jan was widowed in 2011. Her husband had my husband promise that we would always look out for Jan and their 3 children after he died. Little did we know that in 2006 my husband would also die of cancer and leave me widowed. Jan and I have a lot in common.

What has been your favorite trip so far?

JS: Wow, that’s a tough question, because each one has been different and unique. I will have to go with Amalfi. The Amalfi Coast is breathtakingly beautiful, the food was delectable, and the wine free-flowing! We had a great sized group, 16 of us, and many new friends in addition to a few with whom I had traveled previously. But I must add the same can be said for the other 3 trips I’ve been on, so maybe Amalfi is my most recent trip, freshest in my mind!

CPS: The Amalfi trip was most memorable! The coast was spectacular, from the sea, to the vineyards and lemon farms. I especially enjoyed our private boat ride out to the Isle of Capri. We sat out on the front of the boat sipping Prosecco as our Captain took the boat in and around grottos along the coast, before cruising us into Capri as if we were celebrities! We enjoyed a diverse selection of sightseeing and hands-on activities. One of the biggest benefits of Onward Travel is traveling with a much smaller group. I never felt like I was being herded along in a huge group. All of our trips had a wonderful mix of people who enjoy adventure and trying new things.

What is your favorite memory from traveling with Onward Travel?

Cathy in a lemon grove on the Amalfi Coast. Nice shirt, Cathy!


JS: So many to choose from, but I’m going to say it was the boat trip to Capri Island. Everything about that day was perfect, the weather, the scenery, the fellow travelers, and the atmosphere on the boat to make it seem we were living the life of the Rich and Famous

CPS: My all-time favorite memory was exploring the lemon farm in Amalfi. It is remarkable how one family has managed to keep it going for generations, while changing with the times but retaining the authentic values and traditions of the family. Singing the Star Spangled Banner at the request of the Italian Nonna and Papa at the farm and then hearing them sing the Italian National Anthem was a sight to behold! The Amalfi lemons and people are amazing. There’s no other way to describe them.

Jan, what is your favorite travel memory with Cathy?

JS: Cathy and I hopped on a bus to take in as much of Rome as we could see in the limited time we had one afternoon. We enjoyed the sites, and almost missed our stop to get off the bus close to our hotel. We were in a hurry, we thought, and as we hustled to get back to the hotel to meet up with the group, we got turned around and really had to use both of our memories of landmarks to finally find our way back, just in time to meet the others for dinner that night . . . only to then be told we were an hour early!  Deep breath, go get cleaned up, and enjoy (a few!) glasses of wine until the REAL meet-up time!  We got a good laugh at ourselves for that close call!

Cathy, what is your favorite travel memory with Jan?

Jan on the boat to Capri.

CPS: We like to laugh about the time we had an especially handsome, regal looking chef who was attempting to give us a cooking class. He seemed to zero in on Jan (although she denies it). Every time he turned around to check a pot or add more zest, we would edge Jan closer and offer her as his only assistant. She earned the nickname Teacher’s Pet on that trip

Why do you choose Onward Travel?

JS: That’s an easy one for me to answer!  As a single parent since my children were 7 and 8 years old, I have been solely responsible for planning the family vacations. Onward Travel takes ALL of that away from me! I can see the itinerary, decide if it’s a trip I would enjoy, and send Molly a check!  Of course, it’s also all about the great trips Kat and Molly plan; so many places to go, so little time!

CPS: I love exploring new cultures and places. History is so much more exciting when I get to stand on the very steps of some place I’ve read about. Traveling with others adds dialogue and discussions with interpretations that I may not have thought about. But above all, it’s the serendipity of possibilities that will happen along the way!


Jan and Cathy’s personalities and pure enjoyment of each other’s company really show through in their answers. You can bet their future endeavors will be filled with laughter and many glasses of wine!

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