Back to Blogging – A Four Month Recap!

Since moving back to the States in late September, I’ve been taking a blogging hiatus.  It wasn’t really planned, but I think I was traveled out and just decided to spend time with family and friends for a while.  After three and a half years of living in Italy, we were really excited to be able to catch up with everyone – from Seattle, to Texas, to Kentucky, to Arizona and beyond.  It’s been a fun ride and while Bobby prepares to leave again (for Korea this time!), I figured I’d look back at our last few months in the motherland…. [Read More]

Greece Sailing Trip 2014

The dinner setting.  How cool is the canopy structure?

We returned to Greece to sail the Dodecanese Islands for the second time.  This summer, however, we took off from the port of Kos (instead of Rodos), and traveled north to the islands of Kalymnos, Leros, Patmos, and Lipsi.  We took the “road” a little less traveled this year and ended up with a very different experience – it was a little more relaxed, more rustic, and definitely more windy with rougher seas.  Our captain was also younger and drank a little (lot!) less, which made us all feel a little safer aboard. :)    Overall, Greece never disappoints, and I am happy to say my skin is no longer translucent, but instead a speckled light tan color.

… [Read More]

Florentine Birthday

Group shot

Yesterday marked the beginning of my last year of my twenties.  Yikes!  Luckily, I had some pretty great people to celebrate with.  Our friend Eva, who happened to be in town from Belgium, and our Italian friends Tatiana and Francesco joined Bobby and me for dinner at Piazza del Vino here in Firenze.  It was our first time at this (really!) lovely restaurant and we had a great time gorging ourselves on extremely large portion sizes of Italian food and good wine.  This was just the finale of my birthday, however.  Earlier in the day, Bobby treated me to peanut M&Ms (my absolute favorite) for breakfast, I drank my yearly Coca-cola, and we watched the first Formula 1 race of the year.  Bobby also gifted me two new cookbooks, tickets to the Romeo and Juliet musical, and a Kopykake (a projector to create some pretty awesome desserts that I’ve been lusting after), which should come in the mail any day now.  All in all, it was a pretty amazing day, which makes it a little easier to come to grips with the fact that I’m only a year away from being 30.  Double yikes!

… [Read More]

Happy New Year from Florence!

Crazy wonderful sunset

Even though Bobby and I have visited Piazzale Michelangelo probably ten times since moving to Italy, the view never ceases to amaze us.  Perched on a hill looking over the valley of Florence, the piazza is a place for lovers, musicians, the young and old, and both tourists and Florentines alike to gather throughout the year.  On the first day of 2014, we wanted to take our friends Caroline and Ryan to see this breathtaking place.  The weather was absolutely perfect and we were rewarded with a pretty spectacular sunset. … [Read More]

A Weekend in Berlin

Old Eastern Bloc car breaking through the wall

Berlin has been on my “top places to visit” list ever since we moved to Europe.  We had the opportunity to spend a weekend in Berlin with our friends the Senkowskis (OSC ’12) and it exceeded all our expectations.  At first glance, we were impressed by its size, its large public transportation network, and the accessibility to international food. (Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian food anyone?)  Although it is a very trendy city with its modern art and architecture and hipster-clad 30-somethings, it is also deeply rooted in history.  There may well be a WWII museum on every corner.  I found the juxtaposition between new and old refreshing; it seemed as though the city embraced its past, but aimed to make a splash in the future.

… [Read More]

Dodecanese Islands – Part 2

Overlooking Pali on the island of Nisyros

After sailing from the port of Rhodes and stopping in Symi and the Turkish coast, we spent the rest of the week on four smaller islands – Nisyros, Tilos, Chalki, and Alimia.  Nisyros, known for its volcanic crater, is over over 150,000 years old.  The crater “valley” was pretty impressive, spanning almost two miles wide.  The largest of the craters is called Stefanos and activity is still visible today with its steaming pots and bubbling waters.  Tilos is known for its little port town of Livadia, with a large rocky beach and charming seaside restaurants.  Chalki had perhaps the best village (bearing the same name), where the colorful buildings seem to disappear directly into the water, sort of like the houses and hotels in Venice. It is a popular tourist port in the Dodecanese Islands and we saw everything from small fishing boats to large, multimillion dollar yachts.  Our last, but certainly not least, stop on our seven day sailing trip was the uninhabited island of Alimia.  Alimia, which means “one more” in Greek (it is considered an additional island to Chalki), was the site of a German/Italian WWII post, but is now a peaceful bay where boaters stop to swim on the way back to Rhodes.  We stayed the night in the bay and grilled out on our homemade campfire.

… [Read More]

Dodecanese Islands – Part 1

Muses restaurant

For our anniversary in April, I gifted Bobby a trip to northern Italy to hike the via ferrata, or “iron road,” something that he’s always wanted to do.  We were all set to go during the third week of June.  However, while watching the Giro d’Italia on TV, we saw some legs of the race in the region and we were discouraged by the piles (we’re talking 4-5 feet) of unseasonal snow on the ground. We begrudgingly canceled our trip and were trying to find a warmer vacation to satisfy our desire to hit the road when we received a great offer.  Our Italian friends Tatiana and Francesco invited us to join them on a seven-day sailing trip in the Dodecanese islands.  We couldn’t have been more excited, and quickly agreed.   The Dodecanese are a group of twelve large (plus more than 150 small) Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, of which 26 are inhabited.  With some suggestions from Tatiana and Francesco’s friends as well as our captain, we decided on a six island route.  From Rhodes, the port of departure, we sailed to Symi, Nisyros, Tilos, Chalki, Alimia, and even took a pit stop in Turkey during the second leg of the trip for a quick dip.

… [Read More]

Man Trip 2013 – The Balkans

Pimp my ride - Macedonia edition

Disclaimer: Bobby is writing this blog and blogging for the first (and probably last time) ever.

Brian Hensarling came up with the genius idea of getting revenge on the wives trip by planning a “man trip”.  Of course we wanted to go somewhere that sounded manly, but was still moderately safe.  Thus, we settled on the Balkans.  Our group consisted of six scholars from five countries – Germany (Neil Senkowski – OSC ’12), Italy (me), Belgium (Brian Hensarling – OSC ’11), Israel (Stew Welch – OSC ’11 and Garrett Moore – OSC ’13), and Bulgaria (Mark Anderson – OSC ’12).  The Balkans are home to thousands of years of fighting and few places can claim more bloodshed in their history.  Throughout the 1990s, ethnic strife and independence movements plunged the region into further conflicts culminating in Kosovo in 1999.  Eager to lay eyes on the battlefields where American forces waged not one, but two wars in recent history, we set off…. [Read More]

Olmsted Ladies Trip 2013 – Mallorca

Welcome to Soller!

Every year, the Olmsted ladies (wives and female scholars) from Europe and Africa travel to a different destination for a little girls-only fun.  Last year, the girls joined up in Edinburgh for some relaxation and site-seeing.  While absolutely beautiful, it was a wee (okay a little more than “wee”) bit cold.  Remembering all too well our frozen hands and toes, we opted for a warmer destination this year.  My friend and fellow Olmsted wife, Jen Hensarling, planned our trip this year.  After a few rounds of voting, seven Olmsted wives and one scholar decided on Mallorca.  The island is the largest of the Balearic archipelago and is practically a German colony in the summer, with most of the flights coming from either Spain or Germany.  In fact, my flight went from Florence to Frankfurt and then to Mallorca.  It is also a common vacation destination for the Irish and Polish, and I can’t say I blame them!… [Read More]

Flying South

Beautiful

After almost two weeks of some pretty darn cold weather, we were excited to be heading south to (hopefully) some warmer weather.  That didn’t actually work out, but we loved our last stops nevertheless.  We made a pit stop in Luxembourg and it actually snowed overnight, which made it pretty difficult to venture out and site-see.  We did head over to the American WWII Cemetery though and the snow made it even more beautiful.  After that, we made it to Strasbourg, France and got to spend some time with another Olmsted Scholar, Maureen Tanner (OSC ’12), her husband, and lovely little daughter.

… [Read More]