VENICE

Venice, Italy

For the 3rd leg of our Euro vacay we went to Venice for a few days.  Venice was so perfect at this point in the trip.  It felt, casual.

I felt like I was in some fantasy world in another time.  We would get lost in a maze of Italian architecture and there were canals and gondolas everywhere.  We had the best Italian food, at a local spot, run by an Asian couple, and went to a jazz club where Latin Jazz was the theme of the night.  This is also when my affair with prosecco began (and lasted throughout the rest of the trip).  Venice was amazing.

Venice CollageFirst Day:

I broke my sunglasses on the train, so I was on the hunt for a nice cheap pair for the next leg of the trip.  There were all these ‘street sellers’ on the first canal bridge and I started trying on a few pairs.  Next thing I know,  all of the people that were selling purses and sunglasses, grab all of their supplies in their blankets and start booking it!  The guy we were shopping from grabbed everything out of our hands and we were like, we’ll take that pair for €5,00.  Done deal, for about €10 cheaper than he wanted.  Hah!

We settled into our next B&B.  We had our own personal bathroom this time…score!  This place was more like a mini hotel.  Norman Bates ran this place and he was great.   But seriously, the hotel owner was named Marco and he was the oddest person, but also, super nice.  But definitely odd.  If I go back to Venice I will 100% find Marco and say hi.  I wish I had video of him, the jokes between me and J were nonstop the rest of trip.   Ohhh Marco…

Dinner in Venice

(View from our table.  To the right was the river/canal intersection.  No idea why we didn’t get a picture of that)

But anyway,  after we settled in a bit, we started scoping out trip advisor for restaurants.  We usually tried to find places where the locals go.  We like to avoid the “too touristy” spots.  This restaurant was at a river/canal intersection.  It was one of the best meals we had while in Italy and was owned by a really cute Asian couple.

Cafe Noir

After dinner, it was around 8 or 9 and the streets were pretty quiet.   We took tons of pictures and ended up finding this little lounge bar called Cafe Noir and grabbed a prosecco and well, lounged.   This was my first prosecco of many for the  rest of the trip.

Second Day:

Today was full on time to explore.

Venice Canal

Our main goal (in every place we visited) is always to just roam around and get lost in the city.  Our sub goals were to see the Grand Canal and San Marco Square.  We always have a rough idea of what we’re doing, but don’t get stuck on the details.

So we made our way to both spots and window shopped and explored other little areas on the way.  Did you know it costs €1.50 to use a restroom?  Like, WHAT?!  So usually when it was time to hit the bathroom, we would grab a drink or a bite so we could use the bathroom in the bar/restaurant…1 prosecco please.

Steampunk Masks in Venice

(Steampunk Masks)

Piazza San Marco

(Piazza San Marco)

Then we ended our night at this jazz club that everybody said would be amazing…and it was!  The band was so great.  The theme of the night was Latin, which just cracked me up.  Of course we would be in Italy and listening to Latin Jazz.

After that, we headed back to our place to relax and get ready for our next city.

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Have you been to Venice?  What was your favorite memory there?

♦ Stephanie

FLORENCE + CINQUE TERRE

Florence & Cinque Terre

Hey guys!

In this post, I’m heading back to a couple of months ago to talk about another stop on me and J’s Euro trip.

For the 2nd stop of our trip, we were headed to Florence for 3 days with an excursion to Cinque Terre on one of the days.  Our first train experience was pretty badass.  We got the Eurail pass (we’re still not sure if we saved money getting that or not, but I’m pretty sure we did), and when you use your pass you always get first class, which includes champagne (hell yes) and usually some food.  I decided that high speed trains are where it’s at and the U.S. needs to get on board with a sick high speed train system.  Why does it take 7 hours by train to get to Chicago from St. Louis when I can drive it in 5?

Florence

(Piazzale Michelangelo)

Anyway, we headed to Florence and walked from the train station to our B&B.

I’ve never stayed at a B&B before, and this place had 3 rooms and 1 bathroom.  I was a little concerned because I think I’m a little weird about bathroom privacy.  Like, I want one accessible to me at all times.  Is that too much to ask?  hah!  I managed :)

Florence Basilica

(Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore)

After we checked in, we pulled out the map our B&B lady gave us and started to explore the city.  She said you could walk across the entire city in 30 minutes.  I was pretty stoked about that after our infamous 7 mile walking day in Rome  (I don’t think I’ve ever been that sweaty in my entire life).

Florence Basilica

(Crazy angles with the selfie stick)

We started walking down all of the cute little streets, went to check out the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.  And continued to explore the city.  We ate some delicious tiramisu > > >  One of our goals was to try all of the foods each country was known for.

Then we went to Pizzale Michelangelo (pictured above).  This was one of the coolest most memorable things we did.  I love a great view and this spot gives you the most breathtaking view of the city.  It was seriously phenomenal and I would recommend it to everyone.

Tiramisu in Florence

(This is about as good as tiramisu gets)

The next morning, we were off to Cinque Terre!  Probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.

Cinque Terre

On day 2 in Florence we did a 13 hour excursion to Cinque Terre (meaning “5 towns” in English).  OMG this was the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.  When I go back, I would definitely plan a few more days here.  It was a super small and quiet beach town that was so unbelievably picturesque.  It recently became a national park.

Cinque Terre

With our excursion group we hit up 4 of the 5 towns using a boat and train to get between them.  If the water was too choppy we would have missed out on the boat experience, and that was so unbelievably beautiful.  We were so lucky not to miss that.

Cinque Terre

After lunch, we picked up a bottle of wine at one of the stores, walked a little bit, and found a few steps to just sit back and enjoy the view.  You could not find a bad view here if you tried.

Cinque Terre

(You can see our view from lunch (bottom pic), in my sunglasses (top left pic).  And some rocks we picked up from the beach to store in some little dish in our house)

At our last stop, we grabbed a couple of beers and just relaxed & people watched…lots of relaxing going on this day.

Beers in Cinque Terre

Just waiting for the train to pick us up…

Cinque Terre Flowers

Ciao Cinque Terre!

Ciao Cinque Terre

(Rocking my tour group sticker…word up)

So those were another set of fantastic days…up next, Venice!

♦ Stephanie

ADVENTURES IN ROME

Colosseum

Hey guys!

I am going to do a few posts about my trip to Europe.  I wanted to blog while I was there, but since we were traveling light with backpacks, we didn’t have anywhere to carry the laptop.  So I’m going to sprinkle in a few of these posts (with some pics of the different cities we went to) along with the more regular posts.

First off, Roma!

When I went to Loyola of Chicago, I spent a summer studying in Rome.  It lasted about 4-5 weeks and it was such an amazing time and I have the BEST memories from it.  So when me and J were planning on going to Europe I felt like we had to make this stop.  It ended up being our first stop and the longest.  We were there for 5 nights (I judge all lengths of time by nights, since that’s how I had to think when booking all of our rooms).

Rome Apartment

{The tree in our apartment’s courtyard and view from our bedroom window…We had to hand wash our clothes one night and hung them on the drying rack out the window like a little old Italian couple}

We used HomeAway here and stayed at this ladies apartment that was a 5 minute walk from the Colosseum.  It was a great location.  Just a little bit off the beaten path, but still in the middle of the action.

I can’t even believe how much we walked in Rome (…actually the entire trip was full of walking).  It was so fun to walk around and explore the city.  Oh hey, let’s walk to dinner…oh look an ancient ruin.  Oh look over there, that’s where Caesar was murdered.  Oh yea, this building is over 2,000 years old.

Walk some more…cappuccino.  Walk a little more…time for some wine.  How about some gelato?…are you ready for wine again?

Tiber River

Tiber River

And the food was fantastic…probably one of things I was most excited for.

Italian Food

{Caprese salad in Italy…J had the spaghetti and meatballs}

Roman Trees

{I had a slight obsession with the Roman trees  ♥}

Basilica de San Giovanni

{Those candlesticks were gold…and the bottom pic was just a very small section of that church}

And there were extravagant churches everywhere.  There seemed to be a church every corner you turned, and they were all ridiculously decked out with gold.  One of the church’s ceilings was made out of gold that was brought back by Christopher Columbus.  Kind of had my fill in the church department, I think I saw enough for a lifetime.

And a few days into our trip we bought a selfie stick…something we were initially making fun of until we realized the amazingness that is the selfie stick.  I mean, it gets kind of annoying to ask strangers to take pictures of you next to an ancient monument every 5 minutes.  And once we had the stick, we could get pics of us in front of some cool ass building without our heads taking up the entire picture.  That’s a win.

Rome Collage

So that was Rome in a very tiny nutshell…We took over 500 pictures here and many videos.  We were documenting the whole trip via iphone video, which was a blast to look back on because it totally captures the vibe of the moment.  I highly recommend taking videos of yourself : )

Where has your favorite place been to travel?  Any cool destinations on your bucket list?  I think my travel bug just exploded after being on this trip so I would love any suggestions!

♦ Stephanie