Cinque Terre, Italia

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cinque Terre sits right on the gorgeous coast of the Italian riviera in Northern Italy.
It's made up on the 5 villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. 
We stayed in the cute little village of Manarola which we loved!
The vibrant colors were my favorite. 
Whoever thought to paint all of these homes different colors could really see the bigger picture.
This is a very Catholic region so many of the homes have different saints or the virgin Mary outside their door with fresh flowers - making it even more colorful.

This was our first taste of Italy and we didn't waste any time trying all of the amazing food this area had to offer!

Focaccia bread sandwiches. As all sandwiches should be made. 
All I can say is thank goodness for the caprese combo of tomato, mozzarella and basil.
That combo is how a vegetarian survives Italy!

Amazing pasta! Probably the best pasta I've ever had was enjoyed at this restaurant in Cinque. 
All of the ingredients tasted so fresh!

And of course we had our fair share of pizza. 
Not only was it delish, but it also happens to be really inexpensive. 
So pizza everyday it was!

Then there's gelato.
This was especially a favorite of Derek's. 
I'm actually not a huge fan of ice cream (I know, weird right??) so gelato wasn't my favorite dessert ever.
But it was still yummy and so fun to try lots of different flavors!

The lemon slushies were much more up my alley than gelato.
Lemons are grown all over Cinque Terre, so you know they aren't flavoring these with the artificial stuff!
So delicious and refreshing in the warm Italian sun.

One of my favorite nights was spent on these steps right on the water.
We ate gelato and watched the sun set.

There are times when - if you are up for it - you can hike along the coast to every town.
Unfortunately this was not one of those times since some of the trails had been damaged due to flooding,
but we were still able to do an incredible hike from Manarola to Corniglia and just took a quick train ride to all of the other villages.

Sunsets here were really just the best.
I can't think of a better way we could've kicked off our time in Italy.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It seems appropriate to write about our time in Germany right now, 
seeing as how they just won the world cup and all!!

I wrote about part of our trip in Munich here where we visited a beer garden and the English garden.
Beer gardens are so fun, even for non-beer drinkers like myself.
It's just such a great way to experience German culture and people in a fun and relaxed setting.

^ biggest pretzels I've ever seen! ^
^ Love how this guy kept waving to us in the pic! ^

^ If you look to the middle-left of this pic, you'll see a naked man sitting on the lawn enjoying the sights. We saw a few naked people...must be a thing! ^

On our last evening in Munich we checked out Marienplatz, which is the main city square.
We were planning on a quiet evening strolling through the shops and restaurants only to find that the whole square was PACKED with people.
It didn't take us too long to figure out why.
There was a huge screen in the square showing a game that Munich's soccer team (FC Bayern) had just won.
There were people lining the streets, waiting for the team to come walk through.
It was crazy to see the pride all of these people have for their team!
It wasn't the quiet evening we were planning on, but it was definitely an adventure!

Paris Part 2: Biking Through The City

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Biking around Paris was one of our top 5 favorite things we did on our entire trip.
I LOVE going on casual bike rides and, let me tell you, Paris is the place to do it!
It was such a great way to see all the sights and maximize the time we had.

Paris has a community bike-sharing system called Velib where you can grab a bike and pay to have it for the day or by 30 minute increments.
There are bike stations every 300 meters making it easy to drop off anywhere when you're done.
Many cities we visited had these bike-sharing systems, but you could only use them if you're a resident of that city :(
In Paris, however, anyone is free to use them!

Derek was in charge of figuring out the Velib meter. 
It was a little confusing at first, but once you get it it's really easy!
He was carrying our umbrella in his pouch pocket which is why it looks like he gained 20 lbs in his gut :)

Derek strapped on his GoPro while we were biking for a bit and it was so entertaining to watch the looks people gave him.
I thought he looked pretty dang cute!

While we were riding we kind of stumbled upon the beautiful Pont de l'Archevêché (or love lock bridge).
It was quite the sight to see the millions of locks covering the length of the bridge.
We bought our own tiny little lock to 'lock our love', as they say. 
And also so a little part of us would stay in Paris!

Side Note: I read last month that the Pont des Art (a nearby bridge also covered in locks) had a section of the fencing collapse! Scary!
I'm not sure what will happen but I believe the city is looking for alternatives.

We continued our bike tour and headed down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. 
We felt pretty fancy.
We passed by the beautiful Notre Dame cathedral which truly displays French Gothic architecture at its finest!


You really can't go anywhere in this city without seeing incredible (and historic) sights everywhere!
The Arc de Triomphe is a great example of this.
There are cars driving all around it just going about their day.

We ended our fun day with pastries, of course.
Calories justified by all of the biking we did!
We could have spent weeks--even months--in Paris alone.
So we decided not to say goodbye to Paris, but 'see you soon'!

Fourth of July Recap

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I still need to post our Part 2 in Paris, but I couldn't skip writing about our fun fourth of July weekend!
I love fourth of July WEEK actually, because my birthday is on the second :) 
Then my nieces birthday is on the fifth. 
So it's basically a whole week of celebrations!

This fourth of July felt extra special to me.
There is nothing like traveling around the world (literally) to make you appreciate your country.
We saw so many amazing places and had the best time, but nothing compares to home.
It made me so incredibly grateful to live in a place where we have so much freedom and are encouraged to go after what we want in life.
America is far from perfect, but we try our best!

Other perks?
* You don't have to pay to use public bathrooms (ahem, Europe)
* There is toilet paper in public bathroom stalls (not so much in Asia)
* You don't have to pay for water at restaurants
* For the most part, you don't have to be afraid of drinking water straight from the tap
The list goes on and on!

Plus, this sweet little girl is in America!

We headed to Bakersfield to spend the weekend at my brother and sister-in-law's house with my whole family. 
They have a beautiful house, and best of all, a pool!
It is so hot in Bakersfield, so we got a lot of pool time.

I love how my sister-in-law made their home look so festive!

 I have the absolute cutest niece and nephew!

My niece helped me make festive little fruit and angel food cake skewers that turned out so cute and yummy.
They were so simple to make, perfect for making with a little one.

Later that evening we were able to see fireworks from their backyard.
It was so nice not having to go somewhere crowded, but to just enjoy them at home.
We also played with sparklers and tried our hand at making sparkler letters! 

All in all, we had a fabulous Independence day.
I love celebrating this special holiday with all the things that remind me of why I love this country so much.
Family, Food, and Freedom.