Archive of ‘Italy’ category

Why don’t we stay another day? Grado, Italy.

We love Italy. Instead of driving home in a rush we decided to stay an extra day in one of our favorite little seaside towns Grado, Italy.

Grado, Italy (8)

 

You enter Grado by driving down a long road with water on either side. Last time we were here I spotted hundreds of pink flamingos in this marsh.

Grado, Italy (4)

 

 

Saturday night we stayed up late watching a FIFA match at the local pub, drinking 1 euro wine and free eating pasta.

Grado, Italy (6)

 

On Sunday all the locals flock to the beach to sun tan and windsurf.

DSC09924

 

DSC09905

 

DSC09906

 

DSC09907

 

DSC09909

 

Grado, Italy (18)

 

Italy knows their meat, they are truly masters of cold cuts.

DSC09893

 

Other highlights include; buying a bocce ball set, visiting the Sunday market, playing soccer with kids, trying different wines at the Wine and Fish Festival, making friends with 3 sisters originally from Bangladesh  and walking home with our black stallion helium balloon.

Notice Matt to the left running after the ball.

IMG_20140615_202311

 

Sorry for the bad picture (especially the lady in the back), the littlest one (not shown) had crazy wild hair and a gloriously bedazzled shirt.

IMG_20140615_205718

 

Everyone loves a two legged horse.

IMG_20140615_203029

 

The cats think we’re crazy.

DSC09898

This is the Kyle and Carrie story. The beginning.

Though we left Canada over two years ago I rarely feel home sick. Of course, I would do anything to have a roasted chicken dinner at Mom’s house with all my friends or I would trade anything for a session of all you can eat sushi in Vancouver, but in reality, I just don’t miss Canada that much. Does that sound a little harsh? Absolutely not, why would I miss home when all my favorite people come and play with me in Europe!

This story starts in Nice, France. After a fun time watching the F1 races in Monaco, Matt and I took it easy on the French Rivera while we waited for our Canadian friends Kyle and Carrie to arrive. The morning before their scheduled arrival Matt and I woke up in a hazy state (brought on after a night of cheap Rosé), slipped into our bathing suits and headed to the beach. As I was locking the door I could hear Matt gabbing loudly to someone, “oh boy, what story is he telling now?” I thought as I turn the key. It took me a second to register what I saw, Kyle and Carrie were standing on the sidewalk, a day early, ready to party! 

Hugs, screams and more hugs then we all went for a nice dip in the Mediterranean.

10394529_10154202708115282_6451326323629086456_n

 

This is us hanging out in Nice eating pizza.

10364186_10154248200445343_2643010870609302503_n

 

A quick visit to St Tropez.

St Tropez, France (6)

 

St Tropez, France (9)

 

St Tropez, France (14)

Kyle and Carrie in Cinque Terre.

Matt doesn’t do well in hot weather, especially when the task at hand is hiking up steep tourist crowed hills in 33 degree weather. Kyle, Carrie and I left him at in an air conditioned environment and took the morning train to the Cinque Terre.

Riomaggiore, Italy (1)

 

First stop, Riomaggiore. This was my third time there so I can safely say that the town is much more enjoyable in the fall. Less hot, no ugly tourist groups and the sea, greenery and houses seem more colorful.

I take this picture every time I go.

Riomaggiore, Italy (4)

 

Riomaggiore, Italy (11)

 

Riomaggiore, Italy (13)

 

Riomaggiore, Italy (19)

 

Riomaggiore, Italy (16)

Staying in Volterra, Italy.

Our fantastic friends rented a room for a few days in a beautiful agriturismo style Tuscan villa just outside the hilltop town of Volterra. The place was unbelievable, huge bedroom, large common area, great kitchen with gas stove  and a swimming pool overlooking the rolling Tuscan hills. We were fortunate enough to stay on the farm grounds and enjoy the amenities.

DSC09611

 

DSC09797

 

Carrie and I hung out with Giuseppe the donkey, he started to cry as soon as we left.

DSC09791

 

DSC09749

 

Cheap wine photo shoot.

DSC09766

 

I’m sporting a farmer’s tan on a farm.

DSC09775

 

Italy’s Next Top Model.

DSC09771

 

DSC09779

 

We found that our cats hate other cats and once they see or smell an unknown cat they start to fight one another. It takes about 2 hours before they recognize each other again…Bulgarian cats aren’t know for their smarts.

DSC09799

The story ends with a Tuscan villa feast.

All great things must come to an end, Kyle and Carrie are on their way to Rome and we packed up and started our long journey home. The time spent with our lovely friends was absolutely amazing…especially our last night hanging out at the villa. During the day we hiked up an excruciating 4 kilometer road up a ridiculously steep hill to visit the town Volterra  and collect some goodies for that night’s feast.

10450843_10154267762555343_4690902760438676194_n

 

Inspired by my surroundings I whipped up a Tuscan dinner which we ate in the garden then washed it down with liters of wine.

10301960_10154218602260282_8361768099449566947_n

 

Butter and lemon turkey scaloppini.

10458807_10154218602675282_2835404772155252348_n (1)

 

Fried zucchini flowers stuffed with pesto risotto.

10447082_10154218603010282_2903026687695254486_n

 

Roasted vegetable, balsamic, oil, bread, salami, cheese and party bird!

10438148_10154264174660343_2045691461294693874_n

 

 

The rest of the night was ridiculous, we had so much fun talking about everything from politics to teeth. Carrie cut my hair and then Matt’s in the dark, Kyle argued with Matt about world views/ and conspiracies.  We all told embarrassing tales, jokes and compared our silly pet stories.

Volterra, Italy (15)

 

 

We ended our magical Tuscan night with a moonlit stroll, chasing after thousands of fireflies. Matt and I are so fortunate to have such amazing friends and get to do all these incredible things. Kyle and Carrie, we miss you so much, see you in Bulgaria…hopefully next year???

Volterra, Italy (18)

Cats in the campervan.

I know that it seems a bit foolish to drive around Europe sleeping in your car with your husband and your 2 cats but this is my life for the next few weeks and it’s been really great so far…well almost.

DSC08049

We couldn’t find a good cat sitter in time for our trip so we packed up the car and the cats and headed west. The two first days on the road were less than enjoyable.  My cats are no stranger to the camper as we’ve camped and traveled with them several times before, the first day is always hell. They are weary of all sounds and movements in and around the car and our ridiculously vocal cat Misiu likes to tell us off by meowing at the top of her lungs until I come pet her. It is to be noted that Matt is not a big fan of the cats to start off with, the added stress of the cats in the car makes for extreme tension as we drive, tainting the start of our family vacation.

 

DSC07971

Misiu, the world’s most dramatic cat.

 

DSC08034

We covered some good ground the first two days, driving over 800 kilometers (averaging at 80km/h) on long boring bumpy Bulgarian highways and through the Serbian flooded farmlands. By nightfall everyone was cranky, fed up, jittery, restless and bitter.  The cats would cheer up at 3 am and play “climbing gym” over and around us while we sleep.

Slovenia was our breaking point, should we leave the cats in the park? Is Matt going to leave me in the park? Should I buck up and learn how to drive the huge van and drive home, Matt can figure something out.   

That night I found the laser pointer I had pack. Trying desperately to mend my family feud, I took Matt out for a nice brisk walk  and made him a nice dinner then spent an hour playing “lasers”  with the cats until they could run no more.  All four of us slept like babies until 1 pm the next day.

 

 

DSC07993

Since then everything has been great, Misiu sleeps by the door while we drive and Stotinki rests peacefully in the loft space watching the big rigs pass from time to time.  

 

DSC08048

The cats love Italy, they got to run around outdoors on their leashes for two days just outside of Venice. For some crazy reason they enjoy sitting in the car looking out far more than frolicking in the grass. 

 

By the time this trip is over our cats will have visited nine countries in the last eight months, how many countries have you traveled this year?

DSC08409

Scavenger hunt.

Our friends Kelly and Mat have been playing a sort of travel tag game with us.  It all started in Hanoi last month and now we’re on a search through Venice.  Kelly sent us some photos, a little map and no other details.  Needless to say, we ended up at a 5 star hotel on one of the canals holding a bottle of fancy Prosecco.  Thank you!!!!

Venice is a crazy labyrinth.

1794611_10154070213175720_8128418419325307938_n

 

DSC08088

 

DSC08090

 

DSC08091

 

Thank you Mat and Kelly!!!

DSC08092

Car food, celebrating Italy.

First thing’s first, when driving around Italy you must always hang cured meats from your rearview mirror. Notice the lovely Italian grapes growing along the highway.

DSC08404

 

 

VEGETABLES! Don’t get me wrong, I love Bulgaria and it’s food but when it comes to vegetables they have one of the smallest selections I’ve ever seen (finding broccoli can be challenging). Viva Italia and it’s lush selection of veggies, most of which are drowned in high quality olive oil before eating. Here’s some purple artichoke with a lemon, garlic, Dijon and olive oil vinaigrette.

DSC08055

 

 

One more thing Italy has over Bulgaria is quality cuts of meat. Here is beef Carpaccio with onions, capers, parsley, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper.

DSC08061

Our one year wedding anniversary, Venice style!

 

I can’t believe that it’s already been a year since our wedding.

IMG_3627

 

IMG_3549

 

Mom got us a a fancy room in a 16th century palace. THANKS MOM!!!

IMG_3590

 

IMG_3667

 

Matt and I walked around the twisty streets of Venice for hours on end.

IMG_3764

 

We even saw Carla’s twin.

IMG_3876

 

Chinese food, in Venice? Why not!

IMG_3937

 

IMG_3738

 

IMG_3872

 

IMG_3830

 

IMG_3805

1 2 3