Sunday, July 21, 2013

My 5 Fave Experiences: Siena, Italy

This was my favorite town because it just made me feel so happy inside :) I don't think most people stay in the actual city for very long - there's so many other places in Tuscany to see, do and wine to drink - so the full experience may be overlooked. 

Even though Siena is a smaller city, it is one of the more beautiful towns we visited: It's a place where almost all locals will say "ciao" to each other in passing. And the food & wine here is amazing, you will have a hard time finding a bad experience with either. Because of this, and our quick 22-hour travel turn around, we stayed close to the city, wandering through all of it's cobbled streets for our amusement, drinking the night away.

My 5 Fave Exepriences

1. Hotel Minerva - we LOVED the balcony at night. We grabbed a bottle of wine, sat back and enjoyed the view!
Postcard worthy!
2. Zest Wine Bar - mostly recommended for their food and wine, we decided to relax in their wine bar and drank :) I feel this interior is how every wine bar should be!
Sitting outside, you can see the duomo; G & I enjoying Nobile Montepulciano

"Eat - Drink - Love:  Everything else does not matter." A true Italian quote if I've ever seen one!
I'm showing my photography prowess in the last 2 pics ;)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

People in their 30's: Pop That's Hot Right Now (according to MTV UK)

When I was in college, watching music videos was my main reason for living. Let's put it this way: if that was a sport, then I could compete at the Olympic level based off of my dedication.

However, once you get older and priorities change, music knowledge starts slipping away from our existences. Now, with my new-found plethora of time, I'm getting caught up with MTV UK Hits.

Why I like MTV UK Hits Right Now

1st - they actually play music.
2nd - they always have some sort of countdown going on, so there's no mistaking which tracks are the hottest. Since I'm re-emerging into the music scene, I appreciate this.
3rd - they speak in some form of English which means I can understand them. Some of the other music stations here remind me of the time Cassie & I watched Serbian TV with Tina's parents. In other words, I have no clue what's going on.

Pop That's Hot Right Now (MTV UK)

  • Daft Punk & Pharrell "Get Lucky." If you haven't heard of this by now, then you can refer to another post People in their 70's: Pop That's Hot Right Now...(fyi - this is fake, I'm just emphasizing how ridiculous this scenario is).
  • Miley Cyrus "We Can't Stop" - It's a disturbing video at first, but then I found out the story: the director found out that Miley once had a 4-day party with her friends and he wanted to recapture it. Then I realized...secretly...I want to be at that party. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

My 5 Fave Sites: Siena, Italy for lovers :)
Siena was my favorite city we visited thus far (Spain vacation will be soon enough!). It is a quaint, small town in Tuscany which makes it a day trip for most. We only stayed 1 night here: it was either a stay in Siena or 1 additional night in Rome - I think we made the right choice!

My 5 Fave Sites
1. The streets - Automobiles and pedestrians share the same small walkway - WATCH OUT! But it is also the place to socialize, eat and drink!
*At first, this whole thought of road sharing was a little chaotic to me, but I learned to love it!
2. Hotel Minerva - A great boutique hotel that gave us a room with the best patio/terrace I've ever been a part of!
Our room at Hotel Minerva - Pimpin'

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Doing: Bologna, Italy

Bologna, Italy

Most people ask why did we go there? 2 reasons:
-RyanAir flies there directly from Krakow. If you're not familiar with RyanAir, I describe it as a bus that flies. But at least it's cheap. Like $40 round trip flight cheap.
-Seeing smaller cities usually means better experiences with cultural and food (see blog about My Travel Style here).
-You  can take a train from here to almost anywhere, as it's the 5th busiest train station in Italy. Wiki

The overall impression with Bologna for me was that it's bigger than I expected, yet small enough to enjoy (without all of those annoying tourists everywhere). There were more than enough places to eat - in fact, it's know for its food. But what I loved the most were how beautiful the buildings and how great the people are in this town. And the great wine you can get for almost nothing. 
Note: even though people there will admit the food is way better than the wine, it really all depends on the perspective. I've just recently started upgrading from Trader Joe's cheap stuff and considered their wine one of the best in the world!

Another thing that adds flavor to the city is the university. It's the oldest in Western civilization and gives the whole town a younger feel. There's also a ton of porticoes (covered walkways) that give the town a historic feeling that's different than the others. 

*As you can see, we didn't go to a lot of restaurants. We came in on a Saturday afternoon when most places are closed for siestas and left Monday morning - same story on Sunday, most people are closed. And we learned that the places usually OPEN on Sundays and/or during siestas are pretty crappy.

-Pizzartist/Osteria del Sole - both places I found on Trip Advisor - the 1st sells pizza by the pound and it's oh so good, and the 2nd is a no frills bar built in the 1400's with cheap (but tasty) wine that you can byof(ood). Pizzartist and OsteriaDelSole.
It was so loud there because of everyone talking, and we were sitting next to the garbage, but I still LOVE this place!
-Zerocinquantino - It's a chain (don't judge me yet!) that has wine and charcuterie offerings. We actually ate here 2 days in a row because it was so good! And it was open on Sundays...and only locals were here on Sunday, so it is actually good. 
I'm serious. All these people (except one table of Spanish-speaking ladies) were local.

Am I taking too many pictures, G? :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What Type of Traveler are You?

 "... moments we remember most are people, not places." - Heather Greenwood Davis in O mag (June) in her "Expand Horizons" snippet.
G speaking with Mamma at Trattoria Pandemonio di Casa Brogi

When planning a vacation, there's lots of questions to be answered: What is a suggested itinerary for the cities to which I'm going? How can I maximize this trip to experience the most? If I can't fit everything in the first time, will I ever make to Europe/Morocco/Brazil again?

The good thing is there's no right or wrong way to travel - we're all different. It all depends what experience you want out of vacation.

What Type of Traveler are You?

1) See it, Be it
Your goal is to see every possible thing on this trip.You only travel to major cities and your itinerary is packed tight with everything Trip Advisor suggests. As a sight-seeing Zen master, you already know the exact combination of tours by foot, bus or train that can maximize the number of pictures you can take while there. And then you finish the day with a nice dinner at the Red Lobster or the China Bistro (a.k.a. P.F. Changs). With this approach, you will have a lot of pictures. In additionyou will be able to eat in the same chain restaurant as you usually do every weekend...but just in a different town.
$$-$$$ (some tours/admissions are expensive!)

2) Where Dem Dollar$ At?
Your goal is shopping and fine dining. You left your country-bumpkin town in order to see the best our world has to offer! This vacation is to experience the finer things in life: food that's prepared by world-famous chefs or clothes handmade by the best local artisans. And then you can brag about it to all of your friends/coworkers. With this approach, you will have lots of haters...and you will love it! Who cares? Haters Gonna Hate either way.

3) Life Experience 
Your goal is to gain a deeper meaning of the culture. Traveling is about experiencing the people and learning their culture. Strike up a conversations with locals and start to understand why they do what they do. It's not about "having the best" whatever or "seeing the most" sites. And your takeaway will be a different approach to YOUR life because of what you've experienced. With this approach, you will obtain "Vacation Relaxation:" a deep relaxation the ultimate feeling of joy and love everywhere and in everything!

4) Party and Bull*&%t
Your goal is to party and bull*&%t.Where is most expensive/exclusive dining place located? Where is the most famous historical site I can see? "WHO CARES?" says this ultimate experience-seeker. You know the best clubs and can get in with no problem. And, to you at least, it's common knowledge that partying in another city is another level of freedom! #4's are mostly #3's who may also be able to obtain Vacation Relaxation since most of the day is sleeping.
*Note: you can often be a different type of Traveler depending on which city you're in: ex. Nepal vs. South Beach Miami). Costs levels may vary.
**Key for range of costs:
$ backpacking & hostels
$$ ballin' on a budget
$$$ American Express Black Card holder

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lake Kryspinow - (and according to G) Krakow's Hawaii

Beach Time!

Well, sort of...Lake Kryspinow was a pleasant mid-week break. The temperature was just right and the water was ICE cold!
I hope people brought their sunblock today!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Give it Up: Declutter Your Life!

How to Declutter Your Life & Why

"For more than 40,000 years," write the authors, "intellectually modern humans have peopled the planet, but never before has any society accumulated so many personal possessions." source: UCLA Magazine
It's time to move and it's vacation. Yeah! 
Because my boyfriend is a smarty pants, we're moving to California where he will to attend college this fall! AND before we make the move, we flew to Europe for the summer so he can visit (and I can meet) family and friends he hasn't seen in over 3 years.

And now we're homeless...technically. Boo
So, we decided to pack all of our stuff up in 2 ReloCubes (each 6' x 7' x 8') in Seattle and ship then store them to the OakTown (as Too $hort would say) until we find a place to live. After scheduling these cubes, I was highly confident in how little Stuff I owned and how smooth of a process packing would be. That is, until I really started to look at my stuff.

"Me want big house, lots of Stuff" says Average American
In the past 30 years, the size of the average American home has grown 53 percent, from 1,500 square feet to a little more than 2,300 square feet. (source: There's a very scientific equation that can describe why:
I work hard + I deserve material rewards for working hard = Lots of Stuff All Over the Place
The unfortunate result of this "hyperconsumerism" is less happiness, and actually more stress! This is because all that stuff is in yo' face all the time, then you start to think you are messy and unorganized...which causes more stress. 
Note: If you happen to have kids, then your stuff multiplies that much faster. But if you have kids, you probably already know this. (source: UCLA Magazine)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Living Abroad on the 4th of July = Food Porn of What I Should Be Eating

Since I won't be in US for the 4th of July, and it's one of my favorite holidays to eat WAY more than I should, I've decided to post pics of my favorite things to eat at 'ques:

#1 My momma ribs
#2 Jesse's wings

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Deep Thoughts: Meeting the Family

"If I can't trust you, Greg, then I have no choice but to put you outside the Circle.
And once you're out, there's no coming back." -Jack Byrnes, "Meet the Parents" speaking to Greg Focker about the Circle of Trust

All schedules were able to coincide and we were able to meet up with both G's mom and his sister. It was crazy hot that day (which is not the ideal situation for the first time you meet family) and it also ended up being a crazy fun day too!

First things first, where are the baby pictures? So cute!
G has the luxurious hair of a child actor!
Mom made us a GREAT meal - traditional Polish beet soup, turkey baked with cherries and raisins,  Mediterranean salad, olives, and pickled mushrooms as well as wine.
*(I'm still inconsistent with food pics so you'll have to use your vivid imagination for an image)