Maui - January 2013

Maui - January 2013

 These girls had a blast traveling with their friend Evie (and Pete and I got to enjoy the company of Evie's parents!). Hailey and Charlotte were so excited about the sand....they played for hours and hours in the sand.

 We stayed in Kahana for the first week. Upon arrival we discovered that there had been a fire on the property and as such, we were greeted by a security guard who was sitting at a folding table under a tent. Awesome.

We loved the view from our room. It was super windy the first night (as in, I thought the building might blow over) but it settled down the next day and we were soon enjoying our accommodations (I didn't get much sleep the first night because the windows and doors were all rattling with the wind).

I abandoned this post (and blog) shortly after our trip, so there you have it. Short and simple, the first part of our trip is summed up in pictures. :)

Maui - January 2013

Maui - January 2013

 These girls had a blast traveling with their friend Evie (and Pete and I got to enjoy the company of Evie's parents!). Hailey and Charlotte were so excited about the sand....they played for hours and hours in the sand.

 We stayed in Kahana for the first week. Upon arrival we discovered that there had been a fire on the property and as such, we were greeted by a security guard who was sitting at a folding table under a tent. Awesome.

We loved the view from our room. It was super windy the first night (as in, I thought the building might blow over) but it settled down the next day and we were soon enjoying our accommodations (I didn't get much sleep the first night because the windows and doors were all rattling with the wind).

I abandoned this post (and blog) shortly after our trip, so there you have it. Short and simple, the first part of our trip is summed up in pictures. :)

How To...Travel with an infant

I absolutely love traveling and I didn't want kids to be a reason we couldn't travel the world to see new places.

That said, here are some tips and tricks I learned while traveling to Italy with a 7 month old:

1. Be prepared for time change adjustments. It took our daughter two nights to get it figured out. We were frustrated and confused when she started screaming at 3am the first night. It lasted about half an hour as we tried to figure out what was wrong (we were a bit groggy at the time). We finally figured out that it would have been a normal eating time for us back home and she was hungry. We gave her some snacks and she calmed down. Then we played with her for an hour...then somewhere around 4:30 or 5am, we all went back to sleep. The next night was similar. Be ready for a few nights of adjusting to a new timezone. Our daughters bedtime was quite late during our trip - this meant we could do a long day of touring and eat a late dinner. My advice? Don't worry about bedtimes when you're traveling abroad.

2. Get your baby comfortable sleeping anywhere. Before you go, set up a pack n play in a random room in your house. Put them down for naps there - get them used to sleeping in new places so when you travel, it's not a big deal that they aren't in their own bed. Our daughter has slept on the floor, in pack n plays, in drawers, and in closets  (with the door open). You can make a bed out of a blanket and use a few pillows as bumpers. If you are comfortable co-sleeping, go for it.

3. Bring a bag of Cheerios (or Nature's Path Organic Whole O's for the gluten-free). Yes, we flew to Italy with a ziplock full of Cheerios - why? Cheerios offer a distraction. We went out to dinner and would give our daughter Cheerios as we waited for our food. If we were on a tour and she was getting fussy, we brought out the Cheerios. Late night snack? Yup. Cheerios. They were a life saver (and we couldn't find any Cheerios in Italy)!

4. Wear your baby. I have an Ergo Baby and let me tell you, having your hands free and a napping baby is delightful when you're trekking across the Cinque Terre. I actually learned how to nurse while walking when we were on a tour in Rome - it was a bit awkward at first, but then we got the hang of it and just kept at it for the rest of the trip. Also, the Ergo Baby has a pocket on the front - it was a great place to store passports and cheerios...for when you're waiting in that long immigrations line.

5. Bring a handful of small, but interesting toys. We took about 6-8 toys. Stacking blocks, teeny board books, links (Links Rattle Developmental Toy), a ball (Baby Einstein Bendy Ball), and a little stuffed animal development/teething toy that could be clipped onto the Ergo (Lamaze Play and Grow Mortimer the Moose Take Along Toy).

6. Bring a good backpack. I'm talking, one that's not hard on your back (something like this). I highly recommend a backpack with a waist/hip strap - this will better distribute the weight so you don't have a big pull on your shoulders. Lots of little pockets are useful when you're traveling. Snacks, pacifier, phone, important documents, travel guide, etc can all be stored efficiently in a backpack like this. If you're going to Europe, chances are you will be walking around a lot. Backpacks are great for bringing along the daily essentials and we always had a little room in there for some souvenirs. We packed about 5 diapers in the bag, wipes, a changing pad, a spare onsie, snacks, travel high-chair, and a couple little toys.

7. Stock up on food for your little one before it's too late. We visited Civita di Bagnoregio in Italy and had planned to stay there for 2 nights. We were in need of food for our daughter, but got there late and as we should have known, there wasn't much there - no market to buy food! We did have dinner in our little bed and breakfast and we fed our daughter carrots, but morning came, and she was starving and since it was a Sunday morning in a dying city, there was NOTHING open and we went on a scavenger hunt for food (btw, B&B in Italy means you will get a packaged chocolate filled croissant - they were good, but not quite the breakfast we were needing for our 7 month old). We ended up wandering around the teeny town long enough to find a young lady who happened to have an apple in her sack lunch - she shared it with us (bless her heart!). We felt stupid for not planning ahead. We just didn't realize that finding food for a 7 month old would be so difficult. Oh, and the Cheerios we had packed? They were ruined when our top floor apartment in Rome sprung a leak in the roof and dumped rusty water all over the kitchen (and into the cheerio bag). Markets have weird hours in Italy (i.e. closed on Sunday, closed for siesta, etc), so when we found one that was open, we made sure to stock up so we weren't caught without food for our kid. 

8. Bring a portable high-chair. At the first place we stayed on our trip, they happened to have a high chair - but that was the ONLY place we ever saw one in Italy. Thankfully I had packed a travel high chair that fits on almost any chair (find it here: My Little Seat). We've used this thing all over the place - and it packs up into a little pouch - toss it in your backpack.

9. Pack light. I ended up wearing the same black tank top almost every single day of our trip (we did laundry once during our 3 weeks abroad). I packed way more than just that one tank top, but I hadn't thought about the logistics of breastfeeding on the go when I packed. I seriously over packed and my husband had to carry around that extra weight on my behalf. I should have packed fewer clothes for myself and planned on buying some clothes abroad if I needed more. I bought a dress at a flea market in Italy, and it's still the favorite in my closet. I wish I'd bought more clothes in Italy!

10. Bring a duffel bag packed with only diapers and snacks. We took a light weight duffel bag and filled it with diapers, and snack bars from Costco. My husband wore a backpacking pack on his back and slung the duffel on his side as we traveled between towns (I wore the baby on my front and a backpack on my back). As we went about our travels, the duffel bag got lighter as we used things and we had room for souvenirs if we needed it. We only had to buy diapers once - at the end of our trip.

11. Take your cell phone. Before you go, make sure to call your carrier to have them give you an unlock code (so you can use your phone on other mobile networks). If you have a phone that takes a SIM card, buy a prepaid SIM once you get to your destination. We had to use the phone a few times to confirm reservations, change check in times, or arrange lodging for the night - spending $20 on a prepaid SIM saved us loads on roaming charges.

12. Ask for either bulkhead or back row seats on the airplane. The bulkhead row has more room on the floor where your feet go - we let our baby sit on a blanket on the floor and play with her toys when it was approved to have seat belts off. Some airplanes even have bassinets in the bulkhead isle. If you can't get bulkhead seats, sit towards the back of the plane. It's louder back there, so you're less likely to disturb others with your fussy/loud/crying/happy baby. There's also more room to walk around with your baby in the rear of the plane. And you'll be right by the bathrooms...so diaper changes are a breeze.



Bonus Tip: Don't freak out about everybody talking to you and your baby - even if you have no idea what they're saying. We barely saw any babies in Italy and when people saw ours they sort of treated us like celebrities. Everyone came over to talk to our baby. People even wanted to hold her. Rumor has it that women have entered the work force in Italy instead of having babies...and by the time they have a baby, they stay home and never go anywhere with their baby (no really, that's what a local told us). It was a mystery to us why we saw so few babies (or kids in general), but it was kind of fun being told how beautiful our baby was day in and day out. It was weird at first, but once we accepted that they love babies, we were happy to have the attention. I even had an older German-speaking man hollering to me as I was playing in the water with my daughter. I figured out by his hand motions that he wanted my picture. I picked up my girl and smiled as he excitedly snapped a few pics. He thanked me and off he went. Weird. But totally funny. I have NO idea what he was saying, but it was awesome (and confusing).

Do you have any tips for traveling with kids? Please share in the comments!

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 2011

We just got back from a 2 week long vacation to Mexico. It was full of all sorts of adventures and lazy days at the pool. Here's a summary of our trip as seen through our camera lens.
We arrived in time for the sunset and the picture above pretty much sums up how beautiful this beach was. We were staying at this amazing condominium complex my sis-in-law Kim found listed on good old craigslist (bargain priced for our last minute booking at the start of the 'slow' season). We actually had 2 condos in the building rented out during the time we were there. Kim's cousin Krista, her husband Ryan and their kids Savannah and Hunter arrived a week prior to our arrival and we had 3 days of overlap with them. Kim's mom Daphne (or 'nana' as the kids call her) was also there to soak in the sun. And the master coordinator Kim and fam was of course there to enjoy this family gathering. Our friend Amber arrived the day after we got there.Everyone was in the pool when we arrived, so we quickly got changed and headed down. This was the every day scene. The water was warm, like a bath tub! We played and played and played in the pool all day most days.
Before Ryan and Krista's family left, we all went to town to shop and eat. Here's the other Myron family on the boardwalk. That's Amber on the left!

We all went to dinner together at The Blue Shrimp. The girls really liked the live music and Ella showed off her dance moves. Charlotte got to try some prepackaged food I brought for her. She loved it. I had to capture her chowing down because it was so cute.
Kim, Amber and I have been friends since elementary school! We had fun reminiscing on times past and it was really nice to catch up with Amber. Her new husband (they got married in Thailand a month ago!) had to work and didn't get to come. Amber stayed in the condo with us the first week. She was missing her man and I think she was trying to call him on her shell phone when I took this pic...
We mostly hung out at the pool all day, but we did find time to enjoy the sand and surf too. The littlest Myron girls even took a nap on the beach together. So cute.
Our little family went to town for dinner one night. The sunset was beautiful and we had some great food at Daiquiri Dick's. The manager there spoke English and told us that the chef from Matt's on the Market (in Pike Place) had been down to PV and had inspired 2 of the items on the menu. Small world!
Here's our condo from the beach. We would stay there again!!

One morning as I was standing above the beach taking in the view I saw 6 manta ray swimming right at the waters edge. I couldn't believe it. I ran up to get the camera (and Hailey). I'm glad I got this video...but was a little disappointed when I realized that I missed hitting the record button when there was some real action. The family that had been chasing the manta ray back and forth at waters edge....ended up right by one. One of the guys was standing ankle deep in the water and threw a rock at one of them. The manta ray turned and kind of flapped out of the water a bit onto shore and tried to attack the guy. The family all screamed and ran different directions and I thought I had just captured the most amazing you tube video yet....only to realize that I hadn't actually pressed the record button. :( It was quite a site though...trust me, it was cool (and I was a little annoyed that the guy threw a huge rock at the thing as it was just trying to get it's breakfast).

Pete and I got sucked into a Tau Resorts timeshare presentation. It was actually a really nice resort (it isn't built yet, but they did have a sample unit built). The pic above is of the beach at the resort. It was really pretty and the ownership bit itself was priced really well (we have since determined!). We're not sure about timeshares yet...and though it was really tempting to buy the last ditch effort deal they offered (3 weeks/year for 10 year ownership - $2225), we didn't. We claimed our $300 cash for attending and went on our merry way. We got back late to the condo and it was the day we were moving to the Grand Mayan...everyone was waiting on us.
We quickly packed up and were on our way. We arrived to the Grand Mayan and waited as Kim and Dave got us checked in (for some reason it was a slow/long check in process).
The guys got right down to business and inspected every nook and crannie of our unit. The hole in the ceiling didn't actually go anywhere (a little disappointing)...
The art in the unit was interesting. We named this one "hooters". I don't think I need to explain any further, just look at the painting.Here we are on another timeshare presentation. Yup. We were after a $300 room credit and 10% discount on everything charged to our room this time. We suffered through this presentation and eventually went on our way. This timeshare was so crazy expensive (even after they presented all the discounts), it made Pete and I wonder if we should have bought the other one! We're just not sure we like being locked into the timeshare resorts...so the jury is still out on whether a timeshare would be beneficial for our travel style.
Pete and I took the girls to town again. This time we ended up eating lunch in a bar. I was confused why when I ordered one margarita I received 2. Ah....happy hour in Mexico....2 for 1. Got it. So Pete got to have a margarita too. The food at this place was really inexpensive (my tacos were about $1.50 for 2) and the food was really good. I might even say that the food here was my absolute favorite of the entire trip. The green peppers were HOT and in everything we ordered. Charlotte wasn't happy that night...unfortunately I think it was a bit too spicy for her system. We kept marveling that we were sitting in a bar with our kids. It was odd....but the live music was great and we had a good time.
You can't go to Mexico and skip out on tequila tasting can you? Taste we did. We ended up bringing home some tequila in 2 flavors - chocolate and coffee. It was the most random purchase...but hey, when in Mexico...
Charlotte and Gigi had fun hanging out together (Gigi is 7 weeks younger than Charlotte). Charlotte expanded her skill set on this trip. Her 2nd tooth showed up on day 2. She had a lot to see and scooted her way around in order to be a part of things. She started sitting up on her own from a crawl too. I walked into the bedroom to get her up from her nap and was surprised to find her sitting in her crib! She learned to say 'dada' on this trip, but she's only saying it when prodded. She's now saying 'mama' quite frequently. She loved sitting in her float in the pool. She was so happy to be in the water and would kick kick kick her legs in the water. Upon arriving home she's been pulling herself up on everything (the couch, my leg, a chair, her sister...you name it).
Hailey helped Ella and Sylvia wash some laundry for Kim. The girls had a good time stomping on all the clothes. It was $14/load to do laundry at the resort so Kim made do with her free helpers for her 2nd load. Hailey and her cousins had fun together of course... It's really nice that they all play together so well.
Dave discovered that he could access some of the resorts file system simply by opening his file browser and clicking on the grand mayan's network. The guys were having a blast geeking out about that and really wanted to photoshop one of the image files, but fret not, they at least didn't have enough access to do that (though they could view all of the photography studio's pictures).
I actually don't remember what we were doing in the pic above. I'm guessing that we were in town and happened upon the shoreline.
One of our last nights in PV...we were looking for a taxi to take us back to the resort and couldn't resist a pretty sunset family picture.
Hanging at the pool the day before we left. Hailey wore that float vest whenever we were in the water and she did really well kicking herself all around. It was really nice to not have to hold her the whole time...and she got to be a 'big' kid and swim around with Sylvia and Ella.
The plane ride home...tan and in our warm clothes once again.
I should mention that we flew home on Friday the 13th....I thought this was a fitting picture. ;)

All in all, it was a fun trip...and I'm glad to be home. I get a little home sick sometimes and being that I love the spring time (my favorite season of the year) I was really happy to come home and see all of the cherry trees in bloom and to hear the birds singing. I'm seriously loving the spring weather here (especially today!) and it's kind of nice to have a tan to go along with it! ;)

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 2011

We just got back from a 2 week long vacation to Mexico. It was full of all sorts of adventures and lazy days at the pool. Here's a summary of our trip as seen through our camera lens.
We arrived in time for the sunset and the picture above pretty much sums up how beautiful this beach was. We were staying at this amazing condominium complex my sis-in-law Kim found listed on good old craigslist (bargain priced for our last minute booking at the start of the 'slow' season). We actually had 2 condos in the building rented out during the time we were there. Kim's cousin Krista, her husband Ryan and their kids Savannah and Hunter arrived a week prior to our arrival and we had 3 days of overlap with them. Kim's mom Daphne (or 'nana' as the kids call her) was also there to soak in the sun. And the master coordinator Kim and fam was of course there to enjoy this family gathering. Our friend Amber arrived the day after we got there.Everyone was in the pool when we arrived, so we quickly got changed and headed down. This was the every day scene. The water was warm, like a bath tub! We played and played and played in the pool all day most days.
Before Ryan and Krista's family left, we all went to town to shop and eat. Here's the other Myron family on the boardwalk. That's Amber on the left!

We all went to dinner together at The Blue Shrimp. The girls really liked the live music and Ella showed off her dance moves. Charlotte got to try some prepackaged food I brought for her. She loved it. I had to capture her chowing down because it was so cute.
Kim, Amber and I have been friends since elementary school! We had fun reminiscing on times past and it was really nice to catch up with Amber. Her new husband (they got married in Thailand a month ago!) had to work and didn't get to come. Amber stayed in the condo with us the first week. She was missing her man and I think she was trying to call him on her shell phone when I took this pic...
We mostly hung out at the pool all day, but we did find time to enjoy the sand and surf too. The littlest Myron girls even took a nap on the beach together. So cute.
Our little family went to town for dinner one night. The sunset was beautiful and we had some great food at Daiquiri Dick's. The manager there spoke English and told us that the chef from Matt's on the Market (in Pike Place) had been down to PV and had inspired 2 of the items on the menu. Small world!
Here's our condo from the beach. We would stay there again!!

One morning as I was standing above the beach taking in the view I saw 6 manta ray swimming right at the waters edge. I couldn't believe it. I ran up to get the camera (and Hailey). I'm glad I got this video...but was a little disappointed when I realized that I missed hitting the record button when there was some real action. The family that had been chasing the manta ray back and forth at waters edge....ended up right by one. One of the guys was standing ankle deep in the water and threw a rock at one of them. The manta ray turned and kind of flapped out of the water a bit onto shore and tried to attack the guy. The family all screamed and ran different directions and I thought I had just captured the most amazing you tube video yet....only to realize that I hadn't actually pressed the record button. :( It was quite a site though...trust me, it was cool (and I was a little annoyed that the guy threw a huge rock at the thing as it was just trying to get it's breakfast).

Pete and I got sucked into a Tau Resorts timeshare presentation. It was actually a really nice resort (it isn't built yet, but they did have a sample unit built). The pic above is of the beach at the resort. It was really pretty and the ownership bit itself was priced really well (we have since determined!). We're not sure about timeshares yet...and though it was really tempting to buy the last ditch effort deal they offered (3 weeks/year for 10 year ownership - $2225), we didn't. We claimed our $300 cash for attending and went on our merry way. We got back late to the condo and it was the day we were moving to the Grand Mayan...everyone was waiting on us.
We quickly packed up and were on our way. We arrived to the Grand Mayan and waited as Kim and Dave got us checked in (for some reason it was a slow/long check in process).
The guys got right down to business and inspected every nook and crannie of our unit. The hole in the ceiling didn't actually go anywhere (a little disappointing)...
The art in the unit was interesting. We named this one "hooters". I don't think I need to explain any further, just look at the painting.Here we are on another timeshare presentation. Yup. We were after a $300 room credit and 10% discount on everything charged to our room this time. We suffered through this presentation and eventually went on our way. This timeshare was so crazy expensive (even after they presented all the discounts), it made Pete and I wonder if we should have bought the other one! We're just not sure we like being locked into the timeshare resorts...so the jury is still out on whether a timeshare would be beneficial for our travel style.
Pete and I took the girls to town again. This time we ended up eating lunch in a bar. I was confused why when I ordered one margarita I received 2. Ah....happy hour in Mexico....2 for 1. Got it. So Pete got to have a margarita too. The food at this place was really inexpensive (my tacos were about $1.50 for 2) and the food was really good. I might even say that the food here was my absolute favorite of the entire trip. The green peppers were HOT and in everything we ordered. Charlotte wasn't happy that night...unfortunately I think it was a bit too spicy for her system. We kept marveling that we were sitting in a bar with our kids. It was odd....but the live music was great and we had a good time.
You can't go to Mexico and skip out on tequila tasting can you? Taste we did. We ended up bringing home some tequila in 2 flavors - chocolate and coffee. It was the most random purchase...but hey, when in Mexico...
Charlotte and Gigi had fun hanging out together (Gigi is 7 weeks younger than Charlotte). Charlotte expanded her skill set on this trip. Her 2nd tooth showed up on day 2. She had a lot to see and scooted her way around in order to be a part of things. She started sitting up on her own from a crawl too. I walked into the bedroom to get her up from her nap and was surprised to find her sitting in her crib! She learned to say 'dada' on this trip, but she's only saying it when prodded. She's now saying 'mama' quite frequently. She loved sitting in her float in the pool. She was so happy to be in the water and would kick kick kick her legs in the water. Upon arriving home she's been pulling herself up on everything (the couch, my leg, a chair, her sister...you name it).
Hailey helped Ella and Sylvia wash some laundry for Kim. The girls had a good time stomping on all the clothes. It was $14/load to do laundry at the resort so Kim made do with her free helpers for her 2nd load. Hailey and her cousins had fun together of course... It's really nice that they all play together so well.
Dave discovered that he could access some of the resorts file system simply by opening his file browser and clicking on the grand mayan's network. The guys were having a blast geeking out about that and really wanted to photoshop one of the image files, but fret not, they at least didn't have enough access to do that (though they could view all of the photography studio's pictures).
I actually don't remember what we were doing in the pic above. I'm guessing that we were in town and happened upon the shoreline.
One of our last nights in PV...we were looking for a taxi to take us back to the resort and couldn't resist a pretty sunset family picture.
Hanging at the pool the day before we left. Hailey wore that float vest whenever we were in the water and she did really well kicking herself all around. It was really nice to not have to hold her the whole time...and she got to be a 'big' kid and swim around with Sylvia and Ella.
The plane ride home...tan and in our warm clothes once again.
I should mention that we flew home on Friday the 13th....I thought this was a fitting picture. ;)

All in all, it was a fun trip...and I'm glad to be home. I get a little home sick sometimes and being that I love the spring time (my favorite season of the year) I was really happy to come home and see all of the cherry trees in bloom and to hear the birds singing. I'm seriously loving the spring weather here (especially today!) and it's kind of nice to have a tan to go along with it! ;)

Maui 2011

((Finally just posting this as is. It's been sitting as a draft in its current state for months! Something is better than nothing, right?))
---------------------------------------
We had an awesome trip to Maui and I don't want to forget...so I'm trying my best to get this documented even a little bit (things sure are busy with 2 little girls in the house!).

We started off our trip by getting a whole middle row (3 seats) and a window row (2 seats) on the plane to ourselves. I now know how to book seats when you have 2 lap kids...they couldn't accommodate all of us the way I had booked (in the middle row there aren't enough air masks) and so they blocked off a bunch of seats for us. We were lucky both on the way there and back (same exact situation on the return flight!). The girls were great on the flight. It was so nice for Hailey to have her own seat - I can't even imagine what it would have been like if she'd been in our laps the whole time.

We arrived on Maui and found my brother Jason in the airport - he'd arrived 45 minutes prior to our arrival. It was nice to have extra hands to help gather up our bags and carseats (that's a lot to haul around when you have 2 kids to lug around too). We got our rental car and as we were heading out we got an offer for $100 off our car rental if we sat through a timeshare presentation. I like discounts and the rental was already a chunk of money I wasn't excited about spending, so we set up our appointment and off we went...to Costco.
I should have written a list and stuck to it, but since we didn't have a list and were eager to get to our hotel, we just grabbed a bunch of food and went on our merry way. We ended up with too much of a few items at the end of our trip - I'm hoping the cleaning lady was able to take it home and make use of it. ;)
We arrived and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the place we were staying was actually quite nice. The grounds were pretty and our room was huge. It wasn't luxury living, but it had everything we needed and we arrived just in time to watch the sunset from our lanai.
We decided to eat dinner at the hotel restaurant. The chef made a wonderful specialized gluten free meal for me and we all enjoyed our food. That was the only meal we ate at that restaurant, and now that it's said and done, we wish we'd taken advantage of the great happy hour prices or even the breakfast deals (why do that when we can make our own though?). The girls were starting to get a little fussy, so I headed back to the room with them and Pete and Jason paid the bill and followed suit. We put the girls in bed and settled in to watch some TV. Jason and I eventually went down to the hot tub and soaked (I don't know how it worked out that I went with Jason, but for some reason, Pete didn't seem to want to go - or maybe he was just being nice as usual).
In the morning we were equally happy with our view (wait, it was still dark when I got up). The girls were up way too early...and as I'd finished feeding Charlotte, I decided to get my workout clothes on and head to the hotel gym. I figured Jason was awake so I mentioned to him that I was going to work out and he was welcome to join. I think it was about 6am when i made this statement. He thought I was kidding, but as soon as the door closed he figured, what the heck...he'd work out too (I mean, he was already awake because of our girls so why not). So I was on the step machine when he walked in (I was only 10 minutes in). Those steppers provide a good workout! Youch. I thought this working out thing might last the whole trip, but I think I was fooling myself. I did go for a run on a different day...and my swimming has to count for something right?
So anyway, I made us bacon, eggs and waffles and then the girls went down for a nap. I figured Pete needed to work (he was planning on working a few hours here and there from Maui) and I saw it as a perfect opportunity for Jason and I got go down to the beach for some swimming and snorkeling. We made sure to stay in view of our lanai so I could get back to the room if Pete was out there waving his arms frantically indicating that little miss Charlotte was in need of her mommy.
As soon as Jason got in the water he tried to put his flippers on...and they were too big. So he kicked to stay afloat and off the thing went and into the great unknown it went. The water was pretty murky and the sun was still low, so we figured the flipper was a loss. There wasn't much to see right there anyway. We had fun floating in the water and eventually went back inside where we discussed our afternoon plans (did I mention that we were out swimming at 9am? we still had the whole day to play!).
We decided it would be fun to go snorkeling at Black Rock. We headed over there (10 minute drive) and set up on the beach. As we were getting situated a girl and her husband walked by and after doing a double take, they turned around and came back. It was a girl who's son is Hailey's age and we've done several classes together at the community center. It was so random, and I was glad she recognized me. It's a small world! Hailey loved playing in the sand. And yes, I was *that* person who had their kid as hidden from the sun as possible. Well, okay...I didn't have pants on her - but I did keep her long sleeve top, shorts and a hat on her almost the whole time we were ever at a beach. She didn't even care - she just rolled with it. Oh, and that big red tent in the picture above? I had found that last summer at a garage sale for a buck and I finally had a legit use for it (other than a play tent in our house)! I packed it in our bag. Yup. I'm a creative packer and managed to get that thing in our bag so I would have a nice spot for Charlotte to hang out at on the beach. It worked very well.

Pete and Jason headed off to black rock with their snorkel gear on (Jason minus flippers) and I hung out with the girls and soaked up some sun. They came back and Jason and I headed back out to the rock while Pete stayed with the little ones. Having Jason along was really proving to be a smart move on our part! Not only was it great to just hang out with him so much, but the benefit of being able to still go out swimming and snorkeling while traveling with two girls under 2 proved to be awesome. The snorkeling at black rock wasn't amazing like we'd heard. It was fun of course, but the fish weren't much to write home about.

The next day Pete, Charlotte and I went to a 2 hour timeshare presentation (in order to get the $100 discount on our car rental). Jason and Hailey wandered around Lahaina and had ice cream while they waited for us. The timeshare presentation was at least interesting and the guy we were talking to was quite entertaining. He had a manager that he called 'mom' because she kept coming over and butting in and adding her $.02 that were totally unrelated to whatever we'd been talking about. We were glad it was so entertaining...since we were spending two whole hours inside during prime beach time. ;) We declined the timeshare and headed out with our activity discount cards and $100 rental discount. We were satisfied.
I can't remember what all we did during the day, but it probably involved a beach and swimsuits. We then headed to a luau - our first one ever! We enjoyed the entertainment and were glad we went. Hailey was getting a bit tired and loony - so by the time it was over, I was a bit relieved to be able to get her back to the condo and in bed.

I should mention that Hailey slept in the closet. It was a huge closet, so we made her a little bed... She thought it was pretty cool.
Saturday was a lay by the pool kind of day. Pete and Hailey were the only brave ones to enter the water. The pool used to be solar heated...as in, there was a working system to ensure the pool was warm. Now it's still solar heated, but just by the sun beating down on it. It was cold. It seemed only kids played in the pool. Pete and Hailey didn't last long. There was a great kid pool though - Hailey and I enjoyed it together and Hailey even made friends with two girls who played catch with her!
When we were done at the pool we headed into Ka'anapali to drop Jason off at a golf event. Our little family of 4 relaxed at the condo while Jason was away (I think we spent more time in the kid pool and took naps). We headed out a little early to pick up Jason so we could drive around and explore a bit. We spied on the golf event and tried to spot Jason in the crowd (pretty sure we saw him - my parents saw him in the crowd on TV!).
We met up with Jason at whalers village after the event. Hailey was running around in a store and fell onto a sharp edge...
We headed back to the condo and barbecued some dinner.

Our days kind of continued on in this pattern of visiting the beach and eating... and then on day 6 - my other brother Kyle, his wife Kari and their two kids Saben and Annika arrived. We had rented a condo in Kihei, so we headed that direction. On the way, we stopped off at a spot Pete and I had previously snorkeled at on a prior trip. The girls were napping, so Jason and I left Pete and the girls in the mini van and headed out for a 'quick' snorkel. Whoops. An hour later we made our way back to the van and I think by this point Pete had been getting tired of playing angry birds on his phone. The snorkeling was the best of the trip, so Jason and I were glad we'd stopped. Time flies when you're having fun!

On one of the days we were out snorkeling I got hung up on some coral as I tried to find my way out of shallow water and got knocked by a wave and OUCH....that stuff is sharp. Shark bait was a fitting nickname and it wasn't until several days later that I started researching sharks in Hawaii on the internet and became extremely thankful a shark hadn't found me when I was leaving a trail of blood in the water as I snorkeled quite a ways out from shore with Kari. I guess I'm just as clumsy in the water as I am out!
The kids had fun in the water and of course liked building sand castles. We found some nice kid friendly beaches to play at every day. I have many more stories and pictures, but I think this will have to do for now. Here's a few more pics of memorable moments.
I have many more stories, but I think this will have to do for now. Here are some more pics of memorable moments.

Trip to Italy: The Last Days

We headed up to the bakery in the morning and stopped by the park on the way back.

We stopped by the market and grabbed some food to grub on down by the water.

I should mention that the weather was incredible the entire time we were in Italy. It was in the high 70's almost everywhere (more like the 80's in Rome). I thought about swimming on this day...

I didn't end up swimming...because it just didn't seem like that much fun to go by myself. But I did soak up the sun and enjoy our mini meal.

Hailey and I played in the water...and then this old guy was hollering at me...and speaking german I think. I had no idea what he was saying, but I finally figured out that he wanted to take a picture of Hailey and me. It was strange, but I stood there in the water and smiled for him and he took a couple pics. I'm not sure if he thought I was someone else or if he just thought we were cute out there playing in the water. It was just kind of funny and random - I wished I could have understood him to know what he was thinking...

We were out there all day. It was so relaxing (just what we had in mind for the last leg of our trip).

This picture of Pete and Hailey is one of my favorite pictures from our trip. Love it.

We ended the night with some gelato. The following morning we were heading to Milan...goodbye Cinque Terre!

------------

So....we woke up, gathered our things and headed to the train station. It was another beautiful day.

Hailey charmed all the people on the train and even got her own seat for a portion of the trip. We arrived in Milan and it was FREEZING!!! We were feeling a bit blessed to have had such warm weather everywhere we went because it seemed a cold front was making its way into Italy as we were departing.

I saw McDonalds (in the shopping district) and somehow convinced Pete that we should eat there. I enjoyed the fries and I might have even had a coke (if you will remember, I don't usually drink soda, but had strong cravings for Coke while in Italy and so indulged a few times).

We did some shopping and also visited the cathedral. Our flight didn't leave until 6am the following morning, so we spent the day walking around seeing the city and of course did some window-shopping. We didn't have reservations anywhere that night and we decided to head to the airport to see what was around there in the way of hotels. It was about an hour bus ride to the airport and we soon realized that there wasn't much of anything around the airport (the guidebook didn't list any hotels near the airport either). The airport seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. We had to be at the airport early the next morning, and had found that the only way to get there from Milan would be to take a taxi since the bus and trains didn't run that early. At 70euros for a taxi from Milan to the airport, we decided we would take the bus the day before and just sort of spend the night in the airport (budget traveling I tell you!).

By the time we got to the airport all the ticket booths were closed and we were unable to go through security to get to the lounge areas as we had hoped. So....it was either take refuge under really bright lights in the main ticketing area on the few seats there, or find another option. We found a cove of sorts. It was the best option around that we found.

We made Hailey a little bed on the floor, put her in her pj's and got her to sleep. We took turns laying next to her in an effort to get any sleep ourselves. Pete and I didn't really sleep much at all.

Our little girl was ready to go in the morning! It was a long day....long long day of flying...but we managed and arrived home safe and sound. :)

------

HOORAY! I did it! This concludes my Italy 2009 trip report.

Trip to Italy: Days 15 & 16

Monterosso al Mare was beautiful. We grabbed some breakfast at a touristy place (every restaurant seemed touristy and expensive) and then we walked back towards the train station to head to our intended destination - Vernazza.
Ah ha! Upon arriving at the train station, I was immediately pleased with what I saw. This was the Italy I wanted to see! We didn't have reservations anywhere and had read in our guide book that there are lots of apartments to rent on a walk up basis and we found this to be quite true. We started walking towards the water and found many signs stating "apartment for rent, ring bell". So we rang. People either shouted out their windows to tell us they were full or they came down to meet us and then showed us to their rental unit. The rates were pretty good and there were many rooms to choose from. We finally settled on one of the more spacious units close to the train station. The windows were really good (I was concerned about the train noise being an issue, but with the windows closed, you couldn't hear the trains). I LOVED the view outside the windows of our 3rd floor room...
It really was the perfect room for us...I spent quite a bit of time sitting on the bed gazing out the windows.
Here I am at the entrance to our apartment as we were heading out to explore. We spent the day exploring the town and seeing the sights. This was the last stop on our big trip and we had 3 nights in this town so we kicked back, took our time wandering around, and enjoyed every minute of it. It seems I haven't mentioned gelato in a while. Don't fret - we made sure to have some every day while we were in the Cinque Terre.
We also had plenty of pizza, bread, salami, cheese, grapes and wine on this trip. You could say we were trying to be budget travelers on this trip. Once in a while we'd eat out, but we were fairly conservative as we were aware that the dollar on the euro wasn't in our favor. In looking back I wish we had explored the food a bit more, but I'd like to think I'm saving that greater exploration for another trip in the coming years.
We hiked around a bit, sat at the waters edge and enjoyed our time.
At some point we settled into our room for the evening and drifted off to sleep.
-----------------
The next morning we headed up the street to Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre which is run by Sicilian twin brothers. They are known for their pastries and I was ready to get a taste. It was excellent and we managed to visit this gem in the following days as well.
We stumbled upon a playground on the way to the bakery and Hailey got her first real ride on a swing. She loved it...
We took a quick break in our room and then headed out for a day of hiking. This was one of the things I was most excited for during our trip planning, so I was plenty giddy to get out and do it! We started in Vernazza and headed toward Corniglia. There were lots of stairs and I was lucky to be carrying Hailey on my back for this leg. I don't know how long it took us to get from town to town, but the book says this portion is a 90 minute hike. It was beautiful.
We ate lunch in Corniglia. I had some sort of seafood salad and Pete had a pesto pasta dish of some sort (I'm guessing by the pic).

We continued on our hike and arrived in Manarola and promptly found a reward for our efforts.
We hit the trail again, but this time it was a paved walkway...not so much hiking on this leg of the journey. We had to pose here on the Via dell'Amore (Pathway of Love). The trail became established as a lovers' meeting point for boys and girls from the two towns (meet in the middle kind of thing).
We reached Riomaggiore and ended our day of hiking with some fruity drinks in a bar overlooking the water.
We rode the train back to Monterosso al Mare and decided to have dinner there. We chose to go to the top rated 'classy' place that was listed in Rick Steves' guidebook. It turned out that everyone else visiting from America had decided to eat there as well and there was a distinct uncomfortable feeling as we walked into the restaurant. We should have turned around. The whole place filled with an 'oh no, they aren't possibly bringing a BABY in here?!' kind of air that seemed to ruin any hope of having an enjoyable meal. In all of the eating we did in Italy, this was the most uncomfortable and it was because of the people (stupid Americans! (no offense intended friends)). The girl at the table next to us made a snotty somewhat under her breath (but not quiet enough for me not to hear) remark as we sat down at our table. It was obvious that almost every person in this place thought we were rude for bringing our kid to eat with us. We were sure to ruin their dinner environment. I think the pressure got to Hailey. She had been so good at every meal on our whole trip - she just knew this would be a great place to start fussing...it was kind of like she said, "you think I'm annoying by just being here? I'll show you annoying!" and she proceeded to get a bit grumpy about things. I don't even remember what we ate...the mood was just so strange. Pete and I chuckled about it as we headed back to Vernazza...we loved how enthusiastic the Italians were about having our baby in their restaurants - she was always making everyone smile - we just narrowed it down to the American's being the selfish ones who couldn't understand why we would go to dinner with our baby in tow.
We had fun at the park while we waited for our train back to Vernazza to arrive. Hailey once again went on a swing and thoroughly enjoyed it. I would like to note that the color combo of the dolphin and the spring....are the same color combo as my old stunt bike (man I loved that thing).
This concludes days 15 and 16 of our trip to Italy...just one or two more days to go! I'm SO close to finishing these Italy posts - I'm amazed that I might actually finish! :P

Trip to Italy: Day 14

So I realize that I never sat down to finish my Italy trip posts. Now that my sister-in-law Kari is blogging about their recent travels to Spain - I'm feeling inspired to get the last leg of our trip documented here.

During our trip I kept a little diary. At the end of each day I would write a little summary of what we did. For some reason the last 4 days or so were so relaxing that I fell off the writing wagon (much like my trip blogging itself and maybe this is why).
I think I left off with Civita Di Bagnoregio...last I wrote, we had been a bit creeped out by the empty town and decided that we needed to leave the next day - even though there wasn't bus service on Sunday. We decided that we would walk. The bus had taken an hour to get us out here, but we decided to make the most of the beautiful country side and we would enjoy a long walk back to Orvieto.

That was our plan. Morning came and the church bells woke us up bright and early (note the bell tower on the right in the pic above...our room was in the building to the left - the top left window was ours and the bell was loud). We went downstairs to have our breakfast...which was orange juice and small prepackaged chocolate filled croissants. We decided that we would spend a little time looking around and then check out. Upon stepping out of the B&B Pete heard a couple speaking English and went over to ask them if we could hang a ride to Orvieto with them. Turns out they were Canadians. They were a bit baffled at how we knew they had driven there or how we knew they spoke English (we were across the courtyard from them when Pete saw them) and why we needed a ride in the first place. A quick explanation about the buses not running on Sundays...the town being much smaller than we anticipated and us not planning well for the situation...and we were IN. :) The couple wanted to have a drink before leaving so we got to wander the town and see it all.

We were on a hunt for Hailey food once again since we ran out the day before. She was hungry. We wanted something more than bread. We went to this little bruschetta place and asked if they had any fruit and explained that we didn't plan well and we needed something for our daughter. The girl working there happened to have an apple in her sack lunch and shared it with us. She was really nice and made us some wonderful bruschetta and then sat down with us to chat. She told us about her family and the little town...how they used to live there, but now she lives on the 'main' land on the other side of the foot bridge and only comes over to run their tourist business. We wandered around, took a few pics and then headed off to find our new Canadian friends.
We walked across the footbridge and headed for their rental car - a BMW. Okay, this wasn't so bad - free ride in a nice car with nice people - good work Pete! We learned that she was the mayor of King City, Ontario and it sounded like they had a nice life in Canada. We stopped to take pictures along the way and Pete and I realized just how long of a walk it would have been if we hadn't hitched a ride.
The picture above is of Orvieto - that's where we were heading... We had already driven quite a ways and had quite a ways to go. It was a beautiful ride! We parted ways in Orvieto and the 3 of us headed to the train station.
A few train transfers later and we arrived in Monterosso al Mare. It was late and we didn't have any reservations. We got a vacancy list from the train station and Pete called around. He found us a nice room for 60euro/night and it was the best and least expensive room we had on the whole trip.
Monterosso al Mare was touristy and seemed too modern for what I had imagined. I was a bit disappointed since I had imagined a very old set of villages on the hillsides of the Ligurian Sea. Now...we hadn't planned on staying a night in Monterosso and I hadn't seen the other towns yet, so I really didn't know what was to come. It was beautiful there...the beach was stunning at sunset. It was just so touristy that it bothered me a little. We found our room and settled in for the night.

...more to come later - I promise!

Trip to Italy: Day 13 (Rome to Civita)

10/10/2009

We woke up really early to a lightning storm. I laid awake for a while just watching the room light up. After a while it began to rain. Okay, it was a downpour! When we finally got out of bed and headed to the kitchen where we discovered that there was a leak in the roof. There was water all over the table and Hailey's cheerios got wet (fatal!). We placed some bowls on the table to catch some of the drips and cleaned up a bit. We were happy to be leaving the apartment at that point. I forgot to mention earlier that the apartment had a horrible sewer smell coming out of the shower drain. It was nasty. Thankfully Pete found a drain cover we happened to have left over in our bag from Costa Rica...and he covered up the stench.

Anyway, it was finally raining and I had just packed our rain jackets at the bottom of the bag the night before. I unpacked the whole thing before we realized that the rain was letting up and we wouldn't need our jackets. I packed once again (as if there wasn't enough packing and unpacking on this trip already!!).

We left for the train station around 10:30. Our train was supposed to leave the station at 12:30 and at 12:55 it still hadn't shown up. So we waited and waited and finally got on and left Rome sometime after 1:30.

We arrived in Orvieto and bought round trip tickets for the funicular so we could get up the hill to Orvieto (this was a neat little hill town). We got to the top and found that we had missed the bus due to our late running train. So we had to wait a couple hours.
We weren't sure about the whole bus situation, but we knew that the bus we needed to catch would be the last heading to Civita that day - so we didn't want to miss it (though we weren't sure exactly where to catch it). We enjoyed sitting on a park bench and watching all of the people walking up and checking out the 2 Farrari's parked across the street. We could see the bus from our perch. We had asked the information desk where exactly to catch the bus and she wasn't very helpful, maybe it was the language barrier...

For the record, Orvieto was a beautiful little hill town.

We spotted a guy dressed in blue heading toward the bus and so we ran to the bus and managed to talk him into letting us get on. We sat and waited and eventually the bus started off on its journey. We were really glad we had run to the bus, because we couldn't figure out just where it would have stopped to pick us up if we hadn't. The bus just rolled on...down the hill...and then after making a stop by the train station it headed back up. Ah. Maybe we could have stayed right at the train station and gotten on the bus there... There was a huge group of people down there, and we were sure we'd have been confused if we were in that mix, so we were glad we'd taken the ride up the funicular and waited where we could see the bus. Like I said, there were many people down near the train station, but only one got on the bus.

It was a quiet ride and the landscape was just beautiful.
The bus seemed to make quite a few stops in little towns along the way...and we were sure the ride didn't need to be an hour long...but with the detours into these little towns, it took a while. There were only 2 other people that got on or off the bus on this route. The bus would go and stop and no one would get on or off. It was almost amusing (by this time we were tired and wanting to be done with our travels for the day).

We finally got to Bangoregio. The bus dropped us off at the far end of town and we got to walk all the way up a hill and through the town to get to the other side where we would find a foot bridge that would take us to our final destination for that day. I had been most excited for this part of the trip. We were going to a little hill town - the 'dying city'. I thought it would be an amazing adventure and be full of beautiful photo ops. An adventure it was.
As I was saying...we walked through the town.
And Pete found some internet to steal. I mean, use. I was so tired of the what seemed to be never ending commute...that I wanted to just keep moving. But Pete, being the technology loving guy he is, was eager to check email for free (well, okay...so we did need to check on various reservations and things that landed in our inbox while we were in Italy - there was a point to this internetting).

Then we got there. Well, not really. But we could see it.
Do you see it? It looks so small...and far away. Right. We were close, but still had some walking to do. It was quite a site to see...this little town on a hill... (if I knew then what I know now.....)
So we ventured down the path and headed for the foot bridge (the only way to the city). Okay....now when we had booked our stay here we hadn't realized that the foot bridge would be an uphill climb! I guess it makes sense being that we were going to a 'hill town'...but wow. Good thing we had our walking shoes on.
We made it. This city takes all of 5 minutes to walk from one end to the other. We realized just how small this place was. It's nickname "the dying city" came about because the sides of the cliffs are literally falling away and parts of the town fall with it and the residents moved away. I was fascinated. We decided not to do the walk right then, but to find our bed and breakfast and get settled in. We were told that dinner would be served at 8pm (very late for us). This was the only sleeping place listed in the Rick Steve's book and I had searched all over the internet for any sign of places to stay in this little city, and all the reviews were really good and also stated that this was in fact the only place to sleep in this town. So we stayed. We booked two nights because we arrived on Saturday and there wasn't bus service on Sunday, so we planned to stay until Monday.

Dinner.

We went down at 8pm and ordered some food (the restaurant was on the bottom floor, the 3 rooms were on the top). We were the only ones there. We asked if others were staying that night and found out that the others had no-showed. Bad sign. Dinner was okay, nothing to write home about.
Italians LOVED little Hailey. This is where Pete and I had a really weird/bad parenting moment. He still has regrets about what happened and brings it up once in a while. Hailey was done eating her cooked carrots and one of the girls that ran the place wanted to hold her. Okay...fine. But then she took her into the kitchen to see the other girl (the place was run by these two girls - I think they are the daughters of the owner). So. The kitchen. We were sitting at the table and she took our baby where we couldn't see her. We were nervous and we could hear them talking to her and having a grand old time with our baby....but for some reason we let it happen. Pete finally got up and walked into the kitchen and asked the girl if she would bring her back out to where we could see her. She did. Part of me knew that there wasn't far she could go with Hailey in this teeny little city, but the other motherly part of me was screaming, 'what if they try to feed her something she shouldn't have and I have no idea because I couldn't see her...and then she has a reaction and then we are stuck in this city!??'. Okay, I wasn't that panicked at the time (I was nervous, but not panicked). I think it really struck us after we got back up to our room and discussed the situation. We were both really disappointed in ourselves for letting Hailey out of our sight and with a stranger to top it off. It makes me shiver now. Italy is different though, right? Everyone is nice and well meaning. That's what I'll tell myself on this one account so I don't let it hang over my head forever.

So anyway. We were in our room and noticed that the city was quiet. Very quiet. And dark. It was as if we were the only people in this city and it was creepy. We knew that there was only one permanent resident left in this town and she was a little old lady in her 80's. The place was empty. We decided that we didn't like it and we started trying to figure out any possible way to get out of there in the morning. We would walk. Yes, it had taken a long long time just to walk through Bangoregio to get here, and we would have to walk that whole bus route back to Orvieto...but we wanted out. And hours of walking in the hot sun sounded just fine to us at this point.

So that was settled and with nothing else to do, we started messing with the settings on our camera and entertaining ourselves by trying to take creepy pictures of ourselves.
Then we finally went to sleep.

To be continued......

Trip to Italy: Day 13 (Rome to Civita)

10/10/2009

We woke up really early to a lightning storm. I laid awake for a while just watching the room light up. After a while it began to rain. Okay, it was a downpour! When we finally got out of bed and headed to the kitchen where we discovered that there was a leak in the roof. There was water all over the table and Hailey's cheerios got wet (fatal!). We placed some bowls on the table to catch some of the drips and cleaned up a bit. We were happy to be leaving the apartment at that point. I forgot to mention earlier that the apartment had a horrible sewer smell coming out of the shower drain. It was nasty. Thankfully Pete found a drain cover we happened to have left over in our bag from Costa Rica...and he covered up the stench.

Anyway, it was finally raining and I had just packed our rain jackets at the bottom of the bag the night before. I unpacked the whole thing before we realized that the rain was letting up and we wouldn't need our jackets. I packed once again (as if there wasn't enough packing and unpacking on this trip already!!).

We left for the train station around 10:30. Our train was supposed to leave the station at 12:30 and at 12:55 it still hadn't shown up. So we waited and waited and finally got on and left Rome sometime after 1:30.

We arrived in Orvieto and bought round trip tickets for the funicular so we could get up the hill to Orvieto (this was a neat little hill town). We got to the top and found that we had missed the bus due to our late running train. So we had to wait a couple hours.
We weren't sure about the whole bus situation, but we knew that the bus we needed to catch would be the last heading to Civita that day - so we didn't want to miss it (though we weren't sure exactly where to catch it). We enjoyed sitting on a park bench and watching all of the people walking up and checking out the 2 Farrari's parked across the street. We could see the bus from our perch. We had asked the information desk where exactly to catch the bus and she wasn't very helpful, maybe it was the language barrier...

For the record, Orvieto was a beautiful little hill town.

We spotted a guy dressed in blue heading toward the bus and so we ran to the bus and managed to talk him into letting us get on. We sat and waited and eventually the bus started off on its journey. We were really glad we had run to the bus, because we couldn't figure out just where it would have stopped to pick us up if we hadn't. The bus just rolled on...down the hill...and then after making a stop by the train station it headed back up. Ah. Maybe we could have stayed right at the train station and gotten on the bus there... There was a huge group of people down there, and we were sure we'd have been confused if we were in that mix, so we were glad we'd taken the ride up the funicular and waited where we could see the bus. Like I said, there were many people down near the train station, but only one got on the bus.

It was a quiet ride and the landscape was just beautiful.
The bus seemed to make quite a few stops in little towns along the way...and we were sure the ride didn't need to be an hour long...but with the detours into these little towns, it took a while. There were only 2 other people that got on or off the bus on this route. The bus would go and stop and no one would get on or off. It was almost amusing (by this time we were tired and wanting to be done with our travels for the day).

We finally got to Bangoregio. The bus dropped us off at the far end of town and we got to walk all the way up a hill and through the town to get to the other side where we would find a foot bridge that would take us to our final destination for that day. I had been most excited for this part of the trip. We were going to a little hill town - the 'dying city'. I thought it would be an amazing adventure and be full of beautiful photo ops. An adventure it was.
As I was saying...we walked through the town.
And Pete found some internet to steal. I mean, use. I was so tired of the what seemed to be never ending commute...that I wanted to just keep moving. But Pete, being the technology loving guy he is, was eager to check email for free (well, okay...so we did need to check on various reservations and things that landed in our inbox while we were in Italy - there was a point to this internetting).

Then we got there. Well, not really. But we could see it.
Do you see it? It looks so small...and far away. Right. We were close, but still had some walking to do. It was quite a site to see...this little town on a hill... (if I knew then what I know now.....)
So we ventured down the path and headed for the foot bridge (the only way to the city). Okay....now when we had booked our stay here we hadn't realized that the foot bridge would be an uphill climb! I guess it makes sense being that we were going to a 'hill town'...but wow. Good thing we had our walking shoes on.
We made it. This city takes all of 5 minutes to walk from one end to the other. We realized just how small this place was. It's nickname "the dying city" came about because the sides of the cliffs are literally falling away and parts of the town fall with it and the residents moved away. I was fascinated. We decided not to do the walk right then, but to find our bed and breakfast and get settled in. We were told that dinner would be served at 8pm (very late for us). This was the only sleeping place listed in the Rick Steve's book and I had searched all over the internet for any sign of places to stay in this little city, and all the reviews were really good and also stated that this was in fact the only place to sleep in this town. So we stayed. We booked two nights because we arrived on Saturday and there wasn't bus service on Sunday, so we planned to stay until Monday.

Dinner.

We went down at 8pm and ordered some food (the restaurant was on the bottom floor, the 3 rooms were on the top). We were the only ones there. We asked if others were staying that night and found out that the others had no-showed. Bad sign. Dinner was okay, nothing to write home about.
Italians LOVED little Hailey. This is where Pete and I had a really weird/bad parenting moment. He still has regrets about what happened and brings it up once in a while. Hailey was done eating her cooked carrots and one of the girls that ran the place wanted to hold her. Okay...fine. But then she took her into the kitchen to see the other girl (the place was run by these two girls - I think they are the daughters of the owner). So. The kitchen. We were sitting at the table and she took our baby where we couldn't see her. We were nervous and we could hear them talking to her and having a grand old time with our baby....but for some reason we let it happen. Pete finally got up and walked into the kitchen and asked the girl if she would bring her back out to where we could see her. She did. Part of me knew that there wasn't far she could go with Hailey in this teeny little city, but the other motherly part of me was screaming, 'what if they try to feed her something she shouldn't have and I have no idea because I couldn't see her...and then she has a reaction and then we are stuck in this city!??'. Okay, I wasn't that panicked at the time (I was nervous, but not panicked). I think it really struck us after we got back up to our room and discussed the situation. We were both really disappointed in ourselves for letting Hailey out of our sight and with a stranger to top it off. It makes me shiver now. Italy is different though, right? Everyone is nice and well meaning. That's what I'll tell myself on this one account so I don't let it hang over my head forever.

So anyway. We were in our room and noticed that the city was quiet. Very quiet. And dark. It was as if we were the only people in this city and it was creepy. We knew that there was only one permanent resident left in this town and she was a little old lady in her 80's. The place was empty. We decided that we didn't like it and we started trying to figure out any possible way to get out of there in the morning. We would walk. Yes, it had taken a long long time just to walk through Bangoregio to get here, and we would have to walk that whole bus route back to Orvieto...but we wanted out. And hours of walking in the hot sun sounded just fine to us at this point.

So that was settled and with nothing else to do, we started messing with the settings on our camera and entertaining ourselves by trying to take creepy pictures of ourselves.
Then we finally went to sleep.

To be continued......

Trip to Italy: Day 12 (Rome)

We woke up early, but still didn't get out the door until after 11am. Our plan was to be at the Vatican early, but when we got there we read that lines are long until 12:30 and then they die down...so we left to go find lunch. We ate at the #1 rated Rick Steve's lunch spot in the area and it was a buffet. The prices were okay, but it wasn't anything that special. I think Rick Steve's just liked it for the price and that it was all you can eat. Don't get me wrong, it was not like an OCB meal (Old Country Buffet for you not in the know).
After lunch we grabbed some gelato. Then we headed back to the Vatican and the line was much shorter. We went to St. Peters first.

After St. Peters we went to the museum. There's 4 miles of stuff there (if you were to walk the whole thing). We walked a lot, but didn't see it all.
We were pretty impressed by this ceiling painting. It looked so 3D...
We noticed in all the museums that there were images of Mary holding the head of Jesus. Now I'm no Bible scholar or anything, but I can't remember a time when Jesus' head was not on his body, nor when it was talked about that Mary held her sons severed head in her hands. We didn't know the history of it, but we made sure to get a picture so we could remember this weird commonality in all the museums.

*****EDIT: Ignore what I just said about the Mary holding the head thing. I was totally mixed up our conversations (whoops). It was the empty caskets we kept seeing in paintings everywhere. I guess I should have blogged sooner - my memory is failing me and I didn't write all the details down in my journal!!!*****

We saw the Sistine Chapel...no pics of that of course. Hailey was great the whole time, but once we got to the 'grand finale' she wouldn't keep quiet. There were museum workers in the Chapel hushing people, and I felt a bit out of place with my noisy baby. Okay, I felt like 'that' person. You know the one? The one with the annoying kid who's ruining the experience for everyone else. Well, she wasn't *that* bad, but I was a bit conscious of the fact that I couldn't get my baby to be quiet and sound seemed to travel in that little room. I thought the chapel would be bigger. Pete built it up so much on the long walk there that I was a tad bit disappointed (did I just say that? Yup. I did). I took Hailey to the exit and waited in a hall for Pete. He spent a bit more time in the chapel soaking it all in (he had been before so in hindsight, maybe I should have been the one to stay and soak it in...meh).

From there we were pretty much done at the museum so we bought a postcard and went to the Vatican post office to mail it. It cost .80 euro to sent it to the USA. You could say I fell for the tourist trap on that one.

After we mailed the postcard we started walking back towards our apartment. The idea was to hop on a bus...but if there was one one moment where Pete and I got frustrated with each other on this whole trip, it was then. He wanted to take a bus and I wanted to just keep walking. We weren't very sure which bus we needed to hop on, or which side of the street we needed to be on to get on going the right way...and that stressed me out. As Pete looked at the map and tried to figure out what street we needed to get to, I kept saying "let's just keep walking". There was something about walking in Italy that I really enjoyed. Yes, it had been a long day of walking through the museum, but seeing the city by foot was part of the adventure. We were getting closer to the apartment so Pete finally put the map away.

When we got in, I attempted to use up all our food since we were checking out the following day. I cooked some pasta and made some salads. Man, I love Italian pasta - it's so fresh and yummmmmy.
After dinner we packed our bags in an effort to be ready to leave the next day.

At 3:30am we were startled awake by a noise. We got up to investigate. I was a bit freaked out. It was really windy out and Pete determined that the noise we heard was from the wind knocking something over on the terrace. Moments later there was another noise. My ipod fell off the TV. Hailey slept through it all (but it was all pretty loud!).

to be continued....

Trip to Italy: Day 12 (Rome)

We woke up early, but still didn't get out the door until after 11am. Our plan was to be at the Vatican early, but when we got there we read that lines are long until 12:30 and then they die down...so we left to go find lunch. We ate at the #1 rated Rick Steve's lunch spot in the area and it was a buffet. The prices were okay, but it wasn't anything that special. I think Rick Steve's just liked it for the price and that it was all you can eat. Don't get me wrong, it was not like an OCB meal (Old Country Buffet for you not in the know).
After lunch we grabbed some gelato. Then we headed back to the Vatican and the line was much shorter. We went to St. Peters first.

After St. Peters we went to the museum. There's 4 miles of stuff there (if you were to walk the whole thing). We walked a lot, but didn't see it all.
We were pretty impressed by this ceiling painting. It looked so 3D...
We noticed in all the museums that there were images of Mary holding the head of Jesus. Now I'm no Bible scholar or anything, but I can't remember a time when Jesus' head was not on his body, nor when it was talked about that Mary held her sons severed head in her hands. We didn't know the history of it, but we made sure to get a picture so we could remember this weird commonality in all the museums.

*****EDIT: Ignore what I just said about the Mary holding the head thing. I was totally mixed up our conversations (whoops). It was the empty caskets we kept seeing in paintings everywhere. I guess I should have blogged sooner - my memory is failing me and I didn't write all the details down in my journal!!!*****

We saw the Sistine Chapel...no pics of that of course. Hailey was great the whole time, but once we got to the 'grand finale' she wouldn't keep quiet. There were museum workers in the Chapel hushing people, and I felt a bit out of place with my noisy baby. Okay, I felt like 'that' person. You know the one? The one with the annoying kid who's ruining the experience for everyone else. Well, she wasn't *that* bad, but I was a bit conscious of the fact that I couldn't get my baby to be quiet and sound seemed to travel in that little room. I thought the chapel would be bigger. Pete built it up so much on the long walk there that I was a tad bit disappointed (did I just say that? Yup. I did). I took Hailey to the exit and waited in a hall for Pete. He spent a bit more time in the chapel soaking it all in (he had been before so in hindsight, maybe I should have been the one to stay and soak it in...meh).

From there we were pretty much done at the museum so we bought a postcard and went to the Vatican post office to mail it. It cost .80 euro to sent it to the USA. You could say I fell for the tourist trap on that one.

After we mailed the postcard we started walking back towards our apartment. The idea was to hop on a bus...but if there was one one moment where Pete and I got frustrated with each other on this whole trip, it was then. He wanted to take a bus and I wanted to just keep walking. We weren't very sure which bus we needed to hop on, or which side of the street we needed to be on to get on going the right way...and that stressed me out. As Pete looked at the map and tried to figure out what street we needed to get to, I kept saying "let's just keep walking". There was something about walking in Italy that I really enjoyed. Yes, it had been a long day of walking through the museum, but seeing the city by foot was part of the adventure. We were getting closer to the apartment so Pete finally put the map away.

When we got in, I attempted to use up all our food since we were checking out the following day. I cooked some pasta and made some salads. Man, I love Italian pasta - it's so fresh and yummmmmy.
After dinner we packed our bags in an effort to be ready to leave the next day.

At 3:30am we were startled awake by a noise. We got up to investigate. I was a bit freaked out. It was really windy out and Pete determined that the noise we heard was from the wind knocking something over on the terrace. Moments later there was another noise. My ipod fell off the TV. Hailey slept through it all (but it was all pretty loud!).

to be continued....

Trip to Italy: Day 11

***I've had this post as a draft sitting for weeks now - so here goes - I'm publishing it without finishing it.***

(Click here to see where I left off)

ROME

We ate some breakfast (scrambled eggs w/cheese!) in our apartment and and then headed out to find a bus to take us closer to the Colosseum. We weren't sure if we got on going towards the Colosseum or not, but eventually we realized that we had indeed taken the bus the right direction. There was a little girl on the bus who was just tickled by Hailey. She kept saying baby in Italian over and over and she wouldn't stop staring and smiling at Hailey. It was really cute. Here we are waiting for the bus. I like this picture because of the guy in the suit behind me. ;)
We got suckered into a tour group at the Colosseum (we convinced the guy to give us the student pricing!) and were very glad he did (otherwise we would have probably looked at stuff for a little bit and then left not knowing half of what we learned on the tour). I think this was the first day I figured out how to nurse Hailey while carrying her around in the Ergo baby. We were on a tour - so I couldn't just sit down and nurse. Thankfully I had worn my wonderful black tank top and Hailey became quite good at ignoring the outside world in exchange for some milk (wish that was still the case!!).
Our tour started at the Colosseum and went to the Roman Forum from there. Looking back at the whole trip we were really happy we took the tour in Rome (the only paid tour we took on our whole trip). It was quite fascinating. It was also quite HOT outside (80's)!! We walked and walked and walked.
I just love this picture of Hailey sitting on top of a piece of marble column.
On our way to the Pantheon we took a snack break on the lawn in an area in front of the Victor Emanuel Monument and read up in our Rick Steve's book while we rested our feet.
We visited many churches throughout the day. This was one of the few churches that allowed pictures.
We passed by quite a few 'pope shops'. In hindsight we wished we had gone into one and looked at the prices of things - because we were sure that the cloaks and everything else must have been REALLY expensive. These stores were like high end boutiques for bishops! Every time we entered a church we tried to imagine how much money had been poured into them and it just seemed like there was a lot of focus on idolizing things.
At the Pantheon there was a service just getting started and a choir was assembling when we arrived. We got there just in time for a front row view (front row from the tourist observation area that is - there were chairs set up for the people attending the 'service'). I found it to be rather interesting how many people were outside the Pantheon - it was crazy crowded. I'm not so fond of the crowds - the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain were the most crowded places we visited on our entire trip.

The good stuff is coming - I promise!!

Trip to Italy: Day 11

***I've had this post as a draft sitting for weeks now - so here goes - I'm publishing it without finishing it.***

(Click here to see where I left off)

ROME

We ate some breakfast (scrambled eggs w/cheese!) in our apartment and and then headed out to find a bus to take us closer to the Colosseum. We weren't sure if we got on going towards the Colosseum or not, but eventually we realized that we had indeed taken the bus the right direction. There was a little girl on the bus who was just tickled by Hailey. She kept saying baby in Italian over and over and she wouldn't stop staring and smiling at Hailey. It was really cute. Here we are waiting for the bus. I like this picture because of the guy in the suit behind me. ;)
We got suckered into a tour group at the Colosseum (we convinced the guy to give us the student pricing!) and were very glad he did (otherwise we would have probably looked at stuff for a little bit and then left not knowing half of what we learned on the tour). I think this was the first day I figured out how to nurse Hailey while carrying her around in the Ergo baby. We were on a tour - so I couldn't just sit down and nurse. Thankfully I had worn my wonderful black tank top and Hailey became quite good at ignoring the outside world in exchange for some milk (wish that was still the case!!).
Our tour started at the Colosseum and went to the Roman Forum from there. Looking back at the whole trip we were really happy we took the tour in Rome (the only paid tour we took on our whole trip). It was quite fascinating. It was also quite HOT outside (80's)!! We walked and walked and walked.
I just love this picture of Hailey sitting on top of a piece of marble column.
On our way to the Pantheon we took a snack break on the lawn in an area in front of the Victor Emanuel Monument and read up in our Rick Steve's book while we rested our feet.
We visited many churches throughout the day. This was one of the few churches that allowed pictures.
We passed by quite a few 'pope shops'. In hindsight we wished we had gone into one and looked at the prices of things - because we were sure that the cloaks and everything else must have been REALLY expensive. These stores were like high end boutiques for bishops! Every time we entered a church we tried to imagine how much money had been poured into them and it just seemed like there was a lot of focus on idolizing things.
At the Pantheon there was a service just getting started and a choir was assembling when we arrived. We got there just in time for a front row view (front row from the tourist observation area that is - there were chairs set up for the people attending the 'service'). I found it to be rather interesting how many people were outside the Pantheon - it was crazy crowded. I'm not so fond of the crowds - the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain were the most crowded places we visited on our entire trip.

The good stuff is coming - I promise!!

Italy blogging


Okay, so I totally got caught up in the holiday months and lost track of my Italy posts. There's so much more to share though....so this is my vow to you oh dear blog readers - I WILL bring you the remaining Italy posts. No guarantees of when I will get them done - but I will work on them because 1. it's fun to review the pictures and memories again, 2. I want to write my story so I will have a reference later, and 3. because you might enjoy traveling through my posts.

For now I will go upstairs and attempt to upload the rest of the pics to eachday for easier story telling.

Italy blogging


Okay, so I totally got caught up in the holiday months and lost track of my Italy posts. There's so much more to share though....so this is my vow to you oh dear blog readers - I WILL bring you the remaining Italy posts. No guarantees of when I will get them done - but I will work on them because 1. it's fun to review the pictures and memories again, 2. I want to write my story so I will have a reference later, and 3. because you might enjoy traveling through my posts.

For now I will go upstairs and attempt to upload the rest of the pics to eachday for easier story telling.