10 Bug Bites Later…

Three busses, 2 trains, 3 cities, and many mosquito bites later, we are now in Timiศ™oara, Romania! Which means, I have lots of catching up to do. We had a very poor internet connection in our last airbnb apartment in Belgrade, so this was as far as I got with posting:

Attempting to load pictures onto the laptop while listening to some Game of Thrones with Connor on our little balcony :D

Attempting to load pictures onto the laptop while listening to some Game of Thrones with Connor on our little balcony ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, let’s back it up to where we last left off – Split, Croatia. So, like I had said, we took a pretty rough bus into Mostar (Bosnia & Herzegovina) and spent a couple days there. It was small (2 nights was plenty to see all that we wanted to see) but very interesting. There was the standard “old town” area (filled with cobblestone streets, shops selling all kinds of handicrafts, little restaurants/bars, etc.) which was quaint and enjoyable to walk around and buy a couple souvenirs.

IMG_1492

Can’t miss the golden Bruce Lee statue in the middle of the park!

IMG_1478 IMG_1480 IMG_1486 IMG_1510 IMG_1512 IMG_1514 IMG_1515 IMG_1517

The real highlight of our visit to Mostar, though, was walking through the aftermath of the Bosnian war. There are just SO MANY bombed out buildings and ruins – it’s really quite an experience!

IMG_1482 IMG_1484 IMG_1487 IMG_1490

 

By far the most interesting “attraction” in Mostar is the “glass bank.” It’s what’s left of an old bank that was constructed with huge glass windows that was completely bombed out during the war.

It's completely covered in graffiti

It’s completely covered in graffiti

And many of the floors are covered in broken glass...

And many of the floors are covered in broken glass…

IMG_1498 IMG_1500

Looking out from inside the bank.

Looking out from inside the bank.

Not exactly a heart-warming shot, but I found this needle tucked neatly away in a little crevice in one of the building's pillars. Clearly, locals have their own uses for the abandoned buildiing...

Not exactly a heart-warming picture, but I found this needle tucked neatly away in a little crevice in one of the building’s pillars. Clearly, locals have their own uses for the abandoned building… Needless to say, there’s a very raw feeling to it all…

Old bank records...

Old bank records…

IMG_1508After our 2 nights in Mostar, we caught an early train into Sarajevo where we also spent 2 nights.

Connor in the living room of our Sarajevo apt. It was quite nice - very open and bright.

Connor in the living room of our Sarajevo apt. It was quite nice – very open and bright.

Visiting one of the cemeteries in Sarajevo - nearly every grave's deceased date was within 1992-1995 due to the Bosnian war...

Visiting one of the cemeteries in Sarajevo – nearly every grave’s deceased date was within 1992-1995 due to the Bosnian war…

View from a lookout

View from a lookout

Bosnian coffee in Old Town

Bosnian coffee in Old Town

Behind me is the bridge where Franz Ferdinand was assassinated (and hence began WWI)

Behind me is the bridge where Franz Ferdinand was assassinated (and hence began WWI)

After our Sarajevo stint, we caught another bus and slowly made our way to Belgrade (Serbia). We had a few nights in Belgrade, and we really enjoyed our stay there. We stayed in a nice small, apartment in the city center and did a ton of walking while taking in all the sights….

Connor on our balcony

Connor on our balcony

Touring around the Belgrade fort...

Touring around the Belgrade fort…

IMG_1576 IMG_1578 IMG_1579 IMG_1582 IMG_1584 IMG_1585 IMG_1587 IMG_1589 IMG_1591 IMG_1593 IMG_1599

Connor by the medieval sporting grounds

Connor by the medieval sporting grounds

IMG_1552 IMG_1550 IMG_1547 IMG_1540 IMG_1539

Man practicing his medieval sporting skills (axe throwing) outside the Belgrade fort

Man practicing his medieval sporting skills (axe throwing) outside the Belgrade fort

IMG_1534

2 girls can use the bathroom at once! Cuts down on lines a bit, I guess...

2 girls can use the bathroom at once! Cuts down on lines a bit, I guess…

Creepy underground passage to get to our supermarket.

Creepy underground passage to get to our supermarket.

We ate plenty

IMG_1556 IMG_1558

The Danube!

The Danube!

We even took in some culture and went to the Serbian ballet performance of Peter Pan :D ($2/ticket!)

We even took in some culture and went to the Serbian ballet performance of Peter Pan ๐Ÿ˜€ ($2/ticket!)

Connor got in touch with his electrical engineering roots during our visit to the Tesla Museum

Connor got in touch with his electrical engineering roots during our visit to the Tesla Museum

IMG_1619

Killing a little time while waiting for our bus from Sarajevo to Vrsac...

Killing a little time while waiting for our bus from Sarajevo to Vrsac…

From Vrsac, we took a train into Timiศ™oara, and we are here for 2 nights. Basically for the next week or so we begin our trek into Dracula country, and I’m so excited ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Back to the Grind…

Welp, we are now in Mostar (Bosnia & Herzegovina) after a sweltering day in Split (with our ginormous backpacks in tow – that certainly didn’t help matters but it couldn’t be avoided as we were killing a few hours til our bus departed…) and a 4.5 hour beastly roller coaster bus ride along the Croatian coast. It wasn’t a walk through the park but we were greeted at the bus station by Teo, our Mostar airbnb host for the next couple days, and had a nice end to the day with some welcome-to-Mostar-shots of homemade liquor (that’s how they do things around here apparently… Too bad I’m a grandma and pretty much immediately went to bed right after :/) Anyway, we are hoping for a solid day of hiking and exploring around the town of Mostar tomorrow before heading to Sarajevo on Monday morning.

In the meantime, I figured I’d catch everyone up on what Connor and I did the past week. Truthfully, it wasn’t much and can be summed up rather quickly. Nonetheless, I want to share ๐Ÿ™‚

I exercised each morning (Go, me!)

Connor and I watched copious amounts of “Internet tv” (Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Netflix, etc.)

And this:

20130622-224816.jpg

20130622-224951.jpg

20130622-225014.jpg

20130622-225116.jpg

It was glorious and I couldn’t help feeling like I must be stupid to leave that place… Ah well, onward toward our next adventure ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Croatia, the Land of Rock…

Seriously! There are mountains (of rock), hiking trails consisting of rock paths, buildings/churches/walls made of rock (ok, stone…), there are even construction workers around here to split big hunks of rock with a hammer! Fortunately, there are some nice beaches (rock beaches, mind you) and pretty views to make up for the immense quantities of rock in this country.

We arrived in Dubrovnik last Tuesday (so, one week ago today) and stayed 2 nights in the Old Town. Two nights turned out to beย plenty seeing as how much of a touristy town Dubrovnik is (cruise ships pull in each day with hoards of people, so it gets pretty packed inside the Old Town city walls). Still there were some cool spots to check out and we enjoyed ourselves ๐Ÿ˜€ Not to mention, it was a very nice change of pace to arrive in Croatia and to be greeted by so much ENGLISH!

We arrived before our airbnb spot was ready, so we killed a couple hours by grabbing lunch... and ice cream may have been involved :D

We arrived before our airbnb spot was ready, so we killed a couple hours by grabbing lunch… and some ice cream may have been involved ๐Ÿ˜€

The street where our airbnb studio was located..

The street where our airbnb studio was located…

Dubrovnik digs

Dubrovnik digs

After a nap and some solid chill-time, we did a little exploring before dinner...

After a nap and some solid chill-time, we did a little exploring before dinner…

IMG_1271

Connor found a vegetarian restaurant that turned out to be excellent! I opted for the burritos…

IMG_1261 IMG_1263 IMG_1265 IMG_1267 IMG_1273 IMG_1274

Our second day in Dubrovnik we took advantage of some nearby hiking up the mountain to a fortress and also along the Old Town city walls, which was really great.

Hiking up the rock path on the rock mountain (Connor proved to be more sure-footed than I was and completely kicked my butt on the way up!)

Hiking up the rock path on the rock mountain (Connor proved to be more sure-footed than I was and completely kicked my butt on the way up!)

He was admittedly tired and sweaty afterwards at the top too, though :P

He was admittedly tired and sweaty afterwards at the top too, though ๐Ÿ˜›

Stations of the cross on the way up the mountain..

Stations of the cross on the way up the mountain..

Atop the city walls surrounding Old Town...

Atop the city walls surrounding Old Town…

IMG_1300 IMG_1302 IMG_1304 IMG_1306 IMG_1308 IMG_1310 IMG_1317 IMG_1318 IMG_1321Not surprisingly, after our day of traipsing around outside, I was famished! Connor found a Bosnian restaurant for us to try and it was quite good!

Get in my belly, soup!

Get in my belly, soup!

Oh! I mean, "Cheese!"

Oh! I mean, “Cheese!”

I honestly don't recall what exactly these two items were, but there were very tasty!

I honestly don’t recall what exactly these two items were, but there were very tasty!

The next morning, we had a rather harried experience while trying to make our morning ferry to Hvar (read: We underestimated how long it’d take us to get movin’ in the morning, so we missed the first bus to the ferry port. Thenย we missed our stop on the second bus sooooย weย had to run a good 1/2 mile with our giant backpacksย back to the ferry port, flail about frantically trying to find where to buy ferry tickets and then dash up the ferry staircase. It was something short of a miracle we didn’t miss that boat. We literally had about 20 seconds to spare!). On the plus side, we got some unintended cardio in first thing that morningย and the 8 hour ferry ride to Hvar proved to be quite relaxing and enjoyable ๐Ÿ˜€

Our ferry, the Jadrolinija

Our ferry, the Jadrolinija

Beautiful sunny weather the entire way!

Beautiful sunny weather the entire way!

We arrived in Hvar (Croatian island) around 4:30pm and were pleasantly surprised by our apartment we were renting. I say we were pleasantly surprised because we had accidentally booked it for the wrong week (that’s what’ll happen when you’re constantly booking places to stay and can’t keep anything straight!) causing quite a bit of confusion (and inconvenience, I’m sure) for our airbnb host. Fortunately, she was very understanding and still managed to accommodate us for our actual dates…

IMG_1330 IMG_1332 IMG_1333

 

The rest of our 4 days in Hvar were spent touring around the little city…

IMG_1335 IMG_1341 IMG_1342 IMG_1343 IMG_1346 IMG_1348 IMG_1353 IMG_1437hiking…

IMG_1447

Inside a cave/tunnel

Inside a cave/tunnel

I was a bit freaked out inside, so I had no problem high-tailing it outta there!

I was a bit freaked out inside, so I had no problem high-tailing it outta there!

eating…

Seafood pasta & fried fish w/ the skeleton still intact!

Seafood pasta & fried fish w/ the skeleton still intact!

Meat platter for two :P

Meat platter for two ๐Ÿ˜›

And we even cooked a couple nights and enjoyed a lovely meal outside on our patio :D

And we even cooked a couple nights and enjoyed a lovely meal outside on our patio ๐Ÿ˜€

and we rented a boat!!!! This was, by far, our favorite experience during our entire Hvar stay.

Connor chauffeured

Connor chauffeured

And I quickly found a regal spot to perch myself :P

And I quickly found a regal spot upon which to perch myself ๐Ÿ˜›

Seriously, I barely moved from this spot... Exhibit A

Seriously, I barely moved… Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit C

IMG_1399

Ok, Connor did find a couple really great little islands where we could stop, so I indulged him and got out to explore a little ๐Ÿ˜›

IMG_1385

He even got me to do a little bit of driving

He even got me to do a little bit of driving

Before heading back to Hvar, we stopped at one of the more happenin' islands and had a little picnic and enjoyed the local foliage and wildlife (read: peacock)

Before heading back to Hvar, we stopped at one of the more happenin’ islands and had a little picnic and enjoyed the local foliage and wildlife (read: peacock)

Yesterday afternoon we took the catamaran from Hvar to Split and made our way to our hotel. I gotta say, Hvar/island life was nice, but I’m a little beaten up from all the sun and mosquito bites (I have probably 12 mosquito bites at the moment – including one of my face! Who gets bitten on the face?! Sad to say, this isn’t the first time for me – not even the second time…) So when we arrived in our hotel room, I was all to eager to take a looooong shower, flop into the fluffy bed and watch 4 (count it: FOUR) episodes of Game of Thrones back to back and then crash for the night. I did wake up feeling slightly more refreshed and even managed a little jogging on the treadmill, but I anticipate the next few days being a bit of a recoup week for Connor and me here. Meaning there is likely to be lots of reading by the pool (totally snagged a Danielle Steele novel from our airbnb flat in Sitges :P), watching of Netflix, and napping…

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Sitges = Heaven

Let me just say that Sitges, Spain is quite possibly the nicest place I have ever visited. I had never heard of it before, I didn’t know what Connor had set us up for, but it plain knocked my socks off! It’s a little beach town about 30-40 minutes outside of Barcelona via train, and it was absolute heaven for me for the last week.

Upon arriving, I was immediately thrilled with the outcome of the airbnb flat we rented:

Our own private living room! With a mini balcony!

Our own private living room! With a mini balcony!

Our own private bathroom! With a BIG shower (I haven't seen a shower this size since we left the U.S.)!

Our own private bathroom! With a BIG shower (I haven’t seen a shower this size since we left the U.S.)!

A big bedroom with lots of fluffy, comfy pillows and ANOTHER mini balcony!

A big bedroom with lots of fluffy, comfy pillows and ANOTHER mini balcony!

I should explain that while I most definitely loved Madrid and thoroughly enjoyed my time in that exquisite city (incredible parks, museums and restaurants), our accomodations consisted of a rather small bedroom within an apartment we shared with our 2 hosts (who slept in the living room) and 2 other guests (who slept in the other bedroom). So it was a bit cramped, and our bedroom had absolutely no sunlight b/c of there being zero windows & only 2 small, flimsy pillows over which Connor and I fought quite a bit. The hosts were incredibly kind and generous, and we had an excellent time in Madrid, so we couldn’t complain too much about our living situation. However, I was ecstatic when I was greeted by our Sitges flat ๐Ÿ˜€

And did I mention it was literally 20 meters from the beach! 5 out of the 7 days were in Sitges, I even managed a nice little jog along the boardwalk! This place clearly was doin’ wonders for my well-being…

IMG_1163

Here's a rare shot of Connor lounging with me at the beach. I mostly sun-bathed solo...

Here’s a rare shot of Connor reading with me at the beach. I mostly sun-bathed solo…

The church right next to our apartment that also sat on the water's edge.

The church right next to our apartment that also sat on the water’s edge.

Pretty much Sitges is where it’s at!

Enjoying some tapas and beer...

Enjoying some tapas and beer…

We had several delicious meals while in Sitges too - here is Connor's favorite breakfast...

We had several delicious meals while in Sitges too – here is Connor’s favorite breakfast…

IMG_1156

An amazing tuna salad

IMG_1151

We even did a little cooking ourselves! Salmon, shrimp, roasted veggies…

Posing with the local stone artists along the beach...

Posing with the local stone artists along the beach…

Connor made me pose a little too long :/

Connor made me pose a little too long :/

IMG_1170

They even have a gay pride festival going on! So Connor made friends with a couple of the local drag queens ๐Ÿ˜€

IMG_1177

We took the train into Barcelona couple days and did some exploring around the city as well.

The Gaudi House Museum

The Gaudi House Museum

Outside La Sagrada Familia

Outside La Sagrada Familia

Connor outside La Sagrada Familia on the other side. We both got a little squeamish being around the awful hoards of people, so we opted out of the tour inside...

Connor outside La Sagrada Familia on the other side. We both got a little squeamish being around the awful hoards of people, so we opted out of the tour inside…

We then wandered over to Parc de la Ciutadella to lounge around in the grass. It was no Parque de Retiro, but it worked :P

We then wandered over to Parc de la Ciutadella to lounge around in the grass. It was no Parque de Retiro, but it worked ๐Ÿ˜›

IMG_1120IMG_1122

Cathedral in the Barrio Gotic

Cathedral in the Barrio Gotico

Not many of my pictures turned out well inside, but it truly was gorgeous.

Not many of my pictures turned out well inside, but it truly was gorgeous.

Connor walking down the streets in the Barrio Gotic

Connor walking down the streets in the Barrio Gotico

IMG_1242

Barcelona Arc de Triomf

IMG_1245

For those of you who know Connor, it’ll come as no surprise that we rented a scooter…

IMG_1197 IMG_1209

We definitely got maximum usage out of our little “moto” and saw some amazing views and sights ๐Ÿ˜€

View of Sitges courtesy of Connor

View of Sitges courtesy of Connor

Exploring around Parque Guell

Exploring around Parque Guell

IMG_1179

Yes, that most certainly is an alien behind Connor...

Yes, that most certainly is an alien behind Connor…

IMG_1185 IMG_1186 IMG_1188

Before returning the scooter on our last day, we rode around Montjuic and explored the HUGE cemetery.

Before returning the scooter on our last day, we rode around Montjuic and explored the HUGE cemetery.

IMG_1213

They really like their little caves in this cemetery

They really like their little caves in this cemetery

IMG_1223 IMG_1221 IMG_1216 IMG_1215IMG_1227 IMG_1233It’s safe to say that Spain has been my favorite country thus far, and Sitges is most definitely my favorite spot we’ve visited. When that alarm went off at 5am yesterday morning for us to catch our flight to Dubrovnik, I very nearly told Connor where he could stick that alarm and refused to leave such a blissful town. Alas, it was time for our next adventure, so I got my happy butt outta bed and now here we are in Croatia! On tap for today is a hike up Mount Srd and probably some beers to follow ๐Ÿ˜€

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Somos Madrileรฑos :)

We arrived in Madrid last Tuesday and have rather enjoyed being able to blend in here – a nice change of pace from our undeniable tourist identity in Morocco…

Actually, we didn’t have the smoothest start to our week in Madrid. Pretty much immediately upon landing in Madrid, Connor was overcome with some wicked food poisoning that lasted through the night. Fortunately our airbnb hosts were incredibly sympathetic and super helpful, which was a huge relief. So after a rocky start, we finally got our act together and we were able to traipse around this wonderful city ๐Ÿ™‚

Our first day out, we ventured to the nearby Parque de Retiro. It is the absolute best park I’ve ever visited – it’s really clean, HUGE, gorgeous, great for people watching and for napping, and it’s FREE ๐Ÿ™‚
20130603-154242.jpg{The peacocks even dig this park!}

We have literally spent at least a portion of our afternoon at Parque de Retiro every single day since arriving.
20130603-154443.jpg20130603-154500.jpg20130603-154518.jpg20130603-154532.jpg
Needless to say, we are big fans of this place ๐Ÿ˜€

Because of how much I’ve enjoyed the Parque de Retiro, I figured the Real Jardรญn Botรกnico (Royal Botanical Garden) would be just as awesome. Sadly, I was slightly disappointed – there weren’t many flowers, nor were there many places to sit and enjoy the ambiance, and it felt quite crowded due to how much smaller it is than the park. Ah well, it was only โ‚ฌ3 to get in (thanks to our college student IDs we have shamelessly been waving around to get reduced ticket prices whenever we can) and we got some decent pictures…

20130603-155330.jpg20130603-155347.jpg{Inside the green house…}
20130603-155541.jpg{Connor really got into the bonsai exhibit}
20130603-155710.jpg{Connor finally came across some height competition :P}
20130603-155846.jpg

The royal botanical gardens may have been slightly disappointing but the royal palace of Madrid most certainly did not! Very regal & very well preserved. Unfortunately we only bothered to take pictures outside :/
20130603-160121.jpg{Still a kickass view from inside the courtyard, though!}
20130603-160256.jpg{And here’s one facing the cathedral}

We have also spent plenty of time just generally exploring…
20130603-160456.jpg20130603-160515.jpg20130603-160527.jpg20130603-160553.jpg{Connor outside the Egyptian Debod Tomb in the middle of Madrid}
20130603-160758.jpg{Connor inside the tomb}
20130603-160921.jpg20130603-160949.jpg{Connor inside Plaza Mayor}
20130603-161104.jpg{On top of the Reina Sofia Museum}
20130603-161206.jpg{Connor posing w/ the very informative lamb/pig/cow art structure depicting where each type of meat comes from}

…and happily eating ๐Ÿ™‚
20130603-161453.jpg{Our first crack at paella! Not bad, but not quite our cup of tea…}20130603-161612.jpg{Findlay Market (shout out to Cincy!) Madrid-ified :D}
20130603-161850.jpg20130603-161904.jpg{Why yes, I most certainly will help myself to 2 large beers & 2 heaping plate-fuls of tapas from the local, hoppin’ dive bar!}
20130603-162121.jpg{I may have nurtured a mild crush on this distinguished, Sean-Connery-looking gentleman from afar while beveraging at a cafe :P}

20130603-163005.jpg{And finally, Connor and I each had a steamy love affair with this delicious little number (chocolate banana crepe) :P}

So we have our last night here in Madrid tonight and then we fly to Barcelona tomorrow. We have another airbnb rental lines up there – which reminds me! Here is the link for airbnb:

https://www.airbnb.com/tell-a-friend?airef=3pr50ze2411zz5

I cannot sing its praises enough – it really is a phenomenal option for accommodations while traveling and it’s an excellent deal!

So yeah, Barcelona for a week is our next stop and we are even hoping for a little beach time! The temperature has finally been over 70 and our apartment is super close to the beach – I’m pumped ๐Ÿ˜€

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Lost Days on the Road…

Thanks to my mom, we now have a little documentation of the last week of our road trip – Thanks, Mom ๐Ÿ˜€

So, Mom arrived safe and sound on Saturday morning in Strasbourg via train,

102_2534

and miraculously, we were able to find each other in the train station without any agreed upon meeting point or any knowledge of what each of us were wearing (so as to more easily spot one another)…

With minds so in sync, we were bound to find one another :P

With minds so in sync, we were bound to find one another ๐Ÿ˜›

We then made our way back toward our yellow house in the Black Forest. Not without making a stop in Oberkirch (a town just outside of where we were staying) to walk around and check out a couple bier gartens.

IMG_0916

Mom looking fresh and happy to be with her lovely daughter ๐Ÿ˜€

102_2557 102_2558

102_2561 102_2562

We set out again for the Yellow House… With another scenic pit stop ๐Ÿ™‚

102_2570

102_2571

Mom recalled a bit of her high school German to ask the lady cleaning the little church if we could go inside and take pictures – so charismatic, that woman…

We then finally made it back to our neck of the woods…

The pronunciation of this sign cracked me up...

The pronunciation of this sign cracked me up…

Me looking alarmingly uncomfortable in spite of sitting with my own husband...

Me looking alarmingly uncomfortable in spite of sitting with my own husband…

Metrying to daintily sit on my mommy's lap only to look as though I'm completely crushing her. Not to worry, no injuries resulted from this picture.

Me trying to daintily sit on my mommy’s lap only to look as though I’m completely crushing her. Not to worry, no injuries resulted from this picture.

102_2589 102_2590

It was a long hike up the falls - Mom needed a breather...

It was a long hike up the falls – Mom needed a breather… But she’s still smiling ๐Ÿ˜€

We were fascinated by how many slugs we came across while out hiking around the falls!

We were fascinated by how many slugs we came across while out hiking around the falls!

A picture of mom's room in the Yellow House

A picture of mom’s room in the Yellow House

A departing shot of the ruins on our last day at the Yellow House

A departing shot of the ruins on our last day at the Yellow House.

Next stop: Cologne, Germany!

102_2602

Mom couldn’t get enough of the German “ausfahrt” signs (meaning “exit”)

102_2608

Mom with giant stone heads on the ground in front of a church in Bonn.

102_2610

Beethoven’s house – in Bonn.

102_2619

Giant cathedral in Cologne

IMG_0924

CRAZIEST modern art museum I’ve ever visited! The exhibits were incredibly raunchy and disturbing and fantastic all at once!

IMG_0927

There IS actually color in this piece!

IMG_0930

Mom and I discussing the merits of this piece (b/c we're intellectual like that)

Mom and I discussing the merits of this piece (b/c we’re intellectual like that)

Not to be outshone by our own intellect, Mom evened things out by poking fun at the paper sculpture's butt (can't take her anywhere, I tell ya!)

Not to be outshone by our own intellect, Mom evened things out by poking fun at the paper sculpture’s butt (can’t take her anywhere, I tell ya!)

This statue (yes, statue!) scared the bee-jee-zus outta me!

This statue (yes, statue!) scared the bee-jee-zus outta me!

After such an intense art intake (and losing Connor, yet again! He found us after about 20 minutes, though), we all decided we were ready for a drink... Mom got chummy with the bartender at the the Irish pub :D

After such an intense art intake (and losing Connor, yet again! He found us after about 20 minutes, though), we all decided we were ready for a drink… Mom got chummy with the bartender at the the Irish pub ๐Ÿ˜€

102_2628

Based on the above bartender’s recommendation, we hit up a beer haus for German food and…
102_2629

… beer. The waiters come around with endless supplies of glasses of beer and just constantly replenish!

We then took a quick time out at our hotel to get cleaned up, drink a few more beers, and play cards :)

We then took a quick time out at our hotel to get cleaned up, drink a few more beers, and play cards ๐Ÿ™‚

Then I got hungry - so pasta, it was!

Then I got hungry – so pasta, it was!

And Connor was such a gentleman :D

And Connor was such a gentleman ๐Ÿ˜€

The night was still young, so we went to another pub...

The night was still young, so we went to another pub…

where Connor did shots...

where Connor did shots…

,,, so did Mom.

… so did Mom.

After seeing her reaction, I figured I'd abstain.

After seeing her reaction, I figured I’d abstain.

Next, we moved onto Belgium!

We badly needed a bit of rest upon arriving at our flat in Oostend...

We badly needed a bit of rest upon arriving at our flat in Oostend…

And some comfort food :D

And some comfort food ๐Ÿ˜€

IMG_0948

After a solid night’s rest, we were up and at ’em again the next day exploring Brugge!

102_2662

Connor, the lone traveler…

102_2672

Open-air market in the center of Brugge…

102_2663

102_2678

We opted for another Irish pub for our mid-day pick-me-up…

IMG_0952

Where shepherd’s pie and beer did us all a great service ๐Ÿ™‚

102_2675


IMG_0954 IMG_0956

IMG_0957

Mom’s turn to clobber me!

We then made our way to Lille, France where we were all set to part ways on Friday – Mom to catch a train to Paris to fly back to Cincy, and Connor and me to catch our flight to Morocco… So we spent our last day touring around a cemetery and eating ๐Ÿ˜€

IMG_0969 IMG_0972 IMG_0973

And that, my friends, was the conclusion of our whirlwind European road trip ๐Ÿ˜€

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Shock to the System

I figured while I’m waiting for my mom to send me some of the pictures she took during her visit with us, I’d go ahead and catch you up to speed on what we’ve been doing lately (before I get too far behind!)…

This past Friday (5/24) Connor and I parted ways with my mom. She successfully made her way back to Cincinnati, and Connor and I caught our flight out of Lille, France. Sooo, we’re now in Morocco!!

Because, let’s be real, I haven’t a shot in hell at channeling Ingrid Bergman…

We arrived in Fes late Friday night and managed to make our way to our new digs without any hassle… That is, until I locked Connor, our host, and myself out of the hotel.

Mohamed (our host) was kind enough to walk us to a nearby vendor stall so we could buy bottled water and a snack for the night, and as we were exiting the front door of the hotel, I shut it behind us. Apparently, they don’t do that here. And apparently front doors lock themselves here. Soooo, we had to wait about 20 minutes outside the front door while Mohamed tracked down another key to the front door.

Aside from that, the set up here is amazing and unlike anywhere I’ve ever stayed!

IMG_0981

A view of our room standing from the top of the stairs leading to our bathroom

IMG_0980

Kind of a chic, modern bathroom – except that there’s no actual stall for the shower or shower curtain whatsoever. Meh, modesty’s overrated, right?

IMG_0983

Looking down into the common dining area where we get breakfast served each morning. They also play Frank Sinatra/Louis Armstrong type music all day long ๐Ÿ˜€

IMG_0986

I found a turtle friend ๐Ÿ™‚ Unfortunately, I’m not sure how long the friendship will last seeing as how Connor’s nearly stepped on him three times now..

IMG_0982 IMG_0984 IMG_0985

We spent all day yesterday getting lost touring around the medina, which is the central market in Fes…

Me trying to look as though I know where the hell I'm going.

Me trying to look as though I know where the hell I’m going.

We checked out the local tanneries and even succeeded in not getting scammed into paying a fee for the view (this is common apparently).

It's a crazy sight! The men just stomp around in the barrels of dye beating the color into the softened leather.

It’s a crazy sight! The men just stomp around in the barrels of dye beating the color into the softened leather.

Trying my best to contain my stank-face - it smells HORRENDOUS.

Trying my best to contain my stank-face – it smells HORRENDOUS.

We then ventured further into the medina…

IMG_1006

frequent donkey passings...

frequent donkey passings…

I've never seen so many stray cats/kittens anywhere!!!!

I’ve never seen so many stray cats/kittens anywhere!!!!

There were live snails for sale...

There were live snails for sale…

... and cow brains, of course.

… and cow brains, of course.

We then stopped for a little break and watched some extremely talented barefoot 5-8 year-olds play soccer and get into fights with each other. I was enraptured for a good 30 minutes or so…

We then stopped

Then we hit up a garden outside the king’s palace.

IMG_0995

We didn’t stay long, unfortunately, because this girl got hungry.

IMG_0997

Tanjine & couscous save the day!!

IMG_1017

Today wasn’t much different except that we checked out a few views from outside the medina…

IMG_1016

View from the Borj Nord fortress

IMG_1014

We tried wandering around one of the many, vast cemeteries around only to be haulted by some killer weeds and general overgrowth. I suppose that’ll happen when the graves are from the 1500s and such…

IMG_0999

Connor posing for me outside one of the gates into the medina

IMG_1018

So yeah, that’s what we’ve been up to the past couple of days, and we train to Tanger tomorrow. Quite a change from the European exposure we’d been accustomed to for the past several weeks! Also, no booze here, so this lady’s dryin’ out! Just kidding, it’s actually quite a welcome break ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April Showers Bring…

Many MORE May showers! Seriously, it’s been raining/drizzly for the past 5 days or so! Whatev – it’s sunny outside this morning ๐Ÿ™‚ AND…….

(Wait for it….)

My mom finally made her flight!!!!

I’m pretty darn excited ๐Ÿ˜€

Ok, let’s get to it, shall we?

Before leaving our French middle-of-nowhere cabin in the woods, Connor and I enjoyed a rural booze walk (yes, that’d be French cabernet wine in an Evian water bottle)

IMG_0844

 

and made a delicious final meal of cheeseburgers and all of our veggie leftovers.

Who says you can't find a good burger in France?

Who says you can’t find a good burger in France?

Which was followed by a few friendly board games - namely Trivial Pursuit and Guess Who

Which was followed by a few friendly board games – namely Trivial Pursuit and Guess Who

The next morning, we got on the road and headed to wine country. We couldn’t check into our latest airbnb spot (another shot out to that website, by the way! It’s working wonderfully for booking as we go on this trip! I, once again, highly recommend using it for any travel accommodations!), so we killed some time wandering around the nearby city of Beaune.

IMG_0856 IMG_0854 IMG_0858A few hours later, we did check in,

Modest, but clean and comfy... AND located on top of a wine bar ;)

Modest, but clean and comfy… AND located on top of a wine bar ๐Ÿ˜‰

and then rounded out our evening with a fancy French 3 course meal in Beaune. It was lovely ๐Ÿ™‚ However, I was too busy trying to look like I belonged there, so I didn’t opted against photographing my food, sorry :/

Some pictures of the next day’s touring around:

Inside Hotel Dieu in Beaune which used to be a hospital - this is where the wealthy patients roomed...

Inside Hotel Dieu in Beaune which used to be a hospital – this is where the wealthy patients roomed…

Connor inside the courtyard of Hotel Dieu

Connor inside the courtyard of Hotel Dieu

Then Connor took a little mini roadtrip on his own and found this cool chateau nearby

Then Connor took a little mini roadtrip on his own and found this cool chateau nearby

IMG_0877After 2 nights in wine country, we set off again. Not without a little pre-road trip fuel-up, though!

Our first chain restaurant experience while abroad at La Pataterie. I guess it's a bit like an Applebee's? The food was actually really good!

Our first chain restaurant experience while abroad at La Pataterie. I guess it’s a bit like an Applebee’s? The food was actually really good! I got a monstrous salad with toast topped w/ salami (which I removed) & a tomato tuna spread and Connor got a huge baked potato topped w/ a salmon quiche-like spread & side salad.

After about 6 hours of driving, we arrived at the Yellow House in the Black Forest near Oppenau Germany.

Our home for 3 nights

Our home for 3 nights

It’s located in a really cool area up in the mountains surrounded by the Black Forest and waterfalls and medieval ruins!

IMG_0899 IMG_0902 IMG_0904 IMG_0909After a little hike yesterday afternoon, we drove into town for some lunch where we found a friendly little German lady to serve us beer and grub while she prattled along happily in German unfazed by our utter ignorance ๐Ÿ˜›

As is usually the case for me in Germany, I had no idea what I was odering. Turned out to be a dumpling-type dough caserole covered with LOTS of cheese and some onions. Definitely a heart attack on a plate, but still pretty tasty :D

As is usually the case for me in Germany, I had no idea what I wasย ordering.ย  Turned out to be a dumpling-type doughย casseroleย covered with LOTS of cheese and some onions. Definitely a heart attack on a plate, but still pretty tasty ๐Ÿ˜€

With full bellies and a little buzz (the little old German lady twisted my arm into a 1/2 liter of hefeweizen – I didn’t wanna insult her, so I obliged…) we marched along to the grocery store and stocked up on snacks (cherry tomatoes, carrot bread *not to be confused w/ carrot cake*, yogurts) and BEER. Then we took another hike up in the mountains/forests of Oppenau before heading back to our Yellow House home ๐Ÿ˜€

As for today, I plan to take advantage of the sunny morning and hike to the waterfalls again and then get cleaned up to pick up my mama!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still French-in’ It Up…

Whew! I have to admit, the past couple days have really taken a bit of a toll on both Connor and me! Fortunately, we arrived yesterday at this little haven in middle-of-nowhere, France ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_0839

Recap of what’s been going on lately:
We ate, drank, and toured ourselves silly in Paris and finally left Friday morning via rental car.

Lots of cheese, bread, and my new favorite beer : Leffe!

Lots of cheese, bread, and my new favorite beer : Leffe!

IMG_0803

Atop skyscraper in Montparnasse giving a view of all of Paris (Eiffel tower in the bkgrd!)

Atop skyscraper in Montparnasse giving a view of all of Paris (Eiffel tower in the bkgrd!)

IMG_0808

Posing in Luxembourg Gardens

IMG_0805

Lots of interesting statues and gorgeous flowers ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_0804

Right before we were yelled at for standing on the lawn – apparently that’s frowned upon in Luxembourg Gardens… I guess that’s how they keep the lawns so nice ๐Ÿ˜›

Outside the Louvre

Outside the Louvre

Inside the Louvre

Inside the Louvre

Our post booze-walk meal: paella-style pizza!

Our post booze-walk meal: paella-style pizza!

Our rental car - purple Fiat Panda :D

Our rental car – purple Fiat Panda ๐Ÿ˜€

Sadly, my mom was supposed to have arrived in Paris Friday morning and joined us on our road trip but her flight was overbooked and it isn’t looking like she’s going to make it ๐Ÿ˜ฆ We’re still hopeful and keeping tabs on flights to see if maybe she can make it out in the next day or two… Anyway, that’s been a source of anxiety and disappointment.ย 

I want my mommy!

Then there’s been the actual commencement of road-tripping. Let it be known – navigating in/around/out of Paris via car sucks! There may have been tears shed, shouting, ugly words, etc. before we successfully managed to get the hell outta there… A few hours later we decided to stop and visit a chateau:

IMG_0828

Chateau du Blois

Not my picture – but we did see/climb this staircase

 

IMG_0824

Looking at the chateau museum staff guy as he yells at me in French… but still a good view of the Gaston wing behind me…

IMG_0821

tapestries!

It was a nice stopover on our way to Amboise where we naively thought we could just putz on into town and snag ourselves a little hotel room.

Apparently, everyone and their brother had been reading the same Rick Steve’s book on France or something. I was shot down by about 5 hotels and even basically hung up on by the tourist information hotline when I called inquring for room suggestions!

So we drove another hour or so and ended up in a generic Best Western-esque hotel in suburban Tours, France. It was late, we were tired, hungry and cranky. Fortunately, we had wine and cheese and bread to set us straight. It was a low key night because we were beat, but we did succeed in booking a remote cabin in the French countryside. We decided we needed a break from people and some solid R&R with books, booze, and sleep ๐Ÿ™‚ย So we got up yesterday and excitedly headed out to our countryside cabin ๐Ÿ˜€ We checked out a Chateau along the way too…

It's inside an actual medieval city!

It’s inside an actual medieval city! And people actually live inside the city! Those are garages…

IMG_0834IMG_0838IMG_0836Next stop was La Coterie Lodges – run by a lovely British woman who has lived in France for the last 10+ years. We’re her first guests of the year, but she was hospitable enough to take us on such short notice. We were so relieved and grateful. So, since arriving late yesterday afternoon, we’ve unpacked, stocked up on food, wine, beer, and SLEPT ๐Ÿ™‚ I cooked dinner last night: fish and some veggies with cheese and bread on the side (of course)
IMG_0841

Then we pretty much went to bed – Connor actually clocked about 12 hours last night – unheard of, for him! As for me, I’m feeling a bit more like myself. Sleep has helped as well as knowing we’re not in any hurry to do anything or go anywhere. I’ve even cranked out two 30 minute jogs yesterday and today – those did wonders for me, let me tell ya. I feel much less like this:

Turns out excessive wine, bread & cheese will do this to you – how ’bout that…

????’s

– Do you enjoy road trips or do you prefer to just stay put in one place and tour around there when on vacation? I was definitely ready for a change of scenery and to get out of Paris, but I’m not a fan of sitting in a car for hours on end – I feel sluggish and bloated and my eating habits go to crap. I think Connor and I are definitely gonna scale back our initial driving plans which means we won’t make it to as many places, but we’re both A-ok with that…

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

After failing twice to go running outside this morning because of the rain here in Paris (not that weather.com or wunderground.com is acknowledging said rain – they both claim it is sunny and 60 outside… Um, no, it’s been raining for hours now!), I’ve decided to just gracefully admit defeat and take off my running shoes, eat some Brie, and write a post ๐Ÿ™‚

So after our two hike-filled nights in Cinque Terre (here and here), we made it to Florence and spent one solid day checking it out. I, unfortunately, was just a bit worn out by the time we got around to touring around Florence, so I didn’t make the most of it like I wish I had. It is a small city but really quite interesting with lots of art-y attractions to see and experience. I wouldn’t mind coming back some day ๐Ÿ™‚

20130506-130051.jpg
(Connor set out a but earlier than me and went inside a church and checked out the beautiful gardens)

20130506-130208.jpg
(I met up with him a couple hours later in one of the crowded piazzas)

20130506-130351.jpg
On our way out of Florence Friday, we stopped by Pisa to check out the leaning tower before catching our flight to Paris (it departed from the Pisa airport)

20130506-130611.jpg

20130506-130622.jpg
(it was interesting enough to see in person, but Pisa itself is pretty small so I was glad we only made an afternoon of visiting and didn’t spend a night there…)

Later that night we finally got to our Paris apartment!! It was late and we were exhausted so we just got some wine, bread, and cheese and unpacked and crashed.

20130506-130906.jpg
(this apt. is tiny, but it definitely makes excellent use of every nook and cranny – there’s a washer/dryer, stove, sink, kitchen table, futon, and all the other essentials)

20130506-131041.jpg

20130506-131118.jpg
(teeny bathroom!)

So far I only have a few pictures from our Paris exploring… I hope to be more on top of it as this week progresses and we get out more…

20130506-131419.jpg

20130506-131432.jpg
(Connor, his mom, and me as we were walking around yesterday afternoon :))

The rain seems to be slowing, so hopefully we will make it out to so some more exploring today…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment