After exploring Cinque Terre, we rented a car and spent a day driving through the rolling hills of Tuscany.
Forget Disney, Cinque Terre might just be the most magical place on earth. Stretching along Italy’s north-western coast, these five towns contained inside a national park, absolutely lived up to their hype. The inclines are steep if you’re hiking, but if you reward yourself with some fresh lemon slush or gelato, it’s so worth it. Colorful houses dot the cliffs and the salty Mediterranean is just a jump away. Hands down, this was my favorite part of our trip.
The water was so clear and blue and warm!
We watched the sun set over Manarola, perhaps the most famous of the five cities. Painters and photographers crowded the path as the sun sank into the sea.
“Italy. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see western civilization. It is such a happy place. Violinists and accordion players fill the streets with there beautiful songs. History practically smacks you in the face. You can barely walk 100 yards without running into something ancient. Laundry hangs from windows, golden light is around every corner, old men with white hair sit on park benches reading the morning news. Oh Rome, you are a dream.”
Our first night in Italy, we watched the sun set from the top of the Spanish steps, and ate pizza and gelato for dinner
We took a guided tour of the Coliseum – so incredible! There were 28 trap doors built under the floor, so the gladiators would never know where something would come from next.
Trevi Fountain and Manertime Prison, where Paul was imprisoned
Where chariots raced at the Circus Maximus
“Africa. It’s pretty crazy to step foot on five continents in five months. Africa is a sensory barrage. Walk through a crowded market street and you’ll encounter burrows pulling carts, motorcycles racing by, pedestrians window shopping, vendors vying for your attention, snake charmers, monkeys on leashes, not to mention the smells of the leather, spices, and food that are being sold there…”
Somewhere along the trip planning line, one of us – neither one of us is owning up to it- decided that Morocco would be a cool place to go. It was cool. For like the first two hours. And then I think we were both ready to be done. The heat, the noise, the smell, the constant pressure to buy things, quickly became overwhelming. Most afternoons we would return to our Riad exhausted, take a nap, cool down in the pool, and then work up the energy to brave the city to find some dinner.
One day, we escaped the hustle of the city and drove out to the desert for a hot air balloon ride.
After the hot air balloon ride, we went to a palm grove and rode camels. Although the whole experience was somewhat overpriced, getting away for awhile was definitely worth it!
Our last day we went on an architectural tour of the city, which was pretty cool too.
After our London layover, we had an overnight in the Venice airport and then on to Barcelona. Our cousins were in Europe at the same time we were, mainly to tour Scotland and Ireland, but we decided to meet up in Barcelona for a day!
We were there during Catalonia’s referendum to succeed from Spain, so there was a pretty heavy police presence, some demonstrations, and lots of people out voting.
Dan and I rented a car and drove from Barcelona to Espot to do some hiking at Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park. The drive there was beautiful.
We stayed at a hostel in the town run by an elderly Spanish couple.
The park was gorgeous. We spent the whole day hiking.
Because of the revolution going on, almost all of the roads going back into Barcelona were closed, so we had to keep taking detours. It wasn’t all bad though…
We spent our last night in Spain in Sitges, a costal town right outside of Barcelona. We could see the ocean from our room, and we ate dinner at a restaurant overlooking the coast.
I *love* London. I think it’s the fact that there’s history at every turn and I can understand the language. Or maybe it’s the bright Union Jack flying everywhere, the double decker busses, and the bright red telephone booths on every corner. Or because I grew up loving Sherlock Holmes and C.S. Lewis. Whatever the reason, I was so excited that when Dan and I booked flights to Europe for last fall, our itineraries had us meeting up in London with a seven hour layover. My flight was delayed (story of my life last year), so it ended up being more like a five hour layover, but we packed some of our favorite London sights in.
After we finished our media project at House of Grace, most of us (*ahem, Andrew and Abby*), flew to the coast for a few days to unwind and hang out before we parted ways. We ended up staying on an island about 2 hours outside of Krabi, in a fabulous Airbnb rental. We rented bikes to get around, ate amazing food, rode elephants, and took a boat ride to an outlying island for a day.
Last March, the whole family piled into two vehicles and caravanned out to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to meet Dan for a weekend of skiing. Our cabin was right on the lake, and we arrived to a beautiful sunset. Although the weather ended up being a little warm for skiing, we enjoyed playing games, and just hanging out together.
So, I’m obviously reeeealllly behind on blogging. This trip happened almost a year ago now. Last January, my friend Lydia and I decided to escape winter and hang out with some friends in California. Escape winter we did. The sunshine and sea air were surpassed only by the company we enjoyed.
We spent the first few days down by San Diego
La Jolla will always be a favorite place to watch a sun set
After we left San Diego, we rented a car to drive up to LA. When we got to the rental agency, they told us they only had sports cars left. What are you going to do?
LA traffic is everything people make it out to be. We probably spent half our time in the car, but we saw some pretty cool sights along the way.