Archive | International Travel RSS feed for this section

South Africa and Mauritius Itinerary

10 Dec

Are you interested in traveling to South Africa and Mauritius?  Well, check out my 2 week itinerary!

Day 1:  Depart for Cape Town.

Day 2:  Arrive in Cape Town.  Hotel:  An African Villa.  Transportation from airport provided by Discovery Tours.

Day 3:  Cape Point morning tour with Hylton Ross (penguins, Cape of Good Hope).  Lunch at V&A waterfront (in particular, the market).  City & Table Mountain afternoon tour with Hylton Ross of Cape Town including Table Mountain, Camps Bay, City Hall, a market, and Malay quarter.  Dinner at V&A Waterfront.

IMG_1960

IMG_2078

Day 4:  Great White Shark cage diving with Great White Shark Tours.  4:10am pick up.  Returned to Cape Town around 3pm.  Dinner near hotel – Sawadee (Thai food).

IMG_2411

Day 5:  All day wine tour with lunch through Wine Flies.

IMG_2606

Day 6:  All day Cape Town cultural and Robben Island tour through Hylton Ross.  Visited District Six Museum, Langa Township, and Robben Island.  Dinner at Raj in Camps Bay.

IMG_2814

Day 7:  Depart Cape Town for Kapama Game Reserve.   Hotel:  Kapama Karula.  Afternoon game drive.

IMG_2875

Day 8:  Morning elephant-backed safari.  Afternoon game drive.

IMG_3124

Day 9:  Morning game drive.  4+ hours at the spa.  Afternoon game drive.

IMG_3546

Day 10:  Morning game drive.  Afternoon depart for Johannesburg.  Hotel:  D’Oreale Grande Peermont.

IMG_3855

Day 11:  Depart Johannesburg for Mauritius.  Hotel:  Sugar Beach Resort.

IMG_3951

Day 12:  Beach day.

IMG_3924

Day 13:  Beach day.

IMG_3973

Day 14:  Catamaran – snorkeling, see dolphins, visit an island and lunch.

IMG_4254

Day 15:  Beach day.

IMG_4021

Day 16:  Depart Mauritius.  Return home.   7 hour layover in Johannesburg was spent exploring airport shops, lunch at City Lodge Hotel, and working out at Phela Live Wellness Centre.

Day 17:  Arrive home.

One Week in London Itinerary

10 Dec

Day 1, Tuesday:  

Leave for London in AM.  Arrive in London in PM.

Day 2, Wednesday:

Walk around London

IMG_0603

IMG_0619

Day 3, Thursday:

Walk around London (again)

IMG_0897

IMG_0933

IMG_1031

Day 4, Friday:  

Trip to Paris for the day.  Booked Eurostar and Hop On Hop Off bus through Evan Evans Sightseeing Tours (Note: booking through a tourist agency was way cheaper for us than booking the Eurostar alone.  However, we also only booked the night before when Eurostar prices were really high).  We also bought metro cards when we arrived.   The Hop On Hop Off bus takes over two hours so to skip a lot of the delay we utilized the metro to get to a lot of the sites.

Some of the sites we visited include:  the Eiffel Tour (we didn’t go up), Le Louvre (we went inside and ran straight for the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa), Catedrale Notre Dame de Paris (we walked inside), Arc de Triomphe (walked underneath it), Opera National de Paris (only the outside), and we had lunch on the Champs-Elysses.   The absolute highlight of our trip was seeing the Eiffel Tour at night.  We had crepes and wine while watching the Eiffel Tour sparkle (at night, the  Eiffel Tour sparkles the first five minutes of every hour – after that, the lights are just the normal, beautiful lights).      Also, the best viewing spot is outside of Trocedero station.

IMG_1270

Extra Helpful Tips: (1) I would not attempt to go see the Catacombs if you only have one day.  It seems like the wait is hours any time you go.   (2) If you are planning this day trip in advance, book your Eiffel Tour fast pass tickets online.  We booked our day trip the night before so the Eiffel Tour tickets were already sold out. (3) Wear comfortable walking shoes.  If you are only doing a day trip, you will walk a lot!

IMG_1306

Saturday, October 26:

9am Train to Cambridge.  Arrived at 10am.  Walked around Cambridge, UK.  Visited John’s College and King’s College.  Had lunch near the river.  Shopped at the markets.

IMG_1439

We were back in London by 3pm.  When we got back to London we went straight for the NFL rally in Trafalgar Square (one of the reasons we were in London was for the NFL game that Sunday).  Afterwards, we walked around Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, and then we went to Covent Garden for cookies and macaroons.

IMG_1464

For dinner we went to Brick Lane for Indian food and then afterwards we went to a speakeasy – Callooh Callay.

IMG_1541

Sunday, October 27: 

For breakfast we ate at Up Market near Brick Lane (HIGHLY recommend).  Afterwards, we shopped at Up Market and at Spitalsfield Market.

IMG_1591

In the late afternoon we headed to Wembley for the NFL game (Jaguars vs. 49ers).  When that game was over, we went to Sports Bar & Grill at Victoria Station to watch more American football games.  At the very end of the night, we returned back to Buckingham Palace to take pictures at night.

IMG_1636

Monday, October 28:

We spent the morning walking around London some more: going inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, seeing the financial district, etc.  In the early afternoon we left London and arrived home in the evening.

Enjoy London (and Paris)! 

Options for a Layover in Johannesburg

8 Dec

IMG_4286

Stuck at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg for a while?   Well, we were too.  So, I created a list of some of the options for layovers.  Please note that the pricing may have changed.  Enjoy!

Have only an hour or two before your next flight?  I would just stay in the airport – there are quite a few stores and restaurants.  However, make sure that if you sit at a restaurant to let them know when your flight is.  We thought we had plenty of time – about 50 minutes before our flight started boarding – but the food came out after our flight was already boarding.

Want to workout?  Right outside the airport (it’s really across the street – walkable) is Phela Live Wellness Centre (see picture above).  They charged us $15 per person to use their gym for the day.   The gym is great: lots of treadmills and other cardio and weights.  They also have classes, but not while we were there.  In addition, they have a spa.  At the time we were there (November 2013) they had a great deal – $40 for two half hour sessions (for example, 1/2 hour foot massage followed with 1/2 hour head massage).   This is a great option if you have three + hours between flights.

Have a while and you want to rest, maybe hang by a pool, possibly even workout?   Head to City Lodge OR Tambo.  It’s about a block or two away (there are signs – it’s walkable).  City Lodge was going to charge us $60 total for a day pass (until 6pm) where we could get a room to wash up & rest, use the pool and utilize the gym.  Also, their restaurant had good food.

Have 1/2 a day or more?   Check out Emperor’s Palace – there are restaurants, a casino, shops, and a movie theater.  There is also a free shuttle from the airport.

Have almost a full day?  Check with local tourist agencies and book a day or 1/2 day tour of Johannesburg, Soweto, or the other sites nearby.

Are you arriving in the afternoon and leaving the next morning?  I recommend getting a room at the Emperor’s Palace complex.  We stayed at D’oreale Grande Peermont and really enjoyed it.  We slept well, had dinner at the Italian restaurant and were able to workout.  There is also a movie theater, a free shuttle to and from the airport,  a pool, shows, a casino, restaurants and shops.

Hope this helps!   Enjoy JoBurg!

Iberostar Rose Hall Suites Wedding Review

6 Jul

941375_10100852019103787_1144050724_n
Photo by Sandy May

Iberostar Rose Hall Suites Wedding Review

Wedding Coordinator (Nicole) – A

Prior to the wedding it took a long time to get answers. However, as soon as you meet Nicole you realize that you are in the BEST hands. She is so patient, sweet and organized. She was also there for us throughout our wedding weekend despite having weddings almost every day we were there. In fact, she was even with us the night before the wedding at 10pm to teach our guests how to light sky lanterns.

Ceremony Location: A

It’s right in front of Aunt Rubys, but at 4:30pm there were not many people at all in the restaurant or around that area. Also, something you don’t notice in the pictures is that Aunt Rubys is to the side of the resort in between Iberostar Rose Hall Beach and Iberostar Rose Hall Suites. What this means is that most beach goers are not in that area – they are more in the middle of their respective resort. Therefore, it still felt private even though it was exposed. Plus, the resort keeps people from walking behind your wedding so there were no random people in the back of our photos. Finally, my biggest concern about a beach wedding was the weather. It all held out. In fact, even the wind was fine because my hair was completely down but wasn’t blowing in my face.

1039

The Ceremony: A

It was amazing. Nicole coordinated the entrances so well. Our officiant was amazing. If you are Jewish, you need to hire him!

Wedding Reception Location: A

We had our reception on the beach at Iberostar Rose Hall Suites under a tent. It was between Aunt Rubys and the pool. It was gorgeous.

The Reception: A

The reception was a ton of fun. It started at 6:30pm with DJ Kevan introducing the bridal party and then the bride and groom. Each bridal party member had their own intro song clip and then the bride and groom had one longer song clip. Then we went into the first dance. After the first dance everyone was seated and dinner began. Dinner was slow so we did speeches in between courses starting with the best man speech and maid of honor speech and ending with the family speeches. After the speeches and dinner the dancing started. DJ Kevan really knows how to keep the party going so there was always people on the dance floor. It was an awesome reception.

600614_10100851901993477_122084521_n

Dinner: B

The steak was really tasty. The chicken was just ok. The rest was ok, nothing special.

Wedding Cake: B

I tried both the vanilla and the chocolate (we did one of each). They were both good, nothing special.

389342_10100851625118337_1348083196_n

Wedding Day Schedule

12pm Hair & Makeup for bride and 3 bridesmaids began in bridal room.

(Courtney’s comment: I would have moved this up one hour so that I would have had time to take more photos in the room. The makeup ended five minutes before the ceremony was to start so I was just rushing to get dressed. I wish that I would have had more time to enjoy the pre-wedding time with taking photos, having some champagne, etc.).

12:30pm Met our officiant to go over the ceremony and then signed the wedding document

4:30pm Ceremony on the beach

(Courtney’s comment: I would have moved this to 4pm so that I had more time to take photos, had time to see the cocktail hour, and would have been able to relax at the champagne toast)

5:20pm – 6:20pm Cocktail hour in the lobby terrace

(Courtney’s comment: I would have moved this to the Blue Moon Music Bar or cancelled the steel pan band for cocktail hour. Guests indicated that the band was too loud on the terrace and so many of them just went to the lobby bar. In addition, I would have had the cocktail hour go on for an additional half hour so that we may have been able to stop by and try the appetizers – this would have only worked if we moved the ceremony up to 4pm).

6:30-10:30pm Reception on the beach

(Courtney’s comment: Perfect! Sun was setting. It was gorgeous. And, the four hour reception was the perfect amount of time. I actually remember at the end thinking, “ok, I am ready for this to be over and take off the dress.”)

11pm – Whenever Nightclub at Iberostar Rose Hall Suites

(Courtney’s comment: This was a lot of fun. I changed into a lighter dress and a lot of the guests met at the lobby bar. We then went to the nightclub. Some of our guests ended up staying up until around 5am going to different parts of the hotel property. The party continued, continued and continued.)

SAM_6598

Wedding Day Vendors:

Flowers – Floral Fantasies:

PROS: BEAUTIFUL flowers. They truly understood what we wanted and gave us a really great price. We also got to keep all the flowers and vases, which not all floral shops allow that.

CONS: None.

7775_10100852017387227_1997697628_n

Officiant – Stephen Henriques:

PRO: If you are Jewish and want a Jewish ceremony, book him! He was amazing. Our guests loved talking to him about his family’s history in Jamaica and about the Jewish community in Jamaica.

CON: He booked a wedding for right after ours so there was no wiggle room for any delays.

1083

Tent – Cover Me Up Event Rentals:

PROS: Conrad (owner, I believe) was extremely helpful sending us photos of the different tent options and pricing for each. He had the tent set up the night before the wedding and was there the day of the wedding to make sure all the rest of the details were correct including the dance floor, curtains, etc.

CONS: None.

1199

DJ – Kevan Stewart:

PROS: AMAZING! Book him! He was our DJ and did our lighting too. He was incredible. He totally created the party.

CONS: Absolutely none.

Hair & Makeup – Rashel Edwards’ Company:

PROS: They are really good and they come to your room. Her hair person did exactly what I dreamt of for wedding hair but never thought would be possible – beach waves with a small braid on both sides (coming together in the back) that kept the veil secure.

CONS: They didn’t finish my hair and makeup until two minutes before our ceremony. Therefore, I had no time to take any pictures with my family or bridal party before the ceremony. I also didn’t have time to make any changes to the hair, makeup or dress because we were so rushed.

ADVICE: Book really early – like a year in advance. She fills up quickly. Also, have them come earlier than you think you should have them come. This will leave some wiggle room for any things that come up and gives you plenty of time to relax and take pictures before the ceremony.

SAM_6504Video – RG Weddings/Roxroy Gough:

PROS: Super professional. He had multiple cameras, special lighting, microphones, etc.

CONS: We are still waiting on the video so I can’t speak to that just yet.

Extra advice for future IRHS brides:

How to Plan a Destination Wedding

7 Jun

So, you want to have a destination wedding…

0023

Here’s how to begin:

(1)  Work on your budget. How much do you have to spend on your wedding?  Talk to your family to see if they are willing to help and, if so, how much, for what, and how do they want to pay (e.g., directly to the vendor, give you a check, etc.).

(2)  Join BestDestinationWedding.com.  It is the best resource for brides considering, planning, and returning from their destination weddings.

(3)  Find a few different travel agents.  Get their opinion on locations if you haven’t picked one.

(4)  Pick a location (city/state/country).   To figure out your location, answer a few questions.  What feel do you want the wedding to have?  Do you want warm weather or cold weather?  Do you want a mountain, garden, indoor, beach or cliff side wedding?   Are you getting legally married in that location?  If so, make sure to check the country’s marriage restrictions and whether you can abide by the laws/regulations to get legally married there.  Some countries even require blood tests or have in-country stay requirements.  Also, are you fine with a marriage certificate in another language?  If not, make sure to choose an English-speaking location or find out if they have the option of having the certificate in English.  Finally, how far are your guests willing to travel?

(5)  Once you pick the destination, pick the resort and/or location for the ceremony/reception.  Ask travel agents for their recommendations for weddings in that particular city/state/country.  Then check the pricing of the resorts to see which ones are affordable for your guests.  Also, check reviews of the resort on TripAdvisor, BestDestinationWedding.com, and other websites.  Finally, make sure to find out the cost of a wedding at the resorts/locations that you are looking at.  Pricing can really differ at the resorts and also ask if you can use outside vendors if you have particular vendors you want to work with.

(6)  Talk to the resort/location and get a date locked down.

(7)  Get price quotes from a few travel agents and pick whichever travel agent gives you the best quote, mixed with the one that you work well with (are they easy to get ahold of?),  and that gives you good benefits (e.g., free stay for the wedding couple, champagne in the room, etc.).  Sign a group booking contract with your travel agent.

(8)  Once you have your particular location of the wedding weekend, see if your travel agent has any past brides that you can talk to.  Also, look for the forums for your location on BestDestinationWedding.com and if there are any on Facebook.  For example, Iberostar Rose Hall Suites, the resort where my wedding was held, has three forums on Facebook and a few on BestDestinationWedding.com.  These forums can be very helpful since it can be hard to reach wedding coordinators at popular resorts.

(9)  Talk to vendors.  Read their reviews.  Check WeddingWire, Facebook, Google, and BestDestinationWedding.com.  Find out if their price point fits your budget.  Book them early.  10 months prior to my wedding, a lot of vendors were already booked.  Really talk to vendors early and book them!

(10)    Make a thorough Excel chart with (a) vendors, (b) guests, (c) gifts, (d) budget, (e) tables (place cards), (f) wedding songs, (g) schedule, (h) wedding tasks, (i) packing list, and (j) miscellaneous.  Get organized early on!

(11)    Lastly, tell your guests early on about your plans to have a destination wedding.  Send out save the dates, create a wedding website, and get your guests in touch with your travel agent.

Stay tuned to CourtneyMara.com for more wedding and travel planning advice…

Iberostar Rose Hall Suites Review

1 Jun

1182

Arrival/Check In – B

We never got a welcome drink!  We also arrived at 1pm and were not able to check in until 3pm.  This is one of the few times where a resort really has not allowed us to check in before the designated check in time.  However, you are allowed to enjoy the resort (including the restaurants) until check in time.  You just leave your luggage at the front door with the bell hop.

Resort – A

Beautiful grounds, beach was beautiful, lazy river is super lazy, but still a ton of fun to go around with a big group, the pools were awesome, there were always activities going on from dancing next to the pool, volleyball on the beach, volleyball in one of the pools, etc.  The lobby and other areas inside the resort are very classy.

P1030755

Room (Oceanfront) – A

The beds were comfortable, the balcony was huge and had a gorgeous view.  I only turned on the TV once but was able to find our home baseball game on and the show “Friends.”  The shower and tub are big.

Nightclub – A

Best all inclusive night club I have ever been too.  Good music, fun lights, big bar.

SAM_6598

Breakfast Buffet – A

Lots of choices and really good.  Great fruit, bacon is crisp, and LOTS of fresh juice choices.

Lunch Buffet at Aunt Rubys – B+

Food was good, just not so many choices.   Although, my brother was able to get a huge turkey sandwich one day, which I don’t think is that common at all-inclusive resorts.  Convenient location (next to beach).

Dinner at Aunt Rubys – B

My pork was ok.  My husband and his mom didn’t like the tenderloin.  Most everyone else seemed to order the rib eye and really enjoyed it (it was HUGE).  Plus, the dessert was the best for any of the restaurants.  I LOVED the apple pie.

P1030773 P1030774

Dinner at Calabash Gourmet Restaurant – C

My husband’s steak was really good.  The lamb was only ok.  The appetizer of asparagus soup was really good and so was the salad they gave us.   My husband who is the pickiest eater and doesn’t like to try new things even liked the asparagus soup.  The dessert they gave us was some chocolate soft thing – it was terrible.

P1030405P1030402

Dinner at the Mexican Restaurant – A-

Loved the special tacos.  The appetizer bar is really good with a lot of Mexican and non-Mexican options that I almost didn’t need to eat the meal.  The dessert table was really lacking.  Nothing I wanted to eat.

Dinner at Iberostar Rose Hall Beach’s Japanese Hibachi Restaurant – B

The atmosphere and experience deserve an A, but the actual food deserves a C.  The chicken was really good, but the rice was burnt and the steak was terrible.  SAM_6370Pool Bar – A

The drinks were great.  I recommend the Dirty Banana.

Beach – B

Beautiful.  I just wish there was more room to swim out and around.  There are a lot of parts with seaweed or maybe it was coral – but where you couldn’t swim too easily.   Lying on the beach is awesome though.  Lots of shade and sun areas.

P1030638SAM_6404

Pool – A

Multiple pools.  Lots of activities.  The pools really made my husband and me into pool people.

SAM_6445

Water Activities – B

The kayaking is fun and relaxing.  Just reserve it in the morning for your afternoon time.  Parasailing was $120 per couple.   Our friends liked the sailing which was free.

P1030745

Spa: A

Get a long massage!  I had the best massage I have ever had and I tend to be picky about massages.  Plus, the atmosphere they have in the room and rest of the spa makes you feel that you are at a five-star spa.  Also, they have spa pools that are free to use.  Check them out.

Fitness Center:  C

We didn’t use it because I like to run with a TV and they didn’t have it set up so you can do that.  I remember there being one TV, but either you couldn’t see it from the treadmills or there was no noise.

One Week in Italy

1 Apr

In November of 2012, Matt and I spent 8 days in Italy. I have already posted our recommended TO DOs for each city (Rome, Venice, Florence, Tuscany), but below is our detailed itinerary. I hope that it shows that you can really see a lot in Italy in just 8 days!

Friday: We had a 9:05pm flight to Rome.

Saturday: We arrived around 2pm in Rome. We took the train from the airport to the main train station. We walked straight to the hotel (Hotel de Monti) and dropped off our luggage. We then changed into running clothes and ran around the town to explore. In particular, we ran to the Colosseum and Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II. Afterwards, we got dressed up and decided to walk around more on the way to get dinner. We walked to the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and then got dinner on the way to the Pantheon. After dinner we walked to the Pantheon and then back over to the Colosseum. Seeing the Colosseum at night is a MUST.

P1020676P1020687

Sunday: We ran in the morning and then went inside the Pantheon. Afterwards, we had our scheduled Colosseum tour. Our tickets included admission to the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill. We then had gelato at Giolitti and then went to the hotel and rested. Later that evening we went to dinner at the best pizza place I have ever been to, Pizzeria Baffetto, and then went to an Irish pub, Scholars Lounge, to watch American football.

P1020706P1020786

Monday: We had a morning Vatican tour. Afterwards, we had pizza and gelato outside the Vatican wall. The gelato place is a MUST and is called Old Bridge. It was so good and cheap(er)! At night, we had dinner outside the Pantheon at Scusati il Ritardo. Great food and amazing view! After dinner we went to visit the Trevi Fountain again since it is just so magical.

P1020870 P1020889P1020906

Tuesday. We spent our last day in Rome visiting the Aventine Key Hole (MUST) and getting a tour of the main synagogue in Rome and the Jewish ghetto. We took a 7:20pm train to Florence and arrived in Florence by 9:25pm. We checked into our hotel, Botticelli Hotel, and then went to have pizza. We still had time to see the Duoma (from the outside), ride the carousel at the Piazza della Repubblica, see the Ponte Vecchio, and see the David replica.

P1020929
P1020945

P1020958

Wednesday: We spent this day exploring Tuscany with WalkAbout Tours, which we booked through Viator.com. I posted information about our tour here. Afterwards, we came back to Florence. We ate dinner, walked around some more, and went back to the hotel.

P1030040 P1030030

Thursday: We took a 9:25am train from Florence to Venice that arrived in Venice at 11:33am. We checked into our hotel, Abbazia Hotel, and then did our normal routine – ran around to see as much as possible. We got lost a bunch of times, but we were just awe struck by the beauty. Afterwards, we continued to explore and ate a lot! This town is really great for walking, exploring, window shopping, and eating. We ended our evening having prosecco and tiramisu next to the water and Piazza San Marco.

P1030121 P1030105

P1030125P1030128

Friday: We spent all day in Venice. We rode a gondola, saw the Jewish ghetto, visited Piazza San Marco again, shopped, and ate, ate, ate! We had a great dinner at Hosteria al Vecio Bragosso.

P1030169 P1030159P1030183

Saturday: We left Venice for the United States at 7:40am. We arrived back in the U.S. that same day.

ADDITIONAL TIPS:

  • Because our time in each city was short, we stayed near the train stations.
  • Literally run around the city to see as much as possible.
  • Don’t waste money on hotels in Italy, instead, “waste” the money on food!
  • Bring good walking shoes.
  • Pack light so that you can travel around easily.

Enjoy Italy!

The MUST SEEs of Rome

8 Mar

Matt and I only had a few days in Rome, but we were able to see A LOT.  Below are some of our MUST SEEs of Rome!  And, make sure to stay tuned to CourtneyMara.com for the post containing our full Italy itinerary, which will show how we really saw so much of Italy in just 8 days!

  • Visit the Trevi Fountain

P1020649

  • Tour the Colosseum.  Book your tickets in advance (DO DO DO).  This saves you from waiting in the line that goes on forever!  Also, I highly recommend the tickets that include the upper level and dungeons.  The photo taken below was from the upper level.  You can only go there with a tour.  We booked our tickets through TickItaly.com.

P1020731

  • Visit the Vatican.  Again, I recommend booking your tickets in advance to skip the huge line and I highly recommend a tour.  We bought our tickets through the Vatican’s website.

P1020821

  • Eat a lot of gelato!   I recommend Old Bridge, which is next to the Vatican, and Giolitti.  

P1020766

  •  Visit the Aventine Key Hole.  Amazing view of St. Peter’s Basilica.  The picture below is of Matt looking through the key hole.

P1020935

P1020783

 

  • Go inside the Pantheon!  It’s free and just incredible.  

P1020668

 

Enjoy Rome!

A few hours in Florence

15 Feb

Matt and I only spent two evenings in Florence.  We arrived on a Tuesday night, spent Wednesday exploring Tuscany, and then had another evening in Florence before leaving early Thursday morning.  From our short time period there, the following are my Florence recommendations:

  • Take a ride on the carousel at Piazza della Republica

P1020959

  • Eat, eat and eat.  It’s Italy so you have to eat, eat and eat!   We went to two restaurants while in Florence.  I  HIGHLY recommend Ristorante del Fagioli (see first picture below), but remember to bring cash.  They do not take credit cards.  The food was amazing.  We also ate at the place where the cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore worked in Florence, Pizzeria Napoletana O’Vesuvio (see second picture below).  Matt loved this place.  I think I just picked the wrong pizza.

P1030092_2

P1020965

  • See where Michelangelo’s David originally stood outside the  Palazzo della Signoria and where there is now a replica

P1030088

  • See the Duoma

P1020979

  • See and shop on Ponte Vecchio (the bridge in the photo below)

P1020976

There is obviously a ton more to do in Florence if you are there during the daytime.  If we had been there during the daytime, my top picks would have been:
  • Climb the Duoma’s dome
  • Bike to Piazzale Michelangelo for the terrific views
  • Walk through the Uffizi Gallery
  • See the original David at the Galleria dell’Accademia

Enjoy Florence!

A Couple Days in Venice

17 Jan

Matt and I spent a couple days in Venice in November 2012.  Venice is a MUST DO sometime in your life.  It is incredible.  Venice is made up of 144 islands.  We spent our two days there just walking, walking and walking.  We tried to explore as many islands as possible.  Below are some of our recommendations:

  • Eat, eat and eat!  We loved dinner at Hosteria Al Vecio Bragosso (see picture below).

P1030182

  • Take a ride in a gondola.  MUST MUST MUST.  

P1030166

  • Visit the Venetian/Jewish Ghetto.  There is a very interesting history that can be read about here.

P1030160

  • Drink Prosecco and eat tiramisu near Piazza San Marco.  It is totally touristy and over priced, but the area is so romantic and iconic.

P1030126

Have a great trip to Venice!

Please post your recommendations in the comments section below.