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European Honeymoon Recap: Barcelona

December 16, 2014

Before we knew it, it was time to head to our last stop of the trip, Barcelona. Neither one of us really knew what to expect (I was just excited to break out some of my really rusty Spanish), but we quickly learned that Barcelona was one of the prettiest cities around.  I was enthralled with the architecture and have the camera roll to prove it.

We did not waste any time before heading to La Sagrada Familia, the famous church designed by Antoni Gaudí.  I studied his works in school and had always wanted to see some of his buildings in person. Spoiler: they did not disappoint.

La Sagrada Familia has been under construction since 1882 and they’re optimistic they’ll be done in 2026. For that reason, the giant cranes and scaffolding clouding my photos didn’t even bother me. I was just too focused on if we’d be able to come back in 2026 to see it completed.

The exterior of the church is super ornate and awe inspiring, but honestly my favorite part was the interior.  Everything about it was stunning, from the stained glass windows to the columns and ceiling reminiscent of a forest canopy.  Everywhere we looked, there was something new and different and photo-worthy.  Don’t worry, I went ahead and pulled just a few favorites for y’all.

Seriously. I want stained glass in all my windows. It’s an instant mood booster for me.

Staying true to form, we paid a little extra money (you’re welcome, Barcelona) to climb the stairs up one of the towers of the church, taking a lot of photos along the way.  None of them were spectacular, but it was really cool to see aspects of the church up close and personal.

Afterwards, we hunted down some paella for A who very patiently sat through my photo taking bonanza. Super tasty, although I was very unprepared for my food to still have a face.

We did quite a bit of moonlit sightseeing that evening, coming across another Gaudí masterpiece, Casa Batllo. It was gorgeous! I’m sure it was no accident that they had it up lit in a way that made it almost glow and emphasized the different colors.

On day 2, we visited Casa Batllo again to get some photos in the daylight. Yes, A indulges me way too much.   Then we hopped on our second sightseeing bus tour.  Seriously, these things are such a fantastic idea. You see so much of the city, while saving your feet, and learning along the way.  Plus it makes for adorable selfie opportunities.

Our bus took us to a third Gaudí site, Park Güell, a housing development turned nature park.  It was like stepping into CandyLand. Every inch of the place was crusted in mosaics and it was one of the most unique places I’d ever visited.

Aren’t these gorgeous? Such vibrant colors from every part of the rainbow.

After running out of camera space roughly 4 times, we moved on to finish the rest of our bus tour.  It wasn’t technically a stop on our tour, but this delicious pastry was a highlight of the day.  It was the Spanish version of Italian gelato, I ate it multiple times. If anyone can find me a local bakery that sells caracolas, I will forever be in debt to you.

We spent our last night in Barcelona walking along the seafront and avoiding some very aggressive seagulls.

We had so much fun and made so many great memories that it was almost hard to come home.  What a great start to our life as a married couple!

Read about our time in London and Rome.

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European Honeymoon Recap: Rome

December 9, 2014

The second stop on our whirlwind European tour was Rome, possibly the city I was most excited about.  I mean seriously the food alone puts it high on my list, but when you add in some of the most amazing history and sightseeing opportunities, I was sold.

We hit it hard on our first day in Rome.  There was a lot of ancient history to see and not much time to see it.  First up, the Coliseum!

There were other folks there, but not nearly as bad as it could have been, thanks to traveling during Europe’s off-season. We used our trusty Rick Steves’ Pocket Rome book and my melodic reading voice as our tour guide, saving us a few euros and allowing us to move through everything a little bit faster. I have to say, the Coliseum was pretty awe-inspiring for me.  To think of all the history (albeit very bloody) that took place there…it makes me wonder what landmarks people will visit hundreds of years from now.

Our next stop was the Roman Forum where we took in even more history and me-led tours.  One of my favorite photos was this one of the Temple of Saturn.

Then we headed off in search of something delicious for lunch and boy did we find it! A continued his quest to have pasta for every meal while I finally got my Italian pizza.  And oh my heavens, it was delicious.  I am going to have take a break from pizza before I can eat the American version again.

Y’all, that’s my husband drinking a beer in Italy on our honeymoon. Because we’re married. I suppose that eventually that won’t be as noteworthy, but I kind of hope it always makes me grin.

After our lunch, we worked our way through a fantastic walking tour through the heart of Rome.  We found some amazing places including the Pantheon which I absolutely loved.  So much so that we came back the next night.

Another stop on our tour was the Spanish Steps, home to romantics and lovebirds galore.  It made for some excellent people watching and one of my favorite photos of the trip.

When you have scenery like this for dinner, how could you not enjoy your meal? Of course it helps when you’re having fresh-made pasta in Italy, but still.

Our last day in Rome was spent exploring the Vatican.  We went through the Vatican Museum, viewing some amazing works of art in the old living quarters of past popes, but the best part of the Museum was seeing the Sistine Chapel. I think we could have spent hours in that room and not absorbed everything. We also jumped at the chance (figuratively, not literally) to climb the 551 steps to the top of St. Peter’s cupola.  While it was a little dicey about whether or not we’d make it up all those steps, the view of Rome from the top was not to be missed.

The trip also provided us with some top notch selfie background material.

As impressive as the views outside were, the inside of St. Peter’s Basilica was breathtaking.  I think both A and I said “wow” on multiple occasions and stood there completely still trying to look at everything.

A and I will definitely be return visitors to Italy, no doubt about it.  It was quite possibly my favorite stop on the trip!

Read about our time in London here.

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European Honeymoon Recap: London

December 2, 2014’all.  Can I re-live the past 12 days one more time? Please? Between our wedding and honeymoon, A and I have had the best time lately and I’m not sure we could have hoped for things to go more perfectly.  But everything went by so quickly that I want to go back and soak it up a little bit more!

I’ll share plenty of wedding details and photos in the coming weeks, but wanted to record our honeymoon travels while they were still fresh in my mind.  Thanks to a fantastic LivingSocial deal, A and I were able to take the honeymoon of a lifetime.  Seriously, if you’ve never bought one of their travel deals, please try it.  That may be how I book all of our vacations from now on!

We came, we saw, we ate and we conquered three fantastic cities (London, Rome and Barcelona).  I’m not sure I could pick a favorite place because I loved each one for a unique set of reasons.  First up, London!

Our first day in London was much longer than expected when we found ourselves with about 8 hours to kill before we could check into the hotel. And shower. And sleep.  With map and guidebook still in our suitcase (we used Rick Steves’ Pocket books for all three cities), we headed out to explore the area by randomly picking directions to travel.

Kensington Gardens ended up being our first destination and it was perfect.  I got to ooh and aah over all the dogs that were out running around, faced a serious fear of birds at an excessively large hell hole pond and got to see where William and Kate live!

I am sure the royal family was out of town and are sad to have missed our visit.  But seriously, how gorgeous is that photo?

As exciting as being in close proximity to my own personal style icon was, my favorite sight of the day was this memorial to Prince Albert.  I could have stayed there for hours photographing each little detail.  I actually may have taken an obscene number of photos of the fence alone in the short time we were there.

After what amounted to about 13 miles of walking, A and I crashed at the hotel, only stirring long enough to eat quite possibly the best meal of our London adventure.  The fish and chips pictured above may have been A’s favorite part of the entire trip.

Our second day saw some hardcore sightseeing courtesy of a fantastic bus tour from The Original London Sightseeing Tour. I highly recommend them!

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Tower of London and highly recommend the 1 hour guided tour from one of the Yeomen Warders (or Beefeaters). It’s free with your admission, really entertaining and informative.

Sadly, by the time we got to Buckingham Palace, it was too late to take the tour, but I did get to snap a few photos and shop in the official gift shop.  Next time around, tea with the Queen, clearly.

Thanks to a spur of the moment decision, I can say my first time ice skating was in London at Somerset House on my honeymoon and I only fell once. I was also only an hour or so away from being a pro, don’t let the look of panic on my face fool you.

We got a whole new perspective of London when we rode the London Eye, quite possibly the tourist-y thing we did the whole trip. But it was so cool to be able to find the places we’d spent the previous days visiting.

We capped off our time in London with The Lion King at the Lyceum Theater.  The show was fantastic!

Oh and here’s my obligatory London phone booth photo.

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