Thursday, June 30, 2011

Roaming through Italy

After Venice we took a train to a little place called the Cinque Terre.  It is a group of five little cities on the Italian coast.  They are joined together by a pathway that follows the ocean.  Right out of a story book!  We stayed in a city called Rio Maggiore, which was all about rocky stairs and hills.
The entire city is built on the cliffs above the ocean, so needless to say...my thighs got a great work out. However, I didn't walk or hike enough to compensate for the Foccacia al Pesto!
The Cinque Terre is the birthplace of pesto, and wow! It was miraculous.  This crazy good beach side treat turned out to be my favorite food experience of the entire trip.  Mmmmm!

After a few amazing days in the Cinque Terre we took the train to Florence.  I thought Florence was so much fun.  It is a fabulous city with lots of great shopping!  We spent time wandering through the leather markets and picking up new clothing at H&M!
My friend and I climbed the Duomo to look out over the city.  We also got to see the David, which was so beautiful (no cameras allowed).

My one regret about Florence is that I didn't rent a scooter to cruise around the city.

Another train ride took us through Pisa where we saw the leaning tower.  It was very different than I had imagined.  Most of our time in Pisa was spent taking the iconic "leaning tower" pictures.  This was my best shot:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cities on the Sea

From Paris we flew to Venice.  Oh, it was so beautiful! Although we were only there for a few short days, I loved riding along the river and walking over the bridges.
My one piece of advice for visiting Venice...get a map.  Although the city is small, it is a crazy maze of buildings and plazas.  We ended up wandering for hours looking for a particular restaurant.  Whenever we asked directions we were told it was just over the next bridge.

While we were in Venice, we took a water taxi to the two neighboring islands of Murano and Burano where they specialize in blown glass and lace. I fell in love with all of the little blown glass figurines that were in each of the shops.  I especially loved all of the little ows (no surprise there).
I also soaked up all of the amazing colors in the buildings and boats along the rivers.  It was like a giant painters swatch book.  
As a group of girls we of course took turns picking out our favorite colored building to take snapshots by.  Gotta love the vibrant teal!


Monday, June 27, 2011

Versailles and Notre Dame

Forget the handsome prince (okay, don't forget him, but put him on pause for this fairy tale), give me a box of Laduree Macaroons and a fine palace at Versailles and I will be one happy girl!

Our day trip to Versailles was a high point for me. It was just a quick 45 minute train ride from Paris to the country escape of the French Aristocracy.  The palace itself was absolutely beautiful (and enormous!).  It was everything you would expect a castle to be.

Each room was lavishly decorated with tapestry wall hangings and gilded mirrors.  I could easily picture fancy balls taking place in the Hall of Mirrors.

The gardens were also lovely.  It was such a gorgeous day to walk along the perfectly trimmed hedges and topiaries. However, I can't imagine doing it in a corset and hoop skirt.

We also visited Marie Antoinette's estate on the property. It was an adorable "petite" house next to the palace.  I could have wandered for a full day along the paths!

I especially loved visiting the little Hamlet that she had built so that she could play peasant.  The thatched roofs and perfectly manicured gardens were delightful.  I was pretty sure that Belle from Beauty and the Beast was going to come out of one of the little houses singing at any time!

After we visited Versailles, we went to climb the steps at Notre Dame.  The view from the top was worth the 300 some odd steps it took to get there.  The gothic architecture of this church is absolutely beautiful.  I kind of felt like I was on the Disney sing-a-long tour all day!
I really loved Paris!  I definitely need to plan another extended trip to soak it all up again.  It was lovely! I am also super happy that I used my polarizing lens for these pictures.  I am loving the clouds against the deep sky, and I haven't even photoshopped yet!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Paris Part 2- Laduree

I think Laduree ranks as one of the most deliciously adorable places I have ever been. In fact, I loved it so much, that I am devoting an entire post to it!  Before arriving in Paris, we had heard tales of this delightful shop of delicacies.  We found this particular location close to the Eiffel Tower on the Champs de Elysees road (great for shopping).

From the time I grabbed the door handle, I was caught up in the setting of this fabulous bakery/restaurant.  Even the bathrooms were adorable! Our main goal in searching out a Laduree was to taste their delicious macaroons.  I believe I have mentioned my love for the coconut confections in the past.  However, the european macaroons are a completely different, although equally delicious sweet!
It took us about 45 minutes to get through the line to order our cookies.  The macaroons come in all different colors and flavors.  I believe the box of 8 came in at a whopping 12 Euros (about $18), but it was worth every penny.
The presentation definitely made eating these yummy delights even more enjoyable.  My favorite flavor was the caramel which had a gooey center.  Mmmmmm!

Ah, Sweet Paris! (Part 1)


After two quick days in London, we took the chunnel to Paris.  I completely loved this city.  The streets were so quaint and beautiful.  The architecture is so ornate and romantic.  It was such a treat to spend three days in such an amazing city.

Definitely among my Paris favorites was the Eiffel Tower.  We visited it a few times on our trip.  I especially loved it at night when it was all lit up.
We took the elevator to the top where you could see the entire city.  It was magical!
The Louvre was also on the top of my list for Paris sights.  The palace was so massive and beautiful.  I could definitely see myself in a place like that! 
 We had a great time imitating the art for our various pictures.  It was also very exciting to see the Mona Lisa. (You can see that everyone else was also very excited to see it because it was tight quarters around this work of art!)

Because Paris was at the top of my list, I am going to break up my posts a bit.  My two favorites from this city of LOVE require posts of their own.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Europe Recap

Well, if I learned one thing from my Europe trip...it would be my dependence on the internet.  It was a major change for me to be limited in my internet access and ability to upload and post to the blog.  I am excited to be back to full access now and to start posting regularly again.

Europe was amazing! I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to go and visit three very different countries.  I was hoping to be able to post photos for you along the way, but since that didn't work out so well, I thought a little recap of my favorites would be fun.  (Don't be too surprised if the majority of my favorites are food related :)

It may take a few days worth of posting, but I will highlight my favorite parts of each of the places I visited.  First, it was off to London.

London was very different than I imagined it to be.  It was far more colonial than I envisioned.  I think my favorite parts of the city were the very iconic places that I had always heard about.  Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace.

I also adored all of the red double decker buses and telephone booths on every street (unfortunately the inside of the telephone booths was not as adorable as the outside).

Chalk it up to being in the city with three girls, but my top stop in London was possibly Harrod's. (I realize this picture looks like I am a little scared, but I promise, it is my excited face!)
I have never seen anything like it. Floors and floors of anything you can imagine! It was truly an experience.  I would compare it to "Disneyland for ladies!" We had lunch at the Terrace Cafe and it was lovely.  One of my friends ordered a Croque Madame (grilled ham and cheese topped with a fried egg), which turned out to be very delightful! It was definitely my favorite food of London... although I am quite certain it is French.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Font Friday- Goodbye to Italy

My adventure in Italy ends tomorrow as we will head back to London for one more day before returning home.  What an amazing journey. This font reminds me of the rich, elegant history that Italy is full of.
Follow these instructions to download this font:
1. Visit http://www.dafont.com/italian-cursive-16t.font
2. Click on the “Download” button
3. Click “Open”
4. Select “Extract All Files” from the left menu bar
5. Click “Next” and continue through the extraction process.
6. Open your font folder by clicking on START→CONTROL PANEL→FONTS(double click to open folder)
7. Click on the “Italian Cursive” File that you downloaded and drag it into your font folder.  A box will appear saying that the font is downloading.  When it is complete, you should be able to access the font from all of your programs

Friday, June 10, 2011

Font Friday from Venice

I can hardly believe that one week of my trip has already flown by.  I am feeling very grateful for the opportunity to see more of the beautiful world and spend time with three amazing women. Of course, my camera has been attached to my hip throughout the journey.  This dingbat font will be perfect for my Europe scrapping when I get back home.


Follow these instructions to download this font:
1. Visit http://www.dafont.com/travelcons.font
2. Click on the “Download” button
3. Click “Open”
4. Select “Extract All Files” from the left menu bar
5. Click “Next” and continue through the extraction process.
6. Open your font folder by clicking on START→CONTROL PANEL→FONTS(double click to open folder)
7. Click on the “Travelcons Font” File that you downloaded and drag it into your font folder.  A box will appear saying that the font is downloading.  When it is complete, you should be able to access the font from all of your programs

Monday, June 6, 2011

From London to Paris

Wow! What an amazing few power packed days I have had. London was so fun and bustling, but now we are on to Paris and I must say...I am in love! This city is so beautiful and romantic. We spent the afternoon at the Louvre followed by the evening at the Eiffle Tower. Can't wait to let my feet rest for the night and then hit the city again tomorrow. Unfortunately, I am having problems uploading pictures from an I-pad so it will have to be words for now.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Font Friday-Europe, here I come

By this time tomorrow, I will be jaunting around England with three of my best gal pals!  I am so elated!  This trip has been a year in the planning and saving stages, so it is hard to believe it has finally arrived!  In honor of my voyage, I had to choose a fun travel font today.
Follow these instructions to download this font:
1. Visit http://www.dafont.com/sister-europe.font
2. Click on the “Download” button
3. Click “Open”
4. Select “Extract All Files” from the left menu bar
5. Click “Next” and continue through the extraction process.
6. Open your font folder by clicking on START→CONTROL PANEL→FONTS(double click to open folder)
7. Click on the “Sister Europe” File that you downloaded and drag it into your font folder.  A box will appear saying that the font is downloading.  When it is complete, you should be able to access the font from all of your programs