R O M E
[Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and a lot of walking around cute streets]
[Stumbled upon the famous Giolitti … so of course we had to have gelato, round 2. Successful first day in Italy!]
[Lunch stop pre-Vatican: Bonci Pizzarium – highly recommend this place. Tons of unique pizzas to choose from by the slice!]
[Pictures of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica don’t even do it justice – wow! Unfortunately couldn’t take pictures of the Sistine Chapel, but it was breathtaking – if only there weren’t so many sweaty people crammed into one place!]
[This wine + cheese pairing class was seriously the best – definitely our highlight of Rome. We learned a lot, drank some unique wines, ate some amazing cheeses and even got to see the thousand year old wine cellar, and Handi the sommelier was incredible! If you’re going to Rome you must make time for Vino Roma.]
[Final night in Rome: somehow found Husband’s dad and stepmom at the Spanish Steps, ate some delicious cacio e pepe and went to the best pub in the world (not really … but we did get this awesome picture from a stranger, ha!)]
ROME: we actually really enjoyed this city! For some reason, none of us had very high expectations, but we were all pleasantly surprised. It was very walkable, fun, safe and great food. There is so much history here that we did not get the time to really explore so I could definitely go back.
T U S C A N Y
Our home base was Siena, which we ADORED, then we traveled around a bit from there.
[The best pizza I’ve ever had – everything was so incredibly fresh, including the burrata on top. Il Pomodorino was one of our favorite spots with the best views. We actually ate there twice!]
[Our favorite meal of the entire trip! This place was so amazing and romantic. My risotto with FRESHLY GRATED truffles was literally the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. Truly a remarkable evening.]
Day trip to Florence
[Very cool market we stopped in for breakfast – bottom floor was fresh meats, cheeses, veggies and fruits like a farmer’s market; top floor was cafes and restaurants – this cappucino and ham + brie croissant was delicious.]
[David, David, David, you truly are a masterpiece. I cannot get over how surreal and amazing it was to see this work of art. I’m so glad we went to Florence if only for this!][And this! Birth of Venus by Botticelli was amazing.]
[Uffizi gallery with these views was fantastic – though by the end of the day, we were so ready to get back home to Siena …][and we did eventually make it home, but with a crazy story to tell (best told in person). This was us cheers-ing to Josh making it back alive.]
FLORENCE: in full transparency, we really did not like Florence very much. It was crazy packed with tourists everywhere you turned. Maybe we didn’t go to the right places and should have spent more than a day and done more than just the touristy things, but we were not impressed. (Except for David!)
Wine tour to Montalcino + surrounding wineries [Montalcino was an adorable little town! We only got 30 minutes in town before heading to the wineries, but could have spent several hours wandering around. Of course, even in those 30 minutes husband found a pair of leather shoes to buy!]
[Second stop had the best views by far and incredible lunch + wine in a gorgeous home. I could seriously move there tomorrow!]
[Final stop was definitely the most unique and produced our favorite (albeit most expensive) wine – this winery is super modern, entirely biodynamic, and started by the very wealthy brother of Illy coffee (who we happened to see leaving for holiday in his Porsche while we were there)][Finally back home at Hotel La Villa for our final night in Siena – we did not want to leave!]
SIENA: hands down our favorite city. We seriously discussed finding a property to turn into an AirBnB so we could go visit whenever we want. It was charming and beautiful and just felt magical. I could spend so much more time here, using Siena as a home base then traveling to differing wineries and small towns nearby.
Hopefully you enjoyed the first round of pictures! This was only a tiny taste of what we saw, did, ate and drank.
Watch for Part 2 (Cinque Terre + Venice) in the next week!
- Never, ever, ever, hold a wine glass by the top, only by the stem. Or get seriously called out by a sommelier.
- Italians only drink with food. They don’t go out for a drink at happy hour without something to snack on, and they certainly don’t just sit on their couch binge-watching tv shows with wine. Hmm…..
- Ciao is hello, not goodbye. Americans incorrectly turned it into goodbye. (According to our very opinionated bar tour host)
- Under no circumstances should you get off of a train, unless you want to stay off of that train. Not to smoke a cigarette, and certainly not to get a taxi.
- I CAN get sick of pasta + pizza. (Actually surprising) But I can NOT get sick of good wine. (Not really that surprising.)
- And I DO like seafood when it’s extra fresh – like mussels and scampi and anchovies and scallops and swordfish
- Spontaneous tears of joy are a real thing.
- A meal or even just a cappuccino is not something to be rushed through or as “take-away”, but to be enjoyed leisurely. The 3-hour dinner was a common and wonderful occurrence.
- Air conditioning is non-negotiable. Especially when you’re walking 10 miles/day in 90+ degree humid heat.
- Travel can make or break a friendship. Luckily, ours was the former and only made us even closer.
Picturebook posts of our amazing Italian vacation to come soon!
D A Y 1 – O K T O B E R F E S T
[Wilkommen to Deutschland! What an amazing surprise from my friend Bobbi Joe, waiting for me at our hotel. Dirndl and all here we come, Oktoberfest!]
[So much food! Pretzels, two hens, pork knuckle and the best potato salad I’ve ever eaten!]
[We were in the Augustiner beer tent for 5 1/2 hours, and by the end, everyone was standing on their tables dancing and singing, without a care in the world.]
D A Y 2
[Michael Jackson memorial outside the Bayerischer Hof Hotel, where he stayed several times and other celebrities stay in Munich.]
[When in Munich … eat pizza? Strange I know, but it was incredible because the meat is just so good on anything you put it on.]
[Early night in after a late night previously and a long day of walking. But of course, still laying in bed drinking beer.]
D A Y 3
D A Y 4
(We were supposed to take a trip to Austria our last two days of vacation, but unfortunately trains were suspended due to migrants, so we made the best of our extra time in Munich!)
[Rainy days are for museums – first up, Museum Brandhorst with an amaaaazing Warhol exhibit!]
[Next museum, Pinakothek der Moderne filled with everything you could imagine such as furniture, the first Apple computer and Dali’s!]
[We were looking for a place to eat dinner, and we just couldn’t pass up the meat cooking in the window. It was seriously the best thing we ate in Munich (and as you saw, we ate some great food). The pork knuckle and sauerkraut was incredible, and the flaming apple fritters were awesome.]
D A Y 5 – Last day in Munich
[Our last day in Munich we spent shopping in the morning, and then relaxing and drinking beer all afternoon at our now favorite beer garden Augustiner-Keller.
Then back to the hotel, watching the Scream Queens pilot on the iPad and figuring out how to pack everything to take it home…]
D A Y 1
[Arrived in Paris to a beautiful day and another adorable (Rick Steve’s recommended) hotel – Hotel Des Grandes Ecoles. This was the cobblestone pathway that led to the hotel behind closed doors from the street, and the adorable patio/garden where everyone sat and drank wine every afternoon. To say I could get use to this would be an understatement.]
[6-course French wine + champagne tasting]
[Moonlit stroll home with Notre Dame + Love Locks]
D A Y 2
[Musee d’Orsay was incredible – highly recommend it! And the special exhibition was amazing. Pictured: At the Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec]
[Our favorite thing about Paris was just walking around, exploring and these gorgeous views.]
[One of the last remaining original metro signs]
[We didn’t go in the Louvre, but we did stop by for some photos]
[Wine in our hotel patio/garden. Like I said before, I could get use to this.]
D A Y 3
[Cappuccinos + croque monsieur at Le Descartes]
[Strolled through the gorgeous Jardin du Luxembourg]
[We stumbled upon this pop-up art museum and had to go in. Turns out it was an Hermes exhibition that was one of the coolest things we saw in Paris. We felt like we were in Alice in Wonderland!]
[Loved seeing a show at the Moulin Rouge! So much fun!]
D A Y 4 – Last day in Paris
[The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles was stunning!]
[We loved you, Paris! We will definitely be back!]
You might also enjoy: Aldermans Go Global: London
D A Y 1
[First impression of London – I mean, WHY can’t our taxis be this adorable?! I already love this city.]
[Then, the unthinkable happened. I took this picture literally minutes before a drunk homeless guy came over and spilled his alcohol all over my pants. Like, I’m not kidding you when I say I reeked of alcohol and my pants were drenched. Long story short, it led to new pants from Zara and … ]
[… finding this place, The Cockpit. We ended up missing our pub tour we’d booked, but instead we found this pub that was so quintessentially English it was amazing. There were no tourists, Rugby World Cup was on the TV and most importantly, the beer was flowing. Probably our favorite place from the entire trip.]
[Pub stop #2. We just decided to make our own pub tour.]
D A Y 2
[Our Rick Steve’s recommended hotel was so adorable. I would highly recommend it to anyone. Not to mention we had a full, traditional English breakfast every morning. Not pictured: The baked beans that came with this and were SO good. (For breakfast! IKR!) Pictured: The most amazing bacon and grilled tomatoes you’ve ever had.]
[Tower of London, Crown Jewels and adorable husband – check!]
[And awesome views of the Tower Bridge – check!]
[My favorite thing we did in London was the Sunday afternoon church service at Westminster Abby. The choir was PHENOMENAL. I’ve never heard anything like it before in my life. Also, I couldn’t stop thinking about how Will + Kate got married here, sooooo that was pretty cool.]
[Favorite photo from the trip! Thanks random strangers from Chicago. <3]
[Next up – The London Eye. Which I did not like. So I promptly rewarded myself with ice cream. And as mom later reminded me, she always use to reward me with ice cream too.]
[After a loooooong day of walking, we decided to stick near our hotel for dinner. Come to find out the restaurant literally right next door was highly rated on Yelp. We both had great meals, but it was the dessert that left an impression. This orange creme brulee was TDF. Tiny, but TDF.]
D A Y 3
[Waiting with thousands of other people for the changing of the guards!]
[And the wait was totally worth it. Next time I have to go in Buckingham Palace!]
[Churchill War Rooms was Kyle’s favorite thing from London. It was literally the secret, underground bunker Churchill used during WW2, and it was fascinating.]
[Not Pictured: The National Gallery museum – highly recommend!]
[Tower Bridge selfie on our hop-on, hop-off tour bus! We loved this. It was a great way to see the city and fun to sit on top!]
[Dinner: The Thomas Cubitt
This may sound crazy, but this was the best soup I’ve ever had in my life – white onion + thyme with wilshire truffles and croutons. Like, I can still remember exactly what it tastes like, and I’m not even a soup person. Also, our appetizer got messed up and instead we got smoked quail, and surprisingly it was delicious.]
D A Y 4 – L A S T D A Y I N L O N D O N
[Kew Gardens was just gorgeous, and the weather was so perfect. My pictures don’t do it justice (and of course I took like a million.) But I had to share this one of the peacock that just walked right in front of me on the path – it was incredible! We were like, where are we?!]
[Mid-morning cake + cappuccinos.]
[Not Pictured: Victoria + Albert Museum – also highly recommend!]
[One thing we did not get to do that I really wanted to was go to Notting Hill (I will just have to re-watch the movie and go back!). This was the closest we got – Churchill Arms, a famous pub full of flowers and plants inside and out that also served delicious Indian food.]
But before we headed to Paris, there was one more thing we HAD to do …
[JK, we’re not going to Paris, we’re headed to Hogwarts!!]
You might also enjoy: Aldermans Go Global: There’s No Place Like Home
We’ve been home from vacation for approximately 72 hours, and I would already take the next plane back if it was offered to me.
Ever since we got married (4 1/2 years ago), we’ve talked about a two-week vacation to Europe just the two of us. It finally happened, and it was even more amazing than I could have even dreamed.
I’ll be doing a series of blog posts over the next week or so, sharing photos and details about our trip. (In case you just didn’t get enough following me on Instagram. 🙂 )
But first, a few thoughts after re-entry:
[FROM EUROPE] I M I S S …
Full English breakfasts served steps from our room.
Staying out until midnight, and sleeping in until 10am.
Being fully present in the moment because our phones weren’t pinging us with texts, emails, notifications, etc.
Mine and husband’s squabbling over maps and which direction to go.
Stopping at a cafe for a glass of wine (or two) at 2pm, because we can.
The laid-back dining culture, where waiters don’t harass you and you can properly enjoy a meal.
(with full-fat milk! and if you asked otherwise they looked at you like you were crazy)
Being around so many different cultures with different stories, and meeting new people.
Learning something new every day.
The laissez-faire attitude.
Quality time with just husband, every single day, learning more about him and enjoying him.
[FROM HOME] I M I S S E D …
Ice water. Seriously. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Snuggling with my fur-baby, Olli.
Understanding everyone, and all menus, at all times.
My mom. No matter how old I get, she’ll always be my Lorelei.
My TV shows.
(I’m sure that sounds lame, but we did leave as Fall TV started back, and we know how much I love my Fall TV…)
Mexican Food. Give me some chips and guac and queso and margs, please.
Group texts. I have two groups I communicate with on a daily basis, and I missed my dear ones.
My own bed, with my own pillows, and a FAN.
The indescribable feeling of being home.