Tag Archives: tourism

Ljubljana, Slovenija

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana was completely unexpected. Actually, we didn’t know what to expect, but it hinted along the lines of communistic square buildings in gray like other parts of Eastern Europe. We were passing through from Verona to Zagreb, feeling the pull of the sea far too strong (it was right there!), but since we had to make it to Zag, we should at least take advantage of passing through Slovenia and stop in at the capital. Cleanest, shiniest, pastel-iest city filled with patios along the river, Ljubljanica. If we didn’t have to drive to our hotel in another country, we’d most def have been amongst the patio drinkers. Besides looking so lovely (check out that pink building!), it’s also fun to say (lyoo-blee-yana).

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Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she wonderful? Yep, yep. She also likes to be serenaded..probably.

Na svidenje Slovenija! | Goodbye. See you again, Slovenia!

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Verona, Italia

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Verona has all of the luxuries of Italy that has stolen my heart. I mean. This country – the colors. the architecture details. the food (oh snap, the food.) the adding of the fun, extra syllables to everything. It agrees with us and I try to convince J about this fact perpetually – ‘deer, look at my skin. it’s softer now that we’re here.’ or ‘love, your eyes are extra blue since we crossed the border.’ I’m not totally unsure that it’s working. If you want to discuss how much you love Italy, come sit next to us….unless you don’t wear deodorant, because c’mon.

The city boasts the third largest Roman amphitheatre in Italy, built around 30 AD.  Also, in order to solidify a spot in our list of great cities, Verona went ahead and claimed a fab body of water. Not just claimed, but straddled itself around the Adige river making it quite convenient to enjoy best of both worlds.

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UNESCO isn’t the only one who appreciated the beauty of the city, Shakespeare was a big fan as well. He set three of his plays there – Romeo and JulietThe Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Taming of the Shrew. The tomb of Ms. Capulet, called Tomba di Giulietta, finds itself off the beaten path lined with columns leading to the monastery. The balcony, however, lives in a small, but highly sought-out courtyard in the center of Verona, named Casa di Giulietta. R+J’s tragedy attracts romantics from all over to come and leave love notes and locks as forever symbols. We played along – got us a rad little pink lock, wrote our initials on it and brought the keys to Croatia with us.

Ahh! And the best thing ever. Justin got stopped by an Asian tourist who asked for a photo with him. Her friends spoke English and told him that it was because he looked like Leonardo DiCaprio.. He tried to tell her that he was not Leonardo DiCaprio, but the lady insisted, it was ok that he just looked like him. Y’all. Leo D played Romeo which was set in Verona. Mind: blown. You don’t know how bad I want a copy of that photo.

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Goodnight, good night, Italia. Parting is such sweet sorrow. For in the morning, our road trip continues.

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Milano, Italia

So, the car ride out of Lucerne was pretty much full-on Annie trying to coerce Justin into stopping in Milan..

“Honey, I’ve never been to Milan.. Love, we’re driving right through.. I love Italy what if we never come back?!”

He’d break about 45 minutes outside of the city and thought he could prove his wife wrong in that there wasn’t anything to see. Ha. While not as lovely as Florence, Milan was still able to add to her love affair with Italia. So we park the car in the first lot that we find in the (what we assumed was) center of town and begin our trek around the city to see the sights in pit-stop number two on our way to Verona. We spot a tower and figure, ‘hey, that must be something important.’ Ends up that we’re walking next to the beautiful Sempione Park on our way up to the 15th century Sforza Castle, one of the largest citadels in Europe. Psh. J and his ‘nothing to see’. A of course made friends with the first musical street performer we come across..

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Wandering through the castle’s renaissance courtyard, we find one of the entrances with a long boulevard on the opposite side. The trek continues down the street and leads us to the Piazza del Duomo, where Annie with all of her inner strength fights the urge to say, ‘see, told ya.’ But she doesn’t need to, he knows, he knows. It was a good pit-stop, the square is dominated by the Milan Cathedral, the fifth largest cathedral in the world and the most important example of Gothic architecture in the country. This guy that takes six centuries to build is just as grand on the inside, but unfortunately the cathedral ushers don’t let A in since she’s in shorts.. Women in shorts are forbidden, men in shorts are fine.. What year is this?

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After J makes a quick run through the inside our eyes turn to the left of the cathedral where we find a giant glass covered walkway – the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II is the worlds oldest shopping mall – but we were hard pressed to notice the shops while looking up at the ceiling the entire way through.

The little trolley car at the stop on the other side reminded us of our days back on McKinney Avenue in Dallas. We smile, and think, ‘yeah, we’d much rather look at them in Milan’ while we make our way back to our chariot. Next stop, Verona. Annie promises her husband no more pit-stops on the way.

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Luzern, Schweiz

As a pit stop from overnights in Basel to Verona, we made it to Lucerne for breakfast. We walked along the Reuss river and made friends with the swans. Seriously. I would move to Switzerland just for the animal sitch they’re workin with. I can only imagine that sitch in Austria because Austria is just as lovely and we’re completely obsessed after our Christmas trip. Secret little country doesn’t want the outsiders to know how great it is.. J and I’s conversation on the way through Austria when we forgot how much we adored the country..

‘Hi guys – welcome back! We’re glad to have you. Hope you enjoy being here, really we do. Have a look around at our home..you can tell people about it if you want, or not, either way we’re just chillin.’ – Austria

This is also the method with which J re-teaches me all of the European history that I probably learned in school, but forgot it like a normal person. He personifies leaders and countries and makes them into characters that I’ll remember and he is gonna be the greatest dad. If it doesn’t confuse the heck out of them..

Where were we? Oh yeah, Schweis. Which is the Swiss German, or maybe just German?, way to say it in the city and I like the local language of cities to shine…even if I’m butchering the pronunciation with my Southern-trying-really-hard-not-to-sound-too-Southern American accent. Overly expressive facial expressions and all.

Lucerne.

They’ve got this famous bridge, Kapellbrücke. That thing is a work of art, all 669 ft of it. It cuts through the Reuss and was originally built in 1333, making it the oldest covered bridge in Europe. Except for the restoration that was needed in 1993  (allegedly) caused by a cigarette. Do you know I now feel dirtier for even having that word on our blog. Yuck. Get that crap under control people. Please and thank you. Anyway, that bridge is a beaut with its remainders (and sadly, restorations) of 17th century paintings throughout Lucerne’s history.

It was all so picturesque. Take a gander..

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Basel, Schweiz

Have you heard we took a little big road trip recently? I ‘grammed a little preview about it. The views we did see. (Over on the side bar: how much do you instagram when you’re on a trip? I’m a photo a day-ish kinda girl.. Ya know, not too much. But then again, when I know a friend is on a trip, I’m such a stalker – more pics, more pics please!) Anyway, it was a whirlwind of a trip, rolling through city after city and spending a week on the beach. Each town gets its own post because they’re all fabulous in their own right.

Basel, Switzerland

First stop on our trip was Basel. We had a little preview of the city on Christmas day here, but this second time was golden. We had the best hostess this side of the Atlantic. Ms. Nayra moved home to Switzerland earlier this year and this was the first chance we’ve gotten to catch up with her since she left Brussels. Man, we missed that little lady. I wish we could plan more shindigs together.

So, yes. After the quick jaunt through four countries in an afternoon, we parked at Nayra’s house and caught up on some much-needed hugs and squeals. She welcomed us to her Wednesday night Girl’s Night with a BBQ….yumm. It was low-keyed and lovely. The next morning we hiked down the side of a nearby mountain (this is Switzerland. those things are everywhere). We made lots of animal friends on the way down. 

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We were pretty proud of our hike, until about 1.2 days later when we realized that we haven’t hiked down a mountain since at least a year ago and those little muscles in our shins are now awake and mad. Still worth it though. 

The afternoon was spent walking through the city and admiring architecture with history lessons from our friend. The sun was scorching, so we grabbed a beer with Sprite and put our feet in the Rhine river and watched as people floated by (jealous..we’re going to need to plan ourselves a Rhine river floating trip soon).

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Basel, Switzerland
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That evening, Nayra’s parents (who are the cutest couple ever) cooked dinner for us and broke out old photo albums of the awesomest, most hippy-fab photos that Nayra needs to frame asap. please. We’re talkin 1970 Spanish summers here. My heart sings. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to tell this or not, but her parents don’t speak English too fluently, so her dad is taking English lessons so that he can chat with Nayra’s English-speaking friends when they come over. I mean!! Precious, that is. Her mom told us the story of how they met and he proposed while he lived in Spain and she lived in Switzerland. And then, they asked if we’d like a beverage – tea, more water, grappa. Grappa? Well, I’ve only tried it once and didn’t like it. Next thing we know, he’s down in the cellar fetching his liquor cabinet, of which we tasted sips of the variety in her mom’s collection of beautiful shot glasses from her travels. All of it. All of them. A swell night indeed.

The visit was over too soon and the following morning we did our awkward 2.5 kisses until I gave up and went straight for the hugs. By the way, I think it should be a rule that whenever you go in to kiss people, you have to call out how many times you’re going for. No room for confusion, because for Americans, this kissing thing is WAY more intimate than a hug, which is opposite on this side of the Atlantic. And I tend to make it as awkward as possible. You’re Dutch and I’m American, but we both live in the French-speaking part of Belgium, so how many does that compute to…oh, always one (+/-) off than what I go for? Got it.

Basel, Switzerland

Thanks for being wonderfully fantastic, Nayra. We’re particularly appreciative of grand hosts these days in which we’re all traveling quite a bit more.

xxx (that’s 3 kisses for the Swiss!)

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Mechelen, man

Via our friend Doris we’ve found out about this awesome map of Brussels made by Use-It. It’s a free little guidebook of sorts made up by young locals to point out some of their favorite spots in the city, keeping you in the cool, not too touristy parts. We’ve been whipping out our Brussels one every once in a while to get some ideas on new places to try out or areas to stroll through, so we were excited to find out that they’re a Europe-wide sort of thing. In Belgium they’ve got all the big cities – Antwerp, Bruges, Gent and Leuven – but also a name we hadn’t seen come up all too often: Mechelen. So one slow Sunday we figured we’d give it a go and visit this place that finds itself about halfway between Brussels and Antwerp.

Now that we’ve built up this map you’re probably assuming that we’re checking off all the hot Mechelen spots. Well, no. Who knows what happened (ok, it was because Doris hand delivered the Brussels one and the tourist office doesn’t find itself in our living room) but we ended up in the town mapless. Comme d’habitude. Our first stop was St. Rombold’s Cathedral, mainly because we could spot the tower from where we parked and figured it’d be in the center of town.. And if that tower looks a little unfinished to you, it’s because it is. They stopped when the town ran out of money way back in the 16th century and it’s stayed a flat-top ever since. Inside we found a corner full of gossiping statues, presumably talking about whoever went broke.

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Cleanest. Belgian. Town. Stuff was almost shiny, and the city had flowers almost anywhere they could fit them. It did have a little emptiness to it though – the place felt like it was made for way, way more people. But it was a Sunday, sunny, and holiday season so it’s not too far fetched to think that the residents had vacated their pristine little town for the beaches. The extra space gave Annie some time to practice her cartwheels. Or maybe all the locals are at the spots we should have known about if we had our Use-It map..

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Filed under // Day Trips, Belgium

And the town cheered with excitement

Ghent, Belgium via MontgomeryFest

Because we were one for three. Three times the mister and I have tried to hit up a river cruise in the country of Belgium. That first time was kinda our fault..the forecast said it was pretty out, or maybe we didn’t check the weather? Who can even remember at this point, it was like 39 days ago or something. We got in the car and drove straight up to Ghent and parked our car  and walked outside and let it pour down on us for like eight seconds before we decided – nope.. Okay, maybe it was a light rain, but it was cold and being on the water sounded little fun. Bummer. So, we walked back inside and bought some watercolor paint in the parking garage slash shopping mall and got back in our car and drove straight back down to Brussels where I can’t remember if it was raining or not, but that’s beside the point.  That second time was with the ladies in Bruges and the weather was a tiny bit chilly, but not a rain cloud in sight and J and I’s eyes lit up when we walked over a canal by chance and saw a guided tour float by under our bridge.  Maybe?! Nope. Nanan nixed that idea up and real quick since her layer of thermals wasn’t warm enough. On land we stayed. Such is the life of a host.

But! Last Saturday, the stars aligned and there was sunshine and it was just the two of us and we saw our chance.

And the town of Ghent was so excited for us that they all came out to welcome us and, well okay, not totally just for that, but there were many a Belgian and non-Belgian alike amongst those cobblestone streets. I love when you get close to the center of a city and, whether it’s official or not, the cars turn away and all there are are people walking, bicycling, meandering, enjoying the leisurely life along the streets…in the masses (sooo many people here!). Actually, I take that back. Leisurely and bicycles don’t go together in these parts. It’s a serious, fast-paced agenda that bicycling in Northern Europe. We boarded our wooden yacht and sat back watching boats bump into each other and then waving ‘pardon’ or whatever the Dutch word is (sorry Dutch friends)…are they seriously smiling?! So many people. We laughed at the signs on every seat saying tipping was customary in 4 different languages guaranteeing you couldn’t miss it because it’s funny that tipping is not customary in Europe but tipping IS customary on tourist rides. The adventure began and we listened to the tour in English, French, Dutch and maybe there was another one, but my ears only tuned in when they heard english or a french term that they didn’t use during the English translation (what the heck.). Kinda rad how the brain does that, but can’t remember the grammar rules for capitalizing languages (help?) to save my life. Capitalization for all!

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You see, the thing about floating under a willow tree is that it’s lovely. 

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Filed under // Day Trips, Belgium

Palma de Mallorca

Our trip to Palma de Mallorca via MontgomeryFest

Monday was particularly Mondayish, so we felt certain that we needed a beach trip in the near future. Like, really near. Like, Wednesday. So, we were giddy about the spontaneous adventure until about 5:01a Wednesday when the alarm clock woke us up, but at around 5:03a, all was better when our neurons started working and we remembered we were headed to the Mediterranean. Ahh, Spain! New country. Get on over there>>.

J went undercover as morning watchman and I risked getting sassed by the flight attendant, but it was worth it to snag these overhead shots of the Balearic Islands just before we landed on them. You’re welcome.

Balearic Islands via MontomeryFestPalma de Mallorca | Balearic Islands via MontgomeryFest

As soon as we landed, we threw on our beach attire and headed straight to the sand. Ahh sand, our toes have missed you. (and you too, waves. and you too, ocean smell.)

Palma de Mallorca via MontgomeryFestPalma de Mallorca via MontgomeryFest
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We stayed just outside of the city center so that we could enjoy a slightly more secluded beach. The walk into town was about an hour along the coast. Everywhere you looked – the colors! I mean! I was giddy. Once we got to the center of Palma, we walked past the Portixol marina to the old town, which looked like anything but an old town. Every.single.thing was well-kept and well cared for…unlike my nails these days (miss you too American nail salons). The cathedral, La Seu, is a marvel and the outside terraces were rocking my world. We’ve never had a better selection of patios.

Palma de Mallorca via MontgomeryFestLa Seu | Palma de Mallorca via MontgomeryFest Old town | Palma de Mallorca via MontgomeryFestOld town | Palma de Mallorca via MontgomeryFestPalma de Mallorca via MontgomeryFestPalma de Mallorca via MontgomeryFestRooftop view of Palma de Mallorca beach via MontgomeryFest

^This is the view from the rooftop of our hotel (sneaking out the restricted door. gosh. we’ve turned out to be such rebels.) Where the coast line bends is the city center of Palma. There are about eight of my favorite things in the world either in this picture or taking this picture (photo courtesy of Justin. obvi.).

Palma de Mallorca beach via MontgomeryFest

This is where we lived on Thursday. Isn’t the beach just the absolute, most perfect venue to read? I like to get my Mr. Darcy fix in and pretend that I naturally talk so eloquently in my love letters to J (what, it’s not obvious from this blog?). Also, we have this thing where we adore having tan lines from our rings. After the wedding reception, it was pretty much: fly to Jamaica, tan our fingers. That’s not weird. Another thing that’s not weird – color coordinated, even at the beach. Bam.

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And at the end of the day, we said ‘adios’ to that Spanish adventure and returned home to our Belgian one.

Happy Friday Amigos!

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Let’s go fly a kite

Up to the highest height! Sorry, I’ve been singing that song all day, so I’m passing the torch. That’s how it works, right? It better.

Sunny? Check. Free Sunday afternoon? Check. To the beach! Everyone got a turn at the fancy kite, but please notice everyone’s form. Gracefully in control of both handles by their side. Oh..wait..not – yep. I’m the one with the arms flailing and the kite nose diving into the ground. Time after time, too. 

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Finally got to that Brussels style waffle. And let me tell you, yum.

Next week, we’ll be posting our wedding photos for our one year anniversary (!!). Cannot wait for you all to share in our wonderful day!
Ciao!

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Filed under // Day Trips, Belgium

Day Tripping to Tournai

Tournai, Belgium via MontgomeryFest

Do you ever get to 2pm on Saturday and you’re just like, ‘we gotta get outta here’? It happens to us a lot..we’ve just gotta explore, stat. Especially with this crazy Belgian climate. We wake up in the morning, look at the map and do a very scientific-like calculation of driving time x amount of sun x temperature. Similar to The Day Tripping Bowl of Destiny, but less fancy. That’s how we ended up in Tournai last Saturday. Well, we showed up and were still lacking a bit on the sun, and it was still a little on the chilly side so our walking was limited to the area to just around the cathedral. That was fine because we still got to cross something off of our UNESCO list, but the rest of this little town we’re going to need to save for a sunnier, warmer day..but, really. these photos are some of my faves, so I wanted you to have a peek..


Tournai, Belgium via MontgomeryFestTournai, Belgium via MontgomeryFestTournai, Belgium via MontgomeryFest

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Filed under // Day Trips, Belgium