Monday, June 25, 2012

When In Rome....

For those of you who I do not know IRL, I recently returned from a two week trip to Europe. It was awesome, wonderful, great food, yada yada. .....of course, it was fantastic. Instead of boring you with hundreds of pictures and stories, I thought I would share just a collection of my favorites-places, eats, activities in case you are going or are dreaming of going. Which you should-for real.

This was my first time in Italy. Rome, specifically, and I have developed a serious crush. Like, I love her as much as I loved London. I want to go back, so if you ever need a tour guide who has marginal Italian skills, I'm your girl ;).

**Disclaimer: for those of you, again, who don't know me IRL, my list of must-do's may be different than yours. For one, I use a wheelchair, so some places are worth some extra effort to see-some are not. Second, I am not really a shopper (while on vacation ; )), so I won't be able to give you recommendations on where to get great deals or find unique gifts. In fact, my friends and family might tell you I am pretty bad at buying souvenirs!

OK, back to my list:
1#: The Colosseum.
This falls under the 'worth the effort' category. Once off the bus, we had to navigate some pretty gnarly pavement and cobblestone walkways to get into the old Gladiator stadium. However, once inside, you will be treated to some of the most beautiful scenery.
See what I mean? Amazing, and you could just wander around for hours exploring all the nooks and crevices. Go up to the second level and enjoy a really excellent view of Palatine Hill, The Capital, The Forum, and Constantine's Arch. Most of this is inaccessible to someone who uses a wheelchair, so this was a real treat for me. 

#2: Please, Please, this:
You won't be sorry. 

#3: Piazza Navona
My friend and I agree this was our favorite night of the trip. 'Piazza' is term for plaza, and it refers to large squares that serve as social centers for neighborhoods. We went for dinner at Piazza Navona at the recommendation of my uncle, and he was spot on. We spent about 4 hours there, visiting the street vendors, listening to music, people watching, eating a fantastic dinner and enjoying this fountain:

#4: The Vatican
We spent about half a day here. St. Paul's Cathedral is a separate pick of mine, but the Vatican Square and Museum should be your first stop.. It's a beautiful building, and the exterior is a gem on it's own. Catholic, religious, or's not to be missed.

#5: St. Paul's Cathedral
As a life long Catholic, this church was a  special experience for me. So much history, so many memories are held there. And, it's still a working church. Can you imagine going to Sunday mass surrounded by all this art? I would have a hard time concentrating ; ).
side note: Did you know that two former popes are entombed in glass coffins at St. Paul's? Seriously creepy, I have no idea who thought this was  good idea....
#6: Vatican City Perimeter:
I didn't know what to call this, but the sidewalk around the Vatican Museum was a nice little adventure. I found this nook:
In addition, you can find the Vatican City Post Office, where you can mail off a postcard or two with the Vatican City stamp, a nice little keepsake.

#7: Cheese!
A few cheesy self portrait like this one are ALWAYS on the to-do list.
#8: Do NOT overbook yourself. Do not try to see everything, and leave plenty of wander around time. We hopped a bus and made the effort to see see Trevi Fountain: 

Was it worth the effort? Not really. It was pretty, sure. It was way crowded, and we couldn't even sit down. We would've been happier taking in another museum or another piazza. Oh well, live and learn.

#9: Gelato. Do yourself a favor and eat gelato. At least once a day.
#10: Santa maria alle Fornaci. This hotel was a perfect for me and Tiffany, for many reasons. It was near The Vatican and the bus line. It was very wheelchair friendly. The streets surrounding had a few great restaurants and were easy to navigate. The rates were very reasonable and included breakfast! That is very rare and a great way to save money. 

#1: Etruscan Museum.
This little gem is filed under the 'wedidntknowwhattoexpect' category. It's located across the way from the main train station, and we had a few hours to kill. Also, I read a great review in my Rick Steve's Rome book. He said it was a little known, never crowded, but really great museum. He was totally right. The top floor had this really cool set up where they took an Ancient Roman house an set it up room by room, as it was. You walked from one room to the other and could really see the way they were used. I had no idea I what to expect, but I was thoroughly impressed.

#12: Coffee. It's strong, comes in tiny cups, but man is it good.

A few more pictures to wrap up my trip:
Marble floor. I want this in my condo ; )

Trevi Fountain

Church bell at the Vatican Museum

My view from the cab. p.s. Roman drivers are the worst.

Vatican Museum

Scary Ancient faces.
Thanks for coming by and I hoped you enjoyed my trip down memory lane. I'll be back soon with stop #2 on my trip: Geneva!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sabbatical...Sort of.

Hey y'all! 

I realize it's been a little quiet here on the old bloggity-blog, but I have some really good reasons. No, really, I do.

A few fairly large things have been going on in my personal life, and I can't wait to share a few of them with you! 

#1: I just got home from a two weekish trip to Europe. It was amazing, eye opening, exhausting, and left me wanting to go back-very soon. More on that in a later post....

#2: I have a new job! A few stars aligned, I needed a change, and so I made the very tough decision to change jobs. I've been at the same agency for 10 1/2 years, so as excited as I am, I'm a little sentimental. And nervous. But, that's a good thing, right?

On to the title of this post....I'm on a sabbatical, of sorts. My current job will not start for three weeks, so I have a little bit of free time on my hands. It's weird, you know? Three weeks to fill up with whatever I want. I decided to keep myself engaged and energized by making a few goals for myself to accomplish. I keep joking with my friends that on 'sabbatical' I am going to think deep thoughts and write my memoirs.....haha. The actual to-do list is a little less ambitious ; ) Really, I am just taking the time as a total gift-and I don't want to waste it.  It's just a list of creative and work-type projects I have wanted to dive into for a long time. A few places I want to visit made the list as well.

Check it out:

1. Call my grandmother.
2.  shop at  Tickled Pink, a thrift store in town that I've heard is fantastic.
3.  cook 2 new recipes
4.  Fix my iTunes mess-don't even think about asking...unless you are willing to come over and fix it ; )
5.  print/scrap vacation pictures
6.  finish wood painting
7.  fix canvas painting
8.  write up travel articles
9.  Update APSE site (work thing)
10.  blog about trip
11.  repair pants (really? I have to make that a goal? but-I have 4-5 pairs that are in desperate need of attention)
12. tie dye day
13.  make a purse
14. clean the boys room (the room with the litter boxes and all the pet supplies-gross)
15.  grill a meal
16. spend time at the Lakehouse
17.  fix pictures frames
18.  food truck lunch
19.  eat at Tom + Chee
20. finish online card class  
21. Visit family

You'll notice that a few have already been knocked off the list-I'm already into the second day, so I spent one day cleaning and fixing a few house projects/gone wrong ; ). I also have a few books on the nightstand that I want to tear into. Oh, and keep my butt off the couch and make full use of my gym membership. Really, I should work out every day, I mean, it's not like I'm too busy right?? I realize that I am extremely lucky to have this time, I hope I don't sound like I'm bragging...too much.

What would you do if you had a week (or two) of free time? I'd love to hear your ideas!

So, thanks for stopping by and hopefully I'll be able to share a few of the projects I make in the next three weeks. Stop by tomorrow and I'll share a few pictures from my week in Rome!

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