As most of you know, Blair and I just got back from a 10 day vacation to Europe. We had a fabulous time and I wanted to share some of our favorite shots from the trip. That was hard because I took over 400 pictures :). We started off our trip by flying into Barcelona where we spent two nights at the International Cool Local Hotel as per a recommendation of a coworker. The room we stayed in was very tiny, but it had everything we needed, the price was right, and you couldn’t beat the location on La Rambla, the main street in town. I would recommend it to anyone. They also had a laptop with free Wi-fi set up which I used rather frequently to check email to see if my sister-in-law had gone into labor yet. On top of the hotel was a large terrace which I don’t think many people knew about because we had it to ourselves both nights. We got a bottle of wine and people watched from up above. It was the perfect way to unwind after a day of sightseeing.
We hit all the major tourist spots in Barcelona, unfortunately we didn’t go inside any of them because it was extremely crowded everywhere. We didn’t want to waste our day waiting in lines. We spent our second afternoon at the beach which was a nice end to a very busy day. The food in Barcelona was just okay in my opinion, but I think if you are a big seafood lover then this is a stop for you. They absolutely love ham in Spain and I am not the biggest fan of it. We did enjoy a lunch of tapas at
Ciudad Condal which came recommended by some of my foodie friends, otherwise there wasn’t much to take note of.
One highlight of Barcelona and something that I feel I need to mention here since this is a food blog and all was the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. It was absolute foodie heaven. There was vendor after vendor of everything you would ever need to make an amazing meal. If I lived in Barcelona, I think I might be there every single day. The selection was truly unbelievable. We managed to only walk out with some smoothies and a baguette that was absolutely perfect.
On Saturday morning, we boarded our ship and just relaxed by the pool. The food on the ship was very good and we were never hungry. We cruised with Royal Caribbean on The Liberty of the Seas. The ship was huge and there was a constant stream of entertainment. We woke up the next morning and were docked in Toulon/Provence, France. We had booked a wine tour with Provence Wine Tours, which was awesome. We spent the morning visiting and tasting at two wineries-the names are escaping me now, but it was interesting to learn about the rules of the wine making process in the area and the certain regulations that they have to follow. We are definitely on the lookout for some of the wines from the region now! After lunch, we went to the town of Cassis to have lunch and walk around. It was a adorable beachy town where we enjoyed some crepes. After that, we were driven up to Cap Canaille, which is the highest cliff in France. We got some really neat pictures and enjoyed the beautiful view.
Our second stop was in Villefranche/Nice, France. We didn’t have anything planned for the day so we ended up taking the bus to Nice. We walked around for a bit, got an incredible panini for lunch, and spent most of the day at the beach. The beach there was so rocky which surprisingly was not that uncomfortable laying on it, but walking to the water was another story. I now know why people were sitting so close to the water! We headed back early to check out Villefranche and take some pictures of the colorful buildings. It was a low key day which was just what we needed.
On the third day, we landed in Florence, Italy. We booked an early tour with Rome In Limo to tour Pisa and Florence. We shared this trip with 6 other people which helped offset some of the cost. Our tour guide, Elizabeth, was so fabulous. She educated us on everything that we would see in the two stops, my study of art history 10 years ago in Italy all was coming back to me as she was talking. Pisa was not much, all that was there was the leaning tower, cathedral, and baptistery. We had to take the obligatory “doink” shot for the leaning tower. I had been to Florence with my art history group, but it was nice to have some free time to wander around the city. We didn’t get to the Uffizi, but went to the Academia to Michelangelo’s David. Oh my gosh, it was absolutely amazing! To think he did that at a very young age and without any plaster model was truly astonishing. And believe me I am not one who usually gets all gushy over art. We saw all the major sites in Florence, had a great lunch, and even bought myself a new leather purse. Of course, one of the highlights of the trip was eating gelato, so amazing. I got 3 flavors, chocolate, tiramisu, and baccio…I died a little inside.
Next stop was Rome. We used the same company as the day before and had Nick as our tour guide. He was also excellent, but very different than Elizabeth. He got in several arguments with police, pointed out gypsies to us, and took us to the spot where he brought girls to impress them. On a more serious note, he drove us to all of the key spots in Rome and really knew his stuff. He said growing up his friends and him would play soccer right in the Roman ruins! He said if he did that today, he would be shot since security is much different now. We spent the afternoon at the Vatican with another tour guide who also was fabulous, but I forget her name. I was honored to see Pope John Paul the 2nd’s tomb inside St. Peter’s Basilica, since he was pope for all of my life until he died.
Our final stop was Naples. We ended up taking the ferry to Capri. Oh Capri, how I love thee. It was truly breathtaking, I may want to retire there. We used Gianni’s Boat while there. Our guide was Paulo and he took us to all the different grottos and was very knowledgeable on the history of the island. We went swimming in the beautiful water and ended our trip with some of his mom’s limoncello. I wish that day could have lasted forever. We ended up taking the ferry back to Naples since Blair really wanted to try out the pizza there. We stumbled upon a place that was excellent. The last day was at sea and we needed it after early wake ups and a day of exploring. We had the most fantastic time, but I was ready to come home by the end. We had missed the birth of my newest nephew Declan and I just wanted to get home and hold him. More on him soon! I didn’t necessarily get any new recipes while traveling, but I have some ideas on my radar now from some of the meals we ate so look for those soon!