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.
I promise! Life has been slow, yet busy lately. I love this blog. Even if no one reads it. It really is more of a personal outlet then anything. But not too personal, because I'm aware that what goes out to the public, will always be public. Anyways, here's an update on life lately.
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the Women in Philanthropy and Leadership Conference hosted by Coastal Carolina University. I've been to several Women in Politics conferences, but this was my first true Leadership conference. Let's be honest, initially, I only went to the conference because I badly needed a break from the office. The day was long (commuting from Charleston to Myrtle Beach and back in day, makes for a long day, any day). I took away so much more than I thought from this conference. I would not classify myself as a feminist, or one who is really loud about female issues, but I found myself really relating to each and every speaker. In my head, I was screaming, "yes, that is so me". Here are a few key take aways I took from this conference.
1. Never say "no" to an opportunity. Jan Fields, the former US President for all McDonalds, was the first speaker. She brought up this amazing point. I was over the moon, excited to hear a McDonalds exec speak. (If you know me, you know my very, very, unhealthy relationship with chicken nuggets, and McDonalds). Jan was remarkable. Hearing how she worked her way up from the fry cook to a President was awesome. Her sense of humor and sarcastic attitude made it even better. Too often, I get too scared, or too nervous to do something, so I find it easier to say no, then to do it. There are so many opportunities that I sometimes kick myself for not taking part in, whether its a trip with friends, or a job that I saw on a job board that I felt I was under-qualified for. Under qualification brings me to point two.
2. Men are risk takers, women are not. At one point during the conference (I believe it was on the lunch time panel) someone brought up the point that women often settle with their careers. Whether it's not asking for a raise and not knowing our worth (I am very guilty of this!), or not asking for a promotion or interviewing for a job because we feel we are unqualified. Women often don't take risks, whereas men do just that.
3. Women tend to work office-hours and feel guilty if they are not at work during working hours. Men will show up at 10 am and say "Yes! I am here" and feel their day has been productive. There is nothing wrong with having this sense of productivity. It's all about learning how to be more efficient with your time. I'll admit, many of these women are successful due to long hours in the office and lots of work, but learning how to be more efficient with your time at work, leads to better productivity, and, in turn, leads to a longer, better career.
4. It's all about the Pie Life. The last speaker was Samantha Ettus, author of the Pie Life. What is the Pie Life? It is that messy pie that makes up your life. It's that work/life balance thingy that the we all strive for. I don't have kids, so I don't struggle with some of the same struggles that many other women struggle with; however, I do have this work/life balance issue. Learning how to balance, work, my stringent health and wellness sector, my husband, my four-legged kid, my house, it's overwhelming. I've learned to try and balance, but still struggle when any minor thing comes up and interrupts my weekly agenda. Many days I get up at 5 am and go straight to my Crossfit gym, come home, shower (have no time to dry my hair), dash to work, and sometimes not leaving work until well after 6 or 7. I try to keep this in check, but it's hard when there are events after work that I desperately want to attend to, but know that I have to be in bed or have chores to do around the house.
Overall, I took a lot from this conference. One, never show up to an interview with wet hair (thanks, Jan, I'll be sure to dry it before an interview). Two, approach life for what it is, life. Things are going to get in the way. It's okay not to be perfect. It's okay to have a pie that is messy. Mine sure is. I'm learning to embrace the mess. Embrace the times with my husband that we ditch laundry on a Sunday and instead get out the house and go on a walk downtown. Embrace the mess. The mess sustains me. No one ever said a pie doesn't taste as good just because it's messy. Life isn't an episode of Top Chef.
All too often in life, we focus on the negative. The "drama", the gossip... I'm as guilty as the next. When people ask me how my day is, I often respond with the negative before the positive, if there is a positive at all. A week ago, I found myself down in the dumps. Nothing was wrong with my life. Everything was going well, but I just couldn't shake this sad feeling. The music I was listening to was awful. Break up songs, man-hater songs galore. The shows I was watching weren't much better. I was having racing thoughts before bed and therefore having a hard time going to sleep. I couldn't shake this crappy feeling. I attributed it to the "winter blues". After all, the weekend before had been freezing, making any Vitamin D hard to come by. I realized I had spent too long focusing on the negative and the negativity was taking over my life. I'll admit, when it comes to personalities, I am more of a Negative Nancy that an Positive Patsy. It's something I've come to realize and want to work on 2017. My husband told me a story about someone he knew that decided the best way to transform their thinking was to, at the end of the day, write down three positive things that happened that day. It didn't have to be too extravagant (no life saving stuff), and it could be superficial (example: I had a good hair day). I took his advice to heart. I've spent the last week focusing on the positives and mentally noting three positives at the end of the day. Some of them have to do with the gym (not going to lie, many of them have to do with accomplishments at the gym), some of them have to do with work, and some of them just have to do with the way I looked. (I'm not afraid to say sometimes I can be vain, and I appreciate myself when I have a good hair day or my outfit is on point). On Friday the 13th, one of my wins was just surviving Friday the 13th without something bad happening. This has helped me realize that everyday has a positive. Everyday has negatives too, but I am choosing to focus on the positives than the negatives. Focus on the lifts I make at the gym, not the lifts I miss. Focus on the compliments I get at work, not the criticisms. I'm not living on this space cloud where I think the world is perfect, Lord knows it's far from it, but I"m choosing to focus on the good. This is especially trying this week, given the nature of politics and the country. I am fearful the negative is going to come out on Friday with people in general, but I'm going to choose to walk on my own little ray of sunshine and cast it aside. Everyday I get excited to think about my three wins. After even the crappiest of days, we all deserve three wins.
One hundred days ago if you asked me the question "can people change?", I would have been doubtful. Doubtful because I didn't think I could change. One hundred days ago, I was battling a demon, that I only now realize was my biggest flaw. This demon controlled my life, was the reason for my failures, and was ultimately going to cost me everything I had at best, and at worst my own life. At 26 years old, I didn't think I was old enough to be an alcoholic. When I thought of the term, I thought of some lazy, overweight male, sitting at home drinking liquor all day with no job, no money. I didn't think an alcoholic could manifest itself as a 26 year old female, working hard to pay the bills, but blacking out every weekend and many times during the week. I chalked this up to still being a kid. A kid who was four years out of college, making the same mistakes I did when I was in college, but these mistakes had bigger consequences. I was putting myself in unknown situations, with no recollection of how I got there. People around me would whisper, but I wasn't deaf. I could hear what they were saying. I could hear them calling me "that" girl, saying how I was ruining my life, saying that I was going to get myself into a situation I couldn't get out of. I made some bad choices and I thank God, that I never had to pay the consequences for those choices.
Let's fast forward 100 days. Today I am thriving. Doing better than ever at my job, have a relationship with my husband that is probably at it's all time best, am enjoying a healthy lifestyle. How did I get here? I had to make the ultimate choice to get rid of the bad influences. Alcohol wasn't the bad influence, it was the people who I surrounded myself with causing this. I felt I had to keep up with a lifestyle. I'm not saying every person I hung out with was a bad influence, it was one in particular person. My husband gave me the ultimatum get rid of her, or get rid of me. It was hard. A decision in my blurry, blacked out state that wasn't easy to make .After one night of drinking, ending with my heart being completely black because of her, I decided, enough was enough. Getting rid of her wasn't as easy as just ignoring her in public. I had to change my lifestyle. I loved working out at the gym, but knew that was the source of many of my problems. With my husband's persuasion, I took a giant leap (and lift) of faith and joined a Crossfit gym. I've always been against Crossfit. I've listened to what everyone said about it. "It's dangerous", "the coaches don't know what their doing", "those people aren't in shape, they can't even run a mile". Boy was I wrong. I had so much confidence walking in the door, only be torn down immediately as soon as I touched a barbell. However, I found myself driven to do something. This same compulsion I had to alcohol, I now had for working out. I wanted to be the best. I learned to channel my energy into something positive. I didn't want to go to happy hour in fear of missing a work out, and I definitely didn't want to chug a bottle of wine after busting my ass in the gym. I'm not saying I don't touch alcohol today, but I have learned what drinking in moderation means. 100 days. Give yourself a chance. Whatever you want to change, find a way. Take a moment to look back 100 days from now and enjoy that sense of accomplishment. Crossfit has taught me you will always prove yourself wrong. For every can't there is a can and a will. I can't change, so I thought, but I did.
So we have been back from our trip to Mexico for about two weeks now. I've been excited to post this blog about our trip, however, life has been so hectic that I haven't really had a chance. So here it goes...
A lot of people have asked how our trip was, simply put, it was awesome. We arrived Friday afternoon to the resort. The travel was relatively easy and painless. As soon as we got to the resort we were whisked away to a private check in area for Hilton Honors members. We were given complimentary champagne at check in and our illustrious green wristbands. Green meant you were a Gold or Diamond Hilton Honors members. They were said to have more perks, but we didn't really see any perks. The first thing I did, was throw on my bathing suit and hop over to the rooftop adults only pool. That became our one and only spot. It started off slow in the mornings, but by the afternoons the rooftop became a party. It was a great way to meet so many people. Instantly, upon arriving at the pool, I noticed a Gamecock shirt. Being not shy in the least, I asked around to see who's shirt it was. Come to find out, it was a gentleman's (I don't remember any names from the trip!) from Sumter, SC who now resides in NOLA. We became fast friends with him and his friend. We hung with them everyday at the pool.
The drinks were amazing. Shout out to Ricardo and Javier at Hilton Puerto Vallarta for amazing service. Basically any type of liquor you wanted they had. Surprisingly, I stuck to Corona most of the time. I've had good beer, but something about the Corona was so cold and fresh. The strawberry margarita was great. The rooftop also had a sushi bar. The sushi was okay. I mean for free sushi, you can't really complain.
The resort was situated right on the ocean. We had an ocean view room. I loved waking up to the view every morning, sitting on our balcony and enjoying the waves. I was surprised to see how late the sun rose and how late the sunset. The sun wasn't fully risen until around 10 am and didn't set until around 10 pm. The sunsets were amazing. I have never witnessed anything so beautiful. I tried to witness the sunsets on the beach everyday.
My one regret was how hungover I was for two days on the trip. I took the all inclusive to the next level. I love tequila and had my fair share of it. We were there during the NBA Western Conference Finals. Being that Puerto Vallarta is an easy trek from Cali, there were a bunch of Warriors fans. We would watch the games at the Lobby bar, take shots, and just drink. It became quite the party. My saving grace, was I anticipated one or two hangovers, so I brought my favorite hangover cure, Excedrin Migraine, a long for the ride. That combined with the huge bottles of water they kept in the room, saved me. I wish they had snacks in the room so I wouldn't have had to sneak out in my pajamas to the restaurant to take food.
The food was okay. Not superb, but I'm a picky eater. By the last day I was craving some regular pizza. I lived off of the chicken nuggets and french fries, no lie. The Brazilian steakhouse by the ocean was by far the best experience we had. The food was amazing. (I had a snack not long before, and was stuffed, so I didn't enjoy it as much as I wished I could have). We should have made reservations again. The biggest advice I would give, is do not drink the water and try to avoid the ice as much as possible. My stomach started feeling awful by the third day. I persevered through the rest of the trip, but it took a full week before I finally felt better again.
We both regret not doing any real excursions. By the fourth day (Monday, which was also Memorial Day), we were itching to get off the resort. We took a cab to the Boardwalk. It was pretty. You could tell it had a lot of history. It was a very old Catholic, Spanish town with cobblestone streets. We wandered for a while. Bought some tequila to bring home, and then made our way back in the sketchiest cab ever (that I nearly threw up in).
Overall, we had a great trip. We have decided, that we may not be the all inclusive resort type of people. We like to always be up and moving. We are already starting to plan our Memorial Day trip to Europe next year.
I wouldn't necessarily call myself a "foodie" (so cliche nowadays anyways), but I would call myself someone who loves a good meal with good company. After a very rough week (to say the least) that ended with a Friday the 13th, my husband and I were trying to decide where we wanted to go to dinner. His birthday was the next day, so I wanted to take him somewhere special. We bounced around ideas for hours. It amazes me that we live in a city with so many restaurants new and old, but still do the whole "Where do you wanna go?" "I don't know, where do you wanna go?" thing for hours on end. I'll admit. I love Charleston and I love Charleston food. What I don't love is it seems like you spend well over $100 for a decent date night in Charleston. The cost of food and booze just amazes me. So on Friday the 13th, after endless rounds of back and forth, we decided on the OD, or the Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan's Island. We have been there once before and were very very pleased. I tried to make reservations, but knew that would most likely be impossible because it books up weeks at a time. My husband and I love to go places (even the nicest of restaurants) and sit at the bar and just chat with the bartenders. (After all, if I wanted to just sit there and have a quiet night just the two of us, we would eat dinner at home).
So alas, we get to Obstinate Daughter. It was crowded, there were no tables. What I really liked was that they have a waiting list for the bar seats. I like that you don't have to elbow your way into a bar stool. Also, you can grab and drink and take it outside. The weather was beautiful on Friday so we definitely didn't mind having a drink outside. It only took about 10 minutes and we were able to be seated at the bar. We looked to the left of us and there Darius Rucker was in all his glory celebrating his 50th birthday. I've seen Darius a few times before around town. He definitely holds a special place in my heart being a girl from Columbia and growing up on Hootie and the Blowfish. Also, our first dance was to his song at our wedding. The first time I actually saw him was two days before the wedding and knew somehow it was fate. Trying to act cool and like I'm at total local, I've never approached him, however, it was cool for my husband to share his birthday weekend with Darius.
Anyways, back to dinner. We sat at the bar, enjoyed a few drinks, including one very good Moscow Mule. Bantered with the bartenders (told them they reminded us of an old married couple). We started off with two appetizers. The first was a flatbread with butter bean puree. This was probably one of the best things I have ever eaten, seriously, no exaggeration. The flatbread was buttery and the butterbean puree had a nice touch of lime. It reminded me a lot of guacamole. We also enjoyed some mushrooms with sauteed spinach, topped with fresh parmesan cheese. Anyone who knows me knows I DO NOT LIKE CHEESE. However, this fresh parm was fantastic. These two apps had us full already, but we had to order a pizza. The last time we were there we had the Ranger. Since the mushrooms were topped with an egg, I didn't want a pizza topped with egg too, so we decided for the Moultrie. It was a mushroom and pepperoni pizza (my two favorite pizza toppings). It was as good as ever. We finished the meal with a piece of red velvet cake accompanied with a candle and some birthday wishes for the birthday boy. The bartenders also bought a shot of limoncello (my first time having it, and it was good). As we were leaving, they brought Darius' birthday cake out. I was in awe that everyone seemed to let him be normal. It wasn't like the whole restaurant stared at him or didn't let him enjoy his meal.
We left OD fat and happy (and really not that broke, our bill was only $100 for several rounds of drinks and all that food). However, I wasn't ready to leave Sullivan's just yet. The sun was setting and there was a calmness in the air. My husband and I decided to walk down to the beach. We passed Sullivan's Island Elementary School and couldn't believe how nice the school was. We got to the beach right as the sun was dipping below and the night sky was setting in. We were right in front of the lighthouse. We sat there and just stared out for what seemed like forever. There was something so peaceful about that night. Maybe it was all setting in how bad of a week we had and how much we had gone through. I sat there with tears streaming down my face, with my emotions as raw as the scenery. It was just a horrible, no good week, and I knew in that moment it was over. I was happy to put that week away and start a new fresh chapter. It was the perfect ending to a bad chapter.
I think I can file this as one of the best date nights we have ever had and hopefully one of the best birthdays he has ever had. I thank Obstinate Daughter and Sullivan's Island for making me truly remember why I love this city and why I chose to call it home everyday.
PS Sorry for the lack of photos, I thought I saved my Snapchat story and I didn't :(
As the days start to get longer and summer is very slowly approaching (I mean why is still 40 degrees in April?) my anticipation for our upcoming Mexican Honeymoon grows. My husband and I chose to postpone a honeymoon right after our wedding due to lack of vacation time at work, and other factors. (Mainly, we couldn't agree on where to go, he wanted Europe, I wanted a relaxing tropical destination). Fast forward 8 months later, we finally decided on the perfect destination, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. After working 18 hour days for three months straight (including weekends) I think he finally valued a relaxing vacation.
Why Puerto Vallarta?
We decided on PV because mainly it was one of two easily accessible destinations with all inclusive Hilton Resorts. We both saved up our Hilton Honors points from credit card purchases and from business travel, so basically our trip (minus the flights) would be pretty much FREE. It was between that or Montego Bay, Jamaica. Being that he is from South Florida and we both have been to the Caribbean, we wanted something a little farther away and more exotic. Plus the Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort has an adults only rooftop pool with a sushi bar. (How can you pass that up?!). We also both love tequila and with PV being the Tequila Capital of the World, again it was a no brainer!
This will be the first time we have been out of the country together. This will only be my third trip outside the US. (Second trip, if you don't count a cruise to the Bahamas when I was 16). Luckily my passport was still valid from my trip to Spain in college. Unlucky for my husband, his passport expired the month we got married. Now, we just have to cross our fingers and hope his passport makes it to us in time. (Lesson learned, don't put off getting a new passport, the Government doesn't care about your upcoming trip as much as you do).
Our trip is officially 38 days away and I couldn't be more excited. Stay tuned in June for a full recap of the vacation. If you haven't already, follow me and my antics on instagram @parlerh. I am sure I will be Instagramming the hell out this trip. Already thinking of hashtags as we speak.
Check out these photos courtesy of Hilton Puerto Vallarta's Facebook Page.
It's officially spring and I couldn't be happier. The city of Charleston officially awakens from the dead of winter. The first real "kickoff" to spring in Charleston is the Charleston Wine and Food Festival. This is the first year I participated in the three day bougie event. I volunteered Friday night at Chicken Shit Bingo. Chicken Shit Bingo brought out the inner redneck in even the bougiest of people. Basically chickens were put in a cage and literally shit on a number and if you had the number you won. The food consisted on several local barbeque chefs and was amazing. I sampled a brisket slider that was to die for.
On Sunday, we got to experience the main tasting tents. I understand why this is first a wine festival. Booze was a plenty. Lines were too. There was not much food to be seen. I ended up drunkingly devouring a pizza when I got home. Some cops did offer us a dozen donuts from Glazed as we left. (Didn't help with my stereotype that all cops do is sit around and eat donuts). Next year I think I'll save the money on the tasting tents and go to some of the other events. Overall, a good first experience.
Another reason why March ranks up there in my top three months of the year is St. Patrick's Day. Since I've met my husband, we've always found a way and place to celebrate our not-so-Irish heritage. (He's Greek, so about as far from a short, red-headed Leprechaun as they come). While I was in college, we would always go to 5 Points in Columbia. 5 Points is great in college, by great I mean if you like to be elbowed, pushed around, and watch drunk college kids vomiting by noon. Since we've moved to Charleston, we have been going to the Annual Park Circle Block Party. This year was our third year. Somehow this always turns into a rambunctious event, but at least around a more mature audience.
This year my husband surprised me with an early "birthday" gift, my best friends. He flew my best friend from New York down and my other best friend came down from Columbia. We had the absolute best weekend. After drinking all day at St. Patrick's Day, we went out Downtown. We went to Warehouse for apps and drinks, then had drinks at Macintosh served by my friend's fake "ex-husband" from college. We somehow stumbled upon a Bachelor party (minus the Bachelor, who apparently was sleeping off his day drinking). The Bachelor party soon turned into a tequila-fest. I can honestly say, I have never drank so many shots of tequila back to back. The Bachelor party insisted on going to O'Malley's. After we repeated a hundred times, that O'Malley's didn't exist and it was a new bar, we just went with it and took them to "O'Malley's". The rest of the night is a blur. I forgot the time changed and woke up at 10 am the next morning (really 9 am) confused as hell. The next day, I double brunched. Did my regular Triangle Char and Bar brunch with the husband, then went to Stereo 8 on James Island to meet the girls for brunch. I took my friend to a brief (due to the hangover) Second Sunday experience on King. Overall, the weekend was one for the books, however, my liver was glad to take the next few weekends off.
Here's a recap in photos of the month.
Haley Parler Moore
Charleston resident. Digital Marketer. Crazy Crossfitter. Bulldog Mom. Wife. Gamecock fan. Constantly clad in Lululemon.