Friday, July 31, 2015

Roman Holiday

Rome... oh, Rome!

I've got to be honest, of all three cities that John and I visited in Europe, Rome was the one that I thought I was going to enjoy the least.  But much to my surprise, Rome ended up being my favorite!  It is such a beautiful city with so much history.
And let's be real... the food was unreal - gelato, pasta, pizza - I die!

When we first got to Rome it was hottttt and humid, so we wasted no time in taking advantage of the Roman city water.  Rome has water fountains throughout the city where you can refill your bottles... it feels a bit strange at first, but the water tastes great!

Fountain of the Old Boat!


First stop... the Spanish Steps! I'm a little bit obsessed with Roman Holiday, so it was no question that the Spanish Steps would be a must-see (...like 10 times) for me.  And we enjoyed the Spanish Steps while eating the most mind blowing pasta.  Rome has amazing food, and mediocre food... and John and I did not want to waste a single calorie on anything that wasn't going to be amazing.

John found out about a little pasta shop called Pastificio that is only open from 1-2PM for lunch, but you have to show up at least 30 minutes early to get in line because one the pasta is gone, they close for the day.  And get this... this amazingly fresh pasta is only 4 Euro - hollerrr!

When John and I first started eating, we seriously did not say anything to each other for about 30 minutes because we didn't want to stop eating - that good!


Spanish Steps


After lunch we walked off our pasta and explored the city and all of its piazzas! Each piazza featured a unique and impressive Bernini fountain.


Piazza Navona




River Tiber


Instead of a hotel, John and I did an Airbnb and it was conveniently located right outside the Pantheon... honestly, we walked out of our door and the Pantheon was right there - it was unreal!  

We toured inside, and it was certainly beautiful, but it was mostly so hard to believe all of its history... the Pantheon (as it currently stands) was built in approximately 118AD.  What?!




We enjoyed a lovely dinner and some wine right outside of the Pantheon and it was the perfect end to our first day in Roma!



We started our second day bright and early at Vatican City.  
We toured the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, and St. Peter's Basilica.  

The tour we took allowed us entry to the Sistine Chapel before it opened to the pubic, and both John and I were speechless... there were no photos allowed in the Sistine Chapel, but let me tell you, Michelangelo was the real deal!  

I knew very little about Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel, so the tour was extremely educational and interesting.  Honestly, had we not taken a tour, I would have not gotten nearly as much out of the experience.

After the Sistine Chapel, we toured the Vatican Museums.






Raphael Rooms - amazing!



St. Peter's Basilica





Swiss Guards, AKA the world's smallest army!


St. Peter's Square




After touring Vatican City (which is technically its own country!), we headed back to Rome and went to the Trevi Fountain.  Super sadly it was under restoration so it was blocked off with construction equipment... I guess that's what happens when you're trying to maintain something so old!


Although it was closed off for construction, you better believe I still threw my coin... just to make sure I would return to Rome some day.  :)


We finished the evening exploring the city and walking to Pincio Gardens to catch the sunset.  
It couldn't have been more perfect!

Piazza Barberini



View from the Pincio Gardens... just in time for the sunset!



And of course... more pasta for dinner!


Fontana del Pantheon at night


Our third day in Rome was spent touring the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Colosseum.  Similar to the tours the day before, having a guide was key; we would not have gotten nearly as much out of our visit without someone explaining the history and context.

Roman Forum





Palatine Hill



The Colosseum



Part of our Colosseum tour included going to the underground sections and third level which are closed off to the general public.  It was so interesting hearing about the different shows that were put on in the arena - it makes me consider watching the movie Gladiator! ;)




After our tours, we finished our final day in Rome by heading to the Bocca della Verita - the Mouth of Truth!! And on our way, I chowed down on some fresh coconut... delish!


Sadly, when we got to the Bocca della Verita it was closed for the day.  I was really disappointed as my favorite scene in Roman Holiday was when Gregory Peck put his hand into the mouth and pretended it was bitten off!


We finished our final evening in Rome by eating an absurd amount of food at L'Enoteca Antica.  This was honestly a perfect close to our trip... the wine, food, and company couldn't have been more perfect - I am pretty sure we were there for close to 4 hours eating!


Rome was so amazing, and I now am on a mission to explore the rest of Italy... yes, please!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

5 Reasons to Take Professional Photos Abroad

When John and I were in Europe, we decided to have professional photos taken as a way to help remember our trip... and we are both so happy we did!

Here are five reasons to consider professional photos abroad.

ONE

You want to enjoy your trip... and not experience your travels through the lens of your camera.  Taking professional photos allows you to relax knowing that when all is said and done, you'll have some keepers to frame (so no need to try 30 times for a cute photo of you and your travel buddy when it just ain't happening... let it go - you have professional photos coming... my hubby appreciates this one!).


TWO

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about a offering to take another couple's photo (so that they then "think" to offer to return the favor), but let's be real, the chances that my new photo-swapping friend works a camera like a professional is not likely.

Honestly, you'll be lucky if you can get a photo without a finger in the frame... and the whole "Oops, my hair is messed up; can you please try to take one more?!" can only be used twice max on the same person.

Take this photo, for example... looking for my husband?
He's behind that man walking in front of our picture.



THREE

The truth is, planning a large trip is sort of like planning a wedding... there is a lot of time, research, preparation, and money that goes into the process... and when all is done and over with, you're left with one thing: the beautiful memories that you made during that time.

And what better way to help you remember how beautiful your trip was than to get professional photos to help memorialize the trip?


FOUR

Shamefully, I tried out the whole selfie-stick thing.  It works in a pinch, but it does make me feel a little bit ridiculous, and I'm certainly no selfie-stick genius (which makes the majority of the photos awkward and a wash).

As lovely as a candid is, these selfie-stick outtakes likely won't be framed! ;)



FIVE

Traveling abroad is expensive, but taking photos abroad doesn't have to be with the right photographer.  Also, it's just an hour (max) of your time, and in return, you will have beautiful photos to cherish forever.















If you are interested in taking professional photos abroad, here are 3 tips for getting what you're looking for!


ONE

Take photos early in the morning.  John and I started our photos around 7AM, and at that time, the only other people out are either doing the same thing or are still out from the night before... you don't need 1,000 of your closest friends in your photos - so go early.


TWO

This is personal preference, but I wanted an iconic location for our photos.  Around the city is great, but the Eiffel Tower (or any other major landmark) makes for great photos.


THREE

Looking for a photographer?  One thing that I've started doing is searching the hashtag #cityphotographer (for example, "#parisphotographer" or "#romephotographer"), then going through the results to find a style that you like.


Looking for photos in Paris?
You must check out I Heart Paris... Federico is so incredibly talented and I will forever cherish the photos that he took for John and me on our amazing European adventure!  Side note: if you are consumed by wanderlust, you must check out their Instagram... it leaves me dreaming of Paris!


You can read more about our time in Paris here!
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