Friday, October 31, 2014

Weekend Getaway to Rome, Italy

Hard to believe it has been two weeks already since we spent a weekend in Rome! I tell ya, I was having lunch with a friend right before we took off for this vacation and were discussing our plans for the upcoming week and when the words "Oh, ya know just going to spend the weekend in Rome" came out of my mouth we both looked at each other and just took a minute to take in the fact that this is our life. We are lucky enough to get to live this dream.

Anyway, enough gushing...our weekend in Rome!

To see all about what we packed for the trip click here.
To see what we ate while we were in Rome click here.

We started off by planning with our friends we were meeting there. We booked a rental on Airbnb, we booked this particular location: Coliseum Artistic Home. The owner, Luis, was fantastic. He booked a car to pick us up from the airport which was a few dollars cheaper than a cab, and when we arrived he had laid out chocolate and champagne for our friends who were on their honeymoon. The place was exactly as we had expected we just had one less large towel, so it is a good thing I am small and took the smallest towel. The other thing was the 2nd bed was actually a trundle bed so that meant each night one couple had to sleep on separate beds...weird, but definitely not a vacation ruiner. All-in-all everything was as we wanted it to be...close to all the major sites and a lot of good food and wine ;)

Day 1

Arrived and changed, then headed out to check out some ruins. The first thing we saw was the Roman Forum.

Man, those columns!

Next we went on to walk by the monument with the fallen soldier.

I always try to grab a photo or two of the local flag of where we are visiting. Here you can see the Italian flag.

This is the monument which houses the Unknown or fallen soldier. It is guarded 24/7..It is funny though because during the day the soldiers are very stoic, but when we walked by late one night (after midnight) you could tell the guards were chatting and moving around a bit. When they saw us they stopped, but it was very cute.

Next we moved on to this area. I didn't write down the name of these ruins, but someone mentioned they believe this may be where Caesar was murdered....I can't be 100% but of the research I've done it looks like archaeologists believe this was it. Pretty amazing to think of the history that happened in this very spot.

After that we needed something a little less serious and we grabbed some food to go and a bottle of wine and sat in Piazza Navona for a little lunch.
This is Fiumi Fountain...or Fountain of the Four Rivers. We were lucky enough to gaze upon as we ate and caught up with our friends.

As we wanted to make our way to The Vatican we passed by the Pantheon.

This was hilarious...I took a few panoramic photos while there and our one friend kept saying, "Oh watch out, Kate is spinnin' again!" hahaha

This altar was stunning! When we go back I want to attend a mass here.

This was a place to light candles. It was right next to the altar of Jesus Christ. I am pretty sure this thing hasn't been dusted since the beginning of time lol The picture totally does it justice too, in fact I think the picture actually highlights all that dust. Do they not dust the Pantheon?

We then made our way over to The Vatican.
We just walked around the plaza outside. The line was ridiculously long and it was too hot to think about changing to pants and a sleeved shirt. I did think the stations of the cross along the tops of the buildings were amazing though. Very well done.

After the Vatican we walked over to an area that is really high is quite a hike, especially when you are tired...but we did it and we had some time to relax and managed to see a sunset.

I think this sunset was probably one of the best parts of the trip. Just relaxing and enjoying the city as it cooled off. There were a lot of people up there so if you just stepped back and weren't too concerned about getting photos it was very romantic.

We ended our day looking around and finding a fairly cheap place for dinner. It wasn't very good but we got to sit down so that is what mattered most to us! ha! When I say we covered the entire city that day I kid you not. Take a look at the city map and go East/West then South/North and that is where we walked. We were exhausted. 

Day 2
Since this was our last full day we were up {fiarly} early. We got dressed and went for coffee.

The coffee bar's here are definitely exciting. I could never have coffee that way every morning, but it was a fun experience going up to the bar and downing your coffee. I did have a stomach ache after though because drinking a latte fairly quickly is not the way to go haha But, it was fun watching the guys behind the counters pull the espresso and work in such a fast paced environment and keep everything organized.

After a delicious breakfast we had tickets to a tour of the Coliseum. If you spend money anywhere in Rome this is the tour I recommend you get. We were able to get access to areas you won't get to with just a basic ticket. We were able to go underground and see where they kept prisoners and whatnot. Very interesting. I just wish our tour guide spoke better English. Well, I shouldn't say that her English language skills were very good, but her accent was so thick it was impossible to understand her. We saw many other tour guides who were better though so we sadly just got the worst of the bunch.

The views from the top of the coliseum were amazing. It was such an amazing thing to be standing in the midst of all that history.

After the Coliseum we walked over to some other ruins that our ticket was good for and checked those out.

Horse training grounds.

Stairs to...

This thing of water...which was below...

This giant plant holder.

I forget who had lived here, some ruling body of some type. It wasn't quite as old as many of the other ruins, but old enough to be impressive!

After this we walked home, grabbed some wine and got ready for a night out.

This is the only picture I have from the night. We walked over to a less touristy area for dinner. We walked along the river and over a bridge and passed this amazing building along the way...NOT the Coliseum believe it or not totally looks like it though!

So, that is the recap of our trip to Rome! We had such a wonderful time. Now I need to run off and plan our next adventure!

Have you been to Rome? If so, what was your favorite part?

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

I cannot believe it is already October 31! How is this even possible?!

So, for Halloween I thought I would talk about Halloween here in Holland.

Funny enough The Netherlands doesn't formally celebrate Halloween on October 31st like we do. There is no formal trick or treating, dressing up in costumes, etc. We were able to find some decorations in a craft store. So this is how I decorated my table:

This is the whole table.
I started with a "bloodied" curtain I found at a craft store.

Then I flanked either end with these tomb stones.

Added a couple of candles (that can double for Christmas) and put them under some cereal boxes covered with chrome duck tape to catch drips.

Then I made the adorable orange pumpkin (so easy tutorial to come) and added a couple small white gourdes.

The wine bottle was holding M&M's but, well, with a house full of people those don't last long ;)

Last weekend when our friends were in town visiting we went off to the Keukenhof Haunted Castle. We had an absolute blast. Took us a little over an hour to get out there via transit and about 3.5 hours to get back!

The castle all lit up. The haunted parts weren't actually in here they were all through the grounds.

The scariest one for me. It was super creepy inside lol the actors they had were amazing! The kiddo and her friend went though alone and when they asked which way to go at one point they actually gave them a solid pointed finger for the direction, but when we (the older people asked) they totally screwed with us at first, it was awesome lol

About to go in, we go photo bombed by our friend and the guy just hanging around up there hahaha

Funny thing about this Haunted Castle..not so sure why I was hell bent on going. I do not like scary things. I hate scary movies, I can't even watch the Walking Dead due to nightmares! I am jumpy as all get out, but I think that is partly why I wanted to go. We had such an amazing time. Like one of my friends said, "It is amazing how much you can laugh while being so scared!" 

So this Haunted Castle only goes on for two days a year...they did a bang up job. The whole grounds were completely decorated and looked amazing. 

My only complaint was when they closed the haunted house lines at 10:30, 90 minutes before the place was supposed to close. Not sure the purpose there, I think it is a cultural thing that I will talk about in another post.

On the ride home waiting for the train. It was very chilly and windy so the girl huddled up together under our friends sweater.

So, funny story we didn't actually realize they wouldn't have extra transit going back and forth from the Keukenhof to the train stations so we were at the mercy of the evening bus schedule. Luckily they still had busses running late into the evening but boy was it an adventure figuring it all out!

Something none of us will forget though!

For tonight, one Mama from our school worked really hard to plan out a route of people who were willing to decorate their houses and hand out candy. Which is fantastic, but some of the teenagers decided to head off to Fright Night at a local amusement park. So much fun and makes it more like home for her.

I do know there are some Halloween parties happening at local clubs, but we were too lazy to put together costumes and stuff this year.

I will say it has been interesting not having the usual pomp and circumstance surrounding Halloween. This is the fist year the husband and I aren't really doing anything except for a romantic evening of couch cuddling.

How are you spending your Halloween?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Packing for a weekend in Rome, Italy in October

Our weekend in Rome, last weekend was fantastic! I felt really prepared for the whole weekend and think I am finally getting this packing thing down to a science now that this has been our third weekend trip.

When traveling, especially in Europe, I have found it is important to know a bit about where you are going first so do your research. In Rome, many of the churches-St. Peter's specifically-require you to cover shoulders and knees. Also, unlike where I am Rome is still very, very warm in October-80+ Fahrenheit. 

This is an overview of what we brought:

1 dressy outfit each for a nice dinner one night including shoes
Tennis shoes for sight seeing
Jeans to wear in to the church
Light fall blazer for me to cover my shoulders
3 shirts each
1 pair of shorts each
Personal items

Now, on our way there we chose to wear our dressy stuff as it was bulky and knew it would be hard to get into the small backpack we were carrying.

This was hubby's outfit:

Dress shirt, jeans, boots


Dress shirt, jeans, heels, blazer

These were our bulkiest items and basically what we wore home, just with different shirts. We wore the bulkiest stuff to travel in so we could fit everything we wanted for the weekend in our one small backpack.

These were the outfits I created while i was there:

Light weight breezy cropped tank, shorts, tennis shoes, hair in a bun and sunnies.
Hubby just wore his classic shorts, t-shirt, and tennis shoes.

On day two I wore thsi comfy ruffled tank, my shorts again (no need to pack two for just two days) and tennis shoes.
Comfy and casual. At any time I could have switched out my shorts for jeans and threw on my blazer to get into the cathedral.

This was my outfit for our one nice dinner out. I packed a high waist pleather skirt from H&M, a cold shoulder crop from guess, and my awesome leather heels with an ankle strap from a local designer here in Holland. They are insanely comfortable since they are real leather.

Hubs wore an embroidered collared shirt with jeans and his awesome boots.

The weather can get chilly in the evening since it is fall, but with all our walking we were dressed just right. 

This was a super easy wardrobe and really helped me to be comfortable and buzz all over the city with no complaints!

We used the Eagle Creek Pack-it folder and cubes like these:

Eagle Creek Pack It Folder

Eagle Creek Pack it Cube

These save so much room and allow us to take just one backpack when traveling for a weekend!

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