Thursday, May 31, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend 2012

Our Memorial Day weekend was jam packed but it was nice to spend time together with family. 

 2 years ago we took Ben to the airshow and went in the middle of the day. It was miserable and hot so this year we went right when they opened at 9:30am. The weather couldn't have been more perfect and the breeze was wonderful!


After nap, we made our first trip of the year to the splash pad.

Daddy also filled up this pool at our home. Although it was freezing, Ben insisted he get in.

On Monday, we went to the parade in our downtown. Ben was so good and just watched everything as it came by. He clapped and waved-it was so precious! 

Can you tell how windy it was?

And a look back, Memorial day 2010. 

After lunch it was off to the pool and then a much needed nap followed by a bbq at my parent's house. By bedtime Ben was worn out from all the fun this past weekend, but it was worth every minute.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Honeymoon in Italy {Day 2 in Rome}

After having a little bit of trouble falling asleep our first night, J and I slept in the second day and ate breakfast in our hotel. That's one of the things I love most about vacations. You can do whatever you please whenever you want. Most days we didn't eat lunch until 2 or 3pm and dinner around 9pm.

After breakfast we hopped in a taxi to the Colosseum. Where we feared for our lives the entire car ride. The taxi drivers in Rome were some of the worst drivers I have ever seen. I don't mean they're bad as in New York city bad where drivers go really fast in close spaces. I mean the kind of bad where we almost hit people several times, no one obeyed the speed limit or stayed in their own lane, and if the lane we were in was moving slowly the driver just created his own. Honest to God, J and I were actually scared.

Luckily the ride in the taxi was worth it when we pulled up to this.
We walked around the outside of the Colosseum and the arches next to it and then went inside to get our tickets. We chose to do an audio tour since we wanted to know exactly what we were looking at and the history behind it. We opted not to do a person guided tour since we wanted to go at our own pace.

Inside the arena. 

After a couple hours at the Colosseum, we headed over to the Trevi Fountain. The fountain was enormous and beautiful and so crowded. The legend of the fountain is that if you toss a coin over your left shoulder you are ensured a return to Rome.

After so much sightseeing we went back to the hotel to rest and get ready for dinner. We ate at little restaurant hidden in a small alley. It was away from all the tourist spots and I had one of my favorite meals of our trip. I had the tortellini and J had spaghetti carbonara, which happened to be his least favorite meal, go figure.

Stay tuned for a recap of our favorite city, Florence!

And in case you missed it, don't forget to check out Getting There & Day 1

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Honeymoon in Italy {Getting There & Day 1 in Rome}

Here it is folks. Finally a post about the honeymoon. We were gone a total of 9 days and have a ton of pictures so I decided to break our trip up into a few different posts.

After doing lots of research on airlines and hotels, reading thousands of reviews, and then obsessing some more I decided to go with American Airlines and we stayed at the Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora.

Our flight was set to leave St. Louis at 1:30 pm on Sunday May 5th and we were to arrive in Rome on Monday May 6th at 9:30am. For the first time EVER, we were at the airport with more than enough time to spare. After missed flights during a trip to San Francisco and not getting to sit together due to checking in 30 minutes before our flight to New York, I was determined that J wasn't going to make us late.

Of course when we get to the airport the flight ends up getting delayed a half an hour. Then another half an hour, then another. After an almost 2 hour delay we got on our 45 minute flight from St. Louis to Chicago arriving at O'Hare airport as our flight to Rome was supposed to be boarding. I always, always, always try to schedule connecting flights with at least 1-2 hours in between flights as something always seems to go wrong or the original flight gets delayed. I'd rather wait around for a little bit at the airport than miss my connection. If we hadn't scheduled that long of a layover we would have missed our flight and on a 10 hour international flight who knows when the next one would have been.

As we race to our gate we find that our flight to Rome which was supposed to leave in 15 minutes wasn't even at the gate yet. On the bright side, at least we didn't miss it. Almost an hour later we' were in our seats, ready to push back from the gate, and the pilot comes on over the speakers. This might be a good time to tell you that unless I need to immediately get off the plane because I'm going to DIE , I don't want to know anything. I especially don't want to know that there is a "little problem with the landing gear not working." A lack of landing gear is not a little problem.

45 minutes later the pilot assures us the little problem is fixed and that the plane will not skid and burst into flames as we land. We taxi to the run way, I settle in for take off, and the pilot once again has an announcement. Due to storms in Chicago, we would need to wait on the runway until they moved out of the area. Almost 2 hours later, and no snacks or drinks while we waited, we were finally on our way.

A mere 10 hours later we touched down at the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome. All together now...Hallelujah. After claiming our luggage, hooray for it not being lost, we exchanged enough of our money to pay for the taxi and headed to our hotel.

A note about exchanging currency. Currency exchange counters at the airport and other places around Italy are extremely expensive. Not only do they exchange slightly under the exchange rate, but they also charge a service fee in the form of a % of what you exchange. The majority of the ones we saw were between 7-9%. After doing a little research back our hotel, we found it best to exchange the money at a local bank where they give you the actual exchange rate and charge you a flat fee, ours was 5 Euro, no matter how much you exchanged. The bank we went to allowed us to do $500 each day per person/passport but you must have your passport with you when you do the exchange.

And now what you all really want to see, the pictures.

The Marriott Grand Flora. Our hotel was perfect. Great customer service. A terrific view of the entire city at breakfast, and within walking distance of landmarks, restaurants, and shops. I know some people prefer to stay in local hotels, but for this trip we decided to stick with a chain and couldn't have been happier. 

The view from breakfast found here

We had a deluxe King room and it looked almost identical to this. We had turn down service every night, a huge walk in closet which J immediately took over, and 3 large windows that opened out into the streets of Rome.

The view from our bathroom

The view from one of the bedroom windows.

Even though it's been 2 weeks, I can still vividly remember our room, the sounds, and even the way it smelled. I hope I never forget those memories, but I know they will fade.

After a little nap, we ate our first official Italian Pizza. Mushroom for me.

Prosciutto for J.

After dinner we explored the town by foot, not even realizing what landmarks we were stumbling upon.

After walking around for more than 2 hours, getting a little lost, and working up quite an appetite, we stopped at a little gelato place called White.

Watermelon and strawberry for J, peach for me.

On our walk back to the hotel, we stopped at a little restaurant called Cafe Stregga. Since it was just a few blocks from our hotel we frequented this place quite often. J of course had to do the typical American thing and order a cheeseburger. 

With full bellies and jet lag we tucked ourselves into bed and drifted off to sleep.

Up next, the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain!