It's no secret I love to travel. I'm always planning my next trip. For me planning is half the fun. Anyways, earlier this year I realized that I had a Southwest Flight I needed to use before April. My husband is busy with work right now, so I decided to invite my Mom.
I searched where was an affordable place to go before April. While I would have loved to go to the Caribbean, it's obviously primetime there, so I decided I wanted to go to a city I haven't been to before. I settled on Boston, since flights were cheap and I got an awesome steal at a hotel (less than $100/night for a DoubleTree!).
I scoured the internet and put together a rough itinerary of where I wanted to go. My mom was just getting over an illness and I decided a few weeks before to give up alcohol for Lent, so I knew this wasn't go to be a "drinking" trip, which I wasn't upset about.
We flew out Thursday morning. The Sunday prior to our trip a major snowstorm hit Boston. While I was hoping for "warmer" (meaning like low's in 30's, high's in the 50's) for March (which locals said was normal temps for that time of year), that wasn't the case. We flew into 20 degree temperatures. I honestly had no clue how cold that was (Give me a break, I'm from the South and it rarely gets that cold!). We flew through BWI and our flight from BWI to Boston was on a Boeing 737-Max 8. I would say we were lucky to fly out the week before the flights were grounded, but I don't know if luck is the right word. It's a little frightening to read articles about issues with this type of plane. I do feel blessed we were spared any incidents.
After arriving in Boston, we dropped our things and headed to Harvard Square. Harvard Square was about a mile from our hotel. I was really hoping to be able to save some money and walk on this trip, but the cold temperatures proved to be too much for me. Luckily our hotel had a complimentary shuttle that took us to three central points. However, when we go there the shuttle wasn't due to run for a few hours so we grabbed an Uber.
The Harvard Square area was really cute and quaint. It was cool to be steps away from an Ivy League school. Can't say I've ever been remotely close to an Ivy League school. We strolled the square and grabbed lunch at the Russell House Tavern. This place stood out because the name of our student union at the University of South Carolina is the Russell House. I grabbed a bowl of French Onion Soup (mostly for the warmth) and split a burger with my mom. The food was good. It was quiet because it was a Thursday afternoon. I would love to go back at night and see the place come alive. We next stopped into a cute little boutique, where we got some tips on the area. Then we stopped into the bookstore before heading back.
Thursday night was quiet, as we were both exhausted and it was bitterly cold outside. I grabbed dinner at the restaurant in the hotel. It wasn't bad. I also realized that I could sit at a bar and enjoy a club soda and relax (no alcohol needed!).
Friday morning, I headed down to the hotel gym to try and complete the Crossfit Open 19.3 workout. The gym at the DoubleTree Suites in Cambridge was one of the nicer hotel gyms I've ever seen. I prefer when on vacation to not drop into Crossfit gyms and instead just do a hotel workout. Trying to arrange a travel schedule around a gym class schedule is really hard, so hotel gyms are great on the fly. The hotel gym had a C2 Rower and tons of dumbbells. Luckily all the workout called for was one 35 pound dumbbell and a 20-ish inch box or something to step up to. I found just that in the gym.
After my workout, my mom and I grabbed breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Unfortunately, breakfast was not very good and very much overpriced. After breakfast, we headed into town to start our day. I wanted to do the Freedom Trail, but with 10 plus inches of snow still on the ground, it was still a bit too cold to that. Our shuttle dropped us by the Aquarium, which is right near Faneiul Hall.
We headed to Faneiul Hall. Again, it was really quiet because it was a Friday morning. We checked out Quincy Market. Quincy Market is filled with little restaurant stalls. It reminded me of a HUGE hyper local food court. We didn't get a chance to eat at any of the stalls there just because we had recently eaten. We decided to shop a bit at some of the stores nearby. We stopped into a LOFT to try and find my mom a sweater for dinner. While there I noticed this warm jacket that I just had to have. The jacket was olive green (my favorite color!) and lined with fur (I'm guessing faux fur). It was certainly warmer than the coat I brought. I tried it on, it fit perfect. It was marked down to $40 from $200, so I scooped it up. I was lucky to also have bought some duck boots on Amazon for super cheap prior to the trip, which were a Godsend! (Here's a link to my Amazon store to buy them for yourself: www.amazon.com/shop/mooreaboutcharleston)
After switching into my new coat, we saw some Trolley Tour buses nearby. We decided since we couldn't walk Boston, this was a great alternative. It was $40 a person for two days, not bad. I figured we would spend that much just Ubering around the city. It was also good for my mom, since she was still recovering from being sick.
We hopped on the Trolley and enjoyed the narrated tour. The trolley took us to Charlestowne, North End, near Mass General Hospital, and then to Beacon Hill, where got off. I heard Beacon Hill was great for antique shopping, which I knew was something my mom would love.
My mom and I both loved Beacon Hill. It was just very iconic. We stopped into a few antique stores and found a place for lunch. We stopped into the Sevens Pub. The pub seemed like a great local spot (which I'm a huge fan of!). It was good to warm up and relax for a bit. I grabbed the Rachel Sandwich (turkey, coleslaw, Russian dressing) with Boston baked beans. My mom got a BLT. We both were amazed at how delicious this hole in the wall pub was. I 10/10 recommend this place and would love to go back. It just seemed quintessential Boston. The kitchen was at the bar, which I've never really seen before.
After eating, we wandered around Beacon Hill some more. While wandering, my mom mentioned how she was amazed at how upscale the neighborhood was, but also how much trash was on the ground. There were mini bottles and just trash on the side of the street. We assumed probably from when the plowed the street. Anyways, right after she stated that I looked down at the ground at the trash. In the trash I noticed what I thought was a $10 bill. It looked like Monopoly money honestly, so I was hesitant to dig through the trash on the ground to pick it up. Well, I decided what did I have to lose and picked it up. It ended up being $100 bill!
I felt this $100 bill truly was a blessing from God. I believe in luck, but I also believe in divine intervention. I believe God rewarded me with the coat that fit perfectly and was deeply discounted and this $100 bill for not drinking and for making good decisions with my life. I don't know, sounds a little crazy, but just my thoughts.
Anyways, below are some pics from the first half of our trip. Have to run, but more to come with part two! Stay tuned...
After spending five-ish lovely days in Munich, it was time to embark on the next part of our journey. Our journey was originally going to take us to Zurich, Switzerland for the day and night then off to London the next. We may have been over eager when planning the trip because after five days in Munich, we were exhausted. We re-booked our trip and decided to go straight to London. We booked a Eurowings flight that had a layover in Cologne, Germany leaving mid-morning. We didn't think much of it and thought we would be in London by mid-afternoon, we were wrong!
Our flight was delayed out of Cologne, then we spent a nightmarish 2 hours in line in customs at Stansted Airport in London. I 10/10 DO NOT recommend flying into this airport. With 100+ people in line they fluctuated between 1-3 agents working at a time. We ended up checking into our hotel after dark.
I'm a Hilton snob so I knew I wanted to stay at a Hilton. I book and un-booked basically every Hilton hotel in London because I was indecisive. I decided to use all my accrued points and stay at the DoubleTree in Kensington and I was glad we did. Kensington (yes, like Kensington Palace) is the most amazing area. The hotel was undergoing renovations, but nothing too drastic that interfered greatly with our stay.
After checking in, we asked the front desk where to eat. She recommended this Italian place called Rocca. We noticed it as we were walking to the hotel and it seemed like a lively spot, so we took her recommendation and went. The recommendation was spot on. It was a great cozy spot, with fresh Italian food and not overly priced. We stuffed our faces (since we hadn't had much of a real meal all day). After dinner, we ventured back to the hotel to grab a drink (PS according to my husband, the bartender makes the best White Russian he's ever had) and called it a night.
On our first full day in London, we venture to Kensington Gardens in the morning before stopping in to a Lululemon Sample Sale (coincidentally it was in it's last day that day). We racked up on some clothing. After shopping, we ventured back to the hotel to rest and drop off our stuff before heading back out.
We ventured back out where we explored Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. The weather was beautiful. We spent the day strolling around central London. After realizing how easy the Tube was to navigate we went back to our hotel to freshen up for dinner. We were hoping to find a rooftop bar for cocktails, but didn't have any luck. We decided that when in London, do as the Brit's do and grabbed a drink a corner pub in the Soho area. We chatted with some locals for a bit before grabbing a bite at a French restaurant and calling it a night.
The next day (Saturday) was rainy and cold. We got up and grabbed a traditional English breakfast at a place in Kensington. We then heading to Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guards. We got to Buckingham Palace and waited in the rain for 30+ minutes (with a crowd of people) only for them to tell us that the Changing of the Guards ceremony doesn't happen on Saturdays. (facepalm...but in my defense the website said it did). We ventured around the Buckingham Palace area and saw a ceremony involving the Queen's Calvary (horses). We then ventured back to Trafalgar Square. We had plans to meet my cousin (who lives in Oxford, England) for a play that afternoon in London. We had a few hours to kill so we decided to stop in and partake in the traditional English Tea. (Mostly because it was cold, we wet, and wanted a hot drink).
I had the Cream Tea and the desserts were delicious. We then headed to meet my cousin. She reserved us tickets for 42nd Street (the Musical). I've gone to a few Broadway plays so I knew partially as to what to expect, my husband did not. We grabbed some drinks and the show started. The play was good (I admittedly almost dozed off because we had a long day already, and I had a few glasses of wine).
After the play we went across the street to an Indian restaurant that came highly recommended. I am not a fan of Indian food (not a huge spicy food fan), but it was good. The service was excellent. After dinner, we had plans to do the Champagne Experience on the London Eye.
The Champagne Experience was actually quite awesome. It was nice to have a guide take and in the city lights with a glass of bubbly. We decided to do the London Eye at night because I love seeing a city all lit up. After the London Eye (which is 30 minutes all the way around), we stumbled into an arcade. There's something about an arcade, after a few drinks, that makes the inner child in me light up. We played for about an hour, spent about $40 on tokens, and I won enough tickets for a mug, which I later saw in a store for a dollar. Oh well, it's my new favorite mug.
Saturday was a long day, but amazing day. I was happy to see my cousin (who I admittedly only get to see once every couple of years!)
On Sunday, we were supposed to go to Paris, but our flight was at 6 am out of Luton airport (which was an hour plus away). We knew we weren't going to make our flight, so we decided to stay in London.
My husband read that there was a BodyWorlds exhibit happening in London so we decided to stop in there and see if we couldn't book tickets for the exhibition. (Online it said it was sold out for weeks) We walked right in and tickets were available. This exhibit (although not "touristy") was the COOLEST thing I have ever seen. It takes you through the human body and (yes this sounds morbid) but you get to see body parts and full bodies of deceased individuals. They plastinate them (look it up interesting process).
As someone who works out frequently and knows a decent amount of the effects of toxins on the body, it was incredible. It showed you everything, (I mean everything!). Let's just say everyone was anatomically correct and there was even a section behind the black wall showing two people "in position" discussing the birds and the bees. Everything about the exhibit was intriguing!
After the exhibit, I decided I may need to eat healthy. We opted for an Italian joint in central London. I had a salad and regretted it by the end of the day because I was starving. After the exhibit we rested. It was about 6pm London time, so 1pm back home and we knew the NFL games were about to start and wanted to catch some of them. I googled sports bars in London, and one appeared close by. We hopped the tube towards Chelsea and followed our directions to the "sports bar". Well the "sports bar" was next to the Chelsea soccer stadium. We quickly realized this "sports bar" wasn't going to be showing American football.
We walked back to the tube and headed towards Piccadilly Circus in central London knowing that we saw banners hanging advertising NFL. Surely there would have to be tons of places showing the game around there? Wrong! After walking forever we found no such sports bar. We asked the door man at the Ritz where we could find NFL (as we soon realize they call it). He pointed us to a sports bar. There were giant inflatables outside advertising NFL and tons of people inside. We thought we finally were in the right spot. Well, we waited and waited and waited some more for someone to seat us at a table or to just be able to sit somewhere. We tried grabbing a beer at the bar but it was packed. They had two other bars so we ventured towards those bars only be to be told they were "closed". Confusing, given the games had just started. The place was kinda gross inside and I was frustrated. We decided to give up on watching the game and try to get some food.
We ventured to another restaurant in Central London, but the service was awful so we left, again. By this point I am starving. Like I would have eaten dirt. We headed back to Kensington hoping to just grab a bite at the pub near our hotel. We ordered a drink and our food and sat down. By this point, I was wondering if I was ever going to eat again (a bit dramatic, but that was my level of hunger). My fish and chips arrived, complete with mushy peas. I'm glad we ordered when we did because we learned basically all restaurants quit serving food around 7-8pm on Sundays. I devoured my food and called it a night.
The next day we were due to fly back to Munich to begin our long perilous journey home. We had some time to kill before leaving on our night flight to Munich. We decided to venture back and try to see the Changing of the Guards again. We made it about 15 before the Ceremony and it was packed. We couldn't see much due to the crowds. The only glimpses of the ceremony were through people's iPhones and iPads (very frustrating!). After the ceremony at Buckingham Palace we grabbed lunch at Shake Shack (my fave) and headed towards Kensington Palace. We stopped at Kensington Gardens again and took it all in. We made it to Kensington Palace. We opted to sit out the tour (it was expensive and we were tired) and just explore the grounds. The gift shop inside is INCREDIBLE! So many royal gifts!
After Kensington, we headed back to the hotel and then to Stansted Airport to make our journey home. Our flight was delayed to Munich, so we didn't get into Munich until about 1 am. Our flight the next morning was at 7 am so we opted to try the whole "sleeping in airports" thing. It was okay. All the food sleeping spots were taken so we had to sleep in a little booth in the arrivals area. Our travel hack to not smelling awful? Bathe in the free perfume and cologne in the Duty Free shop....hahahaha. It worked. We boarded our flight and made our journey home (after another stop in London).
The trip was amazing! Everything I hoped for and more (even given all the changes in our original travel plans). I feel in love with London. Absolutely, 100% in love. Clean, beautiful city. I am already planning my trip back to London.
Here are some pics from our time in London.
After spending our first night in Munich at the Hampton Inn on the outskirts of the city, we ventured into the city to drop off our luggage and try to check in to the hotel we would be staying at for the rest of our time in Munich. We arrived at Hotel Bayers.
When we initially booked our trip, we were excited to have scored cheap flights to Munich during Oktoberfest (thanks to Scott's Cheap Flights). What we didn't realize until after booking was that hotels were incredible expensive during this time. We knew we wanted a hotel and not an AirBnB because you know more of what you are getting. While we didn't have a horrible AirBnB experience in Rome, it wasn't what we were anticipating. Hotels in Munich cost upward to $400 per night for a basic hotel near the festival. I was able to score a good deal on Hotel Bayers by pre-paying.
Hotel Bayers was right in the central part of Munich. It was right across the street from the Marienplatz (or city center). We arrived at Hotel Bayers and chuckled because it was sandwiched (no pun intended) between a Pizza Hut and a KFC. Were we really in Munich or just back in America?
We dropped off our luggage and they unfortunately (or maybe it was a fortunately) didn't have a room available. We had about four hours to kill and were both well-rested so we decided to walk over to Oktoberfest. Our hotel was about a 10 minute walk to the fairgrounds. It was a chilly and rainy Monday.
We arrived at the festival and took it all in. Since it was cold out (and we knew if we wanted to get into the beer tents, it was better to go earlier), we ventured into the Haufbrau tent. I had done some research ahead of time and knew the Haufbrau tent was pretty American-friendly and would probably be a good start. We ventured in. Took in the scenes, sites, and smells. It's a little deceiving when you walk in to figure out what tables are reserved and not. We found our way to the center of the tent where there were standing tables (like bar tops) and parked there. We ordered our first (of many) beers.
I was amazed at how lively the crowd was for it only being 11 am on a Monday. The band was playing, people were singing, and some were already pretty hammered. We heard English coming from the table behind us and decided to see if we couldn't make friends, knowing that perhaps taking in Oktoberfest may be better with more people. We met an awesome couple from Minnesota, Becky and Paul. (We liked to call them Marshall and Lily because Paul definitely reminded us of Marshall from How I Met Your Mother).
After having a few beers and pretzels at Haufbrau, we decided to venture out with our new friends. (By the way, two beers and I was pretty buzzed). The tents are massive and deciding which one to go to next was like deciding which present to open first on Christmas. We ventured into the "cloud" tent. It called the "Hacker" something or the other (that I can't remember). This tent was super cool inside. We downed a few more steins of beer and by this point the day was getting fuzzy. We laughed because we said we were only going to stop into Oktoberfest and by this point we had been there for well over four hours.
We stopped into one other tent were the four of us shared a table with a family (a Dad, Mom, and their two daughters who just graduate college). They offered us their "chicken" coupons. When you reserve tables at Oktoberfest you have to guarantee a certain amount of food and drinks per table. Obviously the family didn't want their chicken, so we took them up on the offer. The chicken was AMAZING. I was well passed done for the day too, so it tasted even better. By this point it was time to venture home as the tents were trying to usher people out to get ready for those who had nighttime reservations.
We Ubered back to the hotel (and I left my phone in the Uber). My husband retrieved the phone (after a big to do and tipping the driver 50 euros) and brought back Pizza Hut for me. I crashed. Needless to say, it was an interesting first day in Munich.
Our second day we decided to skip Oktoberfest (at least during the day) and venture to the BMW Museum, which we heard was a must do. The Museum was intriguing, very clean, and very modern. I'm not a huge car person, but even I enjoyed learning about the history of BMW's and the future for automobiles. I tried to get my husband to buy me a Beemer at the showroom next door, but he politely declined. After the museum, we headed back to the hotel to relax for a while. We decided that we hadn't had our Oktoberfest fix yet and wanted to explore it at night (and with a clear head), so we ventured back to the festival.
We actually checked out the fair part of this time. We grabbed a Moscow Mule at one of the cocktail stands and enjoyed the lights and sounds. It was super cold that night, but luckily, I had dressed as warm as I could. We opted to not ride any rides (while it looked fun, after a drink or two it could be a little too much). We ventured off to find some "fair food" and to explore the tents at night. We walked into one tent and it was completely packed. We found a seat at a beer garden right outside one of the tents. Luckily, it was heated! We, again in search of friends, started chatting with a Scottish Dad and his daughter. We had a few beers at the beer garden (and a 40 minute wait in line to use the restroom) and decided to explore again.
After drinking all the beer the day before, I desperately wanted a glass of red wine. We found a wine bar in the fairgrounds. We both ordered a glass of red wine, but it was atrocious. I guess that's what you get for ordering wine at a beer festival! I had heard about the famous Statue of Bavaria, and was eager to see it, so we headed that way, before calling it a night. We grabbed some "street meat" at the Mr. Schwarma outside of our hotel and packed it in for the night.
Wednesday was our last full day in Munich. We ventured out of the hotel and across the street to check out the Marienplatz. Unfortunately, Wednesday was a holiday for Munich so not much was open. The Marienplatz was surprisingly open and clean compared to other parts of Munich. After walking around and checking it out, we decided to grab an Uber to Dachau Concentration Camp.
Dachau is about a 20 minute drive from Munich. We heard that it was something you had to see and I'm glad we did. We arrived at Dachau (amazed at how normal everything around it was. There was a Home Depot and a Burger King less than a mile away). We stopped into the visitors center then went about exploring the grounds. The first part we explored were some of the cells. I believe it was considered the "medical cell" area. It is truly a haunting experience to say the least. What really shook me was how there were three very small cells that were considered "standing" cells. They were so small that prisoners were unable to sit at any point. I read that prisoners were kept in these cells for upwards of 72 hours.
Dachau is huge. Admittedly, the Holocaust is not as talked about in my generation, so I didn't know or understand a lot of the conditions that victims had to endure. It was truly eye-opening. We strolled the grounds and ended up at the crematorium and the grounds where victims were executed. This was extremely haunting to say the least. My stomach churned and it was a hard site to see. I'm glad we did because I feel like I know understand more of what victims went through and why it's important to see this and learn about it, so history does not repeat itself.
After strolling through the grounds and taking it all in, we headed back into the city. We grabbed a bite and beer at a beer hall in the Marienplatz. The beer halls are pretty identical to the tents (albeit a bit calmer, and a permanent fixture that are open year round). We ended up at the Hacker something beer hall. Again, our search for friends yielded us a fun group of guys (and one gal) from Sacramento. I ate some truly authentic (and carb heavy) German food at the beer hall and we decided to venture out with our friends from Sacramento. We ended up in a beer garden near the Marienplatz. This was the beer garden I had seen on many documentaries about Munich. I decided to give a Radler a shot (half beer, half sprite). I sadly, wasn't a huge fan, since it was way too sweet. We hung with our Sacramento friends a while longer, before calling it a night, knowing we had to pack up tomorrow and head to London.
,So if I am going to be dealing with hellacious jet lag, I might as well blog...right? Anyways, I'm 48 hours (as I'm writing this...who knows how long it takes me to post it) back from my 12 day trip to Europe, and boy was it an adventure! It was by FAR the best vacation I've ever taken! I learned a lot about myself and how to be genuinely happy again. I found myself smiling, laughing, and enjoying the moment more than I ever have before.
Our trip started Saturday 9/29. We drove up to Charlotte for our flight with a pit stop in Blythewood to grab lunch with my dad. We had an overnight flight from Charlotte to Madrid. We grabbed a few drinks at the bar in Charlotte. Soaked in our last few quarters of American football for a few weeks (more on this adventure later...). Met some fun people at the bar...then boarded up. When we flew to Rome last year, I was super nervous and had a ton of anxiety. I was happy to not have a repeat of this.
I slept off and on during the flight. Got a few hours sleep so I was able to function somewhat. We landed in Madrid about 8 am Madrid time (which was about 2 am back home). We played it by ear as to if we were going to leave the airport. We had an eight hour layover. We decided that we were surprisingly energetic so we decided to venture out. (Pro tip: see if there is a luggage storage facility at the airport, so you can drop your bags, we did and it was helpful (although a bit pricey)). We grabbed an Uber and headed into the Plaza Mayor.
I've previously flown into Madrid (when I was 19 doing a May-mester study abroad), but spent no real time there. I knew from my previous experience in Spain, that the Plaza Mayor was typically city center so just go there. We reached the Plaza Mayor, and stopped into Starbucks to grab some much needed coffee. The weather was GORGEOUS. Sunny and around 70 degrees (a huge relief from the 90 degree Charleston weather). We explored the streets for a little bit, just soaking in some sunlight. We made it back to the Plaza Mayor and grabbed some breakfast at one of the restaurants.
I ended up having a jamon and tomato on toast with coffee and OJ. It was good. It definitely brought back memories (that I thought I had forgotten) about my past experience in Spain. After eating, we decided to walk and explore some more.
We didn't do anything significant in Madrid. It was nice to see Spain again, since the last time I went I wasn't fully prepared for the trip, to say the least and didn't enjoy it as much as I could have. One of my favorite memories was passing a "Ale Hop" store. When I previously was in Spain (I spent two weeks in the Salamanca area) there was an Ale Hop. The Ale Hop had a HUGE cow in the window and served as the meeting spot for our group. It was cool to see this Ale Hop and the cow again.
After a few hours, the lack of sleep was starting to catch up to us. We headed back to the airport, to make it back in time for our flight. Once we got back to the airport, we had more time to kill. The Madrid airport is a lot nicer from the last time I was there. It is HUGE. We grabbed another drink at a very busy bar. Another pro tip for traveling in Europe that I learned: European airports don't assign gates until like 30 minutes before you board. I guess this is to encourage you to eat and shop more in the restaurant and to prevent people from just gathering and camping out in front of the gate. It's kind of annoying especially when you are exhausted because you just want to relax, but can't in fear that you might have to high-tail it across the airport to reach your gate.
The sleep deprivation hit super hard by the time we boarded our flight to Munich. The flight was one of the most miserable we have had, just because we were tired and had been traveling for now almost 24 hours. I was swollen from head to toe. We finally arrived to our hotel in Munich at about 7pm Munich time. We were a bit frustrated because they gave us a dirty room, so we just begged for the room next door. We showered and decided to venture out in Munich and see if we couldn't find a bite to eat.
We didn't realize our hotel was on the outskirts of the city. Luckily we only booked a one-night stay at the hotel because we had pre-booked another hotel closer to the city for the rest of our stay. We ended up reaching the Oktoberfest grounds as it was shutting down for the night. We got a good laugh watching the drunks stumble out. We grabbed a bite an Italian joint (I know first night in Germany and we eat Italian) right outside the grounds. We then headed back and called it a night (thankfully!) and I slept for nearly 12 hours, which ended up being a good thing!
Here are a couple pics from Spain.
My in-laws love to plan "family field trips". In the past we've done New Orleans as a large family and New York with just them and us. This year, my Mother-in-Law wanted to surprise my Father-in-law with a trip to DC for his 70th birthday. I guess when you live in Fort Lauderdale, going somewhere tropical in the winter is out of the question, so why not go somewhere cold?!
We arrived in DC early Friday morning. My Mother-in-law had everything planned down to the minute. We sat at the airport for two hours waiting on my in-laws flight to land. They also were flying with my Brother-in-law, Sister-in-law, and seven year old Nephew. The flight circled quite a few times and after sitting at DCA for two hours and on little sleep (we took the 6 am flight out of Charleston), we almost debated leaving. The flight finally landed and were were able to surprise my Father-in-Law.
We got into DC, checked into the Embassy Suites in Foggy Bottom and walked around the corner to Crossfit Foggy Bottom, to do the first of the 2018 Crossfit Open workouts. The staff at the gym were very welcoming (although it was weird that it was in the basement of a really nice hotel. There were men in suits and us in sweats.) After finishing the workout, we freshened up at the hotel, and headed out to walk around. The whole time we were in DC the weather was quite gloomy, but thankfully not frigid cold. We walked around the National Mall area, grabbed a hot dog on the street (because I was starving) and headed back to the hotel to relax.
Friday night we enjoyed dinner at the Old Ebbitt Grill. The restaurant is one of the oldest in DC and is near Capital Hill. The restaurant/bar area was quite packed for a February Friday night. We sat at a large table in the corner near the bar. The food was great. I had the crab cakes. We also shared a few desserts. After dinner, we were all quite tired and headed back to the hotel for the night.
Saturday we all got up pretty early and made the trek out to Dulles Airport to see the Steven F. Udvary-Hazy Center Air and Space Museum. I'll admit, I wasn't thrilled to make the trek out to Dulles on a less than ideal weather day. We got to the museum and my attitude changed. I have always been fascinated with planes. Everything about them fascinates me. The museum was definitely worth the trek. Some of my favorite exhibits were the Enola Gay, the Concorde (which I never knew existed), and the USS Discovery.
After the museum we headed back to DC. We walked the full National Mall, went to the National Archives, then trekked back to the hotel. In total we walked about 6 miles that days. We went to a nicer dinner at 1789. The restaurant is one of the oldest in DC. You can definitely sense the history in there. The food was okay. I'm never a fan of super upscale places with tiny portions. They made a cake for my Father-in-Law's birthday and it was phenomenal. Probably one of the best cake I've ever had. I brought the rest back to the hotel to eat, but didn't eat it that night and didn't realize I could pack it in my suitcase. The cake ended up getting left behind :(
Sunday morning we woke up and headed to breakfast at the Riggsby. The restaurant was located in the Carlyle Hotel. The food was good (although I don't recall what I had). The atmosphere was really nice. Definitely a very "Charlestony" restaurant in DC. After breakfast, we got our luggage and made the trek back to the airport and back to sunny and 80 degree South Carolina weather.
Sometimes life gets a little overwhelming and you just want to escape for a few days. I recently had the opportunity to escape the day to day routine and spend a few days alone at Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort. This was the first time I've actually gone on a trip completely alone. I was a little hesitant at first, scared I might get bored, but I truly loved being alone and being on my own time. I got to do what I wanted to do. (Obviously, since I have the luxury of working remotely, I worked during the day.)
I arrived in Litchfield Sunday afternoon. I arrived a little before sunset, so I dropped my things, poured some wine and walked down to the beach. The beach was about a quarter of a mile walk from my room. There are a bunch of properties on the resort including beach houses and condos. My dad purchased his condo in the Summerhouse section earlier this year. He bought it so we can use it as a family. The properties is also available to rent through the resort, so sometimes it can be difficult to snag the condo before it's booked, which is why I planned a mid-week trip. Anyways, the walk to the beach was nice and scenic. There is a walkway that takes you straight there, so you don't have to worry about walking on busy roads.
I arrived to the beach right in time for sunset. The sunset was remarkable! It was also a relatively warm Sunday for October, so I could still enjoy putting my feet in the ocean. I sipped my wine and enjoyed the solitude.
After enjoying the sunset on the beach, I went back to the condo, sipped some more wine and called it a night. I woke up Monday and went for a run on the beach, again enjoying the warm temperatures. However, I was promptly reminded Monday afternoon that it was indeed fall, as thunderstorms rolled in and dropped the temperatures. I hopped on 17 and headed up the Lululemon Outlet in Myrtle Beach to get some retail therapy in. I ended up buying a jacket and scarf because I was FREEZING. I then headed over to the Market Commons where I enjoyed a nice, quiet happy hour/dinner at Co. I have been to the Co here in Charleston and enjoy it; however, I wanted to try the Myrtle Beach Co because I knew they had sushi. The happy hour prices were great and even included some sushi rolls. This was my first time in the Market Common area of Myrtle Beach. It was so cute, far from the touristy Myrtle Beach feel. After dinner, I headed back to Litchfield.
Tuesday was a quiet day. What I really loved about the resort was they had a full Starbucks on site. (Not one of the janky hotel Starbucks that just serves Starbucks coffee, but a legit Starbucks). The Starbucks was just a few steps from the hotel. I also enjoyed swimming laps in the indoor pool. It was a fun change from my normal workout routine. I enjoyed a quiet Tuesday night, enjoying happy hour and dinner at Webster's (the restaurant on site). The food was good, old fashioned Southern food. I am eager to go back in the summer when they have the Tiki Bar outside open.
Overall, my experience was great. I am happy to have this as a place to go and relax when I want to. I love the Litchfield area. It's so peaceful and quiet. It's a great escape from the busy city that Charleston has become. It's only a little over an hour away, so it's a great little getaway.
Sorry for no updates lately. Work has been crazy, life has been slightly hectic, and all the other excuses I can throw in this sentence to make you believe I wasn't neglecting my blog. Anyways, I say life has been hectic, but really nothing big has been going on. The biggest adventure we have gone on as of late was a Labor Day weekend trip to NYC/Brooklyn. I had been looking forward to this trip since we came back from Europe. I love NYC. This was my 6th trip in 10 years. My 4th trip in three years.
I was super excited to see my best friend, Elizabeth, but this was also a "Moore Family Vaycay" as my in-laws were in town for a wedding that we all attended that weekend. Anyways, our trip started super early on a Friday (seriously I think we took the first flight out of CHS). We got into JFK a little after 8. Took the train (my first time taking the train from the airport) to our hotel. It saved us a load of money. Since our hotel was right in South Brooklyn, there was a subway station less than a quarter of a mile away. I would advise to really study the train system from JFK because it got quite confusing fast (and that was after I had already had the route planned). Anyways, we got in and were able to check into our hotel early. We stayed at the brand new Hilton Brooklyn. The hotel was quite nice, and it was one of the cheaper options (outside of a crappy Hampton Inn we were originally supposed to stay at in Manhattan).
Anyways, after checking into our hotel we hopped a train to downtown Manhattan. We were starved, since we had been up since 4 am. I spotted a Shake Shack at Fulton Station and hightailed it over there. I got to enjoy my first Shake Shack experience and it was worth every penny and more. After, we finished our breakfast/brunch, we tried unsuccessfully to meet up with my in laws. Finally, we were able to track them down and head up to One World Trade Center Observatory.
Let's be honest, I hate heights. HATE, HATE, HATE, HATE them. Anyways, my palms were sweaty, as we shot up 100 floors in 60 seconds. They played a movie in the elevator, which would have been cool, had I not been having a slight panic attack. Anyways, we reached the top floor, and omg, it was amazing. The views were indescribable. You could see every borough of New York, Jersey, the Statue of Liberty. Everything. I realized my fear of heights is only if I look down and not out. My mother in law made reservations at the restaurant on top of One World Trade Center. One of my favorite memories, is seeing my husband's face after ordering two Amstel LIghts and the bill was $30 before tip. You definitely are paying for the views.
Anyways, after lunch, we wandered back to the hotel, napped, and got ready for the Yankees vs Red Sox game. We met up with my friend, Elizabeth, at a little dive bar on the Upper East Side. We had a couple drinks before wandering to her place of work (she's a bartender, I didn't wander my drunk self into a random place of business.) We had a few more drinks and off we went to Yankee Stadium.
I would say the game was quite memorable, but that would be a lie. Let's just say I pre-gamed a baseball game a little too hard. It was fun, and awesome to go. I remember most of the game, and it went by fast. We pretty much just hung around the bars in the stadium. We bought a hat to show proof that we were there.
After the game, we went back to the Upper East Side and after a pit stop of buying dumplings at a random Chinese restaurant because I had to pee in their bathroom, we made it back to the bar we started at. After a few more drinks that I don't recall, we headed back to Brooklyn.
Saturday, I woke up feeling rough, but managed to throw on some Lululemon leggings and a tank and head to breakfast with my in laws at Tavern on the Green. That restaurant was breathtaking. Dinner at Tavern on the Green is now on my bucket list.
After breakfast, I prayed to God and everything holy to make me feel like a human again. He responded after a nap and a heavy dose of Tylenol. We headed to our friends wedding in Brooklyn. The wedding was a TON of fun. Great music, awesome food and drink. Overall (and I'm pretty tough on weddings, I only give my own a B+), I gave this one an A. After the wedding, we headed to the after party at a speak easy. We decided we were starving, and desperately wanted some NYC pizza, so we headed next door to a pizza joint, called Sizzle. OMG OMG OMG so good, and so needed. I finally felt human after going through the worst hangover of my life.
Sunday was a quiet day, met up with the newlyweds at a local Brooklyn bar, grabbed a bite, and jetted home. It wqs a fast trip, but VERY memorable (from everything that I can remember). Here are some pictures from the trip.
This time last week I was soaking up the sun at the Marriott Resort at Hilton Head Island. I joined my mom and my grandmother there for a few days while my mom attended the Municipal Association of South Carolina's Annual Conference. (For those that don't know, my mom is a Cayce, SC Councilwoman and is also President of the Lexington County Municipal Association. Yeah, she's kinda a big deal!) Anyways, I spent last Wednesday-Saturday taking a much needed break, while enjoying time with my family. Here is a recap of my little vaycay.
I arrived Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday night we had a pre-planned dinner with the City of Cayce and some additional colleagues at Red Fish in Hilton Head. Red Fish was amazing! First you walk in and you are surrounded by wine, which makes the wine-o in me very happy. We started by ordering some cocktails and apps for the table. My mom got to experience her first Moscow Mule (which I think she enjoyed). I also ordered the Moscow Mule and it was delicious. To eat, I ordered the Bronzed Mahi Mahi. It was perfectly cooked. Very light. The perfect meal for those looking to indulge, but still fit in their bikini the next day. For dessert, my grandmother and I shared the Creme Brulee and OMG it was probably the best dessert I've ever eaten. If I wasn't in public, I would have licked the bowl dry. After dinner, we went back to the hotel bar and enjoyed some cocktails before calling it a night.
Thursday my mom was in meetings all day so I hung by the pool and the beach. The resort is nice, but not my favorite. It could definitely use a facelift. (A little nip and tuck every now and then never hurt anyone). The pool was large and open. I loved that they had poolside food and drink service. The drinks were a bit pricey, but I guess you are paying for the location, not the alcohol. What I thoroughly loved about the resort is being to bounce from the pool to the beach with ease. The beach was right next to the pool. Only a few steps away and you were enjoying the white sandy Hilton Head beach. l loved that the resort was bit secluded so the beach wasn't overly crowded. I must admit, as much I love Charleston, the beaches at Hilton Head have our beaches beat. They are so much wider and sandier. Anyways, after spending the day in the sun, my mom, grandmother, and myself had a low key dinner at a restaurant near the resort.
Friday was kind of a lazy day. We all went to a luncheon hosted by the Municipal Association at the resort. The speaker was probably one of the funniest men I've ever met. He had me almost peeing in my pants at times. After the luncheon, we enjoyed sometime by the pool and then got ready for dinner. MPA Strategies and LandPlan Group hosted a wonderful Lowcountry Boil (aka Frogmore Stew aka Beaufort Stew) at Skull Creek Boathouse. The views from the restaurant were amazing. The food was just as good. From the BLT sandwiches and pimento cheese appetizers, to the Lowcountry Boil, mac and cheese, and the rest of the fixin's it was a beyond delicious. It was truly the perfect way to end this little mini vaycay. I enjoyed the sunset and called it a night. I was excited to head back to Charleston to visit with some friends who were in from NYC.
Anyways, here are some snaps from the trip. Hilton Head Island was a great little getaway. It was only a two hour drive from Charleston. It was nice to experience the beach life outside of Charleston and just relax and renew my mind and body for a few days.
I love recapping my trip to Rome. It makes me feel like I'm there all over again. (I know that sounds extremely cheesy, but it does make me relive the memories as if I am in the moment). For the second half of our trip we explored all the sites: The Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Sistine Chapel, among others. Here is part two of our Rome Trip.
Day Four (Sunday)
Sunday started pretty early. We wanted to try to hit all the big sites on Sunday because Monday was a national holiday in Rome and we weren't sure what would and wouldn't be open. Our day started out by grabbing breakfast right outside the Colosseum. I had a croissant and "Iced" coffee (which was nothing more than coffee with cream that had been sitting out, no real ice to speak of) and Zach had a coffee and something else. Anyways, I pinched myself as I ate just steps away from such a historical site.
Anyways, after our quickie breakfast we headed out to conquer the Colosseum. The one big thing we noticed in Rome vs the US is that efficiency and organization are lacking. We get to the Colosseum and there are lines going each and every direction. This was the one thing we had already pre-purchased tickets to. Trying to figure out which line was for what almost made me lose my cool. There are people everywhere selling guided tours and their "skip the line tickets". They are annoying and the LAST thing you want to do is engage with them, but we had no choice. We could not for the life of us figure out what line to get in. We decided to make it known to one of the tour vendors that we already had tickets and just needed to know where to go. He kindly directed us to a line. Chaos continued to ensue from there, but eventually we made it inside the Colosseum.
It was amazing to see and learn about how architecturally advanced the Romans were so long ago. The Colosseum looked like modern day arenas. Thinking about Gladiators fighting to their death was crazy! The Colosseum was probably one of my favorite attractions. It's hard to describe the experience.
After we exited the Colosseum, we continued to wander around the grounds. We found a cute church up a very steep hill. We wanted to get all the highlights in on Sunday, so we decided to start the journey to the Pantheon. The Pantheon was about a 2 mile walk from the Colosseum. But walking in Rome, as I mentioned earlier, was one of my favorite things to do. We crossed over a bridge with the Tyber River underneath, which was cool.
We FINALLY made it to the Pantheon. It was magnificent. We sat down inside and took it all in. We were chatting here and there. We forgot that the Pantheon is technically a church and you are supposed to be quite. Some not so friendly Italian lady came over the loud speaker to tell us to basically shut up.
After the Pantheon, we tried desperately to find a place to grab a drink and eat. After two not so nice waiters and restaurants, we finally found one. We ordered some beers and grabbed a bite. This place had an awesome view of a square. After our bellies were full and we had a couple drinks to relax us, we headed out to the Spanish Steps. Thankfully, the Spanish Steps were close to the Pantheon. Not so thankfully, there were literally thousands of people going the same direction. The only comparison I can make of the crowds is if you have ever been to Rockefeller Center in NYC around Christmas. Yes, it was like that! People everywhere! We made it to the steps, started the climb. You can definitely tell the altitude changes in Rome. Literally one flight of stairs, feels like you climbed a mountain. The temperature is cooler the higher you go. We made it somewhat to the top and stopped to take in the views. Looking down at the crowds was awesome.
The next thing on the list for the day was the Trevi Fountain. Again, not such a long trek from the Spanish Steps. Again, MASSES amount of people. I was most excited about the Trevi Fountain, but found it extremely underwhelming. Partially because I was exhausted by this point, partially because I was tired of the crowd and just wanted to have some space to breathe, and partially because it was pretty warm and I was in long sleeves and long pants sweating. We got to the fountain, but you couldn't get anywhere close to the edge due to the people. We decided after that to call it day and grab an Uber back to the AirBnB.
After relaxing for a bit, we headed back out to our downtown Trastavere area. By this point, my appetite was back and I was craving a burger. (Odd, I know. We are in Rome, I should want pasta or pizza). We found a nice little fusion place basically America meets Rome. We ordered a burger with Mozzarella, pesto, and tomato. I kind of filled up on the Bruschetta ahead of time and ended up only eating a few bites. I was exhausted. We decided to call it any early night and head back.
Day Five (Monday)
Monday was a Roman Holiday, essentially their Labor Day. We were unsure of what they city would be like that day, so we didn't plan much. We were pleasantly surprised to see that most everything was open. We didn't experience any inconveniences by it being a holiday. We slept in a bit Monday and had a slow start to the day. (After all, we really had nothing to do). We grabbed an Uber downtown. We wandered into this cute little bakery/restaurant. I had a Italian Doughnut of some sort and espresso. This place was so cute. Very authentic. You could tell it was a family run business. As we finished our breakfast, they were setting up for lunch. It appeared their lunch was a grab and go type lunch. They had whole chickens and such that you could purchase.
After our late breakfast, we decided just to walk around. We stumbled upon some interesting sites. We wandered in and out of a few churches, taking in the amazing artistry and architecture of each. Honestly, I really have no clue where we went and exactly what we saw because we just wandered. It was super relaxing and enjoyable. Again, I can't think of a time where I've spent so much time just relaxing with my husband with no bickering and no real fuss. I think we both enjoyed being out of our element and just exploring. We stopped in at a random restaurant and ordered a bottle of wine to split. We enjoyed our bottle and then set off to explore more.
We meandered our way to Piazza Navona (a place we were told by friends we needed to go). We wandered the square. Took in all the fountains and architecture. It honestly reminded me so much of downtown Charleston surprisingly. It was rather quiet and quaint. We figured what better thing to do on a Monday, then day drink. We sat down at another restaurant overlooking Piazza Navona. We ordered a bottle of Rose. We weren't quite hungry yet, so we just sat there and drank our Rose. The waiter was rather rude about us just ordering drinking and not eating. We ordered some bruschetta to get him to calm down. Once we finished our wine, we dipped out. Overall, the service in Rome was not bad, but people like this waiter give it a bad name. It was just off-putting.
We continued to wander around stopping for some gelato. We stumbled upon the huge statue and very governmental looking building with, once again, TONS of steps. We went up the steps and discovered this was where they had their Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There were two armed guards standing by it. We found out that this was the "Capitol Hill" of Rome. We found another place to climb and sit. We sat and just took in the views.
We continued our day drinking journey by going back to our favorite rooftop, Les Etoiles. We ordered another bottle of wine. The sky was starting to turn and it cooled off fast, so we high tailed it inside. We had a few more drinks before calling it a day. (I had a few too many drinks, admittedly!).
We Ubered back to the AirBnB. I fell asleep instantly. Zach wandered down to get us a couple of pizzas. The AirBnb didn't have a dining room table, so we sat on the floor and ate our pizza straight out of the box.
Day Six (Tuesday)
Tuesday was our last day in Rome. We set aside visiting the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel for Tuesday. Again, we didn't purchase our tickets ahead of time so we knew we would have to wait in line. We knew we needed to set out for our venture super early. We got up at 7 and were out the door by 7:30. We arrived at the Vatican Museums around 7:45 and the line was wrapped around the building. We knew the lines moved fast in Rome, so we didn't think much of it. After all, we thought, the Museum didn't open until 9 am. (We were wrong, it actually opened at 10, and ticket sales opened at 9...oops!).
As we stood in line, we chatted with this lovely engaged couple from NYC. They were fun to talk to. We talked about "city life" and basically all of their Roman adventures. We noticed the line was not moving at all, even after 10 am. By this point we had been in line close to 3 hours. Luckily there were snack stands all around so I got a snack so we didn't starve. We FINALLY got into the Museum around 11 am.
Navigating the Museum was tricky. As with everything in Rome, there was a million people everywhere we turned. We finally started our journey through the Museum. There were tons of guided tours and it was difficult to get around them so we would be stuck in certain points of the museum, unable to move to the next thing until the group moved. There were also so many small doorways and walkways. If you are claustrophobic, this is not the place for you. After wandering all the way through the Museum, we finally made it to the bottom. At the bottom of the Museum is the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel was extraordinary. I respected the no photos rule, and found a bench and sat down and took it all in. Literally, art everywhere you look. It was incredible to sit at such a seat of history. A memory I will never forget.
After exiting the Sistine Chapel, we decided to find the restaurant on site. The restaurant was actually quite lovely. Surprisingly they served alcohol at the Vatican, so we ordered a beer and lunch. (Again the server had a bit of an attitude, but we got over it. Thankfully, you don't feel obligated to tip in Europe, which made us not feel like complete jerks for not leaving anything extra). We enjoyed our lunch, and decided to call it a day and head back.
We relaxed for a while, then decided to go back one last time to our Trastavarian Square area. We found a nice restaurant (Grazie y Graziella). We ordered our last pizzas and reminisced on the trip. We decided to try and find that heavenly tiramisu one last time. We were successful in tracking it down. We ordered our last drinks and enjoyed the tiramisu. We were ready to come home, but sad that our vacation was over. It was a great end to an amazing trip.
Overall, I adored Rome. I would go back in a heartbeat. The only negatives were the travel time. Traveling back was a 20 hour day (because we gained 6 hours back). I hope that others have the opportunity to experience all that we got to experience. I recently read that 2017 was the year to travel to Italy and Spain due to insanely low flight costs. I encourage you, if you get the chance, to take advantage of the low costs and go explore Rome!
Below are the rest of the photos from our trip. Ciao!
So my husband and I have been back from Rome for a couple of days. What a dream vacation it was! I was happy to be home, but each hour that passes, I start to think about what we would be doing if we were in Rome right now. The city stole my heart. I love Charleston and old cities, so it came as no surprise that I loved Rome. Here is a recap of the first half of our amazing Euro trip.
Day One (Thursday)
Let's preface this with, we were able to afford this amazing vacation thanks to Scott's Cheap Flights. Part of the deal was, we had to fly in and out of Atlanta. Our flight left Atlanta to Charlotte at 11 am, so we traveled Wednesday night and spent a lovely evening with my Aunt Kim and Uncle John in Augusta (about halfway between Atlanta and Charleston). We woke up early Thursday morning and hit the road.
On the Tuesday prior to the trip, I came down with an AWFUL stomach bug. One that made me think twice about getting on airplane for nine hours. Anyways, traveling on Wednesday was rough and Thursday my stomach was still in knots (partially due to the anticipation of traveling ahead, and the fact I hadn't eaten anything of substance in 48 hours). Our flight left Atlanta and we landed in Charlotte. We had a 6 plus hour layover in Charlotte and were scheduled to take the overnight flight to Rome. The hours passed slowly. We ate (and drank, which was a horrible idea considering my stomach condition). We FINALLY boarded the flight, where a full on panic attack ensued. My stomach was still messed up and knowing I had 9 hours in the air made matters worse. A half a Xanax later, I was fine. The flight was long with little bits of rest between. My stomach hurt so bad, that I couldn't get comfortable. We finally landed in Rome early Friday morning. By this point, we were both delirious from travel.
Day Two (Friday, First Day in Rome)
We landed in Rome at 10 am (their time). Our arrangements to getting to our AirBnB fell through, and we were so tired that we got duped by a "taxi" person and ended up spending 90 euros to get to our AirBnB. We checked into the AirBnB and IMMEDIATELY passed out. We slept for a good 5-6 hours before deciding to venture out. Of course, we felt gross. We hadn't showered in over a day due to travel. I was still a bit under the weather with my stomach. We decide to try out the shower in the AirBnB. The shower was tiny. My 5'2" self barely fit. Anyways, we didn't realize that the liner had to be completely in the shower or it would flood the apartment. So with the liner in the shower, you had maybe 6 inches of room in the shower. The shower operated off of a gas heater. Zach took his shower, I waited a few minutes, tried to take one and there was no hot water. After an hour, I finally braved a cold shower and we headed out to find food.
We wandered around the neighborhood we were staying (Trastavere) and found a cool little pizza place. Had a few slices. I had heard about this amazing rooftop bar (Les Etoiles on top of Hotel Atlante Star) so we got an Uber and headed there.
That Friday was very chilly and rainy. We arrived at the rooftop bar and were greeted by an amazing server/hostess or who gave us a grand tour. The views of St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican were amazing from there! We explored for a bit, then sat down and had a drink. What I really, really loved about this bar is they gave you a plush blanket (in addition to heaters) to keep you warm. We enjoyed our drinks, and due to the cold, decided to call it day. We next walked over to this restaurant that was highly rated by our server. The restaurant, Ai Villini, was a cute, very typical Roman place. Zach ordered Oxtail and loved it, I just had spaghetti. The pasta was fresh (but I still had very little appetite, so we ate and called it a night).
Day Three (Saturday)
Saturday was the day we decided to dedicate to the Vatican. We knew the lines would be long (and didn't have a chance to purchase Skip the Line tickets before they sold out), so we headed out early. We got to St. Peter's Square at the Vatican pretty early. The line was wrapped completely around the square. We had heard horror stories as to how long it would take to get in, but since the Vatican was the only thing on our agenda for the day, we decided to wait it out. We got in line. I was still not feeling 100%, but knew I was getting better. The line went surprisingly fast. We finally got inside St. Peter's Basilica and it was breathtaking. We didn't do a tour, but instead took it in ourselves. It was crazy to look up at the Dome and know how much history was literally painted on the walls!
After taking in the Basilica, we set out to conquer something we were really excited to do, climb the Dome! It is roughly 500 steps to the top. We again waited in line for a few minutes, and got our tickets. Since I still was a little weak (I hadn't eaten a full meal in days), we decided to take the elevator for the first portion of the climb. That knocked out 200 of the 500 steps. We got off the elevator and our journey started. The steps initially weren't bad. They were wide, very manageable. Very soon, the steps narrowed and became a spiral. Poor Zach, and his broad shoulders had a hard time fitting. After a good bit of climbing, we made it to the top of the Dome. We had a full 360 view of the Vatican. The views again were mesmerizing. Literally worth the nauseatingly spiral staircases.
With a stop at the gift shop on the way down (because a trip to the Vatican wouldn't be complete with a post card and rosary), we made our way back out to St. Peter's Square. We stopped for a bite to eat at a place just outside the Vatican. It was okay, definitely could tell it was tourist trap. We decided to call it a day and go back to our AirBnb for a nap before dinner.
Our Uber driver told us about this lively area in Trastavere (the area where we were staying). We decided to get out and walk and see what we discovered. We set out on our journey. The aimless walks in Rome are truly what I will remember most. I can't remember a time in life where I've had better conversation with my husband. We walked and we talked. We eventually made it to the centralized area of Trastavere. Unexpectedly, I noticed a lot of commotion down an alleyway and decided to check it out. The alley led to a labyrinth of streets filled with restaurants, shops, and bars all leading to a large square. We found a cool spot, Gino51 and sat down. Our waiter was a nice, funny Italian man. We ordered a bottle of Pinot Grigio and an app and watched the people walk by. One bottle led to another and we enjoyed dinner of pizza and pasta. We capped off dinner with some gelato, and then meandered our way to a wine bar and ordered another drink and some of the best tiramisu the world has ever known (calories don't count on vacation, right?!).
To give you a backstory on this tiramisu, we sat down at this little wine bar. It was chilly out, so we sat inside. The place was packed. My husband orders this tiramisu. Some of the biggest fights my husband and I get into are due to me being somewhat of a picky eater. Knowing it would drive him crazy, I dug in. He anxiously awaited my response. I instantly blurt out, "it tastes like shit!". He was horrified. Of course, I was joking, and he saw that when I went back in and devoured the rest of the tiramisu. After dessert, we drunkenly stumbled out to get an AirBnb and go home.
Here are some pictures from the first part of our trip. Stay tuned for part two. Full of bobble-head popes and day drinking around Rome.
Haley Parler Moore
Charleston resident. Digital Marketer. Crazy Crossfitter. Bulldog Mom. Gamecock fan. Constantly clad in Lululemon.