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Italy and Greece – Parents Hall Pass!

After a little time off from writing and being a parent…I’m back!  Summer has now wrapped and my husband and I topped it off with a trip for two.  Parents Only!  Before we left I was a little weary about leaving our 16 month old for almost two weeks, but the moment the wheels went up on the airplane and I had my first cocktail in my hand all those parent guilty feelings flew out the cabin!  All I could think about was, what sites to see and cocktails to have when we arrived.  We had two weeks to live it up and stay out past eight.  What happens when time doesn’t matter and there are no curfews?  What if there were no nap schedules, no eating schedules, no bedtime routine schedules…well let me show you!

Here’s a little look into our travels to Venice, Florence, Athens and Santorini.  We packed a lot in and ended the vacation on the beach!  Oh the things you can do when time has no restraints…

First stop Venice!  Straight from the plan to a boat, headed to the city center.  Yep, there’s the gondolas…we are definitely in Venice.  Could we have done this with a stroller.  Maybe, but I sure feel relaxed right about now, no thoughts of how to get the baby gear in and out of the boat.  A strange feeling I need to get use to, and let me assure you, I’m getting use to it quite quickly!!

One of the most unique cities in the world.  A city made up of 120 islands, almost 500 small bridges, lagoons and 100 churches.  A picture perfect scene around every corner.  I could get use to this lifestyle!

A city that has never modernized architecturally and has been around since the 10th century BC.  I think I could live a car free lifestyle and travel by boat.  Like they say…if you can make it in NYC then you can make it anywhere :)

The symbol of Venezia!

A local Venetian neighborhood…

A classical performance in Venice, a must!  Listening to the orchestra perform Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at an ancient church along the Grand Canal in a city with so much art history was a highlight of our trip.

Looks like it’s time to part with Venezia and our beloved afternoon drink, the Spritz!

Bye-bye canals, lagoons, gondolas and gondoliers, San Marco, Cathedral, Doge Palace, vaporettos, delicious fresh pasta, little bridges, narrow streets, ancient venetian artwork, churches around every corner, long Venetian dining experiences, carnival masks, and of course, the evening bright orange Spritz and aperitivio.  Ciao Venezia!

Buongiorno Florence!  I’ve seen this view in magazines and on t.v. and now here we are!

The Duomo.  The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Our Lady of the Flower).  The third largest church in the world, which took 140 years to build.  Spectacular!

Quick trip to the Chianti countryside.  Had a fair dose of wine on my Adults Only trip.  Loved Tuscany wine, but still faithful to my Napa.

When in Italy, expect to eat and eat a lot!!  I tried every type pf pasta dish and Italian pastry I could get my hands on!  Needless to say, I’m back on my bike, but so worth it.

Here we are at a traditional Florentine restaurant enjoying an amazing homemade pasta dish (2 pics above) and a biscuit pastry with sweet liquor.  One dip and I was already feeling it!!  Tuscany wine followed by a sweet shot of liquor…uh oh!  I might be in bed by the 8:00pm curfew.

Now time for a pit-stop in Athens and then to Santorini!  Ciao Firenze, Uffizi museum, David’s on every corner, amazing Tuscany wines, Renaissance buildings, Chianti vineyards, Michaelangelo’s artwork-home-tomb-road, Salvatore Ferragamo and Arno River.  Arrivederci Italy!

 

Hello Greece!!!  I tried to learn a few words in Greek, but it was all Greek to me :)

The Acropolis in Athens…a UNESCO site that must be visited!  Wow, the ancient history under our feet and before our eyes.

Hello Santorini – now pool time and relaxation!  A destination I’ve only seen in pictures and now a place I can call one of my favorite islands ever visited.  Look at that picture…have you ever seen an area like it?!  Gorgeous everywhere you turn.

A signature of the island…blue doors.  One of the three blues that represent the island..the blue sea, the blue roofs and the blue sky.

One of the many stairway illusions on the island that leads a person straight to the clear blue ocean.  I’m on my way!!

Amongst the white buildings and deep blue roofs and doors were other vibrant colors of red and green, and the beautiful fuchsia flowers that popped up everywhere.

Everywhere we turned there was a picturesque view!

Open a door and it felt like it led you straight to heaven!

Lets not forget the sunsets and the yummy Greek food and amazing restaurant views.  Dining was an experience in itself…felt like nothing was between you and the ocean.   Do we look like refreshed parents?  Taking in our last sunset!!!

To the last night of a memorable trip with my sweet husband.  What a great experience and relaxing vacation.  Tomorrow back to being parents, with curfews, schedules and less couple’s time, but I can’t wait!  In 24 hours I’ll be giving Maddie a huge hug and hearing all about her experiences with grandpa and nana…a time together that is just as important.

Do you have a trip you took somewhere near or far that is unforgettable?  Would love to hear about it.

Until next ride,

Amy

Headed to The Burbs

You might remember one of my posts on checking out of the city for summer weekends. We did just that last weekend!  We were invited to New Paltz, a small quaint town at the base of the Catskills, by our friends Pete and Cindy.  We were really looking forward to seeing them and dodging town.  Going to their home always feels like a mini vacation with great margs, amazing views, solitude of the country, fun conversations, and an evening fire (with s’mores!) under the smog free stars.  This city dweller forgets how beautiful a star filled sky can be.  Wish we could get here more often.  Why wish, lets make it happen!

Thought I would share a couple photos from our weekend.

Couldn’t resist a walk in the neighborhood.  Look at that Catskill view!  Always fun to walk by and admire the perfect homes, with the perfectly manicured endless lawns, perfect vacation-like backyards, and I’m sure the perfect family is laughing and sipping tea inside.  Okay, I might be dreaming just a little again, but the area is gorgeous and we did spot several deer frolicking through the yards!  Ha!  It did seem a little fairytaleish.

Then we had a delicious brunch with omelets, bacon, cider donuts, fresh berries, bloody marys and mimosas.   All this while over looking the Catskills on their terrace!  We certainly are starting the day off right!  Oh how I dread to leave.  If we moved into the guest bedroom do you think they would notice?

However, Maddie might blow our cover.  This almost perfect weekend had a minor glitch.  No baby proofing!  Chasing Maddie around was not easy and look where I found her!  Who knew she could climb so well.  We might have a future Catskills rock climber on our hands.

Wish we didn’t have to say good-bye to the weekend, but always nice to get home as well.  I have to say, this city girl does see herself in a country house someday or somewhere with open space.  Maybe I’ll settle for a home on a vineyard or beachfront property!  Not asking for too much, right?  Or, I might have to resort to pinning my five acre beachfront property!!  Either way, I think city living and having a family has caused me to appreciate the beauty of a rural lifestyle a lot more.

Where would your dream house be located?  Please tell!  I would love to hear about it.

Until next ride,

Amy

 

Friday Favorites: Exotic Destinations

Please don’t give up on me!  This has been a busy week of birthday parties, working on the stop-procrastinating-Amy-get-it-done-now list, and all the other little things that tend to pop up.  Thank you to those faithful readers who still checked in for my weekly posts.  I’m still here!!

As you know from my last posting, I’m trying to find a summer destination.  I have been looking all over, debating and torn, trying to find a fun and new place to explore.  Just for kicks, I checked out one of my favorite blogs The Cool Hunter and found these amazing exotic treasure spots around the world.  Places that seem dreamlike!!  Maybe they will inspire me to finally pick a spot!  Have a look at my “Friday Favorites” exotic destinations around the globe…

Marble Caves, Chile Chico, Chile

Restaurant near Sanyou Cave above the Chang Jiang river, Hubei , China

Madeira, Portugal

Sky Lantern Festival – Taiwan

Keukenhof Gardens – Netherlands

Rice Field Terraces in Yunnan, China

Riomaggiore, Italy

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver, British Columbia

Benteng Chittorgarh, India

Aiguill e du midi, Chamonix, France

The Pearl Waterfall, Jiuzhaigou Valley, China

If you get a chance, check out this “cool” website.  The Cool Hunter searches the globe for awesome discoveries in every genre and it continues to inspire me in so many ways.  It might do the same for you!  If you’re a Pinster, you might just start pinning away.

Have you heard or traveled to a place you find exotic?  My exotic spot is a park on the East River in Queens that has 5 very large hammocks that overlook Manhattan’s majestic skyline.  Laying on those hammocks at night with the dazzling Manhattan view in the background feels exotic in my tiny world!  If you have an exotic spot and would like to share it, I would love to hear about it.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Until next ride,

Amy

Vacationing: Kids or No Kids?

Illustration by Adrienne Hedger

In the past, I would point my finger anywhere on the globe and just take off.  It didn’t matter how long the flight was, or the number of days I was gone (well to an extent), or how long I stayed out in the evenings, or the activities I did during the day or the minor bumps that came along with traveling.  There were no restrictions.  And, a beach vacation was exactly what it was meant to be; no recollection of time, sprawled out on a beach blanket, nursing several nearby pina coladas, shades on, eyes closed, toes buried in the sand and waves crashing inches away.  So simple, so easy, so carefree.  A real vacation.

This year things aren’t so simple and there is a tough lingering question.  That question it not how many bathing suits should I bring, or which restaurants and lounges are in the area, or what activities can we do, or what drinks will be offered poolside.  The difficult mother question is, should we take Madison or not?  Am I ready to leave our 14 month old for almost two weeks?  Will she be traumatized?  Will I?

My 10 thoughts on not bringing children, or Madison, on vacation…

1)  Will Madison be distraught if we leave her behind?  She breaks down the moment the babysitter enters the apartment and doesn’t stop until bedtime!

2)  The poor grandparents!  Will they be able to handle a 14 month old, who is teething, for almost two weeks?  Will they ever want to come back?

3)  Vacation = Relaxation.  Will I truly be able to relax wondering about Maddie a 14 hour flight away?

4)  No checking out this year!  Need to get international service.  I will definitely need daily check-ins and maybe a messaged picture or two.

5)  Reservations about a 14 hour flight.  The last time I flew I was 6 months pregnant, having back pain, Maddie was hanging-out on my sciatic nerve and I was dealing with those other unmentionables, that all women can relate to, during pregnancy!

6)  However!  We will have freedom to stay out as late as we want!  I know there’s life past 7pm.  Lets find it!

7)  All the pina coladas, margaritas and sangria I want!  Reliving carefree days.

8)  Lets kick start that spark!!  Gets a little dim when everything revolves around kids.  We know it’s there!  Just needs a little Santorini fuel.

9)  No diapers, no clean up, no laundry, no temper tantrums.  Looking better and better!

10) I think we both need some adult time!

I vote, No Kids!  Will Madison need child therapy in the end, no, and will mommy need to turn to countless sangrias, no, well maybe just a couple.  Even though traveling used to be easier, the things that made it easy before don’t seem to be as important now.   So what, if I have to check my luggage rather than have easy breezy carry on.  So what, if our transportation is running late to pick us up.  So what, if we don’t get the check-in time we wanted.  What matters is time together, either as a family or as that so-needed couples time.  Things for us have definitely changed, our worries have changed and our needs have changed, but changed for the better.

Are you taking a self-needed vacation this year and leaving someone or something behind?  My girlfriend is taking a vacation and leaving her cell phone and technology behind.  Now that’s tough!  How about you?

Until next ride,

Amy

It’s Here! It’s Here!

We have been checking the mail for the last two years anxiously awaiting, not giving up hope, and blaming the poor mailman!  Here is an example of our evening conversations, after checking the mail, over this long awaited time…

Dean: Did it arrive Amy?

Amy:  Not today, honey…

Dean: Do you think they’ll really publish it?

Amy:  I hope so, but not sure…

Dean: Should you check on it?

Amy:  I have been…

Dean: Ok, we probably won’t recognize ourselves once it does get published, because we’ll be so old!

Amy:  Speak for yourself!  I plan on looking the same as I did on our wedding day 20 years from now!  {well, that’s what I thought before I had a baby :) }

Dean: Of course honey :)

Drum roll…trumpets please…announcement…it’s here!  Two years in the making, or two years of Amy following up so we don’t get lost in the wedding paper shuffle, is our debut in Melbourne Bride Destination!  We were hoping for a tiny spot in the corner, but to our surprise, got four pages!!  It’s an Aussie magazine, so tough to get your hands on, since they don’t mail out of Australia.  But, so cool to know we are in a magazine!  Probably my first and last time in a magazine, so I’m going to dwell in it for a while.  Here it is…take a peek…

Looking at these pictures and reading the write-up brings back so many fun and happy memories with family and friends.  I feel like I could do it all over again…

I can’t believe we have been married for two years already.  How time flies, especially with a 14 month old.  And, your calculations are correct.  Maddie blessed us shortly after we were married.  Celebrating our one year anniversary, at home, with our three week old daughter could not have made the first year of marriage more memorable.  She is truly the icing on the cake, no wedding pun intended!

Is there something you hold onto, or have, that reminds you of a special time?  I would love to hear about it.

Until next ride,

Amy

 

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