Thursday, September 3, 2020

Roma! The Vatican

 Sadly, we had to leave Cinque Terre which I loved...but we were headed to Rome so I was excited! We took a direct train there which was much better to not have to haul luggage up and down stairs to multiple trains. When we arrived at the train station, we took a cab to our hotel and then took the tram straight to the Vatican for our tour of the museum! 

The museum was INSANE. So many works of art, but even more people. And it was pretty dang annoying, not gonna lie. The huge tour groups were the WORST. 

I enjoyed seeing everything, but the groups put a damper on it. The Sistine Chapel was so inspiring thinking of Michelangelo doing the whole thing, but there was no reverence there despite the many signs to be quiet. It’s just impossible when you let that many people in. 

After the tour of the Vatican Museum, we headed over to see the Basilica, which I was so excited for. And it was amazing. And way less people! 

The Pieta was very moving. Loved seeing it in person finally. 

We didn’t realize that unlike everything else that required a reservation, you could just walk over to an elevator and pay 10 euro to go to the top of the basilica, and then from there you walk up a teeny tiny never ending spiral staircase to the very tip top of the dome. It was kind of claustrophobic but the view at the top was amazing. 

And we were pleasantly surprised to find an awesome souvenir shop at the top, with lots of nativity scenes! The whole experience of going to the top was so memorable for us. So happy to finally check off the Vatican on my bucket list! My art history loving heart was happy. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Cinque Terre!

 After Florence, we took a couple trains up to the Ligurian Sea to a place I have been dreaming of going to for years: Cinque Terre! Cinque Terre means “5 lands” for the 5 coastal towns that make up the Cinque Terre National Park. The quaintness and beauty of the towns was unforgettable. 

When you get off the train at the first town, Riomaggiore, the train platform is this view. Total heart eyes. So we had to haul our luggage underneath the platform, back up the stairs and up the hill to the town and then up the 3 flights of stairs to our cute Airbnb. There really was no way to avoid not having to bring all of our luggage, but my travel tip is if you can, don’t bring a lot of stuff!! It was so exhausting.

We hung out a little bit on our little balcony after that exhausting luggage ordeal ha. We had planned to do the hike that connected all the towns together (there is also a local train you can take), but after our Airbnb host recommended a place for a boat ride to see the towns, we were sold. It cost more money than hiking, but it was so relaxing, and so beautiful! And also fun to be able to jump in and swim a little. 
Beautiful Riomaggiore where we stayed:


And Manarola, which was my favorite. We stayed here to enjoy some yummy food at Nessun Dorma, the little cafe with this incredible view! 

Can you spy Victor taking another dip? 

It was such a dreamy day. So happy and thankful we finally made it! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Dreamy Florence Day 2


We had a nice full day in Florence the next day, but it didn’t feel crazy. Florence is small enough to walk everywhere so it just didn’t feel exhausting. Our first place was the Galleria dell Accademia, where the statue of David is! So apparently, Italy in June is insane tourist season who knew? Haha. Therefore the line to get in was crazy long, and we didn’t think to get reservations ahead of time. Luckily I had made one to the Uffizi for later, and I still had time to get one to the Vatican museum. Anyway. We had been waiting in line for an hour or so...still having a long way to go when a travel agent approached us that she had two cancellations. Sounds like a scam—which happens, so we were hesitant but we decided quickly to go with her, and sure enough she got us right in! So that was nice to not have to wait any longer! 

And I’ll be honest. The Statue of David TOTALLY lives up to the hype. It probably is the only work of art that has taken my breath away when I saw it. You turn the corner and see these incredible “unfinished” sculptures also by Michelangelo and then wow, there David is at the end of the hallway. So much bigger and inspiring than you’re expecting! 

Oh, David.

We went and walked around the Cathedral and checked out the baptistry doors (didn’t go inside since I didn’t think we would need reservations my bad. Good thing it’s super cool on the outside too). We also did a lot of shopping this day because Florence is AMAZING with local artisans and just a lot of beautiful things. I loved the shopping.

Bought a plate for my plate wall at this great shop where the artist was there and working on other stuff as well. 
Bought some cool handbound books with the specialty Florentine marbeled paper. Victor also bought some ties and shaving stuff, and I bought a nativity scene from the sweetest nuns. We could have bought a lot more stuff! Haha. 

Later in the day we had our time at the Uffizi Gallery! Such a cool museum. The building itself was so cool. I also liked how it was smaller and more manageable it was than the Louvre. 

There were several spots in the gallery where the cathedral would peak through and I loved it every time. 

This gelato was probably my favorite in Florence! We ate a looot of gelato in our time in Italy! 
We ate here for dinner at the suggestion of my cousin who had just been to Florence right before us and it was my favorite meal we had. It was so funny though because in our time in Italy, we tried to hold off eating dinner until their “normal” time which is like 9 or 10 but we never could! I think all the restaurant people thought we were weird for showing up for dinner so early but hey, there were never any wait times because of it! 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Firenze!! The first day

I was soooo excited for our next part of our trip. My first time to Italy! 

We flew into Florence directly from Romania, dropped off our stuff at our Airbnb and immediately started walking around the city. And it probably took less than an hour for the city to capture my heart. 
We stumbled onto so many gems in the city as we made our way over to the Piazzele Michelangelo (where the gorgeous overlook of the city is) First was the nicest pharmacy you’ll ever see in your life, at the Santa Maria Novella Monastery. The monks here invented Rose Water during the plague, and so that’s what I purchased. They sell all kinds of soaps and lotions, and the place is amazing. 
Just before I headed to Italy, I saw a news featured about a French artist that lives in Florence named Clet. He adds stickers onto street signs throughout the city and it was like a treasure hunt trying to spot them. Then we totally stumbled on his studio/shop and sure enough he was just hanging out so we got to meet him. That was fun. 

And then we made our way back to our apartment and made sure to make a gelato stop (one of many!) with pretty views of Ponte Vecchio. 
Man, I loved Florence so much. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

I can still recall our last summer...of international traveling

 Reeewind! Since I have so much to catch up on, and since we can’t travel much this year, I’m reminiscing to my last international trip before I got pregnant last summer. 

Victor got invited by his old boss in Oki to help out with a military exercise in Romania since his boss knew that he knew tech, and spoke Romanian. His boss actually said me and the kids could come stay the whole time during the exercise, but staying in a hotel for a month with them while Victor was working a lot didn’t sound very appealing. So I can out at the end of the exercise and met him in Romania for a couple days. 

It was great meeting up with him after he had been gone for over a month...and in our old stomping grounds. I love coming back to Romania. We stayed in Bucharest mostly, and I was impressed with all the revitalizing of downtown they’ve done. Lots of fun and artsy areas that weren’t there when I lived there. 

We made sure to visit Sora Gorzo, I got to see more people at church, and another person was visiting Bucharest the same time as us: the pope! He drove right past our hotel in his Dacia Pope mobile and it was fun to see him, and more fun to see the excitement the Eastern Orthodox Romanians has to see the Catholic pope? Haha,  but still a cool experience.

We only left the city once—a drive up to Curtea de Argeş and up into the mountains to show Victors coworkers the real Dracula’s fortress. It’s a cool hike, but sadly when we got there, the hike was closed because of bear sightings no! And then sure enough, we saw these guys on the road:

So we took the guys to the famous monestery in Curtea de Argeş. It’s like the Westminster Abbey for Romania. Lots of kings and queens buried there. 

We also had lunch up by this beautiful lake. The guys took a boat ride across to the dam...and I took a nap in the van because I was just so dang jet lagged even after a few days in country. It was crazy. Anyway! A great time in Romania. Excited for the next part of our trip!